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War!

 

At age 15 in 1939, the Second World War ‘broke out’ with very vivid implications even for those of us at home:  food rationing; petrol rationing; and later when the Japanese came into it brownouts and blackouts were also imposed. 

Coffee for one thing was practically unprocurable so people had to make do with substitutes both for that and other things.  For a coffee substitute you could stick together about a dozen pieces of wheat with burnt sugar to form a sort of a blob; if you put three or four blobs in a cup of boiling water it would taste like coffee.  I know; I used to drink it.

Everybody was issued with ration tickets which had to be used very sparingly.  Of course the few who were fortunate to have money could buy all they wanted on the black market with the possible exception of petrol, of which the Military and Essential Services had the monopoly.  But for everybody else there was nowhere near enough. 

But most problems have a solution – in this case a ‘charcoal burner’ – a big ugly monstrosity of a thing about five feet high by one foot wide mounted on the passenger side of a car on the running-board (step), belching fire, smoke, fumes and pollution everywhere.  The gas the charcoal emitted was fed into the fuel system which in some sort of way took the place of petrol but was nowhere near as potent. 

Vehicles in those days did not develop very much horsepower at all, compression ratios were very low, about 7.5:1 compared to about 12:1 today.  Also the octane rating of petrol was only about 70 compared to 91 or 95 today.  To coin a phrase ‘they wouldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding’.  When the car was going uphill under load in top gear the engine would start pinging (ping ping, ping ping, ping).  The only way you could stop it was to back off on the accelerator then you had to change down a gear, which would use more fuel.  It was compulsory to paint the sides of the mudguards of your vehicle white so they could be more easily seen in the brownouts. 

After Darwin was bombed and the fear of a possible bombing and invasion by the Japanese drew closer people started digging air raid shelters. 

I spent a whole week digging a huge hole in our backyard.  It was very hard digging through clay let me tell you.  It used to stick and cling to my mattock and when it was finished I was very proud of the effort I had made for my family.  I was only about 17.  One night it rained very heavily and filled the whole bloody thing with water; so much for the air-raid shelter.  Luckily as it turned out it wasn’t needed anyway.

When the Japanese bombed Darwin there was complete and utter panic and thousands of people fled south in a mass exodus to a small place called Adelaide River.  They came on horseback, cars, trucks, motorbikes and bicycles.  It was referred to as the ‘Adelaide River Stakes’.  At that time Adelaide River was the culminating point of our rail link. 

Both the casualty rate and the damage caused by the bombing were very heavily censored.  The next day I remember seeing a lone soldier with a Bren-gun mounted on a tripod standing on Manly Beach.

The Australian Government also in a state of panic had formulated a pathetic plan to abandon the whole northern part of Australia to the Japanese and to form a last ditch stand at the ‘Brisbane Line’. All I can say is ‘God bless America’ because if it hadn’t been for them the Japanese would have been all over us like a rash and what do you think would have happened then?

‘That’ I will leave to your own imagination.

 For what happened next go to A Digger's Tale

 


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Travel

Poland

Poland

 

 

Berlin

We were to drive to Poland from Berlin.  In September and October 2014 were in Berlin to meet and spend some time with my new grandson, Leander.  But because we were concerned that we might be a burden to entertain for a whole month-and-a-half, what with the demands of a five month old baby and so on, we had pre-planned a number of side-trips.  The last of these was to Poland. 

To pick up the car that I had booked months before, we caught the U-Bahn from Magdalenenstraße, close to Emily's home in Lichtenberg, to Alexanderplatz.  Quick - about 15 minutes - and easy.

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Fiction, Recollections & News

Merry Christmas

 

 

 

2020 was a terrible year. Last Christmas I wished you a better 2021. But, alas, it was not all beer and skittles.

On the bright side, there were no bushfires and the floods were less damaging. The drought has certainly broken. The bush is recovering well.

But in July Covid-19 reasserted itself and cases grew rapidly so the death-rate also began to rise steeply in NSW. 

A total 641 are now dead due to Covid-19 (to date). Yet, as NSW has a population 8.2 million, this still translates to one of the lowest Covid-related death rates in the world.

Victoria has been slightly worse hit with 1,436 deaths to date. Still exceptionally low by world standards. And the smaller states have remained largely Covid-free. Thus 2,072 dead in eighteen months, due to Covid-19, in Australia, has added negligibly to the expected annual death-rate from all causes (around 165,000 a year). Unless things go horribly wrong next year, the historical impact of Covid-19 will be mainly economic.

That economic impact, due to border closures, both overseas and interstate, and to the cost of assistance to businesses and individuals has been significant. While our children's generation learnt to work from home and the State kept essential services and construction running safely, tourism and entertainment businesses were badly hit.

The lock-downs also caused a lot of stress to our children with school-age kids. So, Wendy spent many days supervising the on-line-home-schooling of our grandchildren, Vivienne and Billy. I helped for a single day. I'm still dining out on that one!

The scare in this State was well-timed. Almost everyone rushed to get their 'two shots' of whichever vaccine was available. So, a country leading: 94.82% of the NSW population over 16, is now vaccinated - with the rollout to younger children well underway.

So far, this has borne fruit and, despite rising case numbers, we currently have less than 200 Covid-cases in hospital in NSW and just eight of those are on a ventilator. So, the borders are opening; masks are voluntary; QR check-in is no longer required in shops; and proof of vaccination is no longer mandatory in bars, gyms and sporting venues. Come and get it!

Predictably, case numbers are rising hourly, so the unvaccinated will soon be infected. This brave minority have opted to rely on natural immunity - nature's way.

The 'natural' case fatality rate (CFR) for Covid-delta is around 2% but could be lower, we hope, for Covid-omicron. It's more deadly with age. So, I'm guessing that only about one in a hundred of the unvaccinated are in the running for a (posthumous) Darwin Award.

Both Wendy and I have had our boosters in preparation.

We hope to travel again in 2022. The last time we saw our German grandchildren in the flesh was in 2019. 

Thanks to WhatsApp we can still get together face-to-face and I can report that both Tilda (4) and Leander (7) understand and speak English, in addition, of course, to their native German. Leander's English is now excellent. Yet it's not quite like us being there or them being here.

Those of you who read last year's message will find what follows familiar. I've barely changed a word.

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Opinions and Philosophy

Carbon Capture and Storage

 

 

(Carbon Sequestration)

 

 

The following abbreviated paper is extracted from a longer, wider-ranging, paper with reference to energy policy in New South Wales and Australia, that was written in 2008. 
This extract relates solely to CCS.
The original paper that is critical of some 2008 policy initiatives intended to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions can still be read in full on this website:
Read here...

 

 

 


Carbon Sequestration Source: Wikimedia Commons

 

This illustration shows the two principal categories of Carbon Capture and Storage (Carbon Sequestration) - methods of disposing of carbon dioxide (CO2) so that it doesn't enter the atmosphere.  Sequestering it underground is known as Geosequestration while artificially accelerating natural biological absorption is Biosequestration.

There is a third alternative of deep ocean sequestration but this is highly problematic as one of the adverse impacts of rising CO2 is ocean acidification - already impacting fisheries. 

This paper examines both Geosequestration and Biosequestration and concludes that while Biosequestration has longer term potential Geosequestration on sufficient scale to make a difference is impractical.

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