Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Coal versus Hydro

In today's local paper there is a news story about a decommissioned hydro-electricity power plant at the south west town of Collie. The power station was decommissioned after it was flooded in 2000. The government gifted it to the National trust as a heritage site.

They never thought that would come back and bite them.

The Trust chief executive, Tom Perrigo is a go-getter and has asked the Heritage Minister for $4.8 million to get it running again to feed power into the grid. Collie is a big producer of coal; that nasty stuff we should stop using, but will continue to use at the Collie power station at a rate of 1 million tonnes a year. Griffin Coal, the Collie miner, is also building another two coal-fired power stations at Collie. Is this what is meant by carbon trading???

Over the weekend a man was taken by a white pointer shark. Only some scraps of his wetsuit have been found. His family don't want authorites to do away with the shark as the man was in the shark's environment. Fair enough, but what of other swimmers and divers. I am sure that sharks are no different to other fish, birds, insects and animals. They will return to a known source of food. I wont be going diving at Port Kennedy.

I have at last replicated the 1950/60s recipe for chilli Beef eaten by many hundreds of customers at Pals hamburger bar at Canning Bridge. Pals was an instituion and people travelled from all over the metro area to eat at their Canning Bridge site. Unfortunately when the Kwinana Freeway was extended, Pals had to close down. My friend Dennis pleaded with the owners to get their recipe, but unfortunately they decided to take it to the grave.

Here is my version:

Canning Bridge Chilli
Ingredients:
1kg casserole beef
1 large onion
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
3 tablespoons of oil or (authentically use beef dripping)
fresh chillies or chilli powder (you decide your own fire)
1 each teaspoon of cumin and oregano
tomato sauce
500ml beef stock

1kg of casserole steak diced; floured with salt/pepper seasoning.
Fry steak in oil until rich brown
add onions and garlic and saute
add 1 teaspoon of cumin and 1 teaspoon of oregano
cover with beef stock
add chillies or chilli powder to suit heat
simmer until meat is falling apart.
add a small amount of tomato sauce to taste

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Euthanasia

Euthanasia is an emotional word. Right-to-lifers spring out of the woodwork at the casual mention of the word. I am unsure if I would have the courage to top myself when the time comes.

It is argued that we would not keep a pet animal in the state we keep our loved ones.

Today I made the decision to stop the continual suffering; the daily stress of extreme heat and cooling nights. At the morning a rejuvenated one wilts almost to death at the rising of the sun.

So it was time to let my potted silverbeet go. I gave it every chance of survival; plenty of water, a shift under shade, but in the end I gave in and did the deed.

Christmas Day was a good time to catch up with rellies and consume enough seafood, ham and Christmas pud to feed a large village in Zimbabwe. Brother Graham did us proud with his pi├Ęce de r├ęsistance, a large dish of seviche; Mackerel pickled in lemon juice with garlic, spring onions and chilli. Yum!

Graham works for a large seafood wholesaler and as a bonus the boss gave him a large ham, a few kilograms of freshly cooked prawns and some good folding money. He had already bought a large ham and that was gifted to us as leftovers. I am rapidly getting over ham and there is still a heap of it left.

We were last to leave at around 5pm.

The mob. Our son Martin had already left to go on to another show.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day

Monday's dinner party went very well....good food, good company and conversation.

Today, Christmas Day, is the big one. Brother Graham has gone all out with preparations and food. Should be a great day. I believe there are around 20 guests and I will take a group photo when everyone has eaten.

We gave each other our gifts after breakfast. As usual Joan is the one with the creative ideas and she gave me a book, another of the series by local chap, John Dowson called 'Old Fremantle Children'. I taught with John at Willeton SHS and had contributed some old photographs to a major project he completed a few years ago titled "Old Fremantle'. Thanks Joan.

The other present was a solid silver chain for a coin that I wear around my neck. I noticed it went missing a couple of days ago after I had left it on the basin after showering. She had whisked it off to a jeweller to have the chain fitted. That coin is a South African 2/- piece my grandfather Maurice Lee brought back from the Boer war. He wore it as a watch fob and promised to leave it to me when he 'coughed it'. Thanks Joan.

I 'gave' Joan a new handbag and wallet. Naturally she selected both as I have no clue about these things. When she opened her present I was pleasantly surprised that I had selected well.

Christmas Day morning is a bit stressful for Joan as there is no newspaper delivery. She purposely set aside a portion of yesterday's paper to read today. Joan devours the paper and books at a great rate. I reckon she even reads the page numbers. She is a good reference to refer to if I have occasion to remember some detail that I skimmed over in the daily.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Dinner Party

We are hosting a curry night tonight for our next door neighbours and another couple we know through Joan's fabric endeavours. Joan knows Juliet through the group Designing Women.

Joan is also in another four groups: Innovative Stitches, Contemporary Quilt Group, Husqvarna Sewing Club and Secret Drawer. She has been a member of the latter for over 20 years.

Joan has cooked three curries which are not from canned pastes and a sample of each shows the difference in flavours to the commercial curry pastes. Wonderful. There is a Beef Vindaloo, a chicken curry and a vegetable curry.

The male guests have not met before and it will be interesting to see where the conversation goes. Dave, our neighbour, runs a very successful environmental composting business near a massive piggery. Juliet's husband Chris is a 'Mud Engineer'. There is probably a more formal title than that, but he 'builds' the mud that goes down the bore hole on oil rigs. This work has taken their family all over the world for a couple of years at a time.

A party like this gives the house a good clean up. We found much dust and grease which we wouldn't have noticed without the clean-up. Brother is going through the same preparations for the family Christmas Day show at his place.

On brother Graham; he recently took delivery of a surround sound system for his plasma TV. Very nice too. We set it up and had trouble getting all speakers to work. Solution; call in the kids! In this case Graham called in his 16 year old grandson and it was all done in about an hour. Sounds great. Maybe I'll get one too.....not the grandson...the surround sound system.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New storage shelving

After selling a couple of pieces at an art show, Joan spent some of the money buying a shelving system for her workshop. The system is made in Switzerland and very well designed. There is a top rail which is anchored to the wall directly below the ceiling cornice. That rail has a hooked edge on which the vertical shelf supports lock into. The actual shelf arms clip into the verticals and the wire shelving clips into the supports. It is similar to a 1980s shelving called Ladderax.

The top rail is the only piece which is attached to the wall. All the rest remains in place helped by the weight of the shelves and the bits on them. Simple, but good.

I don't know how well this would support the weight if it was used on wallboard or plasterboard.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Bridal Train

A local group, The Waifs, hail from Albany. Two sisters and a very talented guitarist make up the group. They have been very successful on the world and Australian stage.

One of their pieces is the Bridal Train telling the story of the girls' grandmother who as a WW2 bride made the trip on the Bridal Train from Perth to Sydney to join others to travel on the Monterey to meet their 'Yankee Sailors' and their families.

It is a moving piece even if the Australian accent is a little overdone. The story of the Bridal Train can be found here

A video on You Tube lets you hear The Bridal Train. The video images hardly relate to the song, but it is a good listen.

We knew another couple; Homer White, a USN submariner and his Australian wife who resettled in Darwin and then Albany. Homer and his wife were well-known in Albany and almost certainly knew the girls' grandmother and husband after they returned to Australia two and a half years after settling in the U.S.

******************************************************************************************

In Western Australia there is only one oil refinery, owned by BP. Tomorrow BP service stations are jacking up the price of Petrol by around ten cents a litre. Other oil companies have to buy their fuel from BP, but manage to keep fuel at the lower price. BP are always dearer and have no shopper- docket loyalty schemes. Price gouging?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Australia the movie

Last evening we went to the movies to see Australia. It was a charity screening and I wasn't keen on sitting still for 2.5 hours. I haven't been to the movies for a couple of years and it would have to be a better show than this to get me back again.

The theatre air conditioning was not working and it was stiflingly hot. I had forgotten that the main feature is preceded by about 15 adverts....just like commercial TV, but thankfully all at once.

I had read reviews about the film. None praised it. I gave it a 5/10.

I am a bit of a recent-history buff and to see Japanese ground troops on an island just off Darwin left me bewildered. No Japanese troops landed on Australian soil. The movie was pure formula with romance, fist fights, villains, lovable drunks and a bit of aboriginal magic thrown in. The young mixed-race ('creamy') lad manages to stop a stampede of cattle as they rush to the edge of a cliff simply by staring them down.

There were some very good bits to this epic, but it should not have been named Australia suggesting that it was somehow a historic portrayal. Faraway Downs, the fictional station of the story would have been an adequate name.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Fuel Vouchers

Coles and Woolworths, the main supermarket chains in Aus give fuel discount vouchers of $0.04 off a litre of fuel for shopping bills of over $30. Joan spies out other deals such as the Coles' liquor stores where purchases of a half dozen bottles of wine give a 20c discount per litre on fuel at Coles Express service stations. Fuel has dropped dramatically over the past few weeks and the 20c per litre discount really makes this deal worthwhile.

Joan gave me a Coles' docket a couple of days ago and I have been holding out on filling up until I am almost empty. Today was the day and I cruised into the service station and squeezed as many litres in as I could and fronted the cash register to proudly present my 20c off discount voucher. This was the first time about about a year that the bowser meter clicked over with litres and dollars in unison.

'This is a Coles voucher' said the lass behind the counter at the Woolworths' service station. 'Oh OK' I said trying not to look like I wasn't the 69 year old dimwit that I am. I paid by card the full amount and now will have to use up that tank full on a trip to Kalgoorlie to take advantage of the discount before the voucher expires on December 17th.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Beef Chilli

Our Australian Prime Minister is riding the highs in the popularity stakes.

Just today he announced, at a meeting in Indonesia, that Australia is to give Indonesian a billion dollars Aus to promote democracy. I confess to not knowing excreta from clay, but Indonesia recently ordered Russian submarines and helicopters etc. See here. Democracy does come at a high price!

My friend Dennis and I have been on a long-time project to replicate a chilli beef dish which was very popular at a hamburger bar at Canning Bridge in the 1950s. He has claimed to have cracked the recipe and I have tried many times to do so too. Memories are funny things....we remember the same things about what was served and even the deposits on the white china bowls, but even though we have come close we have not been succesful. Today we discussed it at length and decided that the cuisine of the day didn't include fancy sauces and the chilli was probably made from skirt steak with plenty of fat and some raw chillies. To that end I bought some gravy beef and some chillies and did a long, slow cook with beef, chillies, onions and a little gravy powder.

The result is as close as poo is to swearing! I reckon I have cracked it and will take a sample of my CB Chilli for Dennis to try. In such a competitive atmosphere I am not sure he will admit to my success.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Xmas Day

Brother Graham has claimed the right to hosting families on Christmas Day. A bit of bidding was done to determine who makes what for the feeding frenzy. Bro wanted a Christmas Pudding and Joan decided that she would make it and another fruit salad for our contribution; I will do my share and bring the wine. We have not had a Xmas pud for years; in fact the last time we had one it contained 'zacs' (three-penny pieces) pronounced 'thruppences'. The spell checker didn't like those words!
Joan made the pudding yesterday and it took most of the day to mix up and cook. After mixing up loads of fruit and cake ingredients it was ladled into a pudding bowl, the lid tied down and boiled in water for 8 hours. It looks great. Once cooled down it was wrapped in cling-wrap and put in the fridge until the day. The instructions say to give it another two hours of boiling before serving.

The pudding bowl reminds me of Norman Lindsay's Magic Puddin, a devious little pud who replenished itself after every serving. Need a few of them for starving Africans.

Read about Lindsay and the Puddin here.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Making Sushi

We bought a rice maker last weekend because it was on sale and really cheap . We had one years ago, but rarely used it because it was so large. You had to cook a minimum of 3 cups of raw rice. It went to the Good Sammies, and I hope a larger family got good use from it.

This one will cook a minimum of 160g raw rice. We eat a lot of rice, but there is only the two of us, so this seemed a good deal. We have used it twice this week, so it is earning its keep.

Kev decided he wanted to make sushi (inspired by Paul a couple of days ago). I had made some in the past, so we might have some of the ingredients.

I looked in the pantry. I had short grain rice. I had sugar and rice vinegar. I had a package of nori (seaweed) sheets - but what was this use by date? Had I really kept this for nearly 20 years?!!

Into the bin it went and the shopping list was amended.

We had sushi for dinner tonight. The filling was prawns, cucumber and carrot, with a squirt of QT mayonnaise, and wasabi, ginger and soy on the side. Two sheets of nori and a cup of rice is more than enough for the two of us.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

people I would like to meet before I go

I have just watched an interview between Kerry O'Brien and Woody Allen on the 7.30 report (ABC Australia). I have always loved Allen's movies and his sense of humour. He came over very well in the interview, self depreciating and warm. I thought I had most of his movies on tape and was surprised to hear that he has made 44 movies. He doesn't believe that he is an artist just a lucky film maker. Yeah!
Love The Purple Rose of Cairo starring his last wife Mia Farrow.

The other filmaker I would like to sit down with and share a drink with is Mel Brooks. He is quite a different character ... more along the lines of the three stooges. Mel manages to slot in some German soldiers into most of his comedies.

Both these blokes are Jewish and that shines through in their comedies. Sometimes I feel that there might be some Jewishness in my background. My cousin thinks he has traced it way back to our roots.

I recall an interview with an old Jew who was a farmer in the W.A. wheatbelt. He was asked about his plans for the future and he replied...'At my age I don't even buy green bananas'.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Infanticide in NG Highlands

In today's West Australian newspaper there is a report about infanticide in the New Guinea Highlands. It seems that women from opposing warring clans have been killing their newborn sons to stop another generation of fighters disrupting everyday life in the villages. They figure that if there are fewer men, there will be far less fighting. Seems perfectly reasonable to me. There aren't a lot of women out there starting wars.

The report quoted two women from opposing clans, Rona Luke and Kipyona Belas who said...'Male infanticide reduced the cyclical payback violence infamous in Highlands' tribal fights'. Not bad for unsophisticated villagers.

That 'quote' was almost certainly a westernised version of 'If they die they don't fight'.

********************************************************************************************
My brother works for a seafood wholesaler/distributor. On deliveries to restaurants he has seen some grotty kitchens. The business deals in a lot of cash transactions (?). Other restaurant owners give their cheque book to bro and he writes out the amount and they sign it. Illiterate?

When he delivers the seafood and puts it in their freezer he is obliged to eat a sample of their food...fish and chips; Chinese , Vietnamese etc.

Recently his employer has dumped his W.A. distributor of local frozen chips and imported two containers of chips from Germany. Can they be much cheaper than the local product?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Lotto

After the hassles I had on Saturday losing my wallet with all my credit cards, a lotto ticket and some cash, I was very relieved to get it back courtesy of an honest K Mart staffer.

Saturday was also my birthday so I figured it was looking good for the Saturday night Lotto draw. How many times have I thought that?

Sunday morning I checked the ticket against the winning numbers and I found that I had won a minor division 3 prize of $1650.05

Joan is suggesting that I buy an iPhone. I like them, but I don't often use my current mobile. The various iPhone contracts are quite confusing, but the lowest seem to be around $70 a month for a reasonable amount of data.

Have to have a think about that.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Birthday (old) boy

Today I turned 69. Got a couple of nice pressies and happy birthday wishes.

I went to a large shopping centre with brother Graham and we had a very mediocre Chinese meal at a food hall. Bro decided that he wanted to buy an electric carving knife and so we went to several stores looking for them. En route I bought a lotto ticket and folded it into my wallet. I remember that part. After exiting K Mart I realised that I had lost my wallet with a hundred dollars cash, but more importantly ALL my cards.

Bro did the sensible thing and asked the infuriating question: 'where did you lose it?' After visiting all the places we had been I suddenly remembered that whilst we were in K Mart I had put the wallet on a shelf to show him how a hand-held vacuum cleaner worked. We dashed back to K Mart just as a K Marter was handing it in to the front desk. Much thanks and relief expressed.

That lotto ticket could be a lucky one?

Is it something to do with being 69? Probably not as I have been doing things like that since I was sixteen.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Midnight marauders

I get up reasonably early in the mornings and when I go out to inspect my veggie patch I see snails making their way back under cover for the day's sleep. The buggers only eat at night and the only other time they are active is when it rains. They are apparently the same breed of snail that the French eat. I guess that would be one way to control them, but I'll go for the snail pellets thanks.

Another observation I have made with our magpies is that they do not have the instinctive chicken foot scratching when foraging for food. Strange really, seeing that we have lots of earth worms in our garden. Two pieces of worthless information for you!

We have some problems with fences at one of the units we own. On two sides, the fences have been forced over...one with a heavy vine growing on an adjoining vacant block and the other which a neighbor is using as a retaining wall for a metre of rubble, old bicycles etc etc. Both of the owners are going to be difficult to deal with. Dividing fences are a major problem in suburbia and the W.A. government has even published a 29 page booklet about dividing fences and the bylaws pertaining to them. It is most likely that we will have to bear the costs ourselves.


Monday, November 24, 2008

So the Real Estate market has collapsed?

On the weekend bro and I went to a house opening in Bicton. The house was one that our family owned which we sold in 1993 for around $215,000. It is now on sale for $990,000 - $1.o5M. The house has had a very nice work-up since we sold it, but it is still a timber-framed asbestos clad three bedroom suburban dwelling. Here is a pic from the advert:

Also on the market is a country residence in the town of York. York is a lovely country town with a lot of Western Australian history. It has many fine colonial buildings and a vibrant art and museum culture. We could live there. This York residence is a major building and whilst I can see that working in the city, accommodation can command high prices, the York house wins on value. Trouble is ...1. We would be really stretched to find that sort of money. 2. We like where we are and 3. Once we start to get really oldie-sick we would have to be in Perth for serious treatment. And one other thing....we would need servants just to keep the place clean.

Here is the York place. See it here.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Drugs in sport

Ben Cousins, our local football star with a drug problem is back in the news as the AFL demands that he undergo regular urine and hair tests to make sure he doesn’t get back on the good stuff. I hazard a guess that there are quite a few players in the League throughout Australia who also party hard on weekends and use a bit of the good stuff.

The local newspaper seems to put up a bad photo of him whenever there is any news about Bennie. This is one photo that regularly crops up and shows him a bit worse for wear, shirtless, showing off his large tattoo ‘Such is life’. At first I thought they were being a bit mean to Ben, but then he had it done and probably wants people to see it.

He missed his first hair sample test because he had his hair and indeed his body hair, cut short making the test worthless. Most reasonable people would think that that is a bit suss.
*******************************************************************
We love curries and before John went into care, would dine out at Indian restaurants with John and Joy. Remembering, that I decided to take him a curry for lunch this last Wednesday. It was a Thai Red Curry chicken dish. He left nary a grain of rice. That of course doesn’t mean that he loved it. John can eat more than most people of our age.
*******************************************************************
I ran into a bit of a problem with setting up the computers for shipment to Africa. Murdoch University Student Guild was a bit worried that all the software I was about to load didn’t have licences specific to each machine. That is a bit of a worry as it could cause Murdoch and me a bit of strife if Apple found out about it.

Today I rang Apple Australia and explained that I had saved these machines from landfill and the software (operating system) I was loading was legacy software anyway. I was passed on to three different blokes who explained the legalities and the last fella explained that each computer must have its own OS disc and they could do a deal @ $10. For each OS Disc. I explained that the machines were going to remote African schools which could not afford to buy computers anyway. The man said he would talk to the boss of Apple Australia and get back to me. Within 30 minutes I was told that they would waive any claims over software licences. I did think that that would be the case. I wonder if Microsoft would do the same?

About Bill Gates; he has stepped down from running Microsoft.... just like Vladimir Putin has stepped down from running Russia.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Early word-processors

There was a news item on local TV about a bloke who had collected lots of typewriters. We have just two; an Underwood Standard Portable and a wonderful Standard Folding Typewriter.

The Underwood is probably a 1950s model. The Standard was patented in 1904 and ours was built in 1910. Both still work. The folding job comes in a nice flock-lined box.

No problems disposing of old typewriters; one could just construct a very nice piece of sculpture like our friend Haddon did.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ubuntu

Having exhausted most avenues to send SH computers to third world countries, I thought I would have to try and give them away to individuals. Out of the blue I received a comment on our last blog with details of a Murdoch University scheme called '8Ball Computer Recycling Program'. I contacted the gal who fronts the program and she was very happy to use my cache of computers until she found out that they were Macs. 'Our IT students don't know anything about Macs', she said. I got over that one by offering to set them up with all the programs that come with the Apple operating system and she was very happy about that. The next shipment goes in February, so I have plenty of time and no doubt more Macs will come my way from other sources.

The Murdoch IT students overcome the software piracy problem by installing Ubuntu, an open- source operating system on the PCs they configure. That stops the computers 'phoning home' to Mr Gates and getting sued. Ubuntu can be installed on Macs, but OSX is such a nice OS and it comes with everything needed without having to use Mr Gates' stuff.

The Murdoch Students' Guild page is here...http://murdochguild.murdoch.edu.au/swb/

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Malaria antibodies

Yesterday I received a letter from the Red Cross Blood Service letting me know that after some 45 years since I had a malaria attack, my blood still has Non-Parasitaemic Malaria Antibodies in it. Not that that means much; I can still donate for plasma. I would like to blame that malaria hangover for something, but cannot think of what.

I have mentioned before that I collect good computers from institutions for re-distribution to poorer countries. My shed has around 30 machines in good condition with monitors and software ready to go. Previous destinations have been Bali and Zimbabwe. Both those destinations are no longer viable because of transport problems. This week I have contacted the Lions Club, Rotary and Notre Dame university in Fremantle to offer them for shipping to East Timor. Alas, all three have ceased shipping gear to ET. Next I searched the net for Aboriginal Missions in outback Western Australia. I talked with the Principal of an SDA Mission school in Meekathara. Their web page suggested that they find funding difficult and looked like a good target for my gear. 'Sorry', she said 'We are about to receive our new computers and dump our old ones.'

I cannot let these machines go to landfill and so will approach our City Council to get an article placed in their newsletter offering them to people who cannot afford a computer or are a bit afraid of technology. There must be lots of oldies thinking about writing their memoirs. The offer will include set-up, instructions and follow-up help. I have done it for a few people in the past and it isn't that difficult.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Bali 9

So, the Bali Bombers are no more. I found it amazing that western journos and photographers were able to film amongst the radicals at the funerals without even a brick chucked at them.

The Australian Foreign Minister has just today; the day after the executions, appealed for a moratorium on the death penalty around the world. This must surely inflame the radical Muslims of Indonesia when Australian citizens from 'The Bali 9' are also on Death Row. Maybe the Minister should have waited a couple of months until things cooled down before speaking out. Maybe he has been informed that the Australians are also going to be executed very soon??

In my lifetime there have been some amazing inventions, but I think the best one for me is the no-leak, no clog, sauce bottle top. This wonderful aid to pie eaters has a sphincter-like lid which with pressure allows the sauce to squirt out and immediately cease as pressure is released. I can see applications here for we elderly. I have always been amused when I see people trying to shake out sauce from a bottle by banging on the base of it. Physics tells us that hitting the base of the bottle should make it go further back into the bottle.

A quote from Irish author Hugh Leonard....."There is only one immutable law in life — in a gentleman's toilet, incoming traffic has the right of way."

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Arabica and Robusta

Rummaging through the pantry cupboard for some spices for my pickled cabbage project I found several bottles of instant coffee. I thought that Joan might be doing a Nell. Nell was my dear grandmother who, when late in her life started buying daily amounts of bacon and chicken. We had to dispose of quite a lot of her hoard and my mother managed to restrict gran’s cash.

No this wasn’t Joan sliding into dementia, she just buys it when it is on special at the supermarket. I was astounded at the price of instant coffee and wondered why we actually drink it. Coffee houses are doing great business and I can’t see what it is all about. I don’t get any sort of buzz from drinking coffee. Wine works for me!

I do understand why coffee is expensive as I have had first hand experience of the harvesting and processing coffee when we worked in Papua New Guinea before independence. The plot my school had was owned by the agriculture station nearby and they let us have use of it for a couple of years. The small coffee farmer in PNG works very hard to earn very little from their coffee crop. To get the ripe beans (called cherries) to the dried state (called parchment) is hard work.

Lowland coffee is Robusta coffee and is used as the poor cousin to the finer Arabica which is grown in the NG highlands. The plot we worked was Robusta which needs to be grown in shade. The shade tree is Leucaena-leacocephala, a sort of mimosa with fine leaves. When the cherries are ripe they are picked by hand by pulling down the coffee tree branches which spills the dead leucaena leaves on the picker. Another foe is the nasty Korokum ant which, although not poisonous, is a right mean bugger. The cherries unfortunately do not ripen all at the same time so there is a bit of hunting for ripe beans.
Coffee pulper

Once enough beans have been picked they are put through a huller which breaks off the outside flesh, and the beans are then fermented in water for about a week to get rid of the adhering fruit flesh. After much washing the beans are laid out on plastic in the sun to dry, which takes about a fortnight in dry weather until the beans are so hard a tooth makes no impression on them. At this, the parchment stage, the coffee is ready for sale to a buyer who usually drives past the village if it is on a road.

The factory door price for highlands Arabica coffee is around A$1.20 per Kilo. Robusta is much less and buyers of course pay even less at the village. Hardly worth the effort!

Papua New Guinea produces about 1% of the world’s coffee, most of it Arabica.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Lincoln & Obama

Yesterday, the 6th of November, 148 years ago, Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States. Those states were hardly united and seven of them seceded before Lincoln took the oath of office.

Lincoln had only one year of formal schooling.

It is a pity that Barack Obama missed out by one day.

He has been elected at a time when things are looking a bit bleak. On the other hand he cannot be blamed for the economic crisis or the minor wars the U.S. is involved in. I cannot see how he can fix things, but if he does he will be remembered as not only the first black president, but also the saviour of that nation.

In an Australian poll taken during the election run-up, 76% of Australians thought Obama would make the better president. I thought he looked and sounded statesman like.

There are enough gun nutters in the U.S. to keep the Presidential security personnel employed for quite a few years.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Christ Church Grammar

A couple of days ago we received a letter from the agents looking after a rental property we own. It seems that the tenants have given notice that they are moving out. Looking at the dates shown in the letter, we reckon we should go them for backdated rent.

Last night a friend and I went to a show at Christ Church Grammar School, an Anglican College in Claremont. Not too shabby at all. The purpose of the show was a MacIntosh Users' Group meeting to take a look at their 'Future Sphere' IT Centre. The School has a student population of around 1310 boys and the fee structure is heavy compared to government schools. I guess this is why their facilities and equipment is state of the art. The school that I taught at before my retirement has nothing like the equipment and facilities at CCGS. The fees payable at government schools are very modest indeed. Lower school fees are set at $250 per year. These fees are calculated to cover the basic courses and if a student elected to take, for example, continental cooking; additional fees would be levied for ingredients etc. Upper school fees are calculated at $400 per year. At Willetton SHS, where I taught, about 96% of fees are paid. Other schools in poorer areas would probably only collect about 30% of their fees.

Don't spread it around, but it is not generally known that Government school fees are not compulsory.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Bali Bombers

The Bali Bombers are soon to die. Speculation about when is rife. It may have already happened or it may again be delayed by a last minute appeal from family and lawyers.

The last execution in Australia was 41 years ago with the hanging of Ronald Ryan. It took a few years more for most states to abolish the death penalty. Many of the arguments against the death penalty were based on the fact that quite a few innocent people on death row were executed. Not so with the Bali bombers. They freely admit their guilt and are looking forward to martyrdom and the virgins which are going to be theirs in paradise. Question: Do female martyrs get male virgins?

It might be a cultural thing, but I think that most Australians are disgusted to see the trio laughing about their atrocities along with their prison guards and soldiers. Even if a cop here was sympathetic towards a prisoner, there would be no public acknowledgment of it.

For six years we have heard news reports of the trial and the repeated phrase 'killed 202 people, including 88 Australians'. I haven't heard much about the deaths of over 100 Balinese people and if there has been any significant aid going to those families.

Should the Bali bombers get another reprieve and there is a change of government in Indonesia at the next election and a radical is elected as President, the Bali Bombers could well get a Presidential Pardon.

Australia does have conflicting views about the death penalty in foreign countries.

Not in my time, but Radical Islam is going to be a problem for Australia in the future.

Let them go to Paradise.


Saturday, November 1, 2008

How to beat the Trick or Treaters

Halloween is not an Australian tradition, but seems to be creeping more and more into suburban life. We were never visited at Bicton by costumed blackmailers, but the first year we were in this house we were. At least three groups. Totally unprepared, we had to resort to small change.

I was prepared last year. I made sure we had some sweets on hand. We had one visitor, a teenage girl who retreated in fright when Kevin let out a roar as I was handing out the goodies.

Yesterday we were just about home when we noticed some kids in costume coming out of their house. Ooops, I had forgotten it was October 31. Kevin went to the shop and we prepared a bowl of tooth destroyers.


No visitors. So now we think we have hit upon the formula to avert visits by Trick or Treaters. No need for garlic or silver crosses - just buy a couple of bags of home brand lollies and they will never come near the house.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

RSA Course

I have been reading a blog by an expatriate Australian living in Papua New Guinea. It is an interesting read. You can read it by going to the links at the right hand side of this page and clicking on Robert@PNG.

Our son Martin applied for a casual job at a bottle shop/tavern. It would seem that he has the job, but had to do a one-day course called RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol). See about it here.

Helen has just received notice from the Education Department that she will not be at the same school next year. A teacher with permanency has been appointed in her place. She will get another school, but is now thinking of going to work on a minesite...long hours, but heaps of money.

My vegetable growing efforts are going well, so much so that we are a bit sick of broadbeans and silver beet. The tomatoes are showing fruit, but as usual when they are ready for harvest, the stores will be flooded with cheap tomatoes strip-mined around Geraldton. (apologies to Garrison Keillor for that one) The upside-down tomato experiment is working but the ones pot-planted are doing better. Don't think I'll bother with that method again.

Our Physalis - Alkekengi, Cape Gooseberry, Chinese Lantern Plant ...is doing well. The name Cape Gooseberry is derived from the Cape of Good Hope where it was cultivated. Cape gooseberries are a bit like Cumquats...quite a bitter taste designed to let people with a hangover know that they are still alive.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Daylight saving

Here we go again. In the next few months there will be more talk about daylight saving than about the recession and the Iraq war. As with most controversial topics the people who are satisfied with it will not be vocal; only those who hate it.

It would seem that about 75% of this state's population is against daylight saving. It doesn't bother us at all and I can sympathise with W.A. businesses wanting it as their eastern states counterparts close up for the day three hours before us here. Too bad if you have to call a Sydney business house after 2pm W.A. time.

The feeling is that the next referendum on the subject will be final and that W.A. will not have Daylight Saving after this year.

The only downside I can see is that we have had to change the clock settings on 29 clocks. Cars; phones,VCRs, DVD recorder, ovens, wall clocks, wrist watches, computers and that doesn't include digital cameras. This would upset a few of our seniors if they don't have a 12 year old grandkid on hand.

We have had two days keeping bro-in-law Mike company whilst Dorothy, his wife, has had a complete knee replacement. Sleeping in a new bed doesn't work for us. The next shift is with him now and Dorothy has prepared a spreadsheet with his daily routine and times for carers visits and tablets.

I don't think Dorothy is going to be very mobile for a long time. She started on her physio yesterday. They have a torture device which bends the leg at the knee to inflict great pain. Apparently those patients who don't fully participate in the physio programme end up with little improvement from the operation.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Malaria

We both gave blood yesterday morning. It is a process where the donor wades through several pages of questions delving into diseases, sexual preferences and habits and contact with foreign diseases.

Today, they had a new regime which brought Malaria into the picture. In the early 1960s I contracted Malaria in what was then the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I had one bout whilst teaching in the Gulf of Papua and another whilst on leave in Perth in 1962. Nothing since.

The questionnaire asked about Malaria and I fessed up to having it way back then. When I resigned and returned to Australia in 1964 I took the recommended big hit of Camoquin and have had no more trouble with the big M since. In the second period of my PNG service in the 1970s I had a wife to ensure that I took my anti-malarials regularly.

The interviewer consulted various texts and made notes on my forms and it seems that they will run some tests on my donation to determine if any of the parasites are still living in my liver. That being done, I gave my donation and sat down with Joan to have a coffee and biscuits. A young lady came in and sat down at our table. She is a Police Cadet and it turns out I taught her at Willetton SHS when I was doing relief teaching after my retirement. Lovely young thing!

She is in her first year of the cadetship and when she turns 18 can apply for full police training. The cadets are on a small salary and out of the approximately 200, just 60 will be accepted into full training. I reckon she will make it.

Also, yesterday afternoon, we drove up to Hillarys (that’s a suburb) to be with bro-in-law Mike whilst his wife Dorothy has a knee rebuild. Mike is doing quite well since his Deep Brain Stimulation operation, but needs a bit of a hand with some of his personal care. We stayed over and visited Dorothy in hospital this morning. We dropped him back to his home where a carer will be with him until 4.30pm when we will return for another overnighter. Dorothy has planned this for some time with a roster of friends and family to look in/after Mike. She has cooked and frozen meals and set out all Mike’s tablets for the eight times a day he doses. He takes about 25+ tabs during the day and night reminded by a loud, smart, wrist watch.

Parkinson’s disease is not a walk through the park.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sour Cream

Last night we watched our fav cooking programme on TV; The Cook and the Chef. Maggie Beer and Simon Bryant share a passion for food and cooking. Simon is the Chef, runs a restaurant and teams up with Maggie who calls herself the cook. It is a well balanced presentation of good tucker.

Last night one of the dishes served up contained sour cream. It immediately reminded me of Mrs Sabodka. Mrs Sabodka was a post war refugee to Australia and for some time lived as a boarder with our neighbor in Bicton. As I recall, she was a very flamboyant woman; spoke English with a heavy european accent and wore lots of jewellry and make-up. I must have been around 9 years of age when she tried to introduce our family to sour cream. Poo, yuck....thanks but no thanks my mother said...not to Mrs Sabodka of course. Mother used the more diplomatic 'Oh that's interesting' whenever she didn't like something.

The most exotic Australian cuisine at the time; around 1948, would have been battered sheep brains which mother tricked us kids into eating by calling them fish. We loved them too!

The neighbors who took Mrs Sabodka in were a strange lot. Miri the wife was a pre-hippie hippie who was married to Jack 'Deafy' Williams. Jack was what was then termed 'deaf and dumb'. He communicated with a pad and pencil punctuated by grunts. I recall that he a wonderful motorcycle, a water-cooled Velocette, which ran like a sewing machine. One evening he rang our doorbell and I opened the door to find Jack there with a horse nudging the screen door. He wrote that he had found the horse wandering and didn't know what to do with it. I cannot recall what my father said/wrote to him, but later we had a few laughs about that one.

I have searched in the White Pages for any Sabodkas without luck. I would love to find out her story. Was she a holocaust survivor? Where did she come from?

Of course I may have the spelling quite wrong. Some european languages do not sound as they are written.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Taxing times

We have been hit hard over the last couple of days. Joan scored a multanova speed ticket of 12 kilometres over the limit earning a $150/2 demerit points fine (for the Government).

Then today we received our tax assessment back from our tax accountant with a small amount of just under $20,000 to pay the tax man. It sounds like we are earning heaps, but not so. In reality it is capital gains on shares we sold earlier in the year to finance part of the purchase of a unit to house our son, Martin. I guess that the only saving grace is that we sold the shares before they were savaged by the economic mess the world is in now.

Sin Bee is a Teacher/IT specialist at Castlereagh School for severely disabled children. She runs educational programs on the many computers scattered throughout the school. I have assisted her at times with set-up of MacIntosh computers donated mainly by W.A. Newspapers. She has just returned from long service leave to Asia and Europe. In Thailand she attempted to find a school which would take about 20 Macs I have configured to teach an English language program. It seems that the Thais are not too interested in assistance. I will search for some local causes to set them up for. I hate seeing good machines go to landfill.

The picture is of a native Iris. Pity the flowers don't last too long.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Casino?

Our daughter Helen's car was supposed to be finished the panel work on Friday afternoon. I got a call from the man saying that he would finish it Saturday afternoon and I could collect it late Saturday. I wondered why he would go to all that trouble just for me and then figured that he probably needed the cash in hand to go to the Casino. Each time we have done a cashy with him (twice before) he manages to get the job finished Friday afternoon for a bit of tax free for the weekend.

The panel job was well done, but the paint wouldn't win any awards. I will try someone else next time we need repairs.

I mentioned before that brother Graham and I bought a couple of cheapo hands-free phone kits at Canning Vale Markets. They didn't work well and I tried to chase the guy up for a refund. He wasn't there the following weeks, so I wrote him a letter. He rang explaining that he had been in Sydney and that he would refund our money today at the markets. Maybe he is a nice bloke after all.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Bee time

I took Helen's car to the our tame panel beater and he gave me a cashy deal @ $550. Helen moaned a bit about that much, but I justified it by saying that a set of tyres would cost more than that and anyway we will pay half of it; balancing what our son gets from us weekly.

The panel man's yard was full of vehicles awaiting repairs, but he told me to bring Helen's car in on Thursday and it should be finished by Friday evening. He likes a bit of tax free in hand for the weekend.

It is spring and bee swarming season. We had a large swarm doing a tornado impersonation in our backyard and settling in one of our trees. Fortunately that part of the tree was in a neighbor's yard and when I offered to terminate the swarm the wife came over all green and wanted them saved. She rang a local bee man and he told her that as they were so high in the tree, he could not easily take them away for one of his hives. He too offered a termination service.

I googled bee swarms and it seems that the tree bit is just a temporary stop-over until they find a nice hive place, and sure enough they moved on the next day. Bees like to find a place with a relatively small opening into a larger chamber to establish a hive...like a wall ventilator. Once a hive has been established, even if the bees are destroyed, other bees can find the same place to hive next year.

At our unit where our son Martin lives there is a hive in the cavity wall and bees get into the second bedroom through the internal wall vent. I rang the corporate body for the units and they have had several other complaints and a pest management company has been given the job of getting rid of them all. Have you noticed how the names have changed from Pest Exterminators to Pest Management? Is that PC talk or a realisation that most of these pest problems can only be managed and not solved completely?


There is a house quite close to us in our suburb where we have noticed a couple of their cars with varying amounts of new damage. This week we saw that one of them has entered the garage without opening it. Methinks it is a case of DUI.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Our daughter Helen dropped in after work today to show me a minor scrape she had managed to give her car. It was pretty minor, but still probably $400 worth of panel beating and paint. She rang her insurance company SGIO to find out what her excess was, to decide whether to make a claim or just have it repaired. When she gave the operator her policy details he asked about the extent of the damage to assess whether the company would charge her more for her next annual premium. She quickly told him that it was only a scratch. At the same time she advised them of a change of address from Victoria Park to South Perth. The man then said that there might be an increase due to a higher risk of accidents in that area. BS! For those who don't know, South Perth is a far more upmarket suburb than Vic Park.

I will take her car to my tame panel beater for a cash deal.

In tonight's news there was an interesting item about John Quigley a lawyer, now Labour state politician. His house and boat were painted with large letters claiming that he is a child molester. He reckons it is a bent cop. His evidence for this is a spelling mistake in the text. Johnno says that in 28 years as a police lawyer he saw that 'cops are useless spellers'. Don't think that would hold up in court John.

John did upset a few cops when he helped one Andrew Mallard get out of the big house after an appeal against his murder charge. Mallard was inside for 12 years and looks like getting a BIG government sorry payment...something like $10 million.

As a result of the appeal and the freeing of Mallard, several top cops are suspended and likely to face charges.

Friday, October 10, 2008

of cabbage moths

Yesterday a friend Dennis and I visited John at his nursing home. I gave him a haircut and we had a fairly lucid conversation. We were sitting on the front verandah of the home and John, out of the blue, told us that Joy, his wife, had purchased one of the parking bays out the front saying that she doesn't use her bay and has probably resold it at a loss. The bays are not for sale and I figured this is part of his current concern about their finances. Earlier in the week he did a runner from the nursing home and when found, he had given a householder a quote for cleaning up his front garden.

Joy has heard that there is a possibility that the nursing home is to be sold, probably for the land value in that suburb. If so she hopes to place John in care closer to her home.

Years ago I wondered whether places like the Soviet Union with its closed society could talk up economic conditions to the point where the population believed that all was well. With the current economic crisis I think I see just that being done by our Prime Minister and others in the finance sector. Mr Rudd is repeatedly telling us that Australia is well placed to weather this storm compared to the Europeans, Asia and the United states. Our banks aren't about to collapse. Our economy is going to see us through this crisis. Last night on ABC's Today Tonight he looked decidedly pale and a bit stressed. Hope he is correct.

My small garden is under attack from white cabbage moths. I bought a cheapo set of Badminton racquets and went out to give it to em. The moths have incredibly small brains and when I stand still with no weapon, they flap around me like I am a bright light. Pull out the Badminton racquet and they are very difficult targets. I have downed a few of them and have found the backhand and uppercut stroke to be most effective. On the downside I have strained a few unused muscles.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Bronwin Owen


Today a friend and I visited Bronwin at her retirement village in Armadale. Bronnie is 99 years of age turning 100 next April. She is holding out for her letter from the Queen.

Her retirement village is in stark contrast to the place our friend John is in. Most, if not all the residents do not have dementia. No locks on the doors there.

Bronwin is remarkable. At 99 she can remember us both well and other classmates from her class of 1951. Her body is showing her age, but she is sharp as a tack. A remarkable lady! I suspect she never smoked, drank or even swore.

Another friend died yesterday after some weeks in a Hospice in Brisbane. Each time I rang him he sounded bright and lucid. He went quickly and died Monday morning. He was 68.

Joan is away for a week down at Bunbury on a fabric workshop. I am unsure whether it is quilting, fabric arty stuff or whatever. She rings regularly and seems to be having a good time. Even though I have the King Size bed to myself I cannot get used to taking up the whole bed.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Vintage aircraft


I had occasion to visit a hangar at Jandakot Airport yesterday. It is an aviation geek's paradise with around 12 aircraft being restored. There are a few 'war birds' there; a Harvard trainer, several Boeing Stearman trainers and an F86 Sabre Jet, as well as various other birds including helicopters and a Dc3 still in service.

There was a P51 Mustang there until recently, but that has been sold to an enthusiast in South Australia.

I don't know who owns all the aircraft and I am guessing that the workshop/hangar is financed by owners. I would love to work there!

The Stearmans have a lovely radial engine with exposed cylinders. Lots of timber and canvas and great paint. They were the American/Canadian equivalent to the Tiger Moth. Still lots of them flying around the world as with the Tiger Moth.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Don't Miss Out

For the last 5 or 6 weeks I have been engaged in a bit of a wrangle with a business based in N.S.W. named R&C Solutions but trading as Don’t Miss Out. They don’t have a phone number listed and our dealings have been by email and lots of chat sessions with several of their operators. They are auctioneers and have many items on eBay.com.au.

That is where I came to bid and win two items from them. The first item was a mobile phone the same as my current phone, a Sagem. The battery in my old Sagem was on the blink and I won a brand new Sagem for $8.27 plus postage; a real bargain…and it arrived two days after making payment and works very well.

The second item I won was a laptop computer. As it turned out I didn’t want the laptop. The person I was bidding on behalf of decided she didn’t need one anymore. At that stage I had made the winning bid. OK, I thought, I would on sell it as it was priced right.
Unfortunately Kev didn’t read the description of the item and it was described as in poor condition. Bummer!

I waited a couple of weeks before contacting Don’t Miss Out and that is when the Merry Go Round started turning. Every day I contacted them I had to jump through the hoops regurgitating the item No., invoice number, payment details and eBay item number. Each time the operator would put me on hold whilst she searched the warehouse. I was even told to trace the item myself through the shipping company…nothing.

At four weeks, I demanded to know whether the item was lost; whether in fact it had been sent and whether in fact it existed. Twice I was told that it had been located and sent that day. At five weeks I asked for a refund. My daily rants must have worn them down as full refund of my money was made by PayPal.

Lucky I was able to get out of accepting a laptop in poor condition.

Does this stop me/us buying on eBay? No. Yesterday I ordered print cartridges for our Brother all-in-one printer at around at third of the regular price.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Queen's Birthday

Yesterday was the Queen's birthday holiday. Being retired we miss out on public holidays.

The Queen's birthday is not actually on the 29th of September, but that is when we celebrated it here in Western Australia. The Queen's Birthday holiday is proclaimed by the Governor of Western Australia based on the dates of the Term 3 school holidays and the Royal Show. This recognises the significance of the Royal Show, which has been associated with the Queen's Birthday public holiday since 1981. The other Australian States have the Queen's Birthday holiday in June. Queen Elizabeth's actual birthday is 21st April.

The Queen of England (and the other bits of the UK) has just asked for a pay rise to run her massive estates and feed her corgies. She will probably not be affected by the stockmarket crash.

In the U.S.A. almost everyone would instantly recognise that when The Queen is mentioned it will be QE2. There are other queens....a large number of them live in or around Greenwich Village New York, but even though the U.S. has long ago gone it alone, I reckon a goodly number of the elite still claim her as their Queen.

Back to yesterday's public holiday. Joan's sister and brother-in-law rang and arranged for us to meet for a picnic in Kings Park overlooking the city. It was a lovely day and about half a million others decided to do the same. Result; no parking and we had to abandon the picnic.

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Trip to the Country

Joan (writing this) took on the job of organising the bulk purchase of some fabrics for a workshop in Bunbury early in October. There have been some problems, including slow deliveries to the reseller.

With the workshop now only a week away, I have been ringing daily to establish the status of the one of the fabric bolts. Jackpot today. The fabric was delivered yesterday and would be couriered today. I should get it by Tuesday. TUESDAY!! because Monday is a public holiday. The workshop starts next Sunday. All the fabric has to be cut up into smaller amounts and delivered to/collected by the other workshop participants.

So we took a drive to Lower Chittering to collect the fabric. We were told it was a two hour trip. Navman (GPS) was programmed and we set out.

Almost immediately Navman and I disagreed about the route. My idea would be Farrington Road to Karel Avenue , then Roe Highway to Midland. Navman had us onto the Freeway and probably then onto Great Eastern Highway. So we did a bit of disobedience, the GPS recalculated several times and we finally reached Midland. The rest of the trip was straight forward and we reached our destination almost exactly 2 hours after departure.

Coming home, we switched off Navman and got home in an hour and a half, including 10 minutes spent buying petrol and food in Bullsbrook.

Moral of the story? We would have had major difficulties finding our destination without Navman, BUT we knew a faster way for the major part of the trip than the one suggested.

Second lesson. Never leave home without a camera. We missed several great photo opportunities on the way.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Canning Vale Markets

Went to the markets at Canning Vale with my bro on Sunday. It is a combination of a swapmeet and new goods market..it's huge! I went specifically to buy a couple of leather belts, which usually sell for around $35 each in a clothing store, but from $5-7 at the markets.

Whilst doing the rounds we noticed a bloke with a stall selling hands-free mobile phone thingies. They looked good and didn't have the uncomfortable ear bud, just a largish speaker which plugged into the cigarette lighter. The price dropped from $20 each to $14 each so we bought one each. The man pointed out that he has his address printed on the back of the package, so we could drop in to his shop and get cash back if it wasn't suitable. Seemed fair!

When we got home we found that the speaker part worked well, but if the phone wasn't very close to your mouth then the other person couldn't hear you. $14.00 is nothing, but we aren't about to let this bloke get away with it.

I decided to take them back. The address was 437 Stirling Highway. Stirling Highway is very busy during the day and that, combined with the fact that businesses are very slack at posting address numbers on their buildings, Kev had a very frustrating time finding the place. I parked up a side street and took a walk only to find that 437 was a block of units with no business shingles evident . We will return to the markets next Sunday and talk to the man if he is there. I emailed the W.A. Chamber of Commerce suggesting that they urge their members to prominently display their address numbers on their buildings. Doubt they will even reply to my email. Grumpy old man syndrome!

Our son has once again disappointed us and no doubt himself. Addiction is soul destroying. We are most thankful that our daughter is our bright light.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Watkins man

Some time ago I wrote about Carter's Little Liver Pills and strangely enough have had a number of 'hits' from all over the world by people seeking information about the little pills.

Carter's Little Liver pills in fact had nothing to do with the treatment of the liver. The main ingredient was a laxative. The US Federal Trade Commission took 8 years of investigation before they could demand that the company remove the word 'liver' from the name. Carter's LLP was a sponsor on a popular US radio show. Here is an advert from the show. The liver part of the name used was probably an early recognition of the 'shitty liver' syndrome. In fact the US FTC allowed Carter's to recommend that an end to your miseries could be had by a jolly good bowel evacuation

Another of my medicinal memories from the 1950s in Australia was the 'Watkins Man'. The Watkins Man knocked on the back door of our house and opened his wonder case of samples and took orders to be delivered later, or sourced from the boot of his car. I never remember him coming into the house. I have a feeling it was company policy to knock at the back door and not enter the house even when invited.

The Watkins man had a rival, the Raleigh Man who had a similar kit. Stories go that in farming areas there was a camel man...probably an Afghan who sold middle eastern cutlery and fabrics.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Student teachers

Our daughter Helen visited after work yesterday. She needed help writing a final report on a student teacher who has spent two weeks with Helen in her Kindy class. Helen had two student teachers doing their first practicum...one very good; one quite poor. The help she needed from us was in framing the criticism in a professional but nice way. The girl in question cried at the drop of a hat when given advice during the prac session. Both of us have written thousands of reports on students and dozens on practice teachers. I gave up having student teachers when a bikie student teacher got a bit agro at a couple of points I made in his final report.

The report forms for Edith Cowan University were available on the web and all Helen had to do was fill in the spaces...lots of them. When finished I printed the reports out on a laser printer so that tears would not smudge the ink. (Just kidding!)

One of the students did the right thing and got to work on time; prepared and dressed appropriately. The other gal was often late to work, unprepared and wore most revealing and inappropriate clothing for a teacher. She is a big gal and bits of her bulged out of her top.

This afternoon they both have to sit down with Helen and discuss their reports and sign them off. Helen is expecting a few tears.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

GutterMart

This week is 'bring out your dead' week in our council area. Cars and trailers and even trucks go on tour collecting other people's discarded treasures. Some of the gear put out for the pick-up is an indication of what the inside of that house is like. Some of it looks like it would give you a terminal disease.

Our modest heap includes a computer, a couple of monitors, a printer and a few dozen old VCR tapes.

Yesterday, driving home from my brother's house I noticed a compost tumbler amongst other junk about 5 kilometres from our place. I didn't stop, figuring it must be rusted out, but when I got home I hitched up the trailer and drove back to take a look. Turns out that the tumbler is in near perfect condition, so Kev grabbed it and brought it home. It is now full of partly digested compost and looking just fine down the backyard.

I can't understand why the owner didn't take a free advert in the Quokka and sell it. Looking compost tumbler up in the weekend for sale columns, compost tumblers of this make and condition seem to go for around $90. I need a win like this every now and then.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Humans and Animals

In the Australian press yesterday and today is a major story about a bit of animal cruelty after a video clip posted on a website showed a bloke punching and kicking a kangaroo. The RSPCA are urging the people of Australia to dob these blokes in and promise prosecution and punishment. In Western Australia such animal cruelty is punishable by fines up to $50,000 and five years jail. And rightly so if anyone hurts our national symbol; the one we shoot, eat and cull in great numbers.

Australia is also in the grip of alcohol and drug related bashings of humans. There have been numerous cases of ‘one punch deaths’ at venues in all Australian cities. The Western Australian Government (or at least the one that was in before the recent election) has legislated to bring in harsher ‘one punch’ sentencing to deal with such deaths.

The W.A. Attorney General, Jim McGinty said: that under the new law, it did not matter whether the death was foreseeable or whether the attacker actually intended to kill.

“If the victim dies, the attacker can be held accountable for that death and be liable for up to 10 years’ imprisonment,” Mr McGinty said.

Not a lot more than one could get for cruelty to an animal.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A win for the Tech-Deprived

Cousin Edward visited yesterday and we made a combined effort at finally sorting out the DVD player/recorder. I had previously been able to record TV programmes and copy VCR tapes to the hard drive, but not been successful in burning the programmes to a DVD disk.

I had been using DVD+R disks and the handbook said that when the recording is stopped the disk will automatically be finalised. Indeed the recorder did say that the disks were being finalised; but they wouldn't play on other DVD players. We decided to ignore the messages given us by the recorder and manually finalised a disk and it worked.

A couple of tricks (did I say a couple?) for old players (old operators) when operating these machines are............. 1. There are 5 different disks available to use and each has different properties. 2. If copying a previously recorded VCR tape you must estimate how long the programme is and make a selection from different recording modes to ensure it will fit on the disk. Not like the old VCR where you bought a 750 tape which was long enough to record just about any movie; dumped it in the machine and pressed 'record'.

So now all is well and I have started transferring old Beta tapes to DVD. Works well!