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.