Wednesday 29 August 2012

It's all just ice - right?

OK, as usual, this is me being picky. Our first image is from the SMH, and it shows a story that Ben Cubby ran about melting arctic sea ice. Someone forgot to tell Ben that back in 2011, some kraut dudes from the Max Planck institute wrote a paper saying that we'd never reach a "tipping point" as far as melting Arctic ice is concerned. Anyway, cast your eyes over the photo that the SMH ran to accompany this story about melting Arctic ice.

I did a tineye search on that picture and got quite a few hits. Interestingly, two of those hits were from Time and the Grauniad. Both described the photo as showing melting water in Greenland. 

So why has the SMH chosen a picture that appears to be of Greenland to illustrate a story about the Arctic? Laziness? Sloppiness? I notice they only mentioned Getty Images, and left off Uriel Sinai in the credits. 

I visited the website for Uriel Sinai. He has an entire folder there of shots from Greenland. In fact, this was his home page when I dropped by. So I guess it is pretty clear that this is a photo of Greenland. And it is by Uriel Sinai, who is not credited.

Does this matter?

It matters to me. If the story is about the Arctic, use a photo of the Arctic. Don't use a photo from another region entirely. Be accurate and truthful.

Sunday 26 August 2012

Could sausage rolls get you fired?

After viewing this episode of "bike riders can't cook", which features some chilli laden sausage rolls and a few unsuspecting managers, you realise you could only pull this sort of trick in a workplace with a lot of trust and camaraderie.

I tried making sausage rolls for the kids last week (except I left out the six types of chilli). The kids demolished them. There's a lot to be said for the humble sausage roll.

It gets worse

I took the kids to the park. Whilst one of them was playing on a slide, a little girl came up to me and said, "Are you one of the Masterchef judges?"

Dear I look like the bald, short stumpy Greek git; the fat, overdressed pompous git or the other git?

I think I will ride 1,000 miles this week.

Saturday 25 August 2012

Low Life

I was reading a copy of The Spectator at the dining table. Specifically, I was reading Jeremy Clarke's Low Life column.

The youngest looked at the caricature and said, "Daddy, that's you".

No matter how hard I tried, I could not convince him that it wasn't me.

Maybe I need to clean up my act......

Friday 24 August 2012

The dominant left

Another fascinating article - this time on our tendency to crash to the left.

“…This left twist effect seems to be generally apparent in animals. Circus horses enter traditionally the arena on the right and circle left wards. Foresters know that a wounded deer will always run away left wards, even if the closest forest is to its right. Even bees tend to circle leftwards when they spiral upwards to gain height in the air.

The basic driver behind this phenomenon seems to be the fact that all cells in nature are composed of amino acids which have a left spin. Chemists can manufacture amino acids with a right spin, yet we can’t use them. Apparently both types of amino acids existed in the primordial soup at the beginning of life hundreds of million years ago. Yet life developed only from those with a left spin. The favorite theory is that at that time – when the earth did not yet have the protective ozone shield – radioactive rays from the cosmos did more harm to the amino acids with a right spin. Yet why those with a left spin would be more protected – if at all – is still a mystery.”

People who are lost in the desert tend to walk in circles with a left spin, i.e. counter-clockwise.

Most or our supermarkets are organized the same way: entrance is on the right, the cashier on the left. Studies have shown that customers tend to feel slightly stressed – increased cardiac pulse, elevated blood pressure, slightly faster walking pace – and buy less when they have to walk in the opposite direction.

Same on the sports field: most track and field sports – from the 400 meter distance runner to the hurdle racer, they all run towards their left. Even the everyday jogger tends to run counter clockwise around the field or lake if he has free choice…”

Except from when I've been hit by cars, all my crashes have been to the right - so I am the odd man out here. I have noticed though that when I stop, I unclip my right foot. Most cyclists unclip their left foot.

I liked the bit about running around a track - I haven't run around a track in decades, but last time I did, I always ran counter clockwise. Weird!

I love the smell of hypocrisy in the morning

I just love the recent tone Fairfax has taken regarding the misdemeanours of our Prime Minister.

Consider their lines of thinking:

  1. Fraud, corruption and illegal conduct by Police must be investigated by a Royal Commission. Right now. However, fraud corruption and illegal conduct by union officials and their hangers on are very ho-hum and of no interest to anyone.
  2. Julian Assange must be not be silenced, and he must be given every opportunity to distribute his sensitive, stolen material. However, Larry Pickering has to be muzzled, and his attempts to uncover and distribute material that should be in the public domain are an affront to democracy.
  3. Pickering has been drawing rude cartoons about the political elite since I was a boy. For instance, here's Malcolm Fraser and here's Gough. However, drawing rude cartoons of the current PM is  sexist. I guess when Abbott becomes PM and Pickering starts drawing him without his budgie smugglers on, Fairfax will find that hilarious and will eagerly print his work.
  4. Fairfax thinks that Pickering should not be published because he writes rude and racey things and has a controversial past. Yet they employed writers such as Catherine Deveny and Marieke Hardy who are quite notorious for their low rent, filthy, controversial musings.
Add your own examples as you see fit.

In slush we trust

You can have fun creating your own posters here.

Thursday 23 August 2012

Nutrition and fitness

A couple of interesting posts of training and nutrition from Cycling Tips:

Five sports nutrition myths: the info I got out of it is that cramps are not caused by electrolyte shortages and supplements have the most impact on unfit people.

Chocolate milk - the perfect sports drink. Should be a welcome message for anyone addicted to that stuff. Pity it says nothing about iced coffee.

Coming back from a fitness slump - the comments are well worth a read in order to gain an insight into how some of these super skinny, mega fit people operate and think.

Greendoggle fail

From Carpe Diem:

Layoffs mount at U.S. wind power manufacturing plants as the production tax credit for wind nears its expiration. Another greendoggle for an energy source that can't survive without massive taxpayer life support.

Fail baby, fail.

Monday 20 August 2012

Local elections - Part II

Disclosure - I'm not terribly keen on Angelo. My dislike for him started when he tried to sleaze onto the missus at a council event. If I'd been at the event rather than minding the kids, his nose might be a bit bent to one side in the above photo. But now that is over and done with, let's look at the guff.

This pamphlet is a lot larger and wordier than the Liberal party version. However, it boils down to the same sort of solid, boring, local government stuff. Libraries, parks, playgrounds, footpaths, roads and rates. The only thing that doesn't get a mention is rubbish. Good.

The top group photo shows Angelo in front of a crowd of locals. The bloke on the far left is a Labor counciller and the bloke on the far right is also a Labor councillor - and he was investigated by ICAC in 2010 over some property that his wife owned, but was renovated using Burwood Council staff and resources. I presume everyone else in that photo represents every last Labor party member in the area.

I have to chuckle at the last promise, which is about "fighting overdevelopment". Angelo has been Mayor during the development of the Rhodes peninsular, which is a massively built up residential area. I see nothing wrong with that - it's a good shopping precinct now, a former industrial wasteland now has homes on it for about 10,000 people and it's right on the train line. What the hell is wrong with development? And how do you define "overdevelopment"? Is it like pornography - "I know it when I see it?"

Sunday 19 August 2012

Soot - the carbon behind the melting in Greenland?

What causes melting in Greenland - CO2 or plain old C?

The soot from forest fires in Asia and factories in China might be more to blame than the CO2 produced by you and me.

Running the numbers on wind power

An interesting view on how wind power actually produces more CO2 than gas fired generation - when you take into account the impact of wind on the rest of the power generation system.

[A]s wind rarely produces more than 25% of its faceplate capacity it needs 75% backup - which due to the necessity of fast response times needs OCGT generation (CCGT can respond quickly but the heat-exchanger systems upon which their increased efficiency relies, cannot - so CCGT behaves like OCGT under these circumstances). CCGT produces 0.4 tonnes of CO2 per MWh, OCGT produces 0.6 tonnes. Thus 0.6 tonnes x 75% = 0.45 tonnes. Conclusion: Wind + OCGT backup produces more 0.05 tonnes of CO2 per MWh than continuous CCGT.

I love this comment, although he proceeds to go over the top by invoking Godwin's Law:

the purpose of the windmills is not to save CO2. it's to provide carbon trading/offset receipts for the banks and to support the Euro by a non-national taxation. There is also the political narrative: they are like the Easter Island Statures, a symbol of the power of the ruling elite whilst the workers willingly toil at green jobs.

More on BBC bias

More on the favouritism the BBC shows the Grauniad.

The Guardian takes a number of assumptions for granted: police are racist, businesses are corrupt, Israel is wrong, US Republicans are extreme, the welfare system is ungenerous, immigration is desirable, austerity and growth are antonyms. All newspapers have prejudices, of course: they would be extremely dull if they didn’t. The difference is that the BBC is taxpayer-funded and obliged by its Charter to be neutral.

You could substitute the ABC and Fairfax in there without any issues at all.

Saturday 18 August 2012

How to make a Ford go faster

How do you make a Ford ute go faster?

Put it on a tow truck.

If I get away from work and the weather is nice, I like to extend my ride home sometimes by heading up to the Abbotsford Rowing Club. I'm not heading up there for dinner or a beer - it's just a nice ride up the Abbotsford peninsular, and on the way back, I can treat myself to the occasional gellato from Trovatino. It's worth the extra few kilometres in order to get one of those inside me.

Post gellato, I generally don't take the most direct route home - I meander around the suburbs for a bit, looking at this and that. If you've got time to stop for a gellato, there's no need to go racing home at 100mph. Sometimes I'll head down to the water, and at other times, I'll go "inland".

And that's how I spotted this ute being towed away. Serendipity.

They've all scone - just like that

When I was a young bloke, morning tea ("smoko") was part of the daily pattern of life, and scones were a regular occurrence at morning tea.

(As an aside, I wonder how many shearing sheds now come equipped with fancy coffee makers? Back then, you either brought your own coffee in a thermos, or put up with whatever instant muck was available in the shed. Or you had tea. Have shearers also been infected with the fancy coffee virus?)

I can't remember the last time I had home made scones - probably decades ago. Sure, I've had them in tea rooms from time to time, but never as part of a work break and freshly made on the spot.

I had a go at making them last weekend, using a Delia Smith recipe for buttermilk scones. Of course I had no buttermilk, and used plain old milk instead. They seemed to be a bit dry, but they came out fine. They were gone in about 10 minutes.

I just had to repeat the exercise this weekend. This time, I had buttermilk, but not enough butter. Ah well, they seemed to work when topped up with margarine. I felt that the batter was just a little bit dry, so I put in a teaspoon more buttermilk. The scones rose all right - they pretty much exploded upwards. And then they fell over like a tower constructed by dodgy Pisan builders. I used the smallest cookie cutter that we have - maybe they would have worked better if I'd used the next size up...more base for the height.

And who cares? No one. Once broken in half and smothered with jam and cream, they were scoffed in minutes.

Good BBC doco

If you've got a spare 50 minutes and are interested in the fall of the Ancient Kingdom in Egypt, this is worth a look.

Friday 17 August 2012

Cyclists and third party insurance

Being election time for local government, it's policy silly season. The Tele ran a story today on the Living Sydney candidate and their policy to force cyclists to take out third party insurance.

I'm not against cyclists having insurance - I buy cyclist specific insurance every year that covers the whole family, and I'll continue to do so as long as we're all cycling regularly. You'd be a bloody nong to ride a lot and not be covered by insurance of some sort. If my experience is any guide, the more miles you do, the greater the chance that you'll be coming off - either through your own fault or someone else's.

I haven't had to make a claim on my insurance yet, even though I've been hit twice by motorists. I sued one bloke, and it cost his insurance company a fair whack to cover my medical bills and time off work. I was a bit tougher when the next bloke hit me - I wasn't damaged badly enough to bother with lawyering up. It still cost me a few grand in lost wages and medical expenses, but I figure it's not worth pursuing if it's less than $5,000.

So I believe whole heartedly in insurance.

However, I don't see how they're going to make cyclists travelling through the city prove that they have it. Unless they are thinking of forcing cyclists to get a number plate, which is just whacko. Do they have the power to force cyclists using public roads to register? I think not - that would be a state government prerogative.

By the way, I had a look at the Living Sydney website in order to have a proper read of their detailed policy on this matter. Click on this link to see their policies - I promise you won't be disappointed.

(Hint - there's nothing there - just a typical management wank diagram - the sort dreamed up in strategic planning sessions).

The libertarian streak in me also says that taking out insurance as a cyclist should be a purely voluntary decision. On the whole, cyclists don't do a lot of damage to other road users. They're usually the ones who  come off worse in a collision. Sure, the odd pedestrian gets knocked down once in a blue moon, but does that mean that hundreds of thousands of cyclists must then be forced to do something because of the actions of a few? I haven't hit a pedestrian yet, but that is due more to my vigilance, situational awareness, reactions and sixth sense for pedestrian stupidity than anything else. One day, The Force is going to fail me, and I am going to clock some idiot really hard - of course they'll be texting and not looking as they run across the road against a red light at the time - but that won't make me feel much better as I impact with the concrete.

Bugger me

It's local government election time soon, so signs are appearing in front yards and election guff is being stuffed into letter boxes.

The first political pamphlet hit the letter box this week. Bugger me if this isn't the most straightforward bit of electioneering for local government that I have ever seen. All these guys want to do is fix our footpaths, give us somewhere to park when we go to the shops and spruce up the local shopping strip (which is a complete dump by the way).

There's no mention of the usual bete noires of local government - saving the whales, the Palestinians, no nukes, federal industrial relations policy and so on. In short, everything that local government has no control over and no responsibility for.

It's nice to see a return to things like the three Rs - roads, rates and rubbish. I can't wait to see what the other mobs are proposing.

Blow me down

Blow me down, if we don't get yet another storm today. Trees down, probably places without power. All the usual stuff that happens when the wind blows hard.

It's days like today that I normally try to split from work a bit early to avoid the worst of it. Of course, Sod's Law had to kick in today. I left early, rode during the worst of it, just about killed myself battling the head winds...and then an hour after I got home, about the time I would normally be leaving.......dead calm. Not even the merest zephyr of a breeze.

I'm so knackered, I'm almost falling asleep standing up.

Scolded by a cop

I had the unusual experience this week of being scolded by a motorcycle cop - whilst we were both in motion. He didn't pull me over - he pulled up alongside, lifted his visor and told me that although I was breaking no laws and had every right to ride where I was, I shouldn't be doing it!

Here's the background.

I was riding through The Rocks, which is a heavily pedestrianised, historical, touristy area. The roads are narrow, twisty and speed limited to 40km/h. Most traffic never gets up to that speed - there are too many speed humps and pedestrian crossings for vehicles to ever get over about 30. Plus there are all the tourist buses crawling along, taxis looking for fares and tourists blundering around in cars (looking for a non-existent parking spot) or on foot (taking photos of the various sights).

The road itself has also been excavated in quite a few spots of late to lay cables and repair pipes, and the crews that do that never fill the trenches in properly, so you've got these canyons running every which way across the tarmac which are hell to ride in or ride across. Where there aren't any tarmac canyons, there are sunken manhole covers and pit hatches.

I upset this particular cop by taking a wide line when I hit one particularly bad stretch of blind corners, tourist bus activity, canyons and manholes. You've got two choices as a cyclist - ride to the left of these hazards, which would mean weaving in and out like a drunken Irishman staggering between pubs (and putting yourself in the door zone), or riding to the right, where you can take an almost dead straight line and are well out of the door zone.

I of course always plump for the safer option, which means I am blocking the lane. Did I mention it's also a double white line area, which means no overtaking?

Since all of this is on a slight downhill slope, I have no problem getting up to 35km/h without any effort. I usually don't go any faster, as I don't want to slam into the road canyons that I can't avoid any faster than that. This cop though wanted to go faster than 35 - he wanted to go 40, and he was mighty annoyed that he couldn't overtake.

Normally, the cops are telling us to slow down and take it easy. To not speed like maniacs. Due to the truckloads of glazed eyed tourists in this area, going 40 is always a risk. Just before he overtook me, I kept well to the right to avoid a gaggle of Asian tourists who were stepping out onto the street from behind a van without looking. Common sense says you just don't ride right up alongside cars when this sort of thing can happen.

Oh, and did I mention that I almost bowled over a cop last week doing just that? There is a police station in the Rocks, and they park their vehicles on the street. A young cop walked around the front of a police van and stepped out in front of me without looking first, and I narrowly avoided an "assault police" charge by swerving hard right. He was about as surprised as me. I've learned my lesson - I stay well away from the cars in this area. To cap it off, tourist buses drive through that spot all the time, and they are too wide for the road. It's not unusual to be approaching one of the blind bends and to find a double decker bus coming at you on the wrong side of the road. It's horrible when there's a car next to you trying to overtake, and they suddenly desperately want to get out of the way of the oncoming bus - except you are next to them. No thanks. I'm not getting squashed that way.

After he told me off, I respectfully replied (using his rank) that there was no way I was going to comply - that it simply isn't safe to ride in the zone he wanted me in. He frowned his cop frown - the frown they get when civilians don't comply with directions - and told me off again. I pointed out that there was a bike lane coming up ahead, and that was a safe zone to ride in. The bit we had just been through had no bike lane, and riding to the left is simply stupid. I noticed he wouldn't ride his motorbike where he expected me to ride my bike.

He then gestured at his speedo and said I was going to slow.

Then he noticed that we were doing nearly 40 - the speed limit - and I was able to hold a sensible conversation with him without breathing hard. He frowned at me once more, hit his right indicator and shot off up a side street. Conversation over.

On the way home yesterday, I passed a different motorcycle cop in almost the same spot where I was told off.

He was ticketing a driver for speeding!

Which paper would the ABC prefer?

News from the UK:

A Freedom of Information response obtained by The Commentator website has revealed that the BBC buys more copies of the Guardian than any other national newspaper. Nearly 60,000 copies of Rusbridger’s rag could be found in Beeb buildings between April 2010 and February 2011, over 10,000 more than the Daily Mail. That’s despite the Mail having a circulation approaching ten times that of the Guardian.

Any bets on what the preferred newspapers at the ABC would be? Somehow, I doubt The Daily Telegraph would top the purchasing list.

Sunday 12 August 2012

How not to grow garlic

I'm a bit of an anarchist when it comes to gardening - whatever grows, grows. It's survival of the fittest in my backyard.

I watched a cooking show last year where in one episode, the chef visited a couple of teenage boys who were growing garlic in their mum's backyard and selling it at the markets. I thought that if they could grow it, so could I.

So next time some garlic sprouted in the pantry, I pulled the cloves apart and planted them.

And then pretty much forgot about them. Sure, I had a look at that spot every few months to see if anything garlicky was poking up, but nothing ever seemed to come of that experiment. I guess I planted them at the wrong time of year, or in totally unsuitable soil.

Earlier this week, I started digging the garden over. The annual anarchy is coming to an end - it's time to napalm the lot and start again. Since each garden bed looked like it was a combination of expired tomato plants and weeds, I've had no compunctions about digging it over in the dark, as there appeared to be nothing left worth saving.

I was digging the last bed over today when I spotted some white bulbs. I thought nothing of them, as I dig them up every year. But after turning over the last shovelful, I had a close look at one.

It was clearly a baby garlic head - instead of being one smooth bulb, like an onion, it had lots of little bulbs poking out the sides - each destined to be a clove of garlic. After at least 6 months (maybe longer), the little bludgers had finally decided to make something of themselves.

Too late. 99% of them are now in the bottom of the green waste bin, and I'm not going to bother with ferreting them out and replanting them.


We had a bit of a management reshuffle at work a while back. Responsibilities for various things got shuffled around. I have a pretty reasonable grasp of the detail of what most of the managers around me do, so I was rather gobsmacked this week to discover that one of them had almost no grasp of one function that he had managed for about 4 years.

Let me give an example to illustrate.

Let's say you work in a pub. Six months ago, jobs were shuffled and you became the bar manager, and the bar manager moved over to manage the accommodation section.

One day, the ex-manager walks into the bar and sees a bin full of empty bottles, and goes berserk at one of the bar staff.

"Why aren't these bottles sorted by colour? We've always sorted out glass recycling by colour, as that's what the recycling company demands."

You look at the manager oddly. When he handed over to you, nothing was said about sorting empty bottles by colour. And there never appeared to be any need to do so, as the big empty bottle skip out the back in the car park isn't partitioned into clear, brown and green glass anyway.

All the other old timers look at the ex-manager funny too - they've been there for years, and they've always just thrown all the glass into one big skip.

Being a bit puzzled, but slightly unsure, you climb up and peer into the skip in the car park - it has no partitions, so sorting by colour would be a waste of time.

You check your records going back years - the paperwork you have from the glass recycler has no mention anywhere of glass recycling. There is no chance that 5 years ago, you were indeed getting a partitioned bin, and this changed when you took over without you knowing.

You ring the manager of the pubs down the street and ask them how they recycle - they all do it like you are doing it now (mixing the glass) and laugh at the suggestion that bottles have to be separated.

Your final call is to the glass recycling bloke, who is silent for a few moments when you ask about colour sorting. He's puzzled - why are you asking? You tell him about the ex-manager. He explodes with laughter - so loudly, you have to pull the phone away from your ear.

The final check is to search the records for the first order form for a recycling bin. You find it. It's for a single, unsorted bin. The name and signature and phone number of the ex-manager are on the paperwork. He supposedly ordered it. He supposedly managed it. And he had no idea about any of it.

And then he gets on his high horse and tells you that you are doing it all wrong.

Just gobsmacked.

Two views

Amazing how quickly the weather can turn. On Wednesday morning, it was warm enough for me to shed my jacket after 10 minutes and I rode home in just my jersey. On Thursday morning, it was fine and bloody cold. Friday morning was blustery, but by the afternoon, it was blowing a gale. I saw lots of people walking home with wrecked umbrellas, just putting up with getting wet.

Worth a read

Patrick Moore on the facts and fiction of climate change

Patrick Moore played a foundational role in organizing Greenpeace, perhaps the world's most famous environmental activist group. For several years, he served as the chairman of its Canadian wing. However, he eventually became skeptical of the direction which the group was taking, and disassociated from it.

Trying to explain things to teenagers

Teenagers. They know everything. There's nothing they can learn from adults. Really, there isn't. All that extra life experience you've had, all those successes and failures - that counts for nothing. Because they are smarter than you.

Take our frying pans for instance. We bought some cheap, non-stick ones for frying eggs and things. When Junior started cooking for himself, I pointed out our extensive range of plastic spatulas, and explained how they had to be used to avoid scratching the non-stick stuff off the frying pan.

A year later, my fried eggs and bacon are sticking to the bottom of the pan like it was coated with super glue. So I decide to investigate.

It turns out Junior had been using my BBQ-mate, which is designed for scraping all the burnt, baked on muck off the BBQ hot plate. It's great for scraping immolated sausages from a BBQ, and it doubles beautifully at removing the non-stick coating from cheap frying pans. Using a plastic spatula was obviously too wimpy.

We now have new frying pans.

The BBQ-mate is hiding in the shed. We'll see how long it takes him to scratch the blazes out of the new ones.

The ugliest newspaper in Britain

Pat Condell in another excellent rant.

As I've noted previously, Fairfax source quite a lot of their stuff from the Guardian. But more than just content, I believe the Guardian mindset has totally taken over at the SMH and especially The Age. Which is one reason why they're going down the tubes at a rate of knots. It's not the internet - it's the content, stupid!

Friday 10 August 2012

Blowing in the wind

100km/h gusts reported on Sydney harbour. Icy rain flying horizontally. Temp dropped 8 degrees on the way home.

Interesting night to ride home to say the least.

Wednesday 8 August 2012

Nit picking, sanctimonious twat

At the end of Lilyfield Road, there's a spot where I really get the shits if a car is parked in a particular spot. In order to get onto the bike bridge that crosses a very narrow road, you've got to go up a pram ramp that breaches the kerb. I hate it when cars park too close to that ramp - or park partially across it. There's not a lot of room for mistakes, and you have to be aware of fast moving cars turning into Lilyfield Road from Victoria Road. (I realise this means nothing to non-locals. Let me put it this way - it's a nasty corner where it's really easy for a cyclist to get cleaned up by a car if they don't watch what they are doing).

I was heading for that spot recently when I spotted two cars parked partially across the ramp - enough to be partly but not completely blocking it. I started to steam up; but then I noticed that the drivers were out of their cars exchanging details. They'd clearly had a minor bingle when crossing the Anzac Bridge, and had stopped in the first convenient location to sort out their insurance. Fair enough. There really was nowhere else of them to stop.

So I let it pass, manoeuvred around them and kept going.

As I descended from the bridge on the other side of the road, I noticed that a cyclist had stopped and was berating the drivers. I felt like yelling at them to get a grip; to wake up and assess the situation - but I knew they'd never hear me across four lanes of busy traffic.

So let me just state there that I think that cyclist was a sanctimonious twat. There are times when other people are in the wrong, but circumstances dictate that you give them a free pass.

Monday 6 August 2012


A writing technique I must attempt at some point.

Sunday 5 August 2012


After watching a few episodes of The Men Who Made Us Fat, I was out of bed at sparrow fart and on the road.

It was pretty dark before 0600hrs - so dark, I had to stop and plonk the camera on a convenient fence post in order to steady the above photo. Haven't seen the water this flat and still in ages - there was hardly a ripple for miles.

I thought this bloke was going to wipe out pedestrian after pedestrian with that wide load on the back. However, he handled it pretty skilfully, and didn't whack anyone whilst I was following him. The pannier that the box is sitting on seemed to have some sort of electric motor in it - he hardly had to pedal at all.

The harbour was lined with photographers this morning to capture a cruise ship coming in.

Thar she blows.

And that's the view the people on the ship would have seen. Just lovely. It was worth freezing my balls off for.

Saturday 4 August 2012

The men who made us fat

I'm watching this series on Youtube after reading about it in the Spectator.

I loved this snippet about Earl Butz, Nixon's secretary of agriculture, who had to resign after saying to journalists that what black men wanted was "tight pussy, loose shoes and a warm place to shit".

I can't understand why he felt the need to put "black" at the start of that statement. Everytime I walk into the bathroom lately, I find that Junior has left the heater on full blast.

Anyway, enjoy the series.

Screwing the client

I just had a horrible thought.

The former principal of the law firm Keddies is being dragged through the courts at the moment in an attempt to reclaim money that he gained by overcharging his clients. The amount of overbilling is in the millions.

Keddies was bought out by Slater and Gordon.

Julia Gillard worked for Slater and Gordon when she was "young and naive".

I've known a few lawyers who have worked for big firms - the pressure to bill is intense. Just about everything you do has to be charged back to a client. Opening mail, reading emails, photocopying, shifting a file etc etc etc - it's all billable.

Gillard was sleeping with her client, Bruce Wilson, when she was at Slater and Gordon (and young and naive). Now I've known a few people who have had work related liaisons, and some of them have been prone to having a bit of nookie during the working day. This has ranged from checking into a hotel for an extended lunch break to a quickie on the fire stairs.

So, here's the thoughts (prepare to flush your brain out afterwards).....

Let's imagine Gillard was so taken with Bruce Wilson, that she might have entertained the thought of a bit of rumpy-pumpy during office hours. After all, she's human like the rest of us (I think). If she followed through with that, would she have been pressured by Slater and Gordon's billing policy to bill the AWU for that time? In other words, would they make you screw your client for screwing your client?

SMH - still hopeless with numbers

The SMH ran a story by Georgina Robinson this week regarding the Mayor of London getting hung up on a flying fox. As Georgina told the story, Boris "was left dangling on a zip wire 40 metres above the ground".

The story came with a video and some photos. Judge for yourself whether Boris was left dangling 40 metres or 4 metres above the ground.

The article also mentioned that "He spoke to the crowd, which had gathered beneath him", which would be a bit difficult if he was 40 metres up in the air. Ever tried to have a conversation with someone 40 metres away?

"I see carrots"

Spent a sleepless night on the couch last night. I was happily watching a movie when Number 2 called out to me around 11pm - he'd gone to bed feeling a bit off, and had woken up and chundered all over himself, the floor rug and his bed.

After washing him off, I stuck him in our bed with a bucket - there was no way he was going back into his bed. I went back to the couch, and settled in for the night.

I didn't want him in the middle of our bed - not if he woke up at 1am and needed to puke again.

Which he did. And he missed the bucket next to our bed. Thank goodness for floorboards. He proceeded to repeat that about every half hour until 0800hrs.

I dragged the floor rug out to the backyard this morning to hose it off. As I was hanging up the washing, Number 3 decided to inspect the damage. He peeled back the folded over rug and gave it a close inspection.

"Daddy, I see carrots".

And I'm sure that won't be the last time you see them either.

A few links

Here are a few linkies. For some reason, links show up properly in IE with this new template, but not Chrome, Firefox or Safari. Trust me - each of the things in italics below is a link.

Dumpster catches fire and melts streetlights - full time climate alarmist blames global warming. Seriously - did the alarmist not stop to think for a minute about how hot light bulbs get when they've been on for a while, and then consider why light fittings don't melt every day?

The death of the piano. Fun factoid of the day - the average life span of a piano is 80 years.

Duck confit - recipe of the day. Next time I have a free Saturday morning, I'm going to drive out to the Flemington Markets and visit the duck man. Cheapest ducks I've found so far.

Don't abuse staff at a drive thru, video tape them and post the results on the internet. You'll get fired. I don't know what was going through the head of this bloke. OK, you don't like the political stance of the owner of a business - fine. Don't buy their products. Write to the owner and tell them what you think. But to abuse blameless drive thru staff? And to record it as well, even when the staffer tells you that she's uncomfortable with you doing so? That's the height of gutlessness. Kudos to the drive thru lady - talk about calm and cool under fire.

A nice little video to start the weekend. This is produced by CANdo. For some reason, Fairfax have their knickers in a knot about, but they never show an equal amount of concern about organisations like GetUp.

Friday 3 August 2012

Sir John Keegan

Well I'll be. One of my favourite writers has died.

Obit here.

I think I've torn my man boobs

I had to make a change on the bike last week - the mini-pannier had to come off. That meant returning to riding to work with a small back pack containing clothes and things.

The pannier didn't weigh much; and neither does the back pack. However, just the small adjustment - that small shift of weight - has had some decidedly odd effects.

For starters, the first time I got out of the saddle to really hit the pedals, I sat straight back down again as the back end felt like it was about to wobble off. The bike was flipping so quickly from side to side, I thought either the back wheel had collapsed or one of the rear stays had cracked or a weld had split. Nope. It was simply the removal of the weight represented by the pannier. When you stand up, you throw the bike from side to side as you pedal. The weight of the pannier slowed that motion down quite considerably. With the weight gone, I was throwing the bike all over the place.

Then I started having trouble cornering - I almost smacked into a few kerbs because I wasn't leaning over hard enough. Previously, the weight of the pannier would pull the bike over - now, I have to work at pushing the top of the bike down when going fast into a corner.

I'm sure an engineer could explain the impact on the various forces governing the bike, but the really strange result has been what's happened around my chest. After a few days, it felt like my pecs (at least that's my description of the things under my nipples) had detached from the underlying muscle and that every intercostal muscle had been ripped. I also got a bad attack of what I thought were stomach cramps.

It turns out the "stomach cramps" was actually my abdominal muscles protesting at having to do some unusual exercises. Again, just that small shift in weight off the rear meant different stomach muscles were being used to balance the bike and counteract my leg movements.

Things seem to have settled down now - I managed to get home without scraping any concrete off kerbs with my pedals, and the "cramps" have disappeared. But how weird is that? You shift about 800 grams of weight, and all hell breaks loose.

Wednesday 1 August 2012

Just desserts

I really have a strong dislike for tradies in utes. They always seem to be furiously speeding from one place to another, and I've had multiple close encounters at Stop signs, roundabouts and traffic lights where they've blown through without giving way. Yes, some cyclists do that (1 in 7 was my count this evening), but if a cyclist runs a red light at 30km/h and crashes into a car, they'll come off worst, and it's all their own fault. If a ute runs a red light at 70km/h and hits a bike, it's game over for the cyclist - and it isn't the cyclist's fault. For people who work with tape measures, tradies also have a hard time judging distance - they're some of the worst offenders when it comes to ripping past me with a few inches to spare.

So I was quite delighted this morning to find this tradie pulled over by the Plod. The most annoying thing was that I'd blown my nose a bit further back down the road, so I didn't have the opportunity to leave a calling card on their bonnet as I went past.