Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sandy - spirit of defiance ....

or plain bloody-mindedness?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Back to the wild

Eight Southern Brush Tailed Rock Wallabies bred at Tidbinbilla will be released in to the wild in Victoria.

Staff at the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve in Canberra's south are celebrating a milestone in their program to preserve the endangered southern brush tailed rock wallaby. They are preparing to release eight of the wallabies into the wild to boost the population. All have been bred with the help of surrogate mothers from a similar wallaby species
The joeys are placed with surrogate mothers so the wallabies can breed more often. 
Acting senior wildlife officer Scott Ryan says the wallabies will undergo a health check, before they're released in the Victorian Grampians tomorrow.
"When you consider the fact there's around about 40 southern brush tailed rock wallabies in captivity, to be releasing 20 per cent of them out into the wild is quite significant," Mr Ryan said. "The other point obviously is that in the wild there's only estimated to be about 40 as well."

Wallabies returned to the wild

Monday, October 29, 2012

Spectacular water main burst

Water from the burst main shoots high into the air, showering homes in
Glen Waverley, Melbourne. Photo: Nine News

Melbourne Water spokesman Nicolas McGay said a faulty valve in the pipeline, which ran from Silvan Dam into the Waverley area, was believed to be responsible for the spout. He said the damaged section of the pipe had been shut down while Melbourne Water staff attempted fix the problem, however customers’ water supply in the area was not being affected.

Mr McGay said about two million litres of water - or 0.002 per cent of Melbourne’s daily water use - was lost when the water pipe burst.

"At this stage it's believed that a faulty air-ball valve, a valve which regulates pressure in the main, caused the burst," he said. He said there had been one report of property damage to Melbourne Water. "We’re working with residents to determine whether there has been any other damage," he said.

Mr McGay said the section of the 50-year-old main had no history of failure, and had an expected lifespan of about 100 years.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Remembering Tracy and Maj.Gen. Stretton

"The Major General who led the recovery effort after Cyclone Tracey has died.
Retired Major General Alan Stretton flew to Darwin in 1974 to head the relief effort after the city was destroyed. Under his leadership, 36,000 people were evacuated and essential services were restored.
Major General Stretton passed away on Friday night at age 90.
Historian Peter Forrest says Major General Stretton has left a lasting legacy.
"He of course will be always remembered in Darwin as the man who took command of the immediate post cyclone phase, those first five or six days," he said. "I think he did a great job in focusing the mind of the nation on what Darwin's situation really was.
"He was able to use all of his authority and connections to focus the entire resources of the nation onto Darwin's situation and its needs and I think he was just about uniquely placed to do that."

Former Australian of the Year, Major General Alan Stretton led the relief effort after Cyclone Tracy devastated the city of Darwin in 1974. Born in Melbourne, Stretton joined the Army in 1940 and saw active service in the Pacific, Korea, Malaya and Vietnam where he was was the Australian Army chief of staff during that conflict. In 1974 Stretton was appointed Director-General of the newly formed Natural Disasters Organisation, which coordinated Commonwealth Government disaster relief.

I can vouch for Major General Stretton's role in the relief organisation for the City of Darwin. We were about to sit down in the staff dining room for our first Christmas lunch on Christmas Day 1974 at the new Woden Valley Hospital in Canberra when our medical superintendent, Dr "Nobby" Elvin walked in and announced that Darwin had been devastated by a massive cyclone. The Bureau of Meteorology's official estimates suggested that Tracy's wind gusts had reached 240 km/h (150 mph).

After a few words to key staff to organise a relief surgical team to fly into Darwin he walked over to me and handed me his master keys for the hospital and told me to go to the hospital's vast Stores area, open it up and give the relief team anything they needed. We had that team equipped with emergency supplies for an emergency surgical team on a RAAF C130 Hercules and winging off to Darwin that evening.  They landed in Darwin early the next day - first relief flight on the ground on a hastily cleared airfield. I had wanted to go too but Dr Elvin said to me - "They need surgical help right now, we'll send in the Pysch team later!"

Twenty days later I flew into Darwin with a "social support" team and this is what we saw on approach to the airfield:

Devastation brought by Cyclone Tracy upon the Northern Territory city of Darwin.
Courtesy – National Archives of Australia A6135, K29/1/75/16

The extent of the devastation was so severe that Stretton would only allow non-military personnel to remain "on-the-ground" for no more than ten days.

Ten days later we flew out to Adelaide with an evacuation load of women and children. Over 36,000 people were evacuated by air and sea.

Was it as good as we thought it was ....

A not-so-maudlin trip down memory lane ….

I’m in my 70’s now. I am retired tho’ Rhonda still works – curse of the new world economics, I s’pose – Kat is all grown up and has two sons of her own.

Today, Sunday, I was awake early – sleeping late is not my ‘thing’ these days as I prefer an afternoon nap of an hour or so.

While the house was still quiet I got to thinking on days gone bye. I tend to lean towards being a ‘melancholic’, being fundamentally introverted and deep thinking. I worry about things like not being on time for an event and I get preoccupied with being the perfectionist (I hate typos and fret if I find I have introduced one lol!), so much so that I do tend to become so involved in what I am doing I lose all contact with the surrounding world and forget to consider others. Often I have been doing something while I wait for Rhonda, for example, to start the washing up only to come out and find she’s already done it, or, while waiting for her to prepare a shopping list before we go shopping to discover her having been sitting at the table for fifteen minutes waiting for me.

Any-hoo-dee-doo-dee, that’s all off the point. I was thinking back to the days just after we were married. We had arrived in Canberra in the early 1970’s and life was full of so much promise. Accommodation was very hard to find in the town of that time and what was available was very expensive but the hospital I was to work for were desperate to engage me. Rhonda was pregnant with Kat and had stopped nursing.

The hospital medical superintendent at my new hospital offered us a year’s lease on a married quarters apartment on the proviso we purchased a government block of housing land and began to build ourselves our own home – which we did - a "win-win" situation for both he and myself. The nursing administration found Rhonda a temporary position as a receptionist in the hospital School of Nursing. Things were looking good but times were also tough. Australia had just come out of recession and the economy was starting to blossom again. We divested ourselves of our second car – Rhonda’s ‘little baby’, her first new car – and sold off a lot of our excess furniture, pouring all our income into the home we were building.

Our new home was (then) way out on the southern periphery of Canberra in the Tuggeranong Valley – a place where no-one yet resided – and people questioned us to why we were moving “…. So far out of town, in ‘the sticks’…”? But to us it was a dream, the opportunity to build and own a new home, something we would have found impossible to do if we had stayed in Sydney and we would have probably remained in a rental apartment block if we had stayed in Sydney.

We had our ups and downs, of, course. Kat was born – the first child born from among that hospital's residential area. My mum died, which really cut me up, and my father was also to die not long after (I lost my best ‘mate’ when he died.) We did get into our new home – the first occupants of a new urban development area -  and we spent years fitting it out, carpeting, curtains, furnishing, landscaping, manicuring gardens, putting in a portable pool and a ‘play gym’ set for Kat, watching her grow and go to school nearby. We socialised with neighbours (who were, in the main, young family couples like ourselves) and enjoyed our breaks away to the south coast beaches whenever the opportunity presented.

They were ‘halcyon days’. Those were the days of learning to be a parent and a family and doing parenting and family things. A couple of my friends had also moved down from Sydney so we formed a little group of Sydney expatriates and did things together like weekend barbecues and picnics out along the Murrumbidgee River or the Cotter Reserve. We made lots of friends at a time when Canberra was a very ‘family-focused’ city.

Times changed. Kat grew up and fled the nest. I took on a brief career change into teaching. Rhonda had returned to nursing. We became “DINKS” – Dual Income, No Kids! – and were moderately well off.

We sold our home and bought and moved into a townhouse which, coincidentally, had been built in a new sub-division in one of the localities we used to picnic with friends. Trees, creeks and paddocks were now roadways, concrete and brick homes and macadam carparks. We purchased a holiday cabin at the coast and thought that one day we would move to the coast in preparation for our retired years – a venture we later reneged on owing to the social dynamics of growing older in a coastal region deplete of  the necessary ‘caring resources'. We were able to weather the worsening financial situations of the late 1990’s, early 2000’s.

I went back to nursing, in a round-about way, working in Injury Management and Occupational Health Services (I later became the Safety Officer for several local government councils). Rhonda kept on soldiering on at nursing as her career. Eventually, we found our way back up ‘over the mountain’ and living once more on the southern slopes and tablelands, ‘God’s country’ for us!

Those halcyon days were long gone, a thing of our past, and there was no going back. We accepted what we had as our lot, a thing of maturity I suppose, and always now to look forward and rarely back and to think of what always would be 'best for us'. We learnt that we could indulge ourselves and enjoy life's finer offerings without feeling any 'guilt'.

Still, every now and again it is good to sit and reminisce of those seemingly warm spring and summer seasons, the colours of autumn and the warmth of a log fire in winter. Those days were the days of ‘wine and roses’, when your world was wide, life was good and you thought you had it all.

Do I regret it? Not at all! Would I do it over again? Most definitely! Would I change anything? With the benefit of hind-sight, 'Yes', there are a few things I would undo, mostly mistakes I made that complicated what was otherwise a good life!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

"Frankenstorm Sandy"

Destruction from Hurricane Sandy on a street in Santiago de Cuba Photo: Desmond Boylan, Reuters
"Giant Storm
 (Superstorm) Sandy is expected to be so large it will cover the eastern third of the United States, said Louis Uccellini, director of the National Centres for Environmental Protection in College Park, Maryland. The storm's reach may extend into southern Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime Provinces, according to a bulletin from Environment Canada. 
Yesterday, Paul Kocin, a National Weather Service meteorologist in College Park, said if Sandy grows as expected, it may be the worst storm to hit the region in 100 years. 
"What we're seeing in some of our models is a storm at an intensity that we have not seen in this part of the country in the past century," Kocin said. "We're not trying to hype it, this is what we're seeing in some of our models. It may come in weaker." 
As of 5 p.m. New York time, Sandy's top winds were 75 miles (121 kilometers) per hour, down from 100 mph earlier, according to the hurricane center in Miami. It was 60 miles north of Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas and 420 miles south-southeast of Charleston, South Carolina, moving north at 7 mph. 
Forecast track
The center's current track for the system has it going ashore just south of the Delaware Bay late Oct. 29 or early Oct. 30 and moving northwest toward Baltimore. The path may change before landfall, the center said.
As much as 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain may fall on parts of the northeast, with the heaviest rain to the north of the storm's track. The damage will be spread across a wider area than that left by a typical hurricane, Franklin said. "Our track forecast error is on the order of 150 to 200 miles," Franklin said on a conference call today. "We cannot be precise at this stage."
Franklin said the storm surge, or ocean water the storm pushes into the shore, will hit a larger area than did last year's Hurricane Irene. The storm will also be striking two days after the full moon, when tides are at their highest."

Read more:

To all my friends on the American northern continental east coast, I wish you all to be safe and well and to ride out this storm with no serious consequences!

Judge-alone - v- Jury trials

Or, "Why I don't like jury trials!"

  1. They are expensive.
  2. They are time consuming for court resources
  3. Their 'failure rate' is significant
  4. They rely on unskilled, amateurs jurists
"An unusual pattern has swept Canberra's criminal justice system, sending shoulders slumping at both ends of the bar table and throughout the public gallery.
A string of ACT Supreme Court juries in unrelated trials have been unable to reach unanimous verdicts in recent weeks. Since September 18 only one jury has been able to agree on a verdict, taking less than three hours to acquit a man of sexually assaulting a teenager on school ground. But four out of five juries found themselves hopelessly deadlocked, forcing a judge to send them home.

For victims, defendants, their families and lawyers it's a frustrating and costly outcome, and can mean a lengthy wait for a retrial.
The reasons for the spate of deadlocked cases remain shrouded in the secrecy that surrounds the jury room and the deliberations within its walls. 
Yesterday, Jeremy Scott Campbell became the fourth accused man to face the prospect of a retrial after 12 men and women could not agree on his drug trafficking charges. Campbell had been accused of dealing ice and methylamphetamine but after nine hours the jury wrote to Justice John Burns asking to be sent home. The prospect of a retrial frustrated his sister, a defence witness, who supported her brother throughout the process. 
''It's wasting taxpayers' money, it's wasting families' money,'' she said. ''I understand it happens, that they can't decide, but it should be the option of the judge, not to have to wait another year or two to do the whole thing over again.'' 
In several jurisdictions judges can accept majority verdicts, but ACT Law Society president Noor Blumer warned against such a move. She noted recent amendments ruled out judge-alone trials for people accused of homicides or sexual assault offences. 
''There is no such thing as a hung jury when there is only a judge,'' Ms Blumer said. Having lost the option of a judge-alone trial except in exceptional circumstances, it would be grossly unfair if defendants were then subject to majority verdicts. The justice in the jury system is that if even one of the jurors has a 'reasonable doubt' then there is no conviction.'' 
The three other deadlocks all came in cases involving sexual assaults. 
Earlier this month a jury was sent home after failing to agree in the case of a masseur accused of sexually assaulting a customer on a massage table. The man's barrister, James Lawton, said his client now had a tentative December 2013 retrial date. 
''[Hung juries are] extremely stressful for the accused, and because of the delays in getting things relisted the matter won't get heard again until as late as next year,'' Mr Lawton said. That often means complying with bail conditions for an extended period of time, being unable to move on with their lives.''
The former prosecutor also said the Director of Public Prosecutions had to carefully consider whether to mount a retrial. 
''The director has a two-part test to apply before deciding to prosecute - whether it's in the public interest and whether there are reasonable prospects of conviction,'' he said.
''A hung jury may well demonstrate there aren't reasonable prospects.''
Source: The Canberra Times 

Friday, October 26, 2012

And here is the news: My bum's got nothing to do with the story.

Tracey Spicer at Channel 10.

DEAR Mr Misogynist,I'd like to thank you for everything you've taught me over the past 25 years. 
Why, I had no idea I was so fat, ugly and stupid. I thought being a size 12 was perfectly acceptable. But when you yelled across the newsroom, ''I want two inches off your hair and two inches off your arse'', suddenly, a light went on.
Of course! The size of my posterior is directly related to the content and credibility of the stories I'm reporting on for this network. Silly me. You're right. I'll never make it as a TV journalist. Those wise words of yours from 1986 are still ringing in my ears: ''That's why you don't see blonde newsreaders,'' you explained patiently. ''People don't take them seriously.''
It reminded me of another sage piece of advice, from a radio boss during a job interview some years ago. He put it simply yet eloquently: ''There's a reason why you don't hear women on commercial talkback radio,'' he said. ''No one wants to hear the whiny sound of a female voice. Us blokes get enough nagging at home!''
Really, in retrospect, it was foolish to think I was worthy of such a role.
Like all women, I only have two areas of specialisation: shoes and handbags. We all know high heels are a patriarchal construct to dis-empower us by constricting movement. (Oh dear. Must stop having thoughts like that. Sorry, I have no idea where that came from.)
Anyway, through some quirk of fate, I managed to land a news-reading job.
I know what you're thinking. I finally decided to speak into that flesh-coloured microphone you were always pointing in my direction. Oddly enough, I was offered the job by a woman. Who would have thought? Initially, I was wary. You always said you'd never work for a female boss because, ''You can't trust anything that bleeds for five days and doesn't die''. Hilarious! It's a good thing I was wearing a corset or my sides would have split.
Fortunately, there were enough blokes around to keep me on the straight and narrow.
On my first night, the station manager came down and said, ''You need to stick your tits out more''. Once again, my brain wasn't working properly.
In between the raging bushfires, the political crises and savage cuts to welfare, I'd forgotten to flirt with the camera.A couple of years later - I'm ashamed to say this - I ''porked up'', according to one of the producers. My new boss quickly raced out and arranged sponsorship from the local gym.
Frankly, I was unsightly. I stood out like a bull in a china shop, around those fragile lollipop ladies with their skinny bodies and massive heads. 
Speaking of heads, I got a nasty shock when I looked in the mirror one day. Wrinkles around my eyes and on my forehead. Too much thinking? Surely not.
I remember you reviewing a video tape of one of my colleagues - clever girl, Walkley Award winner as I recall - and saying, ''The problems seem to be here and here,'' pointing to her ghastly crow's feet. As it turns out, wrinkles were the least of my worries. I'd gotten myself knocked up.
I wanted to go back to work when bubby was three months old but, once again, it took a man to show me the error of my ways.
''Women should be at home with their children,'' my news director said. ''Or the fabric of society will be rent asunder. Anyway Trace. You're getting a bit long in the tooth. Why don't you give some of the younger girls an opportunity?''
Suddenly, all the lights went on. And it was so bright - it made your light look like a limp insipid flicker.
This is difficult for me to put into words but if I had to, it would sound a bit like this: F--- you. F--- you, you misogynist bully with your archaic beliefs, intellect of a pygmy, and tiny dick.
The reason I am writing this letter is to thank you.
Among others - too many to mention - you lit a fire in my belly that's become an inferno and these days, I don't cop shit from anyone. When I was sacked by email after the birth of my second baby, I fought the lot of them. I do hope you receive this correspondence. I had trouble finding a forwarding address after you lost your house due to that unfortunate sexual harassment case. (I'm sure the bitch was asking for it.)
Yours in emancipation,


Tracey Spicer has worked as a television news presenter and radio broadcaster for more than 25 years.
This is an edited version of a speech she gave at a Women of Letters presentation - a series of performances aimed at reviving the art of letter writing. It was first published on

Read more:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Weather has forecasters in a spin ....

The weather bureau is predicting a big change in Australia's forecast this summer, with an El Nino no longer expected. Average rainfall is predicted in the coming months in the absence of El Nino - Australia's major weather pattern in the 21st century which brings drought-like conditions.
After decades of weathering poor rainfalls, farmers are welcoming the change around

Dr Andrew Watkins, the chief climate forecaster says it is the biggest turnaround in weather patterns since records began. By September, all of a sudden, the temperature started to cool down, the trade winds started to become a little bit enhanced, and the cloud patterns and other indicators like that headed away from El Nino.
This is what we're looking at as climatologists, giving us the heads up about what may happen over the next few months, and indeed what we're seeing now is a backing off from those El Nino thresholds. The climatologists say they are not sure why there has been a cooling down and it actually is quite a unique situation if we end up not going into an El Nino event.
But a lot of farmers take these sorts of predictions with a grain of salt. Victorian Farmers Federation's Grains Group president Andrew Weidemann runs a mixed farm in the state's north-west.
"The weather bureau tend to put out these predictions, but I guess in the farming sector what we deal with is results," he said. "The results we're looking for are moisture at the critical times of the season to try and produce as much as we possibly can."
Much further north, the change is pointing to a good wet season in the vast grazing country across the Top End. Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association executive director Luke Bowen says the forecast is good news.
"Good news for the monsoon region, given that there had been predictions that it was going to be a very, very late wet," he said. "It's also potentially good news for those areas south of the tropic, where we've had a run of a couple of good years through central Australia, through the arid zone."

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I just love innovative thinkers ...

A mining worker takes a different approach to personal hygiene, making use of an excavator's bucket to take a bath at a mining settlement near Rockhampton, central Queensland.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Odd Restaurant and Eatery names

In his book Pu Pu Hot Pot, Ben Brusey (who begins his bio by stating he has a secondary-school certificate in food technology) claims, with tongue placed in kebab-filled cheek, that creativity in a restaurant's name is far more important than that on its plates.

There are heaps of clever, inventive, odd and even weird restaurant names.

London's Phat Phuc Noodle Bar

Here are a few I am aware of - add to the list if you know of any others:

“Marquis de Salade” in Budapest,
“Jason Donervan” cart selling kebabs to ''neighbours'' across Britain
The lost in translation "Little Drooling Bear Food” in Shanghai
The just plain wrong “Booty's House of Crabs” in Ocean City in the US
“New Cod on the Block” in Sheffield, Britain
“Phat Phuc Noodle Bar in London”. (It translates as Happy Buddha, but still …........)

Closer to home there's:
“Thai The Knot” Maroubra, Sydney
“N'Thai Sing” Terrigal, NSW Australia
“Thairanosaurus” Riverwood, Sydney.
“Lord of the Fries” Melbourne, Australia
“Moon Under Water” (named after George Orwell's ideal, fictitious pub) Melbourne,
“My Legendary Girlfriend” (a song by Pulp) Melbourne,
"Hungary Mondays" - a restaurant that sells home-cooked meals in brown bags to hungry workers, Perth, WA
"Transient Diners" an unlicensed eatery, operating out of hairdressing salons and a band rehearsal space in Camperdown, Sydney
“Annoying Brother” (the self-deprecating proprietor, who is the youngest of six) Melbourne,
“Bread & Jam for Frances” (a children's book;  housed in Readings bookstore) Melbourne
“Omar and the Marvellous Coffee Bird” (after a folkloric tale of the origin), Melbourne.
“The League of Honest Coffee”, Melbourne 

While others are so stripped back they have all the charm of this one named after a tax-form entry – “PM24”

Ben Brusey, in  Pu Pu Hot Pot,  also lists these world famous eatery names:

From my reading of American journalist Alan Hessler's many journals of his travels in China, true Chinese mainland restaurants tend to be named artistically, or, descriptively, such as "Flower in summer sunshine", or,  "Golden Rainbow over glorious sunset on pond", and then there is "Qoung Tart presents only very best food" and the restaurant named, "Place for getting pleasant food in person".

Please add any other interesting restaurant or eatery names you have encountered.

Marlin payback .....

I've never been a fan of deep sea game fishing - perhaps because my socialistic tendencies causes me to view it as one of the "Domains of the rich and well off" (like I view ocean yacht racing) as well as being a 'cruel and unusual activity', so it was with some joy that I recount the joy of the marlin that gave back as much as it got and then managed to escape.

"In a battle of wills between a 270-kilogram black marlin and the crew of a fishing boat, the latter came off second best. Deep sea anglers had a close encounter with the massive contorting fish, which leapt on to the boat, knocking over one crew member and sending a piece of timber flying across the deck. The projectile hit a second person in the head, but the crew members suffered only minor injuries, according to the Little Audrey charter fishing company."
Little Audrey captain Dan Carlson said the marlin “got away healthy as", and there was no damage to the boat.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Budgies in the Outback

Courtesy of the Australian Broadcasting Commission On-line News:

Thousands of budgerigars have been seen around Central Australian waterways. 
(File image) (Audience submitted: ABC News)

A zoologist in Central Australia says he has never seen so many budgerigars congregating around waterholes. Anthony Molyneux from the Alice Springs Desert Park says the explosion of budgie numbers is a rare phenomenon.
"The largest flock I've seen is about 5,000," he said. "I was sitting on a dam wall and they flew up and around me. It gave me goose bumps. It's an experience that I will never forget and will stay with me forever. If you see them in the distance it looks like a swarm of insects until you work out that that's so many thousands of budgies. So it's certainly a sight to behold, that's for sure."
He says the birds are thriving on abundant seeding grass across the region. There have been reports of flocks of up to 15,000 budgies at waterholes from Alice Springs to Barrow Creek.
"I've been in Alice (Springs) a bit over 13 years and I've never seen this many around ... so it's a classic boom and bust," Mr Molyneux said. "It's a boom period for them. We're coming into the breeding season now so those large numbers will breed, so we can probably expect this to go on for a little bit."

I can only say that its a good thing that JohnG from over at Going Gently is still in Trelawnyd, North Wales, or he'd be putting on an extra large pair of 'Undies' and doing a bit of gross 'budgie smuggling'! LoL!

Sydneysiders flock to Martin Place hoping to set the world record for the biggest swimwear parade. All proceeds go to the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME) charity.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

World finances begin to darken once more

We’ve been away for few days (up “The Camp”) and since we got back I’ve been catching up in the world political and financial news.

Europe is in a grim state with Greece, Italy and Spain particularly facing severe financial worries and beset by strikes and protests, Now, today, I read that the UK’s Prime Minister – David Cameron, in case you’ve forgotten who it is – is facing turmoil at home as he introduces further ‘austerity cuts’ to the Conservative governments budgets. These on top of the “One fifth reduction in all departmental budgets” he introduced when assuming power in 2010.

Australia, up until now, has weathered the GFC fairly well but not without some impacts. We have experienced great reductions in self-funded superannuation returns that have effected the income of many retirees. Older Australian have been forced back into an ‘aged work force’, a ‘grey army’ of workers where previous administrators, accountants, teachers, etc and sundry professionals are working as shelf stackers in supermarkets to fund their continued subsistence-driven existence. (My Rhonda would love to retire but her income is the only thing that keeps our head above water and thank God we own our own home and cars and have no debts.)

This week the Bank of Queensland, a state-owned entity - declared a loss of $15 billion and I fear this is a sign of things to come.

Mining companies, once heralded as the saviour of the Australian economy, are shutting down operations and laying off staff as overseas countries cannot afford to buy (pay for) their goods.

Cubbie Station - Australia's largest cotton producer

Concerns have been raised over the Government's approval of a foreign bid for Australia's largest cotton farm, with Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce labelling it "a disgrace". Treasurer Wayne Swan has approved a consortium made up of Chinese and Japanese investors to make a bid for Cubbie Station, near Dirranbandi in southern Queensland. The station was placed in administration three years ago with debts of more than $300 million. Cubbie Station has man-made water reserves seven times the content of Sydney Harbour but this is reckoned ad only enough to get them through another two years if there is no follow-up rain in the tropical north.
Owning the “quarter acre block” with its three bedroom with en-suite brick veneer is a far disappearing Australian aspiration as many younger people accept the inevitability of the realisation that they will never be able to raise a family and be ‘home owners’ at the same time. Only this week it was announced that some 40% of Australian home purchasers, the majority those who purchased their first home after the GFC hit, are in serious trouble - forced to pay-off mortgages higher than the value of their property.

Those in this latter group are finding that they owe more in mortgage repayments then their home is worth in the market place.

I have met more and more builders and other tradesmen who are working out of their home, taking ‘cash jobs’ wherever possible, to earn and income and doing lots of small repairs, renovations and additions from those who have the cash to pay for such.

Latest Australian Tax Office reports are that more of Australia’s elderly pensioners – those lucky enough to qualify for a government pension and its prized health care, transport and other benefits like household rates reductions - do not trust banks and are holding their cash, in hand, at home so that it is not being declared and reducing their pensions.

It doesn’t look good for the world, in my humble opinion, and I suspect we are heading for another turn of the GFC “Screw”.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Lord's in the outback

This post will tickle the fancy of all cricket loving readers.

Cawkers Well now has a cricket club (ABC: Catherine Heuzenroeder)

"Elaborate plans are coming to fruition for bush cricket to be played at an outback cattle station.
The support of volunteers to make the unusual event possible has knocked the organisers for six.
More than 200 cricket-loving Rotarians from across Australia and abroad will make the trek to Cawkers Well, where a temporary cricket pitch has been established with the help of former Adelaide Oval curator Les Burdett.
The station, east of Broken Hill in far western New South Wales, has been a hive of activity as volunteers have established irrigation, turf and fencing at the oval, amid 1,000 head of cattle on the property.
The venture stemmed from a chance discussion between two Rotarians.
Cawkers Well station owner Charles Townsing and fellow Rotarian Des Watts, from Berri in the South Australian Riverland, were overlooking an old cricket oval at the station when Mr Watts made what he thought was a throwaway remark.
"I said 'We'll have a game of cricket while we're here' and I just said it as a joke then walked away, but that's what's happened," he said.
Mr Townsing and Mr Watts met when the latter was touring Australia on his motorbike and heard about Mr Townsing and his involvement with Rotary during a radio segment on ABC Broken Hill."

The "pitch" being prepared for the game:

It's an international game to be held at the station, we've got a team from India, from New Zealand and from each state of Australia and this just started out as a joke
Mr Watts decided to stop by the vast cattle station, 140 kilometres east of Broken Hill. "Out of that the idea was to have a motorcycle meeting up there because we're always looking for something different," Mr Watts explained. "Charles said 'I've got an oval over there, at the end of the airstrip' and I said 'Well, we'll have a game while we're there'."
The bush cricket will be held during on first weekend of November and proceeds of the event will support Rotary, Legacy, Variety SA and the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

When I worked "The wards" ....

The other weekend while in Sydney for Rhonda’s conference we had supper with a group of fellow nurses attending the conference – that is, they talked shop and I sat back and listened.

The topic got around to nursing those with dementia in a closed ward environment, which led to the risks that the nurses felt exposed to, which progressed to “assaults” upon their persons. This eventually ended up on the topic of ‘self defence’ and the need to teach nurses some basic self defence techniques.

Several participants mentioned courses and in-services they had attended which they thought were “good” – good meaning they came away feeling a little more reassured. The topic then focused on self defence and moved to the area of martial arts training.

After a while I eventually opened my mouth and made the comment “The best form of self defence is not having to use it in the first place!”

I could feel the silence. I was the only male in this group, I was a retired nurse, I was a 'guest' among that group and I had dared to intrude into their currency of ‘professionalism’.

I quickly added that in all my many years of working psychiatric wards, including in the prison system and wards for the criminally insane, I had only been hurt twice and on both occasions it was my own fault. I had gotten careless and I had dropped my guard resulting in an attack penetrating my ‘self defence shield’. The latter comment provoked some interest and I was asked what training I had received.

My training in self defence in dealing with emotionally disturbed persons was imparted to me by some very good and experienced senior staff nurses who bade me follow their example and stay behind them.

The simple rules were:

  1. Never isolate yourself away from a colleague or ‘buddy’ when in the presence of psychiatric clientele.
  2. Never allow yourself and your buddy to become caught in a geographical ‘blind spot’ where other assistance could not see or hear you.
  3. Always let your planned movements be known to others and when you expected to report back to the front desk.
  4. Always walk slowly and deliberately.
  5. Keep your voice level and well modulated – don’t yell or raise your voice, don’t let it quaver and always speak authoritatively and firmly.
  6. Keep your hands down and don’t make any sudden moves with you hands unless its to block a blow.
  7. When entering a room, keep the door at your back.
  8. When moving around that room always keep to the perimeter of the room as much as possible.
  9. Make sure you have a planned escape route.

Coming on shift we would take report. This always related to people who were causing some concern to warrant being in the report. The first thing you did after report was to check the medication charts of the people under report and ensure that their medications were current and had been given regularly. If they were on 'oral tablets only' you ‘yellow flagged’ them in your memory banks. Such ‘pill takers’ were often known to dodge swallowing them or regurgitate them soon after. It took up to thirty days for some tranquilliser to reach optimum blood level but this could be quickly dissipated by one or two days of 'missed medication'. You then checked what ‘prn medication’, that is that sedative or tranquillising medication ordered as “To be given when required or indicated”. You then ensured that this was ready to be given ASAP – either in a syrup form or as an injection if you were to require it. It was a waste of time running to a medication room, opening it, finding the medication, drawing it up and running back to the scene of any altercation. Far better to have it prepared and in a central spot like the nurses station.

It was always a sign that you were climbing the clinically proficient ladder when you were nominated as the lead nurse in a pair and a lesser experienced nurse was assigned to work with you. My first words to my junior colleagues was always to bid them:

Follow my example, stay behind me and learn from what I do!

Busy morning

Had to be at the Medical Centre by 8.30 am for fasting bloods to be taken and to have an ECG as part of the preparation for my yearly GP's Medical Management Plan - I have an appointment with the Nurse and the GP next Wednesday and they like the pathology done up front. The girls at the Laverty Pathology Clinic were really on the ball - I was first in and sat in the chair and they had the blood out of me before I even knew what was happening. I had brought along my 'overnight wee' specimen so all that was left was then quickly onto the bed for the ECG. The electrodes were whipped into place and the lass used a little scanner device to establish contact with those, dialled up a fax number in Melbourne and before you could blink my ECG was on the way to the medical specialists in Melbourne 900 klms away for reading.

All done, I was on my way in ten minutes. I went up to Woolworth's and bought six soft bread Frankfurt rolls from the hot-bake, a loaf of sourdough bread made with olive oil and garlic and four long frankfurters from the delicatessen - Hot dogs for dinner tonight as an easy dinner for Rhonda who is still on night duty and will be sleeping all day. I also bought four boneless chicken thighs from the delicatessen as they were 'on special' - more about them later.

Home and a quick light breakfast of a cuppa and some cheese and sliced meat on toasted sourdough bread with Rhonda before packing her off to bed for the day.

I had previously mentioned that we were switching our Digital TV antenna across to satellite using a VAST array decoder to the satellite dish. The decoder installed developed a fault and this unit was changed over today. We also bought a second decoder which will be going up to "The Camp". Our antenna guy has obtained a second-hand satellite dish for us and he'll be up to install the lot in the next few weeks.

The chicken thighs I bought in "Woolies" - making my own "Quick Chicken Soup" and cooking this to take up to "The Camp" - we are going up Thursday, Friday and Saturday - and I've frozen the loaf of sourdough bread I bought this morning to go with us.

Recipe, you ask?


4 chicken boneless chicken thighs, excess fat trimmed
1 large brown onion, halved and finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled, finely chopped
1 celery stick, trimmed, finely chopped
1 small can of corn kernels (you can use cream of corn if you prefer)
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbs finely chopped fresh continental parsley stems
6 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked
1 litre of chicken stock
3/4  litre of water
1/4 tsp crushed black peppercorns
Sea salt flakes to taste
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh continental parsley, extra


Dice chicken thighs into roughly 1 cm square pieces

Combine chicken, onion, carrot, celery, corn, garlic, parsley, thyme, stock, water and peppercorns in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for 40 minutes or until vegetables are very tender.

Taste and season with sea salt.

Serving fresh - ladle soup among serving bowls. Sprinkle with extra parsley and serve immediately.

Saving for later - will keep in a closed container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days, or, can be frozen for later use as it keeps well for 6-8 weeks frozen.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Things are "Just Ducky" over in Canberra!

A duckling demonstrates how to use the special ramp at the
Australian Academy of Science. Photo: Supplied

As the days get warmer, people are not the only ones seeking the sunshine: wildlife is also making a reappearance in Canberra.
Ducklings are finding their way out of the nest, crossing roads and entering ponds and pools.
Almost a dozen ducklings and their parents have already used a specially made duck ramp in the Australian Academy of Science's Shine Dome moat. The duck ramp was put in place after several cases of ducklings getting stuck in the moat, and in pipes, requiring the fire brigade's help to free them.
 ''Originally we had problems with them falling in and couldn't get out, and they would get tired and we had a few die. So we put in the little ramp for them,'' Australian Academy of Science acting chief executive Ben Patterson said. ''One year some of them had got stuck in the pipes and we had to call the fire brigade to rescue them.'' The Australian Academy of Science is not the only place that receives these spring visits.
Over at the Australian War Memorial the curators also find ducklings in residence around Remembrance Day.
Each year the ducks walk to the pool of reflection, and to keep them safe the war memorial has also built a ramp for the ducks to enter and exit the pool.
''It's called the duckboard. It's basically there so that the ducklings can get out and it's only there when we have ducks on the pond,'' building services manager Roland Trebesius said. ''We put barriers up to keep the public out and when she [the mother duck] shows signs of wanting to leave, we walk them out. 'Once I ended up walking them down Anzac Parade,'' Mr Trebesius said.
 It is planned to soon erect traffic signage on College Street in Belconnen after a concerned bus driver and passengers contacted Territory and Municipal Services officers about ducks crossing there. 
''I've seen them probably three or four times in the past few weeks … they get about halfway across the road and then a car comes and frightens them off,'' ACTION bus driver Brian McCallum said. ''I thought they go backwards and forwards all the time, so I got in contact with TAMS in order to get some safety protection for them.''
Territory and Municipal Services officers in Canberra will create a duck crossing in order to keep the birds safe while they file one-by-one across the road.

Reproduced from The Canberra Times with thanks:

Sunday, October 14, 2012

What IS going on in Detroit ???

Fox 2 News Headlines

"A Detroit paramedic says that he is being brought up on departmental charges after giving a blanket to a cold, elderly man, Charlie LeDuff reports for Fox 2.

"Something that would seem like a common everyday courtesy, something that any man or woman would do in the city of Detroit, give a freezing man a blanket, I'm being punished for it," said paramedic Jeff Gaglio. At a house fire two weeks ago, Gaglio gave the blanket to the resident, who was brought outside wearing only his underwear.
EMS Chief Jerald James told Fox 2 employees can't be allowed to give away state property of any kind without permission, though LeDuff reports the blankets were donated to the department.
The cash-strapped Emergency Medical Service is battling problems that seem larger than blankets. The understaffed department has to make do with out-of-date ambulances, according to the Detroit News, and brings in $8 million less annually than its budget, in part due to the large number of uninsured Detroiters who aren't able to pay for their services.
As usual, Detroit newsman LeDuff's eccentric style adds flair to the video, as he interviews Gaglio while curled up in his bed and wears a blanket as a cape in front of EMS headquarters."

For crying out loud - if the Detroit EMS is so cash-strapped for blankets, give me an address and I'll post them half a dozen, good quality, Aussie pure wool blankets. I'll even arrange for a wide red stripe to mark them as EMS blankets!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Spring Weather ...... Improving, slowly.

Not blossoms - Snow!

Wheeeee! Bungendore on the King's Highway to the coast

Tarago, near Goulburn

Bungendore, looking towards Lake George (middle background)

Blackheath, Blue Mountains.

Next week the temperatures are predicted to hit 25 - 28 C ( 77 - 88 F)

Friday, October 12, 2012


We had 28 mm (just over an inch) of rain overnight. We are having the coldest and wettest early Spring that I can recall. It was a day to dig that winter coat back out of storage. After reaching a top temperature of just 8.6 C at 4p m this afternoon, Canberra is on track to record its coldest October day in more than four decades.

The last time it was this unseasonably cold in Canberra in October was 1968, when the temperature got to just 8.2 C.

Dark day ahead … a surfer at Thirroul leaves the surf while a rainbow appeared over Manly Beach yesterday. The low pressure cell is expected to bring extreme weather to Sydney and southern regions this morning. Photo: Kirk Gilmour
There is a warning on the Bureau of Meteorology site:

Sheep Graziers are warned that cold temperatures, showers and southwesterly winds are expected during Thursday and Friday. Areas likely to be affected include the Snowy Mountains, Australian Capital Territory, North West Slopes & Plains, Riverina, Upper Western, Northern Tablelands, South Coast, Illawarra, Central West Slopes & Plains, South West Slopes, Hunter, Mid North Coast, Lower Western, Southern Tablelands and Central Tablelands forecast districts. There is a high risk of losses of lambs and sheep exposed to these conditions.Sheep Graziers are warned that cold temperatures, showers and southwesterly winds are expected during Thursday and Friday. Areas likely to be affected include the Snowy Mountains, Australian Capital Territory, North West Slopes & Plains, Riverina, Upper Western, Northern Tablelands, South Coast, Illawarra, Central West Slopes & Plains, South West Slopes, Hunter, Mid North Coast, Lower Western, Southern Tablelands and Central Tablelands forecast districts. There is a high risk of losses of lambs and sheep exposed to these conditions.
Weather Situation
A low pressure system deepening off the southern New South Wales coast will move north to north-eastwards along the coast today, before heading away to the east later in the day. A strong high pressure system near the Bight is expected to drift slowly east during the next few days, reaching the Tasman Sea by late Sunday. A weak cold front is forecast to cross southern parts of the state mid-week.


Snow in Wamboin in NSW (near ACT border) makes for a winter wonderland in spring. Photo: Amanda Axelby

Forecast for the rest of Friday
Cloudy. Rain, falling as snow at times above 700 metres this morning. Clearing by about midday. Winds southerly 30 to 45 km/h tending south-westerly 25 to 35 km/h in the early afternoon. Daytime maximum temperatures between 11 and 16. 

Morning rain.Canberra16
A few morning showers.Tuggeranong16
Morning snow showers. Windy.Mount Ginini8