Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Lexi and her claws

I love our cat Lexi and I know she loves me. It's a give and take arrangement but I am not sure who gives and who takes.

When she was younger Lexi clawed furniture.

Now she only scratches one chair and one of my legs. Yes, my leg. It is her signal that I have been sitting for too long in her opinion. It works too.

We have a settee that has been badly damaged by Lexi's claws. And I am definitely not buying a new lounge suite until Lexi has gone to live in cat heaven. I'll just wait for another six or seven years.

I wonder what people do with furniture that cats have damaged.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Someone else's family

Today I have seen a few photos of the christening of Prince George, the son of Kate and William. I think this one is wonderful. It shows love, tenderness, pride, respect for the past and hope for the future.
Here are four generations of the same family. This is the line of inheritance for the monarchy of Great Britain, and thus the British Commonwealth. Elizabeth, Charles, William, and then George.
The baby is wearing a robe that has been handed down for generations. Everyone in this photo wore this robe for their christening. Laundering that heirloom will be a challenge I expect.

I did not take the photo of course; I found it on the internet after I saw it on TV. This family are a rather reserved bunch compared to other royal families, but see how like every family they are too.

Added later: I have since found out that the christening robe worn in this photo is a modern reproduction of the original garment. The old one was too delicate for use.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

I wonder, I wonder

My son studied law and has two degrees. Then he decided not to work in that field. "Oh dear", thought his mother. "At least he is well educated." His reason? The people he met who were working as lawyers were not the type of people he wanted to work alongside. Hmmm. I would have just found some different people in a different town or something; but ...  There are good and bad people in every line of work.

This came to mind when I read the following joke which mentions a lawyer.

I wondered about sharing this joke as it is rather disparaging. Certainly to tell such a joke in a workplace here would earn you a big reprimand.
Read it. It definitely made me think about several things while I laughed.

An engineer dies and reports to the Pearly Gates.

Saint Peter checks his dossier and, not seeing his name there, accidentally sends him to Hell.

It doesn't take long before the engineer becomes rather dissatisfied with the level of comfort in Hell.

He soon begins to design and build improvements. Shortly thereafter, Hell has air conditioning, flush toilets and escalators. Needless to say, the engineer is a pretty popular guy.

One day, God calls Satan and says: "So, how are things in Hell?"

Satan replies: "Hey, things are going great. We've got air conditioning, flush toilets, and escalators. And there's no telling what this engineer is going to come up with next."

"What!" God exclaims: "You've got an engineer? That's a mistake - he should never have been sent to Hell. Send him back to me." 

"Not a chance," Satan replies: "I like having an engineer on the staff, and I'm keeping him!"

God insists: "Send him back or I'll sue."

Satan laughs uproariously and answers: "Yeah, right! And where are you going to get a lawyer?"

Monday, 14 October 2013

Would you like rampant children with that?

This is one of the verandahs
at the cafe in question.
Lately we have had meaningful discussions around town concerning children and cafes.

  • Young mothers like to meet their friends at cafes. That's fine. 
  • They like to bring their children. That might be fine. 
  • The children do not always behave well. Some children are noisy. The other patrons become annoyed.
  • The cafe staff find the situation unsafe. Youngsters running about are dangerous while waitstaff carry trays of drinks and food to tables. This breaches Health and Safety regulations.
  • The cafe management tries to deal with the situation by requesting better supervision of the children. Polite signs are posted on doors. Parents are spoken to. Some people are asked to leave. The mothers scream and rant.
  • The press catches the story. Uproar.

Everyone wants this with their girl talk.
The general public supported the cafe management, staff, and owners. The recalcitrant mothers retreated taking their rampant little devils with them.

Now, the particular cafe where it all started is once more a quiet and relaxing place to enjoy a light meal and a chat. Other businesses around town are also reaping the benefits that come from well-behaved.
I am the centre of the universe.

I believe that visiting a cafe or restaurant is not a right but a privilege for children. Certainly there are times in modern life when a takeaway or fast meal becomes a necessity for families. But children actually have to learn the standards of behaviour that are acceptable in different settings. So do the mothers and anyone else who is with the children. Polite behaviour is not automatic.

The gardens are popular for weddings and parties.
Yes, that is a dinosaur scupture, just one of many.
One mother complained that she wanted to take her handicapped child (autistic) out and this was a cause of complaint. I really think that there was no discrimination in her case. I think that if child is unable to behave well in this particular cafe then she could take the child to a different venue where his behaviour would not prove intrusive to others. Maybe this child is not ready or is unable to go to a cafe at all for their entire life. It happens. After all I do not know the correct behaviours for a dog fight or a hiphop dance class, so I do not go. Some people avoid the opera and symphony concerts for similar reasons. There are many factors to be considered.

How do you feel when you go out and there are noisy and active children? What sort of allowances do people make in your area? How tolerant are you? Should the parents act before the children become amateur tyrants?

Friday, 11 October 2013

Solar Cars

We went to see the start of the Bridgestone Solar Car race last Sunday morning. There was a reasonable crowd at the beginning and more people lined the route. An orchestra played. Politicians appeared. Flags waved. Speeches. Cheers and applause.

The race was from Darwin to Adelaide, and has already been won. Less than a week.

Bridgestone, the tyre people, are the major sponsors of this race and there are similar events held in other countries at other times with other sponsors. There have been wonderful outcomes in solar technology as a result of these races and we will all enjoy some of those benefits at some stage.

There are scrutineers for each car to ensure everything is absolutely honest. I chatted with one girl who had volunteered to be a scrutineer, a biochemistry student from China.

Entries came from many different countries. Years back the entries used to be mainly from high schools, but time and costs have changed the race completely. There was one school with a car this year but most were from universities, usually the engineering faculty.

There are different categories. The newest group is for potentially family cars. Maybe some kind of hybrid car is a possibility.

The teams have to camp by the roadside each evening and keep going from the same spot in the morning. 

The rules now state that all cars must have four wheels. In the past some cars had three wheels to reduce weight, sometimes bicycle wheels.

Inside the cars are really empty in another attempt to reduce weight.

Do these solar cars go fast? Yes. The Dutch team actually got a speeding ticket because they were going over 130 km.

Here is a link to give more colour and information. Actually the reporter who did this story, Clare, is one of my daughter's housemates. There was quite a healthy contingent of journalists from several countries. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-10-10/dutch-team-nuon-winds-world-solar-challenge-adelaide-finish/5014254

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Time for a little pick-me-up

Lexi, the boss of the household
Our much indulged cat is having a whole day of blood tests at the vet today. Lexi is not responding well to her insulin. She was not happy about missing breakfast. Hugely unhappy.

I have been making a new quilt top for the very worn quilt on our bed. Used a pattern. Not quite the right size. Need to think carefully about the next few steps. I just love those patterns that say, "Make a quilt on one day". It never works that way for me. Very fortunate to have some time for this, just not today.

Tutoring my favourite student this afternoon. A sweet kid. Afterwards I get to battle bumper-to-bumper traffic full of tradesmen screaming home after work. They test the road rules. Yes, there is a speed limit, but it must be for someone else.

Choir practice tonight. Love that. We are rehearsing Handel's Messiah for a couple of performances at Christmas time. If you ever have the chance to learn this music then do it. So beautiful. By the end I am floating on air.

Somewhere in among that I need to fit my real life - you know, the one where the housework is done. Those invisible good elves must have forgotten where I live. Perhaps they spend too much time on their iPads.

So I saw this photo and wondered if I might have time for this. Never heard of the brand, but ...

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Not as smart as I imagined

A little while back I made a new shopping bag. I have learned something from the experience.

There is a panel on the side of hand woven silk from Cambodia and that's hand beaded. The floral fabric is from India. Inside I made a large zippered pocket on one side and two small pockets on the other. The big pocket is for a purse and to keep some shopping separate. The small pockets are for my keys and phone. I even added a row of beading around the top as a form of top-stitching. I thought I was so clever.

Not so smart. I decided on the size of the bag because of the beaded silk panel that I had bought. Big mistake. The bag does not fit on the packing spaces at the supermarket checkout. It also bumps into things because it is too long when carried over my shoulder. The zip pocket is useful but the small pockets are too high and when the bag folds the contents spill. My intention was that the bag would be washable but ironing it afterwards so it looks neat can be challenging.

I have learned lots. Consider where something will be used. Small beads and shopping bags do not work well together. Consider the housekeeping aspects. Shopping for meat makes a mess. Consider weight and mass. Phones should be placed where they will not accidentally fall on the floor. While the bag is definitely pretty, remember the adage Handsome is as handsome does.

So now I have a rather deluxe bag for holding unfinished craft projects.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

International Fleet Review

Last night we watched the broadcast of the fireworks dispaly from the International Fleet Review on television.

Wow! Tremendous! Fabulous!
It must have been wonderful to have been there and actually seen and heard it.

For anyone who does not know what I am talking about there are some good links from the various news services. The International Fleet Review is a naval tradition and celebrated 100 years since the first Australian Navy ships officially entered Sydney Harbour.
Some of the tall ships and a couple of sightseeing craft too.

On Friday tall ships from many nations entered the harbour. An incredible sight. Unfortunately it was a rather wet day so the ships had to motor in rather than use full sail. Traffic over the Sydney harbour bridge crawled along as people watched the spectacle.

Yesterday the war ships entered. So many. Such a huge force to be seen together. Sailors stood on the deck as a display of respect. Thousands of people watched from the shores.

Prince Harry reviewed the fleet and attended official functions.
Prince Harry performed his royal duties and charmed the crowd. He and the Governor General, Quentin Bryce, reviewed the fleet. The press did an excellent job of providing positive stories about Harry. He seems a normal sort of bloke caught up in a very non-normal lifestyle. Quentin Bryce gave many stunning speeches as usual.

Last night was the official display. We saw an incredible show beamed onto the roof of the opera house. Lights. Lasers. And the most enormous fireworks display you could ever imagine.

Our Governor General
Quentin Bryce
Was it a waste of money? Definitely not. I lived through the return of defence personnel after Vietnam. I lived with people who after World War II were told never to talk about those events and never to ask. Both those ideas were wrong. We do need to thank the warriors who work so we all benefit. They are all brave.

The Royal Australian Navy does not just fight in wars. They rescue people. They bring aid. They transport goods, equipment, and people. The RAN provides education and training to their personnel who later use that to make useful lives as civilians. The disciplined lifestyle gives a shape that people use in many aspects of life.

A lot of money is spent on the Royal Australian Navy. Tax-payers money. We do not get all this for free. Our money. Our people. Our lives. Our country and its way of life.  The defence force personnel as well as the Australian people need to thank everyone and celebrate. The International Fleet Review was a marvellous way to celebrate.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Tim Minchin

You may or may not have heard of Tim Minchin. I have only ever seen him on television but it seems he is much more than a musician. Listen to this clip all the way to the end. It is long, very long.


Thursday, 3 October 2013

Need a job?

We have some excellent supermarkets here in Darwin. Coles and Woolworths are the big players, but there are several smaller supermarkets as well. Unfortunately supermarkets do not pay as well as some other jobs around here, particularly those associated with mining, gas, and construction so as a result there is a high turnover of qualified staff. Many of the other staff are new immigrants as the big companies do their best to give them a chance.
This ad was outside one of the big Woolworths supermarkets this week.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Jamie Durie

Fabulous smile and dimples, Jamie.
Last night I went to a presentation by Jamie Durie. It was part of October Business Month here in the NT and was attended by about a thousand people. Jamie had done the same show in Alice Springs in the morning and the evening show was live streamed to Katherine as well.

Jamie Durie is a very engaging speaker and he spoke mainly of his business values. He briefly mentioned his earlier career as a dancer, and his studies. I noted that he was very proud of his extremely high marks for horticulture and landscape architecture.

Jamie still looks good for his age,
just not quite this good.
Jamie seems tall on television but in real life he is quite short, about the same height as me. I would guess he is about 170cm tall at the most. He demonstrated a couple of backflips, one of his trademarks. He smiles all the time, and it is a very nice smile indeed. During the presentation he walked down into the audience and spoke directly to people, joking around a bit. Afterwards Jamie allowed about half an hour to talk to and be photographed with audience members.

What did I learn? Jamie Durie works very hard. He is probably ADHD which helps him go without sleep. He runs a business with many branches and dabbles in many pies. I would guess he does not refuse any business opportunity. Jamie Durie is a natural born businessman, but he works at getting better all the time. Jamie Durie is a really good example to emulate of you want to succeed in business.

Here is a link to his home page. It is not perfectly up-to-date, but it is satisfactory.  http://www.jamiedurie.com/site/About_Jamie/about_jamie.aspx

If you feel nosy, here is his facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/jamieduriefb

Dancing with the Stars

Tuesday, 1 October 2013


This photo is from the University of Delaware.
I sit beside my student just like this and
we work on exercises that I write myself.
I am tutoring some adult students who want to improve their English. Very pleasant work. My students have all learned English overseas and now are working here. Their English is adequate for daily life but their employers want more.

I have been gathering some jokes that my students can tell and enjoy. These jokes are from many different sources. Some depend on idioms, some on different meanings of the same word. They can be explained to a person who does not understand the meaning.

Jokes are difficult to decode in a foreign language, because it is not just the language; it is about the way of thinking. For example, what is funny to a person from Vietnam is not necessarily funny to a person from Germany because the cultures look at life in different ways. Or imagine trying to understand a pun if you have a limited vocabulary.

Q: What is the longest word in the English language? 
A: Smiles. (There is a mile between the first letter and the last letter.)
Q: What's the longest word in the dictionary? 
A: Rubber-band -- because it stretches. 

Q: What is the tallest building in our town? 
A: The library. (It has the most stories.)

Q. What two days of the week start with the letter "T"? 
A. Tuesday and Thursday? NO, today and tomorrow! 

Q: What do you call a fish that only cares about himself? 
A: Selfish. 

Q: What has four wheels and flies? 
A: A garbage truck.

Q: What does a man say when he walks into a bar? 
A: Ouch! 

Q: Why did the chicken cross the road? 
A: To get to the other side.
Q: Why did the germ cross the microscope? 
A: To get to the other slide! 

Q: Why is it impossible to starve in the desert? 
A: Because of all the sandwiches (sand which is) there. 

Q: What's a teacher's favourite nation? 
A: Expla-nation.

Q: What did the undertaker die of? 
A: Coughin' (coffin)

Q: Do you know where people send a horse when it is sick? 
A: To a horsepital.

Q: What is the difference between a jeweller and a jailer? (Gaoler)
A: A jeweller sells watches. A jailer watches cells. 

Q: What did the doctor say when the invisible man called to make an appointment? 
A: Tell him I can't see him today. 

Q: What would the pig say when it’s tail was held tight by the farmer who had a sharp knife in his other hand? 
A: "That's the end of me!" 

Q: Ten copycats were sitting in a boat, and one jumped out. How many were left? 
A: None. They were all copycats.

Q: Why didn't the farmer cry when his dairy cow fell over the cliff? 
A: There's no use crying over split milk. 

Q: They travel all over the world but end up in the corner, what are they? 
A: Stamps 

Q: What flowers have two lips? 
A: Tulips

Q. Why did the golfer wear two pairs of trousers? 
A. In case he got a hole in one! 

A: What is the difference between a mail box and an elephant? 
B: I don't know. 
A: I'm not going to give you any letters to post then

Q: What does a bee say when it gets home to the hive? 
A: Hi Honey! I'm home!