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Feb 2010

Another Country Incident

This morning I was just getting ready to lay the vinyl on the Library floor, I finished the painting yesterday, when I noticed that the sheep had escaped into the paddock next door. I tried to herd them back into our paddock but they refused to go through the gate.

I called on Mark to get a bucket of pellets which he had offered me as a herding tool. He was just about to come and visit us so we went back together and eventually got all the sheep back in our paddock.

I found a couple of places where the wire netting in the dividing fence was not quite down to the ground so I put in some tent pegs and some sticks to try and stop them from escaping that way again.

When I got back indoors I was very very hot so I put the evaporative cooling fan on but noticed that it needed water. When I filled it I failed to stop the water before it got over the full mark so the kitchen floor got really wet. Cleaning that up caused another bout of very very hot body.

I had planned to get the vinyl down before lunch so that we could move the furniture back in this afternoon. That plan has had to be shelved.

Next week if full of meetings and appointments so it might take some time to finish the set up of the Library.

Posted: 28/2/10 12:43 PM

More Sheep Escapes

As we were just about to sit down to dinner this evening, Jean looked out of the kitchen window and saw two of the sheep with their heads under the fence eating the grass of the back lawn. She called me to do something about it and when I got out five of the sheep had used the gap in the fence to escape into the back lawn.

Mark had planned to put some timber on the wire netting to stop that happening but his injury has delayed that. I should have done something else to secure the wire netting but I didn't realise that the sheep could find a way under the wire because I had added an extra wire to the fence which I thought would keep them from getting through.

We rounded the sheep up as they were heading for the street and got them back in the paddock. I then got a barrow load of firewood and weighted the wire netting down. I hope that this works. The sheep seemed to be examining the fence to see if they could get through but they finally gave up so the fix might work.

We had been worried that the sheep didn't like drinking from the bath tub with the black liner but today we saw them drinking from the black bath tub and eating the grass round it so the advice that we had been given "that the sheep would get used to it" seemed to have come to pass.

I hope all has settled down and I won't have to do my cowboy thing again.

Posted: 26/2/10 8:17 PM

A New Source of a Skeptics Doubt

I bought a New Zealand magazine called Uncensored this morning. Its motto is "Conspiracy Theory or Conspiracy Fact". Their sole aim is "to stimulate rational debate and discussion of the important issues of our time."

There are very few notes on the authors of the articles. Virtually all of the references are URLs. I take this to show that the magazine is intended to allow people to air their personal beliefs without any need for "evidence", the writers seem want to use single un-peer reviewed quotation to support their contentions.

This seems to me to support my view of the world in the 21st century; that the truth no longer important, beliefs are the centre of peoples world view and most people do not attempt to justify their beliefs by "seeking the evidence".

My assessment of the content is that most of it is "conspiracy theory" or "denialist argument". Several article claim that H1N1 vaccines are being purposely contaminated with viruses so that those who are vaccinated will be infected with some other viral disease and the "Swine Flu" epidemic will continue.

I of course will not become a subscriber to this magazine but I might be able to use this issue to demonstrate the lack of rationality in some modern so called rational discourse.

Posted: 25/2/10 5:01 PM

Another country adventure

Early this morning the doorbell rang and Debbie, one of our neighbours, told us that the sheep from our back paddock were out in the street. As I got dressed so that I could go and do something about it, Debbie and young fellow were herding the sheep back into our garden.

When we had them back in the paddock and we turned our backs on them, they climbed through the gate again so we had to herd them back into the paddock.

I realised that I would have to do something to secure the gate. The sheep had found that they could get their heads between the wires and move them to get enough room to get through. Mark had left some wire netting when he had secured the fence the other day so I cut off a length and attached it to the gate. I had to do a lot of tying on to make sure that the sheep would not be able to get around the new defences. Finally all was back in order.

When we were coming home from shopping I stopped at Mark's place to report what had happened. I spoke to Cathy who told me that Mark had damaged a muscle in his leg and was not up and about. I told Cathy what had happened. She offered to fix things up for us but I told her that everything was OK.

Posted: 24/2/10 6:06 PM

More beasts in the back paddock

Recently Jean heard that one of our neighbours needed to ajist his sheep because his back paddock has little feed left in it. We offered our back paddock because Debbie has moved her little calves back to their home paddock.

Today Mark and Cathy brought the sheep round and we put them in the paddock. As we turned our backs on them three of the six had climbed under the fence to get at the lush grass on the un-mowed part of the back lawn. I strung another length of wire on the fence to keep them from escaping and Mark brought a length of wire netting which we attached to the fence as an added precaution. Mark also brought a little bathtub which we put in the paddock. I found lots of motorhomer hose which I strung together to provide a water supply for the tub.

The sheep seem happy to have a big paddock with lots of green stuff to graze on. Its nice to have some animals to look out on from the kitchen window.

Posted: 21/2/10 1:16 PM

We survived another blackout

This afternoon while I was mowing the back lawn, Jean came out and said that the power had gone off.

I finished the mowing and then set up the generator with some new gear I had bought after the last blackout. This time I was able to keep the water pump and the fridge as well as the TV, radio and fans in the living room all powered up.

Sarah had rung Country Energy and they had reported that the blackout was caused by a failure in the high voltage grid and that many towns including Bingara as well as Barraba were affected.

I assume that the outage will last a long time so I will have to keep an eye on the generator fuel tank. I tried to fill the fuel can to ensure that we could go on as long as possible but the servo was "closed - no power"! Oh that was so obvious I should have worked it out before I went to the servo.

Sadly the generator spat the dummy after a few hours and I wasn't able to get it back up. I think it was overheating. I will have to investigate the problem.

Happily the power came back on during the evening so we had TV and fans before going to bed and we had fans and the CPAP machine when we were in bed.

Posted: 20/2/10 4:51 PM
Revised: 21/2/10 6:24 AM

The Ongoing Renovations

I have to get the Library walls painted before I can put the new vinyl floor covering down. We had to move all the furniture and all the stuff out of the room before I could start the painting and vinyl laying.

Because the walls were painted green, I decided to apply a coat of white before doing the top coat in the same colour as the other rooms in the house. The hardware store didn't have any of the low sheen paint I wanted in stock so I had to use satin finish paint for the undercoat. Three quarters of the way round (36 sqm) I ran out of paint even though the manufacturer's advice said that 4 litre can I had bought would do 56 sqm. I bought another 2 litres and used most of that to finish the undercoat. My world view "that you shouldn't trust anything you read without supporting evidence" was once again supported by experience.

Unfortunately the paint I had ordered has not yet been delivered in so I might have to go to Tamworth to get what I need to finish the job quickly.

It would be good to get the job finished soon because all the stuff from inside the room is either in the carport, on the front porch, or in the dining room which is almost inaccessible.

Posted: 19/2/10 2:53 PM

More wildlife in the garden

Last September I wrote about a chook that was living in our garden. It has since gone to parts unknown.

Apart from the birds that live in the trees in the garden and the regular visits from other birds, we do occasionally get visits from other wildlife.

I recently caught sight of a rabbit in the back paddock. It more recently was sighted browsing on the long grass in the back lawn. My guess is that it lives down by the river and was roaming to find better food.

Posted: 15/2/10 5:37 PM

More on the Public Discourse

Two pieces appeared in the opinion section of the weekend paper that aroused my interest because they seemed to share a common theme.

One piece was about the controversy over the science behind the IPCC reports. The other was a piece about a forthcoming atheists convention in Melbourne. The common theme is that deniers do not have to prove their contention but they can accuse the other party of not proving their case.

Climate Change deniers generally quote a single instance of contrary evidence to "prove" that the science is wrong.

The religious right claim that atheists (including Richard Dawkins) can't disprove the existence of God while the Skeptics among us don't believe that religious can prove the existence of God.

One of the debates I have on Climate Change results in one of the other debaters saying that my belief in Climate Change is just a personal belief. He doesn't seem to understand that this assessment, if applied to his own belief, would show that it his disproof of my position also disproves his position.

I accept that we do not necessarily have enough evidence in favour of the "correctness" of the IPPC reports to give rise to "proof". But putting what evidence we do have against the evidence against offered by the deniers seems to me to be heavily weighted in favour of "correctness". I do put a considerable effort into seeking better evidence.

Clearly both these cases show that much of the public discourse is grossly lacking in intellectual rigour. People generally seem to have a view that what they believe is true and if what others believe is different it is not true. The need to "seek the evidence" (the motto of the Australian Skeptics) seems to be missing in most public discourse. Most commentators seem to fail to understand the difference between the ethos of science which requires all propositions (either theories or experimental results) to be confirmed by a others and not disproved by others and the faith based proposition that "What I believe is right" without the need for supporting evidence.

Posted: 14/2/10 10:55 AM
Revised: 15/2/10 1:23 PM

My Latest Invention

I have been given a link to a website about UNSW's work on water supplies Groundwater-surface-water-connectivity. It is very interesting and prompts many question.

The first was a reference to the Great Artesian Basin as being a great source of water. In my nomad days I learned that the Great Artesian Basin is suffering from many years of over consumption and there are signs that the basin is a smaller resource than it used to be. One of the things I learned was that the recharge takes about a million years. That puts the Great Artesian Basin in the class of non-renewable resources if we continue to extract more than the recharge.

Another question the site raised was a statement that ground water is of very high quality. Our experience in Barraba shows that this is not a universal truth. Our bore water is really bad.

There is a reference to the sea being a great source of fresh water with the rider that this would use too much energy and mitigate against carbon GHG emission reduction. My invention is a solar powered still for desalinating sea water. While this would have a significant capital cost, it would give us fresh water with very little ongoing cost and would be possible to locate in all sorts of coastal places including those without a local energy supply. There would need to be a means of delivering the water to the consumers and this would have an energy cost but this is a component of the present desalination plants which consume enormous amounts of energy in the desalination process.

I am interested in the work UNSW is doing and will try to keep abreast of all the results of their work.

Posted: 12/2/10 7:26 AM

Another Demonstration of things that are broken in our Society

Politicians and others are demanding the resignation of Peter Garrett, the Minister for the Environment, because bad things, deaths of installers, have happened during the installation of insulation in houses under contracts which are subject to government rebates.

Those people are implying that the Minister had total control over all aspects of the work. The fact that the businesses carrying out the work are totally responsible for the outcomes of their work seems to escape the attention of those people.

It seems to me that there is an implication that as the government in providing a rebate against the cost of the work, it becomes the party in contract with the installers. The reality is that the home owners are the party in contract with the installers. The suggestion that the home owners are responsible for the bad events would obviously not fly.

I am waiting for the Minister for Transport to be accused of being responsible for the deaths of all those involved in motor vehicle accidents. Perhaps they think he should resign every time there is a motor vehicle accident leading to a fatality.

It is obvious to an old engineer like me that the people running the businesses which are having these outcomes are responsible. If it could be shown that the individual installer created the circumstances that led to his death, that would let the employer off the hook.

It is also obvious to me that the problems have arisen from defects in the electrical wiring of the houses and this could only be traced back to the wiring installer. The absence of earth leakage safety cutouts in house wiring is really the cause of these deaths. This absence is common, my house included, but that is not a problem created by the Minister for the Environment, maybe one of his colleagues is could make this problem go away.

This episode is a classic demonstration that in today's world, responsibility no longer arises from peoples actions, but rather it is arbitrarily allocated as someone else wants it to be without reference to reality.

Posted: 11/2/10 4:54 PM

The Library is ready for painting and the new floor covering.

Recently I have put a lot of effort into get the Library (used to be Office & Sewing Room) ready for the new vinyl flooring which was delivered last Friday. I had to sort out lots of stuff which had been stored in there. Some of it went into the new shed and some went back into the house.

Today I got to a point when I needed some physical help and my son-in-law came and helped me with the heavy lifting for which I was most grateful. We cleared the room of everything, putting some furniture in the carport and some other stuff on the front porch and in the Dining Room.

All I need to do now is get the walls painted and then lay the vinyl. Then we will have to move the furniture back and move the books and bookcases from the Dining Room. I will have to sort out all the books but that should be easy as there is a great deal of shelf space. The sewing gear will also be move into the Library so the Dining Room will become much less choked up with stuff.

Posted: 10/2/10 4:27 PM

My experience with Apple software is much less good than it used to be.

I need to scan all the 35mm slides I took in my time in England.

I have not been able to find a slide scanner with MacOS compatibility. We bought a scanner which has a Windows driver believing that we could install a partition with Windows on the MacBook so that I could install the Windows driver and scan the slides.

I was advised to use BootCamp to enable me to install Windows. I had considerable trouble getting BootCamp to install as I now run MacOS10.6.2 and I had to download a new version of BootCamp. When I did this I was amazed to see that the download was a .exe file rather than an Apple app. Every time I tried to get BootCamp Assistant to run I got an error messages that said "You must update your system software before using this setup assistant". I don't understand this as I regularly use Software Update to keep my system current and running Software Update again did not provide any system updates.

I tried to run the downloaded version of BootCamp (the .exe file) but it cause CrossOver (a program designed to run Windows apps in MacOS on intel machines) to take over without success. I guess I will have to seek help from others who have had the problem I and having with BootCamp. I am irritated that Apple offers the means to run Windows apps on intel based Mac computers but the software they provide spits the dummy and the error messages are incomprehensible.

I have been using MacOS since 1984 and have only had problems like this in the last couple of years. I know lots of products and processes have problems like this now but I believe that the companies and organisations which create these problems are not focussing on proper product or process specification and Quality Assurance. I know this sounds like I think the world is "going to hell in a basket" but that's because I do!

The Global Financial Crisis was a real demonstration of systems which are "broken" and the failure of most world governments to recognise that Climate Change and Peak Oil are looming problems that will cause massive economic problems if we continue "Business as Usual" is a very scary prospect.

Posted: 7/2/10 12:23 PM

More Culture in Barraba

Last night we went to the Playhouse Theatre for a live performance by a three man American group called Sound and Fury. Their piece was Private Dick which is a comedy about private detectives and their work.

The audience was so large that Andrew Sharp had to put an extra row of seats at the front of the theatre. Everyone enjoyed the performance and the cast were impressed with the enthusiastic response from the audience,

I did my usual thing of publicly thanking the cast for their contribution to our culture\al experiences and congratulating Andrew on his efforts to further the towns cultural development.

Posted: 6/2/10 8:10 AM

Eco-camping Australia is changing its registered proprietorship

I had a phone call from my partner in Eco-camping Australia. He recently paid the registration renewal fee. His accountant remarked that I was listed as the sole proprietor.

This was because I registered the business name when we were first establishing the organisation and the local Fair Trading Office used my name and address.

I visited the local Fair Trading Office in Tamworth today and they have given me forms to change the registration details.

Posted: 4/2/10 11:24 AM

News of the Barraba River Landcare Group

We had our first meeting of the year last night and were told that the application for the grant from the Namoi Catchment Management Group had fallen through because we could not get all the information required before the deadline.

The meeting agreed that we should continue our efforts to return the river to its pristine state by fixing up the problems of weeds and invasive species. In order to give ourselves other avenues for obtaining grants, we need to detach ourselves from the Tamworth Manilla Landcare Group and incorporate our group. This will require some funds so we agreed to raise an annual membership fee of $20 per family. It was proposed that we run a market stall to raise funds from the community.

I raised a couple of issues and was asked to take on the work needed to pursue these. One is a study of the techniques used by the Quirindi Landcare Group to achieve their great river clean-up. The other was to seek scientific evidence that the proposed project is the best way of dealing with the problems in the river. I will be happy to pursue these and hope to make significant contributions to the work of the group.

Yesterday I managed to finish the mowing of the back lawn which had grown about a foot high as a result of the Xmas rains. I was impressed this morning to see that the birds were really happy to be able to feed on the mowed lawn and I saw Kitty, the next door neighbour cat, happy the have somewhere nice to prowl.

Posted: 3/2/10 6:32 AM

I need to revise my approach to this site

I have been trying to rectify some problems with my iPhoto library and have had to use the information in the earlier version of this site to confirm information about times, dates, and places of events.

This use of the earlier entries made me realised that my present technique of simply writing essays when prompted by external information leaves the site lacking in any concept of the history of our lives.

From today I will try and return to the diary style I used to adopt.

Posted: 2/2/10 7:33 AM


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