Because sometimes, nothing but a quokka will do!
Click a picture to be taken to its ‘home’. And if you want more, just search for Quokka.
You’re welcome 🙂
Because sometimes, nothing but a quokka will do!
Click a picture to be taken to its ‘home’. And if you want more, just search for Quokka.
You’re welcome 🙂
I scribbled this down yesterday, just before racing off to work:
Monday 9:40am. Saw a smallish brindle fox sprint across the back yard, pursued by 4 magpies. They were our resident magpies, and they chased that fox right off the premises…theirs & mine.
Just before jumping over the side fence the fox stopped & seemed to look straight at me, despite being inside the house & 40 metres away.
I think it heard the whistle of my kettle as it came up to boil. Whatever the truth of it, by the time I turned back to the window from the stove, the fox was gone.
I wish I could have taken a photo for you, but it all happened too quickly. Instead, I went looking for photos online and found these:
The image of the brindle fox is courtesy of http://www.wildlifeonline.me.uk/red_fox.html and is exactly the odd mottled, brownish colour of the fox I saw. I love foxes but know nothing about them. Is this colour a seasonal thing? Or is it perhaps a sign of immaturity?
The image of a magpie swooping is courtesy of http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2015/09/how-to-survive-magpie-swooping-season/.
When the Offspring was little, we were both swooped by magpies while out for a walk. I was terrified [for the Offspring], but since moving out to Warrandyte I’ve learned a lot about magpies. I’ve seen them swoop the dog and the cats, but only during breeding season. The rest of the time the maggies ignore them as creatures beneath contempt. And I’ve seen maggies hound a young possum out of a tree [where there was a nest?] so I know these birds are fierce when they want to be.
But I’ve also seen my maggies conscientiously feeding and teaching their young:
This image is courtesy of https://www.trevorsbirding.com/baby-magpie/
And believe me, maggies are smart. When I throw out stale bread for them, or some scraps of meat, the first one on the scene will warble an alert and in moments, their young will come to feed. Maybe that’s why they treat me like a member of the family. In loco parentis?
I’ve never been swooped out in the garden. Not even once. Somehow, the maggies whose territory I share know I’m a friend, and as the story of the fox shows, they know when to protect ‘our’ domain. Much as I love foxes I don’t want Mogi, my tiny chihuahua-cross dog to be snatched up one day when the hunting has been poor.
So yesterday I went to work with a smile on my face. There are times when I love Warrandyte so much it hurts. 🙂
I’ve always believed that the definition of true courage is not a lack of fear but the exact opposite – lots of fear but the courage to push ahead anyway. Sadly, I’ve been less than courageous the last six [?] months, putting off doing The Vault dungeon until I’d literally run out of anything more interesting to do. 😦
Well, my Summoner, Meeka Thara, has finally done The Vault. Twas not glorious. I died at the three quarter mark of the third boss, but luckily the rest of the party finished him off while I lay ignobly dead at their feet. -sigh- I did learn a few things that may help others though. What follows is for newbies, and is only a kind of overview and tips type thing. You should still watch videos of the fight and read up on it for the complete mechanics.
So, to the overview and tips:
Given my lightning fast reflexes – chokes laughing – I should have just focused on my feet and forgotten about everything else. After all, the rest of the party managed just fine without me. Instead I tried to dodge while casting like the healer – awesome healer, by the way – and I failed.
So there you have it. Another dungeon, and a morning wasted on gated content that I hate, and no writing done, but at least I now have something more to do until the next trial in the game [Bismarck]. At this point, all I want to do is get past the gated content and reach the Dravinian Hinterlands for the crafting. After that, who knows.
p.s. if you click on the screenshots, you should be taken to the Youtube video from which they were taken.
Steps of Faith is the final trial in FFXIV, version 2.X. It came out in early 2015 and was obviously designed to be the Grand Finale for this part of the storyline. As such, it was hellishly hard, especially for those just wanting to finish the story so they could play the up coming expansion.
For the expansion – Heavensward – the Steps of Faith was nerfed. [Nerf=the weakening of a game element for some reason]. Nevertheless, the trial is still hard, and I will never, ever, EVER put up with this much pain for a game. I got through it, on the 3rd try, and I scored another commendation, but it was real skin-of-the-teeth stuff, and the stress was not at all pleasurable. The following are a few things Summoners won’t find in the guides, but they are critical:
a) Your pet is going to be next to useless – it dies with monotonous regularity,
b) You CANNOT use the cannons while your pet is out. The hotbar of the pet stops the hotbar of the cannons from displaying. You will not even see the cannon weapon skills much less use them. I don’t know if this is a glitch or what but it was extremely embarrassing to find out the hard way. Thanks, SE.
c) You will be doing very little damage as a Summoner
d) BUT – you can be vital to the group by manning the Dragonslayer harpoon up on the towers.
I cannot stress this enough. Use the mechanics. Brute force may work if it’s a very well geared group who all know what they’re doing, but Duty Finder will not give you that group. If you go through Duty Finder as I did, you will need the mechanics.
Our group of 8 comprised 3 n00bs, including me, and we wiped on our first attempt because yours truly couldn’t use the cannons [had my pet out] and the attack was generally disorganized.
We didn’t wipe on the second attempt, but we did fail. Vishap [the Boss] had something like 50% health left by the last barrier.
Why? Because no one was using the Dragonslayer harpoons, that’s why. Either everyone forgot about them, or thought they could just burn their way through by brute force. Wrong.
On the third attempt, I decided I was next to useless anyway so I might as well give the Dragonslayer harpoon a try. If I messed up we’d be no worse off. I didn’t bother with my pet, just cast all my debuffs on Vishap before running for the tower.
I don’t know whether I got the first harpoon off or not because one of the mini-bosses followed me up the tower and killed me just as I clicked the harpoon. I rezzed [came back to life] and ran back to the fight.
My timing was out with the second harpoon but I know I got the third one. It took a nice big chunk of life from Vishap and also made the difference between success and failure as we only took the Boss down at the very last possible moment. It was so close I thought we’d failed again. Without the harpoon damage, we would have failed for sure.
So let’s look at the mechanics. The graphic below shows the basic structure of the fight:
Apologies for the amateurish graphic but it gets the job done. As you can see, the trial is in 4 parts, each part separated by a glowing blue barrier [it represents a magic ward]. The first part contains:
The purpose of the cannon is to kill the adds so the group can dps the Boss without getting killed.
The purpose of the Dragonslayer harpoon is to take a big chunk of the Boss’ life. The harpoon looks like this:
The harpoon gun is to your right as you go up the stairs of the tower. Do NOT interact with it until the Boss is more or less over the big orange circle on the ground. The harpoon has no hotbar button. As soon as you click on it, the gun will fire. It hits just the one spot and cannot be aimed
In the remaining sections, you must not fire the harpoon gun until the Boss is in position AND the players on the cannons have triggered the snares.
The snares, [shown below] look a bit like orange crystals, or lamps. The cue to trigger the snares is when the Boss uses his big, rectangular AOE. Once triggered, the snares throw chains over the Boss so the harpoon can hit it. Without the chains, the Boss will dodge the harpoon.
Once the Boss destroys the last pair of cannons in a section, everyone, including healers, should be dpsing the Boss with everything they have. You won’t stop him destroying the barrier, but you can reduce his life quite a bit.
[Note: if you die, don’t wait to be rezzed. Go back to the beginning and use the shortcut portal to get back into the fight]
The final mechanic is the pile of explosive barrels. They are there as a last ditch boost to your group’s damage. But there is also one last harpoon gun available. You can see one of the snares circled in yellow in the screenshot below.
The players on the cannons have to stop the adds from destroying the barrels. Then, when the Boss gets there, they hit the remaining barrels with weapon skill 1 on the cannon hotbar.
I haven’t mentioned any of the mini-bosses that spawn because lots of guides talk about those, and you can find a good one here:
You can also find MrHappy’s walkthrough video guide here:
[Note: all screenshots are taken from MrHappy’s video guide]
Well, that’s it. The last game how-to. Now I can give Square Enix some more money to buy and play the expansion. It better be worth it because I haven’t had any fun doing this.
Now that Christmas 2014 has come and gone, I can safely say I’m glad it’s over. I tried to eat normal amounts, truly I did, but I doubt anyone will be surprised when I say I failed.
It started with Christmas Eve dinner. We spent it with relatives, and seeing them all was lovely, but I could easily have made a meal of just the antipasto! That was followed by turkey, pork and ham, and rounded off with pudding and Strawberries Romanov.
The next day, Christmas Day, was relatively quiet on the food front but I did make this….
Yes, you guessed it, a chocolate mousse cake. For those interested, I’ve updated the recipe with these photos, together with a description of how to mold it up. The actual cake, however, was all gone by Boxing Day. -sigh- Then last night, the Daughter and I made the apricot cake out of Silvia Colloca’s fantastic ‘Made in Italy’ cookbook. Delicious.
So there you have it, a gastronomic extravaganza that’s left me feeling like the Goodyear blimp! I swear I’ll do better next year. -wink-
In the wetter years since 2009, I had to get the grass cut before Christmas because the alpacas couldn’t keep up. This year we’ve had to start supplementary feeding early because the alpacas have mowed the grass down already.
In this first photo, I’m standing in my paddock, taking a photo of my neighbours’ paddocks. The three of us share the four alpacas.
This next photo shows a small, fenced off area [roughly 2 metres by 3] that used to be one of the alpacas’ favourite poop spots. Once they start using a spot they become very attached to it, and refuse to stop pooping there.
Unfortunately, this particular spot is really close to both the pool and the house, and the odd, gentle breeze can bring tears to your eyes. I’ve been trying to get rid of this spot for years, without much success. My latest plan has been to dig up the poop [and put it on the compost], dig up the soil underneath [to get rid of their scent], replace it with mushroom compost and plant something they love to eat [Lucerne]. Fingers crossed it works this time.
One area where I have had some success is with my ornamental ponds. One is less than a metre long, and the other is about 2.5 metres long, so both are quite small but the local frogs love them!
This next photo is of the larger pond and shows clusters of strange, white bubbles in amongst the water lilies and duck weed. Those, my friends, are frog eggs!
What’s that you say? You can’t see them? Hold on…
I don’t really know why the frogs like my pond so much, but I’m thrilled that they do. It contains water cress and a host of other water plants so maybe I got the mix right without knowing it.
I hope my Aussie friends have had a great weekend, and I hope my international friends are still enjoying theirs. 🙂
p.s. Apologies if this post looks a bit strange. WordPress have made changes, again, and my blog won’t work at all in Opera. It works in IE, except for the preview function, so I won’t know what it looks like until I publish. I’m resisting the urge the rant. 😦
I meant to write like crazy these school holidays, but instead I’ve done a lot of physical work – building new rockeries in the garden, spring cleaning the house, messing around with my computers, and cooking. You have no idea how much cooking I’ve done, and not for pleasure either.
But that rant is for another post. This post is about me, cleaning the keyboard of my computer… on the inside. Yes,you heard me. This is what came out of my keyboard :
If you feel weak at the sight of what was hiding under my keys, take a stiff brandy before you continue.
Moving right along. I really would like to blame the cats for all that mess, but mixed in with the fluff were crumbs, lots and lots of crumbs. My work, I’m afraid. Nonetheless, the trigger that sent me into techie mode was that I spilt some coffee on the keyboard.
<<picture of woman madly shaking white coffee with one sugar out of her keyboard>>
It didn’t work. By the next day, the letter U had seized up. I either got ‘bt’ or ‘buuuuuuuuuuuuut’, ‘yo’ or ‘youuuuuuuuuuuuuu’. Not a happy state of affairs. Something had to be done. After doing some online research, I gathered my trusty tools and set to work :
I’ve had those teensy weensy screwdrivers for about 20 years, but you should still be able to get them at a computer shop. The tweezers I stole from the Daughter. Sorry dear. 🙂
DISCLAIMER : I have not tried doing this with the keys of a laptop. I highly recommend taking your laptop to a professional for repairs!
Now, the first key is always the hardest to get off because space is at a premium. If you don’t have the teensy weensy screwdrivers, try using an ordinary dinner knife. Place the tip of the knife in the gap between the right hand CTRL key and the base, and wiggle until the key pops off. Once you have that first key off, you can attack the rest of the keys fairly easily.
Whatever you do, though, don’t pull everything off in one hit unless you have a photographic memory. I took the keys off row by row, lining them up in the order in which they would have to go back :
You can now use the tweezers to pull out the gunge, or you can use a small paint brush to sweep out the dirt, but whatever you do, do NOT use the vacuum cleaner. Inside those exposed keys are the doohikkies that make them go up and down. If you use the vacuum, the suction could possibly hoover up the most important parts of the keyboard. So be warned!
Once the loose dirt is cleared away, spray a little ordinary window cleaner ON A COTTON BUD [not directly into the keyboard please!]. Give the inside of each row a good clean with the cotton bud and allow to dry before replacing the keys.
As you were pulling off the keys, you may have noticed that some keys, including the SPACEBAR,come with an extra little locking doohikkie. The following are two photos I took of the locking mechanism under the spacebar :
I outlined the locking mechanism in red as it’s very hard to see. The two ‘horns’ at either end are currently in the down position, but they swivel up and down as shown in the next picture :
And just in case you still can’t make head nor tail of the photos, the following is a diagram I created showing the two halves of the mechanism – i.e. the bit that stays in the keyboard, and the bit that goes inside the spacebar :
Please do not say ‘oh but my keyboard doesn’t look anything like that’. Of course it doesn’t, this is a schematic thingie, okay? The point my picture is trying to convey is that the tongue and groove arrangement has to be in place before the locking bits in the middle can snap into place. Do not be daunted! This is how you do it :
As you can see, the little rods do not snap into place, they slip into the hole shapes from below.
Once the tips of the rods are in place, tilt the key forward slightly in order to get the two box shaped locking bits to fit together. Once they do, you will hear a click, and the key will be back, and popping up and down quite happily.
All the ordinary keys just snap into place without any drama.
I didn’t clean under the numeric key pad, or the arrow keys as I don’t use them much [and couldn’t be bothered]. I also did not take out the function keys [F1, F2, F3 etc] as I have no idea how the key mechanism works with them [and the coffee seems to have missed them]. You mess with the rest of the keyboard at your peril – i.e. don’t blame me if something goes horribly wrong. 😦
With the cleaning all finished, I plugged my keyboard back into the pc and crossed my fingers. It worked! And the proof is this post. Look…
‘but’ ‘you’ ‘up’ ‘under’
I have my ‘U’ back. 🙂
Conclusion : Honestly? This job was nowhere near as hard as I thought it might be, and by tackling it myself, I avoided having to buy another, expensive keyboard. That said, I probably would not have been motivated to try this if I had lots of money to throw around. So if you’re in the same boat, give it a try and give your wallet a break. Your self confidence will receive a huge boost too. 😀
I was burning off a huge pile of garden waste this morning when I discovered something interesting about the lowly agapanthus plant. That’s it there, on the left.
Originally from South Africa, the agapanthus grows wild here in Warrandyte, and is considered a noxious weed by Nillumbik Council.
I have always had a less purist attitude to non-natives than the local Council, but even so, I have never found the agapanthus to be a particularly attractive plant. I have it in my garden, but I have never felt kindly towards it, until now.
“Why this sudden change of heart,” you ask.
“It’s because the bloody plant doesn’t want to burn,” say I. [And we all know how paranoid I am about bushfires, don’t we?]
Rather than bore you to tears with words, let me bore you to tears with some pictures. 😀
First up we have a picture of a pile of hot ash. It was taken at 9.26 am, and is the result of almost 3 hours of burning off, so it is still very, very hot.
Next we have a picture of some gum leaves and small branches bursting into flames on top of the pile of hot ash. Time – 9.29 am.
I did not strike a match, or a lighter or anything else to get the gum leaves to burn again. The residual heat of the ash was all it took. I’d also like to point out that we had a lot of rain 2 days ago.
Picture no.3 is of a small agapanthus I pulled up by the roots and threw on the barely smoldering fire. Time – 9.30 am.
Basically I was trying to see how long the agapanthus would take to burn. I literally used the stop watch function on my mobile phone for the job. After 3 minutes and 25 secs, something flared and a small section of the agapanthus burned for approximately 3 seconds. Then the flames went out. Time – 9.35 am.
There was another flareup approximately 4 minutes later, but by the time I’d stopped the stopwatch function, changed to camera function and returned to the fire, this second flareup had gone out as well. The timestamp on the camera says 9.39 am.
As you can see, the poor agapanthus is getting scorched, but a) it’s taking a long time and b) only the dried out extremities of the plant burn. As soon as the dried out sections burn off, the flames reach a wet, green section and immediately go out.
The next photo shows a small scrap of paper getting nicely scorched next to the remains of the agapanthus. The purpose of the paper was to test the heat of the ash pile – i.e. to test if the agapanthus was not burning because the ash pile had cooled down too much. As the photo shows, the pile was still quite hot. Time – 9.44 am.
40 minutes after beginning the experiment, I pulled the agapanthus from the ash pile and let it cool down so I could get a better look at it – and take a better photo. You have no idea how hot I got while taking photos close to the ash pile!
The final photo shows that despite being reduced to a blackened stump, the agapanthus still retains some green at the base of its stems [?]. Time – 10.10 am.
Now I’m not saying the agapanthus won’t burn at all – clearly it will – but I do want to make the point that this plant is remarkably resistant to fire. In massed plantings it may even slow the rate at which a bushfire advances on your house, or mine. As such, I think it’s time we stopped thinking of this plant as the ‘enemy’, and embrace it as an appropriate plant for bushfire prone areas.
Have a great weekend,
Apologies for being so slack lately. I have had an attack of domestic 20/20 vision…and what I saw was not pretty. I have people coming over for Christmas Eve dinner, and suddenly the dirty windows, clutter, dust, muddy paw prints, dust bunnies etc etc etc. sent me into a panic of cleaning. Sadly, the more I do, the more mess I see. With the clock ticking, I’ve had no energy left over for writing.
Anyway, I thought you might like to see some pics I took from the outside.
This is a drain I dug around my big[ger] fish pond to stop sediment washing in during heavy rains.
This is the same drain half filled in. Down the bottom of the drain is a flexible, black plastic agricultural pipe [aggi pipe in the local parlance]. It connects to a drainage layer protecting the retaining wall at the top of the pic. On top of the pipe is a thick layer of scoria, and on top of that are the beautiful river pebbles.
Tah Dah – the ‘after’ picture. If you look carefully you can see the second, small pond I finished putting in less than a week ago. No fish in this one, just water lilies, although I’m sure the frogs claiming the big pond will soon migrate over. 🙂
The two ponds featuring in the previous pic are tucked in behind the retaining wall you can see in the fore front. One of the alpacas decided to get in on the photo shoot. Behind, and to the left of the alpaca is a section of the Clark pool that isn’t hidden by the pool fence. The small, bright blue thingie hard up against the house is my greywater tank. Water from the laundry and the shower is plumbed into the tank. The greywater usually flows straight through to the terraced area in the middle of the picture. During high fire danger days I close the tap off so the greywater fills the tank and becomes another source of firefighting water.
This is my, um… wine cellar. -cough- It looks a bit like an igloo and the whole structure is buried into the hillside.
This is an inside shot of the wine cellar showing the inner doorway and the yellow ladder leading down [about 1/2 a metre] into the main area.
Last but not least, this is a shot of the cellar with its protective covering of soil and rocks. The plants directly around the cellar are all succulents. The black plastic water tank in the background belongs to my neighbour.
Okay, I think that’s probably enough photography for one day. I’ll try and take some pics of the inside of the house before it degenerates into its normal, comfortable clutter again. Until then, do what I say, not what I do, and have a relaxing weekend. 😉
A few weeks ago I did a series of burns to prepare my block for fire season. I kept these bonfires very small for fear they’d get out of control, even with everything so damp. As a result, I had to struggle to keep my fires going, yet even so I learned some interesting things about what does, and does not, burn in my part of Australia.
As expected, the dry leaves and twiggy branches of gum trees burn very nicely, thank you very much. However I also discovered that even relatively fresh gum leaves will burn. As these leaves contain highly volatile oils, I should not have been surprised by this either.
Still on the subject of leaves and volatile oils, I threw some lemon tree prunings onto the fire and took a big step backwards, expecting the branches to explode into flames. The leaves did burn quite nicely but the branches seemed to burn no better than any other green wood.
Next I tried the dry stalks and flower heads of agapanthus. [Picture courtesy of wiki]
Once these flowerheads and stalks dry off, they burn like paper. The green leaves however took a long time to dry out and eventually burn. For me, the lesson here was that clumps of well maintained agapanthus may help extinguish embers. At a certain temperature, however, anything can and will burn.
While cutting out the dry agapanthus stalks, I also trimmed back some branches of a very hardy, invasive and hard to eradicate shrub whose name I don’t know. I remember finding pictures of it once, as part of a listing of ‘weeds’ in the Warrandyte area.
I took the two pictures below in the hope that someone would recognize it and name it. [Thanks for the camera tip Metan!]
The reason I want to name and shame this plant is that it snap, crackles and pops on the fire… even when it’s fresh and very green. This thing seems to burn even better than gum leaves, and in a bushfire I can imagine it merrily shooting off burning embers in all directions.
I know Nillumbik Shire Council considers it to be a noxious weed because it is not indigenous to the area, but they have done nothing to force residents to eradicate it. Nor have they, themselves, eradicated it from roadsides and other public places. This stuff should be attacked without mercy because it burns so well, not because of any airy, fairy conservationist principles.
Now that I know how dangerous this unnamed plant truly is, I’ll be blitzing it with a vengeance. If you know what it’s called please let me know asap!
The most welcome thing I learned from my burning off was that I can discourage the alpacas from pooping close to the house by :
a) relocating their poop piles and
b) burning off on the spot where the piles used to be. I suspect the smell of the ash and charcoal masks the smells that tell the alpacas ‘Here be the toilet’.
For those who haven’t been following my adventures with alpacas, these big, woolly lawn-mowers like to leave their poop in neat piles. Unfortunately a couple of their preferred toilet spots are rather close to the house. That is a problem because, although the smell isn’t really all that bad, the green volcanos that grow up around them are both unsightly and difficult to mow by hand. Trust me, you do not want to accidentally mow into a pile of wet poop. 😦
I’ve tried sprinkling lemon oil over these unwanted piles but it didn’t work as a deterrent. The burns will work, so long as you repeat the process until the alpacas ‘forget’ and move on to somewhere else. They can be rather stubborn so even this is not a magic bullet.
As always, I would love to see my fellow residents taking a more proactive part in keeping Warrandyte safe[r] from bushfires.