tales from urban dilettantia

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Of Maps and Murder

Once upon a time, this particular time being the night of 26th of June 1936, or perhaps the early morning of the 27th, Henry William Griffiths of Maylands kills his family one by one, with fishing line and an axe. Then he half fills the bath and locked the bathroom door. Finally, he tidily sits down in the water still wearing his pants, shoes and socks, and cuts his own throat.

The newspapers of the day provide detailed coverage,  both in the aftermath of the discovery, and following the inquest.  The journalists at The Mirror supply a wealth of particularly heart-wrenching details, publishing photographs of boggle-eyed children staring at the Griffiths house (‘kiddies gaze at house of awful tragedy’), the Griffiths’ toddler (‘bonny kiddie murdered today’), and the family dog (‘the only one left’).  (I am later unsurprised to see the long-defunct Mirror described as ‘the “scandal sheet” of its day, dealing with “juicy” divorce cases and the like.‘)

34 Wellington Street, 1936

Various acquaintances assure the press that Henry and Kathleen were a happy couple, adored their children, gave no clue at all that anything was wrong. (People tell the right lies after a death, and apparently even more of the right lies after four.) But of course, it all comes out at the inquest. Henry had spent time in Heathcote Mental Hospital. He was reportedly convinced the CIB and Taxation Department were recording his conversations, that the Government thought he was an international spy, and that his wife (who tactfully told people he was ‘worried about business matters’) had been conspiring against him.

The family publish death notices in the papers . Many of the notices are loving, even of Henry. They bury Henry and Kathleen side by side in Karrakatta Cemetery, one of their sons with each of them.

It is June 2012. I am at the cemetery. It is a damp, grey day and the section numbering on the map isn’t matching the numbering in my notes. I wander around lost for an hour and a half before I find them.  I’ve brought flowers with me, and I stay to weed the plot.  Afterwards, I travel the two suburbs north to see the house, and return to take a photograph on a bright sunny afternoon some months later.

*

I first come across this story while idly browsing Trove, and nearly pass on by, but for a peculiar inconsistency. The papers give the address as Wellington Street in Maylands, and one goes so far as to give the house number, 34. Curious to see whether the house has been swallowed up in the suburb’s inexorable gentrification, I pull up the address on Google Maps’ Street View.

Or rather, I try. There’s no such street. I poke around the obvious places first – councils, government, the old Road Board – but there’s nothing online indicating the street ever existed, no record of it being renamed.  Suddenly, I’m interested enough not to let this one go.

To trace this story back to its beginning, I need a different approach; to go back to someone, something, a source that that recognises the address. I need to find something capable of pulling up memories of web of streets eighty years gone.  The answer, it seems, is in the very place I found the story. The newspapers of the time hold knowledge; each birth and death, each celebration and each crime, each council decision, each wedding, each story worth a scattering of words. And, because Trove – by its nature – knows everything the newspapers know, I go foraging amongst its memories.

Slowly, from advertisments, stories and random fragments, the area around Wellington Street begins to resolve. Wellington Street near Beaufort Street. Wellington Street intersecting with York Street. Wellington Street on the route of the long-gone #18 tram. Trams.  I visit the State Library at lunch to check some books on history of Perth’s tramways, quite certain at this point that at least one of them will have a useful map. No luck. Tram enthusiasts and local history websites likewise yield nothing. One last roll; Google’s Image Search. And there, a photograph of a heritage map displayed in the East Perth Train Station – a map showing the tramlines. It’s too small to make out the street names and I’m ready to make the trip over to East Perth to look for myself, but I don’t need to – a little more digging, and I’m looking at a high resolution version on Flickr. Formerly Wellington Street. Now the last block of Stuart Street in Bayswater.

Much closer, I track up and down the block in Street View. I think I’ve found the house a couple of times, and then wonder if it was demolished to make the small park nearby. I don’t realise yet that I’m largely focusing on the wrong side of the road. This isn’t going to work; finding a house that looks a little like the right house isn’t enough.  One workers’ cottage looks rather too like another workers’ cottage.

Helpful as the internet has been, this is something more specialised. This is the State Library’s moment. I search the catalogue and find that the library holds a collection of aperture cards showing local real estate developers’ promotional plans from around 1890 to 1940. At this point, I don’t even know what an apeture card is. I ask at the desk and the woman looks surprised and takes out a shoebox-sized container  from underneath the desk.  In the shoebox is their entire collection.

The aperture cards are frustrating. Well actually, they’re fascinating, but none of them quite hit the geographic area I’m chasing. I check and double-check all of the cards for Maylands, Mount Lawley, Falkirk, Inglewood and Bayswater. Just before closing time, I zoom in a little harder on a particularly detailed image I’d bypassed the first time around, and there it is. Wellington Street. Numbered lots, even. Numbered lots with boundaries matching those I can see on Google Maps.

So it is that I learn Wellington Street has become the western extension of Stuart Street, and that number 34 has become number 108. I compare the photographs from 1936 to the image from Street View. There have been some changes over time, but it’s the house.

 

formerly 34 Wellington Street

This is how I come to be lost and then found in the cemetery on a damp, grey day. This is how I come to be sitting in a small park in the rain, near an innocuous cottage not unlike every other cottage in the street.  This is how I come to be wandering along a laneway in the bright winter sun, on my way to see a house that – in all honesty – is merely a house for all that has happened there. And this is how I come to be writing a story of maps and mysteries, while quietly wondering at the story of a bad death.

 

Griffiths Plot, Karrakatta Cemetery

 In Loving Memory of Harry and Kathleen who departed this life suddenly, June 27th 1936.  Aged 34 years and 4 months & 32 years and 11 months.  Darling son and daughter-in-law of Ada M. Mulligan.  “So deeply mourned, so sadly missed.”

*

See A House on Highgate Hill for more local history from Perth’s inner-north.

Queens, Cabbages & Occupation

This morning I have the time to be down in Forrest Place, sitting at OccupyPerth. On the other hand, this morning I have the time to write about OccupyPerth, and things to say. Regrettably, they’re mutually exclusive options, since my netbook isn’t charged. And so I’m here writing, because I believe it’s the more effective use of my time. And so, at greater than expected length, this is my Perth. This is my Occupy. This is my why.

For those who are reading this from afar, a small and peaceful happening in isolated Perth likely hasn’t made your news. Yesterday, the CHOGM – the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting – opened here. It’s something that happens bi-annually in various cities, where a staggering amount of money is spent to close off public spaces, sweep the streets of the embarrassing homeless, and to host a summit of monarchs, prime ministers and presidents, not to mention war-criminals who also fall into one or another of those categories. But that’s another rant, and one that’s been well covered elsewhere.

Yesterday morning, a surprisingly large and enthusiastic protest march happened here. People came along for all kinds of reasons – a colourful and chaotic swirl of concerns that they have chosen to raise. Corporate greed, genocide in Sri Lanka, their objections to CHOGM, democracy (or rather, lack thereof) in Zimbabwe, fractional reserve banking, equal marriage, climate change, refugee rights, deaths in custody, mining, and more. All those and a profound wish to demonstrate that the shiny, sanitised face Perth has presented to the CHOGM delegates is not the city we inhabit from day-to-day. A photograph of a protester holding up a sign saying ‘shit’s fucked up and bullshit’ has been doing the rounds for the last couple of weeks, and that probably comes closest to expressing the overall sentiment.

Riot police and mounted police lined up along the perimeter of the restricted area, watching for violence that never came. Police officers herded me into the media pack, in spite of the fact that I wasn’t wearing the necessary credentials, which was surprising and pleasing given that I’d expected them to throw me out. The local media ranted about it being ‘unfocussed’. The people were there for a multitude of personal reasons, and few people agreed on all the things others were there to say. And I thought hard about it all.

Upon returning to Forrest Place, the protest shifted from the hands of the CHOGM demonstrators to those who had been working to get OccupyPerth off the ground, and people stayed there with their concerns, issues, signs and opinions. The previous month, I’d been reading a diverse mix of commentary around the OccupyX events, and until this week I’d not managed to form a consistent opinion. This month, after speaking to a number of people, and in particular one wonderful man who’d spend time at OccupySydney, my opinion has crystalised into solid support.

Like Perth’s CHOGM demonstration, I believe OccupyX isn’t fundamentally about presenting a single, coherent and targeted message or set of demands. Its value and meaning has everything to do with the stubborn occupation of a public space, generally in the face of disapproval and sometimes violent resistance, and to control that space in a manner such that people can express their frustration, anger, sadness, opinions, hopes and fears. People arrive, sometimes with well-argued concerns, but often with inarticulate, uninformed or plain incomprehensible things to say. Things are sometimes – often – organised poorly, randomly, or even in a manner that involves internal oppression within the gathering.

But the micromanagement, the perfection or otherwise, the execution, the persistent presence of only a small group of people in some cities, these things are not really the point. It’s okay for things not to be done optimally, because the point is to be there and – ever more in the face of official resistance – to occupy and to assert that we have every right to gather and to speak. To assert that we haven’t, that we can be moved away, to be told that we’ve made our point and must return home is against everything in which I believe. Return to your homes people; your government has everything under control.

Last night, in the midst of this, I had a realisation. To encroach upon the ability of ordinary people to gather and to speak of their concerns is to move collective dialogue into the domain of the privileged. The people with homes and private spaces that accommodate gathering. The people without thin common walls, and the threat of eviction in the event of such an action. The people who have never, and will never, have the experience of university that funnels many into large groups who have spaces in which to gather, but are so often elitist and alienate the working class. The people who live on our streets and simply don’t have a home.

And so (in addition to a fundamental belief that it is right for citizens to be able to assemble in a public space and to speak) no matter how bizarre, random, or even factually incorrect people’s words may seem to me, I have spent time at OccupyPerth because I cannot watch the crack-downs and removals in other cities without a rising horror that these remove the freedom to speak and organise from the people who need it most.

There will always be some measure of chaos, disagreement and sheer randomness in any movement that attempts to accommodate the ability of all to speak. Some people will inevitably be oppressed by the movement for the views they air, unfortunate as that is. Because we are human, fallible, confused, we will do things that are peculiar, strange, poorly thought out or articulated or plain half-arsed. And that is not the end of the world. The point of OccupyX is not, in the eyes of many, to evangelise, to overthrow or to charm the media or to change the whole world. It is okay not to be perfect, because the point is not, and never has been, perfection. The point of OccupyX is to occupy, and for it to exist – tautological is it is – is sufficient reason for it to exist.

Further Dispatches from the Perth Geek Underground

(Heads up – This one is pretty triggery, particularly regarding rape. Consider yourself warned.)

Thank You; Yes You!

The response to my Resistance Is Useful essay, from both men and women, has been fabulous. I’ve had many enthusiastic discussions on Twitter, seen it reposted on LiveJournal and Tumbler and personal blogs, and had some great and challenging private conversations as a result. It seems that managing situations where an otherwise decent person accidentally or obliviously crosses boundaries is something that is of particular interest to many of you, and given the lack of tools our society gives us to deal with such situations, it’s understandable.

I truly believe that boldly talking about these issues – both of intentional and non-intentional transgression – instead of hiding them in dark corners is for the best, and it’s really lovely to see so many Perthites taking part in this. You are good people, you are responsible for the positive change that has already occurred, and you will be the catalyst for the positive change to come.

I Get Comments

I’m not keen to censor well-considered and constructive criticism, as I’m well aware that certain internet media propagate a disproportionate number of ‘I do agree’ responses. On the other hand, I’m not into approving comments from trolls. (A Very Special Hello to MikeUSA who posted a particularly vile comment and appears to post similarly abusive content all over the web. Thank you for severely testing my abilities to refrain from setting you on fire, Mike. Good times.)

However, I was unsure how to deal with one particular comment from the charming (for certain values of ‘charming’) Mark, a fellow Perthite. A friend suggested adopting an MST3K / Pharyngula ‘I Get Mail’ approach of sharing it and marking it up with my comments, rather than approving it. I appreciate that a number of you know this guy (that’s Perth for you) and it may be a little socially awkward for me to lay into him. But then, sucking up the social awkwardness and speaking out in spite of it is exactly what I’ve been talking about.

Welcome to the world. [Well hello there.] It is not a safe place and only children think it is. [It’s nice that you had that experience as a child. I didn’t.] You are now sufficiently paranoid that you can no longer be considered a child, congratulations. [Do I get Moët and a present for graduating? I hope so.] I, personally, am rather tired [Sorry to bore you.] of hearing about children of adult ages [From the context of the post upon which you are commenting, I can only guess this is an interesting and creative way of saying ‘women’.] who have not developed sufficient paranoia to avoid getting drunk at (or even entering) [I left the house. What was I thinking?] parties full of strangers without many friends. [It seems you exist in a glorious parallel universe where women are largely assaulted by strangers, rather than friends, family, colleagues and/or people they’ve known for a long time. Please tell me how I can travel there.] No, I am not being facetious or mocking [I know, you’re just unable to read for meaning.] I truly think that there is only one person who can be held responsible for my safety, and that’s me. [I appreciate you bringing your privilege to the table. It’s shiny. I feel so pleased for you to hear that your safety is a personal problem rather than a structural and cultural one; that must be feel good.] I apply the same policy to other people, trust no-one. [Thanks for all your hard work to make the world a better place and/or your unwavering dedication to quoting the X-Files.]

In short, thanks Mark, for posting rape apologism in response to a post about rape apologism. It’s sweet of you to play to my love for recursion and irony.

I’d like to mention here, for what it’s worth, that not a single friend of mine has informed me of being raped by a stranger, nor of having taken a sexual assault case to the police. But quite a number of my friends have been raped and assaulted nonetheless, and every one by someone they knew.  And this, this is why I wanted to share Mark’s comment rather than hiding it away – because we all know people who put forward this argument as if it were rational, but it’s full of embedded assumptions about how women are harmed by strangers, largely because of their own foolishness.  To make this argument is not only a failure to acknowledge reality, but also an irresponsible distraction from – and argument against – doing anything that may help mitigate the problem.  We are harmed by trusted fathers, brothers, lovers and friends.  We are harmed by the devil we know.

The Flying Blogspot will return to your regular menu of ‘Today I Ate Soup’ posts, local history (I have a great post about my cottage’s former residents in the works!) and banality shortly, but for a few more days, enjoy the love and rage.

Resistance Is Useful: An Essay

Hello internet. We have something to talk about, and it’s been cooking for some time.

We’re going to talk about geek culture, about misogyny, about rape culture and rape apologism, about safe-spaces and fear, harassment and assault, about growing-up-geek, about social responsibility, reckoning and resistance.[1]

We’re going to talk about my experience of this in a small Australian city, and about making a declaration of intransigence. For the bemused and curious some context and links can be found at the bottom of this post. I’d suggest taking a look before reading further. Additionally, there are footnotes, because if you are reading this, you deserve juicy footnotes.[2] Now, on with the show.

For many, many years, I have lived as a nerdy young woman in this city. I grew up and grew older (and perhaps wiser) lurking on IRC, posting on the Usenet, reading and watching science fiction, blogging, data modelling, attending cons, gaming, geeking-it-up and generally being me. And during that time, within the culture that by all rights might be expected to be a place of belonging for a nerdy being such as myself, I have witnessed a parade of abhorrent behaviours and events. We shall not argue here about whether geek culture is broadly misogynistic, predatory and hostile. We shall talk about the fact that in this place, in my small city, I have observed geek culture embracing all of those things, that I have been on the receiving end of them, that I have been an observer of them, again and again and again. Stalking, rape, the enabling of rape, rape apologism, sexual assault of various kinds, opportunistic harassment, predation, collusion to trivialise boundaries and consent issues, violation of consent, coercion, marginalisation and broadly, a deep, vile and insidious culture of loathing and sexual violence. This is not theory; this is what has happened and what continues to happen. It happens your cons, in your city, in your gaming groups, on your streets, on your internet, at your parties, in your forums, on your blogs and in your workplaces. And this is my big Fuck You to all of it.

We are shaped, in part, by our solitary journeys through unsafe spaces, and by our experience of predators. We grow up, experience sexual violence and harassment, flee the unsafe places and retreat into enclaves of safety. And as we do so, a new generation of younger (and younger, ever younger) women are left to meander into the meat market we have abandoned, and to learn the same hard lessons, the same hard way. For many of us, there are few other routes to learning these things, groomed as we are by society to please, to succumb to coercion, to be polite and compliant. To keep the dirty secrets of others, to shelter them from the judgment and disapproval of our community. To to trivialise, to accept blame, to dismiss. Each subtle line of that code is still written somewhere deep in my brain.

Like many, I did not begin this journey with the code that told me how to fight back, how to be joyfully and relentlessly non-compliant, nor how to feel good about making a scene when I damned well thought it justified.  I had no concept of calling out another person on their bad behaviour and feeling anything other than guilty for having done so. And, thanks to the prevalence of the first Geek Social Fallacy[3], I also picked up a few more lines about it being so very wrong to exclude others, no matter what.

And so, once I had learned to slip past the hands, to see trouble coming, to largely stay alert and sober and evasive, I retreated into a communal bubble where consent ruled supreme, and where respect flourished. Which was all very well and good. However, it also meant that I stopped going to the cons, started declining the invitations to parties and other social events, started feeling uncomfortable about having even a single drink when in the company of whole tranches of the Perth geek community. Essentially, I excised the spaces and people grinding down my will to engage, and left them to those women who would choose to brave the jungle.[4] My friends have done likewise, and all too often, this has meant that the most predatory and intolerable of spaces – less characterised by well-intentioned failure than by the unambiguous intent to prey – are abandoned to newer, younger and more vulnerable women, more inclined to awkwardly tolerate assault than to oppose it.

And to all of this, I wish to say: Fuck You. This is unacceptable. This is war.

I believe in the need for a collective resistance, and in the need for an aggressive take-down of the predators in our geek communities. I believe in colonising those previously abandoned, unsafe spaces and sub-communities, and inoculating them. I believe in our collective social responsibility to police our culture, to change social norms, and to shelter our vulnerable. (For at times, we are all vulnerable.) I believe in declaring that no, it’s not just you to whom this has happened.  Not just you who has been stalked or fondled, harassed, pressured, abused or raped.   That this is all so very wrong and it’s honourable to resist and criticize, to not only say ‘no’ but to call people publically on their bad behavior, to out repeat offenders and generally, to make one hell of a scene where one hell of a scene is required.

And I have an idea. Alone, I am prey. But when I gather a handful of safe, trusted friends and we explicitly commit to fight this, I always have someone to fall back upon when I don’t know what to do. I have someone I can call, or bring along, who will make space for me to be heard and will speak for me when I’m unable to find the words. I have a handful of people of various genders and backgrounds to whom I can turn for context, illumination and consultation.  As does each of those people in that handful of safe, trusted friends.  And if one of those people gathers their own handful of people to do the same, the first cell spawns another, and another and the resistance spreads. The permission to speak out, to inoculate new groups, to normalize a culture of respect and safety, to make amends when we have caused harm, to talk about our experiences, to discuss the behaviour of ourselves and others, and to make a big damn fuss without shame or fear – it expands.

When I feel threatened or unsafe, I will have someone who has made a explicit commitment to stand with me. Whenever another woman is threatened, I will have made a public commitment to stand with her – not just for her individual well-being, but as an advocate for and protector of my community. When I accidentally trample someone’s boundaries (as even the most careful of us will do upon occasion), I have people to help me work our where I went wrong, and how best to make it right. This is not new; it’s not even particularly exciting – we know how to back each other up, and largely we do it competently.

What interests me more is this: acknowledging the grey, fuzzy, difficult nature of consent, the fundamentally inadequate nature of a ‘no means no’ approach, and the benefits of both women and men helping their male friends in dealing better with these issues, and helping men call out other men on sexual violence. I have spoken to so many who have expressed a concern that intervening in a situation will be insidiously trivialised and dismissed as ‘jealously’ or ‘just trying to impress her’ (or more typically, ‘just trying to get in her pants’). And it will, because that is how it works. I have spoken to many who have watched small consent violations escalate, and angsted over exactly when and how they ought to say something, without overriding an adult woman’s right to speak for herself. So many fundamentally decent people who feel they have handled a situation poorly or violated a boundary, or may be about to, and who are unsure who to ask for compassionate yet honest feedback and practical advice. To innoculate our spaces, women backing up women – while essential – is insufficient on its own. The men who loathe this violence also need access to the support of others whom they can ask to speak with them, or in their stead; allies who will back them up when they call a predator on their behaviour, who will help them negotiate difficult, grey and ambiguous situations, where ‘no means no’ is insufficient to deal optimally with a complex reality.

The problem is not that we require more like-minded people to fight this. We have like-minded people. What we require is interconnectedness between those people, and an explicit commitment to support, to defend, to assist, to go public and reach out to break the back of this sickness that pervades our culture.

If you’re in my small city, welcome to the Perth Geek Underground. If you’re elsewhere, pass it on.

[1] And for the sake of not writing a thesis we’re going to talk here about men and women, but not fail to bear in mind that the principles that are more broadly applicable to all genders, orientations and indeed people.

[2] Oh yes, you do.

[3] Geek Social Fallacies

[4] The words ‘cock forest’ came up in conversation the other day. This seems relevant.

 

Further Reading Around & Under & Beneath & In-Between

Geek Culture

On the criticism of ‘exclusionary spaces’

Women in Geek Culture

More Women in Geek Culture

Men and Women and Misogyny and Blogging

Privilege

Harassment

Predator Theory and Rape Culture

More about Rape Culture

Rape Humour

Victim Blaming – the process informing rape apologism

Growing-Up-Geek

Thoughts on Safe Spaces

If You’re Into It

River Ramblings

Yesterday, on the advice of kattiko , via angrygoat , I decided to do a little exploration and take a longer, more scenic bike route to work by following the river. (I normally do a fairly dire ride along an arterial road, followed by a frustrating – and sometimes dangerous – crawl through pedestrians and peak hour central business district traffic.)

After crossing the railway at East Perth Station in the morning, I decided to explore the river a little more on the commute home and follow it further north before heading back to Flyingblogspot Cottage. This turned out to be a beautiful ride, leading me through some rehabilitated wetlands I’d never explored before. I’m hoping to head back there in the near future with a camera, as even cycling through in the afternoon I spotted a beautiful White-Faced Heron, and a number of unfamiliar small birds and butterfly species.

For anyone interested in checking the trail out for themselves, head from the city towards Maylands along the north shore of the river, cross under the freeway and ride or walk from Banks Reserve to Barden Park. I headed home at this point, but it looks like the public greenspace continues well up the river – scope for a future expedition.

fourquare

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been enjoying playing with foursquare over the past few days. A few people have since said commented along the lines of ‘yes, I saw your post, but I don’t understand what fourquare does’. Like a number of recent applications, foursquare allows you to ‘check in’ your location using an iPhone or Android app, or through their mobile website on your phone. If your device has GPS, the app suggests a number of locations around you and provides tips, feedback and comments from previous visitors. If the location you’re at hasn’t been entered into foursquare yet, you can add it yourself.

The difference between this and other geolocation tools, though, is that foursquare has pared back the social networking aspects to a very basic ‘friends list’ offering and focused on giving users a reason to check in and add content. This is done via a gaming approach where users earn points and badges for adding new locations, check-ins per day, checking in at a new location and so forth. (If you’ve visited a location more than anyone else, you’re displayed as the ‘Mayor’ on that location’s foursquare page!) It’s good fun, I learned a few new things about Perth the very first time I turned the app on, and the iPhone app seems reasonably robust and useful. A word of warning, though – I’d advise against giving it access to your Facebook or Twitter accounts as you most likely don’t want it posting your location updates there.

The thing that interests me most with this kind of application is that it’s engineered to cull out advertising and junk information, as all the content is user-uploaded. A location only appears in the database because a user cared enough to add it – for instance, I added Velvet Espresso and my physio because they’re both great and because I visit them both on a regular basis. I don’t know whether foursquare is going to be the application to do it, but I suspect this kind of user-populated, viral geolocation technology is going to have a significant place in the future of the location-based web and information-overlay development.

MapMyRide

I’ve also been getting into the popular MapMyRide this week, partly because it is very, very good at data aggregation and it offers a great iPhone app that works as a bike computer, and partly because my cubemates are trying to get me into women’s short-course triathlon. While the website and app are designed with fitness and training focus, MapMyRide is also excellent simply for recording distances, times and routes cycled and should give me a much clearer picture of the amount I ride per week.

One nice feature of the site is that while it provides stats in terms of fitness and performance, it also offers a ‘Green Stats’ section which looks at fuel, carbon and money saved. Unfortunately the fuel and financial savings are calculated based on US national averages, but knowing the site is using 18 mpg and $3.48/gallon, it’s easy enough to reverse engineer the calculation – in fact I might put together a Greasemonkey script when I have time to automatically convert these into more relevant Australian numbers.

The site also has a lovely ‘search for rides’ section populated by its huge userbase. If you log in as a Perth-based user, for instance, you’ll currently see 405 suggested maps with everything from a cruisy 2.12km circuit around Reabold Hill to time-trial routes through Kings Park and scenic 30-40km river circuits. The route listings also contain user comments and helpful tags, such as ‘Big Climb’, ‘Low Traffic Area’, ‘Mostly On Bike Path’, ‘Quiet’, ‘Scenic’ and ‘Very Hilly’.

The iPhone app is really easy to use as a trip computer; all you need to do is launch, select the ‘Record’ button when you start and hit ‘Stop’ and ‘Save’ when you’re done. You’ll be prompted to enter information such as the type of workout and whether to save the route as private or public. (If you’re wondering what to do with your phone and don’t have a bike-mount, I use an nice iPhone armband holder I picked up at JB Hi-Fi, although there are undoubtedly cheaper options on the internet.)

Finally, the site offers a number of tiers of membership from Free through to Gold, so it’s easy to try out without paying up. There’s a choice between a free and a paid iPhone app too, and the Bronze site membership is relatively affordable and more than sufficient for a casual user.

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@dilettantiquity is interested in an unreasonable number of things, including the wide and wonderful universe, happiness, well-being, wine, optimal human experience, non-violent communication, complex systems, existential nihilism, rationality, technology, grassroots organising, cacophony, music, creativity, learning and love.