Keenwalk: Why I went

Keenwalk: Why I went


“The upper bound of one mans imagination of the impossible is a simple walk for another”


It’s been almost a year since I’ve returned from the KeenWalk to Kosciuszko. When asked the inevitable “why”, I try to stick to short uncomplicated replies: “It’s for a lost bet” or “I felt like it” or my personal favourite, “I did it for the T-Shirt”. [0] How I discovered the walk is not so interesting by comparison. I found out purely “by accident.” My morning reading habits include Hacker News and I came across an article, “Australian Economist who lost bet will walk from Parliament to Mount Kosciousko.” [1] I’m interested in any Australian references on Hacker News, so I read the article, absorbed the challenge and contacted Steve that day and signed up. It was that simple.

“… This week in The Economist we will publish our quarterly index of house prices around the world. Australia’s homes are the most overvalued in the index. The ratio of prices to rents in the country is fully 56% above its long-run average (see chart). … “ [2]

Fast forward 9 days, 240 kilometers and many towns later and you get to this picture. It was taken late on the last day of Steve descending Kosciuszko, job done. For Steve it was more than just about completing the distance, personal or professional pride. It was about a bigger question. Are “rising house prices a bubble?”. [2] A lot of press was watching this “walk of shame” as one Journalist put it, with the expectation of a symbolic failure. As if a failure to reach the summit would somehow invalidate the idea of the current housing bubble. That’s why this image is a favourite of the trip. The distance covered, mountain summit reached and negative press silenced. The master stroke of imagination Steve conjoured, was to take up an off-the-cuff challenge [1] then flawlessly achieve it. So thanks Steve for letting me go on the KeenWalk. I learned a lot from trip but the one that comes most to mind, and I smile as I think about it, “the upper bound of one mans imagination of the impossible is a simple walk for another”.


[0] 2011MAR121259, flickr, “I did it for the t-shirt”
[Accessed Saturday, 12th March 2011]

[1] samh, Hackernews, “Australian Economist who lost bet will walk from Parliament to Mount Kosciousko”
[Accessed Saturday, 12th March 2011] and

[2] S.C., Economist, “Iron, coal, bricks and mortar”
[Accessed Saturday, 12th March 2011]


Fake practice


“The soldiers must respond; neutralise the enemy, and provide triage to the injured. It is, of course, a drill. … “It’s confronting,” Major Greg Brown, the clinical director of the training regime, said. In a way it’s clinical inoculation. … The injuries and the mechanisms are all taken from real life casualty statistics. We try and keep it as real as we can to prepare the soldiers when they get there for what’s going to confront them.” [0]

Looks good, but it will not prepare enough for the real thing. The job will get done but the individuals doing the fixing and those on the receiving end will pay a hefty price. Why?

Treating actors dressed in uniforms with fake blood,  trying to diagnose and put into practice your training will help but only to a point. It won’t inoculate them from the associated psychological trauma. Which I think the training is trying to address.

Practice of this type will let you get the job done, that’s it. It won’t equip you with the skills to ignore the horrors of the moment, the fear and anxiety of knowing if you don’t do the job right, someone dies. It won’t prepare you if you fail. It won’t give you the skills to decompress or recover.


You need to practice not with fake casualties but live casualties. Either animals like goats, that are injured or with a rotation in a hospital where real people are being treated with wounds consistent with the effect. Having access to hospitals and injured patients isn’t realistic. If you want to improve both the ability of people to save lives and reduce psychological trauma there are alternatives.

It’s not politically correct to suggest, but one way to simulate the types of stress you will encounter is to organise a bonding sessions with animals. Then have the animal injured and get the trainees to patch the animal up. The reason? To place real stress on the trainee just like it will occur if a person is injured. Especially if it is someone they know. This is cruel. [1] Not only for the animal. But the lack of a credible alternative is just as cruel for the people who are exposed to these situations with inadequate realistic training. [2]

Simulate as much as you like, no simulated training prepares you for the real thing.


[0] Hayden Cooper, ABC News, “Fake blood prepares troops for real war”
[Accessed Tuesday 15th June, 2010]

[1] Human Society of United States, “Getting Their Goats: Tell the Army to Stop Using Caprines in Medic Training”
[Accessed Tuesday 15th June, 2010]

[2] Jim Hanson, Washington Times, “Save people, not pets”
[Accessed Tuesday 15th June, 2010]

The golden moment


I was watching the Golden Hour the other day. [0] There is one aspect the documentary does not explain properly, “The golden hour”.

The golden hour is a reference to the ability of a person to survive if given appropriate medical treatment within the first hour of trauma. But in reality the situation is a bit more nuanced than title suggests. Instead of the “golden hour” think “golden moment”. Why?

Well depending on the severity of the trauma, “the golden moment” might  be the first 10 seconds or the first 10 minutes leading up to the first hour. So what you get is not only the “golden hour” but the “golden 10 seconds”, the “golden 10 minutes”. If appropriate triage then treatment is applied within these time frames, survivability is more favourable.

[0] ABC, Mark Corcoran, “The Golden Hour: Afghanistan: The ‘Gen Y’ War” The topic isn’t a pleasent one. It’s about trauma and medivac operations at foward operating base SHANK and explains medical evacuations in Afghanistan. You can watch it here:
[Accessed Monday July 14, 2010]

Keenwalk training


On April 14, 2010, I joined a walk with Academic and Economist, Steve Keen from Canberra to Mount Mt.Koscuiszko. On April 23 I made my way to the summit. This story starts with a Professor, an Analyst and a lost bet at Parliament House, Canberra.

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Ending nine days and approximately 240 kilometers away at the top of Mt.Koscuiszko.


This is the first of several posts. I took a lot of pictures along the way and will try to show what kind of country we marched across. This first post will concentrate on training and how I made sure I could make the distance without injury, comfortably.


Gone walkabout

Where I explain why doing 240Km in nine days is "do-able"by gradually ramping up my daily schedule.

1000 miles

Last year I was exploring some ideas on failure and why people fail. So I decided to test the idea and pick a seemingly impossible goal, then try achieve it or break. The idea I came up with: “travel on foot in one year 1000 Kilometers”. Sound easy right? I picked the hardest, fixed 10 kilometer route I could find. Then proceeded to walk. Sometimes I’d run and later I added a 10 kilogram pack never exceeding a one percent effort increase. Every couple of days I would clock up 10 kilometers. Sun, rain, day or night until I broke.

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At first it was pretty hard. I don’t care what anybody says, 10 kilometers every second to third day is difficult. But you do toughen up. By about 400 kilometers, I found things started to get pretty easy. Then with 42 days to go to the end of the year, I completed 1000 kilometers. What next? Why not try 1000 miles? 1000 miles is even crazier, right?


For me, 2009 went out with rain, thunderclaps and sore feet.

So for the next 42 days in the growing heat of summer, I raced to complete the last 540 kilometers to take the total up to 1600 kilometers. It was tough, but once again do-able. Instead of the easy 10 kilometers per day, I now had to push up to 20 kilometers per day. Ten in the morning, ten in the afternoon. While most watched television in the evening, I’d be grabbing my water bottles, hat and clocking up the kilometers. On the last day of 2009 I headed out, finishing my last ten kilometers in a surprise flash rain storm. For me, 2009 went out with rain, thunderclaps and sore feet.

Things learnt

So what did I learn from this crazy idea?

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Well a lot actually. The first and most important: If you break your big tasks into smaller achievable chunks and concentrate on finishing the small tasks, you can complete seemingly big tasks. But there was a twist. I found that the point of failure can happen at any time and the most likely point at the start or finish. You can push yourself a lot harder physically than you think. The mind is much stronger than body and with sufficient will-power, you can overcome quite a bit of pain and overcome exhaustion.


But there are limits. One thing I found out a few times is susceptibility to the elements. The weather always dictates how you should prepare. The weather can be as much as 50 percent of hardship. Also there is the problem of hydration.


Hydration is important because if you don’t drink enough, not only do you loose up to 20 percent power, but you can also cause stomach problems. You can get into a shite situation simply by not drinking enough.


There is a simple solution: As a rule of thumb I consume about 1 litre of water per 10 kilometers when it’s hot. When the heat is bad I supplement my water with some isotonic additives to address the potassium loss through sweat and eat. Muscle fatige and tiredness is bought about by a combination of Calcium exhaustion, glucose depletion and lactic acid buildup. Understanding hydration and muscle fatigue allowed me to better prepare for longer distances in all kinds of weather.


So after I’ve completed a thousand miles in one year, what’s next?  By this stage I’ve got a bit sick of doing just the same 10 kilometer track. So I was consciously looking for longer distances. That’s when I found the Keen Walk.

How I found the Keen Walk

"... He _is_ taking 8 days to do it, so he's only got to walk ~30km (just under 20 miles) a day. ..."Hmm 20 miles a day for 8 days in hilly terrain in April is not to be underestimated.

In two words, “by accident”.

I was pouring over my morning news items on HackerNews and came across this article, Australian Economist who lost bet will walk from Parliament to Mount Kosciousko. I’m interested in any Australian references, so I read the article, absorbed the challenge and contacted Steve that day and signed up. What now? I’ve got plenty of experience below 1000 meters and virtually none above. Going to the highest place in Australia isn’t a thing to be taken lightly. Some specialist help is required.

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Seeking Advice

I sought advice in two places. One at some specialist stores, the other mates I know who have Alpine hours. Seeking such advice is important. Firstly there are so many small things to absorb in a short period of time. That’s where Moose came into the picture. I’ve known Moose for a long time and I knew he had some Alpine hours so it was a logical choice to bounce my planning details off his experience. The second bit of advice is to know which pieces of kit to bring and what to ignore. Every piece of kit you source costs and it should also be as multi-purpose as possible. Then there is the problem of planning.

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Beyond Planning

If you have no idea of what planning is about, here’s a quick summary. You plan not to have a guide that you follow by the book. You plan to explore your requirements to concentrate on contingency. All planning goes to hell when you execute. Careful planning allows you to adapt quickly and create a new plan as conditions change. Planning is a process to take stock, allow you to adapt when things go “pear shaped”. I’ll write some more about this concept at another time but for the moment consider planning necessary, but not used as you might think.

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Assembling Kit

You start with footwear. In my case boots. I’ve got some ancient heavy black Paratrooper boots I have used for years. But I decided to get some new ones. The ones I chose are standard Issue Desert pattern number 4’s. For extreme weather I had a loaner pair of Goretex all weather boots. I tested the Goretex boots over ten kilometers with very thin socks. They are without doubt, “the bee’s knee’s” of boots. But they are way to hot. The Goretex are for very cold, wet conditions only. The Desert issue are much better suited for general walking.

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Next I started to “break-in” the Desert issue boots. I also started playing with lace up configuration. The left boot with left to right lace up, the right boot with right lace centrally up the middle with the left lace criss-crossing the central lace. The difference in lace up style is because the later allows you to cut the boot off faster in case of a foot or leg break. Turns out the criss-cross method works better. So I chose the left hand style.

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Nothing new

Next I decided to make sure the Desert issue boots had at least 200 kilometers clocked up to ensure no problems on the march. The first time I wore them with thick socks, I got blisters and sore front toes as they bashed against the front of the boot going down hills. Taping and thin socks alleviated this problem.

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Taking and wearing “nothing new” is an idea that allows you to test everything before you go. New boots can mean blisters. New packs, sores or back sprain. Nothing new!

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What did I take

Above and below you can see the core of my kit. A dive bag to carry most of it in. Some webbing to carry extra water and kit on the road. A light day pack with internal water bladder for extra 3 litres of water. Thermal tops, wool thermal underwear, gloves. I also picked up some wick inner gloves.

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Other pieces of kit include:

  • map case

    • compass

    • 1:50,000 map coverage of Mt.Koscuiszko & surrounding area

    • 1:25,000 topographic map coverage of Mt.Koscuiszko area

  • spare water bottle

    • 2 x thermos
  • Greatcoat

  • Outer shell jacket

    • individually packed rat packs (bag filled with various high calorie food)

    • notepad & pens

    • camera

  • Day pack

In the end I didn’t need or use all of the listed items. The idea here is to match your requirements to need at the same time don’t overstock. There are also some other considerations especially with air travel.

Air travel with dangerous goods

I didn’t bring along my solid magnesium block for emergency fire lighting. Nor did I ship the webbing via air. I don’t think it would go down to well when I went through security trying to explain the residues left over in the webbing magazine pouches.


Stepping up

Committed, I booked as many places on the route along the away as I could. Now came the hard part, trying out 34 kilometers in one day. My usual starting low of 10 kilometers was not going to cut it. My usual high of 20 kilometers a day was not going to be enough. Now was the time to increase my daily total to 34 kilometers with minimal rest between each session.

The morning session would be 15 kilometers and the afternoon 17. Enough for the walk? I didn’t know. So I started doing this first once every three or four days. Then I tried three days in a row. 100 kilometers in three days with pack, with water in my broken-in boots.

Trouble! … I couldn’t walk.

The amount of walking I had tried simply caused my calves to cease up. So I had to adjust by stretching more. Calf, followed by hamstring then quads. I repeated this after every hill or when I became sore. This simple adjustment allowed me to easily ramp up to the distances required. It was still hard work.


Last minute prep

For the last push I spent about four or five days marching in heat up the hills of Mt.Dandenong and alongside the 1000 steps track. I really smashed myself in these sessions of long uphill sections in preparation for the hard days ahead.

Wednesday, 28th April 2010. This is the fist part of my recollections of the Keenwalk. You can see the photos at my Keenwalk collection on my flickr account. The posts will also be mirrored at Be sure to read the posts by other participants.

Continued ==> Day 1

“Out Of The Blue” at 100 RMS


My first record [0] was named after an advertising jingle for “Rust-oleum” and released at a pivotal point in rock music history. But to understand why it was important, you have to go back in time: Pre Internet and mp3; Before MTV and video; Even before CD’s and triple RRR. A land of Countdown, cassettes and vinyl LP’s. Music was dictated by commercial AM radio. A bland mixture of over produced pop, rock and Disco.

I hate Disco.

Up till this point my musical tastes where my Dads tastes. From the progressive to symphonic rock of Supertramp, Queen and ELO. The pure pop of Elton and the stripped back rock of early Dire Straits. Being a bit of a HiFi nerd, Dad slowly built up a stereo system consisted of a Hafler DH-200 power-amp connected to a NAD 1020 pre-amp with speakers big enough to drive the sound.

School intervened. An assignment meant I had to find lyrics to a song of my choice and discuss it in class. Tuning to the radio of those days was a wasteland of sound. Rarely did you find new, good music. By chance I heard an acoustic tune on the radio. Sounded catchy and was by the same musician who released a Nashville inspired album released a year previously. I taped it off the radio, laboriously transcribed the lyrics. Wrote up a paper and discussed it in class.

I’d recently got a job at the local supermarket. So I purchased the LP, my first. Got it home, listened to the first side. Okay, similar to what I’d expected. Flipped it over, turned it up. Distortion at 100 RMS. Nothing was ever quite the same again.

The year, 1979. The album, Neil Young’s,Rust Never Sleeps.


[0] RockWiz is in the process of creating a “Family blog” so I thought I’ll add mine.

What do you tweet about?


“… Where is that from?! And what do you tweet about, mysterious bootload? Lyrics..? And whose? …”

An anonymous reader asked this question.

So I guess I should answer it. It’s pretty harmless and asked out of curiosity, so here it goes. When I first found twitter I had no real idea what it could be used for. Over time I’ve found a number of uses: a reminder to do things; a messaging system (obvious); a question asking tool; a broadcast tool (obvious); a place to add things that sub consciously rise while working. I find well crafted words have impact. I like them because they stick.


Since I live on the open-web, I add anything I want (within reason) to my twitter feed. It doesn’ t have to make any real sense to anyone else but myself. I certainly don’t write stuff for others to read. I write for my own selfish reasons. I use my accounts for work only. There are no images of friends, family or myself. That’s a waste of time. More importantly, it’s boring.

Sound matters

When I’m working I have music going. I choose my music carefully. I mean really carefully. Otherwise you end up years later listening to the drivel that passes for popular music of the time. So if you read my twit account and see lyrics posted it’s probably reflecting what music I’m listening to at the moment.

That’s all, no mystery.


The original post can be found at 2009MAY092133. The image above was taken in Sydney on 3rd November, 2009 at Circular Quay in the ferry terminal.

“… The idea that something is uncool because it’s old or foreign has left the collective consciousness …” (Brian Eno)


  • HN

    • A climate scientist who engages skeptics (posted)

    • Why I was tempted to discriminate against women (posted)

      “… I’m trying to figure out why this article is posted, as a UK anti-discrimination bill doesn’t seem to matter much to mostly-US programmers. …”

      Because it’s worth thinking about “why there are so few women in Startups?” Is it really how good a person is as a hacker or entrepreneur that stops someone succeeding? Is the Startup playground as open and equal as you think?

    • Heavy metal (posted)

    • The death of uncool (posted)

    • Proper use of English could get a virus past security (posted)

    • Ask HN: Please review my Twitter dating app 😉

      “… Sticking exclusively with Twitter for now …”

      Great strategy. I noticed @joshu and use this idea making authentication simple without the login hurdle.

    • A Liberal, Accurate Regex Pattern for Matching URLs


      I found the w3 specs (rfc3987) suitable for my needs ~ a nice Regex to parse Url formats. This Regex allows you to extract scheme ($2), authority ($4), path ($5), query ($7) and fragment ($9) ~

      There are problems I’ve seen with using Regex strings and expecting them to work in all cases on all Regex engines which is why I tend to stick with PCRE ~… a point in favour of the Gruber example.

      “… The pattern is also liberal about Unicode glyphs within the URL …”

      PCRE supports Unicode but it’s not switched on by default ~

    • What should I choose, PhD or startup?

      “… Do you like/agree with my answer ? …”

      Over analysis?

      “… My student is a student of Chemical Engineering. Right now he has the opportunity of developing his own chemical-based business with a good economical prospects. …”

      If you are making “stuff”, unless you are selling the process, the derivative of making “stuff” you will be bound to the old laws of creating a business. In some ways it reminds me more of a hardware Startup. The rules of Software startup rules don’t apply. You (might) need offices, lab space or time, hiring of extra expertise, equipment and the problems of marketing and sales. All this requires cash and a degree of risk higher than a software Startup.

      One question. Does has this new “stuff” got existing or potential customers? Is your “stuff” applicable to a large market commodity or a high cost niche marThe death of uncoolket?

  • Twitter

    • ♬ Didn’t anybody tell her? / Didn’t anybody see? / Sunday’s on the phone to Monday / Tuesday’s on the phone to me ♬ #

    • ♬ In a cap she looked much older / And the bag across her shoulder / Made her look a little like a military man ♬ #

    • ♬ Nothing can come between us / When it gets dark I tow your heart away ♬ #

    • ♬ Fun / fun is the one thing that money can’t buy / Something inside that was always denied ♬ #

    • 390Km in 34 days #

    • yesterday, pt2 1210/1600 #pt 1kg #wt 20x#ex #

    • ♬ I used to get mad at my school / The teachers who taught me weren’t cool / You’re holding me down / Filling me up with your rules ♬ #



  • created 2009NOV28

Peter Renshaw Copyright 1994 – 2009 for all text and images using the Creative Commons ‘Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 Australia’ License.