Home again

Back home again after my second overnight stay in hospital. The skin cancer surgeon wanted a second go at the site on my right temple, same as before. He felt he needed to get more samples of tissue out for biopsy, to check if the cancer has spread. I won’t know the results for a week. Fingers crossed.

He was running very late on Thursday. My op was scheduled for about 3.15pm but I didn’t go in until about 6.30pm. Then I missed all the fun, as they put me to sleep this time. I awoke to some fairly painful tidying up around 7.30pm. I have a photo, but it’s too gory to show. I bled a lot more this time, but it’s stopped now.

As I said, I seem to be having medical incidents (I was going to say problems, but they’re not big problems), one after another these days. Getting older, I’m afraid.

Once again my good mate Keith drove me to the hospital on Thursday and picked me up yesterday. Good friend.

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I was/am a bit annoyed that I got a bill from the anaesthetist wanting to be paid the full amount, $600, before the operation. I had no option but to pay in advance. It means I have to claim it from HBF myself, which shouldn’t be a problem, but I’m not happy about having to pay up front before the service is performed.

By the way, in today’s paper, HBF say they are going to return $41m surplus to customers like me due to reduced demand last year, due to fewer operations being performed due to COVID. That’s great. I don’t know how much we’ll be refunded, they say they’ll let us know in the next couple of months, but I’m pleased.

HBF, RAC, P&N Bank – three WA companies that I use, and I am highly pleased with their services.

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I mentioned that I finished the six book series about a third world war, after Russia invades Ukraine. That’s near 3,000 pages. The author is James Rosone with Miranda Watson (I’m not sure what role she plays). This guy is a prolific writer! I’m onto his next sequence of books, about another world war 3 scenario. This one is a bit strange – not the story line, which is quite plausible, but it’s written as if to be history, written after the event.

It’s very jingoistic, being written from the American point of view, where the Muslim world are the baddies, teaming up with China and Russia. America has a new political party, an alternative to the Democrats and Republicans, with a strong leader who knows how to put things right. It makes me roll my eyes so much I might have to send them on holidays to relax the muscles.

When I’ve finished this, there’s another series of books on the second American Civil War – that is, in the near future, post Trump. As I said, he’s a prolific wordsmith.

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Dang, I’ve inflicted the first bump mark on Evie’s derriere. For some reason I find it harder to reverse into my garage in the Peugeot than I did with the Verada. I don’t know why – it’s a slightly shorter car (the Pug, I mean) and I slightly bumped the pillar just now. I guess now will be the time to test whether a car “lotion”/polish I bought off the web will do what they say. It polishes marks out by magic on the web. Hah! We shall see.

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This will get me kicks in the shins, but I can’t help noticing how nearly all the troublemakers in vaccine doubters, quarantine breakers, border closure illegal crossers, arguers, abusers of police and so on, are …….. women! It’s rare to see a bloke reported or chased. It’s all the mouthy women, especially the young ones.

The brazen border crossers who drove from locked-down Victoria, through NSW to the Sunshine coast in Qld – it was a married couple, but it was the woman who was driving and has been arrested. No masks, no quarantining. They reckoned they had to be in Qld for the husband to take up a job, but how about endangering two whole states in the process? Amazing.

New development

Not sure where I found this on the web, but it’s very good, I think.

Brrr, it sure has switched to winter, suddenly. For readers in colder climes, a maximum temp of 20deg probably sounds like summer, but for us, it’s getting to be sweater weather. And 7deg minimums, brrrr. My Viennese friend says our winter and their summer are about equal temps at the moment. In other words, although it’s summer in Vienna, it’s still bloody cool by my reckoning, and hers too, I think.

Of course, 21 June will be mid-winter here and mid-summer there.

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I had the stitches removed from my former skin cancer site yesterday and it’s all healed quite nicely, except for a few black spots.

Before, stitches in
After, stitches out, 1 June 2021

Doesn’t look much different, does it? “Lord, I am afflicted by a bald patch.” Oh dear.

Anyway, that’s not the point — the surgeon came in after the nurse had taken the stitches out, and after humming and hah-ing, he said, although the report says there’s no spread of the cancer, he’s not sure that he got it all out. Therefore he said he would like to lift the skin graft and have another look. Or, I could have radiation.

At first, I said radiation sounds like a cleaner, less painful idea, but I asked him what he thought. He wants to do the surgery (being a surgeon, I suppose he would). Therefore I’m booked in for 10 June for a second go. I’m OK with it, except that I have to go through the stitches and bleeding all over again.

At the same time, I showed him how that side of my eye has drooped. He agrees, and says he’ll do a small lift to correct my “brow-ptosis”, ptosis meaning droop. I think I’d better have it done because my right eyelid doesn’t fully open and my eye is watery. It’s harder to read, with unbalanced eyesight.

I also asked for a full check of my scalp. My GP says “Oh, they’re just keratoses, nothing to worry about”, but my former GP dismissed the temple thing as “Just a cyst” and so I didn’t take it seriously. I want a full check of my scalp.

So it goes on, medical appointment after appointment. Dum de dum.

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Glass swimming pool, London

Pretty amazing, in my opinion. It’s a glass swimming pool between two halves of an apartment building in London. It’s 35m above the ground. With the weight of that water, it shows how strong glass is. It’s fascinating to look at, but I reckon if I were swimming in it, being able to see through the water to the ground would give me acrophobia and vertigo.

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To be continued……..

Blood moon? Bloody moon!

6.05pm

Fizzog. This was the so called Super Blood Moon this evening. There was too much hazy cloud. I got home a bit too late to go down to Lake Joondalup as I did for the last Blood Moon two years ago, but it’s lucky I didn’t go because, photographically, it wasn’t worth it.

6.07pm
6.09pm

But, you’d think that, being so experienced, I would have done better and checked my equipment beforehand, wooden ya? Nah, she’ll be right, Noreen. When I went to use the Nikon P950 with the 2000mm lens, it was dead. Flat battery. Duh! So these are old faithfull, the Nikon FZ70 with the 1200mm zoom. It did the job, these being nearly full frame shots.

But the whole thing was a fizzer. Next time, eh?

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I had to make a trip to Morley today to see a lawyer about my mortgage and took the Peugeot, of course. Nice drive, nearly an hour! But I’m finding a few not so good things now.

  • Wind buffeting with the window down. It doesn’t seem to matter how much the window is open or closed, it sets up a buffeting, bad enough to hurt my left eardrum. Open the passenger side a bit? It helps, but not completely. I haven’t found the right combination yet.
  • I had to drive home with my seatbelt only draped across my body. I fought for more than five minutes, trying to get the tongue into the receptacle, but I had to give up. I just could not get it into the slot and latched.
    Luckily, the AliExpress web site offers a “seat belt extender”, which is steel duplication of the belt prong that clips into the floor receptacle and gives a couple of inches extra. It’s probably meant for fat people (who me? Noooo!), but it will lift the slot up from the tight space between the seat and the console. It should be here soon.
  • I hadn’t tried the CD player since I bought the car, and you guessed it, it won’t accept a CD in the slot. There may be a disc jammed in there.
    Anyway, that makes my mind up to buy the Chinese made drop-in replacement that I’ve found on YouTube. Installation is dead easy – no adapters needed, and you get a big LCD touch-screen which gives GPS navigation, AM/FM radio, with DAB+ available with a $75 add on adapter, CD/DVD/MP3, plus all the car controls, including aircon. It’s pricey at $550, but ….

    More tomorrow. Dinner time.

Snow. SNOW!!!??

Me in Austria 1974. Not Bluff Knoll. © PJ Croft 2021

This is crazy. We had snow on Bluff Knoll, the highest point in the SW of WA on Sunday night. It’s not even winter yet and we had 27deg as a maximum only a week ago, yet here in May, snowfall. Wow. Summer has given way to winter in only a week. Buckets of rain on Sunday and during that night, howling wind, lashings of it. The maximum temp was only 14.7deg yesterday and I had to run the heating. Yet now it’s a clear, cloudless blue sky. Oh well, I get my wish: changeable, interesting weather.

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Did you know? There’s a blood supermoon due tomorrow evening at 5.44pm in WA. It means the moon will rise when it’s at closest approach to Earth, hence the ‘super’ part, and will rise in a partial eclipse, meaning we will see its light through the dust surrounding the Earth, causing a red colour, hence the ‘blood’ moon.

This is another full moon, 14/11/16 © PJ Croft 2021

Having bought a big, solid tripod a few months ago, and having my Nikon P950 with its 2,000mm zoom, I should get out there and get some shots. I did this a couple of years ago, in January 2019, the last time this happened, and I kinda stuffed it up, arriving at my chosen location just as the moon was rising. By the time I got my lightweight travel tripod set up on a wobbly jetty, it was practically all over. Here’s my chance to try again.

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I’m being driven mad by scam phone calls. I had eight yesterday and I’ve had four so far today, at 1.30pm. Most I don’t bother to answer on my landline phone, but they’ve got my mobile number too and it doesn’t necessarily show the area code, so I’m not sure if it’s a genuine call. “Hello, this is Amazon calling. Regarding your recent purchase of a set of encyclopedias at $499, we have charged your account. Please press 1 if you do not want to proceed”, or rubbish like that in a synthesised mechanical voice.

Most of them are coming from Melbourne ( 03 prefix ) and if I don’t answer the first one, I get a second one five minutes later. This morning I didn’t answer that either, so five minutes later, they rang my mobile!

There was a lull for a couple of months recently, and I read that Telstra are using an AI program to weed them out, but they’re back with a vengeance lately. Damn, a bunch of criminals in India are effectively making our whole phone system untrustworthy.

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Double damn. My lovely multi-size-capsule coffee machine has gone wrong and I don’t know what the cause is.

It’s the usual ‘place your capsule in the holder and bring down the lever to punch a small hole and force the hot water through with a pump’ machine. But a couple of weeks ago, I found that bringing the lever down, it wouldn’t go all the way and the lever sprang back up a bit. Then, when you pressed Start, the pressure would build up and the lever would be forced up, with water spraying out. Trying to hold the lever down was near impossible, the pressure was so high. Hot steam was forced out and you risked burnt arms.

Obviously, the flow of water is being blocked and the pump keeps pumping, resulting in the blow out. Why is the water being blocked? OK, I thought, maybe it’s blocked by scale, since I hadn’t de-scaled it since I bought it. So last week I thoroughly de-scaled it. With no capsule in place, the water flowed through and was a bit brown and cloudy at first. I put about five passes of water through, each time with a new lot of de-scaling liquid and the water ran clear by the end. That’ll fix it, I thought.

Ho ho ho, I laugh at your puny efforts, said the coffee machine. No difference when I put the capsule in.

So I’m stumped at the moment. I hate having to dismantle these things as I always end up with a screw left over or an O-ring missing, or something. What is it with coffee machines? This is the fifth machine I’ve had fail or go wrong in the past five years or so. This one only cost $75 and ordinarily, I might go out and buy a new replacement, but this one is special – it takes four different capsule brands and sizes, Nespresso, Lavazza, Expressi and Vittoria. I bought it on eBay. I’ll see if I can find it again.

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Meanwhile, I’ve had to go back to ‘normal’ coffee and I’ve found that Nescafe tubes of pre-mixed latte with no sugar are available, and it’s not bad. I like it. Now I’ve found that their double shot coffee is pretty good, too. These will do me while I figure out what to do about the capsule machine.

Comin’ along

The Aussie Alps? Central Australia. The Guardian, May 2021

Phwooaaar, another beautiful 24deg “winter” day; cloudless blue sky, no wind. It’s only 10 days to winter but it’s still T-shirt weather.

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Speaking of which:

Angle of sunrise and sunset at 21 March each year, the equinox.
Angle of sunrise and sunset at 21 June each year, the winter solstice.
Angle of sunrise and sunset at 21 Dec each year, the summer solstice.

This is a web calculator where you can input your own location, or any other location on the planet, and see these results. I find it very interesting, especially the colour of the light at various times.

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It’s day 9 since my skin cancer operation and it’s coming along OK.

At 20/5/21

My GP says this is “healing well”. It started to bleed on the evening of day two and was pretty messy and painful for 24hrs, then it stopped and has been OK since. Although it looks bad, it’s not painful. The wound where they took the skin graft, on my chest near my right armpit, is a bit more sore, but tolerable.

However, I’ve noticed that he seems to have cut the facial nerve or muscle such that I have a drooping eye and eyebrow, now. I can’t raise this eyebrow any more. When I point it out to people, they say, “Oh, yeah, I didn’t notice it until you pointed it out.” It’s OK. I’m not vain at my age.

I’m awaiting a call from the surgeon to have a review and the stitches removed, after about a month, I think.

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I mentioned that I was reading the Kindle versions of a series of six books about a hypothetical World War 3. Well, wow, EPIC! I’ve finished them all, each about 500 pages, so that is one massive book in total. The sequence is: Ukraine; Korea; The Pacific; Taiwan; Russia; and China.

The writing is not high literature, in fact it’s almost comic at times – “Ratatat ratatat blam, bang, BOOM!” Seriously, that’s the way he writes. It certainly does convey the pace of war, though, and the sheer hard slog and terror of the soldiers in the trenches and bunkers.

We Aussies get plenty of mentions, attacking and taking Jakarta when Indonesia joins forces with China. Unfortunately, the Indos don’t have the equipment or the training and are ineffectual as fighters. Then Aussie and NZ troops are used to take on India, both in the north of China and then on their home soil. India also fights with Russia in Europe but Allied airpower puts them out.

As you can imagine, more than 3,000 pages allows for tremendous breadth of storyline, including detailed strategy and tactics. Despite the, at times, pedestrian writing, it held my attention, especially as it became more technical in describing the use of drones for wide area internet after China knocks out all the world’s satellites. The authors write convincingly of the way the US overcomes this slight roadblock.

I’m impressed enough that I’ve gone on to the next two books called The Monroe Doctrine vol. 1 & 2. They only cost $5.99 as Kindle downloads. Very useful.

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Hmmm, I’m struggling with fatigue and lack of energy these days. Also muscle weakness. I can hardly stand up sometimes. I’m having to nap for about 2hrs a day. I’ve made an appointment to see the haematologist re the CLL. I don’t think there’s anything that can be done, but, what would I know.

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I think I’ve mentioned before that for the past 15 – 18 months, my reticulation controller box on the side of my house has been home to a nest of wasps. There’s a hole on the swing-out cover and they got in and built a nice mud nest.

As long as I was careful and slow moving, they didn’t mind me opening the cover but I didn’t like it much and wanted them gone. I especially didn’t like the mess they made all over the control panel with their yellow poo. I thought of schemes to make them leave, but didn’t actually do anything.

Anyway, this morning I thought I’d better switch the reticulation off for the winter sprinkler bans, so I slowly opened the door to the controller. I heard a bit of a rattle as I did so and as I swung the door open, the nest detached itself and fell down onto the ground at my feet. The wasps all came swarming out and I thought, “Oh, shit!” But I stayed still and although they were flying around me, they took no offence and the swarm dissipated. I slowly reached out and switched the controller off, then slowly closed the door again on what seemed to be the sentry wasp, sitting there and not swayed.

So I moved slowly away and I hope they will decide to find a new home somewhere else. I’ll check again later to see if they’re gone.

All done

Swan River, East Perth, June 1988 © PJ Croft 2021

Phew, thank goodness that’s all over. Yes, I had my skin cancer “excised” on Tuesday. Here it is – I’m showing only a reduced size photo as it’s a bit gruesome.

Skin cancer excision, 11 May 2021
Graft site

I was supposed to have a general anaesthetic, but the anaesthetist wasn’t sure of intubating me so they decided to do it under local anaesthetic. It was fine, I hardly felt a thing. Because they used Midazolam, my memory of it all is a bit hazy. I just remember a lot of pushing and wiping, and me being very chatty during it all. I probably talked excessively but they didn’t tell me to shut up.

I had assumed they’d take the graft skin from my backside, but without asking or telling me, they took it from my right front of shoulder. Pity, the scar will be pretty visible there I assume, but at my age, do I care? Not much.

There was no bleeding and they left the head wound uncovered, but it started bleeding the next night and got a bit messy. It looks a bit ugly now, but the bleeding’s stopped.

The other thing was that they walked me to the theatre and got me to swing up onto the table. First time that’s happened. They slid me back onto a bed at the end, though, and then I nattered away to a nurse in the recovery room for at least half an hour. I seem to be talking a lot more as I get older – becoming garrulous, like a few people I could name. Must watch that.

Surprisingly, there was virtually no pain. They’ve given me a prescription for strong pain relief but I haven’t needed anything yet, not even paracetamol.

He’ll remove the stitches in about a month, I believe. It’s a pity my GPs didn’t push harder for me to get this seen to a year ago, when it was much smaller. And that I didn’t speak up enough. And that it took three months from the time I first phoned the surgeon for an appointment to having the surgery. It grew during that time and started to hurt much more. They haven’t said anything about malignancy, but that’s what I’m worried about.

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Then I had another appointment at RPH in the city yesterday. It meant I had to get up at 6am to catch the train at 7.55am, then the CAT bus to Goderich St.

I planned my trip on the Transperth web site and saw at first that the Red Cat went straight past my destination. Then I saw a notice that it had been temporarily discontinued and to take the Yellow Cat. OK, I did that.

But that bus took me on a scenic tour of East Perth, down Wellington St, not along Goderich St. Gaaah! I had to ask the driver and he said OK, get off here, corner of Wellington and Lord St, and walk up to Goderich St.

Pheee-ew! It’s uphill and I was buggered when I reached the hospital. I was 15 mins late, but the doctor was also late, so it didn’t matter.

Then, when I left, what to do? Then I realised that the Red Cat bus does go past the door, so I caught it back to Perth station. So why did the web site tell me it wasn’t running? Grrrr.

The other point about my trip was that I’d completely forgotten about wearing a mask on public transport, so didn’t have mine with me. I covered my mouth with a thick restaurant napkin I had in my bag, but there was a ticket inspector and he noticed me. He said it’s OK, then 5 mins later came back and gave me a proper mask, free of charge. That was good of him.

I have to say, there was 100% mask compliance on the train and buses (apart from me, initially). I only saw one other woman with no mask, but it was only briefly before she got off. It shows how different we are to the USA and UK. We obey the rules, and that’s why we’re almost free of the virus compared to those disastrous, rule defying countries. Fools.

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Well, that’s the way to lose weight. After all that vigorous exercise yesterday, I dropped 1.5kg.

Over the edge we go

USS Missouri, off Fremantle February 1988 © PJ Croft 2021

What a beautiful day. About 25C and almost no wind. Lemon yellow sky in the east at sunset. The photo above is because a guy I used to work with posted a shot on FaceBook of that ship he took when it visited Albany in, he said, 1990. I think my date is accurate.

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The title refers to getting ready to go up and over the rim of the bunker for my operation tomorrow, to have the squamous cell carcinoma removed from my right temple. I’ll be glad to have it gone because it’s getting quite painful – intermittent sharp jabs. No doubt it will be even more painful by this time tomorrow, and so will my backside be after they take a big circle of full thickness skin for the graft.

It’s taken three months! Three months from when I first phoned for an appointment with the specialist in February, to now. I’m upset that it’s taken that long. This is a cancer! It’s grown in the past three months, and is hurting now, whereas it wasn’t in February. Just take your time, guys, don’t worry about me.

I’ve just had the third phone call from the anaesthetist about medication and whether I can stop taking the blood thinner. It’s taken a phone call to the cardiologist (having to leave a message), him phoning the anaesthetist, back and forth. The answer is, yes, it’s OK to stop today and in the morning tomorrow, but keep taking low-dose aspirin. I’m surprised about that, because I find that makes me bleed much more.

The hospital also phoned me and I told them I’d rather stay overnight as I don’t have anyone to sleep with. I’d like to say the lady volunteered to sleep with me, but that would be a lie. However she was delighted to welcome me, so I’m looking forward to beef curry and ice cream (separately) tomorrow night, and muesli, toast and orange juice for brekky on Wednesday.

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February 1988 © PJ Croft 2021

I’m nearly finished reading the fifth of six Kindle books about a hypothetical World War III. Each book is around 550 pages, so this is a lotta reading. I guess it’s a bit juvenile of me, but I am fascinated. The author is a former US Army soldier, so he writes from a detailed knowledge.

The point is, his fictional writing is very close to what’s happening right now. Russia has massed troops on the Ukraine border and uses the excuse that they have to support the Ukrainian rebels who want East Ukraine to separate from the main part, ruled from Kiev. True. Russia mounts an attack and invasion, thinking NATO won’t react too much.

But the US and NATO intervene to help the Kiev government and pretty soon it turns into a real shootin’ war.

China sees the US tied up and decides it’s time they invaded Taiwan. But first, North Korea decides they will start a war with the south, and uses nuclear warheads over two military bases. That starts a big fight and then North Korea launches ICBMs against the continental USA, obliterating Oakland and San Francisco.

From then on, it’s on for young and old. India joins the war on the side of Russia and China, as does Indonesia, but neither of these countries has modern equipment and loses battles.

It’s literally a long story and I am heavily engaged in reading it. It’s looking like nuclear weapons might be used at the moment. One book to go.

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Like these? They are tea cups. They’re advertised on https://tenmokus.com/collections/ and I’m tempted to buy one or two. Unfortunately, they’re quite expensive, AUD$35 to $50 each, plus postage. There’s a large collection, these are just the ones I like. I’d only need two. Hmmm.

Double brrrrr

I’m chilled. It only takes one degree to be noticeable and I’m going to need my cardie tonight. Byoot day, though. Can’t complain. Yet I am complaining.

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Did you get my joke yesterday, about car keys only coming in one colour, khaki? Ho ho ho. Well, today I saw this on AliExpress:

Those clever Chinese, a khaki car key. At $5.52, I’ve ordered one, so I can joke about it.

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A couple more car things:

  • Phwoooaaar. My car has a very plain aluminium gear shift knob and I’d been daydreaming about a nicer one. I found this on AliExpress. It’s only listed for Toyota and Lexus cars, but it’s only an 8,8mm screw thread and at $11 including postage, I thought I’d take the chance that it will fit mine.
  • The exterior mirrors fold in automatically when you turn the ignition off. Or you can tell them to fold in by pulling on the mirror adjustment switch in the arm rest. Why? So you can thread your way past them in a tight car park?
  • When you put the car into reverse, the external mirrors fold down a little, so that you can see the ground and rear wheels a bit better. Up again when you go to neutral or park.
  • I’ve been thinking of putting it through the car wash, and when you do that, you have to think about the radio antenna, Well, there is no external antenna to worry about on this car. It must be embedded in the rear windscreen, I suppose. That’s handy. Wherever it is, the radio reception is great, especially on FM. I drove up around Yanchep yesterday and the FM never faded once.
  • Although this is a coupe, the rear seats both fold forward to allow free access through the boot. Or half fold, for your skis, ho ho.
  • The battery is in the left side of the boot, behind a fold down panel, which means it stays nice and clean. Long run for the cables – I wonder what the voltage is at the starter motor when it’s cranking? It starts instantly though, so I’m not worried.
  • Browsing AliExpress, I noticed spark plugs for sale for Peugeot 407 and started to check them out. Then it hit me – this is a diesel, it don’t use spark plugs. Dumbo.
  • Re my mention of the strange wheel “nuts”, i.e. wheel screws, and my question about how you hold the wheel in place while you screw the er, screws in, a friend pointed me to these:
  • You take one of these (pink one for pink wheels…) and screw it into a hub hole, then guide the wheel over the pin to hang it in place and align the holes for your wheel screws. Logical, but why do it this way in the first place? Apparently VW and Skoda European cars are the same. Very odd.
  • Thinking of changing the colour of the car, as I have been, and thinking of getting it spray painted, someone said why not get it “wrapped”? Yeah, maybe. I know a bit about this, but I’ve been worried about longevity of the wrap material, but I should find out more. One benefit is I believe it’s cheaper than paint, and another would be that I could get any colour I wanted. I’ve said I want black, but I do like the very deep sea-green/blue that I’ve seen on Holdens and GM cars. I should check it out.
  • That black car with the tan leather upholstery and sunroof that came up for sale in Sydney a couple of weeks ago is still on the market. I thought it would sell quickly, but it hasn’t. His price is right up there, $8,990. I would pay that.

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Enough about the car. As you can tell, I’m very pleased that I found it and got it, especially as it only cost half what i expected to pay. I’ve never seen another one in Perth. I like standing out from the crowd.

More on the Chinese threats against Taiwan. I truly believe that there is a real danger of a shooting war in the next few years, almost an inevitability.

The Chinese are building up their naval forces to an alarming level and inch by inch, they are taking the steps they need to assert their control. Their unlawful takeover of what they call their “nine dash line”, i.e. complete control of almost the entire South China Sea, has allowed them to build effective “aircraft carriers” on their sand islands near the Philippines. They have been building aircraft carriers and submarines as fast as they can.

They have clearly shown that they have no regard for international law. They will lie about anything and accuse us of lying.

China cannot be trusted in any way. They will lie, cheat, steal any way they can. They are constantly trying to infiltrate our society. That Belt and Road Initiative is just a way of weaseling their way into other countries, then tying their economies up in massive debt and legalese. How the Darwin Port Authority could have fallen for their trick of leasing the Darwin port for 99 years is beyond comprehension. I am all in favour of cancelling this and the Victorian government’s BRI agreement.

It may not happen before I fall off the perch, but I truly believe that we are going to be involved in a shooting, red hot war with China very soon.

Brrrr

In this car, I like black.

Yes, I’m a little chilled. Only two days ago I was hot and sweating on a 29C day. It rained steadily last night and today it only made 20C, and I noticed it. And it’s May Day, 1 May, two months into autumn so it’s about time it cooled down. I believe it’s official, the seasons have shifted a bit. Summer starts a bit later and lasts longer, and our “winter” is a bit delayed compared to 40-50 years ago. I remember what it used to be like.

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I’m writing this at 1am, unable to get to sleep. I tried for an hour but I couldn’t stop my legs and feet squirming and shifting. I haven’t used Phenergan for the whole week and feel a bit better in the morning as a result. I’ve just had a cup of Roogenic Tea to test its sedative claims. I’ll let you know.

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More car trivia:

  • When I mentioned that I found a fusebox in the glovebox, I forgot to mention that I also found the security wheel nut adapter. This car, being French (sniff) has different wheel nuts.

    All cars I’ve ever owned have had wheel studs (threaded bolts embedded in the wheel hub), and when you mount the wheel on the hub, you apply and tighten nuts onto these studs.

    Not this car. This car has threaded holes in the hub and you fasten the wheel onto the hub using bolts, like this.
Peugeot wheel bolts.

I haven’t actually tested this yet, and I hope I won’t have to. How do you hold the wheel in place and centred before inserting the bolts, for example?

The other thing is that each bolt has a plastic cap press fitted over it, hex shaped and chromed. They look like nut heads, but you can’t get a socket over them – not enough room. You have to use a small plastic tool to pull these caps off first. I haven’t found that tool yet.

Clearly one bolt on each wheel has a different shaped head, which requires this adapter to undo it. I’d better test that soon.

  • I forgot to mention that this car has auto headlights (as soon as it gets dark enough they come on low beam, which means in underground carparks), and self-steering headlights so you can see around corners, and auto rain sensing wipers. It all seems a bit much, I think, but … merde chaude.
  • Another thing is that when you open the doors, the frameless windows lower themselves by about 10mm, and when you close the door, the window raises itself again so as to fit under the rubber water seal around the top edge. Clever.
  • The boot – there’s no key hole to open the boot. As long as the doors are unlocked, you press the centre of the “0” in the 407 badge and click, the boot unlatches. Subtle.
  • The tyres have pressure sensors in them, to warn of low pressure or a puncture. When you turn the ignition on, it goes through a self test (how computer geekish) and one of the readouts is “Pression”, French for pressure, in case you hadn’t guessed. Strange how everything else is in English, but they left that one French word.

I’ve found a place which can supply Peugeot car keys, cut and programmed to the car. $95 each. The only thing is, they only come in one colour, a light brown. It’s called khaki. 🙂

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I had the house valued last week to satisfy the bank and oh dear, it’s a bit lower than the valuation two years ago. In theory, I’ve dropped $110,000 on what I paid in 2013. Too bad, I would have paid even more at the time and I definitely have not regretted my purchase. This is absolutely the best house I have ever lived in. I love it.

But I hope the upturn in the property market lately will show through on this place soon. It doesn’t really matter, as the only time this place will go onto the market is after they take me out of here in a wooden box.

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I’ve realised that I can read Kindle books on my Samsung tablet quite cheaply, around $7 – $10 per book, and I’m a bit addicted at the moment to a series of six books by the same authors about a fictional World War 3. Yes, it’s a bit juvenile, but I used to love reading “war comics” when I was a kid and this is a bit like that, without the pictures and cartoons.

I’m halfway through the third book at the moment. The writing is a bit pedestrian (“The Commander smiled as he visualised the torpedo heading for the Chinese ship.”) As if.

But the authors (there are two) develop their theme that Russia attacks Ukraine, NATO and the US respond and it develops into a very hot war in Europe. Then China sees their chance to make an alliance with Russia, which has actually been in the planning for several years. North Korea uses nuclear weapons, ICBMs, and one gets through, vapourising San Francisco.

Then China invades North Korea from the north and badly damages the US fleet. They also take the chance to invade Taiwan, which quickly falls as the US is too busy to come to their aid. Likewise, massive Chinese forces invade and capture Viet Nam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar (with almost no opposition from all those except Viet Nam).

Meanwhile, the Chinese call a meeting of all the SE Asian countries, including India and Indonesia, and applies pressure on them to form a SE Asian Alliance with China. That means Australia and Indonesia become enemies. I’m just starting to read that at the moment. Two old Indonesian fighters are shot down by the RAAF F35s over Bali airport. Wow.

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All this makes me think – if it does come to a shooting war with China in the future, a big war, one thing they will need is massive quantities of steel to make new and replacement armaments, tanks, armoured fighting vehicles, ships, and ammunition. Steel is made from iron ore. Who supplies the iron ore? Western Australia does.

If I were a Chinese war planner, I would be planning on how to secure the WA iron ore supplies. China has the forces to overwhelm anything we could do to defend our ports and mines.

Our only hope would be that the shipping lanes between WA and Shanghai are very long and pass through narrow straits. China could probably fly troops and equipment here to take the mines and ports, but getting the giant loaded ore ships back to China would be very difficult.

Makes me think. But I’m too sleepy now to expand on this.

Smoke gets in your eyes

KONICA MINOLTA A2 DIGITAL CAMERA Perth, 19 January 2005 © PJ Croft 2021.

We’re nearly two full months into autumn and it still feels like summer. It’s been warm today, 29C, humid and smoky all day so far. It’s very nice! The nights are just right, warm enough to start on top of the covers, then just cool enough pull them up around 3am.

I’ve decided to wean myself off the Phenergan anti-histamine. It’s only the smallest pill size, 10mg, but I don’t want to be dependent on it. The first night, Monday, was OK but I couldn’t get to sleep last night. I must have slept though, because I remember quite vivid dreams.

I’ve bought a web-advertised herbal tea called Roogenic, supposedly an Aussie Aboriginal mix. It’s supposed to be guaranteed to knock you out but they say it can take up to two weeks for it to work properly. Yeah, I’ll bet. You’ve talked yourself into it by then.

I’ve tried one cup and it tastes quite nice. It’s interesting that they say on the packet you can re-use each bag three or four times. That cuts the cost down. We’ll see.

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I’ve been plagued by my mouse intermittently locking up on this desktop PC for the past couple of weeks. Sometimes unplugging and replugging the USB cord would clear it, sometimes not and a full reboot would be needed.

I was a bit baffled for a while as I was getting messages about a USB port being faulty. I was pretty fed up, too. It was happening every 30 secs or so.

To cut a long story short, it was the bloody mouse itself! Don’t look for complicated answers, try the obvious first. Anyway, it was a Microsoft mouse, so that’s probably the reason. Time I bought a new one anyway.

Nonetheless, I’ll take this faulty mouse apart. It could well be that it’s just full of gunk. Nothing to lose.

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King’s Park 19 January 2005 © PJ Croft 2021

French cars! When I was buying Le Pug, we needed the VIN and engine number and initially couldn’t find them on the car. Usually there’s an aluminium plate on the engine compartment firewall, but it’s recessed on this car and we couldn’t see a plate. Strangely, the guy I bought it from said he hadn’t received the licence paper from the previous owners. Zzzzz, my teeth chattered a bit at that, but he went on-line and found the details on the Dept of Transport website.

Anyway, we got the numbers enough to fill in the paperwork and found a number on a sticker on the driver’s door pillar.

Well, today I lifted up the boot floor to look at the spare, and there was the aluminium plate with the VIN, riveted to the floor of the spare wheel well. Cunning Froggies. Date of manufacture 08/2006.

While I was there, I found the electronics box which connects the rear ultrasonic parking sensors, which are not working on my car. It’s in the spare wheel well. I’ve been reading up (on the web forums and YouTube) about faults with these sensors and it should be an easy enough fix. Apparently water gets into the sensors mounted in the rear bumper and failure of just one will kill all four. A complete set of four from AliExpress is only about A$25. I’ll just look for bad contacts before I splurge on a new set.

I’ve also found a YouTube video clip by a Belarussian guy (spoken in Russian but with subtitles), who runs a wreckers shop selling a huge range of broken down engine parts, and one whole half-hour segment is on my 2.7L V6 Twin Turbo diesel engine.

Unfortunately, he reckons it’s a piece of junk, unreliable, prone to catastrophic breakdown. That was encouraging!

I can’t remember exactly what he says (I’ve saved the clip) but apparently some bearings can shatter and obviously bits fly around between cylinders, valves and pistons.

Note that this engine is shared between Peugeot, Citroen, Jaguar and Land Rover, so I think we’re in illustrious company there. If there really was a major problem, surely they would sort it out.

Anyway, this guy recommends using a lower viscosity oil, 20W5 instead of 30W15, but of course he’s living in Belarus, a far colder place than here. Maybe I can find a French Car forum in Australia to ask the question.

Another thing I’ve found is the fuse box in the glove compartment (nicely disguised) and the OBD connector in the centre console arm rest, with a plastic cover disguising it.

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Boy, it’s a lively engine. It’s a bit flat when you first take off, but as soon as the revs hit 2000rpm, ZOOM! It feels as if it would rev forever, although being a diesel, the red line starts at 5000rpm and stops at 6000rpm. It’s not a high revver, but it spins up freely.

I was always worried about the indicator stalk being on the left, even daydreaming about devising a ring to go over the steering column to make it work on the right, but in truth I adapted from the word go. I’ve accidentally activated the wipers (right stalk) a few times, but generally I have no trouble using my left hand.

It’s odd, isn’t it? I’m right handed and can’t usually do things very easily with my left hand. Yet we right hand drivers have no trouble at all using our left hand to change gears, and I would actually have trouble using my right hand if I were in a LHD drive car. Obviously, it all depends how you learn when you’re young.

I’m always astounded when I see a violinist using his or her left hand at lightning speed to manipulate the strings for chords, at the same time using the right hand on the bow. What a skill!

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What did we do before YouTube and the web? It is just fantastic.

One problem with my car, and Peugeots in general, I think, is that the LCD in the centre of the dash, between the instruments loses its bits. That is, the dots don’t light up like they did as new, making the numbers hard to read.

I saw that replacement LCDs are available on AliExpress for about A$40 but I thought, kerrumbs, how on Earth do you change it? Do you have to get down under the dash and work by feel?

Well, no worries. It turns out there are three small holes at the top edge of the instrument binnacle, which if you poke a screw driver in there, pops some plastic retainers up and allows you to pull the whole instrument cluster forward and out. Behind, there’s one plug and socket and once disconnected, you’re home free.

The clear fascia likewise pops off with plastic clips, and the PCB is then exposed. A few more plastic clips and the LCD comes out. Pop the new one in, insert its flex connector and put it all back in the reverse order. Easy. I’ve ordered a new LCD and can’t wait to try this.

Another thing you can do is change to colour of the LEDs in the dash, which are all orange. There are rather a lot – 12 – and they’re surface mount so not easy to unsolder and resolder. I don’t want to do them all, nut having white LEDs behind the LCD would be nice. I’ll think about it.

The other thing I’d really like to change is the graduations on the speedometer and tacho. The tacho’s OK, but the speedo major markings go 0, 30, 50, 70, 90, 110 and so on (to 250km/h, actually, and it will do that too).

I don’t like that – I want 0, 20, 40, 60, 80, 100, 120 etc. I’d also prefer a plain black background (it’s a subdued pattern at the moment) with simple white bar markings, like the Verada has.

Therefore, I’m trying to think of a way to print a new card to replace the existing one. It’s easy enough to use the existing one as a template, but finding a suitable material to print on is the test. Cars get pretty hot, so it needs to be heat resistant. I’m thinking about it.

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The other thing is to buy a new AliExpress car radio/CD/DVD/satnav display device to replace the very basic Peugeot one. 7″ Android 10 Car GPS Stereo For Peugeot 407 Auto Radio In Dash 1 Din Navigation DVD WiFi Audio Video Headunit Rearview Camera|stereo gps|radio rdsin dash android – AliExpress

It’s not cheap, about A$550, but I’ll save my pennies and make a wish. The swap-over and installation looks to be particularly easy compared to all the hassles of making up adapters for the Mitsubishi and the Honda.

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Speaking of the Honda, phew! I nearly lost another battery. It had a new battery about two months ago after I accidentally flattened the first one, which was only a year old. I haven’t been using the car lately but I was monitoring the battery voltage and it looked OK.

But on Monday I checked it again and ooops, it was down to 5,2V. Wow, how did that happen? I got the charger hooked up quick smart and after about 36 hours of charging, it looks good again. Phew, I would have smitten myself mightily if I’d killed this battery too.

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It’s breaking my heart, but I’m clearing out all the stuff my former partner left here in the past five years, tossing a lot of it in the bins and taking a lot to the charity shops. Boy, there’s a lot! Masses of clothing, folders of papers, jewellery, trinkets, sandals, soft toys, cushions, books, CDs, cassette tapes, pyjamas, underwear, kitchen goods, appliances, glassware, bowls, incense burners – holy smoke!

Honey, you only have to say a word and I’ll stop the disposal, but when you say you won’t come here again, what am I to do? Speak!