It’s the winter solstice!

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Oh, it’s cold. Mid winter in Bali, woe is me. Actually, it is quite cool, maybe 26C and a bit grey with light rain. No, I tell a lie, the sun’s out again.

We’re at a clothes optional resort in a room where we have almost exclusive use of a beautiful green stone tiled pool, which stays quite cold. Very refreshing, if you don’t mind the first dip. Yesterday I did seven laps, up and back, of the 20m length, so 280m of exercise. It’s fantastic. Feels good.

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This is the main pool, lower down:

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At night the underwater LED lights change colour. Very nice, although red water looks pretty odd.

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BaN beach 20Jun17

There are not many guests here (if they reduced the price … ?) but last night at dinner we had a Canadian guy who lives out of his suitcases and travels where he feels like it; a New Zealander, similar, who is a freelance video and film animator and CGI artist, making his living contracting his work in all these SE Asian areas, and working on the web with his Macintosh laptop; a guy from Tennessee with his Chinese female partner, who have a business making and exporting souvenirs and promotional items from Shenzhen to the world, including Perth; and my friend and me from Perth. Quite a crowd and quite a conversation for a while.

I gingerly introduced the topic of Trump politics with the Yank at breakfast this morning and found we are not quite of the same opinion, but I managed to avoid any problems.

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Meet Herman:

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They have a system of ponds near the restaurant where they have about six tortoises of various sizes. Yesterday they were cleaning the ponds, so they lifted all the tortoises out onto the lawn. A couple just huddled down and didn’t move, but a few set off exploring, one quite fast, up and over a low wall. They like to eat hibiscus flowers, I was shown. Faskinatin’.

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Lovina Beach, where we set off to watch dolphins. This is about 7.30am.

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That was a good trip.

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This is our last day here, dammit. Back to Lovina tomorrow. Time for a nap now, I think. Gee, this typing is tiring. [Stop Press: we like it so much we’re staying an extra day, back to Lovina on Friday instead. Bagus.]

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You think you’re tired. This is Yupi, the Great Dane.

Actually, preparing the photos and doing this blogging has taken me more than an hour.

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Oh, nearly forgot, we had a snake in the bedroom at Lovina on Sunday morning. Luckily it was a small one, about 300mm long and 5mm diameter. The cat brought it in and was playing with it. She’d given it a few bites but was fine herself, so it must have been harmless. I’m pretty squeamish about snakes but my friend ably got it in the kitchen tongs and dumped it in the garden. It was still alive, so maybe it survived. But the cat kept grabbing it and bringing it back in, so it got dumped in the pond. Bad cat!

A full day

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Dolphin waters off Bali’s north coast, near Seririt.

Sorry for the lack of posts. Partly it’s because not much has happened this week, but also because I get a burst of being quite busy, too busy to write. Today was full on.

The highlight was dolphin watching this morning. It cost ~$10 per person, three of us on a jukung, which I used to call a prahu, but a prahu is bigger and has a sail. These are dual outrigger narrow boats for fishing or sightseeing.

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Parked over clear waters with lotsa fishies.

We set off from the shore at about 7.50am and it took a long time, about 30 mins, to get to an area where there was any sign of dolphins. But once we started seeing them, they were all around us. A big launch sped by and although we were shaking our fists at them for the wake they caused, the dolphins seemed attracted, and from then on we saw dozens.

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Fishies loving their morning bread.

I’m sure the dolphins got their thrills from seeing all these humans with arms and legs lookin’ at them. We hung around for half an hour or so, then slowly headed back to Lovina along the coast, stopping to feed bread to the fish in clear, shallow, coral waters shown above. It was beautiful. We got wet from spray, and I’ve probably got some sunburn, but it was a magic morning. I shot mostly video, but I can’t upload it as Vimeo is blocked in Indonesia. There’s a way around it, and I’ll add it asap.

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See the kitten, just to the right of the box, under the flap.

While we were waiting, unfortunately we saw a less attractive side of human nature. Someone had dumped a box of unwanted kittens on this pile of wood. The poor kittens were wandering around mewing and looking cute. There were still four in the box that couldn’t get out, so I lifted them out. At least they’d stand some chance. They were gone when we came back, thank goodness.

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Then in the afternoon (after I caught up on some missed sleep from the night before), it was off to a locality called Bengkel to find a balian, a guru, for some spiritual or otherwise healing. It was a long drive, narrow twisting roads, incredibly dangerous driving by local motorcyclists, broken edges, massively loud trucks and stupid speeding pickup trucks. How we avoid accidents I don’t know. The bike riders are just suicidal. They just ride out onto the road without looking. They often ride on the wrong side of the road so they are coming toward you in your lane. They pass at incredible speed, then suddenly brake and pull into your gap from the car in front, then swerve left and pass the car in front on the left, in a single lane road!

Anyway, luckily we had a local lady with us to translate and ask directions. We found the place, but the guru wasn’t there. No matter, not wasted, we got what we wanted and headed home again. Heavy traffic! Saturday evening, in Ramadan?

So, after dinner on the Lovina beach front, it’s home, ready for our next excursion tomorrow to Tejakulah. Four blissful days.

Dinner at a beachfront restaurant (?) where the menu said this:

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Two Island Wrestling wine, yes? Maybe it knocks you out. I think they mean riesling, but I could be wrong.

But for now, sleep is beckoning.

It’s hot

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Lucky dog.

Saturday 10 June. The forecast is for 31C today, and with humidity, it feels every degree. Luckily the pool is cool and inviting.

I slept poorly again last night – usual thing, dropped off easily around midnight after some pleasant talk in bed, but I woke again around 2am and that was it. I gave up at 4.30am and came out to the dining room and watched some YouTube TV, episodes of The Island, with Bear Grylls. Good show, that, if you can understand the incredibly thick British accents.

Then I was given a sedative I haven’t tried before, Zolpidem. Within 10 minutes I was staggering off to bed at 0600 and I slept like a log until 11am. Wow.

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While I was up and awake, I tackled a problem with my laptop. I kept noticing a new User had been added at boot time, nuvfoykoxk. (Oh, I know, it’s Donald Trump!) I first saw it a couple of days ago and deleted it as a user. But guess what, it kept coming back. My anti-virus program didn’t flag anything.

So after a couple of attempts, I ran Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool. Nothing. No problem found. OK, next one, Malware Bytes. This time it found two potential files it didn’t like and marked them. I chose to delete them and bingo, no more strange user – at the moment. Let’s hope.

[Postscript: no, on Sunday it’s back again. I’ll do a web search to see what it means. Meanwhile, don’t use any important passwords, I guess.]

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Yesterday afternoon we had to walk a fair way to a friend of V’s place to pick up her rented Diahatsu mini-people mover (that’s a car for mini people, yeah?) I walked about 10 mins in the heat and it seemed we were only a quarter of the way there. I stopped for a breather at this little stall:

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This was the highlight of my day, such nice people. The woman in green was weaving the small baskets used for the offerings in ceremonies. She told me the name, but I’ve forgotten. There was enough English from one of the women and I have enough Bahasa to explain a few things, so we laughed and exchanged pleasantries for 15 mins or so while V went on and until she and Werner came back in the car. Ahhh, aircon.

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This was one of the most pleasant times I’ve had here. As you can see, my legs are giving me problems again. I slipped on some pool steps and scraped the left leg. It broke the skin and it’s oozing a bit. No infection so far, luckily. I’m applying Emu Heat Oil as a first resort. It seems to work in healing. The main thing is to keep the flies away.

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Once we reached Werner’s house to drop him off, it was time for coffee, cake and lemon water. Werner is a retired German policeman, same age as me, 70, who trained police dogs, so he knows what he’s doing.

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Yupi, the Great Dane. Lovely girl.

He has three Dobermans and looks after Yupi, the Great Dane that V had for a while, until she had to travel. Yupi is probably better off in the dog pack anyway. She’s lonely and demands a lot of affection.

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Then we bought some food. Street food – deep fried balls of a batter filled with beansprouts, carrots, tofu and onion, the size of a big softball, 10c each. V bought 20 for about $2. And tofu fritters. Delicious! Then we went to the fruit and vegetable market in Singaraja. Lucky we were in a small car, because there’s not mushroom inside, to quote the old song. It’s a huge street market, all on stalls or on sheets on the ground.

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Among other things we bought some beautifully flavoursome tomatoes, with the taste we complain that we don’t get at home any more. V bought about a dozen huge coconuts, heavy, weighing about 2kg each. Plus salad veges, papaya and so on. All amazingly cheap.

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These are all frame grabs from 4K video. I wish I could show that here, but Indo blocks Vimeo. There may be another way, but …

Kembali

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Yudi, my Balinese friend, at Mindarie Boat Harbour

It’s all happening! I’ve been pretty busy the past week. Above is my Balinese friend Yudi. After an initial planned visit to Perth, he had a visa mixup and it looked as if he couldn’t come. Therefore I booked my trip. But suddenly last week the visa was fixed and he got a flight last Thursday (1 June) for his first visit to Perth. He’s been to Australia before, but only on the Gold Coast.

So I picked him up from the airport and he stayed a couple of nights with me. Very impressed with my house, and liked the area a lot, but I don’t think he understood how far out I am and how great the distances are in Perth. Anyway, I showed him a little of the local scene.

Then my flight was on Saturday (3 June), so I put him on the train to Victoria Park where he has friends. It’s a pity our schedules clashed like that, but it can’t be helped. The weather was surprisingly mild for his visit.

Then it was my turn to come to Bali and here I am outside Yudi’s restaurant and business office, Tuesday 6 June.

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It’s beautiful here, just right temps of 27C and low humidity. My partner has come back from her island cruise and we’re in a beach hotel in Sanur. We hope to catch the high tide tomorrow morning, as it’s very low and shallow around noon.

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I said I’d never let anything come between us.

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This was Xmas 2016 in Sanur. I like this photo. It was taken with Yudi’s iPhone by a waitress.

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It’s fairly quiet at the moment. Ramadan might have something to do with it, but from what I read, although tourism is up slightly, the average stay is shorter, cancelling it out. It’s hard on the taxi drivers.

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I bought a new suitcase here because the locks are broken on my usual one. I tried to fix them at home but it was a waste of time. Le Suitcase et mort. I came here using an older soft sided suitcase, but this new one is hard cased, with a water resistant seal and no zips, just two latches on one end and a main combination locked latch on the main edge. It’s strong enough to sit on. It’s white, very trendy. So what if it gets scuff marks, it’s highly visible. I heard an airport woman say in a TV program, “Please, no black bags. They all look alike.” And suitcases are stacked six or more high in the cargo holds, so they need to be strong.

I didn’t want zips, by the way, because not only have I seen a zip opened with a Biro, I’ve done it myself. It took about five seconds. No way you’d get into this new one.

The guy set the combination for me in the shop, showing me how, and emphasising that the numbers are right to left. so last night when I used the combination lock for the first time, I entered the numbers as he said. I couldn’t get it open! I thought I might have the numbers wrong  and tried different ways, but no go.

So next, I entered them L-R. Sproing! That was it. What was that R-L all about? Maybe there are instructions in the tag that came with it. Anyway, I like it. I’ll leave my soft sided suitcase here for next time.

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I considered buying this camera that I’ve mentioned before:

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But the Bali price is $510 (wouldn’t haggle) compared with the full retail price of $449, GST free about $400 in Perth. Perth is very, very competitive in photographics, computers and electronics.

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I’m up on the north coast now, in the Lovina area. It’s warm up here, seeming to be more than Sanur. Not much of a sea breeze. Humid too.

The ABC show Checkout has a segment about how packaged food looks compared with its actual appearance.

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I had this last week. The package tempted me and I fell for it, but as you can see, it isn’t the same. The sausages were full of bread filling and the gravy was gooey. The mashed potato was dry! It broke away in chunks. So I won’t buy it again. Lesson learnt.

 

First world problems

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Guess where and when.   © PJ Croft 2017

Sigh! What a frustrating day. Not serious problems in comparison to other people, hence the title, but it had me hissing and spitting.

Mainly, I’ve had a new phone on order from Kogan. The tracking advice showed it at Clarkson Post Office, 5km from here, at 0753 yesterday (Monday). So I stayed home all day waiting for the delivery. Nothing. No delivery. A day wasted, almost. Not wasted, but I had things to do.

So this morning I had to go out for a doctor’s appointment and a couple of other things. I got home at 2pm to find a card under my mat that a delivery had been attempted and I wasn’t home. My parcel could be collected at Clarkson Post Office. I’d just come from there!

I had a short rest, made a list of prescriptions to be filled, then went back to Clarkson PO. There was no parcel there! Where is it? It’s in the delivery van, but the van won’t be back until after 5pm and they close at 5. Grrrrrr.

Then I headed home again but realised I’d left my new prescriptions from this morning at home. Duh. So I was too tired by then and went home again.

I’m finding that this home delivery of goods by transport companies (or Australia Post) is a dud deal. I hate it. So many times this same situation has happened – I wait all day and it doesn’t come, then I have to go out and it comes, but they don’t leave it.

They have my details, my phone numbers, my email address – why can’t they contact me to tell me they’re coming???? Send me an SMS!! Don’t waste my time.

Speaking of which, what a waste of their time and fuel. They don’t seem to care that they’re making wasted journeys. I think a written complaint will have to be made. This is crazy.

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This morning I went to Woolies (mistake!) looking for salt water soap and shampoo for a friend. Waste of time, Woolies couldn’t help. Didn’t even know what I meant.

So while I was there I bought a few things (you can see what’s coming, can’t you?). I went through the checkout and as always, I immediately checked my docket. Six items, and a glaring error. A roast pork dinner, directly above a yellow $7.50 Special sticker, charged at $9.99! Woolies struck again. I went back and complained. She went away and checked it and came back with another yellow Special sticker for Shredded Pork at $9.99.

Well, I swear the one I picked was marked at $7.50. I wouldn’t have chosen it at $9.99. There was a $2.50 price difference between roast pork and shredded pork. So I said, No, I don’t want it, and got a refund. But Woolies strikes again! They are out to rob you. DON’T SHOP AT WOOLIES!

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Drove home and saw two cars, one behind the other, both with only one brake light out of three working. Then two more at intervals with one brake light failed. It is chronic. People don’t check their brake lights, but what can we do?

Similarly, I’m thinking of going to the police and asking, “Do we just have to accept the incredible noise produced by motorbikes, usually, with chopper-style exhausts, that is non-existent mufflers?” It is chronic around here. This an area where that kind of thing is considered macho.

In fact, I’ve often thought I don’t fit in around here:

  • I don’t wear high-viz work gear
  • I don’t wear a checked shirt hanging out
  • I don’t have tattoos
  • I don’t have piercings
  • I don’t drive a 4WD
  • I don’t have a loud exhaust.

Gee, makes me feel kinda inadequate.

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I’ve just finished my latest Robert Goddard novel, The Ends of the Earth. Terrific. It’s the last of a trilogy, one of those big, thick books. This guy is prolific. He seems to publish at least a book a year and the list is about 25-30 so far. I’ve read nearly all of them, but I pass them on to a friend. Highly recommended. I nearly always learn at least one new word, and best of all, because many of them are set in parts of the UK that I’ve visited, I can often visualise the settings. Of course, with Google Earth, we can see it all now, down to the street view. Fantastic. Recommended.

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In fact, I had a dream last night where I was fighting a Russian woman in my bed, and I was yelling Help! Police! (I hope it wasn’t too loud.) Then I reached over (in my dream) and punched her a couple of times – it was a desperate dream. But I woke sharpish – I’d punched my CPAP machine on my bedside cabinet. Ouch! I hurt my hand.

I think it was because there was a Russian woman in the novel, Nadia Bukeyeva, who was a nasty piece of work. It was all a dream, but gee it was real.

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Off to Bali again soon. Yum. I don’t know why but Tuesdays and Wednesdays are no longer the low fare days to fly. At prices of $600 or more, one way going up, they obviously don’t want us to fly on those days. So it’s the weekend. It’s much cheaper coming back, of course. I wanted to use Garuda full fare, but they’ve raised their fares so high ($800 return) as to be uncompetitive. Who do they think they’ll get when you can get a return ticket for around $500 with extra baggage with Air Asia and the others? Similarly, I wanted to use Jetstar, but their pricing is so tricky (leading you on with a seemingly low fare, then loading it up as you proceed) that I give up on them. Fools.

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I need to get to the airport and though I have friends who can sometimes drive me, I don’t like asking. One is very willing, but will be working until a bit too late in the afternoon, and the other’s car is very small and loaded up with tools.

So I’m doing my trick again of renting a car for one day. A Corolla, pick up at 4pm Friday, drive to airport Saturday and drop off before 4pm, $50.33. I reckon that’s half the cost of a taxi. It works quite well. It costs me in time, of course, but I’m rich in time.

Edit: my good friend Keith insisted that he could drive me, saying it gives him an excuse to take the afternoon off working. What about the car full of tools? Needs a good cleanout, he says. Good mate. I try always to repay him in other ways.

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I’ve just heard a news item about the British Airways computer failure that grounded them for three days world wide. I read somwhere that BA outsources their IT to India. That failure, assuming it was in India, cost them more than $100 million, at minimum. That’s an expensive cost for outsourcing to cheap labour.

Plus ca change

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Kiribas, sinking under rising sea levels. Quick, land going cheap.

Things change quickly. I was expecting to meet my Bali visitor at the airport next Tuesday, but unfortunately the Australian Consulate in Bali have refused his visa application. It seems he didn’t supply all the required documentation. Even though he owns a property company, a restaurant and a hotel, they said he hasn’t proved his employment status.

I’ve emailed them and said I’ll verify for him, act as guarantor for him, and I’ll see him back on the plane after his stay, but it did no good. They’re saying he has to resubmit the application with the required information, and that it usually takes 15 working days for a visa to be processed.

He’s got an air ticket for 30 May, returning on 12 June, so I’ve told him to urgently try to change it, preferably for a month later. No reply so far.

That means I’m free to go to Bali in time to meet my lady friend when she gets back from her 8-day cruise. She’s on a small (6 passenger) boat travelling from Bali, east and to the north of Lombok, Sumbawa, Moyo Island, Komodo Island, ending in Flores on Sunday. She’s going to stay on in Flores, she hopes, then fly back to Bali in the following week. We’ll meet up in Sanur. Bagus!!

At first I was a candidate to go on that cruise, but (1) I had my guest arriving, so I would have had to rush back on the 29th or 30th May, and (2) there’s no 240V power on the boat when the sun goes down and the solar panels don’t work. I need 240V at night for my CPAP – can’t do without it. I was willing to go anyway, but after discussion, it was too difficult. Maybe another time on a bigger boat.

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Interesting that a new CPAP is being released by Resmed which is specifically designed for travelling. Yeah! It’s about as big as a 500g tub of margarine and weighs about 700g, complete with humidifier built in. Amazing. But I believe the cost is estimated to be around $2,300!!! That company charges like bank robbers.

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One thing I would have bought if I’d gone on the boat cruise is one of these:

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It’s an Olympus TG-4 camera, TG reminding us of Tough Guy. It’s waterproof to 15m, so my friend could take it snorkelling with her, drop proof and crush proof – you can put it in your back pocket and sit on it.

But the main reason I thought of it is this:

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GPS. Many times I’ve looked at my photos after a trip and been unable to remember exactly where a shot was taken. On a cruise through islands, where all coastlines look much the same, I’d want this to locate my photos. I’d also take shots each hour or so to trace my trip.

I’m not on that cruise, but I might buy it anyway. Note that a new model for 2017 has just been released, slightly different to this. I doubt it would have reached WA yet, so …

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I’ve finally bought a new hand phone. I decided on the OnePlus-3T after seeing it consistently top the mid-price phone lists. “As good as an expensive phone for half the price. A bit more than half, $600, but anyway. It’s winging its way from Hong Kong, Kogan tells me. I just hope it gets here before my trip. It’ll be a week tomorrow since I ordered it.

PS: at 09:23 this morning it had cleared customs and was in Victoria, according to the tracking info. Bagus. I’ve just received the new SIM card from iiNet. Luckily I realised it uses a nano-SIM, whereas I’ve only got a micro-SIM at the moment.

It’s going to be a rush to try to get all my contacts transferred over before I leave.

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Another rush job is to either fix a latch on my hard sided suitcase (it’s in pieces, busted), or buy a new case. I’ve been using the same case since my Europe trip in 2008, but it sustained damage right from the very first leg and it’s got a bit worse for wear each trip. I suppose nine years is not bad going.

Sauce for the goose

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Beijing 2014    © PJ Croft 2017

The title is part of the saying, “What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander”, which is a very strange way of saying, “It works both ways”.

What does? Sexist name calling, that’s what. We men would be hauled before the Court of Sexism and finger wagged by the beak if we called women Cutie, or Darling, or Babe.

But I’m being called names like that all the time by female shop staff. I was called “My angel” the other day. I was so surprised I had to comment on it to the woman, asking how she’d like it if I called her Babe or Cutie. She laughed and said she’d be flattered, actually. But she saw what I meant. We guys have to be careful what we say, but I’m being called Darling, My love, Sweetie and such like all the time, I mean all the time. I don’t mind, but nor do I want to be told what I can or can’t say to a woman. Fair suck o’ the sav, babe.

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Have you got your strategy in place if you found yourself infected by that WannaCry ransom virus last week? It wasn’t aimed at Australia so we weren’t affected, but it does happen. When you turn your computer on one morning, you’re confronted by a screen that says all your files have been encrypted and you’ll have to pay hundreds of dollars to get the “unlock key”. Don’t think it can’t happen to you. It can!

What I’ve done is made a complete backup of my C drive to a separate USB drive and disconnected it, plus made a Windows emergency boot disk. That way, if I ever found myself held to ransom, I’d boot from the boot CD, then do a complete reformat of the C drive and restore from the backup.

I must admit I haven’t actually done this to test it — I’d better try it. The other thing is that you’d need to do an incremental backup every day if you don’t want to lose any work, but that doesn’t take long and can be automated. It’s just tedious and can easily be forgotten. It’s the only way to be safe, though, and if you’re running a business, it could save you an awful lot of grief. I find it pretty amazing that most businesses don’t seem to have this type of plan in place, ready for attacks. It’s vital for a business.

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I had my long delayed and long awaited SCGH ophthalmology clinic appointment on Monday and somewhat to my surprise, I was given the all clear. I don’t mean my glaucoma, retinopathy and cataracts have gone away, just that there’s been no change, no worsening. I was kinda hoping that they’d say to get the cataracts done and I’d have a magical improvement in my vision, but the doctor said they are not bad enough to operate yet. No action required. Come back in six months.

Oh well, I suppose that’s good news, but it was a bit of an anticlimax.  Fffft.

By the way, at one point I phoned to ask if my appointment could be changed to another date. I was told no, it couldn’t be brought forward, and if I postponed it, I would have to wait around eight months for another appointment! That’s how far ahead they’re booked. Yowch. This is a public hospital. If it were a private clinic, no doubt it would be much easier.

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There was a discussion of tilted horizons in photos on a blog I read daily last week. I reckon I have a built-in spirit level. I cannot bear titled horizons, especially water. I reckon I can pick 0.5deg. of tilt. The blog writer’s opinion, and I usually respect his judgement, is that the content of the picture matters more than a tilted horizon. Hmmm, but to me a tilted horizon or sloping water is like a pothole in the road that I have to look at and get around before I can look at the content. I can’t bear it.

Above is my favourite illustration of this. I took these shots in a hotel in Denpasar. Disconcerting, ain’t it?

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Another sleepless night last night, dammit. I felt relaxed and near to sleep, but it just won’t come. That means I’ll have to sleep after breakfast today and that will mess up the next night, and so-on. I saw an ad for acupuncture for insomnia (among many other ailments) so I might go along and suss it out.  It costs $118 per session, but if it works it would be worth it.

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I watched the first episode of series three of Fargo last night on SBS. What a strange but compelling series this is. Don’t watch it if you don’t like seeing violence, because it’s bloodthirsty, violent TV, but in an almost cartoonish style. I’d recommend watching series one and two first, to get the sense of what it’s all about. It’s set in Minnesota, which seems to be permanently covered in snow and ice. Brrrr. Good stuff. It’s actually a bit funny at times.

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I got a hurry up from Photobook a couple of days ago, telling me my two vouchers are about to expire. I found my original payment email and it said I have until 21 July, so I emailed them and said, Huh? What’s going on?

They promptly replied and said yes, 21 July is correct, no need to hurry. But then they surprised me by saying I had two other vouchers which were about to expire. I’d forgotten I had them. They kindly extended them for a month for me, so that was good. I reckon they must make a fair bit of money from people paying for vouchers and not getting around to using them. I’ve done it.

That means I have to make two books in about a month. Phew, I usually take several months to do one book as it takes a lot of work, especially proof reading and checking. Little errors constantly creep in. I have to check repeatedly. Off to work I go, as my next trip is coming up soon.