Old folk at lunch

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

A non-Mother's day weekend


My mother is deceased so I was uninvolved with the festivities.  But things happened anyway.

Anne came over on Friday with a firm request for Japanese food so we repaired to the Sunny Doll.  I had omurice as I often do and Anne had three courses: Tempura vegetables, Gyoza and Yakitori lamb.  I did "help" with all 3 of her courses.  The restaurant is next door to Woolworths so we afterwards went looking for things we "needed" there. Anne put a packet of white tea -- whatever that might be --  into my shopping basket and we also got some Pancetta.

Then on Saturday morning we filled up my $8 Aldi thermos and went in the Toyota to Muzza's to get pies.  I got steak, tomato and onion as I usually do and Anne ordered steak & mushroom.  We then took pies and thermos to Orleigh Park for a breakfast beside the river.  It was raining a bit but we found a shelter.  Rather surprisingly, the thermos worked well enough.  I once had a thermos that was actually made by Thermos!  Can't remember what happened to it

On Saturday night the Pancetta came into its own.  I used it as a base for some yummy sandwiches. I make a good sandwich so Anne chose that for supper.

Sunday morning was a bit different.  Joe could not join me for breakfast as he was shouting his mother a breakfast.  I suppose I could have come along but I thought they deserved some interrupted mother-son chats on mother's day. So I went into Stones Corner for breakfast instead.  I had a Tandoori chicken bagel, which was good but surprisingly large. That night, however, Joe and I together dined at Guzman y Gomez -- on Burritos.

Then on Monday night I shouted another Nando's visit, with Jenny and coming along but without Kate as she had to work late.  Jenny and Joe had a lot of discussion about Joe's present search for a new job.  She warned him about various pitfalls in job advertisements.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Wine talk


Wine talk is a lot of fun.  It describes things that mostly reside in the talker's imagination.  Dan Murphy's have an advertisement that describes a wine originating in the Adelaide hills as follows:

Picked at night to preserve the nose of tropical fruit flavours of passionfruit, guava and pineapple with classic gooseberry for good measure. The grapefruit and citrus palate is fresh and lively with a clean finish. The hint is in the name as this is a perfect wine for a light lunch or al fresco dining.

Tropical fruit in Adelaide?  Pineapples and Guavas?  I ate a lot of guavas in my tropical childhood but I have  never seen them anywhere South of the tropics.  I am slightly surprised that the writer has even heard of Guavas.  I can still taste them when I think about it.  It is certainly a very pleasant  taste but unlike any other. Unlike the wine writer, I won't presume to describe it


Monday, May 8, 2017

Secret men's business and a last supper



Anne came over on Friday and we had one of Muzza's excellent family steak pies for dinner, with salad.

Then on Saturday morning we set off for a picnic breakfast.  I made chicken & mayonnaise sandwiches, filled up the thermos and we Humbered out to Wynnum.  Win with Wynnum!  Before we left I said there was no need to take picnic things as I keep a picnic basket permanently in the car.  And I do.  In the Toyota.  But we arrived at Wynnum in the Humber.  Embarrassment! But the sandwiches went down well. I make a good sandwich! And it was nice sitting beside the seaside in one of the shelters at Wynnum North.  To make up for the missing tea, I took Anne to the Phams for coffee and cakes -- where we had some excellent apple and apricot crumble.

Then Sunday night was secret men's business again.  I had Jason over for dinner. And Joe came too. I cooked us up one of my versions of chili con carne which turned out quite well.  I used my secret ingredient:  A Masterfoods flavour sachet!  I probably put a bit too much water in with the meat and beans so there was quite a lot of juice left in the pan when dinner was over.  So I poured that off into a bowl and put it in the fridge.  So it became a very tasty Gazpacho (cold soup).

Then after dinner on the verandah we cleared the dishes away and out came the computers instead. We brought out my old XP machine and an Amiga 500. Joe had bought a card for the XP which enabled file transfers between an IBM and an Amiga hard drive. There are not many Amiga hard drives around but I got a 50 meg one years ago and filled it up with games and other Amiga software.

So the task of the day was to get the new card working.  It took some doing but Jason was a tower of strength in the matter, as he always is in computer matters.  So he and Joe did get the new system working.  Files were transferred! Some other problems did arise however so another night of secret men's business is on the cards.  Neither Anne nor Kate came to the dinner part of the evening, though they were invited. Being shooed away after the dinner in favour of computers would not have been good for female self-esteem.  Kate and I are agreed that computers are Joe's first love so she is a Trojan to cope with that.

Then on Monday night was a sort of last supper for Suz and Russell.  They have packed up their house ready for their emigration to the shaky isles so are spending  the time between now and when they fly out staying for a few days with various friends.  On Monday they were staying at Jenny's place.  So for dinner that night, Jenny and I decided to make it a champagne and pizza occasion for the emigrants plus Joe, myself and Kate.

We had quite a jolly time with lively talk about all sorts of things plus some fun photo taking.  Dusty and Sahara were pretty wound up so I had a bit of fun  playing with them.  Kate very patiently let Sahara play with her hair. So it was a good farewell dinner.



Monday, May 1, 2017

A busy weekend


I had some big bits of chicken schnitzel that I had got off Woolworths which had been done with some sort of savoury crumbs -- so I was interested to try them.  So when Anne came over on Friday night (28th), I got her to fry them up.  I supplied a basic salad and bread rolls.  And the "enhanced" crumbs were in fact quite good.  We had a bottle of "Dopf" Alsatian wine to go with them.

Anne stayed over but because we were going to a lunch later in the day we had a light breakfast at home the next day -- croissants plus leftover salad from the night before.  I am rather eccentric in what I put on croissants so this time I opened a bottle of old-time Peck's Anchovette.  It still tasted good.  Anne had some French blackberry jam on hers.

Then at 11am Joe drove us all over to Suzs's place for a farewell lunch.  Suz and Russ emigrate to NZ soon.  There were plenty of dips on the table and I contributed a small but very fruity fruit cake.  I sampled the dips extensively.  I talked to Russ about how cold he would find it in Invercargill but he was resigned to it.  They both have good job prospects there, apparently.  For lunch Russ cooked us up some excellent sausages on his big Italian BBQ, as he usually does.

George and Jenny were late arrivals and I had quite of lot of chats with George.  He always has something interesting to say. George is a civil engineer, in both senses of the term "civil" and he told us things about his work that were surprising -- like the problem of an undotted line on a road. I was also impressed to hear that one of his daughters has just completed her Ph.D. studies -- in taxonomy, of all things.  I would have imagined that 99% of taxonomy was old history now.  No.  Taxonomy has nothing to do with either taxis or tax.

After a big lunch, Anne and I felt like something a bit light for supper so we got out some more Moroccan vegie burger patties from my freezer and I cut up an onion to have with them. Anne fried both up and with a slice of bread they made quite a good simple meal.

Then on Sunday morning, Joe and I had our usual Sunday brunch at the pie shop together, and for around 2 hours we talked solid politics -- with particular enjoyment of Mr Trump, of course. Wotta guy!  He is the ultimate norm violator.

And on Monday night I shouted Joe and Kate a dinner at Nando's, a place Joe likes.  They had the paella and I had half a chicken and chips. We discussed jobs a bit as Kate has just got a good one and Joe has handed in his resignation from his present job. Joe gets a lot of attention from recruiters because of his high  IT skills and it looks like his next job might be at a much increased salary.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

An interesting Sunday


First order of the day was a lunch for Suz's birthday held at Suz and Russell's place and catered by Jenny.  I was uncomfortable with Jenny bearing the full cost of the catering so I gave her some money in advance to help with that.

Joe was on his way back from a job in China at the time of the lunch so could not attend.  He arrived at the airport at 2pm. So Jenny picked up Kate and me from our place and drove us and Nanna out to Mt. Cotton.

Jenny had catered very well and included some South African sosaties in the lunch, which was much appreciated by me.  She also did a cheese board afterwards.  Russell of course cooked up all the kebabs and sausages on his big BBQ.  He does that well.

I spent most of the time talking to Ken. We of course talked about Mr Trump and I predicted that Mr Trump will mount an all-out conventional attack on all North Korean military facilities.  I also mentioned to Ken that I was intending to do a bit of cruising to please Anne, who is very keen on travel.  So I asked Ken for all his cruise ship hints.  He has done heaps of cruising so gave me a lot of useful hints and really put me in the picture.

Jenny delivered us back to my place at 5 to 3, which was just in time for the arrival of a guest: Graham R. He arrived 5 minutes later.

I had arranged to cook a Sunday dinner that night for Joe and my brother Christopher partly because I felt a bit bad that I rarely see my brother even though he lives only ten minutes drive away.  He is the perfect brother and shares most of my political views.  We both enjoy Mr Trump greatly. And having arranged that, I also saw it as a good opportunity for Joe and Christopher to get to see more of one another.  So a Sunday date that suited both Joe and Christopher was arranged.

Noting that it would be a meeting of three very conservative people, it occurred to me that the other person I know who is in a similar ideological space should join us.  So I emailed Graham down in Victoria that I would shout him the airfare if he could make it to our dinner.  Fortunately he could make it. He flew from Melbourne to Brisbane for a dinner!  So it was he who arrived at 3pm. Joe was still a bit jet-lagged so joined us at 6pm for the dinner but retired early. I cooked savoury mince and noodles for us all.

I made the dinner for men only as women often get together over ladies' lunches etc so I thought a men-only dinner might balance that.  The conversations in mixed sex gatherings tend to be different from those in single sex gatherings so I thought there should be provision for both.  So I proclaimed the dinner to be about "secret men's business", in a nod to Aboriginal customs.

It turned out that Graham actually had more in common with Christopher than he did with me.  Both have been very keen martial arts exponents in their day so had a lot to say about that.  We  agreed that martial arts people are probably mostly conservative.  So the conversation stretched well beyond Mr Trump, though his possible moves in North Korea were of course discussed. Another thing we discussed a lot was the old days. Old people do a lot of that and even though he is a mere youth in his '50s Graham had some interesting things to say about that.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Wotta day Tuesday was



At breakfast time around 9:30 I popped into the local medical practice to see if the patholgy report on my ankle that I had asked for last week had arrived.  It had so I arranged for it to be copied to my specialist.

Joe had arrived from Canberra late the night before looking bleary but he must have got a good night's sleep because he didn't pop out until around 10:30am.

I had my appointment with the specialist at 11:30 and he gave me the joyous news that I had defeated the pseudomonas in the wound on my ankle. So gradual healing will now take place.  Pseudomonas does however sometimes come back so I will be watching for that.

My good immune system would have contributed to the eradication of the bacterium.  Some people cannot defeat it and have to have their limbs cut off to stop it spreading.  I was not looking forward to that possibility.  I am rather attached to my left leg, even if it is a bit swollen at the moment.

To celebrate the good news I went to Muzza's pies in Coorparoo and bought myself a tomato & onion pie and a lemon slice -- at around 12 noon.  Both were most enjoyed.

Then at around 12:30 Joe popped in looking very chipper.  He asked if I wanted to join him for lunch at Hungry Jack's.  They must have a bargain going at Hungry Jack's.  But I had already lunched so declined with regret.

His flight to China took off at 4pm.  A work visit only.

Then that night to celebrate a memorable day I went and got Anne and myself fish n chips from her local Greeks.   It is beautifully done there and is one of our favourite meals.  We had it with one of my remaining bottles of Barossa Pearl.  I think I qualify as a real Ocker if I celebrate with meat pies, fish n chips and Barossa Pearl.  Humble food but it is my ethnic food.

Kate and her mother arrived from Canberra about 11:00pm and I told Kate that the cats had been asking after their mother. She took me seriously and said they are probably just hungry -- which was a very motherly response. I shouldn't joke so much.

I eventually conked out after only one and a half gins and even missed my late night snack. Being wound up during the day must have tired me out.  If I had kept awake long enough, I would of course have concluded my celebrations with a late night feast of Vegemite on toast.



Monday, April 17, 2017

A self-indulgent Easter


My Easter did have a touch of holiness but mostly it did not.  I will say something about that anon.

Anne came over on the Thursday afternoon and for dinner we cooked up some skinless sausages I got from Woolworths.  They have little wooden handles on them but that is just a gimmick.  I made a Waldorf salad to go with them and I really enjoyed them.

On Friday morning Anne made me a bowl of porridge, which I always like, and she had some red pawpaw she had brought over.  After that we had hot cross buns.  After breakfast I took us first for a sit by the river at Orleigh Park and then drove us up to Mt Gravatt to take in the view there.  The council have built a nice kiosk there but it was not open.  It rarely is.  It is run by a charity, The Hope Foundation and appears to have unmotivated beneficiaries staffing it.

Coming down Shire Rd from the mountain, there is a Red Rooster shop on the corner of Logan Rd so we stopped there for an early lunch.  I had a quarter chicken and chips, which was very succulent, and Anne had fish n chips, which was quite passable.  Anne is not a Catholic but she was married to one for many years so she has acquired the habit of not eating meat on Friday.  So that night I produced some Moroccan vegieburgers for her. With leftover salad they went down well enough.

That night was our holy observance, though it was not really a church service.  We went to St John's cathedral for a concert performance of Bach's Matthew Passion. There was a big choir and the orchestra included four celli.  Add that to the brilliance of sound given by the soaring stone arches of St John's and we got repeatedly excellent choral music.  The many chorales of the Matthew Passion are its great strength.  There was one disappointment, however.  The young baritone messed up my favourite aria from the work: Mache dich mein Herze rein.  His diction and phrasing were terrible.  He clearly had no idea of the rules of German pronunciation, which is slack if you are into classical music.

Anne's sister June drove us there so we had coffee and Anzac biscuits on my veranda after the show.  The concert took about 3 hours so there was a rush to the toilets when we got home. Elderly bladders.

On Saturday morning Anne and I took ham, cheese and tomato sandwiches up to the rotunda on Highgate Hill.  I made them fairly thick so one sandwich each was enough for us.  From there we visited the Buranda shopping centre to see what was open and found the Phams closed.  So we went over the road to the Cafe Essence for coffee and cakes.  I had a small lemon tart and Anne had a caramel slice.  That night we just had leftovers, with salad, which were pretty good.

On Sunday morning we had Vegemite toast, which I greatly enjoyed.  Vegemite is gourmet food to me. Followed by Easter eggs.  Anne then went off on family visiting.  For dinner I cooked myself up a big lot of bacon n eggs.

I intended to have toast with it but found I was out of butter.  But I had cooked the bacon in a mix of olive oil and peanut oil and the bacon gave off grease too.  So I tipped the juices out of the pan onto my toast.  And that made a very good alternative to butter.  I had read that in the Mediterranean countries they tip oil on their bread so I learned from that.

Then on Monday night I had bought some big pork mid-loin chops.  So Jenny cooked them up for us.  Jenny recommended red cabbage pickles to go with them which did work well.

So that was a very pleasant Easter.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A minceburger?


Is there such a thing as a minceburger?  If not, I must have invented it.  I had some savoury mince (ground beef) that I wanted to use up so, for dinner, I bought two hamburger rolls, put plenty of butter and a cheese slice on each and topped each with a thick coat of mince.   It was delish.  But it depends on the mince of course.  Your mileage may vary.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Nola Holland




Is there a Carla Holland out there, daughter of Nola Holland? Jenny and I thought Nola was a really fun person but last we heard she had significant medical problems. So we fear that she may be deceased. Perhaps Carla could enlighten us.

Carla probably goes by a married name these days but maybe not. One effect of the frequent breakups these days is that women often revert to their maiden name. Though Nola did not. She was originally the Boyle girl from Dubbo but when she married John Holland she became a Holland for ever after -- even though that marriage lasted only one year -- if memory serves. Nola did not like the bog-Irish sound of Boyle

There was a barrister named John Gleeson who also knew Nola. Maybe he is still around and communicating

One conversation that I remember with Nola I have never before mentioned to anyone: We agreed that women do not fart! That was Nola for you. She sent Carla to Kambala but she herself remained the Boyle girl from Dubbo.


Thursday, April 6, 2017

Pathology results


About the only excitement in the lives of people around my age is usually their health problems.  They are nearly all taking buckets of pills.  I take no pills regularly and have what I think is an interesting life outside my occasional health problems.  My blogging is my big interest in life and I have the hope that what I do there is worthwhile.  You can see most of what I write in one place here.

But recurrent skin cancer is a big problem for me and I had four bits cut out of me at the beginning of March.  Two of the wounds got infected however so healing was not straightforward.  There is however only one that is still a problem but it too seems to be under control.

My last lot of pathology results came in last Friday and told me that the wound in my ankle has become infected by soil bacteria such as Pseudomonas.  Those nifty little bacteria can give you necrotizing fasciitis, where your flesh just keeps getting eaten away.  In extreme cases they amputate to stop it.

My infection, however, is a slow-moving one and I am now on two antibiotoics to combat it:  Ciprofloxacin and Metronidazole.  They seem to be working as I am out of pain and healing is therefore indicated.  But it is a bit of a waiting game at the moment.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Two Mondays



On Monday of last week, I shouted Joe, Kate and Jenny a dinner at Nandos: A humble venue but the food was much enjoyed.  Nandos fits in with Joe's diet.  And Jenny found out in advance that Nandos can do their Paella in a way that avoids gluten, which she cannot have. Jenny was in good form with lots of family news and we sat there for quite a while talking.  The translation of Suz and Russ to NZ was much discussed, as was NZ generally.

Then Monday this week Jenny came over to my place for dinner.  I had a couple of good T-bones and had made up a salad but I got Jenny to supervise the frying of the T-bones.  She got them just right and I really enjoyed mine.  I had forgotten how good a T-bone can be.  I suppose I sound like a dog but so be it.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

An eventful weekend



The excision on my ankle was always a bit sore but when I finished my course of antibiotics in the middle of last week it got worse.  On Friday morning I was woken up by the pain of it. I tried to ring the surgeon to get a new supply of antibiotics but he was not working that day.  So I visited a nearby medical centre to get my prescriptions (Clindamycin and Dicloxacillin) from a GP there.

The GP was quite good but thought I should get an xray of my foot and ankle.  So I did that same day. But the antibiotics I was using seemed to have lost any influence so the wound just got worse.

On Saturday morning about 9am I encountered Joe and Kate headed for the beach at Surfer's Paradise.  With Kate's alabaster white skin and Joe being nearly as fair they looked a most un-beachy couple.  But they had big hats and sunblock so they were to a degree prepared.  Young Brisbane people are always going "down the coast" so I guess Joe felt it was about time they joined in.  They didn't stay long though.  Got home around 2pm.  Good that they did because Joe did get some sunburn.

That night Joe, his good friend Eugene and I went to Sunnybank for Mosburgers, Japanese hamburgers.  I think they are the best in Brisbane.  Very yummy.  I liked the peach tea too.

On Sunday, Anne came over, the first time since Tuesday. She came over about midday and at 3pm we went to a local party, held in the newly created "Community Garden" at the top of Fleurs st.  The people behind the garden have done a great job of converting a bit of "waste" ground into a flourishing garden.  They are Greenies so it is good to see them putting their efforts where their mouth is.

A curious thing is that some Real Estate mob have donated a small pizza oven to them.  And on Sunday afternoon there were a couple of experienced Italian pizza makers there to make it hum.  They poured out  huge amounts of pizza that all went down well.  People kept turning up as the afternoon went on so there was quite a crowd in the end, with many being young families.

The pizza was cooked Italian style -- with thin base and thin topping.  Anne particularly liked that.  See below:


Then that evening we went along to Evensong at The Metropolitical Cathedral of St. John.  It is a magnificent venue for anything musical.  The PA system was pretty bad, however, so neither Anne nor I understood a word of the spoken part of the service.  We got some good Anglican chant, however, which I like.

Then by Monday morning the wound on my foot had deteriorated so much that it was quite smelly.  I did have to go in to the local GP practice to get my X-ray results so I asked the doctor there to clean up and re-dress the wound.  He did that personally.

Then on Tuesday, I went to see the surgeon.  He was shocked by the state of the wound so took a swab for the pathologists to tell us what bacteria we were up against.  I also persuaded him to give me some Bactrim to supplement my other antibiotics.

And that seems to have been a breakthrough.  I felt some benefit from the Bactrim after just the first tablet and improvement has continued since then. So there is a light at the end of a very dire tunnel.  An expanding wound that is proof against a lot of powerful antibiotics is bad news.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The bright side



I tend to be a rather cheerful positive person, not out of deliberate policy but because I was born that way. My mother was a very self-confident person.

So I see some positives out of my recent surgical travails.  By dint of taking regular doses of two powerful antibiotics, I seem to have defeated my recent infections.  I am now in no pain and am enjoying my life again.

And one of the compensations of being ill is that Anne came and made me a lot of good traditional British/Australian dinners -- which I enjoyed greatly.  Last night I got corned-beef with roasted veggies -- which was great!  I like my ethnic foods!

And may I mention that in the midst of my surgical travails, Joe and Kate have announced their engagement!  He proposed to her whilst they were both up the top of the Eiffel tower in gay Paree.  That seems amazingly romantic to me.  Apparently when Joe first asked, Kate said, "What?"  But Joe persisted.  What a fine, traditional man!

Anyway I have now seen the ring. It is a colored stone, basically, with a few bits surrounding.  The stone is Tanazanite -- a stone recently discovered in Tanzania (in Africa).  It is purple so looks like Amethyst.  Amethyst was a  very popular jewel in the ancient world.   They bought it from an "Antique Jewellery" place,  Let's not mention that Tanzanite was discovered only in the 1960s.

The important thing is that Kate likes it.

Friday, March 3, 2017

A trying couple of days



I had a wog last week which had just cleared up when I went in for surgery this week. Skin cancers pop up on me rather regularly.  And the ones that look like expanding have to be killed some way -- by freezing or excision.  I had a rather pesky crop recently.  So this time getting rid of them took two days -- at an overall cost of $7,000.00.  So that is going to restrict my spending in other directions.  The time could come when I am spending all my spare cash on surgery.  I will however look at options for cheaper treatment.

Included this time was a Moh's procedure -- where the extent of the cancer is not clear so they have to keep cutting until the microscope gives the all clear.  It's never pleasant.  It is so time consuming that they don't stitch you up same day.  You have to go home with a gaping wound that they stitch up the next day. Wednesday's procedure  removed a big cancer on my chest plus a smaller one nearby.

So on Thursday, Anne drove me out to Northwest private hospital for both the Moh's repair and an excision on my ankle.  The ankle excision was expected to be a bit big, requiring a skin graft to put it back together. They have good grafting facilities at Northwest.  And as it turned out, the gap created by the Moh's procedure also required a graft.  So I came home very patched up.

As expected, I had to be very careful about walking in order not to flex too much the graft on my ankle. So I bought some crutches to get around on for a few days.

An unforeseen problem is that the big graft on my chest seems to have got infected. I always seem to have some nasty skin bugs -- Staphylococcus Aureus or "Golden Staph" -- on my skin waiting to pounce on a surgical site so I have been subjected to infections of wounds for some years now.  On a couple of occasions I have had to go into hospital and be put on a Vancomycin drip for a couple of days.  So that may be coming up again.

In the meanwhile I am on high doses of both Clindamycin and Dicloxacillin in an endeavour to close down the infection.  But I am in a rather bad way for a while: I have a rather painful chest wound that stings me when I move and I can't walk any distance.  Fortunately Anne has moved in to look after me. She is doing well.  She is a nurse by profession. But it will be a few days yet before I can move about freely.


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

"Privilege" again



A major obsession on the Left at the moment -- particularly in the universities --  is "white privilege"  It is alleged that  just being born white gives you privileges not available to others.  And whites are supposed to feel shamed and humbled about that and -- ideally -- give all their money to non-whites.  It is part of the general and quite deranged  attack on mainstream people that caused many Americans to become totally disgusted with the Obama/Clinton Left.  They were ready to vote for ANYBODY who would stop the rot.  So Donald Trump got the job, despite his hair and many other faults.

I pointed out recently that the "white privilege" concept is racist -- very similar to Hitler's  thinking about Jews.  In both cases we see hostility to people purely on the basis of their race.

So let me relate a true story about a privileged person I know.  L. is an elderly Jewish man who recently had a bad turn.  An ambulance was called to take him to hospital. When they were loading him on board, they asked him which hospital he wanted to go to. Brisbane has some big centrally located government hospitals plus a lot of excellent private hospitals scattered about. L. said to take him to WXY, a highly regarded private hospital with about 500 beds.

But after about 15 minutes the ambulance had still not driven off.  The ambulancemen said that it was a very busy time with a lot of hospitals "on bypass" (full up) -- and WXY was one of those on bypass.  So the ambulancemen had been ringing around to find a hospital with an available bed.  L. said not to bother with that.  Just ring hospital WXY and tell them whom you have got on board.  The ambulancemen did that and L. was promptly whisked to his preferred hospital.  He was taken in where others were not.

So was that Jewish privilege?  Many people would leap to that conclusion.  And Jews are often generous donors to all sorts of charitable causes. So that could have been it.  It might have reflected gratitude to a donor.  But that was not it at all.

Even though he is in his '80s and has had a stroke, L. has that restless energy we so often see in Ashkenazi (Western) Jews.  After his stroke he could have just stayed at home all day and watched TV.  He likes watching football on TV so that would have had some appeal.

But that was just alien to him.  He wanted to be active and to contribute something to others.  So he became a hospital visitor.  With his own recent experience of stroke he felt sympathy for people lying in bed all day waiting to get better.  So, by arrangement with the WXY hospital, he would spend days just walking around the wards and looking for people who felt like a chat.  He is himself a cheery, flexible, positive person who is a good listener so he brightened the days of many.

So you see why everybody at the WXY hospital knew him, appreciated him and leapt to help him when he needed it.  The "privilege" he had is the privilege of being a good man.  He EARNED his privilege.  He is just a good natured conservative man who likes to contribute to the society in which he lives.

And so it is with most privilege.  What you do to earn privilege can vary greatly. You can even inherit it. But privilege is not random and is not assigned just by something as incidental as the color of your skin.  There are many trailer park denizens -- poor people -- who just get by from week to week even though they are white.  Where is their privilege?  It doesn't exist because they have done nothing to earn it.  Just being white earns you nothing


Monday, February 27, 2017

My meatloaf was yea-yore


When Joe was 3, he decided that it was unfair that Jenny and I made up all the words so he too invented a word: yea-yore . It meant completely no-good.  Anything he did not like or want was yea-yore.

It seemed to me to be the only word adequate to describe a meatloaf I made last Friday evening.  I should not have been too surprised by the result as I am no cook but I had nonetheless had hopes.  In theory, what I cooked should have been good.  But it was a bit like global warming theory.  The predictions from the theory were not borne out in practice.

The problem had been that Anne is at the moment on a very restrictive "plain food" diet to fix her indigestion. So I decided that I would make a meatloaf that included only ingredients that were on her "OK" list.  So I went on to the net and found there about 1,000 recipes, all of which included at least four yummy ingredients that Anne cannot at the moment have.  So I decided to use just stuff she can have: The famous "Mixed herbs", grated carrot, eggs etc.

After an hour in the oven, the result was completely tasteless and not even a good texture.  It was definitely yea-yore.  It quite cast me down.  I am used to eating good food so to find that my own creation was yea-yore rather depressed my spirits.  The best I can say of it is that it fed us and did not make us sick, so I suppose that is something.  Lesson learned: Always work to a recipe from someone who really is a cook.

I also cooked for myself the next night and the night after so I cooked bacon & eggs on both occasions to restore my faith that I can cook something. Bacon & eggs is hard to ruin.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Ya gotta laugh



I went into Dan Murphy's today to buy a few things.  One was Henkel Trocken.  I could not find it anywhere.  So I asked.  It was in the Australian sparkling wine section. It is in fact produced in Germany.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Lunch with Jill and Lewis


Jill and I normally help celebrate one another's birthdays.  Usually I shout a dinner in February for Jill's birthday and she cooks me a dinner in July for my birthday.  Somehow or other, however, we got it the other way around this year, with Jill cooking Anne and me a dinner in connection with her birthday.

We have something of a tradition that Jill cooks us pasta with seafood and a creamy sauce.  She does it well and I always look forward to it.  This year the seafood consisted of lots of small prawns, which went down well.  I get a bit freaked if I have to peel large prawns.  I generally get someone else to do it for me. The pasta was either tagliatelle or fettucine.  I can't tell the difference between those two.

Jill and Lewis go on a lot of cruises and Anne does too so most of the conversation revolved around foreign parts, particularly South America.  Mr Trump however did of course get a mention.  Can any dinner conversations avoid a mention of Mr Trump these days?  Jill noted that on one of her recent cruises most of the American passengers were very enthusiastic about Mr Trump.

Lewis noted that Australia's Pauline Hanson has similar ideas about Muslim immigration. He rather embarrassed himself at one stage with his criticism of such immigration.  But Lewis is Jewish so he has excellent reason to be critical.  Muslim scripture, particularly the hadiths, does after all tell Muslims to kill Jews!  And Mohammed himself wiped out Jewish communities.

From the Pharaohs to Mohammed to Hitler, Jews have certainly not has it easy, to put it mildly.  Among both religious Jews and Christians there is a view that the long survival of Jews against all odds is a sign of divine intervention.  I can see the logic of that.

In recent years Anne and I have got rather bushed in driving to and from  Jill's place.  Anne drives and the GPS system that came with her Toyota is a bit brain-damaged. So this year she turned it off and let me give directions. There have however been a lot of changes in the roads since I used to drive out that way so I feared that I would misdirect us.  As it happened, however, we got it all right both going and coming back. It was actually pretty simple.


Sunday, February 19, 2017

A breakfast with Joe and Kate



Joe and I usually have a late and relaxed breakfast together at a certain pie shop on Sunday morning. Today Kate came along, looking very mysterious behind "navigator" dark glasses. The glasses did  highlight her alabaster skin, though.  See how sexist I am, talking only about her appearance?  But most ladies, including Kate, take great care over their appearance so to notice it is, in my old-fashioned view, merely gallant.  But I suppose gallantry is bad these days too.

We talked a bit about diet as Joe announced that he has recently lost 5 kilos.  He came back from holidays with a distinct "spare tyre" so that was an achievement.

We also of course mentioned Mr Trump and I pointed out that his rather confused speech delivery may be no bad thing.  It is eerily reminiscent of "Sir Joh", a distinguished Queenslander but a very small footnote in the history of the world.  But it is a very informative footnote.  Sir Joh also had a messy speech delivery that the elite all dismissed as being beyond  comprehension.  Journalists and others claimed it was just impossible to understand what he was saying.  But Joh was a farmer and he spoke like a farmer, not like an educated man. And ordinary farmers and working people generally understood him just fine.  He kept getting their vote and ended up running Queensland for nearly 20 years -- from 1968 to 1987. So who was the fool?


The Honourable Sir Johannes Bjelke-Petersen, KCMG

Trump comes from the opposite end of the socio-economic scale but he has always had a hands-on attitude to his building projects and has often been on site talking to the workers doing the building.  So it would seem that his conversations with them have led to him gaining not only respect for them and their views but also some of their speech patterns.

So he really does sound a lot like Sir Joh so should easily get a second term in office.  I don't think Kate had ever heard of Sir Joh and Joe would not have known much either so I was glad to give them a bit of fun history.  In the day I was myself a member of Joh's political party and always voted for him.  So I am a sort of living political antique.  These days I vote for Pauline.  In the circumstances I am sure that many Leftists would conclude that I must have got my Ph.D. out of a cornflakes packet.

Another thing we talked about over breakfast was the similarities between Joe and myself. Joe is a very different person from me but the fact that we share 50% of our genes does make itself known at times. It is perhaps most notable in the similarity of our political views. We both rather like Mr Trump, for instance. NO-ONE upsets applecarts like Mr Trump! He is a true radical. Mr Trump is so entertaining that if he didn't exist we would have had to invent him.

Another similarity is that Joe and I both tend to sit down in something of a yoga position. We do it unconsciously. It just seems most comfortable.

The similarity I mentioned today is how both of us are "no fuss" people.  We don't sweat the small things.  When things go wrong we just carry on regardless without swearing and cursing and leaping about.  I gave a couple of recent instances of Joe being Mr. Cool in that way.

Another similarity is that we both like the complex music of J.S. Bach.  As it happens, the Bach Klavier concerto was playing on the car radio as we drove to breakfast and we both enjoyed it greatly.  I suggested that a liking for Bach might be related to a liking for order, as Bach's music is very orderly with its fugues and counterpoint generally.

And I extended that to being good at computer programming.  Computer code is VERY orderly.  Just get one comma out of place and the program bombs.  And I was very good at FORTRAN coding in my day. I used to say that I could write FORTRAN in my sleep. It was not a literal claim but  my dreams would sometimes feature FORTRAN code.  Joe trumped that, however, by claiming that he really CAN write "C" in his sleep.  He writes a lot of it so maybe he can.

Because Kate has recently taken her honours degree in psychology, I went on to talk to her a little about a liking for order.  Traditionally in personality psychology it is deplored as being "Fascist", with tolerance of ambiguity being praised in its stead.  I pointed out that seeking for order in the universe it what scientists do so deploring that is a bit nutty.  Some people (e.g. autistics) have an excessive need for order but to condemn a liking for order generally is incoherent.

A degree of orderliness that Joe and I share is great punctuality but I noted that I saw punctuality as being mainly a courtesy and Joe agreed with that.

And our bacon and eggs was good too.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Saint's day was appropriately observed


Valentine's day was on Tuesday this week but Anne had choir practice on both Tuesday and Wednesady so observances were postponed until Friday.  Flowers, funny card, chocolates and a dinner were all delivered.  We went to the Kafe Meze for Greek food.  It was a while since we had been there so we were a bit put out to find that the easy parking over the road had been abolished.  But we did find a spot round the corner near a supermarket car park.  The supermarket used to be Jack the Slasher many moons ago but I am not sure what it is now.  Coles, I think.

Below is the docket showing what we had.  We could have given the Pastourma a miss but the rest was as good as usual.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

A good letter gets results



I have always found it easy to write and as a result I write a lot of letters, mostly by snail mail.  So when I see something happening that I don't like, I don't just bitch about it.  I send a letter to whomever is likely to be able to fix it.  And it will be no surprise that I have written to the big bosses of banks quite a lot.  As I think everyone reading this will know, banks can be very frustrating

One thing that has been bothering me a bit lately is the way Australian banks keep closing branches or downgrading the services that they offer from a branch.

For a while there was a sort of mini-branch of the Commonwealth babnk right next to where I often go for brunch so that was very convenient.  I rather liked the looks of one of the female tellers they had there too. Even we oldies can admire from afar.

But it was of course too good to last.  The tellers were abolished and you were expected to do everything through a sort of super-ATM they had installed.  There were however still some staff there to help people who could not do what they wanted with the ATMs.

So recently I walked in with a big cheque that I wanted to deposit.  But the place was full of customers waiting for personal service.  So I decided to give up and visit a real branch the next day.  But where was there a real branch? It is not easy to look up.  They have a list of branches online but some of them have been abolished and there is no way of knowing what services the remaining ones offer.  In a couple of cases there were phone numbers I could ring but when I rang I got only an answering machine that had no answers that I wanted to hear.

What to do?  I also have an account at the Bank of Qld. and I have never had to wait long there.  So I went in to my nearest branch, found two tellers behind the desk and only one person ahead of me.  So I deposited my cheque, was given a printed receipt and walked out happy.  Because of their poor services, the Commonwealth missed out on getting my money despite considerable efforts on my part to give it to them.  Amazing.

So I wrote a letter.  Here it is:

28 December, 2016

TO:
Ian Narev
CEO
CBA

Dear Mr. Narev,

As a CBA shareholder and a customer I am appalled at how your standards of customer service have slipped.

I went into your recently downgraded Buranda branch today and found a big queue-up of people waiting for personal service.   I had a big cheque to deposit that I was not willing to entrust to your machines. I left rather than wait. Please reinstate its former status

I then went online to find an alternative branch near me.  I wanted to find one that had full service.  There were several possibilities.  But the phone nos. for them were not provided.  So I went through the rigamarole of calling your general number.  When I was eventually put through to the branches, however, all I got were answering machines that were as uninformative as your website.

After all the hassle I deposited my cheque with another bank.

Why can't you have more contact details available online?  Are you afraid your customers might talk to you? Can't you get it into your bald head that customer service matters?

In the absence of an accommodating reply from you, I will raise the matter at the next AGM.

I got a reply from someone called Emma Taylor who did little more than restate her bank's policies.  So I wrote another letter.  Here it is:

Dear Ms Taylor

Thank you for your letter of 19th.

I am disappointed that Mr Narev did not see fit to reply to my letter in person.  A year or so ago I wrote to Richard Goyder of Wesfarmers and got back from him a courteous handwritten note.  Perhaps Mr Narev has more dissatisfied customers than Mr Goyder has.

I have found your reply in which you do little more than restate the bank's policies quite unsatisfactory.  So I still have comments that I wish to address to Mr. Narev.  The following is for Mr Narev's eyes only:

Dear Mr Narev,

I am sure you find as revolting as I do the old stereotype of the fat Jewish banker smoking a cigar, wearing a top hat and looking contemptuously down his long nose at the simple people whom he exploits.

So why in G-d's name are you doing your best to validate that image?  You are Jewish, you are head of Australia's largest bank and you treat your customers with contempt by making it as hard as possible for them to contact you and your officers.

WHY do you not have on your website a phone number for each branch?  You are constantly changing your branches and what each branch does, so people need to enquire in advance to ascertain what services are available at a branch they intend to visit.

I myself some months ago was going to be in the Stone's Corner area so looked up your webpage and found the Stones Corner branch listed as fully functional.  It was not. I made the trip there to find it closed down.

So if it is such an enormous problem to provide phone nos., could you at least keep your website up to date with the level of service offered at each  branch?   It is surely an elementary courtesy.

And it might even be good business to upgrade your services.  The extra costs could result in happier customers who do more business with your bank.

In the absence of a reply from you, I am inclined to post a copy of this letter on the net.

Yours sorrowfully,

Dr John Ray

There was no reply.  BUT, today I had another large refund cheque to deposit.  So after my brunch I wandered in to the nearby Commonwealth branch that had given me problems previously.  Hey Presto!  Big change! A teller's counter had sprung up again, everybody in the branch was being helped and there was a lady standing at the teller's counter waiting to help me.  Very different!  Exactly what I had asked for!  Even though Mr Narev was too grand to reply to me, someone somewhere in the bank must have sprung into action. My letters got results.

A Leftist would of course have found my reference to Mr Narev's origins to be RACIST!  Even though I was writing with the intention of helping Jews.  I have in fact been a great supporter of Israel since I was a kid.  My immersion in the Bible made it permanently clear to me that Israel is the proper home of the Jews.

Some extended background on my thinking about that is here