Happy today because....

Started by Steve, April 14, 2007, 10:39:40

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... after my driveway was like an "ice rink" this morning, it's been getting warmer and it all melted away.  :cool
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I hope that you had a chance to do some pirouettes on your ice skates before your imprompu rink melted, @Ulrich.  Carpe diem and all that!  ;)

I'm happy today for many many reasons, but especially because I no longer feel burnt out - after getting incredibly depleted by three months of hayfever, hayfever-associated sleep deprivation, and anti-histamine side effects late last year and then having a really stressful week on top of that, which knocked out all my remaining reserves.  I was still working as best as I could all of January, but both of us having the first half of February off was very helpful, even if for most of it we just vegetated around our home.  I was still having energy issues last week but now I'm finally no longer feeling bottomlessly depleted, which is great, because that's actually really scary, aside from no fun and really debilitating.

So now, we can look forward to resuming our hiking of local mountains and coast.  :)  Also, I'm actually getting things done again while feeling good, instead of having to drag myself around to do basics.
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We were hosting a dinner this evening with calzone & salad on the menu, and chocolate pear tart for afters.

I had actually tried to make smaller calzones than usual, with dubious success - they were still the size of a human stomach... as I passed a plate with one of those pizzas on to a guest who happened to be Italian, I asked him, "Do you reckon you can manage that size, and still have room for dessert?"  He smiled and rolled his eyes about and told me, "Of course.  I have survived many Christmases in Italy!"  :lol:
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... I received a letter from a lawyer, who's the liquidator of a company which went bust around 2006/7. Thus, some 15 years (!) later I might receive a (small?) percentage of the money they owed me. (They don't know the exact proportion yet...)  :1f62e:

(I'm happy about the news; not about the time it took.)  :1f636:
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Firstly we're ecstatic because the weekend election here in Western Australia all but wiped out our Conservatives - nowhere in the Anglosphere have the political right been ground into the dust like they have at this election:


Current count:  Labor 50 seats, Conservatives 5
Predicted:  Labor 52 seats, Conservatives 7

Labor are (soft) neoliberals as well, and we despair of the Labor-Liberal duopoly in Australia, but this particular Labor government has been surprisingly good across a lot of policies - and you can compare and contrast Labor vs Conservative policies taken to election here:


In summary, the proposed spending of the Conservatives mostly goes to a few of their business buddies (that's called "looking out for your mates" and is what our conservative PM is always spruiking), while the proposed spending of Labor gets spread more equitably across the community, in a more logically planned and less "let the market decide" manner, and actually addresses things like climate change, environmental degradation, social justice, improving things directly for the community instead of "stimulating private enterprise" (= throw our tax at the big end of town) to provide infrastructure and services in that direction.

The Education policy in particular was telling - the Conservatives were going to throw the majority of the money at a handful of schools in middle/upper class areas (which also means building contracts for their mates in the big construction companies), while the remaining hundreds of schools could apply for a grant to "improve their playgrounds"... :evil:  Labor proposed to share out the funding more equitably across schools in general.

Interesting going through the policy comparisons across the board.  I don't know what it's like in your country, but here, the Conservatives have gotten truly evil - it actually has become a moral/ethical issue, not just a question of political preference.

On election day we also had another reason to be really happy - we did a half-day hike across a pristine section of coast; 16km in 4.5 hours including breaks.  It's the longest hike we've done all year so far, and also the longest hike since before we had hayfever really badly for three months at the end of last year.  We've been building our fitness levels back up recently, and it was fabulous to be back at the point where we were really motoring on the return walk - throwing ourselves up the dunes and then making long gravity-assisted steps on the downhill stretches.  It's an amazing feeling when your body is capable of stuff like this again.  Here's some scenery.

Cosy Corner - our starting point:

Dingo Beach with views to Torbay Head:

Looking back over Dingo Beach towards Forsyth Bluff, with Peak Head across the bay in the far distance (the spiky faraway point across from the island):

Descending into Shelley Beach:

Fun and games on Shelley Beach:

Thanks to Eileen for the pictures for this one! :)
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Quote from: SueC on March 14, 2021, 23:49:54Firstly we're ecstatic because the weekend election here in Western Australia all but wiped out our Conservatives ...

Similar thing happened here in this federal state (election), where the "conservative" party CDU lost a few seats (quite deservedly, after a scandal about MPs who enriched themselves).

I was/am quite happy to see the liberal democrats do well.  :cool
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We've got a late heatwave in Western Australia, where it's impossible to do a hike in the middle of the day, which made me think, "There goes the weekend!" as the cool change wasn't coming till Monday.  So we did useful things around the house and outside (brief stints into the heat, like skin diving when you're holding your breath, before coming back in to cool off) in-between recreational indoors tasks.  A whole list of things was done between us by evening:  House cleaned, laundry done, garden watered, all the stock troughs cleaned and filled, the nine honey frames from one super extracted - I was uncapping, Brett was spinning with our little two-frame hand spinner, end result was 20kg of honey but it does always take hours (CDs and iPod type activity).  I did the daily supplementary animal feed at dusk and noticed the sky was clear, with a low half-moon; also the heat was finally subsiding for the day, and it gave me an idea...

So after flying my idea over dinner, we drove to our nearest beach for a night walk.  Last time we tried to do this we ended up nearly freezing in a cold wind, having come unprepared for an Antarctic blast in mid-summer; also there was a bit of cloud cover.  But last night, there was only the gentlest of breezes and it was still 19 degrees C at 9pm.  The sky was completely clear and the moon had dropped below the horizon and this is the Southern hemisphere, 400km from the nearest large city, so what you get on such nights is a black velvet sky with luminous crystal-like stars.

The Southern Cross hung relatively low over the southern horizon and waves rolled in beneath it in the wide bay at Cosy Corner, the surf illuminated by starlight.  You'd be amazed how bright moonless nights can get where we are - after starting with the red light on our head torches to get down to the beach, we switched that off and walked as our eyes adjusted. (Red doesn't interfere as much with the development of night vision - don't use a white light when you go do this because you don't have proper night vision for around 20 minutes after removing yourself from that kind of light.)

This is the general view we had...

...except that's just a diagram; in reality the stars look more like this:

I never used to see it like that in the Northern hemisphere as a kid; too much light pollution in Europe and you need cameras with long exposure to get a look at the smaller points of light there - but not where we are; the clarity is amazing.  We were thinking that it's so sad that since the invention of the Edison bulb, so few Westerners ever see a proper starlit sky - if they're not confining themselves to the indoors at night as is the cultural norm, and actually make a point of going walking at night, the light pollution from others cuts the view down so much in many places in the Western world.

Night walks are great for other reasons too - during the day, the majority of our brain's processing is visual.  In the dark, other senses kick in far more strongly.  I'm guessing most people reading know the difference between listening to music in daylight versus sitting quietly in the dark - now apply that to the outdoors... it's amazing how much you become aware of what you're hearing, and of the scents around you, and how your internal GPS activates when you're walking in the near-dark.  We walk around the tracks of our on-farm bushland at night a lot, and you can really hear the crickets, the various different frog species, the odd chirp from a roosting bird, leaf rustling if there's a breeze, and the low range of the calls of the hunting microbats - as well as some of their wing flapping when they get close!  Also, the smell of Lemon-Scented Gum (a eucalyptus tree) on a still night is an incredible experience - it's one of our favourite smells in the world, and especially extraordinary when your brain doesn't have the usual background noise of daytime visual processing going on.

A night beach walk too is a totally different experience to going there by day, even on an overcast night.  You become aware in ways we're not normally aware in everyday Western life.  But on a starlit night, the universe is right there, without a curtain of clouds or daytime Rayleigh scatter (which gives us our blue sky).  You can see beyond "Earth view" into "here we are in the universe" view - and you go from, "Look at all these amazing things everywhere!" to, "All this stuff around us is really small by comparison, as are we..." -

Now add to that a little reflection on the speed of light and that when you look anywhere, you're always looking into the past - even when you look at your foot, the image is slightly in the past because of the tiny delay from the photons travelling from your foot to your eye.  Across the vastness of space this becomes super significant - if you turned off our sun, it would take 8 minutes for us to notice - and the distant stars are many light years away.  Sirius, which you can see from both hemispheres, you see where and as it was nearly 9 years ago when you look up at it.  The Magellanic Clouds we get in the Southern hemisphere are around 200,000 light years away, so that's how old the image is that you see of them - and Andromeda, if you see it, you see where and as it was 2.6 million years ago...

Here's a song by Australian band The Church which conveys some of all that - with a lovely clip on the theme.  Enjoy!

PS:  If you do ever stand on the seashore looking at stars, you're essentially looking at two cradles without which you would not exist:

1. - because all of us are made from what we can romantically call "stardust" - as the heavier chemical elements from which we are composed, such as carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur, iron - were all formed from the nuclear fusion of lighter ones like hydrogen and helium at the cores of suns, in a process called stellar nucleosynthesis - more fun reading about that here; and

2. - because our ancestors crawled out of the sea...
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It's been a cold & grey Sunday, so what did I do? Well I went on one of my "adventures" anyway, to see something new, I walked a bit and even found an interesting museum that was open ("Meteorkratermuseum Steinheim")!  :happy

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You got a meteor crater near you, @Ulrich:cool

That reminded me of something - many years ago I was travelling through outback South Australia on the way home from Sydney, and spent some time hiking various trails coming up through the Flinders Ranges.  At the northern end of those is Wilpena Pound:

It's not a meteor crater, it's just impressive folding in the sedimentary rock.  I was there for a day and climbed Mt Ohlssen-Bagge.  I thought you'd enjoy some of the pictures and information in the two links below, to go with your noir remote South Australian detective novels!  ;)



I've always wanted to go back and perhaps one day we will.

Meanwhile, of course, we've got the Stirling Ranges right in our backyard:

...and I'm happy today because after a suffocating night, the cool change has come!  :)

...and as we get into autumn and cooler temperatures, we'll be able to return to hiking in the Stirlings.
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Quote from: SueC on March 22, 2021, 07:30:22You got a meteor crater near you, Ulrich?  :cool

Well actually there are two! (It is likely that the impacts happened at the same time, with a meteorite or asteroid coming down in 2 parts. Supposedly.)

The smaller one ("Steinheimer Becken") is about 40km away from me and the other is the more famous "Nördlinger Ries" (another 30km away from Steinheim).

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Walking from Lowlands to West Cape Howe Camping Hut and back today - 10km.

If you want to see them all, click on any and use the arrows (left is forward).
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Happy about the hike I went on yesterday (nice weather), complete with a view to the Alps:

And at the Danube:
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OMG @Ulrich!  That's the first time I've seen the Alps on the horizon like that since I saw them like that as a kid with my own eyes! :1f62e:

Nice photos!  Glad you had fun!  :)

And sorry I can't properly participate in this topic myself today - it's been raining 48 hours and everything is saturated and I'm gloomy.  Highlight of the day was harvesting the Josephine pear tree when the rain briefly lightened to drizzle and then washing and drying a lot of pears and peeling, slicing and stewing a huge cauldron of them to freeze in packets for later.  I didn't feel like listening to music and generally didn't enjoy anything today - sometimes there's days like that - but at least I got a few things done.  There's a name for this - "anhedonia" - I sometimes get a day like that!  They're best used for accounting, actually, since that's enough to make your day shitty anyway, so you may as well use an already shitty day with temporary anhedonia to do your accounts...  :P
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Quote from: SueC on April 12, 2021, 15:29:48They're best used for accounting, actually, since that's enough to make your day shitty anyway...  :P

Actually, last week I had to "fix" some accountancy stuff and did it today as well; as I managed the big step ahead that was needed, I am pretty happy with it! :happy
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Novaxx Djokovic got turfed out before the quarter-finals, bwahahahaha!  :D  By Daniel Evans, in their first-ever meeting.  After his entitled behaviour in Australia re compulsory SARS-CoV-2 quarantining, and his general brainless conspiracy theorising and partying during COVID-19 and then hopping on a plane with this virus when he inevitably contracted it even though he thinks it doesn't exist and that he can purify water with his thoughts (etc etc etc) this is very sweet.

Anytime an underdog wins is great, in my book - especially if they win against the Eternal Trio of Tennis.  But the smelly sock in this trio is definitely Djokovic - he's been incredibly annoying for a long time, not just since the pandemic.  Brett says the other two are boring beige socks.  I dunno.  They play tennis very well, but when it's this predictable it's like androids vs humans...

...also happy because yesterday the rain stopped long enough for me to remove the end of an offending horn that was growing into the face of one of our steers.  I've kept cattle 10 years and never had to do that before - freak thing.  I yarded them peacefully in the portable yard the neighbour had dropped off for us, with food and lots of acclimatisation time and no pressure and this guy walked himself into the crush without pressure when I put a food bucket in the front and left him to it.  Then I just had to close the tailgate and engage the headlock, and again let him settle with his food bucket before gradually getting him used to having his face touched.  When he was OK with that I popped the wire saw into the gap between horn and face and found the lowest effective point to cut it, and pretty quickly it was off.

It's those camping saws you can buy - just a thin cutting wire on two rings - and because I didn't want my fingers broken in case the >700kg animal moved its head, I clipped the rings into nice thick cotton lead ropes.  I was trying to avoid live tissue but as the local dairy farmer told me when I looked at calves last week, this isn't always possible and the main thing is to stop the horn from growing into the skull in a case like this.  So there was a little bit of bleeding but it stopped very quickly and the steer was relieved to have that end no longer digging into his face.  I flushed out the skin wound with chlorhexidine and then covered the crusty edges with good old Stockholm tar so the insects won't bother him, and he was actually rubbing his face on my hands when I did this, clearly glad that the pressure was gone and to have the irritated skin tended.  When I let him out he didn't go far from me.  I was going to keep the horn end to show others but the dog snaffled it!

Because of a headlock malfunction I didn't get to do the other steer yet - he's got a more superficial problem, so at least the worst case is done.  The headlock ended up turning into a trap I couldn't release when he wiggled a shoulder out of the gap  before I properly engaged the headlock.  Having worked with horse equipment all my life, I thought I could release the clamp under pressure if there was a problem - but it wouldn't let go, and the animal panicked, and we could not disengage the lock.  Eventually he wiggled himself out but I was cursing that the equipment turned into a trap.  It's so stressful for animal and handler.  The neighbour who loaned me the yard told me that most cattle headlocks don't allow you to release the lock under pressure.  Talk about bad design - this means you can't let panicking animals out in an emergency!

I'm extremely happy that steer got away without obvious injury and is still walking around (and still talking to me), and that nobody got badly hurt.  But I bet he's bruised where he wiggled through the headlock, and that doesn't make me happy.  I wish people made cattle headlocks with emergency releases.

Going to buy some cow cubes as a treat and feed the steers in the yard a couple of times before trying again and next time, the neighbour says he's coming out to run the headlock (is hugely experienced at this) so I don't have to worry about it happening again.
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