Friday, October 26, 2012

Lazy rider

pretty tree

The Long bike is back on the road again and rolling better than ever!
I thought I'd do a super quick post to say that I've finally got her back on the road.
I wasn't sure if I'd keep using the same bike frame since I haven't been able to find a suitable bottom bracket, but I decided to persist with the old Raleigh frame. It's been reliable and the other frame I've got, which has a decent bottom bracket, has got rust poking through the paint and it's bubbling all over the place.

Long bike break down

Last week I stripped the long bike down to basics to see what could be done. Most of the parts were totally worn. Although I'd only recently refurbished the drive train I tried to avoid replacing too many parts and the result was a pretty inferior ride! Besides the exploding chain, which I've used again except this time I've joined it with an appropriate link, I've realized that the bottom bracket had worn out prematurely, there was quite a bit of lateral movement which was wasting energy and causing extra wear on all the other bits. The 'Biopace' chain ring set had worn out sooner than should because I used it for too long with a worn chain and a wonky bottom bracket so I decided to ditch that too!

I knew the bracket I'd recently installed was not so great but I didn't realize how bad it had become. When I went to turn the axle by hand it would barely move! I'd seen a decent one at the tip shop a couple of days before so went back to get it but discovered some other womble had already taken it! Eventually I found one that seemed OK so I pulled it out hoping it would be worth the trouble. Having installed the bearings and packed the lot with some pretty old marine grease I found it much better than the last set but it still has more give in it than I'm happy with. I reckon a decent bottom bracket must be the rarest bike part to find at the tip and too expensive to buy new! I'll keep tightening this one and hope I can find something to replace it with soon. 

Long bike re-fit

Finally, with a few days to play I managed to clean out my bike cupboard/shed and re-discover all the bike parts I'd been hoarding for the past 10 years. Amongst the mess was a decent set of handle bars with gear shifters, brake levers and some nice hand grips so I decided to rip out the old bars, replace the cables and install a whole new handlebar unit... Yeee Haa!

Long bike re-fit

I ended up keeping my simple 6 speed shifter since I'd managed to find a couple of decent rear wheels with 6 speed cogs which meant I didn't need to replace my chain or anything else... besides less gears less worries I reckon! After attaching a brand new, from the shops, gear cable and reconnecting the chain, bottom bracket etc... I took the bike for a bit of a test ride and was in a state of bliss as it shifted gears effortlessly! (Of course this time I made sure the chain was attached properly and the derailleur was tuned perfectly!)

It seemed to take no time at all to attach the other cables and have everything tuned nicely and ready to roll. I was so glad to get the panniers back on and to actually start riding again. For a final touch I cut the pink hand grips off the kids bars and put on a $5 set of blue foam ones. The blue matches other bits of colour on the bike... Not that I've ever cared about the way it looks but now that I'm so happy with it I'm starting to think about adding some more blue. ;) Its the colour of our school team Gudbilling ( the snake) so the kids are keen to turn the bike into a mascot!

Long bike overhaul... again

 All this fiddling with decrepit bikes might seem like a waste of time to some people but who cares what they think! I know there's plenty of people who could easily have told me about all my mistakes before I made them but, how would I really know? (well there's some mistakes I'm happy to learn about from others). I have been on the edge of tossing this old bike out so many times, but once again I have played around with it for a while and learned a bunch of new stuff about how it all goes together. Maybe next time I'll chuck it out but right now I'm in love with my old heap of junk bike again!

Ready to roll

On Wednesday I took the bike for a ride and discovered to my disgust that I've already become unfit and out of shape. Sweat pouring off me. It seems more effort to peddle now than it did when the bike broke down, even though the rear wheel and bottom bracket are smoother than ever and the old bearings had virtually seized! Too bad so sad. At least I'm back in the saddle.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Talking to a brick wall - Political Stuff

Blogging politics...
It's funny this blog hasn't really been a platform for making political comment... at least I don't think it has. But a lot of my life seems engulfed by political issues that I can't escape from. My work and personal interests have made political issues an inevitable and unavoidable part of my life. The people I work with and for are directly affected by an enforced occupation of their land by a government that has never legitimized their presence in the form of any treaty or legally acknowledged process of acquisition. Their laws and customs have been interfered with at virtually every level. Traditional systems of governance that once maintained social harmony and balance are continually interfered with and they are blamed for the resulting dysfunction and accused of being unable to adapt!

The Federal Intervention into Indigenous Communities in the NT which even suspended the racial discrimination Act just so the government could completely take over Aboriginal communities was recenly perpetuated by legislation known as the Stronger Futures Bill. The Australian People barely batted an eyelid why should they care, since the laws only apply to Indigenous people. The average Ausie probably doesn't think their lives could possibly be affected by such discriminatory laws.

About a year ago A group of prominent Yolngu leaders from East, West and Central Arnhem Land got jack of being screwed around and so they formed theYolngu Nations Assembly known in Yolngu matha as (Yolnguw Makarr-Dhuni).
Last week in Maningrida the Makarr Dhuni gathered for a second annual meeting and have made a media statement which can be read HERE on the Blog Cultural Worlds, It's not likely they will get the media attention they deserve.

Last weekend representatives of Makarr-Dhuni met with the NT Chief Minister Terry Mills:

They made a formal statement on the following subjects:


Here's what they had to say about STRONGER FUTURES:

"We want self-determination. We want democracy. We want the power of the people in Arnhem Land and in all Aboriginal communities to be recognised and our rights respected.
We want the Intervention to be thrown out, and we want the Northern Territory Government to lobby the Federal Government on our behalf. The Federal Government must start to listen to the voices on the ground. No more deception, no more lies, we want the Intervention out now and self-determination to be taken seriously.

We never consented to this law, and we were never asked if we wanted the continuation and extension of these laws under the deceptively named “Stronger Futures” Act. We will not tolerate this bullying and it is no way to treat human beings. We are being led around like dogs on a lead with the Basics Card, compulsory acquisition of our land, police coming into our houses without a warrant, and having our law disqualified from recognition or consideration in court.
All this was done and continues to be done under the lie that we are hiding pedophiles and that child abuse comes from our culture. This is disrespectful, slanderous and fundamentally untrue. It is undermining our law, our culture and our whole identity. All this so Government can get legitimacy to take over our communities.
We demand an apology from the Federal Government.
We have our own system of law to prevent disagreements from escalating. We keep peace and order through good governance and we have very serious and consistent ways of teaching respect and discipline to all our young people. We have ways of dealing with people who have broken the law that means they are not a threat to the community while they are taught responsibility and maturity. These processes are being eroded through community disempowerment and Government attacks on our legitimacy as leaders and our society as a whole."

Yolŋuw Makarr Dhuni (Yolŋu Nations Assembly)
Maningrida: October 11th – 13th, 2012.
Yolŋuw Makarr Dhuni represents the people of eight nations in the Western, Central and East Arnhem Land areas of the Northern Territory:
Miwatj, Laynha, Raminy, Marthakal, Garriny, Gumurr-Rawarraŋ, Gatjirrik and Miiyirrk

With thanks to Cultural Worlds

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Is it getting hot in here?

Darwin is on the cusp of becoming an industrialized Gas processing 'hub' and is already swarming with opportunists and mercenaries in fluro green and orange shirts. Hoards of blokes getting paid too much to aid the last hoorah... despite the warnings of global warming our Government is overjoyed at the prospect of converting what remains of the planet's safely stored carbon into CO2 for our pleasure and comfort and their profit. Profits will overflow from the booming Fossil Fool industry which, apparently is good for the economy but for those who live where the money is being made the prices are going up up up... With so much money around we've all gotta pay! An escalated price of living at the centre of the next boom means if you're not riding the gravy train you'd better get off their tracks!

Darwin changes all the time! Who are we who came so recently to demand that it remains the way we liked it? ...I've only been here 16 years! When I got here people would say "The Town's not what she used to be..." Well... In another five years will anyone even remember any of those old places we used to know? They knocked the Darwin Hotel down in the middle of the night and within a couple of weeks it may as well never have existed at all. One by one the elevated fibro houses on stilts with louvered walls and cypress floors were carted away, another 50 soulless sarcophagus slivers take their place... more military, more cashed up construction workers, gas workers, no families no homes.
Will any of them stay long enough to feel the goose bumps rise on their skin when the Mills family stand together one more time and sing Arafura Pearl? Has that time already passed? No more black fellas on Mitchel Street... Just franchised replicas of English bars, police dressed like SWAT thugs in intimidating blue, bars open all hours down at the Broken Jaw, drunken white tourists, shaved heads and muscles, half empty schooners, abusive losers, two pot screamers no room for dreamers! Takers, wasters, demanding more beer and one last shot it's time for Hunnypot! Oh dear I think I've lost the Plot...

Yacht (that got away)

Now I forgotten what I was posting about...
Oh yeh. So the rent is going up and the domestic lifestyle has had me against the ropes so for the past few months (well since last year actually) I've been looking for an alternative way to live. The romantic fantasy that's been following me around since... Well I can't remember how long actually,  has reared it's head again. I went out last week in search of a boat. There was an unreserved auction to be held on Saturday so I made arrangements to check out the boat. A 40 ft Steel hulled yacht. It was pretty close to what I thought I was looking for but I had no idea what I should actually be 'looking for' when it comes to sea worthiness. I had a rough idea of what it would be worth (if in reasonable condition) but I couldn't tell if it was actually any good below the waterline and what do you do with a diesel engine that won't start? After a lot of deliberating I decided I'd have to be mad to just go out and blow all our savings on such a whim so I baulked. I went along to the auction and it sold for a bit more than I thought it would. When it had sold I felt relieved but then I felt a deep regret. Ha! Well I'll just have to suffer and keep on looking!

As I was leaving the marina I had a chat with the Lochmaster who reminded me that marinas are places full of broken dreams. Every yacht has got a story and every owner will have paid a pretty high price for the privilege. At the time I was comforted but as I consider the life I am living ashore, more and more something is gnawing at me and demanding that I persist with this crazy idea! Besides, pretty soon ashore will no longer be an option!

Bean garden
Failing to completely drop out I decided I would at least take this week off. I mean compared to committing my life to the sea, a week of gardening and fixing my bikes is pretty tame isn't it! So On the weekend I climbed to the top of a ladder and cut the top off a carpentaria palm with a machete and a hatchet... The tree fell without the usual warning signs and I had to leap off the ladder and run for my life!  I've strung up some bamboo to use as a trellis between the stump and the tree next to it and will hopefully grow some snake beans and winged beans.

Transport wise I've gone to the dogs! With my best bikes off the road for the past couple of weeks and and excess vehicles just sitting around at work I've weakened and have been driving a dirty big stinking gas guzzling car to and from work every day! This really pisses me off because it's so easy to do! Jump in the car, there's aircon, I can play my CD's and just sit in a comfortable capsule, insulated from the world while I drive to work, or work related places like that... There are many things I hate about it and I'm not being a martyr! Consumption of fosill fuels costs money! There are also hidden costs like the speeding fines I've received! (How can I be righteous behind the wheel of a large automobile?) I am also getting fat.

Derailleur and wheel

So now that I'm off work for a while I've decided to try and fix the long bike one last time before ditching the old bike it's attached to. I managed to grab a pretty decent steel rim and a very nice derailleur from the tip shop for under $10. If I can get a long gear cable tomorrow I could actually have the bike back on the road ready to use for the rest of the week. Hallelujah!