Thursday, January 26, 2012

Two mysteries

Yesterday I received an email from a nice bank security site that asked me for my details to ensure that I wasn't being hacked.  Okay so that was easy to suss out and delete.
The next one took me a while.  A phone call purporting to be from Telstra telling me that because I was an excellent payer of my bills I was going to get a discount.  Need I tell you that it sounded like the Peter Sellers Memorial call centre.  They weren't asking me to change from Telstra which is why is took some time to get suspicious and even now, I might be wrong.  The discounts sounded great apart from the fact that I don't make STD calls even capped at 90c.  But they had my phone number, my 2nd right name and address (SE water has the 1st right name) and asked for my birthdate as confirmation, no problems as every company I deal with does that.  After complimenting me on not sounding as though I was born in l948 (never getting a webcam, never) she asked for my ABN for the business I was running.  No ABN, so to get this wonderful discount, could I give them my pension card number.  By this time I was getting a bit stroppy about how much information Telstra had but was asking to be verified and the pension number was the last straw. I yelled and was handed over to a supervisor who was also told that I do not give out my pension number or my credit card number over the phone.
The supervisor was tough, she kept going on about the wonderful discount if only I would hand over that number.  The yelling got louder on my end and I won by hanging up but I did say thank you first.
I thought about ringing Telstra and asking if there was a wonderful discount but with my luck I'd be straight through to the PSMCC.

There was a third mystery involving a deceased black bird under the apple tree. There are no cats around, I didn't think a possum would beat a bird, the ravens just scare them away so how did Blackie die?
I was watching the lorikeets in the apple tree this morning, it's right outside the back door, no more than the footpath away.  I only keep the tree and its wormy apples for the birds, keep it cut flat on the house side but let it run wild on the lawn side. They all crowd under it when it's screaming hot.  So, I'm watching the upside down bird munching away in the tree while under are pigeons, black birds and mynahs eating seed or bathing in the drinking water, little sods.  The up bird munches through a vital holding twig and down comes the apple and misses a pigeon by a bee's appendage. All the others took off for the rotary line but I think lucky was a bit wonky from the shockwave and just stood there looking at the apple (or possibly an avian Newton pondering gravity) while Lorikeet moved up to the next level apple.
So it's possible that's how Blackie was topped.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

You'll have to wait a bit..

I announce the arrival of a digital camera in the house.
This morning I photographed my first bird in the apple tree and it was a lorrikeet.
The second photo was much better when I discovered the telephoto lens and I could actually see the bird in the leaves scoffing an apple.
I managed to get the charger assembled, yes, only two parts but it took the best part of an hour to read instructions and follow.
I'm getting used to holding the camera still and not waving it all over the place but being short sighted I have to put my glasses on top of my head to see what I'm looking at through the view thingy.
Now I have a grand total of one image of mother and 3 images of a bird and 4 deleted of me.
I have to load the software so I can load the images and that should take about a month.
Honestly would it kill manufacturers to paint the teeny tiny icons in white so I can see what I'm supposed to do.
The camera is a lovely bright red so I can't lose it, unfortunately the mobile is also bright red so I can't lose it.  I do see some confusion in the future.
The salesperson was very helpful when I showed him my 7 year old mobile phone and told him I was still carrying the instructions and I wanted a camera for dummies. He put the battery and the memory card in the camera, very slowly so I could follow him.  That really was a help since I now can't figure out how to get the bottom open. I had enough trouble with the cover over the charging doover.

So I still have 12 exposures on the big camera from last year and I'll use them up for old times sake then store it with its instruction book which I started to read. Well who knew that odd little piece on the end of the plastic bit on the strap was to put in the hole on top to rewind the film. I just used to keep clicking until the film gave up and rewound itself.  11 years to find that out.  You could be waiting a long time for a digital post around here.


It seems the sun chucked a wobbly last week and earth copped the fallout of electrons, protons and ions.
Most of the cloud passed over us but the magnetosphere managed to get a share and in the high northern latitudes had a spectacular showing of auroras.

This image was taken above Grotfjord, Norway by Bjorn Jorgens.

A more powerful solar flare occurred yesterday so we'll have more brilliant photographs in the next week.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I just had to share.

Remember that nice little Burmese glass fairy light that no-one else liked except me?
This is just as sweet and would look lovely in an entrance hall. The soft light reflected back is very kind to old skin, wrinkles and sagging everything else.
The only drawback are the colours which are the Burmese glass colours but too, too pink.
See how easy it is to stuff up something so gorgeous.

By the way, a sea-going world cruise is off the Bucket List.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Meet me whale mate

Another ' what is it' moment but honestly don't click and enlarge.
It's the vertebrae of a basking shark.  They've been overfished thanks to their highly valued fins and are now on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. They don't reproduce quickly, having low fertility, are slow growing, long lived but slow to mature.

This is what a basking shark does best.  Lazes at the surface of the sea with mouth  (what a north and south it is)  open, filter feeding on zooplankton. In one hour they can filter enough water to fill an Olympic-size swimmig pool.

They are the second largest fish behind whale sharks but not much is known about their habits. Pregnant females and and young have never been spotted and they disappear for half the year. Scientists have tagged them but since they live for 50 years or more and the tags fall off after a year, it's hard to follow their migration patterns.

Which is where this section of vertebrae comes in.  Like tree rings, the vertebrae consists of distinct layers of tissue laid down sequentially over an individual's life time in an alternating light/dark banding pattern.  Using vertebrae from sharks that have stranded on beaches, scientists are looking for a radioactive isotope from nuclear bomb blasts set off in the l950s. the residue which fell all over us and the ocean.  Different areas of the ocean have different ratios of stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes so when overlain on a map of the ocean, they create distinct isotope patches and when the whales eat the plankton in these patches it shows up in the layers and in time will enable scientists to map their migration pathways.
Knowing where and when they go will help form a plan of conservation that will also help whale sharks and great whites thanks to the research of Li Ling Hamady.

As you can see in this map, colour variations represent different ratios of nitrogen isotopes in the ocean.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Burmese Glass

The beautiful shading of Burmese Glass is something glorious.  Queen Victoria is credited with naming this as it reminded her of a sunset in Burma.  Antique ware is rare but Fenton Glass is still manufacturing items.  The surface was finished with acid giving it a satin look.

This lovely vase was manufactured by the Mt. Washington Glass Company of Massachusetts which introduced the line in 1885 and produced it for about 10 years.

The addition of calcium based minerals such as fluorospar and feldspar made the glass opaque then a small amount of gold was added for the top pink portion.  A moderate amount of uranium oxide was used to produce the soft yellow tone.  This is a Webb mother of pearl finish with a painted overlay

This vase is similar but is called Peachblow, the bottom is pink to red at the top and is not satin finished. It has a raised gold painted overlay.

This has to be my favourite.  Burmese glass was used for fairy lights and they are still being produced.  This is an example of late Victorian work and I really want this on my dressing table. The soft glow of a tealight candle would show up the hand painted butterfly to perfection. The delicate colour of the fluted edge is just me.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Slaving at the Home

I am so tired I could sing "ole Man River" and sound like Paul Robeson.  
How can a woman in a wheel chair collect so much junk that it filled two candy striped bags from the $2 Emporium?
She just looked at me and said I didn't put it up there, up there being the topmost cupboard which is above the clothes wardrobe.
I tidied all the clothes last week and the drawers. I put her heavy winter things in a garbage bag and put it on the floor of the wardrobe after taking one look at the top cupboard where  several plastic bags of clothes threatened to fall on my head.
So I go down today armed with four bags to pack her clothes neatly until next winter and it looks like there will be a next winter. I tell you this woman will outlast cockroaches. 
There are only two small bags of clothes and night dresses, the light ones she feels too cold to wear.  I'm hoping the nighties will fit my lardarse in which case I won't have to break into the emergency 'going to hospital' brand new nightdresses.
The rest of the space was taken up by an empty box that the cd player came in. A plastic bag full of books belonging to Gail who'd like them back but it's been over a year since her ma raced up that stairway to paradise and she hasn't been seen.  But just in case I put them in the bookcase library. I'm glad they didn't fall on my head, damned heavy trying to get them out from the back of the stupid deep cupboard.
Then two lots of lace in bags.  She'd gone through all that lace I'd taken down for the activities room two years ago and why?  She hid them up there because they were her favourite pieces and she didn't want to share.
Also on the heavy side, 3 parcels of Christmas cards, envelopes (I don't have any envelopes, can you bring me some etc....)and Christmas stickers (expensive ones).
Of course she didn't put them up there, she got one of her lackeys to do it.
They're home now, ready to be put with the rest of the dresses she'll never wear again but isn't quite ready to part with yet.  My sister would throw them out but I can't, I remember where we bought the material and what I usually bought in the jewellery line to go on them.
I'll go through the cards, throw out the really crappy ones, cut up the good ones and put them in the Christmas box for next card season.  
You see how my year has progressed to next Christmas already. Still if I don't do it now, I'll have to at some stage.
No, I haven't finished the Christmas brooch tree.
No, I haven't finished or started the gold crackling on the frame for the tree.

Speaking of cockroaches, we were way up there, somewhere. There was a huge one in the  BOH's room and I was going to shove the critter in one of his work sneakers to see if they really could survive anything but I took pity on him and threw him out the front door for the magpies to chase. He was a biggun and so's the huntsman that's disappeared from his usual corner.  I swear on New Year's Eve I had a tribe of possums sitting on the roof watching the fireworks and being very merry considering the noise of kerthumping over the tiles for an hour.
I've seen a brochure for a round the world cruise, $35,000.00, it would be worth the mortgage and I wouldn't even set one foot to the ground in any country where there were people.
Oh, and I thought I might take up Scuba lessons but then I thought of me in a wet suit. The headlines, "Unusual whale sighted off Mentone Beach.  Scientists baffled! Aussie Disposals rushed for harpoons."  

Life is like a box of chocolates especially if the box is full of empty wrappers. 

Monday, January 09, 2012

Glass Pretties

I have had so much trouble dragging my brain into 2012 so I'm making an effort to post a teaser subject. I had to read about these so look and learn.

They are from the period 1850 - 1910.  Pretty aren't they, gorgeous colours and I bet you can't tell me what they are. You couldn't because I didn't know and I'm rooly smart.
These glass balls with a handle length neck and fragile walls were filled with a chemical, carbon tetrachloride or an ammonia/salt water solution and, wait for it, were an early form of fire extinguisher.

These fire grenades were mounted on walls in homes, hotels, schools and churches.  Thrown at a burning area, they would break and the chemical would eliminate any oxygen, albeit briefly, to help extinguish the flames.

The most common shape were balls about 6 inches in diameter and were fluted, quilted, diamond patterned or embossed with the makers name.  The colours were beautiful, cobalt blue, green, amber, clear or ruby red.
They went the way of the dinosaurs when hose style fire extinguishers took over in the early 1900's.  Much more effective but not quite as pretty.
Now I have to find a title that won't bring budding terrorists to the blog looking for grenades.