It’s tiring being retired

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Another beautiful autumn day. Will we ever get any rain?

Busy day today – brekky with my photo-dog mates at North Beach Deli at 9.30am. Much bullshit exchanged; that’s why we call ’em BSBs, Bullshit Breakfasts.

As we were slowly leaving, a woman stopped near us and said she’d overheard us in the cafe talking about the lack of rain. We exchanged a few remarks about that, and then she said, “Are you interested in spiritual things?” We said no, not really.  Privately I thought, “Uh oh.” Sure enough she said, “Have you thought about the power of prayer?” I assume she meant to pray for rain. We started to move away but she kept on, telling us that God could help us, or similar. Hmm, hmm, hmm. Bye madam.

Then over to Osborne Park to collect a pair of computer speakers I’d ordered on-line. I’m looking forward to hearing them, they are solid wood cabinets, built-in 20W amps and decent speakers. I shall report.

Then to IKEA, where I bought two cheap inexpensive trolleys, one to carry a printer on top and all its paper supplies below, gloss white timber – nice – $75. The other a white steel frame with wire baskets below, probably to take a scanner – $49.  Damn, I try not to bring things into this house, to avoid clutter, but I fail.

The white timber one was in a long carton weighing 18kg. I found it pretty heavy and an IKEA guy put it on the trolley for me to take through the checkout.

Out on the forecourt when I was ready to load it into the car, I wasn’t looking forward to lifting it off the bottom of the trolley. Blow me down, a woman, probably in her 50s, greying hair, small to medium build, came up and said, “Would you like some help with that?” I was quite surprised and said, “Yes, but there must be an IKEA guy to do it.”
“No problem”, she said, and proceeded to lift it from low down, holding the short width and lifting it easily into my car. I thanked her profusely and said, “Gee, I’m embarrassed now”, but she just took my trolley and wheeled it away.

I was embarrassed. Do I look so helpless these days? I’m quite prepared to get help from a younger, fitter guy, but a greying little old lady? Lawdy lawdy.

Then lunch at the shops and home. Phew, I’m tired now.

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While at the shops, I browsed JB HiFi and bought a two DVD set called The Back of Beyond. Why? This is the original movie from 1954 that I saw at the slide-ins at Cunderdin in 1955 when I was 8 years old, and it scared the shit out of me. I can still recall the feeling of awful desolation at seeing a few Aboriginal kids lost in the outback, trying to find their way, walking, to some town. It instilled a lifelong apprehension in me at wide open spaces, a fear of being lost. It’s not a serious fear, but the memory is still there.

The second DVD is Return to The Back of Beyond. I haven’t seen that one.

Another frightening movie I saw when I was very young was When Two Worlds Collide, around 1953 when I was six. Uncle Max took me to the slide-ins at Bruce Rock and then brought me home, back to the farm house. I had nightmares for some time after that. I’ve seen it since (I might have it on a hard disk, I think), and it’s pretty tame, but to a six year old it wasn’t.

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Coincidence again?  This morning in the bathroom the name Thandie suddenly came into my mind. Odd, I thought, vaguely familiar?

While reading the paper at lunch, bingo: Thandie Newton is the star of some film. Precognition again.

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I’ve taken notice of the time of sunset in the past few days, as winter slowly approaches, so the time was in my mind as I was driving the other day. Bingo again, right on 5.34pm, the time of sunset for that day, my GPS display switched from day to night colours. So how does it know? There must be some trigger in the satellite data stream, I guess.

Which reminds me, I’m pretty sure I heard a radio report that recently the accuracy of the GPS signal in Australia has been increased to +/-4cm.  !!!!  That would be the military accuracy, I assume. When we first got access about 20 years ago, we only got the “degraded” +/-10m accuracy, I seem to remember.  That was the US not wanting to give their enemies access to the same accuracy that their own armed services got.

But Europe and Russia both have their own GPS systems up now, so it hardly matters any more.

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Holy Smoke

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Driving home yesterday, I found the air full of smoke and beautifully pink and purple, so I headed straight for Jindalee beach where I got these shots.

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They were taken with my phone camera (OnePlus 3T) and I confess the purple coloured ones were taken with my Polaroid sunglasses held over the lens. It’s approximately the way I saw it. It looks good, anyway.

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This is the spot where the crow took off with our bocce marker ball, and there’s a sequel to that. We tried to find another wooden ball, 30mm in diameter without luck. But my friend found a package of four soap balls, all about 30mm in size. Aha. I haven’t tried them yet, but I think a crow might find the smell and taste unattractive.

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Netflix – I’m a fan. I’ve discovered a new show on Netflix – Occupation. It’s made in Norway, is set in the near future and proposes that the USA is self sufficient in oil and gas, so doesn’t care about anyone else (yeah), the middle east has run dry, and Norway has developed a thorium reactor capable of supplying electricity to the whole of Europe as well as itself. Therefore it shuts down its North Sea oil rigs completely, unilaterally, in the interests of climate change.

Unfortunately, Russia in particular objects, and subtly invades Norway to force them to restart the oil rigs and supply Russia. The EU refuses to back Norway as they are nowhere near free of dependence on oil. Stay tuned for the next exciting episode.

The thing is, the Russian takeover is not a visible military invasion, it’s low key, with hardly a soldier to be seen. Except that Spetznaz troops are on the oil rigs, ready to force the restart. And so on.  It’s in Norwegian, with subtitles, but that’s fine.

And on SBS, a new series called Bad Banks, made in Germany with subtitles too but with many breaks into English. I’ve only seen the first episode but it looks great.

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This is crazy. I have at least a thousand CDs; about 400 DVDs and BluRays with more being added almost weekly; probably 50 programs stored on my HD recorder, with more being added nightly; probably 250 books (?) with more always being added; about 50 magazines queued up to be read intensively, and good TV programs to watch nightly.

As well, I now have internet radio with literally hundreds, if not thousands, of radio feeds from all over the world.

Talk about information overload! I can’t read all my books in the 30 mins I allocate each night before lights out. I skim my magazines and put them aside to be studied later. I store TV programs and delete many of them if I haven’t watched them after a couple of weeks. An embarrassment of riches.  And I don’t use Facebook or Twitter!

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I was listening to the US TV journalist Katy Tur being interviewed in Sydney on the radio today. She’s the female journo that Trump fixated on as the one to hate, and she’s written a book about it (which I’ve bought).

She was saying that at Trump’s large political meetings, the journos were barricaded behind bike racks, and she said, “I don’t know, do you have bike racks in this country?”

What an insufferable, condescending insult. Typical American, anywhere that’s not the USA is a foreign country and probably backward.  I would have been unable to stop myself sneering.

A new era

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© PJ Croft 1990, 2018

My friend returned to Bali on Wednesday evening after five weeks with me. If I say she originally booked for three weeks, but extended her stay twice, you would be entitled to assume it was a very happy visit.

For myself, I feel as if I was in the eye of a hurricane during her time here, but in a good way. She’s a bundle of energy much of the time and ‘organised’ me quite a bit. It certainly made me much more active than I usually am, and we even managed a couple of good walks around the lakes, and she did the walk to the beach and back from here. It’s only 1.3km on paper, but is uphill going and coming back. I must do it myself, … one day, soon …

But having so much good food available made me gain a little bit of weight, which I’m now having to try to lose again. It’s successful, bit by bit. My friend loves to cook and really enjoys my kitchen, so I ate more than I usually do, but it was good.

She’s made up her mind and now sees Perth as a better home than Bali, especially as the heat here is even better for her condition. A move here is being planned for later in the year. There are many decisions to be made and goods to be sold in Bali before the move. Not least a car. It was brand new in January and it would be nice to bring it here, but I think making it compliant with the ADRs would make it impossible.

The winter cold here might be too hard for her, so trips to Bali mid year will still be needed. That’s ideal, eh? We’re looking for a place to stay for 2 – 3 month periods, maybe.

What a change! I never dreamed that at 71 I’d be entering this new phase. Talking to my friends at the school reunion and afterwards, we all say we just can’t believe we’re this age. It just doesn’t feel like we’re “old”.

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That raises the matter of a car again. We’ll need one each, so I think I’ll be keeping the Magna. It’s going beautifully, has just turned over 150,000kms and has no trade-in value. I’d be mad to sell it. So what to buy, if anything? Hmmm, a Lexus SC430 beckons.

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One thing my friend realised is the ready availability of all the special foods she needs or likes. Compared to Bali, she’s in food shopping heaven in the supermarkets here. And she can find clothes in her size, which she can’t do in Bali.

She says Hardy’s has closed down in Bali! Wow, that makes a dent. Carrefour is good, but not as convenient.

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My friend has never actually seen the Monty Python series. She has trouble getting the jokes with the strong Pommy accents, but gets some good laughs. We share many likes in TV and movies.

I’ve got the UHD version of Blue Planet II which is also in HDR (High Dynamic Range). To me it just looks like the whites have been driven into clipping and the blacks pulled down into a coal hole. I had to switch it off.

Nonetheless, it’s marvellous. The camera work is magical, and it brings new discoveries of animal and invertebrates behaviour. This is new science. I’ve only seen the first two episodes so far, but it left us gasping.

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Dolphins off the north coast of Bali.  © PJ Croft 2018

Balls!

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Stone the crows, cobber! Can’t a man play bocce without a nosey crow interfering?

My partner introduced me to the game of bocce (in Italian), or boules (in French), today. That’s the game like lawn bowls, except you play on a rough surface at a random distance from the small wooden cue ball, with four heavy steel balls each.

Anyway, we were playing away down at Jindalee beach today and hardly noticed a crow that was taking an interest in us. Suddenly the crow hopped down from the low wall and snaffled our cue ball, flying away with it. It flew up to a nearby fence and sat there, no doubt deciding whether this round thing was good to eat.

My friend went over to the fence to see if the crow had dropped the ball. It had, but it flew down, picked it up and flew away. To add injury to insult, it loosed a poop which landed smack on my friend’s right eyelid!

Cor blimey mate! We’ll have to find another small wooden ball now. Or find another use for eight heavy, shiny steel balls.

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We’ve also been to two quiz nights on Wednesdays at my local pub, just 100m walk away. We call our team “Back for more punishment” because we’ve come last in the two we’ve done so far.

This is a very British migrant area and the questions are too UK oriented, as well as being aimed at people who grew up in the 80s onwards. Typically, “What football team with colours white with red stripe made the European Cup final in 2008?” Or, as a science question, “Which 90s band had a chemist as a member?” or something like that. All the music questions were about heavy metal, or 80s Liverpool bands and so on. We enjoyed the nights and won a couple of beer glasses last week, but it’s lucky we didn’t have to pay to play. It’s also extremely hard to hear the MC and the snippets of music he plays off his iPhone into the mic.

Anyway, last week a group of non-playing guys between us and the MC were shouting their conversations to make themselves heard above the MC’s PA system. That meant we were battling to hear.

Eventually my bold friend went over to them and asked them to pipe down a bit. She came back unscathed, but they were directing dirty looks over at us.

I’d had to walk past them to take our sheets up for marking, and in doing so I’d had to squeeze past a young woman on their table.

So, after a few minutes of dirty looks from them, a tough looking guy in his thirties swayed over to me and said, “Why were you touching people just now, mate?”

“Huh?”, I said, “Touching?”

“Yair”, he said, “Why were you touching people?”‘

“I wasn’t touching anyone”, I said, “I was just trying to get past!”

I don’t think he was capable of getting another set of words out of his skull, because he turned away and swayed back to the group. They packed up and left soon after, to our great relief.

But how about a 30s age group goon wanting to pick a fight with me, an obviously elderly 71 year old? Revolting. My friend was not impressed.

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As you may have gathered, she’s still here after two extensions of her stay, coming to appreciate the climate, the location, the fantastic shopping, the food and the warmth. She went out for lunch with my neighbour, also a German speaker, today at Mindarie Keys marina. Both of them enjoyed it and had some great conversation in their native tongue. Excellent. My friend has another nine days here, but will be back later this year for sure. I’ll probably make a trip up there (Bali) mid year.

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That’s assuming I can get my blood sugar back in control. I’ve been having trouble recently and the leg ulceration is back. It’s not too bad, luckily.

More coincidii

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Ford Probe

Ooooh, busy, busy, busy. I have a guest at the moment and each day is packed with excitement, the good kind. It stops me sitting at this computer, which is a good thing. Sorry about the lack of blogging, though.

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Coincidences?

This morning we were sitting at a footpath cafe table and a car pulled in with a number plate CGG-123 or whatever the numbers were. CGG? I didn’t know what it was. I looked it up this afternoon and it’s City of Greater Geraldton.

But amazingly, parked two cars down was a Perth car with a number plate 1CGG-123. How about that for a coincidence?

Then, at the cafe, we got talking to the owner and, knowing my name is Peter, said he used to live in Brookton as a boy and grew up with a Brookton kid called Peter Croft. “Huh, that’s my name!” This Brookton kid was very intelligent, he said, and left to go to uni in Perth, then went to work up north where he made very high wages. But he drank and smoked himself to death, the cafe owner said. The similarity ended there. But two coincidences in one day! What are the chances of that? (Irony there.)

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Ever heard of the Lexus SC-430? Neither had I. It was a copy of the Mercedes SLK by the looks, and examples are now available second hand for $10k-30k. They are all 12-15 years old and with a lot of kilometres, but with Lexus reliability and build quality, would be a potential buy. Yum.

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The car at the top of this post is the Ford Probe and there’s a 1997 model for sale in Adelaide, of that colour, and automatic, with only 140,000km, for $3,500. Dang, I should buy that!!!

 

What am I?

 

Number 1: found under the seat of my car while I was looking for something else. I ask the question, but I don’t know the answer.

Answer: one of my readers owns a Magna too, and says this is from the end of one of the seat runners. I’ll have to find where it goes.

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Number 2:  I know what this is, but do you?

Answer: the same reader knew that this is the “hanger” for a set of four socks.

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Number 3: it would make a good T-shirt, eh? What is it?

Answer: he didn’t know this one. It’s Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, with all its swirling clouds, but greatly altered by some computer painting program.

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It’s become evident that although stopping Tramadol was not the complete answer to my insomnia, my sleep now, although difficult, is better than when I was taking Tramadol. Before, I was lying awake the whole night, totally relaxed yet unable to “drop off the cliff”.

Now that I no longer take it, I get to sleep but it can take 2-3 hours or more. But eventually, I do drift off. I wake frequently, though, it feels from a light sleep. That’s with no sedative at all. I must be sleeping because I can remember dreams, but it doesn’t feel very restful. What I’m saying is that although Tramadol was not the whole culprit, stopping it has improved my sleep.

I went back to Circadin, the melatonin boosting tablets, taken two hours before bed. It certainly makes me sleepy and for the first couple of nights I dropped off quite quickly. But then I had a few nights of very long delayed sleeping again, although I felt reasonable in the morning.

I’ve run out of Circadin temporarily, so I’ve gone back to one 10mg Phenergan the last couple of nights, and that’s worked well. I have to get up to attend to the watering two or three times a night and get back to sleep very quickly now.

I have one other nightly drug which might be a culprit, but I haven’t tried stopping it yet. I will do soon. The fact that I can sleep so easily even in relatively bright daylight indicates to me that it’s something I take only at night, that wears off by next morning.

Insomnia might seem trivial in the scheme of things, but it’s a very serious problem. Often I can’t risk driving because I’m as good as drunk with fatigue, and it’s known that lack of sleep affects heart disease and diabetes (blood sugar). My morning BSL used to be quite good, but it’s gone quite high. Hmm, there’s a clue: I started a new drug about six months ago, and that’s about when the BSL went up. Hmmm.

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I’m quite enjoying having Netflix available. The number of programs on tap is amazing. Most are rubbish, of course, but the gems such as The Crown and Victoria are worth sifting through the dross, and I’m well into a US politico-drama called Designated Survivor. At $13.95 per month, I think I’ll stay with it for a while.

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I got interested in building a model railway a few years ago but it got sidelined, mainly because I couldn’t find a place to put it. I want a fairly large layout, not necessarily complex but so I can run trains of realistic length on long runs of track. I’ve got a lot of track and a couple of locos with some carriages boxed up in the garage.

I’ve been thinking recently that I do have somewhere I could use to build a very long layout: the “drying court” on the west side of the house. Yes, it’s outside the house, but I could weatherproof it easily enough, I reckon. There’s a 2m high wall between me and the neighbour and I could install angle brackets to support 600mm wide baseboards. The maximum length would be 13.66m.

To be continued.

King of the Sun

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Yep, that’s me. I have a certificate to prove it:

NASA Certificate

I found a link in a sciency-geeky website today saying if you send your name in, you’ll be included in a silicon memory chip on a spacecraft being sent to the Sun, where my:

“…identity will be bombarded by the Sun’s intense heat, solar winds, and high-energy radiation from December 2024 through to some point in late 2025 when the probe is likely to meet a flaming end.”

I’ll be 78 in 2025. Otoh, this could be just a scam to get me to send my name in. Hmmm. Too late.

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Dammit, I was sure I’d found the reason for my insomnia a couple of weeks ago, and I had about 10 days where I got good nights of sleep. But gradually, I’ve slipped backwards. Stopping Tramadol has definitely made a difference, such that if I can get to sleep, I stay asleep and feel reasonably OK in the morning.

But getting to sleep is the problem again. Two, three hours of lying there, trying every trick I know. I’ve had to go back to using Phenergan, which works but makes me droopy and slow in the morning. The doc suggests melatonin. I’ve got some from previous attempts, so I’ll try it again.

It’s reached the stage where I’m nervous about going to bed, which doesn’t help, obviously. And how come I can sleep so easily during the day, when the room is full of light?  I’ve avoided doing that today, even though I felt tired. I seem to perk up as the day advances.

The doc also says to avoid all fluorescing screens in the evening, ie computer and TV. But I watch TV in the evening!  Maybe I have to get used to recording what I want at night and only watching it next morning. But I need to get things done during the day.

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I’ve had a bit of luck recently: I won Lotto last week! Yeah, a whole $13.10, not even enough for lunch these days. (By the way, back in the noughties, ie around 2004-2010, say, my lunch at the shopping centres used to cost a total of about $8, being two Miss Maud sandwiches or rolls and a drink. But now it costs me about $16, and that’s not Miss Maud. That’s inflation – even though it seems low in percentage terms, it adds up, or compounds, to be more accurate. Have our incomes doubled? I don’t know, actually. I’ll work it out.)

Anyway, Lotto, then next is that I’ve won a double pass to see the movie The Death of Stalin at the slide-ins (Innaloo cinemas). It sounds boring, but it’s a British comedy, so I have high hopes. My Bali friend will be with me then, so it’s perfectly timed.

Then today, I bought a CD, Bach Goldberg Variations, DGG, marked at $8.99. But when I went to pay, they said it’s being remaindered at $0.99. Bingo, the trifecta. It’s about time I had a bit of luck.

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I need to buy a new general purpose printer/scanner (multi-function machine). I’ve been feeding tiny, expensive ink refills into my Canon for years and I’m sick of it. I must have fed hundreds and hundreds of dollars worth in over the seven years I’ve had it.

The point is, finally the makers have made printers with large capacity built-in tanks that are filled by large bottles of ink. The printers are sold with enough ink for 14,000 black ink pages and 11,000 colour pages, so in theory, you may never have to replenish the ink, not for years, anyway. And you’d probably buy a new printer when the first ink fills ran out, possibly.

So I’m tossing the Canon with its partially clogged heads and part used tiny tanks and buying a new Epson. I steered clear of Epson office machines because it used to be, if one tank ran out, no matter what colour, it refused to go on, even only using black ink. I refused and switched to Canon. But the ink costs! Canon sells big tank machines too, but I prefer Epson now.

I already have a $35 Fuji-Xerox monochrome laser printer, bought for low cost everyday printing about six years ago, and it’s been great, especially when I found Hong Kong toner cartridges at about $8 each (I bought three, and still have one left). But the paper feed has gone wonky. I’ve had it apart and I can see what’s wrong, but it doesn’t look easily fixable. It doesn’t matter now, it’s going out onto the verge as well. I’ve had my money’s worth.

That leaves the new Epson office printer, and Big Bruiser, my Epson 2880 A3+ photo printer with its 100+ year light-fast inks, no fading. With my monitor calibrator and its printer calibration, I can make near perfect prints. Lovely.

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I found an ad for an oven cleaning service, so I rang them today. They asked me my postcode. When I told them, they said, “er, Jindale? Is that right?” No, it’s Butler, same postcode, just the other side of the road. And it’s Jindalee.

Well, the girl said they had no record of Butler, so they couldn’t help me. What?!

Long story, but it’s an Australia wide company and the girl was in Melbourne. So I gave my phone number and they said someone in Perth would phone me. No, they couldn’t give me an estimate of the price.

Someone did phone me, and their quote was $150, including a $10 discount. Yow, more than I expected. They said it would take about 2 to 2½ hours and involve a complete disassembly of the oven. I declined, but maybe I might change my mind and phone them back. For that amount of work, it’s reasonable if it’s a good job. The oven isn’t very dirty, but it is well used with a lot of staining. It would be good to get it done.