Saturday, December 25, 2010
My Christmas started on Christmas eve with the usual big family gathering. We all get together for a big dinner plus present-giving on Christmas eve and then there are smaller gatherings on Christmas day.
Seeing that Christmas eve gatherings are more a European custom than a British one, it was decided that there would be an Italian theme this year. Tracy's Simon was our host again and also our cook. He is a very good cook and this time turned out some magnificent lasagnas for us. There were also starters in the form of Prosciutto ham etc.
Quite often at our Christmas dinners we have a visitor or two -- usually someone who would not otherwise have a family Christmas. This time Simon invited along a queer couple who are friends of his. Leftists would probably be surprised to find a military man with homosexual friends but Simon is British born and bred and acceptance of homosexuals is very advanced there.
In fact it used to be said of British "Public" (meaning private) schools that homosexuality was not so much condoned there as compulsory.
I was sitting next to Vonnie's Simon at the dinner table and he and I had quite a good chat about a few things -- mainly New Zealand, where he hails from. He and Von are moving to NZ soon. Simon is the strong silent type so I wonder if Tracy had noticed that I do chat a bit to Simon and deliberately placed me next to him. I also had quite a bit of conversation with Von about her new baby and plans for New Zealand etc.
After dinner we had our usual game of getting and exchanging random presents. That is always a raucous occasion with lots of people shouting advice. It gets everyone interacting energetically so is good fun.
After that we each got our "Secret Santa" presents.
The babies were a big feature of the night with three of them there -- including Von's recently-born Hannah. Hannah is very placid so she got passed around like a parcel all night. And Paul announced that he and Susan are having a baby too. Sue is 5 weeks pregnant.
As usual, most of us were casually-dressed for the occasion but Susan and Tracy both glammed up so that was nice to see.
Joe had good news: He has now been accepted into a Ph.D. course in Mathematics at ANU. He even gets a new scholarship to go with it.
It's very rainy here at the moment so the drive home at night through the rain in my Humber was no picnic. The visiblity was poor so I was in fear of crashing the car throughout the drive. Quite nerve-racking.
And today I was at one of the smaller lunches that various family members put on. Jenny had me, Joe, Nanna and Pam at her place. She cooked up a very traditional lunch consisting of many things but with turkey and ham being the main features. The ginger-glazed ham was particularly good.
And Anne came over this evening with plans to stay for a couple of days. We had leftover ham and mustard sandwiches for tea, something I often do on Christmas night.
Anne stayed on at my place for the rest of the 4 day Christmas break -- cooking me some excellent breakfasts and dinners -- which undoubtedly saved me from starvation, considering that my usual providers were closed for the break.
Memorably, we had HAGGIS one night, which was so good that I overate somewhat, something I rarely do. It was one left over in my freezer from my last Burns night -- which I had got from "Syd's pie shop". Syd is a brilliant cook.
Monday, December 20, 2010
A few months ago, the waterpump on my 1963 Humber failed -- and failed so badly as to be unrepairable. Then began the search for a replacement. No new ones were available anywhere and all the secondhand ones were nearly as bad as the one that failed.
After several months of hoping that the main supplier of Humber parts would turn up a usable secondhand one, I was feeling pretty hopeless about the matter. So I tried my last hope. I rang the mechanic associated with the local Humber club and asked him if perchance he had one.
He did not but said to bring out the old one and he would see what he could do. He is a very clever man so what he did was take parts from my old pump plus a couple of other failed pumps he had saved and put together what was virtually one brand new waterpump!
Dieter was the one who had been hunting for a replacement waterpump on my behalf so I took the "new" one straight around to him and said: "Have a look at this". So we both stood there for a few minutes staring in admiration at this shiny new carpart. Anyone watching would have thought that we were rather mad but if they knew how this perfect solution to a long quest had suddenly emerged, they would understand.
The Humber is now back on the road as good as ever.
Monday, December 13, 2010
Both Paul and Joe enjoyed the last educational night I put on for them (See 27 Sept.) so I arranged another one. This time I discussed the basics of politics, starting out with "What is a conservative?" I pointed out that defining conservatism as "preference for the status quo" was propaganda of the shallowest kind since all governments -- Left or Right -- busily legislate away to change various things. NEITHER side of politics is happy with the status quo and even BIG changes (e.g. the Reagan/Thatcher changes) can emanate from political conservatives.
But if a wish for change does not differentiate Left and Right, what does? Left and Right want DIFFERENT changes so what drives those different wishes? I said that we have to go down to the psychological level to understand that. I pointed out that Leftists are basically angry people, angry with "the system" -- i.e. with very basic things in the world about them. Conservatives on the other hand are merely dissatisfied with some aspects of it and, although they may get emotional about some specific things on occasions (e.g. abortion) they are not pervasively angry with the world about them. They are basically happy people.
And the greater emotionality of the Left explains their almost invariably destructive policies. Anger is not a good frame of mind in which to make well-balanced policy decisions. And I went on to trace how the anger leads to a belief in big government and how conservatives advocate individual liberties in order to limit the damage that big government does.
I also pointed out that Leftist leaders are sometimes psychopathic rather than angry (e.g. Barack Obama) so are simply driven by a yen for power. They will say anything that sounds good and the large and unrealistic promises that Leftists commonly make do tend to sound good at the time. And psychopaths live in the present with no thought for the adverse reactions of people when the promises are not delivered -- as Americans reacted in the November 2010 mid-term Congressional elections.
So the discussion was an attempt to provide a foundation to an understanding of all politics. I have of course expanded greatly on the very brief outline above here.
To get the evening underway we got curries from my usual Indian restaurant and discussed family matters etc while we were eating. It was only after the dishes had been cleared away that we got on to politics. As usual, I was pretty hoarse after a couple of hours so at that point we went on to desserts. Both Anne and Sue brought along some good stuff so that ended the evening well.
The photo above was taken by Paul's Sue so she is not in it.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
A first birthday celebration today for Saharah, daughter of Suz and Russell. Photos below by Paul's Susan, definitely the best-looking photographer in Brisbane. She takes good photos too. I even don't look too bad in the one immediately below! And that takes some doing. The next photo is of the proud parents with the babe.
The do was held in a Forest Park near where Paul lives. Given the very variable weather at the moment, we were fortunate to have a big open-sided shed to shelter us. But being among all the trees was very pleasant.
There was a big turnout for the occasion and Tracy's Simon even brought the family dog! Very English. Von couldn't come of course, after having had a C-section, just a couple of days ago.
In my usual way, I spent most of the time talking secret men's business with Paul and Joe. I gave them a good run-down on just what IQ is and what the evidence about it shows. I talked a bit to Joe about how best to get by in academe but as usual he had it all pretty well figured out anyway.
Friday, December 3, 2010
On Thursday night Anne and I went up to Mater Mother's hospital to see Vonnie's new baby, Hannah Ashley M**
One could already see that little Hannah is going to be as good looking as her mother.
There were various other family members there of course but I got to have a good chat with Von about her choice of name for her babe. I congratulated her on choosing a Biblical name
Von was in her usual good spirits. You would not think that she had just had a Caesarian. The most exhausted person present was probably her husband Simon. He actually witnessed the C-section. Glad it was him and not me!
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
And I'm "all shook up", as Elvis Presley used to say.
As most readers of my blogs will be well aware, there are a lot of America-haters in America. The further Left you go, the more of them you meet. Even low-lifes like the Palestinians are seen as better than America by some Americans.
So it should be no surprise that there are a lot of America-haters in other countries too. And Australia is one such country.
I fly various flags from the flagpole in front of my house, depending on what is happening at the time. Last Thanksgiving, I ran up Old Glory in honour of that occasion. When I run up a flag, however, I tend to leave it there until something else crops up. So Old Glory was still flying at midnight on Monday.
Some young bigot didn't like that, however, so at midnight on Monday dumped a big rubbish bin full of domestic rubbish in my driveway. When I went out to see what the noise was, he went into a rant about what a dreadful place America is and what a bad person I must be to fly the American flag. He then strolled off down the street with his empty garbage bin.
Our bigot was not too bright, however. Among his garbage was something that probably identified him so I spent most of the next morning endeavouring to interest the police in what they saw as a trivial matter. I did manage to get them moving so I await developments.
If they catch him, I will try to have him prosecuted under State hate crime laws. That could be interesting. Such laws are very rarely used here but to have them used against a genuine hate crime would be good.
On Tuesday afternoon I put some of the rubbish in my bins and got the council to clean up that part of the rubbish that was on the footpath
And some time on Tuesday night one of my wheelie bins disappeared completely -- contents and all! Did the nut who did the dumping realize that he had left identifying information in his rubbish and come back to retrieve it? If so he failed, as the police have it now.
Just after 7pm on Saturday night (4th) I observed 3 police cars in the St just around the corner from my street. As I passed by, I observed the police hustling out of one of the houses there someone who appeared to be the garbage dumper. The police have not contacted me about it so far (Wed. 8th) but most likely the offender has made admissions and is at present going through the court system.