Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The long walk to freedom

Before we moved to Australia I made the decision that if I found that I really didn’t like the place I would face the truth, suck up my pride, pack up my belongings and return to my country of birth – or go elsewhere, maybe even a silly place like Canada.

During the past 5 years I spent tons of money, hundreds of hours of hard work - and I made some tough decisions.  During this time we moved from one continent to another, started all over again and had to build new relationships in a country where we still have no (blood-related) family.
We do, however, have an extended family of great friends – South Africans, Zimbabweans, Australians, Poles and even some Pommy friends (although I won’t openly admit this last fact to my family overseas...)

I recently applied for a lease for my new vehicle and one of the questions was:

“Name the nearest relative not living with you”. 

I had to name someone who lives in Africa – someone I haven’t seen for almost 5 years.

During this period of change I also had some great opportunities that I would never have dreamed of.  I started manufacturing my own biltong and humbly built up a reputation as the best Biltongboer in the country. 

I am training electrical staff from all over the state as part of my job – despite my Souf Efrikuhn eksent that won’t quite go away no matter how hard Oi troy. 

I use the word “mate” regularly and now almost have an idea of what “fair dinkum” means.

I even met the premier of WA, Colin Barnett, on occasion.  I have a photo to prove this.  Colin was recently re-elected as premier of Western Australia.


I know that neither my Namibian president nor the Prime Minister would ever have stooped so low as to pose for a photo with this paleface no-good average-Joe tax-paying citizen. 

Not that I would want to pose with a terrorist anyway.

I also saw Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth when I attended the Big Aussie Barbeque.
She did wave at me but at that moment I was too busy trying to get my youngest daughter to a toilet.


After many hours of completing stacks of documentation, forking out Aussie and Namibian dollars by the buckets full and patiently waiting for things to happen, I finally became a citizen of this great country.

Anyone who makes this courageous move knows what it’s like.  It’s hard work, it takes a lot of courage and causes heaps of stress and conflict – especially with the folks back in Africa.

But it is so worth it.

I have made the right choice.  I am positive about the future of my children and my own life.  I would never consider going back apart from the odd expensive holiday in Cape Town.  I have arrived and I’m here to stay. 

Now that is what they call a fair dinkum statement.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

I now pronounce you…

After living in Perth for more than four years, we finally reached one of the big milestones of migration.  We attended a citizenship ceremony at Wanneroo city and were formally pronounced to be Australian citizens.


A multicultural group of people started lining up at 5pm and slowly entered the room where the ceremony was going to be held.

People were divided into groups of about 14 or 15 at a time and then repeated the words

From this time forward, under God,
I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people,
whose democratic beliefs I share,
whose rights and liberties I respect, and
whose laws I will uphold and obey.

At the end of this pledge, the deputy mayor would say

“I now pronounce you Australian citizens.” 

We found this a little funny because you keep on expecting the words “…man and wife” to follow the first part of the phrase!

So, here we are.  Five years ago I started investigating the options of moving abroad and started applying for jobs in Australia.  I prepared heaps of paperwork and spent thousands of dollars during this whole process.  This included:

  • Applying for unabridged birth certificates, which meant I had to travel to different towns in Namibia and South Africa because the lines of applicants in Windhoek were already snaking out into the street at 7 in the morning.
  • Applying for Namibian Police clearance – a minimum processing time of four months and only valid for 6 months…
  • Applying for our South African unabridged marriage certificate
  • Getting my Engineering degree recognized by Engineers Australia.
  • Applying for Military release forms from the SA Defence force.
  • Going for expensive medical tests for the Permanent Residence application
  • Writing the IETLS language exams
  • Writing a citizenship test
  • Being forced to do a practical drivers licence assessment even though I come from a country where we also drive on the left hand side of the road – even though Americans (who drive on the wrong side) do not have to do an assessment!
  • Leaving Australia for ten days to get our permanent residence approved.

The list is not comprehensive but what I can say is that every action, every dollar, every major obstacle I had to overcome was worth it.

Advance Australia Fair.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Finding Bigfoot

Lately I’ve been watching episodes of a series on Animal Planet called “Finding Bigfoot”.  It’s a painful experience, but somehow I keep on watching – hoping that maybe one day they’ll actually find the ugly bugger.

These folks hang around in the woods at night making howling noises and growling and hitting trees with sticks, all in the hope of getting a reply from Ol’ Bigfoot.

They have wild theories about what kind of food these things eat, where they like to sleep and what their favourite baseball team is. 

None of these theories have been based on any facts though.

These blokes walk around in the middle of the night wearing night vision goggles, thermal cameras and all sorts of paraphernalia.


They try the weirdest tricks, from leaving a baby doll crying in the woods to setting up massive fireworks in the middle of the night.  None of this has attracted any major “Sasquatch” attention. 

They refer to so-called “sasquatch behaviour” like experienced scientists, you’d swear they actually lived in a sasquatch community before becoming humans. They expertly inform the public of bigfoot traditions and culture as if it’s actually been proven.  They even have a “Bigfoot Field Researchers Organisation”, which of course is not biased towards the existence of Bigfoot at all.

The funniest part is when they declare an area as “very squatchy” - with eyes wild open, like that actually means something. 

It also doesn’t help that one of these blokes calls himself “Bobo” …

They go around talking to thousands of so-called eye-witnesses.  Some of these even have videos or photos to “prove” what they saw.  Of course, the videos are always grainy and badly focussed – almost as bad as real UFO footage.

After watching endless footage of green night-vision and thermal camera shots of people howling in the woods, I still haven’t seen one single piece of evidence that even slightly points to the existence of this huge 8 foot animal.

So far all that they have found were coyotes and bears and crazy hunters with shotguns walking the woods at night.

I’m starting to develop my own conspiracy-theory.  Maybe the government is hiding evidence of Bigfoot because they know that the public would realise that their politicians were all bred in captivity and raised by huge monsters that look like Robert Mugabe, training them to take over the planet and abuse tax payers funds.

But there is good news.  This week a bunch of nerdy blokes announced that they managed to capture a terrorist called Higgs Boson.  They trapped him in a 27km long tunnel and they are going to publish photos of him soon. 

I’m sure these guys will be able to find Bigfoot.  Just bring along that Hadron Collider thingy – install it in the woods and presto, Mr Bigfoot will soon be appearing on the front page of the Times next to his buddy Mugabe.

Why am I always the first to think of these things?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Send in the clowns

Years ago, when kings and queens still ruled, they used to have clowns at their disposal.  The job of the clown was to entertain the royal family, and maybe even entertain the common folk too.

If the clown wasn’t funny or talented enough, he would lose his head.

In modern days, however, there is a new system.  In order for the queen to have any legitimacy in the eyes of the public, she has to reduce herself to the lower level and share a stage with a bunch of clowns.

The Clowns make a mockery of the Queen and everyone wants to see the show because the clowns are going to be there. 

The Queen has no celebrity status if she is not endorsed by these dope-smoking hippies with their silly clown suits and crappy hairstyles.

The truth of the matter is that nowadays the clowns are the rulers – they rule the crowds, they dictate even to the royal family and they have more assets than the British monarchy can ever dream of.  They also have less rules to live by – they pretty much do as they like, and no matter how immoral or inhuman their lifestyle, it is always regarded as cool and trendy. 

The old queen hangs around like a piece of furniture for the Clowns to display.

Oh, and did I mention the silly hats that those red-coated guards wear?  Maybe the queen doesn’t notice the freaks on her stage, because she is used to being surrounded by jokers in clownish costumes like this one:

If I paid someone to guard my life, I’d make sure he could see where he was going, and I’d want to be able to see if he was awake - this bloke is probably sleeping on the job?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

RAAF Airshow

A few weekends ago we managed to squeeze all the kids into the car and head of the RAAF air show at Pearce Air base just North of Perth.

As we headed down Gnangara road, the traffic seemed a little slow, but not too bad.  Once we got onto West Swan, however, it was worse than the freeway during rainy weather.  Every man and his dog was heading to the air show.

As we got to the junction with the Great Northern Highway (which in all honesty is not that great…), it was amazing to see that an obese oversized truck was taking up both lanes and crawling in the direction of Bullsbrook – exactly where every man and his dog was also heading. 

How the authorities managed to approve an abnormal vehicle permit on a day like this, only they will know.  What arrogant mining company decided that their next big toy being slithered all the way to the Pilbara is soooo important that even the air show can wait?  For the first time I’m thinking that maybe the Labor government’s Mining Tax is not such a bad idea – surely then Muss Gillahd will pay for a freeway to Bullsbrook and these iron-ore crooks can pay the penalty for holding us back from a great day of entertainment.

After crawling behind an old man who was doing 60 in a 90 zone in Gnangara road, I suddenly realised that I had nothing to complain about back then.

Off course by now the kids were asking “are we there yet?”…

When we got to vicinity of the air show, we could already see planes flying around and helicopters thudding over us.  This was already way cool and I struggled to keep my eyes on the road.  My dad would have loved this – he always swerved around on the road whenever he saw or heard a plane – he loved looking at planes and for brief moments couldn’t care less about where the white line or the road shoulder was.

We were finally showed where to park, and immediately realised that we would have to lock the car’s position in a GPS, otherwise we would never find it in the “mother of all parking lots”.  There were thousands of vehicles parked in straight rows for kilometres long.

Arriving at the gate I was really glad that I had already purchased my tickets online, because the ticket line was almost as long as the toilet lines.  It was just around noon and there were still millions of cars waiting behind us somewhere on the Little Northern highway – but we were IN!


Needless to say the kids were already asking when they were getting fed, and looking at the feeding lines I thought it might be easier to kill a stranger and eat his food.  There were long lines (almost as long as the blue toilet cubicle lines), and I was seriously doubting the ability of those poor cooks to feed all these people.

In the meanwhile we started looking at some planes, and I forgot all about food and dead strangers.

Amazing, is all I can say.  I’m not one of those blokes who can ramble on and on about every plane’s name rank and serial number, but I do enjoy looking at these bad boys.

AnicaPilotDa boysIMG_2879

The highlight of course was the F18 Super Hornets.  Need I say more?  These things take off on a short bit of runway and then head straight up into the sky in a vertical position – freaky.


The guns on the Hawk trainers were displayed in one of the hangers, and I took quite an interest in these. This barrel is a 30mm monster, and you sure don’t want to be at the receiving end of it.  Not quite the hunting tool, as it would mess up too much good meat:



We finally managed to get food and drink at highly inflated prices, and settled on our little picnic blanket.


They also had a display of vintage cars nearby which my son and I enjoyed while the girls went looking for a blue cubicle.


By the time the kids had eaten, the Hornet flybys had finished and they wanted to go home.  Go figure.  There were still heaps of aeroplanes that I had not yet inspected on a closer level, but the missus and the kids had enough of a fun day in the sun, and we were soon heading back home. 

The parking lot was – well – a parking lot, and it took about half an hour just to reach the exit, while hoons with 4x4’s thought they owned the road and passed people in the most selfish and idiotic ways imaginable.  Probably South African expats from Joburg, if you ask me...

All in all, a great day except for the traffic. 



Friday, March 16, 2012

Speedqueen repair


Our trusty old Speedqueen hasn’t given us one day of worries for over 14 years.  This machine was designed in the USA, most of the parts were made in the USA, and I believe it was assembled in South Africa, but it may even have been assembled in the good ol’ US of A. 

Designed and built to last forever – nothing like the crap you get these days that is assembled in China or Bangladesh, quality checked by a person who can barely write his own name and is paid $2 a day by the communist regime who are stuffing themselves with caviar and turtle eggs. 

No sirree, this baby was made by western people in the old-fashioned proud way that westerners used to display not so long ago.  A pride that seems to have disappeared overnight.

My wife and I bought this machine in Namibia just after we got married.  It travelled to different houses and although it’s a massive machine, it’s worth dragging her big fat body to your new house.  Once she gets going, she’ll wash anything you can stuff into her.

We brought her over to Australia in a 40 foot container.  She spent 5 months inside that container before being able to drink her first serving of Australian water.  And she happily soldiered on - washing clothes, blankets, barbeque covers, car carpets, shoes and anything else that could fit in there.

Until two days ago, when she started screaming like a pig.

I gave her a few pushes and shoves and managed to wiggle her fat body around until the noise sort of went away.  But a few seconds later the noise would return, even though she seemed to do her job despite the screaming noise.  It sounded like someone threw a bag of coins inside a food processor.  (Not that I’d ever done that and would know what it sounded like…)

I guess the noise should have made me think about opening her carcass to see what was causing it, but I just somehow managed to convince myself that “she’ll be right.”  

So yesterday, of course, my worried wife told me that the machine wasn’t working any more.  What would we do without her?

Which led to today’s event.

Armed with my toolbox, socket sets, screwdrivers, and a multimeter which hasn’t been used for more than 3 years, I had my battle plan ready.

The first job was to get all the water out of the machine.  She was full of water but could not pump it out herself – which made me think that the pump might be where the problem was.

I opened her up, and at first I saw a lot of black fluff which I immediately though to be the kind of black stuff you see when a motor burns out.  This wasn’t a happy moment for me.

On closer inspection, though, I noted that this stuff was just fluff from 14 years of washing.  Somehow some of this stuff does end up on the inside of the machine, and no one ever thinks of opening up her guts and cleaning her out, so where else would the fluff go?


I tested the power to the pump, and measured that it was receiving power but was still not running. 

To remove the pump, I had to disconnect the water feed, which meant that the last bit of water that I couldn’t get out of the machine would drain all over me.  Being alone with no extra hands to help, this created quite an annoying situation where my bucket was filling up quicker than I could empty it, and I desperately had to fight to keep water from running into the electrical parts of the machine.  Fun times, indeed.

I finally dismounted the pump and saw something moving inside.

And there it is – a hairpin:


This stupid hairpin was causing all the havoc and was obviously the source of the noise.  When I wiggled and bounced the machine around, the hairpin dislodged a little, but would soon go back into it’s position and cause the screaming noise.  Eventually the pump just couldn’t turn anymore.

The good news was that once I returned everything back into position, I filled up the machine with water and she pumped that water out like Victoria Falls after a good raining season.

What a lucky escape – our baby is still running smoothly, and I saved hundreds of dollars on a repairman that would almost certainly have claimed that the pump was broken and needed replacement.

Of course, after closing the machine and tightening all the freaking screws, I found that the plastic cover that protects the pump inside the machine was still lying on the floor.  Luckily, this time I knew that I only needed to open the front cover and did not have to waste my time screwing off all the sides too.


The clean cover re-installed above the pump:


Mr Fix-it saved the day again. Not to mention the fact that those hard-to-get-to areas inside the machine have been cleaned for the first time in 14 years.

I have to say, I’m still impressed by the quality and durability of this machine.  This was money well spent – many years ago.

Friday, March 2, 2012

How to move stuff all by yourself

We recently moved house and had a bunch of friends who helped.  But after they left we still had to sort out some of our junk that needs to be thrown away/sold/given away.

As I was alone at home this morning, I made a little plan to move these massive bookshelves by myself.

I constructed a combination of the normal stand-up moving trolley and a cheap little cart that my wife used years ago when she distributed pamphlets for a little extra income.  The bookshelf was just too big to be pulled along with the blue trolley.


This is the bookshelf standing upright in the trolley, before I lowered it down on it’s side.


My next move was to lower it on it’s side so that the wheels still support one end.  Now I stuck the little cart underneath the trolley’s other end, and tied a rope to the end.


Now it was easy to pull the massive piece of wood all the way around the house.  Too easy.