Sunday, 30 June 2013

Wonderful Sunday

Today feels wonderful. The exercise has finished at work. No extra shifts needed for a while. Two whole days off and both of them at the conventional weekend.

Meanwhile, somebody else had a different weekend. This road is one I often drive along. The speed limit is 100km/hr. How did the driver manage this little trick???

Saturday, 29 June 2013

USS Blue Ridge visits Darwin

This morning the USS Blue Ridge sailed into Darwin Harbour with all the crew standing on the deck. It was very impressive. There is a crew of 52 officers and 750 enlisted personnel.

The Blue Ridge is the command ship of the US Seventh Fleet and they provide support including IT and communications. I interpret this as spying, but I could be wrong. Spying, or surveillance, probably is rather important if you have a huge military force. I read that it also specialises in Logistics, which is more like moving people and things to the right place at the right time.

There have been three US naval ships with this name. This ship was launched in 1969 so is getting on in years. Nevertheless Blue Ridge is expected to remain at work until 2039. It's big and was moving quite fast this morning. The length is just under 200 metres and the beam (width) is 33 metres.

The Blue Ridge has just come from east Timor where it was involved in a training exercise with East Timorese and Indonesian sailors.

There are quite a few websites mentioning this ship and I found the following tidbits.
  • BLUE RIDGE carries enough food to feed the crew for 90 days and can transport supplies to support an emergency evacuation of 3,000 people.
  • BLUE RIDGE has accommodations for more than 250 officers, 1,200 enlisted men and 100 enlisted females.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Was it a coup?

Julia Gillard
who has been deposed as Prime Minister.
Here we sit with a political mess all around. I love my country and hope it will remain a haven of peace and opportunity for the people. But I am beginning to understand why revolutions happen. What has just happened to our democratic process?

Question: Who is running this country???
Answer: Journalists.
Kevin Rudd who had been Prime Minister
 and now is so again.

We had a Prime Minister.

The journalists who were too lazy to bother reporting real events decided to invent polls and say she was unpopular.
Did anyone ever actually take part in these polls? Not me. Not anyone I know. I truly doubt that they ever actually happened.
There is a law in this country called The Shield Law that protects journalists from identifying the sources of their information. I believe that journalists are hiding behind this law and now we have the result - a kick in the teeth for democracy and the ordinary citizens who vote for their politicians. I doubt that a significant sample of citizens were surveyed. I doubt the veracity of the polls.

Eventually the journalists created a wave that grew in magnitude. Screeching hyenas. Squeaky wheels that gain attention.

The Prime Minister was deposed.

A new Prime Minister was installed. Actually a previously-deposed Prime Minister who denied he wanted the top job. Hmmm.
These are possibly journalists. Playing jokes with the country.
Actually they are a troupe of clowns. So similar.
The photo comes from

The journalists are gloating.

I give it one week before they start again with the same game called, "Let's Invent Some News Because We Want All The Power".

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

What was I thinking???

Do you know this?

I laughed so much I almost stopped breathing. Hope it gives you some fun too.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Visit by the Dalai Lama of Tibet

We have been incredibly fortunate here in the Top End. We have just had a visit from His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, Tenzin Gyatso.

Here we have two cities really close together, Darwin and Palmerston. The mayor of Palmerston read that the Dalai Lama was to come to Australia for a speaking tour, so he wrote and invited His Holiness to visit Palmerston. The Dalai Lama agreed and said he wanted to meet ordinary people. Before long the entire visit was organised so that as many people as possible could see and hear this wonderful man in both Darwin and Palmerston. Tickets have been on sale for about six months and were not at all expensive. $33 for an adult, about the same as a meal in a mid-priced restaurant.

You probably know much about the Dalai Lama already, how he left his family as a toddler, was educated, became a religious leader, and became involved in politics.
With local celebrity Charlie Brown.

His Holiness spoke at several venues, strolled around the two cities, met politicians and dignitaries, conducted interviews for the press, and met as many ordinary people as possible. All who met him or heard him are impressed by his message of making the world a better place through peaceful behaviours.

Most people have a basic understanding of Buddhism, and so 8000 tickets were sold quite quickly. Yes, we do have practising Buddhists in our community but only a few thousand. Of course the talks were not all about Buddhism but more about facing the world through the Buddhist philosophy of peace.

The Dalai Lama spoke specifically about the Four Noble truths. I am sure you know about these. Firstly, Life involves suffering. Secondly, Desire is the source of our suffering. Thirdly, there is a way to end our desire. Fourthly, the way out of desire is to live according to basic principles.

Did I see him? Not really. I have been working unusual hours and do not get weekends off while this military exercise is in progress. Nevertheless, as I was driving to work yesterday morning I passed his entourage apparently heading for breakfast with the Administrator - four motorcycles and three police cars accompanying one car. Very safe, no fuss, no problems.
Part of the crowd at the talk yesterday afternoon.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Little Red Riding Hood 1922

Still flat out like a lizard drinking.

Saw this charming Disney creation and thought you might like it too. It is a very different interpretation of the familiar story. I think it demonstrates the incredible creativity of Walt Disney.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Life Advice powerpoint

My life seems a bit too hectic lately. Nothing bad, just over committed. A good thing in many ways. No time to feel old.

I watched this powerpoint presentation and found it both relaxing and challenging. Challenging?? Yes, it seemed frivolous and vacuous and outdated and foolhardy. Then I thought again and had to agree with the basic message.

I hope it gives you some good ideas too.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Verdi concert

The Darwin Chorale participated in a concert of Verdi pieces at the weekend. I sang with the altos and we performed the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves, the Anvil Chorus and Brindisi. It was lots of fun. Everything was in Italian this time.

Imagine us under the stars on a tropical night with palm trees and wildlife. Yes, the bats did make a bit of noise; they seemed to be enjoying the music. I am guessing that we had an audience of about three thousand. Some ladies were dressed beautifully in evening gowns. Some audience members wore jeans.
This was during the tech rehearsal,
when the technicians adjust the lights and the microphones..
The symphony orchestra has a new conductor Matthew Wood who has come to us from Covent Garden. Long way? He needed to be closer to his aging parents. Matthew is an inspiring conductor and he demands a very high standard. We all did better under his guidance.
James Egglestone

Emma Matthews
The guest soloists were Emma Matthews, a soprano, and James Egglestone, a tenor. I must admit that when James sang La donne e mobile I was truly taken to another world. He sang it to one of the ladies in the audience, and at the end of the concert he gave his flowers to her.

Emma wore the most amazing gowns, like a fairytale princess. She was the image of the dazzling opera diva, except she is totally charming and relaxed. Her husband and children were tagging along. It is nice to see that family relationships can still be part of the opera world.