The great experiment is nearly over

13 12 2021

See most recent update, dated 21 Jan 2022 (below)

Our protected status is likely to be lifted soon (the actual date is expected to be late Jan/early Feb). From our state’s newspaper a few hours ago:

Mark McGowan is set to announce the date WA’s border will reopen to the rest of Australia and the world at 2pm. WA first introduced a hard border on April 6, 2020 – a measure described by Mr McGowan as “turning WA into its own island within an island” – meaning border controls have now been in place for 616 days and counting.

I hope someone does a case study of what our state did—we have 2.5+ million people living here (more than 2+ million just in the Perth metro area alone), yet we’ve only had just over 1000 COVID cases in almost 2 years, and fewer than 10 deaths from COVID in that same time. We’ve hardly ever worn masks, except for a few lockdowns when we went hard and fast to minimise potential exposure. Our hard borders have WORKED, and our day-to-day life within the state has been ‘normal’ for the past 2 years compared to many parts of the world. The time it brought for us was to get 80%+ of the population over 16 double-vaxxed, with single dose numbers up around 90%.

Our protected status will likely change once the borders reopen and COVID is allowed in. But with the vax rates we have, hopefully, the impact won’t be too dire.

Update: 5 February 2022 is the date we reopen to Australia and the world. From Mark McGowan, State Premier:

This is an incredible milestone for our State. We are one of the most vaccinated societies in the world and we have achieved this without having extended lockdowns, virus outbreaks or any community spread of the virus. We followed a different model to the others and it has worked. We have been able to get through the last two years safely because of the efforts of West Australians.

There will still be quite a lot of travel and large gathering restrictions around vaccination status, testing etc. But it’s a start.

And no, I won’t be getting on a plane to go anywhere in the foreseeable future!

Update 13 Jan 2022 from a press conference by the State Premier, Mark McGowan:

(from: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-01-13/wa-expands-proof-of-vaccination-requirements/100754194)

West Australians will need to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination to access a wide range of venues and events from January 31, Premier Mark McGowan has announced.

Mr McGowan said proof of double-dose vaccination would be required for those aged 16 and older at hospitals, aged care facilities and all hospitality venues, including restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars, taverns, nightclubs and where dine-in fast food is available.

The requirement will also extend to indoor entertainment venues including play centres, gaming and gambling venues including Crown Perth, theatres, concert halls, museums, cinemas and live music venues.

Bottle shops, gyms, fitness centres, health studios, amusement parks and the zoo are also encompassed by the new rules, which already apply to events with more than 500 people, including music festivals and major stadiums.

There will not be many public places unvaccinated people can visit, but they will be permitted to get takeaway food and visit roadhouses and petrol stations.

Community sport and school-based events will also be exempt, unless at one of the specific venues listed.

Mr McGowan said life would become very difficult for the unvaccinated from January 31.

“No pubs, no bottle shops, no gym, no yoga classes, no gigs, no dancefloors, no hospital or aged care visits.

“If you choose to remain unvaccinated, you are choosing to put yourself at risk, you are choosing to put the people around you at risk, and you are choosing to increase the burden on our health staff.”

Mr McGowan said the proof of vaccination requirement would apply statewide and he expected the requirement would be in place “for years to come”.

He also flagged that he expected the vaccination requirement would be expanded to three doses in the future.

Update 21 Jan 2022: Our hard borders are to remain in place for the foreseeable future. Some conditions of entry have changed. On a personal level, I’m happy with this decision, but I know it will cause hardship for some industries and families. But then so would an uncontrolled outbreak of the Omicron variant, as evidenced at the moment in the eastern states where hospitals, supply chains etc. are under extreme pressure because of staff off sick. Full details: https://thewest.com.au/news/coronavirus/mark-mcgowan-delays-wa-border-reopening-indefinitely-over-omicron-fears-c-5387219 and https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-01-20/wa-border-opening-delayed/100771492





My #1 role model — Mum

12 12 2021

My mum has her 90th birthday around Christmas, so we had a family get together this weekend so we could celebrate this milestone without the madness of Christmas commitments getting in the way. Dad (91) asked me and my niece to say a few words. I knew my niece would talk about Mum in her roles as mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, but Mum’s influence on me was different. Here’s what I said (some identifying info has been removed/changed).

***********

Others will talk today about Mum as the best mother, grandmother, and great grandmother. But I’m going to take a different tack and focus on how she influenced me.

I always knew Mum was pretty special just because she’s my Mum, but I only recently found out some more things about her life, before Dad and us. Mum gave me her old high school yearbook, and I found out she’d been a sports house captain in Year 12 and an outstanding netball player. I already knew that she was a bit of a pioneer because not only did she go on to Year 12 when it was very unusual for women to do so, but also to teachers college. In those days, maybe 10% of ALL 14-year-olds went on to tertiary education, and very few of those were women. This was the late 1940s and the [Australian] government was bending all the rules to get returned WW2 servicemen back into the workforce, so for her to get a place at teachers college wouldn’t have been easy. But the [state] government wasn’t so friendly as to let her keep teaching, and she was sacked at the end of 1953. Why? Because she got married! It was Education Department policy that as soon as a female teacher married, they lost their job!!! Not the men… just the women. I think the moment I found out about this, I became a feminist, so I have Mum to thank for that.

Mum has been the best role model a girl could have. She didn’t just say we could do or be anything we wanted—she showed us by her actions. At a time when most women were forced to abandon any thought of a career and live out their lives doing unpaid housework and child rearing, Mum was running businesses with Dad and, for a while, his parents. In [town], she was front of house in the bakery, she looked after the accounts, and she learnt cake decorating. With Nana B she decorated countless wedding cakes, dipped hundreds of thousands of lamingtons, and filled countless cream puffs (those Italians in [town] had BIG weddings!) Did I also mention she ran the house, did all the cooking (most on a wood stove) and laundry (by hand, in a copper also heated by wood fire, until she got a washing machine), and reared 2 children? And that she likely didn’t get a salary?

When they were in their mid-late 30s, she and Dad upped stumps and moved to [larger town] to start a new completely different venture in the [name] shopping centre—a newsagency that wasn’t allowed to sell newspapers! After 7 years, they had one of the biggest newsagencies in [the state], based on turnover. And after many years of fighting bureaucracy and local newsagents, they finally got the OK to sell newspapers. Again, Mum quietly ran the business and money side of it all (buying stock, doing all the accounts, dealing with the reps), as well as being behind the counter with Dad. Later came [another town] and [a caravan park], which they ran for 8 years, turning it from a run-down caravan park into a thriving business. Again, Mum ran the business side of things, from bookings (often getting a phone call after 10pm when someone decided that they needed to book right now for the Christmas holidays) through to everything to do with the accounts. In all of this, there were no computers, just an adding machine, ledgers and booking books, and pens, pencils, and erasers, lots of erasers as bookings got changed around and vans and campsites got shifted around on paper—everything was done by hand and it all took a lot of time and nous to juggle it all.

After they retired, Mum and Dad were very involved in volunteer groups. Mum continued to look after their finances, and she still does. She was born in the Depression and lived her early years in what we would now term extreme poverty on a farm in the middle of nowhere at the back of [town in the wheatbelt]. Her South African parents had migrated just a few years before, and Nana P (her Mum) spoke almost no English when she arrived. From Mum’s experience growing up in the Depression years came a deep-seated belief in never wasting money—if you couldn’t afford it, you couldn’t have it. Speaking of frugal, in the early days after the [Australian] $50 note was released in 1973, it was very rare to see one, possibly because Mum stashed every one that she found in the businesses into a sanitary napkin box under the bathroom sink! There were no point-of-sale machines then to track what money came in and went out! She did the same with the early 50c coins, which were predominantly silver until the government realised they cost way more to produce than their face value—she had a stash of those too! I told you she was my role model!

Because of Mum’s business acumen and astuteness with money, their retirement years (until COVID hit) have been filled with travel all over the world and they’ve never wanted for anything. Despite paying untold taxes all their lives, they’ve never received a pension or government concession card. And Mum still watches the pennies, sniffing out things on sale.

Through all of this, Mum and Dad have stood together like a rock. I’m sure they had their ups and downs, but as kids, we never got to see that (except one time with the lemon meringue pie! [and no, I won’t elaborate]). They were a united front in everything and a formidable force as a couple. They love each other deeply, and have loved all their family as deeply, and they’ve been very proud of us all.

So, Mum, you’ve been the best role model a girl could have—you’ve walked the walk, not just talked the talk, and I’m very very proud when people say ‘you’re just like your Mum’, because while, for them, I may look like you, in my heart I know that it’s much more than that.

********

More information on coppers and other laundry paraphernalia, most of which I remember from my childhood in rural Australia (by the time I went to university, washing machines were common, typically a Twin Tub):

The wood stove Mum cooked on was a Metters No 2: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-12-22/the-enduring-charm-of-metters-wood-fired-stoves/8117478

[Links last checked December 2021]





Feeling vindicated

1 12 2021

Feeling vindicated and very glad software testing was a de facto part of my job as a tech writer. We got a new air conditioning (AC) controller just under 2 weeks ago to better control the temperatures and airflow in each zone. The office zone worked fine; the living area… not so much. It was way too cold early in the morning when the outside temp was <15C and way too hot if the outside temp was >25C. The living area temp was set to 22C (cool mode), but I was recording up to 6C above or below that set temp. And our summer temps haven’t kicked in yet.

I recorded data—lots of data… temps at various spots in the house, weather bureau outside temps, power usage. A pattern began to form (patterns are good—you can narrow things down with a good pattern!). The patterns showed that the office temps were fine and within tolerances, and the issue was definitely the living area. I took photos of the controller’s settings, a video of the almost non-existent air flow from the outlets in the living area, and deduced that something was wrong in the roof space—either the ductwork for the living area, or on the new ‘motherboard’ control unit installed up there. I sent all my data and deductions to the AC people on Sunday.

The bloke from the AC company came out today. We talked about many things AC-related (and I learnt a lot), but he wasn’t really convinced the issue was in the roof until he’d eliminated everything else, which he did. Next stop, the roof space. And there he found an entire piece of ducting was NOT connected to the main ductwork. He showed me photos he took up there and I wanted to fist pump the air because I KNEW that was likely one of the 2 main causes I’d already figured out.

After he reconnected it all, we immediately had lovely cool airflow into the living area. On behalf of the company, he was most apologetic, and said he would definitely be having words with the installer and the apprentice, would be bringing it up in a staff meeting, AND would supply us with another sensor (about $150) for the 3rd zone for free.