Now is the winter …

Phwooaaar, what a sudden change. After the hottest summer on record in Perth and a seemingly endless run of warm 25C days and beautiful weather, it started raining last night and it’s only 12deg now. It’s hardly stopped raining all day. I’ve had to put on my warm jacket for the first time since last winter. Brrrr.

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The drive radio announcer has asked us, “Apart from your house and car, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought or own?” Good question. I had to think hard about it.

At first I thought, I have nothing over about $1,000, but then I remembered: my pre-paid funeral – $3,350 and my ASUS 4K OLED touch-screen laptop – $2,400. Oh, and my LG OLED TV was $3,400.

I have three cars so I guess I should nominate one as my main car and the other two as indulgences. The Mitsubishi Verada only cost $1,250, the Honda MDX cost $3,000 and the Peugeot 407 coupe cost $4,400. I suppose you could count those as a bit expensive but not as expensive as a modern car, a second (holiday) house, or a yacht or power boat, none of which I own. I also have a few watches, but the most I’ve ever paid was about $275. All the others were no more than $150 or so.

I have a lot of cameras but all of them were around the $1,000 mark new. In about 2002 I bought a set of two Contax G film camera bodies and three lenses in Singapore, but they were all second hand. Individually each item was about $600 or so, quite high end at the time, a total of about $2,000. Digital was hardly viable then and naïvely I thought I would always be able to sell them here and recoup my investment. But digital went ahead at a rapid pace and no-one wants film cameras any more. Even so, it’s a very nice set.

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In that regard I nearly weakened a couple of weekends ago. A guy advertised three Nikon F801 bodies, one F801 and two F801Ss – three for a total of $150! That was one of my most fondly remembered film cameras and I was very tempted. But then I looked at the price of film these days, and almost died. A roll of Fuji Provia 36 exposure is $35. That’s just for the film – processing is extra. I don’t know what that costs but it would probably be at least $20. And it would involve driving 35 minutes into the city to drop it off for processing, then the same to collect it afterwards. Then the time involved to set up the scanner and scan all the film to digital. It would be crazy.

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I’m now quad COVID vaxxed and Fluvaxxed as well. I have been feeling fairly smug and blase, not bothering to wear the mask (we don’t have to wear them in WA now). But with the upspike in infections in the past couple of days, 17,000 on Tuesday and 16,000 yesterday, I think I’ll go back to wearing the mask while shopping. It’s a bit risky and as Dr Norman Swan said on the radio, is wearing a mask really too much to ask? Better to be safe, I think.

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Waiting in the medical centre yesterday, I saw a young boy (about 5 years old?) walking toward the exit, hand in hand with his mother. As they walked past, he looked up at her and said, “I was bwave, wasn’t I?” I was charmed.

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In the pharmacy later I met up with a guy I used to work with for many years at Channel 7. He was always slim, of normal build, never overweight.

Yet he developed type 2 diabetes just like overweight me, and now he tells me he’s going into hospital to have a heart bypass operation. Oh, I said, stents are easy. No, he said, not a stent, a chest open artery bypass. Crumbs.

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I’ve become addicted to watching YouTube video clips of car mechanical repairs and restorations. Many of them are repairs, which are interesting enough, but many of them involve the guys buying crashed cars from auction yards. It’s amazing – acres and acres of delectable high spec cars, most of them badly smashed. It makes me wonder what driving is like in the US. So many crashes!

But a smashed car doesn’t worry these guys, especially when it’s a Ferrari or Lamborghini or Mercedes or Porsche, because that’s what they go for. One guy in particular has a stable of about ten high end cars that he has bought as wrecks – a Ferrari, a Lambo, an Aston Martin, a Porsche 911, a BMX X6 and an i8. Incredible. He’s paid up to US$50,000 for some of them, even as wrecks, and he spends many thousands repairing them, but he more than recoups his outlay.

Anyway, I find it fascinating and I’ve learnt a hell of a lot. In particular, stay away from BMWs and Range Rovers. Great cars when they’re going, but they don’t keep going and they’re bloody expensive when they break, which they do. Mercedes are pretty reliable, but the parts are exorbitantly expensive. Ho hum. I keep buying LOTTO tickets.

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Which reminds me, I’ve read several times in the past few years what I thought was sarcasm, about wiring looms in older Mercedes cars which break down and disintegrate. I thought it was a joke.

But no, it’s real. In the 1990s, Mercedes had the idea that they would make the plastic insulation of its wiring break down naturally, so as to help with recycling. They assumed that their cars would have a life of, say, 15 – 20 years and that’s what the plastic was designed to last.

But as we know, people like to keep older cars going, so if you want to own a 1990s Mercedes you’d better know, your car is designed to break down. You’re probably going to be up for a complete new wiring loom, around US$5,000, plus the cost of dismantling your car and fitting the new wiring, costing at least as much again. Amazing. It’s not just a rumour. Beware.

A sad day

Aunt Vivienne. R.I.P.

I had a call this morning that I knew must come, but I’m sad all the same. My aunt, Vivienne Croft, wife of Dad’s older brother Darcey, died this morning. Just old age, a quiet, peaceful passing in Brisbane. It’s especially poignant because she was the last of the line of aunts and uncles on both sides of our family, in Sydney, Brisbane and Bruce Rock, WA.

On the east coast, in Sydney, Grandpa and Grandma Croft, (Ern and Doris), had four kids: Darcey, Jonathan (my Dad), Bill and Marion. All married and had kids of their own, but their generation have all passed on now, all the aunts and uncles. Aunty Viv was the last.

On the Western side of the country, it’s the same. Mum came from a family of six brothers and sisters and they’ve all passed on. I feel a bit sad today. I feel I was blessed by all my aunts and uncles, who all treated me with great kindness. I saw a lot of my WA aunts and uncles when I was growing up and I was looked after, given a bed and a place to live for months at a time when things were a bit difficult for Mum in the mid 1950s. That meant I got to know my Bruce Rock cousins and I had a great time with them. I was a few years younger than nearly all of them which made me feel a bit inferior, but I still had good times.

Uncle Darcey married Aunt Vivienne fairly late but they had four sons who have all turned out to be terrific cousins although, tragically one of Darcey andViv’s boys, Ernest, the eldest, died of a brain tumour in 2010.

The other cousins are Thomas (Tom), Jonathan and Donald. It was Tom who phoned me this morning, soon after Vivienne had passed away.

Being separated by this vast continent in the early part of our lives, we in WA didn’t get to know our Sydney and Brisbane cousins much, that is until the ’90s when email and the internet came along, and digital phone communications and mobile phones. I remember very occasionally taking or making interstate phone calls before the ’90s, in the analogue days, when the lines were noisy and crackly and it was hard to understand what was being said. Now it’s as easy as talking to someone down the street, and as cheap.

Tom and I chose the same career, electronics, and it’s great to be able to chat about electronic topics. Tom’s work has brought him over to WA a few times, so we’ve bonded more than the others. In the opposite sense to my WA cousins, where I was always the young ‘un, on the Eastern States’ Croft side I’m the oldest of all the cousins. That’s because Dad was the first of the four to marry.

When Dad was first diagnosed in 2001 with bowel cancer, which ultimately killed him, I spent a lot of time driving him around and we had a lot of time to talk. He told me then that when he was growing up, all he wanted to do was get married and have kids. Well, he did that for sure.

Aunty Viv was 98 when she died today. It feels strange to think that I’m 75, entering that final stretch of my life too.

R.I.P.

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I last saw Uncle Darcey and Aunty Viv in Brisbane in 2008 and I’ve got quite a lot of video of everyone over there from that visit, including of Ernie. [That’s provided I can get it back from my hard drive which chose to fail last Friday. I think the motor has failed as it’s not making any noises. That means the heads haven’t crashed onto the discs, which is a good sign. I plan to take it to a computer firm, recommended to me.]

For the past few years I’ve been thinking that I really should have made a trip over there to see Aunty Viv, because I might not get another chance. I had thought I might fly over on Frequent Flyer points, buy a car in Brisbane, see the relatives, then do a driving trip down the east coast, stopping off in Sydney to see the cousins there and going on down the NSW and Victorian coasts. Then driving back across the Nullarbor. It would have been a great trip.

But then the bushfires came in 2018, and driving in those areas and conditions didn’t seem feasible. Then the pandemic started in early 2019 and we were locked in to WA. No exit and no re-entry. That lasted until just a month ago, April 2022. In any case, the floods on the north coast of NSW made travel pretty difficult, so even if we are free to go now, it’s still not practical.

Which is a long way around of saying that my plans to see Aunty Viv, the last of the last, didn’t happen. No matter, I have my memories and my video. That will have to do.

Glorious rain

Sample image taken with Panasonic FZ1000. This is my favourite camera now.

Aah, rain, glorious rain. Buckets of it. It’s raining steadily right now. We love it, we need it, more please.

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I had my second COVID booster vaccination yesterday. That means I’m quad-vaxxed now. That should stop that pesky virus in its tracks.

I was scheduled to have the annual flu vaccination on Saturday, but they’ve contacted me to reschedule, because they lost power to the fridge containing the vaccines, ruining them. It’s now set for 10 May.

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In the past few months I’ve changed my diet considerably, mainly in the quest to cut the carbs and eat more protein. Instead of cereal and fruit for breakfast, this is what I’m eating:

It’s capsicum, red onion, small tomatoes, olives, shredded chorizo sausage, feta cheese (and cheddar cheese sometimes), liberally doused with olive oil, Tabasco sauce and ground black pepper. YUM!

Lunch is usually one of the packaged four chorizo slices, plus four crackers and four slices of cheese. With either no sugar lime soda or just cold water to drink.

Is it working? Do I feel any better? No, and no. My weight hasn’t changed, maybe gone up a little, and I still feel low energy and the need to sleep in the afternoon. Sigh. At least the food tastes good.

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I’m always wary of shopping at Woolies, as I’ve written many times before. The first thing I always do when I’ve gone through the checkout is go and sit down and examine my till receipt. Recently I’ve felt they’re improving. I haven’t found many errors.

But this takes the cake:

Admittedly, it’s a short dated markdown but I bought two of them. One was OK, but when I opened the second one this morning, by sliding the cardboard cover off, I found someone had pulled the plastic covering off the salami compartment and it was empty! The cheese compartment was still sealed.

So what’s happened? Has an employee felt a bit peckish? Or a customer? Whatever, it’s pretty annoying. Do we have to check the packaging of things we buy now?

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At last, at last! I’ve got my email client, Mozilla Thunderbird working again, with access to all my folders at Gmail. I don’t know how it happened but last Saturday I got a password confused, I can’t remember how, and BANG, I could no longer see all my Gmail folders. It was because I couldn’t log in to Gmail, “Authentication failure” and I struggled with passwords for the next three days. GRRRR!!

It’s a long story, thankfully faded in my memory now, but today I had the idea of uninstalling Thunderbird and reinstalling it. Bingo! This time it worked and I can see all my folders again. I have scores, maybe more than a hundred of them stored on Gmail’s server, as I file an awful lot of my emails, anything that looks as if I might need it one day. Such as Synergy and Kleenheat bills and so on.

Actually, I’m fairly well protected because I use a program called Mailstore Home. It’s German software and the Home edition is free. I’ve been using it to make backups of my email folders for years. It’s a little obtuse to use, but you can just set it to backup your entire Gmail account and about 15 mins later, it’s done. The backup is stored on your C: drive but you can also export the backup file to a USB stick or a CD for extra security.

The backup is totally searchable so if you want to find all your correspondence for a subject, you can just search on one word such as Pemaron and in a couple of seconds there will be a list of all the emails containing that word. Or Veronika. Very handy. Recommended.

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I’ve been spending a lot of time lately watching YouTube video clips on guys doing mechanical repairs on cars. A Lot of time.

There are four guys in particular that I really enjoy – Alex on LegitStreetCars; Samrac (just search on the name); Johnny at CarNinja; and a German guy at M539Restorations. This guy is a barrel of laughs, a German with a great sense of humour. He seems to be BMW trained as that’s mainly what he works on, although he does a Jag or two.

Johnny, the CarNinja, what a nice guy! Quietly spoken, with a European accent although he’s in Kansas, USA, he mainly works on European cars, mainly BMWs. His personality just projects – you’d be happy to have him work on your car. Between these two, I’ve learnt a heap about BMWs. I know what a Vanos is now.

Alex is in Chicago, and is Mercedes dealer trained, but he seems to have left full time employment to just do his YouTube clips now. Thanks to him, I know quite a lot now about Mercedes, and especially the ABC pneumatic self levelling suspension fitted to high end cars such as the S series and the CL I remember when I thought I might be able to own a CL that everyone warned about the ABC suspension, but although it’s very complex, it’s not to be feared.

Samrac (I assume his first name is Sam) lives on a small farm in Florida, near Orlando, and what beautiful country it is. He owns around a dozen high end cars at any one time and his specialty is buying damaged cars from auction sites, fixing them up, owning and driving them for a while and “flipping” them, that is selling them for much more than he paid for them, plus the cost of the parts to fix them.

His current project is a BMW X6 with a twin turbo V8 that he bought, almost undamaged for about US$16,000. It was behaving weirdly, with flashing displays and changing itself into Park while driving occasionally, and so on. It turned out to be a blocked drain hose from the sunroof, down the A pillar, filling up with water and overflowing into the footwell, soaking the electronic modules. It took a long time to figure this out but the culprit was the power seat control module, under the driver’s seat. Once he took that out, it all came good.

I’m fascinated by all this, the diagnosis, the disassembly, the sourcing of spares and so on.

But this Samrac guy and Alex in Chicago – what motormouths they are! They talk non-stop! It can get a bit overwhelming at times, but I ain’t sick of it yet.

It gives me a bit of self confidence to do my own repairs. For example the aircon doesn’t work in the Peugeot 407. Before I watched these YouTube clips, I wouldn’t have known where to start, but now I know where the compressor is located and what to look for. I very much doubt I’ll attempt to fix it, but ya never know.

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On this theme, the Honda is going and driving well now. I thought I had a power steering fault (heavy steering and squealing noises), but a Y/T clip showing a guy changing O-rings on his power steering pump showed me where to look and what to look for. Duh! It turned out to be just low power steering fluid. Once refilled and the steering exercised a few times, it’s good as gold now. Easy.

I forgot to mention – ever since I’ve had the Honda MDX I’ve been using standard 91RON unleaded fuel. I don’t know why, I just assumed that’s what it takes.

However, when I filled up yesterday, ahem, for the first time I noticed a sticker on the inside of the fuel door saying to use 95RON. Wha…? Why haven’t I noticed this before?

Anyway, I just added the 95RON to the tank, mixing it with the 91RON that was in there already. That’ll be fine, no problem. But what an idiot I am.

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I’ve got the broken wiring for the Pug’s boot lid switch exposed now and I’m “gettin’ around to” replacing the wires. It’s quite a tricky path, needing wires to be pushed down the rubber tube connecting the boot lid to the body. I’m “war gaming” it in my mind as to how I’m going to do it. I’ll post some photos (one o’ these days).

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Speaking of photos, and Anzac Day just passed on the 25th, how about this:

Troops returning from WW2 to New York. Claustrophobia, anyone?

I have hundreds of spectacular photos that I’ve collected in recent years, into a folder I call “Great Images from the Web”. Unfortunately, most of them are copyright and I don’t have permission to show them. However, there’s no reason why I can’t make a private slide show, set to music, to show to friends.

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Speaking of cameras, one of my favourite cameras of all time, that I owned, was the Nikon F801.

N8008 was the US name for the F-801

It just fitted my hand and all the controls (there weren’t many) fell right under my fingers, such that I didn’t have to search. I gave mine away about 15 years ago to a relative (who shuns me these days, has not made contact in 9 years. I’m upset about that.)

Anyway, there was a successor, the F801S, which I never owned but would have liked to.

Well, blow me down, a guy in Mandurah is selling two F801Ss and an F801 for $150 for all three. I’m crazy but I want to buy them. But I must be mad, because (a) they are film cameras and (b) I don’t own any Nikon lenses. He says they’re OK, but you can’t be sure until you’ve shot a roll of film and had it processed. This is expensive these days – $20 or so for a roll of 36 shots and another $25 (guessing) to have it processed. Compared to digital, which costs essentially nothing.

Anyway, if I want to shoot film, I’ve already got four film cameras – Contax G1, Contax G2, Olympus OM2SP and Pentax MZ70. No, no, calm down Pete. Don’t be stupid.

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I’m finally watching the entire series of Line of Duty on Netflix. Wow, wow! This is British television drama at its finest, tough, complex, compelling, dramatic. Edge of seat stuff. Far, far better than US TV programs which are a joke in comparison. I can’t think of a single US program which compares.

I’m also watching Doc Martin right from the beginning, series 1 episode 1. This program has been around for a decade or more and I have watched it, off and on, on free-to-air. But now that I’m seeing all of it, I’m realising that I didn’t see all the episodes and/or series at the time they were aired. A lot of it is new to me now, familiar though the program is. I’m really enjoying it, second or third time round.

Drivel!

Esperance WA

Wow, what beautiful weather for Easter. Looks like my mantra, “it always rains at Easter”, will be proven wrong this year.

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The title refers to this piffle below. This utter, idiotic, simple-minded, trivial, stupid, uneducated, ignorant, garbage talk.

It was started by the Facebook wail of a woman I slightly know, who said she’s recovering from a bout of COVID (she’s in the USA) and was asking for advice on how to relieve the symptoms. With one exception, all these replies are from women. Note the suggestion to have the vaccination, as if that’s going to help after you’ve had the disease. Yet another woman rails against the vaccination. I have never read such piffle! Note the promotion of Ivermectin as a cure, even though it’s been proven ineffective.

Xxxx Sinclair

Get yourself some shungite.. Get the pallets [sic] and put them in your drinking water.. Keep a pendant on your body and I [sic] wand under your pillow .. I sense because you’re psychic and in-service you are being AI targeted.. Do you have a water filter I highly recommend it considering the latest information. Sounds to me like you have venom poisoning

Xxx Sinclair

Any time you want to meditate with me we can clear this energy I’m happy to help you I love you take it easy

Xxx Sinclair yes I have a water filter

Xxx Davis

My symptoms, we’re [sic] mild but I was depowered for 5 to 6 drag weeks. Beware, it also gives mind depression.

No idea why it took so long but we may have copped something weird and nasty at Canberra and, Epic.

Xxxxxx Hollebeke

Did u take evermectine. Gone in 2 days. Plus vit D. C. And lots of Zinc

Xxxxxxxx Ivermectine .. I take 2 x a month

Xxxxxxx Kat

I also had that cough lingering for 5 weeks after. Let’s just say. I think you should get vaccinated. It’s serious stuff

Xxxxxx Kat none of my friends who have been vaccinated have had milder cases than unvaxed friends. Agree it can be serious. You are not allowed to be vaxxed when u have covid ir for a period of time afterwards

Xxxxxxx Moulton

Xxxxxx Kat with all due respect but your mum makes her own decisions and that includes this so called “vaccine”

Instead of harming your Immunsystem with something you potentially don’t know you can instead just strengthen your Immunsystem with for example Quercetin 500mg, Zinc and Vitamin D 3 times a day together with vitamin C it is an incredible help for your Immunsystem!

Thousands times better than any drug the FDA or CDC wants to sell you.

You got jabbed, your decision!

Your mum is not and is not going to, her decision!

Xxxxxxxxx Whitaker

Depends how high your viral load was and what u are doing to treat it. And how early u start ivermectin,zinc, good vit c etc. And which variant u have. My daughter had omicron last month, took ivermectin for 2 days,and was better in 10 days.

Xxxxxxx King

Wish you fast recovery – I guess that you receive a lot of advise

For me – Ivermectin helped .

Xxxxxxxx King me too

But this or andographis is used as soon as possible .

Xxxxxxxxx Whitaker serpintina ..

God, spare me! Spare me from ever having to deal with stupid women!! Yes, I despise the women who write and spread trash like this, and I point out that it is almost always women, females, who are causing such problems on aircraft, at airports, at medical facilities, at schools and so on. Why is it that women are the trouble-makers?

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I’ve become quite an habitual viewer of YouTube clips made by mechanically trained guys on car repairs. They vary in quality, of course, but two of the best are LegitStreetCars and M539Restorations. The former is a Mercedes trained mechanic in Chicago, talking and showing mostly Mercedes topics (but some other cars). The latter is a German guy in Germany who specialises in BMWs. He’s a really personable and funny guy. He seems to work on his own project cars, restorations or not.

In the one I’ve been watching last night, which he calls Project Raleigh, he rebuilds a 2006 BMW M5 E39 V10. Wow, I have never seen such a complex engine and such a complicated repair. He wants to replace the big-end bearings, and in order to take the sump off to get to them, he has to remove the entire front suspension – wheels, brakes, cross members, tie rods, trailing arms, brake lines – everything! Then you can see up into the 10 cylinder crankshaft and see him replace the simple half shell bearing sleeves. He dismantles all this with nonchalant humour.

Mind you, it helps that he’s in Germany and all the parts he needs are available “just down the road”, or available second hand. He ends up spending more than €10,000 just on replacement parts. His own labour occupies several weeks’ worth – this would be completely unviable for a paying customer.

The US Chicago guy likes to buy bargain cars at auctions, usually but not always Mercedes, sometimes BMWs, and fixes them up to “flip them”, that is to make a quick profit. Many times they’ve been bank repossessed or owner abandoned for relatively simple faults. It’s fascinating to find out what the faults are in these cars.

In both cases, these guys are totally self confident in disassembling the cars. I’m great at disassembling things, it’s putting them back together that I’m not so good at. I recommend these channels.

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I’m listening to radio talk about Ukraine and the Russians at the moment. Last week I put up a FaceBook post decrying the way the Russians are indiscriminately killing civilians, bombing hospitals and apartment blocks, behaving as depraved maniacal savages. I said that Australia has Rules of Engagement that would prevent orders being given to pilots and servicemen to commit such atrocities, and that Australian pilots and soldiers would refuse to carry out such barbaric orders. Yet Russian servicemen (and women) seem to have no qualms. They don’t care who the kill or how.

I said I consider Russians to be barbarians, to be depraved, cold blooded killers with no morals.

Someone in FaceBook didn’t like my post and it was removed on the grounds of being “hate speech”. The hypocrisy. Facebook allows false information from people like Clive Palmer and Craig Kelly and the drivel above, containing false information, yet won’t allow the truth when I post it. Pathetic.

Aaah, that’s good

I mentioned last week about the annoying whistles made by at least one car around here. Above is what I think is causing it – the latest gimmick. I’m not impressed.

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I finally called the RAC about a battery for the Honda this morning, making sure to mention that I thought I might have a warranty claim. I found the last time the battery was replaced – 9 March last year, so less than a year’s use.

He arrived in about an hour and when I told him the battery looks as if it’s sulfated and I want to claim warranty, he said to make a warranty claim, the battery has to be fully charged up. Huh?? But that’s the point, I can’t charge it. I don’t understand this.

Anyway, he got his Li-Ion big battery pack and connected it across my battery, i.e. dumping charge into my battery. Slowly the current and voltage crept up over about a five minute period, so my battery was taking a charge. Then he got me to start the car. Wunderbar, it started and ran. He then disconnected his power pack and we let it run for another five minutes. Then we connected my own Century battery smart charger and bingo, it started taking a charge again. Now I just have to leave it on charge for 24 – 36 hours and check that it stays charged.

If it doesn’t hold the charge, then he said to call them back and they will assess any warranty claim. (But if it hasn’t held the charge, doesn’t that disqualify the warranty claim?? I don’t understand this. What good is a warranty if anything and everything cancels it out?) Anyway, it looks as if this might fix things.

Next, when the car started (I mean the Honda MDX), it made a terrible screeching noise. “Belt?”, I said. “No, power steering”, he said. Fluid looks a bit low. But it has to be Honda fluid, he said. You can’t use normal fluid. What’s the difference? So that will have to wait until I can get the Honda fluid.

Next I got him to look at the Pug engine and its cold coolant “problem”. He had a good look and said the fan is not running, so it’s not that. The engine sounds great, although he said it seems to be idling a bit roughly. I mentioned that it runs a bit lumpy when I’m starting off and he said one of the injectors might be faulty. If that is the case and I can hope for smoother running, that would be terrific, because that’s one of the bad points I’ve found since owning the car – lumpy at low speed.

Then I mentioned the boot problem. He had a look and a good feel of the rubber sleeveed wiring connecting the boot lid to the body. Aha! About the middle, you can feel a break in the wires. So it is that. I’ve just got to set to and get the wires exposed, then rejoin them.

What a crap thing, Mr Peugeot. This is a very widespread problem. The web is full of video clips and talk of this problem. Why hasn’t there been a factory fix for it? Maybe there has been.

So I don’t have to look for blown fuses after all, or a faulty switch behind the button. I spent quite a while trying to get the fuses out in the glove box panel but I couldn’t get the little tool to grip on, dammit! Now I don’t have to.

So along with a fair bit of engine and car cleaning, it’s been quite a productive morning.

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PS: I’ve just googled “Honda power steering fluid” and it shows that Penrite HPSO (Honda Power Steering Oil) is listed, and it’s in stock at my local Supercheap Auto for $26.99 for 1L. Guess where I’m going this afternoon.

More on thermostats

Peugeot thermostat housing from Amazon USA. What crazy guy designed that?

I wrote yesterday about thermostats for the Pug. This is what the housing looks like. The actual thermostat is inside that housing, but obviously you have to remove the whole thing before you can split it apart. The price is >$120 and up, depending on manufacturer.

From watching YouTube, it occurs to me that it could also be that the radiator fan could be a fluid coupled or temperature switched type that’s stuck on, running all the time even when started from cold. That would keep the engine too cool. I can check that myself. Better do that before I jump to conclusions.

I’ve been watching a LOT of YouTube mechanical video clips in the past few months and I learn a LOT from them. One thing has been that my knowledge was still from the days of distributors, one coil and spark plug leads. No, on modern cars these days each spark plug has its own coil. They’re still connected by leads, but it ain’t like the old days.

Anyway it’s dinner time.

Some like it hot

Aaah, I love landscapes, like these mountain views.

The never ending summer. Only 26C today, cool! But the 30deg days keep coming in our second month of autumn. Good Friday next weekend is forecast to be 30deg and sunny, which threatens to negate my mantra, “It always rains at Easter”. Well, that’s the Friday forecast, there are still three more days.

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The title is a play on a problem that’s cropped up on Evie, the Pug. It’s staying cool. What’s wrong with that, you say? Well, the water temperature gauge is staying on C for cold for far too long. It does warm up, but very slowly. Still, that’s better than overheating, but I suspect that if the engine stays too cool, the oil will be too sluggish and won’t flow correctly, leading to wear or some other unknown problems.

I suspect that the thermostat is stuck open, meaning the coolant is flowing around the engine all the time. As I said, that’s better than having no coolant flowing, but it’s still bad. I seem to have noticed it straight away, as I look at the gauges a lot and I hadn’t seen this before now.

Anyway, no worries, I thought. I’ll just go to the auto parts shop up the road and buy a new thermostat and install it. I’ve done this before in other cars; the thermostat lives at the top of the radiator, in the cap. Pop the cap off, put the new thermostat in and put the cap back on the radiator. Price for a new thermostat? Around $15 – $25. Piece of piss.

Well, I got my first shock when I put “Peugeot 407 2.7l HDI diesel” into the model description. Suddenly there are only two choices (brands), one at $105 and one at $125. Aaaagh! What’s going on?

So I googled the part and found you can get cheaper ones, down to about $65, but cheap parts ain’t always good.

Then I noticed YouTube links on how to change the thermostat. Aaaarrrrgh! This is a French car, so naturally this is a major job. It’s a transverse, east-west engine and the thermostat is located in a weird looking manifold on the end of the engine, buried in/under a mass of cables and hoses.

The water manifold (circled). All the cables and hoses are cleared away in this view. Photo: Aussiefrogs

And if you want to remove this manifold to get the thermostat out, you have to drain all the coolant from underneath, meaning the car really has to be up on a hoist. This is not a job for the home mechanic, not this one anyway. Bugger! Also, I noticed that when they refilled the radiator coolant, it’s a strange orange colour, not the usual green, so it’s special.

So I think I’ll be safe to drive the car to the RAC workshops in Joondalup (15 minutes away), but I’ll have to pay to get it fixed. That’s OK, because it needs a full service anyway, meaning I want them to drain and change the oil and coolant. I’ve had the car for a year and I’ve been meaning to do it.

That means I have to get the Honda going, meaning new battery. Also, last time I was driving it, I noticed that the steering was very heavy, and the power steering pump was whining. That means low power steering fluid, which from watching YouTube almost certainly means faulty O-rings in the power steering pump. It’s almost do-able by the home mechanic, and I probably would have tackled it ten years ago, but I don’t think I can do it now. Another expense.

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I’ve become quite addicted to the YouTube video clips about car repairs and I’m learning a lot. It’s also reminding me that after 60 years of owning and working on my cars, I’ve learnt a lot over the years and I’m not ignorant about cars and engines. I understand what they’re saying, I know what everything does and if I were stronger, I would tackle a lot of things myself. The only problem is that you need to have the spare parts available, and to hand, such as the O-rings for the P/S pump. These would almost certainly only be available from a Honda dealer.

You also need all the tools, especially a torque wrench. Back in my younger days I had all this, full sets of open ended and ring spanners, a torque wrench, full socket sets, spark plug sockets, everything.

Then when I moved up here in 2013, I had to clear my workshop and felt I had to clear the “junk”. Like an idiot, I gave a lot of stuff away, to one “friend” in particular. Toolboxes full of tools.

Well, a couple of years ago I needed some of these tools and asked him (by email) if I could borrow them back, and if he could give me a hand to do a job. All I got was silence, no reply. I’m upset.

Additionally, I used to have a lot of good power tools – I had three power saws (7″, 8¼”, 10½”), about four power drills including a big Makita from Dad, with his D/L number engraved on the casing, two Ryobi blue jigsaws, including mine with white paint that I spilled on the casing, three routers, again a big green Makita from Dad (after he died I cleaned out his workshop and so inherited a lot of his tools), and so on and so on. I had many, many good tools.

But between Trigg and Butler, somehow these tools have disappeared!! Somehow, before or during the move, someone took them. I might have given the impression that I was giving things away, and I was, but I’m certain that I divided things up so that I had one of everything I needed before I “donated” the other tools.

The only saving grace is that Aldi has been the source of replacements, and they’re usually battery driven now, so I have a reasonable set of new power tools – a 7″ battery power saw (which I have yet to use!), a good battery workshop vacuum, a battery drill, a jigsaw (which I bought for a particular job and have used) and so on.

Even so, who took all my power tools?!! I have my suspicions.

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I’m booked in for my second COVID booster shot on Wed 20th April. I’m over 65, and high risk, so I qualify. I’m happy to have it. Then I have the flu vaccine booked for Sat 30 April. I’m happy to have that too. I have it every year and I haven’t had flu in over 40 years. I haven’t even had a cold in the last three years.

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A friend told me he’s isolated at home at the moment, having been a close contact of someone who is COVID positive at his workplace. My friend has no symptoms and doesn’t think he’s got it, but the rules are the rules so he’s confined to his home until next Wednesday. He doesn’t mind at all. He’s using the time to get his own work done around the house.

I’ve got a box of five COVID Rats (Rapid Antigen Tests) in my fridge that I haven’t even tried to use yet. I suppose I should have a practice run on one test, just to see how to use them. These were the free ones and I believe we’re allowed five a month, so I’m due for another lot now. I’d better keep a stock as you never know.

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Watching the Ukrainian war with Russia is so painful. Russians are barbarians! Uncivilised beasts. They don’t deserve their space on this Earth.

If this was the Australian forces, no Australian soldier or airman would carry out orders to attack hospitals and schools to kill civilians, especially women and children. Australian Rules of Engagement expressly forbid it, but Aussie servicemen would know it was wrong to do such things. How can the Russians not know or not have qualms about killing children and bombing hospitals. This is sheer barbarity!

What to do? Step up the supply or armaments to the Ukrainian armed forces, for one thing. Give them the aircraft they desperately need, and replace the tanks they’ve lost, and more.

How about this – in secret, make the negotiations to quickly admit Ukraine to NATO. Make them a NATO country overnight. That would immediately allow the other NATO partners to use massive overwhelming force to crush the Russian forces and drive them back over the border.

I know that Putin has threatened to use tactical nuclear missiles, but make it very clear that the first response if he does is that he will die in a nuclear strike on Moscow. Meanwhile, use special forces to attack and disable Russia’s nuclear bases. They must be extremely well known and discovered by now. It’s quite possible that Russia’s own troops might not fight back, knowing that if they launched, their homeland Russia would cease to exist.

Oh, this is silly waffling, but surely there must be something we can do. Surely?

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1989 – Me on the left, in case you didn’t know 🙂

As I wrote the other day, we had our annual NSHS Reunion last Saturday and one of the “girls” asked about photos from our early reunions, whether I have any. Shazzam! Have I got photos for you!

The one above is from our 1989 reunion and here’s one from the planning meeting for 1990:

1990. That’s me in the blue polo shirt in the middle.

Oh, to be so slim again! It’s possible, just do the diet and exercise required, but climbing Mt Everest is possible too.

(Hang on! These dates can’t be right – how come my beard is snow white in 1989, but half black in 1990? No, I don’t dye it. I’ll have to correct these dates.)

Anyway, I’ve got at least 100 images from 1989 onwards, so I’m putting them into a big slide show with 60s music. It should be a hit. All the images from that time are pretty poor quality (film) so I’m spending a lot of time beating them into better shape. It takes time, but I enjoy it.

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Speaking of 60s music, I watched the Ron Howard movie about the Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night last night. I liked the movie, but wow, the memories of the music! They burst onto the scene in 1963, when I was in fourth year high school aged 16, and so I “grew up” with the Beatles. All the tunes are as familiar as nursery rhymes, the album covers as recognisable as views of my home. I’ve got most of the albums (that American term, they’re LPs!) on CD, plus the double CD just called “1”, which is the compilation of all their number 1 chart topping hits. It takes a double CD to hold them all. Wow, what amazing memories.

And it makes me often think, how much amazing talent comes of of Britain – The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Queen, just to name a few of the top groups. Britain produces special talent, no doubt about it. There are many things that annoy me about the UK, but I have to admit, their talent and inventiveness is outstanding! Concorde, Monty Python, the Goons, I could go-on (get it?)

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Ooooohhh, peripheral neuropathy. Pain! Shapr, shooting pains, mainly in my feet, but also in my legs. Diabetes, sugar crystals in the fine blood vessels acting on the nerves. I’ve had it for many years, but it’s slowly getting worse and is now appearing in my hands. There’s no cure, just pain medication, but I find paracetemol is not enough, nowhere near enough. Yet anything stronger seems to interfere with my sleep.

I’ve heard that CBD Oil (cannabidiol) helps, and it’s available without a prescription at the pharmacy, provided the pharmacist assesses you as a suitable candidate. The problem is the cost. As I understand it, it’s about $200 or more for a small bottle, about a month’s supply. I could afford it to try it out, but I couldn’t afford it for a regular purchase. Hmmmm.

And the heat goes on

NSHS Reunion yesterday. I’m in the blue denim shirt, back to camera on the right.

Here we are starting the second month of autumn and I’m still shirtless, with the fans on and having cold showers. I sleep on top of the sheets with a fan running on me all night. Every day is around 30deg and humid. It’s not downtown Denpasar, but I’ve been perspiring a fair bit. Sure is a long summer.

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Our annual Northam Senior High School reunion was held yesterday, our 58th year since we finished 5th year. Only two years until 2024, which will be our 60th anniversary. I’ll have to change the design of our name badges:

That was from 2014. I drew all of that, including the shield logo and the gold 50 Years caption, in my vector drawing programs.

Each year a few more names are changed to DECEASED in red in our database, and a few more turn up at the reunion wearing wigs and/or scarves due to hair loss from chemotherapy. Kudos to them for making the effort to come. We always hold the reunions at the Ascot on the River hotel in Ascot, which was rebuilt from the old Ascot Inn motel where we held the first reunion in 1982, I think. We used to bring our own ’60s music – I built up a collection of CDs holding hundreds of tracks (still got them) and I brought a mini hi-fi system to play them on. Other patrons of the bar used to come over and tell us how much they liked the music.

We used to go on quite late into the night in years past, and many people stayed in the hotel overnight so as to not have to drive. Unfortunately, at $200 a night for a room, it’s become too expensive. The food and drink is also very expensive – we were paying $12 per schooner (350ml) of mid strength beer and for those who like their steak, $39 for a rump steak lunch. Too expensive for me. I had a very nice Caesar salad with smoked salmon but that cost $29. There were very few patrons at the hotel. It’s a vicious circle – few patrons equals low turnover equals low profits so the need for higher prices, leading to even fewer patrons. Ho hum. We might need to find a new venue.

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I’ve developed quite a liking for Greek salad at the moment. It started with small containers at the IGA, but at $4 each, for one serve, they’re a bit expensive. I’ve been buying my own capsicums, onions and olives, with fetta cheese and I slice up a chorizo sausage over it. Drizzle with olive oil and heaps of Tabasco. Yum! I’m having it for breakfast these days. Gee, capsicums are expensive, though – $14.50 per kilo for the red and yellow, $10.50 for the green. Whaaa? I think I might have to grow my own.

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On the radio this afternoon the theme was, “What museums have you visited that are out of the ordinary?”

I’d list three that I’ll never forget visiting, although there are more:

  1. George Frideric Handel’s house in London. It’s very close to Grosvenor Square, the location of the US embassy. I stumbled across it, so to speak, in 2008. The thing I remember most clearly is the squeaking floor. It’s a wood floored house of about four stories and the noise when I walked, slowly and carefully across the floor was embarrassing. Even so, I’m very happy that I’ve been there, as Handel is one of my favourite composers. I was surprised to read a plaque on the house next door, saying it was where Jimi Hendrix lived for a time in the 1970s. I didn’t go into that one, but at least I’ve seen it.

2. Duxford Air Museum, Cambridge: I wouldn’t have known about this one, but my good friend Keith insisted I should visit if I got the chance in 2008, and I’m glad I made the effort. It involved a bus ride out into the Cambridgeshire countryside and a lot of walking, but the thing is, it contains a Concorde, a U2 spy plane and a B52 bomber, inside a hangar! You can imagine how big the hangar must be if it contains aircraft of this size. Those are just a few of the most famous planes. I was able to enter and walk through the Concorde. I also saw an F111, an F4 Phantom, a V bomber and others. Best of all, I got to touch them. I’ve run my fingers down the titanium skin of the U2. I’ll never forget that.

3. The Beethoven Haus, Bonn, Germany. As someone who reveres Beethoven as the greatest composer who ever lived (no, not Mozart, not for me), I’ll never forget being in the very room where he sat.

I’ve been to many other museums but those are the ones that spring to mind.

(Notice the inconsistent paragraph styles above – this blog is a hopeless word processor. I can’t work out how to make paras 2 and 3 look like paragraph 1. Duh!)

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Well, this was a surprise. I’ve mentioned how the boot on the Peugeot won’t open and while poking around inside looking for the fuse box, I found that it has a Clarion 6 disc CD changer! I’ve had the car for a year but I hadn’t realised it was there.

I loaded the caddy up with discs and it works fine. Being a French car, the disc listing on the console LCD seems to be in reverse order to me, but that can’t be helped. What a bonus – I can play CDs in the car now. There is a CD slot in the dash of course, but it won’t take a disc, so I assumed it has one stuck inside.

I’m torn – the Chinese make a complete plug-and-play drop-in replacement radio/CD/DVD/GPS unit designed specifically for Peugeot. This is what I’ve got now:

This is what you get:

It integrates completely with the car, giving touch screen control of all the car’s functions including the parking sensors. I want it, but unfortunately the price is $635. I’m not sure that I’ll hold onto the car and obviously this radio is not transferrable to any other car, so it would have to go with it. I suppose I could add it onto the price I sell at. Hmmmm.

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I was at the doctor last week for yet another urine test, to see if the bug has finally been squashed, and I asked about the COVID Vax 4/Fluvax. He said they haven’t been told anything yet. But I got a text on Friday that the Fluvax is available now. I’ll have it, as I always do.

One thing after another!

What is this? Missiles firing.

Oh, woe is me. More car troubles. First, my left front tyre on the Pug (Evie) is going flat and I’m getting a “Tyre deflated” warning in the dash. I don’t know why – it must be a slow puncture. I noticed it at the shops and it got me home OK, and it’s not actually flat, but …

OK, so I need to open the boot to change to the spare wheel (if it comes to that). But, I don’t know how it’s happened, the boot has closed and latched itself and I still can’t open it by the press button switch! That means I’m back where I started last week, having to squirm inside via the back seat. I’ll have a go myself this time. Maybe. Maybe it might have to be the RAC guy. I still need to get them out for a battery for the Honda-san.

That means out of three cars, I may not have a working one at the moment (one’s away on loan). I’ve got to sell two of them! Owning three cars is ridiculous when I rarely drive anyway.

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I’ve been on a shopping (groceries and beer) trip and as I was walking out to the car I heard a young boy singing:
Oooh, eee, ooh ah ah,
Ting tang, walla walla bing bang
Oooh eee, ooh ah ah
Ting tang walla walla bing bang.

Do you remember that song? There are more words, that I can’t remember at the moment, but I was struck by hearing it coming from a boy of about 10 years of age. I used to know that from the late 1950s, early 1960s, yet it’s still around. I wanted to stop and talk to him about it, to ask him if he knows the words, but I was too busy pushing the trolley. Amazing, that it’s still a current song.

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Speaking of “the olden days”, on the radio they’re asking what we used to have for sandwiches then. Quite a few of the callers listed white bread sandwiches with tomato and cheese, of course. I can clearly remember how the very ripe, red tomato used to go soggy in the sandwich, which I loved.

The cheese then was almost always Kraft processed cheese in a silver (aluminium) foil block, which I also liked a lot. I think you can still buy it but I’m not sure. Except when a bit of the foil got incorporated into the sandwich, sending shooting pains through my teeth when I bit on it. It was “farm cheese” because it didn’t need refrigeration, because fridges were not common or very small then.

The bread was invariably white because that was all we knew about then. If I had my way, I’d still be eating it, but we’re put off by the bad health stories these days. Then “brown bread” came in, but it was really just white bread with a brown colouring to trick us into thinking it had health benefits. It did taste a bit malty, but that was just the colouring.

The other fillings were polony (I haven’t had that in decades!), fish paste, tomato and lettuce, sardines and of course, Vegemite. With nice, salty butter. YUM! I prefer Master Foods Pro-mite these days, but Vegemite’s still good.

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I’m reading the current issue of Silicon Chip magazine at the moment (I highly recommend it), and the main article is the history of the transistor. I’ve mentioned before that it parallels my life, because both began in 1947. The first working transistor was patented in December 1947.

By the time I began my working life in 1966, the first commercially available transistors, available over the counter, were just coming into use. The germanium OC71 was the first I remember, costing about a dollar or so (decimal currency had just started that year, too). Most of our equipment at Channel 7 was still valves (glass bottle “finger warmers”) and it was hard to keep going. We were forever pulling valves for testing on an Avo Valve Tester, trying to interpret the meters and gauges. Do I pass this valve or do I throw it away? Boring job!

Anyway, I recommend another article this month: a mini spot welder. If you’ve ever pulled a NiCad or Li-Ion battery pack apart, you’ll know that the cells are all connected in parallel by thin strips of nickel-steel, spot welded onto the ends of the batteries. You can pull them apart, but you can’t usually do spot welding at home.

This article describes a capacitor discharge spot welder suitable for home building for this type of job. I think it’s a brilliant idea and if I wasn’t so close to the end of my life, I’d build it.

I might also build the Battery Zapper project from a few years ago. When a lead acid battery is allowed to go completely flat (as is happening to me too often!), lead sulfate accumulates on the plates, stopping the lead-acid process and preventing charging. This “Zapper” applies high voltage pulses which shake or “zap” the lead sulfate off the plates and allow it to resume charging.

The problem is that a kit of parts costs between $75 – $90 and I can’t see that I would get enough use out of it to justify this cost. If I were younger ….

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I mentioned a few weeks ago that I need a battery automatic switch to automatically disconnect the battery when the voltage drops below a certain figure, e.g. 10V, to prevent this sulfation. I was going to suggest a Silicon Chip project, but I think I’ve found the ideal part.

I assume you put it in series with the positive lead. Around $60 … not cheap, but if it saves the cost of a $230 battery, it would be worthwhile. Hmmm.

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Reviewing

Amed, on the north-east coast of Bali. That’s sunrise in the east. © PJ Croft 2022.

Cloudy but fine. That’s the weather report but it’s also a brilliant advertising slogan for Coopers Ales. They let the beer ferment in the bottle and don’t filter it any further, leaving a small residue of yeast and hops in the bottom. Therefore the beer comes out cloudy. I love it, including the yeasty residue. It’s fine.

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Being a news junkie, I can’t help but be affected by all the terrible news coming from local sources (huge bushfires in WA this summer just gone, record heatwaves), terrible floods over east, the war in Ukraine, the pandemic and above all, climate change, environmental damage and species extinctions. There doesn’t seem to be much good news these days and although I shouldn’t say this, it makes me somewhat thankful that I don’t have many years left of my life. At 75, I’m very aware of the charmed life I’ve had, golden years of good, free education, good jobs and cheap accessible housing (relatively speaking).

I feel sorry for the young people born around the millennium, the Millennials. They have tough barriers to climb: expensive education, not bad job prospects but in mediocre careers if they’re without a degree, the worry of the Ukrainian conflict but worse, the aggression of China, the fear of a new world war, more pandemics, but worst of all, being priced out of the housing market. To be condemned to a lifetime of renting, with all its uncertainties, would worry me to hell.

As well, we, the Boomers and our predecessors and successors have damaged the climate and the environment so badly that it leads to despair.

As I see it, it’s my duty to make as small a footprint as I can, by recycling everything, only buying what I need, minimising waste, using solar power and driving as little as possible. At this late stage in my life, there’s not much more I can do.

Except support as many organisations which are trying to solve the problems, such as the Australian Conservation Foundation, WIRES (the wildlife rescue people), and so on.

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What a dilemma, though: something got me thinking about Bali this morning. That led to a couple of hours browsing Booking.com for hotels and reminiscing about the ones I’ve stayed in. At the same time, I’ve been browsing back through my blog (in a book, more on that in a minute) and recalling all the times I’ve had there.

The dilemma is that although I wish I could go back to Bali now that it’s open to tourists again, air travel is one of the big CO2 emitters contributing to global heating. We are being told to minimise air travel, preferably to no more than once every three years or less.

Yet, Bali depends on us spending our dollars there and they’re still struggling to survive. Hence the dilemma.

It’s really a futile argument because I just don’t think I can travel any more. I’m too weak and tire too easily these days. It’s so bad that I’m having trouble just coping around my house.

Anyway, my first choice of hotel, the Taksu Sanur, seems to be closed down. For how long, I don’t know. You can see it on Google Earth street view, with blinds over the entrance and a generally closed off appearance. What a pity, I enjoyed that hotel so much!

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I’ve finished reading Lost Bali volume 1 from cover to cover:

I’m impressed! When I first heard about this project, I was very sceptical that people would be able to write well enough, if the standard of their writing on Facebook was anything to judge by. Usually it’s atrocious writing – bad grammar, no attention to spelling, awful photos. I submitted an article as I didn’t want to pass up a chance, but I held low expectations for other writers.

How wrong I was. There is some absolutely beautiful writing, I’m ashamed to say better than mine. The ability of most of the writers to capture the mystical atmosphere, the magic, the smells (clove cigarettes) and sounds (wooden cow bells, gamelan orchestras) took me back in most pleasant ways.

I found it noticeable that the best writing was usually by women. They seem to have been more attuned to the magic and mystery with an ability to turn it into lyrical prose.

I found my writing is quite matter-of-fact by comparison. I told of several funny episodes and a couple of not so funny, but I wrote little of the magic atmosphere, probably because I was not that attuned to it. Bali has always been a holiday island for me, but not much more. I spent a lot of money and took many, many pictures, making some good friends over the years, but it wasn’t much more than that. This book shows me what I was missing. I urge you, if you have any connection with Bali, to buy and read the books. I have volume 2 on order and I eagerly await reading it. https://www.amazon.com.au/Lost-Bali-Stories-Leslie-Franklin/dp/057835781X/ref=sr_1_1?crid=23SIQKY2T2MDI&keywords=lost+bali&qid=1647771658&s=books&sprefix=lost+bali%2Cstripbooks%2C381&sr=1-1

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I mentioned that I’m reading my blog in a book. To explain, there’s a website called Blogbooker.com which takes the exported files from WordPress (or whatever) and formats them into a PDF file for you to download.

In my case, I told it to do the entire blog from its start in 2009 to now. This has resulted in a 4,011 page “book” of nearly 1GB in size. It’s not free; it cost me A$42 to register for one year. I regard that as good value, mainly for the backup it entails.

Wow, the memories it brings back, mostly good although a few bad. That’s life. I’ll try loading it into MS OneDrive or DropBox, although I think I’d have to pay for more space, in both cases. Maybe later.

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