Sunday, November 27, 2011

"Red Pepper" dinners

In my quiet semi-bachelor life I am a regular consumer of microwave dinners. You can get some reasonable ones these days and it beats cooking or going out all the time. Though I also like a Grand Angus from McDonald's occasionally.

A couple of months ago Woolworths started stocking a new line called "Red Pepper" dinners and they were something of a revelation. They offered S.E. Asian dinners of restaurant quality. So I kept a good supply of them in my freezer. The chicken laksa and chicken biriani were particularly good.

But then Woolworths STOPPED stocking them. So when I was on my last packet, I put my magnifiers on and read all the small print on the packet.

I discovered why they were so good. They are made in Thailand! And Thai food is almost always first rate.

I then discovered an email address for the local importer on the packet. So last night I sent him off an email asking if there was anywhere else I could buy them.

Even though it was a Saturday night I got an email back in half an hour from a gentleman with a very Indian-sounding name. He promised that he would speak to Woolworths about it and offer to restock them. I hope he succeeds. Indians know how to do business.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

My will

Yesterday (Thurs) Anne and I had Paul and Susan over for curry on my verandah. Though it was Susan who ordered and picked up the curry -- as she usually does. I just pay for it.

This time however Susan had to leave her baby behind! Matthew was however well looked after as Anne gave him a bottle while Susan was away. Anne has great experience with kids so is very good with Matthew.

Paul was full of beans as usual and we had a good discussion about what conservatism and morality is all about. Both Paul and I are instinctive conservatives but Paul likes to formulate things so we had a good talk about conservatism. What I told him is spelled out at length here.

We eventually got to talk about my will and Paul was fully onboard with what I aim at to achieve with my will. I want him to be Joey's watchdog -- both to advise Joe about spending my legacy and bark at anybody who criticizes Joey's decisions -- and Paul is a natural for that. I have to laugh at the thought of anybody criticizing Joe in Paul's presence: They would get an earful!

We also talked a bit about old times and a few good laughs came out of that.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Viet chicken

On Monday, Jenny had me over to her place so we could discuss my will. She is executor at the moment.

She made us some original Vietnamese lemon chicken for dinner which was exceptionally good -- as it usually is. Another "family" recipe -- nothing like Chinese lemon chicken, good though that can be. And we washed it down with a bottle of J.P. Chenet Sauvignon blanc. French wine is a bit weaker than Oz wine so it is better for drinking and driving.

Jenny's old friend Kim was staying with her but did not take part in the dinner.

We discussed how I wanted my money used after I am gone and there was a harmony of thinking there. I am not putting any formal instructions in my will. I am relying on others being similarly motivated to myself.

Cynics will laugh but my bet is that I would have the last laugh if I were still around.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Some recent baby pix

Suzy with Rara and Dusty

Rara and Dusty

Babe in a basket

Matthew in his baby chair

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Cup day

The 151st race of the Melbourne cup was run today. Cup day is undoubtedly Australia'a greatest day of celebration. Cynics also call it Australia's only honest horse race. It is certainly true that outsiders often "get up" at the Melbourne cup. And so it was today with the favourite not even making it into the top three.

I went into a couple of sweeps but the horses I drew might as well not have existed. Sweeps are the most honest gamble there is as there is no third party to take a "cut". So even an old Presbyterian like me can justify joining in.

Joe was held up from returning to Canberra by the Qantas lockout so he took the opportunity of extending his stay by a few days -- and came and joined me to watch the cup on TV. He had never even heard of sweeps before so I helped improve his education about cup matters.

I did invite Paul to come and watch too but after more than a week of social occasions connected with Vonnie's visit, he felt he had to get back to business. He must have found that hard.

It was of course an amazing race with an incredible finish. The winning horse -- Dunaden, a French entry -- literally won by a nostril. In the days before photo finishes it would have been announced as a tie. The stipes* had to use extreme magnification to separate Dunaden from English horse Red Cadeaux.

The victory lands Dunaden's Qatari owner Sheik Fahad al Thani $3.6 million plus a trophy worth $175,000.

I was mildly surprised that there was no Royalty present -- as the Royal Family are a very horsy lot. Princess Diana attended the 1985 Melbourne cup, for instance. Perhaps the fact that the Queen had just left our shores a few days ago had something to do with no other Royals being present.

But Her Majesty was well represented by her vicereine, our Governor General, Quentin Bryce. She gave a very patriotic speech which pleased me greatly. Australians do have a lot to celebrate -- all founded on the hard work and good sense of our forebears of course. Some of those forebears were my ancestors so I know how hard they worked and what they took on.

In his miserable carping book, Donald Horne said that Australia is a "lucky" country. But luck had nothing to do with it. It is true that Australia has considerable natural resources, but so do Africa and South America -- and it would be a brave soul who would call them lucky. No. Australians today owe their enviable lifestyle to the dogged British and Irish people who settled this country for most of the first 200 years of its recorded history

I didn't tune in early enough to follow the other great race of the day: The "Fashions on the Field" contest. But I caught a bit of it on video. I thought the winner, Sarah Schofield, was an odd choice -- a rather plain outfit -- but what do I know about fashion? She is herself a fashion designer so I guess expertise in such arcane matters won out. There is a video here in which she appears about half way. And a still picture below:

* "stipendiary stewards"