Thursday, May 29, 2008

PSA levels

Alan Bond the 'disgraced' entrepreneur is back in business and has cracked the BRW (Business Review Weekly) rich list. That's pretty amazing work on Bondy's part because he emerged from his stay in prison with nothing but the clothes that he stood up in. Methinks he had a fat lot of cash salted away from his creditors. I don't know that for sure, but I'm willing to bet that 90% of Western Australians also think that Bondy was telling porkies when he tearfully claimed he was broke.

A good friend, Haddon, had some good news yesterday. His PSA has dropped from 26 down to 19 after starting his second round of chemo. His prostate cancer operation (radical prostatectomy) failed to get all the cancer and he has had slowly increasing levels of PSA showing a progression of the disease. He has tried a number of treatments, some alternative and some orthodox. We hope this downward trend continues.

Joan returned to the classroom. No she isn't doing relief teaching, but yesterday went to Helen's school and talked to her kids about breadmaking and made some bread. The kids made butter by agitating cream in film contaners containing a marble. It sort of worked and they wolfed down the fresh bread. She is doing a repeat today with another group of kindy kids.

They were also entertained by a visit by Farmer Mick who brought a menagerie of animals for the kids to touch and learn about.

I had a frustrating time trying to set up a broadband connection for a friend's disabled son. On Sunday I drove to Cloverdale confident of a plug and play connection. No such luck! The modem didn't want to get up. We talked to the ISP and got nowhere. We changed modems and I tried again on Monday. Still no joy.

Time to seek help from the Guru, Rob. Problem was that the modem was bought from a retail computer store and wasn't configured for his set-up. Rob (who is a high school IT man) configured the modem and tonight I will give it another go. I recently set up my brother's connection with a modem supplied by his ISP. That modem was set up by them and it was a goer as soon as I plugged it in.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


We buy a weekly Lotto ticket on Saturday. Occasionally we pick up a few dollars with three and a sup, but mostly get only a few numbers out of the 108 on the 18 game ticket. A few years ago we did win $1100. Yesterday's effort was pathetic...see the ticket. Reading up on the statistics of players and winners it seems that a Saturday night winner has a chance of 1 in 8,145,627 of getting the winning six numbers. That's about the same odds as our house being hit by a 747 trying to land at Jandakot regional airport.

Helen has talked with the agents of the beachside unit she is in at the moment and it seems that the whole block is owned by a mining company and they want the current tenants out to house their own people. We inspected another two bedroom unit yesterday. It is about 200 metres from the beach, in quite poor condition at $400 per week. The agent opened it for just 15 minutes and there were about 12 prospective tenants all eager. On Monday she will arrange to view the unit before making an application. The application must be accompanied by a $400 option fee.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Teary Helen

Bro-in-law Mike has shown quite a bit of improvement since his deep brain stimulator has been turned on. He can now pour and drink a glass of wine without giving everyone a shower. Previously he had to use a kiddie drink cup with a spout on it. The next time he sees the specialist the voltage will be increased and he should see still more improvement.

Daughter Helen is quite upset and teary today. Her plans to live in the beachside unit for a year may have fallen through. She has been there for about four weeks and has settled in nicely. Yesterday the tenants received 60 days notice of eviction, ostensibly to allow the demolition of the whole block of units. She inquired of the elderly woman who lives upstairs and found out that she has tenancy until January 2009. So it is possibly a move to get a higher rent in the intervening period. Helen rang today and we calmed down and formulated a plan which will either...1. See her sell her rented unit, or 2. Try and see if she can pay the difference of any rent increase, 3. Shift in with Mum and Dad, or 4. Rent somewhere else at the same rent as she is getting for her unit. The latter option is not good economics.

Last night the ordination of Australia's first Anglican Bishop took place in Perth. The traditionalists are unhappy claiming that the blokes who wrote the Bible weren't misogynists and got it right when shielas were specifically banned from running the show. She is 51 years of age, but looks quite a bit older. Are Bishops allowed to fib about their age?
I have turned into an eBay nut. Too many bargains to be had there. I blame it on Paul, a friend who seems to have bidders twitch. Just recently I have bought a remote for my Nikon D70 camera, an LCD protector for the camera, a chip re-setter to enable me to refill printer cartridges and I have two more items en-route from somewhere out there....a 512MB memory stick for brother's Mac and an in-line ADSL2+ filter again for Bro. All these items are at just a fraction of the same stuff purchased locally.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Gordon Ramsay et al

The Pommy chef, Gordon Ramsay is soon to land in Aus. Already there are restaurants lining up for his critical assessment. I am unsure why any restaurant would let him in the front door. It seems that most of them get a real caning from Gordon. He has a un-gentle manner with his critique peppered with expletives of the F word kind. Viewers seem to like people who use profanity on TV or the stage. Billy Connelly is adored by fans who lap up his naughty words.

Personally, I reckon people who watch such shows are just waiting to hear the F word. If I used it on the train I would be told to shut up. Bill Cosby managed to be very funny without resorting to profanity. There are still comedians who can do a great job without swearing...Garrison Keillor for one.

Avid motor sport fans watch the race in the hope of seeing a monster crash. Footy fans love the biffo of the game. I guess Ramsay's fans get the same sort of thing from him.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Another name and shame book

Cherie Blair's soon to be released memoirs is set to stir a few folks up. There were extracts from the book in Sunday's rag. There will be many more extracts leaked as the sales get into gear. I don't know why one would buy the book as the most interesting parts will be released as teasers.

Interestingly there was one paragraph where Cherie tells us that son Leo was conceived on a cold night at Balmoral Castle at a time when she forgot to pack her 'contraceptive equipment'. I wonder what sort of 'contraceptive equipment' a good Catholic girl would pack? I'm guessing it would have been a calendar and a thermometer. It is a pity that the Pope doesn't endorse the use of condoms in places like Africa and Papua New Guinea where AIDS is rife.

Joan had a weekend retreat in Perth along with 126 other gals who are members of Southern Cross Quilters. This is an Internet quilting group which has been going since 1994. She joined in 1995. With 2 days by myself I was going to get in the dancing girls - but I've forgotten the phone number.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

good news

Bro-in-law Mike had his deep brain stimulation electrodes activated yesterday. The initial voltage is very low and in three weeks he will get an increase...steady as she goes. Both Mike and Dorothy believe it has already made a difference to his violent dyskinesia. Bodes well for the successive increases in voltage over the coming weeks.

Our visitors from the eastern seaboard have gone home. I drove them to the airport yesterday. They had a successful trip here, making contact with mining companies and quality printers. They have appointed an agent here and now hope that the orders roll in.

It is said that fish and visitors go off after three days. Not so with Dick and Pam. Great stories and lots of laughs. I introduced them to Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby, a NZ TV show.Link Hilarious! It can be seen on ABC2 Thursday nights at 10pm. It is about a NZ high school, its Headmaster and Staff and the rough class of 5F. Here is a Gormsby review.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Oomies and Bogans

This afternoon on ABC radio there was a segment about strange and humorous place names. A bloke called in saying the he would rather be Innaloo than Upper Swan. That doesn’t mean much to people outside of Western Australia. Australian states don’t really have different accents, although Queenslanders don’t speak that fast and tend to mention ‘The Man From Snowy River’ between beers. It is difficult for anyone to determine where one comes from by accent, however some states use different words for things and pronounce some words differently. ‘Bathers’ in W.A. are ‘Cossies’ in the east. In W.A. a port (portmanteau) is a suitcase and so on. For the word Castle, New South Welshmen say ‘Cassel’ whilst we here say “Carsel’ More on regional Aussie words here.

Our visiting friends didn’t really know what I meant when I called a bloke a ‘Bogan’. Where they live in Woy Woy NSW, they are called “Oomies’. Bogans and Oomies are one and the same. They both wear checked shirts, mullets and tattoos. Their three year old sons also have mullets. I’m not sure how the term Bogan came about, but Oomies are so-named because when a cop tells them to get out of their Valiant, they reply..”Oomie?’

Brother-in-Law Mike is to have his brain implant turned on this Thursday.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Visitors from the East

Our friends Dick and Pam arrived from Sydney Town and settled in at our place. We took them to daughter Helen's new beachside residence for a viewing of the sun setting in the west and a few drinks and a nice meal. This morning they are collecting their rent-a-bomb at $20 per day and starting out visiting large printing companies with a view to making arrangements to have quality printing done when the W.A. branch of their business gets going. It seems that printers in W.A. have the big time gear, but lack the work of printers in the eastern seaboard and so offer more competitive rates.

Brother-in-law Mike sent a bulk email to people who have supported him throughout his Parkinson's journey. He included two scan shots of his head showing the electrodes and wiring in his skull and brain. He has to wait another 2-3 weeks until the brain swelling has subsided before they turn on the power. I don't pray, but sincerely hope he will reap some benefit and relief from the dyskinesia he now suffers from.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Blood Bank

After the visit from our 'Back Fence' neighbors Leon and Kay, I got right into the Bougainvillea and cut both of them out. The previous owner of our house had erected some cyclone mesh fencing to support the BV. Wrong! It took hours to cut it out of the mesh and I shed a few ml. of blood. I dragged it all to our trailer and put boots on to squash it down; then off to the tip..... leaving my gloves behind. Bugger! A few more cuts and pricks from those nasty spikes dragging that solid heap of nastiness out of the trailer.

Leon and Kay were impressed though and dropped off a nice bottle of red and a handmade thank you card to thank us for being good neighbors.

Yesterday Joan and I gave blood. I hadn't donated for three years. I was a regular donor until I contracted prostate cancer and the Blood Bank didn't want my blood for the five years after my Radical Prostatectomy and I was clear of all PSA. They have pencilled us in for monthly donations. Joan has made 57 donations in all. Her blood is worth bottling!

Tomorrow we have friends visiting from N.S.W. We first met Dick and Pam in Papua when we were teaching at Popondetta. In the last 33 years we have seen them three times. They run a very successful publishing company specialising in company and government reports. They are establishing a branch in Perth to try and cash in on the mineral boom here in the West. They are here for a week and I guess they will be very busy every day recruiting staff, securing office space and drumming up some business. There may be some liquid evenings.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Yesterday evening we had a visit from our rear neighbors. We have not met them before. I don't think we have even heard them before. It looked a bit ominous when they announced themselves as our 'back fence' neighbors, but it turned out that they were here to ask us if we would mind cutting down a rampant Bougainvillea which grows at a great rate over our adjoining fence into their place. No problems on my part. I hate 'em! I started hacking at it this morning and should have it on the trailer by this afternoon. Bougainvillea flowers look nice, but the thorns and octopus tendrils which snake out and wind their way into our lemon tree give me the N0.2s.

The husband, Leon, had been the Liberal Party Member for the seat of Albany for 19 years and whilst very pleasant seemed like he was capable of rolling out the big guns had we not agreed to cut back the BV.

I asked him if he had known Homer White in Albany. Of course he did, as did almost every resident of Albany. Homer was a leading light in the town's museum. Homer was in the U.S. Navy stationed at the Fremantle Submarine base during WW2. He was billeted in the same house as my parents when I was just a whippersnapper. After the war he returned to Fremantle to marry his local sweetheart, then moved to Darwin where he ran a jewellery shop and after many years settled in Albany. He passed away a few years ago.

Got a full day today. There is the BV to remove, bottling a ginger beer brew and visiting a friend, John, in care. Another mate is joining me to see John and we will take a couple of bottles of beer and sit with him in the garden for a couple of hours.

Martin report: He seems to be in good spirits and active.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Better times ahead?

This morning I went to the tip (landfill site). Earlier I picked up a huge old TV from our son Martin’s place and that joined about eight printers and five computer monitors in a futile attempt at making methane gas. I am amazed at how much non-fermentable gear is amongst the landfill.

I am embarrassed at having to dump such stuff, but as I have said before, it is almost impossible to find a business which separates plastic from metal etc. It just isn’t cost effective at this stage.

Whilst unloading my trailer another car pulled up along side mine and a boy about 5 years of age got out and said loudly..’I like the smell of fresh air!’ Wonder where he lives?

Martin is a changed man. Clean, well dressed, shaved and the unit is looking good. He claims that he is a new man. We hope so. I don’t think he is yet able to resume work.
We do not want to buy him another car yet as he will be costing us petrol and associated costs. We have bought almost every car he has owned and all of them ended up wrecked or sold off in poor condition. Transport is a problem if he gets a job closer to the city. His (our) unit is in a southern suburb, Orelia. We bought there because of value for money. The down side is getting to work on public transport is a bit difficult. At the moment he is on the dole and has a Commonwealth Health Care card which gives him his pharmaceuticals and transport at heavily discounted rates. That is something that stops as soon as he is employed

Friday, May 2, 2008


Martin is out of hospital. They have not found anything amiss despite a huge battery of tests. There is a remarkable difference in his condition between Tuesday and today. Tuesday he was really ill; breathless, unable to walk, coughing blood, chest pains, swelling in his legs and abdomen. Today he feels on top of the world - no pain, no coughing, no swelling. I took him home to his unit - he is really looking forward to a good night's sleep in his own bed. He has been told that if the symptoms recur he must go at once to emergency. I hope he has been frightened enough by this episode that he will.

Before he was discharged and I picked him up, I went to a funeral. I didn't know Mary, though I remember meeting her once - I went to show respect because she was my friend's mother-in-law. If funerals can ever be said to be enjoyable, this was one. Mary was 94 when she died. She had had breast cancer 60 years ago when she was in her early thirties. The only treatment then was mastectomy. She survived that, married, had a son and eventually three grand children, then the cancer came back early this year. This time she didn't fight it.

The funeral was a celebration and documentation of her life. Her father was a farmer who kept a journal. Bruce (her son) read some entries from 1913. They were quite ordinary: "picked stumps in the 500 (acre) paddock, bunged up hand". There were a couple more entries that mentioned his sore hand in passing, along with details of going to town (Kojonup) and then one entry with nothing else but: "Mary Dunlop arrived today at 4am". There were photographs (not on a big screen as seems most usual these days) of Mary at various points in her life and stories of her life as a farmer's wife and as a suburban widow. Nothing outstanding, but her family, especially the sub-teen grandchildren, spoke eloquently of her influence on them.

There was no weeping. Mary lived an ordinary life, but a life that her family will remember. As a stranger I appreciated it too.