Though a straight line appears to be the shortest distance between 2 points, life has a way of confounding geography. Often it is the dalliances and the detours that define us. There are no maps to guide our most important searches; we must rely on hope, chance, intuition and a willingness to be surprised.

Friday, March 06, 2009


One of Opportunity International's amazing ambassadors, Leah Israel has just set up a site offering the opportunity to buy some of the amazing made by Opportunity's clients in Africa, India and Asia.

This is a fantastic initiative, giving a direct link between people here in Australia and our poor clients. Plus, the proceeds of all sales go directly to fund Opportunity's work. In the words of the site itself:

"M8kadifranz Virtual Bazaar offers you an opportunity to buy many unique and beautiful items made by women and men, poor entrepreneurs in Africa, India and Asia. Together we can make a huge difference in this world! And it’s as simple as making a purchase.

There is no "middle man" with M8kadifranz. All products sold on the Virtual Bazaar are handcrafted by indigenous people and have been purchased at fair prices. All proceeds go directly to fund the work of Opportunity International helping similar entrepreneurs realize their dream and to provide mosquito nets through Auzzie Mozzie."

Please visit the site and let me know what you think:

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Pathetic Sharks Update

Well this is getting out of control.

The 'Bridge to Beach' swim - the big 11km swim that is my ultimate goal (in 2010!) - has now been cancelled "amid fears the water could be too 'bitey'".

Apparently the organisers had reports from fishermen of a lot of baitfish (shark food) in the water. And because of this 300 people due to be taking part next weekend are left disappointed (not to mention the disappointment for the hungry sharks).

I despair. We are such a media/publicity-driven society these days. Difficult though it is to be precise about probabilities, if you compare the risks of taking part in this event with the risks from any sailing, rugby or even running competition, I'm sure the harbour swim is relatively much safer. Why can't we let individuals decide if they want to take part in these things?

I'd hate to think that I could do a lot of training for next year's swim only for it to be cancelled because someone else makes a rather bizarre (and probably publicity conscious) decision that it is not safe enough for me.

Anyway, to finish on a positive note, I got my time for the 2km swim and it was 30 minutes dead, which I'm really chuffed with. An average of 45 seconds per 50m. Forget the spoilsports and bring on the next race!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Swimming with the Sharks (well, not really)

888 people took part in the Sydney Harbour 2km Swim this morning. The Chinese believe the number 8 is lucky and some people this morning were no doubt thinking that a dose of good luck would be no bad thing, given that yesterday saw the third shark attack in Sydney in three weeks!

Just to put things in perspective, every shark attack in Sydney makes the news here because they are so rare. But they do seem to have picked up in frequency recently.

Once again the attack took place at dawn/dusk, and it’s becoming clear that – this year at least – you are taking a risk with life (or more probably limb) when you go into the water at these times. But I have a lot of sympathy – surfers in Sydney are some of the most passionate sportsmen and women around, and often early morning and late afternoon are the only fit with the good surf and school/work.

I had absolutely no fear of a shark attack this morning, and not just because the chances of being ‘chosen’ were 888 to 1. If I were a shark I’d be staying well clear. With three helicopters in attendance it wasn’t exactly a predator’s ideal hunting environment. Mind you, didn’t the shark take down a chopper in the abysmal Jaws 2???

In fact, as it turned out, the only risks were cramp and jellyfish. Cramp was a definite worry as I hadn’t swum this distance since my shoulder injury last May. But actually the race went very well. I felt good right the way through and finished strongly. In fact, I was feeling so good afterwards that my thoughts started to turn again to the 11km Circular Quay to Manly swim… maybe in 2010.

And jellfish…? Well, for the first few hundred metres the water was full of them. It was quite magical actually. Layer upon layer of these symmetrical, pulsing shapes appearing out of the murky water as I ploughed along the surface. I think there is a similar scene in Finding Nemo, which is of course also set in Sydney! Despite touching their blobby forms on every other stroke, they seemed pretty harmless, though I did notice a few people getting treatment for stings at the end of the race.

The times and results are out in 48 hours, and then it’s time to look forward to the next race. I love this aussie lifestyle!