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.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Fathers' Day at Fremantle

Fathers Day was a biggy for me.  Helen and James took me to Fremantle City where we visited the Freo markets, a nice brewery/restaurant and a bit of a Freo pub crawl ending up at Little Creatures Brewery in the fishing boat harbour.  Quite a few drinks, good food and music.  I haven’t been to Fremantle for pleasure in many years even though my house is only 10 kilometres away.    Most enjoyable.

Tomorrow we are driving to Albany.  Dennis is delivering an antique drawing table to an artist friend there and I am collecting 9 computers to bring back to Fremantle.  We are staying in town for three nights and hope the weather calms down so we can do the touristy thing.  There is much to see in historic Albany.  Some pics when we return.

I have been looking at a vintage pocket watch I have.  To restore or not, that is the question.     It is an American Waltham Traveler made in 1890 or thereabouts.  It needs a Bezel and Crystal which in layman’s terms means, watch glass rim and the actual glass.  I have had a quote by an Australian repairer at $490.00 which includes cleaning the movement.  This watch has no family heritage attached to it, in fact I don’t know how it came into our possession.  Perhaps Joan, my late wife, bought it for me and never got around to having it repaired?  I will now never know.

I cannot image myself at a gathering, reaching into a waistcoat pocket, hauling out the gold pocket Waltham exclaiming  ‘Dear me, is it really 4pm?’

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Two very brave Russians

Two political opponents of Russia’s President Putin have written and had published a book on Vladimir Putin’s excesses.  Brave fellas!  The all girl band of Pussy Riot got into a bit of trouble when they staged a protest performance aimed at Putin in Moscow’s main cathedral and the three of the band members were rounded up and sentenced to two years in the big house.

The book about Putin and all his goodies which are quite extraordinary by any ruler’s account certainly places him in a league of the animals of George Orwell’s novel, Animal Farm.

‘All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal that others’.

Vlad struts a bit of machismo....see here.

Some of Vlad’s riches.