The Mind Plays Tricks

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The mind plays tricks and has difficulty making sense of things it has not seen before.  For instance, in the days before we had electricity at home, at night we managed without an artificial light in places we knew well.  Except on the night in question. On that night I popped into the bathroom without the aid of a lantern and I bumped into an unfamiliar damp body standing in my way.  It terrified me someone else was in there with me.  I ran from the room without saying as much as, “Pardon”.  Later, I returned with a lantern only to see the silent visitor was nothing more than a damp coat hanging in my usual path. 

This week, in full daylight, the experience was unique. The sky formed one long continuous cloud unlike anything I had seen before. Trying to make sense of it, because it stretched across the sky from horizon to horizon, it appeared as if the clouds had piled one upon another in formation. They really had, but the visual effect was as if they were ridges left on a sandy beach when the tide ebbs.

Continue reading “The Mind Plays Tricks”

Another Luddite Blunder

HeraldSun.com.au

We love our flaming Utes
Hotted-up fuel-guzzling,
V8 powered cars — invented here —
Anachronisms in a future world.
Where bloody minded humankind burns the globe
Turns out it’s fossil fuel
The ugly transgressor
Whilst manufacturers electrify cars novelle
Operate charge-points — not common fuel servos.
Yet another modern Luddite blunder.

Every country son and daughter lusts for their first two door V8 so as to attend a BNS ball.  A mythical rural scene of bacchanalian debauchery manufactured in the minds of their city cousins.  When the isolated, shy individual in fact arrives,  gaucheness personified alights unless egged on by a peer pressure group.  At least it was until the local motor industry gave in to the economic reality the government would no longer prop-up our lazy car industry. They closed their plants and a V8 utility (ute) vehicle is no longer constructed here. 

The Ute survived in the country because of its usefulness. Once the domain of two main constructors it pootled around the farm in many guises. The first, according to my friend Kevin Norbury (1),  was an invention of a Geelong farmer. He cut his new car in half and had a luggage tray built over the rear wheels so he could carry a sick lamb or a bale of hay when inspecting his stock. 

A new vehicle fills the suburbs. Too big to be a useful farm appliance, it sports four doors and a smaller luggage tray. The SUV is the car of choice of home builders (tradies) and it too is a ute. The car is ubiquitous in suburban shopping centres in parks designed for shopping trollies.

The tarmac becomes so hot in most of these the centre owners have built sun protection.

While business accepts our world has changed, our government has not. Perhaps the reason for this is the fossil fuels industries are major donors to the government. Another reason is the support the government gets from the media. (Media rules were changed some years ago.  Over those years consolidation has taken place, so that in some states there is no longer a choice in the news supplier. To put it more succinctly, if the Murdoch press says,” This is how things are.” There is no alternative view put to most folk to add any balance.)

Artificial global warming has reached a point of danger.  No informed individual wants to test the predictions of climate scientists to discover the scientists were right and they were wrong except governments beholden to fossil fuel purveyors. The first global change to reduce carbon emissions was an agreement in Kyoto to cut them.  Here in Australia we put a levy on carbon and asked producers to improve or pay to produce it. The levy was so successful carbon emissions fell. At least they did for a while until opposition leader Tony Abbott called it a carbon tax. At the next election, he became PM and carbon usage shot up. It continued to do so until 2019, when we had another election.   At that election a new PM, Scott Morrison, demonised the Labor party by claiming, “The Labor Party wants to take away Tradies’ utes.”  They returned him on the promise to do nothing about carbon emissions. Or that was his claim. So the country does nothing. 

However, manufacturers are in a scramble to catch up to China, the largest maker of electric vehicles. Observers are warning if Australia does not change its rules on carbon emissions, they destine us to become the dumping ground for all the world’s most polluting cars. A thirsty internal combustion engine does not make a ute a ute. A car becomes one when it has an external carriage area.

A new industry is not without error and a story yesterday caught my eye, The tale is about the difficulty new adapters had charging their electric car on English motorways. (4) This story suggests there is some working out to do until every car is fitted with a universal power connection.


Continue reading “Another Luddite Blunder”

It is not all beer and skittles.

Ref Bonanza.com

With significant risks, there are great possibilities. That, we are told, is a sign fortune follows the brave. One of the greatest risks is to enter business using your own money. If the business succeeds the opportunity to make it is before you. The chances are you will have to prove yourself before anyone else will invest anything in something you start from scratch. It gets going, even if you have a lot of money. Be prepared because it will take more than you plan to spend.

A third and fourth career of mine was to help business manage cash. I did this for fourteen years. In my case, I have seen how easy and how hard it is. Many years ago I knew one family where both mum and dad were running a successful business, yet I saw the woman in tears. She remembered when she was told there was no money, none to buy a meal for the family. The mother went through her purse and found a few cents. Francene reached in the crevices of the couch and found a few more. She told me that after robbing the kids piggy banks she just found enough to buy half a dozen eggs so they could eat one night. Even after that,  she said, “Bob had faith this business would succeed.” With the T family it did, however, it took many years living, hand-to-mouth like this before it paid off for them. 

Only last month I heard a similar story of a family that had invested everything in farming. They had faced years of plenty and invested it all:  in more land, in more equipment, in more seed. The current season is the best they have had for 25 years, yet they were at the mercy of the weather for 10 days after they cut the crop before they could harvest it. Even then there was no guarantee until it was in the silo.

Such is the life of those who risk everything in the hope of — One Day. One day we will be ok. One day we will have a holiday. One day we will have enough to buy a new home. One day….

I have also seen people who didn’t have to go through these trials. I have spoken with people who have taken charge of the family business and decided the wisest way forward was to grow the business. The decision to borrow and expand is also fraught. Normally the generation that makes that decision is very aware of the risks and they work as hard as their parents did on the business.  

They make personal sacrifices and measure their chances with the risks of expansion. Like many farmers, they succeed where others might have failed

It is a factor of business the risk is not over even when they make the sale This is especially so when the sale is one made of business terms? We can be owed companiesed,  and owe thousands of dollars at the same time. All party’s reason the job be done before all payments are made.

Not that that is the end. If I return to my story from Mrs T. They sold their business to a multinational competitor after their years of struggle just to see the business close and the products be taken off the market. The millions they received did not make up for the work, recipes, name loss,  and pain – it just helped them have a very comfortable retirement.  

In the third generation of a business, things are more difficult. You take an enormous fortune and spread an enormous fortune, and all you get are arguments. If,  as is done with two very public big names – the money is left to one person to manage things can go wrong.

 James Packer has halved his wealth in a decade. The mental anguish is apparently awful. Noting what our eldest has said of his friends clever enough to have sold businesses for tens of millions. They talk of the pressure they have had not losing what was so hard won. It must be worse when billions are risked.

One fellow, and his brother, inherited Australia’s largest building company about 15 years ago. Most of it went to one grandson. Now, remembering when I was preteen, I travelled around the eastern suburbs in the early mornings with my uncle. Some first workers we saw every morning were stocky Italian chaps. Many of them arrived in this land with no English. The owner of the business knew these men before he came here. As his business grew he remembered these hard men. He knew there was no work for them in the aftermath of WW11, so he called on them. The country was short of tall men, and stocky men were even better for the job.

The jobs they worked at were dirty. The equipment they had was scarce, so they picked and hammered with manual tools forming roadside gutters and curbs. The old yellow grader was the only tool of note I remember with the name Grollo printed on the side.

Fifty years afterwards one grandson managed the expansion of the business across the world. He decided he could manage the building company and its expansion into a whole new field from New York. He lived part time there and wherever else it was possible to live as a jet setter and still monitor the business. All the stocky men had retired or died like his grandfather, so he hired the smartest people money could buy.

Last weekend the building company went into receivership. Daniel has named many reasons the company has run out of working capital, but the one person ultimately responsible for the loss.

It is awful to watch a company collapse. Many times, losing a business can be put down to happenstance. Things like the pandemic are not down to mismanagement. Sometimes companies fail because their customers run out of money. Many times good people get caught by sly operators. That hasn’t happened here, and it will not stop many hundreds of innocent people from being hurt.

I have worked with people on both sides of the ledger. I have seen the damage done to families when ill health is the cause of failure. I have seen the anguish when an owner has to find thousands a debtor cannot pay. Insolvency used to be a crime.

Occasionally it is no one’s fault. All too often it is. The lesson from all this entry is to learn from what I have seen close by — fortune follows the brave. Sometimes. Sometimes the brave one is just a foolish gambler. Sometimes the brave one is a thief that will steal and steal again with a Phoenix movement. Observationally i say if you want to play because you inherit the earth, play but don’t pretend your play is business. Better to invest your money and play with the dividends than play with your capital that is someone once worked hard to build it. 

(Not sure my last statement is correct.) What have you got to say?

prowritingaid.com finds fault with this whole piece. Is it so obvious?

Seeing red


Image Author

Red faced, a tanka

the tip of my tongue

paused by lethologica

locked in memory somewhere

struggles for answers

I have it. It starts with “f” or “ph”


This tanka (a Japanese poetry style) was prompted by an article I read on Ness Labs. When I have permission from the author I will link the two.

No gales of laughter

Photo Author

My broad beans are prostrate — lying flat

natured tall — never recumbent mat.

all day cruel winds blew — a wrestling match

blasted them in vegetable patch

be the season’s growth in truth a flop,

knowing atmosphere has tossed our crop.

A countermeasure is close,

supermaket — bill of fare

beans we’ll get from there.


I know some of you readers find it easy to trot out verse. Here is my attempt at an epigram. Is it one?

Eat what you like

Free Media

There is no advantage being overweight if you do not like food. Despite my overweight status, I like fine food cooked , and eating in restaurants where taste is king. The linen is fine, as is the cutlery, so too are the waiters. All in all I say, goodness reigns.

 Fortunately, I have enjoyed many beautiful meals in such establishments despite having a beer budget and champagne tastes. It is my hope you do too.

At one stage during a period when fine dining was called “nouvelle cuisine” (1960+) chef’s lost the plot. From the many choices I offer two examples:

In the 1970s Daryl and I decided to take Michael to a restaurant called Pamplemousse at 200 Collins St. Melbourne. As a mark of distinction, this restaurant was on the 2Oth floor in a National Mutual building. (Neither the restaurant nor the company survives).

During the meal, high above the darkened city, a waiter brought us our main course. It was served on a huge plate. Maybe the plate was 40 cm across. In the centre of it in a swirl of jus sat the food. To give you an idea of its size, I calculate maybe a couple of match boxes would have covered it. In all, it was so attractive it would not have been out of place if it had hung from an art gallery wall. However, the course was not sustaining by itself.

Frank tells of a similar experience at a different place. The dinner was held to celebrate a very successful business trading year. The meal was seven courses long. In his words, to give you an example of a chef gone mad his description was. “The cook served a single leaf ripped from a Brussels sprout as a separate course”. At its conclusion the diners were so hungry they went the Scottish named take-away for bedtime sustenance before calling it a night. The message to take from this is — food must first be filling.

Of the thousands of dinners I have eaten, more than ever, I understand some meals seem tastier when we eat. Wonderful surroundings help, but the best cooks insist on simple food cooked well. It is helped when you understand the secret ingredient to every good meal is — good company.


One restaurant I would like to patronise in Melbourne is Atticia. The chef Ben Shewry has worked hard building its reputation. Before lockdown, it was placed variously in the top 100 places in the world to dine. Meals in this place carry a high premium, but that is not why I would like to go there. I know the food to be great. (It is however, beyond my retirees budget).

My reason is to support him is for his generosity towards hospitality staff who were stood down during during ISO. Of all the people who were unsupported financially with government aid during this time, wait staff represent a significant number. For more than five months most went without a pay-packet.  In recognition of their hard times Ben and food writer, Dani Valent cooked soup and gave it away each Wednesday to unemployed restaurant staff.  


These descriptions of my enjoyment of excessive attention dim if you cannot afford food at any price. That is why a free meal supplied by one of the best chefs is so exceptional. 

In Melbourne, expensive places are fewer. The Hare Kristina group offer very cheap vegetarian meals in many locations. A business named Lentil as Anything, before ISO, left it to the diner to decide how much they paid for their meal. (After five months closed its reopening however it is dependent on GoFundMe supporters to do so.)


Across the country, diners could once visit a group of diners named Sizzlers. After more than thirty years the last “eat as much as you can” place closed this week.


Times change and dining is no exception. As far as I know, you can no longer order Peacocks tongues anywhere. Excellent news for Peacocks. What else is food news? You can eat for nothing if you live in Tel Aviv, especially if you like chicken. In return there is good news for chicken, according to my friends at Future Crunch.com

FC reports the company, The Chicken, is feeding visitors free chicken sandwiches. This is good news for the visitors, and it is excellent news for chickens. No chickens die in order for The Chicken to make their sandwiches. “the chicken on the menu is grown from cells in a bioreactor in an adjacent pilot plant visible through a glass window. Diners don’t pay for their meals; instead, SuperMeat, the startup making the “cultured chicken” meat, is asking for feedback on its products, as it prepares for large-scale production of food that it thinks can transform the industry.”

Further, they explain:

The process is far faster and more efficient than raising animals. “Once the desired animal mass is achieved, it allows harvesting approximately half the meat every day,” says Savir. “It is metaphorically the equivalent of having a farm of 1,000 mature chickens, and harvesting 500 mature chickens out of that farm every day endlessly.” The “meat” is produced directly, without the intervening step of slaughtering and butchering. Done right, with renewable energy, the process can also cut the environmental footprint of meat, since it uses fewer resources.

Now the meals are free because no government has granted the company approval to sell their product. Today’s food lovers are simply testing food they proclaim, is as good as chicken.


My mixture of unrelated stories accepts good people continue to help the disadvantaged in: soup kitchens and food banks without any motive but to help. May their good work continue.

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

Forty spots

Entry, page 11/12 Birds of Victoria Gould League

Years ago I found grounded, a dead bird,

Stiff and cold. My damp palm swallowed its whole

Strangeness — mine to learn of a fowl dead.

Exquisite bird, miniature creature,

Said new to me. Unrecognised, Geoffrey

Enunciated, “A spotted pardalote.”

Time ticked slowly. Home – facelift begun.

A midget bird flew in nearby tree tops

Swooped low to the foundations busily

Constructing a home. Weird bird nesting in

The dark earth, unique, beautiful creature.

Absolute unto land, nests low — lives high.

Up in the eucalyptus — eating lerps.

Its forty spots endangered by mankind

Forever. Denuded ecology 

Awful progress a threat to extinction.


Birds of Victoria was a first bird book of Andrew’s in 1974. In 2020 Professor John Woinarski of Charles Darwin University predicts the life of the Spotted Pardalote is endangered.

Now Glue Words

Ref/prowritingaid. Om

I am Bruce

I have an adverb addiction.

I am an innocent child of this terrible thing.

At first I hurriedly popped them into sentences.

I hoped no one would notice.

I found I could not write fluently without them.

You didn’t say a word

Perhaps it is because you are too blooming polite.

On this forum all readers are critics, or at least you should be.

You write regularly.

Many of you are students carefully creating works of art.

You choose your excellent words craftily.

It matters not whether the work is prose or emotive verse.

I like how you think.

I like your rhythm, your meter, your alliteration.

I like your onomatopoeia.

Ha

Like the dastardly drunk I am stuck on them, all 3700 plus words in the English dictionary.

I use them sparingly

I see they commonly end in ly.

Many others escape my pen, hidden as they are, in my convoluted verbose speech.

In desperation I turned to prowritingaid.com

I purchased a membership.

Cured of one writing ill.

I have another.

I overuse glue words.

Who would have thought?

prowritingaid.com is helping me.

You can use it for nothing

Or you may prefer to pay half price for its full use by clicking on this twitter message

Subscribe- Your Personal Writing Coach https://prowritingaid.com/en/Account/Register2?twafid=1854453

A little word

Image. Thesaurus.com

Today i have watched Sean Connelly’s acceptance speech at the AFI awards. In 2006 he was given the tribute of a Life Achievement Award. I watched the program today as this is the week he died at 90. In his speech he acknowledged he had in inauspicious beginning. He left school at 13. I was shaken when, of all the things he might have said, he marvelled at how his life changed when he turned five. He said, “ I got my break, big break, when I was five years old, and i t has taken me more than 70 years to realise it. It is that simple, and it is that profound.” This man who became the character James Bond, 007 owed his success to those who taught him to read.

To read is life changing. We caught sight of it in our judicial child. At four she “transcribed” from a favourite work the words use to explain the tale. Drawing page after page of scribble — each sound representing the word she understood we spoke. As a teenager she noted the words she didn’t recognise it a text book in order to later check the meaning from a dictionary and note that beside the entry. 

I, with some glee, report the company Adani changed its name this week to – Bravus. Presumably they assumed it meant “brave”. The company is far from brave. It was controversially given the opportunity to open what is proposed to be the largest coal mine in the world in the Galilee basin of Australia’s far north.  At every stage, Adani has thumbed  its nose to all complainants. 

Whenever it reaches full production, the coal will be shifted offshore to India to produce thermal electricity without any acknowledgement of the contribution it will make toward global warming.  Therefore, it was with great mirth to read students of Latin pointed out bravus would never have meant brave. The appropriate word in English is fortis. The Guardian Australia reported the word meant something else. In fact, it was the opposite of brave. They wrote, “Mining company Adani has changed its name to a Latin word that means “crooked”, “deformed”, “mercenary or assassin”, after mistakenly thinking that it meant “brave”. Knowing the true meaning it appears the company has chosen its new name very carefully as it is most appropriate.

My own education was not as clear cut as it was for Sean Connelly. I had trouble learning to read because I now understand what made it difficult was dyslexia. 75 years ago, no one had a name for it. My teacher thought by sitting me in a corner called, “the dunce’s corner”  I might get over my disability and be shamed into reading. 

I realised words and I did not get on together early in life. Learning to read was painful and it took me years to master. Learning to spell was as difficult.  At school a training exercise was to learn five words as a spelling exercise each night for homework. Early next morning our teachers tested our comprehension and spelling of those words in the subject, Dictation. Day after day i failed to write the words I was expected to learn. 

However, instead of being discouraged I took it upon myself to study vocabulary. I learned the foreign roots of words and little by little to decode the clues in order to read. I learned prefixes and suffixes, and the shape of words in order to scan paragraphs for meaning. Even at this stage of my life i find it easier to scan a text for meaning rather than to concentrate on each word. The downside of this is I still misread obvious errors, especially when rereading my writing, and I find form filling onerous.

To this point I have found you, my reader, accepting of my shortcomings in this area.

I love the sound of well read language. Many authors you like I cannot read. I cannot immediately identify words I use in speech unless I have mastered them before in print. It is possible i have a problem with English but as it is my only language I would be lost without it. As it is I sit somewhere between Sean Connelly and Adani when it comes to language, malapropisms excepted.