Friday, January 30, 2009

A scorcher of a day and blackouts

from w
Yesterday was awesome - 45 degrees again, and phew - what do you do on a day like that! For one hour we had respite by going to the Newcomb library (which had airconditioning) to read the papers, and browse, pick up some DVDs and a book. Our house was like a furnace - fans not good enough. So about 6 p.m. we decided to go to Peceli's golf club for dinner (every Friday volunteer golfers put on a nice meal). Peceli had vouchers he'd won playing golf anyway to cover two meals. Great, it will be cool I thought. We arrived, talked to the barman for as minute, and the electricity went off! No more cooking chips, no more airconditioning! Anyway, I met some of Peceli's golf friends and we did have a nice meal. Then they rolled out a barrel - some gimmick they have with each golfer having a number for the year. The winner would get $190 as it hadn't gone off for 19 weeks (the winner has to be there at the time.) Okay, Pat Ratawa, they called out! Oh dear, and I'm a wowser and never buy tickets, I said to someone. Don't worry, it's not gambling, said another. So Peceli can pay off his golf dues now! And we've just had to fork out $700 to fix the car.

Then as we were leaving the lights came on again. But on the roads the traffic lights were off and it was very dodgy crossing major roads. When we reached home, our son said, the electricity went off an hour ago. Peceli switched on the water cooler and shazamm, it was on again. Seems like suburb by suburb they were switching off and on. Some people in Geelong did not have power for several hours so we were lucky really.

Anyway, an Addie reporter wrote this:
BLACKOUT: 105,000 lose power from city to coast
Michael Auciello
January 31st, 2009

DARK SIDE OF THE ROAD: Cars stream along a darkened and deserted Ryrie St last night after a statewide power failure forced businesses to shut their doors. Photo: BRAD WILSON

A MAJOR blackout left more than 100,000 homes and businesses in the Geelong region without power last night. Statewide, power to more than 300,000 homes was cut when two 500 kilovolt electricity transmission lines went down about 6pm. Homes and businesses were affected throughout Geelong, the Surf Coast and as far as Apollo Bay. Power was also cut right around the Bellarine Peninsula, from Ocean Grove, through Point Lonsdale and Portarlington. Little River, Bannockburn, Inverleigh and Anakie were also among the long list of towns hit last night.

Powercor said it expected the cause of the problem to be fixed about midnight. As the blackout hit, patrons at a Geelong cinema poured onto the street as films were cut. The city's usually vibrant heart was soon abandoned as restaurants, pubs and shops were forced to shut.

The blackout followed an order from the National Electricity Market Management Company (NEMMCO) for electricity distributors Powercor and CitiPower to cut 1000 megawatts of power. Powercor spokesman Ryan Auger said the amount was a "significant load to be shed from the market".

"We can only supply as much as is made available to us - 1000 megawatts is a significant outage," Mr Auger said.

Of course our inconvenience was nothing compared to the difficulties of others - stuck in lifts in Melbourne, stuck inside locked trains, and those who lost homes and property in bushfires in Gippsland. And then when we think further afield to Fiji - floods have caused disruptions there - no schools opening yesterday, electricity down all over Viti Levu, no water in Suva. Now that's really serious and the powers that be ought to get off their politicking and fix the essential services!


Thursday, January 29, 2009

More colourful succulants

from w
A few more colour variations of the picture of succulants. No longer the true colours of course. I wondered who else was painting succulants etc. and found this interesting website with some super paintings.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Yikes, it is so hot!

from The Age today.

from w
Breaking all records this week I reckon - it's gonna be over 44 degrees centigrade today. Four days of it. About 30 degrees C in the night. Very dangerous for bush fires and heat exhaustion. We only have a couple of upright fans and a moveable water cooler but they help. When it is 43.5 Celsius it is 110 Fahrenheit so that is todoay's temperature! In Geelong it peaked at 46.4 which is 115 Farenheit! Tonight it's a bit less thank goodness.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Garden pots of succulants

from w
It is too darn hot to go outside today, (going to be about 41 degrees they say and this week a four day heat-wave expects to break all records since 1908!) except I have a women's planning meeting in the afternoon and Peceli is waiting for a car mechanic to come and replace the gearbox. So I messed around with a small painting of succulants and Picasa did the rest. I wanted to get a kind of lead-light effect by outlining with a blue pen. Now I will go back to my book by Levy 'Small Island'.

I suppose I'm attracted to a very old-fashioned style called Art Nouveau which was mainly 1880 to 1900 so it is old! Curved lines, flat surfaces. Like Beardsly and Klimp. This is a bit from wikiledia about it:
Because of typical flat, decorative patterns used in all art forms, Art Nouveau obtained a nickname 'the noodle style' in French, 'Le style nouilles'. Visual standards of the Art Nouveau style are flat, decorative patterns, intertwined organic forms of stems or flowers. Art Nouveau emphasized handcrafting as opposed to machine manufacturing, the use of new materials. Although curving lines characterize Art Nouveau, right-angled forms are also typical, especially as the style was practiced in Scotland and in Austria. Typical for this style was artistic application of modern industrial techniques and modern materials (unmasked iron in architecture for example). Principal subjects are lavish birds and flowers, insects and polyformic femme fatale. Abstract lines and shapes are used widely as a filling for recognizable subject matter. Purposeful elimination of three-dimensions is often applied through reduced shading. Art Nouveau artifacts are beautiful objects of art, but not necessarily very functional.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Kung Hei Fat Choy.

from w
King Hei Fat Choy to you. Hmmm. I hope I got it right. It's the Chinese New Year, the same day this year as Australia Day, and there have been a few celebrations in Australian cities. Anyway, I found this drawing of a buddha statue in a garden that I posted a long time ago so I revamped it with a bit of blue and pink paint.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Australia Day or Invasion Day

from w
Today's a holiday and named as Australia Day by many, and Invasion Day by others, as they think of the arrival of pale-faced visitors to the shores. David Collins has written a first-hand informative account of this and here is an exccerpt.
An Account of the English Colony of NSW Vol 1

An excerpt

The governor, with a party of marines, and some artificers selected from among the seamen of the Sirius and the convicts, arrived in Port Jackson, and anchored off the mouth of the cove intended for the settlement on the evening of the 25th; and in the course of the following day sufficient ground was cleared for encamping the officer's guard and the convicts who had been landed in the morning. The spot chosen for this purpose was at the head of the cove, near the run of fresh water, which stole silently along through a very thick wood, the stillness of which had then, for the first time since the creation, been interrupted by the rude sound of the labourer's axe, and the downfall of its ancient inhabitants; a stillness and tranquillity which from that day were to give place to the voice of labour, the confusion of camps and towns, and 'the busy hum of its new possessors.' That these did not bring with them, 'Minds not to be changed by time or place,' was fervently to have been wished; and if it were possible, that on taking possession of Nature, as we had thus done, in her simplest, purest garb, we might not sully that purity by the introduction of vice, profaneness, and immorality. But this, though much to be wished, was little to be expected; the habits of youth are not easily laid aside, and the utmost we could hope in our present situation was to oppose the soft harmonising arts of peace and civilisation to the baneful influence of vice and immorality.
In the evening of this day the whole of the party that came round in the Supply were assembled at the point where they had first landed in the morning, and on which a flag-staff had been purposely erected and an union jack displayed, when the marines fired several vollies; between which the governor and the officers who accompanied him drank the healths of his Majesty and the Royal Family, and success to the new colony. The day, which had been uncommonly fine, concluded with the safe arrival of the Sirius and the convoy from Botany Bay--thus terminating the voyage with the same good fortune that had from its commencement been so conspicuously their friend and companion.
The disembarkation of the troops and convicts took place from the following day until the whole were landed. The confusion that ensued will not be wondered at, when it is considered that every man stepped from the boat literally into a wood. Parties of people were every where heard and seen variously employed; some in clearing ground for the different encampments; others in pitching tents, or bringing up such stores as were more immediately wanted; and the spot which had so lately been the abode of silence and tranquillity was now changed to that of noise, clamour, and confusion: but after a time order gradually prevailed every where. As the woods were opened and the ground cleared, the various encampments were extended, and all wore the appearance of regularity.
The whole book can be read on-line for a detailed description of the early 'white' settlement of Sydney.

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Friday, January 23, 2009


from w
Almost since the word was coined 'Wowser' - is where I fit. It's an Aussie word that means 'strait-laced, opponent of drinkin', smokin', gambling, etc.)From way back I won't have a bar of gambling. Drinkin' okay for others, not me. And No Smoking signs all over our house. But mainly it's about gambling. Why give money away with the minute chance of reward? Pokie machines in Australia are a blot on society I reckon, people wasting time and money on such a silly purpose. And when the PM Rudd gave out millions as a 'jump-start' to the economy, how much of it went on the pokies that day? Well, the stats are out. They called that day 'Kevin Rudd Thursday'! I agree with Tim Costello in his attitude to gambling - that it really can hurt many poor people. The pokie machines are in venues in the disadvantaged suburbs - of course!

from today's Age newspaper
Pokies binge follows hand-out
Jason Dowling and Marc Moncrief
January 24, 2009

CHRISTMAS came early to Victoria's poker machine operators with punters' losses soaring in December. Figures released yesterday appear to confirm anecdotal evidence that much of the Federal Government's cash hand-out was spent on gambling. In one of Victoria's biggest monthly poker machine splurges, gamblers dropped almost $250 million in December — almost $30 million more than the same month in 2007.

Last month, some Melbourne pokies' venue operators said turnover on the machines had been up by up to 40 per cent on the day of the hand-outs.

"We called it Kevin Rudd Thursday," a manager said.

The Federal Government paid out $8.7 billion in December, with Victorians receiving about $2.2 billion.

Single pensioner and seniors health card holders received a one-off $1400; every pensioner couple $2100; every carer an extra $1000 for each person in their care; and each family receiving Family Tax Benefit Part A an extra $1000 for every child in their care.

Opposition spokesman on gaming Michael O'Brien said yesterday the hand-outs had caused a "massive pokies binge in Victoria".

From July 1 to December 31, Victorians lost about $1.4 billion to the pokies — $46.6 million more than the same period last year and $29.3 million of that increase was in December alone.

Monash University health and gaming researcher Charles Livingstone said the big increase in poker machine spending during dire economic times showed some could not control their gambling. "Problem gamblers are likely to have got the money in the bank and gone straight down to the pub and put it straight into the machines," he said. He said gamblers clearly "put an awful lot of the money Rudd gave them into the machine and that is exactly what you would expect really".

Community Services Minister, Jenny Macklin defended the December payments. "The Australian Government took decisive action to strengthen the economy and we've encouraged responsible spending," she said. "We believe that most people have used the lump sum payments responsibly and in the interests of their families."

Victorian Government spokeswoman Rebecca Harrison said the sharp rise in December poker machine spending could not be attributed to the Federal Government's economic stimulus package alone.

"Gaming machine net expenditure figures fluctuate from month to month and we can't assume these variations are caused by a single event," she said. "While the Commonwealth payments may appear to be distorting the December data, losses are increasing at slower pace this year than last year."

Mr O'Brien said the increased poker machine spending would deliver millions to the State Government through taxes on gaming. "Really, Kevin Rudd should have just sent the cheque directly to John Brumby and cut out the middle man," Mr O'Brien said.

And here's some colourful meanings of the word 'Wowser'!
Aussie words


The term wowser — surely one of the most impressive and expressive of Australian coinages — is used to express healthy contempt for those who attempt to force their own morality on everyone. The person who abstains from alcohol (for whatever reason) is not thereby a wowser: s/he’s just probably very fit. But when s/he tries to force everyone else to do as s/he does, then s/he is a wowser. Or as C.J. Dennis defines the term: ‘Wowser: an ineffably pious person who mistakes this world for a penitentiary and himself for a warder’.

The term originally meant ‘A person who is obnoxious or annoying to the community or who is in some way disruptive’ and was applied, for example, to prostitutes and public drunks. Feminists and equal opportunists got the ‘wowser’ guernsey too: Truth(Sydney) (1902): ‘Another of his whims or freaks was to promise a number of wowsers of the "wild woman" type (to use a term coined by Mrs Lynn Linton) that he would supplant men in the Public Service with women’.These ‘wild women’ wowsers were seen as on a par with ‘the warrigal wowsers of Waine’ whom Truth(1904) castigates as ‘lewd larrikin louts’.

The shift to the present sense of wowser (to wit, a mealy-mouthed hypocrite, a pious prude, one who condemns or seeks to curtail the pleasures of others or who works to have his or her own rigid morality enforced on all) occurs at the turn of the century. The earliest citation for this sense in The Australian National Dictionary is 1900. In 1903 Truth bugles again: ‘He ridicules the mournful croakings of"the wasted wowsers" who denounce every earthly pleasure as sinful’.
It's a beaut word, isn't it?

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

May our homes be filled with dancing

from w
Lots of things are going wrong today! Even the Youtube song I have to learn to play by Sunday is going slow - like - 'may our homes........... be filled with ................. dancing!' Anyway the fun started when the car conked out in front of the Not Quite Right shop (it's been playing up at the traffic lights lately) - start and stop, start and stop, so with all the groceries we needed to get home. Luckily a friend lived across the road and he was home and came to our rescue. Meanwhile our son's friend is moving into one of our bungalows today for a few weeks because his rented house will be bulldozed soon, so all his stuff has to fit in, and all our junk out on the grass! So he's coming and going with a trailer. Now we need RACV (road assist) but our subs ran out last week, so Peceli borrowed our son's car to drive to town to pay the bill, then we can call them to come and see the old car still parked outside a bottle-shop! We do really need a new car anyway.

Peceli was printing out some sermon notes from the internet about fishing and the black ink wouldn't work, and red goes pink, blue goes yellow, etc.

So I just did a bit of muckin' about with yesterday pic of the cement driveway TO FORGET ALL THE TROUBLES. Then I'll try Youtube again and see if 'May our homes be filled with dancing' goes a bit better! Okay, we shouldn't complain about little things - some of our friends are having a really rough time in Fiji, and I don't mean cleaning up after the floods. Other things and it's very rough on some excellent people who are trying to live decently and speak the truth.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cement driveway next door

from w
The units next door are up and running, all leased out. Bill's wooden cottage was demolished in March last year and it's taken some time to build these four houses next door. The cementing of the driveway next to our fence was done this week. Lucky branches from our date palm didn't fall on wet cement! Today has been a dreadful day of gusts of wind from every which way, humidity, heat, and lots of dust. Several parts of Victoria have had bushfires as well.

The pictures are a quick paint job I did today plus photos of Bill's house last March, then the demolition. He was a nice old man, a jockey, and one time when he was ill and I called in next door, all he wanted was the local paper to check out the racing guide and he always sang 'Isa Lei' when he met Peceli for some reason or other! After Bill died his grandson lived in the cottage and then decided to pull it down and build four units. Not much room for a garden though each unit has a lovely big green bin for recycling garden trimmings!

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Shells and a bowl of mangoes

from w
From a photo I took last week of shells in a bowl, and a blue biro drawing I did last night, I made up a few pics and put them together - just messing around.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Screenprint of Obama

from w
A year ago perhaps this was the screen printed poster by Shepard Fairey of Obama. Congratulations Mr President. We were up at 3.30 a.m. to watch the Inauguration Ceremony so now it's morning and it is time to catch up on some sleep!

(Later) - So then after 1 p.m. we watched the concert for a couple of hours and what great music there was, and words spoken, but by then I think I was Barackobamaed out! It made me contrast how Aussies celebrate and think about nationalism and leaders. We tend of make fun of some of it, don't necessarily respect our leaders, don't like our national anthem, would rather sing about a swaggie camped by a gum tree. Anyway, have a good day - and it has been a splendid one for millions of people, in USA and elsewhere. And I still like 'This land is your land' - I taught it to kids in Fiji in the 60s, changing the words a little!

(later again) I've just read a most interesting article about Obama's connection with Hawaii and Indonesia and stories about his early years. It now seems quite astonishing that he is now President considering the ramblings, unuual parenting and disturbances in his early life.

Maraniss, David (August 24, 2008). "Though Obama Had to Leave to Find Himself, It Is Hawaii That Made His Rise Possible", Politics, Washington Post. Retrieved on 27 October 2008.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

More pots and shiny floors

from w
Here are some more variations from a photo I took at a beautiful house in Greendale where we slept on Christmas night. Click on any picture to see enlarged. The shapes are the same, though sometmes cropped a bit, but the textures and colours are different just by changing the marks on the cyber-space picture. Very clever of the designer of Photo-edit which was based on a program from about 1997 I think to change the pixellation somehow. It was an image-editing application found in Microsoft Office 97–XP versions for Windows. It has been replaced with Microsoft Office Picture Manager since then, although some Photo Editor features are not available in Picture Manager. The editing tools include texturize, negative, gamma control, etc. It was based on HALO Desktop Imager by Media Cybernetics, L.P.

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

What is a miracle?

from w
Do miracles happen today? They say an extraordinary turn of events, being saved when in great danger, God's gift/grace/help in times of trouble. They are calling that pilot's handling of the situation with the plane above the Hudston River is a miracle. It could have been a 'natural' disaster caused by a flock of flying geese! Certainly it was an extraordinary incident of gliding a plane to a safe landing on water and all the passangers got out quickly, calmlyn and then rescued. On a wing and a prayer indeed. That pilot is certainly a hero. But 'miracle'? There are times when people are not saved, when prayers are not answered, so there is still a mystery about why, and why not, in this life. And there are times when, I believe, something happens that just cannot be explained by logical means. Perhaps in the case of the plane in the Hudson River, it was the skill of the pilot. Perhaps it was something that God was showing us at this time.

from Ian Munro in New York
January 17, 2009

HE IS a 57-year-old former US fighter pilot and a 29-year veteran of commercial airliners. And now Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger is a hero to this city and to the families of the 154 people whose lives he saved yesterday.

Flying an Airbus 320 from New York, he was not out of sight before he lost power. Unable to return to LaGuardia Airport, Captain Sullenberger kept the plane intact even as he ditched it in the Hudson River adjacent to midtown Manhattan.

Between buckling up and taking the brace position, there was less than six minutes' flying time for the 150 passengers on United States Airways flight 1549.

In that time there was a bang from the port engine and a shudder through the plane. The smell of smoke wafted through the cabin and almost immediately the plane banked as if to return to LaGuardia, before it straightened into a flight path that shadowed the icy Hudson River.

Captain Sullenberger provided the minimum of communication. His one instruction to the cabin was to prepare for impact.

"He told us to brace ourselves and probably brace ourselves pretty hard . . . everyone kind of looked at each other and said some prayers," said Jeff Kolodjay of Connecticut. "I said, 'oh man, we are going to hit the water'."

Other passengers described a few cries, the cabin settling into a hushed silence, and the longest two minutes of any of their lives. "For the most part it got really quiet," Alberto Panero told CNN. "I just said to myself, 'this is it, let's do it'."

Darren Beck, 37, a marketing executive, heard a thumping sound and then came the captain's order to brace. He said the flight attendants, still strapped in for the ascent, "kept saying, 'Keep your head down - brace for impact.' They said it over and over, chanting it."

What followed was an extraordinary, even miraculous, water landing - a jolt like a car crash, one said, like a ride at DisneyWorld said another - that elevated Captain Sullenberger to hero status. The plane took off at 3.26pm and was in the water by about 3.32pm.

Initial panic as water entered the rear of the plane subsided into an orderly evacuation once it was realised the plane was stable.

Within a minute of the stricken A320 settling onto the water, passengers began taking up positions on the wings. It was a near-freezing 0.27 degrees in the water, and even chillier out of it. Commuter and tourist ferries sailed to complete their rescue.

Molly Schugel, 32, who was in a mid-cabin exit row, said there was "definitely fear in the plane". But she and nearby passengers used their last airborne moments to scan the emergency diagrams on the exit hatch. "We were all studying the door, what to do," she said. "Every plane you fly has different handles. The guy next to me, as soon as we hit the water, he opened the door within seconds, and we got out."

No one stopped for handbags or coats. "People were just trying to get off," one man said, and, forgetting his life jacket, spent anxious moments clinging to the side of the plane until he was thrown one from a ferry.

On the wings, at first they were ankle, then knee deep, in the frigid water. The survivors fell into an eerie silence, said a North Carolina man, Joshua Peltz. "People were slowly pouring out of the plane and pushing us closer to the water," he said.

Mr Kolodjay, who saw a woman with a baby trying to climb over the plane seats, said passengers allowed women and children to evacuate first. The inflatable raft he climbed into was sinking before their rescue was complete. "It was intense. You've got to give it to the pilot. He made a hell of a landing," he said.

The ferries were joined by police and fire department boats, and police divers who dropped into the water to help with rescues. Most passengers were able to step directly onto the decks of the ferries, although several dropped into the water. The most serious injury was a broken leg suffered by a flight attendant. Several passengers were treated for hypothermia.

This was a "near-death experience" that, thankfully, did not end in death, Mr Panero said.

etc. etc.

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A picnic in the park, but not Manet

from w
It was a gorgeous day and very suitable for a picnic in the Edinburgh Park in North Fitzroy organised by my niece and her husband before they return with their children to France for another year or two. There were lots of our relatives and Bron and Nico's friends there. Edinburgh Park is a large park and today there seemed to be about fifty gatherings under the trees, kids playing cricket, riding bikes, lots of drinking, music, eating. Anyway we found 'our' group and had a lovely afternoon catching up with nieces and nephews and their children, making new friends, even meeting a couple were in Fiji a few days ago and had a story to tell. (See babasiga blog!) When I saw the numerous little kids I was thinking of my Mum, how wrapped she would have been to see the little ones, her great-grand-children.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Succulants photos this time

from w
I'm still working with a few photographs I took in the front garden - as if we are really botanically minded - not! Just a few pots here and there. However Peceli has been really tidying up many areas of the garden lately and is very protective of his flourishing pumpkins when it's hot weather!

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

leaves with holes

from w.
More stuff from the front garden. My Mum used to call this monsteria and I thought it was about monsters, but I looked it up on google and it's called - wait for it - split leaf philodendron monstera deliciosa. A delicious monster? Well, it will look like it once I've finished with my variations of it via the pixies pixillating the photograph! We have four of these plants in the garden. So here goes; from photo to a dream or nightmare!

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