Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I am still alive

Just in case you were wondering :)

Sunday, November 09, 2008

New Bike Day 2

I woke up this morning and was just itching to go for a ride. I checked the weather and it was meant to be sunny and warmish 24°C. I got straight out of bed and put on my riding clobber, grabbed the iPod and glasses and set off on the new bike. I decided to stick to the eastern trail today just in case anything went wrong with the bike and I had to walk it home. It is an absolutely brilliant bike, it is just so well made and everything works as it should while riding. Gear changes are so smooth and the bike feels so comfortable due to the dual suspension . The dual suspension really swallows every bump and bounce while riding and you instantly wonder why you put up with a hard-tail bike all the previous years. Here's some photo's from today when I gave it it's inaugural "spin".


Pausing at my usual "breather" spot


Next break by the lake.


Action cam of the trail


More of the Trail


Monster hill climb

Saturday, November 08, 2008

New addition to the family.

For a while now I have been considering getting another bike. While there is "technically" nothing wrong with my current bike I have had it for 5 years nearly and I started entertaining the idea of getting it a playmate.

I had my eye on a Trek Fuel EX8 and was pretty sure this was the bike I was going to get. It's top of the line in every aspect and accordingly came with a hefty price tag of $3700. There are however many different "brands" of bikes and what many people don't realize is that there is really not that much difference between brands. They all use the same componentry (Shimano, RockShox, SRAM etc) and this is even more so when you get to bikes costing thousands of dollars. They are all using the BEST components from the same manufacturer and only the bike frame really differs. Then it basically comes down to aesthetics, whether you look at the bike and go "hmmm..that's ok" or "Wow, that's nice!" or "Holy shit!!! That is like what an orgasm would look like if it had wheels and a seat!"


Today I went into the city to various bike dealers because at the moment the weak Australian dollar coupled with the credit crisis and the imminent release of 2009 series bikes across every manufacturers range means that current stock is being run-out. Also, pretty much every brands 2009 bikes would be significantly more expensive than the current years stock. I had a list of bikes that I liked the "look" of and wanted to see if any of them "did it" for me in the flesh.

One bike company has pretty much cornered the market in the "Orgasm Inducing Aesthetics" category, and if they made cars they'd be a kin to Porsche or Ferrari. That company is Specialized and they make arguably the best bikes in the world and are usually ridiculously expensive. They are so expensive that you put them in the "If I won the lottery" wish list and cast your attention realistically at Avanti, Giant, Trek etc brand bikes. Well, during my quest I went to look at Total Rush ( a dealer who only sells Specialized bikes) because they had a HUGE discount on their awesome "Stump Jumper FSR" dual-suspension mountain bike. It was $700 off!!!

I had loaded up my debit VISA card with the required moneys just in case one of the bikes I saw that day was worthy of a purchase there and then. When I got to Total Rush the place was pristine and perfect. It just oozed "quality" and the array of bikes on show were very impressive. There were mountain bikes, road bikes, bmx's etc all with prices on them that made you whistle and step away in case you accidentally broke one and then had to mortgage your house, or kidneys, or sell your kids to cover the cost. The most expensive bike there was as expensive as a new car (over $25,000). I found the Stump Jumper FSR comp bike and gave it a once over....it was absolutely amazing. I picked it up and it weighed only a few kilo's but it just looked so damn nice. I got served by a guy called Simon who was very nice and definitely knew his products. He asked me all sorts of questions about what I currently rode, were I rode and why I thought that this new bike was what I wanted. I answered his questions and he said "you've made a very good choice in the stump jumper". So I took another look at the bike and asked if I could sit on it, he said "yeah go ahead" and smiled, he had probably seen what was about to happen a million times already and was chuckling internally because he knew what was just about to transpire was inevitable.

I hopped on the bike and sat down...the bikes dual suspension adjusted under my weight and it felt like I was sitting on a cloud. I started to grin and looked at Simon and said "Oooooh, I really like this bike!!". He nodded and said "Oh I know, you won't ever regret buying it". So then we start talking options, the bike needed pedals first and foremost (as high end bikes don't come with pedals...you're meant to BYO so they match with your bike shoe clips). Simon asked what pedals I have on my Avanti and I said "clipless". He tried to persuade me to get "clipped" pedals on this bike but I said i really didn't like them and that I actually had some at home that if I ever felt the urge to try them again I could put those on. We settled on some clipless flat-pedals and moved on.

Simon rolled the bike out back to the "work Stand" and hoisted it up, he tightened and adjusted all the gearing and derailleurs, installed the pedals and then told me to follow him to the dyno-trainer. He installed the bike on the dyno and told me to get on and start pedaling. I did, and straight away the reason this bike cost $3600 was apparent. The gearing was as silky smooth as I have ever experienced, you couldn't actually feel the gears change?? That was a huge "WTF" for me. Simon measured my pedal gait and adjusted the seat height and shock absorber rebounds so they were perfect for "me". This was quite an awesome feeling to know that this bike was being made and setup for me and me alone and if anyone else was to get on and ride it the settings would be all wrong and it would ride like crap. After the dyno testing and rider measurement and tweaks I was asked if there was anything I thought was wrong with the current setup? The only thing I didn't like was that the handlebar grips were extremely thin in diameter and it really didn't feel right while holding them...BAM off they came and on went thicker ones which were better but not perfect...BAM off they came and different ones went on until they felt right. Awesome. The bike was just so god damned perfect in every way that I just had to buy it....what was weird (and encouraging) was that no mention had been made up until that point that I would *actually* buy the bike. They obviously just knew that once you'd sat on it and had a pedal and experienced just how perfect the whole thing was....how could anyone say no??

Needless to say, I left the store this day with that bike :)

So now I am the very excited (and proud) owner of a Specialized mountain bike :) It's like a dream come true and hopefully the first of many that I have in the pipeline at the moment. It's such a shame that it's raining here in Melbourne (who'd have thought??) or i'd be out riding this thing like .... well ..... I'm sure you can come up with your own suitable metaphor ;)

Here is the new baby in all it's glory.



And here is a picture to give you an accurate idea of just how brilliant, awesome and SEXY this bike is!!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Two weeks of nothing much happening....that I can talk about ;)

Wow, just saw I haven't done a blog for almost 2 weeks. So what's been happening? Not a hell of a lot really.....work is just being retarded like ...well...unfortunately that's becoming normal..so it's being retarded like normal. Lots of work planned but it is not hard work and just constant and unmotivatingly boring usually. Plus the Mass Spectrometer No.1 has died again and i'm still trying to fix it. As of today I think I have won and it "Should" now work with a bit (lot) of luck.

Foolishly bid on another mountain bike on Ebay. It had no reserve and no bids so I put a dollar on it, it's currently sitting at $167 which is 10% of it's retail price (my Max bid is $250). We'll see how I go....not fussed at all if I don't win. Been out riding most weekends now as the weather gets better and last weekend I went somewhere i'd never been before on the bike and I was so glad I did. It was possibly the best trail I've ever been on...very reminiscent of Germany. It was very "rollercoastery" and again I got overly enthusiastic and nearly repeated my crash that put me in Hospital for 6 months. Luckily I held it and nothing happened.

Today also is 4.00 weeks until I am in Adelaide again. I always look forward to trips to Adelaide for various reasons. However, this time i've actually worked myself into a frenzy of excitement (with a LOT of help from certain friends). It will be so awesome that I really can't wait for the time to arrive. Still way too far away for actual plans to be un-vagued .. but i'll be in Adelaide so that's already a brilliant start. I'll certainly be "doing" a lot that weekend :)

The new season of my Basketball has also been running for 6 weeks now and so far our team is 0 - 6. That's 0 wins 6 losses ..... not pathetic, but frustrating. We are losing mostly by 1 or 2 points so the teams are very evenly matched in this division for once. If we lose next week..then EVERYONE on the ladder has beaten us and we'll pretty much have an un-losable grasp on last place. Here's the ladder HERE My Team is SPAP (feel free to decode that anagram to describe us!). I've been playing well and am in danger of being our best player as I have really been brilliant lately. I've got pretty much 80% of our score every week, not because the rest of the team sucks ;) but because I get good passing and make it hard for the other team to stop me.

Alright...home time. This blog was brought to you by SGE :)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

More biking around




After a hefty sleep-in today I finally dragged myself out of bed at about 11am and decided that rather than go straight into the shower I would go and get sweaty. I grabbed my riding gear, bike iPod and water and set out on the bike once again.


Today I was going to see how quickly I could repeat the journey of a few weeks ago on the Eastlink bike path...but this time I was going to take the Dandenong Creek gravel path for the ultra-hardcore :)




I got to my turn around point from the last ride in about 25 mins...No shit. I couldn't believe that I got there that quickly but I kept going towards the "off-road" portion of the trail. Once I arrived I found out pretty quick that I wouldn't be able to take many photo's .. the trail was insane :) There were a few skinny little paths through the trees and some of the biggest hills I have ever seen. I even had to go down to the "1-1 Granny Gears" on the bike to get up a couple of them.




These photo's are just random ones I found on the internet....because I didn't really have time to take any photo's while riding through the undergrowth and over rocks, logs, mountain cats and bears etc. They do give an idea of the terrain I encountered while riding though. I would have said the terrain and hills I went up, through, over and around were 5 or 6 times steeper... :P

I did manage to take some at a rest stop though after I eventually found my way out of the wilderness ... these ones are real, but nowhere near as exciting :)




All up I was on the bike for a little under 4 hours and I was quite surprised how energetic I still felt at the end considering the completely "non-flat" nature of the trail.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Just Crazy.

I got into work this morning and sat at my desk. As you can see my "Filing System" is well implemented.


Then because I had spent the majority of the weekend cleaning stuff......before I could stop myself...THIS happened.




CRAZYNESS!! 
How will I find anything now???


Saturday, October 04, 2008

Bike Porn.

A while ago someone mentioned to me that they didn't think it was weird that they wanted to sleep with a new bike they had bought because it was so damn sexy. Well, I thought at the time that it, in actual fact, WAS a bit weird :)

Today, My friend Dave and I went looking at bikes in the several hundred bike stores around us out here in outer eastern Melbourne and now I TOTALLY understand the "Sex with bikes" way of thinking. :)

I have had my eye on this bike for a few weeks now. It's a 2009 Trek Fuel EX 8 full suspension Mountain Bike which retails around $4000.


During the week Dave and I researched where we could see one in the flesh and in a true piece of serendipity the BIGGEST Trek dealer in Melbourne is actually in Croydon VIC which is one suburb from where I live :).

We went in and they had 3 Fuel EX8's on display and my GOD were they nice looking bikes, like REAL GOOD LOOKING!! Two had Black frames with red highlights and the other was lime green with white highlights and was awesomely awesome. They were also on sale for $400 off retail. However, not actually being there today to purchase one (as above all else i'd hate to think I was that predictable) I just stood there and salivated. When the bike shop guy asked if I needed any help I almost asked him if I could take the bike to the change room with a box of tissues.....it was just soooo sexy.



Dave and I looked at several stores today and while the Trek was definitely a winner, at the Bayswater Cycles shop another bike caught my eye. This was also right up there in the sexy bike stakes. If only my bed was big enough for a threesome with the Trek and this baby here:


Merida All Mountain 3000-D
(Can you say "PHWOoOAAaaRRR!")

and in the flesh it's just as bike-gasm inducingly good.

This Merida and the Trek both had some of absolute BEST componentry that you can get on Mountain Bikes. Namely 29-Speed Shimano Deore XT derailleurs, Fox shocks, Swalbe or Bontraeger rims and wheels. All awesome and all expensive. The price for each bike was around the $3.5K mark with the Merida being slightly cheaper due to it being the current end of line model. Looks like I'll have to convince myself why I *NEED* one of these bikes in the very near future and take one home and show it a really good time :)

Also, due to nearly every store having a sale on today I managed to also get hold of a Fox Mountain Biking combo of shorts and shirt for the Paltry sum of $160. They are so comfy (I'm actually wearing them now while typing this :P). The shorts are fantastic they have inner chamois shorts (like lycra but not as tight, but make me look just as hot :P) and then outer tough nylon/cotton blend shorts just what you need to go whipping through trees without leaving welts all over your legs.



Wednesday, October 01, 2008

THUD!!


That’s me coming back to reality again after another weekend in Gawler with Rachel and, this time, her full compliment of sick children. I had planned to just have a very lazy weekend with Rach doing pretty much nothing and just relaxing and enjoying her company (because..you know…she’s pretty awesome). The week prior to my visit saw her kids progressively fall victim to a virus that is currently doing the rounds in Gawler so by Friday all 4 kids were ill in varying degrees. 

So I left work at 4pm on Friday and drove out to the airport for my 7pm flight. I again had flights with Tiger Airways (because I am a stupid, stupid man) and true to form the flight was an absolute shambles. I arrived at the Tiger terminal at 5:30pm and joined the HUGE throng of people waiting to board planes. A quick look at the departures board showed that both scheduled flights that Tiger had were already delayed by ½ h. Great. I called the relevant people in Adelaide and informed them that the arrival/pick-up/delivery times would now be later and waited to be processed in the queue. 40mins later I was checked in (carry on only *thumbs up* ) and made my way to the departure lounge and settled in for a long wait with my iPod for company. 

I listened to music for about an hour before it dawned on me that we should actually be boarding now if the plane was 1/2hr delayed?? I went over to the departure board and looked again, the plane had been pushed out another 30 mins and was now running an hour late. I could feel the “Tiger Furrow” forming in my brow and my face contorting into a scowl. I once again informed the people expecting me in Adelaide that there were further delays and I would contact them again when I was actually getting on the plane (it couldn’t be that long …could it?). I sat there patiently waiting with a facial expression probably pretty similar to that which soldiers who are about to go into battle have. I was so annoyed at this airline and their complete inability to be on time EVER. They may be cheap but that doesn’t mean customers should forgive them for being ridiculously unorganised. 

The “revised” boarding time arrived and went. Finally we started boarding the plane at 8:20pm … not bad Tiger only 1hr20m late, a real improvement on the 4 ½ hrs delay last time. Thinking the worst was behind me now an I could finally relax and get ready for all the impending awesomeness of Adelaide I sat in my allocated seat (a Window .. SCORE!) and settled in for the flight. Then the captain of the plane came on the speaker and apologised for the delay citing some rubbish that I didn’t listen to as the reason for it. He finished talking and the cabin crew started doing whatever it is they do. The captain then came on the speaker again and in a shaky voice informed us that Melbourne airport had closed all but one runway due to low cloud cover and there was now a “Queue” for taking off and landing. We had an “Estimated Time of Take-off” 40 mins from NOW. You are F$#king KIDDING ME!!!! The annoyance of everyone on the plane was made known by a tsunami of expletives and sighing. The captain graciously let us all turn on our mobile phones and make calls to inform people of this latest delay. I called my mum and told her of the latest delay and her reply pretty much summed up what I was thinking, it was a four letter word starting with “F”.

Eventually we took off and flew to Adelaide I found mum and we left the airport (paying $4 for parking….WOW. The same park time at Melbourne Airport would have been $20). Mum was tired and didn’t really want to go out to Gawler but she could see how much I wanted too and agreed. Thanks Mum, I’m sure I was too irritated and pissed off after that flight to really show my appreciation at the time, but I REALLY did appreciate it…you rock :). I arrived at Rachels place around 10:30pm and she was still up thankfully. We had a nice chat and a quick Chai (which I forgot to pack yesterday when I left…DOH!)  and went to bed as I was pretty tired.

Saturday arrived and for the life of me I can’t remember what we did in the morning. I remember only going for a BBQ lunch (and Footy Final) at Rachels parents place with all the associated brothers, sisters and respective partners and cousin etc. I also remember that I was somehow able to cut up a whole heap of fruit salad for this party “The wrong way”. That’s right, you read correctly...apparently there is a wrong way to slice up fruit....who’d have thought anyone could stuff that up?? :P In all honesty  the days actually just blurred into one and while I remember individual events…their order is a little hazy. This is due to very disrupted sleep patterns (and not in the good way). With Rach’s kids all being various degrees of “Sick” night times were absolute chaos to someone who has for the last 36 years gone to bed at hour X and slept uninterrupted through to hour Y to be woken by an alarm. The amount of times Rachel has to get up and deal with a child throughout the night was quite an eye opening experience for me. I know it’s easy for me to be completely overawed by it when in actual fact it is probably normal behaviour for every mum that has ever existed (and my limited research into the matter has proved this to be the case .. if you count looking at me with a somewhat disgusted look when I ask if that is normal for mums). Nevertheless the complete sleep deprivation she put herself through over the weekend by just being a mum was astonishing and to do it without a second thought really is impressive. I tried my best to offer assistance and help out in any way I could because, to me, what she does daily is herculean and if it was me I’d be a wreck in a few hours...well, probably minutes actually.

As usual the weekend was over far too quickly I wasn’t looking forward to it ending at all. I had made plans for Monday to have brunch with my Brother and then lunch with an old uni friend of mine who had been most offended that I hadn’t visited her on previous trips to Adelaide and I decided I just couldn’t snub her any longer :P. On Monday morning when I awoke I was lying on the fold out bed of torturous pain in the lounge room. Obviously, I had relocated there during the night at some point...I can’t quite remember why...I’ll just assume it was some huge act of kindness or chivalry....probably both. I was drifting in an out of sleep and at about 7am I heard the familiar sound of little feet circling the bed. I cautiously opened an eye and there was Rachels youngest daughter Sophie inquisitively trying to gauge whether I was asleep. I said “Hello Sophie” and was immediately greeted with a huge grin and she immediately launched herself on top of me to give me a hug. How can you not love 3 year olds? 

The sounds of me being awake instantly brought the other 3 kids into the lounge room and they proceeded to amuse themselves with the Wii, PC and using me as some sort of obstacle course. After a while I had to go get my phone and call my brother and as my phone was in Rachels room I tried to be extra quiet as I assumed she would be sleeping as all the kids were occupied with me. I went in and she was awake and so ill I really felt sorry for her. After looking after her kids for nearly a week while they were sick she had eventually succumbed to the virus herself and it had really hit her much harder than she deserved. She could hardly move as all her muscles hurt and she had “daggers in her eyes”...sounded nasty. I went and got her some Nurofen for the aches and pains and asked if there was anything I could do. She gave me the monumental task of fixing breakfast for the kids. I foolishly thought it would be easy....Oh how wrong I was :). I called my brother and cancelled brunch as I wouldn’t be able to make it anymore and making breakfast was way more important :P. I eventually got the kids that actually wanted to be fed fed, “Flute Doops” and “Fruities” were the order of the day. Unfortunately I had no idea what “Fruities” were ... and the looks I got from Hannah and Sophie were priceless when I headed to the huge fruit bowl and they both yelled in abject horror “NOOOOO!! That’s not fruities...they’re here in the pantry!” and pulled out a packet of Rice Bubbles. The one breakfast cereal in existence with NO fruit content at all. Hahahahaha.

After breakfast my weekend sadly came to a close and I had to get ready to leave. I packed my stuff and said good bye to the children and to Rachel and walked to the train station. I used to catch this train everyday during the first 3 years of Uni and I hadn’t caught it since then I don’t think. It was really freaky and a total flashback to pass through all the stations and look at just how much everything had changed over the years from what I had remembered. The train journey was a little under an hour and when I arrived in the city I had coordinated so well with Jen that I stepped out of the station onto north terrace and she pulled up in her car seconds later. I haven’t seen Jen for maybe 3 years, we were in the same research group for our Ph.D.’s at uni and therefor spent a lot of time around each other. She is another of these women in my life that look absolutely no different to how they did 10 years ago. We immediately slipped straight back into being friends like no time had past. Jen was always my “moral compass” and “whingeing post” for girl issues in Uni as I had the most terrible time with dating and girls in general and she took it on as her hobby to try and help me out (god bless her :P). If you’ve seen my Facebook picture where I am being hugged by 5 different ultra-hot chicks with a massive smile on my face THAT was Jen and her friends helping me out. I was chuckling internally when this is all she wanted to talk about now years later too. How was I? What are my girl plans? Etc She heard all the relevant info then preceded to deconstruct it all, analyse it and inform me what I should be doing to achieve my goals. She’s a smart cookie.

Jen had her newest child with her (8 months) who was quite possibly the happiest little tyke I had ever seen (even happier than my nieces). We went to King William Rd Café district and had lunch and coffee and chatted for about 2 hrs. She then was gracious enough to drive me out to my mums place where I filled out the rest of the day until the dreaded flight home. It is still very hard for me to like the Adelaide Airport it holds such bitter sweet memories for so many reasons and when I am there to go on a plane back to Melbourne I reckon that’s  exactly what going to prison must feel like. It’s harder and harder each time to get on that plane when I have just had more fun, excitement and happiness in the short time I am usually there than I have in a whole month in Melbourne. Reality is a cruel mistress indeed. Nothing for it though but to soldier on and play the waiting game until one day all the planets, stars and moons will align and I will be able to come back and STAY.

Anyway, I got to the airport and headed for the Tiger check-in. The sense of dread building with each footstep and mentally preparing myself for what ever unbelievable incompetence I was sure would be greeting me at the counter. Would the inevitable delay be only a ½ hr or would the plane be leaving at midnight again?? To my absolute amazement … the flight was not delayed. It was on schedule and no delay was anticipated?? I actually asked the guy checking me in if that was a mistake as Tiger had never once been on time ever for me. Apparently it was true, so I wandered over to the coopers lounge and got a beer and sat in their ultra comfy chairs and got out the iPod and started using the FREE (are you listening Melbourne airport because I am talking to YOU!) internet access. I caught up on the stuff I read on the net and did some facebooking and pretty soon the departure time arrived and the plane was STILL on schedule (can you tell I was expecting something to go wrong at any minute?). We boarded and the plane left on time and arrived in Melbourne about 15 mins early due to a strong tailwind all the way to Melbourne. 

After getting off the plane and heading out the gates (Carry On luggage for the win) I headed to the car park and found my car. I did all the pre-drive checks. Four Wheels CHECK, All inflated CHECK, Mirrors folded out in Drive position CHECK. All windows intact CHECK. So I got in fitted the Stereo and GPS and turned the key. The car roared to life and then POW, POW .. BOTH my headlights blew. Both of them. F$#K. Luckily I had anticipated this would happen soon and I had (albeit a few months ago) serendipitously bought replacement globes and stored them in the car in anticipation. Still, replacing headlight globes in the outer edges of the long term carpark at Melbourne airport at 10:20pm in 8°C would not have been my 1st choice where to change them had anyone given me the option. I struggled for nearly an hour to change the globes with only a small torch and a screwdriver but eventually succeeded and drove home. I got home just before midnight and went straight to bed reviewing in my head quickly the fabulous time I’d had (yes Rach, really) and a little sad that, once again, it was all over and my Melbourne existence would fully smack me in the face in 8 short hours.

Once again thank you Rachel for your hospitality in what was obviously not ideal conditions. You rock so hard :). Thanks also to my Mum for helping me out on Friday night also in less than ideal conditions.

Additional: It’s Wednesday and I’m still virus free. Yay for the super immune system :)

Monday, September 22, 2008

slow week at the office..

I just looked at my blog and noticed I haven't written anything for a while. Well, that's because not much has been going on for the last week. Work has been continually painful (as seems to be the norm now) and I've just had the first weekend without basketball for a while. Accordingly, I tried to sleep in but it just wasn't working...I woke at the same time as I usually do. Try as I might to stay asleep I just couldn't. So .. seeing as i was awake anyway I decided to watch TV for a while. I had about 4 weeks of "The Bill" to watch on the HTPC but when I turned on the TV it was "Hannah Montana" that greeted me, after weeks and weeks of saturday basketball I am semi-addicted to Hannah...but in a totally MANLY way. Honest to god....I didn't plan it :)

My basketball (where I actually play) started it's new season on Wednesday at the god-awful time of 10:10pm. I'd like to say our team was straight back into the swing of things but...oh dear...we sucked REALLY bad. We were so bad that we only managed to score 3 points in the first half!! We ended up losing by 2 points and the less said about it the better.

Went for a monster ride on Sunday when the weather here in Melbourne was nice and sunny (in contrast to today where it pissed down ALL DAY and was friggen freezing!!). That event has pics and a write up on my facebook page so go there if you wanna know about that.

This weekend I am back in South Australia for a much needed break from all things "Melbourne" and I am looking forward to it immensely. Going to have a "Flight Of The Conchords" watching marathon and make Pizza and possibly treat the hostess (+offspring) to Pancakes. Will be awesome.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

It's all over...Even the shouting!

Last night was the break-up party for my u10 Basketball team. The club (Eastern Bulls) hired out an indoor sports center in Knox so the multitude of kids (I reckon there was about 80 there) could run around, throw balls at each others heads, climb on stuff and eat food that was 90% grease and 10% fat :)

It was a very laid back and relaxed 2 hrs (for me to say it was laid back means it was REALLY laid back) and I had a good time talking with all the "mums" there as I was the only male over the age of 12 and they all seemed to want to talk to me. I found this a bit strange that no fathers were present but in this day and age it's increasingly becoming a social Faux pas to ask about "Where's your dad?". The mothers all seemed to be a bit "over" spending hours at play-parties with their children and maybe that's why no fathers were there?? I've only ever heard stories about these "Play Parties" from friends with kids and the mothers there last night conveyed a similar sentiment. That apparently I am lucky that I don't have to suffer through these "events" due to me having no children of my own. Are kids really such a chore??? I suppose I have the "luxury" of being able to walk away from all the kids in my life and leave them as "someone elses problem", but still some of the best fun i've ever had involved kids....I like em.
Back to the coaching/basketball, The general concnsus was that I did a good job throughout the season and reaching the Grand-Final was a very good achievement considering I had a "Team of 4 players" as I kept getting told. The kids all got fed and I had to chuckle at the absolute chaos this encompassed. One of the people working at this arena walked out to the dining area with a huge "44 Gallon" drum of hot chips and asked "Ok, who wants chip?"

80 children sprang bolt upright hands in the air going "Me, Me, Me!!" knocking over tables, chairs, cars, fridges and the elderly in their attempts to answer (what I thought) was the worlds most rhetorical question. I can think of no children in the history of the world that didn't like hot chips. Actually I can think of maybe one as this child also doesn't like cake or chocolate ;)

After feeding the masses all the coaches were presented with gifts and thanks for their efforts during the last season. Was a nice gesture and although I thought the thanks were presented to me every weekend by seeing smiling and happy kids after we won games it was good to recieve acknoledgement. The funniest thing was that I asked what they enjoyed the most and I got told I was a "Fun Coach" and that I didn't "Do too much boring stuff" but everyone agreed my best quality was that I "Cracked it at Tyler....because he's so annoying"..ROFL.

So here's some pics.

Monday, September 15, 2008

My job ....

I went into today hoping the crap that occurred in the last 2 weeks at work would be behind me. I was wrong. I don't want to complain on here about it because people from work will see it.

It was quite surreal .... when did I move to Bizzaro world??

I can't believe the things people will hold against you. I really cant.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Yay for Mums!!

I'm a big fan of Mums let me say that from the start. Above all other mums I am a big fan of MY mum and this weekend I got to spend a whole day with her in Melbourne.

Finally, after nearly 5 years living in Melbourne a member of my immediate family has visited me!! My Aunty Ros visited me last year in November and while that counts as a "visit" I am talking about people I share a Parent or two with here, or in this case, actually ARE said Parent. It was really good to see Mum again even though it’s only been a few weeks since we last saw each other. Because how often can you see your Mum when you are 10000000 miles away in another state? Mum had come over with a tour group to see the musical "Wicked" and see some of Melbourne. The tour had incorporated into it’s itinerary a very early departure from Adelaide (6am on Saturday) and then a full days "Sight Seeing" in metro Melbourne (seriously??) then onto the musical for an 8pm start. When I asked Mum how it was she replied "I don’t know…I slept through most of it". Ha, pretty funny, but yeah by the time she got to the Theater it was 8pm and she’d already been up 14 hours AND walked around all day. When you add dimmed lights and a comfy chair…the result is invariably "Sleep". I have the exact same problem with "Seminars" and "Presentations" at work….I find it incredibly difficult to stay awake in them even if I walked into one after having slept for 24 hrs straight…I guarantee you I’ll fall asleep.

So in order to make her trip to Melbourne a better experience I went into the City on Sunday and picked her up and we went on to Smith Street in Carlton. I wanted to look for some Basketball shoes at the clearance houses after not being able to find any on Saturday at "normal" stores. True to form the Converse store DELIVERED!!! That place is just fantastic. There are a few stores in this world where you can walk in with no intention of buying anything and invariably leave with purchases. Gazman and Colorado jump instantly to mind their stuff is just so nice. Well the Converse store is the ULTIMATE example of this. Everything in there is about 80% off retail price and it’s all well made (in Australia) and looks good. I made my way to the shoe section and found exactly what I wanted "Converse Wade v3.0" basketball shoes. Usually $200, on sale here for $65 !!!! HOW GOOD IS THAT!!!

I was feeling a bit hungry so I convinced Mum that we should have brunch (as it was nearly 11am) so I took her to this little café I know about on Smith St. The name escapes me at the moment (Zoo Doo’s??) who do the BEST continental breakfast. I ordered the CB and 2 coffees and we both sat, both ate (we’re a sharing family…apparently :P) and chatted. Keeping with tradition I snapped a pic of the food and sent it to Rachel who sent back what could have been the funniest reply to an SMS I have ever received. Let me set up the context..I took a pic of the CB (eggs, bacon, tomato, toast etc) with a caption "MmmM Yummy!!" what I received in return was:

"but is it on a pancake?!"

I went 2 notches past "Chuckling Audibly" onto "Unrestrained guffawing Laughter" right there in the café. Rachel comes out with some really witty and funny stuff sometimes and this was definitely one of her best efforts. Still not quite the caliber of "Cyan sequined jump suits" or "Smurf Porn" … but it did have me giggling pretty much all day.

After brunch we also ducked into the Adidas clearance store and got the bargain of the century. They had a massive clearance on CROWS football stuff. Mum picked up "Official" Guernseys for all the "Field" Crow heads. Imagine this, these things retail for about $120 normally and mum got 4 or 5 of them for the price of 1!! We both thought it was quite serendipitous (and a little ironic) that the best deal on Crows stuff was in Melbourne. I also got some socks (100% cotton and 4 pairs for $15) and a pair of shorts ($25). These shops are just too cheap!!

Basking in our post-purchase after glow we returned to the car and high tailed it back home to my place. Mum had the tour and was quite impressed with my house and "stuff". She was pleased that I wasn’t living in abject poverty I think. She even braved the "Mould Room Of DEATH!!" and survived. We then both made the fatal mistake of sitting on my couch. Both of us nodded off simultaneously for about an hours worth of napping. When we woke up it was nearly 2pm and Mum was now a bit hungry and due to the mention earlier in the day of Pancakes she was now hankering for some pancake action. How do you say no to pancakes?? It’s just not possible.

We jumped back in the car and headed up Mt. Dandenong to "Flippin Pancakes" where 2 weeks ago (is it really that long ago already??) Rachel and I partook in their offerings. This time I managed to actually park my car completely straight in "Worlds Steepest Car Park" and we went inside.

Straight as a Dye!!

Strangely, when we went in we got directed to the exact same table as when Rach and I were there?!?!! Even had the same waitress. This time however, I was determined to not make the same "Savoury Pancake" mistake and I focused solely on the "Sweet" part of the Menu. The déjà vu didn’t end there, my mother scanned the menu and saw the pancake with curry dish and goes "Wow, that would be awesome Pancakes AND curry together!". She ordered that. I decided to be difficult and asked for a banana and maple syrup crepe dish but with pancakes instead of crepes. They accommodated my request and after a short wait we got our treats. They were fantastic, we sampled each others food (I think I already mentioned..we’re a sharing family :P) and yes Rach, the Curry pancake is to die for!! Next time get it!!

Banana's in front...Curry & Rice in Back.

After pancakes we went back home via the scenic Mt Dandenong road which is very beautiful and surrounded by tall trees and huge natural ferns. Very serene and cathartic. We arrived home and got all mums stuff together and headed off to the airport. I dropped her off and started the long trek back home once more alone in the wild metropolis of Melbourne.

Again, and I know this is probably getting really boring to hear, as soon as mum left I instantly felt alone and isolated in this city again. I really am having a very hard time justifying to myself just why I stay here. This year i've been back to Adeladie almost monthly and being able to spend time with my friends and family just highlight how miserable I am living here when I really want to be in Adelaide. It’s time to stop kidding myself … something has to be done and the time to do it is now.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

What a HUGE day!!!

I'm currently having one of those days where you do so many different things that you actually stop and go "It's still Saturday...right?". I have achieved so much today that it's amazing.

Firstly, Today was "GRAND FINAL DAY" for my under 10 basketball team. We did amazingly well to get to the grand final and we were all pumped. The game started at 9:40am this morning and it was a really good match. My team played very, very well and really deserved to win....unfortunately we don't always get what we deserve and we were beaten 13-26. It's cliche I know, but that score really doesn't do the teams performance justice. We out-played the other team consistently through-out the whole game and in the end only lost due to them having more players and therefor fresher legs. By the end of the game I had 6 completely stuffed little kids who had given there all and were only beaten because they were tired. The games are 50 mins long and that is a long time for such young children to run, jump, concentrate and deal with the disappointment of knowing they aren't going to win and still keep trying. They truly are a bunch of champions. They never gave up and fought right to the end and unfortunately the other team had 10 players in total and all of them were of similar ability and their coach made sure that none of them ever got tired. I didn't have that luxury and in the last 3 mins they went from leading by 5 to leading by 13.



After the game there was a small presentation ceremony and I was asked to present the team with their runners-up trophies. Now, it's been a while since I won an actual "Trophy" by playing sport. In my 20's and 30's whenever any team I was playing in won a final, be it Basketball, netball, Volleyball we usually got something akin to a etched pewter beer mug or sport socks. So I was absolutely gob-smacked today by the advances in "trophy technology" that I witnessed.
All my team (including me) got this little beauty.



Let me just preempt this by saying the kids in my team, while disappointed that they lost the game, were so amazed by these trophies that they almost didn't care that they lost. The team that did win were also a bit miffed because they had different trophies which had your standard golden man on top layout. Why? you may ask. Check this out:


video

How cool is that!!!! Isn't that just like the best trophy you've ever seen ?? It was either a really well thought out plan by the Basketball stadium management to make the losing teams players feel a bit better about it or Trophies in general are just 1000% more kick-ass from when I was a kid :)

After the game a lot of the parents came over and expressed their thanks to me for coaching this season. That was nice as a lot of the time I get the impression that they don't approve of much that I do (especially at training) but today they knew that the kids have really improved during the season and making the grand final was no accident really.

After basketball I headed off to "achieve" the first 2 goals I had set for myself this weekend...both involved spending a lot of money...but necessity is a cruel mistress. My first task was to buy a whipper-snipper. I did the appropriate research and learned that the petrol powered models are more powerful, more economical and actually use very little petrol compared to the absolute mega-watts the electric variants suck down. I also thought (or maybe someone told me?) that it's best to go and spend the money on a decent "NAME BRAND(tm)" model as if the engine does pack-it-in later you're likely to be able to get it fixed.

So I went down to Bunnings-mega-super-consumer-a-polooza-warehouse in Croydon and navigated to the "Whipper Snipper" section. "HOLY SHIT" was my initial impression of this place. There must have been about 200 different whipper-snippers there on display...how the hell was I supposed to pick one!! It's like the whipper-snipper equivalent of the Greco cake fridge. Since I am new to most things that (a) require manual labor outdoors and (b) involve a garden, I did the only thing that I could think of to help with the choice. I started pulling them down off the wall and playing with them....pretty soon more and more people in the aisle where pulling down the Whipper-Snippers and waving them around getting a feel for their weight, arc of use etc. I always knew I was a trend setter. During my soujourn up and down the aisle looking at the various WS's (<-- that will mean Whipper-Snipper from now on...cos it's just stupid typing such a long word all the time) I had a "bonding" moment with another guy who was also trying to buy a WS. He, like me, had virtually no idea what constituted a "good" WS. He started the bonding session by casually looking at me and with a look of utmost confusion on his face, saying "There's just so many of them?? How do we know what to get? Which one do you like?". Not wanting to sound like a complete moron who knew nothing about WS's, I said "Well, im looking for a 4-stroke because that will use the same fuel as my mower." The question I immediately asked myself then was "Do these even come in 4-stroke??". Luckily, they did...mystery Man had seen them in another part of the aisle and met my answer with a whistle. "They are the really expensive ones" he stated. So we both headed to the 2-stroke WS's. 2-stroke turned out to be 1/2 the price of the 4-stroke models so we were at least making head-way. We both took a few WS's down and had a look at them. Mystery man was keen on a "straight" arm WS because he thought the extra reach would come in handy. "Handy for what?" is what I thought, where does this guy stand when WSing? Is he scared of grass and weeds?? Want's to be as far from them as possible? So many questions would be unanswered today. We looked at a few more models and quickly came to the conclusion that there was really only a few choices we had to make: 1) Chose a brand that we knew: (HA! I knew this already!!) because there were about 50 different brands here ranging from the well known (Ryobi, McCulloch, Makita) to some generic Chinese yum-cha brands that no-one whould admit to knowing even if they did (Mr. Tool (wtf?), "The Best One" (oooooh marketing genius there!) and "Grass Annihilator" to name a few).
2) Choose a price we were comfortable with: There was a WS for every $ price you could think of from $99 right up to $299.

I made my choice and this was cause for great concern to my new friend. He was under pressure now to choose as well. AaAannD you guessed it...he grabbed the exact same one I did. We bid each other farewell with the customary "nod'n'grunt" and I made my way to the register. So now I am the owner of a new 2-stroke McCullock T250 CLS...yay.


After successfully completing task No.1 it was on to task No.2. This was to buy a new pair of basketball shoes for the new season that starts this week. All I can say is that this was an abject failure. I visited every sports store in my local area that I could think of and noticed something very strange. You can't actually buy "good" basketball shoes from sport-stores anymore. Oh, they have basketball shoes in stock...but they are so "Bling" and totally unsuited to using on a basketball court now-a-days that you look akin to a circus clown if you wear them. That and they are so ridiculously priced that even if you do find a pair that you can stomache, you feel completely horrified because you know these shoes where probably made by child labourers in Malaysia who probably got paid 20c a week and here is the fruit of their labour being sold for $270?? I can't in good conscience support that sort of inhumanity. So I will go to the Converse clearance store tomorrow and pick up an "australian made" pair for about 1/4 the price.

With task 2 resigned to failure I headed back home to begin on task no.3 - Gardening. More precisely, WEEDING (ugh!). Now it may not be common knowledge to anyone but my closest of close friends that I have a hatred for all things "Garden". I'll come right out here and say it "I just don't get gardening"..I don't. I know that millions of people love to get out in the dirt and pull out one type of plant and stick another in it's place and say it's the best "hobby" on earth. I am not one of these people. I think this behavior stems (hehe geddit?) from me always having lived in rental properties....where you just don't give a shit about anything 1cm past the front door jamb. The house could have a garden but you never tend to it because..well...who cares what happens to someone else's Garden. I've always thought that it was the height of imposition for land lords to include a garden in their rental properties. It's just another whole level of responsibility that most renters don't want. Having said that...my garden has become so horrifically unkempt that even *I* got sick of looking at it. Something had to be done.

So, I got my gardening gloves on (yes, I have gardening gloves ... I think they were $1) got my organic waste bin and got my camera. The camera was so I could see if my efforts actually had any effect on the garden.

Here's some before shots:


and here's what it looks like now after about 2 hrs of weeding.


I didn't actually get to finish all the weeding I had to do because I actually filled up my whole waste bin. The bin is HUGE too look...


It was also such a nice sunny and warm day that I didn't want to spend it pulling vegetation from the Earth. I wanted to go for a ride!!! I promptly stopped "Gardening" and took the Avanti out for a spin on the Eastlink bike track and headed south. Got a really nice 90min ride in too, there were quite a few people out riding and running (Far too many running if you ask me...they are a nuisance to people on bikes doing upwards of 40km/hr!!). My "bike Ride" playlist on the iPod still kicks ass for riding fast too not hard to keep up the pace when listening to hard rock and metal. I'm glad I went out actually as Melbourne's weather is so random that you don't ever know just how long nice weather like this will last.

After the ride I remembered that I actually had to go grocery shopping too. because Mum would be here tomorrow and I can't go then..so I did that. Then when I got home 2 loads of clothes washing, washed my dirty dishes, washed my floors (again..stupid plumbers and their dirty boots) and AND washed my car!! This is all in one day too. Scroll back up and have a look at all the stuff I have done....who said men couldn't multitask.

and the best thing is...there's still a whole other day tomorrow!!!