Tuesday, 31 May 2011

River Flows in You

At our little group's concert rehearsal today we shared an introduction to composer Yiruma's River Flows in You, and tonight I find this acoustic guitar (finger-style) rendering of it by Yiruma's fellow Korean who was featured in this blog before, the youthful phenomenon Sungha Jung recently returned from a U.S. tour (say soong-ha-joong). I love the expressiveness.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Chainsaw cactus massacre

Had a chainsawing day today... wasn't meant to take up the whole day, and it didn't, other than the start and finish times. Somehow the work got punctuated by morning tea, lunch, nap, afternoon tea and... well, there you have the picture. The main massacre was the removal of the 7-metre flower stem of a giant cactus hopefully before its many hundreds of little fruiting bodies were ripe and determined to make lots of baby cacti. Savage prunings of one large almond tree (one of four) - I leave the almonds to the galahs - and a medium sized nectarine tree provided a reasonable amount of firewood logs now that my fireplace hosts a fire and will remain alight for much of the winter.

One decent-sized log keeps it going overnight if I'm lucky. The other reason for attacking that nectarine tree (one of three) was that it attacked ME at eye level every time I tried to get between it and the wall of the 100 year old  inground stone water cistern. I also cut back the dead trunk of an elderly pear tree (one of two) but have hopes that the remaining side limb will manage some fruit next year. I think that that tree - going back well before my tenure - has had a distinguished career. There are plenty of fine trees on the block which will outlast me by considerable margins.
A quiz for the adventurous. No prize... simply the honour and glory of being right. The bridge in the background, above, links which mainland to which island famous in song?

Answer: (inserted on 3 June). OK here's a clue. The Skye Boat Song. "Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing...".  Honorable mention to DB who says he's been across the bridge now linking the Scottish mainland to Skye, famous as the island route by which Bonny Prince Charlie made his escape from the English in 1746.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Adelaide cheapest? Check (it) Out

Did you see Friday's Adelaide Now piece on State capitals affordablility?

OK, so Adelaide has replaced Hobart as the nation's cheapest, 'bout 6.8% cheaper at the supermarket than our eastern state friends. Sadly, average incomes are 10.1% lower!  Read the article.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Brunswick not a Melbourne suburb

The mystery is solved, thanks to the Mays, of former Mays Nursery. They identified the lily in my garden which sprang up, for a first flowering in nine years, as brunsvigia. My dog-Latin recall suggests it's the word for Brunswick, but presumably not the Melbourne inner suburb of that name. Wikipedia says it blooms in late autumn, and is native to South Africa.

Here, on the other hand, also from South Africa, is a cluster of nice blue agapanthus blooms from my driveway last summer. I just thought they looked good beside the red of brunsvigia, but only on the page because the one doesn't come out until the other is finished in the garden.


Ufology - the study of or interest in UFOs. Actually a ufo is just an Object which is Flying and you haven't Identified it. Unidentified Flying Object. Right? So if the kid next door throws an apple core over your head while your back is turned (he was aiming for your head but missed) and you see it appear in your field of vision, that's a UFO until you turn around and notice the source. No big deal.

But we both know that that's not what is usually meant by UFO. I just watched a History Channel doco based on interviews with Bob Lazar, the electronics engineer who has said consistently for more than twenty years that he worked on the reverse engineering of craft "not built on Earth" for the US Defense Department in the notorious Area 51 in Nevada, which the US government still claims doesn't exist despite satellite imagery which says it does.

Who is right? According to others interviewed - media people and ex-air force personnel and astronauts - Bob Lazar was both well-credentialled and well regarded, until his tendency to talk with media had him kicked off the project and his life and that of his wife threatened if he did so again, as he has done. He passed polygraph tests with flying colours, but it was pointed out that lie-detector tests merely show whether or not one believes what one is saying. Hence, a deluded person will show up as "telling the truth", just meaning the truth as they see it.

For me the interesting thing is that such a TV program airs these days without the old smirk and ridicule factor - compare the treatment of  "crop circle" reporting pre-1990 and now. We the public are invited to keep an open mind more than was the case a couple of decades ago. Somewhat healthy, I suggest. Don't look to me: I'm a true believer in all things spooky from 'way back.

Two bits of Will-lore. It's still May, 2011. Several crop formations, first of the northern season, have appeared near Avebury, Wiltshire (hotbed of such activity) in the last couple of weeks. Curiously, the designs seems to be reminders of early-1990s patterns, less geometrically complex than some from 2000-2010. Make of that what you will. Update: this (again back to complex) formation appeared at Hackpen Hill, Wiltshire, on Monday 30 May 2011: it's too soon for articles to have been posted at this link. You can keep informed by going to the Crop Circle Connector website ...

And ufologically... well, I'll assert that I have witnessed unexplained aerial and silent night-time light movements on two significant occasions very different in kind, satisfied they were not either meteorological in nature or caused by known aircraft. And in 1999 I spent a couple of hours chatting one-on-one with ex-NASA scientist Virgil Armstrong whose story is not unlike Bob Lazar's and who claimed some knowledge of the Roswell event of the late 1940s. Don't be bemused by the name Virgil Armstrong - no relation of Neil Armstrong, and you might dimly recall astronaut Virgil Grissom. You have my guarantee that Virgil Armstrong was a whole 'nother person.

And flying saucers generally? Heck, they're pretty clunky. Now, if you want to hear about REAL space technology... feed me a couple of cold beers and I'll tell you.

PS Update on Rusty the Depressed Dog. He's feeling much better!

Monday, 23 May 2011


Yes, following the wet weekend I will wander around the garden and poke some nasturtium seeds in likely spots, to see what happens. Some came from a hanging basket of the little creatures last year and some from a friend's garden in Wayville the year before and remained in a drawer, slightly lost until a couple of days ago. Only slightly lost, because in fact they have turned up. AA Milne liked the alternative rhyming name mastershalum, which, to be frank, is a far better name than nasturtium. Consider it official.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Show Biz, Piano, Dead Mouse

Many thanks to all who sent me birthday wishes yesterday via various media, and the special friends who asked me to tea with its after-meal DVD viewing of the (starring) Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Will Ferrell and Uma Thurman 2005 version of The Producers, directed by Susan Stroman; hilarious and instructive as a How To manual for putting on a show. It is a remake of the 1968 Mel Brooks movie which starred Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel.

By co-incidence, since the wonderful gift was made months ago, a post-birthday piano arrived and crossed my doorstep at 9.15 this morning all the way from far-off Stansbury. Thanks handlers Shaun and Andrew. Big thank you, Lois. The instrument is a Waldorf upright, a veteran in the best sense, and with a beaut sound.

Those are all positives. Alas, the downside to household matters this week is the pong of dead mouse in the vicinity of the kitchen. Has to be that. I have yet to track to source, and there are issues of unloading and moving large bits of furniture. I have to admit I know of no way of de-ponging deceased meese other than by finding and removing the little sods.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Azeri moozak. Where does Europe end?

Tarnation! Here I was, gonna watch me some Eurovision Song Contest final tonight, Sunday, and they're saying it was won by Azerbaijan. Time zones are a mischievous invention to annoy us innocent TV viewers. Well, guess I'll watch anyway. I can always sneer at the twenty four losers in advance. Who sings anyway? In last night's semi-final it looked to be about tumbling skills, monocycles and long pointy hats.

And Azerbaijan? (I'll pause while you get your atlas out or do a Google Earth search.) Yes, there it is. Seems that Europe is creeping eastwards. Turkey, Israel already. Armenia.... give it a tick. How 'bout Kuwait soon? Nepal? Sri Lanka? Heck, here in Australia we can apply for Euro-song-citizenship. Besides, we're already honorary Danes ever since Prince Fred married our Mary from Tasmania.

Reason for watching... that's obvious. Get ideas for our own little singing group of well-matured citizens who enjoy dressing up and play-acting, only throwing in the singing as an optional extra. Just kidding. Our audiences insist. But we keep singing despite that. And if I sound incoherent that's because I am still in recovery from Friday's birthday tea (hey, three birthdays in the space of a week) with its alarming B-witch costuming, George Clooney movie, too much food, and Irish Cream.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Moonta Mines Museum

Nice one, Historical Societies of SYP, for today's bus outing to the excellent museums at Maitland and at Moonta Mines - and thanks Don Benbow of Benbow Buses. Actually, quite a few thanks ... Cheryl Bates and team who organised the day... Ian our remarkable train driver and interpretive guide on the little tourist train which took us on the 45 minutes circuit of the old Moonta copper mines' surviving surface structures (they closed in 1923). Likewise, much appreciation to all others who made it a friendly and interesting day-trip, starting and finishing at the Minlaton "Harvest Corner" which does duty as Tourist Centre and tea room, and purveyor of marmalades and other mysteries.

The Moonta Mines Museum was the town's primary school from 1878 to 1968, and there on the old Honour Board at the entrance appeared the name of Betty Evans, sister of my companion for the day. Now I think of it, the historical relics in the various museums and their exhibits were - rather scarily - nearly all items familiar to many of our bus's passengers, from our own childhoods. Any curators may well have eyed us circumspectly as possible exhibit material, but we managed to escape unmounted and unlabeled. Just wait ... I thought I heard them think ...we know where you live. You'll keep.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

scam warning

A friend, who is a retired IT professional himself, passes on this warning not to respond to scam phone calls which try to get you to give THEM access to your computer and then bill you for allegedly "fixing" virus or other problems on your computer. And how will you pay them? Why, they ALSO get you to provide your full credit card details. The spiel for these calls (often from call centres in India --- what a surprise) is that they have learned "from your Internet Service Provider (ISP)" that you've been having problems with your Windows PC. These calls may be "cold calls" using nothing more than listings in the white pages, or unethical sources such as lists acquired from list-owners who may well have promised you, "Oh, no. We never share your details!" Ha Ha.

Whatever. The simple action to take is to hang up. If you feel chatty, or are intrigued, and if the caller tries a porky such as the ISP yarn, just ask sweetly, "Who is my Internet Service Provider?" They don't know and can't answer that one. Another popular tactic for you, the one who objects to unsolicited calls, is to say, "Hang on, I'll go check" - something of the sort, or say nothing. Then simply leave the phone off the hook. The theory is that eventually they get sick of waiting, and meanwhile you have kept them, for that amount of time, from bothering and scamming someone else. If we all did it, scammers would be out of business quickly.

Others again swear by the device of letting them go through the speech about fixing your (Microsoft) Windows computer, and finally you say, "But I have a Mac", or else "Sorry, I use only Linux operating system" (pronounced linnux), and they are stumped. And others just swear.

It boils down to two things. Don't fall for it or give out personal or financial details. Hang up.

Report such nuisance calls to the police? If you like. The consensus, however, seems to be that that is useless.

Genuine online messages from Microsoft have useful warnings. Remember, these particular scammers are phone callers, not website owners. If asked for ID details, they may offer concocted names of companies, or contact people, or websites, which means you've already been talking to them for too long.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

A spin-off benefit of paper recycling

The weekend has begun very well. Not only did I recover sufficiently from yesterday's lunch at the Troubridge Hotel in Edithburgh, and the tiring planting of 45 miscellaneous seedlings in my garden, but I have just come back from the monthly Saturday morning paper-packing place for our Progress Association's recycling efforts. However, the real bonus has been that I found a longlost odd sock in the boot of the car. 

 P.S. Wiser souls have pointed out to me that the sock which turned up in the boot of the car was not, in fact, the ODD sock (left forlornly in the sock drawer) but the OTHER sock  :)

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Not a very Thortful movie

Good heavens Kenneth Brannagh, wotan amazingly specky film. Yes, I took advantage of an evening to kill in Adelaide yesterday - the business part of my one-night visit was over - and went to the big-screen showing of Thor, complete with 3D  and super FX. But it failed to grab me entirely, despite the enticing well-loved mythology of the Norse gods (grafted to the modern world via a thin science-fictional storyline). Clever ideas, perhaps, yet the whole effort is - and I am sad to be dismissive - a waste of space. Iotunheim (world of the Frost Giants); Asgard (home of the Norse immortals; y'know ... Odin the Allfather; Thor with his magical hammer Mjolnir; Loki); and Earth (Mitgard or 'Middle Earth' in the tales, but not named in the movie, I suppose to avoid confusion with Tolkien's Middle Earth - but guess where HE got it from)... these worlds are presented as three of the nine 'realms' in time and space, and the non-human ones are alien races which once interacted with our Earth. Well, I kinda enjoyed it by default.
Loki (the mischief-maker god/giant in the mythology) in this film is a suave bad guy, usurper of Odin's throne. Pity, I always had a soft spot for Loki as recipient of very bad press. The restless camera, or faked camera for those CG scenes, makes sure you can't actually enjoy the artwork: maybe like helplessly watching an out of control hyperactive two-year old for two hours straight, with the Exit door locked. My favourite character in the end, on screen for about ten minutes, was the destructive robot killer sent to Earth by Loki, a clear allusion to Gort from the 1950s The Day the Earth Stood Still all those cinematic years ago. Guess which film I think is the better one. Michael Rennie, one; Kenneth Brannagh, zero.

Actually, highlight of my trip was the chocolate eclair from the Ardrossan bakery.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

The redback spider as a pet

What are the merits of redback spiders as pets? Answer: there aren't any. Gwenda, full-time resident scriptwriter of a certain theatre group (or so it seems at times) may have to modify the 15 centimetre stage prop spider so that it is no longer in the menacing redback livery. I shall have to be tactful in the way I bring up the issue in case she sets the beast on me.

I am reminded of my second* most-favourite line in movies, in a moody monochrome work by Swedish director Ingemar Bergman, spoken by a demented character: "I have seen God. It was a spider."

* You ask? Well, my all-time favourite line is, naturally, from Fozzy Bear in the first Muppet Movie, as he drives through the forest. "Aah.... a bear in his natural environment. A Studebaker!"