Monday, June 30, 2008

Troubles of the heart

A good friend, Brian rang a few days ago to tell me that he was going to have a stent inserted in a blood vessel due to a constriction. I rang him yesterday to find out how it went. It seems that the specialist had second thoughts and has scheduled him for a bypass operation to clear three restricted blood vessels. Brian is a healthy, very fit, athletic bloke. I wouldn't have picked him as a candidate for a bypass op! He is a bit apprehensive of course, but this operation, although rather complex is pretty well commonplace with a very good prognosis.

I have a distant cousin who had a triple bypass about six months ago. In convalescence he caught a cold and had to have a soft pillow handy to hold up to his chest when he coughed. Cuz didn't think it was too flash at all!

If you think you might like to get a stent, check out the market here.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Wartime refugees in Fremantle

In 1942 Fremantle Harbour became a port of refuge to five Chinese vessels after the fall of Hong Kong to the Japanese. These five ships were crewed by Chinese, but had European officers, mainly British. In all there were about 500 Chinese crew and refugees.

Unrest among the crews occurred . They were demanding increased pay rates and and refusing to work. They threatened violence to the master of the Chungking. The ship's master along with the other masters reported the problem to the naval authorities suggesting that the crews be removed until they agreed to work and obey commands.

About 300 Australian troops armed with rifles and fixed bayonets were ordered to remove the crews and truck them to Woodmans Point Detention Centre. As troops boarded the Chungking about 50-60 Chinese crew attacked the soldiers attempting to take their weapons. Six shots were fired; four Chinese were shot and two of them died. A soldier was wounded by a ricochet bullet.

The 'trouble makers' were separated and taken to detention. The rest of the crews quietened down after the rifle shots.
Photograph: Saxon Fogarty. U.S. submarines in Fremantle Harbour WW2

Research on this event was done by Mr Peter Skehan.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

retirement's a cruise, right?

When our daughter Helen leased out her unit we thought that all the work I did there repairing and sprucing it up would be the end of it....wrong!

She had a call from the managing agent to say that the tenant wanted a few things fixed and Mr fixit Kev volunteered to do the job.

I loaded the car up with all the gear I thought I needed and headed off at the arranged time. I was given a mobile number to ring if anything else was in need of fixing. That mobile number was to the woman's husband on a mine site somewhere up north. The reason I was given his number was that his wife of about 18 years (of age) cannot speak any English.

I replaced tap washers in a shower recess, replaced a toilet cistern valve and replaced a security light at the rear of the unit. At that stage she had called her husband and she passed the phone over to me. He wanted me to replace a toilet/ laundry door lock as it wasn't locking. I suggested that as there were only two bedrooms and no other occupants that it probably wasn't necessary. Our Indian friend demanded a new door set. He also advised me that the light switch in the main bedroom was a bit dodgy. I went to Bunnings close by, bought a switch and changed the light switch. Unfortunately I installed it so that the on position was reversed. This is not a biggy as in rooms with two switches one is inverted anyway. The wife still motioned that she wanted it fixed and that was reinforced by another call from the husband on the company phone. Phone calls must cost mining companies thousands of dollars.

I went home a little frazzled, but satisfied, until I received a call from the agent saying that the toilet was leaking still. This toilet is a single flush oldie and the only way to solve the problem was to buy a new cistern and install it, which I did today. Whilst I was in the midst of a dunny repair my nemesis from minesite somewhere rang to remind me about the locking 'privacy' door on the toilet/laundry. Shit!!! For once the installation of the new cistern went well and I bolted before Sanjay, or whatever his name is, gave me more tasks. I'll go back on Monday to do the door lock job and repaint around the cistern which is smaller that the old one.

We purchased a small car for our son today. I think that will be number 8. Nuff said!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

internet hoaxes and chain letters

I have just received, along with 18 others, a well meaning warning about a most virulent virus circulating throughout the world which if opened will immediately destroy your computer hard drive. I have seen it before and even if it were true it wouldn't worry our Macs. It is, as usual, a hoax. See...

Snopes is a web page which debunks all those stories and urban myths out there in cyber space. I am unsure why people don't bookmark Snopes and refer to it before passing on those bits of BS to all and sundry. This one, like lots of others came from a relative, so it is not easy to tell them that they are being silly. This relly also sends me quite a few of the 'Pass this on to 12 friends within 4 days and get a wonderful surprise' chain letters. I can wear them, but not the implied warning that bad luck will befall me if I don't.

Today I also went and looked at a cheap car for our son. I need to drive it before making an offer to buy. I was unable to drive it because another car had blocked it in and the owner was not at home. Tomorrow maybe.

Martin went to look at a job on Sunday. He was told it was forklift driving and delivery of goods. It turned out that there was heavy lifting involved and his back problem (ankylosing spondilitis) would not allow him to do the required work. A cheap reliable car will give him more options...we hope.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Helen has moved!

Helen, our daughter has moved into her new unit. The rent is $520 per week and she is sharing with another couple who work on mine sites up North of the state. We had a few hours of packing and transporting 'smalls' from their old Cottesloe beach unit. Glad that is over.

The co-tenants, Dave and Marcia, have been living at Cottesloe for the last ten years and have collected heaps of junk some of which I helped transport to the new unit. Most of it was trashy stuff especially for a classy unit in South Perth, but Kev thought it better that I say nothing at this stressful time. Is there anything more stressful than having to move over two days?

This morning I successfully set up a computer for Clint, a profoundly disabled 43 year old bloke. He loves footy and does his footy tipping by email. I will leave a browser, Firefox of course, and his email programme, Eudora, on the desktop and hide everything else away so that he can't get into the system and foul things up. He also likes looking at a few girlie sites.....don't blame the poor bugger!

Our son Martin went to check out a job today....fork lift and delivery driver. It is only for two weeks as the regular man damaged his foot by dropping a pallet of goods on it. Even thinking about that grabs my testicles. He has the use of a Falcon 4 litre auto car with bad brakes and that will use up most of his pay just getting to and fro from work. We have decided that if he is to get work we should buy him yet another car which will run on the smell of an oily rag. I checked out the car market today and most of the small cars have been sold at first light. Plenty of V8s out there. The car yards are full of them. I remember the oil 'crisis' in the late 70s when people were setting fire to their V8s.

We have purchased all but one of Martin's cars and all have been sold off for peanuts.

When we get down about our son we tend to hope that things will ( and they could), get better. At least our son, and us, don't have as many problems as Clint and his parents.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


The gas/fuel crisis here is almost wartime-like. The Premier, Alan Carpenter, did a 'fireside' chat ala FDR to plead with householders to cut back on energy use. It is starting to seem like the gas pipeline which burst was in poor condition with heavy corrosion. It has also been 'leaked' by someone that government inspectors hadn't been able to inspect it regularly because of staff shortages. This facility on isolated Varanus Island has been in operation for more than 20 years.

The state has had to dip into the RAN's reserves of diesel fuel on Garden Island and a bit of commercial piracy is grabbing parts of diesel shipments to other states. The premier is talking in terms of up to six months to get things back on track and many businesses (employers) are looking at temporary closure. I bet the wood-fired tile fires are going to make a comeback.

I could sure do with a nice big heater this morning.

Daughter Helen has done her kindergarten reports for her two groups. The reports are quite interesting and part of an anonymous report can be viewed here.

Times have changed. Kindy kids are being taught things. It is no longer wiping noses and rest times.

Petrol prices are still rising despite the Saudis increasing production. Here is my fuel gauge.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Full circle

The gas 'crisis' in Western Australia is starting to bite. This morning's Sunday Times newspaper has a headline of 'Leave or be Axed'. That is not quite what it sounds like. In the sub-heading it goes on to say that workers are being urged to take leave to avoid being sacked. The Sunday Times really is a rag.

Never-the-less the recent gas pipe explosion on Varanus Island has cut our supplies by 30% affecting all sorts of industries. Home owners are being urged to conserve gas/power by taking short showers and rugging up to avoid using heaters. It will be about three months before the pipeline can be recommissioned and the state government is recommissioning two coal fired power stations with a run-up time of about six weeks. In the past we have been urged to do away with polluting wood burning tile fires in our houses and go gas. I bet there a quite a few houses with such fires all snug as a bug in a rug now. I wonder how people in the northern hemisphere are going to exist when oil starts to run out? Not a lot of winter sun for solar panels up there!

The other full circle thing I thought about yesterday was the old Volkswagen beetle. When we owned one in the 60s, some owners were a little ashamed of its exhaust note and many had exhaust systems manufactured to give their VW a regular engine sound. Today the Subaru WRX has a hotted up VW engine and owners want the old VW sound. I'm guessing that flares will make a return soon.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

We have some good news

Helen, our daughter has been in a 'tizzie' of late. She says she is depressed about a number of things especially her failure to secure a dwelling to move to after getting the eviction notice from her beachside unit. There have been tears shed. Methinks there is a little more to it than accommodation......... Boyfriend!

She is feeling a little fragile about being 38 years of age and not having a stable relationship, marriage and kids. Her boyfriend is a bit of a #$$@ and only turns up when he wants a bit of company.

Anyway, this morning Helen rang us and told us that she was frazzled by the House-hunt thing and asked if I could do a search for her. 'Of course, of course'. I looked at one two-story townhouse and Joan went with me to look at the exterior of another townhouse. We rang her and left a message on her phone saying she should visit us after work and we would show her the two town houses we had sussed out. She turned up quite negatively and had all the external appearance of someone about to slash the wrists. When we were driving to look at the first townhouse, she received a phone call from the agent handling one of the units she missed out on before and got the news that she had been successful and could now have the unit. I don't think that Helen and Mum and Dad have had such good news in a long time.

We think that all is well in accommodation land. Next comes the move.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Martin phoned yesterday. He was going to come today to make some job applications because he doesn't have the internet. Fine. We rearranged our calendars (yep, retirees still need one) so that one of us would be home all day. He didn't come and we didn't get a phone call to explain why.

Helen phoned this evening. She wasn't successful in renting the unit she looked at last weekend and was feeling really frazzled. She feels overwhelmed with the responsibility of finding a place that will be acceptable to her flatmate and her flatmate's partner without their input (they work on a mine site and only get back every three weeks or so). Her flatmate is due back early next week and is going to do some searching while she is here. Helen now plans to take a week or so off from house hunting to concentrate on the student reports she has to write.

We would like some good news.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Living with Lewy Body

I have just read most of a blog written by a woman describing the last 5 months of caring for her father's last stages of Lewy Body Disease. It could be a textbook for other carers. She refers to her father and the disease as 'Lewy'. It is a story of care and love and in the earlier stages, some humour. It can be seen here.

Our friend John has Lewy Body Disease and he has/is displaying the same symptoms as those written about by Pauline. Last week John lapsed into academic mode and grabbed a bundle of notes from a visitor to the nursing home. It seems that the visitor goes daily to feed and visit his wife who has had a major stroke. While he was feeding his wife it seems that John casually walked in to her room and grabbed six months' worth of study notes and vanished down a hallway, probably to mark them as a university lecturer. The man is still very angry and the notes have not been found. When Joy, John's wife, searched his room trying to find the missing notes she found some other papers belonging to the front desk.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


- an expensive lesson in reading the small print.

Kevin saw a competition on TV about a month ago. You could win an iPod by answering simple questions by text message on your mobile. Because he doesn't know how to text on his phone I got the job. I sent off the message on my phone to a number and thought nothing more of it.

After about 4 messages there was one that said each response would now cost $5. Blow that, I thought, and promptly deleted every new message.

Friday I got a warning from Telstra (I have a prepaid plan) that my credit was now less than $10. Saturday I went to call Helen and was told I didn't have enough credit to make the call. What the ?????

When I went to recharge I heard the option of checking the last five calls. I did so and found that there were 2 data calls. Data calls? What are they? I don't have internet connection on the phone. I checked the inbox and there were 2 messages from the number. The data calls must be those but why had they caused my credit to drop so quickly?

Anyway I recharged the phone then did some searching on the internet. I was able to download my last month's history. This is part of it:
0:00:30 Voice Main Balance 0.45 0.5
0:00:30 Diversion Main Balance 0.05 0.06

0:02:00 Voice Main Balance 1.28 1.41

500 cents Premium SMS Main Balance 4.55 5

500 cents Premium SMS Main Balance 4.55 5

500 cents Premium SMS Main Balance 4.55 5

So for the "privilege" of receiving messages that I promptly deleted I was paying $5 a pop? And I had done this 10 times in the last month according to the statement. What was a Premium SMS anyway? On the Telstra web site I found the FAQ which explained that it was probably a ringtone download and how to unsubscribe and promptly did just that.

But I was really angry. We had thought we were entering a competition. There was no fine print that we could read on the TV screen and definitely no voice over warning.

Kevin did some googling and found the "competition" website. There is some small print - very small print- there.

So because we didn't see that we were downloading a ringtone with every message we are $55 out of pocket and could have been more if I had recharged without checking. A very tricky little scam.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Pricing madness

Sometimes the price of things just astounds me. I recently bought a Hewlett Packard multi-function printer, scanner and copier for $28.00.

Then today I went to a store to buy two plastic cutlery baskets for our dishwasher. I ended up walking out of the store as they were priced at $46.65 each+GST. These baskets seem to last only a few years and one would think that they could be knocked out in the People's Republic Plastic Factory #3500 for a few cents each. I had a close look at them and they don't seem to have any moving parts, electronic circuitry or flashing lights like the printer.

I have been thinking of getting our Sonata converted to gas and so today went to a workshop near us here to get the price. The Federal Government and the State Government both subsidise the conversion to the tune of $3,000 but that still leaves $1200 extra to find. Gas conversion results in less power and more consumption and I will have to do my sums to see if the whole idea is really good economy as the demand is high and the conversion could not be done until late September and the price of gas will probably leap along with petrol. Pessimist Kev!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

I'm not losing it yet!

Well, after three trips up to Cloverdale to try and get an internet connection set-up for a colleague's disabled son I have just heard that the father called Telecom out to see what the problem was and they determined it was interference from the security system.

I noticed that there was a security system and asked if there was a filter in the line and Paul told me that the system was not yet activated.

It seems that it was up and running and the cameras were probably recording a couple of silly buggers making multiple unsuccessful attempts to connect to the net. Paul will get the security firm back to do their job and call me to set up his mail program and secure the Mac so that his son cannot get into the system and trash anything.

The reason they have a security system is that Paul, Clint's step father, wants to monitor Clint and his carers from their own computer at home.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Contractual obligations

Today I went to John's nursing home to visit him and give him a haircut. On his 70th birthday I gave him a homemade voucher offering a lifetime of haircuts and computer support. Not much to do on the computer for his wife Joy, but the hair still keeps growing. It is always rewarding cutting John's hair as it seems to transform him when his hair is close-cropped and his eyebrows and ears are clipped. He actually seems brighter.

When I arrived, John was near the front door talking to the receptionist at the front desk. I didn't really hear what he was saying to her, but it was along the lines of a command. Most of the time John believes he is still at his workplace, Edith Cowan University. I can see how he must perceive the rabbit warren of rooms and nurses stations to be like the offices of his old workplace.

We were shown a small room which is used by an itinerant hairdresser to cut and style patients' hair. The hair cutting distracted maybe a dozen 'inmates' who were nearby watching television. John has developed a bad case of dandruff and I will suggest to Joy that he needs some dandruff shampoo and a bit more attention in his toiletry by his carers.

He now perceives that this is his home (and workplace) and so Joy can take him out and return him without too much drama most times. They usually drive to a riverside cafe and have a coffee and something to eat. This is a very sad situation for John and Joy. There are times when John seems to be aware of his situation and gets a bit weepy. Me too!

After the haircut we had a long talk covering many topics and to a casual observer it would seem a normal conversation. Today he told me that he could not easily connect his thoughts to his mouth.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Still house hunting

Daughter Helen is getting desperate to find a suitable unit to live in after getting an eviction notice at her current place on Cottesloe Beach. Today she asked us to go with her to view a unit with sweeping river and harbour views. Great place on three levels with almost all rooms with a view. She is filling out the application form tonight as no doubt the other four people will be.

The unit was occupied by four single blokes of around 25 years of age. One of them was cleaning up when we inspected the place. There was ample evidence of parties and booze-ups. Exhaust fans greased up and the floor sticky from spilled beer. We hope she wins it and can move in as soon as it is cleaned up.

I am still having problems setting up an ADSL connection for a colleague's disabled son.The modem is trying to talk to the ISP but as they say...the lights are on, but nobody's home. We, a friend and I, believe that telecom has not yet switched us on at the exchange. The ISP says we are connected, but we have tried two different modems without success. I am waiting for a phone call from the disabled man's father saying that a connection has been established. At 68 I am getting a little old for such problems.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Adventures with Fungi

On our walk around Manning Lake this morning we were delighted to find that recent rain has filled it. Even the edges are waterlogged.

We also found some intriguing fungi. Most were growing under and around the 100 year old Rottnest pines, but there were scattered colonies in full sun in the middle of lawns.

The colours were very strong so Joan thought they might be able to be used for dyeing. We collected a plastic bag half full and when we got home she broke them up and boiled them.

The results today were disappointing, but she is going to try again tomorrow.