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App: Lift


The link below is to an article that takes a look at the app ‘Lift.’ This is an app that I use and it is a very easy one to use and it can be quite helpful I think. What is it for? It’s an app that is used to establish good habits and practices.

For more visit:
https://medium.com/inside-lift/6c39c13ace85

Australian Cricket


When I was younger and fitter I used to play cricket, so I’m still quite interested in the game. In fact, I did hope to play some cricket again, but my car accident finished that off.

Being an ‘old’ cricketer I like to watch the cricket and I am dismayed by some of what I see in Australian cricket these days. There is plenty of great cricket and good cricketers in Australia. Michael Clarke is playing the best cricket of his life and then you have David Warner, the new fast bowler Jackson Bird, etc. However, I am dismayed by plenty also.

The ‘rotation’ policy or player management, or whatever they want to call it is simply a disaster that officials don’t get. ‘Fess’ up and admit it was a mistake – please! Australia’s spin stocks are terrible and it is simply frustrating seeing some of the bowlers being consistently picked to bowl spin – I’ve heard some of the commentators saying  ‘he needs to spin the ball.’ Yeah, that’s a no brainer for a ‘spin bowler.’ The number of players being picked without having the opportunity to have a fair go and yet the odd player or two who should have been dropped ages ago have been able to play on and on and on…

The battle of the Australian batsmen with swing bowling is a problem of course, but that is something the batsmen need to learn to cope with and is simply part of the game. Australia has very little in the way of swing bowlers these days (and spin by the way), so I don’t think picking other batsmen will make a great difference. The battle with swing is great to watch, yet the good batsmen will develop the means to stand up and be counted in the face of quality swing bowling.

I’m sure there is plenty of other things to think about, but they appear to be the biggest challenges facing Australian cricket. The Ashes will be very interesting.

Pies


I don’t mind a good pie – there just aren’t too many places where you can get a decent one these days. These I got from Thompson’s Bakery at Raymond Terrace – cheese and bacon cocktail pies, or party pies if you prefer. I know you can get good pies at both Bulahdelah and Gloucester (normal size), while these smaller ones are pretty good at the Terrace. Other than that I wouldn’t rave about any others nearby. I would also say the same for the sausage rolls by the way.

I suppose it’s a good thing as it prevents me from buying a lot of them and piling on the weight.

My First Car – Datsun 120Y


This is a photo of my first car, a Datsun 120Y. This was from over 20 years ago now and this car I also lost in a car accident. I was struck from behind and the impact caused my seat to shear off and go backwards, so I was unable to see what was happening. In short, the car was no longer able to be used because of damage to the chassis. There are a lot of good memories associated with this car.

My first car

Hunter Region Botanic Gardens


 

Southern Wetlands

ABOVE: The Southern Wetlands Boardwalk – Hunter Region Botanic Gardens

Late last week I decided I should do something with the final day of my annual leave that I had taken this time round, so I thought I’d pop into the Hunter Region Botanic Gardens near Raymond Terrace in New South Wales, Australia. I had been here before, but that was a long time ago. I wasn’t impressed on that first visit, so after more then a decade had it improved? Well that was the question I was keen to answer.

Rotunda

ABOVE: The Rotunda  BELOW: Succulents Section

Succulents

There was a $4.00 ‘escape’ fee, which would allow a token to be purchased and then the boom gate would rise once it was placed into the proper slot at the exit. So no entrance fee, just an exit fee. I was willing to pay this for a quick look and wander around the gardens.

So has it improved. Yes it has thankfully, but I still don’t rate it as brilliant or even what would come close to mildly impressing me for a botanic gardens. It is probably on the right track, but has a long way to go. And here’s the thing I think – a botanic gardens really needs time to develop, so those who will really benefit from the gardens are those who will visit it in about 25 years or so, when the plants have been allowed to mature somewhat across the gardens. It will also allow other pieces of infrastructure to be completed and for the gardens to achieve some ‘polish,’ so to speak. The central section of the gardens is very good and has been progressing well over the years (yes, it is a relatively young botanic gardens) – areas such as the bromeliad section, orchids, etc – even the succulent section a bit further away.

Orchid

ABOVE: Orchid  BELOW: Bromeliads

Bromeliads

So should you go? Look, it’s only $4.00 to get out of the place once you are there and you can get to see some great plants and do some good, easy walks – especially into the natural bush and wetland areas. So I’d say yes, just don’t expect a fully developed botanic gardens.

For more on the Hunter Region Botanic Gardens visit:
http://www.huntergardens.org.au/

Tree Ferns

ABOVE: Tree Ferns and Palms

Blackbutt Reserve


Since I was unable to visit Gap Creek Falls the other day, I decided I might pop in to have a look at the new animal enclosures at Blackbutt Reserve near Newcastle. I will say straight off the bat that I do have something of a prejudice against Blackbutt Reserve, as I see the place as nothing like a natural bush setting, it being far too ‘corrupted’ by human activity, weeds and the like. Having said that it is a good place for a family or group outing/event. It certainly has its place, but it is not a true nature reserve (in my opinion).

Visitor Centre

ABOVE: Visitor Centre

I do think that some well designed animal and bird enclosures at Blackbutt could lift the value of the reserve dramatically and make it a really great place for families, especially young families. There are opportunities for educational visits for kids, possible environmental activities and the like there. So the potential is certainly there for Blackbutt.

The enclosures of my youth are giving way to those that are much better and up to a more modern standard, which is great to see. Certainly the improvements I saw are great and some of them are outstanding. The Quoll enclosure, with nocturnal habitat viewing was brilliant. Some of the other enclosures are getting there also, though I was disappointed with the size of some of the aviaries and poor vegetation choices they appeared to have. They didn’t look to great for the birds, which I think is not a good look. Still, they are a major improvement on what had been there before.

Some of the other enclosures for snakes and amphibians were really good also I have to say and overall the place is going ahead and improving all of the time. So I think it has a place into the future, if it can continue to improve along the way. Just some thoughts…

Modern Enclosures Koala

ABOVE LEFT: Modern Enclosures  ABOVE RIGHT: Koala BELOW: Nocturnal Quoll Enclosure

Nocturnal Quoll Enclosure

Website: The Book Stand


The Book Stand is my latest Blog offering and complements my At the BookShelf Blog. The Book Stand is a place to find free Kindle and/or pdf format ebooks, as well as good ebook offers from time to time.

For more visit:
http://bookstand.tumblr.com/

Reading: The Hunt for Red October and Jason Bourne


I am a big fan of Tom Clancy novels and in particular the Jack Ryan series. A number of years ago I read all of the novels published in the series up until the time I moved house and so for the last 5 years I haven’t read any new ones. When I moved I decided I needed to clean out some of my books (and I have a huge library), so I figured the majority of my fiction books could be cleaned out. I always regretted moving the Tom Clancy novels along, though I figured that at some point I could reclaim them as ebooks, which I am now beginning to do.

A couple of weeks ago I decided to start reading the series again – right from the beginning. I hesitated as to what order I should read them, given that Patriot Games really was set before The Hunt for the Red October, but then settled on the order of the novel release order – so Patriot Games will be next. So I purchased a copy of The Hunt for Red October from Amazon. Of course I decided I might as well watch the movie again, as something of a comparison/contrast. That sort of thing intrigues me you see. I own a Kindle, so I purchased the Kindle version (which can be purchased via the link above).

So having read the first few chapters of the novel I decided to watch the DVD movie (which I have watched a number of times since purchasing the DVD some years ago) again. Now have refreshed my mind by re-reading the entire novel, it is not so much a comparison as a contrast. Certainly there are common threads and similar plots, but there are a large number of differences between the book and the movie. Still, both are quite good in their own right.

So Patriot Games was going to be the next book in the Jack Ryan series and this was to be read next. However, having read something about the 10th book in the Jason Bourne series of novels I thought I must read those also. So to break up the Tom Clancy books I’m going to be reading the Jason Bourne novels also. In fact I have just started the first in the series (again, quite different to the movie), The Bourne Identity (by Robert Ludlum).