Aussie update – Aug 23, 2007

1/3 of the way there

It sounds crazy, but I have reached the one-third progress mark on my law degree! That’s two semesters down, and four to go. In the Sept-Dec semester, I will tackle Criminal Law B, Land Law, Remedies, and Obligations.

I am now enjoying 3 short weeks off lectures and assignments during the semester break. My to-do list includes creating a website for Bond’s Law Students Association, and writing the annual newsletter for my Scout troop in Toronto, amongst a number of other errands.

Anna started work with the Queensland government earlier this month, and is really enjoying her projects.

We’re getting wet!

The southeast Queensland region has received significant rainfall over the past several days. From Sunday we have had steady rains and high winds, and the forecast calls for wet weather through Friday. The rain is great news for the garden, and more importantly for water dams. Rainfall since Sunday has ranged from 70mm near Brisbane’s Wivenhoe dam to well over 300mm at Coolangatta on the Gold Coast. It isn’t drought-breaking, but the rain is very welcome towards easing the situation.

All good, right? Well… A solar-powered water heater can be very environmentally-friendly. But the cloudy weather has brought unwelcomed cold showers to our bathroom! A few months ago, Brisbane started level 6 water restrictions – these include a per-person consumption target of 140L per day and a limit of 4 minutes on your shower.

I think the local government has seriously missed out on an opportunity to save more water: A ban on water heaters. We are really good about adhering to the 4 minute limit, but I certainly get out that much faster when all the water is running cold!

Why are books so expensive in Australia?

As mentioned, I’m working on a new website for the Bond LSA. I went looking for a book about the site’s content management system: The same book costs CA$47.99 on Amazon.ca — or a staggering AU$107.95 at my local bookshop’s website. WHY??? I can’t figure it out, but I certainly didn’t buy the book (from either source). On Tuesday I did buy a copy of Mens Health magazine (Aussie edition) for AU$8.50. ACK! And before you say “shipping costs”, I checked already – It’s printed in Australia. If anyone has the answer, please share!

Perhaps the taxes on books are a means of paying for the investments in water infrastructure going on around the country. Either way, finance minister Peter Costello’s budget surplus of AU$17.3 billion (for the Jun’06-Jul’07 tax year) is impressive — that figure was some $3.7 billion higher than anticipated at budget time. About $2 billion arises from lower than budgeted spending, which encompassed lower welfare payments due to strong employment growth, and $1.7 billion from higher tax receipts.

Scouting’s centenary celebrations

On 1-Aug-1907, Scouting’s Founder Robert Baden-Powell blew his kudu horn on Brownsea Island at 08:00 to open the world’s first Scout camp. Wednesday, 1 Aug-2007 marked the centenary of that, and was observed by “Sunrise” ceremonies around the world.

Scouts Queensland celebrated the occasion on Saturday, 4-Aug with a big parade through Brisbane city. Scouts from all over the state came to Brisbane for the parade, fun and games, and a special presentation of the Brisbane Gang Show. The lord mayor Campbell Newman presented the Keys to the City of Brisbane to Scouts Queensland, and the Australian parliament has declared 2008 the “Year of the Scout.”


ACK! Redheads could be extinct in <100 years

This month’s National Geographic magazine reports that under 2% of the world’s population has naturally red hair, and that because of intermingling, redheads could be extinct within 100 years – and perhaps as early as 2060. There were a number of news stories on this topic in 2005, but the topic has resurged in the last few days on the NG report.

Scotland has the highest proportion of redheads at 13% – while the USA’s mere 2% makes it the lowest. The problem is that just 4 percent of the population carries the red hair gene, MC1R. Because the gene is recessive, it is diluted whenever carriers have children with people who have the stronger brown hair gene.

Of course, my own red hair may be gone far sooner than 2060.

If you care

“Musician” Justin Timberlake recently announced his concert tour of Australia, including a stop in Brisbane. The teenage girls must be thrilled. Tickets for the October show go on-sale tomorrow via Ticketek.

Personally, I’m disappointed to have missed The Cure when they were in town on 8-Aug (on account of exam studying). But the Powderfinger / Silverchair show titled “Across the Great Divide” rolls into Brisbane on 31-Aug, so there is solid hope yet for decent music.

My photos have moved

Yahoo! is shutting down its Photos service in favour of Flickr (which Yahoo! bought some time ago). As a consequence, my online photo albums have been moved to a new home. If you have bookmarked the old location, please update your Favorites/Bookmarks links now.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/shunwicks/sets

In closing, Anna and I are enjoying the winter months in Brisbane. Fresh food from the farmers market at West End, plus some good red wines, have meant for terrific meals.

Here’s hoping the summer has been a good one for you, with plenty of fun and relaxation. If not, then get your bum out from behind that desk and head for the beach!!