Monday, October 31, 2011

First Aid

I did my First Aid Practical today and passed with flying colours - 100% - Yayyyyyyy!!! LOL!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Not funny, Bob!

Bob Katter is unique in Australian politics - he's an independent maverick MP, a red-necked Queenslander who's one seat in parliament would be invaluable to Julia Gillard's Labor governement in breaking the stranglehold that the Liberal opposition has on progressing much needed reforms.

With his penchant for wearing a very 'Texan-style' large cowboy hat, we refer to him as the leader of the "One Nation In a Hat Australian Party"! He made these comments about domestic violence in Queensland at a domestic violence rally in Brisbane. He was walking past with two men, including Aidan McLindon, the state leader of Katter's Australian Party when he shared his views on the problem with Diane Mangan, from domestic violence support service called DV Connect.

Bob Katter said:

"A lot of our cases in Queensland are coming from overcrowding you know," he told Diane Mangan who organises the rallies. "Some of the towns in my electorate there's an average of 15 people in each house, and I mean' you just live under those sorts of pressure and this sort of thing will happen."

Australian Broadcasting Commission's presenter from the ABC's  "PM" current Affairs show then asked Mr Katter to explain his comments.

"I mean there's a lot of jokes about, you know, mother-in-laws," he told PM. "Well they're funny, but they're not really funny. I mean there is a mechanism in there. You know, when you've got everybody living on top of each other and getting on each other's nerves, kids get on parent's nerves, parents irritate kids. I mean, you've got to understand when you've got 15 people in a house the result is just dreadful ... and that can be fixed tomorrow."
Women at the rally were understandably upset at his comments and said his lack of awareness was disheartening from a long-serving Member of Parliament.

Domestic violence expert Betty Taylor has written reports for the Government on the issue.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Triplet Tiger cubs make debut

THEY say good things come in threes, and this beautiful Sumatran Tiger cub and its two brothers are living proof. Just eight weeks old and yet to be named, the tiger triplets enjoyed their first day out in the sun at Taronga Zoo today, frolicking in their enclosure while mum Jumilah supervised from a distance. But the rare exercise seemed to tire out the youngsters quickly, who curled up next to mum and fell asleep shortly after playtime.

Taronga Park Zoo's new triplet Sumatran Tiger Cubs have made their much awaited debut in the public viewing enclosure.

Currently named Cub 1, Cub 2 and Cub 3 they will be subject of a national "Naming Competition"

The cubs were bred through a 'selective breeding program' with Jumilah being matched with a mate in a German zoo.

Gallery for more views!

Being a volunteer!

As many of you aware I am a volunteer driver for the local Home Living Support Service (HLSS) operating under the control of the local council. I have done this for many years and (usually) entails transporting elderly local residents to and from medical appointments throughout our rural regional area - we have no frequent daily public transport and my average trips are around 150klms.

From bush properties:

And Headquarters and town dwellings:

To the city:

And to various destinations:
The Canberra Eye Hospital, and,

The Canberra Hospital campus and Pathology Department

HLSS has three vehicles, all automatics, a family size station wagon and two medium size sedans. There is an option to use your own transport and be paid a very reasonable mileage allowance, however, I prefer to use the HLSS vehicles. I do this for two reasons – firstly, if we don’t use the HLSS vehicles, which are purchased for the HLSS on government contract, we will lose them. Secondly, I don’t like the idea of running my own car for the sake of a few dollars and I believe that on a cost/return basis you lose out in the long run. (Besides, a third reason is that some of the clients are not 100% on their hygiene!)

A HLSS sedan at The Canberra Eye Hospital

I frequently do the longer ‘drives’ as many of the volunteers do not like doing those and prefer the local ‘drives’. I also do many of the ‘out-of-hours’ drives such as 6am pick ups for 7am Day Surgery in Canberra or Goulburn (twice I’ve done longer drives – one to Wollongong and the other to Sydney, but they are rare and really not what the HLSS like to become involved in), or, late afternoon drives that will involve my returning after-hours, sometimes as late as 8pm.

Having a key to the car compound means I can collect and return vehicles outside of normal working hours. I merely need to pick up the car keys and the ‘running sheet’ beforehand. For wintertime early drives I will often pick up the car the evening before and park it in my own garage – saves de-icing it and warming up a frozen vehicle at 5.30am!

Yesterday I did an afternoon drive to Young, leaving Yass at 1.00pm, driving 100klms to Young and arriving at 2.10pm, waiting until 3.20pm to drive back to Yass. I had to wait while my elderly lady passenger sought some ‘trip relief’ and she was also hungry and wanted something to eat, so a stop at “The Golden Arches” for 15 minutes was called for. We arrived back in Yass at 5.00pm during a rainstorm and by the time I dropped her off and took the car back to headquarters, opened p the compound to put the car away and finished all my paperwork it was 5.30pm – and I was out $10 because my client needed change for her car fee and also wringing wet into the bargain!

Oh well! – I got my$10 back, today, from the HLSS

Up until recently all we needed to do to be a volunteer driver was to undergo a police personal integrity check, supply our motor vehicle licence details (those who drive their own vehicles need to also supply vehicle registration and comprehensive insurance details) and attend a two hour induction. Lately that has all started to change.

We are now required to wear a uniform top (supplied free) with the HLSS Logo and HLSS name on it and specifying what type of volunteer we all are – eg. “Volunteer Driver” and wear a supplied name badge with the service name and logo, our own name and our volunteer status. We are now also being required to undertake a full First Aid Training course through a recognised trainer – eg the Royal Life Saving Society , or, St John Ambulance First Aid. I’ve just completed my multi-paged pre-practical written assessment and I undertake the full day practical assessment next Monday. Yesterday I also received a covering letter on receiving gifts and gratuities. This came with a copy of Council’s Policy Statement on gifts and gratuities and a Procedure Statement as to what we are to do if one is given any gifts and gratuities. I also had to fill in a declaration revealing if I had ever received a gifts and gratuity in excess of $1.00 since I worked as a volunteer. No problems there for me.

Risk Management and Civil Liability issues are changing the face of volunteer work and the co-ordinator told me yesterday that more people are dropping out, especially those who prefer to use their own vehicles as insurance and road worthiness requirements were becoming an issue for many of the latter.

I can only see that in the future this type of volunteer work will become more and more burdened with bureaucracy and volunteers will become harder to obtain. The local Area Health Service converted from volunteers to paid employees and I am constantly told by their clientele of their short-comings. They tell me its just not the same happy, obliging service and its all run by the ‘numbers”.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Salvation Jane (Patterson's Curse)

Alas there were no fields of Salvation Jane as there has been too much moisture about and all the canola fields are only about knee heighth and mainly green with just a smidgin of a few yellow flowere appearing. Nevermind - we are going up to The Camp in a few weeks and no doubt the fields around Boorowa and Cowra will be a sea of yellow. In the meantime here is some information about 'Salvation jane. or, Patterson's Curse - depending upon your view of the vegetation.

Echium plantagineum in Australia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A field of Echium plantagineum in Victoria, Australia. Patterson's Curse (Echium plantagineum or Purple Viper's Bugloss) is an invasive plant species in Australia.
Salvation Jane (particular reference in South Australia) is also known as Paterson's Curse. Other names are Blueweed, Lady Campbell Weed or Riverina Bluebell. The name Salvation Jane comes from South Australia. In times of drought, many of the states grazing pastures died. Due to its drought hardiness, Echium was a source of food to the grazing animals in the state, hence the name Salvation Jane.

Three other Echium species have been introduced and are of concern; Viper's Bugloss (Echium vulgare) is the most common of them. Viper's Bugloss is biennial, with a single unbranched flowering stem and smaller, more blue flowers, but is otherwise similar. This species is also useful for honey production.

Paterson's Curse has positive uses — it is the source for a particularly fine grade of honey. As a fodder plant, with proper handling, it can be valuable fodder over summer for cattle and sheep, but not livestock without ruminant digestive systems.

In the 1880s it was introduced to Australia, probably both as an accidental contaminate of pasture seed and as an ornamental plant. It is said that both names for the plant derive from Jane Paterson or Patterson, an early settler of the country near Albury. She brought the first seeds from Europe to beautify a garden, and then could only watch helplessly as the weed infested previously productive pastures for many miles around.

Paterson's Curse is now a dominant broadleaf pasture weed through much of New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania and also infests native grasslands, heathlands and woodlands.

Echium plantagineum flowers in spring growing adjacent to the freeway at South Australia

The plant has hairy, dark green, broadly oval rosette leaves to 30 cm long. The several seeding stems grow to 120 cm in height and develop branches with age. Flowers develop in clusters; they are purple, tubular and 2–3 cm long with 5 petals. It has a fleshy taproot with smaller laterals.

Although generally an autumn germinating spring-flowering annual, Paterson's Curse has become highly adaptable to Australian erratic rainfall evens and, given suitable rainfall, some plants germinate at any time of year, but the plant never survives for more than one year. It is a very prolific seed producer; heavy infestations can yield up to 30,000 seeds per square metre. Paterson's Curse can germinate under a wide variety of temperature conditions, tolerates dry periods well and responds vigorously to fertiliser. If cut by a lawnmower, it quickly recovers and sends out new shoots and flowers.

The plant disperses by movement of seeds — on the wool or fur of animals, the alimentary tracts of grazing animals or birds, movement in water and most importantly as a contaminant of hay or grain. This is most noticeable in times of drought, when there is considerable movement of fodder and livestock.

It can rapidly establish a large population on disturbed ground and competes vigorously with both smaller plants and the seedlings of regenerating overstorey species. Its spread has been greatly aided by human-induced habitat degradation, particularly the removal of perennial grasses through overgrazing by sheep and cattle and the introduction of the rabbit. Paterson's Curse is rarely able to establish itself in habitats where the native vegetation is healthy and undisturbed.

Control Methods:

1. Chemical

Control of the plant is carried out by hand (for small infestations) or with any of a variety of herbicides, and must be continued over many years to reduce the seedbank. (Most seeds germinate in the first year, but some survive for as long as five years before germinating.) In the longer term, perennial grasses (which do not need to regenerate from seed each year) can out-compete Patterson's Curse, and any increase in perennial cover produces a direct decrease in Paterson's Curse. However, the annual cost in control measures and lost production in Australia was estimated (in a 1985 study by the Industries Assistance Commission) to be over $30 million, compared to $2 million per year in benefits.

2. Biological
The Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has carried out research on numerous classical biological control solutions, and of the 100-odd insects found feeding on Paterson's Curse in the Mediterranean, judged six safe to release in Australia without endangering crops or native plants. The leaf-mining moth Dialectica scalariella the crown weevil Mogulones larvatus, root weevil Mogulones geographicus and the flea beetle Longitarsus echii are now currently widely distributed in southern Australia and can be found easily on most large Paterson's curse plants encountered. The crown weevil and flea beetle are proving highly effective. While the CSIRO is cautiously optimistic, it is expected that biological control agents will take many years to be fully effective. The most recent economic analysis however, suggests that biological control has already brought nearly $1.2 B in benefits to Australia by reducing the amount of Paterson's curse the pasture. The investment of funding to research into biological of Paterson's curse has already reaped a benefit cost ratio of 52:1

Echium plantagineum contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids and is poisonous. When eaten in large quantities, it cause reduced livestock weight or even (in severe cases) death. Paterson's Curse can kill horses and irritate the udders of dairy cows and the skin of humans. After the 2003 Canberra bushfires over 40 recorded horses were put down after eating the weed.

Monday, October 24, 2011


Google Map Yass to Young,NSW

Today, for a change, I have to drive a dlol from Yass over to the regional town of Young, the Cherry Centre of New South Wales to attend a Visiting Medical Specialist - and they cherries would just about be due to come into season - tho' I think its about a month too soon.

Take my little Nikon camera with me and see what snaps I can pick up. The Canola fields will have the hills awash with golden yellow and if the 'Salvation Jane' is in bloom then its purple flowers will make a marked contrast!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Times They Are-A Changin!

Rock photographer Barry Feinstein, who shot several of the last century's most famous album covers, died today in upstate New York of natural causes, according to Rolling Stone. He was 80 years old.

Feinstein snapped some of rock 'n' roll's most iconic images, including the covers for Bob Dylan's 'The Times They Are-A Changin,' George Harrison's 'All Things Must Pass,' Janis Joplin's 'Pearl' and the Rolling Stones' 'Beggar's Banquet,' before it was switched to its minimal, off-white cover. The original image featured a graffiti covered bathroom stall but ABKCO objected to the photo on the grounds that it was too obscene.

7 day forecast

It has been warm - up to 30°C here - fine and very dry with no breezes to speak of. The grass has been growing like crazy, I've cut it twice in three days. This is our forecast for the next 7 days:

Sun Oct 23   Mon Oct 24  Tue Oct 25  Wed  Oct 26  Thu Oct 27   Fri Oct 28  Sat Oct 29

Sunny           Windy            Rain            Showers          Sunny          Showers     Shower

Max 29°C     28°C             19°C             19°C             20°C            22°C           21°C

Min12°C       16°C             14°C               9°C                9°C             9°C           10°C

Rain 40%       90%             90%               80%               30%             90%           90%

Rain 1-5mm    5-10mm       5-10mm        1-5mm           1-5mm           5-10mm     5-10mm

Who can explain these odd - even bizarre - weather patterns?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Murdoch - man of myth and mystery!

This is a truly amazing real-life story and could very well make a fantastic movie. A story of a troubled man - from a report by:
Georgina Robinson
October 21, 2011 - 11:15AM
Read more:
Sent home in disgrace ... Keith Murdoch.
AUCKLAND: Somewhere in regional Australia lives a man whose tale has gone into New Zealand rugby's folklore. He is Keith Murdoch, the towering All Black who hit a security guard on tour in Wales, was sent home in disgrace and disappeared from the face of the earth.

The burly prop with piercing eyes and a handlebar moustache never spoke about the incident, or played a game of rugby, ever again.
A rare appearance ... Keith Murdoch in 2001. Photo: Getty Images

Instead he has spent the past four decades living as a recluse, moving from town to town in Australia while his teammates, family and the nation torture themselves with guilt and unanswered questions about that dark night in Cardiff in 1972.

Murdoch, a 110-kilogram colossus in the pre-gym era, had scored the winning try against Wales in front of a hostile 52,000-strong crowd at Cardiff Arms Park - Millennium Stadium's forerunner. He became an icon in New Zealand, the larrikin hero who was fond of the drink and known for the odd off-field fracas, but who delivered the All Blacks the crucial points to take them to a 19-16 victory that cold December night.

But the adulation gave way to disaster in the long hours of drinking following the tourists' victory.

Murdoch clocked a security guard who refused to let him into the closed bar at the famed rugby watering hole, The Angel Hotel. The guard, Peter Grant, was able to get up and walk away but the Welsh media went wild and the home rugby unions were dismayed.

After agreeing to a team proposal that Murdoch would be disciplined internally - but allowed to play in the next game against Scotland - team manager Ernie Todd changed his mind and expelled the Otago front-rower.

Instead of telling his side of the story, Murdoch got off the plane in Australia and vanished.

He has been seen four times since, each of them bizarre collisions with the world he determinedly tried to leave behind. Four or five years after the 1972 tour, Kiwi rugby writer, Terry "TP" McLean, tracked the notorious prop to an oil drilling site near Perth. The encounter was brief. McLean said hello and was told by a spanner-wielding Murdoch that he would be well advised to get back in the vehicle in which he arrived.

"I got back on the bus," McLean wrote in a short but colourful piece on their meeting.

In 1980 Murdoch was living with friends back in New Zealand. He saved the life of their young son who was found lifeless in a suburban swimming pool.

By the 1990s he was back across the Tasman. In 1990 part-time journalist and Auckland mother-of-three, Margot McRae, found Murdoch boarding in a pub in Tully, Queensland.

McRae was given a slightly warmer reception than McLean - Murdoch bought her a beer - but left without an on-camera interview.

The last public sighting came a decade later, in 2001, and did little to dispel the Murdoch myth.

He was called as a witness in a coronial inquest into the death of Christopher Limerick, a young Aboriginal man, in the Northern Territory. The then 57-year-old had caught Limerick breaking into his home in Tennant Creek the night before the 20-year-old disappeared. Limerick's body was found in an abandoned mine weeks later. Murdoch was never named as a suspect but police spent weeks tracking him after he left Tennant Creek for Katherine. The burly prop, whose thick dark hair had by now turned snowy white, eventually fronted the inquest but said little and antagonised the gathered media pack, shoving a camera and making faces.

He has not been seen or heard from since.

Now, a play running in Auckland this week, written by McRae, has brought his story to life once more. The production, Finding Murdoch, is a surprisingly warm and funny take on an event still talked about in hushed tones around New Zealand. McCrae sheds light on the complex circumstances that affected Todd's decision to send home his troubled prop, including the cancer diagnosis no one on the tour was aware of and Todd's poignant taped letters to his wife.

McRae reveals that some of the players tried to leave the tour in solidarity with their teammate but were told not to by Murdoch. And she paints a sad picture of guilt-ridden squad members who lived with regret for decades afterwards.

In one riveting scene, the journalist loosely modeled on McRae interviews Murdoch's captain on that tour, the rugby legend Ian Kirkpatrick.

"It was the first time he'd really talked about it," McRae told rugbyheaven in Auckland. "It was a huge admission on camera about the guilt he feels and a lot of friends have said about him that he [continued to feel] it terribly, that he didn't do the right thing. There's that sort of legacy of guilt and regret that's hung around the incident that's kind of fascinating."

The role of the media in creating and keeping alive the Keith Murdoch myth is another major theme.

McRae said she justified writing the play by knowing Murdoch himself would most likely never see it.

"Every night I think there's an inherent contradiction in this because in my own way I am of course just pushing the legend," she said. But in the end I love the story and I feel that it's a story worth telling because I feel that it's a cautionary tale as well, that (we should) be careful what we do to people to build up this legend. I wanted to show the contrast between this legend and this man, who is just nothing like the legend, who is just this guy. That to me is kind of the heart of the story - look what we do ... because of our appetite for heroes and villains.

"I wanted to strip it all away and say look at this person who says 'This isn't a story, it's my life'."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Her Majesty, the Queen, in Oz!

The Queen receives a bouquet of flowers from Canberra schoolchildren after arriving at Fairbairn air base yesterday to begin her tour. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Riding the royal waves
20 Oct, 2011 01:13 PM

The Queen has worn shades of lavender and silk orchids to visit the million blooms of Floriade in Canberra’s Commonwealth Park. In bright sunshine with magpies pecking at the lawn, a crowd of nearly 900 invited guests waved, cheered and flew the Australian flag as the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were escorted by head gardener Andrew Forster and ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher.

The royal couple stopped to inspect the Victory Garden which had fruit and vegetables reminiscent of an Australian backyard from World War II, a conflict in which the Queen’s mother was such an inspirational force.
I'm no Monarchist but that does not mean I do not like and respect dear old Lizzie and it's great to see her back in Oz again. As a 12 year old, I was one of tens of thousands of school children who lined up to greet the young and beautiful queen on her first tour in 1954. We all thought it was exciting but a day off school while we were bused from Hunter's Hill to North Sydney Oval and back again was, I reckon, the greatest delight we got from her visit.

The 'pomp and ceremony' is greatly reduced and a visit to Sydney is off the agenda because of the horrific security problems (and costs) that would cause! Apparently this time HRH is contributing to her own security costs - hence the 'low key' visit - and that put Sydney to the sword!

28C at 6.00pm would have been a 'warmish' welcome for her after an eighteen hour flight from a rather dreary London climate! LOL!

Sheriff’s deputies shoot 48 wild animals

Investigators walk around a barn as carcasses lay on the ground at The Muskingum County Animal Farm Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011, in Zanesville, Ohio. Police with assault rifles stalked a mountain lion, grizzly bear and monkey still on the loose after authorities said their owner apparently freed dozens of wild animals and then killed himself. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

In a Tuesday Oct. 18, 2011 photo, a dead lion lays by the fence on Terry Thompson's farm near Zanesville, Ohio. Police killed dozens of animals Tuesday that escaped from the wild-animal preserve where the owner's body later was found. Warning that more animals still were on the loose, officials expected up to four school districts to cancel classes as the remaining bears, big cats and other beasts from the Muskingum County Animal Farm were hunted down. (AP Photo/Heather Ellers and Dustin Burton)

Zanesville Times Recorder

" ... Zanesville, Ohio • Sheriff’s deputies shot nearly 50 wild animals — including 18 rare Bengal tigers and 17 lions — in a big-game hunt across the Ohio countryside Wednesday after the owner of an exotic-animal park threw their cages open and committed suicide in what appeared to be one last act of spite against his neighbors and police.

As homeowners nervously hid indoors, officers equipped with high-powered rifles and shoot-to-kill orders spread out through fields and woods to hunt down about 56 animals that had been set loose from the Muskingum County Animal Farm by its owner, Terry Thompson, before he shot himself to death Tuesday.

After an all-night hunt that extended into Wednesday afternoon, 48 animals had been killed and six captured alive and taken to the Columbus Zoo, authorities said. The only animals believed still on the loose were a wolf and a monkey.

Those destroyed included six black bears, two grizzlies, a baboon and three mountain lions.

Jack Hanna, TV personality and former director of the Columbus Zoo, defended the sheriff’s decision to kill the animals, but said the deaths of the Bengal tigers were especially tragic. There are only about 1,400 of the endangered cats left in the world, he said.

"When I heard 18 I was still in disbelief," Hanna said. "The most magnificent creature in the entire world, the tiger is."

As the hunt dragged on outside of Zanesville, population 25,000, schools closed in the mostly rural area of farms and widely spaced homes 55 miles east of Columbus. Parents were warned to keep children and pets indoors. And flashing signs along highways told motorists, "Caution exotic animals" and "Stay in vehicle."..."


The Australian

Interesting development today - The Australian newspaper - one of our premier broadsheet newspapers sold nationally but more of a right wing publication (part of the Fox/Yahoo/Facebook empire) - has introduced a Paywall - i.e. 'Pay-to-view' for news - ???????????????

Is this idiocy? Login and all you will get will be a headline synopsis and a link to the 'Pay-for-view' site. You can take out an e-subscription to its digital version if you wish?

With so much 'free press' - e.g. today I read an article in the Salt Lake Tribune/Utah news on the Romney - v - Perry Republican candidature debate for free and even had free access to a video of their debate - one wonders if The Australian has shot itself in the foot? Surely, if people are not buying the hard copy (and there is evidence of declining sales) then they are hardly likely to pay to view on-line versions, are they?

Let me get this straight, we pay to keep them behind the wall, right? I'll gladly chip in.

"When, lo, as they reached the mountain side,
A wonderous portal opened wide,
As if a cavern was suddenly hollowed;
And the piper advanced and the "journalists" followed,
And when all were in to the very last,
The door in the mountain side shut fast."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

LEGOLAND ??? Where the heck is LEGOLAND?

I was talking to my grandsons last night on the telephone. I asked them if they would like to spend some time with their Pa and Nanny up at "The Camp" in the summer holidays?

"No Pa! But we would like to go to LEGOLAND!"

"LEGOLAND?" I remarked. "Where is LEGOLAND?" half laughing 'cos I thought it was a product of their very active imaginations (These two boys have buckets and buckets of LEGO - they have been collecting it since they were born!)

"It's in San Diego in California!" the eldest boy said. "Will you take us there Pa?"

I had to look it up and sure enough there is a LEGOLAND in (near) San Diego, California, USA!

LEGOLAND California is a 128-acre park geared specifically towards youngsters ages two through 12. With over 50 family rides, "hands-on" attractions and shows, LEGOLAND California provides education, adventure and fun in this first park of its kind in the United States. In addition to LEGOLAND California (opened March 20, 1999), there are currently 3 LEGOLAND parks in the world - LEGOLAND Billund in Denmark marked its 40th anniversary in 2008; LEGOLAND Windsor outside of London opened in 1996, and has been awarded the British Government's top honor for excellence in academic programs and LEGOLAND Deutschland in Germany opened the Spring of 2002. LEGOLAND Florida will open in the fall of 2011.

Apparently, I am well informed from a reliable source, LEGO in Latin means "I put together" or "I assemble."

LEGOLAND California even has a themed Water Park and a Lego train ride!

Oh Well!  Looks like we wont be getting that new car next year and a trip to California may be in the offing! LOL!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Ouch ....... !!!

Putting the toaster away under the bench this morning and my right index finger must have snagged a sharp edge of steel and sliced through the fore tip pad ........

You would not believe that such a little cut could leave just so much blood throughout the kitchen!!!!!!  I currently have it 'pressure bandaged' with a wad of adhesive 'Band Aid' plasters.

Its just so difficult to control a mouse, let alone scroll, when you have this massive amount of plasters over a very tender finger tip!

New Garden Alcove

Last year we pulled down an aging brush fence trellis with the intent of replacing it with a new garden alcove. Aside from the aesthetics of the structure it also provides us with some privacy from the adjacent school and its playing fields.

We had a steel fixer make up a steel frame and put it into place. The idea was to but a small river stone base in front of it, featured by a water bath for the birds and place two large pots with climbing plants and then affix bamboo/cane sheets to the steel frame to complete the alcove.

After the frame was installed winter set in and things came to a halt. The following images detail our progress to date.

The bed dug out for the river stone base  - the concrete plinth is to be the base for the bird bath:

Work proceeds:

Things take shape:
Another view:
Next step is to attach the bamboo/cane sheets to the steel work and to then position the pots and attach the runners from the climbing vines to the surrounds.

Mammals, Reptiles, Birds and Flowers

Last week we went away for a few days and here are some images we took along the way.

The Eastern Grey Kangaroo (Macropus giganteus) is a marsupial found in southern and eastern Australia, with a population of several million. It is also known as the Great Grey Kangaroo and the Forester Kangaroo. Although a big Eastern Grey male typically masses around 66 kg (weight 145 lb.) and stands almost 2 m (6 ft.) tall, the scientific name, Macropus giganteus (gigantic large-foot), is misleading, as the Red Kangaroo of the semi-arid inland is, at 85 kg, larger. The second photo is of a large male, about 1.75 to 2 m and as is reasonably common he stands apart from his family group but ever ready to come and and assert his 'pack dominance'. These were taken about 6am, first light to early dawn, when they commonly gather to feed.

The Eastern bearded dragon (Pogona barbata) (below) is an agamid lizard found in wooded parts of Australia. It is one of a group of species known commonly as Bearded Dragons. Other common names for this species include Jew Lizard and Frilly Lizard, the latter being a confusion between this and another dragon; the Frilled Lizard (Chlamydosaurus kingii).

We were gathering kindling to start a fire and Rhonda almost picked this one up, thinking it was a 'stick'. These lizards are chameleons and can change their colour to disguise their presence. It was quite large for the area we found it in and I suspect it is quite a mature specimen, quite different to the little fellow below.

This young bloke was sunning himself on the road when we stopped and I took his picture out of the truck window. Unfortunately they are frequently 'road kill' as the like to warm themselves on the warm tarmacadam.

I am pretty certain the birds below are white faced herons. We came upon this pair when I went to wet a line in a little cove. They may be nesting, as it is springtime. The second one did not want to leave the treeline and I suspect that is where they have a nest and some chicks.

The White-faced Heron, Egretta novaehollandiae, also known as the Blue Crane, White-fronted Heron, and incorrectly as the Grey Heron, is a common bird throughout most of Australasia, including New Guinea, the islands of Torres Strait, Indonesia, New Zealand, the islands of the Sub antarctic, and all but the driest areas of Australia. It is a relatively small heron, pale, slightly bluish-grey, with yellow legs and white facial markings. It can be found almost anywhere near shallow water, fresh or salt, and although it is prompt to depart the scene on long, slow-beating wings if disturbed, it will boldly raid suburban fish ponds.

These are a few flowers - the mauve and the white daisies are domestic daisies gone 'feral' and growing along a fence line. The blue flower with the green and yellow leaf I do not know, however, I suspect it is also a domestic species gone feral - the latter throwing out 'runners' and sending up  new growth foliage.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Rare baby wombat takes first steps

Link:  camera spies endangered baby wombat

Hidden cameras near St George in Queensland's south-west have captured the first steps in the wild of a rare baby northern hairy-nosed wombat.

These are mostly nocturnal animals - certainly the babies of the species would not be allowed out at any time other than nighttime!

Errrr! No! JohnG, You certainly CANNOT have one for your menagerie!LOL!

10,000 free flights to Japan

JAPAN will offer 10,000 foreigners free airfares to visit the country next year, in an attempt to boost the tourism industry which has been hit by the ongoing nuclear disaster, a report said. The Japan Tourism Agency plans to ask would-be travellers to submit online applications for the free flights, detailing which areas of the country they would like to visit, the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper said. The agency will select the successful entrants and ask them to write a report about their trip which will be published on the internet.

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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Why is it ........?

When you drive into a service station to fill up with petrol (and you have to take position on the end of the queue for the next available bowser) that the vehicles in front of you finish their transactions and drive off and some clown drives in the opposite way and blocks your exit?

Why is it .......?
When the above happens there are already vehicles pulled up behind you so you cannot reverse out?

Why is it .......?
After all of the above, you go to pay and there are one or two people in front of you, the first one's credit card won't work, so there's a delay while they find one that does?

Why is it .......?
That the second person in the queue above decides that the delay is an option to 'grab some snacks' from the adjacent racks, then it takes another five minutes for the attendant to process their purchases (plus pay for their fuel!)

Why is it .......?
That the person above will always select one item that's not been programmed into the cashier's computerised till and she has to call for the manager to come and unlock the system so that he can look up the price and key it in?

Oh! well! Guess being retired gives me heaps of time to waste!

Chain Fast Food outlets are de-humanising

I rarely go to a Chain Fast Food outlet (CFFO's) - you know, (TIC) the Regal Burger, Golden Arches, Gloria Brews Coffee-type places - however, this weekend I had to make an overnight trip to Sydney to my daughter's new home to help her solve a problem with her two puppies who were demolishing the house grounds.

It was a 468klm return trip and it was also necessary that I took my own dog, Denny, with me so I was very limited as to where I could eat along the way. CFFO's were the best option 'cos of their ample parking and I could leave Denny in the truck while I went and collected some take-away food to feed the two of us (usually I'd drive on to a roadside 'Rest Stop' where we could sit in the open air and eat.)

I was taken back by the de-humanising aspect of the process of getting in, ordering food, paying for it, collecting it and getting out. You were a number and any real 'choice' was impeded - you ordered the meal deal for the meal price and that's what you got. "I don't want coke nor do I want the hash brown - just the chicken burger and the large fries, thanks!"

No!  I couldn't do that 'cos their receipting system was geared to meal deals and not single item purchases and No! - I couldn't sub the coke for a 600ml bottle of water (bottled drinks were part of another - and more costly - 'meal deal') and the cokes only come in cardboard cups with ice! How can you drive with a loosely topped 600ml container of coke and ice with a drinking tube sticking out of it - obviously suggestive of a business ploy to make you stay and sit inside the CFFO in the hope that you (or a family member) would find something else to purchase while you ate your 'meal'?

You queued up, shuffling inevitably forward until you got to the counter and then you ordered (after haggling over needs - I walked out and dumped the coke and the hash brown as I left), paid and then merged back into the crowd and waited for your "number" to be called. You went forward, collected it and exited through the queued and waiting throng.

While waiting I said to another WASP-ish Australian male standing nearby who appeared my age and just as bewildered by the process that "It's a joke, surely!" He said - "They do it this way so that the production process is maintained! It's the 'sausage factory' assembly line approach to customer service!"

We chatted for a while and he remarked that "The 'sub-cons' love it, probably 'cos they are more used to losing their identity to a number and dealing with large numbers is probably something they are more culturally attuned to!" As we chatted he told me he had spent three months touring the sub-continent - Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan - and that CFFO's were "all the go over there!" I looked around and sure enough we were in a crowd of people whom appeared to be mostly of sub-continent origin, family groups and couples, and they were laughing and jabbering away and seemingly enjoying the whole process.

I compare these experiences (three all up) to another experience when I took the truck over to Fyshwick, an industrial development in Canberra, last Thursday to get some glass replaced - I had an hour wait while the new window had to be fitted and as I was told to be there early (7.30am) and had just driven over an hour to get there I asked the guy if there was a food outlet around. He told me there was a Take-Away diner around the block, so I walked around.

The difference was amazing and quite a contrast - very personal service at a take-away or dine-in diner mostly patronised by nearby industrial workers, linesmen, tradies and clientele like myself. It was spotlessly clean, airy and well lit and the aroma of fresh coffee and hot grills filled and warmed a cool morning.

"Grab a table and sit down", I was told. "We'll bring you over a coffee while you make up your mind what you want!" Ordering breakfast - no problems "Small, medium or large breakfast? How many eggs? Do you want fries or hash browns? Another coffee, sir and would you like water with your breakfast? You can pay at the counter when you are finished - would you like today's paper to read while you wait?"

I declined the newspaper and elected to watch the comings and  goings - the unshaven mechanic in his dirt dusty overalls ordering a hot take-away meal. The two linesmen from Telstra who obviously knew everyone else by their loud greetings who merely sat and ordered "The Usual, thanks!" - no fuss, the waitress knew what they wanted. The guy in the business suit who merely wanted a large white coffee to go! The lady who came in with a tray and an order list for morning hot drinks who chatted to a guy who appeared to be one of the management while her order was processed. The two plumbers - senior and junior - who studied the board and chose their 'sit-down' breakfast. the whole place reeked of friendliness and helpfulness.

I waded through a huge "small" breakfast of fried eggs, bacon, fries, grilled tomato, toast and a pot of steaming hot coffee. Lord only knows what the medium or even the large breakfast consisted of but obviously they were in the business of serving clients who had huge appetites. I made a comment to the waitress who merely chuckled and said "Leave what you can't eat! We get a lot of interstate truckers in here and they sure like their food!"

I could just imagine long haul interstate truckers, on a meal break, calorie loading a gargantuan feast during a break while their load was being handled at a nearby warehouse!

When I went to the counter to pay as I left (change out of $15) I was asked "How was your breakfast? Was it OK?"

I told the guy that it was great and thanked him. He gave me a big grin and said "Come again!" - it's definitely on my list of meal stops the next time I'm in the area!

I am now struck at the difference between the two styles of catering businesses. No doubt the CFFO's are making a fortune as they cater for the passing highway hordes, however, that small eatery business in Fyshwick was also a very profitable business but had a trade of regulars and 'walk-ins'.

I know where I would prefer to eat and the type of service I prefer to receive. Next trip I intend to leave the highway when I want to eat and go into one of the small towns that showed up on my Sat-Nav system and look for a local eatery. You never know, I just might get lucky and re-discover some good old-fashioned personalised customer service at a regular roadside cafe!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Venomous Cottonmouths II

Saw Barb's post from 3 Acre Homestead about  venomous cottonmouth snake and remembered these photos a friend, an electrical services linesman in Texas, sent me a few years back. He was called to a job to connect power from the mains to a disused powerbox and this is what he found.

Not A nice welcoming sight at all - held up the job all morning until they could get a snake handler to remove them (It was on National Park grounds, so destroying them was a last option and would have involved mountains of 'environmentally-related' paperwork.)

As Barb's sister pointed out, the dark colour indicates that these are juveniles that were hatched in a convenient site for the Momma snake!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Steak and kidney pie night!

Last night was Steak and kidney pie night! We have this with a crusty crust sourdough bread loaf and vegetables (last night steamed Choko, and steamed Broccoli with mashed Potatoes).

I pre-cook the steak and kidney the night before and make up the pie on the night.

600g (just over 1lb) of topside steak cut into 2cm cubes
4 lambs kidneys halved, pelvis removed and chopped into 5 pieces each
1 cup of beef stock
2 stalks of Coriander finely chopped
1 tablespoon of fresh chives - finely chopped
6 medium white button mushrooms (Swiss mushrooms are fine as a replacement)
3 tablespoons of plain flour
1 teaspoon of cooking salt
1/4 teaspoon of coarsely ground black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
sprinkle of dried chili flakes
2 sheets of puff pastry (generic shop bought is fine)
1 egg and a dash of milk for an egg wash

place flour, salt, peppers and chili into a plastic bag, add the chopped steak and kidneys and shake well to ensure an even coat.
Place the meat mix into a slow cooker and pour over the beef stock.
Top with chopped mushrooms and the coriander and chives
slow cook on a low setting for four hours.
DO NOT LIFT LID DURING COOKING - discipline please chefs!

After the meat is done, thicken with some extra flour if the mixture is too moist and return to the low heat for another half hour.

Remove meat from the slow cooker, cover with plastic wrap and allow it to stand overnight - unless the weather is warm, it can be left outside the refrigerator but place in the refrigerator if ambient temperature is warmish!

Preheat oven to 210C (about 410F)
Place meat mixture into a 2 litre ovenproof pie dish and smooth off the top of the mixture. I cut a thin strip off one of the puff pastry sheets - about 2cm or 1 inch wide and line the inside lip of the pie dish with this, using some egg wash for adherence and pressing firmly to the surface.

From the remainder of that sheet I cut out a circle of pastry that just overfills the top of pie mixture and backs up onto the strip inside the lip. I then coat the surface with the egg wash. I then cover this layer of pastry with the second sheet of puff pastry, easing it into the corners ensuring there are no rips or tears and then pressing this against the pastry on the inside of the lip to get a good seal.

Decorate the surface with left over pieces of puff pastry - I used a flower pattern - and coat this with egg wash.

place into your preheated oven in the centre of the middle shelf and cook for 20 minutes or until the pastry puffs up and is golden brown.

Serve directly onto a heatproof base on the table and spoon the pie contents onto the side of your plate of cooked vegetables.

A nice Italian-style Lambrusco wine goes well with this meal - enjoy!

Now ....

Currently - 0.2C at 5.20am - we have commenced daylight saving period through to Autumn in the southeast of Australia and its back to 'the dark' in the mornings (for a short time).

We've had four seasons every day for the past week and never a day without cool breezes, rain and cold interspersed with periods of sunshine. The ground is quite moist and the river is running through the town pond at a gentle pace.

Spring is slowly exerting its presence as the trees go into bud swell and a flourish of greenery is appearing everywhere. The damp, cool, weather is amazing as some plants are blooming/sprouting that I have not seen for over a decade!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Ghost emails

I was given to wondering this morning (as I deleted a host of 'promo' emails - mostly from differing commercial sources that I am "sometimes" interested in, so keep rather than 'spam filing' them away somewhere) just how many emails must there be out there, flying around the Ethernet and, I suppose, a great many of them going to the electronic equivalent of a 'dead letter post box'?

People change Internet providers (hence email addresses), abandon particular generic 'free' addresses - Gmail, yahoo, hotmail, etc - loose computers, move on and, p'raps, even die - yet these emails keep going out on their appointed rounds and never being open and read?

Oh well - it is a wet day and one must find something to occupy their mind on such occasions when home alone! LOL!