Thursday, April 30, 2009

Kosher Pork

It seems that the Swine Flu has even hit Israel with one of its citizens contracting the disease. I guess many religious Jews will say 'serves him right'! The government of Israel has however renamed the Flu as Mexican Flu. It is possible to buy pork in Israel and it apparently is easy to find in Russian neighborhoods. It seems that Russian Jews ate pork?

Talking about Pork, I cooked sweet and sour pork last night....delicious! I always thought of S&S pork as an Australian pseudo-Chinese dish. Not so. See here.

Yesterday I spent the morning at an IT auction trying to win an A3 HQ printer. I did win it with a bid of $20. Unfortunately when I got it home and turned it on I found that one of the ink cartridges was missing. I got onto eBay and ordered a replacement cartridge at a nice price from the U.S. In about a week I will find out if I bought a good printer or not. I am not good at auctions. I have a case of itchy face when the bidding climbs and have to look away regularly to scratch my face or scalp. I'd hate to be caught bidding on a $1,000 item.

This morning a friend and I visited our Std 6 teacher who has just recently turned 100. Bronwyn is still very bright and waiting for her congratulatory letter from the Queen. She still remembers us in her class 57 years ago and also remembers other members of our families. Mind you, she hasn't indulged in partaking of alcohol or smoking and other sins in her 100 years. It was a nice visit. I got up early and made some cheese straws which were enjoyed by us and passing carers at her nursing home.

Kev, Bronnie and Jack

A few days ago there was a pirates' attack on an Italian cruise liner. The attack was thwarted by an Israeli security company on board the liner. On a commercial TV station that night the teaser for the news program trumpeted "Aussies Fight Off Pirates'. Dear dear me!! It seems that a couple of Australians threw plastic chairs and a plastic table over the side of the ship towards the pirates. That must have really scared them!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Unwelcome guest

Today I decided to do a bit of gardening, but backed off using my whipper-snipper when I found a humongous redback settled in next to it. I will leave it overnight to see where it goes. It is too big to get under doors. Second thought I should hit it with a liberal dose of spider spray in case it hides away somewhere and surprises me later on. Don't like spiders!
I hereby announce a new rule for posting articles on the net. The person who first sends the article/photo must put their name and email address at the bottom of it so that recipients can flame them for being either mischievous or gullible for believing what they have written or forwarded. So there; listen up every one of you one billion internet posters, Kev has spoken.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tiger Moths

Early this morning I heard a loud noise which I knew was a bunch of aircraft doing a fly-past of ANZAC day services. I dashed out to take a look and realised that I didn't need to dash as they were Tiger Moth biplanes doing what looked like a sedate 60 mph...plenty of time to take a good look. There were six of them in formation and then two more trying desperately to catch up to the formation. 'Wait for us' they were yelling over the speaker tube.

Our local Magpies cruised in again this morning to get some grated Parmesan cheese. They love it and I reckon they will be spending the rest of the day looking for a cheese tree. They also love meat scraps as does the single large Raven that visits us. Yesterday I got a bit tired of hand feeding them and put the polystyrene meat tray with the scraps out on the lawn. Both the Raven and the maggies were most suspicious of this new thing. The maggies wouldn't go near it, but the Raven gingerly picked it up and tipped the meat scraps off the tray before wolfing them down. Smart bird!

I have mentioned this scam before, but it is worthwhile doing it again. This card was in yesterday's edition of the West Australian newspaper. It has been around in various forms in various media..newspapers, magazines and TV. I am sure many people will fall for this one as it is in a respectable publication. Printed on the top of the card in very small text is a disclaimer ...'This promotion is not connected with this publication', which virtually lets the West Australian off the hook.
The card has three scratchy panels and if you scratch and find three identical objects ,you win. I did and every other Western Australian who scratched also won. Next step is to SMS the winner code and pay $10. every six days for their content service which is advertising and jokes sent to your phone. If you don't unsubscribe they will continue automatically billing you at $10 each 6 days. Oh, and you don't actually win the MercedesSLK.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Cyclopedia of Western Australia

I have borrowed ‘The Cyclopedia of Western Australia’ published in 1912 from a friend. It is a wonderful 776 pages full of facts and figures about everything Western Australian. As ex teachers we were very interested to read up on Education in 1911.

A few figures:

The population of the state in 1911 was 277,928 persons.

There were 495 schools staffed by 1095 teachers.

There was only one secondary school…Modern School in Subiaco,which is still in operation. When it was established it was a selective school for the State's brightest. Many famous Australians were students there including a Prime Minister (Bob Hawke the "Silver Bodgie"). In the 1960s it became a regular High School, catering to its local school population. In the last couple of years it has once again reverted to being a selective school.

Modern School in 1911

There were no universities, but UWA was in the planning stages.

Staffing in remote areas was done by a Government grant of seven pounds per teacher per year and settlers were obliged to make up the rest to a total of sixty pounds annual salary.

An interesting subsidy for pupils outside the three mile radius from the school is shown here…
Interestingly…there were 8,000 telephones served by 40 exchanges.

The shame of it all

The U.S. bosses of the world-wide Hell's Angels motor cycle gang have taken the cane to the Australian chapter. The word is that they must toughen up and stop acting like a mob of wimps. Every time they see the opposition Comancheros they have been ordered to take a few potshots at them. The Aussies have even been banned from the soon to be held World Run. Can't have their bad boy reputation going soft.

As with the Mafia in the 30s, the cops would do well to just let them at each other to thin them out a bit. The police could establish a special fomentation unit using Facebook to do schoolboy/schoolgirl type bullying of each side to get the ball rolling. These police officers would have special teenage advisors to help with framing appropriate language and nastiness. I can see it now; 'You Comancheros should be riding postie Hondas' or ' Hells Angels have wimpy beards'. You can see that I am too nice to be really good at this sort of thing. I should go back to teaching at a private girls' school to hone up my Facebook skills.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


It has been only a couple of days since the Indonesian fishing boat transporting Afghan refugees exploded and created not only mayhem for the refugees who were dispersed to hospitals across Australia for major surgery, but also political troubles for the Australian government which is being accused of going soft on ‘queue jumpers’.

It seems that there was a plan to elicit emergency treatment by dousing the boat with petrol in the event that the boat was to be turned around and sent back to Indonesia. Probably some dill lit a cigarette and boom.

Coincidentally yesterday there was a raid on Afghans in a coastal resort near Jakarta seeing the arrest of a large number of ‘refugees’ who were awaiting a boat to attempt a crossing to Australian soil.

Is this just a coincidence or is the Indonesian President helping out his Aussie mate Kevin Rudd, by coming down hard on these refos?

Ute V Pickup. A recent set of Australian postage stamps feature Australian inventions. One of them is the Ute. The Ute is a pickup truck, supposedly invented by a farmer in Australia in 1934. Today I was trolling through a site I have joined called ‘Shorpy’. It is a wonderful site featuring historical photographs in high definition, mainly from the U.S. There are thousands of photos accompanied by comments by people who remember a particular street, event or people. They go back to the American Civil War. The photos are arranged in categories such as buildings, bridges, wars etc. I found a reference to a 1926 Ford Pickup in a section dealing with kitchens and household items. Apparently Ford manufactured ‘utes’ or pickups as early as 1926 and although the general public could only buy them in black, companies ordering a fleet of them could get them painted in their own colours. Here is a link to that site.

I highly recommend you visit Shorpy, so named after a 14 year old lad who worked in a mine in Alabama a hundred years ago. Find it here.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Nigerian scams

A couple of days ago there was a newspaper story about three people who were taken in by Nigerian scammers. Surprisingly an elderly fellow who lives in Busselton allowed the West Australian newspaper to tell his story along with a large photo of himself. He even got on TV the following night. I’d ‘lie doggo’ if I got conned by a Nigerian scam. He must be a laughing stock in his home town.

Admittedly this was a complex and I guess somewhat believable, scenario involving a U.S. military officer who claimed to have two cases of Saddam Hussein’s cash totalling $50m of which our hapless sucker was to get half for facilitating the illegal importation of 50 huges ones.

That should have rung some warning bells. I reckon just about everyone with an email address in Australia has had a similar email and trashed it as ‘dodgy’. Not this bloke.
And what was his trade?…a financial advisor.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Fiji coup d'etat

Our daughter Helen gave me a little job over the Easter weekend. She had my hot glue gun with a spare stick of glue on her car seat ready to return after work on Wednesday. Parked at her work the car turned into an oven and melted both glue sticks into the fabric of her car seats. Google is your friend for stuff like this. I followed what seemed the most sensible instructions from a long list and was successful in getting it all out.

Method: Heat up glue with a hair drier or heat gun. Remove most of the glue with a table knife. Reheat the remnants again and sponge off with rag and mineral turps. Repeat until all removed.

The recent coup d’etat in Fiji has demolished democracy in that island state. I guess that not many people are aware of the background of the the coup. Fijian indigenous people are almost a minority population in their own country. The 2007 census has Indigenous Fijians as 56.8%, Indians as 37.5% and others making up the rest of the population.

The British colonial masters brought the first Indians to Fiji in 1879 and over the following 37 years 61,000 others were brought in as indentured labour to work in the sugar industry. It has been said that the colonials didn’t employ native Fijians for fear that it would ‘destroy their way of life’, but it is more likely that the Indians were more used to such employment than Fijians.

Since those days, Indians have prospered and populated to the point where there has for many years been resentment and some racial discord. Indians own most of the businesses and (did) hold high positions in the Judiciary. The customs and religions of the two main groups differ so much that it sets them apart.

I know that if Australia ever had such a large influx of migrants of a single ethnic group, there would be much more trouble than there is in Fiji at the moment.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Booted for being gay

In our local giveaway newspaper there is a lead story about a gay bloke/guy who was accepted into a rented house as a housemate after he had disclosed that he was gay. I guess I could have (in an intoxicated moment) done the same. It turns out that the gay guy brought home a boy and did what they do. The tenant decide he didn't like that much and kicked the gay guy out. So now the gay guy is taking the bloke to court for discrimination against a person because of their sexual persuasion. I am guessing that there are some other factors involved here, which I shall leave to the imagination of the reader.

Here is our man with his new flatmate who doesn't discriminate against gays. Is this story a ploy to gain him some new friends?

The second story also relates to sex. A couple of very influential Catholic clergy, Cardinal Pell of NSW and Archbishop Hickey of Western Australia have backed the Pope in his knowledgeable wordliness suggesting that condoms are not the answer to Africa and indeed Papua New Guinea's AIDS epidemic. Bah, Humbug!

I must be joining the Grumpy Old Men when I get upset about sports reporters talking about courageous footballers. I thought courageous was a word reserved for firefighters, soldiers in battle and others who as part of their job faced real dangers.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Sculpture Walk 2009

Early this morning we went to Piney Lakes to catch the last day of the Sculpture Walk 2009. Piney Lakes is a beautiful area with nice paths around the lake and ponds. The sculptures were great. We took photos of all of them but here are my three favourites. In descending order the first one is Artificial Limb; the second is percussion water lilies (my name for this wonderful sound piece) and the third one is a Redback in a tree.

This Easter weekend I placed another two computers with university students. I am running out of monitors, so this evening drove to Mosman Park where the residents are getting rid of their junk in a verge collection starting tomorrow. These collections are usually called 'bring out your dead'. In the short time I cruised the Mosman Park streets I saw dozens of monitors (CRT monitors are definitely out these days) but alas I found only one that didn't have the video cord cut off. Some scroat has gone around salvaging what must now be 2c worth of copper wire and making the monitors useless for recycling for blokes like me. I guess I am the only person who is out looking for a CRT monitor...every with-it computer user has a flatscreen monitor now.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Red Cross Blood Bank

Joan and I gave blood this morning. It is Joan’s 61st donation. I am unsure of how many I have made because records haven’t been kept for donations starting back in the 50s.

The screening process is thorough…. questions about who you did it with and where; where you have visited and lived etc etc. With each new interviewer the Malaria thing comes up again. “Where did you contract Malaria; when and almost Why?’

The Blood Bank is run by the Red Cross with suitable government support along with support from lotteries and health funds. It must cost a fortune to run. The bags for whole blood donations cost around $30 and the bags for just plasma cost around $100. The machinery, specialist donor stations, the staff and the generous refreshments must make my 470ml of whole blood very expensive.

The woman who interviewed me asked if I wanted to donate plasma. I said I would, but then she suggested that as I was to have the big birthday (70) at the end of the year it was probably too late. Too late! 70 is not an age for one to be told it is too late!

Of course what she meant was that one can no longer donate after turning 70.

There was a bit of drama in the courtyard outside the bloodbank. It seems that someone had walked in and stolen a bicycle parked there by a donor. The receptionist noticed a footprint in the sand and called the cops. The poor cop was supposed to do a forensic job on the footprint and nab the wheely thief. He politely informed them that CIS is actually a fictional TV show and he couldn’t do much for them.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


I have a couple of passionfruit plants in large pots; one along a fence and the other climbing up a brick wall. The experts say that you cannot successfully grow passionfruit in pots, but as I have no bare soil where they get sun, they are in pots. Both vines are going great guns. They get plenty of water and feed, but only one of them is setting fruit. The fruiting vine produces lots of flowers with plenty of pollen. The other vine produces flowers, but no pollen?? I have trawled the net and a few other people are having the same problem, but nobody has come up with a solution. The usual answer is 'Rip them out and start again'. We have decided to let the non producer continue doing a good job of covering a fibro cement fence.

I heard of a good non-messy mulch for plant pots...champagne corks. We used to collect them for the Girl Guides fund raising efforts, but now most wine bottles are screw tops. The corks look good and we know that we are helping the Australian wine industry.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

1930 Proof Penny

On the 7.30 report on ABC television tonight there was an item about a 1930 Penny up for sale at an asking price of $2m. I remember as a kid back in the 40s and 50s checking every penny for the fabled 1930 one. The one that is up for sale is one of six proof coins produced by the Melbourne Mint. Other 1930 coins still bring a fair bit of money, but not in the league of this proof example.

The report made me think about all the pre-decimal coins of Australia. Almost all the coins and notes had common names....a threepenny coin was called a Tray; the sixpence was a Zak, the shilling was a Bob or a Deener. The two shilling Florin was called Two Bob; the ten shilling note was Ten Bob and the one Pound note was a Quid. I cannot recall the halfpenny or penny having names. Higher denominations didn't seem to have common names....probably because not many people regularly had them in hand.

Joan has just googled a discussion about pre-decimal coin names and their reputed origins. Quite interesting, but I believe the origin of Deener can be linked to WW1 and the Arabic dinar.

Our current decimal coinage and notes don't have popular common names. How strange!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Mulloway and smashed potatoes

Joan cooked a wonderful meal tonight. Smashed Potatoes and Mulloway. When I heard that she was cooking Mulloway I was a little skeptical. Mulloway is a large estuarine fish that anglers are happy to hook, but probably dig in under their rose bushes rather than eating.

The recipe goes like this.......Boil the spuds in their jackets, give them a bit of a smack to break them open then pop them in the oven at about 180c with a smear of butter, herbs and sea salt until they start to crisp up.
Fry the fish in a shallow olive oil and butter mix and serve the lot with a green salad. Yum!

I gave away a couple of computers today to people who are probably not at the bottom of the economic heap. I try to help needy people, but often the needy do not express their thanks and although it is my aim to help people, everyone needs satisfaction for what they are doing; especially if it is as a gift which involves time, effort and money.

I rang Graham, our friend from Sydney who stayed with us over a week recently. He is the quintessential wordsmith and it is only because he downgraded our accommodation rating to four stars ( due to a lack of bananas for breakfast and the lack of a hand-basin sink plug) that I have started looking seriously at his spelling in his emails to us. I did tell him that this is a little payback. I found two typos in his last two emails. Ha!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Scenes from an Italian Restaurant

Our house guest, Graham, left for Sydney at around 7.30am. As expected we were both awake from 4.45 am….the travel nervies! We headed off at 6am to Perth domestic airport taking just 30 minutes. An hour later and it would have taken an hour. His visit was most pleasant and I wondered whether at my age of 69+ we would meet up again.

Graham shouted us a meal at a local Italian restaurant last night. Joan had Veal Marsala. The last time she had that meal was about 30 years ago and tastes do change. She found it far too sweet for today’s taste. We had a large antipasto as an entree and it was really enough for me without the main of Spaghetti Marinara. I did the unthinkable and asked for a doggy bag. Might attack it tonight.

Around lunch time today I visited John in the nursing home and gave him a haircut and a shave. Whilst there another friend was visiting his wife who is bedridden. That is also a sad story. He wants her to go. I could not make a comment on that.

He saw me cutting John’s hair and asked if I could cut his, there and then, in the nursing home. I did a very quick job as I didn’t think the administration would care for me cutting the hair of visitors to their establishment. I didn’t get busted and I hope the cut wasn’t good enough that he will want more free haircuts.