Learning at WordCamp

WordPress WordCamp

What is a WordCamp?  Well, according to WordCamp Central it is “WordCamp is a conference that focuses on everything WordPress. WordCamps are informal, community-organized events that are put together by WordPress users like you. Everyone from casual users to core developers participate, share ideas, and get to know each other”    see www.central.wordcampcentral.org

WordCamp Brisbane 2019 was on August 23rd/24th and I was there all day on the first day, though missed the “After Party”.  Having to drive back to the Gold Coast from Brisbane at night deterred me!

The conference is for people who use the open source program WordPress for their websites and/or blogs.  It’s a bit of a “nerdy” event.

Speakers

The Brisbane 2019 event was at QUT – Queensland University of Technology, near the centre of the city, beside the Botanical Gardens and the Brisbane River.  It is the biggest WordCamp in Australia.  Yahooo!!!

I have attended each one since 2016, and sometimes the complexity of some of the talks is beyond me, as I am not a website developer!  Just a blogger.  But I enjoy meeting up with friends as well as trying to absorb all of the information.

Luckily the speakers are recorded and I will soon be able to watch the speakers again!

There are a couple more WordCamps around Australia over the next few months.

 

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Builders’ Profit over Quality

What’s Happening in the Building Industry?

I did a bit of a rant in my post yesterday when I really set out to write different material.  It is not my intention to remove the post but will continue with what I set out to write about.  I was indicating that so many folk in the building industry are more interested in profits for themselves, rather than ensuring that the quality of the build is appropriate and safe.  And the way our laws are, the builders’ responsibility for the quality of the build is short-lived.  The owners who bought the unit/apartment are often left with a hefty bill, or in the case of the Opal Tower,  I do believe that developers and builders can be focussed on profit, not quality of build.    I was pleased to read this article by someone with building qualifications.  Read it here. 

My Experiences in New Buildings

Twice in recent years, I have been the first tenant in a new building.  One, a duplex had few problems, but I did make note of some silly things.  One was that the laundry was in the garage, and to get to the clothesline, I had to carry my load of washing through the house, out the back door and along a stony pathway.  Now, I know some builders make the assumption that most people use a dryer to dry their clothes, but clearly, as they had installed a clothesline, the builder was giving the householder the option.  The long walk and rocky pathway made for some challenges!!!

And There’s More

In my current building, the “laundry” is in a cupboard.  Squeezed in is a laundry tub and cupboard and large dryer, making it impossible to fit in a top loader washing machine.  I do use the top loader (as that is the only washing machine I have, and I don’t like front loaders!)  Oh, and the clothesline?  Beside the unit are four lines attached to the fence.  It is in a space that rarely gets sunlight, and worse, it is under two massive trees.  The trees drop a sticky substance that sticks on the line, making it useless for hanging clean clothing.  Oh, and birds add to the problem by doing their droppings in the trees which land on the line or the washing, if there is any there.

In the first building, the water meter “died”.  When the plumber came to “repair” it, I saw him slamming a screwdriver into the motor.  The fellow later claimed that I must have damaged it! (He didn’t know that I saw him do it!)  He put in a high quote for its repair, but when I asked for another plumber to repair it, it was done free as it was under warranty!

My List of Faults in the New Digs.

Fire Doors – I understand the need for fire doors, but they are terribly heavy and close quickly.  In the early days, it closed so quickly that I was left bruised.  Luckily the management was able to slow it down.  Because my only door is a fire door there is no security on it.  I am unable to see (even from a window) who it is knocking on my door.  And idiots do it at night as well, for they know I can’t see them.  Clearly, I don’t open the door at night and do so cautiously during the day.

Storage – how anyone can believe that there are adequate cupboards in the unit I do not know!  I won’t go on about it, but tenants I speak to complain about it.

Floor Tiles – “new” non-slip tiles cover the floors in the walkways to the apartments and also on the balcony and in the lift.  They resist most efforts to clean them.  Consequently, we have to put up with dirty floors.

Dirty Floor in Lift

Non-slip tiles are hard to clean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The List Goes On……………

I won’t go into more details, but, Dear Reader, you must get the message. There is a long list of issues. It is about the developer and builder making the highest profit in many cases.  Just like the article mention above.

Buyer Beware

Just be very careful when buying an apartment, especially in a high rise project.  Get reliable building inspectors to give you a report.  But who can you trust?

 

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Housing in Australia – its not just the Shortage

Housing in Australia – It’s not just the Shortage

We certainly have a problem in Australia with housing.  It is not just that there is a major shortage of homes, with increasing homelessness and problems with affordability.  It is the quality of buildings too.  Australian Housing Building Standards need to improve.

My father, who was a building inspector in the 1960-1990s found that many of the builders then were taking short cuts.  He was only involved in building single storied houses in those days. It was the culture of builders that concerned him.  “Near enough is good enough” was perhaps the slogan of the time.  And the corruption within the industry in those days was well known in the field.   He took up a new job in the mid-1960s. Then he found that his predecessor accepted payment from the builders. He “approved” the building, even if it wasn’t done correctly.  He was on the payroll of the builders!

Photo by Brandon Griggs @paralitik

Build Better Houses

 

Opal Towers Disaster

It was on Xmas Eve, 2018, that huge cracks appeared in the Opal Towers Building in Sydney.   Months later owners are still not able to access the building.  People paid huge amounts of money for their units in this huge complex only to learn that it is in a bad state of repair.  This report from June this year may help readers understand the situation.  Click here. 

It is a huge problem and until housing building standards improved there will be a lot more issues such as this.

Rental Property Building Standards

I’ve learned in recent years with my experience in rental properties, about the short cuts made.  To me, it is all about greed.  The profits are all people in the industry are interested in.

As a tenant on and off over most of my recent life, I learned how difficult it was to get the landlord/owner to do repairs, essential ones even.  I have had many an issue with real estate agents too.  Clearly, they had more interest in keeping the property owners happy than the tenants.

It is often easy to see short cuts in the building.  I have been in two brand new buildings and while one only had minor issues, the last one has a raft of problems.  It is clear to me that the latter one was build only for the profit of the builders, and I have no doubt that the people who bought units in the property, will soon regret their decisions.

It’s Not Just Opal Towers

As time goes on, more buildings are being “outed” as poorly built.  Check out this story here.

Buyers beware is the message right now in Australia.

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Talk on Co-housing

Too Sick to Plan

I was invited to talk about Co-housing for women at the Relaxation Centre  on Augut 3rd, but in the previous weeks I was very sick with a “cold”.  Too miserable to  prepare my talk.  I was even concerned that I would not be able to do it.  While I was probably almost recovered, a cough lingered, especially when I talked!

In the last few days it all came together, and on the last morning I set up my computer and data projector and happily ran the presentation successfully.  Sadly, for reasons I don’t know, it didn’t work at the Relaxation Centre!

Talk on Co-housing for Women

Well, at least not by me.  I was not sure that I’d make it there!  But in the end, it didn’t matter as the room was filled with folk who had read the publicity by the Relaxation Centre.  I was so thrilled to see so many people interested in my topic.  It was the first time I had done this presentation.   There were some 30 ladies and one guy!  (I learned later that he was a tiny house supporter!)

I was able to tell a little about the Older Women’s Co-Housing in London, the New Ground project that I visited early in 2018.

Relaxation Centre of Queensland - Front

The Relaxation Centre (from their website)

More Developments

Our group is enthusiastically pushing forward in an effort to create a project for senior solo women in Queensland.  It’s going to be a big challenge.  We have a meeting coming up with our group, to advance!  We have had to change our name, as we became incorporated.

The work ahead is huge – and I can only hope that we can successfuly create a model for quality, safe, forever homes for a small group of wonderful Australian women.

 

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Warwick – Jumpers and Jazz 2019

To Warwick Again

Jumpers and Jazz is an annual festival in country Warwick.  I love visiting the town at this time of year.

I’ve lost count of the times I have passed through the southern Queensland town of Warwick.  It was always where we stopped after leaving Brisbane years ago, on our family trips to Melbourne or Adelaide.  (My folks were in Adelaide, and my husband’s folks were in Melbourne.)

We always stopped just short of the town, had a slice of, home-made by me, pastie pie.  In the early days, there was no air conditioning in the car, and it was usually summer, it was a long hot journey.  We put the two little ones in the back of the station wagon, with pillow and blankets and a little medical assistance to sleep, before heading south.  We did not always stop anywhere, but with two drivers, just kept going.

Jazz and Jumpers – Visit Two

J and J

A seat in the town

A few years ago, I visited Warwick for their famous festival on my own.  I remember staying at Aratula – some distance from Warwick, where a massive storm hit overnight.  This time I found accommodation in Warwick, and originally booked for myself just for one night.  It was my birthday, and I thought with the rest of the family busy working, I’d probably be on my own, so thought I’d enjoy the festival.

And Then There Were Two

A couple of weeks ago, daughter Janet decided to come with me.  So I booked another room at the motel.  I drove my little red car.  Janet’s car was in its death throes, so with the car packed, I collected her from her home at Hemmant and off we went.

Whenever we mention going to Warwick at this time of the year, the inevitable comment about the cold eventuated.  We prepared.  We had our heavy jackets, though we knew that the weather forecast was not for very cold weather. The skies were blue, there was no wind, and we will happily tell anyone who asks, that we didn’t need to rug up.

We had brunch when we arrived and wandered the main street looking at the various exhibits.

A Warwick tree decoration.

In Warwick

Tree Decor

Unusual Tree Decor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We visited the Warwick Art Gallery.  They always have an awesome display and we were not disappointed.

In the Gallery

Jumpers and Jazz

At the Gallery

Recycled Plastics

Afternoon Adventures

We booked into the motel early in the afternoon, as Janet had some work commitments, and we both had a short snooze before setting out again to explore.

Then another wander around late in the afternoon.  We thought we had missed “The Art Hub” as it closed at 4 pm, but sometime after we drove past and saw that there were people there, so we did a u-turn and walked in.  As it turns out it was the members of the Warwick Art Guild, enjoying wine and nibbles, and we were invited to join them.    We of course did!!

Janet told them it was my birthday, and within minutes they presented me with a signed card, with greetings!!  We did have a lot of laughs with the lovely members.  And we did enjoy looking at the artworks.  Certainly some very clever folk here in Warwick!

In the Pop Up Gallery

Warwick Art Guild Works

We had dinner at Clippers Bar and Grill – an enjoyable evening.  Later we went back to the motel for a glass or two of wine, and an early night.

Last Day in Warwick

We had breakfast at the Bluebird Bar and Grill and then wandered parts of town that we had missed before.  A little shopping and we were on our way back to Brisbane.

 

 

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The Neglect of Australia’s Seniors

Who Cares?

I am really concerned about the neglect of Australia’s Seniors.  I am disappointed with the way Australians treat their senior citizens.  “Old people” seem to be isolated, ignored, neglected and not respected.  It appears to be across the board. Terrible neglect.  It is especially significant to see the way those who are not wealthy are continually being treated.  I am making it my mission to change it.

The Royal Commission into Nursing Homes in Australia and the recent events are a big indication of the appalling treatment of our seniors.  The terrible neglect of Australian Seniors is not isolated.  It’s endemic!  I am a senior and concerned about the way I may be treated in the future.

Briefly, my circumstances are that in 2010, I left my marriage, with very little.  Certainly, no funds to buy a house, and as I was in my mid 60’s, employment opportunities were minimal.  For over two years I survived on the Aged Pension and house sitting.  Over the years I have sought  assistance for housing and other resources from government and non-government agencies.  Without any success.  I am now, and have been for periods in the private rental market.  To pay more than 65% of my pension on rent is not sustainable.  I have not found any accommodation that is really suitable for a senior and it has not been affordable!

My Interest in Seniors Housing.

My interest in housing for seniors/disadvantaged women goes back over 20 years.  I helped a friend get into public housing(Queensland Housing). I recall then being terribly disappointed in the one-bedroom unit that she moved into.  On the one hand, she and I were pleased that after an horrific period, she was able to get a roof over her head. But we were disappointed that any Australian government agency would consider it suitable for a disabled lady.  I can say here that nothing has been done to improve the accommodation for her.  Additionally, the treatment the residents have been subject to, is appalling. The lack of any improvements to the property and the standard of it right now, is really a terrible situation.  Seniors are the forgotten cohort, and it must change.  The neglect is terrible.

Image by Cristian Newman - Unsplash.com

Old Lady

Does anyone care (really care!) about our vulnerable senior citizens?

I’m going to focus on some aspects of public housing in Queensland, and about the property, I referred to above.

When my friend moved in around 20 years ago, it was pretty basic.  Dark, dingy, no community support (no caretaker, no effort to create a community in a place that could have been such).  There was and is no security. There are unwanted visits from local drunks and low life people, little or no maintenance, and a whole raft of issues that continue to degrade the lives of these people.

  • No cover for cars – resulting in increasing ageing of vehicles for the few who can drive
  • No security – cars and property vandalism. Residents and their homes at risk.
  • Walkways not smooth and safe for elderly people with disabilities to safely walk
  • Personal gardens damaged by contract lawn-mower and garden maintenance contractors
  • No internal maintenance in 20 years
  • Units dark and dingy internally
  • Lighting and ceiling fans not maintained.

I am aware over the 20 plus years I have been connected to my friend who remains there.  She has no choice but to live in these conditions.

Several people who have been found deceased or unconscious in their units, one was dead for up to 6 months.  No one had noticed.

Does this give you the impression, as it does me, that these elderly people, mostly women were dumped there waiting for them to die?

Conclusion

I know that in times since these units were built there have been more modern accommodation blocks created.  I have not as yet had the opportunity to visit any of them.  Maybe it is unfair to criticise this older property.  I think not.  There is no way that I would consider that the above property was suitable for seniors!!!  We can do better!!!

 

 

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What Happened 50 Years Ago?

The Moon Landing

There’s been much publicity on television recently about the Moon Landing on July 21st, 1969.  Do you remember what you were doing on that day?   I remember it well, for we had just moved to Melbourne from Warrnambool, and while watching the television I was unpacking boxes.  Our daughter, who was around 15 months old at the time was wandering around in the mess Bit by bit I emptied the boxes.  We’d moved to Seaford a day or two before.  I can’t recall.  I was heavily pregnant too as baby number two was due early in September.

half moon photo

Photo by Tiago Fioreze @tfioreze Unsplash.com

Black and White Television

We had a television, and in those days there was no colour on the screens.  It was just black and white.  Colour television didn’t come to Australia until 1975.  We had rented a three bedroom house at the seaside suburb, not far from Frankston.  I wonder what it would have been like to see the moon landing in colour?

We did not have a home phone and of course not a mobile phone.  The latter came into being in 1987, though it would be a few years before most people had one of those.  The house was not far from the Seaford Railway Station, which meant I could catch the train to the city of Melbourne, though it would be quite a few weeks before I did that.

Shopping

There was a bus stop nearby which took me to Frankston to do shopping, and I’d head off to buy the groceries and carry it all back on the pram.  It was far more challenging when I had two children to wrangle along with the groceries.  My husband Ian was a sales representative for Lever and Kitchen, and in those days was seldom home.  I had managed to get my drivers licence while we lived in Warrnambool, but I did not have a car to drive, initially.

1969 – What a Busy Year

With the move to Melbourne/Seaford and the arrival of our son in September, it was a busy year.  I have only vague memories of it all though.  We had a cat – Pfer, (P for Pussy), who we loved but she died rather suddenly with some cat virus.  I was certainly a stay at home mother, for apart from using the train and bus, I didn’t have the transport to go out.

In our back yard, there was a garden and I was soon growing vegetables there, though the soil was mainly sand.  We had a few friends and family members that we saw from time to time, but life was just busy with our two little ones.

I Have a Car

Eventually, we saved enough money to purchase a second-hand car – it was a Vauxhall sedan,  I recall.  The day I had to pick it up, Ian and the children and I drove to the other side of Melbourne.  I drove it home.  Ian had the children in his (company) car.  For me, it was a very scary ride as I did not know my way around.  I had lived in Melbourne some years earlier.  I had not driven there. The first time I drove there, was the day I drove my car home.  Not only did I not know the way, but I was having to get used to a new car.  Luckily I made it safely home.

So the things I remember of that time – was the moon landing and the arrival of our first (and only son) at Frankston Hospital.  I was to work as a nurse a short time later.

Do you remember the Moon Landing? Can you remember where you were?

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The Love of Ceremony

Marching and Ceremony

I have always had a Love of Ceremony!!  In my youth, there was always much more than we see now.   When I think back, I don’t recall going to many events.  Both my parents were in the Australian Armed Forces, but I don’t recall going to Anzac Day marches.  My father, in particular, didn’t say much about his Army days.  He didn’t get to serve overseas, which he had wanted to do.  He was a bit angry about his days there, but the best thing for him was he met our mother.

Girl Guides – Thinking Day

My main recollection of military ceremony and marching was the annual event of Thinking Day.  

On February 22nd every year we had a ceremony at Adelaide’s Government House, where Queens Guides and Queens Scouts received their Awards.  I was one of them.  We would meet in the military parade ground behind Government House, and would march into the grounds to the military bands.  I loved marching to the music.

Marching Girls

Some years later the Marching Girls came into fashion.  I don’t know that any clubs exist any more, but it was regarded as a sport, with competitions.  I loved watching them, but I was otherwise committed and didn’t feel I had the time to be involved.

Anzac Day Parades

I do enjoy attending Anzac Day Parades, and hope to attend another one in 2020!!  I have attended local smaller events in recent years but feel the urge to attend a bigger one. There are more bands and more music!

Chinese Military Events

While in China I didn’t attend any events, but saw several on television, and since have used YouTube to watch them.  I have seen the meticulous way they prepare for marching, measuring every inch of the soldiers and their precision is awesome.  I love the ceremony of the events in countries like China, Russia and the UK.

Military Music CD’s

I do have a small collection of CD’s of military music and from time to time I have marched back and forth along my hallway to the music.  It’s good excerise and I do love the music.  The best place to listen/watch military events is on YouTube and I have put some of my favourites below.

YouTube Videos

One of the most recent that I love is the Russian Victory Parade 2019 – it’s a long video, but is awesome and the last few minutes is really interesting.  I especially enjoy watching the way they march and love seeing women marching too!  Ah the ceremony!

Marches in Tianenman Square are particularly popular with me.  Not only do I recognise the importance of that place and remember it for the Massacre in 1989, but I was there in 2008!

The video below is a long one, but well worth watching.

Of course I must have an Aussie event!  See below.  This was filmed in 2017.

Edinburgh Military Tattoo

This is an event I like to watch every year on television.

The British Trooping of the Colour 2018

If you go to the UK, you will have the opportunity of seeing plenty of ceremony, and military music.  Enjoy the video below.  If you live in Britain, you must have a love of ceremony.

 

soldier near white building during daytime

Photo by Mark Leishman – Unsplash.com

I hope you can find time to watch and listen to some of these.

Do you enjoy marching?  Or listening to military music?

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Poor Building Standards for Rentals

Poor Building Standards

For a number of years, I have lamented on the poor building standards, especially for properties that are destined for the rental market.  I’ve often used the saying “near enough is good enough”.  Too many builders are more concerned about their profit than they are about the condition of the building they create.   The situation is highlighted by the poor standards of the Opal Towers in Sydney.

And there are many now being reported.  It is somewhat of a crisis in the building industry.  There are warnings to potential buyers not to buy units above 5 or 6 stories.  Buyer beware.

Corruption in Building

My late father was a builder – in fact, was a building supervisor, originally working for my uncle and he was a meticulous checker of every part of the build.  I remember when my uncle closed his business and retired my father started to work with a state housing entity in a southern state.  He learned very quickly that the man who held the position before him was “on the take”.   He would not check the quality of the work well, as he was on the payroll of the builders.  When my father took over and would not pass the buildings for payment to the builder until the work was perfect, there was a lot of trouble.  My father was certainly threatened.

brown and black wall brick

Brick Wall by Yegor Chuperka at Unsplash.com

Building Standards are Lower

There has been discussion in the media about the standards of building being diminished, in part by the way buildings are supervised and checked by the builders and those people charged with checking/approving the quality.

My Experience in New Rental Properties

I moved into a brand new, never before lived in property a few years ago, and had quite a few problems.  The air conditioner did not work, and the property manager took 6 months to do anything about it.  They believed that it could not be faulty and it took ages to convince them.  As it turned out, apparently during the build someone stole the motor and the builder replaced it with a motor that was never connected properly.

There were a number of minor issues too – but when it came to fixing things, I experienced other issues, which I believe was a gender issue.  Being female, I was told that things were not broken – but was later proven that I was right.

My current home, a 4 storey building has many issues, and it is not yet 12 months old. Water problems including water leaking through the life ceiling, issues with security, windows and more.  I am not happy with some of the issues.  Getting things fixed is always an issue too.

Sadly it is a serious problem in Australia right now, with high rise buildings crumbling.

What do you think about this issue?

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Writing Retreat

Our Own Writing Retreat

Two friends and me – then there were three.  We had the opportunity to stay in a cottage at a property in the hills behind Eumundi.  The three of us meet weekly to help with our writing – so we decided to have a Writing Retreat.  The idea of writing all weekend with friends had great appeal.  Wonderful.  We decided to have three nights away and write.  Well, that was the plan!!!

The Plan

A list of items to take was created, and we were all set to go on the Friday.  I had a need to write some items for Weekend Notes so I decided to leave early and call in at a couple of places including The Skin Thing, Opals Down Under, and The Cheese Factory at Kenilworth.  I also had some books to drop into someone along the way. The latter didn’t happen as there were road works in front of the property.  Darn.

The Skin Thing at Glenview

 

 

I arrived out the front of the property and had just parked to wait for my friends, and seconds later they arrived.  How amazing.  We then drove into the property, along a dirt road with a large billabong, and soon came to the cottage where we were to stay.  As it turns out, our hosts were not there but we had access to the cottage and we parked our cars and unloaded our things.

Our New Friend

No Internet!

It didn’t take us long to get our computers and start to write.  However, much to our horror, we found we did not have either phone or internet access.  We could if we went up the hill and stood on a ladder, but of course that wouldn’t happen.

The manuscript which I had planned to work on, was in One Drive, so I was unable to access it.  So I started some short stories for another project I am working on.  But when I wanted to go to Dr Google for no information, I found that wasn’t possible.  Darn.  How can we live without the Internet??!!

A Dog, Ducks and Wallabies!!

The house dog made himself at home with us, even to the point that after he ran away one morning and was found by someone along the streets somewhere, he was brought back to us to look after (at the direction of the dog’s owner!)   And we saw the duck that goes up to the house every morning for his breakfast.

Did we get much writing done?

Well, not as much as we planned.  But we had a great weekend, and yes, we did a lot of writing, but not as much as we intended.  Still, it was happy writing.

 

Would you organise a weekend away to write?

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