How are you staying sane(ish) during the current pandemic?

Started by SueC, March 24, 2020, 11:48:24

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Thanks heaps for that link, @Ulrich - we both enjoyed that!  And that's a typically great quote from the guy.  We're a little disappointed that he's not done more readings, but since he's not home schooling this week, maybe he'll get around to a few more. :cool

I'm staying sane by eating ice-cream, writing to friends, scratching donkey ears, cuddling our soppy dog, doing essential jobs, and enjoying my time with my husband (who is now home for all of Easter hooray!!!).

Best wishes to everyone out there.

SueC is time travelling


Just reminding everyone that the moon is nearly full and it's an excellent time for torchless outdoors walking at night. :cool  ...for those of you in countries where you're allowed exercise.

It's really lovely to walk by moonlight - with the landscape all silvery.  Over here we also hear crickets at night as we walk through the bushland, and the chirping of microbats as they fly overhead on their hunting trips.
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Actual conversation that took place along a rural road in Western Australia last night.  We'd done a 40-minute loop of the nature reserve tracks (with a torch, because the moon wasn't up yet) in the drizzle following the earlier downpour, enjoying the moisture in the atmosphere and the aroma of earth and wet leaves etc.  Arriving at our northeast gate, we decided to take the road back to our driveway.  So, neighbour's pasture to our right, our pasture to our left.

Brett: (to neighbour's cows) Moo!

Me: (swinging torch beam over resting cows on our side of the road) Why are you talking to the neighbour's moos, when you could be talking to your own moos?

Brett: are my moo-se!

Me:  ...that is so amoosing!

Brett:  When you get a good pun, you've got to milk it!

Me:  Bwahahahaha!

This is how we stay sane.  :angel
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Quote from: SueC on April 10, 2020, 00:33:38This is how we stay sane.  :angel

I would say it is open to debate if that's still sane(ish)...   :winking_tongue
I'm walking slowly and quickly, but always away...


Did anyone else see this:lol:

When I first caught sight of this, I wondered if it was Rolf Harris in drag.  :beaming-face  :evil:  :angel

Just goes to show, not everyone can carry off that look.   :angel  :winking_tongue

But then I put the sound on, and Brett and I were vastly amused.  Very good use of the song, we think - funniest lyrics re-write I've heard since Like A Surgeon, and so appropriate for our times...  :)

Our senses of humour will help to get us through.
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Streets of Bratislava, Day-30 of the quarantine, filmed by dsanchez

2023.11.22 Lima
2023.11.27 Montevideo


Thank you, @dsanchez; we enjoy the vicarious rides through Bratislava!  :cool  Brett was very funny though - when he saw you were riding with a friend, he said, "Look, it's a peloton!" :lol:  And I was a bit naughty, because when we heard crackling sounds a bit in, I said, "Does the bike need some WD-40?  Or does David need a knee replacement?"  :angel

I don't have a Go-Pro, but occasionally take a camera out on a trail - one of the things that keeps me sane is riding a horse through the bushland.  So for something completely different, here's a horse ride through the Australian landscape, with commentary.  I originally did this for the Horse Forum, but with people indoors more than usual, why not offer Cure fans a vicarious ride in Australia.


This is on the sand track behind the house, in late summer.

Notice there are two dogs in this photograph. Our Jess is in the background, and Max is in the foreground. He is our neighbours' stock dog, and occasionally turns up to play with Jess. This morning, I was woken by the two dogs thundering around the house and growling playfully, as Kelpies will. Their games include lots of speed racing and egging each other on.

The next couple of photos are looking left and right into the bushland. We burnt this section of valley floor nine months ago, for fuel reduction and to maintain a mosaic landscape for biodiversity conservation. It's coming back nicely, and is very green considering it's midsummer, which in our Mediterranean climate means drought.

You can still see the charring on the eucalyptus trunks, and tea-trees with dead tops re-sprouting from their bases. The bush grass always regenerates from its tough subsurface structures, and thrives with the extra nutrients provided by the ash. You can also see eucalytpus seedlings here, bright green and barely nine months old. Fire causes a lot of sclerophyll seed to germinate, as it signals the availability of nutrients, space and light post-burn.

Sclerophyll literally means hard-leaved, as adaptation for drought tolerance typically results in comparatively hard leaves with waxy coatings. These coatings are flammable, as are the volatile oils many sclerophyll species (eucalyptus trees, tea-trees etc) produce in their leaves to deter grazing, which can easily stress plants in a harsh environment. In environments where water and minerals are more abundant, plants can more easily re-grow leaves, and aren't forced to protect them chemically.

When vegetation is flammable, it is prone to wildfires through lightning strike. As fire is inevitable in such plant communities, much of southern Australia's current natural vegetation has become gradually fire-adapted.

Aboriginal Australians have been on this continent for over 60,000 years. They began "firestick farming" – using small, frequent low-intensity fires, both to prevent devastating wildfires, and to promote high populations of animals they could eat. The Australian sclerophyll has been co-evolving with Aboriginal fire regimes for at least 35,000 years. The Aboriginal people continually burnt small patches of land to create vegetation mosaics that included old, dense, unburnt vegetation for shelter, freshly burnt ground with new shoots to attract grazing mammals, and everything in-between. We try to do the same.

Tim Flannery and various other Australian ecologists think that the post-colonial exit of Aboriginal Australians and their fire management from the countryside is a major factor in the wave of Australian mammal extinctions, and in a resurgence of devastating large-scale wildfires.

In the photo above, you can see what happens if a fire develops hot patches. (Ours did, because the tea-tree flat on the left hadn't been burnt in over 20 years and was long overdue. Generally, we try to do cool burns, like the Aboriginal people did – but since only a relatively small area of our property burnt hot, it wasn't a huge problem for the local ecology.) The eucalypts on this section of the track experienced a crown fire, which cooked their smaller branches and branchlets. When this happens, eucalypts sprout new branches, called epicormic shoots, through the bark, from dormant buds kept in reserve for such occasions.

If anyone is interested in the burn we did last autumn, there's photos and a story here.

So, back to the trail: This is the south gate into an adjoining property, where I have permission to ride.

This is the same neighbours who own that block also own Max. I was hoping he'd come with us on the ride so I could drop him back, but he went back to our house instead. He appears to have made his own way home today.

Next we're through the gate, heading east. I'm not back on the horse yet, because I've just done up the 8kV hot wire that protects the gate from stock – not something you should do off a horse's back.

The next set of photos are of the valley floor at the neighbour's place. Summer-green bush grasses predominate that area, and it's really pretty to ride in, on the well-formed animal trails. The introduced pasture is mostly brown this time of year. We met about a dozen kangaroos on our meander through today, in three batches, but the iPod was in my pocket each time, and they were gone by the time I had it out.

Here's the Christmas trees (Nuytsia floribunda). These are hemiparasitic trees that draw sap from surrounding grass roots etc, and they also cut telephone cables. Aboriginal people used to make a mildly alcoholic drink from the blooms steeped in water. These trees are completely spectacular this time of year.

It's party time for nectar-feeding insects when these trees are in bloom. You can spot some bees in this close-up.

If you'd like to know more about these trees, there's a wonderful short article on them here:

Next, we came out of the bushland, onto a narrow strip of pasture by the side of Verne Road (to the right, behind a strip of bush). This time we turned left.

Yesterday, we'd turned right, so I took a shot facing backwards as well, to show the alternative route!

It's so hot I've sweated onto the saddle! I'll have to give it some more leather dressing to prevent trouble. In this weather, I'm not going to stop sweating anytime soon, especially when I have to wear a winter trail vest with pockets for carrying the iPod safely.

We're now headed back north on the eastern edge of the same bushland remnant we came through the middle of.

The next photo is heading east, with a view of the surrounding countryside. You should be able to see one of the neighbours' Angus herds where Sunsmart's ears are pointing, against the edge of the woods. You can also see how effective the introduced African dung beetles are at breaking up large herbivore dung! There haven't been large native herbivores in Australia since the extinction of the Australian megafauna around 50,000 years ago, so special dung beetles were needed.

In the next shot, you can see the neighbours' homestead and farm buildings through the gap in the trees. This is where Max and his family lives. Neighbour Noel used to ride as well, and admits to hurting himself when doing something stupid on a horse in his twenties after watching The Man From Snowy River. These days, he flies an aeroplane he built himself. Much safer!

A few photos of heading up the raceway by the roadside. Note the Australia strainer assembly in the fence, and also, once again, the magic the African dung beetles wreak on the cow manure. At the moment, in the heat of the day, it takes these beetles less than 10 minutes to spread a pile of cow manure or horse droppings far and wide, and this is important, because it stops the Australian bushflies from breeding. We always have a plague of these flies in spring, because the African dung beetles can't produce large enough numbers of themselves until the weather gets really hot. Right now, we're 99% bushfly free, which is great, because these critters sit on the eyes, in the nose, on your lips and anywhere else they can sip moisture off a body, unless you shoo them constantly, and of course, the livestock can't do this.

This is at the exit gate, from which point we take a roadside firebreak trail home:

And this is the Hound of the Baskervilles! Complete fluke photograph!

Jess always gets excited when I get back on the horse after going through a gate, and barks a lot to encourage us to hurry up.

Here she's being encouraging again...

The roadside trail home:

This is the neighbours' bull paddock, for bulls not currently running with herds:

These are Angus pedigree bulls. The neighbours just had a bull sale, of two-year-old pedigree bulls bred up especially. It's a sideline they are hoping to develop. The sale went well, so they're encouraged to continue the venture.

The freeze branding on these indicates that they are pedigree stock.

Here's a machinery shed in the bull paddock, and another Australian strainer assembly, built from local bush poles. The ceramic insulators running inside the fence carry a 9kV line, to keep the stock off the fences.

I made a feeble attempt to be arty with this photograph!

Today. we had a lot of practice riding at a walk with completely loose reins, whenever I was taking photographs! It was a leg-steering practice drill.

This is an Australian "cocky gate" – our north-eastern entrance gate:

A cocky gate is a loose section of fence between two strainer posts, that you drag around. The loose end has a narrow post attached via wire loops to the strainer post. We've dropped a big log in front of our cocky gate so people can't use it to drive vehicles onto our property. There's just enough room for a horse, or pedestrians. The log is hollowed out from past bushfires, which is typical for Australian eucalypts, and also one of the main ways in which wildlife shelters are created in the sclerophyll bushland. Many mammal and bird species use tree hollows for shelter and nesting, both in standing trees and in fallen old logs.

We're now on the section of our property we call "The Common" – 8ha of undivided pasture, and 50ha of bushland conservation remnant to the south of the pasture. This is where the cattle hang out most of the time, although they do come in to crash graze the two western paddocks of 2ha each as well.

This area gets winter waterlogging, as you can tell from the paperbark trees and the reeds in this section of the land. Don Quixote and Mary Lou sheltering sensibly in the shade of a paperbark tree:

Four Simmental crosses under one year old, and four Friesian steers around two years old:

Sparkle is in the background, in the last photo. Sunsmart and I are headed for the equine group, where Nelly and Benjamin come to greet us.

The bay with the blaze is Julian, the chestnut to the left is Chasseur. Aren't these paperbark trees amazing? They can fall in a storm and then keep growing anyway, with a horizontal section of what used to be the upright trunk.

My horse is asking, with his ears, "Are you getting off?" When he's not very sweaty and we return from a ride via the Common, I often just leave him with his buddies, and walk the few hundred metres back to the house.

And aren't his buddies enchanting!

We've untacked, and Sunsmart gets straight down to morning tea.

And I really couldn't help myself, I just had to take lots of photos of this lovely bunch of animals resting in the shade:

Much nicer than standing on your own in a sand yard for 15 years, isn't it, Julian! (This actually happened to this horse, whom we adopted post-racing.  Now he's got friends and is roaming over large areas.)

A few more group photos to finish. Benjamin knows he's extra cute:

He's a true dun, which is the typical colouration of wild donkeys. You can see how well he blends into the vegetation with his colour.

The paperbark trees are named this way for a reason. The bark sheds off in sheets like thick paper. I used to write little letters to my penpals back in Europe on this bark, when I first came to Australia as a kid.

A snoozy Nelly:

Chasseur and the two "new" donkeys:

Chasseur turned 25 late last year, and is looking great.

And a group shot to finish for today – with the tack lying in the foreground!

Phew! Next time I'm riding without the camera, or this will start costing me sleep!

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this vicarious horseback tour of a little bit of Australia.
SueC is time travelling


Meeting a few relatives over Easter (as if it almost were a "normal" one) has helped keeping me sane (yeah we kept the distance anyway).

My niece played some songs on her acoustic guitar for her grandma. I listened from outside on the porch while chatting to a relative - when suddenly I recognised that line from a song "waiting for tomorrow... never comes", but I couldn't figure out what song it was (I thought it might be something from the 2000's or 1990's) until I asked her and she said "3 Imaginary Boys"!!  :happy
(I will ask her to play that again one day.)
I'm walking slowly and quickly, but always away...


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Super project done by a virtual choir:

Story here:

(And forget about our awful bloody national anthem, most people identify with songs like this instead...)

SueC is time travelling


Quote from: SueC on April 05, 2020, 03:04:59A rumination here:  I imagine Freud would have had similar thoughts on that topic...

The problem with all the silos of academia etc is that sometimes people don't see outside of their own particular silo, into other silos or even the world outside those silos.  In fact, I think this is a massive problem - that human thought, especially academic thought, has become too split and specialised and there's so little integration into a whole, people are just beavering away so separately in their own little towers, not enough bringing it together and making it more than the sum of the parts.  It's like a whole bunch of moles in their separate tunnels in the darkness, while the world is blowing up.

So Sartre (and you can substitute various other philosophers here, same argument) is credited within a particular silo for having original thoughts that in all probability had independently occurred to a number of people not in that silo, before and after his time.  I think it would be wise to assume that in most cases of thought, nobody has a monopoly on a particular thought.  That's even true with calculus - Newton or Leibniz?  Well, both, and perhaps a few other maths geeks at some stage as well.  Not everyone who has a particular set of thoughts gets official credit for it.

Brett was telling me this morning about one of his favourite authors, Terry Pratchett.  He listened to one of his speeches once, where he said he had a great idea for a story, and rang up a friend and explained the story idea to him, and his friend said, "Yes, it is a great story!  That's why Fred Brown wrote in it 1952."

There's no doubt that increased specialization and compartmentalization is a reality within academic disciplines, one whose intellectual and social ramifications are legion. Having said that, Sartre's engagement with colonialism is an example of the opposite trend: France's most famous public intellectual 1) lent his support to Algeria's Front de Libération Nationale when it was strictly illegal to do so in France (2 deployed his formidable erudition and rhetorical power to illuminate historical processes in a way that directly impacted some of the most important thinkers of the so-called Third World as well as Europe.

Sartre's analysis was developed by Frantz Fanon, a clinical psychiatrist and one of the 20th century's major political philosophers, whose work reached far beyond the ivory tower. The somewhat mistranslated The Wretched of the Earth (to which Sartre contributed a famous foreword) is a foundational text for anti-colonial radicals and freedom fighters the world over (including, for example, in Palestine), as it is for postcolonial theorists. Then there's Aimé Césaire who, like Fanon, has (to the best of my knowledge)never held any academic post. Paris-educated, he was a poet, thinker and politician in his native Martinique, who exerted tremendous influence on African literatures in particular. If Sartre and these two represent a "silo", it's a weirdly global, heterogeneous and multidisciplinary one. 

Finally, it would be inaccurate to say that Sartre is credited with coming up with the idea re the link between colonialism and fascism, which was fleshed out much more fully and explicitly in the work of Fanon and Césaire, as well as Albert Memmi and Hannah Arendt (to cite only Sartre's contemporaries). There is a boring reason for that and a not so boring one. The boring one is that Sartre's writings about colonialism occupy a relatively marginal place in his oeuvre (indeed, I cited them in this discussion as an example that there's more to Sartre than "existentialism") and I'm familiar with only two books on the subject, neither of which has been translated into English.

The more interesting reason is the nature of his oft-overlooked contribution to our thinking about European colonialism and its aftermath. His writings from the late 1940s developed a new style of reasoning about racism and Europe's relation to Africa, effectively changing the underlying rules for the "production of statements" on the topic. His work set the ground for what Foucault called a new discursive practice, rather than this or that "idea." He was instrumental in opening up a space within which you could say things that hitherto would have made little sense, would have no perspective within which to ground them.


Thank you for writing that, @BiscuityBoyle, it's much appreciated!  :smth023  I'm glad you're aware of the things I was concerned about, since not everyone in academia is (and the higher up they are, the less they see it, from my own experience, in the sciences).  Very interesting stuff in your post.  :cool   I hope you're doing OK and that there's some end point in sight about being able to go home, for you.

On the staying sane front, we got out yesterday - for me it was the first time in a week I left the farm - headed for Cosy Corner, our closest beach via unsealed back roads, for a nice long walk before lunch.  As luck would have it, there were bridgeworks on one of the access roads, resulting in a detour that took us to Young's Siding, so we decided to go to Bornholm Beach instead.

Bornholm Beach is small, so we decided to go rock-hopping around the point shown in that last photo, something we'd not done at this location before.  We didn't take a camera - the above photos were from our last visit, which was after a 4-hour bushwalk nearby, to cool our feet - but next time we definitely will, because as we worked our way around the point, we oohed and aahed at the wonderland we encountered - limestone caves, mixed granite and limestone boulders overlying the granite bedrock, intrusions where magma had cooled quickly to make close-grained dark dykes in the large-grained, slow-cooled granite around it, steep cliffs, faraway headlands, little hidden beaches in the distance, and the Southern Ocean throwing a wild surf onto the rocks.  Rock fishermen we saw were in life jackets along the edge.

It's amazing to be living in a part of the world where we can still go to places we've never been (I first lived here 25 years ago; Brett has been down here for over 12 years), and will be able to until the end of our lives.  This place is so vast and there is so much coastline, and so much walking.  We're the kind of people who go mad without regular immersion in the wilderness, which is why we live where we do.

Luckily, Western Australia shut its borders rapidly and is getting quickly on top of COVID-19 at the moment compared to the Eastern states, so we've not had any restrictions on where or how long we can exercise (other than that we have to stay in our regions at the moment), as long as we do it responsibly and we keep physical distance with people not from our households.  The only reported police involvement in fining people in our state so far has been for people breaching quarantine (everyone entering has to be in hotel quarantine for a fortnight at the moment, and some entitled prat was going out through the fire exit every night and hopping on public transport, and he's rightly in jail at the moment), or breaching self-isolation orders, or not staying in their regions, or holding house parties / large gatherings / ignoring social distancing.  Noone has been fined for sitting on a bench to eat a pie, or for driving to the beach etc - and we've not been told not to do it, in fact we're being encouraged to get out for exercise, for our physical and mental health.

I guess the fact that they clamped down on the borders so hard and on quarantining people coming in, and are now doing widespread testing, means that the citizens aren't as hyper-restricted in our state as they are in many places in the world.  Yes, we do have a lockdown, but with generous exercise and outdoors provisions.
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This was just brought to my attention and I am delighted, as a fellow gardener, to see it:

It's very relatable and hopefully will start some people on a really useful little hobby that's far more interesting than growing rhododendrons... growing some of your own food!  :cool

By the way, if you need flowerpots, go to your local tip shop, where these are usually collected and given away for free.

It's so nice to see these little clips by various people during lockdown.  Now we just need Simon Gallup to start doing YT videos on DIY bicycle mechanics.  Brett said earlier he would like to hold Mike Scott at gunpoint until he produces another reading, since he loves the three lockdown readings he's done so far... ;)

Brett thinks that a lot of politicians, especially right-wingers, think people on coronavirus lockdown are just watching TV and taking drugs and being lazy, when many people are actually doing really creative things...
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Independent media gives me hope, because not filled with Prolefeed.  Crikey has great articles at the moment:

They're subscription-based now, but you get three weeks to try them out, and this is a good time to be sampling their articles.  (And we will be subscribing, they're worth it, and we have so little independent media in Australia.)  Lots of stuff relevant globally too, like this one:

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SueC is time travelling