Friday, May 6

Stupid, Stupid.

It seems to be happening all around the place these days.  Homes and businesses are being robbed on a regular basis.  No one seems to be safe these days.  Every day the media is full of stories of the latest break-ins, the latest assaults and murders.  It is a rather scary world we live in these days, even at a local level.

Even in our little backwater the robbers are active.  Which is why EVERYONE should take care to lock their homes, and windows if they have no security screens.  I am lucky as I have good security, but I know it is only a deterrent, and if someone really wants to get into my place they only have to break a window.  Not so easy when I am home, perhaps, but if I am out, I am more vulnerable.  Luckily I have good neighbours who keep an eye out for me and my house.

One has to take care, where ever you are.

Yesterday I was at the supermarket in Caboolture, and on leaving the store I went to the escalator to go down to the car park.  A man and a lady (as it turns out not known to each other ushered me onto the escalator as I had a trolley,  and followed me down.

Around halfway down, the man said  something like "I'm pissed off. I bought a five-litre cask of wine, and I left it outside the toilet door when I went to pee. When I came back it was gone."

The girl didn't say much.  I think it was just "Really?"

Then as we reached the bottom of the escalator the man went in one direction, saying "I think I know who did it.  I'll get the bastard".

The girl and I exchanged glances and both burst out laughing. What idiot could think that leaving a cask of wine in a corridor would think it would be there when he returned a few minutes later??

It does show that one has to take responsibility for all their belongings.  The idea that a cask of wine might be ignored by someone walking by is a bit crazy.  I mean, it doesn't make sense.

I am aware of a number of local residents who do not bother to lock their doors, and strangely I have heard both of them almost boasting about it!  Others could have heard.  Yes, I am aware that both women have noisy dogs, and I know that it is a deterrent, but it still leaves the dogs and the house vulnerable.

Thieves are often opportunists.  Looking to see when someone leaves a door open, a window, keys in the car and so forth.  It is a sad reality that everyone has to take such care.

So many folk go to the trouble and expense of security cameras these days.  I've thought about it, but unlikely to get them.  Luckily I feel rather comfortable with the security doors and windows, and I do take care to lock my doors all the time.  As a solo woman, I am aware that I am more vulnerable.

Please be safe.

Smoking Kills

Despite all the warnings of the dangers of smoking, people still do. I know I was a smoker once upon a time, and luckily was able to give it up easily in the end.  I didn't have a troubling addiction to it.

I am so surprised to see young people taking it up.  It is not like the "old days" when every movie star smoked through the movies.  In those days, it was "cool" to smoke, as there was not the evidence of the significant health risks smoking can cause.

These days we see or hear of so many people succumbing to the dreadful cancer disease.  Not always, but so often linked to smoking.

I am so pleased that none of my family smokes.  In fact, I don't have friends that smoke either.  The only people I know who now still smoke are some volunteers I work with.  I do think the people who can least afford to smoke, those on low incomes or unemployed, or unemployable are the ones that keep up the smoking habits.  

The cost of cigarettes is so high, that I wonder what people are prepared to go without, so that they can afford their ciggies!

This is from the Quit Smoking Victoria website.  

"For instance, if you smoke a pack of cigarettes for an average of $18 a day, you're spending more than $6500 a year. Once you think about all the things you can do with the money you'll save when you stop smoking, you may find the extra incentive you need to give up smoking for good."

The price of cigarettes is escalating again too. 

Scary to think one burns up this amount of funds.  

Drugs and Me

There clearly is something wrong with me.  I have never 'done drugs'.  Though I was in my teens when the young folk in Australia started widely using "weed" to get a high.  It was something that I never came into contact in a social setting, which is a bit weird in a way, because somehow I missed it all.

A joint.  A roll your own cigarette of cannabis

I was married in the late 1960's, and my social life for the next few years was more about young children than the party/dance scene, and somehow I missed it all, for which I am glad.  I did however smoke cigarettes for a few years, but gave that up some 40+ years ago.

My sister, somewhere in the 80's I think was rather gobsmacked that I had never tried it.  She lived in Adelaide and I lived in Brisbane, so completely different social sets were we involved in.  I think to this day, she is still amazed that I hadn't tried it.  Oddly, no one ever offered it to me, and I never saw any of my friends smoking pot, or indeed doing anything with drugs.  If they did, it was not near me.

I am not necessarily a "goody-two-shoes" - but it was something I never had any wish to find out about, and no one I knew did it.

As a nurse in a psychiatric hospital, I was aware that many of the patients "did drugs" and we had some rather hilarious and scary events where patients were high on something.  I recall one guy standing on his bed screaming that sharks were swimming around his bed trying to get to him!!  

Once a few years later, I found a small packet of weed on the ground near my car, looking as if it had fallen out of my car.  It didn't, for usually I was the only one who was in the car.  I picked up the little packet, saw it was some grass/weed and quickly put it in the rubbish bin, with my heart pounding.  If the police had arrived, and there was no reason to think they might, it would have been presumed that I had the drugs for my own use.  Maybe.

Now I do drink wine, though I don't do it to get a "high".  I don't set out to get drunk and these days barely have more than two glasses of wine at a time, unless I am at a major event.  I can't recall the last time that happened. It doesn't much.  As I live alone, I don't drink when I have to drive home!!!  I have no designated driver.  It is only me.

The history of marijuana is interesting.  I am aware of course that drug taking has been a part of modern civilisation.  I accept that some people need to have the "high" that drugs give.  However, I am extremely aware of the lows that scome with it.  So many folk become addicted to it, and spiral into a chasm that is so deep they can't get out of it.  Their lives are ruined.  They become dysfunctional.  They start to resort to crime to pay for their ever increasing living costs and drug payments, and they become unemployable.  So many parents abandon or treat their children badly.

Even in the last couple of weeks I have learned that some parents introduce their children a very young age to drugs.  It seems horrifying to me!  So many lives ruined.  All for nothing. 

I read some of this article about drug addiction.  I can accept that when a person is an addict, it is classified as a disease, but it is a disease that has come on because the person made a decision at some time to try drugs.  He or she, took that first step, either as a decision of their own or enticed by other people or promises of a better life, when the facts are well known that it is a slippery path.

The statistics are not encouraging and I wonder why so many people think it is ok to use in this way.  I do think that medical cannabis used correctly has its place, but I wonder if that encourages others to use it too - those that one day are going to end up as one of our horrible statistics.

"According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, there were 455,000 emergency room visits associated with cannabis use in 2011. These statistics include visits in which the patient was treated for a condition induced by or related to recent cannabis use. The drug use must be "implicated" in the emergency department visit, but does not need to be the direct cause of the visit. Most of the illicit drug emergency room visits involved multiple drugs.[51] In 129,000 cases, cannabis was the only implicated drug.[52][53]"  
From Wikipedia

Thursday, May 5

Tattoos and Metal

I have to laugh a little as I have a tattoo.  Not a real one, but one that I had expected would have disappeared without trace, within 48 hours of it being applied at the Urban Music Festival.

It is the U of the Urban event, and despite attempts to delete it, it remains, though getting fainter each day.

I have been the butt of a few jokes over it.   I do think it is amusing and I am glad that it will be soon gone.

I am not a fan of tattoos or metal rings in weird parts of the body.  I respect that many folk love it and I have seen some "masterpieces" or fantastic pieces of art on bodies.  I see a place for them, but I do almost puke when I see some.  

In the supermarket recently, I came face to face with another shopper - a guy , perhaps in his 40's who was covered with tatts.  His face was covered in what looked like a feather image over both sides of his face.  Weird.  And some metal rings around the place.

I wonder if he is employed, or if so what he must do.  I don't see that he would get "normal" employment. 

One of the things I have noticed is that so many young people spend a lot of money on tatts and metal bits and pieces all around their bodies.  I wonder if they will ever get employment.   To me it appears that many people on the very low income scale seem to find the funds to do this sort of thing.  They look like they are down to their last few dollars, but have had the funds to spend on the tatts, and they generally smoke, and I'd almost bet that they also indulge in drugs.

I wonder what their chances of improving their chances for employment, or a better life would be if they didn't smoke cigarette, didn't do drugs and didn't bother getting strange tattoos on their bodies.  

Once upon a time, I thought that only men in the navy or armed forces would get tattoos, and generally, they were on their body or arms.  Another group of men were those in prison, as they managed to get or make the tools to create ink tattoos on their body and they were generally not artistic, but rather nasty looking pieces.

One of the biggest growing business areas these days is the removal of tattoos.  I'm not surprised. 

Wednesday, May 4

Weekend Notes - Work for Writers

I started writing for Weekend Notes many months ago, and gradually I am learning to make the most of this amazing website that is international and gives writers in many places around the world an opportunity to write about places to visit and things to do.

Apart from learning about the country I live in, I can learn about other places, though I do focus on places I am likely to travel to - and at the moment it is other places in Australia.

The Peanut Silos at Kingaroy

Recently, I went on a drive north to Kingaroy, and along the way I stopped at Kilcoy, Moore, and Nanango and all along the way I stopped to take photos and find stories of some of the interesting spots to go. 

Historic Hotel near the Peanut Silos
Oh, there were so many.  Kingaroy is known as the Peanut Capital of Australia with a very interesting history on the growing of peanuts.  They also grow Navy Beans there - we know them mainly as "baked beans".

I like visiting historical places, so Ringsfield House at Nanango
was one place I called into. 

I know I like to travel overseas, but I love driving around my own country as there is so much to see.  You have to stop occasionally.

Years ago, when I travelled around Australia, I came across a number of women who were travelling with their partner, who explained that their menfolk didn't like to stop very much.  They liked to get to their destination quickly and the fewer stops the better.  Women I think are more adventurous.

I so love driving on my own, and stopping when and where I want. This I love.  Now, I do think that sometimes I would enjoy company, but I have learned that my travelling companions don't like stopping as much as I do.  They get bored with it, but I take my camera and take photos.  

Years ago I stayed at Taabinga Homestead and I was happy to visit again.  It hasn't changed (for years and years I am sure.)

So if you visit Weekend Notes you might find interesting information of your local area, and if you are a writer and would like to write for Weekend Notes, leave a comment and I will send you information on how to write for WN.

Tuesday, May 3

Houses and Building

There is a lot of discussion at the moment re the "housing market" in Australia at the moment.  Housing prices are going up and up, and often the houses are being bought by investors who don't necessarily put tenants in their newly purchased homes.  The number of empty homes in Australia is rising, and we do have a housing shortage.  This article is interesting.

I have written about the Chinese experience where millions of Chinese apartments are empty, and the Chinese are happy with that. I can remember my former student telling me that it was wise NOT to have tenants as, despite getting rental payments, the cost of maintenance of an apartment is such that it is more lucrative, apparently, to just let it remain empty.

I was surprised to hear that, and even more surprised to learn that the same thing is happening in Australia now.  Is it the Chinese that are behind this behaviour that is now more common in Australia?

I watched Four Corners on the ABC last night, which featured stories about the housing market in Australia.  A young lady with $150,000 cash deposit has been outbid every time she went to buy a house.  Because the investors are able to access more $$$'s from apparently over-enthusiastic lending practices by banks, which are lending high amounts to many people who will not be able to maintain payments if the market crashes.  The banks are not at risk of losing their money, but the folk who overborrowed, or whose documents have been apparently doctored by unknown persons, are at very high risk.

Also, there was a brief report on the standard of building.  Tradies are often using inferior product, or rushing through building tasks more concerned with finishing the job "near enough is good enough" and increasing their profits.  This is an issue that I have spoken about on many occasions and few people have taken me seriously.

I moved into a new duplex three years ago, and have had to endure problems as a result of poor building, or cheap product.  The first summer I was here, the air conditioning didn't work.  It appears that when the property was being built thieves stole the outside motor for the air conditioner and it was replaced by another one, and not connected properly.  The water tank was not put in properly - so that there is 15% of the tank that will never hold water as the overflow pipe was installed lower than it should have been.  Also the pump broke down, and also other items IN the tank were faulty.

You can see the overflow pipe - apparently it should have been a foot or so higher.

Over and over I have had to call the real estate agent to get repairs done.  The smoke alarm system was faulty - was completely replaced within months of me moving in.  I have had electrical problems too - with light switches arking.  (is that the word?)

The air conditioning motor is so low that one cannot mow the lawn under it.

Also, the air conditioning unit, on the outside of the wall (this is the one that was replaced after the earlier one was stolen) is so low that I cannot mow the lawn.  Did anyone ever consider this? 

Clearly to me there are several issues with Australian housing.  Certainly young people are being priced out of the housing market - though I recall that the same story was headlines when I was much younger and looking at getting into the housing market.

I do wish though that more care was taken by "building inspectors".  My father was a building supervisor, and not well liked for being so pedantic.  I recall that when he went to a new area, where, apparently, money was changing hands between the supervisor before him, to allow the building to be approved without being up to the standard required.  The builders did not get paid unless and until my father was happy with the work being done.  The builders who had gotten away with shabby work previously were most upset and threatened my father, but he won in the end.  Sadly, I doubt if there are many supervisors who are as pedantic as Dad was.

Sunday, May 1

Candles and Children

It has happened again.  A house fire as a result of a candle - and again, a candle in a child's room.  My advice to all mothers and fathers, and indeed anyone is that candles and children do not mix well.

An adult with a candle can be dangerous - but a candle near a child is far more likely to end up badly.

In the last few days, a country family has had their house burnt down, as a result of a candle in a child's bedroom.  Not only did they lose their house, but the child has been in hospital in a critical condition since the event, with burns to 80% of his body.

The child is in an induced coma - if he was awake the little boy, who is about two years old would be constantly screaming with the pain.

I recall when my grandchildren were young, how my daughter saw no issue with having a candle burning in her house.  I was always uncomfortable.  My words of warning fell on deaf ears, and indeed I ended up being the one that was seen as the "bad" person.  I have often had to shut my mouth, lest I get into a not to nice argument on some issues with my offspring.

I can guess that every mother would have had an event in the family with a near-miss event with fire or similar.  When my children were small, I was a smoker.  My son found my matches  in my bag as we were driving somewhere.  He was about two, but he'd seen how they worked and lit one while I was driving.  I freaked when he screamed and I saw the small flame.  He actually burned his fingers together.  Not a big fire, or a big injury, but enough for me to learn from the experience to keep my fire making implements well away from him.

It was not, of course,  the only time he experimented with fire or electricity.  One night he set his bed on fire when playing with his bed lamp.  We were lucky that night that not a lot of damage was done to him or property.  He was a boy after all, and much more adventurous than his studious sister.

I am against having rules - well, I mean strict legal rules - we have too many and most people don't know them anyway, but we have lost a lot of common sense.  OK, I know that my generation and the generations before were not all gifted with common sense, but I can recall having more rules than I perceive children having these days. 

We were taught to have respect for others, especially elders.  Clearly that is not something that most children understand.  I may be a bit "picky" but when I was growing up one would never address another adult by their first name.  And even as an adult, you would address another adult initially as Mr, Mrs, etc. until he/her requested that you use their first name.

I remember as a nurse, we had to address our fellow nurses, even if they were our best friend or a sibling, as "Nurse ......." and surname.  We would never address our doctors as anything other than "Doctor", and usually their surname too.  These days it is first names, and buddy/buddy.  

I digress.

Despite all the failed efforts by scientists and other to keep us living forever, we can't even keep our children alive if they have a major health event, and they still die, as do adults too. In some ways there is an element of luck.  

But don't stretch that luck.  You do that when you do, or allow to be done, things that have a high risk.  So protect your children.  By all means use a candle, but ensure that it is used safely.  A children's bedroom at any time is unacceptable.  The risks are too high.

This little boy that I referred to earlier, if he does survive, will undergo many hours of painful surgery and will probably have ugly scars for the rest of his life.  It is not worth it.  Do take care everyone.