Saturday, 29 October 2011

Occupy Brisbane - world order changing

I was born into the Cold War. The US and USSR were bumping chests over world hegemony. I lived through the Vietnam War, too young to protest against the war itself or conscription, but aware enough to find the whole matter repugnant.

I stood and ate cherries as I watched the East German border guards patrol the border between East and West - effectively the border between USSR controlled Europe and US controlled Europe. I stared in mute horror at the bunkers holding nuclear weapons ready to be used and end life as we knew it. Finally the USSR crumbled under the weight of investment in non-productive assets, namely the machinery of war.  I have a shard of the Berlin wall in a biscuit tin, next to treasured geological specimens. I thought life had to be safer and better.   

Sept 11 2001 I was working late - past midnight - when a friend called and asked me to turn on the TV. It was early morning in New York and two huge buildings were burning. I watched them crumble. There ensued the "War on Terror" - by now I was too cynical to believe propaganda. I read an online article that said the US would "win", but the cost of the war would weaken it economically and cause it's reign to end.  I think I am seeing that now.

The investment in non-productive war assets notwithstanding, poor management of the financial industry and government budgets is hastening the decline of the West in favour of the new East -  the EU agreement with China appears to be a landmark in that regard. I am troubled by the implications of there being a new emergent world master.  

There are however, more immediate concerns - as governments in Europe and around the world cede power to mobile financial capital and cross-border supply chains, they are losing the capacity to meet citizens' demands. The result is a global crisis in politics. 

On Thursday I heard  a protest echoing between the buildings in central Brisbane. Finally I discovered what appeared to be "occupy Post Office Square".  

It is interesting and disturbing to live so long.

27 October 2011, Post Office Square

Sunday, 16 October 2011

A lovely weekend in Brisbane with some excitement!

Friday night I went to Dipawali, the Hindu festival of light, in King George Square in the shadow of our council building - it's undergoing extensive rescue renovations, hence the cranes. The sign "Rescue city hall" is just a rectangle of bright light.

I went with Billy, my soul-twin, and it was a wonderful experience and helped us both feel less lonely. Surprise, surprise, we both chose the same curried fried rice for dinner and teamed that up with a mango lassi.  Here's one of the better acts - a professional Punjabi dance group:
We went home early - leaving after the speeches and multi-faith prayers - because Billy had been up for most of the night helping people with houses damaged by a bad thunderstorm.

The next day Awesome and I went walking and we stopped at Kangaroo Point to enjoy a rather nice view of the Brisbane River, Botanic Gardens and CBD.
Spring is the season for jacaranda flowers - I turned around to see this lovely old Queensland-style worker's cottage with a jacaranda in front of it. This tree is probably only 30 years old - some are HUGE and protected by the Council. Note the carpet of lavender blooms on the footpath.

The day was bright then - but towards the end of the afternoon a storm started to build. I decided to make for home a tad early rather than spending a little more time with Awesome. Here's a shot I took which does not really show how dark and nasty the sky was becoming - after I realised how fast the storm cells were appraoching, I stopped taking photos and concentrated on getting home.
The storm cell overtook me as I walked the 10 minutes from the bus stop - I could see ragged whisps of tortured clouds twist and turn as they were pulled up into the centre of dark foreboding storm cells. I saw green light between the columns of dark cloud, so I knew hail was imminent.

Many years ago I just made it home at a quick run chased by golf ball size hail which was bouncing off each successive galvanised iron roof behind me. I heard it coming progressively closer and when I realised what it was I sprinted for the safety of home! Obviously I was scared yesterday as I felt the cold updraft from the storm cells and saw them looming overhead.

I was lucky, I got home just as large rain drops fell and about 5 minutes before the hail.  :-)

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Anti-aging treatments for skin – oestrogen!

One of the best ways to keep your skin nice is to avoid sun damage. Have you noticed how nice your skin is in places which are not exposed to the sun? Thus, a life time covered in hats and sun reflecting umbrellas ….

There is also the effect of gravity – one of my friends suggested sleeping hanging upside down in a closet, like a bat. I think this is untenable, so let’s rule out dealing with gravity.

Menopause has highlighted the affect of oestrogen removal on my skin – it has become noticeably thinner and its foundation less dense. This affect on skin has been one of the last acts in a swift decline and has happened only recently.

I was of course totally horrified when the skin of my face and neck became more like wrinkled tissue paper courtesy of new fine lines.  I had not expected this – I am part Asian, we DON’T get wrinkles!!!! Cue crying and gnashing of teeth!!

ANYWAY, this outcome has prompted me to seek anti-aging solutions. I found this article: Effect of a conjugated oestrogen (Premarin) cream on ageing facial skin. A comparative study with a placebo cream. Premarin was associated with increased skin thickness and decrease in fine lines while being well tolerated. Megacool!!  

Note: oestrogen creams seem to be exclusively meant for maintaining healthy human female genitals, not for use on the human female face. Also, some cancers grow faster with extra oestrogen. Therefore, you’d better check the risks and check with your doctor before you try this at home!

I procured an oestrogen containing cream – Ovestrin (oestriol 1 mg/g) – and applied a little twice daily mixed with coconut oil. At the start, my skin started to become red, and I pulled back a bit on the amount when some red spots appeared. However, overall the redness appears to have been associated with extra activity in the skin rather than a sensitivity or allergy. After a few days my skin looked younger and also some of the pigmentation disappeared. I have to keep applying it twice daily to maintain the effect. Awesome thought I looked “well”, but had perhaps missed the aging drama due to being overseas.

My doctor was somewhat gob smacked that I’…used the cream for an OFF-LABEL purpose. He’ll get used to my penchant for innovation. He’s suggested Vitamin E and Retin-A cream. I’ll try them and report back.  
Canberra September 2011 - spring had sprung!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Steve Jobs - a man of our time passes

Steve Jobs is a tad older than the cohort of my youth. I remember seeing the first Apple PC and wondering at it being PORTABLE! By portable, I mean you could pick it up! IT WAS A GAME CHANGER! Before that we had a micro computer - a huge box full of boards - that the engineers among us had built. There was no way we could pick that one up. We all shared the box and two disk drives....5 people could work at once. I was taught to fix it - by opening the front panel and fiddling the boards to achieve a better connection. Later one of our group got a job repairing Apples - I was allowed into the workshop as long as I did not touch anything.

ANYWAY - Steve's desktop PC was an inspiration to a lot of us. The younger ones bought one and weaned themselves off the mainframe and it meant we no longer needed a whole group of people to cooperate in providing group computing facilities. At least one of our number was inspired to design a PC and other hardware - these days he owns an international industrial computer company. I hope he will retire as wealthy as Steve. Thankfully he is as healthy and as strong as a mallee bull.

Rest in peace Steve - and thankyou .... Candice :-)

One of my favourite flowers - delicate and amazing...

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Impressing with food - with caution!

I just read this post by Athol Kaye who suggests men impress their wives / families / vast groups of guests with a dish consisting of waffle chips (potato bought pre-prepared soaked in oil and oven cook), cheese sauce (make self), bacon and sour cream (plus a few incidental garnishes). DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME without careful consideration!  

Adam and his wife are approximately 40 years old with young children and they are not restricted by their religion re eating pork. I can understand how the instinctual craving for easy calories and fat might motivate consumption and appreciation of such a dish. Also I believe such dishes are part of US culture. I might have tried it minus bacon 20 years ago – however these days I would NOT be impressed if a suitor prepared this with the expectation of making a good impression!  I felt sick just reading about it!

One thing that my ex never recognised was that my dietary preferences changed as I aged. He on the other hand seemed to retain his youthful preferences. He became very frustrated and angry when he tried to please by cooking dishes loaded with cream and other fats. He tried emotional blackmail to get me to eat what he made and sometimes I hid it before disposing of it thoughtfully! Many times I ate it and suffered indigestion and / or nausea.

I think the main point is dietary preferences and requirements change with age and one has to be sensitive to these matters.

As ladies age they may wish to eat healthier lower calorie foods, heavy fatty foods might make them feel sick and more easily digested, lighter foods might be preferred. Mature ladies may prefer smaller portions of high quality, nutrient dense food – forget cheap nutrient-poor refined carbohydrates dressed up with sugar, fat and flavours.  

Given that people differ, the best approach may be to discuss dietary preferences before preparing a surprise meal! 

Flowering pear is an excellent food choice for the European honey bee ...