25 February 2009

Chasing each other round the dining table

No, it's not what you think. We spent a couple of hours last night folding the junk mail ready for today's delivery. Instead of sitting on the floor surrounded by different piles of catalogues, we put them on the dining table, stood either side and worked our way round them. Of course, every now and then one of us would catch up to the other, this encouraged us to work faster so we didn't get in each others way.

I timed myself in the afternoon, when it was just me folding and it took me thirty minutes to fill a bag. With two of us at it, it took ten minutes a bag, just because we were encouraging each other to go faster.

When we did the weekend delivery we had seven items in each bundle, today we had eleven. You might think it wouldn't make much difference, but because each bundle was so much thicker and heavier, we could only get thirty in our bags instead of the fifty we were carrying on the weekend. That meant we had to keep doubling back to the car to fill up again. It actually took us three hours today, instead of the two on Sunday.

To be honest, I thought the amount we delivered was ridiculous. The bundles were so thick, we had trouble getting them into some of the smaller letterboxes. We must have really pissed off the postie.

I weighed one of the bags last night and thirty bundles weighs ten kilograms. It reminded me of my younger days when I stupidly joined the army reserve. We spent one weekend up at Tin Can Bay lugging ten kilo backpacks and five kilo SLRs. Yes I know, the British soldiers carried something like fifty kilos on their backs in the Falklands war and they did it for days on end. Back in my army reserve days, fifty kilos was about what I weighed.

Needless to say, after and hour or so of tramping through the bush and getting completely knackered, I was told to sit down and wait for a medic. I ended up spending the rest of the weekend on sentry duty in the middle of nowhere, being woken up every hour for a radio check. Actually, the mosquitos and sandflies did a pretty good job of keeping me awake anyway. I was itchy for days after that.

Back to today's delivery though, I didn't struggle anywhere near as much as I did back then. Maybe all those years in the gym in my early thirties paid off, even if I'm not in shape now. I must admit, my legs are a bit sore and stiff now, but that's something I'll get used to.

I'll soon be ready for that seven hour walk in thirty-eight degree heat with Dogbait.

22 February 2009

Getting paid to exercise

I don't know how much it costs to join a gym these days. It's been about ten years since I last worked out in one, and back then you pretty much had to sign up for a year to get the best value and that cost me about $600.

To get a bit of extra money, Donna and I have started doing letterbox drops. To put it another way, we're delivering junk mail. We did our first delivery this morning and it was easier than I expected.

The area we're working in has the word 'Hills' in its name, and for good reason. It's also the middle of summer, so the temp was around 28 degrees Celsius. It's definitely not as bad as Victoria was a couple of weeks ago, so I can't really say I can relate to what it was like for Dogbait, but we were glad of the water and Gatorade we had with us.

One thing that occurred to me while we were out was that I'd hate to be delivering mail on a motorbike. Some people either don't realise how hard it is to access their letterbox, or they just don't care. A perfect example of this is the house I came across with a beautiful, metre high conifer growing right slap bang in front of the letterbox. There is no way the postie would be able to reach that while sitting on his bike.

After the first couple of cobwebs I also learned not to walk between overgrown trees and bushes.

Some people must be very pessimistic about the amount of mail they get, going by the size of their letterboxes. You'd be flat out fitting a postcard into some of them.

Despite the heat, the hills and the drizzling rain though, I think I'd rather being delivering junk mail here in Australia than in the UK. I've delivered newspapers in Hertfordshire before and part of our round had blocks of flats, meaning lots of stairs. Add to that the fact that the letterboxes are in the front door, not at the front of the property, it means a lot more walking.

On the very last street of our round today I was powering (yes even after two hours) up a hill to where Donna had parked the car and passed a couple of girls in their exercise gear coming the other way. I thought to myself, I'm getting paid to do what you're doing. Okay, it's not a lot of money, but it beats paying for the gym.

14 February 2009

What's in a name

We've been watching reruns of Hamish Macbeth on ABC2 recently.

The series finished last week, but I've been looking for the books the series was based on. Reading in Wikepedia about the author M. C. Beaton, I was surprised to learn that she's actually a woman. M. C. stands for Marion Chesney, her real name and the one she's used for the Agatha Raisin series of mystery novels.

This got me to thinking about other female novelists that have created popular male characters and I noticed a pattern emerging. J. K. Rowling created Harry Potter. Agatha Christie created Hercule Poirot.

Okay, maybe I'm reading more into this than there really is, but if I ever write a series of crime novels, they're going to have a female main character and her name will start with an H. How can I lose.

Can anyone else think of more examples? Come to think of it, have you ever been surprised to find a popular writer you admired turned out to be the opposite sex to what you'd assumed?