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Tue, 30 Nov 2004

Bad movie variations - 11:32
Both of these spotted on Meta Filter today. A page titled Variations, the designer said they made these images up for fun, definitely interesting to see the differing design elements and such contained within.

My sister will probably love this site, Bad Movies containing as you can guess, reviews, with video and sound bytes and pictures of apocryphal movies. The complete list of reviewed movies is also there.

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Mon, 29 Nov 2004

'Tis the season to decorate a bike. - 20:53

full size
Last year for the Tuesday morning lap of Cotter/Uriarra immediately before Christmas, I applied tinsel and disco balls to my road bike as pictured to the left. It is not a wonder no one felt safe riding near me that day when you consider the front wheel decorations. I wonder what I should do to the bikes this year.

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Fri, 26 Nov 2004

World city photos and plush toys - 19:42
A resource that could be rather cool/useful, World City Photo Archive collects photos of cities all over the world, have a look, kind of cool.

On the scary plush toys front, one can find plush toast or stranger yet plush toy tampons, both items and others on the site have eyes. I am sure all children want a plush toy tampon with eyes staring back at them...

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2004 Triple Triathlon - 11:32
The Triple Triathlon is held every year in Canberra, the event consists of three off road triathlons back to back spread all over Canberra. Starting at 06:00am for teams or 05:30am for soloists in Lake Ginnenderra in Belconnen and finishing around 8h30m later for the fastest teams and 15 or so hours later for the slower competitors. Arguably far more challenging mentally and physically than an iron man triathlon (more transitions, mountain biking and mountain running, etc) for the solo entrant, summiting 10 of the higher trig points around Canberra and on the whole a fantastic day out.

I enjoy doing all three bike legs in a team, in 2002 I did three bike legs in a team of 6 (thus in the team of 9 mixed category), last year I was in a team of three men. This year I again competed in a team of three, our team did pretty well, and had a fun day out there, finishing in 10h11m we were reasonably fast too. I have uploaded a report with photos from the day of our team and other competitors. Lots of fun for everyone involved, even the solo competitors out there for over 10 hours enjoy the race.

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Thu, 25 Nov 2004

The theory of N+1 - 18:22
No this is not a computing or computer science entry, this is about bikes, though computer geeks will probably understand the need, however they focus more on the latest shiny computer hardware and toys.

Cyclists understand the lust for new gear of the cycling type. The N+1 theory is based on this. At any given time the number of bikes you wish to own is N+1 where N is the number of bikes you currently own. Using myself as an example I own three bikes, one dual suspension mountain bike, one alloy hardtail (I specifically say alloy hardtail as I prefer steel as a frame material, however I bent my steel hardtail in a crash in January and due to good steel mtb frames being hard to find I have not replaced it yet) and a steel road bike (the one on the left upon which I am leaning).

Any member of the non cycling public will probably think three is far more than needed, any cyclist will understand why I obviously need many more than three. What I would like to do is get another good hardtail (ti) or (steel) frame, use that as my second mtb. Then build the black aluminium frame into a bastardised road bike (26" mtb wheels with thin slicks, drop bars, v-brakes, triple chainring with a 50 tooth big ring). The biggest problem is that the bastardised road bike would have an alloy frame, but hey it would still be useful, for long rides on unsurfaced roads in the middle of nowhere. (for which Richard has recently purchased a Surly Crosscheck frame built up as a touring bike. (making us all jealous)), so this bastardised road bike would be good to ride on road rides regularly as it is tougher and stops faster, though for long rides on bitumen or when I need to go fast, on the road, my road bike may still be preferable.

Of course there are other bikes I would like and use, such as a singlespeed (though by preference, put together from parts with an old steel frame picked up second hand), a longer travel more downhill style duallie so I can ride off things or down things without worrying so much about breaking the bike (though with a bike like that maybe I should worry about breaking myself more). This is of course just a few thoughts, being an avid cyclist I am sure I can think up more bikes I would want to own. Mal Bennett (owner of the Maladjusted bike shop in Canberra) for example has around 12 to 15 bikes at any given time, I suspect the only reason he owns a bike shop is to make his bike habit cheaper. Strangely all the new models of good bikes that come in, they come in in Mal's size first. Ahhh toys.

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Wed, 24 Nov 2004

Some random title - 19:35
Scanned from yesterday's "The Canberra Times", I found this amusing.

Seeing as it is my birthday today maybe I should not be at work until after 8pm, writing up my triple tri report and finishing some changes to code that imports data daily before the import tomorrow morning. I would implement the change a different way by choice but for now Bob requested it this way.

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Tue, 23 Nov 2004

Break at 10,000 - 18:08
The cycle computer on my mountain bike (Cateye Enduro 8) that I swap between the two mountain bikes recently clicked over 10,000 KM. My KM count is a bit down from he previous 10,000 as I bought this computer around July 2003, it did not pass 10,000 until november this year. I am obviously doing too much road riding, my road bike computer passed my mtb computer for the first time ever recently.

Anyway my previous mtb computer reset to zero KM when you hit 10,000 KM, which IMO is a stupid feature as I don't want to have my odometer read 0 every year or so. That computer also didn't handle wet weather too well so I bought the Enduro 8 as in theory it was tougher and more suited to mountain biking, it also had dual trip distance which is useful in navigation events where you pay attention to the distance to or from turns and other features on the map.

During the Triple Tri on Sunday I found I was unable to switch modes, the main button on the computer had failed. It appears mtb computers just don't like going past 10,000 on my bikes. The manufacturer has been kind enough to warranty this computer so I should receive a new one in a few days.

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Don't let these people navigate - 17:41
Some people started a Fools World Map, based on the queries such as a Texan asking "How many hours does it take to drive to Japan by car?" or those people who wonder if they can walk to Perth from Sydney (well sure they "can").

[/amusing] link

Failure just outside warranty. - 13:14
The 17" LCD monitor (pdf) on my desk at home didn't work last night, nothing happened when I clicked the on switch. The panel had a 3 year warranty, note the past tense, purchase date was 2001-11-15, 8 days after the warranty expired the monitor stops working. Work purchased this panel fairly early on in our move to LCD everywhere, lets just hope all the LCD's at work do not fail so perfectly just out of warranty <g>.

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Mon, 22 Nov 2004

More instructions - 21:51
In the vein of those oh so important product warning labels (eg, on a packet of nuts "warning: contains nuts"). Tonight I had a dinner at Tilleys with some of my friends, celebrating my impending birthday. Rebecca and Ben gave me a coffee grinder (very cool, now I have to decide if I want to keep it at home or work). The instructions with the grinder include the helpful suggestion "3. The coffee mill cannot be switched on until the cover has been places.". This brings to mind the travelling gnomes, you may not use your coffee grinder before the cover has been on a world tour.

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Grow a beard or exercise, or something. - 18:06
The World Beard and Moustache Championships will be held in Berlin next year, also you can buy a documentary dvd from the last world championships in 2003.

So not everyone does as much exercise as I do, it makes me happy to see people realise how positive it can be though.

Heh, Shrub just cant get it right.

Ok so I may be posting stuff just to keep the November diary entry count up there, but I was amused by all of the above, or pleased, or whatever. I also notice I need to add more categories here, I am writing entries in the various category a lot.

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Sat, 20 Nov 2004

Tricks of the trade - 21:58
Matthew Baldwin in his blog defective yeti (that is a cool domain name) mentioned an article he wrote about "Tricks of the trade". The opening spiel is "For every occupation, there is a catalog of secrets only its employees are aware of -- such as how waiters with heavy platters know to look straight ahead, and never down." (apparently this article was big in the world of blogs when it appeared so you may have seen it already).

This is kind of cool, such as

Patients will occasionally pretend to be unconscious. A surefire way to find them out is to pick up their hand, hold it above their face, and let go. If they smack themselves, they're most likely unconscious; if not, they're faking.

I wonder how many people tested this out on their heavy sleeping partners?

Or a particularly sneaky one that requires knowledge of the trick and some skill

Piano Salesman
If you see a potential customer eyeing a piano, estimate their age and calculate what year it was when they were 18 years old. Play a big hit from that year on the piano they're looking at. With a lot of preparation and a little luck, you might play the exact song they were listening to when they lost their virginity, got married, or drove their first car. The emotional resonance will overcome sales resistance and even open their wallets to a more expensive piano.

Baldwin started a website collecting more of the tricks and adding new tricks daily. Of course as these may be based on urban legend or inaccurate information they should be taken with a grain of salt such as this tip for models and the accompanying link Baldwin put there pointing out the fallacy.

Time now for bed as I have to leave the house around 5:30am tomorrow in order to get to the start of the triple triathlon in which I am competing (mentioned previously).

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Living in a purple world - 14:26
Anil Dash, in his blog, responding to a suggestion that purple replacing red is bad, comments "it makes me think how much cooler life could be if we'd just recolor everything purple.". I agree wholeheartedly, purple is cool, however not many people who know me would be particularly surprised about my stance.

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Fri, 19 Nov 2004

What to do with a domain? - 16:56
In an attempt to segue towards the title, I should talk about nicknames. As far as I recall I have never collected a large number of nicknames, to some extent this is due to my name. My mother chose my name "Steven" deliberately, as a teacher she had seen a lot of carrying on by students making fun of names. To some extent my name was chosen as one that was difficult to make nicknames of. The two nicknames I can think of that I have acquired and have sort of stuck are "Bender", and "Deve, or Devo".

Bender is kind of new, it is related to mtb riding, In January this year I had a crash on my mtb and in the crash as well as writing off another helmet and acquiring some impressive scars (heck women dig scars don't they?) I bent my steel mtb frame beyond easy repair. From this point onward many of my mtb riding friends have called me Bender. I have lived up to this to some extent, on one of my mountain bikes I now have a bendy bender figure (the Futurama character).

My older nickname of Deve, Devo or Stevo the Devo has obvious origins, simply put it is one of the few nicknames that obviously rhymes or works with my name. My cousin Jackson, some of his friends and some of my cycling friends from around 1994 or 1995 were in the habit of using this nickname often. To some extent it may also amuse them due to the fact I probably do not display many deviant sort of behavioural quirks often.

Anyway the reason I bothered explaining all of this was for a while I wondered about getting the domain "" simply so I could send email to my cousin using the address "". Eventually I thought what the heck, domains are USD $8 per year I may as well grab it. Now as the proud owner of I have absolutely no idea what else to do with another domain. Sure I can send Jackson some email, but I am sure the novelty will wear off after approximately 1 email. As it is I don't really use that much, in so far as I do everything I need or want to with it and have no time or inclination to do some big web site development or anything. So anyone have suggestions as to what I could do with the domain apart from leaving it as blank as it currently is?

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Thu, 18 Nov 2004

Bug fix in cache_timestamps - 13:33
The cache_timestamps module I wrote (and mentioned earlier) had a bug, when you removed diary entries or moved them around it kept the reference to the old location in the cache and displayed it (with no content in the entry). This has been fixed. New version is available

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Jump the shark - 12:16
A BoingBoing post today, discussing the rather ill advised addition of more advertising in the face of viewers by TiVo, used the term Jump the Shark. Strangely I had only heard of this term about two weeks ago when in a phone conversation with my sister she told me about it and that she and her friends were using it a lot in their tv viewing.

I googled for the term and found much to my surprise it has seen quite wide spread dispersion into Internet and even non Internet modern culture. Much to my surprise "Jump the Shark" has been in use for quite a long period.

Coined by Jon Hein at the University of Michigan back in the '80s, it refers to the moment when something -- particularly a TV series -- peaks and begins to go downhill into self-parody and decay. It originally referred to the "Happy Days" episode in which Fonzie literally tried to jump a shark in a daredevil water-skiing stunt.

It is easy to see this applied to many TV shows, however as the BoingBoing entry has done, it is now used outside fandom. Yet another secret inside joke that members of the correct Internet vernacular club will understand and be amused by.

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Teenage hookups, empowering women or not? - 09:26
Danah had a link to an NY Times article in a blog entry back in June. The article discusses a phenomenon of teenagers engaging in initimate encounters among friend ship groups or from Internet meetings outside of a relationship style framework. There are a lot of themes in this article that could be discussed along various lines. Danah, in her blog entry wonders, if the women taking the initiative in these encounters with protection and such will further empower them in their life choices, also the experience of these encounters may give people a more balanced opinion of marriage, more as a contract between two people than some hormone induced fantasy of love.

The comments by Danah and others on this entry fortunately go a bit deeper. The article implies the women really do not get as much out of this phenomenon as the guys, it does appear somewhat unbalanced from reading the article. Personally I did not even realise this sort of behaviour had arisen, it is interesting to read that a similar behavioural pattern was emerging in the USA before world war 2. There are obvious advantages, experimentation in emerging sexuality without emotional entanglement (thus being able to keep those things separate in your mind) and thus enabling more informed clearer minded evaluation of relationships and sexual behaviour as you grow older. However I can not get past how unbalanced the hookups seem to be in favour of the guys, it does not seem fair, of course some commentators pointed out that this is still in a male centric/focused society so it may indeed be an advancement viewed in certain contexts.

The article ends with a discussion of first base, etc which when you think about it brings a whole new and quite disturbing interpretation of the saying All your base are belong to us (AYB at Wikipedia)

Oh and on the subject of making blog posts from unusual places I am writing this while sitting in my GP's office awaiting an unexpected consultation after going in to find out what my HBA1C is after my last blood tests.

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Wed, 17 Nov 2004

Almost live - 11:10
Our calendar suggests lca registrations will open soon. I had not seen much traffic on the list from the crew on this, so I checked to ensure we were close to schedule. The good news is the CommSecure merchant banking stuff has been arranged by LA and the crew working on the changes we need for the rego system will have something for us to test tomorrow. This means we should be able to start taking registrations at the end of the month.

[/lca] link

Tue, 16 Nov 2004

Check in with your family - 23:13
Sitting on the couch at my mother's place after dinner (the food from the Blue Elephant was good), mum and Jane watching some tv, I am reading stuff online.

A few days ago I realised a blog I stumbled across about two weeks previously belongs to Danah of the Ani Difranco Lyrics web site. Damn does this person rock. In my view this is one of the most useful resources online, simply because all my Ani albums are at home, if I want to read some Ani lyrics and I am not at home this site solves the problem. True to most people this may not be such an important feature of a website, but hey all of those who know me know I tend to be somewhat a fan of Ani's work. (and if you do not know me I am surprised you are even reading this <g>)

I am impressed to learn that Danah has been keeping an online diary or blog for 7 years, that is an eternity in the "blogsphere" (yeah I don't like that term), possibly even longer than Alan Cox (in Welsh now days so read the English translation if you find the Welsh challenging) has been maintaining his. Danah suggests in one entry that we should check in with our families from time to time, so I looked up from the laptop, waved, noticed they were discussing Australian Idol (it was on Rove at the time) so I checked out immediately.

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From what weird places do you blog? - 18:57
Sitting in my car in Braddon currently, listening to Ani, waiting for a take away food order. My sister is in town for a week (due in part to finishing her honours and in part to my birthday next week), staying at my mother's place, they invited me over for dinner. This is a change from being at work until around 8pm. Probably a good thing too <g>

I ordered Indian at the Blue Elephant restaurant in Braddon, I admit that though I enjoy Indian, I do not know of any really good Indian restaurants in Canberra, I hope this will be a positive dining experience, anyone have other suggestions in case it isn't? Heck I know more good places to eat in Sydney and I didn't even like living in Sydney.

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Genealogy of ideas - 10:53
Another article by Malcolm Gladwell, this discussing the origins of ideas and where to draw the line between simple obvious ideas anyone could have and ideas that are copyright-able due to complexity or combination.

In reality the article is mostly about a case of a playwright using quotes from an older Gladwell article and not acknowledging the source publicly. However it does present some interesting viewpoints. Everyone when thinking of new stuff builds on prior knowledge, this is why we have libraries and why we read and learn in the first place.

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Mon, 15 Nov 2004

'Twas indeed a mud fest. - 18:26
As I Suspected may be the case, the 2004 Gravity 12 hour race was a mud fest. I put a few words and a whole lot of photos online.

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Fri, 12 Nov 2004

TV Nation and perceptions of charisma - 12:22
Paul Graham has two new essays up since the last one I commented on. The most recent of of these essays points out, since the introduction of widespread television around 1960, every presidential election in the US has been won by the candidate perceived to be the most charismatic, irrelevant of politics. As Paul noticed this can to some extent be attributed to the fact that taking policies and other such things into account the two parties are incredibly similar, so charisma may as well be used as a differentiator in the minds of the voters as anything else.

There may be something in this theory, perception of charisma by the voting public, encouraged by TV. Michael Moore suggested in his book Dude, Where's My Country? that Oprah would make a good presidential candidate. Some polls appear to support this notion strongly. Interestingly I also note two recent popular TV or Movie presidents, Jed Bartlett in The West Wing played by Martin Sheen and Andrew Shepherd in The American President played by Michael Douglas both fit the charismatic persona well and have proven popular with the US viewing public.

I wonder, does the Democratic party simply need to find their own presidential version of Robin Williams?

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Thu, 11 Nov 2004

I missed Pratchett - 09:08
Damn, I learned late last night while reading Planet SLUG that Terry Pratchett is in Australia on a Signing Tour and was on Campus at ANU for about 3 hours yesterday. I work a few hundred meters from where he was doing appearances and signing books and such and missed out. I really wish the uni had given us notice about this somehow. I still plan to buy the new book, I simply missed out on the chance to meet the author, alas.

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Wed, 10 Nov 2004

Print me a cpu - 14:26
Maybe the title of this post is not entirely accurate, however arstechnica has an article about Epson using inkjet technology to print thin multi layer circuit boards. So sure you can not exactly print out a modern computer cpu, and as the article points out, the boards printed this way are fragile so hobbyists would have difficulty mounting them and attaching components. Still a cool application of technology and it definitely has uses.

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Bad food and bible belt hypocrisy - 12:37

Some schools have good cafeteria food

A times article about a secondary school in France in which the cafeteria food is cooked by a top flight chef sounds good. Apparently the chef who has previously worked in some of France's more prestigious restaurants decided he preferred working in the school environment and so far has been quite successful in convincing students to eat real food rather than MacDonald's or similar.

Why wouldn't we all be somewhat jealous of the students, cheap good food at school. At the university I work the university union provided food is easily defined by two parameters. 1. Usually low quality/unappetising and 2. Expensive. There are fortunately exceptions, such as the Purple Pickle, though it is not a union supported cafe. The University union in theory can operate their eateries cheaper due to lower rent and other overheads all of which are provided by the University, they also supposedly should provide cheaper food for the students than they are able to purchase from eateries in the nearby city centre or other nearby shops. Neither of these are true.

Bible belt divorce

Julis Schorzman in his blog brought to my attention the divorce rate statistics from the last US census. He points out a Boston Globe item "that shows the hypocrisy of the Bible Belt lecturing the rest of the country about the sanctity of marriage.", I am not particularly surprised to see this data, Bible belt residents often do not appear to have a good understanding of reality.

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Software patents, branding and broken revenue models - 12:12
Hugh Macleod of Gapingvoid wrote again why Branding is dead, a lot of the points he makes tie in to other problems with big companies in the modern era. How these companies want to hold on to the old way of doing things and don't seem interested in trying new ways of making money that would be less offensive to their customers throughout the world. The problem for these companies is that they lose out in the end trying to hang on to dying revenue models. One point in particular caught my attention, "4. "Branding" is backwards looking. It's all about capturing past associations. It's never about what the business could become, but protecting what came before." as this is at the centre of how companies seem to want to do all their business. Patents (notably software patents) are another similar backward looking mechanism that is broken in the current application of them. More of the points on branding being dead and are provided by Cory at boingboing, and though I have not read it this wired article on the subject is recommended.

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Tue, 09 Nov 2004

Was the US Election a Halo movie? - 15:24
Anyone reading the online coverage of the recent US election or reading blogs discussing it is likely to have seen the large US maps with red or blue states.

Irrelevant of the outcome or any issues associated to how messed up the US voting and election system is one amusing thought has just occurred to me.

The red vs blue videos available online and in other places are a a different take on "red vs blue". These videos are recordings of the game Halo with commentary added by the creators of the videos. Many people find the videos amusing, I wonder in what way we can attribute these qualities to the recent US election with all the talk of "red vs blue".

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Mon, 08 Nov 2004

We have the domain back - 12:08
Woohoo. Ready for the conference in April we now have the conference domain delegated to us once more. As Pia would say. Rock on

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Fri, 05 Nov 2004

This could be a mud fest - 11:51
I am about to drive down to the Beechworth/Yackandandah/Myrtleford area of Victoria for the 2004 Gravity 12 Hour mtb race. I previously mentioned I was competing in this event, I also competed last year. The weather last year was hot and I dehydrated, it appears that may not be a problem this year. It is raining in Canberra right now, and also raining in the Victorian alpine regions around the race site. Oh well I am sure I will have fun irrelevant of how the weather turns out.

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Thu, 04 Nov 2004

Small delay in some programme data - 22:42
One outcome of the meeting tonight was we will have a delay of around 2 weeks after opening registrations before we put CFP related program data onto the lca website. Currently we are on track to open conference registrations on or around November 16 still. However we probably will not put the speakers online until the end of the month.

A press release with conference registration opening and our list of invited speakers may be a god thing soon, simply to get the word out there about the conference a bit more. There is one group of people running a conference in Australia soon claiming to be running the first "Open Source Developer's Conference", personally my view is they are smaller and focused differently to lca. However some lca crew members and various other people expressed some concern about claims along the lines of "first", considering CALU was held in Melbourne in 1999 they may have a point.

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Wed, 03 Nov 2004

Frodo shaves like a man - 18:16
A bunch of pictures on somethingawful based around the premise of literal movie titles where the title of the movie is based on the promotional poster. My favourites would have to be "Frodo shaves like a man", "Oh shit my car is on fire", "HELP we are being napalmed by x-wings", "Cough". Who am I kidding a like a whole bunch of them. Unlike lots of other content on this site these are not even particularly offensive.

The article I linked to today and yesterday authored by Malcolm Gladwell is from an archive of articles by this author I intended to read. I found a link to his archive of articles a few weeks ago and many of them promised to be interesting. The reason I correlated the article, author and archive link in my head is I read another article by Gladwell, this on perception of trauma in modern society by individuals.

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10 things the Chinese do better - 16:29
I have not been to China, so do not know how accurate this is, also the list is in relation to Canada, however it seems to apply to any Western society reasonably. I found a link to this list of 10 things the Chinese do far better than western society. Interesting to think about the points raised. However one should keep in mind many of the things done far worse (Human Rights, Public freedom of thought and voice, etc)

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Safety, computer security and mountain bike skills - 12:49
Yesterday I pointed out an article about car safety and perception referencing SUV buyers. This deserves more comment as it ties in to general perception of safety and security in society, and in computer security, also there are aspects that relate to mountain bike riding. Of course my noticing the relations to my areas of interest is not coincidental, using the butterfly principle anyone may be able to tie this article to their personal interests.

In relation to safety and security in general and in the computer world, the quote "what has happened to the automobile world: feeling safe has become more important than actually being safe." applies far more widely today than simply in the car industry. Bruce Schneier has often spoken on how the perception of good security is far more important today than actually being secure and that the two goals are too often disparate.

(small cars) ... are safe because they make their drivers feel unsafe. S.U.V.s are unsafe because they make their drivers feel safe. That feeling of safety isn't the solution; it's the problem.
There are many more quotes in this article that tie in well to the safety in society in general angle, I suggest reading the article.

As for a mountain bike tie in, the article brings up issues about good control of a car making you safer which can definitely be tied into riding and mountain biking.

Safety, for most automotive consumers, has to do with the notion that they aren't in complete control," Popiel says. "There are unexpected events that at any moment in time can come out and impact them--an oil patch up ahead, an eighteen-wheeler turning over, something falling down. People feel that the elements of the world out of their control are the ones that are going to cause them distress."

Of course, those things really aren't outside a driver's control: an alert driver, in the right kind of vehicle, can navigate the oil patch, avoid the truck, and swerve around the thing that's falling down.

In mountain bike riding the more familiar with the bike, the trail and with riding and bike handling in general the less likely you are to crash or have problems of a similar nature and the more able you are to navigate the unknown.

Learned helplessness and the legal practice of (attempting) to sue someone else for bad things that happen to you is prevalent in modern society. (such as lack of accepting personal responsibility)

We live in an age, after all, that is strangely fixated on the idea of helplessness: we're fascinated by hurricanes and terrorist acts and epidemics like sars--situations in which we feel powerless to affect our own destiny. In fact, the risks posed to life and limb by forces outside our control are dwarfed by the factors we can control. Our fixation with helplessness distorts our perceptions of risk.
this is what people worry about when they worry about safety--not risks, however commonplace, involving their own behaviour but risks, however rare, involving some unexpected event.
Injuries happen when riding a mountain bike, in reality you are participating in a high risk sport, when involved in an accident it may simply be bad luck, or attempting something you do not have sufficient skill to ride. If you hurt yourself, too bad. Land managers are worried about letting people ride on their land, especially if there are challenging/technical obstacles available on the land. If someone injures themselves riding on the obstacles, the land managers are fearful of being sued by an injured rider unable to take personal responsibility that it was their choice to attempt the obstacle.
Our fixation with helplessness distorts our perceptions of risk. "When you feel safe, you can be passive," Rapaille says of the fundamental appeal of the S.U.V. "Safe means I can sleep. I can give up control. I can relax. I can take off my shoes. I can listen to music."

For years, we've all made fun of the middle-aged man who suddenly trades in his sedate family sedan for a shiny red sports car. That's called a midlife crisis. But at least it involves some degree of engagement with the act of driving. The man who gives up his sedate family sedan for an S.U.V. is saying something far more troubling--that he finds the demands of the road to be overwhelming.

I can not imagine how anyone could feel relaxed driving a car. I have commented on this previously, I find driving mentally draining and not an enjoyable activity. I am after all in control of a 1 or 2 tonne chunk of metal moving at non trivial speeds. If I am relaxed about this scenario I would wonder if I should really be allowed to drive.

If people going through their mid life crisis are likely to become safer road users, or even take up mountain biking, more power to them and bring on the mid life crisis.

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Tue, 02 Nov 2004

Car executives amazed that anyone would buy a SUV - 21:05
In Dan's Data letter column #129 there was a link to this article.

About how the SUV is so popular and incredibly unsafe to drive, yet people's perceptions say otherwise and thus they sell well, strange and scary yet kind of amusing.

According to Bradsher, internal industry market research concluded that S.U.V.s tend to be bought by people who are insecure, vain, self-centered, and self-absorbed, who are frequently nervous about their marriages, and who lack confidence in their driving skills.
That you can look down is psychologically a very powerful notion. And what was the key element of safety when you were a child? It was that your mother fed you, and there was warm liquid. That's why cupholders are absolutely crucial for safety. If there is a car that has no cupholder, it is not safe. If I can put my coffee there, if I can have my food, if everything is round, if it's soft, and if I'm high, then I feel safe.

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24 Hour Report photos and update. - 10:22
I updated my 24 Hour race ride report with some photos and some stuff about mechanicals near the bottom of the report.

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Mon, 01 Nov 2004

Fitz Epic 2004 - 15:51
As previously mentioned, yesterday I participated in the 2004 Fitz Epic (a Pedal Power event), longer and more difficult than the well established Annual Fitz Challenge.

With daylight saving changing between the 30th and 31st I was effectively waking up at body clock time of 3am (4am in new daylight saving adjusted time) in order to get to Tharwa by 5am for preparation and ride briefing and a 6am start. I gave Terry a lift out and we arrived by 5am, seemingly half an hour earlier than we really needed to as no one else was there yet and the ride officials were only just setting up.

We registered at about 5:50am, then while getting my bike out of the car I could not find my helmet and realised to my horror I had left it hanging on the handle bars of one of my mountain bikes in my shed at home. Every one else started the epic at 6am, at the time I was driving home to get my helmet. Finally back in Tharwa in time to start riding by 6:50am I got going. With a 50 minute deficit and likely to be riding alone (thus unable to draft others in the pack) I was pretty sure I would be unable to catch any of my friends.

I settled in to the ride with the goal of finishing before the 18:30 cut off time (which would be a little bit more difficult to do now, due to the late start and not riding in a pack). Mikey had mentioned the climb of Fitz was about 3.2 KM, this is longer than Black Mountain (2.8KM) and steeper (notably it is also consistently up hill with no places to rest, unlike the road climb of Black Mountain) so I decided to time myself on the climb, I tend to do Black Mountain at a comfortable sort of pace in around 12 minutes. By the summit of Fitz the climb had taken me 15 minutes, which I think was pretty reasonable.

I finally saw the front riders coming the other way just as I passed the turn off to Ororral valley, I was still heading to Rendevouz creek at the time and they were on the way back about to turn up to Ororral. As I passed the campsite near Glendale crossing Mikey, Terry, Allan, Neil and Chris passed in the other direction, this was the bunch I would have ridden with all day if I had started with them.

I reached the Rendevouz creek check point at around 08:15am which was pretty good time for the 30 KM out to that point (mostly up hill). I had some insulin, a muesli bar and a baked potato and headed back down toward Ororral. The lead riders on the Fitz Challenge appeared on their way to Rendevouz creek shortly after I started the descent to Glendale crossing. On the way to the Ororral turn off I saw a lot of people I knew who were riding in the Challenge (Sue Kleven, Cath Toet, Jim Trail, Kate Roper, Andrew Thomas, etc). Early on the climb up to Ororral Mikey and co passed in the other direction again, it appeared I had gained about 10 minutes and was only around 40 minutes behind now. This gap stayed pretty much constant for the rest of the day after this.

When I arrived at Ororral I caught up to another Epic rider and left before he did, I was most pleased to have passed someone finally. Then I passed a couple riding the Epic together just before turning back onto the main road from the Ororral road. Once on the road with the rest of the Fitz riders I was surrounded by many other riders for the first time that day, unfortunately they were a this point all a bit slower than me, the riders of similar speed to me would have already passed on their way back down to Tharwa at this point. So I chatted to people as I passed them, after the descent down Fitz hill there was the pleasantly fast section along to the Apollo road turn off to take me up to Honey Suckle Creek. I had predicted this would be the toughest climb of the day, largely due to the fact it is the toughest bitumen climb in the ACT. I was not dissapointed, I was able to ride all the way up, though I did stop for a minute or two an chat to two guys, one of whom was pulling the plug there and returning to Tharwa, the other who intended to finish this climb and pull out upon his return to Tharwa. Mikey and crew passed at speed descending just after I crossed the gate into Namadgi (the national park).

The marshals at the top of Honey Suckle asked me if I wanted sun cream, which was good as I had forgotten to apply any at the previous two checkpoints and didn't feel like stopping to put any of the cream I was carrying on. I had some more food and turned around for the incredibly long descent back down Apollo road. Once I got back on the road to Tharwa no one else was around, so all the Challenge riders had already passed by then, I battled the head wind back to Tharwa by myself. I stopped at Tharwa for a while for food, sports drink, toilet, dumping gear I wouldn't need from my backpack. As I rode out I saw Allan there, he had pulled out of the Epic with bad back pain. Ben Crabb was also there having finished the 90KM ride (Tharwa Challenge). I got moving again and headed on out towards Cotter. There was a headwind all the way through the Tidbinbilla valley and I slowly started to pass one or two Challenge riders, and waved at all the people I knew on the return leg of the Challenge. I saw the lead riders in the Epic turn Corin road as I passed there.

As I arrived at Cotter I spotted Mikey and crew at the food/water refill point at Cotter, so I stopped and chatted, I was now only the climb of Mt McDonald behind them, however due to my slow speed at this point that was still 40 minutes back. I rode up Mt McDonald, got to the checkpoint, grabbed food and water, turned around and finally found the joy of the tail wind. This wind assist made the ascent back to the top of Mt McDonald fast and easy. Refilled with sports drink at Cotter and headed up Pierces, this was bound to be a tough climb, 1KM all constant, steep uphill. Possibly harder (though much shorter) than the Corin climb was going to be later. I made it up all the way, standing up to climb it all, and headed on towards Corin.

When I got to Corin I thought to myself, sure I am in pain and I don't know if I am enjoying myself right now, but I have come this far so I may as well turn right and do the climb up to the summit of Corin. So I did. Neil passed me near the start of the climb, obviously he had tired of riding as slowly as the others and got a jump on them. In that final climb and ride to Tharwa he gained over half an hour on Mikey and crew, who passed me about 25 minutes later half way up the climb. On the final steep section of the climb I did something I have never done before, I walked up a hill with the road bike, The Corin climb is one I can usually do at around 14-16 Kmh all the way up, this time I was reduced to 7-8 Kmh while riding, stopping a few times to stretch and then walking the final section.

Upon reaching the checkpoint I was really suffering and thinking to myself I may pull out once I reach the bottom of the descent rather than riding the remaining distance to Tharwa. I had noticed a problem with clipping in and out of my right pedal for the previous hour or two so stopped at the checkpoint to look at the bottom of my shoe. I found the cleat loose and twisted sideways a bit, fortunately I had not lost either of the screws as had happened in the 24 Hour race three weeks previously. I fixed the cleat angle and tightened both screws, had some more food and got moving.

The final descent of Corin and the discovery that it was only 13 KM not 17 KM to Tharwa from the base of Corin had me feeling better so I decided to finish the ride, and I was still likely to make it in under the time limit. I got to Tharwa at 18:18, 12 minutes before cut off and pretty well under if you consider the 50 minute deficit. Anyway it was a tough day in the saddle, probably good for me in the end, and I admit I did enjoy a lot of the event. Ride time was around 9 hours 20 minutes with 207 KM ridden. This has however strengthened my resolve to get a triple chain ring on the road bike as I really do not like climbing standing up yet I persist in doing these silly long difficult road rides (this and the SLER (Silly Long Easter Ride, 333KM if you can finish it) being prime examples).

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Broken Bits and Bacon - 14:21
Friday sitting in my office I heard a loud noise from my bike, looking at it I found another spoke broken on the back wheel. Fortunately I could still ride the bike as I had the Bacon ride the next morning and was going to be too busy to fix the broken spoke, or the flat tyre on my hard tail before the ride.

Then during the Bacon ride on Saturday morning at on point I was suddenly able to bring the front brake lever all the way into the bars (hydraulic discs) accompanied by a metallic screeching sound. Stopping to look at it I discovered the pad material had come unstuck from the backing plate in one of the pads in the front brake. I had not heard of this happening before, however Peter Gunther (who builds Ethos bikes) was out there at the time and was not so surprised. When I took the bike to Mals this morning the distributor of EBC pads did not seem surprised either, the brakes work again with the warranty replacement pads.

After the Bacon ride Dave Sutton and myself were the only two to continue the grand Bacon tradition of eating Bacon and stuff at a cafe post ride with a visit to the Central Cafe in Queanbeyan. The Central Cafe serves mammoth portions and chips with everything you order (I suspect they serve chips with fruit salad, I have not been game to find out if this suspicion is true yet).

Fun was had.

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