Wednesday, July 18, 2018
My birthday was this month but I have had only three celebrations of it so far. Last Sunday, Joe and I went together to the Dutton Pk. fish shop and took our purchases back to eat on my verandah. Joe enjoyed a beefburger and I had some excellent Barramundi.
Joe had given me earlier that day a bottle of Laphroaig, a single malt from Islay. So after dinner we had a toast in that. I had mine with soda and Joe had it on the rocks. For once he did not have his spirits with Coke. He is a fan of Coke zero and drinks a lot of it.
I forget what we talked about but Mr Trump would have figured largely. Joe and I talk so often -- usually about politics -- that one occasion blurs into another.
Then on Monday, Jenny gave me one of her splendid dinners. It was an old favorite: Vietnamese lemon chicken, quite unlike Chinese lemon chicken. And as always Jenny provided various accompaniments to go with it, rice etc. And for desserts she brought out a big Pavlova, also a favourite of mine. I noticed that Nanna liked it too.
Kate took a lively part in the conversation, with queries of Joe and myself about various aspects of our very conservative thinking. Jenny was a bit scornful of Mr. Trump, which is easily understood, but I think she might not have taken full account of the fact that both her sons are very favourably disposed towards Mr Trump.
There were also quite a few reminiscences of old times, particularly of Joes's toddlerhood. "My beautiful train" got quite a mention.
Then on Tuesday morning the electrician came. It was not part of my birthday but it was nonetheless pleasing to get our dodgy power points and switches replaced. Joe took the morning off to be in on the electrical work so after the electrician had gone Joe and I went to the Phams and had bacon & egg brunches. And, as it happened, Irene was in for breakfast there too. So I introduced her to Joe.
Then on Wednesday, Kate made me a dinner on my verandah of Tacos with beef filling and a few other things. And afterward we had some pudding delivered to our door
This time we talked a lot about penology, with particular reference to domestic violence, Kate's interest. I said that you have to look at violence overall and that there is no other way to stop violence, domestic or otherwise, except keeping the bad guys locked up once you catch them. Kate actually agreed with that. I have written on that at some length recently
We then talked a bit about psychopathy. I mentioned that one of my papers on that topic had been well-received.
And I don't think we mentioned Mr Trump once. Joe and I had however reviewed the Trump/Putin summit that morning.
Sunday, July 8, 2018
Once again four of us gathered on my verandah at 6pm. Graham was up from Victoria -- with my brother, my son and myself making up the numbers. And we didn't mention Mr Trump once! But there were some mentions of generic politics -- i.e. not naming any particular politicians but generalizing about Left and Right.
They all got the usual dish that I cook for such occasions: Savoury mince beef with noodles and veges all cooked up together in my big electric frypan. Thanks to a certain flavour sachet that I use, it all turns out reliably tasty. We also had a good dessert sent along by my brother's wife. It was liquid chocolate with marshmallows etc to dip in it. Unusual but good.
As usual, my brother brought along some militaria from his collection for us look at and talk about. One thing was a WWII German "coal scuttle" steel helmet. It was probably the best of the WWII helmets from most perspectives but it was HEAVY. I guess it was just coincidence but when I put it on my head the old 1950's wooden chair I was sitting on collapsed under me.
Anne used to complain about that chair being wonky so she was clearly right. It was made at a time when the fashion in chairs was moving to tubular steel frames so was not as strongly made as the older wooden chairs -- of which I have some excellent examples. So I will replace it rather than trying to fix it. Anyway, the collapse amused everybody. Lucky there were no Leftists present so I didn't have any sympathy to ward off
My contribution to the "show and tell" was a couple of old daggers, one of which was just a modern Bowie knife, totally unused since I brought it 40 years ago from "Cathay Disposals" in Sydney -- so still shiny. The second dagger looked more impressive but was very rusty -- so Graham kindly offered to work on polishing it up and sharpening it up -- though it was already fairly sharp on both its upper and lower blades despite the rust.
A couple of the other things my brother brought along were also from WWII, a pocket knife and a belt-buckle that both bore the motto Meine Ehre Heisst Treue, so they were artifacts of the Schutz Staffeln. The literal meaning of the motto is "My honour is called trueness", which is pretty obscure in English. I have had various stabs at translating it into idiomatic English but it is not easy. The big difficulty is Treue. I have previously struggled with its translation in connection with my interest in operetta. It is cognate with the English "True" and does have some similarity of meaning but the meaning is wider in German. It means roughly faithfulness, trustworthiness, loyalty. In the popular culture of the German-speaking lands before WWII, blue eyes were seen as a sign of Treue -- You could rely on a person with blue eyes. Blue eyes were described that way in both Im weissen Roessl and Die Lustige Witwe, Viennese operettas.
So after all that what is my favoured translation of the motto? The ADL translates it as ""My Honor Is Loyalty', which is pretty good but I prefer "It's my honour to be known as loyal" or, less literally but more idiomatically, "I am proud to be loyal". The loyalty was of course both military and political, loyalty to the corps and to the national leader (Fuehrer)
I am aware that some people are critical of an interest in militaria, but seeing I am a former Sergeant in the Australian army, I might perhaps be forgiven that interest.
Another interest that has only minority support these days is hunting. The days when Bach could write Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd ("Hunting is the thing I like best") are no more. The opening words of the first soprano aria of the cantata really rub it in: Jagen ist die Lust der Götter ("Hunting is the pleasure of the gods"). So I can only hope that my brother might be forgiven for being a hunter. He is the chairman (No. NOT a chair or a chairperson) of a gun club. So an interest in hunting flows easily from that.
He told us about a recent foray to shoot kangaroos. Kangaroos breed prolifically in their native land and are even seen sometimes in the suburbs (I have seen them), as well as in the vast "Outback". They are therefore a troublesome competitor for feed with cattle and sheep -- two of Australia's major industries. So the Australian government issues permits each year for the culling of around half a million kangaroos nationwide. So hunting kangaroos is a work of national benefit. We all regretted the fact that bureaucracy makes it nigh impossible to save the excellent meat from slaughtered kangaroos for human consumption. It is a wicked waste.
We covered a lot of other topics too. We spoke of Freemasonry, Byzantium and "Greek fire", trial by combat etc. But the highlight of the evening -- something that will be remembered when all else is forgotten -- was my chair collapsing under me!
We finished up at about 9pm
Friday, June 29, 2018
Lunched today with two old friends from my army days -- Rod H. and Peter H. I hosted them at the Sunny Doll -- where we had Bento boxes, which were good, as usual. I think we all ate up most of our rice. I was pleased about that as a lot of people seem not to realize that the rice IS the meal from a Japanese viewpoint. Meat etc. is a garnish.
The conversation ranged widely but because we are all old and falling apart medical matters figured largely. I was pleased to see that Rod walked in without a walking stick. Some healing of some dodgy ligaments has taken place, it appears.
Peter gave us the story of his recent trip to a ham radio convention in America. Most of the story was about the difficulties he had dealing with American airlines and how he overcame them.
I provided a huge dose of cynicism about conventional medical wisdom -- talking about the poor evidence in favour of statins, PSA tests etc. Peter and Rod both seemed pretty appalled when I told them about the replication crisis -- where most repeats of major papers in psychology and medicine were found not to give the same results.
We also mentioned briefly that most forbidden topic of race and IQ, with particular reference to the Queensland test -- something produced by people we know. It was a clever idea but didn't deliver the results hoped for. As we are all old we are a bit out of tune with political correctness. Things that were normal to us in our youth are now taken as deeply wicked. We tend not to agree.
There were only a few people in the restaurant when we arrived at 12 noon and none when we left at about 1:30. They gave us some free samples of watermelon after a while so I took that as a signal that they wanted to shut up shop for the lunch period. Expecting lunchers after 1:30 would have been unrealistic
Thursday, June 28, 2018
Carmen Gorska Putynska, PhD student, School of Civil Engineering, University of Qld
Carmen was featured in the glossy University of Qld. propaganda periodical called "Contact". As a graduate of U.Q. I get it mailed to me.
She was featured as part of an assembly of women students who were doing well: Feminist propaganda, in short.
For once however I found something I liked in it. The picture above first struck me. She has the good looks which are alarmingly common in Polish women.
In addition to my male chauvinist porcine nature, however I was struck by something else. It is in the first line of the article below. How improbable is that? Is it just foolish boasting? I don't think so.
It made me think of her as a kindred spirit, in fact. I did similar things. I taught Senior High school geography when my highest qualification was Junior school geography and I taught honors level High School economics when my highest qualification was university freshman economics. And I got a B in Senior High school Italian after studying it for only 4 months instead of the usual 4 years. So I don't think her claims are impossible at all. Some of us are born lucky.
The article below is obviously truncated so I looked for a longer version of it but could find none. I was however able to fill out a few details
“I started tutoring for $10 an hour at age 14, and by 15 was tutoring students older than me in subjects I hadn’t yet taken myself.”
Carmen is a PhD student studying Self-extinguishment of Cross Laminated Timber and it’s potential uses in large structures.
Carmen obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering, specialized in bridges and underground constructions, in 2013 in Poland, at Technological University of Poznań. Then, she was awarded with the “Erasmus Mundus Scholarship” and accepted in the “International Master of Fire Safety Engineering” program. That opportunity gave her the chance to study in UK, Belgium, and Sweden, offering her the access to the discipline of Fire Safety Engineering.
Carmen didn’t have a traditional tertiary trajectory, after excelling in high school she received a fully funded scholarship to study Civil Engineering at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia.
“I was one of 10 females among 200 males, all the professor were male, and the male students were not really inclusive with the female students. Feeling isolated I was unable to ask for help, worried about being judged, and I completely failed my first year.”
A charming interview with her below:
Friday, June 22, 2018
Have you used that expression? I use it to describe (say) an athletic young woman. But if you Google it you will find it as a description of a lot of things. So where does that phrase come from? I know but seeing nobody else seem to know, I thought I had better put it online.
Back in the 60's, when a lot of people went rather mad (I was there!), there was a washing machine manufacturer in South Australia called Lightburn. Eventually however they got bored with making washing machines and had dreams of making a motor car. And they did -- using their washing machine factory for the purpose. It was called the Lightburn Zeta. It seems to have been inspired by East Germany's Trabant. Maybe Mr Lightburn was a Communist. About 400 of them were made
Any way the Zeta gave the Trabant a run for its money for flimsiness. Though it was at least mainly made of steel rather than the plastic of the Trabant. It was very small and powered by two stroke motors, presumably bought in from some motorbike manufacturer. But it was a very light vehicle so a motorbike motor could push it along.
It's most amazing feature was that it had no reverse gear. To reverse it you had to stop the motor and then start it again. So that gave you four reverse gears. I did tell you this was the 60s!
Anyway, there was really only one good thing about it: The advertising slogan. Somehow their advertising agency had a stroke of inspiration and described the Zeta as everyhing it was not: "Trim Taut & Terrific". And that then took off as a description of many things
Even the Wikipedia entry on the Zeta does not know of its slogan so it is sort of lucky that it has stuck in my aged brain -- probably because I thought it was hilarious from the beginning.
I would add the information to the Wikipedia entry except that they always wipe everything I put up. They have got a whole team of "editors' who seem to spend all their time wiping entries they regard as "unsuitable". I will probably add this post to my personal Wikipedia. My personal Wikipedia has lot of information about operetta that is not elsewhere available in English but it was still not good enough for Wikipedia
A final note: You will find here a description of something that is said to be "Trim Taut & Terrific" but also "small, but perfectly formed". That is a rather weird combination. "Small, but perfectly formed" was originally a description of Alexander the Great -- a Greek King from about 300 BC
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
There is a well-known story in the family about the time when Von went to cook the first meal for herself and her husband Simon. Von hadn't had much experience with cooking so she decided to take a shortcut. She saw on the supermarket shelf a bottle of stuff called "Chicken Tonight". It was advertised a bit at that time so she decided it to use it to create a chicken dinner.
It was a disaster. The meal was so bad that Simon decided there and then that he would have to do all the cooking. And he still does. Von prefers gardening so that was OK with her.
So I have always steered clear of that stuff -- on the grounds that I am a pretty crook cook too. But a little while ago I mentioned the matter to my brother and mentioned that I avoided the stuff. He replied rather sharply that there was nothing wrong with it and he makes it often.
He and I see eye to eye on most things so I had a rethink. Next time I saw the product on sale I bought a bottle. And just recently I used it. I cheated a bit though. I just chopped up two chicken breasts, tossed them into my crockpot (slow cooker) and tipped the "Chicken tonight" gloop in after them. And two hours later, the meal was pretty good. I even drank all the soup at the bottom of the crockpot. Yummy!
Saturday, June 16, 2018
Australia's population is about 5% Asian, mostly Han Chinese. And, as I have often noted, Australia is so racist that it is very common to see about the place little Asian young ladies on the arm of tall Caucasian men. It's the same in America: Little Asian ladies really go for tall Caucasian men. And since neither party is in fact racist the ladies tend to get their man. Finding this little feminine lady being nice to them tends to go down well with the men concerned. When so many Caucasian ladies tend to talk feminism, it must in fact come like a breath of fresh air.
But that creates a puzzle. Asians have been in Australia for a long time now. They started coming when the conservative government of Harold Holt abolished the White Australia policy in 1966. So this fascination has been going on for some time so where are all the Eurasian babies? It is quite rare to see anybody of any age about the place with that mix of ancestry. I now know why.
I was having a pleasant chat to a young female pharmacist recently who was wearing a nameplate which gave her surname as "Ng" (pronounced "Ing"). She spoke good Australian English and did not look Asian so I assumed that her surname must have been that of her husband. So we talked a little about the surname "Ng" and I said "You got your surname from your husband, did you?"
Booboo! No. she said, "My husband is Caucasian. It's my father who is an Ng.He is Chinese.My mother is Caucasian". So there you have it: She was Eurasian but did not look it. Her eyes were a little narrow but were within the Caucasian range of variation. She also told me that she and her husband had a little blue-eyed son, so no-one will ever guess the Asian in his ancestry.
So that's the answer to where all the Eurasians are. They are all around us but mostly we can't tell. Quite a lot of our apparently Caucasian population has in fact been given to us by Chinese mothers!
ADDENDUM: A little more about what is going on in the mixed marriages.
There are a few taller ones but most of the Chinese ladies are quite short -- around 5'. And when they find themselves among what must look to them like an army of giants, they hate it. So they want their children to be tall. But to achieve that, they have to marry a tall man. And there are few tall Chinese men around. So to get themselves a tall husband they have to find a tall Caucasian
And there are quite a lot of Caucasian men around in my burg who are in fact 6' tall or taller. So that would be perfect for what the ladies want. And it is the tallest men they go for. Though they also seem to like men who are both tall and well-built -- footballer types. The footballer might be a bit dim but they figure they have got enough brains for two.
Some years ago I read a story about Chinese ladies on Ivy League campuses in America in which the Chinese ladies were known to go for "Jocks" -- big built Caucasian sportsmen. It was such a phenomenon that the Caucasian ladies felt outdone in getting a big man and referred to the Asian ladies as "The yellow peril". Even after a lot of Googling I have been unable to find that article again so I suspect that it has been erased in the name of political correctness.
So what do all the tall Caucasian ladies do? They want tall men too. A lady HATES having a man shorter than her. But they mostly miss out. The Chinese ladies have out-competed them. And they hate seeing a tall man with a short lady on his arm. They see the lady as stealing one of THEIR men.
So what about the Chinese men who are spurned by Chinese ladies? Sometimes they just send back to relatives in China to find themselves a bride but there is also another possibility. It's not very common but some Caucasian ladies like the politeness and patience of the Chinese men. So you do occasionally see the combination of a Caucasian lady with a Chinese man.
On one occasion I saw a remarkably attractive Caucasian lady going out with a fairly ordinary-looking Chinese man. I think I know what happened there. The lady was so attractive that all the men wanted to rush her in to bed. The Chinese man was the only one who had patience. And she wanted that.
And last of all, where do short men fit into the picture? As they themselves often complain, they are invisible. Ladies look right over their heads. And that does of course steam them up. So they too want a taller partner so that their children will not suffer such indignities. So they go all out to get a tall woman. She might be skinny and gawky and be of limited attractiveness generally but they will have her. As long as she has got long legs. Anything for tall sons! So any tall lady will never lack a dapper suitor -- as long as she can cop a small one.
I remember an amusing instance of such a trade. A very feisty and quite attactive lady I know had teamed up with a successful barrister and she was crowing slightly to one of her friends about that. The friend said: "but isn't he a bit short?". The feisty lady replied: "He is 6 feet tall when he is standing on his wallet!" And so it goes.
We must not take East Asian ancestry as totally homogeneous. There are many nations there with their own histories. So my generalization above about the invisibility of Eurasians is undoubtedly too sweeping. Some Eurasians do look rather Asian and that could reflect a different ancestry, ancestry from Asia but from a different part of Asia.
Another fact that very strongly points to different Asian ancestry is the fact there are quite a few people in the Caucasian population who have no traceable Asian ancestry but who have semi-Asian features. I know of several among my personal acquaintances and friends. And they pass those features on to their children. They do not die out. So their Asian genes are as persistent as equivalent genes in other Asians are recessive.
A possible source of more persistent genes is Mongolia. At one stage in history the Mongols conquered China and ran an empire there for several centuries,
So it's possible that the Mongolian genes for appearance (high cheekbones, very narrow eyes, sallow skin) are persistent but the Han Chinese genes are not. Mongolia is a cold dark place to the North of China where people are animal herders rather than farmers so maybe that had some effect on the evolution of the eyes which did not take off in China
So the combination of influences -- persistent Mongolian genes plus Caucasian genes -- does produce a person with some degree of Asian appearance
Below are two pictures that show you what I mean. Both are of Franceska Hung, who has just won a Miss Australia competition. Her father is Chinese and her mother Caucasian. She could be any well-tanned Australian. Her eyes do not stand out as Asian.
Monday, May 28, 2018
Jenny had her 39th birthday on Sunday. I shouted a lunch. We went to the dosa joint for the lunch but they now do not open on Sunday. I should have booked. But "The Little Green Room" next door was open so we went there. They had gluten-free so Jenny could go there. It was run by a polite Indian man, possibly a Punjabi. I had an Indian version of fritters -- corn and zucchini fritters. They were a bit dry for my taste but the various additives on the plate -- bacon, avocado etc -- were good.
From their card you might get the impression that they sell coffee
Joe had forgotten the occasion but Jenny got Kate on the phone to let them know where we were. Joe was not answering his own phone as usual. They were not that far away so arrived well in time for us to order. Nanna was in good form.
I showed everyone my miracle Chinese watch and I talked mostly to Joe -- about bitcoin and such things. The Green Room had a few interesting things on their menu and apparently have a significant breakfast trade -- as they open at 6am! The prices were OK -- averaging $15 for a meal and $5 for a drink.
I normally have a hamburger dinner with Joe on Sunday night but after the lunch we were both feeling a bit full so on this occasion we just had at home a bowl of Streets Blue Ribbon each for our dinner. For some unknown reason I tend not to have Street's Golden Gaytime in my freezer
Friday, May 25, 2018
At a private party Prince Charles reportedly ended his speech saying: "My darling old Harry, I’m so happy for you."
Now why would a father call his son "old"?
It's not an unprecedented usage. When my late sister Jack left her husband for another woman, her husband, Gary, and she remained on very good terms. That lasted all her life. He was at her bedside when she died of breast cancer a few years ago. A truly lasting and affectionate friendship. Better than many marriages. She kept his surname too. And Gary would often refer to her as "old Jack", although they were about the same age.
So it is clearly an affectionate usage but is there more to it? I think there is and I am open to suggestions about it. I think it is respectful too. It shows a respect for the other person's competence and individuality.
The Cockney expression "old cock" might also have some of that meaning, I think. Amusing if a Royal Prince got the expression off Cockneys
Wednesday, May 23, 2018
I heve blogged previously about why people wear wrist-watches these days. The time is right there on your cellphone so why do you need anything more?
I discovered that for some people the watch you wear is somehow related to your prestige. Unless you have a watch that costs at least $1,000 you are a nobody. An expensive watch marks you out as a man who is good with money. I would have thought the opposite: A man who spends his money on expensive trinkets is NOT good with money.
Anyway, I thought it might be a good idea for me to buy a nice-looking watch. Perhaps there is some advantage at having the time on your wrist as well as in your pocket. So I bought one.
And I have just discovered that my watch is a champion among watches. I inadvertently left it in my washing. So it went through both a washing machine sequence AND a tumble-dryer sequence. So it was ratshit after that, right?
Far from it, it was not only still going but it even still kept perfect time. So what exactly was this paragon of watches:
Place of purchase: Target
Place of manufacture: China
Cost to me: $15.
Makes you think, doesn't it?
There is no brand on the watch. It simply says "Quartz". Watches as a commodity!
I have blogged briefly on my watch previously
Sunday, May 20, 2018
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 young 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 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. It was supposed to last 6 minutes but in a rather good demonstration of black ego he performed for 17 minutes. 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?
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
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 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
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
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 Highland 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
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
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:
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
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.
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
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!
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
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
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.