Balls!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Huh?”, I said, “Touching?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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More coincidii

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Ford Probe

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

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Coincidences?

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

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

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

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SC430-2

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

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

 

What am I?

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To be continued.

King of the Sun

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

NASA Certificate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why?

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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.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-27/companies-profit-season-done-but-where-are-the-profits-going/9490032

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!

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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.

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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.

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Eureka!

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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.

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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.

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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.