Thursday, June 30, 2016

Linky Links

Because these things either delighted or amused me - and, yes, I probably should warn you that sometimes it takes very little to amuse me. Also I do know some have been around for a while.

Long Ma the dragon - one of French company La Machine's spectacular large size puppets. If you scroll down on the page you can see it in action.

Dog and Australian magpie playing This brought back memories of the tame magpie we had living in our yard when I was a child. Maggie had sustained several injuries that meant she couldn't fly and she lived with us for a number of years protected from harm by her best friend - our dog.

Then this baby elephant at the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand having fun in a tub of water until Mum decides he's been playing for long enough.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Blood - Donating That Is

In the wake of the massacre in Orlando, Florida, there was a desperate need for blood donations and the US responded generously. After such horrendous killings and injuries it was wonderful to see people stepping forward to donate blood for the victims. Among those who offered blood was speculative fiction novelist, Jim C. Hines and he blogged about how he had thought having diabetes would preclude him from donating for many years and had recently discovered it wasn't a barrier.

I come from a family which has always donated blood. I have memories as a child of coming in for breakfast and finding my father wasn't there. He had one of the less common blood groups and had been called in during the night to donate blood to a newborn 'blue baby'. Like him I was a donor here in Australia until my health deteriorated and I was no longer able to donate.

Eventually I ended up on the opposite side of blood donation when I haemorrhaged when giving birth  and needed a blood transfusion. It just proves the point that you never know when something might go wrong and, as a recipient, I am grateful to those who had generously donated.

 Donating blood is a safe, simple and relatively painless process - no worse than a blood test really - and I'd urge everyone who is fit enough to consider doing it. You will be helping others and, who knows, but you might need blood yourself one day.

Saturday, June 25, 2016


I've been following the commentaries on what is likely to happen now a slim majority has voted to have Great Britain leave the EU.

There are several things that have surprised me The first is that this referendum has no force in law unless Parliament votes it in but it would, of course, be a foolhardy government that decided to ignore it especially given that around 72% of the electorate voted. This is a high voter turnout given that, in recent years the percentage of voters in General Elections has ranged from as low as 59.4% in 2001 to 66.1% in 2015. 

The second is that people are coming out and saying they didn't realise what the consequences of voting to leave would be. Apparently they went and voted without looking seriously at what they were voting for and only now they are facing up to the reality.  Yes, really.  This is something that will have enormous repercussions both internally in Great Britain and worldwide and many seem to have not really understood exactly what they were voting for if the sudden rush of Google searches on the subject is any indication.

Thirdly, this is much bigger than what will happen in Great Britain which goes way beyond national economic consequences and where there are already calls for a new referendum on Scottish independence and where Northern Ireland is also talking about other options. It is already creating huge uncertainty on money markets world wide because it changes so much.

And finally there is the alarming prospect of other countries possibly pulling out of the EU as well given Greece, France, the Netherlands and no doubt others already have parties advocating just that. What the consequences of that would be on the EU and the rest of the world who knows.

I guess we just have to wait and see how things develop but I, for one, am not expecting this to settle quickly and without painful collateral damage throughout the world.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Hmm. Not At All Sure About This.

Yesterday I was out grocery shopping. This is not something I enjoy but, hey, we all have to do it - and I was at our local Coles store if anyone is interested. I was focused on just working through my list, checking out the shelves to get out of there as quickly as possible when I looked up and there, at the end of one of the aisles, was a huge red sign with white printing that read 'Happy Ramadan'.

Now I'm not a follower of Islam and so I may be quite wrong but this struck me as bizarre. Is this an appropriate response to a time of prayer, fasting and self reflection? It didn't feel that way to me. In fact it felt like a cynical marketing attempt to cash in on a religious observance without any grasp of what it is about. I suppose there may have been one of those end of aisle displays where they place random goods they want you to impulse buy but it certainly wasn't obvious and I wasn't interested enough to look given I was already having enough trouble getting Pisces to keep moving. He's a man who likes to look at everything in search of new novelties and goodies as well as bargains and, as I'm more interested in speed, it can make for a stressful experience so we rarely shop together.

Anyhow, when I got home I looked up appropriate greetings during Ramadan and not one suggested 'happy'. Instead they were all about wishing for blessings like 'May every year bring you good health' or 'Blessed Ramadan'. Not a single 'happy Ramadan" appeared anywhere I looked.

The thing is I could understand if they were referring to the fast breaking feast of Eid al-Fitr at the conclusion of Ramadan when 'Happy Eid' is one of the acceptable greetings but 'Happy Ramadan' felt simply wrong.

I'd be interested in what you think, though. Was this appropriate or not?

Friday, June 17, 2016


We're in the middle of a Federal election campaign here and all Australians over the age of eighteen are required by law to be enrolled and vote. There are exemptions, of course, for those who are not capable for some reason but those reasons have to be compelling and every effort is made to ensure that those who can't get to a polling place have the opportunity to vote. We can register for a postal vote, vote early at a divisional electoral office and places like hospitals and nursing homes have mobile polling options taken to the residents while polling officers will even bring voting slips to someone who is unable to get out of a car to that person in the parking area. When my father became very physically disabled that was the option he chose although he could equally well have chosen to make a postal vote.

There are rules as to who can have a postal vote or vote early, of course - otherwise they might be swamped by those who want to avoid the lengthy queues that can form at polling places. Because I often have difficulty standing and or walking any great distance - and you can be standing in a long queue for anything between thirty and forty five minutes at my local polling place - I have exercised the early voting option for the last few elections. The trouble is that this year the rules have been tightened and I wasn't sure I'd be eligible any longer. As well, the number of venues where you can vote early in each electorate have been cut back so it was no longer an option to go to the temporary office at my local shopping centre. Instead I would have to go a considerable distance to one of two polling places, something that's not easy since I can't drive at the moment while I'm waiting on a knee operation.

What to do? So I phoned the Australian Electoral Commission to find out how I could get around this.  A pleasant young woman told me I fell into the postal voting category and told me how to get registered online. So now I'm waiting for my voting papers to arrive and then I have to vote and send them back. It won't spare me from the endless bombardment of politicians telling me why I should vote for them but at least I'll have done my duty and pleased I am to do it.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Well, That's One Tick Gone

I got a phone call from Virgo early this morning. She'd discovered a tick on her tiny baby's arm - they'd been out in the bush over the weekend - and getting it off without leaving anything behind was obviously going to be a two person job.

The trouble was exactly how we should remove it. The traditional methods involve either suffocating the little beastie with something like petroleum jelly or using fine pointed tweezers to grasp and twist it out. But these are not now encouraged because both have potential problems. Suffocating tends to cause the tick to inject more toxin before it either dies or backs out and there is a danger that some of its mouth parts may be left behind while with tweezers, unless you are very careful, there's a danger that you might force more toxin in while you are trying to remove it.

So what to do? Well apparently it's best to freeze the tick using an ether containing aerosol to kill the tick  and then either leave it to come out by itself or remove it with tweezers (or I suspect you could cover it with a piece of sticking plaster to pull it off although I have no experience in that working)). The problem was the baby is not yet two months old and so we were reluctant to use a spray on delicate baby skin.

Again what to do? So Virgo rang the Health Direct Help Line and they agreed we would be better to use a chemical free method. They suggested we loop a thread around the offending critter, pull it tight and lift it out. It worked. All that was left was a tiny puncture wound which we wiped with an alcohol wipe and covered with tape.

We're luckier here than those on the east coast because the ticks we have here are less of a problem than the paralysis tick that is found along the eastern seaboard. That doesn't mean they can't cause all sorts of problems like infection, lyme-like disease and allergic responses. They certainly can. My father became quite ill when a kangaroo tick hid itself in a fold of skin in his groin and caused all sorts of problems so I'm highly aware of how potentially dangerous a tick can be.

So we need to ensure that we take all necessary precautions to protect ourselves and our pets and there are some precautions that everyone can and should take if in tick areas. They are

  • wearing long sleeved shirts and long trousers and make sure that both are tucked in
  • wearing a hat with a wide brim
  • brushing all clothing before coming inside
  • using a DEET based insect repellant
  • check yourself carefully - and that includes groin, armpits and scalp
  • and pets should be inspected thoroughly if they go into tick areas and given tick preventative treatment regularly.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Island Dancers

There I was faffing about on Facebook as you do - or maybe that should be as I do - when a link to an Australian Aboriginal dance troop, the Chooky Dancers from Elcho Island (it's located off Arnhem Land in the far north of Australia), performing to Zorba the Greek turned up courtesy of my friend, Annie. It's certainly different and an interesting blend of cultures that you can see here.

It reminded me of a less formal and polished performance to the same music by some Tiwi Islander teens that I saw a while ago. It's great fun. Have a look.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

And Now It's Winter

Well, even if it wasn't June 1 it's pretty clear that we're into the coldest part of the year. Puss has been spending his nights firmly pressed against my leg whether I want him there or not and I've already had to dig out the fingerless gloves so I can type. This also means Pisces and I have already begun our annual battle over just what constitutes how long the heating needs to be on. He feels the cold much less than I do - and as I get older I feel it even more - so he thinks it's quite unnecessary to turn on the heater as early as I do or to leave it on as long as I think it should be on. I'll go out of the room for a short time and come back to find the heater and the ceiling fans turned off.

It's been frustrating for both of us but I have finally found a solution. Last summer I bought and installed a wifi thermometer which shows both the outside and inside temperatures. The idea was just to keep track of the temperature for my own interest but now I can show Pisces exactly what the temperature is in the house. Bear in mind that this is a man who has been sleeping under only a sheet until about a month ago while I had long since added a quilt on top of two summer blankets. He still feels the urge to turn the heater down but now he has had to acknowledge that maybe his perception of what is a reasonable temperature is not the same as everyone else's. In fact this evening he actually came in to ask me if I wanted the heater on so I think we're on the same page. It may have taken more years than I intend to mention but we've finally got there.