So, yesterday… And now it’s Day 2 of opening up.

Ziggy’s House of Nomms — Wollongong’s wonderful Chinese tea-house — didn’t open yesterday, but just posted on FB:

And we are all cleaned and polished ready to take your bookings, phone only, no online bookings please.

Yesterday 106-7 days of lockdown came to an end in NSW. Those days were rather like this. Remember?

For some getting a haircut was the greatest priority. I saw such a queue outside the barber shop in West Wollongong, and the Illawarra Mercury captured the early morning queue at the Figtree Centre.

The Illawarra Steelers Club opened their doors right on the stroke of midnight. I wasn’t there but did decide to make it my first stop when I went to town yesterday morning.

Alas when I got there at 9.30am there was a note on the door saying they were reopening at 11. So I walked up to City Diggers which opened at 9.30.

My friend Colin rang soon after to say he would join me there, but didn’t show up! The explanation: they would not let him in because he had no proof he had been double vaccinated. He had been. I got in with the paper given to me by the Medical Centre recording each jab. No problem.

But at lunch another Diggers and Illawarra Leagues Club friend, Maurice from Peru, had some news:

The tyranny of the app and the smart phone? OK, I had no problem at City Diggers with my old-fashioned and absolutely authentic vaccine documentation from the Wollongong Medical Centre — on paper.

But at Diggers an old Diggers and lately Collegians/Illawarra Leagues friend told me that Collegians was only accepting app and smartphone vaccine documentation. If so, this is absolutely deplorable! What are they? Sales agents for tech and smartphone interests?

If they try that on me then they will lose a member!

There have been big changes at Diggers, good changes. But not the bistro menu. You may recall it has never impressed me — in fact it was a prime reason why I (and Maurice and others) took to going the to Leagues instead. So lunch was one of the more edible specials, grilled fish, chips, and something rather laughingly called a salad.

And the Illawarra Leagues?


Unfortunately as we transition into re-opening our clubs Collegians Illawarra Leagues will remain closed.

We hope we can open our doors in the near future and will communicate an open date as soon as we possibly can.

At this time Collegians Wollongong & Collegians Balgownie open from today Monday 11th October.

But all things considered it was great to be back yesterday! I summed it up just before lunch on FB:

Just said HI to Philip from Croatia — a Diggers regular. So nice to talk to actual people face to face after all this time. Sadly my friend Col MacDonald was supposed to have a drink with me this morning but — despite being one of the most tech-savvie people I know — he had no proof of vaccination, so Diggers would not let him in!

On the other hand my old-fashioned paper statement from the Wollongong Medical Centre was accepted, no problem!

Great to chat with some random people too!

And comparatively good news when our Local Health Area’s Covid stats came through:

Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) confirms 38 local residents have tested positive to COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm last night. Of the new cases:– 17 are from the Wollongong Local Government Area (LGA) – 8 are linked to known cases Postcodes – 2500 (2 case), 2502 (4), 2505 (1), 2506 (1), 2515 (2), 2518 (1), 2525 (1), 2530 (5)

— 11 are from the Shellharbour LGA – 3 are linked to a known case Postcodes – 2527 (6), 2528 (3), 2529 (2)

— 10 are from the Shoalhaven LGA – 1 is linked to a known case Postcodes – 2540 (1), 2541 (9)

— There are no new cases from the Kiama LGA

Oh yes — also had a good phone chat with Sirdan in New Zealand.

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:

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.


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 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.


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!


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.

And in The Gong…

While the Covid-19 stats are looking a bit better for the state, and vaccination figures are very encouraging, here in Wollongong things are not so good. Yes, I know the figures look small compared with what has happened elsewhere in the world, but they still are concerning.

I updated the post before last with this graph that appeared on Facebook on Sunday:

You may see that says “Authorised by Paul Scully MP” — he is our representative in the NSW Parliament, and a good one too. There has been, though things are improving, a shortfall in supply of Pfizer vaccines to our area, resulting in the government’s special vaccine hub working below the capacity it was designed for.

There was a rather ominous news item on our local ABC on Sunday.

Wollongong Hospital has a new triage tent installed outside the entrance to the Emergency Department on Darling Street to assist with potential increases in ED demand from COVID.

The Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District says the marquee will allow ED staff to access and triage patients, perform rapid testing and transfer patients based on clinical need.

Chief Executive Margot Mains says the marquee is on stand-by and will be activated if required.

(photo: Nick McLaren, ABC Illawarra)

The stats released on Sunday at 11am were as follows:

Here is the breakdown — and do note the increase in The Gong! There were 75 new COVID-19 cases in our Health District, as follows:

59 cases who are residents of Wollongong Local Government Area — 46 the previous day – 14 are linked to known cases and 45 are under investigation

10 cases who are residents of Shellharbour LGA – six are linked to known cases and four are under investigation

5 cases who are residents of Shoalhaven LGA – three are linked to a known cases and two are under investigation

1 case who is a resident of Kiama LGA – investigations are ongoing.


Figures released today at 11.00 am: 787 new cases in the state, 63 in our Health District — so good news and bad news!

Details are as follows:

  • 43 cases who are residents of Wollongong Local Government Area (LGA) – 13 are linked to known cases and 30 are under investigation
  • 11 cases who are residents of Shellharbour LGA – 10 are linked to known cases and one is under investigation
  • 9 cases who are residents of Shoalhaven LGA – four are linked to a known cases and five are under investigation.

Sadly, the District is reporting the death of one person with COVID-19. A man in his 70s from the Wollongong LGA died at Wollongong Hospital. He was not vaccinated. The District extends its sincere condolences to his loved ones.

This is looking encouraging:

Gladys is suggesting 11 October as the day we relax quite a bit.

Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 64 — the kids and the bunnies are ok!

Yes, let’s focus today on the good stuff. First, this story is one-up on all those reactionary wankers on places like Sky — Donners for example — who have been wringing their hands and beating their breasts about the parlous state of education today. Let’s look at these kids, 15, 14 and 15 respectively.

Here is the story:

And as reported on our ABC:

The brains behind a popular COVID-19 tracking website have unmasked themselves — and much to everyone’s surprise, it turns out they’re a trio of teenage boys.

The faces behind the data website, CovidBase AU, are Jack, Darcy and Wesley and they chose the day they got their Moderna vaccinations to reveal their identities.

The group said the idea for the website came about after wanting to create a place to simplify the data and present it in an easy-to-understand format.

The website has already become a big favourite of thousands of Australians. 

“Darcy’s really skilled with coding and I’m sort of really into the news …and have been really interested in the data. So we’ve decided to take what we’ve been doing and sort of create something with it,” Jack told ABC News.

And in The Guardian:

Nick Evershed, the data and interactives editor at Guardian Australia, said CovidBaseAU had done impressive work collating hard-to-find information.

“There has been a few occasions, particularly with the numbers around vaccine imports and supply, where I’ve cross-checked my numbers against theirs,” he said.

“They did a really good job at combing through all the disparate media releases and press conferences in the early stages of the rollout to piece together a good picture of how many doses Australia was producing or importing at various points, which was extremely helpful as I was compiling similar data.”

Jack, Wesley and Darcy were praised by fellow Twitter users after revealing their identities, amassing more than 16,000 likes in a 24-hour period, as well as a part-time job offer from the head of public health at the Burnet Institute.

“You three pull off some awesome work!” Ben Krauth wrote. Prof Mark Stoove added: “Nice work boys! Need a part-time job?”

How encouraging to hear and read a story like this! The kids are OK! Check it out!

The Bunnies are headed for the Grand Final!

Yes, that deserves a big heading. They have been almost there several times in recent years — 2019 for example.

Great images of Redfern and my old stomping ground there!

Last night’s game against Manly Sea Eagles:

Check my earlier posts on this topic!

Penrith Panthers beat Melbourne Storm 10-6 this afternoon, so there is the Grand Final: Bunnies vs Panthers.