Sunday, May 26, 2013

Jenny's birthday

I hosted a small dinner in celebration of Jenny's birthday this evening.  And no-one mentioned which birthday it was!  The idea was that Jenny would celebrate along with the two of her children left in Brisbane but with the addition of spouses etc, there were 7 adults at table and 3 toddlers.

At Jenny's request we had the dinner at Montezuma's Mexican, which is a very popular venue for families.

I bought along a present for Jenny which I knew she would love -- a complete hamper of all of Dick Smith's foods.  And she did visibly enjoy opening it and inspecting the loot.

The talk was of course mainly about kids but my mention of Tom Waterhouse got approval.  The ladies clearly like Tom's looks.

Tom Waterhouse

After the dinner we adjourned to Jenny's place for coffee and cutting the cake.  Susan made the cake.  It was a a bit different but very good.  It was covered in strawberry slices.

I got a good cuddle from Sahara there -- which was a nice change.  She was afraid of me for a long time but now she is three and a half I seem to be in her good books.  Sahara is very pretty with her pronounced Nordic looks and Suz had done her hair in plaits, which I have always thought is the most attractive way to present blonde hair.

Dusty was as usual good as gold but he did have fun at one stage by having a screaming contest with Matthew.  They are roughly the same age.

Sahara and Dusty

Jenny with her birthday cake

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

FIVE mothers!

Jenny postponed her Mothers' day celebrations for a week and it certainly turned out to be a Mothers' day last Sunday.  The five mothers present were:  Jenny, Nanna, Susan, Suzy and Anne.  In the circumstances much of the talk was about babies and children but I take part in that too so the conversation flowed.

And the three toddlers present:  Matthew, Dusty and Sahara, were a lot of fun

We had the lunch on Jenny's back deck and I supplied some of the food.  The weather was a typically fine Brisbane winter's day and Paul expressed particular appreciation of that.

Paul has had some problems with both his business and his investments lately so he and I spent a fair bit of time talking about that.  He is thinking of letting out all his properties here and moving to NZ.

The Greens are responsible for a lot of Paul's investment losses so the Green/Left in Australian politics generally came in for a lot of excoriation.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A courteous man

Two bits of background are needed for this story.

1). I admire successful people.  I have, for instance, always admired Bill Gates  -- even when he was the bete noir for most computer users.  That he can make a vast computer program like Windows work most of the time contrasts with the repeated failures by big businesses and government agencies to get their  programs working at all.  The British health service, for instance, spent close to 20 BILLION dollars to trying get a health records system working for their hospitals but eventually had to write it off. And here in Queensland the Health Dept. has spent years trying to get working a program that just does their PAYROLL.  It's still not working and is projected to end up costing over a billion dollars.

And other successful people -- such as super-bookie Tom Waterhouse and retail boss extraordinaire, Richard Goyder I admire too.  Goyder has come from nowhere to run Bunnings Hardware, Officeworks, Coles supermarkets, chainstores K-Mart and Target plus a couple of coal mines and lots of other stuff.

Richard Goyder

And admiring success is part of the American Dream.  Americans traditionally see success as a promise of what is possible for themselves rather than as something to be envied.  I am not American and most of my dreams were fulfilled years ago  -- with one large exception that is now unattainable.  But I still admire rather than envy success.

Leftists, by contrast, hate success in others. As that poisonous old Leftist Gore Vidal once said:  "Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little".

2).  With all the blogging I do you might be forgiven for thinking that I have no time to write letters.  But I do: Perhaps one a fortnight on average.  Being a bit deaf I write letters rather than make phone calls and being a customer of Telstra is good cause for LOTS of letters.  Getting Telstra services to work is no joke.

But as well as letters of complaint, I also sometimes write letters of advice -- and that is where we come to the point of this post.  I am a shareholder in Mr Goyder's company (Wesfarmers) and I am also a repeat customer of Target -- which is currently the most underperforming arm of Mr Goyder's company.

So I sent him a letter offering my observations of where Target was going wrong and suggesting some quite specific avenues for improvement.

Yesterday I got, by way of a reply to my letter, the courtesy of a handwritten note from Mr Goyder in which he said, inter alia,  "Your comments are spot on".  And he went on to say that they are already working on implementing the ideas concerned.

I was greatly pleased.

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Mothers' Day with three mothers!

At her request, Jenny's Mothers' Day celebrations were postponed to next weekend.  So I joined Anne for her Mothers' Day at the place of one of her sons -- Warren -- a purveyor of  shiny trinkets to the gentry.  But Danish trinkets so that's different

Present were 2 other mothers:  The wife of her son Byron and Byron's mother in law:  Two very cheerful and congenial ladies of Dutch origin.  It was a morning tea so I supplied a Schwarzwalderkirschentorte.  It amuses me the way Germans run lots of words together to make one.  We say:  "Black Forest Cherry Cake".  That cake is a great favorite of mine so I bought it off a cakeshop the day before. Scones with Jam and cream also arrived for the party and were delicious.

Also present were Ethan and Koen, young sons of Byron and Bonnie.  They got a lot of attention. Koen is a Dutch name.  There seem to be Dutch people everywhere in my social/family circle.  Maybe it's not a coincidence.  A Dutchman once told me that I would make a good Dutchman.

The conversation flowed but I can't remember a single thing we talked about.  I am bad that way.  But it was a very pleasant and relaxing time.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

More dosas

Susan is very keen on dosas at the moment.  And as the food preferences of pregnant ladies have to be respected, I shouted her, Paul and Matthew a dosa lunch, with an adjournment to my sitting room afterwards.  Paul seems to like the atmosphere of my sitting room.

Paul is a bit down in the dumps at the moment after having made a big loss on mining shares so the lunch helped brighten him up a bit too.  He actually feels quite chastened by his losses and is now strongly impressed by how much unpredictability and unknowability there is in life.  He started out conservative and his own experiences have reinforced that.  Leftists, of course, think that they know it all.

We discussed hybrid cars, Italy and the strange ways of the English.  I pointed out the large class gap between the English who go to Spain for holidays and retirement and the English who go to Tuscany.

I have recently been reading Kate Fox's book on the English so passed on a few things that she had reminded me of. "Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour" is, I think,  the funniest book I have ever read.  It repeatedly has me in tears of laughter.  As an Australian who knows the English well, I can recognize the truth of her observations without being embarrassed by them.  And there is one sentence from her book that sums up the English well: "Everything is embarrassing".

During the course of the discussions, I think we agreed on a name for the forthcoming daughter, though Paul is keeping his options open at this stage. I have been recommending names for the in utero daughter  that would suit the upper levels of English society.

Susan is a very crafty lady so was making little colourful crafty things while we were talking. But she was still able to take full part in the conversation at the same time.

Matthew spent a lot of time with balloons again and was a bit upset when he punted one right out the window at my place.

We talked briefly about nursery rhymes.  I mentioned that nursery rhymes deal with death rather a lot and can sound rather ghastly to modern ears  -- but that trying to shield kids from all that is a big mistake.  It turns out that Susan has been studying nursery rhymes and traditional children's stories (Die Gebrueder Grimm, for instance) rather a lot recently so heartily agreed with me.  So Susan's children will get a good dose of traditional culture in due course.

Susan is a bit fussy about what she will drink.  Apparently at home she and Paul mostly drink milk.  Joe is a milk fiend too and I like milk so that is a bit of a coincidence.  Anyway, today I found something that Susan will drink at my place.  I have recently started to use one of those water-filtering jugs to give me good mixer water for my gin and Susan was happy to drink purified water from that.

So it was a very relaxed and pleasant lunch and afternoon with quite a lot of laughs amid more serious dicussions about money etc.

A crafty creation by Susan