Thursday, May 21, 2020

Thought for the Day

Funny Friday


What’s this? It’s not Friday!

Yes, you are right, dear readers, but I will be without my laptop for a day or two from Thursday whilst the priests of the new religion, ie the computer geeks, replace my hard drive and transfer all the data. 

Knowing that my dad-in-law, Noel, likes his weekly Friday fix of humour, Funny Friday comes to you on Thursday instead of Friday.

Hopefully it won’t be too disorienting.

Which reminds me of an oldie but a goodie (which is pretty much also a description of my father-in-law). . .

Three old men were walking.
One remarked "Windy, ain't it?"
"No," the second man replied, "It's Thursday."
"So am I." said the third man, "Let's go have a drink."

A similar one . . .

Charlie: "I just bought the most expensive, high-tech hearing aids available."
Eddie: "No shit! What kind is it?"
Charlie: "Quarter past nine."



I finally left my house to go out to the store this week, and who do I see but my pastor comes walking over to me with a Bible under his arm.

And this fella, he says to me, 'I haven't seen you in church recently.'

Well that made me mad, because you know, anybody who knows me knows that I've been in my house for the last two months with the virus going around. And he can tell I'm mad, but that doesn't stop him.

This fella goes to hand me his Bible, and he says 'A man of your age and your condition, I think you need to start thinking about the hereafter. Now, I've outlined a few passages that I think you ought to read.'

But I pushed it back into his hands, and I say 'Pastor. You can keep your Bible. I don't need it. I think about the hereafter every damn day. First thing when I wake up in the morning, I walk into the kitchen, then I go into the bathroom, then I go into my bedroom again, then I go back into the kitchen and stand there looking into the icebox for twenty damn minutes wondering....
“Now what was I hereafter?' 


The sky was looking ominous so I asked Siri, “Surely, it’s not going to rain again today?”
She replied, “Yes, it is and don’t call me Shirley!”

I guess I left my phone in Airplane mode again...


Two elderly women were eating breakfast in a restaurant one morning.
Ethel noticed something funny about Mabel's ear and said, "Mabel, did you know you've got a suppository in your left ear? "
Mabel answered, "I have a suppository?"
She pulled it out and stared at it.
Then she said, "Ethel, I'm glad you saw this thing. Now I think I know where my hearing aid is."


When I said you were a suppository of knowledge,
I meant you were great at talking out your ass.

I added this joke not because it is a great bit of humour but because our great and glorious leader, Tony Abbott, who was Prime Minister of Oz in the years 2013-2015, was quoted in 2013 as having said:  "No one, however smart, however well-educated, however experienced … is the suppository of all wisdom."

It was dubbed overseas as The Blunder from Down Under, as well as prompting comments that he had hit a bum note, was talking out of his arse again and that he let one rip.



Actual Church Bulletin Headlines . . .

The 1991 Spring Council retreat will be hell May 10 and 11.

Pastor is on vacation. Massages can be given to church secretary.

The ladies of the church have cast-off clothing of every kind and they may be seen in the church basement Friday.

Don’t let worry kill you. Let the Church help.

The associate minister unveiled the church’s new tithing campaign slogan last Sunday: 
"I Upped My Pledge - Now Up Yours"

A new loudspeaker system has been installed in the Church. It was given by one of our members in honor of his wife.

Weight Watchers will meet at 7 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church.
 Please use large double door at the side entrance.

The senior choir invites any member of the congregation who enjoys sinning to join the choir.

At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be "What is Hell?"
 Come early and listen to our choir practice.

Irving Beltson and Jessie were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.

The Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B.S.



Bill has worked in a pickle factory for several years. One day he confesses to his wife that he has a terrible urge to stick his penis into the pickle slicer. His wife suggests that he see a therapist to talk about it, but Bill vows to overcome this rash desire on his own.

A few weeks later, Bill returns home absolutely ashen. His wife asks, "What's wrong, Bill?"

"Do you remember how I told you about my tremendous urge to put my penis into the pickle slicer?"

His wife gasps, "My God, Bill, what happened?"

"I got fired."

"No, Bill -- I mean, what happened with the pickle slicer?"

"She got fired, too."



There once was a girl who intended
To keep herself morally splendid
And ascend into glory,
Which is quite a good story,
Except that that’s not how it ended.






Contribution by Kate:

What do you call 10  rabbits marching backwards?
A receding hare line.


Fool your wife into thinking you can speak chimpanzee, by stepping into a piping hot bath too quickly


Attila walks into a quaint Southern diner.

Waitress says, “What can I get you, Hun?”


What do you call somebody with no body, And No Nose?

(Yes, I know I should be shot for that).


My wife said she was leaving me because I can’t do anything right when it comes to housework! Selfish woman!!
It took me hours to mop that carpet!!


An archaeologist is visiting a small town in Nevada. He's just ambling around, enjoying the play of the autumn light on the terracotta and adobe-colored buildings. He rounds a corner and is surprised to see the most, bar none, stunningly beautiful alley he's ever come across...
It may sound like he's a bit nerdy, but we all have our things we love and he's a lover of old streets.

The ground of the alley is a light orange in hue, with a soft almost nutty sheen and texture.

His feet feel refreshed!

The street has gorgeous slopes and embankments, like an alleyway out of Florence in the 1500s, but made out of clay stones.

He sees two gentlemen working on fixing a small crack in the street, the only blemish for blocks.

One of them is pounding down the clay with a wide-head sledgehammer, thwap thwap!

The other is on his knees with a compass and a pick and a broom, adjusting the grade of the street material.

He interrupts them to say, "Excuse me gentlemen! I hate to be a bother, but I just want to applaud your hard work on this alleyway. It's rare a city takes such good care with its streets and this one is one of the best."

The man with the sledge stops and says, "Well, we appreciate that sir. You know your streets, it seems! Would it surprise you to know that the composition of this street is not adobe? It's mulched with our native nut trees, the cashew nut. That's what gives it its softness. When it rains, the petrichor has a slight sweetness due to the cashew, and the town smells fantastic. I'm just hammering it down before it gets too cold."

"Well, I'll be!" cried the archaeologist. "And what's that fellow up to?" pointing to the man on his knees.

"Oh him! He's in charge of checking the grade of the clay. If it's too rough, he picks and sweeps it. Backbreaking work. We hire four of them, one for each season. And since autumn just arrived, he's got a few months yet. So you see..."

And here the man paused...

"So you hammered alley is really 'cashews clay'. And he is the gradist."

"The gradist...of fall time."


Thank you ladies and gents, you’ve been a wonderful audience, catch you when my ‘puter is back.


Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Quote for the Day

Poetry Spot

One from the vault . . .

The sentiments expressed below do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of myself or of Bytes.  
Okay, Kate?

The GPS Poem
   - Jim Grenfell

I have a little GPS
I’ve had it all my life
It’s better than the normal ones
My GPS is my wife

It gives me full instructions
Especially how to drive
“It’s sixty k’s an hour”, it says
“You’re doing sixty five”

[Alternative verse from moi:

It gives me full instructions
Especially how to drive
"Stay under sixty, there's always police
On Namatjira Drive."]

It tells me when to stop and start
And when to use the brake
And tells me that it’s never ever
Safe to overtake

It tells me when a light is red
And when it goes to green
It seems to know instinctively
Just when to intervene

It lists the vehicles just in front
And all those to the rear
And taking this into account
It specifies my gear..

I’m sure no other driver
Has so helpful a device
For when we leave and lock the car
It still gives its advice.

It fills me up with counseling
Each journey’s pretty fraught
So why don’t I exchange it
And get a quieter sort?

Ah well, you see, it cleans the house,
Makes sure I’m properly fed,
It washes all my shirts and things
And – lets me have a shed.

Despite all these advantages
And my tendency to scoff,
I do wish that once in a while
I could turn the damned thing off.


    - Zorian Alexis

After hours of extensive research
And following many a clue,
I've finally discovered the source
Of the new pandemic flu.

It was concocted by our pets,
Forcing us to stay at home.
Always at their beck and call,
Never free to roam.

No room in the house is safe,
For they follow you about.
They are a constant shadow.
They think you can't do without.

They look at you with greedy eyes,
Imploring you for a treat,
And though you try, you can't avoid it,
So just admit defeat.

Alas, until the cure is found,
The master has become slave.
Our pets are now teaching us
How we should behave.


Monday, May 18, 2020

Quote for the Day



Dear Readers, 

I was without the use of my laptop for the whole of the day on Sunday and for most of the evening. Although it was accepting power, it wouldn’t let me enter, log on or open anything. I was afraid that, like the Monty Python parrot, it had shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the computer choir invisible, that it was an ex-laptop. 

With court documents due to be filed, I called in Geeks2U, their chap coming to my home at 7.45pm. These computer tech people are the modern day priests of the new religion.  He managed to bring it back to operational status, diagnosing that an update had gone awry and locked up everything. I also need to have my hard drive replaced and this will happen at the end of this week, which means that I will be without my laptop. 

If Bytes is missing for a few days, that will be the reason. 


RIP Arthur Summons:

‘Who is Arthur Summons?’ I hear you say. 

Arthur Summons (13 December 1935 – 16 May 2020) played for Australia in both Rugby Union and Rugby League and captained the Australian national Rugby League team in five undefeated test matches from 1962 until 1964. He also later also coached the side. 

What he is probably best known for and what will be remembered is that he is one half of the two Rugby League players in an iconic photograph known as “The Gladiators”: 

From Wikipedia: 

Summons is the subject of one of the most memorable sporting photographic images ever captured in Australia. The 1963 NSW Rugby League Premiership grand final between long term rivals Western Suburbs and St George was played in a torrential downpour on Saturday, 24 August. This, combined with the fact that the centre cricket pitch area of Sydney Cricket Ground was notoriously muddy in such conditions, ensured that the players were not only saturated but also caked in mud from head to toe. At the conclusion of the hard-fought match, which was won by St George, the captains of the two teams, the very tall Norm Provan and more diminutive Summons, embraced in appreciation of each other's stoic efforts. The moment was captured by a newspaper photographer, John O'Gready, and published in the following day's Sun Herald. Subsequently, the image won several awards, becoming known as The Gladiators. Summons later said that The Gladiators is actually Summons complaining about the referee's decision to Provan. This image was the inspiration for the current premiership trophy's bronze statue. 

Summons left the arena last Saturday aged 84 after a battle with cancer. 

The Provan-Summons Trophy 

Norm Provan and Arthiur Summons


Ejection Dysfunction: 

Son Thomas has taken me to task for not including the following story in the “I read the news today, oh boy” posts in the last couple of weeks, although he had sent me the link and mentioned it in conversation as well. 

A 64 year old civilian defence company executive was given a surprise gift by colleagues: a flight in a fighter jet. It couldn’t have been cheap. The man had never expressed any desire to fly in a fighter jet and had no previous military aviation experience, according to a later investigation, but he felt it impolite to refuse. 

The man pictured before takeoff.

His heart was racing at between 120 and 145 beats per minute before the takeoff. 

Now takeoffs by fighter jets are not the same as a takeoff by a propeller small aircraft, or even a propeller big aircraft. 

No sirree. 

This fighter jet reached about 1,300ft (400 metres), seconds after setting out from Saint-Dizier air base in north-eastern France in March 2019 and was flying at over 500km/h (320mph). 

The takeoff generated 3.7g of force, which I understand is a lot of force, a helluva lot of force. So much force that there were medial warnings, ignored, that the passenger should not be subjecting himself to that level of force. 

To compound matters, the investigation found, the seat straps were too loose, causing the passenger to float up as the jet took off. This caused him to stand up and make him want to grab hold of something to steady himself. That “something” that he grabbed happened to be the ejection handle. 

The 64-year-old civilian got the most unwelcome ride of his life after the force of the take-off made him “float” off his seat, causing him to stand up and involuntarily grab the ejection handle to steady himself. 

As he was ejected, he also lost his helmet. 

Ejection point during takeoff

His parachute deployed and he had a relatively soft landing in a nearby field, avoiding serious injury, before being taken to hospital. 

A malfunction prevented the pilot from being automatically ejected too and he was able to land the plane on the runway despite the involuntary departure of his passenger and the loss of the cockpit canopy. 

There is no verification that as he was ejected, there was a cry of “MEEEEEEEEEEERRRRDDDDE!!!”

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Quote for the Day

Looking Back: The Spanish Flu, 1918

World War 1 officially ended on November 11, 1918. When peace was finally negotiated and the Armistice signed, celebrations filled the cities. More sombre Peace Day commemorations followed after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles formalised the end of hostilities.

Rumours of Germany's surrender spread on Friday 8 November 1918. In Sydney and suburbs cheering crowds filled the streets and many businesses closed to allow staff to participate. Eventually the crowds dispersed when there was no official recognition.

Crowds in Martin Place, Sydney on False Alarm Friday, November 8, 1918

On the evening of Monday 11 November 1918 official news was received in Australia that the Armistice had been signed. Church bells rang, trains and ferries sounded their horns and cheering crowds assembled in every neighbourhood. Huge crowds poured into the city and choked all major streets for several hours.

Armistice celebrations in Martin Place 11 November 1918

Some WW1 statistics:

Population (millions)
Total deaths
(incl civilian)
New Zealand
United Kingdom

The above figures include civilian deaths and deaths subsequently through malnutrition etc that were war-related.  Where a range of figures has been provided, I have used the upper figure.

Then the Spanish Flu hit.


Some facts and comments about the Spanish Flu. . .


The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, the deadliest in history, infected an estimated 500 million people worldwide—about one-third of the planet’s population—and killed an estimated 20 million to 50 million victims, including some 675,000 Americans.


The 1918 flu was first observed in Europe, the United States and parts of Asia before swiftly spreading around the world. At the time, there were no effective drugs or vaccines to treat this killer flu strain. Citizens were ordered to wear masks, schools, theatres and businesses were shuttered and bodies piled up in makeshift morgues before the virus ended its global spread.


During the flu pandemic of 1918, the New York City health commissioner tried to slow the transmission of the flu by ordering businesses to open and close on staggered shifts to avoid overcrowding on the subways.


The first wave of the 1918 pandemic occurred in the spring and was generally mild. The sick, who experienced such typical flu symptoms as chills, fever and fatigue, usually recovered after several days, and the number of reported deaths was low.

However, a second, highly contagious wave of influenza appeared with a vengeance in the fall of that same year. Victims died within hours or days of developing symptoms, their skin turning blue and their lungs filling with fluid that caused them to suffocate. In just one year, 1918, the average life expectancy in America plummeted by a dozen years.


It’s unknown exactly where the particular strain of influenza that caused the pandemic came from; however, the 1918 flu was first observed in Europe, America and areas of Asia before spreading to almost every other part of the planet within a matter of months.


One unusual aspect of the 1918 flu was that it struck down many previously healthy, young people—a group normally resistant to this type of infectious illness—including a number of World War I servicemen.

In fact, more U.S. soldiers died from the 1918 flu than were killed in battle during the war. Forty percent of the U.S. Navy was hit with the flu, while 36 percent of the Army became ill, and troops moving around the world in crowded ships and trains helped to spread the killer virus.


Although the death toll attributed to the Spanish flu is often estimated at 20 million to 50 million victims worldwide, other estimates run as high as 100 million victims—around 3 percent of the world’s population. The exact numbers are impossible to know due to a lack of medical record-keeping in many places.


The Spanish Flu did not originate in Spain, though news coverage of it did. During World War I, Spain was a neutral country with a free media that covered the outbreak from the start, first reporting on it in Madrid in late May of 1918. Meanwhile, Allied countries and the Central Powers had wartime censors who covered up news of the flu to keep morale high. Because Spanish news sources were the only ones reporting on the flu, many believed it originated there (the Spanish, meanwhile, believed the virus came from France and called it the “French Flu.”)


When the 1918 flu hit, doctors and scientists were unsure what caused it or how to treat it. Unlike today, there were no effective vaccines or antivirals, drugs that treat the flu. The first licensed flu vaccine appeared in America in the 1940s. By the following decade, vaccine manufacturers could routinely produce vaccines that would help control and prevent future pandemics.

Complicating matters was the fact that World War I had left a shortage of physicians and other health workers. And of the available medical personnel, many came down with the flu themselves.

Additionally, hospitals in some areas were so overloaded with flu patients that schools, private homes and other buildings had to be converted into makeshift hospitals, some of which were staffed by medical students.

Officials in some communities imposed quarantines, ordered citizens to wear masks and shut down public places, including schools, churches and theatres. People were advised to avoid shaking hands and to stay indoors, libraries put a halt on lending books and regulations were passed banning spitting.


With no cure for the flu, many doctors prescribed medication that they felt would alleviate symptoms… including aspirin, which had been trademarked by Bayer in 1899—a patent that expired in 1917, meaning new companies were able to produce the drug during the Spanish Flu epidemic.

Medical professionals advised patients to take up to 30 grams per day, a dose now known to be toxic. For comparison’s sake, the medical consensus today is that doses above four grams are unsafe. Symptoms of aspirin poisoning include hyperventilation and pulmonary oedema, or the buildup of fluid in the lungs.  It is now believed that many of the October deaths were actually caused or hastened by aspirin poisoning.


The flu took a heavy human toll, wiping out entire families and leaving countless widows and orphans in its wake. Funeral parlours were overwhelmed and bodies piled up. Many people had to dig graves for their own family members.


The flu was also detrimental to the economy. In the United States, businesses were forced to shut down because so many employees were sick. Basic services such as mail delivery and garbage collection were hindered due to flu-stricken workers.

In some places there weren’t enough farm workers to harvest crops. Even state and local health departments closed for business, hampering efforts to chronicle the spread of the 1918 flu and provide the public with answers about it.


A devastating second wave of the Spanish Flu hit American shores in the summer of 1918, as returning soldiers infected with the disease spread it to the general population—especially in densely-crowded cities. Without a vaccine or approved treatment plan, it fell to local mayors and healthy officials to improvise plans to safeguard the safety of their citizens. With pressure to appear patriotic at wartime and with a censored media downplaying the disease’s spread, many made tragic decisions.

Philadelphia’s response was too little, too late. Dr. Wilmer Krusen, director of Public Health and Charities for the city, insisted mounting fatalities were not the “Spanish flu,” but rather just the normal flu. So on September 28, the city went forward with a Liberty Loan parade attended by tens of thousands of Philadelphians, spreading the disease like wildfire. In just 10 days, over 1,000 Philadelphians were dead, with another 200,000 sick. Only then did the city close saloons and theatres. By March 1919, over 15,000 citizens of Philadelphia had lost their lives.

St. Louis, Missouri, was different: Schools and movie theatres closed and public gatherings were banned. Consequently, the peak mortality rate in St. Louis was just one-eighth of Philadelphia’s death rate during the peak of the pandemic.

Citizens in San Francisco were fined $5—a significant sum at the time—if they were caught in public without masks and charged with disturbing the peace.


By the summer of 1919, the flu pandemic came to an end, as those that were infected either died or developed immunity.


The following extracts, photographs and comments are from an article by Paul Daley in the Guardian on 14 March 2020:

 How Spanish flu nearly ripped apart Australia's fledgling federation 



Australia emerged from WW1 hard hit.  A relatively new country, it had become a federation on January 1, 1901 when the then 6 British colonies—New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania—united to form the Commonwealth of Australia. It lost the cream of its young men and women in WW1 at a time when such people had been particularly needed.

According to Daley:

The federation, its disparate state and territory elements supposedly forged into a nation in the hellfire of Gallipoli in 1915 and all of the horror that followed in the subsequent years of the great war, would, it seemed, confidently repel what was, by the time it hit Australia in early 1919, a global pandemic.  
But the reality was quite different. Some 40% of the fledgling nation’s population (predominantly men aged between 25 and 40 – a similar demographic to that which contributed most to this commonwealth’s world war one fatality lists) would contract the flu that ultimately killed 13,000 Australians and 50 million people worldwide. And by mid-late 1919 – by which time the Australian papers were filled with articles about the hundreds of people who were dying weekly – the federation, still working on the myth that nationhood stemmed from a foreign war, was buckling in the face of contagion.


The following extract is also from Paul Daley’s article:

. . . in late 1918, before Australian health authorities had experienced a single known case, the federal government had acquired the power to close interstate borders upon notification by state health officers of Spanish flu cases. The states effectively ceded control of borders and interstate traffic to the commonwealth.  
The first diagnosed case in New South Wales challenged the integrity of that agreement. He was a returned soldier who had come to Sydney from Melbourne. Victoria, despite medical evidence to the contrary, had not notified the commonwealth of the Spanish flu in its midst. It was only after NSW notified the commonwealth (its headquarters and federal parliament were based at the time in Melbourne) that Victoria itself made the formal notification. NSW, blaming Victoria for the transmission, responded unilaterally, shutting its border with Victoria and walking away from the agreement.  
Once transmitted to Australia the flu rapidly escaped a quarantine system whose efficacy relied on the honesty of ship medical officers to volunteer past or present cases on board, and the willingness of returned soldiers to self-report and voluntarily isolate themselves rather than seek “cures”.  
Quackery was rampant. The broader medical fraternity was divided on origins of the flu, methods and bases of diagnosis, and possible treatment.  
Then – as now with coronavirus – “foreigners”, even those who’d been in Australia for generations, were treated with utmost suspicion.  
Indeed, in Australia and throughout allied Europe and the US, the supposed genesis of the Spanish flu had its foundations firmly in fear and blame of the other, not least the old enemy.  
“This modern plague … has commonly been called Spanish influenza,” the Australasian of 29 March 1919 reported. “Yet it did not originate in Spain, nor was it exactly the grippe or influenza of other days. It appears that the Germans, in anticipation that the malady might be justly named German plague … broadcast a misleading name which they had craftily devised before the infection spread from Germany to other countries.”  
There was no evidence the pandemic began in Germany. Epidemiologists have since determined it was likely that servicemen from the US – who entered the war late – brought a milder flu strain to Europe. It then transmogrified into the Spanish flu (so named because the king of Spain was among the first to die of it).  
In Australia schools were closed, sporting events – if they proceeded – were unattended, and worshippers stayed away from church. As borders closed and the west coast was isolated from the east, and as coastal shipping all but ceased, the war-hit economy slowed. The poor and disadvantaged – especially Aboriginal communities who had always been hit disproportionately by European-introduced illness – were impacted the hardest. For example, at the Barambah government Aboriginal reserve in Queensland 590 Indigenous people contracted the illness and 90 of them died within three weeks.  
As Australian markets slump and the economy faces the prospect of recession, both in line with global trends, it would be illustrative to reflect on the economic impact of the Spanish flu on Australia’s post-world war one economy.  
But with the exception of McQueen and a few others, Australian historiography – while reflecting obsessively on the first world war which killed 62,000 Australians over four years – has not delved nearly as deeply into the economic impact on Australia of the pandemic that took 13,000 lives in about a year. It has all but ignored the fascinating story of how a seemingly robust new federation, supposedly forged in the blood and steel of overseas battle, almost crumbled in the face of a virulent threat on the home front.


Medical staff and workers in Surry Hills, Sydney, in April 1919. Schools and businesses were closed, hospitals overflowed and masks became compulsory in public.

Some 100 military tents were set up in 1919 on Adelaide’s Jubilee Oval to create a Spanish flu quarantine camp.

Workers wait to use the ‘inhalatorium’ at Kodak’s Melbourne factory in 1919. Steam carrying sulphate of zinc solution was sprayed on to their faces twice a day in an effort to ‘disinfect’ their throats and air passages.