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


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!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Fathers' Day

We were invited to lunch and drinks at Helen's place for Fathers' Day. It was a very pleasant day with a very practical Dads' Day present (selected by me).

Helen had made a large jug of Sangria and it wasn't until evening that I realised that it was loaded with alcohol. Joan drove home. The meal and nibbles were great. Cheeses, dips, bikkies, berries etc etc followed by the main of very tender Oso Bucco. Yum!

Helen's unit is on the South Perth foreshore. It is modern and secure with lovely gardens, a large pool, spa, gym and recreational area. Three spacious bedroom with two en suite bathrooms and a storage unit. If it had a workshop I could happily live there.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Quiz night

Last night we were roped into attending a quiz night. I haven't been to one of these for about twenty years and we really enjoyed the whole thing. They were really very popular back then. I recall 'professional' groups of people cleaning up the prizes much to the chagrin of the regulars.

Last night's quiz was a fund raiser for an Anglican Church and had 18 tables of six people. The group who won on the night looked like blow-ins, but they did have a tenuous connection to one of the parishioners. We know this because one of the ladies at our table went and congratulated them and asked them a few probing questions to determine if they were in fact Pros.

Rounds of the quiz were punctuated by other fun games for small prizes. One such side competition was a cryptic quiz and I have reproduced it here with only one clue solved for you.
Click on the image to enlarge.
If you wish to print this quiz out, drag the enlarged image to your desktop and print from there.

There were two Biblical questions and the church Minister, a Vicar of Dibley type lady got both wrong. Shame!

Posted by Kev on Joan's account.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sunbeam Motorcycle

As a young fella I was into motorcycles from the age of 17. My first bike, paid for by my father, was a Matchless 500cc which broke down on the way home from the dealer. That dealer was an ex-cop who was a bit dodgy when he was in the force. As I recall, when he was at Fremantle Traffic Office, he gave out Driver’/Riders’ licences (sans test) for a fee of 10/-.

Anyway when I wheeled the Matchless back to the bike shop he told me to bugger off.

I had a couple more bikes after that, an Ariel twin and a BSA Bantam. Later in Papua New Guinea I had a couple more bikes.

When I was around 19, my uncle, who was Police Prosecutor at Fremantle Courts, decided to sell his motorcycle, a Sunbeam. The Sunbeam was a beautiful piece of machinery and I wanted it. Unfortunately Unc wouldn’t sell it to me. I was never sure why...maybe it was that he thought I couldn’t pay for it or that it may have some fault that would give me trouble later or the most likely reason that my parents asked him not to sell it to me.

The Sunbeam was built by BSA and had a two cylinder in-line engine. A couple of other bikes still have a similar engine, BMW and Moto Guzzi. Both these engines are noisier and somewhat ‘rougher’ than the Sunbeam. One slight ‘problem’ that these three bikes have is right thrusting torque effect when revving the engine at the lights. If the rider missed a gear at high revs the bike could ostensibly tip over to the right. Never actually heard of this happening though.

Here’s a pic of a Sunbeam. Note the shaft drive. I have trolled the net and there are very few for sale anywhere. Pity.
Sunbeam S7- 1951

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Phone scam

On the 8th of June we wrote about a scam on Channel 9 which featured an advert with a simple competition to win an iPod. It ended up costing us $55. before we realised what was happening.

On my computer desktop today another ad appeared offering a $50. phonecard if I could correctly answer the following question....

Which Australian public TV network is spelled with letters instead of numbers?
The three alternatives offered were.... Channel 9, ABC or Channel 7. No brainer there!

See the ad. here. After reading the 'Terms and Conditions' I can see how they raid your wallet.

Please don't attempt to win a phone card from this site. The ongoing costs could be enormous.