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June 20, 2010

fitness: cycling

Posted by dogpossum on June 20, 2010 5:31 PM | Comments (0)

km: 12, duration: 2:00, pace: 6.0km/h, calories: 1559, effort: 2/5, feeling: great

The slowest, nicest ride around the bay and down the canals. Just for fun, because the weather is glorious. And because my knees are sore and couldn't take a serious ride, a run or more walking.

"fitness: cycling" was posted in the category bikes and fitness

April 22, 2010

fitness: cycling for fun

Posted by dogpossum on April 22, 2010 5:21 PM | Comments (0)

distance: 18.47 km, time: 00:55, pace: 20.1km/h, 624 calories, feeling: good, effort: 3/5

I needed to do some sort of aerobic exercise, but my sore foot couldn't take a run. So I did a quick ride down to the water and back. I tried to ride quickly so my heart rate stayed up, but it's hard to ride fast along that route as there are so many walkers. But it was really good to get out.
Sore foot was a little sore at first, my achey knee is a little warm, but there was none of the bad pain in my right shin and foot that I have while running. And when I got home I was a lot less tighter in the hammies than I am after running.

sunny, windy, cycling

"fitness: cycling for fun" was posted in the category bikes and fitness

fitness: time to unload

Posted by dogpossum on April 22, 2010 10:53 AM | Comments (0)

ld.pngWell, I recovered from the sore knee, but I'm still getting nasty pain in my right shin and in my right foot in the old injury. The shin feels like shin splints, which I had trouble with when I was into charleston hardcore. At this point, I need to rest and unload, and then start again. I'm thinking I might stay off running for a while, as it's the impact which hurts. Instead, I'll try to do some proper, regular walking so I can stay a bit fit, at least. I'm tempted to cycle in the mornings, but the roads are crazy busy when I usually run (about 7.30) and cycling in peak hour traffic is not fun. There are the bike paths along the canal and water front, though, so I should think about that. At this point, though, I'm very disappointed, but I'm also quite worried about my old foot injury. Recovering from that took a very long time. But I know that I have to be patient and just let it heal.
At any rate, this week I ran on Monday, and I won't run again for a while. I am DJing on Friday, so there's the possibility of dancing, but I'll try _not_ to dance. Yeah, right. And I'd like to do a long walk on the weekend, which might be a bit much. We'll see.
I do love running, though, and I think that the high impact + speed of running requires good core strength and stability, and that's the one thing I really like. It's super useful for dancing, and makes dancing so much more fun. I was also beginning to see the benefits of running on my latissimus dorsi, which is one of those muscles partner dancers obsess about, because it's very useful for helping you connect your arm to your hips/centre. I like figuring out how these things work when your body is in motion. I like the way movement forces you to multitask: not fall over and figure out how your body works.
The challenge for me is always to stay relaxed in the muscles that aren't working (alert but not alarmed), while also being able to activate and use the busy muscles just enough to do the job. I am continually fighting to release tension in my upper body (especially my right shoulder - a side effect of bung foot and a lifetime of hardcore writing). The best way of doing this (usually) is to stabilise my core. If hips are stable, then my upper body doesn't need to overcompensate to stop me falling over. Running has helped me isolate these two parts (which are of course actually far more complicated interconnected groups of muscles and bones and so on) and begin to get stronger in the core. I have less curve in my lower back, which is partly because my pelvis is less tilty, which is because various muscles and things in the front of my torso are more active, 'pulling' it into place. This in turn frees up muscles (like my lower back) and lets them relax.
The nicest effect has been having the chance to loosen up my shoulders, which then lets me feel how my lats are working. It's very nice and very interesting. My one concern is that stopping running will stall my progress. But the good thing about having a body, is that you have it for your whole life, so you never need stop learning about these things. And learning how to use them.

Once again, I'm surprised by how much of my life involves fitness and exercise. We have no car, so walking to the train and bus is important, and I do all my errands by bike. We like going on bike rides with our friends, we like walks, and we like dancing. We're also up for anything fun that involves exercise - games, frisbee, etc - fun stuff that gets your heart rate up. I guess that once you get a minimum level of fitness, your body becomes the perfect medium for fun. :D

(photo is from the wikipedia page linked above)

"fitness: time to unload" was posted in the category bikes and fitness and lindy hop and other dances and running

April 19, 2010

E210k: wk4, run1

Posted by dogpossum on April 19, 2010 9:55 PM | Comments (2)

distance: 6.16 km, time: 00:45, pace: 07:18, calories: 584, effort: 4/5, feeling: ok

I've decided to stop pushing my bad foot with the Bridge to 10k program as it was leaving me really really sore. So I started at week 4 of the Ease into 10k, which is essentially starting 2 weeks before the B210k begins. So I did 4 x 8 min runs + 3x1min rests and 10 min warm up and down. This is heaps gentler than the 3 x 15min blocks I was doing.
I'm still very tight in the calves (a side effect of bad foot) and had to use my 1min intervals to streeeeeetch. New shoes are wonderful but a little snug across the toes, so I also had to stop to adjust them during the 1min intervals.
But, overall, it was a nice run. And I made better time over this distance than I have done during the C25k. I think. :D

humid, sunny

Edit: My knees hurt a _lot_, so I think I'm going to have to take a serious break from running for a while to get over the impact of the longer B210k runs. I wish I'd followed my initial instinct and gone with the easier runs at first. Oh well. But the pain is quite debilitating - I've got very sore knees, and I've had trouble with pains in my shins (like shin splints, but actually almost certainly related to my bung foot) and begun to get some ache in my sore foot.
So it's time to ease off. This is quite demoralising. I'm addicted to running, mostly for the way it improves me mood, and makes it easier to manage stress and anxiety. I am going to need to find some sort of exercise substitute so I can keep my fitness and mood up. Cycling, unfortunately, is terrible for my sore knees. Dancing isn't much good either.

"E210k: wk4, run1" was posted in the category B210k and E210k and bikes and c25k and fitness and running

April 11, 2010

fitness: site-seeing cycling

Posted by dogpossum on April 11, 2010 9:49 PM | Comments (0)

distance: 18 km, calories: 508, feeling: good, effort: 3/5

Easy, slow riding as we were site-seeing around the wetlands.
My knees have been sore with the running (and dancing), so hard peddling hurt, but otherwise the low impact exercise was GREAT.

"fitness: site-seeing cycling" was posted in the category bikes and fitness

April 2, 2010

wolfpack hustle street race in LA

Posted by dogpossum on April 2, 2010 11:43 AM | Comments (0)


from here

"wolfpack hustle street race in LA" was posted in the category bikes

October 30, 2009

reward for poor painting skills: mad dumpling orsm

Posted by dogpossum on October 30, 2009 8:33 PM | Comments (0)

Yesterday we did the first coat of paint on the ceiling of the lounge room. We sucked. But we have had the floors done and they look GREAT. These dumplings are from New Shanghai Something or other, and they are great. I had red rice and chicken, though. And we both had choy. Click through to this pic to see more photos of our floor, and then to see the painting we did today.

We did the first coat on the walls in the lounge room today. It looks terrible; we will definitely need a second coat. But then we did the ceilings upstairs and did a MUCH better job. So we figure we're on some sort of long, slow learning curve.

We are so tired.

On the ride home, we stopped in Summer Hill to get some food for dinner. A middle aged man with short cut hair (gauge 2 maybe), dark, fashionable glasses, some sort of red shirt, driving a small red convertible alpha romeo, rego starting with V nearly hit me. Because he was trying to do a u-turn down the main drag of Summer Hill at peak hour. When I stopped and pointed at my eyes (as in 'look'), because his window was up, he opened his car door and yelled, "DON'T YOU LECTURE ME!" and then "GET OFF THE ROAD!" Ironically, I was just about to pull over and off the road. Then he did a really bad 3-point u-turn and drove off.

There were about a million people in the street and (once again) nobody said anything. He was clearly in the wrong and I was a bit shaken. He was the most dangerous of urban animals: a middle class, middle aged man in a car, embarrassed and then angry. They are the scariest creatures in the entire world. Also, they are fucking arseholes. But I was polite and just rode away. At first we thought he was trying to turn around to come after us. But he wasn't. He was nuts.

Is it driving a car that makes people crazy? Or do they start that way? My feeling is that driving a car makes you crazy. Cyclists tend to be rocking their endorphines (unless they're arseholes), but driving a car immediately makes you a) dumber, b) aggressive, c) angry. Motorists tend to think that they're invulnerable when they're in their car. That their car's bubble makes them immune to everything.

When I'm on my bike, I'm intensely connected to and aware of what's around me. So I'm very, very aware of cars and bikes and pedestrians. And I'm also a much safer driver since I started riding a bike.

If you drive a car, please, please PLEASE check your blind spot a million times before you open your door and before you pull out. And then check again. Because you could kill a person on a bike.

"reward for poor painting skills: mad dumpling orsm" was posted in the category bikes and dogpossum and domesticity

April 27, 2009

waiting #2

Posted by dogpossum on April 27, 2009 7:09 PM | Comments (0)

This was tacked onto that last post, but it looked stupid. It's not really all that interesting a post, actually, so you might want to skip over it.

I was watching this clip about a roundabout in the Netherlands and it reminded me of some of the things I've written about above. I guess it has more to do with ideas about sharing space on a dance floor rather than intra-partnership communication.

When I watch this clip I compare it to the way motorists and cyclists interact on the road at traffic lights. We live on a busy intersection with a complicated set of lights. At peak hour in particular, motorists tend to approach the lights in these ways:
1. green light: go!
2. orange light: go faster!
3. red light: go really fast! Or stop >:(
When the light turns green again: GO! GO!

They tend not to think actively or critically of the space and people on the road around them. They respond to the traffic lights. When I cross the road there, I wait for the lights to go green, then I look to see what the traffic is doing. I wait before I step out, because cars regularly run these lights - it's a dangerous spot.
But I'm interested in the way motorists do as the lights say, or respond to the lights, rather than to the people on the crossing itself (whether they're in cars, on bikes or on foot). Rather than thinking 'ok, I need to slow down here - it's an intersection with complicated things happening', they think 'the light is green - I must go!'

As a cyclist, I'm out there in the elements. I feel the wind, am very very conscious of the cars physical presence, and I'm ultra-aware of people around me. Cyclists tend to actually make eye contact and smile/talk to each other (or, in The Squeeze's case, challenge them to a race. Yes, really). Riding a bike reminds me that I'm not actually alone. When you drive a car, you tend to forget about the outside world. Things go past you too quickly to really appreciate. You can't smell the bakery doing the morning bread at 2am as you ride home after a night out. You can't stop to help a nanna rearrange her shopping. You can't stop to pat a friendly cat or steal a handful of rosemary from a park. You can't ride through parks - you have to stick to the bitumen. You can't just suddenly hop out of your car and carry it down some steps if you want to take a shortcut. Riding a bike not only makes you feel physically better (and stronger and more independent), it also reminds you that your neighbourhood is sounds and smells and small details, not just blurs or lines of traffic.

This sort of stuff reminds me of some people's general thinking about cycling rather than driving a car. People who drive cars tend to respond to my encouraging them to ride a bike to work or for errands instead with these arguments:
1 it'll take longer - I have to get to work, I spend too much time traveling as it is
2 I'm too tired after work to ride home
3 I don't want to get wet/sweaty/cold/hot
4 I don't want to shower at work
5 it's dangerous
6 I live a long way from my work
7 I have to carry a lot of stuff to work.

They tend to assume that their quality of life will be degraded by riding a bike. Whereas I think - I know that my quality of life is improved by riding a bike:
1 I know exactly how long it will take me to get anywhere. I don't begrudge this amount of time, because I enjoy it - it is pleasurable and good exercise

2 Riding gives me energy and makes me feel, generally, more energetic. It might kick my arse and leave me panting, but overall, I feel more energy. This is especially important if I'm going through a bit of depression or ill health. I've found that dealing with the constant pain in my foot, the exercise of cycling helps me deal with pain and depression; I just feel better.

3 I don't mind getting sweaty/wet/cold/hot. The more you ride a bike, the more accustomed you become to getting wet or hot or cold. You simply accept the fact that riding in the rain makes you wet. Or exercise makes you sweaty. If you're going to work, you shower there. I don't mind getting a bit wet. Or even very wet; I won't melt. I wear practical clothes and I really don't mind the weather - it doesn't kill me, and once you get over the 'oh no! I'm wet!' you can actually enjoy it. Really, getting wet or hot or sweaty isn't so bad. Sometimes it's nice.

4 Showering at work isn't so bad. If you're like me, you need to cool down a bit before you shower or you just re-sweat immediately. If you're like The Squeeze, you get out of bed, step into your knicks, then out the door. You arrive at work, shower, then eat breakfast in the kitchen/tea room/at the cafe on the corner with your co-workers or on your own. He likes doing that. He doesn't have to make sure he looks pretty before he leaves, he knows he'll eat breakfast and have decent coffee. Once you've gotten into the routine, you keep the right things at the office so you don't find it annoying to shower.

5 It's actually not dangerous. Driving a car is dangerous - you're moving at great speeds in a large, dangerous object. Driving your car endangers other people; you make the world more dangerous. It's perfectly possible to take a safe, quiet route to work on your bike where the most dangerous part of your day is passing Sweet Belam without stopping for a cake. Adding a little exercise into your day is very, very good for you. Not exercising every day is dangerous.

6 Living a long way from your work is tricky if you're looking to cycle to work every day. But it is possible. You can take bikes on the train or ferry (or bus in some lucky cities). I'm always surprised by people's sense of distance. I am happy to ride up to and including 10 kilometers as part of a basic commute or errand ride. The Squeeze rides 20km a day, five days a week, up and down hills and at great speed (you can imagine how fit and strong and lean he's becoming).
If your drive is 10km or less, you really should be riding a bike. 10 kilometres is about 30 minutes (or 45 minutes if you're me) by bike. If you're living in a very flat town (like Melbourne), then it's less. If you're a super fit lycra person, then it's less again. but 10km by car in a big city through peak hour is a long journey. It's usually quicker to ride a bike, if you include parking time.

7 Carrying stuff on a bike is far easier than you'd think. Panniers rock - I have transported a week's worth of groceries, four pot plants, giant bags of potting mix and lots of other things by pannier. I carry my laptop, headphones, power cord, water bottle and towel to dancing on my bike in a backpack/back rack combination. And I should mention: I am the sort of person who hates carrying heavy crap. I've noticed that cycling often makes carrying extra stuff in a large handbag unnecessary. If you're showering at work, you leave a set of bathroom things at work (towel, deoderant, soap, etc), so you're not carrying that every day.

It has to be said, though: the only cake that will transport safely on a bike is a fruit cake. But I'm working on that.

There are exceptions, of course. If you have mobility issues, cycling might not be for you. But if you're able bodied and traveling to work by car every day, cycling is often a far nicer option. And you don't have to ride to work every day. Starting with one day a week is often enough to help you find a nice, safe route, and to get you used to the routine. Even just every second day is enough. Commuting by bike regularly (rather than just doing it once and then giving up) is a very good idea - it can take a while to figure out the most efficient, and safest way of doing things. It can take a while to figure out exactly what stuff you can and should leave at work to make your post-ride shower easier. And practicing your route on the weekend is also a good idea. Traveling with friends is another great idea.

"waiting #2" was posted in the category bikes

April 19, 2009

i see good things #2

Posted by dogpossum on April 19, 2009 11:14 PM | Comments (0)

when I ride home at night.

I just saw a man walking a pony up Morris street in Summer Hill. It was about 9pm. So of course, I stopped to find out more. Because I have lived in Brunswick, and that's what wickians do - we investigate and communicate and congregate. He did give a very good reason for having a pony in the city, but he knew what he was doing. It was a small, slim shetland pony (which is almost an oxymoron - shetlands are never slim, unless they're actually working in a mine).
Then I rode home.

"i see good things #2" was posted in the category bikes

April 9, 2009

another round-up post

Posted by dogpossum on April 9, 2009 12:27 PM | Comments (1)

Today I have a heavy cold and feel a bit rough. The Squeeze blames a trip on the train. I blame post-allergy secondary infection. Means I spend some time on the couch with Dr Who, so it's not all bad.

The other night we went to see Hot Club of Cowtown.

It was great. I'm not sure I'm struck on the venue, though. The Basement is kind of a sit-down supper club type situation. The sort of venue that I associate with jazz - a jazz club. Which means it's full of people with money who like to sit down and Be Entertained. Which is, of course, inimical to good, hot jazz. Hot jazz should be played to a crowded room full of partyers looking for a good time. Not straights sitting and eating overpriced, uninspired food.
But Cowtown did a fairly good job overcoming the venue. They're friendly sorts, who like a little audience participation. And it was a little tricky at first; they needed the crowd relaxed and engaged. Guess this is when a support act comes in handy. But eventually they had the audience engaged. Took about five songs, but then they had them. They were, musically, as amazing as I remember. And there's something really pleasing about western swing, the western swing they play. It's friendly and cheery and makes you want to dance about like a fool. And sing along.
Before the "likkermission" they invited us to come up and chat and give song requests. Then they wandered down into the main room and mingled. I was excited and also too afraid to go up and gibber like a fan. Though I really, really wanted to. They seemed really nice and friendly, and talked with all sorts of crazy fans. They were happy to sign CDs as well. I made three trips to the souvenir table, trying to work up the guts to say hello. But I'm shy (sometimes). After the show, one of them (the one I love) stood near the door saying goodbye to people. And I managed to squeeze out a little smile and a 'thank you'.
I'm such an idiot. I'd have loved to request Pray for the Lights to go out, but I couldn't get it out.

I did find myself cheering and clapping along mid-set, just as I would for a dance performance. And people looked at me. But it slipped out accidentally. They were giving the 'engage now!' vibe, and jazz has taught me nothing if not how to respond when someone calls.

Overall, it was ace. I bought myself a tshirt (which I'm going to cut up to be my size and just my style) and a sticker (which I think I'll put on my laptop). I had a great time.

On other, slightly related fronts, I have a pair of orthotics in my shoes now, care of the podiatrist. The podiatrist is a friendly, chatty bloke, who takes up most of our sessions yapping. He loves to talk. Which is ok, because I do too. If I didn't know that he sat in there interacting with people all day, I'd suspect he too spent his time making up crap to fill his unemployed days. But I'm happy to chat.
The orthotics, though. They freaking ROCK! We had to walk a bit to get to the HCCT gig the other night, and I didn't get any pain! Well, I got a bit of abrasion from the new shape of my shoe sole - blisters a-coming. But there was no pain inside my foot. And none later that night after we'd gotten home. It was wonderful.

Basically, they change the way I walk. The bit under my arch, just in front of my heel is a bit raised, and this means I put the weight on the outside of my foot more. And this means that I don't put so much pressure on my big toe - I don't put so much weight on my toe, I don't stretch the plantar fascia so much (yay! - less pain!) and I don't then have to roll the weight over to the outside of my foot when my bung ankle can't bend any more. This means I'm just putting the weight down straight onto the main part of my foot, and I don't roll my foot. This will be great when I get dancing - it'll make my weight transfers clearer and easier to follow/lead. It also means that I'm not in pain.
It's all a bit exciting. I haven't been able to walk without pain in four months. And now I can. Of course, part of me wants to run out and go dancing NOW. But the podiatrist headed me off at the pass on that one: no dancing. No experimenting with movement. No! I have to give it six weeks to test it out. Then we talk.

Part of me wonders what effect this new way of walking will have on the rest of my body. I hope it eases the bit of ache I get in my right knee (which is largely a result of the rolling-foot problem). And I hope it eases my right hip a bit (which is similarly affected by my foot). But I hope it doesn't do other things to me which cause problems. But that's what the check up is for. I have noticed that the orthotic changes the way I pedal when I'm riding my bike. All of a sudden, I'm much more efficient.

Because my ankle doesn't bend as much as it should, I have to roll my foot to get enough bend in my leg to pedal properly. But the orthotic starts me off in the right position, so I don't have to roll my foot (or my knee). This means that instead of all the energy I put into pedaling sort of flying off or being wasted in my knee/foot rolling, it goes straight down into the pedaling, moving the wheels around. So riding my bike is suddenly a heap easier and more efficient. It's wonderful.

I'm not sure whether I'll have to use orthotics forever or not. I think it's more that these will teach my muscles how they should be working, and in combination with my exercises, I'll eventually be able to do away with the orthotics. My legs will eventually be working properly and I'll be able to use my muscles and tendons and bones and joints more effectively.

I think one of the most important lessons from all this plantar fascia stuff, is that it's important to pay attention to the aches and pains in your feet and body. If I'd realised I was in pain from the plantar fascia earlier, I could have done something about it. But you get so used to aches and pains when you dance, it's difficult to tell when something important is going on. I guess that's why it's also a good idea to keep in contact with a decent physiotherapist when you do a lot of sport. Even if you're not an elite athlete. :D

"another round-up post" was posted in the category bikes and lindy hop and other dances and music and old sew and sew

April 3, 2009

potential bike routes

Posted by dogpossum on April 3, 2009 10:16 PM | Comments (0)

...right through the centre of the city...

View Larger Map

Well, Redfern, anyway. Looks pretty good, huh? We are preparing for tomorrow's bike ride and exploring routes from the train station to the actual route. We will ride thousands of kilometers and get really sore bums. But we will also be FREAKIN ORSUM!

(If you're in the area, you're welcome; we usually start about 11am and stop for lunches/sticky beaking. Be prepared for stunts.)

"potential bike routes" was posted in the category bikes

April 1, 2009

i see good things

Posted by dogpossum on April 1, 2009 3:28 PM | Comments (0)

I like riding my bike around the neighbourhood because you see all sorts of awesome things.

1. There's fat, raggedy grey and white cat who hangs around outside the primary school up the road at lunch time. The kids aren't allowed outside to pat it. It's clever enough not to jump the fence. But it sits pressed up against the fence so it can be patted and enjoy the children's company. It's there every time I ride past at lunch time.

2. Today I saw the ladies in the fish shop scooping live fish out of the tank for a customer. It was awesome to see their mad fish-scooping skills in action. Then they drop them on the floor. I'm not sure what happens after that.

3. Once I saw the fish delivery truck delivering live fish to the fish shop. The truck has a flat bed and is loaded with large blue plastic barrels. The fish delivery doods scoop the fish out of the barrels and into smaller buckets, which the ladies take inside and tip into their tank. It's fascinating stuff, and gathered a significant crowd. I wish I'd taken a photo.

4. Today I saw an old poppa walk across the road against the lights. The traffic had to stop to let him cross. He was crossing, no matter what. It was actually at a busy pedestrian crossing, so there was a crowd to watch (and cheer) him across. Lunch time Ashfield appreciates a little shutzpah from the elderly.

"i see good things" was posted in the category bikes

March 26, 2009

i like pie

Posted by dogpossum on March 26, 2009 10:05 PM | Comments (0)

Here's a little round up:

Western Swing is ME.
I am currently in love with Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys. This is in preparation for the Hot Club of Cowtown tour next month. I saw them in the UK (at the Marlborough Jazz Fest) in 2004, and they were freakin' GREAT. The next week I saw Casey McGill's band at a dance camp and they told me that their bass player had absconded for the HCCT. I'm not sure whether that's a tragedy or an awesomey.

Bad foot is still ME.
My foot is still bung. I have been to see a podiatrist to strapped me up. That helped the first time, but not the second time. I am also doing exercises to strengthen the muscles in my calves/shin to help out my plantar fascia (ie so it's not overloaded). I am down to get orthotics next week, but they mightn't work. Basically, these fibroids in my foot are never going to go away and they can't be cut out. So I'm looking at pain management and impact reduction. I danced two half dances on the last weekend and it HURT. The problem is not so much the impact (which hurts and hurts normally), but the fact that there's pivoting and my foot actually twists when we do lots of turns and things. That's where the pain is at. It sucked to find out how much it still hurt, but at least I know where I'm at. Though I think I'd have preferred to continue in blissful (and hopeful) ignorance. If I can't dance again, I'm really not sure what I'm going to do. If it's not lindy hop, it could have been something else - I come from a long line of dancing, lumbering folk, and I can't fight my DNA. Perhaps I'll learn an instrument. Any suggestions? Maybe the drums? Bass? I did a lot of singing at school, but that was a long time ago.

Allergies are GO.
I am having trouble breathing and my ear is all glued up. Again. Still, I've had much less trouble with my health since I moved to Sydney, so I'm certainly not complaining. It is melaluca flowering season, and there goddamn paper barks all over every street in every inner city suburb in Australia, so I need to deal. Won't be long now, though, and I can come off the antihistamines.

Library is MINE.
I have been back to the Con's library this week. It is a joyful place. Though it is full of students, now, and that sucks. They're almost uniformly middle or upper class, supernerds and 70% male. Guess that's what a career in hardcore arty music requires. The jazz section was all dusty when I first got in there. Now it has at least some use. The refec near the library is SHITHOUSE. The actual room is quite nice - it has a lovely little stage (with nice piano), and would be perfect for a dance gig. The acoustics are magical. But the food is inedible. I was reduced to pre-made sandwiches. Most of the students in this (actually quite nice) mini-refec were eating packed lunches. There you go.

emusic is not all mine. Yet.
I am blowing through my emusic downloads ridiculously quickly. Even when I ration them. There're simply not enough.

Quickflix is suspended.
Since we moved to Sydney the DVDs have been slower to arrive, have almost always been terribly scratched, and we never get anything in the top 50 of our list. I have suspended our account until we've decided what to do. We're still on one of their unlimited DVD accounts, but I'm not sure it's worth it, as we only get about 3 a week, which isn't much better than getting 12 a month max, is it? The video shop here is pretty good, so we might just go old school. Though using a video shop means I have no natural limit on my DVD viewing.

Dr Who and Farscape rule my world.

Screw BSG with its upsetting gender politics and ridiculously FAILED science. I am all about rebooted Dr Who and Farscape. I didn't dig either the first time I saw them, and never really got past the first couple of episodes. Now I love them. Farscape passes the Bechdel Test. Dr Who does not. Rose + her mum. Talking about the Doctor. Though every now and then Rose gets to discuss a drama with another female character, there's not much woman-to-woman action. I think it's partly to do with the newer format - story arcs only last an episode, rather than a week's worth of episodes. There's not as much character development. And a bit too much kissing. I like Eccleston, but I'm not struck on Tennant. His bottom jaw sticks out too far. I liked Eccleston's big nose and ears a whole lot. And was the Doctor always this manic? I'll have to rewatch some old ones (I liked brown, curly haired, long-scarf, jelly baby Doctor best).

I am a crocheting demon.
I should post some pictures to prove it. But I love complicated afghan patterns, and have been compulsively crocheting as I watch my way through the Commonwealth's greatest contributions to popular culture. We went to Spotlight in Bondi Junction the other weekend so I could stock up on yarn. That joint was totally trashed on Saturday afternoon. I need another supplier; perhaps I could order online in bulk? The poor Squeeze is buried in gorgeously three dimensional flowers, in various combinations, so perhaps it's time to stop.

I am bike YAY!
Yesterday we rode down the Cook's River after work for a quick ride. It was overcast, humid and coming up a storm. It was great. The sun set over the river, we saw wildlife, we dodged nonnas out walking and talking and planned a longer down-stream walk for a future date. This river goes to Botany Bay, you know.

I am still dealing with the fact that we live in Sydney.
I'm surprised by the historical weight I'm carrying in Sydney. It's like all these suburbs and places are full of all the post-Invasion history of this country. Every bit of history I remember has something to do with Sydney. And most of it is narrated by songs from the Peter Coomb's song book which delighted so many good little Australians in the 1980s.

Singing too-ra-li-oo-ra-li-attidy,
Singing too-ra-li-oo-ra-li-ay,
Singing too-ra-li-oo-ra-li-attidy,
And we're bound for Botany Bay.

I'm sure that that song has celtic roots as well. One of the strangest moments of my post-MA European travel was being shut in at a Cornish pub where a heap of drunken ... Corns? Cornishpeople? sang one of those sorts of 'traditional Australian songs'. But with celtic names. My Irish grandfather used to sing The Wild Colonial Boy. So even though I'm caught up in all this Australian music, it's just as Irish as the American folk music I dig.

I did arrive in Australia in 1982, straight into rural Wagga Wagga, so moving to New South Wales is far more familiar than moving to Melbourne did in 2001. The humidity is lovely. It's not as heinous as Brisbane's, but it's nicer and wetter than Melbourne. And my skin loves it. The Squeeze declared last night, as we rode up the hill towards the lightning and iron-grey sky: "Moving here was the best thing we've done!" He's delighted by the tropical storms. So am I - I've missed them. There's something wonderful about a good, heavy-like-a-hot-shower rainstorm, complete with lighting and crashing thunder. Far, far better than drizzly, wingey bastard Melbourne weather. Even if it didn't rain, it'd be cloudy and overcast forever. I don't miss that shit. Though I'm thinking the Victorians are.

Dollhouse sucks arse, Pushing Daisies is delightful.
That's it in a nutshell, really. I'm not impressed by DH.
1. The FBI/BSG guy is a crap actor. He's so crap I can hardly watch him on screen. That scene in the last episode where he and the 'dead wife' DH client chatted in the kitchen? It was so, so, so bad. I groaned. I gnashed my teeth.

2. The opening credits are incredibly, crappily bullshit.

3. I'm still not entirely sure about the gender stuff. There's an awful lot of talk about the women 'dolls' as sexualised bodies. And though there're references to their missions which don't involve sex, we spend a lot of time looking at them having sex or wearing very high heels or tight, booby shirts, or generally packing a whole lot of very conventional, bullshit femininity. It's a bit too Alias for me, but with less self-determination on their part. I had hoped there'd be a clever twist to undo some of this, but I'm beginning to lose hope. Joss Whedon is hyped, but, really, Buffy was his pinacle. I didn't mind Serenity (look, I'm losing the italics, ok?), but it wasn't great. The film wasn't great cinema. The series wasn't that good - a little too heavy on the patriarchal family structure for my liking. Yes, I get the whole male captain/father parallel, and that Mal might perhaps have been overcompensating for his wartime mistakes with other people's lives, but still... Actually, it takes Buffy an awful long time to lose her patriarch. I've rewatched a bit of season 5 lately, and she's STILL got Giles there, Watchering. So perhaps Buffy isn't so great either... God, if this is the best we can do, this string of compromises.
Anyways, I'm not impressed by DH

4. Did I mention the terrible acting by FBI guy?

Pushing Daisies, though, is wonderful.
It's charming. It's clever. It's lovely to look at. Its visual style has a lot in common with Tim Burton's brighter, more colourful stuff. It's a bit surreal and hyper-colour, but not dark like Burton. Well, except for the premise of the series: the pie maker protagonist can bring dead things back to life. For a minute. If he touches them within that minute, they go back to being dead. If he doesn't, they stay alive and something has to replace them in the deadness. The point of the series: Emerson Cod (finally, a show with a not-white central character!), a private detective, works with the Pie Maker to solve murders. For profit. Pie Maker brings his childhood sweetheart, Chuck, back to life in one of the earliest eps, so they can't touch. They love each other. The other main character is Olive, who, by the end of season two, is the very best character.

Why do I like this program?
1. The hyper-colour, phantastical mise en scene.

2. Passes Bechdel Test.
3. Olive. With her pet pig Pigby.

4. The male protagonist is a pie maker. There's a lot of talk about food and baking pies and comfort food. It's very lush. Here, have a look.
5. The singing scenes. Olive sings a couple of songs. One of which is 'Eternal Flame'. Yes, a Bangles singing scene. The other is 'Hopelessly Devoted to You'. It's wonderful.
Also, there's singing.
6. Chuck's spinster aunts (who raised her) are cheese fans and also used to be synchronised swimming super stars: Darling Mermaid Darlings. One has an eye patch.
7. Most of all, I love the dialogue. It's very, very wordy. Lots of fast talking. But it's all puns and onomatapeia (sp?) and all those other lovely wordnerd things. It looks good, it sounds good, and it's funny. It makes me giggle.
8. It's not horrid. There are some pretty gross deaths, but it's not upsetting. Most of the programs I like these days are horribly dark. But Pushing Daisies is not. It's lovely. The Pie Maker and Chuck love each other. Olive is tiny and super tough and awesome. She can bake pies or solve crimes. She's great.
9. I watch it before bed, when I'm tired, and it helps me get to sleep. It's nice.

The only thing I don't like about it is that it was cancelled before the end of its second season. Apparently they're screening the finale in the US in their summer, so at least we'll get that degree of closure. But still. It's really great telly. Here's the first bit to prove it:

"i like pie" was posted in the category bikes and crafty bastard and digging and djing and lindy hop and other dances and music and sydney and television

February 26, 2009

today i:

Posted by dogpossum on February 26, 2009 6:06 PM | Comments (0)

Got up earlier than usual so as to begin preparing for my (fuckful) early teaching starts in a couple of weeks. Not too early (only 8.30), but I find it very difficult to change my sleeping pattern, and it's a long road from 9.30am to 6.30am when you're going at half hour intervals. I'm considering just moving all at once, but I don't like the way I'm going to feel that one day of craptitude. I also find my body just ignores that sort of massive all-at-once change. I am a creature of habit. This will, of course, make late night DJing tricky. The early start is a Monday, with a day of lectures and tutes, then a day of tutes on Tuesdays. So Saturday late night DJing will be a bit of a pain. Last semester I found the traffic noise on our busy road very difficult to deal with and had to resort to ear plugs. I hope - and don't think - that'll happen again as I've adjusted to the noise.

Rode my bike to Petersham for lunch (why Petersham? Well, two words: Sweet Bellam the 'cake boutique'). Had bunny and a nice broad bean salad at a Portugese joint. Watched a bunch of middle aged blokes from the train station eating whole chickens and chips. Then realised that they were actually only young men, just carrying the bodies of middle aged, beer-belly-wearing, overweight, unfit men. It was a bit scary. I'd seen the same lot having lunch there the day before. Bunny and salad was kind of a special meal for me (it was quite nice, actually, though I hurt my tooth on a bunny bone), but to eat chicken and chips every single day? I was just thankful they had to walk up the hill to the restaurant. Though they probably drove. I wanted to yell out "Don't! Don't eat that again! Have a salad! Have a sandwich!" but I figured it wasn't such a good idea. I did plan on a cake, but decided to push on to my next destination first.

Printed out a road map from our place to Newtown. Petersham, I discovered yesterday, is only 10 minutes (if that) from our place. Which is such a tiny distance. On the map, that's only about a third of the way to Newtown. But the main roads to Newtown are scary: narrow, busy, fast-moving traffic on a single lane, poorly surfaced road. All bad news for a baby bike rider like me. Then I noticed this:

View Larger Map

Street view showed me this:

View Larger Map

Which is pretty exciting. You can't look at them using street view, but Sydney has a whole system of these sorts of alleys. They're not cobble stones like Melbourne's, though - they're sealed. Now, alleys are notoriously dangerous ways of getting around by bike. Things come out of blind corners, cars drive down them at speed, weird blokes grab you off your bike (that's my nightmare).

So I was kind of careful. But I chose to ride along this one anyway, all the way to Newtown. I'm really glad that I did. I saw lots and lots of good scrumping opportunities. Lemons, Grapes (ripe! accessible!), longans (you know I have no clue what to do with them), plums... all sorts of neat stuff. I also came across a few doozers and their mini digger. I couldn't get past on-bike, so I had to carry my bike over the ripped up concrete, and then up and over the edge of the digger. The doozer bloke (young, mediterranean, well-trained) offered to carry my bike. I smiled and said "no thank you" and hefted it over. I'm glad I'm not one of those steel-is-real nuts. I'm also glad I didn't bring a big bottle of water this time. But dang, I felt tough. It was all very interesting. And riding there from Petersham was ridiculously easy and quick.

Dropped in on a friend's shop to say hi, then went up the road to the bike shop.

Bought stuff at the bike shop. I bought a new helmet (because mine was old and skanky and really kind of crapped up through mistreatment), new lights (because we've lost our lights and I needed new ones for getting home from yoga) and new grips for my handlebars. It cost me far too much money.

I also looked at cleats/click shoes (I am mad keen on these ones, but not too hopeful). I'm not sure of their names, though I did ask the bike guy. Wikipedia tells me cleats are just specialist sports shoes with spikes. So who knows what you call the cycling ones. Basically, they're special shoes that have a little locky thing on the sole that clicks into a locky thing in your pedal. Why bother with that rubbish? It makes pedaling more efficient - you make better use of your muscles and your foot moves around less on the pedal, stopping you wasting energy with wiggling. So to get this set up happening, you need special pedals and special shoes. The shoes are quite stiff and can be super-daggy or fairly ok. I think I only want them because The Squeeze has them. New click-wearers tend to stack it a few times at first until they learn how to work the quick release.
I'm not sure whether these things will make me cooler/a better cyclist/a consumption stooge. But for a girl who's been browsing far too many (make sure you check out the little movie on that one) bike sites, it's actually pretty impressive that I haven't suddenly decided to dump my perfectly serviceable Apollo road bike for something ridiculously expensive and terribly sexy. ..
.. it is sexy, though.

Anyway, after a little wander through the bike shop and a quiet (private) mock of the fashionista bloke buying his first fixy (enjoy that no-gears, no-break thing, dood - especially with your perfectly white dunlop volleys, immaculately shaved and tanned legs and perfectly perfect designer shorts), I left Newtown.

And went to Petersham for a cake. The flourless chocolate cake at Sweet Bellam is fabulous. Their coffee is ordinary, but it's a very nice place to have a sit and a read and a cake. Petersham was rocking with groups of senoras on the lookout for spunky older gentlemen and "coffee! coffee!" so I had to be very careful making my way down to the other back-roads path home.
There is a system of back-road designated bike routes which I don't really understand. The one I used a lot is the 'L5', though I'm also into the 'L10'. I thought they were prepaid only bus route numbers. But there're also pretty well-signed bike routes. Roads are usually shitfully bumpy and crap, but they're quieter, wider, safer roads. Don't seem to join up properly, but that could be because I'm not following them properly. Anyways, they're worth the look.

Looked at lots of bike pron. I've just waded through a heap of sites, including:
- this RTA bike route map collection which I can't seem to understand.
-the city of Sydney's new Cycle Way, which ties into the Jan Gehl assessment of Sydney (as discussed here on City Of Sound. I don't really understand the new cycle way yet because I don't know the city roads or areas well enough to understand the practicalities and issues involved.
- a lecture on the Powerhouse's bike collection via their their weekly lecture series
- bike bus project website, where I felt a little bit frustrated. I'm not interested in getting into the freakin' hardcore yahr! masculinity of the real-steele/fixy scene (mostly because I'm packing a uterus, and they're not really appropriate in that scene - apparently you're harder hardcore if you risk your gonads wearing them on the outside while you cycle), but I'm not really into these semi-lame government/council initiatives, either. I'm just not sure where I stand, really. With my friends or The Squeeze or on my own, probably.
- and, finally wished I'd seen this rider spoke thing earlier.

Had a little think about my 'goals', as a badass cycling feministah. I'm very attracted to the steel is real/fixy thing. If only because it is so tattooed, no-cleats, RAHR! badassin' hadcore. And male-dominated. I like to think of myself as all those things (sans tatts, though), and I do like to push myself into male-dominated scenes. I also like it as an alternative to the happy-clappy, hand-holding hippy cycling world. Or to the shave-your-legs, wear-lycra, ride-down-highways-really-quickly crowd. But I don't think I could really be bothered.

I want equipment that's tough and hard-wearing, so I don't have to replace it.
I'm not really interested in brands, but I'm not like those fixy-fashionistas who peel all the stickers off their bikes to be cool in a sort of faux-op-shop Revival sort of way.
I want to get maximum efficiency from my body by using the right equipment, but I don't want to buy stuff 'just because'. My old bike is perfectly adequate. My flouro yellow rain jacket is daggy but safe (and kind of stinky atm). My new helmet isn't skatin' rad, but it is safe and good quality. Do I need clicks? Do I need lycra pants? In the latter case, I definitely need some sort of new shorts situation - I've lost so much weight none of the shorts in our house fit me any more.
All of this is, of course, some sort of desperate attempt to distract myself from not dancing. It's classic transferral. I need to resolve my feelings about not being able to dance. Or I could just throw myself into another activity obsessively. I'm sure as shit not doing any sewing these days. But gardening... that's another story (remind me to blog our seedies' progress).

So it's been kind of a big day. I'm so glad I'm back on my bike, and back exploring Sydney. Next I'm going to find some way to explore the beaches. Possibly a train/bike combo.
Yes, please.

"today i:" was posted in the category bikes and clicky and fewd and gastropod and sydney

February 16, 2009

bike on!

Posted by dogpossum on February 16, 2009 4:27 PM | Comments (0)

We've been doing quite a bit of bike riding round here since I've been injured. That means lots of hills for me, and lots of riding really slowly behind Boss Ham for The Squeeze. I am getting tougher and fitter, but I'm no hardcore commuter or something-to-prove Steel is real type. I ride for pleasure, to buy my groceries, to get places and to sticky beak as much as humanly possible. I ride a $500 bike of ordinary brand. The Squeeze rides something fancy he made himself from parts he bought on the internet. I am not afraid to leave mine locked up on the street. He worries about his the entire time we're in the cafe/shop/pub.
We've been surprised by how few people ride bikes in Sydney. Well, not so much surprised. It is hilly. The roads are narrow and do not have safe, well-signed bike paths. Motorists are aggressive and don't know how to drive safely near cyclists. There aren't many bike shops about and there are very, very few loops for locking up your bike. We didn't really expect the same number of cyclists as in Melbourne. Melbourne is, after all, jammed with them at the moment. But we have been surprised by our Sydney friends' thinking about bike riding.

1. Not many of them have been on a bike in the last ten years. This isn't too surprising - nor had I when I moved to Melbourne.

2. Very few of them have any desire to ride a bike. This, again, isn't too suprising; a desire to bike ride is built into you after a number of pleasurable rides. School-time memories aren't exactly conducive to cycling enthusiasm.

3. Most of them are very suprised to hear that a) The Squeeze commutes to work, and b) that I do my grocery shopping on the bike. It is this incidental cycling that I think is essential to making serious life style changes, for both our own fitness and for environmental goodwomanship. I'm always surprised that they're surprised by the thought of riding their bike (rather than driving their car) fifteen minutes to the next suburb to buy a whole heap of groceries.
They're always very surprised to hear that many veggie shops home deliver, and that people who aren't nannas use this home delivery service. I think that quite a few of them hear the delivery fee (which can range from $3 to $7, depending) and blanche a little. But then most of them find it difficult to believe that many places deliver things for free. Home delivery was once common place. It's certainly a feature in neighbourhoods with many older residents. But it's simply not something most car drivers would imagine using. For me, it's an essential (and entirely wonderful) part of life.
I like riding my bike for groceries. Because I work from home, I can go during the week, as many times as necessary (another thought that stumps people - shopping a few times a week? For pleasure?). Riding to the shops is not only convenient, it's also fun. It's nice to get out of the house and wizz off to do something useful. But I have also been a weekend grocery shopper. The Squeeze and I used to shop for our groceries together on the weekend when I was working out of the house, and we've been doing it a bit lately recently as my out-of-house commitments have increased.

We hop on our bikes, ride fifteen minutes to a cafe for a nice brunch, then off to the shops. We select and purchase our F&V, we leave empty-handed (the best part of home delivery!) Then off to the butcher or the deli or the supermarket. Because we do this sort of shopping-for-pleasure grocery shopping, we tend not to use the supermarkets. We use smaller businesses for our meat, fruit, vege and fish, and for specialist items (tofu, spices, etc). This means that we're not only buying better quality products, we're also avoiding huge chain shops. And we're also zooming in on businesses which are more likely to home deliver. Businesses which are right on the street with lots of spots just outside for us to use for bike parking.
Then we ride home.
We certainly don't need a car for all this. Riding a bike is more convenient than public transport. And it simply makes you feel good to get a little endorphine action on a nice weekend day.

I'm also surprised by non-cyclists' surprise at The Squeeze's commuting by bike. They immediately assume he's some hard core badass cycling machine (he is, but that's not the point). They don't tend to think of ways to ride a bike to work that don't involve masses of lyrca or really expensive bikes. In Melbourne, many people ride to work with their friends, at a very sensible medium pace. You see all sorts of bikes (and all sorts of cyclists) in peak hour - it's not all lycra. But that doesn't seem to happen here in Sydney. And I think it's a sad thing.

4. While they're interested in coming riding with us, they think of it as 'going for a ride' rather than 'let's ride to lunch on Saturday'. I love hopping on my bike to ride to the pub or to see a band or to explore an interesting area. The riding is fun in itself, but it's not the sum of my enjoyment. I like it that cycling lets you talk to your companions and stop easily to have a good stare at something interesting. But I think that for many non-bike riders, the ride itself is so unusual and strange it becomes the focus of the event. I think, also, that when you ride infrequently you don't really know how to dress for cycling or how to plan ahead. So the ride is often a little uncomfortable or awkward the first time. Or requires a little more preparation than just popping out to the car. For us, this is second nature. We have said goodbye to delicately fashionable haircuts and wide-legged trousers. But we have also said hello to three-quartered trousers, comfortable shorts and a wide range of funky Tshirts. I think of my helmet as a mark of coolness these days: "Look, here is my helmet on my arm. That means I rode here. That means I'm wicked cool." I know that that is the best ten year old thinking, but, frankly, ten year olds have it right: riding a bike does make you feel wicked cool.

5. They feel a bit sorry for me when I 'have' to ride (or catch PT) home. This is one of the stranger responses. For me, riding home is a pleasure. Catching PT isn't horrible. Getting stranded at the bus stop is, but the actual bus ride isn't. And I really, really like the combination of bike and train or light rail. You don't have to muck about with bike racks or parking or any of that rubbish. You just get on. And that, my friends, is where bikes piss all over cars.

So, I'm generally quite surprised by Sydney people's responses to bike riding. I think they think it's difficult and challenging and frightening. Like climbing mountains (this of course makes The Squeeze my Tenzing Norgay). I'd like to imagine that I'm a little like a mountain climber, but mostly I know that I'm more like a badass feministah who likes riding down hill more than uphill, and is more than happy to stop for a look or a cup of tea or chat mid-ride. Cycling in Sydney is not dangerous. Motorists in Sydney are. But there are far more safe, lovely rides away from the main streams than you might expect. Cycling in Sydney is fun, and it is safe and it is, really, a lovely thing to do with friends.

In the spirit of my (recent and ongoing) attempts to get more of my Sydney friends onto bikes, here are some interesting links I've found:

Budget Bike: riding a cheap (<$100) bike (Australian male author)
Dulwich Hill Bike Club: a local club with a 'Saturday Slowies' group:

I've noticed that most cyclists in Sydney (that I've seen) are male. Most of the hardcore cyclists I've know have been male as well. Hardcore cycling can (I suspect) be faily blokey with lots of dick-in-hand posturing. I really don't have any time for that. A cycling nut once dismissed my yellow safety jacket as a clear indication that I was 'a commuter'. The implication being that this was the worst possible insult for a hardcore cyclist. In my world, 'a commuter' is badass, and something I'd like to grow up to be. I think, though, that I'm far more likely to remin 'a mosier', someone who mosies along on their bike thinking a lot and staring in people's gardens and windows even more. Speed is not my goal; stamina is.
So I guess a woman-friendly, un-competitive casual cycling group would be useful. I know many of my female friends (who aren't dancers) aren't comfortable with physical activity and physical risk. Dancers are better - they're used to looking like idiots and taking the odd spill. I think, for many women, it's this risk-taking and knowing that you're actually capable of doing things on your own (even if it is just riding your bike to the shops) that's very important. For me, cycling is about being independent, about being physically capable, about being strong. I'm not as strong or fit as The Squeeze, for example, but that doesn't matter when I'm riding off on my own to Marrickville for fabric or to meet a friend for afternoon tea.

Last weekend we rode to the Marrickville community markets. It pissed down rain (luckily before and after we rode), but we saw some really great stuff (and we think we might actually be Marrickville People or Dulwich Hill People rather than Summer Hill People) and the markets are great. Plus it's a pretty safe ride without too many nasty hills. Though my sense of 'hill' is changing as we ride more - I can't believe how pathetic I was about hills in Melbourne. There were no hills in Brunswick.

I'm going to make more people ride with us on the weekend. It will rock.

"bike on!" was posted in the category bikes

February 11, 2009

yay yoga

Posted by dogpossum on February 11, 2009 10:42 AM | Comments (0)

Well, things are kind of boring over here in boring town. If only boring people are bored, I guess I must be pretty damn dull. I like it that the weather's cooler, and it makes me want to get outside and ride my bike. But it's also raining, and that's not much fun in a hilly town when you ride a bike with skinny, slick tires. It's weird to be wearing trousers again. It's been months and months.

bksi.jpgOn Monday I went to yoga for the first time since I've been here. It was so nice to be yogaring again, I smiled involuntarily all through the class. That could have been the endorphines speaking. The studio is very close to our place - only 10 minutes door to door (including time spent wrestling with the garage door and my bike on our steep drive way). I do have to ride down a very steep hill, then up another very steep hill, but I'm hardcore now, so that's ok. In fact, I can't believe what a baby I was about hills in Melbourne - there's no way I could ride _anywhere_ here if I couldn't handle hills. But I can, now, because I am badASS.
So yoga rocked. It's Iyengar, and it's a baby class, but I need that babyness. I am so out of condition. My poor foot got a bit of a workout, though, which is ok. Lots of standing poses which I usually love, but which were a bit intense for my poor plantar fascia. They did give my ankle a good stretch and flex, though, which is really important. Now I understand why back bends (where you sit on your feet, knees bent, bum on your heels) hurt so much - my ankle doesn't bend enough. So some of those sort of poses freakin' hurt, but my ankle needs to be worked a bit so I can get greater movement and - consequently - ask less of my plantar fascia.
The studio was small, which is ok. The cost was only $15 per class, which is good. The class itself was nice, but we didn't do any partner work (waaah!) and we moved through poses a bit quickly for my liking. I like taking a long time to get into a pose, holding the pose for ages, then getting out of it slowly. I like the slow, careful movement because it makes me really _think_ about the way I'm using my body. It's also a lot harder and makes my muscles really work. It was strange having a female teacher. You know, men and women have different bodies? And their muscles are differently proportioned? That's some wacky shit.

Basically, I feel freaking GOOD in my body today, even with the second-day-after soreness. It's a good soreness.

At any rate, I'd like to go back tonight, but I should probably give my foot a bit more of a break between classes. Though I think it'd probably be ok. Heck, I could justify my way into going back. So long as it isn't raining when I want to leave.

What do I like about Iyengar?
I like the precision and emphasis on alignment. I am a big old biomechanics nerd, particularly in regard to dancing, and I'm fascinated by the way Iyengar develops your awareness of your muscles and tendons and fascia and bones and bits. I like the way it micro-focusses on poses, and the way you learn to do them perfectly. Because I have a bunch of knee and hip problems usually, I like the way Iyengar's emphasis on having everything properly aligned (foot under knee under hip under...) teaches my body to hold itself properly and get over bad habits.

I like the props. I like using all the blankets and bolsters and belts and things. Partly because I like making cubbies, but also because props actually make poses easier. A belt holds you in place so that you can get used to how a pose feels. But you can adjust the belt to a hold that's comfortable, so it's not freaky. Bolsters and blankets can help you with a pose that might otherwise be too strong - they give you an easier version of a pose.

I like being adjusted by the teacher. I like having that one-on-one attention because it helps me learn. It's also nice to get that attention in class and to have someone put their hands on you. I like working in pairs for that same reason. I like the physical contact because it's helpful to have someone actually put your body in the right position, and because it's just nice to work skin-on-skin with someone like that. I like working in pairs because it helps me learn - you see how someone does the pose, then you work together to make the pose work properly. I also like assisting the person doing the pose and seeing from the outside how it's working. I like having a partner when I'm in the pose because it makes it easier. It's also nice to work with other people on this stuff - you can talk through a pose and experiment. It's less scary as well, and it's reassuring to have someone else to work with. And it reminds you that everyone has completely different issues, so it's ridiculous to compare yourself to anyone else. And that reminds you that yoga is about developing your own awareness so that you can be on better terms with your own body.

I like the slowness and the emphasis on holding poses rather than rushing through them. I like the challenge of holding a pose for a long time - it's like resistance training and lifting weights, but without props (ironically). It's challenging. But it's also really satisfying. I like it that my own body is enough to provide a really challenging work out. And that I can learn to use my body in a way that lets me lift my own body weight.

I like it that yoga thinks about muscles (and bones and so on) as a complex system of parts. Unlike doing weights at the gym, where you tend to think of muscles individually. When we lift our arms out to the side in yoga, we think not only of our arms, but of how our feet are placed on the ground, how our legs are positioned, how our pelvis is sitting, how the muscles in our sides, back, neck and so on are working. All this to hold our arms out straight to the side. And of course, because you're holding all these muscles in place, you're really working, so your heart pumps and you're generally giving good 'resistance training' style effort. I really like the way yoga makes you use the right muscles for the right job. Just as with dancing, you use big muscles for big jobs and small muscles for small jobs. And you always start from the ground up. I think this is why my foot injury upsets me so much - it makes it so very clear that you can't dance properly without proper weight commitment. Your feet are so very important.

I like it that Iyengar is good for injured people. Injuries at dancing mean sitting out for a few months. Injuries mean going to yoga to help heal. I like it that everyone can go to iyengar yoga and participate, no matter how old or infirm or injured they are. It can be as gentle or as strong as you need or can bare. I think this is the most important thing for me at the moment. I've been spending the last few months thinking of my body as fucked up and an impediment to my independence. But yoga reminds me that it's not actually fucked up, that I can still get on and do things and be in it and enjoy it. I just have to respect its limitations. So with yoga I can still go and spend an hour sweating and working really hard, and not be told that I'm 'broken' by those same limitations. I think it's this sense of confidence and respect for my body (rather than resentment) that is most important for me at the moment.

I like yoga very much.
It makes me feel so good. It stops me thinking for a couple of hours.
It's gentle and non-competitive, which is nice after dancing.
It's intellectually stimulating and I learn a lot. But it's learning about myself.

"yay yoga" was posted in the category bikes and lindy hop and other dances and yoga

January 26, 2009

bikes, cockatoos, plants and the freakin' humidity

Posted by dogpossum on January 26, 2009 9:53 PM

I can't figure out what I've done with the comments. They're busted. I think this blog needs an overhaul, anyway - it's been ages since I did the templates. Probably also need to update to new MT. Or new blogging tool.

- We are biking tourista grande! We are riding our bikes everywhere. I am trying to find a nice way of putting them on a map. Bikely isn't very helpful (it has a craptastic site). Am considering special cycling blog. Nerdy enough? NO! But we have discovered some lovely river-side bike paths (Cooks River) and some sneaky off-road shady tree lined bike paths (somewhere in... Petersham? Parallel to... Hewson Canal ?). We have also decided we don't like riding through stupid Darling Harbour (well, across that bridge - the Piermont? - it sucks) because not only are pedestrians dumb, but tourist pedestrians are stupidly dumb. I am also having brought home to me just how un-bike-aware Sydney drivers are. It's like they freak out when they see a cyclist - they swing out really wiiiiide to get around us. Or they crawl along behind us. Melbourne motorists have mad cyclist-aware-skills. Also, Sydney drivers pull up at traffic lights at the very last minute. This is terrifying if you're just in front of them, pulled up with one leg down, waiting for the lights to change (but also makes the point: do NOT hug the curb at lights - TAKE THE ENTIRE LANE).

If you'd like to come bike riding with us, drop me a line. I am very unfit atm, so we go slow. Especially on hills. We have taken many friends for their first-in-10-years bike rides. They've liked it. We're kind and are quite happy just to poodle along, chatting and sticky beaking.
We also avoid busy roads and we like to explore and 'just have a look'. We like a combination of urban streets (lots of windows to look in) and leafy bits. We've been surprised by how leafy Sydney is, and how many nice, quiet streets there are right here in the inner suburbs. There are also some really great bike paths. Even the city (on a Sunday) isn't so scary. Though I don't ride on the actual road.
We also like to stop regularly for cake.

- It was recently very hot here in Sydney. But now it is only quite warm and incredibly humid. It's been drizzling all afternoon. That's good, because we rode to Bunnings in Ashfield today (via Harbourfield) and bought plants. When we got to Bunnings we were (once again) shitted off by its shitfulness: no bike loops (well, duh - it's like _the_ most car-centric place ever... after Ikea), inept staff, etc etc. But we bought plants. A grevillea and some sort of native climber (whose name I can't remember). I wanted Telopea and Protea, but they are fuck-off expensive (as in $50 for small pots). So we said "fuck off!" and got the common-as-muck moonlight grevillea and cheapy native climber. Then we rode home. It was so hot. It was overcast, but I got burnt badly. Because I am a dickwit.
When we got home we rested. Then we cleaned our house. Then we planted the plants. I actually supervised (because I am still injured - and will be for at least another couple of months, if not forever (the future isn't looking too good for my poor foot injury, but I don't want to talk about that because it makes me cry. A future without dancing will do that.) The Squeeze dug. In the light rain. He was sweating more than it was raining because it's so warm. The holes are great, though. And the dirt drains nicely. Anyways, we planted those suckers.
Now we need another grevillea. I did see something I liked: some sort of grevillea (or was it a narrow-leafed banksia?) which had dark purpley/marooney leaves. It was neat. I was thinking a couple of those with a bunch of knee-high purple grasses (which were just near by) would be wonderful. But I can never go past the grevillea. And I wasn't sure the purple one flowered - it didn't have a very useful tag. I did want to get something indigenous to this area, but, frankly, we're a bit short of accessible nurseries here. You have to have a car to really get sweet lowdown. I am going to check out the Marrickville markets some weekend soon - I need a cheaper source of plants. And I also want to stay away from the Bunnings type plants. I want something that's not force-grown in big green houses or big plantings. I want tough plants grown in some poppa's back yard in cheap pots. Something street-wise and rough.
Anyways, I'm going to get those natives happening down the front, in front of the main bedroom windows. The climber will climb up the railing on the front steps (but I'll clip it to stop it getting onto the top rail). I'd really like to plant up the grass down there with some taller native grasses, but I don't think our land lord would like that. I'm also thinking about veggies and herbs again. I just can't live without my herb garden any longer. And this weather is so plant-perfect. We'll see.

ct.jpg- Today we saw something awesome. As we were digging in the garden (well, The Squeeze was the one actually digging - I was standing under an umbrella in his crocs supervising and carrying the watering can) a bunch of rowdy cockatoos landed on the facade of the olden days flats on the opposite corner. There were about six or eight of them and they were obviously feeling their oats. Feeling all charged up by the cool and wet (after a little research, I've discovered they like to flap about in the rain to bathe themselves). They clambered about on the front of the building shouting for a while. Then they flew over to the olden days garage on the other corner. That's when things got good. They're such big, flamboyant birds. All yellow combs and huge white wings. They were very loud and social and clambered about all over the place, using their beaks and claws to get about. They were also digging about in the cracks of the buildings and the power pole. They spent some time pulling the power pole to bits (literally - they pulled great chunks off the top and threw them on the road) and shouting. Then they started pulling bits off the garage's facade.
They started just digging in the cracks and pulling off bits of plaster. Then they started pulling bricks out of the facade. Real bricks. The big chunks of masonry and plaster and brick fell down with big crashes and the cockatoos shouted and laughed and called across to each other. They were spread out all over the facade and the power lines and power poles, upside down, ride side up, combs up, wings out. It was awesome. Eventually the guy in the flat above the garage stuck his head out the window to see what was going on. The cockatoos kind of sneered and shouted at him and carried on. Until one pulled a massive brick out of the wall and nearly dropped it on another who was trying to pull the window awning off. Then they got a scare and had a shout at each other, then flapped up to the power pole. And then down the street. It was like a rowdy bunch of... large, rowdy birds... were moving their way down the street, shouting and talking and pulling shit to bits. It was fully sick. I didn't think to take a photo til far too late. So just take my word for it, ok?
It's nice to live in a city with lots of native trees and plants, and, consequently, lots of native birds. Unlike noxious-weed-Melbourne, which is chock full of stupid introduced plants.

- Today we rode up the bike route to a little cafe in Dulwich Hill. It was full of skanky yuppies. The food was ok. Then we decided to ride on to the Bunnings in Ashfield via Harbourfield. I got burnt. We both got freakin' hot. We rode back from Ashfied. We are badarse.
Yesterday we went in on the train to Town Hall station to collect The Squeeze's bike from his office. Then we rode across Piermont Bridge, down the side of Darling Harbour. We spent some time looking at a ship. That was neat, but not as neat as the books in Piratica. They're the best because they're pirate ships. Captained by women.
Then we rode along the beach, looking at yuppy warehouses flats. They were boring. We rode past the park where they were having Jazz On The River. The grass was all brown, crackly sticks.
Then we rode on to the Fish Market. The market was hot and crowded and The Squeeze didn't like it. So I foraged some sushimi, prawns and octopus. Then we rode on.
We were pretty freakin' hot by then, and I was feeling weak, so we caught the light rail (which is just like a kind of piss-weak tram, but with REAL conductors (so you have to buy tickets) and which you can TAKE YOUR BIKES ON !!1!). That was a nice, short trip to Lillyfield.
From Lilyfield station we rode up the hill across Paramatta Road, then up a little hill and taking a right turn at a little cafe (which was called something like Lily and Somebody or something. It had its name written in white in 'American Typewriter' font on the window and was closed). Then we rode along the bike lanes to an old building which looked a bit like an old train station or some sort of feed station (a sort of Victorian loading or despatch dock).
Then we kept on riding along the ridge til we got to... um... a park.
Then we turned left on a road which had no cars at all.
Then we... rode a bit. Then we went down the Hewson Canal bike path, which is very nice and shady, but made me think 'don't ride here by yourself ever, ladies.' We saw no one on that very nice bike path but three tiny little girls with bright white hair and one giant, bald dad.
Then we rode on and up til we got to the road that goes under a bridge - the end of Marion Street (which I think of as the road near the corner where I nearly stacked it on our first Big Ride).
Then we continued on and got onto another bike path past a giant dog park with about a squillion dogs roaming about.
Then we rode on to the bike path that runs along the canal that goes into the ocean.
Then we rode on. I can't remember what happened there, but we ended up coming out on Old Canterbury Road at that weird stop sign. Then up Old Canterbury Road to Dulwich Hill. I was especially badarse on that last bit.

Basically, I am badarse because I'm not scared of hills any more. The Squeeze is badarse because he rides his one-gear bike very slowly, just behind me (but not too close or he gets yelled at). Going slow is harder than going fast.

"bikes, cockatoos, plants and the freakin' humidity" was posted in the category bikes and dogpossum and domesticity and greenies and sydney

December 7, 2008


Posted by dogpossum on December 7, 2008 4:05 PM | Comments (1)

In the two weeks I was in Melbourne I read three of these young adult books. They're called 'Pretties', 'Ugglies' and 'Specials' and they're by some guy whose last name starts with W. I want to read the last one, 'Extras'. They're not very good, but they're quick reading. I am very into young adult fiction (YA for those of us in The Trade) atm, mostly because of 'Titus Groan'.
Now I am reading this other dumb YA book called 'City of Bones' or 'Bone City' or whatever. It's kind of crap. No Diane Wynn Jones, that's for freakn' sure. Also, finishing off 'Tehanu' the other day (go Ursula Le Guin, go!) has ruined me for anything less. Jeez, that's some good shit. Also, has anyone read the other 'sequels' in the Earthsea series? I think I might.

Basically, this big binge on books (I'm also reading '1984' for the first time) is the product of a trip to that giant second hand book shop in Newtown and some time in Melbourne with Galaxy. She made me buy books (well, I bought the two Buffy season 8 volumes I was missing, but didn't go with the Angel because it was all FREAKING EXPENSIVE. No more Minotaur bookshop for me). I also went to a game shop and bought some more Cheap Ass games (NEED GAME PLAYING FRIENDS! NOW! min. 2 players for my 3-player games). And I bought a broach. And then, because I was obviously ridin' HIGH on the crazy horse, I stopped. But the ride, while it was on, it was so good.

So now I am all about buying books. Usually I wait for The Mother to bring up a shipment or I re-read, but I can't re-read those bastards any more. I can't even count how many times I've read them, but we're over 10. So now I'm buying the buggers.

Also, I am thinking about emusic again.

And, I haven't bought anything for anyone for christmas except my little brother's kids. Because I am crap. But I'm not sure anyone but me wants Chronological Classics CDs, jewelry by local artists, squids of YA fiction (actually, I'm not sure about that one - I think one of my nieces is into books. Because she is into adolescence, almost, and has turned into the nerd of the family. Finally - another nerd is born. She aims to be a chef when she grows up, so I figure that's a win).

Anyways, I hate buying christmas presents. I'd rather make them, but the fabric shop is TOO FUCKING FAR AWAY. It makes me crazy.

And, I have injured my plantar fascia, so I am hobbling around in pain or sitting on my arse watching DVDs (Heroes is less than A1 second time through, but it fills the gap). Or reading YA fiction. Can I just say: YA was better in My Day. Which was about the 70s, apparently, as that's when all the YA books my Ps had were published. Considering I was born in 1974, I guess they were planning ahead. Phew.

Have I mentioned the pain in my foot? Physio has hopes for me and a big dance camp in January, but I'm not so sure. It's a lot of pain. I blame MLX. I can't walk without pain. I can only just walk without a limp. Most days. I do the exercises, though, and I hope. I'm not sure about this getting older thing. It was better when I could just drink drive and get into pakour. Now that I am old, I am reaping the effects of my ill-spent youth. Which, actually, was mostly spent wearing docs and shaving my head. Oh, and going nuts in the university library. With the books. Because, you know, the UQ library had a fair few more books than the Sandgate High library. And you could just _borrow them out for free_!
Anyway, with that and all the disco dancing, I think I damaged myself a bit. The physio reckons fracturing something in my ankle horse riding when I was in my early 20s is responsible for a dodgy ankle today. At the time, I shrugged it off. Today, I suffer. Also, the once-fractured right wrist is also giving me trouble. So this is the lesson: breaking limbs has long term consequences. Which SUCK ARSE.

I am not coping well with the enforced home-stay. I want to go out. Into the world. I hadn't realised just how much walking I do in my day to day life. To the train station, down hill (excruciating on the home trip). To Ashfield for groceries (returning home to empty house, home alone til the weekend, local shops CRAP for veggies, partner working full time so can't go to shops: shitful!). To Marrickville to explore the local fabric shop. To the train station for a 2 part trip to the fabric shop in Green Square. Around Circular Quay, just to look.
Not to mention dancing.
Anyway, if I had a car, I could probably get around. But I'm relying on the bus, and it's not so good. It's just about driving me MAD.

A trip to Burwood yesterday to see a (terrible) film was really hard. I wanted to look in the Burwood shops and eat dumpling. No. Go straight to the cinema. Once I got there, I was in real pain. Then I had to stop off in Ashfield for our veggies. That was ok, but by then I couldn't imagine getting home from the train station in Summer Hill. So I caught a cab. It was so frustrating and painful - ordinarily the 20minute walk to our house from Ashfield would be delight. I'd walk through the park and pick some rosemary. I'd sticky beak in people's gardens. I'd think about things. But yesterday, it was a big piece of crap. Getting a cab felt like a failure.

The physio says riding a bike would be a bit less painful. But I have this stupid left over cold from MLX which is also making me very tired and weak. Which is probably why yesterday was so hard. But I'm also still scared of the traffic.
Fucking hell, this sucks. Injuries: be over! But the physio says we're in for a month of work before I can dance. Which makes me cry. No christmas performance :( No social dancing at three christmas parties. Nothing.

I think I'll buy myself another book. Or perhaps a few million more songs on emusic. I deserve them.

"waaaaaah" was posted in the category bikes and books and domesticity and lindy hop and other dances and melbourne and mood swings

August 15, 2008

round up

Posted by dogpossum on August 15, 2008 12:24 PM

Enough of the random posts. Just join them all together and make one long stream of consciousness post.

Right now my stomach is feeling unsure. It began feeling unsure yesterday after I had chicken salad from the joint in Summer Hill. I wouldn't have eaten there if it hadn't been 4pm and I hadn't forgotten to have lunch. I'd also walked to the hardware store (again - I freakin' love that place) and then round the long way to the shops, mostly so I could look at the flour mill that's up for redevelopment. I am fascinated by the fact that there's a giant flour mill just down the street, and that it's joined to another flour mill in Dulwich Hill by a special-duty train line. That one's been made into flats, though. But I'm still really interested in it. It seems I'm not the only one into flour mills. There's always someone leaning over the railing on the bridge over the railway, staring at the giant white flour mill (the one in Summer Hill). It's a pretty good view - a long view, from a height. And it's so freakin' big. And you just know that the people having a stare are thinking about what they'd do with the site if they owned it. I don't know why they're bothering - it belongs to a gang of crows who've been terrorising the pigeons in that neck of the woods, and they're not likely to cede it to a bunch of no-winged two-leggers who'd like a little light industrial inner-city living.

So yeah, my stomach feels a bit odd. I can't decide if it's dodgy chicken salad or anxiety. It could quite possibly be low level anxiety. This is the first day I've had to myself in the new house with no real jobs to do. I guess I need to go up to Ashfield to get groceries (we have none). I'd really like to get into the city to a) go to see some Art, and (more importantly), b) find that tapestry speciality place. But I'm apparently crippled by... that thing that makes it difficult to leave the house. I think I might chalk all this up to hormones, as I've actually been feeling quite wonderful ever since we got here. I really like traveling and I love being in a new city. I like all the walking. Plus Sydney's fabulous weather is making me feel so good. I hadn't realised just how draining Melbourne's grey skies and nasty cold were until we left. I am remembering how nice it is to live in a warmer climate. But I'm not so struck on the increased humidity - I am also remembering its effects on my allergies.

It's not so much that I've been shouting at innocent blokes, but more that I've been trying to rub my nose off my face and had trouble concentrating. It could be PMS, but I actually am pretty sure it's allergies screwing with my mood. I'm trying not to take antihistamines as I seem to be on them every single day, but it's not really making me feel nice.

I'm also at home because I'm waiting for tradesmen #62 000. Actually, it's more like tradesman #9. Really. I am liking living in a house where the owner actually fixes things. The things we've needed fixed have been fairly inconsequential... well, except for the River of Effluent... but they've been fixed immediately.

1. windows painted shut? fixed (Charlie, from Greece - my favourite)
2. fence built? done (whatsit from Malta - initially my least favourite, but later one of my top 5)
3. forgotten bathtub spout? done (young fulla who's name I can't remember. ok)
4. garage door doesn't close? not quite fixed, but at least a couple of blokes came to look at it (one of whom was Mal, whose parents were from Italy).
5. garage door still not closing? still not fixed (another bloke who failed to return and give me his life story, though he did provide a few interesting tips on the tensile strength of various metals).
6. sound proofing? quotes done (including.... can't remember his name either. But he was Greek by descent and he lives in the outer suburbs but works in Marrickville. He recommends the cakes in Leichardt)
7 and 8. River of Effluent? dammed. ("Maria! Send tradesmen, please! The garden is full of effluent!" 2 young fullas of skip descent, up to their knees in human waste, giving our drains a good routing. White neighbour-cat carefully discouraged from helping)

9. Today it's another sound proofing guy. Apparently the owner is going ahead with it (which is wonderful). He was supposed to be here between 9.30 and 10, but it's 10.39 now. He and the garage door guy have failed to return.

Part of me is worried about all this tradesman action. I don't want to use up all my credit now when I'll certainly need it in the future... or will I? We have obviously moved up a rental bracket, to that wondrous place where wiring isn't illegal and life-endangering (we have a trip switch! No plug points have caught fire! We have had electricity for at least three weeks!) and where plumbing is generally sound, barring the usual hiccups of a house that's over 100 and recently had new pipes installed. No water mains have burst, filling our veggie patches with boiling water. No windows have broken, letting in arctic winds. And the stove works wonderfully. There are no mice (knock on wood), but I have seen one large cockroach in the house. I remembered why I actually wear thongs. After I dealt with it The Squeeze proceeded to sing 'la cocka roacha!, la cocka roacha!' around the house for about five minutes in a Tom Waits voice. It was entertaining, but perhaps too entertaining so close to bed time - it was difficult to sleep with the thought of Tom Waits serenading me in a Mexican cantina.

So I'm wondering if we're tempting fate with all this tradesmen action.

This hasn't stopped me asking if it's ok to dig up the garden and plant zillions of herbs. Ordinarily I'd just do it, but the landlord seems pretty house-proud, so the rules are different. Our back neighbour (who lives in the back part of this federation home) is a chef, so he's also quite keen on a herb garden/veggie patch. He is now My Friend, partly because I am still in post-move aggressive friendliness mode and will not allow otherwise. He is also the owner of aforementioned friendly white cat (Alby).

Alby is convinced he actually lives in our part of the house as well, and follows me around all day. He divides his time between sleeping in front of the front door in the sun, trying to climb into my laundry basket, romancing me with quite lovely accapella and playing in Rivers of Effluent. I am mightily allergic to cats, so there's no physical contact, a lot of "No! Don't go in there! Get out of there!" This has, of course, made me both the most interesting and the most appealing part of our neighbourhood.
The other day Alby was joined by Fluffy Tailed Black Cat from round the corner, and they both proceeded to play in the mulch and attempt domestic incursions. Alby failed (I think he's a bit dumb - he's very pretty, being white with pale blue eyes and a pink nose - but he's not so smart. He's also quite young), but FTBC had a little more luck. I was making the bed when a pair of large black ears was followed by a goofy black face over the other side of the bed. As I picked him up (physical contact! Aaaargh!) he let out a sort of 'mrprrft' purr-burp and kept up the chainsaw action as I clamped him under the armpits and hefted him outside.
I have also seen a giant orange and white tom with a mangled up face. Both Alby and I gave him a deal of distance as he marked out the new trees as his territory. We were both willing to concede him sovereignty.

On other fronts, I am working at Gleebooks doing functions (thanks Glen!). I like it a LOT. I was too late for sessional teaching this semester, but have lined up some contacts for next year. I have already DJed one set here in Sydney and am set for a blues set this Sunday. It seems there aren't too many DJs here, which is a shame. But I'm really enjoying dancing, so I'm not sure I'm ready to DJ a whole lot. I will set limits.

Last weekend we went to Canberra for Canberrang, the Canberra lindy exchange. I bought a Tshirt and DJed one set. We stayed with an old school friend of mine and only attended two night's worth. I think I prefer shorter events - Fri, Sat, Sun nights max. Any more is kind of too much. We went on the bus and it wasn't too bad. It was also very cheap. On the way back it snowed and snowed and snowed and snowed. It was like Europe. With eucalypts and kangaroos. We had a good time, over all.

We have quite a few friends here in Sydney, and have already had interstate visitors. Next week we get more. And the next week The Squeeze's matriarch arrives, so we will get our tourist on, big time. Which I'm looking forward to. I feel like the OPERA HOUSE is out there doing fun things without me every day. Then we have people coming up for SLX in September. Then my mother in October (perhaps). Then we're down in November for MLX. Then it's christmas, which we may spend in Melbourne, but we aren't sure. So it's all systems go. Sydney is apparently one of those cities people really like to visit. Partly because it rocks - there's just so much to do. And also because the weather is nice. Which is where it pwns Melbourne.

I like Sydney, but I am a bit sad that there are so few fabric shops. I have seen two in Marrickville, and I have been given the sweet lowdown by a dress making Hollywood lindy hopper, and will get on into the city (Haymarket) to find more. Then there's Cabramatta, but that's miles away. At any rate, none are a short bike ride away, so it seems I will have to find new hobbies. Or rediscover old ones. I have also found a yoga studio quite near by, but it is some sort of arty made up bullshit yoga, and not straight out iyengar. I need to get on that ASAP as I miss yoga already. Also, I haven't ridden my bike once. This means that I'm getting more exercise, but I am missing my bike. Poor blacky, stuck in the shed all day, bored and lonely. The Squeeze has been riding to work in the city and comes home with stories about having his arse kicked by the hills and making friends with other bike riders. This city is disturbingly friendly. Everyone seems so delighted that we've left Melbourne for Sydney - there're lots of "How do you like it?"s and chats with strangers about cake. There are fewer conversations about the weather, but I suppose that's because it's so nice here there's really nothing to say beyond "pwoar - another freakin' beautiful day, hey?"

Alright, that's enough blathering. I have to go.... well, not do anything, really, but I might as well think about doing something other than making internet. You know the rules: get out of bed, change out of your pajamas (or pa-yamas! if you're Tom Waits a la cantina), leave the internet alone after a couple of hours. It is, unsurprisingly, a beautiful day, and there're fabric shops to stalk.

"round up" was posted in the category bikes and djing and domesticity and greenies and lindy hop and other dances and old sew and sew and sydney and yoga

August 6, 2008

i made a good post

Posted by dogpossum on August 6, 2008 8:33 PM | Comments (0)

but the computer eated it.

How do I feel about gearupgirl? Not too happy. Cycling should be so easy we don't a special 'get girls into it' site. But cycling in Sydney is scary. I haven't done it yet, but The Squeeze is doing it after dinner.

"i made a good post" was posted in the category bikes

January 18, 2008

steel is real

Posted by dogpossum on January 18, 2008 12:57 PM

(Originally uploaded by fixedgear on flickr).

One gear nerds are everywhere. But this is the first time I'd seen one getting all recreationist with it.
These are neat pics.

"steel is real" was posted in the category bikes

January 15, 2008


Posted by dogpossum on January 15, 2008 1:01 PM

Read this article.
The bit that kind of blows my mind is this:

Transperth's cycling integration manager Jim Krynen said a car park survey found 60% of motorists drove less than two kilometres to their preferred station. And 40% had driven less than 800 metres to the station.*

That kind of blows my brain. I walk about a kilometer (maybe 1.20km?) to the station and it takes me 20 minutes. That's a nice, short walk to get the blood flowing. Certainly not taxing or warranting a change of clothes. To think of driving 800 metres... holy moley. There are, of course, extenuating circumstances - infirmity, kids, etc. But, really, if you're able bodied and the weather's fine, why would you drive? I enjoy that type of quick, purposeful walk, and couldn't think of anything nicer than sharing with someone, so why would you choose to drive?

You know how I feel about bikes on trains. I'm for it. I'm totally for it. The 'ban' is kind of shitful (though you don't get fined, so it's not a massive deterrent), and of course I feel there should simply be more trains running to accommodate the crush (yes, yes, I know that's it's more complicated than that, but please. We're talking ideal world, here). I still don't really understand why more people don't ride bikes or walk, and why there aren't better bike lanes. I mean, it's just plain fun! And I'm a currently scarily unfit, ordinary person who doesn't ride a supermachine bike, isn't a super bike rider and doesn't ride terribly quickly...

I know people who drive down from the 'wick to Melbourne Uni. That kind of makes my brain explode. It's a 15-20 minute bike ride from my place. You could walk it in an hour. It's all bike paths, all the way, and it's a nice walk - down a lovely tree-lined avenue for the most part. Or you could cut through the parks and go down the lovely bike path through the park. It'd be a frustrating drive and it would take you at least as long (if not longer) to drive - the traffic is poo down Sydney Road in peak hour. I mean, I'd ride every day, and catch the odd tram when the weather was bad, and I'm not a hardcore rider. I'd do it just because it's such a nice thing to do...

Look, I'm still trying to get my brain round that not walking 800 metres thing. It's just such a short distance. Maybe 2 minutes drive. Only about 15 to 20 minutes walk (20 slow minutes at that). Easy, even in work clothes. And if you have someone to walk with and talk to... Or if you live in a suburb like the 'wick, where there are plenty of people to say hello to, lots of interesting things to stare at as you walk long...
I mean, I'm constantly looking for new ways to squeeze a bit more incidental exercise into my life - I choose not to ride to the station because I need the extra 15 minutes walk (it's about 5 minutes, max to ride).

Golly. It's mind boggling.

Oh, remind me to post the number of steps I took at MLX. Crinks and I wore pedometers one night of the exchange. I wore mine from 9.30 til 6am on the night I was running an event (not dancing) and racked up a phenomenal number of steps. The stupid pedometers got all confused by dancing, especially with nice, fat lindy hopping bounce, so we had to discard that data. Next year we'll get it together and wear our pedders every night.

*I wonder how they got these results? Let's just assume they're 'accurate'.

"egads!" was posted in the category bikes

October 18, 2007

bikers ho!

Posted by dogpossum on October 18, 2007 12:12 PM

Another thing to love about Berkeley: bikers ho!" was posted in the category bikes

January 24, 2007

what do you think?

Posted by dogpossum on January 24, 2007 9:07 PM

Read this and tell me what you think.

I think:
- when I go visit friends in unwalkable cities (like Canberra, or my ps in Hobart, who live in Rose Bay across the river from Hobart proper) I do less walking and don't like it.
- when we baby sit friends' cars I automatically drive more and bike less.
- I ride my bike everywhere and seldom walk. This is a more efficient mode of transport, which means I actually get less exercise.
- you have to drive everywhere when you live in the outer suburbs - things are further away and the traffic moves faster on the emptier streets so it's scarier to ride your bike.
- there are no interesting alleys in the suburbs.
- there are 'nature strips' (isn't that a funny term?) in the suburbs, and none in the city. I don't understand why.

"what do you think?" was posted in the category bikes

December 24, 2006

after a few minor stacks and unpleasant jabs in the arse...

Posted by dogpossum on December 24, 2006 8:33 PM

Today we actually did something other than watch telly, shop or eat.

I woke up really sore and achey from sitting on the couch, watching telly and eating (and sleeping in a terrible bed), and decided we needed to go for a proper walk to work our muscles. After a bit of discussion, The Squeeze decided we would walk over the Derwent Bridge. 100304936_e91c951d03.jpg At first he declared that we would walk to the bridge (about a kilometer and a half, or maybe two kilometers), then over it and on to the cenotaph. But we eventually decided to drive so that we could get a bit further than the cenotaph - into Salamanca as well.

We drove to the bottom of the bridge on our side (which is the east side), and carefully planned to walk up the left side of the bridge. The Squeeze estimated a couple of hours there and back, but we actually made it across the bridge in only twenty minutes (it's only one and a half kilometers wide, though it looks far bigger). Ten minutes up I realised neither of us had brought a camera, but that was ok. I also realised that neither of us has hats, nor had I worn a shirt with sleeves (and I'm still recovering from an inadvertant roasting I gave myself last week riding to the city in a singlet). So I put on a jumper to cover my shoulders.

The bridge, though it looks quite steep, doesn't feel it when you're walking. But the footpath is actually quite narrow, so we had to press ourselves against the railing to let the occasional cyclist past (we saw about four in our twenty minute ride). The Squeeze and I spent most of the walk discussing whether we could ride over the bridge to work every day (yes from The Squeeze, who rides 10k to work every day and is currently made of iron, and maybe from me who is very competitive and hates being left out, but is more aluminum (foil) than iron these days), ogling the amazing view up and down the Derwent (it really is the most beautiful river valley - Hobart is the most beautiful city in Australia, I think, though Sydney's harbour does trump it), pointing at jelly fish and shouting. I discovered that no one can hear you on the busy bridge, and that a good bit of shouted singing when combined with endorphines makes you feel really nice.

Twenty minutes later, we negotiate the underpass and start the hike into town to the cenotaph. This took us about twenty, twenty five minutes (it was only another kilometer and a half), but was a bit sunny and bright. There's a bike path (called the intercity bike path because it links all the 'cities' on that side of the river - Hobart, Glenorchy, etc - separate city councils) which runs along the river below the main road which is kind of interesting. Well, not really, but we did see a seagull ... If you call the place where rooks roost a rookery, would you call the place where seagulls roost a gullery? A gallery? ahahahahah. Anyway, they roost all along the train line there (which had resulted in a number of fatalities), and we saw many teeny fluffy seagull chicks. And were scared by a few aggressive seagull parents.

When we reached the cenotaph we decided (after a little negotiation, and some pleading on my part) to hire bikes and ride into Salamanca, and perhaps on to Jackman and McRoss in Battery Point. We did begin with a tandem, but decided (after a few minor stacks and unpleasant jabs in the arse) to go, for the sake of our relationship and my groin, with two normal bikes instead. The Squeeze was disappointed, but it all turned out for the best.
We rode on into Salamanca (I had a lovely time on the bouncy, wide-tired suspensioned mountain bike - no worrying about popping tires or slipping on gravel here! But much leaping on and off curbs and other serious Stunt Work), and I discovered that riding uphill (egads - Battery Point!) on that bike with slightly soft tires after a week on my arse was a bit of a challenge. But we had nice pies and then nice cakes (and a frightening bill) and then rode back downhill (woo-hoo!) into Salamanca.
I have to say, there's nothing more wonderful than riding around a newly-emptied Christmas Eve Salamanca on a bouncy stunt bike. We zipped around and through traffic (they're afraid of bikes here - and we found the Hobartians far tamer and less frightening than the Brunswick drivers), zoomed through the docks looking for the seal again (no luck) and then back to the cenotaph to return our bikes. About another three or four kilometers round trip.

And then back across the bridge through a bit of light rain, into the car and back up to Rose Bay.
Where we said hello to the ps, then went downstairs, took off an item of clothing or two, lay down and fell asleep immediately. Three hours later we awoke, consumed another lovely salmon dinner and embarked on the second round of mince tarts and a spot of tree decoration (we always do the tree christmas eve in our family). The father declared that we would watch all of the Star Trek films in celebration of the birth of our lord and saviour, and the tree decoration has consequently been interrupted by moments spent admiring William Shatner's divine brilliance.

I have quite a few more photos to blog, but I'm being told to come and fiddle with ornaments.

"after a few minor stacks and unpleasant jabs in the arse..." was posted in the category bikes and tasmania

November 13, 2006

like you could catch my hawt arse

Posted by dogpossum on November 13, 2006 6:35 PM

There's a bit of response to the recent scary mysoginy (look, I can't spell it, alright? I've tried twice and now I'm giving up) here and here and elsewhere.

I can't help but think of Helen Garner's First Stone. Didn't we have this argument ages ago?

I really can't be bothered thinking about this - women do not provoke their own rapes by wearing a particular combination of clothing. As someone (somewhere in one of those links) said, rapists are responsible for the rapes they commit. There is no other convincing argument.
I'd like to add that rape is not just about sex, it's also (and far more importantly) about violence. And violence is complicated. Especially when it's rape.

I think about the things that I wear when I'm riding my bike. Sometimes I wear a low-necked dress (because I'm off to dancing or something else hot and sweaty - where I'll attempt to flaunt my oiled breasts* [tee hee] but most probably end up flaunting my pink and sweaty face and (undoubtedly hawt) puffing and panting in pathetic unfitness).

When you lean over the handlebars on a proper road bike, if you're wearing a low-necked blouse, your boobs jump out. Now, I know that the thing at the fore of my mind as I navigate Sydney Road in peak hour is 'where can I score some hawt sex?' or perhaps 'surely that attractive gentleman in the van there would relieve me of this unbearable desire a-burning in my loins?'**
I'm not sure what I'm provoking when I'm riding my bike like this, but I'd like to think I'm provoking people to random acts of exercise - hey that looks like fun! Maybe I can score a hawt chick if I ride a bike!
Yeah right, babe - like you could catch my hawt arse!

* courtesy of balcony
** it's more likely to be saddle-jab a-burning my loins, provoked by an incorrectly adjusted bike seat or perhaps by a lazy core leading to slump-forwardness

"like you could catch my hawt arse" was posted in the category bikes

October 22, 2006

animal encounters

Posted by dogpossum on October 22, 2006 7:31 PM

Last night riding home from die Spiegeltent (where I am currently doing a few DJing gigs - Nov 4th and 18th and Dec 2nd if you want to catch up - it's a glorious venue, there's a cheesy dance class (which every one loves - especially the kids) and there are cheesy performances (which you can't help but enjoy) and cheesy jokes (and I don't care if it's only me who adores them) and some fricking AWESOME DJed music - all for $10. Though it's $10 for a beer(!!!!) )

... yeah, so on the ride home, we saw ten cats. I kid you not - ten cats. I usually see three (often the same ones, though not always), but last night we saw four ordinary cats and then six feral cats down near the railway line. I don't know who thinks feeding feral cats is a good idea: if you do, you're ON CRACK. The Squeeze got off his bike and tried to chase one to give it a squeeze. He stopped when I warned him that he'd have to sleep in the shed if he caught one.

I don't much care for cats. I certainly don't like to see them out on the street, looking for things to kill.

We have also seen a lovely small corgi tied up outside our local shops a couple of times lately. Last time it was outside the Safeway, yesterday it was outside Nino and Joes. I think I'm in love. I suggested The Squeeze squash it into his backpack and then make a quick getaway, but the owner overheard and didn't look too impressed.
That is one fine corgi - it is gentle and sweet and has lovely fur and huge ears. Unfortunately, generations of inbreeding have left it with stunted feet.

Tomorrow is dentist appointment #3. The second one wasn't so bad (just two small fillings), but tomorrow is the follow up on the surprise root canal. I am a bit scared, as it seems that side of my jaw is more sensitive than the other. I have promised myself another trip to the cinema (we went to see Children of God tonight at the Nova) and I think I'll let myself see anything I want, even if it's Little Miss Sunshine which The Squeeze wants to see as well. Either that or that dullish biodoco* about that architect bloke. I like films about buildings. Really, I'd prefer a chick flick, but they're all out of them at the cinema. And I doubt they'd have it at the Kino, which is across the road from the dentist. Nor the Nova, which is my second choice.
So I guess I'll just have to settle for some insane spontaneous CD purchasing instead.

*Sounds like something I'd buy at Nino and Joe's, huh? Nope. But I did buy a lovely rolled turky roast this weekend. I love turkey, and this was some great action. Stuffed with something sweet with nuts (shh, don't tell The Squeeze - he hates nuts but didn't realise). Took two bloody hours to cook, but man, was that some tasty giant fowl.

Note to self: turkeys aren't big on the swimming.

"animal encounters" was posted in the category bikes and brunswick and djing and fillums

October 18, 2006

we don't see so much lawn round here. concrete? yes. lawn? no.

Posted by dogpossum on October 18, 2006 6:55 PM

I found this article via B who's attention was caught by the article's argument that walking 1-3 hours a week improved women's breast cancer survival rate by 50%, but more specifically, B was interested in the (less excellent) results of chemotherapy. Go to B's blog and read her discussion there.

But my attention was caught not only by this article (which I traced back to the full academic article), but by the zillions of others which were, essentially, saying nothing more than 'if you get some exercise, you won't die or get sick'. It worries me so much that we have come to the point where we must beg people to walk just 1-3 hours a day so they don't die or get ill. I mean, 1-3 hours, what's that?
- walking half an hour every day. That might mean (as I do), choosing to walk to a further-away bus stop in the morning (let alone the afternoon!)
- saying to your partner "let's walk to the video shop to return this DVD - it's only 15minutes each way" and then doing it, and holding hands while you tell each other about your day
- walking to the park to look at the soccer doods running about. Or to watch the cricketers doing... whatever it is that actually happens in cricket. Manipulating those odds, I guess.
- walking about in a shopping center, aimlessly without buying anything. Or walking up the road to look at the awesome easter lights in the neighbourhood.

I know it sounds insane, but for many people, driving a car means not doing these little things. They drive to the video shop. They drive to the supermarket. They drive to the ice cream shop. They drive everywhere, even if it's only a 10 minute bike ride or a 20 minute walk, just because they have a car. And because they think of walking as something you get in a car to go do in a park. Or are too unfit to find any pleasure in.
I know I'm lucky enough to live in a walk-friendly suburb, but riding my bike around (horrible) Reservoir, I've noticed far fewer pedestrians. Brunswick has a lot of nannas - and you see them wandering around the neighbourhood. In Reservoir, at what would be prime-wandering time? Nothing. I don't know if it's a cultural thing, or because people are busy hiding in their houses, or perhaps a bit frightened of being exposed out there on those huge expanses of lawn*, but really. What are they doing in there?

Since I've stopped having a car (ie, since I moved to Melbourne, six years ago), and since I discovered that having a nice bike encourages you to ride about, I've noticed that the way I think about my neighbourhood, the way I think about getting to places has changed. I found those first few weeks of teaching so tiring because I was just getting on the bus, then getting off - I wasn't doing enough exercise. But since I decided to start the whole 'walk half an hour to the bus rather than 15 minutes' thing, and the 'ride your bike to the train, then train, then ride to the uni and then vice versa on the way home' thing, I've had so much more energy, and I feel so much better.
I'm hardly a super athelete cyclist. I ride very slowly, I'm afraid of hills (though FUCK you should have SEEN ME TODAY!!!! I flew up that Melville Road hill that dips down to the Merri Creek! I was AMAZING!), I don't like to spend more than an hour on the bike at any one time (actually, half an hour's about where I draw the line these days), I have no interest in developing any training routine or any of that bullshit.
I just toodle along on the thing. That is how I get around my neighbourhood - I ride to the shops to do the groceries (and lug the bastards home), I ride to the city to go dancing, or to see a film, or to go to the dentist, I ride to the GP (though riding home + pap smear = not great fun), to the pub, to get ice cream at 10pm on a warm spring night.
And it's enough - think of all those lovely hormones being stimulated (that seems to be the crux of the breast cancer thing - you're more likely to benefit if your breast cancer is hormone respondant; type 2 diabetes is directly related to not getting enough exercise, and insulin is a hormone, as we all know). Not to mention the way it triggers those sweet, sweet endorphines. I might be covered in sweat, with aching legs, a runny nose and coughing up a gut, but dang I feel good when I get to the university in the morning!

So, really, there's no point to this post other than to point out how sad it is that we have to push people to do so little exercise. We're not saying 'join a gym and WORK IT', we're saying 'go have a nice wander round your neighbourhood to steal lemons from the alley one street up' or 'take half an hour to hold hands with someone you love in the outdoors' or 'take that silly argument about which Buffy episode is best to the streets'. When you build that bit of exercise into your life - when you do the extra bit of walking to the tram, or leave the car at home when you go to get ice cream after dinner - you make so great a difference to your health that it would mean living or dying to someone with breast cancer. Imagine that - so little effort for such an amazing effect!

And we haven't even talked environmental benefits yet!

But I cannot over-emphasise how important riding a bike is to my lifestyle. That's how I get to the pub on Saturday. That's how I get to the city to go dancing. That's how I (now - yay!) get to the university (in part). That's how I get to the shops to do my grocery shopping. And I'm not a super athlete - I am a little, round person who gets very pink, sweats a lot and is a bit afraid of large trucks. Imagine if you were a super athlete!

Imagine if we all rode our bikes to work every single day! Or even just to the train station!

... and have I mentioned how wonderful it is to have a shouty conversation while riding a bike home from the cinema? It's the best.

*I live in Brunswick, ok? We don't see so much lawn round here. Concrete? Yes. Lawn? No.

"we don't see so much lawn round here. concrete? yes. lawn? no." was posted in the category bikes and bikes and melbourne

October 16, 2006

round up

Posted by dogpossum on October 16, 2006 9:35 AM

I have about 45 minutes before I have to leave for apppointment #2 with the dentist, and I'm surprisingly unscared. I slept like a baby, weighted down by a million blankets because we've gone from 30-odd degrees during the day to having to wear fleecy pajamas at night in the space of 24 hours. Ah, Melbourne. But if I continue to write about it, I'm sure I'll start getting scared.

I spent a very productive weekend, after a week of incredibly poor teaching on my part. Having the surprise root canal on Monday made for interesting lecturing on Tuesday, what with my numb lips and tongue and post traumatic stress syndrome. Tutoring Wednesday, Thursday and Friday was equally ordinary, though Wednesday was spectacularly bad. Thursday was ok, and by Friday I was back to being tired and an ordinary teacher. A run in with a particularly difficult student did not help (thank you for those public, in-class accusations of incompetency. And enjoy your future marks*).

This week, though, I did ride into the university, using a combination of bike (15minutes on a terrifying road to Northcote station), train (10 minutes in blessed airconditioning), 20minutes riding the terrifying streets of Reservoir (say 'res-ev-or' not 'res-ev-oir') and then a delicious 5 minutes swoop downhill through the uni. I tried riding back that way, but was frightened by the traffic (dang, those suburban types are completely un-bike-aware. And terrifying).
I also tried riding through the university to the next train line over, to Macleod station, which was a very lovely ride. Except for the bit where I got lost about 5 times and had to ask for directions at least 3 times. But even that wasn't so bad - it was a lovely day, I love my bike, and I was having a lovely time in our quite lovely campus (which is very bushy and has lots of wild life, including some bulllying magpies). But I got to zoom down a very very steep hill, through very lovely tree-ey suburban streets (they have GIANT eucalypts out there). And then I caught the train in to the city. It was zone 2, but I dealt with that.
So, riding to work: great fun. But good for sweat-making, which isn't so cool when you forget to bring a change of clothes and have to squash into an overcrowded tutorial room with a bunch of fairly prissy teenagers (unlike dancers, who really don't mind about sweat at all).
It's also a nice option because I've discovered that catching the Macleod line train to Westgarth rocks, because the Westgarth cinema (here is a link to the site, but because it uses frames you'll have to click away til you find the Westgarth, but you can read about it on wikipedia as well) has reopened. Admittedly, now owned by a megacinema group (oh, how I miss the insane amount of independent cinemas in Brisvegas), but still quite stunningly beautiful inside and out. So I will be dropping in there to see fillums quite regularly I think (especially as it's about a 15/20 minute bike ride from our house (about the same on the bus), where you ride along the Merri Creek bike path, which winds along the Merri Creek**. Could there be a more perfect way to spend an afternoon?

On a like note, we saw A Prairie Home Companion last week at the Kino, and we LOVED IT. It's just like the Muppets, but with bluegrass/country music. Same sight gags, though.

MLX6 planning continues, and I finally had a chance to get all caught up and up to date with my responsibilities this weekend (I do long for a whole 2 days in a row where I can just sit about and do nothing, or do things like ride to the Westgarth for a fillum). It is looking scarily huge, with a crazy amount of internationals and interstaters booked in. I hope our venues are big enough.
Brian has continued with another podcast (Fat Lotta Radio, fyi), to which you can subscribe by popping this url: into your itunes or podcast reader. This is the sort of thing that makes MLX so much fun.

...ok, I have to ping ding, chicken wings - got some stuff to do. Think of me at about 11am, will you?

*That was a joke. I have of course handed over this student's marking to course coordinator.
**Which locals think is great, but if you are from one of those lovely cities with lots of stunning parks and greenery (eg the Brisvegas river-side rides), this will look kind of lame. But you know, when you live in concrete-land, you don't sniff at a bit of green.

"round up" was posted in the category bikes and fillums and melbourne and teaching

July 1, 2006

i ain't no retro-chic stooge

Posted by dogpossum on July 1, 2006 2:01 PM

Telling Dave the story of my ride into town earlier that evening:

"So I was burning down Sydney Rd, and I overtook some stooge on a BMX who wasn't wearing a helmet."
"Yeah - I totally scorched him. Then a few metres later I'm slowing down past Royal Park to take off my jumper and he burns past me, spinning his tits off on his little one-speeder. Suddenly, 'BAM!' he busts a crank or something! And he has to pull over because his bike is busted"
"Yeah - that'll teach him to take me on with a little retro-chic on/off BMX."
"Sure - so you're telling me you pushed him to the point of destruction?"
"That's what I'm saying."

"i ain't no retro-chic stooge" was posted in the category bikes

June 20, 2006

literary and cycling inadequacy

Posted by dogpossum on June 20, 2006 11:25 AM

...who would have thought?
I've come across a couple of interesting blogs lately - Hobgoblin and books and bikes (whose name I don't know). I'm especially interested in the last one for that post (which is all I've read so far, but you know, blogging, no rush, no 'finishing' issues).

Both of these are blogs by people who love books and love bikes. In fact, the latter has this tagline:

"Reading, almost as much as breathing, is our essential function." Alberto Manguel
Which makes her alright by me. Because I love books a lot, and I also love bikes (bikes of course being eminently conducive to the breathing Manguel mentions). I also enjoy these blogs (so far - they're just new to me), and I really like their approaches to the life of the mind and the life of the body - being in the body and in the mind.
But they've made me think about a couple of things that I've had going on for a while in the back of my brain.

Having pointed you to some interesting blogs, perhaps I should discuss my own feelings of literary and cycling inadequacy. And perhaps get all defensive about it.

1. I am a slow bike rider. Nor do I ride very far, or enter any races. I am quite happy riding for 30 - 45 minutes on regular commutes every day. I go for the odd pleasure ride (though not often). I do not train, I do not compete (what would be the point when you're as slow/unfit/lacking competitive nature as I am?). I like to sing as I ride (everyone has a bike song - it's just that not all of them make it to the outside of us). I like to stare at stuff as I ride along, swivelling my head like a magpie watching school kids in spring. And I'm quite happy to stop and chat with strangers. I also follow the rules and wear the daggiest safety gear imaginable*.

2. I read, almost exclusively, science fiction and fantasy. I can't remember the last time I read anything else. No, wait, I can - I've read pretty much every Alexander McCall Smith book. But that hardly wins me any literary cred. I only read well-written and well-informed sf. I don't like books which think they're pulling out some new trick but are really trotting out the same old post-apocalyptic axe-weilding tribe shtick, or irritating lone-warrior-with-magic-sword-in-fantastic-realm blabber. I will, however, tolerate these sorts of stories if they're pulling a bit of a variation on a theme. Exercising some sort of self-reflexivity comment-on-genre stunt. So I guess I'm saying that I like sf where the author is not only well-read in the genre themselves, but also clever enough to avoid being too uncritically derivative. I also prefer female authors.

Or are these feelings of inadequacy?

I do actually love this stuff - I really enjoy reading sf. I read a lot of other, far more impenetrable stuff for work. This is fun stuff. I mean, I read all day every day when I'm working. So I like to change gears for fun reading. I really enjoy the way sf takes ordinary people (ie people we can relate to, no matter their physical appearance or abilities) and experiments with extraordinary places and situations. At the end of the day, though, the stuff that keeps me with a book to the very last pages are an excellent grasp of interpersonal and international or intergalactic (or interwhatever) politics and relationships, coupled with a neat plot and great writing.

On the bike front, I am as equally committed to riding for pleasure. I definitely have nothing to prove. And I really, really like the feeling of accomplishment and self-worth I get from achieving my small goals - riding in to dance and then home again each week. Not using public transport or a car unless I have to (thus opting out of environmental and economic stoogesville). Getting out and interacting with the people and places around me rather than getting into a bubble and wafting through the world to wherever I'm going.

I mean, I only have these inadequacy issues when I read about or speak to other people who ride faster/harder/further or reader longer/harder/smarter books than I do. Mostly I'm just happy toodling along on my bike (ain't no race here, thanks), and I simply couldn't imagine not reading at least 2 or 3 hours every day just for fun - that means books that are 'easy' to read (though I do insist on 'well-written', not only to facilitate the ease, but also up the pleasure).

I guess I don't really have anything to say that a bunch of cultural studies doods haven't said already re everday life and everyday (pop) culture, or that a bunch of feminists haven't said re economic and social and physical independence, but still. Inside me, there's still a worry that I'm not clever enough (and reading Serious Books will help that) or fit/fast/strong enough (and riding Seriously will help that). I guess that's nothing new - most of us have these vaguely self-esteem related issues going on whenever we get involved in things and then compare ourselves to others. Maybe that's why I enjoy yoga so much - comparing yourself to others is completely and utterly fruitless, let alone a deviation from the whole point of the thing.

*I do so love being in my 30s. I couldn't give a sweet good goddamn any more about stuff that seemed to saturate my 20s: I stare as much as I can at everyone and everything that catches my interest, I couldn't care less about whether or not people find me attractive (sexually or otherwise), I've completely lost interest in popular fashion - mainstream or otherwise (and it's interesting that making my own clothes prompted this - once you stop pounding away on the consumption-of-goods train, it seems you're a little free-er of consumption-of-other-ideologies thing as well).
It just feels so good. Except for when I'm reminded of this stuff by other people who are caring about whether they have the coolest clothes or are hanging with the coolest people or whether people are staring at them.**

...though I guess you could say that I've substituted a whole other bunch of anxieties, right?

**it's probably me staring at them. Unashamedly. And if we make eye contact, I will smile and probably say hello.

"literary and cycling inadequacy" was posted in the category bikes and books

June 9, 2006

yes, i was on drugs

Posted by dogpossum on June 9, 2006 12:39 PM

I'm not sure if you all know this, but I ride to the city every Thursday night. I pack my lappy up in my crumpler backpack (red of course), slip on my lovely day-glo cycling jacket and pedal into town, somewhere between 6 and 8, depending on whether I'm DJing, and which shift I'm doing. In summer, this is one sweet trip. In winter... well, it's dark, it's cold, you can see the pollution (which is disturbing) and I have to wear gloves. I usually have to stop just as I get to Royal Parade so I can take off a layer.
But I like it. I can sing really loudly on the way home (at around midnight), I like the way the fog makes everything kind of soft and quiet. I see lots of interesting things (usually roadworks, but last night it was a pile of vomit halfway between the pub and the colleges at the university, but then a bat flew past at helmet height, so it was ok). And I'm safer than I am when I catch the tram (I hate waiting at the fairly-isolated stop in the city).

So it's all good. Even though I'm usually pretty tired and sweaty after dancing for hours. But so long as I don't let my heart rate drop too low between dancing and riding home, I'm ok.

Last night, as I rode home at about 11.30 (earlier than usual), dodging vomit and bats, trying not to wipe too much snot on my gloves and singing loudly (something about banana splits I think. I blame Louis Prima and a momentary lapse of judgement while DJing), I thought 'this is great. I'm lucky. I love my bike.' When I got home, though, I'd stiffened up in the cold and post-yoga, post-dancing aftermath and could barely get off my bike to open the garage. Then I could barely get the keys into the lock because my fingers were so cold. It was 6degrees, but it gets colder with windchill on the bike. When I got into the shower it felt like I was scalding myself with luke-warm water, I was so cold. But only on my cheeks, ears, the front of my thighs, my forearms and my shins.

But I was still cheery - all that dancing and pedalling and wind chill had exorcised my grumpiness of the earlier evening - and the endorphines. Well, yes. I guess I was on drugs, albeit natural ones.

"yes, i was on drugs" was posted in the category bikes

May 19, 2006

perhaps the most useless site ever...

Posted by dogpossum on May 19, 2006 4:47 PM

cyclovia will be on the 28th of May in the 'wick. Now, I already consider Sydney Road my own private cyclovia, but it seems the pedders are getting into the action on that day.
the deal: I know, it only tells you what a stupid cyclovia is below the crease, but still. Just cause you can ride a bike, don't mean you got basic internet skills. ha!
basically, they close the road off to cars for 6 hours between Moreland and Brunswick Rds. Sounds like Sydney Rd Festival without the stalls (although.... if I know Brunswick, there'll be stalls galore). Also sounds a bit like a bit PR stunt for the local MPs. The cyclovia thing does have international precedents, though, and I should perhaps be more positive about this.

Anyhoo, sounds good if you live nearby. But I'm interested in the local residents' responses...

"perhaps the most useless site ever..." was posted in the category bikes

May 6, 2006

no capes!

Posted by dogpossum on May 6, 2006 4:21 PM

Riding in to town the other day I passed a goth chick in full ensemble who reminded me why the no capes rule for superheroes is as applicable for cyclists. Floor length velvet or no.

"no capes!" was posted in the category bikes

March 22, 2006


Posted by dogpossum on March 22, 2006 10:03 AM

I know, I know, I've not been around much any more. But I can't help it! I've been editing like a crazy editing fool, and then I move from the computer to the bike to ride off to yoga or into the city or wherever the fuck I want to go - because I can ride my bike as fast as the wind, certainly faster than Commonwealth Games stalled traffic. And it's much easier for me to get onto my bike than it is for a cranky commuter to get onto a tram these days as well (PT users city-wide are 'amused' by the little notes at the tram stop: avoid using trams during peak periods. Nice one - two thumbs).

Though I am worried about the disappearing bike lanes. Melbournians will be familiar with the Games Lanes marked in blue on on CBD streets. Not so many will have noticed the way several key bike lanes (a few-block section on Swanston Street, all of Queensberry Street) have completely disappeared. I'm paranoid - really worried - that they won't come back after the games have finished. But this hasn't stopped me speeding into town or off to Brunswick Street or to the cinema. 20 minutes to town (official time down 10minutes on previous personal best). Still 20 minutes to Carlton, but surely that's a timing error? Yoga, however, is down to 10 minutes.
I am truly In Love with Blacky. Though its first service seems in order... how could we bare to be parted?

On other fronts, I've DJed no less than four times in the past three weeks. It seems there's a bit of a DJ drought in Melbourne atm. My skills have necessarily taken a serious up-turn and I'm sure the groupies are moments away. They are no doubt waiting for a tram somewhere on Swanston Street.

"speed" was posted in the category bikes and lindy hop and other dances and thesis

January 3, 2006

every girl needs a bike

Posted by dogpossum on January 3, 2006 1:50 PM

Galaxy has been reading Life of Pi. I'm reading Judas Unchained by Peter F. Hamilton. It's monstrously huge, and full of complicated politics which I'm having trouble remembering from Pandora's Star. Oh well. I have some issues with his gender politics at times, but I do love the galaxy-spanning intrigue...

oh wait... back to the other thing I was writing about...
So, Galaxy's reading Life of Pi:

I didn’t agree with Pi’s stance on agnosticism:
It is not atheists who get stuck in my craw, but agnostics. Doubt is useful for a while. We must all pass through the garden of Gesthamane. If Christ played with doubt, so must we. ... But we must move on. To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.

Perhaps the ... quote explains why I walk; and I suppose that public transport could sometimes be described as immobile. I wouldn’t, however, characterise doubt as static. I think doubt is the opposite of stasis. Doubt is a state of never arriving; surely it’s resting after the arrival at an imagined certainty that produces inactivity?

I'm agreeing with these points - the bit about pt as immobile and resting in/with/after certainty as producing inactivity.

... although, on the latter point, I'd probably like to note that certainty can be galvanising. I'm never more productive than when I've arrived at a plan and am set to work on it. And sometimes, doubt can be paralysing: maybe it's selfdoubt that the paralysing force, though? There's nothing more likely to make me hesitate than a crisis of selfdoubt or indecision. Do, don't, do, don't: I'm far more likely to do if I haven't paused to panic over a particular thought, over and over again in that sort of heart-pounding anxiety that makes you worry you're going to gag on your own pulse.

Ok, but back to the pt point. But I'm going to wander off, on a tangent, really, rather than addressing the serious question in Galaxy's post, or seeking out Pi to test the source.

I'm not so much a walker as a bike rider, and I know the greatest appeal for bike riding is the independence. I know when I'll get somewhere, and how, and I get no end of satisfaction from being fit enough and physically coordinated enough to get from one place to another in the inner city without getting killed or dying of exhaustion. For me, getting myself about - being master of my own mobility - is exhilarating and energising. It's independence as empowerment, and the empowerment of knowing exactly what you're physically capable of. The same sort of thrill I get from doing something difficult at yoga (usually upside down and involving ropes), the sort of thrill I get from a stream of useful and clever thought (sigh - I need that now, mid-chapter), the sort of thrill that is the greatest motivating and mobilising force I know.

There is no greater inertia than that being satisified that you couldn't do something, or that you don't care that you don't know whether you could do something or not.

Sitting on a tram, at the mercy of traffic and power outages and rampaging ticket collectors, there's no way to prove that I could opt out of various physical and economic limitations. I know there are folks who feel that fare evasion is tactical resistance and all, but - personally - I think it's far more exhilarating to zip past a halted tram on the downhill slope of Swanston Street, feeling like I'm going a million miles an hour, muscles quivering in that really working way, riding my endorphines and not prefacing every journey in terms of conflict or resistance. In this way simply choosing another way to get around is exciting and stimulating, but also productive and valuable.

For me, to ride my bike (or to walk, though riding is more exciting - more endorphines, greater speed, the thrill of mechanical skill and mastery, etc etc etc) is to choose to find out what I am physically capable of. I've always thought that girls wearing skirts for their school uniform functioned as a limitation on their physical (and social?) activity. In choosing to ride my bike, I also choose to sacrifice impractical fashion for pragmatic trousers or shorts, sensible necklines, resilient hairstyles, tough and comfortable shoes, limited jewellry and so on.
And not having to concern myself with challenges to my modesty that a skirt on a bike offer, or the ridiculousness of heeled shoes on pedals frees me to enjoy the experience, to take satisfaction in my independence, to take pride in my abilities, and to seek out further physical challenges. To see just what I am capable of in my body, and on my own terms.

I wonder, though, if physical ability is really another way of talking about physical control as a way of gaining social control - of the self, in the case of women? I know that eating disorders are read by many therapists as a means by which young men and women gain control of their lives, symbolically. Exercise, likewise.
I think the key point there, however, is when choosing physical control becomes and obession and ultimately adversely affects further rights to choose and to be independent: damaging health to the point of illness or death; damaging a social or cultural life to the point of isolation and loneliness.

I don't doubt that my riding a bike is a manifestation of my feminist sensitivities. Every girl needs a bike?

"every girl needs a bike" was posted in the category bikes

December 19, 2005

really fast

Posted by dogpossum on December 19, 2005 1:53 PM

I'm full of surprises. Oh yes, I'm whiley. Full of whiles.
Yesterday we found The Complete Decca Studio Recordings or Louis Armstrong and the All Stars. And I love it. All 6 discs of it. I know I may seem like I'm 100% old skool swinging big band jazz, but I'm not. I also like groovy, slinky crap from the 1950s. And just you wait - once I'm through with Satch I'm getting into the Nat King Cole set the Squeeze got a while ago. And I will totally go all ballad on yo ass.


woah. That was some scary shit. Guess who's been reading far too many witty american 'professional' blogs? Me, me, me, me mememememememe!
Yes, home alone, a chocolate brownie disseminating sugary goodness into my stimulant-susceptible me.

Today was my second day out of the house! No, wait, third:

Day 1: into the city, saw King Kong (it fucking rraaaaaawwwwwwwked! yeah! 10 out of 10 kongs! yeah!), bought some presents, got tired. Ate Nandos for lunch. Don't ask me why. Oh, go on then. It's because of the salad. They're about the only place near the Hoyts at Melbourne Central that sells nice salad. And I'm all about salad at the moment. Salad and meat. I think I'm blaming yoga.

Day 2: rode bike to shop for lunch things. Bought two outside chairs ($10 each) that fit into a bag I could sling over my shoulder. So I did. I slung them both over my shoulder and rode home with all my shopping. And got rained on. And got seriously snotty and shitty, discovering I probably wasn't up to that much slinging and riding. Later, after fit of pique (or perhaps just a case of the shitty pants) and a lie down, I went back to the shops with the Squeeze for more groceries. Bought attractive parrot-shaped arnotts biscuit tin. Would post photo but amn't that nerdy a blogger yet (but just you wait - nothing has contributed so much the collation of useless detritus in public discourse as flickr. And I'm all about contributing).

Day 3: rode bike to bike shop to test drive and possibly purchase new bike. A little tired and tres snotty, I waited while imbecilic shop boy failed to find bike I'd asked be made up for me to test drive (and purchase) last week, and also rung to confirm again later that week. No luck. Another fit of pique, or perhaps just another case of the shitty pants, and I flounce out (as much as one can when blowing one's nose in a full hanky and dodging children in the grip of a new-bike-for-Christmas frenzy).
More presents purchased.
And a lovely trip to bike shop #2 later, and I'm cheering. While Strange Man did try to sell me a $725 bike when I had already made it clear that $600 was my limit with what I felt was as suitably unambiguous a statement as was necessary (given the circumstances): "I'm poor, so I can only afford to spend $600," I left him with the request that he make up a street bike for me to rest drive (and possibly purchase) on Wednesday.
Yes, yes, I do realise that hauling all my shopping around on a delicate (yet so pleasingly light and speedy) road bike will probably bust a spoke or ten, and produce multiple punctures, but fuck. I want it. And I want it light. And we're not trading in old Greeny, so I can keep old Greeny for shopping.

What is wrong with these bike shop fuckers? I'm so totally buying a new bike. But I'm so not going to buy one without a test drive. I know it's goddamn Christmas rush for bikes, but fuck. I'm a local, a serious biker, and I'm absolutely going to be back for services, add-ons and all that repeat-service shit. So SERVE me!
Anyhoo, I have hopes for the guy at bike shop #2, despite The Squeeze's declaration that he's weird (as well as The Squeeze's subsequent refusal to shop there, despite its proximity and superior work, superior to bike shop #3 anyways). I mean, geez, Strange Man recognised the value of old Greeny (despite his refusal to take a malvern star in trade for some slick new young gun bike), declaring Greeny a 'workhorse', while also noting that my new young gun bike will be my bike for really riding fast.
I like it that the man appreciated the value of old Greeny (workhorse = the best way to win this horsey-girl's heart), as well as also pandering to my (obviously) somewhat misplaced faith in my own declaration that I am a Serious Bike Person, as well as to the thought that I may at some point ride really fast.*
So I'm so going back to bike shop #2 on Wednesday to test drive (and possibly buy) the new young gun bike.

And FUCK I'm going to ride home fast. Really fast.

*I know that I will. Once I'm on my young gun bike. Old Greeny is, as has been mentioned, a workhorse. New young gun will be more of a thoroughbred, and consequently far more appropriate for riding fast. Or even really fast.

"really fast" was posted in the category bikes

June 2, 2004

blow you off your bike windy

Posted by dogpossum on June 2, 2004 3:54 PM

it is 11 degrees here. day before yesterday it was 10, but 'felt like 6' according to that was cold. and i had to go out in it. it's so cold because it's crazy windy here. really really windy. like, blow you off your bike windy. despite this, and lungs full of goob, i struggled up to sydney road to pay the rent, buy some veggies so we don't get scurvy and spend some restorative time in spotlight (having discovered i'm too fat for my emergency wedding dress... wearing-to-wedding dress, that is).

but i'm still cold. it's cold. cold. cold. cold. 11 isn't so low, but it's rainy and windy and very overcast. very drab. but soon i wil be getting some summer (piss-poor british summer, but still, summer).

i really need to get some exercise... oh god, now i really am the queen of dullness. i blame it on my illness. i don't have the energy (intellectual, physical or emotional) to be witty or scintillating. all i can talk about is the weather, work and sewing. not even dancing any more...

bah, humbug.

"blow you off your bike windy" was posted in the category bikes

April 14, 2004

Princess Shittypants

Posted by dogpossum on April 14, 2004 1:44 AM

Tonight The Squeeze and I had a fight on the way home from the cinema. So I had to get all Princess Shittypants. I had to.

I’d ridden in to meet him at the Nova to see ‘Love’s Brother’ (which was rubbish by the way. Utter B-grade Aussie flick rubbish. Skip it), and we were having a great time laughing and teasing each other like irritating school kids in the cinema.
So we see this crappy film, which is ok-ish, but still crappy. And we’re loading up our bikes outside the cinema, and I decide that I don’t want to ride home with him.

Every time we ride anywhere together one of us a) gets hurt, b) gets the shits or c) pushes themselves too hard and gets really sore knees. Usually it’s me. Mostly because he's far better at being stalwart, and is generally infuriatingly even-tempered. I, however, am not.

I get shitty because he rides faster than I do. I ride really slowly (it’s stamina, I’m sure; I’m saving myself) and I really enjoy looking at things and talking while I ride. The Squeeze rides really fast and likes to make his heart pound so hard he thinks he’ll bust an artery.

So when we ride together, he has to ride really slowly. He either rides ahead and gradually picks up the pace so I start to puff and strain and get really shitty and yell at him; rides around and around me in figure eights til I get really shitty and yell at him; or hugs my tail real close, hiding in my wind shadow (no, durh, that’s not a euphemism for flatulence) and making me feel rushed, so I get really shitty and yell at him.

One of the first times we ever rode anywhere together, he was riding the Pub Bike and was still riding his motorbike, so he was a bit confused, balance-wise. Or so he said. One day we were riding home from the city and he’d had a bad stack just a few minutes ago, ripped his big pants and hurt himself. In fact, that whole ride he’d either ridden into things or fallen off his bike. Crossing the train tracks I hear this ‘scrunchy skrrunch, crash!’ and he’s ridden off the bike path and onto the tracks. Then I hear this ‘rumbley CLANG’ and he’s ridden into the metal fence around the track crossing. Later, there’s a ‘skreee boomph’ and he’s ridden into the warehouse on one side of the bike path.
At any rate, at the end of this big long Ride of Accidents, we’re on the home stretch, riding down the road, just about to turn left into my street. I’m riding straight. He decides to turn left. Into me. Much clashing of bicycles and we’re both down on the ground, gravel rash all over us, me all teary and my bike basket bent, him even more injured than before. I was so angry I wanted to blow him up. But I rode him in frosty silence, telling him he should have ‘BEEN MORE CAREFUL!’ in a crazy-girl voice before going off for a restorative hot shower. Later, I’m over it and I can’t figure out what he thought he was doing. Seemed he was turning into ‘my’ street one turn too early. I don’t know why he decided that if he just turned, I’d turn too. Some crazy swing lead bullshit mentality I guess. Strong body lead. That’ll fix her. His explanation was that he was just riding the Pub Bike like he’d ride his motorbike. Yeah. Right.*

Ok, so with this in mind, I’m not really all that keen to ruin a perfectly good movie date with a dangerous bike ride and a case of the Princess Shittypants. I say ‘why don’t you ride ahead so we don’t fight?’ He gives me a cranky face and says ‘no’. I explain my reasoning, and as I do, I get a case of the major guilts. This is a Shitty Thing to ask. I am a Shitty Girlfriend. I keep asking. He keeps saying no. I ride off. He tails me. I’m feeling so guilty my only recourse is, of course, a fierce case of the shittypants. In between moments of silence where we pass other cyclists or pedders, I explain my reasoning. I want to avoid a fight.

And then he plays the ultimate Guilt Card - ‘soon we won’t be doing anything together’.

I know that’s it, there’s nowhere we can go from here. there’s no topping this guilt card. But of course, Princess Shittypants can’t back out gracefully. Can’t apologise. No sir-ee-Bob.
So I don’t.
I take the only possible option: The Sulk.
And I sulk all the way home.

And it’s a damn shame, as it’s the perfect cycling night - warm, dry, a gentle breeze that’s always a tailwind. It's far too crap to waste with a Sulk. I try not to notice that he’s patiently tailing me home at just the right distance.
And then we get home and he makes a delicious dinner and I know that I am a shitty girlfriend. And even WORSE, he shakes off his case of the minor shits in moments of returning home, gives me a friendly pat and a squeeze as he potters off to the kitchen.

Goddamn it.

It is SO goddamn HARD to maintain righteous fury with this sort of counter-activity.

*It’s worth mentioning that a week or so after this major stack, he crashes his motorbike on the highway outside of Ballarat. Hit a kangaroo no, meatloafed a kangaroo, smangled up his hands, worried all his Primary Females half to death and was laid up for a couple of weeks. Just goes to show. Better a minor stack on a tredly than a smangle on a motorbike.

"Princess Shittypants" was posted in the category bikes


About dogpossum

i live in melbourne sydney, australia, like jazz music and dance, swear too much, sew, drink a lot of tea and adore puns. ask me about my phd.