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.