Postage.

May 27, 2016
wives waiting for their fishermen husbands at Scheveningen

wives waiting for their fishermen husbands at Scheveningen

Can someone explain why internal and overseas postage is so exorbitantly expensive in Australia?

I get charged between US$4.60 and US$3.20 per book sent by Air from the US to here in Australia, depending on numbers. Yet, to post a book within our own State of NSW cost A$7.40! But, it gets worse, a single book sent to Holland from Australia cost me A$33.40!

What’s up with Australian Post? No wonder local retailers are complaining that on-line shopping by people from overseas is too expensive due to the charges by Aus. post.

There is nothing more purgative than a good whinge. I just came back from the local post office with our Jack Russell ‘Milo’ sitting in his usual spot on the console with his cadaver smell just inches away from my nostrils. I looked at him crankily. He just returned the look by nuzzling my ear. A calmative action he knows will work. Now that he is getting older we suspect he likes the drive much more than the walk. We prefer the walk as many stop to pat and say sweet words to Milo.

Of late, it provides most of our social intercourse. It is amazing how many people know about the Jack Russell. It seems a never-ending subject for discussions. With some clever manoeuvring however; mainly by Helvi, the conversation can go off at a tangent and we get into the more interesting aspects of a pavement discourse. Last week the subject of the writer Albert Camus came up. I think (but am not sure) the man mentioned France, and how the terriers are used to catch rats there. This was a propos his own Jack Russell having caught a rat around his shed here in Bowral. I followed this up by mentioning a type of terrier used to kill rats in the Spanish wine cellars. He returned by mentioning that rats caused the big plague in bygone centuries. I then threw in my bit about a book being titled ‘The Plague.’.He seemed to remember having read the book also. His wife helped him out by mentioning Albert Camus.

We are now at 2pm and the temperature in my car sits steadily at 10C. It is a bitter wind that comes straight from the snowy mountains, where the first of the skiers will soon be arriving. On a Friday afternoon one notices the cars with skis strapped on the rooftop. Of course, now-a-days most hire the skis and all that goes with it, on arrival at the resort. For many the carting of skis and boots is a thing of the past. In any case, with the climate warming up, the skiing has not been all that crass hot and snow is now made by huge machines that try and fill up with snow where nature has been scant. They make snow and spew it on the side of the mountains. I have skied in the past but not lately, or to be more precise, not over the last fifty years. I am not sure I would enjoy it on man-made snow. A bit like looking at artificial flowers. No matter how realistic they are now. It just doesn’t cut the butter.

A perfect 4 minute egg while reading ‘Almost There.’

May 26, 2016

Almost There

‘So, how many eggs do you want me to prepare?’ ‘Make it two for me too,’ she said. These are some of those normal bits of morning conversations that must go on and echo around many towns and villages. ‘Don’t make them too runny,’ was followed up by, ‘I like to put some anchovies on top of the eggs on toast, and don’t want it to run off.’ The original order now came with distinct specifications.

Of course, it is never too late to learn. I recently read that eggs should never kept boiling. Instead, the advice of a world renowned egg expert (Mr Heinrich von Knopfelmacher) stated; bring the egg(s) to the boil and then switch the heat off, and leave in the hot water for just 4 minutes to give you the right viscosity for the perfect egg. The egg-fluid will then resist the tendency to flow or run!

Of course, a clear sign of ageing is someone sitting on a park bench, still talking animatedly to ducks, and desperate to remain a life’s enthusiast, while wearing remnants of a runny egg on his shirt, or worse, on his chin. A sad spectacle indeed. How can this joy the vivre of the aged be kept intact with visible eggs remnants on him?

Still, this morning a newsflash announced that the number of people over a hundred years old will tenfold in the near future. One can imagine the egg wearing to go through the roof as well. Unless of course, the 4 minute egg boiling skill will be taught to the young and become more and more important. The ducks will just go on as ever, they are not judgemental, and have never shown any criticism of humans wearing a little egg. It might well have something to do with ducks sitting on eggs.

It reminds me that my own mother always used to feed scraps to ducks. Even in her nineties she used to slowly walk to the local pond and throw the scraps. I did have to tell her not to feed the ducks the remnants of fried chicken. I mean, how would ducks feel being thrown the feathered expired AND eaten related brothers and sisters? I think she just shrugged this off. I remember her feeling sorry for a duck being stuck in ice during a very cold snap.

The good news keep on coming. Aldi in Australia decided to stop selling caged eggs. However, Australia still allows eggs to be called ‘free range’ when eggs are produced by allowing 10 000 chicken per hectare of open space. One square metre per chicken! It is still cruel. In Europe the minimum is a required 4 sq. metres per chicken. The National Australian Egg-board has the largest egg producers ruling the roost. Unbelievable!

Anyway, far more satisfaction can be obtained by reading a book while dipping your toast in a 4 minute egg. May I humbly ask you to buy my book, the paper-back version preferably. Overseas buyers, you can do so through the following.
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0994581033
http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0994581033
http://www.amazon.de/dp/0994581033
http://www.amazon.es/dp/0994581033
http://www.amazon.fr/dp/0994581033
http://www.amazon.it/dp/0994581033

I have now received the paper-back books of ‘Almost There,’ for direct distribution in Australia. Please contact me on;

oostermn@tpg.com.au

and for $17.- (including postage) you can be the proud owner of ‘Almost There.’ We are almost half way to Christmas and it would make a lovely present. A special two books for $ 30.-!
After contacting me, options for payment by cheque or direct deposit will be offered.
It would make for a happy man. A very happy man.
Many thanks for those that have bought my book already, also for the great reviews.

Enjoy your 4min.eggs.

Back to Memory Lane and Alexander van der Bellen.

May 24, 2016

 

DSCN2837

Gertrude Cottage

Yesterday we decided to combine a visit to our daughter and grandsons with a visit to a local market near where we used to live. It has been twenty years since we left the inner city suburb of Balmain. Faithful readers of my ‘Oosterman Treats’ of bits and pieces’ might remember we first strayed into this area back around the late 1960’s. Freshly married and with two daughters in tow, we bought ‘Gertrude’s cottage’ for $ 12500.-. It came with glorious views and shimmering sunshine reflected on the hardwood floor just below the Harbour’s bridge and its blue waters. It also came with a couple of woody-weed eating goats.

It was then possible to save and buy a place. It seemed to be within reach of a normal working young couple. Today, that’s not possible. That house would now be over three Million. I don’t understand why this is so. Some say, wealthy Chinese from mainland China are buying houses. Others claim that the shortage of houses are to blame. Some of the more radical (xenophobic) claim that the foreigners are buying up and just leave the houses empty and pick up on the capital gain.

It seems to me an accident waiting to happen. Correction seems inevitable. How can houses be left empty when the need for houses and housing is so great? Look at the refugee camps around the world. Some have housed people for generations. The young grow up into adulthood and have children of their own, all in refugee camps,not knowing anything else.

Anyway, a glimmer of hope can be gleaned from Austria. Alexander van der Bellen has become president. He nipped the anti-refugee right wing contender within a narrow margin. I like Mr van der Bellen already. At seventy three he still enjoys cigarettes ( why should I torture myself giving up smoking at my age) and loves comic books. He is also green and an outspoken champion for the underdog and refugees.

He comes from an aristocratic Russian-Dutch-Estonia background and both his parents were refugees from the Stalinist dictatorship. He is not just a tree hugger but also a professor and an economist. Not a bad mixture. Let’s hope he throws off the anti refugee mentality that now so often seems to grab headlines instead of the much more prevalent and common more humane views of the majority of people. He did win the election!

I do hope that in Australia too, we will see a resurgence of a more humane majority emerging from this steaming racist xenophobic morass of Australia that seems so often to grab the limelight. Mind you, with Murdoch still hanging around, it is not surprising.

http://www.amazon.com/Almost-There-Fragments-Restless-Life/dp/0994581033/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1464128774&sr=8-1&keywords=Almost+There+by+Gerard+Oosterman

No escape from Ducks and the ‘Book.’

May 19, 2016

BookCoverPreview

It now seems the latest version of the book ‘Almost There,’ is for sale, both in paper-back and electronic format, and has trickled down into many outlets, including Amazon, Lulu and our own Australian kindle format for Authors by ASA. (Australian Society for Authors)

There is no escape and one can live in Spain, Germany, Italy, France or the UK, sooner or later you will come across the chance to buy and read it. Don’t hold back.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0994581033
http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0994581033
http://www.amazon.de/dp/0994581033
http://www.amazon.es/dp/0994581033
http://www.amazon.fr/dp/0994581033
http://www.amazon.it/dp/0994581033

The US has also not escaped with; http://www.amazon.com/Almost-There-Fragments-Restless-Life/dp/0994581033/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1463626908&sr=1-4&keywords=Almost+There

Australia as far as I know doesn’t yet have ‘print on demand’ facility, so for those living in Australia I bought forty books from the CreatSpace in the US which will be here within a couple of weeks and can be bought direct from me even cheaper than from the US, including postage.

Bowral Ducks

Bowral Ducks

As for the ASA electronic book in Australia, it is for sale here: https://authors-unlimited.org/book-member/almost-there

Almost There

Almost There

It was a fine moment indeed to see the book in print and on the Kindle device. The hard part is to sell the book and for buyers to read it. I would be so pleased if some of you, after having perused a few chapters, write a review. (It doesn’t really give me much joy in asking) It might give the book a ‘leg-up.’

In the meantime I am somewhat pleased with the above photo of the ducks in the creek not far from our house. Consider that Milo was pulling me almost into the water. I really love that photo.

Garlic Prawns, Grandsons, and a close encounter with the Prime Minister.

May 16, 2016
Australian PM. (second from left)

Australian PM. (second from left)

As foreshadowed in my previous post, the grandchildren were coming. They stayed with us last week-end. The weather promised was sunny and warm. It was going to be a good week-end. The eldest had broken his iPhone but the other one had just been granted a $30.- month pre-paid on his, compliments of grand-parents. The excuse was that it would allow him to be able to contact his parents. Always a blatant lie. According to a quick inspection to my access of the Wi-Fi download data on my own account, gigabits of games is what he really uses his iPhone for. He cunningly uses our Wi-Fi to connect his iPhone to.

A lot of successful week-ends depend on getting them away from the gadgets. Parents and grandparents are tested to the limits of their endurance faced with this modern phenomenon. Surely, it has to be possible to invent an electronic devise that would allow parents/ grandparents to stop and zap iPhones into the silent mode with the screen just showing rain pelting down gutters or perhaps long advertisements on the benefits of eating ‘easy oats.’

We try and lure them into bookshops. They can buy any book they like. Of course, the lure has to be sweetened with an afternoon movie. However, no books were chosen this time, but they still managed to see the movie. I forgot the name but is was a movie about a young person aspiring to greatness in sport and included Hugh Jackman. It might have been skiing. I will look it up and just put this one for a moment in ‘save draft’. Please, bear with me!

It was called ‘Eddie The Eagle.’ The boys thought it better than expected. At least no Bat Man or Shrek re-runs anymore. We do our best to try and instil a distaste for mashed potato Hollywood movies. After the danger of iPhones overload, the next problem to deal with is their enormous appetites. Despite movie watching and a general tendency to fiddle with devices ( when we are not nearby) it does not seem to lesson their need for food intake. However, both parents and us have been fortunate to have steered them into reasonable dietary habits.

Especially pleasing is that none seem to be particularly oriented towards sweets or sugar loads. They do drink those fruit sugar-loaded juices, but as for lollies, chocolate bars or sparkling soft drinks, they are not all that keen anymore. It might also be a result of the rather alarming media reports about sugar and salt and fat diets. Especially the eldest who seems to live of fruit and vegetables. However, they do make up for quantities. I know the score. Pancakes are now made to a height of about ten centimetres and are wobbling on the plate while I am cooking, threatening to collapse onto the kitchen floor. A compromise to some jam or golden syrup is made if they also allow a generous squeezing of lemon juice. Milo is looking upwards and in hope. He too knows the score.

The rack of lamb with totalling about 5 each (cutlets) and as for garlic prawns; half a kilo and that is just for garlic. I don’t know what the other cinema goers felt or smelt about that little delight? But, as always; all good things come to an end. Sunday afternoon was the time to drive them to the railway station where they would catch the train back to Sydney. After parking our car we took them to the ticket locket which was closed. You don’t get to buy train tickets anymore. That too has been gadgetized. You now swipe something in front of a pole and is called ‘Opal.’

The train station staff were everywhere but not selling tickets. I stood my ground and the locket was opened. There was a kind of nervousness about. A tingling expectation or a bomb alert. Terrorism crossed my mind. Was the dreaded Mars Bar man lurking somewhere? No, the Prime Minister is on his way, someone said. Oh, the horror. Out of nowhere, a couple of tall blue suited men rushed by talking into their sleeves. Indeed followed by our new Prime minister, Mr Turnbull looking all suave and powdered. I flashed my own iPhone and managed to get a picture while he was posing with rail staff, arms around each other. He is the second from the left.

We went down some stairs where the train to Sydney was waiting. The PM followed us and jumped in the train sitting almost opposite our grandsons. Something they will remember forever. I do hope he will lose the election on the second of July. He is cutting education, health funding and is just another Abbott. Just because he catches a train with our grandsons hasn’t made him a forward and progressive man to lead a country.

The definitive ‘Almost There.’

May 11, 2016
Almost There

Almost There

The book has now been uploaded in a few different versions which I prefer to name ‘editions.’ The nervousness of trying to work out the self-publishing trail on CreateSpace is almost palpable. Even so, one learns from mistakes a lot more than from perfection. So, please, if looking at the different versions, the book with the least formatting and/or spelling mistakes has the cover as shown above. It is now the definitive version of ‘Almost There.’

You might well notice a version (edition) of the book whereby even the name of the author is missing. I did not intentionally choose to be that modest. It might well show up the Author to be really ‘Not there at All.’

The Kindle version has done well and the paper back book is yet to be distributed and shown on all the Amazon outlets. I have ordered a box full (40) of the paperbacks for selling in Australia. The postage from the US does almost double the price of the book. Even so, it is still priced very competitively.

In the meantime, we are hardening ourselves for the onslaught of our grandsons to come over this Friday to ‘share’ the Eurovision music festival on our TV ( with the Philips sound-bar and large woofer.) They are coming by train which both the mother and Helvi are somewhat nervous about. I reckon it will do them good. The protection of children is ridiculous. Surely, train travel is normal and not as dangerous as is made out. Of course, the world-wide beaming of the attack on a train in Germany by a German National is not helpful. Again spouted as an act of terrorism doesn’t do much in bedding down the excessive fears of travel and nourishes fear the world over of stranger danger and terrorism.

We all know that the real terrorism is flourishing within family life. In Australia, two wives/partners a week get murdered by either the husband or partner. Domestic abuse is rife and far greater that those very isolated attacks by a deranged person shouting Allah is Great, before shooting or knifing someone.

I am surprised relationships are not banned or at least looked at by consumer protection bodies such as ‘Choice’, or ICAC. If fridges had failure ratings as much as relationships they would be banned. Domestic violence ‘incidents’ as notified to the police number several hundred EACH DAY.

Next time someone whispers, ‘I love you’, go and run for your life.

Instead, read a good book.

A Cattle baron or Pensioner?

May 6, 2016

Having just received a publishing contract for Almost There, I thought asking your advice. The PDF file I sent off some weeks ago did receive a favourable response from a UK Publisher from the salubriously situated address at the Canary Wharf, London. There was an oval table and an editorial board who decided that the words of the book’s synopsis and its first couple of chapters had enough merit to consider publishing. They asked for the whole book in Word file. I obliged.

I was overjoyed but somewhat baffled by an Editorial Board having a meeting and the somewhat profuse praise over submissions from an utterly unknown Author of which they must receive dozens, if not hundreds every day. Even so, who would not be pleased by some praise and smooth language? I can tell you, praise is always welcome and at my age, even a shopping trolley without going off a tangent makes my day.

After I sent off the entire manuscripts I was told it might take up to six weeks for a reply. Today, exactly about six weeks, I received a thick envelope By Airmail ‘1st Class Royal Mail,’ from Austin&Macauley, London, with a proposal and contract to publish my book. The covering letter confirmed that all the reports and further meetings by staff, editors and the ‘board’, my work was found to be interesting and engaging. Fair crack of the whip. Could it get any better?

However, after further board meetings, they also felt that due to the marketing team having some doubt about future sales and target audiences it would be best to come to an arrangement of a ‘contributing publishing’ arrangement. The contract came in Duplicate and already signed by the sub editor. The sum of the contribution would be 2500 pounds for a paper back and 3500 pounds for a hard cover.

The letter stated that my book does deserve to be published but the contributing sum asked was only small considering the very considerable costs involved in publishing and above all the marketing of the book. They also stated it would be well worth it, seeing my book would be launched for the reading public alongside other famous publications. My question is; Are they coming the raw prawn? Is it on the level? Twenty-five percent royalty? How many books do I need to sell to recuperate 2500 pounds, even if I live another ten years?

Is it possible they are massaging, assuaging my ego? Might they think of an Australian author as a rich cattle baron? You know, half a million hectares and fifty thousands heads of cattle. Do they see me wearing a slouch hat battling flies and fires while leaning against a fence post? A rich man wanting his book with photo doing the social rounds at Wangaratta or Oodnadatta?

I am a pensioner trying to sell and sharing words around, living with wife and Milo! I mean, I just received five proof copies of my well printed and imminently, (after further correcting,) readable book with over forty photographs and counting 277 pages, all printed for free through CreateSpace. The cost of the proof books airflight posting to Australia from the US, within five days of me finishing uploading the book was about $60.- Trust the Americans to be so efficient!

I don’t know. Google showed some unflattering remarks about publishers seeking contributions from authors. I could not believe my eyes receiving the CreateSpace proof copies today from the Post Office. They look terrific despite some faults and mishaps. I am proud having done it all. I made a mistake of re-sending the same file back again without the corrections. I was furious, but after some reflection decided to up-load the corrected file. This meant starting all over again, including re-designing the cover. It could only be done by making it a new ‘the second’ edition of Almost There, and includes a code number for inclusion in the Australian National Library.

The second new book I sent to the previous UK trusted editor. I have learnt a lot. I am warming up to order some fifty copies or so and will try an sell them through some of the local bookshops. Shall I carry them around in a satchel wearing a beret, knee socks and heavy work-boots?

Life is interesting.

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.


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