Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 63 — inspiring or interesting finds

With all that has been said and done lately about China and the weirdly named and maybe ill-begotten AUKUS (in reverse SUKU-A) this story, while featuring, has been less prominent than it deserves to be. Our ABC has been taking notice:

Cyrus Janssen is no fool but is quite admittedly friendly to China and its regime. He is worth listening to.

I just wanted to draw your attention to the story in case you haven’t noted it yet. But now I just want to share some delightful finds. First is one of the most amazing photos you will ever see — though chances are you have already seen it! This explains the context:

Yesterday CNN released a big photo and showed it to the whole world…
… a picture that will remain in history… taken by the lens of photographer Anil Prabhakar in the forest in Indonesia.
The image shows an orangutan currently under threat of extinction while stretching out his hand to help a geologist who fell into a mud pool during his search…
… a touching scene…
A great lesson for people who threaten their habitat and its kind…
When the photographer uploaded the photo, he wrote above:
In a time when the concept of humanity dies, animals lead us to the principles of humanity…
… Let’s think…

Question: Or is this a fake? FB now warns that it has insufficient context.

Rather different — very different! — is this cartoon, which appeals to me given that COVID in recent weeks has made me an online supermarket shopper!

Well, that will do for today! I am, by the way, expecting my latest Woolworth’s order to be delivered contact-free later today!

Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 61 — good sense is out there

One does despair at times — when for example seeing the abysmal level of live comments when NSW Health is updating us on the Covid situation. So it is nice to find on YouTube that sane people — even sane young people — do exist, and that indeed some are in America!

Poor things!

But how refreshing to have found this young man. I will share two of his reaction vlog items.

The first is about how workers are treated in America, compared to other countries. He does not mention Australia, but I would hope we will never follow the USA in this respect, as much as some in the government here and of course the bloody IPA want us to. The second is about health care. Enough said really. What an honest, clear-sighted and articulate young man this Jps is!

On Facebook when I shared the following video — the first of his I had watched — I said: Have a look at this nice young man — and what he is watching even more so! And take another look at ourselves too…. You may well conclude that trade unions really are necessary and that anything the IPA wants we shouldn’t do….

Now the second on medical care. On Facebook I said:

I am so glad that I live in Australia where (for example) next Wednesday [today!] I have an appointment at the Wollongong Medical Centre for some necessary podiatry. Cost charged to me? $0. Had my second Covid jab on 9th September. Cost to me? $0. Had some medications made up at the chemist. Cost to me? Around $6 each. And so on…

Even if you have a specialist consultation and are charged, say, $200, Medibank will normally refund around 75% of that.

The American Way? Keep it! Not interested! The killer for me in this video was the cost per arterial stent in the USA @$19,000! I had a stent put in at Wollongong Hospital in 2011, including 9 days in the cardiac ward. Cost of my stent? $0!

I had then — and have since maybe 6 times — needed an ambulance. Cost to me? $0!

There are many intelligent comments on that video — and an advocate of revolution. That always sounds attractive but why should it be necessary? However, here in OZ…

DEFEND what we have zealously, people, and vote in a government without those who really do want to white-ant it, even when they make the right noises because they know attacking Medicare in Oz is political suicide. As it should be!

“You can’t go to the hospital to get help, it’s too expensive.” In what civilised country in this modern world does that make sense? It’s about time for another revolution over there guys. The American people are being walked over by these big companies and all you are doing is whining about it… Hell, a lot of you aren’t even doing that! Just shrugging your shoulders and saying ‘It’s capitalism; what ya gonna do?” ISN’T GOING TO CHANGE ANYTHING! Land of the free my ass!

In the present febrile climate too I think it does not hurt to look seriously at these.

Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 60 — it’s the Moon Festival

I see I posted on this exactly eight years ago — twice: 19 September 2013 and 20 September 2013.

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Here in West Wollongong in 2013 the Autumn Festival moon looked like this – except that it was spring of course!

One of the gains from my years with Michael Xu is an enjoyment of traditional Chinese music – truly beautiful.

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The Chinese Dulcimer or Guqin — which is what you hear in that second video.

Of course in recent years the politics has just gone totally bananas! But let us not focus on that right now. There is nothing I really can do about it — it is just sad, and very dangerous. No, let us just see the beauty of this festival right now.

The next video comes from the past day or two, from Henan TV in China. It feature the wonderful Zhou Shen, that counter-tenor we have met before — an enormously popular figure in China now. Genuinely.

We don’t need to know Chinese to enjoy the artistry of that.

The story behind the Moon Festival follows:

A bright moon rising above Tian Shan Mountain,
Lost in a vast ocean of clouds.
The long wind, across thousands upon thousands of miles,
Blows past the Jade-gate Pass.
The army of Han has gone down the Baiteng Road,
As the barbarian hordes probe at Qinghai Bay.
It is known that from the battlefield
Few ever live to return.
Men at Garrison look on the border scene,
Home thoughts deepen sorrow on their faces.
In the towered chambers tonight,
Ceaseless are the women’s sighs.

Li Bai (李白) or Li Po — 701-762

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Li Bai

Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 58 — time for more music

While by international standards we have been pretty lucky, the news yesterday was quite depressing.

Drilling down to our local area we had record numbers:

For the 24 hour period to 8pm Friday, 17 September there were 75 new COVID-19 cases recorded for the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District. Details are as follows:

47 cases who are residents of Wollongong Local Government Area (LGA) – 10 are linked to known cases and investigations are ongoing for 37 cases

17 cases who are residents of Shellharbour LGA – five are linked to known cases and investigations are ongoing for 12 cases

9 cases who are residents of Shoalhaven LGA – six are linked to known cases and investigations are ongoing for three cases

2 cases who are residents of Kiama LGA – one is linked to a known case and investigations are ongoing for the other case.

Then there was this news story, followed by a similar one in another CBD apartment block.

Health services in Wollongong have launched an emergency response to a COVID outbreak in a housing complex that supports some of the city’s most vulnerable people.

Five people in the unit block on Keira Street have tested positive to the virus.

The Wollongong Homeless Hub is a tenant of the building, leasing 30 of the 84 units, and there is a community of residents who move between apartments and use communal areas.

Homeless Hub President Bill Simpson says all of his clients are caught up in the situation.

“We’ve got up to 30 people in there,” he said.

So let the music play!

First, my favourite German/Spanish pianist and composer, Michael Andreas Häringer, turns 20 on 26 September. He has a FB event happening to raise money for his projects. I wish him well.

Next, you may remember Jack Vidgen, who won Australia’s Got Talent in 2011 when he was 14. Well, he is all grown up now at 24. He has just released a song of his own composition — not the first one — which is rather amazing, raw and personal. Here it is. Judge for yourself.

In case you might wonder after that, Jack really is looking healthy as this just posted in Twitter today shows. Note the very professional make-up mirror…

Jack Vidgen September 2021

The next is a Kazakh singer with the most amazing voice you will ever hear! Dimash Kudaibergen gained significant popularity in Kazakhstan and other post-Soviet countries in 2015 upon becoming the Grand Prix winner of Slavianski Bazaar in Vitebsk, Belarus. He rose to fame in China with his participation as a “wildcard competitor” in Hunan TV’s Singer 2017 (Chinese: 歌手2017) finishing second overall.

Truly amazing! Next a complete change of mood — the Chinese dulcimer, with the upcoming Mid-Autumn Moon Festival in mind. Also with recent regrettable political developments in mind I said on FB: When you are feeling threatened listen to this…

And I am looking forward to Woolworths delivering my food supplies today, but that is another story.

Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 34 — listen to more music…

I knew I had encountered that amazing young violinist Christian Li earlier. And indeed I had, posting about him last year on Facebook with this performance of a Chinese folk tune.

He is amazing, isn’t he? Here he is on his YouTube Channel talking about the Four Seasons album:

And here is another rendition that beautiful Chinese melody, this time by Wang Guowei on the erhu — a lovely instrument! Wang Guowei’s eclectic voice on the erhu expresses a life-long passion for the instrument and its music. With the artistry and skill of a master musician, he interprets a full range of musical genres, be it folk, classical, contemporary, or cross-cultural. Shanghai-born and now residing in the U.S., Wang Guowei is dedicated to advancing the art of erhu music as a musician, composer, and teacher.

This is so beautiful, Wang Guowei’s own composition marrying the erhu and the cello…

And another tack — the power of music (and the right words) to assist with healing, especially in the case of anxiety and panic attacks — of which unfortunately in my life I have had much experience! A friend on Facebook has been upfront about his struggles at the moment in this area.

When in the 80s and 90s I had bad anxiety attacks I had a cassette of 4 exercises by this guy — here is one — and believe it or not they would bring my heart rate down from something like 130 to around 75-80 in 20 minutes! They may or may not work for all, and can’t be used in the car obviously! I also sometimes used one of them when I did all day writing workshops at the Sydney High Rowing Sheds as a setting the mood activity!

There are some among my friends and ex-students who will remember my tape! I was delighted to find them remastered and posted on YouTube — though I do also have copies ripped from my original cassette on my computer! Yes, I still use them at times. There are many similar things, and the techniques are well-known, but I find Emmett Miller’s script and voice and Steven Halpern’s music better than any others I have heard.

That is the one that particularly worked on my heart rate, and also was the one I used in those writing workshops. The word “buttocks” did cause some sniggers from my teenage students — but they really did accept it.
This one I particularly like…