Monday, November 28, 2011

Away for 5 days

We indulged in some "retail therapy" and did our personal Christmas shopping early.

We bought a new set of Four Chairs for the dining table - match beautifully, high slatted backs in New Zealand pine that match the New Zealand pine round table we've had for nineteen years perfectly. We salvaged two of the low backed round chairs from the original set and we are taking them up to "The Camp" with us. The other two went out to the kerbside collection and were gone in a matter of a few hours to scavengers.

We also bought a Weber q-200 barbecue with its own trolley base/stand from Burning Log Megastore - this remains cartoned-up and we'll unpack it when we get back from "The Camp".

Rhonda is on a seven day break - a rare rostering occurrence in nursing - so we are using the last five days of her break to take some time out and head up to "The Camp".

The grass has been cut, the house cleaned, the garden tidied up and the shopping done. A few loose ends to tie up this morning (Monday) and then we are off - back Friday.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Weekly Words No.3

I'll be away up at "The Camp" next week for some R&R, so I'm posting next week's Weekly Words today:

Here are a list of new words that we could probably use in this new world

1. Cashtration: The act of buying (or building) a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.

2. Ignoranus: A person who's both stupid and an ass.

3. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize that it was your money to start with.

4. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.

5. Bozone: The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

6. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of having sex.

7. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

8. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.

9. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

10. Hipatitis: Terminal coolness.

11. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease.

12. Karmageddon: It's like when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, and then the Earth explodes and it's a serious bummer.

13. Decafalon: The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.

14. Glibido: All talk and no action.

15. Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

16. Arachnoleptic Fit: The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.

17. Beelzebug: Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

18. Caterpallor: The color you turn after finding half of a worm in the fruit you're eating

Game Over ....

Some examples of  how different sports sometimes farewell their own:

Boxers get a ''10-bell salute'', I am told.

In motor racing, the front row of the grid at the next event is left vacant.

Champion racehorses are often buried standing up, following Native American folklore, which states: ''A good horse will be waiting for you in the dawn to carry you to heaven.'' Many such horses are buried facing east.

In polo, at the next significant game, both teams ride to the centre as for a normal start, but when the umpire throws the ball in, neither side strikes at it for a minute.

The Dragon Boat community, and particularly the Dragons Abreast Clubs for breast cancer patients, commonly do a ceremony called ''flowers on the water'' for their members who have succumbed to the illness, gathering the boats and scattering flower petals on the water for their lost friends.

This very week, they had a funeral right in the middle of Bill Smyth Oval, Narooma, (NSW Far South Coast) for local identity and ardent socialist Geoff Collins. A Sydney Swans tragic and the Narooma Lions Australian Football League's biggest supporter, even though he had not been a great player himself. Team songs were song as well as "The Red Flag", and to conclude the service the hearse did something that Geoff had never done - a victory lap of the oval - to the warm applause of all.

At the next event after the death of the Moto GP rider Marco Simoncelli three weeks ago, instead of engaging in a ''minute of silence'', they engaged in a minute of raucous noise in celebration of his life.

The parents of Nicole Hannan - the Qantas captain and world champion skydiver who was killed recently after a training jump at Perris in California - report that, as is their custom worldwide, her fellow skydivers performed a formation jump at her NSW base in Picton, and left a space for Nicole.

In surf lifesaving, they often spread the ashes of deceased members beyond the breakers from a surf boat while raising the oars vertically.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Our own mortality ...

often takes us unawares.

8am Tuesday morning (now 9.30am), phone call from B.i.L. - his wife had passed away the previous day in hospital. Cancer!

We knew she had had two bouts of surgery in the past but this came relatively unexpectedly. No-one realised she was as bad as she was, so, his family had not communicated her latest bout of illness until death stared them down!

R.I.P. Leonie!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Weekly Words No.2

Well, a whole list of words this week.

Old words with new meanings...

1. Coffee: (n.) the person upon whom one coughs.

2. Flabbergasted: (adj.) appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained.

3. Abdicate: (v.) to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

4. Esplanade: (v.) to attempt an explanation while drunk.

5. Willy-Nilly: (adj.) impotent.

6. Negligent: (adj.) absentmindedly answering the door when wearing only a nightgown.

7. Lymph: (v.) to walk with a lisp.

8. Gargoyle: (n.) olive-flavored mouthwash.

9. Flatulance: (n.) emergency vehicle that picks up someone who has been run over by a steamroller.

10. Balderdash: (n.) a rapidly receding hairline.

11. Testicle: (n.) a humorous question on an exam.

12. Rectitude: (n.) the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.

13. Pokemon: (n.) a Rastafarian proctologist.

14. Oyster: (n.) a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.

15. Frisbeetarianism: (n.) the belief that, after death, the soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.

16. Circumvent: (n.) an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Kerbside Sunday - a roadside sideshow!

Every couple of years our council has a 'Kerbside Sunday' pick up of (selective) items households want to divest themselves of.  Its usually quite fun, 'cos many put there junk out early in the week and the 'cruisers' start coming round, picking over your junk (which is their treasure!)

This year its no different. Ours didn't even make the kerbside. We had a a propane gas BBQ - a huge thing on wheels  - which was fine when we had kids and were entertaining, etc but it just outgrew our needs. A little WeberQ pro bench top is on the Christmas list!

Anyway, our neighbours saw us taking it out and stopped us - theirs was in worse condition than ours, so they took ours and put their own one out. LOL! Same thing happened to a huge 70" screen TV we were storing for our daughter - she didn't want it, it needs a 'set-top box' to pick up digital TV signals and had no cords or remotes. No worries, our neighbour's friend had a set top box and heaps of cords and a universal remote - you know, one remote that runs everything from your TV, DVD player, sound system and right down to your coffee maker and donut warmer! LOL - so another piece failed to make the grade.

Rhonda had a red painted clay pot that nothing would grow in - everything we put in it died, I reckon the clay was contaminated - so it didn't even reach the kerb!  A vehicle pulled up and this lady got out and just walked over and took it out of Rhonda's hands. We tried to tell her but she said she was going to use it for decorative storage, so we let her take it!

This morning, I look outside at my neighbours pile of 'junk' and what had been a neatly stacked huge pile is greatly reduced in size and spread along the grass verge - he's out their now, re-stacking it all.

I saw one car stop and ADD to the pile. I made a comment to my neighbour and he reckons that sometimes people stop and because they know they are being watched they feel they have to take 'something', even if they don't really want it. Often they drive around the corner and divest themselves of it on someone else's verge.

Oh well, still six days to go before collection time, so let's see what happens during the week!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Facebook - again .....

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

For the first time, Facebook has revealed details about how it tracks users across the web.

Through interviews with Facebook engineering director Arturo Bejar, Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes, Facebook corporate spokesman Barry Schnitt and Facebook engineering manager Gregg Stefancik, USA Today‘s Byron Acohido was able to compile the most complete picture to date of how the social network keeps tabs on its 800 million users.

Here is what Acohido learnt:

•Facebook does not track everybody the same way. It uses different methods for members who have signed in and are using their accounts, members who are logged-off and non-members.

•The first time you arrive at any page, the company inserts cookies in your browser. If you sign up for an account, it inserts two types of cookies. If you don't set up an account, it inserts only one of the two types.

•These cookies record every time you visit another website that uses a Facebook Like button or other Facebook plugin - which work together with the cookies to note the time, date and website being visited. Unique characteristics that identify your computer are also recorded.

•Facebook keeps logs that record your past 90 days of activity. It deletes entries older than 90 days.

•If you are logged into a Facebook account, your name, email address, friends and all of the other data in your Facebook profile is also recorded.

Data about web searches and browsing habits could be used to figure out political affiliations, religious beliefs, sexual orientations or health issues about consumers.

According to USA Today, this type of correlation does not seem to be happening on a wide scale, but the concern of some privacy advocates is that selling data could become a tempting business proposition - both to social networks such as Facebook and online advertising players such as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo that similarly employ cookie tracking techniques.

Facebook told USA Today that it uses data collected via cookies to help improve security and its plugins and that it had no plans to change how it uses this data. It has, however, applied for a patent on a technology that includes a method that correlates ads and tracking data.

"We patent lots of things, and future products should not be inferred from our patent application," Facebook corporate spokesman Barry Schnitt told USA Today.

Regardless of how Facebook is handling the data it collects through cookies, by doing so it has entered a very sticky debate about whether consumers should be able to opt out of being tracked by such methods. A proposed US law that would create this option was introduced in February.

While a recent poll found that about 70 per cent of Facebook users and 52 per cent of Google users were either somewhat or very concerned about their privacy, some argue that online commerce would suffer without online tracking.

Read more:

Weekly Words No.1

I thought I'd start a regular feature - the "Weekly Words" - where each week I discover interesting words and their meanings.

This weeks "Weekly Words" are: anoesis; ninnyhammer; noesis; and, slumgullion.

anoesis [an-oh-ee-sis] - noun
It means, 'a state of mind consisting of pure sensation or emotion without cognitive content'.

Of course, the opposite to Anoesis is Noesis [n•o•e•sis] - noun
1. (in Greek philosophy) the exercise of reason.
2. (In Psychology) cognition; the functioning of the intellect.

Anoesis is always a great word to know. So is ninnyhammer. Does  ninnyhammer  mean:
1. a children's mummer's parade, as in an Easter Bonnet parade, with prizes for the best hat? or,
2. a fool or simpleton; ninny?
If you knew ninnyhammer was 'a fool or simpleton; a 'ninny', then you are a very word-wise person!

Which brings us to slumgullion. Does slumgullion mean:
1. the offspring of a zebra and a donkey? or,
2. a stew of meat, vegetables, potatoes, etc?
Of course, a Zedonk is the offspring of a Zebra and a Donkey, so by definition, Slumgullion is 'a stew of meat, vegetables, potatoes, etc'.

Look out for next week's "Weekly Words".

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Workplace Festive "Get-togethers"



Employee Christmas Party MEMO
Subject: Christmas Party
Date: December 1
To:All Employees

I'm happy to inform you that the company Christmas Party will be held on December 23rd at Luigi's Open Pit Barbecue. There will be lots of spiked eggnog and a small band will play traditional carols...feel free to sing-along. And don't be surprised if our CEO shows up dressed as Santa Claus to light the Christmas tree.

Exchanging gifts among employees can be done at this time. Please remember to keep gifts to the agreed $10 limit.

Merry Christmas to you and yours,

Patti Lewis, Human Resources Director


Date: December 2
To: All Employees

In no way was yesterday's memo intended to exclude our Jewish employees. We recognize that Hanukkah is an important holiday and often coincides with Christmas (although not this year). However, from now on we're calling this party our Holiday Party. The same policy also applies to employees who are celebrating Kwanzaa at this time. There will be no tree or Christmas carols sung.

Happy holidays to you and yours.

Patti Lewis, Human Resources Director


Date: December 3
To: All Employees

Regarding the anonymous note I received from a member of Alcoholics Anonymous requesting a non-drinking table, I'm happy to accommodate your request but please remember that if I put a sign on the table that reads "AA Only" you won't be anonymous any more.

In addition, we'll no longer be having a gift exchange because union members feel that $10 is too much money.

Patti Lewis, Human Resources Director


Date: December 7
To: All Employees

I have arranged for members of Overeaters Anonymous to sit farthest away from the dessert table and for pregnant members to sit closest to the restrooms. Gays are allowed to sit with each other. Lesbians do not have to sit with gays; each group will have its own table. And, yes, there will be a flower arrangement for the gay men's table.

Happy now?

Patti Lewis, Human Resources Director


Date: December 9
To: All Employees

People! People! Nothing sinister was intended by wanting our CEO to play Santa Claus. Even if the anagram for "Santa" does happen to be "Satan." There is no evil connation to our own little "man in a red suit."

Patti Lewis, Human Resources Director


Date: December 10
To: All Employees

Vegetarians! I've had it with you people. We're holding this party at Luigi's Open Pit Barbecue whether you like it or not. You can just sit at the table farthest from the "Grill of Death" as you call it, and you'll get salad bar only including hydroponics tomatoes. Tomatoes have feelings too, you know. They scream when you slice them. I can hear them now. I hope you have a rotten holiday. Drive drunk and die, you hear me?

The Bitch from Hell


Date: December 14
To: All Employees

I'm sure I speak for all of us in wishing Patty Lewis a speedy recovery from her stress-related illness. I'll continue to forward your cards to her at the sanitarium. In the meantime management has decided to cancel the Holiday Party and give everyone the afternoon of the 23rd off with full pay.

Terri Bishop, Acting Human Resources Director


Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith meets the Queen

One of Australia's most decorated soldiers has met the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

Sheesh!  he's a big number - real 'tall timber'!


President Barack Obama (POTUS) arrived in town yesterday with his entourage of 200+ Secret Service Officers, 50 personal staff and over 100 members of the media. He came without First Lady, Michelle, (FLOTUS) on what can best be described as a 'flying visit' on the 60th Anniversary of the ANZUS Treaty.

(For those who do not know, Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America - ANZUS - signed a treaty back in 1951 which, essentially says, if one is attacked the other two will come to their aid!)

Barack Obama had them rolling in the aisles as he gave some Aussie slang a burl at a state dinner held in his honour last night. Mr Obama told diners that he had a "real chin-wag" with Prime Minister Julia Gillard, and that it wasn't just "a lot of ear-bashing". He liked the Aussie term 'ear bashing' - essentially meaning someone who talks incessantly at you without letting you get a word in sideways - and he'll put it to good use when he returns home to the United States
If you missed the president's speech, no worries, she'll be right, you can watch it here: Obama in Australia

China and Indonesia have questioned the wisdom of Australia hosting US Marines in the Northern Territory, with claims the move risks creating a "circle of tension and mistrust". Up to 2,500 US Marines will be stationed in Darwin by 2017 under a new agreement announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and US president Barack Obama in Canberra yesterday. Initially the deal will see just 250 US Marines based in Darwin on six-month rotations, but the overall numbers will be built up over time.

The marines will be stationed on an Australian military base and will not create a US base on Australian soil. Essentially they will come on 'rotation' and make use of Australia's tropical regions for extended training and army games against Australian troops. A squadron of Australia's elite SAS will also be sent to the Northern Territory to participate in the joint military training operations.

Word is that the marines will be tasked to locate and capture the SAS patrols in the Australian outback - Good luck to the marines.
Marines with Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, join the massive clean-up of remote Oshima island in Japan, April 4.//31st MEU photo

Barack Obama also stated that the Marines would be ready for humanitarian aid deployment, as they were in Japan after the Tsunami struck causing national devastation.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gounyan Creek, Murrumbateman - an updated post

Gounyan Creek Murrumbateman post has been updated to include more local information about George and Mary "Granny" Davis - pioneer settlers of the Yass region.

From the  Davis Family History (for which I am grateful to Sandra Stanley of (edit - related to the Davis Family through the marriages of 2 Emerys to 2 Davis' at Cootamundra. They were born at Yass and were direct descendants of 'Granny Davis'.) we find this account of the origins of the Davis family, who still survive this day in the Yass region and the writer is known to quite a few of the Davis family members - some whom I like, other whom I do not bother with.

One must also appreciate that the records of the early days of settlement were poorly kept and often mis-recorded, so one must draw their own conclusions from such records on the evidence before them:

Research by the Davis Family revealed ‘Granny’ Davis was born Mary Ann Blutt, at Blandford Forum, in Dorsetshire, England, on 22 July 1776. Her parents were John and Elizabeth Blutt. Back in England, she was married to a man with the surname, Lawrence; given name unknown.

One story had it that, widowed, Mary A. Lawrence was convicted of stealing a valuable watch, and was transported to Australia in 1803, at the age of 27 years. A second account stated the widowed Mary A. Lawrence was transported to Australia aboard the ‘S.S. Broxbornbury’, in 1814, but, whatever the year, she was, nonetheless, a convict.

Mary A. Lawrence and George Davis, possibly another one-time convict, were married in St Phillip’s Church of England, Sydney, in 1818. Volume Reference was V18182987/1818.

Having proven her innocence (edit - unconfirmed statement, other sources suggest that Macquarie wanted the Davis' out of Sydney) of the alleged crime, Governor Macquarie granted Mary A. Davis 60 acres of land at Gounyan (or Goonyan), near Murrumbatemen, north-west of Yass, in 1821. A further report told she was granted only 20 acres of land. (edit - Nevertheless the Davis' managed to turn the smallish grant into 2,000 prime acres of well-watered pasture.)

In c1827, the Davis Family travelled from Sydney to the Gounyan property, where Mary A.L. Davis was the first white woman to settle in Yass Valley, and to whom was born the first white child, in 1829. The Davis's brought with them some convicts - the last of the transportation fleets - who were given their 'relative freedom' to work as indentured workers assigned to Mary and George Davis. They were not 'Free Men'.

The Davis Family built the licensed inn, ‘The Sawyer’s Arms’, at Gounyan, in c1833. Apparently, they brewed their own beer and Mary A.L. Davis was known to brew ‘… a pretty good drop … and was a shrewd businesswoman’. Also, when her assigned workers were slack in their work she had them flogged by a friend, ‘Johnny’, in Queanbeyan. Members of the bell family, a local indigenous family, are very bitter towards the Davis clan(even to this day) and they claim she used arsenic-laced bread to poison local Kurris whom she believed were stealing her merino (?) sheep!

George and Mary A.L. Davis also built a homestead, at the cost of 40 Pounds [Sterling] and, later, were highly successful graziers, with landholdings covering thousands of acres in the district of Murrumbateman. A further estimate, was 2,000 acres which was simply their’s for the taking. (edit - as was the practice of "squatting" of the day, to which the government largely turned a blind eye. If a land owner with an established property cleared and fenced off unclaimed government land, placed livestock on it and managed it for a year, then they could claim 'ownership of it - a process usually verified by a local magistrate or military commander.)

One story told of Mary A.L. Davis taking wool by bullock dray from Gounyan to Sydney. On one such trip, she sold the wool for around 700 Pounds [Sterling], which she carried with her on the return trip to Gounyan. On the way, she was bailed up by bushrangers, whom she frightened off with an old blunderbuss, a short, large-bore, gun which widens at the muzzle. (edit - One of the bush rangers is suggested as being 'Johnny Gilbert' - Johnny Gilbert was an Australian bushranger local to the Yass region, of mixed race and [probably] frequented the Sawyer's Arms' where he would have gained knowledge of local movements and intents. Gilbert was eventually shot dead by the police at the age of 23 near Binalong, New South Wales on 13 May 1865. John Gilbert was the only Australian bushranger never to go to prison.)

George Davis (Snr), a Yeoman (freeholder/small landowner), died on 15 December 1867, at the age of 89 years. His death was registered at Yass; the given names of his parents were absent. He was buried in the Gounyan Private Cemetery, close by the homestead.

Mary A.L. Davis, by then known to all as ‘Granny Davis’, was about 91 years of age at the time of her husband’s death but, nonetheless, still quite capable of running the farm. Every week, she would drive her horse-and-cart, laden with crops and dairy products, from Gounyan to Yass.

After barely a day’s illness throughout her life, ‘Granny Davis’ was confined to bed where, still one tough lady and as shrewd as ever, she died on 29 August 1889, at the age of …113 years! Her death was registered at Yass and, beside her name, were the given names of her parents, ‘John’ and ‘Elizabeth’.

Mary A.L. ‘Granny’ Davis was buried in the Gounyan Private Cemetery, close by the homestead.

And, so began the tradition whereby the eldest son of the Davis Family was always known by the given name, ‘George’.

There were 5 known children to the marriage:

a) GEORGE DAVIS was born probably somewhere in Sydney in c1814; his birth was not registered until 1817. He was a farmer on the Gounyan property, where he died on 16 November 1895, at the age of 81 years, and was buried in the nearby Gounyan Private Cemetery.

b) HANNAH DAVIS was born possibly at Parramatta, in c1815; registration of birth unavailable. At Gounyan, on 27 June 1831, Hannah Davis married Thomas Jones, who died in 1844. Widowed, she possibly married George Henry Wright; date and place unknown. She died at Barney’s Flat, near Yass, on 17 July 1880, at the age of 65 years, and was buried, possibly under the surname, ‘Davis’, in the Gounyan Private Cemetery.

c) JAMES DAVIS was born possibly in Sydney, where his birth was registered in 1819. He was later an innkeeper and/or farmer at Mundoonan, near Gounyan, where he died in 1890, at the age of 71 years. He was buried in the Gounyan Private Cemetery.

d) WILLIAM DAVIS was born in Sydney in c1825; his birth was registered in 1826. His death on 7 May 1903 was registered at Yass; he was buried in the Gounyan Private Cemetery.

e) THOMAS DAVIS was born possibly at Gounyan; his birth was registered at Yass in 1829. He was the first white child born in the Yass Valley. He died in 1871, at the age of about 47 years; his death was also registered at Yass. He was possibly buried in the Gounyan Private Cemetery; unconfirmed.

There was also a MARY A. DAVIS, who was born to a George and Mary A. Davis in 1857; her birth was registered at Yass. Full date unavailable. Her death was registered at Yass in 1889; full date also unavailable. This one is highly doubtful because, by my calculations, ‘Granny Davis’ would have been about 81 when the baby was born.

Couldn’t find a marriage for a George Davis (Jnr) and Mary A. 

Plain packaging tobacco products

Drastic plans by Australia to become the first country to enforce plain packaging for cigarettes could cut smoking rates, and are likely to be emulated by Canada, New Zealand, and Britain, reinforcing Australia's record as a world leader in anti smoking measures.

In November 2011, the Australian Government passed a bill to make plain packaging law in 2012.

The Australian government has announced draft legislation to outlaw all logos, colors, brand imagery, and promotional text from cigarette packets. Professor of public health at Curtin University’s Institute of Public Policy in Perth, John Daube, said the move will “take away the tobacco industry’s final capacity to promote its product.”

Australia has long been at the forefront of the war on tobacco. More than 20 years ago, it was one of the first countries to ban tobacco advertising, and in some states smoking has been illegal in indoor public places and public transport since 1999. For the past seven years, cigarettes have been banned from most of the popular beaches, including Sydney's iconic crowd-drawing Bondi and Manly Beaches, and now a ban on smoking in apartment buildings is being considered. Cigarette packs already feature graphic health warnings and images of diseases and smoking within 10 metres of an entrance to a public building is banned in the Australian Capital Territory.

The NSW and the ACT health Departments have declared smoking prohibited within the precincts of all its campuses and service locations.
In a recent press release the British Tobacco Company stated:

“We are strongly opposed to plain packaging of our products. There is no proof to suggest that the plain packaging of tobacco products will be effective in discouraging young people to smoke, encouraging existing smokers to quit, or increasing the effectiveness of health warnings.”

ASH – “Action on Smoking and Health” says:

“The packaging of tobacco is a major part of its advertising - as the tobacco industry admits in its own documents. That's why ASH and many other organisations support mandated plain standardised packaging of tobacco products - and why the industry is fighting it.”

The Lancet medical journal, August 2011 stated:

“The sovereignty of countries should be absolute and not influenced by multinational companies with complex accountability. This laudable move towards plain packaging must not be derailed by veiled tactics from companies with vested interests. Only then can progress be made to tackle tobacco-associated diseases, which are largely preventable, but mostly lethal.”

New Zealand is set to follow Australia’s example but reports:
The biggest tobacco supplier in New Zealand is vowing to fight the Government if they introduce controversial plain cigarette packages. 3 News has obtained documents revealing the dull-green packs may be introduced here next year, and already the battle lines are being drawn. The Australian government has this week become the first country in the world to pass a law introducing the dull-green packs but they are being sued. And New Zealand’s biggest supplier says it will take every action necessary to stop the move here.
In all probability the 'Plain packaging' law will have minimal effect on existing, committed smokers. Its real aim is to cut off the tobacco industry from wooing new and younger persons into the smoking habit and the 'health aims' of the new law will be long term directed.

Bad day at Murrumbateman

Murrumbateman is  the capital of the Canberra district cool-climate wine region and is located on the Yass Plains, 20 km from Yass. Nowadays, this small, former goldmining town is at the centre of a thriving wine industry – around 49 wineries operate in the region, many with cellar doors and excellent restaurants.

Set among the rolling hills of the Yass Valley are those vineyards. While some just grow grapes to sell to the local vinters, others are into more 'large scale' production. This area is usually picturesque and pleasant but it also has its 'nasty side', weather-wise!

'Small lot' grape production

Yarrh vineyards large scale production

Some wineries are small and quaint whilst others are extremely modern, however, they do produce world class wines.

Ken Helm's 'Old Schoolhouse' winery

Yarrh vineyard and winery's modern premises

It is also home to many 'hobby farmers' who commute to work - mostly public servants to the capital city of Canberra in the adjacent Australian Capital Territory - who live side-by-side with sheep graziers who produce some of the world's finest merino wool.

Normally it is an idyllic place to live with moderate to good rainfall, mostly clear blue skies in summer and winter and temperatures ranging from a usual 'crisp' -5C in winter to a 'warm' 36C in summer.

This week, for my volunteer driving for HLSS, I was allocated the 'shorter runs' between Yass and Murrumbateman.  They are not really 'shorter' as they involve double tripping on the 'pick-up drive' from Yass to Murrumbateman and back to Yass and then repeat for the 'home' journey - all-in-all around 100 to 110klms, depending on the clients location.

Yesterday was my first job and the weather conditions were far from 'idyllic' - a top of 30C with a hot westerly wind gusting from 25 to 60kph which increased 'skin temperature' to 'searing and baking dry'! I had to go to one of the small lot farms and pick up an elderly lady who was totally deaf and bring her in to see a Nurse Specialist at a local medical centre. Whilst she was a pleasant lady she communicated at the full yell and to complicate things she had a cleft palate.

It took me a while to locate her address as she had built her home on a corner of her daughter's property and even my Sat-Nav had problems locating it. Due to roadworks on the highway between Yass and Murrumbateman and my difficulty in locating her house, I was running late by the time I arrived - leaving her slightly agitated. Never mind, off we set for Yass.

About 3klms down the highway and 1klm on the Yass side of Murrumbateman the car got a punctured rear tyre on the drivers side. 'Flat as a tack'! To complicate things, firstly, I had left my mobile (cell) phone at home on overnight charging, so I was phoneless as was my passenger - why would a totally deaf lady want a mobile phone, arghhhh! - and, secondly,  the spare was in the boot-well under the floor and someone had left a collapsible wheel chair in the boot!

So! Here I was, struggling with excess equipment (getting the wheelchair out) winds hitting 60kph and trying to slam the boot lid down on me, bumping me on the head and shoulders as I was struggling to get to the spare wheel.

OK!  Did so! Found the tools, loosened off the wheel nuts and got the jack under the rear of the car - by now my arms were gravel rashed from the road surface and all the bumping and struggling with the loads had left me covered with bruises - and there is no lever to get the jack to wind up and lift the vehicle! Grrrrrr!

The heat of the day, exacerbated by the hot drying winds, struggling with all this gear on the side of the highway as traffic flew past at 100kph a mere few feet from me was nerve wracking to say the least (a right hand drive vehicle and traffic keeps to the left in Australia).

Then HELP arrived. A passing Road Service vehicle had seen our dilemma  (I guess the wheeel chair helped them decide to stop and turn and come back) and asked if I needed help!


An NRMA Road Service vehicle

The two workers in the NRMA vehicle got to work, one on the wheel while the other positioned a kerbside jack and within minutes they had it changed and had us out of trouble. Our HLSS was a member of the NRMA Road Services, however, some thoughtless person had removed the membership card from the glove box. I gave the guys from the NRMA our office number and they dealt with them while we headed off to keep our appointment.

We managed to get to the clinic just before their lunch break and the Clinical Nurse agreed to see my client and attend to her while I ducked off to freshen up and cool down.

The drive home was without incident but a normal hour and a half job had run to three hours.

Today is a 'rest day' for myself but after I post this 'blog' I'm going to write to the Yass Tribune and thank those two NRMA workers who helped us out of a tight spot.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Understanding the European Union

A small town in Spain twins with a small town in Greece.

One summer the Greek mayor visits the Spanish mayor where he sees the palatial hacienda of the Spanish mayor. He wonders how he could afford it?

The Spaniard says: "See that bridge over there? The EU gave us a grant to build a four-lane bridge. By building a single lane bridge with a traffic light at either end this fabulous home could be built."

The following summer the Spaniard visits the Greek town and is amazed at the mayor's house, with its white-washed three story exterior overlooking the Aegean Sea, gold taps and marble floors.When he asks how he can afford it the Greek says: "See that bridge over there?"

The Spaniard says: "No."

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Victoria Cross For Australia

There is some need to clarify the differences between the Australian military awards of the Victoria Cross and the Victoria Cross for Australia.

Victoria Cross

Next (higher): None
Equivalent: George Cross (for civil gallantry or military actions not in the face of the enemy)
Next (lower): Distinguished Service Order, Conspicuous Gallantry Cross, George Medal

The Victoria Cross was the highest militraty award that can be bestowed on an Australian serviceman.
The Victoria Cross for Australia is now Australia’s highest military honour. It is only awarded to those who display the most conspicuous gallantry and daring in the face of the enemy.
The  award of the Victoria Cross for Australia was instituted in 1991.

Victoria Cross for Australia

Equivalent: Cross of Valour
Next (lower): Star of Gallantry

The Victoria Cross for Australia is the highest award in the Australian Honours System, superseding the Victoria Cross for issue to Australians. The Victoria Cross for Australia is the "decoration for according recognition to persons who in the presence of the enemy, perform acts of the most conspicuous gallantry, or daring or pre-eminent acts of valour or self-sacrifice or display extreme devotion to duty."

The Victoria Cross for Australia was created by letters patent signed by Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, on 15 January 1991. As the highest Australian award, it is listed first on the Australian Order of Wear with precedence in Australia over all orders, decorations and medals. The decoration may be awarded to members of the Australian Defence Force and to other persons determined by the Australian Minister for Defence. A person to whom the Victoria Cross for Australia has been awarded is entitled to the post nominals VC placed after the person’s name

Trooper Mark Donaldson was the first Australian serviceman to receive the award for displaying conspicuous gallantry in Afghanistan, following his heroic actions when his patrol was ambushed in the Oruzgan Province, on 2 September, 2008. Trooper Donaldson is a member of Australia's Special Air Service Regiment. Trooper Donaldson was also promoted to Corporal and named "Australian of the Year" in 2010.

.... On 2 September 2008, during the conduct of a fighting patrol, Corporal (then Trooper) Donaldson was travelling in a combined Afghan, US and Australian vehicle convoy that was engaged by a numerically superior, entrenched and coordinated enemy ambush. The ambush was initiated by a high volume of sustained machine gun fire coupled with the effective use of rocket propelled grenades. Such was the effect of the initiation that the combined patrol suffered numerous casualties, completely lost the initiative and became immediately suppressed. It was over two hours before the convoy was able to establish a clean break and move to an area free of enemy fire.

In the early stages of the ambush, Corporal Donaldson reacted spontaneously to regain the initiative. He moved rapidly between alternate positions of cover engaging the enemy with 66mm and 84mm anti-armour weapons as well as his M4 rifle. During an early stage of the enemy ambush, he deliberately exposed himself to enemy fire in order to draw attention to himself and thus away from wounded soldiers. This selfless act alone bought enough time for those wounded to be moved to relative safety.

As the enemy had employed the tactic of a rolling ambush, the patrol was forced to conduct numerous vehicle manoeuvres, under intense enemy fire, over a distance of approximately four kilometres to extract the convoy from the engagement area. Compounding the extraction was the fact that casualties had consumed all available space within the vehicles. Those who had not been wounded, including Corporal Donaldson, were left with no option but to run beside the vehicles throughout. During the conduct of this vehicle manoeuvre to extract the convoy from the engagement area, a severely wounded coalition force interpreter was inadvertently left behind. Of his own volition and displaying complete disregard for his own safety, Corporal Donaldson moved alone, on foot, across approximately 80 metres of exposed ground to recover the wounded interpreter. His movement, once identified by the enemy, drew intense and accurate machine gun fire from entrenched positions. Upon reaching the wounded coalition force interpreter, Corporal Donaldson picked him up and carried him back to the relative safety of the vehicles then provided immediate first aid before returning to the fight.

On subsequent occasions during the battle, Corporal Donaldson administered medical care to other wounded soldiers, whilst continually engaging the enemy. ....

Corporal Roberts-Smith of the Special Air Service Regiment was awarded the second Victoria Cross for Australia for his most conspicuous gallantry in action in circumstances of extreme peril as Patrol Second-in-Command, Special Operations Task Group on Operation SLIPPER. Corporal Roberts-Smith becomes the 98th Australian recipient of the Victoria Cross award and the second recipient of the Victoria Cross for Australia since it was instituted in 1991.

.... the troop was engaged by machine gun and rocket propelled grenade fire from multiple, dominating positions. Two soldiers were wounded in action and the troop was pinned down by fires from three machine guns in an elevated fortified position to the south of the village. Under the cover of close air support, suppressive small arms and machine gun fire, Corporal Roberts Smith and his patrol manoeuvred to within 70 metres of the enemy position in order to neutralise the enemy machine gun positions and regain the initiative. .... Corporal Roberts Smith identified an insurgent grenadier in the throes of engaging his patrol. Corporal Roberts Smith instinctively engaged the insurgent at point-blank range resulting in the death of the insurgent. With the members of his patrol still pinned down by the three enemy machine gun positions, he exposed his own position in order to draw fire away from his patrol, which enabled them to bring fire to bear against the enemy. His actions enabled his Patrol Commander to throw a grenade and silence one of the machine guns. Seizing the advantage, and demonstrating extreme devotion to duty and the most conspicuous gallantry, Corporal Roberts Smith, with a total disregard for his own safety, stormed the enemy position killing the two remaining machine gunners. ....  On seizing the fortified gun position, Corporal Roberts Smith then took the initiative again and continued to assault enemy positions in depth during which he and another patrol member engaged and killed further enemy. His acts of selfless valour directly enabled his troop to go on and clear the village of Tizak of Taliban. This decisive engagement subsequently caused the remainder of the Taliban in Shah Wali Kot District to retreat from the area. ....
Prior to Trooper Donaldson's award, the sole surviving Australian Victoria Cross recipient was Keith Payne.
Keith Payne with Mark Donaldson during Mark Donaldson's investiture at Government House, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Keith Payne VC, OAM was an Australian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest decoration for gallantry "in the face of the enemy" awarded to members of the British and Commonwealth armed forces, during the Vietnam War. On 24 February 1969 he was a member of the Australian Army Training Team in Vietnam (AATV). He was presented with his Victoria Cross by the Queen, Queen Elizabeth II, aboard Britannia, at Brisbane, on 13 April 1970. The United States recommended the award of the Silver Star later updated to Distinguished Service Cross while the Republic of Vietnam honoured him with its Cross of Gallantry With Bronze Star.

He is the longest surviving recipient of that award and he was also awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his service to the veteran community in 2006.

On 24 May Warrant Officer Keith Payne was commanding the 212th Company of the 1st Mobile Strike Force Battalion when the battalion was attacked by a numerically superior North Vietnamese force. The two forward companies were heavily attacked with rockets, mortars and machine-guns from three directions simultaneously. The indigenous soldiers faltered so Payne rushed about firing his Armalite rifle and hurling grenades to keep the enemy at bay while he tried to rally the soldiers. In doing so he was wounded in the hands, upper arm and hip by four pieces of rocket shrapnel and one piece of mortar shrapnel.

The battalion commander decided to fight his way back to base and this movement commenced by the only available route. With a few remnants of his company, which had suffered heavy casualties, Payne covered the withdrawal with grenades and gunfire and then attempted to round up more of his company. By nightfall he had succeeded in gathering a composite party of his own and another company and had established a small defensive perimeter. about 350 metres north-east of the hill. the enemy by now had captured the former hill-top position.

In darkness Payne set off to locate those who had been cut off and disoriented. At 9 p.m. (2100hrs) he crawled over to one displaced group, having tracked them by the fluorescence of their footsteps in rotting vegetable matter on the ground, and thus began a 800 metre traverse of the area for the next three hours. The enemy were moving about and firing, but Payne was able to locate some forty men, some wounded, some of whom Payne personally dragged out. He organized others who were not wounded to crawl out on their stomachs with wounded on their backs.

Once he concentrated his party he navigated them back to the temporary perimeter only to find the position abandoned by troops who had moved back to the battalion base. Undeterred he led his party, as well as another group of wounded encountered enroute, back to the battalion base where they arrived at about 3 a.m.(0300hrs).

In total, 98 Australian service personnel have been recipients of the Victoria Cross

Remembrance Day Australia 2011

Australian servicemen remain engaged on active service in Afghanistan 

The names of eight Australian soldiers who died in Afghanistan in the past year have been added to the Australian War Memorial's Roll of Honour, as thousands gathered in Canberra to honour the nation's service men and women.

The names were added today to coincide with Remembrance Day ceremonies that mark 93 years since the Armistice which ended World War I.

More than 102,000 Australians have been killed while serving overseas in the past century, and their names are listed on the honour roll.

The eight names added are:
Private Matthew Lambert,
Sergeant Brett Wood,
Sergeant Todd Langley,
Corporal Richard Atkinson,
Sapper Jamie Larcombe,
Lance Corporal Andrew Jones,
Lieutenant Marcus Case and
Sapper Rowan Robinson.
It was too late to add the names of three soldiers killed last month in Afghanistan.

Photo: Two-year-old Ziggy Till, whose father, Sergeant Brett Till, was killed in Afghanistan in 2009, wears his father's medals at the Remembrance Day service in Canberra (ABC News: Penny McLintock)

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Australia has been a key participant in recent wars and has paid a heavy price.
Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon. Ms Julia Gillard

"We are a good nation in an imperfect world. A people of peace so often called to war. Fighting other nations, but really fighting deeper foes: tyranny, injustice, persecution and greed. Never for national gain. Never for purposes other than what we judged to be right."
Victoria Cross for Australia recipient Corporal Mark Donaldson said it was a moving ceremony, particularly in light of the recent deaths in Afghanistan.

Trooper Mark Donaldson in 2009
"It reminds us all that that's why we have Remembrance Day, so we don't forget. If we don't keep remembering, if we don't keep the candle alight, then who will? It's good to know that we still have days like this, to take that moment out of our day when we're not thinking about ourselves, our business and making money, just to take a pause and a moment and remember those who went before us so we could have the future and the life that we do have today."

Monday, November 7, 2011

Lae explodes into violence

By PNG correspondent Liam Fox
Updated November 07, 2011 07:28:25

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Papua New Guinea At least two people are dead after violent rioting over the past few days which has crippled Papua New Guinea's main industrial centre of Lae on the country's north coast.

The government is warning it may have to declare a state of emergency.

Ironically the rioting was sparked by youths concerned at the city's growing lawlessness.

OK Dr Wendy - 'fess up!  What was your real reason for skipping out on Lae?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Active lives ...

When my doctor asked me if I led an active life, I told him about my day:

“Well, Yesterday afternoon I waded across the edge of a deep lake, barely escaped from a wild pig in the heavy brush, marched along a treacherous trail up and down a mountain, stood in a patch of poison ivy, crawled out of quicksand and barely escaped by jumping away from an aggressive brown snake!”

Inspired by my story the doctor said: “You must be an awesome outdoorsman!”

“No,” I replied “I’m just a sh*t golfer!”

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Bubble and squeek

Sharon's post about 'Corned beef hash' prompts me to write of our Australian version of this dish - "Bubble and Squeek!"

File image

Bubble and squeak is a traditional breakfast dish, a housewife's 'money saver',  made with the shallow-fried leftover vegetables from a roast dinner. The main ingredients are potato and cabbage, but carrots, peas, brussels sprouts, and other vegetables can be added. The cold chopped vegetables and cold chopped meat are fried in a pan together with mashed potatoes or crushed roast potatoes until the mixture is well-cooked and brown on the sides.

The name comes from the bubble and squeak sounds made as it cooks. The name bubble and squeak is used throughout the United Kingdom, Australia and other Commonwealth countries. It may also be understood in parts of the United States.

Bubble and squeak was a popular dish during World War II, as it was an easy way of using leftovers during a period when most foods were subject to rationing. In more recent times, pre-prepared frozen and tinned versions have become available.

A Welsh version is:

Cabbage, bacon, ham, onion and leftover potatoes. Using leftovers makes this main dish especially quick to make. I recommend using a good nonstick pan. Serve with tomato sauce (ketchup), if desired.

My grandmother used to cook an Irish version known as "Colcannon" and my grandfather and uncles would take it down the mines in their lunch pails for their 'crib meal'.

Colcannon with scallions, butter, salt and pepper added.

It can contain other ingredients such as milk, cream, leeks, onions and chives. It is often eaten with boiled ham or Irish bacon. At one time it was a cheap, year-round staple food, though nowadays it is usually eaten in autumn/winter, when kale comes into season.

Rain! ......

Rain can cause a variety of emotions for many of us. Gentle rain can be sensual and romantic, making us feel calm and peaceful, or it can be terrifying in a storm bringing damage and loss to property and loved ones. Some people love falling asleep to the sound of rain, it can bring a feeling of comfort and the sense of being safe. Others like to walk in the rain, allowing them to feel refreshed and alive. For a kid, there’s nothing quite like jumping and splashing in puddles.
I have found that being stuck in a storm has brought me closer to the people I was with.

I love the rain, it seems to change the atmosphere around us, as though something’s “in the air” or something is going to change.

Movie producers often use rain to emphasis a scene for change. That kiss, the fight between good and evil, a death … you might notice it rains a lot during these climactic scenes in films. It’s a minutes worth of peaceful, soulful rain. It might be something good to watch and listen to when you are stressed or having a long day.

And towards the end of the footage, there looks like an eye carved into a tree, crying. Crying because it’s sad? Maybe it’s happy? Perhaps it’s interpretive?

How does the rain make you feel?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Despicable and horrendous animal cruelty

Last night I was shown several videos that was secretly obtained at a Chinese Animal Fur Farm. These videos were obtained by representatives of the Swiss Animal Protection group working undercover in China.

I am NOT going to embed those videos on my blog. I will give one web address and you may go there and view those practices for yourself if you need to.

They are graphic and horribly cruel. I watched as two men skinned alive a fully grown Alsatian dog for its pelt and then simply discarded the still alive and screaming dog onto the ground.

I don't know what can be done about these inhumane and cruel practices but I would like to see something done to prevent them from occurring

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Eleventh of the Eleventh Eleven

How to Interpret 11/11/11 aka 11-11-11; Friday, November 11, 2011.


The number eleven is the fifth prime number (contrary to popular belief, the number one ( 1 ) is not a prime number). The base numeric number system lends itself to some interesting peculiarities as relates to the number eleven.

Base 10 for example:
(2 digits) 11 x 11 = 121
(6 digits) 111111 x 111111 = 12345654321
(9 digits) 111111111 x 111111111 = 12345678987654321

Base 16 (hexadecimal) for example:
(2 digits) 11 x 11 = 121
(6 digits) 111111 x 111111 = 12345654321
(9 digits) 111111111 x 111111111 = 12345678987654321

The sunspot cycle is approximately eleven years.


Blackjack players love the number eleven. It usually means time to double down, but not always.
  • Dice players love the number eleven. On the come-out roll, it’s as good as the number seven. Do not ask the crap dealers how to bet 11 the hardway.
  • The number eleven is a popular lottery number. This results in the per-person payouts being a little below average when eleven is one of the winning numbers.
  • The number eleven is a popular keno number. One wonders if the casinos and slot machine manufacturers make use of that fact 
Veterans Day (formerly known as Armistice Day) in the US and known as Remembrance Day in Australia

World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” - officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”

It is very likely that Veterans Day will be remembered/observed/celebrated much more than usual on November 11th, 2011.

The Great Blue Norther of 11/11/(19)11

"One-hundred years ago, November 11th, 1911: The Great Blue Norther descended upon America. The day started fine; there were even record highs for that time of year. Then it all changed; temperatures began to drop. Within the space of ten minute: the temperature dropped 40 to 50 degrees; by midnight a 66 degree temperature drop was recorded. There were dust storms, thunderstorms, tornados, and blizzards. Over 300 deaths were reported."

In the interests of full disclosure: reports that sudden 50 degree temperature drops, though unusual, are not that rare. See chart below.

Friday, November 11, 2011: Historical

Even when taking into account the differences between the Gregorian and Julian calendars:

• Nothing significant appears to have happened nine-hundred years ago during the year 1111.

• Nothing significant appears to have happened a thousand years ago during the year 1011.

• Nothing significant appears to have happened two thousand years ago during the year 11.

The Dark Ages spanned the 5th to 15th centuries (approximately 450 -1450).

Friday, November 11, 2011: Singularity Summary
Most predictions and opinions concerning 11/11/11 are based on or rooted in its mathematical uniqueness as a number.
11*11*11: There are three possible scenarios:
1. Something good happens— There is absolutely no scientific basis for this belief. There are no known logical premises for this belief. The belief that something good will happen is based solely on spiritualism, faith, and/or innate optimism. This belief is not necessarily a bad thing; we don’t know everything; the probability is not zero.
2. Nothing happens— This is the most likely scenario. Just because an unusual date number sequence occurs doesn’t mean that something extraordinary will happen. Usually it’s a non-event.
3. Something bad happens— There is absolutely no scientific basis for this belief. There are no known logical premises for this belief. The belief that something bad will happen is based solely on pessimism of reality. This belief is not necessarily false; after all, things are generally/usually a mess. The probability is not zero.
What do you believe will happen on 11/11/11?

• 47% Something good will happen on a global scale.

• 40% Nothing will happen (just another day in the Land of Nod).

• 13% Something bad will happen on a global scale.
For the question, “Do you feel lucky today”, the cumulative results to-date (as of the end of October, year 2011) were as follows:

• 71% felt lucky on the day they filled out the poll.

• 29% said they felt unlucky that particular day.

• 5811 people have voted in this poll to date.

Drama-filled 151st Emirates Melbourne Cup

Dunaden (yellow) beats Red Cadeaux (Red) in a photo finish [Photo: Reuters]

Christophe Lemaire won the Emirates Melbourne Cup on his first ride in Australia but the French jockey had to wait several anxious minutes as the judge examined the photo on the closest finish in the 151-year history of the famous ‘two-miler.’

It was a drama filled race for the connections of Dunaden. The horse was not entered in the Emirates Melbourne Cup until its sensational win in the rough and tumble Geelong Cup. The owner, Sheikh Fahad Al Thani, the young Qatari racing enthusiast behind Qipco's sponsorship of the British Champions Series, then decided to pay the late entry fee and run the horse in the Emirates Airways Melbourne Cup. However, the original jockey, Craig Williams, received a riding suspension penalty for his part in the roughness of the Geelong Cup Race win some days earlier in the carnival. Williams had appealed the stewards suspension to the Victorian Racing Commission Appeals Committee but was unsuccessful. He then took his case to the Victorian Court of Arbitration in Sport and again was unsuccessful.

In the interim, Dunaden's connections flew in their stand-by jockey, Christophe Lemaire, from Japan barely 24hours before the race.

Dunaden pipped the Ed Dunlop-trained Red Cadeaux right on the line to give the French their second successive win in the Cup at Flemington. There was a further gap of a length and a quarter to the Australian trained and German bred horse, Lucas Cranach, in third, with favourite Americain running on stoutly for fourth.

Lemaire had been riding in Japan and was only approached to be on stand-by for the ride six days before the Cup after Craig Williams, the horse’s regular partner, had been suspended for careless riding at the country track Bendigo.

“I’m very sorry for him,” Lemaire said. “He’s a good friend of mine. He must be devastated. Two years ago in France, I had a fall before the Arc weekend, and I missed eight winners, including four Group Ones, so I know disappointment.”

The winner was trained by Frenchman Mikel Delzangles, who last year had masterminded the campaign of Makfi, winner of the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket and the season’s champion three-year-old miler. Earlier in his career, he had been assistant for 10 years to Alain de Royer-Dupre, the trainer of Americain.

“The way races are run in France is similar to Australia,” Delzangles explained. “You need to quicken up in the last furlong. Thanks to Americain last year, we (the French) knew it was possible,” he added.

The winning owner Sheikh Fahad al Thani was landing only his second Group One prize, having come into the sport less than two years ago. The enthusiast, only just turned 23 years, said he had become fascinated by racing when studying at a business college in London. He preferred thoroughbreds to the pure-bred Arabian breed owned by other members of his family in Qatar.

He had become so fascinated by horses and racing, Sheikh Fahad replied: “It’s in our blood. The origins of the horses we see today were in the Middle East.”

Americain was attempting to become only the fifth to win back-to-back Cups, and although he finished strongly, he never looked likely to pick any of the first three. He was beaten by the weight.

Manighar, who finished fifth, fared better of the two Luca Cumani-trained stayers, while Godolphin’s Lost In The Moment ran an extremely good race for sixth after slipping through along the inside in the home straight and then floundering. On the day, all those who figured in the finish were coming up the centre of the track or wider.

Mark Johnston’s Fox Hunt ran on one-paced for seventh, while the heavily-backed Niwot, whose price halved in the two days before the Cup, looked a chance at the top of the straight but trailed in eighth of the 23 runners. Mourayan was withdrawn on the day of the race after being found to be sore.

French kiss: Christophe Lemaire and trainer Mikel Delzangles
celebrate Dunaden's victory [Photo: Reuters]

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

First Tuesday in November ......!

Today is the first Tuesday in November?


Well, in Australia that means its Melbourne Cup Day - the race that stops the nation. Nearly all Australians will stop around 3pm and tune in to the running of the Melbourne Cup, which is now recognised as the World's Premier Staying Race - run over two gruelling miles (3,200 metres to us metricised Australians.

Dunaden has drifted in betting since the appeal against the
original rider's suspension was dismissed.

Engraving of the finish line at the 1881 Cup
The Melbourne Cup is Australia's major Thoroughbred horse race. Billed as The race that stops a nation, it is a 3,200 metre race for three-year-olds and over. It is the richest "two-mile" handicap in the world, and one of the richest turf races. Conducted by the Victoria Racing Club on the Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, the event starts at 3pm on the first Tuesday in November. The race has been held since 1861 (see list of Melbourne Cup winners) and was originally held over two miles (about 3,218 metres) but following preparation for Australia's adoption of the metric system in the 1970s, the current race distance of 3,200 metres was established in 1972. This reduced the distance by 18.688 metres (61.31 ft), and Rain Lover's 1968 race record of 3min.19.1sec was accordingly adjusted to 3min.17.9sec. The present record holder is the 1990 winner Kingston Rule with a time of 3min 16.3sec.
This year there are 11 "Foreign Raiders" as more and more countries send their best Stayers down under for a chance at "The Cup!"

Around Australia $billions will be bet on the race through on-course, off-course betting agencies and even the humble office $1 'Sweep'! Some of the big bets already taken by the bookies are:

Saptapadi $10,000 to win $1 million
Modun $20,000 to $600,000
Moyenne Corniche $20,000 to $500,000
Unusual Suspect $10,000 to $500,000
Mourayan $30,000 to $420,000
At First Sight $30,000 to $390,000
Dunaden $50,000 to $375,000

The best-backed horses
Red Cadeaux backed to win $2m at $41
Mourayan backed to win $1.6m at $16
Unusual Suspect backed to win $1.3m at $51
Modun backed to win $1.3m at $31
Saptapadi backed to win $1.3m at $101
Niwot backed to win $800,000 at $11
At First Sight backed to win $800,000 at $15
Tullamore backed to win $750,000 at $26

The total prize money for the 2011 race is A$6,175,000, plus trophies valued at $125,000. The first 10 past the post receive prizemoney, with the winner being paid $3.3 million, down to tenth place which receives $115,000. Prizemoney is distributed to the connections of each horse in the ratio of 85% to the owner, 10% to the trainer and 5% to the jockey.

The Gold Cup presented to each Cup winner's owner.

Timeline of historical events
1869 – The Victorian Racing Club introduced the four day Spring Racing Carnival format.

1870 – The race was postponed.
1876 – The youngest jockey to win was Peter St. Albans on Briseis aged 13 (officially), but actually 12 years 11 months 23 days
1882 – The first bookmakers were licensed at Flemington.
1888 – The first Gold whip was presented to the winning Cup jockey (Mick O'Brien).
1894 – Strand starts were introduced to Flemington.
1896 – The Melbourne Cup was first filmed. This race was won by Newhaven.
1915 – First woman owner to win was Mrs E.A. Widdis with Patrobas.
1916 – The race was postponed.
1925 – The first radio broadcast of the Melbourne Cup was made by the Australian Broadcasting Company.
1931 – The first year the totalisator operated at the Melbourne Cup. The Totalisator Agency Board was introduced in 1961.
1942–44 – The Melbourne Cup was run on Saturdays during the war years.
1948 – The photo finish camera was first used in Melbourne Cup. Rimfire beat Dark Marne. However, many on-course punters believe the result should have been reversed, and it was later found that the camera was incorrectly aligned.
1958 – The first Cup start from starting stalls.
1962 – "Fashions on the Field" was first held at the Carnival.
1985 – The first sponsored Melbourne Cup, and the first million dollar Cup, with $650,000 for the winner.
1987 – First female jockey to ride in the cup was Maree Lyndon on Argonaut Style.
2001 – Sheila Laxon, was the first woman trainer to officially win the Melbourne Cup. However Mrs. A. McDonald (1938) with Catalogue was really the first woman trainer to win. Women then could not be registered as trainers in Australia, and it was her husband who was the registered trainer. Mrs. A. Macdonald's win was as a female trainer of a female owned horse.
2003 – First Australian female jockey to ride in the cup was Clare Lindop on Debben.
2003 – The first Melbourne Cup Tour was conducted around Australia, and the biggest crowd, of 122,736, is recorded at Flemington.
2005 – Makybe Diva became the only horse so far to win the Melbourne Cup three times.
2008 – The "Cup King", Bart Cummings, took his 12th win in the Melbourne Cup with Viewed on his 50th anniversary of his first Cup runner.
2010 - 150th anniversary. Americain becomes the first French-trained horse to win the race, and Gerald Mosse the first French jockey

This year's 'Field':

1 Americain $2,500
2 Jukebox Jury
3 Dunaden
4 Drunken Sailor
5 Glass Harmonium
6 Manighar
7 Unusual Suspect
8 Fox Hunt
9 Lucas Cranach
10 Mourayan
11 Precedence
12 Red Cadeaux
13 Hawk Island
14 Illo
15 Lost in the Moment
16 Modun
17 At First Sight
18 Moyenne Corniche
19 Saptapadi
20 Shamrocker
21The Verminator
22 Tullamore
23 Niwot
24 Older Than Time
My tips underlined and in bold and I'll be taking a 'Boxed Trifecta' on those six, as my only bet of the year, at the local Totalisator later today!

There will be a post race video of the race posted on Youtube and I'll post that tomorrow!