Opening The Borders

Open state borders…for trade and tourism…is all very well. We want trade and tourism; ie. we want money, and we want someone to bring it to us. But presently there is a chance that they will bring disease and death to us.

Not that this was not always the case – tourists can murder locals as easily as locals can murder tourists – and interstate commerce can impoverish as well as enrich. You just have to have the control knobs set the the right way to gain and not lose.

But now tourists can bring in a disease we cannot yet cure. It is in our interests to keep them away, and to stop ourselves from going to their homes and risking the same result. We, and they, are going to lose the chance to exchange money ( and that is all the trade ever is ) but we also give time for science to find a cure for this disease that haunts us.

We can exchange canned goods and television shows and chilled mutton. We can send disinfected parcels back and forth. Let us be content with that and wait out the cycle of disease and cure. And let’s remember where it all came from. We can’t fathom why, but we can reduce the chances again.

The Quarantine Islands

What to do with the numerous floating infections that were major cruise liners? Sinking them with torpedos too drastic a measure? How about docking them on man-made islands in the middle of a sea and letting them quietly sit until they can be cleaned out or dismantled.

Remove the crews ashore to await the gradual decline of the viral infection. House them with people who know what to do. Keep them on those islands or send them ashore to the nearest port.

Sail the ships to the newly-raised sand islands in the South China Sea and let the Chinese naval authorities mind them until the pandemic has finally been conquered. After all, China has been telling the world how well it has coped with the situation…Now they can demonstrate their  prowess.

Home Port

I was always impressed with the Panamanian merchant marine. And that of the Bahamas and Sierra Leone. I had grown up supposing the most powerful merchant fleets were from Britain, the US, or other allied countries – but so few of the ships that came into port seemed to be registered there. The Sierra Leonians and Panamanians had advanced to being the sailors of the world…

The penny dropped later – the ships were registered in countries that demanded no taxes from the owners, yet benefitted from whatever anyone else did as far as maritime organisation and safety. It was surprising that so few of them were not home-ported in Switzerland or Leichtenstein…

It all worked until this year when the Asian virus was found to infect the ships of the cruise lines. We’ve seen the horrid results of ships refused entry and stranded off any number of out-of-the-way ports. They’re gradually repatriating the passengers, well or otherwise, and the crews are being kept abord many of the vessels.

Time for them to go home. Not to Miami or Sydney or New York. Not to the ports where they hoovered up the money. To the ports where they cached it – their tax-free home ports. That’s where they said they were from, and that’s where they can finish up. The various governments that were taking the registration fees and banking the profits can now spend that money cleaning out the ships and turning them into low-cost floating housing for their citizens. Like the Queen Mary.

Or do a Queen Elizabeth and have a mysterious fire start in the harbour…

The Loveless Boat

Cruise liners are not happy vessels these days – the Wuhan Plague having got aboard them  means they are floating pest ships. As they try to call at ports to get help for their passengers they are turned away or impounded. They’re not all Dutchmen but a lot of them are flying.

The only saving grace is that there can only be so many still out there. Severe movement restrictions for the world having started, surely no more cruises are starting – and ships that are clear of passengers and crew can be laid up in ordinary or parked in mothballs up some quarantine creek. It’s a hot potato game for whoever off-loads the people from them, but some states of Australia are staying firm about it all. In Western Australia we have a quarantine island and on-shore self-isolation hotels to bottle people up for a fortnight.

But what do you do about the industry? This plague is hellishly unusual now but it warns us that what happens once can happen again. And if there is a restart to the cruise-about business the mechanism is all set to fire when more ammunition is mutated or made.

I can think of what to do. Repatriate excess entertainment crew and all passengers after either quarantining them or curing them. Do it at government expense – and invite the ships to retain enough operational crew to sail away unmolested right now – with full bunkers at government expense. Not to another Australian port – away from mainland and island Australia. Home, if they have one.

If they refuse, remove the crew entirely and repatriate them via air immediately. Tow the vessels out to a suitable deep, burn them to the waterline, and sink the wrecks by gunfire or torpedoes. They are enemy warships in a biological war.

 

Day Two From Fort Onkaparinga

Australians will get that one. For North Americans and Brits, think ” blanket fort “.

All good. Wife collected yesterday from airport amongst scenes of no panic at all. Has not grown another head. All in agreement with 14 day self-isolation.

One little reporter and cameraman from a local TV channel seen at the airport looking to beat something up amongst the first arrivals of the morning. Only a few fools stopped to answer questions. Few aircraft actually scheduled to come in – the Cathay Pacific ones are cancelled, of course, and some of the other carriers are dropping services.

Less traffic on some roads, but that didn’t seem to include the ones I was on. The morning tradies raged their way to work at each other’s bumpers. Thank goodness it was a light drizzle and the roads were slippery – makes the tailgating that much more exciting. For the next two weeks I wish them all the speed they need and frequent sudden meetings.

And now it’s time to draw up a schedule of things to do within the fort. This may result in accomplishing a lot of the maintenance that has been put off for years.

 

The Foolish Place Name

Every country on Earth has some location – a city, town, or geographic feature – that attracts ridicule. Not for its nature – for its name. The residents may become permanently embittered by this…they are laughed to scorn by foreigners through no fault of their own. Often it is only the sound of their beloved home in the language of the alien that produces the cheap laugh.

I’ve lived in Alberta and heard sneers at the the town of Medicine Hat. And at Moose Jaw in Saskatchewan. Walla Walla in Washington state has gotten a giggle out of Australians who then bristle and stoutly defend Wagga Wagga in New South Wales.

Condom in France and Hell in Norway…same thing. And then there is that foolish name of the Welsh railway station that is so long and unpronounceable that it has become a tourist destination. A selfie-pit, if you will.

Time to call a halt to this. In a millennial age that takes offence at everything and demands a homogenous and uniform state of unbridled  variety, there must be a change on Earth. No more foolish place names.

Henceforth, each location, hamlet, town, or city will be renamed. The simplest way to do this will be assign each former name an numerical equivalent. Numbers are universally known and can never be exhausted. It will be simple to rename Prague to 6754, Marrakech to 8932, Manangatang to 10567 and so forth. States , provinces, territories, and countries will also get numbered so you’ll have no trouble visiting 560-45-7 on your summer vacation. Helluva nice town and the local delicacy – fried tripe – is not to be missed.

Bon appetit.

The Local Holiday – Part Three

Review yesterday’s reflections on why people travel for their holidays before we go on.  And then consider why staying at home may meet all your needs.

a.  You wanted a change of scenery. There are new sights to see within a mile of your easy chair. You can go to them on a bus or train ( for free if you’re old enough ). You can walk to them in some cases. I’ll bet few of the readers have been to all four corners of their respective towns. Who knows what sights are to be seen there – I rode a local bus through what I thought would be familiar suburbs and found that the town has changed into a new place. And I was not riding some death-bus full of grinning bandits into unknown peril, at $ 10,000 a go.

b. You wanted a change of weather – this really amounts to wanting cool when it is hot and warmth when it is cold. Or dry when it is raining. Got news for you – Cool comes out of air conditioners – if you have one, use it. If you don’t, go to a mall that does.

Same thing when it is cold. Sit in front of the fire or go to a warm café. Libraries are warm and quiet and they have free entertainment for all ages. They also have seats and let you sit there reading all day if you wish.

Weather will eventually change anyway – in Melbourne, four times per day. Just be patient.

c. You wanted new food and drink. Oh, please…there are more restaurants in your town than ever you have eaten at. And more bars, pubs, taverns, etc. for exotic drinks. You cannot eat or drink more than a certain amount in any one day and all you have to do is go into a new joint and sample their menu. Most Australian cities have more ethnic variety in their eateries than any of the countries that they emulate. Where exactly is Generia , anyway? Their cuisine seems familiar, if bland.

d. New people? Go to a new pub, club, mall, church or temple, and look around. Go clean, friendly, and polite and you’ll meet people you want to meet. Every newspaper and radio station advertises groups looking for new members every day.

e. Duty Free? Really? Is it really a good idea to pay $ 10,000 in holiday money to come back with a giant half-price bottle of Johnny Walker? You could go to the local Dan Murphy and whack down $ 100 and come away with all the whiskey you can handle. A queasy liver at 1/100th of the cost.

f. Relaxation? If your idea of relaxation is sitting on a beach getting skin cancer, you can do that at Cottesloe or Swanbourne. If you want to break your arm surfing, Margaret River is just three hours away. If you want shows and movies, there are plenty going on every day right here at home.

If relaxation for you is sitting in a café, there are a number of districts here that want your dollar.

g. Peace and quiet. This is the best news of all. You can get this in your lounge room for just a few dollars. Here’s what you do:

  1. Clean the house. Not a major campaign – just a day’s tidying. Sets the scene.
  2. Get in a week’s worth of ready-to-cook meals or a handful of local restaurant menus.
  3. Get a carton of beer or cola or whatever. Or a few bottles of the local vin ordinaire.
  4. Get an armload of new books from the library or book shop.
  5. Put on your holiday clothes – loose ones.
  6. Unplug the land line phone.
  7. Put the mobile phone under two pillows.
  8. Turn on the air conditioner and make yourself comfortable.
  9. Watch TV, read, practice your hobby, write letters or postcards, sit and think, nap, or eat and drink. All week, if you wish. Go to bed as early or late as you please.

Amazing how good it feels, isn’t it? And you are not dependent upon airport transfers, bell hops, tour guides, airline schedules, or any other travel hazard. You will not be stranded anywhere, as your bed is a room away. You are near your medical base. You can ring out for food if desired and ring friends to invite them to share it. You can binge watch on telly. You can be as vacant as you wish.

You can write internet weblog columns undisturbed.

 

Holiday At Home – Part Two – In the Mood

Having established in our minds that forking over $ 10,000-$20,000 to go somewhere might be a bad idea, we are left to think up some way in which we can get the holiday experience without the holiday expense.

The first thing to get straight is what you really want from a holiday. This’ll differ with different people but here’s some of the things we look for:

  1. A change of scenery. Some place different from the neighbourhood. It need not be good or interesting scenery as long as it is new. This explains why people go to some of the world’s pest holes and regard it as fun.
  2. A change of weather. If you just cannot face another fortnight of heat, cold, rain, or anything else that your local met department serves up, you get on your camel and ride to where someone else is uncomfortable. I must admit that this has occurred to me in the middle of oppressive seasons.
  3. A change of food and drink. Whatever you normally eat and drink, you do rather fancy something exotic. Of course you’ll probably reel back in horror as it plops on your plate and demand home cooking, but the restaurants are used to this. They just take it back to the kitchen and fry it; you’ll eat it later.
  4. A change of people. You always think that you’ll encounter wonderful wizened old people who will impart the secrets of life to you – or a romantic partner – or cheerful peasants. Boy, have we got news for you. The wizened crones are 17 but have been standing close to a nuclear waste dump, the romantic partner wants to steal your passport, and the cheerful peasants are high on goat shit. You left home and flew Economy 17 hours straight to get this…
  5. Duty Free.
  6. Relaxation.
  7. Peace and quiet.

All these things are good things, seen in themselves. We look at travel brochures and imagine that they are in the photos – in fact, the images we really see are in our own minds. They may be totally false views, but as they are pictures that we show ourselves…how could we be wrong? We trust us, even if we shouldn’t.

In reality, we could achieve nearly all we want in the holiday trip with a little readjustment of our minds and some clever use of local resources. We need not lock ourselves in the bathroom – we can go on trips – but sometimes we need not go as far as all that.

Read tomorrow and see how far.

How Do You Take A Vacation From A Holiday – Part One

Or vice versa. It is a question that the retired individual can ponder. And there isn’t an easy answer – lots of factors come into play:

a. You may not be wealthy. The disposable income of the working years – assuming you had any – has been disposed of. The rest is what supplies your daily living – it may be comfortably enough, but it rarely stretches to unlimited expense, unless you have been very successful indeed.

If you stay at home, you spend less – less on travel, accommodation, external meals and drinks, and tourist activities. Your supposrtsystem is all round you, supporting you, and need not be paid for elsewhere.

b. You may not be filled with vim and vigour. Older people can be bundles of energy in some cases but in others the bundle contains a lot of aches and pains as well as frayed nerves. Travel rarely improves this, unless you are going to the hot springs.

c. Your friends are here. Even if they are really your bitter enemies, they are at least convenient when you want a fight. No need going halfway around the country or the world to find new battles.

d. You can drink the water and understand the money and bus system here. If you go elsewhere all three things are likely to give you the shits. If you’re really lucky you get a free train and bus pass here and can plague people all over the city economically.

e. If you stay home you do not have to be out later than you want to be. You can turn off the lights and hit the feathers at 10:30 without looking like a party pooper.

f. If you stay at home and eat and drink the exotic foods and liquors of the place that the tour goes to…and it is possible, given the upsurge in restaurants in the last decade… you can still get heartburn but you can do something about it discreetly. When you do your own cooking, you can read the menu. And you need not eat the weird offal that they try to serve as folk food. Folk that for a joke.

But enough of the gloom. Next time we tell you how to holiday at home and be happy.

The Ten O’Clock Highway

I live a retired life, which means I push my nose into all sorts of places. This is fun if you time it right – and the chief requirement there is to coordinate your movements with the road traffic.

Or, to put it more accurately, without. You choose to venture when others do not – you go places they are not. The shining goal os a day is an unobstructed road ahead and no arrogant BMW driver or tradie in a tray-top pushing up behind you. In some cases it is worth seeking out a road that doesn’t even go where you want to go to so that you can enjoy the peace.

It gets harder, as our metropolitan area expands and the suburbs in-fill themselves with multiple dwellings on older blocks. Just more people on the roads. I try to use the bus and train system when I can – the attraction being free travel in air conditioning with time to rest rather than drive. However, there are places poorly-served by public transport so the car has to be wheeled out.

I’ve learned to only venture after 10:00 AM and to bring myself back home before 4:00 PM.  If the route is planned well you can get through the flak defences, accomplish your mission, and be back before they can catch you. Of course there are always road crews out playing Tetris with the traffic barriers as they lean on their shovels and you do well to learn about them from other road users on the net the night before. They really do affect where you travel for shopping – they steered me away from a certain sale at a shop last Saturday by the simple expedient of blocking the shop’s street from both ends. I hope the shopkeeper and his assistants do not stave and die behind the counter while the paviours play – it would make the shop premises stink awfully…

Shall I resort to the net and on-line shopping more? I hope not – I like the establishment of physical shops in our city as a way of giving employment and providing convenience for me  – after I have run the gauntlet of the roads. On-line doesn’t benefit our state or nation in the end.