Archive for the ‘Other’ Category

Rocky’s 3rd Birthday

Posted: 08/12/2014 by Sharole in Events, News, Pictures, Rocky
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This is how happy Rocky was about it being his birthday!

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Our little man turned 3. The best part of this gift was that Gigi brought it out of her own hard earned money for him, Rocky loves it. I really liked seeing Gigi wanting to do something nice for her little brother. She also bought William a gift for his birthday also. Hopefully this will provide a good example for the the boys that they can do nice things for each other and Gigi also.

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Toby took the morning off and we (meaning Toby, Rocky and myself) took a morning bike ride around Olympic Park. It was very nice. I love getting time with my hubby. We then went for brunch at the cafe there. This being my birthday also, Toby allowed me my request ;)

Rocky’s crazy about Lego presently and Batman, so this was a logical conclusion, a Lego Batman cake, home made, so tasted much better, yay!

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All in all a good day!

Family Holiday in Eden, NSW

Posted: 08/12/2014 by Sharole in Events, Family, News, Pictures
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We took a rendezvous to Eden in October about 6 hours south, over Williams birthday. I remember going down there when I was a young girl with my sister and mother on a girlie camping trip, we took. So when I saw an awesomely cheap deal come up for a villa for a week, I snapped it up.

The kids were so excited, and I admit I enjoy seeing their happy faces, what mother doesn’t! The weather wasn’t as hot as normal for that time of year, but that said I like it not so hot anyways, so perfect for me. 2 things we wanted to do was go to the Killer Whale Museum and go Whale Watching, both of which we got to do.

Playing at the pool! It wasn’t heated and so no one really wanted to be in there, good job we had a spa bath, that was the next best option.

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We went to Merimbula for the Whale Watching because we couldn’t get in at Eden, which worked out fine since that boat came up to where we were anyway, whilst out on the water. It was quite exciting getting to see these massive humpback whales and their babies in the water. One of the babies gave us a great water show, which was beautiful. It was amazing just how big they are, easily 3-4 of me.

Somehow Toby ended up being the photographer and didn’t manage to get in any shots of himself, oops! Rocky, Gigi and I got a tad sea sick, thankfully I managed to get a seat at one point because Rocky fell asleep and was starting to get very heavy, I was glad he went to sleep because it prevented me getting thrown up on, which would have set me off. So glad I took my scarf out there, it got quite cold, between Rocky and my scarf I weathered it Aok.

A tick for my bucket list, yay!

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When we went to the Killer Whale Museum, we ran into one of my old work mates. Talk about a small world. It was lovely to catch up with Darren and Angela. The museum sure had grown and been improved, since I was there last, full of information and stories and videos, the kids enjoyed it.

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We finished off the week at Merimbula at Mandeni Family Fun Park. The kids got to try archery, paddle boating, we did a family bike ride on their bike tracks, and they had a massive pillow also, the kids and my big kid Toby said it was better than the one at the Villa, he was jumping so high and they were all having a blast. We even got to do an 18 hole mini golf. I’m pretty sure I won that. Toby won the archery! Toby took the 2 older boys for the paddle boats and I had Rocky and Gigi. Gigi wasn’t coping and so we dropped her off and went without her. Gigi was loving the local dog there, Sally, which is a big step for her. Gigi wasn’t coping with the archery either, finally she got it and did a good job.

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Up, up and away Toby!!

We all had a lovely time, then back home for Rocky’s and my birthdays.

We decided to take the family holiday this year whilst including William’s birthday. He was happy with that. We plonked his birthday smack bang in the middle of it. He asked that we could do whatever he wants on his birthday, so we said fine, we can do that. He originally wanted to go to the beach but then changed his mind in the end, he wanted time with me, so Toby took the other kids to the beach in the afternoon and William and I took a spa and relaxed together.

First up came the gift opening.

IMG_2424Then some dancing….

IMG_2458William got a Redfoo top as one of his gifts and so was excited to do some dancing with his top on, to which his sister was excited about also. They both enjoy dancing. Played with some of his gifts then the kids headed out to the large pillow for some jumping. About 30mins in William came back screaming when he got to the door I was shocked to see blood running down his face all over his hands and going down the glass door. I then screamed for Toby as I don’t do well with the kids hurt. We found out that there were boulder rocks near the pillow and kids were throwing them about. William was sitting down near they were doing it and it bounced off a pile of rocks and went straight into Williams head. We then had to take him to the hospital which was a hour away and by the time he was seen and fixed up the whole morning was gone. Not my preferred way to spend the morning of my kids birthday. Thankfully things got better as the day progressed.

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We did some R/C driving in the afternoon with Williams new R/C car, it works so good, and goes so fast, we all wanted a turn. And we’d brought TJ’s down for him to play with also. Now Gigi and Rocky want one, naturally.

Since we weren’t going to be making one of our homemade cakes this round, not being at home. William ended up choosing a Sponge Bob cake which I normally wouldn’t allow since I don’t like Sponge Bob, but alas it was that or girl cakes so I let it go. It was good to know after eating the cake, the kids said “we prefer the cakes you and dad make, mum!” Aww shucks thanks kids…

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Design and recycling

Posted: 24/08/2014 by Toby in Informative, Uncategorized
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fridge-magnetI really enjoyed reading this article, because in it there’s some discussion about the wide range of products, each with their own design, completely non-standard, and in my mind sometimes unnecessarily diverse. Because of this variety, it is very difficult to viably recover the materials from them, and a lot of effort is needed. I don’t think the author advocates stifling industry, but I do think that there is a point to be made about designing willy-nilly and for no reason.

Here is a quote to whet your appetite:

One of these facilities recycled fridges and freezers, and I was struck by the variety of models being processed. Every single appliance was different. This meant that every time a disassembler tried to get the valuable compressor out from the back of a fridge before it was crushed, a new set of challenges arose, with different sizes and types of screws, fittings and frames all blocking the way. It made me think that if fridge designers were to work alongside disassemblers, they would see with their own eyes the problems inherent in their designs. Perhaps we would have better fridges and better designers as a result.

Another example, and this is less about recycling, and more about just a pet peeve of mine, how many different types of button batteries are there? Why is this? Obviously people don’t make buying decisions based on the battery that is buried deep within the guts of a throw-away product, but I still think that it’s unnecessary for companies to just dream up a new button battery when there are so many already commercially available.

Back to recycling – I’m hugely in favour of going the next step and getting designers to really think about the way their products will be pulled apart. This, to me, is akin to when auto makers were designing engine blocks, and once upon a time, no thought was given to the lowly oil filter and where it was positioned. Now in most modern cars they are reasonably accessible, thanks to one or two thought leaders figuring out how much mechanics and consumers would appreciate having the filter in easy reach. I have read of some excellent examples of design changes that adapt for easy dis-assembly, but I don’t have them at my fingertips just now. The best I can think of is the disassembly of a PC. I read about one that just had a few screws and then basically came apart by un-clipping most of the components.

More of that, please.

Trashing our Planet

Posted: 20/08/2014 by Toby in Informative
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I just sent this article around to my family, it’s another cry in the wilderness, and a well written one at that.

Something else I’ve been wanting to be publicly horrified about, comes from a conversation I had about global warming and pollution. It was at church, with a church member – granted someone who had just demonstrated that he liked a good dust up – it made me wonder how many other Christians (or more specifically, believers in Christs’ Second Coming) essentially feel the same way. 

What he said was, “It doesn’t matter the earth will be transformed at the end anyway.” Referring to the teaching that Christ will come and reign on the earth for 1,000 years, after which He, us, and it will go to (or be part of) the Celestial Kingdom. Closely related to this concept is the teaching that plants and animals are given to Man (people) for his use, and that God will always provide what we need. Essentially, there will be magical redemption before the human race catastrophically ruins the planet and makes it unfit for habitation.

Mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually (but not physically, thankfully), I convulsed at having this said out loud. 10 years ago I might have even nodded my head in ignorant agreement.

This kind of short sighted thinking ensures that at some point, maybe in our lifetimes, and maybe in our children’s lifetimes, the harsh reality of our consumerist, throw away society will catch up, and cause catastrophic contractions of the economy. What will the top 0.01 percent of society in their gilded yachts do then? What NEW and IMPROVED toys will they peddle then?

And what is the solution, what kind of U-turn is needed?

For one, a culture that does not throw away, and does not buy more than it needs – one that spends time instead of money.

For two, a governmental policy that requires and enforces responsible production and responsible waste processing, regardless of the impact to economic growth. Here is the more difficult thing, because governments, and the people who vote for them, don’t want to be the first ones to cripple themselves. I do understand that it is competitive between countries in many ways, but governments would do better looking after their own people, and trading within their means.

As an example of what I mean: The US securing oil overseas (like in the Middle East) means that its manufacturing, transportation, and other oil-dependent economic gears continue to move. To withdraw and write off that oil as unobtainable would mean consumption of internal reserves, and the stifling of manufacture, transport, energy and all sorts of things. This step alone would reduce the standard of living for millions. It’s not a good idea, but it is better than the alternative: war, fracking, deep sea drilling, and ongoing wastefulness until there is nothing left to frack, drill, or fight about, and those millions see their standard of living evaporate anyway. In the less undesirable scenario, 1/4 of the budget which was spent on the military is spent on sustainable infrastructure. Money spent on stabilising other economies is spent on stabilising the economy at home.

I don’t really know what that looks and feels like, to be honest. No one does, any more than they know when the 2nd Coming of Christ will be. For most, it’s too scary to even contemplate.

But let’s contemplate it for a second. This is just a thought experiment, but let’s say the entire economy was only the teeny fraction that produces food. No more consulting, no more banking, no more insurance. The rest of us could basically do whatever we wanted, hopefully something productive, albeit at a much much lower standard of living. We might regress to the dark ages before toilets, light bulbs, and smart phones but I’ll bet you those people had happiness too.

Libertarianism

Posted: 13/08/2014 by Toby in Informative
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For a short while, I thought that Libertarians sounded pretty good, but then again, I’m not political so I didn’t chase down the idea of Libertarianism very much. However, after reading this, I have decided I’m not much of a Libertarian at all.

Libertarianism is different – it is a philosophy based on the individual (not the state) owning him or herself.  The central tenet is that each of us has a fundamental right to liberty – the right to do whatever we want with the things we own, provided we respect other people’s right to do the same (acknowledgement to Michael Sandel “Justice”).  This implies the concept of a minimalist state which interferes as little as possible with the individual.

There is no reason to believe that the state knows better than the individual what he or she wants or needs yet governments progressively (pun intended) encroach on our ability to achieve personal ambitions.  It would be hard to argue that a completely libertarian society was workable or fair, but the concept is sound and governments need to make a strong case to remove freedom form the individual.

From: http://blogs.theaustralian.news.com.au/mumble/index.php/theaustralian/comments/the_australian_way/ see comment by ‘Proud Libertarian’ in the comments section.

I think after my studies into the environment and waste management I’m turning into a bit of a socialist. People generally don’t know what’s good for the human race, or for the planet, and must be forced to act responsibly, particularly when personal ambitions clash with responsible behaviour.

Dutch Disease

Posted: 08/07/2014 by Toby in Informative
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I found this while reading an article which argues in favour of alternative energy for Australia.

Part of the article is talking about Australia’s coal export to Japan, and how vulnerable Australia is to Japanese preferences. An interesting and compelling part of it was the argument that by not having diverse sources of economic growth/income, when the bottom falls out (preferences change) then there is nothing to cushion the shock.

I like this point a lot because I feel that it is extremely short sighted for production and manufacture (and resources) to be sent overseas when in reality a country can and should support local industry, even if it means the cost of goods is higher and the economy is slower. The sustainability of this approach is much more justifiable.

Here’s the relevant section with some editing:

[T]he great majority of coal exports (and other types of commodity exports) from Australia are directed at East Asia [and] the resources sector accounts for more than half of Australian total exports. Moreover, Australia exports more coal to Japan than the rest of the world put together; thus leading to the issue of the Japanese monopsony (where a large buyer controls the market).

Furthermore, these countries’ (most notably Japan’s) energy preferences can also have huge effects on Australia’s terms of trade and trade volumes. For example, if East Asian nations were to apply strict environmental rules in the near future, or even in the presence of market-based policies such as cap-and trade systems, there could be major shocks to Australian commodity exports that would translate into domestic job and investment losses. Australia might face what is commonly known as the “Dutch Disease.”

The Dutch Disease has its origins in Dutch exports of natural gas and, in this case, [is] described as “the negative symbiosis between the mining and other tradable sectors that mutes both the rate and efficiency of economic growth.”

This is an argument for alternative investments in other sectors other than mining. The Dutch Disease will cause a nation’s currency to appreciate, because of an increased demand for the natural resource, and, therefore, make other exports (manufactures in this case) less competitive. This, again, provides an argument for investing heavily in other sectors such as renewable energy technologies. In this sense, expansion of one part of the economy draws resources from the rest creating serious imbalances and inflation. This phenomenon provides important insight for the mining sector and most notably the coal sector.

Article here: http://www.geni.org/globalenergy/research/economic-argument-for-adopting-a-zero-emissions-energy-policy-in-australia/The-Economic-Argument-for-Adopting-a-Zero-Emissions-Energy-Policy-in-Australia.pdf