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!