Archive for August, 2013

331. Sunday 25th August 2013. @#$%ing computers! *&^%, *&^%, *&^%…

26/08/2013

This is a temporary post which serves two purposes.

1. It informs those reaqders who may be interested to know what happened to this weeks post.

AND

2. It gives me a chance to vent my spleen and rant a while. All in the cause of making me feel better of course.

Long explanation follows.

Today, Sunday 25th, our trusty laptop would not turn on. OR for those more IT savvy, it would not “boot up”. Of course Toshiba are only open Monday to Friday and the IT Group from whom I bought the laptop and an extended two year warranty, Leading Edge Computers were also c losed. I looked at my warranty details. In  ceases on 26th August…TOMORROW!!!

Hmmm! It appears I  may be making a hurried dash, in the morning, to the nearest Leding Edge store.

Funny how computers usually break down on or after the warranty date! In fact this is the third warranty claim I have made for this computer and justifies the extra $60 to buy the extended warranty.

My last Toshiba Laptop died…the day after the warranty and it was cheaper to buy a replacement than to repair it.

The laptop before was also a Toshiba, a Quosmio top of the range model. It expired after the warranty period.

Grrr!

Why do I keep buying Toshiba???

I dunno.

People keep telling me to buy an Apple. Yes I know how good they are but it is a question of economics. Apple prices usually start at at about the same price as the Quosmio and I simply cannot justify spending $3,000…$3,000 I do not have.

Besides trying to learn the Apple operating system is like trying to learn Windows 8.

Confusing.Definately not user friendly.

Our Apple iPad is nice and handy but I find it can be difficult and confusing at times and it still needs to be connected to a computer…Toshiba for example…in order to download updates, music, photos and lots of other stuff. I does not have a USB port either. It is just handy to check emails, Google Maps and talk on Skype and a few other minor uses.

Roll on Monday.

330. Sunday 18th August 2013. Kingscliff, Mt Tamborine and QUT Robotronica…

18/08/2013

Monday 12th August

This last week or more I have been reviewing our travels since 2005. I sort of went down memory lane. This prompted me to go back over the pages and posts of this blog to see where we were and what we were doing at this time of year.

2005. We attended a motorhome rally at the base of the Ross River Dam in Townsville and met with the occupants of 200 other motorhomes and did all the things people do at rallies. It was here that we met visiting NZ couple Jerry and Sue P who had bought a motorhome and had just kicked off their round Australia trip. We caught up with J & S at Coolangatta a few weeks ago and wrote about it at post 324 dated 14/7/13.

2006. There is no post for August 2006.Hmmm! Mid-winter, is an ideal time in the tropics to get out and about bush camping. I am surprised we did not have an entry for August.

2007. We attended the Gemfest at Rubyvale, Anakie and Sapphire in the dry and dusty back country over the Great Dividing Range behind Mackay. We camped in our then motorhome, a converted Toyota Coaster bus, on an infrequently used Sapphire mining lease owned by a friend. Beside our motorhome were two excavations which had been dug by hand in the search for Sapphire.

2008. On-line friends, Cuppa and Mrs T came to visit for a week while on their 18 month around Australia trip. We bush camped at O’Connell River, midway between the city of Mackay and the country town of Proserpine.

2009. Mid-winter in the tropics usually means long dry spells and the grass begins to brown off and become dry and crackly. We spent most of the month at home working or painting the house.

2010. I worked my last week and had a dinner with all the staff and said my goodbye’s and felt absolutely wooden. (I had handed in my notice of retirement exactly one month previously) I was severing a life where I was paid every week and was now about to step out and face an unknown financial future.

2011. Strange how the fickle finger of fate dishes out twists and turns in our life. Almost 12 months had gone by since we left our home in Airlie Beach and our stopover at Finch Hatton before ascending the pass through the Great Dividing Range to begin our adventure on the other side of the mountains. We found ourselves back in Finch Hatton while Donnis worked as a nurse and I worked on the Australian Census. So here we were back at our starting point and making plans to leave again.

2012. This week 12 months ago we were in the Eurobodalla Shire on the south coast of New South Wales. It was cold overnight but the days were sunny and if you could find a spot out of the chilly wind, quite warm. We were at a favourite freedom camp site at Potato Point.

2013. Here we are, housesitting at Fairfield in Queensland and exploring around Brisbane and the Gold coast.

Tuesday 13th August

Donnis had a small lump removed from her shoulder this morning. The tissues have been sent to a lab for analysis and the results should be back in a few days.

In the afternoon, long term friend Greg T with two of his sons arrived from Guyra. Regular readers will recall I house sat in Guyra from November 2012 until end of Feb this year. By coincidence Greg, wife Linda their four sons and one daughter lived across the street. We had a big pasta dinner of spaghetti bolognaise with sourdough rye bread lathered with garlic butter. Greg brought a home baked date and fruit loaf and we had fruit and ice cream for dessert. Yummo. It was the first time we have eaten bread, cake, ice cream and pasta for a couple of months. My body did not like all those carbs as I weighed a kilo heavier when I went to bed.

Sigh!!!

Wednesday 14th August

Greg, Ian and Justin stayed another night.

Thursday 15th August

Greg and sons followed us onto the motorway. We headed to Kingscliff  in NSW near the Queensland border while Greg continued to Grafton northern NSW then headed over the mountain range to their home in Guyra.

Donnis and I went to an Over 50’s Lifestyle Resort to view the facilities and a couple of villas which are for sale.   http://www.noblelakeside.com.au/k_welcome.htm   The resort is built around a small lake but large enough for a small catamaran to spend many happy hours sailing around. Hmmm! My imagination was getting a bit ahead of our visit. The facilities are quite nice, the grounds tidy and the villa prices reasonable, the two villas we saw were comfortable and a good size but just did not grab my attention with a wow factor. The resort is only a couple of Klms from the surf but on the day of our visit a southerly change, including strong winds came roaring along the coast, dropping the temperature and winds so strong we had trouble standing upright and the wind blown sand stung our legs.

Pandanus at Kingscliff Beach

Pandanus at Kingscliff Beach

VMR (Volunteer Marine Rescue) Station on the Cudgen Creek Point at Kingscliff Beach, NSW.

VMR (Volunteer Marine Rescue) Station on the Cudgen Creek Point at Kingscliff Beach, NSW.

Osprey nest atop a pole beside the VMR Station at Kingscliff Beach.

Osprey nest atop a pole beside the VMR Station at Kingscliff Beach.

http://tweedbirdobservers.wordpress.com/projects/tweed-osprey-group-report/

I thought this man was in trouble with his hand raised for help. I immediately pulled off my Clark Kent clothes and before I could perform a Superman rescue he rolled over and completed a flopping swim to the shore. What did he do next? He did a flopping swimming style back to the other side and included a few more raised hands. When he reached the other side he turned around and came back.

I thought this man was in trouble with his hand raised for help. I immediately pulled off my Clark Kent clothes and before I could perform a Superman rescue he rolled over and completed a flopping swim to the shore. What did he do next? He did a flopping swimming style back to the other side and included a few more raised hands. When he reached the other side he turned around and came back.

Pelicans at Cudgen Creek near Kingscliff NSW.

Pelicans at Cudgen Creek near Kingscliff NSW.

We are seeing more of these lizards lately. This one was found sunning itself on the rockwall of Cudgen Creek which empties into the sea at Kingscliff Beach.

We are seeing more of these lizards lately. This one was found sunning itself on the rockwall of Cudgen Creek which empties into the sea at Kingscliff Beach.

Friday 16th August

Another un exciting day but I had my final dental appointment in the afternoon. The southerly change from yesterday was evident in the cool winds despite brilliant sunshine.

Saturday 17th August

Today we had planned to take grandson Chris to the Planetarium but he did not want to go. Instead Donnis and I decided to have a picnic at Mount Tamborine which is included as part of the Gold Coast.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamborine_Mountain    Instead of taking the longer but quicker Motorway 1 route we decided to travel inland to Canungra, a shorter trip but passing through more suburbia.

Part of the small village of Canungra.

Part of the small village of Canungra.

The small hut used by local Canungra painter, Edwin Bode,  1859 - 1926.

The small hut used by local Canungra painter, Edwin Bode, 1859 – 1926.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canungra,_Queensland   After a short stop in Canungra we started the steep and winding one lane road to the top. The road has a steep drop to the valley floor and part way up the mountain the road becomes so narrow there are traffic lights so traffic only flows in one direction. There is no way cars could pass on this ever narrowing road. There is simply nowhere to back up and the drop off is a bit frightening.

Incidentally the Australian Army has a Jungle Warfare Training facility in the steep rainforest covered hills. Back in the Vietnam war days this training facility was the final training centre before heading overseas. It had a reputation for being a tough course.

Once at the summit of Mt Tamborine we could see the Gold Coast spread out far below.

House perched atop the steep valley looking over the Gold Coast.

House perched atop the steep valley looking over the Gold Coast.

View of the Gold Coast from beside the house.

View of the Gold Coast from beside the house.

There are many walking tracks in the National Park but today we were running out of time and besides, it was a bit chilly.

We decided to drive home via the M1 and once at the bottom of the range realised our friend Glenda B lives at Nerang so we took a small detour to drop in for a coffee.

Sunday 18th August

Today I took a bus into the City and walked to the City Gardens, Government House and the Queensland University of Technology.

Projected aquarium display at QUT. from the ground floor the display looks like one complete viewing panel but is in fact two right angle walls.

Projected aquarium display at QUT. from the ground floor the display looks like one complete viewing panel but is in fact two right angle walls.

Today only,was a festival called Robotronica   http://www.robotronica.qut.edu.au/demos/  and I was caught in the thick of the crowds of people all wanting to see and touch displays. All the demos, tours, talks and displays were simply booked out or overcrowded. I am sure the organisers were not expecting such overwhelming crowds…neither was I.

Active robot in the Governors House

Active robot in the Governors House

One display I particularly wanted to see was a heavy duty quadricopter (in fact this version had 6 rotors) but the display was overwhelmed and no flying displays were scheduled. Pity as I have an AR Drone quadricopter and wanted to see how this version performed.

While on the QUT grounds I took time to visit the original Government House where, of course, the Governor lived from 1862 to 1910. This is such a beautiful and elegant building, maintained as part of the QUT Campus

.180813 gov

The Queensland Governors office.

The Queensland Governors office.

Governors Library.

Governors Library.

I had a little luck here as one lifelike robot was on active display wandering in and around the crowds inside the Governors house, When approached the robot would back up or change direction, never touching a person although many people had to pat the robot.

329. Sunday 11th August 2013. Brisbane, Gold Coast and Mt. Coot-Tha…

11/08/2013
French influenced building and eatery.

French influenced building and eatery.

Last week we visited Woolloongabba a suburb mainly famous for the nearby sports ground where battles are fought in Australian Football League games on afternoon Saturday winter days and International Cricket matches during summer. A nearby street is also famous for the exclusive eating houses. This French influenced eatery has the patrons  at table on the road..

Last week we visited Woolloongabba a suburb mainly famous for the nearby sports ground where battles are fought in Australian Football League games on afternoon Saturday winter days and International Cricket matches during summer. A nearby street is also famous for the exclusive eating houses. This French influenced eatery has the patrons at table on the road. Note the couple on the right engrossed in a romantic coffee.

Alos in this Woolloongabba street is a violin maker still in business but the shop is only open by appointment.

Also in this Woolloongabba street is a violin maker still in business but the shop is only open by appointment.

Monday 5th August

Another quiet day of doing little things around the house. In the morning I went to another Over 50 Digital Camera class in the hopes I would learn something new. I did learn something but not much.

In the afternoon I worked on a new free program I installed a week or so ago. I am using Calibre for my eBooks library. It can convert all eBook formats into whatever format is used by your reader device. In fact it is now even simpler to install new books on Kindle. Just plug into the laptop, open Calibre select the book or books and click on “Install to Device”. If the book needs a conversion  it is done as part of the transfer to the device. Simple, quick and precise. I can find books in my Calibre library by author, title, tag, format, series or publisher.

Tuesday 6th August

72.1

Wednesday 7th August.

We visited the Brisbane Botanical Gardens at Mt. Coot-tha (Pronounced KUTHA) today. As usually happens there was more to explore than we had time. A phone call offering work at St.Vincents Hospital, Kangaroo Point had us cutting short the visit and heading home. I will let a few of the photos show the gardens but I will mention the gardens are huge and there are thousands of plants.070813 gardens10

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070813 gardens6

Strong silent type wooing a young lady.

Strong silent type wooing a young lady.

Young lady.

Young lady.

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070813 gardens2

Bearded Dragon

Bearded Dragon

Japanese Gardens

Japanese Gardens

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Another Bearded Dragon. Look at the colour of the chest.

Another Bearded Dragon. Look at the colour of the chest.

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Thursday 8th August an interesting day.

Well at least it was interesting to us. We drove to Jindalee for Donnis Optometrist appointment and returned to Fairfield to have lunch then I decided to cut the grass. On my way to the pool yard I saw what looked like a length of rope on the gate. As I got closer and reached for the gate, I went… whoa! It was no piece of rope. It was a snake basking in the sunlight. Silly thing had wound itself between the picket style fence and I had to suppress the urge to grab the snake’s tail as it most surely could not flash back quickly and bite me.

Or could it?

Discretion won the day.

I believe it is a Common Tree Snake about 60cm in length.   http://www.wildlifeqld.com.au/Common_Tree_Snake.html    I was able to get close enough to see its tongue flicking in and out. I called to Donnis for the camera but by the time she arrived the snake realised I was there and slid across the fence rail and back into foliage. After putting the camera away I returned to the gate and the snake was back!

Hmmm! Persistent little fellow. Once more he took a few moments to register my presence, decide I was too big to eat and retreated once more into the foliage.

In the evening I discovered all the contacts on my iPad have disappeared. Grrr! This is the second time in as many months this has happened. Last time I had to manually restore names addresses and birthdays. It was such a tiresome job. After spending ages on research via Google Chrome I spent another couple of hours trying to restore the Contacts Book. By 10.30 I was successful.

I was also ready for bed.

While this was happening, the laptop refused to connect to the internet via wireless and the only way to solve the dilemma was to connect the laptop by cable to the modem. Grrr!

I am looking forward to an improvement in computer connections tomorrow.

(Fingers crossed)

Friday 9th August

In the morning Donnis had a sun cancer burned off her forehead and in the afternoon got a call for a nursing shift at St.Vincents hospital and I had a marathon dental appointment.

Saturday 10th August.

We chose to visit the Gold Coast today.

Gold Coast Skyline.

Gold Coast Skyline.

We do like the area and it gave us a chance to catch up with an old friend, Glenda.

After a fish n chips lunch beside the seaside we took a walk along the sand beside the calm waters of The Broadwater.

Glenda and Donnis walking in the sand on The Broadbeach on the Gold Coast.

Glenda and Donnis walking in the sand on The Broadbeach on the Gold Coast.

Wakeboarding

Wakeboarding

Sunday 11th August

A warm sunny 27° mid -winter day and around Brisbane parks, lakes, beaches, rivers and other picnic spots were all crowded. We added to the congestion by visiting Mt. Coot. Tha.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Coot-tha,_Queensland This popular area has several viewing areas with a panoramic view of the city spread below.

Brisbane City viewed from Mt. Coot-Tha. Best viewed in full size by double clicking on the image.

Brisbane City viewed from Mt. Coot-Tha. Best viewed in full size by double clicking on the image.

There is fine dining to be had at a restaurant perched on the best vantage point.

Summit Restaurant

Summit Restaurant

110813 coupleIn fact all tastes and pockets are catered for with the expensive restaurant, a smaller cheaper café, an ice creamery and for those on a more limited budget, picnic benches and the really budget conscious wait until they get home. We opted for a Ploughmans Lunch washed down with a coffee frappe while seated at a table with the best clearest views over the city.

Waiting for lunch with the city spread below

Waiting for lunch with the city spread below

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Afterwards we drove past all the television studios and their transmitter towers

Channel Nine Studios and transmitting tower.

Channel Nine Studios and transmitting tower.

and took a walk to Simpsons Waterfall. After a challenging 1.3 Klm return walk we found the falls to be almost dusty dry. The loop road provides a wonderful drive to the summit and around the mountain, meandering through the foothills to the suburbs below. I have wanted to visit Mt Coot – Tha for some time and am waiting on some heavy rain to start the waterfalls again so I can visit again.

328. Sunday 4th August 2013. When George Washington came to visit…

05/08/2013

Monday 29th July

While the CO-PILOT planned to visit the doctor today I took off to Mt Coot-Tha Botanical Gardens, specifically the Japanese Gardens.

Garden pond.

Garden pond.

Pond

Pond

Lonely palm.

Lonely palm.

I wanted to take part in a photographic course to learn more about using the camera, “off auto”. The course was open to over 50’s with a digital camera.

Pottery pagoda

Pottery pagoda

Reflections and lilly pads

Reflections and lilly pads

Reflections in a pond

Reflections in a pond

Reflections in a Japanese garden

Reflections in a Japanese garden

The biggest lesson I learned all morning was that I am happier using the full auto mode. The gardens are huge and somehow Donnis and I must fit in a visit, together sometime soon.

Photographer intent on a Bearded Dragon at the Japanese gardens

Photographer intent on a Bearded Dragon at the Japanese gardens

Bearded Dragaon

Bearded Dragaon

Is that a smile?

Is that a smile?

Wednesday 31st July

The giant USA aircraft carrier, USS George Washington   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_George_Washington_(CVN-73)   (radio call Sign CVN-73) docked in the Brisbane River on Monday and will leave Saturday morning.

USS George Washington.

USS George Washington.

The ship carries a crew of 6,250, accommodates up to 80 aircraft, and is driven by twin Westinghouse A4W Nuclear Reactors. With a length of 333M and width of 78M it is large and impressive. Donnis had a dental appointment today so I planned to see the ship. For security reasons no open days are planned so the only way to see the ship is on the opposite bank from a lonely and desolate part of the Brisbane River called Luggage Point. The road ends here and parking was in grossly uneven ground covered in salt bush. The beach, such as it is, is mostly mud flats and struggling mangroves, a landing place for flotsam and jetsam as well as driftwood from further inland.

Muddy beach at Luggage Point on Brisbane River.

Muddy beach at Luggage Point on Brisbane River.

Despite the muddy uneven ground about 100 cars and occupants arrived for a look and to take photographs. While 3,000 crew were on shore leave, for the rest of the crew it was another work day. I did see two two planes brought out from below deck via Hangar Bay 3 and hoisted up onto the main deck.

Planes being raised to deck.

Planes being raised to deck.

Planes arriving on deck.

Planes arriving on deck.

The flight deck is around 4.5 acres.

USS GW superstructure.

USS GW superstructure.

Security on the water was also strong with one large Police boat anchored amidships while at least another 5 Police rubber duckies patrolled up and down the river. The raw power and huge size of the ship was impressive and listening to other people watching from the shore they were also impressed. Look at the photos and remember they are best viewed by double clicking and enlarging to twice their size. If you look at the big photo of the USS GW you can see the Police launch which is about 9 or 10 metres in length. Now compare it to the aircraft carrier and that will give a good indication of size.

Nothing much of any note happened for the rest of the week.

Sigh!!!

Cheers