Sunday, August 31, 2008

Package karma

Sometimes I receive mail for former tenants from my apartment. Generally, if it's not important, I throw it away. If it seems important, I return to sender it. But with packages, they don't get delivered, I just get a package slip to go pick it up at the post office. Of course, I can't pick up the package, cause it's not addressed to me. Fair enough.

But then they send a reminder to come get the package. So I'm thinking maybe there's some one this girl hasn't given her new address to, whatever, it will get sent back to the sender. A few days later my mail box is stuffed (in the American sense, not the Australian one). There's a very thin package in my box. Also addressed to the former tenant. Wasn't sure exactly what to do with it. But it was from the states, and the customs form said swimwear. Now, that's intriguing.

So I thought, I'll open it and see if I can return it to the vendor. Well, it's a swimsuit top, green, this one in fact:

I can return it, but it will cost me $40 to ship it back. And I don't have the tenant's forwarding address. Yeah, so I tried it on. But it doesn't really fit, and it's only the tops. Now what do I do with it?

Now I think this transaction has ruined my package karma. Last week I got a package slip of my own. I picked it up on my way to work. Or rather, I made a detour on my way to work to get the package, but since it's not on my way, I had to take a second bus. Which the first time it came by was too packed to take on more passengers. So I had to wait. By the time I finally made it to work, I was running late. I got off the bus and started walking to work. I was on the bridge when one of my coworker's caught up with me and made a comment about our both running late. It was then that it occurred to me that I'd left the package on the bus, and the bus was already gone.

I got into work and called translink, turns out they don't run this bus, city council does. I call city council, turns out the bus could have gone to one of 4 different depots, and that I should wait til the following day to call back. I've called back, it's not there.

So I've screwed my package karma. If you'd like to test out my package karma, may I recommend sending to my work address.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oy! Oy! Oy!

A few thoughts on watching the Olympics from Australia:

Give me the medal count, I'll show you my country is on top.
American news is always touting the total medal count. China shows the count ordered by gold medals. Australians like to show the medal count per capita, which was showing them on top until Armenia, Slovenia and the Bahamas got medals.

Bring on the Asian.
Seriously, who thought this was a good idea?
How about, after Stephanie Rice won her race, the comedy team that polled random Chinese people to see if they "love rice?"

The American basketball team is still called the "Dream Team."
(Thanks, Paul, for pointing this one out)

Gymnastics are still part of the summer games.
Aussies are good athletes (just check that per capita medal table). But, due to the massive number of events, and all those great Aussie athletes, the coverage focuses on Aussie sports like swimming, polo or basketball. Australians are terrible gymnasts. It's easy to forget that there's even gymnastics at the games.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Noosa Training Camp

This weekend I went up to Noosa on the Sunshine Coast. My next big tri is in Noosa on November 2. It's the largest olympic distance triathlon in Australia and has been called the best olympic distance tri in the world. Noosa is 12 weeks out, so the squad went up to Noosa to practice on the course and all in all have a good weekend of working on our endurance.

The weekend boiled down pretty quickly to a routine: exercise, eat, sleep, repeat. I arrived on Friday afternoon, got changed and went for an hour and a half run out along the national forest. It was spectacularly beautiful with the sun setting as we climbed the cliffs out to the furthest outcrop and tried to first avoid the wedding guests and later to navigate through the forest in the dark. It was a nice run, but the course was a bit sandy, and my shin splint started acting up again. The run is followed by dinner and sleep.

Saturday morning starts with a 6:30am ride (yay, it's a sleep in!). We ride most of the Noosa course which includes a 3km winding climb. It's not too steep, but it's 16 switchbacks and it's through eucalyptus forest. I started in the back, but made my way up past all but 2 of the other riders by the top of the hill. We then rode out through some undulating hills and did some standing practice up some really steep ones. I'm getting much better at standing. Back to the resort and we have breakfast and I take an hour nap.

At 11:30 we head down to the beach for a nice long swim. Most of the team has wetsuits. I do not. I probably will buy one soon, but with water temperatures at 19 degrees, it was not completely unreasonable to swim just in my suit. The swim was around 2.2k in the end. Then, of course, lunch and another nap.

This nap was not as easy to rise from. At 3:30 I woke up for our 4pm run and decided I could snooze for another 15 minutes. At 3:45 I had to start talking myself out of bed "Get Uuuuuuup! Get Uuuuuuup!" My legs, by this point, were dead. But I made it out for the run. It was supposed to be along the actual Noosa course, but we cut it a bit short cause of traffic. Once we got moving my legs actually felt much much better. 45 minutes later and we were done for the day. Time for a real shower complete with soap!

The whole weekend was social with the squad but due to the high number of hours we spent training and the propensity to nap in between sessions, it wasn't as social as I had anticipated. Saturday night every one was just wiped out and knew that the following day held a repeat of this day's activities. I think the earliest to bed was around 8, and I don't think any one made it much past 10:30.

Sunday morning, back on the bikes at 6:30. This time more undulating hills after 45 minutes the group split up with those who were knackered heading back. I continued on with 6 others from the squad. And it was great. We rode in a tight pack, which is awesome. It's easy to go fast, and easy to hang onto the back of the person ahead of you. Plus, we were on a nice flat stretch. We then caught up with the super fast group (they started riding at 5:15). And we hung onto them for 30 minutes going about 5km/hr faster than we'd been going. This was fantastic, big group, good riding skills and with the blood flowing to my legs, I didn't even notice how tired they were. Til we got back to the hills. Then, they dropped me, it'd been 2 hours on the road and I just couldn't hack it. By the time we got back I was lightheaded and my hands and feet were numb.

More breakfast and a quick leg massage instead of a nap, then off to our last session: one more ocean swim. This one was a bit shorter since the boat we had swum to on Saturday was no longer mored in the harbour. We swam a triangle, at the first stop the coach essentially said you can swim back if you want, but you've got to ask yourself "Am I tired, or am I just lazy?" Yeah, so I swam the whole thing.

What a great way to end another year.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


Coffee is a cultural obsession in Australia. Some claim it's the influence of Italian immigrants last century, but regardless of the impetus Australians love their coffee. And they're snobby about it. They have their own names for coffees a "no-foam latte" is a "flat white" (my personal favorite). They also serve a "long black" which is just shot of espresso with extra water.

I'm not quite the fanatic that Melbournians are, but I enjoy a good coffee, and I need a coffee, regardless of quality, each and every morning. The UniQuest office has a good coffee machine, complete with a milk steamer, and we're only charged $1 for it, a significant savings over most $3 coffees around campus. The ITEE tea room has a coffee machine as well, and also charges just $1. So every morning I can choose, do I want to visit my UniQuest colleagues, or hang out with the nerds. I've been trying to hang out with the nerds more, it is my job.

Last week, the UniQuest coffee machine broke. This was devastating to most, but I, of course, could visit the ITEE tea room and continue on my merry way. This week the UniQuest coffee machine is back in order, but I visited it on Monday and some one had left milk in the steamer over the weekend. It was disgusting and nearly put me off milk entirely. This morning I opted for the ITEE tea room since the image of curdled milk in the steamer hasn't quite left me. But this morning there was something wrong with its steaming apparatus. Just steam, no milk. :-(

Now, like I said, I'm no coffee snob, but I'm really hurting for a good cuppa.

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