Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

A quiet, cool day.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Colgate Maximum Cavity Protection

This is a post I started late last year. Its been resting in 'Drafts' for some time. As part of the clean up for the end of this year, I've just finished the references and here it is:

I was looking my tube of toothpaste: Colgate Maximum Cavity Protection.  There is a little drop with 'Liquid Calcium" written underneath the writing.

I'm not the first to wonder:

The claim of 'liquid calcium' had me thinking. It sounds like it is giving calcium to your teeth - which would be a good thing. But Calcium melts at 842 Celsius, so that claim is clearly not true. Maybe they mean that it provides calcium ions in solution when your brushing?

I decided to check this out. The "active" ingredients on the tube do not list calcium in it at all.

The fine print on the tube refers you to for more information. But there is no more information shown for Colgate Maximum Cavity Protection.

Looking about the Australian site for Colgate, there isn't very much information besides the advertising spiel. Even for their Colgate Total range, which they did have an option for "more information" only gives more advertising speak.

For the Australian product:

Active Ingredients: per tube: Sodium monofluorophosphate 0.76% W/W, Sodium fluoride 0.10% W/W 

Then on the back is:

Ingredients: Dicalcium phosphate dihydrate, water, sorbitol, sodium lauryl sulfate, cellulose gum, flavor, Sodium monofluorophosphate,  tetrasodium pyrophosphate, sodium saccharin, Sodium fluoride, CL 42090

The First ingredient is calcium. Dicalcium - looks promising. Di, being the prefix meaning two. Twice the calcium? But, don't be fooled.

Before we start, a quick rundown on tooth decay.

Dental decay is when the rate of minerals lost from the teeth exceed the rate they are deposited. Bacteria break down foods, and release acid, which erodes the enamel causing  minerals to be lost. Saliva washes the acid away, and provides calcium ions to replace the mineral lost, restoring the enamel. Acidic foods also demineralize the teeth, just like excessive vomiting. Tooth enamel can also be lost by excessive abrasion - brushing too often.

Looking at all the ingredients:

Dicalcium phosphate dihydrate  does not provide any calcium ions as its classed as practically insoluble in water.  In toothpaste it used as a tartar control agent.  What this means is that it is an abrasive.  Rubbing between the toothbrush and your teeth will grind off any tartar.

It is used to provide a form of calcium in food: breakfast cereals, enriched flour and noodles. But the calcium here is available after digestive acids have acted on it.

Since saliva is 99.5% water, not much is going to dissolve.

Water - Depends on the water. If its pure water its not going to have any calcium in it, but assuming its a normal drinking water source, it is a possibility that there might be some calcium in it. See below under 'flavour'. The water could have "processing aids" in it.

sorbitol - Is a sugar substitute, a thickener, that also retains moisture.

sodium lauryl sulfate -   Used as a surfactant. Interestingly, a study has suggested that it could be decreasing the effectiveness of fluoride in toothpaste.

Reduces sweetness - as seen when having sweets after using toothpaste.

cellulose gum-   Also known as Carboxymethyl cellulose, but cellulose gum sounds better. Used as a thickener.

flavour - no idea what this is, as it is not required to be disclosed. Australia only requires that if a flavor or flavoring is used that it is listed as 'flavouring' or 'flavour'.  Since the toothpaste is 'cool mint' flavour, its 'cool mint' of some sort.

Actually reading the Australian New Zealand food standards is an enlightening process. "Processing aids" do not have to appear in the ingredients list. This standard lists off all the acceptable aids used that don't have to be listed as an ingredient:

antifoam agents
decolourants, clarifying, filtration and adsorbent agents
desiccating preparations
ion exchange resins
lubricants, release and anti-stick agents
carriers, solvents and diluents
processing aids used in packaged water and in water used as an ingredient in other foods
bleaching agents, washing and peeling agents
extraction solvents
enzymes of animal origin
enzymes of plant origin
enzymes of microbial origin
microbial nutrients and microbial nutrient adjuncts
Dimethyl dicarbonate as a microbial control agent
and finally processing aids with miscellaneous functions

Some agents have a limit for how much can appear in the food. For most of the agents, the amount used is listed as "GMP" (Good Manufacturing Practice).  I cannot find a definition of that, but it seems to be to only use enough to get the job done. I didn't find anything that said how much that is either.

Sodium monofluorophosphate is the active ingredient, and is providing fluoride ions. It has been found that fluoride in the remineralization makes a more acid resistant enamel. So this is not a bad thing. The amount in toothpaste is less than 1%.  Each 175 gram tube has 1.3 grams in it. Not much.

Makes me wonder just how much are you getting when using a small amount of toothpaste.

tetrasodium pyrophosphate - is used as a buffering agent, an emulsifier, a dispersing agent and a thickener.
In toothpaste its used for tartar control by removing calcium and magnesium from saliva to stop them being deposited on the teeth.

sodium saccharin - An artificial sugar substitute.

Sodium Fluoride  Provides fluoride ions.

CL 42090 A color agent. Provides the blue color to toothpaste.

So this toothpaste

1. Does not provide any calcium at all, and
2. is removing the calcium in your saliva

How is this not false advertising then?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Sydney Early Preparations

Still hanging about in Sydney. Been reading a lot, walking, riding and experimenting with a new cooking setup using alcohol stoves. Had me collecting aluminium tins for a bit and making different stove models. After a lot of trying, I'm going to stick to my MSR for cycling. Alcohol stoves have their place, but I prefer the MSR experience.

In the new year I'll be on the road again (More on this in another post). With that in mind I started testing my gear out. Some of it hasn't rested well. First time using the MSR stove, fuel sprayed out of the adjustment knob. Seals had gone hard with age. I suspect that the heat of inside the van didn't help them at all.

Not to worry. Had this happen before and it was soon fixed and a great meal cooked up.

I had hoped to do some hiking, but having troubles with a sore back. Even when carrying a light day pack. Its only when carrying a pack. Cycling is no problem. In fact, cycling seems to make it better. So, going to give the hiking idea away for the moment and continue with cycling.

Will be staying in Sydney for the Xmas period. I have some things to do early in the near year, and traveling outwards from Sydney at Xmas time with all the crowds heading out for holidays, finding a spot close by, and then travelling back with the crowds doesn't appeal to me.  With all the people that leave, Sydney will be quiet. So I'll stay about a bit longer. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sydney bushfires

The weather in Sydney has been unusual. This day, we had hail:
The next, it was over 30C.  

My house sit finished, and my plans for bush walking have been put on hold. I held of leaving because of the number of fires about, and that was a good decision. Most of the Blue Mountains is burning now. All the National Parks are closed also.  At this rate I'll not get to go until next year.  Though, the way the winds are, everything might have burn't out by then...

In the mean time, I've been wandering the streets. Walking and cycling. In a car park in the city, I found these bird houses?

The wall also had this mural.

This load bike was in another car park in an industrial area. I wondered what they carried on it.

A stop to read the paper.

Having seen lots of the motorcycle pizza delivery, this was pleasing.  This was in the CBD area. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Sydney walkabouts

Still in Sydney, been stretching my legs, walking about. Also been enjoying fruit that you are unlikely to find in the country:
Durian, reckoned by some as the "king of fruits". Not sure if I'd go that far, but it is definitely delicious.  (Had to check for the "queen of fruits"; the mangosteen.  They fruit about the same time.) I'm lucky that I find them pleasant smelling. Other people aren't so lucky. In Asia, some hotels and public transport ban them. I ate mine outside, sitting in the garden.

Walking about town isn't the same as out bush, so headed for a walk down in "The Royal".

Looking on the National Parks website, the walk I did is listed as the Karloo and Uloola walking tracks.  They have the distance for Uloola listed as 10km, but is more like 5. Another site list Uloola as going from Heathcote to Waterfall which would be about 10km. So there is a bit of confusion there on naming or distance. The National Parks rate both as "medium difficulty". I rate it (Heathcote to Waterfall) as an bludge walk.
Was disappointed at the the state of Karloo Pool. Looked like some people had camped or partied there - so smashed beer bottles, half burnt plastic and trash left behind.
While sitting about at Uloola Falls, a couple of joggers turned up. One guy surprised me by drinking from the stream. He reckoned it tasted "just like water". Not sure what that means - as pure water is tasteless. That water was certainly not pure. And while the water looks clear, I wouldn't trust drinking it - especially in the Royal! Clear flowing water is not safe to drink. The bugs that cause illness are tiny - you can't see them.  His mate didn't seem keen on him drinking it either.
For me, a pleasant day was had.

Friday, September 27, 2013


Riding along a stretch of the bike path, I notice the trees have yellow strips painted on their trunks. Looking across the canal,  I think their days are numbered.

Hunting about online, I found it is part of work Sydney Water is doing for a Cooks River remediation project -   Along with replacing the steep concrete sides with a more natural rock bank, the non native willow trees will be replaced with natives.

So, definitely progress :)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Enjoying the sun

Lying on their back, enjoying the morning sunshine

Farewell Barraba

After leaving Far North Queensland, I decided to travel back to Barraba for a bit. Arriving in town on Thursday morning, I walked about asking if anyone knew of any volunteer, casual or part-time jobs going. Well, within the space of an hour, I was hired.

It was to have been an easy casual position: waitress/kitchen-hand. But that quickly changed and I found myself with the title 'Manager', planning, directing staff, and making changes.  Looking back on the time now, it was fun and exciting. Long hours but ultimately rewarding.

I was only to have been working for a couple weeks, but ended up extending my time to a couple of months.

If your ever travelling up near Barraba, phone up and book a lunch, or stay at The Playhouse Hotel

And this is where I am now...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Be careful what you wish for

After missing the cooler weather down south, I traveled south. And got cooler weather in abundance.

-8C  Definitely cooler.  Found lots of exciting things: throwing water on the windscreen was a bad idea - it just froze and just made the ice layer thicker.  Wiper blades froze onto the windscreen and don't move. The water washer also froze. Ice is very abrasive - I now need new windscreen wipers..
The taps outside froze solid - so check for running water before taking off your clothes for a shower.  My van is unheated - so stuff inside froze also.   More than one blanket was needed.  Getting up and running to the shower block in thongs was guaranteed to give you frozen feet before you arrived.  Leaving the shower, wet hair froze on the run back. 

Was an interesting experience.  One that I'm not that keen to repeat. 

I like cool times, but sub zero temperatures - I just don't have the gear for enjoying it. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Far North Queensland

While wandering about the Gold Coast, I spied this:

Not seen too many of these about. Nice bike though.

Heading north, I didn't linger anywhere. The trip was very uneventful. Just days of driving. Not very interesting.  Lots of road trains about:

I'm now up north, sweltering in the winter temps: 22C overnight, 86% humidity. Daytime temps have hit 27C.  I miss the cooler weather down south. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Wallabadha through to the Gold Coast

Creek at Wallabadha
Well its cooler up high. Temps been dropping to 3C overnight. And had a few light showers. No problems in the metal tent for water getting in, but it has been a bit tough getting up and moving early.   I have found condensation down low in the van - on the bottom of bottles and tins in my storage system. I'm not sure if this is from my breathing in the van - without the window open, or just from travelling from low areas to high areas with cooler temps, and not adequate ventilation to dry it out. I opened out the storage area and it all dried up, but the next night it was back again. Will need to keep an eye on it.

After the cooler weather, I dropped down to the coast for a night near Byron Bay. Much warmer at 18C.  Seemed lots of angry people about when I was lunching in the park. Guys yelling aggressively at one another. Pushing, shoving, name calling, lots of expletives. Uncomfortable to be around, so I didn't. Diving out, passing the servo another blue in progress. Yicks - what was it with Sunday?

Now staying with friends for a few days on the Gold Coast before deciding if to just head up the coastal road, or to track inland for a bit.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

On the road again.. Broke

Well, time to farewell Sydney again and head north. First stop for the day is my old favourite: Broke

A bit or history for the place. Its certainly a lot smaller now.

Found the above information board near the new bridge Looking at the water flowing underneath, I dare say it was probably a lot deeper back in those days. At the moment it looks like you could hop across without wetting your feet.  The bridge is high off the water, so the floods would be a sight to see.

I left Sydney after the morning peak hours rush was over and this time it was a lot less busy getting out. The trip still took me four and a half hours driving time. Yeah, I wasn't rushing at all. Stopped several times for a break.  Just cruised along gently along the Putty Road. I thought it was very scenic.  Day dreamed about cycling along it.. I still having bicycle withdrawal symptoms. Still got my bike with me in the van though. And do get out and ride it. But not the same as days touring. Trade offs...

Time is a passing. And this clock says it all:

Sunday, April 28, 2013


The weather in Sydney the last few days has been wonderful. Too good to be inside, I've been out walking the streets, checkout out some of our great buildings like this one:
Okay, maybe not the best building I saw.  But tucked away in the same area was:
and this mailbox:

Things to see wandering the streets..

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Farewell to Gold Coast, back to Sydney

Well, had a delicious home cooked farewell dinner, and then left the Gold Coast for the trip back to Sydney

Doesn't it look delicious?
My trip into Sydney was delayed a bit by the record temperatures forecast. I was still up near Armidale at that time and decided to stick around up in the mountains and not experience 46C temperatures.

First item of business was to get the van serviced. I mentioned to the guy that recommended Bears Auto Clinic for getting my windscreen fixed that they did a terrible job. (See here for the full story.) He immediately called up Bears and spoke to them, then told me to go around and talk with them. So I did. I didn't expect much from this. As I complained when I picked the van up about only fixing part of the windscreen and not all of it. Was told then that it would have cost more to fix all the window, even though the quote has "Rust around front screen" on it. Not: rust on bottom of windscreen. So, went around and spoke with Michael (again) at Bears. He was all sorry that I'd had a bad experience, blamed everyone else: the window installers (leaking windows), and the paint suppliers (rust started within a month of the paint inside the van), and promised to call me back after speaking to them. That was last Thursday morning.  Lets say I'm still waiting for his call.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tenterfield - Gold Coast

Sat out the Xmass and New Years period in a bush camp up near Tenterfield. Was a quiet time for me. The first week was mostly showers, which meant it was cool. It fined up and heated up in the second week, but still night time temps were under 20C. Something nice about snuggling into the sleeping bag in cold weather.

The fine weather gave me time to wire up a second battery in the van and try it out. The technical stuff: I've a Ctek 250s Dual charger, an Exide 105 ah AGM battery, and a Sharp 130W folding solar panel. Still new, but it certainly keeps my phone charged.

Found this bug wandering about the grass up near Tenterfield.   Wasn't hard to miss with its bright colors.

I think its the Red Jewel Bug.

I'm down on the Gold Coast now, visiting friends. Not really enjoying the record heat wave temps though.  Looking forward to when it cools down.

Mullumbimby - Go Vegan

Still hanging out in Byron area, I was in Mullumbimby - known as Mullum to the locals.

The local public toilet sets a standard in graffiti.  Good quality stuff here:

A real shoddy job by Bears Auto Clinic, Woolongong

I wrote this post over Xmass, but have held off posting it because I don't like saying how bad people are. I much prefer to say how great that are and give compliments. But thinking of the "work" that Bears, I find myself getting angry.

I had Bears Auto Hospital do some work on my van. I cringe to use "work" here as I was ripped off; Really I paid for them for a shoddy job.

Here is the quote from Bears.

Initially when I picked up the van, it was filthy - dust and grit throughout, over the dash, seats and in the rear. They said they run out of time to do any cleaning. On complaining about this, they did offer a free detailing if I'd bring it back to them another day. I was leaving the area, and by this time had seen the windscreen work so, I decided that I wouldn't take them up on that offer.

At the same time I went back to complain about the dust and grit, I also asked about a small spot of rust in the cargo bay that they said they would fix at the same time as the windscreen. They offered to do it straight away. Arrrrgghhh - their fix was paint over the top of it, without removing the rust that was there!!! This should have clued me up that their other work might not have been the best, but, I left looking at the repairs until now (mid December), and 1000km away.

I started cleaning it up now. First up was the outside wash; But, I found water dripping in the drivers side under the dash.. oh o... Pulled all the vinyl matting out - it was all damp -  and put the hose on to run water down the windscreen. Yep, water is leaking in on both the drivers and the passenger side.

On top of feeling angry and frustrated, that Bears Auto Hospital removed the windscreen to fix the rust around it and only fixed one corner of the rust, I now have a leaking windscreen!

Went to windscreen repair place in Byron, and they said that there wasn't much sealer around the windscreen.. They tried to patch it up, but said that it probably wouldn't work and that the windscreen would have to be removed and refitted. Didn't charge me for trying though.  They were right, the patch didn't work, it still leaks.

The Bears Auto Hospital quote does say "Rust around front screen".  Here is around the windscreen. This is the stuff I was paying to get fixed:

While the van was in getting the windscreen done, I asked for and got a quote to paint the van floor. Seemed a good idea at the time. 

Bears didn't remove the rubber grommets before painting, just painted over the top of them. I think they pulled some grommets out, or more likely they were sand blasted away, as this one shows, the ones remaining were painted over. I had pulled some out myself, I'm not 100% sure if the missing grommets are a result of Bears or not.

But this was nothing compared to what I found when I went to change the back door seal. Under the weather strip and rubber seal, where you can't see it:

Less than two months and its rusting. Bears removed the strip and seal, painted, and put it all back.

Not one item of the job I had done by Bears Auto Hospital, Woolongong, was done well. The easy to see parts of the job looked okay, until they were more closely examined.

Okay, Bears has many workers - maybe I was just unlucky to get one that wasn't so switched on that week. However, when I confronted the manager, I could have had a better response than I did. My experience with the work, and dealings with Bears Auto Hospital just leaves me really angry.

I do not recommend Bears Auto Hospital to anyone.

The happy ending to this sad tail was that I went to Warren Simmons Panel Beating in Byon Bay and he fixed the windscreen and the paint issues. Warren did a excellent job - all the rust sanded away and painted. The windscreen does not leak.  The job was booked in, and the work completed in three days. After the my negative experience with Bears Auto Hospital, dealing with Warren Simmons Panel Beating was wonderful.

Poor Value - NRMA Vehicle Inspections

NRMA has vehicle inspections.  "For peace of mind when buying a used car .."

Sounds like a good idea?


Its not worth the paper its printed on in my opinion.

Why? You'd imagine that the qualified mechanics would be checking for some exotic engine or body damage that us untrained plebs wouldn't know about.

Nope. They only do a visual inspection. So, if you can see it, so can they. And to top that all off, they don't even do a good job at that.

I had thought that the "putting the vehicle on the hoist and looking underneath" might show up stuff I couldn't see. In hindsight, I could have just driven spent a bit more time on the ground with a torch and mirror.

Looking over my van while washing it, I found:

This was on the roof

At the top of the back door.

Top of back door again - not much paint from the factory.

No mention of this in their visual inspection.

Okay, I missed it also in my looking over, but I'm not a paid professional at this.

Hindsight for this was that I should have done more research about what the NRMA inspection is about and what it does and does not do. Maybe if I had of done this I would have saved my money, and just gone on my own visual inspection since the result is that its my problem in the end.

Slack effort - car alarm

Time to catch up on blog posts. Have had three on the burner and, well, it was Xmass and New Year, so didn't get them posted.

Was up in Byron Bay.  It was hot and humid, but I got even more hot under the collar after I set about washing and cleaning the van.

This and the next two posts, will be with rants about quality workmanship I've found so far with my van. I'l go from annoying upwards to expansive..

You may want to skip them.

Exhibit one:

My van didn't have an factory immobilizer and I wanted one. An alarm wasn't much more so I thought: why not? The installer had to cut the wire to measure. Could he spare a few more centimeters of wire?  So rather than having the wiring hidden, I have this to look at on the ceiling.

I'll fix this myself at some point. In hindsight, the alarm gives me a warm feeling, but I don't think its that useful overall.

Think about how many times a car alarm has sounded and everyone ignores it..