Friday, February 28, 2014

Too late as usual

The killer trees I posted about last week continue to be in the news, now with a stable door and horses story.

The Dept. of Education has said that in future all public schools will have to engage arborists "to review the safety condition of trees on school grounds".

There wouldn't be a person in Australia who doesn't know that branches fall out of gum trees all year round. So you'd have thought that the bloody bureaucrats at the DofE would have realised they shouldn't be hanging over school playgrounds.

But it took the death of little Bridget Wright, killed by a falling branch which also injured two other children and a teacher, before they took any action.

It's not rocket science. You plan in advance, not wait for a disaster and then make a half-hearted attempt to prevent it happening again.

Do a perfectly normal risk assessment and remove the risks. Big gum trees are a risk, so remove the bloody things from built-up areas, especially schools.

Getting arborists to check them every so often will reduce but not remove the risk, because even healthy gum trees drop branches.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Don't need the work

It's happened to us again. A tradie not bothering to turn up for a job we'd booked him in for.

It wasn't a big job, just putting a tv antenna socket into a room that didn't have one. But the tradie knew what the job was, quoted what he wanted for it and gave us a time he could do it.

So we made a point of being home at the appointed time. We waited...and waited...called his mobile and left a message on voicemail.

Nothing. He completely ignored us.

It's a common problem and I really don't get it.

They pay to run ads in the local paper. They quote for and take the job. They fit it into their schedule, giving you a date and time. Then they just don't turn up to do the job and collect the payment for it.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Killer trees

Another terrible tragedy caused by a gum tree in the city, when a little eight year old girl was killed by a falling branch which came down in a school playground. Three others were injured.

I've ranted about it before, here's an example, and sadly I'm sure I will again because gum trees have a mystical aura with the authorities.

I love them in the bush but they have no place hanging dangerously over houses, roads, power lines and, if we're to protect our children, especially not over schools.

Huge branches fall from them throughout the year, causing all kinds of chaos and, too often, death. As with this latest tragedy, it doesn't need a strong wind, they simply die off and crash to the ground.

There's mounting evidence that power lines coming down are the cause of many bushfires, including many that have resulted in deaths and major property losses. The ABC ran a story on the subject after the October fire crisis here in NSW.

Here are two examples in my street, both of these monsters less than fifty metres from me in either direction.

Both are over power lines - branches from the tree in the first photo have brought down power lines twice in my time here - and both will destroy houses when they fall down completely, as they surely will one day.

Councils routinely refuse permission to remove killer trees, yet no-one is held responsible when they create damage or death.

Not good enough is it.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Back after a busy trip

Back in Oz after a busy three weeks in Dubai and Singapore, and as usual I'm staggering around trying to cope with with jetlag.

We went to Singapore for Chinese New Year. It's always unbearably humid there and while I have no problem with heat I really struggle with humidity. But I've never been so comfortable there because, for first time ever, there was no humidity.

Climate change is fairly obvious in Singapore - January they normally have 242mm of rain but this year they had 75mm. They had a third of the normal rain days too, five instead of fifteen.

It's known as the green city but for the first time ever I saw brown grass, wilting ferns, stressed trees losing their leaves...

Most of the time in Dubai we spent finalising the leasing of our apartment, and running around getting things like electricity and phones cancelled.

And the inevitable battle with HSBC bank, surely the most user-unfriendly bank in a country famed for banks with appalling customer service.

For the phone/internet thing we, again inevitably, got conflicting advice. We phoned and were told that we should go on our last day because it would be disconnected same day.

When we got there we were told we should have given one month's notice.

So we filled in forms to order the disconnection...then when we got back to the apartment a couple of hours later it had already been disconnected.

In the end it all took days longer than it should have but in the morning of the day we were flying out we had the tenant in, the phone, gas and electricity disconnected, the banking sorted and various deposits reclaimed.

For at least the next year we'll visit far less often and for much shorter periods, probably either just in transit or for a day or two stopover.

Next time we have planned is June/July time when we're going back to Vienna again, but that'll probably just be a transfer of flights at the airport.

And back now in humid Terrigal - February is always our most humid month - and we're having some good soaking rain after only about 20mm the whole summer until now.