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.


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.


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.


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 …


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)

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.


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.


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/


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!


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.


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.


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?


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.


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?


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.


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.


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.


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 …


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.


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.


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?

Spring is sprung

Near Cairns, 1989 © PJ Croft 2021

Spring is sprung
Da grass is riz
I wonder where da boidies is
Da little boids is on da wing
Ain’t that absoid?
Da wings is on da little boid

If you’re old enough to remember, Jimmy Durante.

Aah, first day of Spring, after August, always the hardest month in my opinion. Unfortunately, although it seemed wet, we didn’t make the average rainfall. Never fear, there’s plenty of time for more rain yet. It’s grey and threatening now and tomorrow is supposed to bring a real winter blast, with the possibility of snow down south.

Remember that expression? When women wore petticoats and they slipped down to below their skirt, showing the lace edge, we used to say, “It’s snowing down south.” But women don’t wear petticoats any more, I don’t think. I never see the lace edge any more. Pity.


I’ve just been listening to two WA state Liberal officials, Peter Collier, one of the two Liberal members of parliament, and David Honey, the state director, trying to weasel their way out of answering questions about the disgusting report into the Liberal Party’s monumental loss that came out last week. The report that described The Clan, a group of four male powerbrokers who seem to enjoy wielding power by branch stacking to get their way.

They described women in the movement as the “Sandwich Makers”.

These two guys ducked and weaved and prevaricated and basically said, We’re not gonna talk. They used pathetic excuses like rules preventing them from talking. They wouldn’t talk about anything.

As the radio announcer said, OK, if that’s your attitude, how about we don’t take anything you say seriously, until you will talk about this? What a nasty, pathetic mob. How anyone can support the Liberal Party is beyond me.


Then there was the radio interview with Senator Michaelia Cash, Liberal, who is the federal attorney-general, the top law officer in the country. Appointed after my local member, Christian Porter, formerly attorney-general and would-be PM, was forced out after those scandalous revelations.

She was talking about Clive Palmer’s latest legal challenge to WA’s hard border closure due to the pandemic. She says, we had better get used to the idea that this time, it might succeed. That the High Court might rule that WA’s closure is unconstitutional.

But she sounded very definitely as if she wants the challenge to succeed. She’s talking as if the federal government will be backing Clive Palmer, even though they wouldn’t dare.

What is it with these incredibly stupid Liberals? They seem to be doing everything they can to be electoral poison in WA.

Well, I think WA will vote to tell them to stay on their side of the border in the next election. WA stands a good chance of voting for a federal Liberal wipeout, just as we did in March in the state election. Hooray. I think there’s a good chance WA will swing the entire election to Labor next time. Yaah!


I’ve done a big Facebook post today of images from my trips to Malaysia years ago. Starting in about 1990 I made several trips, often starting or finishing in Singapore. I have hundreds of images as a result:

KL railway station. Those four ladies in the centre were looking at me taking the photo and smiling. I sort of knew, yet I was too shy and walked away. Fool!

I used to think a lot about choosing to retire to Penang, as property prices there were quite attractive in the 1990s. Medical care is very good there due to the many doctors and nurses who have trained in Australia and take huge pride in their skills and qualifications.

Malaysia has always been an Islamic nation, but in those days it was low key and very tolerant. Alcohol was freely sold, much like here. I never felt any religious intrusion.

But how things change. Islam has now become much more prominent in Malaysia and I wouldn’t consider moving there now. What a pity. Maybe I’m misjudging; I admit I haven’t been there for all these years, relying on news reports.


My Honda MDX has not had much use this year, basically gathering dust and costing me money in the licence fee and batteries. But in the last few days I decided to give it a drive and as you expect from a Honda, it started first go. No coughing and spluttering, it just up and ran smoothly. Pumped the tyres up, backed it out and drove it around the block to ensure it kept going.

Then yesterday I put it through the car wash. When I was stopped, and the machine started, it was uncanny. I had my foot on the brake, but the movement of the carwash machine made it seem as if the car was moving forward. I jammed my foot harder on the brake as I was sure I was going to break out forward. Of course, it was just an illusion. Phew.

It costs me about $900 a year to keep it licenced, so why do I keep it if I hardly use it? I dunno but I just love that car. It drives so nicely, even around town, and feels so solid and roomy. I’d be confident on taking it on a long trip, even though it’s a 2006 model, 15 years old. Yet it’s a Honda and it has a 3.5L V6, twin overhead cam, fuel injected, four wheel disc brakes, on-demand 4WD, air-con, power everything including sunroof, and all leather. It feels GREAT. I love it and I don’t want to sell it.


I’d love to buy this. It’s a laser engraver, but it will cut thin materials including thin plywood. I’d love to use it to cut parts for model buildings for model railways. But 219 Euros means A$370 approx, expensive for something that would probably only get minimal use.

And how about this?

It’s an image sensor, about 20 million pixels but capable of frame rates of around 160 frames/sec. I just show it here to show the beauty of the layout. This is electronics, folks! Beautiful.

We’re all gettin’ old

Boarding the P&O Arcadia, Sydney 1977. I was 30.

Nice day, a little cool at 18deg but no wind so, “cool”. Sun’s come out after a cloudy morning.

Boy, I’m sleeping so well these days after my years of insomnia. It was all caused by medications. It took me years to realise this. I used to go entire nights lying there unable to “drop off the cliff” into real sleep. It reached the stage of anxiety about going to bed.

But Tramadol, the pain relief drug (for my foot pain) and duloxetine, and recently citalopram, all caused me insomnia. Now that I’ve stopped them all, I drop off in seconds after lights out.

Unfortunately I always wake at about 1.30 to 2.30am, after an hour or two of sleep for some reason. Bladder, probably. But now I can drop off again very easily.

Lots of dreams, not nightmares, but usually stressful situations, very complex and not easily remembered. However, I’d describe my sleep as “Good”.


Unfortunately, my mattress seems to have developed a ridge down the middle lately, such that I feel as if I’m on a slight downward slope on my side. I must admit, I’ve had this mattress and base for around 20 years now. I probably should replace it.

Which reminds me: I have a weight problem and I desperately need to lose weight. I like the idea of Lite’n’Easy meal delivery. I don’t have time to cook, can’t be bothered.

I like the idea of having prepared meals provided to me, and it would probably be as cheap or cheaper than my profligate supermarket weekly (plus plus) buys. I’ll make a confession – I like airline meals. Anything where someone else has cooked tasty and tempting food.

Anyway, back to the point – I’ve been thinking about Lite’n’Easy for a few years but always thought, “How would I fit all that stuff in my fridge and freezer?” It’s always chokka now. Which leads me to another point – I think there are things in the bottom of my bottom-mount freezer compartment that have been there since the last Ice Age. If there’s stuff on top, I don’t see the stuff at the bottom. I’ve changed my mind about bottom-mount freezers. Bad idea.

So, this is a roundabout way of saying, I’ve had an idea. I’ve had this fridge since I moved here, April 2013, and I’ve been thinking of changing it for some time. I want a French door fridge, this one probably:

I want the ability to open the smaller RH doors, given the fridge is on the left in my kitchen, and not having to bend down so much to reach the freezer, and having chilled water and ice always available. However, the cost of that water/ice gizmo in the door is very high, more than $500 for the privilege. It would be a much more sensible decision to simply keep bottles of water in the fridge. Not supermarket “spring/mineral” water!! We do NOT need that.

Get back to the point Pete! If I changed my fridge, I would completely clear my existing fridge so as to move it out onto the patio, and buy the new one. Then I could have the Lite’n’Easy delivered and fit it all in.

What would I do with my existing fridge? I’d try to sell it – it’s in perfect condition, clean, no scratches, no faults, no kids to damage it, quiet and cooool. I’d advertise it on F/B Marketplace. Funny, a woman put a notice up on NextDoor a couple of days ago asking if anyone had a fridge to sell, as she wanted one to put in the shed. But before I could react, someone in the neighbourhood offered her one, free. Good for her, but mine’s too good to give away.

Anyway, that’s the pipe dream, change my fridge and start the diet food deliveries at the same time. Hmmmm.


One thing about it is that I’m severely constrained by the width. I only have 840mm available and this one’s 835mm. Tight! Similarly, the height of this fridge is 1793mm and I only have 1800mm at the most due to a built-in shelf above. I might even have to take a saw to the shelf.

I’m not like one of my neighbours – when she bought a new stove (I think it was) a few years ago, she got the builder in and had remodelling done of her kitchen.


Which reminds me, she’s also having her shoulder “remodelled” on Monday. She had a fall yesterday, broke a couple of ribs and damaged her shoulder. Ouch.

I worry about myself as well in that regard. I’m not as steady on my feet as I was, and I sway a bit. Have I told you this before? The state government works with the health department at keeping we Seniors in our homes and out of hospitals. Obviously I’m in their records because earlier in the year I got a phone call from a young woman (heh heh, they’re all young to me now, aren’t they?) asking if I’d like a hand rail in my shower and toilet, and could she come out and assess me. That was nice, so she did and about two months later a guy came out and fitted a bar/hand rail in my shower, and another smaller one in my main en-suite toilet. Free! No charge.

Then a couple of months later she phoned again and asked how it was going. I said I wished I’d chosen another location for the shower one. No worries, we’ll come out and have a look again. So she visited again and a few weeks later the guy turned up and fitted another one for me. Again, no charge. Nice.

I still wonder if it’s in the right position, but I don’t think I can ask for a third one.

The point is, if I fall in the shower, these are naturally placed for my flailing hand to grab onto. I hope.

And yet, I was thinking the other day, if I fell in the shower and broke a hip or leg such that I couldn’t move, I’d be in trouble. My only hope would be that my bathroom window is open to call out to next door, Barbara. I would have to do that, and hope she was home, although at 8am when I’m in the shower, she probably would be. We’re a similar age.

The answer is, it’s time I got a distress alarm, the type you wear on a lanyard around your neck. I’ve looked at them before but they’re quite expensive. But if I have to, I’d better do it.


I’m still enjoying the Peugeot 407 Coupe, but I must admit there are several things that are annoying me. I feel that Peugeot must have taken a “she’ll be right” attitude when they made the RH drive version of this car.

  • For example, the driver’s door key lock works the opposite way – you turn the key clockwise to unlock, anticlockwise to lock. That’s the mirror image of a LH drive car, as if they just transferred it across and didn’t notice the inconsistency.
  • And there’s no key lock at all on the passenger side. I suppose if I had a key with a working remote lock/unlock, it wouldn’t matter, but my one and only key is broken in that regard.
  • Then the steering column key slot: there’s no ACC (accessory) position. It’s either OFF or ignition ON/START. When you stop and turn the engine off, you can’t have the radio on without turning the key to ignition-on. This is weird.
  • Then there’s the small and very poorly laid out LCD display for vehicle info and radio station display. I can never work out how to get the radio station I want. It’s there, but I have to take my eyes off the road and look at the display, and the buttons about 150mm below it. You can’t do it by feel. Not good.
  • In the Verada and the Honda, I have a good display of the fuel economy at all times and in the Verada I can easily switch between instantaneous and average. But in the Pug it seems to be instantaneous display only, meaning it changes very rapidly depending on the throttle. It’s very hard to know what your average is. Maybe there’s a way, but this is my point, I don’t know how to make it display the average. The interface design is very poor, in other words.
  • The characteristic of the Japanese cars I’ve owned (the Verada is Mitsubishi Japanese, even though made in Adelaide) is how smooth everything is, including inching along on minimum throttle. But the Pug is lumpy. It’s not smooth at low rpm. It vibrates and sometimes needs a kick to the accelerator (not really) to get it to move. Once the revs kick up, it’s good, but it just doesn’t have the velvety smoothness of Japanese cars.
  • The doors seem to have only two positions, open and SLAM. The door springs are very strong, in other words, much stronger than I’m used to in my Japanese cars.
  • The switches for the power windows are too far back. They don’t fall under your fingers when you reach for them. You have to reach further back and feel for the switch. Yes, it’s a coupe and the doors are longer than for a sedan, but they could have designed this better.
  • I’ve previously mentioned the wind buffeting. I still can’t find a combination of amount of opening or combination with passenger opening to stop the vibration and drumming at speed. It will need the aircon working when the weather warms up. Did I mention? The aircon doesn’t work. I knew that when I bought it and intend to get it fixed. Must do it.

And more, but my fingers are tired.

Changing season

MODIS satellite image of SW Western Australia on a fine day.

Aaaah, beautiful day, 22deg, cloudless blue sky, hint of Spring in the air. Nearly through the worst of Winter.


I was in the city last week, dressed as a woman as I usually am these days, walking on the footpath outside RPH. My hair is long enough now that I’ve stopped wearing a wig, opting instead for a small cap to cover my baldness. It’s like a skipper’s cap. Looks quite sassy.

A woman’s voice suddenly said, “Excuse me!” I looked around and saw a young woman sitting in the back seat of a parked car. She said it again, “Excuse me.” I said “Yes?” She said, “I love your cap. It’s so pretty.”

Wow! Wow! A guy never, ever gets a compliment like this. It’s happened to me several times, once at a hotel on New Year’s Eve, when I was wearing a shiny, sparkly top. A woman walked past and looked around, saying, “I like your top.” She must have known I was a guy. I pass easily, but women usually know.


I was in the city for my second interview with a psychiatrist, to sign me off for some minor surgery that I want, to make me feel more female. The psychiatrist’s a woman and she’s fine with me, no problems at all. We got along very well. She can see I’m not a looney. That’s two visits with her, plus a sign-off from a psychologist, and an endocrinologist, and I’m good to go. She’s referred me to a surgeon on 6 October. Minor operation, nothing drastic.

I never intended to change gender, I must say, it’s just to be able to dress freely and feel less like a bloke, without bulging bits that I don’t want. But I must admit a certain momentum is building, to change gender, I mean. I’m weighing up the pros and cons, and at the moment the cons are winning. I don’t want to have to go through all the legalities and notifications when I really don’t have to do anything at all. Just continue living and dressing as a woman, as I please, but reverting to guy mode if I don’t want to. So what if I have surgery, it doesn’t change my gender. It’s only to help with the way I dress and feel.

She did say that I really should dress female every day, in order to get used to it and experience any down-sides, so I’ll do that, live as a woman, live the experience. I’m finding that the more I do it, the more it becomes a habit, of course. Whenever I go out now, it’s as my female self, nearly always. I’ve never had any problems at all. I pass so well that no-one pays me any attention, even women. I had a guy in the supermarket say to the checkout guy, “Just let this lady go first.” Meaning me.

However, my GP told me only yesterday, eight months after I started this process, that Medicare won’t pay for sex change operations after age 55. That’s a bugger, as I was hoping to save money.

Therefore, I’ll need to find out what this surgeon will charge, and whether HBF will pay for my hospital stay, since this is definitely elective surgery, optional treatment.

PS: I’ve spoken to HBF and they say if the surgeon provides a Medicare item number for the operation, then HBF will probably cover me. So I’ll know more after the appt with the surgeon in October.


You must be thinking, this guy is mad! Go ahead, that’s OK. But I’ve always felt I’m half way there, half way across the seat. I’ve always known I’m male, but, approaching age 75, what the hell, I’ll just do what I want to do. Whatever makes you happy, as everyone says, and that’s the point, it does make me happy. I love getting dressed up and made up, so it’s my life and I’ll change if I want to. (Isn’t there a song about that?)


Whenever I have thoughts about this blog, things come to mind that I think, “Oh yeah, I must write about that.” But now that I’m writing, I’m damned if I can think of what they were. They seemed important at the time …

Oh, I know: I terminated my subscription to the MyHeritage website a few weeks ago, as they want about $360 for another year’s subscription. No, all I wanted was the photo enhancement service and I’ve done that so I’m not paying this huge fee. I got sucked into building my family tree while I was there, but that’s done too, so I downloaded everything I could think of before my sub expired.

I learnt quite a lot, especially about Mum’s mother’s side, the Lawries. I’ve learnt that I have quite an extensive Scottish ancestry, which I like very much. The Lawries go back to the 1700s. I was vaguely aware of these Lawrie people and all the chatter about them among my relatives when I was growing up in Bruce Rock in the 1950s, but I didn’t really know who they were. Now I do.

Similarly, I can see Grandpa Arnold’s ancestors too, from the middle of England. He died before I was born so I never knew him, yet I’ve got a photo of him on my sideboard now.

George Arnold and Janet Stevenson Arnold (nee Lawrie), my maternal grandparents.

I’m sure he’d be pleased. I very much doubt anyone will have a photo of me on their shelf when I’m gone, unfortunately.


Recently, my competitive nature is asserting itself a bit (meaning that I see others’ pictures and think, I can do better than that), and I’ve been posting a lot of my images on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/peter.croft.754 My uploads started a few weeks ago, not just today’s lot, and even I’ve been surprised at how much material I’ve got. I’ve nowhere near finished yet. I’ve got much, much more to show.

In particular, I’ve uploaded samples of most of the books I’ve written and composed in the past 13 years, and in every case, I’ve included the words, “A4 40pp, available for purchase” (or similar). How many enquiries have I received? ZERO! Not one person has asked about cost, or anything else.

People have always said to me, “Gee, you ought to sell these books.” But I’ve tried, and no-one wants to buy. No-one! Maybe one day after I’m dead, someone might look at them, but no-one wants to now.

One person seemed to like my book on Bali very much, and asked if she could borrow it. She said she might be able to sell it to her friends. She kept it for nearly two years, with no sales, and I had to ask three times for its return, even suggesting I would call around to her place. She eventually posted it back to me from about 5Km away at a cost to her of $15 postage. Something very odd there, but as I said, I just can’t get any buyers.


It’s my own fault, too much sitting, but over the past 12 months or more I’ve developed pain in my left buttock, going down my leg and into my left foot, from applying too much pressure on my bum. It’s not a sharp pain, just a dull ache, but it has me squirming around trying to find a position to minimise it. Not much luck, I’m afraid.

I bought one of these Facebook ad specials, a neoprene rubber cushion that promised to relieve exactly this kind of pain. Did it work. Naah! Hardly makes any difference. $54 down the drain.

Only two more weeks to Spring

New York apartments. No matter how good the views, I wouldn’t want to live like that.

Aaaah, turned out nice again. Rained a bit last night and this morning, but blue sky now at 2pm.


I mentioned the suspected kidney stone. Gee, I’m much more relaxed about these things now. Forty years ago, I was so nervous about these sorts of things. Maybe I’ve forgotten the pain. I had a major kidney stone in 1982, the 11/10 pain where you don’t think you can stand it any more, where you’re bending the bed frame with the agony. It made me scared to be isolated in the bush or away from help for some years afterwards. Of course, there were no mobile phones then. It’s a bit different now.

I was too naiive to call an ambulance in those days. Ambulances are only for really sick people, right? Like a fool I got in my car and drove myself to the nearest hospital (Osborne Park), which wasn’t an emergency hospital. I staggered in to reception, crying with the pain, and asked to see a doctor. Luckily they took me in and gave me a bed. After a lot of questioning, with me writhing around, gasping and groaning, they gave me a shot of pain relief. It was Pethidine, the predecessor to Fentanyl, quite addictive. It hardly made any difference, but after a couple of hours, the pain very slowly went away.

They got me to drink a lot of water and pee into a bottle, and then they filtered it, looking for a stone. They never found one, which led to the treating doctor (actually, I can’t recall ever seeing her face) telling my GP afterwards that she thought I was a drug addict looking for a fix. Hah! You’d need to be a pretty good actor to put that on. But I was left in terrible fear of kidney stones and that awful pain for years afterwards.


Speaking of ambulances, when I slipped out of bed onto the floor on a Saturday morning in 2017, and was too weak from an unsuspected infection to get myself up, I had to call an ambulance then. I tried to get up for more than an hour, crawling around on the carpeted floor until I had carpet burns. I managed to reach my phone at last and call a friend who called the ambulance, and the police to break into the house.

The ambos, a young man and woman, used a device to get me up into a sitting position, from where I was able to stand up.

I remember saying, like a typical bloke, “I’m fine, I’m fine”, when I really wasn’t. I’d been having “rigors”, extreme shaking and shivering, for a few weeks and I didn’t know how sick I was. When I wasn’t shivering, I felt OK but the rigors are a sign of something seriously wrong.

My point is, the ambos just took my word that I was fine and OK, so after getting me up, they left. They didn’t check any further. This was a Saturday morning and I had a couple of people with me for a while, but boy, I felt tired and weak. However, I continued to say I was OK and they left.

Long story, but on the Monday morning, after nearly collapsing with weakness and battling to stay awake, I drove myself to see the GP. He called an ambulance to the surgery and wrote ?sepsis on the form.

At Joondalup Hospital, they found the infected kidney stone lodged in my right ureter and scheduled an operation for the next day. But there was no pain! How lucky. But weakness! – so weak I couldn’t stand up.

My point is, those ambos should have questioned me further on the Saturday. I should have been taken to hospital then, not two days later.


Harvesting pink lotus flowers in Bangladesh. Ain’t that beautiful?
Photograph: Mustasinur Rahman Alvi/Medialys/Rex/Shutterstock

This all comes to mind because I’ve become a bit addicted to ambulance and hospital ED programs on the commercial TV channels lately. I admit, I like watching expert people in emergency situations, and I like hearing all the medical talk and seeing the procedures. Call me a junkie, but there you are. It will wear off.


It’s coincidence time again (or maybe not).

I watched a TV show on the ABC on Sunday night where the program, set in a university in Glasgow, mentioned a MOOC. This is a term, Massive Open Online Course, for doing uni subjects online, as it suggests. Stupid acronym, but … I haven’t heard that term used in years.

So what should crop up in an interview with the VC of Edith Cowan Uni on Monday night’s news than a mention of MOOCs. Maybe he watched the same show on Sunday evening?


I’m going to have to call an electrician. Four out of six recessed downlight lamps in my kitchen have failed. I used to be able to get up the stepladder reasonably OK, but this time three of the lamps are offset, over the sink and bench, meaning I’d have to lean over while reaching up. Too hard, too dangerous.

Similarly, two of the five mini downlights over the bathroom bench have been blown for some time and again, I’d have to stand half on the ladder, half on the bench to replace those. They are mini bi-pin globes, incandescents, and I’ve got a set of LED replacements. I’ll get him to replace them all at the same time. Same in the kitchen – I’ll ask him to replace all five lamps, even though two are still working, because they’ll blow soon anyway.

I say “him”, the electrician, but it will probably be “her”. I’ve been given the name of an electrician who does work for my friends Keith and Barry, and it’s a lady. Which is good.

To justify getting her out here, I’ll get her to try to mount a dual touch-pad light switch into the wall in my main bedroom. The bed has a row of mini-downlights over the head end of the bed, but the switch is on the opposite wall. Great design. If you want these lights on to read in bed, you have to get out of bed to switch on, then when you’re finished reading, tired and sleepy, you have to get out of bed again to switch off.

So a few years ago I bought an IR remote controlled switch plate, from China of course, with touch pads and a key-fob remote. Trouble is, it’s hard to fit into the wall. I’ll get her to try to fit it properly.

Dodged another one?

The pins of a CPU. All the data and control functions of a computer chip are brought out from the microscopic chip by tiny gold wires to each gold plated pin. When you read that a computer is “64-bit”, it means that the data and address buses use 64 wires, to 64 pins. There are many more wires and pins as well, up to 500. Getting all this to work is a marvel of engineering technology.
Those brown things in the middle are surface mount resistors and capacitors which are too big to integrate into the silicon die, which is not visible here but is a slice of silicon about 4mm square underneath all that stuff on top.


Aaah, another glorious, clear blue sky day, 21deg, and 24deg forecast tomorrow.

As I get older I’m noticing the way the seasons change much more, and time seems to be speeding up. At the moment, sunrise is now before 7am and sunset was 10 to 6 last night.

It’s absolutely true, your sense of time shortens as you age. I remember primary school holidays at Christmas – seven weeks holidays! Wow, it seemed endless.

Now, my cleaning lady and I both remark that it seems impossible that a week has passed since her last visit. Is it a biological process, that our brain registers time differently as we age?


Zeeeoowww. Hear that? That was the bullet I think I dodged yesterday. Yes, a kidney stone. Luckily, almost no pain except twinges in my side on Friday and a bit of lower abdo pain last night, but lots of blood in the water last evening. I drank two full glasses of water before bed and things looked clear during the night and in the morning.

I don’t know why this would have happened. I’m drinking lots of water and other fluids and I can’t see how I would have become dehydrated. Maybe it was a different kind of stone? Anyway, let’s hope it continues this way – I seem to develop stones but they pass without pain.


I found this in my handbag last week. It’s not mine, it’s a young woman’s handwriting, but I have no idea how it got there. I don’t recall picking it up, and why would anyone place it in my bag?

I can read all the words except the last one – Shakedeos? Never heard of them.


Word of the week: have you noticed in all the talk about fishing this week, the references to demersal fish? I’d long heard of pelagic fish, but this was a new one on me.

Simple, demersal means bottom dwelling, below about 200m ocean depth.

Pelagic means ocean fish, as distinct from riverine or estuarine fishes, and epipelagic means upper level fish, from about 200m depth up to the surface.

So now you know.


I’ve just finished reading another epic World War 3 set of novels, by a different author, Jeff Watson. He’s a retired US Navy helicopter pilot and boy, it shows. His descriptions of flying off ships, sub hunting, ocean search and rescues and life on board ships was fantastic.

Of course, China is the antagonist in this series of six books, each of about 400 pages, so there’s plenty of time to develop his story. And what a story. Russia gets involved, but reluctantly, partly because they don’t much like or trust the Chinese, and also out of fear that they could spark an all out nuclear conflict, which they know would devastate their country.

This author really knows how to write. It’s not literature, but it’s a great story, full of strategy and tactics, twists and turns, deceptions and surprises. I was hooked for about six weeks, looking forward to bed time to continue reading. He’s written other books, which I’m browsing through now to choose the next one.


Earlier this year I was fairly sure that international travel would be able to resume next year, 2022, once the COVID virus was subdued and vaccinations had worked. But the Delta variant has knocked that for six. I don’t have any confidence of being able to leave this state next year any more.

This is sparked by an ad I saw yesterday for a cruise from Singapore to Perth next year on the QE2. It calls at Jakarta, then Bali, before carrying on to Perth. I might be a bit interested. But even though I’m vaccinated, there’s no way I’d go to Indonesia at the moment and I very much doubt they’ll have things safe by next year. Java and Bali are among the raging hot spots in the world at the moment.

I’ve also noticed another attractive cruise departing March next year from Singapore, going up the west coast of Malaysia to Penang and Phuket, then coming down via Bali to Perth. I would love to do that, but Malaysia is also a raging virus hot spot and again, I very much doubt it will all be clear next year. I see things being still bad outside WA into 2023 now.

For my overseas readers, the Delta variant is “raging” on the east coast of Australia, mainly in New South Wales now, with Victoria following. Western Australia is one of the few places on the planet where there is no virus, but we’re being kept that way by tightly closed borders. No-one comes in or goes out without strict protocols and quarantines, and that doesn’t allow for holiday travel. Looks like international trips are out for some time to come. Oh well, more money for cars.

New developments

Hi again, on a grey and cool, calm day. I have washing that needs hanging out and although it rained this morning, I think I might get away with it now (2pm). Boring job! I always had in my mind to invent an automatic washing hanger-upper, but I couldn’t think of a way to do it.

I’ve long had an idea for another invention: a fast cooler. Just as we have a fast food heater in the microwave oven, I want the inverse, a box that cools food in seconds. I reckon it would sell like er, hotcakes, or maybe iceblocks.

There’s a bit of physics required. A microwave oven works by using electromagnetic waves to excite the water molecules in food.

We cool food by a freezer which chills air passing over a tube filled with refrigerant gas which has been rapidly expanded by applying mechanical energy. This works well, but it takes time to chill or freeze food. I’d like a way to do it faster. It might need to use another principle, but I haven’t worked it out.


I mentioned that the tyre pressure warning came on in the Pug recently, yet it didn’t feel any different, no flat tyre feeling or handling difference.

I got around to checking and pumping a few days ago and found that only one of the tyres measured as down in pressure, the left front. I’ve got my tyre pump set to Bars, where 2.2Bar is 32psi (yes, even after all these years of metric system, I haven’t been able to get my head around Bar vs psi). Anyway, it was only this one tyre and it only measured 2.1Bar vs 2.2. The pump raised the pressure and automatically stopped itself, and the warning has gone away.

This is good. It shows that the pressure sensors are quite sensitive, and yet a warning is not something to be frightened by. Unless you can feel the pressure drop, as we usually do, then you can probably keep driving for a short while.

While I had the pump out, I was going to check the spare as well. But it’s in the boot, “upside down”, with a big foam block in the middle holding the jack and tool kit. That means you can’t reach the tyre valve without taking it all out. Too hard. Maybe on a warm day when I’ve got more energy.

I’m enjoying this car so much that I “take the long way home”, that is, when I leave the Butler shops I go down to Marmion Ave, then go at the 80Km/h limit to the Kingsbridge Bvd shops, then instead of turning left to go to my house, I continue on to Connolly Drive, back up to the Butler shops again, back via Marmion Ave and finally home. A double loop. I’m using the clutchless manual more now, and realising that even if I have it in manual mode in 3rd or 4th, it automatically drops down to 2nd when I slow for a corner or traffic lights, allowing me to choose when to shift up again. It’s a 6 speed, and I’m finding that 3rd is a very flexible gear for around town. This is a big 6 cylinder, torquey diesel with twin turbos, remember, so when I accelerate away in 3rd, it responds beautifully. Sheer pleasure. I drive it for the fun of it.


I’ve just read that the James Webb Telescope is finally, finally, set for launch, on 21 October.

This is the replacement for the Hubble Space Telescope after around 25 years’ service. The Webb telescope has been in the design and build phase for nearly as long, experiencing delay after delay, budget cut after budget cut. It’s been like fusion power, always 20 years in the future. See more here.

Hubble had a major failure last month and has been brought back to life, but at the expense of a redundant power source, meaning if it fails in this way again, that’s it.

The Webb telescope replacement is a huge improvement incorporating all the latest technology and should surpass the Hubble in all respects, which means we should see spectacular views. If Hubble images were awe inspiring, the Webb images should knock our socks off. I can’t wait.

Unfortunately, even after the launch, it will take about four days to reach its orbital point and another four weeks to unfold itself. Then there’ll be weeks of testing and calibration, no doubt. It’ll be worth it. The sheer terror mentioned in the article is the nervousness about a launch failure, or a failure in space, or a mechanical failure to unfold, or a myriad of other problems. It will be at the Langrange 1 point, meaning there’s no chance of an astronaut mission to fix it.


I think I’m about to buy a digital telecine chain. As someone who used to operate telecine chains at Channel 7 many years ago, I never thought I would say that.

Facebook occasionally justifies itself for me. This device is advertised. It’s a jerk motion (non-real time) film scanner for 8mm or Super 8mm. It’s cheap Chinese, A$79, but at that price I’m prepared to take a risk.

It’s not a projector. It transports the film one frame at a time and positions the frame over a digital sensor, like a tiny digital camera. The frame is snapped and stored digitally and the film is moved on to the next frame. The stored frames are on an SD card and software plays all the frames in sequence as an mp4 video file.

I have three 7″ reels (better check that diameter as it’s the maximum) that I shot in the 1970s, and I haven’t seen them since then (nearly 50 years!) Lucky it’s Kodachrome, meaning it will not have deteriorated. I’ve been meaning to get them transferred to DVD or BluRay but it’s expensive, in the hundreds of $$$ per reel last time I checked. It says it will do 1080p, which is BluRay quality, but how good it is optically remains to be seen.

I haven’t ordered it yet, but I think I will.

P.S.: I have now. I’m awaiting delivery.


Part of my family tree.
Janet Stevenson Lawrie, above. Count the generations L-R, six shown here.

My one year subscription to MyHeritage.com expires on Wednesday and I’m about to cancel the automatic renewal. A year ago I paid $235 for a year so that I could use their enhancement and colourisation software to rejuvenate all my old black and white images. When I say “my”, I mean some of mine but mainly Dad’s and Uncle Darcey’s.

I finished all the images within a few months (one at a time, very tedious), then kinda got sucked in to the family tree side of it. After a year, the tree has grown remarkably and I have seven or eight generations going back to the 1700s.

One thing it’s shown me is the Lawrie side, my maternal grandmother’s ancestry. Her maiden name was Lawrie and her parents were from Scotland, arriving in South Australia in the late 1800s. I was dimly aware of a Lawrie branch of relatives in Bruce Rock in the 1950s, but I never got to know them or understand the relationship. Now I do.

The tree is enormous and I’ve downloaded as many versions of it as I can. One version is a wall chart about 2m wide by 1m high. Another is a pdf book which comes to 148 pages. Of course, every time the tree is updated, you have to output fresh versions of these charts and books. That’s what I need to do now, before I finish the subscription.

Why am I finishing? Cost, what else? Renewal is US$368! That’s too much for me. I’m sure I’ll get a phone call pleading with me to stay and offering a better price, but I think I’ve done all I need to do.