4th & long…

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Today I went to the 49ers – Seahawks game, it was freezing but I was well prepared. As for the game itself, it generally seemed like both teams were doing their best to lose… and at times the 49ers were blatantly throwing the game.

For me, attending sport live is purely for the atmosphere, and it was there in bunches, the noise was amazing, the crowd entertaining…

except for two things I’ll never understand, leaving early & getting smashed. One lady was trolleyed by halftime & keept falling over, eventually taken away by a medical crew. The other, bunches of fans left with 9 & 6 mins to go with their team down in a close game against a good opponent.

As a sports fan you live for these moments, sure you may beat the traffic home, but you’re leaving a potentially fantastic finish (how many Rockets fans regret bailing early in this game) not to mention you’ve just payed how much to be there?!!

Niners comeback & win.


I mentioned it was freezing, I read in the paper this morning that a homeless person died last night because of the cold… preventable death seems inherently more saddening.

While I’ve seen & talked with a couple of houseless people around the touristy areas, they are few and far in-between. It seems that for many on the streets money is made by recycling, scouring through the rubbish bins for cans & bottles, then trading them in.

In San Francisco, you can’t do that around the touristy areas, the bins are padlocked & have special lids.

vlcsnap-2013-12-26-21h46m14s67I would have thought, having someone sort your recyclables from land fill for free would be a good thing.

During the course of my travels this morning a run into two guys who work with the homeless & we get to talking… the plan is I’ll follow a houseless guy around for the day, either here in San Francisco, or in Oakland, I’ll get to go through soup kitchens, shelters and some of the social services. The catch, this still needs to be ok’d by the boss who will be back on Mon or Tues (I’m assured this shouldn’t be a problem as it’s been done several times before)…

Oh, and I’m due to fly to L.A 6am Monday morning.

4th & long.

Do you leave early or stay in hopes of pulling off something special.


Low: Darth Vader has left my dorm… only to be replaced by the worst snorer in the history of humankind. Imagine what it would sound like to give someone liposuction by placing a straw on their belly & trying to suck the fat through the skin (sort of a reverse raspberry), now mix that with a chainsaw.


If I’m arrested for murder you’ll know why.


High: Great conversation with a gay-Iranian cab driver on life in SF, his parents moving after the revolution & culture.



The Rock

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Last night I went out for dinner, which I’m aiming to do at least once every place I visit, but financially most of my meals will make use of my newly acquired minimalist skills. Anyway I had one of these, it’s a bloody marry with bacon (because it’s not American if you can’t add bacon), it also had olives, blue cheese, beans & shrimp.

WP_001549Said beverage drew the attention of the couple next to me (much like it drew my attention in the first place), we ended up talking & one thing led to another… no not like that, honestly I wonder who my readers are sometimes.

Long story short, she works at Alcatraz & I’m heading there tomorrow, so my day kinda went like this.

Got up really early to beat the masses, my info had been left at the ticket pick up so I could change my ticket to the first trip. The boat docks, and she’s standing there, she says I’m with her & I’m one of the first off the boat. Everyone else goes right & waits for the boat to unload to have a briefing, she says to do the audio tour later, miss the briefing, obey the signs, stay on the path, head left.

I pretty much have Alcatraz to myself for the next 45 mins…


So while I can’t get into the cells before anyone else, I still have a blast wandering the parade ground & exercise yard solidarity. Not to mention it’s any photographers dream to be able to shoot tourist attractions without the tourists.
I work my way back to the beginning then do it properly, the audio tour is a must.

I spend about 4 hrs on Alcatraz, by which time it’s swarming with people (1000+ easy), then I head to the Golden Gate Bridge & shoot a couple of time-lapse series. I’ll add them when they’ve been edited.



On they way back, (it’s been an epic walk, 13+  km) I take some pics at the Palace of fine arts…



then stumble on to these tasty treats.


Ice-cream + peanut butter = Mmmmm….

Surprise: I enjoyed learning about some of the islands non-prison history, in-particular the Native American protests.

Traveler Tip: Alcatraz – get on the 1st boat, miss the briefing, you catch a later one if you want, head left (like you’re going to the smokers area but keep going). Enjoy, after that 290+ people are dropped off roughly every hour.

High: Sitting by myself in the exercise yard

Low: So I chose a 4 bed dorm hoping it would be quite, turns out there are two snorers & a dude with a sleep-apnea machine… sounds like someone is dueling Darth Vader with a chainsaw.


Paradise Lost

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Last night we had a new roommate arrive, he promptly left & spent all night in a strip club before returning in the morning. He’s a mid 50’s American who has to travel for business, he tells his wife he stays in Hotels & will call her from one the 1st night & then spends the rest of the time staying at hostels. Why hostels you ask? I didn’t but he’d enlighten me anyway, the extra money is for strippers & chasing tail (I opted for a different choice of words), oh & hostels are full of lots of young drunk *****

… Ladies & Gentlemen I present to you the nomination for the trips most seediest individual.

I’ve been asked a bit lately about the safety of hanging out & talking to houseless people, 90% of the time I’ve felt safe. There was one instance I didn’t & I left & that wasn’t due to houseless people but a group of others in that area.

What’s felt more unsafe to me is the random dude selling coke, or  sitting at a bar having dinner & the business woman whose next to you slips you her hotel key-card… that’s felt more unsafe than hanging-out with people without houses.

Anyway it’s my last day & I’ve found out about two places I should get to, one is just out of Chinatown, the other is a “tent city” in Waianae. Waianae proves to be too far away for me as I don’t have the coin for a cab ($80-100 each way) or car hire, or the time to bus… finding out about this place too late & not being able to make it, would prove to be my greatest disappointment of my time in Hawaii.

So I manage a quick visit to Chinatown & some of the surrounding areas. It’s strange to see empty basketball courts & abandoned playgrounds… & streets lined with tents.

I say goodbye to the “Houseless crew”, the group closest to me, where it all started I guess. A couple are drunk & don’t know who I am. Mark, who has never said much to me, thanks me & gives me a Hawaii bracelet (I’m not “convinced” it was purchased) I’ll wear it all the same.

…the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped

and these guys certainly live in the shadows. Mark was assaulted last night and his face is cut, bruised & swollen, he was asleep when it started, he had no possessions, money, or drugs…

he had no one.

We can’t blame our government for not looking after those in the ‘shadows’. When we can walk by without making eye contact, offering a hello or a smile…

Is life really too busy to take 2 seconds to acknowledge someone else’s humanity?

Someone once said,

Any society, any nation, is judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members — the last, the least, the littlest

We have a way to go.



Hawaii Looking Back: Hawaii didn’t workout as planed…

but it couldn’t have worked out better. Sure I spent a whole lot less time on the beach & in the water than I would have liked but I got to meet some amazing people, I’ve met some from different walks of life, who I could live a million lifetimes & not rub shoulders with. My life is richer for it.

I wish I could have had another day here & made it to Waianae.

It’s been cool to see God at work, it’s been cool to see the difference a little love & kindness can make in someones life. Walking back to the Hostel one last time, I run into a guy I’d spent a bit of time with, he proudly tells me he’s been sober for a day.

It’s the first time in 15yrs.

We never had conversations about it…we barely had conversations, I just sat & listened.

Of all the things we have to give others, I think ‘time’ is the hardest to give.



I’m off to the airport, see you in San Francisco.


My Live Below the Line Challenge: day 3

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morning person

5:40 am *BEEP-BEEP-BEEP* snooze *BEEP-BEEP-BEEP*… At some point the beeps of the alarm merged into the beeps in my head as if they were filtering out the words I was thinking, #*@# mornings!


 Meal one: 6am, Breakfast “banana rice”

1/3 cup of rice, 1/2 Banana + milk


The story of Banana Rice

When I was 6-7yrs old my parents were missionaries in a poor area of the Philippines, an event that would undoubtedly shape my life and ruin me for happily zombieing along in a consumerist society, although I’d still give it a crack for a couple of years in my 20’s and occasionally wish I could flick a switch & play ‘house’ with all the other grown ups instead of pondering the meaning of life 🙂

Anyhow I digress… the Philippines equals lots of rice. Often the next morning there would be rice leftover from the night before, so we would have,

“Banana rice”  – banana + rice + milk + sugar, normally served heated, my preference is with a twirl of honey or maple syrup.

“Chocolate rice” – rice + milk + coco or Milo.

Or last and certainly least, “Yuk Rice” – rice + milk + golden syrup + sultanas.

Shortly after we returned from the Philippines we moved to Wellington, where dad – who had left the Police – began working for a very multicultural church. Guess what, more rice! Often having people over for meals, breakfast rice became a staple part of our diet.

I haven’t had breakfast rice for 10+ years, so I thought the Live Below the Line week was a great chance to bring out an old favourite. I cheat, I don’t do it properly, I’ve been having it cold, I have more milk than I need, and I’ve been missing the added honey (makes a world of difference).


It’s not hard to make. How hard can it be when the majority of the ingredients are listed in the name 🙂

You can follow along at home…

Step one: add banana

WP_001371Step two: add rice & milk

WP_001375Now some people like to switch step 1 & 2 around, but it is my expert opinion that only the most experienced should attempt this advanced technique.


6:30am – midway through my walk to work in the drizzling rain it feels like my ears are going to explode out of my head,  they’re so cold.

6:45am – I get picked up by a work colleague, most likely moved to sympathy for how tragic I was looking.

Meal two: 11am, Lunch,  Take that hunger, today I came prepared!

1/3 cup rice, couple of spoonfuls of tuna

3pm – Still drizzling, I’ve been fortunate enough to avoid any heavy rain, a refreshing walk home.



I’ve really been enjoying the walking – apart from this mornings exploding ears

it’s great for the mind to wander & ponder

Something that doesn’t tend to happen in amongst the hurried busyness that life can sometimes be, or maybe we keep ourselves busy so we don’t have to stop and think…

I smashed out an hour nap, naps are the best! before I caught up with a friend. Normally we’d go out for a meal but that was off the cards so we just wandered in the rain pondering life, love, money & all life’s great mysteries.


Meal three: 8pm, Dinner “mix it all” & “banana rice”

1/4 cup of rice, couple of spoonfuls of beans, couple of spoonfuls of tuna

topped off with heated banana rice.


12:30am brain fried from too much study & essay writing. shutting dowwn  n………..


You can follow my fund-raising progress here.



My Live Below the Line Challenge: day 1


Day 1 will be the easiest, because it’s shorter than the rest. After coming off 4 evening shifts, Monday was a day off. My day didn’t start till after midday where I headed off to the supermarket to grab my food for the next 5 days.

Walking through the supermarket was when it finally hit home. There would be no salmon, no halloumi cheese, no coffee, no juice, no beersies, no Freedom Farms Streaky Bacon…

Freedom Farms Streaky Bacon is like the Jesus of food, it’ll change your life.

and I’m back… no eggs, I was really tempted by a large tray of cage eggs, but couldn’t do it… though I quickly jumped off my ethical-eating high-horse so i could purchase some bananas.

WP_001365Here is my shop in all it’s glory.

brown rice $1.60

Tuna $2.50

Bananas x3 $1.64

milk $2

Beans $2

Total $9.74

Which leaves $1.51.

I’ll need that for Friday.

Meal one: midday who am i kidding, 3pm. “Beans & Rice”

1/2 glass of milk

1/2 cup rice

1/3 can of beans


I made the picture big so I wouldn’t be as sad.


Off to a good start. Today was a car free day I made two trips clocking up 3hrs of walking, although it meant I didn’t get home till 11ish.  Fortunately I avoided the rain but was unable to avoid a snail on my way home, I knew I was hungry because the crushing sound reminded me of crispy potato chips Mmmmm…

I just re-read that sentence, to clarify I stood on the snail, I didn’t eat it. That might come later in the week 🙂


Meal two: 11:30 pm “Banana Rice”

1/2 Banana, 1/3 cup of Rice, 1/2 cup of milk… all mixed together.


Almost midnight, I’ll be up at 5.30am to make it to work for 7 o’clock starts *shudder*.


You can follow my fund-raising progress here.


Uganda: roll highlights

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For the next week I’m going to be blogging about the Live Below the Line Challenge, after that I’ll fill you in on some stories, thoughts & reflections from my trip to Uganda.

Until then here is a tiny-tiny glimpse of what we got up to, enjoy.


explore. dream. discover

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Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.                          Explore. Dream. Discover.

– Mark Twain

adventures, News

news: trips & updates

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uganda mapSome really exciting news… midway through the year I will be heading to Uganda & Southern Sudan for a little under a month with 20+ others, there will be lots of driving, avoiding mosquitoes, searching for clean drinking water, visits to orphanages & victims of war – land mines, child soldiers – churches, & the usual Tear Fund-aid agency stuff as well as some space to adventure a little & to take some risks.


It’s almost become cliché to say

I will learn more from them, than they from me

But I’m under no illusions that this will not be the case, after all what can I offer? I’m no builder, no engineer, no war trauma psych, no doctor, no pastor, no economics micro enterprise guru…

& that’s one of the reason I decided to go.

Too often it’s easy to rely on my own skill set, knowledge & giftings. All I have to offer is this, to love everyone I meet & a willingness to take risks.

I expect to be stretched, to be totally out of my comfort zone…. I can’t wait 🙂




and in completely lesser news… site update: I’ve done away with “Blogroll” & instead have “Blogosphere“, which I will use to share posts & articles created by others that I’ve stumbled on, stuff that really “pops” for me, the best of the best as it were.