Tag Archives: Australia

Step back in time…

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:

Building 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:

Noses exposed? Really?
Now that’s what I call serious protection!
Everything closed until further notice…
See the modern tech?
Old school social media…
The bullet Australia has missed…so far.

I decided to include the following, more recent image because I wish we had something like it today:

Circa the 1950s?

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.

Remember them?

For those who don’t know who or what Mr Whippy was, you can see pics and read all about it on Woorillacaught’s blog: https://www.woorillacaught.com/mr-whippy/

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?

cheers
Meeks


Covid-19 – micro droplets

With so many countries re-opening after lockdown, the risk of a second wave grows every day, especially as research now shows that the standard social distancing recommendations are…far too optimistic.

The research, conducted in Japan, uses lasers and special cameras to capture how the virus is spread, and how far it goes. The video below has some English dubbing and/or English sub-titles. Although the whole, hour+ video is interesting, the segment about the actual research begins at 29:10 and ends at approximately 35:18:

The research shows that even speaking can spread the virus via both large droplets and tiny micro droplets. The large droplets fall to the ground fairly quickly, even in an enclosed space with little air circulation, but the micro droplets remain in the air for over 20 minutes. Because they’re so small, they also spread a great deal further than the recommended 1.5 or 2 metres.

The take home message is that confined spaces – like public transport, office buildings, shopping malls, supermarkets and classrooms – are the perfect breeding grounds for micro droplet borne virus particles.

The good news is that masks do reduce the distance that both large and small droplets can travel. And /that/ is why countries that mandate the wearing of masks in public have less viral transmission than Western countries in which people are ‘self conscious’ about wearing masks. Apparently it’s okay to become infected and infect others, but heaven forbid that we should look silly

And now a word about the hypocrisy of my government in scolding protestors attending the Black Lives Matter demonstrations:

  • those protests ALL happened in the open air where normal air circulation [with or without wind] would have dispersed the droplets quickly,
  • this is in contrast to people returning to work – at the behest of this government – in confined spaces with air conditioning instead of natural ventilation. Does anyone else remember the legionnaire outbreaks caused by contaminated, commercial air conditioning units?
  • a great many of the protestors wore masks,
  • this compares to people travelling or working in confined spaces without masks.
  • the organisers of the protests, at least here in Australia, were handing out masks and hand sanitiser to help reduce the risk of infection,
  • I’m not aware of any public transport employee handing out masks or hand sanitiser to travellers. Ditto supermarkets. Office buildings etc etc etc.

It’s the height of hypocrisy to say that it’s okay to catch the virus from public transport, or offices, factories, shops, restaurants etc…to save jobs…and the economy…and the effing budget bottom line…but it’s not okay to catch it while protesting state sanctioned murder.

And we all nod wisely and say ‘tut tut’.

I find that more disturbing than I can say. When did we turn into such placid sheep?

Meeks

p.s. My thanks to Dr. John Campbell for talking about the Japanese research in his latest video update: https://youtu.be/kmo_1Tcdp30


Accessible art

I’m a real Philistine when it comes to modern art; basically I don’t like it. But I do love these:

The screenshot above is of a mural painted on a blank wall! It comes from blogger, MyOBT [MyOneBeautifulThing]: https://myonebeautifulthing.com/2020/06/09/patrick-commecy/

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.

cheers
Meeks


Vitamin D – why you want it and how to get it

The first part of this video is a little bit technical, but don’t be put off by all the scientific names. Keep watching and you’ll learn why Vitamin D may be useful against our favourite virus. You’ll also learn about its importance for other conditions, such as osteoporosis. I most definitely did not know that.

The thing I found most interesting was the explanation about why people in different geographic locations may be Vitamin D deficient. Apparently, it’s all due to the season, the angle of the sun as it hits the earth, and a country’s distance from the equator.

The video talks about the USA, but I was interested in Australia, so I went looking for a map of the world showing the equator. Then I copied the area from the equator to roughly the middle of the USA. This was the distance from the equator that gets sufficient Vitamin D in summer and winter.

Next, I placed the copy next to Australia. This is what it looks like:

World map taken from : https://mapuniversal.com/equator-line-countries-on-the-equator/

Zooming in on my home town of Melbourne, we get this:

Close up of Australia from https://mapuniversal.com/equator-line-countries-on-the-equator/

I drew the green line across from the subset map to see if Melbourne does, in fact, fall within the area that receives enough Vitamin D in winter. It does, but only just, and Tasmania seems to miss out entirely.

So yes, we all need Vitamin D, for a variety of health reasons, but no, not all of us can get it from the sun during winter. And if we go from house to car to office and back again, then there’s a good chance we won’t be getting enough Vitamin D, even in summer.

If Covid-19 has taught us anything, apart from how to bake bread, it’s that we can’t rely on technology to save us from everything. Sometimes, living an old fashioned, healthy lifestyle really is the best medicine.

cheers
Meeks


The real face of Covid-19 – apology

Apologies everyone! The video /was/ available when I published this post but apparently it is now ‘private’. I’ve just tried a number of channels on Youtube and they’re all blocked. I have no idea what happened. Maybe Sky News waved the big copyright stick? 😦

This is the only still image I have:

I was trying to get a pic of the padded restraint.

Updated April 23, 2020, Australia

One image that will stay with me forever is that of a patient, a large man in his fifties perhaps, trying to take the plastic hood thing off his head. The staff had to tie down his hands. They did it to try and save his life, but I know what he was doing. The hood thing wasn’t enough. He felt like he was suffocating, and in his desperation he thought that he would breathe better if it came off…

I almost drowned when I was 21. How and why doesn’t matter. What matters is that I still remember what it felt like not to be able to breathe out. I remember the desperation. There is no logic at that point. It’s all animal instinct.

I hope that man survived, but I fear he didn’t. One of the scary statistics I’ve read since this pandemic began was that of all the people sick enough to be intubated [put on a ventilator], only about 50% survive.

50% – toss a coin. Heads or tails. Life or death.

Financial interests in Australia, the UK and the US are calling for the lockdowns to be eased. They think the danger is over because the curve is starting to flatten. But the people pushing for a return to ‘normal’ see human lives only as a statistic. I hope that at least some of them watch this video and realise that this thing can still get away from us. And if it does, we could all end up like Bergamo in Lombardy.

Meeks


Doing a runna

Guess what! I went out today!

To be honest, it wasn’t by choice; we’d run out of toilet paper so I had to go. Wearing a zipped up jacket and hood, glasses [fogged], a mask, and bright yellow kitchen gloves, I entered Woolworths soon after 7 am.

I had barely pushed my trolley inside when I was stopped by a security guard. What the…?

Apparently today is the day for pension card holders and others receiving special dispensation, so I had to show my pension card before I was allowed to shop. It felt a little creepy at the time, but then I realised how odd I must look. Perhaps the guard thought I was a profiteer attempting to game the system.

I had originally thought to run in, grab a pack of toilet paper and run out again, but when I saw how few people were wandering the aisles, I decided to see what else I could find. At this point I should probably explain that for about 3 weeks now, I’ve been doing all my shopping online and having it home delivered. This is a real boon for people who need to self isolate, but it is also a source of extreme anxiety.

For starters, the online catalogue doesn’t seem to have every product I’m used to buying. Or perhaps I’m not looking properly. Plus a huge number of items are almost always ‘out of stock’, such as gloves, flour, and tissues. Then there’s the added hurdle of delivery times, which can be 3, 4, or even 5 days after the day on which the order was placed. For example, I placed an order early Sunday morning. It included toilet paper, but the earliest delivery date is for this coming Thursday. Today is Tuesday.

And finally, there’s the issue of never knowing what I’ll actually get in that home delivery. You see, when there are perishables included in the order, the person who actually fulfils the order doesn’t do so until it’s ready to go out. Makes sense, right? The trouble is that things that were in stock Sunday morning may not be in stock by Thursday afternoon.

I know that many of my American friends shop online all the time, and enjoy a convenient, efficient delivery service. Sadly, Australia is not there yet, which may explain the whole toilet paper thing. When you don’t know when your next roll will arrive, it’s hard not to be anxious.

Anyway, my shopping adventure was a success, and I returned home safely with my treasures, which I then washed on the front verandah before taking them inside the house. Then I washed the steering wheel, door handles, my clothes and finally me. Now I can sit and enjoy some crusty bread, frankfurts, cracked pepper pate and a fresh cup of coffee. Oh, and the loo paper.

Life really is about the little things. 🙂

Meeks


Covid-19 & Magical Thinking in OZ

First up an important video from Dr John Campbell – remember, he’s a PhD in the medical field, not a doctor Dr – on immunity and the immune system:

The second video is a world, Covid-19 update, and this is where the title of this post comes from:

When Dr John gets to Australia [1:38 of the video] his understated disapproval is embarrassingly obvious. To quote just a bit that I managed to transcribe:

‘Scott in Australia…Scott Morrison…well, it’s not for me to go around judging world leaders but..[snip]…not too much pre-activity in Australia.’

So today I want to talk about my country, my Australia. I know what this crisis feels like on the ground, but until today, I had no real idea of what we were doing about it. The following screenshots are what I found:

This is the official Federal government website from which both screenshots were take: https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/coronavirus-covid-19-current-situation-and-case-numbers

The bit highlighted in red – ‘The source of infection for 26 cases is currently unknown’ is the most worrying because it shows that Covid-19 is already out in the community…as at March 18, 2020. And that’s only the cases we know about, perhaps because these are the cases needing medical help.

But what about those cases where people are asymptomatic – i.e. without symptoms – or suffering from only very mild symptoms?

These people are going about their lives, ‘business as usual’, and spreading the infection to god alone knows how many others.

It’s hard to predict how many other people are becoming infected because the ripple effect will be different for each person, a bit like this video of ripples in water:

If you were to slow the effect down and freeze it, you might get something like this:

The big circle in the middle is PERSON 1. If PERSON 1 infects just 3 other people, and each of them infect just 3 more people, you would quickly have 148 people infected. I’m no mathematician so if I’ve got that wrong PLEASE tell me in comments.

The actual spread of the virus will be far more complicated than my pretty little diagram, but if we already have 26 cases for which there is no known source, it means the spread through the community could be far, far worse than the figures imply. Many sources I’ve read say the actual number should be the official figure multiplied by 10 or even 20.

But of course, the governments figures would be suspect anyway because they haven’t done anywhere near enough testing. Only those with clinical symptoms of Covid-19 who request help are being tested. Those who only suspect they may be infected aren’t tested at all.

I tried to find out how much testing Australia has done and is doing, but the government sources provide next to no information. The following quote is from The Guardian:

‘Speaking at the council of Australian governments meeting on Friday, Australia’s chief medical officer, professor Brendan Murphy, said supply problems with coronavirus testing kits was a “temporary issue” but one that was hampering the scale of testing in Australia and across the globe.

“It’s a temporary issue, but it relates to the fact that a number of countries, where these consumables are made have probably put export controls over them to keep them for their own use,” he said. “We will work through it. We’ve got world-leading medical technology and will fix that issue, but it has caused a temporary issue with the scale of the testing that we can do at the moment.”

Quote taken from The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/mar/13/global-shortage-of-covid-19-test-kits-hits-australia-as-other-nations-limit-exports

So the take home message seems to be that we don’t currently make enough [or any?] test kits in Australia, but medical manufacturing is ramping up to produce home grown test kits.

The question, however, is how long will these homegrown test kits take to manufacture? The CDC in the US tried to do the same thing, and failed. Just exactly how are we, with a fraction of the resources, going to do better?

A related question is: why didn’t we start this process earlier, like when the deadly potential of Covid-19 first became apparent?

So… nowhere near enough testing happening in Australia. But then what data are the modellers basing their advice on?

The lack of testing is like the general of an army saying, ‘don’t bother sending out reconnaissance; we know the enemy is out there.’

But where is the enemy?

How many of them are there?

Do we know where they’re going?

The lack of adequate testing is not only hindering our ability to fight this pandemic, it’s leaving individuals with the frightening idea that everyone is potentially a carrier.

We’ve already seen the panic buying. Some of that is profiteering by disgusting people who should be hung up by their balls, or whatever part of their anatomy that hurts the most. But by and large, most of the panic buying is by people like me who take the threat seriously and want to protect their vulnerable loved ones.

Frankly, when #ScottyFromMarketing gets on his high horse and says ‘dont do it!’, like some kind of stern, all-knowing father figure, my first instinct is to flip him the bird. How dare he?

Despite the evidence of China, South Korean, and Italy, the Australian government is still treating us like mushrooms and pretending that we can do better than every other country on Earth.

Past experience has shown that by ‘better’, this government means ‘survive the virus without damaging the economy too much’. First stimulus package – protect industry and ‘jobs’. Second stimulus package…protect more jobs??

How about a commitment to give those made unemployed by the virus enough to live on [so they can self-isolate without starving to death]?

How about taking control of the distribution of essentials like food and medication? If people with existing conditions can’t get their normal medication, many will die. And you can’t protect the vulnerable when they have to break self-isolation to stand cheek-by-jowl in long queues to buy food and other essentials.

The logistics of keeping people alive are being left to the marketplace, but the for-profit sector is making hay while the sun shines. The one exception to this is IGA. I’m not sure if all IGA stores are doing the same thing, but my local store has already instituted a strict rule for customers:

1 of each product per customer

At the very least, every single distributor of essential items should be doing the same.

And how about providing real information so that fear and confusion does NOT lead to hoarding? So far, the messaging from the government has been either pathetic or contradictory. To get through this, we need to work together, but we can’t work together when we don’t have leaders we can trust.

I’m prepared to make sacrifices, but only if I believe that the government is more concerned with my survival than my contribution to the economy. At the moment a part of me believes that #ScottyFromMarketing is still enamoured of Boris’ bogus ‘herd immunity’ strategy…and bugger the consequences.

We can’t fight what we can’t see, and we can’t follow leaders we don’t trust.

Meeks


More info on Covid-19

My thanks to Don Charisma for posting the latest Dr John Campbell health video on his blog.

For those who haven’t yet heard of Dr John, he’s a retired UK nurse/teacher/researcher who is analysing the latest data about this virus and explaining it to us. He has a Youtube channel, and this is his latest video:

I strongly recommend watching the entire video because it is full of information relevant to different countries, but here are the bits of particular interest to me.

Confined spaces and aircon

There was some meticulous research done [in China] on the spread of infection in a bus. I don’t know what it is about the air conditioning in the bus, but it basically doubled the radius of infection to 4.5 metres. In simple terms, the virus from an infected passenger travelled much further than previously thought.

Note: the radius of infection is basically how far droplets containing virus will spread in the air before falling to the ground.

Virus survival on surfaces

Another thing that worried me is the information about how long the virus survives on surfaces such as metal, cloth, paper etc. It can survive – on surfaces – at 37C for days. That’s roughly 10C more than previously thought. That means this virus is hardier than we imagined. It also means that every infected person has the potential to infect people he or she is never in physical contact with.

Think about all the shopping trolley handles we touch, how many counters in shops, how many door knobs, tables, chairs… The list is endless, which means we have to be super vigilant, not just to protect ourselves, but to protect those we love. Do NOT soldier on, you could kill someone.

Government intervention

And finally, a word about government intervention. The countries that have been proactive about stopping the spread of Covid-19 are doing better than those which have not. We need to learn what works and do it in our own countries.

One thing which has worked particularly well in South Korea is ‘drive through testing’. You stay safe inside your car – your own little bubble of protection – and drive away without having to come in physical contact with others who may or may not be infected.

When I saw news footage of people waiting in long queues [here] to be tested, my first thought was, “well, if they didn’t have it before, they may well have it now”. Gatherings of people who may already be infected is such a bad idea…

Melbourne [Australia]

Daniel Andrews [Premier of my state of Victoria] has declared that his government is going to take more stringent measures against the spread of Covid-19. I’m glad, but I still think that allowing Moomba and the Grand Prix to go ahead in Melbourne was a bad idea.

I understand that we do not yet have the level of community spread that triggers more ‘stringent’ measures, but we also don’t have the community awareness required to take this threat seriously. Traditional, normal public gatherings like these simply reinforce the idea that we’re ‘safe’.

We’re not safe, and we have to get used to that idea. We have to get used to taking precautions such as wearing masks and gloves, washing our hands religiously, staying away from crowds and air conditioned centres. We have to start doing these things now so that when things do get worse, they’ll get worse at a slower rate.

Northern Italy

I cannot stress enough how important it is to slow the spread of this virus.

The following is a screenshot of a thread I read on Twitter last night. It’s from Northern Italy and describes a health care system teetering on the brink of collapse. Yet Northern Italy has a world class health system.

We have world class hospitals in Australia too, but people with the pneumonia stage of the infection need ventilators. These machines are capable of breathing for the patient until they are capable of breathing on their own again. But if everyone gets sick at once, how many are going to miss out on ventilators because there aren’t enough to go around? How many will die?

Deaths by age

Going back to the Dr John video, the stats showing the break down of deaths by age show that small children appear to be remarkably resilient:

From the age of 10 onwards, however, young people do die from Covid-19 as well. 0.2% of deaths amongst young people may not sound like much, but they are still people, real people.

Do you really want your ‘she’ll be right’ attitude to result in the death of your brother, sister, best friend, lover, wife, husband?

Or what about your parents? Aunts? Uncles? Grandparents?

We have to slow the spread of this virus, and we have to start now.

Meeks


Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Guest Writer – Background to a publishing journey. A reflection – Twenty years looks back by Frank Prem

Update! So sorry! I assumed there’d be a link… Here it is

I’m not much into poetry, but I like what I like, and right from the start, I’ve been moved by Frank Prem’s poetic way of telling a story. In ‘Small Town Kid’ I felt as if Frank was somehow tapping into my own childhood as a ‘New Australian’. In Devil in the Wind, it was my own memories of Black Saturday that came back to haunt me. Memories of waiting and fear and horror as the full scope of the devastation became apparent…

That’s Frank Prem’s great power – he weaves simple words and images into a visceral reminder of our own stories. Yet he’s an unassuming man with all the quiet strength of a true Aussie.

If you want to become a poet, or a writer, or an artist, but don’t think you can, read Frank’s story and take heart. It is possible. 🙂

Happy Sunday,

Meeks


Drones instead of fireworks!

In a recent post, I raged about Sydney staging New Year’s Eve fireworks when so much of Australia is burning. This is a fantastic alternative for New Year’s Eve 2020 and beyond:

My thanks to Carol Cooks 2 for bringing this amazing video clip/technology to my attention.

cheers

Meeks


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