Sunday, February 28, 2010

Young Nomads

We have had an overnight visit by Sean, Denise, Cody and Bae.

I taught Sean at Rockingham SHS in the late 70s and we have kept in contact over the years catching up when Sean comes home to W.A. or when we travel to Sydney town.

They sold up their house in Sydney’s west and bought a large caravan and 4WD and have been doing the young nomad thing for almost two years. Denise home-schools their two children and she has done a great job, and it shows because they are quite intellectual and can talk on a broad range of topics. Their travels around Australia has given them an education they wouldn’t have had sitting in a school classroom. I am guessing that Cody is about 10 and Bae is probably 8.

Cody is an avid reader and has the full collection of Andy Griffith’s children’s books. He went to the Writers’ Festival at UWA today with a pile of books to get autographed by Andy, but it seems that several hundred other people had the same idea. Haven’t heard if he was successful in meeting his idol and getting his books signed.

Bae also reads Andy’s books by borrowing from Cody’s library. Cody has made a library card for her and she is probably fined if she doesn’t return a book on time.

Sean is doing part-time lecturing at Edith Cowan University and is loving it. He did a post graduate Dip.Ed a couple of years ago with the aim of getting into teaching. Travelling around Australia has given him a taste of what relief teachers have to put up with. Generally, high school students give relief teachers a hard time so he is delighted to teach adults at a university.

They have no immediate plans to settle in one place again, but that will of course come to be some day.

It was a most pleasant visit with good friends and very nice kids.

Friday, February 26, 2010

WW2 Saboteurs

Being seventy years of age, I have a tenuous connection with WW2. I taught in Papua New Guinea for almost ten years and have a keen interest in the battles and characters of the war in Australia and Papua New Guinea.

My home town of Fremantle has a very interesting connection to the Pacific war with a major U.S. Submarine base located here.

Recently I was reading an interview with a WW2 Australian pilot who was stationed in Papua during the war. The interview was part of an author's research for a book named "The Guns of Mischu'. The interview can be read here.

In the interview, the pilot recounts the sabotage of 19 Liberator bombers at an Australian base in Queensland during the war. The Liberators were Australian Air Force planes and I cannot understand how such sabotage was effected by Australians at war with the Japanese.

Were the saboteurs being paid by Japanese agents or were they anti-war people? They were obviously working on the base when the sabotage was committed.

Maybe it was along the lines of unionists who refiused to load supply ships carrying urgent supplies to Australian soldiers at war because of a pay dispute?

I am not particulary right wing, but in my 70 years on this place I have endured quite a few hardships and intimidatory tactics by trade unions.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

No Chemo today

We headed out to St. John's Hospital in Subiaco early this morning and when we attended the Oncologist's rooms he told us that Joan's white blood cell count was too low to have chemo. She was allowed to get the Avastin which doesn't knock the bone marrow around. Avastin has the specific task of blocking blood flow to the cancer tumours. So she has a week off chemo to build up the white cells before chemo next Wednesday.

Although we were disappointed that Joan didn't get her chemo, we did get a copy of the last CT scan which suggests that the lung lesions may not be metastases, and could well be granulomas. That would be a good thing as then there would be just the liver and bowel cancer tumours to deal with.

I recall an open day at Leederville Technical College when I attended it many many years ago where a welcome notice greeted visitors at the entrance to the Science Department with............
Secretions and Granulomas and Much Metabolism

Our new cryo oven and Induction cooktop have been installed. The electrician had to bring in a heavy cable to handle the extra power needed for the cooktop and in doing that had to drop the cable down an exterior cavity wall. He drilled a hole into the cavity wall where he figured the cable would be, but miscalculated and actually drilled through the wrong wall and ended up making a large hole in our bedroom wall. He did say he was sorry, but didn't reduce the $300 bill. Both the oven and the cooktop are working well, but there are a few things to learn about operating and cleaning both of them.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Harry's Hardware

Harry’s hardware is really called Attadale Hardware and Harry has been running it seven days a week for 25 years serving the good people of Attadale.

The store is a mere 100m2 and packed with goodies to rival Bunnings and other monster stores. Harry doesn’t do lawnmowers, edgers, whipper-snippers and other petrol or electric garden tools….he leaves the warranty problems on such gear to places like Bunnings.

I have known Harry for around 15 years and actually taught both his lovely daughters at Willetton SHS.

He has an incredible gift of remembering names, number plates and telephone numbers. Of his roughly 1,000 loyal customers he reckons he remembers about 98% of their names and this shows when one visits Harry’s Hardware. It is certainly good business when a business proprietor addresses you by name as you enter their store.

People come back and don’t quibble about prices when they get good advice on a job or product. Harry even lends out his personal tools to home handymen and gals to ensure they get the job done with the least hassle.

We are shareholders in Bunnings and because of that we hope the Bunnings empire prospers, however if you are after some long out of date bit, Harry either has it or can get it for you. He is one of the very few hardware stores who will sell you individual screws etc rather selling a blister pack.

Because of Harry's location at some distance from the big hardware stores and the personal service shoppers get, his store is not going to be squeezed out by the big boys.

I’m more than a bit sorry that we no longer live close to HH.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Insurance adjusters

This morning Joan is off to St John's hospital to have her PICC line flushed and redressed. She is also going to drop in on her GP with a letter from our travel insurance company. When Joan was diagnosed with advanced bowel, liver and lung cancer in December, we cancelled a cruise we were booked on in January and Joan commenced Chemotherapy almost immediately. We made a claim for refund of the fares which was supported by a document from her GP outlining the reasons and the diagnosis.

The letter from the insurance company asks for a further detailed report from the GP showing all medications, treatment and advice given to Joan over the 90 day period from 14/06/2009 - 14/09/2009. Insurance Adjusters!

Today we are having a new oven and glass top induction cook-top delivered. We were sick of cleaning the many surfaces of a gas cook-top. The induction cook top is amazing. Where the cooking pot stands, only the pot gets hot. Paper towelling can be used under the pot without any fear of it catching on fire. Can't wait to get cooking on that!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Senile regression

Pauline Hanson is grabbing doogs* and leaving Australia to live in the UK. She is known throughout Australia as the woman who owned a fish and chip shop (and that's no shame!) who ran for Federal Parliament on a platform of anti- immigration, mainly directed at Asian immigration and formed the One Nation Party. Her party and policies appealed to a wide range of 'real Aussies' who were a bit afraid of the 'Yellow Peril'.

Her success was the one reason that the two main parties in Federal Parliament sort of worked together to put her down. It worked. She never got back into politics and is now going to become an emigrant herself, heading off to the UK which has no problems with immigration...oh yeah?

Methinks she has found a British boyfriend. She should settle somewhere in the Midlands of England...say Midsommer ,where there is nary a dark face and copious murders are committed for reasons as simple as a grating Australian accent. Look out Pauline.

This morning I was watering my small vegetable patch and noticed that my Silver Beet seeds have 'shot'. I was so pleased that I told Joan of the event. Is this old age regression? I felt like a Year 1 kid seeing his first seeds germinate in the class science project. Calm down Kev; the bugs will get them before they are half matured.

I cannot believe that growers of 'organic' vegetables don't use some insecticide to prevent losing their crop. I would like a pest free garden without insecticide, but don't believe it can really be achieved. Tell me I'm wrong.

* Grabbing Doogs is from games of marbles in the Australian schoolyard. When the bell for the end of recess or lunch was rung the players grabbed as many marbles (doogs) as they could and kept them.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Busy Saturday

Well, I managed to get the iBook laptop open again and found that I had indeed loosened a cable with all my fiddling when replacing the DVD ROM. It runs like a Buick now. I reckon I now know most of the tricks to repairing an Apple iBook....but hope never to have to do it again. Brain strain!

Joan is still going well except for several side effects of the chemotherapy. She is extremely sensitive to cold and hot things and food. Yesterday her finger tips went purple and painful. I rationalise it by saying that I too would have side effects if I started ingesting lots of rat poison. Don't think that helped much though.

Yesterday evening we went to a picnic in the Park at Wireless Hill with some friends. Three of them originated in Trinidad or Barbados. Their accents are a strange mix of sing-song West Indian with a smattering of Canadian. To shut ones eyes and listen, we could have been sitting and talking to a group of West Indian cricketers. One lady was terrified of birds which was a bit daunting for her as there were quite a few bold ravens, mudlarks and magpies waiting for scraps. It was a pleasant evening with good conversation.

Wireless Park is on a largish hill near the Swan River in Applecross. It was the site of an International Radio Station and is now natural bush parkland, a telecommunications museum and a local AM radio station. Nice spot!

Earlier in the day I delivered a computer to a couple who live in the Northern Coastal suburb of North Beach. They were most appreciative of the gift and I am sure it will serve them well.

From there I went to Hillaries to brother-in law Mike's place to give him some help with his garden reticulation system, his new iPod Touch and his voice amplifier system. Mike has advanced Parkinsons disease and was once a very capable techie, but Parkinsons has robbed him of most of that. It must be a soul destroying condition not to be able to do simple things that once came so easy.

The voice amplifier problem was solved, but Mike's voice is so weak that I doubt that it will help much. It certainly makes his laboured breathing easily heard. The iPod was eventually loaded up with music, but Mike's PC didn't have the firewall and virus protection turned on and the way it was playing up I suspect a few bugs have taken up residence and need cleaning out. The retic system was an impossible job for me as Mike had disconnected about 12 color-coded wires and replaced them in different positions. He hadn't made a diagram of their relative positions and the combinations of possibilities are beyond my mathematical abilities. I recommended that he get 'the man' out to rewire it.

Friday, February 12, 2010

A wrong diagnosis

Joan's sinus infection was rediagnosed by the oncologist as an abscess on a tooth. He suggested Joan visit her dentist and an ex-ray showed it was indeed an abscess. At the time we couldn't believe that it was a sinus infection as there was a large painful lump on her upper front gum.

The dentist prescribed Metronidazole and when I had it dispensed at the pharmacy it had a sticker on the pack warning not to drink alcohol, during or four days after, completing the course. I had read that alcohol and antibiotics were a bit of a furphy, but it seems that two antibiotics, Flagyl and Metronidazole definitely don't like alcohol and will make the drinker very sick. I'm not taking either antibiotic!

I collected a DVD ROM for the iBook that I recently acquired. In return I gave David his two bars of chocolate and a couple of Brownes Dairy Mocha drinks. I also gave him a MacIntosh SE30 which he didn't have in his collection of Mac history.

The Apple iBook has to be one of the more difficult laptops to pull apart. I followed detailed instructions on a web page and managed to get the new drive in and all the dozens of minute screws back in the right places (I think). The computer started up and the DVD drive worked well, however the PowerPack won't charge the battery. I may have missed replacing a cable or something. That means I will have to take it apart again to have a look. Most frustrating!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Round 4 of Folfox6

Yesterday Joan started her round four of Folfox6 chemotherapy. We had an interview with the oncologist before chemo and he said that her blood tests were all and white cells and liver function good! Also the cancer marker had dropped from 9,100 to 2,000+. Still a long way to go as the norm is around 5.

Because the Ivy Suite was heavily booked Joan was ushered up to a single room in the same building. The administration of the chemo this time was a little different, the Avastin, which is usually administered last was infused first. Joan asked why and was told that 'we do it differently up here'. That doesn't sound right to have significant differences in a clinical trial. She will ask the oncologist next visit.

Amazing how a bit of good news cheers us up.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Round 4 chemotherapy

Joan's sinus infection looks like it is at last reponding to the antibiotics. She is off for round four of chemo tomorrow and we are hoping that her blood tests don't show any red blood cell problems.

I recently bought a Mac iBook from a teacher colleague from way back in the 70s. He wanted $50. for a nice clean machine with a good battery and plenty of RAM. I found that the CD ROM didn't accept disks and thought I shouldn't put on him as the price was certainly right. I posted a WTB (wanted to buy) on the W.A. MacUsers' Group page and a young fellow who has given me lots of Macs for distribution said he could help me out. He is IT Manager for an Australia-wide publishing house. I asked what he wanted for the drive and the reply was
I'll test and remove it for one of the smaller blocks of Cadbury Chocolate and a 600ml Brownes Ice Mocha :P - about $6 worth? Good deal especially as it is a DVD Read/Write disk!
Think I might double that price!

Today we had our Hyundai Sonata in for a wheel bearing replacement under the 5 year warranty deal we are on. When I dropped the car off early this morning I mentioned that the passenger side sun visor was stuck and couldn't be moved up or down. The man showed me the work card with replacement of sun visor listed for action. How did they know that? He explained that it was a world-wide recall and all Sonatas of our year model are to get replacement sun visors. Pure coincidence that ours became inoperable just a few days before.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Worrying infection

Friday morning Joan woke up to find a painful swelling between her nose and upper lip. She had been warned to be careful of any infections during chemo and rang the oncologist for advice. His advice was to see her GP as soon as possible. She managed to get in to see her doctor at 5.30pm and it was diagnosed as a sinus infection and went immediately onto antibiotics.

Yesterday we attended a family gathering in Mandurah and during the course of a few hours her face swelled more and a red, blotchy mark appeared on her cheek. This morning it seems to be getting a little worse. We will watch it today for any major changes and hope the antibiotics knock it out by tomorrow.

The family gathering was to welcome Ann and Doug. Ann is my cousin originally from Narrogin Valley who married Doug and they live in Canada. We have visited them in their small town of Mission in BC. Ann tries to return home for a visit every couple of years.

The gathering was at a very nice house on one of the canals in Mandurah. The house is maintained and let out to short term holiday makers, by another cousin, Coral and her husband, Alby. The owner is happy about Coral and Alby using the house when it is not rented. Good deal! It has its own jetty and a couple of crab nets hanging off the jetty caught a few crabs whilst we were there.

Mandurah is about 75 kilometres from Perth and is a thriving city. Once a retirement destination for many farmers, the development of canals and housing has caused a major population increase. A bit too expensive for us to buy into.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Rule 26

Joan's Chemotherapy treatment is ever changing. Last week she was managing real nausea or diarrhea. This week she is experiencing new symptoms....teeth and jaws aching, extreme sensitivity to cold and tiredness. She had a bad day where she broke down and did a bit of yelling. I can understand that...I was just not expecting it. We have few if any arguments.

We have a friend in New York who has just completed her chemotherapy for breast cancer. She wrote to Joan suggesting she invoke rule 26. Rule 26 says that the husband must not later bring up the topic of what was said (or yelled) to/at him during chemotherapy. Seems like a good rule!

We both go to the same medical centre. My GP knew about my father's bowel and liver cancer and had me get a colonoscopy regularly every 18 months or so. Joan's GP(s) should have known about her family history of bowel cancer, but somehow it slipped through and she never had a colonoscopy until she was diagnosed. I may suggest that a red warning label be attached to the front of patient files telling of family history of such diseases. Maybe Joan could have been diagnosed at an earlier stage?

A court case just finished, has a music copyright holder winning a case against the band 'Men at Work' for the supposedly pinching of a very small riff of an old Australian kids' song Kookaburra sits in the Old Gum Tree and weaving it into their immensely succesful piece 'Down Under'. Down Under was used as the theme for Australia's successful challenge of the America's Cup. I expect that Men at Work merely wanted to make their song as Australian as possible, but the b------s who now own 'Kookaburra' which was written in the 1930s are going to sue the band for millions. Kids in schools, on scout camps all know 'Kookaburra' and they should now rally behind Men at Work and punish these litigious shites.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

1st Fremantle Sea Scouts..100 years young

On Sunday we; a few good friends and I, went to the riverside HQ of the 1st Fremantle Sea Scouts. The occasion was a celebration of 100 years of service to the local community. It was a big gathering, maybe three hundred people.

I started at the 1st Fremantle (then named the 69th Fremantle) sea scouts as a Cub Scout aged 11 and finished as a Rover Scout at the age of 21, just prior to heading off to New Guinea to start a teaching career.

The scout group had a campsite at Garden Island and every holiday we sailed to Garden Island in open cutters in any weather. I don't understand how parents let their young kids go to sea in bad weather with inadequate safety gear. We didn't lose any kids in all those years. Many got terribly seasick and felt like jumping overboard and no doubt some had upset tummies because of the food we prepared. Good character building stuff.

There are no private campsites on Garden Island now as the Royal Australian Navy has commandeered the whole Island as a base.

At the gathering, memories were tested as oldies debated events and argued over who did what.

I felt my age as the younger people talked about their experiences and we bored them with tales of adventures from long ago.

It was a great day!