Monday, May 29, 2023

Tank? Empty

The state premier of Western Australia has just resigned, citing exhaustion. He said his portfolio as premier and treasurer will finish by the end of this week. To paraphrase the words of Aotearoa's  (New Zealand's) former Prime Minister Jacinda Adern, his tank is empty. He's done. He's out.

State Premier Mark McGowan closed off the state from the rest of the country in the early days of the Covid pandemic and it afforded us about 18 months of relative normaility. This sounds weird, I know. But we didn't have to endure many local lockdowns - because the state was also shut off from the world. It was really cool. There was no Covid here. We could move around as much as we wanted to. Nobody got sick from Covid in the early days because it just simply didn't exist here. He did that.

When the federal election happened last year, Labor won on a landslide, mainly on the back of various Labor politicians such as McGowan, who'd fought so hard for public health. His decisions were often unpopular. He'd declared opening borders by a certain date and then abruptly closed the borders again. We in Western Australia were called the 'hermit kingdom' and 'cave dwellers' by right wing pollies and journalists in the Eastern states, merely for being anti Covid. Our geographical advantage was obvs.

So the Premier gave a press conference today, stating his resignation. He didn't cry. His wife looked stoked (Oh boy I can only imagine) and he then bowed out with not a Royal Commission or ICAC review ahead of him.

Good job Mark and I thank you for your service.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Camera Trap

Lately I've been trying to work out how to set up camera traps. This is not a creepy thing ... I live in the forest and would like to see what other critters are getting around at night around my place. A while ago, I strapped a camera trap to a tree close to my house. Tonight I put the SD card from the camera into my computer. Here's what came up.

The cameras are set up with motion sensors to take a picture. This night on the 29th, I walked around the camera to see if it would set off a flash, but it didn't. I walked away, wondering if it worked or if I'd set it up incorrectly. Turns out, I misunderstood infra red capabilities! Derr, Sarah.

Here are some rabbits:

And then, there is me in my ugg boots, today, going in to check the camera trap.

So all we got on camera was a few rabbits and my Ugg boots. But it was a pretty cool experiment. 


Thursday, May 4, 2023

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Pistols at Noon

There's a hut in the bush close to my place. It's called Old Smoky because the fireplace doesn't work that well. Old Smoky is on the same property as mine. It's clad in blue asbestos and corrugated iron and the floorboards are made of jarrah timbers. The windows are not glass but plastic blinds. There is no toilet and only the remains of a gas shower.

The whole while I've lived here, a man by the name of Wally stays in Old Smoky on occasion. He always comes over to say hi and let me know that he's in the vicinity. After that, we leave each other alone. He walks out a mullet net in the evenings and sometimes brings me some fillets. He'll bring a load of split jarrah for firewood and stash it in the old rainwater tank, set sideways, like another hut or shelter but to keep warmth and cooking fuel dry, not people..

The commercial fishermen came one year and moved into Old Smoky. Chicky and Brownie found Old Smoky a welcome refuge from camping on beaches in tents. The hut is on private property but they just moved in anyway. I go visit them and sometimes partake in their moonshine. It's rough liquor and the air in the hut is always smoky and close. Brownie chainsmokes tailormades and Chicky is the one who makes the liquor. Chicky and Brownie sleep on swags laid across iron bedstands.

Last year, another man came to stay in Old Smoky. He was confused and alone, a dislocated product of divorce, a lack of meds and the pandemic. I know he'll hate me for saying this, but that is what I saw. He gave me some soap and incense which was a nice gist and told me he was moving into the hut.

So while I was used to Wally and his respectful ways around Old smoky and while I was used to the fishermen turning up when the inlet opened for netting seaon, this Bear Grylls character was a new one. He was trying to do a Broke Inlet version of the TV series Alone except that it also involved asking me to charge his mobile phone on my solar system's inverter and lend him twenty bucks when he ran out of wine.

So. That was a bit weird and I expressed as much to Wally next time he turned up. He was kind of incensed. Not about me having an odd neighbour but that someone was moving into his hut. It's not Wally's hut but Wally was still pissed. After three weeks Bear Grylls gave up on his plan of living off the land and moved back to Albany. On my trips to the city I still occasionally see him walking up the main street in his camo gear and DriZaBone..

Then the fishermen moved in again. They burnt all of Wally's split jarrah, that load of wood Wally had so covetously collected and stashed. They burnt it in the dodgey fireplace Old Smoky is famous for, over the whole netting season. Wally came back in the spring to find all his firewood gone. So now was he doubly pissed. Not only have people been using his hut (which he does not own) but they've taken all of his fucking firewood! (Fair call)

Wally fortifies the door and puts a padlock on Old Smoky. He plants some tomatos, chillies and a lemon tree over the mullet frames he's buried. This is a territorial war,verified by vegetables. I know I've gone from past tense to present tense but shit is getting real now folks. Bear with me.

Today, the fishermen returned and Wally was waiting for them. He knew they'd be here on the first of May and he moved his whole famility into Old Smoky for two weeks. Brownie and Chicky came up from the beach to see me, after they'd launched the boat and moored it in the inlet. 'Wally's in Old Smoky?' Chicky asked me.

'Yes,' I said. 'Would you like to borrow my tent?'

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

The automaton and the writer child

 Re my last post, this is interesting: I love this video

Saturday, April 15, 2023

Using artificial intel in academia and real life

Since ChatGPT came in late November 2022, there's been a heap of chatter in academia about how to go about marking essays. I was talking to a fellow tutor today who has just marked about 150 essays in the sciences department and they reckon about 75% were written using AI. Or that AI wrote these essays. Pick your weapons here.

I can just imagine those dispiriting hours, trawling over essays that have been written by a bot and trying to work out which students have written their own work and whatnot. The standard plagiarism software that crawls the web doesn't work here, so it's up to the tutor to work out whether or not someone has plugged in some commands to a chat bot to create the perfect essay.

So far, with such small classes, I haven't had to encounter it so far. Plus working in the Humanities areas of creative writing and the classics of English literature, the emphasis for essays is on individual takes rather than regurgitating facts. There has always been a bit of essay sharing stuff going on but that stuff is easily picked up.

My feeling is that a lot of students are relying on their final marks, as opposed to actually learning anything. High marks lead to scholarships, placements and doctorate awards. These awards are worth $$$K. So regularly handing in a perfect essay using a chat bot probably works for them. That's my devil's advocate argument. If you are paying a shitload for a degree, then why not monetise the said degree?

Personally, I see AI like ChatGPT as being useful for grunt work, and quite often women's work. That grant application, that letter to a politician, that job requiring vacuuming the lint out of corners. The demeaning or tedious work could be done by a bot. Toilets are a pretty good example. I'm all for bots cleaning our toilets. In education it gets spicier.

In intellectual property rights, it gets spicier still. I can ask ChatGPT to write a story based on Sarah Toa's A WineDark Sea and it will crawl the web, find my content and produce a story. No IPR are attributed to me but the 'writer' can add commands like 'make it funnier' or 'make it more heartfelt' and it will proceed to churn out a blog post pretty much the same tone as me writing. 

The local newspaper has been using AI for a while now. Like I said, women's work. They've been struggling for funding and/or advertisers and this is the easy way for the editor to go. It's ... yes it's awful ... but it's here.

Friday, April 14, 2023

You shall not pass

This morning, driving to work, I nearly got cleaned up by another four wheel drive. The exodus out of this holiday town after the Easter long weekend is always pretty hectic and there can be some bad behaviour on the highway. This morning, a man towing his boat was temporarily inconvenienced by some boomers crawling up a long hill with their caravan. He lost his patience and tried over-taking the caravan on double white lines. Blind corner.

I came around said blind corner and this guy towing the boat was right there. It was looking like a head-on crash. He had nowhere to go and I had nowhere to go except the soft gravel shoulder, which I took to at about 90 kilometres per hour. Then he threw out an anchor, slipped back in behind the caravan again and gave me a cheery wave. The two cars continued, one towing a caravan, the other a boat, heading home from the holiday town.

I had to stop the car and take a few minutes to collect myself. That wave was weird. He'd nearly  killed several people ... and he just fucking waves?

I was a bit late to work and still rattled when I got there. Now that the fire season is drawing to a close, one of my other jobs is in a place called The Valley of the Giants. The Giants is in reference to the Tingle trees, three kinds of Eucalypt that only grow in this area. Tingles have a character all to their own amongst the Karris and Marris. Remember the Ents from Lord of the Rings? These trees are like Ents. They are warty and wizened and live for centuries. You can just imagine them scooping up doomed warriors and marching them to safety. Except the Tingles themselves are in trouble, due to a changing climate and declining rainfall. They are remnant citizens from another era.

The sky walk is a steel structure based on suspension bridge engineering which takes tourists through the canopies of these trees. The sky walk sways and breathes as you walk along it. At 40 metres above the forest floor with seemingly little between yourself and certain death, it can sometimes feel like your body is screaming no no no!

One of my favourite jobs is not in the gift shop but up on pylon 2, the second highest pylon at about 38 metres. At that height, I'm in the canopy. Trees are breathing all around me. It's almost pure oxygen. It smells amazing.

Today, after my near-fatal on the roads, I got up there and watched the wind rip across the top of the trees. The thinner Yellow Tingles swayed and swirled. Pylon 2 swayed too. The stoic Red Tingles stayed stoic. It began to rain and then it began to hail! Bright little buckshots of ice bounced on the checkerplate steel, the air electrified with nitrogen. I had my overcoat and umbrella and watched as tourists straggled towards me, hailstones bouncing off green umbrellas and 3 dollar rain ponchos, those beautiful trees beside me, just breathing out oxygen.

Saturday, April 8, 2023

Theseus' Car

 Wow ... March 8th was my last post. Well it's fitting that it is now April 8th. Do any of you other bloggers have that sick sense in the stomach for not fulfilling everyone else's requirements? I do, but hell, I've been busy.

Here is me in my rabbit coat with another mammal friend Harry. Harry is one of those friends who I don't see often these days. He waits until the initial excitement and greetings are over, then jumps into my lap for a personal gidday. My dog is thirty times his size but Harry has swag and has always held it over the rottweiler cross. He no cute lapdog, this one is the Black Prince.

In other news, I'm still replacing parts of my car, hence this post's title. The car is now at least twenty years old and I'm coming to the space where I have regular conversations with my mechanic on the Greek Myths. Like, if I replace every part of this car, is it still the same car? Should I replace it with a new car? Covid made prices for new or second hand four wheel drives go through the roof. To maintain an old four wheel drive means pretty much replacing everything. My mechanic is remaining stoic on the subject of Theseus. I did notice however, that his wife keeps a ball of string behind the counter.

This week is the end of fire season for me, so all those kilometres of driving summer gravel roads are coming to pay me back re the yearly fuel allowance. A new turbo charger (the seals were damaged due to corrugations and it's now leaking oil) plus some new shockies (obvs!). In previous years, I've replaced the head, the gearbox, the tyres, a few panels and a roo bar.

Anyway, enough about the car and fuck Theseus' boat. Here's some photos of eagles. Terribly sorry if you associate with Prometheus. You know, livers etc etc.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Grader Driver

Today I'm going to talk about grader drivers. Grader drivers hold a large part of my mind's life. Anyone who has ever lived down a gravel track will know what I mean. 

The track to my house is ten gravel kilometres long, so six miles in the euro lingo. I travel this track every day, have done for the last seven years and sometimes it's just the fucking worst. It's my car that I feel most for, but secondly my mental health. Sometimes the corrugations and pot holes get so bad that I am crying by nearing home, knowing I'm contributing to the condition of the track as much as suffering those bastardy corrugations, that I'll pay with both travel and maintenance. It gets worse. Every year of driving the track, I pay for broken radiator mounts (three times now), new tyres, shock absorbers and all the shit I've lost off the back of the ute on the way.

Anyway, the grader driver came today. The grader driver is like this kinda Zen doctor who puts everything right with the world. That's how I see him. He grades the road so smooth and flawless that people like me fall at his feet in wonder and worship.

Grader drivers work alone in often lonely landscapes. They grade a road and may never know who silently thanks them for the work they do. They are like garbage collectors or nurses.

Today I pulled up beside the grader. It's a huge machine and he kept the engine running as I spoke. 'Thank you!' I yelled. ''I love grader drivers.' 

I couldn't hear his reply over the grader but he was smiling and giving me a thumbs up. The rest of the track felt like I was floating. So smooth. This guy?

 He should be paid like a CEO.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Top Gun Warlitch

I've been logging wedgetail eagle visits to the granites of the tower lately. Writing down the date, time and number of eagles. Most days a young male eagle visits, cruises around the tower and then flies away across forest country. He's my regular, bright colours, patches of white amongst the striking pattern across his wings. Sometimes in the tower, I'll feel a shadow fall across the summit and there he is. Today was an extended visit. It was thrilling! Sometimes I thought he'd land on the mountain in front of me. Later, two of his siblings hit the skies above me, sending the other birds up to harass them.


Monday, February 20, 2023

Telephone Road

 This story is about trying to meet and not meeting the closest fire tower person to me.

At the beginning of every fire season, I have anxiety dreams about climbing up to the fire tower. It's something I do with every hat I'm wearing. When the academic semester starts, I have anxiety dreams a little short of appearing in front of my class with no clothes on. We all know the deal. Anxiety about an approaching challenge is like getting tattooed twice - feel the pain once through apprehension, then feel the pain again when it actually happens. It's a waste of our energy, but it's real. My anxiety dreams at the beginning of fire season are all about climbing ladders, climbing out into the abyss, only clouds beneath me and a flimsy bit of rusty steel to hold me.

Which is ridiculous, because the fire tower I work on is firmly set on the top of a granite peak. There are only two ladders to climb and they are sturdy, aluminum checkerplate. The rest of the climb is concrete steps and a rather brutally inclining bitumen path, riddled with tiger snakes.

Today, I discovered the source of these anxiety dreams. For the last few years, I've heard the nearest fire tower to me (let's call it Telephone Tower) over the regional transmitters. It's always a man and he does the same as me: calls in the weather and visibility on the hour, and reports smokes. He uses the same reporting system as me - coordinates and smoke descriptions - and often the spotter pilots converse with him, as they do with me, about a new fire in the district. It's a department thing. But he is chimerical, this figure in my life. It's just his voice and the weather stats and yet here we are, both sitting atop fire towers.

We've never communicated because we are in different districts and too far away to see each other's smokes. So today on a rare day off, I decided to track down Telephone Tower and have a cuppa with the tower man. I even bought him a custard pie from a bakery on my way.

It's difficult to find this tower out Nannup way. Goggle Maps gives everyone a bum steer in this country and I've had a bit of experience with tourists getting led into goat tracks and then getting bogged. So I plugged in Telephone Road and followed my nose from there. 


It's hot Jarrah country. Not something I'm used to after the karri forests where I live, or the coastal heath, where I used to live. This country feels firey, like a single spark could just pop the whole place into a disaster zone. Banksia grandis, with her dinosaur-spine leaves and marvellous new flowers followed me. I drove further into the bush. I got to a pine plantation. A blue sedan was parked among the soft needles, one door open. I was thinking murder ballads.


There was a turn off to my left, but it was covered in pine needles and I knew the gravel ahead held the tracks of the Telephone Tower man's car, so I kept going. Took the next left by instinct and there it was! Telephone Tower, rising out of the bush like the sentinel it was.

I leapt out of the car and then realised I'd accidentally parked on an ants' nest and had to jump back and reverse the car to a better spot. Looked up at the tower:

No one was there. The gate was locked. 

After such a long pilgrimage, I felt immense relief. What kind of nutcase climbs a tower like that anyway? And then sits up there all day looking for smoke? No wonder we're called Freaks on Peaks. Just looking at those ladders made the soles of my feet go crazy. Telephone Tower man does this every day? Jesus!

Tourists often ask me, 'What if there is a fire near you? or a lightning storm?' and I feel quite smug in my answers. 'Well, on lookout, I can see a fire or a storm for miles before it gets here.' Maybe Telephone Tower man is as pragmatic as me. Dunno. I never got to have a cuppa with the guy today. Maybe I'll hear him on the radios tomorrow.

Coming home, after seeing the Telephone Tower, I think Mt Frank is the best fire tower ever. We have tiger snakes, dugites and tourists. We don't have that kind of ladder and lonely.


Thursday, February 2, 2023

Trumpets please

 Winning today. 

The mornings are often pretty cruisy in the firetower. I call in the coordinates of smokes from the burn to the north and then make myself a cuppa on the little metho cooker. We have to carry everything up the mountain to our workplace, so on most days I'll cart up a couple of litres of water, lunch, a snakebite bandage and a notebook in my backpack. I have a special stick that I'm superstitious about. I've stripped the karri limb of bark and its striated patterns soothe me whenever I hold it. It helps me on the steep bits of the climb, lifts my weight. I know this sounds weird but I'm attached to my stick. In the past, kids who climb the mountain have seized other sticks of mine and thrown them off, over the granite. Boys, especially, like throwing big things off the mountain. I try to explain to them that This is not a good Thing. 'Do you actually know whether or not a rock climber is scaling the west side?' Also - that's my stick you little shit.

So yes, the mornings are pretty cruisy other than precious Braydon's parents people. This morning, I listened to my audio book (H. Yanagihara's 'To Paradise'. It's amazing by the way), met a group of tourers and watched smoke mooch quietly around a karri knoll.

At about lunchtime, I saw a smoke go up to the north east. There's a lot of dust out that way this time of year. A tractor in a paddock fifty kilometres away will send up a plume that looks just like smoke. All particles in the air, whether it be dust, smoke or steam, behaves in the same way. It swirls, drifts, billows or columns according to what the winds and other elements are doing. Believe me when I say this does my head in and that's why we are only allowed up here four days in a row.

It was dark smoke, billowing and quite dense. But it was staying in the same spot, so I was thinking it couldn't be dust. I worked out the coordinates and called it in. Time, bearing, distance, smoke description, 'maybe dust, I'm not sure.'

Within minutes the spotter pilot was heading that way. She couldn't see it, she said over the radio. Then, 'yep that's a smoke'. When the spotter got overhead, she reported it as a tractor that had caught fire in a wheat paddock. So that's why the smoke looked so dirty, I thought. She read out the coordinates and I realised I was out by about ten kilometres.

I sat back in my 'office' chair in the tower. Well that's a win. Got the distance a bit wrong but that's not too shabby considering it was fifty kilometres away over the flatlands.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

A day at the tower

 The path winding between granite and a yellow tingle tree on the way to the fire tower. It's morning and white-breasted robins hop from karri hazel limbs ahead, to lead me away from their chicks.

At the summit, I wipe sweat from my face (it's a decent climb), wind up the shutters and check out the view. A few small blue smokes rising in columns from the last burn. That red device hanging over the gunsight is amazing for weather recording - something we do every hour.

There's some odd critters up here, probably due to the altitude. People from anywhere other than Western Australia will tell me that "this isn't a mountain, it's just a hill!" but being closer to the sky than most country around here, there is definitely a change in habitat. A girl named this stick insect Frank. Frank has two other mates, just hanging in the tower.

... some kind of lady bird I never see anywhere but here, roosting on Quokka poo near the stairs.

... a king skink always gives me a fright on the steps!

... and a beautiful lacewing ...

And then there are the eagles, Waarlitch or Wedgetail Eagles. I always know they are on their way when the other birds down by the river start screeching. "Waarlitch! Warlitch!"

If you hang around in one place for long enough, you see some amazing stuff. It's a waiting game ... bushfires, critters and rainbows.

Bit pleased with myself here in the photo above. The bushfire is out on the horizon. I called it in at 50 kilometres from the fire tower and got it within 100 metres, after its position was confirmed by the spotter pilot. Judging distance is difficult out in the flatlands to the north, with few landmarks such as hills, paddocks or mobile phone towers.

I listen. Sometimes it's classical music on the FM channel, sometimes podcasts or audio books. I listen to the spotter pilots from other districts on the UHF or turn on Spotify to find Johnny Cash. Reading makes my eyes tired and takes them from where they should be - the horizon. 

We are only allowed to work four days straight and I know why. After four days my eyes are sore and my brain is fried. Mostly, my tower partner tries to avoid four straight days on the roster. Up here too long, we begin to make mistakes and feel a bit crazy. It's a weird combination of being on high alert all day and bored at the same time. A day off to reset and rest is important, especially when both of us work other roles during the fire season.

So, after four days, it's a blessing to head down to the beach at my house and watch the swans fly east in the evening, sit in the yellow sand with the hound and watch the sunset.


Monday, January 30, 2023

Latest fake news on the quokka scenario

 Apparently, the Thylacine sign that appeared just up from my driveway in 2020 was a response to the Quokka sign put up days before. The reasoning was that no one had seen a quokka on this road for more than forty years - but no one had seen a Thylacine either - so the best minds at the inlet decided that the Quokkas must have killed all the Thylacines and then erected the Quokka sign in a kind of passive aggressive tactical maneuver. In an epic act of resistance, locals decided to write an email to the council who eventually produced another sign.

Here is my initial investigative report released two and two thirds years ago. I'm happy to report that the Thylacine sign challenged Quokkas, and that break and enters by Quokkas at the inlet halved by at least a quarter. This was a massive success in lawn order.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday, I saw a Quokka crossing the track as I was driving to work. It was very close to my house. I know they are dangerous when cornered, so I didn't stop the car and anyway, I wasn't wearing any PPE.

This sighting of a killer, delinquent Quokka on the track was interesting. BUT on my way home from work, I noticed that the Thylacine sign was missing. Someone had removed the sign, post and all. IS THIS A COINCIDENCE??? I think not.

Stay tuned folks for further updates. Next week I interview Doctor Runnell McSquarePoo, an expert on the sinister habits of all maligned marsupials.

Fuck I've gotta start a true crime podcast *mutters* onto something here

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Lightning memories

We're expecting lightning tonight. As I write, the high pressure grows as two systems work to smash against each other. In the early afternoon the spotter pilots were tracking the storm as they worked their district circuits, trying to get home before the tumult. 

Below is the map of the last dry lightning event a week or so ago. Bushfires followed that red seam within 12 hours. We're all hoping this next one comes with rain.


I rang Stormboy, who is camping on his homelands. 'There's a good storm coming,' I said. 'Where are you?'

'Marine Drive. Where can we see the storm?'

'I reckon, head up to the lookout, over the Sound, when you hear thunder ...' and then, a childhood memory hit me. 'O wow, Stormboy? I've just remembered something.'

'Yeah Mum,' he said.

'When I was a kid, my Mum and Dad said "let's go! There's a storm over the Sound." and they went up to the same lookout I'm telling you about now. You know the one.'

'Yeah, I know the lookout,' Stormboy said.

'And I think I was about 8 years old. Mum and Dad were watching this lightning storm just ripping around the Sound. We were in the car. I was terrified, in the back seat. I thought I was gonna fucking die! Mum and Dad were so into it and didn't even notice how freaked out I was.'

'I know that feeling Mum,' said Stormboy. 'Dad took me up to Sandpatch to watch a storm. Lightning was, like, forking into the sea and also hitting the wind turbines. Terrifying. I thought I was gonna die too and Dad thought the whole thing was brilliant. Still, it was one of the memorable moments of my life.'

After our conversation tonight, I thought, is this a normal parenting thing?


Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Language, kerosene and the snake

 Bloody snakes ... this time of year I'm very glad for the sliding glass doors at my house. I can see what's outside before I go lurching out in bare feet. The front door is north facing and so it is a happy place for snakes to power up their solar energy in the mornings.

There's been a tiger snake hanging around there for the last week, which usually sidles into the geraniums when I open the door. But yesterday it just lay in the grass, all quiet. I was doing my laundry when I saw it through the glass door. I opened the door and threw a cake of soap at the snake. It didn't move. Flies and ants hung on it's ready-to-moult roughened skin. I threw my machete next (it's by the front door for this purpose) but the blade landed nearby and still the tiger didn't move. I thought, maybe it's dead? After all, the insects are loving this critter. Just to be sure, I found my ging and loaded it with lead pellets. Scatter shot was my next weapon. Unfortunately the rubber on the highly illegal ging busted and there were lead pellets all over the laundry floor. I picked them up and threw them at this bloody snake. 

'There are so many places to go!' I yelled. 'Just fuck off, will ya.' 

Finally, throwing a whole shovel did the trick. Snakes don't like shovels, apparently. They are fine with soap, machetes and buckshot but shovels ... whoa. Snake slid off into the geraniums like a gangster.

'My least favourite season around here is summer,' a surfer colleague said to me recently. 'There's shit surf, there's bushfires and then there's the tiger snakes.' 

I sprayed kerosene around the front door, not because I wanted to burn the house down to get back at the snake (though tempting), but because I know these critters absolutely hate petrochemicals. My latest plan is also based on Foucault's 'language as power' theories: I'll call this serpentine visitor Miss Nope Rope McDanger Noodle in order to curate a casual 'irreverent' vibe -where the snake's power as the personification of evil, death and The Fall is nullified by my excellent sense of humour.

So far, this is working.