Friday 31 May 2013

A good day for some

After days of mist and fog and rain, it was nice to see the sun for once. And fluffy pink clouds.

It was a lovely morning for a ride - not such a good morning to be driving (or crashing or breaking down) on the Anzac Bridge. The white care above was stuck in the middle lane with the bonnet up - the police turned up just as I got there. About 100 metres further up the bridge, there was a ute parked in the left hand lane with the hazards on - the driver was yaking on the phone and I couldn't work out if he too had broken down, or if the bloke above had smacked into the back of him and he was reporting the prang.

Not that I really cared much. I simply pitied the drivers that would be stuck in a rather large traffic snarl if those two cars weren't moved quickly.

Thursday 30 May 2013

The fog

There's a bridge in there somewhere.

There's a bay out there somewhere too. Not too much rowing going on in that murk.

Teenage kitchen mayhem

The teens got it into their heads last night to bake some biscuits. I suggested they print out the recipe, pulled out the ingredients they needed, told them to put away the washing up first and left them to it.

I saw the first batch come out of the oven - they were actually pretty good for a first attempt. In fact they were pretty good full stop. I then hit the sack, expecting that they'd clean up after themselves.

Hahahaha - I am such an idiot. I got up to find the kitchen awash with dirty utensils, and the bench tops caked in hardened biscuit dough. The teens of course were out, so I was stuck with the washing up. What astounded me is that they used every single mixing bowl that we own - all 9 of them - to make a batch of biscuits.

For crying out loud - it's not like they were making Heston's black forest gateau, which takes more utensils, gadgets, bowls and trays than I can count to produce. In fact it needs about three kitchens to come up with the different layers.

I need to have some words with them about efficiency and effectiveness in the kitchen. And washing up after themselves. Plus they didn't leave me a single bloody biscuit!

The feeding zone

No, I am not talking about a section of road in a race where team staff hand out bags of food to the likes of me. The idea of me being able to grab a bag at 40km/h, sling it over a shoulder, rifle around inside for goodies and not crash into dozens of riders around me doing the same thing is laughable. If I want a feed during a ride, I stop at a cafe and lunch like the French.

What I'm referring to is the optimum time to have lunch, assuming you've ridden to work and are planning on riding home. If you eat too early, you'll be starving by the time you're hopping on the bike. Too late, and you're riding home feeling like your guts are full of half a buffalo. Which is what I did today - after being trapped in a long running meeting, I was famished by the time I emerged from the office.

The solution?

An enormous burger with a side serving of onion rings.

Geez, it was good. But boy, did I pay for it a few hours later when it was time to dash. My guts were still grinding through the better part of the back end of a cow - it felt like I'd swallowed half a breeze block.

So the feed zone for me is around noon, and I have to stick to foods that won't wipe me out on the ride home. Creamy pasta is a disaster. The only pasta I can eat for lunch is home made stuff that isn't heavy as lead. Salads can be too light - if I have salad, I definitely need a pre-ride afternoon snack. Same goes for laksa - I love the stuff, but it doesn't fill me up. Laksa + no snack = bonking on the way home.

Most Indian and Chinese dishes are also a disaster - if I'm going Chinese, I stick to steamed fish and stir fried vegies. Fish and chips are a no-no. Any form of Subway, McDonalds, KFC or pizza is definitely to be avoided at all costs. Thai food is generally pretty good, and I love a good green papaya salad. The only downside there is the chilli tends to lead to an unpleasant afterburner effect.

This does tend to limit the options a bit - except that I've found I can eat just about anything the Japanese care to throw at me. The only downside there is the cost. If I could afford it, I'd have a bloody enormous bento box lunch every day - preferably with lashing of eel.

Tuesday 28 May 2013

Melbourne weather in Sydney

Flipping Mexicans - they come north and bring their blasted weather with them. Cold and dry one morning, warm in the afternoon, raining the next morning, sunny all day and then rain on the way home. Thick fog this morning followed by sunshine and then more rain.

The fog this morning was that thick, surreal stuff that we don't get that often in Sydney. Visibility was about 100 metres at best and it did a good job of keeping people in bed. Gone are the days of fighting through packs of pedestrians walking around the Bay Run - I saw no cyclists this morning and only a handful of joggers. You've got to be tenacious to get out of bed in this weather and exercise - it's no wonder most people get fat over winter.

Although it's been wet and cool, the weather has been anything but miserable. It drizzled on the way home last night, but I reckon the dampness when I got home was 50% sweat and 50% drizzle. It was the sort of drizzle that you'd barely bother putting up an umbrella for.

What gobsmacked me though was the reaction of the teens when I got home. Their sport today was cancelled because of the rain - because the teachers are afraid of the OH&S paperwork they have to fill out if someone slips over on the wet grass.

Yep. In case someone slips WHILST PLAYING SPORT on the wet grass.

Oh dead God...........

Monday 27 May 2013

That sucks

Riding in the snow really doesn't appeal to me.

Cadel Evans is fuming after a mechanical problem with his bike in snowy conditions cost him his second placing at the Giro d'Italia on the penultimate stage.
In a three-week race contested in the most brutal of weather conditions, it was a desperately cruel blow for the 36-year-old Australian who has sent a strong message to those who doubted he could rediscover good form ahead of the Tour de France.
With his bike malfunctioning for the last 2km up the last climb to the Tre Cime di Lavaredo summit, Evans lost a further 1m30 seconds to be 5:52 behind stage winner and race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), who was all but assured of a glorious victory in his home country.
Much more painfully, he was powerless to stop Colombia's Rigoberto Uran (Sky) taking 1:11 from him to overtake him in second place with Evans 1:09 behind in third.
Evans brushed aside his BMC Racing team staff as he dismounted at the finish, examining his gears and bike and seeing the sprockets covered in slushy snow which may have prevented him using his chosen gear.
I have enough trouble with my gears when it rains - the front derailleur gums up with grit and stuff and sticks on the big cog, so I tend to find myself unable to change down when I really need to. I'm now quite adept at unclipping my right shoe and then belting the derailleur with a sideways blow with my toes in order to get it onto the small cog. Trouble is, that trick only works on the front cog. Snow would be a nightmare on the rear cluster. I have heard stories from Canberra riders about cables freezing and refusing to move in winter.

Cadel will just have to take a lesson from me - when the conditions are awful, carry a very small can of WD40.

Sunday 26 May 2013

Arts, crap and all that

Tim Blair draws our attention to a crappy new exhibition:

Difficult territory is a cornerstone of the visual arts – so artist Mikala Dwyer knew it would be confronting last night when she invited Balletlab dancers to empty their bowels as part of a performance at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art.
The two-hour act saw the six dancers, masked but naked beneath sheer garments, move around a room in the gallery before sitting on transparent stools and performing – only if they were moved to do so – what is usually one of our most private and rarely discussed daily acts. 

I spent half an  hour this morning searching for the annual reports of the organisations involved - Balletlab and the ACCA. I gave up trying to untangle the spaghetti-like tangle of funding sources - the way that our money is funneled to these organisations via state and federal bodies is unbelievable.

Let's just ignore the funding for a while. We know that tax dollars get poured into all sorts of weird art every year that seems to be viewed largely only by a small elite. I could rant all day about that.

Instead, let's talk about the fixation of this artist on crap - and what that says about the world today.

I have dealt with a lot of crap in my life, so I'm not squeamish about it. I've shoveled large amounts just about every sort of domesticated animal crap you can think of - horse, cow, sheep, chicken and pig. I've spent time around large flocks of chooks, ducks and geese, and believe me, they can  produce a lot of crap. Remember when cars didn't have air con and you left the windows down in summer? I learned quickly not do to that if chooks etc were around - it was a quick way to end up with eggs and crap all through your car.

I've crapped in the bush more times than I want to think about. You don't wander off into the bush alone when on a patrol or in a fighting position - you crap where someone can see you and watch over you. If you don't like crapping in front of other people, stay away from the army. The video below is not a bad depiction of how things can be. The army made me an expert at digging, constructing and filling in 4 hole crappers. I always managed to do something stupid that resulted in me getting the crap jobs.

Crap is something that has to be dealt with - if you don't deal with it properly, you end up with Cholera outbreaks in Haiti that kill thousands of people.

We forget how awful most cities were until proper sewers were installed. The annual death rates from crap related diseases were incredible. If you've got some time to kill, I strongly recommend having a look through Sewer History. It's fascinating.

We don't have to deal with crap anymore. When we need to crap, we don't need to go outside, dig a hole, crap, and then have a look at the crap as we shovel some dirt onto it. The largest domesticated dogs don't produce anything like the amount of crap that you get from the horses that a farm of 70 years ago would have had. We no longer see horses in our cities - cars having seen to that. Disposable nappies have largely removed the need to deal with the crap our kids produce. Thanks to the flush toilet and a host of other advances, crap is largely removed from our lives. The only time crap gets reintroduced is when we travel to the third world and find out how the poor deal with crap. Or more likely, fail to deal with it.

Which is probably why artists are fascinated by it - they no longer have to deal with it. Our modern life has removed us from farms, farm animals and long drop toilets. Shoveling crap, or stepping in it, is no longer a daily problem. Hey - that's an invention I forgot - those little plastic bags you use to pick up dog crap. Even dog crap has largely (but not entirely) disappeared from the urban landscape.

I have only one thing to say to everyone involved in this arts project - go spend some time on a proper working farm - preferably a dairy perhaps. You'll be over this crap before you know it.

Saturday 25 May 2013

I'm so tough, I'm amazed I haven't rusted

The office isn't equipped with enough bike parking for everyone that wants to ride when the weather is good - if you aren't in the garage by 0730, good luck with finding an easy place to park the bike. It reached the point this year where we were going to have to start double stacking to fit them all in. Cycling to work, and on weekends, has become so popular that the company is now handing out branded kit to cyclists for participation in events, and the last such event saw a pack of 30 of my work mates tooling down the highway together.

That was summer. When the weather was nice.

It's now getting pretty ugly. It's not that cold yet - I haven't switched over to the full length gloves and dug out the undershirts - but it's nippy enough to need booties and limb warmers. And we're now getting rain reasonably frequently.

I don't mind the rain, as the cloud cover makes for a warmer morning. Yes, there is a big difference between 7 degrees and 11 degrees, even if one is dry and one is wet. For me, a wet 11 degrees is comfier than a dry 7 degrees.

The rain though has washed away all the soft cocks. There were a few days last week where mine was the only bike looking for a parking spot. Everyone thinks I am nuts, but the only things you need for riding in the rain are a good spray jacket and a tough mental attitude. The body might be soft, but the attitude is not. Whenever I start riding on a miserable, dark, wet morning, I think of this:

  • I slept in a warm, dry bed last night
  • I had a full night's sleep
  • In 45 minutes, I will be in a hot shower
  • After the shower, I will dress in dry clothes
  • After that, I will have a good breakfast with a nice coffee
I then think back to my time in the reserves many years ago, and the miserable conditions during every winter exercise. Broken sleep. Hard ground. No shower for a fortnight. Rat packs. Rat pack coffee. Being wet and cold for days at a time. Filthy clothes. Shaving with cold water. Thawing frozen fingers in a container of coffee.

Compared to then, riding to work is pretty comfortable. So I suck it up and turn the pedals, and before long, I'm relaxing in that hot shower.

Goat over, goat out

When I want to wind up my green-leaning friends, I tell them about how I want to get a mountain bike and start riding in national parks.

With a rifle on my back.

I call it environmentally friendly feral animal reduction.

Here's a nice story (with video) on how a national park in the Galapagos has been clearing feral goats which have denuded the vegetation.

I worked on a sheep station up north for a short period and saw the damage that large numbers of feral goats did to the vegetation - essentially, they stripped everything bare and left a dust bowl behind. Since they could climb trees to a reasonable height, they took out the trees as well as the grass and shrubs. Unless you've been there and seen the goats in action, it's pretty hard to explain it to a Balmain dweller who hasn't set foot in anything rougher than their local council-provided landscaped park (with doggie cafe and nice lattes).

I've also been to Kakadu and seen the damage done by wild pigs around the water holes - it's really impressive. Greenies would go nuts if I drove my 4WD around and around a water hole and messed it up beyond belief, but they seem to have no issues with pigs doing the same damage (and more).

I'd steer clear of eating any pigs I shot due to worries about disease, but I am fond of goat curry. If I do splash out and get the mountain bike, the hunting licence won't be far behind.

Just what we need - artists defined as "key workers"

The story - there were 15 or so "artists" living in a run down house in a very posh suburb in the eastern suburbs, until the owners finally got around to doing the place up and kicked them out. The house was so decrepit, they were paying $500 per week.

That warmed the cockles of my heart. In my younger days, I too spent years crammed into low rent flea pits with all manner of neer-do-wells. It took me back to a time when I was carefree and had enough cash in my pocket for at least two raucous nights out per week. At one point in the late 1990s, I spotted an ad in the paper for a very large, relatively cheap house at Bondi. It was obviously a dump, and it would have required 7 or 8 people to live in it to afford the rent of about $100 a week each. I was sorely tempted to take the lease and then fish around and collect a gaggle of bums to share the place.

It's a problem faced by aspiring young creative people across the city: how to afford to pursue an artistic career in Sydney, rated this year by The Economist as the world's third-most expensive city after Tokyo and Osaka?
The City of Sydney is proposing one answer. The council is pushing to have artists included in the definition of ''key workers'' - a category traditionally limited to low-income public sector workers who provide essential city services such as police, nurses, teachers and paramedics. The change would make artists eligible to apply for the limited supply of affordable housing set aside for key workers.
''There's all kinds of workers that a city needs, and not all of them will earn $100,000 a year but they are still crucial to city infrastructure and city liveability,'' Rachel Healy, who runs the council's cultural policy, says. Even established artists often earn well below the average wage, and ''there's a strong view that artists should be recognised as key workers''.
While all young people are hit by the high cost of housing in Sydney, there are strong economic and cultural arguments to help early-career creative artists to stay in the city, Healy says.
The creative industries contribute $8.2 billion to the city economy, and the sector is growing faster than all other industries, according to a recent state government draft report.
Creative people contribute much to the liveability of a city, and that cultural overlay helps attract mobile, educated graduates from all industries, Healy says. If creatives are priced out of the city, ''the overall experience of Sydney is profoundly compromised,'' she says. ''It's a very different kind of problem than, 'Oh well, it's just a bit sad that it's only the lawyers and accountants live here'.''
Ah, those were the days.

Anyway, how is a struggling artist supposed to make do in an expensive place like Sydney?

Simple - do what we did. Grow up and get a fucking job.

Tuesday 21 May 2013

When did young drivers become so pathetic?

When I was young, I drove like my nuts were on fire and I needed to get somewhere very fast in order to put them out. A slew of accidents testified to the fact that I thought I was a much better driver than I really was, coupled with excess speed and a fairly reckless attitude around getting from A to B.

Whilst there are still plenty of young drivers wrapping themselves around power poles at 0300hrs, I've noticed an increase in totally pathetic P-platers. My weekend road trip took me through a number of fixed speed cameras. They were advertised well in advance, so there was no hope of anyone actually getting booked for speeding. However, instead of slowing down to say 89km/h to go through a 90km/h camera, I was stuck behind a series of young numpties who insisted on slowing down to 60km/h in a 90 zone.

60!! If the kids weren't in the car, I would have been turning the air blue with expletives. What's gotten into the little buggers?

Monday 20 May 2013

More adventures in Gongolia

Spent the weekend at a friend's place down the coast, just past Gongolia. I've come back without the major symptoms of Gongoloidioness, which generally involve writing long rants about random stuff.

I took the bike. I'm trying to decide whether that was a mistake or not. The land around our place is relatively flat. The land where we stayed was anything but, and I failed to consult a topographic map before going on my ride. Hills. More hills. Huge freaking hills - one after the other. Good for your fitness, but insanely hard work. I thought I was going to die.

But dying of heart failure on the outer Gongolian hills was the least of my worries. Getting mangled on the drive back was a greater risk - because some of the morons driving home on Sunday night were either driving with two blown headlights, or they couldn't work out why they had a hard time seeing where they were going on a pitch black freeway at 9pm. Don't ask me what it is about Gongolia that does this to people, but it's pretty frightening.

Thursday 16 May 2013

Death to flappy straps

I hadn't thought about this in years, but it was forced into my consciousness recently.

I have a thing about flappy straps on back packs. Those of you who have lugged the green variety around should understand my lunatic obsession. When I get a new back pack, the first thing I do is set the straps to the correct length, then either cut off the excess strap or roll it up and bind it with insulation tape (black only). Or I cut a fair bit of strap off, leave a bit in case I need to loosen it later and then bind up the excess straps with tape.

There can be no flappy straps. All loose straps must be neatly tidied away.

I hadn't even realised I was doing this until Junior borrowed a back pack recently. When it was returned, all the straps were flapping loose - he'd pulled off the tape to adjust the straps, but then hadn't tidied them up again before returning it. (Actually, I found it on the floor in his bedroom under a pile of rubbish, socks and noodle packets when I had to go looking for it).

I was about to launch into a loud rant when I caught myself and stopped. How on earth was I going to explain the whys and wherefores of this non-flappy strap requirement? It was better to just shut up, find the insulation tape and tidy them up again.

Tuesday 14 May 2013

How crap was your car?

Fascinating look at how the cars of the past have faded away. Here and here.

Monday 13 May 2013

I love these videos

I love these videos that show how quickly new inventions have been adopted over the last century.


Overdrive - a word I suddenly thought about when I was considering taking the teenagers for a practice drive around the block. It's presumably meaningless to most of the teenagers of today - I'll have to ask them if they really understand what it means. Having grown up in the days of the three on the tree, and considering a 4 speed floor shifter to be the height of automotive sophistication, it's amazing to consider the advances that have now given us 7 and 9 speed automatic transmissions, flappy paddles and all that sort of stuff.

Back in the 1980s, I was lent for about a year a small sporty car that had overdrive. I think that was the only car I've ever driven for an extended period that was fitted with it. It was operated electrically by a button on the gear knob. Being an English car, it amazed us by working - most of the time. Whether it produced better fuel economy on the long country drives was another matter - I didn't notice any improvement. However, I'm sure it allowed car salesmen to shift a few more units of product.

I'll have to think of some more words that no longer really have a contemporary meaning. Whilst people still talk about shifting into overdrive, the overdrive itself is long gone as a useful product.

Saturday 11 May 2013

Why can't the public sector develop good services?

Catching a bus isn't that painful these days thanks to a great app called TripView. After trying the free version, I was more than happy to spend a huge $2.99 on the full version. Anyone paying a visit to Sydney with the intention of catching a train, ferry or bus should buy it before they get here. It's brilliant.

It doesn't eliminate the smelly, fat people that you have to deal with on the bus occasionally, but it takes the hassle out of catching public transport at the right time.

The software was developed by a private company. When they started, they didn't have real time information on the location of the bus or train that you wanted to catch - that was introduced this year. In fact, the public monopolies were so manic about keeping their timetabling information to themselves, that the company had to develop a way to scrape the timetables from their websites. It just goes to show how individual persistence and ingenuity can overcome bureaucratic stupidity and inertia.

Many years ago, I used to drink with a bloke who was a software developer for the railways. This was back in the days of the Nokia banana phone - the one used by Nemo in The Matrix. That's how long ago this was. He managed to convince his boss to buy something more advanced than the Nokia 3210, which was the most popular phone at the time. He got one that came with a very basic data service, and in his spare time on weekends, he developed an app that could push timetable information to the phone.

It was pretty hopeless, but it demonstrated what could be done with a very clunky phone and a data service that ran at no more than 9kb/s. It was also expensive to run as data services were in their infancy.

So it ended up being a total failure, but it was an interesting experiment. He tried to get some internal support to take it further - to turn it into a customer facing app - but management couldn't be less interested. Making life easier for the customer was not in their remit. They didn't think anyone would want to use it. In the end, he moved on, and I haven't had a beer with him in quite a while.

When the conservatives got into power, one of the things that they did was to force the public transport operators to open up their timetables and real time information feeds to private software developers. I imagine the Transport Minister had to beat the bureaucrats over the head with a baseball bat for months to make that happen. Resistance would have been intense, and I bet one of the reasons for resisting would be the idea that they suddenly wanted to develop an app like this, and allowing private competition would put that project at risk.

I saw things like that happen a few times when I was in the public sector. The bureaucrats would have less than zero interest in doing something until someone from outside popped up and said that they could do it. With great rapidity, the bureaucrats would circle the wagons and mount a spirited defense to ensure that the interloper didn't trespass on their turf. Once the interloper was beaten back, they went back to doing nothing about that particular issue. Protection of their turf was key. Delivering a service to the public was barely even considered.

So if you ever get to use TripView, you can thank the current Minister and her staff for belting the bloody bureaucrats until they relented and made the timetabling and real time information public. Or at least partly public. Whenever I have to catch a bus or train, I say a silent thanks to Gladys.

And people wonder why I always get my iced coffee from the same place

I have often been accused of being a man of rigid habits - for not trying new things on a whim - and instead sticking to the tried and tested. I won't argue with that too much - I have my moments where I throw caution to the wind and give something new a go, but generally, I go with what I know.

I had an early morning meeting at the other end of town this week, so I breakfasted at Vivo Cafe. After scanning the menu, I discovered that they sold an iced latte that looked awfully like what I always want - just coffee, milk and ice. However, there was a wrinkle, as the menu explained:

Cold Brew Coffee 
All our cold coffee drinks start with this base. This method of cold extraction gives a sweet, full bodied flavour without any bitterness. It takes over 8 hours to extract 3 litres of coffee!

This I was not so sure of. I always ask the barrista to pull me a fresh shot of coffee straight from the machine, and to add extra ice if necessary to cool down the drink. If the coffee and barrista are any good, this pretty much guarantees a good iced coffee. However, I decided I'd give this "cold brew" method a crack.

And the results?

For $5.80, it was almost the most expensive, disgusting iced coffee I've ever sampled. It wasn't the most expensive, or the most disgusting - but it was up there (or down there) with the worst. The coffee was insipid and sickly sweet - almost undrinkable. It's what you get when your palate has been fouled by the commercial "iced coffees" that pollute the supermarkets across the eastern seaboard - products that have 10 times too much sugar in them and nowhere near enough coffee. It's what you get when you believe the market is crying out for yet another sweet, sugary concoction. As if we don't have enough of those already!

The breakfast itself wasn't bad. Can't complain about the service. Price was what you'd expect in the middle of the CBD (ie, expensive). But the iced latte was the pits.

Thursday 9 May 2013

There goes another suit

Every now and then, I have to don black tie for an event. It's been quite a while since I've had to do this - having kids precluded us from attending these sorts of things for some years, but the kids are now at an age where such things are possible again. It was just too expensive to hire a nanny etc on a regular basis - cheaper to stay at home and be unsociable. With an event coming up, I decided tonight I should pull the suit and shirt out of the wardrobe and check that they still fit.

Just one small problem - all the cycling since our last social outing has caused my thighs to swell somewhat. Actually, more than somewhat. "Enormously" would be more accurate. I can't fit into my bloody trousers anymore! With a lot of tugging and squeezing, I managed to get them on and found to my amazement that I could do them up - the waist was fine - but sitting down or moving was out of the question. Bending over would surely result in a great deal of seam splitting in the worst possible place.

So there's an unexpected cost of cycling. New suits.

Wednesday 8 May 2013

The wretchedness of trying to build a cheap PVR

My old PVR is dead. To give you an idea of how old it is, it contains a 40GB hard drive. It's ancient - not even worth trying to salvage any bits out of it.

Since Le Tour is approaching, I need to get something up and running to record SBS. I've been looking at a variety of PVRs that range from very cheap to around 500 bucks, and I'm yet to find one that really stands out and says "buy me". I want something that will record TV and allow me to copy existing movies onto it over the network - I've ripped most of our DVDs, and I don't like the idea of using attached external storage.

I was having a hard time deciding what to do, when I had a brain wave. I bought a new PC recently, so why not rebuild the old one as a PVR? How hard could it be?

Well, for something that seemed so straightforward at first, it's turned into a nightmare thanks to Bill Gates and his crew of useless programmers. I thought about building it with Linux for about 5 seconds, and then gave that idea away. I rebuilt an old laptop last year with Linux, and whilst it worked and ran well, I never gelled with the software. I'm starting to have second thoughts about using Linux.

The only OS I had for the old PC was Vista, so I plonked it on - dead easy. Then I tried to apply service pack 1. I must have tried it 20 times over the last 4 days, and spent hours looking at workarounds on various forums. I've even rebuilt the PC 5 times - no dice. It just refuses to accept SP1.

Which is bonkers, since I rebuilt it and installed SP1 and SP2 just last year. Maybe it hates me for relegating it to the lounge room. I don't know.

Anyway, my advice after dicking around with it for the better part of an entire weekend is just go out and buy a proper PVR that someone else has built.

Monday 6 May 2013

This is good

I picked this ad up over at Samizdata, where they are arguing about whether this ad will annoy the living daylights out of you, or make you want to drink gin.

Right now, I feel like a G&T. I guess it comes down to your personality.

How do you feel about it?

Sunday 5 May 2013

The bloody weather, amongst other things

One thing you develop as a cyclists is a reasonably keen interest in the weather. There's no climate control button on the handlebars that will keep you at a constant 21 degrees, and of course there's no protection from any of the elements. Or insects. Birds. And dogs.

A few short months ago, I was complaining about the heat. Now, I'm worrying about how cold it will be tomorrow morning, and looking forward to when it starts warming up again. We're never satisfied. It's almost always too hot, too cold, too windy, too wet or too dry.

We've managed to get out of town for a few weekends so far this year, travelling down beyond where the Gongoloids live. Or the Gongolians. Either term fits (that's how I describe the denizens of Wollongong and its  environs). On our first visit, I packed the bike and went for an early morning ride around the local area of the beachside town that we were staying in. Bloody hell - I almost died of heart failure on the umpteenth hill. I have never been so knackered and ready to quit on a ride. Ever.

I can do big hills, and I can do a fair few hills, but I can't do lots of big hills with very little spacing between them where you can recover. It was like riding a rollercoaster. I met a few middle aged blokes cycling the other way - they looked as drained and haggard as I. I wonder if they were also asking themselves why on earth they were suffering so on a beautiful Saturday morning.

I missed that Saturday afternoon as I got home, showered and promptly slept for 5 hours.

We have since been back again. For various reasons (cowardice not included), the bike stayed at home. However, we did a family outing and I had the opportunity to drive the same route that I had previously cycled.

Our car, and lots of other cars, struggled to make it up the hills that almost killed me - they were deceptively steep and horribly long. It was no wonder I'd suffered so much.

Next time, I'll have a look at a map before heading out, and take note of the topography.

Saturday 4 May 2013


I think posting has been so light of late because the new template was annoying me no end. It made Blogger as slow as a wet week, and it always screwed up the layout of most posts. So it's back to the future for me.