Category Archives: Australia

Ending a drought

I’ve just added a new book to my personal reading list. Its a wonderful book that I found in Alice Springs in bookstore devoted to Aboriginal Australians. The book The Original Australians by Josephine Flood is the best single treatment of the subject ever written. That’s my guess anyway.

Fighting the Red Plan for three years was so all consuming I didn’t read a single book from cover to cover for two years. I’m so over that.


Sunburnt Country…………………………………. Bill Bryson
Thunderbolt Kid ……………………………………….Bill Bryson
Lincoln, The biography of a writer ………………… Fred Kaplan
1776…………………………………………………………David McCullough
The Diary of Anne Frank (Definitive edition)……… Anne Frank
Nature’s Building Blocks A-Z guide to Elements……. John Emsley
In Tasmania …………………………………………… Nicholas Shakespeare
The Fatal Shore……………………………………….. Robert Hughes


Searching for Aboriginal Languages………………. R.M.W. Dixon
A History of New Zealand …………………………. Keith Sinclair
Carnivorous Nights (Trail of Taz Tiger)…………….Mittelbach & Crewdson
New Zealand Wildlife BRADT……………………….. Julian Fitter
Australian Wildlife BRADT …………………………..Stella Martin
The Last of the Nomads……………………………. W J Peasley
The Original Australians……………………………. Josephine Flood

At risk in Duluth

It seems that the initial Superintendent candidates have the right idea about helping out at risk kids:

The first three Duluth superintendent candidates all talked about the importance of closing the district’s wide achievement gap Tuesday night during the first set of interviews with the School Board.

But in Duluth that means severing our connection with a charter school set up to do just that.

Loyal readers, thank you

Speaking of reading “it” here first, that has not been true for the past month. I barely got onto the Internet while in Australia. I had meant to blog about my vacation daily but somehow I ended up vacationing instead. I wrote almost nothing in Lincolndemocrat for most of March and yet well over 50 readers showed up every day of my absence. They added up to over 500 folks. I’m flattered.

I know I don’t regret my priorities over March because for the past three nights I’ve woken up in Australia taking photographs. I’ve had lovely dreams. During my first week in New Zealand I woke up once dreaming about Dr. Dixon. I don’t think it was quite a nightmare but I recall feeling a tad sweaty. I hope the Down Under themed dreams will continue waltzing Matilda along a bit longer.

Landing safely

Having just completed a trip with ten flights there-and-back I took comfort when catching up on my yellowing DNT’s to read that Congressman Chip Cravaak wants the Federal Government to check out the sale of Cirrus Aviation to China for the sake of our nation’s military security. As an old air line pilot I’m sure Chip understands that if we let the Chinese have Cirrus there is great danger that the Chinese will equip all their military aircraft with parachutes thus giving their air force an unfair tactical advantage in any future aerial conflict between our two nations. Heck, they’re probably using all the money they loaned America during the GW Bush years to pay for the purchase.

I’m sure as I read through more of my stockpile of month old Tribs that I’ll find even more news nuggets to comment on. Oh, how I missed making wry and cynical comments on this blogsite while I was in New Zealand and Australia……..No, wait. I didn’t!

I’m listening to a recording of yellow eyed penguins…

…and I’m listening whilst drinking a fine pinot noir by the shores of a glacial lake while folding laundry. Sorry, but the Internet has been balky and I’ve been enjoying myself immensely below the equator. I did read that the Duluth Schools are tanking when I looked at the DNT website yesterday. Geez, Do I have to come back?

Tomorrow I take a day tour of a NZ fjord. Two more days and I’m off to hunt Tasmanian tigers.

Snow in the Mountains

We landed at LAX last night. Today is the annual orgy of self congratulation for the film industry called the Academy Awards. I’ll try to talk Claudia into taking a tour of LA today but that may not be easy. Its actually cold her (if 40 degrees F is cold) and we’ve got a 13 hour flight ahead of us with lots of other tours built into the month that follows.

Our airport hotel looks out on the bricks of another hotel but from an angle we have a view of snow covered mountains. Two feet of snow was dumped on them last night and the snowboarders are going wild.

Our server at breakfast today told us he’s been in LA for fifteen years (to escape the cold of Washington DC!) and he’s never experienced such cold weather has he’s had to endure for the past year and a half.


While packing I’ve been busy watching:

Wisconsin – Even extremists who hide their intentions to get elected may have a concern that is worthy of consideration.

North Africa and the Middle East – I believe people should be free to make their own mistakes. The freedom itself is not a mistake.

Duluth School District – Dixon is still telling us how great his new buildings are going to be for our children. Meanwhile he’s planning a retreat back to Faribault or some such place. (The Budgeteer must be hiding it on their website or I’d link to his latest)

Christchurch, New Zealand – Crimeny!

I hate the thought of reading any online stuff about Duluth. It would be a terrible way to distract myself from a once in a lifetime vacation. Posts on the Red Plan may be very infrequent. Let us hope so.

I leave you with this song lyric from Australia’s Slim Dusty, a country/outback/ phenomenon from the 1940’s through the 80’s. I read a Scottish woman’s fond reminiscence of singing it in her Classroom as a child in the 1960’s.

G’day G’day

G’day g’day, how ya goin’, what d’ya know, well strike a light
G’day g’day, and how ya go-o-o-in’
Just say g’day g’day g’day and you’ll be right

Isn’t great to be an Aussie
Takin’ a walk along the street
Lookin’ in shops or buyin’ a paper
Stoppin’ and havin’ a yarn with people that you meet

Down at the pub or at a party
Whenever you’re stuck for what to say
If you wanna be dinky-di, why don’t you give it a try
Look ’em right in the eye and say goo’day

G’day g’day, how ya goin’, hat d’ya know, well strike a light
G’day g’day, and how ya go-o-o-in’
Just say g’day g’day g’day and you’ll be right

Now when Italians meet they all go crazy
The blokes all like to hug each other too
The Yanks invented “hi” “and see you later”
While the Pommy will shake your hand and say “how do you do”

Now watch out for a Frenchmen or he’ll kiss you
The Spaniards go for “Olah” and “Olay”
But in the land of the cockatoo, pole cats and the didgeridoo
When you meet an Aussie ten-to-one here’s what he’ll say

G’day g’day, how ya goin’, what d’ya know, well strike a light
G’day g’day, and how ya go-o-o-in’
Just say g’day g’day g’day and you’ll be right

It’s a greeting that you’ll hear across Australia
From Geraldton to Goulburn, Gundagai
It’s as dinkum as the Dingo and the Dahlia
And you spell it with a G, apostrophe, a D-A-Y

Goo’day goo’day, how ya goin’, what d’ya know, well strike a light
G’day g’day, and how ya go-o-o-in’
Just say g’day g’day g’day and you’ll be right

All Shook Up

In September Christchurch, New Zealand was hit by an earthquake as we were beginning to research a trip to Australia and New Zealand. We are scheduled to spend a night in Christchurch in a little over a week.

No one lost their life in September. Christchurch wasn’t so lucky a couple hours ago. The symbol of their good fortune in September was a cathedral. This time its steeple has toppled over.

going cold turkey on political commentary

Its been a busy couple of weeks news-wise just as I’ve been preoccupied with packing up for a month long trip to Australia. I’ve had a chance to read it but not blog about it. Early in the week I was hit with five days straight of grandparenting followed by a two day finale taking care of a feverish 13 month old. Most days I was working on reports mandated by state law covering my responsiblity as a conservator for my Mother. Yesterday was mostly devoted to my being the “pronouncer” at the Regional Spelling Bee which ended up being a marathon with a dozen excellent spellers at the end. And today began with my donating a pint of blood followed by going through my taxes followed by serving a meal at the Damiano Center’s Soup Kitchen. Then I had to come home and clean my house after neglecting it for a couple busy weeks so that we could wine and dine some friends while boring them with the itinerary for our month-long trip.

I’m just grateful that when four days of snow caused Snowbama’s head to fall off it didn’t roll into the intersection. That would not have been helpful.

I am trying to convince myself not to post blogs about politics while I am away. I’ll be taking a computer with me across the equator but I’d like to devote all posts to the Antipodes. I’ll try not to read the DNT and any late breaking carping about the latest blow to public education in Duluth may have to await my return. My blood pressure has been trending up and I’d like to bring it back down. A travelogue might offer a nice temporary respite from political aggravation. Ah, but I have seven days to grouse before I leave. I’ll try to make the most of it.

JCI could sell them air conditioners

I’m nearly done reading my fifth or sixth book on the lands “Down Under.” This one is a very nice accompaniment to In Tasmania and the two books I’ve just finished reading one on the flora and fauna of New Zealand and the other on the same topic about Australia. Its called Carniverous Nights. Its about a couple arm chair naturalists who got the yen to search for the recently extinct Tasmanian Tiger. There may have been a couple still alive when I was born in the 1950’s. Had the Tasmanian legislature not voted to put a 1 pound bounty on them in 1890 the last known one would not have died in a zoo in 1933.

I just finished reading a chapter on the River Styx a stream where the worlds tallest trees are being logged for paper pulp. The tallest trees no longer exist. One was measured at 470 feet tall which would be higher than the tallest red woods. Other smaller Eucalyptus Regnans exist but they are being mowed down to be replaced by tree farms. I may try to take a side trip to get a look at them when I’m there in a month’s time.

Immediately after finishing the chapter I hurried up to my computer and found this in my favorite blog. Its a three minute promo worth every second. Its about the Amazon. We could have cheaper hamburgers if we’re allowed to chop it down too. No doubt JCI could sell air conditioners to the ranchers.

Self Promotion

I noticed the DNT had a nice little picture of half a dozen employees posing with various first prize awards for journalism on Page 2 today. An accompanying story mentioned that one was for “self promotion.”

On the back page of the first section was a map I was very interested in showing the anticipated landfall of the Typhoon Yasi onto the coast of Australia. It was surrounded appropriately by the continuation of a story from the front page called “storm.” I hadn’t recalled seeing anything about Australia on the front page. Unfortunately it turned out to be the story about the “snow” storm pummeling the central US!

A paper didn’t arrive at my door until about 7:30 this morning but instead of it being the Trib I found a Minneapolis Tribune on my doorstep. I found the old “circulation” phone number and called in to get the DNT. Evidently one of the cost saving moves the DNT has taken in recent months is to replace humans in the Circulation Dept with an automatic phone system. I had to press the number one about eight times followed by my phone number and address to report the missing paper. It dutifully arrived within about fifteen minutes my never once having to talk to a person. Now if the DNT could just rely on machines for all their proof reading – machines that can tell the difference between a map of an Australian typhoon and a North American blizzard.

High tide

I’ve been paying close attention to both my east and west for the past few weeks. To the East the biggest political movement since the fall of the Berlin Wall seems to be happening in North Africa and parts of the Arab world. To the West the destination for my March trip of a lifetime is being battered over and over again by typhoons and flooding. Until now the locales I’ll be visiting have been spared and the worst of the flooding which has taken place in a part of Australia which I would be missing. That’s changing tonight. The worst typhoon since World War 1 is about to hit and add more misery.

The uprisings in the Arab world have everything to do with the major draughts in Central Asia and Australia that have greatly reduced wheat crops and driven food prices sky high.

And we’re just north of one of the most colossal winter storms to have crossed the US. My sister in law reported the lowest temps she’s ever experienced in Dallas over the last twenty years – Green Bay friendly wind chills of three below zero. The Duluth weatherman lingered over his North American maps tonight to point out that the temps in Northern Mexico are in the twenties. He said he’d never seen such a thing before.

That’s just some of the extreme weather we’ve been seeing. There was the historic flooding in Pakistan too and probably more. Its almost enough to make you question whether Rush Limbaugh et al should really be that cocky when they call Global Warming a fraud.

I was in New Orleans about a month before Katrina hit. I’ll be in Cairns about a month after Yasi hits. Maybe its just me. My honeymoon was a soggy mess too.

And the band played Waltzing Matilda

I think I heard Joan Baez’s version of this song a long time ago and found it less than memorable. I found this version by the Australian countrywestern-style singer Slim Dusty very moving. The vintage photos montage looks just like the set pieces for the Movie Galipoli which I saw a second time recently. Its all part of my studying up on Down Under where I will be spending next March.