Death warmed up

© PJ Croft 2021

Uuurrrgh, ten days since the last post, with eight days of a bladder infection laying me low. I had a very mild one a month ago, with no symptoms and only picked up by a routine test. This one started on Thursday 14th with a fever for several hours, with very painful ‘you know whats’. I wasn’t able to get a GP appointment until Saturday 16th and he prescribed an antibiotic. I’m still on it and it makes my stomach feel upset, so I’m staying at home, near the toilet and bed. I’m not doing much writing I’m afraid.

I’m very slowly getting better but I’ve had to beg off a couple of meet-ups, I’m very sorry. As well, the atrocious weather keeps me at home. I like going out, but not when it’s wet and windy and cold, sorry. As soon as it warms up …

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Huh! Word Press has changed the font and spacing again. I do not like this dense Times New Roman. I liked the font and open spacing as it was last time I composed a post. This Word Press blogging software is CRAP! You can’t complain directly, of course, only via a forum. I don’t like it!

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I am in a bad mood, hence the caps and italics. Sorry. The pain in my feet is very bad. It would qualify as chronic pain. There is a medication solution but it’s an anti-depressant and causes me insomnia and other side effects, so I had to stop it a few years ago. I suppose I’d better make an appointment to see the pain specialist again. I can’t remember his name.

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One thing I’ve been doing is posting many, many of my photos on Facebook. I’m not sure whether that’s a good idea or not. People seem to like them but I’m worried that I’m overdoing it.

I admit it’s a “look at me, look what I can do” attitude and that’s a bit childish. But if I don’t show them, if I always keep them hidden, then what’s the point? Will people only see them after I die? No, not at all. Actually, dying won’t guarantee anything. Someone would have to make an actual move to show them, and that’s very unlikely.

Speaking of dying, it’s very heavily on my mind these days. I’m quite anxious about it, how it will happen and the aftermath. The aftermath won’t affect me, but I worry about how the division of my possessions will occur. I am getting help.

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I think I’ve mentioned this already but I’ve watched all episodes of SAS Australia on Channel 7 and I admit I like it. It’s about Australian sportsmen and women and other ‘celebrities’ who submit themselves for an SAS/Special Forces selection process, run by four former UK SAS men. Yeah, you think it’s very blokey and rah rah, but it’s rather fascinating to watch how these people conduct themselves under the extreme training exercises.

I was extremely impressed by some of the women, and one in particular, Jana Pitman. She’s a former dual Olympic gold medallist in running, who then after retirement, did medicine and trained as a doctor. WOW! She’s a high achiever. She comes across as a very nice person and someone you’d want to have on your side. She is one of the last five but runs out of physical strength and stamina at the last exercise, so has to be eliminated. Even so, she’s the only woman finalist and is to be admired.

All through, the crew are emphasising how much psychology and mental attitude play in survival. How the body can keep going, keep taking punishment as long as the mind doesn’t quit. Remarkable. One remarkable woman was Kerry Stoddart, also an Olympian and gold medal winner, who entered and did most of the course at age 53! She finally had to quit only because of an injury, but she is a remarkable woman.

There are 14 episodes with some follow-ons and I’ve watched it all and enjoyed it. NB: I only ever record it, then play it later and fast forward through the commercial breaks. The barrage of ads and promos is more than I can bear.

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I’ve mentioned the tyre pressure monitoring system in the Peugeot 407 before. There’s a pressure sensor in each tyre valve and if the pressure drops below a certain value, a warning shows on the dash display, including, if you catch it at the right moment, which tyre it is.

A few weeks ago it showed the warning and I deduced it was the left front, but I was a little surprised that it seemed to be only 0,1 Bar down from the normal 2,2Bar. A quick pump up and all was good.

Last week it showed again and I checked both fronts, with no error. Then I checked right rear and there it was, again down by 0,1Bar. Pumping it up fixed the problem.

I’m quite impressed that it shows an error with quite a small loss of pressure, and I’m reassured that you can continue to drive without too much worry. I like it.

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I’ve just taken a couple of strong Panadol and I’m going back to bed.

Winter again? Go away!

A page from my Japan book, available for purchase. © PJ Croft 2021

Brrrr, it’s been grey and raining and blowing and cold again today. What’s going on? This is mid way through the second month of Spring! The seasons really have shifted; summer hangs on longer too.

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I had to go to a doctor’s appointment in Joondalup Hospital this morning. Normally this takes only 15 minutes, almost all on the freeway, but because they’d warned me that parking at the hospital is very restricted due to building works, I left home at 0630 for an 0815 appointment. I’d slept badly, so I was awake early, so I just decided to go early.

This put me in the thick of early peak hour traffic, and I was pretty annoyed at the attitude of the drivers. The aggression! The speeding! The lane hopping! Why? The traffic is not that heavy, yet drivers, probably the tradesmen in their big 4WD utes, seem to have to overtake and push their way through. At one stage I could see a kilometre ahead and nearly all were in the overtaking lane.

Thank goodness I don’t have to drive in that each day.

As it turned out, I got parking right in front of the hospital main entrance with no trouble.

The appointment was just a routine check of my leukemia, and he didn’t find any problems. He pointed out swellings on the back end of my jaw, which I hadn’t even noticed but seem to be lymph nodes, but he didn’t seem worried about them. My vitamin D is too low, so I need to take extra, but that was all. See him again in January. That’ll be $100 please.

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I’m a bit grumpy about some work I had carried out by a pair of electricians last week. I got them via the RAC tradesman service. All I needed was replacement of five kitchen downlight globes and five LED sparkle lights in the bathroom (I mean, miniature bi-pin lights over the mirror). I had to get these guys out because the lights are offset from where you can get the ladder, and I’m not confident of keeping my balance.

Anyway, one of the replacement lamps (LED G10 bi-pin) went off again just after they’d finished up and left. I managed to wave and whistle and attract their attention and got them back. It seemed to be a bad connection on the pins of this LED lamp over the pantry door. He wiggled it around and it seemed to come good, so they left again.

But it failed again just after they left, so I sent an SMS message to the phone they had used to tell me they were coming. No response. I emailed the RAC at the address they’d used – again, no response.

Now a second lamp has failed in the kitchen. It had been buzzing (the transformer in the ceiling had) and now it’s dead. I hope the transformer hasn’t failed.

What do I have to do to get their attention? Rhetorical question – try again. But my tiny hands are frozen 🙂

I supplied the bi-pin LED mini lights for the bathroom, sourced from Wish.com. In daylight, they looked fine, but I’ve found that at night, they are too dim. I’ve noticed on the packet that they’re only 1,5W. Looks like I’ll have to buy some more, locally, of higher wattage (power). Then I’ll have to install them myself, which will involve placing one foot on the bathroom bench. I’ll let you know. If you hear a scream …

Anyway, the sparkies said the lights are covered by warranty, so I have to try contacting them again.

PS: I’ve had a call from both the sparkies’ boss and the RAC saying they’ve had my complaint and are coming out to talk to me. 6.30pm: a guy (the sparkies’ boss) came and said the kitchen lamps are old and inferior and he recommends they all be replaced with new ones which have a transformer incorporated. He says they’re about the same price as the replacement LEDs that I paid for last week. So that means I’m up for a new set of complete lamps, and their fitting. Grrrr. As I said to the guy, I’ve been in this house for eight years and this is the first time those halogen lamps have failed. And I have those lights on most of the day and evening. I don’t want to have to spend money if I don’t have to.

Anyway, he’s going to do a quote for me. I wait with bated breath.

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I’ve been posting a lot on Facebook lately, sets of images from my files numbering 57,700. Many are not for public viewing but many hundreds or more are. People seem to be appreciating them.

Now they want video too. Can do, but I’ll have to get back into video editing. I have around 2,700 video clips from the 2008 Europe/UK trip alone which have remained unused, unseen. Here goes.

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I’ve got a new USB headset with microphone now, so I hope to start speech-to-text so as to aid my writing.

I’ve been trying to get started on my memoirs for years, but to no avail. Writer’s block, big time. I’ve had an idea – to imagine I’m telling my life story to a friend. As if I were speaking to her. I think that might work and I’m quite excited at the idea. Watch this space.

Succession

Now this is a beautiful car.

Turned out grey again. After a nice sunny morning, clouds have come over and my fingers are frozen. Ah well, can’t complain, sez he, complaining again. (Now I’m ready to post, it’s nice and sunny-blue sky again. Thank you.)

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Talking about the man who has everything, I’m in the bad habit of buying DVDs but never getting around to watching them. I’ve probably got a dozen sitting there waiting for me to look at them. Stupid.

The reason for mentioning this is that I saw a short review of Succession last week, calling it one of the best TV dramas ever. Hmm, I thought, I’d like to see that. But it’s on HBO pay-TV, so I resigned myself to waiting for some other time.

Last night I decided to have a quick shuffle through the stack on my little table. You guessed it, there was a boxed set of the whole first season of Succession. Crazy! I bought it, perhaps nearly a year ago, and it has sat there, forgotten. Now it will probably wait another six months for me to watch it.

Speaking of watching TV, Fires on the ABC. Good stuff, but hard to watch. So mournful last week.

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I must stop buying “stuff”!! I’m in the process of getting rid of as much of my junk as I can. When I moved here in 2013 it was cathartic, throwing out years and years of “stuff”, clutter. I actually filled most of a 3cu.m. dumper bin. Moving into this house felt like moving into a new, clean environment. “I will not clutter it up again”, I thought. So what’s happened? I’ve cluttered it up again. It’s the way we are, I suppose.

I’ve got a kitchen full of utensils that I never use. A potato masher – never used. Half a dozen carving knives. How many does a guy need? I only need one. Two manual tin openers. And so on. Out, out.

I’ve realised that I have a wardrobe full of male clothes that I almost never wear any more. These were favourite T-shirts, so much that I had two or three of a couple of designs. But now I never wear them. Out, out!

I got rid of a favourite suitcase last week. I have a newer one but occasionally, on trips to Bali, I used to use two suitcases. I doubt that would ever happen again.

Even in my women’s clothes, I have so much stuff that my wardrobe is almost bulging. Stuff I’ve bought but never actually worn. Several garments crammed onto one hanger. Out, out! I don’t spend big money, by the way – it’s all bargain bin stuff or from Wish or the op shops.

Last year, no, 2019, I discovered Wish.com and kinda went mad. I haven’t totalled up all I’ve bought and paid them, but it would be well over $1,000 worth. Just small purchases, $5, $10, but it all adds up.

Then I had to get plastic cases, drawers for it all, so the result is all these electronic components, small motors, small printed circuit units like voltage regulators, small gears, tools I thought I’ll need for my model railway.

But I don’t think I’ll ever get around to building it. Holy moley, I’ve got about $1,000 of track and rolling stock, another $1,000 of model bits like trees, shrubs, fences, overhead lights (miniature ones), traffic lights and so on. All waiting to be put to use. But no urge. Sigh. One o’ these days, Doris.

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I see the Catholic Church is at it again. That Training Academy for Paedophiles! A report has been published in France telling of around 3,000 French priests who, since about 1960, have molested around 300,000 young children! Most of them were boys, only about 10% girls.

What a shocking, disgusting, stomach churning thing. The Catholic Church, with all its gold robes and statues, all its money, all its power, all its magnificent buildings, churches, idols to God and Jesus. Commandment: Thou shalt build no false idols to me. So the Catholic Church (and others) builds massively expensive gold plated false idols. Yet they are filthy perverts who molest children.

People, stay away from these criminals! Keep your children away. Reject this church. In fact reject all religion. Religion is evil! “Suffer the little children to come unto me.” Yeah, right – the priests are wringing their hands at the thought of playing with little boys genitals. Evil! Suffering children? They don’t care.

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Honda MDX, the same as mine, colour too.

I’ve still got my 2005 Honda MDX and although I thought of selling it earlier in the year, I don’t think I will now. I love mine. Although I have the Peugeot, that sporty coupe, I tend to choose to drive the Honda when I go shopping because it’s just so pleasant to drive. Sure, it’s big and heavy, but it’s smooth and powerful and has loads and loads of room.

Mine has these wheels.

I can hardly believe I’ve got one of these. I remember when they came out, in the 1990s I think, and I boggled at a V6 cylinder, twin overhead cam, fuel injected, on-demand 4WD in this great body. All leather:

Phwoooaaar, I thought, but at $75,000 I would never be able to have one.

Well, 25 or so years later, I got one. And I love it. Very reliable. Mine had a few small faults but I’ve fixed most of them, so at $3,000, what a buy. I won’t sell now.

I read the reviews and they say it didn’t sell well in Australia mainly due to the awful styling. What??!! I love the styling, are you crazy?

Lexus UX250h
This is awful styling. Ugh!

The only thing I don’t like is the foot operated parking brake, US style. Kicking it off is not too bad, but lifting my left foot high enough to push it on is a pain, literally.

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I’ve finally finished the latest Robert Goddard novel, The Fine Art of Invisible Detection. Hmmm, I think he’s lost it. That’s the third recent novel of his where I’ve finished it and thought, “I’ve wasted too many hours reading this book.”

Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great novelist but I think he’s getting past his prime. This one lacked tension, lacked a good story line, was far too twisty in a plot that lacked credibility. Others may disagree but I haven’t enjoyed his last three books. Pity. But if you want some great reads, just start with Past Caring, his first novel from many years ago, and you’ll have many months of good books ahead of you.

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I’m almost embarrassed to admit it but I’ve been absorbed by SAS Australia on channel 7. It’s gung-ho, military style he-man stuff, but I am very impressed by the four UK guys, ex-SAS men themselves. I don’t know if the show is scripted or whether they generate their own dialogue and ideas, but their insights and psychological discoveries about the amateur soldiers impress me.

Most of all, in this series, I am impressed by Jana Pitman. She is a double gold medal Olympic athlete in the 400m running and 400m hurdles. Then when she retired from athletics, she entered medical school and is now qualified as a doctor. Wow, wow. I am so impressed.

Now she’s the only woman remaining out of five survivors so far of this SAS test on TV. She must be tough! And she’s 1.8m tall, too, so she could beat me up. I think she’s great.

At first I thought this series was set in South Africa, judging by the mountains and scenery, but I’m realising it’s here in Oz, somewhere in the Blue Mountains in NSW, I’d say. It looks great, massive mountains, rugged cliffs, fantastic views. It makes me want to go there and see it. One o’ these days, Doris.

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Speaking of Doris, which was my grandmother’s name on Dad’s side, even though I didn’t renew my subscription to the MyHeritage genealogy web site, they keep sending me emails about links they find.

But at A$330 for a year’s data, I’m not tempted. Especially when I get something like the latest, where they’ve found a new link to “Arthur Adolph Dubois, my Great-great-uncle’s father-in-law”. Um, no, I don’t think that adds greatly to my tree. I’ve gone sideways enough. If they could go further back than the 17th Century, I might be interested, but they’re too expensive. I’m surprised they haven’t phoned me and begged me to rejoin.

And another, and another…

Japan, Ogimachi village. © PJ Croft 2021.

The title carries on from the last post, Another bad Liberal. They’re going down like nine-pins. It’s all “alleged” of course, we can’t be specific, but I’ll say it: Liberal Party politicians are more likely than not to be involved in dodgy dealing, unethical conduct, sham deals or outright corruption.

Why? Because the Liberal philosophy is: laws are for little people, they don’t apply to me, they are just a speed bump on my road to make myself and my friends and family rich. NB: my family and friends. Liberals see themselves and their immediate circle as far more important than society. They believe that anyone who has trouble “making it” in society is just not trying, not worth thinking about.

In case it’s not clear, I despise Liberals.

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Brrrr! Brrrrr!! It’s too cool. This is the second month of Spring, yet it’s still too cool and wet. The seasons really have shifted, haven’t they? Oh well, the summer is longer to compensate.

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I was supposed to be going out to meet a lady right now, but she asked to be excused due to a tummy bug.

The story is that I was in the city in February last year for a Perth Fringe Festival event, a high class strip show meant for women, especially women who like women (wink). I was dressed appropriately, shall we say. I went in on the train and arrived early on a very warm evening, so I walked up William St to a bar and had a pre-show drink. As I was walking back toward the venue (Yagan Square), a woman was walking toward me. She was alone, very attractive and also dressed in a very zany style. Our eyes met, she stopped to talk and we had a very, very nice brief encounter. She was at pains to tell me her name and asked me to friend her on Facebook, which I did immediately. We’ve been following each other ever since, for 20 months. I learnt a bit about her but would never have taken it further. Well, maybe not “never”. I had been toying with asking her to meet for coffee, just in the interests of building a bigger circle of friends.

She got in first. On Saturday I got a comment from her on one of my posts that she’d like to meet up. I moved our conversation to Private Messaging and we had a very nice chat, she being very complimentary about me. Nice! So we were supposed to meet for a date tonight, but she’s called in sick. Anyway, it’s too bloody cold.

So, wow! I’ve been asked out on a date by a very glamorous woman. That’s a first for me, although I’ve missed many signs and opportunities before. I am hugely flattered. She knows I dress as a woman and she said, “So do I.” Ha ha ha ha, GSOH. Looks like it will have to wait a week or two, but we will meet. She’s mature, with a 35yo son, but that’s good.

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Speaking of dressing female, I had lunch with six other guys I used to work with at Ch.7 last Friday and I went as Peta, dressed female. This is the first time any of them knew about it or have seen me as a woman, so I was a little nervous, but I needn’t have worried, of course. A couple of the guys didn’t even realise who I was. Who was this woman sitting down at our table?

The irony is that way back in the 1990s, it was a topic of conversation at our Ch7 lunch table in the cafeteria about a guy at Channel 10, a technician, who used to go to work dressed as a woman. This was a quite ribald topic, of course, but I stayed silent, thinking, “Good on you mate – I wish I had your courage.” I never met him/her, don’t even know her name, but I hope it all worked out for her.

On that topic, I have an appointment with a urological surgeon on Wednesday morning. Nothing drastic, nothing major.

Ho hum, another bad Liberal

Dieng, Java 1989. These two were cousins. I reckon I would have been on a good thing with the young lady, if I’d been able to stick around. She took a shine to me. But she was Muslim.

Well, the Bureau of Meteorology is not doing too well in forecasting at the moment. Yesterday and today were supposed to be wet, wet, wet, yet Wednesday was pretty dry and nice all day. It rained early yesterday morning, yet since about 8am it’s become sunnier and nicer.

Today’s forecast is for 100% chance of rain, 15-25mm. I have a lunch scheduled and was hoping for a fine Spring day. Which will it be, rain or shine? It seems to be a flip of the coin. (Hint: it rained.)

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Yet another court case involving a former Liberal Party politician – today a former Liberal Treasurer of WA has been charged with a potential criminal offence and is in custody (meaning he’s in a cell). This guy was once seriously put forward as the potential “next” premier of WA. This is the guy who made sexual innuendo into an art form. He quit politics under the smell of scandal. The charge relates to domestic abuse. What a nice guy.

A famous Liberal son is also in the news now for allegedly being associated with alleged dodgy property schemes.

The damning laptop which threatens to expose even more of the scandals surrounding at least one other ex Liberal politician is still being sought by the Corruption and Crime Commission.

Week after week, month after month, more and more comes out about the criminality of the Liberal Party of WA. They do not deserve to exist as a political party.

It is vital that we have a strong newspaper and journalism tradition to expose these things. I’m not much impressed by The West Australian and its Channel 7 ownership and bias, but at least there are some good journalists still trying to fight the good fight.

PS: Hah! Prophetic headlines. I wrote the above paragraph yesterday, and today yet another Liberal politician has bitten the dust. Although she hasn’t been charged with any crime, and is presumed innocent, Gladys Berejiklian, premier of NSW, has resigned. She was very, very foolish in her choice of “boyfriend”, another Liberal MP in the NSW parliament and is alleged to have “looked the other way” while he did dodgy deals.

As I said, when the mud is flying, it sticks to Liberal Party people. We need a federal ICAC!

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Speaking of fighting the good fight, I’ve long admired the US TV series, The Good Fight, shown on SBS and Netflix. It concerns a law firm in Chicago which is owned almost exclusively by Black lawyers. Except one of the principals is a white woman. I suppose it’s to hang some of the story lines on, but she does a fantastic job. This firm is left wing Democrat aligned and anti-Trump to the eyeballs. Hilary Clinton features a bit. It’s right up to the minute – the present episodes are about the storming of the Capitol and so on.

They’re into series five now. The first few series were magnificent – crackling scriptwriting, engaging stories, likeable characters. I enjoyed it immensely and I’ve got it all recorded. It’s good enough that I’ll go back and start from series 1, ep. 1 one day.

But I’m sad to say that the current episodes have descended into silliness. Several of the major characters have departed and the law firm is being rebuilt, with power struggles for who is in control.

I’ll stick with it, but it’s clear that there have been changes in scriptwriters, too. Crazy characters, weird stories. I still highly recommend watching from the start, if you haven’t seen it.

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This was 2012 but all these guys were with us today.

I’ve just got home after a lunch with six other guys I used to work with at Channel 7 for so many years. Of course, I went dressed as Peta and this was the first time any of them knew, or have seen me in my new persona. A couple of the guys didn’t recognise me until I spoke up. Everyone was very polite at first and didn’t say anything, so I had to fill the gap at one point and explain myself, to much polite laughter, but it was fine and we all had a good time. It’s a pity it was raining so much; when I booked it several weeks ago, I was hoping for a nice warm, sunny Spring day. No such luck. Would you believe, I forgot all about a group photo. There we were, all techo people and none of us thought of a photo. Duh!

I had fish tacos. Bloody hell, I could have made a better dish than that. The tacos were just three soft circles of flatbread. The fish was three small cubes (one on each flatbread), about a 20mm cube, of some tough fish that hardly tasted of anything. On a bed of chopped up red cabbage! No other vegetables. Drizzled with a dressing from a bottle. I could have done a better job!! $22.

One of the conversation points was: Who’s doing the book? Who wants to write a book about our Channel 7 days? Me, me me me, pick me. I’ve been writing it in my head for years and here is someone else thinking about it too. I’d better make a quick start because I don’t want someone else to jump in first. I say this because I know I can write interesting, lucid, entertaining prose, my memory is fantastic and I have hundreds of photos. In addition, I can lay it out, attractively, ready for publication.

I will call for contributions but I’ll have to very diplomatically say that I reserve the right to edit, in order to correct spelling and grammar and preserve the style.

I mentioned to someone (a young lady in a shop who I talk to regularly) that I need voice to text software so I can dictate. Being young and “phone savvy”, she said, hey, you’ve got it on your phone, and showed me how to use Google Docs voice to text on the phone. Shazzam! This means I could lie in bed and dictate at any time. This could work!

Cutting the mustard

Near Northam 2017 © PJ Croft 2021

Aaarrrgh, I’ve just knocked a glass jar of mustard off the shelf and smashed it on the tiled floor. I suppose it’s good that the gooey mustard contained the glass and stopped it from spreading everywhere. And I was wearing sandals so my feet were not endangered. Smells quite nice, too. It was truffle mustard, but I’m damned if I could ever taste any truffles.

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I can hardly believe it but I’ve got the TV on and switched to the AFL Grand Final at Perth Stadium. That’s Australian Football League football, for those who don’t know.

I’m not usually a footy fan or watcher and since these are two Melbourne teams playing, I don’t really care either. But this is historic – the first time an AFL Grand Final has ever been played in Perth, so I thought I should at least have a glance as the game progresses. The teams are Melbourne (I think they’re nicknamed the Demons?) versus the Western Bulldogs (nickname? The Dogs, I think.) Both have red and blue colours, just different shades and patterns.

I don’t care which team wins. I have a slight preference for the team with Western in their name, but …

Ho hum. Perfect day for it, cloudless blue sky, no wind, 23deg.

PS: Melbourne won, and by a big margin. They doubled the Western Bulldogs score. That qualifies as a thrashing. Ho hum, do I care? No.

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Peripheral neuropathy, i.e. nerve pain in the extremities. Mine’s due to diabetes, but I gather it has other causes.

Nonetheless, mine is bloody bad, and has got worse in the last year or so. Head jerking, eye watering, cry-out-loud ice-pick jabs for 10 secs or so, every few minutes, often much more frequent. Constant stinging, burning, aching pain.

The treatment is duloxetine, an anti-depressant, and it works for me, but it also causes me insomnia so I can’t tolerate it. Tramadol, same. Ordinary paracetemol, not strong enough.

My latest med is Panadeine Forte, paracetemol + codeine. It works very effectively, but again, insomnia! What’s wrong with me that all these things interfere with my sleep? I took it on a day last week at about 0830 and within half an hour, I could feel it working, the pain subsiding. But I tried to have an afternoon nap and it was hopeless, I just lay there. It took about 12 hours for the “hyped” feeling to fade away.

I would definitely qualify for CBD oil, cannabidiol, which is available here now, but the cost is very high – about $200 for a month’s supply, I believe. I guess I’d better try it once to see if it’s effective enough.

Btw, I found a sufferer’s group on Facebook and joined up, but it turns out to be US based and is full of bullshit. People on there are linking it to COVID vaccination. I haven’t found anything useful so far and I’ll be bailing out.

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I mentioned that I’ve been watching a bit of commercial TV lately, such as this Grand Final coverage on Seven and the Aussie Salvage Crew, Outback Truckers, SAS Australia and so on. But good grief! The commercial breaks are so long as to be utterly intrusive. Many times I think the breaks are longer than the program segments.

When I used to do the program switching, breaks were simple, just four commercials and back to the program. Only four were allowed, and a maximum of two minutes per break, eight minutes per hour in prime time, 11 mins per hour outside prime time.

But the TV stations applied massive pressure, the Australian Broadcasting Control Board was abolished and morphed into ACMA, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, the powers were limited and commercial stations became “self-regulated”. The result is that ACMA is toothless and there is almost no regulation.

Therefore we have a promo going into a break, then at least five commercials, many times six or seven, then another promo, and another, then a “teaser” showing a sponsor’s name going back into the program. Many breaks are five minutes or more.

It’s bad enough that I don’t watch live. I record anything I want to watch on my digital HDD recorder, then replay it later to watch, pressing the >> button when the break starts. This is not FF, it’s a button that finds the next “chapter break”. This means I skip directly from the end of one segment to the start of the next. Aaaahhh.

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Going nuclear

Kids in Singapore 2004 © PJ Croft 2021

Interesting times indeed. But first, the weather report: brrrrr. My tiny fingers are frozen. It’s a fine sunny day, but Spring sprang, then has sprung back a bit. Lots of rain yesterday and last night.

Yet although it was only 15deg yesterday and 18deg today, it’s forecast to be 29deg next Wednesday. Wow, that’s a range.

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I’m sure that deal to drop the French submarine project in favour of the US/UK has been months in the planning, but what a convenient time to announce it, hoping to distract and cover up the Christian Porter scandal.

For my foreign readers, Christian Porter is my local member of the federal parliament. He’s a man of huge ego, ambition and arrogance and entered federal parliament with his eye on becoming prime minister one day, I’m sure.

But, while he was Attorney General, a huge scandal came out involving his past. It was reported on, and he chose to sue the reporter (personally) for defamation. However, for various reasons he had to withdraw the action, but not before incurring huge legal costs for himself, of the order of a million dollars or so. This was his own personal law suit so he is liable for his own costs.

Last week he told the parliament that someone, he says he doesn’t know who, has donated a sum of money, he doesn’t know how much, into a “blind trust” to help him pay these fees. He says he doesn’t know who did this.

What a crock of shit. He is a top lawyer, a former attorney-general and someone who puts himself up as a man of honour, yet he can’t see the blatant double standard. Even Malcolm Turnbull, another top lawyer and former prime minister, is shouting from the rooftops that this stinks. As he says, it’s the equivalent of some guy coming to his office with a mask on and handing over a bag of money and saying he expects nothing in return. Pull the other one!

Anyway, this was turning into a huge scandal for the government, so what better way to drown it out than to make this big announcement of a deal with the US and UK that we’re going to dump our French submarines and build our own, with US or UK supplied nuclear reactors as power plants.

Sure, it’s a big deal, but the Porter deal won’t go away. As one journalist wrote today, Memo Government, we can think of more than one thing at once, you know.

Yet another feckup by this terrible, awful, corrupt Liberal government.

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Even though I’m a total Labor man, with sympathy for the Greens, I’m not totally anti-nuclear. I’m a science guy and I know that technology exists to make small reactors that are some of the safest things on the planet, due to all the science and engineering that has been developed over many decades.

The US and UK have been running nuclear powered subs for a long time and there has never, repeat never, been an accident on a sub. Holy moley, there are hundreds of submariners and scores of nuclear subs which occupy berths in ports in the USA and UK. Do you think they’d risk this if there was any chance of a nuclear event or accident?

As for Adam Bandt (leader of the Greens) saying that we’ll have floating Chernobyls in our harbours, well Adam, I think you made a wild exaggeration there.

My comment on all this is (a) there is not a snowball’s chance in hell of these subs being combat ready for at least 15 years, until 2035 at the earliest. To think they will be ready for us to use when we need them is wishful thinking.

And (b), we can’t even get enough seamen to man our existing subs now. How are we going to get the submariners to run these things?

And (c), here we have yet another Defence Department stuff-up costing us $billions of wasted money, down the drain, on yet another failed project. The huge amounts of money going to waste on military projects in the past few decades are mind boggling. The Department of Defence has a lot to answer for. In my opinion, they are just flat-out incompetent.

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Phew, enough of venting for now. A bit of praise for a change. I hate to admit it, but I’ve been watching 7Mate (the TV channel) lately and I’m enjoying it. Ugh, this is a channel that’s aimed at the bloke down at the pub, singlet and shorts and work boots, high-vis vest, with, shall we say, limited interests.

Yet I’ve been watching SAS Australia, Outback Truckers, Heavy Haulers (whatever it’s called), and Aussie Salvage Squad.

I shouldn’t be attracted to any of them, being the kind of guy who likes concerts by the Berlin Philharmonic and intellectual dramas like Silent Witness.

But SAS Australia grabs me. Why? I confess to admiration for Ant Middleton, the main ex-SAS guy. He has charisma to burn and seems to me like the kind of guy you’d want to be around in an emergency.

Second, I like seeing the people who have put themselves up for the challenge of doing this gruelling course. Many of them come across as very interesting people, and by jingo, they must have courage to do this. One of them is a former tennis star, a woman, and it turns out she’s a doctor too. I’m impressed. In fact, many of the women are the most interesting.

Outback Truckers – heavy haulage trucking through some of the most interesting country. Seeing what goes wrong and how they fix their trucks and tyres. The shocking quality of our roads! Most of the remote townships in the north depend on big trucks getting through with supplies, once a month or so, yet the trucks have to battle corrugations, narrow roads, dust, sand, and mud! As soon as it rains up there, the roads turn into mud slides. These communities shouldn’t have to put up with this. There’s got to be a better way.

Heavy Haulers – I’m fascinated by watching how they load these enormous loads, usually much wider than the truck that’s carrying them. The skill at negotiating narrow roads and tight corners, low bridges, and the crappy road surfaces too.

The new show, Aussie Salvage Squad, is based in Busselton, WA. It’s set around another charismatic guy who with his wife, owns an enormous ex-army truck, which stupidly, they call Christopher. It has an 800hp diesel engine which drives all eight giant wheels, so its pulling power is enormous. It has a huge winch on the back which deploys steel cable about 30mm in diameter. They also have a big Mercedes Uni-mog, also with winches front and back and tyres the size of ship bumpers.

These guys will go anywhere in Australia so we see rescue operations such as earth moving machinery that’s become bogged in seas of mud, partially or fully sunk boats, beach rescues of sunken or wallowing boats, derelict cars in national parks that have to be removed from deep gullies and so on. I confess, I find it fascinating, especially when it shows places in WA.

The main conclusions I see are first, the very bad road conditions once you get out of the big cities and the costs this causes to the trucks and the people in the remote areas. Second, the damage being done to the existing roads all the time by these heavy trucks and loads. More ports so that the big loads can be transported by sea, then relatively short roads from the ports? If I ruled the world …

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My favourite photography blogger (Mike Johnston The On-line Photographer) said today that he doesn’t find sample galleries in equipment testing of much use or interest any more.

I’ve commented on his blog that I don’t find them as much use as when DPReview was based in London, before it was bought by Amazon and moved to Seattle. I loved the sample shots they got by walking around the streets of London, so much that I downloaded many of them and I go back and look, from time to time. For example:

Fuji S100fs sample.
Fuji S100fs
Fuji S100fs

I wish I could show more – this folder for this camera alone contains 158 images and I have many more folders for other brands of cameras.

These three images were taken with the Fujifilm S100fs camera, which I bought in 2008 and took on my Europe trip. Even though it’s 13 years old and way out of date, I won’t part with it. I still marvel at the sharpness of my photos from that trip, and with a fixed lens of 28mm to 400mm, with image stabilisation, I never found myself short. The fs in the name is short for “film simulation”, meaning it has a built in capability to adjust the output images to mimic Fuji’s film looks, like Velvia, Astia, Provia and so on. I always liked Velvia slide film, with its extra saturation and vivid colour.

A few more samples from different cameras:

Sigma DP1 (I bought one of these cameras)
Sigma DP1
Sigma SD14
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA E-PL2 (I own one of these too)
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA E-PL2
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA E-PL2

I have hundreds and hundreds of marvellous images – I wish I could show you more.

By the way, over the past few months I’ve been posting many, many of my own images on my Facebook page and I invite you to look. These are just samples, selections of, say, 16 images out of a folder of 150 or more. I have thousands upon thousands – I wish I could show more. I should set up a web site …

That day

Singapore 2002. © PJ Croft 2021

September 11, 2001. The 20th anniversary of that terrible day in history.

In terms of number of deaths, it doesn’t rank with other calamities and atrocities. More Jews would have died in the gas chambers and civilians in the fire bombings in WW2 Germany than the number of Americans who died in the towers.

It was the shock of how easily these religious terrorists were able to bring America to its knees that hurt so much. And the way it was so visible, and so front and centre, in your face in the news that made us take notice. There have been worse mass killings recently, but they are not covered by the news media in the same way and are not so spectacular, so we note them and lament, but then we move on. I’m thinking of the atrocities in Burma involving the Rohingyha and the Uyghyurs in western China and the religious purges of Muslims in India and the list goes on and on. These are also terrible crimes involving mass deaths, but they don’t involve America, so Americans largely don’t care.

That’s the thing, Americans only care about the things they know about, and for a country so profoundly ignorant of anything outside their borders, well, it doesn’t get covered.

If President George “Shrub” Bush hadn’t been in power, we would be so much better off today. His decision to punish the terrorists by invading Iraq, not Afghanistan, was one of the most monumental mistakes in history. The cost was more than 100,000 Iraqi civilian lives and over 5,000 US soldiers’ lives. US soldiers are still dying today, at the rate of eight suicides a day, due to that mass murderer’s decision, along with the other mass murderer, Donald Rumsfeld. He’s now burning in hell, but Bush is still to face the music.

Our little man, little Johnny Howard, Bush’s boot licker-in-chief, committed us to the war in Iraq without any consultation with parliament, and so we’re still bearing the consequences today. We lost brave men in that futile war too and like the US, we’re seeing former soldiers take their own lives at an alarming rate now.

So typically for the USA, they think 9/11 is all about them, but they have thought they have the God-given right to invade and kill in other countries for the past century. They only have themselves to blame when they get some blow-back.

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The twin-towers happened on a Monday evening our time in Perth. New York is 12 hours different, so 9am in New York is 9pm previous day here.

I must have been watching a VHS movie on that Monday evening, I think, because I didn’t see anything on TV and went to bed in blissful ignorance. It was only when I awoke and heard the ABC news next morning, Tuesday 12th, that I realised what had happened. I was hearing something about the World Trade Centre collapsing. Whaaaht? So from then on, I was glued to the TV.

Dad had died only a few weeks beforehand, at the beginning of August, so I was still feeling pretty fragile from that, but for the rest of that Tuesday I remember feeling very depressed about this spectacular tragedy. I went out to the shops just to get out of the house and among some people. It helped a bit. The feeling didn’t last and the next day I felt better, but I will agree I felt great sympathy for Americans that day. Tempered by, as I’ve said, feelings that they must have expected some kind of revenge for all the things America has done.

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I’ve had a long phone chat with one of my favourite cousins in Brisbane today. We’re both electronics men, he nine years younger than me at 64, and still working. As he says, he feels no pressure to retire because he’s still on top of his game and I don’t think there are many young Turks looking to take his job. As I said, if you’re still enjoying the work, then just keep going.

We were talking about how great phone cameras are these days and I should have mentioned a little gadget I’ve just bought –

It’s called a CapGripImpact, and it’s a grip for your phone. I’ve found I don’t use my phone for photos much because I can’t hold it easily and reach the photo button on the screen at the same time.

This acts as a handle for your phone. It has spring loaded grippers, like a car mount, which hold the phone and gives you a “grip” shaped like a camera grip, with a BlueTooth button for the shutter. You just pair it with your phone and then use the button as a shutter button. As you can see, the button slides out and you can use it as a remote shutter release. It works for video as well, of course.

It cost about $35. Mine arrived yesterday and it works as advertised. I plan to leave it on permanently as I’ve always had a bit of trouble gripping and holding my slippery phone. I might even consider some glue or double sided sticky tape to ensure it stays on. https://capgripimpact.com/

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I am the original “Man who has everything.” I’ve been watching mechanical stuff on YouTube recently and thought a power screwdriver looks like a real handy thing. I must get one of those, I thought.

So I was rummaging in my closet just now and found a box on the shelf, containing, you guessed it, a battery operated power screwdriver. Hah. I’d forgotten I had it. It’s only an Aldi WorkZone cheapie but I’ve found their tools to be very good quality. And cheap!

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I think I need to get out more. I’ve developed a caveman habit this winter, staying at home and not going anywhere.

As well, lately I’ve started driving the Honda MDX a bit too, and I’m realising what a pleasure it is to drive. So, combined with hearing on the radio how great the wildflowers are at the moment, due to the wet weather we’ve been having, I think a trip must be in order. Nothing planned as yet, and this coming week is still forecast to be wet, but it has to be soon.

I used to drive quite a bit and it’s a long time since I felt that open road feeling.

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Another car has just gone past and blown its horn! What is it with people around here? I hear horns being blown many times a day, every day. It’s against the law. The law says you can only blow the horn if in imminent danger of a collision. I saw this car – I can see the roundabout from where I’m sitting as I type, and there was no danger of a collision in this case. It was just a driver blowing the horn to say, “Hi.” Not good enough, not allowed.

Warmth!

In the Long Bar of the Raffles Hotel, Singapore 1992. PS: Holy smoke, that’s near 30 years ago!

Aaah, I can open the front door and feel a warm breeze for the first time in months. 30degC today, lovely. Yet it’s only a few days since we had rain showers, and a couple of days to the next lot, but sure enough, my neighbour was out with the hose, watering his garden this morning. What is it with these garden watering zealots?

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Spring, sprang, sprung – I will spring, I sprang, I have sprung. For goodness sake, stop saying the economy sprung! It sprang, dammit.

It’s the same with drink, drank, drunk – I will drink, I drank and I have drunk.

Sink, sank, sunk – the ship may sink, it sank, it has sunk. Not “The ship sunk.”!

Sink, sank, sunk,
Who woulda thunk,
That the media,
Would write such garbage junk?

The standard of English is in decline. The millennials working with words these days should demand their money back from the schools and colleges, because their teachers have failed them. They have failed to learn proper English. It’s a disgrace.

Why does it matter? Because we stumble over their coarse grammar and spelling, needing to go back and re-read their words to be sure we understand their tortured prose. When I say we, I mean we who take pride in being correct.

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Speaking of colleges, on listening to ABC radio this morning, we were told of yet another case of a teacher at various Catholic schools in WA and later, South Australia, who was a paedophile, a sadist and a sexual predator on young boys.

This man was a teacher at religious schools and colleges, including the most prestigious, such as Aquinas in Perth, who was later accepted into the Catholic priesthood, who taught hundreds of boys, and who daily wielded a leather strap to the point of sadism. He occupied positions up to principal of these Catholic schools and colleges.

The speaker this morning was Dave Kelly MHR, a current minister in the state government, who said he was one of the many boys who suffered this abuse and feels he has to speak out. The teacher he named has died, but the point of speaking out is that he, the state government minister, has tried to get the colleges and the Catholic hierarchy in WA to “open up”, to own the problem and to tell what they know and make contact with all the former students, but they refuse.

This is yet another example of the cover-up being waged by the Catholic church over the hundreds, thousands of examples of sexual and physical abuse of children by priests over many decades.

On the ABC News website this morning is a long story about the almost incredible crimes of the Catholic church in Canada, where mass graves are being uncovered, unmarked, but containing thousands of buried children. Again, it’s a horrific story of child abuse and torture by the church. The upper levels of the church hierarchy knew, yet they kept silent and condoned it.

When I grew up, we were in a very religious family where we were taught about Heaven and Hell and Jesus and Satan. The message was that Satan was ever present and if you did wrong, you might go to this Hell, somewhere underground, and Satan, although invisible, was ever watchful and waiting to ensnare youngsters like us.

Well, I lost religion many decades ago and my view now is that we don’t need to look underground for Hell, or through the mist for Satan. They are right here, right now, in organised religion. These churches are evil personified, hell on earth. They are paedophile training organisations. If a man grows up wanting sex with boys, well, he knows, just join the church and become a priest. It’s not just men, women became nuns and abused girls too.

What gets into people? And when is the church going to be fully held to account, especially the Catholic church?

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Planned obsolescence department, or, did you think your product would last beyond next month?

Have you noticed Nespresso’s ads for their coffee pod machines lately? You know the shape, like a cutoff cone at the bottom.

Well, notice the shape of the pods in the ads. They are a different shape. Now they’re shaped like a hemisphere, a half dome.

Which means they probably won’t fit in your existing machine. Neat, eh? You’ll just have to buy a new machine.

Which is why I’ve never bought a Nespresso machine or bought their pods.

PS: I’ve since realised that the new shape pods are for a new machine they’ve just introduced. OK, so they don’t break the old models, but you can see the strategy.

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Unfortunately my multi-pod machine is still busted (because I haven’t fixed it), so I’m forced to use coffee tubes. I quite like Moccona Extra Strong. Unfortunately they some have sugar in them, but are not too sweet.

Which leads on to – Nestle 98% Sugar Free Latte coffee tubes. I bought a packet of these yesterday, 10 tubes for $3.50, but sugar free? They have <2% sugar, but only when you think, “This is too bloody sweet!” and read the fine print do you find that they add artificial sweetener! To me, they taste sweeter than coffee with sugar.

I can’t tolerate them so today I wrote to Nestle.com.au and told them to stick their tubes. I’ve had an acknowledgement but I await a further reply.

PS: Wednesday – Nestle have replied saying they’re sorry I don’t “love” their product, but nothing about changing anything. Instead, I have to send them my full street address and home phone number and they’ll send me a voucher, which has to be activated by me generating a PIN code on their web site, and so on. NO NO NO, forget it. I’ve tipped their “lovable” but sickly sweet coffee into the bin and vowed never to buy it again.

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Which reminds me – I bought a software program a couple of weeks ago, Topaz Sharpen AI. The AI stands for Artificial Intelligence, of course.

Well, apart from being pretty damn slow, how about this?

As well, it tells me there’s an upgrade available, would I like to download and install it? Unfortunately, the process throws up an error message and won’t go any further. I’m pretty fed up.

I’ve emailed them and their answer is to go back to an earlier version, and await further communication. I’m not happy. US$49.

Warming up slowly

Deepavali Indian festival, Singapore 1986. © PJ Croft 2021

Bloody cold, wet and windy on Sept 1, cool and grey Sept 2, sunny but cold 16deg Sept 3 and now sunny and clear but cold enough that I’ve got the heating on in the daytime.

Yet it will be 25 on Monday and 28deg on Wednesday, I think. Wow. Changeable.

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Singapore 2004 © PJ Croft 2021

For the past 4-6 weeks I’ve been posting many samples of my thousands of images on my Facebook page, especially the ones I’ve put into book form. I’ve done 13 books total and five CDs and DVDs.

I’ve deliberately included the words about the books, “Available for purchase, A3 size, 40pp, hard cover” and similar for the CD/DVDs. I don’t specify a price but it’s about $40 for an A3 book.

I’m getting a lot of love from my F/B friends and readers, lots of likes and some praise.

But NOT ONE person has made any enquiry about purchasing. Not an iota of interest. I’m dumbfounded. Especially after I bought two copies of a book one of my former work colleagues had made earlier this year. Does he return the favour? Nope.

For years, people have said, “Gee, you ought to try and sell these.” Well, I bloody am trying, but I have never been able to sell anything except a few copies of the Croft Histories to family members.

I can’t even give them away! Some years ago (2001, actually), I offered a framed print of any of my photos to two people, as a gift. They just said, “No thanks.”

I was and still am fucking insulted. What a nasty attitude. Even if you don’t like my images or style, you don’t refuse an offered gift!!! They could have taken their gift and put it in a cupboard if they found it too horrible to look at, but not these two fucking idiots. I am hurt and upset.

And speaking of refusing gifts, about five years ago I made copies of two of my best DVDs and gave them as gifts to five friends at a coffee morning one day. I’d gone to a lot of trouble, recording them as BluRay HD discs and printing sleeves for the DVD cases.

When I handed them out, hardly anyone commented or thanked me, except in a brief manner, and no-one has ever said they played the discs or made any comment. And one woman handed them back to me at our next meeting, saying she hasn’t got a BluRay player and so can’t watch them, so, no thanks, here are your discs back. Fuck me dead!!! How bloody rude! She didn’t have to say anything.

I despair. Yes, I am very sensitive, but …

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Books. I did tire of World War 3 books somewhat and picked another one about a future cyber war, initiated by China, of course. The author is John Birmingham, a Brisbane journalist. I’ve read three of his earlier books and found them so good that I re-read them a few years later. I liked his writing, in other words.

But this one —– sorry John, I’ve had to bail out. The story line is good, but while I’m reading I’m thinking “Get to the bloody point!!!” His narrative is so dense, so clogged up with byways and characters that I’m thinking, “What the hell is this? Why is this person in this story? I don’t care what brand of hair shampoo she uses or what alcohol he drinks.” It just rambles on and on, in flowery prose, lively, to be sure, but I’ve got bored, I’m afraid. Sorry John.

Now I’ve started an actual paper book again, by Robert Goddard, The Gentle Art of Silent Detective Work. Strange title.

Goddard is a prolific British author who writes roughly a book a year, and has been doing so for about 30 years, meaning about 30 books and I’ve read them all. That’s how much I like him. His early books are better, in my opinion, but the latter ones are still good. I’ll automatically buy and read anything he writes.

I’ve hardly started this latest one but it’s set in Japan at the moment. I shall report.

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Music: in 50 years of hi-fi and music listening, I’ve collected about 1,100 CDs, about evenly split between classical and the rest, including electronics (Vangelis, Mike Oldfield), modern jazz (Pat Metheny, Mark Isham – very underrated), quality rock (Pink Floyd, Kid Loco), nostalgia (Beatles, Stones), MOR (Carpenters, Irish) etc etc.

Including ABBA!

I love ABBA, always have. I love the harmonies, the catchy tunes, the rhythms, everything. They got old and retired, but now they’re back! I’ll buy this new album I think, although I can just listen to it on Amazon Prime Music without having to pay any more. Anyway, welcome back ABBA.

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Ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate,
That Time will come and take my love away.
This thought is as a death, which cannot choose
But weep to have that which it fears to lose.

Shakespeare Sonnet 64.

Sonnet 64 is a great example of why people always say “You should never let your past interfere with your present”. Barret argues that sonnet 64 “provides an example of past-oriented natural habitats that might interfere with the productive considerations of the future”. In other words, because the speaker is letting the past overwhelm his thoughts, he therefore cannot think positively about the future due to past habits or tendencies.

Ring true?