Yet Another “Reason” to Return to the Office

The Australian Financial Review, like its US counterpart the Wall Street Journal, tends to take the side of unfettered capitalism in every matter. Last week they published an opinion piece by Nick Coatsworth (“Nine’s Network Medical Expert and is completing a doctoral thesis on the first seventy days of Australia’s COVID 19 crisis response. He is the former Deputy Chief Health Office of Australia.”) titled Why WFH is likely to be bad for your health with the subhead “Instead of offering a holy grail of flexibility and work-life balance, what if WFH [work from home] might lead us to an early grave by actually increasing stress and decreasing our fitness?”

Oh dear oh dear oh dear.

I wrote to the AFR’s editors and opinions editors, so far have not heard back from them. So I’ll use my own tiny platform here to publish my response:

Continue reading Yet Another “Reason” to Return to the Office

School Uniforms

All schools in Australia, public and private, require students to wear uniforms. For boys, this is a collared shirt in white or a light color with the school crest embroidered on the chest, worn with trousers or shorts in the school colors or gray. Socks are white or gray, or white banded with the school colors. There are jackets and jumpers (translation for Americans: sweatshirts, also called Sloppy Joes in Australia – ?!?) for when the weather’s cooler.

Primary school students are required to wear hats outdoors, which may be baseball caps or cricket hats. Primary schools are very strict about this: “No hat, no play.” It’s to get the kids early into the habit of avoiding exposure to Australia’s fierce sun. High school students can buy hats, but getting teenagers to wear them is no longer the teachers’ responsibility.

Continue reading School Uniforms

Gardening in Sydney

Featuring my Mastodon posts about my garden, in reverse chron order. You can follow me on Mastodon.

This page is slow to load!

(I later realized that I could replant these tiny carrots and let them continue growing, we’ll know in a few months how that works out.)

I like to have papaya in my morning smoothies (and occasionally eat it plain with a squeeze of lime). It’s a tropical plant, so we’ll see whether it survives what passes for winter in increasingly warm Sydney.

Perhaps my permaculture-inspired planting of flowers to attract pollinators helped.

Some of these have popped up in places I don’t recall planting them. I don’t know whether they have somehow self-seeded from other parts of the garden, or have ended up here because I gave up on starting them indoors, then reused the soil to raise other seedlings which then got transplanted into the garden, along with residual sunflowers seeds which, many months later, grew.

Spoiler alert: No we didn’t.

It did not survive in the pot.

I don’t actually like peas, but Brendan and Mitchell do.

The flame pea was immediately eaten by slugs. I moved it back into a pot and indoors, it’s still recovering.

I ended up not liking the full grown cerinthe plant all that much, but it has reseeded itself so there will be more.

Cronulla Ocean Views

When we first moved to Australia, we’d been in lockdown (some of it self-imposed) for most of 2020. We had rarely ventured beyond our own home and yard. The pandemic was still going on and we knew that a lockdown could occur in Sydney as well — Melbourne at the time was well into its record as the longest shut-down city in the world. So we wanted to ensure that, if we got stuck at home again, we’d have something more to look at than suburban fences. We rented an apartment on the Esplanade between North and South Cronulla beaches, right over the ocean pools.

There were downsides. The apartment building was vintage 1970s, with poorly caulked single-paned aluminum windows — strong winds off the ocean were felt inside, accompanied by whistling and howling. This became nerve-wracking during the days-long storms we got as a result of La Niña. In better weather, we were occasionally awakened in the middle of the night by drunk teenagers screaming and splashing in the ocean pools.

But the view was glorious, ever-changing with the seasons, weather, and tides. My office space was a small desk next to the balcony with floor-to-ceiling windows, and I had a lot of early meetings to work with my US colleagues, so I saw many sunrises over Bate Bay, as well as the endless entertainment of surfers, swimmers, paddleboarders, kayakers, and the occasional dolphins.

When we bought our house in April 2022, we realized we’d be losing that view. I set up my old iPhone X on a tripod on the balcony, and began shooting as many hours of video as I could, almost daily from April through early July when we finally moved into our new house. We had an idea that in the new place we’d set up a screen and a video server to automatically play the files so that we could continue to enjoy those views. So far we haven’t got around to any of that, but I’ve started to upload the videos to YouTube. You can see the (slowly growing) playlist here:

Deirdré Straughan on Italy, India, the Internet, the world, and now Australia