Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Urinal Etiquette

An interesting thing happened to me the other day. I went to the Sunshine Coast for the day and needed to use the bathroom. I found the public toilets and was greeted by a row of unmanned urinals. I did the right thing and lined up the 1st urinal to do my business, leaving 5 free urinals to the right of me.

Mid-stream, another gentleman walked in. With five spare urinals beside me, it was a no-brainer but instead, he pulled up in the one right next to me! I was a little confused and a whole lot uncomfortable. There were so many other choices! Why did he have to unzip 50cm away from me?!

I quickly finished things up and bailed on the situation. Still baffled by the experience, I have come up with some golden rules for urinal etiquette. Women will not understand this, but they just don't get it...

1. If you are the first to arrive at the urinals, choose the first or last urinal, leaving maximum urinal possibilities for others that may come in during your evacuation. If there is only three urinals, do not use the middle urinal. This choice would force urinal user number two to have to select a urinal next to you.

2. If someone is already at the urinals, choose one that gives maximum number of urinals (minimum 1 urinal) between you to give least opportunity to sneak a peek.

3. If there are already people at the urinals and there is no option allowing you a minimum of one urinal between you and the next person, use a cubicle.

4. If there are already people at the urinals and there is no option allowing you a minimum of one urinal between you and the next person and all cubicles are in use, you have no choice but to use a urinal next to another user. This may be undesirable, but you can't look like you are uncomfortable unzipping next to another man by standing back to wait when there are clearly urinals free.

5. No talking. No one wants to talk to a stranger at such a private moment but there are exceptions. If you started the conversation before you approached the urinal it may continue or if you have known the person for a number of years, you can show that you are comfortable around them by talking at the urinal.

So that is my 5 golden rules for urinal etiquette. Follow those and you can never fail. If you are laughing to yourself and think that they are stupid, perhaps you should consult the International Center for Bathroom Etiquette (http://www.icbe.org/) and I think you will find that they agree with me.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Road cyclists like to thrive on pain and suffering.

The hurt of pushing yourself for hundreds of kilometers and the pain of pedaling up huge mountains. They like to watch the grimace on the faces of cyclists as they struggle through the cobbled sections of classic races such as the Paris Roubaix. They love to hear stories of hardship and triumph such as Johnny Hoogerland pulling himself out of a barb-wire fence to claim the KOM jersey or Tyler Hamilton finishing the Tour de France with a broken collarbone.

Road cyclists like to think that they are hardmen, but they are not. Well, not in Brisbane anyways.

Brisbane has seen some poor weather over the last couple of days. Continuous rain has made the roads wet and slippery and every morning is a battle to drag yourself out of bed. Not having a car has meant that I only have two choices to get to work; catch 2 buses and a train or ride my bike. After some bad experiences trying to catch a bus and my inability (and lack of motivation) to navigate timetables and routes, I have been riding to work. Admittedly, the fact that my wife has got enough bravado to ride her bike into work has also had some influence in my decision to ride.

Starting is the worst part. Forcing yourself to leave the comforts of a dry home and head out into wind and water is tough to do. But once I'm out there, it's great. Huge puddles, flooded roads, backed up traffic with a thousand others that took the soft option of driving. I do feel like a hardman.

This morning I was looking around to see if there were any other hardmen out on the roads. There were no familiar faces and, in fact, I only saw one other person on a road bike. Don't get me wrong, I saw plenty of people cycling, but none of them were the supposed road cyclist hardman. The only people brave enough to be out in the poor weather were the humble commuters!

Am I saying that the commuters are more hardmen than the road cyclists?? Maybe I am. I even rolled past the cafes this morning to see if the usual coffee shop riders trundled down for a brew but there was not a single bike to be seen.

On a side note... In no way am I claiming that I am a hardman. I want to make sure that is clear because I know after reading the above you are getting upset about how hypocritical you think I am being. I'll admit it- Usually, I am one of the last people to go out riding in poor weather because I keep my bike obsessive compulsive disorderly clean.

This week, I am not a hardman by choice.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Secret

Have you ever been out for a fancy meal or dinner with friends only to still be hungry afterwards? It happens to me all the time. I go out for dinner and am still starving afterwards but don't want to cause a scene or look like pig by ordering a second meal. So I sit there and say it was delicious and then open the fridge as soon as I get home. Well, I have discovered the solution to this problem...

Small children. That's right, just take small children with you. Why?, you may ask... The children need to eat, so you order them meal, the bigger the better (for you). But the children are small an easily distracted, so there is no way that they are going to finish their entire meal. This leaves you to do the right thing; not waste the food and get basically a second meal to yourself!!

There are a couple of things that you need to consider when using this tactic...

*The smaller the children, the better. It means they won't eat as much and there will be more left over.

*Accidentally order something they don't like. Again, there will be more left over!

*Act like you are eating it because you don't want to waste the food so people don't see through your cunning plan. 

*Its best not to have your own children solely for this purpose. Apparently, the number of sacrifices you need to make as a parent far outnumber the number of times you get extra food. 

*This method can also be used for dessert. 

*Always wait until the children have finished eating. Otherwise it just looks like you are stealing their food. 

It's as easy as taking candy from a baby!

Friday, January 13, 2012


It's no secret, I have no upper body strength. The only time I ever really use my upper body is to shovel food into my mouth. 

After 3 days of holidays with the extended family, my upper body is aching. Wrestling with the nephews, swimming in the pool, playing back yard cricket, throwing the football around, paddling the canoe on the lake and even picking up and carrying the little ones has given me an upper body workout that I have not had for a long time. 

My arms are aching and my ribs hurt when I laugh. We are supposed to go fishing this afternoon and I'm worried that casting the line is going to be too much for my arms to handle. 

I never thought that playing with kids would wear me out but this morning I couldn't wake up. I'm exhausted. Maybe its because they are getting bigger and stronger? Or maybe it's because I'm getting old?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mental breakdown

When you are riding a bike and you don't feel good, you go slow. But it's not a problem because you know why you are going slow. There is nothing worse than going slow but not understanding why, like when your brakes are rubbing or your tyre is flat but you don't realize. 

Yesterday, I had that feeling. I had to ride from Cairns to Lake Tinaroo on the Atherton Tablelands. It is a 100km trip with a climb up the Kuranda range at the beginning. 

My plane landed at 11am so I set off in the hottest part of the day. I made my way up the range with buckets of sweat lashing off me but it was no problem. From the top of the range all the way to Mareeba at the 65km mark it was slightly downhill. It was fantastic. I could sit easily at 45kph and I was making great time. I thought, at this rate I would make it in under 3hrs as I had only 35km remaining after 2hrs of riding. Then I turned towards Atherton. 

The road turned bad. It was no longer that smooth bitumen but changed to that dead big chunky stones kind of bitumen where it feels like you may as well be on a gravel road. The wind picked up and was blowing directly at me, making the effort even harder. 

Now this didn't bother me too much because I knew it was there. I knew why I was going slow. What really head cracked me was the fact that the road was slightly uphill the entire way but it looked flat. Thanks to volcanic activity and lava flow that formed the area thousands of years ago, the road from Mareeba to Atherton is a constant gentle incline that you can't see when you look at it. 

My Garmin said that the gradient was 0% and it looked flat but the altitude slowly increased by 300m over about 35km! It broke me mentally. My speed had gone from over 40kph to struggling to push 25kph. I started to look for excuses to stop... Stopping to get water. Stopping for a photo. Stopping to check a message. Stopping to check the map. 

It took all my mental power to keep going and resist the urge to stop at a coffee shop and take a break. The last 35km took me 1.5hrs to cover and I was EXTREMELY happy to reach my destination.