1 January 2018 - HAPPY NEW YEAR


G'day folks,

Happy New Year. I hope this year has more promise than 2017. No matter where you live in the world, there has been some natural and human disasters during 2017, and who knows what will happen this year?

Well, 2018 has officially begun, at least in some parts of the world. The first to welcome the new year are people in the Pacific islands of Samoa, Tonga and Kiritimati, an atoll in the ocean also known as Christmas Island, part of the republic of Kiribati.

Samoa, a country comprising the westernmost group of Polynesia’s Samoan Islands where less than 200,000 people live, was once one of the last places in the world to celebrate the New Year. Then, in 2011, it decided to change its international dateline to align more closely with New Zealand and Australia in a bid to improve trade ties.

American Samoa however decided to stick with the international dateline, which is now crossing between the two island groups. This means that those who really love New Year’s celebrations could be in Samoa on Jan. 1, take a boat to cross the 100 miles to American Samoa, and party on New Year’s Eve all over again.


 New Zealand entered 2018 an hour after Samoa. Fireworks lit up the sky over the city of Auckland and in Wellington, the first major capital to welcome the new year.

The Wellington City Council organized the celebrations at the Whareipo Lagoon in the city center, an area that was only given its official name in 2015. The word ‘Whairepo’ is the Māori name for the eagle ray that feed and shelter in the lagoon.

 Eastern Australia’s cities of Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and also Honiara, entered 2018 two hours after New Zealand and about an hour after Anadyr, Russia’s easternmost town.

 Australia’s largest city, Sydney has a world-famous fireworks display brightening the sky over the iconic Opera House in the city’s harbor, attracting spectators from the world over.


 It took more than two hours for all of Australia’s three time zones to past midnight. In the meantime, Japan’s Buddhist temples will have celebrated the new year striking their gong 108 times at midnight, in an effort to expel 108 types of human weakness and prepare for new beginnings. Shinto households instead will have gone through a thorough cleaning to welcome the kami (god) believed to be visiting at New Year's. 

South Korea entered 2018 along with Japan with a fireworks display over Seoul's Lotte World Tower, the fifth tallest skyscraper in the world.  Its northern neighbor instead followed 30 minutes later with a pyrotechnic show  accompanied by live music performances in Pyongyang.
North Korea created its own time zone in August 2015 to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation from Japanese rule, under which the Korean peninsula was forced to change its time zone to match Japan.

Half an hour later, 2018 began in China, the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore, where fireworks were lighting up the iconic Marina Bay.

 Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, the fireworks display lit up the sky above the iconic Victoria Harbour to the sound of Auld Lang Syne remix. 

The world's tallest twin skyscrapers, the Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur, offered the backdrop to the fireworks welcoming 2018 in the country.

 Kula Lumpur

Clancy's comment: All very flash and exciting, but what is the cost of these fireworks that are all over in a few minutes - millions of dollars that could have been spent on more needy issues. Just sayin' ...

I'm ...



G'day folks,

I guess we have all seen these birds at some stage in our lives. There are plenty of them in Australia. So, here are some interesting facts about these creatures. By the way, a group of crows is called a ‘murder’. They are extremely intelligent birds. Some have been observed using basic tools!

Quick Facts
  • Type: Bird
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Life span: 7 years but have been known to live as long as 14 years in the wild
  • Size: Length around 17.5 inches. Wing Span
  • Weight: 450g
  • Habitat: Almost any environment, urban or rural
  • Range: Most of the UK, Western Europe and East Asia
  • Scientific name: Corvus Corone
Amazing Facts About the Carrion Crow
    • Crows are extremely intelligent birds. They have the largest brain of all birds except for parrots. The body to brain ratio of a crow is the equivalent of a chimpanzee! This means that it is not far off that of humans.
    • Crows have been observed using basic tools. For example, some crows in Japan use cars on the road to crack open nuts. In some instances, crows have even been observed using sticks to access food out of reach.
    • Crows have an excellent memory. They have been known to hide food away to save it for later. Sometimes moving the food 2-3 times, always remembering where it was hidden.
    • Crows can be identified by their distinctive ‘caw-caw’ sound. Considered song birds due to their vast range of melodies, crows have been known to vocalise their feelings in response to hunger or being threatened, for example.
    • Until recently, Carrion crows and Hooded crows were thought to be the same species. However, they are different, occupying different parts of Europe and Asia. In some areas where territories overlap, interbreeding occurs. The Carrion crow can be distinguished from the Hooded crow by it’s all black body compared to the ash-grey body of the Hooded crow.
    • Crows can be distinguished from rooks as they have feathers around their thighs and around the base of their beak.
    Adult crows can be set apart from juveniles by their black eyes. Juveniles have pale blue eyes and duller, more brown plumage compared to an adult crow’s light violet gloss on their body and greenish-blue gloss on their wings.
  Crows are often described as fearless. They will chase eagles which can weigh nine times more than the crow! Despite their fearlessness, crows are often still wary of people, who are their biggest predator.
  The crow can be found across a huge area spanning Europe and Asia and its population is estimated to be between 43 and 204 million and growing.
  Crows have been known to perform ‘anting’ where they rub ants all over their feathers or lie near an ant hill allowing the ants to crawl through their feathers. It is yet unknown why exactly birds do this. Some Suggest the ant act as an insecticide and anting helps control parasites such as feather mites. Others argue it is carried out as a method of catching prey – enticing the ants to rid themselves of their poison sacks, allowing the birds to eat them harmlessly.
  When crows mate they often stay together for life, separating only at death. However, some instances have found only the females mate for life while the males will cheat on occasion!
  Crows build nests all over the place: in pylons, trees and cliff edges, almost anywhere can be suitable. Nests are built from twigs with a lining of hair and bark. Both the male and female build the nest together and the female then incubates the eggs. Once the eggs are hatched both birds help feed the chicks. A nestling crow can eat as many as 100 grasshoppers in 3 hours!
  Crows are mostly resident. This means they do not migrate and will stay near their breeding grounds. Crows living in urban areas have a much smaller territory compared to those in rural areas. The nesting territory of city crows is only 10% that of rural crows.
  Scavengers by nature, a crow’s diet can involve over 1000 different food items. From worms, insects and carrion to scraps of food, fruit and seeds.
  Crows are very good egg thieves. They will watch other birds build their nests, observing and inspecting what the birds do. This makes it much easier for the crow to rob the nest once the eggs have been laid. As highly opportunistic birds, crows will watch other birds bringing their young food, which they may swoop in and steal!

Clancy's comment: These birds are ancient. They are probably the first bird I recall seeing on black and white television as a kid.

I'm ...

30 December 2017 - PASTOR Sir Douglas Nicholls

Sir Douglas Nicholls

G'day folks,

Welcome to some background on a very successful and talented Aboriginal. Sir Douglas Ralph Nicholls, KCVO OBE was a prominent Aboriginal Australian from the Yorta Yorta people. He was a professional athlete, Churches of Christ pastor and church planter, ceremonial officer and a pioneering campaigner for reconciliation.

Pastor Doug Nicholls was born in Cumeroogunga NSW in 1906.  His elder sister Hilda was taken from the family when he was only eight and she was sixteen.  Doug Nicholls never forgot the trauma created by the incident. 

Nicholls came to Melbourne in 1927 seeking a football career after success with country club Tongala.  Carlton rejected him, amid racial resentment from teammates, so he turned to Northcote Football Club; the family boarding him were supporters of the ‘Brickfielders’.  Nicholls debuted for Northcote in 1927 and was paid £2 for the game.  To supplement the income provided by football, Nicholls, like many teammates, was given work with the Northcote Council’s outdoor staff during the season.  In the off-season, Nicholls travelled the country with Jimmy Sharman’s Boxing Troupe.  Members of the public could challenge a member of the troupe to a bout.  Nicholls had discovered his boxing ability after a fight on a sheep ranch he was working on prior to coming to Melbourne.

Nicholls soon established himself as a star player, and as the only Aborigine playing senior football in the state; he was Northcote’s number one drawcard.  He had outstanding speed, having also competed in professional sprint races, and was lauded as one of the game’s outstanding wingmen.  He played in the club’s first Premiership in 1929 before the lure of League football could no longer be resisted.  Northcote had withstood the advances of Carlton and Collingwood for Nicholls’ services, but following the 1931 season, he transferred to Fitzroy.  In five seasons he played 54 games, finishing third in the club’s best and fairest count in 1934 and representing Victoria in 1935.  With failing eyesight, Nicholls left Fitzroy and returned to Northcote in 1938, before retiring in 1939.

A visit in the early 1930s to the Northcote Church of Christ would be a life-changing event for Doug Nicholls.  Struggling to deal with the death of his mother as well as suffering from a knee injury, the church was an inspiration to Nicholls.  He soon converted to the church, becoming a pastor in 1939.  Football had opened doors for Nicholls that were closed to so many of his people, and he used his position to advance their cause.  In 1939 he was a key speaker at an Aboriginal Night where he called for social justice and equality for Aborigines.  He was also involved in the newly created Australian Aborigines’ League.

His association with football continued and in 1944, with the VFA in recess, Nicholls arranged for an Aboriginal Football Team to play an exhibition match against Northcote.  Several thousand football starved supporters came to the match, with proceeds going to the Aboriginal welfare funds.  The success of the match saw the exhibition repeated in later years.  Nicholls also coached Northcote in 1947, although the club had a poor season, finishing last.  In the same year he was appointed curator of Northcote Park.  He stayed in that position until 1956, living in the house provided at the park and dividing his time between the curator’s responsibilities and working for Aboriginal causes.

To combat the problem of Aboriginal homelessness, Nicholls led an effort to purchase the All Saints Church vicarage in Cunningham St, Northcote.  Nicholls formed a committee, which became the Aborigines’ Advancement League to help raise funds for the purchase.  The large home was converted into a hostel for Aboriginal girls, opening in 1958.  In 1957 Nicholls was appointed the field officer for the Aborigines’ Advancement League.  In 1962 a similar hostel for boys was opened across the road and then in 1967 the ‘Douglas Nicholls Centre’ was opened adjoining the original hostel.  The centre contained recreational and meeting facilities.

Throughout his career as a crusader for Aboriginal rights, the Doug Nicholls approach was for acceptance and reconciliation.  He asked white people: “…is there a reason why we should not march beside you?  Do you extend to us the hand of friendship?”  He was prepared to be involved in events like the Batman Treaty re-enactments, which some considered demeaning to Aborigines.  Nicholls felt that they brought attention to the nation’s history and of the Aboriginals place as the original owners of the land.  He co-founded the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, helped develop more housing alternatives for Aboriginal children and was part of the creation of a national day of remembrance.

Nicholls approach worked.  He was awarded an M.B.E. in 1957, made a Justice of the Peace in 1962, named Father of the Year and given an O.B.E.  In 1972 he was the first Aboriginal to be knighted.  By the 1970s some Aborigines, encouraged by the Black Power Movement, were promoting a more aggressive stance in their campaign for equality.  While such an approach would not have been possible without the efforts of Nicholls, it signalled an end to his style of campaign. 

In keeping with his intention to always demonstrate that Aborigines were capable of holding any post, Sir Douglas Nicholls accepted the appointment of Governor of South Australia in 1976.  He was the first Aboriginal to hold such a position.  Unfortunately he was forced to retire after just one year in office after suffering a severe stroke.  Nicholls and his wife returned to live in Northcote following his period as South Australian Governor.  He died in 1988 and was given a state funeral before being buried at Cumeroogunga.

When the headquarters of the Aboriginal Advancement League began to fall into disrepair in the late 1970s, the League was able to secure land from the Victoria Government on the site of the old Glen Iris Brick Company.  This was the first freehold land granted to Aboriginals in Victoria, fittingly it was in Northcote.  Through the state and federal governments, along with the Aboriginal Development Commission and the League itself, $750,000 was raised for the construction of a new centre.  Alongside, the centre, a playing oval was built: The Sir Douglas Nicholls Reserve.   Northcote has remained a centre for Aboriginal people in Melbourne with over 1,000 calling the city of Darebin home, making it one of the largest Indigenous communities in Melbourne.  Doug Nicholls played an instrumental role in making Northcote, and Darebin, a home for Aboriginal Australians.


Clancy's comment: Sir Doug was a highly regarded Australian.

I'm ...



G'day folks,

A loyal German shepherd has refused to leave the side of his owner, even though he had been dead for nearly six years. Well, believe it or not, the old dog still spends his days waiting by his deceased owner’s grave, 10 years after he passed.

Capitan’s undying loyalty for his master first made headlines in 2012, when local papers in the Argentinian town of Villa Carlos Paz reported that the dog spent every day waiting by the grave of his owner, Miguel Guzmán, who had died in 2006. The dog disappeared from the family home a few months later, and Guzmán’s widow, Veronica, was shocked to find him by her late husband’s grave, when she went to visit him at the cemetery. She and her son, Damian, tried taking him home several times, but he always ran back to be by Miguel’s side. Eventually, they understood that nothing they did could ever fill the void in Capitan’s heart, so they let him be with his beloved master.

 Over the years, Capitan won the affection and respect of cemetery caretakers, who made sure that he was well-fed and vaccinated every year, but time has taken a toll on the aging canine. He is 15-year-old now, has lost his sight almost completely and can barely walk, but he still stands by his owner’s grave, as if waiting for the day when they will finally be reunited. He is still being taken care of, and receives medical attention when he needs it, but there is no antidote for time.

“We have no idea how he found the tomb because his owner did not die in Carlos Paz, but in Cordoba,” Héctor Banegas, a retired caretaker at Carlos Paz Cemetery, recently told La Opinion. “From there he was transferred to the village for the wake and from there directly to the cemetery, he did not return to his house and he did not see the dog again.”

 “The big mystery is how Capitan didn’t forget the scent of his master’s scent for months after his death,” Banegas added. “I think he just sensed his spirit, that there was some communication between them that led him to the grave.”
Aldo Cecchi, a canine trainer for more than 25 years, recently told Cadena 3 that Capitan’s story is proof that dogs are linked to their owner’s energy. “Dogs detect electormagnetic changes and sound waves. If Captain intertwined his morphic field with that of his master, he was able to find the place he was buried in.”

 Whatever explanation you’re comfortable with, one thing is for sure – Capitan is living proof of the loyalty canines are capable of towards their human masters. 10 years is basically a lifetime for some dogs, and he spent all that time waiting by his owner’s grave, hoping they would be together again one day. 

Clancy's comment:  Unconditional love, eh? They say that if you lock your dog and your wife/husband in the boot of your car for a few hours, when you open it the only one who will lick you is your dog.

I'm ...