After the previous dilemma about worn wheels I resurrected a pair from a while ago. Last Friday I noticed that the back wheel was out of true. Not too badly, but enough to rub on the brakes unevenly. So I visited the local bike shop to get it trued whilst I was at work.

A little later I got a call to say that the wheel had failed, badly. As the mechanic was taking the tyre off the rim split around about one third of its circumference.

Bother said Pooh.

So now I have a shiny new Mavic Open Pro rim laced to the old hub with the old spokes. With a new tyre and brake blocks all round it came to a shade over AU$200. It creaked and pinged for the first 20 km, but has settled well now. The next decision is how long I dare to leave the front wheel before it too fails - perhaps whilst I am riding. I think that I shall be getting a similar rim ordered for the front rim ASAP, and the wheel built soon after.

Sadly I don’t have a picture of the rim. My mobile phone makes phone calls, and my camera doesn’t accompany me on the commute.

The English Cousins were in Australia for a month or so, visiting us in Melbourne then heading around the northern parts, and ending up on Fraser Island with us and the Australian grandparents.

We stayed at the Kingfisher Bay resort (self catering), which was excellent. The pools were not very warm, but the kids all loved them anyway. Older members of the party enjoyed the various walks and trails around the island, with several new birds seen by all.

Lake McKenzie was a spectacular day out, particularly after the fun of driving there along the soft sand tracks. We also made it to the eastern beach, but that was less enjoyable because of the speeding four-wheel-drives and rough ocean. Still, the children donned bathers and played in the sand at the edge of the surf.

Only one dingo was seen on the trip, unpacking food from a 4wd’s roof rack.

Despite the cost it was an excellent break, which I hope we can repeat soon.

I can connect to a Swiss SMS provider and send messages back to Australia for AUD0.097 each, or use my phone and send them for AUD0.250 each…. Hmmmm

Reminds me that boingboing had an article about the cost of SMS vs the Hubble space telescope. SMS is four times more expensive than Hubble data…

http://englishrussia.com/?p=1788 What more is there to say?

Is making me tear out what little hair I have. Pipelined functions returning nested tables need implicit cursors around them, or so it seems.

Got to love Oracle! (And PHP, for that matter.)

After a fun but tiring Christmas at Dinner Plain we headed South towards Bairnsdale to stay with Kay and Bob. They run a guest house and are the most-upstream private residence on the Nicholson river. Bob was away working on the rigs in Bass Strait, so we didn’t see him, but Kay made us most welcome and after a little talk about the snakes (red bellied black) that are around this year she sent us off to float in the river for much of our time.

The kids loved the experience and became quite confident in the flowing water. They also discovered that two people on one tube doesn’t add to stability!

Hopefully we will get back there again before Kay and Bob sell.

This year we spent Christmas in Dinner Plain, with the Brisbane grandparents and Aunt from Sydney. Temperatures got down to -1.8C on Christmas eve and left a decent frost on the car windows for Christmas day. After that things warmed up, with temperatures around 25C for the rest of the week.

Whilst there I was able to take a paraglider flight from Mystic Mountain. My pilot was good and kept me aloft for about half an hour before descending in a spiral from about 800m. The valley floor is at about 250m, so this was a rapid experience.

The thermals were developing too rapidly for Morwenna to get a flight, but we hope to be back in Bright in Autumn to dog-sit, so she may get a turn then. She and the kids loved watching me and others take off, which almost made up for the lack of flight.

Bright hit 40C that day. Too hot. So 15 of us went for a swim in the local river. That might have been the highlight for the kids!

The local paper is running a series of articles for International Polar Year about the Antarctic and Australia’s role there. The first article has a nice flash overview of science on the ice and its importance to humanity.

With Christmas looming there are few better things to do on a Saturday than avoid the rain (15mm) with a few thousand other people at a huge shopping centre. (With a three year old who has not yet worked out queues and their purpose.)

That done it was off to Joshua’s gymnastics display, which lasted for three hours. Almost 500 participants displayed their talents, bringing about boredom for the three year old and thus another shopping trip.

The evening was a barbecue which should have been great fun, but three-year-old was tired and didn’t eat. Instead she demanded pyjamas and ended up at home in bed at 19:45. Six year old lasted until after 22:00, when a friend gave him and Mum a lift home via Christmas lights. Both kids slept well…

Sunday was swimming in the morning, with much time spent splashing and diving and body surfing in the wave pool. On return home three year old demanded that she stay at home for the rest of the day… So Joshua and Mum went off by bike delivering Christmas cards to his school friends, whilst three year old and I make Christmas Pudding.

After a visit from Bruce and Sheila in the evening the day ended with the kids eating a new meal (!) including one of the small puddings.

It says here that the Arctic ice is re-freezing at a record pace. That will increase the northern albedo a bit, but may not halt the spectre of global warming.

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