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Mini-Doc of the Week 7 – Sustainable Tourism.

Sustainable tourism?

This week’s mini-doc looks at one isolated aspect of sustainable tourism.  Millions and millions of people visit Niagara Falls every year.  This obviously puts an incredible strain on such a beautiful area but is no doubt essential to the local economy.

A big part of the experience is a cruise up river to view the falls close-up. The ticket price includes a plastic poncho.

I’m left wondering exactly what do they do with all those ponchos? While I am sure some get kept as souvenirs, the majority would end up in the bins at the end of the gangway.

Are there other options? I don’t know what the answer is beyond getting wet. What did they do before plastic ponchos were invented? I guess people brought their own raincoats. Could Maid in the Mist (on the US side) or Hornblower (on the Canadian side) have reusable ponchos? Or sell heavier duty ones which were not single-use? Perhaps there could be a discount for people who don’t use the poncho and bring their own?

 

The footage was shot in 2016 and repurposed for this clip in March, 2020. Shot with a Panasonic FZ1000 and edited using iMovie on my iMac.  Music from Purple Planet. 

Canada was a spectacular place to visit and I could happily go back again. I have shared other stories about my time in Canada in these posts:

The road-tripping photographer (one of my favourites!)

Canada – Just like Australia except with Mountains and Bears.

Winning the lottery at Moraine Lake – you never know who you’ll meet!

Five out of six ain’t bad  – AirBnB gone wrong!

 

Recycling Humans?

Chemistry as it applies to the human population.

Recent bush fires in Australia have had me thinking down some very black roads.  Some related to politics, capitalism and how the world could have been better if we had taken advantage of different “sliding door” moments.

I have reflected on climate change, sustainability, the death of native animals, destruction of houses and communities. I thought about the moments in history which have led us here to this time and place.

…And then I got to thinking about thermodynamics. About available energy and matter.  The fact that there is a finite number of atoms on this Earth.

The big question in my mind then became “How many people could live on this planet without ruining it?”

As a chemist, I have studied closed system reactions. Our earth is essentially a closed system.  A closed system only has a certain number of atoms available so once you use them up the reactions have to stop. Rearranging atoms usually uses up energy. Energy is also limited.

These limited atoms are used to make up all the things on Earth including humans. There are an estimated 7,656 million people on the planet. Let’s say the average mass of a human is around 80kg. That’s 612,480 million kilograms of humans. (1 kilo = 2.2 lbs)

If we wind back the clock just 300 years to the 1700s, the estimated upper limit[1] of the human population was 680 million. That means there is an extra 558,080 million (558,080,000,000) kg of human flesh on the planet now compared to then.

Most of those extra kilograms have come from other living things in our closed system because we eat them.  There has to be a time when we simply run out of atoms and energy to keep making more humans. The majority of the energy we are using now has come from the stored energy of ancient living things – a.k.a fossil fuel.

While some of the atoms in current humans may have come from recycled humans (i.e. the return of nutrients to the soil through decomposition) most of the time we don’t generally “recycle” humans. We put them in sealed boxes in burial grounds off-limits to agriculture where the nutrients can not be returned to the system. Cremation adds to the carbon in the air.

We waste and misuse so many resources. As consumers, we salve our conscious with the catch-cry,  reduce-reuse-recycle, but that is unlikely to be enough to stop or reverse climate change.

Is it time to stop being humans who recycle to humans who are recycled?

Is it time to start thinking about burial practices so the nutrients in humans are available for other uses? I’m of course not the only one thinking about this sort of thing; burial trees pods have been mooted for a while.

It’s all sounding like Soylent Green may not be such a bad idea after all! By the way, that movie, where people were recycled to make food for other humans was set in 2022.

I also believe that those of us in developed economies, who use a lot of resources, have a moral imperative to reduce the number of children we have. We need to seriously consider limiting our population through natural attrition so that some of the atoms can be returned to make other things.

Instead of “one [child] for mum, one for dad and one for the country” how about just one for the planet?

[1] https://www.ecology.com/population-estimates-year-2050/

Mini-Doc of the Week 6 – Vietnam

Chaos and Quietness in Vietnam.

I’ve got to be honest with you dear reader, I think this video challenge is going to be too much for me to manage! When I’m at work full time and not enjoying school holidays, I don’t have much time to get out and make new content. But still I’m not ready to give up just yet so I am trawling my archives to use old footage in new ways.

 

This mini doc uses footage I took in 2015 while in Vietnam. I put it into this format in February 2020. I am hoping it makes you feel a bit edgy and chaotic. The traffic scenes are from Hanoi and the carrot carving happened on a boat in Ha Long Bay. I travelled with Intrepid Tours. I have written about the experience in this blog post.

It was filmed on a Panasonic FZ250 and put together using iMovie on my iMac. Music is from Purple Planet, a great source of free music.

 

Furious Fiction 8 – February 2020

Wentworth Emporium

Australian Writers Centre Furious Fiction Competition

I didn’t get a chance to submit an entry for the December and January editions of Furious Fiction but here is my effort for February 2020. Furious Fiction is a fun competition with a terrific prize and you can read about it on their website.

Basically it’s 500 words in 55 hours for a $500 prize.

The criteria for February were:

  • One of the characters had to be a GUARD
  • It must include the words NARROW, GLOSSY, GOLDEN and LEATHERY
  • The first and last sentences can have only two words.

Let me know what you think!

Frankie’s Folly.

“Not AGAIN?”

The guard’s exasperated look said it all. This was the third time Charlie had tumbled through the narrow shute from the prison van into the processing room.

“Lord, it’s only two months since the last time you were here! Will you never learn?”

“‘Fraid not, Frankie,” Charlie said as he held out his leathery hand for a defiant high-five. “I will always express myself as the creative individual I am. They will never wear me down!”

When there was no return slap Charlie withdrew his raised hand, seamlessly morphing the gesture into a head scratch. Frankie wasn’t risking being seen on camera fraternising with the inmates. Secretly, he hoped that one day, Charlie might learn how to keep himself out of trouble. At the very least, learn to keep his felonies private and behind closed doors.

The first time they met, four years ago, Charlie was in for three months. He arrived in golden hot pants and silver knee-high boots.  A clear Code 7 Violation: Mixed Metallics.

The rigorous and brutal re-education sessions had had little impact because a year later, Charlie was back. This time in a glossy vinyl jumpsuit adorned with sequins AND fur. Code 8 slapped down right there! Texture Abuse.  The Judge was less inclined to be lenient for a second offence and Charlie was in for a full year.

And here he was a third time. Granted, Charlie was a little more subdued in a blue shirt and green trousers, but Frankie wouldn’t help him this time. There’d been a crackdown on contraband and it was too hazardous to smuggle the ‘Zines in. Last time, he had pushed pages torn from Vogue under Charlie’s cell door but despite the hints, he just didn’t get it! It was too much for Frankie, he had compassion fatigue.

Frankie read Charlie’s charge sheet and shook his head. The Judge had really thrown the book at him.

“Crikey Charlie?” He swore under his breath. “Everybody knows its law!” The mandatory five-year sentence was excessive but without a doubt, this was a serious offence. There it was in black and white:

“Blue and green should never be seen unless there’s something in between. Code 10 Violation: Catastrophic Colour Error. Maximum penalty!”

As the other guards dragged Charlie away,  Frankie felt for him, he was obviously trying. He had made a rookie error, he had forgotten the belt.

Frankie sighed, it was definitely time to forget this fella. He had done what he could.  Who knew what sort of family Charlie grew up in? No doubt his mum wore black bras under white t-shirts. His dad probably had a mullet. There was little hope of redemption.

Frankie squared his shoulders in a Scarlett O’Hara-esque way and strode down the hall to unload yet another van-load of sorry souls in their offensive glad rags.  The decal on the cop car outside at least reminding his jaded psyche of his raison d’être.

Federal Fashion Police. 

Dress Proud.

 

 

 

NEWS FLASH!!! I didn’t win but this story did get long-listed! woot woo!!!!

Screen Shot 2020-02-26 at 19.07.04

 

 

 

 

Mini-Doc of the Week 5 – Mardi Gras

Behind the scenes at Sydney’s Mardi Gras.

Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is held in the first week of March. This year is the 42nd event. There is a lot of organisation (obviously!) that occurs behind the scenes and on the day of the parade a long lag time while everyone arrives, gets into their positions and waits for the parade to start. This is a great opportunity for photographers who are behind the starting line.

A few years ago I joined in on the Sydney Mardi Gras to celebrate diversity in the Emergency Services.  It was a LOT of fun.

I have put this new clip together as part of my 2020 challenge to publish a mini-documentary each week. I am aiming to improve my video production skills. The only way I’ll do that is if I practice. So, here’s another practice run, this time fiddling about with repeating short sequences. I don’t think iMovie is the best software to use for that.

Hopefully, by the end of the year, I’ll be as good as George Lucas! Huh!! 🙂 If I last that long! It’s not as easy as the Photo of the Week Challenge!

 

I took the footage in March 2017 and put this clip together a couple of weeks ago. Shot on an iPhone 8 and edited in iMovie on an iMac. Music by Justin Mahar via MusoPen

Reader Survey 2020

Personal Blog - personal photos

Hello! Is there anybody out there?

In 2019, I asked for your input through a reader survey. It’s time to do it again. I want to find out what is or isn’t working with this blog.

Since the first survey, I have been working on improving my SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and employed a copy editor who is fixing my typos and spelling errors. (Thanks Mum!) I have continued to write a long format post every week, and I included an additional weekly Photo of the Week post.

In 2020 I am going to

  • Continue with my promotion of my home town with the Snapshots from Wollongong series.
  • Have a focus on environmental issues, upcycling and how we can do better while using fewer resources.
  • Replace the Photo of the Week challenge with a mini-documentary of the week. This could be really challenging!!
  • Give quarterly updates on my Year of Zero (mainly to keep me accountable rather than entertain you!).
  • Continue to champion the life and times of older women.

According to my stats, I have more than 468 followers, an increase of 34 since the last survey. Despite this, I rarely get more than 30 views on each of my posts. Does this mean no-one out there is reading or are you reading via the WordPress Reader page? Perhaps you are reading in your email rather than on the browser? Apparently, you only get “views” counted in your stats if readers read your post on your actual webpage. (In which case, I’d appreciate you opening the posts in your browser so I know you’re there.)

I’d like to get an idea of who is out there and why you’re reading (or not reading as the case may be)

Can you help me out by filling in this survey? Thanks! 😀

Old Chook Enterprises Reader Survey 2020.

Please don’t add your name or other identifying information. It’s better if it’s anonymous and please play nice!

PS: I will collect responses and turn the survey off on March 6th 2020.

 

 

 

Australia’s Day? Mini-Doc 4

Should we change the day we celebrate Australia Day?

This clip was taken down at Wollongong Harbour on Australia Day 2020. While offering no answers, it raises the question “is the 26th of January the best day for celebrating our nationhood?”

Should we choose a different date or should we commemorate it in a different way?

 

All footage on iPhone SMAX edited using iMovie and Spark Video on my phone.

You can find lots of information about this issue. This SBS News clip is a good place to start.

Valentine’s Day

Valentine's Day

Is Valentine’s Day even a thing in Australia? For some of us yes, for others it’s another capitalist plot to make us spend money.

Roses are red

Violets are blue

Capitalism is fed

As Hallmark scams you!

According to a 2019 survey conducted by Relationships Australia, more than half of all adult Americans and a third of adults in the UK celebrate Valentine’s Day in some way. Eighteen per cent of the 1700 Australian respondents in this survey said they had never celebrated Valentines Day because they don’t believe in it. I am with that 18%.

Valentine's day

Another Australian survey conducted in 2015  by Canstar Blue says that of the 2050 respondents they questioned, 46% said they intended on doing nothing for Valentines Day. Of these people, 54% did not celebrate it because they didn’t believe in it.

I don’t think I have ever received a Valentine’s Card. Well, at least I don’t remember if I have. I don’t know of many of my peers who make a fuss over the day either. From my casual observations, it seems to be celebrated here by people who celebrate Halloween or who think Black Friday is a sale day and not a day to commemorate tragic bush fires in Adelaide!

On a personal note, I see it as another way to get people to spend money on things they don’t really need. Or perhaps spend money on things they should be doing anyway, such as spending quality time with people they love or have significant relationships with.

Approximately 131 million Hallmark cards were exchanged on Valentines Day in 2016 raising more than a $1 billion dollars.  Not to mention the money spent on roses and chocolates.

Valentine's Day

On the other side of things, it singles out single people. This might make them feel sad or SAD! A counter-movement called Singles Awareness Day (SAD) is ‘celebrated’ on February 15th and accentuates the positives of being single. I’m with them!

Maybe we should start another movement and channel all that money into showing our love for our planet. Instead of buying a single long-stemmed red rose grown in a greenhouse, think of ways to lower your own greenhouse emissions. Instead of giving a whole bunch of roses that will die in a few days, plant some trees which will last more than a lifetime. Instead of giving chocolate which leads to the destruction of rainforests, spend time with the people you love and volunteer together to help clean up your local area.

Make February 14th (and every day) LOVE Day. Love Our Valuable Earth Day

 


 

Mini-Doc of the Week 3 – Making Pasta

Is making your own pasta worth it?

I have been investigating ways to reduce my grocery bills, plastic packaging and keep an eye on what is in my food. I thought I’d give making pasta from scratch another try. I’ve done it a few times before but still had more problems than I thought I would.

A little longer than the advertised 1 minute! I’ll get better at making shorter ones as the year goes by.

I hope you enjoy my struggle!

 

 

Recipe

600 g flour

370 g eggs (4 really big ones!)

Kneaded by hand for 12 minutes

Then mixed in an ancient Kenwood for about a minute

Rested for 30 minutes

Mixed again in the Kenwood!!

Another rest (for us both!)

Then struggling with the pasta roller!

 

If you want to have a look at someone who really knows what they are doing, check out this lady! She makes it look easy!

As it turns out, given pasta is cheap, lasts well in the pantry and tastes more or less the same as the homemade stuff, I don’t think it’s worth it. A packet of dried lasagna costs  $A3.70. My afternoon’s efforts made the equivalent of  3 boxes for around $A5:00 – a saving of $6… let’s not factor in the labour cost! I did have some fun which should be factored in.

Shot entirely on my iPhone SMAX and edited using iMovie on my iMac.