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.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Malice and Paranoia

In this morning's paper there is a reprint of an article in the Washington Post talking of the deep hate and paranoia of the extreme right wing in the U.S. It is frightening when Baptist Pastors in Californian and Arizona churches pray for Obama's death. Not just death, but consignment to hell!

I know that Australia's population is minuscule compared to that of the U.S.A., but I doubt that many Australians would wish death and destruction of the leader of an opposition party.

Obama's Health Bill has the freaks coming out of the woodwork. Maybe the protesters need to look at Australia and Britain to better understand that a little bit of socialism, when it comes to health care, is very good indeed.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Travel Insurance

Yesterday we were contacted by our travel insurer, HBF. They had decided what they would and wouldn't insure us for when we go on a cruise to Indonesia in January. The gal who talked to me advised that they were happy to insure me for high blood pressure (controlled with medication) and high cholesterol, also controlled, but they would not cover me for prostate cancer and Proteinuria (protein in the urine). Strange really, seeing that I had a radical prostatectomy 11 years ago and was given the all clear about five years back and the GP and a specialist have suggested no treatment for the level of protein in my urine!?

Joan got knocked back on Reynaud's Syndrome. Reynaud's is when during the cold months insufficient blood reaches the tips of the fingers making them temporarily white. A change of medication fixed that problem this year.

They didn't ask if we can walk well or likely to fall down a gangway and have to be flown home.

We watched the ABC program 4Corners last night and it reported on a NT Government initiative to have English alone taught in isolated schools in Aboriginal settlements rather than a mixture of English and indigenous languages. There were a few very dedicated teachers who had pioneered the multi-language approach and they and 4Corners seemed to suggest that the government had got it wrong and that unless the kids were taught their own language it would be lost forever.

Having taught in primary education in Papua New Guinea, I saw the use of English as the language of instruction, the only real way to reach proficiency in a short time. In PNG at the time I taught in primary schools, the parents and villagers spoke mostly their own language and so, the kids learnt their language as we learn ours...from our parents and surroundings. This is probably not the case with aboriginal kids in isolated outstations as most of their parents speak a crude form of English. Elders, could of course, run basic language lessons in the local indigenous language so that it is not lost.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Geraldton Senior High School

This morning we returned home after an over-nighter at the Vines Resort. The function was Joan's year 12, 50th anniversary and surprisingly most of the group turned up. The high school was Geraldton Senior High, one of only five senior high schools in the state at that time.

There were very amusing speeches and a commemorative booklet of the careers of each of the cohort. Almost every one of them did amazing things in a wide variety of careers. There were airline pilots, medicos, lots of teachers and administrators. I was very impressed and wondered where I had missed out. I guess the answer is intelligence. In the 1950s very few kids went on to year 12 and a Leaving Certificate....a Junior Certificate was the crème de la crème at Fremantle Boys School. The Junior Certificate got you into a bank job or an accountant's office. This group all graduated and mostly entered university. At 67+ years many of them are still employed. They plan another reunion in three years when most of them will be 70.

One fellow attended briefly because of major physical problems. Some six years ago his daughter's estranged husband knocked on his front door and shot him twice with a double barrelled shotgun, blasting most of his gut out and losing a knee. The gunman then shot himself.
He was fed through a tube for months whilst surgeons rebuilt him.

The resort was very swish and Kangaroos seem to like it too. There were lots of them out on the greens this morning.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Uncle Jay

I subscribe to 'Uncle Jay Explains the News' which is supposedly aimed at explaining the news to kids, but is a humorous take on the news mainly aimed at adults. I thought it wasn't too bad at all.

In a recent posting by 'Uncle Jay' I noticed an advert placed by the sponsor Google. I clicked on the ad and found the most amazing diatribe about the 'New World Order' in which Barack Obama, Javier Solana of the European Union, Prince Charles of Wales, Queen Beatrix of Netherlands and Prince Hassan of Jordan are all part of the Masonic Antichrist world plan. Wow!

If you want to get the lowdown on all these meanies you will need to purchase the document and of course you will need to get in early before the Antichrists have it taken off the WWW.

You can take a look at the teaser here.

I was surprised to say the least that Uncle Jay would have such an advert on his page and so wrote to him asking if he agreed with what the document said.....see here:

Hi, Kevin. The ads on my site are generated automatically by Google Ads, based on the words that the page contains. That sometimes results in some weird stuff.

No, I don't endorse everything that appears, and occasionally will block something that I think is inappropriate for the kids who follow my site. While I think that the ad you mention is a bit out there, I don't consider it something to block.

Uncle Jay

On Mon, Sep 7, 2009 at 7:47 PM, KevinLock <> wrote:

Name KevinLock Email City, State Western Australia Your Message I was surprised to see an advert on Uncle Jay's latest episode promoting a paper by headed Obama's New World Order.
Do you endorse the content therein?

I don't know whether I should give Uncle Jay a miss?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Westinghouse SweepEZE

I wrote about the auto vacuum dust bin our son gave me for Fathers' Day. It worked a treat when we initially opened the present and oohed and aahed over it as one does when given a pressie. Then yesterday I tried it again and the auto function failed to work. It is not a biggy....the broom can touch a manual button on the front of the machine and it certainly does suck the dust up.

On closer inspection there are two sensors near the vacuum mouth...I cleaned them with a tissue, but still no go. On the warranty brochure there is a 1 800 number so I settled down in a comfy chair expecting it to be a 45 minute adventure. Pleasant surprise! A human answered and put me straight through to a Tech. No recorded warning messages about the call being monitored for training purposes, no list of alternatives to press to get further into the bowels of customer assistance.....straight through!

The Tech bloke asked what the product was and I told him it was a Westinghouse SweepEZE. He confidently said...'So you're the bloke who bought that?' Funny; but not the usual conversation one has with customer service. He explained that they were long gone from the product lineup and that they didn't even have one to replace mine. He didn't have a solution as most products these days are not repaired merely replaced. I told him it wasn't a problem and we wished each other well and I hung up.

Strangely I came out of the whole thing feeling good. Actual voice contact and then a bloke with a sense of humour, even if the joke was on me.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Burmese immigrants

A few days ago I had a call from a Burmese student studying at Curtin University. He had heard about the free Mac giveaway I am doing and wanted one. He took away a nice eMac and was very pleased with himself. The next day another Burmese chap rang and also wanted to get one...another eMac gone. Then yesterday the word had filtered down through local Burmese families and a couple of women rang saying they wanted to 'attend my house to get two computers'.

When they arrived they were keen to tell me where they came from ....'Myanmar'....'Aung San Suu Kyi!'

They figured that we Australians didn't know where Burma is and I suppose that until the publicity about the long house arrest of the activist Aung San Suu Kyi (see here) most Australians didn't know too much about Burma. It was brought to the fore recently when a looney Yank swam across a lake to her house and just as she was due to be released the Junta used that as an excuse to charge her with a breach of her sentence. Looks as though she may be housebound for some time yet.

These is quite difficult to say Mayanmarese, are pleasant people who look as though they will fit nicely into Australian's multicultural society.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Fathers' Day

Fathers' Day yesterday saw our small family of 2+2 get together for a nice BBQ lunch and a few drinkies. Helen bought me a carton of boutique beer of different brands and Martin bought me/us an automatic dust bin. He knows that I like smart gear and although we probably wont use it very much, I must admit that it is very smart indeed. Plugged in and set to auto, the hausfrau merely sweeps dust and dirt towards the machine and it starts up and sucks it in.

I haven't been to the movies for a long time, probably a couple of years. When a callow youth, a bunch of the blokes would head into Fremantle on a Saturday night at the movies at either Hoyts or the Princess Theatre. My mate Don (Happy) Rowe started a little tradition of carefully looking at the credits and noting who the makeup artist for each movie was. None of us had any interest with makeup except that we did notice it on the fairer sex. The lineup of makeup artists included Willy Tuttle, Wally Westmore and Howard Smit. For some reason we were more fond of the name Willy Tuttle and when the credits were rolling we all managed to clap and cheer when Will Tuttle's name appeared.

Can't explain why we carried on about a makeup artist, but there again many of the ideas Happy came up with were off beat. We all loved Hap and he left us around 1972.

Reflecting on those picture show nights, the couple of us who owned motorcycles were easily identified by the black stains on our hands from the perishing rubber handlebar grips and the dull oil stain on the right foot shoe, due to the constant oil leaks on the gear change lever.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Drug contraindications

I take a couple of drugs for cholesterol…lipidil and Lipitor. When I filled a script a couple of days ago the Pharmacist asked me if I knew that that combination of drugs was contraindicated and could cause muscle pain and wastage. I was not aware of that, but the fact that I have had quite severe pains in my calves over about three weeks prompted me to seek an appointment with our GP.

One of the big no-nos with GPs is to front up with a printout from an Internet page which declares that the drug(s) he has prescribed is somehow dangerous. John, our GP, informed me that Pharmacists are wannabe doctors and one shouldn’t worry too much about what they say. He knew the story about contraindication with those two drugs, but informed me that I would have a better chance of winning lotto than having such a problem described. Never-the-less he did send me off to have a blood test to see if indeed there was a problem associated with the drugs.

Well, blow me down, if there wasn’t a news item on TV last night suggesting that studies in Tasmania show that Lipitor can cause muscle pain and wastage. I gave the Path. Centre some blood this morning so that they can tell me if I am OK or not.

Also this morning I visited John, our friend, in his lock-down nursing home. John has dementia and I don’t think he really knew who I was today. We sat out in the sun and I engaged him in conversation by asking questions about his family, his work (he still thinks he is a senior lecturer at a university) and anything else that I could think of. John responded to all my questions and suggestions, but beyond the first few words he wandered off the topic. I found it amazing that part of his brain has lost memory and what he is saying is jumbled and off topic, but his speech is well formed and in orderly sentences. Who knows how that all works?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The great beer heist

Tonight Joan cooked her steak and baked vegetable dish....wonderful!

The steak was butter fried beef Scotch fillet, very nice but the pièce de résistance was Joan's baked vegetables.

Mushrooms, zucchini, fennel, tomato and anything else in the vegie drawer of the fridge. They are sliced or chunked; spread out and sprinkled with sliced garlic, sea salt, olive oil and basil ( as in Faulty). Popped in the oven at 200c for about 30-40 minutes.

It goes down well with a glass of Belgium Hoegaarden beer. Unfortunately Hoegaarden is now in short supply as a local lad and his mate pinched 1349 cartons of the stuff worth around $34,000. See here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Rum Corp NSW

John Della Bosca the NSW Health Minister has resigned having been caught out having a bit on the side in Parliament House and at his Mum’s place. When a security guard asked for ID John chucked a wobbly and later told his gal to tell security that she was his niece. See, romance is not dead. "I don't know how he managed to do his job when he spent so much time with me," she said.

He copped it sweet and resigned. He will stay in parliament, but not as a minister.

Johnno’s dalliance is not unexpected as his wife, Belinda Neal is not a darling..more the harridan. They were both involved in what was called ‘Iguanagate’ a bit of a stoush at a restaurant. Read about it here.

John apparently told his younger lover that he would leave his wife for her, but I reckon he lost his nerve when he fronted his missus. Don’t know why?

Here is a pic of John and Belinda filched from the SMH.