JustClik News and Blogs

Views, news and features about the Goulburn Valley. Showcasing a variety of local writers and their views.

A Proper Kid!

A Proper Kid!

This is my mature me self-reflecting on the how things must be difficult for children and teens today — to be proper kids.

Maybe it's peer pressure? Certainly some of the challenges kids face are directly related to media focus on fame. What does Johnny want to be? These days it is common to hear a response such as I want to be famous. The traditional doctor, soldier, fireman, teacher, even astronaut answers can be lacking.

Rewind 40 years. I was playing footy in the streets in the Winter until dusk. When it was dark, it was time for dinner. In the Summer, we played cricket in the streets. And when we weren't playing sports we'd adventure into the local orchards and channels. Yabbying, swimming and just enjoying each other's company.

We kept safe; we looked after each other. Sure we were testing limits at times, but that is part of growing up.

We even built a clubhouse with a skull and crossbones flag, marked with letters G.R.O.G (Get Rid of Girls). Think "The Goonies" and you have the picture of my childhood.

These days it's a rarity to see kids playing in the streets. Digital screens seem to soak up a lot of their time. Smartphones, iPads, computers are all useful things — but seriously; some moderation, please.

Then there's the consumerism. A lot of kids, particularly teens, get sucked into the fairy floss of brands. I know teens who will not be seen dead in something from Target or Woolworths. It has to be a brand like Nike or Adidas.

No hand-me-downs, no St Vincent de Paul seconds and definitely no High street brands.

In my time, a pair of new Levis jeans, complete with zippered fob pocket was worthy of "show and tell."

Sadly, I'm beginning to paint a picture of "plastic" kids whose connection to the outdoor world is limited. This disconnect I believe is a dangerous thing. Yes I'm generalising and there are still the exceptions but most of the today's generation are soft.

My teen years were pretty straightforward too. Going to the record shop or the movie theatre was a real treat. Sport still kept me entertained when I wasn't studying. The structure and its simplicity to this day holds me in good stead.

Geelong Grammar has long had a school policy of encouraging some old-fashioned discipline in Year 9. Arriving at Timbertop, in the wilds near Mansfield, the teens are stripped of all technology and find themselves in a "sink or swim" environment. Chop their wood, cook their meals, clean up after themselves. Loads of extracurricular activities like bushcraft and survival skills. In a way, like a para-military style of training of our youth.

Talk to any ex-grammar student and they will say "Timbertop" was the best year. Kids need discipline and structure, they often just don't understand it's good for them.

Not every family can afford an "outward bound" style experience, but there are ways to encourage kids and teens to get outdoors. Sports and recreation in the fresh air are affordable ways to supplement their modern inclinations.

Volunteering is a good way for young people to learn from adults. I was fortunate enough to be in the company of a proper kid and his mum on the weekend. Without complaint, he spent the day helping his mum in a fundraising activity. He was like a sponge, soaking up as much as he could from the events and people around him.

A proper kid who is lucky enough to have a strong, good mum.




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That's Amore

That's Amore

“I am in love and there is nothing in all the world which produces as much suffering as love. Hate or even indifference do not inflict as much damage to the heart as love. For to love is to expose one’s soul to penetration by the fiery arrows of betrayal, of deceit, of disappointment. To love is to make oneself vulnerable. Love can weaken and diminish a man as readily as it can strengthen him. The stampeding herd of my emotions which has left me crumpled and useless on the ground is of infinite number, and cannot end its rampage until I close my heart. I refuse to concede.”
-          from the prologue to Lovesick
One of my fondest memories of the wonderful Dean Martin/Jerry Lewis partnership is them singing That’s Amore. When the world seems to shine like you’ve had too much wine…that’s amore. Amore is the Italian word for love, but what is love? Surely it is more than the feeling you have when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie. Love has been the subject of more songs, poems and stories than any other, and is impossible to define simply. There are different kinds of love, and they usually operate together to varying degrees; sometimes seemingly inextricable from one another.

What Martin was singing about was the rush of warm fuzziness which characterises being in love. This intensely nice feeling overwhelms those who are in love, and colours their world in happy, hopeful shades. In Lovesick, Angus is afflicted with lovesickness, an obsession which drives him to extreme misbehaviour.
Have you ever been in love? What was the major symptom of your lovesickness?

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It's Just Not Cricket Old Bean

It's Just Not Cricket Old Bean

A Scottish friend recently reminded me of a time and a place I enjoyed while playing tourist.  In my company was Joomla founder Johan Janssens and Rochen founder Christopher Adams.

Our group had ventured to Saltaire, a World Heritage site, famous for its socialistic roots created by Sir Titus Salt.  Salt had built a massive linen business with two huge knitting mills.  He built a town around the enterprise.  Workers were all given a house in which to live, schools were built, and sporting facilities added.

A tea-totaller, no pubs were built.  The nearest pub was high up on the vale of the valley.  The owner of that pub built an inclinator to make the trip comfortable for Saltaire types, much to Sir Titus' chagrin.  At it's peak it was the busiest cable car in Europe.

In town, there are two lions made of sandstone.  The story goes that they had been the original blanks made out of sandstone and meant to be bronzed for Picadilly Circus.  But the lions were rejected because they had all their "tackle" in place.  Not the kind of thing that was considered appropriate in Victorian times.  Salt bought them from the London designers at a bargain price.

We took Johan and Chris to see the locals playing cricket.  The "funny" rules of cricket were explained:

You have two sides, one out in the field and one in.

Each man that’s in the side that’s in goes out, and when he’s out he comes in and the next man goes in until he’s out.

When they are all out, the side that’s out comes in, and the side that’s been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out.

Sometimes you get men still in and not out.

When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out trying to get him out, and when he is out he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in.

There are two men called umpires who stay out all the time and they decide when the men who are in are out.

When both sides have been in, and all the men have out, and both sides have been out twice after all the men have been in, including those who are not out, that is the end of the game!

Something Johan will never forget.  The look on his face — priceless!

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Ultimate Frisbee Fiasco

Ultimate Frisbee Fiasco

A work colleague has an unusual sporting interest.  He plays Ultimate Frisbee in the evenings at the Shepparton Lake precinct.  You can see him and his mates leaping, catching and throwing their high-tech plastic discs in a designated field.

I guess you could say it's a bit like rugby without the contact.  Loads of fun played enthusiastically by Shepp locals on a Monday evening.

The aim of the sport is to get the frisbee from the "end-zone" to the opponents "end-zone."  Teams number how many people turn up. It's unisex. Points are scored by passing the disc to a teammate in the opposing end zone. Other basic rules are that players must not take steps while holding the disc, and interceptions, incomplete passes, and passes out of bounds are turnovers. Rain, the wind, or occasionally other adversities can make for a testing match with rapid turnovers, heightening the pressure of play.

Today, my work mate turned up sporting a leg injury — a pulled muscle or something similar. He didn't complain much, but the limp is obvious.  Reminded me of seeing AFL's Chris Judd limping off the field. Ultimate frisbee is not supposed to be a contact sport, but I suspect the injured party didn't warm up properly.

Throwing a frisbee with an amount of accuracy is quite a skill.  Advanced players can bend it with precision.  Others like to use little tricks like the skip throw, where the frisbee bounces around the legs of an opposing player.  A nutmeg (where the frisbee splits through the legs of an opponent) is highly-regarded.

Players call their fouls and dispute a foul only when they genuinely believe it did not occur. Playing without referees is the norm for league play, but has been supplanted in club competition by the use of "observers"/"advisers" to help in disputes, and the first professional leagues even employ empowered referees.

In 2012, there were 5.1 million ultimate players in the United States. The most recent World Ultimate Club Championship was in Lecco, Italy in July 2014 where US teams took Gold in all three divisions. In 2016, the World Ultimate & Guts Championships will be held in London where teams will be composed of their nation's best players.

"I just remember one time running for a pass and leaping up in the air and just feeling the Frisbee making it into my hand and feeling the perfect synchrony and the joy of the moment, and as I landed, I said to myself, 'This is the ultimate game. This is the ultimate game.'" said Ultimate inventor Jared Kass.

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Accidental Queue-Jumping

Accidental Queue-Jumping

Good social skills are essential. The understatement meter in my pocket just exploded, but seriously, good interpersonal communication skills are primarily the oil which lubricates relationships.
When the giant standing next to me at the counter of the local takeaway place delivered his order over the top of mine and then said he was next, I realised two things immediately. One: the man had poor interpersonal skills and two; I had inadvertently jumped the queue. I apologised and made a quip about how I had never seen a line at this particular fast food venue. (In fact, people typically stand parallel to the counter and take note of who was already there when they arrived.)

The man's response to my apology was delivered in a gruff and aggrieved tone. "Just don't jump the queue mate. I don't want to argue about it."

"I don't want to argue about it" is in the same category as statements beginning with "to tell the truth" and "I don't want to say I told you so...". Like the positive onset with an obvious inflection broadcasting, a big "but' will follow.

Whether the big man with serious indignation at the take way joint was naturally rude and ungracious, or whether he had merely exhausted his reserves of bonhomie at the end of a bad day, I do not know. I've been unjustifiably short with people too on occasion, but I reckon a sincere apology ought to extinguish the flames of ire. Most people have varying degrees of serious drama and affliction in their lives. Why bother straining at gnats?

It's pretty easy to be nice, even to people who aren't kind to you. It is not difficult to back down and walk away. The offended behemoth and I left the car park of the takeaway shop at the same time: I was on foot, and he was safe in his world on wheels. He might have looked at me, or he might have simply been checking for oncoming traffic, but, in any case, I threw him another smile. His stony face was the epitome of recalcitrance. As he drove away, I wondered if he was a blogger like me.

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A Bunny, a Bilby — a Chocolate Tradition

A Bunny, a Bilby — a Chocolate Tradition

I have a friend who just loves this time of year.  For her it's all about the chocolate — supposedly it tastes better than plain chocolate.  In truth, it's probably more about the texture and the crunch of snapped off pieces of dairy milk but who am I to say.

We all know that Easter is a significant time on the Christian calendar.  But what about this bunny?

The Easter Bunny (also called the Easter Rabbit or Easter Hare) is a folk figure and symbol of Easter, depicted as a rabbit bringing Easter eggs. This symbol originated among the German Lutherans — whereby the bunny played a role of a judge, evaluating whether children were good or disobedient in behaviour at the start of the season of Eastertide.

The Easter Bunny is occasionally depicted with clothes.  In legend, the creature carries coloured eggs in his basket, candy and sometimes also toys to the homes of children, and as such show similarities to Santa Claus or the Christkind, as they both bring gifts to children on the night before their respective holidays.  The custom was first mentioned in Georg Franck von Franckenau's De ovis Paschal ibis (About Easter Eggs) in 1682 referring to a German tradition of an Easter Hare bringing Easter eggs for the children.

An Australian twist on the tradition is the Easter Bilby.  

The idea of the chocolate bilby came from a story written by a nine-year-old girl, in March 1968. "Billy The Aussie Easter Bilby," was published as a book 11 years later. The story helped catalyse the public's interest in saving the bilby. In 1991 Nicholas Newland from the 'Foundation for Rabbit-Free Australia' also developed the idea of the Easter Bilby to raise awareness about the environmental damage that feral rabbits cause and to replace the Easter bunny with true native wildlife.

The first Chocolate Easter Bilbies were sold at the Warrawong Sanctuary when it was owned by John Wamsley. Chocolate manufacturers that donate towards Bilby conservation include Pink Lady and Haigh's Chocolates.

In 2014, Pink Lady donated 30 cents from every large bilby sale and $1 from every ten pack. Parent company Fyna Foods manufactures chocolate bilbies as well as other iconic Australian fauna in their Australian Bush Friends Easter chocolate. 20 cent from every Bush Friends collection is donated to the Save the Bilby Fund. 2015 saw these chocolates raise over $33,000 for the fund.

Cadbury's also produce Chocolate Bilbies, although they do not donate or support any bilby conservation projects. This had led to a backlash against Cadbury with many Australians derogatorily referring to their Bilby products as Easter Bludgers. Before their store closures in 2012, Darrell Lea donated approximately $60,000 per year to the Save the Bilby Fund from the sales of the Darrell Lea chocolate bilbies.

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February 29 — Today is Leap Day

February 29 — Today is Leap Day

The name "leap year" comes from the fact that while a fixed date in the Gregorian calendar normally advances one day of the week from one year to the next, the day of the week in the 12 months following the leap day (from March 1 through February 28 of the following year) will advance two days due to the extra day (thus "leaping over" one of the days in the week).

Women Propose to Men
According to an old Irish legend, or possibly history, St Brigid struck a deal with St Patrick to allow women to propose to men – and not just the other way around – every four years.

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Mysteries of a Psychic Detective

Mysteries of a Psychic Detective

As a police reporter in Albury many years ago, this would rate as the most bizarre happenings during my time in the Border District.

This story is about a double murder that was solved by a psychic detective.  In my 10 years of police reporting, it is the only time I'd heard of a psychic successfully solving a crime.  It was so "out there" the paper decided to report the case minus the esoteric elements.

The Border Morning Mail covers a huge area, stretching from Wangaratta to Holbrook and Corryong to Deniliquin ... and other satellite populations.  Covering the police rounds required a daily visit to both Albury and Wodonga police centres — uniform and detective branches and each court complex.  It also required a daily ring-around of the district.  A very busy job.

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Radar Ralphy Lets one Go!

Radar Ralphy Lets one Go!
"Don't tell me you fell for her feminine charms, Ralph?" This yarn is about how humour can wear down the hardest nut.  Is it true?  Probably.As a cub reporter I was assigned to go out on the road with a traffic policeman.  This was back in the days of the local police having a dedicated traffic division, equipped with pursu...
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Birds of a Feather Poop Together

Birds of a Feather Poop Together
Birds are indiscriminate poopers and it really gives me the...feeling of strong annoyance. D.A. Cairns In some ways, I quite like birds of the feathered, small brained variety. Many of them are really pretty, and one cannot deny the grace with which they move move through the air.Like many others, I admire the freedom birds have,apart from...
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G'day, G'day ... Where's the Cow?

G'day, G'day ... Where's the Cow?

Just Clik can proudly say it has found Peter Russell-Clarke's robot "pretend" cow, famous for starring in Pete's 1980s TV adds.  And it's here in Shepparton!

The "pretend butter" cow was the brainchild of an advertising company explaining the benefits of "natural" butter over "artificial" margarine.

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Point "0" Vitabrits — A Snapshot of Stupidity

Point "0" Vitabrits — A Snapshot of Stupidity

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.”
― Albert Einstein

Every so often someone does something so ridiculous that when the story is told no-one is inclined to believe the storyteller.  This story I can assure you is true and it happened in Shepparton last year.

A friend and his partner were inside their house one morning when they were startled by a huge bang — more like an explosion — the forced compression of air inside a car, shattering of glass and grinding of metal on metal.

They raced outside to see that my friend's Ford ute, parked neatly next to the curb, had been destroyed from being visciously hit in the rear by a very late model Jeep 4WD.

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A Stone for My Head

A Stone for My Head

Despite my best intentions to avoid the almost irresistible lure of the bright lights of materialism, I do occasionally fall victim to its polished seduction. When I saw the Miracle Blade advertised in an infomercial, I was gone: compelled to call and place my order before the full spiel had been delivered.
It has proved to be a good buy: a very high performing knife of which I am proud, but lately a new concern has arisen courtesy of more advertising. This time it was a radio ad which I heard on the way to work, and this time, unlike the aforementioned purchase of a fancy cutting tool, the need came before the ad. That is, I already knew I had a problem and one which needed urgent attention, before this radio commercial grabbed me by the ears and confirmed my desperate need for a new pillow.

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Can You Change 20 Dinkums into Emus?

Can You Change 20 Dinkums into Emus?

This Sunday marks the 50th Anniversary of the change over from Pounds, Shillings and Pence to Dollars and Cents.

These days the Australian dollar is the fifth most traded currency in the world, accounting for 7.6 per cent of all trades.

However the dollar could have been called a number of different names.  The Prime Minister of the time, Robert Menzies, who was a monarchist, wanted to call it the Royal.

Recent Comments
Guest — D.A.Cairns
I have only ever known decimal currency. The suggested names you listed made me laugh, especially the Ming. I just cant imagine an... Read More
Saturday, 13 February 2016 16:06
Guest — P. D. McDermott
Would be hilarious if your mate turned up with a mob of real emus, David.
Saturday, 13 February 2016 17:57
Peter Russell
If the notes were called Emus and you had a "mob" in your wallet — then you'd be loaded!!!
Saturday, 13 February 2016 18:54
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A Holden Hatchback on Steroids

A Holden Hatchback on Steroids

Shepparton's resident Torana aficionado, Neil Heard, has taken his Holden obsession to a whole new level.

Neil posted on FaceBook today photos of his newly acquired SS Torana "Hatch Hutch".  These camping/tent thingamejigs were all the rage in the 1980s and had long faded into obscurity.

Neil found a supplier of reproduction hutch and proudly shared his backyard photographs this week.

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