A touch of nostalgia — photos I took in October 2008

These come from the photoblog that I started after my friend Sirdan gave me his old digital camera! They are thus from 13 years ago!

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Central Station, Eddy Avenue — SGHS students heading for the trains. Now there are tram lines here!
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Hay and Pitt Street pedestrian crossing
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Jacaranda, East Redfern
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Ward Park, Surry Hills
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A Surry Hills lane
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Moore Park, Sydney Boys High on a cold spring day
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The English staff room, Sydney Boys High. The desk next to this sink was mine at one time!

Let’s do the timewarp again: 2020, 2011, 1991!

Strap in! We’re spinning back!

I’ve been through Bogan Gate!

Posted on  by Neil

Over 50 years ago now! I posted about the experience in 2008.

I flew to Parkes and then caught the wheat train to Trundle via Bogan Gate. There was a passenger car on the back. It was a very slow train, taking almost all day to get to the end of the line. Just how slow you may see for yourself, though this one has no passenger car on the back…

…Blogger and broadcaster James O’Brien recently posted PARKES TO GRIFFITH.

Along the way we had also stopped at Condobolin (which I’ve blogged about separately) and the wonderfully named, “Bogan Gate” made famous a couple of years in this You-Tube video.

It is hilarious and informative! Scored 95,306 views since December 16, 2015. Mitchell Coombs was around 19 at that time. He has gone on to a career in media and is a powerful advocate for acceptance and diversity. I have selected just two of his many videos that have followed that Bogan Gate tour. I strongly recommend exploring on YouTube (or Facebook) for yourself….

2021: Particularly Facebook where he posts at least one story a day! I always watch them. And if you go to the original 2020 post there is more of his work.

It appears I took a rest from blogging on 14 October 2011.

Back again

Posted on  by Neil

Took a break from the internet for the past day and a half. Partly I was busy doing other things, partly I was reading. Reading went well, but there are future posts on that…

Meantime the same jerks are in the news. Who cares? Really!

Yes, back when Tony Abbott was actually (unfortunately) relevant. Before his attention-getting tour of Taiwan where he did a good version of this:

The day before I had posted:

Oh Lordie, Lordie! I am posting from Carbon Central NSW and the sky…

Posted on  by Neil

… is still there.

Indeed The Illawarra Mercury leads today with a far more exciting story.

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The carbon tax did feature a few days back, as an incidental:

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Didn’t quite work out though. First, in 2014 Gujarat NRE changes name to Wollongong Coal. Then from 2019: Wollongong Coal Ltd v Gujarat NRE India Pty Ltd [2019] NSWCA 135.

Now the big leap back to preblogging days, indeed pre-Internet for me! Michael Xu and I were living in Redfern; it was our first year together. Enjoy — but you have to go to YouTube. It is worth it! “Ross Symonds presents a weekend edition of Seven Nightly News in 1991 from the Epping, Sydney television studios of ATN-7.”

First day after lockdown here in The Gong…

And more widely of course. I have already expressed some doubts about the way it is being done, and the pace. But we shall see… Today selections from the past weeks.

Breaking news — lockdown

Posted on  by Neil

Current stay at home orders will be extended across all of Greater Sydney including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong from 6pm today (June 26) until 11:59pm Friday July 9.

Everyone in these areas must stay home unless it is for an essential reason:-

-Shopping for food or other essential goods or services

– Medical care or compassionate needs (you may leave home for a covid-19 vaccination unless you have been identified as a close contact)

– Exercise outdoors in groups of 10 or fewer

– Essential work or education where you cannot work or study from home

Community sport will not be permitted during this time.

Weddings will not be permitted from 11:59pm Sunday June 27.

Funerals will be limited to 1 person per 4sqm with a cap of 100 people and masks must be worn indoors…

From our Wollongong lockdown…

Posted on  by Neil

Hoping Willie was right — and anyway the song suits one of my advancing years…. Enjoy.

So, I am rather glad that I went to the Illawarra Leagues Club on Friday for a last meal for a while of their excellent fish and calamari special (@ $7.95!) Took this photo, which now sits at the top of my Facebook:

And I put in the latest footie tips — but I guess that is also now in limbo.

Remembering last year — search this blog for lockdown.

For example, 12 months on from when the pandemic shut down Wollongong. An extract:

So here we are in shutdown…

Posted on March 23, 2020 by Neil

And here, thanks to Siouxsie Wiles and Toby Morris in NZ, is one good reason:

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NOTE: 11/10/21 — Illawarra Leagues is not opening today. It is one of five in the Collegians network, only two of which open on the 11th. Perhaps they had problems staffing a full opening right now?

And “At 8.00pm Sunday, there were 669 confirmed cases of coronavirus in NSW — an increase of 136 in 24 hours.”  And “A major crackdown on gatherings will see the closure of indoor venues, including pubs, clubs, sporting and religious venues from midday today in response to the coronavirus pandemic.”

So this morning Wollongong City Diggers posted on Facebook:

Dear Members and Guests, due to an announcement overnight that Clubs will be shut from midday, we have decided not to trade for a short 2.5 hours and then close again. This means Bingo is off, cafe, bistro, bar and gaming are all closed. Anyone with functions still booked will be notified of cancellations. However we will be using this time to commence shutdown procedures and thoroughly cleaning all areas. Obviously, we are unsure when we will reopen, this will be up to the Government and health authorities. We apologise for any inconvenience

And Ziggy’s House of Nomms, to choose just one of the regular Friday lunch haunts of Chris T and myself.

Of course the fact it is now the Delta strain of the virus makes the situation scarier, as NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says, (And by the way I am simply not going to play partisan politics. I am well used to the fact that fallible humans sit in our parliaments, not Batman, Captain America, or Wonder Woman.)

And let’s face it, we have been very lucky — almost 12 months of comparatively normal life, thanks to our being an island, and also thanks to governments and people doing at least quite a few things right.

Lockdown

Posted on  by Neil

Yes, our Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, did not mince her words yesterday.

Gladys was forthright:

“And I’ll be shocked if it’s less than 100 this time tomorrow of additional new cases,” she said.

“So we can’t stress enough the importance of not only following the rules but also realising the risk that the people who will suffer the most.

“If you don’t worry about yourself, that’s your decision. But think about your closest family members, your closest people in your life, they’re the people that are most impacted.”

And I just saw on Sky Up to Sh*t the juvenile Dolt from the IPA adding his bit to undermining the message. Like father like son. I will not link to their nonsense.

On Facebook today I had a manifesto moment.

In keeping with my attitude over a considerable period, I personally will refrain from political comment on the current COVID outbreak in Greater Sydney including Illawarra, particularly what may be called bitching and moaning comments. There are enough such voices screaming into cyberspace already.

Instead, focus on the objective facts of what we are confronting and do whatever it takes to support every effort to deal with those facts, including police action if it is necessary.

I would certainly include the more recent asinine comments on Sky from yesterday’s man Alan Jones among those whose bitching and moaning are to be ignored. I also on the other hand have stopped taking too much notice of Crikey.com. I do keep an eye on people who really do have something to say based on solid expertise, such as Bill Bowtell or Professor Doherty or Raina MacIntyre — and including my own cousin Dr Julie Christison.

Bill Bowtell

But you already know that I detest politics, really, and the screaming in the dunny side of social media. But maybe that is just me.

And (in passing and I won’t elaborate) it is a shame, and quite ironic really given the attention paid to ScoMo’s religion, sometimes unfairly, that on this issue we have a Prime Minister who is FAR from charismatic!

Stay safe everyone, and try to stay positive.

For every political post, post something beautiful or uplifting, because this world needs such things even more today!

Latest too is that a Wollongong suburb, Fairy Meadow, has hit the list of affected places.

Lockdown — 2

Posted on  by Neil

I didn’t plan to post today, but here is an update.

The club was my social bubble, and I do miss it. This internet (and Facebook) do help.

Illawarra Leagues Club

And though the Great Tipping Competition is in limbo, I still pursue the game…

And the next day I began the Various lockdown hacks and escapes series. There would eventually be 75. The lockdown itself was 107 days.

Yesterday NSW Health posted:

There have been 431 COVID-19 related deaths in NSW since 16 June 2021 and 487 in total since the start of the pandemic.

There have been 62,847 locally acquired cases reported since 16 June 2021, when the first case in this outbreak was reported.

Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 74 — five years ago…

They say this weekend will be the last in lockdown here in The Gong. But we have a new Premier whose right-wing zeal exceeds by far his common sense or respect for medical advice, so he has been fiddling with the rules governing the timetable for opening up. Not everyone is impressed.

Cathy Wilcox, Sydney Morning Herald

I do wonder if this will be the Premier’s Ruby Princess moment! Of course I hope not, but it may be “interesting” to review the Covid-19 stats for NSW in 5-7 days!

Now to five years ago — just a couple of entries from October 2016.

Crossing the Bar: Tennyson

Posted on  by Neil

This was a favourite of my mother.

Sunset and evening star,
         And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
         When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
         Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
         Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
         And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
         When I embark;

For though from out our bourne of Time and Place
         The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
         When I have crossed the bar.

I quote it today as yesterday at Diggers I learned that an ex-student from The Illawarra Grammar School, Peter D (Class of 1974), has passed away. He had been very ill for a long time. I used to see him and his wife at Steelers and, until recently, at Diggers. He was 59.

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Body language, cross-cultural communication, Trump etc…

Posted on  by Neil

I see Tony Abbott has gone into bat for The Donald. That figures…

Mr Abbott defended Mr Trump’s policies, which include building a wall between Mexico and the United States to repel migrants, as reasonable.

“Many of the Trump positions are reasonable enough,” he said.

Mind you, I don’t entirely disagree with what Tony Abbott says there about T’s supporters. It is worth reading David A Hill Jr, I Listened to a Trump Supporter.

She was a family friend, a good person. In rural Ohio, everything was tight. Money, jobs. If you really needed quick cash, she’d put you to work doing landscaping. She’d pay fairly and reliably for the area.

She’s voting for Donald Trump. I disagree with her choice, but I understand why she rejects Clinton so fiercely, and why she’s been swept up in Donald Trump’s particular brand of right-wing populism. I feel that on the left, it’s increasingly easy to ignore these people, to disregard them, to write them off as racists, bigots, or uneducated. I think that’s a loss for everyone involved, and that sometimes listening can help you to at least understand why a person is making the choices they make, so you can work on the root causes.

Hat tip to Alex Au in Singapore for that article.

Meanwhile The Donald himself lately does seem to be verging on the barking mad:

Florida: Donald Trump has denied a slew of new allegations of sexually predatory behaviour in an angry diatribe of speech in Florida, accusing the women who made them of fabrication and the media outlets that published them as being party to a conspiracy against him…

Mr Trump claimed a variety of forces including the Clintons and the media were seeking to rig the US election.

“Their agenda is to elect crooked Hillary Clinton at any cost, at any price, no matter how many lives they destroy. For them, it’s a war. And for them, nothing at all is out of bounds,” he said.

“This is a struggle for the survival of our nation. Believe me. And this will be our last chance to save it on November 8. Remember that.”

Sorry. Did I really say “verging on” then?

OK, back to that second debate. I found myself riveted all through – yes I watched the whole show – by the body language, especially The Donald’s. What a study in proxemics!

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Pure monstering. The stills barely capture the effect that the pacing and scowling communicated. Not a nice man.

All that had me thinking again of what I learned from the 1990s on in my ESL studies and practice about cross-cultural communication, and the topic in fact came up earlier this week in conversation at Diggers with someone who spent considerable time in PNG and S-E Asia. A summary directed at business people is Different Cultural Communication Styles.

Factoring in personal space expectations between cultures enhances communication in any social or business setting. While Northern Europeans and European Americans feel most comfortable at an arm’s length away in a social interaction, Hispanics would consider that distance unfriendly. Knowing what is expected is helpful. Eye contact and touch etiquette also vary dramatically in different cultures. Asian cultures do not believe in touching in public settings, and they don’t favor direct eye contact. Like the Asian culture, Hispanics also view direct eye contact as a lack of respect. One significant difference between these two cultures is the way touching in public is perceived. Hispanics are a “high touch” society. Before meeting with a different culture, it is best to learn about these etiquette considerations.

That’s just one aspect. Oriented to schools is Communicating Across Cultures from the Victorian Education Department.

Interpretations of verbal communication can be culturally based. Misunderstandings can easily arise. For example in some cultures:

  • It is impolite to speak without being specifically asked by a superior, thus some students will not say hello, will not volunteer answers and will not answer generally directed questions.
  • It is not appropriate to refuse a request, thus saying ‘yes’ may mean ‘I am listening’, or ‘maybe’, or ‘no’. Avoidance behaviour rather than contradiction is used i.e. not doing what is requested is the polite response, as opposed to saying directly ‘no’.
  • Direct confrontation is to be avoided. It is more important to maintain the relationship, then to find an answer to an immediate disputed issue or problem. This contrasts with the anglo-Australian approach of trying to resolve issues by frank and open discussion of the disputed issue, clearly stating personal needs and preferences and direct bargaining tactics focusing on an immediate solution.
  • Asking questions when you already know the answer, which is a common teaching technique in Australia, can indicate a lack of intelligence in some cultures.

Then at the levels prom personal to international relations see the course Dealing Constructively with Intractable Conflicts, particularly Michelle Le Baron, Cross-Cultural Communication.

The challenge is that even with all the good will in the world, miscommunication is likely to happen, especially when there are significant cultural differences between communicators. Miscommunication may lead to conflict, or aggravate conflict that already exists. We make — whether it is clear to us or not — quite different meaning of the world, our places in it, and our relationships with others. In this module, cross-cultural communication will be outlined and demonstrated by examples of ideas, attitudes, and behaviors involving four variables:

  • Time and Space
  • Fate and Personal Responsibility
  • Face and Face-Saving
  • Nonverbal Communication

As our familiarity with these different starting points increases, we are cultivating cultural fluency — awareness of the ways cultures operate in communication and conflict, and the ability to respond effectively to these differences.

In a multicultural society in an even more multicultural world these are areas we all need familiarity with. Back to proxemics:

The difficulty with space preferences is not that they exist, but the judgments that get attached to them. If someone is accustomed to standing or sitting very close when they are talking with another, they may see the other’s attempt to create more space as evidence of coldness, condescension, or a lack of interest. Those who are accustomed to more personal space may view attempts to get closer as pushy, disrespectful, or aggressive. Neither is correct — they are simply different.

Mind you, Trump was being “pushy, disrespectful, or aggressive”!

Related: My 1998 UTS Grad Cert TESOL assignment A Japanese Backpacker’s year in Australia may even amuse you.

Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 70 — October 3 2002

At that time I was “journalling” as I still called blogging on Diary-X. Sad what happened to Diary-X, and when it vanished entirely so did my blog. The bits preserved on the Internet Archive are few and far between. This one is still around because I copied it to a site I had on Angelfire, and that got captured by the Internet Archive. Here it is with some videos added.

3 October 2002: Vermont Street 1

At Vermont Street Monday to Friday at 5 pm without fail I would listen to the ABC Children’s Hour, a habit begun the previous year as my sister was a listener; she became an Argonaut and then so did I. I was Leda 37 (each member was allotted a “ship” and given a number), but I only ever won one Blue Certificate. Many quite prominent Australians have testified to how significant this rather odd radio program was in their lives.

Can I remember the Argonauts theme song? Let’s try:

Row, row, merry oarsmen row
That dangers lie ahead, we know, we know–
But bend with all your might
As we sail into the night
For wrongs we’re bound to right,
Jason cry–
“Adventurers,
Argonauts, row, row, row.”

Today is my brother’s birthday. Vermont Street saw many changes in his life, culminating in his marriage in 1955 (he was 19, she was 16), the last year we were there. 1953-1954 he had been in the Army, stationed at Holsworthy; it is worth recalling that the Korean War in which there were 1538 Australian casualties (including 281 killed) was still being fought up to July 1953. So by 1955 I was the only child left in our household. By the time he was 24 my brother had four children of his own. [I was wrong there I think, as that would make the 4th child born by 1959. It was actually three children at that stage. A fourth did arrive a few years later.]

My mother has written about the move to Vermont Street, what it meant, and the impact of the death of Jeanette, my sister, far more poignantly than I ever could. It was, as she said, the first home our family could call their own; Auburn Street had been rented, first by my grandfather Christison, and then by us. I had been born into a large extended family all under one roof–we were only there because of the War– though by 1949 that had come down to the nuclear family of Mum, Dad and three kids. Grandma and Grandpa Christison lived in Waratah Street which intersects with Vermont Street, so in the new house they were just around the corner. I spent almost as much time with them as I did at home, as Grandpa Christison was probably more a father to me than my father was; after all, I had known him longer! Also, he talked to me and answered all my questions–even about snails 😉

Very many days after school I would be at their place, and a regular event was to walk over the road, cut through the railway fence, and stand together by the pulsing and hissing C32 steam locomotive that at about 4.00 pm always sat on the goods line waiting for the all clear to proceed to Sydney with its train load of fresh Illawarra milk. Grandpa had befriended railway workers during his time in the country and loved to talk to the engine driver and fireman, who seemed to enjoy talking to him as well. I just loved steam engines, their smell, their heat, their sounds, their explicit power. I was fascinated too by their age: “Beyer Peacock England 1896” for example, on the side of some C32. Of course the magic moment was when the South Coast Daylight Express would come roaring down the line on its return journey to Sydney with its streamlined C38 and its beautiful Pullman carriages that I would dream of travelling in one day. Why, it would come rushing through at 60 or even 70 miles per hour! Wonderful.

3801 in full flight! See also Dennis Rittson’s Train Photos where you will find many more.

The goods trains had their excitement too, often double-headed up the hill from Jannali by a pair of deep-throated D-51s or, most exciting, one enormous D-57, or occasionally an oil-burning Baldwin (an American locomotive) or a huge Beyer-Garrett double-ended articulated loco. The latter were rare as their length and weight made them unsuitable for the Illawarra line as they tended to displace the rails on sharp bends!

A D57! Wonderful model train layout…

Now you didn’t know I knew so much about trains, did you? In those days I just loved them, and could tell even in the dead of night from my bedroom in Vermont Street just what class of engine was chuffing up the hill from Jannali, just by its sound.

My mother was less romantic about steam engines; she rather resented the black flecks of ash falling on her newly washed sheets!

The real things with sound…
The beautiful restored C38 — 2021