Friday, September 21, 2007

Waiting for planes

I had to go to Launceston at short notice recently. The flight leaving that evening was booked out and I had to wait till next day and travel by the rival carrier. Which was good for I later heard that the previous evening's flight was delayed for six hours. Six hours! How can a domestic flight be delayed for six hours?

All lined up but going nowhere

Now I am not a world traveller, always in the air, millions of frequent flier points. I was practically middle-aged when I first flew in an aeroplane and since then have been in the air only infrequently. Hardly a frequent flier. But even so, it hasn't always been smooth flying. And delays? Yes!!
Was booked on Air India to fly out of Sydney to London some years back. I was scheduled to land in London in the morning in time for an appointment later that day. It was important that I be there on time. I arrived in Sydney to be told there would be a delay. “A delay!! How long a delay?” “That's hard to say'” was the reply, “the plane's still in Bombay!” I was able to transfer to a Qantas flight and got there just in time.
Once while waiting in Dublin, Ireland, I noticed the man next to me continually looking at his watch and seeming disturbed. “Worried about waiting?” I asked him. “Not really,” he replied, “I'm waiting for my brother to come from Sydney. He's been out of the country for thirty years and I mightn't recognize him.” “He probably won't recognize you either,” I suggested. “No worries there,” he assured me, “I've not been out of the country at all.”
More recently son Peter and I had completed a 10 day holiday in China and were waiting at the hotel for the bus to take the group to Beijing airport for the flight home. Our tour leader appeared with the message, “There's been a delay!” Our plane was still in Sydney. It had missed the curfew the night before and it (and its passengers ) had to wait till next morning before being allowed to take off. At least we had an extra day in Beijing.

There was movement at Frankfurt – teutonic punctuality?

Maybe when we have fully automatic, computerized planes, waiting will be a thing of the past. Passengers will be automatically called to board – on time. The plane will taxi automatically to its start point and then take off on time at the say-so of a computer somewhere. When in the air a voice will come over the PA system: “Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen. Welcome on board this fully automatic flight where everything is controlled by computer. Sit back and relax. Nothing can go wrong....go wrong....go wrong....go wrong.....

Monday, September 17, 2007


I am sitting here with one eye blacked out as a result of a cataract operation performed yesterday by the ophthalmologist. (Now there's a tongue-twister of an occupation. Not easy to know what he might do for a living. Not like, take for example, candle-stick-maker. One knows straight away what he does.) This present situation brought to mind my recent visit to Launceston and its premier tourist attraction – the Cataract Gorge. I also have in the back of my mind that someone once told me I had gorgeous eyes. I think gorgeous was the word used!
Isn't it one of those strange quirks of language that a word (here: cataract) should have two widely different meanings with no apparent connection? Why should the medical condition of my eyes where the lenses become clouded over be called the same as water rushing over some impediment?
It seems that the etymologists (they don't make candles either!) can't answer this question satisfactorily either. One online etymology dictionary (www. gives: “1430, from L. cataracta “waterfall”, from Gk. Katarhaktes “swooping, rushing down,” from kata “down” + arhattein “to strike hard.” Its alternate sense in L. of “portcullis” was probably passed through M.Fr. to form the E. meaning “eye disease” (1547), on the notion of “obstruction.” “ These etymologist people seem to write in a special sort of language.
My theory is simply that the crystal clear stream becomes opaque when it tumbles through a cataract. Maybe all will become clear to me when my eye recovers. I probably first came across cataracts in my early geography lessons where one learned about the cataracts on the Nile river. There was the first cataract, the second, and so on. I can't quite remember exactly how many there were. Which is purely academic for they made a DAM mess of them years ago.
My photo below shows some quiet water in Launceston's Cataract Gorge and the one above some opaque water at the foot of the Krimmel waterfall, Austria's highest. And no, I don't think anyone has ever told me I have (or even HAD) gorgeous eyes.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Season of Creation

Ah, spring-time!
“The spring has sprung,
The grass is riss
I wonder where the birdies iss.
They say the bird is on the wing,
But that's absurd.
I know the wing is on the bird.”

There is no doubt that spring can bring out the beauty of nature – especially in those areas where the seasons are visually marked. I've just arrived back from two weeks in Launceston where spring is very obviously bursting in. This visual excitement of springtime is probably one reason why an increasing number of Christian churches has designated September as the Season of Creation.

Season of Creation? Well, the Christian church year has had various “seasons” - Advent, Christmas, Lent, Pentecost – and this new addition serves to focus on God the Creator and humankind's relationship with their home planet. The idea was first mooted back in 2000 by a Lutheran theologian, Dr Norman Habel, and since then has been meeting with more and more acceptance. (www.

In a three-year cycle each Sunday in September will focus on one aspect of our planet. My photos below depict the four themes in the first cycle.

Forest Sunday
Mature buttress roots keeping aloft a giant in the rain-forest behind the Gold Coast.
“O sing unto the Lord a new song.[....] Let the field be joyful and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the Lord”. (Ps. 96: 1, 12-13.)

Land Sunday
“Praise the Lord from the earth, ye dragons and all deeps: fire and hail; snow and vapour; stormy winds fulfilling his word; mountains, and all hills;” ( Ps. 148: 7-9) Mt Warning in northern New South Wales stands as a silent sentinel above the surrounding farmland.

Outback/wilderness Sunday
Of outback, Australia has plenty. Barren rock, and persistent shrubs are seen here in south-west Queensland near Quilpie.
“Be still and know that I am God”. (Ps. 46,10)

River Sunday
The chattering course of Cedar Creek as it leaves Mt Tambourine in the Gold Coast hinterland.
“He watereth the hills from his chambers; the earth is satisfied with the fruits of thy works”. (Ps. 104, 13)