Showing posts from January, 2017

C'mon folks, put it away

Very lucky she didn't run down one of the myriad cyclists and joggersthat use the path along this section of river.

Oh, sorry, it was her "GPS".

Is checking that text or email really worth five years in the slammer for "negligent homicide" (or whatever term they use now)?

Toss your phone on the back seat.

Problem solved.

Note: I've put this post under "personal growth" because that's what it's really about: having the strength to deny ourselves our every whim. You know, like children don't.

You can't lead by committee

Don is leading. You don't have to like his direction but at least he's leading. It's something the western world hasn't seen for a while and has forgotten what it looks like. You vote them in to lead, they lead. You don't like it, you vote them out. Some people think democracy means everyone gets a say on every decision. Clearly that's unworkable. Our chance to have a say is our next visit to the polling booth. Until then we need to suck it up and accept the consequences of our last one.

I had to take my own advice today

It's never easy doing this but I'm committed to it because I know it's right. Mind you, it's taken me a long time to realise it. Still, as Steve Jobs said: "you can't connect the dots looking forward, only backwards".

Is motorcycling dangerous?

"It doesn't have to be."
That's the take-away from this excellent video by an ex-US Air Force flight instructor. It should be required viewing before ANYONE is given a motorcycle licence.

It hurts, John

John Hurt has been my favourite actor since I was a teenager and witnessed his astonishing performance as Quentin Crisp in"The Naked Civil Servant".
To appreciate just how great that performance was, check out some videos of the real Quentin Crisp from the same era. It's hard to tell the difference.

I believe he went on to do some other films called "Harry Potter" or something.

Great actor, great voice. I'll miss him.

Summer shower

God's rain falls unexpectedly
and all down the street the
birds sit on roofs, their
arms spread wide
in thanks.

Sound advice from someone who should know

"Better to be slow into the corner and fast out, than fast in and dead out."
Stirling Moss

Poida's baby

I was watching "The Beast" the other day, Eric Bana's film about his Falcon Coupe, the car he bought when he was fifteen years old, rebuilt several times - including a final OTT re-build that would have bankrupted a small country - only to wrap the thing around a tree in the Tasmanian Targa. 
After the smash he does an interview with Dr Phil who says "re-build it, that car is part of you now."

He then does an interview with Jeremy Clarkson who says "re-build it, that car is part of you now."

But you know what? I got the feeling their heart wasn't in it, that they were just saying what they thought Eric wanted to hear.

Meanwhile, there's me shouting at the TV:  "NO!  Mothball the thing!  Move on!  Yes, it's been an important part of your life, but you're all grown up now. MOVE ON!"

He rebuilt it.

At the cost of yet another $200,000.

Frightening, huh?

Men's obsession with their toys. Don't understand it myself.

BTW, di…

You gotta find that place where nothing else matters

It used to be golf for me. 
It was so engrossing it didn't matter if I was sick, had work problems, was stinking hot, freezing cold or soaked to the skin. Nothing but the next shot mattered for those four or five hours. It was indeed "the beautiful game" to me.

After thirty years I gave it away (long story) and found the thing I missed most about it was that sense of total absorption. Nothing else I did seemed to provide it.

Until now.

Motorcycling is giving me exactly the same thing.

Because I'm trying to do it artfully.

Every gear change, every corner, every start and stop.

And because I'm trying to anticipate everything to avoid the need for emergency reactions.

Achieving all that takes total concentration. It's just me, the bike and the road.

A true meditation.

Play the game

At my motorbike lesson yesterday, the instructor took me out for a ride and showed me all the little things I will need to do to pass my riding test.

Things like turning your head to look at EVERY side street so the examiner knows you've checked.

"But I check with my peripheral vision. I don't like turning my head as it distracts me from what's going on in front."

"So turn your head but keep your eyes looking straight ahead."

"Well I may as well not turn my head!"

"Hey, I'm just telling you what they require. If you don't do it, you will fail."

It was a good lesson. Not just because it taught me how to pass a riding test, but because it reminded me that you don't have to like the rules, you just have to play by them if you want to win the game.

You can't fight City Hall.

Don "wannabe"?

Barnaby is trying to out-Don the Don.
NOBODY out-Don's the Don.

But I think we're going to see an increasing number of politicians try. "Hey, if Don can do it…"

But that's a bit like me learning to moon-walk and saying: "Hey, if Michael can do it…"


Don's genius

Is his ability to make the complex simple. 
Or at least make us believe it is.

Like today. Crime rates are going the wrong way in Chicago and everyone knows it. So he tweets "the Mayor needs to sort it out or I'll send in the Feds".

No-one has any idea what "sending in the Feds" really means, but doesn't it sound good? It makes perfect sense even if it doesn't make sense.

The world thinks Don is a buffoon. I don't know so much. "Change agent" more like it.

And isn't that what leaders are supposed to do? You know, LEAD?

One week in and it certainly looks like he intends to do that.

A Reader Said (2)

A reader emailed me to say that she feels guilty if she doesn't spend time with the narcissist in her family.
No. That's what narcissists trade on. They use your loyalty to keep you trapped in their web. And that not only does you no good, it doesn't help them either.

Because the only hope for the narcissist is that one day, as he surveys the smoking wreckage of his "superior" life while simultaneously seeing all the "lesser" people out there having fun, he finally comes to his senses and says "I think it's me!".

But he will NEVER arrive at that conclusion for as long as we continue to play his game. We have to call time and let him know we're not interested until he learns to play like an adult.

Sound a bit childlike? You bet. Because narcissists are essentially children that never grew up. That's not being mean, that's what the literature says. For whatever reason, they didn't develop. Sad, but again, it's something o…

I'm convinced

Man was not meant to work in corporations. 
We're meant to be more creative than that.

This diagram makes me laugh every time - but it's a nervous laugh*.

*If I'm honest, it actually makes me feel a bit ill.

There's only one way to deal with a narcissist

Keep away.
The temptation is to try and "fix" them. You can't. Only they can. It's a terrible affliction which robs them of their life whilesimultaneouslyassuring them they're fine. The perfect disease you might say.

But inside every narcissist's head there's also a tiny little voice, barely audible most of the time, but occasionally crystal clear. And that little voice says to them, quite unmistakably:

What if it's me?

And right there, in that moment, the narcissist has his choice. He can explore this possibility further, painful as it is, or he can shut the voice down and carry on. Most will choose the latter. Most will go to their grave with it - broken, but believing they're whole.

It's a terrible affliction but don't for one minute think you can help them. Only they can. If you try to help you will be sucked into their vortex and destroyed along with them.

Keep away.

Keep the faith

I stood my ground on principle recently and suffered a loss. But as a result of that loss I found myself positioned to take advantage of an even better opportunity. It's been my consistent experience that doing the right thing pays off in the long term. You just gotta keep the faith. ;)

Living = striving

"In America, we understand that a nation is living only as long as it is striving."
Don at his inauguration today.

It's a great point and applies to individuals too. We are wired to strive. When we stop, we shrivel up and die.

And striving doesn't necessarily have to be for bigger and better. It might be for more equanimity for example - more acceptance, more peace. Heck, you might even be striving to be less striving!

It doesn't matter. The thing is to be working towards something. Then we come alive. Then we get the incredible joy of overcoming.

The joy of being alive.

Cliches are cliches because they're true

"If you fall off the horse, get straight back on."
There's no other way. The longer you leave it, the harder it gets.

Get STRAIGHT back on.

A couple of gutsy examples that come to mind are James Hird's return to football after that sickening face injury and Mick Fanning's return to the ocean after his hair-raising encounter with a shark.

Our "falls" might not be as physically frightening as those but we still deal with our own little fails every day. Things that can dent our confidence, motivation and resolve. There's nothing for it but to GET UP AND GO STRAIGHT BACK INTO THE FRAY. We only fail when we give up. Until then, "fails" are just "learning experiences" ;)

The hardest falls I find are the ones where you feel humiliated. Pride is a very demanding master. Best to show it who's boss early or you can end up serving it all your life.

So, what brought all this on?

I went for a ride today with my experienced neighbour and …

The inner workings of a Swiss watch?

No. The front wheel of my motorbike.

Did I mention I got a new motorbike?

Oh, I did.

Leave an escape route

It's one of the fine juggling acts of life: to always leave yourself an escape route. It's a juggling act because you also have to commit. Getting the balance right is tricky and sometimes you don't succeed. You box yourself in and find yourself at the mercy of others and/or circumstance. It's not a great feeling and you have to just hope for the best. And learn for next time.

Throw it

I first learned this with golf.
You have to "throw" the club head at the ball.

Then I learned it with drumming: you have to "throw" the sticks at the drum head.

Now I'm learning it with motorcycle riding: you have to "throw" the bike at tight turns.

Throwing takes confidence.

Because you think you'll lose control.

But after a while you realise that you have to "lose control" to gain control.

A bit like life really:

"If you love it, let it go. If it comes back it's yours. If it doesn't, it never was."


It's not what I thought.

I thought it was about thinking things.

It's actually about noticing things.

At first you start off noticing only your breath. It helps you get the idea of staying with something. But once you get the hang of that you can start noticing anything: your thoughts, your body sensations, sounds, smells etc. It doesn't matter what it is as long as it's happening now. The main thing you're trying to avoid is ruminating - thinking about the past or the future. When you think about it (sorry), all thinking is to do with past or future. In the present you don't think at all. You just be. That's meditating.

So that was a rather long way round to get to the point I wanted to make:that motorcycling is the perfect meditation.


Because if you lose touch with the present and start ruminating, your dead.

Pretty good incentive I reckon.

And I think that's why I'm enjoying it so much. There's great freedom in the present. All the pro…

Who would post a picture of a motorcycle fuel tank?

Me. Because I'm very pleased with myself.
I got the incredibly stubborn manufacturer's stickers off it WITHOUT SCRATCHING THE PAINT.

Is that really such a big deal?

For me, yes! Normally I get impatient and rip and tear and bugger up everything.

But I was patient and resourceful and achieved a perfect result.

I checked all the Youtube videos on how to do it, I emailed mates, and finally I settled on this:

1. Park bike in sun to get the stickers hot (softens the adhesive a bit)

2. Soak the stickers with repeated applications of WD40 over about twenty minutes (place cloths around the stickers to prevent run off into various parts of your bike*)

3. Gently scrape away at stickers with an old credit card

4. Soak a piece of soft cloth in WD40 and rub off the remaining glue

Voila! Perfect outcome.

Pretty happy with that actually.

Combine knowledge with patience and you actually get good outcomes. This is new territory for me but I'm thinking I might like this approach ;)

Of course m…

A Reader Said

"There's a real two-wheel camaraderie out there - it's a great thing."
He's right. I've noticed it already even though I'm just starting out in this caper. If you ride a bike it doesn't matter if you're young or old, male or female, black, white or brindle: you're "one of us".

When I was at the dealership arranging for my new bike to be delivered by a specialist motorcycle courier I expressed some concern about it getting to me safely.

"Don't worry" said the dealer, "Peter's one of us."

And Peter certainly was "one of us". The guy LOVES his bikes. He's been delivering them for 25 years and I got the impression he still loves it.

"Just remember," he said as he brought my bike down off the truck, "there's two things you never lend to your mates: your wife and your bike."

'Nuff said.

Much better!

Pillion seat removed, now she's PHAT!
Just gotta get those silly stickers off the fuel tank now.

Some things are just exciting

This is my new bike arriving on the back of a truck this week.

I said to the delivery driver (himself a bike nut) that it's not often you buy something that seems even more beautiful when you actually take delivery of it. My experience is usually the opposite. I usually end up thinking "wow, I obviously had my rose-coloured glasses on that day!".

But this was different. I knew it was a nice bike but, man, LOOK AT THAT THING!

While it was on my driveway a woman pulled up, wound her window down and said "I think that's the prettiest bike I've ever seen."

I think I agree with you ma'am.

And it's going to get even prettier when I take that dinky pillion seat off the rear fender.

It lives in my garage because my wife baulked at having it in the bedroom.

No sense of humour 

Unsure whether you should take that job?

Neil Gaiman says ask yourself this:

"Will the job take me closer to my mountain or away from it?"

If it's away, don't take it. Period.

It sounds ridiculously simple but it works.

It assumes of course that you've worked out where your mountain is.

But once you have, ask Gaiman's question often.

And be honest with your answers.

Try it. It works.

Bike lesson, life lesson

It was emergency-stop practice at today's lesson.
And I found out the hard way where the front tyre lock point is.

I also felt the horror every rider feels when their beloved mount hits the asphalt. Checking yourself out comes second!

I was pleased to see that I instinctively rolled when I hit the road rather than slide as I think this saved a bit of damage.

Fortunately no real harm to man or beast but I did learn something - apart from how easy it is to lock the front tyre :)

I learned that in life you must go by your gut and not be swayed by others.

I like my instructor because he gives me the confidence to back myself and have a go. But I realise now I allowed him to talk me into something I wasn't quite ready for. And I paid the price.

You gotta stand your ground folks. You know what's best for you. You know how fast you're able to progress. Honour that little voice that's saying "build gradually".

Besides, what's the rush? The journey's the …

I'm with Don on this one

Keep your friends close and you're enemies even closer.
Besides, you might find they're not really your enemies at all. You know, they might just be people like you who laugh, cry and love their kids.

Crazy, I know …

Just say "yes"

Figure out "how" later.
That's always been the approach I've tried to take.

And it was put to the test again yesterday.

I had a motorbike lesson with a new instructor. My previous lessons had all been confined to carpark work but this new chap let me trundle around the streets near my house.

After a few minutes he said "do you feel up to tackling some busy traffic?"

Gulp. "Yeah, sure."

So off we went down Cambridge St and into the city where we rode around Northbridge for a while.

After about twenty minutes he asked me over the intercom: "How do you feel about going fast? Would you be happy to try the freeway?"

Gulp. "Yeah, sure."

So off we went down the freeway. And I can tell you, 110kmh on a little 250cc with a low seat feels FAST!

But I got home and was buzzing.

I had climbed my mountain.

Now, where's the next one? :)

Eye opener

My first ride on the roads today. 

Let's just say it was an education :)

SO much going on when you ride a bike that you don't have to think about when you're in a car.

I had my hands full that's for sure and my previously slick gear changing went out the window somewhat.

But that's cool.

Beginnings are messy.

Whatever you're doing.

And I'm in no hurry.

My aim as a motorcyclist is to (a) stay alive and (b) ride artfully.

The first goes without saying but the second is really important to me too.

Whatever I'm riding or driving I want it to be smooth. "Effortless".

Performance art if you will.

Think of it this way: how would you ride / drive if your vehicle had no brakes?

You would have to anticipate everything well in advance, time your speeding up and slowing down to perfection and use your engine as a brake.

Now THAT would be smooth.

Beautiful in fact.

PS: speaking of beautiful, look at the shape of that fuel tank... 'aint that somethin&#…

The latest accessory

Phones you wear.

Time to get serious about this problem

Cars need to be fitted with something that disables your phone* as soon as you start the engine.
Far too many crashes are happening because people are fiddling with their phones while driving. And the latest research shows that even if you're 100% hands free, you're still way too distracted.

Like drinking, phones and driving just don't go.
*except the GPS function

Writer's block?

No problem according to Charlie Brooker:
"Pay someone bigger than you to make your knees fold the other way if you don't submit eight hundred words by five o'clock. You'll be surprised what comes out."

I suspect it works for any other "block" too.

But amidst the levity there's a serious point here. "Work expands to fill the time available" is an immutable law of the universe.

So get a deadline.

And make the penalty severe for missing it.

You'll be surprised what comes out.