Tuesday, December 23, 2008


MB is puzzled by the popularity on her Flickr site of a rather obscure photo of a pavement tile she spotted in Tokyo illustrated with a Panda Bear.  This photo was uploaded in May 2005 and is now the most viewed photo her Flickr site, just trumping her photo of Norm's Coolie Dogs taken in Tanunda, South Australia.
MB finds that collecting photos of things she loves, ie Panda Bears, is much easier than cluttering up her life with panda toys and other panda ephemera. 
One would be hard pressed to predict the popularity of these photos.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Mike Silverman, aka That1Guy, was in town last week and did a show at the Tanks last Friday night.  MDR spotted a newspaper article about the show and remembered seeing this guy on Spicks & Specks.
Mike is a one man band, a classically trained bassist who has developed a home made pipe and string instrument/synthesiser, shaped a bit like a harp, he calls it his magic pipe.
The Tanks is as the name suggests, an old water storage tank, converted to a very funky venue, only downside is there is no air conditioning, so That1Guy performed in what must have been 30c and 95% humidity.  He put on an amazing, energetic and intriguing show, his music covers the whole spectrum from classical to techno, using his magic pipe as well as a cowboy boot, and a carpenters saw (both of these were plugged into the amplifier by the way). 
A really good show, amazing music and the lyrics of some of the stuff he has written are crazy, reminiscent of Frank Zappa.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

DVD Rulz

Flicking through today's Weekend Australian Magazine MB was struck by the many advertisements for DVDs, 9 large adverts in total, compared to 4 adverts for books. She then read in the The Australian Review that Aussies are bigger consumers of DVDs than Americans & Brits (Michael Bodey "DVD Letterbox"). MB thinks she knows at least one of the major reasons why this is so, both free to air and pay TV push so many damn ads on us the viewing public that we now prefer to watch our favourite series on DVD.
I noticed on free to air TV in the UK that ads were infrequent and limited to 2 or perhaps 3 ads per ad break, I found out the reason for this some time later when I was looking at the BBC website, TV licensing. Every TV in the UK must be licensed with the annual cost per TV being £139.50 per annum. This funds the great tv programming being produced in the UK.
There is also some wonderful TV being produced in Australia, albeit on a much smaller scale, mostly by the ABC. I notice Channel Nine's latest local offering is "The Waiting Room" a reality series made in a hospital waiting room. The think tank must've been working overtime to dream that one up. To give them credit though they did produce Underbelly which was sensational, all the better too as a lot of unknown talent starred, giving the series a really fresh appeal. Due to the aforementioned advertising down your throat issue, the MB family only watched Underbelly on DVD and is looking forward to the next series - on DVD of course!
Even good ol' SBS is running advertising during programs which is such a dreadful shame. It won't be long before someone puts a subscription only ad-free channel on air, MB for one would happily pay a couple of bucks a week for the privilege of not having to endure inane advertising during her TV viewing.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

£1,000,000 Prize for 100% Chemical Free Material

Some very frustrated boffins at the Royal Society of Chemistry have become incensed that the word "chemical" now more or less means "poisonous", and have offered one million pounds to "the first member of the public who can place in the hands of the director of the RSC any material considered 100% chemical free".

Red Pen Detrimental to Mental Health

Queensland teachers are being advised not to use red pen to mark students' work as it may affect their mental health.
Apparently red "can be seen as aggressive". See the full article at http://tinyurl.com/5byzpb
Might be time to get into Bubblewrap Futures it will no doubt become a growth industry!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Asper Park Open Garden, 30 November 2008

One couldn't find nicer and more convivial hosts than Viv & Susan Stephens, pioneers of bamboo shoot farming on the Atherton Tablelands who opened up their property to the public yesterday under the banner of the excellent Australian Open Garden scheme.
Asper Park is little gem of an acreage just outside of Atherton on the Ravenshoe road which the Stephens have converted from bare farming land to an oasis of European style gardens with an adjoining bamboo grove.
The farm is named for the variety of Indonesian Bamboo the Stephens are growing for it's shoots, Dendrocalamus Asper, a large clumping variety that grows to 30m tall.
A group of about 20 visitors from all sorts of backgrounds, farmers, retirees and urban types with dreams of farmlets, turned up at 9:30am on an overcast and humid Sunday morning for a 2 hour tour of the property and learnt just about everything there is to know about cultivating and harvesting bamboo shoots.
The Stephens are passionate about bamboo and were unstintingly generous in sharing their extensive knowledge and experience of bamboo farming since 2000 when they first planted their bamboo culms.
Not only is the bamboo grove an incoming producing farm, it is incredibly peaceful with a stillness and serenity that feels other worldly, it would be a wonderful place for contemplation and meditation.
Viv & Susan's gamble to grow a food crop that is barely known in Australia has been spectacularly successful with all of their bamboo shoots pre-sold to mostly Asian restaurants in Sydney. Viv explained the myriad other uses for bamboo which have not taken off in Australia; pulping of bamboo cane for fibre which can be used for flooring, fabric and paper, activated charcoal products - bamboo produces very high quality carbon and the obvious other bamboo appications fencing, screening and furniture making. Amazingly enough this is only scratching the surface as the uses for bamboo in Asia are even more surprising; bamboo is trained and grown into specific shapes to make musical instruments, such as saxophones and horns, as well as the better known flutes. MB saw for sale in China bamboo sleeping mats which were made of very small bamboo "tiles" woven together. Didn't look very comfortable but millions of Chinese can't be wrong!
MDR has been looking for some bamboo poles for some time to build a fence and Viv was kind enough to offer him some bamboo poles when the next thinning is done in about a month's time.
MDR & MB did also get to taste fresh bamboo shoot, and some of Susan's pickled bamboo shoot, which is very popular with corned beef at Olivera's deli in Innisfail. The fresh shoot was very refreshing and juicy with a slight nutty flavour, would be absolutely delicious in a stir-fry dish. Alas the shoots are only just coming into season, perhaps later in the month MB can get her hands on some fresh shoots to experiment with at home.

Leapin' Leeches

A hot summer's day on the Atherton Tablelands wouldn't be complete without a waterfall visit.
After visiting Asper Park MDR & MB went for a dip at Elinjaa Falls near Millaa Millaa which has a beautiful deep rockpool at it's base, just the ticket for a hot and humid day.
MB was trying to photograph some gorgeous irredescent blue dragonflies (unsuccessfully!) on the creek and noticed when she got back to the shore that a leech had attached itself to her arm, the ruddy thing was sucking her blood.
With some difficulty she pulled the little critter off then horrified some tourists that had just arrived at the falls with her leech story. The poor tourists looked a bit nervous about staying there when they realised there were leeches lurking!