Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

The benefits and clean air of a good Spathiphyllum.

March 12, 2018


If health and breathing clean fresh air is your aim, look no further than filling your house with the easy to grow Spathiphyllum, also known as Peace lily or even Madonna lily. We have always had those very graceful plants filling our homes. They are in every room in our house.  The latest count  has twelve with about half of them flowering. It is not just a beautiful easy to grow plant with graceful leaves and tall strong flowers, but this plant also has the benefit of filtering the air of many toxins.

The Spathiphyllum is the only plant together with the flamingo plant or Anthurium that are known to remove many toxic agents including Benzene, Formaldehyde, Trichloroethylene,  Xylene and Ammonia. I don’t know about you dear readers, but there is nothing as unwelcome than finding Formaldehyde hiding under your pillow, or Xylene in your lentil soup. There has always been a rather lackadaisical  attitude towards dust in Australia, even a good humoured tolerance, (think of all the asbestos houses) but with the advent of toxins including nerve agents now invading park benches in the UK one would be well advised to take nothing for granted and try and grow a few Spathiphyllum.

Nothing is safe anymore, not even in Australia, a country which is generally perceived as having a lovely sleepy ambiance with plenty of Lebensraum. Patrons at Zizzi restaurant in UK’s Salisbury, on the other hand, are now alerted and advised to wash everything they wore while dining out at that place during the nerve agent attack. A robust response is needed and special attention is focussed to thoroughly clean or throw out everything, even jewellery, that was worn during the ingestion of the pizza or eye fillet at Zizzis. Some of the furniture has now been burnt and I imagine many patrons being a bit nervous to eat there now, let alone sit down.

As you can see from the above photo, nothing is left to chance. Peace lilies feature everywhere. We actually have five in our kitchen-sitting area alone. And if those lilies are not enough to keep things clean, on the left-hand bottom corner you can see my own Hoover ‘Freedom’ at quiet repose, but not for long.  Soon, that equipment will be out foraging crannies and corners  with the help of its hepa filter and remove any particles that escaped the peace lily.

Think about it!

The story does have to include a disclaimer. The removal of mustard gas or any other nerve poison might not get removed by this plant. It would be preposterous to make that claim.

This is just an encouragement to include the lushness of the outside garden indoors. There is just nothing better than to be surrounded by greenery. We have plants in the bathrooms, on the stairs, everywhere. Herbs live on the kitchen bench. There is just nothing more satisfying than to have a tomato garnished by basil from the kitchen bench, or a curry improved by home-grown coriander.


A solid foundation for bullying.

March 1, 2018


With a steady stream of  News on TV and newspapers about many forms of bullying inflicted on school students including the latest insights on’hazing parties’at our Sandstone and other prestigious universities one wonders where this stems from? While this might go on in other countries, I am not aware of it, and can only write about what happens here ‘today’ in our own neck of the woods.

The Australian school systems, especially the more exclusive ‘Private school’s’ have a system whereby the school classes have captains, prefects or duxes appointed by the head master or mistress whose rules and penalties were the standards and to be obeyed without questioning or a recourse to a higher authority. The most likely reason for this is that many established rules of our societal norms have been inherited from the British. (Till this day our head of state is the English Queen). In schools cheating or letting down the other side is still considered more serious than failures of sensitivity. Stealing is still seen as the most serious failure.

In Australian schools, prowess at sport is extremely praiseworthy and excuses many breaches of rules and decorum. Bookishness and dislike for physical activities is disliked and even arouse suspicions of a certain moral darkness and even invites punishment or some form of disciplinary action for the slightest breach of the rules set by the school captains or prefects. A good rapping over the knuckles with a bamboo stick was the answer.

Hardiness is considered more important than sensitivity, let alone imagination. In boarding schools you get up at six, take a cold shower and run a mile before the classes assembled in uniformed solidarity. Woe those that had hidden a book under their pillow.

It isn’t’ just at schools that initiated the now well established nation-wide art of bullying. This was also the norm at many work places. After arrival in Australia I was amazed at the initiation practices imposed on young apprentices including myself, a cruel process of degrading the hapless victim, most times of a sexual nature, often overseen by the chortling foreman or factory manager. It was ‘the norm.’ A psychologist would rationalise and explain it by saying; ‘you give back what was given to you.’ This is at the very centre of what is now still so rampant in Australia. ‘We bully you to give back what we were given.’

It just doesn’t apply to schools or universities. Just look how our politicians behave, almost on a daily basis. And how does one explain the fact that refugees are now in their fifth year of deliberate and intentional detention on Nauru an Manus. While a small dribble of people have finally been allowed to settle in America, the majority are still stuck in endless limbo. A purer form of punishment and bullying would be hard to imagine.

Yet, our PM has now instructed his department to write to every headmaster to install programmes to alleviate bullying. But this is a hollow act, perhaps to make him look good and enhance his future election as a PM.  A better example would be to show kindness to the refugees still in detention. Admit that coming by boat to Australia escaping the mayhem of bombings in own countries is no crime.

Our PM would do better and do away with the overt British system of discipline and punishment above all else.

Show some kindness instead.


Is killing children now the norm?

February 22, 2018

One doesn’t have to go to Syria to witness killings. Wave after wave of high tech bombers drop their loads on targets which are known to house civilians. They do this with pin-point laser guided precision. Words now fail the UN and many other peace organisations in condemning the slaughter. Footage on the News show, with regular monotony, civilians running and carrying the dead or wounded over piles of rubble. One gets the impression that  running hither and dither is about the only activity still possible. After all, some victims are being carried out of hospitals that were not spared the slaughter either. Where does one run to? If the world’s empathy hasn’t stopped the slaughter of innocents where does one go?

Of course, we don’t have to visit Syria for the slaughter of innocents. The US is in an even worse predicament, and the only war involved is the one of their own making. The Florida school massacre is one of the many school shootings that occur with the regularity and predictability of a grandfather’s clock ticking away. We know that from statistics and past massacres that they will continue. Knowing that, could one  ask if the killing of innocents in the US including the killing of children is now deliberate? Not doing anything by changing the law on gun ownership it must be known that school massacres will happen again. At present it happens about once a week, and since 2013 there have been 300 school shootings. More guns have been bought since, so, more shootings will happen. Guns do shoot!

Australia too, had its massacre. The Port Arthur Massacre

was the turning point and a law was passed in 1996 whereby guns would be bought back from the general population by the Government. It was called the Gun Buy Back programme. It was hugely successful and crimes and murder involving guns dropped immediately. Every now and then a moratorium enables another period to continue buying back arms whereby guns that have entered Australia illegally can be bought up again. No questions asked. It is sensible and saves lives. The original change of law in Australia was established by a conservative Government.

What happened after the gun buy back was introduced in Australia?

From Wikipedia.

“Australian independence didn’t end. Tyranny didn’t come. Australians still hunted and explored and big-wave surfed to their hearts’ content. Their economy didn’t crash; Invaders never arrived. Violence, in many forms, went down across the country, not up. Somehow, lawmakers on either side of the gun debate managed to get along and legislate.”

The latest from the US;

D. Trump while listening to a delegation of students from different schools, suggested he is willing to look at arming teachers and have trained guards patrolling the schools. He is knowingly advocating that more school children will get killed! He must know that.

There was a snippet of hope when reading that one man who was very pro gun, deciding he had enough of the killings and publicly cut his gun in three pieces. It is now going viral on the internet. It is a start!

Let’s hope he will be followed by millions more. Is there finally a change in the air?


Australia needs to pay more tax.

February 14, 2018




Listening to our politicians one ends up feeling we are paying too much tax. The figures from those whose job it is to come up with clear facts tell a different story. Our Prime Minister is forever ramping up the idea that if we only lower tax, Australia will boom like never before. The slightest hint that already now, with the present level of taxation, we are struggling to keep our hospitals and schools going is met with howls of derision.

We seem to be doing the Fox Trot in tandum with the US where the people are also told the furphy that if only  tax would be lowered, fortunes are there for the taking. Boom times lay ahead for those that will accept taxation lowering, especially for the large Corporations. Now, like a bolt from the sky, canny journalists have discovered that most large Corporations in fact don’t pay any tax. Giving them tax cuts makes little sense.

No, if we would only look at countries that have much better and stronger economies including generous welfare,   pensions, unemployment money, sickness benefits  etc., we would be following the Scandinavian countries, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, France and many more. All the above countries have much higher overall taxation regimes, including a social tax that pays for welfare.

The opposite can also be shown that lowering tax rates go hand in hand with increasing poverty, decrease quality health services, underfunded education , infrastructure decay, public transport creaking, and much more.

Of course, the lure of lowering tax rates is music to the ears of Corporations and the rich but inevitably will show up with an increase in rough sleeping, social crumbling, and more misery. If you look at low taxation paying countries you will also see increase in incarceration, crime, shootings and  poverty.

Don’t fall for it.


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Elder abuse.

February 4, 2018

A few days ago I noticed an ABC news item that struck me as relevant. It dealt with the growing queues of elderly people missing out on levels of subsidised in-home care. Often people need respite and care either for themselves or another person such as a partner or family members. A segment on TV news dealt with same issue.

Footage was shown of an elderly woman hoisting her severely affected Alzheimer  and Parkinson husband up in a sling from one side of the house to the other. A steel beam was bolted onto the ceiling and an electric block and tackle system was used to move her husband about the house. Another case was how a woman needed to be helped from her bed into the electric chair in which she could perform most house-hold duties. It is the relentless care day in day out that many need respite from. But, as always the money for those essential services is lacking. Yet we talk about tax cuts!

The article is here:

Here is a sample of the article; “The latest figures reveal there are now 101,508 people in the queue for appropriate home-care packages.More than 60,000 have no package at all, and 40,000 have a package at a lower level than what they need”.

And then this morning on the TV, ( where else)? The Prime Minister being interviewed, waxing lyrically how tax cuts to corporate Australia was going to help employment and profits. He followed this up with while looking up,   prophesying by seemingly divine inspiration, that this would then guarantee increased wages to the workers. Surely he must have felt thickening of his insincerity.

I mean, look at America. Do the wages there go in tandem with corporate profits? In Australia profits in businesses between 2016/17 went up 20%, yet wages a mere 1%. The trickle down effect is a huge joke.


It seems a logical conclusion, that if countries keep giving tax cuts, it eventually means no tax will be raised at all. Pity for those that are waiting for home-care packages.

If you want to take an example to follow. Look at Northern Europe ,especially the Scandinavian countries were taxes are very high, but so are  welfare levels. AND, their economies are booming. Our Prime Mister, Mr Turnbull, should try and raise revenue. A sugar tax alone would bring in hundreds of millions a year and save billions on health care. Our GST could be raised on a level with overseas countries. Why does the government never mention raising revenue and income?.

And right on the heels of the above article, another one popped up this morning about elder abuse which now seem more often than not to come from within the family.

I know if I get ripped off by own family or need to be moved around in a sling suspended from a steel beam, totally gaga, I will, before that arrives, have the sanity and means to get-out-of-here-quick smart.


Is it all that’s it cracked up to be?

January 23, 2018

Birds always understand


With all the activities of the last few months, time has arrived for reflection and ponderings. I leave it to the readers to judge the veracity of my claims. What are those claims? Well, amongst many that I hold, one dearest to my heart has always been that many hold Australia high up the ladder when it comes to the level of social benefits. We often read that our system of welfare is being exploited by loafers and bludgers. Single mums are deliberately having babies so they can siphon financial support which they squander on drugs, clothes, and make-up. Refugees, especially those from bombed out sandy regions near the Euphrates and Tigris river systems are also on the list of exploiting Australia’s wonderful social, almost paradisiacal systems. ( the best in the world) They invade Australia, take our women, jobs, and wear funny clothes.

I don’t hold that view. In fact we believe the opposite to be closer to the truth. The proof is in our social benefits expenditure. Just peruse this site;–makes-unfounded-welfare-claim/5215798

It might be a couple of years old but if anything, it has gotten worse. Or, look at this!

Statistically, Australia lags  behind  most OECD countries in welfare spending, so why do we persist in calling Australia a social paradise?

From AIM; “There is  a ruthless and selfish ruling oligarchy in this country that has a badly inflated and misplaced positive view of itself that continues to inflict injustice on Australia’s poor and disadvantaged in general and even on the working and much of the middle class. For example wealth inequality has returned to the levels of over 100 years ago.”

Our expenditure equals that of the US in about 19.5 % of GDP spending on social welfare. In the US many also hold the view that too much is spent on welfare while clearly that is not the case. The difference that I believe, is that many of the inhabitants of most OECD countries hold a view that pensions, unemployment money, sickness benefits and more are a ‘right’ and not a ‘hand-out’  as is often suggested here. Just the term ‘dole’ or ‘dole-bludger’ is diminishing and belittling. It seems to suggest a beggar with cap in hand. A term that would certainly not be allowed to be used in many countries. A well governed country holds the view that the old, the sick and the unfortunate need to be cared for. Enough revenue (taxation) has to be raised to pay for it.

We had some experience with the creaking social welfare. It was suggested that with continuing health issues and advancing years Helvi would be entitled to ‘aged care’. We had a lengthy interview from a Commonwealth officer and a plan was put into action where she could be provided with some subsidized services.

A domestic service with assistance to house-cleaning was suggested. The other,  a transport service also falling under ‘Community Service.’ It all sounded very good. However, the Government seems to have sub-contracted those services out to private institutions. Many have religious names such as Anglo-Care, Presbytery care, Community Transport (volunteer). The suggested services were all full and had no open positions for home cleaning. The above services are subsidized but payment is still requested. So far we have been unable to get much traction on the home-cleaning front and the social event of a river cruise is put on a poll basis. Names are pulled out of a hat because the demand is bigger than they can accommodate. I wonder why a bigger bus is not used or a bigger boat. In any case, I had not been assessed on receiving ‘Community Aged Care.’ Only Helvi might be allowed on this river cruise. It all sounds so strange. I am Helvi’s husband (for over 55 years)! I was subsequently assessed as well from a kind lady spending another afternoon tapping away on her laptop. I too am now entitled to house cleaning and a river cruise. A second suggestion is a trip to the War Museum in Canberra.

We can’t wait to look at cannons, guns and roses.





A strange patient.

November 23, 2017

My paternal grandparents


There can’t be anything more telling of old age when conversations focus on ‘sicknesses’ ‘food’ and the ‘cost of electricity.’ I plead guilty to all three of them so my age is showing. But I had a rather unusual experience yesterday in a Doctor’s waiting room. Actually, the term ‘Doctor’s waiting room’ is dated. We now go to ‘Medical Centres’. They are mainly owned by large corporations who employ PhD trained business experts  in maximising returns on investments. The sick and frail now have to travel to those centres. It is rare for the doctor to visit the patient at home.

I had an appointment at 7.45 am to a medical centre’s pathology facility for a thyroid blood test which I haven’t had for a long time. I was amazed how many were already at this centre. There is a waiting room with 27 chairs, all padded and soft-backed with arm-rests. On the floor in one corner it even had a small play- centre for kids. It had a doll’s house and a mini slippery-dip.

During my waiting, several mainly elderly patients shuffled inside, some struggling with walking frames or other mobility aids. One mother with a pram like a WW1 tank manoeuvred around a man who had to keep one leg straight out because it was all plastered up to his thigh.

When my number came up for the blood test, I got up but stopped at the desk as a man had just walked in to tell the receptionist his wife had sent him to see a doctor.

My wife wants me to see a doctor but I also need 10 Dollars. Can you give me 10 dollars, please, he said politely. The man was neatly dressed and possibly in his late sixties or even seventies. He wore black knee socks , shorts and gym shoes. I would never wear knee-socks let alone black ones, but this is a very English type village. A foreign language is hardly ever heard except in week-ends when we receive many tourists.

The receptionists, a youngish woman, told the man she would consult her superior. Yes, but could you please give me 10 dollars now, he said again. The receptionist now somewhat alarmed asked the man if he wanted to see a doctor. Yes, I do, he said, but could you please give me 10 dollar, I am so hungry! Well, just sit down and doctor will see you. At this stage the man walked to a chair and sat down.

I had my blood test done and as I walked out I saw the black knee-socked man still waiting. I don’t know what happened or if he got the 10 dollars. Maybe one of the patients or even the staff had given him some food. It was all rather strange. If his wife sent him to the doctor, could she not have given him breakfast? Why would a neatly dressed man go without food and go to a medical centre to beg for money?

I went bowling afterwards and told the story to the wife of one bowler. She said that many people do go hungry and that poverty in Australia is now widespread. She had a friend who volunteers and drives a van picking up bread and food from the local supermarkets to be distributed to the different agencies that feed the poor and hungry.

A recent ABC TV segment was about the abuse that many elderly suffer in old age care homes. Apparently between 4000 and 6000 elderly die well before their time each year in Australia through neglect in those Aged Care facilities. Many are owned and run by churches. Astonishingly, we were told that there are no qualification required to work in aged care. Most that died pre-maturely were murdered, suicided or just through lack of basic care while in expensive ‘Aged Care’.

What awaits us while shuffling forever onwards towards the promised Pearly Gates?


Is Australia captive to inane trivia?

November 14, 2017


There is a cake and pie shop in Bowral named ‘The Gumnut.’ On its front window it has a very impressive lists of ribbons of yearly ‘best pie or best cake’ of the year won at Sydney’s yearly agricultural show called ‘The Easter Show.’ We often in our daily walk stop to have a coffee and a pie. I still succumb to a ribbon or award winning meaty one but Helvi prefers the vegetable pie with roast pumpkin and sun-dried tomato. Each to their own.

Tomorrow at 10am all TV and radio Stations will broadcast the results of the $120,000,000,- postal vote on SSM. With all that is going, some Ministers and Parliamentarians will try and throw sand over the issue by putting up their own bills safe-guarding religious beliefs or matters of conscience. It is generally predicted through polls that the SSM will get a healthy 60% Yes vote and a 40% No vote outcome.

Many on the extreme right, will under the pretext of protecting religious or conscientious views try and make things more difficult than they are. Some politicians are using the example of cake makers forced to sell wedding-cakes to Gay or Lesbian couples against their conscience or religious beliefs. Can you believe it?  For some time now this cake selling has been popping up almost daily in adult right-wing Parliamentarians seriously rambling on about it on the TV.

One particular Minister gets red in the face about the prospect of SS couples being sold a same sex wedding cake. It gets worse. ‘What about those renting out wedding cars or those celebrants whose beliefs might run against SSM? And so it goes on.

And, while 15000 scientists are warning time is running out for the world to be spared the collapse of our ecology, Australia talks about wedding cakes to SS couples. Are shops at present sussing out homosexual couples and refusing to sell them vanilla slices? I don’t think so. I often see openly gay people munching away on cakes or sausage rolls. Who cares? Why would shops refuse to make a wedding cake just because it might get eaten by people born with a difference. What next. Stop selling cakes to people with beards or with blue eyes?

Yet, not much about the plight of hundreds of asylum seekers now after two weeks without urgent provisions of food, water and toilets on Manus island. Sometimes during my mind’s meanderings I wonder what my father would make of present day Australia. We used to be progressive and forward looking but now have sunk to inane and silliness. Who would have thought that wedding cakes would be discussed while at the same time being tolerant of untold cruelty to refugees?


Is the battery permanently flat?

November 10, 2017


One of life’s more perplexing events took place last Wednesday. The day started positive. The toast was just perfect with no burnt edges but warm enough for the butter to melt within, allowing the cheese to nestle itself in all its hollows and grooves.

The previous couple of weeks, things were far from comfortable. I caught a nasty flu. If a good diet prevents getting colds or nasty flu, I am almost prepared to believe the contrary, eating fresh fruit and different vegetables daily might well be the reason for getting sick. I am just kidding, the reason probably is found in doctors’ waiting rooms often being warrens for the viruses. Helvi had a cataract removed and I had to renew my thyroid prescription. The multiple visits to waiting rooms was asking for trouble. I just knew it. Helvi just now is recovering as well.

Each Wednesday morning is one of my my  weekly bowling appointment. Perhaps the flu virus was caught there. You just don’t know through whose hands those bowls have travelled. Each Sunday evening is the other bowling event. Again, with both being played indoors at Returned Soldier’s Clubs. The flu viruses must be having a ball spreading havoc.

Last Wednesday I played well and on leaving the club was given a nice compliment by another player. I like compliments and somewhat jauntily jumped in the car ready to drive home and have lunch. But, as I turned the key, the engine remained eerily silent. It did not kick over. Modern cars have complicated electrical systems. I thought that perhaps I wasn’t following correct procedure. This car has a computer screen and usually gives written commands.  Nothing appeared on the screen.

I phoned up my National Road and Motor Association and within half an hour was helped out by a mechanic who told me that the battery was not only flat but finished and proceeded with giving me a print-out of the faulty battery’s output. He advised me to go to the nearest dealer and get a new battery. I did this and as the car is under warranty got a new battery for free. I got home at least two hours after my bowling event had finished and was ravenous for sustenance. I almost relented and succumbed to a Big Macdonald’s, but resisted heroically. Heaven only knows what germs thrive in those fast food establishments with snotty kids slobbering all over the joint.

Aren’t we fortunate though to replace the occasional battery? It is different in our Government. We seem to be in a permanent state of flat battery. Nothing gets done. The ennui of nothingness is paralysing Australia. The only thing happening is a permanent lurching from one crisis to another.  The refugees on Manus and the problem of their permanent detention seems unsolvable and intractable by this inert Government in finding a solution. And all those Parliamentarians popping up with dual Nationality? Each evening we watch the news to see who is next to having another nationality. Isn’t it a hoot?

Australia has a flat battery and that is not good.


My free templet to ward off unwanted phone-calls

November 3, 2017



new cover 1704 front big Book cover 18april

De Kleine Beer, by Else Holmelund-Minarik is the original most loved children’s story I have kept all those years from when our children were toddlers. It has rested peacefully on my bedside table all those decades. Somehow, I still peruse the wisdom and sheer folly of its story. It seems to suggest that folly and wisdom might well be related.

When I get cold callers from a countries with strong Hindi accents, I now, without further ado, start to recite a page taken at random from De Kleine Beer. Most times at the end of just a few lines read in Dutch, the phone line at the other end is blissfully mute and very silent. It works magically. The true wonder of  good literature.

Here is just a one page templet for your free usage for those that are game and brave enough to try it out. It does no harm and is devoid of malice, anger or retribution.

Zo gezegd, zo gedaan. (As said, as done)

Kleine Beer maakt een pan vol soup. ( Little bear makes a pan full of soup.)

De eerste gast is Kip. ( the first guest is a chicken)

‘Wel gefeliciteers, Kleine Beer.’ (‘Congratulation, Little Bear.’)

‘Dank je wel, Kip.’ (‘Thank you very much, Chicken.’)

Hm,wat ruikt het hier lekker.  ( Hm, it smells so nice here.)

This is usually enough for the caller to give up and discontinue the call. I hope it helps. Please, let me know.

As an aside; Lately we talk a lot about Australian values and how they relate and might even be similar in many other countries, or indeed how they might differ.

Australia has as many good ordinary people as any other country we have lived in., perhaps even more… but what was going on when we elected people such as Dutton into power? We put the most inhumane man in charge of asylum seekers.

We must not ask the possibility of Frydenberg’s dual nationality, yet at the same time allow Dutton the freedom to make 600 refugees on Manus stateless.

Please read this link; The world is watching.