Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Hated uncle

I have a niece that is 2 years old. The last time that I saw her was at Chritmas time last year and she did not like me. For some reason, she refused to come anywhere near me and cried for her mum if we were even in the same room together. Last week I travelled to Sydney to visit and I was keen to see if she would remember me or forget the last time we met.

Thankfully, she was a lot more friendly this time. We managed to bond over a few good story books and playtime in the park and she was quite comfortable with me.

I had arrived before my wife so the following day we all made the trip to the airport to greet her off the plane. During the trip, my niece fell asleep in her car seat and I gently carried her into the arrivals area. I took a seat with her in my lap and suggested that my sister in-law go and meet my wife off the plane while I waited.

'Are you sure you will be okay? Make sure you call me if she wakes up.', she said in a strangely concerned voice. I didn't think anything of it. Then I got a phone call... 'I'm still waiting. Is she still asleep? Make sure you call me if she wakes up.'

A few more calm minutes went by and I began to wonder. Why is she so concerned about my niece waking up? What's the big deal? Then, I found out.

My niece woke up. She opened her eyes and looked around. She looked at me and then stared for a couple of seconds. Then the tears began to well in her eyes and she took a mighty breath before screaming, 'WHERE'S MMMUUUUMMMMM??!!!!!'

I did my absolute best to keep her calm and reassure her that mum was not far and on her way but it was no use. 'I WANNNTTT MYY MMMUUUUMMMM!!!!' She kicked her legs out straight and went as stiff as a bored, making it almost imposible to hold her. she kicked me away and continued to roll on the ground screaming for her mum.

The ladies in the baggage claim counter had a direct view and I'm pretty sure they were beginning to wonder if I was trying to kidnap this child that was screaming at me.

After what seemed like an eternity, her mum came running down the hallway after hearing the screams and scooped her up. The tears immediately stopped. I got a couple of filthy stare downs by my niece as the tears began to dry. Thankfully, she forgave me during the car trip home and I made up for it with a few more story books. This time, I will not leave a hated uncle.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sweat Box

Last week I took some leave from work to visit family in Sydney. This also meant that I took a week of leave from the bike as well.

Usually, I go through some phases when I stop riding for a few days. The first day is great because I get to sleep in but then I get progressively more and more grumpy as the days wear on. After 5 days I feel pretty fat and lazy and am slightly irritable. My wife says she can't stand it but I don't notice.  

This time, I wasn't going to let it happen and my brother in-law offered to take me to the gym and join him in a spin class. It had been a while since I had done one so I thought I'd give it a crack.  

When you ride a bike, you are outside, moving and rearing your own breeze. Even when you are just cruising along, there is a breeze of around 25kph to keep you cool. In a gym, there is an instructor yelling at you to go harder and the only breeze you get is from the fan that is pointed at your feet and swings in your direction every 20seconds. By the end of the session, my shirt could be literally wrung out and there was a pool of sweat under my bike.

Exercising in a sweat box also means that a lot of other people experience the same thing. So after years of housing sweating cyclists and soaking up pools of sweat on the floor, most spin class rooms have a distinct aroma of sweat and stale gym clothes. It is almost enough to make you dry reach. I swear that they should strip them down every few months.

Another problem with spin classes is the underlying competition with other participants. Everyone says they are not competing but secretly they are. My brother in law even checked my distance covered at the en of the session. The only thing is, everyone sets their own difficulty and no bike is exactly the same. This means that the 60 year old woman in the back corner that seems to be going way faster than you could be doing so with no resistance on an easier bike. The more you try to race people, the more frustrated you get as you comprehend how the chick in the track suit pants barely breaks a sweat.

 At the end of the session I walked out like someone had thrown a bucket of water on me but at least I had gotten some pedaling in to keep me calm for a few days.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Lock, Stock & Two Sore Shoulders.

A good friend of mine has finally decided to tie the knot and on the weekend, he had his buck’s day to celebrate throwing in the towel. Most buck’s days start with a manly sport that usually involves a level of skill, pain threshold and/or performance while intoxicated. Activities such as golf, golf buggy racing, skirmish or go-karts are normally on the agenda, however, this weekend had something a little different.

Living in Brisbane city, there are not many people that can say they have shot a gun. Don’t get me wrong, the chances get higher, the closer you get to the Gold Coast but for most, firing a rifle is only something that you see on television. So when I found out that we were heading out to Brisbane Sporting Clays to shoot stuff, I was pretty excited.

Sporting Clays is a type of clay target shooting that was designed to keep hunters in tip-top form during the off seasons. You use a shot-gun to shoot a range of clay targets that are designed to mimic real-life animals such as the target that floats along then dives down towards the ground like a bird or the target that skip across the ground like a rabbit. Unlike most real-life animals, the clay targets are also painted fluoro orange so you can see them more easily.

Unlike most target shooting disciplines, Sporting Clays are more challenging (allegedly) because the targets are random. They come out at different angles and speeds every time so that it is never the same. This way, the shooter can never anticipate what is going to happen.

We each got to take 25 shots from 4 different stations with the most skilled shooter taking home a booze voucher. I wasn’t worried about winning, I was more worried about coming last. On a buck’s day, you are surrounded by a sea of testosterone and the last thing you want to do is publicly suck at a man-sport in front of everyone. It’s a dog eat dog world.

After the first round, I was confident that I wasn’t going to come last. Years of Playstation and xBox have paved the way for shooting things in real-life and although reloading wasn’t as simply as shooting outside of the screen my hand-eye coordination was better than I expected.

Despite this, there was one thing that threatened to dampen the spirits of a few shooters. It seems that a 12 gage shot-gun can pack a bit of a kick when you fire it and if you don’t have it perfectly positioned in your shoulder, it can cause some slight discomfort. At the end of the 25 shots, I could barely lift my arm and after receiving some comments about my distinctive cyclist’s physique, I revealed some nice bruising on my shoulder. 24hrs later and my arm is still hurting. I have a new respect for Rambo and Chuck Norris.