Ethics: Drugs in sport

24 October, 2018

My latest Primary Ethics lesson topic is about “Drugs in Sport”, which I just finished today after four weeks of lessons. The topic starts by considering what it fair and unfair in sports, and the general concept of cheating, It only really broaches the subject of performance enhancing drugs in the fourth and final lesson (today’s).

It starts by considering caffeine. The kids are year 6, so roughly 11 years old, and most of them have some idea what caffeine is, what foods contain it, and what its effects on the body are. The course material has me tell the kids that caffeine is known to improve athletic performance, and then ask them if they think it would be fair for an athlete to drink a few cups of coffee before a race/game. They all pretty much thought this was fair.

Then I mention that from the 1980s, the World Anti-Doping Authority banned high doses of caffeine in sports, with a level equivalent to 8 cups of coffee or more being illegal. However they reversed this ban in 2004 and now any caffeine level is legal. The curriculum has me ask the question: Why do you think they banned caffeine, and why do you think they removed the ban?

One girl put her hand up and I called on her. She said, “Well, back in the olden days like that, maybe coffee was exotic and really expensive and only the rich athletes could afford it.”

Germany diary, day 3

24 October, 2018

Sunday, 30 September, 2018 17:00

We are resting at our hotel for a little bit before heading out for a drink somewhere before our dinner appointment this evening with the two guys from Canon in Japan.

We slept reasonably well. We woke up around 03:00 and M. had one of the pretzels as a snack. I feared we’d be awake from then on, but we both fell back to sleep, and when I woke again it was just before 07:00, giving me almost ten hours sleep.

We prepared slowly to leave the hotel, being in no rush as we knew nothing much would be open before 10:00, and in fact most shops would be closed for Sunday. We showered and got dressed, and I did some stretches earlier before M. woke up. Then we had the remaining pretzel and I had an apple. By the time we left the hotel, it was about 09:30. We stopped at the reception to ask about what would be open, both today and on the public holiday on Wednesday. The guy there basically said shops would be closed both days, but museums and restaurants would be open.

We walked across to Hohestrasse and passed an open bakery that looked decent, but M. wanted to find the Espresso Perfetto place we’d passed yesterday. We went down a side street and did a bit of a loop to find it, but it was closed Sundays. So we walked back the three blocks to the first bakery, as another one we ran across didn’t look as good.

M. got a slice of Apfeltorte and a cappuccino, while I got a Mandelhörnchen and a hot chocolate. The hörnchen was full of almond paste and had slivered almonds all over it, and the ends were dipped in chocolate. The hot chocolate was pretty good too. M. said the apple cake was nice.

Apfeltorte
Apfeltorte for second breakfast

After this, we walked north to the cathedral and went inside briefly, but there was a Sunday service in progress so we couldn’t walk around very far. Then we went across the square to the tourist information place, and got info about museums that would be open on Wednesday for M. We also looked at the souvenirs for sale and bought a calico bag to carry snacks and other things in while we walk around.

Read more: We stumble across a Sunday market, with vegetarian food! And a flea market, and see tons of love locks, and have a fancy dinner

Tanzania diary, day 6

23 October, 2018

Wednesday, 4 July, 2018. 18:16

I woke around 05:00, by the sound of animals just outside the tent. I realised it was zebras by the clopping and snorting. They grazed around for a bit, then suddenly they bolted away and it was quiet again. Later at breakfast the people at the other table were telling the staff that they heard zebras and also lions during the night!

We got up with the alarm and got ready for breakfast at 06:30. The menu was a choice of fresh fruit or muesli, plus pastries, and a hot choice of either banana pancakes, eggs benedict, or a full English breakfast. We both chose the muesli with natural yoghurt, and the pancakes. We also asked what pastries were available and the guy said banana bread, so we tried a thin slice of that each too.

Breakfast pancakes
Banana pancakes for breakfast, at Nimali Central Serengeti camp

After quickly returning to our room for a toilet break, we emerged to meet Timba a few minutes late. We sprayed ourselves with insect repellent for the tsetse flies, climbed aboard, and set off. Leaving the camp area we saw plenty of zebras. Over breakfast a staff member had told us they like being in the camp area as it’s safe for them.

We started off sighting some interesting birds on the drive away from the camp: a lappet-faced vulture perched high in a tree, waiting for the sun to climb into the sky so it could ride the thermals. A red-billed hornbill, with its impressively large and colourful red beak. And some chestnut-bellied sandgrouse, puttering around on the grass of the plain.

Read more: lots of wildlife: birds, lions, elephants, leopard, heaps more, and the vast expanse of the Serengeti plain

Game of Thrones, Season 4, Ep 6 “The Laws of Gods and Men”

22 October, 2018

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

It’s been a long time since the last episode. I’ve had a lot less free time since we got our puppy, Scully, and TV was one of the things to fall by the wayside. But things are returning to normality now and we had time to watch a new episode.

Meereen: A goatherd is herding goats, when a huge dragon appears and scorches his flock, carrying a burning goat off for tea. Later Daenerys is holding court for supplicants inside a grand pyramid. Ruling like a Queen, as she stated last time we saw her.

The goatherd approaches humbly, choosing his words carefully. He says he really, really likes dragons, but now that one has eaten his goats he has nothing and his family will starve. Daenerys generously says she will repay three times the value of the goats. The goatherd backs out in a flurry of genuflection and thank yous.

Next is a noble, one of the sons of the former city rulers. He begs to be able to take down the corpse of his father from the crucifixion stakes, where it is rotting in the sun, and give it a decent burial. Daenerys is defiant, saying that the rulers crucified children and let them rot in the sun, so they deserve no better. But the guy is the right mixture of flattering, humble, and appealing to her mercy, and says his father was actually against killing the children. Daenerys relents and lets him go bury his father. Daenerys, tired of seeing supplicants, asks how many more, and is told over 200. She sighs and calls for the next one.

Not much to be gleaned from this scene, except that this new noble might be catching Daenerys’s eye. Also perhaps Daenerys might get bored of ruling like a queen and decide sooner or later that she should go do some more conquering.

Read the rest of this entry »

Cheetah

21 October, 2018

On my trip to Tanzania back in July, I saw three different big cats: lions, leopards… both of which I’ve posted photos of before today.

But the most exciting was the third, which our guide had to drive us a long way across the Serengeti to find, devoting a full half a day to tracking one down for us.

I present my first photo upload of the third cat, the cheetah:

Cheetah alert

Germany diary, days 1 & 2

15 October, 2018

22:15, Friday 28 September. Sydney Airport

Our plane is over an hour late departing Sydney, and we are still sitting at the gate waiting to close the doors. We left home just before 17:00, catching a taxi to the airport. We thought the traffic would be bad during the Friday evening peak hour, but it wasn’t except for a bit of a bottleneck entering the Eastern Distributor off the Harbour Bridge.

On the way, it started raining, a storm breaking the hot spring day. We saw lightning as we approached the airport, but the sun broke through as we arrived at the departures terminal and a huge rainbow arc shone over the runways. I commented to M. that planes could be delayed by lightning, but the storm passed and was over as we left the cab and entered the terminal.

We’d checked in and printed boarding passes online, and the instructions said if we had no checked bags to drop off we could go straight through security into the departure lounges. So we did that, passing through fairly quickly as there weren’t very many people going in. However we both got pulled over for a bomb residue check, which took a few minutes.

We checked the duty free shop and bought some gin and Campari to pick up on the way back in. Then we looked for something to eat as M. was hungry. We tried the food place we ate at the past couple of trips, but they had run out of vegetarian quiches, and M. didn’t fancy anything else they had. We looked around a bit and settled on a nearby place that did pizzas and pastas and some other things. We got a spaghetti with tomato sauce and a margherita pizza. The spaghetti was really good, the pizza very cheesy and with a thin but doughy and chewy crust.

After eating we walked to the gate at the far end of the terminal and relaxed for some time as we had arrived fairly early. At the indicated boarding time we went to the gate and stood close to the entrance for the economy passengers. But we’d seen the cabin crew arriving and they were all still sitting around the gate area, not on the plane. I realised there was some delay, and we ended up waiting quite some time before anything happened. At one point they called our names to come to the counter, and M. went over. They needed to scan our boarding passes for some reason, maybe because we hadn’t checked in any bags.

After a long delay they finally began boarding, letting everyone on at once. Since we were right near the front we got on quickly, finding our seats in the front section of the downstairs deck on the Airbus A380. After everyone had boarded there was more delay, as the flight crew announced that “some people have decided not to fly with us tonight and their baggage needs to be removed”.

Now, we’ve finally pushed back and begun taxiing, an hour and twenty minutes late. Oh well, at least we’ll have less time hanging around in Dubai waiting for our connecting flight to Frankfurt.

Read more: We arrive in Germany on Saturday and walk around Cologne a bit (with photos)

More frequent blogging here (due to G+ shutdown)

14 October, 2018

With the announced shutdown of Google+ as of next year, I’ll be losing one of my most active social media outlets. I still haven’t worked out what I’m going to do about all of the communities on there that were very active and that I enjoyed being part of. Some are moving to new platforms which I don’t entirely trust and so I’m a bit reluctant to just follow.

But to replace the function of me posting short bloggy things on Google+, I’m going to start posting them here instead. Or try to at least.

My habit had been to post short anecdotes and things I could get through in a couple of paragraphs at most over on G+, and longer things here. But from now on it’ll all be here. So expect an increase in number of posts on this blog.

That’s never happened while grocery shopping before

14 October, 2018

I was doing the grocery shopping today. We keep the shopping list in OneNote, synced live via cloud so wife and I can both add/remove items at any time wherever we are.

So as usual I’m deleting items from the list on my phone as I pick them up, to keep track of what I still need to grab. I got everything and the list was completely empty. Headed towards the checkouts…

The fire alarm goes off. Staff tell everyone to leave their unpaid groceries behind and evacuate the building immediately.

So I’m standing outside with about a hundred people, without my groceries, and with my entire shopping list deleted.

Tanzania diary, day 5

25 August, 2018

Tuesday, 3 July, 2018. 21:06, Nimali safari camp, Serengeti National Park

We both woke early, and got up before the alarm went off. We dressed and were ready to go to breakfast by 06:00. Since they said they started serving breakfast from then, we walked down to the restaurant, only to find some surprised looking staff just finishing setting up the breakfast buffet. Obviously nobody had fore-warned them that guests would be arriving at 06:00. Godfrey in particular was missing, and we had visions of the other staff calling him and saying, “They’re here already! Get down here ASAP!” He showed up at 06:30, as bright and cheerful as ever.

Breakfast at Acacia Farm Lodge
Last buffet breakfast at Acacia Farm Lodge

After finishing breakfast we returned to our room to use the bathroom and pack our bags to depart. We walked down to reception, at first pulling our wheeled bags behind us, but the noise quickly attracted the attention of a woman staff member who ran over and offered to take the bags for us. At reception we sat and used the WiFi until Timba arrived, at about 07:45. Since we were ready, we loaded up the car and left immediately. We thanked Godfrey for his personalised attention and I gave him a 50,000 shilling tip, which I hope was appropriate. The lodge staff ended our stay by singing a song of farewell as we departed.

Read more: we enter Ngorongoro Conservation Area, drive across to Serengeti National Park, settle into our new accommodation, and go on a late afternoon game drive where we see lots of animals!

Tanzania diary, day 4

4 August, 2018

Monday, 2 July, 2018. 18:30

We’ve had an incredibly full day already, and M. is having a nap before dinner while I type.

Our alarm went off at 06:00, and almost as I was turning it off the phone rang, being reception giving us a wake up call to make sure we made our morning start. We got up and dressed quickly, then headed down to the restaurant, taking everything we needed for the day so we wouldn’t have to return to our room before meeting Timba.

The breakfast buffet included eggs to order, plus fried potatoes, baked beans, sausages, bacon, as well as a variety of breads, cereals, fruit, yoghurt. One cereal was a dark muesli which looked very intriguing. I scooped a bunch into a bowl and added yoghurt. When I tried a spoonful, I discovered the muesli was hot! Going back for seconds, as it was so delicious and unusual, I asked what was in it, and the chef replied that it was hand made here at the lodge, using ground weet bix, oats, and some other ingredients, then they bake it. It was so good I even had thirds, forgetting about everything else on offer, except to try one of the local fried dough balls, which had a cinnamon and sugar dusting on the outside and was also pretty good.

Breakfast done, we quickly used the toilets in the reception lobby and then went out to meet Timba, who was waiting there for us. We loaded up the car and set out right on 07:00. The drive was initially back through Karatu and the way we’d come yesterday, until we reached the turn off for Lake Manyara National Park. Just inside the park we stopped at a gate where park staff recorded our names and nationality and then did some other paperwork with Timba while we used the toilets there (as it had been a fair drive already). A few other vehicles with tourists were also in the vicinity. Before we left here, Timba popped up the top of the Landcruiser, so we could stand up and see out through the opening in the roof, with some protection from the sun above us.

Then we set off into the park, following a dirt road that often branched and headed off in different directions. On the way here I’d asked Timba if we would have the chance to get out and walk around much, or if we essentially stayed in the car. He said we were required to stay in the car, except at designated picnic or toilet spots. He told us to keep an eye out for wildlife as we drove and yell at him to stop if we see anything.

Before long we spotted a troop of olive baboons. It turned out these were the most common thing to see, and we saw many groups of them throughout the day.

Olive baboon juvenile
Young olive baboon

But then we spotted vervet monkeys in the trees, small pale brown monkeys with black faces.

Read more: lots of animals in Lake Manyara National Park, back to Acacia Farm for a late lunch, walking around the farm, spotting lots of birds