Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Wildlife Wednesday - slippery dip

I'm stretching the Wildlife theme here, but this slippery dip is at my local zoo, which is surely included in wildlife!!

I think this is my favourite slippery dip ever and I wish I'd found it as a kid!

See where the people are heading...well, there's a bit of a bush track/climb up here to the top of the slippery dip. It's just a worn path in among the rocks and tree roots. It's probably an OHS nightmare, but it's real. Real bush, real climbing, really fun!

So you climb up this path, then you have two big boulders to climb up before you reach the top of the slide. Kids just seem to race up, but as an adult it's not so easy because your centre of gravity is a bit higher, so climbing rounded rocks isn't as simple as it used to be.

But you're there. At the top of the slide. It stretches away, with two dips to slow you down. You can't see the bottom from the top. It's thrilling.

Now, try to fit your fat hips onto the skinny slide. Yeah, never thought about that, did you? As a kid, I never even contemplated not fitting...but's a real issue! But I do fit. Phew!

Then I'm off!

But it's slow.

How disappointing that when you're wider and heavier, there's that extra bit of friction to slow you down.

But man, it's so much fun! I race the kids back up to the top - I lose, but who cares! I'm on the slide again!

Do we really have to go home??????

Thursday, June 23, 2016

A Footy Rant

I'm a frustrated NSW Blues supporter...and judging by the comments from some of the commentators on Channel 9, they might feel the same. I'm going to vent my frustration here,

NSW are, in general, NOT a professional outfit. They allow emotion to overrule their heads, and that seems to be when a lot of them think with their fists instead of their mind. They forget to play football and play for a fight. And that is the number 1 reason in my mind why they can't beat Qld. Qld are professional almost constantly - if someone blows up, it's done and finished in that moment. It doesn't continue for long minutes afterwards, or sometimes the whole game, as NSW players are often want to do.

This is last night's NSW team with my character assassination afterwards -

Matt Moylan - warming the spot for Josh Dugan. I think he will improve with age.

Blake Ferguson - a hot head who shouldn't be out there. Forgets to play footy when he gets riled. Can look for work, but often doesn't.

Michael Jennings - doesn't often pass the ball. Somehow with Parra, he does a lot better, so it must be some teamwork issue. I wouldn't put him in even though he's fast - he needs good offloads.

Dylan Walker - a real hothead and I think he has tickets on himself. He had to mark GI last night and rather than let actions do his talking, he made a big show of trying to contain a man who should have earned his respect. More often than not, he came off second best. He gave away multiple stupid ruck penalties in the first half, for no reason. He'd never be in my team.

Josh Mansour - worth another go. Does look for work usually but didn't as much last night.

James Maloney - he's a hothead, and also has major brain explosions when things don't go his way. Can be completely embarrassing, but can also show sense. I wonder how he'd go with a different bunch around him...but I'd be looking for someone else, really.

Adam Reynolds - he's in a similar category to Maloney. He can be solid, but he shows some really unprofessional traits too...but it could be the company. If there was a better halfback, I'd want him, but at the moment I think we have to work with this pair. I'd be seriously grooming a young halves pairing for the future.

Aaron Woods - is a hot-head but is also professional.

Robbie Farah - I have never had time for him as a player and he would not be in my team. A ballhog, a hothead, and a man who thinks he's a lot better player than he is.

James Tamou - I think he's grown into his role well.

Tyson Frizell - on debut he had a blinder. On TV they showed him run on to the stadium, then look around. A huge grin swept across his face. He looked excited, but focussed. And then he turned in the best game I've seen from a NSW forward in a long time. He's the type of player you want - his actions speak so much louder than he does.

Josh Jackson - I think he's a professional guy.

Paul Gallen - Another player I've not got a lot of time for. Uninspired ballhog. He just runs, head down into someone. Rarely offloads well. Can't even imagine how he inspires a team.

Greg Bird - Another one I despise. Hot head. Done enough off the field to warrant him gone, and has never done much on-field for me.

David Klemmer - He's a hot head but he can also be professional. I think he's developing well.

Andrew Fafita - Another to add to the despise basket. I think he's ignorant as well as a hothead. He too has doen so much to bring the game into disrepute off-field, it appalls me that he's there. And I can't see that he plays well enough for that to be the reason he's there.

Jack Bird - on debut last night off the bench. Bit hard to tell because he wasn't in a position as such, but he seemed to do okay.

So, there'd be a pretty huge clean out if I had a selector's guernsey on!

If NSW could show some of the professional football skills that they're paid to display, they'd have a chance of winning. As it is, they blow attacking chances because of brain explosions, frustration breaking down plays, or lack of teamwork. In defense, they give away penalties for far too little because they're trying to muscle in, or give a bit of a serve.

As a spectator and supporter, it's difficult to cheer for a team who let you down by stupidity. It's frustrating to watch a slick professional side, and know that your team could be like that, if only they used their brains.

And I know last night the commentators said it wasn't a coaching issue, but I don't think the coaching can be ignored either. Surely the coach has some influence over the players and the selectors? If he was as unhappy as me, he'd not still be in the job.

I think the whole team behind the Blues team needs to have a look at their professionalism. Fighting footy was fine in the 80s, that's how everyone played. But we've come a long way, we pay a lot more money, and we expect a lot more of our team. When will it deliver?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Wildlife Wednesday - battling nature

Where I live, there are lots of migratory seabirds who visit to nest. Usually during summer, a large strip of the beach/ river /dunes area may get fenced off so that people (and their dogs that are supposed to be controlled) leave the nest sites alone. They fence off quite a large area around the nests so that when the chicks hatch, there's an exclusion zone as it takes them some weeks to be able to fly.

During the nesting season, volunteers check the nests daily and monitor the sites. Over summer they had to build up the area around the nests to prevent flooding when the high tide and floodwaters threatened. It takes a lot of work - and is often rewarded by dogs or foxes eating the eggs/ chicks, people vandalising the nests, storms flooding the nest, etc etc. Although some years, chicks do successfully survive.

After 25 years of this sandbar not being washed out (it's at an old river mouth, so where once the river spilled into the ocean, now it's sanded up unless there's flood waters in the river), for the last 3 or 4 years, the old river mouth has opened three times (for up to eight months), which floods the area where the seabirds had been nesting, and effectively cuts our beach into two sections.

In the top photo, this is the sanded up area of the beach between the ocean and the river. It's maybe 60 m from the dunes on our side, to the dunes on the other side, and there's probably 40m between the ocean and the river at high tide.

In the second photo, I've done a panorama stitching 3 shots together, to show the opening of the heads (the old river mouth). On the left is 'our side' of the beach. The right is the area shown in the top photo - but where the river has broken out to the sea, washing away and flooding the old sandbar. In the background of the righthand side, that's the 'other side' of the beach, that is now inaccessible (unless you swim across).

It's quite spectacular when nature battles. I love watching the changes to the beach and the river due to this flooding - even if the dune erosion is quite dramatic.

Nature is always a battle. It's constantly changing, testing and challenging. Whether you're a bird trying to breed, a dune plant trying to grow, or a sand castle looking for permanency, the battle constantly rages. And Mother Nature rarely loses.

Do you have any great nature battles?

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Sunday Story - Learning your craft

I'm a football tragic and rugby league is my game of choice. It's been like that since I was a kid...I watch all sports but league's my favourite. And if girls could have played when I was young, I would have been playing. As it is, I watch it and I love watching it live.

Last night I was at a game. Mr E and I go for the whole day and watch all three grades - the U20s, the state cup, and the NRL game. I love the U20s game for a lot of reasons - there's often hardly any crowd so I don't get annoyed by idiots. The players are enthusiastic, they try the strangest things that sometimes payoff spectacularly. They talk a lot, which may involve a lot of swearing which shows their passion. It can be a bit unscripted with the genius of one, or a few, often changing a game. 

In the first grade game last night, a guy was making his debut in my favourite position. He's 18, so young to be up there playing first grade. But I was a bit biased, I thought another player should have been given the job, so I watched and was rather scathing in my assessment of debut guy.

After about 20 minutes, he was sucking in big breaths, looking for a break, and really struggling. He hadn't done a lot except kick, and I was making rather unpleasant assessments of his ability and questioning why he was there. But, in reflection, he stayed out there for 80 minutes. I should have noticed how deep he dug and what determination he showed to push through his pain and keep going.

I was critical that he wasn't doing anything except trying to tell everyone else what to do, and no one seemed to be listening. But, maybe he wasn't calling the shots. As a spectator I shouldn't be making those judgements but I'm used to watching the guy who he replaced - and when he speaks, everyone jumps.

Yet that's what fourteen extra years playing footy gives you - you're an 'elder' and you've earned players' respect. I forgot about that in my character assassination.

Shame on me.

Learning takes time. Sometimes a long time. When someone is giving something their all, I should not be critical of their efforts. I should cheer for them, be pleased that they're given a chance and taking the opportunity with both hands. I should applaud when they push through the tough times and stay out there. I should admire their determination, their self confidence, their guts.

And if I look at myself, I'm guilty of this exact thing. I look at learner-me and I heap criticism on myself. I compare myself to much more experienced people and highlight all my faults. I need to stop doing that. I need to nurture myself, applaud my tenacity, grin when it gets tough and hang in there.

I need to remember this lesson. Debuting is just a start. A chance to learn. And even when you've been at it for a while, there's still the chance to learn, to improve.

And you thought I just watched the footy to perv! :) 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Phallic Friday - shocking sex scandals

Are you a fan of the Aussie TV drama, Rake? I love its relevance and irreverence. I find myself snorting, chuckling and guffawing. It's one of the best half hours on TV.

Tonight there was a classic line - and because it's been on and my memory is like that of a goldfish, this is not a direct quote - with Cleaver Greene saying people have sex, so why the hell is everyone so surprised that other people are doing it?

(I might have to rewatch to get that line right!)

But anyway, yes! This line is gold. Millions of magazines and newspapers are sold when there are details of juicy sex scandals...and why? It's sex. Most people have tried it. Why do they race to find out the illicit details of someone's sex life? Why are paparazzi paid a fortune for photographs and details of affairs?

Is it the betrayal that people love so much? Or is it that a secret has been revealed?

A large part of the latest Rake episode was focussed on magazines and photojournalists as Cleaver was defending a photojournalist. In a totally Cleaver way, he turned a stalking wanker (literally) into a truth-seeker and frontline hero. It was brilliant. Completely mocking our obsession with "celebrity scoops" in magazines and social media. Cynicism at its best :)

Or maybe I'm just cynical.

If you watched it, what was your take?

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Wildlife Wednesday - tropical fish

It's cold here and we had a long weekend which put my internal calendar out, so I figured I needed some tropical fish here today to warm me and so the post was short.
Call me slack...I've been like that for weeks now. I'm not a fan of winter and it's biting me hard this year. I think because we missed autumn - just went from warm to freezing.
Anyway, enough whinging! Enjoy the tropics :)

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Wildlife Wednesday - caterpillars #2

The last few weeks I've had an infestation of caterpillars munching on my pot plants. It doesn't seem to matter what plants, or what I do to them, they're still there. They've eaten two plants to the roots - one a begonia that was looking so good and now is gone.

This one is a totally different caterpillar to those I had everywhere the other week (post is here). Those ones were hairy fellas and weren't confined to a food source like these guys are. It must be caterpillar season at my place!

So...ID is not easy (is it ever for me?) but maybe it's these (page of info here) - a caterpillar species of Spodoptera picta.

These are pests in Sydney garden that love 'lilies' of varying types - and the first plant they ate was one of those before they moved across to the begonia. They eat right down into the crown (which the varmints did), and they're about 5 cm long (which they are).

They do turn into quite a pretty fluffy moth (you can see it here), so maybe I won't mind too much - so long as my plants grow again!

Have you had lots of caterpillars this year? Or have I just been lucky that conditions here suit them?

PS Cool that these guys love you, Miss Lily! :)

Friday, June 3, 2016

Phallic Friday - Sex and Disability

Sometimes, strange things happen in my life where I begin to wonder how the Fates have conspired to make all this happen - how do they stitch such odd occurrences together so they come back to make sense?

Many many years ago, I met a guy (let's call him G) through a friend (let's call him F) who suffered from Muscular Dystrophy. He was fairly crippled and confined to a wheelchair, but he was my age (at the time late 20s) and there was nothing wrong with his mind/emotions/feelings/needs.

These two guys had been childhood mates and they remained the closest of friends until G died a few years ago. One of the things that struck me about F and G was that they had very similar minds - intelligent, enquiring, evaluating, and open - yet G was trapped inside his body. So while F was leading a 'normal' life that included picking up women, G was stuck in his chair. I can't imagine how frustrating this was for G, yet he never seemed to let it bother him.

And then I found out that when they hit their late teens, F argued (and organised) that G should be allowed to have sex. Physically, G could do this if the woman took care of his needs and was sensitive to the things he could not do, but G couldn't just pick up a chick in a bar like F did. So F organised for a prostitute to regularly visit G. It was my first awakening to the fact that people did need sex and connection and intimate friendships, regardless of their limitations.

It's something I greatly admire about F - that he can see the needs of others, and can work out solutions to problems.

So, fast forward more than a few years and in a quirk of fate I've found out about an organisation that actually does what F did. Touching Base is a charitable organisation based in Sydney, that enables people with disabilities to connect with sex workers. It's existed since 2000, so I'm late finding out about it.

I'm really pleased to find out that there's such an organisation. And I feel some sort of synergy when I stumble across an organisation that takes me back in time, to a discussion that began to open my eyes to the need for sex/intimacy/connection regardless of ability.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Wildlife Wednesday - Spittlebug

I have no idea about this bug but it has a funny story.

A couple of weeks back I'm sitting watching TV with hubby and I keep hearing a noise like flapping. He can't hear it. It's really bugging me but no matter where I went in the house, it was there. So I decided it was on me - or in me. So I stripped off and checked my clothes, checked my body, but no bugs. I was starting to think it was a bug in my ear and I'd have to be pouring olive oil down my ear or something to save my sanity. Anyway, when I re-dressed, I must have dislodged it a bit because then I started feeling something on my arm. The jumper comes off again. I start peering at the wool carefully all around my arm area. And there, attached to the threads is this weird looking bug.

It took me forever to free it from the wool fibres of my jumper but eventually I did. And thankfully, the flapping noise left with the bug.

But I've no idea what it is. It's tiny, maybe only 5mm in length (the black and grey is my woollen jumper).

Anyone got any ideas?

I'm going to try 'long nosed bug' in google and see how I go!

Well, I found things that are similar, and they're Spittlebugs. But I haven't found a lot of info about them, or even if they're in my area, but here's some info from Brisbane if you're interested. Oh, here's a bit more info (with a key) and they do occur here, so it's possible. At least the size and body shape is kind of right. And maybe it's the genus Philagra.

Spittlebugs are so called because many of the nymphs live in a 'ball' of froth (that looks like spittle) on vegetation, which they believe deters predators or prevents dehydration. The adults don't live in this froth. They are sap suckers, so are most often associated with vegetation.

You know, until I began doing this segment, I really had no idea how many fascinating critters were right in my backyard. I mean, I knew there were a lot, but these kind of bugs leave me astounded! I never even knew they existed, much less lived right here.