The final chapter in the cockroach saga

31 08 2014

When I was in Sydney last week, I had the final afternoon of the conference off. The Sydney Hilton where I was staying was only a couple of blocks from the Australian Museum, which is where Martyn worked (Martyn is the naturalist I’d been in contact with about the cockroach I’d found several years ago). So I decided to contact him and see if we could meet. Fortunately, he was still working there and working on the afternoon I had free, so we met at the Museum and spent an hour discussing all sorts of stuff over a coffee, including the fate of ‘my’ cockroaches, which all looked much like the picture below.

Female native cockroach on house wall

Female native cockroach on house wall

What happened was that the live female I sent a few years’ ago laid an egg case, and the babies hatched. The mother died after about a year. Some of her young mated with each other (yes, incest is common in many species according to Martyn and if anything it strengthens the gene pool instead of throwing mutations as it seems to do in humans… or is that just a myth perpetuated by religious leaders to prevent incestuous relationships?), but eventually only males were left and so there were no females to carry on the line.

For the full story of the cockroaches I sent to Martyn, see these blog posts (read them in chronological order from top to bottom):

I mentioned that Martyn and I had a wide-ranging (and fascinating) discussion… From first meeting him to some 45 minutes later when the museum was closing, we discussed:

  • incest in animals (including parent/child and brother/sister), which he said is very prevalent in many species, as is homosexuality
  • genetic breeding in cattle to get rid of a heart condition crossing many generations of dairy cattle
  • centuries of genetic modification in the breeding of racehorses (he said most of Australia’s racehorses came from three original males)
  • bio prospecting (yes, that’s a real word) where pharmaceutical companies (was the CSIRO in Australia before various governments — especially the current Abbott government — cut their funding to the bone) are researching compounds in species like my diurnal cockroach for properties like sun protection and then synthetically recreating them to make products for testing and ultimately for human use
  • how adding a couple of genes to E. coli makes insulin that Type 1 diabetics can inject without rejection and thus also prevent the formation of hard skin tissue at the injection site.

Sydney Hilton

31 08 2014

I went to Sydney last week to speak at a conference. The conference was held at the Sydney Hilton and that’s where the organisers had booked me for three nights. I was on the 38th floor (an Executive room floor, which meant I had to their excellent ‘Executive Lounge’), and while the room was very nice and the hotel staff were great, I am glad that my usual life is spent at ground level looking out onto greenery and water in the distance. I don’t think I could live that high up, being overlooked by windows in other buildings.

As an aside, what’s with the ‘environmental’ cards asking guests to leave towels etc. hanging up that they don’t want laundered, yet when you do so for three days straight, the housekeeping staff change them every day anyway? They didn’t change my sheets, so that was something, I guess.







Pretty rocks in Sydney

31 08 2014

One of my friends is a big fan of pretty rocks and takes the most amazing micro photographs of them. So, when I saw that a whole floor at the Australian Museum in Sydney was dedicated to rocks and geological stuff I just had to go.

And I can sure see why she is fascinated with them — there are some AMAZING structures and colours below the dirt!

Here are a couple of the photos I took.


That line of stones shows the colour variations in sapphires found in Australia. And you thought sapphires were just blue!




Community Quilt 158

26 08 2014

This was a BIG quilt, all in a striking arrangement of pretty batiks. The orange squares really set off the blue/green/aqua batiks, so a neon orange became my thread colour choice for the quilting.

As this quilt pattern was so geometric, I decided to do a squared off stipple all over the quilt. Unlike other types of stippling, this one requires you to cross lines 😉

And if you look closely, you’ll see my lines aren’t perfectly straight — and that’s OK. The overall look is of rectangles and squares, even though I suspect there’s not a perfectly straight line anywhere on the quilt. If I’d wanted perfectly straight lines, I’d have used a ruler, but that would’ve added about 10 hours to this quilt.

As it was I had a few issues with the Glide thread — the first issues I’ve ever had with Glide. For some reason, the top thread was very tight at times and snapped. I couldn’t figure it out, but it wasn’t enough for me to abandon the thread and go with something else. It’s possible the thread and the batik fabric didn’t play nice together, and it may not have been the thread alone (I’ve used this thread spool on other quilts without a problem).

(Click on a photo to view it larger)




Threads used:

  • Top: Fil-Tec Glide ‘Neon Orange’ (40 wt , trilobal polyester, colour 90811)
  • Bottom: Fil-Tec Magna Glide Classic pre-wound (white)


It’s a Merc convention!

26 08 2014

Spotted at my local shopping centre…


And no, this is not a ‘posh’ area. I think it’s just that these cars are more affordable than they used to be.

Ion cleanse – yeah, right

25 08 2014

While I was waiting for some boots to be resoled the other day, I spotted a nail bar next door, so decided to have a look. They offered an ‘ion cleanse’ treatment for 30 minutes, so I decided to have one, being very skeptical of the claims made on the sign.



I’ve seen these foot tubs before at markets, and have been amazed — like others before me — at the change in water colour over time as ‘the toxins are eliminated from the body’. Yeah, right.

My feet were placed in lukewarm water in a special tub, wires were connected, and some salt was sprinkled into the water. The attendant then turned on the machine. And almost immediately rust coloured water and particles started coming out of the round black thing in the water. NOT out of my feet, but out of this container (the arrow shows this happening).



In short time, the water turned rusty brown, and over the 30 minutes my feet were in the water, that water got progressively darker and more rusty and more horrid; there were even small particles of ‘rust’ floating on the surface and attaching themselves to my ankles where the barrier was between my feet and the water.




Did this process remove toxins? I doubt it! It seems a simple case of take your money for putting your feet in water with some salt and a simple electrolysis (?) process. Money for jam as the attendant only has to deal with you at the beginning and end of the process, unlike nails, where they actually have to work.

Did I gain anything from it? Well, surprisingly, my feet weren’t wrinkled like prunes when I took them out, and they did feel good for the next few hours. But that’s it.

Never again.

Supplementary reading:

Weird circular cloud formation

25 08 2014

Spotted this circular cloud on my drive home from the shops the other day. Strange.



Community Quilt 157

24 08 2014

This smallish quilt took ages to quilt, as I stitched in the ditch around EVERY coloured square and the borders. Once I’d done that, I stitched various largish motifs inside each large on-point square, then did a simple meandering stipple  in the white space and in the border.

Just some simple stuff.

(Click on a photo to view it larger)





Threads used:

  • Top: Robison-Anton (40 wt rayon? maroon/burgundy for the stitch in the ditch, and ‘Old Gold’ for the stippled border); Fil-Tec Glide for the white space stipple (40 wt trilobal polyester, ‘Cream’ colour 20001)
  • Bottom: Magna Glide Classic pre-wound (Lead Gray)


Cleaning up ready for summer

22 08 2014

I needed some reticulation (irrigation, for the Americans) work done and have had mixed responses from various contractors. Unreliability has been the big issue — saying they’ll be back ‘next week’ to do the work, never to be seen again. So it was with some trepidation I approached the most recent landscape/garden maintenance contractor, but this time I hit paydirt!

Dave and his team of two guys have now been to the house several times, working through my list of priorities. After getting the sprinkler system sorted out (moving existing sprinklers, adding a new control station to separate the bore stations from the mains, putting in safety valves to prevent the bore water going into the mains water system [why did no-one else pick up this up???]), they started on the list of things to be done that were the ‘nice to haves’ like pruning back all the dead stuff and removing any dead plants. We’re on an acre, so there’s a lot to be done, and my once-a-week efforts to fill up the wheelie bin don’t really make many inroads. Dave and the guys have all the tools to make the job quick and easy, have big trucks and trailers to cart away the green waste, and have better backs for this sort of work than me!

They’ve turned up every time they’ve said they would, they’ve offered advice, they’ve taken initiative, etc. Sure, they charge a little more than some of the other contractors, but I now know I can rely on them to get work done in a timely manner. They also now know the layout of our property intimately (including where all the valves and solenoids etc. are).

I’ve already asked them to put me down for some maintenance again this time next year, prior to the mad rush of summer, when everyone wants their retic system sorted out.

If you live in the greater Bunbury area in Western Australia and need work done, contact Dave at Country Landscaping (




Just a quiet drive into town

22 08 2014

Spotted this guy on the road side of the property fence on my drive into town the other day. We’d had a storm the night before, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he was a bit disorientated.

He was just standing there, I slowed to a stop, then he became the Qantas tail symbol as he bounced away 😉