Sunday, 31 January 2010

Happy, shiny wheels

Took a tip today from my neighbour, who is much thinner and faster than me on two wheels, and hung the bike from the hills hoist in order to give it a de-grease and scrub.

Boy, do I wish I found out about that trick 5 years ago. A burdensome, filthy, back-aching chore was actually not too bad. Monkey even gave me a hand, which consisted of him scrubbing the same section of wheel about 50 times. I have this feeling I am going to apply the brakes in the morning and find that..... I have no braking power because there is still soap all over the rim.

I now have a clean, shiny bicycle - almost like a newbie. Except for the chips and scratches in the paint work, and the creaks and groans that it gives out every time a hill is hammered (the bike creaks and groans - I puff and pant).

I figured out today that there are several more indicators of newbie status. The first is the lack of a weather beaten look. If a cyclist has smooth, soft skin that is any colour but dark brown, then they are a newbie. I have the look of someone that has squinted into the rain/sun/hail/wind/bug swarm once too often.

Another sign is the legs. I mentioned calf muscles the other day - when a good cyclist is moving, their calf muscles start to look like a sock full of snakes having an orgy. But the thighs are also worth looking at. Size is not necessarily the issue - look instead for funny looking muscles poking out of odd places. You'll know it when you see it. A newbie will have the soft, round thighs of an office worker. An old hand has thighs that are as angular and chunky as... I don't know - maybe think Jesse Ventura in Predator.

The forecast says it is going to rain all week. Why on earth did I wash my bike today?

Slip sliding away

There's a great clip over at Copenhagenize showing lots of cyclists losing it on an icy patch and going down. Just the sort of thing WRX drivers would salivate over.

Had my own version of this last time it rained. We don't get ice down this way - never gets cold enough - but we do have concreters that love to lay the smoothest bit of concrete you've ever laid eyes on. They must buff it until it shines like marble.

Which is great if you like smoothe, shiny concrete, but not so great when you want some grip in the wet. Then I prefer concrete that has been bagged shortly after laying.

The difference with my little slide is that it was a power slide. Yes, hard to believe that I could put out enough power to have the rear break out, but I amazed myself and did just that. It was an uphill section with a right angled bend, and as I put down the juice to go up and around the corner, out went the back of the bike.

It whipped out so sharply, one shoe clip popped out of the pedal and that essentially self corrected the problem. With no more power going down, the wheel stopped spinning and I was able to stay upright and get the bike back on track.

It reminded me of when we used to do broggies as kids in the gravel. Great fun with a bike with a back-pedal brake on the rear wheel. Get some speed up, hit the gravel and then stand on that pedal and see where the ride takes you. Safety Nazis don't like kids doing that these days, as the dust kicked up during the broggy is seen as an environmental hazard. And it scares the lizards.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Is the west really a destroyer of cultures?

Every now and then, us westerners (and white guys in particular) get accused of destroying an "ancient and noble" culture. Coca-Cola seems to be the favoured weapon of choice.

But stop and think for a minute. Think about what has happened to western cultures over the last 20, 50 and 100 years.

British culture appears to have been destroyed since Blair came to power - that was not that long ago.

The 1960s and 1970s supposedly saw huge seismic shifts in western cultures - hippies, the sexual revolution, the green movement and so on. Australia's culture looks nothing like it did in say 1959.

My grandfather, who was born in the late 1800s, would not recognise Australian culture today, and I doubt we would fit easily into the culture of his time.

In short, cultures are changing and evolving all the time. They are undergoing a process of creative destruction.

What I find hilarious is that the people that complain about the destruction of the culture of a tribe of remote African pygmies are the same that demand that we must change our own culture (new flag, new national anthem, new head of state, worship multi-culturalism, erase the influence of the church, stamp out bogans etc etc). Even better, they are the first that demand that we stamp out practices in other countries such as female genital mutilation, which are cultural practices.

"Progressives" in other words are far and away the worst culprits when it comes to destroying cultures.

Separated at birth

Kae gave me an idea about separated at birth.....



Are we in a real estate bubble?

Here's an interesting equation to apply here in Sydney:

This is the kind of metrics that scream housing bubble. And keep in mind rental prices are more sensitive to monthly data because you are paying this amount out of your net income. No tax breaks, toxic mortgages, or any other gimmick. One simple rule when evaluating real estate is trying to figure out a home price based on rental income. One I use is the following:

$2,250 x 12 months x 10 = $270,000
We're currently renting, and the owner has had the place valued three times in the last 3 months (he's re-financing). We know what the valuers think the place is worth - we asked them.

I ran the above equation on our rent, and compared it to the valuer's estimation.

According to the above equation, either we are paying less than 1/4 the rent we should be, or the place is over valued by a factor of 4.5.

The price would have to fall 78% to bring it back in line with what it is renting for.

Ouch. Bubble anyone?

Culturally sensitive negotiation technique


video

That's gotta hurt.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Moonbat monitoring

My favourite moonbat, Mark Mann, copped an utter pasting this week from a cabal of angry westies. Poor bugger. It must be a shock to the system to emerge from the company of your hip friends in a Leichhardt cafe, were you have been discussing the evils of capitalism, to suddenly be brought face to face with the harsh reality of life in the suburbs. Or life out west. Or death out west, as I prefer to think of it.

But isn't that the beauty of the interweb - connecting the east and west (and is eastern and western suburbs)?

Mark provided a link to a fascinating report (if you are into these sorts of things) on how much food we waste each year. Being an inquisitive type, I took a look.

Before I dip into the report, just remember that it was published by The Australia Institute. Here is their philosophy:

Our Philosophy

With new dilemmas confronting our society and our planet, a better balance is urgently needed. Unprecedented levels of consumption co-exist with extreme poverty. Technology has connected humanity as never before, yet civic engagement is declining. Environmental neglect continues despite heightened ecological awareness. If genuine progress is to be achieved, conscience, equity and concern for the future must be the guiding principles of our democracy. Socially just, environmentally responsible and economically viable solutions are possible, but only if insightful questions are combined with excellent research.

Hmm, only rates about 7.6 on the moonbat scale. "conscience, equity and concern for the future must be the guiding principles of our democracy" - bleah, I want to vomit. How about liberty, prosperity and freedom as our guiding principles?

Let's get started:

Australian households are throwing out more than $5 billion worth of food each year..
Shocked? Well, let's wait a minute, get past the headline, and ask how that number was calculated.

reducing food waste has the capacity to deliver significant environmental benefits at no cost to government. Food retailers represent a major barrier to implementing effective food waste policies, since their profits are contingent on the amount of food sold rather than the amount of food consumed. To overcome this, better public understanding of the problems associated with food waste needs to be a priority for governments at all levels. Without considerable policy change in this area, household waste is likely to grow as incomes rise and the number of occupants in each household shrinks.
What an illiberal bucket of poo. Read that again, and see if you can detect the call for even more government regulation in our lives. It implies that eeeeevil supermarkets, who make profits (!), have to be regulated. And stupid consumers need to be told what to do.

Agriculture contributed 14.8 per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2007. Additional to the direct emissions from agriculture are the emissions associated with transporting food to the shop shelf and then to the consumer’s home. Further emissions are generated from the decomposition of organic waste. Food waste is an unnecessary and easily avoidable contributor to Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions and reducing such waste would, in a literal sense, deliver ‘least cost abatement’.
To me, this is why they published this study. As with so many things these days, it's all about global warming. We must be taxed and regulated and told what to do, all in the name of cutting greenhouse gas emissions. And in case you think I am exaggerating, here is a note from page 5:

The categories used in the survey were selected to permit the future calculation of greenhouse gas emissions associated with food waste.

In a note at the bottom of page 2, I found this:

It is worth noting here that agriculture and transport fuels are insulated from the government’s Climate Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS). Furthermore, the single approach of ‘price-based mechanisms’ in the CPRS appears misguided when people already act irrationally in throwing away $5.2 billion worth of food.
Is it "irrational" for me to throw away rotten food? Should I drink milk that has gone off, and eat chicken that is past it's used by date?

The average Australian household throws out an estimated $616 worth of food a year, which equates to $239 per person
For our household, that would equate to $1195 per year. I take the bins out each week, and I know what goes into our kitchen bin. I also do the shopping a lot of the time, so I know what food costs and what we are throwing out. I ran a few numbers through my head, and there is no way we are throwing out even 10% of that - unless we get an attack of moths in the flour etc. Even then, tossing out half a bag of weevil infested flour costs less than $2. I just can't see where numbers like that come from. We have 4 hungry males in the house - we chuck out almost nothing! The poor old worms in the worm farm are starving!

While it is possible to reduce food waste and, in turn, reduce the impact of food production on the environment, our results suggest that food wastage will continue to be a problem unless government takes steps to address it. In fact, without significant policy changes, it is likely to increase. The results presented in this paper reveal a strong link between household income and levels of food waste. Given expectations of continued increases in household income, it is likely that food waste will also increase
So getting richer is a problem, is it? So what is the solution - make us poorer?

Then we get into the survey. This is a ripper:

Q25. How many people in your household are vegetarian?

I surmise that because the authors found no link between being a vegetarian and being less wasteful, they said nothing in the report about meat eaters vs vegos. It would make me laugh if they found that vegetableheads in fact throw out more food than us carnivores - but I guess we will never know.

Most of the questions are like this:

Q17. Please estimate the original cost of rice, pasta or bread that was thrown away in the
past week.
  • Less than $1
  • $1-$5
  • $5-$10
  • $10-$20
  • $20-$50
  • More than $50
  • Not sure
Which is fine, except that everything is based on estimates, and the ranges are quite large. Think about the cost of rice, pasta and bread for a minute. We go through 5 or 6 loaves of bread per week, and all we toss out are the crusts. We're buying around $20 worth of bread per week, and tossing out maybe 30 cents worth - assuming crusts have value to someone.

A 1kg bag of rice is about $4. We feed the worms a few spoon fulls each week that the kids haven't eaten - maybe 20 cents worth. Same with pasta. Oops, not the same with pasta. We never throw out pasta.

The problem with the survey is this - it fails to ask you what you spend per week on these products, so it's very easy to over estimate how much you waste in dollar terms. It's a beat up.

The only way I can see them getting to the values they have reported is via this question:

Q18. Please estimate the original cost of any restaurant or takeaway food that was bought in the past week and not eaten, and then discarded.
We know takeaway is more expensive than making it yourself. If I throw out a container of Pad Thai, I am tossing out the equivalent of 4 or 5 loaves of bread, or 3kg of rice in value terms. When we get Thai, it usually costs us up to $80 to feed the family. If we throw out half a container of Red Curry Beef, that's the same as tossing out six or seven dollars. But it is a very small amount of waste. And in terms of a meal that might consists of 10 containers of food, hoiking half a container (5% of the meal) is not the end of the world.

In summary, I think this report is full of overinflated figures that have been created via a dodgy calculation and surveying methodology. On top of that, the findings are beaten up, confusing the value of products with the volume of space they take up in landfill. And it's all done in the name of foisting more regulation and tax on all of us.

A pox on this survey.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

We4pon vs weapons

I have been copping a bit of grief over the last few days from people who object to me calling the owner of this car a "weapons grade spunk monkey".

My issue is not with the car per se. I prefer an old fashioned V8. Rice burners like this are just not my thing. I also don't get the idea of drifting. I prefer to get sideways on gravel. Doing it on a race track is soft compared to doing it on a rough country track. But that is not my issue either.

What I took issue with is the fucking silly number plate. A car is not a weapon. A car is a means of conveying people from one place to another, whether slowly or quickly. My view is that only someone with an exceptionally small penis would acquire a plate like that. The car actually looks like fun. Almost as much fun as waking up in the back seat of one of these at 2:30 in the morning as we blasted through a red light at 180km/h. And then another. And another. And another. And so on. Such was my youth.


Anyway, I thought I would give Mr WE4PON and his pals a quick lesson in what real weapons look like. I have actually carried and fired all of them in real life, rather than in a computer game.

Let's start with the M60, which I carried for a few years. Almost the most funnest weapon I have fired. An instructor, who had stooged around the Vietnam jungle for a year and knew what being shot at felt like, once rated me the best machine gunner in our regiment. He might have been buttering me up, but I don't think he was that sort of bloke. I loved this thing. Less efficient at cutting down trees than a chainsaw, but much louder and completely enjoyable.


A bit of Plastic Fantastic - the M16. Not a bad piece of kit. I certainly favoured it over the SLR when I moved into driving trucks - much easier to get in and out of the cab with the M16. However, I prefer the thump of 7.62 when shooting something.




The F1 sub-machine gun. This was being phased out as I was being phased in. I can load it, fire it, strip it and clean it; but apart from that, I thought it was a chunk of crap. Fun on the range though. For Mr WE4PON and his mates, think of it as an old school MAC-10.


The FN L1A1 SLR. Lovely bit of stuff. I was a bloody crack shot with one of these, being chosen to represent my regiment in competition for a shooting trophy. Didn't win the trophy - I am good, but not that good. I still dream occasionally of stripping and re-assembling one of these. I reckon I could still do it blind folded.


The Browning 9mm Hi-Power. Didn't get to use one of these very often, but they're a fun hand gun.


The heavy barrelled L2A1 version of the SLR. Rarely seen in my day. Only got to use it once.


Enough of rifles and so forth. Now to mines, such as the claymore. I have lost count of the number of times I set these up and took them down. Fun to watch them go BOOM on the range. Enormous fucking shotgun. Pink mist personified.


Fragmentation grenade. Only got to throw these live once a year. They're much harder to throw accurately than you might think. However, I played a lot of cricket in my youth, and was the only person on an urban warfare range than managed to throw one through a window from a distance. I was very chuffed with that. Once you've pulled the pin, it's a good idea to throw it rather than drop it (which one idiot did on the range).


The M72 rocket launcher. Only fired a few. Good fun. No range shoot was complete without at least one failing to fire (dodgy firing circuit) and having to be blown up with explosives.


The Karl Gustav. Big heavy bastard, louder than an AC/DC concert, more back blast than Michael Moore lighting a fart. Able to suck all the snot out of your nose, and all the fillings out of your mouth. Great for blowing koalas out of trees. Not sure it is any good at taking out tanks.


The M79 grenade launcher. Excellent at pinching the skin of the unwary between thumb and fore finger. Recoils like an angry water buffalo. Lobbing a grenade into a bunker at 150 metres is a strangely satisfying experience.

And I was even trained in using one of these - the bayonet. If all of the above fail or run out of ammo, there's always the pig sticker.


There are probably a few that I have forgotten, but that's not a bad list. As Crocodile Dundee would say, "That's not a weapon, this is a list of weapons".

Is Gillard encouraging young women to be sluts?


The opposition leader has told The Australian Women's Weekly, in an article to be published on Wednesday, that he would advise his daughters not to give away their virginity "lightly".

It is "the greatest gift" you can give someone, he says.

Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard believes Mr Abbott's comments will leave many females fuming.

"These comments will confirm the worst fears of Australian women about Tony Abbott," Ms Gillard told reporters on Tuesday.

"Australian women don't want to be told what to do by Tony Abbott.

Discuss.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Garbage

We've had four rubbish collections since Christmas, and I still haven't disposed of all the packaging from the presents. The foam that shielded the largest present has been a particular problem.

In the Good Old Days, I would have dragged it into the middle of the yard and set fire to it. But these days, I feel that would be slightly irresponsible.

See how Green I have become in my old age?

Monday, 25 January 2010

The gleaming of the newbies

I got stuck behind this bloke for a minute or two today. He was having lots of trouble with his gears. He'd change up, then down, then up again, and appeared to not realise which lever controlled which gear set.


After 20 seconds or so, I figured he must be a newbie. His bike shone like crystal. His rear gear set was silver and gleaming (mine is black and crusty). His bike glided along silently - mine creaks and groans from 5 years of abuse and a dozen untightened bolts and worn out bearings.

His shoes were also shiny, whilst mine are scuffed and filthy. His shorts and jersey were also new and shiny - my jersey is pilled to death and my nicks are one fart short of this.

The kicker was his untoned calf muscles - serious roadies have calves that look like a sock full of snakes on speed.

At least he is giving it a go, so good luck to him. We all started out this way. I wonder if in five years time, he'll be zipping around on a creaking and slightly rusted and battle scarred bike, having worn out countless tyres and thinking, "That used to be me".

I hate people who cant rite proper

Google search must have chucked a few links in the direction of some rice burning revheads this week. I collected two comments on a post that I put up in October last year.

Pity the yung cretans cant spel nor rite proper.

What annoys this "peasant" is that the taxes he pays are sufficient to support at least a village full of idiots like these. It's on nights like these that I want to burn down the village and do my best Vlad the Impaler impersonation.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

No, he needs to be in prison

From the SMH today:

Corporate regulators have launched an inquiry after a year 8 student engineered a $200,000 money laundering scam through some of Australia's leading banks.

The boy, 17, from the NSW South Coast, who cannot be named for legal reasons, obtained dozens of bank accounts and debit cards to aid a three-year crime spree. When his mother begged the banks to ban him, they ignored her or refused to discuss it.

In 2008, the teen was charged with eight counts of fraud. While on bail, he reoffended 10 times. Yet to this day he has served only a week in detention. His mother feared the only way to stop him was to contact all the banks.

What my son needs right now is a psychologist - and for the banks to accept liability.'

Sorry lady, your son needs to be locked up.

Bikes and knobs

I was looking at these photos today and trying to think why on earth I took them in the first place. What was it about these people that caught my eye?

With this bloke, I eventually worked out that I was intrigued by the upturned handlebar extensions. Not sure how those are supposed to work.


This one is easy - it shows part of a train of cyclists crossing the Pyrmont Bridge. One of the tricks that newbie commuters have to learn is the idea of getting into single file with complete strangers. The default mental condition for pedestrians crossing this bridge is for them to walk around aimlessly, changing direction without warning at the drop of a hat. In order to cut through the clutter, cyclists gather together in a train (or a snake) and play follow the leader. Woe to the pedestrian that decides to try and cut across the train whilst looking at their iPod and trying to find a better song.


The driver of this car came flying up behind me and then cut rudely in front of me about 10 feet short of the lights. I looked in the back window, and to my surprise, the driver was closer to 90 than 19. Lots of grey hair and wrinkles. When the light when green, they took off on the edge of burning rubber. I've been menaced by absent minded grannies before, but never cut up by a speeding bogan grannie.


Ah, my favourite variety of P-plate teenager. He's got an old Toyota Seca that lacks sufficient grunt to pull the skin off a fresh custard, but he's still removed all the identifying badges so that we might think he's driving a Shelby Cobra. The bog-standard grannie exhaust has been replaced by something the diameter of a space shuttle rocket booster. I love it when these pathetic lawn mowers take off at the lights - they launch like a one cylinder soviet tractor running on rancid sunflower oil. TWX 666 - you are the "knob of the week".


Early morning skinny buggers

My morning jaunt into work usually kicks off around 0700hrs. I had to wind that back a bit this week due to bastards booking earlier than usual meetings. That meant that I was hitting the Bay Run around 0630 or earlier.

Big deal, you say.

Well, normally I'd say that too.

Except I noticed one significant difference between those running and walking at 0630 and those doing the same at 0730.

About 10 kilos.

The only people up and about at 0630 were the very fit, skinny looking people. Those plodding around at 0730 were also pretty fit looking (compared to the average non-exercising tub of lard), but it was like the difference between your average gym junkie body builder and Arnie in his prime.

The only thing I can discern from that observation is that it's possible that the early risers and skinnier because they exercise for longer. If both groups need to be at work at say 0830, someone getting up half an hour earlier will crank out 2.5 extra hours of exercise and sweat per week. Over the course of a few months, that adds up. Or subtracts. Take your pick.

So if you want to lose weight, set the alarm for really early and walk much further than you normally would. Pretty simple concept.

Just hard to put into practice when the alarm goes off at Oh-dark-hundred.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Cruel

A doctor convicted of assaulting two cyclists in Brentwood by driving in front of them and slamming on his brakes was sentenced today to five years in prison, ending a case a judge described as a wake-up call about tensions between cyclists and motorists on Los Angeles' streets.

Read the whole thing.

They do things differently in the US.

Thompson was convicted of mayhem, assault with a deadly weapon -- his car -- and other serious charges. Jurors also found him guilty of reckless driving in an earlier incident in which prosecutors said he tried to hurt two other cyclists. He faced a maximum sentence of 10 years.
Over here, the usual punishment is to be whipped soundly with a wet lettuce leaf. If judges over here would mete out this kind of justice, I would feel less desire to carry a sidearm with me when riding.

Wierd

Had a very odd experience at the shops today.

Correction - make that two.

First one was that I was the only adult in the entire mall without a visible tattoo. I have long harbored the thought that publicly visible tattoos belong on three classes of people - sailors, criminals and prostitutes. I wish they had stayed that way. I was looking at the hipsters in their Green Day type black T-shirts with their Green Day type tattoos as they fed a banana to their 18 month old offspring; and I wondered, when they were getting inked up and hip, did they think they would be standing around in a mall a few years later feeding fruit to their offspring whilst their better half went nappy shopping? Life as a middle aged hipster must truly suck.



Second one was the mathematical ignorance of the masses. The woman in front of me at the checkout was buying three items at $5.69 each. The checkout chick (who happened to be a bloke) fed them through the scanner and announced that the total owing was seventeen dollars and five cents (the 7 being rounded down due to Australia no longer having one and two cent coins).

The woman became very agitated, and announced that "The price must be fifteen dollars something, as she bought three items for five dollars something".

It took me about one second to verify in my head that the cash register was in fact correct, and the woman was a moron. On closer inspection, she had a prison-type tattoo stating "nick" on one arm (a very ex-lover?) and a couple of other prison-type tats on the other arm. I reckon she was in her late 30's, but looked like she was late 40's. She had the shakes too - perhaps the effects of long term drug abuse?

The check out bloke restated the amount, took the offered twenty and gave her back the correct change. She collected her items, then stood at the end of the checkout adding up the change in her hand and looking at her receipt and visibly shaking. I could tell she was waiting for me to finish my transaction before launching into the checkout bloke. It was plain as day what was coming. I paid up and shot through, declining to get involved.

The thing is, at least she was able to multiply 3 times 5, which is more than most high school students can achieve today.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

food, drink, sleep

When you do 90 minutes of reasonably intense exercise per day, your thoughts very quickly turn to food. I have not had time to watch any of the Tour Down Under this year, but I bet the riders spend their 3-4 hours per day in the saddle thinking about what they are going to have for dinner that night. When you are burning lots of calories, replacing them is the top item on the agenda.

When I started riding to work 5 years ago, I wasn't blogging, so I had nothing to distract me in the morning. I'd get up, do the usual ablutions, dress and leave. It was sometimes 10 minutes from eyes opening to front door opening.

Blogging killed all that. When I get up now, my first stop is the computer to see if Paco has updated overnight. He usually has, and I am then stuck there for half an hour whilst I catch up on the latest stuff. Once that became a habit, I started having a few slices of toast and a coffee at my desk.

After a while, the reasoning behind that was turned on its head. Suddenly, I had to have toast and coffee before a ride (lining the stomach etc etc), and if I was going to eat toast, I might as well eat it in front of a few blogs.

That all changed last week when I had to do a fasting blood test. That meant no toast and coffee before riding down to the medical clinic for a jab and a bit of bleeding into a tube. I thought the lack of a few carbs in the morning was going to kill me, but to my astonishment, not only did I feel great on the ride, but due to the detour for the blood draining experience, it was significantly longer than my usual route.

I've now ditched the pre-ride coffee, and have only one slice of toast before shooting out the door. That bit of toast has nothing to do with the ride - it's in case I arrive at the office and find a disaster has happened overnight and I don't get a chance to eat until lunchtime.

Several days went past this week with no coffee at all for the entire day, and I didn't miss it at all.

Then came today. Broken night's sleep (kids - explains everything). Feeling a bit shagged towards the end of the week after some mildly competitive commuting. It was time for coffee. Aaaaaah. I can live without it at the start of the week, but it's a must by the time the week is coming to an end.

Most bodacious food reviews I have seen in ages

A stunning new addition to my blogroll - except I really don't know where to park it: he needs food. Sounds just like me.

I am kicking myself that I started reading the restaurant reviews after having dinner. If I'd known about this earlier, I would be departing Newtown about now with a gut full of Indian grub.

The photos are all his own work too, and they're about eleventy zillion times better than anything I have ever produced in my life.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

save the surprises for halloween

Watch for the kid. Wait for it, wait for it...

video

That kid was about an inch from being flattened in a way that would shock and awe his parents.

I hate people who do keep their dogs at heel

What is it about some dog owners? Do they like their pets, or are they trying to get them killed? I refer to the idiotic woman with the arse like a funicular who walks on one side of the path and allows her dog to walk on the other side. It wouldn't be too bad - if there wasn't a freaking leash connecting the two of them.


This short clips shows the type of traffic mayhem that I was faced with tonight - dodging and weaving through the dogs and pedestrians and other cyclists. I normally ride when there aren't that many people around - I had to work later than usual tonight, and I found myself in the non-motorised equivalent of rush hour. Lucky to make it home alive.

video

Monday, 18 January 2010

Monday photos

A couple of badly exposed, badly taken photos to start the week. We start with the first of a number of libertarians that I saw today - people cycling without helmets. The local Safety Nazis insist that we don proper headgear before venturing out for a quiet peramble around the locality. The forces of resistance appear to be gathering - as well as seeing a lot more cyclists on the road these days, I'm seeing more who are going nude up top. No plastic covers for them.

That said, this guy was a complete pansy who went up hills like a blanc mange.


The Electric Guy. I followed him for a short distance, and noted that whenever he hit a slope of some sort, I could hear a whine from his bike. When I got alongside, I could see the huge silver battery on the front tube of his frame - you can see the top half of it behind his right leg. Having power assist is a great way to avoid arriving at work in a sweaty lather (like me, with sweat generally dripping off my nose onto the carpet), but why ride if you're not going to do it in order to get the blood circulating at high speed? It's like having sex with an inner tube wrapped around your knob.


Courier vs cyclists

Yesterday I put up a short video of a courier or tradesman displaying the "going back to my car" method of dooring a cyclist. Today, we have the alternative - the "getting out of my car" method. In this instance, the very busy courier, who is too busy to bother looking before opening his door, nearly takes out two cyclists. Whilst parked illegally in a cycle lane.

video

The quality of this video is too poor to capture his first attempt at taking out the cyclists. He threw the doors open just as the lead cyclist tried to get around his van, and then pulled it closed to allow them past before chucking it open again - all you see here is the second hurling open of the door.

I should have let his tyres down as he ran across the road through the traffic to deliver a box to a cafe on the corner.

Guilty, and he knew it too

If there is one thing more annoying than a taxi being driven erratically or aggressively it's a taxi stopped in a very silly place. Like good old T 3212 here, stopped this morning in the No Stopping zone at the bottom of the ANZAC Bridge pedestrian/bike ramp. Taxis do this from time to time - even though the council has taken the trouble to paint a solid yellow line along the kerb to make it stunningly bleedingly obvious to anyone but the totally visually impaired that you are not to stop a car here.


There is a driveway just up the path a bit where you can still get off the path, but taking that route sometimes means dicing with residents who are tearing out of their underground car park. If the RTA and council wanted us to use the bloody car park ramp, the wouldn't have bothered building a ramp in this exact spot specifically for cyclists wanting to get onto the bridge.

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It's not unknown for very peeved cyclists to slap the panel of taxis parked in this very spot. That of course only infuriates the drivers who feel that they have a God-given right to stop wherever they like, regardless of how inconvenient and dangerous their chosen spot turns out to be.

As the taxi is stopped on a steep hill that leads down to the Fish Markets and then the harbour, my preference would be to cut the brake lines and let gravity take its inexorable course.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Not a good day to be on two wheels

Two wheels of the motorised kind that is.

Whilst going on a shopping trip, I spotted an entire fleet of emergency vehicles parked on an on-ramp to the Gladesville Bridge. There must have been three ambulances and 4 or 5 Police cars. All I could see was one motorbike on its side. No sign of any other mangled vehicles. Either that motorbike was carrying 6 passengers, or the other vehicles involved were lost in a sea of flashing lights.

We came back a different way, which involved crossing the Harbour Bridge instead. One lane was blocked due to a crash, and as we went past a tow truck, I saw it was being loaded with a scooter. Again, no sign of any bingled cars in the vicinity.

Maybe it was a good day to be on two wheels, and a bad day to be coming off them.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Greens having problems doing maths

The top link on my sidebar goes to Mark Mann, a relatively new green blogger at the Daily Telegraph.

I'm not sure where they found him, but he manages to put his foot in it in almost every post.

Take this one before Christmas, where he said:

I’m in England at the moment… an opinion poll for The Guardian yesterday found 95 per cent of Britons believe humans are warming the planet.

But in the same poll, 45 per cent said climate change was important but politicians “must not lose sight of the need to maintain human prosperity”.
Thanks to the Evil Google, it took me about 2 minutes to find the Grauniad article that he was referring to. Here are the charts that went with it.


The interesting thing is that the original poll in the Grauniad said no such thing as "95 per cent of Britons believe humans are warming the planet".

  • 5% said the planet is not getting warmer.
  • 6% said they didn’t know.
  • 33% said planet getting warmer due to natural forces.
  • 56% said humans are to blame.

Big difference between 95% and 56%.

Mark must have gone to the same school as Al Gore. What a cretan*.

*Yes, I know this is the wrong spelling. It's an in-joke.

Not understanding the road rules

If there is one thing I expect a taxi driver to know, it's the road rules. From my observations as a cyclist, driver and taxi passenger, either a lot of drivers don't know the rules, or they just can't be arsed following them. I'd be interested to know what the case is.

Here's a simple one - note the red "no stopping" sign in the top left hand corner, and the taxi conveniently stopped in the cycle lane. If I dared to stop in a taxi zone, I am sure that half a dozen taxi drivers would beat me to death.


And just to show that T 1652 is in fact stopped, here's another photo taken a few seconds later, showing the hazard lights blinking.


Taxis are allowed to stop in "no stopping" zones, but only in the Sydney Central taxi district. I'm afraid that starts about 3km east of here.

On to more pleasant things, here is another cyclist with a Global Corporate Challenge backpack.

That is all.

How to door a cyclist in a few simple steps

Even with the proliferation of cycle lanes, those of us on two wheels face the constant daily hazard of being doored. That goes for motorcyclists as well. Here's a simple guide to how to do it.

Step 1 - walk out from in front of your van without bothering to look around the corner before you step out. This by the way is a great way to get hit by passing taxis.


As you walk to the driver's door, don't bother looking up at the traffic. Even better have your head down as you chat on your mobile phone.


Don't bother looking at the traffic as you open the door. Just ignore everything that is happening on the road behind you.


Throw the door open as rapidly as possible and even better, step backwards onto the road into the path of passing traffic.


Here's a quick video of the same event. As this happens fairly regularly, I don't get complacent when in the saddle and am constantly on the lookout for idiots like this. However, given that all this unfolded in just a few seconds, it just shows how even a moment's inattention can lead to disaster.

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Confusion

Some sort of guided walking tour crossing the bridge. Most of them stayed on their side of the path, but a few decided to wander into my lane for a look over the edge. Fair enough, but none of them bothered to look my way before walking into the "traffic". Much frantic arm waving, yelling and in the end - pulling - took place to avoid a collision. My perils don't start and stop with taxis.

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Friday, 15 January 2010

Taxi 960 - impatient bugger

What is it about Friday bringing out the fuckwits?

Especially taxi drivers.

Here's a snap of the taxi T 960 illegally overtaking me this morning by crossing over a double white line to get around me. He'd been behind me at the red light just back down the hill, and was obviously unimpressed with my acceleration, for no sooner was I across the intersection than he blatted around me. At least he gave me a wide berth, which is a nice change.


Didn't do him any good - he got stuck at the next intersection, and I simply went around him. Tool.

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Disclaimer - the next three taxis that I saw were driven in a calm, considerate and professional manner. So it's nice to know that only 25% of the taxi drivers that I encountered this morning were insane boofheads who found their licence in a weeties packet.

Suffer in your jocks

There is a street on my way into work where I always have problems with impatient drivers. They either fail to give way to me at the lights, or they overtake when it's unsafe to do so. The street is narrow thanks to cars parked on both sides, and I always take a wide line in order to see residents pulling out of their driveways.

As I was heading down the road this morning, I spotted a prang about 100 metres up ahead. Just after I saw it, a cop started crossing the road - he's marked in red in the first photo.



So I didn't hammer it down the hill as usual - I took it easy. The dickhead behind me wasn't looking that far ahead - he beeped at me and roared past. About a second after he got in front, he slammed on the brakes after spotting the cops, smashed cars and the tow truck. You can see a tow truck on the right in the next photo.


And then there is the cop car. Driver of BB 77 HV - you are a pinhead.

And here's a clip to go with it. Just look how far ahead of me dickhead was when we reached the roundabout at the bottom of the hill. I hope it was worth all the honking and aggravation. Boy, how I wish the cop crossing the road had seen his maneuverer, and pulled him over for a good talking to.

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Friday photos

This bloke is wearing a GCC backpack - which stands for Global Corporate Challenge. I did it a few years ago, before I started cycling seriously. Very good idea - I suggest you give it a go this year if possible.


Some fixed gear cyclists take the minimal approach very seriously. This bloke was so serious about attaching nothing to his bike that instead of carrying his water bottle in a water bottle holder, he had it in his back pocket. Same goes for the pump. If you ask me, that's taking things a bit far.

Interesting thing about this bloke is that you may note that the cyclist in front and to his left is jumping the red light. The fixie rider yelled out, "That's a red light, mate". That's the first time I've seen one cyclist tell another off.

If you put the phone down, you might figure out how to park your car

Twats. They're everywhere. I flipping hate them. Especially twats who try to reverse park whilst yapping on their mobile phone. Note to twats: it generally takes two hands to park a car speedily and expeditiously, and it helps if you are concentrating on the task at hand and watching what you are doing.

Here is a case in point - the black car. This clip goes for 8 seconds, and in that time, this twat was completely incapable of getting their car into a wide open spot. The sooner we start rectally inserting telephones into people like this, the better.

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Thursday, 14 January 2010

Nazi cyclist

I know - it's a lousy still grabbed from a grainy video. But trust me - the guy on the right, coming towards us, is a Nazi cycle courier. I've seen this bloke around a bit - he is covered in ink, has a grey handlebar moustache and has lately taken to wearing a German army helmet. That's different.

Why crossing double white lines is not a good idea

Bit of a close call for the bloke in front of me.

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Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Traffic jams of a new sort

Heading home this evening, I got stuck in a new phenomena for me - the bicycle traffic jam. Due to the vagaries and vicissitudes of traffic light phasing, packs of a dozen or more bikes quickly form during the evening peak hour as we head out of town. The pack dissolves once we hit the ANZAC bridge - the speedy fellows take off, and the stragglers dawdle across well behind.


14 bikes, and not one of them jumped the red light. That is something else I've never seen before!


An office-type worker heading into the city. Nice elastic sided boots!


Unintended consequences

I am a fan of a hi-viz style of jersey when riding. I go all out to ensure that drivers will never be able to stand up in court and say, "I didn't see him". If they said that, the jury would laugh them out of the witness stand after seeing the luminous monstrosities that I wear.

I got to wondering today about the unintended consequences of more and more cyclists attiring themselves like me. Sales of flourescent cycling accessories appear to be booming - everyone who rides a bike soon becomes paranoid about being hit by a dopey car driver. Many are too afraid to even cycle on quiet roads because of their paranoia about being collected.

What happens though when a tipping point is reached in hi-viz cycling gear, and we find that say 80% of cyclists are riding around in day-glo, and 20% and still in normal street clothes. Will we discover that motorists become so conditioned to seeing day-glo, that they utterly fail to see cyclists clad in a normal way?

I think this has already happened with motorbikes and the requirement to have the headlight on during daylight. I've seen a car almost collect a motorbike that had no headlight showing - the driver was conditioned to see a light, and when there wasn't one there, the brain refused to acknowledge the presence of a motorbike.

Food for thought.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Incompetent farking quacks

I was feeling a bit off my game last week, so I went to see a local quack. After waiting for 2 hours, I got my 5 minutes with him. I told him what was wrong, and he recommended doing some blood tests. He printed out a form and told me to come back one morning to see the nurse to get some blood drawn. He also told me not to eat for 12 hours before the test.

I showed up the next day, first thing in the morning, and after waiting for half an hour, I got to see the nurse. She started by asking me where my urine sample was.

My what?

Not only had the quack forgotten to tell me that I needed to piss in a cup as soon as I woke up, but he also forgot to give me a cup to piss in, and stuffed the times up by telling me not to eat for 12 hours before the test. The nurse told me to eat nothing after midnight, and to come back the following day.

I now have a small hole in one arm, and I managed to shoot straight this morning. I'll know in two days whether it was just a momentary blip in my otherwise normally healthy existence, or if I am showing signs of wear and decline.

Resolutions

It appears that lots of people made a New Year's resolution to start riding to work. I think the bloke in this photo is one of them. He was slow, had no idea about how to pass pedestrians, and within 30 seconds of being trapped behind him, there were at least a dozen other cyclists jammed up behind me. It's all very well resolving to get fit or save money on buses or whatever - but I do wish these people would not all decide to start riding at the same time. They clog up the cycle ways with more gusto than an Exxon Valdez full of clag.


Speaking of things weighing a lot, the woman on this bike demonstrated what mass (or a lack of it) can do. I caught up with her as I was coasting down a hill, and I had to brake to avoid crashing into her. She was pedalling by the way. She kept on rotating those pedals as we started going uphill, but I had to remain on the brakes. I had so much momentum, I was in danger of rear-ending her going up hill. (This was a tricky action shot to get by the way, as I was constantly on the brakes to avoid taking her out. She simply wasn't heavy enough to go fast).


Interesting attire - perhaps another gent who has made a resolution. He's wearing a white singlet and baggy shorts. He was anything but sartorial.


Cool view of the bridge.


I haven't really worked out how to take photos from side on and slightly to the rear, so this photo misses the salient feature which is that the cyclist has her helmet dangling from the handlebars. I can understand not wanting to ride with a helmet - your head gets all sweaty and it messes up your hair - but what is the point of taking one with you but not wearing it?


Her partner in crime, looking very relaxed.