Thursday, 29 October 2009

Guest Blogger: My Dad

G’day. I’m Meg’s dad, and I’m honoured and delighted she’s asked me to be guest blogger as part of Bike Week. So here goes:

I’m not sure if I must establish my credentials. But if so, they’re here [1].

My best bike ride ever was in 1998 when my wife Vivienne and I rode our Cannondale tandem from the bottom of England to the top of Scotland [2]. We rode 1,891 km in a leisurely 37 days.

I’m chuffed that Meg writes for Bicycle Victoria [3].

With atmospheric CO2 now above the nominal ‘safe’ level of 350 ppm, governments must implement policy incentives for more bicycle journeys. Many more. And disincentives for more journeys powered by the infernal combustion engine. Because bicycling will continue to be the most environmentally friendly form of transport. Apart perhaps from walking. [4]

And whilst pedalling you get fit and lose weight [5].

In Melbourne, Copenhagen-style bicycle lanes are a leap forward [6].

Research shows the best indicator of the bicycle friendliness of a city, is how many women are bicycling [7].

On 13 October, which was the latest National Ride to Work Day [8], I was working in Hobart and I walked to work. Bummer.

I used to love the Tour de France. I thought the riders were superb athletes, not least because they rode up mountains faster than I could ride down them. But doping and other scandals have dampened my enthusiasm [9]. Pity.

I own three bikes. Mainly I ride the pictured Peugeot mountain bike. At present it’s out of action because riding up big hills has stretched the chain [10] which needs replacing. I have a metaphoric withdrawal tremor. I must get a new chain soon.

On 11 November the Tasmanian Tourism Minister is launching a program to attract touring cyclists to this area. There’ll be four marked themed trails spanning 250km. You’ll be able to download maps, and also over seven hours of podcasts comprising interpretation of the Great Western Tiers region [11], and local stories told by residents. If you’re riding by, I’ll make you a cuppa. (After 11 November, I’ll put a comment on today’s post linking to the maps and podcasts.)

I hope you enjoy the rest of Bike Week. Also I wish you happy pedalling, and that the wind will always be at your back and the road ahead will always be down hill.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Rack 'em Up

Even though I live in a country town where I don't need to lock up my bike, I love it when I come across bike racks that are creatively designed. Actually, that's not true; I even love the ones that are purely functional.

From the utilitarian

to the affirmative

to the personalised

to the whimsical

to the busy

to the playful

to the protective

to the literal

to the thoughtful, such as this one that has the added feature of a bike pump.

I love 'em all, because they usually mean that bicycles are not too far away.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Bike Week

It's Bike Week here in the Land of Meg; a whole week of posts dedicated to the wonder that is the bicycle.

Two days ago, this wonder was on display in our town for all the community to experience.

To celebrate International Day of Climate Action, two local green groups screened the film, The Age of Stupid, which I implore you to see if you have not yet.

To offset the carbon generated by the projector during the screening, 12 grid-connected bikes were set up in the middle of town on Saturday, the day of the screening, to generate the 2,000 megawatt hours needed to power the film that night.

As the bicycle is the most efficient means of self-powered transport, I have always thought that pedal power = a lot of power. But compared to coal power, which we receive at the flick of a switch, pedal power is an inefficient, time-consuming way of producing electricity. But boy oh boy was it a fun way to learn that it takes nearly all day to create enough juice to screen an 89 minute film!

Happy Bike Week, y'all!

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Pepper Turns Two

My niece Pepper turns two today.

Here she is with her great grandmother in April last year.

My grandmother died in January this year. I actually feel OK about her death today, and the unavoidable fact that she no longer exists. But what I can't quite get my head around is that two years and one day ago, Pepper wasn't here. Not her body, I understand that that took nine months to materialise, but her character; the seed of her, the way she relates to her world, the things she thinks about that cause her eyes to sparkle, her wonderment, that all these things were not too long ago, completely uncreated.

Happy, happy birthday, Pepsi!

Friday, 23 October 2009

Thursday, 22 October 2009

The Female Brain

Do you have a female brain? Do you know someone with a female brain? Have you always wanted to understand the female brain but you've never been able to keep up? Then I recommend you read this book by Dr Louann Brizendine. My sister Abby recommended her three older sisters read it, and I'm really glad I listened. Thanks Ab!

I felt appreciated reading this book. Not that I ordinarily feel neglected, it's just that reading it I felt recognised and understood. With chapters such as 'Teen Girl Brain', 'Sex: The Brain Below The Belt' and 'The Mature Female Brain', it felt like a map of sorts, highlighting the topography, its highs and lows, of what a life looks like when you're in possession of two X chromosomes.

I learnt a lot from the whole book, but it was 'The Mommy Brain' chapter that I was most looking forward to reading and the chapter I got the most out of. For my research on stepmothering, I was curious about the biology of the brain of women who nurture offspring they didn't birth.

Brizendine writes:

Mothers may have better spatial memory than females who haven't given birth, and they may be more flexible, adaptive, and courageous. These are all skills and talents they will need to keep track of and protect their babies... This transformation holds true even for adoptive mothers.

Our friend Clare has recently become an adoptive mother in the foster care program to two bright sparks. Here they are with Z on our deck earlier this week. We think you're just ace, Clare.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

And So

I posted this photo on Flickr four years ago. (Since then, we three have met up only twice.) Now we are heading into t-shirt weather and my arms are free to air, I am reminded of such friendships and the way they come and go like the seasons.

Here's the explanation that accompanies the image:
We three Aussies got these tats done a few years ago in Melbourne before all heading off to different parts of the globe.

Kerryn loves Kurt Vonnegut and decided to get "And so it goes" (a recurring line from Slaughterhouse Five) tattooed on her shoulder.

Finally on the other side of three decades worth of bad shit, Gil decided to get "And so it was" tattooed on her back representing the past that she has moved on from but that made her who she is.

And Meg, the eternal optimist decided to get "And so it will be" on her right arm as a symbol of the charm of the unknown.

We reunited this afternoon for a few brief hours before we were once again claimed by different time zones.
From here.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Fish Out of Water

Today was the first sunny day we've had since we returned from Newcastle, and funnily enough, it was the first day since we've been home that I have felt properly grounded.

We had a pretty packed schedule for a Sunday, the majority of which was spent at a Family Fishing Festival organised by the Department of Primary Industries, at a beautiful local lake. It was a really fantastic event, which is pretty surprising considering it was a government initiative.

Highlights of the day included:

Watching Tonia Todman cook fish a dozen ways.

Laughing at Flathead Fred.

Having sea star balloons made for us.

Attending a fishing workshop.

Making new friends.

Learning how to cast off.

And taking our fresh booty home to cook for our supper.

Here are the fish we caught, before we caught them. (The lake was restocked with hundreds of fish throughout the day.)

You might think us slightly silly for our excitement every time we felt a tug on our line when we could have just grabbed a fish from the bucket and voilà. But really, where's the fun in that??

Friday, 16 October 2009

Ogori Mystery Café

On our last morning in Newcastle when we were packing up our things, we had very much in our minds the artist-in-residence who was arriving two days later. When we had arrived, there was some food leftover in the fridge and pantry from previous artists, and we were wondering what the next artist would think about all the goodies we had left in the kitchenette for her.

I felt the same way when we left our home to go to Newcastle and the afternoon we returned. I was conscious of leaving some nice food for our friends who were housesitting, and was thankful for the things they left for us when they departed.

I tell you all this by way of an introduction to the Ogori Café in Japan that operates on the same principal as the above two scenarios. When you order something, what you ordered goes to the next customer, and what you receive comes to you courtesy of the person who ordered before.

The rules are:
  1. Let's treat the next person. What to treat them with? It's your choice.
  2. Even if it's a group of friends or a family, please form a single-file line. Also, you can't buy twice in a row.
  3. Please enjoy what you get, even if you hate it. (If you really, really hate it, let's quietly give it to another while saying, "It's my treat…")
  4. Let's say "Thank You! (Gochihosama)" if you find the person with your Ogori café card.
  5. We can't issue a receipt.
From the blog where I first read about it:
It forced one to "let go", just for a brief moment, of the total control we're so used to exerting through commerce. It led you to taste something new, that you might not normally have ordered. It was a delight.
A great way to stimulate an outburst of social warming activity, don't you think?

Thursday, 15 October 2009

In Newcastle

We each bought a pair of old sunglasses.

Wearing them, we fell in love with the world,

wherever we went,

and with everyone we met,

be they human or non-human.

We fell in love with the ways of the natural world,

our small place within it,

and with one another.

We fell in love with all we have

and with all that is to come.

We don't know what's next.

But we look forward to finding out.