Single speed Z-Biking

Back in the 90′s, before most of you were born, yours truly Dino Borelli flirted very briefly with a little Triathlon around the Waikato region. I puffed my through a lot of sprint-length Tris, some Olympic distance ones, eventually admitting I totally sucked at the Swimming component and didn’t particularly enjoy gargling cow-shed run-off in the Waikato river so gave it up to focus on the wonders of Cycling.

I bought the pictured O’Brien 653 Reynolds frame from my mate Rene who managed then Pinn’s Cycles in Hamilton. The Pinn’s guys built it up for me using some new components, and some borrowed from my old Bosomworth (fabulous name, and a nice bike, wish I’d kept it) and I had the frame painted in the Z-Team colours as at the time I was a fan of the mighty Greg Le Mond (my first, last and likely only American idol).

Resplendent in it’s retro livery I spent many a Sunday bunch-ride and work lunch-hour abusing the eye-sockets of fellow riders. Eventually the bikes running gear fell into disrepair and I had also discovered the wonders of powered cycles. Thus, tragically the O’Brien steadily gathered dust at the back of the car-port with the only thing protecting it from complete annihilation being the excess of chain-oil from its final few rides.

With my recent change in employment status (another story perhaps) and following a couple of weeks of watching of the relatively drug-news-free Tour de France and Vuelta a España I got a terrible case of the guilts. Subsequently I set aside an entire day of sub-employment to strip down and deep clean the old girl and prep it for conversion to single-speed as all the cool kids (myself obviously included) seem to be doing.

The bare frame and rims were shuttled down to Cycle Time on Kahikeatea Drive in Hamilton, a quick chat with one of the mechanics and a couple of days later the bike you see in the photo above was back in my hot little hands. Lost the 53t chain-ring and all but one sprocket on the cassette (now a 42×16). Original free-wheel hub is still there as I aint manly enough to go fixed-wheel, at least not yet. Had a tensioner pulley fitted as the drop-outs not suitable to allow for chain adjustment etc, had new handle-bar tape and hood covers fitted, dropped a pair of bullet-proof 23mm diameter tires on her, replaced the brake-pads, and now she’s all good to go.

All I gotta do know is pluck up the courage to get on the roads in the morning and get a few commutes under my belt to the new job. Watch out Hamilton… here comes Z-Team !!!

Great Toilet Usability Disasters

toilet.jpg We have a toilet down the corridor from us that happens to be the closest and most convenient location for daily ablutionary activity. It also happens to possess a number of classic toilet usability disaster features which I detail following for your edutainment. Really makes me wonder how much thought people put into toilet design, and whether it is a topic of focus in engineering/architectural schools. I suspect not.

Awkward building location – the toilet itself is positioned in a very narrow corridor which is often crowded with students waiting to get into a lab and the door to the toilet opens outwards into that corridor, this makes for some “uncomfortable” exits at times. Also, the adjacent lab room is fitted out with audio equipment. I’m sure the sound of a toilet flushing (and other audible delights) every few mins is just what people want to when they’re concentrating on listening.

Service duct proximity – the toilet is a reasonable size but shares the space with a building service duct. this means if theres any servicing needs doing the poor workman has to operate in a toilet, and potential toilet customers need to go elsewhere for relief. On the plus side the sound of water in the duct pipes can assist with expediting your own fluid processing.

Door lock finger jamming – the door has one of those conventional rotating knobs used to lock the door from the inside, but its mounted hard up against the door jam which means as you twist the lock there’s a good chance you will pinch your finger between the lock and the jam

Dodgy seat mounting point – this is the most distressing aspect from a visual perspective. without going into too much detail the essential problem is that a seat of the wrong size has been mounted on the bowl which means falling matter has a tendency to collide with the top of the porcelain and miss the water altogether. Despite the forces of gravity you generally need to flush two or three times to save the next visitor an unsightly and unwelcome visual experience.

Handling a service-station refuelling fire

petrol pump

A good friend of mine who works for a major fuel company in NZ emailed a serious and responsible guideline to me this morning to encourage safe responses to refuelling fire incidents in petrol stations. Following is my edited version which you are unlikely to see posted up at your local outlet…

Static-related incidents while fuelling our passenger vehicles are rare but possible. BUT what should you do in the unlikely event of a flash fire at the refuelling nozzle?

  1. SCREAM – its very important that station forecourt staff are alerted to the emergency as soon as possible, scream like a girl !!!
  2. RUN LIKE HELL – leave the nozzle in the car, your crap car needs replacing and in a few minutes will be a smouldering heap of plastic and metal, and if some anal superhero fool pulls an extinguisher out of their boot and saves your car you may get a few litres of free fuel in all the confusion. Dont worry about being run-over by another vehicle as a broken leg will mend in a couple of months whereas 3rd degree burns are with you for life
  3. GO BACK AND SAVE YOUR FAMILY – your initial instinct and indeed the proper reaction is to run like hell (see step 2) and this is important as if you cant protect yourself you cannot then go back and save your family. Save them now!
  4. NOW READ THE MANUAL – after following steps 1 through 3 above, please now consult the service station manual (or email sent by a petrol company employee friend) issued to detail just how you should react to this situation. by the time you’ve read or recalled the contents of the manual your car will be a wreck but this will give you time to get your story right for the insurance agents and ACC officer

The Hungry Hippy Saves the Worm… Almost

Blackbird and wormWalking back from the food-halls to my office just now I glanced down at the glorious steaming-hot container of chilli-Squid and pickled cabbage I’d purchased and began to entertain thoughts of sympathy for the glorious sea-creature that had died to fuel my bodily functions.

It wasn’t a long walk back so the Squid wasn’t gonna be receiving too many conciliatory thoughts, and the poor cabbage was never gonna get a look-in (Cabbage-empathy isn’t something I’ve experienced, yet). Thankfully I was distracted about half-way by a Black-bird hopping into the garden to avoid me leaving behind a big juicy Earthworm to squirm in a clearly panicky and disoriented manner across the footpath.

The evil hippy-ways of my father-in-law brushed aside thoughts of the Squid for a moment and attempted to direct me instead to save the poor worm from violent Avian digestion and certain demise.

I almost stopped in my tracks…. but ultimately came to my senses, consoling myself that I was witnessing the natural order of things and that intervening could actually disturb the space-time-continuum.

So it was my attention reverted to satisfying my grumbling tummy, realising now that Squid are horrible beastly creatures that deserve to be eaten.

A Case of the Trots

MarmiteKiwis will know what I mean by “the Trots” …

I’m not referring to cobbled horse racing here, Bolshevik revolutionaries or Del-boy and Rodney. I am referring to a serious case of some stomach bug that ruined Kym and mines weekend and my Monday just gone.

Things had started so well on Friday. Dinner out with Lord and Lady Plunket and the Avidgami’s to celebrate something, we weren’t really too sure what. A fabulous Japanese meal in town, dozens of dishes floating about on the table and many bottles of sake.

But Saturday morning I woke early, something of a shock in itself, wasn’t too sure why so went to the loo and promptly found out then. Kym followed me in shortly afterwards (bad luck on her part) and we subsequently spent the next two days on the couch with stomach pains, nausea, flu-like symptoms and the constant threat of mad-dashes to the loo.

Then we remembered, way too late, that during the week we’d visited friends who’d been through the experience recently, we blame them of course, but apparently there’s plenty of it going about (even shut down a whole ward at Waikato Hospital a few weeks back)

Its only now at lunchtime on Wednesday that I can honestly say I’ve got my appetite back. I love spicy foods and until today I just couldn’t muster the thought of anything other than Marmite on toast or a flat lemonade (those two great kiwi cure-alls).

Amazing how much of a wide-berth folks give you when your honest about domestic outbreaks of communicable disease. Not a soul turned up at the front door. The nearest thing to human contact I had was waving to Kym’s parents as they picked up a DVD I left for them in the mail-box. I dont think I’ve seen their car leave rubber patches in the driveway like that before