Day 67 – Shop / Walk / Shop

My original plans for the day fell through, so I was suddenly faced with seas of time. My day always starts with a simple sequence of: shower, weigh, check sleep pattern and log weight on PC, and then on from there. Today I spent another hour or so typing up some notes before doing anything of consequence.

I drove to Rouse Hill first. I had a shirt to return to Jay Jays; apparently in some shirts I’m not even a Medium at the moment. I have no idea when that happened. It took the shop assistant some time to find me a small to exchange. There didn’t seem to be any, but the system said there should be. Turned out there had moved across the store in the intervening week.

Then I walked the block of the shops, and decided to grab a 2-and-5-Juice at Boost to enjoy in the sunshine before heading home.

After recovering at home and eating some cookies (I hadn’t had lunch yet at this point), I decided to go walk up and down Stanhope Parkway. I drove my way there and parked in a side-street.

I had decided I needed to park in a side-street on the side of the Stanhope Gardens shops. Because that was the only way to walk a loop all the way along the parkway without crossing my own path. Because I had to do some shopping, and I decided I’d arrange it so that would be the shortest part of the walk.

I should have just parked at the Stanhope Gardens shops right off the bat and walked the lap from there. I had a shopping list with me, and I hadn’t looked carefully yet. I had decided that the shopping couldn’t be much of an issue anyway.

After walking up and down the Parkway for 90 minutes, carrying 10kg in each hand for another kilometre isn’t actually as trivial as it had seemed in my mind. Additionally, the 10kg back of clay litter didn’t have a handle, so I had to keep swapping hands carrying the bags to give my hands a rest.

It took a while to get back to the car.

But as a reward, as I walked into the shops, my bracelet got all excited telling me I’d passed the 10k steps mark for the day. So there is that at least.

I didn’t do much besides watching Breaking Bad for the rest of the day.

Day 66 – Moon over the M7

Moon over the M7
Moon over the M7

I took dozens of long-exposure pictures on the tripod so I had a choice of car-light-trails. This one appealed the most to me. There is also a little cheat in here; the moon was photo-shopped in from a separate second image because the moon is actually too bright to get a nice detailed exposure. Street lights may actually look bright, but they are nothing when compared to the moon. Unexpected, but true.

Day 65 – RED 2

Strictly speaking, I should have posted this by 8pm to comply with my own rules. But this is my blog, so I can do what I want. Hah! (Also, I was distracted by mathematics for most of the evening, so I lost track of time)

I went to see RED 2 with Ken. Originally Abbey was going to come for the regular Wednesday as well, but she fell asleep before I even left the door. (This may be an exaggeration).

The movie was just as hilariously over-the-top as the original RED proved to be. Where in the original Bruce Willis steps out of a car in the most spectacular fashion, in this movie he gets back into a car in a similar way. It’s action for its own sake, but with a big wink and the most improbable scenes you will ever see in an action movie.

Before all that though, dinner.

My "Small" Dinner
My “Small” Dinner

Abbey had recommended “Griddle” in Rouse Hill. She had warned me about the portion sizes and asked me to convey this message to Ken.

We were stubborn. Twice.

Ken had a long hard look at the ribs on the menu, and never having had lamb ribs before, he decided to try those. He toyed with the idea of getting the double ribs (probably not the triple). What arrived for the single though was two half racks of ribs, and had he picked anything else he’d have needed more than one plate.

My main was a little more modest than his, but very tasty and filling. I understand why Abbey keeps going there.

And also Dessert
And also Dessert

We were a little concerned at 15 minutes before our movie time (we assumed we’d have 30 minutes) that we wouldn’t be able to try dessert. The girl that was serving us suggested that with 30 minutes to spare we could easily fit any dessert and we wouldn’t need to pick for speed.

I decided that “Chocolate Fondue Waffles” sounded innocuous enough.

What I received is the monstrosity you see above. I finished just over half the contents of the platter, and I have no idea how anyone can eat a meal *and* a dessert at this place.

Next time I think I need to bring more hunger along. That is how you solve that particular problem, right?

Day 64 – Celebrating Two Months

I am now about two months into my 365 day journey. It hasn’t been as hard as I had feared, but on the other hand, I do think I need to make a slight adjustment to the unspoken part of the rules.

Rather than write boring posts on the days that nothing much interesting happens that I can share with the world, I’ll instead be trying for one really good photo to put up. When I have to take special steps to get the picture I put up, I might write a paragraph about that, but otherwise it’ll just be a picture… and the unwritten understanding will be that the most interesting thing that happened to me that day was the taking of the picture ๐Ÿ˜‰

I don’t think I will be needing to do that too often, but it’ll save me some agonizing over topics, only to be followed by more agonizing over poor quality by my own standards.

Anyway, on to the topic for today.

The Making Of...
The Making Of…

About a month ago, Peter kindly made good on his bet against me making the one month mark with a very nice bottle of wine from South Africa. Today I made good on my counter that after another month of him reading and commenting, he’d get the display box back with something else inside. He didn’t seem as pleased to have the box back as I had anticipated…

And so I did.

And apparently the cookies even turned out edible. By the time I headed home, three had disappeared. I don’t know if Sarah reads any posts, but if she stumbles across this one: there were 13 cookies there before Peter had any.
Just so you know.

I guess it’s safe now to dig into the further batches at home. (Pro tip: when possible, always get someone else to eat your wares before you try them yourself)

I’m sure there are other regular readers, and if you care to, you can let me know who you are and I’ll do my best to get something appropriately rewarding your way as well.

One more month till the quarter-way mark.

Day 62 – A Day Without Strain

Last week, I decided to make this a long weekend to allow me to use my birthday gift voucher for Face Of Man in the city.

But first, a visit to my masseuse.

It’s amazing how much my back tightens up after a visit to Melbourne. It could just be the general strain of my classes at the gym, but I’m sure the uneven load in the form of a messenger bag and a backpack that I use to travel is probably not doing my back any favours either.

Still, an hour with nothing else on my mind but to relax while my knots get prodded forcefully fixes that very quickly.

If Only It Were Always This Quiet
If Only It Were Always This Quiet

And then after quickly grabbing a coffee it was time to catch a train into the city. I can heartily recommend travelling in the early afternoon. None of this congestion that I always hear so much about.

The sky had been looking gloomy all morning (it looks like the weather can be relied on to be cold and wet when I take a day off), and as I was halfway to Sydney it started raining down very heavily.

I have no umbrella.

I Should Have Brought an Umbrella
I Should Have Brought an Umbrella

One look out of the Queen Victoria Building made me realise I’d be better off first covering the distance inside the building out of the rain. Only to discover at the other end that a true downpour had developed in the three minutes it took me to cover the distance.

Luckily I had some time up my sleeve to wait out the worst of it, but I really need some different footwear. My Nike Frees are more permeable than I would have liked… the price I pay for the most comfortable 3.0 model. Basically, as I start walking my feet pick up just enough water on the soles that it sloshed in through the mesh fabric where it then slowly soaks into my socks. And I wasn’t even on my way home yet! ๐Ÿ™

And It Was Pouring...
And It Was Pouring…

I got to my appointment in time though, and I opted for lasers. I have very sensitive skin on my neck, and it really doesn’t like shaving much. Removing the hair permanently stings badly, but in the long run it’s less painful than scraping off the skin with a razor on a semi-regular basis.

They adjust the strength of the laser based on skin type and hair colour. Luckily I’m very white, and my hair is still very dark. That’s the best combination, because the point is to expose the hair itself to so much intense heat that the follicle burns out without burning the skin. Even so, I wasn’t supposed to expose my skin to sunlight right after (hah! I guess the rain was good for something after all!)

It may need another couple of treatments after this to sort the problem permanently, but with each lasering it should be thinner and easier to shave.

Day 61 – Death and Taxes

Minus the Death…

I really don’t mind doing my tax return that much. I think what it comes down to is that I keep my documents sufficiently (dis-)organised that by the end of the year it really doesn’t feel like it takes a lot of time, and the return usually is large enough that it feels like easy money for the 2-3 hours I might spend putting my return together.

My system is fairly simple.

Throughout the year, I just dump everything in a big box. Utility statements, receipts, credit card statements, various mail and documents from my super, my work, etc. Basically everything I may want to keep that has some financial part to it.

I don’t bother trying to sort it through the year. Thinking about this stuff throughout the year is not as efficient as sorting through 12 months’ worth in one hit at the end of the year. Because let’s face it, if I did it throughout the year, I’d still need to spend time sorting through it at the end of the year anyway.

And I don’t bother triaging for relevance to my taxes either. I store everything.

The receipts that I don’t need; for purchases from Haighs earlier in the year, or that dinner I paid for, or the DVDs I bought… I throw those out at tax time when I think once about what I need to keep for tax purposes or my personal records, and what can just go straight in the bin.

Everything that I need to keep, I sort into piles by category… utilities, work, super, receipts.

And after I pick the bits I need for my tax return while I fill it out in e-Tax, everything goes into coloured folders in the box that the receipts accumulate on top of for the next year.

This means that next year I only have to look at what is on top of the folders, and if I ever need to check my longer term records, I have everything grouped in the folders by category for the 5 years before.


Maybe I’m a little OCD.

Day 60 – Five Stars for my Feet

I’ve regularly been taking walks to get to my 10,000-steps-a-day goal. The FitBit has been very demanding of me, and I have been very obliging. Today was the longest walk so far; I’m starting to drive to different places to start from so that I don’t get stuck looking at the same scenery over and over again.

Today, I started from Quakers Hill Station and did a substantial lap around the suburb.

I had decided a week ago that I wanted to walk the length along the railway line between Quakers Hill and Marayong, and either walk back or use the train to return. But scoping out the area at night I wasn’t sure this was a suitable night walk… especially because I like to get lost in my headphones while I walk which leaves me with little sense of my surroundings.

So today, my chores already done, I decided that I may as well go for it in the remaining daylight. All told, I started my walk at about 3:26pm and I made it back to the car by 4:41pm. Inbetween my pedometer went from 5915 steps made earlier in the day to a staggering 14925 by the time I was home again where my PC could tell me what the FitBit had counted for me.

I Like the Odd Roof on the House
I Like the Odd Roof on the House

What I enjoy most about the walks whether they are during the daylight or in the night, is really seeing the areas that I otherwise only ever drive through at more than 50km/h. The houses, the flora and the scenery all become a lot more interesting when they do not leave streaking trails through my viewfinder.

One thing that struck me today is the overwhelming oddity of the houses along Railway Road with the looming M7 in the background. The area where this cuts through Quakers Hill is one that I rented in quite a while ago. Back when there was no M7 even being constructed. It really dwarfs the houses when I looked at it from todays perspective.

Walking Under the M7
Walking Under the M7

Although to be fair, they have done an excellent job at isolating the noise, because even when I was walking right underneath it didn’t sound like there was a major highway overhead.

I also came across a couple of entries and exits that lead to the cycle path along the M7. The sign declared that I could reach Castle Hill and Mount Druitt by taking the ramp; I’m not entirely sure whether I am prepared to believe either is a simple trip on the bike.

It didn’t feel like Marayong was as far away as I had expected, but just as I was climbing the incline towards the station my wrist band buzzed merrily suggestion that I had in fact already covered 4000-odd steps. In my mind this meant I was about halfway, but in reality that wasn’t quite true.

Still, at that point the sun decided to return when it had been threatening to rain. I was entirely prepared to return home soaking if need be; I don’t mind the prospect of rain when I am on my way home… I only detest it when I am on my way somewhere else.

Does This Indicate a Rough Neighborhood?
Does This Indicate a Rough Neighborhood?

As I turned onto Quakers Road it dawned on me how close I’d be coming to Illabo Street where I once rented. I considered walking up that way until I realised it’d be up-hill and closer to Railway Road where I had just passed than where I was walking now.

Still, it made me fondly remember the wooden floors, and slightly less fondly the musty smelling air-conditioning unit in the wall, and the one time where the real estate agents were showing potential buyers through and decided to lock the door behind them with a lock that I didn’t have the key for.

And I came right past Quakers Court where I used to go for groceries and chips (not necessarily at the same time).

The suburb seems to have barely changed.

Over the M7
Walking Over the M7

Except for that M7 again… this time I got to go over the top. It looks even roomier and sprawling on foot than it does as you zoom along it at 100km/h. It’s one of the few pieces of road infrastructure in Sydney that has been designed to accommodate whatever the future might demand of it. If the need arises they can easily fit another 2 lanes in each direction for additional traffic.

The last stretch of my walk went through Douglas Road, where the nominal shops of the centre Quakers Hill are. It looks like a bit of a sad bunch, but there are some delicious smelling Indian stores and take-aways along the way. The smells reminded me that I hadn’t officially had lunch, and it was getting close to dinner time.

As I turned the corner and started walking back towards the station, I saw a bench with some kids in the distance. I wasn’t paying too much attention until one of them started madly waving at me and tried to tell me something over the noise in my ears.

*unplug one ear*
Me: “What was that?”
Kid: “Mister, can you loan us some money?”
Me: *glances at little store they are sitting across from*
Kid: “You look rich!”
Me: “Sorry kids…”, *keeps walking*

I admire the guts, and I even admire the hopeful attempt at terrible flattery (I guess it is possible that to a kid his age my sunglasses and bluetooth headset might have exuded wealth beyond belief), but I’m not sure I should be encouraging them to beg for money from strangers on the street by giving in.

And now my legs have that wonderful weary feeling to them. I think it’ll be a few more weeks before the walking is sufficiently routine for my legs to catch up completely.