Wednesday, July 29, 2009

possessing a smoking implement

A couple of days ago there was a newspaper report about a police raid on a Meth Lab in the Perth suburbs. A woman was arrested and charged on a series of charges, one of which was ‘possessing a smoking implement’. I really don’t know how the law works on this one. There are literally dozens of stores selling smoking implements around the city and suburbs, but the sale of these implements is not deemed to be illegal; just if you have one in your possession?????

Yesterday I did a computer collection from three sources and got some very nice machines. One place I went to was a residence in the northern suburb of Ballajura. It is a very nice area and in front of the house I visited is a lake of what looks like about 10+ hectares in area. It is a very attractive outlook for the surrounding dwellings.

Every household in W.A. with a backyard swimming pool has to register it with the local council and regular inspections are made by council officials. Special childproof locks and fences ensure that kids cannot easy have access to the water and possibly drown. Our pool in Bicton was regularly inspected and we had to make some modifications to security over the years, but when we tired of swimming and converted it into a large pond, council informed us that we no longer had to stay on the register and security was not an issue. I figured that every council has small lakes within their areas and to fence them off would be very expensive and certainly look crappy. And so that is how we had an unregistered pool/pond without inspections. Crazy??

Yesterday’s newspaper also had an interesting article about some students (boys) getting expelled from a Baptist College quite close to where we live. It seems that on a school camp, the lads took along a joint and several boys had a toke. The word got out and the lads were sacked. Parents of the boys appeared on TV saying that the treatment was harsh and one fellow suggested that if they really were Christians they would forgive the boys and reinstate them. It seems that each student enrolling at the college signs a contract of behaviour and as in a TV game show….’dope is on the list’.

I taught all my teaching career in government schools and have always felt that private schools take the kids from wealthy families and if those kids muck up, toss them out and they have to return to a government school. Government schools can only expel a child for the most serious repeat offences. Perhaps government should legislate to force private schools to take a percentage of bogans in their cohort. For non-Australians; Bogans are rude and rough rednecks.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Bugs Bunny 1940

Today is the day in 1940 that Bugs Bunny made his debut. His trademark 'eh what's up Doc?' is said to have been inspired by Groucho Marx. I recently saw a Bugs Bunny cartoon and he seems to have found the elixir of life looking better than he originally looked in 1940.

In the Inside Cover of today's West Australian newspaper there is a small article about John Ryan the creator of Pugwash. It's a good read.....
Click it to enlarge.

Our daughter Helen has had her car window smashed in for the third time in three years. The area she lives in is very popular especially with the villains. During the day, groups of lads wearing the Hip Hop gear cruise the suburb surveying the layout of the place and returning at night to brazenly break and enter cars in parking areas. It seems that even when an alarm goes off, residents of the units where Helen lives are too scared to confront the villains. The bad boys don't bother rushing the job; one resident had the battery stolen from under the bonnet.

Helen's car is a Mazda 626 which someone imported from Britain when they emigrated. The VIN (vehicle Identification Number) doesn't tally with anything in the Mazda Australia lineup and we are having some difficulty identifying the correct window glass. I emailed Mazda Australia, but they say they cannot help in finding the appropriate VIN for Helen's car. I would think it would be quite simple for them to email Mazda Japan...but it would seem not.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Human Pampillomavirus

Well, things are-a-changing! In this morning’s ABC news there was a report about the possible need to vaccinate young men for the HPV (Human Pampillomavirus) This announcement didn’t make me choke on my Wheaties, but when Joan told me that for HPV, young females can get a free vaccination to prevent the virus and that a free vaccination for young men to prevent mouth infection was being considered because of ‘changing mores’, I admit to coughing a bit. Don’t fully understand the implications? Google HPV.

Another snippet from this morning’s West Australian. The Leader of the Opposition, Malcolm Turnbull made the following comment about a fellow Liberal Senator, Wilson (Iron Bar) Tuckey.
Wilson, the Federal Member for O’Connor, is the only comic relief in Federal Parliament since Keating opted out. He is a silly old man who earned the title of Iron Bar for donging an aboriginal fella with a bit of pipe. His own party is embarrassed by him, but I reckon they keep him there on a long lead to act up like a junk yard dog. Rumour has it that he aims to be ejected from the House on Thursdays so that he can catch an early plane back home to W.A.

Our son Martin leaned on us again for monetary assistance to get a paining tooth looked at. He joined HBF, the state’s largest medical fund, and we paid the dentist the $220 up front for an extraction. Must have taken all of ten minutes. Martin wanted the dentist to repair and rebuild the tooth, but he was informed that it was a root canal job which would end up costing thousands. He went for the extraction, not because of the money involved in a reconstruction, but I believe, because of those words….ROOT CANAL.

HBF will refund him (us) 60% of the $220, so it isn’t too bad. When I drove him to the dentist I introduced him to Oil of Cloves and he was amazed that the pain immediately vanished. Some grannies’ remedies do work!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Albany, Western Australia

Today I made contact with a liaison officer from the Albany City Council who is to facilitate the installation of a few Mac computers at the Noongar Centre. This centre is catering for aboriginal youth in the south of W.A. where there have been a number of suicides.

I am unsure if computers will be the panacea, but they cannot but do some good to keep kids busy and entertained. We are prepared to travel south some 410 kilometres to install the machines and give basic instructions on their use. Albany is a lovely historic town which unfortunately has no need for a sunglasses is mostly grey and overcast. Photos when and if we go South.

Tonight on ABC television there was a nice look back at the role of goats in early Australian history.

It reminded me of my foray into goats when we lived in Papua New Guinea. Each time we drove to the coast from Maprik to Wewak in the Sepik district, we saw goats in the coconut plantations near Wewak. I decided that the school should have goats and we could get real milk rather than the terrible Tetra Packs of LongLife milk available at the time. I decide to buy a small herd of 15 goats and had them transported to the school. Wrong!!!

They were not welcomed by the Agriculture Department and they would not give me any assistance when the first goat succumed to bloat. Bloat is a gaseous condition caused by consumption of young fodder creating a fermentation in the rumen. The only advice that I received was a combination of 'Kill em all!' and from a kindly Ag. Officer...'shove a screwdriver in its rumen to let the gas out' . I couldn't do the screwdriver surgery, so drenched the goat with peanut oil which stopped the fermentation.

The goat problem was solved soon after, by striking students who were unhappy about billy goats urinating over their mess tables. Goats were sold and I cannot imagine why we didn't eat them. Many things I have done could have been done better.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Nursing homes

This morning I visited our friend John in his nursing home. I don’t think he really knew who I was. I took him a pack of Ferrero Roche chocolate which he seems to enjoy. We were sitting at a dining table with a couple of other ‘inmates’ and I offered one to each of them. The man sitting opposite me stared blankly at me and didn’t take up the offer and a lady who turned out to be completely blind informed me that she doesn’t like chocolate, so John had the job of finishing of the packet.

The dining room as lunch time approached is the place to get a good idea of most of the semi-mobile people in the nursing home. I expect that most of them have names given by the staff. There is one woman who for 17 months that John has been in care has been incessantly yelling out ‘help me, help me!’, punctuated by ‘get me a cup of tea’. It must drive the rest of them…….?

There are two students from the nearby Iona Presentation College doing their work experience/community service gig. They both looked shocked by what they were confronted with. Today was their first day and I guess that they, like us, hope we don’t end up locked away sitting out our time left playing bingo etc. Most of the patients are past playing games such as bingo and I noticed a board with ‘sounds like’ words ……prance, dance; France etc. I didn’t see anyone there who would be gung ho at such exercises. Most people don’t even watch TV.

Whilst there are plenty of staff there, some of the patients are not well looked after. Quite a few came to lunch with food stains around their mouths and sleep in their eyes.

One visitor is a fellow I know who visits his wife there. In front of her he moaned that they are feeding her a supplement to keep her alive. ‘I want her to die and get it over with’ he told John’s wife a couple of days ago. He had previously told me that he had tipped her supplement down the drain. Ouch!

No nice photos with this post.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Madang, Papua New Guinea

I am subscribed to PNG Gossip, a free weekly newsletter of news and events from Papua New Guinea. One of the articles provided a link to a blog by an American bloke living in Madang. It is very interesting to me as there seems to be a large expatriate population in Madang and with that a reasonable social life. I worked in Madang in 1964 and it truly was a beautiful place. It seems to have lost a lot of the public works infrastructure and so doesn’t seem to be running as efficiently as it did in ‘colonial’ times.

Take a look at Jan Messersmith’s blog here......especially the main photo.

The Tour de France is still running (or riding) and I confess I don’t understand the whole thing. What I do know however, is that they must have more meat on their bums than I do.

Here is a pic of the 1942 Tour de France.

This morning we drove to Joondalup to look at a car for sale. It was advertised for sale for $1850. It is a Mazda 929, 1992 model. We have owned two of these cars in the past and I thought it might be a nice restoration project for Kev. It had a few 'dings' in the bodywork, the leather seats were a bit too tattered and the paintwork was very daggy. As well as that there were a few ghostly electrical problems where some things worked randomly. The airconditioner was also not functioning. The idea was sound, but the costs looked like being too much for me. I will continue to look for a better car at a more realistic price.

Class car with 4 wheel steering; electric everything. See here.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Old style divorce

A right wing Federal politician, Tony Abbott, has just outlined his idea for the great leap backwards to blame-game divorces. Read about it here.

When I was a young fella, some 50 years ago, I was a member of a group of Rover Scouts who would often go on a group outing to the movies on a Saturday night. One of our group would buy the scandal rag 'The Mirror' for pre-movie reading. The paper would be divided up amongst us and the hunt was on to find the juiciest divorce scandals the 'journos' could dredge up. In every issue there would be a photo of some hapless couple caught in bed in a hotel room or a car parked down by the river along with the detailed evidence brought before the divorce courts. At the time it was a taboo subject in polite society, but it took another 18 years before the state government changed the terms of divorce proceedings.
Now our Tony, being a God Fearing man, wants to bring it all back. Often these rabid moralists have a few skeletons in their cupboards. Does Tony?

I have been liasing with a lady from the W.A. Justice System arranging for a computer to be given to a 22 year old Aboriginal man who is at present in Hakea Prison. I have not asked what he is in prison for, but his mentor is hopeful that he will be bailed by next Monday and able to return home to his partner and five children. If he gets out of the big house I will deliver a computer and instruct him on its use. He is not of low intelligence, but as can be the case with many young aboriginal men, school was not a pleasant or important part of life and he has very basic communication skills. Could be a big ask to get him computer literate.

He has been enrolled in an Aboriginal educational program and has hopes of getting employment. I wish him every success, but he will be up against many other young people with better qualifications and communication skills. At least he will be getting government assistance for all his kids. It is very difficult to sift through the government documents, but it would seem that each child born gives the family a $5,000 cash benefit and a steady ongoing income for the family along with the unemployment benefits and rent assistance. Not too bad eh?

Monday, July 13, 2009

MasterChef Australia

Since my friend Paul recommended the TV ‘reality’ show MasterChef we have watched a couple of episodes with interest. I am not into reality shows and the ones that I have looked at as I do the remote flip around the channels all seem to follow a similar formula. There is always a contestant who is selected to be the unlikeable. There are the unlikely winners and the pretty gals.

We enjoyed the show and will continue to watch it in its final week. Far less contrived is the ABC cooking show…..The Cook and the Chef .

In the last few days in Bali we watched an Australian woman have an Indonesian cooking lesson in the hotel. The actual lesson went for over an hour, which was preceded by an early morning escorted buying foray in a local fresh food market. She had a chef and about three assistants helping her through chicken and two fish saté; one white Tuna and one red Tuna and a side dish of Gado Gado. She learnt how to make the peanut sauce and to top it all off made coconut and palm-sugar pancakes.

It looked great and there was a huge amount of which the bulk was packaged up and given to Balinese friends in a beach market.

The cost of this extravaganza….
RP100,000 (about A12.50) for the lesson and around RP70,000 (about A$8.55) for all the ingredients.

Obviously a PR effort on the part of the hotel – that wouldn’t have paid the wages of the instructors.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

ABC television Four Corners

On Monday evening the ABC program Four Corners did a hatchet job on Western Australia's St. John's Ambulance Service. Much of what Four Corners dredged up was valid criticism of the service. There were interviews with families of people who had died due to bungles in emergency calls and dispatching of ambulances. The almost one hour show finished up with a clip of a hearse at a funeral. They were a bit cheap and used a file clip of a hearse with a NSW number plate.

In today's newspaper there was a letter to the editor from a woman who told of her husband's painful terminal illness who wished that euthanasia was legal to stop such suffering. Once again Dr Phillip Nitshke, the euthanasia advocate was mentioned. The editor of the letters page added a photograph of Dr Nitshke with a nasty judgemental title. Judgement on this will depend on whether you are a 'Right to Lifer', but I personally think the editor is a rat.
Our National food, Vegemite, has taken a turn for the worst with the introduction of a Kraft engineered mutation. It is good old plain vegemite with cream cheese mixed in. Did not they remember when CocaCola tried to revamp the traditional coke? Dismal failure; as I predict this also will be. The bottle of the new 'stuff' comes without a name and there is a space for you to write in what you wish to call it. I have already done that on our jar.
Our friend John is getting a bit anti-social in his nursing home. His wife, Joy, has been told that he is getting a little aggresive with furniture etc. Eventually he will have to be medicated more to calm him down. The alternative is not viable or nice: restraining equipment.
Until you have family or friends in this situation, nursing homes are looked upon as the domain of evil nurse Ratchett from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. In actual fact the management of dementia patients is a complex and difficult task with weighty moral issues at stake. I have no solutions...that is the way it is. We hope that we can die at home still with all our marbles as did our parents, and if necessary with the help of someone like Dr Nitshke.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Michael Jackson

Well, the Michael Jackson thing is almost over...just a few more weeks of burials, autopsy reports and custody battles. I am not a Jackson fan, but I do remember some of his hits...not too bad, but not so good that he should be accorded God status. One thing is good about all this, his kids are seen without their faces covered. They don't look at all like Jackson and they certainly don't look mixed race. That being said, if he raised them, he is entitled to be called their father.

Cleaning up the computers I am preparing as give-aways, I have a not so good job of cleaning the keyboards. This means taking the keys off the boards and removing all the hair, biscuit crumbs and coffee stains and cleaning all the keys and the boards with alcohol. It takes some time and I need another keyboard alongside me to refit the keys in their correct places. When I was doing relief teaching I noticed that some of the bored students amused themselves by removing keyboard keys and replacing them in different spots. Most frustrating for two-finger typists!

I guess I can understand how computer operators can mess up a keyboard. When I am reading a book I usually tug away at my eyebrows and end up with pages of hairs needing a shake out. Personally, I am a clean nut and wouldn't think of eating and drinking over a keyboard.

Take a look at this baby with enough crumbs etc to feed half a dozen finches.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

China's Urumqi

There are a few problems in China's North Western city of Urumqi. From what I can deduce, the minority Muslim population has been swamped by Han Chinese; somewhat similarly to Tibet. The Uighur Muslims have obviously seen the Tibetans get a bit aggressive and have followed suit. Next will probably be Muslim brotherhood support rallies in Middle Eastern and South East Asian countries. Is there another Crusade in the offing?

The Chinese government has done the Big Brother act, cutting off internet access to the province.

Another Big Brother act is being played out in a country just north of Aus. A fellow blogger who is a volunteer in that country had made some observations about recent anti-Asian riots there and was 'asked' to shut down his blog. I am unsure if that request was made by government or merely a very nationalistic national working at the ISP the blogger uses.

He hopes that it will blow over and he can get back to restoring his most interesting blog about a country I spent some ten years teaching in during its latter developing stages.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Yankee Invasion

I have been watching the AFL match between the eastern states bullies and our Dockers. Dockers??? Dockers is an American word for waterfront workers which was never used here. Wharfies was the term used here, but I guess that doesn't sound as good as Dockers.

There are around 6000 US Navy sailors in town on R&R. I think R&R means Root & Rehydrate.
I wonder what they make of Australian football if they are watching in a pub somewhere in Perth. No helmets, no padding just footy shorts and a jumper...and a mouth guard. Not like that sissy Gridiron!

I went for a drive around the suburb of Bicton this afternoon as they have a 'Bring out your dead' collection on this week. I was hoping to collect a few computers to salvage the RAM (memory sticks) for my Mac donation project. No luck! There are stereos, TVs, microwave ovens, furniture etc but not a single computer. I belong to an internet list called WAMUG.....the Macintosh User Group of W.A. so I put out a request for old RAM that would suit the machines I have. I had several replies with the prospect of getting about ten sticks of RAM of significant size. Thanks WAMUG. The RAM for the latest machines is relatively cheap, both new and secondhand, but the older stuff, PC133, is still very expensive.

Our daughter Helen is teaching full time at a school in the northern suburbs on a six month contract (two terms). She has just received a letter from Education Department staffing saying that she has been terminated and will have to apply for her own position again during the school holidays. Say what???? She has a contract for the two terms. No need to panic though as the Principal and Deputy Principal at the school also got terminated at the same time. They have assured her that they will sort it out. I wonder if they would have been as keen to help if they weren't in the same boat. The Education Department couldn't organise a pissup in a brewery! A couple of years ago a friend who teaches science in a city school got her first pay slip for the year informing her that she was a gardener at a school in the south of the state. It took about a month to sort that one out.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Warm Bali-cold Perth

We have been three days back from Bali...warm Bali! A friend in NSW once said that he was going to live in Tasmania so that he could truly experience the four seasons. He has since changed his mind. We couldn't live in a place that has a minus number in the temperature.

We gave blood today. We were supposed to give yesterday and forgot. It is not a bad experience and it gives a warm satisfying feeling as a donor.

Since we have been back, there have been several requests for computers and today I will get back on the job configuring machines to individual needs. The cold weather has a hibernating effect on me. The machines given to me by a printing establishment are quite fast and powerful. They are mainly eMacs @ 1.25ghz with 'superdrives'; CD/DVD read/write. I label them as I finish setting them up, but often don't trust myself and have to crank them up again to verify what I have actually loaded on them.

Enough ramblings for today!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Tuesday and Wednesday-Bali and Perth

We are in the Garuda departure lounge at Denpasar Airport. We got through Immigrasi and customs with no sweat, however the usual departure tax had been hiked up to RP150,000 and Joan had done her efficient calculations of what Rupiah we needed based on RP130,000. We had to go back and change a few bucks at an airport rate to get the correct amount to present to the unsmiling.

Sitting in the lounge I reflected on a couple of things about our visit…….

Yesterday whilst having a foot massage on the beach we were enjoying the balmy breeze at about 26c whilst the locals mostly wore sweaters and jackets and complained about the cold.

Bali is a place where nobody looks askance at me piling chilli sauce on my breakfast.

When Joan was packing to leave this morning she noticed that a small umbrella which was in an unlocked pocket of our main case had disappeared…..baggage handlers.

When we arrived at Denpasar airport from Australia we were second off the aircraft but waited at the baggage carousel until everyone had collected theirs and figured that ours went to Singapore or some other destination. I was about to do a Rumple Stiltskin and stomp through the floor, when a bloke yelled out..’Mr Lock?’ The bastard had grabbed our bag and put it on his trolley and was expecting us to be happy about him trying to scam us. I grabbed the bag without comment.

In the airport there are probably a hundred stores selling everything imaginable. There are at least a half dozen watch stalls selling expensive watches. I mean, who would believe that the watch you bought in Bali was a real one! We bought a bottle of Vodka for daughter Helen because it was much cheaper than the duty free stores at Perth Airport.
We did notice that Australian wine which sells for around A$13 RRP was selling for US$28. Nice mark up!


Helen collected us and we came home to a cold house. I went and bought fish and chips and that went down very nicely.

This morning’s newspaper had a front page story about a Garuda plane coming into Perth, trying to land on a runway which was under repair (twice). The pilots didn’t read their airport briefing properly and had to go around twice until they were talked down. I am not surprised that some pilots have problems with English. When our man talked to us on the plane we could hardly understand what he was saying.