A few weeks ago, I dropped into Anaconda on Hunter Street looking for a remote-control, battery operated thingumajig that can be easily deployed for trapping Queenslanders. They're in plague proportions in this city of late - just look at the red and white number plates around the place.
How long till we have a vaccine to protect us from them? And they're keeping us out?
I remain committed to a wall at the Hawkesbury to keep Sydney on their side. But that's about as likely as a very fast train. Every time I hear the words very fast train - or even better, very fast train study - wheeled out, I hyperventilate and fall to the ground laughing while thinking of Yes Minister or Utopia. There must be many more studies, Minister.
Novocastrians would be happy with a little bit faster train.
It was terrific to read in last Thursday's Newcastle Herald that the NSW government will undertake further studies into reducing the time it takes for the Shitkansens to move between Newcastle and Hornsby to 90 minutes.
Newcastle Business Chamber chief Bob Hawes believes the government are as dinkum as a wasp sting, telling the Herald that "we believe it's a realistic stepping stone, that they can really do this."
It would be both churlish and miserable to point out that sometimes beliefs can be in direct conflict with everything else we know to be true, so I won't do that.
Let's channel the Little Engine That Could: I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. Belief, brothers and sisters.
And let's channel stadium rock gods Journey too: "don't stop believin', hold on to the feelin".
After failing to locate a Queenslander-catching thingumajig, I toddled down to the bike section in the back corner of the store to get a tyre-pump. No pumps. Sold out. Not a bicycle in the place. Sold out.
Bike stores have been going gangbusters as have bike mechanics, since the COVID-19 restrictions have been in place.
The bike is back big time, baby.
Until a couple of weeks ago, there were noticeably fewer cars on the roads and Newcastle came into its own as a cycling paradise.
Exercise, fun, cheap, sustainable.
Have you been to Glenrock lately? Totes packed with mountain bikes.
And on the same day Bob was believin', the City of Newcastle completed the community feedback survey that will help inform a revised Newcastle Cycling Strategy and Action Plan.
This will set priorities, clear directions and specific actions to be achieved over the next four to five years. Expansion of, and improvements to, the network will remain an area of focus for the Cycleways program.
This is great news. I want to believe. The NSW government totally road roughshod over locals when the light rail was bunged in without proper consideration of cyclists, despite the early artists' impressions of some utopian cycling nirvana.
And so now, cyclists ride on the footpaths of both Hunter and King streets because the unlikelihood of copping a fine for doing so is a risk worth taking compared to the danger of riding in the car door death lane.
There's some real action being implemented right now in other parts of the country.
The City of Melbourne will be the first place in Australia to install pop-up bike lanes as a response to the increased number of bike riders during COVID-19.
On-street car parking will be removed to create space for pop-up bike lanes and wider footpaths, similar to work being done in cities including Auckland and Paris.
Pop-up bike lanes are also on the drawing board in New South Wales with the state government starting to work with councils on redesigning streets and trails for bike riders and pedestrians.
Social distance provisions aren't going away anytime soon.
It, and the huge take up of cycling by Novocastrians, provide a massive opportunity for the City of Newcastle to be genuinely bold with its strategy and action plan.
It's more than disappointing the city has no car parking strategy and many ideal cycling areas close to the beaches such as the Shortland Esplanade and King Edward Park remain captured by those obsessed with "free" untimed parking.
With the closure of both the David Jones carpark (around 270 parks) a couple of years ago, and the real possibility that the King street carpark (around 470 parks) will never house another vehicle due to concrete cancer, it would seem prudent to develop a city parking strategy and action plan in tandem with the plans for elevating and promoting bicycle use.
Don't stop believin'.