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 good....no 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 be..an 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 Australian......no 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 technology...an 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 basin...new 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 here...it 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 photos...one 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.