Monday, January 30, 2012

Incitement to riot

I don't really watch major sporting events such as the Australian Open (tennis), but I did catch part of a few games on TV. I am afraid that I had to flip channels when the two Russian gals started the loud...what can you call it?.....grunting?

Another thing I noticed was that Novak Djokovic the Serbian champ relied heavily on help from God. A number of times he did the Sign of The Cross during the match(es) and after winning one round hauled out his cross and kissed it looking skyward. I would have thought God would be pretty busy helping people less fortunate than him.

The Australian Federal Police have decided that there was no crime committed by anyone in the little fracas in Canberra which caused the Federal Police to need to rescue the PM and the leader of the opposition from a rather nasty mob of Aboriginal activists. The Feds don't think that the person who rang the activists with the aim of stirring them up did anything wrong. The Opposition thinks that there is a case to investigate what was actually said by whom. Seems reasonable to me. I think the possible charge is incitement to riot.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Australia Day

One of the two fridges I have has been icing up in the fridge half and I suspected that I needed a replacement thermostat. A local refrigeration man turned up and agreed with my diagnosis and proceeded to remove covers and dig out the thermostat. He told me he didn't have an Hitachi part in stock and would have to order one at a cost of $440. Ouch!

Whilst showing me the thermostat mechanism, he found some ice in the door that is supposed to close when temperatures change. He removed the ice, tested the mechanism attached to the thermostat by placing it in the freezer section and hooray it now a cost of $150.

I understand thermostats, but have never really thought about how they control temperatures in the fridge. Quite simple really. The freezer compartment is consistently very cold (frozen) and the fridge section is joined to the freezer by a small duct which can be opened or closed by a mechanical door operated by the thermostat. If the fridge section gets a little warmer, the thermostat opens the door to the freezer duct and allows cold air the enter the fridge from the freezer. See simple isn't it?

Australia Day has come and gone and there was a bit of argy-bargy in Canberra near the Aboriginal tent 'Embassy'. The Prime Minister and leader of the opposition were at an official function at a reception centre nearby. The previous day the leader of the opposition was interviewed and asked what he thought of the Aboriginal Embassy. He replied that he could understand why the embassy was set up in 1972 but a lot of things have changed for the better since then and it is probably time to move on.

A government staffer who has since resigned, rang someone who passed Tony Abbot's answer on to the 'embassy' and a riot ensued. The PM and Abbot were surrounded by security and Federal Police and there was a lot of pushing and shoving and abuse from the mob before the PM and Tony Abbott were secured in a car and drove off. Yesterday there was a burning of the Australian flag at the 'embassy' and footage showed young aborigines spitting on the burning flag. Glad I'm not their school teacher. I have connections to Aboriginal groups through distribution of computers, so I cannot comment. I do know that the government staffer should be named. Political dirty tricks...let's hope the PM didn't approve of that phone call.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Eleven months today

Today marks eleven months since Joan died. I have noticed that elderly people (and I now admit to being one) have a propensity to weep at thoughts and events which previously would not have affected them. I'm one of them...not overtly, but Joan's presence in our home, in the form of her many artefacts, photos etc often move me to a few tears as is happening as I write this.

Years ago when I was a young (22 year old) single teacher at an isolated school in the Gulf of Papua I observed a daily mourning ritual of a young man who had lost his brother. At approximately the same time each afternoon this fellow would suddenly start howling loudly and beating his chest in front of other villagers and often me. The performance went on for probably no more than five minutes and he would suddenly stop and carry on as if nothing had happened. I cannot recall how long this went on for and I guess it was a traditional thing in this language group. I was Teacher in charge at Arehava Primary School for three years and as I lived in a village, saw much of the traditional family life around me. I wrote of one of these incidents here.

This morning I rang the Public Trustee to find out what the delay has been in processing Joan's estate. It seems that there is no reason it was not processed weeks ago and I received a promise, one of several over the last couple of months, that it would be finalised by this Friday. Maybe.

My mother was born in Narrogin and brought up on a farm at Toolibin 30 miles east of Narrogin. I remember her talking about all the neighbours and one family, the Hoyles was often mentioned. Some time ago amongst mother's photographs I found a nice pic of three of the Hoyle kids, probably taken around 1921 or so. There is Sally, Minnie and Dick. Dick went to war in New Guinea and was killed. He is buried at Lae Military Cemetery. Yesterday I had an urge to see if I could find some descendents of the surviving two in the photographs. I rang my cousin Val to see if she recalled anything about the Hoyles and surprisingly she did in fact; she was a flowergirl at Minnie's wedding. Next I looked up the Whitepages Online and found a few phone numbers for Minnie's married name living around Wickepin which is quite close to Toolibin. Bingo! I talked with a couple of folks and have emailed the cleaned-up photo to them. Hope to continue contact and find out what happened to the Hoyles. Val is, of course, very interested and if anything of great interest emerges we will drive to Wickepin to meet up with the descendents.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Lock Family reunion

My cousin Ann and her husband Doug are visiting Western Australia from BC (Canada) and the remaining Locks were summonsed to a family gathering under the trees near the Swan River at Crawley Bay.

We are all getting a bit old. Aunty Violet is 95 and still looking pretty good even thought she needed reminding of most of the names of the assembled. For some strange reason she remembered my name. Must have been something in my past that she aint gonna forget.

I took a few pics of the group with a remote control and being the photographer I am, suggested that everyone remove their sunglasses. Everyone thought that was reasonable and I should have remembered to remove way to stand out in a crowd.

A good get-together with lots of stories told.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

An old fella

I went shopping today for food and as I approached the checkout I thought about an old joke which perfectly suited my situation. In the joke, a bloke fronts up to the checkout and presents his piece of steak, a small tub of yoghurt, two bananas, an apple and a half pound of butter. As the checkout gal is bagging his purchases she asks...'Are you single?' The customer replies....'yes, I guess you worked that out by my small purchase?' She replies...'No, it was because you're bloody ugly'.

I had a rude awakening today when I purchased a packet of envelopes at the newsagent next door to the Post Office and sent a letter to a person. Later at home I realised that I had left the package of new envelopes on the desk at the Post Office. I didn't think there was much chance of the package still being there, but returned to the PO and asked at the counter. The woman behind the counter produced the packet saying that a lady had handed it in and described the fellow who left it there as an elderly gentleman. Bugger! First time I have been described as elderly!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Solar Power Array

I recently received my power bill for the last 66 days. The solar panel array is paying off as well as the fact that I am living alone and watching my power use. The bill amounted to $2.80!

The solar subsidy in this state, Western Australia, has been drastically reduced by the government. People who bought a solar setup after the subsidy cut-off point receive only seven cents for each kilowatt fed back into the grid. I, Helen and James and brother Graham signed up when the subsidy was 40c a kilowatt for electricity fed back into the grid. And as you can see it gives a good return on investment for the $1900 outlay for the panels. The subsidy is for 10 years and at this rate I should pay mine off in a few years.

There are a few tricks to getting the best results. Do washing and ironing and use the dishwasher etc when the sun is not shining and get as many units back into the grid @ 40c whilst the sun is out. Use the grid power for those power hungry jobs @ 4c a unit. Makes sense!

Today Helen finalised the Bali accommodation bookings and I paid by PayPal. All done. Helen and James may have house sitters for the 8 days we are away. I am not sure about my place...maybe talk brother Graham in dropping in every 3 or 4 days to check on things and crank up the reticulation.

If you want to check out the accommodation see it out here.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Woody Allen and the Zydecats

Helen, my daughter, spent Saturday booking accommodation and airfares to Bali in early April. I am included in the passenger list and I guess that is testimony that I haven't worn out my welcome with her and James. Helen did the flight and hotel deals on the net and we are booked to fly out of Perth on the 8th of April and spend 8 days in a very nice resort with our own swimming pool. It cost us a bit extra to get a unit with two bedrooms but it looks very nice and it is not near the 'younguns' and their noisy partying.

Also, yesterday, I had a phone call from our son in Melbourne who had had a call from a friend who is renting the unit below mine in Orelia. It seems that the young couple renting my unit went out leaving a cutting board on the stove top. The agent tells me that the new stove needs replacing, but there is little other damage. I have landlords insurance and hope that will cover the new stove and a sparky to wire it in. I will find out more of Monday.

My brain is playing with my body. A couple of days ago I was slicing up some nice hot red chillies for a fried rice when brain told me my nose was itchy...result; extreme nose burn for a couple of hours. This is not the only time brain has set me up. Every time I attend an auction I get a bad case of the itches and end up attracting the attention of the auctioneer just as the bids rocket skywards. Everyone then looks at me as I wave the bid off....'Idiot!'

My brother Graham has had a small problem with his recently purchased new VW Passat. He is unhappy with the ride and VW has made a few attempts to rectify the problem He has had new tyres fitted, a rear suspension strut replaced and alignment of front and rear wheels, but he feels that at the price he paid for the VW it should be a smoother ride. It reached a point where VW simply told him that it was as good as it is going to be....sort of like a bad human prognosis. Graham traded the VW in on a more expensive BMW to be picked up tomorrow. Hope that runs along nice and smoothly. Let you know later.

Sunday evening: brother Graham collected me in his VW, soon to be replaced by a BMW and we taxied from his place to Fremantle to a cinema to view Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris. The introductory scenes were wonderful and I wanted to share them with my Joan as we had been to all the places in our last trip to Europe. The movie was a Woody Allen classic.....some obnoxious characters and some wonderful characters. You must see it.

After the movie we went to Clancy's Fish Bar which hosts the local band The Zydecats. Wonderful! Young and old people getting with it and enjoying old Rock. I could see a great photo opportunity and during a break asked the band leader if it would be OK to do some photos....he was happy about that and next Sunday I will front with my Nikon and try and capture the ambiance.

I am at last feeling like there is a life out there.

Taxiing home via Grahams place, I struck up a conversation with the Somalian taxi driver. His situation wasn't too bad and in fact he had two wives, one in New Zealand and one in India. He is a Muslim Somalian and I hope that our conversation went some some way to show that there are moderate non-Muslims in this country.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Counting back

Yesterday I erected a bit of shadecloth over Helen's garden tank....and so, was invited to stay for dinner. Chicken Tandoori and salad. Nice! Still haven't worn out my welcome there!

Scam warning. This scam is a universal scam which has done the rounds in Canada, the U.S. And Britain and now popping up in Australia and no doubt other countries. The email message purports to be from the Australian Tax Office and tells of tax refund of $773.80 and all one has to do to get the cash is to fill out the genuine looking PDF claim form giving all your bank details and send it to a (false) email address. In all these scam documents there are inevitably a couple of tell-tale spelling mistakes. One in this email message is the spelling of 'Governament'. Snopes is your friend for scams etc. See Snopes here for details about this tax scam in the U.S., and here for a warning from ScamNet in Western Australia about the Aus Tax Scam.

This morning I drove to the local Ford dealership where Helen was delivering her car for a service. When I collected her we went to a newish small supermarket closeby. When we did a small shop we fronted up to the checkout where a woman was using a calculator instead of the checkout register. She explained that overnight thieves had come in through the roof and cut wires thinking that they had disabled the security system and all they disabled were the checkouts. In any case they had lowered themselves into a locked room and had to climb back up and out. The checkout gal was having quite a time of it with a young lad dashing to check the shelf price of purchases per kilo; her using a calculator to price the amount purchased, totalling the purchases up and then doing a subtraction from the amount tendered to calculate the change. The days of counting back are long gone.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Albany Writers' Circle

Joy, a long time friend of us both, loaned me a small booklet of poetry and prose from residents of the South West city of Albany. The booklet contains 32 pieces from 20 writers.
Two of the pieces were amazing coincidences. One written by Joy's sister told about her friend Miriam...her child, husband and her passion for gardening. Reading it I suddenly realised that Miriam was our next door neighbour in Bicton for some 43 years. It seems that Joy's sister Norma was a close friend of Miri (as we knew her). Her husband Jack was deaf and mute and wrote all conversation on a small pad. Miri was a strange woman; very hippy for the time and quite difficult to approach. I wrote previously about the Williams family, the husband Jack and Mrs Sabodka the bejewelled WW2 refugee boarder.

The second coincidence was a piece written by Betty Kane about her marriage to a U.S. Sailor based in Fremantle during WW2. As it turns out, Betty is the grandmother of the girls in the local group 'The Waifs' who wrote and perform The Bridal Train, a song telling of the train taking W.A. war brides across Australia to Sydney to join the American liner which took them to their new home and husbands. The Bridal Train tells the story of their grandmother Betty. Nice! If you haven't heard The Bridal Train, you can find it on YouTube.

Our power meter is outside the house in a locked box. Western Power reads the meter every 45 days or so and at the last two meter reads the reader had difficulty unlocking the box. His/her master key wouldn't open the box. Fortunately, I was home on both occasions and was able to open the box with my key. If I was not home, Western Power would estimate the power usage based of previous bills. The large hardware chain, Bunnings, is a provider of these locks and I purchased one about 6 months ago, so I took it back explaining that only I could open the meter box. With a bit of argy bargy they eventually replaced my lock with a new one. Hope they don't give my old one to another customer.

At a recent gathering of friends we, being oldies, talked about times past. One topic was worn out shoes, something that doesn't seem to occur as much these days. All the males at the gathering could remember shoes with holes in the soles. Ralph told us that he often had holes in his shoes and could, when stepping on a sixpenny piece ( a 'zac'), tell whether the coin was heads or tails. Cardboard was a popular shoe life extender; not so comfortable when wet.

My brother has been single for many years and has long ago adjusted his food purchasing and cooking to suit one person. I am not at that stage yet. I tend to over buy and cook and end up with plastic containers in the freezer which I often end up dumping in my compost bin. I know I should divide meat portions etc and freeze them. I will try that soon.

Yesterday I went to John's nursing home to cut his hair. It was a bit difficult as he was asleep and didn't respond to requests to bend his head etc. I eventually got the job, ears and eyebrows. He looked good when I finished. Sad that he had no idea that I was there. His wife, Joy, has the same result most times she visits. If there was any saving grace in Joan's death, it was that she left us with sound mind with no need to be locked up in intensive care for years.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Easyfix computer glitch

Helen and James invited me to their place for a few drinks and a meal last night. It is always nice to have them think of me. I don't want to wear out my welcome and fortunately it seems, to me at least, that I haven't done so yet. I think I am perceptive enough to recognise when, if or when, that stage is reached.

This morning I had an appointment to look at a printer I had supplied to a middle aged woman. I had previously set up a computer for her a couple of years ago and recently added a printer at the request of her welfare carer. She rang me a few days ago saying that the printer isn't working so I arranged a time to go and look at it. It was a simple fix.....the type I like. I found she had jammed far too many sheets of paper not in the loading slot, but between the slot and the paper support.

She told me that she is doing a computer course. I hope she has told the instructor she is using a Mac at home.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Goodbye Bohemia

I am home waiting for a 'skip' or dumpster, depending on what breed of English you use. It is to get rid of four trees that have been giving me and my neighbours grief for a couple of years. The trees are Bohemia (Acacia cuspidifolia) coloquially called 'wait awhile tree', although I have never seen or heard them called anything but Bohemias.

They have largish leather-like leaves and skull damaging spear-like seed pods. The leaves take years to break down. It has phyllodes rather than true leaves

A couple of years ago Fiona our neighbour mentioned the leaf and seed problem but pleaded with me not to remove them. A couple of days ago she said the they had changed their mind and would like them 'trimmed'. Chainsaw Kev fixed that. The skip is a 6m3 one and I have been busy cutting branches into into smaller sizes hoping that it will fit in the bin. The neighbours will contribute to the cost of the skip and get rid of some their tree lopping if it fits in the skip.

For those who would give me grief for 'trimming' my trees I can offer...FREE; a box of seed pods so that you can grow your own Bohemia.

The skip has been delivered and Fiona and her young daughter Nikita helped load it with both my stuff and some of hers. All done and ready for collection. Thanks girls for your help.

6m3 Bin delivered

Will it all fit?

All done and ready for collection.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Fishy fare for the end of 2011

'The Gang'; the usual suspects, or whatever we should be called, gathered at my place yesterday evening. There were seven of us....two had passed on and one is in care at a nursing home. I think we are all hoping to be around next NYE, but who knows? We raised our glasses to ourselves and those no longer able to attend.

Front..Wendy, Margaret Carole Rear... Kev, Dennis, Joy and Ralph

My prediction that there would be copy-cat car burnings didn't hold up....nothing reported. In Western Australia there were a couple of parties out of control, a few arrests, but no injuries. The cops were pretty pleased with things. Strike that, reverse it. There were six cars torched in a Sydney car park last night. I knew we could do it!

Helen and James are spending the long weekend with friends at Margaret River a pretty wine growing region. I must revisit Margarets myself soon. Martin, our son, rang today from Melbourne. He is feeling a little rough after NYE celebrations last night, but happy to be back on the payroll at Coles.

My new car has a fault which is intermittent. I cannot cause it to happen and so the dealer has said that it is perfectly OK. I hate being treated as an elderly idiot. One fellow when writing down the symptoms of the fault asked me a series of questions more suited to an 18 year old. Not only that but he was addressing me in a loud, can you hear me old fart, voice.

I had to stop him and inform him that I am not deaf and I have a wealth of experience with machinery and have even built two cars from scratch. That shut him up.

I will leave the car overnight with them and if they test drive it several times each day the symptoms should show up.

I didn't win the $31M lotto game last night. As Charlie in Willy Wonka said...'I just thought you would want to know that'.