Sunday, December 29, 2013

Vulcan Trucks

What must have been a publicity photo of Vulcan trucks in front of Government House Perth (Western Australia) circa 1920.     The trucks were imported from Britain and the bodies made by Motor Body Builders Fremantle.

When I was young in the late 1940s and possibly in the early 1950s, there were still solid-tyred trucks like these working in the Port of Fremantle.  Solids on the two trucks left and right in the photo.
click to enlarge

When next I am in Perth City, I must see if those trees are still there.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Boxing Day

Boxing Day in this household is nice and quiet.  Rest day for me.

Father Xmas brought a nice lot of presents for everyone who gathered at Brian and Lilli’s house in Mandurah.  Brother Graham didn’t fall for the bottle of lousy homebrew beer wrapped up in a Moet box I gave him.  He himself gave a present to Lilli in a MacBook Air box.  He did something similar last Xmas, so she also wasn’t fooled.

Daughter Helen and husband James gave me a three-piece flavorStone cooking set.  I followed the instructions for the preconditioning of the three utensils and gave the fry pan a workout with a nice piece of filet steak topped with cherry tomatoes for lunch.   It functioned exactly as advertised.   Great, thanks  H & J.

My niece Katherine and husband Rick were back here in Western Australia from the U.S. for Xmas.   Katherine is partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers and Rick is a dermatologist.  They recently bought a multi-story house in the middle of San Francisco and are going to rent somewhere for a year whilst an architect supervises the remodelling of the building.   
Katherine gave Rick a very smart professional hand-held variable magnification and LED light inspection tool.   I had jokingly mentioned earlier in the day that everyone should line up for a five-minute consultation and after opening his present he decided to check out a small lesion I have on my scalp.  The verdict is that it is OK.

Katherine and Rick have invited people to visit them in their new house after the renos are completed.  I think I will do it.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Day 2013

My best wishes for the season and that 2014 will be a healthy, happy, safe and prosperous year for all my friends and readers.

I am the ‘skipper’ and doing the driving when my Brother Graham, daughter Helen and husband James travel south to Mandurah to see if Santa has any pressies for us at Joan’s sister’s son, Brian’s house.    (I love apostrophes!)   Apostrophes for the pedantic.

Our son Martin visited yesterday and I gave him a haircut and he thought he would be able to join us in Mandurah today, but his AS is still causing him lots of grief and he is not able to attend.  

The Lock family has a track record of dodgy Xmas/birthday  presents.  I am giving brother Graham a bottle of poorly made homebrew beer dressed up in a Moet box.    He will also get a real Xmas present from me.  Don’t know what he may spring on me.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Sharks and flies both hazardous at Christmas

Some savoury and not so savoury stuff.    It is the fly season here in Western Australia.  Nice hot weather and the flies breed like...well; like flies!

I set up a couple of my homemade flytraps with the same bait in the same position and strangely, one trap is very successful and the other has not attracted a single fly.    Can it be that the flies don’t like blue plastic bottle lids?  Both traps certainly have equal stinkiness.

My cocktail tomatoes are going great guns and I can harvest about 50 tomatoes each day.  I have made a few sauces and daughter Helen came this morning to collect a lot to make a soup.  When the bushes were young the tomatoes suffered from insect strikes.  I sprayed for about a week, then stopped and I no longer need to worry about insects.  I guess there are a few more weeks of harvest yet.

The Western Australian Government has decided to catch and kill sharks cruising our beaches where swimmer and surfers frequent.  There have been a number of  fatal attacks and some non-fatal attacks over the last few years and the state government has been pressured into doing something about them.  Opponents to any ‘cull’ of Great Whites argue that more people are killed in road accidents than by sharks, which is quite true.  

There are, at a guess, approximately up to a million drivers in W.A. out of a total population of 2.118 million people.  I could be quite wrong guessing that around half the population drives, but any true number would be far above the 10 or so sharks spotted around the coast at any one time.  The pros, cons and stats are here.

I guess both flies and sharks are up for a bit of Christmas fare, too.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Land of the Unexpected

Papua New Guinea is sometimes called ’The Land of the Unexpected’.  In the 36 years since we returned to Australia after leaving PNG, I have followed PNG’s progress since  Independence from Australia in 1975.     There have been some ‘unexpected’ happenings there over the years.  Recently a number of horrific murders of mostly elderly women accused of sorcery.  

Here is a recent article from the nation’s main newspaper.  Hard for me to understand  how an educated man can believe such stuff.  He obviously has a brain, but methinks he is sitting on it.

Another strange and hard to fathom act is being perpetrated by the speaker of the National Parliament House.  He has ordered contractors to tear down and destroy traditional carvings  which adorned Parliament House.   

A POLE symbolising national unity will adorn the Grand Hall in Parliament to replace the totem pole that has created so much public debate over its displacement.
Speaker of the national parliament Theo Zurenuoc said the national unity pole would comprise four layers representing the Word of God, the Constitution, the people and the Covenant.
The totem pole has three heads representing the god of witchcraft on the left, the god of immorality on the right and the god of idolatry in the middle,” he said.
“While the carvings are harmless and lifeless wood, they symbolically represent ancestral gods and spirits of idolatry, immorality and witchcraft.”

The missionaries did a good job converting him.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Ankylosing Spondilitis

Over the last week I have been trying to get a Mac computer running.  Ken, who owns the machine uses it to run video and music.  He has spent most of his life as a muso playing guitar.  His Mac is the last of the MirrorDoor series.  Nice machines, but a bit rare these days.  Ken has a late model Mac 27” to record and tweek voiceovers that he does for ad agencies.   He has an impressive sound studio at his house.   I took a couple of shots with my phone which were poor and have made a resolution to take a real camera when lighting conditions are not great.  

When trying to get his older Mac running again, we determined that the power supply was U/S and I thought that the chance of finding an identical PS was pretty remote.  A friend told me that there was a similar Mac on a roadside chuckout so I collected it and it was identical.  The owner of the salvaged Mac had been either too lazy or lacked the knowledge to remove the four Hard Drives from the machine and so attacked it with what must have been a sledge hammer.  The four drives were damaged beyond use, but the power supply looked undamaged, so we installed the one from the roadside and he now has his music machine working again.  

This morning I could not get my son to answer his phone and I did a little panic and drove down to  his (my) unit.  He is in poor shape with continual pain from Ankylosing Spondilitis and has spent a couple of days sleeping.  Not good!  He also has fluid retention in his feet, so I drove to Kwinana shopping centre to see if I could get a non-script diuretic.  The only available non-script stuff was an alternative off the counter product which I didn’t go for.  Tomorrow I will collect him and take him to his GP to get the real stuff.   The Kwinana Shopping Centre is a new building, very large,  serving the town of Kwinana.  The de rigueur is tatoos on arms and legs.   Sorry; not everyone there has a tat!  We, Joan and I, taught in Kwinana in the 1960s and every time I have occasion to shop there (very rare) I expect to see some ex-students and forget that they would now be in their early 60s.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Chef accidentelle

Last night I cooked a pickled beef silverside   I did it on a BBQ outside.  I calculated the cook time to be two hours and made up the usual blend of water, vinegar, pepper seeds and brown sugar.  Once it was at the boil, I set the timer, reduced the flame to a simmer and sat down with a glass of wine and watched TV.    I recall waking up in the chair at 10pm and staggering to bed.  I had slept through the timer alarm.
Around 4am I woke with a start and remembered the meat and dashed outside to find the beef cooked to perfection and the gas blown out by wind.  This morning I am eating sliced pickled beef on toast....perfect!    I will hide the remainders somewhere in the fridge as my son is visiting today and he loves silverside.

Yesterday I had three pleasant young university students come to collect a Mac computer each.  There was a bit of paper/scissors when the selection of computers and larger screens were lined up, but they were all most grateful.  That makes my project worthwhile.  These Macs were G5 towers given to me by my contact at an Australia-wide printing works.  Nice machines, liquid cooled with solid aluminium cases.  Almost a bit sad to see them go! 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Caveat Emptor

Over the past couple of days I have attended two Xmas ‘get-togethers’.   Can’t say that they were wonderful or even necessary and I guess I am becoming a grumpy old man.   I meet with four other friends weekly for coffee, snacks and conversation and that is good and enough for me.

An ex-student of mine, Sean, lives in NSW.  He rang a couple of days ago to tell me that he is soon to turn 50 and a and some friends, are going to Phuket to celebrate the event.  I can’t remember turning 50!    He asked me to attend and I think I will.  Thanks for thinking of me Sean.

Yesterday I drove to a nearby suburb to buy an advertised camera tripod.  It was inexpensive...$30 and I asked if everything worked.  I was told that it was all OK. The young couple seemed pleasant and I later found that the tripod head was shattered and useless.  Fortunately I was able to made some rough repairs and it will do the job I had in mind.   I emailed the couple saying that they were selling under the umbrella of caveat emptor (buyer beware)  and whilst $30 to me is nothing, I felt sorry that $30. was so important to them.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

visiting chef

Our daughter Helen cooked for me last night.  She brought over all the ingredients for a wonderful meal and all I had to do was the clean up and enjoy it with her.

Lamb cutlets with roasted cherry tomatoes in a red wine vinegar glaze and a potato, zucchini, green bean and fetta salad with roasted pine nuts, lemon, mint and olive oil dressing.     Accompanied by a local (Houghtons) bubbly.

Living alone doesn't inspire me to go to great lengths to present a nice meal and I guess most single people are in the same boat.

Outstanding!    Thanks Hel. you can come over and cook for me any time you like.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Artistic postcards

My friend Joy’s daughter is very artistic.  Only recently have I seen some of her paintings and lino prints.  The ones I have seen are mostly artistic postcards home after an event. A short text and the artwork.  I like them!

                                    Click the photos to enlarge them.

                      Hi mum, got home from Linda's funeral and painted this.  

To me, it's about the winds of fate, but also about how for the one involved, stuff scattered, shared or gone; but ended and those close; devastated. But to all down the hill, life as normal.
Got to have a cup of tea with the other sister today and apparently when Linda was in and out of consciousness she kept saying ‘its so beautiful but it's windy’ Interesting! 

A little lino print I did last weekend. My sweet daughter with the orange hair asked what the Milky Way looks like .
I was totally horrified.  She is eleven and didn't, like me, remember being a kid in the seventies and lying on front lawn, loving looking at the stars .

Couple of weeks later we had a holiday in York and both spent the night staring at the sky.... also a big tree with a swing. Lovely night.

Saturday, November 30, 2013


Daughter Helen is recovering from the migraine attack.  She has a supply of a nasal spray named Imigran, which seems to give relief.  

Yesterday I joined about 40 other oldies for a reunion of Papua New Guinea expatriates who all belong to the PNGAssociation, an Australia wide organisation aimed at keeping people in contact so that they can get an opportunity to tell their stories to people who will be interested.  Many people are not too interested in old PNG stories.
The venue was a hotel reception room and we shared the room with another reunion of the class of 1962 of Kent St High School.  I was amazed to see my cousin Ted at the Kent St gathering in the same room.   The noise from around 80 people recounting past times was deafening.  
At 74 I thought I might be the oldest there, but there were plenty older than me.

I will suggest the next ‘get-together’ be at someone’s house so that it is easier to converse and move around.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Yesterday was not one of my better days.   Daughter Helen had rung in sick at work with a minor migraine.  Later in the day she was woken with extreme stabbing pains in her head.  She rang me and I drove to her place and determined that an ambulance trip to the nearest hospital was necessary.  James her husband was out with one of their dogs at a vet.

I cannot recall seeing someone in such pain.  She could not think straight and was alternating between screaming and swearing.  I tried a cold compress without any relief as we waited for the ambulance.     James arrived home just as the ambulance turned up.  We got Helen out to the ambulance and it seemed ages as the ambos asked a series of questions which I felt was to determine whether this was serious enough to warrant and emergency trip to hospital.  I do know from sitting in the reception area of the Emergency Dept., that had I driven her to hospital she may well still be waiting for assessment and treatment.

After a CT scan of her head, two doses of morphine, a nasal administered pain killer and intravenous something, the pain receded somewhat.  Then came the nausea and vomiting which lost the last two painkiller tablets.   I could see improvement and so left Helen and James and came home.  She was discharged at around 9pm and given a script for some heavyweight painkillers which they filled on the way home.   Today is her birthday and tomorrow is mine.  We were to go out for a meal tonight, but I am not sure that would be wise.


Monday, November 25, 2013

A Busy Bee

I own a second story unit in a block of 18 in Orelia, south of Fremantle.  It is quite a nice 2 bedroom unit with a large deck.  Unfortunately Orelia has some major problems with youths invading such blocks of units by kicking in steel fences and jumping over walls.  Cars are damaged and anything of value not locked down is stolen.  Our son Martin is living in the unit.

There are 18 units in the block and some of the owners refuse to pay the Strata fees.  Whilst legal action has been taken on them, it is a long drawn-out problem and responsible owners have been hit with extra Strata fees to pay water bills etc.

The Strata management asked owners to attend a ‘Busy Bee’ this last Sunday with the idea of  cleaning up gardens, pool and gazebo areas.  Three owners turned up and we worked solidly for three+ hours.  Busy Bee is an Australian term for a group work session without payment.  Like me, the other two owners either lived in their unit or had family residing there.    

Mean spirited act on the part of the other 15 owners.

                                                    Not as nice as it looks

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Techno tragic

I recently bought a secondhand 17” MacBook Pro for $150.  Love; great speakers, unmarked condition.    I have an iPad, but clumsy Kev has trouble doing one hand typing on a digital keyboard.  I have other laptops and desktop computers which I should give away or sell, but I am afraid that I am a techno-hoarder.  I still have an operational Beta VCR and 30+ movies (tapes).

The Australian Prime Minister has taken a hammering from the Indonesian President after it was disclosed that Australia has been spying on Indonesia and even monitoring President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s personal phone calls, including conversations between the Pres. and his wife.   PM Tony Abbott has not really apologised and the pressure is on to either give an apology and assurances that spying will stop, or relations between Aus and Indonesia will get very frosty. Already the Pres has cancelled all military cooperation with Australia and canned the deals made about boat people heading to Australia through Indonesia.
U.S. President Barack Obama was recently caught holding the ball about U.S. spying on Germany et al. and he immediately apologised and that seems to have calmed things down.  I think everyone knows that almost all nations are doing a bit of eavesdropping on friends and enemies.  China has been doing a bit more than listening is claimed that Chinese agencies have been breaking into U.S. military networks.

Unless our PM apologises and promises to look into what is going on, the Indonesian public might well vote in a radical President next election.  Goodbye Bali!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Bachelor

I declare that I have not watched ‘The Bachelor’ on TV.   What I see online and in the newspapers is enough.  This fellow is to choose his lifetime partner in a reality TV farce.  Imaging the sniggers at parties when the happy couple arrive.  

I can see the sense in online dating for desperate, single people and those not in the 5% of the beautiful.  Widows, widowers, divorcees, ungainly, unhandsome people need a place to hook up, but to win a partner on a nationwide, very public TV show....nah!

      Wait.... 'widower, ungainly, unhandsome person'....sounds like me!

                                    I guess a followup show could be The Divorcee.

                                                           Pick one mate.

                                            Sorry there's only one winner.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Tomato fails

I dabble at growing vegetables.  My tomatoes are healthy, but insects have attacked most  of the fruit making them mostly inedible.    They look OK as they hang there, but underneath the tricky little bugs have ruined them.  I spray all the new fruit with a gentle insecticide Pyrethrum.  The label advises that there should be a one-day withholding period before picking the fruit.  I notice that a second ingredient is Piperonyl Butoxide which is nasty sounding stuff which was the main ingredient of fly sprays in the 1950s/60s.

It is hardly worth growing tomatoes, when at this time of year here, they sell for $5. per box. 

There is no way that ‘organic’ and regular market garden tomatoes don’t get sprayed to keep the bugs off.  They, of course, use organic insecticides and managed insect control....Oh Yea?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Newmont Boddington Gold Mine

Yesterday daughter Helen and I drove to the Newmont Gold mine at Boddington.  We, and about 500 other people, were guests of the company which was opening the minesite to family, friends and partners of workers at the site.  The mine is 130 kilometres from Perth in Western Australia.  Boddington is an open pit mine,

Everyone was outfitted with safety gear and we boarded buses for a guided tour of the complete site.    Blasting was suspended for the day, but the mine was otherwise working.    There are two main pits, three crushing plants and a processing plant where the flotation method extracts gold and copper from the final finely crushed ore.  It was a great day.  I cannot remember all the figures of production, so I suggest you watch this YouTube presentation.

The campsite has much to occupy off duty workers which on average total around 1200.  Sports, gymnasium, a wet canteen and a very nice dry canteen (mess) with plenty of nice food. A couple of stats that I did remember were that the canteen did 300 pies per day and 1000 chickens a week.   Watermelon was talked of in tonnage.

We were invited because James, Helen’s husband, works there on a two week rotation (one week on; one off) The tour ended with a BBQ and salads and drinks. Good day!

Unfortunately there was a plague of bush flies.  They don’t seem as smart as city flies and were easy to slap down.
                                               Click photos to enlarge them
                                                         One of two pits
                                                             Dump truck
                                          Helen in front of Dump Truck wheel
                                                       Water truck
          The initial crushing plant which reduces the rock to football size
                                     Trucks tipping ore into initial crusher
                                                Massive cable shovel
                                           2.5 kilometre conveyor belt

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

'Tight Arse Traveller'

I have had a sudden rush of people turning up to collect free computers from my place and yesterday had a phone call from a chap who asked if I could come to his house to repair his PC.  I explained to him that I was not a PC expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I would have a look at it for him.  He got my name from a librarian at his Public Library.  He was given my name and phone details and told that I repair and distribute computers.  I cannot imagine how the librarian had my details. 

When I went to his house we cranked up the PC and it made a noise which indicated that the RAM (memory card) was not working.  I brought it home and when I opened it replaced the RAM with one from my it now works.  The rear of the box was facing a window which he leaves open to the weather and it has rusted some of the exterior bare steel panels and I believe affected the RAM slot inside the box.  I took it back this morning and he was delighted that he didn’t have to call a real repair man.
                                               My RAM collection

He is 71 years of age...almost three years younger than me and could talk underwater. He is a self described ‘tight arse traveller’ having made many world trips on the cheap.  He flies at night so he doesn’t need a hotel bed; takes his own bowl and breakfast cereal and seeks out other travellers to share a room on the cheap.  On a recent trip he slipped into Burma for a look  and got out without being caught without documents.  Friends maintain that if he were caught and jailed, he would be in first class accommodation compared to his regular doss houses.

Good talking (listening) with him!

Monday, November 4, 2013

A not so wonderful day

Today has been a mixed blessing.   I joined my brother Graham for a lunch at a nearby tavern.   The food didn’t have the taste  I was used to; sort of like I experienced with my dear wife when she was going.  I have lost the ability to cook creatively (if I ever had it).

I came home and continued cleaning out residual memories from cupboards.  I found a package of sympathy cards from Joan’s  funeral.  I will have to find addresses for the senders to send them the URL for our family  blog to tell them how I/we are going. 
That was  very upsetting.

I have lots of people who support me in times like this, many of them ex-students of mine.  A young lady at the bottle shop I frequent is a most pleasant gal.  I enjoy her bright, young,  vibrant personality and I wish I could drain off some of it to me.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A room for visitors

Our son Martin is finally in to my unit at Orelia.  He has found that getting to work by bus is relatively easy, but costs him around $60 per week.   I had to remind him the fuel and associated expenses of running a car would be far more than $60 per week.
I had a full-on clean up of what was Martin’s side of my house and it is now ready for visitors.....if I had any... sniff sniff.  Sister Shirley can come stay with me next time she travels up from Esperance to hit the big smoke.

I recently lost my car in a large shopping centre car park.  Easy enough when most cars are silver and similar size.  I then thought that I would design an App for iPhone and name it ‘find my car’.    I did a search for iPhone Apps and there are dozens already available.  Too late Locky!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Bad Boys

My unit in the non-salubrious suburb of Orelia is ready for occupation by our son Martin.  We; friends and family, have helped shift Martin’s gear in and he will probably move in later this week.  It is a two bedroom second story unit and getting some of the heavy gear up two flights of stairs was a bit of a struggle.  Daughter Helen’s husband James did most of the heavy lifting on the final load this morning.  Thanks James, Graham and Dennis.

Previously it was rented and the last tenants were an Indian family.  They were good tenants, but family comes first and Martin was keen to have his own place.  Their lease ended and I didn’t offer them a new term.

The Strata company which looks after the whole block of units sent me a letter following a complaint by another tenant that my tenants were hanging their washing on a balcony and as that contravened a local by-law they must be instructed to stop the practice.  By the time I received the letter the tenants had vacated the property.  Yesterday brother Graham and I checked out the outdoor clothesline area which has not been used for months, maybe years, as marauding groups of indigenous youths kick down sections of the steel fence and steal all manner of property.   Yesterday as we approached the hanging area, a group of about 10 youths had kicked in the fence and climbed a wall to go swimming in the pool.  We were threatened with death and I am ashamed to admit that a single incident like that caused prejudices that I didn’t think I had.

              I expect most readers know of suburbs like this one no matter where they live.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Stranger danger??

Over the last few days I have had a number of people come to collect refurbished Apple Mac computers.   I had placed notices on boards at Murdoch University and local shopping centres.  Most of the Macs have now gone to people who will make good use of them.  Almost all of them at first expressed  concern that it may not be as I had to needy folk.  I also noted that I would rather they be saved from landfill.

I guess it is a sign of the times that people are cautious when offered something of value for free.  In each case the person coming to collect a computer was accompanied by at least one other person.    Fortunately, face-to-face that changed and all of them were most grateful and even excited at getting a nice machine.   

I would have advised my daughter to take a friend along when going to a stranger’s house.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Moses Hailai Jr/Sr

51 years ago I taught a young lad in Papua New Guinea.  Yesterday I had a comment on this blog by his son of the same name, Moses Hailai.   He left his email address and we exchanged greetings and a little about his father who, like me, has retired from teaching.  Moses Jr will pass on my contact details and I am hoping that this will be another reunion.
Here’s a pic from 1962 showing Moses outside my SOQ in the Gulf of Papua, tasting ice for the first time.

Moses Hailai holding the ice block tray.

Our son is soon to be moving back to the unit we purchased some years ago to house him.  It will make it difficult to get to work as he won’t get his drivers licence back for quite some time.  At the moment he gets up at 4.45am to start work at 7am catching two buses from here.  Where the unit is will mean getting up much earlier.  A work colleague who lives near the unit has offered to take him to work, as she starts and finishes around the same time.  Hope they don’t get sick of each other.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Mazda 929

I have had a number of Mazda cars.  All were well built and reliable.  But I feel the need to buy another 929 before they are all gone.  I have had three 929s.  When new, 1991-95, they were very expensive for a Japanese car....somewhere around A$70,000.  My three cost on average, $4,500.    I loved them!

I now drive a Hyundai i45.  Nice car, but I recently saw a 929 advertised for $3,600 negotiable.  Yesterday I went and looked at it.  One owner from new with 100,000 kilometres on the clock.  It looked very nice.  The owner started it and I heard a tappet noise.  $$$$$$   It also had not had the timing belt changed since new.    

Today I visited a local mechanic and he gave me estimates for both jobs.  $800+ to fit a new belt and $1800+ to replace a hydraulic tappet.  I might give it a miss.  Pity! 

The 929 has 4 wheel steering and a host of other electronic stuff which at 20 years of age might start to give trouble.

As Willy Wonka said..’stop that, reverse it’.   If negotiations were to go well, I might yet do it.

Monday, October 14, 2013

A curry dinner party

I am very proud of our daughter Helen.  She was born on the 28th of November and so, was always younger than the rest of her classmates.  She once asked me why she got my brains and brother Martin got Joan’s brains.  ‘Luck of the draw’ I replied.   I suggested that people like us...not so gifted, had to work harder at it and she has since made a successful career as a teacher.  I suspect they both got Joan’s brains.  Hey, I was born on the 29th of November..maybe I wasn't so dumb after all?

Here is an article about delaying starting school for a year which even though we, Joan and I, were teachers didn’t consider at the time.  In the U.S. the term is Redshirting.

She is also  a great cook, experimenting with new sausages and three veg for her and James!  Last Saturday she had a dinner party for eight.  It was a curry night of four different curries; goat, beef, lamb and chicken with dahl and naan bread.  For starters we had spiced potato, samosas and sambals and finished the meal with a desert brought by her friend Maria, a cassata  made with biscuits, fruit, yoghurt and cream...delicious!

Maria is also an accomplished guitarist and we all joined in with her in a good old fashioned sing-a-long.  Sort of like a 1950s stand around the piano evening.

A pretty poor pic of part of the dinner table.  Should have taken a camera rather that a phone.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Talking Turkey at the Panel Shop

Yesterday I dropped off my car at a panel shop for a bit of plastic surgery on a number of scratches and small dents on its body.
Panel shops often like you to claim on your insurance policy and some naughty ones offer to mark down all the dents as one minor accident. The cost is then elevated and if you have been a reasonable member to the insurance company it is approved and everyone is happy.   

In my case I have had a couple of minor prangs over the last 10 years and to keep my no-claim bonus, decided to talk turkey with a panel shop known to do ‘cashies’.  I also didn’t want them to know that at 73 years of age I was losing the plot.  The panel man came up with a figure of $900. which is far below other quotes I had.    $900. seems a lot to touch up minor bits, but if the job is to be done properly, entire panels must be painted to ensure colour matching.  I will collect the car tomorrow.

I thought I would catch a bus to the local shopping centre, withdraw the required cash from a teller and catch a cab home.    No bus, so I walked the 4 kilometres to the shopping centre.  Next I found that the ATM which services my account was down.  Not enough cash for a taxi so I walked the other 4 kilometres home.  I then rode a bicycle to daughter Helen’s place to service the large fish tank and two fish ponds in the backyard.  I started to think that exercise might be good for me.  

In the afternoon I had a visit from a teaching colleague of many years ago; Brendan.  He is back from Texas for two weddings.  Both are of his kids and they decided to coordinate them within a two week period so dad would be able to attend them both.   We had a very pleasant afternoon in the sun primed with a few beers.  Brendan is in Texas with his wife who was transferred there by a mining company which is operating here in Western Australia.   
Texas, if one doesn’t know it, is basically Republican heartland and most people think that it is OK to shut down the nation when the Pres. tries to introduce some fairness to the medicare system.   Nuff said! 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Recycling win

A few weeks ago I visited a recycling centre in the city of Fremantle.  I don’t live within the city’s boundaries, but still manage to dispose of some of my irreparable computer gear there.

I noticed a smart looking laptop in the computer section.  I got it home and found the hard drive had been removed which is standard practice if one is to dump a computer.  No problemo, I had a spare.  It also didn’t have a power supply and the battery was dead.  I took a punt and bought a secondhand power supply for $50. and after a lot of mucking about got it started.   
                             It was the eye candy that sucked me in.

Loading an operating  system and all the drivers for that particular machine (17” Dell XPS M1730) took some time.  It also gave me a bit of a headache getting it to recognise my wireless modem.  After many test starts and restarts I figured I would purchase a new battery for it @ $55.

So there it is up and running.  It is a fast machine, but I am not very familiar with PCs and find getting around in XP a bit clumsy compared to a Mac.   Now I don’t know what I am going to do with it.  

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Halong Bay

This morning I drove our daughter Helen and her husband James to Perth International Airport for their flight to Singapore.  They should be touching down about now.  They are spending a few days in ‘Singers’ and then on to Vietnam where they will visit Hanoi and then a few days on a luxury small boat cruising Halong Bay, a popular tourist destination.

Meantime I have done a short course (I think I passed) in maintaining their very complicated and expensive fish tank. Hope I don’t lose any fish over the time they are away.

I have to test water quality; top up the reserve tank, prepare special food for the fish and keep the tank clean.   Fortunately the lighting is programmed.  Mid week I have to get the water tested and purchase new top up water....reverse osmosis water treated to remove any parasites etc.  

                            Fortunately their dogs are in a boarding kennel.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

A 70th birthday celebration

last night our daughter Helen and brother Graham joined me and we drove North of the River to my sister-in-law’s place for her 70th birthday party.  I drove my car there and Helen was the nominated skipper and she drove us home.  A good party with lots of familiar old faces and much animated conversation brought on by Dorothy’s cocktails.

                                     Princess Dorothy dispensing cocktails

                                            Johnny Howard also turned up

                     We bought her two fine Australian bubblies and attached this card....

Our son Martin is ready to return to work if they haven't already decided they can find someone else to take his job.  His painful problem with a gallstone and enlarged Pancreas has calmed down.  I hope he can easily get back into work and not have the problem recur.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Enlarged Pancreas

Our son Martin is having a bad time.  He returned home from work with pains just below his sternum.  I figured it was gastric reflux, but none of the proprietary medicines we have here calmed it down.  The next day he attended his GP and later in the day had a blood test and an ultrasound.  Results showed a 12mm stone in his Gall Bladder and an enlarged Pancreas.

The GP told him that many people exist comfortably with such a stone and removing the Gall Bladder would only be necessary if an infection arose.  The GP suggested that Martin ‘watch’ the enlarged Pancreas. No dietary suggestions??   I have urged Martin to ask her exactly what she meant by ‘watch’.

I have just consulted Dr Google in the form of Web MD.  It seems that the most probable reason for enlarged Pancreas is Gallstones.  So there!

This morning he is feeling a bit better.  His employer is not too happy about the number of sick days Martin has had.  We, Martin and I,  both feel that he needs time to get better and if that doesn’t suit his boss then he should perhaps quit and seek work when he is better.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Arehava Village, Papua

My first posting as Teacher-in-Charge of a school in Papua New Guinea in 1962 was at a village named Arehava. 
Arehava was on the beach on the western end of Orokolo Bay.   The school and my aluminium SOQ (single officers quarters) was only 80-100 metres from the beach and on the other side about 100 metres from a tidal creek.  
A woman washing a pot in the creek.   Nearby another woman was taken by a crocodile.  I was told that it wasn't a croc, it was a sorcerer from another village who had turned himself into a croc.  Payback time!

I was the first and last European teacher at that school and the SOQ was built specifically to house me.  I spent almost three years there and at the ripe old age of 25 transferred to Madang to teach at Madang Technical College.

Arehava was a pressure-cooked growing up period for me, dealing with village politics, sorcerers and some teachers who resented the young Australian teacher in charge of the school.    I look back on that period of my 73 years as formative years.

Click the  photos to enlarge them
Arehava Primary School Std V..  much older than regular Std V kids should have been

At the school garden some miles from the coast.

Maisevese, my cooky who guided me through the village politics

Arehava warrior 1962. What is he doing now?

Arehava Village and the school were demolished by a sunami and the village is now some kilometres inland.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Blue Jasmine

Yesterday, we, Joy, Margaret and I went to the cinema to see Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, a tale of self-destruction. 

  Cate Blanchett must be up for an Oscar for her tortured performance.  Alec Baldwin and the other cast members were also great, but Cate looks to me like the new Meryl Streep.

This movie was a little different to the usual Woody movie, but has the same mix of characters as most of his other movies.   Woody has made many wonderful, funny, crazy movies and some serious movies which could be called tragedies without happy ending.  The Purple Rose of Cairo is one which comes to mind.

Being a Woody fan from way back I took a while to fully appreciate this very good movie.  Go see it.

More info about the movie here.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Bindii grass

This morning I spent some  time in the sun weeding my front lawn of Bindii grass/weed.   Bindii is hard to find until you walk on the very sharp prickles.  Bindii comes to my lawn courtesy of Australia Post delivery motorcycles.  The postman takes the shortest route to the next letterbox over front yard lawns spreading Bindii seeds to all and sundry.  Thanks Mr Postman!  OK, I guess if I were a Postman, I too would take the shortest route to the next letterbox.  A Wikipedia file pic of bindii is below

                                                         click to enlarge

This week is, or was, Perth Fashion Festival and until I saw this photo in the newspaper I never knew why models never smiled.  She obviously isn’t happy parading clothes she most probably wouldn't normally wear.    Sexy indeed!

                      Photo from the West Australian our only daily newspaper.