New Machine of 2020

The year 2020 has been an interesting year with a pandemic that sends people home from an overseas holiday and makes you sit in the naughty corner, although it has been an interesting experience. It also means that I have been able to plan ahead and purchase a new bike. I no longer have the Green Machine as my dad now has that one, but I bought a whole new Spyder that I call ‘The Red Devil’. I got the Can Am Spyder 2020 RT Limited in October and have now owned it for just over a month.

I have been looking at doing road trips with my dad and we both want to do the Great Ocean Road, that is in Victoria / South Australia. Due to 2020 being a mean year to everyone that sort of trip will be for another year. There is also Winton and Longreach for the Qantas museum, Stockman Hall of Fame and dinosaurs, but summer you really do not want to fry your brains. November might not be full summer just yet, but this is Australia.

I am taking a roadtrip into Queensland as I am living on the border and life is getting back to normal, so want to get away before Christmas as I work in retail and need the rest to recharge. The journey is along the coast, so might not get too hot. The bike however comes with a comfy seat (try Monty Python, ‘Not the comfy seat!’), heated seats and handlebars, FM radio that I can tune 10 stations in, cruise control and a few others. Should be a productive holiday to learn more about the new machine and how it handles on longer trips away.

Journeying the Pandemic

The first half of this year has been really bizarre to be honest. There has been drought, then bushfires with heavy smoke everywhere, then a huge torrential downpour that literally filled a few near empty dams and put the last remaining bushfires out. A new virus started spreading around the world with countries slowly going into lockdown. The news of virusgeddon, resulted in a toilet paper shortage that began before I left on my trip to New Zealand in March. It did seem to spread slowly and them bam!, it was everywhere. I took a holiday before everything shut down that could only be measures one way. Tom Hanks should be a measurement of time. How do I figure that Hanks is a unit of time? That is basically how long I spent on holiday. He went into Quarantine not long before I left on a trip to New Zealand, and I was starting my return journey to leave New Zealand when he was released. I was actually in Wellington Airport that day waiting to fly to Auckland.

The virus was spreading and I was happy to still head to New Zealand as there were not many cases there, but it was spreading in Australia. I hadn’t expected the whole speed of the spread. I was actually going to be in the safest place and some friends were sending me messages that it might be best I return home. I thought they were doing a little extreme fear mongering, although I tend to be a news junkie as I follow what is happening. Australia was looking at closing their borders when I was stuck on the South Island around Nelson. I still got my day tour on the Abel Tasman, which I quite enjoyed. Things really went down hill from there as I was heading to Wellington, on a bus that had no wifi and bad phone reception, much like the trip between Greymouth and Nelson. My flight with Virgin had been changed with me flying to Sydney, and then the Gold Coast. I was flying to the Gold Coast from Auckland, and the flight had been moved 3 days without even asking me. On the Picton to Wellington ferry, I had booked a new flight out of Auckland for that Sunday with Virgin, but couldn’t cancel the flight they had changed. Booked a hotel at Auckland airport and a flight from Wellington to Auckland. All done just before the ferry left for the Cook strait. I used my phone, which I didn’t want to do, but I did as I prefer a computer.

I was determined to stay in Wellington for the time I had booked as I had already paid in full well before going to New Zealand. I even did my stink at the archives and visiting Weta studios a day before the level two lockdown came into place in New Zealand. Borders to New Zealand and Australia had closed except for residents. I had wanted to give a big F You to the scaremongers, but I could see what was going to happen with the lockdowns as I could not get anywhere and didn’t have funds to stay longer than June. The flight on the Sunday I had booked had been cancelled when I wandered down at 530am as I was staying right across from international departures. I has a Virgin lady shocked I had not been informed. That happened twice and all I received was an email about a credit return. I saw my flight cancelled and swore, then I got my phone out while standing inline at Air New Zealand as the flight board said I had a flight leaving that morning a touch before the original. I had a seat booked before the line moved, and luckily, I have funds that I could use. Two days later New Zealand went into full lockdown with no movements.


I returned home for two weeks isolation, a week before the hotel quarantine. I had a week of holiday left and used a week of sick leave through work. I never ran out of things to do. I had a whole section of the house, but couldn’t touch the kitchen. I had a water supply, toilet and shower. Food served on paper plates and my own knife and fork. I even got to watch my flight from Auckland to Sydney land on a flight tracker. The Gold Coast link had been cancelled. I did have a slight cold and did get tested where they scratched the itch on my brain and checked my gag reflex, no porn star I would be that day. That was a whole runaround as it was before the text message to say you were clear. The day I could have been free I was very angry that I had no results. Mum rang the doctor as she had an appointment as she needed clearance as well since she had been locked down. All clear, just a cold and I learnt that two weeks of no exercise was no fun when walking the dog for the first time. Though we think the cold came from a neighbor as the dog went wandering over and they didn’t understand even though they were told I was locked down in quarantine. They even sent a nasty text showing they had no understanding and demanded to know if we were sick as we were ‘obligated’ to tell them. That’s what a virus does to people, especially when they are heavy drinkers.


The whole lockdown in Oz didn’t really bother me as I was able to head back to work on Easter week. I really wanted to return on April 1st as that was my original date. I did state jokingly that all that was missing was a mushroom cloud. I did see how people reacted to the social distancing, although people didn’t care really even when I was wearing a fluro vest. I do laugh at the online posts and even statistics to say people are social distancing, but I know the truth and that is they don’t. The life of a supermarket worker didn’t change and I was happy that I had never explored working elsewhere. Toilet paper scaremongering wasn’t the only thing we were caught short on and that was plenty of other products too, like frozen vege. Its now July and we are still facing shortages on some things. I knew from the GFC that my job was safe. I do watch the share market too and bought some of the cheaper shares, mainly in the entertainment area like the Gold Coast theme parks. The border during my time in lockdown for NSW and Qld were shut and passes required. You are actually allowed to walk across and I started visiting my dad in Coolangatta instead of getting a pass. Coffee and chips. I park in NSW and have been going for nice walks anywhere between 7kms and 2kms along the beach. As a border resident it does get frustrating that you cannot really cross freely and the splitting of Tweed, and Coolangatta with physical barriers is a huge annoyance.


In a way I am liking this year and by the Tom Hanks measurement, it has been longer than I thought it would be. I was amused that the movies now showing at the local cinema, are now on DVD. The new normal still hasn’t replaced the old normal. I always knew it wouldn’t change, people just become more jumpy. When I cough I tend to say asthma, but its been interesting that one guy literally ran away from me in the local shopping centre.

New travel directions



I don’t wrote on this blog that often, but between now and the last one I have graduated in my Bachelor Degree in historical Inquiry and Practice last December. In that time I have planned one hell of a mega trip overseas mainly as a reward to myself for finishing my degree and the fact that I need a holiday. The only holiday I took was to head to Armidale to graduate from University. I don’t plan on changing jobs any time soon unless something interesting turns up or I have an offer that I might consider.


Distortion, Copenhagen crowds

Around May last year in 2018, I began planning for a trip away using my long service leave through work and have saved the money for a trip away that I think will be epic. I have used several platforms on social media including Instagram to search for museums that I want to visit along the way. There a few museums that I do want to visit along the trip and that is what I am going to focus on. The travel plan is to fly into Germany and travel to Sweden, where I will fly to Belgium and have a smurfing good time in Brussels before heading across the World War One battle sites to Paris where I will make my way into England and see what has happened since Brexit took place.


A little far away

There will be one unique experience as I had booked my time in Copenhagen during a five day festival called Distortion. I did not know about that at the time of booking, but I am not worried as I have bought a ticket to the event. Lets see if I can handle the crowds, but I will be experiencing music that I do not usually listen to. Dance, house and techno music are the themes and I have no idea what I am getting myself into. Just how I like it sometimes. Last time I have visited Copenhagen, I had done no research, had someone say they would meet me at the airport. They never did and I had to find my way to the city. It wasn’t that bad really apart from the annoyance.

It took some time to tweak the journey to how I would like it especially when I was originally going to stay in Amsterdam and travel by ferry to Newcastle upon Tyne. That shall be another journey especially when travel around Amsterdam seems difficult when trains are not involved to out of the way areas. I did have the thought of going to Japan on the way home too, but that meant I would be pushing my luck. I am going to spend a few days on the way home in Singapore, but on my way over, I will be at the Changi Airport for a few hours so I will use the time exploring a world class airport. I am thinking of starting my own FB page just for my travel apart from my usual travel blogs.



Finished university and soon to graduate

I started studying at the end of 2009 when I got the inspiration from watching the very new tv program Who Do You Think You Are? On SBS. I was reading the forums and they suggested study at Armidale’s University of New England. I applied for the Advanced Diploma in Local, Family and Applied History or ADLFAH as it is affectionately known. I was someone who had no ambitions for university once I had left school and couldn’t even write at a university level especially when I basically finished school around 2000. At the time I thought I could do this and use the degree for a better job, maybe. I wanted to learn more about family history.


During that time, I had changed direction by transferring to Bachelor of Historical Inquiry and Practice in 2012. I thought at the time a bachelor’s degree would be worth way more than a diploma. I have been working at the same time as trying to do my degree and it has worked out really well. I could balance both especially when I worked part time for Coles. I learnt to balance especially when doing two subjects at the same time was very tough, but in the end it all worked out.


2018 I was happy to see as I would be doing my last two subjects and they were huge subjects. One was a personal research project where I decided to look at the New Zealand Wars from the Militia and Volunteers who served. I had been going full on with the research and reading material since the end of the year in 2017. That was the main part of my trip to New Zealand to gather records I wanted to use. I was relieved once I had finished that subject with a lecturer as my supervisor. The end of October meant I would either pass or fail my last subject and I was happy for my last essay to get 55%. That meant I had passed everything and would be graduating in December.


It was not a bed of roses the whole time as I had life get in the way and I studied at home without having to step foot in Armidale, although twice I have ventured into the town to meet other students and have made some really good friends through the establishment. There were times that I did struggle, but with a little bit of help from friends I was able to get through those struggle times and have ventured into unchartered territory where I have now passed all subjects. I have learnt you cannot copy old assignments and use them in other subjects or else you will be caught. At least I know the system works. I have seen changes since the time I joined as we went from a study system called Blackboard to Moodle, From semesters to Trimesters that meant shorter time spans of study, essays being mailed back to now being posted online with marks and comments.


I have now been with Coles for over 10 years so that means I will basically stay where I am especially when it is a stable job and there seems to always be job cuts in the history arena like libraries and archives. I have read more about modern history than I have about family history, but it has helped with my family tree writing especially the blogs and articles I have published in family tree magazines. I have found some places that have gotten my interest through study like cemetery wanderings My focus has always been on modernish history from the 1800s onwards as ancient history hasn’t really interested me. I will learn more about some parts like the Tudors and Plantagenets as I know little about them. As a reward for my hard work, I am going overseas on holiday next year to visit some good European museums. Would I study again through university? Sure, but not for a while as I have been going since 2009 and feel that I have become worn out by the extended time of long term study. Not being in a university setting means I have a bit of freedom and not have to be anywhere by the start of a trimester for study and can travel overseas.


My last subject was about World War One and memory, which I actually used as a tour guide to look at locations for the next big trip away. It has worked and I completed the subject. In the last year I have also known procrastination as I have read a few novels instead of the actual research. I have actually read the current series of Jack Reacher novels and started on the Mortal Engines novels. Can I say there are at least 20 books by Lee Child, but I do have books that I plan to read in my bookcase that I have not been able to get to. Now I can.


I will post my other blogs below


Literature review on Militia and Volunteers in New Zealand


Technological change during World War One


Revisiting the trials of Don Burke

Over the last several days I had been wondering about the case of one man earlier this year that came out while he was being torn down by allegations. That man was Don Burke who hasn’t really been heard from ever since his interview on A Current Affair or ACA as everyone in Australia knows. Don one of Australia’s gardening gurus or was depending on how you see him, came out as saying he has Aspergers.

My thoughts were as reflecting on the past was would that have meant anything if he had not gotten himself into trouble? Should we revisit the situation and say sure he has Aspergers and is on the spectrum. I will give him the benefit of the doubt and point him to getting diagnosed as he was self-diagnosed.

If everyone is shooting down the self diagnosis, then should we not treat the rest of the self diagnosed in the same way or even those who have a criminal record as they have done some sort of crime, but couldn’t possibly have Autism or Aspergers because of their conviction? I am just putting thoughts down while thinking we are not in a perfect world. I do wonder if he has gone and gotten himself a diagnosis, but is really keeping that to himself.

The Art of Doing Nothing

At the moment I am recharging after finishing the second last Trimester of university. I have around two weeks before study begins again and I have decided to use this time to do nothing about study. What I have been doing in my nothing stage is watching TV shows that I have taped over the last couple of months. There is the shows Mighty Trains, Agents of Shield, Who Do You Think You are?, Great British railways all for my viewing pleasure and slowly being whittled down. Something to think about is that I have not had a beer in the last couple of months. I think it was around last December since I had one. I simply cannot remember that one.


I should include a ‘boring’ book ‘A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising’. Not a history book and reading as I am nearly at the end of the Jack Reacher series and waiting for the new Laurell K Hamilton book. On the list are the three series of ASIO history books and Vietnam War with the Australian involvement. Most will be read after uni studies finish such is the growing list of to reads. I have been playing Warhammer 40,000 Dawn of War II and finished one chapter and onto the Chaos Rising part. The recharge continues.


Amongst all this I have done some light research into the dinosaur museums in Europe and UK where I have an ever growing list. Still wondering if the one in Dorchester, UK is actually a kids learning museum and not for adults. I should look at places I want to stay soon as I need a list. Really don’t want to stay with the YHA again after the worlds worst snorer last time who was after ‘Beaches (bitches) and hoes’ it was the accent being South American. Him not me. Only advantage of being a party dude, he usually came home at 5am. There is some family tree research amongst the researching too and havnt done much to it.


I did have a centrelink thing to sort out that resulted in a small bill to pay with the DSP, but its not huge deal. Could have been a whole lot worse and it will be paid in time. I do like the idea if you don’t pay them it attracts interest, which could be the scary part.


Today it is official that I have passed my uni unit which was all the months of prep and research that has made me happy. June 2018 will take me as something too. I decided it was time after getting an email whether to resign or rejoin the marine rescue. Due to work commitments and study commitments I decided it was time to resign after 15 years. I no longer had the commitment as I could no longer put the time into being boat crew.

Study and getting closer to the degree

After what seems like six months of research and study for my independent research assignment, I am now one step closer to getting my bachelor degree in history through UNE. The full title is Bachelor in Historical Inquiry and Practice. It was actually really interesting working with a lecturer one on one, although there were ups and downs throughout the whole trimester. In the end I passed the assignment with 70%.

I can however say that it is great to get some weight off my shoulders and relax instead of going through records and books trying to find what I might need. A 5,000 word assignment is not an easy feat to accomplish at all. I did have some real clangers. I called a repository a suppository and that might be a bit difficult when you have a written assignment.

The interesting part was getting the lecturer to mark your assignment as you went with different drafts. He would ask for changes or change words that would make it sound better. The link to read the assignment is below as I blogged it. I did start off as doing an essay that ended up as a literature review on the advice of the lecturer. So good that I did so.

I had to sign a contract basically telling me what was expected from both of us and included the magical word ‘Preamble’. This included writing a progress report on what is expected. Included several phone calls from the lecturer. All simple really and I even got a week extension and I got the assignment in on time luckily.

I will always advocate studying part time and at home in your own environment. Don’t listen to people when they tell you that it would be easier on campus. You really do not need to even if they are apparently the top experts. You do what is comfortable and being at home is usually better especially if you work. Working from home means you never actually have to meet the other students in person, which can be a bonus. Don’t take too much on either. Working part time and studying part time is tough.

After being off the marine rescue boat for the last six months has given me the realisation that I can no longer act as a volunteer. Mainly for the reason I no longer have the time and am running myself ragged. After 15 years I think it is time. At the moment I am just working and saving money for a trip overseas, although other things tend to appear.



Literature review

Fun Uncle

With more contact with my nephews, I am doing my best to try and be the one who is fun to them. Sure I may spoil them a little bit like give them something like a Ninja Turtle suit even though I was expressly told not to do it. When told to do that I will actually follow the opposite route and just do it. Though I did try to be funny when my eldest nephew, Master 3 cried over getting a splinter out of his finger and no one still had it out. I grabbed an axe and asked if he wanted me to get it out. He really didn’t at that point. I am just happy that he is liking the Ninja Turtles as in the early TV series from the 1990s.

If it means contact with two nephews, I will be happy to be in their lives even if there were unfortunate events that had occurred in the past. I don’t always get contact as I am always working on weekends. Master several months old seems to be happy to watch the world around him and drool on the carpet. I wonder if he likes Paw Patrol or Ninja Turtles? Maybe he will love Land Before Time like I did as a kid. Turn him dinosaur mad and watch the horror from his parents.


Its getting close to my current unit at uni to end and I have changed to a literature review instead so will see how that goes. The end is coming. The only advice I would give to study is. Do it by correspondence as then you do not need to meet others in a university or be inconvenienced by not having a job to pay for your studies or living expenses. The ‘experts’ tell you that you need interaction, but do you really? I get it through my job. That’s enough. Its all easier to do things at your own pace and Part time.


A while back I was part of some research survey for a university about autism in Sydney and I decided to recently ignore the emails as I had lost interest in doing so. I am not worried if they lose someone from a survey group as they would always have someone else. Last I heard was they had not any contact in 24 months. Tis life and then you move on.

A nooth in a nook

This time of year is beginning to become really busy with work and other things that is called life. Life is a bunch of tokens you place into a machine like Pac-Man where you eat pills in a darkened room or is it that life is Twisted.


In the last month my bike has been for its first service in Brisbane and the funny thing was there seemed to be retired people buying Spyders. They know what they want. Then I had to have a tooth removed as it was dying as a cyst had formed. Lets say with the bike and the dentistry it was starting to become an expensive month. That was all in the same week and the first time ever that I had a tooth removed. No pain at all and was one of my baby teeth. It is a little awkward to eat some things, but I have eaten fingerbuns again. After the operation, which I had general antiesthetic, I had KFC for dinner. That was chips, popcorn chicken and potato and gravy. P&G was what I had after a major op in my teens. I recommend it as its better than jelly and custard. I now have a denture or does that mean I am in-dentured?


The biggest thing to occur is my research for university and that means a step closer to finishing my bachelor degree by the end of the year. I am free styling with my own research project involving New Zealand. That is the Militia, who were civilian soldiers and I need 5,000 words. I went overboard last November in collecting records from the National Archives in New Zealand. I had to secure a lecturer as well, which means phone chats. So far it has been one and the request for a literature review on the sources I am using. So far I am having a nice time chasing down other sources.


What are my plans for after my degree? No idea and I don’t have to pay of my HECS debt, which doesn’t have interest and I am happy for that. I do plan a trip overseas, but first a walk through the Milford Track as a celebration for finishing my degree. Then next year a trip around Europe visiting some museums and that includes the UK too for some family history. I prefer to travel on my own at my own speed.


It might only be the beginning of April, but I havnt actually seen very much about Autism Acceptance, Awareness, Appreciation, Tolerance, Trendy Month. Looking through the online local news in the mornings at breakfast there hasn’t been anything blowing or lighting up in various colours including puzzled people talking about the phenomenon. Maybe everyone is waving Aussie flags wanting gold medals at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. Maybe they are all asleep and the media is aware of other things that are more interesting like a bare bum in the opening ceremony or Camilla reading a book. Why don’t I share or say anything about the month? It’s a little bit tokenistic when we go back to sleep showing a token effort for something once a month when it should be year-round. I dont do group things and happy doing my own thing. I have enough on my plate with work and study.

Here is your ‘token’, spend it wisely this month.

When leaving isnt time to leave

Two weeks ago I came to the conclusion that it would be best to resign from my volunteer work with the marine rescue. It was not for the reason I had burnt bridges or was off side with anyone at all. I thought it was the easiest way and have the best outcome that I had thought about. I had been there for quite some time, which is 14 years of active service as boat crew and in the past as a radio operator too. I had been told that these days you can either do one or the other, but not both anymore. Work commitments always gets in the way of doing things. My main goal of the year is to complete my history degree.


2018 is going to be a bigger year than I know of and work was only part of the reason to walk away. My employment involves weekend work and I never want to lose my Sunday shifts for obvious reasons. I had asked for one Sunday off a while back and lost all Sunday shifts for a while through roster changes. My worry was I was wearing myself down since I two shifts I can attend in the mornings for only around four hours at a time before heading to work. That day involves a 5am start to get to the boat before a 7am launch. It used to be 630am launch before they changed the time. I start work at 1pm, which finishes at 10pm. It would have been alright if I had not finished work at 10pm on the Friday, but the weekend tired me out a bit.


I felt because of this and the fact I was now a trainee crew instead of a qualified crew member that I couldnt do the study that is involved from knots, flipcharts for different lights showing from vessels at night for their meanings, different navigational markers and their meanings, collision regulations otherwise known as Colregs. I have to know these off the top of my head and I will include a link for those who think I am being precious. This includes me trying to finish my university degree as well and I am wanting to finish by the end of this year as it is something I have strived to complete more for myself.


I had read the information in regards to resigning and I thought that by leaving without being in the bad books, I could return in a year or so. Sure Sydney being the Headquarters might not have a problem with someone not being a troublemaker of any sorts. I was not worried about going back to basics as it is something that I feel I probably should do especially some of the information, I cant seem to remember like the knots. Something I have always struggled with, but I give it a go anyway.


The reality is actually tougher. I had printed out the resignation letter, put my stuff like ID, name badge and epaulet into a folder. I had spoken to no one about my decision not even the head of the boat operations who might have been understanding. The deputy Commander was who I spoke to and his response when I told him why I was wanting to resign (I only spoke about work problems)  was ‘NO’ as I had spent a great deal of time with the organisation and I could always go to fundraising instead to keep myself as an active member. Also it would be difficult to return once I had resigned in bad blood or not. He gave me six months leave to think about it and I was on my way. I would be taken off the roster and to come back when I am ready. He reasoned that I had gotten through the toughest time with work being Christmas


I have heard along the grapevine that people are wondering why I wanted to resign though they have not contacted me or asked my reasons yet. They don’t seem happy that I had been told to basically go flip burgers as part of fundraising. The funny part of having a history degree is the burger flipping comment. I have not told any of them about my history degree that I am wanting to complete by the end of the year. They only really know about my work as I only interact with them through the organisation not outside. Maybe I should do that, but I only really talk to them if I see them at work. We shall see what happens by the end of the month as I will rock up to the boat shed to have a discussion to explain my reasons, but for the time being I think it is best that I have six months off, although I know the training stuff will fall down. I think I am more respected than I realise. The funny thing was I had the thought I could always write the unit history as a volunteer thing and they can publish the book much like for the local life savers I have seen with their centenary book.


The reasons, well the main reasons I will list again, but with additions.

  1. Work commitments. I work more hours and unique shifts than I did when I first joined since I was unemployed and training was far easier.
  2. Trying to finish my university bachelor degree in history. I have two subjects left and they both will be tough. Trying to remember everything on top of the rescue stuff fries the brain I think. Maybe it was only time that it would come to this. I have my own research project that I need to start and finish. That is something I need to concentrate on.
  3. Hoping the big boss doesn’t come down hard on me because I have not completed all the training. So thought resignation would be easier, only to come back later. I don’t want to be forced to complete everything. I had already been given the hard word to leave as a radio operator and time was a factor in that too.
  4. I don’t know how much protection I would have and I don’t really want others to watch my back or cover for me from one very angry person if it comes to that.

  Maybe I should tell them that I am a slow learner and some things I have difficulty with, although if that gets to the ears of the wrong people I might actually be kicked off the boat. Part of the reason why I have never mentioned Aspergers or as it is called these days Autism Spectrum Condition / autism. It makes my life easier and less complicated as they probably have figured out that I am a tough on the slow side. I would say its a huge combo of everything else and something had to give.


Australian Maritime Safety Authority