si dawson

experiments in self-improvement

Category: fun

Bring In The Clowns

I’m not usually a huuuuge fan of clowns, but I got an urge to go for a walk this evening, & I stumbled across these..


..dancing to music, often upside down, as part of a giant advent calendar..


..part way up a 10 storey building. I figured, well, in this case they’re probably worth cheering on.

While I was out, I took a pic or two of the local river..


..which is hellishly pretty at night.

And it seemed to be a night for clowns, since I passed this (advertising god knows what) on the way back:

Although I like to think it’s just saying “Eat more vege’s & dance like a loon!”


    Half A Ton Of Muscle With A Brain The Size Of A Cat

    It seemed like a nice day for a drive in the country..

    A real My Own Private Idaho kind of day.

    A friend of mine has stables north of the city here, holding a cadre of these:

    Yep, that beautiful beast will set you back about the same amount as a brand new Ferrari. It doesn’t go quite as fast, but has a hell of a lot more prestige – I guess that’s the trade-off you make. It’s going to be ridden by one of the top 3 dressage riders in the world at the upcoming ‘Equitana‘ – the largest equine event in the southern hemisphere.

    So here’s what it looks like from the driving seat:

    Excited? You should be! I know I was.

    Struggled a bit changing gears & couldn’t find the volume control, but other than that it was alllll good.

    Oh, and here’s an action shot:

    Yes, that’s what happens when I give a noob my camera. You’ll just have to imagine it’s me being awesome. Hey well done! In your mind I’m amaaaaazing! *laugh*


      Wednesday Night Bouldering

      This evening I went to Aikido.

      Aikido these days seems to involve (since there is often only two of us students) Sensei throwing one of us until we’re so exhausted we can’t stand, then throwing the other of us until we’re so exhausted they can’t stand. Then he goes back to the first person..

      So, after an hour of that, I biked around the city in circles for another hour in order to go bouldering (I was following someone who wasn’t particularly sure where they were going.)

      The odd thing is, even though we were basically still in the central city, down by the river we could have been miles out in the country. It looked like this:

      .. except even more picturesque. I would have got pics of the prettier bit, but I was too busy trying to keep up with my climbing buddies, Tom & Yeshe, on their flash new bikes. For some reason it’s buy-a-new-bike-week, and nobody told me. Hmph.

      Anyway, the bouldering spot was this totally excellent wall under a railway bridge:
      Lots of awesome crimps, tricky footwork, a ton of variety, lots of vertical movement required to traverse.. FUN!

      The kind of spot where you can move a couple of feet left or right & hit a totally different grade. It was awesome.

      Oh, I almost got hit in the head by an egg, thrown by a passing car (apparently it’s the kind of thing that happens around here), but my awesome powers of magical egg deflection protected me. Not so lucky the pavement (or the wall, but it didn’t hit any of the holds, so hey, who cares, right?)

      Anyway, we got an hour or so there before it got too dark to see, then biked back along the river. This was pretty awesome. It’s a chunk of the river I’ve never seen before, including these nifty jetties that are pretty much there just for the cyclists. The first one was confusing (we got lost), but after that we got the hang of them:

      Not so complicated really. Looks like it’s for boats – but it’s not! I rode along about 10 of these in an 8km stretch. Super cute!

      On the way we also stumbled across an actual designated bouldering zone. Wtf? Yes, it’s true. There were three walls there, ranging from easy (vertical) to medium (slight overhang) to hard (extreeeeme overhang. Ok, it wasn’t a roof, but still, it all helps). Plastic holds on wood, but tons to choose from. Here’s what climbers look like at night:

      Umm, yes, that’s more or less normal behaviour. Climbers have a special gene hidden from the rest of the population. Emphasis on ‘special’.

      Here’s what the river looked like right by that second bouldering spot:


      And this was wayyyy closer to the city. Crazy, I know. I was a touch concerned about standing on a snake, since I had to venture into long grass to take this shot, & everything was pitch black (this camera is insane in low light), but hey, both my ankles are intact. Australian snake population: 0. Si: 1.

      So that was fun. We played there for a while, then I left the other guys & continued along the river. The great thing was, even though chunks of the ride were near a motorway, you could hardly tell, it was just so damn beautiful:


      I also passed this:


      I have no idea what that means.

      I tell you what though. There really are uglier places to be than this:

      (click for much nicer, bigger version)

      Also nifty was getting to bike past one of my favourite art installations in Melbourne, the weirdo bells (probably not their official name):

      All these bells on sticks are controlled by computer, and every hour or so they play whatever piece they’re currently programmed with. They’re all different pitches, and it’s kinda crazy to be surrounded by them all going nuts at once.

      Also neat – finding a new walk bridge I didn’t know existed:


      I arrived home super exhausted, aching, bruised and thoroughly happy.


        A Trip To ‘The Nongs’

        Being a busy Thursday, I decided what better to do than bugger off out of town & head to the local mountain/forest range.

        (Some) locals call these “the nongs”, but officially they’re the Dandenong Ranges. It’s about an hours drive east of where I live.

        Anyway, they’re green, and, you know, mountainy. That’s all I care about. Thursday was one of those days where I definitely needed more green.

        So what do they look like? Great question. I’m glad you asked, because I have pictures, nothing but pictures, just for you. Really, just you!


        Before you enter the ranges, there are important notices to pay attention to. Note the picture. I was relieved my arms & legs would still be attached when I’d left. I was less sure about my head.


        There are lots of these. Birds in Australia are very bright, and make particularly unusual sounds. I’m not sure why. Maybe because there are crocodiles (‘crocs’) here. Not the kind you wear on your feet, although they have those too. The kind that eat your feet. If I had neighbours like that, I’d make weird noises too.


        Here’s a tree that utterly captivated me. Bizarre thing is, it’s actually dead (or perhaps just faking it very well). It still managed to be incredibly majestic. The stunning blue sky backdrop helped. There was a natural clearing right next to this which seemed a great place to hang out for an hour, lying in the sun, listening to birds complaining about our intrusion & watching the trees sway in the gentle breeze.


        Here’s what walking through the Dandenongs is like. ’nuff said.


        A peculiarity of Australian trees is that they naturally lose their bark in summer months. This creates a ton of kindling which helps spur bush fires in the undergrowth. If the fires happen regularly enough, then the forests as a whole are spared. How this evolved just boggles my mind, but man, it’s awesome. You can see in the above pics a whole stand of trees where the fires have come through – the trees are still alive, and the burn marks go about 20 feet up the trees.


        Here’s a close up – an alive tree, but the entire inside has burnt out. Crazy, crazy country this.


        I also saw a camo goat.


        & in case you had trouble spotting the goat in the above pic, here’s a close up. You’re welcome.

        So anyway, after walking for, I dunno, 4 or 5 hours, leaving from a town called Sassafras, we ended up in a town called Olinda. Umm. We were trying to go back to Sassafras, honest. Middle of the day, being pretty careful to backtrack as accurately as possible, and still ended up one town over. Sure am glad it wasn’t raining. Or dark. Or full of man eating goats.


        Turns out there’s an award winning pie-ary in Olinda.

        Oh, and if you’re curious (I know you are) a pie floater consists of pea soup, with a meat pie floating in it, all covered in tomato ketchup. It’s a lot tastier than it sounds – I had one once. My Dad used to live on them.

        Not the best choice for a raw foodist, but I figured we were in pie country now.

        I had a salad.


          A Silly Party Game

          I was chatting with my sensei this evening, and he told me about a party game he learned. I’m sure this is as old as the hills, but it was new to me, and I found it more than a little eye opening. So, I thought I’d share it with you.

          First of all, grab a piece of paper (or whatever new fangled gadget passes for paper these days). Write on it:

          1. Your favourite domestic pet
          2. Your favourite wild animal
          3. Your favourite dessert

          And for each, the specific attributes about it that make it your favourite – ie, what appeals so strongly about each.

          Go ahead, I’ll wait. Won’t take you more than a couple of minutes.

          Finished? Ok, good. Well, here’s what I answered:

          Fave pet: a cat – reasons? It’s inquisitive, sassy & elegant

          Fave wild animal: the shark – reasons? It has an efficiency > 1 (until recently thought impossible), it’s fast, incredibly beautiful & a little scary

          Fave dessert: durian – reasons? the sheer perversity of it, it’s exotic, and orgasmic(ally tasty)

          So what does this all mean? Well, there’s a reason I left the explanation till the end – so you could write your answers down (yes yes, I know you’re reading ahead. Stop being cheeky, & jot them down).

          An interesting side note. Almost 20 years ago, I did one of those journeying experiences, where you find your power animal. I’m not totally sure about the practical usefulness of this information, but I’m curious about everything, so I gave it a shot anyway. For me, it turned out to be a hedgehog. I kinda realised, over time, that that was a good representation of myself. Prickly as hell on the outside, squishy on the inside. Also interestingly, my favourite dessert has changed radically over the last couple of years, since I started aggressively on this healing path.

          So, side note aside, here’s the interpretation, I know you’ve been dying for it:

          • The pet is what you look for in a partner
          • The wild animal describes your own attributes
          • The dessert is how you like sex

          .. and I looked at my list, and I thought to myself “You know? That’s a little bit bloody scarily accurate”. I’d guess this also means my power animal has changed (although the implications of this are beyond me).