Gadget by The Blog Doctor.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Christmas Letter 2015


We have had a mixed year.

        Dad (Eric)
In March Stephen’s father died after a brief illness. He had been living happily (or as happily as possible after mum passed away) in his nursing home. The photo show him sitting in his favourite chair in his room - which is where we invariable found him when we visited. He became increasingly frail, falling a number of times. The last fall resulted in a fractured hip, from which he never recovered. He was the last of our parents and we really miss him.

(Click photos to view a larger version.)

Here is the video tribute that was put together by Emil


As well Stephen’s youngest daughter Catherine has been battling cancer this year.

She had an aggressive regime of chemotherapy and radiation which was very unpleasant, but the treatment was successful as she is currently cancer free.

She showed great strength, determination, positive attitude and remarkable good humour, during this trial.

We are very proud of her.
Cath profile pic 2015

        Philip and Bev
We are having a wedding in the family!

Philip, Margaret's son, was recently engaged to his girlfriend, Bev.

They will be married in the English summer. Margaret and Michelle will travel to England to attend.
phil and Bev-1

Philip’s daughter, our grand daughter, Hayley, will be going to Africa with her church soon, to assist people in poverty including helping out in soup kitchens, youth groups, fitting solar lights in township and visiting a hospice Hayley-1a

All of our grandchildren continue to thrive. The oldest of them, Joshua, will turn 21 this January. Although we are doing well, a 21 year old grandson makes us feel a little old.

Another indication of the grandkids growing up is that three of them have steady girlfriends.
Josh and Sarah-2 Joshua and Sarah
cam and kim-1 Cameron and Kim Jonathan and Nikki-1 Jonathan and Nikki

The rest of the grandkids are successfully progressing their education from year 12 to year 8. Our second oldest, Cameron, has just started a glazing apprenticeship.


We continue to be actively involved in the life of our Village, attending and sometimes assisting with the organisation of many events.

One continuing tradition is Carol Singing before Christmas. For the last five or six years, our son-in-law, Mark, has organised a musical ensemble to accompany the music. This is greatly appreciated in the Village.

Here is a video of the most recent Carols in the Village event:

Lunches are also a thing...

... as are dances


The highlight of our travel this year was a trip to South Africa, Zambia and Botswana.
        Cape Town

In Cape Town we saw Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned.

The photo to the right shows his cell.
Robben Island (12)
Robben Island (7)
Cape Town from Robben Island
Cape town (56)
Colored houses in Bo-Kapp area

We also spent some time in two National Parks – Kruger (South Africa) and Chobe (Botswana).
        Kruger National Park

It is truly an amazing experience to be 20 to 30 metres away from wild lions feeding on a rhino carcass.
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        Chobe National Park

In northern Botswana, Chobe, has one of the highest concentrations of animals in Africa.
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In Zambia we stayed in a hotel within walking distance of Victoria Falls.

We spent an afternoon at the water fall and also took a helicopter ride over it.

We also went on a elephant ride. (We were assured by the travel company that the elephants were treated well.)
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Livinstrone (15) Livinstrone (1)

We have planned a six week trip to New Zealand early next year. We will travel with our good friends and neighbours, Les and Jenni. The trip will encompass both Islands, and we will spend some time with Dawn and Brian, who we met on the Africa trip. Dawn and Brian live in Oamaru.

Wishing you a great Christmas, and all the best for 2016, 

                                                from Margaret and Stephen

Monday, August 24, 2015

Climate Science - lines of evidence

Under Construction That global temperatures have been warming is known since the 1980s James Hansen and Sergej Lebedeff Global trends of measured surface air temperature First published: 20 November 1987 Journal of Geophysical Research Abstract We analyze surface air temperature data from available meteorological stations with principal focus on the period 1880–1985. The temperature changes at mid- and high latitude stations separated by less than 1000 km are shown to be highly correlated; at low latitudes the correlation falls off more rapidly with distance for nearby stations. We combine the station data in a way which is designed to provide accurate long-term variations. Error estimates are based in part on studies of how accurately the actual station distributions are able to reproduce temperature change in a global data set produced by a three-dimensional general circulation model with realistic variability. We find that meaningful global temperature change can be obtained for the past century, despite the fact that the meteorological stations are confined mainly to continental and island locations. The results indicate a global warming of about 0.5°–0.7°C in the past century, with warming of similar magnitude in both hemispheres; the northern hemisphere result is similar to that found by several other investigators. A strong warming trend between 1965 and 1980 raised the global mean temperature in 1980 and 1981 to the highest level in the period of instrumental records. The warm period in recent years differs qualitatively from the earlier warm period centered about 1940; the earlier warming was focused at high northern latitudes, while the recent warming is more global. We present selected graphs and maps of the temperature change in each of the eight latitude zones. A computer tape of the derived regional and global temperature changes is available from the authors source: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/JD092iD11p13345/abstract Northern Hemisphere Surface Air Temperature Variations: 1851–1984 P. D. Jonesa, , S. C. B. Rapera, , R. S. Bradleyb, , H. F. Diazc, , P. M. Kellyoa, and , and T. M. L. Wigleya aClimatic Research Unit, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK bDepartment of Geography and Geology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA cNOAA, ERL, Boulder, CO American Meteorological Society February 1986 Abstract A new compilation of monthly mean surface air temperature for the Northern Hemisphere for 1851–1984 is presented based on land-based meteorological station data and fixed-position weather ship data. This compilation differs from others in two ways. First, a considerable amount of new data, previously hidden away in archives, has been included, thus improving both spatial and temporal coverage. Second, the station data have been analyzed to assess their homogeneity. Only reliable or corrected station data have been used in calculating area averages. Grid point temperature estimates have been made by interpolating onto a 5° latitude by 10° longitude grid for each month of the 134 years. In the period of best data coverage, 58% of the area of the Northern Hemisphere is covered by the available data network. (The remaining area is mainly ocean too far from land-based stations to warrant extrapolation.) The reliability of hemispheric estimates is assessed for earlier periods when coverage is less than this maximum. Year-to-year estimates are considered reliable back to about 1875. Estimates earlier than this are judged sufficiently good to indicate trends back to 1851. This new land-based hemispheric temperature curve is compared with recent estimates of Northern Hemisphere temperatures based on marine data. The two independent estimates agree well on the decadal time scale back to the start of the century, but important discrepancies exist for earlier times. Source: http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/1520-0450%281986%29025%3C0161%3ANHSATV%3E2.0.CO%3B2 Empirical Data on Contemporary Global Climate Changes (Temperature and Precipitation) K. Ya Vinnikov, P. Ya Groisman, and K. M. Lugina State Hydrological Institute, Leningrad, USSR American Meteorological Society June 1990 Abstract New data are presented on the changes of mean global surface air temperature and annual precipitation over extratropical continents of the Northern Hemisphere. Global warming occurred during the last century with a mean trend of 0.5°C/100 years. It is shown that for the same period the annual precipitation over the land in the 35°–70°N zone increased by 6%. The observed variations of precipitation coincide with the results of general circulation modeling of doubled CO2 equilibrium climate change by sign but contradict by scale.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Eulogy for dad

Emil's Video Tribute:

Stephen presented the sections in black, Philip presented the sections in red.

One day in 1949, a young man knocked on the door of a house in Flemington, Melbourne. In his own words, the door was opened by a “vision of beauty”. He was our dad, Eric Spencer, she was out mum, Edna Goold. He often said that she thought him a country bumkin, something which she never denied when she listened to him he telling us the story. We wouldn’t be here, but for that fateful meeting, and the romance that followed it. Dad said that they courted at the pianola, mum singing and dad pumping away at the pedals. Mum loved singing, but I suspect that the pianola was an excuse to sit together. young mum

Dad was born on 10th January, 1928, in the small country town of Broadford. Although history books often refer to the 1920s as the Jazz Age and a time of relative prosperity, this was more so in the USA and the major towns, rather than small country towns like Broadford. Among dad’s earliest memories were the struggles of his parents to make ends meet. One means of generating income was to take in boarders. During the 1920s the Bush Nurse, boarded with them and used the front entry way (hall) as her office. Anyone wanting to visit the nurse would knock on the front door, those visiting the family would enter by the back door. The advantage was not only monetary, they had their first telephone supplied by the Bush Nursing Association for the nurse. It was also convenient to have a nurse in the house, especially with two young children. She became a friend as well as a boarder.

Dad and his sister Betty were born in the Broadford house, but by 1936 the Bush Nursing Hospital had been built. Dad remembers the morning of Saturday, 11 July 1936. In his own words “My sister and I were unaware that mum was pregnant. Her labour started at about 7:30 am. Dave Newnham the General Store proprietor had been asked to transport mum to the Bush Nursing Hospital when the time came. I was sent to stand on the edge of the Hume Highway and to run back to tell the folk when he drove out of his driveway. I was very proud of being given this duty, but I now realise that it was probably designed to get me out of the way. Bill was born at about 12 o’clock after which dad came and told us the news, which caused great delight to Betty and me. We actually danced around in the street shouting out to all and sundry that we had a little brother.” The brother of course was William, (point to uncle Bill who was sitting in the front row). Dad and betty
Dad’s family were Methodists, and Dad’s father remained a Methodist all his life, but his mum gradually changed over to the Salvation Army. Dad’s parents were not particularly educated, but they valued education highly. They saw education as the way to “get on”. This resulted in a number of important decisions. The Broadford school finished at form 2 (Year 8) but the Seymour school went to year 10. The education provided at Seymour was also considered to be superior. This was one of the reasons the family moved to Seymour. When he had completed his education at Seymour, the decision was taken for dad to take Form 5 (Year 11), this was an unusual decision for families of the Spencer’s social milieu. Dad travelled to the nearest school that covered year 11, Benalla. He boarded there for the week and then travelled home (at considerable expense for the family) on weekends. Later he described how uncomfortable it was being the only working class kid, amongst the sons and daughters of wealthy farmers and shop keepers.
Dad completed his schooling in December 1943 and so required a job. He was a good friend of the State Savings Bank manager and was offered a job interview by the manager. In his own words: “I was accepted by the Bank and started work on 4th January, 1944. I soon discovered that I had again been thrown in at the deep end. All staff, including the new Junior Clerk were expected to perform at a high standard. This included appropriate dress and behaviour. At the interview where I was informed that I had been appointed to the job, the manager commented that I had attended the interview with an open neck shirt. He informed me that, when I worked at the bank, I would be required to wear a tie with sports pants and a sports jacket. As we used pen and ink, we had coats at the bank which we would change in to when we arrived at work so that our good coats would not be soiled. These coats became more disreputable over time. The office coat was a tradition that continued into the 1960s. The dress requirement had been relaxed by wartime exigencies. Before the war, for example, all staff were required to wear a hat when travelling to and from work.”
The banking processes at the time were quite Dicekensian. All of the processes were manual and included a great deal of mental arithmetic. There was no typewriter at the office and all letters were hand written in a letter book which included a carbon copy. One of his tasks was filling the ink wells and checking that the pen nibs were working and scraping the nibs clean, in the public area. Biros had not yet been invented and most writing was done with pens that were dipped in ink wells. He was involved in great changes in banking, and when he retired, bank work was totally computerised. Dad bank picture
Our first five years as a family were spent in Moonee Ponds and then in 1955 we moved to our new house in Glenroy. On Sundays we travelled to Kensington Corps of the Salvation Army, where mum’s parents, Senior Majors Frederick and Irene Goold were officers. They were long days. I remember one dark winter night as we arrived at Glenroy railway station, dad starting up a conversation with another bloke in Army uniform. I remember being quite irritated as Phil, mum and I watched them talk - all I wanted to do was to get home, but from that conversation this building and this Corps came into existence. Granville St House
One of the officers that were at Glenroy in the early days were Brian and Evelyn Golding. They would love to be here but unfortunately not able to. The photo shows Brian and Evelyn Golding with the Divisional Commander in the centre. Brian has sent this following message: I count it an honour and a privilege to pay this tribute to my friend Eric Spencer. Eric was a man of the highest integrity, totally committed to God and the Salvation Army. As a young raw Lieut. straight from the Training College it was Eric who became to me , a Mentor – Teacher – and Encourager in his quiet and unobtrusive way. Eric was the backbone of the newly established Glenroy Corps and so he was committed and passionate about its development and growth. Each week I would meet with Eric and Edna in their home to do the books . Eric being an accountant did the important parts and I took on a minor role. Eric’s neat script for Divisional Headquarters was so easy to read, unlike mine. It was always a very pleasant evening , with Edna providing refreshments and the two boys in the background. Eric also, was the Corps Sergeant Major and how fortunate I was to have a man of his calibre as my right hand man. He was an example to all and one who I could rely on for advice and support. Eric was never one to make a big noise and shout his testimony from the hilltops. He didnt need to do that, for every day his life was a living testimony to God. He lived it. Even today, that testimony still lives on in the lives of those who knew him and loved him. Today , I believe Eric is more alive than ever. Hes just changed his address for a far better one . He’s Home - Hallelujah. Ev and I send our love and prayers to Stephen and Margaret, Phil and Judith and to the families. We loved him too and thank God for his influence on our lives. Gouldings
Dad often performed tasks that did not come naturally to him. I remember in the early years of this corps, him arriving home from work, having a quick meal, and then heading our into the winter evening to collect for the Self Denial appeal. This went on for weeks. He did not like it but he collected as a sense of duty. Years later, when Self Denial was reorganised into the Red Shield Appeal, dad had a job that was much more to his liking – organiser of the money. Margaret tells a story from that time. She took Michelle, Beth and Cath out to collect but later could not find them. When she returned to the hall to tell Eric that she had lost three collectors, he said “don’t worry, they will turn up” but when she told him who they were his attitude changed completely and a search party was quickly organised.
I remember in one of my favourite yearly activities in the early days of this Corps was the Salvation Army Athletics Carnival. As YPSM it fell to dad to organise Glenroy’s event. His days off work were very precious to him, so the last thing he wanted to do organise and attend the athletics, but he did it because it was his duty. I remember one year when he was particularly struggling, and was delighted when Will Canham said that he would take over and that dad could go home. I was grateful to Will as I could enjoy the athletics and not worry about dad. Athletics marching
Dad was a proud man. We did not have a car for a long time, and used to get to this hall by bike or walk. I remember one night after band practice, (when we had walked) some of the bandsmen discussing who would drive us home. I didn’t care, I just wanted to get home. So imagine my surprise when dad said, “Come on boys we are walking home.” As we walked up the path he said “I won’t be treated like a poor relation.” As we walked down Glen street, John Faulds, one of nature’s gentlemen, drove up to us and offered a drive, which dad refused. I suspect that confused John as much as me.
Many people have mentioned dad’s generosity. I remember quite a lot of people (mainly family members) staying with us. Dad could also be financially generous. Both Phil and I could not have bought our first cars without dad’s considerable assistance. One time when dad’s sister, our aunty Betty was staying with us she saved my bacon. Dad and Betty were talking about a book, but we couldn’t find it. I thought (wrongly) that it was in the garage and went looking for it. There was no light so I lit a piece of paper, starting a fire as a consequence. Dad was not happy, but I did not get into much trouble when Aunty Betty reminded dad that he had done a similar thing when he was my age.
Mum and dad were wonderful grandparents, regularly looking after our kids. For instance, Beth and Cathy, and my cousin Stephen’s girls, Elise and Stephanie, walked from Primary School to mum and dad’s house to await Stephen and me picking them up after work. Mum and Dad also looked after Phil and Judith’s kids. The stories the grandchildren have previously told us show how much they loved their grandpa and grandma.
Mum and Dad loved going on holidays together. They often visited the Flinders Ranges and Mount Buffalo, two of their most favourite places. I went with them one time, Steve didn’t because he was doing matriculation (which is now year 12) and so staid home to study. We went to Canberra and through central NSW. That year the drought broke and I can remember that it was very wet! Caravan river crossing
In their later years mum and dad became a complimentary couple. Dad would do the physical work around the house and as dad’s memory deteriorated mum would have the role of remembering what had to be done. When mum’s stroke meant she would have to enter a nursing home dad had to go in to Colton Close with her. In Colton Close dad visited mum twice a day and attended many events just to be with her. Once she passed away he spent most of his time in his room and began a gradual decline. He clearly missed her terribly.

He became increasingly frail, falling a number of times. The last fall resulted in a fractured hip, which he never recovered from.

Dad had a very strong faith. He talked to me many times about this. He loved the songs in the songbook and he had many favourite songs and song writers. In particular he did like benedictions. He loved singing “Praise God I’m Saved, Praise God I’m saved, All’s well, All’s Well, He sets me free” There was also one other benediction he truly loved. Cameron and I went down to Colton Close on the Saturday, just before he went into hospital the second time to fix his chair. I am not sure whether he knew we were there but he was singing. Bill Canham visited Dad in hospital and he also sang it. Dad joined in as well. It is

The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make his face shine upon thee, And be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, And give thee peace.

This benediction gave him great confidence and assurance.

Dad passed away peacefully, in the afternoon of Saturday 14th March.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Letter 2014


It has been a busy year of travel, Village activities and changes in our family.


We spent three months of the year away from home, most of that in North America

North America Tour

For a more detailed report of the North America Tour click on this link.

Here are a few of the highlights:


Grand Canyon


Monument Valley


The Venetian, Las Vegas




John Lennon memorial, New York


The falls at Niagara


Amish farming


Lincoln Memorial, Washington


Butchart Gardens


Bear, Blue River


Athabasca Glacier


Morraine Lake


Rocky Mountaineer (in a tunnel)


Margerie Glacier in Glacier bay, calving.

Bike ride to Skagway

Australia Touring

We also toured in Australia, mainly with out friends, Jenni and Les.

Lakes Entrance

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North Arm Stitch

Port Macquarie

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There are always many activities occurring in the Village, particularly at this time of the year.

The Christmas Party

Carols in the Village

Mark organised and led the band again this year, which was greatly appreciated by the Villagers.

THE Solstice Party / BBQ



Our grandchildren continue to progress through school. Next year we will not have any primary school grand kids with one in each of the following levels: Year 7, Year 8, Year 9, Year 10 and Year 11. They are doing well, for instance Amanda received an Outstanding Effort award!

Two of the grand kids completed their secondary education this year. Hayley has now started at Year 12 / 13 College (the English system is a bit different to the one in Australia). Cameron has completed his VCE and is now working on the best process for entering the police force, which he can't do until he is 21.


Two major work changes this year.

Catherine is taking up a new appointment, developing a Salvation Army presence in West Heidelberg. This has meant shifting house, and Cath and Spencer are very happy with their new accommodation.

David left his contractor's position at Telstra to take up a permanent job with Australia Post. He is doing the same style of work - project managing - developing the Post Office's bill payment system.


We first visited dad in his nursing home. He will be 87 in January is becoming increasingly frail, but regularly assures us that he is well cared for at Colton Close. In the afternoon Phillip took him to his house for afternoon tea. IMG_0449
Catherine organised Christmas lunch this year, at her new house. The weather was near perfect and we ate on her back veradah. As you can see it was attended by Beth and her family, Cath and Spence, Christopher, Christina and Jeff, Margaret and me. IMG_0457
We had Christmas tea at hour house, for Michelle's family, Ian and Rita, Margaret and me; all organised by Margaret. IMG_0463

Merry Christmas from Margaret,

        Happy Saturnalia from Stephen,

                And a happy and prosperous New Year from both of us.