Old folk at lunch

Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Royal wedding


As a confirmed monarchist I did watch the Royal wedding on TV, mostly on channel 9.  So I thought I might note here a few desultory impressions of it.

The first thing I liked was all the splendid cars, old and new. The old Rolls bringing the bride was particularly magnificent. It was a 1950 Rolls-Royce Phantom-iv. But there were a lot of impressive vehicles delivering the wedding party.



Then I was pleased to see Prince Philip looking so well -- in remarkable health for age 96

I was pleased to see that both Princes wore military uniform. They wore the frockcoat uniform of the Blues and Royals  -- which is Harry's old regiment.  Both men were of course fully entitled to wear uniform as both had served in the armed forces in their younger days.  The Royal family is a military family -- as most European monarchies once were. I thought Prince Charles would be in uniform too but he wore a tailsuit in a rather horrible shade of grey.  He obviously didn't want to outshine his sons

It was good too that Harry kept his red beard.  Red-headed kids traditionally got bullied in British schoolyards but with the very popular Prince Harry being a red-head that must have been ameliorated. My father was a redhead so I have sympathy for redheads

It was good to see how Harry and William stopped to greet their Gurkha guards as they entered. Harry did of course work with Gurkhas when he was in the army in Afghanistan. They were the only people the Royal brothers stopped for.  That would have been noted and justly celebrated in Nepal.  The Gurkhas are held in huge respect in England. Here is one reason for that respect.

It was also good to see how the two brothers interacted while they were waiting. They are obviously a great support for one another.

The Dean of Windsor seemed rather tremulous.  He sounded like he might break down.  Since he was running the show, that would not have done.

When it came to the actual marriage service, Cantuar was in good voice -- a most experienced preacher.

There certainly were a lot of Christian expressions from all who spoke. It went on and on, very repetitiously. God was so frequently invoked that one got the impression that he must be hard of hearing. Harry must have been bored but military men learn patience so he outlasted it without apparent difficulty.

There was a pronounced African presence throughout the proceedings, presumably in deference to Meghan's partial ancestry.  The cellist was good but I was unimpressed by the rest of it.  Episcopalian Bishop Michael Curry was very active and dramatic in his speech but all he did was state some extremely anodyne comments repetitiously and with a lot of noise.

But you can't expect much more from the Episcopalians. Homosexuality seems to be the only thing Episcopalians care about. Had the bishop quoted Romans 1:24-27 that might have livened things up.  As it was, his  speech was just way too long.  Never in the field of human preaching has so little been said for so long.  The  media generally praised his speech highly but what else could they do with a black bishop from the world's most politically correct church?

Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir performed Ben E King's soul classic Stand By Me during the service. It was repetitive but sung with a lot of energy.  I noted that Camilla looked horrified when they came on.  I thought it was just noise.

I noted that St George’s Chapel had a medieval "rude screen", behind which all the "magic" happened -- out of sight of most of the congregation. The chapel was built in the 14th century so it reflects its times.



And I was rather pleased to see beadles in use guiding people.  Is it only Anglicans who have beadles?  I have never seen one on the more Protestant services I am accustomed to.

The departure of the married couple in an Ascot Landau with a big Household Cavalry escort was of course what one expects of a great Royal occasion.  Some of the carriage horses were clearly a bit spooked by the cheering etc but they were well managed. If there is one thing the Royal family and their attendants know about it is horses.  It's an equestrian monarchy.  Even the Queen still rides -- but only ponies these days.

The bride:  I was rather surprised by the strong resemblance between Meghan and her mother, though I suppose I should not have been.  I had supposed that Meghan's fine features would have come from her Caucasian father but clearly she got a bit from both.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

An interesting Friday


On his last visit, Jason gave us all of his remaining Amiga gear for $50.  Included were two Amiga 500s that looked very dirty and unloved.  I assumed that they would be useful for parts only.  On Friday morning, however, I decided to see if they would boot up.  One did! And its disk-drive was working too.  So I cleaned up the case and Joe and I then had a 5th working Amiga in our collection, which was rather exciting. To obtain another Amiga these days was a considerable improbability.  I guess I should sell a couple of them. We are only using one at the moment.

Earlier in the week I had decided to do my trust tax return on Friday.  My personal return was done by an agent and went in last December.  Agents all freak out if you ask them to do a trust return however.  I have no idea why but they either refuse point blank or ask for big money.  Yet my return is of the simplest.  All it does is hold company shares.  You have just got to add up two columns of numbers basically.  So out of necessity I do my own trust tax return.  Like everybody else, however, I hate doing tax returns so I had put off doing it. I bit the bullet on Friday, however, and it only took me about half an hour

I then wanted to print out a brief letter to go with it and found that my printer was out of ink.  I did have a spare ink cartridge to hand but putting it in was a challenge -- but I managed it.

I then decided I should get another cartridge immediately for future use.  Officeworks is near to where I live so that was easy.  I got the cartridge and then lined up to pay for it.  There were a couple of people ahead of me but there were NO cashiers in sight.  I thought they would soon turn up -- but none did.

After giving it some time however, I decided to be Stentor.  In ancient Greece, Stentor was the town crier of Athens.  And he had a VERY loud voice. The Athenians didn't have a public address system but they did have Stentor, which was just about as good.  I am not as good a Stentor as Michael Darby but I can be a pretty good Stentor nonetheless.  So I said in my best Stentorian voice "Where are all the cashiers?"  The shop was electrified.  Within one minute there were two cashiers there and after another minute three.  People hate loud voices so they rush to make sure I won't do it again.

So even buying an ink cartridge can have its dramas.

Then that night I shouted Jill and Lewis a dinner at one of our local Japanese restaurants.  It was a long delayed birthday dinner. I had put it off due to a string of minor illnesses I had had.

And even there there was a  bit of a drama.  I had brought along a bottle of champagne and asked for glasses to drink it with.  That caused consternation.  At first they thought they didn't have any but when the lady boss was consulted a set of them were found. They then had to wash and polish them but we got our glasses eventually.

Jill and Anne are both great travel enthusiasts so Jill told Anne all about her trip to Dubai and Anne told Jill about her trip to Finland and the Arctic.  Lewis and I just talked politics as usual.  I told them all about my recent Stentor performance and that gave some amusement.

There were four Bento boxes on the menu so I ordered them all. So that made an interesting and substantial dinner for each of us.  I chose the box with the curry but made rather a mess of eating it.  Japanese curry comes in the form of a thick liquid into which you dip stuff.  So I think you can see the perils of that. But at least I ate my rice.  The ladies treated their beautifully prepared rice as an afterthought.  The Japanese must wonder at that

I might mention that Jill is 80, Lewis is 85, I am 74 and Anne is 72 -- so it was definitely an eldern meeting. But we all enjoyed our dinner just as well as if we were 50 years younger,

I think I was the most unfit person there. Old men go through 4 stages: Spry, active, mobile and breathing. I am on the wrong end of mobile.



Monday, May 14, 2018

Amiga devotions




When the kids were growing up in the 80s and 90s they had great entertainment playing games on the Amiga computer.  It was before its times in many ways with excellent sound as well as good graphics -- both supported by specialist chips.  With a hard drive attached it still is much like a modern Windows computer.

Joe has fond memories of many hours spent playing memorable Amiga games and I have happy memories of seeing the kids have so much fun.  I very much supported the fun by gradually acquiring a large number of games for it -- which I still have --  over a thousand of them

So Joe and I have recently been working on a computer museum, with the Amiga in pride of place.   Over the years I collected just about everything associated with the Amiga so we were in a position to mount a full Amiga setup in my living room.  The big challenge was to get a hard drive mounted as that was a bit unfamiliar.  Games in the old days were mostly played off floppy disks.  With the aid of the inestimable Jason and his magic soldering iron, we have however got all our old hardware working again and Joe did the work of getting the hard drive set up.  I had myself set up a hard drive 30 years ago but in the interim I had forgotten all the details. Joe is also working on indexing all our Amiga games -- many boxes of them.

So in pride of place in my living room there is now an Amiga setup that is as good as ever one was. I managed to accumulate four Amiga 500s before Amigas faded out from common use so if one fails we can always set up another.  I did for a few days have TWO full Amiga setups going -- with hard disks -- so for a brief moment we had an Amiga setup at my place that would have been impressive even in the old days.



Wednesday, April 25, 2018

An unforeseen night


On Tuesday 24th, I had booked tickets to fly down to Sydney with Anne. It was to show her the basic sights and to get foods that are not yet sold in Brisbane.  It was to be for three days only as I cannot handle much walking these days.

On Monday, however, Anne had a scan which showed she had a broken foot.  So I had to cancel the trip.

That turned out to be something of a good thing as I had a very disturbed night that night.  It would have been even more disturbed had I not been at home in my own room.

I woke up at about 2am and didn't get back to sleep until about 5am.  In between I watched lots of videos on my computer.  One of them I thought particularly worthy of comment.  It was a video of the Black Watch parading through the streets of Edinburgh.

The Black Watch

I have an ancestral connection to the Black Watch.  What is the Black Watch?  It is a battalion within the Royal Highland Regiment -- known for its aggression and heroism.  One of my great grandfathers was in the Black Watch and that was always told to me in hushed tones as a great distinction.  And I agree with that.  As recently as the Afghanistan involvement they descended on the Islamic madmen with great ferocity. Scottish troops generally are formidable.  About a third of the British army is Scottish.

Below is a video in which the Black watch parade the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.  Note the continued dead thump of the bass drum.  It is very intimidatory,  No army in the world has uniforms that are as gorgeous as full Highlaqnd dress.  So you might think that they are only decorative soldiers.  That unremitting dead thump of the bass drum warns you off that foolish view.  Nothing fancy there.

I don't wear the kilt often these days but you may understand why I do



Load https://www.youtube.com/embed/P2gDkcpYnMc into your browser  and you will get a full-screen version of the march

The battalion is escorting the Scottish crown from Edinburgh castle to the Scottish Parliament, where the Queen will wear it for the Parliamentary opening.  The crown is held on a velvet cushion in the back of the big maroon Rolls Royce car in the middle of the march.  Anybody who tried to grab it would be in an unbelievable amount of trouble.  A battalion of angry Scotsmen wouldn't leave much of you

UPDATE:  Anne has a pair of close-fitting shoes which enable her to do short walks so she remains of good cheer

I thought I might briefly mention the foods I was looking forward to revisiting.  First of all Yugoslav food: Cevapcici and Raznici with the proper Kaimak accompaniment;  Liptauer cheese spread,  very common in central Europe but unknown in Brisbane; Basturma Greek smoked beef, originally camel meat but now usually beef.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

A good series of days


I had a series of interesting days recently.  Last Friday 13th was perhaps a bit unlucky.  Anne came over and cooked up some veal with garlic butter that I was looking forward to.  Anne cooked it medium but it was still rather tough.  It had a good taste though.  I expected veal to be tender.  Some dear little calf gave up its life for my dinner.  I do have some more veal in my freezer so I will dice it up and make it into curry.  3 hours in my crockpot should tenderize it.

Then on Saturday morning 14th we went to the Phams and I had a new offering there: Vietnamese lamb wrap.  It was really good and a surprisingly big meal

Than at 10am the incomparable Jason arrived.  He has been very ill but can now get about again and his wonderful brain was as sharp as ever. He is our guru for our computer museum and knows Amiga computers down to the tiniest depths. And when he left he had got a 500mb hard drive going for us and had fixed up a wobbly SCART port on one of our few Amiga monitors

Joe felt a bit drained by the great infusion of knowledge Jason had put into him so after Jason had left he took us to Subway for a late lunch.  I have  never found subway to be much good but Joe knows them well.  I ordered a Teriyaki footlong which was really good.  Joe always orders the seafood roll there.

Then on Sunday 15th Joe took us to Mos burgers for dinner again, with Eugene coming too.  They were out of beef!  So I had a chicken burger instead which was just as good.

Then Monday 16th was our usual Nando's night with just Joe, Jenny and myself.  They have some sort of BLAT there that I like.  The thing I used to order there -- thighs and slaw -- has been discontinued

Then on Tuesday Anne made us Reuben sandwiches -- using some freshly cooked corned beef.  They were a "best yet" for both of us. I got Anne to go a bit lightly on the Sauerkraut.  Too much of it swamps the other tastes.  The cheese she used was Jarlsberg


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Emotional music



I spent some time listening to some wonderful songs last night

First was Leonid Kharitonov singing "Volga Boatman" with the Red Army Choir.  The song is actually a type of shanty.  It is not the song of sailors, however.  It is a song of men on a towpath dragging boats along the Volga, presumably upstream. It is a song of endurance.  As such the words are simple to the point of meaninglessness but the tune is compelling.  And when you see Kharitonov  -- a most manly looking man -- you get a feeling for Russian power.

Russians are enduring. They have to be -- with both a demanding climate and a demanding government.  I admire them and have a feeling for what life must be like in Russia. When you listen to Kharitinov, however, you begin to understand the war on the Eastern front. The Germans were military specialists and killed 4 Russians for every one of theirs that fell.  But the Russians just did not give in -- so indomitability triumphed over military brilliance.



Then I watched an excellent version of The Battle Hymn of the Republic, played by an American army band. It was a very sophisticated performance in my language by people of my ethnicity referring to my religious heritage but I was nevertheless a little uncomfortable with it. I was disturbed by the women in the band, including the very capable woman conductor. In my old-fashioned military mind, we fight to protect our women, not put them in the army. A nation that puts its mothers in danger has lost the plot and endangered its future in my view.



Then I watched a very well done version of Hatikva, the national anthem of Israel. I am hugely pro-Israel so that moved me.  When  they sing about Jerusalem that is not just their  religious capital but it is ours too.  Their Bible is our Bible too.  So we too have learnt to yearn for Zion.



Then there was a rendition of the simple but beloved Russian folk song: Katyusha.  With a lively little Russian girl (Valeria Kurnushkina) drawn in to sing her part.  The Choir with their big hats sang happily along with her.  She was a charmer.



And then I went to a magnificent rendition in the Albert hall of that great English song "Jerusalem".   Blake's magical words and Parry's setting are incomparable.  Anybody with English blood in them (and I am one) has to glorify in that song despite it's vast theological improbability.  I liked some of the comments left on the video.  I felt that way too:



The comments:

Thank God I was born an Englishman!!

For starters I hardly ever cry, but this almost brought a tear to my eye. Were so proud of you from across the pond, sending lots of love and wishes of luck on your new journey of independence.

I don't give a toss about what people say or think about my country, I'm a proud Englishman and that will never change

Amazing! Wish i was british. In germany it's a crime to love your own country.

Almost cried when I heard Jerusalem today and I'm not even British. I truly wish a bright future and only the best for England and for the whole UK.

God save the Queen from sweden .

If you happen to be a free citizen anywhere on this planet, believe it or not, you are indebted to England. By the way i am not British and not among the fortunate ones.

Being born English is like winning the first prize in the lottery of life.



Friday, March 30, 2018

And the Lord was praised


I rarely go to church these days but for good Friday I thought I should make an exception.  Anne likes going to church so she came along too. We went to St John's Presbyterian at Annerley



So why did I go?  I went for the same reason that most go:  To praise the Lord.  I am immensely thankful for the truth and wisdom I find in the Bible and am as such clearly a product of the Protestant Christian tradition.

Would I still have been the same person without my years of Bible study?  Perhaps.  But I am sure that Bible teachings have helped me to live a wiser life.  I was 17 in 1960 and the 60s are now legendary as a time when many young people cast off all restraints, often harming themselves and their relationships in the process. But Christian ideas of self-restraint protected me from all that. I not only took no drugs but I was even teetotal, in the best Presbyterian way. So you see that I had a lot to be thankful for when I went to church this morning and my going there was an expression of appreciation for that.

And it did feel like coming home.  St John's is very much a traditional Presbyterian church -- right down to the fact that there were no pictures or statues of anything on display and not a single cross to be seen.  As Exodus 20:4 says:  "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth."  That could hardly be clearer and Presbyterians take their Bible seriously.  In theology they are iconoclasts.

Yet the interior of the church is beautiful. It does have colour -- some very attractive patterned leadlights -- but the main point about the decor is all the old polished wood.  You can smell old polished wood when you first walk into older Presbyterian churches.  It is a very sentimental smell to me and tells me I am in the right place.  The whole well-kept interior generally tells me that:  The pipe organ centrally placed at the focus of attention and lots of small details. It gives me the feeling that I am among my own people ("My ain folk", as the Scots say). The shot below gives you a general idea of the decor.



Presbyterians are an independent lot so each church has its own traditions and each minister does things a little differently.  The minister on this occasion seemed to do more prayers than usual and yet did not at any stage lead us in the Lord's prayer, which was unusual. And he did not speak extempore in his sermon at all.  He just read out his sermon from a prepared text. It was a perfectly good and devout sermon but would have been a lot more engaging if it had been delivered as a talk.

A couple of other oddities:  In the long prayer at the beginning of the service it is customary to pray for "the Queen and all the members of the Royal family". He left that out.  Another customary part of that prayer is to pray for the conversion of the Jews. I was glad that he left out that bit. Jews are already a holy people. I suggested to him afterward that a better prayer in today's world would be to pray for the safety of the Jews.

My Good Friday visit to St John's pleased me enough so that I will probably go there again for my next church visit -- at Christmas.

When we got home at about 10am, Anne and I breakfasted on hot cross buns.  And for much of the rest of the day I watched and listened to lots of Bach on video.  In particular I listened to the John passion right through.  A very appropriate thing for good Friday.

Then that evening, Jenny put on a good Friday dinner for a few of us -- featuring fish. Jenny is a very good fish cook. Some of us were of nominal Catholic background so Jenny was respecting that, I guess.  Food regulations are not part of the Protestant tradition.  It's the booze that bothers us.

As Kate works in psychology, we got to talk quite a bit about psychological assessment -- with me being very skeptical about most current methods of psychological assessment.  Probably a bit unkind of me but dispelling illusions has to be kind in the end and psychometrics is my special field.

UPDATE: One thing that invited universal hilarity in the discussions we had was the idea that Russians were responsible for everything bad.  There were a variety of political opinions present but this media nonsense about the Russians evoked a lot of hilarity among us all. If anything dubious came up in the conversation, "It must have been the Russians" was the response. I imagine that the hardy inhabitants of Rossiya (which is what Russians call their country) are rather pleased about the great powers that the American media attribute to them.

A musical update: Anne did not accompany me to Jenny's dinner as she had a prior arrangement to go to the cathedral for a Good Friday concert with her sister.  And that worked out a bit amusingly. 

During the day, for part of which Anne was present, I had actually listened to Bach's John passion right through twice.  So what was the program at the cathedral?  It was the John passion! So Anne got the John passion that day willy nilly.  Lucky she likes it.  The performance at the cathedral appears to have been competent but would have been much enhanced by the venue.  The great  stone arches of the Metropolitical cathedral of St John give a brilliant sound and of course are particularly suited to sacred music.

So what did I put on for music when Anne got back to my place that night?  The Passio Secundum Johannem!


Monday, March 5, 2018

The war on "Throaties"




Note the little birdie

I gather that "Throaties" are officially regarded as confectionery rather than medicine.  On the rare occaion when I get a cold, however, I find them helpful.  And Woolworths is the obvious source of supply for them.

"Throaties" do contain various volatile compounds (menthol etc.) which are the active ingredients.  So "Throaties" are one of the cough lollies that come carefully double wrapped in order to prevent the volatiles from evaporating off.

Some lamebrain at Woolworths, however, didn't see the point of all that double wrapping so put all the lozenges together in a little plastic bag -- into which all the volatiles promptly evaporated.  So as soon as you opened the plastic bag, all the stuff you wanted promptly escaped into the air.  So your "Throatie" no longer had any active ingredients.

I found that very frustrating but was consoled to find that a Bangladesdhi grocery on a corner near where I go had the olde "Throaties" in stock.  So I promptly bought 4 of them to tide me over.

Sadly, however, the Bangladeshi grocer is now a Mexican restaurant so when I got a cold recently I had to go in search of "Throaties".  My local chemist did not have them in any form.  Too grand for "Throaties", I guess.

But I knew how widely "Throaties" used to be stocked so on a hunch I called in to my local newsagent.  And there they were.  I bought 4 packs straightaway!


A visit to China


For quite a while now, Joe and I have had the practice of taking a leisurely brunch together on Sunday mornings.  We go to the same place the same time and order the same thing week after week.  That might seem boring to some but Joe and I subscribe to the old Mortein philosophy:  When you are on a good thing stick to it.

Life is change however and that has now come to an end.  Joe and Kate are both workers and Kate thought that weekends were the best time for her and Joe to do things together.  And having Joe spending most of Saturday morning with his old father was inimical to that. So, being obliging souls, Joe and I changed our arrangements to Sunday dinner, with a trip to Sunnybank for Japanese hamburgers being the first case of the new arrangements on Feb 25th.

And Sunnybank is so Chinese that you might almost be in China while there.  I greatly enjoy my occasional trips to the land of the Chin.  They are only 15 minutes drive away so why not.

The Australian population is about 5% Han Chinese these days.    So you see Asian people all around the place in Brisbane -- and many were  born here.  And they do not stand out in any way.  Except for their eyes, they look and behave like any other Australian.

I am always bemused a little by the way the young Chinese women dress.  In summer they wear a lot of short shorts and loose tops -- just as our Anglo ladies do. We also have a few Muslim ladies around the place -- in their vast wrappings -- so the contrast with their "modest" behaviour is great.  The Chinese are not "modest" in that sense. They are one with us.  I mentioned this to Joe -- that normal Chinese dress these days is totally Western -- and he told me that it is the same in Shanghai. He has been to China on work assignments several times.

Anyway, Joe has always been Sinophilic -- as I am -- so is very comfortable with all things Chinese.  And one of the results of there being so many Han in Australia is that we have a couple of suburbs where they tend to congregate.  And Joe and I went there last night for dinner again. And where we went -- Sunnybank -- is almost entirely Chinese.  You could as well be in China.  And I am always delighted to be in a crowd of people who are instinctively civilized.  3,000 years of civilization does leave a mark.

I have no idea how many eateries there are in Sunnybank but there are a lot -- and they are all different. The one Joe took me to last night was very modern.  You ordered from a computer kiosk rather than from a waiter. They have no waiters. That is not very remarkable in that various U.S. McDonalds restaurants also now do that.  But it was a first for Brisbane, I think

But the modernity didn't stop there.  The food was assembled by the chefs onto a very hot iron plate and delivered to you semi-raw. Each dinner would have taken them only minutes to put together.  And when the dinner arrived at your table, you mixed it around for 5 minutes and it was done!  And given the Chinese expertise with herbs and spices, the result was pleasant to eat. It was a good dinner despite minimal human contact in arranging it!

A little sad, however that it took the Chinese to get us up with the latest

Saturday, February 17, 2018

A meeting of minds


It was pleasing to me recently to meet someone else who thinks global warming is a big fraud and who thinks Mr Trump's policies are so good that we need him here in Australia. All that is a bit on the amazing side but it adds to the amazement that this simpatico person is just about as beautiful a woman as you can get. She is married and is also very bright.  She has just completed a higher degree on an important subject in a field that I know a fair bit about.

Her mother and I are friends who occasionally breakfast together.

She is pretty cheesed off about the fact that just about everyone she meets bad-mouths Mr Trump.  So I may get her along to the meetings of the "gang of four" whom I occasionally shout dinner to.  It would be a change for her to find herself among like-minded people. It won't happen immediately but sometime in the next few months I may get her along to join us over my dubious cookery.  All very amazing.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

An outing and a non-outing


A few non-routine events recently: On Friday, I took Anne to the Yeronga club again.  I took her there just before her trip to the Arctic as a birthday dinner but it was a two-for-Tuesday night so all she got for her dinner was two sausages!  So I took her on Friday 9th for a buffet night.  And buffets there are as good as any ever in my opinion so we really did well.  So her birthday was in the end appropriately celebrated.

Then on Monday I had a trip to see a hernia specialist and he agreed that my hernia was so small as to be of no immediate concern.  That was a big relief.  I was not looking forward to being hospitalized.  Been there done that.

Also on Monday a pesky keratosis on my index finger turned out to be a keratocanthoma.  That's good?  Yes.  The keratosis was closely adjacent to a knuckle, which meant that it would need a graft to replace it when excised.  And grafts and I often do not get on well.  I lose them. But a keratocanthoma goes away of its own accord.  It swells up, sort of explodes and then fades away. And it started to die on Monday and it is now only about a half of its former size.  And it was due to be excised on Wednesday.  So I just squeaked in on that one.  But it was a very pleasing outcome.

Then on Wednesday I went in for a couple of other excisions, both on my face.  No fun at all but expert surgery meant that I felt pretty much back to normal on Thursday morning.  I had to skip the booze on Wednesday night and sleep on my back all night but with the help of two Temaz I managed it.

Also on Wednesday, however, was Valentine's day.  I prepared  for it by buying in a bunch of red roses the day before and had said that I would take Anne to a Chinese restaurant for  Peking Duck as a special treat.  When the time came, however, Anne could see that I was feeling a bit unfit after surgery only a couple of hours previously so very kindly gave up her treat to cook me a dinner at home.

I had in my freezer some Jamie Oliver chicken fillets marinated and coated so we had that. I made up a cold collation on a big platter with Rotkohl etc to have with it, which seemed to go well. 

Because we were not opening wine, Anne requested a Martini. I don't drink them myself but the ones I make seem well-received.  I gave Anne a tropical Martini. 

As is well known, a Martini is basically just gin and Vermouth poured over ice cubes.  The proportions you use and various other factors do come into it however.  Everybody has their own recipe. You should, for instance, use fairly small ice cubes so that the liquor and the ice have maximum contact, making the drink cold.  Normally the ice is filtered off rather than left in the drink but for a tropical Martini you leave the ice in.  In hot weather it helps to keep the drink cold.  Whether you can do that may however depend on the size of your cocktail glasses.  Mine are a bit on the large size so everything fits in nicely.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Interesting days recently.


On Sunday morning (4th) Joe and I had our usual brunch.  Joe was in a mood for Maccas so we went there and took our purchases to the Kangaroo Pt cliffs to eat.  It is very scenic there. I had some sort of breakfast burger that was quite good plus a big chocolate shake.  One of the things Joe had was a serve of hotcakes.

Then on the evening of the same day, I hosted a small dinner  dedicated to men's talk.  Joe could not come as his cat had just got sick so he had to go to the vet. But Christopher and Graham were there.  Graham brought along a couple of 19th century British cavalry sabres for display.  I have now asked him to get one for me too.  They were a remarkably fine piece of work considering when they were made.  Chris brought along sidearms:  A replice Colt 45 American army revolver of the 19th century plus a German Luger pistol.  I could see how the Luger "points well", helping you to hit your tahget.

Mostly however we just talked, covering a very wide range of topics.  I explained the sequence of events plus the psychological motivation behind WWI. We got onto the Battle of Jutland, which is a particular interest of mine.  I pointed out that Admiral Scheer ran rings around admiral Jellicoe. And it turned out that Graham had an ancestor on one of the ships that the Kaiserliche Marine sank. We also touched briefly on the Crimean war and the battle of Hastings in 1066.

I noted that our ancestors originally came from the South Baltic shores but something happened that made them want to find greener fields -- crop failures due to global cooling probably.  Anyway some drove South and some got into boats and drove West -- creating Saxony and England respectivelly.  Saxony is a very choice part of the German lands so it is clear that the Saxons were good warriors who won their battles. And in both places where they made their new settlements there were already other people there -- Celts.  So the people of both Saxony and England today are a blend of Saxons and Celts.  When the Celts lost a battle to the Saxons, you can guess what happened to the Celtic women.

And I pointed out that the Celts in our ancestry really were one ethnic group.  Since all the surving Celtic groups in Western Europe speak similar languages -- Welsh, Irish, Cornish, Manx, Breton, Scots Gaelic -- that is very clear.  Other European groups called Celts may however be unrelated.  "Celt" is from "keltoi", the Greek word for "foreigner". We also have Caesar's report in de bello gallico that the Gauls and the British were the one race and respected one-another's priests (Druids).

Christopher was particularly taken with Breton folk-music and noted that it was the theme music to the “Black Hawk down” movie



So those of us with Celtic ancestry have a wide range of cultures to make our own. I believe that the Breton folk scene is particularly lively  -- and it is ours if we want it.

We also talked quite a bit about old motorbikes, particularly remembering our surprise when the Honda Dream first came out.  It upset lots of our conceptions of what motorbikes were like.

We aso noted with approval the ideas of psychologist Jordan Peterson and wondered if he might become a major change agent.

So in discussing men's topics a good time was had by all.

Graham and I next day had a rather traditional brekkie of savoury mince on toast at my place and Graham left shortly afterward to catch his plane back to Melbourne


Tuesday, January 30, 2018

I now have a mine at my place


It's a bitcoin mine and it has already made 5c -- using 50c worth of electricity.

Joe was thinking of setting up his own bitcoin mine but it would have taken some research.  Help however was at hand.  His good friend B.. was up from Sydney for a week's visit. Joe is a valued software engineer but B.. is an absolute computer guru.  So for the last few days my place has hosted two very happy people -- running around getting in the hardware and software needed for the enterprise.  I wonder how many people realize how satisfying computer programming can be?  For those who can do it, it is one of life's great satisfactions.

Computer nerds are supposed to be withdrawn and antisocial but B.. is very chatty and full of laughs.  He is however very mentally sharp and thinks at a high level of generality. He joined Joe and me both at our regular Sunday morning brunch and also at our regular Monday trip to Nando's.  And he livened both of us up.  Joe and I talk to one-another so frequently that it is a wonder that we still find things to talk about.  Mr Trump is a great help there. He is always doing something amusing that invites discussion.  But anyway I talked a lot to B.. -- and listened -- and it was very interesting.  No wonder Joe enjoys his company so much.

Friday, January 26, 2018

A pleasant day under blue skies


Leftists have whipped up a bit of a furore over our celebration of Australia day on 26th January.  They claim it is unfair to blacks.  But the only blacks who seem bothered by it are ones who have been radicalized by Leftists.

Anyway, I celebrated it in the usual Australian way as part of a BBQ type family lunch -- at Jenny's place.  Jenny did us all proud again with an excellent lunch. As well as salads and various canapes she cooked up pork sausages, lamb chops and cevapi.

I bought along the cevapi, bread rolls and a bottle of Seaview champagne. One bottle was just right for the 5 of us to toast the day.  The cevapi were partuclarly welcome as Woolworths has just started stocking them again.  They are the king of sausages in my view. So it was good to have them back.  They were new to Kate but she remarked that they were very good.

Jenny also provided lamingtons, brownies and softdrink as a dessert.  Joe particularly liked the brownies.  They were not hash brownies but they were gluten free.

We did discuss the objections to Australia day but concluded that we liked it just the way it is.   All of us at table had blue eyes so maybe that had something to do with it.  We were all of the same ilk as the early British settlers whose arrival the day celebrates

Anne was in the Arctic enjoying the day-long gloom and such things.  Better her than I!

I noticed that Nanna did not drink much of her champagne but gave it to Kate who scoffed it.  A modern woman!  Joe also gave most of his champagne to Jenny, who absorbed it with no trouble at all. I was the only one who just drank my drink.

After a big lunch I did not feel like much food that night but I eventually made myself a spam and seeded mustard sandwich followed by a bowl of Street's blue ribbon with a mango and passionfruit sauce on it.  Yum!

FOOTNOTE: What is meant by "ilk"?  It is Scottish and means of the same clan. Outside of Scotland, however, it is used more inclusively. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A pre birthday dinner


Anne has just flitted off on her latest trip -- to the Arctic of all places.  She could reasonably be called a travel-holic at the moment.

Which is ironic as I am travel-phobic these days.  I went everywhere I wanted to go in my 30s and it all seems too much bother now.  So she mostly travels with her good-humoured sister or goes alone.  She is a very friendly lady so she still has a lot of social interaction even when she travels alone.

But the amusing thing is that Joe and Kate seem to be in a similar situation.  Joe and I are very different people. He seems to be much more kind-hearted than I am, as one thing. Like his mother he is generally kind whereas I am kind mostly to people I approve of.

But "Like father like son" does emerge at times.  Joe is uninterested in travel too.  But Kate wants to see it all.  Joe took her on a trip all around Europe  about a year ago and apparently thought that he had done his travel duty with that.  When Kate wanted to flit off again he pointed out to her that he had visited eight countries with her.  "But that's just Europe" was her reply. Anyway, latest news is that she is visiting Canada on her own this year.

There are other ways that "Like father like son" emerges.  Two trivial but amusing ways are that we both buy rice bubbles but rarely eat them and we both sit down in an odd way, with the foot of one leg tucked under the other leg.  There is a rather attractive young lady below showing how it's done.  Both Joe and I do it quite unconsciously.  It just seems natural to us.



It so happens that Anne's 39th birthday will come up when she is away this year.  So I offered to take her out for a birthday dinner before she departed.  I took her to a dinner at the Yeronga digger's club.  We mostly go there on a Friday, when they have what must be the best smorgasbord in town.  So I thought that would be as pretty good birthday offering.  This time however we went on a Tuesday, which was quite different.  It was a "two for Tuesday" night.  Which meant that you got two meals for the price of one.  And the place was packed for it.  We were lucky to get a table.  The menu was rather small and basic so the only vaguely interesting thing I could find on it were "Toulouse sausages".  But it turned out that they were quite nice.

Anyway, I also took her to The Phams for breakfast next morning, where she had a Vietnamese omelette, a big and very tasty meal. 

While we were there a mother and a pretty little 10 year old daughter walked in. As soon as the mother lined up to order, the daughter zipped over to the the newspapers, got a "Courier Mail" and started reading it.  The wait was a bit long, however, so as soon as she had taken a good look at the local newspaper, she went over and  got "The Australian" and started reading it.  She was obviously VERY bright for her age.  Her mother had her in a pretty dress and her hair was nicely done so she seemed otherwise quite normal.  I would have LOVED to have her as a daughter.  I have seen many kids in that restaurant but she was the only one ever to display such adult behaviour.  It made my day.

I was an odd one in my childhood too. Most kids have on their bedroom walls posters of sports and movie stars.  I had a big map of Taiwan on my wall, which was big in the news at that time. I actually wrote to Taipei to get that map.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Mrs Possum



One of the more pleasing aspects of Brisbane's older suburbs is that a lot of trees have grown up and that has attracted wildlife.  Scrub turkeys strutting up and down the street are a common sight.  And I once had a magnificent python in my back loo.

But because I have a very luxuriant Mulberry tree right outside my front verandah I occasionally see possums grazing there.  Australian possums are much nicer than American opossums but they are distantly related.  Anyway, our possums are rather bold creatures. They stare you down rather than run away from you.

So today on Saturday night we had an encounter with one.  And it was a Mrs Possum. She was in the middle of my front staircase when I popped out up top and Joe was coincidentally approaching from below.  To have people both in front of her and behind her was too much, however, so she scooted away.

How do I know she was Mrs Possum?  Because she had the most gorgeous baby possum on her back.  We were privileged by her visit.

I have seen lady possums on the tree in front of me in the past.  I have observed her marsupium.



Sunday, January 7, 2018

An interesting dinner



Early last year I initiated dinners with people I remember from my old army unit: 21 Psych.  It was interesting to catch up and hear what others had been up to since the '60s.

So I arranged another dinner tonight.  I was able to get Peter Muir along this time so that was good. I tried to get Peter Ridgewell along as well but I understand he has been very ill.  That reinforces my resolution to put on such dinners annually.  Someone from the unit whom I remember with affection is John French, who is now deceased.  So "do it now" is my resolve for catching up with people.

We were originally going to go to the Chinese restaurant next to the PA hospital at Buranda but they have just gone broke -- so I changed the venue to only a block away, at Zambreros of Buranda, a Mexican restaurant.  Some of the ladies were a bit wary of Mexican chillies so I may go back to Chinese next year.

Old times were of course discussed and even controversial topics like IQ were aired.  I mentioned the well established fact that American blacks are on average a whole standard deviation (15 points) below the white average on IQ and was rightly told that I could get into a lot of trouble these days by saying so. As it happens, however what I said is in fact the official position of the American Psychological Association.  But what scholars can say among themselves may not pass in public of course.

The late Chris Brand was a sad example of that.  Every serious student of ancient history knows that the brilliant civilization of ancient Greece was a pedophilic civilization.  Chris, however, was unwise enough to mention that to one of the newspapers.  Despite having tenure he was fired from his Edinburgh university job over it.  There was such an uproar in the papers that the university didn't have much choice

Anyway, everybody enjoyed the dinner.  Anne had quesadillas and I had a "classic bowl". I shouted the dinner but the total cost was only $88 so it was a small price to pay for good company.


The gathered company, men at the back, Rod Hardaker, Peter Hadgraft, myself and Peter Muir

Two larger photos here and here -- from the camera of Linda Muir, wife of Peter.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

An unusual New Year


I don't usually mark New Year's eve in any way.  I stay at home, eat at home and am always in bed before the fireworks.  Anne however wanted to do something so decided to take another one of her many holidays.  She went up to Binna Burra Lodge for a few nights with some old bushwalking friends.  One of them was an old boyfriend of hers with whom she has often gone bushwalking.  Neither of them are capable of much walking these days but they enjoy what they can of their old bushwalking haunts. I believe that more such outings are planned.

Anne however made it up to me for not being with me on the big night by joining me for dinner on New Years day. We don't normally meet on Mondays.  We went to the Yeronga rissole, which had a very good buffet that night.  The food is always good there and there was such a range that Anne was able to put together for herself an almost entirely seafood plate, which she likes.  I had all sorts, including some quite good gyoza, which is Japanese food.

To drink I had Fourex Gold, which is my usual beer, and for Anne I ordered a glass of Chardonnay.  And there was something unusual about that.  In most pubs and restaurants, if you order wine by the glass, they hand you a glass that is only about a third full  -- which always annoys me.  At the club, however, Anne got a glass that was pretty full.  That will certainly encourage me to go back there.

I noticed a way in which the club had changed over the last couple of years.  The members were once almost entirely white Australians. It was a sort of holdout of the way Australia once was.  This time however, there was a substantial contingent of Chinese.  So they have finally woken up to what good value our  clubs are.  They fitted in perfectly, of course.  Most of the children running around were Chinese -- dressed and behaving indistinguishably from other Australian children. The Chinese are great at fitting in, which is a credit to them.

Then the next night, Tuesday, was one of our usual nights together so we went to the went to the Moreton Bay Sports Club, which is at the top of Anne's street.  It is always pleasant there and the Barramundi we both had for dinner was well cooked and well presented.  They don't have the variety of Yeronga, however.  The male membership there consists almost entirely of elderly white guys with expanded waistlines -- so I fitted in perfectly.

Monday, December 25, 2017

A good Christmas



On Christmas Eve Anne was still recovering somewhat from a minor illness but she got over to my place in reasonable shape.  I had our usual Christmas eve food -- French cutlets -- ready to cook and Anne cooked them nicely. They were rather thicker than usual so I ate only four of them, which is well down for me. I made my usual salad to go with them and added some pickled onions to it.  Anne LOVES pickled onions but they are bad for her (reactions) so I put in only two for each of us. Putting two strong tastes -- vinegar and onions -- together gives a very strong taste indeed.

It reminded me of when Jenny made seafood paella,  Maureen would always have some even though she was allergic to the seafood in it. I remember her once telling me about her reaction the day after -- adding "But it was worth it".  Apparently it's common for people to really like what they are allergic to.

Christmas day was a bit unusual.  Jenny had gone to the trouble of having four kids but not one was in town to celebrate Christmas with her.  And Anne's three kids were away too.  So Anne had her Christmas lunch with some old friends with whom she has had Christmases before and I went to Jenny's place.

It's interesting that Jenny's kids have gone to opposite ends of the earth, Scotland and New Zealand.  And yet both are completely at home -- speaking their native language freely and understanding how things are done in their new country.  It's because we are the descendants of brave British people -- seafarers and settlers who went to the ends of the earth despite the ever-present risk of death in their fragile little wooden ships. So many places on the planet are now home to us.

So there were only three of us at lunch -- Jenny, myself and Nanna.  Nanna was in good form however, depite her 93 years, so it was quite a jolly occasion.

And the opening of the presents had a real highlight -- a sturdy cardboard box all the way from Scotland.  Scotland has always had a place in my heart so presents from Scotland was really special to me.  It was of course from Paul and Susan.  It contained cups with artwork on them done by the kids and some excellent photos of them.  I reproduce below the one of Primrose.  She seems a great kid so I am looking forward to meeting her one day.



As she always does, Jenny went to great trouble with the dinner -- ham, roast chicken and all the trimmings.  The ham was particularly good.

And the dessert was remarkable, a big Pavlova, which is one of my favourites.  Nanna made it, despite her never before in her 93 years having made one.  And it was perfect.  I had two helpings.

Cats

It was very hot in Brisbane on Christmas day -- around 35 Celsius.  So when I got home at about 3pm, I immediately thought of the cats -- cooped up in Joe's flat while he and Kate were away.  I thought they might be suffering heat stress.  As it happened, they seemed to be OK but they must have been uncomfortable in their little fur coats. Humans are the only animal that can take its coat off. So I closed the verandah door, the front (lattice) doors and opened my door.  I thought they would sit in  front of the lattice door as the lattice enables full contact with the air outside.  With typical cat perversity, they didn't do that however.  They were much more interested in wandering around in my apartment.

Anne came over that night and we dined on some of the excellent leftover ham on bread rolls.  We do that every year as it's the only time we seem to get first-rate ham.

After dinner we watched a DVD of a rather peculiar French performance -- by a Norman (Rouen-based) opera company -- of Purcell's opera "Dido and Aeneas".  There was an awful lot of dancing and prancing and leaping about which added nothing to the story so I won't watch it again. If I want to see acrobatics I will go to a circus.  The mezzo who sang Dido --  Vivica Genaux -- was quite a fine looking woman and emoted very strongly.  I thought she would have to be French because of that.  We British types emote only sparingly.  But she was actually born in Alaska!  The words were all sung in English as that was -- for once -- the original language.

Anne thought that the visuals detracted too and suggested that we might enjoy it more if we turned the video off and listened  to the music only. As Purcell's music is excellent, I might just do that.

After we went to bed there was a lot of wind and heavy rain, which we both enjoyed

Friday, December 22, 2017

A busy week


I had some serious surgery yesterday (Thursday) after the events of Tuesday and Wednesday described below.  There was a large line of subcutaneous tumors at the left-hand margin of my face -- stretching from my jawline to my forehead.  And a previous punch biopsy had confirmed that they were SCCs, a nasty cancer type. And they were growing rapidly so had to be got out soonest, even if it was on the threshold of Christmas.

I was a bit unsure whether the surgeon would or could get it all in one go but the procedure I underwent was a same-day Moh's type -- as a day patient at a good private hospital -- so that inspired confidence.  And, in the event, good margins were apparently achieved.  So the procedure went well and I was in no pain even when the local had worn off.  My surgeon costs thousands but for that he delivers very close joinups of the cut surfaces, which leads to very rapid healing.

My second concern was how well such a long excision would take to heal, considering that I mostly sleep on my left -- so I looked like sleeping upon a fresh incision.  I steeled myself, however, to sleep on my back only that night and achieved it.  I also did not have my usual extensive late-night drinkies so took a sleeping tablet to adjust for that.  I thought I had some Temaz around but could not find it so I took a Stilnox.

Stilnox is a bit notorious for weird effects and I was not spared. I was in a strange state for most of the morning afterward and did not really wake up until about noon.

Anyway, as I write this late on Friday night, I feel back to normal already.  The dreaded cancer is gone and I can't even feel that an excision has taken place.  Paying for first-rate plastic surgery is hugely worth it in my view.

Joe is driving to Canberra in the morning for Christmas at Kate's parents' place so tonight I shouted him a  "bon voyage" dinner of a sort that both of us particularly like -- Japanese MOS burgers.  They are unique in my experience

We had our burgers at Sunnybank, which was greatly crowded, overwhelmingly with East Asians, mostly Han.  Joe and I share great respect for the Han so we were very much at ease with that. An oddity was that the MOS burger joint was one of the few that was not busy.  Do Chinese not eat Japanese?  Rely on it.

A small reflection: As an afficianado of hospital rules, I am aware that  the anaesthetist is supposed to come in before the procedure to explain things to the patient and deal with any questions.  Some time after that the proceduralist comes in too for the same purpose and shortly thereafter you are wheeled in to the operating theatre.

On Thursday, however that protocol gave way to the obviously good rapport between the anaesthetist and the surgeon  They both came in together to see me and we had a brief but jolly discussion about a few points.  They obviously knew that I was someone they could talk to easily.  As I am a retired academic, that is one of my privileges.  I am accepted as someone on their level  -- because I am.  Some people complain that their doctors won't talk to them.  They all talk to me.  All men are NOT equal.

So in the operating theatre, I was in the hands of people who were well disposed towards me.  That has got to be a plus.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

A saga ends



The sharers I have living at my place mostly stay for quite a while and we get to know them well. So when they move out we tend to regret seeing them go. The good-humoured Sikh guy in the back room moved out in early October so we were sorry to see him go.  He had been there for 4 years. The guy in the front room has been with me for nearly 30 years.

The back room was a bit run-down, however, so Joe and I decided to renovate it before re-letting it.  In particular, it had an old plastic sink in it that had become very grotty. The sink cabinet was however a very solid one made of real wood so I wanted to preserve that and just get a new sink to go on top of it.  The existing sink was an odd size, however, so that gave us problems.  Eventually we decided to get a new benchtop from Bunnings and drop a caravan sink into it.  We managed to make that work only because of the great talents of Dudley, who even did the tiling around it once the sink was in.  It probably took us a month to get the job done with all the issues involved.

And then we had to get a tenant.  I advertised in both the Brisbane newspaper and on an internet site for finding flatmates.  But it was slow going.  Most of the applicants were on the dole and I didn't want that.  They too frequently get behind on their rent.

But after around two months,  today I finally  let the room -- to a quiet young Brazilian guy.  I think he will work out.  Below are a couple of photos of the room