What am I?

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


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


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

Answers later.


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

To be continued.


King of the Sun


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

NASA Certificate

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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



From the ABC: Profits up, wages flat: why workers aren’t sharing in the good times

A record 94 per cent of reporting companies produced a profit this year.

Key points:

  • Two-thirds of companies have raised dividends relative to a year ago
  • 94 per cent of companies listed on the ASX reported a profit in the February results season, the highest rate since the GFC
  • Wage growth continues near historic lows of 2 per cent a year

That is the highest number since the global financial crisis. But the rewards are not going to workers.

Instead, company executives are pocketing higher bonuses, and investors are reaping fatter dividends and other financial rewards.


I’ll tell you why workers aren’t getting pay rises. Because they won’t join and support their unions, that’s why. Why is it so hard to understand that joining forces with your fellow workers gets results? All the professionals, including the employers, have their unions – the Law Society for lawyers, the AMA for doctors, the CAI for employers, the MTA for metal industries, the Company Directors Association for guess who. If they belong, why won’t you?

Every other human endeavour, with the exception of some of the arts (e.g. painting, literature) requires teamwork. The employers, the Howard and the present right wing governments, have very cleverly persuaded employees that unions are bad and employers will treat workers fairly.

Well, it’s not true, is it? The evidence is totally clear. Upper management have been paying themselves handsomely, with HUGE bonuses, for the past ten years. Business conditions have been fantastic for the past 20 years. Yet it is never time for a decent pay increase for employees. Every ACTU application for safety net minimum wage increases is opposed by the employer groups (the employers’ unions!!)

Why won’t people belong to unions? First, they are cowards. They are so scared of being asked to strike that they run away. I should know: I was the union delegate and I saw this first hand.

Second, they don’t want to pay the union dues. First question I used to be asked, even in the days before the internet, was, “What’s it going to cost me?”They couldn’t see that just one pay increase won for them by the union would recoup their union fees for years! Stupid.

Just as no-one believes they should have to pay for movies or music any more, they want the union to do things for them for no cost. I spit. The cost is borne by the few who do belong and who do pay for their music.

Third, they are ignorant and stupid. They don’t know their rights, they don’t know what unions do, they don’t know how to deal with issues like this. And they can’t be bothered finding out.

For crying out loud, if you want pay increases and workplace justice, join your union!!

We must stop this!


I’m a member of GetUp, the organisation based entirely on donations and supporters to advocate for climate change mitigation, for example, to disseminate information and protest if necessary against seriously harmful issues, such as the Adani coal mine in Qld, among many other issues. I donate a small amount each week. The nasty right wing Turnbull government has come up with new legislation which could jail me for up to 10 years if I don’t get a legal document, renewable annually, to donate the amount I do.

The text below is from GetUp and I reproduce it here to warn you of the dark forces at work in this government. Suppression of dissent is one of the hallmarks of right wing governments. This government has been moving more toward authoritarianism for some time. The Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017 must be blocked and I have written to the WA Labor senators asking Labor to block this bill.


The legislation that the Turnbull Government is trying to pass (the Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform Bill) undermines our democracy by:

  1. Creating an unfair playing field in lobbying and advocacy. Civil society and charities are gagged while multinational corporations continue to have a free reign to spend up big buying political influence.
  2. Creating an illegitimate restriction on international philanthropy. Some issues are global. Climate change and infectious disease are borderless – and human rights are a universal concern. It’s perfectly legitimate for individuals or philanthropic foundations based outside of Australia to contribute to organisations inside Australia working to address these important issues. This legislation would prevent that. The Bill would also have a chilling effect on free political speech by forcing organisations to choose between international funding or political advocacy, with vague definitions of what constitutes advocacy, and harsh penalties (including up to 10 years in prison!) for getting it wrong.
  3. Attacking our fundamental democratic freedoms. The “GetUp clause” would rob GetUp members of their political independence by forcing GetUp to formally affiliate with one or more political parties, simply because of perceived policy similarities or shared campaign priorities. This is an attack on the right of GetUp members to engage in public discourse independent of any political party.
  4. Imposing significant compliance costs on charities. It forces charities to spend more of the donations they receive on administration rather than on the people they serve.
  5. Creating dangerous new subcategories for political campaigners and third party campaigners which creates two tiers of charities and paves the way for future draconian regulation.
  6. Gutting funding for small parties and campaigning organisations. The Bill forces donors to small parties and campaigning orgs to prove that their contributions are “allowable”, by providing a statutory declaration stating that they are a citizen or permanent resident, if their contributions exceed $250 in a single year. This would capture people who donate as little as $4.80 per week. The penalties for not complying with this unreasonable regulation are excessive, involving massive fines and jail terms comparable to offences like arms trafficking. This would effectively gut funding for organisations that rely on large numbers of small donations,and would further advantage large donors and massive corporations.

The bottom line is that the Bill will do nothing to fix the problems it is supposed to – while massively restricting the ability of ordinary citizens to participate in democracy and have a voice in Australian politics. Worse, the problematic features of the Bill are so deeply embedded in its drafting that they can’t be amended out of it. The Bill is fundamentally anti-democratic and must be rejected outright.




Can it be? I think I’ve found the reason for my insomnia – Tramadol, a drug I’ve been taking for the diabetic pain in my feet. I’ve said the insomnia has been slowly increasing over the past five years or more, and so has my use of that painkiller.

I’ve dropped it entirely now and I’ve been sleeping properly for the past week or more. Thank goodness! It was a major problem for me, really serious. Insomnia is not considered a major side effect of the drug, but it is there in the list.

I’m just using Panadol now and it seems to be enough.



I’m seven episodes into series two of The Crown on Netflix now. What a magnificent production! The casting is near perfect, all the actors seeming to resemble their characters and Clare Foy, playing Queen Elizabeth, conveying all the majesty and authority of the position. Matt Smith, the former Dr Who, plays Jookembra to a T. The Duke of Windsor character looks very much like the real duke.

Last night’s episode was about the former king’s dalliance with the Nazis before and at the start of WW2. I didn’t really know this, or the details of why he lived in Paris for the rest of his life. That’s the thing about this series: I’ve lived through it all, but I’ve never been clear about a lot of the history. The Suez crisis for example: I’ve always known about it, but only sketchily. Now I know.

Anyway, when this comes out on BluRay, I think I’ll buy it because I’ll watch it again. There are ten episodes per series and there are two series made so far, with series three being released in March. Thirty hours of top class TV, and it hasn’t even finished. There will be a series four, for sure.


Christo gun

This, ladies and gentlemen, is a member of the Australian Parliament. A member of the Nationals party. He thinks it’s a joke, that we shouldn’t take it seriously. It’s disgusting.

I wouldn’t call myself a greenie, but I support environmentalism and admire the Greens party members. He’s aiming at me, in other words.

A female member of the Greens party has shown a Twitter message she’s received after this which is too vile to be shown here (warning). It’s not worth repeating, but there’s no doubt that the man who sent it wasn’t joking.

Coupled with the poor behaviour of the leader of the Nationals, what a disgrace they are. The coalition are crumbling, disintegrating. As a political commentator said last week, all Bill Shorten and Labor have to do is sit back and watch, and turn up on voting day.

Ironing’s done


Java10 Borob CU

Borobodur, Java

I had an iron infusion this afternoon. It’s part of my treatment for CLL, my iron levels being marginal low. Tired all the time. All my other tests were fine, so there’s nothing major wrong, but we’re hoping this will boost my energy levels.

Crumbs, it was a big 300ml bag of dark brown fluid and it looked like an infusion of Guinness. Wish it was. I felt nothing except a strong need to face North when it was finished. I guess I’d better keep clear of MRI machines and magnetic strips for a while 🙂

The haematologist said he’ll want to work out where the iron has gone if it’s low again at the next test in three months. That might mean a gastroscopy or (another) colonoscopy, or even swallowing a camera. Yeah, a colour TV camera small enough to be swallowed, that transmits to a recorder outside the body as it goes through the gut. Amazing.

This was at Joondalup Hospital on a 37deg day and when I was leaving, I had to walk a fair way to the parking pay machine, then a fair way back to my car, only to be unable to find my keys. Gah! I figured they must have fallen out of my pocket in the chair while having the infusion, so I tramped all the way back in the heat. Nope, no keys by the chair. Then I felt in my pocket again and there they were, deep down under my hankey! Grrr.

But it’s an ill wind … as I was leaving, the receptionist said it’s lucky you came back, because she forgot to get me to sign the HBF costs form. Yep.


Chapel Cambridge 52

King’s College Cathedral, Cambridge   (C) PJ Croft 2008, 2017

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I’ve signed up for Netflix pay-TV, (something I never thought I’d do, pay-TV that is). I dragged my feet setting up the network connection because I could get it on the laptop, enough to check it out. The first month was free anyway.

A few mornings ago, I set up the network connection on my DVD-HD recorder, which is specifically sold as Netflix compatible, as is my TV. After a hassle with my N/F password, I was in like Flynn.

Well, not bad! I mainly wanted Netflix for The Crown, that magnificent production, and there it is, including series 2, which I’m watching most nights. It’s in High Definition and the quality is fine. When I first connected I was asked if I want a 4K connection for another $4 a month, on top of the $13.95 I’m paying now. Although I have 25Mb/s NBN, that’s not enough for 4K. Anyway, the quality I’m seeing in HD is fine.

I can hardly believe this: High Definition colour TV seemingly appearing from nowhere (i.e. not from an antenna), just by a radio transmission from the front room of my house to the recorder, which has no visible wi-fi antenna. Free of dropouts, completely reliable. Bazinga.

But wait, there’s more. On flicking through the available network channels, I found the Berlin Philharmonic channel. Amazing – hundreds of classical music performances by the BPO and other performers, thousands of hours, in HD and 5.1 stereo if you can use that. The only drawback is the cost – a bit over $22 per month, or $222.40 per year. I suppose that’s not too bad. You can also buy a week or a month at a time. Special live performances cost extra as well, as much as $40 for one evening’s concert.

I’m not sure if you can record this, or Netflix either. Many of the BPO live concerts start at 02:00 our time, so …

Yup, another year

Me train veranda

Who’da thought that Laughing Boy here would be 71 now?  (About 1951, age 4)

It’s that day again, 12 February. My 71st birthday. There’s nothing to distinguish this milestone except that I’m here to write this and it’s a prime number. Primes somehow seem ugly to me: 6 is neat, curvaceous, but 7 is boring, just two strokes. Oh well.

I’m writing this at 4.30am after another fruitless attempt at sleep (why do we say fruitless? I wasn’t seeking fruit). My sleep has been very erratic recently, many nights of fairly normal sleep, such as Saturday night, but then it’s back to insomnia again. Some days I sleep to excess.

Oh, damn!! I just remembered, there was a lecture about sleep disorders on Saturday and I forgot all about it. Damn. There doesn’t seem to be any cure for insomnia anyway, just the usual strictures about “sleep hygiene”, darkening the room and so on. How come I can drop off easily during the day when the room is quite bright, but not at night when it’s dark?

Anyway, I heard recently that kiwi fruit are a good sedative food, so I’ve just had one. Not tired yet.


I’ve been watching repeats of the US TV series on SBS, The Good Fight. It’s about a firm of lawyers in Chicago (who are almost all “people of colour”) who take up good causes, like union fights with employers. It’s good enough to watch twice, at least. I was hoping it was a second season, but no. Maybe that will come after the re-runs.

Anyway, the title’s been making me think: every series seems to play on The Good… for its title these days. As well as the above, we have The Good Doctor (on 7), The Good Wife, The Good Place, and I’m sure I saw The Good Men the other day. Not much imagination.


I watched a BluRay movie the other night called Life. Although it’s action packed and with fantastic sets, it’s just another take on Alien: a spacecraft returns from Mars and docks with the International Space Station. It brings a sample from Mars which seems to be a life form. Of course, they rush the examinations and it turns out to be growing exponentially, enough to grab and crush the tech’s hand and get out of the containment by breaking through his glove. It escapes from the isolation lab and starts killing the astronauts. It looks like an octopus.

All kinds of mayhem occurs until there are only two people left, a man and a woman, naturally. They realise they have to stop it from reaching Earth, so the guy sacrifices himself by luring it into his escape capsule with him, which he launches on a trajectory out into deep space, while the woman re-enters Earth’s atmosphere. Or does she? The capsule splashes down in the ocean somewhere near Thailand, by the look of it, but when the fishermen start to open the capsule door, we see that it’s the guy in there (there’s been a mixup) and he’s in the grip of the evil octopus and is pleading with them not to open the hatch. In vain, because they do open it. The end.

Very good space station shots, but the story line? Rubbish. Another Alien. Pah!


My eyes have settled down with their new lenses, but I’m afraid my distance vision is not as good as it was with glasses before my cataract operations. I can do without glasses for most things, including driving, but ironically, I can’t see all the detail that my fantastic 4K TV displays. I watch without glasses as my +2.0 reading glasses are not effective at the distance from the screen, but that distance is either too far or too close, I’m not sure. I’m sure I’m not getting the benefit of my luxurious ultra hi-definition screen, though, dammit.

I’m also noticing slight double vision. Typing this, wearing my reading glasses, I’m seeing a faint repeat of the text a millimetre above and slightly right of the main text. The surgeon said I have strong astigmatism, and suggested that needs further correction. In any case, I think I’ll have to go back to wearing bifocals full time. Not yet, I’ll give it more time, but…


With all the talk about having strong passwords these days, I started using a new password keeping program a few months ago, Dashlane. I’ve been using a program called Portable Safe for many years and it’s good, but Dashlane got such good reviews that I thought I’d try out the free version. Its strong point is that it recognises any place where you’re required to type in your name and/or email and any other data and supplies it, and offers to insert the password as well in the required field. It works very well. But when you don’t have to remember or look up passwords, you forget them!

It’s like the evil octopus in that movie, it gets a grip on you and you realise after a while that you have to keep using it. It offers to generate passwords for you, very strong ones, and once you’ve done a few of these, it has its grip.

In fact one of its features is that it will change every password for you to a new strong one with one click. I have over 200 passwords. If I use that feature, I think I’m locked in.

It stores all your passwords encrypted in “the cloud”, which is good, so when they offered a three computer licence for about $15, I took it. I’m hooked now.

It’s pretty easy to use, and works as advertised. It does save typing, and remembers numbers and such, so I recommend it.


I mentioned getting a new exhaust. Of course, the complete exhaust needed replacing, not just the muffler. $550! Yow! It was last replaced in January 2013 (in the midst of all my stressful moving house) and I’m pretty sure I remember it costing about $400 then, maybe $450. That’s a lot of price rise for five years. Can’t be helped.

Then I asked them to check my tyres (silly boy!). Two needed replacement, so that added to the bill – about $850 total. Urrrgh. Owning a car is expensive, but not having one is unthinkable. I might be banned from driving for medical reasons one day, so I’d better think about it.