I want to start this post by thanking Sandra, a real world friend and email correspondent for sending me these incredible, historical artifacts. Thank you!
Now, take my hand and let’s start with something all Australians will recognize – the Sydney Harbour Bridge:
Historians will love this old black and white news footage, but baby techies like me will be astounded to learn exactly how such a huge, single span was built. I literally could not believe my eyes. [If you don’t want to watch the entire eight minute video, click the red ‘play’ line at about 75%].
The next few images prove that history is cyclical. Or perhaps they just prove that humans never change:
I decided to include the following, more recent image because I wish we had something like it today:
Imagine if, instead of having to order online and get someone else to pick your produce for you, mobile shops would drive through the suburbs, ringing a bell or something, like the old Mr Whippy icecream vans.
We’d still have to wear masks and gloves, and keep 2 metres apart, but wouldn’t it be nice to be able to pick your own fruit and veg? Maybe have the baker’s van bring fresh, crusty Vienna’s to the corner of your street. And ice cream! I do miss the Mr Whippy van. 🙂
The past was anything but a golden age and yet, there are things from my childhood that I really do miss. What about you?
MyOBT is well worth a visit as Donna has heaps more photos of these incredible murals to show you. Oh, and they’re all done in France.
As soon as I saw the French murals, I was reminded of the siloart springing up here in Australia:
Very different styles, and yet the images are both beautiful and playful. They invite viewers in, and I think they’re wonderful. Here’s the link to the siloart website: https://www.australiansiloarttrail.com/
If you know of any other artworks like these, please tell us about them in the comments.
Disclaimer:I have just cancelled my private health insurance after almost 40 years. I will try to be unbiased as I present the facts that led to this momentous decision, but some bias is inevitable.
For Australians under 40, and international readers who know nothing about our hybrid health care system, I’ll start with a very brief overview:
The scheme [universal health care] was created in 1975 by the Whitlam Government under the brand Medibank, and was limited by the Fraser Government in 1976 to paying customers only. The Hawke Government reinstated universal health care in 1984 under the brand of Medicare. Medibank continued to exist as a government-owned private health insurance provider until it was privatised by the Abbott Government in 2014.
Note: The government owned Medibank provided private health insurance in direct competition with private health insurers.
In 1999, the conservative LNP government led by John Howard brought in the Private Health Insurance Rebate Scheme. Depending on your age and income, the government will rebate 30% of the cost of your health insurance premiums. This rebate is subtracted from your health insurance premiums so you only pay for the remainder. This is the ‘carrot’ part of the equation. If you don’t take up health insurance by the time you hit the age of 30, you will pay 2% more whenever you finally do take up health insurance. This is the ‘stick’.
The purpose of the Private Health Insurance Rebate Scheme was ostensibly to relieve the pressure on public hospitals which are run by the states using funding from the Federal government.
When the rebate scheme was first introduced, premiums were relatively low and the private cover was a true ‘safety net’. In the 20 years since then, premiums have crept higher and higher while the payout for procedures and treatments has shrunk. This is true for both for-profit and not-for-profit health insurers.
As someone with a pre-existing medical condition, I’ve had basic hospital cover for almost 40 years. For most of those years, my premiums ensured that I could be treated in a private hospital by the specialist of my choice without long waiting periods or astronomical out-of-pocket expenses.
That all changed today when I finally realised that my basic hospital cover only did one thing – it allowed me to have my own specialist:
in a public hospital
in a shared ward
after I’d gone through the standard waiting period for public hospital treatment.
The following shows exactly what my private health insurance covers:
Apologies for the poor quality of the graphic but I wanted you to be able to see the whole thing. Every item with an ‘R’ next to it has ‘restricted’ cover only. This means that my private health insurance would only pay a miniscule amount [above and beyond what Medicare already pays]. Dialysis for chronic kidney failure, insulin pumps and weight loss surgery are not covered at all.
I don’t have kidney failure or diabetes or weight problems, but I can see at least five things I may need as I age. Sadly, with my basic private health insurance cover, I’d end up having to pay for them out of my own pocket anyway.
For me, the crunch came when I realised that I was already a [free] public hospital patient, but I was paying for the privilege.
Clearly, the hospital cover I had was next to useless, but when I looked at the levels of cover that would give me a proper safety net, I discovered that a) even some of the top plans didn’t cover me for everything and b) even if they did, I couldn’t afford them.
The sad truth is that I can barely manage to pay the $71.50 per month for the basic hospital cover I have/had. $71.50 doesn’t sound like much – it’s under $20 a week – but when you live on the age pension, $20 makes a difference. Wasting it on private health insurance that covers me for nothing is crazy.
So today I stopped being crazy and joined the ranks of Australians giving private health insurance a big miss. These Australians include young people on government support, older Australians on government support, and a growing segment of our population surviving in the GIG economy. In short, all those people who can’t afford the kind of health insurance that actually provides value for money.
The income categories are shown across the top and indicate that under 65 years of age, all rebates cut out above $140,001 for singles and $280,001 for families. Taking bracket creep into account, that’s not a huge income by 2020 standards.
This may be my bias showing, but I am feeling rather ripped off. I’ve been a good girl and paid my premiums for years, but it seems as if the only ones benefiting from the 30% health insurance rebate are the health insurance companies themselves.
As the health insurance rebate is being paid from our taxes, I can’t help wondering whether we wouldn’t be better off if the rebate were abolished, freeing up all that money for the public health system.
On the Thorpe-Bowker welcome page, click the ‘Sign in/Register’ option located in the top, right hand corner of the screen:
On the next screen you have the option of signing in or creating a new account. Click the blue ‘Register’ button:
You should now see an option for ‘I am a new customer’:
Below it, there is a message from Thorpe-Bowker saying that new customers will have to pay a one-off fee of $55 before they can purchase an ISBN. This is a relatively new fee and meant to cover the setting up of your account.
As Thorpe-Bowker is the only company selling ISBNs in Australia, there is now way of finding a better deal. Those who only intend to sell through Amazon’s standard distribution channels may prefer to use one of their free ISBNs instead.
Those who wish to purchase print copies from the Australian branch of IngramSpark [located in Melbourne] will have to purchase their own ISBN as the KDP ISBN is only valid for KDP.
To continue, click the blue ‘I am a new Bowker Customer’ button.
Next up you will be asked to fill in a registration form. This is pretty standard with mandatory fields marked with a red asterisk. One of those fields is ‘Organisation Type’.
If you’re a self-publisher, don’t worry. Click on the small arrow next to ‘Organisation Type’ and you will see a drop down list which includes the option for ‘Self Publisher’ :
Click the ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ button for promotional material and then complete the registration process by clicking the green ‘I Accept – Create My Account!’ button.
Once your registration is complete, return to the Thorpe-Bowker website and click Buy ISBNs & Identifiers on the main screen. Then select ‘Buy ISBNs’ from the drop down list:
Note: the option for ‘Buy ISBNs in Bulk’ will take you to a login screen for ‘VIPs’ who may buy ISBNs in their hundreds.
Next, you will be shown a page of sales options. Select the option/product of your choice by clicking the appropriate ‘Add to Cart’ button:
Bowker will display a summary of your order:
Click the blue ‘Checkout’ button.
The Checkout is fairly standard except for the fact that the only payment option appears to be Paypal:
This is rather misleading as there is, in fact, an option to pay by credit card, but you do it as a Paypal ‘Guest’.
Click the ‘Submit Order’ button and you will be shown the following screen:
To pay with your credit card, click the ‘Pay with a Card’ button.
You will now see a Paypal screen something like this:
Fill in the required details and complete your purchase.
You will now be returned to Thorpe-Bowker and a summary screen:
Note: you are under no obligation to take the survey.
To assign your new ISBN, click ‘My Account’ as shown above and select ‘My Identifiers/ISBN dashboard’ from the menus.
You should now be looking at a screen that displays information about your ISBN[s] :
The screenshot shows a number of ISBNs, all of them unassigned – i.e. not yet linked to an actual book.
To link an ISBN to your book, click ‘Assign Title’ opposite the ISBN you wish to use.
Note: once assigned, ISBNs cannot be re-assigned.
You will now have to enter information about the book assigned to that ISBN:
The first thing to note before you begin filling in the Bowker forms is that you only have to enter information in the fields marked with a red asterisk, such as ‘Book Title’ above.
The second is that you do not have to upload the cover of your book at all.
This is important because you will need an ISBN before you can finalise the cover of your book. It is needed to generate the barcode provided by both KDP and IngramSpark. These barcodes are generated for free so you only have to purchase barcodes from Thorpe-Bowker if you intend to publish with a company that doesn’t provide a barcode.
Finally, the default view is Basic – i.e. only the most commonly used fields are displayed:
If you need to enter details not shown on the Basic view, you may wish to change to the Advanced view which contains all available fields.
To begin entering information about your book, click in the field marked ‘Book Title’ and type the name of your book. This is a mandatory field.
Medium refers to the book’s material composition – i.e. whether it is a print book, an ebook, or an audio book.
Select ‘Print’ from the drop down list.
Format refers to the type of print book – i.e. hardcover or paperback.
Select ‘Paperback’ from the drop down list.
Subjects & Genres
Subjects & Genres refers to the category of book you intend to publish. You can select two genres, but only one is mandatory.
Select the most appropriate genre for your book from the drop down list:
Authors & Contributors
Contributor 1 is the author. As an Individual, the author’s full name and suffix may be entered, but only the ‘Last Name’ is mandatory.
Type your Last Name and as much other information as you wish to enter.
The next mandatory field is ‘Function’. It refers to the role the Contributor played in the creation of the book. The only checkbox that needs to be ticked is that of ‘Author’.
When to add another Author or Contributor
As a general rule:
If you co-authored a book with another author, then that author’s name must be listed as a second Contributor.
If you supplied material to an anthology, then all the other authors of that anthology must be listed as well.
If the anthology was commissioned by an editor, then the editor’s name must be listed.
If you wrote the text for an illustrated book – for example, a children’s book – the the illustrator must also be named as a Contributor.
If the book was originally written in another language and translated into English, the translator must be named as a Contributor.
If, however, you hired an editor to ‘clean up’ the book and a designer to create the cover, you do not have to name them as Contributors.
Sales & Pricing
There are four mandatory fields in this final section: Publication Date, Target Audience, Title Status and Book Price.
As the ISBN is needed in order to publish the book, there are two possible ways of interpreting this field.
the publication date is notional – i.e. a date in the near future when you intend to officially publish the book, or
it refers to the original publication date of the book. For example, let’s say you publish a non-fiction book in 2010. Ten years later you revise and update that book and publish it as a second edition. Each edition of a book requires its own ISBN, but the publication date of the book points back to the publication of the first edition.
Clicking the Help icon produces this explanation from Bowker:
Unless your book is specifically designed for one of the listed targets, click the option for ‘Trade’. Trade refers to trade paperbacks and is the general purpose classification.
Clicking the small down arrow opposite this field causes a drop down list to display:
‘Active Record’ is the status of any book that is [or soon will be] for sale.
Note: if the book is not due to be published for a substantial period of time – e.g. a year – ‘Forthcoming’ would be more appropriate.
As a self-publisher, you may want to vary the price of your book for marketing purposes. Or you may sell it to a number of different market places with different currencies/price points. For all these reasons, you do not want to be tied to one price in Bowker’s records.
Click the option for ‘Write for info [No set price or free] as shown:
When you have finished, click the green Submit button.
Bowker will display a congratulations screen and that will be that. If you click on My Identifiers, you will now see your book linked to the ISBN.
You can now type the ISBN into the Copyright page of your book and submit it to KDP or IngramSpark for the barcode on the cover.
Note: Be sure to copy the ISBN for your book exactly as it is shown, including hyphens.
Log out from Thorpe-Bowker.
In the next section we will look at the National Library of Australia, Legal Deposit requirement.
In this section you will learn about the the 30% US Withholding Tax, and how Australian Self-Publishers can get the tax reduced to 5%.
30% Withholding Tax
All authors who sell their books on Amazon.com are subject to a 30% Withholding Tax. This tax is automatically deducted from their earnings by Amazon.
Authors living in countries that have a Trade Treaty with the US, such as Australia, can apply for an exemption that reduces the tax to 5%.
If you are eligible for this exemption, KDP will send you an email explaining about the Withholding Tax. At the end of the email there will be a link to a page where you will be able to complete the tax exemption forms.
Australian authors will need an Australian Tax File number.
On the tax exemption page, you will be asked to consent to filling in the form electronically.
You will also be asked to consent to providing an electronic signature for Form W-9. The electronic signature does not require any arcane graphical knowledge. You simply type your name and then click a button that confirms you are who you say you are.
Filling in the forms
A few things to remember about these forms:
You are completing the W-9 form as an individual so you can leave questions relating to businesses blank.
‘Beneficial Owner’ refers to you as the owner of the work.
When you are asked if you have a TIN, answer yes as this is your Australian Tax File number.
You will be asked to type your ‘Australian TIN’ in the box provided. Type your Tax File Number exactly as it appears on your Tax File Number certificate.
For the US Persons Test, you should click the last entry which says ‘None of the above’.
Once these forms have been completed and submitted, Amazon can reduce your Withholding Tax to 5%.
In the next section we will look at purchasing an ISBN in Australia.
The information in Part 3 is tailored specifically for Australian Authors. In this section you will learn about the legal requirement to deposit a copy of your book with the National Library of Australia.
The National Library of Australia accepts both print and digital formats – i.e. paperbacks, magazines, maps etc and ebooks. Given the cost of printing a book and posting it, self publishers with both a print and a digital version of their book may wish to deposit only the digital version. To do so, contact the library and ask for the deposit to be digital only.
How to deposit Print material
Send printed material to:
Books Legal Deposit National Library of Australia Canberra ACT 2600
Journal, magazine and newsletter issues Australian Serials National Library of Australia Canberra ACT 2600
Sheet music Music Acquisitions and Cataloguing National Library of Australia Canberra ACT 2600
Maps Maps Acquisitions and Cataloguing National Library of Australia Canberra ACT 2600
How to deposit Digital material
To deposit your ebook, go to the National Library of Australia home page: https://www.nla.gov.au and select ‘Legal deposit’ from the Using the Library/Services for Publishers sub-menu:
The hail storm that ravaged Melbourne, and in particular, Warrandyte, was so furious, it literally stripped the branches on the exposed side of the gum trees and piled the debris all over everything. That debris, which is highly flammable, now carpets my block and that of all my neighbours. Cleaning it up is a nightmare.
These are the in-progress pics of the Great Clean Up and the fresh green grass that’s growing up from underneath. Clearing the area directly around the house and the fire fighting pumps has been my first priority:
There’s a bit of green pretty much everywhere, but the lushest green is on the terraces near the house where grey water from the laundry has soaked in, keeping the grass from completely drying out. The melted hail, and the good rain that came after, did the rest.
The largest terrace was created from the clay and rock excavated for the site cut. The site cut is literally a flat spot dug out of the slope of the hill to make space for the house.
The pic below shows the set of field stone steps leading down from the top terrace to the ‘orchard’ area. Much of the debris came from the steps themselves and the banks on either side:
And finally, a close up of the ‘bin’ we made out of star pickets and left-over corrugated iron sheets.
The inside measurement of the ‘bin’ is 1.5 x just under 3 metres, so it’s big. Even so, it’s about 1/3 full already and may not be big enough to contain all the debris from the house area, let alone the rest of the block. We can make it a bit bigger, but I don’t want to bring such a huge heap of flammable material any closer to the trees [in case a bushfire goes through and turns it into a bbq].
Once the bin is full, I’ll close off the front, plant a sprinkler on top and keep everything moist until the fire season is over. Gum leaves don’t compost very well so I may have to burn them off in bits over winter. Joy.
Thanks to my neighbour’s house acting like a shield, the hail didn’t cause as much damage in the front as in the back. If we’re lucky, and nothing bad happens before Easter, I may be able to get rid of most of the debris in front via the weekly green bin. It’s not very big, but as I don’t have a trailer or even a car that could tow a trailer, I have no other way of getting rid of the green waste.
Thanks for your great generosity, Nillumbik Shire Council. <<biting sarcasm>> One of the richest shires in Victoria gave us one extra green bin collection to help us reduce our fuel load. I’m sure it bled their coffers dry.
Anyway, time to take up my trusty rake and get back to work.
Warrandyte was hit by the mother of all hail storms yesterday afternoon [January 19th, 2020], and I have to admit, we were scared. The roof is corrugated iron, and the hail stones, some as big as golf balls, sounded like machine gun bullets trying to smash their way in. And that’s without the thunder and lightning adding their bit. And it just wouldn’t stop.
Mogi [dog] was shivering like a leaf and Golli [cat] was yowling in terror. The Offspring and I just stood in the kitchen, peering out at the devastation and muttering ‘I don’t believe this’.
These are some of the photos I took once the worst of the storm had eased:
As odd as it may sound, the humidity after the hail storm was intense, and the temperature was actually warm, so the layer of icy hail stones created a mist that became heavier as it flowed up the hill towards the house. Very strange.
Just realised that some of the hail was bigger than your average golf ball! Those are full sized bricks on the side of the last picture, yet look at the size of some of those hail stones by comparison!
We never get snow, but I found myself having to shovel hail stones off the deck as if they were snow. And this, in the middle of one of our hottest summers…wtf?
We’ve since learned that Warrandyte was pretty much at the epicentre of yesterday’s storm and suffered quite a bit of damage. In low lying areas, some of the houses suffered broken windows and flooding. And every car left out in the open, is now pockmarked with dents.
Personally, we took very little damage. The Offspring’s car is dented, and one small tile broke on the small side deck, but other than that, we came through the storm surprisingly well. It’ll take me forever to rake up the carpet of shredded leaves and branches covering the ground, but my baby apples survived, and I’d harvested most of the apricots already, so I think we’ve been very lucky.
On that note, I’ll leave you with a pic of the apricot cake I made two days ago. It’s garnished with apricot compote, and all the apricots came from my own tree. Can’t complain. 🙂
Eyes may be the windows to the soul, but windows are the weakest link in our homes. Because they’re fragile. Because they break.
It seems like such an obvious thing now, but I remember how shocked I was when an expert pointed out that the inside of our homes is the driest place on earth. Once a window breaks, even one ember is enough to burn the house down from the inside out.
Makes sense, doesn’t it? Yet how many of us have adequate protection for our windows?
When I built my house in Warrandyte, I had to put metal mesh screens over all the windows that could be opened. But my house has double barrel windows where the top pane opens but the bottom pane is fixed. The top pane is protected by the required metal screen [basically an ordinary fly wire screen but made of metal]. The bottom pane is not.
Now, imagine a bushfire scenario. The wind is howling, and the gums are dropping branches large and small. One of those branches is blown towards the house and slams into one of my windows. The top pane may remain intact, but what of the bottom pane?
I solved my window problem by investing in fire resistant shutters. These shutters cover the entire window area, top pane, bottom pane and the wooden frame. They look like this:
The shutters roll up and down inside the frame [like vertical sliding doors] and are rated to protect the windows for about 20 minutes. That’s the length of time it usually takes the fire front to pass.
The regulations have been tightened up a lot since Black Saturday, and I believe that new houses in fire prone areas must have toughened glass instead of ordinary glass. But what of existing houses? As far as I know, there are no regulations about retrofitting toughened glass to houses built before 2009.
Does that mean there is no danger to those houses? Of course not.
If you live in a bushfire prone area, please think hard about your windows, and what you can do to protect them.