Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Bloody Crows

My friend Rob will be in hospital for about 8 more days then probably a month or more off work. Initially I thought that his hip replacement was one of the types which is giving major health problems for recipients. Not so. It seems that the problem is/was that he has somehow acquired an infection and the operation was to drain infected fluid (about one litre), remove the 'new' metal ball joint and replace it with a temporary ball containing specialised antibiotics. When things are better he will receive another permanent joint. Meantime he is on heavy pain killers and and continuous antibiotic feed. When he is able to return home he will have a PICC line feed of antibiotics daily replenished by a visiting nurse.

I feed local birds daily and Magpies and Mudlarks will come very close and eat from my hands. Not so with Crows (Ravens). Even after years of feeding the same group of birds, the Crows still do not trust me. When I place a foam plastic meat tray with meat scraps out on the lawn they are very apprehensive about taking meat from the tray. They will circle the tray for literally minutes, shying away at the slightest movement of the tray in the breeze. Eventually the tray will be upended by a brave Crow and then they will eat the scraps. I have given this much thought and here is my hypothesis.....

I believe that Crows are the bad boys of the local bird world. They are often chased off by other smaller birds. They don't mix with other birds and raid smaller birds' nests for eggs. For some reason most people don't like them either. Is this why they don't trust anyone? I reckon it is so.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Lunch at Fisherman's Harbour Fremantle

Brother Graham and I had lunch at the Fisherman's Harbour in Fremantle.  Nice fish and chips.  As I was driving out of the Harbour precinct I noticed the Ferris wheel was not working.  Graham informed me that it wasn't working today because it is Ferris Wheelers Day Off.

A friend who had a hip replacement about a year ago is in hospital due to an infection in the new hip.  He had surgery today to remove the dud hip and get a replacement.  There have been lots of problems with some hip replacements reported in the press.  I imagine he will be in pain for a few weeks.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

non techo stuff

I am 72 years old and I have seen the most amazing technical advances during my lifetime. I can recall the first VCRs introduced..the Betacord we bought at a staff discount, cost over $800.00. in real dollars back then. I still have a Beta machine in a back room.

I was around when the personal computer came out. I recall us buying a Radio Shack computer with 2K of memory. It came with a program booklet and we typed in the hundreds of lines of program to set up a security program. As it attempted to run it told us of errors on line 235 etc and we went back and corrected the typos. It eventually ran and on the screen the questions asked..'Are the doors locked?' to which the user had to select Y/N. A few more questions which elicited a Y answer and the computer told us that the house was secure. Computers have come a long way since then.

I am a mechanical sort of bloke. I have been into engines and mechanical gadgets since I was about 14. Computers these days have very few mechanical bits in them. Fans, the hard drive and the on off switch are a few of the mechanical hangovers from my era. Even hard drives these days can be solid state without any moving bits. I am preparing a few very nice G5 Macs for distribution and one of them has been a bit silly by starting up by itself. I belong to a Mac users' group and I posted the problem to the list and received some very high tech answers from folks a lot smarter than me.

I tried a few of their suggestions before I figured that there is a problem with the start button. Sure enough, when I inspected another machine the button had a different feel to it and felt like it needed a bit of WD40.....Voila, problem solved! Mechanics 1, techos 0. WD40 has an interesting pedigree....Google WD40. 

These computers were industrial strength and major printers and newspaper houses used them. They came out mid 2000 and in many cases have been replaced by the Mac Mini which fits into a person's hands. I like this continual upgrade trend manufacturers have because it gives me older machines to distribute to needy folks.
            The G5 tower,  start panel and the Mac mini.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Yesterday Schapelle Corby was given a reduction of 5 years on her 20 year sentence for smuggling 4.1kg of marijuana in Bali, Indonesia. She will probably be released on parole soon. There is no doubt in my mind that the Australian government did do a swap deal with Indonesia, Corby for young Indonesian boat crews jailed in Aus for their part in people smuggling. Nothing wrong with that. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bob Carr, denies making a deal.

Schappelle has been in Kerebokan Prison in Bali for 8 years. In 2004 she was nabbed trying to smuggle 4.1kg into Bali where she was heading to stay with her sister Mercedes and Balinese husband who own a, wait for it, shop.

Having knowledge of Indonesian Customs and Immigration it would have been most risky trying to get through customs with such a large haul of MJ without having someone on the inside. At the time of the trial, rumour had it, that the customs officers were changed on that day.

We have driven past Kerobokan Prison and the colonial Fremantle Prison, now a museum, looks like a Hilton Hotel compared to Kerobokan. Only residents wanting to stay there would be the cockroaches.  I hope she gets out soon.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Pearce RAAF Airshow 2012

Yesterday bro Graham and I went to Pearce Airforce Base for the big airshow. We arrived early around 10.30am and it seems that many others who headed up to Pearce later gave up and returned home after waiting in traffic for hours. We had no problems getting to Pearce and parking amongst what looked like thousands of other cars. After the airshow we sat in the car for 3.5 hours as thousands of cars tried to exit on one narrow road. Grrrr!

The airshow was good. There were the local private aircraft and vintage craft and then the Roulettes the RAAF showoffs, doing a speccie job of smoke trailing gyrations. Another flight of instructors did similar and I must admit that one lot of aerobatics looks similar to the next to me. Highlight of the show was the heavy military hardware...The Orion, which I remember Joan and Kev and the kids flew in as the civilian version, the Lockheed Electra, one time returning to Australia on leave from PNG. There was the massive C17 Globemaster, a C130 Hercules which is an oldie but hundreds are still in active service around the world and several other big planes which made some impressive near vertical takeoffs. Here's a photo of the Wedgetail surveillance aircraft. How annoying that all those people spoil my photo!

The exciting part of the show was by the Hornets doing high speed low passes and vertical climbs with wonderfully loud angry noises. One Super Hornet did a few extra speedy passes.

The last participant of the main show was a flypast by a B52 bomber which flew down to Perth from Guam on both days. It didn't land and after doing two passes turned back and flew all the way back to Guam. It is a lumbering giant which seemed like it has passed its time, but there are still lots of them in active service with the USAF. I'm guessing that it was a good demo to show the strike distance to a growing Asian power.

I took quite a few photos with a small digital camera instead of my Nikon D70. I recently heard a radio interview with some expert who said that people take photos of events when they should actually watch  with their eyes. I should have just watched rather than squint into the sun and miss the real events. Looking at photos isn't quite the same. There are plenty of videos and pics on YouTube.
Turn up your speakers as high as they can stand for this 2 second clip from my iPhone.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Funeral and wake

John's funeral went off well. There was a huge crowd to see him off. Peter, his first son gave an emotional speech as did his youngest daughter Andrea. A couple of the many grandkids also spoke of their beloved grandfather. Father Michael told us that John was a father to him as he never got to know his own father. It was a long service even including some Latin bits. Father Michael is know as the only Catholic Priest in Western Australia who does a full Latin Mass.

The wake filled Joy's house and rounded off what John would have been very pleased with.

Yesterday I was in the local Bunnings hardware store. As I searched for my monthly dose of poison (snail pellets) I overheard two young boys probably aged 7 & 8 discussing rat baits with their father. The were speaking in precise English without a trace of accent, except a slight Australian twang; their father was replying in Russian. It seemed strange, but I guess he was trying to teach them his language. How did I know he was Russian? He looked like Putin.

Today I installed a Mac with and older operating system which is being used to run some very good educational software I found. I set it up in My daughter Helen's room at her primary school. I originally trained as a primary teacher and taught primary for about three years. Today I realised that the hard yards are done in lower primary classes. Helen was constantly monitoring these pre-primary kids, reinforcing values that it would seem many of the parents are not stressing. I have mentioned that this school is deemed a 'hard to staff school' because parents and kids can be difficult. She of course would rather teach at a 'good' school, but this full time job will give her holiday pay which relief work doesn't.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Goodbye John

Today was Mothers' Day.   Sadly we don't have any mothers left here.   I miss my children's mother dearly and wish she were here.

Tomorrow we are saying goodbye to John.  His nephew Michael is a Catholic priest and will be conducting the service, not at a church, but at the cemetery.  Michael and his two siblings were brought up by John and Joy when their parents Don and Mag died.  There will be many friends attending the service and later the wake at Joy's house.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Vale John Rowe

John has left us. For most of the last few years he was not aware of his situation in a nursing home.

John was my friend.......a mate, as we would say in Australia.

I guess that we have known each other for around 56 years. Around seven years ago he was diagnosed with Lewy Body disease which is akin to Parkinsons Disease and accompanied by hallucinations and eventually dementia. He reached a stage where he had to be admitted into full time care. Very sad for an intelligent academic such as John.

On the occasion of John's 70th birthday I gave him a home-made gift certificate promising regular haircuts and computer tech support. I gave him his last haircut about a fortnight ago. He and his wife Joy have a large family who are giving Joy support and comfort at this time.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Love in a Time of War

Some time back I wrote about Australian war brides travelling to the U.S. at the cessation of hostilities after WW2.  One of them was Betty Kane from the small wheatbelt town of Wagin.    Her grand-daughters much later formed a band, The Waifs, and  wrote a song  about her and the trip across Australia to Sydney to board the Monterey for a sea voyage to meet her husband in the U.S..  The song, Bridal Train, was in the top 50 in 2004 and a won the band a major songwriters prize in the 2006.  Bridal Train was also dedicated to all the other Australian war brides making the trip courtesy of the U.S. Government.    Betty Kane recently died and a moving obitiary was yesterday published in our local paper.

She and her husband returned to Western Australia. He died in 2001 and she settled in Albany on the South Coast of W.A..

I have met another war bride who lives quite close to me here.  I have thought of writing up her story for ABC radio.  It would be most interesting to hear how the brides settled in with with their in-laws in the U.S..   I would think that there would have been some difficult times for some of them.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Husqvarna Viking

I am planning on travelling south to Esperance this coming weekend.   It is around 9 hours driving and it will be the first time I have done it alone.  I have restored my sister's computer and need to give her another couple of days of instructions on using email and Skype.

Joan's Husqvarna embroidery machine has been languishing in her sewing room for over a year.  She bought it about 5 years ago at around $9,000 and today it is worth about $1500.  I have advertised twice without a single inquiry, so yesterday decided to give it to Joan's sister Dorothy.   Joan and Dorothy were close and both were into embroidery.  Our daughter Helen suggested I give it all to Dorothy and I am a bit ashamed that I never thought of it myself.

Dorothy's daughter Katherine, her husband Rick and his mother are visiting Western Australia and we are invited to a party at Dorothy's house tomorrow evening.  I like Katherine and Rick and Dorothy tells me that Rick's mother is very nice.  The party kicks off at around 6.30 and at 4.30 I have an appointment to collect some computers in East Perth.   Perth traffic gets a bit heavy on the freeways from about 3.30pm, so I wouldn't have time to return to my home and unload the computers and turn around and join the traffic jam en-route to Hillary's which is normally, in off peak times, about 45minutes from my place.  So the computer gear is going to the party as well and Helen and James will have to drive themselves rather than having Dad as skipper.

The house is full of computers to give to needy folks.  I placed a notice at a local university and received only one 'customer'.   I'm guessing that because I didn't make  tear-off phone number tags, that person took the notice down off the board.  When  I return from Esperance I will make a new tear-off notice and hope to place most of the Macs ready to go.

Here is a rough photo of Joan during University of W.A. annual 'Prosh' in London Court, Perth W.A.