Tag Archives: 2022

The Making of Christmas

It’s been a fraught lead up to Christmas this year. Since my ‘I hate December’ post, both Golli and Mogi have had to go to the vet and Mogi is still not well. But Christmas must go on, so here are some pics of the Chocolate Mousse cake ‘in progress.’

The chocolate mousse. The two holes were for quality control…honest. 😉

Two homemade chocolate sponge cakes, cut in half. Each layer will be placed in the baking tin and covered with room temperature chocolate mousse. Like this:

When all the layers are done, including for the top and sides, dark chocolate is shaved over the top:

After popping the cake back in the fridge for a couple of hours, this is what the layers look like:

It tastes sinful. 🙂

If anyone wants the recipe you can find it here.

May your Christmas be full of good food, good friends and good cheer.

love,
Meeks


I hate December!

I was going to say “I hate Christmas!” but that’s not completely true. It’s not so much that I hate Christmas, it’s that I hate the lead up to Christmas, especially this year. December in Australia is the first month of summer, and summer means bushfires and snakes [we’ve seen two already].

In normal years I would have spent most of spring mowing a little bit every day. We’re on 1.6 hectares, and that equates to a lot of grass. The alpacas do their best, but in spring they can’t eat the new grass fast enough, and once the grass sets seed they won’t touch it.

So that’s in a normal year – a little bit of mowing spread out over a couple of months. This year has been different though. Australia is experiencing its third La Nina event in a row which has meant rain, rain and more rain. All that rain has triggered unprecedented floods all along the eastern seaboard with lives lost, crops lost and whole towns inundated.

We don’t have to worry about floods here in Warrandyte as we’re on a ridge, but all that rain means the grass grows an inch over night. And it’s too wet to mow during the day, especially with a small, cordless lawnmower.

In desperation, I paid for a guy to come in and whipper snipper1 the worst of it, but that’s left sheaths of grass drying on the ground. Exhibit A:

What’s worse, the new grass is already growing through. It has to be mowed. 😦

And now we get to the other reason I hate December so much: things break down. This year, my faithful Ozito cordless lawnmover has struggled even with the lower grass, hardly surprising given that I bought it in 2016 and have used it in ways it was never designed to be used. So I had to go out and buy a new cordless mower.

I tried the new model Ozito, but it died after just one mowing session. Note to Ozito: I am so disappointed.

Thank gods Bunnings let me swap the new Ozito for a Ryobi cordless. The Ryobi is a great little mower but it’s battery takes ages to re-charge and the catcher is a stupid design so the outlet from the blade constantly clogs up. But at least it does cut like a champion. Exhibit B, a pic taken looking back up at the house:

But December hasn’t finished with me yet.

We had a couple of days of ‘hot’ weather recently so we filled up the firefighting pumps with petrol and tested them. One started without a hitch. The other tried to start but just wouldn’t catch. Grrrrr….

I do have a fabulous mechanic who fixed the last problem with the pumps, but he’s flat out until….you guessed it, Christmas.

I’m not too worried as I don’t think we’ll have any major fires until maybe mid-January, and one of the pumps does work, but still…I did not need this, not the worry and certainly not the hit to my budget. If the Reserve Bank is reading this post <<hysterical laughter>> I didn’t intend to contribute to inflation this year!

Anyway, it looks as if it might rain again soon so I’d better get out there. Who needs a gym when you’ve got grass? -grump-

Meeks

Whipper snipper1 : I think it’s called a ‘brush cutter’ elsewhere in the world.


Victorian Government Electricity Rebate – $250

Just a very quick post about the $250 rebate offered by the Andrews Government here in Victoria.

Click the ‘Submit a $250 Power Saving Bonus application’ button.

From there you will be taken through a number of pages that either request information or ask you to accept terms and conditions.

One of the things you will be asked to provide is a PDF of your electricity bill. If, like me, you receive your bills via email, you will have to download the attached document that details specifics about your bill – i.e. how much energy you’ve used, how much it costs, any solar contributions, etc. That attachment is the PDF they’re requesting. There is also an option to submit a hardcopy of the bill but as I didn’t select it, I don’t know how that would work.

I know the government is trying to get people to use the Energy Compare website – it’s pretty good actually, and I’ve used it in the past – but I can’t help wondering how pensioners without computers, or the skills to use them, are supposed to access this rebate. Smartphone perhaps? But what if you don’t have a smartphone, or don’t know how to use it for things other than making a phone call?

Having spent the last five years of my working life helping to teach computer literacy to Beginners, I know there are a lot of them.

I’m also a little puzzled about why this rebate isn’t being shouted from the rooftops. Then again, I don’t watch much TV so perhaps that’s why I didn’t know about it [thanks for telling me, Megan!].

Anyway, the rebate exists so put in your application and get some relief from the bill shock we’re all experiencing.

cheers,
Meeks


Scary PayPal Scam

This screenshot is of an email I received today. As I have used Paypal in the past [some years ago] and as the so-called transaction info. is addressed to an ‘Andrea’, I did have a moment of total dislocation. Had the scammers hacked my financial information?

And then I thought to look at the sender:

edwards5078jcb@gmail.com

I’m pretty sure that Paypal, the real Paypal, doesn’t use gmail to communicate with customers! Nevertheless, I did get a fright so I thought I’d share this scam so no-one else gets a fright…or god forbid…clicks on one of those nice, official looking links.

Why not? Because those links will not lead to anywhere good. They could lead to a site that downloads a trojan to take over the computer, or they could lead to a bogus Paypal page where they’re asked to enter their ID and password. The ID and password will fail, of course, but the scammers will now know how to access that Paypal account. Lose-lose.

If you even suspect that an email might be a scam, don’t click on any of the links! Danger Will Robinson. Danger!

As to how the scammers found me, that I don’t know. Did they send out millions of emails all addressed to women of different names in the hope that a few would hit the jackpot?

Or is there a database out there that contains my email address and first name but not my last name? That sounds a bit far fetched. I mean if they knew my email address and my first name, why would they not know my last name?

Or…given how often we’re asked to provide our email address, did some algorithm go through the data here, on this blog and profile me?

A quick check revealed that I’ve written twelve posts [counting this one] that are either about Paypal, or mention Paypal. Another check showed that ‘Andrea’ has been mentioned in 16 posts counting this one. One of those posts is actually about the singer Andrea Bocelli, but that’s still a lot of identifiers. Curiously, the one thing you won’t find on my blog is my actual email address. So how did they find me?

I may never know how these scammers do what they do, but I know one thing for sure, the person who owns the email address used by the scammers has been hacked. After I publish this post I’m going to email him/her and show them the same screenshot that you have seen. After that it’s up to them to work out how the scammers managed to hack their gmail account and use it to farm out scams to other people. Sadly, this person really doesn’t have anything to hide, not any more.

cheers,
Meeks


Australia – May 20, 2022…and beyond.

The Offspring tells me that hashtag #scomonomo is trending on Twitter. That gives me great joy.

For international visitors, or those who have never been on Twitter, ‘scomo’ refers to Scott Morrison, the man who went to Hawaii while Australia burned, the man who justified his absence by remarking that it wasn’t his job to ‘hold the hose’ – i.e. fight those fires like the mostly volunteer fire fighting crews across Australia.

‘no mo’ stands for ‘no more’. As of last night, Scott Morrison is no longer the Prime Minister of Australia. Voters rejected him, and his corrupt coalition government across the length and width of this wonderful country of ours.

The graphic below describes the election result in visual terms. The link below the graphic will take you to one of the simplest and best descriptions of our system that I’ve ever come across:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-05-22/election-how-labor-anthony-albanese-won/101087904

What makes me even happier than #scomonomo is the way it came about. Australians all over Australia voted for Independents rather than the two, major parties, and there’s a decent chance we’ll end up with 16 – SIXTEEN – independent representatives in the national House of Representatives. And a great majority of them are women.

Women who demand action on climate change.

Women who demand a national integrity commission.

Women who are an integral part of their communities and truly reflect the wants and needs of those communities.

Women who want a decent future for their children.

Woman who are standing up and telling those middle-aged, self-important, ego-driven, white, male, politicians in Canberra that we’re sick of the mess they’ve made of our country.

And one last thing. All these Independents are going to breathe new life back into our democracy because they are not beholden to a ‘party line’. They don’t owe party political faction leaders any allegiance. They are free to vote for or veto policies that do not reflect the people who elected them into office. That is huge.

Here in the West we seem to have forgotten what democracy actually means. It’s not about nationalism, and it’s not about elites. Democracy is about ordinary, every day people having a voice and being heard. it’s also about those people being served by the representatives they elect into office.

Service, a word that’s been forgotten along with ‘integrity’.

The representatives of the people are there to serve us. Not corporations or other vested interested or themselves. They are there to serve the people. Full stop. Period.

Will it actually happen, or do we face yet more broken promises and unfulfilled dreams?

The Australian Labor party will form the new national government of Australia, but they will likely have to consult, and co-operate with, the Independents we-the-people have chosen. If they don’t, they won’t get anything done.

I hope the start of Albo’s [Anthony Albanese, the new Prime Minister of Australia] victory speech is a sign that Labor has learned to serve:

‘…and on behalf of the Australian Labor Party, I commit to the Uluru Statement from the Heart, in full.’

The Uluru Statement from the Heart is a message from the Indigenous Peoples of Australia to all Australians. It is one of the most beautiful documents I’ve ever read:

‘We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future. We call on all sides of politics to support a First Nations Voice to Parliament, so that we can finally have a say on policies and laws that affect us.’

https://ulurustatement.org/

I believe that all Australians need to commit to the Uluru Statement from the Heart so that all of us can finally move forward, as a real nation.

I also believe that we, the white Settlers of Australia, need our First Peoples, desperately. They have been here for close to 60,000 years, and what they don’t know about this strange, harsh, beautiful land is not worth knowing. If we give them the respect they deserve, they may teach us how better to live in this land. How better to face the terrible changes yet to come, because make no mistake, even if the whole world were to stop greenhouse gas emissions tomorrow, we will have to live with the damage already done for generations to come. We will need all the help we can get. From science and our First Peoples.

Finally, after years of inaction, there is hope.

All my love,
Meeks


post-Covid cognitive impairment

Just read a thought-provoking article in New Atlas about the cognitive deficits experienced by people who have had severe Covid:

‘A new study has presented the most rigorous investigation to date into the long-term cognitive impacts of severe COVID-19. The research, led by scientists from Imperial College London and the University of Cambridge, found persistent cognitive deficits in hospitalized patients equivalent to declines consistent with 20 years of brain aging.’

https://newatlas.com/health-wellbeing/cognitive-impact-severe-covid-equal-20-years-brain-aging/?utm_source=New+Atlas+Subscribers&utm_campaign=1643987275-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2022_05_05_12_42&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_65b67362bd-1643987275-92416841

The study followed the post-Covid recovery of 46 people who had all had severe Covid, including 16 who had been ventilated. Their cognitive functions were compared to that of ‘age and demographically matched healthy control subjects.’ It was found that the more severe the disease, the greater the cognitive impairment:

‘These COVID patients were slower to respond to tasks and less accurate in their responses, compared to their matched controls. More specifically, the COVID patients performed poorly on “verbal analogical reasoning” tasks which are designed to test particular word-based reasoning cognitive domains.’

And as if that were not enough, there is some evidence to suggest that:

A study published earlier this year from researchers at the University of Oxford found minor cognitive deficits in subjects experiencing mild COVID-19 up to six months after an acute infection.

You can find the complete article here.

I know everyone wants to believe that the worst of Covid is over, but with Omicron morphing into BA.4 and BA.5 already, it’s not done with us yet. Please treat this disease with the caution it deserves. Even if you’re fully vaccinated. Even if you’ve had it before. Because there may be outcomes worse than death. 😦

Meeks


The Music of Ukraine [2]

Another exceptional video from Khrystyna Soloviy :

It’s a great song but the visual are truly inspired.

cheers,
Meeks


WHY Omicron is displacing Delta

Just watched the latest podcast by Dr John in which he explains new research out of South Africa:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYLbJ0H8zdc

This is not a three-second-sound-byte type podcast. It is nuanced and looks at the science behind the news, but it is well worth watching from start to finish because it explains the trends that we have been seeing, both in South Africa and more recently in the UK.

By trends I mean, of course, Omicron’s extremely high infection rates coupled with relatively low rates of severe disease and death. According to the research in Dr John’s podcast, these trends are not a fluke. And that spells good news for 2022.

Unfortunately, we’re not there yet. Delta is still around, and it is still causing severe disease and death, so going out and going nuts in the hope of catching Omicron could still see a lot of people ending up with Delta instead. Dying of Delta when the end is literally in sight would be a terrible irony so the Offspring and I are going to stay safely at home until Omicron finishes defeating Delta.

Stay well,
Meeks


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