Experiment

I have decided to go for my PhD.

After exhaustive search of the literature, I have noted there is not a single case of a shark of any species ever having attacked a compass binnacle.

I shall therefore base my thesis on on the proposal that sharks are repelled by magnets. I hypothesise that the field of a reasonably strong magnet will disrupt the sensitive navigational function of their lateral lines.

I shall test this hypothesis by putting a couple of fridge magnets in the pockets of my swim shorts, and going swimming in heavily shark infested waters, which is what Australians call the sea.

This is an exciting project with serious implications for bather safety worldwide. I am eager to get started.

I have “I crossed the Nullarbor” and “buzzy bee” fridge magnets in my pockets,. I’m off for my first field test. In the words of Captain Oates, “I may be some time”.

Spot the Difference

I’m pleased I swam yesterday and managed another, early swim this morning. It will be Thursday before I can swim again, provided the wounds are not infected when I remove the dressings.

I was at the pool by seven this morning, and in the water by seven fifteen. I swam until nine, then went to shower. The lid of my shampoo bottle had broken. The shampoo had disgorged itself into my toilet bag. So I used it up as body wash. I should have no problems with dandruff anywhere, for a while.

As I washed I spotted on my right forearm what I thought must be a new mole. I was sure it wasn’t there a while ago. Since finding the lesion on my left arm, I am now more aware of my freckles and moles. Especially since the one I was having excised today had not been there only weeks before.

When I got to Woodford I drew the mole to Mehdi’s attention. He peered at it through his magic optical device, and said “I think you are right”.

“So. That was well spotted” said I with a straight face. Mehdi agreed. Also with a straight face.

That was how I came to have two excisions. One on each arm. Now we wait for the biopsy report.

Two huge chunks were cut out. It is necessary to get all the tissue for three millimeters around the spot, and to cut the length three times the width, so that when it heals, the scar doesn’t pucker up. Five stitches each. Ten total. My new personal best.

I’m glad it wasn’t on my tat.

Not there before.

Mehdi told me he had seen my knee x-rays. My condition is severe and he is referring me to a specialist. The journey has begun.

Having had only an eight hundred kJ breakfast, I was famished by the time I was driving home. I managed to drive past Beefy’s without giving in to temptation, but then the thought of a nice piece of crumbed barramundi popped into my head. I gave in to temptation and set my course.

Saviges did not have barramundi available so I ordered a piece of crumbed cod. And a serve of chips. What the hell.

The cod was delicious. A large fillet. Perfectly cooked.

Eric the bin chicken helped me out by eating some of the coating. He didn’t get much of the fish at first, though I shared some chips. Once he understood I wasn’t going to grab him and wring his neck, or spray him with the diluted vinegar spray put out on the tables by the proprietors for just such occasions, he became quite friendly, and cheerfully ate from my hand.

I was talking to him all the time, just making conversation, asking about his family and whether he preferred battered or crumbed fish, and whether he was in fact female.

Some of the patrons were giving me the disapproving looks of those who do not believe wildlife, especially ibis, should be fed human food. Some gave me the look reserved for people of alternate ability that they are embarrassed by. Others were smiling. Whether at me or the bird I know not and care not. They were smiling. With their eyes. My kind of people.

I have certainly changed. There was more fish than I needed and in the end my ibis friend got a bit. There was still a heap of chips left. He looked enquiringly at them. “I’ve had enough” I said. He looked hopeful. “and so have you”. He said he hadn’t. I told him I was taking the rest home home. He gave a resigned shrug and wandered off.

At home I divided the remaining chips into three portions, which I put in cold storage to have with other meals. Not bad for four dollars fifty worth of chips.

Riding in the Dark

This evening, to shake off a sudden mood, I took the bicycle for a ride. A better alternative to eating something. The headlight on the bike seems bright, but it is more for being seen than for seeing by. The paths on Bribie are shared.by cyclists and pedestrians. Only the bravest, hardiest cyclists use the roads by choice. Box drivers have little consideration for cyclists. Several times on the road I have not been given the right of way that is my due.

So it is particularly gratifying that Moreton Bay Council have provided such wide, well-made paths. Better still, they are not laid out in straight lines along the roadside, but meander in sweeping curves around trees through park-like reserves. Riding them at night with what seems suddenly a very dim light, is a whole new experience. I rode south along the beach front into an area I hadn’t visited before by bike. The path took me far away from the road and any streetlights. The cool breeze from the sea blew the dull thoughts away and eased the ache pulsing in the rear of my head, just behind the right ear. Bats, frogs and night birds squabbled and called from the trees.

After a while I had no idea where I was, but I didn’t mind. Though the panel LEDs were telling me the battery was down to half charge. I had not plugged it in when I returned from the pool. I had taken an extended ride then, too, up to the mall where I bought a cake and dropped in on the way back for the pool staff. I told them it was to celebrate my twenty first. Kilogram.

I also bought myself a tiny little single serve Christmas cake, some nougat and some Turkish Delight to put aside for December 25. Christmas Day will be a calorie amnesty.

But I digress. Back to pedalling. I knew if I followed the road I’d end up somewhere I recognised. So it proved. I’d travelled further than I thought, but i was now back on the route I travel every day. It was a pleasant diverting ride. I was home again before the panel LEDs dimmed any further.

I’m going to ride more often after dark.

The Facts About Bird Feeding.

Just the other day I was discussing this subject with my neighbour. He was horrified and concerned that I put food out for the birds. Never white bread, only small amounts of whole grain bread, mostly vegetable scraps such as lettuce leaves, carrot peel, tomato tops, and bean ends, and the occasional small scraps of meat and fat. Also, proprietary bird seed. Also corn cobs. I clean up anything not taken in a day.

I was really pleased to hear this podcast from the Australian Geographic Society, and to be validated by Australia’s expert on the subject. Even now, though millions of people feed wild birds in Australia, there is a lot of controversy on the subject.

Darryl Jones is a bird scientist who opened up the debate about bird feeding in Australia. He went from anti-bird-feeder to becoming a responsible voice for an activity a large number of Australians enjoy doing. He is also loves colourful Hawaiian shirts.

https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/darryl-jones-the-truth-about-bird-feeding/id1464668928?i=1000456529380

Visitors

TimTam Two, the bush turkey, drops by every day in hopes of a handout. I feed him browning outer leaves from the lettuce, carrot peel, and the seeds from capsicums. Occasionally some leftovers that hid too long in the fridge. He eats anything,

Yesterday I discovered a goanna, about one and a half metres long, lurking under the caravan. He was gone under the gap in the fence behind my place before I could even think of getting the camera. Here is a picture of another one, from another time.

The ibis don’t often come to my end of the camp. I suspect we “permanent” residents may be tidier than the transients. Or perhaps there is another reason. Whatever, I was surprised a few days ago by an ibis poking his head in my doorway – possibly drawn by the smell of fish, Cooked my favourite way (if it is the right kind of fish) in the electric wok. Ibis are not popular birds, and this one did not believe me when I gave him a friendly greeting and asked if he was feeling peckish. With a beak like that he should be, I thought. Perhaps he was offended that I called him “Osama Bin Chikin”. Or perhaps he panicked when he saw the caravan was occupied, and fled.

There are many birds here I don’t recognise. Some give me no chance to observe them before they are gone. The other day I watched what may have been a swift or Martin, darting about catching insects and carrying them off, presumably to feed their young.

Not sure who this little fellow is.

Very late last night I heard a rustling outside my window. I suspected it might be TimTam returned to forage for further scraps. When I peeked I saw a shape that was definitely not a bird. Far too big to be a rat. I suspected at first it was a wallaby. There are several species on the island. But it did not move as a wallaby would. I concluded it was a possum or koala. I kept very quiet and watched. I hoped it would move out into the light from the lamp post opposite my site so I could get a better view, but it somehow melted into the shadows and disappeared with a final rustle of dead leaves. Leaving me wondering, because next morning I found a lettuce leaf left by TimTam. I conclude it was not interested in that. So probably not a possum.

There are lots of lizards and skinks gadding about behind the van. My favourite is one I think is a water dragon. Another one too shy to sit for a portrait.

I hear at least two species of frog, one I recognise as the ubiquitous Green Tree Frog, I haven’t seen any of them yet.

My reptile book was stolen and the internet tells me there are 1597 species of wildlife on Bribie. I have a lot to look forward to.

I haven’t seen any snakes yet, but I’m told they should be making an appearance any time.

Observations

A change of routine today. Since I am up early I decided that now the weather is seriously hotting up, I’d go to the pool first thing in the morning from now on. I set off at 7:30 for an 8 o’clock start. It turns out to be the best time of day to go. The early lane swimmers have just left to start work. The youngsters haven’t arrived yet. I’m pretty much assured of a lane to myself. Best of all the water is cooler by a couple of degrees and very much clearer than it is towards the end of the day.

I had completed 90 minutes of my own peculiar stealth style of breast stroke and was out and showered well before the first droves of youth arrived.

I think the cooler water is better by far, this morning was really refreshing, but I heard people complaining that it “could be a bit warmer”. I’ve noticed this all over Australia. Despite their carefully promoted reputation as hardy rugged individuals, most Aussies are a bunch of wusses. They won’t swim if the water temperature drops below 24, some have an even higher minimum, and they can’t survive a warm day without air-con. Not that I haven’t been glad of air con, on occasion. I suspect I may be wishing for it myself, soon. It is really getting hot, and it’s only November.

There were police and a rapid response vehicle all over the place this morning. I don’t know what that was about, though no doubt it will come out. It wasn’t fire, at least.

Smoke is everywhere again. The winds must have shifted. The fires have shaken a lot of people’s complacency at last. They are suddenly the topic of conversation everywhere I go. An older couple were expounding on the value of steel or aluminium shutters today. Houses can be saved from destruction by using them. Most homes burn down because radiant heat from bushfires shatters the windows, allowing flying sparks to enter and ignite the furnishings. This should be a well known fact here in Australia, but apparently it is not. I have a shutter on the window facing the bush behind the caravan, but I doubt it will help much. The roof is plastic.

There is a new turkey staking out territory in the bush along the path I ride. That makes three that I pass each day, now. I must take them some food and try to make friends. Two new bird calls for me to try to identify, and I caught a brief glimpse of a kookaburra this morning. There are plenty around. I hear them, but don’t often see them. Ibis are poking around everywhere, earning their pejorative epithet “bin chicken”. I must be the only person around that likes them. Any bird that learns to exploit us as we exploit them is ok by me.

Smoke

For the last few days, smoke has filled the sky over Bribie and the air has been filled with the rather pleasant aroma of burning Australian native bush. The aromatic herbal and eucalypt smell belies the seriousness of the situation. People have died. Properties destroyed. Small furry, scaly and feathered creatures are suffering and dying. Yet we go about our lives as if nothing is happening.

I drove to the last meeting of the RRFPSG yesterday. The motorway into Brisbane was shrouded in so much smoke haze that at times visibility was considerably less than a kilometre ahead.

The moon was full last night. I sat outside in my directors chair and watched it westing in the early hours with a late-night gin and tonic. There was just a hint of colour that I believe was caused by smoke haze from the fires inland.

This morning, the sky here over Bribie appears clear, and the smell is abated, though the RFS map tells me there is still plenty of burning going on.

I should probably be more concerned than I am. My time in the Kimberley has left me unperturbed by fire. Crippled though I may be, I’m a trained firefighter and know what to do. I may not be physically capable any more of fighting a fire, but I know how to run away and where to go.