Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The first (long) day of chemo

Yesterday was a long day for Joan. Fortunately she sent me home to wait for her phone call.

We arrived at St John's at 8.20am and she finished up at 4.20pm. The infusion goes like this....Oxalplatin and Leucovorin (3 hours) Avastin (1.5 hours) and home with the pump for 46 hours of Flourocil. The Avastin prevents the growth of tumour blood vessels so they can't grow or spread. We go back to the hospital on Thursday to remove the pump and change the PICC dressing and see the Oncologist. A week later Joan has to have the PICC line flushed and then a few days off until it starts again.

Our son Martin gives a lot of thought to selecting presents. This Christmas even though he is rather depressed, he gave us great presents. To me, he gave this lovely book of reminiscences of growing up in Fremantle. Most of the characters in the book are well known and although they were some 15 years older than me they were still around and legend when I was a young fellow. Fremantle doesn't seem to have character it had back then. I doubt if any of the characters of the last 20 years will be remembered like Sand-shoe Willy or Shiner Ryan etc etc.

In pre-war times Fremantle was a bit rough and it was said that to mention that you lived in Fremantle wasn't the thing to do in polite society. During the war we lived in Fremantle in several rental properties, but in 1947 Dad finished building our house in Bicton and we shifted out there around 6 Kilometres from Freo. During the war years, accommodation in Fremantle was scarce and 'key money' was a way landlords cashed in on the shortage.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Kindness of Strangers

This TV program screened today on ABC1 was not made for the peasants.

Giving without expectations and altruism real or not was the theme (I think?).

It was set post-tsunami and looked at some individuals who volunteered to help the victims. Their work was the backdrop to a discussion by some very smart individuals on altruism and the place of altruism in evolution.

One argument was that altruism would not fit true evolution where survival of the fittest would be the norm.

I normally feel good about refurbishing computers and giving them to needy people, but it was suggested that that feeling of being altruistic might well be aimed at getting a ticket to heaven. Indeed one of the volunteers is a Hungarian(?) fellow who said that when he was engaged in these works his heart felt good. He also mentioned Angels!

It made me do a little rethink of the direction I should be heading with my project. 'Giving without expectations' will be my motto from now on.

It was a complex and most interesting program covering many aspects of giving. I will watch the re-run on ABC1 this coming Tuesday 30th at 12.30pm Western Australian time and try and learn more.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Day at the Locks

Xmas Day went very well. 15 guests including rellies and partners.

Brother Graham has just quit his job at a seafood wholesaler and his bonus included lots of fresh seafood for Chrissie day. Joan baked a turkey and made a wonderful Frozen Christmas Pudding using a pudding with ice cream mixed through with cherries, almond slivers and choc bits. Re-frozen it was a great finish to the meal. Others brought salads, fresh fruit and a lovely ham. Just the stuff for 35c temperature. And everyone seemed pretty happy with their pressies.

Joan starts Chemo on Tuesday morning. An early start to get the PICC inserted and then an anti- nausea drug and two hours of chemo and we bring another 46 hours of chemo home in a pump, then back to the hospital the day after to return the pump and have the PICC flushed out. The PICC also needs a weekly flush out in the 11 days leading up to the next round. I can see lots of waiting in treatment rooms over the next six months.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Yesterday Joan received a call from the oncologist saying that he has received a waiver to allow her onto the the SIRT trial. The SIRT trial is a random trial of injecting small radioactive particles into the bloodstream of the liver at the same time as the initial chemotherapy....sort of a double whammy!

Of the selected group half will get the dual treatment and half just the chemo. We leapt through all the hoops this morning and we agreed to participate in the test. Unfortunately later this afternoon we were advised that Joan was 'randomised' and she will not get the dual treatment, just the FOLFOX6m Chemotherapy. I guess they pull names out of a hat?

We are not too concerned because she will get the SIRT as a last resort in the treatment regime.

The oncologist has put forward the start of Chemo to Tuesday morning. It involves waiting, a blood test and then 30 minutes of an anti-nausea drug, then two hours chemo infusion and off home with a pump which slowly feeds in the rest of the dose over 46 hours and then back to the hospital to remove the pump and flush out the PICC (Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter). This is repeated every two weeks for six months. Evaluation is made through scans and blood markers.

Another bit of bad news today was the discovery of blood clots in her lungs. I have been shown the correct method of injecting a drug into the fatty tissue of the stomach and will be doing it daily for ever.

We have family coming for Christmas and we are having friends around for New Year. Lately we don't last long enough to see the new year in and fade by about 10.30pm.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Waiting, waiting and more waiting

We spent nearly 8 hours at the hospital today, but it was eventually productive.

We arrived at 8am, parked the car in the multistorey carpark, and went for a blood test which was done promptly. We then walked to the radiology clinic (outside the hospital) for a 8.45 appointment. We were early for this so were prepared to wait, but at 8.30 I was ushered into a cubicle, told to put on a gown and left there, sitting on a very hard wooden bench with no reading material. By 9.15 I was a mess. No-one had come near me, I had heard the CT machine operated twice on people who had turned up after me and we had been advised that processing the films and preparing the report would take at least two hours when I had a 10.45 appointment with the oncologist. I was really stressed out.

Finally, they were ready for me and the scan started at 9.40. More problems. I needed to have a dye infusion and they couldn't pump it in - first one arm, then the other and a third attempt on the original arm. Success at the price of an aching arm because I had to hold it up straight while all this was going on. The scan itself took almost no time.

More waiting faced us, but we decided to walk down to Subiaco Square and have a coffee rather than sit in the waiting room. We collected the films at 10.30 and went to the oncologist's rooms. More waiting. At least this time Kevin had something interesting to read - he had spent over an hour waiting for me with only New Idea and Woman's Day available as reading material (he reckons he can now answer any quiz question on Brangelina) - but the oncologist has aviation magazines.

By the time we left his rooms at 11.45 we had received some more bad news (there are some small tumours on my lungs) but had treatment organised for the whole shebang. I am to start chemotherapy on New Year's Eve for the first of 12 fortnightly cycles. We were advised to make an appointment at the chemotherapy suite for an information session. We asked for one today, not wanting to drive all the way back, but could not get one before 2pm. So, yet more waiting. We had lunch at the hospital restaurant - quite nice sushi - then sat outside under shade for an hour and a bit.

When we fronted up we had to wait a bit longer - and fill in another set of forms! The oncologist rang on my mobile - he had got a waiver for me to take part in a clinical trial of a new treatment. This involves radiation as well as chemo. We have another appointment for tomorrow morning at RPH.

The information session took over an hour. A bit of information overload. The really good thing was that they swapped our parking ticket for a fully paid one, so no parking fees today. They would have mounted up, too, at $2 hour.

cancer and chemotherapy

We are back from a consultation with an oncologist. He is a pleasant enough bloke with a good straightforward attitude to the case. I didn't like that much because he didn't soften the blow when it came to possible outcomes. Chemotherapy, he said, gives roughly 40% good results. 30% reasonable results and the rest poor results. Not much joy there!

He wants us back tomorrow very early to have another blood test and a CAT scan of Joan's lungs. I guess by that he is saying that it may have spread to the lungs???

He outlined the treatment which is going to have the best outcome. There are two possibilities. 1. straight Chemotherapy (one day of infusion and two days of carrying a pump to load up with the rest of the dose.) and repeating the whole thing after another 12 days ...for six months, or 2. Getting her on a trial using SIRT + Chemo. This trial is testing an infusion of irradiated material into the liver at the start of the chemo through a catheter in the groin.

Tomorrow early we head up to Wembley for an 8am blood test and then a CAT scan, wait for the results and take them to the oncologist for the final assessment on the treatment options.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Private health cover

Joan's colonoscopy went well and the surgeon told her that the bowel tumour is quite small and not causing any blockage. He is going to leave that tumour so that chemotherapy can start almost immediately. Had he opted for surgery the chemo would have to be delayed for six weeks. Let's get started and the bowel can be done later!

Next is the visit to the oncologist on Monday.

Without private health cover Joan would have had to wait 10 days to see this surgeon. It is a shame that to benefit from years of paying out one has to be seriously sick.

And now something different. A picture of power lines in the street of Ko Samui, Thailand. I reckon there would be a bit of power theft amongst that lot. It looks like my fishing line after a day on the water.

Friday, December 18, 2009


Yesterday Joan reacted badly to the 'Pico Prep' colonoscopy preparation drink and had to go to hospital. We were warned that this might be on the cards. It has never happened to me when I have taken it and I guess that is because I don't (didn't) have a tumor in my bowel.

The specialist had arranged for Joan to go into hospital if she did have a bad reaction to the prep. They hooked her up to a drip and gave her an anti-nausea shot and she was able to keep it down. She rang me earlier this morning feeling comfortable and ready for the colonoscopy at 2.30pm.....very hungry after a diet of 'clear liquids'.

We are getting over the initial shock of the diagnosis. First reaction was that it should have been me with the cancer as my father died of bowel and a secondary liver cancer. That was a long and very traumatic trip over three years. We have been assured that modern chemo is much better that the 1990s stuff. We certainly hope so.

On Monday we talk with the oncologist to plan the chemo strategy.

We have decided to carry on as normal as is possible with life and the blog. I shall report developments as well as, I hope, interesting reading.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Liver Cancer

Yesterday my dear wife Joan was diagnosed with advanced bowel and liver cancer.

It followed a series of tests to find what was causing the ongoing nausea, dizziness and diarrhea. Her GP ordered a CAT scan because a few of the markers for cancer were present and early yesterday morning we had a phone call from the GP for Joan to attend her rooms. I was called soon after to share the bad news.

She had made a plan of attack and had booked us in to see a Colorectal surgeon. Wow, some heavy news with lots of tears! That afternoon we met with the surgeon, who explained the whole thing including the fight would be a chemotherapy one as there was too much of a spread of the liver cancer for surgery. He arranged for Joan to have a colonoscopy on Friday afternoon to determine if the bowel was being blocked by the tumour. If it is, then he would do a resection of the bowel almost immediately.

We are booked in to see an oncologist on Monday to set out the plan of attack. We have been warned that cure is not on the cards, but there is every chance that the modern medicines will give us a few more years together.

Two hard days!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Then and now

Click on the Pics to enlarge them.
This is the house we owned for almost 30 years on Canning Highway, Bicton. It was built in 1897 and we were the second owners.
This is our house circa 1900 with Canning Highway as a dirt road and kids dangerously playing amongst the horse poo on the highway. The hotel in the valley is the Leopold Hotel before it was 'modernised'.
And here it is today. The house is still there in excellent condition behind all the greenery on the right. The Leopold is still trading as a pub and it is one of the reasons we decided to sell up and shift. The kids are long gone.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Diarrhoea or Diarrhea take your pick

Yesterday I rang my contact for the Noongar Aboriginal Centre in Albany. We had previously installed some computers there in the hope of keeping aboriginal youth in touch with the world.

In Albany, there is a lot of absenteeism by aboriginal students at both primary and secondary schools and an alarming number of youth suicides. We asked that the community centre people report back to inform us as to whether the computers are being used and if it is thought that more machines would be useful. I was pleased to hear that they are being used and that they do need plenty more. I arranged to take a trip to Albany in late January with another ten iMacs.

The iMacs I am setting up are not speed machines, but are still working well and screen resolution and sound system is great. Being all-in-one machines they take up a lot less room than 'tower' computers. They were all manufactured in 2000, installed at the University of W.A., then Murdoch University and lastly at the CYO Institute where I collected them for further distribution. All they need is a PRAM battery of which I have ordered 50 from HK.
The only real problem with them is the size of the hard drive. They all have a 6+GB hard drive. The latest iMacs have a 2 Terrabyte disk. It isn't a great problem as I don't think there will be a lot of storage space taken up with documents...more likely is storage of photos.

To ensure that no private data is left on any machine I am doing a 'clean install' of the operating system which wipes all previous data. Games and word processor packages are also loaded.

Joan is again showing the symptoms of Campylobacter jejuni....nausea, dizziness and Diarrhoea.

The GP has ordered more blood and poo tests and the results will be available on Monday. Hope it is nothing serious.

I had a call from 'my' renal specialist saying that the latest urine test showed an increase of protein in the sample. Previously he suggested that my slightly high blood pressure may be causing this extra protein. He prescribed a beta blocker to lower my blood worked! He now thinks that my low blood pressure is doing the same and has taken me off the beta blocker. Can't figure that one out. Another test late next week should shed some light.

Ah, getting's great!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Nigerian scams

After searching on the WWW for the cheapest batteries for the collection of iMacs I am working on I finally decided to buy a 50 Pack of Half AA 3.6v Lithium batteries from China on eBay. Instead of the best Australian price of $10. each these were $2.62 which includes postage from Hong Kong. I have bought quite a bit of stuff from China, both Hong Kong and Mainland China and never had anything but good service and products.

Our daughter has given up selling her iPod Touch on eBay after a scammer spent a fair bit of time working up to a con job. In the end the person who had offered to buy her iTouch told Helen that she had a lot of cash she needed to get out of the country and that Helen was the only person she could trust to help her...for which she thanked God. Typical Nigerian scam! Helen reported it to eBay security and they are investigating what must be one of hundreds of these scams.

And now a bit of science wonder... This page is worth signing up for an email's free.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Many Macs

Just when I thought I would take a break from refurbishing computers I have been given another two lots of Macs. Yesterday Martin, our son, helped me collect 19 iMacs and some PCs along with boxes of cables...remember when they were hard to get?, and lots of bits and pieces most of which are unknown to me. The place we collected them from was the CYO'Connor ERADE Village Foundation. At this stage I am unsure what the Foundation does apart from research. It is associated with Murdoch University. I am to get a copy of their annual report soon so should then know exactly what they research. The 'village' has three two story admin blocks and the computers and other gear, had to be taken one at a time down steep stairs. Good exercise for me.

These machines are working well, but all of them need a new PRAM battery which costs $10. each. The PRAM battery maintains date and time and printer selection. It is not that important, but things do run more smoothly with a good battery. Batteries and fuel are the only costs to me in this project. On Sunday next I am collecting 8 eMacs from a print firm in Perth. Their National IT Manager is a young chap who will have given my project a total of 18 eMacs when I collect them on the weekend.

This eMac was amongst all the iMacs...all it needed was a replacement DVD drive. eMacs are a beautiful piece of design. I tend to open them up for the silliest of reasons..... just to admire the way they are built.
Yesterday I went to a specialist as a follow-up to what was thought to be a kidney problem. The first visit cost around $240 of which Medicare gave us back $127.55. Yesterday's visit cost $160 and Medicare is giving us $149.25 because we have reached a threshold and the benefit was increased to 80%. The specialist is a young Chinese Australian who is going to end up very wealthy. Makes me wonder why a medico would remain a GP rather than specialise. Anyway, the man now thinks that my kidneys are not causing the pain and will have me do a bone scan in the new year. He did ask quite a few questions about the results of my Radical Prostatectomy.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Nigeria scam variant

I will hold off posting more random images for today to tell an interesting eBay story.

Our daughter Helen was given an 8GB iTouch. She wanted a 32GB model and decided to see if she could sell it on eBay. It originally cost A$246 and she advertised it at a 'Buy Now' price of the same amount. She received am offer to buy from a woman in the US, who supplied an email and postal address. Once Helen was to advise her of her PayPal details she would transfer the funds Helen would post the iTouch and deal done.

This morning she received an email from this 'woman' saying that for an extra $150, could she post it directly to her brother in Nigeria as a Xmas present?

Nigeria?? The home of all scams! We will follow this one through to see how the 'buyer' contrives to scam Helen.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Wartime Fremantle photos

I have decided to post what I consider interesting photographs instead of lots of text for a while.
Should you wish to add photos to my blog, please feel free to email them to me at

These first three photos were taken just after WW2 hostilities finished in 1945. They were taken by a Fremantle photographer Saxon Fogarty and are part of a wonderful collection of glass-plate negatives I had the privilege to scan some years ago. All three are taken in Fremantle harbour. First is a British mother ship HMS Adamant and her submarines, a Dutch submarine, the Tjigerhaai (Tigershark) with crew on deck and U.S. navy subs. Fremantle was a very large submarine base during the war.
(click to enlarge)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

70 years and starting on the 71st

My 70th Birthday bash went off very well. Plenty of food and drink and good company. Daughter Helen and her man James did a great job heating and serving food. Another friend Margaret took it upon herself to help out with the food serving. Thanks Marg.
We specifically asked that people didn't bring presents, but I was pleasantly surprised at some of the gifts. Joy gave me a biography by Frank McCourt, 'Teacher Man'. McCourt gained world acclaim with his first book 'Angela's Ashes'. Joy wrote a note saying that I would enjoy Teacher Man because I was a similar teacher to McCourt. It wasn't until I was about a third of the way through the book that I realised that I had had many similar experiences to McCourt.

I taught at a few tough high schools....Kwinana, Rockingham, Cecil Andrews and a short time after my retirement at a doozy...Nth Lake Senior Campus. My 13 years at Willetton Senior High was the highlight of my Australian teaching.....wonderful tone, great kids and staff.

Frank McCourt taught at several New York high schools which sound like they were similar to some of my postings.

When I retired I was urged to do two terms at North Lake Senior College teaching English to Year11 trade boys, all of which were for some reason or other rejects from regular high schools.
Reading Frank McCourt's book reminded me of the earlier encounters with those lads. On the first day, the boys acted up something bad to impress the new teacher.....I finished the day telling the boss that I didn't need the money and certainly didn't need the grief. He talked me into staying on and over a few weeks things improved as I modified my teaching methods to try and get to these lads. We were analyzing the movie, Sureshank Redemption and they had viewed the video about six times already and couldn't think past creating their own words for the gang rape of the main character. I asked them to give me an adjective describing that act. Most didn't know what an adjective was, but when I explained what one was they rattled off dozens of them, lots of which couldn't be written on the blackboard. After looking at the movie again with adjectives in mind we assembled a blackboard of adjectives describing every scene of the movie. Yes you can have too many adjectives, but they did enjoy using plenty of them. They actually liked using adjectives in their speech and ventured into adverbs etc. I imaging some of them did a bit of big timing to their younger siblings and parents.

They also learned a few words which they didn't really know the meaning of, such as institutionalised, describing one of the characters who couldn't live on the outside after spending so many years in prison. Necessity is the mother of invention and teachers have to change their methods to suit the situation or go down in a heap.

I never made close friends with those young blokes, but at the end of the school year I got all of them a pass in English...with a little judicious modification of some results and we parted on good terms.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

70 years of age

Well, today is the day. I was born 70 years ago on November 29th, 1939. I didn't really think I would get to this stage with all my mind in one piece and most of my limbs still active. Yesterday was the 40th birthday of our daughter Helen. Joan made her a wonderful quilt and we delivered it to her at her own backyard party. She loved it. Joan made a label for the back of the quilt and we hope that it lasts long enough to be a curiosity to whoever ends up with it. It is well made and should last a very long time.
I received a great present from Joan and Helen which took me by surprise. I have had a lifetime love of aircraft and our house is in a flight training path of Jandakot Airport. Their present was a one hour training flight in a Royal Aero Club Cessna. Perfect! I did however warn Joan that this could cost a lot more than the initial trial flight. If I get the bug, a private licence and subsequent flying could cost us our superannuation.
Don't think I'll take up the offer of aerobatics though.

Last night we had a family meal with my sister Shirl and my surviving brother Graham at a Chinese, good service and average food. When we returned home I had a 9.15pm phone call from a friend in NSW, Graham Egan. We knew Graham from our time teaching in Papua New Guinea. He rang to tell me that I was already 70 according to his eastern states daylight saving calculations. He also informed me that when I die, my death will occur the day before it does in Western Australia. Should somehow be able to capitalise on that?

Graham, is the ultimate wordsmith and a nice way, a pedant! He kept a daily diary of his time in PNG and last night he read from his diary the entry of February 4th 1970. where he noted the fact that the new Vocational Centre teacher had arrived, one Kevin Lock, and that 5 years previously he had been at Arehava in the Gulf District of Papua. I am pleased to tell that he gave me a good/very good assessment. Graham is a walker.....the length of Great Britain, The Grand Canyon etc etc. We just hire a car! I think he will try a climb of Everest before long.

Further report on today's bash with some photos coming.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Campylobacter jejuni

Joan has just returned from a visit to the GP regarding her illness. The tests carried out show that she has Campylobacter jejuni and the Doc has put her on some very smart antibiotics with the hope that a couple of days should see improvements. If nothing improves by Saturday morning she is to return to her GP. The antibiotic is Roxin ( Norfloxacin) and the GP had to call some government bureaucrat somewhere in Aus to get permission to issue it.

Letters to the Editor in the daily newspaper are certainly showing an unsympathetic side of the average Australian about the refugees heading for safe haven in Australia. Of course what Australia faces is nothing to what Europe faces with literally hundreds of refugees walking across borders daily. A common call from the average letter writer is that Afghan 'queue jumpers' should go back to their own country and fight against the insurgents instead of letting our soldiers do it for them.

Now that we have Sri Lankan Tamils trying to get into Aus, similar calls are made to send them back. Jeez, if in either situation, I would try and get to Australia by any means possible.
A recent bit of biffo at the Christmas Island Detention Centre between Afghans and Sri Lankans spawned a couple of letters suggesting that if the two groups can't get along inside the detention centre, 'we don't want them in Australia'. I would suggest that the strife was probably because the Afghans heard about the preferential treatment the Australian Government was forced into giving the Tamils. See here.

My sister Shirley is heading up to our place from Esperance on the south coast for my 70th birthday bash. She is busing it up arriving at approximately 5pm at Armadale about 20 kilometres from our place. This morning she rang to remind me to collect her at Armadale. Joan told her that she had arranged to come up on Friday not Thursday and Shirl knew that because she had fronted up at the bus station with all her gear only to be told by the driver that she was booked on tomorrow's bus. Red face!

Every time we visit Bali, we buy a few copy watches. Bali doesn't seem to have any treaties with anyone when it comes to fake watches....well they aren't fake watches, just fake names on them and pirated DVDs. For around A$7 or $8.00 you can buy a very close copy of most expensive brands. Today I dropped one of my Rolex Oyster Perpetual watches and all the numbers and minute divisions fell off the face and ended up at the bottom of the face in a heap. I have another five or six watches to choose from so don't need to try a shaky hand glue-back of all the bits. In the bin!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Being 'in Care'

On Sunday I joined my cousin's extended family for a get together at Matilda Bay on the river's edge. Val is the Matriarch of the McComishes and does a good job of it! 19 in all including me. It was a good show as I hadn't caught up with her kids for many years. Kids!? They are all in the vicinity of 50! Some of the grandkids I had never met before. Plenty of tucker and conversation. Joan couldn't make it as she was, and is still, sick with vomiting and Diarrhoea. Let's hope she gets over it for my 70th birthday gathering on Sunday.

Joy, John's wife, spends much of her week visiting John in care. In the time he has been there Joy has made a few observations. One observation caused her to write this moving piece. I have changed the name with Joy's permission.


Rebecca sits in a comfy chair
Her walking frame is near
I wanna go home’ she constantly says,
Not realizing home is now here.

She must have been feisty in earlier days,
And still has the fire in her eyes,
Help me, help me, help me’
Is another one of her cries.

At times she is quiet and offers a smile
Next moment we hear a roar,
I want a cup of tea’ she says,
A hundred times or more.

This tall, proud lady of long ago
Remembers little of life gone by
No doubt an irascible nature was hers,
But so was the beauty and fire

We cannot say, we do not know
If this is us in years to come
What traits of ours will survive our mind
Will it be anger, anxiety or fun

Lets hope it is happiness that rules
A life with few regrets, lived long
Not sadness for the ones we miss
Or lost remembrance for the words of our song

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Johnny Depp

Our son's vinyl flooring went down yesterday. I did contemplate doing it myself, but had a man do it for me. When I inspected the job, I could see that there was no way I could have done such a neat job. Saved myself a bit of swearing as well.

Joan's virus is still taking its toll. Still not able to eat much. She had a test last night....a glass of bubbly and managed to keep it down. She's getting better!

In this morning's paper I see that Johnny Depp has been declared 2009's The Sexiest Man Alive. The title was bestowed by People Magazine whose reps apparently didn't check out our place in Bibra Lake. Being the sexiest man alive is a bit like being the world's fastest runner. That title should in all probability go to some African bloke making a speedy escape from a lion.

Tomorrow we are joining my cousin's family on a picnic lunch in Matilda Bay on the Swan River. It is a big family and I think we are going to be hard pressed to remember all the grandkids' names. Should be good as we haven't caught up with them all for years.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Of poos and employment

Yesterday a childhood friend, a good mate and Kev went to a tavern for lunch. We try and get together several times a year for a lunch with a few laughs and a couple of's a good day. He told me about a five day bout of regurgitation and evacuation he had experienced a week before. By evening, Joan had the same. Today she has been vomiting and suffering with diarrhoea, not feeling like food and therefore greenish bile production at each upchuck. She is still sleeping at this stage and I will let her get as much sleep as she needs before I try and tempt her with some dinner.

I mean; if you are going to chuck up. you need something to chuck.

Today was the day that Martin, our son's unit (it's really our unit) gets new vinyl flooring in two areas. I went down and checked out the floor to make sure he had cleaned it up ready for the floor covering. Just as well I did.
The carpet areas need a steam cleaning and over the weekend I will hire a machine and get him to do his carpets. He doesn't use the nice dining table we bought him and eats on his couch whilst watching TV. Pity he doesn't have some pets to eat the food that falls on the floor.

Daughter Helen rang tonight to tell us that she has a full-time job next year teaching at South Padbury, which is a fair hike from her house, but will probably get her permanency with the W.A. Education Dept. Coincidentally she was looking at the Australian Customs Service website for positions in the Graduate employment intake. Now she doesn't know whether to apply for the Customs' job or not. Her worry is that Canberra is a bit boring for a single 40 year old. It is also very bleak during the winter. I reckon Customs, in the higher echelons, could be a bit of an exciting and glamour job.

I reckon she will stay with teaching as the holidays are pretty damn good.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Beating the System

Every time some person or company produces something 'foolproof' someone comes up with a System Beating getaround.

Computer printers, especially Canon branded printers, were nice to people like me who refilled the print cartridges. Their cartridges didn't have an electronic chip on the cartridge like other brands and I have been happily refilling an old Canon printer for years. It is a bit messy and I always end up with multi-colour fingers for a couple of days after refilling.

Over the last few years, all Canon print cartridges have a 'chip' which makes it a bit difficult to refill.

In my computer refurbishing project I get given lots of different printers. Epson is a brand which has a chip on each cartridge. Fortunately some boffins made a cheap chip resetter for the Epson printers I have in the shed, so I can refill them with cheap ink and reset the chip with the System Beater.

Some pics...
Epson cartridge showing the 'Chip'.
The Chip resetter...
Aligning the setter with the chip...
The red light blinks; it turns green and the cart can be inserted in the printer. doesn't sell this chip resetter.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

70 and contemplating

This morning I visited our friend John in his nursing home. Not sure if he knew me, but he was very animated and he talked at length on dozens of topics which made little sense and lacked continuity. I have long ago learned to agree when it seems appropriate and nod in the right places and respond positively. He enjoyed having me to tell a few stories to.

I took in a couple of 'stubbies' of a beer that in times past, we both used to consume copious amounts together...Emu Bitter, a local brew which has the reputation of tasting like ducks' water. I can report that it didn't taste like ducks' water and we both enjoyed it. It was approaching lunch time when I found John, so I joined his table and assisted with his meal. I had forgotten that he is left-handed. I wondered how it is that some of his functions are almost automatic and not forgotten like so much else. I suppose that it would be quite difficult to eat using his right hand and also he has a lifetime of using his left hand.

Half way through the meal a very dignified lady, entered the dining room holding a plate exclaiming loudly that.. 'someone has stolen the other two plates'. It was a bit Faulty Towers and I never worked out if her plates had actually been stolen, but I do know that John has a penchant for a bit of purloining.

I am soon to turn 70 and as soon as I feel that I am losing my marbles and not enjoying life I will see if I have the courage to top myself. Yesterday I replaced a low voltage downlight in our kitchen. Joan commented on how difficult it will be when I go to get such jobs done. My reply was along the same lines except it was me worrying about how I will manage the finances when Joan goes. I won't go into care!

I have a nice 1892 .44 Winchester which would do the job nice and quickly. Have to do it out in the garden to avoid a mess in the house.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Australian Fromelles Project Group

The Australian Army has a unit called The Australian Fromelles Project Group which is engaged in trying to identify the exhumed remains of WW1 Australian soldiers buried along with British soldiers in a mass grave in Pheasant Wood, Fromelles, France. The dead were buried by German troops. Recently the discovery of German Red Cross records show that 163 men and probably 16 missing Western Australians were buried there.

The Army's Fromelles Project Group recently contacted the families of the missing soldiers and have asked for DNA from families in the hope of identifying the remains and eventually giving them a proper burial. Our friend Wendy has been asked for a DNA sample and the group is forwarding a DNA kit to her. It seems that female DNA is more viable in such cases.

DNA is not going to be conclusive in many cases and the group is also relying on discovered artifacts. One piece of clothing contained a rail ticket for the Perth-Fremantle line.

Wendy's Uncle, Adolf Knable was a 22 year old teacher when he volunteered for service in WW1. He was killed in what has been called 'the most costly and futile conflict ever involving Australian troops'.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A bad feeling about this one.

A few weeks ago I had a request from a Government Welfare Officer for one of my freebie Mac computers for a young single mum with some psychological problems. She is running an online business selling hair adornments on eBay.

I made quite a few attempts to call her and finally talked with her and arranged a time to deliver and set up the computer. Today I delivered it to the place she has moved into in the Perth suburb of Gosnells. Gosnells is certainly not on our list of preferred places to live, but hey, she is not too flush with cash so I guess it is OK for her.

I drove there on the chance that she would be at home as she hasn't been answering her mobile phone. She wasn't home, but the door was answered by a humungous German Shepherd and twenty or so blowflies. The guy who opened the door told me he is a gamer and that seemed to be his principal occupation, collecting benefits and playing online games. The house is quite large and has heaps of clothes and gear on the floor. In the dining room there was a wood turning lathe which was obviously in use as lots of wood shavings were scattered around the table. I confess I didn't ask if they had just shifted in...maybe they were still settling in?

I had to put the computer gear on the floor in her bedroom. There was no desk or table.

Is this going to work? I will contact her Welfare Officer and suggest that if it is all too difficult I could collect the computer gear and give it to someone else.

Of the probably 70 plus machines I have placed, I don't have a good feeling about this one.

When trying to contact her. I have talked a couple of times to her father and mother. I sensed a level of detachment so I am thinking that there has been friction in the family. Sad, but we also know about that.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Where is the sub-editor?

In the last post I wrote about the exhumation and imminent reburial of Catholic clergy in a crypt at St Mary's Cathedral in Perth. The reporter who wrote the story made a bit of a blue when he mentioned descendants of the clergy.

I thought that there would be a few letters to the editor pointing out that Catholic Bishops and Archbishops wouldn't have descendants...but nothing.

In this morning's paper there is a full page report by the same journo telling of the exhumation (he seems to be into exhumations) of Australian soldiers from a mass grave in a French WW1 battlefield. It is a good report except for another word which sounds fine but doesn't mean what it should. The West should have a dictionary on every one of the hundreds of computers sitting on journos' desks and the sub-editor should have picked up that error. Maybe the sub-editing is outsourced to India?
Here is a definition of ignominy.

Also mate....artifacts is the way we spell it here in Aus.

BTW Joan is my sub-editor.

Here endeth this week's rant.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


In this morning's newspaper, The West Australian, there is an interesting article about the exhumation and reburial of the remains of three archbishops who led the Catholic church in W.A. over a period of 140 years. They are to be interred in a new crypt constructed below St Mary's Cathedral.

The article describes the exhumation and artifacts found in the coffins. The author of the article is named Joseph Catanzaro who this morning, is probably a little red faced about this paragraph in the paper....
And I thought it was only medieval Popes who had descendants.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Magic Box

Car efficiency scams are as old as cars. I recall reading very old Popular Mechanics magazines from the 1940s touting fuel pills. They were even on sale in service stations in Aus in the 50s. I never tried them at the time. Even at 17 years of age I felt that they had to be a scam.

Fast forward to the 90s and on and we have two home grown scams here in Aus. Australia's hero racing driver, Peter Brock launched an Energy Polarizer, a little magic box that was to bring amazing improvements to car performance and economy. It even allowed you to run your tyres at a lower pressure. Here is a press release for the Energy Polarizer....

"An Energy Polarizer transmits a high energy mainly generated by the vehicle to which it is attached.
This high energy field - A.B.A. Energy - causes all molecules in it's sphere of influence to be aligned or polarized to the direction of the high energy transmission, and are held in a linked or aligned state.
These molecules are subject to a vibratory rate dictated by the Polarizer.
The printed circuitry in a Polarizer causes a multiplicity of frequencies to be transmitted, affecting each molecule and allowing that molecules and it's environment to absorb specific vibration levels including noises, vibrations resonance and impact harshness which are always present in any vehicle and also to dampen out the effects of imperfect manufacture of vehicle components.

The overall effect on a motor car is to absorb road shocks more completely and quietly, to reduce overall vehicle noises - both inside and outside - to achieve greater efficiency of the power train and steering systems, improving the engine and suspension performance and to create a more pleasant environment for the driver and passenger.

Certain frequencies have not been "tuned out" as they are necessary for increased road safety.

The energy transmitted from the "Energy Polarizer" always flows to that area most effected. That means a major problem area still remains a problem, and the energy is effectively wasted on that area since the overall vehicle is deprived and consequently is less enhanced. So a correctly manufactured and maintained vehicle will always be superior to one that is not, but all vehicles benefit from the fitment of an Energy Polarizer.

It should be noted a vehicle which normal requires high octane leaded fuel is then able to operate on low octane (92) unleaded fuel, without any ill effects whatsoever, when an Energy Polarizer is fitted.

Tyre pressures must be lowered to maximise the effect of an Energy Polarizer. Recommended tyre pressure:-

Later, FirePower was a fuel tank pill and the floating of the company lost lots of Australian investors (read: suckers) around $100M. Neither worked, but I am unsure if the 'inventors' of both 'scams' didn't actually believe in their product.

When I wrote in the last post about the winner of the Melbourne cup being whipped by the jockey after the horse went over the line,I wondered if I was the only person who noticed it on TV. The RSPCA also noticed it and has been on his case and the Jockey's whatever club has suspended him (after the racing round is over).

Windows 7 has been released with its biggest innovation being a taskbar where the user can drop applications into and open them from there.....just like Mac's Dock which has been part of every OS10 since 2001.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

W.A. Islamic Council

The Melbourne Cup is over. To my uninterested eye, it seems that fashion once again was the winner over the horses.

Who won? Well it depends who is reporting it. Initial headlines trumpeted “Shocking’ as the winner. Shocking is a horse. Then there is this quote from the Jockey.. 'Ive finally won the Melbourne Cup and the dream has come true'.

Then later in the day we watched trainer Mark Kavanagh tell us how shocked he was that he won the Melbourne cup. I guess we could call it a team effort.

I saw the final few seconds of the race on TV and noticed that once the horse (and the jockey) got over the finishing line, jockey Corey Brown gave the nag one more slash with his whip. I never found a Corey that I liked amongst my many students before I retired.

Rahim Ghauri, the boss of the W.A. Islamic Council wrote to the West Australian newspaper a couple of days ago complaining how Muslims are discriminated against in Western Australia. Amongst other things, he mentioned the lack of Halal food in public hospitals.

The next day’s paper spawned lots of letters from non Muslims telling him, in a most illogical manner, that Islamic countries wouldn’t serve us bacon if we had to go to a hospital there. A few also told him he could go back where he came from. I know, that without the experience of having been admitted to a hospital in an Islamic state that I could happily eat Halal food.

I understand why, but cannot condone, the silence of Muslim Clerics about the senseless murder of their own in the name of God.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Melbourne Cup

Saturday was Halloween. We had a couple of groups of pleasant kids visit and they were rewarded for their dress-up efforts.

Tomorrow is the running of the Melbourne Cup. Australia shuts down for the race and food and drink. Tomorrow night there will be the usual footage of drunk young fillies (the girls) staggering around with spikes in hand.

We both enjoyed Cup day when we were working, but haven't given it much thought since retiring. The most publicity has been around a successful trainer named Bart Cummings. Bart is in his 80s and sports a wonderful set of eyebrows. Such eyebrows have traditionally been the prerogative of Australian Prime Ministers.

And now a racehorse story.

A bloke towing a horsefloat is exceeding the speed limit on the new highway to Bunbury when pulled over by a cop. 'Any excuse for speeding' asks the cop. "I have to get these horses down to Bunbury for the races' explains our man.
The cop looks in the back and says 'There aren't any horses in here mate!' 'Oh damn, they've given me the scratchings again!' says the punter.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Yeahs and Nays

Last weekend we went to a Main Roads sponsored expose of the planned extension of the Roe Highway. That extension is to go through a small section of swamp and comes within approx. 400 metres of our home. We are not too anxious about its effect...we don't think it will impact on us much. Of course the construction will bring with it a lot of noise and perhaps some dust...and of course it will take a long time to construct.

The Main Roads Department had a bevy of personnel explaining that it wasn't quite a fait accompli and that the government would listen to the people. Yeah!

Today, there was a large rally against the proposal held at Bibra Lake Reserve. From the number of vehicles parked, there would seem to have been more than a thousand protesters attending. It was a bit of a carnival atmosphere with bands, clowns and the usual dog walkers, cheesecloth wearers, hippies and dreadlockers. The poor loves haven't had anything to protest about for years and they loved the opportunity to sock it to the government. That sounds very cynical but I am on their side. I would rather the freeway extension didn't go ahead. The short extension which is probably only about 10 kilometres has been labelled 'the Highway to nowhere' as it finishes at another north/south highway and doesn't really solve any of the problems it is supposed to.

The protesters are on the side of the frogs and the black cockatoos and Kev and Joan and other residents who will be close to the extension. The cockatoos can fly on, but we can't.

There was another protest in Perth City yesterday with a group demonstrating against the large oil spill from a rig in the Timor Sea. Some of the protesters were bikini clad gals who rubbed themselves with a black oil looking substance. I reckon it was Vegemite. I also reckon it was a good way to show off the bod on TV.
Aftr the rally, we bought up on wine in preparation for my 70th birthday bash on November 29th. The liquor store had a few specials and we bought a box of Chardonnay cleanskins just to see what a $1.79 white wine is like. I am pleased to report that it is very nice thank you. We will return and grab a few more boxes.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Car damage

Our daughter lives in her unit, one of 14, in East Victoria Park. It is a good area from the perspective of access to restaurants, shopping and entertainment, but lousy when it comes to security of property and person.

Helen's car is parked under cover in an unsecured carpark and a couple of days ago she again had her rear quarter window smashed. This time the villains didn't even bother to get into the car. Some time ago she took out extra cover on her vehicle insurance to cover all glass replacement.

This current car has had four windows smashed and her previous car had about the same. Others in the car park have had the same. What to do? The tenants and owners have talked about an external fence, but that would be very expensive and most inconvenient. The many reports to the local gendarmes has understandably done nothing. The villains don't seem to have a regular routine to do their damage. Shift is a good option, but Helen at the moment has only two days of teaching a week and banks don't like to loan money to people who don't have full time work. Answer: stick it out and keep replacing windows.

East Vic. Park has a sizable aboriginal population of unemployed rapper style, reverse baseball cap lads who move around during the day peering into backyards. Can't do much about them!

I had my Mazda 929 into a suspension expert to do a 4wheel steering alignment. The steering is much improved and I should expect that the cheap tyres I had fitted will last a couple of years. The next bit of the restoration (sounds like a major project) is to get a small panel and paint job done on a rear wing. This morning I dropped in to see my tame panel and paint man and eeek; his doors were closed. I'm hoping that he is just off on a cruise as he usually does small jobs for $200. folding money. He does these jobs on a Friday and I suspect the weekend sees him at the Casino.

The suspension man is a cranky bloke who knows he is the best and doesn't suffer fools like me.
By that I mean that I am a fool...not that I don't suffer fools...I do! Over the years I have had dealings with Graeme and by and large he has been a cranky bastard, especially over those years he was trying to give up smoking. This time he charged me more than the quote, but presented me with a very impressive computer generated analysis of the problems and what he had done to fix up those major problems. I can see the instructions on the computer screen...... Press print to produce spin document.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Winners are Grinners and Losers are just losers

Joan has had a busy weekend manning (probably not the right term) a booth at the City of Melville Textile Arts Expo. Apart from the expo there was a competition called 'Mad as a Hatter' where artists had to make a crazy hat. Joan made two hats and one of them titled 'Tea Party' with a tea pot and cups won one of the prizes. That prize was $350., which if time was a factor, she probably worked for 30c per hour. Never the less she came home grinning like a Cheshire cat.

I am the loser part of this story. In a unit we own, the tenant complained of a storm damaged TV antenna. We asked the agent to have an antenna man fix it and he did at a cost of $229. I rang the Insurance company, RAC, and they wanted an exact date and time to check against the Bureau of Meteorology records as the claim has to fit the criteria of a storm. Damn! Of course I didn't know the date and time and after a lot of discussion they decided to allow the claim as there was a big blow which could possibly fit the definition of a storm about three weeks ago.

After giving all the details the lass informed me that there is a $200. excess and I could get back $29. on the total cost. Not happy Jan! I told them to forget the claim.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


A couple of days ago I went to a tyre place and bought and had fitted two new tyres. The young bloke doing the fitting rolled a trolley jack under the front of the car and immediately started pumping the jack. I cringed, remembering a time back in the 80s at Willetton Senior High School when a student in a mechanical class jacked up my car by positioning the jack under the engine sump. Result: cracked aluminium sump which caused me lots of problems. The tyre bloke didn’t do any damage and I was pleasantly surprised. Phew!

Yesterday I was in a liquor store and a very large young bloke called me by name. An ex- student from the 1980s. He was surprised to meet after all that time, he said that he and another ex-student were talking about me a couple of days before…’We were talking about that kid who cracked the sump of your car with the trolley jack’.

What are the chances of all that happening? Me remembering the incident whilst I was getting tyres fitted….he talking about the incident a couple of days ago and both of us meeting after all those years all within the time frame of a few days. Incredible!

We went for a short walk at Bibra Lake this morning. I said ‘at’, not around, Bibra Lake.The Bottle Brush trees (Callistemon salignus) are in full bloom. The large Black Cockatoos love snipping off the flowers….I don’t actually know why, as they don’t drink the nectar or eat the flowers. There must be some purpose to it all, but on the surface it just looks like a bit of bad-boy vandalism.

Monday, October 19, 2009

How do they find me?

This story definitely comes under the heading of How do they find me?

Yesterday I was at Bunnings buying some tomato seedlings when a woman made a comment about the type of tomato she had selected. Before I could say blow me down, she launched into what turned out to be a 15 minute story about setting up a security camera in her unit to catch a couple of female thieves who had made several daylight raids on her place stealing jewellery, cash and memorabilia over a 21 month period. All this while she slept in the house. The police don't believe her, her kids hate her because she suggested that it was one of them, her sister thinks she is nuts and after 15 minutes I too had a suspicion that she wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed.

She has window shutters and window and door locks, a security/alarm system which should have kept anyone out, but someone still got in and even ate a takeaway Maccas in a spare room.

I couldn't escape and only had a window of a couple of seconds to make a comment like...'sounds like family and drugs'. I think at that stage I did the appropriate nodding, serious concerned look and tuned out. She thanked me for listening and we wished each other a nice day and split.

The Federal Government has changed the Citizenship test from general knowledge questions such as how many runs did Don Bradman make in his career? to more specific question which pertain to the type of government we have and the rights and obligations of our citizens. That is probably a good thing because potential citizens should know that our government is a democracy, a secular state and that men and women have equal rights. It is a far cry from the 'White Australia' policy which was officially terminated in the 1970s. That policy discriminated against non European immigration often using a language test in a language unknown by the applicant. See here for some background.

During WW2 Prime Minister John Curtin didn't want African American troops in Australia, but was convinced of the need for them by General McArthur. McArthur's reasons might not have been completely altruistic.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

TAG Hungerford

This morning we decided to attend a camera swapmeet. In fact there is no swapping, just sales. En route we firstly went to Melville Plaza swapmeet which was very busy. Joan, the book ferret, managed to find a book by Tom Hungerford named 'A Knockabout with a Slouch Hat'. I am about halfway through it at the moment and it's a great read. Tom was born in 1915 and is still going, albeit slowly. He has written a number of books and short stories and A Knockabout is a fine sequel to his Stories from Suburban Road. There are a couple more of his novels which I still have to acquire. Tom is a Western Australian who way back had a connection with my mother's side of the family and visited the Lee farm during school holidays.

The camera swap meet was held in Leederville and was well attended by hundreds of people. Film is still alive and well! Joan took a couple of snaps with her $120 digital camera and caused a few unkind cameras indeed! I was after some closeup lenses for my Nikon Digital SLR, but unfortunately 58mm is not a popular size. New screw-on closeup lenses come in packs of +1 +2 +3 usually and cost around $150 the set. I may have to get some cheap S/H stuff of a different size and buy an adaptor.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A small indulgence

Small is probably not the word for this is a largish car. I have been looking in the various papers for a Mazda 929 sedan. We had one each a couple of years ago and I am unsure why we sold both of them. I think it was that we decided to buy a brand new car which didn't have any of the little problems, like creaks etc.

The new car is just dandy, but every time I saw a 929 on the road I thought I should indulge there! The chance came up and I bought a very nice 1993 model with low kilometres (136,490) and in good general condition. I will drive it for a couple of weeks to find out all the quirks and then if it still seems good; start the restoration. I noticed the the fuel gauge seems faulty and heads towards empty rather quickly???

The cost of this beauty....$2800.00. That is the 'small' part of the indulgence

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

From an era long past

I found this item in a small wooden box of my father's treasures. All revealed at the bottom of this post.

This morning a Welfare Officer collected me and a computer to head up to Joondalup. The idea was to set up the computer so that a young Aboriginal family might get a few skills in computer literacy...especially the young man of the house. He is on remand from prison and has a young partner and eight (8) dependent kids all under 12 years of age. He looks to be around 25 and his partner maybe 22 years of age. She has two kids; he two from a previous partnership and they are caring for another four kids from a relative who is in prison. Doesn't sound like they have much of a chance in life.

Surprisingly the house is well maintained and the kids are clean and well mannered. She is an attractive and very smart young woman and the fellow is very shy and quiet. She is the boss and knows how it is going to be. Tomorrow they are having a house inspection and she is having a second attempt at her driving licence test. They loved the computer (lots of noisy games) and I got a good feeling that they will benefit from the installation.

The object is a key ring with a button tab to go on to one of the buttons by which braces were attached to men's trousers.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

You win some; you lose some

My friend Paul has a nose for a bargain. He spies a bargain everywhere....fruit and vegie markets, electronics and computer gear, in fact anything that is heavily marked down.

A couple of days ago he pointed me in the direction of his local Coles supermarket where there is a mark-down bin of allsorts including printer cartridges. I raced up to Paul territory and collected ten packets of refill inks and cartridges to suit two printers I am preparing to distribute to needy folks. Total cost $5.00. Bargain!

Yesterday I collected a Canon printer donated by another fellow and I remembered seeing cartridges to suit this new machine in the Coles bin. Back to Coles and more carts.

This is the total haul costing $5.80. Thanks Paul; now see if you can find me a large LCD TV for around $100.

I did have one loss yesterday. I was cleaning a keyboard and had removed all the keys and washed them in a bucket with hot water and detergent. When draining the water down the laundry sink, the strainer did a 360 and two keys went down the drain. After removing all the stuff in the sink cabinet, I removed the S bend and found one of the two keys. I now have a white keyboard with clean keys with one black key from an older Mac keyboard. Not a great look!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

the 'Toughen Up' and 'Don't Watch it' crew

Last night the final of a two part retrospective of one of Australia's most popular Saturday night TV shows was screened on TV. Hey Hey It's Saturday was a very popular show in its day. It ran for 28 years finishing up 10 years ago.

Bringing it back for the two episodes was a popular move. Unfortunately last night's episode featured a Blackface act, with a group of white guys doing a Jackson 5 parody. I was a bit shocked when they came on....I hadn't seen such an act since I was a kid and the BBC screened The Black and White Minstrels back in the 1950s. This act was part of a regular segment of HHIS called Red Faces. When all the acts were finished a panel of judges, one of which was Harry Connick Junior awarded scores. Harry was visibly upset over the Jackson5 act and said so. He awarded a '0' adding that that act certainly wouldn't go down well in the U.S.. As the show wound up the host, Darryl Somers, made a sincere apology which was accepted.

Today there has been a mixed reaction to that booboo. The Toughen Up and You Don't Have to Watch brigade were out in force. All too often when something that is controversial or offensive is screened on TV they suggest that people who voice a complaint are PC and should merely change channels.

The show was pretty good and I fail to understand how Darryl Somers could have thought that such an act would not cause embarrassment to many viewers.

Should you wish to read more on Blackface, you can see it here.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I had a nice bacon and egg breakfast this morning. I feel for my Joan as she is fasting prior to a Day Surgery to remove a cyst on/in one of her fingers and also getting a cortesone shot in a thumb joint. The procedure is scheduled for 11.30am and she has to fast for what will probably be most of the day. I will drop her off and await a call to pick her up at around 4pm. She is not allowed to wear her contact lenses, just her coke bottle glasses....a good look!

She will have a few frustrating sewing-free days, but still be able to read.

After I drop off Joan at the surgery, I have some business to attend to in the city and then I am off to our daughter Helen's unit to set up a WiFi station so that she doesn't have cables and phone lines all over the floor.

Tonight on TV there is an episode of RSPCA-Animal Rescue, which falls into the category of bad timing. Much anguish and tears over the rescue of a small dog pulled from a hole in the ground. Maybe that team could head off to Indonesia and rescue some of the hundreds of victims of the massive earthquake there.

More Socialist paranoia from the USA.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Royal Show report

The Perth Royal Show has been billed as the world's largest non-smoking event. The show runs over 8 days and usually attracts around 400,000 visitors. It was most pleasant to walk around the showgrounds without having secondhand cigarette smoke invade your space. On a local news site there are many letters of complaint by smokers, mostly complaining that other pollution is far worse that smoke. They just don't get stinks! It is far worse that all the animal smells which accompany an agricultural fair.

We lasted until about 2pm before heading back home. There were plenty of interesting exhibits for the non sideshow-alley people like us. And I found a nice working exhibit of steam and other vintage engines. Some beaut old tractors as well. Each exhibit has the typical exhibitor standing close by. The tractor/engine blokes had the farmer look about them. The dog and cat people were definitely dog and cat people seated in front of their animal(s) with lap rug, thermos of hot tea and home-made sangas.

One big disappointment was the now political correct Police Exhibition. Last time we went to the Show the Police exhibition had the most gory photographs of murders including the actual weapons used and details about who what where. No punches pulled then. Photos showed bodies mutilated, limbs severed etc. Now the Police exhibit has a kids corner with a Constable Care show.

We managed to catch a brilliant motorcycle trick riding show in the central arena.

In the Historical Society's exhibition there were many wonderful old photographs. We found a labelling mistake on one large photo of East Street and the Swan River in East Fremantle taken around 1900. The label stated that it was in North Fremantle. When we pointed it out to one of the HS members he was quite chuffed as the fellow who had labelled the photo was a 'bit of a smarty'.

The online news page has a header which is a bit confusing. Here 'tis.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Perth Royal Show

Yesterday, just like today, was a lovely sunny Spring day. Our friend Margaret celebrated her 73rd birthday with a group of her friends outside in the garden. Much conversation ensued. The 10 year rehash of the TV show 'Hey Hey It's Saturday!'was mentioned and most people who watched it liked it, but thought it ran out of steam in the 90s and wouldn't hold up in 2009.

I asked what people thought of the Andrew Denton show, David Tench which aired a couple of years ago, but didn't make it. No one knew about David Tench. Tench was an animated character who interviewed real people who interacted with Tench. It was brilliant, but the viewers were not ready for it and it was taken off. See a few clips from episodes here.

Today we are off to the Royal Show in Claremont. We haven't been to the show in 10 years or so and thought we should go whilst the weather is nice. I'll post some pics tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Monday Washday

When I was a young fella, the week's washing was done on a Monday. It was the topic of the street if someone hung out their clothes to dry on any other day. I often wondered who it was who made up that 'rule'. Why on a single day and why Monday?

Today in my mailbox is my daily dose of wonderful vintage photos from Shorpy and one shows wash day in some NY tenement buildings. Check out the pics here and read the comments. Click to enlarge them.

I see it all now......wash day would have been a day of inconvenience to kids wanting to play ball in the street. Get it all over on one day! There would have been many Nosey Parkers checking out the washing of their neighbours.

I would think that in early the early 20th century there would have been tenements like these in almost every city in the world.

Before our family bought a wringer washing machine my mother boiled clothes in a copper using Velvet bar soap shaved with a knife. The washing was then taken out of the copper with a pole, rinsed and hand rung.

Here is a commemorative package of Velvet soap in tablet form.

It is said that in the 1960s American housewives had a weekly routine:

Monday: Wash Day
Tuesday: Ironing Day
Wednesday: Sewing Day
Thursday: Market Day
Friday: Cleaning Day
Saturday: Baking Day

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Dinner Party

Our neighbours, Dave and Judy hosted a magnificent Master Chef style dinner party for us last night.

Pre dinner nibblies were very nice and the introductory Champagne (I'm allowed to call it Champagne) was lovely. Their dining room is large and set up with candles and subdued lighting really set the stage for the meal. Roast Tomato Soup was followed by Rack of Lamb with Risotto Rice Cakes, Broccolini, Stuffed Mushrooms and a green salad For sweets Judy presented individual Baked Chocolate Puddings with cream.

Good company, good conversation and way too much good wine! Thanks Dave and Judy. You've set the benchmark!

Sunday, September 27, 2009


This evening we are dining next door at our neighbours' place. I thought I would make a small dish to take over and decided on Ceviche. We learnt how to make Ceviche in Papua New Guinea some 30 years ago. A colleague at the school I ran was (and still is) an Argentinian and we were introduced to the delight of lemon 'cooked' Mackerel. Every time I make it, it seems to turn out a bit different. Today I had trouble sourcing some hot chillies which was never a problem in PNG back in the 70s.

Anyway, the recipe goes something like this......

Finely slice the fish into thin strips and toss them into fresh lemon juice. Add ginger, garlic and chillies finely chopped (you know how much of each!), along with spring onions and salt. Wait about two+ hours and slip into it. The fish turns white when it is ready. Fine tune the taste with more salt and a little ground pepper if needed.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Collapsed veins

Joan and I went to Fremantle early this morning to give blood. We went through the usual interrogation about diseases etc etc until I disclosed that a recent blood/urine test had found a significant level of protein in my urine. Blue flashing lights and sirens! I had to talk to a Blood Bank Doctor and she eventually gave the all-clear to donate.

I am just lucky enough to get a first-timer nurse to find the vein. She was a bit nervous and poked the spear through the vein and into the flesh. Ouch! The supervising nurse took over and tried in the other arm. She had success, but after a couple of minutes the flow stopped and after several attempts at repositioning the spear gave up saying that I had not had enough fluids this morning and that the coffee I had merely dehydrated me. Seems as though I should have consumed at least three large tumblers of water or juice. Never had that problem since I started donating in 1958.
Then just to make me feel my age she told me that my veins had collapsed! Bugger! I'm done for!

Years ago I taught Year 10 science at Cecil Andrews Senior High. One facet of the course was genetics. I had to bone up on that one. We did cover the area of natural selection and when inspecting my silver beet this morning I found a couple of caterpillars munching away on some leaves. Interestingly, they were underneath the leaves, protected from the searching birds, but not the small wasps that also visit. I have never seen caterpillars feasting on the tops of leaves. Do they perceive that they would become prey if they did? Or is it that through natural selection the top-eaters have all been eaten? I don't really need an answer to that one.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The crash, pharmaceuticals and a makeover

This week has brought a bit of good news to the Locks. Firstly we have reached the Medicare threshold and our scripts are now totally free. Previously we paid $5.30 per script regardless of how much the medication is actually costing the government. See the examples here...
Of course there is a price to pay for the cheap and eventually free have to be at least 65 years of age. It is also income related with a generous income threshold of $80,000 per annum. We easily fit into that. Below 65...and wouldn't I like to be; the government through the PBS (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme) subsidises the youngies, but too a lesser extent.

We were also reasonably happy about our meeting this morning with our financial adviser. During this last financial year our superannuation funds wept to the amount of around $200,000. The news today shows that things are on the mend with our funds gaining $22,000 since March. The villain in the crash was the Unlisted Property package which was part of our investment portfolio.

Prior to the crash there were many adverts for Industry Super Funds and a couple of well known actors told us that they were the way to go...not with a financial adviser. Haven't seen any of their ads for a while.

Who said Makeovers don't work? Check out Federal pollie, Belinda Neal, here. A before and after which featured on the cover of the AWW.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Speech problems

My bro-in-law Mike has difficulty with his speech due to Parkinson's Disease. Even though he does some speech exercises his speaking volume and clarity is quite poor; so much so that when I was looking after him over the weekend I missed a lot of what he was saying. I confess to nodding at a lot of his conversation without grasping the meaning of what he was trying to tell me....especially whilst travelling in the car.

I told my brother about Mike's problem and my somewhat wimpish method of coping. He related that to an episode of Seinfeld where Jerry and Elaine were dining out with a woman charity worker who had an extremely soft voice and Jerry did a Kev and nodded his way through an inaudible conversation and without realising it, agreed to wear a pirate blouse with puffy sleeves to a fundraiser. Good episode!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Mike sitting

Joan and her sister Dorothy are on a weekend retreat at Dwellingup. I am staying over a couple of days with bro-in-law Mike at his place. On Friday when I arrived at his place there was a carer looking after him and he left soon after I arrived. Mike is on new medication for Parkinsons and it is taking a while for him to get used to it. He has long periods when he is 'out'.

I made a mild Tikka Marsala curry and some rice to have last night. I also brought some of my chilli sauce. Mike's tastes must have changed radically because he dolloped a lot of the chilli sauce over his curry. This morning he is still 'out' and is not expected to be able to move around until closer to midday. Then we have a few tasks to to JB HiFi to exchange some gear that he didn't need and I believe, help him construct a wheel barrow from several he has collected from gutter mart. Hope not.

I am not good as a guest; creeping around so as not to disturb others and avoiding the toilet flush. Even at home I get up in the morning and do my toiletries in another bathroom on the other side of the house. Mike cannot sleep well in bed and so moves into the dining area and sleeps in a special chair. Normally I would be cooking a nice cholesterol breakfast at this stage, but I don't want to disturb Mike.

I have just helped him with his tablets which have to be taken eight times a day to a total of 38
tabs. It is very difficult to do when he is 'out'.

Dorothy, his wife, has much to contend with and I am here for just two nights.