My new home

Welcome to my new home.

I’m grateful to my previous benefactors that gave me free web hosting for my blog.  However, despite their express permission that I would be free to comment as I saw fit without any interference from them, I always felt the obligation to avoid posting anything that could be considered detrimental to them.  So, I grew up & moved into my own home.

I wish them every success in their future endeavours, and they are, of course, always welcome to visit and leave comments if they see fit.

The Reality of Voting in Australian Politics

I’m so fed up with the Americanisation (is that a word?) of our voting system.  Why the hell is there so much focus on the leaders of the 2 main parties (the Liberal/National Coalition, and Labor), and to a lesser extent on the “also rans” (e.g., the Greens)??

WE, as voters, do NOT elect the nation’s leader.  All WE do is elect which party we want to govern the country, and that party then elects one of their own to be the Prime Minister.

It’s about time the media (and everyone else) stopped focussing on the leaders and their attributes (or lack thereof), and started focussing on the policy platforms of the political parties.  The “leader” of the respective parties is nothing more than a mouth piece for the party policies.

Use your brains people.  Take a long, hard look at the policies of the various parties, ask the hard questions of your local representatives, and THEN make your decision on how you are going to vote.  Maybe if everyone did this and ignored the focus on what the party figureheads are doing will WE actually vote in the leaders that this country needs and deserves.

Still here – just resting

Bloody hell, time can fly past quickly when you’re not looking.

I’m astonished that my last post was in December 2008.  Life has been pretty hectic, and whilst there are many things that I’d like to have said my “two cents worth” about, time has just not allowed me to log on and have my say.

Ahh well, I guess that’s just the rapid pace of modern life.

Just an aside about the phrase “two cents worth” – I remember my Dad using the phrase “two bob’s worth”, a reference to the 2 shilling coin in use prior to Australia converting to decimal currency in 1966.  The 2 shilling coin became 20 cents on conversion, so is the current phrase a reflection of inflation?  Another phrase was “it’s not worth two bob”, which has been similarly deflated to become “it’s not worth two cents”.  I suppose “two cents” fits better than “twenty cents” as it better fits the rhythm of the phrases.  I wonder if the old phrases will fade into history and be lost?

Welcome back, iServ

Welcome back to iServ, one of Australia’s pre-eminent web sites on current affairs and political commentary.

iServ has been sorely missed during it’s short absence. Whilst many may not have agreed with the opinions expressed on iServ from time to time (and I am quite ready to acknowledge that I occasionally disagreed with some of the views of the site’s owner, so don’t for one minute think this post is merely a suck up to iServ), I think it is fair to say that the owner was fair in his allowance of freedom of speech to all that cared to make reasoned and considered comment. He always was, and I’m advised that he will continue to be, fair and reasonable in allowing commentary from all comers.

So long as one stays “on topic”, and does not attempt to denigrate the thread into a personal slanging match or some other diatribe that defies the intended aim of the site, then contributors have nothing to fear from the site’s owner.

N.S.W. – Getting grimmer by the hour….

One has to wonder what ever possessed Nathan Rees to take on the role of Premier of New South Wales.  If there was a job that was going to be a thankless task and a burden to one’s spirits and optimism, then I think being Premier of N.S.W. in 2008 has to rank amongst the top few.  I can only wonder at what carrots the Labor Party backroom boys must have dangled in front of Mr Rees to convince him to take on the job.  Talk about “sacrificial lambs being led to the slaughter”.

And in today’s papers comes news that Labor have further deserted their traditional supporters,  workers and their families, by deciding to stop subsidising free school travel for N.S.W. students.

Poor Premier Rees – he really is on a hiding to nothing. The only thing he has on his side at the moment is time. The next election for State politicians is not due until around 24 March, 2011 (the last full election was held on 24 March, 2007), so Premier Rees and the Labor Party at least have time to try to turn things around.

Even so, I think it will take nothing short of an economic miracle to save the Labor Government in NSW. Their past ineptitude has finally caught up with them – N.S.W. is a state in of dire economic circumstances, as evidenced by the cutbacks Premier Rees and his Ministers are having to introduce. On top of this, there is the current world economic crisis that is yet to be fully felt here in Australia. Things are going to get tough for Australians, no matter how much chest beating Prime Minister Rudd and his colleagues at Federal level do about how they’re taking action to mitigate the effects of the crisis on Australians. N.S.W is effectively bankrupt and doesn’t have the war chest of funds available to it that the Federal government has. Premier Rees and N.S.W. are going to keep getting hit, and hit hard, over the next couple of years, and N.S.W voters will continue to be reminded of their State’s dire woes right up to, and most likely beyond, the next State election.

On top of all that is the Australian voter’s penchant for not wanting the same political party at both State and Federal level. I think we will see a number of State governments change political persuasion as voters cast protests based on their perception of both State and Federal government’s handling of the economy.

As a resident of N.S.W. I can only hope we will see a turnaround in the State’s circumstances sooner rather than later, but, despite being an optimist by nature, I really feel it’s going to take a long time before N.S.W. is out of the economic doldrums.

The lake floods…

On 3 February, 2008, Sydney was in the grip of a major low pressure system that saw large quantities of rainfall across the entire Sydney metropolitan area.  There were many areas affected by flooding (thankfully, we were not unduly inconvenienced).  However, the lake across the road from our house rose to levels never before seen.  The lake is part of a stormwater catchment system designed to prevent the detritus of human occupation (read “garbage”) such as empty plastic bags and bottles, grass clippings, pet faeces, etc., etc., from finding it’s way downstream and eventually ending up in the Hawkesbury River. 

The lake is home to a number of different species of native water birds, and has even hosted a breeding pair of black swans (regretfully, they have taken up residence elsewhere – we suspect this is in no small way due to the visits by marauding & opportunistic pelicans that show up on frequent occasions.  And then there was the couple that used to bring their Labrador Retriever dogs to the park for training for dog trials and these people would blithely throw floating “toys” into the lake for the dogs to retrieve as part of their training regimen.  The dogs would end up swimming to the small island that can be seen in the photos, which would have been very unsettling for the swans and their brood.  These people were politely requested by several of the residents around the lake to not to let their dogs into the lake, and they were gracious enough to adhere to this request for a while, but eventually the dogs were back in the water.  These people and their dogs haven’t been seen at the park for some time now and that coincides neatly with the departure of the swans).

The swans still return occasionally for a visit, but rarely remain long.  Hopefully they will one day return to re-establish the lake as a nesting site and produce another clutch of progeny – there is something quite satisfying watching the adult swans majestically paddle around the lake closely followed by the troop of signets.  We see a similar thing with the native ducks and their ducklings paddling around the lake, but it’s just not quite the same.

🙂

Following are a series of photos showing the lake as it is normally, and how it appeared on 3 February together with a timeline to indicate how quickly the waters rose.

Photos 1 to 7 show the lake in it’s normal, non-flooded state, panning from right to left from our viewpoint.  Note especially Photo 7 and the small signboard at the centre of the shot.  This signboard, which shows pictures and a brief description of the types of water birds that reside in the lake for people to study as they walk around the lake, stands approximately 1.2 metres high.

Photo 1
Photo 1

Photo 2
Photo 2

Photo 3
Photo 3

Photo 4
Photo 4

Photo 5
Photo 5

Photo 6
Photo 6

Photo 7
Photo 7

And now for the same scene during the deluge…

Photo 8 – compare this with Photo 1
Photo 8

Photo 9 – compare this with Photo 2
Photo 9

Photo 10 – compare this with Photo 3
Photo 10

Photo 11 – compare this with Photo 4
Photo 11

Photo 12 – compare this with Photo 5
Photo 12

Photo 13 – compare this with Photo 6 (I stuffed up the focus on this one unfortunately – nevertheless, even though the intended focus area is blurred, you can get an idea of the water level)
Photo 13

Now then – remember the signboard in Photo 7?  What follows is a series of photos with a timeline to show the rise of the waters.  These all follow on from Photo 9, which was taken at 12.23 pm. (I regret that a couple of them are a bit blurred. It’s a new camera and I really am going to have to work on my camera technique).

Photo 14 – 12.27 pm (4 minutes after Photo 9)
Photo 14

Photo 15 – 12.31 pm (8 minutes after Photo 9) – notice the strength of the water flow has forced underwater the reeds that were visible in Photo 14 in front of the grid fence
Photo 15

Photo 16 – 12.32 pm (9 minutes after Photo 9)
Photo 16

Photo 17 – 12.34 pm (11 minutes after Photo 9)
Photo 17

Photo 18 – 12.37 pm (14 minutes after Photo 9) – going…….
Photo 18

Photo 19 – 12.40 pm (17 minutes after Photo 9) – going……..
Photo 19

Photo 20 – 12.41 pm (18 minutes after Photo 9) – goooorrrnnnn!!!!
Photo 20

Photo 21 – 12.52 pm (29 minutes after Photo 9) – long gone under, and the waters are almost smooth as the depth above the grid has almost negated the turbulence created as the water flows over the grid.  This was about the maximum level the waters reached, but I have no idea how deep it was as there is no flood water measure (like the type you find near rivers prone to flooding).  My estimate is that the water reached a level that was a little over 2 metres above it’s normal height.
Photo 21

Bat’s View undergoes some refurbishing

I decided “Bat’s View” was looking a bit jaded and old and in need of some work to make a bit more “fresh”, so I’ve been playing around a bit with the style sheet.

What you see at the moment is the initial result of my tinkering.  No doubt there will be some purists that deride what I have done as it’s now designed to take advantage of the increased size of monitors being sold/purchased with computers today, as opposed to those being sold a few years ago.  The entry level monitor these days appears to be a 17″ lcd, rather than the 15″ crt that was “de rigeur” not so long ago.  Therefore, I’ve optimised the appearance of Bat’s View to take advantage of the increased “acreage” available on these larger monitors (i.e., a native resolution of 1024 x 768 instead of the older 800 x 600).  Having said that, I’m currently typing this on a HP notebook with a 15.4″ lcd monitor, and Bat’s View renders perfectly across the screen without creating a need for me to have to scroll from side to side to see all of the post.

This change also allows me to post images in a higher resolution than the old 800 x 600 resolution would allow.  This means the images provide better, clearer viewing for the reader.

Further changes will occur as I learn a bit more about the style sheet and it’s effect on what you, the reader, sees.

I hope you like the changes.

UPDATE:  3 November, 2008 – I’ve done a bit more tinkering.  Hope you like the latest look.

Joke Number 5

A tour bus driver is driving with a bus full of seniors down a highway, when he is tapped on his shoulder by a little old lady. She offers him a handful of peanuts, which he gratefully munches up.

After approximately 15 minutes, she taps him on his shoulder again and she hands him another handful of peanuts. She repeats this gesture about eight times.

At the ninth time he asks the little old lady why they do not eat the peanuts themselves, whereupon she replies that it is not possible because of their old teeth, they are not able to chew them.

“Why do you buy them then?” he asks, puzzled.

The old lady answers, “We just love the chocolate around them!”