Sunday, May 17, 2020

Holed up in the mountains

In a time of pandemic, if you can't be on a small island off another island, then being holed up in the mountains might just be the next best thing. While there are some daily things I miss - coffee sitting down in cafes, a quite drink or meal out - in many ways life in lockdown is not all that different to how I lived before. Perhaps I need to take a closer look at what I really miss.

When Australia’s capital was established it was deliberately tucked away in the mountains, far from the coast and any likely threats, such as a Russian invasion – or possibly undue control from Melbourne or Sydney. A recent walk one morning round the foothills of Mt Majura, on the edge of Canberra, underlined that Canberra is indeed sited amongst the mountains, with views of the looming Brindabella Ranges in the chilly distance.

Brindabella Ranges, looking South from National Arboretum.

Now that we are under siege from a new threat – this time an invisible virus – this location seems somehow apt. If we didn’t have flights of politicians regularly materialising here we’d be insulated from most of the worst aspects of what passes for daily life in the rest of the nation, while still able to remember when we travelled elsewhere and what we liked most.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Raiding the pantry

A few weeks back I returned from a two and a half week regional road trip through Victoria to Adelaide and Kangaroo Island. When we left, people were being encouraged to visit fire-ravaged regional centres to help boost local economies. By the time we were on the way back everyone was being urged to stay home to help reduce the spread of pestilence. We had heard about hoarding and food shortages and we had seen the empty shelves, usually filled with toilet paper, everywhere we passed. As we headed home, I pondered exactly how long we could survive on what was already in our pantry – how many meals we were already sitting on as a result of routine shopping before that time of hoarding and excess.

A few weeks back my fellow traveller and I returned from a two and a half week regional road trip through Victoria to Adelaide and Kangaroo Island – all the good places, Strathalbyn, Penola, Dunkeld, Daylesford and Beechworth. How the world turns. When we left, people were being encouraged to visit fire-ravaged regional centres to help boost local economies. By the time we were on the way back everyone was being urged to stay home to help reduce the spread of pestilence. My favourite towns all rapidly emptied as we passed though – ghost towns of takeaways and hand sanitiser.

 At Daylesford, Victoria shut down - ghost towns of takeaways and hand sanitiser.

We had heard about hoarding and food shortages and we had seen the empty shelves, usually filled with toilet paper, everywhere we passed. One commentator asked if we were facing a coronavirus – or a moronavirus. As we headed home, I pondered exactly how long we could survive on what was already in our pantry – how many meals we were already sitting as a result of routine shopping before that time of hoarding and excess. Supplemented with what was still alive in the tiny vegetable garden, who knew how long we could survive.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Noise-cancelling the modern world

For Christmas this year I received a novel present – a pair of some of the best noise-cancelling headphones in existence. They are extremely effective. Given the state of the world, I am happy not to hear any of the noise it produces. It’s a pleasant shock to realise how much less frantic the universe around you becomes when you can no longer hear it.

Another smoky day in Australia

Reflecting this, I have turned off all personal social media for the last five days and I intend to keep it that way. Suddenly the flood of climate change denial, the nutty obsessions of radio commentators, mediocre politicians and armchair experts, the sheer insanity of just making up random facts, while ignoring the ones that already exist – all of it – becomes background noise.

As a bonus, the gym suddenly becomes no more than a faint hum. Many years ago I was asked in a survey by my gym at the time if I preferred more music or more videos. I replied ‘more silence’. I am convinced that all gym music is programmed somewhere in Gym Central and then distributed world-wide by one of those people who spend the rest of their time directing drones over Afghanistan to bomb wedding parties.

My new noise-cancelling headphones don’t make the world any better, but it is suddenly astoundingly quiet.

See also

Holed up in the mountains 
‘In a time of pandemic, if you can't be on a small island off another island, then being holed up in the mountains might just be the next best thing. While there are some daily things I miss - coffee sitting down in cafes, a quite drink or meal out – in many ways life in lockdown is not all that different to how I lived before. Perhaps I need to take a closer look at what I really miss’, Holed up in the mountains.
 
Raiding the pantry 
‘A few weeks back I returned from a two and a half week regional road trip through Victoria to Adelaide and Kangaroo Island. When we left, people were being encouraged to visit fire-ravaged regional centres to help boost local economies. By the time we were on the way back everyone was being urged to stay home to help reduce the spread of pestilence. We had heard about hoarding and food shortages and we had seen the empty shelves, usually filled with toilet paper, everywhere we passed. As we headed home, I pondered exactly how long we could survive on what was already in our pantry – how many meals we were already sitting on as a result of routine shopping before that time of hoarding and excess,’ Raiding the pantry.

Australia - 7-day weather forecast
‘A distraction from the heat, fire, and smoke that have become the new normal in Australia, Internet memes track the ongoing failure of our mediocre political masters. After a Christmas of bushfires, everything is black, particularly the humour’, Australia - 7-day weather forecast.

Feast of Stephen revisited
‘As Christmas seems to be speeding towards us once again – with all the hope it holds out for the survival of the embattled retail sector, it got me thinking. In ‘Good King Wencelaus’, that carol from my distant childhood, there is an intriguing line, ‘good King Wencelaus looked out, on the Feast of Stephen’. I thought, what is this feast, which happens to bear my name? When exactly is it? Well…it is Boxing Day. Now I do realise it, I am determined to celebrate it in the style it deserves’, Feast of Stephen.

Adjusting to reality #1 – peaks, troughs and snouts

‘It seems government allows just enough time to forget what it has done before it begins to repeat it. It would be easy to go along with popular prejudice and believe that the private sector is more efficient than the public sector. Unfortunately both are efficient and also hopeless in their own way. At least we get to vote about the broad outline of what the public sector does – and laugh at it. With the private sector, all we get is to laugh at it. Or cry’, Adjusting to reality #1 – peaks, troughs and snouts.

Internet memes – swirling around the virtual universe
‘Internet memes seem to appear and disappear on the web, digital visitors swirling around the virtual universe. Where they come from or who created them is hard to tell. There are no secrets or possessions on the Internet. Seeing some of these memes got me thinking. I thought perhaps I could produce my own memes and have some fun. Perhaps it’s the new future for the arts – social media postcards – but with humour and creativity’, Internet memes – swirling around the virtual universe.

Bring back the Romans
‘Our political system is having a lot of problems and lately I’ve been thinking that we could do a lot worse than bring back the Romans. Since they were around no-one has managed to do a good job of empire. The Americans had their moment but they seem to be making a real mess of it nowadays. Politically the Senate wouldn’t be much different. The Emperor Caligula made his horse a Senator and we’ve done better than that. So, no change there. No, on reflection it would be a good move. I think we should bring it on and the sooner the better. Now all we need to do is find some Romans and get the ball rolling’, Bring back the Romans.

Wide brown landing
‘Some days you realise suddenly that Canberra was deliberately located in the mountains. Perhaps it was fear of Russian invasion - imperial rather than communist. Perhaps it was to avoid overlap with the two warring imperial powers of the time - NSW and Victoria. Whatever the reason, Canberra sits well up on the top of Australia, on the long road up to the Snowy Mountains, where Australia finally reaches its peak. I've made two unsuccessful attempts to see the National Arboretum, finding the gates locked and no way in. Yesterday on a cold Canberra day I finally found the it open, thanks to Canberra's annual festival of flowers, Floriade. I'd finally made a successful landing at the Arboretum. I was very impressed’, Wide brown landing.

Cures for the common cold
'Even in the heart of the modern world, down in the deep streets of contemporary urban life, folk medicine is still strong. Have you noticed when you mention you have a cold, how everyone within listening distance starts to list off the various fool-proof remedies which are certain to cure you, or at the very least make you feel human again', Cures for the common cold.

Articles in the series ‘The island to the North’

The island to the North – the islands to the North East
‘The awkward relationship between Tasmania and the island to the North is not the only clumsy relationship between islands in this part of the world. The history of the ties between the island to the North and the islands of the Pacific is even more troubled’, The island to the North – the islands to the North East.

The island to the North – turning the map upside down
‘Our geography teacher would turn the map upside down to make the point that we were conditioned to see Asia above Australia, implying that gravity was a factor in human migration patterns and to illustrate the Australian fear of the Yellow Peril, ready to pour down from Asia and inundate the almost empty island to the South’, The island to the North – turning the map upside down.

The island to the North – disappearing worlds
'Islands are easily overlooked – Tasmania is an island that periodically disappears off maps, sometimes there, sometimes not, at the edge of consciousness, at the end of space.' The island to the North – disappearing worlds

The island to the North – a nearby foreign country
‘Sitting by a roaring fire in a wintry pub in Tarraleah I found Tasmanians liked to call Australia "the island to the North". We are neighbours but sometimes I wonder if I am behind enemy lines’, The island to the North – a nearby foreign country.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Australia - 7-Day Weather Forecast

Ages ago I played around with a few Internet memes - it was fun and I thought I'd keep doing them. This is my latest. It's a distraction from the smoke and heat.


See also

Holed up in the mountains 
‘In a time of pandemic, if you can't be on a small island off another island, then being holed up in the mountains might just be the next best thing. While there are some daily things I miss - coffee sitting down in cafes, a quite drink or meal out – in many ways life in lockdown is not all that different to how I lived before. Perhaps I need to take a closer look at what I really miss’, Holed up in the mountains.
 
Raiding the pantry 
‘A few weeks back I returned from a two and a half week regional road trip through Victoria to Adelaide and Kangaroo Island. When we left, people were being encouraged to visit fire-ravaged regional centres to help boost local economies. By the time we were on the way back everyone was being urged to stay home to help reduce the spread of pestilence. We had heard about hoarding and food shortages and we had seen the empty shelves, usually filled with toilet paper, everywhere we passed. As we headed home, I pondered exactly how long we could survive on what was already in our pantry – how many meals we were already sitting on as a result of routine shopping before that time of hoarding and excess,’ Raiding the pantry.

Noise-cancelling the modern world 
‘For Christmas this year I received a novel present – a pair of some of the best noise-cancelling headphones in existence. They are extremely effective. Given the state of the world, I am happy not to hear any of the noise it produces’, Noise-cancelling the modern world.

Feast of Stephen revisited
‘As Christmas seems to be speeding towards us once again – with all the hope it holds out for the survival of the embattled retail sector, it got me thinking. In ‘Good King Wencelaus’, that carol from my distant childhood, there is an intriguing line, ‘good King Wencelaus looked out, on the Feast of Stephen’. I thought, what is this feast, which happens to bear my name? When exactly is it? Well…it is Boxing Day. Now I do realise it, I am determined to celebrate it in the style it deserves’, Feast of Stephen.

Adjusting to reality #1 – peaks, troughs and snouts
‘It seems government allows just enough time to forget what it has done before it begins to repeat it. It would be easy to go along with popular prejudice and believe that the private sector is more efficient than the public sector. Unfortunately both are efficient and also hopeless in their own way. At least we get to vote about the broad outline of what the public sector does – and laugh at it. With the private sector, all we get is to laugh at it. Or cry’, Adjusting to reality #1 – peaks, troughs and snouts.

Internet memes – swirling around the virtual universe
‘Internet memes seem to appear and disappear on the web, digital visitors swirling around the virtual universe. Where they come from or who created them is hard to tell. There are no secrets or possessions on the Internet. Seeing some of these memes got me thinking. I thought perhaps I could produce my own memes and have some fun. Perhaps it’s the new future for the arts – social media postcards – but with humour and creativity’, Internet memes – swirling around the virtual universe.

Bring back the Romans
‘Our political system is having a lot of problems and lately I’ve been thinking that we could do a lot worse than bring back the Romans. Since they were around no-one has managed to do a good job of empire. The Americans had their moment but they seem to be making a real mess of it nowadays. Politically the Senate wouldn’t be much different. The Emperor Caligula made his horse a Senator and we’ve done better than that. So, no change there. No, on reflection it would be a good move. I think we should bring it on and the sooner the better. Now all we need to do is find some Romans and get the ball rolling’, Bring back the Romans.

Wide brown landing
‘Some days you realise suddenly that Canberra was deliberately located in the mountains. Perhaps it was fear of Russian invasion - imperial rather than communist. Perhaps it was to avoid overlap with the two warring imperial powers of the time - NSW and Victoria. Whatever the reason, Canberra sits well up on the top of Australia, on the long road up to the Snowy Mountains, where Australia finally reaches its peak. I've made two unsuccessful attempts to see the National Arboretum, finding the gates locked and no way in. Yesterday on a cold Canberra day I finally found the it open, thanks to Canberra's annual festival of flowers, Floriade. I'd finally made a successful landing at the Arboretum. I was very impressed’, Wide brown landing.

Cures for the common cold
'Even in the heart of the modern world, down in the deep streets of contemporary urban life, folk medicine is still strong. Have you noticed when you mention you have a cold, how everyone within listening distance starts to list off the various fool-proof remedies which are certain to cure you, or at the very least make you feel human again', Cures for the common cold.

Articles in the series ‘The island to the North’

The island to the North – the islands to the North East
‘The awkward relationship between Tasmania and the island to the North is not the only clumsy relationship between islands in this part of the world. The history of the ties between the island to the North and the islands of the Pacific is even more troubled’, The island to the North – the islands to the North East.

The island to the North – turning the map upside down
‘Our geography teacher would turn the map upside down to make the point that we were conditioned to see Asia above Australia, implying that gravity was a factor in human migration patterns and to illustrate the Australian fear of the Yellow Peril, ready to pour down from Asia and inundate the almost empty island to the South’, The island to the North – turning the map upside down.

The island to the North – disappearing worlds
'Islands are easily overlooked – Tasmania is an island that periodically disappears off maps, sometimes there, sometimes not, at the edge of consciousness, at the end of space.' The island to the North – disappearing worlds

The island to the North – a nearby foreign country
‘Sitting by a roaring fire in a wintry pub in Tarraleah I found Tasmanians liked to call Australia "the island to the North". We are neighbours but sometimes I wonder if I am behind enemy lines’, The island to the North – a nearby foreign country.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Feast of Stephen revisited

As Christmas seems to be speeding towards us once again – with all the hope it holds out for the survival of the embattled retail sector, it got me thinking. I once had a friend whose birthday was on Boxing Day – as you can imagine, this made her less than happy.

Italian doughnuts with sugar.

At the same time, I had long been fascinated by the Christmas carol ‘Good King Wencelaus’. This is not because I have any sort of religious attachment to Christmas. For me it’s one of the great secular celebrations of Australian life. Those whingers who complain that Muslims want to stop us celebrating the true message of Christmas have obviously not realised that commercial imperatives have already achieved that. Easter only just has time to finish before we are hearing about the looming approach of Christmas. The only thing more cynical is the way Mothers Day was manufactured to sell more greetings cards.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Adjusting to reality #2 – modern times, modern crimes

Modern times, modern crimes. The current dysfunctional world of Australian politics is beyond comprehension. It makes you wonder and probably drives you to drink. Unfortunately, unlike the far too many mediocre politicians, we’re not being chauffeur-driven there. It's beyond a joke, so a good way to talk about it is through the language of jokes. It's a world of short attention spans, media grabs and talking points, so I'm responding in kind.

Shooting yourself in the foot
With many of our crazier politicians today, it’s a case of shooting yourself in the foot and then putting that foot in your mouth.

'Fear everything' – sign of the times.

Tail wagging the dog
When I look at the present-day Government and its more wacko extremes, I often wonder if the tail is wagging the dog. But what if the tail actually is the dog?

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Adjusting to reality #1 – peaks, troughs and snouts

It would be easy to go along with popular prejudice and believe that the private sector is more efficient than the public sector. Unfortunately both are efficient and also hopeless in their own way. At least we get to vote about the broad outline of what the public sector does – and laugh at it. With the private sector, all we get is to laugh at it. Or cry.

Closed for maintenance
Travelling on the bus past the Department of Finance and Deregulation some time ago I saw that it was swathed in black for maintenance, since the old heritage building had been falling apart at the seams. I can’t think of a better metaphor for the whole sad and decrepit Commonwealth now the barbarians have stormed the gates and started ransacking the capital.

Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra through rain - on the way to the Parliamentary (or Bermuda) Triangle.

Forget, then repeat
Amongst the recommendations of the late unlamented National Commission of Audit was one to re-establish a new Indigenous Affairs department along the lines of the once mighty Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission. It seems government allows just enough time to forget what it has done before it begins to repeat it.

Peaks, troughs and snouts
Someone described the history of the public service as being a series of peaks and troughs. Unfortunately, add in many of our elected representatives and all the troughs seemed to have snouts in them.

See also

Holed up in the mountains 
‘In a time of pandemic, if you can't be on a small island off another island, then being holed up in the mountains might just be the next best thing. While there are some daily things I miss - coffee sitting down in cafes, a quite drink or meal out – in many ways life in lockdown is not all that different to how I lived before. Perhaps I need to take a closer look at what I really miss’, Holed up in the mountains.
 
Raiding the pantry 
‘A few weeks back I returned from a two and a half week regional road trip through Victoria to Adelaide and Kangaroo Island. When we left, people were being encouraged to visit fire-ravaged regional centres to help boost local economies. By the time we were on the way back everyone was being urged to stay home to help reduce the spread of pestilence. We had heard about hoarding and food shortages and we had seen the empty shelves, usually filled with toilet paper, everywhere we passed. As we headed home, I pondered exactly how long we could survive on what was already in our pantry – how many meals we were already sitting on as a result of routine shopping before that time of hoarding and excess,’ Raiding the pantry.

Noise-cancelling the modern world 
‘For Christmas this year I received a novel present – a pair of some of the best noise-cancelling headphones in existence. They are extremely effective. Given the state of the world, I am happy not to hear any of the noise it produces’, Noise-cancelling the modern world.

Australia - 7-day weather forecast
‘A distraction from the heat, fire, and smoke that have become the new normal in Australia, Internet memes track the ongoing failure of our mediocre political masters. After a Christmas of bushfires, everything is black, particularly the humour’, Australia - 7-day weather forecast.

Feast of Stephen revisited
‘As Christmas seems to be speeding towards us once again – with all the hope it holds out for the survival of the embattled retail sector, it got me thinking. In ‘Good King Wencelaus’, that carol from my distant childhood, there is an intriguing line, ‘good King Wencelaus looked out, on the Feast of Stephen’. I thought, what is this feast, which happens to bear my name? When exactly is it? Well…it is Boxing Day. Now I do realise it, I am determined to celebrate it in the style it deserves’, Feast of Stephen.

Adjusting to reality #2 – modern times, modern crimes ‘Modern times, modern crimes. The current dysfunctional world of Australian politics is beyond comprehension. It makes you wonder and probably drives you to drink. Unfortunately, unlike the far too many mediocre politicians, we’re not being chauffeur-driven there. It's beyond a joke, so a good way to talk about it is through the language of jokes. It's a world of short attention spans, media grabs and talking points, so I'm responding in kind’, Adjusting to Reality #2 – modern times, modern crimes.

Internet memes – swirling around the virtual universe‘Internet memes seem to appear and disappear on the web, digital visitors swirling around the virtual universe. Where they come from or who created them is hard to tell. There are no secrets or possessions on the Internet. Seeing some of these memes got me thinking. I thought perhaps I could produce my own memes and have some fun. Perhaps it’s the new future for the arts – social media postcards – but with humour and creativity’, Internet memes – swirling around the virtual universe.

Bring back the Romans
‘Our political system is having a lot of problems and lately I’ve been thinking that we could do a lot worse than bring back the Romans. Since they were around no-one has managed to do a good job of empire. The Americans had their moment but they seem to be making a real mess of it nowadays. Politically the Senate wouldn’t be much different. The Emperor Caligula made his horse a Senator and we’ve done better than that. So, no change there. No, on reflection it would be a good move. I think we should bring it on and the sooner the better. Now all we need to do is find some Romans and get the ball rolling’, Bring back the Romans.

Wide brown landing
‘Some days you realise suddenly that Canberra was deliberately located in the mountains. Perhaps it was fear of Russian invasion - imperial rather than communist. Perhaps it was to avoid overlap with the two warring imperial powers of the time - NSW and Victoria. Whatever the reason, Canberra sits well up on the top of Australia, on the long road up to the Snowy Mountains, where Australia finally reaches its peak. I've made two unsuccessful attempts to see the National Arboretum, finding the gates locked and no way in. Yesterday on a cold Canberra day I finally found the it open, thanks to Canberra's annual festival of flowers, Floriade. I'd finally made a successful landing at the Arboretum. I was very impressed’, Wide brown landing.

Cures for the common cold
'Even in the heart of the modern world, down in the deep streets of contemporary urban life, folk medicine is still strong. Have you noticed when you mention you have a cold, how everyone within listening distance starts to list off the various fool-proof remedies which are certain to cure you, or at the very least make you feel human again', Cures for the common cold.

Articles in the series ‘The island to the North’

The island to the North – the islands to the North East
‘The awkward relationship between Tasmania and the island to the North is not the only clumsy relationship between islands in this part of the world. The history of the ties between the island to the North and the islands of the Pacific is even more troubled’, The island to the North – the islands to the North East.

The island to the North – turning the map upside down
‘Our geography teacher would turn the map upside down to make the point that we were conditioned to see Asia above Australia, implying that gravity was a factor in human migration patterns and to illustrate the Australian fear of the Yellow Peril, ready to pour down from Asia and inundate the almost empty island to the South’, The island to the Northturning the map upside down.

The island to the North – disappearing worlds
'Islands are easily overlooked – Tasmania is an island that periodically disappears off maps, sometimes there, sometimes not, at the edge of consciousness, at the end of space.' The island to the Northdisappearing worlds

The island to the North – a nearby foreign country
‘Sitting by a roaring fire in a wintry pub in Tarraleah I found Tasmanians liked to call Australia "the island to the North". We are neighbours but sometimes I wonder if I am behind enemy lines’, The island to the Northa nearby foreign country.