Thursday, 28 February 2013

A SAMe sort of day

Yet again the skies are so dark grey that I have to switch lights on in the house. The rain seeps steadily out of the leaking fog, not threatening but a total discouragement from doing anything apart from digging a dry hole and hibernating. I should have been something like a bear, I think.

Brain can take a day or two of utter greyness before it decides that it will shut down. I can't play computer games because Brain isn't awake, I don't feel like doing 'creative' stuff  like housework because Body takes its cue from Brain...This is the point where I ensure I have a supply of the rescue tablets: SAMe. For anyone not familiar with this wonderful chemical, its proper name is S-Adenosyl Methionine. I don't know why it has the suffix 'e', as the two isomers do not have an additional 'ethyl' suffix or anything to justify it, and the active isomer is the SS one - maybe a chemist out there can explain it? In Europe SAMe is available on prescription, but here and in the US it can just be bought. This can be risky to various folk, especially anyone with a tendency to bipolar moods or similar, but for those who only slide downwards, like me, it is a godsend. Used with caution it enables me to splash out with the dogs at regular intervals, actually play better at computer games... and bother the housework. El gave me a fridge magnet with the words: Housework won't kill you, but why take the chance? 

Anyone unfamiliar with SAMe, Google it now if your weather gets you down!

As to the other aspects of life, wet, muddy but still there... the folk came to see the house and declared it was absolutely what they wanted. The only snag, as so often happens, is that they aren't exactly sure when they will have the money. Lovely young couple, but I sent them off with a some little homework exercises to do.  It's lucky I'm not in a hurry to move (I totally love it here), the local housing market being reduced to a few hopefuls wandering around.

Life had another  little challenge the night before last. Apparently Telstra had a 'major fallover' of its communications system. At my end all I knew was that my house phone went dead, my mobile only managed the odd blip of reception and I lost my internet (what's new???). The TV was also affected - a real non-electronic evening. I managed a rapid contact with El and Duncan, enough to say I was here. Duncan then nobly spent an hour or so working his way through the Indians, so not only did I have my phone functioning yesterday morning but I had a follow-up phone call from an Australian Telstra man to explain the crisis to me and check I was back on line.

As to my other challenge, of canine Banjo, well, things are going much as expected, except that he has made it clear he would rather sleep outside than be warm and dry in his shed. He has found that by hurling himself repeatedly at the door he can force it open. It is a heavy, insulated door, but I removed the security catch from it for child safety reasons. I give up, as he can get out quite rapidly now he knows how. He must have very bruised shoulders but he would rather that than be left closed up. Right, so I have a claustrophobic dog? Starting from last night he now sleeps outside under an eave, apparently quite content. Other people may think it unkind, but Banjo is happy with the arrangement.

I'm not sure what the vet will say when we return as scheduled, but probably sigh because my dogs never obey the rules. Banjo removed his Elizabethan collar during the night, so has probably also removed his stitches. He is not complaining so I hope will heal well despite his rebellion. He doesn't like his normal collar either, though this is lasting his ferocious scratching - this is a real street kid of a dog!

This afternoon I have to drive to Allora to deliver some eggs and buy some hay. The goats are on strike, refusing to go out in the paddock because rain is anathema to a goat. If I run out of hay I shall probably have a loud protest group so I have to stock up, one bale at a time because my so-called Magna wagon is a Minima with its space to put bales of hay. Mischief has broken her window winder button, of course with the window in the down position, so I have the additional pleasure of driving with the weather sharing the inside of the car. Ugh.

May your life have some sunshine in it!

Cheers - Fliss

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Mud in the doghouse

An interesting couple of days, if you like total disorganisation. Yesterday Melissa had great problems getting here in the morning to help clean this mega-kennel up. She got halfway to find the road was closed. I couldn't believe it - that was the shortest opening of a road in history, surely? Open Sunday afternoon and closed by Monday morning.Granted it has been raining everywhere, but our rainfall is nothing like the folk on the coast where they are having yet more major floods.

I had to collect Banjo from the vet's in Warwick about 4 p.m. so left early in order to arrive in plenty of time to do a hasty shop with El before facing the future with Dog. I thought I'd check for myself whether I could get through, as the signs were only a couple of kilometres down the road. And it was firmly CLOSED. I swore, turned the car around and went north to Allora in order to go south to Warwick. That qualified as the major irritant of the week.

I took El up to the vet's with me after our brief retail excursion. I had arranged to have both Cody and Mischief vaccinated as they haven't been done for several years and the vet said there is a huge increase in parvo fatalities in the region. Hence I was going to be juggling three dogs. 

When we went in Rose, the vet nurse, said words to the effect of 'Thank God you're here. And heaven help you with this dog...'

I enquired why, and she said that Banjo had barked continuously ever since coming round from his anaesthetic. Oh, that noise at the back was him...

I had the two tame dogs done, vet Greg being happy with them both, then we went out to load them in the car before sorting Banjo out. Unfortunately Rose could not wait to get rid of this painful patient and produced him before we were ready, with the result we had a total mix-up of dog bodies. Banjo was wearing an Elizabethan collar, and Rose rattled off: he has to keep it on for two weeks because he tried to remove his stitches; he has to be kept quiet - no running around for two weeks...

Right, you are kidding aren't you? This bundle of coiled energy and rebellion had been in the pound for the last week, then in a cage for the day. There was no way on earth he was going to stay meekly quiet for the next fortnight. I shook my head incredulously and wrestled Banjo into his place in the car.

El was very happy to be dropped off to her peaceful cat household while I took my bouncing car the long way home again. 

When we arrived I released the dogs, whereupon Banjo gyrated madly around the area, whacking one of my precious pumpkins. No, no, I only have four of them! I dog-handled him into the yard and hastily into his large penned area. With some forethought I had bought a ginormous beef femur to keep him happy while I prepared his meal. He was rattling empty after basically two days without food due to having to be starved before his operation. I managed to retain my arms when giving it to him, and he promptly settled down happily for a while.

Giving him his food is a major hazard at present as he tries to flatten anything between him and his food. He is strong, too, which makes it a real challenge. I'm thinking of strategies...

I can safely say, after 24 hours of Banjo, that I have several number one priorities for trying to train him:
1. Stop him barking.
1. Stop him leaping five feet in the air to land paws first on one's chest.
1. Teach him some table manners.
1. Stop him BARKING.

After trying me out for 24 hours, Banjo has decided that barking doesn't seem so good as he is likely to have a cup of water hurled over him which he finds rude and startling. He has found out that leaping on my chest results in my snarling savagely at him and pushing him away hard - this too he finds rude and startling. He has found out that I am very mean and try to stop him stampeding over the top of me for his food. We have a long way to travel with this issue. This afternoon he wanted me to be nice to him and stroke him for a change. Jumping up wasn't achieving this. He stepped back and creased his face up in thought. Then he carefully sat down, fixing me with his most concentrated stare, and wagged his tail. Yes - he got his stroke and was told he was a very good boy!

I am of course ignoring the no-exercise part of the instructions I was given, so Banjo gets to go around the paddock regularly with the other dogs.If he didn't have exercise he would go frantic, while I want to calm him. This evening he has been totally silent, whereas yesterday I had to put him in his night shed by 7.30 pm. He is being the very best boy he can be (with a long, long road to travel).

And here is a nice picture of some flooding nearby, taken by the Storm Chasers. Uh, I think our drought definitely broke, and I don't really think I can use the Washpool Road!
Tomorrow Melissa comes again so we can present a better doghouse than it is today - a hundred sets of in-and-out muddy dog prints is such a poor look, somehow.

Have a good night/day and stay safe -


Sunday, 24 February 2013

Sunday 24th

Today was surly, overcast and humid all day, only brightening up at sunset. We were supposed to have rain, but up here we believe it when we see it. Talking of which, the Allora bridge has been patched up after the recent floods, and today there was a sign on the way home to say that the Warwick road is open again. Great, as the loop around the back roads, while scenic, takes a fairly long time. 

I had a phone call from someone wanting to view the house. It's been officially on the market since June last year, but I haven't exactly been pushing it along, so I was very surprised by the call. Darn, now I have to tidy it all up and pretend to be civilised by Wednesday. The lady was actually very sweet and said not to worry about any mess.Right, like who wants others to see what barbarians dwell here? This afternoon I hastily contacted my lovely cleaning lady, talked to the nice man who slashes the paddock for me, and left a message fro the mowing man. That's all a good start!

Now, puppish developments: I did a call-back to the youngster whose dog I had napped, and asked why he hadn't collected his dog from the Pound. He said, well, they hadn't got around to it. I had been losing sleep imagining him missing his dog, and he didn't care? The Pound people were right after all. The lad then said it was fine for me to have the dog as, 'I only had him for a month or so...' So the dog is a hand-me-down to anyone who would take him. No wonder he was desperate to stay here. Also, no wonder he is such a handful - he has never bonded with anyone, from the look of it.

From all this, I have decided he is to be called Banjo and he will come home as planned tomorrow. I shall just be very broke after paying all his bills, but this is a fairly usual event (sigh).

Now for a cautionary tale. I bought three beautiful golden-speckled Hamburg chicks for the grandchildren for Christmas. Although advertised on the Net they were available locally, from a very lovely farmer who adored her birds. I felt a great sense of responsibility to have the three beautiful little things. This is what the adults look like:
Lachlan and Rebecca were greatly taken with the sweet-natured creatures and all started off well. Until, that is, one chicken became sick. Sadly, it turned out that she had something called Marek's Disease from which she died. Then one of the roosters went down with it. Clearly the farmer had not inoculated the chicks against infectious diseases.

I am going to see whether I can find replacement birds, but this time around I will know that I need to ask more questions: one cannot assume that breeders are efficient at disease control within their flocks. Theoretically I should have been more aware to start with, but I have kept chooks for over 20 years and had never heard of this, apparently common, disease.

As usual unfortunately it is Buyer Beware (okay, for intellectual snobs the other version of the saying: Caveat emptor!).

May your weather be kind, your families be healthy and animals happy.


Friday, 22 February 2013

And it's friday...

I forgot to write about the upshot of my non-accelerating car. I woke the following morning to find that Brain had been working during the night and had come up with a possible answer as to why the incident happened. What if Pup, in his restlessness in the car, had accidentally put his paw on the exposed gear lever and knocked the car into neutral? That would have produced exactly the effect that happened, of the the engine accelerating but not the car. Of course it never occurred to me to look for that when I pulled up - but as the car has been running perfectly since, I think that almost certainly was what happened.One thing hopefully sorted!

Next, as tot he Pup problem. I had picked him up on Monday, leaving notices at the vet surgery and outside the supermarket (on the communal noticeboard). The owners had until close of business today to claim him before his time ran out - so 5 days. Yesterday, the owners not having contacted anyone, I rang Amanda at the Pound. I raised the possibility of my adopting Pup, and to my surprise she was extremely positive about it. I said that I thought she might feel I have too many dogs (yes, too many for another, so help me!), but she said she thought I would provide a great home for Pup, and she doubted very much if we would hear from the owners. I said that well, it had to run until this afternoon, but she requested I tee up a vet appointment for Monday, to get all the necessary things done for the dog.

I rather felt the decision was made for me, so went with it. I just hope I'm up to training this rambunctious pup - I call him a pup, but he is a young adult with basically no training, a major challenge. I wouldn't take him on except for his attitude over the day I had him, but hope I don't live to regret it.

Then this morning, the phone rang, and a young man said, 'You got my dog?' To cut a conversation short, he said he had been looking for his dog and hadn't realised how long the dog had been missing. I told him to contact the Council straight away, before the time ran out. He said Ah, he'd talk to his Dad about it...

I rang Amanda yet again, and she said we would not hear back from the original owners, she could predict, because she did not think they would bother to pay the fees and collect their dog. I felt awful that they would lose their dog, while Amanda said not to lose sleep over it, as she came across this type of lackadaisical attitude all the time. She was certain the dog would be better off with me. Very nice of her, but I still feel some doubts - how would those people feel if they saw me in Allora with 'their' dog?

Well, as Amanda predicted, there was no contact from the people so they have legally lost their dog to the Council now. Come Monday he is due to be transformed to a new identity! And we will have chaos here...

Have a good night/day, won't you?

Cheers - Fliss

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Oh no - Part 2

So, to pick up on my story...

The power came back on, as it usually does, before the generator died. Now I have to organise myself to bring the electrician to meet the generator, at the same time as fixing two of my lights (how many problems does that make? No, I've stopped counting!

So far I have no luck replacing the printer. El found a really cheap offer in Harvey Norman's. I rang them about it, only to have them tell me that the toner cartridges are no longer available. That doesn't, sadly, make it a bargain. I've poked around online but am not excited about the various alternatives. Time to call in El once more (she'll groan, and I don't blame her).

Now, as to the pup, and here my heart is feeling very heavy. He was good as they come in the KatHaus, until he heard the other dogs around as I let the goats out in the morning, whereupon he howled a request to let him out. When I released him he was a cartwheel of joy, leaping on all the other dogs in turn.

'Grr', said Mischief, 'Go 'way'. 

He bounced at her again. 'ShuddUP,' said Mischief, followed by an 'Owwwwww' from Pup. He then respected her. He learned quickly, and lesson one around here is that Mischief is Queen Dog, not to be ignored.

Pup and Codi really clicked, both being high energy dogs, and they had a wonderful morning romp doing somersaults over and over each other. Zelda, usually Codi's playmate, was not impressed. The trouble is that she is much more laid back and not up to Codi's level of exuberance. You couldn't blame him for enjoying a kindred furball, but her annoyance was also understandable.

Time for breakfast, so Pup was put in the side yard again. His confusion and fear of the day before had vanished, replaced by enthusiasm for everything - and especially his ration of bones!

I notified the Pound that I had him and they rang back just before dog lunchtime. In the meantime Pup had been for two more exercise bounces. He was already pretty much accepted by the pack, given his friendliness and speed to learn manners.

Having found out that he would only be fed once a day at the Pound, I rapidly prepared the dog meal. I wondered how Pup would go with my version of a dog lunch, but I needn't have worried. Having failed to flatten me en route to having his bowl, Pup suctioned his food down in seconds, only leaving one slice of apple.

A very pleasant young lady called Amanda turned up with the Pound vehicle. She was bewildered by the row of enthusiastic dog faces and couldn't figure which dog was to be taken. She did a double take at it being Pup, as he was the one really barking at her - he had adopted this as his place, totally.

I told her what a very nice dog he was, and suddenly I desperately did not want him to leave. By law he had to as he wasn't mine and we had no idea if anyone would come looking for him, but to me it was clear he had never had a place that was really home to him. As Amanda skillfully rounded him up I stated the obvious; 'He just so terribly wants to be part of the pack...'

She said she was amazed how all the dogs got along so well. I said I was amazed how fast Pup had learned in 24 hours. I also said that if  I could afford it I would put in to adopt him. Looking at my four big, well-fed critters Amanda said she could see I'd be flat out feeding another mouth. I knew, and still know, that the set-up costs to adopt Pup if he becomes available would be high - desexing (compulsory in order to adopt), vaccinations, vet checks... but when I talked to him as he stood in the cage on the back of the ute I just wanted to take him off. He had transformed from the confused, miserable dog of the day before to a wagging, loving dog talking to me.

Amanda said they'd be posting his picture online, but I don't think anyone will claim him. She also promised they would pass him on to Animal Angels, a no-kill shelter. So why do I feel like a monster for abandoning that dog? Logic has nothing to do with it, I am just hoping for a miracle...

Oh, one humourous postscript: Cody, after Pup left, turned to Zelda. 'Bounce?' he asked.

Zelda glared at him. 'I hate you,' she said, and sulked for several hours before relenting and agreeing to play with him. Dogs can be so like humans sometimes!

And here is Pup's Council picture:
May you not meet any straying dogs!!

Cheers - Felicity

Monday, 18 February 2013

Oh no, I done it again...

First, to continue my woes that have just 'happened' to me, my printer has been refusing to cooperate with me, freezing the computer every time I talk to it nicely. I  found a very kind local gentleman - and he is a true gentleman, name of Brett, who came out and looked at the situation for me. He pronounced the printer dead, alas, so there is the statistical third thing to go wrong (did you know the Rule of Threes actually does happen?), though the good thing was that I met Brett, who refused any payment for coming out of town to check things out. Now the power has gone out - does that make four? Pause to start generator (it works, yes!). Then ring neighbours... no-one home...then ring Ergon. Aha, I don't have to justify my problem, there's a message that the whole area has no power. I don't know how much petrol is in the generator, so who knows what powerless future is in store? The generator was professionally installed and so is in a totally inaccessible place under the house, where I have to ask fit young men to scramble to check it out for me. Life.

The reason for the title, however, is that I gave in to good intentions once more yesterday. I was in Allora and saw a bewildered dog running around frantically and chasing after a similarly bewildered girl from the local school. I drove after them. The dog sort of looked like this, though with a white tummy:

'Not your dog?' I asked. She shook her head. Between us we rounded up the dog and I slipped a lead over his head. He was terrified of me, so I had a tussle to get him in the car. Once in he was very excited to meet Mischief and Virginia, so chaos reigned before I was able to drive slowly to the vet's to check the dog out. Luckily I got there before they went home, it being 5-ish. No microchip, no collar, dog scruffy and unknown to the vet - it did not look good. The vet made it clear she did not want the dog overnight (sigh) so I was left with the situation. We made up a hasty notice regarding FOUND DOG, before I employed one of the children to take the dog out to the car. The pup clearly was born to be a kid's pet, instantly loving the vet's son who leaped to take him for me.

Having posted the notice up by the supermarket, I headed home with my somewhat riotous assembly while the weather thought about sprinkling us on our way. Halfway back and the car over-revved and stopped accelerating. What else could happen, honestly? I pulled up and switched across from LPG to petrol, this being the sort of illogical hope shown by the totally unmechanical. After a minute the car decided to move for me, so I cautiously drove the rest of the way home. I haven't yet dared to interview the car this morning, though I do need to go to Allora today if possible. If not possible, I shall... survive.

So - I arrived home with the extra passenger. He was met with some disapproval by the resident canines, for the youngster has clearly not yet learned any etiquette, his greeting being to try to mount each of the other dogs in turn. I hastily put him in the side part of the yard, which is dog-fenced, if they choose to respect fencing. He did, though then voicing his disapproval in the loudest voice he could find. Then he was distracted by the goats, which would have to be the very most exciting invention produced for a happy dog.

The goats also disapproved of Pup's lack of manners, so I had to wrestle them in to their yard for the night.Cody was too distracted by Pup to be much help with the goats, so it was up to me. Mutter.

I thought I'd see if Pup would settle for the night with access to the back verandah, so I opened it up for him and fed him. Of course he has not been taught manners, only responding to Sit and No as his total repertoire of commands. Both are very useful, though a tad limited.

Leaving Pup happily curled up on the lounge I went in to sort out the pack for the evening. Before I sat down for my meal, however, I thought I'd just check. Ah, a very good 'reason' why the previous owners could have rejected Pup - I found the lounge torn apart, my peg hangers chewed into tiny pieces, the rug gnawed. Pup was promptly banished to the outer darkness where he howled, yapped, barked. I couldn't blame him as the rain had arrived and his only shelter was now under the eaves; he had made his own problems, though.

During the evening I managed to make contact with the local animal welfare group. Tough, they said, they had a long waiting list of animals for them to take in. Right. The Council of course could not be contacted after hours. This was to be an overnight job.

When it was time to take the pack out for their evening relief walk the rain was being quite determined, so I had to find somewhere secure for the pup overnight - apart from anything else, no-one within cooee would have any sleep otherwise. I hastily prepared what used to be the KatHaus when I had Kats, and pushed the severely reluctant Pup inside. If he howled before, he now screamed, despairing wails that made me feel awful,  yet he was in a comfortable place for the night so I hardened my heart and went to bed. And there was silence. Whew, went the dogs. I agreed.

Part 2 of this saga later! It's lunch time, and I don't know when my generator will stop. As they do, especially around my place.

Have a really good day, won't you?


Saturday, 16 February 2013


Do you ever have a few days you wish you'd been somewhere or someone else? 

Thursday: I was rung up by a very polite Indian. After a few attempts I understood her to be from Telstra. No, no, let me out of here!
Telstra Person: For why ave you returned your modem? You didn't like it? Did it not work? Do you want another one?
Feral Fliss: No, I'm sure it was fine. But you had already sent me one which is working very well. I didn't need another one.
TP, dubiously: So you don't need it? What is your birthday?


Friday (yesterday) morning I was contemplating what I would write, while growing goosebumps in the ridiculously cold day, when my computer crashed. After months of being without proper Internet I now had a terrific connection - and my computer utterly refused to talk to me.

I rang daughter El, who said to leave the machine to cool off for the day and try again. Nope. No computer. After figuratively banging my head through the study wall, I rang El and wailed. With a huge sigh she said I had to take it in to her in Warwick. Wouldn't she come here? No. I had to go to the mountain.

Saturday, this morning. I followed El's instructions and drew a map of the back of the computer as I detached the assorted spaghetti that the leads always create of themselves while they quietly breed at the back of the desk. It being a pretty antediluvian computer it weighs as much as an obese six-year-old child, so I creaked and groaned my way down to the car with it. I grabbed an old blanket to wrap around the computer, to protect it from falling over. That blanket is essential so often, usually wrapping bales of hay so I don't end up wearing lucerne in my hair by the time I get them home. Anyway, I additionally bolstered the unstable heap with shopping bags so I could stock up for the next week or so while El operated.

Cody hopped in the car eagerly but Mischief was rummaging around in the pumpkin patch, to my consternation. Aha! She had it - an old and soggy ball she had secreted there and which was essential for her comfort in going out. Right. Dogs fastened. Me fastened, and off. This journey was different from the last post-flood trek to Warwick, because 'they' have now closed off the back road at the Warwick meat-works. So now, one goes around the back loop to avoid the washed-out main road section and then diverts along Lyndhurst Lane to West Warwick. I wish I could have seen the floods that closed that route as they must have been totally awesome, from the flotsam festooning surviving fence posts beside the road. I feel sorry for the folk who have to re-fence, but the water must have roared across the flat there, a torrent fed by the hurtling waters of the Condamine River.

Cutting out the details of the next few hours, El tested the various cards and evicted a large spider with web, that was indignant at being disturbed (how on earth it got in, who knows). She found the graphics card was loose, so tightened it. She also found some bits of lucerne hay had transferred themselves. Oops.

With huge gratitude I reclaimed my hefty and now functioning computer and made an uneventful trek home. You don't want to know about how a whole basket-full of fruit leapt out of the car when I was unloading, distributing assorted precious items all over the driveway,do you? I thought not. My language wasn't nice as I scooped up lychees from all compass points, and mourned my bruised pawpaws. Like I said at the the beginning, it's been a bad few days...
See you soon...


Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Oh, my watermelons!

Virginia saw three melons
And thinking 'Oh how jolly'
Virginia ate the melons
What a happy doggy folly!

(with apologies to the original author)

I have tried for years to grow Moon and Stars watermelons. The vines are small, straggly and variegated, the combination making it hard to obtain fruit from them.This year has been obnoxious for growing anything - first we lived in an oven, then it rained cats and canines. However, my watermelon vines decided it was perfect for setting fruit. This in itself was a small miracle as the pollinating insects vanished during the heatwave. The second miracle was where they decided to fruit. The vine had climbed from the safety of my fenced vegetable garden over the hot fence and into the dogs' paradise.
That is what the melon ideally should end up like - mine never do. Anyway, the first baby set itself, grew to about the size of a golf ball, then suddenly deflated and died off. Cody-dog got the blame for that, being a totally curious beast.

Not deterred, the vine produced three more babies. Cody was fascinated, so I draped some bird netting over the fence to protect the melons and allow them to grow. Cody was able to watch them, which he did regularly. 'See? One. two, three. Aren't they fun? Still one, two, three...' he counted with his nose.

Then this afternoon all three now tennis-ball sized melons vanished. I was most upset and looked around for the culprit. I had an intuition it was not Cody but Virginia. Sure enough, as I picked up a piece of melon from the grass Virginia came over and politely removed it from my hand: 'Mine', and ate it. She had managed to extract all three through the bird netting and had also pruned the vine back as bonus.

Maybe the other vines further inside the garden area may produce; I don't think that one will.

I shall also have to watch out for the pumpkins, which I have had to hand fertilise. That vine is sprawling across the driveway. The dogs are under supervision when they go out there, but are most interested in the various-sized fruit developing. I now know their interest is not benign. I'll share with them if I ever manage to harvest anything - but they are not having all of it!
Portrait of Virginia by Duncan - a dog with no concept of being a sinner!

Cheers from a dispirited would-be gardener - Fliss

Monday, 11 February 2013

End knitting Part 2

I don't think I told you about my complaint episode after all the messing around with all the Mumbai lot? I built up to it, thought positive thoughts to myself (nothing ventured, nothing gained, etc) and rang the complaints number. To my amazement I connected to a man who sounded Australian. Tentatively I asked him if he were a native English speaker.

'Oh, yes,' he laughed.' I'm actually part of the Disconnection team, but we collect the overflow complaints.'

Why am I not surprised they have overflowing complaints? Anyway, I grabbed my notes and proceeded to read him my multiple problems, finishing with the fact that Telstra now wanted more money from me. Michael, the chap in Adelaide, was very patient and said yes, he had heard allegations of this kind before.And um, yes, he had noticed that his Indian colleagues tended 'not to think outside the square.' Not how I'd have put it, but I said nothing as he was a nice chap.

Michael announced that in fact if he put me on another new contract I would in be paying about $20 a month less that I am currently. That sounded so excellent to me that I volunteered happily that my problems had been resolved satisfactorily. I'll still wait to see the contract in writing, but this time I am definitely hopeful. 

One new snippet of information: so many people put their complaints on Facebook that Telstra now employs a full-time staff member to monitor and answer the Facebook postings!

And in case anyone is wondering why I don't have any foster children when I said that I was a carer: I was unwell over Christmas, which was a part of the reason I ended up turning down the last two children. Since then the Dept has had a run of far out teenagers which they would only offer as a joke. So I'm cheerfully bumbling around with my menagerie. 

Talking of which: I thank Duncan greatly for posting news of my electronic isolation, and for  attaching the picture of his wife with two of their zoo. Don't you think it was rather rash erv him to call that a pig, though?

Enough. I spent a lot of energy today writing a letter to the Courier mail about a stupid article that should never have been published without some radical editing - it was about a criminally inclined teenager in Care, and raised not only my ire but that of some others who knew more about the scene than the journalist who cobbled together her bread and butter offering. So I shall now play a mindless game and go to bed.

My huge sympathies to the folk snowed in, in the US. Here's a pic sent to me from friend Jackie, who is repeatedly shovelling a path through the snow only to have the path vanish again:
Stay cheerful everyone!


Saturday, 9 February 2013

Knitting loose ends

By now, with having had little to no Internet for over a month, I have a collection of unfinished threads. hence, I thought it a good idea to go back and tidy up some loose ends.

Well, with little to add to the frog posting, I also have little to add about the dread Jenny Macklin (the politician who said what she really thought for once and told Social Welfare recipients they were being paid plenty to live on. She did, of course, subsequently retract and apologise - after all, what entrenched politician does not value their very nice payroll?

Next came the query about whether or not this was actually the year of the ant rather than the snake. I stand by my conclusion about the invasion of ants. If my head feels itchy, I scratch - and out drops one of the tiny alien ants - presumably I have an ant nest in my  head? Read the paper? Ants walk out of it and then nip you sharply. I am becoming blase about the whole thing, no longer wincing at the mini-bodies in every cup of coffee - after all, you can eat ants, if you're keen enough. These fellows volunteer to be ingested, so if I can't fish out the little hard bodies I now just ignore them.

With the coming of the rain to the eastern side of Queensland the bushfires were conveniently doused. However, there is still a problem down south, in Victoria and Tasmania. Our problems here have been floods, which everybody who watches world news will know about. To be honest, I was puzzled as to why our area of the Darling Downs was affected, my rain gauge registering a little over 100mm for the week of rain. it was very nice for my water tanks (now full) and the grass, which grew a foot a day, but why were we cut off? The explanation was simple: the hills to the east of us had attracted nearly 800mm of rain, which poured in torrents down the hillsides and across the plain below. Highways were cut in all directions, Cunningham's Gap was yet again affected by landslides and all our local roads were flooded. To the south of us the main back road to Warwick had a sad happening. I still can't help laughing, though... After the massive floods two years ago billions of dollars were allocated to repair the damage throughout the State. This money was prioritised so that highways scored repairs before lesser roads. We waited for our turn, meanwhile using the patched-up road quite happily. In November our turn arrived, with all the inconvenience involved with waiting for men with lollipops or interminable red lights, diversions, the works.

The huge project underway meant three kilometres of road had to be taken apart and put back together again. It was very nice, smooth dirt awaiting its top coat of bitumen. The blokes went off for their Christmas and New Year holidays, but come the 2013 floods the road wasn't there for them to come back to. Much of it had washed away into the neighbouring paddocks, adding to the tribulations of the local farmers.

Road in flood; Warwick Daily News

The above picture was the highway; no-one could get to our stretch of road until later. Anyway, now it is very interesting getting to Warwick, and Main Roads have to start all over again spending a lot of money to repair the same stretch of road. A few very clever people have been suggesting that perhaps it would be a good idea to remember floods and plan for them when repairing infrastructure...

I'll finish off the loose ends, tomorrow.

Cheers - Fliss

Thursday, 7 February 2013

So - how not to get tech support!

For anyone who does not already know this thing, I am fairly hopeless on anything smacking of technical. My poor father found this out by the time I was about 8 and could not understand piston ratios however many times he explained them slowly. I did cotton on to slide rules before they vanished from the scene, but hey, who thinks of using a slide rule today?

So, enter computers. I was first connected to the Internet in the late '90s, when here wasn't really a lot of fun to be had online. You switched on your dial-up, set it to download your few emails, and went off and did something else for half an hour. Then they might be ready. At this point I had lost any concept of what made modern things work, so depended on someone else to rescue me whenever things fouled up. In 2013 there's a lot more fun around, but I am as confused about technology as ever.

That preamble is relevant, as hopefully you may now understand how I have been totally stuffed around for the past couple of months.Telstra in Oz seems to be be completely staffed by the lost and desperate of Mumbai. These helpful Indians probably all have degrees in order to score a job at a quarter of the pay that Telstra would shell out for less helpful Australians to do the same thing. However, there the advantage ceases. My typical conversation went something like this:

Telstra person: Ullo. Ow may I help you today?

Feral Fliss: I still have no Internet and this is the fourteenth call I have made to you this month...

TP:Ah, yes, I see you have contacted us before. Your full name please? Your date of birth? Your full address? Your phone number?

FF: You know all these already, don't you?

TP: Yes, but (here follows some gibberish I can't follow)

FF: Sorry I can't understand you...

TP: (Slight sigh) Ave you got your modem on?

FF: No. I have no Internet and I have already gone through your routine 17 times previously...

TP: Please would you turn your modem on?

So we would go through the charade once more of turning on the modem, the TP not being able to connect with it and telling me there was no Internet connection. Reboot the computer. Reboot the modem...This would all  take about 20 minutes and my hair was lifting as my brain boiled with frustration.

TP: I'm sorry madam, I cannot elp you at this time I will refer this matter on to a higher level technician. They will ring you back shortly...

Yeah, right, wait for the blue moon.

It was impossible to break free of the helpful Indians, no matter how high the matter was referred. I finally ended up with a level 5, who announced that I needed a new modem. Now I, once skilled in removing stones from horses' hooves, actually had an idea that exactly this was the problem, so immediately said Yes, I would accept a new modem, yes I would accept an outside antenna, yes I would definitely accept a refund on my Internet charges.

A couple of days later I was rung up (yes, by a helpful Indian), who told me that I had to go on a new contract with my new modem. It would cost me more, but that was current Telstra policy. I held my tongue, for the time being.

A week later I received my new, very classy modem.
I then rang Telstra as instructed to connect up. Aaaaaargh, NO... I got tangled up with Indians again, who didn't have the faintest idea what they were doing. For me to say that, you understand, I found them pretty darned ignorant. I pointed out that we weren't following the instructions given with the modem. Nope, they stuck to whatever script they had which seemed appropriate (it wasn't).

I landed up with a Level 3 Indian, who said the modem was faulty and they would send another one....With what passes for my technical intuition, I felt sure my cute little modem had nothing wrong with it. I consulted my son, daughter and local computer technician. The consensus was the same as mine. 

Hmm. I felt I could have a collection of modems before long.

Yesterday I braved the strange route we currently have to Warwick, courtesy of floods (more on that hereafter), taking my modem with me together with my shopping list (irrelevant to this thread but I needed groceries). I went to the Telstra Shop, which is not run by Telstra, but by Aussies who speak English and who seemed to understand my dilemma perfectly. I had to wait for 45 minutes before seeing a technician (cup of coffee very strengthening while El and I contemplated life). At last I met the young, wonderful, godlike geek, who needed little telling but took the modem and promptly plugged it in to their computer. About five minutes later he unplugged it, handed it back to me and said, 'Yep. Just plug it in, wait 30 seconds and you'll be ready to go.'

Just like that?


And it did go. No, I won't start on Telstra's crazy ideas of economy... but I'm building up to taking them on later today!!!

Oh, and PS: I received a Telstra bill for the full usual amount, together with a letter to say they wished to communicate by email in future. Yeah, they know how to send one, maybe????

And they didn't send an outside antenna...

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

I think I won!!!

I'll tell you the story in agonising detail either tonight or tomorrow...probably tomorrow, as it is now getting late and I have only just connected up successfully. But the joy to download all the missing emails (582 to sort out over the next few days - maybe. Bliss, oh bliss, and I'm really not hooked on the Internet (much, lol).

Tomorrow I will also lodge the largest complaint that Telstra Australia can possible encounter, snarl... again, more hereafter. 

Love you all, and back soon (I darned well hope)

Fliss xx