Moving towards spring in West Wollongong

It has been a particularly wet August here in The Gong, the upside being it hasn’t been as windy as August often is, nor has it been all that cold. As the recent rain system appeared to be breaking up last night we were afforded a rather spectacular sunset. These, as regulars would know – or indeed anyone who read yesterday’s post – are from my window.

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And I am happy to report August 2014 is already the best in this blog’s short history! More on that in a few days.

Anniversaries – life changes…

Four years in The Gong

I checked in that memory bank also known as my blog.

First morning in West Wollongong

Posted on August 26, 2010 by Neil

I’m posting this here and on the photo blog. The view from my window at 6.30 am.

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See also Home relocation progressing. And I had forgotten how long the transfer took:

State of play at The Bates Motel

Posted on September 13, 2010 by Neil

Yesterday Sirdan and Brett hired a van to bring down the boxes labelled “BOX” which now reside generally unopened here in Mount Keira Road.

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Today I went back to Surry Hills and oversaw the transfer of about 200 vinyl records plus many boxes of books to the good folk at 2MBS-FM.

Tomorrow I return for coaching, then on Friday/Saturday armed with many garbage bags and cleaning stuff I attack the bomb site that has been home for eighteen years…

Four years on I do have to admit to feeling older if not wiser, and more and more I have become a Wollongong local. My last visit to Sydney High earlier this month indicated that by next year I will actually know fewer people there as many long-standing friends/colleagues move on. So it goes.

Yesterday on the other hand was a good time of chat at Illawarra Diggers. Discovered one old regular who in his day was a scientist with the CSIRO and also a long-term resident of Montreal…

So the land of my (possibly) Dharawal ancestors has me, it seems. Not to mention of ancestors I actually remember!

Quitnet says 28 August is 42 months

You know what I mean. The stats are on US time so a bit behind Wollongong.

1277 days, 10 hours, 14 minutes and 35 seconds smoke free. 63871 cigarettes not smoked.

$48,526.00  saved.

How much???

Yes, at (shudder) two packs per day of Benson and Hedges 25s at current prices… Extra Mild of course! (Hahaha!)

Wollongong transformed — 9

This time I focus on Crown Street Mall between Wesley Uniting Church and Church Street. Workers yesterday were taking advantage of the good weather; today is much less favourable. You can see the plan pretty clearly now.

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See “The Crown Street Mall is changing daily with our contractor working hard to meet our target of completing the works by 31 October 2014.”  But also: Crown St Mall works run $3m over budget.

…three extra programs that were “not part of the original scope of works” have added an estimated $2.86 million to the project, the council said.

As part of the unplanned projects, NBN fibre-optic conduits were laid through the mall and Telstra replaced about 70 telecommunications pits, most of which contained asbestos.

The council also negotiated with Sydney Water to replace the 80-year-old high-pressure water mains running down Crown Street. The council plans to approach the water service for contributions towards the extra costs once works are complete.

Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery defended the extra costs, saying the council was given no choice but to work with Telstra, NBN Co and Sydney Water…

I saw National Broadband Network  laying fibre-optic cable in Church Street about a week ago.

On the new centre in Keira Street see previous posts and “GPT’S new shopping centre on the western side of Keira Street, Wollongong, has received the tick of approval from senior citizens.”

Choy sum in West Wollongong

See 5 Chinese vegetables and Wikipedia.

Choy sum or choi sum (Chinese: 菜心) also known as the Chinese Flowering Cabbage, literally means “vegetable heart” in Cantonese if directly translated.

And very tasty these Chinese greens are too, when cooked appropriately.

A rather wonderful old house in Crown Street West Wollongong was occupied again in the past year by an Asian family. The house seems long to have been empty. See Old houses in West Wollongong — 2 (2011). There had also been another abandoned house next door, as in this 2012 post: Jacaranda, flame tree and abandoned house. That house was transported to another part of Wollongong: West Wollongong house on the move, West Wollongong house on the move — gone.

The new occupants seem to have also taken the land on which that second house stood. On part of it they have planted Chinese greens, with a second patch in the front garden of the first house. They appear to be for their own kitchen. Recent rain has really seen the veggies thrive.

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Two kinds of people on earth to-day…

Last night I made an amazing discovery, an aspect of myself of which I had hitherto been unaware. Or perhaps now I am a septuagenarian it has developed as part of the general unravelling one has to expect. To adapt the words of the Bard of Wisconsin:

THERE are two kinds of people on earth to-day
Just two kinds of people, no more, I say.

Not the humble and proud, for in life’s little span,
Who puts on vain airs, is not counted a man.

Not the happy and sad, for the swift flying years
Bring each man his laughter and each man his tears.

No; the two kinds of people on earth I mean,
Are those whose pee stinks, and those whose is clean.

Last night, you see, I had a pasta dish from Woolworths that contained quite a bit of asparagus, a vegetable I rarely eat because as a child I found the following version slimy and repulsive:

12221jpg I am sure that is a really excellent product, by the way. I speak only of my taste as a child. I didn’t like pumpkin much either, but I do now. And the Woolies pasta dish was not too bad either.

However, on peeing later on – more than once being a septuagenarian – I encountered The Phenomenon. There was more than a whiff of sulphur in the air, reminiscent of but not quite as strong as the hydrogen sulphide or rotten egg gas that we no doubt have all experienced at some time. And it was definitely coming from my pee!

Is this some dreadful disease, I wondered briefly, until thinking ASPARAGUS! And maybe shiraz as well…

No less an institution than the Smithsonian confirmed my suspicions. And so did the ABC’s Dr Karl.

We humans have been eating asparagus for thousands of years. Indeed, asparagus is shown on a 5000-year-old Egyptian stone carving.

The ancient Romans and Greeks prized asparagus. And it was easy to find. Some 300 different species grow naturally between Siberia and Southern Africa.

Now when some of us eat asparagus, shortly afterwards our urine smells very stinky, something like rotten or boiled cabbage, or even ammonia. But not all of us can generate, or make, this odour.

Now here’s something surprising. Not everybody can detect, or smell, this odour.

There is apparently a genetic element at work here, by which some are smellers and some are not. Not entirely simple though, as John H McDonald, a geneticist from the University of Delaware explains in considerable detail.

After they eat asparagus, some people notice that their urine has a strong, unusual odor. Other people don’t notice anything unusual. This was first thought to result from genetic variation in whether or not sulfur compounds in asparagus were secreted into the urine, with the allele for secreting being dominant. Later it was suggested that everyone secretes the compounds in their urine, but only some people can smell the compounds. Better-controlled experiments have shown that there is variation in both traits; some people secrete the compounds in their urine but can’t smell them, while some people don’t secrete the compounds but can smell them in other people’s urine. This complication means that the ability to smell stinky compounds in one’s own urine after eating asparagus is not a simple genetic trait. It is not known whether the two separate traits, secreting the compounds and being able to smell them, have a simple genetic basis.

I wish Americans would learn how to spell sulphur though…