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 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


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 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

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.