Thursday, December 30, 2010

Vast areas of eastern Australia are or have been under flood waters while Newcastle has escaped any extreme weather lately.
The painting is The flood on the Darling (River) 1890 by W Piguenit. Art Gallery of New South Wales Sydney.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Pair of bizarre trees in Civic Park and the tax office corner.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

City hall at a tilt
next, nearby, after a Christmas Eve church service at Civic Theatre
next, in the park again
Lastly, in the park was the remains of a spit roast offered to any takers among the homeless and those in need.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Where's Wally style. Or Waldo.

A subway, with street art on the walls, takes you to sunny Newcastle beach.

Nearby, new buildings on the old site of Royal Newcastle Hospital enjoy views of the beach.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas 1941, WW11, card from Australian soldier in Malaya.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Here we have our longest day whilst others have their shortest coldest days- and how! We don't have twilight here and this week has been far from heat wave conditions - thankfully.

In what business can staff proudly  wear a T shirt that states my boss is a clown?
Think golden arches...Ronald.....

Monday, December 20, 2010

Italian panettone. Tall imported cake arrives in a special Christmas container.
I'll be shopping at Woolworths supermarket this week because they actually close the store on Christmas Day and Boxing Day which is rather civilized.  But, for all I know, they won't be alone with that arrangement. 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

It is shameful  that this country has an island prison full of prisoners in transit seeking a life in Australia. That's Christmas Island.
Light-hearted Christmas Island series of stamps for the festive season picture a gift bound by flowers native to the Island and a Frigatebird all part of unique natural heritage in those  tropical climes.

(See  The island once had its own postage stamps.
The island is a small territory of Australia, way off the coast, 2600 km NW of Perth WA,  and 360 km south of Jakarta Indonesia, with 135 square kms of land and a few people.

It is a prison in the middle of nowhere, but close enough to S.E. Asia to promote illegal ill-fated sea voyages by refugees..
It is all part of the broader picture of mass-migration and deserves a global response.
In discontinuity, without a global perspective, our leaders have been very mean spirited and have fostered selfish possessive attitudes when communities are objecting to the prospect of building decent facility for immigrants anywhere near them.
These are not words from a 'bleeding heart'. Sure, uncontrolled migration is undesirable but still needs to be handled by humanitarians. And despite the fact that some people may leave for a journey to Australia just because they can. 
The Howard government excised Christmas Island from the Australian Migration Zone meaning that refugees arriving there could not automatically apply for refugee status and a prison was set up there.
An undertaking we can be very proud of - not.  Leadership and wisdom beyond compare. I was full of disbelief at the amazing solutions undertaken by our governments.

Friday, December 17, 2010

School year finished this week for about five weeks summer holiday.
From The Cultural Centre building, if that's the correct name, where a ray of sunlight shone throught the big fig trees and the trees won't be removed following a change of plan by city council.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Our Christmas stamps are medieval this year.
Changes in the role of the Post Office and changes to our newspapers are two signs of the time that always give me a jolt.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Caption: This morning I went to sign my dogs up for welfare. At first the lady said, "Dogs are not eligible to draw welfare." So I explained to her that my dogs are mixed in color, unemloyed, lazy, can't speak English and have no clue who their Daddy's (sic) are. They expect me to feed them, provide them with housing and medical care. So she looked in her policy book to see what it takes to qualify. My dogs get their first cheques on Friday.........Damn, this is a great country!

At the risk of spoiling any humour, contemporary literacy education might lead us to take another look at the above put-down of welfare recipients. But a model that uses critical literacy like this is under attack as a postmodern fad.
Just like England and America before us, literacy education is debated, often in our newspapers, and a very readable book by Ilana Snyder enlightens us about the prevailing politics and ideology which are hugh. But, tell it to the teachers and the experts. Also, where has my sense of humour gone?

The Literacy Wars  Why teaching children to read and write is a battleground in Australia. Ilana Snyder. Allen & Unwin 2008.

Legend crane in a tight spot during work on infrastructure. They say our public works need renewing.. The blue Legend is often seen charging around town presuming it is the one and only.
  And work continues at the Stadium. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Fitness, leisure, summer weather. Swimming at The Forum (sic) Newcastle University.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Fast food developments.
High prices in supermarkets must be financing growth in construction of new supermarkets. (Another rant.) A suburb that had only one supermarket soon gets another and next thing, one or two more are planned for a population that has remained fairly stable (in size!). Competition is negated by the duplication of one supermart after another.
The cost of food is increasing faster than it seems it should.  A local MP was supermartket shopping in Mayfield recently and I wonder if she noticed the price tags. Increases are no way incremental but jump by forty or fifty per cent. That goes for rent and food.  At the same time, food is valuable and producers should be rewarded instead of current tactics.
Do prices bear any relation to the costs of production or to the nutritional value? No way. Prices are plucked out of the air. For example it can be seen that the very same batch of vegetables will have a different price tag each day or so and usually the figure goes upwards.
Apart from that, shelves with basic foods have shrunk and contrast with high profit, nutrition-less, gratuitous items occupying loades of space.
For those who are really, really struggling on a low income it is impossible to buy filling, nutritious, economical, basic meals for any length of time from our supermarkets. Old inexpensive stand-bys don't exist. Those male chefs in the ads have a lot to answer for!
Some of our Pacific neighbours literally live on boiled white rice and canned mackeral, (both fully imported and non-traditional), now there's an idea and more healthy in some respects. The 'golden arches' feature items under two dollars as another alternative!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Who shrunk the tug boat? Waratah and her two sisters Dorrigo and possibly Hexham are usually moored here. They are old, iron clad, and sort of unique and I know not what they do in the Port of Newcastle.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Servicing an ATM this morning. Syncronisity.
How embarrasing! National Australia Bank facilities were out of action today for an hour or so. Again.
Was it from those extra customers among the VIPs that have reached our shores?!  I believe Oprah and co have arrived to tour and film several shows.
Trivia. Well, savings were made when my card was rejected during the meltdown-shutdown. The sales person could not understand the failure so, I left the shop for a jaunt along Westfield's 'grand circut', then down in the lift (elevator), out the doors, into the heat-wave conditions outside, along the footpath (sidewalk), to consult 'witch' bank, instead.
No, there was no problem they said checking my card. No risk of rousing their curiousity about ATM failure. Why didn't I withdraw cash there and then? Was out to challenge the system I suppose.
I retraced my steps back to the retailer only to find my card was rejected again. No sale. And it was a nationwide glitch in the system afterall.  .

 Accommodation, Hunter Valley Vineyards.

 A door mat with words.
The building was moved to this location. It was a church property in a country town before . It is named Peppers Convent.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Shopping. Which is right way up?

Although I prefer strange alternative fashions, but most of the time wear anything going, there are a few prominant people who dress very well with splendid flair and in classic styling and on that list are Quentin Bryce (Governor General), Kristina Keneally (State Premier) and Cate Blanchett (Actress).  Cate is outstanding.
Allowing for the fact that Nicole Kidman dresses in a very different mode, most of the time she is far from 'looking good'.
Oprah is very stylish in a certain American vogue.
Julia Gillard (Prime Minister) dresses well but without much style or in the most flattering designs. All she needs is an expert who knows what's best to wear. Forget about personal choice just aim to look like a '  million dollars'.  Money can buy anything like that.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Is Oprah or her retinue visiting Hunter wine country?  A visit is rumoured but she has better security than the White house.  We need an OpraGate to breach security but would this lead to censorship and exile into cyber outerspace which has happened over revelations around top global issues and Oprah's visit to Australia is far more serious than all that.

Freedom of speech is at issue according to some who study web leaks. Are we currently matching China in matters of censorship of the search engines?
Not outdone yet, WikiLeaks is 'mirrored' on 76 web sites.

Newer faster broadband is very welcome providing the wisest method is chosen and the implementation is regulated by those who are one step ahead of potential fraud.
New broadband services are declared as of unlimited benefit to our society. But how good?  The global financial crisis was not averted. And consider the risk of empowerment of all and sundry. Hacking could knockout the essential service web sites as well as the controversial sites.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Under the dust is a Velocette. Is it an early cross between a scooter and a motor bike? Notice the mechanical levers - riding was a full-on endeavour. Hand gear change, horizontally opposed twin cylinders and water cooled.
Tomorrow the annual Toy Run for charity takes place and scores of bikers take part. An organizer was on the lookout for participants. Everyone is very welcome but I hear about a scooter rider who is unwilling to join the pack of big boys on Harleys and all the rest.   

Thursday, December 02, 2010

In memory of my relative: agronomist; tireless citizen; 96 years old; true Hawkesbury Agricultural College old boy. I never heard the name 'aggie' used by him!  Related through marriage.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Just another corner. In times past, The Carlton was a guest house for a traditional sea-side holiday, in Newcastle East, not far from the beach and the city centre. It was turned into apartments and balconies were added.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sometimes the banks are talked-up thus  'how fortunate we are to have a safe, well regulated banking sector unlike other troubled economies'.  Others indulge in bank-bashing.  Profit takers, gross salaried CEOs.
The ease of banking services cannot be denied but banks have access to our entire financial activities and have opportunities to charge fees for all of this "service".
Whilst our funds come and go from our accounts mainly 'on paper' alone, at arms length,  it means less likelihood of carefully managing our savings or our spending, and is a situation that really suits the banks and the consumer society.
When it comes to fees where are the economies of scale that could be enjoyed by customers?
Surely computers aid economies of scale. Not this time.
The National Australia Bank (NAB) has a serious computer malfunction and has failed to transfer salaries into customer accounts these past several days.
Is it a virus? a hacker? a competitor? At least no one has suggested the bank has run out of funds.
Santas about to join a walk for charity.
Mining can be a dangerous occupation and we think of those who have lost their life.

Some time ago an old mining poppet head was moved and displayed in the city.  This year it was dismantled and removed.

 The tower was cut in half and lowered.

The crane on the right works inbetween the left crane and the left crane's load.                                       

Friday, November 26, 2010

Just after nine. Lonely Planet correspondents must be in the grips of postmodernism. They have selected a controversial list of top ten cities to visit and include Newcastle as ninth overall.
Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, is one of those good destinations on the list.
Trivia. Wellington and Newcastle both have a somwhat similar prominant circular bee hive building, both have Lambton as a place name and both have experienced an earthquake.
On another tangent: often I don't understand what's written here either! Clues: notice the context, paradigmatically and syntagmatically and allow for synecdoche and metonymy!.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Almost nine. Thanksgiving is 'right and fitting'! 
Newcastle's on a roll' the top ten cities...Beckham and co due any minute...
Bring back the annual pub crawl in Santa hats - responsibly, of course. So infra dig!  
Picture is actually Saint Marys in Maitland.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Again we see nine  
Newcastle along with New York Tangier Tel Aviv Wellington Valencia Iquitos Ghent Delhi Chiang Mai are Lonely Planet's top ten cities to visit in 2011.
Meta-analysis tell us that the cities have a Spanish connection.Valencia is in Spain - doh!. Iquitos is in Peru, which was the centrepiece of the Spanish empire in the times of the conquistadors.
New York is home to over two million Hispanics (and 12.2% of North Americans are Spanish speakers). Tangier and Morocco have had Spanish involvement in their territories.
But only 225 people in Newcastle use Spanish in their home. 
Iquitos on the Amazon in Peru is some destination reached by air or riverboat. It has no outside road links or so I read. The region was exploited and exported vast wealth back to Spain. Then a rubber boom was followed by an oil boom. Interestingly, old mansions constructed by the rubber barons can be seen faced in glazed tiles. Tiles and ceramics: a splendid museum in Valencia houses a ceramics collection.   

(Some data is from a 'prototype' edition of Lonely Planet when the prospect of visiting South America was on my radar before more conventional options took over. South America on a Shoestring)  

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Nine o'clock...Ninth....

New York Tangier Tel Aviv Wellington Valencia Iquitos Ghent Delhi Newcastle Chiang Mai

What do these cities have in common? Nothing? Is it football? In fact, these are the top ten cities to visit in 2011 according to Lonely Planet's Best Travel. Ninth is Newcastle, Australia - no less!
David Beckham knows - he will be here this week plus LA Galaxy. Newcastle United Jets meet LA Galaxy at Energy Australia Stadium, Newcastle, Saturday night.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Husqvana....Stihl....legendary emotive words for combat against the lawn

Sunday, November 21, 2010

E-waste recycling yesterday.  The parking lot was like a moto-cross circut and we were 'flagged' into the 'pits' and surrounded and the drop-off was accomplished in record time.
E-thics. What leads us to participate in recycling? Why have any quarms at all about waste?  It is much easier to ignore these issues.
As a young parent I tried to take responsibility around matters of right and wrong, but, good grief, children learn from our example and from everything our community happens to value.
Now that I am older it becomes more of a mystery how children learn. Is there a role for formal education surrounding, dare I say, morality? And that includes education in all its guises.  How much guidance of children is good guidance? What are negative influences? Mentoring is a buzz word. Success equals morality?
Schools have new ethics classes to help fill a gap and, I guess, the subject will be suitably tailored for youngsters. Or is that dummed down? I've heard of experiential learning.
Get with it! Everything is relative. 
The increase in suicide in the young of this generation has a  number of causes. The glorious shift to individualism and doing your own thing is a two edged sword. There is no going back.
I imagine this overall trend provokes fundamentalist reactions, even violence, amongst those who don't want to go there...yet. 
Well, I suppose I will go and empty the recyle bin now.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bollywood and local children.

 Words we take for granted.