Questioning conviction

Was reminded of this Taylor Mali poem today, the below example of which is ingeniously animated by Ronnie Bruce.

Typography Animation project for class

Poem by Taylor Mali (

First long training ride

Yesterday I joined a group from Lilyfield Bike Garage on a cycle up into Berowra, If you’re really interested, I created a Google map of the route we took, roughly. The reason being I needed to see what my fitness level was for the ride coming up on the 14th


All I can say is “whew”!

There was a great group of people with a few very impressive bikes. There were people here who rode a lot and rode far. I was intimidated already. I wheeled in with my humble Cell bike, yanked out an apple, and introduced myself to a few people.


We set off and I was doing fine till we hit the first major hill In Ryde and I lost the pack. I was so despondent!

But then I though that people with bipolar disorder can’t walk away, they can’t just turn around and leave their challenge. People with serious mental disorders are often left with the feeling there are no options. So I popped open my phone, checked my map and the very vague route details supplied and decided, yep, I can do this. It may take me all day but I can do this.

I have to say it was very tough going. Some hills I was on the lowest gear and guys who looked no fitter than me passed me on the hill back up bobbin head, where I had to pause twice, but I persevered.

It was very hairy getting back as I chose the dumbest route back through Hunters Hill to Drummoyne and lost a good half hour working my way through that. Now I know where bikes can’t go.

But I did it and lived, and the only thing sore is my right hip joint (maybe need to tweak my shoe settings?) and my stressed out lungs. Those 20 years smoking (and 10 years non-) must have something to do with it.

So the training routine from now has to be cranked up a couple of notches, for certain. A 100k ride every weekend and some serious leg work at the gym during the week to build up some strength.

I’ll keep you posted.

fundraising for the Black Dog Institute

Just sent out a huge batch of emails to friends asking them to part with their hard earned dollars in support of my ride next month. Copy reproduced below. If you are reading this and are of a generous spirit, feel free to forward it to any kind, generous soul you may know.

Thanks in advance.


Hello friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances

In case I have not yet mentioned it, I will be cycling from Sydney to Dubbo, Oct 14-16, over the Blue Mountains, raising funds for the Black Dog Institute. As I will be cycling 135km, 170km, and 115 km over Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I was hoping you would consider sponsoring me on this ride. I will be financing my own travel, food, accommodation and support so that every dollar you contribute will go directly to the Institute.

The Black Dog Institute is a not-for-profit, educational, research, clinical and community-oriented facility offering specialist expertise in depression and bipolar disorder. The Institute’s mission is to advance the understanding, diagnosis and management of the mood disorders by continuously raising clinical, research, education and training standards. In so doing, the Institute aims to improve the lives of those affected – and in turn – the lives of their families and friends.

One out of every 5 Australians will experience some sort of mental health issue every year, three out of every ten will be seriously affected. Depression alone is predicted to be one of the worlds largest health problems by 2020.

The Institute’s activities include:

  • Supported clinics: Depression Clinic, Bipolar Disorders Clinic and Perinatal Mental Health Clinic
  • Research into mood disorders
  • Professional education and training
  • Community programs

So if you can spare a few dollars, please consider sponsoring my ride or if not, consider forwarding this email to people whom you think might be interested in supporting this very worthwhile cause.

my blog:


The Black Dog Institute:

The route we’re taking:

Kiva published this video a few days ago showing how their funds travel through the world.
from only 620000 Lenders, over 200 million dolars have funded 615000 entrepreneurs in developing nations.

Intercontinental Ballistic Microfinance from Kiva Microfunds on Vimeo.

Think about giving a brother or sister out there a helping hand, and contributing to the Technicolour flow.

Burning for the ride

Another excellent training completed this morning in preparation for the zoo2zoo ride on oct 14-16, from Sydney to Dubbo, over the Blue Mountains, in support of the Black Dog Institute.


I was feeling anxious about my training but am now feeling more like I’ll be capable of at least surviving the 420k ride.

Hopefully the daily riding and cross training at the gym will get me ready enough.

Now to get the sponsorship rolling!

Letters going out on Tuesday and will be hitting up some of the bigger players later this week. My fund-raising target looks achievable, even if a little modest.

If you’re interested, you can donate at:

Thank you in advance!

Service delivery by bus

It is always a treat to be proved wrong and to have your preconceptions challenged. I had a common problem earlier this week and the company resolved it in a very commendable manner. All it takes is one employee going a little out of their way, sometimes breaching policy, to make a customer forget the inconvenience that required attention in the first place.

I am afraid that as a user experience consultant I often have to discover fault with sites or services, and from that, recommend improvements. That discovery phase occurred yesterday morning when my bus ticket got stuck in the machine that validates fares on the bus. No amount of repeated thumps on my part or presses on the eject button by the driver managed to dislodge the reluctant ticket.

the green ticket machine in a Sydney Bus

Apparently, the only way to reboot the machine is to reboot the bus itself, something he tried several times while waiting at a traffic light, with no luck. When I asked why he did not have a key to the machine, in order to dislodge stuck tickets, he good naturedly replied, “Good question, Mate!”

He asked for my mobile number to contact me later as he might have a chance to dislodge the ticket at Central Station. I handed him my business card, since that was easier than writing my number on the back of a receipt on a moving bus. I tweeted about it, received a few comments from followers, and thought no more about it as I settled into my latest report.

I assumed I would never see that ticket again, or, at best, would receive it in the post several months later.

Imagine my surprise when a fluoro-vested dude showed up at the office asking for me by name. Handing me my travel card not two hours after the machine ate it, he politely, and very diplomatically, offered advice on how to avoid it getting stuck again in future.


I would therefore like to thank both the bus driver and the representative who hand-delivered the ticket for supplying a great service to me. It really was jaw-droppingly wonderful to have that level of service, even if I do work close to the Central Station depot, they didn’t need to hand deliver it.

Many thanks Sydney Busses for hiring such great people! I’m not sure if this was policy (doubt it) as much as it was sheer enthusiasm (most likely) by the driver and supervisor (?) who went out of their way to deliver a great service.

sweet and sour

My reactions to the Australian 2011 e-Census expressed as an animated gif stolen from the interwebs.

Zoo2Zoo 2011

As some of you may have noticed, I am a cyclist. I’m certainly not shaped like a typical cyclist, certainly not like the ones who ride the Tour de France or barrel down bush trails on bouncy bikes at scary speeds, but a cyclist nonetheless.

If you know me well enough no doubt you’ve heard me pontificating on some aspect of city cycling. My motto: “cycle as if everyone is out to kill you” holds true in Sydney even more than it did when cycling in London or Toronto and has kept me relatively unscathed so far. The few close calls I have had are all due to either an adrenaline rush of aggressive action or a temporary forgetfulness of my only cycling rule (see above). In other words, my own fault. Even though work is only a 7 minute cycle I deem to close to bother with, and I regularly have pedal-free months, I still consider myself a cyclist at heart, evidenced by this lovely picture by Allison.

Joe in cycling jersey and lycra, standing astride a bycycle, in the park.

The duration of the overwhelming majority of my cycle journeys have been within an hour; mainly commutes, shopping and recreational rides. To break that pattern, and to make up for those pedal-free months, I am currently training for an exception to that precedent, the Zoo2Zoo Sydney to Dubbo ride in October, raising financial support for The Black Dog Institute. To be honest, it scares me a bit; my last ride of this sort was in 2005, when I rode about 350-400km over 5 days across Cuba, fund-raising for Mind. This time I’ll be riding 420km over three days, starting with an ascent of the Blue Mountains on day one, weighed down by age and a noticeably larger spare tyre stuffed inside my lycra.

This week the training proper will start, including getting back into my regular gym sessions and a good 100km cycle every other weekend, possibly with some company to help keep me challenged and channelled (any Sydney volunteers for a weekend ride?). I’ve also started the fund-raising page at in case you were so inclined to help support The Black Dog Institute in their most excellent work researching to fighting mood disorders likeĀ  Bipolar Disorder and depression.

So please bear with my tediousness these few months while I bore you with my training travails and possibly even a few pics and maps of some of the journeys. All for a good cause, eh?