Old folk at lunch

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Jason brings home the golden fleece


After Joe built my new Windows 10 computer recently, we had some leftover bits from my old Windows 7 computer that I wanted to re-use, an old hard drive and an A-drive. Joe bought an old secondhand computer for $80 for that purpose and set it up using Windows XP.  Alas, however, my leftover hard drive was so old (about 10 years) that it could not be used even with my old $80 computer. It is an IDE drive, now obsolete.

My old mate Jason had an idea, however.  He knew of an adapter that you can get from China for $20 that converts an IDE interface to a USB interface.  So he got me one. And today was the big day to install it.

It didn't work. But Jason is not accustomed to defeat by any computer.  He has been using personal computers since he was a kid -- starting out with the venerable VIC-20. The VIC-20 was the first computer of any description to sell one million units.  So his brain is full of all sorts of understanding of computers.

So he kept trying all sorts of strategies to get the new system to work.  After nearly two hours of hard work and at least a dozen tries he finally did it.

It turns out that an IDE drive uses slightly more power than more modern drives -- so the power supply that came with the USB adapter was inadequate.  Fortunately, however, my old $80 computer was a originally a quality one -- a Hewlett Packard.  So it had inside it a variety of power outlets to enable use of various peripheral devices.  And one of them had the extra power that my old IDE drive needed.

So once we discovered that it was all plain sailing and I now have up and running an old XP machine complete with two functioning hard drives and an A-drive -- a genuine museum piece.  I now have 3 different old computers up and running in my mini-museum.  The others are a DOS machine and an Amiga 500.  Men like their machines.

UPDATE:

There really was a golden fleece


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

How old people give directions



When a young person wants to tell another person where something is, he will pick out prominent buildings or features that are nearby.

Old people do that too but they have another tool at their disposal.  When talking to another old person, they will often describe where something USED to be.  Anne and I do it often.  We might for instance say:

John:  Where do that young couple live these days?

Anne:  Opposite where the Thompsons used to live

John:  Opposite where the Thompsons used to live!  Ah!  Now I get you

So being old has some advantages

But health problems usually ensure that it is not a golden age. I think most of us oldies look back to the time when we were involved in bringing up children as our golden age.  Maybe not for everyone

But old age does have a few advantages.  We are under less pressure to achieve.  We know by then who we are and where we are.  We no longer have to strive to get somewhere or establish anything.

There is some tendency for older people to get more religious too -- particularly in women

I am still as atheist as ever but I will probably say on my deathbed "Shema Yisreal" -- not out of any expectation of a reward -- just in an appreciation of the good.  I would like to be able to say the whole prayer but I can't memorize anything much these days. I am glad I learnt a lot of poetry when I was young. Perhaps if I am compos mentis enough I could get a Rabbi to come and say it for me.    It's a prayer of devotion but I like its triumphant tone


Monday, April 25, 2016

A rather mad ANZAC day



Because everything was going to be shut up for ANZAC day, Anne came over to cook me breakfast.  I had a leftover pack of hot-cross buns in the freezer so that was the main focus.  Anne put them in the oven for an inscrutable time and they came out fine.  She also brought over the leftovers of a chicken she had cooked for her and June the night before so I cut my hotcross buns into two, buttered them, and ate them with chicken in the middle. Very satisfactory!

And somehow we used an amazing amount of crockery and cutlery for the process.  There ended up plates and cutlery all over the place on my verandah table afterwards

We both watched the march on TV after breakfast.  I watched only a bit of it but Anne watched it all.  She was on the lookout for people she knew  There were huge numbers in the march so that was not unrealistic.  She saw no-one this year, though.

Then that night I offered Anne a Thai curry dinner (out of my  freezer) while I cooked a pack of snags for myself.  But it didn't end up that way.  Anne cooked up some rice to have with her curry but I found when I opened my offered packet of curry that it already had rice with it.

So how to proceed?  I had expected to have toast with my snags but I decided that rice would be good too.  And six snags were a bit much for me alone so both of us ended up having three snags and rice for our dinner -- which neither of us had foreseen.

But the snags were good, the rice was fine and I had a new bottle of "Chipotle" (Mexican) BBQ sauce to have with the snags -- so we did well. The sauce was only a bit peppery.

I grabbed out of the fridge what I thought was a bottle of beer to have with it all but it turned out to be a bottle of ginger beer only.  But it was fine.  Chaos was still pretty good.  And we ended up with lots of cutlery on the table for that meal too!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

St. George's day


I missed out on celebrating St. George's day yesterday.  St. George is of course the patron saint of England and I do often celebrate it. I thought of it rather late in the week and Anne was ill the day before so it was all too hard this year.  I fly the flag of St. George daily on the flagpole at the front of my house but that is probably just a token of my eccentricity.  I also have a large brass Hindu idol (Ganesha) greeting people as they walk in my front door so I think my claim to be eccentric is on firm ground.  We bright sparks are allowed to be eccentric.

In Britain these days, the St. George flag has been adopted by people who are proud to be English rather than British.  People of immigrant origin from all over the world are described as British these days.  So I have a certain sympathy for that. My origins too are mainly English and I am most grateful for that.  Britain has a lot of troublesome immigrants these days whereas our main immigrant group are Han Chinese -- who are no trouble at all.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Reflections about my forebears


Taking an interest in one's forebears is a very conservative thing to do. Leftists usually act as if the world started yesterday.  They are certainly slow to learn from history. Despite all the horrors that Communism has unleashed on the world, you still have a neo-Communist, Bernie Sanders, running for President of the United States at the moment.  His rhetoric is over two centuries old and there is no doubt about where it has previously led.

I am rather bemused by what the more addled Leftists in American universities call "whiteness" studies. Whites are an evil lot who should be ashamed of themselves and give all their goods to minorities -- is the general message.

But I am not at all ashamed of my whiteness.  I am very pleased by it.  And I am impressed by my white forebears.  Two of my ancestors came out to Australia from the other side of the world in frail little wooden ships.  When men went to sea in such ships there was always a high likelihood (a third?) that they would never come back  Yet they repeatedly did it  Why?

It was partly because of the way that men are fascinated by machines. And their ships were quite complex wooden machines, probably the most complex machines of their day. Sail was perhaps an even older technology than the wheel.  It enabled people to move things through time and space without being totally reliant on human or animal muscle

Bodies of water were the highways of the ancient world.  People  had little in the way of roads so you could not go far or easily on land.  But you could by water.  So your technology was focused on movement across water.  And thus you could move things long distances and bring back things from far places.  Sailing ships were a very USEFUL technology.  They expanded greatly what humans could do.  They could even remove humanely problem people from their society.

And two of my ancestors were such problem people.  But by dint of the great skills of white people they arrived safe and sound  after long and wearying transport across a vast distance. Another society -- e.g. a Muslim one -- might simply have killed off or mutilated those two of my petty-criminal forebears but the humane white people of England simply sent them far away.  I am proud to be of that ilk.

But what do we know of my more remote forebears? There is always disputation about these things but it seems that they were originally Celts, ancestors of most of the people who now living in Cornwall, Brittany, Scotland and Wales. And the people now living in Cornwall, Brittany, Scotland and Wales are very similar to the rest of the current British population.   So it seems likely that the Celts were much like we are today.

Most of what we know about the early Celts we get from Roman writers, particularly Caesar.  In Commentarii de Bello Gallico he tells us about his conquests of the Celts in Gaul (now France). We learn that they were big and fierce fighters who would rush into battle with great  enthusiasm.  They were too disorganized, however.  They were regularly defeated by the discipline of the little Roman troops.  Roman soldiers from Italy were mostly only about 5' tall but the taller Celts were regularly defeated by the  better organization and discipline of Caesar's troops.

When it came to the Germans however, the Romans had REAL trouble.  Those guys were even bigger and even more ferocious.  They wiped out whole Roman legions at times.  They stopped Roman conquest at the Rhine.

Caesar invaded Britain in 55BC but did not occupy it permanently.  That took place nearly 100 years later, leading to Britain being under Roman control for around 400 years.  And around 500 AD  later the Germans arrived, conquered and settled.

So you would think that modern-day British people  would have a blend of Celt, Roman and German genes.  And it is partly like that.  And I have no doubt both Celtic and German genes in me.  But what about the Romans?  The  DNA studies of the current British population find little or no trace of them.  We know that the first thing conquering armies did in the old days was to rape the women of the conquered population so what happened to all the Roman genes that should have entered the British gene-pool at that time?  Unlike the Greeks, the Romans weren't baby-killers so there does seem to be a mystery there.

But there is in fact no great mystery. Rome was very multicultural.  You did not have to be of Italian origin to have all the advantages of Roman citizenship.  Even St. Paul, a Hellenized Jew, was a Roman citizen.  And so it was with Roman armies.  It was very unlikely that many Italian troops ever went to Britain.  The legions that did go were probably raised from somewhere more conveniently located, most probably Celtic Gaul (modern France).  So Celts trained in Roman military discipline went to Britain and defeated Celts using Celtic customs.  The Roman conquest and occupation probably did very little to alter the Celtic nature of the British population.

So I have in me the genes of two very capable white populations, the Celts and the Germans -- plus a bit of Norman and Scandinavian probably.  And I know enough about both groups to be  rather pleased about all that.  I am privileged to be descended from such capable people.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Joe is back from the middle kingdom


The middle kingdom?  Has one of Joe's computer games come to life?  Not quite.  There really is such a place.  We refer to it as the land of the Chin, though the Chin dynasty is long gone -- China, in other words.  The Chinese name for their country cannot adequately be translated into English, though it can be translated well into German.  In German it would be Das Mittelreich.  So the "Middle Kingdom" is the best we can do.  The idea is that the Chinese see China as the centre of the world.  They always have and they still do.  And by the end of this century they will be right.

Joe went there with the CIO of the company he works for.  The firm is buying some hardware from China -- as you do -- and Joe had the job of working out how to program it.  The fact that his boss took Joe with him suggests to me that they see Joe as their hotshot programmer.  He probably is:  Not only because he is a versatile coder but mainly because of his problem-solving ability, I would think.  An old word for problem-solving ability is IQ.

Anyway Joe can himself see that he has hit the ground running in his new job so is looking forward to a bigger pay packet in due course. Pay packets tend to be healthy in his line of work.

They went to Shanghai on a Qantas airbus and arrived back yesterday at around midday.  Joe brought me back a big bottle of "Bombay Sapphire" London dry gin distilled for the Asian market.  To my limited palate, it tastes much the same as any other middle-range gin. All gin has lots of botanicals in it and the ones added to this one were Thai lemongrass and Vietnamese black peppercorns.  How do I know that?  It says so on the bottle.  International trade is an amazing thing:  A gin distilled in England, named after a place in India and designed for China.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Innisfail State Rural School -- a document



If you google Innisfail State Rural School,  you will mostly get links to things that I have put online.  Other than that there are only some old newspaper clippings put online by Trove, the excellent service by the National Library of Australia.

So I want to put online a document that will show once and for all that it did exist.  It is one of my old report cards -- from Grade 4.

It is a rather tattered document but it is the only record I have of 7 years of my life.  It is from my primary school days.  A Rural School was a combined primary and secondary school in a place that could not support  separate primary and secondary schools.



Another Ingeborg Hallstein clip



I have just come across her singing "Ich bin die Christel von der Post", from  1973.  I am used to the version sung by Ute Gfrerer but they are both very good.  The operetta was "Der Vogelhandler" by Zeller



She once again uses heavy eye makeup.  I think that was characteristic of the time.

Below is another clip, with her singing the famous Nightingale song by Grothe. She has just the voice for that