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Thu, 27 Nov 2008

Filling the void somewhat - 19:38
For many years one of the best restaurant's in Canberra was Bernadette's at Ainslie shops. This was a true vegetarian cafe/restaurant. Not simply an imitation meat place like Au Lac or Kingsland, sure I like both of those places, however the food and dining experience is very different to that of a place like Bernadette's or in Melbourne Veggie Bar or Soul Food.

The sad thing is Bernadette's closed a few years ago leaving Canberra with greatly decreased vegetarian dining options. The good news is in the last year two new places have opened that bring back the Cafe experience (breakfasts and lunches), one of those is Satis at Watson shops and the other is My Rainbow Dreams at Dickson shops (between the post office and Hudsons) run and owned by Sri Chimnoy students. I of course am used to Sri Chimnoy from the racing side of things.

Though I like Satis, it does not stand out, maybe because they are not incredibly vegan friendly, who knows, though I like it, I do not feel the need to visit there regularly. Rainbow dreams on the other hand is really good. They always have a variety of yummy sweets (cakes, cookies, chocolates) that are vegan. They have vegan ice cream and can do smoothies and milkshakes. Their scrambled tofu is really tasty and so far every time I have had it I have enjoyed it.

On top of their standard menu they often have a yummy vegan bake of the day, they have a number of different soups and curries and pies available for take home meals. You can also read a bit about Sri Chinmoy there and buy some of the books (plus they have other interesting items to buy unrelated to Sri). Also you can buy ice cream cones from them which should appeal to more than just the Vegetarian crowd, maybe that will help hook them.

I also have had a few good talks with the people working there and am glad to hear they are enjoying doing the vegan cooking and baking, also they are interested in trying new recipes and I will probably exchange recipes with them from time to time. After all more Chai Latte Cupcakes being made anywhere would rock.

Every time I have eaten there (I have tried to get there once a fortnight for a while now) I have enjoyed the food and been greeted by friendly staff. I really would recommend it to anyone, not only vegetarians, they make an effort to show how good really healthy food can taste for anyone. I am happy to see My Rainbow Dreams successfully bringing some really good vegetarian/vegan food back to Canberra.

[/leisure/food] link

Easy Dell HSDPA SIM access - 12:15
So my Dell XPS M1330 came with a built in Dell 5520 WWAN HSDPA card. This shows up on the USB bus and appears to work in Linux using usbserial (with vendor= and product= arguments to modprobe) with ttyUSB0 appearing correctly in /dev.

Originally I had no intention to use it, and the laptop came with it specced for Vodafone usage. Recently however Telstra and Optus have both started offering prepaid wireless broadband. I was wondering how easy it would be to change the SIM to one of those networks. After all lsusb currently outputs

Bus 002 Device 019: ID 413c:8138 Dell Computer Corp. Wireless 5520 Voda I Mobile Broadband (3G HSDPA) Minicard EAP-SIM Port

The book that came with the laptop has good instructions on how to pull it apart and access various parts of the hardware. So I had a glance at the WWAN instructions and was easily able to open it up and look at the device. However when I did this I discovered that the SIM was not attached to the device at all.

At this point I googled more accurately for details about the location of the SIM in Dell laptops with HSDPA devices. It was at this point I discovered an article on the Register that said Dell's are not tied to Vodafone and quite plainly pointed out to me the location of the SIM is in the Battery bay.

And hey presto an easily accessed Vodafone SIM is indeed sitting right there, it should be no problem to put a Telstra or Optus SIM in on a prepaid plan. Telstra appears to have better coverage by far, their USB devices may or may not work with Linux, however I know from experience the Optus USB device does work with Linux. However I do not need either for this laptop, Optus offer a SIM only prepaid kit for AUD $30, Telstra do not mention offering it, however forums suggest you can walk into a Telstra shop and ask for a 3G prepaid kit and request that it be wireless broadband enabled for around AUD $30 also.

The other nice thing I would like to note from this experience is how good the book that came with the laptop from Dell is, that it has good detail about accessing most of the hardware in the laptop is very useful and means you are less likely to break things if you want to look inside.

[/comp/hardware] link

Tue, 25 Nov 2008

30th entertainment - 12:48
So I did the ride up to Goulburn after work again yesterday and rode back this morning. My legs are a bit sore, however they do not feel as bad as last Monday so maybe I am getting some riding form back. The time up was 2h55m including 5 minutes stopped inspecting a tyre and pumping it up (I was worried it was flat, however it had simply gotten low in the week and a half since pumping it up) and on the way back this morning 2h50m. I had a headwind most of the way up last night and this morning really noticed a strong headwind along Lake George, however the rest of the ride felt relatively head wind free.

The subject I guess is in relation to the fact I turned 30 yesterday, a few people were asking if I was doing anything for my 30th, they seemed surprised to hear I was choosing to ride to Goulburn after a day at work.

I am getting more and more tempted to get my Lemond steel road frame fixed and get that road bike running again, the cyclocross bars on my Jake the Snake are not as comfortable on long road rides (small drop, my hands do not fit as well) and I think the steel frame will probably be a little bit nicer anyway on that ride. Also the bars on Jake, being oversized and with cyclocross brakes in the way make fitting a time trial bar hard, I am thinking more and more I would like a time trial bar on the bike for the ride to Goulburn and back. It should allow me to knock a few minutes off without much effort and stay somewhat comfortable doing so once I am used to using it.

The only problem with the above idea is I will look far too much like a triathlete doing that.

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Fri, 21 Nov 2008

Racing? Who's racing its speed wilderness tourism! - 17:12
I mentioned some of my friends doing XPD in Tasmania back in 2006. For some reason I did not make mention here last year of XPD 3 in the Whitsundays that some of my friends were also racing in.

Right now, xpd 4 is on and teams are closing in on the half way point. They started at around 2pm on Wednesday and have been going pretty much non stop since. The weather is pretty cold and wet down in the Victorian alps at the moment and there are blizzards forecast in the higher region the ~ 210 KM bike leg will be passing through.

Danielle, Dave, Randall, Heather, Libby, Chris, Nathan, Bleeksie, Danealle, Keith, Matt, Wayne and Sean all appear to still be out there having a lot of hardship^Wfun. Good to see Tangerine and Blackheart/Salomon are in the top 3 after 2 days of racing.

I have to thank the bio for Jerome from the Securify team for the quote I used in the title of this post. I think it sums up one of the joys of XPD well. Speed Wilderness Tourism is a lot of fun.

[/mtb] link

Tue, 18 Nov 2008

Dinner reading, that got extended - 10:11
For a while now I have been meaning to read the Cory Doctrow book Little Brother, it is not yet available in Australia (being released in January next year) and I was not sure enough I wanted it to get it from Amazon. Fortunately for me Cory has it available for download so you can make your mind up. I decided to open it and read a bit while I ate dinner last night.

I ended up finishing the book (fortunately a light read), I have to say it really is good, highly entertaining, realistic in that you can see how that situation could already happen in the world, and though I am a computer geek and thus aware of the technologies discussed I have to agree that it is well presented and can inform a huge number of people about what they can do with computers (and what is done by authorities) if they just sit down and read the book.

I want to buy a book that is being released on Amazon on November 25, so I am now happy to say I can add a copy of Little Brother to the order when I make it. Sure the book is apparently a Young Adult novel, however as is so often the case (Neil Gaiman's recently released The Graveyard Book for example) a so called youth aimed book may still offer many delights and interesting content to anyone who reads it.

Thanks Cory for a entertaining and informative tale.

[/leisure/books] link

Mon, 17 Nov 2008

That was better - 10:26
Unlike last week when I had many punctures on the highway, this morning I got home with none. I bought a new pump and two new tyres for the road bike last week, the new tyres are Specialized Armadillo's which are rumoured to be the most puncture resistant road tyres available. I did not bother with Kevlar rim strips as they slide around, are hard to put in place and may even cut into tubes.

The other nice thing was I made it home in 2h40m from Goulburn today, which gives me hope that once I get a bit more speed and fitness back on the bike I can reliably do the ride in under 2h30m even with a bit of wind around. (admittedly the conditions were almost perfect this morning, cool, overcast, not much wind). I look forward to seeing how I go on Wednesday.

[/mtb] link

Wed, 12 Nov 2008

Comedy of punctures - 12:24
After work yesterday I again headed out to ride to Goulburn with the plan to ride back early this morning. I was still feeling a bit rough and coughing, I don't think from a cold, I suspect more from just pushing myself pretty hard at the Gravity 12 Hour race, I tend to forget, although it does not feel that hard at the time, doing an enduro event in a team does take its toll on my body. So I felt I was riding a little bit slower than I wanted to, however I was on track to get out there in just under 3 hours. I had to get to a dinner celebration and was cutting it close time wise anyway.

As I passed Collector my saddle bag snapped off again, I stopped to put the bag in my camelback pack and noticed my front tyre had a slow leak and was almost flat. I stopped longer to pump it up again and got back to riding. Around 12 KM later I noticed the front was almost flat again, now I was only 20 KM from Goulburn, however due to the stops and likely needing to stop more for more pumping I was running late for dinner and decided to call and ask to be picked up at the Federal Hwy turn off toward Canberra as I could get there pretty quickly. That arranged and fine I rode on, 2 minutes later my rear tyre got a puncture and went flat instantly. I stopped, changed the tube, extracted the wire that caused the puncture, pumped up and rode on.

I arrived at the place I would be picked up and while waiting changed my front tube as well and started patching the tubes that were flat (I carry two tubes and a patch kit on my road bike). With one tube fixed and starting the second tube I was picked up, threw everything in the car and got to Goulburn. It was only when we got there I realised I had left my pump lying on the verge off the side of the highway. Eep, fortunately I had pumped up both my tyres and fixed one tube. I hoped I would be able to pick up the pump from the verge in the morning, not get a flat in the first 12 KM of riding and make it home.

Getting to sleep fairly late after the rather fun dinner went very late I decided I would have to leave later than planned as only five and a half hours sleep would not help me in riding home. I got on the bike riding back by 7:35am, planning to make it home by 10:30am and to work by 10:45am. When I got to where I left the pump, I did find it, however a truck or something had been a long way onto the verge over night and flattened and shattered the pump. Oh fantastic, well I did not have any flats last week so I could hope I would make it home without any more.

Luck was not with me, within 2 KM my rear tyre went completely flat with another puncture. I was able to make it to a rest area and started asking some people stopped there if it was possible to get a lift to Canberra. I was incredibly lucky that one man there in a ute on the way to a work site in Canberra offered me a ride home. I ended up arriving around 9am and actually got to work at a reasonable sort of time.

I have always known flats are a little more likely on the Federal Highway than other places due to the amount of small stuff coming off cars and trucks that are on the road much more than on smaller roads. This time all three flats were caused by small (1 to 2 cm lengths) bits of steel wire most likely from the steel belting in car and truck tyres. I also knew my back tyre was more vulnerable due to being close to worn out and in need of replacement. Last week I was lucky to do the ride with no flats.

I will replace the back tyre and I think try putting Kevlar belts inside my road tyres under the tread so small bits of wire or glass are less likely to be able to get to the tube and buy a new pump of course. I am in debt and thankful to the person who gave me a lift to Canberra this morning and lucky to have been able to get a lift in such a way. I hope positive Karma goes out to him in some way soon for this generous gesture to me.

Lets hope my next trip remains puncture free.

[/mtb] link

Tue, 11 Nov 2008

My map board - 13:39
Just as an assist so I can google my memory easier, I often need to remember what brand my map board is, rather than have to search through email or similar from when I purchased it a few years ago I should just have a link here telling me I have a Windchill Map Board. I really like these boards (I have two in the garage at home) as they sit a bit higher than Miry and also the screws to attach them are not so fiddly and short (so I am not afraid of them coming out and being lost to such an extent). They are a little heavy, however they are well constructed and have good support. I had to get one of them fixed in 2007 and the replacement part was cheap and sent up to Canberra quickly. Thanks Windchill for a good, functional, well priced product.

[/mtb/gear] link

Mon, 10 Nov 2008

Gravity again - 14:48
I was once more able to go down to Victoria this weekend and compete in the Gravity 12 Hour mtb race with Sam and Ben. I think we are all pretty happy with our race. Of the 195 teams there racing on the day we came 29th overall. The mixed threes category was again pretty hot, the overall winning team also won mixed threes. Interestingly the rest of the top places in this category were all on the same number of laps as us (19, compared with the 22 laps of the winners), though the team in front of us finished their 19 laps 10 minutes in front of us.

I keep going on about not having much speed at the moment, and it is kind of true that I was going at a pace further below anaerobic than I probably would with more bike time in my legs, I was still remarkably fast. With pretty much an identical loop to last year I managed to do most of my laps only 2 or 3 minutes slower than the same laps last year. Also interestingly my lap times got a bit faster as the day progressed, first lap above 38, second two below 37 minutes, fourth and fifth around 37 to 37:30 then the final lap (only half in gathering darkness) was only a minute slower at 38:30. My cycling base is standing me in good stead and now I just have to build up again and get some speed back. The build up of good endurance will be helped by riding to Goulburn and back a bit. The race speed I am not sure I will get around to working on as I never seem to any other time.

Previous years are 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and a mention of 2007 here.

[/mtb/events] link

Fri, 07 Nov 2008

This week in exercise - 11:10
After getting home on Tuesday I did not head out for any more exercise that day. On Wednesday I still felt a bit tired so did not road ride in the morning. I did however go to the paddle time trial that evening. Cracked 54 minutes with only around 100m of drafting so was fairly pleased with that. Due to being at a CORC Committee meeting until after 11pm and then having to return my boat to its shed I did not head out to ride or anything on Thursday morning. Went for another paddle, this time a fairly easy 8km with a friend in Matilda last night.

This morning I headed out on the Friday morning mtb ride as normal and we all had fun. Tonight I will drive down to Rosewhite in Victoria to compete in the Gravity 12 hour for the 6th year running. Should be a fun race there tomorrow with Sam and Ben. I have not done any running since before my recent cold and should try to get out for some next week if I can. At the moment I am mostly hoping the race is not particularly wet this weekend.

[/mtb] link

Tue, 04 Nov 2008

A few road kilometres - 14:47
So I will likely be going to Goulburn a bit over the coming months. I thought the best way to get there and back is of course on a road bike. A 90 KM ride each way is a good hit out for the legs, who knows I may start to get some modicum of bike fitness and speed back if I do this.

I rode out there after work yesterday, leaving home at 4:45pm I arrived around 7:40pm. I ran out of water, only carrying two full 750ml bottles. I wasted some time trying to find rest stops on the way out with potable water, however they all say not safe for drinking now days. I decided to live by Crash's quote, "Dehydration is now, gastroenteritis is later" and ended up filling up from a rest stop anyway. The ride there was remarkably nice, a head wind along Lake George but a side wind in many other places during the ride.

This morning, due to today being a public holiday in Canberra (and Victoria), I was able to take it easy coming back. I had a coffee this morning at the bike shop/cafe/greengrocer Greengrocer on Clifford which as a truly fantastic place (both in concept and in real life) then started my ride home. Annoyingly I had a head wind the entire ride home, also due to my lack of riding this year I did start to suffer pretty badly by the time I reached the climb out of Lake George. In the end the ride home took me around 3h20m so a bit longer than the ride out.

Hopefully this bit of riding will help me out at the Gravity 12 hour race this weekend in Victoria, especially as Sam has a new bike, so she will be on fire with fast laps and Ben has been doing some pretty hard exercise recently so has some fitness on him. It will be interesting to see how this same ride feels when I try it next week. Due to the highway being a bit boring and noisy I had my rockbox enabled Ipod playing the whole ride and stayed as far onto the verge as I could most of the time.

[/mtb] link

Mon, 03 Nov 2008

Stonefest was fun - 15:28
As I mentioned, on Friday and Saturday I headed out to Stonefest at UC. The best acts I saw, IMO, were The Grates (wikipedia) and rather surprisingly for me (as I tend to dislike hip hop sort of stuff) TZU (wikipedia). Other good performances were Regurgitator (wikipedia) (they played a really good set of their music), Faker (wikipedia) (because their lead singer (Nathan?) is a really lively and charismatic performer) and of course what was really the headline act of the festival The Dandy Warhols (wikipedia) were good.

Patience had a lot of energy on stage during The Grates set, also she did some crowd surfing and seemed to be having a lot of fun. TZU had a really interesting feeling of energy and enjoyment about what they were doing. Also a rather cool sense of humour came through in their playing and lyrics I thought. Though I did not cotton on to the music played by Faker much I was amazed by the antics the lead singer got up to and it really made their set fun. The crowd was a bit rude on Friday night (no idea why, they seemed much better behaved by Saturday), so there were some unfortunate things that happened, such as some heavy object being thrown into Quan's head during the Regurgitator set, frankly I would not have blamed him for stopping and walking off stage when it happened as it seemed to knock him around pretty badly. I did see a number of other objects in the air, such as a shoe narrowly missing the Faker singer while he was up on a stage support pylon and a number of cans of drink thrown toward the bands or over the top of the stage.

However if I simply ignore the annoying incidents the festival was fun and you were able to get remarkably close to the front without being mauled much when compared to the squash that may be experienced at bigger festivals.

[/leisure/music] link

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