Thursday, April 25, 2019

Another Easter down -- 2019

I started my Easter a little early this year, on the Sunday before Good Friday -- Palm Sunday, on April 14.  On that evening I hosted a family dinner -- for Joe, myself and brother Christopher.  I host such all-male dinners around 3 times a year. We also had along my friend Graham, who flew up from Victoria for the dinner.  I get him up for each of our dinners so we call him an honorary Ray.

I cooked up a big English curry (mild with sultanas in it) which seemed to go down well. And my usual Seaview Brut champagne washed it down.

After our dinners we have a show and tell.  Christopher is a gun collector and Graham is a sword collector so we always have weaponry to look at and discuss -- which suits a men's meeting.  Graham brought along two British army cavalry swords and Christopher brought along three revolvers.  The revolvers were from the period of the American Wild West (which was wild only in the movies) so were particularly interesting.  The oldest one was a pre-cartridge model. I was interested in acquiring a Gladius replica and Christopher thinks he can get me one.

Graham flies back down South on the Monday after our Sunday dinners so we seem to have developed a tradition of having an early bacon & egg breakfast that morning.  Graham does most of the cooking.  An early breakfast gets him to the airport in plenty of time.

Then on Good Friday I made Anne and myself a non-meat dinner in honor of the day.  It was not very good.  I heated up some vegetarian hamburger patties which were allegedly Moroccan. Best forgotten.

Easter Saturday made up for it, however.  Jenny made us one of her excellent BBQ lunches with beef sausages and home-made kebabs.  I rarely drink during the day so just had ginger beer with the food. Present were Joe, Anne and myself.  Kate was with her family in Canberra

On Easter Sunday, Joe and I had our usual Sunday bacon & egg breakfast at the Yeronga pie shop.  We generally spend an hour or more there discussing politics. Mr Trump is always diverting.

On Easter Monday I breakfasted at the Gold Leaf coffee shop -- which is a tiny place run by some Vietnamese ladies.  Their food is first class.  I had eggs Benedict plus a couple of spring rolls

Today was of course Anzac day and Anne's friends the Moores kindly invited us over for a lunch. Julia made a very good fish cake dinner.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

The saga of the chair -- update

One would think that getting hold of a comfortable office chair would be a simple matter, but it can in fact be a problem. I sit in front of my computer for around 12 hours a day so I am rather aware of the chairs I sit in whilst doing so.

Many years ago at the Rocklea markets I bought a quite simple office chair that had apparently been sold off by some government department.  And we know that governments always buy the best. It is only the mug taxpayer who is paying.

And this chair was very good.  It was upholstered in a fetching shade of maroon and was generally referred to as "the red chair".  And I sat in that chair with the greatest of ease for around 20 years.  It did however over the years become rather grotty so when something in the steel chassis snapped and gave the chair a lean, I decided that it was time to bid the red chair goodbye.  I put it out the front and it disappeared.

That was a great mistake.  I have never since found a chair as good as the red chair.  To replace it I first went to Lifeline to inspect their offering of chairs and found one that seemed good -- costing me about $25.  But it just was not comfortable enough so I looked around suppliers of new office chairs and found that sums of around $1,000 were being asked for a lot of them.  No way!

So I eventually ended up at Officeworks.  You would think that they would have a good range of office chairs on sale and they do -- mostly for around $200 -- made in China.  So I bought one -- a "Bathurst" chair.  And it was really good, just what I wanted. But after about 9 months something came adrift inside it and it developed a distinct lean.  So I took it back.  Officeworks is one of Mr Goyder's tentacles and he seems to have drilled it into all 200,000 of his employees that they must be cheerful, pleasant and helpful at all times.  And they are.  So I had no difficulty at swapping the degraded chair for another one.  But I was not of course going to risk a second Bathurst chair.  So I chose a slightly more up-market one and paid the difference.

But within a year, its casters seized up. They ceased to cast, if that is what casters do.  So instead of the chair rolling it could only be dragged.  That did considerable damage to my polished board floor, which later cost me quite a bit to fix, so I took that chair back too -- and chose yet another one.

And the third chair wasn't bad -- though not as good as the Bathurst chair -- but it too failed eventually.  After 11 months it started refusing to stay up.  I would be sitting in front of my computer typing away and suddenly finding that I was sinking down floorwards whilst doing so.  I could only take so much of that so went back to Officeworks with that chair too.  It was quite a heavy thing so Joe came with me and carried it.  I suspect that he did more than carry the chair for me.  Being tall, taciturn and well-built with short hair, he might have been mistaken for my bodyguard or some such.  He wouldn't have looked like someone you would want to argue with!

Anyway, I was treated with good cheer and came away with another chair of the same model as the one that had sunk.

Unsurprisingly, that chair failed too.  One of its arms broke right off. But this time I had difficulty returning it.  So I wrote to Mr Richard Goyder, CEO of Wesfarmers, who own Officeworks:

24 September, 2017

Dear Mr Goyder,

As a long-term Wesfarmers shareholder, I have always taken a keen interest in the business and have written to you a couple of times before over policy matters.  I have been very impressed by your courteous responses.

I am writing this time over what seems to me to be a surprising refund policy at Officeworks.  As you will be aware, the ACCC recently levied large fines on some retailers over their illegal refund policies.  So I was surprised today when I took in a faulty armchair for a refund to be told that I could get only a credit note, not a cash refund.  My information is that a customer is always entitled to a cash refund for defective goods.

Being a cautious person I paid for an extended 2-year warranty when I bought the chair on 19/10/2015 for $190 and I still have all the relevant paperwork. So when the seat started to fall apart recently, I concluded that I was entitled to a full refund.

So I took it in today and was then told that I had to ring a number to get the return authorized and even then only a credit note would be issued.  As I needed a new chair immediately, I bought another one there and then for cash.  So a credit note would  be useless to me.

Please instruct Officeworks at Woolloongabba to give me a cash refund of $190.  They already have the chair and I have the sales receipt ready for inspection.

Yours faithfully,

Dr John Ray

I emailed that letter on the Sunday night and got a phone call Monday lunch time telling me the cash was waiting for me!

But that chair failed too.  So on 18 April, 2019, Joe and I were back at officeworks with another defective chair.  It was a very good chair but it had started to sink down with me in it.  It would not stay at the right height relative to my desk

The man we spoke to was courteous but I had to press him a little.  In the end I found another chair that seemed good, listed for $159.  He allowed me $99 credit on the returned chair and I agreed to pay the $60 gap.  Watch this space in a year's time!

It's a strange way to do business -- to make chairs that last only about a year

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

What does this mean?

"Its musculoskeletal system was originally adapted for terrestrial bipedal saltation but over its evolution its system has been built for arboreal locomotion"

If you can tell me what it means without googling it I will shout you a curry.

It's an example of scientific text.  Sometimes such text is needed for precision but the above text means something really simple

With my background in Latin I understood it immediately but such a background is rare these days

Words and names from Latin and Greek are very common in scientific text

Here's one name that was a common spelling test when I was a kid.  Very few could remember the spelling of it or even the pronunciation.  It is "ornithorhynchus".  It simply means "bird nose".  Can you guess what it is?

UPDATE: It's a quokka. Saltation is from saltare, the Latin word for "jump". It now climbs instead of jumping