The Time Has Come (the Walrus said) Archives

A few sights from HK

Here is a random collection of a FEW photos from Hong Kong. (More coming soon).

Taken out of a bus window: This advertisement is PAINTED down the side of an apartment building:
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Contrast the shop (”Lingerie and Pink” with the truck below – bamboo scaffolding and the drivers hand hanging out with a fag in it):
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Cool building: It really does taper. Perhaps it was a terrible mistake and was built upside-down?
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Shane Moloney’s Address to Scotch College – 2001

Short, and worth reading:

here

Talk about biting the hand that feeds!

The weary travellers are returned

We is back. Tired after flying through the night and having about an hours sleep. A short nap this afternoon helped.

We have about 300 photos from 2 cameras, so getting this lot organised to put up a small selection of pictures might take a few days.

Brief impressions of Hong Kong:

- Food is expensive unless you eat in a local greasy spoon (we did not – they are notorious for giving you food poisoning)

- The air pollution is worse over the border in Shenzhen. HK was not too bad, just grey and hazy every morning – gradually clearing to a pale blue-ish sky by late afternoon.

- More Indian tailors offering to make a suit than you could believe. I must have refused about 20 to 30 offers A DAY for tailors.

- Ditto for copy Rolex watches!

- The MTR public transport system is fantastic. Getting around is easy, and fairly cheap. For more than a single day of travel the OCTOPUS card is a must. This is an electronic stored-value card which you can cash out when you leave. Makes hopping on and off trains very fast and very easy.

- Walking large distances is hot, and can be difficult because some roads are so busy that pedestrian access from one side to another means you need to go quite out of your way.

Pics soon.

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For reference, last years trip to HK and Shenzhen (Sep 2005):

Airbus
Hong Kong
Hong Kong Computer Shopping
Some HK pics
Shenzhen
Shenzhen Photos (be sure to check the picture about the services available in the hotel)

Male restroom etiquette

While I’m away… for your amusement (but note that this is the lower bandwidth YouTube version which does not take forever even on broadband).

Thanks to Darren:

Male Restroom Etiquette

This should also *help* to explain to some of the females readers (I kid myself… maybe one or two of you) some of the mysteries of the “mens room”.

Orf to Honkers again, Daaaarlings !!!

Next week I have some work meetings in Hong Kong and China, so…..

The whole family is coming too. We’re leaving a little before I need to, and coming back a little after. We get a week away – the family get a week in HK and a day in China. I get about 3 days with them, mooching around doing the tourist gawping thing, then act the business type for a couple of days of meetings in China – rejoining them when that’s all over.

We leave on Sunday – back the following Sunday.

Pics and stuff to come. If I get keen I’ll put a scheduled post on for the middle of the week just to keep y’all amused :-)

Dought, water, and what-not

So, what do we do about water, and shortages?

There is no simple, one-fits-all solution which will magically make things right. A series of measures need to be taken, which in combination will make a significant difference.

Starting with the greatest bang for buck is a simple way of getting some big benefits. These ideas about what should be done are not in any special order, just two categories.

Short term (less than 5 years)

Stop inappropriate farming.

It’s time to stop pussy-footing around the rural lobby groups.

This one is the responsibility of state governments which have been handing out water licenses for a very long time. Those governments should immediately begin a voluntary buy-back of irrigation water licenses at fair market rates.

At the same time, irrigators and farmers growing rice and cotton should be bought out, without right of appeal, for a fair compensation, and their farms returned to native vegetation.

Alternatively, those farmers could convert to a crop that requires (say) 90% less irrigation. In that case they would have to give a legally enforceable undertaking, in perpetuity (perhaps through an encumbrance registered on the land title) that they will never indulge in high water consumption crops again. Some compensation may be needed for this option.

Buy and close Cubby Station.

The current Federal Government has so much money rolling in that they don’t know what to do with it all. They can fund the states for the compensation bills.

Educate, cajole, and price domestic water appropriately

Education about water consumption has been going on for at least 30 years. It clearly has not worked, judging by the number of people who still hose down driveways, and turn showers on flat out. That does not mean we should not stop, but we should use both carrot and stick.

This means that the price of urban domestic water needs to rise. By all means keep a small quota of cheap water (per year) – sufficient for people to maintain life and hygiene. Consumption beyond that can be considered a luxury and priced to create an economic disincentive to over-consumption.

At the same time, all houses with a spa should have a surtax imposed – perhaps higher council rates, or a state government levy. This removes the incentive to add water-guzzling spas. A similar surtax should be applied for all backyard swimming pools. In other words, those who wish to use water in an indulgent manner should pay an appropriate penalty for their indulgence.

Ban fountains

Public parks and gardens should have fountains turned off and drained. The sale of domestic fountains and water features in regions south of about Cairns should be illegal, with a penalty for sale of several thousand dollars.

Existing private fountains should be switched off, and drained. Government inspectors can enforce this with severe penalties for non-compliance. If that seems draconian, simply impose another surtax. Perhaps $500 per house per fountain per year. That will get them drained fairly quickly.

Subsidise the agricultural conversion to micro-jet and drip irrigation

Many irrigators grow using drip and micro-jet irrigation now, but too many still use overhead sprinklers. Governments should offer a subsidy program lasting 2 years, for which they pick up 50% to 80% of the cost price of materials for installation of drip or micro-jet irrigation systems.

At the end of the two years, those same Governments should then inspect and impose substantial penalties on growers who have refused to convert.

The largest impact is likely to be in Victoria and NSW – however this does not amount to state favouritism, because everybody benefits from more efficient water use.

Charge a more realistic price for industrial and agricultural water

Water for industrial use and Irrigation is charged at very low prices compared to domestic use. These prices need to rise, though parity would most likely lead to significant industrial disruption and uneconomic farmers. So rises need to be moderate, but scheduled to have well defined increments every 1 to 2 years, starting immediately, and running for a period of 10 to 20 years.

Long term (more than 5 years)

Improve the irrigation infrastructure

Recognising that irrigation will never be eliminated, we all must irrigate as efficiently as we can.
We must immediately start a program of conversion of the open irrigation ditches to lined & covered, or go into pipes. This will be expensive, with thousands of kilometres of irrigation ditches to convert. It will take a long time, but it will approximately halve the amount of water entering the irrigation systems for the same amount delivered.

Richard Pratt (the cardboard box king from Visy) made an offer several years ago to pay $200 million of his own money for exactly this purpose, provided the federal government matched his payment dollar for dollar. There has been no action because the federal government don’t want to play – for some bizarre reason. (SHAME ON YOU JOHN HOWARD).

Whilst the responsibility lies with the states, the issue crosses state borders and affects the entire eastern seaboard and south of Australia. It seems perfectly fair and reasonable that the national government aid in solving a national problem. And again, there is not a shortage of Federal money.

This infrastructure update is most likely very time consuming, so it should form part of a 20 year plan.

Freeze development of eastern states cities: future development in the wet north

Just like the title: no further expansion of existing eastern and southern cities. No more farming land and market gardens being chopped up for housing. No more growth of the outer endlessly sprawling suburbs. Land speculators don’t like that? Tough. Want compensation (for an intangible possible future gain)? Tough.

New cities should be built in the wet north where there is plenty of water. It’s also a perfect opportunity to build those new cities using the best possible practices for energy efficiency. Levels of thermal insulation can be mandated. Architecture and urban design can have huge freedom – provided houses are oriented correctly and meet energy consumption standards. It might be the opportunity to get rid of the no-eaves, no-shade urban abomination.

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And I’m sure there is more. But these measures would be a damn good step in the right direction. The government that implemented them would never get another vote from the rural farmers and National Party voters, ever again, but they comprise less than 3% of the economy and have a voice far beyond their economic weight. So who cares? It’s time for hard action.

Drought, rain, water & pollies – part 4

Continuing from part 3.

7. Cheap nasty agricultural practices

Take a drive through the irrigation districts in Victoria and New south Wales.

You will find hundred of kilometres of open irrigation channels. These are not small channels – these are a gouge in the ground about 4 – 5 metres across and goodness knows how deep. These channels are not lined, and not covered. The losses through evaporation are huge. So are the seepage losses.

Not only is water seeping through the channels, it raises the water table which makes salinity problems worse.

These channels have been built by state government authorities to deliver water to the irrigators, and it is ultimately up to state governments to get off their backsides and do something.

By contrast, take a drive through the irrigation areas in South Australia. When I was a child, there were open irrigation channels everywhere. These days you won’t find one. Somebody here was bright enough to put pipes in, years ago. A lot of money has been spent in SA converting to best practice irrigation through the fruit growing areas. It needs to happen elsewhere as well.

Similarly, when in irrigation areas, look at the practices of the farmers. There is almost no overhead / sprinkler irrigation left in South Australia. Drip systems and micro-jet sprinklers are normal, and seem to be used in 80% to 90% of farms (pastures excepted – but there is not much of that in SA). By contrast in Victoria there is a vast amount of overhead sprinklers being used to water grape vines and fruit trees. This is immensely wasteful.

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8. Inappropriate use / mixed messages

Why do we still build fountains? Why do we allow domestic sales of fountains and things that waste water? Why do we have different rules about waste for domestic and commercial users?

We can’t take conservation seriously until there is a consistent message, and a consistent set of rules, consistently applied.

Two simple examples:

Westfield staff hose down the footways and entrances to my local monster big Westfield shopping complex. Why is it OK for Westfield, but its not OK for me to hose down my driveway? (Not that I want to hose down my driveway, but consistency is lacking.)

My local council has a large new housing subdivision near where I live, and in this they have wide footpaths, and gardens, and trees and things. Most of these are natives, so they don’t need a lot of water. But they also have many large nice green lawns, and many kilometres of strip lawn between footpath and roadway. This is all on automatic sprinkler systems. At least these run at night. But why is it necessary to have a sprinkler with a throw of 3 metres to water a 1 metre wide strip of lawn. This usually results in 1 to 2 metres of road being watered. Last I knew, water does not make the road grow.

9. Ignorance

So many people have no idea about what they use, or how to do better. Just look at those using showers in the local public pools. Walk in, spin taps so water is going flat out. Adjust temperature. What’s wrong with turning it on a little, to get enough, but no more?

Similarly for office buildings with auto-flushing cisterns. They still exist, even in fairly modern buildings. These are usually on the men’s urinals – the sort that fill and flush, about every 5 to 10 minutes, whether there has been anybody there or not; all day – and all night. Building owners and managers either don’t know, or don’t care.

Many of these measures are simple and won’t do anything about drought, but they will cut the profligate waste in the cities. A lack of hypocrisy is a powerful position to have when trying to force change on others.

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Coming soon: What we should do.

Drought, rain, water & pollies – part 3

Continuing from part 2.

5. Grace and favour

State governments are COMPLETELY to blame for handing out water permits to irrigators. This has been going on for many, many years. It was a great way to curry favour with the farm lobby groups: you want a water license? No worries mate! Pump away.

No consideration has been given to capacity – until maybe a few years ago.

NSW and Victoria are especially notable in this regard. Everybody down river suffers – and rivers don’t respect state borders.

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6. Recycling water

The troglodytes in Toowoomba voted against recycling water. What a bunch of short-sighted NIMBY idiots. You may all end up wallowing in your own poo, rather than drinking it.

And to the local government people in Toowoomba who took this to a referendum: why did you do this? Why not just make a decision and do something? Instead you allowed emotional manipulation and blackmail to be used, and look at the silly result. Government is elected to govern. That includes hard decisions. Make them, and suffer the consequences. You are elected to do what’s right, not what’s popular.

In South Australia we have been using a large amount of water from the river Murray for many years. Guess where the effluent from all the river towns goes? Back in the river! We’ve been drinking recycled sewage for 30 years, and last time I looked there were not many people here with 2 heads and 3 arms.

Better use and recycling are sensible – but it will cost money. You need to treat the sewage to get it potable. We’ve been doing this in South Australia as well – for over 40 years, and we now recycle about 20% of the sewage. The rest is lovely and clean and we dump it out to sea, which is silly. But out 20% is a damn sight more than is done anywhere else.

And what is the recycled effluent used for? In South Australia – watering parks and gardens, and for market gardeners to grow the vegetables we eat.

7. Build cities where the water is

We have cities where the climate is nice (well, generally. Sydney in December does not really count as “nice”). We keep expanding them, and all these cities have small water catchment areas. We’ve been building over the fertile soils and market gardens, increasing the demand of these cities.

Yet to the north of Australia we have vast amounts of water. Something like 70% to 80% of the water that falls on the continent is in the far north, where it is not used for anything much.

Why do we continue to grow the large cities we all currently live in? Because that’s what we have always done. Not a very good reason, really.

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Next part coming soon.

Drought, rain, water & pollies – part 2

Continuing from Part 1:

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3. Consumption has grown

Not only do we have more people than 15 years ago, their use has gone up.

Just look from the air next time you fly on a commercial airliner over a major Australian city. Look at the number of backyard pools. There has been major growth in the use of backyard pools over the last 20 years. In the driest continent we allow these things to be dotted around, happily evaporating. They have to be filled from somewhere. The typical backyard pool loses half its water per year in evaporation.

Ditto for spas. How many new houses have a spa? These days it hard to sell a house wihtout a spa. These things are water gobblers, along with cottage gardens, and lawns.

The great populace have had their expectations raised, and expect and DEMAND that they can have a pool or spa, or both! And woe betide a politician who is brave enough to try and take them away.

4. Stupid agriculture

Why, in a dry country, do we grow rice? It might make sense to grow rice in the far north of Australia where the climate is more tropical and there is a lot more rain. But growing rice by IRRIGATION in NSW and Victoria is lunacy.

I used to support Australian farmers, and buy Australian rice. Not any more. I’ll try very hard to buy imported rice, and I urge everybody else to do the same. Growing rice in Australia is immoral.

Similarly, why do we grow cotton? The same arguments apply.

I’ll be even harsher about cotton. The pesticide sprays required are terrible things.

Australia should import cotton, which would deliver two benefits: we would not waste water growing it, and some other country can go and screw up their environment with the pesticides.

Cubby Station is criminal.

And another one: Why do we allow vast amounts of irrigated pasture in Victoria for milk cows? Once upon a time, before monster road tankers, each state had a local dairy industry. Now so much comes from Victoria that locals struggle to compete. The Victorians use oodles of irrigation water, the locals don’t. The irrigation water is way too cheap.

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Next part coming soon.

Drought, rain, water & pollies – part 1

We’ve heard a lot from assorted politicians lately about water – this after a long break from the Alan Jones beat-up about turning the rivers inland.

Duncan has had a good rant, here.

Now it my turn.

I’ll start by getting a few FACTUAL rants out of the way before moving on to some solutions.

1. Politicians cannot make it rain.

To all of the idiots in the National Party, and in my case the state Liberal opposition who want more dams / reservoirs built: for goodness sake, shut up. You are being silly.

Any building program that started now would come to completion in 5 to 10 years. It might be a good thing to start planning now, but putting out press-releases about lack of building, on the day water restrictions are announced, is just a stupid cheap shot that achieves nothing productive.

For good solutions we need all political parties to stop taking shots at each other and work cooperatively. What a nice change that would be.

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2. Privatisation is not going to help

By all likelihood, privatisation is part of how we got into the mess in the first place. The time lines vary a bit from state to state, but roughly speaking, about 15 years ago, state governments were strapped for cash. They stopped spending on major capital works. This was about when the next lot of water infrastructure should have started being built.

About 10 years ago, many state governments (and notably ours here in south Australia) started flogging off the management of the water infrastructure, with the continual mantra “the private sector can do it better”.

(Just how the private sector can run a public asset better is a bit of mystery: Government borrowings cost less than private, government departments don’t have to make a profit… but that’s a discussion for another day).

Anyhow, the private operators are hardly going to keep on the payroll the folks who do the trend monitoring and long term capacity planning. These are the folks who figure out that in 20 years we will need another dam, then figure out where it could be, start the feasibility processes, and eventually get the construction going. That all takes years – 5 to 15 years.

So, we have private operators who’ve sacked the long term planners, no long term planning in government, and about 10 years or so down the track we are starting to get in the poo.

Anybody surprised?

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Next part coming soon.

Drought & posturing

Fed up with pollies rabbiting on about rain and water.

Another post later about their appalling inaction, but in the meantime:

SAID HANRAHAN by John O’Brien

“We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
In accents most forlorn,
Outside the church, ere Mass began,
One frosty Sunday morn.

The congregation stood about,
Coat-collars to the ears,
And talked of stock, and crops, and drought,
As it had done for years.

“It’s looking crook,” said Daniel Croke;
“Bedad, it’s cruke, me lad,
For never since the banks went broke
Has seasons been so bad.”

“It’s dry, all right,” said young O’Neil,
With which astute remark
He squatted down upon his heel
And chewed a piece of bark.

And so around the chorus ran
“It’s keepin’ dry, no doubt.”
“We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
“Before the year is out.”

“The crops are done; ye’ll have your work
To save one bag of grain;
From here way out to Back-o’-Bourke
They’re singin’ out for rain.

“They’re singin’ out for rain,” he said,
“And all the tanks are dry.”
The congregation scratched its head,
And gazed around the sky.

“There won’t be grass, in any case,
Enough to feed an ass;
There’s not a blade on Casey’s place
As I came down to Mass.”

“If rain don’t come this month,” said Dan,
And cleared his throat to speak -
“We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
“If rain don’t come this week.”

A heavy silence seemed to steal
On all at this remark;
And each man squatted on his heel,
And chewed a piece of bark.

“We want an inch of rain, we do,”
O’Neil observed at last;
But Croke “maintained” we wanted two
To put the danger past.

“If we don’t get three inches, man,
Or four to break this drought,
We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
“Before the year is out.”

In God’s good time down came the rain;
And all the afternoon
On iron roof and window-pane
It drummed a homely tune.

And through the night it pattered still,
And lightsome, gladsome elves
On dripping spout and window-sill
Kept talking to themselves.

It pelted, pelted all day long,
A-singing at its work,
Till every heart took up the song
Way out to Back-o’-Bourke.

And every creek a banker ran,
And dams filled overtop;
“We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
“If this rain doesn’t stop.”

And stop it did, in God’s good time;
And spring came in to fold
A mantle o’er the hills sublime
Of green and pink and gold.

And days went by on dancing feet,
With harvest-hopes immense,
And laughing eyes beheld the wheat
Nid-nodding o’er the fence.

And, oh, the smiles on every face,
As happy lad and lass
Through grass knee-deep on Casey’s place
Went riding down to Mass.

While round the church in clothes genteel
Discoursed the men of mark,
And each man squatted on his heel,
And chewed his piece of bark.

“There’ll be bush-fires for sure, me man,
There will, without a doubt;
We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
“Before the year is out.”

From: “Around the Boree Log and Other Verses”, 1921

Dark choc tragedy

Wilma the Walrus’s Mum went on a trip around Queensland a month or so back.

During her travels she bought some dark chocolate with ginger, for me, the chocolate fiend.

I’ve been eking it out very slowly because this stuff is magnificent. It’s just dark chocolate with bits of real aw-stray-un ginger in it, but really, really good. TODAY I FINISHED IT. :( :(

Here are the details off the label:

“Jakes Candy”
Lot 275 Maddison Court
Bundaberg
(ph / fax 07 4152 2851)

If anybody ever comes across this stuff, get some, it’s good!

Now, I wonder if they’ll post some to me?

Todays Odds & Ends

For your pleasure and enjoyment:

The top 10 wierdest USB devices ever.

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And I could not resist these two sort-of-jokes:

Q: What’s brown and sticky?

A: A stick.

—–

Q: What’s wrinkly and sometimes hangs out your jocks?

A: Your grandmother.

—–

Unimpressed

You know how the cord on a mouse is a pain the #$%#? The cord gets caught on things, and drags the mouse around.

Finally, I had enough. Did my research about wireless keyboards and mice. Found that they all seem to suffer from batteries that go flat fast.

But, I also found one that came highly recommended, with 6 batteries, and the wireless receiver works as a battery charger: The Genius Wireless Twintouch Optical Office. Seemed perfect. About $68.

After a lot of trouble I found where to buy one, ordered it, and waited for it to arrive.

Works out of the box. Well, mostly. That’s when the troubles started.

After the glowing review I read, you’d think this thing would be PERFECT. Well, far from it. Perhaps the lesson is not to trust the reviewers unless they live with it for a week.

Let’s run through the problems:

1. The keyboard has “office” keys labelled WORD and EXCEL. Press them to start Word or Excel. NICE, you might think. Except they don’t work. Ever. The little “Receive” light on the wireless thingy never goes on when you press the buttons so it is not something set up wrong in the software or control panel.

2. The keyboard as a scroll wheel on it. You cannot configure how many lines it scrolls. Anywhere. Sometimes it will scroll, and sometimes it won’t.

3. You can click that scroll wheel on the keyboard. But it does not do anything. You cannot configure what it does.

4. The keys are heavy. At first it feel like a really nice keyboard, but after a bit of use you find it is heavy and it causes sore fingers, ad you fnd you hav all these lettrs yo did nt typ.

5. The mouse is HEAVY. Really heavy. A mouse should be light, and glide easily. This is so heavy you could squash small children under it. And it does not glide well.

6. The keyboard and mouse have to be “trained” to talk to the wireless receiver. Every now and again they decide they want to share the same channel to the receiver – so when you press (say) the control key and click something, you find the clicks are not recognised. Then it needs a laborious re-training of both items. Even then it can take 5 or 6 goes to get it right.

7. The mouse is SO sensitive that a move of about 1 cm moves the cursor across the whole screen. Changing the mouse sensitivity in the control panel DOES NOT WORK. Changing it and rebooting does not work either. Hacking the registry does not work either. Re-installing the driver software makes no difference.

Now, I’m sure there are ways to overcome some of the stupid software faults with the drivers and stuff. 20 years of playing with computers has not helped me find what those magical methods are, though.

My old keyboard and mouse have just come back.

So much for THIS wireless product. It’s most unimpressive. I’m told the readily available big-name brands are not a lot better.

Recite after me…. low tech is good, low tech is good…

Punch buggy… and no returns

The kids have this thing they picked up from school… apparently EVERYBODY does it.

When you see a Volkswagon Beetle, you have to say, loudly and quickly, whilst punching the arm of the person nearest: “Punch Buggy xxx Colour” – and optionally you can add “and no returns”.

The “xxx” bit has to be the right colour or it does not apply.

We have one near us, it looks like somebody painted it using a brush out of a can of house paint. It’s bright pink. Makes me laugh to drive past it in silence and suddenly have this chorus from the back of the car “Punch Buggy funny pink colour… AND NO RETURNS”.

Other cars are not suitable and lead to disqualification. However you do that!

Does anybody have ANY IDEA why or how this came about?

And do your children do it as well?

Absolute tossers

Howard: The war in Iraq (to remove Weapons of Mass Deception) has made the world safer.

Pfft!

Ruddock: Sleep deprivation is not torture.

Pfft!

Coonan: Media ownership law reform will improve things for us all.

Pfft!

Bishop: The Commonwealth should take over school curriculum to improve it.

Pfft!

Andrews: The new IR laws make things better, simpler, and fairer.

Pfft!

Mark Latham’s famous description seems more apt than ever: what a conga-line of suckholes.

Mr Mower 2

A bit like The Simpons having Snowball, and Snowball 2, we now have the successor to Mr Mower.

Mr Mower 2 is very similar to the original, very tough, very basic. It’s a Rover, made in Aw-straylia, from their Professional series, a SuperUte INTEK. Fancy name for an engine, some blades, a few wheels, and bit of pressed steel. He looks like this:

PushSuperUte.jpg

No catcher, 21 inch cutting width (normal mowers are only 18 inches). This time around we have an industrial Briggs & Stratton 4 stroke engine. No more mixing 2-stroke fuel and stinking like burnt oil after a session of grass cutting.

Our local Stanford Mowers had this one for a reduced price as part of their Spring Special. About 10% off. It’s still been a hefty, unexpected expense – but these things happen.

It’s been a bit warm today, so perhaps we’ll put him to the test tomorrow.

** Edit: found the receipt for Mr Mower 1 – bough in 1991 for the grand sum of $643. I suppose that means he’s cost a bit under $43 a year. Not bad, all told. Interestingly, Mr Mower 2 cost about the same, which just goes to show why manufacturing industry is suffering. If there has been no effective price rise for 15 years, how on earth are they making a buck?

Troubles come in threes

Three incidents at work today, all within 15 minutes of each other.

1. Car pulls up in the car park. Fella gets out, goes and does stuff to somebodies car that’s parked there. Fella was observed, and his number plate noted. Security notified, incident reported to police. Car that was tampered with shows signs of attempted break-in.

2. Person walks outside building, sees kid looking shifty in the executive car park (which is not the same as the one above that us plebs use). Kid can’t give good reason why he is there and tried to make a run for it. Person grabs kid and won’t let go. Eventually crowd gather to watch the hug. Security is called, police called. Kid questioned. Kid no doubt out right now finding next car to try and nick.

3. Person leaves desk for 10 minutes, comes back, laptop bag gone. Third theft in 3 months from same place. Nobody seen, no sign of bag. No laptop in bag, thankfully.

Scumbags. Is there something in the water lately?

**** EDIT ****
Wilma the Walrus came home tonight to report that some scumbag walked out of the library with a bag full of CD’s, magazines, etc today. She and one of the other staff gave chase, tackled the guy, tried to grab the bag (assisted by a passer-by), but he got away in the end. They were told off by the supervisor becaus the guy could have been dangerous. Police called, staff interviewed, statements taken, etc etc. Wilma shaken but not stirred. But also quite p’d off at the treatment from our boys in blue. She feels like the criminal :(

There really must be something in the water.

Country South Australia

Driving between somewhere, and somewhere else, one rainy day, and saw this. So good I just had to stop and leap out to take the photo:

Jan-June_90-4_rescanned.jpg

A death in the family

Today was a bad day.

We’ve had a death. It happened while I was out cutting grass.

For those not in the know, the Dump family were fortunate enough to buy a large block of land a looonnnggg time ago, which has the advantage of lots of space (nice), but the disadvantage of lots of grass cutting. (Grass cutting is NOT lawn mowing. Lawn is kept, watered & fertilised. Lawn is for playing cricket on. Grass is what nature provides).

For grass cutting we bought a wide-cut, industrial-grade, mower. Nothing fancy, no self-propelled woosie toys in this house. It’s just a dirty great 2-stroke motor with a couple of blades attached to the shaft sticking out the bottom, all attached to a pressed metal pan. A bit of a welded frame and some wheels completes the deal.

Mr Mower has had a hard life. He had a phase where his wheels kept falling off – that was fixed by drilling the axles and putting pins through. He had a phase of being impossible to start – a bit like me on a winters morning. A trip to the service folks sorted that one. Every now and again he needed a new air filter, and maybe a new spark plug.

Today, I was happily sweating behind Mr Mower, cutting grass. About 1/2 acre in, I ran into a huge great steel plate that’s buried in the ground. Just a bit pokes out. It’s a cover for the neighbours sewer pipes. I’ve been avoiding it for years. Not today.

Mr Mower stopped very suddenly when he hit that steel thing. Mr Mower now has a nasty looking oil stain on the bottom near where the shaft comes out. Mr Mower appears to have a bent shaft, although it turns… well… mostly. Mr Mowers engine won’t start any more, and turning it around by hand causes a rather horrible metal-on-metal grinding noise.

After 15 years of loyal service, it looks like Mr Mower has joined all the other grass cutting implements up in turf-heaven.

Of course, what riles me, just a little, is that I STILL think of it as our NEW mower.

Anybody want a dead mower?

Guess…

Who can guess what this flower is from?

DSCN0982.JPG

Hands up all those who guessed Granny Smith Apple?

The tree looks great – covered in blossom, which starts a pale pink and the flowers go white as they open.

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