Tuesday, December 31, 2013

31 December 2013 - Some Thoughts on the New Year

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“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something.

So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you're scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.” 

- Neil Gaiman (1960 - ), 
 English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, audio theatre and films. 

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“New Year's is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls and humbug resolutions.”

- Mark Twain (1835 – 1910), 
American author and humorist

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"The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written."

- Melody Beattie (1948 - ), 
American self-help author 

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"Now there are more overweight people in America than average-weight people. So overweight people are now average… which means, you have met your New Year's resolution."

- Jay Leno (1950 - ), 
American comedian, actor, voice actor, writer, producer and television host.

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“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.” 

- Oprah Winfrey (1954 - ), 
American media proprietor, talk show host, actress, producer and philanthropist.

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“Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.”

- Hal Borland (1900 – 1978),
American author and journalist. 

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"Your Merry Christmas may depend on what others do for you. But your Happy New Year depends on what you do for others."

- Anonymous

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What can be said in New Year rhymes,
That's not been said a thousand times?
The new years come, the old years go,
We know we dream, we dream we know.
We rise up laughing with the light,
We lie down weeping with the night.
We hug the world until it stings,
We curse it then and sigh for wings.
We live, we love, we woo, we wed,
We wreathe our prides, we sheet our dead.
We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear,
And that's the burden of a year.

- Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919), 
American author and poet. 

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Clara Bow, the “It” Girl from Hollywood’s silent film days, introduces the new year in 1927.

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I take this opportunity of wishing you all a Happy New Year, 
may 2014 be your Annus Magnificum.

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Monday, December 30, 2013

Color Runs

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Moshe and Solly are in Bondi having a man-to-man chat. Moshe says, "I’m so embarrassed to have to tell you Solly but, oy veh, I am having trouble keeping up an erection." 

"You’re in luck Moshe," says Solly, "you’re talking to the right man. I have just the solution for you - eat a lot of rye bread. It worked for me." 

After they leave, Moshe thinks about what Solly has said and although he doesn’t really believe it, he decides it wouldn’t hurt to try it out. So he goes to the Edgcliffe bakery and, as he's searching on the shelves for the rye bread, a saleslady goes over to him and politely asks, "Can I help you sir?"

"That's very nice of you," replies Moshe. "Yes, I do need some help. Do you have any rye bread?"

"Of course we do," she replies with a lovely smile. "We have a whole shelf of it. Would you like me to get you a loaf?"

"Yes," replies Moshe. "Please get me five large loaves of your best rye bread."

"Oy vey," she says. "Five loaves! By the time you get to the third loaf, it will be hard."

On hearing this, Moshe exclaims “How come everybody knows about this except me?”

My reason in posting the above joke, which has been previously posted on Bytes, is that the subject of today’s post, Color Runs, seems to be known by so many people around me that, like Moshe, I ask “How come everybody knows about this except me?”

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My acquaintance with Color Runs began when my daughter, Acacia, who is presently visiting Oz from Dubai, where she lives and works, sent the following photograph of herself:

The reason she looks so . . . pink . . . is that she had participated in a fun run where people throw coloured powder at each other.

I then heard son Thomas discussing the run with her and his surprise that they had such runs in Dubai.

Everybody knows except me, I had never even heard of them.

It prompted me to read up on the activity and some items of interest are set out below.

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The Holi Festival in India features worshippers throwing coloured powder at each other :

Taking inspiration from that festival, in 2012 American event producer Travis Snyder initiated the first Color Run, a 5 kilometre event that has no winners or prizes, but showers runners with coloured powder at stations along the run. It was his aim to encourage professionals and novices to run together, not for prizes or times but for fun.

There were events in over 50 North American cities in 2012,making it the largest five-kilometre event series in the United States.

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The event has now spread to South America, Europe, Australia, South Africa and, as noted, Dubai.

It is planned to also hold events into dozens more countries in Europe and Asia.

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Because the concept originated in the US, American spelling remains used for the word “Color”

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Participants can walk as well as run.

Runners begin dressed in clean white t-shirts, and pass through a colour station once every kilometre. Each colour station is associated with a different colour, with volunteers blasting the runners with dyed cornstarch out of spray bottles. Runners complete the course covered in the safe and colourful powder. At the finish line following the untimed run, there are typically celebrations featuring a dance party and food vendors

Runs draw up to 30,000 participants.

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Some pics:

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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Post-Christmas Post

Hello again Byters.

Here’s hoping that the Christmas break was restful and enjoyable for you all.

Today I wish to share with you my Christmas experience and, in so doing, to highlight two remarkable people. I have written about them in Bytes before, they are my wife’s parents, Margaret and Noel.

Come Easter 2014 they will have been married 60 years. Noel is now 87, Margaret a little younger but it is not gentlemanly to reveal a woman’s age. 

Margaret and Noel on their wedding day, 59 years ago.

Celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.

Together they raised 4 daughters, three of whom live in Canberra, where Margaret and Noel also live, and one in Sydney, that of course being my wife Kate.

About 4 years ago Margaret was walking down some poorly lit, narrow tread stairs in a bookshop when she misjudged her step. She fell and hit her head on a low book case at the base of the stairs. That impact completely crushed one vertebra and fractured another, causing her to be hospitalised for some time. Osteoporosis had made the situation worse and she was eventually released but having to wear a rigid collar. Things that had been routinely accepted before – walks, gardening, travelling, even sitting and watching TV or reading – were now either a memory or accomplished with pain and difficulty.

Margaret never complained and Noel was always at her side, firstly with daily trips to the hospital and later in attending to her needs, meals and activities at home, despite his own arthritis and infirmities.

Two years ago Margaret had another fall. This time she fractured a vertebra in her lower back, putting her into a special suit that kept her immobile on her back in hospital for 3 months. Three months of staring at the ceiling and communicating with people without being able to look at them. Despite it all Margaret remained positive in outlook and refused to let it get her down. As before, Noel visited daily, even though this hospital’s car park was some distance from the wards. Again, when she finally came home, Noel looked after her in whatever ways he was able.

Readers will know that I signed off on 24 December. Kate, son Thomas and I travelled to Canberra to spend a few days with Kate’s parents and to get together with her sisters and their families. Kate had also promised to show Noel the workings of the Thermomix cooking device. Son Elliot had to work over that period and couldn’t go with us.

Not long after arriving, Kate cooked up a lovely meal. As it was being served, Margaret felt dizzy and took another fall, hitting her head on the kitchen tiles. Although she seemed lucid and rational, she also complained of a sore hip. She was unable to bear weight on that leg and Kate, a former nursing sister, diagnosed a likely fractured hip. She wanted to call the ambulance straight away but Margaret refused. Instead, a chair was brought to her where she lay, she was positioned onto the chair and, at her insistence, the chair was brought to the table. Why? Because she wanted to have her dinner first because hospital food is awful. With her dinner finished, despite the pain she was in, the ambulance was called (what great guys) and she was taken to Canberra Hospital. Although there was no head trauma, sure enough she had broken her hip. She was given painkillers with surgery scheduled for the next day.

The nurses were wonderful, wearing a variety of Christmas themed tops and decorations that they had each purchased themselves.

For those interested in the technical details, the fracture was an intertrochanteric fracture, shown in the following diagram:

Such a fracture does not require a full or partial hip replacement, as would be the case with a transcervical fracture, but it did need a pin and a plate.

We left the hospital at 3.00am and were back again later in the morning, enabling us to have Christmas Day lunch in the hospital cafeteria, which only had a limited selection available:

Christmas Day lunch - bacon pieces and melted cheese on bread from the hot food bar.

Surgery was deferred because of emergencies involving children, but was carried out the next day.

We are now back in Sydney, Margaret remains in hospital and Noel is visiting again daily.

Both remain strong, each seems more concerned about the other.

Isn't that what the spirit of Christmas is about, after all?

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By the way:

An example of hospital Christmas decoration.

One of the nurses told me that his name was Mal, second name Nutrition.

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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Message

I will be away from my computer for a few days so there will be no Bytes over that period.

I take this opportunity to wish all Byters and readers a merry, safe and joyous Christmas. It has been fun posting Bytes items and I appreciate having received submissions and feedback.

Here are the links for a couple of my favourite Christmas videos, have a look if you get bored:

Kylie Minogue sings Santa Baby

Christmas Countdown by Frank Kelly:

Aussie Jingle Bells:

My Christmas card this year harked back to the days of childhood by using a pic that used to appear around this time of the year:

‘Santa and the Drover’
by commercial artist and illustrator Jack Waugh (1910-1996). 

Jack Waugh’s 1964 painting of Santa pausing on his travels to share a cup of billy tea with an outback drover, whilst the drover’s horse and Santa’s reindeer tentatively become acquainted, was painted for Arnott’s Biscuits and was featured on the lid of their Christmas biscuit tins. So popular that it was repeated year after year, it also appeared on the rear page of The Australian Women’s Weekly for a number of years each Christmas. Waugh, born in Lakemba and raised in Glebe, used himself as the model for the drover. Note the kelpie next to the drover

Happy trails.


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Vintage Christmas cards

Nothing says Merry Christmas more than a cat tormenting a ladybird, with another cat with a bow in the greenery . . . 

. . .  unless it’s a cat playing the mandolin and another singing . . . 

. . . or two cats getting married.

The Snow Child with some greenery, 1909. Hopefully she made it home before the snowfall became too heavy.

Vintage Christmas cards love to depict children in forced labour situations, often in Santa’s workshop, without the benefit of awards, minimum wages, child labour laws and OHS protection. 

Either yelling "Merry Christmas" or "Hellllpppp!

An extraordinarily gifted child with the brush. Is it me or does the ladder seem to not be leaning against the wall at the right angle when compared to the writing?


The card that you give if you don’t want to mention Christmas. 

Santa gets into the egg nog and, by the look of his eyes, he's been at it a while.  A lump of coal in his own stocking?

Let's make a card that sends best wishes and show a little boy, all alone, who has walked a long way in the snow and who keeps dropping everything because it's too much to carry.




American forces in France

Wrong on so many levels.


Strange Santa discovers the wonders of modern technology before the days of iPhones.

Why is there a sleepy Christmas boy in the tree in the dead of winter? Beats me. Have a joyous Christmas.

During WW2, there was an effort made on the home front to kill bugs. This card compares the war on bugs with the war on Yaps and Nutsies.

It's hard to believe that this would ever have been considered acceptable.  Thelma obviously thought it was.

The first mass produced Christmas card, 1843. 10 survive today of the 1,000 printed. The card was hand coloured in that it predated colour printing and depicts a family toasting Christmas, flanked by scenes of the poor being fed and clothed. Created for Henry Cole for personal use, he sold the extra cards for one shilling each. The card caused a controversy in some quarters for showing a child being given wine to drink.