Saturday, January 28, 2006

Dust Storms

We just don't have storms like this in Scotland. This photograph was printed in banner format in the front page of the Australian on Friday. A grim reminder of how dry this country is.

Ozzie Joke

I have heard or seen this joke in various forms in the last few months, so I thought it needed to be formally shared more.

A koala is sitting in a tree smoking a joint when a little lizard
walks past and looks up and says to the koala "Hey! What are you

The koala says "Smoking a joint, come up and have some."

So the little lizard climbs up and sits next to the koala and they have
a few joints. After a while the little lizard says his mouth is dry and
is going to get a drink from the river.

The little lizard is so stoned that he leans too far over and falls into
the river. A crocodile sees this and swims over to the little lizard and
helps him to the side, then asks the little lizard, "What's the matter
with you?"

The little lizard explains to the crocodile that he was sitting smoking
a joint with the koala in the tree, got too stoned and then fell into
the river while taking a drink. The crocodile says he has to check this
out and walks into the rain forest, finds the tree where the koala is
sitting finishing a joint, and he looks up and says "Hey you!"

The koala looks down and says

"Faaaaarrrrk dude.......how much water did you drink?!!"

Friday, January 27, 2006

Cultural Celebrations

This week included Burns Night on the 25th and Australia Day on the 26th. Hoots and G'day to you too. Although I like Haggis, once in a while, it has been recently ranked as dangerous if taken daily. Personally I like Australia Day food better. This covers the Australian side of the celebration rather well.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

South Australia Radio Rant

overheard on the radio:

"Airport wont open for months, the trams air conditioning can't cope with the SA heat and the windows wont open, we can't maintain a continual power supply and we build a one way highway to nowhere...


Yeah, we're yokel."

Cookie Monster rools

My five year old son loves Cookie Monster from Sesame Street. He sits quietly through most of Sesame Street, but Cookie Monster gets him going. "Me love Cookie Me Love Cookies Me Cookie Monster...." as he dances around the room. I think he must appreciate his singleminded devotion to cookies.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Haggis Tacos and Borscht Music

On the eve of Burns Night, I am feeling a bit Scottish. There is always interesting music on Celtic Connections from BBC Radio Scotland. I can recommend Salsa Celtica for exuberance and Koshka for sheer musicality.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

It's hot here

It's the hottest spell of weather in Adelaide in 60 years. Yesterday afternoon was the peak electricity consumption in South Australia ever. Lots and lots of air conditioners humming. It really is bordering on intolerable. Yesterday and today were both over 40 degrees. I took the kids down to the beach and they burned their feet. Poor dears. Even the professional footballers had a formal drinks break during each half of the game last night. Cooler weather (low 30s) on the way.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Cheezy movie scenes

The plastic shark attack and the never exploding bomb disposal scene in Batman the Movie have to rank up there in preposterous movie scenes. It seems that the more improbable the better for young kids.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Adelaide Alleyways and Side Streets Project

This interesting blog focuses on alleys and side streets within the City of Adelaide, with photographs taken from interesting perspectives and angles. Nice work.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet

The CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet is a runaway best seller in Australia. We have a copy and have used it as a resource for healthy eating. It is currently confusing for average eaters with some pretty heavy duty nutritional argy bargy between "experts" as to the value and potential dangers of the diet. It is noteable for the heavy emphasis on red meat and fish as a protein source. Some of the funding of the study came from our good friends at the lets promote dead meat as an eating option. Evidence suggests that it works for many people. We enjoyed many of the recipes and will continue to use it as a resource.

Extreme Ironing

One of the things that I am really bad at is ironing. When I worked professionally, my major luxury was to have my work clothes laundered and pressed. Since I am a stay at home slob now, I cannot remember when I last ironed. These guys really are going above and beyond the call of duty.

It's gonna be a bumpy ride

Hot weather DVD watchin' time and now showing Harry Potter and the The Prisoner of Azkaban for the umpteenthousandth time. My son loves to mimic the accent of the shrunken head on the triple decker bus. I have probably almost seen all of the film now that the kids have watched it so many times.

Bob's Second Job

My kids noticed this morning that the narrator in Maisy was Bob the Builder. Certainly sounds the same. Busy guy that Bob.

Three Generations of Spike Milligan Fans

My kids love the Spike Milligan Poem/Song On the Ning Nang Nong. It was played over and over on some of our early Play School Videos. We all know the words off by heart.

You need to sing sillillilly with gusto.

On the Ning Nang Nong
Where the Cows go Bong!
and the monkeys all say BOO!
There's a Nong Nang Ning
Where the trees go
And the tea pots jibber jabber joo.
On the Nong Ning Nang
All the mice go Clang
And you just can't catch 'em when they do!
So its Ning Nang Nong
Cows go Bong!
Nong Nang Ning
Trees go ping
Nong Ning Nang
The mice go Clang
What a noisy place to belong
is the Ning Nang Ning Nang Nong!!

Later on the kids got into Bad Jelly the Witch

This is a book about the "horridabilist witch ever" written for his kids. There is a good adaptation available on video, which is narrated and interactively illustrated by Spike.

My Dad was often found chuckling in the toilet with Spike's war recollections. I am sure that my Dad identified strongly with the Spike's take on the extremely silly side of national service. He himself was sent to Suez, to "shoot up a few Arabs". I still don't know if he really saw action. I used to like to read his books. Anyway there is a good Spike Milligan site if you are interested.


Tumblebooks is a great resource for kids. A wide variety of well known kids books in digital format, fully narrated (American Voices). Fun and interesting for kids of all ages. Our library has a free link. Get your library to subscribe.

Fun Ozzie Poem

My kids love this poem.

Triantiwontigongolope by CJ Dennis

There's a very funny insect that you do not often spy,
And it isn't quite a spider, and it isn't quite a fly;
It is something like a beetle, and a little like a bee,
But nothing like a wooly grub that climbs upon a tree.
Its name is quite a hard one, but you'll learn it soon, I hope.
So try:

It lives on weeds and wattle-gum, and has a funny face;
Its appetite is hearty, and its manners a disgrace.
When first you come upon it, it will give you quite a scare,
But when you look for it again, you find it isn't there.
And unless you call it softly it will stay away and mope.
So try:

It trembles if you tickle it or tread upon its toes;
It is not an early riser, but it has a snubbish nose.
If you snear at it, or scold it, it will scuttle off in shame,
But it purrs and purrs quite proudly if you call it by its name,
And offer it some sandwiches of sealing-wax and soap.
So try:
         Triantiwontigongolope .

But of course you haven't seen it; and I truthfully confess
That I haven't seen it either, and I don't know its address.
For there isn't such an insect, though there really might have been
If the trees and grass were purple, and the sky was bottle green.
It's just a little joke of mine, which you'll forgive, I hope.
Oh, try!

News from the Budgie Cage

We currently have 12 adult and 8 baby budgies. The numbers fluctuate as we give away or sell our growing flock. Don't want too much inbreeding do we. When the babies are born, they are about the size of a Malteaser, but quickly grow. They are tended by multiple parents. I can recommend budgies as low maintenance pets. I converted an old wardrobe and they live in there. The kids love to hold the babies, before they can fly and you have chirpy noises in the background all the time. Other than food and water, they don't need much, unlike chickens who scratch everywhere and ducks who poop everywhere. The dog is fairly discrete in that area, but he is annoying.

Attack of the Killer Sun

Apparently only a small percentage of Australians are aware of the long term damage from the sun to their eyes, according to a survey conducted by Optometrists. Over 30 percent of Australians over 55 have cataracts. Almost all Australians are aware of the damage to their skin and people are generally pretty good about protecting themselves. Since I moved to Australia a few years ago, I am often surprised by how many people my age and younger have had melanomas removed. It is very real. Growing up in Scotland, sun damage and related cancers were not high on the medical agenda. Here in Adelaide, you only have to be out for a few hours to get burned badly. Time to Slip Slap Slop and get your hat (and sunnies) on. It wont be long before it will be too dangerous to go out without full body cover. I wonder if dogs get sunburn?

Monday, January 16, 2006

Aurevoir les plastic shopping bags

Our local council has a great programme, where you can swap 5 plastic disposable grocery bags for a brand new reusable shopping bag. I took 10 bags in to the library and go two brand spanking new purple reusable bags. The South Australian Government is planning to ban all disposable shopping bags within the next 5 years and everybody is working to reduce plastic bag use. Personally I think that they are useful in small amounts. Where else do you get your rubbish bags?? So sensible programmes do make sense. Checkout operaters at the local supermarket now have to harrass you not to use disposable bags, along with asking whether you have Fly Buys (Loyalty Programme). Most don't give bags unless you ask for them if you are buying a small number of items. Bunnings Hardware stopped giving free bags and made free boxes available. I just have to remember to use the reusable bags. (Very hard)

Kids Parties

Just recovering from two kids parties in two days. Fast Food kids parties are expensive, annoying, unhealthy and you have to hang out for too long with other parents that you would rather not. Other than that my five year old son loves them. His sister, who has a gluten and dairy intolerence is generally banned from attending, because of the extreme health hazard. The first was on Saturday night at Hungry Jacks (Burger King in Australia). Two and a half hours later, they were all thrown out full of crap, with a second helping of sugar, to boost their hyperenergy and a stupid plastic toy that doesn't work and then breaks. My son got to wear his new Darth Vader outfit, which was highly appreciated him and his 5 year old peers. Lots of chasing and fighting. Luckily I was able to get out of staying for most of it. The party on Sunday was a Superhero party at McDonalds. Not many McDonalds do kids parties, these days, since many have reduced play areas to make room for McLatte's. The full quorum of Junior Spidermen, Wonderwomen, Ninja Turtles, Batmen, Supermen and a Power Ranger were present. They took much to long to feed the kids who were really cranky after using up all their powers for over an hour. I stayed, since my partner refuses to go to these kinds of parties. It was only tolerable because the cricket was on the radio and I had adult male kudos, with updates for the cricket nuts.

The real reason to go to Ikea

Apparently Ikea counts all the meatballs that they have sold. If you were to lay them end to end, you could go from Adelaide to Perth and back (or something like that). Truly scrumptious.

Ikea comes to Adelaide

Adelaide is just about to move up the league in important world cities, with the opening of Ikea in April. I love Ikea. We have outfitted many houses and apartments with their stuff. Much of it has been dragged around the world with us. I especially love the meatballs. Casual Living Furniture, LeCornu and the like must be quaking. The traffic jams on opening day will be legendary. It is ironic that it is next to the still to be fully opened Brand Spanking New Airport Terminal with "state of the art facilities" (which cannot be used). Opened with much hoo ha by Honest John and still not able to be used, due to a major screw up by the fuel system contractor. No opening date yet. Don't schedule a flight for April 10.

Sunflower Emergence

The first of our sunflowers emerged this morning. There is something phenomenally uplifting about sunflowers.

Cow and Sheep Farts

Apparently between 10 and 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in Australia are from Cow and Sheep pop offs (that's what we encourage our children to say). I think that Honest John and his cronies need to consider culling farm animals rather than promoting dubious, expensive and big business friendly technology options. If we all stopped eating meat, our greenhouse gas emissions would plummet. Great in theory, but I love my lamb (especially for Australia Day). By the way, I love the current red neck Eat More Lamb Campaign from the Australian Meat and Livestock Association.

Donald and Douglas

Donald and Douglas are my favourite engines on Thomas the Tank Engine. They are a useful link to my cultural heritage. My kids always make "Och Aye" types of comments, which makes me laugh. This morning's went "They are from Scotland" "It's freezing there" As usual the twins save the day. As an aside, the Island of Sodor Railway must be the most unprofitable transportation company in the universe (other than NASA). Every day they have major disasters (crashes, smashes, destroyed buildings and vital infrastructure, major delays, broken down engines, low productivity....). They must have a lot of government subsidies.

Go Nick Xenophon

I really admire Nick Xenophon, the No Pokies MP in the South Australian Upper House. He has a fantastic ability to pick up on important, often contentious issues and get them in the media and in front of people. I real breath of fresh air with the Premier modeled on the Tony Blair "just talk about what you want to talk about and don't answer direct questions" type of discourse. He was elected last time due to preferences (Yes we have a progressive election system in Australia). I particularly liked his model train with a gravy box on the front steps of Parliament House. I hope that the meany major parties don't conspire to cut him out of a seat in parliament. At least the local papers are getting behind him. My seven year old daughter would not be so keen on him if she knew that he has advocated banning the sale of Tamagotchi's in South Australia, because they have a slot machine game when they reach the age of four. Apparently playing this game will lead to gambling addiction later in life. Not sure about that one Nick.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Domestic Tasks

I am getting very good at not destroying clothes when they are being washed. We have a new front loader and I seem to be able to get it right most of the time. Very few caustic comments now from she who knows how to wash. Where we have most arguments is with hanging out and folding. I almost never meet her high standards. I am often banned from doing the washing for that reason. We are lucky in Adelaide and can hang clothes out all year and primarily for that reason, we do not have a drier. The kids also love to climb on the revolving line. It is an excellent piece of play equipment. My clothes line layout just does not meet her orderly requirements. I actually like to look at her layout and design, but I struggle to invest the same energy. It must be a boy thing.

Saturday, January 14, 2006


Agave grow fantastically well in Adelaide's climate. You see them everywhere. I have many in my relatively small garden. They are indestructible, drought tolerant and attractive. I especially love the symmetry of the plants.

It's nice here

Adelaide and South Australia has a bad rap with some Australians as being parochial, full of churches, petrol heads, bikies, bad haircuts and wierd murderers. Many people from outside Australia have never heard of it, although the Economist Intelligence Unit recently ranked it in the top 10 for the worlds most liveable cities, significantly higher than Port Moresby, Cumbernauld, Kabul and Baghdad. All I want to say is that it is nice here. After too many years of Scottish winters and hit and miss summers, I am happy to take advantage of the predictably nice weather and low stress lifestyle. I have not lived anywhere else that has such nice unspoilt and relatively unused beaches within easy reach of such a large population. The kids and the dog love to run and play in the sand and sea. We often go and find that there is nobody within 200 metres. Anyway I will take it. It suits me. You are welcome to beach crowds like those in the photograph.

Children's Haircuts

I recently went into a local Mens Barber to have my children's hair trimmed. Although he did a lovely job on my son, the terms of his lease did not allow him to trim an inch from my daughters long hair. Apparently that was a condition for the other hairdresser in the mall approving the lease. I had to drive elsewhere and wait over an hour. Pretty silly.

Gluten and Dairy Free Zone

Half of our family have a dairy and gluten intolerance, so we have to shop around for some of our ingredients. Australia is soo much better than anywhere else that we have lived. Even in California, it was challenging. Gluten free and dairy free products are readily available in small and large supermarkets and in local coffee shops. The great thing is that the price premium is not huge and many of the products taste like the "real" thing. Thanks Orgran, Pure Harvest,So Natural,Freedom Foods, Sanitarium and the other manufacturers. Adelaide also has some great bakeries that produce very satisfyin Gluten Free products, including Lifestyle Bakery, Orange Spot Bakery and Millies Baker, The local health food shops in Adelaide also do a great job.

Great Listening

I really like to listen to DIG on the computer. It is from the ABC and has a great range of interesting music, with good documentation with each track. It is also on the radio on Saturday nights. There is a country and jazz channel also. It is so much easier to get access to great music. I have strong memories of trying to tune in Radio Luxembourg on our valve radio in the 1960s. It used to fade in and out and crackle a lot.

Coca Cola Zero

Coca Cola Zero has got to rank as one of the worst soft drinks out there. Having suffered New Coke in the 1980s, I am always suspicious of overblown advertising campaigns. Based upon my observations of full shelves on hot days, Australian consumers are not impressed. Personally I think it has a dead and uninspiring taste. I can strongly recommend passing.

Growing Native Trees

One of the things that I occupy my time with is propagating native trees to be planted throughout South Australia. Here, like many parts of the world has lost many native species and this programme helps to reestablish vegetation in private and public land. The seeds are collected by trained volunteers and dispensed, along with growing supplies to hundreds of volunteers by Trees for Life. I grow about 600 seedlings every summer and they are transferred and planted in the autumn (April/May). It is a fantastic grassroots environmental programme that really makes a difference. At the moment the first lot are just getting established and the second batch are germinating. The only annoying bit is filling the growing tubes - really tedious.

Go Power Rangers

My five year old loves the Power Rangers. I had never heard of them for 45 years and there they were front and central with all the multicultural Superhero morphing good versus evil crazy action that you could need in ten lifetimes. I marvel at how such cheezy storylines and wacky action could keep him so captivated for so long. As a parent, I really appreciate their seductive attraction, which allows me to get on with other things.

South Australia Solar Power

Apparently South Australia has 42 percent of the installed solar power in Australia, more than NSW and Queensland combined accoring to our never wrong Premier. Seems to me that we could have lot more in South Australia and Australia generally. This is a hot and sunny country. Obviously, big coal and the like run energy policy in this country. The barriers currently include large up front capital costs, despite government support programmes, long paybacks (up to 20 years) and insufficient incentive to return to the grid for renewable energy. Must be a better way than lots of new power stations and associated infrastructure.

Really Annoying Virtual Pets

The Tamagotchi virtual pet has got to be the most annoying childrens toy. I mean it was much more annoying than our terrier. It captured the imagination and completely captivated my seven year old daughter. She quickly got the hang of it but still managed to allow over 10 to die and return to Tamagotchi Heaven. This was despite the experienced mother instinct of her mum and dads experience in cleaning up after animals. The first "death" was devastating, but after each sad event, it became very routine. The enormity of it all was resolved with the click of two buttons. The constant beeping was only relieved last Monday when it went caput, never to work again. Despite some emergency Daddy medical care and lacking the receipt, the Tamagotchi has become the latest discarded toy stuffed in the storage cupboard. The question is should we bury it? Bye Bye Tamagotchi It is a virtual pet after all. Perhaps an online mass graveyard? Could we stand to get another? She still holds out hope that it will start up again. Not long until "Can I get another Tamagotchi?? Pleeeease Daddy............

Annoying Yanqui Internet Ways

It really annoys me that when set up preferences on some Yanqui internet sites, we have multiple arabic language options and one English (Yanqui) option. Hello there are a lot of different types of English. There are more English speakers in India than the rest of the world put together. While I am at it, it also irritates me to have to put the date in m/d/y format. OK I am done. Have a nice day (y'all).

Family Management Skills

I sometimes feel like herding cats with my human and animal charges. Courtesy of Google Video.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Overweight Tour Down Under Season

This is the time of the year in Adelaide when middle aged, overweight and unfit men get their expensive and not so expensive cycling gear out to show the world. Cycling gear has got to be the worst form of body cover for bulging people, with its skin hugging elasticated fabric. These enthusiastic souls roam around the city in packs, in the hottest weather of the year, hopefully avoiding over aggressive petrol driven aggressors, of which there are many. The season lasts until about a fortnight after the tour www.tourdownunder.com.au finishes and the bikes and the gear go back in the garage for another year.

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