Monday, June 23, 2014

Pencils and palm trees

The suburb I live in has more than a smattering of Pencil Pines and palm trees.   I have one Pencil Pine (Pinus 2H-HB) and it is soon to go.  It is too close to the house roof.  

I am unsure who determined that pencils and pines should be planted in front yards, but there are not many houses that don’t have one or the other.  My daughter has one and hates it with a passion.

Brother Graham turned 65 on Saturday and yesterday I collected him and we had a good evening with a few beers and lots of laughs.  I had thought that he was now eligible to get state government discounts on most government charges, but unfortunately eligibility relies on working less that 25 hours a week.  Bad luck Gray.

Had a call from a welfare person who through my sister-in-law Dorothy, was after a computer and printer for a disabled woman who recently lost her home to a house fire.  Both of them arrived and decided on a Windows PC I had refurbished.  They also looked at an elderly Mac laptop and the welfare person took that to give her disabled daughter.  The client had a small car packed with all the belongings she had left after the fire was extinguished.  She is hoping that she had paid her annual house insurance.  I also gave her a few kitchen items such as a toaster and electric jug.

Here is a link to the news story which may not work outside Australia.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Back into homebrewing

This morning I drove North of Perth city to buy a homebrew kit.  Its previous owner constructed a very clever brew station with the fermenter contained in a timber box with a thermostat controlling a heating light to keep the brew at a constant temperature.  It also came with a bottle capper, all the chemicals (apart from the actual wort) and 10.5 kilograms of bottle caps; very ambitious!  I paid $50 for the whole lot and after sterilising it will ‘put down’ a brew tomorrow.

Click photos to enlarge.

I have brewed plenty of beer over the years without much success, but I will give it another run brewing stout.  If not successful, or I get tired of the brewing business, I can on-sell it again.  Other secondhand brew kits in Gumtree sold for much more and were just basic kits.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Sean McKibben is 50

Saturday evening I attended a 50th birthday party for an ex-student of mine.  Sean and his two kids came home to Western Australia from NSW for the birthday bash at his mother’s home.    It was a big show and I met a few other students who claimed that I had taught them back in the 1980s.  I have to believe them, but admit that I don’t remember them specifically.  Not really surprising as I reckon I have taught a few thousand students over the 36 years I was in the education business.  
I was the first to leave the party as I had consumed two stubbies of lite (2.6% alcohol) beers and I tested myself on my breathalyser and I was .02 and right to drive.  In Western Australia .05 is driving under the influence and .08 is drink driving.  In this state Booze Buses operate randomly day and night.  The bus blocks off roads and there are lots of blue lights flashing, cops cars and motorcycles to catch drivers who think they can drive off when the see the trap.    Fortunately the times I have had to blow in the bag I  had not been drinking.

Sean is staying over at my place tonight and I imagine we will have a few beers and lots to talk about.

Daughter Helen and husband James have almost finished their backyard ‘installation’.  Their elevated platform and spa is surrounded by low limestone walls and lots of new plants.  Looks great!

Click photos to enlarge them

A friend, Joy gave a nice present in the form of a centenary edition of the state Civil Service Journal.  A centenary issue of the Association celebrating 100 years in July 1929.  Some wonderful stuff inside 113 pages of W.A. history....from history.  I will read some of the articles and post any interesting stuff on this blog.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Daylight Robbery

Daughter Helen bought a set of printer cartridges for her Canon all-in-one.  I was shocked when she told me the set cost A$124.00.  I had already ordered a full set for her printer from Hong Kong through eBay for a total cost of A$18.80 postage paid and delivered to the front door.  They should arrive next week.

The manufacturers of printers warn buyers that using non original cartridges voids any warranty.   I have been using after-market cartridges and never had any problems with them over 10 years and probably a hundred cartridges.   

The general public is bombarded by false claims for thousands of products.  At the moment there is an investigation into over-the-counter pharmaceuticals.   Various claims are made that certain pain killers can target head, back or muscle pain but when one reads the packet both contain exactly the same ingredients. I won’t start on vitamins, hair restoration etc etc.

I seem to have a series of coincidences happen to me. Mid week I watched a repeat of The Big Bang Theory where Howard (Wolowitz) was in the space station on a mission.  (How did they film him floating around the cabin????)    Early the next morning I woke around 5am and turned the bedside radio on and the announcer told us that if we went outside right now we could see the space station pass overhead....and there it was!  

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

'Free' TV

Today I had a visit today from a young welfare gal with her client to collect a computer.  They had arranged to be here around 4.15pm but obviously not considered the 3.30-5.30pm traffic chaos on the freeway.  They arrived around 4.45 and I showed them a selection of two computers, a Windows PC  and a Mac.  I was hoping she would want the PC as the welfare gal is a PC person and could assist her if necessary.

She was impressed with the PC which is reasonably fast and I had loaded Windows 7 on it.    But when she saw the Mac she decided that that was what she wanted.  The visit was pleasant and we had tea and coffee and I did a quick operating course on the Mac and we loaded it into the car and they were off.    I felt good about this one.  The recipient is a young lady from Liberia.

Watched a bit of TV this evening.  It is called Free TV which aint quite true as one has to watch inane advertising which really gives me the  sh**Ts.  I am not going to go for cable TV, but I wish that TV ads weren’t so repetitive.   Why can they not make several versions of the same ad?    I guess it must be just me but I don’t remember what the ads are selling.  They certainly don’t make me want to buy the product.

The other promotional ads for upcoming TV programs like Australia’s/ Egypt’s/ South Africa’s/Britain’s etc etc ‘most talented’ make me flip channels when they appear.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Rotary Bowelscan

I have just completed the Rotary Australia bowel scan.  It is a nation-wide yearly project which costs just A$12.  My father died of bowel cancer and my dear wife Joan also died  from metastatic cancer from a bowel cancer. Joan’s father also had a bowel cancer, so our family; me, Helen and Martin are in a risk zone.

The test has strict guidelines for self collection of faecal samples.   Helen and I have already done the test and Martin is starting it today.

A negative result does not necessarily mean one is free of bowel cancer as not all bowel cancers bleed.  Still worth doing though.

This year's test kit is a refined one with no dietary restrictions.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The restoration of Adolf Knable

I have spent a couple hours restoring a photograph of our friend Wendy’s uncle.  

I recently wrote about the discovery of a number of WW1 Australian soldiers buried in a mass grave in Fromelles in France.   

The original photo of her uncle was somewhat scratched and it took a bit of fiddling for me to use my not too great Photoshop skills to bring it back to original for the memorial in July.  Wendy is going to Britain and on to Fromelles for the dedication ceremony and placing of a headstone.

A before and after.......

Friday, June 6, 2014

Getting too old for computer problems

The young physically disabled woman I had helped by giving her a computer, printer etc is still on my case.  She has called me another four times since I thought we had everything running smoothly.   One of the items she asked me for was a powered USB hub.  I found one set it up and had hoped that that would be the last call out I would get from such luck!  
She has made several phone calls over recent days telling me that things don’t work.  Some of the things she is trying to do require a later model Mac than I have given her, so there is no easy fix.  One is to delete songs on her iPad which apparently requires iTunes 11.2 which her Mac cannot load because it doesn’t have an Intel processor.  I suggested if she just wants to delete some songs she could seek out one of her friends to visit with his/her laptop and use that machine.

Today’s call was a complaint that she could not shut down the Mac and when I arrived I could see that she connected a number of things to the old USB hub.....iPhone, iPad, iPod, keyboard and a USB memory stick with all her work on it.  I removed the USB memory stick and everything is OK.  Must be something on the stick that the Mac doesn’t like.  I didn’t want to look into the flash drive as that may create more work for me.

She lives in very smart government housing.  Usually these arrangements by this state government are in group housing, but somehow she has a modern house all to herself.  Her house is only about 4 kilometres from mine, but I am hoping she won’t call again.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Tom Waits

This afternoon I was playing some Tom Waits in my car.  I went to a Tom Waits concert in Perth some  25  years ago.

 It was  great and fully booked.  The stage featured the front end of a white Cadillac and a New York style lamp post, a microphone stand and a heavy smoking Tom with a tumbler of whiskey.  The audience loved him.

I haven’t heard much of him on radio of recent years and the rumour-mill has it that he has lost his voice.  It could be argued that is natural progression as he was a  chain smoking drinker....probably helped by other substances for many years.

Driving today I listened to several Wait’s (Tom’s) tracks and realised that my favourite track is Kentucky Avenue.  As I understand it, it is perhaps a moving eulogy to a friend...quite likely imagined, who is crippled.

Listen to Kentucky avenue here on YouTube.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Alfa vs Delorian

I have just been watching a TV programme trumpeting British engineering achievements.  One of them was the Delorian car, a beautiful car which in the end didn’t make it in the marketplace.

  Made me think of the current advertising for Alfa Romeo cars here in Australia which has a line ‘it’s not  a car, it’s an Alfa Romeo’.    The Alfa depicted in the ads has all the beauty of a pregnant Wombat.  I guess it sells to the 'elite' because it is ‘different’.