Monday, 23 February 2015

I popped back mainly to say hello. My new photo (Harry Fromm look-alike) features a fake gun you will be relieved to know. I found it at a local supermarket among toys reduced after Christmas. 
This photo is of Luna Park in Sydney. Last time I visited, must have been sixty years ago and it was that visit which turned me off it forever. The new Rotor had been installed, received publicity and of course I had to try it. For those who do not know, the Rotor is like a well that has a floor that starts high enough so one can step onto it. Then the floor drops until the walls of the well are high enough so riders are inside the well and can't fall out. Then the 'well' begins to spin and accelerates until all riders are stuck to the walls, held there by centrifugal force. Then the floor is lowered again so onlookers can observe the phenomenon. Unfortunately, I was not happy. As speed increased, my inner ear told me I was lying down but my eyes disagreed and saw other victims spinning and the grinning idiot observers above, swirling around. That, as any sailor will tell you, is the precursor for seasickness. The eyes and ears send conflicting messages and up comes anything consumed in the last few hours. I had eaten a meat pie, an apple pie and washed them down with an industrial sized caramel malted milk shake. Luckily I got off before the eruption, but the nearest garden bed received an unusual load of mulch.

Luna Park
The Rotor, supposed to be lovely
We rode on it, spinning like buggery.
But what looked so easy,
Made me very queasy.
I threw up right there in the shrubbery.

Go to Magpie Tales to read some wonderful poems and stories from Tess's friends.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Wet dogs, kids, Nazis and roundabouts.

Note: This post was published in 2011, but the original was invaded by scammers to the point I copied the legitimate bits and deleted the original. :-)

We know what happens when a wet dog shakes itself and some always seems to get into your mouth! At the moment of impact have you wondered in what possible abominations your temporarily despised pet might have been rolling? Maybe you have, but then did you wonder at the forces that propel those contaminated droplets in your direction at speeds beyond your ability to avoid them?
Centripetal force, circular motion. That’s what it is. It is that force that makes a stone fly from a sling or a satellite stay up there.
Now, I direct your attention to a previous post that talked about the globe slowing a little (I postulated a change of 0.0137 seconds longer days by the year 2050) and then take your imagination back about four and a half billion years, when the whole glowing hot mess of oxides nitrogen and iron settled itself into orbit, third planet from its birth mother.

As mainly gases, imagine how much larger it would have been and how far from the axis its centre of spinning force must have been!
I am not about to try the math, but if we take ocean water again then imagine it all as vapour (steam to me and you), and if you like, include coal and oil, no longer buried, but in the atmosphere as CO2 , we realise that our planet would have been, by volume at least, predominately atmospheric gas, extending its weight hundreds, perhaps thousands of kilometres further out from where it is now, way below sea and ground level.

Don't go, because here is where the story really starts. It includes a confession of the method I used to teach ‘Conservation of Energy’ to otherwise disinterested eleven year olds.

We all went to the local park where there stood an old fashioned roundabout, all weathered wood and rusty tubing. That wonderful piece of scientific equipment is long gone, removed by Child Safety Nazis, possibly as a result of the use to which it was put by me. Nevertheless, let me confess what we did. It was really me, but I use the royal we to suggest shared responsibility.

We placed six of the smallest children at the centre, instructing them to hold on tightly no matter what. Then at the outer end of each of the six radiating bars, a larger child, with feet on the edge and body hanging out as far as possible, was instructed to listen for a signal from me. Other children spun the roundabout with its human appendages until they could impart no further energy.
Then, on the signal, the hangers-on pulled themselves towards the centre as quickly as they could.

What happened? Well, the whole system accelerated alarmingly and all were screaming with delight or terror until the signal was given for the moving bodies to slip back to the perimeter when it slowed again, allowing the guinea pigs off, to laugh hysterically, run for the washroom to vomit or demand a second go, depending on the strength of their stomachs or predilection to self harm.
But I guarantee their understanding of conservation of energy, levers and centripetal force were never forgotten.
So what has that got to do with the speed of rotation of our planet at its birth billions of years ago?

OK, let’s go find one of those old fashioned roundabouts and we can pretend we are water vapour and CO2 condensing towards the centre of the planet, and see what it does to its rotation.
Here it is expressed as a mathematical equation: v2 / r =a, where ‘a’ is centripetal acceleration, ‘v’ is velocity in meters per second, and ‘r’ is the radius of the circle in meters. Don't let that worry you. Suffice to say, any reduction in ‘r’ really gives ‘a’ some ‘wow’!

That suggests our planetary rotation speed has accelerated considerably over the last few billion years from when there might have been only a couple of hundred days or less in a year.
You understand? No? OK, climb onto the roundabout and hang on!


  1. Whacko Stafford, what a great experiment. I was one of the chuckeruppers. Those things always brought my lunch up. Where would that have ended up in the ancient scheme of things. Hopefully not returning to slap me in the face.

    As primary school teacher eons ago my only science experiment along these lines was to smack a very tiny and incredibly annoying grade onner so hard it nealy put him into orbit.
  2. I hate to admit I am so slow... but you leave me wondering... I enjoyed reading about your experiment, and I'm sure the young people never forgot, if they understood at all. But a fun way to learn.
  3. child safety Nazis ...we have them here too
    No more fun at the playground
    I'll get on if you do the spinning
  4. No idea what your point is Stafford but it still made an entertaining read :)
  5. Stafford,
    It must have been real education for the kids. Such events stayed on in memory longer than trying to understand through just reading the difference of movements between centripetals and centrifugals.... Whew! There's a lot to chew in that one. Great!
  6. Teachers who make lessons interesting are never forgotten by their students :)
    Have you been watching Wonders of the Universe (Tues ABC1)? The enthusiastic young man presenting it makes it all very interesting and understandable. He doesn't look old enough to be a professor though!
  7. hmmmm....does that mean I get a lie in or not...?
  8. My blog, facebook account and email account were all hacked and my passwords changed so that I couldn't get back in. Hate mail was sent in my name. Horrendous posts were published in my name, and I had to replace my computer.

    All in the name of vicious people expanding as if by centrifugal force into the world.

    I went to the sheriff (no help there) but the cowards thought there MIGHT be help there, so they shut down LIFE IS GOOD.

    Somehow, I found you again.
  9. I must say to anyone with the temerity to venture back here, as a non-attached casual science/maths/drama/music/literacy teacher, I was given freedom to do lots of interesting stuff like that. We worked out what Pi was using swings as pendulums, and moved a gigantic log using levers and cooled our drinks in water by adding salt, etc, etc.
    My question was always; "Work out why that happened and tell us next time and remember, there are no wrong answers!"
    I do miss it.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Malala Yousafzai - my hero.

This is the picture I choose to illustrate my last post of the year. This young woman was on her way to school when she was shot in the head by men, who were so frightened of educated women, they were willing to murder a young girl to shut her up. She recovered enough to reveal to the rest of us exactly why we must educate girls. In all the bluster and bloodshed that is our world, she is a voice of reason and compassion. Let's hope her passion and message encourages more women to speak up.
This poem was written in an appeal to women, particularly Muslim women, who are over represented in groups that are currently in conflict between (mainly) men. Lysistrata was a mythical woman of Greece, a thousand years before Mohammed and two and a half thousand years before ISIL. The Taliban would have been terrified of her too.

 Lysistrata in Hijab. 

Children of Islam, 
virgins all. 
Unrequited, stunted, tragic. 
Educated in ignorance 
to worship death. 

 Mothers of Islam, 
virgins no more. 
Prisoners of your own making. 
Only you can set them free, 
your children and your men.

I wish all my friends a happy holiday season.
Whatever religion you follow, or if you follow none, we are all Human Family and I love you.

Pic: Courtesy Wiki.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Cutting down to size.

My mother fed me all good stuff, but still I am quite small.
Compounding my deficiency, I married someone tall.
But all went well, until one night,
She laughed and mocked my height.
T’was then I lost it, cut her head off, threw it down the hall.

Thanks you again Tess for another kinky prompt.

 At a friend's suggestion, I sent a copy of Cull to her friend at the Pentagon. I hope he complains loud and long! BTW, the cheapest way to send books from Australia to anyone in the US, (probably even cheaper within the US), is through the Book Depository in the UK. A$26, London to Virginia!

Monday, 24 November 2014


It’s water my dear, I agree,
Like lakes and sweet raindrops, you see.
But lest you first boil it,
‘tis certain to spoil it.
So please do not use it for tea. 

Old saying: ‘Take the pot to the kettle, not the kettle to the pot’.
Thanks Tess for what you do.
Book launch Thursday 27th 5.30 and the Vulcan Café Moruya.

Friday, 14 November 2014

WTF! What idiot would not welcome this!?

"A secretly negotiated agreement between the US and China to lower greenhouse-gas output faced a wall of opposition on Wednesday from Republicans in Washington, who threatened to use their control of both houses of Congress to thwart the plan."

 Now roll ahead to the next Presidential election which the Republicans are odds on to win, and we have the scenario for 'CULL' the novel.

If the US pulls back on renewables as Australia is doing, China will be leading the world in the 'Fight against Climate Change'. If you have not read Cull by Stafford Ray (me), take a look.

The potential for disaster is explored there and its premise is becoming ever more frighteningly real. Now available for Kindle etc.
PS. Busy doing book signings and trying to complete the next book. :-)

Monday, 20 October 2014

High Care Facility.

This last weekend, I, along with Jo and Chloe (the dog) took the caravan to the far south coast for a couple of days. When I lived there to nurse my dying mother, as anyone who has done that will attest, depression was never far away. So I joined a writers group to get the feelings out. At the writers meeting on Saturday, I renewed contact with some old friends, read some of 'Cull' and sold a few copies. But in the back of my mind was this poem, probably the best I wrote while nursing Mum, after she was committed to an 'Aged high care facility'. She understood the need for the move, but to see her there day after day, waiting to die, was heart breaking and I still cannot read this poem aloud without tears.

She sits and she stares
at the door to her world
from which she came,
to this allotted space.

Beautiful mind,
cruelly spared.
Taunted though empty days
and long, long, grieving nights,
by mem’ry of lost relevance.

Craving assurance;
a human embrace,
while latex plastic hands
touch only from necessity.

This little time, a miser’s gift.
Last chance to ease her passing,
with what will not be given;
The final validation of her existence.

 Thanks Tess for your wonderful prompts . Book launch date set for 27th November but the way it is going, the print run might have been sold out by then! One reviewer said "A cross between David Suzuki and John Grisham". How about that! Now available through Amazon.

Monday, 6 October 2014

A hydrant too far.

Damn drat and blast, I am caught on the wire
Far too much haste, now I’ll tear my attire.
You ask me; ‘Why run?’
I say; ‘Not for fun-
You’d hurry too, if your pants were on fire!’

Thanks again Tess for another interesting prompt.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Nice place to visit, but…

Sometimes, art is
expressing what is possible,
posing life’s conundrum,
visions of improbable.

Sometimes, art is
a wallow, so sublime
it’s understood by no-one;
A noble waste of time.

 I read yesterday that Ken Follett and I have two things in common. We were both brought up in Plymouth (Exclusive) Brethren families and we both play bass guitar. But there the parallels end. He has sold 176,000,000 copies of his books. I have sold about nine and am twelve years older. So dear reader, if I am to catch up, you had better hurry up and buy one!

Thanks again Tess for scrounging around for interesting images to challenge and inspire.

Monday, 22 September 2014

At the beach, almost all people hide their keys and wallets in their shoes.

Hot sun, warm breeze, just you and me.
We lazed for hours, beside the sea.
Then home, then back,
Alas alack!
The tide came in; can’t find my key!

Book (Cull Stafford Ray) now available at Booktopia (Australia) and and of course from the publisher . Book Depository still out of stock. Getting some great reviews. (keep them coming in.)
Thank you Tess for your continuing support for writing and writers.