Saturday, March 29, 2008

A reunion

Yesterday I travelled to Bayswater from Cockburn Central on the train. I had not used the smart-card system before, but found it easy and efficient. For some time the train system has lost lots of money because many passengers did not purchase tickets. Most of the stations were not fenced and passengers could merely walk off without paying.

The trip was also my first on the new Perth to Mandurah rail line. The train was smooth, fast and comfortable, however, all the windows were vandalised. There are cameras in every carriage and I fail to understand how the transit police cannot board the train at the next station and arrest the culprit(s). The transit police seemed to be in force at all stations during the day, but I wonder how many are on duty at night when the bad boys travel.

Reason for the train trip was a gathering of ex-PNG teachers. There were only six of us as most of the people returning from PNG service have settled on the Eastern seaboard, mainly in tropical Queensland. It was interesting to see the people who dominated the conversation and what they perceived to be interesting to others. I said that Joan and I were thinking of contacting as many ex-PNG teachers as possible asking for contributions of interesting stories for an anthology under suggested headings of: Isolation, Going Troppo, Missionaries, Sorcerers, Grog, Building Schools, Kiaps, Transport, Crocs, Villagers and Headmen, Illegal Liaisons etc. They seemed interested but would probably never get around to putting fingers to keyboard.

Only three of us had fully retired from the workforce. Peter has continued working in a variety of jobs and business enterprises and is now teaching English in Vietnam. He is immersed in the culture and seems very happy in this new work. Here in Perth he and his wife have a very nice home in a river-side suburb which he leaves again soon to spend the rest of the year in a crowded southern Vietnamese city where hardly anyone speaks English and Pete knows but a few words of Vietnamese. Good on him!

We have had another week of pain from our son.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


The cost of most household appliances and equipment is dropping dramatically as production leaves our shores and moves to China.

Not so for the exhaust fan I had to buy yesterday. This fan was not your regular cut a hole in the ceiling and push the fan into type. It had to fit in a specific sized hole cut through a double brick wall. It ended up costing $181.50 for the fan and a fair bit of mucking around to adapt it to the old wall plate.

This project was part of the work I was doing for our daughter as she prepares her unit for lease. I also fitted a smoke alarm, patched some wall plaster and mixed some paint to cover the patches. Today I will return to replace all the tap washers. She has arranged for a flooring man to visit to replace some damaged boards.

A real estate woman has suggested a weekly rent of $320. for this two bedroom unit. That is a sizable portion of Mr Average bloke's weekly earnings; way out of the range of unemployed on the dole.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

At last a win

I had a phone call this morning telling me that I had won a multi-purpose Brother printer/scanner/copier.

When I bought a refilled laser printer cartridge from Cartridge World I was asked if I wanted to be in the draw for a prize. The big prize was a Smart of those babies that look like they have been squashed between a bus and a truck. Would have been nice, but the printer is nice too.

Today I did some repairs at daughter Helen's unit. She is soon moving into a beachside unit with a friend and is going to rent her own unit out. One of the difficult jobs was to replace an exhaust fan in her bathroom as it has died. Kitchen and bathroom appliance manufacturers have this tricky thing where they change the sizes of the 'new' model. Helen's old fan fits neatly into a double-brick wall with a hole of 215mm diameter and the new replacement model is 235mm diameter. I hope to get a suitable alternative fan and if not will have to do some heavy duty masonry with a large hammer. Don't like that idea!

We had rellies and Helen to lunch yesterday. Drank a few bottles of wine and brought out a cheapo white at $5 a litre. Very nice too, but the label with a large 'BONUS 33%' on it would not be a good look at a restaurant.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Multanova speed cameras

On Friday night's edition of Channel 9's ACA there was rehash of a story about people challenging the accuracy of radar speed cameras. In Western Australia there has not been a single successful challenge to this device. The police could not afford to have someone challenge and beat their cash-cow.

My late uncle, who was a retired Police Superintendent, however did get off a Multanova radar camera charge.

He was nabbed on a stretch of road near where he lived in Wanneroo. He rang me asking me to visit him with a decent camera. He didn't tell me what he was about, but took me to a spot on the road and told me to take some photos showing the road and also overhead power lines. When we returned to his place he told me that he had been booked and showed me an instruction manual for that model Multanova camera and on page three in bold print was a warning not to use the camera near power lines. He had pulled a few strings in at Police HQ and got a copy of the instruction manual.

He played a few games with the police and refused to admit it was him driving the car. The local sergeant visited him a couple of times, but couldn't talk him into fessing up and paying the fine. Unc had a reputation for not losing a case when he was a cop and eventually they dropped the charges believing that he did have something up his sleeve to bring to court. He was quite wealthy and could well have paid the fine with a fraction of his weekly pension. He loved that little exercise.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Dupuytren’s Disease

I have this small problem with a lump on my palm which is slowly getting bigger. My cousin has had this problem on both his hands and he has had two operations to remove the lumps and cords which were drawing his fingers back toward his palms making it difficult to grip objects. It is a messy operation and takes a couple of months before full use of the hand is restored.

I am not at the stage that I need surgery yet. Check it out here.

The only good thing about this disease is that it can be genetically linked to the Vikings. Yeah; I’m a plunderer, pillager and all-round bad boy.

Last night my brother, who is divorced, went to a singles party…Dance of the Desperates he calls them. Late in the evening a woman had either a heart attack or a stroke, fell down heavily hitting her head on the concrete. The blokes attempted CPR whilst an ambulance was called. The ambos told them to lay her on her back until they arrived. The blokes vetoed that for some reason or other and kept her on her side. Two ambulances attended and they spent 15 minutes trying to revive her without success. End of party.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

I'm not sure it was such a good Friday. Bunnings was shut along with supermarkets and liquor shops. It certainly sounds quiet out there.

I was out with brother earlier this afternoon and coming over a small hill ran into a random breath test station. It was a big operation with about 12 Officers in attendance. Are they really Officers and don't the real Officers get a bit miffed at other ranks being called Officers?

Anyway, back to the story. The first vehicle parked on the verge had a camera at curbside pointed down at number plates as cars approached the ambush. This camera was probably one of the new ones which matches plate numbers to owners and naughty stuff like outstanding fines and warrants. No red flashing lights or sirens as Kev passed through. And as usual seeing I had nothing to drink they didn't stop me for a RBT: bugger! Just as well as there was a queue of about ten cars waiting to be bagged.

Something I cannot fathom is the government ban on alcohol at aboriginal settlements in the Northern Territory. I can see that it is working and that kids are getting fed and attending school more. There is far less violence and death. The part that I cannot understand is the fact that the Prime Minister has recently apologised for the treatment of aboriginal people of the 'Stolen Generation' and yet again we are deciding what is best for a group of citizens by banning alcohol and placing rigid conditions on welfare payments to these people. Amazingly no one has seen the similarity in both cases. Seems to me both reek of paternalism.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Photos of question time

I took a few snaps of the debates in Question Time today. The pics are from our TV screen, so are not great.

Today's session was relatively calm with very few interjections and guffaws. You will see the members directly behind the Prime minister having the onerous task of staring directly at the TV camera and looking sensible for the whole session. They nod approvingly in unison.
Is that a young Harold Bishop (Neighbours) to the right of the PM?
I still have most of my marbles and can usually fix most things, sort out computer and car problems, do a bit of plumbing and electrical work, do panel and paint on cars etc, but do you think I can get my new DVD recorder to work? The handbook of 135 pages might as well have been written in Cantonese. I am going to have to troll the neighbourhood for a 14 year old boy to set it up for me.

The only solace I have in this problem is that the sales staff at electrical stores moonlight as electronic setteruppers for people like me. I am not alone!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

parliamentary broadcast

Not much on TV at 3.30pm today except a couple of soaps and Question Time in federal parliament. Question Time is OK for a few minutes, then I think that there must be a better way of running a country.

The (Fat) Controller of that raggedy bunch is The Speaker. He looks like a rookie teacher trying to control a class of delinquents. Continuous interjections and 'points of order' make his eyes roll back. Poor bugger!

Behind the microphones of both sides of the House sit those members who are obliged to nod in agreement or shake their heads in concert with what is being said. To overcome the noise from both sides, pollies have to repeat their statements often; usually as in 'Mr Speaker, Mr Speaker...the member for Wentworth is a ....'
I wonder whether this carries on to the home where a politician might address his wife similarly. 'Darling, darling, would you please pass the salt.'

Just saw a promo for the British show Midsomer Murders. The promo for the next episode says that it is a 'village gripped with fear'. No wonder, there are at least two murders each episode in this small English village where everyone knows each other. I'd emigrate to Iraq!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Sculpture by the Sea

We drove up to Cottesloe this morning to take a look. We thought that last year's show was better, however there was plenty to see and some of it was impressive.

Cottesloe beach is lovely; beautiful clear water with a white sandy beach. All the beaches up the West Coast are similar, but Cottesloe beach is by far the nicest beach for a family. The Indiana Tea Rooms is an imposing building right on the water.
A few snaps of some of the installations:

The Indiana Tea Rooms

The Time Machine...actually a complex sun dial.

A Pea Tree on the groyne.
Felt sea shells

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Ear ear!

After the reunion, there were photos passed around to be copied. I scanned a few of interest and the results look quite strange.

In the pic below taken around 1958 one could be excused for thinking that we were all wearing clip-on plastic ears. I am in the front row extreme left. When I saw the scan I immediately went to the mirror and checked out my ears. I figured that 40 years of sleeping on those ears flattened them somewhat.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Reunion

The reunion went off very well. I think the youngest person there was 65.

There were some interesting and some not-so-interesting stories told. When I arrived I was greeted by a lady and honestly didn't recognise her. She thought I was joking. It was my girlfriend from way back in 1958. She is a fine looking woman still but not as I recall her.

Digital cameras were flashing away and I took a pic of the whole group.

There may be a couple missing next reunion.

Monday, March 10, 2008

A reunion

Tomorrow morning I am going to a reunion of Rovers and Rangers. The last time this group were all together was about 47 years ago. There will be a few wrinkles. Years ago a friend who was in the theatre business told me that actors use Preparation H to swell up the wrinkles. I had better dash out in the morning and get a tub.

This afternoon I was viciously attacked in my own backyard. Pruning back our Bougainvillea I was grabbed by a nasty branch and after cutting it with hedge shears it fell on my head. Blood running down my face I desperately extricated myself with a few words of complaint and in bare feet, stepping on several spikes. I reckon Sleeping Beauty had Bougainvillea around the castle. The only saving grace of Bougainvillea is that it is a barricade to fence hopping villains.

Our son continues to be a heavy burden on us. Every week he leans on us for a couple of hundred dollars or more..mostly more. We have set him up in a unit and hoped it would be the start of a new life; but no.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Pharmacy drugs

I have just returned from the pharmacy to get an advance on a script for Indocid. I don’t use it anymore but Joan is paining and it looks like she is starting out on the arthritis journey. Years ago I had bad rheumatoid arthritis and went through the whole gamut of treatments ending up having gold injections, which did the job. Going through all the different medications at about three months each took a couple of years and the rheumatologist eventually, reluctantly, suggested gold injections. Hooray!

Whilst I was waiting for the script to be filled a young fellow walked in and asked loudly for a fit kit. A fit kit is a syringe and associated wipes etc for intravenous drug users. It cost $7.50. It made me think of times long gone when it was highly embarrassing to ask for a condom let alone ask for a drug injection kit.

Today I found the home page of author Jackie French. She has written some wonderful stories/books and her page is well worth a long look. Find it here.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Artesian ponds

On my post of 6th of March I said I would take some snaps of the artesian ponds at Mosman Park. When I went there around lunch time today there was a group of five people lunching at picnic tables. As I said, not many people know this lovely spot is there. It has a few free gas BBQs and lush lawns and shady trees.

The water comes in to a hot water pond and overflows into a spillway of a couple of hundred metres. In the spillway, it is still warm, but by the time it gets into the lower pond it is quite cool.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Bali Bombers

Three of the ‘Bali Nine’ have had their death sentences commuted to 20 years in prison. There are still three on Death Row and they of course will be hoping that the Indonesian courts commute their sentences also.

I am just guessing here, but I reckon that this sudden leniency is to placate the Australian public when the same treatment is afforded the Bali bombers.

The Bali bombers have been a bit sorry of late for the deaths of Muslims amongst the 202 death toll.. They specifically excluded foreign infidels from their sorry statement.

Their lawyer has mounted a case showing that the terrorist laws
cannot be implemented retrospectively. They will probably be acquitted and freed.

The bombers also seem to have changed their mind about wanting to be executed. Maybe Abu Bakar Bashir, the Imam of Terror, has given them the word that as martyrs, there aren’t really going to be 70 virgins waiting for each of them. Anyway….do they remain virgins.? Are they like the Magic Pudding and replenish themselves?

I received a speeding ticket in the mail today. Joan was driving and she knew the bluey was on the way. No points lost, but a $75 fine for being 7 kilometres per hour over the speed limit. That goes to show that the previous allowance of 7/8 k over the limit is no longer tolerated. The camera was placed on a very safe section of a four lane main road. RR’ers!

In NSW speed cameras are in permanent, marked locations. People still get busted. Here in W.A. they change location several times a day…usually to a site which has trees in the median strip so that drivers find it difficult to warn oncoming motorists.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Nursing Home

I visited my friend John in the nursing home yesterday. Depressing!

The building is in a good area with adequate facilities and plenty of staff. There seem to be quite a few African nurses/staff working there. Care givers and hospital staff positions seem to offer instant employment to newly arrived African immigrants.

John was sitting on the front verandah with his wife Joy when I arrived. He was quite lucid and discussed amongst other things the bank rates of the day. Even in his very confused state he is concerned about their investments and superannuation.

He was unhappy about Joy leaving and in the couple of days he has been in the nursing home, her departure has been hard for both of them. I was a bit of a buffer as Joy left to return home. After some time we ran out of things to talk about so I suggested that he show me his room. It was difficult for him to arrange the walking frame, but once he got started we made a fair pace to get to his room. He shares a small room with another chap who has obviously had throat cancer as he has a tube sticking out of his throat and talks with a computer-like voice. He makes regular trips outside to join nurses and other patients in a smoke-fest.

Surprisingly John doesn't seem disturbed by all the noise from dementia patients around him.
It concerned me much more than it did him. Once in his room he became quite confused as to where he was and what common objects like a chair were. After a short time I left him. His family has a loose roster to visit and Joy is going to try and formalise a roster of visitors.

Not far from the nursing home is the Swan River where once stood a large sugar refinery. Over the other side of the river at Bicton is a water polo club and pool. When the sugar refinery was still operating an arrangement was made to pipe heated water from the refinery across to heat the pool. When the refinery was removed and the land carved up into million dollar housing blocks an artesian bore was sunk near the pool. Now, excess hot water is sent back across the river to a nice series of ponds where the heated water steams out creating a virtual tropical garden. Very nice picnic spot that not many people know about. I shall take some pics for another posting.

On Google Earth search for Bicton, Western Australia and the water polo pool and ponds near the point across the river can be seen.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Boys' day out

Today a friend shouted me lunch at a bar. When we arrived we were the only people there, but it soon filled up with about 20 oldies who were having a few pre-lunch drinks before moving on next door to The Curry Club.

We stayed in the tavern and had a nice pasta dish washed down with a few beers. The dish was Penne Arrabiata, a spicy tomato sauce, this one with sliced pepperoni as the meat component.
Delicious! A recipe is here.

I must check out the Curry Club. We both love curries and usually cook a couple each week.

I read recently about Britain's curry restaurants numbering around 8,000, having trouble keeping staff. Maybe they are returning to India to man call centres.

Saturday, March 1, 2008


Ficifolia sounds like a swearword, but it is just a type of Gum Tree. This morning we walked at Bibra Lake which has some very nice tracks and many flowering gums.

Gum trees get a bad press in some countries and California seems to have a love/hate relationship with them. Most of the gums we saw on our recent trip to the U.S. were large stately trees.

Around Bibra Lake there is a variety of gums and most are in flower at the moment. Some very large gums are loaded to breaking with white flowers and the bees reckon they are pretty good. The smell of the white flowers reminds me of a chicken coop....not nice!
Some of the other varieties are spindly, but still have nice flowers.

Some pics here where I will not attempt to name the species:

At the entrance to the walking paths there are plastic dog poo bags supplied and most dog owners take them, however it would seem that many people do put their hand in the bag and pick up the steaming log, only to toss it on the ground next to the path. BDO!