The Time Has Come (the Walrus said) Archives

Tired and cranky

No posts for a while. I’ve been as busy as can be and the effort to write a decent post has eluded me. I’m tired and cranky. That and I’m getting tired of writing about politicians, I’m beginning to sound like a broken record (”politicians, yuk, politicians, yuk… etc etc).

So, a weekly roundup follows.

The dastardly electric shaver has a new lease of life. Unlike Newman’s suggestion, I jammed the plug bit that goes into the shaver in the vice, and gave a jolly good squeeze. This put a bit more tension in the socket parts the mate with the pins on the shaver, and now it don’t fall out no more. The plastic part of the plug thingy looks a bit the worse for wear, but who cares if it gets another year or so from it.

Mr Clock Radio is about to be relegated to land-fill, just as soon as SWMBO lets me throw him away. I bought a new one from Big-W. “The Dream Machine” (gag, chuck) for a mere $30 – pretty much the top of the range from Sony. I figured a big name brand has most to lose by selling rubbish so they are unlikely to do so. Thus far, (excuse the pun) its working like a dream (machine). In other words it tunes in a station properly and does not need the crappy little wire antenna fiddled twice a week. It’s a measure of my tolerance that it took about 5 years to make this decision. So far, $30 well spent.

Mr Dishwasher is out the front of the house (like all good bogans, the front yard is not complete until decorated with surplus white goods). Sunday saw a trip to the local electrical retailer who had a new Dishlex for a tad under $730. This was installed Sunday afternoon, and works fine. HOWEVER, the old one had a much superior system of pins and rack things for putting stuff in. The new one has a layout inside that will take a bit of getting used to (that means I think its crap but I’ll learn to live with it).

Interesting facts on the dishwasher front. Feature for feature, the new and the old as as near as can be to identical. The old one cost $1025, 12 years ago. The new one was $730.

In the intervening 12 years inflation means that the $1025 I spent all that time ago is now equivalent to about $1460 (assuming 3% inflation for 12 years). In real terms this means the price of a dishwasher has HALVED in 12 years. What a crap business to be in where competition does that to your products.

Another interesting comparison is the difference on how they are built. The old one has a steel cover on the back, the new one is plastic laminated cardboard. The old one has coated steel trays/racks, the new one is all plastic. In the new one, every last cent of cost reduction has been used, if there was an opportunity to get a dollar, or less, out of the manufacture cost it has been used. No wonder the Australian dishwasher factory has just closed – the only cost reduction left to the makers is to go offshore to cheaper labour.

As to the fate of the old one, the two boys have asked how much it’s worth. Answer: nothing but scrap metal value. So now they want to take it apart (separating the different metals) and sell all the bits to a scrap metal dealer. I just have to get around, now, to calling one to find how much they might get. And then supervise their work. Result I suspect will be about $5 for metals, and $300 in effective cost of labour to yield said $5. But I won’t rain on their parade.

Today in Dumpsville

Today, in Dumpsville, I’m wondering what will break next.

It’s one of those things about getting married, building a house (years later as funds permit), and moving in with a bunch of thingies and appliances that you had to buy.

As time passes, all the thingies and appliances get old and tired, and start to pack up. Strangely (!), they all seem to be going dodgy or dying at about the same time.

The list to date, for disasters real or impending:

  • Mr Fridge – keeps making humungous icicles in the fridge compartment. When they threaten to pick the fridge up and walk away we attack them with a hair drier, that puts ‘em in their place for a while. Mr Fridge is already on thermostat #2, and it’s only a matter of time now before he decides he’s had enough and goes bust in a big way. He’s over 20 years old but I have no confidence in him seeing out another 20. So far he’s manageable, but we are on notice.
  • Mr Dishwasher – has been getting increasingly unreliable over the last 6 months. He fills with water and gets part way into a cycle before giving up and sitting there petulantly flashing a light. The instruction book gives no indication of what the flashing light means. I’ve pulled him apart and tried a few of the more obvious electronical thingumy fixes (hot soldering iron over dodgy looking joints, etc) but to no avail. These days Mr Dishwasher actually manages to complete about every 4th load, so we wash the dishes by hand. After a few weeks of that we remember why we bought Mr Dishwasher in the first place. And Mr Dishwasher is a mere spring chicken – still new – at only 12 years old. I think he’ll be replaced this weekend. That’ll teach him.
  • Mr Electric Shaver – still a whipper-snapper at only 24 years old, but parts like a foil are getting increasingly hard to come by. To add insult to injury, his power cord keeps falling out, usually 3 or 4 times during a shave, accompanied by sparks, fizzing noises and the smell (ah!) of ozone.
  • Mr Vacuum Cleaner the second. Well Mr Vac the First packed up quite a while ago and after having him sit around moping for years I finally put him in the rubbish a couple of weeks ago. Now the same fate awaits Mr Vac the Second, who lasted only 4 years. Mind you, if vacuum cleaner abuse was a crime I’d be languishing in jail. Fortunately the successor, Mr D, is still going strong. As he should, seeing as how much he cost and how new he is.
  • Mr Door Handle. The latch to the bathroom door packed up, after a mere 16 years. All it involved was a dinky little spring thingy inside the bit that pokes the latchy part out. A couple of screws to remove from the door, and Bob in theory is your uncle. Trouble is the latchy thingy part (that being the technical term for those so minded) is all press-and-deform-fit manufactured so it’s a case of throw it out and buy another. A trip to the local hardware store resulted in a replacement for a mere $9, a bargain if only it had been the right size. Turns out there are two sizes of latchy thingy parts and I had bought the smaller of the two. ANOTHER trip back to local hardware store to get money back, then off to the Monster Bunnings Monster Shed Monster Warehouse place, where about an hour of aimless wandering finally took me to where they had both sizes and I could buy the part I needed. 10 minutes to fit it and a door that closes and latches nicely again. Ahhhh.
  • Mr Range Hood. After a mere 15 years he went on the blink but a short repair job set him right. For a while. Then the other day he decided to have the last laugh, and he stopped working completely. Weird thing is, after a day of cursing him for going ga-ga again, he’s been fine since. Perhaps there are gremlins in the power lines, perhaps he was listening to the curses, or perhaps he’s just waiting for the chance to get back at me again. Either way I have the feeling he’s on borrowed time.
  • Mr Clock Radio has been playing up for a mere 8 years, regularly losing the tuning. He worked fine for the first 6 months after purchase, then went off his trolley one day and has been in need of valium ever since. His days are numbered!

So what disaster lieth next?

Perhaps Mr Washing Machine, who periodically stops because parts of the electrical wiring fall off some of the insidey-growly-bits. But we figured out ages ago how to fix that by leaning him over and propping him up on a paint can, and plugging back on the bits that came off. But there must be a bigger disaster lurking.

Perhaps Mr Hot Water Heater, who is 16 years old, mains pressured and operating off Adelaide’s notorious water. He must be about 1/2 full of sludge and mud by now, not to mention corroded. It’s only a matter of time before he drops his guts and we have 2 or 3 days of no hot water, during winter naturally, while he gets replaced. Which leads to an interesting thought. Do filthy stinking rich people ever have hot water heaters that fail? And if they do, what do they do about it? Do they shower at somebody else’s house, or boil pots of water on the stove for having a bath? Oops – perish the thought. Hotels, darlings, of course!

So… we wait… for the next disaster.

This kiddies, is why accountants invented DEPRECIATION. If I’d been tipping a few dollars a week into a special replacement account after buying all these gadgets and gizmos, then the replacement would be a painless exercise. But depreciations funds are for woosies!

Piss and vinegar

We’ve been given a Vinegar Mother.

For thems what’s not in the know, this is a thing that converts wine into wine vinegar.

It looks a bit like a bowl full of placenta. Every now any again you need to divide the “mother” , to prevent it getting too big. We are still not sure exactly what to do with it, these folks seem helpful.

So far we have been feeding it – a couple of glasses of left over red wine. (LEFT-OVER WINE? IS THERE ANY SUCH THING!?)

We made the mistake of putting it in the bathroom, which led to the discovery of the most obvious downside: the smell.

Making vinegar comes with its own delightful smell, which in this case is a bit like the whiff of really bad foot odour on a summers day.

The combination of the look (a big red thing – hence the placenta description above) and the smell means it’s off to a poor start. This does all lead though to the obvious question: What’s the vinegar like? So far, we have no had it long enough to tell so we haven’t a clue. :)


With thanks to Duncan…

This is rather neat, finding strange space to go crawling through and around, and the discovery of the tea-pot.

Playing the numbers game

Have you all noticed how politicians and bureaucrats have adopted the habit of quoting how much money they will spend on the problem-of-the-day, by quoting over some period of years?

I can hazard a guess why: because it makes the numbers sound better.

For example: Let’s spend $100 million on new technical education places. For the whole country.

Do a quick figuring, spread around amongst a few states, lets assume a few million here and there. How much difference does this really make? Answer – not much.

Bit of a fizzer, easy to see through.

What to do to sound grandiose?

Ah hah!

How about spending $1 BILLION over 10 years!!!

Now that’s SERIOUS money.

The difference between a visionary and a miser – it’s all in the presentation!!

We get this all the time now, from (Labor) state governments, and the (Liberal) Federal government. All playing the same pathetic game, and even more sadly, our compliant media don’t tackle them or do any serious analysis.

Just to add to the confusion, some things are quoted for the next year, some over 2 years, some 3, some 4, some 5 and just recently, the 10 year duration has reared its ugly head. Meaningful comparison becomes close to impossible unless you are in the habit of lugging working paper and a pocket calculator around.

Meantime Joe and Josephine Public just get this rubbish hurled at them, soak it up or treat it with the contempt it deserves. Any pollies wonder why they have no credibility.

Thanks Lil Sister

From my sister (well, her husband actually). Who have a child. Hypocrites!
By Philip Larkin (1922 – 1985): “This be the verse“:

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.

Make your own Limoncello in 3 easy lessons

Ever had Limoncello? It’s an Italian liqueur. It usually comes from the bottle shop, in a small bottle of about 100 to 150 ml, for some outrageous price – that size bottle is usually $15 to $20.

You can make your own, especially if you have a lemon tree that’s going crazy and dumping lemons like there’s no tomorrow. And, you don’t need 3 easy lessons, you only need 3 months.

All Italians reading: stop now if you are easily offended, OR leave comments and criticise my method!

To make about a litre, or maybe a bit more:

Grab yourself a load of lemons – about 10 – 15 will do, the exact amount does not matter a huge lot so long as you have plenty. Make sure they are clean. Wash them if you need to, and gently dry.

dscn1683.JPGZest them. You want the yellow part of the skin and not the pith. The white pith makes it bitter and yuk. To zest, use one of these:

They are available in most good cookery shops, or even Woolies, for only a couple of $. They do a good job. Using a sharp knife or a vegetable peeler is the pits. :( Don’t bother.

Use your zester to scrape off as much of the yellow lemon skin as you can, scoop it up and put it in a glass jar for which you have a screw top sealing lid. You will have lemon oil all over yourself, the bench, the zester, and so on. The lemon oil is important for the Limoncello. Don’t waste it. It will also clean grot off your benchtops and your hands. :)

So, having put all the zest in your jar, add about 3/4 litre of vodka. Screw on the lid. Leave it in a warm place for about 3 months.

Stronger (and more expensive) vodka is better. Don’t use flavoured vodka!


About 6 months later, having discovered a jar of yellow stringy looking stuff in some strange warm place, you need to strain it and add a sugar syrup.

dscn1684.JPGStraining is just done with a tea-strainer to get the big bits out. To clarify it further, use a muslin cloth.

This will help filter the smaller of the lumpy bits out.

You may also need to squeeze out the lemon skin to get the last of the lemony vodka out of it. Nothing much is ideal for this. Try squeezing in your fist over a strainer.

This should all end up yielding a bit more than 1/2 litre of stuff that looks a bit like horses pee and smells very strongly of lemon.

Now warm about 3/4 – 1litre of water with about 3-4 cups of sugar, until the sugar is dissolved. Let this cool. Add to the vodka/lemon mix, and bottle. You might want to add some of the syrup and hold back a bit, so you can taste the result and add more syrup if you think its needed.

You can drink this straight, chilled, in a SMALL glass.

On a summer afternoon, try pouring it over crushed ice and then sipping slowly.

Or, mix like a lemon cordial with sparkling soda water to make a refreshing lemon drink with a bit of a kick. Only for the adults, though.

And if all this is too hard, just buy it from the bottle shop. Bottoms up!

Sniff the breeze, liddle chilluns, what do you smell?

You don’t have to sniff the breeze much to tell there is an election coming.

Todays Weekend Financial Review contains not one, but three, yes three full page adverts placed by the Federal Government.

Page 8: “A stronger safety net for Working Australians”, setting out the propaganda for the new workplace law changes that were announced on Friday. The copywriters have been awfully busy, or they were already primed up.

And then, pages 10 and 11: “How we’re improving Private Health to cover Australia’s growing health needs”. More propaganda that seems awfully similar to what they out before the previous election.

It’s sooooo nice to see our tax dollars being used wisely. Of course, none of this is trying to counter the campaign being run by Labor or the unions (and done with money they had to raise). Oh no, of course not, this is taxpayers dollars being spent on a public education campaign. Indeedy-deedy.

New media ownership laws

Peter Andren, Independent Member of the Federal Parliament, has a good article on “Australians All“, about the new media landscape now that the rules have been changed.

This, especially is worth the quote:

Already private equity groups with no public good incentive are jockeying to exploit the new market, where quick profit rules. The haste in which these changes were implemented through a compliant if slim Senate majority, with deals underway before the parliamentary debate started, suggests a policy outcome totally driven by the industry. It will be worth checking the media political donation lists when next they are reported. Unfortunately donations up to $10,000 need no longer be declared. How convenient.

See, it’s not only the Lefty Labor side who whinge about the changes, at least one of the Independents is capable of thinking the issue through as well.

The complete article is worth reading, it’s not very long.

One has to wonder what the ruling Libs were thinking.

What’s the difference between…

A normal person and a scientist / engineer ?

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