Spammed to Death

To the few people interested in my Possum Valley blogs, I have to inform you that you will no longer get a notification email that I have posted a new blog.  In fact you probably wont see this advice because unless you casually check my blog from time to time, as I have already deactivated the ‘subscribe’ plug-in.  I have had about 1800 subscribers for some time, quite aware that most were machines as I really don’t know that many people in Russia or Poland.  I really don’t understand what advantage ‘the bots’ give to their originators, but recently I have been overwhelmed by about 20-30 new user subscriptions every day and all those notifications from my website land in my email.  They are all from the same source as the form is the same with “meet Carmen and Alice (or any combination of girls names)” as a link I have never clicked on.  I first thought I may be able to block them as the were mostly from .ru, Russia, but they are coming from all over the globe now on an industrial scale with different domains and countries.  So apart form my own website spamming me to add to the piles of spam I already get about such things as “SEO optimisation” for my website, when I add a new post, my own website adds to the Worldwide Waste of bandWidth (WWW), with thousands of unwanted emails.  I have inadvertently become a spammer myself.

OK, so I have deactivated the subscribe plug-in but still got spammed, so I deleted the app and all data and still got spammed.  I looked at the front end of my site and the invitations to subscribe are gone but I still get a few from “chat with Carla and Simone”.  But the numbers do seem to be dwindling.  

Amongst my IT woes are my tax returns.  The only work I don’t do myself is tax returns.  Australia boasts the most voluminous and complicated tax laws in the world and when you have a business, however small, it is almost impossible to understand.  So I have employed an accountant for the last couple of decades.  In the first few years I used to take in masses of bits of paper for the accountant to muse over.  Then in 2002 I joined the digital era with ‘Quickbooks’ and took in a CD and then a DVD with the data on it.  After a decade, my program was no longer supported by up-dates and the accountant could no longer open the files.  But I found if I emailed the files to them they could open them.  This has worked for the last 8 years or so, but no longer.  I only found out about this last week when Centerlink was hassling me about business detail updates and I realised I had seen nothing from the accountants since I submitted the data in Sept 2018.  Only when I called in did I learn they couldn’t open the files I sent then.  8 months of inaction left me jammed up against a Centerlink deadline to submit my tax returns.  So I was faced with the prospect of purchasing new accounting software and the nightmare of setting up a company and defining accounts and categories of expenses and incomes, suppliers and customers and all that shit.  

Then my accountant emailed to suggest if I printed out a few reports from my program and brought them in they could process my tax return.  So I printed out the data onto 20 sheets of crushed trees, and took them by hand to the office of my accountant who I have never met, and left them with the receptionist.  It struck me as ironic that after 20 years of digital accounting, I had gone full circle and was again submitting my accounts on paper.

In other news, I must apologize to guests that my rebuild of the sauna burnt down Xmas last year has been much hindered by a protracted wet season, other obligations, and now more bad weather with a cyclone in mid May.  Mid May??!! Yeah, OK, excuses excuses, but I am working on it.  I now have the frame and half the roof.

For the forthcoming election I have already voted like 3 million other people who couldn’t endure the puerile debate.  I wasn’t offered my first choice which was the popular option of kidnapping Jacinda Ahern and chaining her to a desk in Canberra.  Then again, perhaps not a good choice as the prospect of the all blacks rampaging in retaliation in the streets of our capital is too frightful to bear.  

Recent Wildlife Sightings

Wildlife gets out there and has to hustle for a living come rain or shine.  Birds, having a high metabolic rate have to do it every day.  Snakes, being cold-blooded can endure weeks of bad weather before hunger drives them to action.  Humans for the most part have divorced themselves from any effect of the weather and now more than 50% of humanity lives in cities and can go from garage to underground car-park in sealed pods we call cars without having to put up with inconveniences of inclement weather.  Those people greatly affected by the weather have dwindled to less than 2% of the population in Australia and are increasingly elderly, but manage to totter about to provide everything we eat and add significant export revenues as well.  We call them farmers.  Somehow, we have entirely taken them for granted and lavish riches on sports stars and IT entrepreneurs catering to our whims.  Actually, I think eating is far more important.

Tree roo

Oh dear, I have already gone off-track.  Try again.  In the last week, guests at Blackbean Cottage had a window seat of a tree kangaroo contentedly feeding for 3 hours.  For most of the party it was their first view of a tree roo in the wild.  They could not believe how clumsy it was getting about in the trees.  I’ve seen goats that were more nimble at climbing trees in Africa.  They have got a way to go before fitting the “adapted to environment” paradigm espoused by Darwin.  

 

 

 

 

2m red-bellied black snake

In a few recent days of sunshine (two to be precise), after a long wet spell, the snakes were about.  Black snakes, probably red-bellied but I didn’t trouble them for identification, were everywhere.  Only the world’s 14th most venomous snake, they are close to harmless.  They are so passive as to be no threat.  The Zen Buddhists of the snake world.  I have stood on them half a dozen times without reprisal.  They do flatten their fore-body though to warn off assailants.  Thank you Mick for this recent pic

I look after my grandchildren for a couple of days a week and Henry the elder at nearly 5 likes me to go along the track hacking back fallen vegetation with my machete that I boast about in my last blog.  So though I didn’t think there was urgent need, I gave in to his demands to clear the track.  He also advises me when the road drains need attention.  Can’t say I have ever come across another kid with an eye for drains. I am hacking away at obstructive plants when he hangs out of the car and says “cassowary”.  He has never seen one but relates to story books I read from the local library.  I turn around and just three paces behind me is a cassowary.  We regard each other for a while before it turns and slowly paces around the car. 

I only intended a quick hack so I had left the engine running.  I turn it off and talk to the kids about cassowaries and how they can be dangerous and have strong legs and big claws.  It continues to circle the car just a few meters away, so I put the kids in the back tray of the duel cab for a better look but out of the way in case the bird is having a bad hair day.  It crosses the road again and we can see its robust legs and long claws even bigger than I remember.  I point out the brilliant colours of its head and neck and the glistening iridescent of the feathers to try and key their memories.  It was at least 5 minutes circling the car when I heard traffic.  Guests arriving and we were just around a blind corner so I walked past the bird to slow down the new arrivals.  The cassowary decided that was too much company and disappeared so they didn’t get to see it, but they didn’t think I was having them on as the driver pointed out some droppings on the road.  A fresh turd bigger than a cow pat with seeds the size of walnuts was sitting in the road.  Many trees with large seeds rely entirely on the cassowary for seed dispersal. 

tree roo and joey

About a week ago I was on the veranda hard at work with the Times cryptic crossword when a tree kangaroo hopped around the wood stack on the patio in its usual halting leisurely way before climbing the fig tree right next to the veranda.  I knew the guests at Blackbean Cottage were interested in wildlife so I went down to invite them to see it.  We got back there a few minutes later and I was embarrassed to find it had gone as I examined the small 4m high tree.  But the guests looked harder and saw its tail hanging down and then the whole animal.  I knew where it was and just a few meters away but I was unable to see it until I got in just the right spot.  A couple of hours later when it was satisfied it wasn’t being watched, it clambered down onto the veranda and looked around for a while bewildered by it’s new and barren surroundings before hopping down the stairs and off into the forest.  I have an affinity for these strange, clumsy, intellectually challenged animals.  

Recent possum pic. thanks Jim

I think there is the possibility that my grand kids might be the last generation to see any remnants of an intact ecosystem.  It seems that the complete dominance and subjugation of the environment for human needs is imminent and inevitable.  I won’t be around for the end game there, but it seems to be the way it is going.  It won’t end well.

Keep Trying

Decades ago I saw this old crosscut saw in a second hand shop for about $20 I suppose.  Not your hardware store version version to use on a sawhorse with a piece of 4 by 2, this was nearly 2m long with big teeth and perpendicular handles at each … [Continue reading]

I got a divorce today

Well, not exactly. I signed the legal papers with my wife in front of a JP and they will be filed in a court hearing in Cairns. Neither of us will attend as there are no disputes or child custody issues as our kids are grown with kids of their own. … [Continue reading]

Note to Younger Self: A Retrospective

I feel it is about time for a bit of introspective contemplation about my life now that I have completed the many stages of:- childhood, puberty, teenage angst, young arrogance, adult optimism, marriage and kids, middle-age cynicism, and now spending … [Continue reading]

Droughts and Flooding Rains

The poem by Dorothea Mackellar promised the extremes, but Australia is big enough to have them both at once.  The red center and the south have been sizzling for the past month and yesterday Adelaide achieved the dubious honour of a record … [Continue reading]

Power Pole Problem

A few days ago I heard a crack and the power went off.  I went outside and the inverter had tripped out.  Then a guest from Blackbean Cottage came to tell me the power had gone and a brief investigation showed transmission wires from the … [Continue reading]

Sauna Mishap

Yesterday the sauna hut burnt to the ground.  I am pleased to say that nobody was hurt.  Some guests had lit the fire then gone for a walk.  A guest from the other cottage had gone past, not to partake of a sauna, but as is his bent … [Continue reading]