Archive for February, 2007

Cold comfort

The hot humid weather we’ve been having has made it glaringly obvious that our ancient refrigerator Has Got To Go.

It’s frosting up big time and very quickly. Presumably this is costing mucho electricity in inefficient operation. And I hate defrosting fridges. Fortunately, a 3L container of milk generally lasts only 24 hours the way the Offspring go though it, so it doesn’t have time to go off. (Those kids are going to have unbreakable bones!)

So I’m doing the rounds of the electrical discounters, trying to get the best price I can.

While not one of nature’s hagglers, I do regularly encounter folks who try to haggle with me in my own business without embarrassment on their part. Fortunately as I also deal through agents and have an agreement with them that I won’t sell below recommended retail if selling direct, I have a ready-made excuse for not haggling.

Haggling for a fridge doesn’t come naturally. But so far the price on the model I want is down by between $90 and $50 depending on the retailer.

I just wish people would advertise the price they actually will sell at instead of making me go through all this!

Update: It’s a couple of hours after I wrote the original post, and I’ve just signed up for a fridge after beating them down to between $140 and $100 below retail (depending on the retailer). Hurrah!!!


Fun with Fones

I’m not getting so many telemarketer calls lately. Maybe the word is getting around that it’s a waste of time.

As I work from home alone and often do a considerable amount of assembly work that isn’t brain-taxing, a telemarketer call is often an opportunity for some fun on the speaker-phone (so I can keep working). One of these days I’ll set up a recording device and transcribe the results. They’re sometimes amusing.

The most common ones I get are people trying to sell me printing supplies, folks doing surveys and salesmen for “financial services”.

The printing supplies (toner, ink) people usually ask “how much are you spending on toner”. This is when I tell them that we are using the new Kanobishi Plain Paper Thermal Imaging printers, which use precisely focussed laser technology to char the surface of normal plain paper, a technology that looks like making toner obsolete. They usually hang up sounding rather worried!

I always ask survey people what they are paying. Believe it or not, some of them actually *will* pay you. If they won’t, I ask if the survey is being done for a commercial company for financial gain. If so, I do the survey, being as creative as possible, getting more outrageous with each question. After a few minutes, the surveyer may catch on that I’m not serious. My reply to the accusation? “You get what you pay for!”

I’m about to try a new strategy to see if I can trick the TM into giving me a name and phone number as follows:
“Congratulations, you’re Caller 10 on the 3SC AM radio contest line for the Bali holiday package! What’s your name?” …. ” “All you have to do is answer three questions” …. you get the idea, after answering 3 questions, they “win” the prize and I tell them we’re going to an ad break so I can get their name, address and phone details…. I wonder if it will work!

Yes, I know…. get a life!

What’s your strategy? Any fun ideas?

Noodling in the heat and the big move

We’re having a heat wave.  It’s not unusual for February, but it’s nonetheless no fun with the temperature hovering in the high 30’s (celcius).

On Sunday Ms Canada’s son moved to Ballarat to begin his university course; we used my wagon and trailer to shift his stuff so that meant 4 hours of driving in air conditioning.  It was almost worth it just to stay cool.

I’d spent an hour or so that morning on the new recumbent riding down to Ricketts Point – and to my surprise, nothing fell off!

The Noodler

Ive just “finished” building a new racingThe Noodler bike called the “Noodler“, so named because pool noodle material wrapped in carbon fibre was an idea I was trying out for the frame. This bike is not for general road use – it’s deliberately low to cut wind resistance. Here’s a picture of its maiden voyage. I wanted to get it sorted out in the next month as we have a big Human Powered Vehicle event (click the link to see more) coming up at the end of March. Raptor Designs is a sponsor, and I’m competing in the old peoples’ “over 50” class. And I’ve been asked to give a technical talk on my “innovations”. Not sure if I will though.

My son, the dish pig.

After an abortive attempt at getting a part time job over a year ago, Offspring #2 has landed a casual job as a kitchen hand at a local retirement home.  (The Girlfriend expects to go out occasionally, and the Offspring is a keen guitar musician who enjoys concerts, which cost more than a pocket allowance.)  He’s occasionally done some soldering for me for cash, but up till now, that’s been on a “I need money now” basis.

Hopefully he can stick it!

Pushing your bike

The OzHPV club wanted some “publicity statements” to put in press packs for the upcoming “OzHPV Challenge”. Here’s my “contribution”….

Are you sick of just being another leg-shaving, advertising-covered-lycra-clad, five thousand dollar carbon fibre bicycle-rider who becomes invisible in a peleton along with all the other leg-shaving, advertising-covered-lycra-clad, five thousand dollar carbon fibre bicycle-riders? And pissed off because after spending all that money you still can’t win any races?

Well, why not try recumbents?! You’ll be noticed! Kids under 14 will yell “Cool Bike!” Men over 50 will pull you over to ask stupid questions. Leg-shaving, advertising-covered-lycra-clad, five thousand dollar carbon fibre bicycle-riders will pretend to ignore you, but will envy you your armchair ride, uncrushed gonads and your luxuriant leg hair as it rustles briskly in the breeze of your passage.

But you still won’t win any races.


Addition: some targeted advertising copy

To the corporate high flyers:

“Let’s face it, you’re not cutting quite as dashing a figure on the old road bike down Beach Road any more, are you? Lycra and too many after-work drinks and client functions are a bad combination. Have you considered changing to a recumbent cycle? Let the laid-back position and gravity hide the visible signs of overindulgence!”

To the prospective family men:

“Stop grinding your goolies. Boost your sperm count by riding a recumbent!”

To the lawyers:

“Have you ridden thousands of kilometers head-down on an upright bike and never seen the scenery? A recumbent bicycle gives you a fighting chance of identifying the driver who just ploughed into you.”

Flying till it hurts

Just a flight log post today.

I’ve given the flying muscles a severe workout this weekend.

On Saturday, Ms Canada and I tripped down to Flinders to catch the coastal sea breeze.   Initially looking a bit doubtful with the wind off to the southwest, I set up the Fun and took off for an hour of cruising the  eastern section of the bowl.  A nice landing and lunch on the beach and I pack up as the wind slowly swings to the south.

Back at takeoff, I set up the ATOS rigid wing and launch.  The conditions become good, then excellent, with heights of 600ft and flying the coast many kilometers to the west past Cairns Bay.

3-1/2 hours this day.

Sunday was a late start, but I headed off alone to the Dynamic Flight Park out past Ballarat.  It was quiet, with three visiting Finns being launched by car tow.  I set up the nanotrike on the ATOS and launched. landing 3 hours later after climbs to 5000 ft and some excursions toward Lexton.

By the time I got home (at about 8pm) I was very stiff indeed!