TJ’s Amazing Vision

My good friend Thomas Jones has signed up to do something quite extraordinary – he has accepted a volunteer position with Destiny Rescue.

This entails selling all his possessions, finding a foster home for his beloved dog ‘Winston’ and moving to SE Asia for the next 2 years where he will work on the ground to save children currently being exploited by the global sex trade.

Please take a minute to check out the link to his ‘gofundme’ campaign. I was inspired to make a contribution…I hope that you will be too.

https://www.gofundme.com/547ce6yk

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You can find out more about Destiny Rescue here:

http://www.destinyrescue.org/aus/

” Destiny Rescue is a grassroots, internationally recognised, Christian based, non-profit organisation dedicated to rescuing children from human trafficking and sexual exploitation. We help rescue the sexually exploited and enslaved, restore the abused, protect the vulnerable, empower the poor and are a voice for those that can’t speak up for themselves.

We currently operate our various programs in five nations: Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Philippines, and India. We also have offices in three donor nations: Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

We’ve rescued hundreds of children enslaved around the world, helped keep hundreds more from entering the sex-trade through our various prevention programs, ensured justice for those that have been wronged and have raised awareness to untold numbers. And, we’ll continue to expand to help reach even more children in the days ahead!

Destiny Rescue realises that human trafficking is a big problem globally with up to 27 million men, women and children enslaved in its deadly grip today.3 With that said, we’re determined to set captives free worldwide. As long as children are being sold into the sex-trade, and poverty that drives at-risk children into prostitution exists, Destiny Rescue will be fully committed to fighting for their freedom, restoration and offering them a chance to dream again.”

 

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Living in a basement: “It’s for the government…we pack bullets!”

Stories from the road

Note: This piece was originally posted elsewhere on 30th October.

Living in a basement…
(Sub title: “Its for the government…We pack bullets”)

Now, where was I?
Ah, that’s right…breakfast at Dennys.

After eating, I messaged Colton (my airbnb landlord for the next 9 days) to let him know I was heading to his address to check-in. When he found out I was on foot he was blown away.

Lesson

People don’t walk around here.
For starters, there are no footpaths.
Secondly, on the morning I arrived it was raining…hard.
Much harder, in fact, than I thought it was when I set off to meet Colton.

I graciously accepted his offer to come pick me up.

Home during my stay in KC is the basement of a share house.
I like basements; and this one is now stocked with enough trail mix, muesli bars and beef jerky to fuel me during the World Series.

As for housemates, aside from Colton there is:

– Gary, can’t say anything except he’s a young black guy, he doesn’t ever seem to be here. (UPDATE: Ok, so Gary’s name may actually be Dennis)
– Kelly, 19 yo Illinois farm girl who moved to the ‘big smoke’ of KC a year ago.
– Meggs, at least I think that’s his name. 50-ish. When I asked him about his work all he said was:

“Its for the government. We pack bullets.”

So…I’m not likely to be asking him any more questions.

Independence, MO

Technically, I’m not staying in Kansas City. Rather, my basement home is just over the city line in Independence. From what I can gather, Independence is notable for 2 things:

1. It was home to President Harry S Truman (33rd Prez) from the age of 6, and
2. It is now home to a simply incalculable number of squirrels

Truman
“Dewey defeats Truman”

And, being the US, it is a living shrine to the cult of the drive-thru.
Drive-thru ATMs.
Drive-thru pharmacies.
You name it…they’ll drive through it.

Personal Challenge

I’ll share some observations re: baseball in KC at another time and close for now with a personal challenge. One temptation that I need to resist is the pull of having breakfast at the local ‘Steak & Shake’. Their morning special:

Pancakes
All-you-can-eat
$3.99

How do you say no to that???

More to come.

These Things I’ve Learned

It is just over 2 years since I resigned from my last corporate job and 21 months since I had a regular pay check. Whilst life is far from perfect, it is infinitely better than it was when I was a slave to the machine. There is literally nothing that I miss about that old life. After enjoying some travel in the first few months post escape, life has settled into a pleasant rhythm. I feel both happier and more comfortable with who I am than at any stage in my life.

Why?

I have been reflecting on this question for the past few weeks. Here is some of what I’ve come up with:

  1. I have time for the things and people that are important to me. Before it was a case of spending most of my time doing what was important to other people and then hoping to pull together enough time-scraps in order to have an actual life.
  2. I’ve learnt more in the past year-and-a-half than I did in 15 years working in the financial services industry. After dabbling in yoga and meditation for the previous decade, at the start of last year I made a commitment to devote energy towards making it a permanent part of my routine. This has proven to be the single best decision that I’ve made for myself…ever.
  3. I spend my days working on projects and involved with people that are both interesting and matter to me. All this takes place in an environment where I am made to feel appreciated for who I am and not measured by how much money I can generate for somebody else.

…and to think that all this only took me 40 years to find. I wonder what I’m going to learn in the next 40?

Life-can-only-be-understood-backwards-but-it-must-be-lived-forwards.-Søren-Kierkegaard

More than just a race

A mighty impressive effort from my friend Michelle! Read a little about her adventures running across the Sahara Desert…

One step at a time

Marathon des Sables was more than just a race. It was incredible. There is so much I could tell you about it, but here is an overview!

During a six hour coach ride from Ouarzazate airport in Morocco to the start point of the race we were presented with ‘the roadbook’. The coach avidly scanned the book, I think many to see how long the longest day in the history of the race would actually be (92km)!

Eventually we pulled off the road, into the darkness……with head torches on we made for the bivouac to find our home for the week. Tent 115 ‘Yorkshire tent’ turned out to be a very happy place. The eight of us shared highs and lows and made fantastic memories – some painful – together.

So, these are the distances which we tackled and a few of the high and low points of each day.
Stage…

View original post 1,650 more words

Writing For Startup Hook

It has been a while since I’ve penned anything for this site. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t been writing!

In early February I picked up a freelance gig writing for a new Startup blog called Startup Hook – http://www.startuphook.com. It’s a startup about startups! What the team does is share profiles of startup companies that have the potential to disrupt entire global industries. With writers in Athens, Boston, Seattle and Melbourne we have a pretty good geographical spread, as well as a diverse range of personal interests.

logo2

Time will tell if this venture becomes a success, but the early growth in readership has been really good. It has also been beneficial for me to establish a writing discipline, given the need to produce 2-3 quality articles every week.

Whilst Startup Hook is not the only thing that I’ve been working on, it has generated a lot of fun learning about new and innovative businesses. I may also share some news regarding another project, but for now will leave you with the text from my most recent contribution for Startup Hook. It’s about an Argentinean company with plans to deploy a network of nano-satellites in low earth orbit and use the real time data stream that it generates to monitor a range of globally important issues.

If you like what you read please visit the site at the url above, ‘like’ us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Enjoy!

SATELLOGIC: BRINGING SPACE DOWN TO EARTH

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Elon Musk’s private space flight company SpaceX is not the only company with its sights set on space. The current revolution in space technology development is increasingly driven by startups. One such company is Satellogic, an Argentinean startup that is working hard to bring space down to earth so that we can better understand our planet.

Satellogic has plans to democratise global access to space based services by reducing current barriers to accessing satellite data in real time. It is hoped that this will launch a new era of planetary awareness and transform existing approaches to global problems by creating a constellation of nano-satellites that can deliver commercial grade imaging and data at a tiny fraction of the present cost.

Constellation of Satellites

The vision that Satellogic has involves deploying a network of compact, cost-effective satellites with the capacity to image any spot on earth every few minutes. These units incorporate the latest technology and are the size of “a desktop computer hard drive”, according to founder and CEO Emiliano Kargieman. It is estimated that it currently takes up to three days to take two consecutive photos of the same spot on the planet. This network, which will consist of up to 300 satellites talking to each other in low earth orbit, will then be used to stream unprecedented real time data regarding the planet. It is envisaged that this will include social conflict, natural disasters, commercial and shipping activity and various planetary health metrics. This is seen as having the potential to revolutionise the way that decisions are currently made at all levels – governments, businesses, NGO’s and individuals.

satellogic

The possible applications for this technology are almost limitless. A central aim is to help better address the management and distribution of scarce natural resources. Areas of interest that have already been identified include:

– Agriculture – Food Production & Security –  Energy Production & Pipeline Monitoring
–  Disaster Response –  Illegal Logging
–  Border Patrol –  Port Security
–  Critical Infrastructure Monitoring –  Business Intelligence

After originally planning to provide image resolution at a level of sub two metres, customer feedback resulted in Satellogic increasing the resolution to one metre. For those concerned about privacy, it is understood that the satellites will have the ability to photograph cars, but not individual license plates.

Making Progress

In 2013 Satellogic successfully deployed two satellites to help test key components of their proprietary technology. Those first two units – CubeBug1 and CubeBug2 – were followed in the middle of last year by BugSat-1. All three provided invaluable data to the company as it refined its design. Highlighting the risks inherent in a venture of this kind, Satellogic experienced a setback on October 28 2014 when the failure of an Antares rocket launch resulted in the loss of 26 satellites.

Undaunted, the plan for 2015 includes the launch of the next generation of prototypes. With approximately 15 satellites scheduled to be in orbit by the end of this year, enabling the delivery of the first commercial services, Satellogic’s nano-satellite constellation will be keenly watched.

LongBuddyRun.org

Today is National Buddy Day. A day to ‘band together’ to help reduce bullying in Australian Primary Schools.

Thomas Jones and I are ‘buddying up’ to complete a series of ultra marathons in the world’s most spectacular deserts to help raise awareness of this cause. We have committed to completing all of the 4Deserts ultra marathons over the next 3 years. These self-supported events are held in some of the world’s greatest deserts (Atacama, Gobi, Sahara, Antarctica), with competitors covering 250km over 6 stages.

In the process we will be working with the Alannah and Madeline Foundation to promote the amazing work the foundation does to keep children safe from violence. As part of our journey we will be visiting schools to talk to students and teach them about resilience and how to be a better buddy.

Our adventure starts with the 10th anniversary Atacama Crossing in Chile this October. For more details please visit:

https://www.amf.org.au

http://www.betterbuddies.org.au

http://www.longbuddyrun.org

LBR

Epicness Lives Here…..But So Does Stupid

Epicness, thy name is Macedon.

The moment had arrived. My first ultra-marathon. I felt like I had been carbo-loading for this day my entire life.

As Thomas and I set off with a field of approx 40 runners at 07:30 we had a plan to tackle the 50km course. When I arrived at the finish line (minus Thomas) some 9 hours later, almost nothing had gone according to plan. Plus, those things that did go to plan I wish hadn’t. It was NOT a good plan.

Still, I am now an ultra-marathoner.

I can honestly say that I enjoyed every moment of it…..except the last 5 hours.

What Went Wrong?

Our max distance covered in training prior to the event was 30km – 35km. It was important to move efficiently and conserve energy if we were to achieve our goal of arriving at the finish in reasonable condition (i.e. not empty). In October we will need to cover 250km in 6 days, carrying 10kg – 15kg in our packs. With that as the goal, we wanted to finish the 50km and (almost) feel like we could do it again the next day. This was not achieved.

Trouble Strikes

Thomas fell on a rocky descent at 17km and wrenched his knee. We strapped it up and pressed on through the 19km aid station before he decided he wouldn’t be able to finish. We then went our separate ways. Thomas had to walk to about the 26km mark before getting a lift back to the start/finish line. A scan of the knee is pending…hopefully nothing long-term. (Only 146 days until the Atacama Crossing!)

A Bad Sign

At around the 25km mark I started experiencing cramps in my thighs. This was unexpected. We had routinely been completing trail runs of 5hrs duration, at a faster pace, without the faintest hint of a cramp. My fluid and energy intake was consistent with training. The course was familiar. Conditions were perfect. What was different?

Well…in order to conserve a little energy, we had decided to walk a number of the ascents. These are climbs that we would normally run up in training, just to get an increased workload into the body. You don’t actually gain that much time over walking and it is less efficient when considering the additional energy expended. This seemed like a smart, conservative approach, in-keeping with our overall goal of finishing less than totally spent.

WRONG! This was a really dumb move. In my case I’ve spent much of the past 2 years training my body to be calf-dominant when running (as opposed to relying on the quads). The calves are stronger, more durable and recover more quickly…better for covering long distances. Striding up the climbs engages the leg muscles very differently. Specifically, much more work needs to be done by the quads. Oooooops, hadn’t trained for that.

By 35km my quads were totally bombed, with the hardest part of the course still to come. I managed to struggle on to the finish, but miles outside my target time of 7hr 30min. On a positive note though, my calves felt as fresh as daisies.

It just goes to show that you’re never too old to make a rookie mistake.

A massive shout out and thank you to Brett from TrailsPlus and the team of volunteers that helped stage the event. Especially those hardy souls manning the remote aid stations (40km, 45km, 48km). They had to wait a loooooooong time for the likes of me to arrive.

Key GPS Data

Distance: 50.5km

Ascent: 2,429m (most in the back 20km)

Descent: 2,464m

Calories burned: 5,966

Recovery Time: 120 hours!

In case you’re wondering how to go about trying to replace 6,000-odd calories, my advice is – “Don’t think. EAT!”

Photos

Registration @ 06:30:

Registration 06:30

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No. It’s the world’s tallest smurf:

World's Tallest Smurf

TJ doing his thing pre-race:

TJ

There’s a trail there somewhere (just before Thomas had a fall):

There's A Trail There Somewhere

Runners just ahead going up Zig Zag Track:

Runners Ahead

The Memorial Cross @ 31km:

Memorial Cross

Last aid station @ 48km:

Last Aid Station

Finish!:

Finish