The Budget.

May 3, 2016

Our family about 1960. Frank second from left.

Our family about 1960. Frank second from left.


Our treasurer, Mr Scott Morrison had all the manners of a Moses holding his staff moments before parting the Red Sea. In fact a sea of red and obstinate budget debts is really closer to the truth. In the aftermath of his reading of the budget and recommending it triumphantly to the House, he started to be interviewed and questioned by prominent journalists. Those, whose job it is to keep the finger on the pulse and report back to the population at large. Millions of viewers were glued to the flat screens, sound bars turned up, not a word to be missed.
Innovation, jobs and growth were the catch words.

Now if this was Germany or Finland, the innovation would be pared to alternative energy. You know, solar- wind, saving the planet, showing the world real innovation. Australia, the sunniest and windiest continent in the world, but…no. Not a word. Our PM knows his hands are tied. The old guard fuddy-duddies, the clueless uncles of clinging to the past still holding him to ransom. But, hang on, our Turnbull was going to change and steer us into the future. Get away from onion eating monarchy loving PMs.

Sadly, no such thing. Back to the past and sleep and snore…The LNP the slumber party.

As for the “Almost There,” just a few more days. The final proof has been done, but each time I open the file, another spelling or funny fault turns up. Yesterday an extra f in off. It should have been a single f. I am so sick of reading my own words. It is naval gazing at its worst. A kind of verbal attempt at bungie jumping at the end of a metal chain. A most jarring experience.

But, take heart, dear readers. I am almost ready to send my second book off to the editor, the brilliant David Burton in the UK. This time, the paper-back edition will appear first and then the kindle version. I have dug into my reservoir of short bits on my Word-Press blog and found enough for many publications into the future. In the meantime I will just ramble on as it comes. The aim is to publish the words in book format as well as on WP. I shall also try and upgrade the Heading of my blog, and advertise the books at the top that I have noticed many of you do as well.

There seems to have seeped a certain lethargy into the present. An autumnal sweeping of brown leaves swirling before the bare skeletons of trees shown up stark in the evening chill. Perhaps a trip up North to warm balmy ocean shores is needed. But then again, all that sand and harsh sun-light, bags of tourists’ fries and hamburgers wafting around. We are both lovers of shade and cinnamon. Perhaps a good walk with Milo will do the trick. We will be asked; ‘How old is your Jack Russell?’ ‘He is eleven now.’ ‘Gee, he still looks very young, almost like a puppy.’ Milo looks up, but goes into a fury when a Harley Davidson roars by. He strains at his lead. Intend on killing the bike and rider.

He lifts anyone’s spirit. He really does.

The magic of Finnish Education.

May 3, 2016

Finland’s children do better at school by going to school less! It seems contradictory but it is not. Not only that, but they do not get any homework either. Have a look at this video.

With the latest female refugee setting herself alight at the death-camp of Nauru, the second within a week of doing so, and the dreadful stance of our Government on refugees. ( Our own PM, Turnbull stating ‘we must not get too misty eyes'( about refugees) we might get to the real reason of our well ingrained acceptance of bullying and torturing of refugees. We simply are just not educated and developed enough to understand the meaning of empathy and understanding of those outside our own narrow little world.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-03/dutton-says-asylum-seekers-encouraged-to-self-harm-by-advocates/7378938

The Minster for immigration Mr Dutton, is now blaming refugee advocates for encouraging self harm. To think that New Zealand has offered to take several hundred refugees away from the dreadful state they are in, and then to, at the same time, make sense of Australia’s refusal allowing that to happen makes one wonder if North Korea isn’t a more humane country.

The margins are coming for you in Paper Back.

May 1, 2016
Bartering in the USSR (Moscow)

Bartering in the USSR (Moscow)

We all knew this. The best way to learn to ride a bike is on an old one. I did on my mother’s bike more than seventy years ago. It did not have the crossbar which made hopping on easier. On my dad’s old bike I used to put one of my legs through the opening below the cross bar and managed to ride it that way. The bike would be ridden all askew at an angle because most of the body-weight was on one side of the bike. So did all of my friends. I don’t think there were even children’s bicycles available in those days. We all rode large bikes just standing up and in all sorts of manners.

I notice now that many kids drive cars to high school near where we live. There is a procession of cars with P plates driving to and from school each day. Jeez, do my grandkids expect a car in a couple of years? Even the smaller children are being driven to school at primary level as well. Huge SUVs, often coloured menacingly black queue up. The little ones, almost level with the bull-bar are scurrying to school. The mum or dad wave a bit nervously, and drive off. Many, as a matter of fashion, also combine all the manoeuvring of car and kids holding a carton beaker or cup which probably holds a coffee, obtained somewhere before, most likely perhaps pre-ordered on the mobile phone by text or other electronic messaging.

We live in a fairly small town, and where previously the foot was used as the main form of moving from a-b, now it has to be the car. If economic rationalism has at its heart a refusal to spend money on the unnecessary, who or what is now the determinant factor? Who decides? Should the customer be abolished? At the moment we must spend rather than save. Spending thousands to drive kids with legs to schools seem to be as irrational as anything.

I will just go on with my words. I am much relieved my paper back version of Almost There is also almost there. I had a heck of a time with formatting and checking the proofs. Consider yourself lucky I am still here. Boy, have I got a lot of Word files now. Next time it will be easier. The CreateSpace (Amazon) have an excellent way of helping the self-publisher with a most responsive web-site, guiding one along.

I even managed to survive the US Taxation jungle; I am now holding a “Certificate of Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding and Reporting (Entities).”

Almost There; ‘Fragments of a restless life.’ It sure is.

Congratulations, your book “Almost There” is now live and available

April 22, 2016
Almost There

Almost There

It has been done. The book is on Amazon Kindle after days of handwringing accompanied by moments of a sobbing rage spent entangled with computer cables under the table with Milo. He understood and licked my hands. If there is a single thing that could kill off writing it would have to be getting published, even when doing it yourself.

Just try and visualise waves of relief washing over this household. The grass is now greener and all washing dries instantly, despite the rain. The toast doesn’t get burnt and all wine tastes sweet.

http://www.amazon.com.au/Almost-There-Fragments-Restless-Life-ebook/dp/B01EM6NC0C?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0

It is now, supposedly, also for sale at this place; https://authors-unlimited.org/author/gerard-oosterman

The next job will be to list the book with Amazon ‘Print on Demand’ but will take some time to just relish this moment.

Thank you all for your patience and comfort giving. You have all contributed by your support and kindness.

I now wait for it all to go viral.😉 (and check the sales coming in, Ha ha)

The conversion to ePub plus MOBI.

April 13, 2016

‘Tantalising close,’ would be an understatement. ‘What price would you like to sell your eBook for, Gerard?’ Can you believe it? Yet, this was the question put yesterday while filling in a form to convert the book ‘Almost There,’ to a format called ePub plus MOBI all done by the Australia Society for Authors. It hit like a bolt from the sky. But that wasn’t all. Try and understand how it felt when reading on the same form; ‘Please provide details of the bank account into which your sales revenue should be paid.’ Your name of account, the BSB number and account number. ‘Your sales revenue?’ Joy, oh joy!

I could hardly believe it and neither did Milo. Out of the goodness of my heart, I gave him not one but two raw chicken necks. He looked perplexed but did not muck about, burying one neck for later consumption. He is prudent when it comes to his food larder. Only yesterday, while digging at the front garden I uncovered one of his beloved pig’s ears. He was watching me. I left it near where I found it and after leaving the garden I observed him re-burying it again. I suppose, it had not quite reached the level of dead carcass decay that Milo likes when consuming a pig’s ear. It explains where that broodingly dark smell comes from when Milo is sitting between us on the console of our car just inches away from our own faces.

We are al prepared and ready for the onslaught. The grandkids are coming over. The school holidays are on again. We have stocked up on half a litre of cod-liver oil and promised if they behave they will get a nice treat. Last time, just a few weeks ago at Easter, they managed to use up our monthly allocated Telstra data in just two days. We only ever use up about 1/10th of our monthly data. Just imagine how quick kids can rack up bills for their parents? In our days we would be lucky to get a spoonful of cod-liver oil for our birthdays. Or, when times were really good, get a pair of hand-knitted grey coloured socks. By the way, cod liver oil as sold in the past in liquid form is now mainly dispensed in very silly and expensive little gelatine sugar coated capsules. However, Price-Wise chemists still sells this wonderful golden nectar in its full liquid form. So, rip into it while it still lasts.

The latest controversy about the effects on health by eating sugar might well bring the liver oil back into vogue. I can see people crossing the street, slurping it up. Cafés will be selling it as ‘liver oil latte.’ And liver pizzas. The return of slim people

Anyway, the book is ‘Almost There.’

Your order; 1×10 ISBNs have been purchased.

April 10, 2016

IMG_0836

The autumn is almost mid-way and the shadows are getting longer. Long shadows are so much better than none. The summers close to the equator are often harshly baked and shadowless, something that tourists ought to be informed about when contemplating a trip to the tropics or semi tropical regions. The waving stalky palms don’t offer shade as an ageing nodding oak would in milder climes.

Both of us have been re-planting things at the front of our home together with spreading cow manure and hardwood mulch. It looks better already. One sometimes wonders if gardening is not a better occupation than getting a book off the ground. In the past books could be used as door-stops or even hurled around when locked in a frustrating temper or to emphasize an argument knowing full well, we were wrong.

With e-books on Kindle or Amazon, even that little benefit might be harder to achieve. I remember and wrote previous about using a public toilet in Paris, realising too late it was sans toilet paper. In desperation I used a couple of travel cheques, noting first down the numbers for a reclaim. What was I to do; use a sock or my cotton hanky?

It took a while to understand the complexities of getting something published and thought that a friendly edit with the occasional inclusions or deletions of a couple of commas here and there would be about the worst of it.

In any case, at least with the 10 ISBN’s in possession, I feel it is at least getting there. The next move will be to push it towards a self-publish e-format that can be done through the service of the ASA ( Australia Society of Authors) which will also then suitably format it. I’ll be so pleased to actually find the book ‘Almost There,’ after searching it on the internet. I might even consider buying a couple of copies to kick it along.😉

The published hard-print version by Austin Macauley is also still bubbling along even though, in case of a refusal or worse , the option of ‘print on demand’ by CreatSpace will be followed. The next book will be better, and having the benefit of hind-sight with better knowledge of Micro-soft Word 2013, it will be a cinch. At least a taller and larger shadow might be cast when asked; what is your occupation? ‘Oh, I am an author.’ This response has to be practised carefully and ought to be given without a slipping or sliding of dodgy eye movements. A nonchalant manner needs to be acquired, not an easy task.

In the previous picture painting days, the answer used to vary from house- painter to bank accountant, building contractor, renovator, share trader-dealer, art teacher, but rarely artist. Why was that so? I did answer ‘artist’ at the Dutch Government employment agency soon after our arrival back to Holland in 1973 with our three children. To my utter surprise a job was provided as an artist within a few days. It involved painting Dutch scenes on clock dials used in the manufacture of ‘antique’ Grandfather clocks. The following months I painted hundreds of those kind of scenes with windmills and lots of seagulls. The manager of this clock factory was very happy with them. For years I still look at shops selling those upright clocks but not once did I find an original Oosterman.

The Bowral-Panama Connection. (The plot thickens.)

April 8, 2016

images

One often reads after a particular gruesome murder, “oh, they were such nice people,” followed by, “they kept very much to themselves and were so quiet!” Nothing like a gruesome murder has eventuated in our small compound, but I would not totally give up on the possibility. We are as nice and quiet as the best of them!

Readers might remember the little stoush with our body corporate when a Melbourne based painting contractor was almost engaged to re-paint the exterior of our set of eight ‘strata-titled’ town houses. ‘Strata-title’ is a bit like community form of ownership and Melbourne is thousand kilometres from here. All the owners were delighted with the plan. We were not. There was no money. The idea of re-painting wasn’t mentioned in the minutes of the annual meeting. Why engage a contractor so far away? Why just accept a single quote? Where was the money coming from?

I questioned it, but amazingly did not get much response from the other owners. The colours were decided and the painters were already walking around confidently. Scrapers and brushes at the ready, ladders taken from the vans. When I found out that the Melbourne contractor had agreed to take payments over a number of years, I really became the stroppy gander. I contacted the appropriate Government body regulating Strata Corporations. A stop work order was issued. The owners were cranky with us.

In the mean-time I took time off and obtained three quotes from local painting contractors, organized the copy of those quotes to all owners and the Strata management. Grumpily, an extraordinary meeting was called and even then the Melbourne contractor was to remain. It was only when I (triumphantly tapping away on my laptop) produced a letter from the NSW’s Dept. of Fair Trading that no work could be carried out without adequate money in the ‘sinking fund’ that they knew the game was up.

The acceptance of one of the local contractors was reluctantly accepted. The shortfall in money was to be corrected by raising an extra levy of one thousand dollar per owner. However, and this puzzles us. The rancour is still hanging around. The local contractor’s quote was twelve thousand dollars cheaper than the Melbourne’s mob and came highly qualified. I have to mention that after a Google search on the Melbourne contractor, it was discovered they were involved in a Court case of having underpaid their employees by over seventy thousand dollars. Hardly a good omen!

Now. It would be nice to understand the reason for the unfriendliness. I suspect that, like many Australians appear to suffer from, the going into debt doesn’t seem to worry most. Was it the coughing up the extra one thousand dollars that rankled? Was this, and the pointing out of this abysmal lack of due diligence by the body corporate AND the home-owners from ‘outsiders’ ( bloody Euro-sceptics) also oil to the fire of their discontent.

Anyway, some of the neighbours are actually renting from the stroppy owners and are a lot nicer people in everyday dealings with, ‘good morning, how’s your day? The local contractor is from Iranian background and great to deal with. Even so, we were put last by the chair-person of the body corporate committee ( a local owner) to get our place painted which will now probably happen towards the winter.

And … at the next annual general meeting I will insist on an independent audit of the books. I smell a rat.

But, who cares? We are nice and quiet, just normal really.

I’ll have TV with Sound-bar, please.

April 7, 2016
Milo at peace with the world

Milo at peace with the world

The latest to hit the commercial world is a sound-bar. I heard people talk about it in the Bowral Strawberry coffee lounge. ‘How is your sound-bar going?’ The question was put by a lady in her late fifties bravely wearing tight white jeans and a floppy top with those hanging wings that at times can conveniently hide the possibility of a bulge here and there. The receiver of the question was a man wearing a bright pink striped shirt and a hat shaped a bit like a Dr Livingstone helmet. I had seen him before. A well know Bowral eccentric, of which there can never be enough.

The conversation got lost with the embarrassing and unashamedly endless high-pitched barking of our Jack Russell, Milo. Despite all our efforts, Milo still goes nuts at the sound of a Harley Davison. We have asked several motor bike riders, before they mount their bikes, to allow Milo to have a good sniff and total freedom to whatever he might want to engage in. Bite the muffler or attack the pistons etc., even the rider. Milo does nothing he just stares at the bike. What goes on in his wise little brain? However, he does know we don’t like this behaviour and tries to be extra nice afterwards. He kind of wags his tail and settles down, but only after he has disturbed the serenity and peace of all the other latte sippers.

But, back to the issue of the sound-bar. Some months ago a large electrical retailer went belly up and into liquidation. No buyers could be found to try and rescue and save the hundreds or so retail shops scattered around Australia. There are now big signs on the Dick Smith shops ‘Closing Down,’ all items MUST be sold. This draws in the bargain hunters. We have been, for some time now, contemplating buying a larger TV, especially one with a better sound. The ears are getting worse with the approaching station’s terminal.

It wasn’t really urgent. We rarely watch TV much, prefer the sound of silence, as they say. If sounds are sometimes heard, they are most likely be our domestic voices; ‘How did you sleep’, or,’should we go for a walk now or later?’ Sometimes a more pertinent question;’Does this rubbish go into the red-lid bin or is it for the yellow one?’ Of course, the Danish-Swedish productions we always watch. ‘The Bridge’ we would stay home for, and perhaps even our own ‘Janet King’ with Marta Dusseldorp.

After all the weighing of the pros and cons we walked into our own Dick Smith shops. The atmosphere somewhat gloomy. The shop looked as if it had been visited by bandits. The salesgirls looking sad with dust now allowed to settle on empty shelves previously occupied by IPhones and ear-attachments. A computer cable resting listlessly on the floor. Where would they now find another job? Business is all so reckless now. Consideration for alive people seems to have got lost lately. Have you noticed that too?

We stared at a row of special 40″ TV’s with the DICK SMITH logo emblazoned on the carton boxes featuring a brightly coloured Italian village hugging a steep cliff on the Mediterranean coast somewhere. Perhaps it was the Amalfi Coast! One could almost just have the box on a stand in the living room? Anyway, we asked for ‘the best price’ which came in at $399.-. ‘How is the sound, I asked?’ ‘Oh, not bad really,’ she said, looking sideways. ‘Ok, we will have it.’

After unpacking, and almost giving up on trying to wrench it out of it’s carton box, we turned the TV on. I thought I was hearing a message from the Station Master or my IPhone. The sound was like an announcement through the speakers on the platform of Bowral rail-station, ‘stay in front of the yellow lines, please.’

We had to go out and ask if anything could be done. My brother who inherited the same lack of hearing gene from our mother, spent $ 1200 on a ‘surround sound’ system to supplement the squeaky TV sound. The google machine was cranked up and after much research, a Phillips sound-bar was chosen. We bought the thing from Bing Lee for $ 299.- including a sub-woofer. It was a revelation. The sound superb and TV watching improved greatly.

A long story! Aldi is now selling 40″ TVs and separate sound-bars. Can you believe it? No wonder Bowral is excited and people ask each other; ‘How is your sound-bar going?’

The words resume.

April 3, 2016
Bottle

Bottle

]The book ‘Almost There’ did go through its final reading and corrections. Many commas have gone or re-appeared, and images and photos centred. The syntax is still chaotic and a bit odd (according to my daughter), but so be it! After two more letters from the publisher, I pressed the magic button. It is now resting somewhere in London on the Canary Wharf. Who would have thought? A ‘board’ of editors might well be sitting around the oblong shaped mahogany table and pore over its lines and word order right now. Did I hear the popping of the champagne?

I am now half way through compiling another one. With over close to a million words embedded in WordPress, surely there has to be another seventy thousand words or so that can be picked up for another bite at the cherry and give a modest contribution to faithful readers in the form of a tangible book? It is so re-assuring that if all publishing efforts fail I can simply go through the CreateSpace and Amazon kindle process and pay up the lolly for doing an ‘Indie.’ I was totally mystified about this Indie word till I learned recently that it stands for independent self funded publishing.

Things are tough for publishing and when one thinks that only about one manuscript in a hundred gets published one understands that publishers get very choosy on what to publish. They must get so frustrated in trying to pick a winner. I can imagine most editors would just give most manuscripts a glance for a second or so before dumping it. I think a loud yawn is probably more likely than the popping of champagne.

However, Two Roads of the UK, whose Chief Editor is Lisa Highton, helped publish a winner. It is ‘Ruby’ by Cynthia Bond.
http://www.tworoadsbooks.com/fiction/ruby-cynthia-bond/Of course, the guarantee to a best seller is an interview by Oprah Winfrey which happened. She gave Cynthia and her book a rave review, comparing her with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Can it get any better?http://www.oprah.com/oprahsbookclub/Oprah-Talks-to-Ruby-Author-Cynthia-Bond

Vale Bob Ellis.

April 3, 2016

“Legendary Australian author, journalist and playwright Bob Ellis has died from liver cancer.

Ellis started work as a political writer outraged by the Vietnam War, and went on to write speeches for political figures including Kim Beazley, Bob Carr, Bob Brown and former South Australian premier Mike Rann.

He also worked as a satirist and reviewer at the ABC, and went on to pen stage plays and films.

A provocative figure and as unashamedly left-wing as they came, Ellis had a somewhat fall from grace in 1998, when his book Goodbye Jerusalem was pulped because he defamed the Abbotts and the Costellos.”

Please read on.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-03/bob-ellis-dies-after-40-years-in-journalism-politics-playwriting/7295548

 

And so it goes…

Ellis High School Reference

 

 


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