Monday, March 30, 2009

Uncle Jay explains the news

Uncle Jay can explain the news for most of us ordinary folk. I get my extensive knowledge base of world affairs with the help of Uncle Jay. Check him out here. If you are like us with slow bandwidth, you might have to wait until the whole episode loads to view it properly.

However, Uncle Jay hasn't explained to me how thousands of people can join the G20 protests which inevitably end up being hijacked by extremists. Uncle Jay would probably suggest that the organisers don't disclose where and when the meetings are going to be held and wouldn't the owners and insurers of all those wrecked buildings along the route be pleased?

Friday, March 27, 2009


Graham, our guest from Sydney, left early Thursday morning on a drive to Kalgoorlie, Esperance, Albany and back home. He is due back on Monday afternoon. Graham made arrangements to meet up with a colleague who lives in Kalgoorlie, who also taught in Papua New Guinea. Unfortunately his friend was driving in the opposite direction heading to Perth, so they met briefly in a country town as their paths crossed.

Graham apologised to us for downgrading his accommodation at our place. We lost one star for not having any bananas for his breakfast before his departure. Must try and win back that star.

Kalgoorlie is a gold mining town and has a bit of a wild west feel to it. Recently the City Fathers attempted to pull the whip on liquor outlets to cut down on the brawls ensuing. Don't know how that went. There is plenty to see over a two day visit. Lots of fine buildings and history, the super pit and of course there is Hay Street and the tourist brothel.

Our daughter Helen has settled back into her unit and was successful in getting all her bond money back from her previous apartment in South Perth. Where she lives in East Victoria Park is not as salubrious as South Perth and already some of the tenants' cars, including hers, have been damaged in break-ins. The block of units does not have any security fence or lights and is easy pickings for the local hoods.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Lock's Tour of the 'burbs

Today our guest from Sydney town, Graham, demanded a reciprocal tour of the suburbs. When we were in Sydney a few weeks ago he did the same for us.

Graham lives in the suburb of Kirrawee which is a very leafy, hilly place, so I thought I would work our way up to Kalamunda which is similar, and has a nice 'village' feel to it. We started off going to Guildford and then on to Midland Junction. From there to Mundaring and across to Mundaring Weir and the original pumping station for the Perth-Kalgoorlie water pipeline. We had lunch at a nice cafe in Kalamunda and then looked around the town before going to Willetton, Bicton, then Mosman Park and Peppermint Grove where the rich people live. Back home through Fremantle.

I found that a bit wearying, but Graham decided on a lengthy walk around Bibra Lake as soon as we arrived home. I'll just sit down and suck on a cool drink.

This is our 500th posting on Lock Family Ramblings.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Saint-Pierre and Miquelon

This evening I watched an SBS programme on TV called Thalassa. It was about a French island named Saint-Pierre which is just 24 kilometres from Canada's Newfoundland. It is part of a small group of islands called the Territorial Collectivity of Saint Pierre and Miquelon. There are two main islands, Saint-Pierre and Miquelon. They both have a small population of fisher-folk and export frozen fish labelled..Made In France.

The islands are very cold and windy and a good late summer's day could be described as a bit bleak by Aus standards.

I confess to have not known anything about this French possession and when you read Wikipedia about it you will find a very interesting story. Here it is.

Thus endeth today's lesson.

National Hero

Film maker Damien Lay reckons he has found the wreck of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith's plane off the coast of Burma after 75 years. Kingsford Smith was quite the Australian hero of the time. See the Kingsford Smith Wikipedia entry here. It is a good read.

Heroes usually have a team of unsung heroes and 'Smithy's' co-pilot on his last flight was my father's cousin Tom Pethybridge. Over the last 50 or so years whenever the topic of aircraft has come up I, wishing to grab a bit of history, have blurted out that my father's cousin Tom died along with Smithy.....usually to no comment or looks of 'Oh yeah?'. Well today's newspaper report about the discovery of the plane mentioned Tom, my sort of fourth there!

Tomorrow our daughter Helen hands back the keys to the apartment she has been living in for the past six months. We have been helping her with fixing chips and cracks and matching up paint. Easy, I thought, but matching colours by eye in dodgy light is very difficult. Eventually Joan and I did a reasonable job on a few walls, but adding artists' acrylic to wall paint caused it to lose the slight sheen the rest of the wall has. Seeing that the owner and the rental agent have treated her shabbily, I came up with a way of creating a slight sheen by gently wiping the affected area of wall with a small amount of hair conditioner mixed with water. Should do the job.

In another room a picture hanger managed to leave some sticky stuff behind. Removing that proved a problem so we made a dozen attempts to match the purple paint to cover it. No joy! I ended up getting a near match and repainted the entire wall. Hope Helen doesn't shift again for a few years.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Helen settles in

Our daughter Helen made the move back into her own unit today. She has used the same removalist three times in her recent shifts and will be using him again when she eventually buys a house. This fellow is an Israeli and is always pleasant and inexpensive. Today they (he and his assistant) made two trips taking up all morning for the grand total of $350. Split that two ways with fuel and a lot of effort and they are not rolling in cash.

Helen still does not have a full-time teaching position, but the relief work is getting better. She reckons that three days a week relief, seeing that she will not be paying rent should be quite adequate.

One of the aboriginal women I have had contact with whilst distributing computers must have thought that I needed a bit of help from JC. She included me in the bulk email shown here.....

God has seen you struggling, God says it's over.

A blessing is coming your way.

If you believe in God send to ten people, please don't ignore, you are being tested.



This prayer is so powerful.
Pass this prayer to 12 people including me

What will happen if I don't pass it on?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Humbug rental agents

Busy, busy, busy today! This morning I collected seven reasonably late model Macs from W.A. Newspapers. They are Mirror Door G4s and very nice too! I had to sign a document saying that I was not going to sell them and that they were to be given to needy people...easy.

After lunch I went to our daughter Helen's unit to help remove mould from walls and ceilings after the tenants moved out on the weekend. Yesterday Helen was a bit 'testy' as the tenants should have had the mould cleaned off. She told the rental agents that it was because the tenants kept all the windows and doors shut. They denied that and claimed it was because of concrete cancer in the walls allowing water to dampen the walls. I wish that I had been there as I am less likely to be brow-beaten by their BS. There is mould inside wardrobes! Last year I did some maintenance on Helen's unit at the request of the tenants. The couple are from India and the wife could not speak one word of English. I noticed that all the windows were shut and that the walls were wet with condensation. Helen told the agents and they noticed it at the next inspection and reported to Helen that the tenants were told to open windows to allow fresh air in. Even after that they still claim that the mould is due to concrete cancer.

The problem here is that whilst Helen is a client of the rental agency, the mining company who leased her unit is also a client of the rental agency. The mining company has six units/houses leased through the agency, so they are much more valuable clients. It is a bit like a policeman being investigated for some misdemeanor by the police.

Anyway, bleach is the saviour. Most of the mould has been removed. Can I blame bleach for my greying hair?

On Sunday last we drove down south to Bunbury. Bunbury is a very nice seaside city. It is a while since we were there last and we were impressed. We had lunch at a fish restaurant on the estuary...good food at a reasonable price in a nice setting overlooking the water. We had travelled down there to buy a set of seats for Martin's car. Since he has lost his drivers licence I have decided to pretty the car up and sell it. We will keep the money; probably around $1,000 and use it to pay the big fine that is almost certainly coming. The seats are good and I have installed them and will advertise the car this next week. It is a Daihatsu Charade 3 cylinder car and runs on the smell of an oily rag. A good selling point with today's petrol prices.

I placed another three computers today. They were older model iMacs loaded with heaps of educational software and games. They have gone to three aboriginal families with the hope that they will get good use.

Friday, March 13, 2009

More chilli sauce

I have a few nice chilli bushes in the garden and I blame them for the slight obsession I have with making chilli sauce. Yesterday's effort was a small brew, but a good brew and I bottled it in a couple of small bottles. Trouble is, I don't write down exactly what amounts of various ingredients I put in the blender, so it doesn't always taste the same. It usually burns the same though.

I have tried the pickling method where all the ingredients are minced and then steeped in vinegar. Yesterday's small batch was liquefied and then simmered for 10-15 minutes. I think the latter method is a sauce and the former a pickle.

I just had a shave and shower and reflected on the injustice done by old age. My legs now have very little hair on them, but my ear hairs and eyebrows grow at a rate that tomato gardeners would be proud of. The eyebrow hairs no longer have that soft feeling that my wife felt against her face many years they are like barbed wire and need cutting with secateurs. I have to look carefully in the mirror to check whether there is not a long flag-like hair trailing from my ear.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Spam, not ham

I seem to have friends and rellies who send me those very important messages asking me to send them on to all my contacts.

In the last few days I have received three of these annoying messages; one from an ex-student which tells of a dying girl in hospital in New York. The story is in the form of a very syrupy poem designed to rope in the emotionally gullible. It urges you to forward it on to as many people as you can.

‘By sending this to as many people as possible, you can give her and her family a little hope , because with every name that this is sent to, the American Cancer Society will donate 3 cents to her treatment and recovery plan….One guy sent this to 500 people! So I know that we can at least send it to 5 or 6. It’s not even your money, just your time!’

Another forwarded email told of ‘four things that you didn’t know about your mobile phone’. Those four things are furphies too.

The last one I received was an urban myth about a bloke who got a gas bill for $0.00 and the supposed run around he got and gave back to the utility and a bank. This one was reworked to suit Australia with local banks and town names slotted in to a story doing the rounds in the U.S. years ago.

The amazing thing is that when shown to be just urban myths their forwarders don’t do anything. I hereby promise that if I ever have a brain failure and forward stuff like that I will immediately post an apology to all and sundry and ask that they do the same to the 300 people that they have forwarded it on to. Jeez think of all the electrons racing around cyberspace transporting urban myths and conspiracy theories. I’ll take spam any day!

If you are dubious about such messages, you can check them out here....

Of course the conspiracy theorists claim that Snopes is an arm of government and is covering up important, true stories circulating on the net.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Open the Gates

Micro$oft woes

We use Microsoft Office 2004. It used to work OK, but just recently we have been receiving a few documents with the suffix .docX and 2004 cannot open them.

It seems that the trouble is a gift from MS in the form of a new form of document which is part of Office 2007 and 2008.

It isn’t a problem in most cases as people can resend them as PDFs....problem solved!

If for some reason the sender can’t create a PDF then we can go through a series of steps downloading updates for Office 2004; then loading on a downloaded patch which converts the .docX to a regular .doc file. Fixed.

This does not only apply to Macs; PCs with Office 2004 also have the same problem.
Bet there is plenty of money to be made by Mr Fixit computer guys.

Most of the computers I have distributed have parts of Office 2004 loaded. Hope I don’t get too many call backs to fix that problem.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

From big things, little things grow

Recently at Sevenoaks College I was rummaging through mountains of computers and peripherals looking for goodies for my project. I came across a few Hard Drives including this 1984 baby. It is a Fujitsu of about 10 Mb capacity. I thought of levering it into a laptop.

The regular computer Hard Drive looks like this.

Laptop Hard Drives are about half that size and iPod hard drives are positively mini drives.
I have read somewhere that after some 50 years someone has actually manufactured and marketed a Dick Tracy two way watch. If you don't remember what a Dick Tracy watch is like you are just too young.....Google is your friend.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Bitter sweet feelings

One of the networks that circulated the message about the free Macs was DIA (Department of Indigenous Affairs). I was pretty happy to be involved in helping underprivileged indigenes get a computer and backup assistance. Out of the seven who contacted me and gave me their story (not that I wanted to hear why they wanted a computer) all seemed very worthy causes and I had no reservation helping out.

I was a little taken aback by what seemed a grab. One lady I delivered a computer to was sitting smoking in front of a massive wide screen TV. Two recent model cars were in the driveway.

Another lady wasn't home when I delivered her Mac. I had to negotiate the debris of neglect in the yard to get to the front door which was badly damaged, along with windows and fly screens. Thankfully her daughter, through a two inch gap in the front door, told me to leave the computer on the front verandah. The house looked like a typical public housing house on an aboriginal settlement up north....damaged beyond repair. This lady has a government job.

OK ....rethink. There are many similar people out there in whitey world. I just haven't met any of them this time around. Get a grip Kev, and don't be too mean.