Concerns I Have With Getting A Bike

– Finding a spot to lock it up when I arrive somewhere
– Falling off the bike when stationary at the traffic lights
– Taking one hand off the handlebars to indicate
– Being hit by a car door
– Being hit by a moving car
– Riding up hills
– Hitting a pothole
– Annoying other cyclists with poor technique
– Turning right

The Kid With A Lot Of Trophies

As a 7 year old kid, my bedroom looked more like a trophies room than somewhere you would sleep. From my shelving unit filled with trophies and medals, you’d assume that I was a successful junior basketballer, footballer and drag racer.

On another shelf lined a large collection of Goosebumps books, another pride and joy. On winters days, I would fill my school bag with as many books as my bag could handle. I’d then lay them out on a spare bookshelf at school, allowing classmates to read them during wet timetable. Some people describe a person’s library of books as trophies — an indication of your intellect and a marker of success.

The love of my Goosebumps books may have been the reason that it wasn’t until halfway through grade one that my teachers realised that I couldn’t read. While many days were spent fussing over my books (that were actually acquired from my older brother), I hadn’t actually bothered to read them. You might ask: Between basketball, football and drag racing, when would I have time to read? However, just like the books, you could describe me as a collector; They were won by my Dad and Brothers.

I loved the idea of being a successful junior sportsman or avid reader, however, it’s clear that the idea of something can be miles apart from actually doing it.

Just like collecting trophies doesn’t make you a sportsman, buying a camera doesn’t make you a photographer, buying a Garmin watch doesn’t make you a runner (annoyingly) and buying a Moleskine doesn’t make you a writer.

Why Chocolate Isn’t Chocolate

I handed a friend a piece of 99% cacao chocolate yesterday. She took a bite and with a disappointed look on her face said “It doesn’t taste like chocolate”.

It reminded me of a conversation that I had with some of my American friends over lunch one day. Peanut butter and jelly is a quintessential part of the American child’s lunchbox. As a kid growing up in the suburbs of Australia, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich was clouded in mystery; a reference to American culture typically seen in Hollywood films and Nickelodeon TV shows. The closest thing I ever got to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich was a concoction my childhood friend Allyson introduced me to. Her recipe included the two ends of a bread loaf, which was both exclusive, and in hindsight, a brilliant trick by her Mum Sharon to make someone eat the typically undesirable crusts.

With a slather of PB and a squirt of honey, it was a quick recipe that had the perfect mix of sweetness from the honey and the calorie density of the white bread and thick peanut butter.

I’m sure that this pastime has now been retired, with the influx of allergies now plaguing every kindergarten playground around the nation.

With further inspection of the PBJ sandwich that my American friends grew up with, came a number of rules and expectations that could only be cultivated through years of American lunchbox experience.

I made the mistake of assuming that “jelly” was what we would refer to in Australia as “jam”. Over the next 15 minutes, I was given a lesson in the nuances between, jam, jelly and jello.

As an adult, I have even tried combining strawberry jam (made by Nana) with peanut butter. I now know that this is an abomination of the true wonder of the sandwich, a bastardisation that in Melbourne would be known as American-Fusion.

In Australia, jello is known as jelly, jam translates well in both countries as fruit preserves, but I was left confused by America’s definition of jelly.

I learnt that while jam is of a high quality, using real fruit, jelly, is a much more desirable, smooth, silky — even synthetic — semi-solid product.

While every ingredient list would point to an inferior product, it is the preferred weapon for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Which brings me to our view on chocolate. While I gave my friend a close to perfect bar of pure cacao — the main ingredient of chocolate — she saw it as less desirable, compared to those purple bars with popping candy.

She’s not alone. Having spent a good part of three years seeking the perfect hot chocolate, I have visited a selection of chocolate shops around Australia.

These shops, however, are thinly veiled sugar factories, riding on the back of article headlines proclaiming the benefits of chocolate.

Just like jelly isn’t jam, maybe chocolate isn’t always chocolate. While the definition of chocolate isn’t its raw form, are we tricking ourselves into what we’re actually consuming? Soft drinks contain between 89% and 99% water, yet we’d never call it water. So, what are you eating? Is it chocolate, or it lollies with a bit of cacao for good measure?

Buying A Bike As An Adult

Lance Armstrong once said “If you worried about falling off the bike, you’d never get on”, which is precisely why I haven’t bought a bike in my adult life.

The last bike I owned was a purple and yellow Huffy. At the time, I thought it was pretty professional. It had gears, along with those cool handles that stick up at each end. (I now know that they’re called bullhorn handlebars). It was 2000 and my bike was my pride a joy. While the other ten year olds were grinding their skateboards on their makeshift skatepark at the bowl of our Court, I was cautiously exploring the 100 metres of road.

I was a paranoid kid. My bike had a security system, which included a rear wheel sensor, a speaker, and pin code unit that sat at the handlebar. When I set the alarm, any movement of the wheel without entering the pin code would set off a loud siren, followed by a recorded voice which announced “stolen bike!”. My bike had never been stolen until I got that alarm. The next door neighbours and my brothers would get a real kick out of seeing me run out to the side door and chase them around the court with my “STOLEN BIKE”.

Maybe all of these experiences made me a little bit bike-shy in my adult life, or it could be all of the horror stories of what Warnie has done to cyclists on Beach Road.

Either way, today was the day. I was buying a bike. I enlisted my German friend Till to help me with the purchase. Till is an avid cyclist and has a strong appetite for designer clothes, organic food and anything German or expensive. He also doesn’t shy away from giving his opinions. Even if they’re a little bit unpopular (he thinks Chin-Chin, the Melbourne restaurant, is shit).

When I told him I was going to buy a $400 bike, he paused. I’m sure he probably did a bit of vomit in his mouth. He explained the economics of bikes and how it’d be impossible to buy a bike that he’d feel safe riding on the road for that price. That being said, a $400 bike undermines his $300 pedals for his $4,000 bike, which he described as ’midrange’.

I know Till had my best interests at heart and did a lot of the talking at the three bike shops we visited this afternoon. “Is the frame made of steel? What type of brakes? What sizes do you have? Can Josh test one of them out?”. Sometimes I wasn’t sure if I was buying a bike, or if we were in the middle of the show Shark Tank, and Till was about to put in an offer.

With all of the questions answered, I felt comfortable in finally deciding on a bike that the salesperson recommended. It had been around 45 minutes at this stage, and I could feel the sense of relief from the salesperson when I was ready to do the deal. “Let me just check to make sure we have your size in stock” he said, making his way over to the store computer. Moments later, he returned looking a bit dismayed. “Sorry, we don’t have any stock left”.

It was an inexpensive single speed bike. Only $350. He suggested that I could buy the newer model which they could order in. “$599 for that one” he said. Obviously I would only do it if he could throw in a helmet. “I’m afraid I can’t do anything like that, we’re not making much on the bike” he said.

Now we played a classic game of sales-tennis, where I ask the annoying questions like “does any of your other stores have the cheaper one in stock?”

A few moments later, he checked with his manager. He couldn’t call another store (they’re all independently owned), however he’d do the better bike for $599 with a helmet. Sold! He told me that’d he’d just need a 50% deposit to order it in. While he was on the phone, I proceeded to Google the bike model. As a rule, I Google everything I buy to make sure I get the best deal.

Given it’d taken an effort to get the helmet chucked in, I knew that they were looking after me. That was until I saw the second search result: the bike advertised for $399 down the road.

With my credit card in one hand, my iPhone in the other, I had one of life’s biggest retail conundrums. Do I ask them for a better deal? Normally this answer would be easy “YES!”. However, the deal was basically a tap away from being complete. A minute of banter later and I had to try. “Hey, I’ve actually just found the bike for cheaper”, I’d just hit a volley so close to the line, we’re going to need the camera umpire for this one. I handed my iPhone to the manager. He scrolled up and down, looking at the details of the bike, where he commentated under his breath “I just don’t know how he’s doing that price. How are they making money?”

They couldn’t do any better than they’d done and I awkwardly put my card back in my wallet. “I guess I should just shop around a little bit more”. I did an awkward face, looking a little ashamed. “Thanks, guys. Your service has been fantastic”.

As I slowly stepped away from the counter, the sales guy and the manager nodded in agreement. I think even Till was a little shocked.

It felt like one of those moments where there’s a life lesson. Maybe it’s that I was never meant to buy a bike in the first place.

21 Films I Haven’t Seen That Are In IMDB’s Top 30

One thing that I have picked up on from the Internet is that people love lists. They love lists of:

– things that remind them of the 90s
– celebrities and their injuries (when I had a sore back once, I Googled this to make me feel better. For the record, George Clooney has a bad back).
– burgers, coffee shops (cafes) in Melbourne
– things to see while driving along The Great Ocean Road
– George Clooney movies (it’s very impressive given his sore back)

george

Today, I started to come up with a list that I would share with you. I landed on the click-baity title that would be sure to get you hook, line and sinker “Twenty Five Things I’ve Learnt from the age of 18 to 25”.

Unfortunately, within the 15 minutes I gave myself to write — I have rituals to get to — I was only able to list one item for the list:

1) Fly fishing is a type of fishing that uses a fake fly as bait (I was under the impression that it was called fly fishing because the line would fly in the air)

Note: Add joke to tie hook, line and sinker into fly fishing.

While thinking of potential lists, I began to think about my two party tricks: People’s astonishment that I don’t drink alcohol and the fact that I haven’t seen Star Wars or Schindler’s List.

So, let’s get this party started with my sober list of “21 Films I Haven’t Seen That Are In IMDB’s Top 30”:

2. The Godfather (1972) (I have seen one scene with a horse head)
3. The Godfather: Part II (1974)
5. Schindler’s List (1993)
6. 12 Angry Men (1957)
8. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
9. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
11. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
12. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
15. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
16. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
17. Goodfellas (1990)
20. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)
21. City of God (2002)
22. Se7en (1995)
24. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
25. The Usual Suspects (1995)
26. Life Is Beautiful (1997)
27. Léon: The Professional (1994)
28. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
29. Spirited Away (2001)
30. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Coming Soon: My Daily Rituals

So, you’re a professional grown-up, with a real job, real responsibilities and most importantly, real rituals that you do everyday of the week.

In preparation for this day, I’ve spent the last five years listening to audiobooks, podcasts and reading websites to make sure that I’m doing it right.

Rather than waiting for my grown-up rituals to be implemented, I’ve decided to release it early!

Disclaimer: Some of these rituals I have already implemented, like email, showering and eating.

Here it is:

Morning

6:00am – Wake up to electronic free bedroom with no alarm.
6:05am – Drink 1 litre of cold lemon water.
6:10am – Meditate (TM) for 20 minutes.
6:30am – Write in my gratitude journal.
6:40am – Stretch using my foam roller. (buy a foam roller here)
7:00am – Walk for 45 minutes listening to a podcast or audiobook. Get coffee from my local cafe on the way.
7:45am – Arrive home at the same time as my girlfriend (who has been at the gym) Cook breakfast. High protein. High Fat. Greens.
8:05am – Sit with girlfriend. Read out gratitude journal while eating breakfast together. Read RSS feed of curated blogs from my iPad.
8:45am – Shower. Starting with a warm temperature. Finishing for 2 minutes on cold.
8:55am – Put on clothes (prepared the night before)
9:00am – Take a seat in my home office. Work for 1 hour (undistracted) on a task set the night prior.
10:00am – Check email for the first time that day. Use standing desk.
10:30am – Respond to important emails and flag email that I’ll reply at a later date.
11:00am – Any client phone calls. Using headphones to avoid arm strain and to allow for note taking.
11:45am – Check back on important emails.

Afternoon

Midday – Walk to the local shops to buy groceries for lunch and dinner. Buy meat from Cannings, or similar organic, free range, grass-fed expensive butcher.
12:45pm – Cook lunch. Typically chicken or tuna with greens and salad dressing that I make fresh for the week on Sunday.
1:00pm – Eat lunch and check Instagram.
1:30pm – Add meat to the slow cooker (Lamb shoulder or similar)
1:45pm – Work on edit (distraction free). Drink tea. (no caffeine after 4pm, guys!)
3:45pm – Send client new edit. Check email and respond to important emails. Flag emails to deal with later.
4:15pm – Client phone calls.
5:00pm – Stretch and walk at the park.
5:45pm – Prepare salad for dinner. If I have time, create new zany dressing that’s different to lunch. If I don’t have time, use the one from Sunday.

Evening

6:15pm – Girlfriend arrives home. Chat about the day while we set the table.
6:30pm – Eat dinner. No electronics. Phones out of sight!
7:30pm – Tidy the apartment and do any washing. (listening to Apple Music)
8:30pm – Sit down on the couch. Check emails and catch up on my RSS feed subscriptions and Instagram, Facebook & Twitter.
9:30pm – No electronics after 9:30! Have a shower.
9:45pm – Read a book until tired.
10:30pm – Sleep.

Josh’s Official Road Trip Driving Rider

I have just arrived home from a trip to Tasmania. In eight days, we travelled over 1,250 kilometres. I decided to retrospectively create a rider that reflects my food consumption on the road trip.

I showed the below list to Bree. She had two pieces of feedback: “Driving Rider?…That doesn’t make sense” and “I didn’t have a whole bag of Minties. Your list implies I ate a whole bag”.

To address these concerns:

1) I think the confusion comes from Bree not knowing what a rider is. To be fair, I had been calling it a “writer” moments earlier. Now that I have Googled the correct word, I can tell you (with a level of smugness and authority): A rider is a list — think demands — that you’d typically see from a big-shot band or celebrity. You’ve probably heard of some bands that demand ridiculous things like one colour of M&Ms sorted into a bowl (you’ll be happy to know that I’m A LOT more reasonable).

2) While Bree didn’t eat the whole pack of Minties, she was the only one eating them (I don’t like Minties). By the end of the trip, there weren’t many left.

So, with those concerns now addressed, here’s Josh’s Official Road Trip Driving Writer Rider.

– Salted nuts
– Liquorice Logs (the ones that give me heartburn)
– Homemade Monte Carlo biscuit
– Cheap chocolate containing desiccated coconut (sometimes referred to as coconut rough)
– Paleo peanut butter cookie
– Coke Zero (I’m watching my calorie consumption) Bottle x 2 (600ml)
– Mount Franklin Water Bottle x 2 (1 litre)
– 1 bag of Minties (for the co-driver)
– One container of dark chocolate coated raspberries from the raspberry farm (containing no actual real raspberries)

A Stop in Queenstown, Tasmania

On our way to Cradle Mountain, Queenstown offered our first sight of civilisation since we left St Claire Lake National Park. Queenstown stuck in our mind from the night before, when Tasmanian farmer, Nick, who we had dinner with at Pumphouse Point, gave us recommendations on the best way to drive on our final three days in the state. His certainty around how long each section of the road trip would take was backed with enthusiasm and pride, the hallmark of a Dad who knew the roads well and never once considered the use of Google Maps.

He was quick to tell us where not to bother visiting. “Stanley is overrated” he said, followed by a checklist of three other places that had lost its way to mining or that had just “gotten tired”. Queenstown wasn’t on the blacklist, in fact, it received his full endorsement to visit on our journey to Cradle Mountain.

From a distance, on the winding, icy roads, it looked promising. A bunch of houses, even a main street with shops; it was a contrast to the wilderness we’d come from and a great opportunity to grab a bite to eat and to stretch our legs.

Parking in these smaller towns can feel strange. There’s no parking signs and we’re constantly doing double-takes to make sure we’re not in a restricted parking spot. I guess having the prime parking spot only two metres from the local IGA is like hitting the jackpot in Melbourne. In Queenstown’s main street, there were only around half a dozen cars parked along the 200 metres of street.

There’s no opportunity to be a niche shop in Queenstown. From my observations, each shop was a general store, made up of products that had been accumulated over many years of operation. The pie shop, for instance, was a Frankenstein of a VideoEzy rental store from 1995 and a local footy club canteen. It had been a while since I’d seen the cost of DVD rentals. $7 for a seven day rental, apparently (at that point, surely you own the DVD.) The glass fridges at the back of the store had a hodgepodge of chocolate bars—one box of Crunchies and half a box of Turkish Delights, which I’d argue shouldn’t be in the fridge in the first place and a surefire way to break a tooth. It seemed even more unnecessary, given the temperature at the time was just above zero degrees. My guess is that the chocolate bars were placed in the fridge on a hot day four or five Summers ago, and they’ve just never moved them since.

As we looked at the options of pies and sausage rolls, there were a surprisingly large amount of hot food options. Food that I hadn’t seen since year 7. (At the end of year 7 I spearheaded a healthy food campaign for the Student Representative Council, which saw all fried food removed from the canteen menu. A bit rich coming from a kid who had a hotdog for lunch everyday, but I digress). Fried chicken, wedges, every type of pie; this place had it all, along with enough cookies and cakes to just about feed the whole state of Tasmania, for four or five years.

As I began to order our lunch, Bree quickly changed her order from a pie to a sausage roll. Unsure with what just happened, I panicked and did the same. Bree later told me in the car that she saw the lady microwave one of the pies. And you know the rules, soggy sausage roll trumps soggy pie.

After we devoured our sausage rolls, which were less about giving us energy and more about defrosting our insides, we walked along the main street looking at properties for sale in the real estate windows. Curious as to what it’d cost to buy a piece of paradise in a pretty weird little town.