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.