Lest We Forget

Today is ANZAC Day. I didn’t get up early to go to the dawn service or catch the bus to see the parade in Hobart but the above are some photos that I took of the 2015 march.

I don’t think of the march as a celebration of war so much as a day that we remember the fallen.

Years ago when I used to go Dawn Service and to see the march in Adelaide regularly I used to enjoy seeing the pleasure the veterans got out of seeing old friends that maybe they didn’t see very often and their determination to go the distance even though they were old and maybe disabled.

It was once felt that the ANZAC tradition would die once the men and women who served in the world wars were gone but instead it seems to have become bigger. Of course,  we’re never going to run out of conflicts to lose soldiers in.

I just hope that young people are commemorating the day for the right reasons. Many young Australians like to visit Turkey and spend ANZAC Day at Gallipoli but it was not meant to be about rock concerts and selfies. It’s a time to be solemn, reflect and do our best to make sure that no more young men have to die in a war.

Dark clouds looming over the Cenotaph in Hobart.
Don’t we have a lot of euphemisms for War?

Moments with Dogs

Most of our Op Shop volunteers make a big fuss when customers bring babies into the shop. I guess I am not very maternal. I prefer dogs.

A few customers bring dogs and tie them up outside the shop while they browse. Sometimes we’re asked for a bowl of water for them which we are happy to supply. If it is not too warm, other customers leave their dogs in their cars with the windows open. I don’t really like this but those people don’t usually stay long. Very occasionally a customer might bring their dog inside and carry it around with them.

This week I met two dogs at the shop. One was a twelve-year-old German Shepherd whose owner had come in to find a couple of old blankets for her. Twelve is a good age for a German Shepherd so when she commented on how much her dog loved soft toys I found one for her to give it. The lady let her dog out of the car to stretch her legs and say hello to me, it was near the end of the day and I was taking things back inside the shop. She seemed to love the toy and carried it around in her mouth. I don’t know if this dog understood that the toy came from me but she came up and gave me a lick. I know a lot of people are frightened of German Shepherds but the ones I have met have all been lovely dogs.

Owczarek cezar
An elderly German Shepherd similar to the one I saw. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Owczarek_cezar.jpg

My second dog moment left me feeling quite angry. Some people had come in and were browsing while their dog, which was tied up outside near the water container, was barking and crying. The people were in the shop for a long time and it sounded to me as if the dog was getting quite distressed. One of the owners went out to check on it once but when he came back inside the dog started crying again.

I guess I am sensitive to this because Cindy gets anxious when I am away from her. I went outside to have a look at the dog and discovered it was a puppy, not a tiny puppy but only a few months old. It was at that clumsy big-footed stage. I let it sniff my hand and talked to it for a bit before thinking I had better get back to work. The owners were still shopping, they did not seem to be in much of a hurry. I went out again, my feet were hurting and I needed a rest so I thought I’d sit on the bench outside and keep the pup company for a few minutes. He cried and tried to come to me but the leash was not long enough to allow that so I went and stood beside him and patted him and told him it would be OK.

I was still out there talking to the pup when the owners came back. I was really annoyed with them by now and I said that the pup was too young to understand them being gone for so long. They said “He’s got to learn.” and “It’s better to ignore him when he cries.” I thought “Yes, but not for that long.” they must have been gone at least half an hour. So I said “I bet you wouldn’t leave a baby crying for that long.” and the woman said that she probably would.

I went back inside because there was no point in saying anything else to them but I was angry about it for the rest of the day.

The Three AM Rant: Flour Sifters and Fitted Sheets

You know you are getting old when things that you took for granted as part of your daily life start being ignored or forgotten. It is a bit like going into a museum and seeing things you have and use at home being displayed as curiosities.

Flour Sifters

One of the Facebook sites that come up in my feed sometimes has photos of everyday items and asks readers to share if they know what it is? Often I wonder why they are even asking.

Take flour sifters. I use a flour sifter, my mum used one, my grandma used a sieve which is more or less the same thing but not as convenient.

At the Op Shop, I was told that “people don’t use them now.” Funny because whenever we have one for sale it goes pretty quickly. I’m puzzled though about why people don’t use them. Everyone is so into cooking these days. I mean people want to make elaborate and fancy looking meals like the ones they see on Master Chef but they don’t take the time to sift flour? That doesn’t make sense. If I bake, I sift.

My old flour sifter is still in use.

In fact, it seems that flour sifters are still being made and sold. I even found a comparison of the best ones on the market. So I don’t know who decided that they were old hat.

http://www.foodsharkmarfa.com/best-flour-sifters/

https://www.thekitchn.com/is-sifting-flour-for-baked-goods-really-necessary-213894

Fitted sheets

A lot of people who come to our Op Shop looking for bed linen tell me that they don’t want flat sheets, only the fitted ones. It seems that a lot of people don’t use a top sheet anymore just the doona. You can even buy sheet sets that are just a fitted sheet and doona cover.

Well personally I don’t care for the idea but even if I did, that’s no reason to consign flat sheets to the rubbish bin.

Fitted sheets are great, don’t get me wrong. I use them myself but with a flat sheet as a top cover. I like to be tucked in.

When you buy a fitted sheet you have to make sure you have the right wall size. If you have one of those pillow top mattresses a 30cm sidewall won’t stretch over it. I’ve had 40cm ones that I struggled to fit on our king-sized bed. There were a couple of pairs of sheets we had that I could stretch over the bed by being patient but David could never do it and would just throw them on the floor and use some mismatched sheet. I like things to match so that always irritated me. I used to put those sheets at the bottom of the stack of linen in the cupboard if I was going away so that he would not need to use them. Not only that, fitted sheets are a pain in the neck to fold up neatly. I’ve read numerous tips on how to do it and I can do it but spending ten minutes folding a sheet does not rate highly on my enjoyment of life scale.

It’s hard to fold fitted sheets neatly.

You can actually use flat sheets as bottom sheets. You just have to tuck them in. I had to remind a younger friend of this not long ago when she didn’t have spare fitted sheets. What do you suppose people did before fitted sheets were invented? By the way, they were invented in 1959 but I don’t recall seeing one before the 1970s.

If you buy a sheet set with a flat sheet included and you are one of those doonas only people you have actually bought two changes of bed linen. Had you thought of that?

Did people actually forget you can do that or doesn’t anyone know how to make a hospital corner?

Here are some comments about the debate.

https://www.realsimple.com/home-organizing/bedding-debate-top-sheet

https://www.inverse.com/article/42949-top-sheets-millennials-bedding-duvet-cover.

Time to wash the sheets.

I personally would rather wash a top sheet every week than struggle replacing a doona cover. I do wash that too of course but less often than the top sheet. The Millenial argument seems to be that washing top sheets makes extra work. They should have been around when grandma had to wash everything in the copper and have it hung on the line to dry before breakfast.

Have to go, it’s time to hang my sheets and doona cover on the line.

The doona cover on the line.

 

 

Dumbed Down

I would not say I was an exceptionally well-educated person. I left school voluntarily at age fifteen. I wasn’t happy at school and I wanted to go to work and earn money so that I could save up to travel.

However, I did leave school being able to read well, write a letter or story with good spelling and reasonably correct grammar, do maths problems and with some understanding of historical events and current affairs.

I know that even in back in the sixties and seventies when I was going to school there were kids who struggled to achieve that. Classes were bigger and teachers didn’t have the time to spend with every kid so the very bright and very slow to learn sometimes missed out. However, when  I look around these days it seems to me that many young people are still struggling with basic literacy and maths and I wonder why.

I am not sure if things that we were expected to learn when I was at school are still taught.  When I was in Primary School we learned the basics. Every day we spent a couple of hours on spelling, dictation, and arithmetic, this was in the days before “New Maths”.  We spent a lot of time on English learning grammar, Reading Comprehension and writing compositions. We also had class novels which we read either out loud or to ourselves and were expected to answer questions about. There was “Reading Laboratory” which was a big box full of cards with a story to read and a set of questions to answer. They were colour coded for difficulty and I was proud to get right to the top colour every year that I did them.

An Australian children’s classic.

In maths or arithmetic, as we still called it, we learned addition and subtraction, multiplication and long division. We had to master fractions decimals and learn about angles in geometry. We were supposed to “show the working out” on our page and we were not allowed to use calculators in tests. Actually, when I was in primary school there were no calculators. We did those sums where you calculated the cost of several items and even worked out the percentage of the total to subtract as a discount.  In Mental Arithmetic the teacher asked you a question and you had to quickly write the answer while doing the working out in your head.

My old primary school in the early 1960s http://www.elizgrps.sa.edu.au/about/
My old primary school in the early 1960s
http://www.elizgrps.sa.edu.au/about/

We had Social Studies which for Primary School students seemed to be a mixture of history, geography and current affairs. We learned a lot about things like stump jump ploughs, irrigation, gold mining, explorers, sheep and which states produced what products. Of course, we also learned a bit about Kings and Queens of England and even the Romans invading Britain. I am sure they don’t teach that to nine-year-olds any more.

In High School, we learned History and Geography, Algebra and how to use a slide rule. Don’t ask me, I’ve forgotten. We read novels and plays and our teachers were dismayed if any student did not know enough grammar to write properly.

As I never had children or grandchildren I really don’t know what they teach them now but I’m disturbed that young people in stores can’t make change without consulting the electronic cash register. When I was studying at TAFE a decade ago the younger people in the class had great difficulty in spelling and even more in writing a business letter. They just didn’t seem to have the vocabulary for it or know how to construct a sentence, possibly because they don’t write full words or full sentences in text messages. As for history, I’m sure that it is not taught which is a shame because I think you can learn a lot about the present from what happened in the past.

Another planter in the Geeveston Primary School Garden.

I’ll admit that I think that some things are better now. Classes are smaller, most of my classes right through school were 35 to 40 kids, sometimes more. Schools have better facilities, air conditioning and heating for instance and better equipment. Corporal punishment is a thing of the past. Honestly, I don’t think that hitting a child with a ruler will make them learn their tables faster. There were some really mean, sadistic teachers around in the sixties, I think for some Teacher’s College was where you went if you didn’t get into University. Some I met certainly did not like kids. On the other hand, I don’t think teachers get the respect that they once did from children or parents.

If so many young adults today can’t read, write, spell or do basic arithmetic how will the next generation cope? Although we have lots of technology we should not rely on that completely. If it all breaks down we need to be able to manage without it. I especially feel concerned that some young people are so unaware of historical events.  There is so much fantasy on social media that without knowledge of the facts there will be no way for them to know what is real and what isn’t anymore.

 

 

 

Look At Me: When Selfie’s Kill

This evening I was watching the news, an unusual event for me, and there was a story about people who have been killed taking selfies at beauty spots. It seems to be becoming a serious problem as more and more travellers seek the perfect photo for their social media feed.

Taking photos at Gardens on the Bay.

I have written about this before. I have complained about the bad manners of these people who are so self-absorbed that they don’t care if they get in the way of other people and spoil their view. I understand people wanting to get a photo to share with family and friends but it has gone way past that. Now people want extreme photos and they are taking unacceptable risks to get them. There have been more than 200 deaths involving people taking selfies between 2014-2018. I don’t see that number going down.

They climb guard rails and teeter on the edge of cliffs just for the sake of a stupid photo which may end up being the last one ever taken of them. Don’t they understand that barriers are there for a reason?

It seems that these days the photo opportunity is more important than the actual experience of being in a special place. Do these people really appreciate what they are seeing? Do they even look?

Selfies on the sampan

I recall years ago visiting Uluru (Ayers Rock) in central Australia. At sunrise and sunset, the rock appears to change colour so people would all go to photograph it. Now I imagine that the line of photographers probably all stand with their backs to the beautiful sight so they can photograph themselves “watching” the event. Most of them probably miss it but at least they have a nice photo to Instagram.

Uluru taken on holiday around the early-mid 1980s. I have cleaned the picture up a bit as there were a few dust spots but the colours are what I saw.

Another disturbing trend involving social media is the increasing number of people performing stunts for social media channels who are killed or injured when they go wrong.

Does using a smartphone make people stupid?

 

Related Items:

https://www.timesnownews.com/international/article/indian-student-dies-falls-off-cliff-ireland-selfies-cliffs-of-moher-county-clare-doolin-ireland-selfie-death-news-cliffs-of-moher-deaths-images/342478

https://www.timesnownews.com/mirror-now/society/article/selfie-death-student-slips-into-waterfall-in-odisha/339626

https://www.fastcompany.com/90287323/people-are-falling-off-buildings-in-search-of-the-perfect-instagram-shot

https://www.afr.com/lifestyle/the-social-media-stunts-that-went-fatally-wrong-20181205-h18qy7

Reading and Listening

Up until this past year I’ve been an “old school” reader preferring books to electronic forms of reading. A lot of people I know have been switching to downloading their books or listening to audiobooks instead.

I have a lot of books and I don’t necessarily want to get rid of them but I decided that some type of device would be useful for travelling. When I regularly travelled to Hobart and to Oatlands I usually had a “bus book” with me. However, I didn’t want to carry a huge pile of books when we went cruising so I bought a Kindle. Initially, I’d tried reading on a tablet but the Kindle is better as the screen is easier to read even outdoors.

I discovered that a lot of books are very cheap, some even free. A lot of those are a bit lightweight but sometimes when I’m tired I just want to read something and I don’t need it to be too deep. However, sometimes I find one I really like for just a couple of dollars, a bit like finding a hidden gem in a secondhand bookshop. I do have a wish list of books I’d like to read and some of those cost more but over time I’ll get them unless I find them in the Op Shop first of course.

More recently I decided to give audio books a try. I started off with Paul Theroux’s “Deep South”. I had mixed feelings about that. I had wanted to read the book for a long time but I didn’t like the reader’s voice that much.  I will get the rest of his travel books either in Kindle or regular book form. Then I bought “Fahrenheit 451”. I read that book in high school so I thought I’d enjoy it but I didn’t like that reader’s voice either and kept falling asleep listening to it.

Once I realised that voices mattered I decided to be more careful about selecting books. My next choice was “A Christmas Carol” read by Patrick Stewart. A favourite story of mine read by someone who has a really great speaking voice.

I bought a dramatisation of “The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy” read by some of the actors from the original radio series. I watched the TV version of this some years ago so that sounded quite familiar.

H2G2 UK front cover.jpg
Fair use, Link

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Book Cover.jpg
By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, Link

 

 

 

I also like Stephen Fry’s speaking voice so I am currently listening to him reading the Harry Potter books. I always meant to read them and have never quite got around to it until now. Having just got to the end of the first one I can quite understand why children loved them so much. In contrast, my current Kindle book is “The Last Librarian” by Brandt Legg.

I won’t stop reading “real” books but trying something different has helped me to branch out and read more books more often than I have for some time.

Vegetable Vengeance

onion and garlic on white surface
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In my last food-related post I mentioned I wrote about how cabbage smells bad when boiled for too long. I was doing a bit of reading about it before writing that post and found an article that said that cabbage is one of a family of plants that defends itself. Cabbage contains sulfur compounds that are released in the cooking process. The longer you cook it the worse the smell. Another member of this family is the onion. Onions are mean, they make me cry.

This is a description of what happens when you peel onions.

Amino acid sulfoxides form sulfenic acids as you slice into an onion. These enzymes which were isolated are now free to mix with the sulfenic acids to produce ​propanethial S-oxide, a volatile sulfur compound gas which wafts upward and into your eyes. This gas reacts with the water in your tears to form sulfuric acid. The sulfuric acid burns, stimulating your eyes to release more tears to wash the irritant away.

https://www.thoughtco.com/why-do-onions-make-you-cry-604309

All I know is that I find it extremely difficult to peel onions as my eyes get sore and watery. It was a kitchen chore I would always pass off to David who didn’t seem to be affected by it.

There are supposedly a few cures for it. Someone told me that eating dry bread would help. Well, I enjoyed the bread but I still cried.

Wearing safety goggles over my glasses had not occurred to me. I am not sure I’d do that if I had them I’d probably just forget until it was too late. I’ve also read that rubbing your hands on a stainless steel odour absorber can help.

Somehow I feel passing the onion chopping job to someone else is still a better idea. Or possibly just buying frozen onions. As it is I keep a box of tissues handy when I have to do this job.