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.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

Jacaranda tree house this morning before rainy weather arrived. We get a touch of monsoon season in November/December.

There are signs we are a 'can do' society. Not at the whirl-wind speed of change in a Shanghi or where rip-offs and inequality are features - our country is not in that league because of its priorities and relatively small economy and, others complain, of mismanagement.  
Here are some done things albeit uninspiring. The electrical power service is in for an upgrade in this part of town, hence the cables pictured above.
A new stadium is taking shape after an eternity and with the advent of Beckham's visit, has one week to get finished before he arrives (so to speak).
A new bridge over the Hunter river and associated major rail crossing is forging ahead.
Rail infrastructure is targeted for upgrade. I have seen works near Tamworth and at Singleton; on the Maitland line and the Sydney and southern railway lines.
Where does a minor rail line into Newcastle fit into this scenario? An overall view is a good idea and radical reuse of what we already have to work with.
The state premier cycles to work in Sydney. Actions speak louder than words but not loud enough to save her government - they say.

Above, rail works at Singleton

Above, live stock sale yard and associated interests, Tamworth. Then, out with old hard-wood rail sleepers and in with concrete, seen beyond Werris Creek and also carried out on the whole rail network.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Water water everywhere... a salty quote.   The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner was on the syllabus in my school days.
No sooner had one coal ship (above) sailed and before the fish and chips were finished frying, the next ship arrived as shown yesterday and named Grafton - of all things. All the while the ferry terminal was hosed out

Friday, November 12, 2010

Modern and progressive. Be like every other place. No, the Hunter, could be different. Daring.
Instead of super highways promote good public transport. Take things in hand right now.
End traffic jams on the New England highway with good strategies that turn the daily exodus into an enjoyable sustainable experience by better public transport. 
Unlimited investment in concrete and roads might be turned around, ceased, deceased.  Expanses of land and nature left forever free with abundant natural life, instead of existing efforts that give the green light to suburb after suburb, strung out, dependent on highway as the alpha and the omega .  
It was remiss of me to fail to read a masterplan for the Hunter recently published, perhaps all is in hand! No worries!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

 Maitland. Which is the Hunter river and which is the path?
Mr Close found the country a dense bush, covered with scrub and ancient trees, whose arched branches almost concealed the river, and whose leafy boughs were so impervious to light that to walk beneath them, even in broad daylight, was like walking in the dimness of twilight. This dense forest and bush land Mr.Close set to work to clear, ... and the result of his labours now is before us in fertile meads and peaceful habitation.
These lines refer to nearby Morpeth where the alluvial flats have been cleared of trees and scrub. Imagine the cedar trees that once grew along the river valleys. What will future generations think of our land-use here and now?
Maitland  (Newcastle etc) needs to go high rise. Naturally there is demand for new housing and towns spread everywhere, up hill and down dale, from Metford to Aberglassen and beyond, but scope exists for pockets of high density living, well planned rather than an after thought, when suburbs become too hugh to service. High density is sustainable, and while it is not the local tradition, surely state of the art, green, affordable, high rise apartments could be popularised and taken up.

Extract from Morpeth and I by A P Elkin quoting Bishop Tyrrell 1866. Mr Close took up a grant at Green Hills (or Morpeth so to speak) about 1821. The locality (including Morpeth) was known officially as Illalaung.

Fully imported car, unknown make, owned by an enthusiast 'sheriff' of this village. Dukes of Hazzard style? 
Anything is possible and I have learnt more tolerance due to media reports where Mrs Hillary Clinton was seen in  conversations during a visit to our shores and seemed to really communicate rather than offer too much rhetoric. The US Ambassador is pleasant and not over-the-top either. He collects Elvis memorabilia!  As to content of the conversation - too complex but we won't be set-up and overly aligned with the US.  
As well, SBS One TV took us to the rally in Washington where Jon Stewart offered a  meaningful address to suit the occasion  and nailed the issues and, overall, restored lost credibility.  

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Baptismal Font.
Das music. We may sing about living waters but with  J S Bach it was a different story. He was familiar with church surroundings such as this, and week after week he created a wealth of  music for liturgies. Were the congregations left stunned by his magic? Just imagine if the music had been discouraged by fundamentalists.
For us, it is just too good to be true, to be able to experience, at will, the unconditional gift of his music. And not only church music.
This week, Bach's Saint Matthew Passion came to us in a performance from Europe, very stylish, perfect and original German language for that special edge from the soloists all from ABC Classic FM and their search for Australia's most popular musical work.

Dairy sheds become a home.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Dairy farming must have been rationalised some time ago and all round the regions, little milking sheds sit idle but not necessarily empty and make another fascinating photo - not!

Mechanical parts are stored in a pit in the shed which had a herringbone layout. It is not clear how that operated as a dairy. Was the pit covered by grating to collect waste?  Moo knows!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Hunter River with East Maitland and or Tenambit in the distance.

These figures were published and outline fees for local primary church or private school  (for round five to twelve years of age) with four terms per 'school year'.
Tuition Fees per term: 1 child: $308. 2 children: $539. 3 children: $693. per term.
Resource Fee per term: Kinder: $88. Year 1: $88. Year2: $88. Year 3: $94. Year 4: $94. Year 5: $82. Year 6.$82.
Technology Fee per term: $20 per family.
Diocesan & Family School Building Levy per term: $173 per family.
Further to this,  a big discount is quoted for some of these fees if paid in a single annual amount. The more affulent reap those discounts.
I believe the policy is that a child is not turned away if the total fees are beyond the ability to pay, but I don't know about the latest policy.  And parents are reminded that a fee clearance has been requested by the high schools for children in Year 6.
Private schools are fee paying schools and I imagine the fees are much higher at some other private schools.
Government funding is also provided to private schools which have increased in number. The privatisation of education is the trend but hugh support is also important for State school education.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

A liberal is a person whose interests aren't at stake at the moment.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Merewether beach then Dixon Park then Bar beach in the distance.