Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Crabbing in the Swan River

Early Sunday morning my son Martin went with his friend Ian into the swan River to catch some crabs.  Ian has a nice boat, but they weren’t too successful, catching only  a dozen decent sized crabs.  They were expensive crabs...fuel for the big outboard engine and some collateral damage to a trailer wheel bearing.  They barely made it back home here before one of the wheels made an attempt to fall off.
                        Martin with the male Blue Manna crabs
The boat was parked on my driveway and we commenced removing the bits that were left of the wheel bearing.  It took some time to determine the correct replacement bearing and when one was sourced we found that the wheel hub was severely damaged by the broken bearing bits and a complete new hub, seals and bearings had to be sourced.  All better now, but whilst that wheel was jacked up I spun No. 3 wheel and it too made an expensive rumbling noise.  The boat was towed to its home very carefully.  Haven’t heard whether that wheel survived the trip.  This was all a good lesson for me as I was considering buying another boat.   Forget the address!

I cooked the crabs and one of them was bold enough to reach out of the pot and try and turn the gas off.  We ate him first.

Good news, Martin has just been successful in his application for a hotel maintenance man.  He will have to brush up his skills in tiling, tap washer replacement etc etc.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Psychiatric silliness

Monday the 25th  is the second anniversary of my wife Joan’s death.   Somehow ‘anniversary’ seems like the wrong word?

The American Psychiatric Association's new diagnostic manual, DSM 5, which is used in many countries including Australia and New Zealand, suggests that if a person grieves over a partner’s death for more than two weeks, he/she could be told that they have a mental disorder and prescribed anti-depressant drugs.    Bonus for the pharmaceutical companies!  DSM 5 is out in May this year.

I would, according to that document, be severely depressed because I still, after 2 years, have a few tears when I think of my 46 years with Joan.

       Joan, when we met, teaching at Bridgetown High School in 1965

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Past my 'Use By' date?

It would seem that I have reached my ‘Use By’ date. Today at the local pharmacy the checkout woman (maybe in her late 50s or older) pointed out that the paper bag containing my medications was fastened with a label upon which was my name and address.  ‘To make sure nothing falls out and your address will be helpful if you get lost’.    I know she was only joking.... but. 

  And yesterday I had to call a dentist and give my age and phone number, and the operator said..’I suppose you don’t have a mobile No.?’ Even past my Best-Before date I can still use an iPhone.

I am having my teeth descaled this morning.  I don’t have many teeth left, but guess the process is going to cost plenty.  The last time I had them done at the same dentist, the young Indian dentist was trying for the Guiness Book of records for the fastest descale in the world.  Must have taken 4 minutes!

Fluoridation of the water supply has saved many teeth over the last 50 years, but decay is creeping back and some attribute that to people drinking bottled water not containing flouride, and in an incredible move, the Queensland state government has legislated to allow local government councils to decide if their constituents should have flouridation of their water.  I don’t really see how individual council areas could control what goes or doesn’t go into the water delivered to their boundaries.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Bali retrospective

As Dorothy said...’There’s no place like home’.    I am home and whilst I really like Bali, I am glad to be home where everything works well; the paper appears on the front lawn every morning, all my appliances work and my local supermarket can supply me with everything I need from IT stuff to a side of beef.  And my bed is pure luxury!
In Bali the power outlets are not accompanied by a switch. When a power cord from an appliance is inserted in a socket (at least in our hotel) , a large blue flash and a ‘pop’ occurred.  It seemed that this ‘cooked’ my laptop battery and it would no longer accept a charge.  It still worked when I removed the battery and plugged it into the power outlet directly, however the power adaptor no longer showed a reassuring green light at power-up.
Since returning to Australia both the battery and the charger have decided they like it here and have settled back into their normal routine.
There are a multitude of adaptors for Indonesian power outlets to suit the many countries visitors arrive from. This one is a semi-universal adaptor, however it does not have a secure slot for the three-pronged Australian power cord and I had to tape the Aus cord into the adaptor to stop it falling out. 
The price on the side in Indonesian Rupiah is about $1.50 Australian

Whilst we were in Bali, cousin Val and I had numerous occasions where we were referred to as Mum or Dad; husband and wife.   We always replied with ‘we are just good friends’ which always elicited a response ranging from “Oh OK’ to giggles or winks.  One lovely young waitress at the breakfast area at the hotel couldn’t suppress laughter and an embarrassed expression every time we went for breakfast.

Val is a little older that me and she has looked after me before.  This pic, some 70 years old has me in the kids’ pram being supervised by Val.  It was taken in an era when photographers were advised to stand with the sun behind you which almost always made the subject squint and the photographer’s shadow appear in the photo.  Don’t believe me?..Dig out some ancient photos of the era.
                 Photo taken at our grandparents' farm some 150 miles south east of Perth.

I took some shirts to Bali which were no longer comfortable for me to wear.  I intended to give them to hotel staff and did so to a fellow who serviced my room.  He was very thankfull, and later that evening returned and as I opened the door walked in to my room to thank me again.  He didn't seem to want to leave and when he eventually did leave after a few minutes, I had the  feeling that he was thinking that I was 'one of the Girls'.  

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Last full day in Bali

Penultimate day in Bali and we are ready to go home. Yesterday was not the best day we have spent here.  We travelled to Uluwatu to visit the temple on a cliff over the ocean.  The drive afforded plenty of interesting sights as we travelled through rice fields and minor towns and a couple of rural cities, however when we arrived at Uluwatu the scene was entirely different to when Helen James and I visited over a year ago.  Instead of just a couple of stores and a restaurant, now there are hundreds of stores selling all manner of tacky souvenirs.  What was an interesting site with its own miscreant monkeys is now like a showground fair. 

In the evening we took a cab at the exorbitant price of 20,000Rupiah (about A$2) to a nice restaurant we had previously eaten at.  On my last trip to Bali with daughter Helen and son-in-law James we had a couple of nice meals there.   We sat at a table the waiter took our order and before we had time to do anything our order of Nasi Campur was served.  We should have realised that there was no way that the platter could be arranged with hot portions, condiments and salads in that short time.  They were obviously platters left over from lunch and everything was cold.  We couldn’t finish our serves and I regret that I didn’t at least tell them that it wasn’t their usual standard.

At lunchtime today we are off to Legian to collect Val’s tailored clothes and a pair of lounge-about trousers I am having shortened (as I always have to do when I buy trousers).
The driver will drop us off at Hardy’s on the way back and Val is to have a manicure and I will have the full heavyweight foot massage.

Tomorrow we are being collected at 5pm for a transfer to the airport.  Checkout is mid day and we are paying an extra A$15 to keep Val’s room for us to rest before being driven to the airport.  Arriving in Perth at approx. Midnight and we will cab it to Val’s house where my car is parked.  Looking forward to sleeping in my own bed.

A few random pics.

         Cleaning staff.
                                    Mobile general store
               The big Lobster; once described as a cockroach on steroids
                          Not too many power outlets in our rooms.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Bali scams

A bit more about our hotel at Sanur.    In my room with the aircon working well and a couple of bottles of Bir Bintang on board everything seems good, but everywhere one looks one can see shoddy workmanship and potentially dangerous electrical wiring.  A few examples...
                               Rusty metal cased hair drier
                                Power into my unit
                              Wall outlet hanging from wires only

In a pond near the hotel restaurant there is a fountain made from an aluminium kettle and in the pond are seven very hungry turtles.

When we ventured down to the beachfront at Sanur we visited the last hotel that my wife Joan and I  stayed in some 5 years ago.  The Segara Village Hotel is truly luxurious and if I return I will be booking myself in there for an upmarket holiday. The many beach restaurants in the gentle sea breeze were very attractive and we figured we would eat there one evening.

Today Val and I returned to Hardy’s, our favourite Department store.   It just so happens it is the only Dept. Store in Sanur.  There are dozens of staff wandering around and gathering in small social groups behind merchandise shelves.  They are young people, probably chosen for their looks rather than their ability.  One has to find a staffer who can speak English and keep them with you as you try and find things. Being pleasant goes a long way.  I now know a couple of young ladies who are pleasant and know where things are to be found.  The alternative is to resort to charades or draw a picture of what you are looking for.  I imagine Russian tourists have little chance of finding anyone who speaks Russian.

After making our purchases we adjourned to the tavern next door for a couple of beers  and then waited on a bench at the front of Hardy’s for a taxi to come by.   A young Balinese guy started a conversation and I didn’t realise it was leading up to a scam.  Eventually he claimed that Hardy’s was offering a promotion to advertise a new store opening.  He gave us each a sealed card and invited us to open them.  I had seen similar scams in past visits in which you won a dinner at a large hotel.  What was not mentioned was that you endured a spiel about Time Share.  Cousin Val’s card caused our man to almost scream with delight when she won a chance at ‘the top prize'.   On Val’s card there were three prizes...and when you scratched the magic square she was a cert to win either A$1,000; a week’s accommodation at a top class hotel or at the very least an Apple iPad.  Our man said all we had to do was come with him to his boss’s office close by and the taxi would take us back to our hotel. So we reluctantly got in the cab as we had nothing else to do for the afternoon and it soon became obvious that the ‘Office’ wasn’t close by and he admitted it was in Kuta which at that time of day could be a two-hour trip each way.  We started moaning and he assured us that all we had to do was verify our ID (without any documentation) and tell a white lie that we were not over 70 years of age.  At that we both told him to turn around and take us back to Hardy’s.  He kept telling us that he would miss out on his commission.  No luck mate!  And we were returned to our hotel and he was stuck with a 50,000 Rupia taxi fare.  That is only A$5 but these guys work on commission and he was five bucks down.  Tough!

Later when we were on the beachfront at Sanur I had a haircut and a short, but great head and neck massage for A$5. all up.  Best haircut I have ever experienced.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Bali is still good

Thursday in Bali and we are still getting along fine.  Val and I have never spent so much time together before. We have done the family histories....’remember when you...’ etc etc.  At our age, almost all our recollections are prefaced with ‘I don’t know whether I have told you this before?’   Both of us pretend that we haven’t heard the story before, even when we have.

Yesterday we cabbed it to Legian.  Quite a trip in very heavy traffic with trucks, buses and thousands of motorcycles weaving through larger vehicles.  Some of the bikes carried a family on board.....Dad, mum and kid(s).    No matter how frustrating the congestion was we never saw a single person exhibiting road rage.  We did see a first in all the times I have visited Bali; a minor road accident when a young woman was knocked off her bike by a truck.  She was helped up and was limping, but it didn’t look too serious.  I doubt there is anything like we would experience in Australia...police attendance, statements taken and insurance claims.

Legian is s major low level commercial centre with thousands of roadside stalls selling everything imaginable, from sunglasses to suits with touts for the stalls trying to coax you inside.  Sanur, where we are staying is much less commercial with the tourists here being ‘more mature’ in age.

Whilst we were having a drink in a roadside bar a fellow tried to sell us Australian newspapers.  When that didn’t work he flashed me packets of Viagra and Cialus.  He wouldn’t take no for an answer and continued to demonstrate with a vertical arm how they worked.  It was almost impossible to convince him that neither tablet would be of any use to me. 

Today we are off to our local supermarket to buy items requested by my offspring...knockoff sunglasses, movies etc. Movies sell for A$1 each and you can play them at the shop to verify they are not shot in a movie theatre with a hand-held camera.  I will also have a haircut by a gal who looks like a Bangkok mangirl  (is that the correct term?);  at $4.00 Au.

Lat night instead of heading up to the main drag for dinner we tried out a small restaurant a few metres from our hotel.  Good food at the right price in a nice clean setting!  The menu had a bit of class with one item being 'Gordon Blue'.

Checking my mail last night I found that my friend Joy had sent Tuesday's weather report from home in Perth.   Whilst  Bali doesn't get to 41 celcius, Perth doesn't have the oppressive humidity levels of wet-season Bali.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Day three Bali

Day three in Bali and we have done lots.  Yesterday we went to Kuta to take a look at the big department stores of which the Mata Hari is the largest.  As I recall, the Mata Hari was one large tall building with many departments on different floors. In the last few years it has been rebuilt and all those departments are scattered around the large shopping centre in different locations.  Not sure it is better.    Today we went to Ubud and en-route we took in a Barong & Kris dance.  The whole show took about an hour and the traditional story was updated with a bit of humour inserted for the tourists.  I was impressed with the dance and costumes but would have rather had the Readers Digest Condensed version over half an hour.  The Gamelan orchestra was brilliant and here is a small clip I shot of them playing. Forgive me for including a shot of my feet at the end.
Ouch sorry for the poor quality.  I forgot to take my camera with us and had to borrow cousin Val's little camera to take the Ubud pics and Video.  Sorry for the put-down Val.

In Ubud we dined at the Lotus restaurant.  The food was excellent and the dining area overlooked a large pond and temple.  Everywhere we have eaten the costs have been huge...roughly around 90,000 Rupia for two.   That is about $9. Australian!

This is the hot season here and there are not many Australian tourists about.  We have observed large groups of Dutch, some Germans and Russians; French and Spanish, plus a few languages/nationalities which escape identification.
Tomorrow we are off to Legian where cousin Val hopes to buy some fabrics.  I have ordered a pair of trousers from a small tailor shop near our hotel.  I will also try on some inexpensive trousers at the local supermarket, Hardy’s and get them shortened by the tailor who is making my trousers.

Our hotel is comfortable, but on closer looks it is shoddily built.  We bought the cheap holiday, so we cannot complain. Next time I will pay the extra and go upmarket.

Some pics of the tradesman standards...

We had a very nice snack meal at a tavern near Hardy's Dept store.  It is owned by a Dutch national and has some smart notices on the walls.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Steamy Bali

Well, here we are in Bali.   The hotel certainly isn’t like the web photos, but it is basically OK,   The humidity is very high and we will forgo any walks and instead take taxis everywhere we go.   Within the Sanur area (read oldies side) a taxi to just about anywhere is no more than $2.
We, and me in particular, had a passport/document overload.  In Perth Airport we filled in departure documents with needed birthdates, passport numbers, expiry and all the other stuff which has to be filled in before progressing to the Customs area.  I must look like a terrorist as I was selected for special treatment walking through a metal detector and then a full body X-ray.  I was shown the result of the X-ray  and I explained that the shoulder positives were from titanium screws from a shoulder injury I had. I couldn’t explain the positive in my groin area  and remembered that years ago a friend had called me ‘needle d***. Maybe he was right??    My bags, along with everyone else’s were X-rayed and I was pulled aside and my carry-on bag was again X-rayed.  I lost a small pair of nail scissors, a roll-on deodorant and a small can of foam shaving cream.  The customs bloke apologised when I asked him what I would now remove my nose hair with.
On the plane en route to Denpasar another two documents had to be filled out asking some different questions.  In Denpasar airport we purchased our visa @ US$25  and went through the baggage check again.    I am going to buy a girlie purse to hold my passport and documents to save opening my carry-on case 15 times during the return trip.
Once at the hotel we unpacked in our respective rooms and I found the aircon was not working.  Luckily, because it is the off season, there were plenty of vacant rooms and they let me go try the aircon in several rooms until was satisfied that I was not going to be broiled overnight.  All is well and cousin Val and I are happy with our accommodation.

We had a lovely lunch in a bar and this evening dinner at a familiar restaurant.

I forgot to pack a camera cord and will have to buy one before I can post any photos here.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Life for 'murder'

The law is (or was) an Ass.    A murder case some thirty years ago is being revisited in the hope of quashing a young man’s conviction and jailing for life.  During a house robbery an elderly man suffered bruises and fractured ribs and died from a bleeding stomach ulcer a week later.  The prosecution successfully argued that the stress of the incident caused his ulcer to bleed and the Jury found the young burglar guilty of murder.  Even if the prosecution argument were true, surely he should have been convicted of the lesser charge of manslaughter.  The burglar served seven years with hard labour before being released on parole.
At the trial the State Pathologist gave evidence saying that stress had caused the ulcer to bleed and the Jury took his evidence on board.

His appeal against the conviction has been under way since 2005 and now has the backing of Nobel Prizewinners Marshall and McClusker who maintain that stress is not a factor in bleeding ulcers.  Prof. Marshall and Malcom McCusker won the Nobel with their studies on the causes of stomach ulcers proving that bacteria and not stress causes stomach ulcers.

Surely the conviction must be overturned. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Five days to Bali

Yesterday morning I had a phone call from daughter Helen en route to her workplace. She told me she had left her lunch on the table at home and suggested that I collect it and have it for my lunch.  When I asked her what it was I decided that it was deserved of a drive to her workplace.  I collected it and had a pleasant 30 minute drive to deliver it to its creator. And it was indeed a creation....Thai Beef Salad:  beef marinated with chilli, coriander, soy, garlic, fish sauce and lime juice. The salad was a full on affair too.  

Only five days until we depart for a week in Bali.  Our plane leaves Perth international Airport at 7.50am and we have decided not to park my car in the sun at the long term parking station, but I will drive to cousin Val’s place, park the car and her granddaughter will drive us to the airport.  We can get a cab back to Val’s house upon our return.  Another plan we had considered, was for me to drive to Val’s; park the car and order a cab.  There are many stories about cabs turning up late and we didn’t want that.  Recently the W.A. Taxi Board has placed a $9. fee on ordered cabs to ensure there is incentive for drivers to arrive on time when a cab is pre-ordered.  Still sounded dodgy and the grandaughter chauffeur is the best idea we have had so far.   Hope she doesn’t go partying and forget us early Sunday morning.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Red cars go faster

We all know that red cars go faster.  The colour of a car seems to be very significant to journalists as well as drivers.  I must do some research to see if the colour of a vehicle matches the circumstances.  This is a snippet from a news article is from yesterday’s news online......’The men were in a blue Commodore travelling east on Morley Drive.’  

Tomorrow is Parents’ Relief Day when kids return to school in Western Australia.  Shopkeepers too are greatly relieved at the return of the nuisance shoplifters to their place of education.   Our daughter Helen is back at her previous school in a southern suburb which has a dubious clientele.  I cannot divulge any of the problems she encounters with pupils and parents, but the Education Department acknowledges the problem and pays each teacher a nominal sum of $50.00 per week extra for their efforts in coping in a Hard to Staff School.

Friday, February 1, 2013

A coincidental blast from the past

My friend Dennis has been thinking of upgrading his computer for a few weeks and one came up on a list I belong to: The Western Australian Macintosh Users’ Group. It was advertised to the members by Ronni. I have not met Ronni face to face, but have corresponded with her and read her posts for a number of years. She is one of the group’s Mac Gurus and runs a professional Mac business as well as dispensing clear, precise instructions to members who post their Mac problems on the list. I told her that my friend is interested and she gave me her son-in-law’s address and contact details and yesterday we went to the address to pay up and grab the iMac. When the door was opened, a smiling Nikki welcomed us in. Nikki was a teaching colleague of mine at Willetton SHS and I had not seen her in the 15 years since I retired. Her mum, Ronni mentioned that a Kevin Lock was coming to buy the Mac. She didn’t think it was going to be me, but decided it had to be as mum had informed her that Kevin was a teacher at WSHS. A coincidental blast from the past. Lovely Gal!

 Today I am hosting a get-together of a few of 'we oldies' as mum would say. We all need a bit of cheering up! I have mowed the lawns, cleaned off the magpie poo on the outside furniture and am preparing my kind of food for this afternoon. It is quite hot outside (31˚C/ 83˚F) and so it will be inside in air conditioning. Another good reason to move inside is that blowflies can smell tacos from 300 metres away.