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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Will we ever know the truth?

A glass of Wombat White with a slice of lemon


If you are a shopaholic, Vinnies will indulge you for less than ten dollars. The range of goods on offer changes constantly: this week's 'special' was a black-and-red négligée with attached handcuffs for just a dollar! Since the staff was reluctant to model it for me, I stayed in the book section where I found some interesting reading:

The People Smuggler The true story of Ali Al Jenabi, the 'Oskar Schindler of Asia' by Robin de Crespigny

Under Water to Get Out of the Rain A love affair with the sea by Trevor Norton

What the Dog Saw and other adventures by Malcolm Gladwell

How to be a Megalomaniac (or Advice to a Young Politician) by Mungo MacCallum

Life Without the Boring Bits by Colleen McCullough

The serious shopping took place a little later in a department store where the wife picked through the swimwear to eventually find her matching size of XP (extra plump) at a staggering hundred dollars. There was a time when you could have built a whole swimming pool for that kind of money!

There was just enough time left before lunch at the bowling club to quaff one of Billy's Specials, a glass of Wombat White with a slice of lemon, served by no other than Billy himself. The club was packed with bingo players who were frantically crossing out numbers for such delectable prizes as bottles of tomato sauce, dishwashing detergents, and six-packs of toilet paper. The caller's final announcement that next Tuesday's bingo would be cancelled because of the Melbourne Cup was met by a collective moan of disappointment. This is truly the bingo that stops a town!

A beautiful lunch of roast beef, followed by a few laps in the pool, and we were on our way home again.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Shorty won't shorten your life


A group representing Australian general practitioners says that prostate cancer tests do 'more harm than good' and the risks of being screened for prostate cancer outweigh the benefits. In its latest book of preventative health guidelines, the Royal Australian College for GPs advises its members not to recommend prostate cancer screening to patients. Professor Chris Del Mar from Bond University on the Gold Coast says the process is invasive and can lead to health problems.

"To find out whether you've got it involves an involved diagnostic procedures, a biopsy done through the rectum into the prostate," Professor Del Mar said.

While there's a 50 per cent chance men over the age of 60 will have the disease, Professor Del Mar says prostate cancer is entirely benign in most cases. Professor Del Mar says if he had the disease, he would not want to know. "The chances are - still - that it won't ever shorten my life," he said.

He says patients who are tested often develop serious infections, erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence. Professor Del Mar says he is concerned about public awareness campaigns encouraging men to be screened for prostate cancer. "There's a lot of confusion in the minds of GPs and the general public," he said. "Screening for prostate cancer ends up doing more harm than good."

The published statistics on prostate cancer show that single men are diagnosed much less frequently than married men. On the other hand, married men diganosed with prostate cancer live longer than single men with the disease. The conclusion that can be drawn from this is that men should stay single, but should get married if diagnosed with prostate cancer.

There you have it! Reminds me of a friend who some time ago went to see a urologist. He asked him, "What does the prostate do?" to which the urologist replied, "Makes me a lot of money!"

If you really have to do it, you may want to try this traditional Chinese method:

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Pirates of Penzance

Selling programmes at the door. Tarantara! tarantara! tarantara!


This weekend's 'cultural event' was our visit to the Bay Theatre Players who performed The Pirates of Penzance after which we had our usual 'Barramundi Night' at the golf club.


The barramundi, being a shy fish, is hiding under the chips

The problems we face today are there because the people who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living


This was written by a 21-year-old female who gets it. It's her future she'’s worried about and this is how she feels about the social welfare system that she'’s being forced to live in! These solutions are just common sense in her opinion.

"Put me in charge of Centrelink payments. I'd get rid of cash payments and provide vouchers for 50kg bags of rice and beans, blocks of cheese, basic sanitary items and all the powdered milk you can use. If you want steak, burgers, takeaway and junk food, then get a job.

Put me in charge of Medicare. The first thing I'd do is to get women to have birth control implants. Then, we'll test recipients for drugs, alcohol, and nicotine. If you want to reproduce, use drugs, drink alcohol or smoke, then get a job.

Put me in charge of government housing. Ever lived in military barracks? You will maintain our property in a clean and good state of repair. Your "home" will be subject to inspections anytime and possessions will be inventoried. If you want a plasma TV or Xbox 360, then get a job and your own place.

Put me in charge of compulsory job search. You will either search for employment each week no matter what the job or you will report for community work. This may be clearing the roadways and open spaces of rubbish, painting and repairing public housing, whatever we find for you. We will sell your 22-inch rims and low profile tires and your dooff dooff stereo and speakers and put that money toward the “common good.

Before you write that I've violated someone's rights, realise that all of the above is voluntary. If you want our hard-earned cash and housing assistance, accept our rules. Before you say that this would be "demeaning" and ruin someone's "self esteem," consider that it wasn't that long ago that taking someone else's money for doing absolutely nothing was demeaning and lowered self-esteem.

If we are expected to pay for other people's mistakes, we should at least attempt to make them learn from their bad choices. THE CURRENT SYSTEM REWARDS THOSE WHO MAKE BAD CHOICES.

AND WHILE YOU ARE ON CENTRELINK INCOME, YOU NO LONGER HAVE THE RIGHT TO VOTE! For you to vote would be a conflict of interest. If you want to vote, then get a job. "

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Teach a man to fish and he'll pay you €2,900 on a twin-share basis

Yours truly at the entrance to the old Niua'Kalo Hotel in 2006


When I travelled through the tiny Kingdom of Tonga in 2006, I befriended the resident expat Horst Berger on the island of Lifuka. As we cycled the length of the island, he took me to the former Niua'Kalo Beach Hotel where he bemoaned his lack of money to bring this place, slowly decaying under the hot tropical sun, back to life.

Well, somebody else has done so since: in a Hibernian-Teutonic joint venture, Brian Heagney and Sabine Frank of Fins'n'Flukes have done a great job in restoring the place and now offer tourist accommodation in four double and twelve single rooms at very reasonable rates.

I mean, why stay at the vastly overpriced Sandy Beach Resort when you can live it up for a fraction of the price on Coco Beach?

While browsing Sandy Beach's website, I found this little rip-off:

Click to open pdf file in separate window

For a trifling €2,900 they'll teach you how to make a fire, open a coconut, and catch a fish, after which they dump you on tiny Luahoko Island so you can turn yourself into a latter-day Robinson Crusoe.

Ah, and yes, they also give you a mobile phone so you can call them back next morning after you've scratched yourself into a bloody mess during the first night under the stars with millions of mosquitoes and sandflies for company.

Morgenstund hat Gold im Mund


A foggy morning usually turns into a hot day. I love these early mornings when everything is quiet and everybody is asleep. Except for me as I wander, cup of tea in hand, among the trees and let my thoughts do the same. All too soon, the sun comes out, and the birds in the trees, and the boats on the river, and the spell is broken. Until the next morning.


In the meantime, don't complain about not being able to read this blog's title. You blew your chance in '45. As did Mark Twain a long time before you when he decided he would rather decline two drinks than one German adjective. I drink to that!

Friday, October 26, 2012

For those who are pleased to see the back of me


The Shan bag on the wall reminds me of who I am (both in English and Burmese) and the DVDs stacked against the wall of the work still ahead of me as I copy the best of my old video tapes. Occupational therapy in retirement!

My constant companion in retirement is ABC Radio National. Right now I am listening to The Challenge of the Mid-life Crisis and have just realised I have had a mid-life crisis all my life! Thanks for that, Radio National! Not only wouldn't I know what to do without you, I also wouldn't know what I am without you!


Phallic immortality


New Guinea is forever linked to the phallic immortality of Errol Flynn. The documentary The Adventures of Errol Flynn includes rare footage and revealing interviews with Flynn; his oldest daughter, Deirdre Flynn; his widow, Patrice Wymore Flynn; and Olivia de Havilland, who talks frankly about her relationship with Flynn and the many movies they made together. Also featured are interviews with Richard Schickel, Burt Reynolds, Richard Dreyfuss, Joanne Woodward and many others. The film is a balanced portrait of this larger-than-life figure who became as famous for his off-screen adventures as his on-screen charisma.

I've just read again Roger McDonald's hugely entertaining book FLYNN which is a racy, rollicking tale of this young scoundrel who became a Hollywood legend. And it provides an interesting counterpoint to Flynn's autobiography My Wicked, Wicked Ways, published in 1959, the same year he died of liver failure, amongst other causes [read more].

Another book, dealing more exclusively with Errol Flynn's days in New Guinea, is The Young Errol Flynn Before Hollywood.

My Canadian friend's wife knew Errol Flynn more intimately than any other woman: she was a laboratory technologist at the time of his death and had the dubious honour of putting his liver in a jar for preservation and training purposes after his autopsy was completed. It remains in a preserved state at the University of British Columbia to this day.

Errol Flynn lived for half a century the sort of life adolescents dream of but men dare not attempt.

Here is an interesting Erroll Flynn blog. And here is another one.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Les enfants du marais


By far my most favourite French movie and well worth watching once again now that spring is here. And yes, of course, it has frogs in it! ☺



Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Best feel-good story of the year!


Just came home after a day at the pool in Ulladulla and heard of this incredible story of luck and inspiration! If this does not touch your heart, then nothing will! Can you believe it? This guy wins $181 million in the lottery and then finds the love of his life just two days later. Talk about luck!

In my own small way I was lucky too when I found an as-good-as-new copy of Colleen McCullough's Morgan's Run and Bryce Courtenay's The Persimmon Tree. There was a time when I would have happily paid the cover price of $49.95 but thanks to Vinnies, they cost me no more than a gold coin each.

'In for a penny, in for a pound', I thought to myself and lashed out another 10 cents on a video of Humphrey Bogart in The Harder They Fall and Edge of Darkness with Errol Flynn which I will copy onto DVD.

Instead of going to the club for lunch as usual, we visited a small eatery which is generally full, due no doubt, we thought, to its excellent food but more so, as it turned out, because it only has two tables. Run by a married couple (if the arguments from within the kitchen were anything to go by), their 'Special of the Day' featured a heavily-battered 'Fisherman's Basket' which was, in fact, just batter cut into the shape of various seafoods. We later heard it said that the basket itself was more edible. Back to the club next week!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Everybuddy needs a drinking buddy


Sunday morning at "Riverbend". The sun is still in hiding but it promises to be a warm day. Padma has gone to the Country & Western Music at the village hall. It's time for me to have a drink with my buddy.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

The garden gnomes are hard at work


Radishes, cucumbers, tomatoes, spring onions, capsicums, and beans, plenty of beans, are slowly rearing their little green heads in our vegie garden. Well done, garden gnomes!



And they're all very crunchy, very tasty, and very nutritious because they grow in soil full of worms and natural nutriments with not an ounce of artificial fertiliser.

According to Alex Podolinsky, a naturally fed plant's needs are determined by the sun. In this situation the plant never indulges, never eats too much and all it eats is converted and slowly assimilated. In an artificial fertiliser feeding process, when the plant takes in its water supply, it has to take in soluble salts. To compensate for too much salt the plant takes in more water. Because the plant can't let go of the excess water (its high salt content would then effect it) there is less transpiration and less light intake (less natural regulation by the sun). Thus the overfed plant loses its nutritious qualities and more importantly its taste.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Bali Hai


Why spend millions on such a property at home when you can buy it in exotic Bali for a fraction of the price? (and, of course, you can rent, too, at a similarly reduced price)

Located in quiet North Bali, high up in the hills near Sukasada, overlooking the rice fields and the Bali Sea beyond, and far away from the oppressive coastal heat, is this little beauty.

View Larger Map

Right now I'm still stuck here at "Riverbend" but you won't see me for dust once I've sold up!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

In memoriam


born 7.10.1923 - died 18.10.2003


Do not stand at my grave and weep;

I am not there. I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.

I am the diamond glints on snow.

I am the sunlight on ripened grain.

I am the gentle autumn's rain.

When you awaken in the morning's hush,

I am the swift uplifting rush

of quiet birds in circled flight.

I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry;

I am not there. I did not die.


Vale Dave!

Dave and I on the platform of Babinda Railway Station
when I was on my way to Cairns in early 2011


Just received this bit of sad news: "Peter, letting you know that David Richardson, married to June's mother, ex Thursday Island, now of Babinda, passed away on Monday 15th Oct. He was 82 (?)"

Dave and I had been friends since my time on Thursday Island in 1977 where he worked as carpenter for the Department of Aboriginal and Islander Affairs (DAIA) and also renovated the company house I occupied while working for the Island Industries Board (IIB).

He was a tough little 'Pommie bastard' who'd come out east with the British army fighting the insurgents in what was then Malaya. After demob he moved to Australia and for many years worked on Thursday Island. He kept a shack on Prince of Wales Island (POW) which we sometimes visited. All good memories!

Dave in his dinghy; beach at Hospital Point in background (1977)

Dave's shack on Prince of Wales Island (1977)

Waterfall behind Dave's shack during wet season (1977)

I'd only just mailed a postcard to him a few days ago. It'll no doubt come back as he's moved to a place even Australia Post can't reach. It was good having known you, Dave! Rest in Peace.

Another day at Ulladulla

A retired accountant gone to the dogs at Ulladulla


It's been our one-day-a-week-away-from-Riverbend day which we spent swimming at the pool in Ulladulla, lunching on a Thai chicken curry at the bowling club, and shopping at our favourite op-shops, Vinnies and Uniting Churhch.

I picked up The Olive Grove - An exhilarating account of leaving the city for life on the land by Patrice Newell who turns out to the partner of Phillip Adams, presenter of Radio National's Late Night Live, my night-cap for the last twenty years, and the property their farm called Elmswood in the Upper Hunter Valley. And Ted Morgan's biography of one of my favourite writers, Somerset Maugham. And for the little woman I picked up How to Kill Your Husband (and other handy household hints) by Kathy Lette (I am still searching for the opposite title for my own reading pleasure).

I also bought - for the princely sum of 10 cents, today's price for yesterday's technology! - a video of Orson Welles' The Stranger which I have since dubbed onto DVD.

And that's it for another week.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Did you hear about the Swedes ... ?


Did you hear about the Swede who brought his binoculars to a funeral because they were going to bury a distant relative?

Did you hear about the Swede who was asked if he had lived in Stockholm all his life? "Not yet," he answered.

Did you hear about the Swede who hijacked a submarine and asked for 100.000 Kronor in ransom and a parachute?

Did you hear about the Swede who went ice-fishing and returned home with 10lbs of ice?

Did you hear about the Swedish abortion clinic that has a one-year waiting list?

Did you hear about the Swede who flunked his urine test?

Did you hear about the Swedes who've just now awarded the European Union the Nobel Peace Prize?

A photo of the last dope-free Tour de France

Real estate agents' latest euphemism

A Nelligen "Lifestyle Photo"


There was a time when houses were advertised as having "filtered water views" if one was prepared to stand on tip-toes on the roof, crane one's neck, and look in the direction of New Zealand.

Things are a lot easier now: an enticing photo of whatever scenic landmark is within half an hour's drive of the property for sale is now included in the sales pitch as a "Lifestyle Photo".

LJ Hooker and Elders have started the trend and the other six local agents won't be far behind. I can already see agents in the outer west of Sydney including a "Lifestyle Photo" of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

And here's a "Lifestyle Sign":

P.S. Robert Bryce, are you taking notes? ☺ (or should that be ☻ since you now live in Fiji?)

Good on you, Godfrey!

Slippery Slipper

Peter Slipper earning his $275,000 a year PLUS PLUS PLUS ...


Make sure you are sitting down before you read this: Under the law, Peter Slipper may well be entitled to the presumption of innocence. But it's a miracle he got the Speaker's job, given the rows over his expenses. But of course we all know why he got the job in the first place.

Whether he's rorted the system or not, Slippery Pete sure knows how to spend our money, racking up more than $1.8 million since 2007 in travel and office expenses, which we taxpayers have been asked to reimburse.

In 2009 and again in 2010, Slipper claimed more than $700,000 in expenses a year, at the rate of almost $2,000 a day. Yes, that's $2,000 a day!

This included regular $300 taxi trips from Brisbane Airport to his home on the Sunshine Coast; a $15,800 study trip to Argentina; and annual vehicle expenses of more than $40,000.

In just two months in 2011, Slipper racked up $4595.40 in overseas calls from his mobile phone. Hasn't the man ever heard of Skype?

Locals in his constituency of Fisher became so outraged by his spending sprees that almost 3000 of them signed a petition last year demanding a full audit of his expenses over the last 10 years.

The Finance Department in Canberra then audited his 2009 claims but did not publish its findings. However, it did call in the Australian Federal Police who began investigating allegations of misuse of his fuel card, ­possibly by staff, ­before Slipper was given the Speaker's job.

So just what has he been getting in his current position? As Speaker of the House, Peter Slipper is paid a salary of more than $275,000 a year. That's nearly twice what an ordinary MP receives. He also gets FREE business-class air travel anywhere in Australia and overseas; provided he is on parliamentary, electorate or official business. He is paid $253 a night for staying in Canberra, and up to $371 a night for staying in other Australian cities.

He also gets free car travel anywhere in Australia. This includes a COMCAR plus driver in Canberra, taxis, self-drive hire cars, and a private car for personal and family use (for which he has to contribute $711 a year), plus a fuel card to pay for petrol.

And what will he get if he goes? If Peter Slipper resigns as an MP or is voted out at the next election he will get almost $114,000 a year (inflation-proofed) for the rest of his life. That includes the extra $3800 in pension he has racked up for his five months in the Speaker's job. This is obscene.

If this makes you as mad as it made me, send it to every taxpayer you know who will be voting at the next election.

Greed and corruption are rampant in the land and we have to do something to stop it. Remember this example of politicians at the next election!

And remember that the Labor Party employed nineteen lawyers who worked on the Government’s defence of the Slipper / Ashby case at a cost of more than $700,000. Also, a portrait of Peter Slipper has been commissioned for $30,000. Where will they hang it; in the men's lavatory? All of which pales into insignificance, of course, when compared to the more than $1.8 million spent so far - and counting! - by Fair Work Australia on external legal and accounting advice for its investigation into the rorting of HSU funds.

P.S. ... and if you really want to get put off your food and feel like emigrating, follow The Pickering Post.