Monday, December 31, 2012

Destination Bali

Just signed up for a Bali trip.  The local Flight Centre did the job in around 30 minutes and on the 10th of February, cousin Val and I are off for a seven day trip to Bali.

The young lady who arranged everything was charming and very efficient.  I asked if she would mind if I took her photo to put up on my blog.  She was a bit hesitant and probably thought  I was a sleazy old man....don’t blame her; but after she had a quick look at the blog let me take this blurrygraph of her.

She is originally from New Zealand and spent ten years in the NZ Navy.  she looks so young I figure she joined the navy when she was ten.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

$31 million OzLotto prize

As Charlie said in Willy Wonka.....’I just thought you would want to know, I didn’t win a Golden Ticket’.

I didn’t win the $30M lotto on Saturday night either.  I didn’t hold much hope as the odds on a $30m prize in Australia are estimated to be around 1 chance in 20,000,000.

Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve.  I have had two invites one from a friend Margaret and another to my daughter’s place for an early night.  I am not feeling too sociable at the moment and may stay home, have a bottle of bubbly and ‘turn in’ nice and early.

I am still finding interesting artefacts of my late wife Joan’s many stashes around the house.  Recently I found a large notepad with outlines for several novels she was going to start writing.   One had real promise.  It is a saga of several generations of a  fictitious colonial family in  Papua New Guinea.   Most interesting reading her notes and plot ideas.  It is a pity she never got around to writing it.  I don’t have her writing skills or I would attempt to finish it.  

Miss you Joan.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas 2012

We had a small family group for Christmas Day lunch, with sufficient food for a dozen more people.  Roast pork, ham, prawns, ceviche, salads, fruit and a lovely cake and ample drinks.   It reminded me of a quite wonderful song by Tim Minchin called White Wine in the Sun.   You can see/hear it on Youtube here.

Time for the cake..nephew Brian and his wife Lilli, my daughter Helen, brother Graham and son-in-law James with Kev in the background.

The roses live comfortably in a large pot with my wife Joan’s ashes.  She would approve.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Damn those Mayans

So today is The Day.     I have decided not to do anything which may be redundant.  No kitchen cleanup, shopping, buying fuel etc. Haven’t decided whether to clean my teeth or even wipe my bum.

Read about it all explained here.   Better read it soon though, as it is All Over Red Rover at around 10pm tonight; doesn’t matter where you are in the world.

One of the possible predictions for today is the sun burning out.  It could well be so!
The distance to the sun from earth is calculated as 92,955,807 miles and the speed of light is 186,282 miles per second.  That means that in about 8 minutes the last of the sun’s warming rays would cease and we will all start turning on torches and lighting fires to keep warm.

On the other hand I will continue cleaning up the house for the family gathering here on Christmas Day.  Got to make some Ceviche, buy a ham and drinks and ring the mob to see what they are bringing for the Post-Apocalyptic celebrations.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Family History

My cousin Ted is a bit of a family history buff.  He recently returned from a European trip where he traced his (our) antecedents back to 1700+ in Wales.  The Lee family is on my mother’s side and the family had an interesting circuitous journey from Wales to Western Australia.   My brother, cousin and I and Ted’s immediate family met at a tavern for lunch last week and he gave us each a thumb drive with photos of birth, marriages and death certificates, churches and gravesites etc.  Most interesting day.

The Locks (my father’s side of our family) have also been traced back to Somerset and we have met a distant relative from there who now lives in Queensland.  Sorry to report that neither side of our families have convicts in them.

Both families emigrated from Britain to other states, Victoria and South Australia and later moved to Western Australia in the early 1900s.

Both my father and mothers' families were farmers in the Western Australian wheatbelt out from the town of Narrogin.  I have fond memories of spending time with grandparents, uncles and aunties from the Lees and the Locks during school holidays.

I wonder if someone will look back on me in the future.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Santa is in store!

Father Christmas is in store!
My friend Joy took four of her grandkids along to see FC at a large shopping centre near her home.  After a long wait in line she and the kids eventually got to see him.  He told Joy that they were a very nice looking family and that if he wasn’t so busy he would take them to the North Pole to have dinner with him.
Joy asked him what he would be having to eat for dinner.  He told them that he was going to be eating reindeer.  Rudolph had been naughty and he was getting the chop and into the pot.  The kids didn’t seem fazed by this and one of the younger ones asked Santa if he knew Rudolph. “know him?  I am going to eat him’ replied Santa. ‘He has been very bad’.  And whale was also on the menu. 'If you eat whale you will go up and down' declared Santa.

This Santa is either very perceptive to deliver that speech to kids who would not  be traumatised, or is a complete nutter.   Joy's grandkids weren't traumatised and she was amused.    Me too!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Business is booming!

The furore over the prank phone call to King Edward V11 hospital by a couple of young Australian DJs has gone feral in Britain.
It seemed harmless enough, but the nurse who was sucked in by the call thought it really was QE2 and Phil calling up to see how Prince William’s wife Catherine was going.  A couple of days later she sadly took her own life.  The British press and many Britishers are baying for justice.    
DJs the world over pull is almost mandatory for them to do so.

The notes the nurse left before her demise have not been made public, but it is said that what she wrote in one of the notes was highly critical of the hospital administration.  It would seem that they may have treated her badly and shamed her.

I wonder if any suicides occurred after the 1938 War of the Words broadcast scare narrated by Orson Welles.  It wasn’t a prank, but people tuning in to the radio play late, thought it was really was a report of an alien invasion.  Thousands of people panicked.

Australia and Australians are regular targets of the Brits.....much of it deserved.  Bring on the Republic!

Business is booming!  At least the nail business is.  Every shopping centre has a nail treatment centre.  I hesitate to look into them as I walk by, but I have never seen them without customers.  These ‘treatment centres’ seem to be run mainly by Chinese folk.
I find it amazing how different nationalities tend to run different businesses.  Service stations often seem to have Indian owners.  Lotto agencies are popular with Chinese folk.   Interesting; not important, but interesting.  The last time we visited the U.S. we noticed that, in California at least, motels were often run by Indians.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Hiri

A little more about Papua New Guinea.

In the years of my first stint as a teacher in PNG, I was Teacher in Charge of a primary school in the Gulf of Papua.  The Gulf is a swampy area with lots of sago palms from which sago (not as we know it) was produced and bundled for sale in Port Moresby.   It was transported by coastal traders.    

In times past....long past, it was part of a trading journey by the Motu people from around what came to be know as Port Moresby.  The Motu were great pot makers, having abundant clay deposits and an annual journey by Motuans in large Lakatoi before the Laurabada (South East winds) exchanged pots for bundles of sago with the people of the Gulf.   The Lakatoi could not easily ‘tack’ across the wind and crews had to wait until they could run back home in front of the Lahara (North West winds).    When I was at Arehava in the early 1960s, villagers were still using Motuan clay pots for cooking.   I imagine aluminium pots now rule.

That trading journey was called The Hiri and because the Lakatoi  had to wait for the change of season and the arrival of the Lahara, the Gulf people learned to speak a simplified version of Motu, later called Hiri Motu.  Hiri Motu became one of the two Lingua Franca in Papua New Guinea, the other one was Tok Pisin (talk pidgin).  Motu spread throughout Papua mainly through its use by the PNG Constabulary and eventually was renamed Police Motu.  

Picture of a Lakatoi from the 1920s

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Australian live cattle and sheep exports have come in for a lot of greeny criticism of late.  We have seen how middle east countries and Indonesian abattoirs have been slaughtering our exported animals most cruelly.  Up until now there has been a feeling of  dismay at mainly Muslim countries’ treatment of  our exports, but yesterday it seems that an Israeli abattoir is just as bad.    Surely it is time to do Halal/Kosher slaughter of beef and lamb in Australian abattoirs where there are strict controls covering animal cruelty.

I believe that every meat eater would rather not know anything about the killing of animals for our delicious meat products.  I don’t want to know about it.

In the early 1970s we brought home one of my Papua New Guinean students with us on annual leave. A neighbour of my mother and father was a government Meat Inspector at a local abattoir here in Western Australia and he arranged for me and Michael to visit the abattoir where he was stationed.  At the time of our visit, cattle were being ‘processed’.  From a large pen, steers were herded up a ramp to a point where each was killed with a shot to the head by a special pistol.   Other cows in line must have perceived that something bad was about to happen to them because they were making loud noises which I had not heard from cattle before.  We drove home from that place without conversation.

When I was a youngster, I would visit my family’ farms during holiday times.  I often saw the slaughter of a sheep for the family table.  I can recall the sheep trussed up in a wheelbarrow, its large eyes in panic as its throat was cut and allowed to bleed out and die after a few minutes.

No pictures for this post.

Bon appetit.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Big Bang Theory

Feeling a little down this evening with my daughter and her hubby in Melbourne.  I often join them for Friday drinkies.   That was until I remoted to The Big Bang Theory, and things got much better.   I love that show...and Seinfeld and Becker etc etc.

I can watch, and sort of, enjoy the British shows on TV, but never get a charge out of them like the BBT and other U.S. quality shows.

I guess I am an Americaphile, but I cannot stand the so called ‘info commercials’ selling American products on an endless loop on TV; products such as non-stick fry- pans, steam cleaners, magic paint restorers etc etc.  Yuck!

Back to my bottle of Bubbly.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Replacement GPS

I have received the replacement car GPS from a Chinese firm operating out of Sydney.  I am well satisfied with their service.  The GPS is obviously made in China because of the Chinglish text in the instruction manual, but I am very impressed with its operation and many features.  Also with the price of A$87.00 which includes unlimited world map updates for free.
I don’t think I will be using many of the features, such as Bluetooth phone calls, the photo viewer, eBook reader, audio player and games. The voice is very bossy when I exceed the speed limit which is a good thing.

A friend, Margaret, has had a handyman come and repair her sheet steel roof. I had previously done a temporary repair to stop her back room flooding during recent heavy rain, so I climbed up on the roof to check out what he had done.  I have included a photo of his handiwork and even though I am not a roofing tradesman I could not have left the job as he has.  All the sharp bits left curled up could be fatal to any dumb birds landing there.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


Yesterday, with a more than an ample serving of Champagne, I had a small mimsy (Lewis Carrol - Jaberwocky) thinking of my late wife Joan.
I don’t normally feel depressed about things, but I am allowed to feel a bit mimsy on occasions.   
Find Jaberwocky here

Here is a link to an award winning short film. Quite wonderful!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

116 all up

Yesterday was our daughter Helen’s birthday and it is mine today.   I was invited around to Helen and James’ house for dinner and an exchange of presents.  Helen  turned 43 and I have been around for 73 years.  Helen’s Birthday Party is on the weekend.  Today I am having a few friends around for food, drinks and a few laughs. 

On Tuesday, Helen went for an early morning interview for a teaching position at a nearby primary school.  The school is in a good area and has  a good reputation with many innovative projects.  At the interview, she was told there were 188 applicants for the position, but only a small group getting to the interview stage.  She felt it went well, but knows that there are other factors in employment, such as the fact that there may already be a ‘chosen one’ and the interview process may well be merely a matter of form.  I hope she is successful.
Some more pics of Helen at various stages of the 43 years.
Martin and Helen at a swimming hole in Papua New Guinea 1973
Helen and Joan
Helen and Martin
Graduation Edith Cowan University
                                          Helen and James' wedding

When Helen was about 8 years of age she thought that we were going to replace her with a new daughter.  She left us this note and hid in the back yard.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Losing things

My friend Margaret is also a single person.  She lost her husband Haddon to Prostate Cancer about two and a half years ago.   She is a caring person and our small group meets at her house about once a week for oldies tea and conversation.  Margaret can talk under water!

She wrote this piece recently and I thought it well worth sharing.  I enjoyed it.
                                               Click to enlarge

Picture of Margaret and her late husband Haddon.  I miss Haddon's company.  We were, what we in Australia call, 'mates' for around 58 years.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Oyster Beds

This morning a small group of ex Rover Scouts  had a reunion at a riverside restaurant in Fremantle.  This group has largely survived together over the 50+ years since we were active in the Scouts.   Many stories told and I was most impressed with the food and service.  I am the youngest of this group at nearly 73, and hope we can all stick around for a few more years.

The restaurant is the Red Herring and our daughter and husband James had their small wedding reception there in December 2010.  It has been on the river for many years and was originally an oyster farm.   Our group were regular patrons on a Friday night after Scout meeting when it was called The Oyster Beds.  Very up-market compared to those days when the popular fare was spag bolognese

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Sport of Kings?

Celebrated Australian Jockey, Damien Oliver, has been chastised for being naughty and placing a $10,000 bet on another horse in a race in which he was a rider.  He received a 8 month suspension.  For his $10,000 bet he claimed to have won just $11,000 on the race winner.   Short odds!  Did our Damien ride a slow race?

Shock horror!    Does anyone really believe that he is the only jockey, owner or trainer to do the same?  Graft and corruption is rife in the industry.   

My sister and husband owned a couple of racehorses and I recall Joan and I attending the Perth Cup with them to see one of their hopefuls race in one of the minor races on Cup Day.  To me horses are brown and the jockeys wear colourful garb and that is all I know about it.  On this occasion, Shirl and Don watching their nag streaking ahead of the field, suddenly yelled out a number of expletives as they saw their jockey stand up and grab a handful of reins and sit back down in the saddle.    We later watched a re-run on a screen and even I could see what happened.  
Our tax accountant recently told me that he was once a part owner of a not very good racehorse.  Being a sort of insider he suggested that some races are setups for the jockeys to cash in on selected races and tracks.    So, if you are going to bet on a nag you probably will have as much chance selecting a nag which has an appealing name or use a pin and blindfold to select your horse.

The car GPS I was so happy with, died on day two, so I bundled it up and posted it Parcel Postage to NSW for a return.  I have been watching its journey east on Australia Post's tracking service.  It has arrived at the retailer and I guess they will test it to see if I am not an old fart who doesn't understand electronics and post me a new one.

             Click to embiggen

Monday, November 19, 2012

28 car motorcade

There has been much written about a couple of top U.S. generals and their philandering in the last few days.  I tried to fathom it all out, but gave up.  Mistresses, emails, jealous spats etc.

General Petraeus has coughed up to his affair and smoothed it over with his wife saying that his wife ‘is far better than he deserves’.  All better!?
In all the words written about the affair(s) I found these the most incredible...

                               A 28 car motorcade?  

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Of skinks, goannas and lizards

Australia has a number of Goannas some of which live in suburbia.  A couple of days ago I photographed a ‘Bobtail’ goanna in my back yard.  The Bobtail has a long list of alternative names and herpetologists claim it has more names than any other lizard.  It has a blue tongue and one of its many names is Bluetongue lizard.  It is quite a slow moving lizard and its most popular dish is the snail; probably because that is easy for it to catch.  

Another Australia-wide goanna is the Sand Goanna, or in Western Australia, commonly called the racehorse goanna. Local aboriginals call it a Bungarra and that name is commonly used in W.A.   It is called a racehorse for its speed over short distances.  It runs up trees when threatened and when I was quite young my uncles and grandparents always warned me not to stand still in open fields in case a Racehorse goanna was nearby and decided to scoot up me thinking that I was a small tree.   Methinks a country myth.

         Racehorse goannas can grow to over 1 metre in length.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Six degrees of separation

This morning I had a visit from two ex-students from Willetton SHS.  I taught them at different stages of my time at that school and they recently met at university where they are studying.   Hwee is studying to be a Paramedic and Julie is soon to finish a nursing degree.  They didn’t attend Willetton at the same time and in the usual fashion of Six Degrees of Separation found that they  both knew me.

Much talk about other students and teachers of the time and we enjoyed some nice food for morning tea.   Hwee’s mum made me a large curry and rice.   Ta Mum!

This little get-together has left this old fella feeling very happy.  Thanks girls. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Total Solar Eclipse

Total Solar Eclipse over Australia
Here is a timetable for the eclipse

What? Western Australia misses out again.
Secede I say!

Yesterday I took delivery of a new GPS.  It is a 7" model and comes with many useful functions including eBook reader, music and video player.  It cost just $87 postage included.

In the packet was a strange extra which I cannot see what it does/holds.   I will contact the supplier for info.  Is it a phone holder?

  At this stage I am most impressed as it also offers unlimited free updates to the maps for which my other GPS charges about $160.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Portuguese Millipedes

I was recently asked to help a friend’s daughter resurrect a PC.  I do not normally work with Windows Operating Systems and in setting up a newer PC for her, went on a steep learning curve.     I removed the hard drive with all her data from the older PC and installed it in the replacement box.   It didn’t want to play for me.   

Apple computers (Macs) are only built by one manufacturer, Apple.   If I rehouse an Apple Hard Drive in another Mac it will run with no problems. 

There are probably thousands of builders of PCs and each machine has specific drivers for the mouse, keyboard, graphics and sound etc.  This newer PC is a Hewlett Packard and to get the drivers, one has to be online and download them for that specific model of HP.
It took about an hour to get it all running and at my age, I have resolved not to venture into PC land again.  I have a PC in my workshop setup specifically to download video from a camera and I must find a driver for the sound card to have it all running properly.

Most PC users will not come across this problem as they won’t be swapping Hard Drives from machine to machine.

Recent rains and warm weather have brought on a plague of Portuguese Millipedes at my daughter’s house.  Whilst they were away on a trip I sprayed around the base of outer walls with a residual product which terminated thousands of them overnight.  Portuguese Millipedes are not true millipedes and they are an introduced pest first found in South Australia and since spread across the South of Australia.  Another case of illegal immigrants.
See here...Portuguese Millipedes 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Winners and losers

In yesterday’s edition of ‘Shorpy’ there was a photograph and story about the Nash Metropolitan car.  It was a strange looking thing and didn’t last too long in production.  I recently saw one outside a pub in a nearby country town.  The original prototype was developed by Nash/Kelvinator and its designer might well have designed refrigerators.

Around the same time an Australian company which made washing machines and cement mixers tried their hand at building a car.  It only lasted two years in production and apart from its crazy design features, was introduced at the same time as The Morris Minor.  The Minor was only £68  dearer than the Lightburn Zeta, the score was Morris Minor 1.   Zeta 0.

My father-in-law bought one new and I drove it to a country field day.  It was not a great engineering feat.  It had a fibreglass body, a two cylinder engine with a motorcycle transmission with no reverse.  To reverse one had to stop the engine, then start the engine in reverse and that gave you four gears in reverse as well as forward.   

         The Lightburn cement mixers were good machines.

                      The first Morris Minor had some class.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Congrats Mr Obama!    I was hoping for this outcome.  Of course even though I cannot vote in a U.S. election...I could not avoid the  avalanche of media coverage world wide.  The world was pretty interested in the outcome too.  I guess the foreign policy of a new President might concern some peoples.....especially Iran.

I was hoping that Obama would be returned merely for the healthcare reforms he had introduced for the poor. Romney was going to dismantle ‘Obamacare’ as soon as he ascended to the throne.    It would seem, at least to me, that a sizable portion of the nation has little sympathy for the poor as if it is somehow their fault.  In Australia there is a similar feeling amongst the populace.  

Over the last year I have been getting personal messages from the Governor of Delaware, Jack Markell, urging me to get behind him in the upcoming elections.  This morning I received a letter of thanks for my support for him.  Thanks Jack, but I don’t vote in the U.S. and I don’t know how you thought I did.  In fact, I live near Fremantle Western Australia,  just 19,643 kilometres from Washington.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Saga of the Turkey Roll

Brother Graham and I went to Fremantle for lunch today.  When we had finished eating I showed him an old Lotto script which had been under a fridge magnet for about 6 years.  I had decided to use it to buy a lotto ticket in tonight’s $20M draw.  He suggested that we use the Woolworths underground carpark and buy my ticket at the lotto agent near Woollies.  There is a $2.00 parking fee which can be redeemed with a minimum purchase of $10.00 at Woolworths, so we looked around for something I needed for around $10.

Graham bought a small Turkey roll and suggested I did the same.   As we approached the checkout, he realised that my roll was only $9.80 so exchanged mine for his $10.60 roll.  When I had gone through the register I realised that I had forgotten to tell the cashier that I had the parking ticket.  ‘Sorry, too late’, she said.    I gave the parking ticket to bro, who now didn’t have a purchase of $10.00.     He dashed off to change the cheapo roll for one slightly more that the $10. minimum purchase.    The cashier and her friends are probably still laughing about the two old fellas. 

The road to Independence

Yesterday I was listening to ABC radio when a woman called in asking for advice about what to do with a Peacock in her backyard.  she didn’t mention her suburb, but it was obviously the Peacock I wrote about yesterday.  Call back resulted in many suggestions for the lady....stuffed and baked Peacock etc etc.

When we worked in Papua New Guinea in the 1970s I was Manager of a Vocational Centre in the East Sepik District at a place named Bainyik.  The aim of Vocational Centres was to train students in marketable skills such as building, mechanics, welding, concrete, small scale store management and animal husbandry etc etc, in fact anything which might make the student self-sufficient.  With a staff of four we worked with approximately 60 boarders for a full year.  We contracted to do work for different government departments building aid posts in remote villages, houses for teachers and village projects.  One project was to erect an Aid Post in a remote village.  The project was given to us by one Harvey Mack, a Patrol Officer at government station named Dreikikir.  Harvey was also a Western Australian and when Independence came to PNG we both (with families) returned to live back home.  My wife Joan and I went back to teaching.  Harvey started a trucking company which has grown from a couple of trucks to a 100 employee business.  He has bases in Fremantle, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.
Yesterday I caught up with Harvey after 29 years.  I visited his base at Forrestfield and was very impressed with his business and his style of management.   We plan to meet again soon and reassess our time and achievements in our PNG days.    Both of us were adamant that we were most privileged to have been there and participated in building the road to Independence.  However, neither of us wish to go back and see how it is now.

Harvey's business page is here.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Suburban Peacock

Early this morning I had a call from a friend who asked me what I knew about Peacocks.  ‘.There is one in my back yard.’ he said.      I grabbed a camera and went to take a few snaps of his bird.   It is  strange to see a Peacock in suburbia.   We figured that it is someone’s pet and it had escaped.   It had been in James’ yard for a few days and when I was checking it out it flew out to a high wall.    They can be very noisy birds at times and could give neighbours the Heebie Jeebies.  

Heebie Jeebies is a term from an old American comic strip Barnie Google....from which the name Google comes.   Check out Google on wikipedia

Enough trivia!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Back to Bali?

Searching through some external hard drives I found a short story Joan wrote a few years ago.  She called it ‘Coming Home’ and is set in the Western Australian wheatbelt.  I remember Joan telling me of an adventure she and her sister Dorothy had when they were very young and Joan has woven that adventure into a Battlers story.  Great read.   Maybe I will see what others think and see if it is worthy of publishing.

My son is causing me much anguish.  He is in Melbourne and unemployed.  I desperately want him to get on track before I go.  He is intelligent and has ability, but the Ankylosing Spondylitis eating away in his back makes it difficult to get employment which demands even moderate lifting.  I want him to return home where I can help him. 

I recently talked with my cousin Valma and suggested that we make a short trip to Bali.   She seemed very keen on the idea and I will look for packages of fares and accommodation.  Four days is probably long enough at our age.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Ankylosing Spondylitis

In the last few days I have placed a number of computers with local people who saw my posting on a local shopping centre notice board.   I still have seven more machines three of which are up-market workhorses which were donated to my project by the West Australian Newspaper Group.  I will remove the notice from the shopping centre and re-target the better machines at Graphics Students at one of the local universities.

Our son Martin is starting to admit that shifting to Melbourne has not been successful for him and is talking about returning home to Western Australia.  He is thinking of shifting back to the unit we bought to house him, but that is leased out to tenants for the rest of the year.  I have offered him his own side of my house which includes a bedroom, study and bathroom.  Martin has Ankylosing Spondylitis and his back is degenerating badly and getting employment which does not tax his back is very difficult.  It may well be that he could get a disabled pension and I   will support him, possibly for the rest of my time. 

and now to lighten up.........

A  fellow sits on a bench next to another fellow.   He says...’Hello, how are you today?’  the other fellow says...’I’ve had a lousy day; my imaginary friend has left me and he took my air guitar.’

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Enthusiasm wanes

Been busy lately preparing computers for distribution.   A notice at a local shopping centre in a needy area has seen a number of people coming to collect computers from my house.  Previously I had placed notices at the same shopping centre, but some nutter had been taking them down within a day.  That person has obviously not seen my latest notice or is in prison or somewhere else.     I still have around ten machines to distribute before I start on the thirty early iMacs which I will aim at placing, loaded with early childhood educational games.    I might not be able to place many of them as most folks these days want faster machines.    Landfill?

I am getting a little tired of the computer restoration project and may bow out soon.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Interpreting dreams

Helen and I successfully made a loaf of bread in the new bread maker.  I have since made another loaf and it certainly tastes OK.  The only problem with it is that it is very messy with lots a crispy crumbs when it is being cut.  Seems to be better after a day when it isn't so fresh, but I wanted to toast newly baked bread.  Must talk to the flour supplier and see if I am doing it correctly.

The fence saga at Helen and James’ place is ongoing.  The little shit mentioned before, has ripped off a couple of baskets containing prickly plants.  I have urged them both, Helen and James, to do nothing and see if he gets tired of his foolish antics.  I replaced the baskets with more secure fastenings so we will see if he caves in.  Of course he is not doing it during daylight hours and they cannot positively identify him as the culprit.  I need some Bikie friends to go visit him and his parents and have a chat.  Unfortunately I don’t have any Bikie acquaintances.

Over the last couple of nights I have been having the most realistic dreams relating to two schools, one in W.A. and one in Papua New Guinea.  The PNG school was at Bainyik, some 80 kilometres from Wewak on the coast.  I was last there 38 years ago and this dream has been a regular over all those years.  That school was a Vocational Centre training boys in small business, carpentry/building, agriculture and animal husbandry.  I was the manager there for four years.  The dream has us returning to PNG from annual leave in Australia and finding the pigs, cattle and fowls all gone and the centre grounds overgrown and students gone bush.  I have had that dream so many times I should know that it is not true as I’m having it, but I still wake up feeling a bit unhappy with the students and staff.  The W.A. school is the great school I worked at for many years and the dream has me fronting up to work on the first day of my appointment there, running late with the boss waiting out the front for me.  Strange stuff!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Taxing the old brain

I went out and bought a I have to learn how to use it.  Daughter Helen is visiting this morning and we will use two brains to work it out.  I checked out breadmakers in three stores and decided on a Breville ‘Baker’s Oven’.  The first store, Harvey Norman wanted $130., next was Retravision @$136. reduced today to $129.99, but I bought from The Good Guys. @ $95..  Deal!

My old brain is getting a workout lately.  I bought a video camera recently and that  requires a good read of the instruction manual to get the video onto a computer.  I found that it is not Mac compatible and so have set up a PC in the workshop to try and download videos I shoot. The user manual has 56 pages in it.   Years ago I had a Betacam video camera. a button and the door opens, put in a full-size tape. Close the door and point and shoot.  Open the door; put the recorded tape into a VCR and watch it.

My wife Joan’s cousin, Kingsley, gave me a very fancy HP printer/scanner.  I thought it would be easy to set up, but no, it has eluded me (or my brain) and I cannot get it to work properly.  There again, the handbook has 234 pages of complexity.   It is obviously a very expensive piece of kit and I will be looking for someone who can help me set it up.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Apple Store

Yesterday I visited the Apple Store at Garden City, a large shopping centre nearby.  I went early thinking that the school holidays would make it busy.  I was right, at 9am it was packed.     I was directed to a young ‘Genius’ who was arranging appointments on an iPad.  I keyed in my name, address, phone number and email address and was told to return at 10.40am.  I had a bit of a wait before a young fellow solved my problem with a password on my iPhone.   Good, efficient, free service.

Today I am searching for a bread maker.  When Joan was well she made bread every few days and I did enjoy it.  When she died I lost interest in bread and gave the breadmaker away. I buy bread of various types, but think I will get back into making my own.  My tastes seem to be changing.  Many foods don’t interest me much anymore.  I guess that is just a part of growing old.  A breadmaker can be set to finish the bake precisely at breakfast time.  Fresh bread toast sounds good to me.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Raining computers

The last couple of days have been raining computers.   A contact in Albany delivered another 5 eMacs to my house and my friend Rob informed me that he was cleaning out his workspace and needed to get rid of 30 perfectly good iMacs.   These iMacs are the candy-coloured all-in-one machines which Apple introduced back in 1999.  They ARE old, but still work well with their earlier operating system.   I am able to place these machines loaded with educational games without having the headaches of internet connection.  Usually the folks I give them to have another computer for internet access.  My daughter Helen has placed a couple at her primary school where the educational games are used as a reward to individual pupils.

        Some of the games which go with the iMacs.

On Monday, Helen and James are flying back home to W.A. from their family visit to Queensland. I think they will be happy to be in their own house again.  I know I will be happy to see them again.  Looking forward to some of Helen’s cooking.

The only semi-adventurous food preparation I have attempted over the last few weeks is making Biltong in Joan’s food drier.  Great snack food, but very easy to pig out on.  The recipe I am using has the beef sliced thinly in strips marinated overnight in soy and Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, with brown sugar, chilli powder and crushed garlic.  The drying takes around 6 hours depending on the thickness of the beef strips.  Google it for quantities.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Michelle and Jack visit

Today I had a visit from Michelle and Jack.  Michelle was one of my fav students when I taught at Willetton Senior High School and Jack is her 16 month old son who is at the stage of 'investigating' all things technical....TVs, computers etc etc.

Michelle is well after her Thyroidectomy, the only side effect is a scar which the surgeon says will fade over a few months.  She is still the Michelle I remember, a delight to have as a friend.
                                                    Click to enlarge

My neighbour had her father visit from Victoria and because his daughter, my neighbour, has asked me to shoot a few rats in her olive tree with my air gun, somehow we got talking about rifles.  He told me that he has a .22 single-shot rifle he bought when he was a 16 years old and still has it back home in Victoria.  I told him that I still have what was my grandfather's, then my father's Winchester 1892 .44 lever action repeater with an octagonal barrel.  He said that he would like to take a look at it and I then realised that I could not remember where I had hidden the gun cabinet key.  Over a couple of days I searched the entire house and workshop without success.  It looked like I was going to have to call on a locksmith to get the gun cabinet open, so I sat down and thought of where I would hide the keys so that they would be safe.....SAFE!!!!     And that's where I found the keys; in our safe.

I have finished the little shit fence.  The fence is not a little shit, I am hoping that what we did will stop the little shit neighbour of Helen and James walking through their property to jump a low fence.  James and I put up a solid lattice and I finished off fixing wall baskets along the fence. The baskets have been planted with the nastiest (bar Bougainvillea and roses) spikey plants.  They are called Euphorbia Milii Hybrid and when I was planting them without wearing gloves got a taste of their nasty spikes.    Hope it works.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Thyroid Cancer

My daughter and husband James are in Queensland visiting family and  friends.  I drove them to Perth Airport late Friday night.  They are away just over a week.  Their dogs are in a boarding kennel and I have a few jobs to do at their house which is around 500 metres from my place.  Not being there, it has made me aware how much they mean to me.    I will be looking forward to catching up when they return.   It has also made me realise how isolated some people can get when they lose a partner.  I am fortunate that I have Helen and James near me and also a small circle of friends to meet up with once a week; even if we do tend to tell the same stories over and over.

On Tuesday morning I am having an ex-student of mine visit for a coffee.  She is probably 35 now, married with a 16 month old child.  She was a wonderful student in my classes and we have kept in touch over the years.  When I talked with her last week she told me that she had had Thyroid Cancer and had the thyroid removed and chemotherapy. She will get the results of a final investigation next week.   Too young for that!

Bastard disease!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


On Sunday last, I helped my son-in-law James, erect some lattice work on a wall in Helen and James’ front yard.  The lattice will soon have Bougainvillea growing through it and hopefully prevent the 15 year old pain-in-the-arse from further up their cul-de-sac using their front yard as a short cut to jump over their fence to get to the adjacent road.

From the time Helen and James purchased their house and moved in, this kid has been giving them strife.   It started with him kicking a football at their garage door.  Words were exchanged and James talked to his parents who seem to have no control over him.  During that conversation he told his parents to ‘F... off’.   It transpired that the previous owners shifted out because of ongoing trouble with this kid.   He has continued to walk through Helen and James front yard even when they are out the front and gives them a mouthful when they suggest he is trespassing.

Until the Bougainvillea covers the lattice,  Helen has planted some very nasty prickly plants in vulnerable gaps.

The lattice screen looks similar to the airbrakes use on some night-fighter planes during WW2.  Even though it is securely fastened to the wall there will be a lot of pressure on it with our strong Sou-West summer winds.

We await the next move by their nice neighbour.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Yesterday a colleague from a past life called and wanted me to look at a computer I had set up some years ago.   It was for his disabled son and has served him well until now when it is got bit clogged up with downloads and attempted downloads.
When he delivered it, I remembered that a friend and I had configured it so that the operating system couldn’t be tampered with.    That set up included a password which neither Rob nor I could remember.  I had taken the machine around to Rob’s place and the IT pro that he is, came to the fore and he was able to get into it and change the password.   Yes I have written the PW down.
Paul, my colleague from Willetton SHS days, will be pleased that his son is back on line with a clean machine, also asked me for a speedy machine to go to Darwin where a friend is involved with movie making.  I gave  him a G5 Mac which is one of a number given to me  from a local newspaper.

I am past the complex issues of computing and am very lucky to have a friend like Rob, who I can lean on for some assistance with those brain-crushing workarounds.

I have recently ordered cheap PRAM batteries for the many Macs I rebirth.  Locally here they cost around $18. each and I can buy them from China for around $3.50.  I don’t know how long they will last compared to brand name batteries.    The word cheap means different things to different people.  Here in Australia ‘cheap’ usually means inexpensive.  I have noticed that in the U.S. ‘cheap’ means rubbish.     PRAM batteries keep the computer’s time and date correct and also maintains printer selection.  Not a biggy if the battery is flat, but Macs keep telling you if the battery is dead.  That can be a bit annoying.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Multi Cultural Mix

For the last 13 years of my teaching career I taught at a very nice Senior High School which was proud of its multi-cultural mix of students.  In all that time there was, at least to me, no evidence of any racial or religious discrimination.     The one exception was practised by a  group of students who were members of a sect named The Plymouth Brethren.  They believed that their members should not eat with non-members and each lunch time, cars came to the school and transported them away from the mob.  Later they purchased a house opposite the school and their kids walked to the house for lunch.   Then they opted out of the school system and got their education from Distance Education which caters for students in isolated locations.  I don’t know how they convinced the Education Department that they deserved special treatment.  These days they have their own schools as does the Muslim cohort.

I know I won’t be offending any Plymouth Brethren by writing this because they aren’t allowed to use computers.

Yesterday I offered to help my brother fix his toilet cistern. He had purchased a new flushing mechanism for $72 (plus the usual 99c).    When I tried to replace the new flushing bit it was obvious that it wasn’t going to fit into that model of the same brand.   I went to Bunnings Hardware and bought the whole tank with all the bits for $59.    A bit of mucking around drilling new anchor holes through ceramic wall tiles and it was all up and flushing in about two hours.      At 72 years of age I am starting to feel my age and felt pretty tired when I got home.   I had planned on an early bed, but bro turned up with a couple of bottles of wine and we bought in fish and chips.  I slept very well.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Rioting in the streets

Yesterday brother Graham and I drove up to Maida Vale where Joan’s cousin Kingsley and his wife Margaret live.    Kingsley had previously contacted me offering a nice printer which didn’t want to work properly on his computer.  Bonus; it works beautifully on mine!  I rang Kingsley and offered to return it to him, but he had already bought another and graciously told me to keep it.

Their property was originally 10 acres, but has been reduced to 3 acres with a nice large house and lots of trees, both fruit and natives.   Lovely semi-rural area!  Graham and I got the tour and a bag of oranges and passionfruit.

The local Muslims are rioting in Sydney town over the backyard movie which supposedly mocks Islam.  I cannot understand how the looney who made the movie didn’t think that it would not cause death and destruction throughout the world?   

It is only that we, in the Western world, generally live in democracies which cherish free speech which allows even the most controversial stuff to go to air.  The protesters, even the moderates, want the U.S. government to do all sorts of things to the film maker and I guess a few family members of the murdered embassy staff would also like their government to stomp on him.

I must say that the rioting thugs in Sydney look like a pretty evil bunch themselves.  I wouldn’t want some of them living in my street.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Top Shelf

I recently met a young Filipino (soon to become Australian) family.  I had advertised a coffee maker and they came to buy it. 

Colloquially, Top Shelf means ‘the best’.  In our case Top Shelf means it ends up on a top shelf through lack of use and that is what the coffee maker did and I thought I would get rid of it.  
The young couple were pretty interested, but I could see that it wasn’t going to suit their needs, so I talked them out of it.     They were astonished that I did so and couldn’t quite believe it.   Instead I offered them a near new percolator type of coffee machine at far lesser price and they very happy.     We got to talking and when they left they had a large bundle of my Swiss Chard (silverbeet) a bag of lemons and a nice computer loaded with games for their kids.   The next day I came home to find a message on my answering machine inviting me to dinner.  Unfortunately I had a previous engagement and drove to their place to apologise.  The food was being prepared and smelled delightful.     I felt bad as they had gone to a lot of trouble.   The husband is a FIFO worker in the North West mining industry and when he returns in two weeks is to be naturalised as an Australian citizen.  They have invited me to attend and I will take photographs of the event.

Rowena, the wife, asked me why I give away computers for free.   I introduced her to the word altruism.

I have the feeling that we are going to keep in contact.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Albany Road trip

Back from our road trip down to Albany.  It was a good trip although the weather was cold and windy for the first three days.    We crammed ten eMacs into Dennis’s ute and they seemed to survive a detour back to Albany along a bumpy track.  I have started the process of doing a ‘clean install’ of the operating system on each machine and loading them with appropriate software.  The school they came from is a small private primary school and the Macs were obviously bought configured for the lowest cost.  They do not have a DVD drive which means loading a more up to date operating system means a bit of a work around.   Enough techo-talk!

Albany has a population of around 25,000 and is very hilly in parts.  The city calls those hills mountains.   There are many colonial buildings and houses as well as modern houses.  It is a very pretty town which I have renamed ‘Roundabout and no right-turn City’.  Albany is the largest town/city in W.A. or even Australia. without any traffic lights.  There are hundreds of roundabouts and not one traffic light.

Some Albany oldies....

Roughly half way to Albany from Fremantle is the town of Kojonup.  Many South Western towns have an ‘up’ at the end of the name. ‘up’ is aboriginal for ‘place of’.  There is a small military museum in Kojonup which it is claimed as the oldest surviving colonial building in the state.  It was established in 1830s when a military outpost was established to protect travellers on the Albany/Perth track.  The building is in good repair, but unfortunately was not open when we passed through town.

I had some time to myself in Albany so went on an antique shop tour.   I spied an old cafe sugar dispenser and grabbed it @ $1.00.    I have always thought them to be very practical and it will stop me spreading sugar over the kitchen bench when I am adding sugar to a coffee.

And now for your laugh segment at my expense.

I have recently had my GP issue me a script for a more powerful cream for my rash on my legs and arms.  On Friday morning I opened the new cream and smeared some on my legs and arms.  During the morning it became sticky and stuck to my trousers.  I decided to wash it off in the shower.  I collected a bit of the cream on my finger, tasted it and realised I had medicated myself with toothpaste.  Lesson here; put glasses on before using medication.