Monday, May 31, 2010

Stated as Facts

I know that you shouldn't take horoscopes as any type of 'truth', however it struck me as interesting how these statements were presented as FACTS in this horoscope snippet. (These appear on each day).

The hungry must be fed, the homeless housed, the sick treated and the weak protected. These, surely, are the duties of any who hold - or aspire to hold - any kind of power. Given that we live in a world where none of these standards are yet being met, you might think that our leaders required no further tasks or challenges.

Apparently this is the belief of Mr Jonathan Canier, who writes these horoscopes.

I do not believe that it is the task of Government to feed and house everyone who comes begging. I do believe that opportunity should exist for people to provide these things for themselves and their families. But seriously the money for these things needs to come from somewhere and if we all decided that the Government is the one who should be providing these things for all of us - who is going to pay for it?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

TTKS #301

Conversation in the car today

Miss 6: "What's an anniversary."

Me: Something you celebrate every year, like our wedding.

Miss 8 (in a incredulous tone): "You keep TRACK of how long you've been married?"

Sunday, May 23, 2010

TTKS #300

Overheard in the lounge:

Hubby to kids: "Do you remember the rule about three toys on your beds?"

Miss 8: "Yes, it didn't work too well, did it?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Targeted Marketing?

While watching N.C.I.S. an advert for a men's beauty product came on:

I was amused by
a) a men's beauty product and
b) it being advertised during this program.

Oh and if you're actually interested in the product you can find all the details at

(For some reason this computer won't let me post links).

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I think that was a good decision

Miss 8 loves reading books - preferably science books and biographies (she read one recently on 100 great scientists).

Booktopia (great place in Australia to buy books) had a sale the other week and there were some books from a series called "Blast to the Past".

These are stories written around famous people in the past. I bought the ones on Alexander Graham Bell, Abraham Lincoln, and Benjamin Franklin. They arrived the day before yesterday.

She immediately started on the Bell one and this morning she still had her nose glued in it as she walked down the steps from the front of our house into the car :)

So if you're looking for captivating books for a good young reader I can recommend these!

Note: This is what she's reading when taking a break from her current favourite non-fiction book - "The Science Book" (by Peter Tallack). This book is a real challenge for her and she's working through it sentence by sentence looking up definitions and synonyms.

Miss 6 meanwhile is making her way through "Polly Princess and the Pony" from the "Usborne First Reading" series. I really like this book for her as the words, on the whole, are "sound-out-able".

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


From today's news

Fines for refusing to take part in ABS health survey

UP TO 50,000 people face a fine of $110 a day if they refuse to divulge information on their health and lifestyle to Australian Bureau of Statistics researchers.

The Australian Health Survey announced in last week's Budget will be the most comprehensive research on the health of Australians ever undertaken and will be jointly funded by the National Heart Foundation.

But the 50,000 people chosen to take part will be compelled to do so.

Participants will be weighed and measured and will be asked to give a blood and urine sample.

They will also be asked detailed questions on what they drink and eat and their physical activity.

The ABS said participation "is ultimately compulsory for those chosen by random sampling to ensure the survey accurately represents the Australian population as a whole".

However, participants would only be compelled to answer questions. Providing a blood and urine sample and weighing in would be voluntary.

While it would seek co-operation of those selected, the ABS said it had the power to direct unwilling respondents to provide information.

"If a participant was directed in writing and continued to refuse to comply, they may be prosecuted under the Census and Statistics Act 1905 and a fine may be imposed," a spokesman for the ABS said.

"A fine of up to $110 per day may be imposed until such time as the information is supplied."

Australian Medical Association president Dr Andrew Pesce said the survey would provide valuable information for designing preventative health policies.

"I can't imagine the Government has any intention of prosecuting people who don't co-operate," he said.

National Heart Foundation chief Lyn Roberts said she understood the survey would be conducted in a similar way to the ABS's National Health Survey.

"The difference is a voluntary component allowing participants to provide biomedical data which will allow policy-makers to use verified data on their health for the first time rather than self-reported data, which we know . . . can be unreliable."


Wow! Compulsory participation ... mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Spider Webs from Goats

In today's news at:

Meet Spider Goat - the DNA-enhanced web-flinging nanny that may one day knit bones

ON a farm in Wyoming, USA, goats are being milked for their spider webs.

And if that sounds bizarre, molecular biologist Randy Lewis claims that within two years, spider silk milked from goats could replace your body's tired or strained tendons and ligaments - maybe even bones.

Professor Lewis and his team at the University of Wyoming have successfully implanted the silk-making genes from a golden orb spider into a herd of goats and are now, finally, producing one of nature's strongest products in useable quantities.

The technology is cutting edge, but the science isn't. Spider silk has been used for centuries to dress wounds with varying degrees of success, but the problem has until now been how to get it.

"We needed a way to produce large quantities of the spider silk proteins," Prof Lewis told

"Spiders can't be farmed, so that route is out and since they make six different silks, even that would not work if you could."

Spiders also have a tendancy to eat each other, so milking one thread from six out of a solo spider was clearly never going to service the entire human race.

Prof Lewis and his team singled out the "dragline" - the outer strand of the web - as the strongest of the six types of silk.

They spliced the DNA that creates the silk into a female goat's DNA, then waited for it to give birth and start lactating.

"(The splicing) turned out to be relatively easy as there are known gene promotors that only produce expression in the mammary gland during lactation," he said.

"Those were hooked up to our spider silk genes."

After the milk is collected, it's taken back to a laboratory where the silk protein is filtered out. It solidifies when exposed to air and is wound onto a roller.

Prof Lewis said the team collects about four metres of silk for every four drops of protein they gather.

The pure material had a wide range of medicinal applications as sutures and binding agents - including ligament replacement - but its use could extend well beyond our hospitals.

"If it works, frankly one of the first applications is maybe fishing line," Prof Lewis said.

"I think we will be testing real world applications in less than two years (but) when they reach market is really beyond my control."

And in case you were wondering, no goats were harmed during the making of spider silk milk.

Prof Lewis said there was no evidence to suggest the goats in the experiment behaved any differently to regular goats, in either physiology or "psychology".

One day, the burden could be lifted even from goats.

Prof Lewis said the technology could have farm applications - he told Science Nation they were developing the same technology for alfalfa.


While I can appreciate the value of this type of scientific advancement I really am concerned about it. It feels that we're messing more and more with "nature" and I'm not so sure about the long term wisdom of that.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Another "Have A Go Day"

A couple of months ago I did a blog post about the "Have A Go Days" that the Chief Instructor and I run up at the Gun Club pretty much every month.

Today was another one of these. This time one of the guys who came to the last one rang me about 10 days ago to book 18 people in. Although we've not advertised a limit to the number of people we were hoping to keep it to 20 or less. So we had our fingers crossed that no more people would "just turn up on the day" without booking.

One of the things we learnt last time was that with lots of people you need to be very organised to keep things moving as although we love doing it we really don't want to be there for HOURS!

So during the week the Chief Instructor and I sat down and worked out how to run the day effectively giving everyone a chance to use the Glock, Tanfoglio, Revolver, Rifles and Shotguns and hoping to keep the time down to 2 - 2 1/2 hours.

This is basically what we came up with:

The two club members who helped us last time again offered to assist, which was very gratefully received.

We all arrived at the range about 11.30am and started to set up. Another club member had mentioned a couple of weeks ago that they would like to come for a shoot and they arrived early and helped set up. And a recent graduate of our training program turned up with her teenage son - also again early and assisted with setting up as well.

We managed to set up the tables, the targets and loaded the mags before the visitors turned up. The Chief Instructor welcomed them and gave them a brief safety lecture.

Of the 18 who had booked, only 13 actually arrived. So with the extra two we had 15 shooters and three helpers. Not a bad ratio.

There were a few of the visitors who had shot before but most we complete newbies. However, they all listened well and there were only a few instances of "finger on the trigger" but nobody turned around with the firearms or did anything particularly stupid.

The Glocks and Tanfoglio shooting went well. I was on one of the revolvers and most of the guys who shot them said that they preferred them to the semi-autos. I reckon this had more to do with calibre than anything (the semi-autos were 9mm, the revolvers .357s).

One we had put the pistols / revolvers away we got out the rifles. We only brought three .22lr rifles with us - two bolt action (one left handed) and the single shot. The visitors got to shoot all of them. As the Chief Instructor and other helpers had this pretty much in hand I spent the time sorting out the 9mm brass and counting magazines and generally cleaning up.

The guys seemed to enjoy shooting the rifles but really brightened up when we brought out the shotguns. We cut open a shotgun cartridge first and explained how it all worked - and, of course, burnt the propellant!

Then they got to shoot. We had only two shotguns this time - unfortunately I hadn't managed to pick up any ammo for my Tuffy, so I didn't bring it. We had 12ga under / over and the 12ga semi-auto.

I think the only way we managed to drag them away from the shotguns was to tell them that the bar manager had agreed to keep the bar open for an extra short period of time.

So we wound up the shooting at about 2.20pm (we started on time at mid-day) and all of the visitors said that they would like to come to the next one. Unfortunately I couldn't join them in the bar as I had lunch that I needed to get to.

We've decided that we'll make a couple of changes for next time - specifically, only use one .22 rifle and a .357 rifle (some of the guys asked about using a more powerful rifle) and by then I'll have bought some ammo for the Tuffy and have that available for them to shoot as well.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Wonderful Mother's Day

My birthday was on Saturday (Happy Birthday to me!), but as most of you know I'm off at the gun club all day Saturday. So this year we decided to combine my birthday and Mother's Day on the Sunday.

My youngest woke me up at the crack of dawn to say "Happy Mother's Day", she then woke her sister up to get her to help Dad bring me breakfast in bed. I decided that I would have my coffee in bed, but would rather sit up with them for brekky.

The girls gave me the presents they had made at school for me - which will go and live on my desk at work. My mum had also sent me a present so I unwrapped that too (a BIG chocolate heart full of chocolates ... mmm ... will take me a while to get through that. Miss 6 has already worked out which ones she wants).

Our breakfast consisted of pancakes and I'm so glad I insisted that we sit up as both girls had theirs with honey!

After brekky we had a discussion about what to do for the day. There was an orienteering course that we could of done, but no one really felt motivated. While checking out what else was on I discovered that the Yarloop Steam Workshops had a 'steam' day on. Yarloop is about 110kms south. Miss 6 is currently studying 'transportation over time' and was doing a project on steam trains, so we thought this would fit in nicely.

My hubby had booked us in for lunch at our favourite vineyard - Hainault - for mid-day, but we knew it wouldn't be too much of an issue to change that to later.

So off we went. We got to Yarloop and it was immediately obvious that it was a great decision. Outside of the steam workshops there was two large areas of displays of various farm machinery, pumps, engines etc powered by a variety of methods (steam and diesel being two of the main ones). Most of the equipment was running, or the staff turned them on when the girls went to have a look. There were things like a Lister pump from the mid-1950s, a pull saw (early 1900s?) and lots and lots of other interesting equipment.

We had a look around about half of the display - and the girls chatted to some of the people demonstrating the equipment and then we went into the Steam Workshops themselves.

They run tours through the workshops and we caught up with one at one point and listened to explainations about various areas and equipment, but we found it easier with the girls just to walk around and look at what was there. I liked the way it was laid out. Pretty much all of the equipment was 'touchable' (if you wanted soot and grease over your hands). There was a big steam engine which Miss 6 had a bit of a climb on too.

We went through various rooms - the library, the sand house, the shop, the workshop areas (pattern room, coppersmith area, blacksmith area etc) and then ended up in the steam room. Here there were a dozen or so steam engines running. Again these could be 'touched' (not that you would want to, you would get burnt!). I just liked the way everything was 'right there'. We could even see them stoking a big boiler!

One of the staff members came over and had a chat to the girls and showed them an engine which made smoke rings. The girls, of course, thought that was great. This gentleman also got the girls two posters - one of an old steam engine, very similar to the model Miss 6 was making and he introduced her to the man who owned the engine. Now we need to take them to the Royal Show in September so she can see the engine.

After a long look around this room and a discussion on various aspects of steam engines we headed out to find a cuppa. We then walked back to the car and had another quick look around the outside displays. More of the equipment was operating now, so the girls had to go and check them all out.

We then drove back up to the vineyard. We got there very late (just before 'kitchen closing time', but we had rung them during the morning and they had told us not to worry about how late we got there). The food and wine was as delicious as ever! We didn't end up getting home until well past 5pm.

The downside to which was that Miss 6 still had her assignment to finish, so she worked on that with her dad (she made two models - one of a steam engine and a maglev train). This morning I helped her finish writing up the information she needed on the project sheet. I was very pleased to discover how much she had retained of what she had been told and that we had read to her over the last couple of weeks of researching the assignment.

While Miss 6 was doing the project, Miss 8 did some maths on the computer. Then it was bedtime.

Hope the other mothers reading this had a lovely day like I did.

Friday, May 7, 2010


Just finished reading John Gatto's book "The Underground History of American Education" (

During the week or so that it has taken for me to get through it I have been challenged to think about education, schooling and my girls.

This will probably be one of many posts on the topic as I process the information and discuss with my family our way forward.

During the last week, mainly because of the book, I have been taking greater interest in the homework that my eldest is doing. (She's currently in Year 3 at a private school).

(Just as aside, I'm basically happy with the school and how it does encourage the children to think and deals with them as individuals. However, further investigation is warranted.).

Anyway, getting back to Miss 8 and her homework. Each week she has a list of spelling words to learn (using the look / cover / write method). Recently she has been asked to put these words into sentences.

Now Miss 8's handwriting is, on the whole, shocking. I have discussed the need for her to take time with what she is writing, to ensure that her environment is condusive and to focus on neatness (or at least legibility).

The other morning I went into where she was working and had a look at the sentences she had written. Content wise, the sentences were good (maybe a bit scant given her vocabulary) but almost illegible. She still has to write with a pencil rather than a pen and the pencil was blunt which didn't help the situation.

I asked her if she thought that the quality of work she had done reflected her ability. She said "no", so I rubbed out the sentences she had written, helped her sharpen the pencil (the lead kept on breaking when she did it) and asked her to write the sentences again. She wrote one sentence - better - but not as good as she could, so I asked her again if she thought it good, again she answered "no", so again I rubbed it out. We did this for about 6 sentences, two or three times each.

I thought she would be upset by this process. However she wasn't. About half way through doing the sentences like this - and ensuring that ALL words (not just her spelling words) were spelt correctly and capitalisation and punctuation was correct - she reached over to me and gave me a great big hug and said "thank you". She was beaming, very happy, like she is when she helps me cook.

The next morning she finished off the other sentences by herself, all neat and legible.

This has given me pause for thought. I would have thought that she would have been upset by me rubbing out the sentences that she had written a couple of times each, but it had the opposite effect.

Was it that she found pride in doing a job properly, or was it simply that she had my attention and focus for that time or was it something else entirely?

Mmmm ... more thinking required.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mmm interesting - received from a friend of mine ...

Got into town (Aboriginal community) this morning for more camel shooting.
Was a good trip in the commodore, all went well even hitting 2 roo's with no damage.

Drive into town, go straight to shop for ciggies and food.

Everyone waving and trying to be friendly.... which is odd.

Go outside to the car and get mobbed by heaps of aboriginal's... got in the car, just.

Wind down window and people are trying to give me money.

Anyway being my usual nice self i just said "GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM THE CAR OR I'LL FUCKING RUN YOU OVER" and I drove to the house that I stay at.

Followed by 15 or so indig persons.... running... flat out.

Today I have had at least 30 come knock on the door and offer me money. Can't understand them as they dont really talk they just do this hand signal thingy, sort of like a phone call hand signal.

Anyway, finally had the main boss of the community (white fella) come around and suss me out BIG TIME.

Then the cops.

Apparently word has got out that I have regular Unleaded in my car and not the Opal shit.

And I have been selling it. To the locals.

They can smell the difference a mile away.

Had to park in the middle of town and syphon my tank onto the road. So everyone could see.

Then make a big deal of going to the local roady and filling up with Opal**.

Just got called outside while i was typing this as someone is syphoning my tank.... but Rem (my dog) went off her head.

I have never seen such desperate people. Even women with kids in their arms are asking for some.


For my international readers, most of our aboriginal communities are 'dry'. Apparently there has been a crack down in this one since my mate was there a couple of months back.

** refer to this article for more information on Opal fuel.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Why didn't they just use ACTUAL consumption rates?

From here

Clickken to embiggen

Btw does that mean there will be no lead projy available after 2065??

Another Morning

Sunday morning - the only day that I get to sleep in. Anyway the girls were up and about, they had had breakfast, watched some television and then I heard Miss 8 exclaim that she was off to do a science experiement. Not a problem, she normally doesn't destroy much.

Anyway there's a series of running and jumping sounds going on in the lounge. After laying in bed for awhile I decided to investigate. I walk into the lounge as Miss 6 just jumps over her dressing gown cord strung between a small chair and the coffee table.

She turns to me and goes "I need a horse!".


Short time later I am talking to Miss 6 about something and she says "How old are you?", before I had a chance to answer she says "24! Or is it the other way around?".

Cheeky kid!

Oh and Miss 8's science experiement was to see if water drips out of an eye dropper or stays in there when it is filled and held. All safety done over the sink!