Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Our household has 12 remote controls. That is a sizable amount given that they only control the entertainment (TVs, videos, DVDs, stereos and a game console) in our home.

Imagine how many remote controls we could amass if we were to invest in air-conditioning units for each room, ceiling fans for each ceiling and various new kitchen devices which are now controlled remotely.

Our lounge room boasts five remote controls. The reason for the large amount is because, over time, we have added the new items to the old items.

For example, our TV is 21 years old and over time we have connected a video player or three and recently we added a DVD player.

We also hooked up the stereo player to this conglomerate so that when we watch DVDs we have that disconcerting cinema-like experience where each speaker takes turns to talk to you.

If you are good at maths, you may be wondering about the fifth remote control.

Well it belongs to one of our deceased video players. However it will work with our current video player which controls the signal to the TV.

The son has been known to lurk about the back of the lounge room armed with this backup remote control and use it to change the TV channel whilst another family member is watching.

Okay, it was funny but only on the first occasion.

The remaining devices are shared amongst the three bedrooms.

There are two things I hate about remote controls.

Firstly, they enjoy a game of hide and seek. And they are really good at that game.
The smaller they are the better they are at slipping down the sides of the recliner rocker lounge chairs or secreting themselves between the pages of a magazine left on the coffee table.

Sure, you can buy those nifty little remote control tidies in the belief that you can contain these elusive objects. You may have seen them advertised in some lesser magazine. They are little unattractive plastic resting places for your various remote controls that some ingenious person created in the hope of making an easy buck.

But do not consider buying one because it will be a complete waste of money. No one in your household is ever going to use it. It will simply get in your way and gather dust.

Remote controls will always be left in and about the chair where the last person to use them has discarded them.

Secondly, I hate remote controls because they don’t always work in a consistent fashion.

You will occasionally find yourself pressing buttons furiously with no result. So then you will begin to twist and turn and lean precariously about your chair hoping that a change of angle will be that vital factor in coaxing the stubborn little device to work.

Finally you will realise that all your tricks are not working. That special angle has evaded you. Pressing harder and harder on the button is merely bruising your finger. And slamming the device sharply on your thigh is hurting you more than that tough little piece of plastic.

So then you will have to admit defeat and actually rise from your chair and walk over to the target and physically press a button on a machine.

I have a very clear memory of the time I saw my first TV remote control in action. I would have been about 8 years old and that was a very long time ago.

Our family didn’t own a TV back then but I had visited homes where these magical machines resided.

One day I accompanied my older sister as she visited a school friend who lived a block away from our home. When we entered the living area of this very tidy house, we came across the father who was seated in his lounge chair watching the TV. I quickly noted that there was a long cord leading from his chair to the TV. The other end of the cord was attached to a little black box in his hand.

Yes, it was a remote control. I was most impressed when I learned that the father could control the TV from the comfort of his lounge chair.

What a progressive family these people were!

When I think back on that day, I feel sure that this prototype remote control had only one function. I believe that its only ability was to control the volume.

Now it is easy for us to scoff at its simplicity but the more I think about that one function remote control, the more I like it.

For me, the most important function on all our controls is the ability to mute the TV ads and to increase or decrease the volume of the programme I am watching according to my needs.

The least important function is the ability to change TV channels. This is especially so when you are seated next to someone in possession of the remote control who decides to surf the channels during the TV ads. The more frantic personality types will simply keep hitting the button and not stop to sample the programmes as they flash up before you.

It is very much like looking out the window of a speeding train. Just as you see something that interests you, it flashes by you leaving you curious and disappointed.

Yes, anyone who has been a victim of that sort of channel surfing behaviour and also a party to the heated discussions it provokes will surely agree with me when I say that we should never have improved upon that prototype remote control.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


Although most of our farm has been cleared for crop production, we have an area of uncleared land where the local fauna and birdlife can live and breed.

Occasionally they will venture closer to the house and yard.

The birds take advantage of the three birdbaths that I strive to keep topped up with water. The honey-eaters feed from the flowers on the native trees and bushes. I have found native plants will survive our current dry seasons and I try to ensure that the plants I chose have bird attracting flowers.

There are a number of native animals residing on the farm including koalas, possums, echidnas, wallabies and kangaroos.

Wallabies visit our house yard to nibble on the grass. Wallabies are macropods (literally meaning big foot) which are smaller and stockier in build compared to kangaroos.

Wallabies are herbivores and belong to the group of animals called marsupials meaning that they carry their young in a pouch.

The wallabies below were often in our yard last year.

I believe that they may be the Black-striped Wallaby (Macropus dorsalis), also known as the Scrub Wallaby.

The joey was soon to large to remain in the pouch.

Below is a wallaby with this year's joey on board.

The end of another day.