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What you need to know about designing an outdoor room

<p>A purpose-built outdoor living area is one of the most requested additions in domestic architecture.</p> <p>Extending the home into the garden or enclosing a balcony is particularly well-suited to our relaxed Aussie lifestyle.</p> <p>In the past it was as simple as throwing a couple of weathered chairs and a token pot plant out on the patio.</p> <p>These days it’s about keeping cool and looking stylish with all the comforts of being indoors.</p> <p><strong>Function first</strong></p> <p>Before jumping into a renovation or redesign, decide exactly what you want from your outdoor oasis.</p> <p>It might be a lively entertaining area, an extension of the kitchen, a dedicated quiet zone or a kids' space.</p> <p>Interior stylist Tina Hutton says people can easily make mistakes in the planning, then wonder why the result never feels quite right.</p> <p>"It’s really important to be clear about how the area is going to be used," says Tina.</p> <p>"Thinking a space can be all things is usually a bad idea.</p> <p>"That’s not to say it can’t be zoned to suit different purposes, but that in itself has to be a decision rather than an accident."</p> <p><strong>Create your own style</strong></p> <p>"There’s a bit of a design myth about continuing the style of the home outdoors. Instead of matching, look to complement but be creative," says Tina.</p> <p>"An outdoor room is a wonderful opportunity to bring in elements you wouldn’t use inside, like concrete, stone, wicker, even modern plastics."</p> <p>Tina says stick with what you know, as experimenting with looks dramatically different to your usual style may bring results you won’t like.</p> <p>"Slavishly following trends can also catch you out down the track, so learn how to incorporate them instead.</p> <p>"Cushions are the easiest way to bring in a new design trend. Pick up the accent colour in accessories and you’ll have a space that looks cohesive and sophisticated."</p> <p><strong>Keep the outdoor room cool</strong></p> <p>No matter how wonderful your new outdoor area looks, nobody enjoys sweltering in the summer heat.</p> <p>Capitalise on cooling breezes without creating a wind tunnel by installing screening and fans suitable for outdoor use.</p> <p>Transparent pool fencing can be used to enclose a balcony or verandah and bamboo panels provide an economical and attractive privacy screen.</p> <p>"This is one area I like to bring in a feature usually found indoors," says Tina.</p> <p>"Curtains are great and a few sheer muslin panels add instant sophistication as well as cutting direct sunlight and reducing glare.</p> <p>"But you need to rig up a system on which they can be easily hung and taken down as they can’t stay outdoors."</p> <p><strong>Choose the furniture</strong></p> <p>Just as you should for an interior room, decide on the biggest items first, but don’t be swayed by looks alone.</p> <p>"People don’t spend enough time trying out the big things like sofas and chairs," says Tina.</p> <p>"Unless it works in the way you want it to and meets your comfort requirements, it will ruin the atmosphere you are trying to create."</p> <p>It’s also crucial to choose pieces that have been specifically made for outdoor use.</p> <p>"Look for easy-care, robust materials and soft furnishings with removable covers."</p> <p>When the large pieces are in place, add the smaller decorating elements that make the area appealing.</p> <p>"Work with your space in mind. If room is tight, keep extras minimal because having to navigate around things or risk knocking objects over doesn’t make anyone feel comfortable."</p> <p><strong>TIP:</strong><span> </span>One large plant is always good. Consider a potted fruit tree, which is practical as well as attractive.</p> <p><strong>Design ideas</strong></p> <p>Set up the outdoor room to suit your lifestyle, whether you need a place to party or a quiet corner in which to unwind alone.</p> <p><strong>Entertaining</strong></p> <p>Outdoor areas geared toward entertaining need to have easy-care flooring and plenty of unobtrusive seating for an informal crowd.</p> <p>Go for built-in bench seats or broad deck steps that can do double duty as seating.</p> <p>Install outdoor fans for comfort, low tables for glasses and snacks, and a bar with plenty of room for eskies.</p> <p>Cooking If you want an outdoor area centred on cooking and eating consider a built-in barbecue with plenty of bench space and a generous table that can seat a large group.</p> <p>If meals are long in your household make sure to add comfy chairs and cushions.</p> <p><strong>Playing</strong></p> <p>Kids play areas need to be inviting for adults and fun for children.</p> <p>Install a built-in sandpit, paint a chalkboard wall and buy outdoor rugs to protect delicate little knees.</p> <p>Make sure the area is well shaded and add lightweight tables and chairs for the mums and dads.</p> <p><strong>Reading</strong></p> <p>Create a place to relax and unwind by furnishing an outdoor room with a hammock, cushions and comfy chairs.</p> <p>Include a softly tinkling fountain or water feature and potted palms for atmosphere, adding bamboo screens or softly floating curtains for privacy and protection from the sun.</p> <p><em>Written by Handyman Magazine. Republished with permission of </em><a href="http://www.handyman.net.au/design-outdoor-room"><em>Handyman</em></a><em>.</em></p>

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How a shopper gets $350 worth of Bunnings plants for just $5

<p><span>A savvy shopper has shared how she managed to get $350 worth of plants for just $5 at Bunnings.</span></p> <p><span>In a <a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-7645741/Australian-mum-scores-350-worth-plants-5-Bunnings-reveals-too.html">Facebook post</a>, the Australian woman encouraged other customers to look out for browning, old plants in store.</span></p> <p><span>“Did the math, just under $350 worth of succulents for $5. Pretty happy with that Bunnings trip,” she wrote.</span></p> <p><span>“They were carrying them to the bin as they were “dead” and I asked to make a deal. [I got them] for 15 cents each.”</span></p> <p><span>In comparison, the prices for fresh succulents at the hardware chain start at $3.98.</span></p> <p><span>The green-fingered woman said she would be able to “revive or propagate at least 80 per cent” of her haul.</span></p> <p><span>“Most are easy to grow because they evolved with special water-storage tissues that allow them to survive in environments that are too dry for most other plants.”</span></p> <p><span>The woman said she planned to propagate or grow new plants from the ones she had purchased by using a mix of soil and sand to support the desert-native succulents.</span></p> <p><span>She also recommended another method, which involved placing a leaf on top of the soil and spritzing it with water once a week to encourage root growth.</span></p> <p><span>According to <em><a href="https://www.bhg.com.au/how-to-propagate-succulents">Better Homes and Gardens</a></em>, succulents can also be propagated by placing a cutting or leaf in 1cm of water in a spot with fresh airflow and protection against the weather. </span></p> <p><span>Other shoppers also shared how they scored good deals from Bunnings by searching through the ‘sick plant trolley’ or other greeneries with yellow tag markdowns.</span></p>

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Fans poke fun at The Block’s Scott Cam over home project

<p><em>The Block’s</em><span> </span>grand finale reveals are hitting TV screens this week, however it seems the contestants’ hard work has inspired host Scott Cam to get out his own tool kit. </p> <p>The carpenter and TV personality took to Instagram to share he too was getting handy around his home. </p> <p>The tradie was photographed leaning against a semi-built structure, with his tool belt firmly strapped around his waist. </p> <p>Fans couldn’t help but to poke at Scotty for spending his weekend working on his own house. </p> <p>“Call me a sceptic but I’m thinking of checking with [your wife] Ann…”, Channel Nine host Leila McKinnon commented.</p> <p>“What??? A tradie working on his own home.... rare sight,” one person said, </p> <p>“Bet your wife has waited years for you to finish this project. Lol,” said another, while a third wrote, “That's unheard of - you sure are one of a kind Scotty Cam.”</p> <p>Scotty has had a busy season on<span> </span><em>The Block</em><span> </span>and will surely be relieved to say “tools down” for the last time this year. </p> <p>The most recent saga that we saw on TV screens was when the host had to play hardball with blockheads Tess and Luke. </p> <p>He angrily warned the contestants to “finish the bloody house,” before storming off after they complained about their rival team member’s financial situation. </p> <p>The couple confronted Scott over Mitch and Mark being $10,000 in debt. </p> <p>“[Mitch and Mark] have been able to do all these amazing things like put speakers in the ceilings whereas we’ve reeled it in big time. If we weren’t keeping track of our invoices, we could’ve won other rooms too,” Tess argued. </p> <p>A frustrated Luke complained, “How’s that fair on everyone else?”</p> <p>However, the TV host was not having a bar of it, snapping back “They weren’t going into the red four weeks ago when you guys were. And you’re now in a better position than them. </p> <p>“At the end of the day, we did you a favour.”</p>

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7 expert tips for selling your property

<p>Selling your house this spring? In this blog, styling expert Justine Stedman shares her top tips and tricks for preparing homes for sale.  Just a few simple tweaks can be the difference between a mediocre result and a record-breaking sale.<br /> <br />Here are Justine’s tips. </p> <p><strong>1. Get the basics right</strong></p> <p>Make sure the property is clean and clutter free. Remove any excess furniture and decorative items like photo frames and trinkets.</p> <p><strong>2. Create aspirational living</strong><span> </span></p> <p>Set the scene and present the lifestyle the property offers its buyers. Introduce style and detail through cushions, throws, accessories and artwork.</p> <div class="rtecenter"><strong>3. Showcase functionality</strong><span> </span></div> <p>Help buyers visualise how the space will function for them or their perspective tenant. The most common error that people make when styling their homes for sale is selecting furniture that does not fit the room properly.</p> <div class="rtecenter"><strong>4. Add perceived value</strong><span> </span></div> <p>Convert unused and awkward areas into usable spaces that add extra value to buyers.</p> <p><strong>5. Manage your first impression</strong><span> </span></p> <p>First impressions count so a fresh coat of paint on the façade can be money well spent. Repair any outside damage such as broken fencing, guttering or outdoor lights and create a pathway.</p> <p><strong>6. Prepare for open homes</strong><span> </span></p> <p>Be organised and prepare in advance for open houses. Ensure the property is spotless on open days with no trace of pets in sight or scent.</p> <p><strong>7. Enlist a property stylist</strong><span> </span></p> <p>Styling a property for sale helps potential buyers to connect emotionally with the property and realise its true functionality and potential.</p> <p><em>This is a guest blog by Justine Wilson, Director and Principal Stylist at <a rel="noopener" href="http://www.vaultinteriors.com.au/" target="_blank">Vault Interiors</a>. </em></p> <p><em>Republished with permission of </em><a href="http://www.handyman.net.au/7-expert-tips-selling-your-property"><em>Handyman</em></a><em>. </em></p>

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"Better than any words": Aussie mum's inspired response to controversial Leunig cartoon

<p><span>An Australian mum has hit back at the popular cartoonist Michael Leunig’s depiction of motherhood that ruffled feathers.</span></p> <p><span><em>The Sydney Morning Herald</em> and <em>The Age</em> were under fierce criticism last week when it published the cartoon that showed a woman pushing a pram while looking at her mobile phone, oblivious to her child on the ground behind her.</span></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en-gb"> <p dir="ltr">Leunig’s generation’s parents would routinely leave their kids in the car while they went into a pub for a few beers before driving home drunk. <a href="https://t.co/gGsP9YVZum">pic.twitter.com/gGsP9YVZum</a></p> — Toby G(uts and gore) (@Epigrammist) <a href="https://twitter.com/Epigrammist/status/1186819771297193984?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">23 October 2019</a></blockquote> <p>Now, Perth mum Paula Kuka has addressed the outrage that was felt by many Aussie mums when they saw the cartoon for themselves.</p> <p>Kuka has shown the reality of what mums such as herself do on a daily basis.</p> <p>The image was posted on her personal Instagram account common_wild, which shows two images. One is titled “what I did” and the second comic is “what you saw”.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B4CP_WDnvI5/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B4CP_WDnvI5/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">I spent yesterday feeling a little angry and powerless about a particular cartoon by a well-known Australian cartoonist. . Today I realised I might be angry, but I’m not powerless. This is my response. . (In case you missed it, it was to do with the recent spate of babies falling out of prams and being abandoned by mothers too busy checking Instagram 🙄🤦‍♀️).</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A post shared by <a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/common_wild/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank"> Paula Kuka</a> (@common_wild) on Oct 25, 2019 at 1:52am PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Kuka wrote a powerful caption for her drawing, outlining the rage she felt after seeing the comic.</p> <p>“I spent yesterday feeling a little angry and powerless about a particular cartoon by a well-known Australian cartoonist,” she wrote.</p> <p>“Today I realised I might be angry, but I’m not powerless. This is my response.”</p> <p>Many mums quickly agreed, including celebrity mum Carrie Bickmore.</p> <p>“Thanks for sharing this @common_wild. Love it,” Carrie wrote to her 670,000 fans.</p> <p>“Tip of the iceberg of what parenting entails, the two minutes you check your phone because your child is in the pram and you can finally reply to a message you received 4 hours ago one handed whilst running another errand …” one woman commented.</p> <p>“This is better than any words,” another agreed.</p> <p>Many were quick to say that Leunig’s comic was “condescending” after seeing the comic.</p> <p>There was a poem attached to the drawing that read:</p> <p><em>“Mummy was busy on Instagram</em></p> <p><em>When beautiful bubby fell out of the pram</em></p> <p><em>And lay on the path unseen and alone</em></p> <p><em>Wishing that he was loved like a phone.” <span> </span></em></p>

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Inventor promising rain to farmers for 50k denies "preying" on the desperate

<p>An inventor has been accused of “preying” on vulnerable farmers by promising his device can change the weather and make it rain to where they need it most.</p> <p>However, David Miles from<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="http://www.milesresearch.co/" target="_blank">Miles Research</a><span> </span>has insisted “there’s no way we want to con anyone”.</p> <p>Miles is currently offering a three-month rain contract to farmers in Victoria’s grain belt for $50,000 on a “success basis”.</p> <p>The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has slammed this, saying that farmers should not do business with Miles, but they are powerless to stop him.</p> <p>“It’s preying on people’s desperation,” Australian Competition and Consumer Commission deputy chairman Mick Keogh <em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/am/farmers-desperately-turn-to-a-man-who-can-make-it-rain/11630332" target="_blank">told ABC Radio on Wednesday</a>.</em></p> <p>“If you wanted to prosecute a court requires you to prove essentially that there’s no basis for the claims being made and that is a very difficult thing to do. By far the very best defence against them is widespread consumer education. It’s up to individuals obviously to make their own mind up. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.”</p> <p>Miles has denied the allegations, saying that the ACCC are defaming him.</p> <p>“How can they do that without looking at our contracts? We’re success based, if we don’t deliver rain we don’t get paid,” he said to<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.news.com.au/finance/business/other-industries/we-dont-want-to-con-anyone-inventor-charging-50000-for-rain-denies-preying-on-farmers/news-story/4a253e71686cf66c41b8bab257921cd8" target="_blank">news.com.au</a>.<br /></em></p> <p>“I think the ACCC probably jumped the gun in making that comment. They’ve never seen the contracts, they haven’t spoken with me. We don’t mind scepticism, but the Government needs to be careful not to defame us as they did in 2006.”</p> <p>What Miles is referring to is that he has been operating weather modification technology for nearly two decades under a different business name of Aquiess. The Victorian Government highly criticised the business back in 2006.</p> <p>Miles has said a “small private group” of farmers has seen results from the program.</p> <p>“They signed the agreement that if by the end of June they’d received 100mm, they pay $50,000, if they only receive 50mm, they would only pay $25,000. Anything under half we don’t want to be paid,” he said.</p> <p>One farmer vouched for the device, saying that he’s seen results.</p> <p>“I got involved because it sounded good, the fact you can control weather, because as a farmer rainfall is everything,” he told the broadcaster.</p> <p>“I think the evidence is out there, you look at the forecast what’s meant to come and all of a sudden it increases dramatically. You know that he’s behind it and I reckon I haven’t seen such good crops in this district ever, everywhere.”</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7832009/water-thing.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/3c0f74f296be4a5b9ce6f2b76932f4a7" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Image credit: Miles Research Whitepaper</em></p> <p>Miles is keeping his technology under wraps as he fears it could be stolen by competitors or “weaponised” by the government.</p> <p>“There’s no way we want to con anyone,” he said. “Our best approach at the moment is to put up a risk-free model, so the farmers can get some rain and we can get some income to get a facility. We’ve been able to make adjustments to approaching weather and we want to be able to offer that to the rest of Australia.”</p> <p>On Miles’ website, since deleted, he claimed the technology uses “electromagnetic scalar waves”.</p> <p>“Electromagnetic scalar waves don’t exist,” University of Melbourne associate professor of physics Martin Sevior told ABC Radio. “There’s no such thing. He’s taken a few words and put them together and made them sound somewhat scientific but it’s meaningless.”</p> <p>Miles has also not patented the technology, as this would involve exposing how it works.</p> <p>“We were advised against patenting because it’s basically exposing how it works. There are a lot of big companies that invest in trawling through patents. We thought it’s probably right to go down the lines of Coca-Cola,” he said.</p> <p>“I understand the scepticism, the only other way is to fully prove up our science and physics and peer review. If we did that, we’ll lose it, it will be taken up as a national security interest and it’ll then be weaponised.”</p>

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Bees are smarter than we thought and can learn more if they're trained the "right way"

<p>Bees are pretty good at maths – as far as insects go, at least. We already know, for example, that they can count up to four and even <a href="https://theconversation.com/bees-join-an-elite-group-of-species-that-understands-the-concept-of-zero-as-a-number-97316">understand the concept of zero</a>.</p> <p>But in a new study, <a href="https://jeb.biologists.org/content/222/19/jeb205658">published today in the Journal of Experimental Biology</a>, we show honeybees can also understand numbers higher than four – as long as we provide feedback for both correct and incorrect responses as they learn.</p> <p>Even our own brains are less adept at dealing with <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subitizing">numbers greater than four</a>. While we can effortlessly estimate up to four items, processing larger numbers requires more mental effort. Hence why when asked to count, a young child will sometimes <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0010027706002137">answer with “1, 2, 3, 4, more”</a>!</p> <p>If you don’t believe me, try the test below. The various colour groupings representing 1-4 stars are easy to count quickly and accurately. However, if we try estimating the number of all stars at once by ignoring colours, it requires more concentration, and even then our accuracy tends to be poorer.</p> <p><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/295960/original/file-20191008-128661-me98r1.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /> <span class="caption">For numbers of elements ranging from 1-4, as represented here in different colours, we very efficiently process the exact number. However, if we try estimating the number of all stars at once by ignoring colour, it requires a lot more cognitive effort.</span></p> <p>This effect isn’t unique to humans. <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10071-008-0140-9">Fish</a>, for example, also show a threshold for accurate quantity discrimination at four.</p> <p>One theory to explain this is that counting up to four isn’t really counting at all. It may be that many animals’ brains can innately recognise groups of up to four items, whereas proper counting (the process of sequentially counting the number of objects present) is needed for numbers beyond that.</p> <p>By comparing the performance of different animal species in various number processing tasks we can better understand how differences in brain size and structure enable number processing. For example, honeybees have previously been shown to be able to count and discriminate <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10071-008-0159-y">numbers up to four</a>, but not beyond. We wanted to know why there was a limit at four – and whether they can go further.</p> <p><strong>Best bee-haviour</strong></p> <p>Bees are surprisingly good at maths. We recently discovered that bees can learn to <a href="https://theconversation.com/we-taught-bees-a-simple-number-language-and-they-got-it-117816">associate particular symbols with particular quantities</a>, much like the way we use numerals to represent numbers.</p> <p>Bees learn to do this type of difficult task if given a sugary reward for choosing the correct association, and a bitter liquid for choosing incorrectly. So if we were to push bees beyond the four threshold, we knew success would depend on us asking the right question, in the right way, and providing useful feedback to the bees.</p> <p>We trained two different groups of bees to perform a task in which they were presented with a choice of two different patterns, each containing a different number of shapes. They could earn a reward for choosing the group of four shapes, as opposed to other numbers up to ten.</p> <p>We used two different training strategies. One group of ten bees received only a reward for a correct choice (choosing a quantity of four), and nothing for an incorrect choice. A second group of 12 bees received a sugary reward for picking four, or a bitter-tasting substance if they made a mistake.</p> <p>In the test, bees flew into a Y-shaped maze to make a choice, before returning to their hive to share their collected sweet rewards.</p> <p>Each experiment conducted with a single bee lasted about four hours, by which time each bee had made 50 choices.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/296142/original/file-20191009-3846-1t5w4gl.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/296142/original/file-20191009-3846-1t5w4gl.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Bees were individually trained and tested in a Y-shaped maze where a sugar reward was presented on the pole directly in front of the correct stimulus.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Author provided</span></span></p> <p>The group that only received sweet rewards could not successfully learn to discriminate between four and higher numbers. But the second group reliably discriminated the group of four items from other groups containing higher numbers.</p> <p>Thus, bees’ ability to learn higher number discrimination depends not just on their innate abilities, but also on the risks and rewards on offer for doing so.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/296143/original/file-20191009-3860-qstnbd.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/296143/original/file-20191009-3860-qstnbd.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">Bee’s-eye view of either four or five element displays that could be discriminated. Inserts show how we normally see these images.</span></p> <p>Our results have important implications for understanding how animals’ brains may have evolved to process numbers. Despite being separated by 600 million years of evolution, invertebrates such as bees and vertebrates such as humans and fish all seem to share a common threshold for accurately and quickly processing small numbers. This suggests there may be common principles behind how our brains tackle the question of quantity.</p> <p>The evidence from our new study shows bees can learn to process higher numbers if the question and training are presented in the right way. These results suggest an incredible flexibility in animal brains, of all sizes, for learning to become maths stars.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/124887/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/adrian-dyer-387798">Adrian Dyer</a>, Associate Professor, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jair-garcia-387799">Jair Garcia</a>, Research fellow, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/scarlett-howard-423771">Scarlett Howard</a>, Postdoctoral research fellow, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/universite-de-toulouse-iii-paul-sabatier-2447">Université de Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/bees-can-learn-higher-numbers-than-we-thought-if-we-train-them-the-right-way-124887">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Six bins: New recycling solution could make bin night more crowded than ever

<p>In order to address Australia’s recycling crisis, Aussie residents could be forced to separate their household waste into six different bins.</p> <p>Infrastructure Victoria is pushing for the state Government to approve the separation of organics, plastics, paper and cardboard, glass and metals as well as rubbish as mixing the items leads to contamination.</p> <p>Since China has made the decision to stop Australia from importing their waste into the country from 2018 due to contamination, landfill in Victoria has skyrocketed.</p> <p>“The glass gets broken, paper and cardboard get tiny particles of glass in it ... they're so mixed up and contaminated and it's really hard to extract a high-value material that can be recycled,” project director at Infrastructure Victoria Elissa McNamara told<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-10-20/recycling-crisis-victoria-considers-increasing-kerbside-bins/11617258" target="_blank">the ABC</a></em>.</p> <p>“In the past, we've really been able to just set and forget.”</p> <p>This is no longer an option as Infrastructure Victoria has had to expand the ways that the state is tackling the recycling crisis.</p> <p>One action is implementing a “waste-to-energy” policy, which would see some food waste converted into low-emission electricity.</p> <p>A report by Infrastructure Victoria placed emphasis on the importance of making better use of food waste after a bin audit uncovered that more than 35 per cent of the weight in household bins is food waste.</p> <p>Another action that was suggested is promoting the use of more recycled products as well as banning single-use plastic bags across the state.</p> <p>Statistics highlighting the recycling crisis in Victoria found that the state’s total waste has increased dramatically from 6.4 million tonnes in 2000 to 13.4 million in 2017-18.</p>

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$1.25 ALDI find deemed “miracle worker”

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">No one likes a stain they can’t get out, whether it is mud at the bottom of our jeans or makeup clinging to our shirt collars. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Thankfully, one woman believes she has found a “miracle” saver at ALDI for just an unbelievable $1.25. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7831819/aldi-di-sanz.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f22cd448415a48af808b24324c92748f" /></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The ALDI Di-San stain remover is proving to be a hit, and is causing a stir online with people posting incredible before and afters of stained and dirty clothes looking fresh off the shelf!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A woman said she was shocked at the outcome of her white pillowcases after she sprayed them with Di-san and left it for five minutes. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After soaking the linen in warm water for about an hour, she says the results shocked her as the items came out sparkling white. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7831818/aldi-di-sanz-1.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/a60383e3340d4d54ae1425db0e5d9788" /></span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">She also wrote the Lectric washing soda from Woolworths added to the water makes her pillowcases even whiter.</span></p> <p><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fmichelle.calabresebrown%2Fposts%2F10158904170804012&amp;width=500" width="500" height="731" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media"></iframe></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">People on Facebook took to the comments to rave about their own experiences with the penny pinching product. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“This is brilliant I have a bottle in the kitchen for the floor tiles grout, lifts the dirt straight out. It lifts the oil stains out of hubby work clothes. Love all of Aldi laundry products,” one person said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Best thing ever! Has helped me with so many problems I couldn’t figure out on my own,” another wrote. </span></p>

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How to handle a wasp infestation

<p>Wasps are common in all regions across Australia. They build nests on buildings away from direct sunlight and cause a lot of damage in the process. While most homeowners might ignore wasps, it is important to appreciate the risk they pose to your home’s occupants and the structure itself.</p> <p>They have an extremely painful sting which contains histamine. This chemical can cause allergic reactions in some people leading to health complications such as anaphylaxis or death. Stings from bees and wasps caused 12,351 admissions and 27 fatalities in Australia. It is for these reasons that you should learn more about <span><a href="https://www.dawsonspest.com.au/pest-library/bees-wasps">wasp nest removal</a></span>.</p> <p>This article highlights a few safe techniques of nest removal from your home or business structure. Read on.</p> <p><strong>Identify a wasp infestation</strong></p> <p>It is easy to find out if your home has a wasp infestation but finding a wasp is another matter altogether. These insects try to hide their nests away from sight where they can live undisturbed. You can check under an overhang where wasps stay away from the rain. They can also build under an awning, wood deck, soffit, railing or large tree branch in your compound.</p> <p>If you have noted wasps buzzing around your compound, it is important to call a licensed pest removal technician who has the skills and equipment to do the job.</p> <p><strong>Stay away from a wasp nest</strong></p> <p>If you happen to notice a wasp nest, it is advisable to stay away from it and remove your pets from the area. Many homeowners have ended up in emergency rooms while trying to locate wasp nests and remove them. It is important to note that wasps won’t attack unless they feel threatened.</p> <p>If you agitate them when trying to remove the nest, you will end up badly hurt or worse. To make matters worse, wasps release chemicals that attract others nearby and this can lead to a fatal situation especially if you have kids around.</p> <p>Once you identify a wasp nest, call a licensed wasp nest removal technician who has the prerequisite skills and equipment to do the job safely.</p> <p><strong>Professional wasp removal</strong></p> <p>The best thing about professional nest removal is that the pest control company knows how to handle the situation. They have experience dealing with different wasps in the area and will know which techniques to use. Without such skills, you might end up making things worse and injuring yourself.</p> <p>The nest removal process begins with a thorough inspection of your property, starting with the area where you spotted the nest. The pest control technicians wear protective gear to avoid injuries, and they use eco-friendly chemicals to eliminate the infestation and remove the wasp nest.</p> <p>When dealing with wasps, you need to appreciate that nest removal is not enough, hence the use of pesticides to get rid of the infestation. The best pest control service carries insurance for your protection and protection of their workers and you will enjoy peace of mind when they work.</p> <p><em><span>Written by Handyman Authors. Republished with permission of </span></em><span><a href="http://www.handyman.net.au/nest-no-more-how-handle-wasp-infestation"><em>Handyman</em></a><em>.</em></span></p>

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The “worst of the worst” products that are “ripping off and misleading” Aussie shoppers

<p>Consumer group Choice has called out some of the “worst-of-the-worst” products being sold to Aussies in their 14th annual Shonky Awards. </p> <p>Choice CEO Alan Kirkland said in a statement the award aims to highlight the items Australian consumers should avoid as they are “ripping off” and misleading” shoppers. </p> <p>“Choice’s job is to stand up against companies doing the wrong thing. The Shonkys draw upon our unique testing, reviews and advocacy to help you identify the worst-of-the-worst,” Mr Kirkland said.</p> <p>“In a time of fake reviews, cash for comment, salespeople and lobbyists everywhere, it’s more important than ever for independent voices to tell the truth.</p> <p>“Following the banking royal commission, it’s no surprise that financial services businesses are such a feature of this year’s Shonkys.”</p> <p><strong>2019 Shonky Winners </strong></p> <p><strong>Kogan</strong></p> <p>The online retailer has earnt themselves a shonky award this year for their “poor” customer service. </p> <p>Topping the NSW Fair Trading complaint register, the retailer has clocked over 300 complaints from January to July in 2019. </p> <p>Mr Kirkland says Kogan should “stop beating around the bush when its products are defective”.</p> <p>“Kogan must simplify the process for refunds, repairs and replacements to meet community expectations and the law”. </p> <p>He also mentioned the company must improve its customer service, and their refunds and returns policy. </p> <p><strong>Medicare </strong></p> <p>Medicare has been called out by Choice for their “basic” cover health insurance actually costing more than the cheapest “bronze” cover in NSW, the ACT, Northern Territory, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania.</p> <p>Mr Kirkland said: “2019 is the first year that private health insurance has topped the list of financial worries in Choice’s regular national surveys, and it’s easy to see why.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/BsZlUPMlzNV/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/BsZlUPMlzNV/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Artyguy (@aussieartyguy)</a> on Jan 8, 2019 at 8:04pm PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>“A new system that was meant to make things simpler has turned into a mess.</p> <p>Medibank’s ‘basic’ junk cover costs more than many higher-cover bronze policies. Medibank deserves a Shonky for failing at the basics — simple and affordable health insurance.”</p> <p><strong>IKEA</strong></p> <p>The Swedish furniture retailer has taken a spot on the 2019 Shonky Awards list for their Nedkyld fridge after it's score came in at just 35 per cent for food and freshness, and further failing an energy test. </p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B077R4PnK5z/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B077R4PnK5z/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Arjun Singh Jain (@arjunsinghjain)</a> on Aug 9, 2019 at 1:21am PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>The Ikea Nedkyld is one of the worst fridges we’ve ever tested,” Mr Kirkland said.</p> <p>“Not only is it terrible at keeping your food cold, when Choice tested the Nedkyld’s energy use against its star rating, it failed the test.</p> <p>“It’s hard to understand how this fridge is still on sale in Ikea stores, especially with a misleading energy label.”</p> <p><strong>AMP superannuation</strong></p> <p>Choice has given AMP superannuation a Shonky award for their being over one million “zombie” super accounts eating away at the retirements of Aussies. </p> <p>Based on APRA  data: “AMP received some of the strongest criticism from the banking royal commission — and it was deserved. If your superannuation is with AMP, chances are you’ve had your retirement leeched off of to fund its executives’ lifestyles,” Mr Kirkland said.</p> <p>“Choice has partnered with the new consumer group — Super Consumers Australia — and found that AMP holds the largest number of zombie accounts of any other super fund — accounts that sit there being wasted away by fees and insurance.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/BacX4Bkjp1X/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/BacX4Bkjp1X/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by AMP Australia (@amp_au)</a> on Oct 19, 2017 at 1:39pm PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>“For AMP, it’s money for doing nothing. Managing people’s retirement funds isn’t your average business — there’s a higher moral standard to meet when it comes to people’s security and comfort in older age, and AMP have failed this standard.”</p> <p>An AMP spokeswoman told<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.news.com.au/finance/business/retail/choice-shames-products-in-2019-shonkys-awards/news-story/a8c1bd878dd75cedee4a417a501fd412" target="_blank">news.com.au<span> </span></a>it “can be difficult to draw accurate comparisons and conclusions in relation to inactive accounts due to the varied characteristics of products within trusts and across superannuation providers.”</p> <p>“For example: a large proportion of the AMP accounts classified in APRA’s data as inactive receive a capital guarantee. It is often in members’ best interests to maintain these accounts given the future benefit they will provide.</p> <p>“AMP supports legislative measures that identify and aim to reduce duplicate or inactive accounts.”</p> <p><strong>Freedom Foods XO Crunch</strong></p> <p>The XO Crunch cereal received a Shonky after having 22.2 per cent sugar in their product that they claimed was “a fun and nutritious way to start your kids’ day”. </p> <p>“Freedom Foods proudly displays four health stars on this bag of sugar. Choice says it should be one-and-a-half if health star ratings accurately reflected the amount of added sugar in a product — something that industry groups have lobbied to prevent,” Mr Kirkland said. </p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/6Lnvb-MNK0/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/6Lnvb-MNK0/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Freedom Foods (@freedomfoods)</a> on Aug 9, 2015 at 4:46pm PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>“This Shonky shows why the food industry needs to be kicked out of (the) room when it comes to health star ratings. The food industry has gamed the health star system to make a big bag of sugar look like a healthy choice for your kids — and that’s a disgrace.”</p>

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10 things you didn’t know you could compost

<p><span>As more people aim to lessen their carbon footprint, there’s been a quest to learn about all the things you can upcycle, recycle and compost. And you may be surprised to learn some of the things you can add to your compost bin.</span></p> <ol> <li><strong>Natural-fibre clothes</strong></li> </ol> <p><span>If you have natural-fibre clothing – pure wool, cotton, silk, or linen – that is too old or damaged to donate, then cut it up in chunks so it breaks down faster and add it to your compost pile! If you do compost clothes, be sure that there are no synthetic threads, plastic buttons, metal zippers, or stains from motor oil, paint, wood stain and other non-compostable substances.</span></p> <ol start="2"> <li><strong><span>Latex products</span></strong></li> </ol> <p><span>The next time you’re cleaning up after a child’s birthday party, throw the popped latex balloon fragments in the compost. Latex is a natural and biodegradable material, but for some reason, most of us usually forget that! Other natural latex products? Compost them next time instead of throwing them in the bin.</span></p> <ol start="3"> <li><strong><span>White glue and masking tape</span></strong></li> </ol> <p><span>Arts and crafts enthusiasts, rejoice! Your traditional Elmer’s glue and masking tape bits and scraps can all be composted. It makes cleaning up projects just a little bit better knowing it’s not all going in the bin.</span></p> <ol start="4"> <li><strong><span>Wine corks</span></strong></li> </ol> <p><span>The next time you’re recycling your wine bottles, throw their corks into the compost pile. Corks are a natural product, and although some wineries are now using plastic corks that look a lot like the real thing, remember that you can compost the wine stoppers if they are made of natural cork.</span></p> <ol start="5"> <li><strong><span>Fur, hair and nail clippings</span></strong></li> </ol> <p><span>If you have a pet pup or cat that sheds more than you like, hopefully you can find at least some solace in the fact that you can compost their fur! You can also clean out your and your family’s hair brushes and add all nail clippings to the compost heap. It may be a little gross but your compost will be happy about it.</span></p> <ol start="6"> <li><strong><span>Small paper rolls</span></strong></li> </ol> <p><span>While you can always recycle cardboard products, consider throwing the smaller stuff in your compost bin next time. Recycling can be costly and also uses a lot of resources, so compost smaller cardboard instead.</span></p> <ol start="7"> <li><strong>Old pet food</strong></li> </ol> <p><span>If you have some stale kibble on the shelf, just throw it in the compost bin. Be sure your pup can’t smell it though, because chances are if they smell it, they’re going to try to eat it.</span></p> <ol start="8"> <li><strong>Vacuum bag contents</strong></li> </ol> <p><span>Typically, the stuff your vacuum picks up is composed of compostable materials: dust, hair, dirt, etc. In some cases, even the vacuum bag itself can be composted if it’s made from natural products (be sure to check the bag to see what it’s made of). If you have a bagless vacuum, the contents of the dirt collection cup can be dumped directly into your compost pile. So, unless you’re vacuuming up after a glittery birthday party, your vacuum dirt should be okay to compost.</span></p> <ol start="9"> <li><strong><span>Cotton swabs and balls</span></strong></li> </ol> <p><span>Consider adding a tiny compost rubbish bin to your bathroom so you can collect all the compostable bathroom garbage. As long as the cotton swabs you’re using are plastic-free, you can add those to the bin along with cotton balls and toilet paper rolls. Just be sure that the dental floss doesn’t get in there.</span></p> <ol start="10"> <li><strong>Used loofahs and sponges</strong></li> </ol> <p><span>If you’re using a natural loofah, then remember that you can tear that thing up and compost it the next time you’re ready to replace it. If you’re currently using synthetic sponges, consider making the switch to a natural one. Man-made sponges can carry germs and add a ton of waste to the environment if you’re going through them regularly.<br /></span></p> <p><em>Source: <a href="https://www.rd.com/home/cleaning-organizing/things-didnt-know-could-compost/">RD.com</a></em></p>

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Why don’t Tasmanian magpies swoop?

<p>The magpie swooping season is in full swing. There have been nearly 3,000 reported attacks so far this year across Australia – but one state has managed to remain largely unscathed.</p> <p>Magpies in Tasmania have been known not to swoop humans. While mainland states such as Queensland and Victoria have reported hundreds of attacks so far in 2019, the island state only had one recorded incident from September.</p> <p>BirdLife Tasmania ornithologist Eric Woehler said it was unclear why Tasmanian magpies are not as aggressive towards people.</p> <p>“Whether it’s just simply that they are a bit more chill down here and a bit less stressed about people or that they don’t breed close to people, which brings out this defence behaviour, we don’t know,” Woehler told the <em><a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-10-02/why-dont-tasmanian-magpies-swoop/11561036">ABC</a></em>.</p> <p>He said the few reports of swooping magpie in the Apple Isle were the result of human provocation.</p> <p>“When we have had records in the past of kids being swooped it turns out the kids were throwing rocks at them or something and the birds are simply being aggravated rather than it being a natural behaviour.”</p> <p>Woehler said Tasmanian magpies had no clear difference with the mainland birds. <span>“</span>They may have a slightly different genetic make-up or a slightly different colouration, but fundamentally the Australian magpie is found over much of Australia,” he said.</p> <p>“I’m not aware of any indications or efforts to isolate Tasmania’s birds from the mainland.”</p> <p>According to the <a href="https://www.environment.sa.gov.au/goodliving/posts/2017/08/magpie-swooping-season">South Australian Department for Environment and Water</a>, magpies display aggressive behaviour – including clapping beak, screeching and flying fast above people’s head – to protect their eggs or newly-hatched chicks during breeding season, which commonly takes place between August and October every year.</p> <p>Despite their notoriety, only eight to ten per cent of magpies swoop people, the <em><a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2017-12-11/magies-ten-things-you-didnt-know/9245780">ABC</a> </em>reported.</p>

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Homeless soprano: Overnight fame for street singer after brilliant opera performance captures the world

<p>A homeless Los Angeles woman has achieved instant viral fame, and a potential chance at a professional career after her brilliant opera singing caught the attention of an LAPD officer.</p> <p>Underground the Californian metropolis’ Koreatown district, the unknown woman who had shopping bags and a trolley in tow could be heard belting out a Puccini classic,<span> </span><em>O mio babbino caro</em>.</p> <p>Once she noticed she was being recorded, she continued the performance, as her vocals were heard throughout the Metro station.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet tw-align-center" data-lang="en-gb"> <p dir="ltr">4 million people call LA home. 4 million stories. 4 million voices...sometimes you just have to stop and listen to one, to hear something beautiful. <a href="https://t.co/VzlmA0c6jX">pic.twitter.com/VzlmA0c6jX</a></p> — LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) <a href="https://twitter.com/LAPDHQ/status/1177423181679755264?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">27 September 2019</a></blockquote> <p>The woman was later identified as 52-year-old Emily Zamourka, who grew up in Russia and immigrated to America as a 24-year-old classically trained violinist and pianist.</p> <p>But to everyone’s surprise, she’s never had any formal voice coaching.</p> <p>Zamourka says she found it hard to work after dealing with a number of debilitating health problems.</p> <p>She would then busk on LA’s busy streets, until her $10,000 violin was stolen three years ago.</p> <p>“[The violin] was my income. It was my everything to me – I could not actually pay any of my bills and could not pay any more of my rent,” Zamourka told local television networks.</p> <p>“I am sleeping, actually, on the cardboard in the parking lot. I’m sleeping where I can sleep.”</p> <p>The original video has been viewed over 560,000 times with many people trying to get Ellen DeGeneres and<span> </span><em>America’s Got Talent’s<span> </span></em>attention.</p> <p>For Zamourka, she just wants to leave her current circumstances behind.</p> <p>“I will be so grateful to anyone who is trying to help me get off the streets,” she said.</p>

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7 surprising fertilisers for your garden

<div class="page-header clearfix"> <div class="tg-container"> <div class="detailPageHeader"> <div class="postIntro"> <div class="page-header clearfix"> <div class="tg-container"> <div class="detailPageHeader"> <div class="postIntro">Feeding your plants shouldn't mean buying a plastic container full of synthetic fertilizer. Often, you can feed your garden with what you have around your home. And with these fertilizers, you're often reusing or recycling some old product to help your garden, making you even greener. Here are seven ways to do just that:</div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="tg-container categorySection detailSection"> <div id="primary" class="contentAreaLeft"> <div class="share-buttons"> <div class="addthis_inline_share_toolbox" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/gardeing-tips/7-fertilizers-for-your-garden" data-title="7 Surprising Fertilizers for Your Garden | Reader's Digest Australia" data-description="Feeding your plants shouldn't mean buying a plastic container full of synthetic fertilizer. Often, you can feed your garden with what you have around your home. And with these fertilizers, you're often reusing or recycling some old product to help your garden, making you even greener. Here are seven ways to do just that:"> <div id="atstbx" class="at-resp-share-element at-style-responsive addthis-smartlayers addthis-animated at4-show" aria-labelledby="at-b26d7a27-eff5-44ce-81e8-3d02c64ce5ce"> <p><strong>1. Ammonia</strong></p> <p>Give the alkaline-loving flowering plants and vegetables in your garden — such as clematis, lilac, hydrangea, and cucumbers — an occasional special treat with a shower of 1/4 cup ammonia diluted in 1 gallon (3.7 litres) water. They’ll love the boost in nitrogen.</p> <p><strong>2. Baking soda</strong></p> <p>Give your flowering, alkaline-loving plants, such as clematis, delphiniums, and dianthus, an occasional shower in a mild solution of 1 tablespoon baking soda in 2 quarts (2 litres) water. They’ll show their appreciation with fuller, healthier blooms.</p> <p><strong>3. Bananas</strong></p> <p>Banana peels, like the fruit itself, are rich in potassium — an important nutrient for both you and your garden. Dry out banana peels on screens during the winter months. In early spring, grind them up in a food processor or blender and use it as a mulch to give new plants and seedlings a healthy start. Many cultivars of roses and other plants, like staghorn ferns, also benefit from the nutrients found in banana peels; simply cut up some peels and use them as plant food around your established plants.</p> <p><strong>4. Coffee grounds</strong></p> <p>It isn’t the caffeine in coffee grounds that garden plants like azaleas, rosebushes and evergreens love, it’s the acidity and aeration the grounds provide — not to mention nitrogen, phosphorous, and trace minerals. Just be sure to dig the grounds into the soil to keep them from becoming moldy. Dig about ¾ cup of grounds into the soil near the roots, repeating once a month. And don’t overdo it. Fertilizing even acid-loving plants with coffee grounds too frequently could increase soil acidity to undesirable levels.</p> <p><strong>5. Fireplace ashes</strong></p> <p>Hardwood ashes from your fireplace will supply potassium and phosphorous to garden plants. Just make sure not to use wood that has been treated with preservatives or anything else. To fertilize plants, spread a half-inch layer of ashes a few inches from the stem and dig it into the soil. However, if you store ashes outside, protect them from the rain or their nutrients will be depleted, and don’t use ashes around potatoes, since ash can promote potato scab.</p> <p><strong>6. Matchbooks</strong></p> <p>Matchbooks as fertilizer? Yes! But only when you want to add sulfur to the soil to lower the pH for acid-loving plants. Tear out the matches from several matchbooks and toss them into the bottom of planting holes for impatiens, hydrangeas, azaleas, and gardenias.</p> <p><strong>7. Tea</strong></p> <p>Sprinkle new or used tea leaves (loose or in tea bags) around your rosebushes and cover with mulch to give them a midsummer boost. When you water the plants, the nutrients from the tea will be released into the soil, spurring growth. Roses love the tannic acid that occurs naturally in tea. Likewise, schedule an occasional teatime for your ferns and other acid-loving houseplants. Substitute brewed tea when watering the plants. Or work wet tea leaves into the soil around the plants to give them a lush, luxuriant look.</p> <p><em>Written by Reader's Digest Editors. </em><em>This article first appeared in <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/gardeing-tips/7-fertilizers-for-your-garden">Reader’s Digest</a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA93V">here’s our best subscription offer</a>.</em></p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div>

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Yikes! Gigantic red-bellied black snake found hiding in the suburbs

<p>An enormous 1.8m red-bellied black snake has been discovered in suburban Brisbane.</p> <p>Snake Catchers Brisbane shared a photo of the terrifying reptile to its Facebook page, which was captured on Tuesday in the southeast suburb of Belmont.</p> <p>Commenting on the snap was a woman who said that the area was “overloaded” with snakes and was concerned one may have killed her father’s dogs.</p> <p>“I’m so bloody freaked out at the moment! My poor father has lost three dogs now and the next door neighbours with damn snakes in Belmont,” she said.</p> <p>Others were a bit more relaxed saying how the snake was a “beautiful” and “spectacular” specimen.</p> <p>Speaking to<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://10daily.com.au/" target="_blank"><em>10 daily</em></a>, snake catcher Bryce Lockett said it was a “solid build animal” that people shouldn’t be afraid of.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fwww.snakecatchers.com.au%2Fposts%2F1098654720323140&amp;width=500" width="500" height="618" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media"></iframe></p> <p>“They’re generally a very placid snake, they aren’t really defensive,” he said.</p> <p>“During breeding season male snakes tend to travel some distance looking for a mate.</p> <p>“We’re being called out to a lot of carpet pythons fighting in people’s roof cavities.”</p> <p>He told<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.nine.com.au/" target="_blank"><em>Nine</em></a><span> </span>it was “abnormally large” for that type of snake.</p> <p>The average size for an adult is between 1.5-2m, with males growing slightly larger than females.</p> <p>The snakes are found in northern and central eastern Queensland and then more continuously from southeastern Queensland through eastern NSW and Victoria.</p>

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5 houseplants that are near impossible to kill

<p>Some of us may not have the greenest of thumbs, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying all the benefits of houseplants.</p> <p>Not only are there plenty of low-maintenance houseplants to grow, houseplants add living beauty to your space and help purify the air, giving you a boost in both body and spirit.</p> <p>(Though do keep in mind that some houseplants are toxic to pets or children, so check children’s health websites before incorporating houseplants into your home.)</p> <p>Scroll through the gallery to see these five hard-to-kill houseplants that will flourish under the care of even the most forgetful gardeners. </p> <p><strong>1. Philodendron</strong></p> <p>Add a subtle touch of burgundy or golden yellow to your living space with the wide, waxy leaves of philodendron. Try the varieties McColley’s Finale or Prince of Orange for colourful philodendron that are low-fuss. This houseplant can grow quickly, though, so keep it well groomed by trimming it back, staking upright types or winding the foliage around itself.</p> <p><strong>Why we love it:</strong> There are two types of philodendron: vining and non-climbing, so it’s a cinch to pick the type that best suits your space. It also accents other plants wonderfully.</p> <p><strong>2. Geranium</strong></p> <p>A reliable and eager bloomer, even in winter, geraniums come in every shade of the rainbow, and then some. If you want to add more than just color to your living space, explore the world of scented-leaf geraniums, which come in fragrances like pine, peppermint, and nutmeg.</p> <p><strong>Why we love it:</strong> Geraniums are best left to their own devices. Water thoroughly, but only as needed, then sit back and enjoy the show</p> <p><strong>3. Hens and chicks</strong></p> <p>Whether it’s a single blooming sempervivum or a whole container of these rosette-shaped succulents, they make for an impressive presentation. These tough little guys need bright light to survive, and just one of these plants will easily propagate many more. This succulent’s only weakness is mealybugs, which can spread to other plants in your home if you’re not careful.</p> <p><strong>Why we love it:</strong> No matter where or how you plant it, hens and chicks will always look orderly and snug in their containers.</p> <p><strong>4. Aloe</strong></p> <p>Want the look of an agave plant on a much smaller scale? Try family-friendly aloe. This funky-looking succulent flourishes in south-facing windowsills where they can get plenty of bright light, but east- and west-facing windows work just as well.</p> <p>Aloe loves company—cluster a few different varieties together in one container for a unique look.</p> <p><strong>Why we love it:</strong> The popular aloe vera doesn’t just look good—it’ll make you feel good, too. The jelly-like pulp inside its leaves is a great home remedy for minor burns and insect bites.</p> <p><strong>5. ZZ plant</strong></p> <p>With no blooms when grown indoors and a slow growth-rate, ZZ plant doesn’t have a lot of frills. But what it lacks in pop, it makes up in polish with its glossy green leaves and vertical, palm-like stems. Splurge a little and buy a mature ZZ plant at the outset and give this slender statement plant its best chance to thrive in the indirect light of an east- or west-facing window.</p> <p><strong>Why we love it:</strong> ZZ plant works with every decorating style, because it looks awesome in any kind of container from a woven basket for a bohemian look to a chic glazed container for a modern space.</p> <p><em>Written by Birds and Blooms. This article first appeared in <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/gardening-tips/10-houseplants-are-near-impossible-kill">Reader’s Digest</a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA93V">here’s our best subscription offer</a>.</em></p>

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How to grow artichokes

<p><strong>History has not recorded</strong><span> </span>the adventurous gourmet who discovered that the base of the flower scales of the thistle-like globe artichoke – and the base of the flowers – could be eaten. It was a fine discovery, for their delicate yet unmistakable flavour makes artichokes one of the most prized of all garden vegetables. They are not only delicious but also strikingly beautiful, their silvery grey leaves providing a perfect foil for summer flowers. For this reason, they are often grown in herbaceous borders.</p> <h4>Planning the crop</h4> <p>Globe artichoke plants will not always survive severe winters and it is best to grow them in a sheltered, sunny part of the garden in severe-winter areas. Good soil preparation is well repaid. Loosen the soil to a depth of 60 cm and work through plenty of compost and manure. These plants need excellent drainage, and loams or sandy loams are ideal. Or plant in raised beds. They are tolerant of salt sea breezes. They need a chilling period to flower well.</p> <p><strong>How many to grow:</strong><span> </span>It depends on how popular artichokes are in your household – and how much space you have. Plants need to be set 1 m apart, but if space is tight, you can plant singly at the back of a herbaceous or mixed border. Globe artichokes will grow to a height of 1.2-1.5 m.</p> <p><strong>Varieties:</strong><span> </span>Green Globe and Purple Globe are most widely available. Purple Globe is hardier and best in cooler areas. Now gourmet heirloom varieties are also sought. Deep purple Romagna Violet and purple-tinged Romanesco from Italy and Gros Vert de Laon from France are propagated from seed.</p> <h4>Growing tips</h4> <p>Artichokes will grow and flower for about six years; the heads get smaller and tougher after three or four years. Replace a few plants each year so that you always have new plants maturing and some old ones dying down. To start a crop, buy young plants or suckers in spring and plant in soil to the same depth as they were in the nursery bed or pot.</p> <p>Every year, apply a liberal mulch of manure or compost in spring. During dry periods, especially when plants are growing strongly, make sure that they are well watered. The new plants will provide a few heads by late summer, particularly if well fed with manure and potash to encourage flowering. Frost protection is essential in areas with severe winters. Cut the plant back to about 30 cm above ground.</p> <p>Mound soil around the plant, taking care not to cover the crown. Put a good layer of autumn leaves on top and anchor with a double layer of horticultural fleece. In the second and third years, allow each plant to develop only four to six stems. Leave the flower on the main stem – called the king head – as well as a few other flowers at the end of the lateral shoots. Remove any offshoots around the base as this will help to keep the plant productive.</p> <p><strong>Raising new plants:</strong><span> </span>During spring and late autumn in mild climates, select strong shoots about 25 cm high on plants that are at least three years old. Cut vertically alongside each shoot with a spade or sharp knife, keeping part of the rootstock below. In cold areas prone to frost, pot up offshoots in containers, and plant out in their permanent positions as soon as the danger of frost has passed.</p> <h4>Pests and Diseases</h4> <p>Artichokes are generally pest-free, apart from slugs and snails in damp conditions and aphids. Major diseases are verticillium and fusarium wilt.</p> <h4>Harvesting and Storing</h4> <p>Mature plants produce ripe heads in November and December. Pick them, starting with the king head, when the bracts are still tightly wrapped. Use a sharp knife or secateurs to cut off a head with a 12 cm stem, then cut back each stem to about half its original length. The flower heads on the lateral shoots are best picked when about hen’s-egg size. Very small, young heads can be cooked and eaten whole. You can place the stems in lightly sugared water and store in the refrigerator for a few days.</p> <p><strong>At-a-glance timetable</strong></p> <p><strong>Planting:</strong><span> </span>late autumn or spring</p> <p><strong>Mulching:</strong><span> </span>late spring to early summer</p> <p><strong>Harvesting summer:</strong><span> </span>first year to fourth year</p> <p><strong>Removal of offshoots:</strong><span> </span>late autumn or spring, second year onwards</p> <p class="p1"><em>Written by Reader's Digest Editors. This article first appeared in <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/gardening-how-to-grow/how-to-grow-artichokes">Reader’s Digest</a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA93V">here’s our best subscription offer</a>.</em></p>

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Gardening tips you should ignore

<p>Here are some gardening tips that you should ignore, despite what you've heard.</p> <p><strong>1. Sweeten tomatoes with sugar:</strong><span> </span>Sugar can actually stunt the growth of plants, so it might be best to add it to a cup of tea rather than to the soil. If you want to grow sweeter tomatoes, look for different tomato varieties.</p> <p><strong>2. Water wilted, yellowing plants:<span> </span></strong>Although it may seem like the natural solution, water isn’t always the answer. Overwatering can also cause plants to wilt or discolour, so unless the soil is dry, it is time to surrender the watering can.</p> <p><strong>3. Bury banana peels and coffee grounds:<span> </span></strong>While burying banana peels can provide your plants with beneficial potassium, it can also suck up nitrogen that they need to grow. Buried coffee grounds nourish the soil but it can benefit some plants and poison others, so make sure you do your research first. If you’re determined to put your discarded peels and coffee grounds to good use, composting them is the best option.</p> <p><strong>4. Fight pests with mothballs and soapy water:<span> </span></strong>You may keep the bugs away, but burying mothballs can spread toxins in the garden and spraying dish soap on your plants can burn them. If you’re determined to try either of these, test them in a small area of the garden first.</p> <p><strong>5. The more fertiliser the better:<span> </span></strong>This is where the “too much of a good thing” rule comes in. While garden fertiliser can do wonders for your plants, going overboard can burn your plants rather than increase their growth. Before emptying the entire bag onto your favourite plant, consult the instructions.</p> <p><em>Written by Reader's Digest Editors. </em><em>This article first appeared in <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/gardeing-tips/Gardening-Tips-You-Should-Ignore">Reader’s Digest</a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA93V">here’s our best subscription offer</a>.</em></p>

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