Saturday, 31 March 2012

Day 91: Race Bike Maintenance

I was in a bit of a maintenance mood today. One of the guys I'm riding dirt bikes with tomorrow needed to borrow my 1/2 inch drive torque wrench to get his bike ready for our outing so I figured I'd get the race bike out for a coolant flush and general check over while I was waiting for him to come over to borrow the tool.

The system hadn't been flushed after the previous owner's last couple of races, and as the bike had been sitting for a few months it was about time to give it a clean out... when I drained the water it wasn't entirely manky, but it was looking a little grubby.

I did an unusual thing before taking this maintenance on, it involved reading the service manual... or at least the part that pertained to the coolant system. So when I began I knew which hoses to disconnect and which to leave intact for a full system flush, this was refreshing as I usually just plow in ill-prepared hoping for the best.

Coolant flushes are normally an annual event for street bikes but they need to be performed far more frequently for race/track bikes because your average street bike uses a commercial coolant that contains rust inhibitors and race bikes only use water.

So why would that make a difference? Allow me to explain: Commercial coolant is extremely slippery when spilled on a race track (or any bitumen really) which becomes a legitimate hazard for other racers if you happen to stack it mid corner and spit coolant all over the apex of that corner.

The benefit of using water instead of commercial coolant is that it's readily available from the tap for free (unless you ride a race prepped Ducati that will only accept Evian in its coolant system). The only downfall is that you need to change the water frequently to ensure the engine doesn't corrode internally before its time.

In summary: The job was done, the water is now fresh and the bike which needed to get undressed for the maintenance is now fully clothed again and awaiting its first track day with me at the helm. Just another successful Saturday in the garage.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Day 90: Big Shoes To Fill

After his bath tonight Henry found my shoes on the lounge room floor and decided he'd try them on. He normally likes to wear Belinda's shoes around the house because they're easier for him to walk in, which if probably why the shoe wearing was short lived.

Henry's inherited his parents' fascination with shoes, he even wanted to take his sandals to bed tonight in place of the book we send him to bed with so he can read himself to sleep. The Sandal in question was pretty grubby so we decided not to let him take it to bed.

His love of shoes frustrates him at times though. The main causes of his frustration are either the shoe coming off and the inability to put it back on by himself, or the fact that his feet are growing so fast that sometimes the pair he wants to wear are too small for him.

Maybe that's why he likes to wear Belinda's or my shoes... they're so much easier for him to slip into and his feet won't outgrow them in a hurry.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Day 89: Lazy Coffee

After giving Belinda's parents one of the Aldi Coffee Pod machines for Christmas last year, we were pretty impressed with how easy it was to use and how good the coffee was. The coffee machines were very popular before Christmas and Belinda had to work pretty hard find one as most stores were out of stock within days and sometimes hours of getting them in.

Recently, Aldi have started advertising the machines again so this afternoon I thought I'd drop by to see if they had any in the Queanbeyan store on my to pick Henry up from daycare. They had plenty so on a whim I bought one along with a box of assorted pods.

My theory is that we can use the quick & easy Aldi machine for coffee during the week and save the more labour intensive traditional espresso machine for use on the weekends. It's really only Belinda who uses our big espresso machine during the week, so I figure I'll be saving her some effort making my coffees each morning... I'm quite the thoughtful husband aren't I.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Day 88: Fungus Free Fingers

A bit over a week ago, I discovered my old gloves in bit of a state. Today, I decided it would just be easier to replace them than to try getting all the mould off and stink out of them. For a reminder of how they looked, click here.

My new gloves are a bit of an improvement over the mouldy old ones and not just because they're a whole lot cleaner. They're made by Dainese who have a reputation for excellent quality that, unfortunately, goes hand in hand with high prices. Fortunately for me, I managed to negotiate a 25% discount from the bike shop. Im not sure if it was because I shop there fairly regularly and they've come to know me or whether it was because I helped them sell a back protector to a lady who was in the shop at the same time. Either way the discount brought these normally expensive gloves down to roughly the price I paid for my old gloves that were a far less prestigious brand. I do love a bargain.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Day 87: Ride Preparation

While I was doing the much needed maintenance on the Dirty Husky over the weekend I also added a camera mount for the Contour HD video camera that I haven't used yet. I thought it would be wise to check the camera over well before next weekend when I'm planning to capture a bit of footage in the Forest. There wasn't really that much to check over in the end, the Micro SD card was fitted, empty and ready to go and it was only the battery that needed some attention in the form of a charge.

Having never used the the Contour before I gave myself a quick read of the instructions before testing it out. I discovered that it is the coolest camera on the planet because it's got not one, but two lasers that are used to help you aim the camera when you mount it and to ensure that the lens, that rotates 180 degrees, is level.

A thought occurred to me when I discovered the lasers: If I could strap this camera to a shark it would be, in an approximation of the words of Dr Evil, "A frickin' shark with frickin' laser beams attached to its frickin' head". You just can't get any cooler than that.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Day 86: Naughty Nano

Some time late last year I received an email from Apple notifying me of a recall on my first generation iPod Nano. Apparently some of these naughty little iPods have had an issue with the battery which 'may overheat and pose a safety risk'. The good people at Apple offered to exchange my old iPod for a new one with a safer battery in the same email.

I eventually followed their instructions in early January by filling in the online forms and waited patiently for them to send me a small box to package my old iPod in to send off for exchange. I then promptly forgot about it all until today when I received another email from Apple saying my exchange had been cancelled. I was perplexed by this email so I called 'assistance' number to ask why, the nice lady on the other end of the line told me I'd taken too long to send the iPod back. I mentioned that I'd been waiting patiently for the packaging to be sent to me so I could return the iPod as per their instruction and she told me that they didn't do that anymore, the new process was to print off a return label and take it all to Aust Post. This would have been good information to have back in January.

Today's photo is of possibly the last time that I'll see my little black iPod (apart from handing it over the the post office tomorrow). I'll miss my little iPod... at least until I get the new, improved and safety enhanced Nano :)

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Day 85: Overdue Maintenance

It's been a while since my last dirt bike ride, it was actually on the 8th of January (I had to check dig through my previous posts to find the date, see here). Since the Dirty Husky became a Clean(ish) Husky for the first time in months yesterday, I decided it was a good time to get around to replacing the chain & sprockets. I bought the parts before Christmas and then became sidetracked with other things so the job didn't actually take place until today, more than 4 months later. You can't rush these things.

Even though it often takes me a while to get around to actually doing this kind of stuff, when I actually do it I get quite a sense of satisfaction out of completing the work myself. As it turned out the rear sprocket would probably have been fine for a while longer, the front sprocket on the other hand had teeth that could only be described as hooks which is a sure sign that its last legs. When the teeth are worn as far as this they become weaker and much more prone to snapping, they will also cause the chain to wear at a faster rate which isn't ideal. It's probably fortunate that managed to change them all over before my next outing.

So with two new sprockets, a new chain, having been freshly washed and also loaded into the trailer; the Dirty Husky is ready to earn its name again next weekend when I head out for the single trail of Tallaganda.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Day 84: Playing with Pressure

I took a quick trip down to Bunnings this afternoon to buy a pressure washer. I've been wanting one of these for a while now because they make cleaning the mud off my dirt bike a lot easier than just using the garden hose.

After putting it together I started testing it out on the Dirty Husky which hadn't been washed after my last outing on it over 2 months ago. I tried the two different nozzles out and was very happy with how they removed dried on dirt and mud but I kept getting interrupted by Henry who was very curious about what was going on and also by Belinda who kept asking for a go.

When Belinda took control she turned the pressure washer onto the outdoor stairs with impressive results. Of course I then wanted to have a go which lead to me doing a little pressure washer graffiti. You can see that I'm obviously very creative and artistic with my graffiti skills... but more so you can see how grubby the pavers are and what a difference the pressure washer makes.

I hope I'm allowed to use my new toy again, Belinda's now decided she needs it to pressure wash anything and everything she can find outside.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Day 83: Bed is Beckoning

I've been thinking about this all day... After two nights this week being woken by Henry who has then limited our sleep to around 4 hours each night I'm absolutely exhausted.

My poor little bloke hasn't reacted well to the multiple mosquito bites he has on his ankles. They were exposed on Tuesday afternoon when he was playing with Jenna in the back yard and the mozzies love him as much as they love his big sister. The bites have come up in big hard lumps and they've been driving him to crying, scratching frenzies that seem to start shortly after midnight.

I'm hoping for a solid night's sleep and tonight and a late wake up tomorrow.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Day 82: Pipped at Pickles

I spent a bit of time this afternoon trying to help Sue (Jenna's mum) replace her little car that was written off after being rear ended a few weeks ago. She'd tracked down a nice, low kilometer, ex Govt. Suzuki Swift that was being auctioned today at Pickles. It's the little green one with the bonnet up in the middle of today's photo.

As I used to buy the odd car or three at auction in my younger days, Sue asked if I could come along and to check the car out and do the bidding. Naturally I agreed because not only do I like to help out when I can but also because buying vehicles is one of my favourite pastimes. Unfortunately there was quite a bit of interest in this little car and when the bidding started we hit Sue's limit before the other parties hit theirs... So no joy for Sue today, but I'm sure the right car will turn up soon.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Day 81:Henry's New Hat

After a rough afternoon, Henry's mood improved when we opened his mail to reveal his new hat. Henry's Nan has been making sun hats for him since he was tiny and his latest appeared in our mailbox today.

This morning when I dropped Henry off to day care I didn't notice that he'd thrown his hat onto the floor of the car (he does this sometimes when bored or cranky) so he was hatless for the day. This could have presented a problem but Henry's become quite resourceful; when I picked him up this afternoon he had another child's hat on. He promptly threw that hat on the floor of the car when he spotted his own that he had been left behind this morning.

I'm sure this one won't be thrown on the floor anytime soon.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Day 80: Tall Mushies

After all the rain we've had lately I've noticed some strange looking 'shrooms growing along the path that leads from the car park to the office. I took this photo on my way back from grabbing an afternoon coffee using my cup to give some perspective on how tall these Mushie's have grown.

It's a very strange formation on this one, I've not seen this before and all the other equally tall Mushrooms nearby have narrow, elongated bell shaped heads on their long stalks so this one's quite unique. I have no idea what species these things are, but I am sure that none of them look particularly appetising.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Day 79: Kiwi Aliens

I was put onto this game for the iPad by one of the guys at work, it's actually called Tower Madness and it has become very addictive. It's even free on iTunes at the moment so grab it and give it a go before they go back to charging $7 for the game.

The object is to save your little flock of 10 sheep from the marauding Aliens who are dropped off at various sites and work their way toward the sheep. You save the sheep from abduction (and possible molestation - hence my inference that these particular Aliens are from NZ) by strategically placing different weapons around the map to intercept and hopefully destroy the Aliens.

It sounds easy enough, but there are different types of Aliens that require different strategies and weapons for success which keeps it challenging. Henry has watched me play a few times now but I've had to stop playing in front of him because he keeps yelling out "Baa Baa!" and trying to touch the sheep or just steal the iPad.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Day 78: Fungus Fingers

It's been a while since I last rode the bike, in fact the last time I had the R1 out I blogged about here. On the last ride I ended up getting a bit wet, the rain and hail did a good job of soaking me through my leathers. It seems after hanging my leathers up to air out, I forgot about the damp gloves inside my helmet. 

A little over a month of incubating inside my helmet has made the mess you see sitting on the seat of my bike. Initially, I thought an industrious spider had gone to town on the gloves... the smell was what made me realise what had really happened. The mould covers the gloves so completely that the fingers look to be fused together. The inside of the helmet looks marginally better than the gloves do, but it smells pretty bad and I'll need to remove the padding for a good clean out before I can wear it again.

Needless to say I used another helmet and gloves for my little ride this arvo.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Day 77: Not So Incy Wincy Spider

I've lived in Canberra my whole life, so Red Backs are a species of spider that I'm used to seeing in sheds and garages as well as occasionally indoors hiding under chests of drawers. Their presence has never really been that alarming to me because normally they're pretty small and are not particularly aggressive. This doesn't mean I like having them around and as we've noticed quite an influx of them in the garage lately it prompted me to take car of the matter with a 3 pack of bug bombs. I used all 3 in the garage, it had the desired effect: lots of dead bugs.

Wikipedia says the female Red Back typically has a body up to 10mm in length, while the Australian Museum says it's the size of a large pea.

This one was definitely on the larger side of the scale, in fact if I was ever served a pea this size, it would make me wonder whether it was genetically modified.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Day 76: More Shoes...

I'm starting to wonder whether I actually buy more shoes than Belinda; it's entirely possible that recently I have been buying more than I would normally but in saying so I have to also say that Belinda has quite the head start on me in these matters.

I bought this pair online, at $25 they were too cheap not to... I do love a bargain. I hadn't owned this brand before but with leather uppers and the skate shoe styling that I like in my casual shoes, I figured I had nothing to lose. As it turns out the shoes are very comfortable and I'm happy with this purchase that has brought me one step closer to having as many shoes as my wife... not sure that the latter is actually a good thing though.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Day 75: A Mint Sunset

On the way home from the pub this evening having still not taken a photo for the day, I thought I'd take advantage a cloud formation that was obscuring the sun as it was setting. I was heading down Adelaide Avenue from the City so I decided to turn off toward the Royal Australian Mint where I could take the photo from the sport fields that adjoin the Mint's car park.

I felt a lot of uncertainty as to how the photo would actually turn out as I was shooting directly into the sun and the tiny little screen on the hand-me-down Canon gives very little indication. Overall, I'm quite pleased with the photo, of course I've tweaked the image with a little of Snapseed's Drama setting.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Day 74: Speed Reading

Henry kept himself very well entertained by sitting up on the couch like a big kid and working his way through a selection of his books, he did this for the whole time it took me to cook the pasta and reheat the bolognese for his dinner tonight.

He very methodical when it comes to reading his books, there's a real process with steps that have to be taken along the way.

It starts with a pile of books to his left, he takes the one on top and flips through the pages points to the pictures he knows and yells out what it is, sometimes he just yells out random noises but I'm sure it means something to him. When he gets to the last page he waves to it yelling out 'Bye!' before he closes the book and moves it to his right.

This process is repeated with each of the books until they've all been moved from his left to his right, then he starts again working his way from right to left. Tonight this process took about 15 minutes, he was really motoring his way through them.

It's great to see his interest in books continue to grow, it's also great when he occupies himself while you're getting his dinner organised instead of getting under foot in the kitchen.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Day 73: Seat Swap

I got home a little early this arvo so I could swap Henry's seat out of the Commodore and into the BMW. He'll have his first ride in the new car tomorrow when I take him to day care, but I doubt he'll be as excited as I was about my first drive. That's ok, he'll learn the excitement of having a new car in the fullness of time.

I also transferred the ownership and put ACT rego on the car today. Now, just like Henry's seat, I need to get around to swapping the plates from the Commodore to the BMW. I've carried these plates from car to car for the last 6 years and once they're on the Beemer they'll have been on 5 cars in that time... Interesting hey?

Monday, 12 March 2012

Day 72: The New Car At Last

The new car - a 2006 BMW 530d. I took this photo on the way home today, the plan was to stop at every tourist trap between Coburg & Canberra.

The first was Glenrowan with the big Ned Kelly, it was pretty busy and it was very hard to get a good photo of the car with Ned.

The Ettamogah Pub was next on the list, I actually drove past it and had to make a U-turn to go back... I was sure I didn't see the signs leading up to the turn off. Turns out I didn't, they've been pulled down and the Pub's closed. At least it was easy to get a photo of the car with the Pub in the backround.

After Ettamogah is Holbrook with the enormous submarine that somehow landed in regional NSW a very long way from its natural habitat.

I knew I was getting closer when I pulled in to Gundagai, I was starting to feel pretty tired too. As I was grabbing a coffee I heard someone yelling out my name... It was my brother Dion who was driving a truck in the opposite direction and had pulled in for some fuel. After a quick catch up and showing off of the new car we headed our separate ways.

Eventually I made it home, the car and I travelled around 760km and the fuel gauge is showing about half way between the quarter and half tank marks. So far I'm pretty impressed with my purchase.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Day 71: Back to Melbourne

Almost a month after my last flight to Melbourne I'm finally on my way back to pick up my car. Isn't funny how a few weeks can seem like forever when you're waiting for something that you're really looking forward to...

At least the wait is almost over and I'll be on the road for the long drive home in my new car tomorrow. I also get to catch up with my cousin Steph tonight, this will be the second time that I've crashed at her place when buying a vehicle from Melbourne. The last time was about 2 years ago when I bought my first race bike, it's been convenient having a place to crash and is always great catching up with my cuz.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Day 70: A Whole Lot Of Hot Air

Today we all went to the lawns of Old Parliament House to see the balloons, this involved getting up far too early for a Saturday morning. Even though we were up early, we missed most of the balloons and by the time we arrived there were only 4 balloons still inflated.

These two were by far the most interesting.

I like this photo above the plethora of others I took today for a number of reasons:
1. I liked the contrast of the orange and brown kangaroos against the cloudless blue sky
2. About 5 minutes before this photo the kangaroos were facing each other looking like they were having a fight, in this photo it amused me to think they were 'making up' after their little tiff.
3. From this angle it looks like the kangaroos are mid way through doing strange basket shaped poops.

I think next time we'll have to get up even earlier and show up before the sun rises so we can see more than 4 balloons.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Day 69: Renewed Racer

I renewed my AASA Race Licence at the start of Feb, unfortunately it took a while to arrive. Not that it matters much as the race series I'll be competing in hasn't started yet. The bigger concern is that I haven't ridden the new race bike yet, I really need to find time to get out and do some practice on it before the racing starts.

It's funny how life throws up funny little coincidences every now and then. Today is day 69 of my Project which is when my renewal showed up and last year my racing number was also 69. It was on the old bike when I bought it and I ran with it. I've always like the ying yang style symmetry the number 69, if the number's available in the BEARS series this year I think I'll run with it again on the new bike.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Day 68: Last to Leave

I don't really like blogging about my job because I don't think anyone would find it very interesting. So far I've managed to avoid it, but tonight was an unusual event for me in that I was the last to leave the office.

It's rare that I feel the need to work back late, so I tend not to. It's not that I have anything in particular against it, it's just not usually required. However tonight, I stayed back to work on a proposal that if successful will generate substantial revenue for the business and in turn a tidy commission for me. So the Commodore was the last car in the car park, apart from the two courier vans that stay in the car park overnight.

Staying back meant I didn't get home until close to 7pm. Just before I made it home Belinda rang to ask where I was. In hindsight I probably should have called to let her know as Belinda had assumed that I'd been at the pub. I guess it is a fair assumption to make on a Thursday evening and it really is a far more likely reason for me being home late than what was actually the case tonight.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Day 67: Towel Toddling

Tonight, between Henry's bath and the time it took us to pin him down for his nappy, he thought running around the lounge with his bath towel over his head was the funniest thing ever. I thought it was pretty funny too, so I snapped a few quick photos most of which I couldn't use because he was just a little 'too' naked. I was very impressed that he managed not to fall over or run into anything, in fact the only time he got upset was when the towel fell and he couldn't quite get the towel cover his head to the desired degree.

It did take us a while to coax him into putting a nappy on, he was having so much fun we didn't really push it that much... but there's only so long you can leave it before the risk of leakage on the carpet becomes very real. It's happened before... and Henry thought that was pretty funny too.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Day 66: Ripping the Stick

With minimal encouragement from Jenna this afternoon, I finally got the RipStick out to have a go. It's  an odd looking contraption that has a rollerblade style wheel mounted on a swiveling caster at each end. With this one, just to make it more interesting, they made it so each end can twist in opposite directions. They're also known as caster boards.

This was the toy that came in the Showbag from the Canberra Show that I shared with Jenna. The sharing worked out pretty well, Jenna got all the lollies (they were gross... only a 10 year old could possibly want them) and I got the cool toy that Jenna didn't want.

Today Jenna was my special guest photographer today and she did a great job capturing the action in this shot, unfortunately she only caught half of my head. It was just before I lost balance and had to casually step off the strange two wheeled contraption. Now that I think about it, perhaps it was fortunate that only half of my head was captured. The facial expression may have been a little different to 'casual' as I was losing balance.

Belinda commented tonight that I was such a Dag playing with kids toys that Henry would think I was a really cool Dad... Not really sure how to take that... or what she meant. Regardless; it was fun and I'll rip this stick again.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Day 65: Eyesore

Here's my thought for today: It's weird looking at a photo of your own eyes, you get so used to seeing them in the mirror that when you're focussed on one in particular it's odd seeing it on what appears to be the opposite side of your head. 

I had this epiphany today when I was investigating my left eye, it had been a bit sore most of the day and by the time I'd had dinner it felt like there was a lump of gravel under my eyelid. This happens to me a bit and usually it's just a wayward eyelash, this time I couldn't find anything. 

At least it put an interesting thought into my head and I got photo a out of it.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Day 64: Cheese & Crackers

Belinda and I shared some Double Brie and Sesame Crackers before dinner tonight and Henry felt he needed to join in. Henry hasn't had much experience with cheese & crackers but he worked it out pretty quickly: The cheese is the good part, why waste time with the cracker?

The cracker in his hand was the first one I gave him, however the cheese hanging out of his mouth was the 3rd slice I'd cut for him. He kept bringing the cracker back for refills, each time I had to put the slice on the cracker so he could carry it back to his couch like it was on a little saucer. I have to admit I like his style. Unfortunately it meant that Belinda and I shared much more of our little treat than we intended... I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree after all.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Day 63: Dale's Door

After the installation of the new garage door opener for Belinda's side of the garage, and the associated remote control that is nice and small, I was tempted to do a little covert rearrangement so Belinda's car would only fit on the old door side. Fortunately my laziness and eBay search skills combined to remove the need for all that rearranging.

I found a new remote to suit the old garage door opener for just under $25 delivered and it was in the mailbox when I got home last night. Today I spent 5 minutes following the instructions supplied with the remote programming the garage door opener to respond to the new remote and then reprogramming the old remote so it would also work... unfortunately the new code I was given for the old remote didn't work, so only the new remote would open the old door.

This is where the good news part of the story kicks in: I emailed the eBay seller requesting the correct code for the old remote and within 20 minutes I had a reply with a link to a video on how to reprogram the new remote to the old remote's frequency. So I followed the instruction again and this time both remotes worked perfectly. This is among the best service I've had from any eBay seller and I'm happy to recommend these guys to anyone who needs (or just wants) a replacement garage remote.

The seller is 'ozremotes', they seem to have a pretty good range of remotes for garage doors. If you're in the market check them out:

Friday, 2 March 2012

Day 62: Happy Little Sucker

Henry's bath time usually involves dodging cups of water being flung at you and a lot of splashing. Tonight I thought I'd try to hide one of his cups by sticking it to his back. It took him a while to notice.

This turned into a bit of a game that Henry changed when he decided he wanted the cup stuck to his tummy instead of his back where he couldn't reach it. The only problem with sticking it to his tummy was that he'd get the giggles and then flail about until he knocked the cup from its precarious suction induced perch.

I'm still not 100% sure that Henry enjoyed this game as much as I did...

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Day 61: The Raging Damp

We've had some rain over the last couple of days and today it seemed to ramp up a bit: Canberra Avenue was closed between Narrabundah and Fyshwick from about 11am, parts of Queanbeyan were already flooding and there were large pieces of tree floating around the East Basin of Burley Griffin again.

This afternoon I thought I'd head to Scrivener Dam to see how much water was flowing over the wall. Normally all you can see is a wall of concrete and a pathetic little creek trickling from the bottom of the wall, not so today.

The rush of all that water flowing over the edge made quite a noise and the churning foam on top of all that dirty brown water was enough to draw a steady stream of onlookers. I think a quarter of Canberra had the same idea I did in coming out for a bit of a sticky beak.