Speed of a car

The model American puts in 1600 hours to get 12500 km: about 8 km per hour.

Energy and Equity

I always wondered about the economics of buying a car and paying for petrol. This book is from a while ago and rather gendered, but I like the fellow and his funny turn of phrase. And boy do I love ball bearings. Apparently the human walking is already one of the most efficient animals - less efficient than rats but. With a bicycle we are by far the most efficient movers. Except for possibly dingos....

Bicycles are not only thermodynamically efficient, they are also cheap. With his much lower salary, the Chinese acquires his durable bicycle in a fraction of the working hours an American devotes to the purchase of his obsolescent car. The cost of public utilities needed to facilitate bicycle traffic versus the price of an infrastructure tailored to high speeds is proportionately even less than the price differential of the vehicles used in the two systems. In the bicycle system, engineered roads are necessary only at certain points of dense traffic, and people who live far from the surfaced path are not thereby automatically isolated as they would be if they depended on cars or trains. The bicycle has extended man’s radius without shunting him onto roads he cannot walk. Where he cannot ride his bike, he can usually push it.

A dingo chased me home

I was riding home from town the other day. As I often do. Probably I've done it a hundred times and so far every time has been uneventful. Though lovely and often quite beautiful.

However, this particular time was different. I was approaching the cattle grid a few kilometers from home, when I noticed a funny clicking noise behind me. It was kind of like some was stuck in my wheel. I slowed down a little and had a little peek but it didn't seem to be a bike related click so I rode on. The clicking continued and sounded like it was getting closer - coming from a little way behind me. I had my lights off to see the stars. They were lovely and beautiful both this night. But it meant that I couldn't see behind me. It sounded like some sort of creature, but creatures can't ride as fast as a bike. Especially when the rider is a bit nervous and trying to escape funny clicking noises behind them by riding quick. But I peeked over my shoulder a bit and after a few peeks decided there was definitely something shadowy there. I turned on my bike light, unclipped it and swung it around. Two glowing eyes leapt back and sideways avoiding the beam (which is pretty bright for sure). I felt a bit bad. I thought whatever it was would give up. Especially since things with eyes like that can't run as fast as a bike and definitely not for very long.

I beamed light at the eyes again and decided that it was a dingo. It was that nice dusty brown they are. And had that great running gait that they have. And even in pursuit of a cyclist, it still had that lovely languid manner dingoes always seem to have. It was a dingo for sure. It didn't give up. It seemed that it could run as fast as a bike. And for quite long. It was a couple of kilometres already. I started to get a bit worried that I would get tired before it did. I wasn't sure if it was just working at keeping up with me or if it was waiting for me to get tired or fall off. I rode faster. Actually I rode as fast as I could on my big old bike. It wasn't fast enough. This little fellow stayed right behind me no matter what speed I went. I started to get the feeling that any moment it fancied it could lope up and bite my leg. Perhaps not right off. I don't think dingoes bite legs properly off. But it could perhaps bite me such that it hurt a lot and I'd fall off my bike from the cussing and probably be deftly eaten by the dingo its dingo pals.

I turned the corner into my road thinking the dingo might decide he was in the wrong hood and give up. It didn't. I thought about turning around and riding towards it. To like call its bluff and stuff. It seemed a bit mean, since I wasn't even sure if the dingo was wanting to eat me or just have a nice run together. So I didn't do that. I imagined riding into my place and shouting out to everyone that there was a dingo after me. I'd ride around in circles and people would come out and wave their hands and shout at it.

As it happened, the dingo left me at the gap and I didn't see it again. I was fairly glad for that.

Customising repeated field label names in Symfony2

I spent a while trying to customise the FOSUserBundle reset form. It uses a repeated field for the password, which can't really be tweaked from Twig. I finally figured it out using a Twig base form template. It's a little bit crap.

{% block fos_user_resetting_widget %}
  {{ form_row(form.new.first, {'label':'Password'}) }}
  {{ form_row(form.new.second, {'label':'Confirm Password'}) }}
  {{ form_rest(form) }}
{% endblock %}

More info: Symfony2 Twig Form Theming

s3cmd sync –follow-symlinks

I had trouble getting s3cmd to do Amazon S3 synchronisation with symlinked backup files. It seemed to be comparing the local link file with the destination file instead of comparing the file that is linked to. Probably this isn't what you want because the symlink size will never match the destination file size, so it will always upload the file.

For s3cmd version 1.0.1 I changed this on line 684 in the s3cmd file:

# sr = os.stat_result(os.lstat(full_name))
sr = os.stat_result(os.stat(full_name))

Swapping Python's os.lstat() (which doesn't follow symlinks) for os.stat() (which does follow them) means that it will compare the "correct" file sizes. This method is only used to calculate file size and modification time, so it should be OK. So far I haven't noticed other side effects, but we will see. My hope is that --follow-symlinks was added later, and they didn't think to change this line.

Note: I'm guessing this change will break (or at least complicate) using s3cmd when you don't want to follow symlinks.

Ruby Gap

For the easter dooby, I went out to Ruby Gap with the block mob and some mates from town. Some folks drove out and some of us rode out there on mountain bikes and got pretty sore bums. The folks I rode out with rode back as well. One of them got appendicitis on the way back. They are in the hospital now - sounding terrible but apparently surviving.

Over the weekend we had a few pretty fun adventures. Pauline was with us, and because she is pretty old some of the blokes decided we needed to take the 4wd all the way up the valley so that Pauline could see the end and have a swim there. During the course of a few hours we dragged the Hilux up the creek across newly constructed roadways. It almost rolled and got stuck a few times but it kept going. Most of this time Pauline was either walking along side the truck, or waiting for it up ahead. It's about a one hour walk, or in this case a two hour drive. Pauline was very good humoured about it all, and every now and then there would be a short section she could be inside the truck for. Then she'd have to get out again.

The blokes sure had a good time and Pauline and everyone else got some good exercise. By the time we got to the waterholes we were all well ready for a swim. Except for Pauline who I don't think had a swim.

100 Bricks

Some time in the last week I passed the point of owning 100 mud bricks. It has taken me a pretty long time to get that many. But it feels like the tempo is picking up. I don't even think I'm going to need 1500 for the house. Especially since I might just build the small half first and sleep in that for a while. It's about 4x3m. Not that big, but big enough for a bed at least.

My house is going to have a loft bed. It was going to have a low roof under the loft. But then the architect, who is terribly practical, raised it a bit to be a full height roof. Which means that now I can fit a loft bed under my loft bedroom. And possibly even another loft bed inside my loft bedroom. I am for sure tempted to try.

Or possibly even better - two of those bunks with double beds on the bottom and single beds on top. I love those things. It would mean I could have five other guests sleep over in my little house. It would almost be like other countries.