Saturday, June 30, 2012

Elna Grasshopper

I recently had one of Joan's vintage sewing machines serviced as I have been thinking of selling most of them. This one is an Elna portable nicknamed 'The Grasshopper' because of its green livery.
                         The Elna case is also a foldout sewing table.

The serviceman is a nice Italian fellow who was very interested to see one of these machines for the first time. This one was born either in 1940 or '41; made in Switzerland. He did a thorough job with the service, but was unable to source a drive belt. The original belt was slack and he suggested that it still works well if a helping hand is applied when starting. Not good for a collector!

I paid him his $60 tax free and on the way home saw an industrial parts supplier and managed to get an identical belt for the outrageous fee of $3.05. The new belt is an industrial 'O' ring.

Tonight the major Lotto prize is $30m. A bit of that would be nice.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Boat People

The refugee debate is ongoing in Federal Parliament. The government's plan to send some of our refugees to Malaysia in exchange for 4,000 of their refugees is a strange plan. Australia would get to place 800 of our refugees in appalling conditions in Malaysian camps and at the rate of arrivals we are experiencing, those 800 would be replaced by new arrivals in but a few weeks.

Sadly, recent deaths of refugees travelling to Australia from Indonesia, are the result of overcrowding on unsafe boats. Australia routinely destroys refugee boats arriving on Australian shores. For the people smugglers, it would not make economic sense to lose a newer, more seaworthy craft, on a one-way trip to Aus.

The newspapers are full of unkind comments about refugees. Most negative comment centres on the boat people jumping the queue. I doubt there is a queue in Afghanistan from where most of the boat people come from. I believe that most of the boat people realise that once the war back home is scaled down, the Taliban will eventually come back and gains made since they were driven out will be lost.

No school for females for starters.

Australia's refugee problem is minuscule compared with most European countries where there are no longer policed border crossings.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Jamie and the Robot

I dropped in to the local pharmacy today to take a few photos of their robotic dispenser. It is an amazing machine which is reputed to cost about the same as a very expensive car. There are around six pharmacies in the state with these machines. Jamie, the Pharmacist, gave me a run down on how it worked and I was able to see it automatically searching for medicines and taking them up to the top of a spiral slide to spin down to a delivery tray ready to give to customers. It is behind a glass wall, which I imagine, is villain-proof. Very impressive.

Here is a pic of Jamie awaiting the goodies. Handsome fella isn't he? I have met his parents and taught his lovely sister Roselene. The whole family is most pleasant.
click to enlarge.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

On-line shopping

I get almost daily emails from a Chinese mail order site. I cannot recall buying anything from them before, but I have succumbed to making a couple of purchases over the past week. The prices are amazing and most items are freight free to Australia. I have purchased from other Chinese based companies in the past..mainland China and Hong Kong and been more than satisfied with the results. The only poor purchase was of a package of rechargeable AA batteries....hardly any of them worked properly.

On the site where I made my latest purchase I found a Dick Tracy watch....a watch which is also a mobile phone. If you don't know who Dick Tracy is then you might want to read up on him here. I didn't buy the watch. Imagine answering the wrist phone/watch in a busy shopping centre. Embarrassing!

Anyway, my two purchases are a 16Gb flash drive which is concealed in a functioning pen and a photographer's fill-in flash. Ridiculously low prices and useful stuff. On the same site are dozens of smart-phone knock-offs running Android software. China is the new Japan for copies of anything.

Friends living in Sydney recently returned from trip which included Hawaii and Japan. In Japan Albert was in demand with young students wanting to practise their English. Here is Albert surrounded by some lovelies. He reckons it is the hat that does it.
                                   Albert and lovelies at Osaka Station

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Australian Gothic

I haven't really had time to sit down and write over the past few days. Over the weekend I helped my daughter and her husband James 'do over' their front garden. They wanted to get rid of some messy plants/trees, removed a lot of mulch (two trips to the tip) and replaced it with native plant soil and some more native plants. It ended up looking pretty good. Natives don't require much watering and it makes sense to plant them when we are facing water restrictions next summer.
                     Australian Gothic with apologies to Grant Wood

Each weekend there seems to be a couple of near riots at house parties in the Perth Metro area. There are a number of reasons mobs 'crash' parties and I guess the social media plays a big part in spreading the news about a party to attend. Police squads, dogs etc attend and often vehicles, including police vehicles, get damaged. Very few of the miscreants are arrested.

The solution might end up with parents not having parties for their kids or counselling invitees not to tell the world about it on Facebook. Alternatively, the police could advise the mob that they are about to read them the Riot Act and follow up with a water cannon. I guess in these times the police are concerned about some bogan getting hurt and taking legal action.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

No old car, but a new one

I decided to pass on the vintage car(s). I am too old to start out again with old cars. My car was still giving me a few problems yesterday....not serious stuff but enough to pain me as I have not been able to convince the service people that it is actually at fault. Driving past the sale yard yesterday I drove in and asked how much they would trade my car in on another model and I drove out today with a Hyundai i45. Nice car and I promised myself I would not be getting it serviced at their service centre.

I have ranted at graphic artists and the way they leave their computers with hair, crumbs and drink in the keyboards. About half of my work refurbishing computers is giving keyboards a detailing.
Yesterday I confess to breaking my own rules and tipped a large mug of coffee into my new Apple wireless keyboard and mouse. Much swearing, drying off with tissues and hairdrier and the mouse is back in town, but the keyboard still has a single key which doesn't want to work. Not a biggy.....tomorrow we are expecting a nice sunny day and I will set the keyboard out in the sun for a bit more TLC.

Monday, June 11, 2012


Today I went to look at a car advertised in the Sunday paper.    It is a 1964 Toyota Crown Deluxe.  The owner has it for sale for $5,500 and it is near original condition.  We owned one of these for a short period when we were home on leave from Papua New Guinea in 1971.   Great car with many innovations not seen in Australian made cars of the time.
After taking it for a 'spin' he showed me his other cars.  He has a magnificent Alvis saloon, a 1927 Wolesely a 1946 Ford V8  sedan and a car under construction being hand made by this very skilled man.

It soon became obvious that we were very similar in many ways.  We both had a youth of motorcycles, both had restored and built cars, both owned an ex-cray boat and we both own a vintage gramophone.  Top that off with the fact that we are both 72 years of age and both lost a wife around 18 months ago.

I liked the Toyota, but once I saw the Ford V8 I feel like paying more to get the Ford @  $22,000.   On the other hand I shall allow myself a cooling off period of a few days and most probably not get into the vintage car business and just stick to distributing computers.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Garlic ocean prawns

Winter is here!  It is blowing like a ....B.  I suspect that somewhere around the metro area there are a few roofs blown away.  It's a day for staying inside.  

Yesterday I helped son-in-law James finish off building a steel fence to replace the one eaten by Rosy their year old Staffy.  After the job was finished Helen, our daughter, made the most wonderful snack of Garlic Prawns, so, I must share the recipe.    This recipe does not swim the prawns in olive oil and is relatively dry.

Here 'tis....

Half Kilo of peeled and de-veined prawns.  (de-veined is a polite term for removing the poo tube)   set aside.

Heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in pan and add 3 cloves of garlic (whole peeled). Roast in oil until brown and soft.  Remove pan from heat.  Crush the garlic with a spoon & chop finely.

Place pan back on heat and add a large knob of butter to the remaining olive oil.

Add prawns and 1-2 pinches of Sumac, approx. 1 tablespoon of finely chopped parsley and salt and pepper when cooked.

Put everything in a bowl  including the oil and herbs from pan.  Dip in with skewers.  Croutons to soak up the residual oils and herbs.

Helen says the roasted garlic is the important ingredient

                                                    Sorry, all gone!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Laughing alone

I am a great fan of the TV series, The Big Bang Theory.  For me, alone in the house, I find it quite strange to hear myself laughing out loud at the show. It is also a bit pseudo-intellectual and I can feel that I am still 'with it' if I understand most of the geeky jokes.
                                                       The cast.

John, my friend who recently died, suffered for years from Lewy Body disease.  Lewy Body attacks the brain and leads to hallucinations, Parkinsons-like rigidity and eventual, over some years, death.    Some time ago when researching Lewy Body I came across a wonderful blog by a woman who was caring for her father suffering from Lewy Body.  When I read all of her blog I told John's wife Joy about the blog and she too felt it was a wonderful testament of caring for someone close.   It is humorous without being depreciating.....a must read.  Find it here.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Losing it?

Dear me I'm losing it!     Yesterday and this afternoon I helped my son-in-law build a metal fence. It all went well and looks good.   When I came home this evening I had a couple of glasses of white wine and decided to make a sweet and sour pork dish for dinner.  I have made this dish a number of times and it is relatively easy to make.   The pork was diced and in a batter, the rice cooked and drained and the sauce was smelling and looking good in a saucepan on the hot plate.    Time to 'plate up' as the chefs say....but I had to thicken the sauce with a small amount of cornflower.  I mixed it with some cold water and poured it into the hot sauce. An almighty foam-up occurred which later took some cleaning up.  Whilst cleaning up the mess I noticed the cornflower packet was actually Baking Soda and as we all know...vinegar and baking soda react with much foam and bubbling.  

I am unsure if this is a phase I am going through or the start of Alzheimers.  I am doing other irrational things, but friends assure me they also lose their keys, don't know what they went into the bedroom for, forget to take their purse/wallet when shopping etc, etc.

Monday, June 4, 2012

A Public Holiday

Today is a holiday in Western Australia. I must confess that, to me, a holiday usually meant a day off work. I have been retired now for 14 years and I have 'missed' a lot of holidays over those years. I hear people talking about the long weekend coming up, but never hear what the holiday is for.

Today's holiday is Western Australia Day, previously named Foundation Day, but mainly in deference to our indigenous people, renamed W.A. Day. I am unsure if the usual Foundation Day celebrations will change....usually there are colonial uniforms, muskets etc at re-enactments of the British securing this side of Australia for the Crown. We are in an age of Political Correctness in respect to our Aboriginal people.

A little background from Wikipedia:

HMS Challenger, under Captain Charles Fremantle, anchored off Garden Island on 25 April 1829. Fremantle officially claimed the western part of Australia for Britain on 2 May. The merchant vessel Parmelia, with Stirling, other officials and civilian settlers on board, sighted the coast on 1 June. It anchored in Cockburn Sound on 2 June. Another warship, HMS Sulphur, arrived on 6 June, carrying the British Army garrison. The Swan River Colony was officially proclaimed by Stirling on 11 June.
Ships carrying more civilian settlers began arriving in August, and on 12 August, Helen Dance, wife of the captain of Sulphur, cut down a tree to mark the founding of the colony's capital, Perth.
In 1834, Stirling decided that an annual celebration was needed to unite the colony's inhabitants, including both settlers and Aborigines, and "masters and servants" (the terms used at the time for employers and employees). He decided that an annual commemoration would be held on 1 June. It appears that the date was chosen by Stirling not only because it represented the sighting of the coast from Parmelia, but because it was also the date of a significant British naval victory in 1794, the "Glorious First of June".
Today's cartoon in The West Australian newspaper.