Sunday, July 31, 2011

Of times past

Yesterday I collected a Mac from a chap. He said it wouldn’t get up. but I thought I might be able to coax it into joy as yet.

On the way home from collecting the computer I visited my cousin Val. We talked lots and I asked about a house the family lived in in East Perth. It was a semi detached house of around 1870 vintage. owned by the government Railways and rented to railways employees. Peter, Val’s husband, worked for the Railways.

Val told a fascinating story about the neighbors and the ongoing family strife all around them. Later at home I thought about the story and rang her to suggest that she write her story. Hope she does as it has the makings of a movie. I could see the story being written by Tim Winton or the late Tom Hungerford; both wrote wonderful pieces about suburban life.

Sometimes when I think about times past I remember how we, without Google, the universal encyclopedia, got information. We weren’t wealthy enough to have set of encyclopedia and to be honest, I doubt we would have used it had we owned one. Most of what I knew then was from questioning others who did know lots more than me about most things.

I also remember the horrific arithmetical disaster of the old currency...Pounds, Shillings and Pence. Cruel teachers would set some long division ‘sums’ and whilst kids worked through them go on a world trip.

An example of a ‘keep ‘em busy’ maths lesson would be like this........

£17/13/11 ÷ 27

For the younguns, that reads seventeen Pounds, thirteen Shillings and eleven Pence divided by twenty seven. Nasty teachers could add a halfpenny to the eleven pence.

Given that there are 20 shillings in a pound, 12 pence in a shilling, there is a whole lot of ‘carrying on’ to be done.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Donation to the Cancer Council

Yesterday I delivered the cash raised at the sale of Joan’s fabrics etc to the Cancer Council of W.A.. I was not prepared for the legalities of such a donation and the questions to determine how it was deemed.

Was it in her will? Did she nominate that exact amount? etc etc.
I explained with some difficulty, that before she died, she had wished that the cash from sale of her fabrics, dies etc be donated to the Cancer Council. That sorted out, a couple of employees went into ‘The Counting Room’ .....a store room I suspect, and after two counts came back with a figure of $2,200.
I was given an interim receipt which is posted here for any people who donated money to see.
I must find out if the other money raised by the sale of Joan’s books has been donated as yet and if it is donated with reference to Joan.

Joan’s friend Juliet was the driving force in the garage sales to raise that money. My sincere thanks to her for all her efforts.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bad Cat

Our cat has been giving me the shits. For some reason it has decided that it is better to take a pee inside the house rather than in its tray or going outside. For those unfamiliar with cat pee, as I am unfamiliar with skunk pee, it is overpowering.

The first time she did it was about two months ago and every effort to shampoo the smell out has failed miserably. She then decided that the bathroom mat was a good spot and after that she moved on to a pair of my trousers which were laid out on the bed. The trousers and Joan’s bed quilt copped it badly. The trousers have been washed and the quilt also cleaned and put out in the sun to dry and air. She is smart enough to know that I am very unhappy and is hiding from me in the three rooms I have banished her to.

Photo of Amber thinking that I can’t see her sunk into a mohair rug.

I am seriously thinking that I will return her to the Cat Haven. I can't see how I can modify her at this stage. Maybe a new owner can start over.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Bikies and a mass murderer

The Western Australian Bikies’ war is still simmering. Last night a local tattoo parlour run by one of the groups was firebombed for a second time. As I passed it on my way to the Post Office this morning,I saw a large contingent of cops, TV crews and a surly looking mob of bikies standing opposite the Tatpalour. After I had done my post...a couple of DVDs to Bernie in Canada, I returned home to get my camera and see if I could get a picture for the blog. I didn’t want to get too close to the tattooed, bearded nasties so my pic is from from some distance. Nothing to see here folks....move along. Got to be some payback coming soon!

The Norway tragedy is horrible. I taught a Norwegian exchange student at Willetton SHS in the late 1980s. We got along well although he seemed a little more mature than most of his year 12 cohort. He came across as a bit cold, which may have been because he hadn’t yet thawed out. A couple of years later he returned to W.A. for a visit and specifically came to visit me.

Back to the massacre in Norway. It is quite strange how ill prepared the government of Norway was for an act such as this. Utoya, where the youth camp shootings took place is only about 20 miles from Oslo. Even though mobile phone calls alerted Oslo as soon as the shooting started, it took police and military an hour to get there. They didn’t have helicopters capable of taking security forces and presumably couldn’t borrow any, so they drove to a point near the island of Utoya and commandeered local pleasure craft with almost disastrous results. meanwhile Breivik had 90 minutes to casually murder 85 people.

I am sure more transport and personnel are available in sleepy Perth should something similar happen here.

Probably not the time to mention it, but the island is owned by the Workers Youth League and all the youth on the island were members of the political party presently in government. I think the average Australian would worry about political youth groups. I would see it as a little too similar to Hitler-Jugend.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Moon and space

Today the US space shuttle landed for the last time. It is the youngest of the shuttles and will now go to a space museum in LA. They are such big and ungainly looking craft and I am always amazed at how graceful they look when landing after a mission. I’ve been in quite a few ungainly landings on commercial aircraft...some have tested the build of the plane, bouncing several times along the strip.

NASA has been told that the shuttle program is too expensive to maintain and future flights to the orbiting space station will be made in a Russian rocket or commercial vehicles.

With the poor condition of the US economy I would think that there would be lots of back-room talk about pulling the US forces out of Afghanistan pretty quickly to save lots of money. Then, I guess, lots of servicemen and women would leave the military and try and seek employment causing more problems for Pres. Obama.

As I went out front this morning to collect the paper I saw the moon in the sky and thought of the moon landings...1969 was it? We were teaching at Kwinana High School at the time and every person in the school watched as man set foot on the moon for the first time. A moment in history!

Boy, how the money is rolling in. I received this welcome email message a couple of days ago. I think they may have me mixed up with my brother who recently bought a new VW Passat, so I guess I will have to forward it on to him. Maybe he’ll give me a few dollars from his win.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Linotype and letterpress

Sunday afternoon I watched a TV presentation about the history of printing. Having been a Graphic Arts teacher in the 1980s it grabbed my attention. The show was about a printing museum in Two Rivers, Wisconsin USA and I would visit it if I had the chance.
It is a working museum with artisans assembling lead lettering and large wooden letters to do artistic printing in the mode of the time. Large headlines such as hit the press at the end of WW2 were made using wooden letters rather than lead.

When I taught Graphic Arts at Rockingham SHS, letterpress printing was well out of fashion and lithography in the form of offset printing was the go. We didn’t have to gather individual letters in a gallery to make up words and sentences and after printing, place the individual letters back in their alphabetical homes. Arduous work and very time consuming. In large printing works typeface was made in ‘slugs’ using a linotype machine. This wonderful invention was still in use in the newspaper industry up until the 1970s and some small outfits still use them. See more on YouTube here and here.

I was reminded of letterpress printing when on Friday, I received an invitation to Rick and Katherine’s wedding. The invitation is beautifully done and the print has a fine but deep impression in the paper, as it would have if it were printed by letterpress. I am assuming it is a newer form of lithography which would allow for a raised text on the printing plate. Must investigate.

My cold is improving. I found a couple of packets of antibiotics in the medicine cupboard and decided to use one of them. Cilamox (amoxycillin) is one often used for chest infections. They were prescribed for Joan, but not used.

Once again I went to Restaurant Helen yesterday to have dinner. Helen prepared Lamb Souvlaki wraps. Delish! Lamb, with a Greek salad, sour cream and chilli sauce

Friday, July 15, 2011

cold and flu tablets

I had a bad night last night with the rapid onset of a heavy cold. I had to stuff tissues in my nostrils to stem the flow of ‘the runnies’. I can’t complain when I think of Joan’s last four days.

Later in the morning I went to our regular pharmacist to get a pack of ‘cold and flu’ tablets,. The girl who served me summonsed one of the Pharmacists and he advised me that because I was on blood pressure tabs he wouldn’t give them to me. I told him thanks and went to another nearby pharmacy and straight-faced told them I am not on any medications. They had to register my ID before supplying the tabs. The government in Western Australia is reining in sales of Pseudo Ephedrine which the bad boys buy to make speed and this cold and flu stuff is loaded with it.

Our son, Martin is soon to shift to Melbourne and today I went down to his (our) unit to do some maintenance and suss out what I will have to do to easily rent it out once Martin has left.

There will be lots to do to make it rentable.

Helen and James have invited me to dinner and I am typing this on her laptop. Starting the meal with Garlic Prawns, then Rack of Lamb with roast vegetables and green beans and herbs from the garden.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A San Francisco wedding

My niece, Katherine, is marrying her man Rick in September. The wedding is taking place in their home town, San Francisco. Daughter Helen and James are travelling to SF for the wedding as are Katherine’s mother and father and a couple of their good friends Greg and Janice. Joan and I were invited, but since Joan died in late February I have not been inclined to travel and won’t be attending.

Dorothy, Katherine’s mother, is having a book of friends’ recipes printed and bound as a present. I am contributing a recipe for Ceviche. Helen is writing up one of Joan’s favourites....French Style Chicken with Rosemary, her own specialty, Quick Fish Pie and James contributed his Asian Style Pork Ribs.

My Ceviche recipe was given to me by a colleague I taught with in Papua New Guinea in the 1970s. Mario Cortesano is Argentinean. We keep in touch still.

Here is the Ceviche recipe


Ideally Spanish Mackerel is used to make Ceviche.

The flesh is cut into strips of roughly 8 - 10mm X 50mm lengths and put into a glass or ceramic dish.

Cover the fish with newly squeezed lemon juice. Season with fresh ginger, garlic, chillies, chopped spring onions and salt. The amount of each seasoning depends on individual taste.

The 'cooking' should take about three hours. Ceviche should be eaten at a single sitting to avoid contamination because the process does not involve heat in the 'cooking'.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

VoIP and Skype

I have finished the rooftop repairs to our house and it would look pretty good to a blind man galloping past on a horse. That's not quite looks good and I am pleased with it.

The garage door closer was installed and I was well satisfied with this tradesman’s work and price. He was very professional and did not leave a single piece of anything behind as is the norm with most ‘tradies’. This door closer should see me out.

I cancelled the VoIP phone service with my ISP as the quality of the reception, either at my end or for the recipient of any call was usually very poor. I was paying $20 per month in the hope that I could cancel my landline and get free calls in Aus and Internationally. Skype gives me good quality phone calls free to other Skype users and to most international phones at a cheap rate. Skype is also VoIP and I cannot understand why I cannot get the same quality through my ISP. If you would like to wade through some technical info about VoIP it can be found here. Heavy stuff!

When I was buying materials at Bunnings Hardware for my roof repair job I became aware of a little bit of discrimination, shall I call it, on my behalf. I passed a couple; a professional painter and a young sales lady in the paint department. She was offering the man advice on his selection of paint. At the time I thought that I would have sought out a male to give me such advice, but later thought how stupid that was as the male sales people were no older than she is and they would have received the same training. I have been trying to think of some sort of reverse what situation would I seek out a female instead of a male for advice? Help me here.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Our daughter Helen has a friend visiting from Kiribati a very small nation in the Pacific Ocean. Maria is working in Kiribus, as the locals call it, on an AusAID program to skill-up local people for the inevitable exodus of the inhabitants to either Australia and or New Zealand. The program is called the Technical and Vocational Training Sector Strengthening Project. At present there is no industry there. People grow coconuts and fish the ocean merely for local consumption and the population will need broader skills once they move south. They will also need to cope with a vastly different climate.

The main island of Kiribus is around 30 kilometres long and from 100 - 300 metres wide. It is situated north of Fiji and on the equator.

It isn’t sinking and the ocean isn’t significantly rising. The main concern is that the water wells are becoming salty and Kiribus is in a long drought and so, no rainfall. The ‘exodus’ when it eventually takes place is termed ‘Migration with Dignity’.

Maria has been in Kiribati for 18 months and is returning today flying through Brisbane and Nauru. She will be there for another 12 months.

More on Kiribati here.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Home maintenance

After cutting and replacing some 10 terracotta roof tiles, there is no evidence of my paint spill disaster.

I decided to make up the fancy railing myself rather than seeking out a joinery shop. It worked out well despite the fact that I have few woodworking tools here. A couple of readers confused the photo of the railing with my ladder and advised me not to get on the roof using ‘that’ ladder. It’s OK folks, I do have a real aluminium ladder albeit a bit bent from my previous fall some years ago.

The finished trim to be fitted when James helps me fix it back up on the weekend.
This is a similar part of the roof.

The garage door man came and made a few adjustment to the door mechanism and accepted $100 as a ‘cashy’. No sooner was he gone than the door started playing up again. I rang a different door man and he is fitting a new closer on Monday for an all-up price of $625.00.

I have just received the Water Corporation’s Annual Service Account.
Water is an essential and the supply to my house of clean, almost pure water, is great. But now that I am more aware of the costs of running a household since Joan has gone, I don’t know how lower income people can manage the weekly bills rolling in. In some ways I believe homeless people would not manage even if the government gave them accommodation.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

You lose some and you lose some

I have noticed some peeling paint on facia on our roof, so yesterday I decided to tackle the paint job. Unfortunately, as with most jobs I take on, this small job has taken on humungous dimensions.

Firstly, at age 71, I should be banned from climbing ladders and walking about on tiled roofs. I found myself getting a bit shaky getting back down the ladder remembering a 5 metre fall I had a few years ago breaking and dislocating my shoulder. Got to be very careful these days.

As well as painting I discovered that a piece of fancy trim was rotten with dry rot. Dry rot is actually caused by dampness. I will have to get a joiner’s shop to make me a new piece. Next I managed to spill around a litre of oil based paint on the tiles at the top of the roof and naturally gravity caused the white stream to cover about ten tiles before I could race down the ladder and collect rags to stem the flow. Fortunately I have plenty of spare tiles to replace painted ones.
I know I should have called in a tradesman, but I will have saved an estimated $1,000 and I have had some very average results from ‘tradesmen’.

I have a garage door service bloke coming this morning to sort out my door closer. The closer needs an expert to stop it playing around. He charges $150 call out which includes 30 minutes service time, which I am sure will include a new circuit board or something and a couple of hours fitting time. So what I am saving on the roof will probably probably be eaten up by the garage door.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Dragonfly winter

Most of our rellies and friends know that Joan was very organised...all the fabrics etc we sold were catalogued. In the months leading up to her death she discussed things she wanted done after she was gone such as the solar roof panels. She was concerned that I would have difficulty coping by myself and to that end did lots of grocery shopping for me. It is now months since she left us and I have probably another year’s supply of groceries, laundry detergents etc etc.
Pictured is just one side of the pantry with sauces,dry goods etc

I can do my washing and when absolutely necessary, some ironing. This morning I found this beauty on my briefs on the clothes line.
Beautiful eh? Not my briefs; the dragonfly.

It seems that there is more money coming my way. Out of the blue I received this email message.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A retirement

Last week I was invited out to a group gathering at a restaurant which was to be yesterday evening. That small group work at Castlereagh Special School where I have been helping out with their computers for some years.

I begged off the invitation as I am not yet up to socialising. I now feel uneasy that I didn’t take up their kind offer because I ended up attending a function at Willetton SHS for the retirement of Peter, one of my colleagues when I taught there.

I didn’t know about this function until I arrived home at 5pm and found a phone message telling me about it. I owe Peter. He attended my mother’s funeral and Joan’s funeral and it was only right that I front up to his show. It was mostly over by the time I arrived at the school and I stayed for only an hour. I left with a good feeling of camaraderie with Pete and other colleagues I had worked with.

Friday, July 1, 2011

A troublesome wallet...and keys

In this morning’s mail (the postie delivered type) I received the Mac Powerbook battery I ordered from China. It is on charge now and I will give it a thorough test before giving the machine to a worthy cause.
An original battery goes for around A$140. and Australian after-market batteries (made in China) sell for A$70. This one cost me A$30 which included postage from HK.

This morning I went to see my GP to get some scripts for medications I take for cholesterol and blood pressure. The doc suggested that I get a flu shot seeing that it is paid for by the government. Not sure that that is the best reason to get a jab in the arm, but I did get it.

I went to the GP’s rooms with a worried brow as I had lost my wallet somewhere....where? Upon returning home I searched the house another 10 times without luck before deciding to return to the liquor store where I bought a couple of bottles of bubbly last night. I would have been very cranky if I had left it there and they hadn’t phoned me to tell me they had my wallet. One last search of the car found it wedged between the driver’s seat upright and the centre door pillar. That bloody wallet....and my car keys, are drivng me nuts with their hiding tactics.