Monday, December 09, 2019

FICTION IS STRANGER THAN FACT!









Many things/events/human behaviours cause me to shake my head.  Some behaviours and attitudes are major detours from normalcy; others minor. 

On the minor. lighter side...the number of female protagonists and their female co-stars in movies and TV series with long, loose hair flowing down their backs when they’re dealing with hands-on, vigorous situations is fiction taken to extremes, and beyond. Barely a strand – not an errant, wayward wisp goes out of place even in the most action-filled scenes. The unchecked manes remain immoveable.

Short hair, in most instances, is confined to actors...aka male thespians... as opposed to the female “actress/es”. (No p/c gender-neutral in operation here. You won’t hear me calling “pregnant women” – “pregnant people” - as some bright sparks suggested a couple of weeks ago)!  

There are the exceptions in the male sphere...of course....

Male buns of the hair variety are fashionable, too...but they don't offend, or annoy me.

Glamorously-attired lady lawyers in TV series strut through offices, and along the corridors of power, their unlocked long locks gracefully fluid and loose, hanging down their back.  From the look of their wardrobes, no wonder the lawyers charge so much for their services.  I guess it’s also why they can afford to have a personal hairdresser on call at all times...Hence the tidy hair.... ”Blowin’ in the Wind” doesn’t refer to them.

Female cops who look like they’ve just stepped out of a hair salon, tackle crims with not a bobby-pin or barrette in sight...pictures of perfection looking down the barrel of their gun.  I want to jump into the scenes with a ribbon, rubber band, scissors, or scrunchies (scrunchies are back in fashion I read somewhere)...grab the long hair and securely tie it back, or plait it; or, in desperation, cut it all off!

A while back I ceased watching one series because the lead actress’ hair was in her eyes and over her face all the time. It annoyed the whatsits out of me. I couldn’t understand why it didn’t do similar to her. 

Contestants on cooking shows with their long hair dangling around their faces while preparing food make me want to scream. For years I worked in the hospitality industry, and for years I cooked in commercial/restaurant kitchens.  My hair was long...very long, well past my waist.  Never letting it loose, I always wore it pulled back off my face, in a long plait down my back.  It’s more than a little off-putting to find a long hair in your soup...or wound around your Filet Mignon...or wrapped around a few asparagus stems instead of bacon strips or pancetta.

On the subject of annoying things... how come there aren’t more car accidents in movies and television series? 

The characters drive along roads, busy city streets, and highways with their eyes off the road...for minutes at a time...talking to the passenger/s...their eyes on the passenger, not on the road ahead.  If I did similar when driving I’d end up in somebody’s front yard, or off the mountain down into the valley below, springing an unexpected visit on our neighbours in Canungra or Tamborine Village!  “G’Day!  I’ve just dropped in for a cuppa!”

One day, many years ago, my ex and I were travelling back from Brisbane’s northern suburb of Geebung, via the busy route along Lutwyche Rd, through Windsor, Herston, etc., on our way through the city to our home in the western suburb of Toowong.

Randall and I were backseat passengers (not backseat drivers) of the car driven by one of his cousins. Chatterbox cousin insisted on turning his head around to face us every time he opened his mouth to speak – which was often!   His head was going back and forth like those clowns in side-show alley.  His mouth was constantly open, like the clowns, too!

Subtly, I nudged Randall, and mouthed, “Let’s stop talking!”

I feared we’d end up the back of another car, or crash through the front entrance of the Royal Brisbane Hospital at Herston – self-delivery – no ambulance required! 

The rest of the trip was conducted in silence, with no prangs along the way, thankfully.   
My first grey hair made its appearance during that trip, I think. 

We knocked back the cousin’s offer to pick us up the following day to attend a family picnic.  Politely, we told him we’d take our own car, and meet him at the designated spot!

Constant texting in movies/series annoys me, too.  Give me spoken dialogue, please – something I can hear!  Just because the actors/actresses have forgotten their lines doesn’t mean I have to be the one who suffers. Most of the time the text is so small it’s illegible. 20/20 vision be damned...even those with rare 20/10 vision would find the text impossible to decipher. I twiddle my thumbs until the texting ends, letting my imagination do the talking.

Another thing that annoys me is background music in movies and/or series that drowns out the dialogue!  And, accents that a difficult to decipher...and, one last thing....subtitles that are too small to read!   

Many more things annoy me, but if I don’t cease and desist for now, I will start annoying you – if I’ve not already managed to do so....

Corn Soup: Cut kernels off 5 corn cobs; toss with salt; let sit at room temp 1-3hrs; then put into blender with 3 chopped garlic cloves, 250g yellow cherry tomatoes, halved, 2 chopped yellow capsicums, 1c diced onion, 1 seeded, sliced jalapeno, and 3-4 sprigs coriander; season; blend until smooth. Serve; garnished with drizzle of olive oil, fresh corn kernels, and coriander.

Cucumber Soup: Place 4c peeled, seeded, chopped English cucumbers, 1c almond milk, 2 garlic cloves, 4-5 fresh basil leaves, 2 shallots, 1 peeled, cored Red Delicious apple, juice of ½ lime and salt into blender; purée until smooth. Add additional almond milk to thin, if needed; chill 1-2hrs. Garnish with diced cucumber, diced red capsicum and slivered almonds.

Marinated Grilled Skirt Steak: Trim away layer of fat from one side of 700g skirt steak. Combine juice of 2 limes, 3 minced garlic cloves, 1/2tsp salt, /2tsp black pepper, 1/2c chopped coriander and pinch of cayenne in bowl; add 1/2c olive oil; add steak; chill 30-60mins.  Salad; Juice of 2 limes, 1/4c x-virgin olive oil, 1-2tbs honey, 1/2tsp cumin, and 1/2tsp garlic powder. Drizzle some dressing in a bowl; top with handfuls of rocket, cooked corn kernels cut off cob, halved cherry toms, and 1 thinly sliced red onion. Toss; season to taste.  Heat oiled grill med-high. Sear steak 4-5mins; flip; cook to desired doneness; remove from grill; let sit 5-7mins, loosely covered with foil.  Slice steak against grain into thin slices; serve with the salad. 

Asparagus..It’s a Wrap: Adjust oven rack to centre position; preheat oven 204C. Line a baking sheet with foil and place a wire rack on top. Spray rack with oil spray.  Place 5 slices of thick-cut bacon evenly apart on pan.  roast until bacon just begins to shrink, and turns a slightly red colour, but is still flexible.  The bacon shouldn’t be too crisp, because it will break when wrapping around the asparagus.  In small bowl, whisk together 2tbs olive oil, 1/4c pure maple syrup and 1/2tsp cracked black pepper. Remove bacon from oven; brush with maple syrup mixture on both sides; roast bacon further 3mins; cool until easy to handle.  Divide 450g trimmed asparagus spears into five even bundles; wrap one bacon slice, overlapping, over length of spears, or just around the centre of the spears.  Secure with toothpick; place back onto baking rack. Generously brush with maple syrup mixture; season lightly. Roast bundles 10mins; removed from oven; brush just the bacon with the maple syrup mixture; roast a further 5mins, or until bacon is browned and crispy, and asparagus is tender. Remove toothpicks; serve hot.

Filet Mignon: Preheat grill to med-high heat and lightly oil the grates. In a food processor, pulse together 125g cream cheese, 125g goat cheese, 3/4c sun-dried tomatoes, 10 large basil leaves, salt, and ground black pepper. Cut a slit in the side of 4x180g eye fillet steaks; spoon in about 1 tablespoon of cheese mixture. Place steaks, slit side down onto a slice of pancetta/or rindless bacon rasher; wrap it around, securing with a water-soaked toothpick. Place steaks on the grill and cook for about 6-8 minutes per side, turning once, until the pancetta/bacon is crisp.


Sunday, December 01, 2019

PARTICULARLY NASTY WEATHER....


Part of the Scenic Rim...South-East Queensland
Drought-affected Dubbo, New South Wales

Every time I hear, or read the above term a smile spreads across my face.  I’m reminded of a humorous twist a dear, now-departed work colleague of long ago always applied to the words.  John, my boss over the 14 years I was employed by the Kolotex Group of Companies, a learned, intelligent, well-travelled man of good humour was guilty of introducing me to his version of the term.  John was a navigator in the Air Force during the Second World War.  He’d been the men’s wear buyer at John Martin & Co., aka “Johnnies”, in Rundle Street, Adelaide.  After the war ended, for a number of years, he was the store’s menswear overseas buyer, based in Paris, and for a time, in London.

Not wishing to offend anyone, I won’t repeat the synonyms, but I’m sure there are some readers who know the twist on “particularly nasty weather”!  The saying begins with “tickle my......” ending with a word that rhymes with weather.

They’re the only hints I’m giving.  I’ll leave it to you to figure out the rest...

It’s funny how something inconsequential can awaken memories, bringing feelings to the surface. 

On my way to check my letterbox this morning my subconscious kicked into action. Automatically, I went to pick up a discarded magpie feather lying on the ground.  I stopped myself from doing what my latent, inner self urged me to do. 

My instinct was to stick the feather in my hair, and then gallop around the yard, “whoop-whoop-whoopy-ing”, attacking the circled wagons, playing cowboys and Indians as I often did when I was a little kid. It’s taking me a long time to grow up.

With difficulty, I managed to harness my impulse.  I kept it in check, allowing boring decorum to have its way. The desire was strong, but I was stronger; maybe next time I’ll weaken.   Who knows?  One is allowed to have fun.  Age should never figure in the equation, even if the joints are screaming, “No! No!”   If others think you’re crazy...who cares?   Let them think they are correct in their uninformed, baseless assumptions.  You, yourself, know better.  No one knows you better than you...so run with that...
  
Bursts of craziness – harmless silliness - hit often when I was living in the Tropics in the ‘80s/90s, whether on islands, or on the mainland.  And, as often, the spontaneous explosions of madness coincided with the arrival of the monsoons that brought heavy, cooling summer downpours.  No efforts were made to rein in the joyous, zealous enthusiasm.  Dancing in the rain - often sans clothes - was freedom personified.   

Splashing around in puddles of water in the carefree manner of a child was liberating.  I was quite a few years younger then, and much fitter, than I am now. It was the greatest fun to be had with, or without clothes. 

When the rains come – hopefully rain will arrive in all its liquid glory very soon - I can’t, and won’t guarantee I’ll not recapture those happy-go-lucky, halcyon moments of my younger, devil-may-care, slimmer, more agile self.  I don’t care if the devil cares, anyway.  Who the devil is he to care what I do in my own time?   

If you see someone singing and dancing in the rain, it won’t be Gene Kelly, it'll just be fruit loop me. Having fun, I’ll be causing harm to no one.  In respect to those of a sensitive nature, I’ll leave my gear on. If the vision still offends...look the other way.  

My actions will be “three birds...one stone”, as the saying goes.  (I don’t kill or throw stones at birds). While enthusiastically enjoying myself dancing in the rain I won’t need to fire up my washing machine. I’ll wear a bar of washing soap on a rope around my neck, along with a cake of Imperial Leather.  Simultaneously, I’ll frolic, do my laundry, and shower.  Howzat for smart thinking?  Hang on! Make it four birds!  I’ll shampoo my hair, too.

The water trucks continually extracting water from our mountain aquifer are more offensive than an image of me dancing in the rain.  If the water was going to those in dire need – those in drought-stricken areas - I wouldn’t mind so much...nor would anyone else...but it’s the mountain water is going to a couple of Brisbane breweries and the Coco Cola factory.   Only so many slices can be taken from the cake....in my opinion...and in the opinion of many others...similar applies to the aquifer.

The resort on Hinchinbrook Island was solely reliant on its small dam for water before I hired a couple of dowsers from the Atherton Tablelands to come and divine for water, and set a bore.   

One evening I fired a staff member on the spot when I caught him thoughtlessly wasting water.  I told him to leave the restaurant immediately, and head back up to the staff quarters to pack his bags...that he would be off the island the following morning...no ifs, and no buts.  He’d left a tap running at full bolt in one of the large industrial sinks in the kitchen area.  No plug was in the sink, and the water was gushing away down the sink hole.  I didn’t make a scene, embarrassing him in front of guests or his co-workers, but firmly I got my message across.

I abhor water wastage.  

Presently, sadly, and worryingly, our mountain greenery is a mountain brownery.  

We did get some rain from a couple of storms over this past weekend; much more is needed, but, with gratitude, we'll take every drop given...the sound of the rain on the roof was music to my ears.  

I'm sure I heard the earth calling out..."Thank you!"   Or was it me...perhaps it was both....


Everything old is new again...



Australia's Hottest Day on Record 1828


Not 2019, BUT 1828 at a blistering 53.9 °C

Back before man-made climate change was frying Australia, when CO2was around 300ppm, the continent savoured an ideal pre-industrial climate.... RIGHT?

This is the kind of climate we are spending $10bn per annum to get back to... Right again?

We are told today's climate has more records and more extremes than times gone by, but the few records we have from the early 1800s are eye-popping.

Things were not just hotter, but so wildly hot it burst thermometers. 

The earliest temperature records we have show that Australia was a land of shocking heatwaves and droughts, except for when it was bitterly cold or raging in flood.

In other words, nothing has changed, except possibly things might not be quite so hot now!

Silliggy (Lance Pidgeon) has been researching records from early explorers and from newspapers.

What he's uncovered is fascinating!   It's as if history is being erased!

For all that we hear about recent record-breaking climate extremes, records that are equally extreme, and sometimes even more so, are ignored.

In January 1896 a savage blast "like a furnace" stretched across Australia from east to west and lasted for weeks.

The death toll reached 437 people in the eastern states.

Newspaper reports showed that in Bourke the heat approached 120°F (48.9°C) on three days.

Links to documentary evidence (1)(2)(3)

The maximum at or above 102 degrees F (38.9°C) for 24 days straight!

Use the several links below to read the news reports at the time for yourself ..
1.    By Tuesday Jan 14, people were reported falling dead in the streets.

2.    Unable to sleep, people in Brewarrina walked the streets at night for hours, thermometers recorded 109F at  midnight.

3.    Overnight, the temperature did not fall below 103°F.

4.    On Jan 18 in Wilcannia, five deaths were recorded in one day, the hospitals were overcrowded and reports said that "more deaths are hourly expected".

5.    By January 24, in Bourke, many businesses had shut down (almost everything bar the hotels).

6.    Panic stricken Australians were fleeing to the hills in climate refugee trains.

As reported at the time, the government felt the situation was so serious that to save lives and ease the suffering of its citizens they added cheaper train services.

What I found most interesting about this was the skill, dedication and length of meteorological data taken in the 1800s. When our climate is "the most important moral challenge" why is it there is so little interest in our longest and oldest data?

Who knew that one of the most meticulous and detailed temperature records in the world from the 1800s comes from Adelaide, largely thanks to Sir Charles Todd.

The West Terrace site in Adelaide was one of the best in the world at the time, and provides accurate historic temperatures from  "Australia's first permanent weather bureau at Adelaide in 1856".

Rainfall records even appear to go as far back as 1839.  Lance Pidgeon went delving into the National Archives and was surprised at what he found.

The media are in overdrive, making out that "the extreme heat is the new normal" in Australia. 

You can't blame those high records on man-made global warming!