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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

We may be in for a bit of a noisy time


The last vacant block in Sproxton Lane - a mere slip of a block at 20 metres wide and 80 metres long (as are all the others) - sold for $750,000. The SOLD sticker is still fresh, but already the surveyors are pegging out the boundaries which can only mean one thing: the noisy construction work is about to start.

All the more reason to be grateful that we're right at the end of the lane with a whole seven acres between us and the rest of the world.



Love at first sight


It was love at first sight when I discovered this retro-look radio at Dick Smith! So many memories for just $49.99! It took me right back to the early 1960s when I'd borrowed an almost identical-looking "Kofferradio" - "Koffer" means suitcase which just about sums up the size and weight of those early transistor radios - from my older sister. It helped me brighten up my evenings in a rented room far away from home and almost made me forget the old lumpy bed and primitive jug-and-bowl wash-stand.

This 'new' retro radio is authentic right down to the dial which shows all the old stations such as Hilversum, Budapest, and Luxemburg. Needless to say, I have it permanently tuned to a music station that plays Golden Oldies all day long!



Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Apostrophiser


Right, thats it! Sorry, that's it! I'm going to build myself an eight-foot-long 'apostrophiser' and become a 'grammar vigilante' in Batemans Bay. I mean, why take all that smart-arse knowledge with me to my grave for worms to untangle?

One man's (mans' ? mans?) campaign may be another man's castles in Spain but a quick survey around the Bay tells me that I'll be kept busy for the rest of my life.

Mind you, being the pedant that I am, I won't call myself a 'grammar vigilante' as apostrophes are about punctuation rather than grammar. Maybe I just call myself 'connard'. It sounds so much nicer in French.



Happy Birthday, John!


I hope it was a good year for you! I shall pour myself an extra-large glass of Chateau Cardboard this afternoon and drink to your very good health! Have a good one!

Mine started off badly: I phoned an expensive 1800 "Hear me moan" number and got a recording of a woman nagging her husband for not doing the jobs around the house. I could've got that one for free!




Monday, July 24, 2017

I keep six honest serving-men

Rudyard Kipling's 'The Elephant's Child' from 'Just So Stories'


Rudyard Kipling's poem "I keep six honest serving-men" has long been my favourite. So much so that I had a calligrapher inscribe it on a piece of vellum which I framed and hung above my office desk wherever I worked.

So when I became financial controller for a big commodity trader in Saudi Arabia who regularly bought grain in bulk, shipped it to Singapore for bagging, and then sold it in 50kg-bags, it didn't take me long to ask why 20,000 metric tonnes of grain, bought in bulk, should still be only 20,000 metric tonnes after it had been stuffed into 400,000 bags.

How could that be? What about each bag's tare weight of 500 grams? Where had the 200 metric tonnes of grain gone that had been displaced by the weight of the bags? And who had taken them?

Peter in Saudi Arabia                                                             Asking my Arab boss was of little help as he had never heard of tare weight. It took me a whole day - and a lot of TAREing-out of hair while sipping dozens of thimble-sized cups of cardamom-flavoured coffee - to convince him that there was something missing. A whole 200 metric tonnes of grain, in fact, from each shipment!

As it turned out, the Chinese bagging contractor in Singapore had not only been handsomely paid by us for the cost of the bags and the labour and the equipment hire but he had also profiteered from the 200 metric tonnes of grain displaced by the weight of the bags which he quietly sold off on his own account - several times a year and at a time when the grain sold for as much as US$800 a metric tonne!

And there was nothing we could do about it as my Arab boss had allowed him to write his own bagging contract which stated - ever so innocently - that each bulk shipment would be reshipped "gross for nett".

Arabs (and many other people, I am sure) don't like to be outsmarted and they like even less to be found out to have been outsmarted. So, yes, we did engage a new bagging contractor and, yes, this time we did write our own contract terms, but, no, my boss never thanked me for having put a stop to this outrageous rip-off. (I never received a Christmas card from the previous bagging contractor either!)

I reflected on this and many other work experiences as I idly paged through my collection of employers' references. Once so highly treasured, they are now, in my retirement, just so many pieces of paper. The mere tare weight of an engrossing career in commerce.

See related story Look what I found on the Internet.