Archive for the ‘Informative’ Category

Gigi’s Baptism

Posted: 14/03/2015 by Sharole in Gigi, Informative
Tags: ,

invite

We decided on the last day of February for Gigi’s special day, 28th. It’s amazing to me how much time, organizing a well orchestrated event can take. She was so excited about it and nervous and anticipating the event, she even made herself a calendar to count the days down from TJ’s birthday. The thing about having your kids so close is they remember exactly what the other one had the year before, so I have to keep on my toes to make sure they are all treated equally. Not that I would deliberately, but from absent mindedness. Thankfully I have TJ to remind me of every little detail :) And photos which helps also when it came to the food, seeing what I’d done last year. It’s hard to know how many to cater for, for such an event, since many people don’t RSVP. I had to take a guess and hope for the best. I spent the week getting food sorted and baking Thursday and Friday so I didn’t have to worry on Saturday other than picking up the cake and sandwiches which I decided not to make myself. Wendy’s (ice cream cake) and Costco (sandwiches and wraps) do a great job, so why not let them do their thing :)

DSCN3897 DSCN3909 DSCN3898 DSCN3894

The kids and I arrived 30mins earlier to get all the food inside and set up the tables and chairs. Thankfully my Visiting Teacher Becci helped me, the Relief Society President and counselor, during the event so I wouldn’t have to worry about the food.

Marlies (Gigi’s cousin) and Toby did the talks, which were great. Toby baptized Gigi and she liked that the water was nice and warm. Toby made sure to take her down low so no second dip was needed. Gigi was lucky to have her 3 girl cousin’s Baptismal dresses that Aunty Nicky had made for their baptisms and so she picked 2 for her to wear. One for the beginning and the baptism and then another for after her Baptism. Gigi was so happy, and felt very loved for all the family and friends and ward members that showed support, for her decision.

 IMG_3372DSCN3892DSCN3908

When they came back in Marlies and Bronte sang acapella “A Child’s Prayer” which was beautiful, I really felt the spirit. After Brother Scott and Bishop Cox spoke we went in for the luncheon. I was really proud of my mini quiche’s I made from scratch (Jac’s recipe) and the number 8 biscuits I made, they both came up great. It especially felt good that everyone was impressed with my spread and kept on eating, there was just the right amount of food, hardly anything left. Gigi picked a chocolate ice cream cake with honeycomb, she then didn’t want the honeycomb ice cream part so swapped it out for Toby’s favourite, mint choc chip.

It was so lovely so see my family gather together, my 2nd cousin Gillian had just moved back from the UK so came and brought my Aunty Marleen, both of my brothers in NSW came Gregg and Seth and my cousins Alex and Charlotte came also, along with my Aunty Helen and Uncle Malcolm. So we felt quite blessed for such a family show up, we took a family picture. It was nice to see them all happy to see one another.

IMG_3378 IMG_3386

 

 

This year we decided that we’d take our very first trip to Luna Park, for TJ’s birthday, the longest running and first fun park in Sydney. Was also my parents very first date, that took place there. Turns out that the price of your ticket is determined by your height. So we had 3 ranges of tickets. 3 yellow, 2 green and 1 red. Turned out my brother was going to be down from Queensland and so we invited him and his kids to come with if they’d like.

We hadn’t heard from them and so took off for the park when we were all ready. Once we got there, we got our bands took a few rides, Edgar called to ask where I was, I replied, at Luna Park like I said. He said where about in Luna Park, I said why are you here? behind Coney Island having lunch, he said ok we are on the other side. That was a pleasant surprise. So we met up and 10 hrs later, Toby all tuckered out, we headed off for dinner at Toby’s favourite restaurant Dos Senoritas (Mexican). Rocky was toast (asleep) by the time we arrived so he was no problem whilst we ate. Yum…  Delicious.

DSCN3831DSCN3827 DSCN3810 DSCN3803

Edgar, Dakota and Owen had a sleepover. And we had a nice time in the morning with the cousins all playing together, and with Uncle Edgar. Granddad joined us for lunch before they moved on.

DSCN3810 DSCN3821 DSCN3829 DSCN3837 DSCN3841 DSCN3847

All in all a nice birthday treat for TJ and all the kids. At the end of the day Edgar said it was my turn to do the rotor as Dakota, TJ and William loved it, I wasn’t too excited as I felt so sick last time I went on that ride in 2007. Thankfully I did better this time round. Molly you’d love this ride. Did you go on it?

Gran called with a nice surprise, she and Ezra were going to take the train down to spend some time with TJ on his birthday. They arrived at lunch on Monday and headed home the next day. The kids all had a lovely time playing at the park, eating TJ’s birthday cake and catching a cheap flick at the local club – Mr Peabody and Sherman. Before we knew it, the time was gone, and we dropped them off at the station to take the train home. Ezra’s first train ride.

IMG_3130

IMG_3133IMG_3148IMG_3132

Somehow the boys all ended up with red shirts on, that day!

Fixin’ Stuff and Savin’ Money

Posted: 08/01/2015 by Toby in Informative
Tags: ,

Well most of you should know by now that Australia is the land of astronomical prices for various things particularly car repairs. We have never been quoted less than $400 for anything, except for changing a headlamp on the VW they only wanted $120 for that. (By the way side note, the engineering on the headlamp assembly on the VW is so simple and easy, it was $2 for the bulb, I pulled out the whole light, swapped out the bulb and put it all in, and there was only one screw! I should do a youtube of it, but so far I haven’t taken the time.) So, over the years we’ve saved a lot of money over the typical Aussie by simply doing it ourselves. There was the…

  • Volvo side mirror
  • Volvo keyless button
  • Volvo side rails
  • Camry mud flaps
  • Camry headlight
  • Camry radiator overflow
  • Camry window winder upper
  • Chrysler spoiler
  • Chrysler keyless entry (x4 or more)

and so on

This time it was the side door handle. TJ was yanking on the wrong side and snapped the hinging side of the door handle so it was just floppy on one side. We were quoted $350 for the part and $350 for the labor of putting it in. So I looked online and found it for $65 plus $17 to ship. Way better. I then went to Youtube U and tried to get an idea what to do. There were some videos but not exact, so I just had a rough idea before I started taking everything off. Luckily I think I did it right and the handle is in there now, working perfectly. Now the only issue is putting the inside panel back on, there are a couple of plastic clips that are only one time use, so I need to get new ones. I might have to order that online since the auto pars stores don’t seem to have a compatible one.

handle

 

We also managed to save a little money on Sharole’s iPhone. She was not getting good reception and we thought we were going to have to get her a new phone. We looked at the phone plans, and none of them were as good as the one she was on. So we thought well, let’s see how much it is for an antenna. I was feeling pretty confident after having swapped her cracked screen (thank you youtube u) and fixing two other friend’s screens. The instructions I used, they identified all the different parts that I was pulling out, so I already knew about the antenna. The part itself was 6 bucks and free shipping. I swapped it in without a hitch. Sweet!

antenna

 

Design and recycling

Posted: 24/08/2014 by Toby in Informative, Uncategorized
Tags: ,

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
Tags: , ,

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
Tags: ,

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
Tags: ,

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