Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Images of Tehran from Flickr

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Turf Farms around Freemans Reach

I think this is some Buffalo Grass (Buchloe dactyloides) stretching off into the distance.

Turf Farms...........

What could possibly be exciting about turf farms? Well if they're on the floodplains of the Hawkesbury River about 70km (40 miles) from the heart of Sydney, they're in an area which was once the "food bowl" of the infant settlement. If you dig photography, the area has the lushest green colour against the pale and sometimes deep blue sky....and it's dead flat, the views go for miles.

Add to that, there was once a thriving dairy industry in the region which has given way to the more profitable agri-business of turf/grass/lawn..... call it what you like. The remnants of the one-time milk industry can still be seen in places, rotting cattle stalls, rusting milking sheds, falling apart holding yards, hay sheds on their last legs ......all decaying away as the new economy takes over. More interesting subjects for this amateur photographer.

Mike Golby and I were discussing how the light is different and harsher in the Southern Hemisphere. You'll see some sky which looks very blue and others it will seem almost pale, depending on which angle I was photographing from as UV photons streak their way through our ozone layer hole and create havoc with my northern hemisphere designed camera. The northern hemisphere conspiracy is Golby's idea......and I agree.

Anyway here's some pics. I enjoyed taking them.

How I wish you were here.

A little Pink Floyd-ish. There were a few of these strange old school chairs sitting at the end of irrigation pipes on a few farms. Not sure if they acted as some sort of marker to put signs on, or a place to put equipment on or a place to have a sit down in the sun.

Kinda surreal anyway.


I got wet taking this....all in the name of getting the shot. The camera stayed dry.

Farm workers watched the dude with the camera taking some very strange photos, none dared approach him.

Milk Churn Letterbox

Old hay/milking shed.

What I thought were old unused cattle yards in front of this old hay shed is actually a driveway to a farm, the green in front is Lucerne (alfalfa) for hay. I didn't spot a single cow in my travels.

Milk Churn Letterbox from below.

Poor old thing is just about rusted out. I got a grass allergy from the lawn below this taking this shot. A guy with grass allergies photographing turf farms?

Old Farmhouse

This is a very Charles Addams type farmhouse still being lived in by someone. Light was facing the wrong way so I missed the spooky front which may be visible if you click the pic. I'd say this would have once been the pride of the Hawkesbury Flats, even has a small worker's cottage out back.

Old dairy sheds

Like most of the corrugated iron and timber around this area, it was slowly rusting and decaying away.

Old Tyre Shop Mechanics.

The guy here used to sell oil, petrol and tyres...... don't think he sold Slush Puppies in big paper cups.

Aussie Water Cannon

Used to disperse rioting turf farm workers.

It's actually a bloody big sprinkler.

Tractor on the Wilberforce road.

I dig this tree.

Looks like an old warrior that has come off second best to a lightning strike, wind storm or termites. There's an old truck in the yard too.

This like a few other shots was hard to get mainly from a parking perspective. The roads were quite narrow and as the turf farms had gradually been dug out over time. thus there was about a 12" drop on the roadside in places. I had to park about 200 yards down the road and contend with some fast moving traffic along the way.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Lawn Bowls Club

Here's some photos from up the mountains around Hazelbrook. (up 300mtrs altitude, up about 15kms by road and up about 15 mins by car) .

The above is the Hazelbrook Bowling and Sporting Club. Main activity is Lawn Bowls which remains the bastion of those usually elderly Australians with a bit of a sporting streak left in them. Think a) ten pin bowling under the influence of b)Mandrax played on c) grass as smooth as a billiard table. The more competetive grades go all out for the flag, the less competetive have a beer on either end waiting for them.

If I ever take up lawn bowls, I'll be the guy drinking beers from the sidelines.

Cricket Pavillion

Original cricket pavillion was demolished due to white ants and age, second pavillion burnt down, this solid-as-a-brick-shithouse construction is reincarnation number three.

Tennis courts in the background give a further idea of the sporting ethos of the town...... I think there's a library somewhere?

Single Lane Bridge

Wooden fence and tin shed

This was taken at the back of the Selwood Science & Puzzles Museum, reminds me a lot of where I grew up with old timber fences and rusting corrugated iron sheds. I can almost hear the chooks clucking away in the background.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Australia Day

It's Australia Day today, much like any other, you really wouldn't know it. I suppose I identify with being an Aussie, not out of any rabid nationalism but out of not really knowing anything else. I've spent two months in Europe as an adult but all my life of growing up on this island isolated from the rest of the world with a heavy cultural input from the USA and the UK.

I suppose this has formed in a way who I am.

Five things that are cool about Australia.

1. Meat pies, I still indulge in these awful things described as "a bit of minced meat in gravy wrapped up in pastry of an unknown origin."..... which are absolutely delicious! The trick is to find a pie shop has pies with flaky pastry and a tasty filling. There happens to be one down the street.

2. The Health system. Last year a growth formed under my nose after a particularly stupid accident with a razor shaving before a wedding. The scar would not heal and formed a growth. I saw the GP who referred me to a plastic surgeon and I had plastic surgery within a couple of weeks. All free (sort of.... I pay 2.5% of my tax towards medical) and I now have the kudos of having a card of "my plastic surgeon" and the dubious honour of having a nose job.

3. Wine. Cheap and plentiful. My current Fave is Jacob's Creek Reserve Label which I picked up for something like $120 a case. My laundry is stacked with some Aussie "big reds" which occasionally see the light of day.

4. A reasonably equitable wage system. Americans spin out when they hear that waiters here make a minimum of around $18 an hour sometimes more. I'm on a disproportianate amount for what I do compared to other countries except probably Germany and France. The current Howard conservative Govt is attempting to dismatle this to send the moeny the shareholders way.

5. The impact of the post WWII immigration boom. Before this, Australia was a meat and three veg kinda place. A rather strange British outpost with the entrenched class system and a beige sort of existence. The Europeans and more recently Asians and Middle Easterners have injected some colour into the landscape. They usually start with the food and take it from there.

Five things that are not so cool about Australia.

1. Like it or not there is still an underlying conservatism verging on the xenophobic in parts. Case point, a pick up truck with Australian flags on the rear window as well as "Australia, Love it or leave it" in cut out vinyl lettering. Evangelical churches are popping up like mushrooms on the landscape offering instant salvation for the unworthy.

2. Real estate prices. Average price for a house in Sydney is around $450,000, this has something to do with the equitable wage system as well as the low estate agents fees IMHO. Agents here make 3% or less on a sale which may force up the price long term. I'm not sure how young people with a minimum wage can afford it.

3. Oligopolies. Media, supermarkets, oil, politics, airlines. There aren't enough players and those willing to take the risk and start up a new venture in Australian the oligopoly industry are shut out with some fierce competition until they are broke. Politics is under a mainly two party system which have gradually drifted into the "right" and "centre right" over time.

4. Ridiculous speed limits, traffic fines and penalties. A three lane motorway here has a speed limit of 110kmh( 65mph) in France it's 130kph(around 80mph). The speed limits haven't kept up with road and automotive technology. If I was to be caught at 30kph over the speed limit on a motorway, I'd have to hand over my license to the polite copper and somehow get a lift home.... and face a fine of up to $1000.

5. Going for a swim or walk and not coming back. Sharks, crocodiles (in the north), bloody poisonous spiders, snakes, jellyfish, octopii (or is that octopuses?), stingrays, stonefish. One becomes aware that nature isn't the fuzzy warm image that Greenpeace throws up when being swallowed by a noah whilst going about your job.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Hello Possum

Snapped last night.

The Common Brushtail Possum (Trichosurus vulpecula, from the Greek for "furry tailed" and the Latin for "little fox") is the largest possum, and the Australian marsupial most often seen by city-dwellers, since it is one the very few that thrives in cities as well as a wide range of natural and human-modified environments. Despite its resemblance to a fox's brush, the characteristic tail is prehensile and is naked on its lower underside.

Like most possums, the Common Brushtail is nocturnal. It is mainly a folivore, but supplements its usual diet of leaves with fruit, invertebrates, flowers, buds, and whatever else is available. In most Australian habitats, leaves of Eucalyptus are a significant part of the diet but rarely the sole item eaten. This is probably because of the tannins and other chemical defences present in eucalypt leaves. Around human habitations, Common Brushtails are inventive and determined foragers with a liking for fruit trees, vegetable gardens, and kitchen raids.

They are highly inquisitive and live in troupes of about a dozen individuals with a complex social structure not dissimilar from wolves and primates.

During the day, Common Brushtails sleep in a den in a hollow tree or any other convenient place, notably ceiling spaces that are not securely sealed. Although primarily aboreal and not found in places without trees to provide refuge, they spend a good deal of time on the ground. They are able to stand upright.

This brushtail possum is about the size of a large very muscular cat. I can tell it's arrived by the big "Thump!" nightly on the balcony or the handrail. And from the intial landing, it tends to jump, climb and land all over the place. A quick look with the flashlight reveals one guilty looking possum having a good poke around.

This one rather likes sunflower seeds which I leave out at night from time to time. It's an inquisitive creature, getting stuck in a drainpipe leading from the roof which I had to undo so it could make a welcome escape. I think it's had a fight with amy rather territorial large cat at one stage, cat came off second best and avoids Mr. Possum at all costs!

Monday, January 22, 2007

As useful as ........................

..... screen windows on a submarine.
......a wheel on a crutch. ashtray on a motorcycle
......a one armed wallpaper hanger.
......a one-legged tightrope walker.
......a chocolate teapot.
......a hat full of arseholes.
..... tits on a bull.
..... a three dollar note
..... an ejection seat in a helicopter.
..... a map of the Sahara.
..... a wet towel.
..... a sundial in a mineshaft.
..... a Volkswagen radiator.
..... a bicycle to a fish.
..... a toothbrush to a turtledove.

I couldn't find a collation of these, so decided to do it myself. Additions welcome.

The Snake

The toothless old gummy black cat jumped in the front window last Friday night with his "meow, meow, meow" of "I'm so clever here's what I have caught for you!". I turned to take a look at the rat, mouse, lizard, mouse that is the usual. However this time it seemed a little LONGER than usual and it head seemed to be wriggling around. "JEEZUS, IT"S A BLOODY SNAKE."

I was sitting here at my desk and put my feet up on the desk at once, looking down at the cat who had let the wriggly thing go and was watching it with interest as it slid behind the desk. I was perched there looking down in horror to see how long it was...... it was only small about two feet and skinny.

I now had a snake in the house (albeit a small one) and had on a pair of shorts and not much else. First priority get some thicker clothes on so if it did bite me, it wouldn't do much damage. Second thing, get it outside.

Third consideration. Downunder we have 8 out of ten of the world's deadliest snakes, thus every snake is treated as something that will potentially send one to one's maker in rather short order.

So I gently pushed the chair on wheels away from the desk with me with my legs up in the air. Then, when a suitable distance away, raced off to get some heavier clothes on whilst the cat looked after the snake, I was contemplating veterinary bills in the meantime, the last case of $900 for some gas. This one would be even more if it got him.

Then a method of attack to get the snake.

I remembered that a snake is essentially on the lower level of the intelligence scale so it would be a matter of guiding the serpent towards a "something" that would hold it, covering it and sending it on it's way outside. Man has the advantage in this case, one can safely make a dumber creature go in the direction he wishes.

So I returned in a thick pair of pants, leather boots and some gloves. I found a small storage tub and got a 12inch ruler. The snake meanwhile had ended up under the sitting room chair. Cat was peering underneath waiting for it to come out.

Cat was put outside not to further complicate things. Snake looked rather quiet as it was night time and his blood was cold. I poked him towards the tub and he was in. Threw my swimming towel over the top and held it down TIGHTLY so the bloody thing wouldn't slither out.

I then RAN outside to the bush and CAREFULLY removed the towel, tipped the tub and the side and the snake slithered away into the night. I had a look at it in the torchlight and it seemed to be a bright irridescent green so was probably a small tree snake or grass snake. Someone told me later the bad ones are usually dark.

Unfortunately no photo, I was not in a clear and present state of mind at the time.

There was news from last week about a teenager down in the"flatlands" in the Western Suburbs in Sydney around 7 miles away, who was bitten by an Eastern Brown Snake and sadly, later died. The Eastern Brown is 8 times more poisonous than an Indian cobra..... jeust to give you an idea.

The young guy's mistake was to run back home from where he was bitten. I don't think he knew that the faster you run and more blood that is pumped around your body, the more effect the poison will have on you. The poison is fed back through the body through the lymphatic system where it then attacks the bloods coagulation properties.

I heard at a First Aid course of a forest ranger who was bitten by the same snake after being airlifted in and stayed still for a week in bed until the chopper came back to get him out. He survived although he was rather sick.

Sunday, January 21, 2007


There's an angry sun sitting on the horison(that's a pun not a typo) telling me, "I'm on my way.....and I'm going to kick your ass today buddy.". It's going to be something like 42 degrees today, hot , hot, hot, hot. That's about 106 or something in the Fahrenheit scale so I'll probably use my season swimming pass to great effect during the heat. Either that, or skulk around some air conditioned shopping malls and hardware centres, looking interested and keeping cool.

So this morning a group of kookaburras are teaching their baby kookaburras how to laugh, a lyrebird is in the valley below warbling away and the weird summer insects are clicking and buzzing before it gets too hot to go through with any energy sapping courtship rituals.

The heat throughout this summer has resulted in me being extremely busy at work in the beverage factory, hence the woeful number of posts over the past few weeks. Add to that, I am in negotiations to buy a new place a bit further up the mountain. So like Peter I'm now back in the land of the mortgaged! It isn't as Parisian chic but it sits high on the mountain and there lots of birds around (not sure about the wallabies) Here's a pic.

Anyway, later today(or this week) I'll write a bit more about my tales of house hunting and about a course in "management" which I am currently undertaking which is further keeping me from le blogs.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Roger Ramjet: Dumb Waiters

One of my favourite cartoon series which is still played on Australian TV from time to time on the ABC.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Tommy Seebach

I posted the Youtube below and for some reason blogger doesn't allow Youtube edits.

Anyways.... i found some info on the artist Tommy Seebach and the Seebach band. Apparently this clip did the rounds in 2005. I missed that boat so here it is for anyone else that missed it.

Danes dressed in buckskins playing disco music with scantily clad women dancing around in bikinis has a certain cultural value IMHO.

Tommy Seebach (September 14, 1949-March 31, 2003), born Tommy Seebach Mortensen, was a popular Danish singer, composer, organist, pianist and producer. He is considered Denmark's pop king. He was married to Karen and they had three children: Nikolaj, Rasmus and Marie.

Tommy was born in Copenhagen. He started his musical career as an organist in his own group "The Colours" at 14 years of age, and in the years to follow he played in many pop and beat groups. He played piano with various orchestras and groups, sometimes going under the name of "Boogie-Woogie-Tommy". He broke through when in 1965 he became a member of the group Sir Henry And His Butlers, writing many of their most popular hits. In 1976 he also began performing solo, and with great success. His hit album "Tommygun" was released in 1977. At the same time he was in high demand as a producer at his record company EMI, and was involved in projects for among others Lecia & Lucienne.

He really hit his stride in 1979 when he won the Danish Melodi Grand Prix with Disco Tango (Danish lyrics) (English lyrics) which he coauthored with Keld Heick. It became a megahit both in Denmark and in other European countries. He represented Denmark at the Eurovision Song Contest 1979 with the song, and ranked number 6.

He participated in the Danish Melodi Grand Prix again in 1980 with "Bye-Bye", and once again he won the competition in 1981, singing Krøller eller ej (Danish lyrics) (literally "Curls or not", but translated as "Straight or Curly Hair") with Debbie Cameron. It ranked number 11 at Eurovision Song Contest 1981. This song was also coauthored with Keld Heick.

He participated in the Danish Melodi Grand Prix a number of other times during the 1980s (1982, 1984, 1985 and 1987) without winning the competition. He had a big hit in 1989 with the duet Du skælder mig hele tiden ud (translated, "You're Always Yelling at Me"), sung with Annette Heick, Keld Heick's daughter. They followed up this success with two more singles and a Christmas album.

Top success was once again his in 1993 at the Danish Melodi Grand Prix when he performed Under stjernerne på himlen, another song coauthored with Keld Heick. However, the success was fleeting, and the tides turned for him at the Eurovision Song Contest 1993 when the song received only 9 points, giving him a ranking of 22 out of 25. The poor ranking caused Denmark to be disqualified from the following year's contest. Tommy was blamed for Denmark's defeat, and he suffered greatly as a result.

The 1990s were lean years for him as a performer and recording artist. He had a comeback of sorts on account of a disco-version of Krøller eller ej released in 1999, as well as the release of a compilation album. He toured the country's discotheques at that time and found cult interest in his old hits among a new, younger public.

Ohhhh yeah