Pat Lane wants to start a conversation about the lost art of communication

ABC South East SA

By

Kate Hill

Updated

April 06, 2017 12:17:44

Video: Pat Lane wants to start a conversation

(ABC News)
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Mount Gambier 5290
(ABC South East SA: Kate Hill )
“What a great talking point and conversation starter,” she said.”It’s a way for someone to sit down and have a chat with someone they’ve never met before [and] bring conversation back in.”Mr Lane said it was an amusing few months of discussions to get the design of the small card exactly right to appeal to multiple generations.The wording, colour and even the font were hotly debated before the final design was decided upon.”When you see the card you’ll think ‘what the hell have they been doing for six months’,” Mr Lane laughed.For those who struggle with what to say, the card even has three starter questions inside to kickstart the banter.”Where do you come from?” is Mr Lane’s favourite conversation-opener because he said it was a question that got the chat flowing.”It’s not a yes or no answer. I mean, family conflicts are usually resolved by chatting.”Wars have even been started over the lack of communication.”Confessing that he gets “browned off” seeing people’s heads always angled towards their digital devices whenever he visits cafes and restaurants, Mr Lane set out to do something about it.An ode to OliveWorking with Mount Gambier City Council’s Denise Richardson, the pair created a simple card designed to spark conversation between strangers.Hundreds of cards have been circulated to the town’s cafes for people to request and place in plain view on their table.The idea sprang from a visit to Broken Hill, when Mr Lane and his wife Olive went to a local cafe to get a coffee.”We thought ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could talk to locals to see where we could stay and see who we could meet’,” Mr Lane recalled.”We thought maybe we could do something about that. Photo:
Cafe worker Kate Henke thinks the cards are a great idea. You always try to ask the first question that makes people talk,” he said.Big hopes for small gestureAs for teenagers and 20-somethings, Mr Lane said he was often confounded by how some valued technology as a means of constant communication.”I know with my grand-kids, I have trouble talking to them,” he said.”They always have their heads in their mobile phones or iPads all the time. Then I lost Olive.”In October last year, Mr Lane’s wife passed away before she could see their plan realised.But Mrs Lane’s memory is there on every card, in the simple border of red roses.”Olive always loved and worshipped a saint called the Little Flower, Saint Therese,” Mr Lane said with a smile.”So the little red roses are for her.”

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Pat Lane makes a new friend at a Mount Gambier cafe. They even say ‘Shhh, Granddad!'”My grandkids text me every time and I text them back maybe one in ten.”Mr Lane wants his small movement to have a big impact and is hoping the idea catches on in cafes and eateries across Australia and perhaps one day, the world.”I would hope we’d get to the stage where we wouldn’t need the cards,” he said.”We’d walk in, someone would be on their own and I would say to them ‘Would you like to have a conversation?'”Wouldn’t it be a great world if you could walk in, there were people sitting around at the table, and they accepted you?”That would be my ultimate.” In a world of tweets, texts and posts, South Australian Pat Lane is hoping a sweet and simple gesture will do big things.”We’ve all lost the art of communication,” said 75-year-old Mr Lane, as he sipped a cup of tea at a Mount Gambier cafe.”It is a very worrying trend; conversation is the most important thing we can have. (ABC South East SA: Kate Hill )
Like, share and postMost cafe owners Mr Lane and Ms Richardson approached said “What a wonderful idea” and were delighted to stock the cards.Mount Gambier cafe worker Kate Henke said it was a common sight to see solo diners tapping away on their mobile phones or reading a newspaper.A devoted ‘people watcher’, she thinks the cards are a great social experiment.

Space Gandalf is the newest star in the galaxy

(ABC Factual: Gemma Deavin) ABC Western Plains

By Gemma Deavin and Jennifer King

Posted

April 06, 2017 15:50:25

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Greg Quicke is now also known as Space Gandalf after his appearance on ABC TV’s Stargazing Live this week.
Author of Earth Turning,” the bio reads.So, waves, the universe, motorbikes and writing — and as it turns out, he is also a former marine biology student from Townsville, a Broome pearl diver, and a self-taught mechanic. Delivering intensely practical astronomy to humanity since 1995. It was a gradual process and certainly not a deliberate thing I set out to do.”Tuned in to relationship between Earth and planetsMr Quicke said after a while, he was able to look at the moon and know where the tide was going to be that day. External Link:

Gemma Deavin tweet
“I actually wanted to go diving [and] there was no diving in the course, so I went to Broome and went pearl diving.”He admitted he had been a bit “lost” and had no clue where he was going, ending up in Broome after his motorbike broke down and he hitched a lift.”Two weeks after my first [pearl diving] pay, I bought a Honda [motorbike] in the pub for $200 and I was back on the road,” he said.Mr Quicke said pearl diving was what activated his interest in the stars and planets, because the work revolved around the tides.”We get a 10-metre [tide] change in a six-hour period in Broome and we would dive the smaller tides,” he explained.”Very quickly, I’m working in rhythm with the moon cycle, because the moon governs the tides.”It took me a little while. (ABC Factual: Gemma Deavin)
And how does he feel about his hashtag?Mr Quicke said he had “copped all sorts of names” over the years, including Merlin, Ariel’s dad, Neptune, and the wizard under the tree.”If it makes people laugh and it makes people think, I don’t mind at all,” he said.When asked how he would explain what he does, Mr Quicke’s explanation is brief.”I don’t have any choice at all in the matter. (ABC Factual: Gemma Deavin)
Living life through zoom lensMr Quicke admitted he was initially drawn to marine biology after watching a TV program featuring the Great Barrier Reef.”I dropped out after a year because I got bored looking in microscopes,” he said. Photo:
Greg Quicke says he got sick of microscopes pretty quickly when studying marine biology. (ABC Factual: Gemma Deavin)
A swag under the starsEventually the inland beckoned and Mr Quicke taught himself how to be a mechanic, finding work on Northern Territory and Kimberley cattle stations.He was a mechanic across the Top End for about 15 years, during which time he spent many nights in his swag, in the bush, under the stars.”Lying back under the stars every night, I didn’t set out to learn the stars but they were there, and so was I, and gradually we got to know each other,” he said. I’m just doing what I’m told,” he said.”If you can get on your own way in this life and do what you’re supposed to be doing, everything is there for you.” Stargazing Live is captivating audiences around Australia this week as Professor Brian Cox and Julia Zemiro deliver the galaxy into our living rooms.But one of the brightest stars of the show has been self-taught astronomy enthusiast Greg Quicke, now also known as #SpaceGandalf.The nickname was quickly shooting across social media networks following his first appearance on the program on Tuesday night.His Twitter bio only adds to the curiosity about this bearded man with twinkling eyes, a big hat and an extensive and enthusiastic knowledge of the constellations.”Surf, stars and handlebars. He said that “tuned him in” to the relationship between the earth, the sun and the moon to the point where he said he could “feel” it.”I could feel the journey of the earth going around the sun and I can feel the moon swinging around the earth,” he said.”It’s not something I feel every day walking around the streets, but when I stop and tune into it, it’s something I have a very real sense of.”

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Greg Quicke appeared with Kumi Taguchi (L) during Stargazing Live at Siding Spring Observatory. (ABC Factual: Gemma Deavin)
“Still my favourite thing to do is to lie back under the stars and forget that I know anything about them.”That’s when I really start learning all over again.”These days, Mr Quicke shares his stellar passion with tourists, taking them on astro-tours around Broome, where there are clear skies 300 days of the year.”I share some things with people that have caused me to wonder and caused me a lot of amazement, and when I share some of those things with people, it seems to be the same for them,” he told ABC Radio Perth.”One day I started talking about stars and I thought I was just saying stuff that everyone knew and basically, they told me to keep talking and I guess that’s what I’m doing, 22 years later.”

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Siding Spring Observatory at Coonabarabran, in western NSW, was the site of filming of the ABC’s Stargazing Live. Photo:
The ABC’s Kumi Taguchi was almost “blown away” at Siding Spring Observatory, with Greg Quicke.
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Coonabarabran 2357