Saturday, October 30, 2010


Not a traditional Australian festival but rapidly making in-roads to our culture as we become more cosmoplitan through acculturation. While widely believed to be an 'American festival. Halloween has a longer history past the settlement of europeans in America. Halloween is an annual holiday observed on October 31, primarily in the United States, Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. It has roots in the Celtic festival of Samhain and the Christian holiday All Saints' Day, but is today largely a secular celebration. Common Halloween activities include trick-or-treating, wearing costumes and attending costume parties, carving jack-o'-lanterns, ghost tours, bonfires, apple bobbing, visiting haunted attractions, committing pranks, telling ghost stories or other frightening tales, and watching horror films.

Historian Nicholas Rogers, exploring the origins of Halloween, notes that while "some folklorists have detected its origins in the Roman feast of Pomona, the goddess of fruits and seeds, or in the festival of the dead called Parentalia, it is more typically linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain, whose original spelling was Samuin (pronounced sow-an or sow-in)".The name is derived from Old Irish and means roughly "summer's end". A similar festival was held by the ancient Britons and is known as Calan Gaeaf (pronounced Kálan Gái av).

Snap-Apple Night by Daniel Maclise showing a Halloween party in Blarney, Ireland, in 1832. The young children on the right bob for apples. A couple in the center play a variant, which involves retrieving an apple hanging from a string. The couples at left play divination games.The festival of Samhain celebrates the end of the "lighter half" of the year and beginning of the "darker half", and is sometimes regarded as the "Celtic New Year".

The ancient Celts believed that the border between this world and the Otherworld became thin on Samhain, allowing spirits (both harmless and harmful) to pass through. The family's ancestors were honoured and invited home while harmful spirits were warded off. It is believed that the need to ward off harmful spirits led to the wearing of costumes and masks. Their purpose was to disguise oneself as a harmful spirit and thus avoid harm. In Scotland the spirits were impersonated by young men dressed in white with masked, veiled or blackened faces.

Of course, in the southern hemisphere we are moving from winter into spring but that does not prevent some of our local young ladies from joining the fun of 'Trick or Treating':

The word Halloween is first attested in the 16th century and represents a Scottish variant of the fuller All-Hallows-Even ("evening"), that is, the night before All Hallows Day. Up through the early 20th Century, the spelling "Hallowe'en" was frequently used, eliding the "v" and shortening the word. Although the phrase All Hallows is found in Old English (ealra hālgena mæssedæg, mass-day of all saints), All-Hallows-Even is itself not attested until 1556.

Of course. we treateed, but Denny-the-Dog was on hand at the front door as our 'Trick'! LOL!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Off to the specialist .... again!

Have a post-op follow-up visit with the urology specialist in Sydney today, so when I can get Rhonda out of bed and moving we'll be driving up to Sydney this morning.

This time we could not get a room at the Sheraton on the Park, so we are slumming it a bit at Sheraton's Four Seasons at Darling Harbour, the entertainment Mecca of Sydney!

Sheraton Four Seasons, Darling Harbour for those who want a 'peek' at a Sydney hotel. Dining tonite in The Corn Exchange Brassiere.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Melbourne Cup

The Race That Stops a Nation!

The Three Handled Cup - "The Melbourne Cup"

For those of you who do not know, the Melbourne Cup is a horse race - a gruelling, staying marathon of 3,200 metres and, just as ANZAC Day falls every year on the 25th April - a day when we Australians honour our war dead, particularly our servicemen and women who made the supreme sacrifice - the Melbourne Cup falls on the First Tuesday in November - and both events are as quintessentially "Australian" as much as Meat Pies, Kangaroos and Holden cars!

First, a story:
Pat Bartley

October 26, 2010

HAVING a bet on the Melbourne Cup is an Australian rite of passage and whether it be $2 each-way or a ticket in an office sweep, the majority of Aussies will be trying to pick the Cup winner in a week's time.

In the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne a punter named Dave discovered he had an uncanny knack of picking the Cup winner, and his skill became something of a party trick each year at a friend's Cup-day barbecue.

Dave had no interest in racing or the punt, but each Cup eve he would sit down with the form guide. He didn't have a particular method for making his selection, he would just read the form and the comments for each runner and pick the horse that he thought stood out. On Cup day he'd have a $100 win bet on the horse.

Dave's winning streak was quite incredible and each year his friends would have a $50 win bet on Dave's selection.

He picked Rogan Josh in 1999, Brew in 2000, Ethereal in 2001, and Media Puzzle in 2002. He backed Makybe Diva in each of her three wins to extend his winning streak to seven.

On Cup eve 2006 one of Dave's mates called him around the time he was settling in to do the form. So as not to upset Dave's ritual, his mate asked him to call him back when he had made his selection.

Dave duly called back and told him he had selected Delta Blues.

His mate suggested that instead of having his usual $100 bet on Delta Blues he should up the stakes. After all, he had picked the previous seven Melbourne Cup winners and clearly was a master at assessing the race.

Dave asked how much he thought he should bet and was more than a little reticent when his friend suggested $1000.

However, he thought that since he didn't bet during the year and, in fact, spent about the same sort of money on football memberships and days in the Melbourne Cricket Club members each season, he could probably afford the splurge.

With the bet placed on the Japanese outsider, Dave headed to his friend's barbecue to watch the race.

The backyard cricket match was interrupted as the horses entered the barriers for the Cup and soon the loungeroom erupted as Delta Blues took the Cup at odds of $17.

As the revellers celebrated Dave's windfall, he ran outside to grab the ticket from his wallet, only to find that the wallet, along with mobile phones and cigarette lighters were missing from a table alongside the cricket stumps.

Across the yard sat a very sheepish-looking labrador ironically named ''Punter'' and in his mouth was the remains of Dave's wallet and a tote ticket chewed up beyond recognition.

His friends say Dave took a while to get over the loss and that he has never patted Punter since. And he didn't have a bet on the 2007 Cup.

Pat Bartley's new book, On the Punt, is published by Penguin, $19.95

Now, if you want to appear an expert on "The Cup", here is a Complete Reference

Oh!  and a List of past winners is located here!

Oh!  You want a tip for "The Cup" - well,

1. What?
Look for a stayer who can run the distance and is tried and proven over 3200 metres.
2. Trainers.
 A Trainer with a 'licence' on 'The Cup' is Bart Cummings - known as the Cups King as he has won the race a record 12 times.
3. Sex.
Entire horses and geldings feature well in Cup results and,
4. Weight.
Generally, middle or lightly weighted horses who can run the distance are preferred.  49 to 54kg is a good weighted mount.
5. Melbourne Cup winners Sex (last winner in brackets)
Entires - 65 (Shocking 2009)
Geldings - 49 (Efficient 2007)
Colts - 19 (Skipton, 1941)
Mares - 13 (Makybe Diva 2003-05)
Fillies - 3 (Sister Olive, 1921)
6. Number of words Winners
One word 83 (Viewed, 2008)
Two words 61 (Delta Blues, 2006)
Three-words 5 (Might And Power, 1997)

This year- I like Zipping, Jessicabeel, Precedence and Shocking (last years winner) and think they'll all be there at the finish. A 4 year old horse called 'So You Think', a Bart Cummings trained horse,  is the favourite but I think he's a bit young and may find the distance beyond him - this year, at least!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Driving 101 - extension

Wendy posted in Goodbye POS hello truck an image of her new truck and I wrote that I would post an image of my truck, known as "The Beast"!

Well, here it is:

Rodeo LT, 3.5L petrol with long-range tank, 5 speed manual (floor shift), limited slip differential, bullbar, driving lights, fog lights, electric (tow) braking control, HD rear suspension uplift, load levellers for tow vehicle, second battery in tray, lockable canopy with 3 windows, tow hitch, reversing cameras and 5inch vidscreen, 2-way radio - and .......... did I also mention climate control? LOL!

Happy driving Wendy - get out there and get that stink pot of yours weaving!

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Real Thing - some effects and figures

I have to use 'The Real Thing ' here for legal reasons but you know what the real thing is, don't you?

1. The Real Thing was first invented by a pharmacist name John Pemberton as a medicine to cure headaches.

2. The Real Thing go its name because of the original ingredients used in the medicine, Coca leaves and Kola seeds. Wine was also added in place of sugar similar to the coke we drink today.

3. When Mentos is added to the Real Thing, the carbon dioxide in the coke will be rapidly released, causing the coke in the bottle to burst out. Diet variety works the best.

4. The Real Thing can be used to help cure jellyfish stings.

5. The Real Thing  can also be used as a cleaning solution, cleaning anything from rusty pans to dirty toilets. It can also be used to remove odor.

6. If you accidentally got gum in your hair, rinse it in The Real Thing and the gum will come of very easily.

7. The Real Thing usually have the phrase “Original Formula” near the bottom of their cans/bottles, but it is not actually “original”, since in 1985, a portion of the sugar in The Real Thing was removed and replaced by high fructose corn syrup, causing an altered taste as well as causing the coke to become unhealthy.

8. The Real Thing was first green in colour.

9.It used to contain cannabis but in 1905 it was removed due to public concern.

10.The Real Thing 's name  means “to make mouth happy” in Chinese.

11.If you put T-bone steak in coke it will be gone in 2 days.

12.If all the The Real Thing bottles in the world were laid end to end they would reach the moon and back more than 1,677 times.

13.While someone was having a competition “who can drink the most coke in one go” they drank 8 bottles of The Real Thing  and died on the spot. This was because he had too much carbon dioxide and to less oxygen in his blood.

14.In many states highway patrols carry 2 gallons of The Real Thing  in the truck to remove blood from car accidents on the highway.

15.You can clean toilet by pouring a can of The Real Thing  down it and leaving it for 1 hour.

16.You can use it to help remove grease stains and loosen rusty bolts.

17.The name of the flavour base included in the secret formula for The Real Thing is referred to as 7X.

18. Only a few people know the secret formula for The Real Thing . Concentrate for The Real Thing is made in a number of centralised production facilities, and is exported to all countries in the world that bottle The Real Thing .

19. The Real Thing was invented on May 8, 1886 by Dr John Styth Pemberton, a pharmacist, in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. It first went on sale in Jacob's Pharmacy, Atlanta, Georgia.

20. The bottling rights for The Real Thing were sold for US$1.00 in the 1890's. The trademark, used in the marketplace since 1886, was registered with the US Patent Office on January 31, 1893 and the trademark 'Coke' was registered in 1945.

21. The Real Thing is the most recognised trademark, recognised by 94% of the world's population and is the most widely recognised word after "OK".

22. The type of print used for the The Real Thing logo is called "Spencerian Script".

23. Artist Haddon Sundblom's portraits for Christmas holiday advertisements, which began in the 1930's helped mould the image of a red-suited Santa Claus.

24. The Real Thing was first sold in Australia in 1937 and in New Zealand in 1939.

25. The Real Thing and the Olympics began their association in Amsterdam in the summer of 1928. That association has continued for all subsequent Games.

26. The 'diet' version was launched nationally in Australia in 1983. By the end of that year, it was already the second highest selling carbonated soft drink in Australia after The Real Thing .

27. The Real Thing corporate system has more than 500 brands available around the world and there are more than 1200 bottling plants around the world.

28. The first two countries to bottle The Real Thing after it was introduced in the United States were Cuba and Panama.

29. There are nearly 10,450 soft drinks of The Real Thing consumed every second of every day.

30. In its first year, servings of The Real Thing amounted to less than 10 a day. Today one billion servings are consumed every day!

31. If all The Real Thing ever produced were in regular sized bottles, there would be over 4 trillion bottles. If these were stacked on a football field the total would make a mountain over 325 miles high. This is more than 60 times taller than Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world.

32. The Real Thing first came to Asia after the turn of the century when it was introduced in the Philippines. Local bottling operations began soon after in both the Philippines and China.

33. The longest distribution route is in Australia - 2,186 miles from Perth, Western Australia to the north of the state!

34. Although The Real Thing is enjoyed ice-cold around the world, in Hong Kong it is sometimes served hot as a remedy for colds!

35. If all The Real Thing ever produced were flowing over Niagra falls at its normal rate of 1.5 million gallons per second instead of water, the falls would flow for 38 hours and 46 minutes!

36.The Northern Territory has the highest per capita consumption rate of The Real Thing in the world - 529.7 for total Company products

Keyboarding 2 finger style

Had a little mishap in the kitchen, slicing bread with a razor sharp nice - Yes!  That's right, straight across the quick of my left index finger! Ouch!!!!!!  Blood everywhere (and I'm a 'bleeder' to boot).

Might have needed a suture or two but I don't have a great deal of confidence in the nurses at the local hospital - most would do an army surgeon in a Victorian-era Field Hospital credit, LOL! - and I knew they would not let me suture it myself, so had to make do with Band Aids (elastic adhesive strips to the non-Aussies) and a pressure bandage.

So please forgive any inadvertant 'typos'.

Saw John Gill's comment on Bag Packing and thought I must add this contribution:

"Bag packing groceries is a skill that approaches an art form. Everytime we go to the supermarket Rhonda always chooses her 'checkout  chickie' very carefully, afterall, she does not want her tins on top of her eggs or cream sponge. Its always an uncomfortable ride home if we get a change in 'checkout  chickie' as we wait in the queue and the atmosphere is like that akin to an approaching electric storm until we get home, unload the car, get the groceries sorted and stacked and put away in the order that suits her requirements.

I usually slink away and put the kettle on and meekly offer her a 'cuppa' to help ease the tension until all is set well in her groceries world. LOL!"

Saturday, October 16, 2010

More Flowers

Some of the flowers growing around "The Camp"

Several colours of geraniums:

A  rose or two:

A white daisy (and soon to have a mauve daisy planted from a cutting)

A native bottlebrush flower:

My Iris blooms

We had a severe storm last night - actually it commenced yesterday afternoon, Rain squalls, high winds and cold. Wouldn't you know it, my Irises had just started to bloom - the yellow ones and the mauve and white ones on the sunny side of the house. There are more mauve ones on the other side of the house but they are still in bud swell.

Anyway, I thought I had better get some images of them before they were storm damaged.

Friday, October 15, 2010

"Minds in Chains"

On "Being Nuts" Part II

Warning - Images may be disturbing!

OK - You've been warned, continue to read on if you are prepared.

You know, we are (most of us, I think) very fortunate for the culture of care which surrounds the way we live. In my previous post I spoke of my own experiences of working in a psychiatric ward for over two decades. A colleague read that post and told me about some photographs in the Nikon-Walkley Press Photo Awards of mentally ill people being 'treated' in a Jakarta institution. These are not 'made up', 'posed' or in anyway contrived images.

Photo Essay - Finalist

"Minds in Chains"

The Yayasan Galuh Centre in Bekasi outside Jakarta. There is no medical treatment here, just potions, massage and prayer. Many of the patients are nude and nearly half of them are chained to poles.

A 12 foot Python is used to subdue unruly patients at the Yayasan Galuh Centre in Bekasi outside Jakarta.

Picture: Jason South, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald / Courtesy of the Nikon-Walkley Press Photo Awards

Photo Essay - Finalist

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

On 'Being Nuts'

As American Journalist Hunter S Thompson (1937-2005) wrote:

"...If you're going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you're going to be locked up. ..."

One thing about working in psychiatric wards for decades, you quickly became able to spot those around you who were crazy - including your fellow employees. You soon realised that these were all the smart ones - they knew things were not right in their world but they were on the inside. They were the ones getting treatment while all the other suckers stumbled around on the outside, following their mundane lives and hoping something good was going to come from it.

I always held the philosophy that if I, or any of my staff, got physically injured through our interactions with residents than we were really to blame 'cos we got careless and dropped our guard. In near thirty years I only got hurt/injured by residents twice and in both cases it was my fault, 'cos I forgot the rules and dropped my guard.

We were taught, early in the piece, the 10 Commandments:

1. Always try work in pairs (how I met Rhonda LOL! ).

2. Always check the Med Charts when you came on and note what ‘extra’ medications the high risk residents were ordered.

3. Dispense your ‘extra’ medications for high risks and leave in the locked treatment room – never try to get them ready in an emergency, you will be too rattled and spill it everywhere!

4. Always back-up your partner, never leave them alone or exposed to risk.

5. Never walk straight through a door into a residents room/area. Always approach a doorway and move sideways through it and always towards the most open space in that room/area.

6. Never stand within reaching distance of a resident and if you need to make a restraining move, step to their 'on-side' and take hold of their wrist, move behind them, place your free hand behind their shoulder and apply an 'armbar' hold. (We practiced it, regularly!)

7. Talk quietly, modulate your tone of voice, never make sudden moves.

8. Always (ALWAYS) keep your hands down - at or below your waist.

9. Keep your back to a wall and keep a clear space between you and the nearest exit.

10. Know when your meal break is due and make sure you get off the ward for it!

Feel free to add your thoughts on 'Being Crazy' - try starting with a 'craziness' quote.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Rhys Priestland Incredible Try - Scarlets v Perpignan

Heineken Cup Rugby - 09-10-10

Scarlets (Llanelli, Wales) score a magnificent team try against Perpignan, although I reckon there is a good case the breakaway that stole the ball didn't come through the gate, and was offside.

If Wales can play with flair like this then the World cup is theirs for the taking.

We've lost a great soprano

Opera legend Joan Sutherland has died in Europe after a long illness, at the age of 83.

RIP "La Stupenda"

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sunrise by the Lake

We had a few days at "The Camp".

Denny-the-Dog was restless and woke early and wanted to go for a walk, so, I grabbed my camera and set off around the lake just as the sun broke over the ridgeline across the water.

Then, through the trees the sun reflected off the surface of the water

As it got higher a 'con-trail' was rapidly dispersed by some high altitude air movement.

The ice-cold waters of the late winter came into full view.

As the early morning shadows moved off the rocks along the pathway.

Then finally the sun settled on the waters before another day of aquatic events.

All of this in around 15 minutes!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

For Jim

Hi Jim,

Here are a couple of images of the hibiscus I mentioned on your blog - Long Live Hibiscus.


Another favourite plant of ours is the 'pigface' or Carpobrotus spp They are a very hardy succulant that is frosttolerant and open and close with the sun, in fact they will 'track the sun' and always grow facing towards the sun's path across the garden.

We managed to save a cutting of this plant and it has survived on the highlands in a large pot out near our BBQ setting. We have decided to propogate some more cuttings from it and replant it in the gardens up at "The Camp" to form a ground cover.

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Ewe-nique Event...

Boorowa's "Running of the Sheep" festival images.

The Boorowa Hotel top verandah is a good viwing spot, but you have to get there early:

The floats lead the way:

Followed by the Irish Pipe Band (see why you have to get to the Hotel early):

The Bull and Stallion was a bit removed from the action but suited myself as a base to "park and walk"

Enter the sheep:

and they just kept coming:

Some of the locals got into the swing of things and added a few decorative touches of their own:

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Views around Yass

Just a few shots I took as I walked Denny-the-Dog up to the shops this morning, mostly the catholic college, Mt Carmel's and St Augustine's church.

The old convent, now part of the Mt Carmel College:

Mt Carmel College Administration Building:

The old Church:

The Grotto in the old church courtyard:

The Presbytery in the old church grounds:

The Church Hall:

St Augustines - the new church:

A stone cottage:

Yass Public School, viewed through the tree from Riverside Park:

A tree lined avenue:

Sunday stroll through the streets:

View from the Post Office:

The Post Office building:

Yass River and road bridge:

The river weir and footbridge:

The disused iron railway bridge over the Yass River: