Old folk at lunch

Monday, March 5, 2018

The war on "Throaties"

Note the little birdie

I gather that "Throaties" are officially regarded as confectionery rather than medicine.  On the rare occaion when I get a cold, however, I find them helpful.  And Woolworths is the obvious source of supply for them.

"Throaties" do contain various volatile compounds (menthol etc.) which are the active ingredients.  So "Throaties" are one of the cough lollies that come carefully double wrapped in order to prevent the volatiles from evaporating off.

Some lamebrain at Woolworths, however, didn't see the point of all that double wrapping so put all the lozenges together in a little plastic bag -- into which all the volatiles promptyly evaporated.  So as soon as you opened the plastic bag, all the stuff you wanted promptly escaped into the air.  So your "Throatie" no longer had any active ingredients.

I found that very frustrating but was consoled to find that a Bangladesdhi grocery on a corner near where I go had the olde "Throaties" in stock.  So I promptly bought 4 of them to tide me over.

Sadly, however, the Bangladeshi grocer is now a Mexican restaurant so when I got a cold recently I had to go in search of "Throaties".  My local chemist did not have them in any form.  Too grand for "Throaties", I guess.

But I knew how widely "Throaties" used to be stocked so on a hunch I called in to my local newsagent.  And there they were.  I bought 4 packs straightaway!

A visit to China

For quite a while now, Joe and I have had the practice of taking a leisurely brunch together on Sunday mornings.  We go to the same place the same time and order the same thing week after week.  That might seem boring to some but Joe and I subscribe to the old Mortein philosophy:  When you are on a good thing stick to it.

Life is change however and that has now come to an end.  Joe and Kate are both workers and Kate thought that weekends were the best time for her and Joe to do things together.  And having Joe spending most of Saturday morning with his old father was inimical to that. So, being obliging souls, Joe and I changed our arrangements to Sunday dinner, with a trip to Sunnybank for Japanese hamburgers being the first case of the new arrangements on Feb 25th.

And Sunnybank is so Chinese that you might almost be in China while there.  I greatly enjoy my occasional trips to the land of the Chin.  They are only 15 minutes drive away so why not.

The Australian population is about 5% Han Chinese these days.    So you see Asian people all around the place in Brisbane -- and many were  born here.  And they do not stand out in any way.  Except for their eyes, they look and behave like any other Australian.

I am always bemused a little by the way the young Chinese women dress.  In summer they wear a lot of short shorts and loose tops -- just as our Anglo ladies do. We also have a few Muslim ladies around the place -- in their vast wrappings -- so the contrast with their "modest" behaviour is great.  The Chinese are not "modest" in that sense. They are one with us.  I mentioned this to Joe -- that normal Chinese dress these days is totally Western -- and he told me that it is the same in Shanghai. He has been to China on work assignments several times.

Anyway, Joe has always been Sinophilic -- as I am -- so is very comfortable with all things Chinese.  And one of the results of there being so many Han in Australia is that we have a couple of suburbs where they tend to congregate.  And Joe and I went there last night for dinner again. And where we went -- Sunnybank -- is almost entirely Chinese.  You could as well be in China.  And I am always delighted to be in a crowd of people who are instinctively civilized.  3,000 years of civilization does leave a mark.

I have no idea how many eateries there are in Sunnybank but there are a lot -- and they are all different. The one Joe took me to last night was very modern.  You ordered from a computer kiosk rather than from a waiter. They have no waiters. That is not very remarkable in that various U.S. McDonalds restaurants also now do that.  But it was a first for Brisbane, I think

But the modernity didn't stop there.  The food was assembled by the chefs onto a very hot iron plate and delivered to you semi-raw. Each dinner would have taken them only minutes to put together.  And when the dinner arrived at your table, you mixed it around for 5 minutes and it was done!  And given the Chinese expertise with herbs and spices, the result was pleasant to eat. It was a good dinner despite minimal human contact in arranging it!

A little sad, however that it took the Chinese to get us up with the latest

Saturday, February 17, 2018

A meeting of minds

It was pleasing to me recently to meet someone else who thinks global warming is a big fraud and who thinks Mr Trump's policies are so good that we need him here in Australia. All that is a bit on the amazing side but it adds to the amazement that this simpatico person is just about as beautiful a woman as you can get. She is married and is also very bright.  She has just completed a higher degree on an important subject in a field that I know a fair bit about.

Her mother and I are friends who occasionally breakfast together.

She is pretty cheesed off about the fact that just about everyone she meets bad-mouths Mr Trump.  So I may get her along to the meetings of the "gang of four" whom I occasionally shout dinner to.  It would be a change for her to find herself among like-minded people. It won't happen immediately but sometime in the next few months I may get her along to join us over my dubious cookery.  All very amazing.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

An outing and a non-outing

A few non-routine events recently: On Friday, I took Anne to the Yeronga club again.  I took her there just before her trip to the Arctic as a birthday dinner but it was a two-for-Tuesday night so all she got for her dinner was two sausages!  So I took her on Friday 9th for a buffet night.  And buffets there are as good as any ever in my opinion so we really did well.  So her birthday was in the end appropriately celebrated.

Then on Monday I had a trip to see a hernia specialist and he agreed that my hernia was so small as to be of no immediate concern.  That was a big relief.  I was not looking forward to being hospitalized.  Been there done that.

Also on Monday a pesky keratosis on my index finger turned out to be a keratocanthoma.  That's good?  Yes.  The keratosis was closely adjacent to a knuckle, which meant that it would need a graft to replace it when excised.  And grafts and I often do not get on well.  I lose them. But a keratocanthoma goes away of its own accord.  It swells up, sort of explodes and then fades away. And it started to die on Monday and it is now only about a half of its former size.  And it was due to be excised on Wednesday.  So I just squeaked in on that one.  But it was a very pleasing outcome.

Then on Wednesday I went in for a couple of other excisions, both on my face.  No fun at all but expert surgery meant that I felt pretty much back to normal on Thursday morning.  I had to skip the booze on Wednesday night and sleep on my back all night but with the help of two Temaz I managed it.

Also on Wednesday, however, was Valentine's day.  I prepared  for it by buying in a bunch of red roses the day before and had said that I would take Anne to a Chinese restaurant for  Peking Duck as a special treat.  When the time came, however, Anne could see that I was feeling a bit unfit after surgery only a couple of hours previously so very kindly gave up her treat to cook me a dinner at home.

I had in my freezer some Jamie Oliver chicken fillets marinated and coated so we had that. I made up a cold collation on a big platter with Rotkohl etc to have with it, which seemed to go well. 

Because we were not opening wine, Anne requested a Martini. I don't drink them myself but the ones I make seem well-received.  I gave Anne a tropical Martini. 

As is well known, a Martini is basically just gin and Vermouth poured over ice cubes.  The proportions you use and various other factors do come into it however.  Everybody has their own recipe. You should, for instance, use fairly small ice cubes so that the liquor and the ice have maximum contact, making the drink cold.  Normally the ice is filtered off rather than left in the drink but for a tropical Martini you leave the ice in.  In hot weather it helps to keep the drink cold.  Whether you can do that may however depend on the size of your cocktail glasses.  Mine are a bit on the large size so everything fits in nicely.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Interesting days recently.

On Sunday morning (4th) Joe and I had our usual brunch.  Joe was in a mood for Maccas so we went there and took our purchases to the Kangaroo Pt cliffs to eat.  It is very scenic there. I had some sort of breakfast burger that was quite good plus a big chocolate shake.  One of the things Joe had was a serve of hotcakes.

Then on the evening of the same day, I hosted a small dinner  dedicated to men's talk.  Joe could not come as his cat had just got sick so he had to go to the vet. But Christopher and Graham were there.  Graham brought along a couple of 19th century British cavalry sabres for display.  I have now asked him to get one for me too.  They were a remarkably fine piece of work considering when they were made.  Chris brought along sidearms:  A replice Colt 45 American army revolver of the 19th century plus a German Luger pistol.  I could see how the Luger "points well", helping you to hit your tahget.

Mostly however we just talked, covering a very wide range of topics.  I explained the sequence of events plus the psychological motivation behind WWI. We got onto the Battle of Jutland, which is a particular interest of mine.  I pointed out that Admiral Scheer ran rings around admiral Jellicoe. And it turned out that Graham had an ancestor on one of the ships that the Kaiserliche Marine sank. We also touched briefly on the Crimean war and the battle of Hastings in 1066.

I noted that our ancestors originally came from the South Baltic shores but something happened that made them want to find greener fields -- crop failures due to global cooling probably.  Anyway some drove South and some got into boats and drove West -- creating Saxony and England respectivelly.  Saxony is a very choice part of the German lands so it is clear that the Saxons were good warriors who won their battles. And in both places where they made their new settlements there were already other people there -- Celts.  So the people of both Saxony and England today are a blend of Saxons and Celts.  When the Celts lost a battle to the Saxons, you can guess what happened to the Celtic women.

And I pointed out that the Celts in our ancestry really were one ethnic group.  Since all the surving Celtic groups in Western Europe speak similar languages -- Welsh, Irish, Cornish, Manx, Breton, Scots Gaelic -- that is very clear.  Other European groups called Celts may however be unrelated.  "Celt" is from "keltoi", the Greek word for "foreigner". We also have Caesar's report in de bello gallico that the Gauls and the British were the one race and respected one-another's priests (Druids).

Christopher was particularly taken with Breton folk-music and noted that it was the theme music to the “Black Hawk down” movie

So those of us with Celtic ancestry have a wide range of cultures to make our own. I believe that the Breton folk scene is particularly lively  -- and it is ours if we want it.

We also talked quite a bit about old motorbikes, particularly remembering our surprise when the Honda Dream first came out.  It upset lots of our conceptions of what motorbikes were like.

We aso noted with approval the ideas of psychologist Jordan Peterson and wondered if he might become a major change agent.

So in discussing men's topics a good time was had by all.

Graham and I next day had a rather traditional brekkie of savoury mince on toast at my place and Graham left shortly afterward to catch his plane back to Melbourne

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

I now have a mine at my place

It's a bitcoin mine and it has already made 5c -- using 50c worth of electricity.

Joe was thinking of setting up his own bitcoin mine but it would have taken some research.  Help however was at hand.  His good friend B.. was up from Sydney for a week's visit. Joe is a valued software engineer but B.. is an absolute computer guru.  So for the last few days my place has hosted two very happy people -- running around getting in the hardware and software needed for the enterprise.  I wonder how many people realize how satisfying computer programming can be?  For those who can do it, it is one of life's great satisfactions.

Computer nerds are supposed to be withdrawn and antisocial but B.. is very chatty and full of laughs.  He is however very mentally sharp and thinks at a high level of generality. He joined Joe and me both at our regular Sunday morning brunch and also at our regular Monday trip to Nando's.  And he livened both of us up.  Joe and I talk to one-another so frequently that it is a wonder that we still find things to talk about.  Mr Trump is a great help there. He is always doing something amusing that invites discussion.  But anyway I talked a lot to B.. -- and listened -- and it was very interesting.  No wonder Joe enjoys his company so much.

Friday, January 26, 2018

A pleasant day under blue skies

Leftists have whipped up a bit of a furore over our celebration of Australia day on 26th January.  They claim it is unfair to blacks.  But the only blacks who seem bothered by it are ones who have been radicalized by Leftists.

Anyway, I celebrated it in the usual Australian way as part of a BBQ type family lunch -- at Jenny's place.  Jenny did us all proud again with an excellent lunch. As well as salads and various canapes she cooked up pork sausages, lamb chops and cevapi.

I bought along the cevapi, bread rolls and a bottle of Seaview champagne. One bottle was just right for the 5 of us to toast the day.  The cevapi were partuclarly welcome as Woolworths has just started stocking them again.  They are the king of sausages in my view. So it was good to have them back.  They were new to Kate but she remarked that they were very good.

Jenny also provided lamingtons, brownies and softdrink as a dessert.  Joe particularly liked the brownies.  They were not hash brownies but they were gluten free.

We did discuss the objections to Australia day but concluded that we liked it just the way it is.   All of us at table had blue eyes so maybe that had something to do with it.  We were all of the same ilk as the early British settlers whose arrival the day celebrates

Anne was in the Arctic enjoying the day-long gloom and such things.  Better her than I!

I noticed that Nanna did not drink much of her champagne but gave it to Kate who scoffed it.  A modern woman!  Joe also gave most of his champagne to Jenny, who absorbed it with no trouble at all. I was the only one who just drank my drink.

After a big lunch I did not feel like much food that night but I eventually made myself a spam and seeded mustard sandwich followed by a bowl of Street's blue ribbon with a mango and passionfruit sauce on it.  Yum!

FOOTNOTE: What is meant by "ilk"?  It is Scottish and means of the same clan. Outside of Scotland, however, it is used more inclusively. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A pre birthday dinner

Anne has just flitted off on her latest trip -- to the Arctic of all places.  She could reasonably be called a travel-holic at the moment.

Which is ironic as I am travel-phobic these days.  I went everywhere I wanted to go in my 30s and it all seems too much bother now.  So she mostly travels with her good-humoured sister or goes alone.  She is a very friendly lady so she still has a lot of social interaction even when she travels alone.

But the amusing thing is that Joe and Kate seem to be in a similar situation.  Joe and I are very different people. He seems to be much more kind-hearted than I am, as one thing. Like his mother he is generally kind whereas I am kind mostly to people I approve of.

But "Like father like son" does emerge at times.  Joe is uninterested in travel too.  But Kate wants to see it all.  Joe took her on a trip all around Europe  about a year ago and apparently thought that he had done his travel duty with that.  When Kate wanted to flit off again he pointed out to her that he had visited eight countries with her.  "But that's just Europe" was her reply. Anyway, latest news is that she is visiting Canada on her own this year.

There are other ways that "Like father like son" emerges.  Two trivial but amusing ways are that we both buy rice bubbles but rarely eat them and we both sit down in an odd way, with the foot of one leg tucked under the other leg.  There is a rather attractive young lady below showing how it's done.  Both Joe and I do it quite unconsciously.  It just seems natural to us.

It so happens that Anne's 39th birthday will come up when she is away this year.  So I offered to take her out for a birthday dinner before she departed.  I took her to a dinner at the Yeronga digger's club.  We mostly go there on a Friday, when they have what must be the best smorgasbord in town.  So I thought that would be as pretty good birthday offering.  This time however we went on a Tuesday, which was quite different.  It was a "two for Tuesday" night.  Which meant that you got two meals for the price of one.  And the place was packed for it.  We were lucky to get a table.  The menu was rather small and basic so the only vaguely interesting thing I could find on it were "Toulouse sausages".  But it turned out that they were quite nice.

Anyway, I also took her to The Phams for breakfast next morning, where she had a Vietnamese omelette, a big and very tasty meal. 

While we were there a mother and a pretty little 10 year old daughter walked in. As soon as the mother lined up to order, the daughter zipped over to the the newspapers, got a "Courier Mail" and started reading it.  The wait was a bit long, however, so as soon as she had taken a good look at the local newspaper, she went over and  got "The Australian" and started reading it.  She was obviously VERY bright for her age.  Her mother had her in a pretty dress and her hair was nicely done so she seemed otherwise quite normal.  I would have LOVED to have her as a daughter.  I have seen many kids in that restaurant but she was the only one ever to display such adult behaviour.  It made my day.

I was an odd one in my childhood too. Most kids have on their bedroom walls posters of sports and movie stars.  I had a big map of Taiwan on my wall, which was big in the news at that time. I actually wrote to Taipei to get that map.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Mrs Possum

One of the more pleasing aspects of Brisbane's older suburbs is that a lot of trees have grown up and that has attracted wildlife.  Scrub turkeys strutting up and down the street are a common sight.  And I once had a magnificent python in my back loo.

But because I have a very luxuriant Mulberry tree right outside my front verandah I occasionally see possums grazing there.  Australian possums are much nicer than American opossums but they are distantly related.  Anyway, our possums are rather bold creatures. They stare you down rather than run away from you.

So today on Saturday night we had an encounter with one.  And it was a Mrs Possum. She was in the middle of my front staircase when I popped out up top and Joe was coincidentally approaching from below.  To have people both in front of her and behind her was too much, however, so she scooted away.

How do I know she was Mrs Possum?  Because she had the most gorgeous baby possum on her back.  We were privileged by her visit.

I have seen lady possums on the tree in front of me in the past.  I have observed her marsupium.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

An interesting dinner

Early last year I initiated dinners with people I remember from my old army unit: 21 Psych.  It was interesting to catch up and hear what others had been up to since the '60s.

So I arranged another dinner tonight.  I was able to get Peter Muir along this time so that was good. I tried to get Peter Ridgewell along as well but I understand he has been very ill.  That reinforces my resolution to put on such dinners annually.  Someone from the unit whom I remember with affection is John French, who is now deceased.  So "do it now" is my resolve for catching up with people.

We were originally going to go to the Chinese restaurant next to the PA hospital at Buranda but they have just gone broke -- so I changed the venue to only a block away, at Zambreros of Buranda, a Mexican restaurant.  Some of the ladies were a bit wary of Mexican chillies so I may go back to Chinese next year.

Old times were of course discussed and even controversial topics like IQ were aired.  I mentioned the well established fact that American blacks are on average a whole standard deviation (15 points) below the white average on IQ and was rightly told that I could get into a lot of trouble these days by saying so. As it happens, however what I said is in fact the official position of the American Psychological Association.  But what scholars can say among themselves may not pass in public of course.

The late Chris Brand was a sad example of that.  Every serious student of ancient history knows that the brilliant civilization of ancient Greece was a pedophilic civilization.  Chris, however, was unwise enough to mention that to one of the newspapers.  Despite having tenure he was fired from his Edinburgh university job over it.  There was such an uproar in the papers that the university didn't have much choice

Anyway, everybody enjoyed the dinner.  Anne had quesadillas and I had a "classic bowl". I shouted the dinner but the total cost was only $88 so it was a small price to pay for good company.

The gathered company, men at the back, Rod Hardaker, Peter Hadgraft, myself and Peter Muir

Two larger photos here and here -- from the camera of Linda Muir, wife of Peter.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

An unusual New Year

I don't usually mark New Year's eve in any way.  I stay at home, eat at home and am always in bed before the fireworks.  Anne however wanted to do something so decided to take another one of her many holidays.  She went up to Binna Burra Lodge for a few nights with some old bushwalking friends.  One of them was an old boyfriend of hers with whom she has often gone bushwalking.  Neither of them are capable of much walking these days but they enjoy what they can of their old bushwalking haunts. I believe that more such outings are planned.

Anne however made it up to me for not being with me on the big night by joining me for dinner on New Years day. We don't normally meet on Mondays.  We went to the Yeronga rissole, which had a very good buffet that night.  The food is always good there and there was such a range that Anne was able to put together for herself an almost entirely seafood plate, which she likes.  I had all sorts, including some quite good gyoza, which is Japanese food.

To drink I had Fourex Gold, which is my usual beer, and for Anne I ordered a glass of Chardonnay.  And there was something unusual about that.  In most pubs and restaurants, if you order wine by the glass, they hand you a glass that is only about a third full  -- which always annoys me.  At the club, however, Anne got a glass that was pretty full.  That will certainly encourage me to go back there.

I noticed a way in which the club had changed over the last couple of years.  The members were once almost entirely white Australians. It was a sort of holdout of the way Australia once was.  This time however, there was a substantial contingent of Chinese.  So they have finally woken up to what good value our  clubs are.  They fitted in perfectly, of course.  Most of the children running around were Chinese -- dressed and behaving indistinguishably from other Australian children. The Chinese are great at fitting in, which is a credit to them.

Then the next night, Tuesday, was one of our usual nights together so we went to the went to the Moreton Bay Sports Club, which is at the top of Anne's street.  It is always pleasant there and the Barramundi we both had for dinner was well cooked and well presented.  They don't have the variety of Yeronga, however.  The male membership there consists almost entirely of elderly white guys with expanded waistlines -- so I fitted in perfectly.