Friday 30 September 2011


Check out this lopsided backpack. Just hopeless.

Speaking of which, I loaned Junior one of my backpacks recently - a medium sized daypack.

When I handed it over, all the excess straps had been bundled up tightly and wrapped with black electrical tape. I could jump up and down and ride at high speed and the pack didn't budge, rattle or have any flappy things flapping off it.

It was returned with straps flapping in all directions.

A certain type of person will understand why I got upset.

Crusty eyes

I had one of these trees in a backyard once, and I still can't remember what they're called.

But I do know this- see all those white hairy things hanging from the flowers? At this time of the year, the trees are utterly covered in them, and there are plenty of these trees around. Which means oodles of those hairy pollen things floating around.

I rode down a local road recently and one lane was completely blanketed in the things - the road had turned a whitish-yellow.

And so when I ride, the damned things end up in my eyes all the time. Which means waking up with crusty eyes and a runny nose.

It would be so much easier to wrap myself in a cocoon and never have to interact with all this horrid natural stuff.

Tuesday 27 September 2011

How much do you know about stuff?

Try this exam. It's only 33 questions. Took me about 5 minutes.

Hat tip to Sean Linnane.


PS - I got 30 out of 33. There were two questions that I had no idea about, but I screwed up on my third wrong answer.

The average score for all 2,508 Americans taking the following test was 49%; college educators scored 55%.

Vodka, bikes and stockings don't mix

Dr Gordian Fulde has an article in the Tele every week, cataloguing the drunken idiots that are carted into his emergency ward every weekend. I try and read him every week.

Also we are seeing an increasing amount of intoxicated bicycle riders at night, often with no helmet. This usually results with them falling off, just like the 28-year-old salesman who broke his jaw by hitting the road hard.

Probably riding a single speed or fixie.

When I was at uni, a mate had a party at a bar with a theme of "Dirty Doctors, Naughty Nurses and Perverted Patients". All the women dressed as doctors and most of the blokes dressed as nurses - it just turned out that way.

The bar was on the opposite side of the campus to my college. After getting full of vodka jelly shots, dancing the worm on the floor etc etc, the bar closed and I had to get home.

A mate and I both had our push bikes, so we decided to race across campus.

It was a shockingly fast race - we were both very fit and totally plastered. We rode like maniacs. Err, actually we were maniacs. We somehow managed to get across the campus alive, and then I clipped a low fence with a pedal when I was just metres from home (and victory).

I went down on the tarmac - hard. I wasn't wearing a helmet of course.

But I was wearing stockings under my dress.

Fishnet stockings.

I ripped off more skin in that crash than any crash I've had since. I probably lost more skin in that crash than in all the others combined.

Trouble was, I was shitfaced and not feeling much pain. So I went to bed.

When I woke the next morning, a scab had formed on the abraded skin.

And glued into that scab was the remains of my stockings. And my sheets.

I now had to get the stockings off.

Combine a king sized hangover with peeling off scabs and stockings and bits of fused in hair, and then scrubbing out the bits of gravel and sand and then rubbing iodine into the open wounds - it doesn't bear thinking about.

By all means ride around drunk - just don't do it in stockings.

Pricks in BMWs

What is it about fat, middle aged wog males in convertible BMWs? There I am, signalling my intention to turn right at a roundabout, meaning I've got right of way over oncoming traffic. I see this silver BMW coming towards me quite fast - when I am committed to the turn, I deduce that he's got no intention of stopping. He's seen me, but he's in a car and I'm on a bike, so I guess he thinks that gives him right of way.

If I had been a less experienced cyclist, I would have been a hood ornament. A badly messed up hood ornament - he must have been doing 50km/h. I know that it doesn't matter if you're in the right or not - you'll end up being the one in traction. Just brake, give them the finger and stay alive.

As I gave him the finger, I noticed he was yapping on his mobile phone too. He saw me alright - the arrogant prick just didn't want to stop, and he didn't care if he killed or injured me.

I like BMWs as cars, but I really hate some of their drivers.


I put in a long day of reasonably hard physical labour on the weekend. On Monday morning, I was utterly rooted. I hopped on the bike, and could hardly move. I wasn't particularly stiff or sore - the legs simply had nothing to give. There was nothing in the tank. I had a problem with a clogged fuel filter in the car last year - you'd put your foot to the floor and nothing would happen - the fuel pump simply couldn't deliver more than a trickle of fuel to the engine. That's how it felt.

What pleased me no end was that I did the work with a bloke who was about a decade younger than me. He didn't even show at work on Monday - he was too knackered to leave the house, and he takes the train to the office!

Strange thing is that come Monday afternoon, the legs were on fire. I blasted home in record time. It was as if the morning lethargy had never existed. It was the same again today going to and from work - I've been riding like it might be my last ride ever, not worrying about crawling out of bed tomorrow and climbing into the saddle at oh-dark-hundred.

The body certainly works in mysterious ways.

Now that it's warming up again, I'm striking a terrible problem in the way home - barbeques. I'll be charging up a long, slight hill and I'll get a big whiff of steak and chops wafting over someone's fence. It's a terrible thing to smell when you're hungry and riding hard - the urge to stop, jump the fence and make off with a chop or two is irresistible. I've been getting home feeling utterly ravenous thanks to those barbecuing bastards on my route home.

There's hope for us yet

From the Silly today:

But it is the loss of faith in the federal government that is most striking. Only 30 per cent of people believe Canberra can be trusted to do the right thing - a sharp drop from a 2009 high of 48 per cent when Kevin Rudd was in power.

Hooray. Most people have finally figured out that leaving things to government does not produce a land of milk and honey populated by unicorns. I've been inside government - I've been a bureaucrat. I know what a completely screwed up place it can be, and how little most public servants care for the public they are supposed to be serving. There are exceptions, but in the main they are lost in a tide of indifference and arrogance.

What I want to know is who that 30% consists of. Can we round them up and deport them to North Korea or Cuba?

Monday 26 September 2011

Monday photos

Sunlight over the water, Moses style.

Ninja cyclist (dressed in black from head to foot).

The alternative (yes, we can see you from a mile away).

Sunday 25 September 2011

I don't get it

According to the Greens, urban consolidation is a good thing and urban sprawl is a bad thing. Higher densities are required in our inner suburbs etc etc.

If that's the case, why are the Greens vigorously protesting against every medium and high density development in our area? Why are they doing their best to make apartment developments uneconomic by imposing stupid zoning restrictions on them, and forcing developers to include "affordable" apartments?

I just don't get it. Is it that they want higher densities, but just not where they happen to live?

Thursday 22 September 2011

How do you view this story?

From the SMH:

WASHINGTON: The counterinsurgency tactic that is sending US soldiers out on foot patrols among the Afghan people, rather than riding in armoured vehicles, has contributed to a dramatic increase in arm and leg amputations, sometimes with the loss of multiple limbs following blast injuries.

The number of US troops who had amputations rose sharply from 86 in 2009, to 187 last year and 147 so far this year, military officials said, releasing a report on catastrophic wounds.

Of those, the number of troops who lost two or three limbs rose from 23 in 2009 to 72 last year to 77 so far this year. Only about a dozen of all amputations came from Iraq; the rest were from Afghanistan, where militants are pressing the insurgency with roadside bombs, handmade landmines and other explosives.

Officials said genital injuries also have risen significantly, but they did not give specific figures.

The sharp rise in severe injuries came as a build-up of foreign forces expanded the counterinsurgency strategy that seeks to protect civilians, win their support away from insurgents and help build an Afghan government the population will embrace. The soldier on foot is at greater risk for severe injuries, the report noted, ''and the injury severity [in Afghanistan] confirms this''.

A study by military doctors found that while the severity of injuries was rising, fewer soldiers were being killed in action.

As terrible as the loss of limbs is, it's bloody marvellous that the lives of so many badly wounded soldiers are being saved. The medical care our soldiers get these days is absolutely amazing. To keep someone alive on the battlefield after they've lost three limbs would have been viewed as a miracle 30 years ago.

Never mind the pants

The SMH had a story this week about "shoddy army uniforms" tearing in the crutch area during operations in Afghanistan. In the paper edition, the story was accompanied by a photo of a digger with a hole the size of a dinner plate in the front of his pants.

As far as I am concerned, this story is about 25 years too late. Same thing happened to me on an exercise when we were still running around in jungle greens - in the days just before the camo uniforms came out. I used to drop lots of weight during an exercise. The pants had some adjustable loops on each side where you could take them in or out a few inches, but that was never enough given how much my waist contracted over two weeks. I'd usually have to resort to tying a loop of string around the belt buckles to bring them in by more than the designed minimum.

On one assault, the string broke, my pants slipped down a bit and as I leapt over a log and the crotch ripped from end to end. You don't let something silly like that slow you down - we finished the assault, and then regrouped and took stock. I was a bit uncomfortable, as I was lying on my guts and I wasn't wearing any undies. My tackle was one with nature, so to speak.

It's at times like those that you develop a sudden paranoia about ants. Big ants.

But it was all OK - we got back to our position without nature gnawing on my nuts.

The trouble began after we came in through the wire.

A female officer decided to attend our de-brief. Normally, you sit or squat down in a semi-circle around the patrol commander for this sort of thing, but I thought it wiser to stand up and try and keep the flaps of my pants reasonably close together.

The officer didn't like that idea. She wanted me sitting down like a good little boy. My section commander knew the score, and tried to reason with her quietly, but she was the type that preferred to be officious rather than sensible.

So I sat down.

At the front.

With my legs crossed.

My platoon commander had wandered up behind the female officer to listen in. He quickly noticed I had gone commando and was letting it all hang out. He nudged the platoon sergeant next to him and they both disappeared behind a tree quietly cacking themselves laughing. My section was sitting around me grinning like idiots, their teeth gleaming through the cam cream. I just sat there like a serene Buddha, waiting for the whole thing to be over and wondering whether I'd be better off wearing the filthy spare pair of pants currently mouldering away in my pack or sticking with what I had on.

Finally, she noticed.

The de-brief ended in mid-sentence.

She started to bawl me out for flashing my tackle at her, then realised that she'd ordered me to sit down there against the better judgement of my section commander. It was then a case of "exit, stage left" for her, and we didn't see her out bush for the remainder of the exercise. Hanging around with half naked savages was not to her liking.

Infantry life is bloody hard on clothing - you're better off just having a good system for quickly replacing the gear that's been shredded and torn by normal operations.

Cav's enormous and tight nuts

I'm not explaining this. If you don't get it, too bad.

The nuts have gone a bit grey. Must be old age.

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Wednesday photos

Has it really been a week since I last bothered to post? Work has been hell-busy; as has the social life. Just haven't had a chance to sit down and put fingers to keyboard.

I don't have much in the way of photos either - I've been getting up almost an hour earlier than a few months ago, and I'm finding that there are very few bikes on the road at the time I head into work. Not a lot of walkers and runners either, although I did pass a class of all female boxers the other day - all of them pounding away at each other with great vigour.

Everyone always photographs the entire span of the Harbour Bridge, but you rarely see the details like this. Ever wondered how the bridge is actually anchored to each shore? Hint - the big granite towers are there for show and don't do a damned thing.

Wednesday 14 September 2011

Clubs club Labor

This pamphlet turned up in our mailbox recently. It's a four page job - this is just the front. Note the green and yellow colours - nice and patriotic.

It's put out by

I hate pokies with a passion, but I also reckon that as with most things, this government will totally screw the implementation of this policy and they'll cause the usual massive amount of pain and dislocation to all concerned, and they won't actually do anything about the problem.

Anyway, I doubt John Murphy will care for long. According to Antony Green, he's on a 2.7% margin. Unless there's a miracle, Murphy is toast.

Wednesday tips

Two reasons why I like reading The Spectator:

The things you learn from the Dear Mary pages:

"I really don't think that ladies should keep their money in their knickers. In the Bolivian alitplano the South American Indian women keep all their savings in their knickers, with consequences for the currency that you are too refined a person to wish me to describe".

Question - do they keep their money down the front of their knickers, or the back?

And then this bit on Nadia Comaneci - I loved the bit in bold:

It took just ten minutes for the secret of Nadia Comaneci’s extraordinary success at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal to be revealed. Comaneci achieved the first-ever perfect score when she was given a clean sweep of 10s from all the judges for her performance on the uneven bars. ‘What I remember is the dead silence in the stadium,’ recalls Vera Atkinson, a champion gymnast herself who was reporting on the Games for Bulgarian national television. ‘She flew between the bars, performing so many different things with the human body, before landing perfectly still...Yet the routine took barely 30 seconds.’

Comaneci’s feat of perfection was so unusual and so unexpected that the scoreboard was not set up to show a ‘10’ but could only manage ‘1.00’. How did she do it? ‘I always did for two or three more times whatever I was asked by the coach,’ says Comaneci. ‘I always wanted to do more than I was asked to do.’

She was featured last Sunday on Sporting Witness, a new BBC World Service series of ten-minute shorts highlighting key moments in sporting history as a prelude to the London Olympics next year. Comaneci was just 14 when she showed the world that such a degree of perfection is achievable. Go check it out on YouTube if you’re not convinced. She is astonishing on that day, and she still inspires with her modest appraisal of what she did.

‘I had no idea of the history I made in that moment,’ she recalls now. ‘I was too young to understand what I’d done.’ She went back home to Bucharest and worked even harder, winning two more golds and two silvers in Moscow four years later. What made her so determined? ‘I’m not sure...’ she giggles. ‘I was born like that, I guess.’

Good lesson in there for the bludgers.

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Tuesday photos

First, a flowery interlude. Reminds me of a certain Fawlty Towers episode for some reason.

Why is this bloke not frozen to death? It was even colder this morning that yesterday. I half expected to find an icicle hanging from my nose by the time I was halfway into town.

This bloke has the right idea - lots of layers. Plus a bit of padding. He makes me look slim.

Coat tails a-flying, we head for home. And a few solid zzzzz's on the couch.

Monday 12 September 2011

Monday photos

Harbour Bridge, on a bit of an angle

This morning didn't start out too well. The kids came in and woke me up at 0530. My eyes were crusty and my nose so blocked, I couldn't breath through it at all. I almost ruptured a blood vessel trying to clean the goo out. It was cold - less than 9 degrees. I seriously considered having a shower and catching a bus, but then hardened up and decided that a ride would either kill me or cure me.

Surprisingly, once I hit the road, my lungs cleared up and my legs were loose and free spinning. I actually started moving pretty rapidly - so rapidly, I had tears streaming from my eyes in the cold morning air. Unfortunately, I went too hard going both to and from work, and I am now utterly shattered. It will be bedtime soon.

Pyrmont Bridge - 0715
The Pyrmont Bridge is a madhouse once the morning pedestrian traffic gets going around 0745. You can barely crawl across the bridge. I try and get onto the bridge before 0700 (or 0630 in summer) so that I avoid the usual snarls and baton waving council Rangers.

Pyrmont Bridge, 1715

The start of the evening peak - this photo doesn't do the madhouse justice. It took me 3 times as long to cross the bridge this evening as it did this morning. The worst thing is pedestrians aimlessly wandering about talking on their phones, not looking where they're going.

The open road at last.

Stupid photo
Blasted graphics software refused to let me crop this photo. Which is why it's a stupid photo. That is all.

W Tree - maybe not so business friendly

The Bunyip tells a merry tale this week of slaughtering defenceless fish near the hamlet of W Tree. Out of interest, I thought I'd have a look at their website.

It's a simple enough thing. It even provides a link to "ecosensitive businesses".

Oh dear. Dead from lack of subsidy?

Saturday 10 September 2011

Solar energy - a mixture of tax dollars and sunlight

From Carpe Diem.

Markets in Everything: Vending Bike Repair

Amazing what the free market can throw up - a vending machine for bike repairs.

For those interested in education

The opening of a Free School in London.

I've been following the trials and tribulations of Toby Young in The Spectator as he's worked to get this school off the ground. It sounds like it hasn't been a pleasant experience. All the usual suspects have attacked him quite ruthlessly since he started on this project.

Good luck to him, and all that follow in his footsteps.

Friday 9 September 2011

Friday photos

NSW Mounted Police
A few public servants went on strike yesterday and held a rally in the Domain. I spotted these mounted police heading away from the Domain after the rally was over. Other people around me were also photographing them - everyone loves a cop on horseback. Unless you're a stinking hippy bludger at a riot about to be ridden down by a mounted police charge. I mentioned the strike to some people in the office - none of them knew it was on. The only comment was, "That explains the lack of traffic this morning". Maybe those public servants should strike more often.

Very grey day

Where did spring go? After a few weeks of beautiful weather, it's like we're back at the start of winter. I was umming and ahhing this morning about whether to wear the spray jacket or not. So glad I did - would have frozen to death otherwise. I quickly regretted not putting on the shoe covers, leg warmers and long gloves. Had a bad case of wet, frozen feet when I got to work. I didn't get a single photo of another cyclist this morning as I didn't see a single other cyclist on the way to work. Clearly, everyone else was sensible enough to take the bus.

What position do you adopt when waiting for the light to change?
Except for this bloke, who I caught up with on the way home. Everyone has their favourite way of perching when stopped. I prefer to keep my bum on the saddle, which means leaning the bike a bit to the left. This bloke is straight upright, and he's sitting on the top tube. Each to their own.

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Wednesday photos

Is it Wednesday already? Flipping heck, the week has gone fast. Speaking of fast, above we have fast meets slow. The hills always sort the sheep from the goats, even the gentle slopes. There are those that crawl up this incline in low gear, and there are those that punch up it at 30km/h+.  I was trying to overtake this bloke as he overtook the woman on the left, but it's too hard to accelerate going uphill when you've got one hand on the camera.

There's one bloody idiot in every crowd
Red light jumping fool.

The harbour and the Opera House

Beautiful crisp, clear skies this morning. That meant that it felt a whole lot cooler than the temperature gauge was letting on. I made a comment along those lines to a fellow cyclist - his response was, "Thermometer says 12, feels like 5". How right he was. Could have done with those leg warmers this week.

ANZAC bridge at sunset
The annoying thing about this photo is that the sky looked even better once I made it over the brow of the bridge. However, at that point, I was descending at about 40km/h, and ducking in and out of the pedestrians, and I really didn't want to risk taking a photo. It was the most magnificent sunset - a real "God shining through the clouds" sort of sunset.

Sunday 4 September 2011

The Age, and dodgy CO2 graphs

How The Age presents CO2 output per head

The Age ran a story this week about CO2 etc etc. The above graphic is a screenshot from their website. Notice that Australia is shown as the top emitter per capita.
The original graphic in a World Bank report

The lower part of the graphic is lifted pretty much straight from a World Bank report. Note that it shows Australian CO2 emissions to be up around 28 tons per person per year.

CO2 emissions per head from the Energy Information Administration
However, the US EIA lists Australia as coming 11th in emissions per head (the above graphic is from Wikipedia, but the underlying data is from a spreadsheet supplied by the EIA). It also lists Australia's emissions as being 18.9 tons per head per annum, not 28 tons.

So, who should we believe? The 10 countries that supposedly have higher emissions per head than Australia don't appear anywhere on the World Bank graphic.

By the way, I found this in the World Bank report under "Green taxes":

In the United Kingdom a carbon tax imposed equally on all households would be very regressive, consistent with findings from other OECD countries.
The reason is that spending on energy constitutes a larger  share of total expenditures for poor households than for rich ones. But the regressive effect could be offset either through scaled tariff design or a targeted program based on existing social policy mechanisms.
Without revenue recycling, the impact of carbon pricing or green taxes—even if progressive—is likely to harm the poor because poor households spend as much as 25 percent of their income on electricity, water, and transport. It is also likely to be politically difficult because even the average household spends about 10 percent of its income on these services.
The real income of the poorest will also be reduced in the near term as the higher up-front costs of greener infrastructure construction, operation, and services hit the supply side of the economy.
A green tax could have a direct effect on households (caused by the increase in energy prices) and an indirect effect (on total household expenditure as a result of higher costs of production and thus prices of consumer goods). A study in Madagascar found that the indirect effects could represent 40 percent of the welfare losses through higher prices of food, textiles, and transport.
Despite the greater direct consumption of infrastructure services by the middle class, the poorest quintile was projected to suffer the biggest loss in real income.
And people wonder why carbon dioxide taxes are so unpopular?

Saturday 3 September 2011


I trust you bums bought a legacy pin or wrist band this week?

I pulled over a Captain in a back street when I was riding to work and bought the pin off him. I think it was  his first sale of the day - I reckon he didn't count on a cyclist pulling a rapid U-turn, chasing him down and asking for a pin.

I decided a few minutes later that a wrist band would be easier to wear, so I stopped and bought one from a private a bit later on. As I was doing so, a lady stopped and said, "I'm not after anything - I just wanted to thank you for what you do", and walked off, leaving the poor digger looking rather stunned and embarrassed.

He offered up his wares to me and said, "You can have them in three colours". I hadn't looked closely up until that point, but they were clearly Army, Navy or Air Farce. It was immediately obvious to me which one I'd take. Three colours, my arse - I simply barked "Infantry!" and he handed over the appropriate bit of plastic.

As I rode up George St at around 0700, I was pleased to see little knots of people in suits clustered around ones and twos of soldiers, all buying pins and wrist bands. I wasn't the only one in the office with one displayed on his shirt, but I think I was the only one who managed to jab the pin into his neck whilst trying to put the damned thing on.

Friday photos

A non-lycra cyclist taking it easy on the way to work. If you can work in casual clothes like jeans, cycling is pretty easy.

Bike and a suit bag
This guy obviously doesn't work in jeans, since he's lugging a suit bag to work.

Rush hour in the bike lane
And there were at least half a dozen banked up behind me as well. That's what happens when you sleep in - you get stuck in traffic like this.

Sunken shopping trolleys

The tide was right up last week - this week it's right down. I counted 8 shopping trolleys in one shallow section of The Bay - there were more to the left and right of this photo. I wonder if the rowers who come up this way ever catch a trolley with their oars?

Oh, to be that skinny.

My Andrew Bolt submission
I emailed this in for the "view from a readers window" section.

More of The Bay at dawn

They go that way...

...and then they go this way.

Thursday 1 September 2011

Crooks come in all sorts of shapes and sizes

Thursday photos

Courier. 'nuff said.

The morning "snake" winding its way across the Pyrmont Bridge. There were 4 bikes in front and half a dozen behind, all weaving in and out of the pedestrians.

I ride in lycra, and move as fast as I can. This bloke was wearing suit pants and black business shoes, and moving at a very relaxed pace. It's fine at this time of the year when it's below 20 degrees in the morning, but in a month or two, this would be a great way to arrive at work totally sweaty.

Another electric bike. I seem to be passing one of these every day.

The Blob
I know what you're thinking - "What the hell is t his photo all about?"

Those white blobs on the oval are blobs of foam. They've been dropped there by a spray rig to mark the sections that have been sprayed for weeds or whatever. The boom of the spray rig has a nozzle on the end that's connected to a tank of bubble stuff. Every 10-20 feet, it pumps out a blob of foam, and that gives the operator a visual marker as to the area they've covered. I've seen that being done on lots of farms, but never on a city oval. Has the city finally caught up with what the country has been doing for 20 years?