Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Transport on two wheels goes up a gear

  • · Weekend bike ride (local offers support)
  • · Investigating ‘Timor Plaza’ (local super mall)
  • · Re-building work laptops
  • · ‘New’ scooter + stuck dials
  • · First run of ‘Settlers of Cataan’
  • · ‘Good’ English

This last Sunday (12th Aug) I agreed to go for a long road cycle. This was after 6-7 beers at the Hash the night before and gave me increasing cause for concern when I turned up on my $10 bike (actually, it is promised to someone else, but I’ve already invested $10 in getting new red brake handles) and observed how the other machines looked, with their disk brakes and carbon fibre frames and obligatory clip-in pedals. My bike is resembles (pause) a modified downhill beast that is also the heaviest ‘bike’ I’ve ever used. The seat squeaks and so does the rear suspension. This could be due to no lubricant being used on any moving metal parts for many months/years. No point in wasting any oil on it, as this bike is now under palliative care.

The first 15km were OK and then we hit the hills rising rapidly at about 2 degrees. The others drifted into the distance and I exerted myself more to try and get back in touch with the bunch. The volume of squeaking increased and a local four year old ran beside me for several hundred metres, smiling and no doubt offering encouragement. This is sometimes called a reality check. I told some other cyclists to pass on a message that I was turning back to town and gravity took over for a few kilometers – ahh, bliss!

There is now ‘super mall’ in Dili along the Comoro Road. It is still being occupied by businesses but I dropped in on my cycle home from the hills, in a search for interesting things and got lucky at a computer store, where I found 50 blank DVDs for only 60cents each. The going rate is about $1 each at the other computer stores, so I had found a good deal. Everything else was a bit too expensive and I felt rather odd being one of about 25 customers spread over 2-3 floors at 9am on a Sunday morning.

Now that I occupy the MIS desk and all the power that comes with it (I get to shut down the file server at the end of the day), I’m beginning to rebuild the PCs and laptops. We have a wide range of hardware and software. There is a rumour that some of the latter is legal. We have many anti-virus programs, with most of them out of date. The recent solution has been to simply install (anti-virus) a new one alongside the others that allowed a virus to make itself at home. The result is messy and takes time to resolve. My goal is to buy (!) a proper licensed product, put it on the file server, then distribute and update it to all the work machines. Hardly original, but it would make life a lot more pleasant.

For the past four days I have been making use of a scooter that has had quite a history and has also been on a recent visit to the workshop for repairs. Since Monday I’ve been using the scooter to transport me to and from the Tetun lessons (week #2). On Monday I opened the throttle up along Comoro road and the dial was hard over – nothing like the wind in your face. The dial was in the same place today (zero) when the fuel tank ran dry. Admittedly the fuel gauge has not been stuck on zero; instead it diligently indicates that the tank has always been half full, so I think more repairs are required.

I bought over a game or two and on Sunday evening & three of us tried out ‘The Settlers of Cattan’. It was popular and was well complimented by an excellent sunset (private house balcony by the beach) and then a good curry + some Portuguese red wine. I had cycled to the house and had to wear my head torch to cycle home.

There is a large quantity of clothing turning up in Timor Leste that sometimes sports unusual messages in English. Some are risqué pickup lines (girls’ tops) and others I really don’t understand. A recent example a black T-shirt with this written large on the back: "You can be money”. Not “You can be happy”. Maybe it is a relic of a failed advertising campaign somewhere? Maybe it comes from the same stable of skilled linguists that produce the subtitles for the pirated DVDs? Some of them are so bad it’s amazing, as the language sometimes doesn’t conform to basic grammar rules, let alone bare any relationship to what is being shown on screen. One day I’m going to march back into one of those shops and demand my dollar back.

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