Saturday, 30 October 2010

I went chasing skirts one evening

On a rainy day in early October I happened to be in the office twiddling my thumb. And while I was surfing the internet and pretending to work, an email message popped up saying: Get Ready Australia!
With the amount of spam mail going around, I clicked to delete the message but my mouse slipped and instead opened the message. (Yep, I blame this skirt chasing on my mouse).
The email piqued my interest as I read about some skirt chasing event. I was getting excited until it said something about a race series – a running event.

Well to cut the story short, gullible me signed up for the Brisbane leg of the Skirt Chaser 5k Race Series. The venue was at the Brisbane Botanic Gardens. Now that sounded like a familiar place. I searched my memory. Then I remembered that I had run there before in the Brisbane running festival.

The email linked to some blurb describing the skirt chaser as-

an experience unlike any race you’ve run. This innovative event puts a flirty spin on a running classic by mixing running and fun in an innovative social fitness event. The Skirt Chaser 5k is a 5km run within the City Botanic Gardens.
On race day I lazed for a bit, skipped on my chores thinking there’s always a maƱana. Ahh procrastination, it comes as a thief in the daytime. I drove up to South Brisbane, found a park near the convention centre, and then trudged along the Brisbane river at the parklands.
There’s some worthy attractions along the riverwalk of southbank. From the Grey Street bridge going south and east are: Kurilpa bridge, gallery of modern art (GOMA), Qld state library, Qld museum, Qld cultural centre, Qld performing arts complex (QPAC), thence the parklands attractions – ferris wheel, Qld conservatorium of music, southbank piazza, boat harbour, beach, numerous cafes and food outlets, park amenities, the arbour walk, formal gardens, maritime museum etc. Walking along these places shortens the distance and suddenly I found myself at the foot of the Goodwill bridge about a kilometre down from Grey street bridge.

Grey skies aided the onset of evening as i strolled along the Goodwill bridge overlooking the CBD.

I could see Qld univ of tech (QUT), the parliament house, and a few other of the Brisbane highrise as the dark clouds loomed ominously. I got caught up with sight-seeing when i glanced at my watch which read 4:50pm. I hastened along for the race start.

I got there after negotiating the maze of QUT - the wayfinding map looked like alien script to me.

The girls were about to start as I quickly pinned my race bib and then joined the back of the chasing pack – the skirt chasers group. I was quite certain it was all male.

The ladies scooted off at the gun. And then the males followed 3 minutes later. The starter gun sounded like thunder, or maybe it was thunder I heard, because just two minutes into the race, the first rains of Spring (in the southern hemisphere) tumbled down on that October eve.

The rain didn’t bother me at all. I was running in the rain and loving it – brings back memories from childhood. If only the shoes weren’t so sloshy.
Well we did two laps through and around the beautiful botanic gardens. I managed to catch and pass a few of the ladies.
The single girls had a sticker on the rear of their skirt. This tells that they are single and that the males could flirt. But alas none of the ladies I caught had a sticker on them. I was too slow! The story of my life really.

Hello Jessica. Jessica (from work) was shackled to her running partner.
But hey I beat her.

I took a couple of happy snaps then retraced my steps back to my car as the night fell.

I wrote this blog as October ended. It was a rainy month, and a bit quiet on the running front. But i did do one race. The Skirt Sports Skirt Chaser 5k Race Series. It was held on 2nd October 2010. It now seems like months ago.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Rated R. Like a rolling stone

Rolling Stone (Australian edn). October 2010

I was flicking through the pages of this issue, came to page 5 and then checked the cover and name of the magazine. It definitely was Rolling Stone.
It was an eye opener of sorts. There's more of the same in the pages of the magazine.

But the point of this post is the real eye-opener: the article on international affairs featuring the capitalists cashing in on global warming. If we did not know it yet – they’ve been around for decades now, in Baguio and elsewhere – Chinese and South Koreans involved in the global land grab, are buying up farmlands, properties, and real estate in the Philippines, with a little help from their friends or agents in government.

The people in the uplands (Applai) of the Philippine Cordillera know the best policy here – never sell. The 30 pesos of saliva is worth just that. The Igorot leader from Kalinga Macli-ing Dulag said it before: "you do not own the land, the land owns you..." or words to that effect.*

The moral of the story?
Cordillera land is restricted. It is sacred...
Tell the Chinese, Koreans, foreign nationals or government officials representing them directly or indirectly, and all other outsiders with malicious intent-
The land of the Igorots is not for sale!

* A source cites that when an army survey team asked the Kalingas for titles to their ancestral land, Dulag was reported to have replied:
"You ask us if we own the land. And mock us, 'Where is your title?' Such arrogance of owning the land when you shall be owned by it. How can you own that which will outlive you?"

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

October reads and listens 2

This selection is a mixed set. Some fiction with music CDs. Not quite strange bedfellows. What could be better on a rainy day, week or month eh?


There are three books by Joyce Carol Oates here. The latest of her novels A Fair Maiden involves a 16-year-old girl and an old man. It's a little unsettling and there are creepy undertones in a book touching on stereotypes. It references the traditional folk ballad 'Barbara Allen', but I fail to see the link.
Oates's most recently published book Wild Nights, is a collection of short stories about the last days of Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Henry James and Ernest Hemingway. These are not true stories. Instead, she uses her imagination to invent what could be called fictional memoirs. 
The Gravedigger's Daughter made the New York Times' "10 Most Notable Books of the Year" list. Oates is one of those "everyone has read at least one book by her" authors. I read a couple of the books by her. Oates (a lit professor at Princeton) has won and been a multiple nominee of various awards and prizes. This is my pick of her work i've read so far.

Lisa Scottoline’s latest book, Look Again is apparently intriguing. Supposedly a dilemma between love and morality – between what society and your brain say are right and good, against what you feel. I made it to page 10, and then didn't look again.

The Sleeping Doll is one of Jeffrey Deaver's recent books. Kathryn Dance leads a manhunt for the 'Son of Manson'. I let the sleeping doll lie.

Music CDs.

Willie Nelson’s Collections is a compilation only CD that provides a brief introduction to his music. This includes many of his popular songs and a duet with Merle Haggard (Townes Van Zandt’s Pancho and Lefty).

Calling Me Home’ is Sara Storer’s first Greatest Hits collection. The two disc package includes her biggest hits, new recordings plus live tracks and rarities, cover versions and various duets.

Merle Haggard is one of the living legends of country music. I Am What I Am delivers a collection of tunes exploring life (and love). It’s not much different from the Hag of old, still possessed of his trademark ornery streak.
(On the road again) Music For Cruisin’ - is a series of compilations of classic songs - intended as a soundtrack to travelling the great outdoors of Australia. This includes selections from Willie Nelson, Dr. Hook, Simon and Garfunkel, Jimmie Rodgers, Jimmy Buffett, Van Morrison, and Johnny Cash amongst others.

Two men and the blues. In 2007 two musicians (Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis) from different corners of the music world collaborated for two days of concerts, and this album (released in 2008) is the harvest. This record is much more interesting than just country and jazz.

The movie Valentine's Day tracks the intertwining romantic story lines of a group of LA denizens over the course of a Valentine's Day. The Soundtrack is packed with 18 songs from Michael Franti, Willie Nelson, Ben E King, Nat King Cole, etal.

More books.
I think I may have noted these books elsewhere. Maybe. It's been a few blogs ago. Do check them out.

True Grit DVD. A tough U.S. Marshal helps a stubborn young woman track down her father's murderer. Yes it's a cowboy flick with John Wayne and Glen Campbell (the rhinestone cowboy) - on the waste lands of the old American west.
Or maybe look up "The Waste Land" by T.S. Eliot.

Uncut fittingly features Merle Haggard, while Mojo does Dylan again, and then Tom Waits in another issue.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Bridge to Brisbane fun run 2010

The Bridge to Brisbane is a fun run held each year around August or September. The first race took place in 1997 with less than 5000 entrants but has been growing ever since. In 2010 more than 32,000 people took part. The numbers were slightly less than last year. 2009 bridge-to-brisbane
The bridge of the ‘bridge to brisbane’ is the Gateway bridge (see below). And having put in some sweat into part of its upgrade works, I thought of joining the fun run. The Bridge to Brisbane course included the newly opened second gateway bridge. I missed the opening day held in May this year, which made it all the more imperative to do the run, if I was ever to set foot on the new bridge.
This is the second time i joined this annual 10km event since the inception of this blog, although I did enter the 2008 5km fun run.

On race day (this was a few weeks ago now), I got up before 4am. Just a drink of water was all I had for breakfast. It was quite dark when i left home. Last year I got fined for illegal parking, so this time after checking out the street network on the maps, I also checked the street signs carefully. I managed to find a parking space near the shuttle stop near the race finish area at the ‘ekka’ grounds. Then along with many early bird runners, I caught the first bus for the 20-minute drive to the start line in Murarrie. We arrived at the start muster area before 5am.

Then the waiting started.
Nature called a couple of times while the daylight slowly conquered the fading night. The crowd of twittering runners started to grow.

Soon the race announcer perked up and started on his megaphone. I took a couple of photos of the massing clusters of runners. My camera’s flash had broken down and my photos turned out fuzzy.

Back to waiting and studying the other runners. They are of all ages, male and female, big and small.
Approaching the start time, our numbers swelled. Reports say more than 32,000. Finally at 6:05am our group (sub 60-min green group) was told to move on towards start line, behind the red (sub 50-min) and blue (elite sub 40-min) groups. I jogged/walked along with the madding throng rushing towards the bridge. Suddenly I heard the announcement to keep on going to a running start.
The mass of runners sped up. Up the 1km incline to the midpoint of the Gateway bridge then also 1km down to the north bank. Then I tried to get into rhythm.
My laces come off at around the 4km and I lose precious seconds.
I ignored the drink stops until the last one at about the 8km mark, when I felt like I could not go any farther. At the heartbreak hill at the ICB (inner city bypass), I simply ran out of puff. The runners of my pace group that I worked hard to pass, just overtook me with ease as i slowed down to almost a walk. The final kilometre was a struggle, but my time is well within last year’s. My 56:30 race clocktime was adjusted to 55:00 official net time.

After I crossed, I took time to recover. Then I took off my timing chip, snapped off a couple of shots and headed to the exits. I collected a race shirt, a copy of the Sunday paper and then hunted down the refreshments stands. I tasted all the cut fresh fruits: watermelon, oranges, apple, banana and a cup of energizer drink.

Afterwards I treated myself to cappuccino, then searched a spot for some of the warm sunshine in the cold morning. I got a hat courtesy of suncorp, and walked around a bit before I left.

There’s a draw for a free car and all the runners are entered but knowing my luck, I know I’ll have better odds beating Usain Bolt in the 100m than winning a free car. So I bid the btb’ers adieu.

The Gateway bridge.
The bridge of the ‘bridge to brisbane’ is the Gateway bridge. The Gateway Bridge is 64.5 metres (as high as a 20 storey building) and stretches 1.63 kilometres across the Brisbane River, with its main span 260 metres, the longest cantilevered box girder main span in the world.
The Bridge was designed to comply with air and shipping navigation requirements, as well as the maximum approach grade to suit traffic needs.

The Gateway bridge is a vital part of Queensland Motorways’ road network. It is the centrepiece of the Gateway upgrade project.
These upgrades include the construction of the second gateway bridge, motorway widening (4 to 6 lanes), bridge refurbishment, 7kms of new motorway and a new interchange for access to Brisbane airport.

I have had opportunity to be involved in some of the works associated with these projects, especially at the Motorway bridge intersections at Wynnum Road in Tingalpa - above, and Greendale Way in Carindale, below.

I also watched the bridge grow from the turning of the soil to its stately graceful final form, this from other adjacent work sites and from just passing by the bridge over the last few years.

Bridges. Let's build some more.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Reading ideas for rainy October

Cynthia Stokes Brown. Big History. Attempts to present the scientific story, including various disciplines, from the big bang to the present. The depths of time and space from 13.7bya on through the formation of Earth and our solar system. Then on to the evolution of life to the hunting and gathering age, including organized agriculture 10,000 ya; from early agriculture to industrialization; China under the Tang dynasty, 618-907 CE; On Europe's conquest of the America"; On the end of slavery; On European domination and the rise of racism; On the expansion of science in the 20th century.

Orwell. Homage to Catalonia is Orwell’s account of his time spent fighting with the militia during the Spanish civil war. A most realistic portrayal of war at the front line, and a vivid description (from the view of an ordinary soldier) of one of the most significant political events of the 20th century.

Christopher Hitchens. Hostage to History. Hitchens examines events leading up to the partition of Cyprus and its legacy. He argues that the intervention of four major foreign powers: Turkey, Greece, Britain, and the United States, turned a local dispute into a major disaster.

Fatwa to Jihad. Malik's book is a political history of contemporary Britain tracing the legacy of the Rushdie affair into the post-9/11 present, a powerful critique of Islamic fundamentalism and showing that conflict rarely leads to enlightenment.

Salman RushdieThe Moor's Last Sigh. An epic work rife with wordplay and ripe with humor and encompasses a grand struggle between good and evil.

Tom Wolfe. In 1987, when The Bonfire of the Vanities arrived, the literati called Wolfe an "aging enfant terrible."

What digital camera Magazine.

David Remnick. The Bridge paints a portrait of Barack Obama. A definitive Obama biography is at least a decade or two away, but this is a good start.

Anthony O’hear. The Great Books is a journey through 2,500 years of the greatest classic literature of the West. The book begins with Homer and the first epic poems. It has sections on Greek tragedy (Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides) and Plato's writings on the death of Socrates. Latin literature is represented by Virgil's Aeneid, Ovid's Metamorphoses and St Augustine's Confessions. Then Dante's Divine Comedy, through to Chaucer, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Milton, Pascal, Racine and finally Goethe. These are books as powerful, thrilling, erotic and politically astute as any modern bestseller.

Rushdie. Midnight's Children is a masterpiece, brilliantly written, unpredictable, funny and heartbreaking in parts. This is Rushdie's irate, affectionate love song to his native land.

Steve Martini. Guardian of lies is a taut thriller with areas of implausibility but expands outside the usual court room thriller genre. Madriani gets caught in a typical web of deceit and murder.

The letters of T.S. Eliot. The second volume of TS Eliot's fiercely guarded correspondence reveals the terrible strain he was under caring for his wife and editing the Criterion.Volume Two covers the early years of his editorship of The Criterion, publication of The Hollow Men and the course of Eliot’s thinking about poetry and poetics after The Waste Land. These Letters fully demonstrate the emerging continuities between poet, essayist, editor and letter-writer.

Greil Marcus. Listening to Van Morrison. The book picks out particular performances by Morrison in his long career, and finds the singer on his quest to reach some artistic threshold.