Do you know how your car engine works?

That was the question from my 15-year-old son, Chris.

Am I suppose to know? I thought, somewhat guilty that I had no idea how my car engine worked. And so it was, a few moments ago that I had to learn about car engines. I am smiling as I write this post because I was thinking earlier, what was the point of having a potential engineer in the family when you didn’t care about what their interests or capabilities were? Besides, I did learn something new. I learnt about “controlled explosion that makes a car work” to put it in Chris’s words.


The controlled explosion theory. Google images.


Well you may ask, how does this relate to my stories about extra-ordinary things. Let’s go back to when it all started.

Friday, October 17th October 2014

Apart from his school bag, I saw my son leave the house with a re-cycled groceries back and something heavy inside. I thought, “that’s a lot of lunch for Chris”.  I did not ask him at that time because I thought he could be sharing food with his friends; perhaps they were having a party at school. Teenagers are mysterious but sometimes as a parent you have to trust your instincts and give them some space.

Same day, 3:40pm, Chris walked home carrying the same bag and the bag was still full. He put the bag down on the lounge floor in the corner.

“What’s in the bag?” I asked him.

“My technology project”.

“Is it a child’s toy?” I asked knowing he was working with wood.

“No mum, it’s an engine”.


“It is a 3-cylinder combustion engine”, he said.

Then he explained there was no such thing, (as a 3 cylinder combustion engine) but his replica shows part of an engine.

The class was asked to build a child’s toy initially. I guess Chris wanted to be more creative.

“This children’s toy/ working model of a 3 cylinder combustion engine aims to explain to children in a simple way about what goes on in a engine”, Chris said.

Sunday October 19, 2014

Tonight, curiosity got the better of me, I had to see it. I asked Chris to show me what was in the bag.

“It is not finish mum”.

“I want to see it”.

Chris reluctantly revealed the content of the bag, pictured below and explained how it worked. I was intrigued but at the same time impressed with the woodwork. Although it was only one of many things Chris had designed and build over the years, he is a perfectionist and he was not too happy that I wanted to take a photo. I insisted on a work-in-progress picture and later a follow-up picture to show a completed the engine.  I also asked his permission to blog about the engine and I am sure he thought it was weird but he agreed.

Christopher Harris 3 cylinder combustion engine wood-tech project. Year 11. Kenmore High School.

The wood engine did look like a child’s toy at first. Then my 15-year-old explained how his project was only a replica of a real engine. He demonstrated how it worked by turning the handle. I was  impressed.

Naturally I was trying to place the replica in my car body, in my head. To show me the “big picture” Chris pulled up some pictures. Google helped. I looked at the pictures and realised the magnitude of what was involved in making a car engine. I was quite emotional. I was and am a very proud mother regardless of whether this wooden replica was three or ten cylinders. There are some extra-ordinary rewards in being a parent. So the answer to my question in the post is, yes! now I know how my car works.

Here are some of the Google images.


Google image of a car engine

Owls: The Silent Aerodynamic Hunters

White Owl - wash and ink
My art: A study of snowy owl in ink and wash.
My Art – Owl. Acrylic on canvas.


Above are two  of many artwork I created, purely because I love owls and I find them very interesting.

Growing up in my culture, owls have been linked to death. If you hear an owl consistently calling or crying then, death is near. This was the belief. An owl crying or calling is quite rare but when it does happen, it is quite scary.

Unusual visitors

In some Brisbane (Australia) suburbs and out where we live, there are a few species of owls. The most common one is the Frogmouth. My family and I have had several occurrences with owl visits that I find very interesting and hard to understand. Once we had three owls come into our garden and sit for three days in the same spot. There was another incident where two large owls appeared at the front of our house and sat on a very low dead tree. They must have arrived before we woke up. At first, we thought they were part of the branches of the dried tree trunk. These two sat in the same position for almost a week. I went up very close to them one day and the taller of the two opened its eyes and glared at me – so I left. I hope to find their photos that I took that day and post it here in the future. Despite my cultural learning and spiritual beliefs about these birds, I find them especially interesting because of how quiet and often secretive they are. Sometimes, you don’t know they are there. They can camouflage very well.

Snowy owl picture from

Many owl species have developed specialized plumage to effectively eliminate the aerodynamic noise from their wings — allowing them to hunt and capture their prey in silence. Almost a year ago, a research group started working to solve the mystery of exactly how owls achieve this acoustic stealth — work that may one day help bring “silent owl technology” to the design of aircraft, wind turbines, and submarines. I found this small clip on Click the link below to see the wing action.


To read more:

Short Story – Mother’s Coffee Land

Memoir series – JLeahy

Credit: Dr Wright picture

In the first moon of the coffee season, the bees would have long gone from the sweetness in the coffee blossom. The delicate petals of coffee blossoms would wither, turn brownie-yellow and drop to carpet the base of the trees. Here, under the tree, other insects such as ants would gather around the sticky rotting pulp. This was the picking time. My mother and her sisters would prepare to harvest grandpa’s coffee.

This is my mother’s Coffee Land story.

A coffee plantation in Morobe Province

My grandfather’s name means “intelligent” and so he was. Kauc’s coffee garden was planted on his father’s land, miles away from our village.

To harvest the coffee beans; equipment, food, bags, water and all other necessities for processing had to be carried to the garden on foot. It was a labour-intensive method in which cherries are picked, selected and pulped by hand all day and for several weeks.

The remaining flesh from the pulping process was used as composting material for both the coffee and food gardens. Once the bean was dried, it was shelled. The coffee was now ready to sell and grandpa took it to town and in exchange, he bought sugar, rice and a small stick of tobacco. The tobacco was his treat, although he rarely smoked. My mother often wondered why he spent his hard-earned money on tobacco he did not really smoke. She said perhaps he shared it with his friends.

The coffee garden was Kauc’s pride and joy. Being a male and the second eldest in his family, Kauc owned a large piece of land. He was a devout Lutheran and a teacher. Kauc loved the land and he tried some cocoa and his coffee garden for cash.

The coffee garden, near our food garden, was situated less than an hour walking distance from our small coastal village outside Lae, Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea. Kauc grew Arabicas. With a high rainfall and good soil, the trees grew well and produced top quality beans. The family did not drink this coffee. They drank tea which came from Garaina, a sub-district in our province. This coffee garden was purely cultivated as a cash crop.

When the coffee berries ripened they developed a glossy sheen on its deep red shades. My mother, her sisters and my grandparents would go to the garden to pick the coffee and spend the whole day sorting and processing.

Sometimes, they would take a break and make a fire in nearby kunai (grassland) to surround and trap bandicoots for lunch. This made the long day interesting.

My mother said she would feed me milk and lay me down in a bilum (string bag) and hang the bag on a Rosewood branch. Under the shade, the cool breeze kept me asleep while she and her sisters picked coffee. My grandfather washed and peeled the red skins, revealing pale beans. The sisters would pick and bring bags of the red cherries and pour them into my grandpa’s pulper.

“He would stand there in his laplap and T shirt and just turn the handles until the machine skinned and spit the pale brown seeds out the other end. The seeds were collected and dried in the sun. He was in charge of this machine” my mother said.

The trees and in particular, the Rosewood tree became the landmark. Memories of the coffee garden surfaced in a family argument over land allocation eight years ago. My grandfather and his brother were the head of our family and clan. Both men had died three decades ago. Their sons, my two uncles who became head of our clan and land had also died. My mother remains the eldest of the family and clan. Her being a woman brought another cultural and customary argument about where she would live.

According to my cousin brothers, my mother should not have any land. Fortunately for my mother, and for the fact that she was born the daughter of an intelligent man, she stood up for her share. My mother made sure she had spoken to my uncles and got both their approvals before they died. When my uncles asked her to choose, she had marked the land where she used to hang me in a bilum, while she picked coffee with her father. This coffee garden became her land. In memory of her father, my mother named her son Kauc and I named my son Kauc.

Unspoilt treasures of Papua New Guinea. An underwater short film. presents an Underwater Short Film.
Please Like, Share and Comment!
The Rolling in the Deep series takes us to Papua New Guinea. One of the last unspoiled diving destinations left on earth.
I hope you enjoy it!
All Underwater Video Copyright © Dustin Adamson/ All Rights Reserved

Could you live in this giant ice cube?

At first, I thought a house had fallen off a cliff-side when I saw this image. There were no crash pieces, no dents and the house seemed in good shape. I have to admit the picture also made me disoriented. I probably would feel dizzy standing next to the actual building. I had even thought it was a Photoshop ‘nonsense’ when I saw the picture.  That first impression led me to research.  It took me a little while before I discovered that the house was real.  It is a retreat cabin. And of course it made the “Cool Stuff” category in my blog.  I think it is an amazing piece of architecture. I love the sustainability aspect of the cabin and how clever the designers were in blending this work-of-art into its surroundings in a subtle and playful way. View links to take you inside the ‘ice-cube’.

Block of Tumbling Ice Inspiration

Czech architects Atelier 8000 designed this monolithic cube retreat for the mountains of northern Slovakia. Inspired by glaciers, the architects envisioned a block of ice tumbling down a mountainside and crashing into the snowy landscape. The building was designed for the Kežmarská Chata (Kežmarská Hut) international competition, and it contains a restaurant, a sleeping area and ski storage for visitors.

Read more: This Crazy Solar-Powered Cabin Looks Like a Giant Ice Cube Atelier 8000 Kežmarská Hut – Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building

Pacific Climate Warriors to blockade Australia coal export



By Jemima Garrett and staff

ABC reported that the Pacific Climate Warriors have arrived in Australia today to mount a protest against the Australian coal industry and call for action on climate change. The group made up of young Pacific Islanders represent 13 countries.  They brought five specially made traditional canoes, which will lead a fleet of boats to blockade the coal port of Newcastle. In the group is the daughter of Marshall Islands president Christopher Loeak.

“The coal port is the largest in the world and there are plans for it to expand and we want to bring the message that the expansion is definitely going to have an effect on the islands, not just in the Marshalls but all over the Pacific,” said Milan Loeak.

“We just want to share our stories and make sure that people are aware that the decisions that are being made over here are directly affecting our islands back home.”

The Warriors are in Australia as part of’s protest of the port, which will culminate in a flotilla of the Warriors and Australian volunteers blocking coal exports for a day on Friday.

Fiji Climate Warrior George Nacewa said he had already seen villagers displaced by rising sea levels. He said the expansion of the port would have wide-ranging effects.

“These expansions will affect us and I live in a generation that has inherited a perfect environment but I am not too sure if I can pass this on to my kids and future generations to come,” he said.

Getting their send-off in Vanuatu, Iasoa Chief Kawea Sausiara told the Warriors the canoes carry a vital message.

“If climate change is not stopped we will lose our cultural activities. This is the message that we must remember. If not, Vanuatu will be nothing more than a wasteland,” he said.

A rare find on Newcastle shores

Locals found a rare beaked whale beached on Newcastle this morning. “For a very, very long time not much has been known about them and so every time we even find one that is dead on the beach, it is a treasure trove for the scientists”, said ORCCA vice-president Shona Lorigan.





Marine experts are examining the rare beaked whale. The three to four-metre-long animal was found dead on Redhead Beach, south of Newcastle, this morning.

Marine experts have been called in to examine the whale and take specimens.

Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia (ORCCA) president Ronny Ling said the find was extremely rare.

“It’s a deep sea animal called a beaked whale,” he said.

“We’re yet to identify the exact species but what we can tell you about these animals is they are rare animals.

“You normally only find them when they wash up or when they strand and they are very, very seldom seen at sea, so it has great scientific value there. It is rare everywhere and not just Australia”.


“If you don’t love us – leave”: Woolies racist shirts

After so much publicity about the Abbott government’s foreign policy and the plight of the “Boat People”, a recent apparel stocked on the shelves of Woolworths, a popular grocery chain shocked Australian public. Seen on the media and across social network today, Woolworth stores were told to remove the singlets (pictured below) which had the order: “If you don’t love us – leave”.

Ooops! came the response. That was not the shirt we ordered and not what we represented (even if it was already selling and ON the shelves). I bet the poor replenishing staff (mostly young people who work part-time and do casual work between school) got into trouble. Well someone had to be blamed.


Gotham: Warner ‘sorry’ for ‘blacking up’ white stunt woman to pass for black actress

The question is: “Why did Warner Bros do that?”

The series also star’s Jada Pinkett Smith (pictured), mafia mobstress Fish Mooney.


Gotham: Warner ‘sorry’ for ‘blacking up’ white stunt woman to pass for black actress.

Studios have since hired a black stunt woman for filming in New York.

Television bosses have admitted it was a “mistake” to “black up” a white stunt woman so she could pass for a black actress on hit American crime TV show Gotham.
Producers on the Warner Bros television show retracted plans to use a white stunt woman during filming in New York next week after industry website Deadline queried the practise.

On Monday dark make up was reportedly applied to the face of a white stunt woman for a hair and make-up test. Warner Bros. has since said it will hire a black stunt woman instead after being questioned by members of the press.

“A mistake was made this week in casting a stunt woman for a guest star in a particular scene on the show,” Warner Bros. said in a statement. “The situation has been rectified, and we regret the error.”

Batman spinoff GothamBatman spinoff Gotham“Blackface” or “painting down” stunt men and women so they can pass for black has been branded “unacceptable” and “improper” by the US Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA).

Industry experts claim that despite the theatrical genre of “blackface”, where a white actor where’s dark make-up, is becoming increasingly rare (it was hugely popular in the 1930s), the practise of using stunt men and women who are white to depict black actors has been going on for decades.

Gotham, which airs on Channel 5 in this country and America’s Fox Network, is a Batman spinoff series developed by Bruno Heller. The series stars Ben McKenzie as Gordon, a member of the Gotham City police force.


Overtime – Earning more or Losing more?

One of the things I love about being older and having “been there, done that” is that I am beginning to understand what life is all about. Everything is starting to make a lot more sense. I keep learning and one of those things I have come to realise was, how much time I have spent/lost in a nine to five job. The nine to five job routine has never appealed to me. Sometimes I wonder if I had gained enough money doing that extra time in comparison to the living that I have lost.

Sadly, we are conditioned to believe that our nine to five job IS what life is all about. We often get stuck in the routine…forever! Before we know it, we are too old to enjoy what we truly aspire to do. I wasn’t going to blog about “overtime” tonight – really.

It was London Live celebrating the National Poetry Day and while listening to some poetry I came across Mr Gee’s interpretation of the 9 to 5 job and the More Overtime. I could not have put my view about a day job any better. Mr Gee’s spoken word inspired this post. I would like to put it out there that if there is something good you really want to do in life – go and do it!


Tribalmystic is storytelling about people, places, and things that have extraordinary stories. Author: Joycelin Leahy

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