Sunday, February 28, 2016

Make a friend of a weed Mallow

An earlier post considered a weed known as Purslane.  This post considers another common weed Mallow.

Mallow, photographed in authour's own garden. Successfully transplanted from a building site
Where purslane is best cooked, mallow can be eaten fresh.  It is a delightful addition to salads.

One feature of mallow that gives a unique experience is that it is mucilaginous which means that it has a slight chewing gum type texture.  This is most prominent in new leaves when picked after a particularly wet period.

I've found that mallow is often a first-populater plant of sites where soil has been turned.  It is in this way that mallow will often spring up after a building has been demolished and the rubble cleared.  A small leave variety of mallow is sometimes found on the verge of established lawns - perhaps under trees.

In the Bible's Old Testament book of Job there is possibly a reference to marrow.  In Job 6:6 (New International Version), Job asks:

"Is tasteless food eaten without salt, 
or is there flavour in the sap of the mallow?"

This suggests that mallow has been a staple food for many years.

The nutritional benefits of mallow are listed here.  The benefits include its use as an anti-inflammatory.  Mallow is a handy thickener for soups and stews.


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Make a friend of a weed Purslane

Everyone seems to be talking about the Paleo Diet.  They are even sharing Paleo Diet jokes:

"I'm on the Paleo Diet, it is just that I'm the caveman who
 discovered Snickers Bars"

"How do you know if someone east Paleo? Don't worry they will tell you."
Warrigal greens (top) and cooked purslane

One thing you do learn from Paleo Diet is that where man once ate Omega 3 fatty acids in a ratio of 1:1 with Omega 6 fatty acids, the ratio is now something like 1:40.  That's a lot of Omega 6 at the expense of Omega 3.

Okay, so where do you get Omega 3s so you can balance your diet?  A weed, which is probably growing in your backyard, or within walking distance of your home, contains more Omega 3 fatty acids than any other known plant in the universe.  The weed is called purslane.

Huge patch of purslane found at Albury airport

For those in Sydney, purslane can be found on a handy wild food map.  I used the map to locate purslane in Bella Vista.

At Bella Vista purslane was happily growing in red chip bark.

While the stems are edible I choose to simply strip the leaves. I steep these in boiling water for three minutes before rinsing with cold water. Drain water before serving. By steeping them you remove excessive oxalic acid. I then serve them with a stir fry giving those at the table the option to sprinkle some of the purslane over there stir fry.   Pick purslane after noon as the plant generates an acid - malic acid - overnight to help kickstart the photosynthesis process in the morning.  By noon the malic acid is used up.  Malic acid gives a sour taste.  If you have ever eaten sour lollies, like sour worms, then you've had malic acid.

Immediately near this location is the Woolworths Headquarters. Picking purslane from outside their office puts a new meaning to their marketing tagline "Fresh food people".

When picking weeds ensure that the weed:

1. Has not been sprayed with weed killer.
2. Is not subject to people or animal traffic of faecas.
3. Is free of any insect invasion.

There are a list of nutritional benefits of purslane listed on this link.  Purslane has been used in treating Multiple Sclerosis.


P.S. there is one Sydney greengrocer that sells purslane.  Chooks love purslane and the Omega 3 passes through to their eggs.  I has been observed that chooks let loose on a new paddock will flock to purslane before any other food.  I've received fantastic feedback on this post including an understanding that Purslane is available in Cabramatta markets and that Chinese people consume it both for its digestive benefits and in addition as a medicine.

All links up-to-date at 25 February 2016

Saturday, February 20, 2016

James Ruse Reserve

James Ruse Reserve, Hassall St, Parramatta is in Western Sydney.  The Reserve contains a delightful collection of play equipment for children and picnic table seating for older folk who wish to keep an eye on their children.

Water play park
The peak attraction is a water play park that operates in the warmer months.  Children are invited to press a button that operates the various water sprays in a four minute cycle.  The best fun our contingent had was spraying each other with the directional water guns.
The water play equipment operates in the warmer months
Once thoroughly wet the children can dry off as they run on grass or play on various pieces of equipment.

Well landscaped play area

Parking spaces are adequate and access is convenient from major arterial roads.

We were delighted to chance upon a Parramatta based church youth group meeting at the location for a series of games.  They welcomed our children to join them.


Cook + Phillip

Someone once said that Sydney has more Olympic pools per capita than any other place in the world.  If that is true then it is odd given that Sydney has so many wonderful swimming spots at surf beaches and harbour beaches.
Entry signage

Cook + Phillip Aquatic and Fitness Centre is adjacent to St Mary's Cathedral.  It has a variety of swimming pools including a wave pool - where waves pummel patrons on the half hour - and river pool - where patrons are washed around a winding path.

Esther Williams
Above the Olympic Pool there are a series of commemorative paintings celebrating the life of Esther Williams - a Hollywood superstar of the 1940's.

Change rooms are clean, there is an outside seating area and cafe.

A great place for a family outing.


Friday, February 19, 2016

Gosford to Woy Woy bicycle path

The Central Coast just north of Sydney has a bicycle path that commences at Gosford and runs to Umina Beach – a distance of over 20 kilometres.  The Gosford to Woy Woy stretch is 11 kilometres.  The path is largely off road and as the path follows the line of a harbour it is very flat for its whole duration.

The bicycle path is for all ages.  It is well sign posted and has many attractions along the way.  In choosing Gosford to Woy Woy I stuck to conveniently located train stations.

Look out for:

-       A “front lawn library” that faces the path at about the halfway point between Gosford and Woy Woy.  If you take a book along you’ll not be disappointed as you freely swop it for another,

shot on an iPhone
A local community gem  - A front lawn library
-       The Spike Milligan Bridge and its explanatory signs.  Spike Milligan is Woy Woy’s most famous son.

-       Fish and Chips at the Woy Woy Fisherman’s wharf just as the path arrives at Woy Woy.

-       Op shops in Woy Woy (Woy Woy seems to have more Op shops than any other place in Australia!).

The only danger with young ‘uns is that part of the path runs along a breakwall without any fencing.  A slight deviation in direction could see a rider and bicycle end in the water.  Trains run regularly on the Central Coast line.  Puncture risk is low.


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Atheists often know the Bible very well

Dear Tim,

30 June 2017 from

I'd correct your theology - within this part of the lyrics - a part where you put on an act like it is God speaking:

"Go home, Cardinal Pell

I've got a nice spot in hell

With your name on it"

In that God abandons people to hell (and thus does not identify a spot for them).

But I doubt you care to hear from me.  And that's fine.


P.S. Shame isn't identified as a technique in the classic "How to Win Friends and Influence People".  This blog has interpreted the Royal Commission via this link.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Understanding sin

The transcript of Day C149 of the Australian Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses To Child Sexual Abuse records this from former Archbishop Peter Jensen:

The second thing that was believed was that if a
person perpetrated this, it was likely to be a lapse and
not something that they would do all the time. We again
know that this is utterly false.

Jensen’s comment is robust in terms of sexual abuse perpetrators generally.  In context it is in respect abuse received by a person known as [BYC] by a church leader.

Now, I find the comment absolutely perplexing.  It is perplexing that a sinner may simply “lapse”.  “Lapsing” is somehow preferred to “something they would do all the time”.  Alcoholics Anonymous know that people don’t simply “lapse”.  

It is time perhaps for a quick lesson on sin.  I learnt all I know about sin, ironically, at Sydney Anglican churches.

Sin is simply falling short of God.  The sin, while it may damage an individual or individuals, is firstly against God.  Whether a person lapses (presumed here to be a one-off occurrence) or repeats their behaviour it is all sin.  There is no black sin or white sin; just sin.  There is no good sin or bad sin; just sin.  There is no hot sin or cold sin; just sin.  There is no 'half-pregnant' sin; just sin.  Sin is sin whichever way you look at it.

“Lapsing” is a convenient notion as presumably one can have many lapses yet not quite got to a point where they are doing bad all the time.  This statement, for instance, is nonsensical: 

I perpetually lapse in the inclusion of sit-ups in my fitness
 routine, but don’t fail to do sit-ups all the time.  

In this linked article the author does not hesitate to call for a "one-strike policy".

Unlike Jensen, I’ll choose not to believe that there is latitude between lapsing and something that a person would do all the time.  The true character of sin, and of the heart of man, does not afford such latitude.


To be sure: In the balance of the transcript Jensen identifies with many things he was taught  through meeting victims that would have changed what he believed.

No problem too big for God

I’m willing to suggest that in some Sydney Anglican church this Sunday – in the Sunday School, or in the main church building – some teacher will pronounce that there is no problem too big for God.  By corollary, there is no problem too big for God’s church.

Sadly, it seems there are problems too big for God’s church.  Perhaps as [BYC] who gave evidence to Day C149  of the Australian Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses To Child Sexual Abuse of abuse waged upon him stated:

My experience with the Sydney Anglican Diocese has been that they preach
 biblical principles but they don't practice them.”

Why may it be deduced that there are some problems too big for God’s church? Well the former Archbishop of the Sydney Anglican Diocese is recorded on transcript as handing over a problem to the State: 

Q. Finally, [Arch]Bishop, what do you hope for from the
Royal Commission?
A. Your Honour, we need help. Institutions like mine,
which are relatively rich in resource compared to many
other institutions, we need the help of the Commission to
work out what we should do, how we should do it and how we
should respond to survivors. You've heard this morning
that as Archbishop, even though I thought I was doing the
right thing, the story is not so good, is it, and I think
we need the help of the community to hold us to account, to
tell us what to do and to resource us in the doing of it
and my hope is that this Royal Commission is going to make
a huge difference to survivors and it's going to mean the
protection of the children of our nation and that's what
I'm hoping for.

In essence, what the Archbishop offered to the Commission was:
  • The problem is too big for us, but not for the Commission,
  • We have resources, and,
  • Give us the guidance as to how to use those resources.
The church throwing itself upon the State!


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

10% bonus credit not enough

I’m sure many consumers describe a positive first venture in the sharing economy.  I’m sure many have a delightful and fulfilling experience.  Not so for me.

On booking family holiday accommodation with airbnb recently a search criteria set prioritised as i) location, ii) quality of host, iii) accommodation attributes was established.  Location was rapidly established – a country retreat of comfortable driving distance from home.  Host selection was facilitated by reliance upon airbnb’s own system – in this case a airbnb designated ‘superhost’ was selected.  Superhosts are described by airbnb as “experienced hosts who are passionate about making your trip memorable”.  Finally, sought after attributes of the accommodation were considered.  Identifying with a superhost lent trust that the advertised features of the property would be at or above expectation at check-in.  By selecting based on attributes I sought to tailor a holiday experience. 

Two attributes in particular were chosen with holidaying interests in mind.

The experience turned on the two attributes. On accepting the booking the host sent a wordy email that explained that attribute one (a BBQ) had been “blown away in storms”, and that attribute two “had been removed from the house to Sydney”.  I was flabbergasted.  There had been a critical failure of online commerce.  The host had ready access to an edit function that allows rapid alteration of household features.  So, if the BBQ had been blown away and the other item removed then a user should not need to learn of such after booking.  Instead, the airbnb page should have been edited to ensure that all attributes were current.  Accordingly, the consumer could then deselect the property based on the absence of attributes.  And truly, does a BBQ get “blown away”?

After some thought I decided to move towards seeking restitution.  While attribute two was a nice to have – in fact it was a delightful addition to what was otherwise a superb home – attribute one was critical.  Attribute one served as a means of allowing the holidaying adult male to cook and thus save the holidaying adult female from labour in the kitchen.  Besides, if the family alpha hunter males were successful in the nearby watercourses there would be provision of line caught fish - who wishes to cook fish in a kitchen?  My chosen path was to request the host (by email) to consider the absence of the items and to see if such items could be restored so as to fulfil the booking.  The path of action was not insensible as a customer review showed that the BBQ was made good at short notice when one customer had found it absent.

 The host implemented an immediate follow-on action.  The action resulted in cancellation of the booking.  airbnb supported the cancellation with one of two options that were exercisable at my choosing: i) full refund of original cost, or ii) deployment of full monies plus a bonus credit of 10% value against a subsequent booking.  In implementing the cancellation the host prohibited my conclusive consideration of BBQ options – would I, for instance, bring my own BBQ?

airbnb is unlikely to attract my future interest - a 10% bonus credit is not enough!  I approached airbnb with trust and had identified with their ranking of a superhost.  Something closer to 25% would compensate for the encounter and encourage pursuit of an alternate property from airbnb’s many offerings.