Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Friday - day of mayhem

What is it about Friday afternoon that sends everybody completely flaming nuts? I pulled out of the office and had 3 near death experiences in the following 5 minutes.

It started with a taxi driver being a bit too desperate for a fare - he changed lanes right into me without looking or indicating. His driving was so obnoxious that a bus driver pulled over in front of him and deliberately blocked him in. It was nice to know that I wasn't the only annoyed person on George St, and the side benefit was that the bus was so close to the taxi, it prevented me from stomping up to the driver's door and giving him a good thumping. I was literally boiling with rage at the close call.

About a minute later, I'm following a stream of traffic when a car coming the other way just decides to turn right across the stream - which meant turning directly into me. And he did it quickly too, leaving me no time to react. The only thing that saved me is that I was moving fast enough to get out of his way before he collected me.

At that point, I didn't think it could get any worse, but then not long after, a driver overtook me and then pulled over straight in front of me - again without indicating. It was just brake and swerve. I seem to have a sixth sense about these things, so I easily avoided another prang.

The traffic was no heavier than a normal work day. There was nothing wrong with the weather, and there were no road works. The problem was that drivers were just mental - fed up, aggressive and possibly drunk. Most days, my commute is pretty cruisey - low risk and no hassles. And then everything hits you at once.

Monday, 27 February 2012


Best sunrise so far this year. The bloke in the left hand corner had ridden  his bike down to the Bay to photograph it. He just sat there taking photo after photo whilst I tried to keep my hand steady enough to get a shot that wasn't blurred to buggery.

I tonked along behind this bloke for a while, mainly because he looked absolutely buggered. He had a competition number still stuck under his saddle, so I figured he must have been riding home from an early morning race. He was totally wrecked - barely able to maintain my warm up pace. But check out the definition in his calves - I reckon he would eat me alive if he wasn't utterly knackered.

These two blokes from the LACC also showed me a thing or two about being fit and strong - first hill we came to, they left me for dead. Bastards.

Something in pink

The Rocks markets. Something for everyone. Except moi.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Sometimes you are the rabbit....

....and sometimes you are the fox.

By that I mean that there are days when you are the fittest, fastest thing on two wheels on the City-Wogville route. You are the fox, chasing down and eating the rabbits.

And other days, the legs are fragile and worn out; the lungs are cactus and it's been a long time since you had something to eat. On those days, you are the rabbit, watching the foxes pass you by as you struggle up the inclines.

The cool thing is that my fox days outnumber my rabbit days by a wide margin at the moment. Towards the end of last year, I decided to deliberately lengthen my route, and to ride on weekends as well. I thought the extra work would kill me - that I'd be utterly rooted by Friday. Instead, I'm feeling fitter and stronger than ever.

Of course there are still the uber-fit cycleheads who blast past me like I'm standing still. If I find a time machine that will take off 25 years, and I can drop 20 kilos, I might be able to give them a run for their money.


Vanilla slice

I love a good vanilla slice.

Funny how different the colour is when you turn the flash off.

This one was expensive - I was walking through the QVB and forked out $4.50 for this one.

It was worth it. But I won't be eating them regularly.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

More Marxist muck

Another week, another power pole covered in Marxist crap. Will these idiots never give up?

Don't you just love the list of speakers:

  • Bilger
  • Mamdouh Habib
  • Gary Foley (listed as an Aboriginal activist).
I think I'd prefer to wank goats for an artificial insemination program rather than listen to these idiots.


Another day when I was up at the farting of the sparrows. Not that I'm complaining - it's the best part of the day.

Some sort of bike tour - they were all on the same bikes, wearing the same helmets and riding on the footpath.

I was going to stitch these three photos together to make a panorama, but I can't be arsed. You'll just have to do it in your head.


Cranes. Where are the damned cranes. That's not a crane.

Ah, there's the cranes. They're working on the Barangaroo redevelopment. I'm wondering whether this lot will go the way of World Square, which started as a big hole in the ground at the lower end of the CBD and remained that way for years after a financial crisis.

Rowers, rowers and more rowers. There's lots more in he background. And notice the lovely smudge that the kiddies fingers left on the lens.

Yep, I was up pretty early that morning. The camera is great at gathering even the dimmest light - to my tired eyes, it was not this bright. In fact, it was pretty bloody dark!

A few obligatory bikes. This bloke was carrying a bit - a backpack and a laptop bag.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Thursday photos

Ugh oh, there's a battleship in town.

I was out much earlier than usual on Thursday, which meant I saw the Bay Run being used by a different population group to what I am used to. At my usual riding time, there are quite a few commuters heading into town, and the fitness groups are generally winding up, giving people time to get somewhere and shower and change before work. Because I was out so much earlier, there were absolutely no commuters but heaps of runners. These guys must start running before dawn most days. There were packs of them everywhere - and the majority were women.

Wednesday photos

I'm normally happy to be up about 0545, but the body clock went haywire this week - I've been waking up at 0500 instead, so I've been riding into work earlier than usual most days. Not that I'm bothered - it's the best part of the day.

Lighting conditions are tricky though - I'm usually photographing whilst looking into the sun.

This bloke was wearing a jersey advertising a very interesting sounding beer. If it wasn't for that, this photo wouldn't be here.

You can tell it's an early morning shot - the lack of light leads to blurry action shots.

Tuesday photos

White Bay power station smoke stacks
The smoke stacks of the old White Bay power station in Balmain, silhouetted against the dawn sky. Notice how skinny the stacks are? And there's no cooling tower like a modern power station. Those stacks used to pump out good old CO2 and soot and ash, and maybe a touch of steam. Funnily enough, this dreadfully polluting power station was originally built to power Sydney's electrified tram and rail network (which is usually seen by Greens as being a Nirvana compared to the motor car).

Check out the surreal colours of the city in the early light.

I just about smashed into this couple as I passed - they were incapable of riding two abreast without swerving around a bit and occupying both sides of the bike lane.

And now for some different - sunset.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Got a spare 30 minutes?

Thanks for the tip, Paco.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Shooting fish in a barrel

And I thought I had a lot of stuff........

I have two places in the house for storing my cycling stuff.

I have one drawer dedicated to "sports" stuff - swimming gear, sports socks and my cycling knicks etc. My jerseys and undershirts take up about 1/20th of my available hanging space - I have enough knicks and jerseys to last me 4 days. Then it's time to wash.

I have another spot - a few small shelves in the laundry - where I store things that get wet and dirty - helmet, gloves, shoes, spray jacket, sunglasses, repair kit and pannier. That space is shared with my swimming and gardening stuff. The missus gets cranky if I walk through the house soaking wet in my riding shoes leaving puddles from one end of the place to the other. And she really doesn't like me leaving my sweat soaked, stinking gloves in the bedroom. When the cold weather is over, I pack all my winter kit away in the shed in a storage box so that it doesn't clutter up the house (my "winter kit" consists of some full fingered gloves and one pair of leg warmers).

For a while there, I was thinking that I had accumulated a fair amount of cycling kit.

Silly me.

Check this bloke out. That is some very nice kit. I now see that I have some shopping to do........

Sunday funny

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Some good links

Paco - hilarious as always

To go along with our Titan Of Industry, we have a Corporate Bullshit Generator. Must get one of these for the office.

The Queen is a binge drinker. Seriously. By this definition, most of my family should have been dead decades ago.

Dutch give up on offshore windmills. These things cost Dutch taxpayers $5 billion last year. $5 billion! What a scam.

The Apple iPhone is bigger than Microsoft. On top of that, developing apps for mobile phones and tablets supports 500,000 US jobs.

I am never going to complain about cycling in cold weather ever again.

Wind turbines - I wish they'd build a stack of these around the Balmain peninsular and let the inner city lefties live with them.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Lots of very cool maps

You must have a look.

How distant are we from our agrarian roots?

Booby trapped tomato?

Two small things that happened recently made me think about how far most of us are removed from our agrarian roots.

One side of my family grew up on a farm - I did not. Although I worked and played on plenty whilst growing up. As a kid, I stayed on a family farm where there was still horse tack hanging in the barn from the days of horse drawn plows, and milking stools from when cows were milked by hand in that same barn. For fun, we'd get un-pasteurised, un-homogenised milk from the local dairy and churn it into butter in a hand cranked churn. That's not for the faint hearted - yet it is something my parents and their siblings did every day as kids. In my parents day, most people worked in agriculture, or were directly related to someone who worked on the land. When Dad was running his own business in the 1950s, he was occasionally paid in chickens and other produce. Interestingly enough, you can still pay your school fees in Papua New Guinea in pigs.

I doubt most people these days could tell the difference between cow crap and sheep crap. And they wouldn't have the sense to avoid stepping in either.

The first thing was that we visited some people who have a lot of fruit trees in their yard. They had tossed a few large boxes full of fresh fruit aside - it all looked good, and I asked what was wrong with it.

"Worms", was the answer.

Sure enough, I cut one in half, and the delicious looking fruit was full of wriggling white worms.

When we got home, I noticed that my tomato crop was starting to look a bit dodgy. Then I harvested a few kilos, started cutting them open and found that about 5% were also infested with worms.

It was then that I remembered that I have never, ever seen my parents bite into any form of fruit. They always slice it up first. The same went for all my uncles and aunties - they always had a clasp knife on them, often attached to their belt. If you visit the Flemington Markets in Sydney at 0600 on a Saturday morning, half the fruit vendors will be wielding knives and slicing open samples of their fruit to show the passing customers that their produce is fresh and good - and free of bugs. 

That's not something I ever expect to see happening in Coles or Woolworths.

Carrying that sort of thing these days is a good way to get locked up - the cops will be all over you for carrying an offensive weapon.

Arsey tomato?
Try explaining to a judge (or a fresh young copper) that you need a knife to cut up fruit and vegies to inspect for insects.......they'll think you're mad.

The stuff we get in the supermarket is so sanitised and perfect, we forget that fruit is in fact very tasty to a wide variety of insects and animals, and it's also a great place to raise your young. I haven't smothered the garden in chemicals - not because I am against chemicals and sprays - it's just that I'm too busy/too lazy to spray most of the time, so through sheer laziness, I have an "organic" garden. 

So now that I have a garden and am growing some of my own food, I've adopted the habits of my forebears and am now religiously cutting everything open before eating it.

Yeah, I know how that sounds - "I'm turning into my bloody parents". Well, some of the things they do are really quite sensible. But we rarely stop and think why we do the things we do. 

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Thursday photos

I like it when the morning looks like this. A bit of colour first thing is nice.

Unfortunately, most have been dull and grey like this.

No picturesque, touristy shots of the Opera House. What I was trying to get is the shaft of light in the middle of the photo. It all but disappeared by the time I stopped the bike and grabbed the camera. I had a 5 second window to snap the photo, and I pretty much missed it.

Down by the jetty landing..........

For a single speeder, this bloke was quick - he left me for dead. He wasn't into the safety kit much though - no helmet or gloves (useful for when you slide off and your hand hits the tarmac) and his rear light appeared to be covered in tape.

We rode towards the Pyrmont Bridge with another bloke who was quite aggressive - when we hit the bridge, the Rangers who monitor foot/bike traffic started waving and yelling at the other bloke because he was going too fast and cutting up the pedestrians. I've never seen that before.

There's a big difference in attitude at different times of the morning. I try to leave home a bit after 0600, and at that time, the roads and paths are pretty empty. Cyclists, runners and walkers are all generally calm and courteous. Even the tradies in their utes aren't too mental at that time of day.

However, I slept in one morning this week and left closer to 0700 - and was I in for a shock. I ran into more lunatic, aggressive cyclists during that one ride than I have seen so far this year. One bloke got right up my bum coming around the Bay, and he tried to overtake me on blind corners (nearly rubbing out people coming the other way) and he got narky when I slowed down for parents riding with young kids etc etc (one thing about kids - expect them to always to the unexpected, like suddenly dart in front of you without warning). When he eventually went past, he suddenly found he couldn't actually go any faster than me. He was fast when trailing in my slipstream, but useless when he got out front.


Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The common thread

We're had two financial disasters in NSW lately - the Cross City Tunnel going into recievership, and now the Waratah trains consortium needing a bailout from the state government.

Here are snippets from two articles:

Sydney's Cross City Tunnel could soon enter receivership for the second time, due to a dispute between its owners and the state government about stamp duty.

The Office of State Revenue has given the owners of the motorway until the end of the month to pay a reported $60 million bill.

The bill relates to the $700 million price the owners of the motorway - Royal Bank of Scotland, Eiser Infrastructure Partners and Leighton Holdings - paid when they bought the roadway out of receivership in 2007.

and another:

The major private partner in the troubled Reliance Rail project has welcomed a restructure of the group's financing.

The NSW government has agreed to invest $175 million in 2018 in return for 100 per cent of the equity in Reliance Rail, which is delivering the $3.6 billion Waratah train project.

The troubled consortium consists of engineering firm Downer EDI, Royal Bank of Scotland and interests managed by AMP Capital Investors.

Notice the common factor?

The Royal Bank of Scotland.

Here's what The Spectator had to say about them back in December:

Voodoo business

West Register is the name of a narrow street in Edinburgh that my team of local researchers tell me boasts a cocktail bar called the Voodoo Rooms. West Register is also the name of a subsidiary of the Royal Bank of Scotland, whose fine old pre-Goodwin headquarters is just around the corner. This is the subsidiary into which RBS injected its ‘distressed’ property assets — commercial real estate of which it took ownership in lieu of repayment of loans that the bank (or its NatWest arm) should never have offered in the first place.

West Register’s purpose in life is to sell off these assets whenever someone makes a halfway decent cash offer, and this week it got shot of 918 tenanted pubs, known as the Galaxy estate, to Heineken for £412 ­million. The holding was a relic of the lost era, a decade ago, when owning pub chains — seen as cash-generative businesses, ripe for improvement and sitting on solid freeholds — was a hot fashion for City investors. Now pubs are closing all over the country, and Heineken in turn is expected to dispose of many Galaxy sites that are now unviable.

Taxpayer-funded RBS is well out of the struggling pub trade, but still has tens of billions worth of other skeletons in its cupboards. West Register has also just sold Great Leighs racecourse in Essex, and is trying to make something remunerative out of Newhaven docks in Sussex. Its portfolio includes shopping centres where no one wanted to shop, hotel and apartment schemes where no one wanted to lay their head, and acres of empty offices. Behind every distressed asset is a loan decision that looked good at the time and earned someone a bonus. If trade ever falters at the Voodoo Rooms, West Register could turn it into a showroom for everything it has left to sell and rename it Voodoo Banking.

You have to wonder how much due diligence was undertaken when Labor was in power if they allowed this banking disaster to get involved in funding a variety of projects. I wonder what other NSW projects they've got their sticky fingers in?

No more underwater cabinet meetings in the Maldives?

Remember how the cabinet of the Maldives gained a lot of publicity a few years ago by holding a cabinet meeting underwater?

They might not be doing that anymore.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

A few photos

I stupidly left some things at work on Friday, so I had to pop into the office on the weekend to collect them. What better way to travel than by bike? For once, the sky was clear and I didn't get rained on.

The wedding planners must have been grateful for some good weather at last - The Rocks was full of wedding parties being photographed. 

Lots of people at Darling Harbour - dragon boat racing time.

There's always a nimrod willing to go through red lights. 

Weekend cyclists tend to be a very different bunch to the regular commuters. This threesome gave every indication of not really knowing where they were going, and they certainly didn't know all the ins and outs of this particular road (I know every pot hole and crack, and could steer around them in my sleep). Their riding style was quite different - they were riding as a threesome, and then the bloke in the distance just took off and left the rest of us behind. He was getting his thrills.

I enjoy the weekend rides when I'm heading in any direction except the city - I don't feel the need to be anywhere at a particular time, and I enjoy the ride for what it is. Only problem is that I don't get to do that often enough.