Saturday, February 26, 2005

birds etc

February is nearly over. How can we be so far through the year? Easter is just round the corner.

The weather has been unpleasantly warm and humid this week. Tonight and last night the sky was hazy and pink – no moon, no stars.

Very different to the weather last week when we went down the river on that bird-watching cruise.

One of the things I like about living in Tasmania is that we're able to see creatures like White-Breasted Sea Eagles only minutes from the city limits.

OK, so they're not true eagles (they don't have feathered legs) but giant kites. But they're one hell of an impressive bird. They can live up to 30 years and there are about 200 pairs in Tasmania.

Overall the species is secure, due mainly to its diverse breeding and feeding habits and the fact that about 20% of pairs live in reserves. In addition, the species (like all birds of prey in Tasmania) is protected by law.

It was also great to be able to see the Iron Pot lighthouse up close. I've only seen it at a distance before. Imagine living out there in the 19th century. No electricity, no communications. It wouldn't be fun to be isolated out there during a storm.

Speaking of birds, my sister's parrot gave me a fright the other night. He somehow managed to fall off his perch and I reached in to help him up. He seemed unharmed but he acted so oddly I was afraid I'd killed him (maybe I squeezed too hard....).

Julie said maybe it was just shock – he's almost 25 years old and hasn't been handled much in recent years. We kept a close eye on him and he seemed to come right over the following day or so, but it made me apprehensive for a while.

Finished off our latest selection of wines that Julie ordered from the Wine by Choice club.
  • Mount Eyre Neptune Sparkling Semillon.
  • Wyndham Estate Bin 555 Sparkling Shiraz.
  • Marribrook 2001 Marsanne.
  • Barking Owl Semillion Sauvignon Blanc.
  • Warraroong 2002 Chenin Blanc.
  • Garbin Estate 2004 Chenin Blanc Verdelho.
  • Garbin Estate 2004 CVS.
  • Lamont's 2002 Cabernet Merlot.
  • Echuca 2002 Sangiovese Petit Verdot Merlot.
  • Kangaroo Ridge 2004 White Shiraz.

A letter for Julie from the Hobart City Council about the vegetation from her property overhanging the footpath. Some of it is difficult to understand.

It quotes the Local Government (Highways) Act to the effect that she is required to remove "vegetation that overhangs a local highway and is less than
(a) 2.5 metres above a part of the highway that is intended mainly for the use of pedestrians; or (b) 4.5 metres above any other part of the highway that is not intended for use as a carriage-way; or (c 6 metres above a part of the highway that is intended for use as a carriage-way."

I understood the first and third stipulations, but what exactly is the part of the highway that's for use by neither pedestrians nor as a carriage-way?

I've got to stop browsing through the department store catalogues. Browsing through the Target catalogue cost me $99 last week.

Noticing they had a DVD boxed set of the first season of The Saint starring Roger Moore for $69, I called in one day and had a look around.

By the time I left I had purchased not only the boxed set but DVDs of Roy Rogers and Dragnet @ $15 each. The DVD section of a large store is a dangerous place for those of a certain age and a nostalgic bent.

Watched episode #1 of The Saint "The Talented Husband". A beautiful clear print. Roger Moore looks so young, but then weren't we all in 1963?

I remember watching this series while I was at school, and reading the Leslie Charteris paperbacks around the same time. Which came first, I can't quite recall.

I saw a few issues of the comic book spin-off and the monthly Saint Mystery Magazine, but it's only in recent years that I've seen any of the 1940s Hollywood movies or heard any of the radio shows.

The recent modernized feature film starring Val Kilmer was mediocre at best. I suspect it would never have been made if Leslie Charteris had still been alive; he was notoriously protective of his famous creation.

Even now, forty years later I find Charteris' thrillers eminently readable and the television adaptation is reasonably faithful given the censorship restrictions of the Sixties.

A little thrill still goes through me at the words "So you're the famous Simon Templar!"

A fictional hero as old as the Saint but even more flamboyant is the pulp magazine hero Doc Savage. I read a lot of these when they were reprinted by Bantam Books in the 1970s, but today you can buy them on a CD-Rom or download them for free from

The only annoying thing about the Bantam reprints was that they were not printed in sequence. So I've started my reading with the very first story "The Man Of Bronze" [1933], which deals with the lost valley that finances Clark Savage's war against evil. The plot is very derivative of Edgar Rice Burroughs but quite entertaining.

I look forward to reading some more of the stories, though it's probably better to pace yourself rather than overdosing on them.

I do have a copy of the final Doc Savage novel "Up From Earth's Center" – I'm unsure whether I should read this now in case I never get through the hundreds of stories that lie between it and the first yarn in the series.

Quote of the day:

"The whole history of science has been the gradual realization that events do not happen in an arbitrary manner, but that they reflect a certain underlying order, which may or may not be divinely inspired."

-- Stephen Hawking

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