Monday, January 31, 2011

Reflections on Sombre Music in News Telecasts

This is probably one of the imponderables of life - but having just had an update from a relation living in Queensland on her and her family's experiences during and since the floods I remembered something that really bugged me when the floods were at their height. No, it wasn't the way the television coverage recycled the same limited footage every few minutes - although come to think of it that was pretty annoying. Actually extremely annoying. A similar thing happened when Virgo was travelling overseas in 2005 and staying in a hostel located in the square where the bus was blown up in London. Unable to contact her, the last thing I wanted was same images of destruction endlessly repeated. All that did was make us worry all the more.

But that is a digression. What was infuriating me during the recent flooding was the way the television coverage - when not accompanied by a reporter desperately trying to extract a few words from people who were generally far too busy doing something useful to have the time to waste with the exception of the one woman who was interviewed at least three times - was the way they played sombre music as they shown the impact of the flooding. Yes, I do understand that you need something and if the filming lacked sound - although it would certainly surprise me if they couldn't have taped what was actually happening - given that television involves both sight and sound, something has to fill the gap. But this music was intrusive and distracting. I wasn't the only one who was annoyed by this. Queenslanders I was in contact with were equally irritated.

So a hint to whoever sorts out the background music: we shouldn't notice it. If you are watching a movie are you aware that there is music except when there is dialogue? No, I didn't think so. It's certainly there but it's subtle - and if they can do it surely whoever selects music for news broadcasts can do the same. Create and keep a library of appropriate music and they won't even have to think. Is that too hard?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

More About Doves

I know, I do go on about them - and, yes, they are feral, introduced and probably pests - but I kind of like them.

In my experience doves have only two uses for bird baths - to have a drink and occasionally to stand in them for a minute or so, presumably to cool down. I have never seen one actually splash and bathe - until now. Apparently nor have any of the other doves living around here because when one of their number plunged into the bird bath and started splashing a few mornings ago they all stopped drinking and stared. It splashed more, ducking its head under and flapping enthusiastically. They all pulled their heads back and pushed their chests out. It hopped onto a vacant part of the rim, fluffed its feathers, took a drink and flew over to the fence to fluff again. The other doves decided to ignore the whole thing. Some drank and two hopped into the bird bath, stood for a minute then hopped out. It was as if they collectively decided to show the errant dove how it should behave. It didn't work. It was back again the next morning bathing happily. Perhaps it will start a new trend.

Friday, January 14, 2011

After The Rain - Fundraisers for Queensland Flood Victims

It doesn't take long for folk to pull together in a disaster, does it.

Tehani Wessely of FableCroft Publishing has put together a limited edition ebook of After the Rain (the full version is to be released in April 2011) to raise money for the Queensland Flood Relief Appeal. The authors have donated their work and all proceeds will go to the flood relief. The list of authors is impressive so it will be a worthwhile read while you are helping those in need. Go here for full details including a list of contents.

Monday, January 10, 2011

What Do You Think?

The Family Court in Perth has legally separated an elderly couple, married for forty years and who want to remain married, because the wife has to go into full residential care. The husband has been ordered to pay his wife around $600,000 as a result and this may force him to sell the family home. See here.

I'm no lawyer but this seems to mean that a person's home (which is not normally counted as part of a pensioner's assets) can be taken away at the behest of the Family Court, leaving one partner potentially homeless, and that marriages can be dissolved without the consent or wish of the married couple. This frightens me. If it can happen to one couple does this mean it can happen to anyone - your parents or maybe you or me? Besides not everyone who goes into residential care is elderly. Does this mean that if say a young man is injured and needs permanent residential care but neither he nor his wife want to divorce, the Family Court could terminate the marriage and force his spouse to sell the family home? I don't know. As I said I am not a lawyer but it seems to me the decision raises all sorts of questions and in an ageing population I doubt if I am the only one wanting some clarification.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

El Nino and la Nina

My heart goes out to those suffering in the most severe floods in living memory on the Australian north eastern coast and moving inland as the river systems flowing towards Lake Eyre fill. We have had our own floods here in the West recently (around Carnarvon) but, devastating as they were to those who saw their livelihoods and homes disappear, they are not on the same scale as those happening now.

El Nino and La Nina. These grim children are the weather patterns caused by the Southern Oscillation in the Pacific Ocean which have dramatic effects on the weather of east coast Australia as well as other Pacific rim countries. They can be benign but, like all children, they sometimes tantrum and when they do they can be destructive and vicious. El Nino was kinder than usual bringing some rain instead of his usual dry weather but La Nina is showing no such restraint. She is pouring vast quantities of rain down on Queensland and northern NSW. The rivers are breaking their banks and engulfing whole towns. The loss in personal terms - of property and crops -is hard to comprehend and that we must be grateful there has not been more loss of life.

I don't think it has really registered yet for many Australians that this is going to impact on us all. Carnarvon in the West and southern Queensland are two of the major producers of fruit and vegetables for the country and we are all going to experience shortages as a result. One estimate I heard was that we can expect our weekly food shopping to go up by 35%. This is very worrying for those on low and fixed incomes. We usually grow most of our own vegetables but this year - Real Life having been less than kind to us - I hadn't got the summer food garden planted. Despite the heat - we've been averaging in the high 30s and up to 40 degrees Centigrade recently - I have now and, although the harvest will be less than usual, it will help. I don't think I was the only one with this idea. When we went to buy our seedlings the amount on the shelves was very sparse. Still we now have zucchinis, butternut squash and cucumbers, plus lettuce, nasturtium and snake bean seeds tucked up in their seed boxes, which is a start. Add to these lots of basil (think pesto stored away in the freezer for winter), parsley (curly and plain leaf), onion and garlic chives and things are looking up.