Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Technology in the Deep North

No I didn't suddenly die or run out of things to blog about and it isn't that I forgot to pay my internet bill either. It's just that information technology in North Queensland doesn't seem to have progressed into the 21st century yet.
We have had a lot of trouble with our internet connection cutting in and out and basically being unreliable, so when Telstra offered us ADSL2 with more gigs, more reliable and faster etc. etc. we decided to go for it.
Here is what they didn't tell us:- We are probably the first in our area to get this; they had not yet actually put in the "stuff" for it at the exchange or locally; there would be a long delay (weeks - well almost 2 weeks) between being disconnected from our old internet provider and being connected up to our new ADSL2. This Thursday we hope to be back on the air. For now I thought I would give a short explanation from my work computer (not on work time though, in case you are wondering).
If you read my profile you will know that I'm a Parish Worker. This kind of means that I'm employed by God and God pays me. The Church treasurer signs the cheque, but since she works for God too, it's all the same. The problem with working for God is that I've got to be pretty honest about what I do. [Like using the work computer - God's computer].
So you see, when I say that I'm not doing this on work time, it has to be true because I really, really don't want to shortchange my Boss.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The blog that had to be written

Do you remember this blog from Mummy McTavish? It was just crying out for a response of some kind. Note the picture accompanying this blog: that is Mummy Mc Tavish about 26 years ago. She is a bonny little thing, isn't she? She didn't always have a cockroach hanging out of her mouth. Not always, but she did at least once think one was worth a taste.
When Mummy McTavish and her sister Chimera were very little we lived in an old Queenslander house. It was a very old timber building and let the breezes and everything else in as old houses often do. One morning after Mr Sunshine had taken himself off to uni ( USA translation: varsity) I noticed a large dead cockroach flat on its back beside the kitchen stove. There was a cocky bait under the stove. I got the dustpan to pick it up (the cockroach, not the bait), but then it started wriggling its legs like crazy and I got nervous. Previous bad experiences with creepy bugs had taught me to expect them to revive suddenly and either scamper up a broom handle or fly with pinpoint accuracy and great speed at a target between my eyes. So, I am ashamed to admit my first act of cowardice was to leave it there and give it time to die undisturbed. That was my first act of cowardice, but it gets worse.
At some point baby Mummy McTavish woke up and after whatever we did in the mornings back then she crawled her way into the kitchen. I didn't follow her because I was doing something in the living room and the house was child safe, at least it was usually child safe, but not this day.
Next instant there was a very prolonged, startled scream from the kitchen. I rushed in to see baby Mummy McTavish sitting beside the stove with only the back legs of this humongous cockroach sticking out of her mouth and IT WAS STILL WRIGGLING. Mother love kicked in and I rushed forward to rescue my baby, pull the disgusting creature from her mouth and comfort her. Actually no. I rushed forward, realised that there was no way that I could touch that thing with my bare hand and ran off to get a tissue. That was my second act of cowardice. I did get the tissue and even then it took all the mother love I could muster to get that disgusting creature out of her mouth.
Of course Mummy McTavish was far too young to remember this experience. Sadly, I can never forget it.
Yes, Mummy McTavish, you are right. Mothers do know too much to be let loose in blogland.
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Thursday, November 13, 2008

As I put pen to paper. . . . (& other clichés)

Have you ever thought about the future of all of the old terms and clichés that applied to the hand-written word such as "pen to paper", "poison pen", "penpal", "put down my pen", "the pen is mightier than the sword" and you can probably think of others? I was never very fond of clichés and yet I miss them a little when it comes to the world of the computer and the web. Even though we tried not to use them and often groaned at the use others made of them, they were somehow woven into the fabric of our writing culture.

Language is a dynamic evolving thing. New words as well as new meanings for old words are being added to our dictionaries every year, especially in the I.T. section. "Web" for instance is an old word with a new meaning. What doesn't seem to have caught up are the idioms and clichés.

What can we say in the place of "pen to paper" that will still sound a bit catchy and maybe even raise a groan from our readers? The field is wide open and I would love some suggestions for new clichés in relation to what we write with our keyboards. Till next time I put down my keyboard. . .

Monday, November 10, 2008

An early armistice for Uncle Thomas

Thomas was my Dad's uncle, but he was about 60 years older than Dad and died long before Dad was born. This was because my Grandad was about 40 years older than my Grandmother and Uncle Thomas was Grandad's older brother.
Thomas was a Tasmanian miner who enlisted at the age of about 45. Many teenage boys lied about their age so that they would be accepted for enlistment. Thomas lied about his age too, but it appears that he knocked a few years off in order to be accepted. Still he passed the medical examination and in February 1916 he became an enlisted man. He was sent overseas in September of the same year.
He was initially in the Australian 5th Company Tunnellers, but in January 1917 he was in the 2nd Company Tunnellers. Perhaps so many of their comrades had been killed or injured by then that they were forced to amalgamate. I don't know and I haven't been able to find out. Tunnellers were soldiers who were mostly miners before joining up and they had the incredibly difficult and dangerous job of tunnelling under the German trenches. In one documented case involving Thomas's company, the German line was only about 70-80 yards away from the allies, but because of having to skirt the boggy coastal terrain (in Belgium) and the need for security, the tunnels were in fact 160 yards and 230 yards in length. They were 15-20 feet underground and only inches above the water table - more than a little claustrophobic.
In mid 1917, the tunnellers got their first sniff of a gas that smelt like new-mixed mustard in these tunnels when the Germans used gas shells to attack their positions. Because the British Air force were under instructions not to reveal their strength they could not go to the aid of the the allies under attack. The German planes took control of the area, the tunnels were broken into and the tunnellers attacked with flame throwers. Some brave soldiers who were strong swimmers crossed the Yser River and using a rope helped about 80 men to cross the river to relative safety. These were all that escaped death and capture of 2 battalions.
Thomas was one of the lucky ones that time. But his luck did not hold out and in February 1918 he suffered another gas attack and was sent to a field hospital and then evacuated out to hospital in England and then home to Tasmania. His records claim that his ailment was chronic rheumatism and that it was a pre-existing illness before he enlisted. He died only a few weeks after setting foot back in Tasmania on 7 November, 1918 - just 4 days before the armistice was signed. Maybe rheumatism can do that to you.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Mr. Sunshine

I thought it would be fair to say something about my other half. As is customary, he requires a pen name for the sake of blog anonymity. This was going to be a problem. The only name that he has ever been known by to my knowledge is his own - except for a very brief time to a very select and special group of people. To them he was Mr. Sunshine.
Let me explain. Mr Sunshine is a teacher. He trained and for many years taught mathematics and science in secondary schools. At one stage he taught in a small local Christian school which had preschool to year 12 classes. Occasionally he would invite the infant classes into the big kids' laboratory to have a real science lesson. They loved it and he loved it, but he couldn't remember all their names because he didn't see them often enough. So if he saw one the littlies in the playground he would say, "Hello Sunshine". They all thought that he remembered them well because he always used the same pet name for them. He also used it for every other child, but that didn't seem to matter. At some point one little bright spark turned the tables and said, "Hello Mr. Sunshine" and it stuck. After that he was Mr Sunshine to the kids in the infant classes.
That same year as fate would have it, KMart introduced the coffee mug that you can see in the photo. It appeared first in a catalogue, but we never seemed to find it on the shelves. It was Mummy McTavish who finally tracked one down, although this happened long before she was a mummy or a McTavish. Considering Mr Sunshine's capacity for coffee drinking and his special nick name it was the most appropriate of gifts for him.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Why Grannysaurus?

One of my sons-in-law got caught out listing my number in his mobile phone as "Dragon Lady". One of my grandsons goes by the nom de plume of Dragon McTavish. I have occasionally been called Grandma Dragon. That didn't seem to have the right flair for a blog name so I did some dragon research. Everybody's favourite lizard in Australia is the little dragon lizard known as a "Frilly" or Frilled neck lizard. He belongs in the genus Chlamydosaurus. As anyone who has read about Dinosaurs knows, saurus simply means lizard, but our Frilly-saurus is a dragon lizard. So I liked the sound of it and the connection to my favourite dragon - the Frilly - and adopted "saurus" in the place of "dragon" and became Grannysaurus.
A bit of convoluted reasoning, I know. But convoluted reasoning is one of my talents.
The photo is Grannysaurus and Dragon McTavish.

You can follow the adventures of the clan McTavish here
You can learn more about the Frilly here

Granny's tunes

Mr. Sunshine & Grannysaurus

Mr. Sunshine & Grannysaurus


About Me

My photo
Townsville, Queensland, Australia
I have worked as a Biology lab assistant, Pathology lab assistant, geochem lab assistant, land tenure researcher, hospital and prison chaplain, parish care coordinator and part owner of a small business. I have studied some science (no degrees) and have a theology and a chaplaincy certificate. I still love science of all types and enjoy studying theology. Science and theology belong together. At present I am a work-at-home Grannysaurus.

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