Sunday, July 17, 2005

livestock in depth

If you'd looked over my shoulder the last few days you would have seen me getting a refresher course in feeding my sister's livestock. "This goes in there. Then you put two of these and one of those for that one. Give her two scoops. Throw an extra handful to the duck with only one foot. Remember to shut this latch...etc etc etc."

She was off to a seminar for Christian women in the north of the state and somebody had to feed the dogs, cats, horse and poultry. It was only 36 hours but obviously she thought I needed to be brought up to speed on who got what and when.

Murphy's Law came into action of course, and the evening I was out in the barnyard was the coldest night we've had so far this winter, going down to 1°. I wasn't sorry to finish and get home.

24 hours later I got a text message saying she'd be home soon - "only 180km to go."

Meanwhile the Queen's Baton is visiting all 71 Commonwealth countries as a lead-up to the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

When the baton arrives in Australia in January it will tour every state and territory and be carried by 3500 people through 500 communities. Finally the baton, carrying a message from the Queen, will arrive at the Games' opening ceremony at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 15th.

Went round to Kay's place on Saturday afternoon and helped her download her e-mail. She hadn't been able to do it for a few months and she had 1300 messages in her inbox. Nearly all of them are free newsletters but she was very concerned about the possibility of them being deleted if she didn't download them.

It was a fraught half-hour. Kay panics so easily that pushing any button can be enough to make her swoon. I minimized a window and she let out a shriek "It's gone! What happened?" I explained that nothing had gone wrong and she subsided for the moment.

I had hoped that reading some of the articles in Netguide magazine might help her, but it doesn't seem to have made much difference.

Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling has topped's list of the 25 best selling authors of all time. Runners up were self-help book author Spencer Johnson, romance novelist Nora Roberts and Dan [Da Vinci Code] Brown.

Whatever you may think about the Harry Potter novels, Rowling is the classic self-made millionaire. She started off writing her first novel at a table in her local coffee shop, with no idea that the book wouldn't just be published but would become an international phenomenon.

It's been a long time since we've seen an author who succeeded purely on the strength of her imagination -- not a committee or a focus group to be seen.

UFOS, LIES AND THE COLD WAR was a German programme shown on SBS-TV this week. This programme states that from 1947 into the1960s, US intelligence was able to use UFO paranoia strategically to cover up secret weapons testing. UFO sightings began in Sweden with the so-called ghost rockets in 1946. The Swedish authorities assumed the Soviets were testing German rocket technology. From 1947, in the US, there were a large number of sightings of green and blue balls of light over Strategic Air Command centres involved in nuclear weapons programs. A feeling of anxiety and paranoia took over. The intelligence services investigated the phenomena, all the while playing them down in public.

Ironically the UFO hubbub was used as a smokescreen to cover up research and development programs in the US, the USSR and Britain. It was assisted by bureaucracies in order to keep important national secrets, such as the development of the U2 spyplane.

A different look at what we used to call "flying saucers."

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