House update: We finally have internet & Garden Update

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Internet

Since moving in in October 2014, we have been waiting for the NBN.

It was not until a “complex wide BBQ” that I was informed that some people in the complex had access to a separate Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) system, that had not yet moved to NBN. We have now connected to that system that offers 200gb / month. Sadly after already 5 days of connection we have used nearly 50% of our allowance.

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All this for under half the cost of the 3G system we were using just to book flights etc.

Garden looking amazing

Frankie has done wonders with our small court yard. It is now both functional and pretty.

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Starting to feel like a real Scuba Diver

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I have now finished 6 dives following my PADI Open Water Diver Qualification. Of those 6, I have had to share air (essentially, I nearly ran out of air due to hyperventilation and excitement) if you would like to see this process, here is a Youtube clip showing the underwater process

I have now finished the final two, number 5 & 6. Only during these dives did I start to feel like a “real” scuba diver. Not just some one pretending. I was able to settle in to the dive. Enjoy it.

Here is a video of those dives (click on the picture)

“Diving

House Buying: slight stumble at the final hurdle

House Buying: slight stumble at the final hurdle

So close

So in the middle of last week I received a call from our mortgage broker who was asking if I had the approved First Home Owners Grant (FHOG) paperwork. I was under the impression that it was completed and approved in January.

Sadly I had that mixed up with the clearly different First Home Owner Concession.

With a crazy rush on Thursday this week to get the paperwork sorted. Fortunately due a twist of the Federation of Australia, while ACT and NSW have a public holiday on Monday, Victoria where our bank does all the processing for the FHOG so we may just have this thing settled on time.

In the mean time, here are some new photos from just prior to final hand over condition.

 

 

 

Working on my Fitness!!

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Working on my Fitness!

I know it may come as a shock to some of you, but I am no athlete…

I have just entered week 7 of the couch to 5km running program.

[youtube http://youtu.be/5T0utQ-XWGY]

If this fitness thing all sounds a little familiar, well yes.

I have been using the fitbit ecosystem for over 12months now. First the fitbit Flex which the band died after 9 months and there were little to no replacements available at the the time, so I imported the fitbit force which still does not seem to be available in Australia widely.

Throughout this whole time I have also been using the Fitbit Aria Scale. Because I love data I can see how many steps, how much I weighed or what my body fat as a percentage was for every day of the last year.

For those of you about to smash me saying fitness and weightless are different, just like climate change deniers thinking weather and climate are the same… I was getting to that.

If you look purely at the numbers, I am barely meeting my daily 10000 step count, and I have never had a higher weight or body fat percentage… however, 4 weeks ago I could not complete 2 x 3 min jogs with a walk in between, last saturday I ran more than most of a 5km fun run, and today ran 4.2km non stop.

For any one saying, I can't run - try the program, it slowly steps you up. It is not about speed - I am sure there are snails overtaking me when I get my little grandpa shuffle happening, but I am constantly moving.

For the uber nerds out there, I use my Lifeproof Arm band with my Lifeproof phone case, with Runkeeper and my Pebble smart watch ) to keep track of my runs.

Although twice now, my iPhone 5 has died during a simple 30-35min run. Before you ask, it is not one of the iPhone 5 models that are eligible for battery replacements.

Go on.. try it.. I dare you, better yet… take a friend or friends, other people really help with pace.

Try it Here

There are also many many apps available for your phone for free.

I am now a Student - God help us all

I am now a Student - God help us all

I have resisted it for as long as I could…

I have signed up for a Bachelor of attendance.. I mean Arts ( Internet Communication) with Curtin University in WA.

Looking at the subjects and units, I am actually really excited - most of them will benefit you, throughout this blog and who know what else it will bring.

As can guess, I live in Canberra, and the Uni is in WA. So the course is online based.

First off it will start with some introductory work for those of us like me that have shied away from formal higher education. That should start around the start of September 2014.

Stand by for more when I know more.

#ProjectSailBoat - Solar Battery Box pt1

Linked the broader #ProjectSailBoat thinking and dream, the idea of self reliance is big in my mind.

The ability to sit at a mooring for a weekend or more extended coastal sailing while making your own electricity to power marine radios and lighting or more creature comforts like CD players and AM/FM Radios I find extremely exciting. To me simply, solar is magic.

While exploring this broader idea of self reliance I was also exploring solar, power storage and the use of that stored power.

Below is a short clip I made of the basic system, solar panel, solar controller, battery.

In this specific case, it is a 10watt small panel, that throughout the solar controller (whose role is to stop pumping power from the sun into a battery after it is full) then through a small switch (panel isolation) then into a small spot light battery (9ah, 12v)

 

[youtube http://youtu.be/LYDxY-1qIiI]

 

 

 

Life : house is progressing nicely - June 2014

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With only a few months to go, you can really see it coming along. If you look back at the previous pictures from January when it was just a concrete slab, to April when it was just a soulless box. Now it is really taking shape. In the pictures our town house is the one on the left of the two mirror imagined homes.

While the right hand side has more sun, I am happy because the other two that were available are all extreme south facing with almost zero direct sunlight. 20140621-184912-67752175.jpg

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Introducing - #ProjectSailboat

 

By sharing it, it makes it real.

I have been toying with the idea of sharing this with you.

Since I was as young as 12 years old growing up on the far south coast of New South Wales, on the east coast of Australia I have dreamt of living on a boat. A sail boat in fact.

In my early teens I was fortunate enough to learn to sail on my mum's bosses' Endeavour 24 called Xanadu.

These small coastal and bay racers are quiet common up and down the east coast of Australia. I even saw one for sale recently in the trading past for $2000, was in overall good condition with a spartan interior.

A typical example of an E24

While yes, we are building a house at the moment, this dream has not left me.

I have been doing a lot of thinking about why, why do I want this. To boil it down to the base, I would have to say, firstly the adventure. Yes while it may not be climbing Everest, it would be my adventure. Secondly, the self reliance - wind for movement, the sun for power

You may have seen some of my postings on twitter (@wade85blog) on different solar projects such as the battery box etc. These are all linked to #projectsailboat. Exploring simple 12v solar systems, their layout and their setup.

 

Inspiration

 

I have spent countless youtube hours watching fellow dreamers turn their dreams to reality - you are my inspiration.

Here are but a few:

  • The brothers from SV Delos, while their boat may be larger than I would ever want, their sense of adventure and self reliance is amazing - they even have their own air compressor on board for scuba.
  • The extremely handsome young waterman Billy, aboard Tula- who's quest for the long summer, his boat, his passion is a continual push forward for me.
  • Drake, on his large cruising yacht Paragon, his videos were the first I stumbled on - many an hour spent watching.
  • Aussies Chris & Jess onboard their Junk rigged 29 foot Teleport exploring frozen Alaska and Canada, they are my latest stumble upon - 5 hours binge watching last night. While you might not know Chris by name, I bet you have seen one of his GoPro videos with lion cubs chasing his RC Car
  • Last but not least, another recent cause of me not sleeping well due to binge youtubeing, Nike, the stunning young German lady and her cheeky boat Karl. There is no end to her capable and amazing handy work.

 

What next?

Well financially my entire attention is fixed on beating this crappy requirement by my bank to have 20% deposit for my new house in the bank or they will charge be huge fees on top of my home loan. This is on track and going well - completion date is still looking at around October 2014.

Dreaming wise, I have been discussion with Frankie, he says he understands it's my dream, but where do I want to take it.

This has lead to me distilling the idea of a boat into 2 connected halves. I want the boat to be 'home away from home', meaning it can be some where to go and enjoy being off work, even at anchor. The second half is the sailing. It has been a number of years since I have actually been sailing so some practice is needed.

What am I looking for?

I started talking this over with Frankie too. It is looking like 24-32ft coastal sailor is what it is likely to be. Decent layout, my preference is with an outboard motor - easier to replace, less hassles with fuel and depending on the tender, it can be dual use. Budget is looking like under $10,000. I just need to get a better picture of yearly costs like mooring, mooring fees etc.

So there you have it.. stand by for more of ProjectSailboat.

Don't forget to 'Like' the Facebook Page , follow on twitter, or subscribe to the email updates on the right hand side of the blog page.

My Every Day Carry (EDC)

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First up, let’s get it clear, I am not a crazy prepper.

I love my gadgets, and I like to keep them powered!

When some one first sees my Maxpedition Fatty and scoffs, it isn’t usually long before they are back asking if they can use my charger for their phone or do I have a screw driver they can borrow.

I have divided the kit for the purpose of this post into: Tools, Writing, Charging & Cables, Medical & Boo Boo, Wifi and Apple connectors.

In the past I have written before about the kit that I use for overseas travel, such as my iPad Mini in a waterproof LifeProof case along my iPhone 5 also in a LifeProof case.

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I know looking at the picture above, it looks like a lot. I assure you, I use almost everything inside this case at least weekly.

So I will run through my different sub groups so you can see what I have:

Tools:

So what I have in this section is:

  • A tiny Gerber Multitool. I use the straight blade to open boxes and I really like the spring opening pliers
  • Stanley pocket screwdriver set – I like the former factor giving me 4 different heads (2 different sized phillips head, and 2 blade) all in a hard plastic pen body
  • Small water tight container that contains some spare cash and a pair of needle nose tweezers

Writing:

Nothing is worse than needing to take a note, or leave a note such as in the recent case of our trip to Horse Gully Hut - I left an emergency note on our car’s dashboard so people knew were to look for us.

In my daily kit is the following writing items:

  • The last item is a just a generic metal body black ink pen – looks less tactical.

Medical / Boo Boo kit

Firstly, I am sorry for this blurry picture, in this kit is enough things to just make me feel better, rather than cure the ills of the world.

It contains:

Tissues

Panadol x 2 tabs

An alcohol wipe

Gastro stop type pills or mouth dissolvable buttons

The only thing missing from this group is a bandaid that is normally folded inside the container

Now for the most used group of my kit

Charging & Connections

I am an apple boy, not a fanboy but an apple boy – The OS  does what I need.

By gosh does the iPhone and iPad mini chew the juice! Hungry little things.

The above includes:

A YellowStone short iPhone 5 lightning charger

Pebble Smart watch magnetic charger

Fitbit force usb charger

Small “BlueLounge Kii’ that I have shaved down to fit through the charging port of the LifeProof Fre case.

Griffin short usb connection cables – Mini, Micro and large apple connector

Plox 6000mAh usb external battery with inbuilt micro us charger

Belkin extension usb cable

USB power adapter from the iPhone 5s it’s small and easy to carry.

LifeProof Fre 3.5mm audio adapter so I can use headphones with the waterproof case on (the apple EarPods work without using any adapter)

Apple and Wifi converters plus USB and EarPods

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Now this group is one that is not used as often, but when it does – it’s a real saver.

The first is the white USB stick - this is a Huawei E355s-2 - one of the most versatile HSPA+ modems I have ever seen. I picked this one up outright from Celcom in Malaysia.  I pop a sim in, plug it into anything with a  USB port - the battery above, the wall charger above etc and it creates a mini wifi network.

I am a massive Amaysim fan here in Australia, in essence they are a 4G reseller of the Optus network. I have 2 accounts with them - my phone is on the 49 unlimited plan - unlimited calls and sms (in AU) with 9gig oData.  The USB stick uses their $99 for 10gig (lasts 365 days or until 10 gig used).

I can not rate them highly enough.

Also above you can see the following

Apple micro USB to Lightning converter

30pin to lightning converter

30pin SD card reader

With three items above I can easily convert any USB micro cable to a lightning charger, I know people will be saying ‘but there is a lightning SD card reader’ yes - but it is longer - on a short cable. I like the compact nature of these 2 items.

EarPods - these fit inside the LifeProof Fre case without a converter

Sandisk 4gig USB stick with tiny micro light - cheap and nasty - about $5.

EDIT: Update March 2015

I have removed some items, either because they no longer work, or are no longer needed.

  1. I have upgraded my phone to the iPhone 6 plus, with the Lifeproof Nuud case. Every Lightning cable other than the Apple provided one no longer fits inside the charging port so I have ordered a short genuine Apple cable (30cm)
  2. The BlueLounge Kii is gone - see above
  3. Fitbit Force replaced with the Fitbit Charge HR and matching cable
  4. Plain metal black pen stopped working so was binned and not replaced

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A massive 6 months!

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Starting around Sept 2013 I finished a 6 month rotation to Darwin, where I found a new found love of jogging and exercise.  I was lucky enough to meet great friends and go  to places I never would have the option of going to if it was not for work .

 

Read more about my time in Darwin here

Almost as soon as I arrived back in Canberra we were off again. Thanks to my  amazing partner lead me on a tour of his incredible country – Myanmar. We spent an unforgettable 3 weeks traveling the lengths and breadth of this nation. Even after all the sights and experiences his FAMILY was the true highlight for me. His mother’s warmth and care, his father’s intelligence and willingness to share and ask questions about my life too. 

A more in-depth write up of our time in Myanmar is here
 
Then the “ experience “ of meeting my parents in Kuala Lumpur and catching up with my good friend Ron who then joined the four of us traveling to Redang Island (Palau Redang) off the north east coast of Malaysia. It was the second time Frankie and I had been to the Lagoon Redang resort. After the ferry ride from Kuala Terraganu on the mainland over to the resort (where my father’s sea sickness came to a head) and check in, the island is really just a water sports playground. 
All expenses paid apart from alcohol and diving services. After snorkelling every day and also trying SCUBA I was HOOKED. The resort is a PADI accredited resort which means they have instructors and Dive Masters who can facilitate everything from the minimal training ‘Discover SCUBA’ right through to your ‘Dive Master’ qualification. Frankie, Ron and I decided finally we would try the ‘Discover SCUBA’ – which is essentially being kitted up and thrust under water. 
 
Frankie and Ron could not get get more than 10cm under the surface before pulling the pin. I managed to get all the way through the experience – roughly 15mins getting to a depth of 5.5m. I was so excited to be doing it I forgot to actually take my GoPro3 from the dive bag on the beach before getting in the water. 
 
Back in KL the ‘experience’ of travelling with my parents again reached crescendo with the all important family yelling match in an international airport. Don’t be shocked. Its rather common for my family. We get over it faster than our words echoing around departures. 
 
  
 
A more in-depth write up of our time in Malaysia is here
On return back to Canberra I started in a new role with a new team in the a new office. 
 
 Not long after our return from our big overseas adventure we decided to start thinking about buying a house. When I say thinking, we looked at one and brought it. A 2br, split level east facing townhouse. Requiring 5% down in Nov 13, and the rest in around Nov 2014. Perfectly suited for what we needed. Also keeps my NBN dry. 
 
 
 So because I am swimming in cash *COUGH COUGH* I then booked my PADI Open Water Dive Course. 
 
 I nearly didn’t get to do the course! 
 
The doctor was worried my lungs were almost not up to the minimum capacity. But don’t worry, I managed to get over the line. 
 
 The first weekend was half theory and half practising in the pool! I don’t know about you but I am never lucky when it comes to being partnered up in anything sporty, usually picked last. Well there was this one mega cutie on our group – and for once guess who I was partnered with!! JACKPOT! He was a great guy, sweet and innocent of the ways of the world. It wasn’t until the pool technique practising that my inner filter turned off. I couldn’t stop giggling when our instructor was inadvertently saying things with MASSIVE innuendo such as “ right team lets get under water, get on our knees and have some fun’ I looked at our assistant instructor with my ‘trying not to laugh’ face – which is hard in full mask and regulator in your mouth’ Sadly his mouth was level with the water and it caused him to inhale and cough with the biggest smile. The laughs only continued.. 
For those that are not divers, there is a requirement to learn how to tow your buddy should they become fatigued or injured, this cryptically is called the ’Tired Diver Tow’ which involves you laying on your back and your buddy laying between your legs face up, you hold their tank and kick – pushing you both forward. I simply said ‘ I don’t open my legs for every one this easy, buy a boy a drink first sailor’ He too could not control his giggles The second weekend was the in water component, unlike the current Australian government immigration policy, as it was under water rather than on water I can talk about it. The first day was 3 dives at 6m practicing skills we learnt in the pool. The second day was at a site called Toll Gates – read about that bit here
 
 
 

All was going well, a little too well.

 

I was getting ready to finally sell my maxi road scooter – 500cc – on consignment with a local dealer.
 
 
 
 
The fates intervened again. I was crossing an intersection with a green light, I stopped as a cyclist crossed my path and was collected right in-between my passenger front and rear doors. Causing $6000 worth of damage. I am insured however the insurance company is still ‘determining fault’ hmmmm. 
 
 
To top of a roller coaster of emotions. I was voted by an overwhelming majority to lead my employers Gay & Lesbian Network. A total of 1/2 of the overall votes came to me. A lot of pressure is now on me – some will say ‘its just a volunteer thing, no extra pay, why bother’ – It is important to make changes, drive the changes. You can’t do that from the outside.

 

If this was the last 6 months, I wonder what the next will bring.

Hopefully you will also see some changes on the site coming soon. I hope you will enjoy.  As always, please like, comment or subscribe.

 
 

Car Accident – Can’t both have green lights!

I knew things were going too well!!! Last Monday night I finally dragged my butt off the couch and decided to head to the gym. Frankie was out at dinner with his friends so I had the whole night to my self.

I ate, got changed and headed off to the gym. I have a membership to one of those chain gyms, one membership multiple locations.

Well I drove to my usual place and could see from outside that it was pretty busy. I didn't want to fighting some ape for equipment so drove off to another one close by.

I was in a turning lane and received the ‘green arrow’ ( the arrow is important, as against the solid green). As I was completing the turn a cyclist overshot the footpath and was about to cross into my path. I easily stopped in time, so did he - we exchanged knowing looks. Just as I was about to start moving off again and completed the turn a driver coming from the other direction ‘T-Boned’ me. Shocked but uninjured I pulled my car off the roadway and proceeded the time honoured tradition of exchanging details, I even managed to get the cyclist details as a witness.

 

What I didn't do was ask on the spot for the driver’s admission of fault - we can't both have received the green light.

Apologies for the out of focus, but photography was not on my mind when I took the picture.

The car has been assessed as requiring $6000 worth of repairs - lucky fully insured. The only sore point is that the other driver is attempting to claim she had a green light thus I was at fault - If this WAS the case I would be $625 out of pocket for my excess charge. I am still fighting with the company at the moment.

I am uninjured but the car will be gone for a month. The only real damage is that this weekend (exxxtrrraaa loonnnngg - take 3 days leave and get 9 off including weekends, ANZAC Day, Easter Long weekend) we were planning to drive and camp along the great ocean road in Victoria.

 

 

Becoming financially ‘free’ by having a mortgage?

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I know this is going to sound crazy to many people, but I am looking forward to moving into our new house because the mortgage will set me ‘free’.  For a bit of background here,  after I came back from Darwin in late 2013, Frankie and I discussed that we should start looking for a home - No rush - just start looking. Frankie found a new development online that allowed a 5% down and pay on completion. Sure it was small - roughly 50sq mts total for a two bedroom townhouse with small court yard and balcony. But for me it was the financial costs that really did it for me. We decided just going for a look -just a look.  Within 5 mins talking to the sales agent and seeing the documents we had signed a document promising to pay the 5% by the end of the week… we just brought a house within 15 mins.. Scary.

Coming back to the question of finance. We had the 5% to put down immediately and were required to pay the remaining 95% on completion (Nov 2014, roughly 11-12 Months away at the time). Speaking to the bank and running the figures  works out cheaper than the rent for our 2 br apartment with orange lament bench tops, laundry in our bathroom type. The new house is less than 6 mins from our old house. Unlike many first home buyers we are looking increasingly likely to being able to beat the 20% total deposit requirement on the ‘Lenders Mortgagee Insurance (LMI). Which is essentially a higher risk fee payable to the bank due to not having a huge deposit. The difference is about $200 fortnight. This is huge. The key here is that our home is cheap comparatively. You get what you pay for,  I know this. despite being a 2 bedroom townhouse, it would be squishy with 2 couples - Frankie and I plus spare room sounds much better.

Coming back to being ‘free’ with a mortgage - the freedom to me is the stability budget wise. I know what my repayments are going to be for the next 3-5 years, even leaving some wiggle room for a few rate raises too.

 

Cast off! - Cast comes off following bike crash

Today I went along to the Fracture Review Clinic at The Canberra Hospital (TCH) following my bike crash a few weeks ago . The Orthopaedic Registrar that reviewed my injury and my X-rays. He determined that my cast and sling can now come off!!. I have to admit I have been a little naughty. As my cast was a ‘half cast’ that only covered the top of my wrist and forearm and was then bandaged onto my arm using crape bandage, I have been removing the cast to sleep and shower. As I was in the Mardi Gras Parade on the weekend, I also didn't wear my cast during the parade. The biggest down side has been the muscle atrophy that my right forearm and bicep have suffered. Don't get me wrong, I have never exactly been ‘built’ but there is now a very noticeable difference between right and left biceps.

 

Using @pactapp to keep my EXERCISE promises

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I know this may not be new or even news to other people, but I am lazy. Bone idle. However nothing makes me move my slightly jiggly butt more than good old fashioned $$$$. Whether saving it or spending it.  Long ago when I previously had a Personal Trainer, my sole motivation for going to the gym and seeing him was the knowledge that if I was there or not he would be charging me $60 a session. So off I went.  Sadly as I could only afford to see my PT two times a week (dude, thats $240 a fortnight) I simply didn't go to the gym on the days I didn't have to see him. 

Fast forward to 2013/2014. I have started to lose KGs through a combo of light exercise and my tech companions ( the Fitbit Flex tracker, Fitbit Aria Scale and my trusty iPhone 5). I am hovering at around 76-77Kgs. Unlike in Darwin, where I was running and walking every day, hitting my Fitbit Target of 10,000 steps a day - I am lucky to hit 5000 here without additional exercise. 

This week I am trying a new app that combines my NEED to move my butt with the nagging and motivation of lose $$$ if I do not. It is PACT

Essentially I promise to go to the gym or use their activity tracker for more than 30mins on a set number of times in a week after ‘betting’ my self I can do it. In my case I said I would go to the gym OR get 10,000 steps on my Fitbit 2 times between Monday - Sunday or it will cost me $5, however if I do what I say I will EARN $1. These are all small sums as I am testing it out. I would be looking to move this to the $50 mark and 3 times a week if I see it working.


Do you use a Fitbit? How about the PactApp? Experiences?

Our new townhouse's slab has been laid

We were out and about on the weekend and dropped past to see how progress of our townhouse was going. Slab has been poured. I think I have marked it out roughly so you can see the ground floor layout..


Next I need to work with our solicitor to ensure that the First Home Buyers Grant application is all processed.  I forgot legal professionals still do things the extremely old fashioned way - using ORGINAL documents, no scans...most irritating.

First Home Owners Grant (FHOG) and partners in the ACT

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I wanted to provide you with information that I thought you might be interested in regarding the first home buyers grant and how it applies to a couple. In my case the property will be solely purchased in my name and the home loan will be solely in my name. After speaking with the ACT Department of Revenue they have advised that should my partner wish to apply for the first home buyers grant in the future he would not be eligible. This is because on the form he would be nominated as a non-applicant partner which means he receives the benefit by living in my house despite nothing being in his name. Obviously I am not happy with this but there is little in can do!