The New Machine

Last weekend the ultimate catastrophe occurred.  The washing machine broke.  Now you may be able to take that in your stride as a little inconvenience until it is repaired, but for me it is calamity, the ultimate  apocalypse.  I already had washing mounting up to rival Vesuvius, and another days delay would see an avalanche of linen and a tsunami of towels.  Of course it was a weekend, where I am at my busiest and the rest of the world decides to take those days off.  So I decided to fix the machine myself as I have done before.  The problem is that it would not do the spin cycle.  I tried it on every part of every cycle. Dead as a maggot.  (don’t know where that expression came from because in my experience, when things are dead, maggots are very active).  So I up-ended it and polished up all the connection terminals (about 40) using a dremel with a tiny diamond burr for the males and a tiny rat’s tail for the females.  Ain’t that a metaphor for a man’s world.  Males get diamonds and females get rat tails.  Cleaning terminals has worked before, but here my electrical expertise failed me.  

So bright and early Monday morning I headed into Atherton to buy a new appliance.  It is quite possible the old one could be repaired, but I needed an immediate solution.  I found that “bright and early” doesn’t work in Atherton.  The appliance shops don’t open until 9 am when the day is half over, so I kick my heels, fill up on fuel, read mail, do sudoku etc until the sales staff drift in.   They would find another definition of ‘the working day’ if they worked on a farm, which starts when you can see your hand in front of your face.  

The appliances on offer were all electronically controlled with comprehensive sounding but unfathomable specifications.  Which lead me to the conclusion that I wasn’t meant to understand, I was meant to be impressed.  So I bought one tempted by price and stated capacity of 10kg.  I removed the fantastic amount of cardboard and expanded polystyrene that would have safely landed the appliance to a bounce landing on Mars, to find a gleaming white Tardis.  I was to find out later that despite not being dark blue, it did indeed have time travel capability.  

My first job for this machine was to spin dry a load previously washed but caught in the rain on the washing line and now had to be spin-dried before being put in the dryer.  I examined the cycles available (12) and the settings available, 6 functions by 4 possibilities each which comes to 288 even before I explored the possibility of doing things in a different order.  I did not manage to find the critical path through the “fuzzy logic” programming.  Had to run the whole cycle from wash.  There are also a whole heap of things I can’t do if I select a cycle.  Certain settings are forbidden and blanked out.  The operating instructions mentions a few, but I think it would take a flowchart the size of my veranda to define the options available.  I have later discovered the ‘progress’ button which may enable me to navigate my way to a spin only solution, but may vastly multiply the 288 things that can already happen.  

Recently I noticed that the ‘time to finish’ display was not a clock.  It showed 16 mins, then I went off to do something and it showed 13 mins.  No, I was away longer than that.  Then I came back and it showed 18 mins.  Hence the reference to the Tardis.  Perhaps fuzzy logic, like quantum computing, are incredibly powerful tools to arrive at the wrong answer.

So I feel rather helpless.  At the mercy of the machine and it’s manufacturers.  And I like to consider myself amongst the technologically literate.  But I am falling behind.  I am sure that most of the people gave up long ago , but I am still striving and struggling to comprehend.  I really need a conceptual model in my head of how things work to be able to cope with the world.  I think I will have to give up my pretense of understanding everything and admit that I only understand little bits here and there.

Rant Warning! Toxic Waste Floods Canberra!

The LNP used to make much noise about factionalism in the Labour Party.  At least some of that huffing and puffing was justified.  But now it seems the LNP is wracked with worse.  Turnbull et al are paralysed and Abbot lurks like the ghost of Christmas past doing what he does best, wrecking things.  It was because of LNP internal dissent that we had to have a postal referendum on marriage equality, which was a complete no-brainer as the polls were so clear about what us proles think.  I bitterly resent $122,000,000, not including the nasty and irrelevant advertising, being spent to relieve Turnbull of the discomfort of being told off by a few of his own party, if it was dealt with in parliament.  Poor Malcolm.  Assailed from all sides by people who want him to do something or not do something.  I like the bloke.  I would invite him and his dearest to dinner except I doubt spaghetti bol is up to his usual fare.  It is unfortunate he isn’t temperamentally suited to be leader of a nation.  He would really like to please all of the people all of the time.  

That is an amusing contrast to another leader not fit to lead a country.  His fault is that he doesn’t want to please anybody, any of the time, except occasionally to suit his own ends.  You are way ahead of me …. Trump.  He also has a raft of psychological problems such as reality disconnect, a disdain for logic or reason, total lack of mirror emotions that could give him a hint of empathy, and a monumental ego.  How the US could make the transition from Obama to Trump, leads me to think I don’t understand the US despite all the information I have and despair of the notion that an educated people leads to an ideal democracy.  Oh well, the only consolation I have is that he is old.  He has limited time to do damage.

Meanwhile, back in the land of koalas, bilbies, turnbulls and other cuddly things, we have the power debate.  Debate is a good thing to air all the different sides of the arguments and bring them to the attention of the populace.  All the debates in history have never changed any parliamentarians’ mind, and that is not the point.  An elaborate charade where they sit in the house and supposedly talk to each other.  Except they don’t.  All the rhetoric is for people not actually there.  When searching for some direction about where Australia might source its future power needs, this government has been an abject failure.  To be fair, Labour has also failed before them, but now matters are coming to a head and still there is no direction or definite signals to the energy companies where to invest huge amounts of money.  So they don’t.  I don’t blame them.  Huge amounts of money at stake that may be trashed with a change of government.  Until there is a clear way forward they will keep their hands, and considerable cash, in their ample pockets in the sure and certain knowledge that their existing overstretched assets will provide a nice little earner as shortage makes electricity prices skyrocket.  Can’t lose.  Don’t need to compete.  

Nero fiddling as Rome burns comes to mind.  To his credit, Nero actually went out with the volunteer firefighters, but perhaps this is further evidence of the duplicity of politicians, as the fire did conveniently make way for the building of palaces he rather desired, and he is still a pyromaniac suspect. 

As to the future of energy sourcing in Oz, my mind is quite clear.  Or would be, but for a few glasses of vino.  Renewables are now cheaper, with or without subsidies.  The planet may/will become a nasty toxic place if we change the atmosphere, and I don’t want to take the risk.  I regularly babysit my grandkids, and this extends my view beyond my own lifetime.  The public in Oz get it, and have the highest uptake of solar in the world.  Another case, along with marriage equality where the government is way behind.  Leave the coal in the ground, because the steam age is over.  Let us preserve a few monster locomotives as a reminder, but let the smokey old power stations retire as we embrace the future.  Let us remember the fate of those that didn’t.  Kodak, swept away into history. 

Trivia Trove

I have now sufficiently recovered from the excitement a couple of months ago when I had a MAJOR EVENT happen at Possum Valley.  I am now back to the usual beat of reporting insignificant trivia.  I like insignificant trivia, because major reportable events are mostly bad.  Just look at the news.  Some news outlets struggle to find the last 20 second ‘good news’ story.  Some don’t bother.  So my deduction is that news is nearly all bad, especially when it happens to you.  So be careful when you ask for some excitement in your life, you might just get it.  The Chinese had philosophy worked out before the Greeks even invented the word, hence the well known Chinese curse “May you live in interesting times”.  The Rohingya are living in interesting times, Puerto Ricans have had a surfeit of excitement.  So pardon me while I settle back into the comforting arms of the boring, the mundane and the inconsequential.

So the headline news is that I am sad to report that the white female duck died in my arms a few days ago.  A boy from Blackbean Cottage came to see me saying the white duck was rather sick.  I went down to the cottage to find the white duck gently wrapped in a towel lying on the veranda.  It was completely floppy and didn’t respond to the insults of being molested.  The only sign of life was blinking of the eyes.  Oh dear, this duck was way beyond ‘rather sick’.  I said some serious, but I hope consoling words to the boy about how maybe I could give some food to the duck.  A total lie, but not all lies are bad.  I think the duck died before I got her to the homestead.  I laid her in the workshop for some time still wrapped in the towel in case of divine intervention.  There was none, so I tossed the corpse off into the rainforest. 

The next night I heard the usual clatter in the kitchen of a possum raid, but managed to ignore it for some time.  When I belatedly decided to exert my authority, I discovered a possum scampering for the exit, and a dead possum in the middle of the kitchen floor.  Ah, a changing of the guard.  Senior possum dies and a new generation literally steps over the corpse to pursue the high value food source that is my vegie scraps bin.  The expired possum had no signs of attack.  I have not a single night of respite before another raider steps up to the mark.  The dead possum joined the duck.  

Other notes on the changing seasons is the new blush of leaves on the hairy-leaved bolly gum, also known as brown salwood to forestry, also known as black wattle to the woodies, also known as litsea dealbata to taxonomists, but hey, even they can’t agree and I think it may be neolitsea dealbata now.  Or perhaps the other way around.  Also the sasparillas are at peak flowering and the hum of bees fills the air.  March flies are about and also swarms of flying termites this afternoon so I had to vigourously shake the sheets on the line before folding to exclude these insects.  I am sure future guests will have no idea the lengths I go to to ensure their comfort.

Another seasonal adjustment occurred this morning when I went to change the nozzle on the hydro turbine for a smaller one.  The creek is diminished and so the power delivered is reduced.  Rather early in the year for this to happen.  Very little rain over the last few months.  Very warm also.  Seems like summer has occurred in spring.  Perhaps we should forget spring.  So many temperature records being broken, I think global warming is accelerating at an alarming rate.  Most models of a few years ago are behind the current data.  Mass extinction events typically happen every couple of hundred million years.  I think you would have to say it was amazingly bad luck that I am living through one of them.  I am an optimist so think humans have the ingenuity to survive the crisis.  However, I think would be a pity to have only scrubby bushes and slime molds for company.

The Heavy Metal Ensemble

Possum Valley today was ringing to the tunes of large machines rather than the tranquil piping of the birds.  First to arrive was the 35 ton excavator which had to come across the neighbouring block to the south and despite having tracks rather than wheels, had some hairy moments of going sideways.  The driver had the boom lowered ready to dig in the bucket if required.  It announced it’s arrival with the throbbing of a heavy engine and the crackling of smashed vegetation sounding like gunfire as the trees splintered and snapped.  It finally emerged from the forest to a crowd of spectators up near Maple Cottage.  I didn’t realise there was such a thing as ‘machinery tourism’ before, but my guests including a mob of kids, were faithful followers throughout the day.  They did perhaps have another important interest, having been imprisoned for a couple of days, escape!  The excavator then smashed it’s way down a steep wooded slope to the dam at the only possible access point to land between the bogged truck and it’s trailer on a bit of nearly level ground.  Because the truck was dug in to collapse dam wall on one side and leaning and an angle threatening to tip into the dam, the hitch to the trailer was twisted and under considerable stress.  Which meant they could not be disconnected because the pin couldn’t be taken out.  A strap was rigged from the hitch point on the truck, over the body of the truck to the excavator boom so it would lift and drag sideways the bogged wheels.  With very careful inch by inch movements this was managed.  

I always wanted a toy like tis

I always wanted a toy like this

It dawned on me how skillful these guys were, and I realised that these skills took a long while to acquire.  Starting in a sandpit at age 2, like my grandkids now, and extending to the truck driver, in his sixties.  Another revelation was the amount of halts and discussions there were between the workers, most of whom hadn’t met before.  Communication, pooling of ideas, reaching agreement, and again signalling as the work went on.  And if plan A didn’t work, a different approach was quickly worked out.  Everybody was focused on problem solving.  If only our politicians could work in such harmony.  Thanks guys, I dips me lid.

The next addition to our heavy metal band was a D6 D dozer.  Once separated, the trailer was manipulated by the dozer to the open area near Blackbean cottage.  This gave the imprisoned guests a window of opportunity for their dash to freedom.  Well done Chantall in the only 2WD on the dozer compromised hill.  There were were 3 4WDs after her, but I didn’t expect any problems with them and there were none.  The guests spotted me on the way out and offered money for their stay which I declined as I hadn’t exactly delivered the peaceful quiet stay that I advertise.  They thrust money into my hands anyway and said they would be back.  Dear forgiving guests, thank you.

some members of the heavy metal band

some members of the heavy metal band

The next addition to our heavy metal band is another dozer.  The D6 couldn’t find enough traction to tow out the trailer, so another dozer was summoned to pull in tandem.  Just an hour ago I heard them throbbing away into the distance.  Once more Possum Valley is returned to it’s tranquility.  

All gone now and silence returns.  I actually enjoyed the experience and excitement.  There are some consequences and damages to repair.  My guests responded the same way.  Deal with it.  I think there is a great capacity in Aussie culture to do just that.  In a land of drought and flooding rains.  A struggling Top End lady farmer, who won Aussie of the year, said “Don’t wait for the light at the end of the tunnel, stride down there and light the bloody thing”.  Wise words in the Aussie shorthand.

Possum Valley now open for business again.  

Living in the Wilds

I was raised in a city, but I love living in the wilds in an isolated place.  Yesterday somebody gave new meaning to ‘isolated’.  I had an unexpected visitor who had got lost.  Happened before and will happen again.  Unfortunately, he was driving an unsuitable vehicle.  On my website I have a discussion about vehicles unsuitable for the track into Possum Valley under ‘location’, but I had neglected to give an assessment for the vehicle he was driving.  It was a huge Mack truck with an equally huge trailer, both fully loaded with gravel.  Total weight 50 tons or so.  Total length maybe 30m.  I heard this behemoth grinding and screeching it’s way down the hill, and thought ‘WTF? this doesn’t sound good’.  The screeching was from the brakes heavily applied at very slow speed.  Or perhaps it was from Rodney the driver, who was freaking out by this time.  I ran over to the road and he was stopped 20m from the creek with white knuckles fiercely gripping the steering wheel.  To add to his terror, I clambered up the passenger side of the truck, popped my head through the open window and said ‘gidday’, surprising him greatly as he thought he was totally lost in trackless rainforest.  I suggested he get out and walk ahead a bit.  We did and walked into the clearing around Blackbean Cottage.  He thought he would be able to get round the 2 tight corners, pull off the track a bit and tip about 15 tons of gravel out of the trailer, somehow do a u-turn on the grass then negotiate the hill again with the gravel still in the prime mover providing traction to get up the hill.  I knew even then he said this with more optimism than conviction.  But there didn’t seem to be any other options.  Absolutely no way to back up the hill.

Vehicle not recommended for Possum Valley

Vehicle not recommended for Possum Valley

To my surprise he got the trailer (the truckies call it a dog), around the first corner, but trying to get round the second, the dam wall collapsed under the weight of the prime mover dropping the right side driving wheels almost into the dam and bottoming out the truck and the hitch to the dog.  The truck is leaning at an alarming angle and threatening to tip over into the dam.  That is the situation as I write.  

A day has passed and plans considered and discarded.  The local heavy equipment contractors (Kidners) have been called and come down to assess the plans for ‘equipment recovery’.  My guests now trapped here have been making their own plans for abandoning their vehicles and goods so they can call friends and relations to get them back to civilisation and how they can manage until their cars can be liberated.  

drive wheels buried, fuel tank grounded

drive wheels buried, fuel tank grounded

Dear guests, if you should ever read this, my sincere thanks about how calmly you received the news you were trapped, and how practically you adjusted and planned your escape, is a tribute to Aussie resilience.  It was a moment from the Eagles “Welcome to the Hotel California” where you can “check out, but you can never leave”.  Though greatly inconvenienced, you saw there were no villains in the piece and acted immediately to calm the shaken truck driver’s nerves.  I brewed him a cup of tea, my dear guests offered him some chocolate birthday cake.  He had bravely volunteered to come along with me to brief the guests of the situation in case anyone wanted to punch my lights out, so he could be there as scapegoat.  Not required.  You all came through as champions of forgiving and coping.  This was a practical demonstration of the universal rule “deal with the emotions first, then together plan the solution”.   

truck falling into dam

truck falling into dam

Now the solution isn’t all that easy.  Any attempt to tow out the truck will likely result in tipping it further right into the dam.  A very savvy guy from Kidners, the local heavy earthmoving contracting company, has come to look and determined that they have to get a 35 ton excavator between the truck and trailer and lift/tow the mid point sideways away from the collapsed dam.  There is a patch of flat ground slightly larger than a jacuzzi from which they might be able to do this.  Of course they will have to clear it first.  Then disconnect truck and dog, then tow and back the dog into the jacuzzi space, drive the truck back around and re-hitch.  Oh, I have just thought of something.  At this point it may be advisable to dump the trailer load of 13 tons.  Once connected to truck, it will have the hydraulics to do so.  Then the dozer tow up the hill has 13 tons less to battle.  They will likely destroy the track on the way out.  

Just learned from BOM that the weather window is closing and rain expected Sunday.  For the first time ever I have informed future guests that their bookings were cancelled due to circumstances beyond my control.  Services will be resumed as soon as possible.  I just don’t know when that might be.  

Getting the vehicle recovery machines into Possum Valley is already a challenge.  Required 1 dozer and 1 excavator of 35 tons.  Can’t get along the track because of the bogged truck, and great difficulty getting round because of the creek on one side and a dam on the other.  Best bet for getting the machines on site is through the neighbouring farm to the south and a couple of kms through his paddocks.  But my neighbour says that the recent rain has made 2 creeks impassable, possibly negotiable by Saturday.  This would be reopening the route I used for the first 10 years at Possum Valley with 7 gates to open and close.   But the width of the bucket on the excavator is 3.5m and might not fit through some of the gates.  It would have to clear some regrowth of 20 years and widen some abandoned tracks, but it could do that in third gear on the way in.  

I will post another report when Possum Valley is again connected to civilisation.  If the rains come back before a resolution, it may be some time. 

Just stand back and I’ll show you how it’s done.

I’ve done it before with years of experience in the parenting game.  A slight gap of a generation, but how hard can that be?  Just pick up the reins and back in the saddle.  So I’m a grandfather charged with looking after a couple of boys for a couple of days while my daughter resumes her career as a nurse in ‘accident and emergency’ at Atherton Hospital.  They are aged one and three with completely different skill sets.  The younger quite aware that negotiating a flight of stairs going down head first has already resulted in negative results and much pain, but persists anyway, and the elder quite sure he is master of the universe and can’t go wrong.  Until it does.  I really can’t remember my girls being so reckless.  

The first day I had them in my sole care went pretty well, though I had forgotten how constant the demand for attention is and the possibilities of disasters if you look away for too long.  Even when to go to the loo has to be artfully chosen when the kids are asleep, or well engaged with some activity.  But I thought I things pretty well under control, and when Alice got back from her shift, both kids were asleep and I had restored some order to the house and had dinner mostly prepared.  I was pretty pleased with myself and trying desperately to impress my daughter with my domestic skills.  No problemo!  Alice and the kids stayed at Possum Valley overnight and I rediscovered the fun little kids have in the bath, although constant vigilance was required to prevent Henry from accidentally drowning his little brother.  I ended up nearly as wet as the kids.

Second day started pretty early before 6 am with Henry awake and cracking up because Alice was going off for her early shift.  Her solution was to stuff the complaining infant wrapped in blanket into my bed.  It worked.  The novelty of the situation stunned him to silence and nearly an hour passed quietly, though he was awake and wriggling frequently.  Then Philip cracked up and the hustle-bustle of the day was on with changing nappies and getting some breakfast into them.  I thought I might have my breakfast a bit later at a convenient moment.  You parents out there are way ahead of me here.  With two little kids there is no such thing as ‘a convenient moment’.  Another thing forgotten.  No breakfast for me.  

By now my novelty value with Henry had worn off and he thought he had my measure.  He started testing me.  When I politely asked him to not do something, like grabbing his baby brother’s clothes in his teeth and dragging him round the floor like a dog, he looked me straight in the eye and did it again.  I did a more forceful reprimand and he did it again.  I did remember the first rule of parenting.  Avoid conflict, let little things slip, but when important issues come up, win.  To give in to an infant emotionally bullying you is the road to ruin.  He had backed me into a corner so I smacked him.  Not proud, and it hurt me more than him, but he is never going to know that.  I had Alice’s support and permission for that last resort.  When Alice came back after her second shift, neither of the kids had had an afternoon sleep and I didn’t feel as though I had best managed the day.  As Alice and I were talking Philip let out an almighty howl from under the table.  Henry had deeply bitten his foot so that you could see the forensic evidence of his every tooth.  There was considerable contusion and instant bruising.  I was very surprised that the skin was not broken.  By now you probably think I am painting Henry as the villain, but no, he is responding to his feelings of jealousy as the baby seems to get more attention.  This is an example of the complex minefield that parents negotiate on a daily basis.

I have had another couple of days of child care since then.  I think I have remembered what it is all about and I have been able to get down and dirty.  There are no perfect days, but I think I am getting up to speed.  Let chaos reign and fun begin.

New Venture for Possum Valley!

Your host Paul, has launched into a new venture to start early June.  It will be only part time, but very exciting and challenging.  Please be assured that accommodation services will be maintained to the highest standard, or at least to the highest standard I am capable of, which is what you have been getting so far.  My eldest daughter has volunteered me for a day care centre.  She is returning to work as a nurse in accident and emergency after a lengthy period off with the feeble excuse of looking after her kids now aged 3 and 1 and a bit.  So she has been lazing around, taking advantage of maternity leave with the occasional chore of washing an infant and feeding them now and again.  I mean how hard can that be?  And now she is back to the real world of gainful employment.  I hope she can handle the pace and get back up to speed after the life of leisure she has been enjoying.  

So I will be looking after them for a day or two to fill in the idle time I have operating a B&B.  I intend to get these infants organised as soon as possible along the lines of Baron Von Trapp (Sound of Music).  Get them used to a strict regime and able to obey every command in an instant.  Eating and sleeping to a schedule, and saying ‘thank you’ at every opportunity.  Shouldn’t be too hard, I’ve done it before, though memory is hazy and I don’t think it went quite like that, but I do have a much more developed brain and vastly more experience.  What could possibly go wrong?  A couple of infants with a proclivity for grovelling in mud, which I will quickly stop despite mud being freely available around the property, and a belief that every material is potential foodstuff will surely be easy to curtail.  I will report back to you my successes and triumphs in child raising.  

Henry at work

Henry at work

A couple of days ago I was chatting to a guest on the veranda, when his gaze went over my shoulder and I could see he wasn’t listening to a thing that I said.  Don’t you hate it when that happens and you realise they haven’t the slightest interest in what you are saying?  As I spluttered to a stop, he pointed behind me and there was a cassowary about 30m away.  It was a juvenile looking a bit uncertain about its exploration of the world.  It stayed around for a few minutes and I am pleased his family got to see it before it disappeared into the forest.  

Also the platypus entertained the guests over the weekend just around Blackbean Cottage.  I am pleased to say after a couple of years absence, they are now well ensconced in the pool next to the cottage.  Tonight as I was having dinner of chicken satay with rice, homemade coleslaw and avocados stuffed with hommus (I’m sure you wanted to know that), I heard the GALUMPH GALUMPH of a wallaby hopping across the veranda.  I’m used to the pitter-patter of tiny feet on a wooden floor, and it is usually possums, but the sound of a wallaby on a wooden floor is a magnitude louder.  It paused for a moment at the entrance to the dining room before hopping across and under the table.  Now you may consider this a bit wussy of me, but it was within a meter of my naked legs and feet and I couldn’t see it, so I moved.  It scrambled for the exit.

Wish me luck in my new venture. 

Operating a B&B Part 2

Ok, having recently written a blog (see “Operating a B&B”), but failing to get round to the subject, I had better continue.  In short, it is great.  I get to stay at home in a beautiful place, people come here, give me money and leave again.  What a sweet deal.  I once had a guest tell me I had the second best job in the world.  I thought for a bit and knew I was being suckered into the asking the obvious question, but asked it anyway.  “OK, who has the best job?”  “David Attenborough”.  Fair enough, I don’t mind coming second to the bro.  

Nearly 100% of my guests are really good people I am pleased to meet and I have enjoyed the chats I have had with many.  Nearly 100% treat the place with respect and some are even too diligent and collect the linen and some even mop their way out the door.  For the record, I actually prefer guests not to strip the beds or remake used beds, but I do appreciate the kind thought.  Just take everything you came with, so I don’t have to forward things all over the country, and leave all my stuff.  It’s my role to do the bed stripping and cleaning and stuff.  Do guests pinch stuff?  Quite the reverse.  I have missed a few pillows, probably because some people bring their own and mistake the ones they take home., but the number left accidentally or deliberately, far exceeds that paltry number.  And kitchen equipment!!!! Some guests have remarked about the range of pots pans and kitchen utensils and I modestly blush and mumble something about trying to do my best, when in fact most of it has been left by guests.  I could open a shop for secondhand frypans and utensils, but somehow doubt the market would be strong enough.  

The nicest thing is that some guests have become people I consider friends.  Hi Martin, Robert, Chantall, Sue & Iain, Ross etc etc and many have given me so much help and equipment over the years.  Of the array of IT equipment before me for instance, I was given the desktop computer (and installation and setup), the screen, the modem, the router etc.  I bought only the $39 printer which I barely use.  I had guests/friends diagnose a tricky problem with my tumble-dryer just before Xmas dinner.  I doubt you can imagine the scale of the catastrophe of having a B&B at the busiest time of the year, in the wet season, in a tropical rainforest, if you don’t have a working dryer.  Civilisation would cease.  I was able to order some special solenoids from the US over the internet that arrived in time to avert the collapse of my business.  Thanks guys.  My world would be a much smaller place without you.

General notes on operating a B&B.  Modest income well below national wage levels.  Must have no mortgage, or have another off-property income.  Must actually like people of all ages, shapes, colours, nationalities, political persuasions and abilities.  Must have sense of humour to handle odd-ball situations.  Also a sense of humour highly recommended for guests and travellers as well.  From experience, a very robust sense of humour required for travelling in Africa.  You will find it more than matched by the beautiful African sense of humour, well developed as a survival strategy.  That is if it isn’t trumped by the need to earn a crust, an even more important survival strategy.  The operator must also be flexible in working hours.  Actually, it is a pretty slack job, but with bursts of activity according to guest comings and goings.  

And finally the operator must get satisfaction from providing a generous, relaxing, renewing, educational, enjoyable experience.  In other words, my happiness depends on yours.  Having just written that, I think it could be a catch-call for world peace, but hey, I operate in a small sphere and only apply it to myself.  I take particular satisfaction in providing a wild experience for kids.  A few kids can’t handle it and may get technology withdrawal symptoms, but most like the wildness and the mystery of what is over the ridge? behind the next tree?  Dr Suzuki has remarked (paraphrasing) that kids these days get 90% of what they know about the natural world from the television but there is no substitute for touching, smelling and feeling.  It engages the emotional parts of the brain and has a much more powerful influence.  Now that there is remote sensing of brain activity without the inconvenience of drilling holes in kids heads and shoving wires into the brain, the research seems to be getting greater approval from the ethics committees.  Can’t imagine why.  Anyway, it seems that kids brains really light up in all areas and prioritise memories that have emotional content.  A BGO.  Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious.  Scientists should have saved the expense of machines costing a million dollars each and just asked Mary Poppins.  

Very relaxed wallaby

Very relaxed wallaby

I took this pic a few minutes ago just outside my kitchen window.  A very relaxed wallaby just 4m from my kitchen sink.  I have seen a lot of wallabies , and today I have seen at least a dozen without looking for them, but I have never seen one sitting on it’s bum before.  Nothing to do with the blog, but I thought you would like to see it.