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Jun 2011

Another New Task

Today I joined the Frost Over Barraba set up team.

There were a few from earlier teams and a few of us first timers.

Sarah and Mark had spent time before today working on this.

Mark and I spent several hours today sorting and identifying the photographs submitted to the Art Exhibition. There were many entries and we had to identify them all and mark them with their catalogue numbers before we piled them on the floor beneath the appropriate hanging space. In the afternoon, Mark and I assisted the guys from the earlier team to finish the setup of the display panels.

Tomorrow we will have to go again after we have finished our school breakfast club job to assist in the hanging task and to add to our learning of all the processes needed to run the exhibition so that we can be part of the new team which will do next years Frost Over Barraba.

We are keen to ensure that next years Frost Over Barraba is still an annual event because it is one or the most important events which attracts visitors to Barraba.

Posted: 28/06/11 8:11 PM

More Skepticism

I was reading an article from one of my subscription magazines, Issues, which was titled "The Science of Why We Don't Believe Science". It was written by Chris Mooney, Contributing Editor to Science Progress, and Senior Correspondence to The American Prospect.

The first quote was from the celebrated Stanford University psychologist Leon Festinger. "A man with a conviction is a hard man to change". This was in the 1950s and Festinger was describing famous case study in psychology. Festinger and some of his colleagues infiltrated the Seekers, a small Chicago-area cult whose members thought they were communicating with aliens. Their leader, Dorothy Martin, a Dianetics devotee had reported a message from the aliens which gave the precise date of an Earth-rending cataclysm: 21 December 1954. Some of her followers quit their jobs and sold their properties, expecting to be rescued by a flying saucer when the continent split asunder and a new sea swallowed much of the United States. Festinger and his team were with the cult when the prophecy failed. At first the group struggled for an explanation. A new message arrived from the aliens, announcing that they'd all been spared at the last minute. The cult believed this and tried to sell their thinking to all the rest of the world.

Since Festinger's day, an array of new discoveries in psychology and neuroscience has further demonstrated how our pre-existing beliefs, far more than a few facts, can skew our thoughts and even colour what we consider our most dispassionate and logical conclusions.

The article goes on to discuss a number of issues where some people don't accept the truth because they believe in other things.

This article resonated in my mind because I have lots of experience of people who reject the truth because of their pre-existing beliefs. I worry that the psychologists tend to suggest that this is common in human beings. I think of it as just a bad feature of our culture which doesn't rely on the truth in favour of personal desires.

I do have an optimistic view that homo sapiens will solve this problem in the future because in our history we have often overcome problems like this.

Posted: 26/06/11 11:56 AM

A Mass Media Irritation

I have become very irritated by the TV. Even the ABC is including a free advertisement for Free TV. SBS is of course required to use advertising to achieve a suitable revenue because the right wing government of Australia many years ago stopped funding this wonderful public broadcasting station.

These days the TV advertisements cause much irritation because the same ads are usually repeated several times in every programme. The idea that we need to be exposed to the same irritating words many times encourages me to think that the advertising industry is very unsmart. I guess they try to convince their customers that such repetition is very productive.

I don't have any idea how many people react the way I do which is to mute the TV using the remote controlled whenever an add is repeated.

As I have said before, I believe that the mass media are not concerned with the truth, only with what they believe promotes their business. Telling lies probably does have this effect on some people who are not concerned with the truth, just with what supports their beliefs.

If people make money out of telling lies, this has a very detrimental effect on our culture.

Posted: 25/06/11 10:58 AM

A Better Day

Today was almost filled with volunteer work.

The first job was the Junior Red Cross breakfast club at the Central School Primary Canteen. My colleague the President of the Barraba Branch of the Australian Red Cross and I organise a toast, milk and fruit juice feed for a significant number of the students at the Primary school. The school pays for the bread and milk and we supply the other stuff, butter, jam, vegemite, golden syrup and fruit juice. We look after the toasters and the pouring of the drinks and we are helped by boys and girls who are members of the Junior Red Cross. They butter the toast and add whatever spread the students ask for. We do this job nearly every Wednesday and Friday during the school terms. We ran a Street Stall last Saturday to provide plenty of plenty of funds for the purchase of our supplies.

The other job today was to amend my draft minutes of the last Community Development Committee meeting according to suggestions from the Chairperson, the Secretary, and the Publicity Officer each of whom listened carefully to all the discussion at the meeting. Their suggestions were good at correcting minor errors in what I had prepared from my notes.

After these jobs were complete I worked at trying to get help from Optus because my new modem which worked has well for a few weeks had failed. I found that my failure to pay the charges soon enough had resulted in my account being suppressed. I have been working at correcting this but the failure of the software provided in the modem as not yet been cured. I will work at getting technical support from Optus to see if I can overcome this.

Late in the afternoon I was able to take a break from work and have some easy time.

Posted: 22/06/11 8:24 PM

A Sad Day

The people raising money in Barraba for the purchase of new bus for the Day Centre had organised an amazing event in Barraba today. The event was at the aerodrome and was an air show with an aerobatics display by the Australian Aerobatics Champion from Action Aerobatics in Maitland.

We went and met many people we know in Barraba and talked to several visitors to Barraba, some of whom had flown in in their own aircraft.

While we were sitting waiting for the display, we saw a stranger who was wearing a balaclava helmet jump into one of the aerobatic display planes. He started the engine and drove the plane around in many circles before heading off to the airstrip. He took off, stopped climbing, tried to land, did it badly, and finished up nose first into the airstrip. The police wagon, the ambulance and the rescue truck drove down to the end of the airstrip. It took a long time for them to get the guy out of the plane. The crash on the airstrip cause a dramatic stop to the use of the airstrip by other planes.

the photo of  air crash

Later in the afternoon, after we had left the aerodrome and gone to Sarah's house, we saw several aircraft taking off and we assumed that they were going home because the aerobatic display had been cancelled.

Later we drove round the back of the aerodrome to look at and photograph the crashed aircraft which was still where it had landed.

The news today reported that the guy was the pilot of the aircraft, not a stranger. That makes the story much more sad because he was a great aerobatic pilot and had a really bad accident at our air show and he may have lost his aircraft due to the very bad damage.

Posted: 19/6/11 3:30 PM
Revised: 20/06/11 12:13 PM

Another Hard Day

Today the Red Cross Branch was running a Street Stall for the Junior Red Cross. I spent all the morning there helping the other members and the juniors who were manning the stall.

During the morning I got a phone call from home telling me that the sheep had escaped from our back paddock into our next door neighbours garden.

I told Mark the owner of the sheep and he said go and get them out of her garden and take them back to their home paddock.

I drove home planning to take them back to their own home paddock but when I got back home the sheep had come back through the hole in the fence that they had made to get back into our paddock. I put some stakes over the hole to stop them from escaping again and I went to the hardware store to buy some strong wire netting to reinforce the fence some time later to make sure that they couldn't escape again.

After lunch our next door neighbour knocked on our back door to tell me that the sheep had got into her garden but she had urged them back into our paddock. I apologised to her and told her that I had bought the wire netting to secure the fence and I would get out soon to fit it.

When I went to do the job I got out some ewe and lamb pellets to encourage the sheep back into the other side of our paddock so that I wouldn't have Rambo butting me again like he had done last time I had secured the fence elsewhere.

I fitted the new wire netting and went back indoors to rest after a pretty hard time thinking that I had solved the problem.

I hope that they won't find another place to escape through which would require me to buy some more wire netting and do another hard job.

Posted: 18/6/11 2:59 PM

A Wonderful Day in Tamworth

I had to go to Tamworth today to have my scalp treatment checked by my Dermatologist. I have been putting a very active cream on my scalp to try and remove a large number of keratoses.

The Dermatologist was most impressed with the result of the treatment. He asked me to continue the treatment for just nine more days and then see him in October when he can check that I have no more problems on my scalp. He told me that because of the large number of lesions, using liquid nitrogen to burn them off would have been very dangerous.

After the visit to his surgery, we went into town and had some very good morning coffee at the Sleepy Monkey cafe. We did some shopping in Peel St and then I had to go to the Telstra shop because my mobile phone had stopped working. I was referred to a tech who fixed it by removing and replacing the battery. He told me that the problem was common around the country and that the cure was very reliable. Later in the day the phone stopped working again so I removed and replaced the battery and it came back on again.

We did some more shopping in Shopping World and had a wonderful lunch at Coffee Break. Then I drove to South Tamworth to get the Terios cleaned in my favourite car wash. We also found there a shop with an ink cartridge for Sarah's Canon printer even though the other places we tried to get it at all had no stock and one of them told us that Canon had said that they had no stock at the moment.

We then went to Coles and did the usual grocery shopping which we all do in Tamworth to stock up on items which we can't buy in Barraba.

After all this we drove back to Barraba in a beautiful sunny afternoon after a beautiful sunny day in Tamworth.

Posted: 16/6/11 5:20 PM

New Volunteer Jobs

Tonight we had a meeting to discuss how the community could take over the organisation of the Frost Over Barraba Art Festival. The The people from St Lawrence's Anglican Church have decided that although they have been running it for 37 years, they no longer have the wherewithal to do it.

The guy who has started a new organisation in Barraba called Barraba Community Incorporated which is has a single primary purpose; to promote Barraba to visitors; offered to make the effort to set up an organisation to run Frost Over Barraba. He suggested that each community organisation in Barraba should offer some people to work on the project because Frost Over Barraba is a very highly regarded event in Barraba and has always attracted lots of visitors to Barraba.

The lady who has run Frost Over Barraba for the last nine years was impressed with the offer and asked us to volunteer to help the set up of this years Art Festival so that we could learn what needs to be done. I, of course, agreed to do that because I am a member of Barraba Community Incorporated and she was happy with that.

Posted: 14/6/11 9:31 PM

A Family Gathering

Because my son, Alain, was visiting us in Barraba, I had arranged a family dinner at the Playhouse so that we could celebrate the family gathering of eight people.

The dinner was, as usual, really nice and we enjoyed drinking Banrock Station White Shiraz which is our favourite wine.

Everyone enjoyed themselves and I was happy to have organised it.

I offered some wine to some visitors to Barraba who were staying in the Playhouse and chatted with them a bit. They were really happy to be back in Barraba again.

Posted: 12/6/11 8:57 PM

Another Barraba Artisans' & Farmers' Markets

Today we had another market in Barraba. It was another very successful market and impressed nearly all the locals and visitors who came to it.

My job, now called Meet & Greet Officer, requires me to try and talk to all the visitors to Barraba who come to the market.

I talked today to many people (about eighteen). I asked them all where they came from and if they were impressed with the market.

I also told them all about the fine features of Barraba including The Playhouse, our cultural centre which holds live music concerts several times every year, and lots of other such things, The Shed of Knowledge, a wonderful display of many decades of artefact from Barraba, the tour of which is presented by my mentor, Ron Hiscock, who describes everything in his collection and creates a very deep understanding of Barraba and its history.

I also talked about regular events like Frost Over Barraba, an art competition held in early July every year the Barraba International Festival held in early November every year, and the Town and District Christmas Tree held on Christmas Eve every year, which has been going on for many decades and which is now run by the Barraba Lions Club.

I also talked about some interesting things in the CBD including all the cafes, The Clay Pan, the home of the Barraba Potters and Crafts Guild, the Nandewar Historic Society Museum, and The Fine Fibres Studio, a shop which sells wool and other fibre products and which provides good advice to people who are interested in these crafts. The shop gets lots of visits from people from other towns all round New South Wales because its reputation is spread all around the state by people who have visited it and talked about it to their family and friends.

Posted: 11/6/11 2:59 PM

A Wonderful Visit to Armidale

Yesterday afternoon I drove to Armidale in just over two hours to go to "Community Forum to Support Renewable Energy". It was a great meeting organised by "100% Renewable Energy, New England" and "Sustainable Living Armidale". . Three of the speakers were from these organisations and they had invited five professional speakers including Tony Windsor, our local Federal MP

The journey was quite long but I did arrive in time for the forum. I found many local people had come to the forum and then I found that several professional people had come from elsewhere to the forum to make presentations about the need for increases in renewable energy to make progress with combating climate change.

I was very impressed by the organisation that had organised the forum because they obviously had many volunteers and they were smart in what they were organising.

The professional presentations were all very impressive and satisfied my desires. The last presentation was by a year twelve student. He impressed me by raising the issue of climate change having very bad effects on future generations if it wasn't controlled by good carbon dioxide footprint reduction, A view that I share with him.

I spoke to the lady from "100% Renewable Energy, New England" who had chaired the forum. She was most pleased that I had come from Barraba which is so far away. I asked her if her organisation had a renewable energy policy apart from the most commonly one discussed, the generation of electricity by badly polluting processes with great carbon dioxide footprints. She told me that her organisation was also worried by the large carbon dioxide footprint of the transport facilities including trains, busses, and trucks and motor cars. I was most impressed by this answer.

I had to leave Armidale before the end of the gathering so that I could get back to Barraba before too late at night. I didn't have any other opportunities to discuss issues with other people which was a bit of a shame.

Posted: 9/6/11 8:04 PM

Another Important Day

I have been asked by Getup to attend a "Community Forum to Support Renewable Energy with Tony Windsor" in Armidale this evening. Tony Windsor is our Federal Member of Parliament and is the chairperson of the Federal Parliament Multi-Party Committee on Climate Change (MPCCC) so it will be a good forum to attend.

I was a bit worried about the long drive to Armidale and back. I checked the road maps and found that all the shortest routes were on unsealed country roads which could well be threatened in the evening and the night by native animals much more than the highways which are all sealed and are mostly fenced.

Having decided that I should go to such a meeting, I decided to go on the highways down to Tamworth and up to Armidale, a journey of about 200km (125 miles). I will have to leave Barraba in the afternoon and won't get back until late in the evening. Staying overnight in Armidale would be an unreasonable extra expense.

I expect that the meeting will be very interesting and I expect to be able to present my views on the issues. I will report on the event tomorrow.

Posted: 8/6/11 10:32 AM

I have been horrified

Yesterday I read a New Scientist article about digital currency. Today I saw a report that Sarah Palin's fans were changing the Wikipedia piece about Paul Revere to change it from the original history to Sarah Palin's version. There was another story about an arab woman who was treated by an Israeli plastic surgeon after having been burned by her family because they thought she was misbehaving. After her medical treatment was successful she was found to be trying to cross the border into Israel with a suicide bomb belt and said that she was planning to go to the clinic which had treated her and detonate the bomb so that her family would forgive her.

The story about information on Wikipedia seems to me to support my view of the 20th century. Truth has become very unimportant in some areas including some areas of social control.

The story about the suicide bomber illustrates some of the most immoral cultural issues which have become very significant in in the 21st century.

The story about digital currency worried me because the generation of new currency which is not controlled by the proper authorities but is supported by significant commercial entities like Google as well as people who are active in the new digital society might lead to another Global Financial Crisis.

Of course I haven't got evidence of the truth of these stories so I might be wrong about all these things.

Posted: 7/6/11 8:19 AM

A Wonderful new activity

I had seen an advert for a special meeting of the local chapter of the First Fleet Fellowship. I am a first fleet descendant so I got in touch with the President of the chapter an was invited to the lunch which would celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the establishment of the chapter. She said that it would be good to meet the present members of the chapter. I was happy to accept the invitation with a view to determining whether I would like to join the Fellowship.

Before the meeting I prepared a printout of the descendants of my first fleet antecedents to show how I fitted in as a First Fleeter.

Today I drove to Tamworth to do a bit of shopping and to find my missing Akubra which had been missing since our last trip to Tamworth before the chapter meeting at the Wests Diggers Club. I was greeted happily and was able to talk with some of the present members and sit down to lunch with some of them.

During the presentations there was a gap so I got up and introduced myself as a first fleeter from Barraba. I asked them all to put their hands up if they were descended from my first fleet antecedents, George Johnston and Esther Abrahams and only one person indicated that he was my cousin as we shared the same great, great, great, grandparents. At the end of the meeting I offered him my printout and he was grateful to accept it.

I had explained to those I talked to that I had been told by my Great Aunts who had looked after me and my brother and sister after my mother's death the we were descended from George and Esther so I knew that I was a first fleeter. I didn't do any investigations into this until I was middle aged when I spent many weekends at the Mitchell Library in Sydney researching through the First Fleet records and the records of the births deaths and marriages of my antecedents which allowed me to get many birth and death certificates which allowed me to generate a family tree on some software I bought to help me. I originally put this family tree on my website but I later realised that it put information in the hands of people who wanted to steal other people's identities so I eventually took it off the website with an explanation for the removal.

This event was the first time I had thought it would be worthwhile to join any FIrst Fleet organisation.

The meeting had presentations from the head of the NSW First fleet Fellowship and from a historian from University of New England. Both of them suggested that we should do research into all the descendants of the First Fleet immigrants including their places of residence and their contribution to the development of the colony into the present nation. One of the illustrations used was that my George Johnston had contributed to the development of farming in and around Sydney. I knew that he had been recognised as the major contributor to the food supply of the people in the colony so I was happy to hear this.

I came away with three projects to pursue so that i could become a contributing member of the chapter. One project was to complete my family tree of all the descendants of George and Esther. The second project was to try and discover the residence and contribution of all these people. The third project was to review the all information in the First Fleet Memorial at Wallabadah which had been commissioned by the chapter and which had been referred to on my website after a visit by us in our motor home because I had seen and reported some erroneous information there. The Chapter President was pleased with my offer of the third project.

At the end of the meeting I spoke to whole assembly again to tell them that I was most impressed by my visit to the chapter meeting and was very happy to offer to join. They were all pleased with what I said.

When I join the chapter I will have to go to Tamworth on the first Saturday of every second month which will not be a problem as I will obviously make friends with some new people, get some good information from other members, and will be appreciated for the research carry out.

Posted: 4/6/11 9:16 PM

A Busy Day

Today was a pretty busy day for me because I had several tasks for the Red Cross Branch.

The first task was to work on the Central School Primary Junior Red Cross Breakfast Club. Both Mark and I work on this twice a week. We get considerable help from Junior Red Cross members in the school. Even so Mark and I have to work full time for about an hour and a half. We are always satisfied because the helpers are pleased with what they are doing and the children who consume the stuff we provide are pretty happy with what we provide. Usually we do toast with vegemite or jam or golden syrup and we supply fruit juice or milk for them to drink with their toast. Today we did pancakes and pikelets instead of toast and Mark did warm milo made from powdered milk, raw sugar and milo mixed with warm water. Nearly all the children were happy to drink milo instead of fruit juice or cold milk.

My second task was preparing for the General Meeting by finishing the minutes of the last meeting, preparing the agenda for today's meeting, completing the correspondence register, and print all the stuff I needed to hand out.

The third task was to do the Secretary's job at the General Meeting. They were pretty happy with the agenda and the minutes. I was asked if I could help the Junior Red cross craft training project but I said that I don't have any craft experience so I couldn't participate. I did say that some time in the future I might be able to do kite making training but I said that I need to find a suitable kiteflying site in Barraba before I could do that.

My fourth task was to document the issues raised at the meeting and prepare for my communication with Australian Red Cross Offices to get some help and some good information.

Finally I was able to rest a bit to get over all the stress I had been under during the day.

Posted: 3/6/11 9:07 PM

What I was asked to do

I am a member of some worldwide conservation groups and also a group that lobbies for improvements in our society.

Get Up asked me to join a petition to the Federal Government to ban live cattle exports because of a piece on the ABC program Four Corners about cruelty to our cattle in some Indonesian abattoirs. I did sign the petition and they have have notified me that 100,000 Australians have joined the campaign.

I also joined a campaign to inform the Federal government MPs and Ministers that I supported the carbon pricing policy because I believe that we (all people in the world) must make effective efforts to reduce the CO2 emission to reduce the chance of a climate catastrophe which could harm the planet, and our ecosystem, and might make the planet uninhabitable to our great great grand children.

Posted: 2/6/11 7:34 AM

Winter is coming

The autumn weather has included some nice days but we have had a lot of cold days with frosty mornings as though it was winter already.

I do love most of the weather in Barraba, especially when the sky is blue and the sun is shining. This isn't only in the summer because we do have some wonderful days in autumn, winter, and spring.

I am amazed that the sheep, the Ram and the male lamb, are surviving pretty well and seem to be mostly happy in our big back paddock even when it is foggy, frosty, or raining, but specially when it is sunny.

Posted: 1/6/11 3:35 PM



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