Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

The incorrigible Jack.

January 21, 2020

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Milo.

You can tell that the above Jack Russell dog is one of the most intelligent breeds of mammals around. This particular one is our dog Milo, so that explains my prejudice, but just have a good look at him. He exudes wisdom and a certain clear-sightedness of the world that he, together with billons of other creatures, shares with lesser mammals, the human variety. It has been known for a long time by some scientists the truth that the humans are now belonging to an inferior placenta mammal whose lack of intelligence made them introduce bows and arrows, nuclear bombs and endless wars with an innate desire to kill their own species. Some of those mammals belong to a special sub-species named poli-tic-ions, some of whom eat lumps of coal, are now busy resisting climate change of which most normal intelligent mammals are now acutely aware of and indeed have been trying to point the verity of climate change to the less intelligence endowed mammals for years…

The recent bushfires in Australia are responsible that over a billion animals have now perished. The cause of those fires are now well known to have been part of ignoring what the world of the more advanced mammals (phylum chordata) have been pointing out to the lower human mammals for years. Thus on a worldview, human mammals are just shown to be much lower on the evolutionary scale than the much more evolved mammals such as the koala, the kangaroo and of course the Jack Russell. Humans are not fundamentally different from mammals according to an evolutionary worldview, but certainly less evolved…

“The world’s species and habitats are under more severe pressure than at any time in human history. Over 10,000 tree species are threatened with extinction, as are almost 8,000 species of bird, mammal, reptile, amphibian and fish. The number one contributor to this alarming state of affairs is habitat loss, all of it driven by human activities, but the problem is compounded by unsustainable exploitation in all its forms. This collective mismanagement of our planet’s resources is leading to widespread declines in biodiversity and driving increasing numbers of species to the brink.”

https://www.fauna-flora.org/approaches/species-and-habitats

 

This is what the  human mammal is thriving for unless it changes course!

This morning while having a coffee with friends I took this photo of Milo and his girlfriend. You can tell they are a good couple. Milo is now almost sixteen years and Helvi and I used to wager who would go first. Sadly, Helvi did, and my morning coffees at the Bradman cricket Café named suitably ‘The Stumps’ are a real treat with good friends and they help to get used to the new situation of my quiet house, silent mornings and single plate at the sink.

 

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Milo and girlfriend. They are both great companions.

Herrings

January 7, 2020

IMG_0377 Herrings from Scandinavia

Please consider during these difficult times of  smoke and fire, brimstones and calamitous weather conditions, the eating of a simple herring. I know that lots of people’s lives have been upset and thrown about because of those raging fires and acrid smoke. Things are now quiet again and in some parts of Australia even a few drops of water have been recorded; time to repose and regain our momentum for the ongoing battle we might call ‘life’.

This is where the herring comes onto its own giving us the sustenance and tools to struggle on. Of course, coming from Holland I was practically brought up on a bicycle and fed daily herrings. My father told me when I was still very young (and during a stormy night) that I was born a week or two before my mother was due to eject me. It was, he told conspiratorially, that a fish bone stuck in my mother’s throat that brought on a coughing fit, et voila, there I was born of my mother’s gluttonous herring eating and I already screaming  for one myself. The doctor smacked my mother instead of me.

There are some interesting facts about herrings. Herrings generally spawn in shallows and coastal waters where they lay in levels on top of each other, millions of them. The female herring lays up to 70 000 eggs. So, herring experts inform us, which if it wasn’t for humans to catch and eat the herring and left to breed uninterrupted, they would within a short time and according to Buffon’s  calculations, produce a volume of fish twenty times the size of the earth. It would be easy to understand that that sort of volume would also mean the end of the herring mating and cavorting in the shallows. They would suffer their own demise by those tumultuous watery sexual congress without humans eating them.( post coitus)

Image result for The Dutch herring boats

Even so, in the past there have been such large shoals of herrings and so easily caught that entire fisheries were threatened by closure because of the sheer catastrophic glut of herrings. This is also why we should not forego eating herrings, especially now during stress and deep-seated gloom. A herring lightens the mood and give us the spring back in out steps. Try it, please.

The expert fishing trawlers and their skippers knew, born of legend and evening tavern talk, when the shoals of herrings were running.  They knew by the glow of their shimmering bodies and the fact they swim in strict wedge shaped formations with a pulsating glow skywards reflecting the sun falling at a certain angle. The fishermen, all peaked capped and storm coat wearing threw out their nets and lowered their sails.

Of course we don’t truly know what a herring feels. They communicate not like we do but no doubt been told that we eat them. Not a nice thing to contemplate when as young herring in puberty and growing, looking forward to an honest mating in the shallows of the Dogger Bank…only to be eaten afterwards!  When life has fled, the herring begins to glow and that’s also a reason why people buy them. They hold a fascination that other fish, like the mackerel or flat-head species don’t have.

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Queuing for herrings in The Netherlands.

A pity that one cannot buy a fresh herring here in the southern hemisphere. The bottled or vacuum packet ones are  not the same but I intend to go to Holland (The Netherlands now, sorry)soon to catch up.

You just wait and see!

Some of this information came from ‘The rings of Saturn’ by W.G. Sebald.

 

The Bushfires keep on burning.

December 18, 2019

 

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Bushfire smoke hiding the sun. 2.30pm on a ‘sunny day’.

The above photo shows how bad the smoke haze can be. The sun has trouble cutting through the smoke. I wonder now many millions of tons of greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide, those fires are adding to the atmosphere? How much wildlife is being lost. Koalas, kangaroos?

Yesterday, Australia recorded its hottest overall day ever.

Over three million ha of bushland has been destroyed by fire so far. Near us a fire of over 150 000 ha is burning out of control threatening a power station and a coal mine.

 

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-12-18/australia-heatwave-registers-new-hottest-day-on-record-bom-says/11810632

Our Prime minister is on holiday in Hawaii. No one would want to deny the PM a holiday but right now he should be here and watch the heatwave coming over the next few days. The bushfires have linked up and now form a front of almost 3000kms.

 

our PM, Scott Morrison, (Scomo) soaking up a pleasant sun in Hawaii. Not a care in the world.

 

Photo: Scott Morrison has faced online criticism over a holiday, speculated to be in Hawaii. (AAP: Mick Tsikas)
In my state of NSW there are over a hundred fires burning and many of them are out of control.
At 5:30pm there are 100 bush & grass fires burning, 54 uncontained. Gospers Mountain remains at Emergency Warning. Dangerous conditions are forecast for tomorrow. With school holidays starting check your travel plans &current fire conditions along your route and your destination. pic.twitter.com/hb7LHuC
EMERGENCY WARNING – Gospers Mtn (Lithgow & Hawkesbury LGA) Fire increasing Dargan & Clarence area. Fire in Valley View Rd, crossed Chifley Rd. If you’re in Dargan & Clarence area, it’s too late to leave. Seek shelter. Protect yourself from heat of fire. #nswrfs #nswfires #alert pic.twitter.com/BkVC1b6…
Twitter · 2 hours ago
Are you ready for the heat in NSW? The next three days will see very hot temps in most of the state. Have a plan to Beat the Heat: ow.ly/vcyK50xCNEe Smoke will combine with the heat in some areas, so know how to also cope with the smoke: www.health.nsw.gov.au/e… pic.twitter.com/QeARU44…
Twitter · 2 hours ago

The short stay in a Cabin.

December 3, 2019

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Me on the veranda.

Last week my brother, his wife and I decided to take a few days off and return to a camping spot we all visited many years ago. We all had young families and the Oosterman clan all lived in the inner Sydney suburb of Balmain. They were the years often considered to be the best years. I often thought that the best years are right now and at the present. Of late, that view is on rocky grounds. Together but now not together. Never. I miss Helvi.

The area that we so often camped at, first in tents, and as we grew older and perhaps more affluent, we camped in caravans with annexes but still stuck to open fires and rough wine in those 4 litres plastic bladders that Australia became world famous for. Such a ground-breaking invention! The area is still tree bound but with many semi-permanent caravans with fibro sheeted annexes a bit uglier with the beauty of trees still managing a modest win. But for how long?  It seems some retired and perhaps increasingly impoverishing elderlies try and live permanently in those vans, no doubt making their meagre pension stretch a bit further. The area is about 200km south of Sydney on the coast. Pounding waves and miles of semi-deserted beaches are the main lure for many campers.

After arrival and making ourselves comfortable I noticed that my sleeping quarter was in a tiny room just able to hold a bunk bed with a space of about 40cm between bed and window. The room had a low ceiling but even so this bunk bed’s design had a layer of three beds stacked above each other with perhaps about 50 cm between them. The design was obviously made with punishing the inhabitants of the bed because to limit the entree into the bed was a FIXED steel ladder in between the foot and the head of the bed limiting access and egress.  I immediately decided to try and visualise getting into the bed and out of the bed, without the need to call an ambulance or an Emergency Rescue Van with bolt cutters.

My brother and his wife had the comfort of a double bed and soft matrass, so that was satisfactory. The cabin also had a good stove, fridge and TV and…air-con to boot. The best part was the large veranda outside which gave us a view of the ocean, the parakeets, parrots and lorikeets with the hopping Kangaroos as a bonus. But as the evening announced itself and I had, as a pre-caution for the looming bunk bed’s trial, had a few glasses of Shiraz. One has to visualise that the entrance to the middle bunk and top bunk was totally out of the question. One would have to be a tiny Houdini and I am, even shrunk in my elderly personage, still 6 ft tall and stiffly lanky. So, the bunk bed at the near floor level was the only choice. The steel ladder in the middle was fixed which left me an opening of about 40 x50cm to get in.

I survived but had an uncomfortable couple of nights. My brother and his wife on the other hand looked remarkably refreshed each morning. All in all it was a good break and I enjoyed it but was very happy to jump in my own bed the third night.

Of earlier times and now.

November 10, 2019

While walking through my house (or should that still be our house?) I am struck how everything is still so much Helvi. They say that in grieving it is best to be busy and sustain from sitting too much. Walking around the place I sometimes just go in circles ( to while the time, achingly passing so slow)around one of the old tables that was part of the very old furniture from the farm in Holland. We lived there with our three children from 1973-76. This table through travel between continents and daily wear became a bit battered and some years ago, Helvi urged me to paint the top of this table white. At first the idea of painting an old semi-antique table at all seemed a bit questionable but Helvi never really attached much monetary value to things that we owned. It’s not as if one can take it with you, is it?

And that’s how it is. This place is the embodiment of so much that is still Helvi. Her sense of form and aesthetics would exclude any other consideration. Some tell me I should move somewhere else, but I now need time to pass. I go bowling tonight and in an effort not to fall in a heap I keep walking with Milo and shop at the slightest pretence. I haven’t as yet dealt with anything much at all, and am surrounded by flower arrangements and cards of condolences. The house is tidy and I wash up regularly, even if it is just a single cup and single plate. It is not easy.

I leave you with an early photo of us soon after arrival in Australia from Finland in 1965/66. We moved into a small apartment in Pott’s Point ,Sydney, which I had bought a year or so before. We were just married. The photo must have been taken with a self timer but it doesn’t look posed. We had such a lovely time there.

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Out of sight but not out of mind.

September 7, 2019

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The plight of the family  threatened by being deported to Shri-Lanka is now reaching its final stage. No matter the outcome, the way this has been dealt with is just symptomatic of our Government’s decline in being humane. I am talking about why it was felt necessary to remove this family to Christmas Island while their case is being dealt with in an Australian Court.  Surely they could have been given a right to remain on the mainland with friends and neighbours with whom they have been living for a number of years. They have two Australian born children and have not committed any crime.

It is just sheer bastardy by the Australian government. How can one see it any other way as inflicting the maximum of punishment on people who have done no wrong? A last minute injunction stopped the plane in mid-air from flying them back to Shri-Lanka. A Court has ruled their case will be heard in due course and it seems likely this might take several weeks.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-49519805

Seeing the case will be heard on the mainland why was it thought necessary to go to the extend in flying this family as far as possible from their friends and supporters to Christmas Island. Christmas Island is part of the Asian Continent and thousands of kilometres form the major cities of Australia. It was formerly used as an Australian detention centre for refugees but is now closed.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/sep/05/biloela-tamil-family-our-daughters-are-scared-on-christmas-island-mother-says

I always thought that the Christian way was pro humane and compassionate. Our PM Scott Morrison  is a fervent Christian who doesn’t shy away from being filmed swaying his arms and jigging about inside his Mormon church. Here is a good opportunity for Scott to practise what he preaches and allow that family to stay in Australia.

Image result for Scott morrison and his church

 

A peculiar economy and Otto.

August 19, 2019

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“In the past two weeks the proliferation of negative-yielding bonds has erupted — 30 per cent of the global, tradeable bond universe is being sold with a guaranteed loss attached to the coupon.”

I understand the basics of adding and subtracting of numbers but in that little sentence above, a whole new world is threatening our survival. We know that when it rains and we stand outside we will get wet. Perhaps our survival will be enhanced when standing in the rain. Who knows?

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-08-19/forget-inverted-yield-curve-time-for-negative-yielding-debt/11425960

We are faced with negative yields on our savings. It means that instead of earning interest from the banks on our money we might have to pay the bank in holding our money. We will be borrowing money that promises us that we not only don’t have to pay interest  over the term we borrow money, but that we actually owe less money than the original amount, at the end of the term. To put it simply; we borrow let’s say $10 000.- over ten years. We do not pay any interest on the borrowing, and at the end of the ten years we pay back less than the $10 000.-

We are getting a miniscule pension from the Australian Government as a result of having some savings which are ‘deemed’ to earn some interest. However, try as I might, at the moment long term interests is almost zero. This results in us eating up our savings. So far, no problem. You can’t take it with you to that place beyond our final journey. The difficulty is figuring out the number of years one might still have ahead and then divide the savings by the number of years that one can still breath upon ahead with some dignity, and hopefully without getting bashed-up in some ‘Aged-Care’ home by one’s own slippers or shoes.

This might entail a risk whereby an underestimation of the number of years ahead could involve a rather financial painful end. If one figures, lets say another ten years or less, and divvy the savings by ten, no problem. But what about the other way, and one languishes for another fifteen years? What then? The financial plan was spread over ten years and not fifteen.

I have a good example by my good friend Otto. Otto is now ninety. I never expected him to reach that age. He wasn’t interested in exercise or strenuous physical activities. He never kicked a ball, did summersaults or hung from crossbars. He walked slowly and deliberately, and with care. Otto liked his food but ate well, avoided fat, sugar and salty food. He was Dutch, born in Indonesia which gave him his dietary habits and a love for vegetables. He also had a rather eccentric habit of drinking lots of water mixed with some cider vinegar.

Two months ago, Otto caught a bad flu and was hospitalised. After he fought off the virus and became reasonably well, it was apparent that Otto could not live independent anymore. He owned his own place but wasn’t mobile enough to look after himself.  His younger sister who looked after him during Otto’s times of need, told the hospital she no longer could. Otto now lives in a retirement home. He had to pay $200.000.- upfront for a space and his pension is just short of $75 weekly which pays for his main keep. This money will be deducted when his place gets sold. He shares his room with another inmate.

I spoke to his brother, Roderick, and in conversation I marvelled how Otto managed to get to his 90th year despite his seemingly corpulent figure and his dislike for any physical activity. His answer left me somewhat flummoxed. ‘ Yes, Gerard, Roderick said;” “but he never married like we all did’! ‘We brought up children,  had a marriage, a wife and all, and Otto never had that kind of worry.’ No wonder Otto lived so long. he seemed to imply!

Anyway, that’s how it goes, does it not? My worry is not the future for our grandchildren of negative monetary returns, but a world with a change of climate making the world uninhabitable.

That would be a much worse outcome.

The conservative fear of the implications of ‘socialism’.

August 10, 2019

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American Conservative Union chair, Matt Schlapp was featured on the ABC ‘The Drum’. He certainly knew how to articulate his points of view, especially those held on his hero Donald Trump and in general his Republican Party. The arguments put against him by fellow participants on this program did come across somewhat paltry and weak. It just struck me that he came well prepared and seemingly knew all the answers. He said he was open to all points of view but vehemently opposed anything to do or associated with the idea of ‘Social’. I have noticed before that the word ‘social’ seems to bring out a kind of fear of a murderous Stalinist communism in some people. Mr. Schlapp and I believe his wife, Mercedes, are both of the firm belief that only Trump and his Party will bring happiness back again to the people of America.  His final words on the program was that when things are left to free market forces, problems will resolve themselves for the good of America if not mankind as well.

In Australia we have a move that seems to try and wedge people against China with some politicians barracking for the US to be allowed to install medium range missiles on Australian soil. The implication was that our choice in any conflict anywhere, ought to always be wedded to whatever the US might want to do.

We cannot change our geographical situation and are much closer to the Asian world than the West. Indonesia is rapidly growing and holds almost 300 million people which all live closer to Darwin than Darwin is to our biggest cities in Australia. With the present trade war between China with 1400 million people and the US with 325 million people, I doubt that China’s economic might will knuckle down before the diminishing US economy. Would it not make much more sense to try and stay friends with China? They are a growing nation with its own unique culture and history. But again, in Australia too, we seem to still have a fear of the ‘Social’ ideology. You know’ sharing and caring’ for people less well off, or less fortunate. I just don’t like that  we are being wedged towards choosing one against the other. We ought to stay friends with all.

With Helvi, things are improving. The infection in het left arm has healed and the plaster in her right arm should come off with a week or two. It will involve a lot of physiotherapy for another 6 months or so. We are both in need of a good break and are waiting for a period without appointments or chemo. It is amazing how we managed to get through it all which is more due to Helvi’s Finnish ‘Sisu’ than my own rather cranky demeanor.

 

Forget me not.

July 25, 2019

IMG_0226 Forget me not

Another little flower that has just arrived over the last few days is the ‘Forget me not’. Perhaps, through all the events over the last 4 weeks I just ignored everything but this little flower is not to be ignored, hence its name. It’s funny how a flower as little as this one can still command attention even when surrounded by so much  activities as has been the case since Helvi’s fall. I found time to take her photo, even when not in focus, still it’s splendour is there to see.

Helvi tells me that this one comes around every year and in the same pot. The drought is now taking its toll, and farmers are now being counselled and billions are now taken from somewhere to help them through. Some are arguing that traditional farming is just not viable inland of Australia. Not enough rain and pumping water from elsewhere is not cost effective.

Our Prime minister is promising to bring suicide in Australia back to zero. A lofty promise, and one could advice him to  start at the prevention of that by looking at the refugees in Manus and Nauru, if he is to be taken serious. I don’t really want to wander off in the political arena but sometimes I get drawn to making certain conclusions bordering on the political. It is foolish of me. I know.

It is better to stick to the ‘forget-me-not.

Schizophrenia; Care or jail-time?

June 11, 2019

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Left to Right; Frank and Gerard about 1942!

Last night’s 4 Corners program on the ABC featured the story of a young man who after many years of abhorrent behaviour ended up killing 6 people. It traced his days as a young boy who went through school whereby according to the friends and teachers he already showed up as a boy who was different, with strange behaviours who was increasingly becoming more and more erratic and dangerous. At 14 years of age the school went into lock-down as he had taken detonators to school. He gave as reason;  to blow up the school and get even with his fellow students for picking on him.

https://www.abc.net.au/4corners/time-bomb/11196092

James Gargasoulas was a troubled young man. The ABC decided to spend seven months on the story in order to point out that the tragedy not only could have been, but should have been avoided. It was clear that his spree of crime and violence was well known to the police and for some years. Nothing was done about him and one wonders why when the signs were so overwhelming and his behaviour so unpredictable that nothing was done to try and find out why his behaviour was so unpredictable. Why did it not get picked up that his mental state was in need of serious diagnoses and given some kind of mental examination and care? The only thing sure was the continuation and repeat of his unpredictable behaviour. He was diagnosed with Schizophrenia but none-the- less sent to life-time jail. He killed 6 people. It seems that the only place for mentally ill people who commit violence in Australia is jail.

This whole episode brought back the story of my own brother, Frank. He too was unpredictable and given to bouts of rage and violence. His behaviour too started well before adulthood. He too stood out and was different. His behaviour became unmanageable for my parents and at one stage after have stabbed one of my brothers with scissors was taken in and put in a mental hospital. This was back around 1958 or so, when Frank was just 19, and I was one year younger. His stay in that mental institution was something out of the middle ages or Bedlam. He would be wrapped in wet blankets to try and subdue him! Wardens would walk around with keys dangling from belts. I am just regaling memories of a period when I too was still a young man.

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(Right) My dear brother Frank in Holland, a few month before he passed away.

It was a horrible situation.  Our family suffered badly during that period. There was (as so often) a Royal Commission in the affairs of that Mental Hospital, Callan Park, but nothing improved. I am not sure if mental health has improved in the intervening decades! I doubt it. The episode of James  Gargasoulas is proof that mentally ill people remain undiagnosed and not given due care, no matter what happens, and what terrible deeds result from their unpredictable nature due to that illness.

At one stage my brother Frank jumped from a bridge and badly mangled his foot. After many years of bureaucratic battles my parents managed to get him back to Holland where conditions for mentally sick people already then were much better. For the rest of his life he was given good care and was no danger to others or himself. He spent a lifetime in a care institution where he would be managed  and looked after as well as possible. He would be given good care for his physical well being. He had an income for his cigarettes, clothes, or whatever he wanted. He had his own room with TV and suitable mobility equipment towards his latter years. He died almost two years ago aged 79. Below is a photo taken a few moths before he passed away. His life was not wonderful but he was given good care.

Frank could easily have ended up like the poor boy from Coober Pedy, James Gargasoulas now in jail. He killed six innocent people. It could have been avoided!