Sunday, 27 December 2009

holiday entertainment ideas

December books.
Renegade: The Making of Barack Obama is a journalist’s close-up view of the campaign for the US Presidency waged by team Obama. The author was granted access to Obama’s inner sanctum.
Insights into the President’s early life, career and philosophy may be found in his (Obama’s) two books: Dreams from my Father, and The Audacity of Hope.

For a bit of science, Stephen Jay Gould’s books are often interesting and educational. The Hedgehog, the Fox, and the Magister's Pox explores the relationship between the sciences and the humanities.

Richard Feynman offers his thoughts on a variety of things in this collection of anecdotes told in plain oftentimes humorous conversational language. Surely you're joking, Mr Feynman! is a delightful book packed with a variety of fascinating stories. Some challenge existing conventions, others relate run-ins with authority or bureaucracy, and still others are just personal tales of normal everyday life though told in a funny mischievous way.

There’s also David Suzuki’s insights in his book "The Big Picture" which not only identifies the problems facing our planet but at the same time proposes solid, science-based solutions.

Haruki Murakami’s book on running is a leisurely read. Apparently one can ask: "Why have I never done that?" No not about running, but reading Murakami.

The music hound book on folk music is best enjoyed while listening to some good folk music - such as Salidummay.

December CDs.
There might be some music from this set below to suit one’s taste during this holiday season.
There’s a good balance of swing music, some blues and folk and pop and country, and by both male and female performers.
Maybe 2 or 3 songs from each CD is worth a listen.

Summer has blossomed down under so i might give Enya’s ‘And Winter Came’ a spin too.
For a bit of music video, i have got my hands on some Leonard Cohen Dvd’s.

This other set of music CDs has a bit of Reggae and Blues which are fine.

There’s also more pop music cds which are just pap, though some have good music in them too.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

the locals of the crossroads (gasfields pt. 3)

Meet some of the locals of nangram.

The site of a gas pipeline project i am involved in covers part of the locality of 'The Crossroads' and the adjoining locality. Our work camp is in the Crossroads but our work site is about 40km away in the gasfields of Nangram.

ms maggie magpie surveys the landscape and sets the scene for a tour of the wildlife of the western Downs of Queensland.
Many of the amazing wildife in the Dalby region includes numerous species of birds.

A couple of unidentified greyish dark-brown birds look for food scraps at a gravelly workyard carpark.

This is a plains turkey on the prowl and always wary of the big noisy beasts driven by two-legged creatures.
Bush turkeys or plains turkeys are fair-sized birds but very shy.
we next encounter an echidna crossing a sandy track. it scurried along as quick as its short tiny legs could go.
Once off the road it was quick to locate shelter and put up all his defences to a perceived danger.
Anya ngata ti raman ti adobong echidna? I’ll never never know.

It finally came to a stop at a fallen tree and curled up into a ball. its quills on full defensive.

One can’t have photos of wildlife in Australia without a kangaroo. So here’s skippy in the only patch of green for miles and miles – a homestead yard.

we encountered skippy early one morning looking for some fresh grass to nibble on for breakfast. as most of the photos here show, the landscape is a dreary desolate grey and brown.
This bearded dragon somehow found itself in a trench and would not have been able to get out by itself. When we found it, it looked spunky at first but quickly got tired from trying to get away. It may be starting to weaken from thirst and hunger.
One of the cultural heritage officers rescued it and set it back towards the bushes.

I was very privileged to witness a spectacular air show put on by a flock of birds one warm spring day near the end of October.

There’s a few families of emus around here. This emu mum and her four chicks were quick to put distance between themselves and someone thinking of pinikpikan. And so they should!
Pairs of adults would be seen searching for food in the grassy plains around after sunup and before sundown.

Goannas too are seemingly everywhere here in 'the crossroads'.
One time i was standing on a bank of a very dry condamine river, trying to increase the water level by contributing some of my bodily fluid to it, when i heard a bit of rustling behind me.
My tired mind realised it can’t be the leaves rustling because there was hardly any wind all day.
I turned around and saw this goanna crawling out of its hole.
I'm not sure who was more startled, but it blinked first and quickly scampered away.
Sayang. Awan ti para etag.

Here are some goannas i managed to creep close to.

go anna! nice pose .

This one must have relations from Mainit. It is good at climbing trees.

if that bloke on the excavator wasn't watching...

some lizard adobo would have been on the menu that night.

maybe next time. i know where it lives. it can climb but it cannot hide...

such is life eh froggy?
yeah. that's the way it goes.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

photographic souvenirs

Some random photos.
more photos here

The golden guitar, Tamworth, NSW.

O'reilly's bird sanctuary, Gold Coast hinterland, Qld.

Uki, NSW.
once i held mountains in the palm of my hands.
don't forget the bushy mounds...

Bunya pines, Bunya mountains, Qld.

When we were young
and facial hair was long...

when in mainit, do as the ichongliyan do.
but wait for the pool to fill up.

while waiting for the pool to fill up,
you can cook some eggs in the boiling hotspring waters.
just take care not to get scalded.
you'll be lucky if you only get scolded.

ain't no more cane in the brazos,
but still plenty in the barrios.

like in mainit,
where cane is harvested and milled every year.
the sweet smell of unas,
heralds the end of the year.
near christmas.

when you go for a hike to the mountains,
do tread carefully.
as earthquakes go where angels fear to tread.

a banana vendor, hangar market, baguio.
that's why i'd rather be in mainit.
we have tokcho there.

back in uncivilized oz.
like a bird on a branch.

the erratic woodchopper.
no this is not in mainit.
this is in suburban australia.

fitzoy falls, kangaroo valley, NSW

thredbo village,
gateway to kosciusko, NSW

the big pineapple, sunshine coast, qld

maggie looking for a feed.

For more photos, click on the link below.

Monday, 30 November 2009

november reading list

“Fallen leaves lying on the grass in the November sun bring more happiness than the daffodils” Cyril Connolly (English critic and editor, 1903-1974)
This set i think’s on the way to the returns bin. They’re all overdue and now accumulating fines for poor poor pitiful me. Except for the ‘running’ book and the ‘back-breaking’ book and the fruit & vegies book and 'the wild American' book, i’m thinking i skimmed through the stuff before. maybe. not sure?
Must be the onset of old age.

Dawkins' latest book received positive critical reviews and also some negative comments.

A couple of cds here too but not much to choose from. There's 2 or 3 okay tunes by Fogerty, but I’d rather listen to the blues...

Altho that running book taught me one thing: “eat less move more”. Sounds like a good motto. If only i read it when i was in my 20s. Then i wouldn’t have this back problem to be worrying about. I might just go home and plant camote, or fruits and vegies.

That wild American Kristofferson has a lot to do with it. like him am still running from my devils... “move more eat less”. Okay. i hear there’s a mountain fun-run somewhere. Or is that over and done with.

Oh yeah been there done that. I told you i was young once.
“When chill November's surly blast make fields and forest bare.” Robert Burns (Scottish national Poet of Scotland, 1759-1796)
Growing a moustache can make one forget to pay bills and mortgages and debts and other necessary modern evils.
So it is that this next pile of books remains unread.

Stephen Hawking's history book remains a must read, and to reread every now and then.

A book by an Englishwoman Fern Elsdon-Baker attempts to balance the shrill commentary from the writings of Richard Dawkins, by offering a thorough impartial and enlightening perspective.

Women do have wit. And some have wit more wicked than others. As a playwright said: "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned". Plenty of evidence of that. In the little red book here. and no it's not Mao's.

Samuel Clemens continues to entertain to this day.

An autobiography by David Suzuki provides an insight on his influences and what shaped the career and life  of Canada’s foremost environmentalists.

The Italian intellectual and novelist Umberto Eco appreciates beauty and writes on it so beautifully, and i can only ohh and ahh and not um but to echo.

There are pearls of wisdom found in the centuries-old 'art of the samurai'. Hai.

Ford county by Grisham is a collection of short stories. To fill in the time - if you’ve got time to kill. He won’t mind that will he?

Billy Bragg is an English singer-songwriter who put his thoughts to paper. The result is a book that is an eye-opener for those of us who haven’t been to England, or even to those who have been there and live there but are somehow deaf and blind to other than mainstream news and entertainment.

Let’s see now the mo looks ugly marto bro.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

gasfields at the crossroads (gasfields pt. 2)

The Western Downs region is a hive of activity and growth and is among the highest local government performers in Queensland and Australia. Over the past five years the electorate has experienced an increase in population, reversing the trend of rural decline. Businesses have diversified into the energy sector although agriculture, forestry and fishing dominate the economy, representing 22.6% of the region's $1.3 billion GDP. The energy resources sector, which comprises coal, coal seam gas, coal seam gas water, ethanol and power station development, will significantly increase the gross regional product. this growing economy reflects low unemployment figures of 3.1%, well below Queensland and Australian averages.
So one day in Spring i headed out west where the rain don’t fall (sounds like a song – it is a song!)
got a job with a company piping for gas..
Into the sunset we rode – driving towards the setting sun in the late afternoon is a dangerous thing, so we drive carefully, as the goldfields -pardon me- gasfields beckon.

video: up and down the toowoomba range
(this video is like driving up on a fresh January day from Saitan to Baguio on the Zigzagging Kennon Road. the mist on the uphill drive is reminiscent of camp 7 all the way to the BGH in the olden days when there were still pine trees standing)

That’s Gowrie Mountain west of Toowoomba – gateway to the western downs.

Dairs gold in dem dar - er gas beyond dem hills.

Nestled in the heart of the Western Downs, the Chinchilla district is a small, but thriving community which has progressed from a rural based economy to the now dynamic region where coal and gas exploration and power station development projects go hand-in-hand with extensive feedlots, cotton and broad-acre farming.

A linear irrigator watering broad acres of farm fields, seemingly in vain.

The economy is still largely reliant on primary production including intensive livestock industries as agriculture, beef and pork production, wool growing, horticulture and timber resources.

After a stop-over for some supplies (drinks- softdrinks only. oh and milk) in Chinchilla, we continue on down the road south by southwest (sounds like a movie), towards Tara and the town built on the banks of the mighty Condamine.

Many of the attractions of the district may be observed just by driving along. These include an amazing variety of bird life and flora. A highlight are the White Gums, either as a lone magnificent tree or standing proudly in a group of three or four, on the dry river beds-

As in the banks of the once mighty Condamine river (here shown in its driest for some time).

or around the edges of strings of lagoons, which after good rain are transformed into wet paradise for birds and wildlife.

Adding to the diversity are large specimens of Prickly Pear.

Vegetation ranges from brilliant yellow flowers of the wattle tree to dry spinifex rolling lazily across the countryside. One can come across some of the rare and common flora and fauna.

Along with common trees such as the narrow leaf tea tree, smooth bark cabbage gum, spotted gum and bull oak, Woolly Oak, Budgeroo, Yellow jackets, Broad and Narrow leafed Ironbarks. you will also come across the rare Woollybark Eucalypt. Tall reeds and lush grass surround serene lagoons perfectly reflecting the overhanging majestic blue gums and scented leptospermum. 60 different Wattles found in the district including the rare Hando's Wattle, which is endemic to the area. Black Cypress and the better quality timber producer White Cypress is common throughout the forest areas.
A short journey down the other way will lead to historic landmarks such as the dingo barrier fence.
The Rabbit Fence can also be seen in various locations.

Where we’re headed though is the gasfields.
These gasfields may be on the crossroads, but not at the crossroads.
They’re in ‘The Crossroads’ a locality of the western downs regional council, named after a crossroads. This place is smack bang in the middle of nowhere and bounded by Chnichilla (north), Kogan (east), Tara (south) and Condamine (west). In the few weeks I’ve spent here, and I travel up to 100kms a day, I’ve only seen the two or three homesteads.

One can see many more road trains than houses. Here they're in a convoy - a conga line to Condamine he he.

These are the ‘shorter’ road trains – only 36m long.

Chinchilla is ideally situated in the middle of the Surat Basin - a coal-rich area that stretches from Toowoomba to beyond Roma - and for the past three years has seen major growth and development.
A number of energy companies are active in the areas surrounding Chinchilla in their quest for coal seam gas for use in gas-fired power stations, as gas suppliers for the domestic and export markets, or for gas-to-liquid projects.

These companies are all major players in the energy industry.

Some of the place names under exploration and development around the vicinity of The Crossroads have strange sounding names: Argyle-Kenya, Berwyndale, Tipton West, Daandine, Braemar, Talinga etc.

So where are we staying? The Condamine bell?

No silly that’s just for a drink, we’re booked in camp.

Too much gas talk Marty. let’s get back to work.
Okay that’s a job pre-start meeting.
Have we signed in yet? No cos i might get a random blood-alcohol test.

Following the pipeline crews can be a tricky business.
One time we tagged along behind cultural heritage officers. These are usually local aboriginals.
They showed some of the stone artefacts they were collecting.

Here’s one such collection under a scar tree.
(A scar maybe from the taking of the bark to make canoes and coolamons, marking out a boundary area, marking a sacred burial site or other traditional purpose.This is very significant in that it defines Aboriginal occupation of Australia for over 40,000 years. Scar trees are evidence of native title and helped demolish the concept of ‘terra nullius’).

And why are they collecting these artefacts?

Because these gasfields are identified Aboriginal cultural heritage areas and they are under threat by pipelines and the machines that come to dig them up – all in the name of development - to keep this fuel hungry world running.
Until our climate has changed enough to incinerate us all to kingdom come.
But if we keep denying it enough, maybe climate change is a myth.

Hey i just work here. What would i know about anything.
All right check it out then. Stand on that post Mr Postman.

Now tell me is the earth warming or not?
Dunno but the pipes are heating up.
They’re expanding.
Martin i expected better from you. What did you deliver? Duds?
No dude. Talking hot air again. I need to cool my head.
Let’s chill out in chinchilla.
This is a blurb:
So there you go folks, chill out in chinchilla.
If you've never seen anyone split open 40 watermelons in 60 seconds using nothing but, well... their own melon, you should probably come to the Chinchilla Melon Festival.
Known as the ‘Melon Capital’ of Australia, Chinchilla produces a quarter of Australia’s melons and celebrates the fact biennially in February.
The big news from the last festival was that John Allwood broke 40 melons with his head in one minute for the Guinness World Record (previous was 36).

Okay shall we go meet some locals.
Locals? Out here? Yep.
We’ve been to Chinchilla, Condamine and Kogan. Let’s check out Tara.
What’s her name's from there - Vivien.
Oh you’re really silly.
It’s Scarlet who’s from Tara.
Okay, she might think I’m Rhett with this moustache.
Not Rhett it’s Clark.
And that's Gable not Kent...

you've lost me Martin.
you truly are a hopelessly lost romantic.
you've come with the dust
and are gone with the wind...
(sounds like a song too).