March 2, 2018

A Day at the Office

In a most peculiar concurrence, my daily route to the office connected me to my roots half a world away.

Here, along the waterfront, the Australian National Maritime Museum had mounted an outdoor exhibit on the container shipping industry: The Box that Changed the World.

An exhibit chronicling the industry that employed my dad, from its earliest days through the last of his days.

I wonder if he understood how revolutionary the indusry was? He didn't talk about it.

I think he would have enjoyed the exhibit, and he'd be awed by the massive container ships of the 21st century.

My workplace is very different. Very different. It so happened, for example, that folks from the zoo stopped by and brought some of the local fauna along. [What lucky timing!]

Not only could we observe and learn about the animals, we could pet them, too! Directionality is key with the echidna.

The fur on the ringtail possum was impossibly soft.

And all those spikes on the bearded dragon look intimidating, but its skin was really supple.

Someone generated a visitor badge for Zippy the tortoise, much to the delight of the zookeepers.

The short-beaked echnidna, though, was the crowd's favorite as it explored the room, waddling and poking about. A mammal? That lays eggs?!

March 1, 2018


My body was saying “Okay, I know you did something here, I'm not sure what, it's some kind of trick you've played on me” ... but I wouldn't call it jet lag.

Having successfully run the visa gauntlet, I have made my first trip to Australia (to work with our local team).

I discovered it was a lovely walk along the waterfront to the office in the morning.

And a lovely walk back to the hotel at the end of each day.

One of the first things I noticed was the sound of birds I'd never heard before. I was excited to spot an Australian White Ibis perched overhead. My colleagues laughed. “Bin chickens,” they scoffed. Like the Silver Gulls (but far less aggressive), they have adapted well to feeding on our scraps.

I spotted the occasional Australian Magpie, and a pair of Masked Lapwings one day when small piles of compost were being spread on a grassy field. I never did find the source of the unusual calls, though.

February 17, 2018

The Straggler

That was me, today: The Straggler.

Despite a healthy head start, the rest of the group soon caught (and passed) me. After I paused to peel off my jacket, I never saw them again.

I puttered along, pausing to enjoy the occasional view. Newly-planted trees were a sign that this is still an active orchard.

I wasn't up for the full route today, anyway. Without a leader to follow through Alum Rock Park, I strayed off course.

Enough, already. I took the direct route back to the start.

Seventeen miles, with 1,340 of climbing on a lovely blue-sky day.

January 13, 2018

In the Thick of It

I was excited at the prospect of exploring new territory. [Sort of.]

The skies were clear at home—unlike yesterday, when a winter fog had settled upon us.

My spirits sank as I got closer to the start for today's ride, in Livermore. Fog. Ground fog.

It's magical in the distance; here you can see the top of Mt. Diablo peeking above it.

Up close, it lends a mystical ambiance to field and forest.

The more we climbed, eastward toward the Central Valley, the denser it got. Droplets formed on my sunglasses and dripped from my helmet. Crosswinds buffeted the bike and made it wobble.

Near the summit, I was alarmed that I could hear an approaching car long before I could see its headlights. I knew I was near the summit thanks to my new gadget, a Wahoo Elemnt Bolt on its maiden voyage. Having pre-loaded it with today's route, it beeped reassuringly at key moments and counted down the remaining distance when I was close to the top. [Not that I was going to sprint, or anything.]

I could hear the rest of the group chattering; why would they wait for the last of us, in such conditions?

Change of plans, they announced. [Whew, what a relief!] It wasn't safe to continue on the planned route. (It wasn't particularly safe to ride as far as we did, but there we were.) I was more than happy to high-tail it out of there, back down the hill. The new plan was to head up to Del Valle Regional Park, another new place for me.

The beach was deserted, and we had the park nearly to ourselves.

Not much of a lake view, at the moment. We saw a couple of boats leaving the park on trailers; did they not check the conditions before making the trip?

An Aermotor!

Glad we were able to improvise, for a respectable 2,640 feet of climbing over 35 miles. It was worth it. And I suffered less than I expected, given that my last real ride was six weeks ago.

Not a big riding year for me in 2017: 2,977+ miles, 85,390+ feet of climbing overall. A new year has begun.