Thursday, December 29, 2016

Aunty Violet has passed

My aunt Violet died peacefully on Christmas Day at age 100.  She was my father’s sister.  As far as I know, she did not smoke, drink or swear during her long life.   Don't think I'll reach 100.

She is in centre of this photo I took of her extended family on her 100th birthday celebration party.
Click to enlarge

Saturday, December 24, 2016

My New Year's resolution

My New Year’s resolution is to have a chuck-out of old computer gear.

I have been reluctant to toss out hundreds of RAM (random access memory) sticks up until this date because I have been working on a little project which will have a huge bank of these sticks with a wireless connection to what is left of the memory of my brain.   Could work!?

Click images to enlarge

RAM sticks
At present I have 17 computers to give to needy people and I guess most will
go when school starts again.

Hard drives etc etc.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Bringing the voices back

Our son Martin has been working on the cassette tape transfer for a few hours so far.  It would seem that my late wife Joan was further away from the microphone than I was and her voice is there, but very low.  Martin is separating the sound tracks and going to even out the levels and then record the whole tape and transfer it to CD.  

The tape is at least 42 years old and during the current process, has snapped several times near the take up spool.  A fiddly job to re-attach the tape end each time, but Martin’s hands are a lot less shaky than mine and he easily does the job.

Should be completed this weekend.

click the image to enlarge it

Friday, December 2, 2016

Voices from the past

Last week a good friend, Dennis, found a cassette tape sent by my wife Joan and I, just 42 years ago.  It was an update on our time teaching in Papua New Guinea.  We both talked about our work and adventures in PNG and about our kids.  The kids had a few words to say also.  I have been able to hear a few minutes of the tape on a scratchy old player.   I decided to do a conversion from cassette tape to CD with help from our son Martin.  The specific computer Martin has set up for this conversion suddenly decided that it should die.  I managed to borrow an exact brand and model and transfer the hard drive to the borrowed machine.  Martin will use a program named Audacity to clean up noise and transfer the data to CD.     The borrowed computer and the dead one are both Windows machines of the same model IBM Lenovo.  I was very lucky to borrow it from a friend who is an IT teacher at a large senior high school.  
Had I not found the exact model there would have been a bit of work sourcing drivers for sound, video, mouse etc etc; as there are so many manufacturers of PCs which use different drivers.  Apple, being the sole manufacturer of Apple computers have very few problems with drivers etc.

Tomorrow Martin will visit and will make about 6 CDs.  Lets hope there is nothing too embarrassing on the tape.

I imagine that hearing my late wife Joan talking will be difficult.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Blast from the past

A few weeks ago I found a gift given to me by one of my students going back some 50 years ago.  Herby VanDongen was a pleasant lad and his father made these cuff links which Herby gave me.  I must confess that I have never owned a shirt which used cuff links and I’m guessing that most people these days would not know what cuff links are/were used for.
I thought I would look up Herby and find out what he has been doing over the past 50 years.  I found Herby in the White Pages and gave him a call.   He is a successful business owner running an agricultural machinery business.  I am going to visit his business this Friday.

Click to enlarge

The coins used in the cuff links are a Sixpence and a Threepence.  In the days of non- decimal currency, such coins had names.  The sixpence was called a Zac and the threepence (thrupence) was called a Tray.  

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Goodbye Brian

My nephew Brian was aged 42 when he suddenly decided to take his own life in the backyard of his home in Mandurah.  His mother, Dorothy was visiting her daughter and husband in San Francisco when she heard the news. Dorothy, Katherine and Rick immediately flew back to Western Australia. The funeral service and wake was held last Wednesday.  It was a large funeral with Brian’s friends and relatives and Dorothy’s friends attending.   I am unsure about the background to this tragic event.  Brian’s wife Lilli, will be facing a difficult time.  

Click images to enlarge

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Edison Phonograph 1911 model

I met my dear wife Joan in 1965 when I was posted to Bridgetown High School in the state’s south west. Joan was also on staff at BHS.  We were married in January 1966 and had 46 great years together.
Whilst sharing a house with two other male teachers in Bridgetown I found bits of what turned out to be an Edison Phonograph.  I realised that there were cosmetic parts missing and spent several months in my spare time rebuilding it and making missing parts.

I found a single, cylinder record and it was played regularly as a test for some of the repairs.   On completion of the project a student told me that his grandfather had some records and that I was welcome to them.  The lad brought in a large box containing 110 records in good condition.  I thanked his grandfather and still have the phonograph and the records. 

Click to enlarge

A bit like me...old but still working

Friday, November 4, 2016

My dear Gay brother

I have just watched a 450th (?) re-run of a MASH episode about a gay soldier in the MASH unit.  It was quite emotional for me as my (our) brother was gay and lived a double life for quite few years before he came out.  His siblings, me, my sister and younger brother, all loved Robert.  He and we, knew he was different from an early age and I guess our parents also knew, but never acknowledged it because it certainly wasn’t kosher to do that back then.
Robert, joined the airforce and did a cooks course in NSW.  He graduated and after working at restaurants in NSW, applied for and won a posting as the chef for the Governor of New South Wales, Sir Rodan Cutler.  He worked there at Government House for a few years before moving to the United States, where he was for some time the chef at the oldest restaurant in the U.S., Fraunces Tavern in NY.

We visited Fraunces Tavern in 1990. Beautiful!

My brother died in our family lounge room surrounded by family and two friends from NY.  

I am sorry that some people will not understand this story.

Chicken Pox??

Our daughter Helen is off work due to a serious rash on her upper body and arms.  She went to her GP and he was unsure whether it is Chicken Pox or just some allergy.  Helen has had Chicken Pox before, but it is possible to contract it a second time.   Her pre-primary class has had seven kids away from class and she is unsure whether her rash is anything associated with something that is ‘going round’.    Vaccination is a problem with some parents and Helen would hate to be in the situation of spreading a potentially dangerous disease such as CP.   She will see what things look like at the start of next week before returning to work.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

A bit too gaudy for me.

My daughter Helen and husband James recently visited France and Spain.  Looking at one of Helen’s photographs I was told the building pictured was designed by Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi.  He was a celebrated architect in his time for his theme park like buildings and colours.  See some of his work here.

click to enlarge

Monday, October 31, 2016

Teacher goes back to school

I have completed a small project for our daughter Helen at her school.  Helen teaches Pre-Primary and loves it.  A recent acquisition in the pre-primary area was a small one room ‘house’.  Her pupils enjoy practising house and Helen thought I could erect a clothes hanging line.  I bought some steel tubing and timber and clothes line.   The school has some quick setting concrete so our son Martin and I set a post in the ground and strung the clothes line and attached it to the wooden building.  Looks good.

Helen and her teacher’s aide, Lyndy, have an excellent working relationship and much of the improvements in the pre-primary area of the school are because of their efforts.
click to enlarge

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The good old times??

Yesterday I was reflecting on my 76 years  and some of the technological advances I can recall occurring  during my lifetime.

Ball point pens
gears on bicycles
mobile phones
digital cameras
credit cards 
aerosol paint 
GPS..................etc etc
Of course there are many thousands more.  Make your own list.

Within our Friday gatherings of friends, I often hear the comment that it was a better time back then.  Hmn??     One backwards step in innovation, was the plastic toothpaste tube. The original toothpaste tube was made of a lead/tin alloy which allowed you to fold up the tube as the contents were used.  It worked.  The plastic tube makes it very difficult to get the last three or so tooth cleanings without giving in and getting over the 1950s hangup of getting every last bit of paste out of the tube.  
The tin/lead tubes are still used for things like oil paints.

Get over it Kev!!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Oldies meet weekly

I am part of a small group of friends who go back many years.   There are seven of us left including two widows and me, a widower.   We meet weekly on a Friday for several hours of laughs. stories and reminiscences, mixed with good food, wine and genuine friendship.

Yesterday we were talking about dancing and it reminded me of my first experience at learning to dance.  It happened when I was about 12 years of age and visiting my grandparents’ farm 130 miles from our house near Fremantle, Western Australia.    I was taken to a dance in a hall near a small railway siding where I watched, mainly women, dancing the progressive Barn Dance.  Most of the men were outside the hall standing around a beer keg proceeding to get ’sozzled’ as it was called back then.  One very large woman grabbed me and joined the dance circle.  My face was held tight between her large breasts; my feet not even reaching the floor and I was spun around causing me to hold on tight; so tight that I pricked my palm on an open safety pin holding some part of her dress together.
I must have whimpered, because she let me go and I bolted for the relative safety of the mob around the Keg outside.  It took me some years before I did learn to dance.

From the rear, Carole and Dennis, 
Joy, Margaret, Wendy and me and in front sitting, Wendy’s husband Ralph.

Click on the photo to enlarge.....Pic taken using the Meryl Streep filter to smooth out facial lines.

Monday, October 10, 2016


I have just finished reading a book by Elie Wiesel titled ‘Night’.  There are just 120 pages in this horror story of Elie and his family transported to Auschwitz Birkenau concentration camp.  It is a personal witness statement of the horrors of the Holocaust.  It won the Nobel Peace Prize and should be a text for all high school students.
click image to enlarge

Monday, October 3, 2016

Broad Beans

My front garden not only hosts roses, but seasonal vegetables such as the present planting of Broad Beans.  It is probably about three weeks before I can harvest the beans.

I love broad beans and there are going to be lots to eat all at once.  Have to give lots away to family and friends.
Click photo to enlarge

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


Helen and James; my daughter and her husband, are nearing the end of one month’s holiday in France and Spain.  Helen emailed me a couple of days ago with details of a great day they had.  She also told me that she had lost her camera somewhere and was to go to a nearby Police Station to get conformation that she had reported the loss for insurance purposes.   They didn’t expect that anyone would hand in a digital camera and were very surprised that someone had actually handed it in to the Police.

'Oh….by the way I found my camera after making a police report…..interestingly they just opened up some drawers and asked if any of the numerous cameras/glasses were mine before asking for ID or asking what model/make etc I had lost.  They even had bags with drivers licences attached to the front with elastic bands (with nationalities and addresses clearly on display) These were behind glass cupboards (not locked) and on view for everyone to see.  I don’t think they bother to send these items back to their owners. Amazingly they also had loads of lost umbrellas????'

They are impressed with Spain; the friendly people, great inexpensive dining and  the beauty of each place they visited.  

My son Martin found a new iPhone 7 in a gutter a few days ago.  As he picked it up it rang and a girl demanded he bring it to her.  He started out to the address and she phoned to direct him to another address quite some distance from his unit.  Eventually he arrived and the girl, about 14 years of age, snatched it off him and ran off without even thanking him.  Somewhat different to Helen's experience in Spain.

As Willy Wonka said..'Strike that, reverse it'.

Oops, I misread Helen’s email.   It seems that she found her camera in the car after reporting it lost.  My error was when I read that she was shown a selection of cameras handed in to the Police Station to see if hers was amongst them, I assumed that she had found her camera there.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Bye bye palms

Yesterday the tree loppers went to work at my rental unit.  There were three palms to come down and I was impressed with the professional  job they carried out.  I watched the last one to  be dropped.  It was about 35+ feet tall.  The method they used was to throw a weighted long rope over the crown of the palm and tie it off above where they were to make the cut.  One fellow walked out with the rope to where they wanted it to fall.   The chainsaw man made a V cut at the front of the trunk and as he slowly cut into that from the back of the palm the rope man pulled it toward himself.    Perfect landing!

Click images to enlarge
Oi, that's my car.

Today when I went back, the palms are gone and the stumps ground out.

All gone

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Nephew visits old uncle

The last couple of days I have had my nephew Bruce staying over at my place.  Bruce has been visiting his family in Esperance on a short visit from his home in The Hamptons in NY.  We, Kev, Bruce and my Bro Graham, had two evenings with quite a few drinks and lots of laughs.  Yesterday we went into Fremantle and visited a quite wonderful store named Twisted Sisters.  It is full of hippie gear and Bruce selected clothes for himself and his wife Tam for the upcoming Halloween weekend.  The store owner served him and almost every item was knocked down by 50%.    I personally couldn’t see myself wearing any of that gear that I remember from my youth, and I know that Bruce and Tam will probably wear their outfits only once in public and save them for home and barbecues.

Click images to enlarge them

Later we went on a Fremantle Jail tour.  Most interesting.   It has not been in use since it closed in 1991.  It was commissioned in the 1850s and used to incarcerate men and women over 136 years.  The current prisons in Western Australia must seem like holiday camps compared to the conditions prisoners endured at Fremantle.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Narrowband UV light treatment still on

I am still having Narrowband UV light treatment for Psoriasis three times a week.  Each day I attend there are another 100+ patients getting the same treatment.  One young fellow I have seen there many times is about 7 years of age and has severe Psoriasis affecting his body, face and eyes.  This is not his first series of treatments and he has been treated in the last Psoriasis season.  I say ‘season’ because for most patients this is an annual problem starting late winter, when it is believed insufficient exposure to sunlight occurs.

A brave young lad who must expect that the condition will return next winter and the whole thing will start over again.  This is the second outbreak I have had starting in the winter season and talking to other people getting treatment it would seem that until some new treatment is found, I will return annually.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Losing it?

The maintenance on the Quinns Rocks unit is ongoing.  Yesterday I had enough and drove home for a rest.  I parked my car in the driveway and had lunch.  Then I realised that I had left the car unlocked with my wallet and phone in it.  A quick search didn’t find them and so I rang my iphone from the house phone.....nothing?  I thought they might have been stolen, but this suburb  is relatively safe and so I guessed that the phone and my wallet might be still at the unit....sooo another 120km round trip to find them safe on a benchtop.

Am I losing it??

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Still more maintenance

I am still making the daily 120km round trip to Quinns Rocks to do maintenance on a unit I own there.  Every day I find more to do.   Today my son is coming along as I need a second pair of hands with a couple of the tasks.  
Watercorp is sending someone out today to replace a shutoff valve in the  water meter.  The tree man has not yet taken down three large palms and another large tree.  I have a plumber coming to replace a tap set in the kitchen and airconditioning is to be fitted in the lounge room.   
Brother Graham has a tile grout cleaning machine and on the weekend it is going to be working hard on a large tiled area.

I want this to be over soon.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Maintenance is ongoing

Western Australia has a water problem.  Our rains no longer fill dams and we rely heavily on ground water and desalination plants.  The Water Corporation offers free watersaving shower heads, two to a residence on a bring in your old one and get a watersaving model basis.   I collected my second one today and installed it (with a bit of swearing) at my unit at Quinns Rocks. 
The renovation is going slowly but steadily.  I have a quote to remove the three large palms, grind the stumps out and remove all the mess.  I had an idea that the quote would be around $4,000, but was very thankful to find the man will do the job for $1332.   I  guess he has the gear for the job and maybe he has no work on at the moment.
Cleaning out the gutters is the next contract job for both units and it looks like it will be a difficult job as the roof tiles almost cover the gutters.  The quote might not be as generous as the palms.  An aircondition unit is to be installed for around $2,000 and I think the couple in the rear unit will probably ask for one once they see it being installed.

 Probably another two weeks work before it can be offered for rent 

Desal plants in Australia.  Click to view

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Keeping busy

I own a couple of rental properties in a northern suburb.  Both are 3 bedroom dwellings on a single block.  They are probably 40+ years old and starting to need serious maintenance.  One of the units has been vacated recently and I have started maintenance on that one before being able to rent it again.    I have found quite a few problems inside and outside the unit and have started daily trips from my place to get things up to a reasonable standard.    Outside there are problems with three monster palms dropping  fruit in the nearby roof gutters which has caused an overflow and  flooding of the roof eaves.  A contractor will be sought to clean out rubbish from the gutters of both houses and a tree person is to give me quotes for removing the palms.  They are huge and old leaves; or are they fronds, look inviting for some miscreant to set alight.

click to enlarge

Inside there has been a problem with shower tiles leaking water through to an internal wall.  I have sealed the tile grout and some patching and painting on the damaged wall is necessary.   I have repaired a toilet cistern and changed tap washers in all the taps.  Next is to have new curtains made and install a front door deadlock.  Most of the window fly screens need replacing.
The tenants in the rear unit have been there for years and look after their unit as though it was their own.  Don't want to lose them.

I’d like to sell them both, but the housing market has crashed here.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Working still at age 102

A local Western Australia university (Edith Cowain University)  has decided that a honorary staff member should retire and work from his home.   He is 102 years of  age, which surely must be a record.  Hope he doesn’t die before he sees himself in the Guinness Book of Records.
He doesn’t want to leave the university campus, but the university thinks he may be at risk travelling to and fro from his home every day.  He catches two buses and a train to get to work.   He was awarded The Order of Australia this year and feedback from the public generally wants him to remain at his post.  I listened to a radio interview with him and he still has all his marbles and works with the Centre of Ecosystem Management as a research associate.   The university has offered to set up his small home as a workstation, but he feels he will last longer if he is in contact with fellow academics.

I retired at 59 years of age because I read that an early retirement can lead to a longer lifespan.  I have reached 76 years and even though I loved teaching, I am glad that I retired when I did.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Ernest 'Shiner' Ryan

Recently reading an article in the local daily paper about Ernest ‘Shiner’ Ryan, I was reminded about my contact with Shiner.   In the last year of WW2, we (Mum and Dad, me, Uncle Jack, Aunty Gladys and cousin Valma and grandpa ) lived next door to Shiner Ryan in South Fremantle.  I cannot recall the sleeping arrangements in our unit, but I am sure there were just two bedrooms. 

Shiner was Fremantle’s own crook.  He had served time in jails across Australia mainly for theft.  
Under a staircase in our unit was a pile of canned fish with the labels removed.  Cousin Valma and I would play on what was later explained to be stolen fish, courtesy of a couple of Shiner’s U.S. servicemen friends.  At the age of six in 1945 I was not curious enough to ask what all those cans were doing there. I am guessing that it was a keepsafe operation.
The south Terrace unit we lived in, built in 1870

I remember the excitement when VJ day was declared.  South Terrace became a speedway of cars, jeeps and trucks roaring up and down past our place.’ horns blowing, bugles blowing and lots of singing and yelling out.

By 1947 Dad had built our house in Bicton, an outer suburb of Fremantle.   In that year, along with just about every other local youngster,  I had my tonsils removed in Fremantle Hospital.  I recall mother collecting me from the hospital and on the way home visiting Shiner Ryan in his flat.   Whilst sitting at his breakfast table he unscrewed one of the legs to show us how he kept his money safe in the hollowed-out leg.   Later as he saw us off at street level, he commented on a car which was parked with the engine running saying…’In my day that car would be stripped and in the river’.  

Shiner was a bit of a folk hero.  He married late in life.  That marriage lasted about 8 hours.
The popular 'Shiner' Ryan

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Bathroom warm again

I found a ‘sparky’ to install and wire a new bathroom heater/light/exhaust fan in one of the bathrooms.  The one I bought is the same brand as previously in the bathroom and although there were much cheaper units, I kept with that brand as the ceiling cut-holes are the same size.    All done @ a price of $150. cash in hand.*  The new unit cost $240. and other brands roughly the same size and capacity sold for as little as $99. 
The man made use of an existing light switch near the doorway to the bathroom, then pushed a four core wire down the conduit alongside the existing switch wires.  The new switch has four buttons to operate fan,heater x2, light and the young sparky suggested I give away having two levels of heating and use just one and have that switch operating both heating lamps.   Works well and I have now returned to my own bathroom.

  OK, I won’t write any more Home Handyman stories.

*common term for these jobs is 'a cashie'.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Home Handyman problems

My sister Shirley has returned to her home in Esperance  at the bottom of Western Australia.  The FESS procedure was successful and after a couple of days here in the city she felt it was safe to return home.

I have a home handyman problem with a bathroom light/heater/exhaust unit which is probably 16+ years old.  The unit was installed after construction of the house and used a remote control to activate each part, as it isn’t ‘hard wired’ in.  Over the last month or so I had to be precise aiming the remote control at the receiver and then the whole thing died.   I figured it was the remote control, but after a bit of Googling, found a method of testing the remote.  The testing relied on a camera to record the infra red beam.  I used the built-in camera on an iMac computer and saw the IR light as I pointed it at the camera lens.  Smart stuff!  Sooooo, the remote is OK.  I guess that means the receiver is probably dead.   Trouble is, this model  has not been made for years and there are no spare parts available.
click to enlarge

Getting a suitable replacement which is controlled with a remote which will fit the exact size of the hole which will be left by the current one, is going to be difficult.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A Funeral

Yesterday I and several friends attended the funeral of a young woman who died suddenly at age 46.  I do not know the details of her sudden death, but it would seem that she knew her life was in danger.  She had written instructions donating any and all body parts which would help others.   The word aneurysm was mentioned by a few people and it may have been that she had an existing condition.
There were around 250 attendees and eulogies were delivered by friends describing her as a most interesting character, friend to many and a much loved daughter to her parents.
I wished that I had known her.

After yesterday I thought that I will need to book  Rentacrowd when I go.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Violet Holmes turns 100

This last Saturday, my aunt Violet; ‘aunty Vi’ celebrated her 100th year with a large group of family and friends.  She looks like she is around my age, 76, and announced that she had no plans to leave us all yet.  I took a lot of photos with aunty Vi and different family groups and individuals.
Vi has entered dementia territory, but when a group of singers played and sang some of the songs she knew well, she was able to sing along with each song.  She received letters of congratulations from the state’s Premier, The Australian Prime Minister and QE2.

Click to enlarge

Tomorrow I am attending a funeral of friends’ daughter.  I am not good with the sudden death of people younger than me.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Shirl is here for FESS surgery

My sister Shirley is staying with me for two weeks during which time she will have a procedure called Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery to remove polyps in her sinuses.   Yesterday we went to Hollywood Hospital for a consultation with the surgeon, and filling scripts for pre-operation medications.  She will be operated on next Thursday and staying overnight in hospital.   The possible side effects read like a horror story, but the man has told her that he has never had any bad side effects on the many similar operations he has performed.  The Frontal Sinus is to be accessed through the eyebrows. Ouch!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Travelling in France

Our daughter Helen and husband James have booked a European holiday  for the month of September.   Yesterday’s tragedy in the French city of Nice where 84 people were killed and another 202 people were injured by a madman who, was a Muslim, but was not a religious person.  

Helen and James have Paris, Nice and Avignon on the French part of their holiday and they and me of course, have some concern about their safety.  The perpetrators of such horrors aim to create as much terror as possible and so attack crowded venues.   
Bali, in Indonesia, suffered an attack in which 88 Australians were killed in a nightclub bombing.  The clubbing foreigners drinking alcohol were an easy target for religious extremists.  In the many times my wife Joan and I visited Bali, we never visited the clubs and stayed in quiet oldies' areas.

Helen and James will no doubt do the same when they visit France and Spain. 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Mitch is safely home

Mitch is home safe in Esperance.  Yesterday, daughter Helen and I collected Mitch from Fiona Stanley Hospital and drove him to Perth Airport in plenty of time.  I thought his baggage was overweight but it went through at no cost.  He will be back up to Perth in about a month for more knee surgery and the hospital will also check out how he is managing the ‘foot drop’ problem.    When he is able to drive again it will most certainly not be a motor scooter.

Last evening I watched ‘Family Feud’.     The thing I find most strange about this show is that the producers somehow manage to find the strangest mix of character in the two families competing.    I have not seen the U.S. version of this show, but the Australian version manages to have at least a few members wearing quite outrageous clothing when they proudly parade themselves for the Australian viewers. So I switched over to the 40th re-run of MASH.   In MASH, I notice there are no ugly nurses.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Some good news for Mitch Jones and Mum

Some very good news for Mitch who is in Fiona Stanley Hospital doing rehab after a major road crash.  It has been eight weeks since he was flown up to Royal Perth Hospital Trauma Unit for specialised surgery  to leg and arm breaks, internal injuries and knee reconstructions.  During the past week he was transported back to RPH Trauma Unit for assessment.  The specialist  team removed an arm plaster and determined that he is fit enough to return home to Esperance this coming Friday.  He has some more knee surgery in a couple of months and maybe some nerve grafting to repair the ‘foot drop’ in his right foot. The nerve damage may well fix itself.  At the moment Mitch’s toes are unable to turn up which may cause tripping on carpet etc.    He is philosophic about this problem as he realises that he is very fortunate to come out of this major crash with most functions working pretty well.

Mitch with Mum, Karen
Click to enlarge

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Tom Waits

I have been playing a Tom Waits disk in my car.   I dug it out of my collection because I have not heard anything from him for years.   I went to one of his concerts in Perth some 35 years ago and immediately became a fan of his gravelly voice cultivated by many bottles of whiskey and thousands of cigarettes.  I googled him and it seems that he has lost that course voice and has sort of joined the crooners.  Pity!       I  guess my favourite TW number is Kentucky Avenue which is sort of an autobiographical song about growing up. Here are the words. 

Eddie Grace’s Buick got four bullet holes in the side
Charley DeLisle sittin at the top of an avocado tree
Mrs Storm will stab you with a steak knife if you step on her lawn
I got half pack of lucky strikes, man come along with me
lets fill our pockets with macadamia nuts
then go over to Bobby Goodmanson’s and jump off the roof

Hilda plays strip poker and her mama’s across the street
Joey Nafinski said she put her tongue in his mouth
Dicky Faulkner’s got a switchblade and some gooseneck risers
That eucalyptus is a hunchback, there’s a wind up from the south
let me tie you up with kite string and I’ll show you the scabs on my knee
Watch out for the broken glass, put your shoes and socks on
and come along with me

Let’s follow that fire truck, I think your house is burning down
then go down to the hobo jungle and kill some rattle snakes with a trowel
we’ll break all the windows in the old Anderson place
and steal a bunch of boysenberries and smear em on your face
I’ll get a dollar from my mama’s purse and buy that skull and crossbones ring
and you can wear it round your neck on an old piece of string
then we’ll spit on Ronnie Arnold and flip him the bird
And slash the tires on the school bus now don’t say a word
I’ll take a rusty nail and scratch your initials in my arm
and I’ll show you how to sneak up on the roof of the drugstore
I’ll  take the spokes from your wheelchair and a magpie’s wings
and I’ll tie them to your shoulders and your feet
I’ll steal a hacksaw from my Dad and cut the braces off your legs
and we’ll bury them tonight in the cornfield

Put a church key in your pocket, we’ll hop that freight train in the hall

We’ll slide all the way down the drain to New Orleans in the fall

You can listen to it here....

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Ups and Downs of medicine

I am waiting around for my son-in-law to deliver me to hospital for a Gastroscopy and Colonoscopy.  I have had them before, but this time is the first time because of a positive in a Faecal Blood test.
I haven’t really eaten anything in the last few days and the bowel cleanser seems to have done the it were.  I won’t crack the old joke about hoping they do the Gastro first.
I know that when I come around I will be offered a sandwich and a coffee but I will really be thinking of a nice meal I have already prepared at home.  

Daughter Helen is collecting me from the hospital and I am hoping that I have good news to give her.

PS:  All is well.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Mitch in rehab at Fiona Stanley Hospital

My niece from Esperance has been staying at my place whilst visiting her son in rehab at Fiona Stanley Hospital.  Mitch is undergoing rehab after a major road accident where he had three breaks in a leg, a broken arm and two knee reconstructions.  When I saw him on Sunday he was on a machine to exercise (stretch) the ligaments in his right knee on a CPM (Continuous Passive Motion) machine.  He is a long way off being discharged; probably another month before he will be able to walk unassisted.   Fiona Stanley is a relatively new hospital of probably three years.  It is huge and up-to-date with all the latest medical facilities.

Last night I advertised an Apple Mac G5 tower on a trader paper, Gumtree.  This model is very popular with people building a ‘Hackintosh’ where the Apple Mac’s guts is removed from the solid aluminium G5 and a fast Windows computer packed into the empty space.    I didn’t want any money for it and overnight, I had 185 views of the page and 16 people wanted to come and collect it.  One fellow finished work at 10pm and fronted up to take it away.    I restore Macs and give them to needy folk for free.  This one refused to run properly so I sacrificed it to Hachintoshville.

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Inoccents

Daughter Helen had me over to dinner last evening.  Her husband James was on a mining site; week on, week off.
She had made a lovely curry and after finishing the meal we adjourned to the lounge to watch a bit of TV.

Helen complained that one of the staffies (Ruby and Rosie) smelled like urine.  She did a bit of sniffing of both of my grandkids and was a bit perplexed about which of the girls had done a Number 1.  Helen asked me to come and investigate the smell and after a short sniff-around I determined that is was on her.     We  both realised that she has spilled some Fish Sauce on her blouse when she was making the curry.   The girls were forgiven.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Getting old

Yes, growing old isn’t for sissies.
My Psoriasis has returned and I have made an appointment with the dermatologist to recommence the UV light treatment, which to a large extent worked, earlier in the year.  

I had a blood faecal test which came back positive and I am booked in to have a colonoscopy .  My GP tells me that the presence of blood  doesn’t necessarily mean I have bowel cancer.  Thanks Doc.

Daughter Helen and my late wife Joan. 
circa 1983

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Letters to the editor

I always read the letters to the editor in our daily newspaper. There are other minor weekly papers serving specific areas surrounding Perth City.  A recent letter to the editor of The Fremantle Herald had Barry having a bit of a whinge about homeless people camping in his leafy suburb of Applecross.

Tina replied to Barry in the next week’s edition and Bazza shot one back to Tina the following week..  I’m not sure this exchange is totally finished.  In any case it’s a good read.  Click to enlarge text

Sunday, May 29, 2016

A good week

I have had a very good week; visits from two lovely ex-students, a friend, an ex-colleague, who is visiting home from the U.S. and today a friend who brought me some memory food back from one of his his regular trips to Papua New Guinea.  Click images to enlarge.

PNG products still popular 

This morning I went to a ‘swap meet’ and bought a blow torch.  It is probably 50+ years old and still works well.  The fuel tank is brass and will polish up nicely.  Not sure if I will ever use it, but it is a nice piece.    A ‘swap meet’ is perhaps not the correct name for a flea market as the only swapping done there is swapping money for objects.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Lynch Syndrome

Our daughter Helen recently had a Colonoscopy and the results showed no cancers, but 31 polyps were removed.  That number is of concern and when she visited her GP she was told that there is a possibility that she may have Lynch Syndrome.  
An extract from the doctor’s information handout....

   It would seem That either my side of the family or my late wife’s side may be genetically disposed to this syndrome.  I should perhaps get tested. I will discuss the matter when I visit my GP next week.

Meanwhile Helen will have regular tests and scans.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

St John's Ambulance Service

Yesterday I had a visit from an ex-student of mine; Hwee.  Hwee was a fav student of mine at Willetton SHS and she works as an ambo for the St John’s Ambulance Service here in Western Australia.    There are many stories we should gather on the work of ambos; some of them humorous, some dangerous and some sad.   Ambos certainly see a broad cross-section of society. There is a good book or a realty TV show to be made there.

I was surprised to read that the U.S. state of Alabama still has separate schools for whites and the rest of society.   I thought the American Civil War to end that sort of rubbish was won in 1865.   

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Mitch is on the mend

Mitch is on the mend.  The latest surgery was to reconstruct his left knee.

 They want to leave a week in between each surgery. Next will be right knee then left wrist. He is in good spirits and keen to get things moving along. Abdomen seems fine now so let's hope it stays that way. 

Mitch with mum Karen

Thursday, May 12, 2016

'You've been in the wars!'

Short report on my niece’s son Mitch. Text from mother Karen....

had a set back last night.  Emerg surgery to remove part of his bowel that had a hole in it and leaking air through his tummy.  Big abscess draining now.  In ICU. Hopefully tomorrow back to trauma unit.

and then more the following morning....

In pretty good spirits.  Gut not working still. Small blood clot left vein of kidney. Bit jaundice today. So many things at work/concern.

My mother would have said...’you’ve been in the wars’.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Google searches

Some six years ago I wrote about a David Attenborough documentary titled ‘The Biami People of Papua New Guinea’.  I found it on YouTube on January, 18th 2010. You can find that post here.
Yesterday when I was checking my blog hits I found that that posting suddenly has 80 hits with people searching for The Biami People of PNG.    Most of those hits were from the UK and so I thought that Attenborough’s documentary must have been screened on BBC television that evening.   Looking closer, I found that around 5 hits were from the U.S.A.

Searching for that documentary with Google I found a TV programme on air on May 8 with small clips of many of Attenborough’s travels and the Biami was part of a collection of his previous adventures…this one from 1950.

This is a screenshot of that segment…
Click to enlarge