Friday, November 28, 2014

45 +75 = 120

It's birthday time here.  Daughter Helen's today and mine tomorrow.  Helen is having a combined party for both of us tomorrow.

The photo below was taken by my father when I was about to depart for a second round of teaching in Papua New Guinea in January 1970.  Joan and Helen joined me when I had accommodation sorted out and had built a bedroom on to the one- roomed 'donga' I was allocated at Bainyik in the East Sepik District of PNG.  The six years we worked and lived in PNG in that second round were most rewarding.... me as manager of a vocational centre and Joan teaching high school and in the last two years joining my staff at Popondetta Vocational Centre which catered for males and females.



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A break-in

I was out visiting yesterday afternoon when daughter Helen rang.  I hadn’t taken my iPhone with me which may have been fortuitous, as Helen was ringing to tell me that the security company rang her with a message saying her house alarm was going off.   I have driven the 400metres to her place on a couple of previous alarm alerts and re-set the system after a false alarm.

This time however, it was a real break in.  A side window was levered out and the villain gained access and stole just jewellery at an estimated $3,000 including a few sentimental pieces given to Helen by Joan, my late wife and Helen’s mother.   This morning forensic police officers visited to try and take fingerprints, but gloves were worn.  They told Helen and James that three other houses in this estate were also done over yesterday afternoon.

Laptop, desktop computers, iPod and other valuable gear was not touched and there was not the usual vandalism often perpetrated by youth.  Obviously a pro who could conceal his loot in his pockets.

Talking to Helen this morning I told her that it could have been a bit nasty if I blundered into the house thinking it was just a false alarm.


Helen and James have adequate house and contents insurance and she is out now getting some of the pieces valued from photographs and online catalogues.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Sexing Papaya

Oh dear me....some people will believe anything.   I have an acquaintance who believes one can determine the sex of an unborn baby using a piece of string with a wedding ring attached to dangle over the pre-birth tummy and noting whether the ring circles over the babe or goes North and South.  I can’t remember which is male or female, but it has got to be right 50% of the time.  

The topic came up during a recent gathering when one of the group said that he has had trouble with his pawpaws (Papaya).  Papaws need male and female palms to germinate fruit and he didn’t know how to determine the sex of a pawpaw.  My acquaintance  suggested the ring and string method. Duh!

Another puzzler...What if the hockey pokey really is what it’s all about?


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Discovering ANZACS internet site

A friend, Dennis, told me of a site named Discovering Anzacs which has service and other details about Australians at war.....http://discoveringanzacs.naa.gov.au/

  I went to the search panel and typed in my grandfather’s name and although there were a number of Maurice Lees listed, his was the first to show up.  He enlisted with his brother to go to the Boer War in South Africa in 1902.   His enlistment document shows his personal details including his age, which he told them was 20 years of age.   He was not actually 18 at the time and he and his brother, both underage were returned to Australia.  They both returned to the fray after hitting the age of 18.  

I have his original enlistment document and discharge document where it shows he received a five pound gratuity for his service.  Doesn’t sound much, but in the early 1900s it was probably worth about $400 Australian in today’s money.

Grandad's entry can be found here.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Gope Board (Hohao)

In 1963 I was HT at Arehava PS in the Gulf of Papua.   I asked a carver to carve me a traditional Gope Board.   The fellow who carved it had lost a leg and I thought it must have been a crocodile that took it, but he told me he had an infection and eventually had the leg amputated.   I  imagine he was transported to the district HQ of Kerema where there was a hospital of sorts.


When I was on leave in Australia that year I gave the Gope Board to friends Margaret and Haddon.  Later when I returned to W.A. I borrowed back the original and made a copy.  Margaret and Haddon later gave me back the Gope Board and so now I have two.  The copy lives outside on a wall the other original is inside out of the weather.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Can You Help


A few weeks ago I contacted The West Australia, our daily newspaper.  They run a 'Can You Help' page in the Monday edition.


Some 25 years ago, I had collected some photos of a WW1 soldier and thought I might find out who he was by using the can you help column.  The person who manages that column, Jenny, thought it was a long shot as there was no surname just the name Frank.

This morning about 6.30am I received a phone call from a relative of Frank telling me that he has all his records and details of service.   It will be interesting to meet with him and find out more of Frank.  There might be something significant worth writing about.  Click the photo to enlarge.





Sunday, November 9, 2014

Busy Bee

Yesterday was designated a Busy Bee day for all the owners of units in the block I am housing my son.  I have attended every one of these things over the years and it usually turns out to have a turnup crowd of three or four.  This time there were only two of us there to do gardening  and general cleanup that the regular gardener never does.
There are 18 units in this block and for just 2 owners to turn up is very poor.  Instead of doing gardening, we, as well as my son, repaired the rear metal fence which is regularly kicked in or out, depending whether villains want to get in to thieve and vandalise or to make a gateway for tenants to take a short cut to the town centre.



We know that this is just another temporary repair but hope the several dozen metal screws with which we secured the steel sheeting will cause them some problems when they next kick it in/out.


Once we finished the fence repair we declared it all done and departed.  I would rather have every owner pay $50 and a professional job done but unfortunately the collection of those subs would not be easy.

BTW Australians speak English and although we have no real distinguishing accents, each state has different terms for some items.   A Busy Bee is a volunteering work party at no payment at least in Western Australia.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Melbourne Cup

Two horses died immediately after competing in this year’s Melbourne Cup.
One horse was spooked by a flag waving child and broke a leg when it kicked a fence.  
Another horse, Admire Rakti, a champion Japanese horse favoured to win, struggled during the race and died in its stable immediately after the race.   An autopsy revealed that Rakti had died from a heart attack.

In the 1930s a champion Australian racehorse, Phar Lap, died on a visit to the U.S..  Rumours at the time had the Americans poisoning Phar Lap.  I remember my grandfather telling me about how the yanks had killed our Phar Lap.   Other stories had gangsters involved in the death of Phar Lap to protect their illegal betting shops.

Phar Lap was inspirational for most Australians struggling through the depression years of the ‘30s.  Googling Phar Lap gives 443,000 results .


A 1983 movie tells the Phar Lap story


Will there be a conspiracy theory about the death of Admire Rakti?

Monday, November 3, 2014

WWW instructional videos

The WWW has become an educational treasure trove.    I have found a number of youtube instructional videos.  ifixit is a site with detailed instructions to fix just about any item from kettles to iPads.


Couple of examples of other instructional videos.  One here by a father to his children...click here


                                 And try this one as well....

video