What will be deadly in 100 years’ time?

30 12 2013

While searching Trove for newspaper articles as part of my genealogical research, I spotted this advertisement (yellow highlights) in the 22 November 1919 edition of a state newspaper:


Makes you wonder what currently acceptable and ‘worthwhile’ material will be as deadly to us in 100 years’ time as asbestos was proved to be several decades after this ad was published.

Note also the ad at the bottom of the column for getting rid of grey hair! Some things never change…

Serendipitous juxtapositions

30 12 2013

Ah, Facebook and Twitter! How I love the times when the feeds coming through either match in content or colour or some other attribute.I don’t think it’s deliberate… just a quirk of circumstance.

I’ve collected these examples of interesting juxtapositions over the past few weeks:


Steph lives in Australia and Gretchen lives in the US, but both Tweeted about their pets and food at Christmas.



Air quality discussions by two people I know who live at opposite ends of California




Steph in Australia has several cats; Char in the US has a menagerie of pets (Cassie is a dog, and Sagwa and Midnight are two cats). No matter the location, the pets want to take over!



Sarah’s picture has a big diaper box in the right corner, and Paul’s Tweet just a short while earlier told of an interesting diaper situation on his flight.

Interesting headlines

30 12 2013

Sometimes I see interesting headlines in my travails around the internet. Here are two recent ones from some Australian news websites:



In the one above, there really was a link to a page titled ‘This story has been removed’ which mentioned some doctor up on a sexual assault charge. The story was there, but the headline was odd. I suspect there was some threat of legal action and the story should have been deleted, but instead it remained and the headline and thus the summary headline/link reflected the changed title. Oops.

The one below was a lovely mismatch of the headline/picture with the abstract. The headline/picture matched, but neither matched the abstract. Puts a new meaning on ‘successful swimmers’ I guess 😉


Facebook has NO idea about me

30 12 2013

Facebook continually wants me to complete my profile. Well, sorry FB, but I don’t want to. I really don’t think it’s any of your business where I went to school (how many decades ago was that?), where I grew up, where I work, etc. and I’m not going to tell you. My friends and family who might need to know either already know or can ask me directly and I’ll tell them. But honestly, of what concern is that past history to anyone else?

So it’s with some delight that I realise that FB knows very little about me and tries to predict what it does know from the people I interact with (see the images below). The problem with these automated ‘predictions’ is that like most people I know, I have far-ranging and not necessarily overlapping groups of people I ‘know’ on FB. There’s my family scattered in Australia and the US mostly, there are my fellow professionals scattered right across the world, there are people I’ve worked with in various companies, and there are my quilting buddies who are also scattered across the world. And there are some others too, but those groups I listed would cover most of my FB ‘friends’.

As an example of how FB’s predictions about me are wildly off the mark, try these:


Ummmm… neither. Ever.


I’ve only heard of two of these and have definitely not attended any of them. Besides, high school was SUCH a long time ago who on earth cares?


Where’s Mordialloc? Never been there or travelled through there as far as I know. And while I may have lived in Perth, I didn’t ‘grow up’ there.


Well, I driven through Austin (over the top of it on the interstate is the closest I’ve come to that fair city), and I’ve never even heard of Sugar House in Utah, though I did visit Utah once LONG before FB came along. And while I lived in Perth for some years, I sure didn’t grow up there, and left there long before I joined FB.

Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen bobbin case

30 12 2013

When is an M bobbin case not an M bobbin case? When it’s made by different manufacturers for different machines! Currently, there’s a discussion on the forum for the owners of sit-down models of quilting machines about the M bobbin case for the Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen/Babylock Tiara, and one of the members posted a picture of the black spring she was told to remove to use the pre-wound Glide bobbins. The problem is that my bobbin case DOES NOT have this black spring and I suspect never had it as I can’t recall seeing it. (Update: Newer Sweet Sixteens have bobbin cases with the black spring.)

So I took some photos of my only bobbin case — the one that came with my Sweet Sixteen machine back in April 2011 — so that I’d have them on hand for future reference. I took several photos from different angles.

The only ‘spring’-like thing INSIDE my bobbin case is the flat metal piece that’s screwed into the housing — you could not remove it without first removing the screw. On its inner side, this flat metal piece has a straight edge, then sweeps into a scythe-like curve. Also, note the width and shape of the bobbin case opening (not the ‘fingers’ surrounding the opening, but the opening itself) — it’s a sort of skinny ‘D’ shape.






As a result of this discussion, I went searching for M size bobbin cases on the internet and found that there are all sorts of variations of these. Below I some photos I grabbed from the internet. Notice the shape of the opening, the ‘spring’ shape, and the black spring (in some cases), and even a ‘pigtail’ spring. They are all a little different to the bobbin case I have. So buyer beware! If you purchase any old M size bobbin case from the internet, it may not be the correct one for your machine!


Tin Lizzie






Japanese A1 long-arm

Chain letters, 1935 style

28 12 2013

I’m doing some family tree research on my summer break and part of that process is to check digitised newspaper articles for family notices (births, deaths, marriages, etc.). As I’m checking dates, names etc. I’m also correcting the electronically translated text for the entire section, not just for my relatives’ information. (The National Library of Australia has this amazing online collection of digital articles [http://trove.nla.gov.au/] that can be edited by anyone, thus harnessing the true power of crowd sourcing — for example, by noon today, some 150,000 edits had been made to newspaper text.)

Anyhow, I’d just finished editing the family notices for a particular date in 1935, when I saw this at the end in the classified advertisements:


Very strange! Fancy asking someone in 1935 to copy a letter 157 times (that would be BY HAND), then giving that letter to 891 friends (I’m not sure how 157 letters becomes 891… and even you did have 891 friends [or even 157 friends] then no doubt you’d have to mail some of these HANDWRITTEN letters at YOUR cost…) and then 793 of those friends have to purchase these ‘cabin weekends’ so that you get 33 million cakes at 74 cakes a day for 54.5 years! Even using a calculator I couldn’t get that maths to work.

And there’s no information on how you go about purchasing a ‘Fremantle cabin weekend special’.

Very weird… perhaps it was a coded message for someone? Or maybe someone was predicting Facebook and the like where you *could* have 891 friends and post something to them all 😉

Scrappy quilt: The start

26 12 2013

I’m in the process of making a lap quilt from my scrap fabrics. I bought a Go! Cutter with a 2.5 inch square die to cut the hundreds of 2.5 inch squares I need for this quilt. The pattern I’m using is this one: http://weddingdressblue.wordpress.com/2011/07/06/100-patch-quilt-tutorial/

The first step in the process was to cut out hundreds of squares! I counted up how many I cut, and it came to more than 2000, and still I had scraps left over. I didn’t touch my fabric stash at all. Using the Go! Cutter saved my sanity — you can cut up to 54 squares at a time and they are ALL the same size and ALL correct. I put them into ziplock bags according to colour and then I left them for a few weeks until I got inspired to start stitching them together. (And to avoid this mammoth task in the future, now when I have offcuts from a quilt, I save the larger pieces and put the smaller ones through the Go! Cutter then add them to the relevant coloured baggie. Even smaller ones either then go into the bin, or I donate them to the local library for their children’s craft activities over the school holidays — small offcuts of wadding make great sheep and snow!)


Squares in baggies AFTER I’d used up 1160 of them!

I grabbed two pieces from the baggies, then stitched them, chain stitching the next two and so on. I stopped stitching at about 580 pairs, and STILL I have hundreds of 2.5 inch squares left over! If I need more, I’ll just raid my baggies of squares…



I call these long chain stitched pairs my ‘prayer flags’ as they remind me of the prayer flags in Nepal

The next step was ironing each pair open and snipping the joining threads. What a mindless task that was! Now I had a cutting table covered in pairs of squares…



Yes, I counted how many pairs I had — see notebook on the right.

After a few more days/weeks of avoiding the next task, I got into it while I was on leave just before Christmas. And that task was deciding how to put these pairs together. It would be easy to just grab a pair and then stitch the next pair I grabbed to it, but I wanted to make sure I had a balance of lights and darks, brights and pastels, etc. so I placed the pairs on my design board (thank goodness for that design board — this task would have been a nightmare otherwise).


Once I was happy with the ‘randomness’ of colours, tonal values etc., I stitched the first row of 10 squares (5 pairs) together, then pinned them back up. Then the next row and the next until all 10 rows were stitched.

Next came more pressing, this time pressing all the seams in one row the same way, then in the opposite direction for the next row and so on until all 10 rows were pressed. I pinned each row back up on the design board as it was pressed.



Next came joining rows 1 and 2 together, then 3 and 4, 5 and 6 and so on, nesting the seams together, and pressing the new seam in one direction.

I now had 5 pairs of rows of 10, so these had to be stitched together too, and the seams pressed.

Finally I had a single block of 100 squares!


I think I’ll need six 100-square blocks for my lap quilt — 2 across, and 3 down. That’s only 600 squares from my stash of 2000+ 2.5 inch squares….

More details as I create the quilt…

Already I reckon I’m about 10 hours (or more) into it, with many more hours to go. Anyone who thinks that paying $300 for a hand-made quilt at a craft fair is too much, has NO idea of how much time and effort goes into it (see this blog post for the costings for a quilt I made a couple of years ago: https://rhondabracey.com/2011/11/06/cost-of-craft-work/).

See also: https://rhondabracey.com/2014/01/28/scrappy-quilt-finished/

Mohawk and Zulu heritage

26 12 2013

I have two ‘protective’ pieces of cultural heritage in my house (actually, I probably have many more, but these ones are pretty unusual for someone living in Australia).

The first is an assegai that came from my maternal grandparents, who were both born and raised in South Africa, and who came to Western Australia in 1927. They returned to South Africa a couple of times in their later years, and my grandmother died there while visiting with her family on one of their trips back (1978); my grandfather died in Western Australia in 1994. In their house they had a few African pieces, and for some reason I have their old assegai.

I don’t recall how I got it — whether my Mum gave it to me after my grandad died, or whether I asked for it (though I can’t recall ever doing so, as I don’t even think I can remember seeing it when I used to visit as a child). Anyhow, I’ve always known it as an assegai, though some might call it a spear. When I checked Wikipedia, the description on an assegai perfectly fits what I have — a wooden shaft, with a crude iron spear, which is about 30 cm long. I guess I always knew it was some sort of weapon, but that Wikipedia article confirms it.



The other is a Mohawk ‘dancing stick’ that I purchased from a Tyendinaga Mohawk store in 1986 when I lived in Ontario, Canada.

I can vividly recall going into the store and wandering about looking at all the stuff. The only thing that really drew me in the store was this dancing stick, which was hanging high on the ceiling well out of reach and which wasn’t for sale, according to the chap serving in the store. He said it was a ceremonial stick and it wasn’t for sale as they still used in it ceremonies and it was a traded gift from another tribe. It was only in the store for display and storage purposes. At least, that was his story and I had no reason to disbelieve him. I kept coming back to it and looking up at it, and kept asking if it was for sale, and about the history of it and what it was made of (deer antler, white tailed deer hide, deer suede, eagle feathers, and blue and red beads). Then I’d move off, then come back.


I was drawn to this piece of Canadian First Nations culture for some reason. I was the only one in the store, and he could see me going back to it time and again. Eventually, I decided it was time to move on. But on my way out he stopped me and said he could see how drawn I was to this piece. So he sold it to me, knowing it would go to Australia to live out its days. I can’t recall how much I paid for it, but that’s totally irrelevant anyway.

Australian Customs is notoriously harsh about ‘fur, skin, and feathers’, so when my box of belongings arrived in Fremantle Port some four months after I’d sent it home from my year in Canada, I had to go down to Fremantle Port Customs to claim it and to declare the dancing stick. There was always a risk that it would be confiscated and destroyed by Customs, but that was a risk I was prepared to take. The guy at the counter was really good about it — he said it would have to be gamma radiated, but as their unit was a fixed size, they’d have to cut the stick in two! However, he said they’d try to cut it where the cut couldn’t be seen. A week or so later I got a call to come pick it up, and when I did so, I couldn’t see where they’d cut it in half. The guy at the counter told me they’d pushed back the deer suede and cut it in half there, then had joined it by using a piece of dowel in the centre and gluing it back together again. I still cannot see the cut!

The main reason I’ve written this blog post is so that I have some documented history of these pieces and how I came to own them (or they came to own me!). And the reason I’ve written about them now is that a small piece of deer fur fell off the dancing stick last night (possibly where that cut had been made and the deer hide glued back?) and I glued it back on today. And took some photos of it.

Taking care of direct summer sun

26 12 2013

My office at home (I work from home exclusively) faces west, so come the afternoon on summer days, the windows get the full force of the sun and heat. Even if there’s a sea breeze blowing from the west (we’re close to the ocean), I have to close the windows (which have blinds, and 70%+ window tinting on them) so the sun and heat don’t come straight into the office and overheat me or the computers. Closing the windows on a hot day and thus preventing the sea breeze from coming in also means turning on the air conditioning (A/C) to keep the computers at a happy temperature (I’ve got one computer that tells me it’s getting hot by ramping up the fan speed once the ambient temperature in the room hits about 28C!).

I’d been thinking about getting shade screens on the front of the house since we moved in, but it wasn’t until we sold a property and had some ‘spare’ cash from that sale that I could justify such an expense. Fortunately, since I first thought of doing it some four years’ ago, technology has moved on and the days of manually unwinding/rolling up these screens are long gone — it’s all automated and done by remote control from inside the house now 😉

The roller screens were installed just before Christmas and already they’ve made a huge difference on those pleasant summer days where it’s not really hot enough to have the A/C on and the days when a nice cooling sea breeze is blowing. I no longer have to shut the windows mid-afternoon and turn on the A/C, just to keep the direct sun out.

I choose a light colour for the screens as the window tinting already adds a lot of darkness to the office, so with the screens down, I can keep the office windows open to catch the breeze, while still letting light in, but not the direct sun or heat. Of course, if it’s REALLY hot, then the A/C comes on AND the screens go down.


(Yes, I need to talk to the company about the ‘slack’ in the screens as I had expected them to be quite taut.)


You can see how the screens minimise the direct sun from the front of the house — there’s a LOT of shade between them and the front door and windows

The day after they were installed, I checked the heat coming through the bedroom windows (which aren’t shaded, but which have the same tinting on them) — I put the back of my hand on the inside of the window and it was HOT. I then went to one of the shaded windows and the temperature of the glass facing into the room was pretty much the ambient temperature of the room.

I should have done this years ago…

Cleaning stubborn water stains from a toilet

26 12 2013

We moved into our house nearly four years ago. When we moved in, the house was three years’ old and the toilets were stained (the water here is fairly hard), as were the plug areas of the white porcelain hand basins in the bathrooms.

Below is an example of the staining — yes, these are WATER stains!!!


I tried everything possible (e.g. CLR, Steradent, abrasive and non-abrasive cleaning gels, sprays, solutions etc.) to clean them, all to no avail. They remained stained. A plumber we’ve used over the past few years said that we’d never clean them as ‘there was a bad batch made about the time your house was built and the porcelain was porous and therefore the stains were ingrained’. Short of replacing the toilets with new ones, we were stuck with toilets and hand basins that were clean but that looked dirty.

I even emailed pictures of the stained toilets to the manufacturer back in November (I’m still awaiting a reply…), as the building guy I spoke to said they had a 10-year manufacturer’s warranty.

Meantime, we had some roof plumbing work done by a plumber just before Christmas  and I asked him about his availability for replacing the two toilets. He came inside, took one look, then beetled back to his van where he grabbed some abrasive mesh. He rubbed a small area of one toilet bowl and voila! The stains had disappeared!!! and there was some milky stuff in the water. He said they were calcium stains (which accounted for the milkiness) and that the porcelain was fine — we just needed to get the calcium off and they’d be as good as new. He even gave me about 30 cm of the mesh he used and warned me not to press too hard with bare fingers as I’d cut them. The porcelain doesn’t get scratched by this process either — it was very smooth where he’d rubbed the calcium off.

So, wearing rubber gloves, I got to and over the past couple of days I’ve cleaned both toilets and hand basins and they are all shiny new again! And even better, I’ve saved myself the expense and inconvenience of having to replace toilet pedestals and hand basins. All it required was the right ‘tool’ for the job and a fair amount of elbow grease.

Here’s one of the toilets with one side cleaned, and then finished.



Below is this magical abrasive mesh (I think the AO is for aluminium oxide and the 180 is for the grit level).


You don’t need much of it to make a big impression, and you can use it wet or dry — I found wet was best:


I’ve since attacked a few other areas around the house with this stuff, but be careful as it will scratch metal surfaces if you put too much pressure on it. I haven’t tried it on the glass shower screens yet, but I suspect it may scratch glass too. However, a light rubbing removed rust-type stains from aluminium without obvious scratching.

When I’m next in town, I’ll try to buy a roll of this stuff from the plumbing supplies place — plumbers use it for filing off rough edges on copper pipes etc. I figure that I’ll need to give these toilets a periodic rub down with the mesh as our hard water issue isn’t going away any time soon.