Saturday, September 16, 2006

from winter to warmth

El Nino is on his way back - it's official.

The National Climate Centre in Melbourne warns that the El Nino effect, warming of equatorial seas that usually means droughts for eastern Australia, is on its way. The effects this time could be even worse than usual, because water stocks are already low after a dry winter.

Warm blustery winds blow across the city, the sun is blindingly bright when I look out from the back of my house - certainly a big change to the icy conditions that prevailed only a month ago.

I haven't updated this page for a few days. There always seems to be something to distract me. I'm frequently tired, since my resolution to put a stop to all those late nights has come to nothing.

When I do finally get to bed, I'm too tired to read, so I usually listen to half an hour of old radio shows on the MP3 player. I used to do most of my reading in bed, but between fatigue and my eyesight that doesn't happen very often nowadays.

Both of my days at work this week were fairly busy. Tuesday I ploughed through a backlog of some routine work, then on Thursday it was non-stop putting out weekly bulletins, special announcements and a big special edition for Prayer Week.

In fact the latter was taken out of my hands by my boss, who categorically pronounced that I'd done enough and he'd finish it off when he was in the next day. I was willing to stay until it was finished, but faced with a direct order I took him at his word.

By the way, he now wishes to be referred to not as Rob but as Robert. Since Rod joined our team, the misunderstandings have been rife and Rob has announced he is re-inventing himself as "Robert" to avoid any further confusion. But not Bob or Bobby please!

Julie and I never have any problems - we simply dubbed them R1 and R2, even though it makes them sound like the supporting cast of a Star Wars movie.

Not that Julie has been up to many witty remarks lately; she's been unwell for the last week, with some sort of yucky virus that makes me glad I had that flu shot. "Everything hurts," she groaned, "even my skin aches."

And of course she's been worried about her animals. Her aged mastiff Saj developed a suspicious lump and we won't know what the verdict is till they examine the biopsy.

While she was there, she had her Rex cat Jezebel checked because of a cough and they gave her some antibiotics. We can give the mastiff his tablets with no trouble at all, but you should see two adults hanging onto a tiny black cat fighting to get the pill down her very reluctant throat!

A pity she's not more interested in traditional feline pursuits, like chasing away that mouse that's hanging around my place. You may recall I was complaining about its expensive tastes - I've had to lock up all the chocolate in the house because it has a taste for it. The other day I came home to discover I'd missed one: there was the wrapper of a Cadbury's chocolate bar in the middle of the dining room floor, completely empty. You wouldn't think there were two cats living in the house, would you?

Fuel prices are on a roller-coaster in Hobart this month. Some outlets are now changing their prices several times a day, with prices ranging from A$1.16 a litre to almost A$1.30. United Petrol has taken over the Mobil outlets in Hobart, leading to increased competition. I guess in theory it's a good thing, but it makes drivers very unsettled because they simply don't know whether prices are on their way up or down at any given moment.

This week on ABC Radio National's By Design programme, something different to their usual talks about art and design. Christopher Alexander is one of the most innovative architects alive. He's also a severe critic of contemporary architecture. He tries to express fundamental truths in books with such titles as A Timeless Way of Building and The Nature of Order. In this extended feature, courtesy of CBC's Ideas program, Jill Eisen explored his ideas about what gives life beauty, and how it can be expressed in our buildings and our towns. His opinions of the architecture of the last thirty years can be imagined.

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