Friday, August 31, 2007


Looks like I'll be running some discussion sessions on budgeting at church. Willem, the pastor, was recommended some materials from Willow Creek (in the US), and I'll get a chance to look at that soon. I took a few minutes to scan their website, and saw no obvious points of dispute. I'm nervous that churches often tend to either ignore money or get focused on tithing as it is important to their institutional survival.

Presumably we'll cover at some point why Heather and I only give ~20% of our donations to the local church. We have a review scheduled for December/January, when we adjust the overall budget, of what proportion of donations goes to each category. We started with a scheme, but have picked up various causes over time and feel a need to check over the big picture.

I volunteered because Heather and I have found it very liberating to have detailed accounts and budget. Heather apparently enjoys keeping the books, and I share in the rewards. My only burden is having to keep receipts, and explain the discrepancies every Tuesday. We choose to make decisions together about budget categories and unusual expenditures - this means that we have to declare our preferences and work through differences, but that's not a bad thing.

Lots more to say on this, but I have to get to bed. It's already almost an hour past pumpkin time. Watch this space.

Salut Claude!

Tonight I rode home from work with a guest who will stay for the weekend. Claude contacted us through the Warm Showers website for touring cyclists. He is our first guest through the site - last year the three people who contacted us all wanted to come during the fortnight we were away on holiday.

Claude has already cycled from his home in Montreal to Vancouver, and plans to be in NZ for three months before heading on to Australia. He hopes to work for board on organic farms (through WWOOF), which seems to be a growing trend. Presumably we'll learn more about each other when he's had a chance to sleep off his flight.

Update: Heather informs me that there should be no comma in the greeting I chose as my title. I love commas, so that was hard news to bear.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Last week I went to the AGM of Cycle Action Auckland. Most of the business was routine, but I managed to get myself signed up as a junior to a couple experienced guys trying to establish themselves as quick-contact people for local council engineers needing a cyclists's opinion.

Three presentations at the start were of interest:
  • Good Gears, who are starting a bike rental business across the main centres this Summer.
  • Bike Central, who are opening a parking/shower/locker facility near Britomart by Summer.
  • Alex, who is running for mayor. Seems better than most candidates I've run into, and certainly has some purty transport policy. Haven't looked closely enough to actually endorse anybody yet, but please don't let's have John Banks back.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Apricot Bars

On my way in to work today I trialed my first homemade muesli bar option for use in Dunedin and later for cycling round lake Taupo. The apricot bars were tasty, but more chewy than I think I want to struggle with every 20 minutes. (They have 100calories each, so 3 an hour would cover me for steady, hard riding.) The major problem was with breathing, as my sinuses were clearing in the morning air and my mouth was full. I had to pouch the food in my cheek while I breathed, then chew between breaths.

The recipe called for quick oats, which are probably finely ground and less chewy than the porridge oats I used. Less cheap too, at our store, so we'll try some other options.

Two more things I noticed. I've broken two spokes since I swapped bikes, and although I'm in lower gears a lot I can get up the steep slopes quite easily once I let the cadence drop. That tells me that my strength (and possibly endurance for long, slower riding) improved on the fixie.

Bright new Cateye EL-220

Put my new bike light on last night, before popping over to pick up a possum trap from a guy at church. Much brighter than I'd expected, and a good wide-angle beam that increases the chance of being seen by cars turning into the road. Not bad for a freebie - I bought this with a gift voucher earned in a focus group mapping out cycle routes for the regional transport people.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Death to Possums

A combination of stiff neck and loud neighbours woke me at 3am. Looking out the bathroom window in search of the party, I saw a possum brazenly picking over our garden. Yesterday morning I noticed that our newly planted blackberry had had its buds picked out, and I think we have a clear culprit to hand. Looks like we'll be borrowing a trap.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Som Tam

Last week at the local Sunday market I noticed a Fijian stall selling green papaya, so tonight we had Som Tam. I don't think I'll bother going back to substituting with carrots. Three cheers living among a sizeable Pasifika population.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Spun Out

Apparently, riding a fixie hasn't done much for my pedalling cadence.

I've gone back to my geared bike this week, as I plan to take it to Dunedin for a couple days holiday before a conference and want to check its condition. At the start of the week I taped onto my bike computer the speed I would achieve in each gear if pedalling at 90rpm, and have tried to gear down whenever my speed dropped below that level. It turns out that I have little power at that cadence, and on the long-but-not-that-hard climbs I am used to grinding up on the fixie I slowly sink to lower and lower gears. By the time I'm crawling up in the lowest gear, my legs are all spun out.

Part of my problem seems to be that my legs don't quite keep up with the pedals. I thought that I was doing 90rpm before I got the fixie set up (having only had the computer for a couple months before that), but perhaps was changing up at 90 rather than down at 90. That difference, combined with a drop towards 75rpm on the fixie (for the small bits of 'flat' on my route), adds up to a challenge. Hopefully the body will get on top of it soon, and at least I am getting a very good aerobic workout according to my heart rate monitor.

Interestingly, I had been thinking that the fixie kept me working hard on the commute. I tend to slack over time, but this is supposed to be exercise as well as convenient transport. The fixie offers more of a hard-grinding workout, with an effort required to keep the cadence above 60 on the many and varied hills. The up and down variations come so regularly that I never get to develop a steady cadence, and while some people may report approaching 200 rpm I find myself losing control whenever I go past 130. Consequently, in conjunction with the terrain of my commute, I am almost always trying to slow down not speed up once the cadence rises. Perhaps I should keep swapping bikes to keep interest and fitness up?


Another new game has been carrying soft white bread in my shoulder bag on the way home. If I bend over to get more power then the bread gets squashed, but it remains safe if I hold my posture correctly. I eat lots of strangely shaped bread.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

hesitantly he enters the fray

Tradition dictates that I post an excited opening offering, whereupon the muse apparently dries up.

Having resisted for some time the expectations incumbent upon a blogger, my urge to fling periodic comments into the public forum has overcome me. We shall see where this leads.

No introductions for now. You should gradually get to know me, all things being well.