Saturday, October 15, 2011

Free Range Chickens

I record 7.30 NSW on ABC 24 when it is broadcast. I also record Landline on ABC1 when it is broadcast. I watch them later at my convenience. This week both had stories on chickens, chooks, hens or fowl. Whatever, but specifically about the way the are kept when they are used to produce commercial quantities of eggs.

If you don't know how chickens are kept when they aren't free range, then you damn well ought to find out. If you don't buy free range eggs, then you damn well ought to.

We buy our free range eggs from the el cheapo Asian green grocer. They cost about $2 less than you pay for them in the supermarket. The first time I checked, they came from a free range egg farm in South Gippsland. I checked the place on the net and it seemed legit. Now they come from Local Farms. I really ought to check that out too.

Truth in labelling is quite topical. Can I trust that a dozen eggs from the el cheapo green grocer are really free range? Of course I can. I live in Australia and nothing dodgy with labelling happens here!

In NSW there is a case before the courts regarding what is really free range. I have an image of free range as being chooks in a paddock of grass pecking away, scratching away and occasionally bothering each other. They lay their eggs under bushes and sometimes where they roost.

People who care about animals are suggesting free range should be around 700 birds per hectare. The egg producers association, the board being mainly made up of large volume egg producers, suggest that 20,000 birds per hectare is appropriate. I have not mistyped the numbers. 700 as against 20,000. Small business free range egg producers agree with the animal welfare folk's number.

The egg producer's spinner was one of the worst I have ever seen. A skilled spinner would have convinced a few people and ameliorated the argument a little. This one just made me angrier and angrier. I should go back and check the programmes and transcripts and at least give the reporter from 7.30 NSW a name and her due. She was good.

The clincher for me was when the words 'dust bowl' were mentioned. 20,000 free range hens on one hectare, how could it be anything else but a dust bowl.

Twenty thousand chickens on one hectare is not free range in the public's eyes. I am happy if you can convince me otherwise.

The outcome from the court case will be interesting. If the court agrees twenty thousand is an ok figure, then I will suggest there is little point in buying free range eggs.

Have I convinced you yet to only buy free range eggs and free range hen meat? Try this then.

I have heard of debeaking. The spinner likened it to cutting off a fingernail. The animal rights person said that there are useful nerve endings in the beaks. I don't think it was spelt out in the shows, but I guess birds are debeaked to stop them inflicting damage when they attack each other. They readily attack each other when they are stifled in close quarters and can barely move. I'd reckon debeaking would be on You Tube. I am not going to check because I don't want to see the debeaking machine in action again. Once was enough.

I am just another latte drinking inner city greenie complaining about honest farmers trying to make a living who really care for their animals on an individual basis. Or am I? I grew up on a farm. My father wasn't a bad man and did not deliberately mistreat animals, but I know what went on at farms in the sixties and seventies. It was not nice.

Free range chickens must be exactly as we imagine them. If that mean we pay more, then so be it. Here is a link, put solely here so that what I have written may be picked up.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Snow Ploughing

It is not something we would think about in Australia, but piling snow causes problems for trains in certain countries, so the snow has to be 'ploughed' off the tracks. From what I can see, either momentum with angled ploughs push the snow to the side, or if the train is fast, throw the snow aside, or a combination of the plough and blowers are used.

I remember our friend in Japan telling us that some tracks in Japan have constantly running water sprinklers along the tracks to melt the snow, somewhat amazing for us who live in such a dry continent.

This clip is a quickie for you to get the idea. God help anything under the snow.

This clip is much longer and perhaps will please steam enthusiasts.

Wishing me

I sit here alone in a melancholic and just in a slightly hungover state on the morning of my birthday with not a glass of bubbles, but a rapidly cooling cup of coffee. I am used to cold coffee. I have grown used to it. In a few hours I must go to work. I expect R will stay up late enough tonight to wish me happy birthday, or maybe not. It is not a significant birthday.

Last Saturday night we celebrated my birthday with our brother friends at the local pub. Everyone else was busy. They brought along their friend, the owner of probably the best known Thai restaurant north of the Yarra. We have met him before. He is ok, although when he mentioned the unions holding Qantas to ransom, I decided politics was not to be the conversation for the evening.

There won't be a family get together for my birthday. I am not really displeased, although I think this is a first. There won't be a gathering of friends. Again, I don't mind but another first.

R took me out last night to a posh restaurant with a 25% off voucher. We caught the bus. We romantically dodged fast moving bicycles and walked along the river at Southbank to get a tram home and saw the illuminations on Hamer Hall. We forcefully exited the tram by deliberately brushing past a bit hard the people who were standing in the doorway of the tram. Life is good.

I then opened my two gifts, a book from R and a book from our friend in Japan. Can you believe she left it here when she visited a couple of months ago and I did not know. I must be getting old.

You know what would really cheer me? If I get some comments wishing me happy birthday. My internet life will be validated.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My little friend

He was my friend for a week and I greeted him each time I used the lift. He moved around a little, a few inches each day and then he was gone.

The now not so grimy back streets of South Yarra

I recently took a stroll in the back streets of South Yarra, just east of Chapel Street to be precise. I was gobsmacked at the redevelopment of what was a light industrial area along with streets of cottages.

South Yarra was not always the upmarket area it now is. The Jam Factory was actually a jam factory and across the railway line was an abattoir. The soon to be demolished Capitol Bakeries was a bakery, and before that a cable tram engine house. Now medium rise and high rise apartment towers have or are being built. Bars are starting to open and the Chapel Street cafes are spreading into the side streets.

A bit of a ho hum photo, but you can see what has been happening in the back streets of South Yarra.

This house has decided it is not going away, in spite of the attempt at intimidation by the neighbouring buildings.

This is the childhood home of a lady who has and has published her memories at the City of Stonnington website. The house is larger than I thought. I never noticed the street gate when I took the photo. Why is that there?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Sometimes you are starkly reminded of your age by current events. By the age of fourteen I and some mates were busily smoking dry pine needles in waxed straws in the furtherest point of the school yard. They tasted ghastly. By the age of twelve, I think I was allowed to cross roads on my own.

By the age of fourteen I was not on a beach in a foreign country buying mary-jane. It is just such a laughable thought to me that I could have done this. I actually doubt I would have been allowed to go on the Rosebud foreshore on my own, let alone roam a Bali beach looking for drug deals. We had to be supervised if we were swimming. If I wanted to do something that my parents did not approve of, I would have to do it furtively, and of course I did at times. The world has certainly changed.

Sometimes you just feel plain sorry for someone, as I do for the Australian nurse who was given a dodgy drink in Bali and ended up with brain and liver damage.

Bali is certainly topical at the moment. Apparently an Australian family was in receipt of an unprovoked attack in a Bali bar by the bar's security guards. What an extraordinary thing for the guards to do to their employer's customers. Very extraordinary. Quite unbelievable really.

While I haven't been to Bali, most people I know have. The above doesn't sound like the place as it has been described to me.

Wall Street is Revolting

Wall Street certainly is revolting. It is very disappointing that Obama was not able to reign in its avarice. However, I am very pleased that our brothers and sisters across the Pacific are protesting, day after day after day.

Please keep up the momentum guys and gals and shame them into decent and ethical behaviour. It will be a hard task. I would advise some of you to stand outside the carpark exits with placards but in silence as the big cars with darkened windows exit. Stare straight into the back seat area. You may not be able to see who is in there, but they will think they are exposed. Day after day, week after week. They will crack. Clearly a well intention political leader could not bring Wall Street to heel. It is up to you.

I hope more of you Americans can join the protest in Wall Street. You will be actually targeting those who have done very wrong to the world and to their fellow citizens especially. Now, where is the Tea Party who is supposed to be on the side of your average Joelene when the real work is to be done?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The not tidy Little Jo

Sister, Bone Doctor, Little Jo and Fuzzy Coco stayed for a few days at an acquaintance's property near Mansfield during the school holidays. There was no tv, internet or phone reception. Not sure that I would care for that.

Little Jo had what you might call a breakfast nook all on her own for her craft and art work. At about the third day, she complained to her mother that her craft table was a mess and Mummy had not tidied it. Over to you young lady, and Little Jo did as she was told and put everything in order.

However, on her last visit to the tall house, Little Jo was just as messy as always. It is artistic talent. An artist can't be bothered with the triviality of being tidy. We, her minions, will do the picking up. Now if she was my child......

Help. Not drowning, just wondering

A couple of questions, if you will indulge me.

Firstly, is anyone familiar with the term herbs? In context, accelerate the car, give it the herbs.

I unconsciously used it tonight and I don't why it came from the tip of my tongue. R mentioned that the dishwasher seemed to be running forever. Well, when the you have a meal, combined with an overnight stay by Sister, Bone Doctor and Little Jo, the dishwasher was chockers and not well rinsed. I gave it the full herbs. That is I put it on the highest setting.

Earlier days of computers have been news this week past with the death of the Apple bloke. Terribly young age to die though. Did he sit too long at a computer eating pizza and drinking coke? Pancreatic cancer is usually quite quick. He did well to live as long as he did. While Steve Jobs did some wonderful things with technology, I expect if he hadn't, someone else would have.

Getting off track. In the early days of media organisations being online, one of the first ABC tv shows that I can remember looking at online was a rather weird show. Was it set in Queensland? It featured two blond male twin late teenagers. Something about a hotel perhaps? There were interactive things you could do on the show's ABC website, a rather new experience.

I saw the two guys in Glenferrie Road just after the show finished. They were exactly as they appeared on tv. Anyone remember the show and its name?

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Burning Loop

We in Western countries should be able to have faith in our safety systems. But, and isn't there always a but, remember the Rhode Island nightclub fire? One hundred odd killed. Where were the fire safety systems? The fire brigade arrived in less than five minutes of the fire starting, and yet, still, so many injured and dead.

London bombings.....the rescue authorities would not enter the Underground unless they were assured the power was switched off. No one could assure them, resulting in massive delays and possibly more deaths than might have been.

And now we have our own City Loop, where our trains go underground around the city. Reports as to how it would cope with an emergency do no sound promising. I assume it stands for all emergency services but at least one has said that it will not enter the Loop unless the power is not only shut off, but earthed. Apparently there are only four people on the system who can do this. I understand that for complete safety, as well as turning the power off, there needs to be a connection from the overhead wires to the track in case of faulty electrics. I would imagine there is a high tech device that can do this, but to me, it sounds like it is a very manual operation for our City Loop. It also seems fire exits are locked? This has been proven around the world to be disastrous practice.

In your home, your own safety is your business. While it may be illegal for you to not have smoke detectors, when is that ever enforced? Within the home and when out on the street we need to depend on our wits to keep ourselves safe.

But when we depend on others, such as our public transport system, we need to have complete confidence in public facilities. This includes not only public transport, but in shopping systems, entertainment venues and hotels. I for one do not feel confident that the twenty year old plus City Loop is up to scratch in the case of a serious emergency.

Much later edit: When a terrible crash and fire happened in a City Link tunnel, the water deluge system perhaps saved many people by dumping water on the fire. It is to the credit of those involved that the water deluge system was installed, although I seem to recall that it was touch and go as to whether it would be. There is no such thing in the City Loop.

Change the World - Click here

In days of old if I wanted to change something, I would have write a letter, make a phone call or have a conversation. Now, all I have to do is click 'like' on a Facebook page, and the world changes. Well, maybe it is not quite so simple. Nothing beats the personal when it comes to activism but I suspect Facebook pages set up as a protest or to get something done do play their part in the bigger mix.

I joined the Facebook group to save the Leas Lift in Folkestone, England. Saved it has been but I think this video was taken before the campaign to save the lift got underway. The lift works by gravity and the transfer of water. Pretty cool hey, and it uses little energy. You only need to watch a minute or so to see it working but the whole clip is interesting enough.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

She's a cumming

Excitement is building in the colony with approaching visit of Phil the Greek and Betty Battenberg. They are taking a cruise on the Brisbane River. They will ride on a Melbourne tram. They will catch a ferry to Manly in Sydney. They aren't visiting Sydney, haha. But yet, they will see some of Canberra.

In Perth before CHOGM they are going to a barbecue. Liz's loyal subjects (well this one) are unsure if she has her own teeth or not, so best not to serve her a T bone. Better stick with the home made rissoles made with cheap minced beef. The cheap mince is full of fat and so the rissoles taste much better. I think Safeway Woolworths plain thin sausages are rather good. Throw a few of those on the barbe and douse them liberally in White Crow tomato sauce. Our Betty has German ancestry too so I expect she likes cabbage. Whip up a coleslaw for the barbe, and I expect Phil the Greek would like a Greek salad.

She is supposed to leave Australia a couple of days before the famous Melbourne Cup horse racing meeting. But I know she likes the gee gees, so if you are attending the Cup, be on the look out for a woman in a hat and wearing gloves and dark glasses. This is a woman who takes her horses very seriously and she does not like to lose.

Walking Queen

I was fortunate enough to be in a modern building admiring the view opposite to this beautiful pink ACA building in Queen Street. Sadly I did not have my camera so another day I took this photo. Click on it to see it properly.

This nearby building I have named Subtlety.