"They paved paradise..."

1. Bicycle helmet law proponents are just one big 'clusterfuck' of oil lobbyists doing what will get them 'paid &/or laid'. Alarmingly they have had a debilitating impact on the culture of cycling.

2. By continuing to proclaim cycling as dangerous, bicycle helmet law proponents shape the desires of a marginalised cycling culture so that the 'testosterone-dominated' sport dictates the parameters of participation. Women and children are deemed unnecessary to consider whilst the nation is systematically impoverished in terms of health and the environment.

3. Undoubtedly bicycle helmet law proponents tap into the 'mindless materialism' of western capitalism in a predictably myopic and superficial way.

4. Moreover, bicycle helmet law proponents appear to be 'sub-conscious-anti-feminine-counter-revolutionaries' juxtaposed against growing gender equality.

5. Inter alia, bicycle helmet law proponents are actually terrified of taking the road and sharing it with motorists.

(Oh dear! & diddums!)

6. But back to me...why should the cowardice of bicycle helmet proponents prevent me from taking the road in the responsible grown-up 'utility-cycling-manner' that I've been taking it for the past 46 years?


My Heroes 1 to 30


I have made links to the latest My Heroes in this Blog (numbers 23 to 30) and 21 & 22 from my previous Blog.

(21) June Tabor (Scroll down to 23 Nov 2006)

(22) Bob Dylan (Scroll down to 28 Nov 2006)

(23) John Gribbin

(24) The Everly Brothers

(25) Walter Matthau

(26) Richard Buckminster Fuller

(27) Vincent van Gogh

(28) Isaac Abeniz

(29) Madeleine Peyroux

(30) John Betjeman

The first twenty can be found here.

Liberty transport & a role for bicycles

Today in 'car-congested' Sydney, the inherent value of alternative transport is starkly juxtaposed against the inflated hype of the motor car.

Notwithstanding the magnificent service our beautiful ferries contribute to public transport, bicycles too have a major role to play in 'liberty transport'...

...and to be part of its re-emergence is almost too exciting for words!!

Go, us!

Go, Sydney!

Go, the ferries!

Go, bicycles galore!!

Three more hands

Maybe I should set up a separate blog for poker, but anyway here are three hands from last night's short but profitable single draw session.

Hand 1
I've never taken much notice of so-called timing tells before. There are all kinds of reasons why a player might take a long time to act that have nothing to do with the strength of their hand. Perhaps I should have taken some notice here though. Sariia took a long time to check, then I decided to bluff when I paired my second top card.

PokerStars Game #50235683826: Single Draw 2-7 Lowball No Limit ($0.25/$0.50 USD) - 2010/09/27 3:20:20 ET
Table 'Philomela IX' 7-max Seat #7 is the button
Seat 1: IOthLetter ($48.70 in chips)
Seat 2: DreamerRay ($54.80 in chips)
Seat 4: SARIIA ($38.80 in chips)
Seat 5: plutoman20 ($28.25 in chips)
Seat 6: B4MyEyes ($91.05 in chips)
Seat 7: shadetree26 ($23.90 in chips)
IOthLetter: posts small blind $0.25
DreamerRay: posts big blind $0.50
Dealt to plutoman20 [9d 6h As 3d 5s]
SARIIA: calls $0.50
plutoman20: raises $1.25 to $1.75
B4MyEyes: folds
shadetree26: folds
IOthLetter: folds
ge0rgia1 joins the table at seat #3
DreamerRay: folds
SARIIA: calls $1.25
SARIIA: discards 1 card
plutoman20: discards 1 card [As]
Dealt to plutoman20 [9d 6h 3d 5s] [6d]
SARIIA: checks
plutoman20: bets $3SARIIA: calls $3
*** SHOW DOWN ***
plutoman20: shows [9d 6h 6d 3d 5s] (Lo: a pair of Sixes)
SARIIA: shows [7c 4d 2h 9h 3s] (Lo: 9,7,4,3,2)
SARIIA collected $9.75 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $10.25 Rake $0.50
Seat 1: IOthLetter (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 2: DreamerRay (big blind) folded before Flop
Seat 4: SARIIA showed [7c 4d 2h 9h 3s] and won ($9.75) with Lo: 9,7,4,3,2
Seat 5: plutoman20 showed [9d 6h 6d 3d 5s] and lost with Lo: a pair of Sixes
Seat 6: B4MyEyes folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 7: shadetree26 (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)

Hand 2
Georgia checks post-draw, I hit my smooth nine and bet out, but then she (?) shoves! Did she have a monster? Her line isn't something I'd be likely to take myself, so I couldn't easily tell what it meant. To be honest when I called I expected to see a top-ten hand, but at least I'd get some information which is precious to me as a new player in the game.

PokerStars Game #50235868652: Single Draw 2-7 Lowball No Limit ($0.25/$0.50 USD) - 2010/09/27 3:31:16 ET
Table 'Philomela IX' 7-max Seat #5 is the button
Seat 1: IOthLetter ($54.50 in chips)
Seat 2: D.B.Cuper ($14.90 in chips)
Seat 3: ge0rgia1 ($19.95 in chips)
Seat 5: plutoman20 ($24.05 in chips)
Seat 6: B4MyEyes ($88.90 in chips)
Seat 7: shadetree26 ($19.30 in chips)
B4MyEyes: posts small blind $0.25
shadetree26: posts big blind $0.50
Dealt to plutoman20 [9d 3d 4s 2h Ks]
IOthLetter: folds
D.B.Cuper: folds
ge0rgia1: raises $1 to $1.50
plutoman20: calls $1.50
B4MyEyes: folds
shadetree26: calls $1
shadetree26: discards 2 cards
ge0rgia1: stands pat
plutoman20: discards 1 card [Ks]
Dealt to plutoman20 [9d 3d 4s 2h] [6d]
shadetree26: checks
ge0rgia1: checks
plutoman20: bets $3
shadetree26: folds
ge0rgia1: raises $15.45 to $18.45 and is all-in
plutoman20: calls $15.45
*** SHOW DOWN ***
ge0rgia1: shows [9h 5s 8d 2s Jh] (Lo: J,9,8,5,2)
plutoman20: shows [9d 3d 4s 2h 6d] (Lo: 9,6,4,3,2)
plutoman20 collected $39.60 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $41.65 Rake $2.05
Seat 1: IOthLetter folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 2: D.B.Cuper folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 3: ge0rgia1 showed [9h 5s 8d 2s Jh] and lost with Lo: J,9,8,5,2
Seat 5: plutoman20 (button) showed [9d 3d 4s 2h 6d] and won ($39.60) with Lo: 9,6,4,3,2
Seat 6: B4MyEyes (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 7: shadetree26 (big blind) folded on the Flop

Hand 3
This was a strange one. What hand could he do this with? He raises under the gun, calls my three-bet, but then draws two after I pat. Maybe something like T9732? And what about my bet after the draw? Should I have just checked here? By the way he took a long time to fold so it's likely he hit something, perhaps a jack. It's possible I even got him to fold the best hand, although I doubt it.

PokerStars Game #50236218004: Single Draw 2-7 Lowball No Limit ($0.25/$0.50 USD) - 2010/09/27 3:51:50 ET
Table 'Philomela IX' 7-max Seat #3 is the button
Seat 1: bassviol ($19.10 in chips)
Seat 3: ge0rgia1 ($58.15 in chips)
Seat 4: SARIIA ($41.40 in chips)
Seat 5: plutoman20 ($53.75 in chips)
Seat 6: B4MyEyes ($75.80 in chips)
SARIIA: posts small blind $0.25
plutoman20: posts big blind $0.50
Dealt to plutoman20 [Td 7h 8d 5s 4h]
B4MyEyes: raises $1 to $1.50
bassviol: folds
ge0rgia1: folds
SARIIA: folds
plutoman20: raises $2.25 to $3.75
B4MyEyes: calls $2.25
plutoman20: stands pat on [Td 7h 8d 5s 4h]
B4MyEyes: discards 2 cards
plutoman20: bets $5
B4MyEyes: folds
Uncalled bet ($5) returned to plutoman20
plutoman20 collected $7.40 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $7.75 Rake $0.35
Seat 1: bassviol folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 3: ge0rgia1 (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 4: SARIIA (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 5: plutoman20 (big blind) collected ($7.40)
Seat 6: B4MyEyes folded on the Flop

Take a chill-pill, mate!

Date: Last weekend

Location: Market Street, Sydney

Action: Predictably disappointing dialogue with predictably disappointing chap


Road Engineer: "That sign is not for women to play with!"

Me: (silent thought bubble to self - 'what a joker! - HE CANNOT BE SERIOUS?!') "Listen, mate, I'm actually trying to park my bicycle & clearly some loser has sabotaged the 'one-&-only' bike hoop in Market Street."

Road Engineer: "You're not allowed to play with it!"

Me: "Are you connected to this sign because if you are perhaps you could assist me by moving it to a more appropriate location?"

Road Engineer: "Yes I am - I'm a taxpayer"

Me: "Well I'm a taxpayer too so by your logic I also have some ownership over it!"

Road Engineer: "You're not allowed to touch it!"

Me: I'm not sure either of us are benefiting from this conversation - I'm not participating anymore - I'm parking my bicycle!"


...Jeez, mate, chill out!......maybe even try life on a bike!

- there's a nice little place on Jones Bay Wharf - Cafe Morso - could be good for starters!

Work is good

This temporary job has given my self-esteem a much-needed boost. And the best thing is, it's just a job; I don't have to get involved in, or even be aware of, any internal politics. I just have to follow the three golden rules of temp jobs that a recruitment agent told me a few years ago in the UK. Rule number one: you turn up. Rule number two: you do your job. Rule number three: you go home. As it happens I've been more productive on average than I was in my previous job which masqueraded as something really important but was anything but.

On Saturday I went round to Richard's place. It was good to catch up and just have a chat. We talked about flatting and a possible third member of the Asperger's group who might join us. The three of us will hopefully meet up this coming weekend.

I went to tennis at the club yesterday. I totally forgot it was their opening day so I didn't bring a plate, let alone a plate with food on it. They managed to get John Banks in to do the official opening. "I'm an honorary member of 340 clubs throughout New Zealand," he said, "and this is my favourite." And I'm sure you've told the other 339 the same thing! I won't be voting for him and the upcoming mayoral elections for the Super City. My level of tennis was surprisingly OK.

I'm so glad I pulled out of Lifeline. I needed some balance in my life and that was the only reasonable way - for now - I could achieve it.

My grandmother has now gone into a home in Cottenham near Cambridge. Getting her there wasn't easy; she wasn't a happy bunny to put it mildly. I'm going to write her a letter, perhaps even during a dull moment at work.

Clarence St Cyclery to the resuce!!!

Whizzing past Central Railway Station last Friday, it suddenly occurred to me that the road was particularly bumpy.

Coming to a stop at traffic lights near Eddy Avenue, I asked 'baby daughter' travelling in my slipstream (ha! ha!) if I had a flat tyre - back came the reply I had been dreading ever since I purchased this bike!!!! - 'you're on your rims!!!'

Jeez! what to do with massively punctured tyre, skirt guard, chain guard and no puncture repair kit?

1. Well first up, got tyre pumped up at friendly Wentworth Avenue motor-bike shop - brilliant for 5 seconds!!

2. Next, continued walking up Wentworth Avenue to have quick little chat with concierge in Marriot Hotel, College Street - 'help! I need the closest bicycle shop!'

3. Armed with details, headed down Park Street to find 104 Clarence Street and Clarence St Cyclery - welcomed by a posse of Clarence St Cyclery Knights clutching shining 'bicycle-repair-kit' weaponery

4. Kicked back and relaxed for 20 mins whilst soaking up good karma of Clarence-St-Cyclery-Maintenance-Basement!

5. Left this beautiful bicycle shop with my beautiful bicycle, restored to former glory, and ready for Friday night action...

...just in time to treat hubby to cocktails & "August: Osage County" at Sydney Theatre for his birthday treat

Though I say so myself, exquisite time management!!!

Lowball draw musings II

I've finally kissed goodbye to 25c-50c badugi after beating the game, over 30,000 hands, for six big bets per hundred. My guess is that I had slightly above average luck in that time: I won 58% of showdowns - a high number even when you consider that I drew much smoother than many of my opponents.

Yesterday I cashed out $1640 leaving a little over $600 in my account, just enough to have a crack at no-limit single draw. After 500 hands of that I'm marginally in the black. I realise I have some leaks that need repairing. Here are some hands that spring to mind:

Hand 1. I'm dealt a very breakable J97 on the button. There's a raise in early position, then a call, so I three-bet hoping to get a better hand to break. They both call and draw one; I stand pat. One of my opponents bets small after the draw, and I simply fold. If I get that hand again I'll just call the raise and draw to the nine.

Hand 2. I raise under the gun with a draw to the nut nine and get three callers. All four of us draw one. I make a 9-7 and bet $4 into a $6 pot. My lone caller turns over an 8-6. How did he not raise me there? This game seems a bit like five-card draw in that certain people only raise with absolute monsters and sometimes not even then. In future, with three people behind me, I'll probably just check-call there.

Hand 3. I call a raise in position with a nine draw. We're heads up, he pats and I draw one, pairing my nine. He checks post-draw and I bet $4 into a $3 pot. He calls me with a T98. I don't think the bluff was too bad, but the overbet possibly screams "please fold!" I should have bet $2 or $2.50, as I would if I'd hit my draw.

One thing I'm still not sure of is how much action to put in with pat tens and better. This afternoon I four-bet my 10-7 to $11 pre-draw. My sole opponent had a 10-8. I was a little surprised to win that. A few hands later I four-bet to $9 in position with the nut ten, a great two-way hand, and that held up too.

This game will take some figuring out, but I'm looking forward to the challenge.

Update: four hands from what I thought was an interesting session.

Hand 1
Should I break here? I tried to get to showdown as cheaply as possible. I thought there was a reasonable chance my smooth ten would hold up, and a slimmer chance of drawing better, though this doesn't take into account potential extra money I could make from Brick_Mag if I hit a monster.
PokerStars Game #50183666376: Single Draw 2-7 Lowball No Limit ($0.25/$0.50 USD) - 2010/09/26 2:46:16 ET
Table 'Olshaniya IV' 7-max Seat #3 is the button
Seat 1: 2J4U ($33.90 in chips)
Seat 2: dominikavery ($8.40 in chips)
Seat 3: BRICK_ MAG ($32.15 in chips)
Seat 4: plutoman20 ($37.30 in chips)
Seat 5: Greg941 ($26.05 in chips)
Seat 6: B4MyEyes ($66.10 in chips)
Seat 7: REDFALL ($26 in chips)
plutoman20: posts small blind $0.25
Greg941: posts big blind $0.50
Dealt to plutoman20 [3s 6c Tc 5c 2d]
B4MyEyes: folds
REDFALL: folds
2J4U: folds
dominikavery: raises $1 to $1.50
BRICK_ MAG: raises $3.50 to $5
plutoman20: calls $4.75
Greg941: folds
dominikavery: raises $3.40 to $8.40 and is all-in
BRICK_ MAG: calls $3.40
plutoman20: calls $3.40
plutoman20: stands pat on [3s 6c Tc 5c 2d]
dominikavery: discards 1 card
BRICK_ MAG: stands pat
plutoman20: checks
BRICK_ MAG: checks
*** SHOW DOWN ***
plutoman20: shows [3s 6c Tc 5c 2d] (Lo: T,6,5,3,2)
dominikavery: shows [2c Jh 4d 6d 7d] (Lo: J,7,6,4,2)
BRICK_ MAG: shows [7s 8c 5s 2h 9s] (Lo: 9,8,7,5,2)
BRICK_ MAG collected $24.45 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $25.70 Rake $1.25
Seat 1: 2J4U folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 2: dominikavery showed [2c Jh 4d 6d 7d] and lost with Lo: J,7,6,4,2
Seat 3: BRICK_ MAG (button) showed [7s 8c 5s 2h 9s] and won ($24.45) with Lo: 9,8,7,5,2
Seat 4: plutoman20 (small blind) showed [3s 6c Tc 5c 2d] and lost with Lo: T,6,5,3,2
Seat 5: Greg941 (big blind) folded before Flop
Seat 6: B4MyEyes folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 7: REDFALL folded before Flop (didn't bet)

Hand 2
I'm not even involved in this one, but what's going on after the draw? 2J4U seems like a good regular player. Perhaps these two have some history, and Bob knows there's a good chance the huge overbet is a bluff, hence the call. I don't really get Bob's small blocking bet either.

PokerStars Game #50184615005: Single Draw 2-7 Lowball No Limit ($0.25/$0.50 USD) - 2010/09/26 3:36:36 ET
Table 'Olshaniya IV' 7-max Seat #3 is the button
Seat 1: 2J4U ($20.20 in chips)
Seat 2: dominikavery ($50.25 in chips)
Seat 3: BRICK_ MAG ($52.40 in chips)
Seat 4: plutoman20 ($27 in chips)
Seat 5: BOB LOBLAW44 ($27.15 in chips)
Seat 6: B4MyEyes ($55.90 in chips)
Seat 7: Flyers19001 ($10.35 in chips)
plutoman20: posts small blind $0.25
BOB LOBLAW44: posts big blind $0.50
Dealt to plutoman20 [Qh Js 2s Tc Kc]
B4MyEyes: folds
Flyers19001: folds
2J4U: raises $1.50 to $2
dominikavery: folds
BRICK_ MAG: folds
plutoman20: folds
BOB LOBLAW44: calls $1.50
BOB LOBLAW44: stands pat
2J4U: discards 1 card
BOB LOBLAW44: bets $1
2J4U: raises $11 to $12
BOB LOBLAW44: calls $11
*** SHOW DOWN ***
2J4U: shows [6h 9d 3d 4d 9h] (Lo: a pair of Nines)
BOB LOBLAW44: shows [8c 7c Ts 4s 3s] (Lo: T,8,7,4,3)
BOB LOBLAW44 collected $26.85 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $28.25 Rake $1.40
Seat 1: 2J4U showed [6h 9d 3d 4d 9h] and lost with Lo: a pair of Nines
Seat 2: dominikavery folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 3: BRICK_ MAG (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 4: plutoman20 (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 5: BOB LOBLAW44 (big blind) showed [8c 7c Ts 4s 3s] and won ($26.85) with Lo: T,8,7,4,3
Seat 6: B4MyEyes folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 7: Flyers19001 folded before Flop (didn't bet)

Hand 3
I had a good two-way hand in position here. If he'd patted (as I expected) I'd have broken. By just calling his four-bet and patting, I'm setting myself up for a possible bluff; if he bets say $10 after the draw, then what?

PokerStars Game #50184745026: Single Draw 2-7 Lowball No Limit ($0.25/$0.50 USD) - 2010/09/26 3:43:15 ET
Table 'Olshaniya IV' 7-max Seat #4 is the button
Seat 1: 2J4U ($51.20 in chips)
Seat 2: dominikavery ($48.25 in chips)
Seat 3: BRICK_ MAG ($52.90 in chips)
Seat 4: plutoman20 ($25.45 in chips)
Seat 5: BOB LOBLAW44 ($35.75 in chips)
Seat 6: B4MyEyes ($57.65 in chips)
Seat 7: Flyers19001 ($8.90 in chips)
BOB LOBLAW44: posts small blind $0.25
B4MyEyes: posts big blind $0.50
Dealt to plutoman20 [Th 4s 2s 8h 5h]
Flyers19001: folds
2J4U: folds
dominikavery: raises $1 to $1.50
BRICK_ MAG: folds
plutoman20: raises $2.50 to $4
BOB LOBLAW44: folds
B4MyEyes: folds
dominikavery: raises $4.50 to $8.50
plutoman20: calls $4.50
dominikavery: discards 1 card
plutoman20: stands pat on [Th 4s 2s 8h 5h]
dominikavery: checks
plutoman20: checks
*** SHOW DOWN ***
dominikavery: shows [6d 3s 7c 5d 7d] (Lo: a pair of Sevens)
plutoman20: shows [Th 4s 2s 8h 5h] (Lo: T,8,5,4,2)
plutoman20 collected $16.90 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $17.75 Rake $0.85
Seat 1: 2J4U folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 2: dominikavery showed [6d 3s 7c 5d 7d] and lost with Lo: a pair of Sevens
Seat 3: BRICK_ MAG folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 4: plutoman20 (button) showed [Th 4s 2s 8h 5h] and won ($16.90) with Lo: T,8,5,4,2
Seat 5: BOB LOBLAW44 (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 6: B4MyEyes (big blind) folded before Flop
Seat 7: Flyers19001 folded before Flop (didn't bet)

Hand 4
Seven hundred hands and I'd never been all in, or even close to it. I'd been lamenting the total lack of action my pat monsters had generated, while anything marginal had always got plenty of callers. Then this hand happened. When Bob called my all-in, I didn't expect to see a 9-8.

PokerStars Game #50185528152: Single Draw 2-7 Lowball No Limit ($0.25/$0.50 USD) - 2010/09/26 4:23:02 ET
Table 'Olshaniya IV' 7-max Seat #3 is the button
Seat 1: sjcroy99 ($19.50 in chips)
Seat 2: dominikavery ($31.15 in chips)
Seat 3: BRICK_ MAG ($49.15 in chips)
Seat 4: plutoman20 ($22.50 in chips)
Seat 5: BOB LOBLAW44 ($49.40 in chips)
Seat 7: ThaSlosh23 ($16.65 in chips)
plutoman20: posts small blind $0.25
BOB LOBLAW44: posts big blind $0.50
Greg941: sits out
Dealt to plutoman20 [2d 5c 4s 8d 6h]
ThaSlosh23: folds
sjcroy99: folds
dominikavery: folds
BRICK_ MAG: folds
plutoman20: raises $1 to $1.50
BOB LOBLAW44: raises $1.50 to $3
plutoman20: raises $4 to $7
BOB LOBLAW44: calls $4
plutoman20: stands pat on [2d 5c 4s 8d 6h]
BOB LOBLAW44: stands pat
plutoman20: bets $15.50 and is all-in
BOB LOBLAW44: calls $15.50
*** SHOW DOWN ***
plutoman20: shows [2d 5c 4s 8d 6h] (Lo: 8,6,5,4,2)
BOB LOBLAW44: shows [2s 9c 5s 4h 8c] (Lo: 9,8,5,4,2)
plutoman20 collected $42.80 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $45 Rake $2.20
Seat 1: sjcroy99 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 2: dominikavery folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 3: BRICK_ MAG (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 4: plutoman20 (small blind) showed [2d 5c 4s 8d 6h] and won ($42.80) with Lo: 8,6,5,4,2
Seat 5: BOB LOBLAW44 (big blind) showed [2s 9c 5s 4h 8c] and lost with Lo: 9,8,5,4,2
Seat 7: ThaSlosh23 folded before Flop (didn't bet)

Quiz Question (10 ): Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness is a novella by Joseph Conrad first published in book form in 1902. It tells the story using a device known as a frame: one, unnamed, character is relating a story told through another narrator, while the two of them are waiting in a ship anchored in the Thames Estuary. The book is very well written and, incredibly, Conrad is writting in his third language, English. His first two were Polish and French. His skill with words is nonetheless amazing, as he tells the tale of a company agent who steams three hundred miles up an African river to seek a rogue company man. The themes of the book are the evils of imperialism and an examination of many forms of 'darkness', both physical and mental.

What famous Oscar-winning film was based on this story?

Someone got the answer straightaway! Check the comments and see if you were correct!

appreciation, n.

1. the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something:
a. gratitude for something
b. a piece of writing in which the qualities of a person or the person's work are discussed and assessed
c. sensitive understanding of the aesthetic value of something
2. a full understanding of a situation
3. increase in monetary value

Yes, "appreciation" was the title of my previous post, but this post has nothing to do with that one.

The doorbell rang Monday afternoon: It was UPS delivering a package. What's this? I thought. from Amazon.com? I haven't ordered anything.  I opened the box.  A Kindle!? I didn't order this! But ooooohhh! I want one.  I admired it.   There's some mistake. I'm not paying for this!  I searched for the packing slip. Oh my!  I went to the phone and called my brother-in-law.

Hey! Let me get Jane.
No. I have to talk to you.
What's up? 
I have to talk to you, but I -- I don't know what to say.  I mean -- I know I'm supposed to say Thank you. But but but but ... I don't know what to say!
(Laughter.)  Oh, you got it. I thought you'd like it.
Well, yeah!  I just don't know what to say! I'm amazed! I know: All I have to say is Thank you. Wow. So. Ummm....  Thank you!
You're welcome. I can hear the grin in his voice. I think you'll enjoy using it. Mine arrived on Saturday. 
Oh my gosh! Thank you!  And it's not Christmas. Or my birthday. Or ANYTHING.
I know! That's when it's fun to give presents, when they aren't expected.

I babbled on for a few more minutes; Pierre was obviously enjoying my delight. We hung up, and I took the Kindle out of its box and turned it on. I paged through the small users guide and called Pierre back:

(Laughter)  If you're going to call me every five minutes, I'll be sorry I gave it to you.
I'm glad you're excited about it.
I am! Thank you SO much.  I just can't believe it.


I appreciate (enjoy its good qualities) the really cool toy I now have. I appreciate (feel gratitude toward) my brother-in-law for giving it to me. He gave it to me because he appreciates (has a full understanding of) my situation in the family. And because he appreciates my position, I am compelled to write an appreciation of what he does for the family.

When we're all together, my mom and Jane and I can be so  ... ummm ... enthusiastic that Pierre seems to fade away. But he is always there, watching, enjoying, loving, supporting.  He can be easy to p*ss off because he has a very strong sense of right and wrong and what some would call old-school values. But he's also deeply rooted in those values and is stronger for it. He shelters the entire family and no matter how annoyed he might be, when push comes to shove ... he's there.

He's been my strongest supporter these last few years, ever since I moved to Tucson.  Mother says that he won't let Jane or her criticize me very much because of what a hard job I have to do and what a good job I'm doing of it.  I think his eyes were really opened when Jane was so sick. When she almost died, he got a glimpse of the shadow of grief, and he suddenly understood what I have been carrying for so long.

He's not a touchy-feely sensitivity guy. But he's down-to-earth and practical.  He doesn't talk about his feelings. But his every action shows them.  Our whole family would be much poorer without Pierre.

It's ironic that the word appreciation derives from the French/Latin word that means to appraise, to set a monetary value to, because, truly, those things that I appreciate most in life are those with no monetary value whatsoever.

Bicycle Helmet Laws & Discrimination

Our government policy wonks missed a crucial step when enacting bicycle helmet laws - they forgot to conduct a feasability study to assess the 'equality impact' of the law upon women...

...or did they?

Cities + Bicycles = Urban Bliss

(Photos: Querida David, Provence, France)

Underlying a viable city is a broader philosophy - in fact a loosely unifying municipal glue that connects people working and living within it. Quite clearly, pursuing development of a utility cycling culture can only add to quality 'urban fabric'.

But we don't need to wait for our dream 'Bicycle Paradise' and hoped-for benefits to sample quality 'urban fabric' - after all given that the road is already for sharing, the cities are ours for the taking NOW...

...so let's take them - on our bikes everyone!!!

Bicycle! Bicycle! I want to ride my bicycle!

Wonderful! wonderful! Clover Moore! and her wonderful! wonderful! 'copenhageny' announcements!

With any luck, her visionary planning will position us so we can neatly 'side-step' the sort of congestion issues that are currently causing some grief in Bejing:

"Thousands of drivers on the Beijing-Tibet Expressway just outside the Chinese capital have been snared by roadworks since 14 August - and the disruption is expected to last well into September. The tail-backs stretch for a mind-boggling 100km and 400 police officers have been assigned to the area to quell rising tensions, with roadside vendors said to be charging exorbitant prices for tea and noodles. Meanwhile, drivers resigned to their fate are reported to be passing the time with games of chess or cards. Some have requested concerts be performed on roadside verges." (The Guardian Weekly, 03.09.10)

Oh la! la! - hard to imagine!

Meanwhile back in our evolving 'bicycle nirvana', the mainstream media has been all over it this weekend - yes indeedy! with mouth-watering reports coming out of Amsterdam yesterday, and Background Briefing's lengthy 'Bicycle-Helmet-Law' report this morning.

Talk about 'paradigm shifts' (may I, Bob?) - they're shifting big time - YAY!!!

Cutting my Lifeline

I had my Lifeline session after work on Friday. After a busy week during which I'd failed to look after myself adequately, it was the last thing I wanted to do. In the session I said I was stressed with having far too much on my plate, and was told I should make a list and drop one or two items from it. I made this list (in my head) and there was a certain irony when I realised what I needed to cross off it. Lifeline. My stress levels would drop enormously if I didn't have to think about that. Last Friday I was told to attend an extra session on Tuesday to get up to speed (I'm slower to pick up concepts than the others in my group) and that was the last straw. Saturday's session lasts all day. I'm also supposed to do various homeworks and assignments. There just aren't enough hours in the week.

Lifeline is important; people's lives are at stake. Either you do the course properly or not at all. If I carry on with it I know only be doing it half-arsed. The other problem is that you have to deal with quite strong feelings. At the moment I don't have strong feelings. It's a real shame to have to give up at this stage, particularly as the course is so well run, but for my own sanity I have little choice.

I should mention that it did feel good to be working again, but I felt snowed under with all that other stuff that I'd really only taken on under the assumption that I'd remain unemployed. I'll have at least one more week in the job.

Yesterday we had the monthly autism get-together. Unlike last month, I was able to enjoy it this time. The topic for the initial discussion was energy-saving and sustainability. Some people spoke quite passionately and at length on this subject. I had my own views, but as someone who lives by himself and drives most places, I'm not sure how valid they were. At least I've been catching the ferry to work.

Mum has been up here on her 24-hour flying visit. It's been good to see her, though it's a shame the weather has forced us to stay inside most of the time. Mum spent some time last night picking out jobs for me on Seek. They nearly all had the word "analyst" in the job title. I find it hard to look at that word any more without thinking "anal". I feigned enthusiasm for the jobs (badly) and even applied for two of them.

My Heroes (30): John Betjeman

Sir John Betjeman's statue at St Pancras station, London

John Betjeman was knighted in 1969 and made British Poet Laureate, when Cecil Day-Lewis died in 1972, until his own death in 1984. His image was always that of an avuncular cuddly eccentric, slightly bumbling and bewildered and he did nothing to discourage that image of himself.

He was often not highly regarded by critics but was always very popular with the public.

Isn't that frequently the case? His subject matter was rooted in the here and now rather than classical subjects. He was an admirer of architecture and nature.

He famously popularised suburbia as 'Metroland', named after the new suburbs that appeared around London between the wars due to the expansion of the Metropolitan Railway.

Here is one of my personal favourites of his poems.

I really enjoy the evocation of 1930's English middle-class society and I should say, for those under 40 or not British, that Hillman, Rover & Austin were makes of automobile.

I have not the faintest idea what 'her father's euonymus' was!


Miss J Hunter Dunn, Miss J Hunter Dunn,

Furnish’d and burnish’d by Aldershot sun,

What strenuous singles we played after tea,

We in the tournament – you against me!

Love-thirty, love-forty, oh! weakness of joy,

The speed of a swallow, the grace of a boy,

With carefullest carelessness, gaily you won,

I am weak from your loveliness, Joan Hunter Dunn.

Miss Joan Hunter Dunn, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn,

How mad I am, sad I am, glad that you won,

The warm-handled racket is back in its press,

But my shock-headed victor, she loves me no less.

Her father’s euonymus shines as we walk,

And swing past the summerhouse, buried in talk,

And cool the verandah that welcomes us in

To the six-o’clock news and a lime-juice and gin.

The scent of the conifers, sound of the bath,

The view from my bedroom of moss-dappled path,

As I struggle with double-end evening tie,

For we dance at the Golf Club, my victor and I.

On the floor of her bedroom lie blazer and shorts,

And the cream-coloured walls are be-trophied with sports,

And westering, questioning settles the sun,

On your low-leaded window, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn.

The Hillman is waiting, the light’s in the hall,

The pictures of Egypt are bright on the wall,

My sweet, I am standing beside the oak stair

And there on the landing’s the light on your hair.

By roads “not adopted”, by woodlanded ways,

She drove to the club in the late summer haze,

Into nine-o’clock Camberley, heavy with bells

And mushroomy, pine-woody, evergreen smells.

Miss Joan Hunter Dunn, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn,

I can hear from the car park the dance has begun,

Oh! Surrey twilight! importunate band!

Oh! strongly adorable tennis-girl’s hand!

Around us are Rovers and Austins afar,

Above us the intimate roof of the car,

And here on my right is the girl of my choice,

With the tilt of her nose and the chime of her voice.

And the scent of her wrap, and the words never said,

And the ominous, ominous dancing ahead.

We sat in the car park till twenty to one

And now I’m engaged to Miss Joan Hunter Dunn.

This is from BBC News, April 2007:

The woman who inspired one of Sir John Betjeman's most famous poems has died at the age of 92.

Joan Jackson was immortalised in print as Miss J Hunter Dunn in Sir John's 1941 poem, A Subaltern's Love Song.

Mrs Jackson, who first met Sir John while working at the Ministry of Information in the 1930s, died at a London nursing home last week.

Her son, Edward, said: "She never said she was proud to be his muse but she did not consider it a joke."

John Betjeman 1906-1984
He added: "She just said that John was a nice man."

Joan Jackson the 'muse' for Betjeman's Joan Hunter Dunn


Alas the whole poem was Betjeman's fantasy from afar. I recall him appearing on a chat show as a cheerful old man like a grandfather everyone would love to have and he was asked if he had any regrets in life: " Yes", he replied "I never had enough sex."

'Mad Monday' celebrations influenced by bicycle helmet matters

(role model for 'Mad Monday' - really??)

After recent 'Mad Monday' end-of-year free-for-all, 'Word-on-the-Street' has it that one Scone reveller cycled to the festivities 'sans' helmet.

Our 'Boys-in-Blue', ever ready & waiting, had a quick little chat to him about his hatless state to which he explained that he was dressed as he was for the customary 'Mad Monday' dress-up stakes because he was going as 'Sue Abbott'!!

...the Cops were highly amused, but booked him anyway!!!

"We're a couple of swells!"

My quest for civil liberties has revealed some very special 'comrades-in-arms', and it has been surreal meeting fellow 'cyber-cycleteers' such as film-maker, Mike Rubbo and expert specialist anaesthetist, Dr Paul Martin (above).

So now I am barely able to contain my excitement about meeting more comrades, and most conveniently for me, an opportunity is looming on the horizon which will potentially provide that chance!

Leading on from the submissions submitted to the StaySafe Committee's Inquiry into Vulnerable Road Users, the Honourable Mr Geoff Corrigan MP, Chair, has extended an invitation to me & anors to attend a public hearing of the Committee to give evidence based on our submissions - as luck would have it some of the proposed invitees are 'cyber-cycleteers'!

How exciting!!!!


Accordingly, and with profuse apologies to Irvin Berlin, I've been busy planning the logistics of my journey...


"The Parliament has asked me up to tea-ee...
But how am I to get there, oh sir-ee, oh sir-ee?...

I could walk up Macquarie Street, but I haven't got the time,
I could drive up Macquarie Street, but there's always such a line,
I could ride on the tramlines, but they ripped them up, oh yeah!
So I'll bike up Macquarie Street, yes I'll bike up Macquarie Street,
Oh! I'll bike up Macquarie Street till I'm there!"


I started to write this post with a dry tone to explain that my mom is not in crisis, that her death is not imminent or even in the "near future." I started to write this post with an apologetic tone for not being clearer in my writing: Her disease has progressed to the "next stage," but she still feels -- for the most part -- "fine."   I started to write this post with a a flippant tone of "Jeez, you folks over-reacted. No emergency here."

But then I realized that what I need to say is thank you. Thank you for the compassion and concern you have shown me, here and privately.  I appreciate your friendship and support more than I can say.  It humbles me to realize how many people value me enough to care what happens to my mom, because they know it will affect me deeply.

Thank you.

The revealing 'it's counter-intuitive' claim

(Photos: Sydney Morning Herald, Thursday, September 16, 2010)
The platform for the helmet debate continues to be provided by mainstream media. At last the reporting of academic research in today's "Head case" article has been widened beyond the ancient, worn out Thompson & Rivara study.

Notwithstanding why does the first and last word on the efficacy of bicycle helmets have to be left to a doctor when clearly this is outside his area of expertise? Neurosurgeons deal with brains and brain injuries, not bicycle helmet mechanics.

Moreover, stating...

"It's counter-intuitive to me; why would it make things worse?" That doesn't make any sense to me"

...can hardly be considered authoritative - it's so subjective, so 'flat-earthy'!

In fact such a statement appears to rely on gut feelings!

Is that really how we want our legislators to make our laws - on medico/political gut feelings?

History is littered with resulting flawed policies & procedures. Consider how long it took to convince doctors that the safest sleeping position for babies was on their backs - this despite the data being available for decades.

So why oh why, Mr SMH Editor, did you allow non-expert opinion to conclude your almost balanced article?

Which bicycle helmet study, Minister Borger?

Minutes of 'tele-meeting':

* Chatted to Minister Borger's policy advisor today (funtimes!)

* Requested title of study cited in 'NO EXEMPTION' letter?

* Granted, & 'seminal' document already despatched to Scone (YAY!)

* Notwithstanding title cannot be divulged over phone (policy advisor's computer not on!)

* Definitely posted though (YAY!)

* However not by policy advisor or department (huh?)

* The RTA (groan!)

...& SIGH!!!!

Freedom cycling in Vietnam

(Photos: Jamie K, Hoi An, Vietnam)

Recently received an inspiring update from Jamie K with regard to his 'failing-to-wear-helmet' matter, and his fabulous result in court.

Early on in the year, Jamie represented himself (Go, Jamie!) in the Melbourne Magistrate's Court. At the completion of Jamie's hearing, the Magistrate stated that the case was trivial, & from the start should have been dealt with police discretion.

She then proceeded to dismiss all charges!! (awesome moment for all 'freedom-from-mandatory-helmet-law' campaigners!!)

...in fact in Jamie's own considered words:

"Fan-bloody-tastic!" & "Phew!"

But wait there's more...

...following on from this court case, Jamie contacted VicRoads as the relevant authority under the legislation and therefore the appropriate body to deal with his cycling dilemma.

He duly submitted an application for a 'helmet-exemption', citing medical grounds that were 100% supported by his GP - in fact the 'medical content' within the grounds for consideration was well over 4 pages long!

Notwithstanding his excellent submission, the response from VicRoads was utterly predictable and more or less to the effect;

"NO!- No way! - Not granted! - On your bike, mate (& wear a helmet!)"

But needless to mention, the resilient Jamie remains undeterred, and moreover, intends to challenge the decision of VicRoads along with their worn-out, over-used 'motherhood claim' that helmets save lives and serious injuries.

Good luck to our fearless campaigner from down south!!!


A good earthquake

I'm tired so I'll keep this short. For me the real story of the Canterbury earthquake wasn't all the shops and houses that had to be demolished but rather how well the region coped in a seven-point-something quake. Some people - many of them builders - have even benefited from the quake. I'm one of those people. On Friday I started a temp job at an insurance brokers in the city, sorting out some of the earthquake claims. It's not a bad job. The pay isn't amazing but there are plenty of people who earn less. I've been starting work at eight, which means getting up at a time I've almost forgotten exists.

One of the agencies - the one that gave me all those tests - told me about the job at 5pm on Thursday, and while I was happy to get some work, that phone call sent me into a mad panic. All that other stuff I've taken on has been on the assumption that I won't have a job. Actually having a job has thrown everything out of whack. But on balance this is a definite plus for me.

Mum is coming up to Auckland to do some shopping with a friend. We should meet up, if only for a short while. I really hope we can avoid a repeat of what happened last time she was here.

Quiz Question (9): Cinema Questions

A change of subject this time. Instead of the usual literature questions here are a couple of cinematic ones:

1) Who was the first actor to portray Hannibal ("I'm having an old friend for dinner") Lecter  on screen?

2) Who played 'Iris' the 12 year old street-kid in Taxi Driver?

Answers will be posted in 'Comments' a few days.

A tale of two posts

The post I kept meaning to write

But I was busy.

For this post to make sense, you have to understand (1) that my sister owns the house I'm living in and (2) that I moved to Arizona 3 years ago, when my mom was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer and given 12-18 months to live, just 9 months after (3) my brother died and my sister had a total gastrectomy to remove a stomach tumor.

See this?

Once upon a time, this door mat said WELCOME; my sister left it at this house and it was pretty worn out when I got here. But I wasn't going to bother replacing it; after all, I was going to be in Arizona for only a year, maybe two if we were lucky. "Worn out" has become "disgraceful," but I have refused to replace that mat: A new welcome mat would imply a connection to this place that does not exist.  Yes, it's beautiful here; yes, I love being near my family; but but but.  Beyond family, I have no connections here; I feel utterly unplugged from my life.

Nonetheless, I am glad to be here with my mom.  She is doing well. REALLY well. So well, that she and Jane are leaving on Saturday for a 3-week trip to Jordan and Egypt. It's amazing. 

In fact, at our regular Sudoku-and-coffee klatsch last week, Jane and I talked about my going back to Maryland. She and Pierre think I've sacrificed enough of myself over the last three years, that it's time for me to reclaim my professional life and my social life.  (I suspect this comes from recent conversations about how much money I'm pulling from savings every month that I am here, in an area with zero employment opportunities for me.)

I protested, But what happens then? Say I go back to Maryland and 6 months later Mother gets sick. Then what? I won't be able to fly back every other week or even once a month. I can't leave you with the whole burden of caring for her.

Why not? I'm not sick anymore. And I have Pierre ... It's not like it was before, when he was caring for two dying women.

Well, I'll think about it. But I won't say anything to Mother yet.

Nooooo! She'd be sick in a week if you mentioned anything like that!

And dead in two! But at least then I could go back to Maryland without guilt. Ha-ha.

Ha-ha. Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha.

So I've been thinking about it. A lot. And I really like the idea. A lot. I'm seriously inclined to leave at the end of the school year. Jane thought I could leave sooner if I wanted, since the school year just started, but I see no reason to abruptly uproot the boys the way I did when we moved out here. 

The post I am having to write

But I don't want to.

Mother and Jane didn't go to Jordan on Saturday. Two hours before they were supposed to head to the airport, my mother canceled the trip. She confessed that she had been having "symptoms," symptoms that indicate the cancer is actively growing.  She's been having consistent abdominal pains; she's been constipated, and laxatives have done nothing -- which means there is some blockage.

Apparently, she's been feeling this way for a while but trying to ignore it, telling herself it was the rich food she ate last night or the extra glass of wine or because she hasn't been exercising properly.  But when it came down to it, she knew that it was foolish to travel halfway around the world feeling the way she does. She can't sit in her comfy lounge chair for more than 15-20 minutes; there's no way she could handle a 12-hour flight to Amman.

We've been told that when the cancer kicks back in, it will start with bloating and blockage and pain.  Since Mother is adamant that there will be no more chemo and no more surgery, when the cancer kicks back in, it will be the beginning of the end. She managed to get an appointment to see her oncologist this afternoon, who didn't feel any remarkable changes during the pelvic exam. Dr N simply said it's the beginning of the "next phase."  We don't know how long the "next phase" will last, or how quickly it will morph into the "final phase."

What we do know is that we were given more time with Mother than we imagined, and that extra time has been GOOD time. And for that time, for every moment of whatever time remains, I am profoundly grateful.

Sydney Cycle Chic adds beauty to Bourke Street

(The organiser)

(The film-maker)

(The gals)

(The guys)

(The bikes)

Perfect day with...
Perfect pals on...
Perfect cycleway in...
Perfect city with...
Perfect Lord Mayor...

...could anything be more chic?

...only Saskia Howard!!!! - who turned heads in Sydney yesterday!!!

Sydney Cycle Chic - the ultimate in perfection!...

..."thank you heaps"!!!

One fine day

Wednesday's early morning turbo badugi tournament lived up to its name: I never got above my starting stack (of just 1000) and was out in double-quick time. As it happened, I couldn't have made it to the tournament proper anyway. The WINZ meeting or "seminar" was useful - everyone was told to be a lot more persistent, and not to take no for an answer. Only seven or eight people attended, but the whole gamut of jobless life was on show, from a highly switched-on computer programmer to someone straight out of The League of Gentlemen.

I got back to my car after the meeting to find a thin piece of paper stuck to the windscreen. I instantly knew what it was, but couldn't think why it was there. Then I looked at my registration sticker. August 21st. Everybody's birthday seems to fall on that date so how I could I forget? This year I've been very careful to save the odd dollar here and there, and then bam! - I forget something important and it sets me back hundreds. In this case $200. I went to Takapuna Post Office who gave me the bizarre news that I wasn't the legal owner of the car, and that it was registered until November 21st. I'd signed all the change of ownership papers when I bought the car, but for some reason the change has since been reversed. The post office lady spent twenty minutes on the phone to Land Transport, after which I was reinstated as the legal owner and given a new updated registration sticker without having to pay anything. In short, I might get lucky here and get off the fine. That would be quite a result. I've sent the council a letter and will see what happens.

After all that messing around, I attended the WRAP course (for what I imagine will be the last time unfortunately), helped (I hope) the Browns Bay boy with his maths, and went to the men's group where we chatted and watched the first half of Flawless which was very good I thought.

Quite a bit (by my standards) has happened since Wednesday; I'll save that for my next post.

In memoriam: Nine years later

In 2006, I participated in a bloggers memorial project to mark the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The project organizers asked for volunteers to write about one individual who died that day -- in the Twin Towers, at the Pentagon, and in a field in Pennsylvania.

It is my lasting honor to have written about Christopher Paul Slattery, age 31, and it is my sacred duty to always remember him.

May his memory -- and the memory of all who died that day -- be eternal.

Ignorance feeds bicycle helmet laws

"...the majority of politicians, on the evidence available to us, are interested not in truth but in power and in the maintenance of that power. To maintain that power it is essential that people remain in ignorance, that they live in ignorance of the truth, even the truth of their own lives.

What surrounds us therefore is a vast tapestry of lies, upon which we feed."

(Harold Pinter: 'Art, Truth & Politics', Nobel Lecture, December 7, 2005)

...when will we ever learn?

Bicycle helmet laws supersede civil liberties

(Photos: Querida David - "Choice Wheels")

Civil liberties are civil liberties no matter how you look at them!

Hence the commercial practices of helmet promoters should never have been allowed to supersede the rule of law in Australia.

It is not the conflicting evidence of helmets and their properties that is the challenge but our blinkered willingness to ignore the underlying issues surrounding academic & expert evidence, underpinned by a fatuous willingness to acquiesce with dodgy commercial strategies. When these very same promotional tactics were suggested for motorists, they were buried immediately.

Years were spent familiarising us with the notion of safety in bicycle helmets WELL BEFORE legislation was introduced.

Yet how ethically correct was that?

If bicycle helmets were the instant 'protective salvo' so rigorously claimed, why weren't laws enacted the minute this fact was discovered?

Why did governments wait so long to protect us?

...and also...

Why did governments not see fit to protect motorists too when studies revealed that motorists could also be protected by soft-shell helmets?

Nothing adds up!...everything's confusing!

Notwithstanding it would appear that in view of mandatory bicycle helmet laws, Australian civil liberties have been indefinitely suspended.


Lowball draw musings

I've played a couple of thousand hands of triple draw now, at 25c/50c and 50c/$1, and I'm roughly break-even. Given my badugi record, and the similarities between the two games, I thought I'd do better than that, but it hasn't panned out that way. Just like in badugi, I see what appears to be poor play, but unlike in badugi I seem unable to capitalise. Maybe my sample size is too small to draw any reasonable conclusions, but I'm sure I have a few leaks that need patching up. Certainly I can't hand-read as well in triple draw as I can in badugi.

I've read some discussion on forums about the comparative variance of triple draw and badugi. The swings seem more brutal in triple draw, although I've done no statistical analysis of my hands to back this up. A couple of reasons why triple draw might be more "swingy":
  1. Triple draw hands run closer in equity, particularly on the last draw; for instance 8763 is a 44% shot against 7432 with one draw remaining. Compare that to 652 in badugi, which is about a 4-to-1 underdog to 32A on the last draw.
  2. When you're up against a pat hand in badugi and you've missed the first two draws, it's likely you won't have the odds to continue, so you can (and should) pull the plug at that stage unless the stand-pat person has a propensity to snow. In triple draw you generally have more outs to complete your hand and can therefore see all three draws. So in triple draw a bad run of missed monster draws will cost you considerably more than in badugi.

In addition to those factors, you play more hands per hour at triple draw than badugi (because the tables are smaller) so your ups and downs seem more pronounced.

My current overall profit has just nudged over US$6000, including (of course) that tournament success back in May. If and when it reaches $6100, I'll cash out all but $600, which I'll use to play single draw as well as badugi (and maybe low-stakes triple draw too).

I managed to convert some of my frequent player points into tournament money, and I'll use $22 of that to buy into tomorrow morning's turbo WCOOP badugi satellite, starting at 7:30. The turbo aspect doesn't appeal - if you don't hit a few hands early you'll be out - but I'll give it a go anyway. After that I've got a busy day: a WINZ appointment at 10:30, the WRAP (mental health) course between 1 and 3pm, teaching fractions in Browns Bay a little later, then the men's group in the evening.

Helmet debate on prime time TV

Oh! Australia is such a contradictory and confusing place!

We're wedded to our helmet laws, yet we dispense with them when it comes to advertising as the Rocks.com photo above reveals! No sign of a helmet to sell the Rocks & Spring - only the harbour, a bicycle and a pretty woman. Clearly a 'stack hat' wouldn't cut it!!

...scratch the surface and Australian helmet believers actually reveal themselves to be not only scarily fanatical, but happy to run with the lack of evidence to prove their 'helmets-save-lives' mantra.

But I want to know how come they (helmet believers) won't let me use their 'lack of evidence tactic' to prove my position - surely it's flexible enough to go both ways?

I briefly appeared on the "7PM Project" (6:35 mins into video clip) last Friday night - & what an interesting exercise that was, to say the least - utterly invaluable, I think!?!!

Naturally many of the 'usual suspect' questions were asked - you know the ones such as:

* is it a hair thing?
* how come you're not above the law?
* why shouldn't you pay for your own medical bills?

...except for the one pertaining to seatbelt which was omitted!

Notwithstanding, these Qs are necessary to master because they're always asked and may be the useful ones to win the hearts and minds of the voting folk.

Prima facie neither the audience nor panel members were fully acquainted with Professor Rissel's 2010 peer reviewed article which appeared in the "Journal of the Australasian College of Road Safety" (p.50). If they had been, the 'same-old-same-old' questions would have been redundant.

In fact it would be interesting to discover what they actually have read that makes them such experts?

Could it be the much touted 'Government / RTA / DV Experts (private crash investigation company)' sponsored UNSW 2009 "Pedal & Motor Cycle Helmet Perfromance Study", whose very framework, in its call for participation, appears to support government mandatory helmet policy?

...and further does anyone know if the study is finished yet and if it is, where it can be found? If it isn't, can completion actually be guaranteed before the end of the year when the UNSW School of Risk & Safety Sciences closes for good?

Notwithstanding these questions and whatever the conclusions &/or expert opinion, some 'hearts and minds' are beyond 'winning over'!!! - as evidenced in the following 'email excerpt'!!!:

"...how dare you go on national TV and encourage people not to wear helmets. Children watch television and listen to people like you. If one child comes off their bike and suffer from head injury I hope you hear about it and realize the "good" you've done. Just because you don't like wearing a helmet? Maybe you should stop wearing seat belts next. Also lets get rid of safety guards on power tools. Wake up and think about cyclists that aren't you."

Oh boy! - maybe it would be easier just to relocate to the Netherlands now rather than later?!

After all, are we ever going to achieve the cultural capital necessary for a diverse and inclusive cycling culture?

Painting of the Month (9) September 2010: Vermeer

 Vermeer van Delft. The Kitchen Maid. Painted about 1660

This lovely painting is so typically dutch. The milkmaid is not a grand lady but is as dignified as any queen. It is technically a masterpiece. The handling of light is beguiling and the crumbly bread makes one long to take a piece!
Look closely at some of the details. Double-click the picture to enlarge it and look for the nail in the wall casting a tiny shadow; find the broken piece of glass in the window and check out the brass lamp hanging behind the basket on the wall.
The subject is viewed from a low-level giving her a sturdyness and a slightly squat look. Her arms are strong and she is completely unselfconcious. The texture of every surface is tenderly rendered in a homage to the 'everyday' scene. I can look right 'into' this picture for along time a feel a wonderful peace.
It's in the Rijksmusem in Amsterdam where it is rightly one of the main attractions. 

Love Remembered

This is the 7th year I've been without Nick on September 5th, and so my annual bouquet of roses has 7 yellow roses, along with the 12 red roses for every September 5th we were together.

I had intended to scan a new batch of photos from our wedding day, but the best ones are already in the video that I made and posted last year. Some stills from that video are here and here. As I was turning the pages of our wedding album, smiling with tender sadness, two cards fell out: the ones we exchanged on September 5, 1993 -- our first wedding anniversary.


I know of no home more beautiful than the one I share with you,
no garden more fruitful than where we tend our love.
I love you -- ever so very much.


My dearest Alicia,

One year only? It seems to be my whole life.
I cannot remember a time without you.
Even those times that were without --
my memories of them change as if you were there with me.

No words have I for you --
just the act and even that seems inadequate at times.
My lover, my confidant, my friend, my joy, my delight ...
I love you. Happy Anniversary.

Your Nicholas.

I read and re-read Nick's words to me.  To tell the truth, I had forgotten that he felt that way about me.  I'm sure that sounds strange, because of course I know how much he loved me. But for these last 6 years, I have experienced only my emotions and my love.  I had forgotten what his love felt like, how deep his emotions ran.

I studied his handwriting, absorbed the words, and remembered. Then I sighed as I closed the album and put it back on the shelf. I don't need to look at or post more pictures from a life that is utterly in the past.

Not when the love, remembered, lives on.

What a day

Yesterday lunchtime the phone rang. It was Mum. Again. She rarely has any news, and neither do I, but that doesn't stop her ringing me. Only yesterday there was news. I hadn't seen the national news, so was totally unaware that a severe earthquake had struck Canterbury in the early hours of the morning. Dad somehow slept through virtually the whole thing, while I'm a bit envious of my brother for experiencing his first quake. I'm amazed that nobody died. That there was no loss of life was due to the timing of the quake, structural improvements made to buildings over the years, and simply good fortune. News of the earthquake somewhat overshadowed the other disaster to hit the South Island yesterday. Nine people were killed when their skydiving plane crashed at Fox Glacier; four of them were tourists including a 24-year-old Englishman. Reports of what actually happened there seem sketchy; there will surely be more to come. September 4th 2010 will live long in the memory for many people.

Lifeline on Friday night was a much more pleasant experience and I'll be carrying on with the course for the time being at least. I have an assignment to hand in on Friday; I'll make a start on that tomorrow. I've also made an appointment to see WINZ at midday and will be catching up with Andy in the afternoon. Then in the evening I'll have my Italian class.

My maths lesson on Wednesday was a definite change in pace from some of my previous ones. I tutored a 13-year-old boy from Browns Bay who came from a family very unlike what I described in my last blog post. I proceeded to give a lesson on fractions, or try to. I asked him what a half plus a third was, but he was all at sea. In my next lesson I'll have to get right back to the basics of what a fraction is - I've printed out a series of factsheets from the BBC website. Judging by the hour I spent with him, I'd say he was five years behind in maths. I really want to help him. As we cover fractions I'll try and get him to learn his times tables at the same time.

I heard nothing more about that job, so my chances must surely have dropped from 25% to under 10%.

Bazza's Adventure: Part One

Alright legends, time to tell you about Sir Baz's last adventure. As you know, I was dropped from a rocket from the outer atmosphere with an unfinished parachute. Any other average bloke would've fallen to his death but I had my handy sewing kit with me and stitched up all the holes whilst in freefall. Landing on a huge pile of soft manure helped save me too. This also helped me hide the fact I had soiled myself a little bit.

I knew I was somewhere in the Australian Outback, near somewhere called the Nullarbor National Park. I was meant to trek north and find Lake Maurice. That's of course what those bloody idiot producers wanted me to do but what would they know hey? So I went in the opposite direction towards the ocean. The last time my producers dropped me into a desert all I could find to eat was ancient camel dung that was fossilised. It was impossible to digest and made my defecating experience later on interesting but painful and intense, like forcing sharp little razor blades through butter. Picture it.

I found out which way the ocean was by using one of my direction-inventing techniques. This one involved doing a break-dance head-spin for seventy-six revolutions and landing in an exactly south direction. Or was it north? Doesn't matter. Remembering how important it is to leave a signal for any rescuers, I made an arrow out of snake-skins and empty Victoria Bitter cans - obviously someone with real class had been camping here. Most likely gypsies. Good of them to leave behind such valuable minerals in easily degradable items such as tin cans. I'm sure mother-nature comes around to their house and defecates on their carpet, so fairs fair.

I had to make sure the arrow wasn't too easy to decipher though, with all the gorillas in the area who would kill me just to steal my ear wax to make soup. So I used my collection of items to create a large perfect circle and placed a trick arrow-head facing the wrong way. It's fantastic mind-blowing ideas like this that'll help keep you alive in the wildnerness chumps.

So off I went, my cameraman trying his best to keep up. At one point he was getting mauled by a ravenous echidna so I came to the rescue and used my extrasensory perception to convince the vicious animal to give Benny a Chinese massage instead. It ended up being more like acupuncture but sometimes transferring thoughts between species is difficult to be precise. Close enough.

Next I was a little bit thirsty and also needed to urinate. Perfect timing. Having used my bottle already to make a rocket to send a note home (which didn't work - apparently goanna saliva isn't explosive anymore) I had to find another way to return the hydrating and tasty liquid to my body. I thought I could just lay down and try to aim the flow in the right direction but from experience that has a low success rate and a lot of wastage. Instead I just cupped my hands and stopped the flow everytime I had filled up. My cameraman did the same although he didn't need to urinate. Sharing's caring.

I knew that we'd need to camp overnight somewhere so I filled up Benny's backpack with the largest rocks I could find to make the walls of our shelter. I then did the same with my own backpack but with light foliage for the roof. We needed to collect these items now as we didn't know what'd be available where we ended up. Benny of course complained but I said if he didn't shut-up I'd use my telepathic powers to send jugular-attacking desert rats his direction. He affectionately told me where to go. What a guy. Yeap top bloke.

It was now getting dark and Benny was having a tantrum like a spoiled toddler walking with his mother down the confectionary aisle. I decided it was probably time to settle down for the night so we made our shelter out of the material. Benny looked at me strangely as we finished up and said - "Um, there's only room for one person in there." Little did he know just how wrong he was. I had planned this all along. Night time in the desert can be so cold your balls retract back inside your abdomen so the best way to keep warm is to share body warmth. Benny then mentioned something about not wanting this to become Brokeback Bazza so he curled up by the fire, which I had started earlier using the sparks from smashing one of his spare video-camera batteries. I can't wait to see Benny's face when he realises how ingenious I was to think of using his supplies like that. He'll be stoked I bet.

I slept like a baby in my shelter. Don't ask me how I ended up spooning Benny, but I think he over-reacted a bit about my morning wood. For goodness sake, he knows I don't swing that way. I've got Sheila back home. Sheila's my girlfriend. She just doesn't know it yet. I'll break the good news to her when the time is right. Top sheila is Sheila. I love to remember our first kiss. I was unconscious at the time as she had just pulled me out of the raging surf one summer day. The waves were a good 6-7 inches when I swam out. Massive. But the silly girl wouldn't take me up on my offer for a date, which I thought was strange seeing as she was the one who kissed me in the first place. I'll never understand the complexities of a woman's psyche.

Anyway, I needed a good night's sleep as I was to get up early and go for a hunt. Bunyips come out only at the break of dawn and the only way to lure them into a trap is to yodel. I've never actually seen on in real life and they're so quick that every photograph I've seen is blurred. Apparently they look a bit like a monkey crossed with Tony Abbot... Hmmm.

At this point in our journey I was hungry enough to eat the dandruff from a gorilla so I needed to find something to eat and fast. The Bunyip hunt proved ungrateful, the bloody thing didn't like my pitch-perfect yodel. In fact all the animals in the area disappeared. So I chose the next best thing. Mud pies. Of course, there was no water around at this stage but plenty of dirt. Our now extra-concentrated urine made the perfect mixer. The pies gave me enough strength to capture and kill the next animal we came across. I am legally not permitted to mention which animal I allegedly killed as it is now extinct. I'll attach a photo of me munging away on the delicious raw bones of the creature. Just keep this picture to yourselves as it could be used as evidence against me.

The best way to eat anything - raw

Well people, I gotta run. I'll be back soon to finish off the story.