Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Learning from pets

from w
I dislike the idea of locking up animals and birds in cages, but recently a member of our family bought a guinea pig and a couple of weeks later a small rabbit - which I hope is a miniature breed and won't grow larger. At first they got along fine, one following the other with love, but the rabbit has become more of a know-all and sometimes butts the quiet little guinea pig. I really hate bullying and it seems to be the situation - but only at mealtimes. Anyway when the chief cook and bottle washer of the family is out, I let them run around the lounge room where they really are able to leap and jump and run. I took some photos this afternoon of them. I've put a text on the photos - really for the grandkids.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Myers Street

from w
Some photos taken in nearby Myers Street East Geelong, and one of them is fractalized (if that's a word) and it's how I feel when I'm frazzled by too much going on in life as at the moment! One of the gimmicks using Gimp is called 'Cartoon' and it flattens the shapes and suits the effect I want - the one of the skyline is done this way. I can't find the other pictures I made this way - as they're lost somewhere in My Documents which is used by about six people in the household and they're are in the middle of a hundred downloads of music and so on.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Shopping in a mad world

from w
This isn't Geelong but it could be any kind of city in the Christmas or post Christmas shopping season. Crazy world we live in. All for an X-box. I dislike going into town this time of the year because of all the trashy items for sale that have nothing to do with the 'real meaning' of Christmas, which is actually about humility, poverty, and the birth of a special child. Expensive presents are really to do with sale pitches and the economy, not about spirituality and kindness.

An American woman who pepper-sprayed other shoppers during US holiday sales so she could get an Xbox video game console at a deep discount has turned herself in.

The woman surrendered at a police station following the incident late on Thursday (local time), which left at least 10 people injured on the biggest shopping day of the year in the US.

Her name has not been released but she has been described as being in her 30s.

"The investigation is still ongoing," said Los Angeles Police Department spokesman Bruce Borihahn, adding that the woman's name and eventual charges filed against her would be made public at a later time.

"We have several victims and witnesses that need to be interviewed to determine what appropriate actions need to be taken."

In Thursday's incident at a Walmart store in the Porter Ranch neighbourhood, the woman - trying to take advantage of low "doorbuster" prices on the Xbox console - turned a can of mace on other shoppers as the store opened late at night.

The woman was able to purchase the Xbox and leave the store before police arrived.
from the Geelong Advertiser:
Aussies set to spend $25bn on Christmas
27 November 2011 By Lema Samandar

RETAILERS are more optimistic about sales in the lead-up to Christmas this year amid predictions of another interest rate drop. Australian National Retailers Association CEO Margy Osmond said that over the next four weeks, Australians are set to spend nearly $25 billion. That's more $1000 a day for each person and a four per cent rise in spending from last year.

"The difference between this Christmas and last Christmas is that we've had a decrease in interest rates," Ms Osmond told reporters in Sydney on Sunday. "Last christmas the RBA put rates up just before Christmas and it killed it stone dead. This year I think people are feeling a little more comfortable. There's not any doubt that another interest rate cut will be right up the top of the Santa list of just about every retailer in the country." Ms Osmond said consumers would be looking for "experiences" among their gifts. "People are going to be buying lots of vouchers this year," she said. "It could be anything from a hot air balloon ride to a massage."

According to forecasts, this Christmas will also bring good news for department stores.

A survey by the retailers association found that about 35 per cent of Australians expect to shop in-store at a discount department store, while almost a third indicated they will shop at traditional department stores. About 13 per cent of people will choose to shop online, up 1 per cent from last year.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Foreign Affairs

from the Telegraph
In Obama's company, Gillard looks like she's won a date with George Clooney. Their encounters, the respectful gazes as the other speaks, the touches of familiarity, stand to bestow her with a statesmanship she may have lacked until now.

Obama does charisma like an actor breezing through an audition for a role he's already got. Like Clinton, his various styles of handshake merit a collection. Two hands for ladies, for example, head jutted forward, smile engaged. Or he applies the Mark Latham vigour - without the menace.

Of course, he's a honey compared with 'what's his name.from w
Smiling now, so Foreign Affairs in now a nice cup of Earl Grey tea for Julia. She once said that Foreign Affairs just wasn't interesting. Not that every Aussie is happy about USA bases in Australia! What does this development imply for our relationship with our near-north neighbours eh?

From the BBC
Barack Obama in Australia: Military ties on agenda

The two countries have a decades-long security alliance

US President Barack Obama has arrived in Australia for a visit expected to focus on strengthening military ties. During an address to parliament on Thursday, he is expected to outline plans for the US to gain greater access to Australian military bases.

He will also become the first sitting leader to visit Darwin, which is likely to see a boosted US military presence.

Correspondents say the US sees Australia as a key regional ally, a counter to China's growing presence. The visit comes as the two countries mark a 60-year security alliance.

He was greeted in the capital Canberra by Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

After talks, he and Ms Gillard will give a joint news conference and then have dinner together.

Mr Obama's speech to parliament on Thursday is expected to be the key engagement of his visit. He is expected to set out plans for a greater US presence in the region.

Jonathan Marcus
BBC Diplomatic Correspondent
Long a close ally of Washington, Australia is set to take on a growing strategic importance for the US as Mr Obama seeks to pivot America's foreign policy away from the wider Middle East towards the Asia-Pacific region as a whole.

Australia approaches China with a degree of ambivalence. Beijing is Australia's biggest trading partner. But China's growing military reach is seen as at least a potential threat for the future.

In his speech to parliament Mr Obama will set out his vision of a new Pacific century. A subsequent trip to Darwin on Australia's north coast will symbolise the enhanced military relationship between the two countries.

It is an attempt to offset Chinese influence and to ensure that Beijing's "soft power" remains just that and does not spill over into military assertiveness.

Later in Darwin, he will visit a memorial to honour US and Australian soldiers killed during World War II.

It will be the first visit to Darwin by a US leader.

Reports say that while Mr Obama is there, the two sides will announce more joint training exercises in the Northern Territory and increased US access to Australian bases.

Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith said expanding co-operation was an "important, practical" step.

"What we have in contemplation is greater utilisation of access to facilities, greater training, greater exercises. It will effectively be a continuation and expansion of what we currently do," he told Australia's ABC News.

Mr Obama has twice cancelled visits to Australia in the past - in March 2010 as he worked to pass healthcare reform legislation and then in June the same year amid the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

After his stop in Darwin, Mr Obama flies to Indonesia for a summit of Asian leaders.


Black pen, white paint

from w
Feeling a bit dismal today with a sore throat. I mainly kept a low profile after only an hour at Donation in Kind finding great books e.g. Ondaaje (spelling?) to send in boxes to overseas schools - by sitting around the lounge room adding white paint and black pen to some sketches I did some time ago. One of the beach at Anglesea, the other of a bend in the Werribee River below a golf club.

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Waiting at bridges

from w
Waiting at bridges - life is often about making decisions and as we waver or act impulsively the consequences are sometimes major. These days I dither a bit more, weighting consequences, imagining the negative, and then not acting at all. But life certainly is about taking the road ahead. I like the saying in the picture - something I probably found on a facebook post but don't really remember! I must go now to catch a bus - to buy a ream of paper to print out someone's memoir I'm helping with.

Then I just realized that fifty years ago (!) when I was twenty-three - in November 1961, I decided to go to Fiji on a Methodist Work Camp. I'd already planned to go with some young art teachers to Europe, especially Paris where we planned to paint and explore the art world there. However I was invited by a senior layman from a Bendigo church to go on a three week workcamp to a place I had barely heard of and jumped at the chance. I'd completed my compulsory three year stint at teaching at Bendigo High School. And from then on I became a teacher in Fiji and there were many bridges to cross after that! I guess we all make either hasty or calculated decisions which alter the direction of our lives. Fate, chance, a set path? I think it's a bit of a mystery and God is in this somehow.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Queenscliff and fish and chips

from w
Yesterday we drove down to Queenscliff, a pleasant little town half an hour's drive from Geelong. They have their own Council - a kind of snobbery perhaps? Lovely old hotels, plenty of boats, access to a ferry that goes over to Sorrento, and the best fish and chips shop opposite the beach parkland. We bought some fresh mussels also which I cooked today. Anyway, we made drawings of one of the lighthouses there and noticed there were a couple of dozen people fishing from rocks below us. Also a couple in the car near us were eating their fish and chips and the seagulls were investigating and hoping for a bite or two. We used to visit Queenscliff occasionally as guests of the Military guys at the Fort - at the time when Fijian soldiers did a short course there. Not these days though after coups and suchlike.

Queenscliff has sentimental value for me also as my grandparents brought their children to Queenscliff every January for a holiday - by boat from Melbourne. Also Grandad was in the Victorian Navy at one time working on a torpedo boat they say. Also my Dad worked for a short time on the couta boats in Queenscliff when he was seventeen until he decided that working with wool was to be his career instead of the sea.

I was given a letter from my grandfather Charles Lay to his girl in Melbourne, Francis. November 1893 probably when he was in the Victorian Navy. Signed 'hotheaded lover'! They did marry and my father George Lay was one of their children.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Keeping pets

from w
Well it seemed a good idea at the time, for our little grand-daughter to have a pet - not a horse that she wished for, but at least it's a creature to care for. A guinea pig which they named Izzie after the Hawaiian chap that sings 'Somewhere over the rainbow' with a ukelele. Well, Izzie got along fine, but was very shy. We'd take him out to the back yard to eat real grass and he'd start to sing a bit. When he saw a youtube guinea pig queeking, he'd join in. Then the family decided they wanted a companion for Izzie so this week a black bunny was purchased and joined the family. He hopped and smelt everything and the two got along, sort of. Izzie got quite excited at first and squealed and queeked a treat but Ozzie wasn't too interested in Izzie. Both boys by the way. One black. One white with a bit or ranga. Now they sort of get along, eat grass, carrots, celery, cucumber, etc.together. But, who has to clean out the cage? Hmm. Most members of our family of nine aren't so keen on that part of the bargain. Anyway, most people in the household appreciate the new guests though one of us reckons Izzie is too much like a rat for her to ever touch him!

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Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Giving to the poor but

from w
I think about this sort of thing often, about altruism, giving to the poor, band-aiding society,to 'live simply that others may simply live' - that kind of thing. But there is something more and that's when we need to ask questions about our society and what has gone wrong in the world. Then when we protest - verbally or physically (though I don't stand up in demonstrations these days) we may be labelled communists, anarchists, do-good Christians, bleeding hearts, bludgers with nothing else to do. Yet someone HAS GOT TO ask questions about the reasons for poverty. This pic and comment was posted on a facebook page.


Thursday, November 03, 2011


from w
By overlapping two images I made some new pictures - mainly of the mandorla (overlapping circles) pictures. They get complex and messy at times and hard on the eyes perhaps.

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A single flower

from w
I was surprised and delighted to find a single bloom on an ugly castus kind of plant. Then when I visited a place where the gang were cleaning an old restaurant I saw a hundred such blooms on a plant. I'd had been happy with the gift of one flower, then I was jealous of that huge bunch of flowers! I guess we are never satisfied when we see the achievements of other people and compare them with our own!