31.10.03

The Botanical Gardens in Sydney have just taken delivery of ten Eastern water Dragons . These are found in various habitats here, but are in danger of becoming extinct around Sydney, according to the report in the paper.

I ws surprised to hear this. One of my sons lives in a cul-de-sac in northern Sydney, facing a very large, deep, bushy valley. We are always careful as we approach his house, as often some of these dragons are on the road sunning themselves. The largest we have seen there is well over a metre, while there are many smaller. I once greatly annoyed their cat by locking her inside so that a small one was able to escape into the bush surrounding their garden.

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30.10.03

Yesterday I found an email from the State Debt Recovery Office in my inbox. This office collects unpaid speeding fines, parking tickets, state charges and whatever else it can find to raise the state's revenue.

In the early 90s we had a girl from California living with us while she studied drama and music at Wesley Institute for Ministry and the Arts. She had several unpaid parking tickets over the years. About two years ago a letter was sent from the office trying to collect the fines, although the time elapsed was beyond the statute of limitations. I guess they'll try just about anything. I tried to speak to them but they would not listen as I was a third party. I sent an email saying she had returned to the USA and I had no contact with her. An acknowledgement was sent to me by email.

Yesterday's mail was a pro forma email saying my query would be dealt with in the next two days. I replied that the system was slack, needed some work etc. Back came another pro forma reply. I haven't heard anything more yet.

However, in today's paper, the State Debt Recovery Office received a blast from the Auditor General. He commented that the whole office procedure was slack and needed urgent revision. Refunds often took months and many times letters were sent out without checking whether the fines had actually been paid. Continued non-compliance with their demands can lead to registration and driver's licence being cancelled and eventually to prison.

My experience certainly suggets that procedures need attention.

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Some time ago, Fred bemoaned the typos and little spelling mistakes that some of us pick up on. I'm prone to typos, but I am a good speller and spot mistakes with my eyes shut. Well almost, as I wrote in his comments. Several others felt as I did.

Today I did a double take as I walked past a new food shop in my local multicultural shopping centre. Lots of non-diary drinks on sale said the sign.

By the way, if you haven't met Fred yet, head over his way. A treat is in store.

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28.10.03

dag's dictionary
I was listening to drivetime on the ABC with Richard Glover. Each week he runs what is called the "dag's dictionary" for those words which ought to be invented. This week's situation was," A word for the person in the train who lets everyone in on his private life through his loud use of his mobile." One example submitted was a"bragaphoney."

He then asked listeners to relate the worst example of this behaviour that they had seen.

Far and away the worst I could remember was a well dressed young man in his twenties relating in detail how he had "scored" the night before. He advised his friend to ask this particular girl out, because he too might be lucky. Just revolting.

Another I heard was actually quite frightening. A businessman sitting behind me was discussing business details on his mobile. He then gave out his email address to the person on the line. Worse than that was that the whole carriage heard not only the address, but also his password, carefully spelled out so friend could make no mistake.

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In July I wrote of the problems of copyright for Ern Malley, a poet who never existed, who was the creation of James McAuley and Harold Stewart. The hoax has intrigued many since 1944 when Ern was born one afternoon and died later that same day aged twentyfive years.

The poems the pair wrote and attributed to Ern Malley have been published in anthologies of Australian verse. Peter Carey's novel. My life as a Fakeand a musicalAngryPenguins are based on the hoax.

A new twist has now appeared.the artist Garry Shead, did several large paintings after reading the poems. While living at Hill End in NSW he discovered a pottery making enormous pottery urns. After collaborating with the potter, nine enormous urns have been decorated. The poems are engraved, sculpted or painted on the urns which are also painted. Not bad influence for such a short life!

(Taken from the Arts section of the Sydney Morning Herald.

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27.10.03

legacy of the Canberra bushfires
It was reported today that almost thirty horses were known to have died through eating Patterson's Curse, which has sprung up in paddocks around Canberra. Many more are thought to be suffering from liver problems caused by the alkaloids in the weed.

In some states it is known as Salvation Jane as it will grow when there is almost nothing else. Animals in these states do not suffer from the poisoning to such a great extent as they have slowly become accustomed to the weed. If sheep, cattle or horses were moved from a free environmnet to one where the weed grows readily, they would be poisoned as they would not know not to eat it and their livers would not be eqipped to handle the poison.

As the pictures in the link above show, paddocks of the weed make a beautiful but deadly sight. I suppose that's much like many things in life too.

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daylight savings again
Some people just don't get it, do they? We have had daylight savings here for many years and put our clocks on last Saturday evening. Today the annual grumbles start to appear in the paper.

One woman from Gunnedah in the state's northwest declared that it was blasphemy. "No one but God should be able to dictate the time of the rising and setting of the sun. " In her opinion, Remembrance Day, the 11th hour of the 11th Day of the 11th month, was now a travesty and lie, because the time had been changed. It seems that the time was more important to her than the memory.

I like the extra hour and am pleased that I can now wake up at a reasonable time. My body has been waking far too early for several weeks now in anticipation. Those in places like Gunnedah do have some grounds for complaint. Those school children from country properties who travel by bus to and from shool will be on the bus in the hottest part of the day. At least she didn't say that the extra hour's sun would fade the curtains.

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After a visit to the doctor, I sat outside a café and enjoyed a flat white. There must have been a fancy dress party at the nearby Leichhardt Town Hall. Up the street came a family day care mum, pushing a stroller. At her side were two small boys about two years old and two little girls. The girls joined several other rainbow dressed fairies. One of the small boys had a Spiderman costume, the other a Batman T-shirt, way too big and trailing on the ground

Perhaps the best costume was that on another small boy. He was Captain Feathersword from the Wiggles. He had black rubber boots, a wide belt, eye patch, fancy hat and sword. He marched boldly up the street, waving the sword in self defence. Unfortunately, the impression waas somewhat spoiled. The other hand held very tightly to his mother. It amused me, then I thought that we are like this too. We often hold fast to what we consider our security.

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In a tornado-like storm in southern Queensland yesterday, a house was picked up and deposited several kilometres away. The house, unfortunately was demolished. Somewhat luckier were those inside who had only minor injuries, despite their lucky escape.

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