Interesting Times

I had a chat with the security guard at Aldi today. He looked bored.

I’d never even seen a guard there before. He was happy to talk, and quick to point out he was glad of the work. His main task is to count the customers and enforce the limit of 150 within the shop at any time. The limit was imposed by Them. Not sure who They are.

There have been no knife fights over toilet paper, mainly because Aldi doesn’t have any.

More and more shelves have growing empty spaces.

Quite a lot of shoppers wore masks. Mostly older folk, but a significant proportion were young. All the young ones were female.

In all the time I’ve shopped at Aldi I don’t recall seeing anyone ring up as much as a hundred dollars of groceries. A hundred dollars bought a lot at Aldi. Today I saw three people ring up over two hundred dollars worth in the space of fifteen minutes. All I went in for originally was some sparkling mineral water, fresh parsley (none available) a leek and some mustard, for a seafood pie I’m planning. I gave in to the temptation to hoard and bought a KitKat and a box of four lemon cheesecake-flavoured ice creams, Aldi knock off versions of the Magnum. Sweet.

Listening to the conversations around the shop and at the checkout. More and more people are becoming worried, and some are angry, because they say they don’t see what all the fuss is about.

Back to camp. My neighbours tell me they are going stir crazy. I remind them they are not confined, but they say they have nowhere to go, and feel they are.

I felt like giving them an ice cream each. But No! They’re mine!

We live in Interesting Times. It is the curse.

The Times, They Are A Changin’

Bribie Island Caravan Park is closed to people wishing to camp or who want to rent a cabin. Only we permanent residents remain. The pool, kitchen, tennis court and common room are closed, as are half the ablution blocks. Visitors are discouraged. Social distancing is encouraged. It has been suggested we have a “social period” now and then in which we sit outside our own homes and talk to our neighbours.

The doctors at my practice are now doing consultations by phone in all cases when the patient does not need to be physically present. My next consultation, to discuss my last pathology lab test results, will not require me to make the usual two hour round trip.

Federal Police are confining international travellers in motel rooms and standing guard. The first person has been jailed for breaching self-quarantine requirements three times in less than a week.

Body bags have been delivered to remote communities in anticipation of an outbreak there, which, if it happened, is expected to be far more devastating than among the general population. Some see it as sinister that resources for body bags are more easily found than for sending free supplies of soap and sanitising chemicals and cleaning equipment.

Unemployment has spiked since so many businesses must close.

The cost of food has spiralled out of control. Especially in the outback. Drought, fire and flood have no doubt contributed to this.

Grey nomads have been requested to forego travelling to remote areas. Their response so far has been selfish, along the lines of “But we want to visit the Argyll diamond mine before it closes down”.

The public pools are closed. Hotels, clubs and restaurants, also. Only takeaway fast foods are open. Gatherings of more than two non-family members are forbidden.

Sales of duct tape have skyrocketed as shops and banks and pharmacies mark out queuing areas and 1.5 metre spaces with lines and crosses.

More and more old people are appearing in public wearing masks. No one makes a fuss as they did over niqabs and hijabs. Yet these folk terrorise supermarket checkout staff in a manner unprecedented over matters completely beyond their control.

Goanna still drops by…

Positive Outlook

My visit to the Doctor’s surgery this morning was like getting through American immigration. There’s a checkpoint Charlie with a screening procedure to get through before one even gets into the waiting room. I got all the silly questions, but not the retinal scan.

The apocalypse is upon us. Must watch The Road and Mad Max again for survival tips.

On my return to camp I found I had an email from management detailing the steps they too were taking in response to COVID. It mostly affects only new visitors, except that I and the 13 other permanent elderly residents who do not have our own en-suite facilities now have our ablution block to ourselves, with an entry code different from the others around the rest of the camp.

I’m not sure who that is expected to save.

But I digress.

When I finally got through to see Doctor Mehdi, I cheerfully commented that the apocalypse is upon us. His response: “And governments are being stupid as usual”.

Then he gave me some positive news. My results of the last biopsies were positive. More chopping to be done. My frigate bird is going to lose more wing just as Mehdi predicted. Then he chopped out the latest two on my shoulder. He is “very worried” about one of them in particular. Going on his 100% record of diagnosis so far, I’m positive I should be worried too. I’ll get the results when I go back next week to have my wing clipped. Considering these latest melanomas and the carcinoma have all developed in the last three months, I’m switching to positively high alert.

Readers, friends, and in particular, family, should take my advice and get a skin check.

I’m positive. It’s a good idea.

Toilet Rolls

Where have all the toilet rolls gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the toilet rolls gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the toilet rolls gone?
Hoarders bought them every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

I’ve had a colostomy!” said the angry man at the checkout.

“Then you don’t need to wipe your bum!” said the old woman clutching the last pack of toilet tissue.

There’s still plenty of baby wipes.” said I.

There was a stunned silence. Then everyone abandoned the checkout queue and rushed down the aisle.

People.

When I’m Not Eating the Body Parts of Little Lambs…

I swear that corn is genetically modified.

It was so sweet I should have it with custard for dessert.

You are looking at $1.99 (AUD) worth of asparagus from Mexico. What a world we live in.

Rain

I’m living on the second largest sand island in the world. As far as I can tell, the only thing stopping it from washing back into the sea is a dense matrix of vegetation roots. I was thinking about this at 04:00 this morning, as I sat and watched the most spectacular show of lightning I’ve seen since I left the Kimberley.

I think that may have been the heaviest rainfall since I moved here. Now that I’m going nautical again I’ve started taking an interest in the weather, so I have subscribed to a few apps that keep me up to date with wind rain and tides. Watching the rain on radar, it was pleasing to see it was heading southwest to where it will no doubt be welcome in the Burning Lands.

The storm reminded me of the rain that fell while I was camped at Inskip Point, which resulted in the flood that damaged the caravan undercarriage. Also causing a huge sinkhole. This time, fortunately it hasn’t lasted as long and did not result in a flood.

I went through the archives to see exactly when that was, and could not find it. For months I did not write in my blog. Everything was posted on Facebook. Now lost.

What kind of journal keeper forgets to keep his journal – and worse – deletes all his notes?

How cool is modern technology? When I gained my navigation certificate, GPS tech was a closely guarded military secret. Now, not just a GPS, but my phone and my iPad can tell me where I am and can carry the tide tables and Marine Charts of all the world. When I had a set of charts for New Zealand alone they filled a cabinet. Now a full set of charts covering Australia and New Zealand occupy an imaginary space in a piece of plastic and rare earth metals smaller than my little fingernail.

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 2

Bushfires are still raging in Australia, particularly along the east coast of New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland. The leader of the rural fire service told media that this could be “the most dangerous bushfire week this nation has ever seen,” and the NSW premier has declared a state of emergency.
At least six million people in the region were facing extreme bushfire weather—strong winds, low humidity, high temperatures—as the week began. Fire agencies warned of “catastrophic” fire danger in the Greater Sydney and Greater Hunter regions and in Illawarra/Shoalhaven. “Extreme” fire danger was forecast for the North Coast, Southern Ranges, Central Ranges, New England, Northern Slopes, and North Western. Weather forecasters predicted that not a drop of rain was likely to fall on mainland Australia on November 11.
Approximately 600 schools in Sydney and other cities and towns were closed due to the fire threat. At least three people have died and 150 homes have been destroyed, according to Australian media.


On November 9, 2019, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite(VIIRS) on the NOAA-NASA Suomi NPP satellite got a nighttime view of the fires raging in Queensland and New South Wales. The image was acquired with the VIIRS “day-night band,” which detects light in a range of wavelengths from green to near-infrared and uses filtering techniques to observe signals such as city lights, auroras, and wildfires. The natural-color image below was acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite on November 11, 2019. Strong westerly winds fanned the flames and carried smoke several hundred kilometers out to sea.


In late August, the Australian Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC predicted that the 2019–20 fire season had the potential to be quite active due to warm and dry across much of the nation. According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), October 2019 rainfall was below to very much below average across most of Australia, continuing a long-term drought in the region.
“Rainfall deficiencies have affected most of the New South Wales, Queensland, and South Australian parts of the Murray–Darling Basin since the start of 2017,” BOM reported. “The deficiencies have been most extreme in the northern Murray–Darling Basin, especially in the northern half of New South Wales and adjacent southern Queensland, where areas of lowest-on-record rainfall extend across large parts of northeastern New South Wales…The 34 months from January 2017 to October 2019 have been the driest on record…for the state of New South Wales (35 percent below average).”
NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, using VIIRS day-night band data from the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership and MODIS data from NASA EOSDIS/LANCE and GIBS/Worldview. Story by Mike Carlowicz.

November 11, 2019JPEG