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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.

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

Native Wildlife of the Area


It’s another wet and windy day in paradise, so not much to do but sit it out. It also means I haven’t got a lot to type about (as opposed to write about, given I’m using the keyboard). So I’m going back a little and posting about some photos I’ve taken in recent months here. In fact, what I’m posting about today is one of the great things about living here in Tea Gardens, which differs a great deal from other places I have lived down Newcastle and Lake Macquarie way and that is the abundance of wildlife around here. Sadly we have managed to kill of most of the wildlife down around Newcastle, or at the very least drove it all away. Here it abounds and I love it being so.

Diamond PythonI’m not talking about just the smaller animal and bird species you might expect to find in a suburban area, but even the bigger examples of wildlife also. Kangaroos and Wallabies can be found all over the place in this area and it isn’t unusual to see them bounding down the main street in numbers. In fact, sadly, you often find them as road kill on the main road out to the highway. Where I work we have smaller wallabies and kangaroos actually living in and amongst the homes, with joeys in their pouches as well. The odd Dingo can also be seen from time to time. Koalas are known to live in healthy numbers around the area – not that I have spotted one here yet.

Reptiles abound here also, with large numbers of Red Belly Black Snakes, Diamond Pythons (pictured at above left) and Tree Snakes readily found in the warmer months, along with Blue-Tongued Lizards and Goannas. I have seen some Goannas that have been at least 1 metre long. Some of the Diamond Pythons have been closer to 2 metres in length.

It is the bird life that really thrives around here, especially the wetland varieties. The area is rich in bird life. At work you can see on a daily basis Wattle Birds, Blue Wrens, Finches, various Parrots and Rosellas, Black Cockatoos, Galahs, Water Fowl, Wood Ducks, Ibis, Egrets, Spoonbills, Herons, Black Swans and many, many more species of birds. There are the rarer sightings of birds also. A Tawny Frogmouth (pictured at below right) has made its home near where I live, trying its best to look like part of the tree in which it chooses to roost.Tawny Frogmouth

The area also abounds in sea life, of various types and sizes. It is not unusual to have Humpback Whales sighted of the coast here and Dolphins can be spotted almost every morning if you know where to look. The Sting Rays are also easy spot at the right time of the day.

You do get your not so welcome species of wildlife also, such as mosquitos and sand flies, but I guess these play their part in the general run of things, being food perhaps for the more welcome members of wildlife society.

One of the things I’m doing down here, tieing in my interest in web applications and social networks, is being involved with the Project Noah social network. This is a place to log wildlife spots with GPS markings using the iPhone application, along with the web application. I haven’t long been involved in it, but it is something I will be doing more and more. It will be good to build up a more complete picture of what species live in the area. Others can get involved in recording and mapping the wildlife of the area here by joining the ‘mission’ I have started at Project Noah.

The mission I have started for Tea Gardens can be found at:
http://www.projectnoah.org/missions/12346009

Website: Free Kindle Books and Tips


If you have an ebook reader (specifically a Kindle) and would like access to free books, the site have linked to in today’s post could be just what you want. ‘Free Kindle Books and Tips’ is a Kindle Blog. I have been visiting this site on a daily basis now for several weeks and discovered some great books (possibly great as I haven’t read them all to confirm that yet).

Visit the Site at:
http://www.fkbooksandtips.com/

Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO) Browser Game: Travian


Travian is another Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO) browser game. It is a Real Time Strategy (RTS) game in which you are up against thousands of other players building online villages at various levels of development. The game is set in Roman Times and your objective is to quickly build a village and then participate in defensive/offensive strategy/battles. Of course there is a lot more detail to the game than that. This game is also similar to Land of Destiny and Tribal Wars, but again it is a different experience to them both.

I play all three of the games that I have mentioned in the last couple of days and enjoy them all. I think if you like one, you would like them all also. I’m sure, like me, that there would be one you prefer above the rest. For me it is Tribal Wars, followed by Land of Destiny, then Travian – but I do not want to make it sound as though Travian is a poor game. It is a great game also.

Play the Game at:
http://www.travian.com/

 

Obituaries Australia


If you are into genealogy like me, a site like Obituaries Australia could be a great help. It is even a great site for those who may from time to time need to find out information about a deceased relative or friend. Obituaries Australia is an online database of obituaries published in various print media and is searchable in a variety of ways.

For more, visit:
http://oa.anu.edu.au/

 

Online Video Rotator


From time to time when taking a video you sometimes find it better to shoot the video ‘on its side.’ Of course when this is done the video is only able to be viewed side ways. If only the video could be turned and viewed the correct way up. Online Video Rotator does this job for you, though it is limited to 3MB only. Does anyone know of a place for converting larger files – that would be very useful? Still, having an online tool that does the job even for small files is a great help.

For more, visit:
http://www.rotatevideo.org/

 

Beta Li.st


Today’s link is to a Blog that is concerned with the latest Internet start ups, including various social networks and web applications. Being right into this sort of thing, I check out the site on a daily basis. A great Blog to go back to again and again.

Fore more, visit:
http://betali.st/

The Plant List


Today’s link is to a site devoted to plants, providing a listing of all known plant species. This site will be of great interest to horticulturists like myself.

Fore more, visit:
http://www.theplantlist.org/

Zork 1: The Great Underground Empire


For the next few posts I’m taking a break from the various web applications I have been using and looking at a few time wasters – games. I grew up in a time when the majority of games played were text-based adventure games. Some people will remember these games with a fondness, while those who never played them will probably be bored with them rather quickly.

Below is a link to Zork 1: The Great Underground Empire
http://www.xs4all.nl/~pot/infocom/zork1.html