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Monthly Archives: January 2010

Note to the teachers

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Please excuse GOF from his normal class attendance at the Vox School of Life Studies because;

                                                               and constant

                                                                       mean that the

put very little into the storage

which causes the

                                                                    to tell the

                                                           to cut off all power to the

and everything else in the house when it detects a voltage lower than 11.9.

Thank you for your understanding.

P.S.  Gof's Paradise January 2010 rainfall;   910 mm (36 inches) with 27 wet days.

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GOF and Delilah

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Sustaining a marriage over a long period of time is a complex balancing act with a degree of difficulty equivalent to tightrope walking with counter-rotating hula hoops and all the while juggling half a dozen double-edged swords, any of which in a moment of inattention, might chop off something important.

Up until recently I figured Mrs GOF had, over a period of 30 something years saved me close to $5000 by doing all my hairdressing.
It's not that I am ungrateful, but it remains one of my "swords".

Where do young hairdressers normally begin learning?  
Do they start on laboratory animals, poodles or store dummies before progressing to humans?  Mrs GOF practised on me, and for a long time I went around looking like a startled lemur having a bad hair day before she eventually gained competence with her craft.

Since returning from the religious heartland of the USA, her hairdressing chairside manner has deteriorated to the point of frightening intimidation.

Firstly I was accused of "going follicularly feral" while she was away.  Not my fault… just grows that way. Blame God or my primate ancestors for making the hair that used to flourish on my head now sprout randomly from all those other places.  
And anyway it was she who refused my repeated requests to provide a surrogate wife for 5 weeks to attend to little matters such as this.

Secondly, having subjugated me on the lowest chair available and fashioned short back and sides on one half of my noggin, she chose that precise moment to demand that I rescind several apparently unpopular domestic management decisions I had made during her absence, and in particular, make restitution for something she called
"your act of insensitive thickheadedness."  

My usual democratic right of reply, debate and/or rude gesturing was guillotined with;
"Do you want to go around in public forever looking like a lopsided leprechaun GOF?"  
"She who holds sharp scissors holds ultimate power."

I wish I had paid a whole lot more attention to religious instruction classes when I was young.

(And it's not like ALL her best crockery, cutlery and kitchen utensils went to the opportunity shop) 

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There is no Australian I admire more than entrepreneur, philanthropist and perennial straight-shooter Dick Smith.

This, is his assessment of our Government's plan to increase Australia's population from it's current 22 million to 35 million by the year 2050, and the stupidity of unregulated population growth.

"Plans to massively boost Australia's population are a bad idea and must be stopped, even if that means limiting women to 2 babies."

"No-one is allowed to talk about it, but I am."

"The Government wants to increase the population because it means more young taxpayers to pay the rising health and pension costs of the ageing population."

Talk doesn't come much straighter than that.

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Fruitbats and coco-nutters

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When, as a young man, I gained a very modest tertiary qualification, I went out into the world as a know-it-all, pain-in-the-arse little bastard.

Now those of you who occasionally stick your head into The Bucket  for a read might perhaps reasonably suggest that nothing much has changed, but I would beg to differ because I used to be much worse.

What has changed in the subsequent 40 years, is that I now understand that the lecturer's opinions, and the black and white texts I assiduously studied in my narrow field of interest, often bore only a minor and very tenuous connection to the kaleidoscopic colour of reality in the broader world.

I also learned somewhere along the way to be intensely self-critical, to understand how little I really knew, and that the sands of knowledge and "absolute certainty" were forever shifting.

My paper qualification was merely the key to the car of discovery,
and not a certificate automatically entitling me to provide advanced driving tuition to others.

Some environmental campaigners have yet to understand this.

Recently in Queensland three people were bitten by fruit bats from one colony which was subsequently proven to be carrying the potentially deadly-to-humans Australian Bat Lyssavirus.

A self-appointed spokesperson for the bats warned against proposals to remove the offending colony with an unconvincing assertion to the effect that;   "If you make them mad, they will give off more viruses",
as though we were to imagine them as skunks or octopuses with an inclination to secrete defence clouds, but in this case laden with infectious viral material.
In effect he was suggesting that we should be held to ransom, and our movement restricted, by a single colony of flying foxes.

Fruit bats in Queensland are often present in plague proportions.
It would not be thus without the farmers who, in the first place,  planted all the fruit orchards upon which the animals now feed.  
I will rarely endorse interfering unnecessarily with any of our native animals, but in this specific case, where our health is placed at risk, and their survival as a species is not threatened, we are entitled to run the agenda, not the bats or their spokespersons.

Some years ago a fresh faced environmentalist seriously suggested that the thousands of coconut trees lining the beaches of Australia's tropical north should be removed, on the grounds that the species was "not endemic" to the continent.

Ignoring, apparently, any consideration that the coconut tree is one of the most useful-to-human plants on earth.

Coconut seeds could conceivably have floated across the oceans and germinated in our sand hundreds or thousands of years ago.

How far would he have liked to wind back the clock of evolution?

For the greatest chance of finding environmental truth and common sense I will go no further than being advised by those like Sir David Attenborough who have the appropriate combination of education, wisdom and life experience, and the ability to see both the forest and the trees.

P. S. There may well be more to the flying fox story than that which was published. Fruit bats do not normally flap around attacking random humans unless, I suppose, they (the bats) are totally blind, short-sonared and therefore mistake a tall skinny man in a yellow raincoat for a very large banana.)

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An Australian architectural treatise

(Ed;  Not a good start GOF. No-one's going to take you that seriously.)

dunny,  sl. australian, a toilet

One of the things I like about Australia is that most little towns have a conspicuously located sanitary "public convenience".

Perhaps the appreciation is due to my many years spent squatting over pit toilets in New Guinea.   In Australia I have never, in the dark of night, had a large snake drop from the thatched kunai-grass toilet roof onto my head then slither down my torso, between splayed legs before disappearing down into the pit.

Dunnies are seriously enthroned in Australian culture.

We have official awards for outstanding design and function.
Innovative waterless urinals fill us with national pride just like Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, Crocodile Dundee, and Kylie Minogue.
The town of Wyndham has a charity fundraising  Great Dunny Race where teams of 6 people propel carts, each of which must have an installed dunny bowl, along a race track.

The Government even has an official website
(here)  providing directions to every public toilet in Australia.

This is comforting for me to know.  

In my younger days I would plan journeys based on the availability of pubs, motels, tourist attractions, cricket matches, and sand dunes overlooking nude beaches.

Today it is far more comforting to know only that the road ahead is adequately supplied with dunnies no more than 60 minutes apart.

Here are a few from my recent travels.

The final one is the highly awarded facility at Mossman.

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Small is beautiful

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OK, so I stole the title from  E.F. Schumacher

He, in turn apparently snavelled the phrase from one of his teachers.

Schumacher, a British economist, was one of the inspirational driving forces behind the 1970's "appropriate technology" movement which enabled many developing countries to effect some degree of sustainable development.

For those of us involved at the time, this was our bible.

Schumacher, debunked the notion that "growth" is always good, and dared to suggest that modern Western economies would be ultimately unsustainable, and that we should look more towards incorporating the principles of Buddhist economics which aim at achieving the goal of maximum human wellbeing with a minimum of consumption.

"greed and envy demand continuous and limitless economic growth of a material kind, without proper regard for conservation, and this type of growth cannot possibly fit into a finite environment."

Above all, he believed that small projects built and maintained by small communities would provide the key to sustainable development.

His "small is beautiful" principle might still have some relevance in my Australia today.

I have some delightful childhood memories of visiting aunts and uncles who lived in typical country-town cottages like the one below.  Houses which they built for themselves, and were no larger than was necessary to provide a warm sheltered living space for their families.

They are now being demolished and replaced by cold, characterless monstrosities like this;

"Wisdom demands a new orientation of science and technology towards the organic and the gentle, the non violent, the elegant and the beautiful"       (E.F. Schumacher)

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More little scraps #11

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1.    "If you don't plant flowers in your garden of life, you will
       forever be pulling weeds." 

2.    A quite adequately constructed young woman was giving
       testimony to the value of a certain television infomercial exercise
       regime when she announced;    "My booty went up a level."

       Now I'm just a simple old geezer who does his best to keep up
       with linguistic evolution.
       Please correct me if I am wrong.
       Does this mean that if she overindulges in all this Zumba
       prancing business then there is some risk that one day she will
       wake up and discover that her arse is somewhere up around
       where her ears used to be?

3.    News item on Christmas Day;
       " A suicide bomber in a horse and cart has killed 8 people and
         injured 5 others in the Afghan city of Kandehar."

       Nowhere, not in any media, did I note any concern being
       expressed for the fate of the horse.
       Despicable humans.

4.    "Sometimes you just need to start again in order to fly"
(Alicia Keys)

5.    And to provide just a little retinal warmth for my frozen
       Northern Hemispheric friends;


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It’s a wonderful world…..almost

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With Mrs GOF having safely returned to my arms from the USA,
I reflect upon some of the wonders of our modern world.

Firstly, according to her photographic evidence, people have apparently been able to adapt to living in places where the maximum temperature regularly descends below 20 degrees Celsius.

That a human being can actually have the motivation and desire to be cooped up like an unemployed battery hen inside the cage of an aeroplane for 22 hours of flight time.

That a piece of machinery weighing 700,000 pounds including 300,000 pounds of fuel, can actually get off the ground at Brisbane airport and climb to 35000 feet, then navigate itself non-stop to a tiny strip of tarmac at Los Angeles, 14 hours away, and, if necessary, autoland itself there.

Two pieces of appropriately tagged luggage placed on a conveyor belt in Cairns, Australia, will emerge on the carousel at Minneapolis having defied all the possibilities of getting lost during 3 intermediate changes of aircraft.

When I think of the 200 million dollar price tag of a B747, and the operating costs, I am amazed that Qantas actually makes any profit at all when Mrs GOF paid just A$50 for each hour she was airborne.

Considering all the wonders outlined above, why then did science fail to prevent the two passengers sitting on either side of her on the return Minnesota to Phoenix sector from being infectious with the common cold?

Before old GOF does any International air travel he will require two things to happen;

1. The installation of "contagion scanners" in airport boarding
     lounges which will instantly vaporise any inconsiderate disease-
     ridden passengers attempting to sneak on board.

2. To prevent my life of contentment being compromised by suicide
     bombers, annoying, or even just mildly irritating
     people, every passenger seat shall be fitted with ejector
     technology as perfected in fighter planes.

    The remote control module containing all 350 red buttons will be
    resting on my lap for the entire duration of the journey.


    If I pot up a few extra plants in my nursery this week I might be able to afford one of these;

                                        In my eyes, the most beautiful aircraft ever built.

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