Monday, April 18, 2011


Over the weekend I went rogaining with some friends of mine. It was six hours of striding through the Australian bush... then trotting, then walking, then finally plodding, verging on staggering, all while trying to navigate by map and compass. I wore some old hiking boots that turned out to be less than appropriate for covering 17kms of rough terrain, and now I have so many blisters that it's like walking around on bubblewrap.

But at least I got out into nature. Wildflowers, birds singing in the trees, the babble of brooks...

Or not, as the case may be. It was 34C (94F) degrees. Despite the fact that it's mid-autumn, there was no water whatsoever, and the watercourses on our maps were dustbowls. There were no flowers at all. In the moments when my party stopped moving and talking, there was no birdsong or even insect chirping; just a dead, empty silence. I saw a single bird in six hours.

As I left in the evening there was something like a fine mist drifting through the trees, which looked wonderful and evocative until one remembered that it was actually dust thrown up by the cars. The sand is so powdery that it's more like a gas than a solid, hanging in the still air for minutes after it's been disturbed.

Still, for all the heat and dust and dry lifelessness, it was an interesting experience. Rogaining is part science and part art: being able to use a map and a compass and a timer, but also being able to read the landscape to tell where one is from the rocks and the foliage. All I have to do is get some shoes that don't turn my feet into water balloons. And maybe wait for spring.

Friday, April 08, 2011


It only took me a couple of weeks to buy a new scooter, but what with the excitement of AndressFest '11 and everything, I haven't mentioned it till now.

The new scooter is a couple of years older than the old scooter, but had done exactly the same number of kilometres when I bought it. It hasn't been maintained to quite the same loving standard, but it's lived most of its life undercover and it runs reliably, and frankly it was the nicest example I could find within the very limited number for sale in this city. Of course the man selling it lived at the other end of the freeway from my house, so once I'd bought it, it took me more than a hour to ride it home, sputtering along the back roads at a maximum speed of 65kph.

After I bought some new riding gloves and sunglasses, and a top of the range bike lock, I'm pretty much back to where I was before the old scooter was stolen.

Two other things worth noting about the new scooter are that it's a sexier colour (a Manly Black, rather than the Ladyboy Yellow of the old scooter), and it also came with a decal that the previous owner applied. Primarily, he told me, to annoy his teenaged daughter.

I don't think that I'll convince anyone that Batman chose a 50cc Piaggio to be his new Batbike. Still, it's possible that the Global Financial Crisis might have hit Wayne Industries in a very big way. Sing along, everybody! "Na-na na-na na-na na-na cut-backs!"

Monday, April 04, 2011


The other night while I was watching TV I saw an ad for Squinkies.

I'm not a parent, so I'm probably naive about these things. But is the target audience for Squinkies really awake at 12.30am and watching 'Freddy v. Jason'?