Friday, October 31, 2008

What Australian's think of the US election

This is a publicly funded radio program.

And, in other news

And, in other news, I'm heading up to Noosa today for the triathlon tomorrow. Results will be posted here:

My only previous olympic distance was Mooloolaba. I finished that in 2:51. So my goal for Noosa is something in the 2:40s. I expect the swim to be about the same (30 min), the bike to be faster (<1:28),>51). Better remember to pack my watch. I start at 7:26am AEST, which is 5:26pm Saturday EDT. I think the race will be covered by channel 7 here.


I was a coxswain at uni. I coxed all four years. In the end, I loved it and I hated it. Coxing is a thankless job. Steering is difficult, but keeping your crew happy is the hardest bit. What do you say when the boat is constantly off set? Or when you're with a crew who would rather be rowing a coxless boat? Or when you've just been passed by another boat? It's hard. And when I look back I have some very fond memories from junior year (Head of the South, Head of the Occoquan, Dad Vail), but that wasn't most of the time I was on the water. Most of the time, it was a struggle.

I've only coxed a handful of times since I left uni, and they were resoundingly bad. It takes time to develop a rapport with a crew and a coach. So, when my company entered 3 boats in the corporate regatta, I was hesitant. I am a triathlete now, not a cox. And I thought I'd rather row than cox. But really, I only have one day off a week from training, and I like it. I didn't want to lose it, so I declined from participating.

But this week, one of the boats was down a cox, and I was asked to fill in. I agreed because I've not been running anyway, so my training schedule is a bit light. And... it was great!

It was so much fun to be back in the coxswain seat. Particularly with a novice crew. My rowing knowledge came back quickly, and I felt like I knew what to say to help them get better at rowing. And though there were a few terminology issues (they call port side stroke side, and starboard side bow side - I still don't know what they call it when it's bucket rigged), it was smooth sailing. I may have broken my bow seat's spirit by the end, but I think they were all the better for it.

The race is the 23 of November. I'll be in Canberra that weekend, but I'll be with them in spirit.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sushi Quest, part 1

Australian sushi is different. The two forms most commonly found are either takeaway rolls or trains. The takeaway rolls are great for a quick lunch. They are standard 4 in rolls that haven't been sliced, so you just eat them with your hands and they typically come with a small plastic fish filled with soy. Generally, the only raw fish you'll get in these is salmon and even that is not always available. More often than not, you'll find smoked salmon, cooked tuna and cooked chicken in these rolls. Still for $2.20, it's a bargain, and three of them make a good lunch.

The sushi train is definitely an experience. I had heard of these in the states, yet never seen one there. Small coloured plates of sushi traverse a conveyor belt that runs by your seat. Generally you get standard stock in these: tuna, salmon and prawn nigiri, salmon and avo rolls. A few places get more adventurous: salmon avocado and onion rolls! But most go really heavy on the mayo, which is just sort of gross. Especially considering that neither you nor the servers have any idea how long the sushi is sitting on the belt for. I reckon it's less than a day, but I don't think any thing else can be guaranteed.

I've decided I need real, American-style sushi. A place with a sushi bar, sans conveyor belt. An itamae who makes the sushi to order. Once a week, I'll try a new sushi joint, and post my findings. Invitation is open to any one in brissie interested in trying out some places.

Last night was the first night. I went to Oshin at Adelaide and Creek in the city. When I arrived there was only one other patron. I sat at the sushi bar and ordered tea, edamame and nigiri. They had yellowtail which was exciting cause it's not a staple of sushi bars the way it is in the states. The tea was cold, but the edamame was hot. And the itamae didn't start making my nigiri til I was done with the edamame. Salmon, tuna and yellowtail. Soooooo good. I judge good fish by a few things, but one big test is if I can bite through the fish. I guess before that is, do I need to bite through the fish. These pieces were large, easily two bites. And each piece gave way easily. The tuna was by and far the stand out: dense and rich.

I guess regardless of where I went last night, it would have been the best sushi I've had in brissie, but I think Oshin may be a standout. Next week's pick will have its work cut out.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Signs of spring

1. The jacarandas are out. They are these gorgeous purple flowering trees (pictured above from the balcony at work). Unlike certain stingy harbingers of spring (dogwoods, I'm looking at you), the jacarandas ignite with blossoms and stay in bloom for weeks. Under each tree is a carpet of purple flowers. They're nicknamed flame trees in this song which I find stuck in my head every time I see one:

(I prefer this version to the original, which you can youtube yourself.)

2. With the sun rising earlier in the morning and the lack of daylight savings time in Queensland, I'm beginning to redevelop my cycling knicks tan, that solid line across the thighs above which is pale and below which is tan.

3. The magpies are out. And they don't like cyclists. They attack cyclists in fact. As a result, many riders attach zipties to their helmets creating spokes. Others put eyes on the back of their helmets. Though the best solution I've seen was a combination of both: big googly eyes on springs sticking up from the helmet. So far, knock on wood, I haven't been attacked.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Civil obligations

I have voted in every federal election since I turned 18. But this time my absentee ballot hasn't arrived. I only asked for it in July. It's now two weeks til the election. I can download a "Back-up Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot" and send that in which means I have to go through more trouble, more forms, more international postage and for what? This ballot won't be counted since I'm required to vote in MA.

Is it worth it?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Top ten lists I don't get

I got an email today. A forward. The Top Ten Things Only Women Understand . Maybe it's me, but I just don't get it.

Sure, I get number 9: the need for the same style of shoes in different colours. But certainly there must be some men who get that too. How about most of the men in my office who own the same shoe in brown and black. And so what if I don't know the difference between beige, ecru, cream, off-white and eggshell (number 5). Does that make me less of a woman? And if the number 1 thing that only women understand is other women then I feel like we'd see a lot more lesbian couples out there.

I guess I just thought the days of shopping around the same old, tired stereotypes for a chuckle and an "amen, sister!" were over. Maybe I've been reading too much Bitch magazine.

Is it wrong that I would be more tolerant of this sort of email if it went to my personal mail rather than my work mail?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ride Report: Brisbane to Gold Coast

Distance covered: 100.8km
Time: 3h 58m
Average speed: 25km/hr
Bananas: 3 (2 lady fingers, 1 standard, all unripe)
Gu's: 4
Muesli bars: 2
Trips to the bathroom: 3

Several of my co-workers had signed up to do the ride ages ago. Last week, I decided to the join the group. It was my first 100K ride since the Adelaide-Melbourne tour. And as it turned out, my first 100K ride that was not in the rain.

I felt much fitter this time than 5 months ago. Can't tell whether this is cause I am fitter, or cause it was only one day of 100K at a much slower speed. Either way, it was heaps of fun. There were two rest stops with food, water, bathrooms, mechanics where we all caught up after thinning out on the road.

The course was great until the very end. The first 15K or so were through the busway, which had been vacated by buses. It was nice open road, no cars to contend with, though a surprising number of flat tires on that part of the course. Then we travelled along smaller country roads with some car traffic. Finally as we got into Southport we were down to two lane roads, with lots of weekend traffic. The Gold Coast has a lot of waterways, and thus a lot of little bridges over canals. And with this being the end of the day, people were really struggling to get up and over these bridges and were causing a lot of congestion with other riders. I think, had we taken a bit less time in the rest stops this wouldn't have been so big a deal.

One of the cool things about racing around SE QLD is that I start to see areas multiple times. Today's ride included some of the ride from last week's triathlon and a bunch of the half marathon course from July. I don't really know these areas - they just look familiar to me. Still it's a pretty cool feeling to think "cool, I've done this course before, I peed behind that tree!"

Friday, October 10, 2008

Grand Re-Opening

Well here it is folks! The new and improved (and public) blog. Subscribe to your heart's contents.

In other news, tomorrow is the Brisbane to Gold Coast 100K ride. It will be the first 100K ride I've done since the Adelaide to Melbourne tour. If weather predictions hold, it will also continue the trend of only ever riding 100K rides in the rain. Woohoo.

Pay cuts

here's what the currency exchange has done over the last year. When I arrived the AUD was worth about 86c USD. From there it went up, almost one to one, but it's always sorta hovered around that area. This means things in Australia are expensive relative to the US.

But recently, it's taken a serious dive. Today it's trading at 66c. This means a few things:

1. I'm rich! All my US savings, where most of my money is is worth almost 25% more than it was when I arrived, what a fantastic return!

2. I've gotten a serious pay cut. I knew leaving BCG would be a big pay cut, but every time the AUD falls it's like I'm getting another pay cut. Sorta hurts. Not sure what this will mean for my earning potential when I get back to the states.

3. Things just got a whole lot cheaper. So sure, my salary just took a nose dive, but so did my rent, my groceries and my tri fees. Sweet.

4. Now is a great time to be paying my aussie taxes with USD. Glad I've held off on moving that money over. Wonder what rate I use when I file my US taxes next year.

Monday, October 06, 2008

New blog format!

I've decided the old blog needed a facelift, so here we go. What'd you reckon? Too gray? It's made me realize how few pictures of brisbane I have. I mean, sure I could put an opera house picture up... but I don't live in sydney. You like the wombat? I guess to be fair, this pict is from South Australia, not Brissie either. Hmmf.

I'm also thinking about no longer requiring a password to read the blog. I think this would mean that you could subscribe to the blog more easily and get updates to your blogreader (unless blogger has changed the way this works in the last year). Useful? Not useful? Given that I'm no longer working for Noel, I could take down posts related to indigenous affairs and then it becomes more of a life/travel blog.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Race Report: Gold Coast Sprintman

Today was my first (and hopefully only) "low-impact-athon". And, you know what? It was great. The race was a bit shorter than an Olympic (1000m swim vs 1500m, 33K bike vs 40K, 7K run vs 10 - though it was even shorter for me since I didn't do the run). A few lessons:

1. Wearing a wetsuit is advantageous for a deep water start. It (a) keeps you warm and (b) keeps you afloat without much effort.

2. Getting out of said wetsuit is actually easier when it's wet than when it dry. This is not to say that it's easy.

3. If you can't run, don't try to walk the run. I didn't do this, but the two other girls on my squad who did ended up jogging. I know I would have been tempted and I don't want to do anything that will jeopardize Noosa.

4. If you tell some one in their first race that they shouldn't bother with the weight of a spare tire since it's really unlikely that they'll get one, then they will definitely get a flat tire 500 meters into the race. My sincerest apologies to Julie. I've never gotten a flat in a race ever, and now she'll never get another, I'm sure.

5. Racing against a larger field is better than just racing within the squad. The girls on the squad are fast. One came in 2nd in her age group, 2 others placed 4th and 5th in theirs. It was nice to be in a big enough field to have people at my level and to be able to cheer on my team as we went.

6. Some one misspelled triathlon on our tent. Go Brisbane Triathalon Squad!

Thursday, October 02, 2008


I have flat feet. And I walk like a duck. It's just the way I'm made, and it's not a way that's good for running.

Since I first started running in 2001, I've gotten shin splints. I usually manage them by orthotics, good shoes and just not running all that much. In Cairns I pretty much limited my running to twice a week.

I got new orthotics in March when my old ones started to disintegrate. But it seems the new ones just aren't quite cutting it. I got a shin splint in my right leg in May. My training for the half marathon suffered cause I'd run, the splint would come back, I'd take a week off, run again, the splint would come back... But things didn't start to get really bad til the Noosa training camp weekend. That weekend, I neglected to bring my strong anti-inflammatories and a good long run on three consecutive days on tired legs was the death of me.

The shin started hurting all the time, walking, running, lying in bed, I was in pain. I continued to try to treat it with rest, ice and AIs, but it just wasn't cutting it. I asked the assistant coach and he gave me some stretches to do. The following practice it was still really angry, so I asked the head coach and he sent me to physio. It was so painful the first time I went to physio he could barely touch it.

When I went to the states, I didn't bring my running shoes. The plan was for a good solid two weeks off. But now I'm back. I ran about 3Ks with my foot taped up, which felt better, then about 1K with it untaped. At which point the head coach benched me again saying I looked like Terry Fox (see video below).

My first triathlon of the season is Sunday, and it will also be the first triathlon I've started but won't finish. My orthotics are back with the podiatrist now for adjustment, and my coach thinks I shouldn't run for another 3 weeks, and even then it will be a slow process to get back into real running.

I hate it. I hate not being able to go out and do it. I hate missing practice. And I hate that I can't do anything about it except wait.

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