Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve 2011/12

New Year's Eve day; 2012! I never imagined that I would see this year. Having been born in 1939, when the nasties were booming us...(John Lennon) I cannot ever recall thinking that I would get old.

A few of us oldies are getting together at my place and we are buying in fish and chips. We will see the new year in Sydney time, which is three hours ahead of Western Australia. Then we can all have an easy night.

Samoa has just done away with Friday and jumped over the International Date Line and aligned itself with Australia and New Zealand to facilitate trade with us. There has been a lot of planning gone into this change. Some Samoans lost a birthday. I don't know what the government has set out for pay for a day not worked....too difficult for me. Just over a year ago, Samoa also changed the driving rules by switching from driving on the right to driving on the left because of the availability of cheap SH vehicles from Aus and NZ. Versus the expensive LH drive vehicles imported from the U.S. I'm guessing they have a blend of RH and LH drive cars causing a few problems. Bus drivers complained that the passenger doors would now be on the wrong side and alighting passengers would be in danger.

NYE is also the evening of the French national event of car burning. Last NYE there were 1137 cars burnt in mainly poorer areas of the country. That figure was 10 less than NYE 2009. Authorities instituted a news blackout. The number of torched cars will remain a secret. That, is to stop the “unhealthy competition” which supposedly eggs on the perpetrators to set fire to more and more cars each year. This story has broken just in time for a few local lads to do a copy cat job. I would not be surprised if tomorrow's news has, among the reports of brawls etc, news of a few cars being torched.

I hope that 2012 brings good health and peace to all my readers.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Carole in London

Today I visited Carole's Blog. I had been very reluctant to go there as I knew there was going to be bad news. Carole lives in London and has rectal cancer which has developed into metastatic bone cancer. Carole followed Joan's journey and since Joan's death I have kept in touch with her. She has given me much support since Joan's death in February.

In her blog she tells of the prognosis she has been given. Her oncologist apologized for not being able to stop the cancer, which was very similar to Joan's story.

I am sorry that we don't live close to each other so I could drop by and have a few pleasant conversations, although I have not been good at keeping my emotions under control when confronted with such situations.

Carole is a brave lady and even though we have not met I know I will miss her dearly when her time comes. See her blog here.

Some time back I posted a couple of photos of Helen and James' dogs Ruby and Rosey. Since October when rosy was barely able to walk she has grown bigger than Ruby...not stronger, but slightly bigger. Here are a couple of then and now Pics.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas day and Boxing Day

The Christmas gathering at Helen and James' house went very well. In all, about 12 rellies attended and some I have not talked with or seen in over a year. Good conversation and excellent fare on the table.

On Boxing Day which is the day after Christmas Day, we drove up North of the River to cousin Val's place and had a brunch with Val, one of her sons, Mark and her daughter Ann and their kids. Mark cooked BBQ meats and we each brought some extras to share with everyone. I was 'Skipper' and was without drinks. Brother Graham made up for me though.

Boxing Day is a British tradition celebrated in Australia also. I am sure that the rest of the British Commonwealth celebrates Boxing Day in their own way, but I am pretty sure that it is relatively unknown in the U.S.. Someone will probably correct me on that score. It is not the day of the pugilists

The origins of Boxing Day are disputed, but this link seems the most likely explanation.....

This morning I delivered a Mac computer and laser printer to a young Indian gal who is under the wing of MercyCare. She is studying and was quite thrilled to get it. I set it up and when I cranked it up, it found the WiFi and was immediately on the net. The suburb is Mirrabooka and looks pretty raggedy where she is renting. Wind the windows up and lock the doors when driving through there.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Eve

So it is Christmas eve. Don't know what significance that brings. It certainly isn't a time for me to be Joyous.

Tomorrow I will collect my brother and drive him down to Helen and James' house for our Christmas Day luncheon. Of the assembled extended family attending, there is not one true Christian amongst us. We don't celebrate anything but the festive season and not think about the meaning of Christmas. I would venture to say that 90% of Australians are the same as us.

Today I had a 24 year old Jewish lad at my door who talked me into donating A$20 a month to the Australian Red Cross. He was a personable, likeable, young man with piercing grey eyes that I imagine would have spooked Germans in the 1930s. He is an Israeli here on a visitor's visa. I liked him.

OK; time for a Christmas story....

A cop pulls over a bloke on his way home from a staff Christmas party. He has him blow into a breathalyser and the result is not good.

' Sir, you are just over the legal limit' says the cop.

The driver asks for clemency.....'Mate it's Christmas, isn't here any compassion?'

The cop replies...'OK in the spirit of Christmas I'll give you a break. if you can find three things in your car relating to Christmas I'll let you off'.

The driver searches around and finds a Christmas card from work colleagues, then a present that he had bought his desperation he opens the glove box and produces a pair of panties.

The cop asks...'What have they to do with Christmas?. Our man replies...'They are Carol's'.

Friday, December 23, 2011

At last

Martin has at last received the documentation showing his Australian citizenship and has already been to see his employer and is starting work this afternoon with the promise of more hours to make up for the six weeks of loss of wages. Relief for both of us!

I am still transferring cash to him and will give him a large lump of it for Xmas.

Whew, glad that is all over.

Xmas is just around the corner and it will be the first one in 46 years without my Joan.

The Locks in the 80s

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Good news day

Today has been OK. I went with daughter Helen and Ruby and Rosey to the local dog beach. We had about 40 minutes of socialising with other dogs and there wasn't even a bit of growling....amazing.

Helen dropped me off at home and I received a phone call to let me know that my new car was ready for collection..yippee! I handed the keys for my Sonata over and signed a few documents and the salesman took me into the adjacent showroom to see my car. It was covered with a blue car cover and a large notice in front of it bore my name. The wrap was removed and photos were taken of Kev with his new steed. After the usual lessons about setting up bluetooth etc I was out of there.

More good news when I got home, Martin our son in Melbourne had spent a few hours in at Immigration in Melbourne in the hope of finding what was happening on getting proof of his Australian citizenship. He eventually got to talk to a customer service rep and while he was with her she called Canberra and found out that the certificate of proof was officially completed yesterday and it should be in the mail tomorrow or at worst scenario on Monday. That takes the heat off both of us and he should be back at work within a couple of days. He will not be getting a lot of hours work per week, so I will still be subsidising him until his hours build up again.

Yesterday I was reading some of my wife's letters to her father when we were in Papua New Guinea and one of the letters was written just one month after Martin was born in Wewak, New Guinea in 1971. Joan made a footnote about Martin's nationality, or lack of it. I am sure she would have registered Martin as she was a very organised woman. The Immigration Department informed Martin recently that we did something about his citizenship in late November 1975 just prior to us returning to Australia permanently. It may well be that a certificate was posted to our last Papua New Guinea address and not forwarded on to us in Australia and all these 35 years since then Martin has been carrying on life here without any proof of his citizenship.

Click image to enbiggen.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Government bastardry

Our son Martin still has not received his official recognition of Australian citizenship. There are only a couple of days before the Immigration Department takes their annual Christmas break of two+ weeks and I am betting that Martin's certification will be delayed until the new year. His employer, the national food chain, Coles Limited, is now putting pressure on him for a quick resolution of his situation, which of course is not his fault. My support is unconditional and I will continue to fund his forced unemployment. I am however, very unhappy with the bureaucratic nightmare that has cost me thousands of dollars and my son his self worth in what should have been a simple affirmation of his Australian citizenship. Damn the system!

I wish I knew of some person I could approach for a swift resolution to this farce.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tim Minchin Vs Sydney Symphony

Last night I watched a performance titled Tim Minchin Vs The Sydney Symphony.

Wonderful....irreverent....a bit rude and very professional. The audience loved it and so did I. Tim is a scary looking young man who writes all his own stuff and is a great pianist. His voice is also quite extraordinary in a strange way. Some time ago I decided that I would attend no more concerts, but after seeing this concert I will be looking out for a concert with Tim if he ever gets around to visiting W.A..

Here is Tim doing his best to stir up the believers.

Earlier in the evening I drove Helen and James to a classy restaurant in Mt Lawley which is on the Northern side of Perth city. They were celebrating their first year of marriage. They were using a voucher which was a wedding present from my brother and sister. This isn't the first time they fronted up to this restaurant....they tried to use the voucher soon after they were married, but unfortunately left the voucher home and had to pay cash. Ouch! This time they checked out that the voucher was still valid and booked in again. They were told that there is a $100. fee if they don't turn up. Don't think I'll be going there! Restaurant report later.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Of pickled eggs and Taxation

Our son, Martin is still waiting for official recognition of his Australian citizenship. He cannot work until he receives the paperwork and presents it to his employer. Meantime it is costing me lots of dollars maintaining him until he gets his job back. As he is still employed, though suspended without pay, he cannot claim unemployment benefits. Nothing turned up today, so at best, he can expect the documents on Monday and start work again during the week, but it is more likely that Immigration will take their time.

Today I helped Margaret get her washing machine going again by the Laying of Hands on it. As it turned out she had forgotten one small part of the water fill program. She thinks she is losing it, but it is really no different to me going out to my workshop and not remembering what I went there for.....or losing my keys, phone and wallet in the house...every day! Stay calm Marg.

I am making pickled eggs and pickled onions at the moment. Eggs are quite cheap and small pickling onions are dirt cheap. They should be ready for lunch on Christmas day.

This morning I delivered all the documents I could find to have my tax done by our accountant. The Public Trustee is doing Joan's tax as part of her estate. This is a first for me since Joan handled our tax over the last 45 years. She loved organising, travel documents & planning etc etc. At first glance the accountant felt that I had provided enough for him to get it done. No doubt he will call if I have forgotten something.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pseudo greenie

School officially finishes on Wednesday and Helen is school-less until probably the day before school recommences next year. She is not a permanent employee of the education department of W.A.. There are a few quite inconvenient ways of becoming permanent and I have mentioned them before, so Helen will either get a job at another school, hopefully close to home, or do part time teaching or relief teaching. The relief teaching is the best deal if she can get plenty of work. Relief teachers have no preparation, teacher/parent hassles and no marking or reporting. The pay is slightly better than full time teaching to compensate for the lack of paid holidays.

She is going to take me shopping for appropriate Xmas gifts. I am not good at choosing gifts and Helen is like her mother..artistic and resourceful.

This will be the first Xmas without Joan in 46 years.

I decided to be a part greenie and see if I could save some of the shower water for potplants. That is.... plants in pots rather than pot plants! I placed a large shallow plastic tray in the shower recess and had a relatively quick shower. When I had finished there were about 20 litres of water in the tray. A bit difficult to get it into a bucket and I am unsure how long I will persevere with this little project. Probably time to change the shower head to a water-saving one.

Monday, December 12, 2011

69th Sea Scouts

Yesterday we, Margaret, Joy and I went to the South of Perth Yacht Club for an oldies reunion of 20 people who were either in or associated with the local Sea Scouts in the 1950s-60s. A couple of the people there I had not seen in some thirty years. I was nearly the youngest person there at age 72.

Unfortunately a couple of fellows were suffering from Alzheimers and I had to answer the same questions over and over again. On reflection, I am unsure if they were 'suffering'. They seemed bright enough and if there is any suffering, their wives are probably experiencing it more than them.

Two of the group were immigrants from Latvia and I remember them when they first joined the 69th Fremantle Rover Crew in the 1950s. I was amazed that they spoke good English even if the Vs and Ws got a bit mixed up. They are not related and both of them are named taking on the nickname of Jacky, probably to tell them apart. Jacky is the Honorary Consul for Latvia in Western Australia and the other Janis built a successful business in marine engineering. The venue was packed as there was also some 120 kids and parents there for their Xmas party and Santa's arrival on a vintage fire engine.

I always come away from such reunions a little dissatisfied that I did not get the opportunity to speak with everyone in attendance. Some of the group are determined to have regular meetings in the coming years.

My fly traps are working well and the prawn baits are proving most successful. Last night I made a couple of traps for Helen and James to put out in their garden. We are having Xmas at their place and flies are a worry at this time. More annoying than the Taliban!

Martin has had $60. taken from his bank account which is the fee for processing his immigration document. We are assuming that that means that they have accepted the application as correct. He is going to follow up on the application mid-week.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

New Car

I have been thinking of buying a new car for some time and yesterday I did it. I have not taken possession yet; it is still in the importer's yard and needs to be trucked down this way and detailed etc.

I was thinking of the Hyundai i45, but when all the extras I would want were added, it was going to be a little more than I wanted to pay. So, I went for the i45's little brother, the Elantra which @ $24,500 has all the fruit already on/in it. I will add a wireless reversing camera myself. I am losing the confidence to easily parallel park so will lean on a bit of technology. The new Elantra is quite different to its predecessor and is now much bigger with a better finish and safety features. The dealer talked me into trading my Sonata and gave me $6,000 for it.

Here it is, although mine is a rich red colour.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Martin's application in

I have just had a phone call from Martin our son in Melbourne. He has lodged his application to get official evidence of his Australian citizenship. He was hoping to talk with an official at Immigration, but was advised that he would have to wait at least two hours to see someone.

If his application is all correctly filled out it will take four days to process and another two or more weeks to have a document issued.

Last night I had a bit of a downer thinking of my late wife, Joan. I had previously read a blog called 'Mum's Not Having Chemo'. It espouses all sorts of alternative treatments which have supposedly cured people with cancer. I got a bit cranky with the postings on the blog and shot off a comment. People who fervently believe in something are immovable from their position, however I felt I had to be the Devil's Advocate and balance all the previous comments which sided with the blog's author. Silly of me I know...however?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Immigration BS

Definitely being pooed on from a great height.

I received Martin's photos this morning by Priority Post and attached them to the document 119 (Identity Declaration) and returned to the doctor who filled out the last form which was lost/stolen in Melbourne. His rooms are in Nedlands, some 25+ kilometres from my house. His receptionist filled in the details and he signed in the appropriate places. When I got home I noticed that she had put Martin's name in the space for the person who is making the Identification Declaration. Immigration will not accept any alteration of any kind on such documents, so I rang her and filled out a new form, pasted the photograph on and raced back to get him to sign again.

I posted the lot off to Martin by registered speed post (forgot what it is called) at a cost of $13.60. He should get it tomorrow and head off to Immigration and pay a $60 fee to get a piece of paper saying he is indeed an Aussie in 2-4 weeks. What a load of crap. If you live in Australia you may well see this story on Channel 7 pretty soon.

I have been shown a government report confirming that there are some 60,000+ illegals in Australia, and most of them British and North Americans who have decided to stay in Australia after their visitor visas have run out. I guess that most of them are working as illegals and being paid below award wages and not paying Australian income tax and our son who is an Australian citizen has to jump through hoops to get a piece of paper.

Martin has been in Australia since 1975, paid taxes, received unemployment benefits (lots), used medicare benefits, voted at elections and the dickheads still don't know he is an Australian. Bloody Hell!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Frequent fliers

It is BBQ time which means it is also fly time here. Every year the flies get a head start on the dung beetles and it is at this time that fly traps are sold in stores. For some reason the old fashioned fly paper rolls are no longer available at the stores I visit. Not sure that they
were really good anyway.

I make my own fly traps from jars. I make a few largish holes in the top and mix up a brew that will attract flies. Yesterday I bought a commercial brew as well as making Kev's own...water with prawns. This morning they are doing equally well with flies queuing up like people at a good restaurant. I reckon in a few days I will have to empty the jars and start again.

There is an argument that all a fly trap does is welcome other people's flies. I don't care, as long as the pesky little buggers are more attracted to the traps than up my nose.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Philosopher's Zone

As I was driving today I listened to the ABC show The Philosopher's Zone.

I don't claim to be a philosopher, or even take a great interest in philosophy. I recall having to read Emmanuel Kant's 'Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals' and after fifteen or twenty pages stopped and tried to recall anything of significance my eyes and mind had passed over....zilch!

The reason I was listening to the program was that the alternative ABC stations were all broadcasting sport.

Anyway, the topic was 'The morality of Robo Wars', which discussed the changes taking place in warfare. In previous conflicts combatants went to war...travelled to the action and engaged the enemy with the very real chance of being killed.

With the advent of Robo Wars, using weapons such as Drones, the pilot drives to work to a bunker in Nevada, does the dirty on tanks, soldiers etc and at 5pm drives home and has dinner with the wife and kids. Something to philosophize about eh?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Bigger than Ben Hur

Martin’s efforts to establish his Australian citizenship have been dealt another blow. Documents and identification photographs were posted from Western Australia by Priority Post on Monday afternoon. Priority Post guarantees to get them anywhere in Australia overnight.

Martin was waiting for the post to arrive at his address in Melbourne on Tuesday and Wednesday, but nothing turned up. He took the receipt code to the local post office and was informed that the envelope was delivered on Tuesday. Dead end!

He will have to start over and will certainly lose his job. If there is a supreme being, he/she is pooing on us from a great height.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Happy Birthday Lockie

So this is it....72 years of age. I certainly don’t feel like I’m 72, although in the last year I have noticed that I am more likely to think carefully before climbing ladders etc.
When we were young......... about 1980

I have had birthday wishes from a number of people including quite a few ex-students; one, Sean, going back some 32(?) years. Sean is the only male ex-student to really keep in touch over those years...the rest are all gals and I am honored that they even think of me. Most of them were from Willetton Senior High School which was a most pleasant workplace for a teacher.

Helen is having me around to their house for dinner tonight and Martin rang from Melbourne to wish me the best. His problem establishing his Australian citizenship is still ongoing. Yesterday I went to a government department in Rockingham to collect documents and photographs and deliver them to his doctor in another part of the city. I purchased a Priority Post envelope and as soon as the doc filled out the documents etc he was to post them to Martin. Martin then will present them to Immigration in Melbourne and hope that Immigration will be able to give him an interim document stating that he is indeed a citizen and documents are soon the be provided. That would allow him to recommence work and take a little strain off my bank balance. Good if they could do that, but I don’t believe that a simple solution is what bureaucracy is about.

I thought I should buy myself a little birthday present, so went to a local Apple retailer this morning and bought a 27” iMac with all the fruit. This is definitely not me, to drive to a store and spend big on such an item. The whole deal took about 12 minutes....wish I could buy clothes with such ease.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Blog Sub Editor

My friend Graham in Sydney is my (self appointed) Sub Editor for the blog.

As he informed me yesterday, my maths is still pretty bad.

I am blessed or cursed, it depends on how you view it, with an ability to remember dates. I often wake and think of the date and then birthdays or other events that occurred on that day come to mind. On Friday (25th) I remembered that it was the 64th birthday of a friend I had in high school and have seen only once since. I remember when I learnt his birthdate, I immediately connected it with my own, exactly three weeks earlier. I suppose connections are a good memory jog. I also planned, with a friend a couple of weeks ago, to go on a bike ride in Wollongong on Tuesday 29th and immediately the fact that the 29th will be your birthday came to mind. So, on Friday, after thinking of my high school friend's birthdate, I then thought that it was the date of Joan's death in February. Then I saw your blog post about the same thing, but it is my melancholy duty to point out to you that your maths is still pretty bad, as it is 9 not 10 months ago.

Today is Helen’s birthday. I will buy a nice card and select a present. Yesterday James and Helen visited and took away some gear that Helen had been storing in Joan’s storeroom. Over the school holidays I will move the rest of Helen’s stuff across to their place. They have plenty of storage space there. I will turn that area into a home gym and try and get this near 72 body back into reasonable working condition.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

At times I am lonely

Yesterday was 10 months since my Joan passed away. I miss her dearly.....not as she was at the time of her death, but as the talented, intelligent, wonderful companion she was to me over 45 years of our marriage.
I am, at times, lonely and it is well that I have what seems to be a never-ending project of refurbishing computers to give to needy people. I suppose that if the supply of computers dries up....and I cannot image that happening, I would find some other project to keep me busy.
Computers ready to go now stored in my workshop
Sitting and dining room sans computers, printers, keyboards, printers and cables.

I have no desire to look for another partner. I can cook, clean and do household maintenance. One thing I cannot do is sew. My daughter has three of Joan’s machines and will be my personal tailor when I get around to buying new trousers.

The Public Trustee still hasn’t completed Joan’s probate and I am unsure when it will be completed. I think a solicitor as the executor would have done the job much quicker.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Bureaucratic BS

My birthday celebration is officially next Tuesday, however a group of friends decided that yesterday was the most convenient time to take me to lunch. We met at ‘The Joy Kitchen’ which is an excellent Chinese restaurant in Fremantle. The food and service were great and I highly recommend it to any visitors to Freo. Thanks guys!

Martin, our son is still in limbo land without proof that he is an Australian. Australian Immigration have told him that he IS an Australian as we did something about that in November 1975 just prior to returning to Australia permanently from Papua New Guinea. I cannot recall what that something was and as my Joan was my memory back-up, I cannot ask her if she remembers what in fact we did way back then. So, because he has no documents, he is having to go through the whole process again to be officially recognised as an Australian citizen. A request to Immigration for an interim document to give to his employer doesn’t seem like a bureaucratic possibility.

The unit we own which Martin lived in has been let to a young couple with a 9 month old baby. Hope they can put up with the feral neighbors.

Enough of words....let's look at some fine art.
Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

slowly slowly catchy monkee

Our son Martin is still working his way through becoming an Australian citizen. He has to apply for citizenship after spending the last 35 years here, being a regular at the dole office and getting his share of medicare. Neither of these agencies worried about asking whether he was a citizen of this fair country and now he has to jump through all sorts of hoops to get a piece of paper which will give him the benefits he has enjoyed over three decades. It should all be done in about three weeks, meantime, he will probably lose his job. Centrelink is going all out to help him, but government works very slowly. His employer, Coles Pty Ltd is reluctant to give him work until he can show the bit of paper as there is a $66,000 fine for employing each illegal immigrant.
I also had a lot of good information from the office of the Federal Member for Fremantle, Melissa Parke. One of her staffers spent considerable time talking to and emailing Canberra and mapped out the best route to take on the citizenship trail. Must drop him off a nice bottle of bubbly.

I had a visit with ‘my’ nephrologist yesterday and the latest results of my Proteinuria were surprisingly protein ‘leaking’ from my kidneys. In a period of three years it has gone down from significant leakage to none after this test. Proteinuria (excessive amounts of protein in the urine) is an indicator of chronic kidney disease, so that is pretty good news for me. Must be due to my medication...crisp white wine.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

To be or not to Australian

This morning I had a phone call from our son Martin who is working in Melbourne.

Well; he was working, but his employer, Coles has suspended him without pay whilst the Australian Immigration Department investigates him as a possible illegal immigrant. There are an estimated 80,000 illegal immigrants in Australia...mostly people who have over-staid their visitor visas.

Martin is being investigated because when he applied for this job, he had to present a birth certificate. Martin’s birth certificate states that he was born in 1971 in Wewak, Papua New Guinea. At the end of 1971 we, Kevin, Joan, Helen and Martin went on leave to Australia. So that we would be allowed to return to PNG we each had to have a re-entry permit. When it came to Martin’s permit we had to declare him to be an documents, just a statement that he is an Australian. He has been in Australia since 1975.

The way governments work, this could take months to solve.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

U.S. Government fined for littering

Here is a grab from today's 'The Writer's Almanac' which tells a story about Skylab and its eventual demise, crashing into Western Australia near where my sister lives in Esperance.

On this date in 1973, NASA launched the fourth and final Skylab mission. NASA's goal for the project was to find out if it was possible for humans to live and work in space for extended periods of time. The station itself was launched on May 14, 1973, and there were four missions with three crews; the first mission was unmanned and involved the launch of the station by a Saturn V rocket. The first crew spent 28 days aboard Skylab; the second, 59 days. The third and final crew, launched on this date, spent 89 days in space, a record that stood for more than 20 years. Skylab served as a solar observatory, a microgravity lab, a medical lab, and an Earth-observing facility. Astronauts on the fourth mission also observed Comet Kohoutek, which was passing near Earth at that time. NASA was also interested in whether quality of life could be maintained in a space station; the astronauts had two hours' free time every evening, during which they could play cards or darts, read, or listen to music. Skylab 4 commander Gerald Carr said, "The most fun was looking out the window."

NASA had originally planned for Skylab to continue orbiting for up to 10 more years while the Space Shuttle was being developed, but unexpectedly high solar activity — which heated the Earth's atmosphere and created excessive drag on the space station — caused Skylab to malfunction in 1977, and it eventually fell back to Earth in 1979. Pieces of it fell in the Shire of Esperance, near Perth in southwestern Australia; the Shire fined the United States 400 Australian dollars for littering. The fine remained unpaid for 30 years, until a radio host named Scott Barley raised the funds from his morning show listeners.

The Writer's Almanac is quite wonderful, arrives daily and costs nothing. Worth subscribing to!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


My electricity bill arrived in the mail yesterday. At last, evidence that the solar panel array is paying off. The billing period is over 57/58 days and a comparison with the last bill shows a considerable drop....$59.60 down to $15.50.

Several young Australian soldiers have been killed by ‘rogue’ Afghan troops over a few weeks. Many calls have been made to bring ‘our boys’ home and leave the Afghans fight their own war. I think that most Australians think that these 'rogue’ soldiers are actually Taliban, but there are, in my mind, a few more likely reasons for these sudden attacks.

Allied troops in Afghanistan live in well protected bases, have reasonably comfortable accommodation, entertainment and communications with family back home. They are well paid for their; in the case of Australian troops, eight month tour of duty.

Meanwhile the Afghan troops live outside the security of allied bases, are poorly paid and mostly despised by the population for working with the invaders.

Australian soldiers involved in the training of Afghan recruits may well insult the Afghans in the training regime. In Vietnam there were many insulting names for the Vietnamese allies...almost certainly there will be a few for Afghan soldiers.

Add to this the pressure some families of Afghan recruits would be receiving from Taliban agents. A no-win situation!

What is needed is an honorable way of withdrawing all foreign troops.....perhaps a call from Hamid Karzai for all foreigners to leave now.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

dialup modem

Busy few days! I have been helping a friend of my cousin Val try and sort out a connection problem with her laptop. She is using what can be called old inbuilt dialup modem. For those who can remember here are the dulcet tones of a dialup modem attempting to connect.

It has given me a headache and I am glad to admit failure and let someone else have a go at it.

This afternoon cousin Val took me to Mark and Bernie's place and we had a good ‘catch up’ and feed of Queensland Mud Crabs. Mark is Val’s number two son and I have always enjoyed his company even when he was a cheeky youngun. He gave me a ‘muddy’ and some fish to bring home.

This morning, early, I bottled a brew of stout. I will try it in about three weeks.

On the way back from Mark and Bernie's place north of the river I stopped off at the nearest supermarket to here. There was a bit of a barney in progress at the checkout . A scruffy bloke had eaten some produce and of course didn’t want to pay for it. The store manager told him he was on camera which only served to make him a bit cranky. I don’t think I have heard so many swear words as in the few minutes I listened in. Most of the other customers weren’t fazed by all this as it is a not an uncommon event. He threatened the manager and the security guy and next thing I saw them frog marching him to the rear of the store and shove him somewhere secure awaiting the cops. He was suddenly quiet and I did think that maybe they had pushed him into a coolroom. As he was escorted past me he informed me that I was a F****** Dickhead. I’m sure I’m not.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

There's Wind in the Willows

Several people have suggested that I head out and buy the cruiser I mentioned in my last post.

My good friend Dennis emailed me...........

And Dennis (Badger) is correct. I read all the adverts for moorings around Fremantle and there were none within 12 miles which is far too distant for the sort of attention a moored boat needs. Another consideration is, any passengers need to board from a landing at suitable height which would be reasonably close to the mooring....all my friends are getting ancient and are not going to jump down or climb up into a boat.

When we went and looked at the boat, we didn’t even get on board, let alone take it for a run. I must be cautious here as I have had boats in the past that have sat on a mooring for months without being used. I do recall the maintenance on a wooden craft and the annual hard-stand, refit and paint at not inconsiderable cost and effort.

A great idea but at almost 72 years, I think I will sit the boat licence and hire a boat if I have an occasion to take a party on a run up the Swan River.

Monday, November 7, 2011

To buy or not to buy...that is the question

On Sunday, brother Graham and I drove to East Perth to look at a boat advertised for sale. It was around 35’ and well appointed with a rebuilt Perkins Turbo Diesel engine, a ‘stateroom’ with double bed, shower, toilet and wiring throughout, a water purification system, plenty of party space and a flybridge as well as undercover controls.. all for A$19,500. Unfortunately it didn’t come with a mooring, which in a location I would want, could cost as much as the boat. An alternative would be to get a pen @ around $5k a year.

We have had several boats similar to this in the past. One was the ugliest boat on the Swan River and I renamed it ‘Vile Body’ after Capn Bluto’s. Ugly as it was it gave us lots of pleasure with family and friends doing evening cruises. Joan loved it and she catered for lots of cruises with friends.

The last boat I owned was a ‘stink boat’ a fast outboard powered cruiser and I found I wasn’t using it because it was designed for only a couple of people, so we sold it.

I was going to buy another boat when the Western Australian government brought in boat handling licences. That is when I decided to give up boating because the licencing deal was a farce. If I did the licencing test in a 6 foot dinghy with a 5hp outboard,and passed, then I had a licence to drive a $1m block of flats down the river and out to sea.....ridiculous!

Take a look at this boat....a little rough in spots, but a great party or Rottnest Island boat. The money is not the problem is that I will be without my Joan if I did buy it. Not much fun in that.

Notice the Mallard near the stern of the boat. The stern is the blunt end.

Blogger has updated the format of this blog and I believe it is a stupid update. If you click on the photo to see it in full size, then use the 'back button' to get back to the text it now takes you to the previous page. Dumb! Correction.....Bernie in Canada pointed out that the X button in the photo frame returns you to the text. My apologies to Blogger.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Beers and cheers

Over the years I have made plenty of homebrew beer and stout....most of it tasted like homebrewed dishwater, but of late I have had some real success. At the moment I am brewing a Coopers’ stout and I should be able to bottle it in about a week.

The very first brew my mate Dennis and I made, was a disaster. When we bought the can of malt we didn’t read the label properly and the can was Malt (and Cod Liver Oil). Back then it was illegal to brew at home and the malt was, if I remember correctly, bought at a pharmacy.
The brew kit I have has a screw lid with a port for a manometer and I have always had trouble making a good seal and the manometer has not been able to do its job properly. Ideally, when the brew is fermenting, the gas escapes through the water in the manometer indicating fermentation is still occurring. I replaced the lid and manometer with clingwrap tied down with elastic bands and the gas escapes through a pinhole in the clingwrap...simple.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

'Strike that..reverse it'

Yesterday's post showed two of our wedding in '66 and one supposedly 40 years later. Our daughter Helen told me that the second photo wasn't taken just 5 years ago and that made me look closely at it. Same people gathered at some venue but it certainly isn't just 5 years ago. We all looked quite a bit younger in that pic and I had to agree with Helen. I was wearing a shirt which I cannot recall having and as I usually keep clothing for more that 5 years this is a much older photo...probably taken at a 30 year reunion.

So here is the photo taken in January 2006.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Padded post

I am a bit busy (read lazy) today so I will pad this post out with a couple of photos and some clever artwork.

The first picture is of our wedding on January 7th, 1966 with Joan's sister Dorothy and my Best Man, Dennis. The second is of the four of us 40 years later...just 5 years before my Joan died. I am not ashamed that I tear-up when looking at past good times and I am not wallowing in grief.
and for the philosophers.......

Thursday, November 3, 2011

a good sales day

I decided to get rid of a bit of obsolete photography gear. It isn’t completely obsolete...some people who resist the shift to digital photography are still hanging on to their old gear and like the bloke who bought my gear today, some like to do a dig/analogue mix. Anyway, he rang early this morning and raced across from Armadale and took the lot....a Nikon SLR with dedicated flash and two lenses as well as a studio flash with a flash meter all for $175 and a lot of photography talk.

I also advertised Helen’s car and a woman is coming to look at it around 5.30pm. It should sell @ $2,000.

About a week ago I mentioned the spring plague of aphids on our roses. I sprayed them with water and knocked them all off the tender new rose shoots, but next day they were back again, the little suckers. After a couple of days of this, I observed them climbing back up the rose bushes to suck some more. I decided to hit them with a fly spray. Did the job.

Stop press! I sold Helen’s Mazda. A young woman from Rockingham came to test drive it with a mechanical-type friend and they returned saying...’We love it!’ As we were filling out the transfer documents she said will you accept an offer of $1800? What do you say to someone who wants to buy what you are selling with such enthusiasm? I replied...’ you should have come into my house after test driving the car presenting a negative attitude and showing a worried look...but I see you are hooked and want it now, so sorry two grand or no deal.’ She bought it and I am confident she got a good deal. I told her all the minor problems the car had and I know I would not be a successful used car dealer.

The agent looking after my unit down at Orelia rang to tell me that the young lady who looked like the best client for tenancy had a reference from her previous unit saying that she was a great tenant. The agent has at her disposal, information about tenancies and it turns out that the good reference was penned by a relative. The agent suggested that I reject that application. Another ‘Home Open’ is tomorrow and I should get a tenant in soon.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Globalisation on a not-so-grand scale

Yesterday when I did a ‘small shop’ I bought a few hash browns from the supermarket deli. They were labelled ‘Made in USA’. Unbelievable! They cost 40c each and had travelled all the way from the U.S. to my local supermarket in Western Australia, which is a long way from the U.S..
Were they much cheaper from the U.S., or don’t we know how to make potato patties?

Well CHOGM has finished, the Queen and her hubby have departed. Prince Philip famous for his gaffes, didn’t disappoint this time. At a garden party at Government House he commented on a group of High School students who were the Head Boys and Girls of their schools saying...’It’s obvious they didn’t choose the attractive ones then’. Bye Phil!

During CHOGM the state and federal governments maintained a high level of security in Perth. This caused some anger amongst quite a few local folk, but I reckon the last thing sleepy Perth needs is world headlines about the Queen or indeed one or more of the Commonwealth leaders getting bumped off. Similarly planned street protests were curtailed somewhat and as a result no damage done. As an observer from afar of such street protests, they have the real potential to escalate to riots and major damage and looting. All quiet on the Western Front!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Alternative medicines

Yesterday I planted a Mango tree in the front yard of our house. Along the lines of ‘At my age I don’t even buy green bananas’, I figured I would not be around to see it fruit. Mango trees look quite nice and I thought I would plant it as a legacy to whoever eventually buys this property.
Grow large very quickly little Mango.

A few days ago the local daily newspaper had a story about a woman who is suffering from cancer and has shunned chemotherapy and embarked on alternative cures. These include Ozone and Vitamin C therapy, Oxygen therapy.....via oral or intravenous hydrogen peroxide.

On her daughter’s blog are a number of alternative treatments which could seem plausible to the very desperate.

‘Some of the most renowned alternative cancer treatment centres in the world won’t accept patients unless they’ve:

A: Completed a course in Transcendental Meditation

B: Given up sugar and dairy for at least four months

C: Had their amalgam fillings and root canals removed

The answer, which might come as a surprise to many, is C’.

It would seem that ‘dead’ teeth, as in root canals, are causing cancer,sinusitis, MS, arthritis and eye disease; and probably in-grown toenails. The removal of the ‘dead' teeth results in an immediate cure.

There is a video with the rider that ‘this is the information that the Pharmaceutical Industry doesn’t want you to see’

My Joan went down the chemo and radiation path. The failure of the treatments was simply that she was at stage 4 and more time was all we expected of the treatment.

If you wish to read about Mum not having chemo blog, find it here.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Never too late??

I received this email below today.....just a little too late I would have thought.

Have you ever wondered why a dictator would give himself a lowly rank of colonel when he could have; like Idi Amin, bestowed upon himself all the known titles in English and probably a few in Arabic.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Of guns, wars and armies

Gadaffi is dead and I suspect, also a few innocent bystanders killed by bullets falling from the skies. The middle-east custom of firing into the air in celebration must make munitions manufacturers very happy. About falling bullets.

Now that Libya is now ‘free’, is the new government going to try and collect all those weapons?

A nice quote from an anonymous source...’Neither Smith nor Wesson is known to prompt mental acuity in those they are pointed at’.

Guns in private ownership in Western Australia are closely controlled and must be locked up in steel gun safes. In recent times there have been a few violent home invasions with the gun safe the main target. Is it possible that some clerk in the Police Firearm Licensing department is selling information about the address and type of firearms stored there?

Of guns, wars and armies, I am always amused how, throughout history, each side, the goodies and the baddies, have sought the blessing of God in battles and if victorious, thank Him for his blessing and assistance.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


I have a friend in the UK who I have never met or even talked to....maybe it is time to Skype her? She is a fellow traveller with my Joan on the cancer trail. Throughout Joan’s trial, she, along with Bernie in Canada, gave us encouragement and hope for a good outcome of Joan’s treatment for cancer. Unfortunately my dear wife passed away in February this year.

Carole has had a relapse with a scan showing metastasizes to her bones from her cancer. Thousands of humans die each day, but I am emotionally linked to Carole.

We may well be socially incompatible. We might not like each other should we meet, but this bastard disease has linked us as friends on the journey of life. I am not a ‘huggy’ person, but I wish I could give her a comforting hug right now.
Here is a link to Carole's blog

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Kamikazi Pilot

On Saturday when we went to the airshow we were standing near a barrier when an old Asian fellow struck up a conversation. He told us that he was in the Japanese Airforce during WW2. I looked at him and asked if he was not indeed Chinese, to which he replied that he was born in Japan pre-war and grew up in Japan. Unbelievable, but he introduced himself to us as ‘Chow Mein’. Oh yeah?

I asked him what unit he was in and he replied that he was in a Kamikazi unit and the rest of his unit wiped themselves out on allied ships in the Pacific. I hesitated, but went on to ask him how he survived.

He name is really Chicken Chow Mein!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Langley Park Fly-In

This weekend, Langley Park which is on the foreshore of the Swan River and very close to the Perth CBD was host to a ‘Fly In’ of over 100 planes on the grass strip which was Perth’s original airstrip back in the 1920s. Langley Park is used for many events throughout the year and I am always impressed how the park grass recovers after car rallies, circuses etc. I believe that Langley Park is unique in as much it is the only place in the world where aircraft fly from a grass airstrip in the heart of a city.

I took lots of photos but will only post a few here. Aircraft buffs will recognise most of the planes I have posted. There is a 1917 vintage Sopwith Pup in the lineup.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Of crisps and aphids

I visited brother Graham, had a couple of beers and sampled some of the ‘New’ vegemite flavoured Smith’s Crisps. Very nice subtle flavour even if you don’t much like vegemite. Americans, generally, don’t like vegemite, but then, they think that Dr Pepper’s is actually drinkable....cough syrup if you ask me! Interesting history of Smiths Crisps here.
Our roses; they are still also Joan’s roses, are suffering with the spring infestations of aphids. It is not a biggy, they are easily washed off with a hose. I have to look after the roses as Joan in her last couple of weeks told Helen to watch that I don’t get rid of them. A couple have died without any malice on my part. I will replace them soon. There is a space in the front garden and over the weekend I will look for a mango tree. There are lots of mango trees around here and they bear well. Helen and James have a large mango which earlier this year had lots of large mangoes at the time they were inspecting the house prior to buying it.

Friday, October 14, 2011

To sell or not to sell

Yesterday I went down to the unit to do some final touch-ups. It turned into one of Kev’s mess-ups instead. I found that one of the light bulbs had died and decided to go to the local shopping centre and buy a new one. Once outside I found I had locked the house keys inside. Damn, I would have to return home and hope to find the spare set of keys. Problem #2: the remote for the security gate was also in the unit. Hmn. I walked past other units until I found someone home and fortunately they had a remote and I was able to get out and head home. When I returned, I realised that now I was locked out. Fortunately I was able to raise the same person with a bit of yelling and after getting into the unit I felt a bit less embarrassed. Are regular readers seeing a pattern here?

Later I went to see an estate agent about either selling or renting. It seems that selling is not an option at the moment as they have a number of units on the books and sold only one in the last year, so renting is probably how I will go. My cousin Ted suggested that I advertise the unit for sale and throw in Helen’s car as a sweetener. The car is good, but is worth only about $1500 on the market. Might work! Don’t know if I can be bothered with the selling bit though. A few pics of the unit...put your hand up if you want to buy it.