Tuesday, December 26, 2006

12 Days of Christmas

Extremely funny - sent by my sister-in-law Meenu

Monday, December 11, 2006

Alfred J Brown (21 Jan, 1919 - 21 Oct, 2006)

Some of you will have noticed a distinct lack of postings in recent weeks. This is because I've been struggling to come to terms with the passing of my Grandad and struggling to find the courage to attempt to write something that will do him justice.

I cannot say that I've come to terms with losing him nor can I say that I've found the right words to express who he was (or even who he was to me). In fact I'm writing this as I go, no plan, no direction but the time had come where I felt he deserved better from me, he had a big impact on my life and left just as I was really getting to know him and only a few short months after the twins had arrived.

"Alf" to many but "Grandad" to most of the people that I ever heard talk about him. He was an icon to all those that met him, full of life, always a smile and a cheerful demeanour, witty and sometimes a bit cheeky, occasionally cynical but never scathing; when all said and done he was a gentleman, a man of great integrity and unequivocal quality.

When I was young Grandma and Grandad were always a bit scary. It was without much enthusiasm that my sister and I would embark on a visit with my parents. Grandma was always very strict and never really seemed to appreciate or embrace my wit and sense of humour (but then looking back, who would have seen the funny side of a plate of boiled vegetables flicked meticulously around the kitchen). Sadly Grandma passed away in 1989 when I was travelling.

Equally Grandad didn't seem like much fun either in my early years, he wore a brown suit (even on the beach apparently) and was a civil servant (which seemed very boring to me), he did teach me to play chess though and out of the hundreds of games we played I think I managed one draw – sharp as a razor and gave no ground on that front – a good lesson, although I cried a lot.

It was at one of my sister's weddings (Yes I only have one sister - you'll work it out!) in Germany that I really came to appreciate what a legend of a man Grandad was. I shall save that story for another time, as that is a story in its own right, but suffice to say I found in him a firm friend, ally, comrade and fellow renegade.

What I'd failed to see all these years was that he was one of "us", he was a good laugh, he liked a drink, he liked to dance, he loved to party, he wasn't infallible (as some would have us believe our elders are) and he certainly wasn't the run of the mill “given up on life” OAP (old age pensioner) that you so often see. Grandad he was a live wire and got out of life as much as he could.

Grandad came to visit me several times in Malaysia, he came to my wedding in Thailand too (where he stole the show of course). In fact he had a special relationship with "Malaya", as he insisted on calling it, partly because that's what it was called when he was here after the war and also because he knew he'd always get a reaction out of someone - usually me.

He was based in Butterworth soon after the end of WW2 distributing food and basically helping the country get back on its feet. He loved it and openly admitted that when the time came he really didn't want to go home.

Another little anecdote about his life; he and Grandma were taking a European cycling tour during their early married life. Unfortunately the date was 1939 and they found themselves in Germany when war was declared. After a very rapid retreat they found themselves back in England very soon afterwards – unscathed I’m pleased to say.

Despite the horrors of the war, Grandad still spoke very highly of the German people that he met on that trip and even managed to meet up with some of them a few years ago. It seems almost poetic that I moved to "Malaya" and Angela settled in Germany.

Another little fact that the vicar pointed out at the service; Grandad took up sailing at the age of 77! How cool is that! Here he is sailing his yacht "Trilby" that he kept at Burnham on Crouch.

I could go on an on about Grandad and I know that those of you that knew him would not be in the slightest bit bored but for now I'll leave you to smile at the photos and celebrate his life with me - a man that meant so much to many - Grandad we love you and miss you so much.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Can World's Strongest Dad

[From Sports Illustrated, By Rick Reilly]
I try to be a good father. Give my kids mulligans. Work nights to pay For their text messaging. Take them to swimsuit shoots. But compared with Dick Hoyt, I suck.

Eighty-five times he's pushed his disabled son, Rick, 26.2 miles in Marathons. Eight times he's not only pushed him 26.2 miles in a Wheelchair but also towed him 2.4 miles in a dinghy while swimming and Pedaled him 112 miles in a seat on the handlebars--all in the same day.

Dick's also pulled him cross-country skiing, taken him on his back Mountain climbing and once hauled him across the U.S. On a bike. Makes Taking your son bowling look a little lame, right?

And what has Rick done for his father? Not much--except save his life.
This love story began in Winchester , Mass. , 43 years ago, when Rick Was strangled by the umbilical cord during birth, leaving him Brain-damaged and unable to control his limbs.

"He'll be a vegetable the rest of his life;'' Dick says doctors told him And his wife, Judy, when Rick was nine months old. ``Put him in an Institution.''
But the Hoyts weren't buying it. They noticed the way Rick's eyes Followed them around the room. When Rick was 11 they took him to the Engineering department at Tufts University and asked if there was Anything to help the boy communicate. ``No way,'' Dick says he was told. ``There's nothing going on in his brain.''
"Tell him a joke,'' Dick countered. They did. Rick laughed. Turns out a Lot was going on in his brain. Rigged up with a computer that allowed Him to control the cursor by touching a switch with the side of his Head, Rick was finally able to communicate. First words? ``Go Bruins!'' And after a high school classmate was paralyzed in an accident and the School organized a charity run for him, Rick pecked out, ``Dad, I want To do that.''

Yeah, right. How was Dick, a self-described ``porker'' who never ran More than a mile at a time, going to push his son five miles? Still, he Tried. ``Then it was me who was handicapped,'' Dick says. ``I was sore For two weeks.''
That day changed Rick's life. ``Dad,'' he typed, ``when we were running, It felt like I wasn't disabled anymore!''

And that sentence changed Dick's life. He became obsessed with giving Rick that feeling as often as he could. He got into such hard-belly Shape that he and Rick were ready to try the 1979 Boston Marathon.

``No way,'' Dick was told by a race official. The Hoyts weren't quite a Single runner, and they weren't quite a wheelchair competitor. For a few Years Dick and Rick just joined the massive field and ran anyway, then They found a way to get into the race Officially: In 1983 they ran another marathon so fast they made the Qualifying time for Boston the following year.

Then somebody said, ``Hey, Dick, why not a triathlon?''
How's a guy who never learned to swim and hadn't ridden a bike since he was six going to haul his 110-pound kid through a triathlon? Still, Dick Tried.
Now they've done 212 triathlons, including four grueling 15-hour Ironmans in Hawaii . It must be a buzzkill to be a 25-year-old stud Getting passed by an old guy towing a grown man in a dinghy, don't you Think?

Hey, Dick, why not see how you'd do on your own? ``No way,'' he says. Dick does it purely for ``the awesome feeling'' he gets seeing Rick with A cantaloupe smile as they run, swim and ride together.

This year, at ages 65 and 43, Dick and Rick finished their 24th Boston Marathon, in 5,083rd place out of more than 20,000 starters. Their best Time? Two hours, 40 minutes in 1992--only 35 minutes off the world Record, which, in case you don't keep track of these things, happens to Be held by a guy who was not pushing another man in a wheelchair at the Time.

``No question about it,'' Rick types. ``My dad is the Father of the Century.''
And Dick got something else out of all this too. Two years ago he had a Mild heart attack during a race. Doctors found that one of his arteries Was 95% clogged. ``If you hadn't been in such great shape,'' One doctor told him, ``you probably would've died 15 years ago.'' So, in a way, Dick and Rick saved each other's life.

Rick, who has his own apartment (he gets home care) and works in Boston, and Dick, retired from the military and living in Holland, Mass. , always find ways to be together. They give speeches around the country and compete in some backbreaking race every weekend, including this Father's Day.
That night, Rick will buy his dad dinner, but the thing he really wants to give him is a gift he can never buy.

``The thing I'd most like,'' Rick types, ``is that my dad sit in the chair and I push him once.''

Double-Click on the "PLAY" button

Simon says "Are these guys amazing or what? Have the patience to watch video, it will change your outlook on the day and probably your life - it will certainly bring a tear to your eye".

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Chris Flies in Florida

Well here it is, the Florida Ironman, less myself due to the recent shunt. Apparently the professionals on hearing my withdrawal barely batted an eyelid - now that's just rude.

Anyway my great friend Chris Wayman was there to suffer alone (well with 2191 other people) in my absence. Here are some photos and what Chris had to say afterwards.

"Hi Everyone,

Quick update from IM Florida. Boy were Gary and I wrong when we entered IM Florida expecting a hot flat race (as we were lead to believe). We arrived to hot sunshine and no wind. The night before it seemed a little chilly........but at 5am entering transition we were certainly shocked.

The air temp was about 5oC and it was blowing a gale. Gels had become solid and bottles of SIS we too cold to drink!! Standing on the beach watching the pro start made an April swim at Kingsdown look warm, as we watched them battle the waves...then we were off, again more like swimming in the channel (at least the water was 20oC plus). Unfortunately the swim was marred by a fatality.

After a cluttered transition we left Panama City on the single loop 112 mile bike course and we are still wondering how you only get 10 turns in 112 miles!

What made this worse was that the first 50 miles we into a 20-30mph head wind (think I prefer hills!!). A quick course but hard work.

The run was two laps around the beach resort and nature reserve (didn't dare to stop for a wee behind a bush at one point due to an alligator warning!). The support along the run was amazing, with thousands of supports shouting your name.

Huge thanks must go to our support team of Chantal, India, Kofi and Nikki.
A great race, would recommend to all, especially if after good ace and a holiday

Chris Wayman 11:16:09, 446 out of 2192 (1:12:10 - 2.4mi swim, 5:35:35 - 112mi bike, and 4:22:41 - 26.2mi run) "

That's Chris talking to me on the phone after he finished. If you could have seen me, I had a smile from ear to ear but was a nasty shade of green with envy.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Food for Thought


•First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they carried us.
•They took aspirin, ate peanuts, blue cheese dressing, tuna from tin and didn't get tested for diabetes.
•Then after that trauma, our baby cots were covered with bright colored lead-based paints.
•We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention, the risks we took hitchhiking.
•As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags.
•Riding in the back of a van - loose - was always great fun.
•We drank water from the garden hosepipe and NOT from a bottle.
•We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this.
•We ate cakes, white bread and real butter and drank pop with sugar in it, but we weren't overweight because......


•We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.
•No one was able to reach us all day. And we were O.K.
•We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes.
•After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

•We did not have Playstations, Nintendo's, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 99 channels on cable, no video tape movies, no surround sound, no cell phones, no text messaging, no personal computers, no Internet or Internet chat rooms..........WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!

•We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.
•We played with worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.
•Made up games with sticks and tennis balls and although we were told it would happen, we did not poke out any eyes.

•We rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just yelled for them!
•Local teams had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!!
•The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!

•This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever!
•The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.
•We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned HOW TO DEAL WITH IT ALL!

And if YOU are one of them! CONGRATULATIONS!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Bali in a Brace

As some of you might know I was booked to go to Florida for the Ironman there at the beginning of November. Unfortunately my attempts to see how far a human being can slide on concrete (and survive) put paid to that idea.

Instead the family took a break to Bali and here are the pictures to prove it.

Despite my apparent grumpiness we had a great time although it was tough looking after the boys 24/7 without help.

We stayed in a gorgeous Villa that Shilpa had spent weeks negotiating an amazing deal. I think they just gave up in the end and said pay what you want and we'll provide whatever you like.

The boys did their best to eat as little as they could and throw up what they did - little angels!

Daddy took the boys swimming almost everyday. They loved it, especially Seb. Sid is still a bit wary.

Blimey, how much of this do I have to drink before I can touch the bottom?

See Dad, I do like it really!

Nick dropped by a fair bit to help with the boy's education

Mummy did her best to keep her three boys out of trouble.

A good time was had by all and we came home positively exhausted.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Happy Diwali (Deepavali)

Hi guys,

We had a great Diwali yesterday - although I was on my feet all day (no maid at the moment; only part timers helping out), I managed to have a great day with Simon and the boys and some friends whom we had over for dinner.

I didn’t get a chance to take as many photos of Sid n Seb as I would have liked to but attached are a few of them wearing Kurta Pyjama - thanks Nurl (Meenu) and Ranjan - they looked sooooooooooooooooo cute (nazar lag jayegi).................

We are off to Bali in a few hours................

Luv n hugs

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I want I want

Now this is what I call an open water swim. I have to do a race like this - it's awesome.
Can you imagine the buzz you'll get on the way back in? Gimme gimme gimme...

Lastest on my Spinal Injury

Went for my latest scan yesterday where the doctor was supposed to be blown away by the amazing recovery I'd undergone. In fact I was supposed to be healed enough to remove my body brace but alas it wasn't to be.

The scan showed lots of healing but it also showed all of the cracks in the vertebrae actually growing wider - it was quite disconcerting to see actually.

Anyway the long and the short of it is that I have to stop doing any form of exercise whatsoever (I've been doing a little bit of spinning on the bike in the gym) and I have to wear the brace for a minimum of another 3 weeks but possibly another 6 weeks.

You can see by the expression on my face how amused by this I am. Not to mention my expanding waistline on how much I need to get back into action.

On the positive side my road rash has almost healed up on my arm and my leg is totally clear without any apparent scarring. Shilpa is particularly pleased that I've stopped oozing/bleeding over the furniture the bed and the boys.

Anyway, off to Bali on Sunday for 10 days to see if I can get really fat.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

In the Newspaper

Well here's a couple of good looking boys in the newspaper yesterday. In fact this picture was taken some time before my accident which is why I'm looking so much thinner than I am now (and without a body brace).

The article basically covers one of our own proprietary products that we're in the process of launching an various locations mainly around South East Asia but we also have a sizeable presence in Latin America and particularly Mexico.

Not sure about my dodgy smile - my fake smile as Shilpa calls it - I think this is the first time I've been in the newspaper without wearing lycra!

Friday, September 29, 2006

A post from Shilpa - The Boys standing up by themselves


a few mins ago, Sid n Seb stood up on their own in their individual cots...........

it was very very cool - almost spooky that they did it within mins of each other -

Sid grabbed hold of the cot railings and supported himself up and then after about 5 mins, Seb did exactly the same............

Sid managed to stay on his feet for about 5-6 mins happily chewing away the railing.......whilst Seb stood up for about 3 mins before falling.............

thought I’d catch it on camera and share with you guys.........


Back to Work

Well, it had to happen, I'm back to work now!!! In fact I've been back for a couple of weeks believe it or not. It was a choice of sitting home and getting a bit of work done or sitting in the office and at least not getting any further behind.

I've had a couple of days off here and there though. Some great friends came over to visit from Melbourne, Bob and Julia with their kids Alistair and Joanna.

The kids had a great time especially when they teamed up with Ian and Siti's little ones, Izyan, Nina and Alasdair plus a gang of others.

Also Ashley came down from Bangkok to lend his support too. We drank more wine than you can shake a stick at and ate more food than I thought was humanly possible.

I'm really starting to get fat (really - just like old times), so I started a diet yesterday. In fact I should be eating half as much as I used to as I am doing no exercise at all but I am ending up eating twice or even three times more! Got to get a grip. Anyway that's it really. No training for the foreseeable future, another 2 1/2 weeks before my next CT Scan and then we'll see.

Thought I might add a couple of bonus photos of the boys in their shades.
Hey dudes, let's chill by the pool.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Alive and Kicking

"Rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated" seems a very poignant quote from Mark Twain.

As some of you will be aware I had a visit from the Grim Reaper on the way home from a ride on Saturday. This manifested itself in the form of a couple of idiots driving a Ford EconoVan.

I was on the last 10k of an easy 130k ride with Mr Chan's group and the National Juniors. I was riding along at about 31kph with beautiful clear weather, on a huge open road with very little traffic - I was contemplating getting home and having my Maggi Noodles and my easy afternoon run when there was an incredibly loud crash as I was first flung backwards by the impact (smashed the van's windscreen with my head - helmet took the full force, I didn't even have a headache, but I still keep finding bits of broken glass lodged in my wounds); then rapidly forwards and down towards the tarmac.

It was instantly clear what had happened, there was no time for reflection, no visions of my life flashing before me, there was a flash of light however but I think that was the sun coming into view as I hit the road.

I confess to shouting out a futile "Noooooooooooooo....." (I've always wondered what I'd say in similar circumstances, my choice of words would have been "Oh Well Ay!" but I guess you're not at your literary best in such circumstances.

Several things were clear though, I was now travelling faster than my original 31kph, I was losing what felt like a lot of skin on the road and clearly the next step in this "Series of Unfortunate Events" was that whatever hit me was about to drive over the top of me.......

These were clear thoughts that went through my head, the last being the most urgently in need of addressing. As I was decelerating I turned my head in the direction that I was sliding in the futile hope that I could somehow affect how I got run over and perhaps survive. I was somewhat surprised to see an empty road behind me - now that was strange and lucky and I knew it. Somehow the van had missed me but where was it?

During the whole event I didn't know what had hit me and not only did I keep consciousness throughout I was very conscious of most details except this one. I didn't know whether it was a car, a van or a truck and didn't get so much as a flash of wheel, body or colour - it was only later when a witness provided me with the details that I knew my adversary's form.

As soon as I was stationary the very first thing I did was wiggle my toes, thank goodness, not only did they work but no apparent pain in my legs. Fingers, hands and arms the same. Head seemed clear but my back was aching badly and this so soon after the impact was not a good sign. I rolled over onto my back to relieve the pressure and waited.

This is when the good and kind people of Malaysia demonstrated their humanity and compassion. I am humbled by their concern and support. This began at the roadside and hasn't abated since. THANK YOU kind strangers whose names I do not know and THANK YOU good friends that I have known over the years.

Actually the roadside assistance didn't start off too well, as the first people to the scene in their desire to help and to get me to safety, tried to “help me” stand up to get me off the road. This I knew could be fatal depending on what internal injuries I might have and certainly could lead to paralysis as I knew something wasn't quite right with my back. I made it clear I wasn't moving anywhere until the ambulance arrived and the crowd went about making me comfortable. Water bottle handed to me almost immediately, helmet off, sunglasses put back on my face, bicycle pouch and computer removed from the bike and handed to me.

An ambulance was called and then the next thing I was asked was whether I'd like them to call a friend. Amazingly I recalled my wife's hand phone number without difficulty (which I considered a very good sign under the circumstances). They soon handed me a piece of paper with a vehicle registration number and vehicle type. Apparently a lady had seen the accident through her rear view mirror and upon seeing the van continue without stopping had the foresight and consideration to take down the number.

Moments later another piece of paper was handed to me with a name and telephone number of a man named Jafar. He said he'd look after what was left of my bike and that I should call him when I was better.

It was not long before the ambulance arrived (no more than 30 minutes and probably much less). I arrived at Kajang Hospital and was dealt with very professionally and efficiently which instilled great confidence. They took my details and called my wife to make sure she was clear where I was. As soon as she arrived I felt like things were already getting back to normality and off I went to have my X-rays. Soon after I was in the ward and being ever the optimist I assumed I'd be kept in overnight for observation of my strained back and then released - sadly it wasn't to be.

However, as I lay in the hospital a chap came to my bedside wearing a Newcastle United football shirt that I recognised from the crash site - it was my new friend Jafar. He'd decided to jump on his motorbike and come and make sure I was OK. It turned out that he rides a mountain bike from time to time and once I'd said hello to him on a ride to Kuala Klawang. Jafar then took my wife back to his house to collect my wrecked bike and then came back to finally make sure I was OK - What a diamond of a human being.

However, when my wife returned and couldn't locate either a doctor or a nurse she decided that enough was enough and arranged an ambulance to get me to Damansara Specialist Centre where a friend had recommended a Spinal Specialist. Upon arriving there I was whisked in for more X-rays and put to bed on a spinal board (simply put, a rock solid board to support my back - very very uncomfortable considering the pain I was already in).

I saw the specialist and was scheduled for a CT Scan on Monday morning. In the meantime I was told not to move or leave the bed for any reason. Bathroom visits were the bed bound portable kind but at least I was looking forward to the nurses giving me the sponge baths. Sadly I was horribly disappointed, firstly they insisted that these would take place at 4 a.m. every morning, secondly they didn't seem to realise how painful road rash is, thirdly they didn't seem to remember how painful road rash was from one minute to the next, and finally when it came to sponging my fun bits they gave me the sponge and said do it yourself!!!!!

So here I am flat on my back after a near death experience, everything settling down but contemplating what the prognosis for my back might be. A dangerous time to start worrying or even go into shock perhaps - NO CHANCE, from that moment on I had visitors none stop - it was fantastic (although I did have to repeat my story 1,000 times). I'd sent out a few SMS's to let people know that I'd had an accident and before I knew it I had people visiting me from the guys I'd been riding with, fellow cyclists, fellow triathletes, golf friends, running friends, drinking friends, work friends, family friends, my swimming coach and some people I'd not seen for months. If people couldn't visit they called and texted - it was amazing, Maxis must be wondering why the sudden peak in their business.

As I said earlier I am humbled and forever grateful for the support that everyone gave me in hospital and continue to do so now. THANK YOU, no person could have asked or expected for greater care, solidarity and friendship; I am truly fortunate!

As for my poor old back it turned out that I have four cracked vertebrae and will have to wear a body brace for a minimum of six weeks and cannot even leave the house for the first two weeks. Alas, Desaru half Ironman this weekend is a non starter and I am very disappointed that this also means that Florida Ironman in November that I entered a year ago is now out of the window.

I’m entered for Phuket in early December but that looks doubtful (we’ll see) so the next target is Langkawi Ironman in February.

As I hope my epitaph will read “Oh Well Ay!” – this sums up my take on adversity. These are the cards that I was dealt and this is what I will deal with.

My next and most immediate mission is to get the Malaysian police to take my statement. They refused to come to the hospital or accept my wife’s statement – they only agreed to see her after the intervention of the British Embassy!!!! They are refusing to even contact the owners of the van that hit me until I personally go and make a statement.

My wife asked what would have happened had I been killed – the police chief said “but he wasn’t killed lah!”, when she asked again he laughed uncomfortably. What we did find out is that the van is registered to a company but has no tax or insurance.

One thing the police, the owners of the van and the driver will find out is that I am very tenacious. Also I have nothing to do for the next 2 or 3 months so they all are going to get very used to hearing from me.

I’ll keep you posted. Also as time goes by I’ll add some more photos to this post so check back if you’re interested.

My final thoughts on this all – Should I stop riding because of the dangers? I have two sons now and I must think of them.

I’ve given this some considerable thought and I have concluded that if the dangers and the chances of death or serious injury are so great, then I should never have started riding a bike at all. That is not to dismiss the dangers, they are real and will not go away but to give up something that you love because of the fear of what might happen is tantamount to giving up on part of yourself, part of the fabric of who you are.

I totally respect anyone that has had a serious accident on a bike (or even a near miss) who has given up riding. It is their choice and is part of what makes us human, it is the instinct of self preservation and if this overrides the feeling of enjoyment then there is no longer any enjoyment and they must do something different.

As for me, I cannot stop, I must continue, I must overcome and conquer – whether this is to overcome and conquer fear or just idiots driving a van with their eyes closed – it will not be without some fear and trepidation but it will be with a smile on my face.

And what of my boys? If I wrap myself in a cocoon to protect myself, then surely I must do the same for them. None of us will enjoy the full glory that life has to offer – mediocracy, compromise and a life without a little adventure and danger is no life at all in my view.

Ultimately, they will come to their own conclusions and I intend to be around to offer my guidance and support – I will no doubt try to dissuade them from base jumping but if it’s the joy and freedom that riding a bike that they want then that’s what they shall have.

Ride safe and ride hard!