Wednesday, July 31, 2013

An Update on the anti-McDonalds Protests in Tecoma

The fight continues in Tecoma.

Last Sunday a march was held as a show of support for those protesting the demolition of existing buildings and the construction of a McDonald's on Burwood Highway. Estimates of how many turned up vary greatly - from 1,000 to 4,000.

Media attention has been somewhat gratifying: Front page stories in The Herald and The Age (major newspapers here) and stories/interviews on TV and radio.

On Monday, protestors again mounted the roofs of one of the buildings scheduled for demolition, and once again the construction company sent their workers home, siting safety concerns.

At any time you can drive by and find at least a handful of placard-carrying protestors who wave and smile at passers-by. The Facebook page set up by members of the community continues to pump news about what is happening, and notes encouraging people to come down and spend some time on the picket line. (If you're a Facebook fan, look for posts on "NO McDonalds in the Dandenong Ranges").

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Laka's "Monstah" - Caught on Film

Hubby Stephen plays chess one evening a week down in Ferntree Gully.  He came home a little early from the latest meeting, having defeated his opponent in the current tournament.  I heard his car come down the drive and heard him come in, but then heard the door open again and the sound of his footsteps going back to the garage, then up the drive! 

This was odd - it's pitch black here at night, and I couldn't imagine what he was after - but when he came back in, he was delighted to tell me he'd spotted something perched on the power cable above the road.  He'd run up with his camera and got this shot:

(click the photo above for a larger image)

A tawny frogmouth!  One of Laka's "monstahs" - who we (and she) hear at night as they fly around the house, hunting.  I love the expression on this one's face - a mixture of surprise and annoyance.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

An Ant's Worst Nighmare

You never know when they'll pop up.  We know we have at least one echidna on our property - a creature I mentioned last February, who I've named "Spiny Norman" (after a Monty Python character).

Late in the summer another appeared in a neighbors yard:

This little guy made a bit of a mess - dug into our friend's lawn, scratching away looking for some tasty ants.  Well, you can't live in this area and expect to have a perfect lawn, I guess.

These creatures are sweet.  Slow moving and benign (well maybe not to ants or to anybody foolish enough to try and interfere with them - those spines mean business!).

I just wish they'd go after the bull ants!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Subtle Hints - Avian Style

We spent the weekend in the city, took the birds with us and turned the heating off here (no point in heating an empty house).  We came back Sunday night just about the time George and Laka normally go to bed.  It was 9C both outside and inside the house (nippy by anybody's standards).  We hustled the birds in from the car and took them straight up to their bed cages, moved George's bed cage into Laka's room (actually - a guest bathroom, but where we usually have Laka's bed cage) and turned on the heater we have on the wall.

After unloading the rest of the things from the car, I went in quietly to make sure the room was getting warmer. As I backed out of the room, from George's cage came his tinny voice - loud and clear:

"Are you COLD?  HmmmMMM?"

"Yes, George," I replied, "but the heating is on and it will be warm again soon.  I promise."

The heater did its job and just a few minutes later I could hear the sound of two not-so-little beaks grinding contentedly in the darkened room.

(Side note: George doesn't regularly communicate in English that clearly - but both he and Laka are capable of it and, when it suits them, this is the kind of exchange we get. It's not "parroting" or "mimicry" - George and Laka are both able to use "language" appropriately. I've lived with parrots long enough that I expect it.)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Goodbye Julia - and Damn You Maccas!

If you happen to be at all interested in what's going on in Australia, you may have noticed that we suddenly have a new Prime Minister: Kevin Rudd.

It all happened last week - in a flash.

To my American audience, let me frame this for you: the president is getting a lot of bad press and lots of people tell him to step down.  He decides he's had enough and calls a special meeting at which time the political party he belongs to says "yeah - we want you out" and basically throw him out in favor of somebody else.  Well.. .it's a BIT more complicated than that, but you get the drift.

In the morning Julia Gillard was Prime Minister. That night she was "ousted" (she called one of "those meetings") and the next morning Kevin Rudd was sworn in.

Wild, eh?

Part of what makes this interesting is that just a couple of years ago it was Kevin who was ousted in favor of Julia. Done exactly the same way and with exactly that speed.


I hate this and love it all at the same time. I liked Julia - OK, maybe I'm in the minority, but I really liked her. Can't say I liked the way she came to power initially (ousting Kevin), but I think she's actually been pretty good. And I hate the turn of events that has brought her down (and will always believe most of it was her gender - she was the first female PM here). 

But... I love the fact that Australians are able to make a change like this happen without having months and months of impeachment hearings, tying up the representatives forever and so on. It was ugly, but it's over. Done and dusted.

And, if you can find it online (it's available at the moment), go listen to Julia's speech, acknowledging her defeat. It's one of the best, most moving political speeches I've ever heard. Made me damned proud of her.


And here's a bit you probably haven't heard of.

McDonalds has come here to the hills where I live and gotten a piece of land, planning to build a restaurant. The locals here are upset. Most of us seem to be opposed to having a "Maccas" here. It really doesn't fit in well with the surrounds. This is an area of tiny family-owned businesses (mostly) - which are open for certain hours of the day and then close down.  Drive down the main drag thru the villages here late at night and everything is closed. I like that. It seems to me to be civilised, nice.

A 24/7 Maccas just doesn't fit. It just doesn't.

Over the last several months there've been many protests and legal challenges to allowing a Maccas here. Even the local council ruled against the commercial giant, but was overturned by a "higher power" known as "VCAT" (I won't try to explain this now... too complicated... ).

Y'day I drove past the site where the Maccas will be. There are buildings already there which will be torn down - and many members of the community were there protesting again, as they have many times over these past months.

It's futile.  Maccas will win.

And it's sad.  We really don't need Maccas here - it will be a blight on the community.

I wish the higher-ups at Maccas had a soul. I wish they understood, and wish that for once they'd just gracefully disappear. They could have. That multi-gazillion dollar corporation would surely survive without establishing a foothold in Tecoma, where they are sooooo not wanted.

But no - the buildings are being demolished - the restaurant will be built. The locals will continue to protest and over time will finally give up in the face of massive global commercialization.

It's heart-breaking.

The full story is here, on the "BurgerOff" website (and don't you just love the name of the website?)

And I'll make this statement.  I like McDonalds. I really do. I don't eat there a lot, but once every few months I really want a Big Mac or just a cheeseburger and fries. And I indulge. I will continue to - but it won't be at THIS store. No. I'm way to damned pissed off.