Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Flying foxes / fruit bats

We have been totally amazed this past week. January is the month when thousands and thousands of fruit bats fly past us on their way from a local creek to Fraser Island.

The show starts just before dusk and lasts for 15 to 20 minutes.

There are thousands and thousands of them. The biggest have a 180 cm (6 feet) wingspan.

Some fly high, some low.

During the rest of the year, the show only lasts five minutes, but this area is a Mecca for bats at this time of year. For more info about the bats, click here.

The video is more impressive if you view it full screen. You should be able to hear the noise of thousands of beating wings which actually reminded me of listening to LAX airport from a hotel a couple of miles away from the airport.

The bat parade stopped in mid-February and have presumably flown off to other locations.


Monday, January 11, 2021

The eleventh anniversary of my retirement

 I think we can all agree that 2020 has been pretty crappy. First, the virus and secondly, the debacle following the US election.  Marianne and I are fortunate that we do not personally know anybody who died from the virus, but I would expect that many of you who read my blog may have experienced the loss of a friend or relative. You have my sympathies. My best wishes go to the nurses working at the infusion center at Union Hospital. They are my heroes.

Fortunately, we moved to a location in Australia which has been virus-free since May. We have not worn masks since our arrival in August.

This is a graph of the number of cases back in Cecil County where we lived until July. The county has a population similar to where we live now which experienced less than 10 cases. Years ago when the Sars virus appeared, I chaired a small committee at the college which attempted to plan what the college would do if that virus spread in the USA. Two things became obvious.

The first is that the majority of the people would have to rely on a small minority who would have to sacrifice to keep essential services going. Those few would put the lives of not only themselves but also the lives of their families at risk. They deserved all the support they can get.

The second is that at a state or federal level, there would have to be a choice between saving the economy and saving lives. Since the virus always wins, choosing the economy was a poor choice. Fortunately for Australia, tackling the virus was not politicized and the correct choice was made.

Life has been wonderful here in Hervey Bay. Perhaps the feature that has struck us the most is that everybody is so friendly. We think the reason is that we live right beside the beach and people are totally relaxed. It's wonderful to watch the children and dogs bounding around having fun with the parents joining in. Beach cricket is very popular.

Looking forward, I presume we will be inoculated in a few months time. Hopefully, travel restrictions will be lifted Australia wide and we will be able to travel to other states. Who knows what will happen with overseas travel, but it sounds like those flying into Australia will still need to do two weeks quarantine, even if they are inoculated. However, being eternally optimistic, Robin and I are hoping to do a trip to Japan in September / October. And Marianne and I still have a trip to Scotland already planned out where we take ferries between the islands in the Hebrides. Maybe next year.

The Australia we lived in back in 1984 is not the Australia of today.  Racial and cultural diversity has increased dramatically, but while there are pockets of intolerance, the majority of Australians appear to respect each other. Most Australians have travelled outside the country and have become used to observing and appreciating other cultures. While there is still a long way to go, recognition of the indigenous Aborigines and their understanding of Australia has improved dramatically. 

Food helps. Certainly, the selection of ingredients on sale in supermarkets and speciality shops is much wider than what exists in Cecil County. And since most of the food is grown locally, it tastes better. Oh, the joys of a ripe pineapple picked yesterday a few miles away. And bacon and eggs!

Finally to the USA. Let me just say that America cannot help but be great! The fertile land, the water, the minerals all lay the foundation for what could become a great country. Add the people from all around the world, and their diverse and combined abilities make a great country. No one person makes America great. I will always treasure my time in the USA and the friendships I made. It made me a better person. 

However, Marianne and I were having yet another wine conversation after dinner and we decided that the difference between people in Australia and many of those in the USA was that Americans have Rights. Australians have responsibilities (with a small r).

So hopefully, we will all have a better year in 2021.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Our boxes arrive

 Back in early July last year, our boxes were loaded on to a truck by our friends Amanda and James and sent on their way to Australia. Photos of the loading are here.

This morning at 7 am, they finally arrived on another truck, and a gang of men carried half the boxes up 35 steps and the other half into the garage.

It looks like the truck is large but it was one of the removalist's smaller trucks.

Our boxes ready to be unloaded. The shipping company was Seven Seas and the boxes they provided looked perfect after the 6 months. If you have to move, do not use U-Haul boxes. They collapse when stacked.

This bloke was the truck driver and later in the day he drives to Sydney.

The truck parked outside our garage. It's 35 steps up to our unit.

You may notice some water under the truck. Just after the truck arrived it started to rain briefly. It rained the day we loaded the boxes back in the USA as well.

My boxes of amplifier building parts in the garage. On the right is Marianne's cutting mat which the removalists laid flat which is how Marianne wanted the mat to be transported. The bloke stacking the boxes kindly left me access to my new wine fridge (18 bottles).

Marianne and her mat.

Our kitchen and dining area. It was very humid and even though I did not carry any boxes, I was drenched. To celebrate the completion of the last major task to organize for this huge move, I had a cold beer at 8 am.

Marianne's work room.

Spare bedroom.

We were very happy with the performance of the removalists, Hervey Bay Removalists. They were recommended to us by other people in the units. The whole shipping process took a lot longer than it should have because of virus issues. Border closures and other quarantine issues doubled the length of time I was expecting the shipping to take.

Champers tonight with dinner.