Bushfire

Smoke from nearby fires discolours the sky earlier this week.

You may have seen my post from earlier in the week about the bushfires burning around the state. They are all still burning and today, Friday is going to be very dangerous weather, hot, windy and the chance of lightning strikes. The main danger in such weather is embers being carried ahead of the main fires and starting new ones. The fire service says that in these conditions homes may not be defendable.

Naturally, I’ve been a bit distracted by all this and can’t really concentrate on writing. This morning I will probably be taking the pets and relocating to friends in Hobart for a day or so. If I am not able to update you I will ask Naomi to post something so you all know I am OK.

http://www.fire.tas.gov.au/Show?pageId=colGMapBushfires

There’s No Smoke Without Fire

There are a lot of bushfires around Tasmania at present. It’s been dry and vegetation fires are common in summer.

Last week we had a huge thunderstorm and many fires were started by lightning strikes. Many are in remote areas of forest and firefighters both local and visiting ones from interstate and from New Zealand have been doing their best to control them.

Over the last couple of days it’s been hot and windy and two fires, in particular, have become more serious, one of them is in an area called Tahune which a forest area and is 30 kilometres or so from Geeveston. We have been getting a lot of smoke and today ash falling over the town.

This afternoon some friends who live up the Arve Road which leads to the Tahune Airwalk decided to leave, mainly because the air quality is so bad. This is how the sky looked at my place at around 4pm. I took this from inside.

I’ve been living here for 16 years now and I can say that without a doubt these are the worst conditions that I have seen around here.

Hot weather is forecast for most of this week so I don’t see this improving soon.

I am fine. My house is on the Hobart side of town, it’s just unpleasant and a bit scary.

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.

Ebenezer Scrooge is Alive and Well

No, I’m not talking about people who are mean with money. I’m talking about the “Bah, Humbug” attitude that seems to be so common these days.

Naomi and I have both noticed this in our daily lives, more and more people complaining about Christmas.

Now don’t get me wrong. I know that it is a difficult time for many people, they might not be religious (we aren’t either), they might be alone, ill or have no money. There are plenty of reasons to dread the time of year when it seems like everyone else is happy but you.

Christmas has become very commercial, I get fed up with the constant advertising too and with the ridiculous amounts of money that people are encouraged to spend on gifts. It also annoys me that the shops start their Christmas advertising almost before Halloween is over. I think that maybe this is part of the problem. It’s not special if it goes on for too long.

I think that people put a lot of pressure on themselves at Christmas because they feel they have to spend a lot on gifts and entertaining and that they have to rush about visiting or have all their relatives to lunch. Perhaps they need to sit down and talk with their families about what parts of Christmas they really enjoy and just do those or spread them throughout the holiday season.

What Naomi and I find upsetting though is that so many people feel that they have to continuously moan about it. It gets quite depressing to listen to people saying “I’m over Christmas.” or “Christmas is just for the children.” and “I’ll be glad when this is over.” or similar negative statements.  We both look forward to this time of year but every year it gets harder to get into the festive spirit with so many Christmas Grinches around.  It seems to have spread even to people who don’t actually have to do any cooking, cleaning or entertaining themselves.

The other day I read an article written by another Christmas hater. I don’t remember everything it said but it basically mocked all the things I love about Christmas right down to questioning why anyone would want to eat a mince pie. I’ve stopped reading negative articles about Christmas now and I avoid bringing the subject up with people I know who don’t enjoy it. I don’t want to force others to be jolly I would just like them to consider our feelings too and stop spreading gloom all over the place.

In  Dickens “A Christmas Carol ” Scrooge berates his nephew for celebrating Christmas and Fred makes the following reply.

“There are many things from which I might have derived good by which I have not profited, I dare say,” returned the nephew, “Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas-time, when it has come round-apart from… the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that-as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!”

– Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol.  Speech by Scrooge’s nephew, Fred.

We respect people’s right not to celebrate but we wish they would not spoil it for those of us that do.

So now that I’ve had my little rant I’d like to share a couple of YouTube clips I’ve seen this week, both made in New Zealand. God bless the Kiwis for giving me something to smile about.

 

RDP: Bridge

The Tasman Bridge Disaster

image Tasman Bridge, Hobart
crossing the bridge

Hobart’s eastern and western shores are spanned by the Tasman Bridge which was completed in 1964. This bridge replaced an earlier floating bridge that had been built in 1943.

I was not living in Tasmania in 1975 when the bridge collapsed but of course, I saw it on the news. It was only much later when I moved here that I began to understand how it affected people’s lives.

The disaster occurred on the night of the 5th of January 1975. Lake Illawarra, a bulk ore carrier was making its way up the Derwent, as it was a Sunday night there was no pilot on board.  The reports of the accident say that human error and tidal currents in the river were the main factors that caused the ship to smash into one of the bridge pylons. A section of the bridge came down sinking the ship and carrying with it four cars that had been unable to stop in time. The five occupants and seven crew members from the Lake Illawarra died that night. Two other cars were left teetering over the edge of the bridge but miraculously those people survived.

The Tasman Bridge from below.

What I was unaware of until I moved to Tasmania was the social impact the loss of the bridge would have on Hobart. At that time there was only one other river crossing and it was several kilometres away at Bridgewater so getting to and from the CBD became a major problem for people on both sides of the river.  Initially, ferries were brought in to deal with the commuters but later a temporary “Bailey Bridge” was constructed to replace the Tasman Bridge while repairs took place. It was nearly three years before the bridge was re-opened.

The Tasman Bridge, Hobart.

Apart from the delays that this caused for people trying to get to work or appointments it changed people’s lives in other ways. I spoke with workmates who were old enough to remember the disaster and one who was just a teenager at the time told me that she had to move because her job was on the opposite side of the river to her home. Her parents thought it was easier to set her and a friend up in a flat than for them to commute to their jobs. I am sure that she was not the only one who made the move because of work.

The Tasman Bridge, Hobart Tasmania

Probably as a result of the disaster services on the eastern shore were developed faster than they might have been otherwise. The population had been growing for some years but most people worked and shopped in the Hobart CBD. Eastlands shopping centre was enlarged and new shops, offices, medical facilities and entertainment venues started to appear.

Of course what I can never know is how people felt when they heard the news. In a small place like Tasmania. when something bad happens it’s personal because it’s very likely that someone you know has been affected in some way. When people saw the first pictures of the bridge it must have felt as if nothing would ever be the same.

Today a few things have changed. The bridge is repaired but the pylons are in slightly different positions as the Lake Illawarra, now a dive site, still lies on the river bed. There is always a pilot on board any ship that passes under the bridge and when one does the traffic is stopped. A third bridge has been built between Hobart and Bridgewater. The City of Clarence is now one of the fastest growing areas in Tasmania.

image Tasman Bridge
The Tasman Bridge today

Sources:

I have included a few links for those who would like to learn more about what happened. There are some historic pictures as well.

https://roadsaustralia.weebly.com/tasman-bridge.html

https://think-tasmania.com/tasman-bridge/

http://www.utas.edu.au/library/companion_to_tasmanian_history/T/Tas%20bridge%20collapse.htm

https://www.news.com.au/national/tasmania/tasman-bridge-lights-go-out-to-honour-12-who-died-in-disaster/news-story/3e38ff29cf07486a5b747b23d346c6eb

https://www.themercury.com.au/news/tasmania/tasman-bridge-disaster/image-gallery/3ab6314370988d3e65a0978f68dd3e1c

http://www.utas.edu.au/library/companion_to_tasmanian_history/C/Clarence.htm

 

RDP: Broadcast

Who Listens to the Radio?

I probably started to listen to the radio a lot when I was a young teen. It was the beginning of the 1970’s and radios were getting smaller although the Sony Walkman had not yet been invented. Most people had a radio in the house and even kids might have a “tranny”, a transistor radio.

That’s how we discovered the music we grew to love, listening to it on the radio.

The first rock concerts that Naomi and I attended were free ones sponsored by a local radio station featuring local Adelaide bands. We had favourite DJ’s and shows that we liked to listen to. I always enjoyed “The Album Show”, I think that was the name, on 5KA Adelaide hosted by Barry Bissell 

He would play several tracks from the latest albums and as this was in the days of the four-minute single it was great to hear the long versions of songs and those that you didn’t hear on repeat all day. A sort of try before you buy if you like.

I probably stopped listening so much sometime in the late nineties as the music of that time was less to my taste and now, I hardly listen to current music at all.

When we moved to Geeveston I discovered there was a community radio station and David and I eagerly tuned in but we were unlucky that every time we did they seemed to be playing country music which neither of us liked. Later though, I started to volunteer at the station and discovered that there were also presenters playing blues, jazz, folk, “oldies” music and various other genres as well as information programs. Community radio stations don’t have to play what the commercial stations play. The presenters are usually enthusiasts of a particular type of music and most put a lot of thought into their selection of songs each week.

I never had any desire to go on air myself but I did enjoy working in the office where I did a variety of jobs to support the manager and presenters. Sometimes if there was an outside broadcast I would go along to help set up, sell raffle tickets and so on.

Setting up for an OB. Kingston Beach January 2012

Presenter interviewing one of the police officers at the venue.

I made some good friends too who I still see regularly even though most of us are no longer associated with the station. I still turn off the country music though.

I don’t listen to the radio all that much now though. When David was in the hospital and I was first at home by myself I started to listen to a classical music station at night and I found it helped me to sleep (unless it was opera). I still listen to it sometimes before I go to sleep and when I wake up. I like to hear the news and the weather first thing and then, unless something major is going on, I don’t listen to the news for the rest of the day. I like hearing the news without ads, without opinion and without a video clip attached to it.