Saturday, January 30, 2010

Aliens take over the world

Yesterday Joan went to the cancer clinic to get the pump removed and the PICC line flushed. She dropped me off in the city where I met up with a friend for a counter lunch and a few beers. Pete was on the same teacher training course as me in Papua New Guinea in 1961 and we have kept in contact over the years. He is back in Perth from his teaching job in Vietnam.

Nice crisp beers and a pleasant seafood lunch .

It was a pleasant get-together until he moved on to the 'Aliens' in the last half hour at the pub. He told me how all the technological advances of the last 20 years were done by the aliens and the next two years would be unbelievable. I asked why 2012? He explained that all the calendars of the world will finish in 2012. There is a theory that the Mayan calendar finishes in 2012 and the world will end. Can't find any other calendars finishing in 2012 and Mayans sort of caved in to the Spaniards.

He also mentioned that the TV series Stargate where people lept through a ring and time travelled was used by the Germans in WW2. Hmm!

He told me that the aliens have space ships 15 miles long and two miles wide . I reminded him that he had told me of his astral travels on such a space ship when he visited us during the 1990s. He refuted that saying that it was someone else, not him???

When I came back from the toilet he said that he remembers talking about another friend who had astral travelled on such a space ship and maybe I had thought that he was referring to himself. At the time when he told me about his travels, he rushed out to the kitchen to tell Joan about it as well.

In Papua New Guinea in 1961 news was spread far and wide about an imminent total eclipse. The Australian administration tried to explain what was to happen, but confusion reigned and most villagers go the message from fundamentalist preachers that the world would end when the darkness came. Throughout the country, villagers killled and ate their pigs etc, stopped gardening and generally waited for the end. And to back up the theory, it actually least the darkness part.

It is easier to see how a primitive people could believe such a prophesy which actually happened on the predicted day. There was a period of hardship after the event when villagers realised they had no food to carry on with.

I can understand that, but aliens and spaceships.....nah!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

At last, some good news

First bit of good news yesterday. Joan commenced the third round of chemo and a CT scan showed reduction in liver tumour size which wasn't expected at this stage.

At least this shows that she is in the 42% of recipients who get good benefit from chemo.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Round three chemotherapy

We are off to the cancer ward again today. First we see the oncologist and he will let us know how things are going (we hope) and with luck he could tell us that the tumours are reducing in size. We are not sure about that as this latest CT scan may just be a base marker for the trial. We were told not to expect any significant improvement at this stage.

After the consultation, Joan starts round three of chemo and I will collect her around 6pm.

I have been collaborating with a couple of welfare people setting up computers for indigenous people. All the other machines I have previously given to people are given ready to go with basic instructions on the Mac operating system. This new collaboration is somewhat different with me actually travelling around the Perth Metro area and setting up their internet connection. I am not really into that part and I try and get the new owners to select an ISP and let the ISP talk them through connecting to the WWW. Mostly it doesn't seem to be working and I am the fall guy who has to do more thinking than a 70 year-old should have to do. I will have to rethink things before I stress out.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mining towns

I finally finished setting up a Mac computer with a wireless connection to the WWW for an elderly Aboriginal lady. I took her deceased husband's slow PC in an attempt to download any documents and personal data which she may be interested in. He had tied things up fairly well with hidden password protection and it seems that he hasn't left those password details in the usual little black book in a desk drawer. Not a big problem, as he passed away over three years ago and there is no current stuff on the machine.

A good friend visited yesterday. He is on annual leave from his position as Deputy Principal at a Senior High School in a large mining town in the north of Western Australia. He is one of three deputies at the school and his role is as Deputy of Discipline. He told some harrowing tales of fights and out of control kids and parents. During his holiday period he had to fly back north twice to be a witness at court cases involving students and parents.

This mining town is awash with money from high wages. The students whose parents work on the minesite have pocket money to burn and don't bother to collect change at the school canteen. Rent is astronomical....$3,000 per week for a 3 BR house! My mate lives in a house bringing in $2,500 per week for its owner. Fortunately the Education Dept. subsidises his rent and he pays only $250. per week. Houses that would sell for $350-400,000 in the city sell for $1.5M.

My friend has met a young Indian man who works on the minesite. Before he arrived in Australia he was working for the equivalent of $0.90 a day. He now has a mining job earning $90.00 per hour. He owns two houses pulling in lots of cash.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Today has been quite busy with friends visiting and 4 computers collected by an Aboriginal gal who redistributes them mainly to family. I don't mind that as they are getting out there and she is Mac savvy, so that means any problems are fielded by her. I remind myself to Give Without Expectations.

Our friends, Brian and Marg, dropped in and stayed for lunch. Very pleasant visit!

I returned to the Optus shop to purchase a wireless modem for Vera, the Aboriginal lady I am helping get back online. She has no real experience on the computer and so rather than try an resurrect her ancient (10 YO PC), I am setting up a Mac with a cheapo wireless deal. Her machine sat idle for three years after her husband died and we don't know his password etc, so I thought it better that I give her a much faster Mac and I can get her up to speed on its use.

I told her that I would pay for it and she could reimburse me the $199. Not so easy! I had to have my credit rating checked, sign up as the contract holder and I guess, be the bunny if she eventually defaults after the one year contract is up. I am sure there is a way to transfer the billing to her letting me off the hook.

Th $199 deal includes the modem and 12 months of 1Gb of downloads per month. Any excess on the 1Gb is charged @ $o.06 per Mb. She is only going to use it to keep in contact with friends throughout Australia and maybe the occasional search with Google, so 1Gb should be plenty.

I will attempt to collect all the personal data from the PC and burn it to disk.

Whilst at Garden City Shopping Centre I noticed that the music store was closed and a note on the door read BACH IN 5 MINUTES. I was going to wait to see him, but I am sure he died long ago.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Biami people of PNG

Having taught in Papua New Guinea for almost ten years spanning the early 1960s to Independence in 1975, I have an insatiable interest in all things PNG.

A couple of days ago I found a YouTube video which is part of a David Attenborough documentary called ' A Blank in the Map'. That segment dealt with a 1968 patrol into what was then new territory and was indeed a 'first contact' with the Biami people. None of the Biami spoke the lingua Franca, Pidgin English (Tok Pisin), English or any other common language.

During the 'conversation' between the two groups; the Biami and the government patrol, Attenborough pointed out the universal human facial expressions and gesticulations with which the Biami used to communicate. Interesting...not surprising, but interesting.

Well worth a look here.

Joan is scheduled for a CT scan this Thursday.We should get some positive feed-back the following week when we see the oncologist again.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Joan's oncologist adjusted the anti-nausea medication and this round of chemotherapy has had no bad effects. Good stuff!

We have lots of small spiders outside and inside the house. I can handle the outside dwellers, but the inside ones seem hell-bent on giving me the poos. I can't see how they can possibly think..(do they think?)...that a single silk thread across a doorway could catch any insects. It certainly catches me and I find it very annoying. In the ten years living in Papua New Guinea we saw many wonderful spiders and I didn't spray a single one, but these little Kev annoyers get the Mortein treatment.

Here is a picture of a pretty spider from Madang New Guinea from a blog named Madang-ples bilong mi which translates as Madang my place. You will need very good screen resolution to see this pic in detail.

Australia Day is coming up and already the tradies and patriots are flying the Australian flag (made in China) on their cars. Most of them wouldn't have even heard of Nuremberg, but to me this ultra patriotism smells of nationalism on a grand scale. I don't like it.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Six degrees of separation

Early today I went to the local shopping centre and the optical dispenser where I get my glasses. I had broken one of the wings off my unscratched pair of glasses and the lady there offered to replace it with another wing even though it was not exactly the same as the original. I went for it as I figure that you can have different wheel trims on each side of a car without people being able to see both sides at one time and glasses can be the same. Works for me!

Whilst in the shopping centre I scooted into BigW and bought two Tshirts for $8 each. Joan was unkind when she pointed out the fact that the pockets on the shirts don't line up with the print pattern. I reckon I couldn't find the pocket if it blended into the pattern.

In the afternoon, I had a welfare woman take me to the home of an Aboriginal elder who wanted to restart using her husband's computer not used since his death three years ago. She has been paying a monthly ISP fee to Telstra Bigpond for all that time without any use whatsoever. Aussies hear this...Bigpond is bad! I was asked to check out the computer and try and find why she cannot connect. I sat down, cranked up the machine and the User Name popped up as John Budby. I was amazed as I knew John when we both taught at Maprik, Papua New Guinea in the early 70s. Joan taught with John at Maprik High School. John's wife Vera was delighted that I knew her late husband and it brought on a few tears.

The computer will need another session before it is up and running and there might be a few telephone lessons on its operation.

Old Yiddish New York saying 'A nickel will get you on the subway, but garlic will get you a seat'.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

2nd round Chemo

Today Joan starts the second round of Chemotherapy. We have to be at the oncologist's rooms at 1pm and after an assessment of the blood test done yesterday, she will start the four hours infusion of what Joan calls the weed killer. The pump will be attached and deliver the remaining 100ml of the chemo slowly over 46 hours.

I will collect her around 6pm.

I wrote to the organisers of a 50 year reunion of PNG teachers to be held in May saying that it is unlikely we could attend, but Joan has since done all the calculations and if she can control the nausea, there is a window of 4-5 days at the time of the reunion and we will go. It is in Brisbane and we have enough Qantas frequent flier points to get return cattle-class fares. We'll see how successive rounds go.

Whilst I am killing time until 6pm I am going to a viewing of a large auction starting tomorrow. There are few Mac items up for bids and I may try and get a MacBook for our daughter.

Earlier this morning I visited John at the nursing home. He was up and about and I had to do a tour of the home to find him. Let me tell you; to visit or work in a nursing home as residents start to greet the new day would be extremely difficult if one had a weak stomach. He didn't know who I was and took some coercing to get him to sit for a haircut. Usually he is more responsive to suggestions and attempts to converse. Today nothing! Most probably his early morning medications have an initial numbing effect. There was no point in just sitting with him and he was unaware that I left.

Head, ears and eyebrows and he looked much better. I'm not yet able to tackle the nostrils.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Proposition

Last night I watched an Australian movie on ABC1. Brilliant! It is named The Proposition. Set in the Australian outback in the 1880s. It is a real shocker!

Lifted from TripleJ Film reviews is this excerpt....." It is filled with uncompromising violence, compromised morals and an unflinching look at the racism and class exploitation - the horror - Australia was founded on. There is no romance here.

Movies don't come much better than this.

5 stars."

Get it out and be entertained; horrified, shocked or drained (strike out that which does not apply).

Today I had a visit from a welfare person and a young (16yo) Aboriginal girl who came to collect a lapbook to help her in her new venture as an Aboriginal artist. Her parents haven't talked with her for several years, she has a (lovely) eight month old baby and welfare are securing accommodation for her. Despite those difficulties she is bright and outgoing. A couple of years ago she found that she had painting skills and has been encouraged to combine them with traditional ideas in contemporary paintings. She has sold quite a few to prominent people.

The machine I gave her is a bit slow, but she was obviously over the moon about getting it. She gave me a couple of her miniatures as a gift.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Australian Bush Flies

Last night we celebrated out 44th wedding anniversary by going for a meal with my brother and sister. We went Chinese to a restaurant we have been to a few times before. Usually an indication of how good a Chinese restaurant is by observing the number of Chinese Australian patrons seated. Last night as we were seated, it was obvious that there were no Chinese people there. Oh Oh! It turned out to be excellent food and service at a very reasonable price. Better still, my bro and sis paid for the meal!

The fly season here in Western Australia. The flies are much worse than in previous years and that is put down to the lack of Spring Dung Beatles. The government needed to shell out $700,000 to import them from Spain. The Minister for flies reckons that they are not a good deal and didn't get them in time for spring. Hope he tries to have a BBQ at his place with lots of guests. Check out Dung Beetles here.

Some facts about Australian Bush Flies..

*They have small but smart brains.
*They wait until the victim has both hands full carrying things before heading up a nostril.
*Only farmers and politicians on TV can ignore them.
*Only old ex-farmers can catch them in their hands.
*The new breed of fly doesn't go for flypaper strips.
*Amateur fishermen stab themselves when attacked by flies when filleting fish down the back yard. ( I made that 'fact' up)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Married 44 good years

It is 44 years ago today that Joan and I were married. We are hoping to be able to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary.

I have been given the task of giving Joan a daily injection of Clexane which is supposed to fight the blood clots in her lungs. Fortunately the needle is very fine, probably a third of a millimetre in diameter. It is administered subcutaneously in the stomach. Unfortunately though it makes Joan prone to bruising and the area where I inject is black with bruising.

I have injected myself before. Once in Papua New Guinea I had to give myself a course of injections of Procaine Penicillin. PC is quite viscous and needs a large diameter needle which as I remember, was around 2.5mm in diameter. Ouch!!

My sister is up in Fremantle from her home in Esperance. She is staying at our brother Graham's house this time and we are all going out for a Chinese meal tonight.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Dutchman's Pipe creeper

This morning early I was out watering the garden and had a rethink about the 'Dutchman's Pipe' (Aristolochia spp) creeper near my vegie garden. I know that it is a killer plant, it nearly strangled a nearby Bauhinia tree ( I should have let it have its way on that one) before I untangled its stranglehold on the tree.
The flower is very attractive and resembles a smoking pipe (you remember them don't you?). It is very attractive to butterflies especially the Queensland Richmond Birdwing Butterfly. The Birdwing lays its eggs on the creeper and the larvae are poisoned by the toxic plant.

So, I reckon it has to go. Some pics....

A couple of days ago I had a call from a friend who went through Teachers' College with me in 1961. He is teaching English as a foreign language in Vietnam. I don't know why, because he is financially secure with a large riverside house here in Perth. We had an hour long conversation which ended fairly suddenly when he started telling me about the aliens. These aliens aren't the people who front up to Australia's shores on a boat; these aliens are from another planet. He told me that they have caused all the recent wars, also brought about the recent financial crisis and have control over Barack Obama. We wouldn't recognise them amongst us, but they control everything.

In 2012 they will invade the earth and take control. They will be benevolent and will not harm us, but fix everything. Everyone will have wealth and happiness.

He is in Aus. for a month and I have agreed to meet for a pub lunch and a few drinks. I agreed to this before the aliens were mentioned. He is an intelligent man.

I was reminded of his mistrust of the Rosicrucians even back in 1961. They were trying to control the world's economies. The Rosicrucians, along with the Masons et al come in for a fair bit of muck from the conspiracy theorists, who by and large, seem to be rednecks.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Queen Victoria Building

Joan woke this morning feeling quite well, but that soon changed and nausea came back. At the moment she is feeling reasonable and relaxing with a book. She is an avid reader and even when feeling sick, I see a smile on her face as she enjoys her book.

I subscribe to Shorpy and get a daily dose of historic photographs, mainly of the U.S., going back over 100 years. This morning one of the pics was of the Cleveland Arcade taken in 1901 and later in 1966. It is a magnificent building remarkably like the Queen Victoria Building in Sydney. I guess it was an architectural style of the 1890s.

The QV Building in Sydney town is on four levels and very upmarket indeed. Luckily saved from the wreckers ball in the early 1960s.

Here is a link to more photos and information about the QV Building

I recommend Shorpy to anyone slightly interested in the is absolutely free and as the header says 'Always Something Interesting'.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Levels of information

This morning we rang the hospital for advice and we were told to come in for a new dressing and advice about Joan's vomiting and diarrhea. Good personal service! The chemo coordinator redressed the PICC line entry and ran a few more facts about FOLFOX6 chemotherapy past us.

Yesterday, Joan didn't eat and slept for 20 of the 24 hours until this morning. Previously we hadn't been warned about this likelihood. The coordinator explained that steroids are part of the FOLFOX regime and for the one day after chemo one expects to feel very good and as the steroids fade, tiredness comes on. Gotta live with that one, but she stressed exact times for taking the anti-nausea medicine and Gastrostop for the diarrhea. Seems to be working this afternoon.

There seems to be several levels of information we are being fed. Firstly the surgeon who told us that he could not operate and sent us to the oncologist who told us what he was recommending as treatment, the head nurse at the chemo ward who gave us lots of info about the mechanics of chemotherapy, the nurse who gave the first infusion and the nurse who removed the pump and flushed the PICC line and now the coordinator who slipped us the info about the extreme tiredness and combating nausea and diarrhea. We haven't had any advice from the little nun who patrols the waiting room asking everyone the same questions.

Let's hope that now we know exactly what to expect; next session, Joan can fall into a routine and sleep for a day.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A gentle New Year

New Year's Eve passed quietly for us. Our guests went home quite early and we didn't mark the end of 2009 with any cheers and fireworks. Fine food and a few drinks and lots of good conversation from our close friends. A couple of friends who normally come along for New Year's eve were in Sydney and Wendy rang to wish us all well for 2010.

This morning Joan woke up nauseous and had a long bout of vomiting and diarrhea. She is sleeping now and if it continues when she wakes, we will ring the cancer ward at St John's for some advice. The anti nausea tablets didn't get a chance to work.

Yesterday I had an email from a teaching colleague from my New Guinea days. The last time we saw each other was 48 years ago. Age breeds nostalgia. I hope we can continue to keep in contact.

We were penciled in to attend the first reunion of teachers from that year in PNG, but now it doesn't seem like the chemo regime will allow a trip to Queensland for at least six months and the reunion is in May this new year.