Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Book Thief

Went to the cinema this morning with Margaret and Joy.  We saw The Book Thief.  All three of us had read the book and we all enjoyed the movie. 5/5 from me. 

Not sure if it absolutely mirrored the book and I will re-read the book to compare.  Second thought....I liked the book and I liked the movie and don’t want to be disappointed with either, so, I won’t re-read the book just yet.

I have read a few reviews of the movie and there are the usual critics who pan it. I guess you wouldn’t keep your job as a critic unless you panned the odd movie or play.   Mel Brooks did a good job on critics in History of the World Part 1.

Daughter Helen had some good news today.  She was to start the school year teaching two different levels in two different classrooms.  It seems that the school has had many more kindy and grade ones enrol and she can now have the one class for the year.  One teaching program rather that two.  She is pretty happy this evening.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Fasting for Draculina

I have just returned from having some blood taken for pathology tests.   The collection centre which is near our house, opens at 8.30am and when I arrived at 8.15 there were already four people waiting outside the door.  We are the early risers and fasters and as the door opened there was a bit of ‘were you in before me?’ as the queue tickets were taken.  I was to be 4th in and I took a magazine so that I didn’t have to search through the heap of old womens’ magazines for something that wasn’t about Brad or Angelina.  By the time I was taken in to Draculina, there were about ten people waiting with churning stomachs.

My turn took no time at all and as I exited the rooms asked the assembled for advice about whether I should have a bacon and eggs breakfast or just cereal.  Mutters and just a couple of laughs.

Daughter Helen starts back at work tomorrow. She is there today for staff meetings  etc.    The kids return to school tomorrow.  Strike that, reverse it (Willy Wonka). The kids start school next Monday.

 At the end of the 2013 year she was offered a three days a week contract, and fortunately in the last ten days of the holidays, she was offered another two days making up the full week.   She is not Permanent and is at a ‘hard to staff school’.   Being in the Western Australian public school system, that is one of several ways to get permanency....spend a year full time at hard to staff school.     She has completed three terms and now only needs to finish first term 2014 to get full permanency.    Had she not got the full week’s work she would have been granted permanency for only three days.  Crazy stuff!

Permanency means that you are assured a full time job without worrying if you are going to get paid employment every term and year.   It doesn’t mean that Helen will not be transferred to another public school some distance from her home next year.  

Monday, January 27, 2014

Triple J

Yesterday, Australia Day, I was invited to Helen and James’ place for what I thought was an Australia Day party.  
There were five guests and we had a splendid BBQ lunch with Helen’s wonderful salads.

Instead of the usual background music, the radio was tuned to Triple J, the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s Youth Channel.  Everyone except me was discussing the merits of songs and artists being played and where they would end up in the final countdown to the best artist of 2013. 
   Apparently all over Australia and indeed the world, people were voting on their choice.  Every time I introduced a topic into the conversation it fell flat.  I had no idea that this was just one of 5,000+ listening parties across the nation.

Triple J says that 173,658 people voted from 169 countries.  
The winner....Vance Joy beat Kiwi star Lorde to top Triple J’s ‘hottest 100 for 2013’.

Not very perceptive Kev!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Pub crawl in Fremantle

This morning I drove to Margaret’s house to collect some tadpoles.  They will metamorphose into Motorbike FrogsI gave them to my daughter Helen who has put them into a very large pot housing a water plant.   We have had motorbike frogs before and they can be a bit annoying sometimes as they sound like local kids on unlicenced motorcycles racing through bush and parks.  Their real name is Annoyingus.youthos.w.a.    Just kidding, they are really Litoria moorei.   See here.

Yesterday Helen and James invited me into Fremantle for lunch and a few drinks at three (or was it four) hotels.  First stop was the National Hotel recently opened after a lengthy renovation.  Lovely building and fine verandahs to look down on the peasants from.  
                                    The National during a major renovation

We ate there and it was  cheap, but a bit ho-hum.  I rarely drink at a hotel or bar and I was a bit shocked at the prices of three pints of ale....$36!   That is just short of a carton at the bottle shop.  Let’s each way to and from Fremantle around $60,  food and drinks?   Not for the unemployed!  We ended up having two meals; the second one at Sandrinos was a seafood platter.  I pulled up OK this morning.

Monday, January 20, 2014

I hate dementia

I had a busy day today, however I made time to visit Murray in his nursing home.  I have known Murray for many years, but we have not been close. We were in the Rover Scouts some fifty six years ago.
We, the surviving members of that group, have occasional get-togethers and unfortunately Murray is no longer able to attend those infrequent gatherings. He has dementia and doesn’t know who he is or who I was today.   The nursing home he is in is a very nice place with caring staff.  When I visited him today, he didn’t recognise me or what I was saying.  He made many attempts at starting a conversation, but couldn’t get past the first few words.  His companions were all in special chairs and not watching the large screen television they were arranged in front of.  Next to Murray was a woman in her eighties nursing a celuloid doll.  She kept talking to Murray in what was probably the Croation language and he looked earnestly at her as if understanding what she was saying.

I have experienced similar before with a couple of close friends and I hate it.   

Murray looks fit and quite young.  Dementia has stolen his very being.

My dear wife Joan died almost three years ago with all her faculties intact. I have wondered if dementia might have spared her the knowledge of what was happening to her.  I am glad that she knew we were with her at the end.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Days of old

Hands up if you have received an email outlining the wonderful things about the 1950s?           You didn’t really have to put your hand up.

Yesterday I tested the premise that it was a much safer time back then by leaving my garage door up and the car unlocked as well as not locking the door into the house from the garage....nothing was stolen, damaged or broken into.  Of course it wasn’t a planned just happened because I fell asleep in a lounge chair early in the evening.

The suburb our house is in, is reasonably safe. It goes without saying that the more expensive the area is to buy into, the less problems one seems to have.  Living in a cul de sac also affords a bit of security.  Living near a laneway or a block of units is a bit of a worry.   Our suburb, Bibra Lake ..St Paul’s Estate, (St Paul doesn’t live here anymore), doesn’t have any blocks of units.   Nuff said!

Friday, January 17, 2014

An installation

Today I installed two computers at a house in a southern suburb of Perth.  One was an old iMac set up to play educational games I had copied to disks (oops...shish!) and the other was a Mac laptop donated by a friend a couple of days previously. I also gave them an HP all-in-one printer, scanner, copier.

The family was a single mum and four kids....three in primary school and one girl about to commence high school this year.  The young lady got the laptop and the boys have to organise a schedule to use the educational games Mac. The three of them are a ‘handful’ and I expect that there will be some arguments about the use of the old iMac.   I did however load some non-educational games onto the iMac and that should keep them happy for a while.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the girl who got the laptop was a Mac user.  Her  father has the exact same model Mac laptop I gave her and she needs little backup to use it.   In the short time I was in their house she had loaded a music CD onto iTunes and was playing it.  

I took a photo of the kids.  The boys are typical funny of them can slide his eyelid down and hold it in a dozy look for a photo.

                                       I felt good about this installation*

* arty word for an art exhibit constructed within a gallery

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Youth Club

I have readied six PCs for a local Police & Community Youth Centre.

.  These centres are aimed at giving youth a place to meet with suitable activities to occupy their time.  The computers will be used for job applications and general research.
The computers come from the West Australian, this city’s only daily newspaper.  For a number of years I have sourced many good Macs there, refurbished them and passed them on to needy people.  This is the first time I have received PCs and I asked for PCs because the volunteers at the centre are familiar with PCs.

The PCs came with hard drives wiped clean and no original operating system install disks.  I loaded up a legacy copy of an operating system.  Next came the search online for the drivers for the mouse, keyboard, video, sound etc etc.  These drivers must match the brand of computer and the exact model.   With the help of a friend who teaches IT we eventually tracked down the drivers and installed them.  Then comes the add-ons such as a DVD/CD read/burn program and Video player.

It is all finished and awaiting collection tomorrow.  At 74, I won’t be doing that again.  I’ll stick to what I know....Macs.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Pastel Wrasse

Daughter Helen and husband James have a large saltwater indoor fish tank.  One of the larger fish, a Pastel Wrasse, has determined that he/she is going to be the boss of the tank.  Wrassey has already killed 7 other fish and is determined to knock off the remaining Yellow Hooded Goby.  The Goby has a safe retreat too small for the Wrass to get into and so far, is a survivor.  Although the Wrasse is acting like a White Pointer, Helen and James still like it and will probably get another smaller tank for it.   Maybe the Wrasse will look over at the large tank and see Mr Goby happily swimming free?

Click on the photos to enlarge them.

Pastel Wrasse

                                                         Cautious Goby

                                     Wrasse patrol past Mr Goby's hideout

The Goby is a sand-sifter and it can be seen drawing in sand and straining it for food before blowing the residue out through its gills.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Cortisone injection

Yesterday our son Martin had an X-ray directed injection of cortisone into one side of his hips.  For some reason the other side will be done in another week.

He has had around a month of severe pain causing a lack of sleep and shades of the black dog.   In the morning of the procedure he expressed concern that there was a real possibility that he would experience serious side effects and several people he knows who have had the same procedure suggested that it did no good whatsoever.

I urged him to go ahead with the procedure and pointed out several friends who have had good results.  I dropped him off at the medical centre and when I collected him he was quite unhappy about the whole thing.  By the time we arrived at his unit he was feeling good and this morning he is amazed at the results.   He is looking forward to the second treatment next week.

The medical centre bulk-bills patients and the procedure cost him/me nothing.  Australia does have a very good medicare system.   The federal government is thinking about charging a $5 upfront fee for all bulk-billing practitioners.  We can handle that!
                                                             click to enlarge

                         A scan of the X-rays.  The straight lines are the needles.

Friday, January 3, 2014

New Year's Eve

2014.  My NY resolution is to get fit again.    We’ll see.

My garden fly trap is working well.  Flies seem to be very smart creatures.  They are hard to swat and know when you are distracted by carrying something in both hands to attempt a inner-nose landing.
  The putrid smell of a fly trap however, causes them to lose all sense of caution.  Flies walk around the holes in the lid of my trap and must think that they will be able to go in and get out even though their mates are dead by the hundreds inside.

A group of friends gathered at my place to see in the New Year at Sydney time.  None of us felt like waiting for midnight W.A. time.  It was a good evening and we were not bothered by flies or mosquitoes.  I had fogged the greenery for resident mosquitoes and the fly trap must had decimated the local fly population. Flies are not really a problem after dusk.