Friday, August 31, 2007

a red moon

As the Tasmanian winter draws to an end, my craving for citrus fruits has started to abate. I've eaten just about every sort I can get my hands on - oranges, mandarins, tangellos, kiwi fruit.... only grapefruit is off-limits, because it interferes with one of my medications.

I've still been drinking a lot of coffee though, and apparently I'm not alone. A survey released this week reveals that a lot of Australians are drinking more and more coffee. I can sympathise with that, though the guy who drinks seven cups a day every weekend is probably over-doing it.

The big event of the week was the lunar eclipse. The visibility was good from my back yard. It started a bit after 7:30pm (Eastern Australian Time) and soon the moon shadowed over. By about 8 o'clock it looked like Mars - pale orange with a bright white area visible at the top.
I was worried about clouds blocking our view, but it was windy and the clouds moved away to give us a good view from suburban Hobart.
About 9:30 I went out again and there was a brighter rim at the bottom, with a sort of smudge across the face of the moon.
It worked out better than I expected. I wouldn't have been surprised if the weather had closed in just at the vital moment.

Florida, so I read, leads the US in legislation about pirate radio. They have laws that empower authorities at the county level to investigate complaints about unauthorized broadcasters and shut them down. It literally takes years for the FCC to act (not its fault: it’s stuck with cumbersome procedures). The Palm Beach Post says a pirate operating from a tower owned by a plumbing company was interfering with a licensed Low Power FM owned by a nearby church. That led to a Wednesday morning raid and an arrest.

Speaking of radio, I usually listen to the Friday afternoon show on 92FM which features an hour of Theatre Organ music. If you've ever heard a Wurlitzer in full flight, this is the show for you. Go here -

Friday, August 10, 2007

Viewing the PM

The Prime Minister wants to speak to you. That's a hard one to ignore.

For the first time in Australia, a debate between the PM and the Opposition Leader was going to be streamed live over the Internet to churches around the nation. All we had to do was brave the wild winter weather to get to the church hall by 7 pm.

The only webcasts I've seen on my home computer were rather hit-and-miss affairs, so I settled in to my seat with some trepidation about what was to come.

Fortunately some members of our congregation are younger and more technically savvy than yours truly, so they were able to run a long cable from the office modem to their laptop and from there into the Data Projector. Once that was set up, all they had to do was project the live feed onto a screen at the end of the hall and it was just like being at the cinema.

The format was fairly simple. Each politician spoke for 20 minutes, then spent 15 minutes answering questions from church leaders gathered at the National Press Club in Canberra. There was a half hour break between the two men.
There was a lot similar about the two speeches. Each speech broke up into three parts - the valued place of our Christian heritage in the national fabric, the speaker's own faith, and the party political section.

In practice, PM John Howard had the easier run. Coming from the conservative side of politics, he had no compunctions about saying he was a believer and endorsing the role of the churches in national life. Being the incumbent, he was also able to announce Federal funding for the Net Alert project to keep Australian children safe on the Internet.

Kevin Rudd, the Leader of the Opposition, had to walk a finer tightrope. He praised the work of all religions in our tolerant multi-faith society and made vague noises about his personal religious faith, but of course coming from the left-wing he wasn't going to risk being quoted in the media as being a "god botherer" -- it certainly wouldn't have helped his standing with the tree-hugging Greens who think of Gaia rather than God when they contemplate the spiritual realm.

In the end, it was an interesting rather than involving evening. The polls may speculate about a Labor landslide, but I suspect it will take a lot to dislodge the canny Mr Howard from the PM's seat.

The webcast organised by the Australian Christian Lobby was beamed to about 900 churches all round the country. Quite an impressive achievement.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


Not everything you want to know can be found on the Internet. My sister's horse has developed a problem with his hind legs and it was suggested it might be caused by the toxic plant Cape Weed. She scoured the web searching for a clear picture of it without success.

Finally she had to get out of her chair, walk into the next room and take down from the shelf the 1979 Reader's Digest book Illustrated Guide to Gardening. They had a nice clear sketch of the offending flora.

So we spent the afternoon going over the paddock, peering at every weed we saw. I don't think we saw any Cape Weed, but we think we saw a lot of Cat's Ear (which looks vaguely similar) and many seedlings that looked a lot like the Hawthorn tree I bought at the nursery last month.

The problem is that for a layman like me, all the weeds start to look alike after a few minutes of inspecting them. What I need is a nice clear Wanted poster depicting the weeds in question.
Or do I mean an "Unwanted" poster?

My Blood Glucose Level [BGL] reading hit an all-time high yesterday. Last summer it was around 6.9 or 7.5 most mornings, but since I've been snuffling my way through this winter it's been going up and up. Yesterday it hit 14.0 -- a personal best (or worst). I'm really hoping that it's going to start coming down as the temperature goes up.
Already we can see the days starting to lengthen perceptibly. It's no longer dark at 5 p.m. Can Spring be far away?
Not according to the Zelda, the goose who lives in my garden. She has already laid two eggs this week, something that she doesn't usually do until September.