What Rules?

Ref Wikipedia

What should happen here? Who should we turn to if this happens? How can we prevent this?  Why, if this should happen, you must do this. Oh, how things have changed! William Henry Perkin thought nothing of the risks he took to change how fabric was dyed in the nineteenth century.  (I will return to him later). Not so if you were Em. Em would have sleepless nights if it wasn’t for the rules of compliance she spends her days writing. 

Back in the 1950s, I was in our new school science room.  Every student had access to a Bunsen burner gas outlet. Every two students shared a sink to clean equipment. We had beam balances to calculate the chemicals we use. A closed section of the room was reserved for experiments with chemicals that gave off noxious fumes.

I liked science partly because of the nurturing skills of our teacher Norm Stewart ( earlier story). Other than his encouragement I had no confidence I could ever remember the periodic tables. I was so sure memorising them was beyond me I stopped studying science at form four. In my last year of science, our classes were mainly to do with recording our lessons according to the rules of school science. The classes emphasised the importance of accurately recording what we did so another scientist could reproduce, by the same method, the actions we took. The next rule of scientific investigation is to leave your work open to criticism. At that stage your method can be refuted if a reviewer should reach a different result following the methods specified. Leading to the ultimate step, the conclusion. The conclusion means the work has been rigorous and scientifically responsible. Which leads me to what I did without these steps of care.

After school, I did make my own experiments with chemicals I had bought from the chemist’s shop. In an earlier lesson, we had made copper crystals. Experimenting, at home, I made one about the size of a AU 50 cent coin and was pretty pleased with my effort. I moved on and made some gunpowder, just because I could. And this is where compliance officers, like Em, would become very anxious if they should every find out what went on unsupervised. At school the room was filled with dangerous stuff that was often untended and left in the hands of the uninitiated.

At school we played with Mercury and let it run through our fingers without any warning it was dangerous. Just as we watched how magnesium ignited easily at a high temperature, bright white light, without wearing protective eyewear or clothing. One experiment seemed to reoccur any time of the year at school. The senior boys would amuse themselves making hydrogen sulphide gas (rotten air gas). This gas was intentionally made outside the ante-room, the place with the exhaust system, and it stank. All too often experiments, outside classroom hours filled the corridors with a putrid stench.

Long before any science experience at school I had watched, and copied adults, melting down lead on the fire,  and I also made lead fishing sinkers. No one gave any thought to the fact the fumes of melting lead are carcinogenic. In the metal workshop at school, even first formers would use hydrochloric acid to clean metal with no other protection other than a calico apron. These boys, who mostly came from farms, were familiar with the dangers of sulphuric acid in lead batteries. So, I suppose, the school reasoned any danger was not wholly unexpected in a work environment. Not that that decision would stand the test of reasonableness if acid ate into a boy’s clothes, or burned his skin.

About the age I was in the school science room, a century before, young William Perkin went to work as a chemist with August Wilhelm Von Hoffman at the Royal College of Chemistry, London. In his holidays he made an accidental discovery. In a temporary laboratory, with a coal derivative — aniline — he produced a dye with an intense purple colour. (They dyed fabric with natural materials prior to his discovery.) His new colour, Tyrian purple, was a new hue from which he built a fortune, and with further experimentation he produced dyes of other colours that changed the entire British dye industry, and it altered the colours used around the world, in all manner of things.

If risk managers existed in those days, and they were aware of the dangers these new dyes were to health, they could have saved many lives if they had banned their use. Fortunately, science does not fix things outright as, “we know all there is to know about —-.” . It allows for new people to challenge the status quo. In time, the carcinogenic nature of these dyes was discovered, and their use was banned in foodstuffs and for use in clothing. The interesting thing is, if they were banned outright medical science would have been denied a valuable tool in fighting cancer. Today those same dyes are used in nuclear medicine to trace the movement of chemical treatments that save lives. I am unsure this proves compliance officers need a crystal ball to predict all possibilities, but it does seem it is impossible to ever imagine all the risks one might encounter.

Unlike young William, I never studied Chemistry. To this day I would be hard put to name twenty elements, and I have no idea which subset of them each one belongs. My chemistry skill finishes at trying to make a good espresso each morning with ground beans and pressured hot water. And with that I am well pleased.

Here are some amazing facts about barracudas.

Barracudas are muscular fish with torpedo-shaped bodies that are streamlined. They are fitted with an amazing collection of teeth that are razor-…

Here are some amazing facts about barracudas.

This article is reposted because it is more authoritative than my entry from 25th September 2020. Barracouta is a fishy narrative.

The inclusion of this story follows a return to a family farm at Apollo Bay (thanks Robin and David Knox). Chatting around the fire one evening talk turned to the barracouta and fishing there. It so happens when a fresh catch is sent from Apollo Bay a Colac fish and chip shop still sells it. On our journey home Jennie ate a tasty reminder of a common weekly meal. (She hadn’t seen the story above.)

Photo, Author

King River

Author supplied

King River

We relax in the evening light

on his fluid banks

The William Hovell dam

tames him until

like the young girl in the park

he defiantly tumbles over the spillway

where he reaches his valley

too weak to fight rocks he once tore from the hills.

Today he playfully polishes

marble-round those too heavy to move

into mobile hides

for trout to mock the stealthy angler.

He tugs at the reeds

and questions why Hovell

disliked the name the Pangerang people used,

Poodumbia, or that of her twin sister -Torryong.

The King and the Ovens rivers coldly

steal the story -and gender – other voices should tell.

Once the home of the bandicoot, koala, and platypus

Sangiovese grows on old tobacco fields.

Marsh grasses sway on a zephyr

beside her freely flowing stream.

Our water mirrors smoky coloured clouds overhead

for fish to hide in dark spiralling eddies.

Slow birds circle tall tree tops,

scan nighttime roosts,

and puzzle aloud the same query.

Why the name changes buddy?

Barracouta is a fishy narrative

Crayfish pots Apollo Bay ref https://alkinalodge.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/visionsofvictoria1223940-302-Copy.jpg

I was born in a coastal city yet fish was not a big part of our diet. The number of times we children ate fish was limited. The fish we ate at home was fillets of smoked cod. When mum prepared it she cooked it in a white sauce with some onion. Another common name for this sauce is Mornay Sauce. To the French it is know as Béchamel sauce. Not that the milky substance Mum cooked was anything like a rich Béchamel common to French cooking.

In her case I imagine it’s role was to act as a filler. For, as history tells us, it’s original common name was Glue sauce. Served as it was the sauce disguised the salty fish we were dished. Cooked this way the smoked fillets were boneless and tender. When it came to fish our preference was to eat fillets because served that way bones were eliminated. On a rare, very rare occasion, we ate fish from a Fish and Chip shop.

Fish and chips were the most popular takeaway meals one could buy in the 1950’s. Nearly every town, or hamlet, had a local Fish and Chip shop. The fish was nearly always fried Flake served with a handful of potato chips (three pence worth of chips.) When the family ate this way we possibly had sixpence worth. (Potatoes were most commonly cheap. It was only in times when farmers failed to grow a decent crop the shopkeeper more carefully budgeted the chip amount).

When cooked, the Chipper, would pour the fried food on a single piece of white butcher’s paper and wrap the lot in a bundle of used newspaper. (The newspaper was used as an insulator to keep the meal hot until it was consumed). As soon as we got outside we would tear a hole in one end of the paper and pull the chips from the gaping hole and eat the meal using our fingers aa eating utensils. (When old enough to have money of my own I would sometimes sell a bundle of old newspapers to the shops for a few pennies).

It is surprising in 2020 to note how little we valued the riches of the sea years ago. For instance, as kids walking around the rocks of Lady Bay we had no appreciation the migrant families that picked wild mussels and oysters from the rocks later enjoyed a free gourmet meal. Worse, by the time we appreciated what they had feasted upon it was a banned activity. (Only once have I enjoyed the pleasure of harvesting wild oysters from the sea. This was at an Army Reserves camp in Tasmania around 1970).

In Victoria the Fisheries Department stocked local streams and lakes with trout. In season, and with some childhood luck, we ate Rainbow salmon trout sometimes and lots of wild eels. The eels were easily caught but most difficult to manage when landed. Their writhing slippery skin allowed for a dangerous moment or two before they were bagged. For the boy fisher, who tried to kill and extract the fish hook in the half light of dusk on the grassy edge of a local creek the battle was dangerous. The eel would wrap its body around an arm or leg, and with a hook protruding from its mouth it was also capable of a nasty bite. The fish caught this way was eaten as a trophy but otherwise unappreciated because each had unfamiliar bones that required caution when eating them.

Unusually at our Education Department run hostel, “Hawthorne”, at our final meal before graduation in 1961, we were served what the Army would call a Mess Formal Dinner. The meal started with soup, followed by a course of Crayfish (Australian Rock Lobster.) Our main dish was fillet steak. I have no recollection of what came next. The point is back in 1961 Crayfish was plentiful. It wasn’t cheap but it was plentiful and considered enough of a delicacy to form part of of our final college meal. (Within a few short years crayfish disappeared from Australian tables. The fishing fleets along the southern coast disappeared with them.) (To buy Australian Rock Lobster , in 2020, one competes with the rest of the world and pays what is asked)).

It was not until I became a regular Friday night diner at the Nicholson dinner table, did I regularly eat bony fish. Marie’s choice was Barracouta. This was served as fried steaks with mashed potatoes. The Barracouta (now renamed Australian Snoek) is a tasty fish. Unlike the delicate bones of trout the fish has darning needle thick long bones. Hundreds of them. (It too has almost disappeared from fish mongers. Either it was over fished, or with global warming has moved to colder climes).

All along the south western coast of Victoria it was possible to find a fleet of the wooden Couta boats. Many of these places had no natural harbour, or poor berthing places, (Lorne, Port Campbell, Peterborough, for protection the boats were hauled out of the water at shift’s end and rested high and dry on the pier.)

Nick Polgeest, talks about life in Apollo Bay here,

(1989). Interview with Nick Polgeest regarding the history of the Australian Industry. trove.com.au]

Over the years I have had my taste palette trained to enjoy the fruit of the sea. An example is octopus. As a school boy a text we read was A Pattern of Islands by A. Grimble. This book tells in great detail how the indigenous people of the Gilbert and Ellis Islands (Kiribati) caught and ate the fish. Grimble an Englishman was appalled how people could eat it. After a couple of trips to Greece I now ask how could they not?

Today many local people attempt to catch fish as their forefathers did and they fail. They fail to catch their local fish because they have been over fished, or the condition of the water has changed and the fish have moved away.

It is a curse of international fishing that schools have been over fished. (Sometime the fishing lines are hundreds of kilometres long. The goal of these fishers might be one variety, yet all varieties of fish are caught. The unwanted fish are released as by-catch corpses thus wasting every other species.)

The ecological problems are many. The oceans are full of indigestible plastics. Fish farms feed confined fish fish meal that requires antibiotics to kill harmful pathogens. Species have been lost and fish is considered the property of every body at the expense anyone living in water indigenous to them. My final word is if we are to continue to enjoy fish as a food we must only take what we can eat – today.

Inshore Lady

Author supplied images

Yesterday, Roger and I had a dress rehearsal for our first dry sail of Inshore Lady. Her companion, Micro Scoot, has been fishing already and proved she is a good tender vehicle. She too has a Spritsail as opposed to the Gaff Sail the plans call for.

The larger sail may make for better sailing but we figure the Spritsail will be a safer boat for our grandchildren to manage. Principally this is because it does not need a boom. (Many sailors will tell how they have been hit on the head by the boom as a yacht tacked starboard to port, or vice versa. Maybe they will not tell you – few admit a mistake of this kind.)

I have some minor finishing to do and our chilly winter water is uninviting so she will remain indoors for a while yet. However she is ready for a dip.

Roger made the sail from a small tarp as the designer John Bell suggests. This is a useful repurpose of the fabric.

In case my use of sail names is confusing the photo below is of a model we made beforehand. The sail is a gaff sail. It has a boom. The boom holds the sail firmly – just above the head of the sailor – and when the boat changes direction (tacks) the boom swings across the boat to catch the wind as it turns.

UNACCOUNTED

Author’s image

Alice was alone. With purpose she walked onto the pier. The young couple could see she knew where she was going as she passed by them. They ambled along unaware of how threateningly strange the light in the west was becoming, especially near the horizon. Their walk continued along the causeway.

They noticed the boats tied up to the docks as seagulls searched the decks for leftover scraps. The biggest boat was named “It’s Noon Somewhere”. A faded telephone number flapped on a board attached to the door of its cabin. It announced the craft was for sale. Beside the boat a lone fisherman huddled out of the quickening wind watching his line tighten and slacken on each breaking wave.

To the east the sea was alight in bright sunlight. Despite the sun a few droplets of light rain fell like jewels upon the couple’s faces. Oblivious to the weather, perhaps they quickened their pace imperceptibly as they ventured further out along the pier. When they reached its end droplets of rain awakened them to the weather coming in from the west. On the rocks below they saw Alice standing alone. The droplets turned to rain and the couple ran hand-in-hand down the pier toward the shore. Unaware of them Alice was anxiously grasping a light pole and scanning the sea for ……

New isolation

Deadly coronavirus

Social contact spurned


Thank you for visiting

Wind / man Power


Author supplied image

One of the little John Bell Blondie dinghies Roger and I have been working on is now in my garage waiting for a final coat of paint. There is still much to do before it will be launched, but Roger has taken his to Robe South Australia.

He anticipates it will handle well, even in choppy water, because it has a “rocker” bend in the flat floor. He likes to fish and he thinks Robe might give him a chance to catch some whiting. I hope he does because he was so excited to pack it with his fishing paraphernalia before he left.

It has oars roped to the gunnels. Rod keepers are screwed to the chine, or walls. In the bow he has ropes and the anchor stowed. In the stern it has an emergency flotation locker beneath the seat he has packed lures, line and hooks. He says because of its flat bottom when the dropdown keel is in place it should be easy to stand up and stretch his legs when he has been sitting for a while. This is much easier than his old dinghy which has a v shaped floor. All in all it should be much easier to row and manage on land, than the one it replaces. He understands we are getting older and he thinks he will get a small motor, to save having to row it in future.

I propose to give mine the name “Inshore Lady” in the next few days. I don’t fish. I don’t even sail, but stripped of its fishing garb and fitted with a balanced lug sail I intend to finish it so it can be sailed. The purpose was never to own a boat but to make one. Now it has reached this stage I am sorry I did not do more of the making myself. I fabricated it, and helped at every stage, but because it was made in Roger’s workshop he did much more in my absence than I expected.

In the long term I will have a sail boat a (grandchild) person should be able to sail easily. Roger will have a tender he can fish from – especially when he fits a motor.

The boat has been constructed in a stitch and glue procedure. This simple construction method has enabled the boat to be built and held together with plywood, a “peanut butter” consistency of resin , fibreglass, and flow coat. It has a few screws in it as well. Refer to my earlier post. John Mansfield inspired sea fever. https://onlinebluemoons.home.blog/2019/12/22/john-masefield-inspired-sea-fever/

The motor Roger expects to fit, and the screws it has used, have in common the use of the benefits of a helix. I am sorry Tom Lehrer did not produce a song about the helix. If you are unaware it is one of nature’s wonders. He did however compose “Mathematics”. Sensibly it all comes down to mathematics whether the boat is driven by a motor, by oars, or by the wind.

It is impossible to ignore the helix though. In its most complex form it holds the mystery of life itself. Our DNA is formed in a series of double helix. Best remembered with the nemonic, WCW, Wilkins, Crick, and Watson they were awarded the Noble Prize in 1962. From 1950 – 1952 Wilkins led a team to solve the nature of DNA. In the following year, Crick and Watson created a model to illustrate its complexity – in 1953.

The helix gives a screw the mechanical strength to pull pieces together. The propeller does the same with water, or with air, as it pulls – or pushes the transport along. The helix is also found on the human body. The cartilage around the outer ear is called the helix. It is only in writing I realised my grandmother wore her hair in a helix. The bun she wore at the back of her head is a helix. (A coil of rope – a like example).

Our boats, at least mine, sits waiting until we finish it’s rudder and tiller. A sail boat is steered by the sailor adjusting the sail against the wind. She can do this quite accurately except for sailing directly into the wind. One sixth of the compass direction the wind is blowing from cannot be sailed directly toward. (Imagine the wind is blowing from the twelve o’clock position. The boat cannot directly make progress against the wind from the ten o’clock to the two o’clock position). With the use of reserved speed, and with the sail down, a tiller enables the sailor to steer the yacht accurately toward a jetty even against the wind.

Some would say I am over thinking all this, especially by banging on about the helix. In response apart from the doing – it is all academic until I get the thing in the water anyway.


In explanation I choose to call the dinghy Inshore Lady, first because boats are most commonly referred to in feminine term. Therefore she is a lady. Secondly, Inshore, because she will be sailed close to shore for safety reasons. Finally it is a nice little semantic link to our home in Inshore Drive to recognise where she lives.


The discovery of the living matter we humans are constructed from – Deoxyribonucleic Acid or DNA for short) only came about from knowledge of the helix. The unraveling of its mystery is a marvellous achievement. The men and (the unacknowledged Rosalind Franklin a radiographer of photograph 51 used to create the DNA model) who discovered it were brilliant. The three main names (WDW) each earned PhD’s before their twenty-first birthday. (This writer had barely earned his driver’s licence at the same age). It is because DNA is understood scientists are now able to work with the human genome and find cures and remedies for the most terrible diseases. Amazing indeed. It was only explained first with knowledge of the helix.


Tom Lehrer deserves a mention for I found his satirical and comedic songs wonderful. This man of mathematics could have wasted his life on his popular ditties but he gave away fame to follow his passion. There is a message there. Become , and remain, passionate in order to lead a life well lived.

The mathematics song https://youtu.be/X6uyPL46Vi0

An haiku sextet on a theme

Credits. Devlin boats

Jelly Fish

In February

Blue bottles tease wave surfers

Riding last warm breaks


Lemon Pud

Warm lemon sago

Cooked as tapioca

Our staple dessert


Privacy Please

Frosted front doors hide

The intent of residents

No need for coyness


Power Usage

Darkened hallway lit

Daylight hours by skylight saves

electricity


Age

Inactive old blood

And elastin less skin veils none

Of the life well lived.


Gems

Never girls best friend

Sardonyx will open the eyes

asking less young lassie


These lines are written on the same theme. Fat fingers (mine) have eliminated them from a competition. The enjoyment I had on writing them is why I have posted them here.

Thank you for reading this far. Now let me know what you thought.

Hurry up – and wait.

When the fishing rod was bobbing up and down in the water I knew I had caught a fish. I loved standing on the craggy point looking into the water watching the minnows feed. This day I was fishing not far from where I lost mum’s chip frier. She said, “If you take that thing make sure you bring it back, your father likes chips.” On that occasion it was a matter of losing the frier, or losing my footing and falling into the water and swimming with the minnows I had been attempting to catch. I chose to stay dry. The day I elected to get wet and swim into the wintery lake and retrieve my rod I was bored. While waiting for the fish to bite I had built quite a big fire and I knew I could dry off by it if I swam to get my rod. My new insight is, fishing was something I did while waiting for something else to do. Anglers have more patience.

The Southern Ocean has been a constant factor in my life. I have driven the western Victorian coastline over and over. Therefore this little insight could be from anywhere in all those kilometres. Instead of illustrating the bravery of the deep water seamen who put to sea each day from one of the dozen piers in their ‘Couta boats, only to over- fish Barracuda, or Southern Rock Lobsters I choose to tell the story of the amateur. The Lorne pier is the place to recall the stoicism of fishermen.

At any time, in any season, on a visit to the pier, you will find at least one lone person with the patience to fish with a rod and reel. Silently, crouched to avoid the wind, the rain, or any other element the world can throw up, the fisher waits to catch a pinkie, a salmon, or common fish swimming by. If they catch a fish and drop in in their fish bucket they simply return to throw their line in and do it again without fuss. Even if they go home without a catch they will tell you they have had a good day. Their love, is the experience of doing.

My life companion has a different attitude to routine. She gets enjoyment doing things precisely, step by step. She knits while watching television. The thousands of repetitive steps, twisting wool this way, catching the tread, and twisting it around her finger so she can reverse it on the the opposite needle, is therapeutic. To her it is not a chore.

Neither is, it seems, anything requiring repetition. Take jig saws. In order to improve her failing eye sight she willingly chooses to spend leisure time tirelessly selecting this shape and the colour to match a picture with pre-cut shapes. Strangely she finds ironing a basket of clothes no more difficult than piecing together a thousand jig saw pieces When it comes to repetitive jobs in our house one person will elect to do it without complaint.

Back in the seventies the Buninyong Shire faced a storm of new arrivals. We had chosen to live on farmlets. Our rates went up overnight. The reckoning was with so many new residents the Shire had to raise revenue quickly in order to pay for the services now demanded. They determined a range of new residents had chosen to live on their properties for lifestyle and they were not farmers. The new system meant we were moved from the affordable Farming Rate ( rated so much in the dollar per acre) to Residential (a rate based on the house value.)

Naturally this caused a lot of disquiet. With the aid of some neighbours we called a meeting of affected people. The meeting was a hostile affair but there was consensus the size of the property was not an indication of its use. Some people could illustrate they were working their land full time. Most could not. My very smart neighbours said they were planting fruit trees (walnuts to be precise). They argued their farm should not be rated as a lifestyle farm as they were farming but they had to leave their properties daily for a paying job because their trees could not be harvested for at least seven years and no one could expect them to live without an income so long.

In the end the council had a problem it could not easily solve. In my case I moved to a new position. Lead on by my internal fight, flight seemed easier than staying. Before we left we had planted lots of trees. We planted so many it is impossible to see our old house without making a detour. Our neighbours that planted out their property with fruit trees have left their family an inheritance that will keep giving for generations. That is the benefit of patience.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aboriginal_Tent_Embassy

When it comes to patience. The most patient people in this land are it’s first peoples.

Many years before my skirmish with the council a protest started in Canberra. The Aboriginal Tent Embassy out side old Parliament House started in1972. It was a protest about land rights.. In the intervening years the fight for Aboriginal Land Rights has been constant. The right to land rights was won in the High Court with the Marbo case. That was only the beginning because every agreement has sine been a hard won negotiation and taken years longer than imagined. (unless you think it has been too easy for people who have lived continuously on that land have no right to it.)

Either way, the perseverance shown to obtain those rights illustrates, right is ultimately stronger than mere political bastardry. This is the common arsenal used in Canberra when things don’t go the way directed by the political class.

Some things are worth fighting over. Take for instance the carbon bank we call trees. A reasonably short protest has been occurring on the Western Highway. The road department is building a four lane highway joining two country towns. The only thing preventing the development pressing on are a few trees. The trees in question have resisted fire, flood, and drought for six hundred years. This is just a heartbeat in the life of the world itself but generations of mankind. And this is its significance.

Our seaside village is undergoing a rapid change. A new city is being built. The developers have bought all the land they could. Before they build they raise everything that once stood on that ground including the life giving top soil. Six months after the bull dozers leave a new suburb of chocolate boxes stand where people tilled the land.

The developers have hurried, so the people who arrive after them can slow down and rest in their new homes. To help the future heat bank effects of those homes be reduced, avenues of saplings are planted. In sixty years the shade needed will be enjoyed as a resource worth keeping. When thought of in this simple way trees ten times older are worth the inconvenience of making a detour on a country highway. Somethings are worth waiting for.

https://www.abc.net.au/radio/melbourne/programs/mornings/western-hwy-roadworks-restart-after-djab-wurrung-truce/11570246