Archive for October, 2007

The Jury as mushrooms

Some years ago, I was empanelled as a juror in a case of culpable driving causing death. An educational experience – but excuse my cynicism. Continue reading ‘The Jury as mushrooms’


Cold Comfort Foam

This week I made a quick $50 cash doing a market research survey. Interesting process, this.

It was a one-on-one half hour session. The product in question is supposed to relieve joint or muscular pain – it may be released soon by a prominent pharmaceutical company. (I can’t name them, I promised!)

First, I watched a quick animation of the application process and read the advertising “blurb” describing the product. Then the researcher asked me a lot of questions about how I felt about the product and the company.

Next, he produced a sample of the product and had me apply some to my wrist. Weird stuff. Comes out like shaving cream, is very cold, and makes “crackling” sounds as you rub it into your skin. Almost disturbing.

Then the researcher asked me pretty much all the same questions all over again to see if after actually seeing and “using” the product, my answers had changed.

Well, not many had. If they had told me up front that we weren’t actually going to test the product on real pain (and I was a bit tender in places, having just ridden 210km on the bike), then I could have told them in seconds most of what they were trying to find out.

Which is:

No, I don’t believe product blurbs. Yes, I might buy the product on the recommendation of my trusted doctor or friends who had found it did the job. No, I have no idea how much you should charge for it, given that I have no idea how well it works. No, I don’t like the name you’ve given it. No, I don’t like the wasteful and eco-unfriendly packaging.

There you go, $50 worth of opinion in one succinct paragraph!

The sheet fairy

It was a warm, humid night last night.  The house hadn’t cooled much by bed time and sleeping au-naturel  exposed to whatever vagrant air wafted past was definitely the go.

So – why did I wake up covered with a sheet?  I don’t remember waking up and covering up.  My son says the same thing happened to him.

Do we have a sheet elf? Is some supernatural, nocturnal prude wandering our halls and covering our offensive nakedness as we sleep?

Inquiring minds want to know.

210 kilometres by recumbent – Done!

I’m just winding down after the Around the Bay 210km ride. Yes, we made it.

The weather wasn’t as bad as the forecast made it sound. Instead of really strong northerlies, there was a light northerly as far as Dromana, then the Bay turned to glass. A cool southeasterly seabreeze from Queenscliff to just past Geelong, then a humid light easterly that turned into a light to moderate northerly with 33 degrees closer to Melbourne. Apparently on the other side of the bay a stronger northerly made for tougher going for folks doing the anticlockwise route.

After leaving home at 6am after a hearty breakfast, I met Steve Nurse at the Dromana rest area just before 7 o’clock after a fast run sucking roadie wheels most of the way. We stayed relatively close until near Rye I had a rear flat and waved him on while I changed the tube (and repaired the damaged one just in case). When I got to Sorrento and collected my lunch it was to find that the 9am ferry was full and about to leave (I presume Steve was on it) and the next ferry wasn’t until 10am. It was a long hot wait in the sun in a *massive* queue and tempers flared a bit when boarding time arrived.

The trip to Geelong was OK, though after cooling down on the ferry the muscles protested at the renewed effort. The worst thing, though, was that on the big downhill after Leopold, the light halfway down turned red on me. It took a good 100km off my brake pads to haul to a stop in time. At one point I passed George Durbridge on his trike going the other way and gave him a wave.

I was able to latch onto a couple of groups going at a good rate for me up the Geelong Rd. The contrast with our laboured pace against the 40+km/hr wind on the “ATB in a weekend” a month or so ago was amazing.

Everything was going fine until just past Hoppers Crossing where some @!$#&$#*^% had put drawing pins on the road. Suddenly my front type was making a “tic-tic-tic” sound. I stopped. Looked. The tyre was still up but there was a pin in it. Pulled it out – pssssssssssss. Fixed the tube. Tried to pump it up. Broke my valve extender. Started to walk to find a petrol station. After about 1km, I ran across a group fixing their own multiple drawing pin punctures. Hurrah, one of them had what I needed to inflate my tyre!

The rest of the way, I drafted when I could. From Altona on there were riders all over the nature strips looking totally knackered by the heat. Presumably many of them were working up last reserves of energy for the run over the Westgate bridge. One guy was down with what looked like punishing leg cramps.

The ride up the Westgate was slow; I just spun up too tired to really appreciate the view, as other riders ground past me. On the way down I just let the bike have its’ head and stopped pedalling. Ringing my bell furiously, I was blasting past the bikes that had passed me on the way up at between 60-70km/hr.

I eventually rolled into the finish at the Alexandra Gardens, just as the rather warm litre and a half of water I’d topped up with at Werribee ran out. People told me that Steve had arrived about an hour before I did and had gone.

After an overpriced cold drink I saddled up again to ride the last 15km home. Which is where I am now, tired, but with no obvious aches or pains, writing this after a very welcome shower and an equally welcome glass of Reisling.

Statistics: 8hrs and 32 minutes of “riding” for 214km on the odometer, for an average of just over 25km/hr. This includes about half an hour of walking with the bike at rest stops, in the ferry queue and when I had the second flat, so actual riding speed was somewhat faster. About 4-5 litres of water consumed. Also many jelly snakes, muesli bars, and sundry other snacks as well as a hearty lunch.

A big thankyou to all my sponsors. We have together raised $270 for the Smith Family.

Attack of the killer weasels

The ferrets are coming…

And this time, they’re not taking prisoners.

Note to readers: Ferrets are not actually weasels as such , but belong to the same family… Mustelidae, which includes weasels, mink, otters, badgers, polecats (ferrets are actually a domesticated and inbred version), the wolverine, martens, the tayra, the fisher and in some taxonomical classifications skunks.

Sleeve hearts

If you’re only giving us two choices….

oh, and this is hilarious.

You get what you pay for.

Yesterday. 3pm

Phone rings. I pick up. “Hello?”

TM (Indian accent, female, immediately): “Hello sir, I would like to take 40 seconds of your time for a quick survey on holiday preferences.”

Me: “Certainly. Are you offering payment for doing the survey?”

TM: “Hello sir, I would like to take 40 seconds of your time for a quick survey on holiday preferences.”

Me: “I’ll take that as a “no”, shall I? OK, ask away.”

TM: ” Thankyouverymuchsir. Can you tell me when you took your last holiday?”

Me: “Hmmm, let me think. That would be in 1928”.

TM: “So it was some time ago, sir?”

Me: “So it would seem.”

TM: “And if you were to go on a holday, what would be your preferred destination?”

Me: “Afghanistan sounds nice. I’d like to go see Osama”

TM: “Where is this place, sir?”

Me: “Afghanistan. It’s a country. Not far from you, I think.”

TM: “Thankyousir. And who would you like to take with you your wife or girfriend for example?”

Me: “Sadly, I’m not currently attached and have no-one to take. But your voice sounds nice. What’s your name?”

TM: “So you are single, sir?”

Me: “For now, yes. Can I have your phone number?”

TM: “Thankyousir” (hangs up)

Some people have no sense of humour. But, they certainly are polite. Continue reading ‘You get what you pay for.’