Crash landing

Phew, it’s hot: 39deg today, forecast 41deg tomorrow, and similar on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. That’s very definitely a heat wave.

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I’ve just got home from three days (well, 2½ days) in Joondalup Hospital. On Sunday I was feeling my usual recent weakness and low energy. I got up from this chair and felt the light headedness and wooziness I’ve been feeling lately.

It passed after a few seconds so I walked out to the kitchen, through the gap between the kitchen bench and the glass cabinet.

Suddenly, within the space of a second or two, my knees buckled and my legs were gone from under me. I crashed to the floor (hence the title), my hard tiled floor. Luckily I went front first and wasn’t carrying anything, nor did I knock any glass down with me.

I lay there dazed for five minutes or so, thinking what to do. I’ve long known that due to my size, I can’t lift myself with my legs. I reached up to the sink and gave it a try, but no go.

So I just had to slide myself along the (tiled) floor to reach the lock on the front door, so I could let someone in, whoever I decided to call. It took me 45 minutes of sliding. I got the door unlocked and decided to call the ambulance, because I know they have a blowup chair that they slide under people like me to lift us up. Last time this happened, they told me that about a third of their calls are for this reason. (Another third of the calls are from drunks or deros hoping to get a free ride home or somewhere. If they manage to persuade the ambos, they get a bill for $450. Ha Ha.) I was able to pull my mobile phone down from the desk by its charging cable and I called 000 while lying on the floor.

Anyway, the ambulance turned up about 15 mins later with two guys, both named Ian, both Poms. They were very thorough, of course, making sure they knew what had happened and that nothing more serious was wrong (e.g. it might have been a stroke). They had to call another ambulance which carries the Whoopie cushion, the “Bouncy Castle”. That took another 15 mins. That worked a treat and got me up onto my feet again.

They decided, since I seemed a bit forgetful and confused at the time (I was a bit dazed and shocked), that they needed to take me to Joondalup ED. No worries. I had to grab the essentials, no spare clothes because I thought I’d be home the next day. Just CPAP bag, phone, meds, prescriptions and wallet. That was it.

I was taken into the ED on a stretcher and bed and after quite a wait, I was gently questioned about what had happened and a host of other things. That took until about 8.30pm, with lots of gaps and waits.

They decided to admit me overnight in view of my history and ailments. No problem for me. Oh, forgot to mention, I had caught and scraped the underside of my left upper arm and elbow on the kitchen bench. There was a bit of skin off and a huge bruise, and a scrape of one of my toes. Everyone looked at these and tsk tsked, but no-one did anything about it. It took until late yesterday for them to clean and dress these small wounds.

So I spent the evening with just one round of sandwiches to sustain me in the MAU, the Medication Assessment Unit on the first floor. I spent the night (Sunday) there, bored stiff and completely unable to sleep, partly because I found I’d forgotten to bring the tube with the CPAP machine, and also due to the endless noise just outside in the corridor. (Note to self: order spare CPAP tube(s). Luckily they’re quite cheap on Wish.com.)

Then yesterday, a succession of doctors and allied staff came and asked me about my diabetes meds and were discussing my blood pressure. It looks as if my blood pressure has been too low, hence the dizzy spells lately. But yesterday and today the diabetes educator talked to me about the insulin and tablets I’m on, and it has become clear that I was left completely in the dark and confused about what the two injections I use are for, and the tablets and what they do. I’m a bit annoyed that no-one explained these last year.

I’ve also been told I can stop taking my blood pressure medication, because I don’t need it – my BP stays OK without it. No more dizzy spells, I hope.

I also had a visit from a physio lady this morning (in the hospital) to talk about where I am regarding balance, steadiness, walking ability and so on. She was quite happy that I’m not a dodderer and offered to get me to come in to the hospital’s “gym” in about a month’s time for some personal treatment. Yum.

Forgot to mention, they asked me on Sunday if I wanted a public (Medicare) room, or a private room. I said private (I’ve never used the public system before). The lady said “Remember, that will be $250 due to your HBF Excess.” Uh oh! I’d forgotten that. “Can I avoid that?” “Yes, just choose a Medicare public ward.” OK, I’ll have that, I said.

But later on Monday they moved me upstairs and I was put into a single occupant, private room anyway. It was immaculate, like a 4 star hotel room. Ah, the blissful quietness. I mentioned this to the nurses and they said, “No, don’t say that, PLEASE! It’s like saying Macbeth in the theatre, it’s a curse. We don’t say the ‘Quiet’ word around here.” Oh, OK. What about if I said “COVID?” “Oh, that’s OK, we’re not scared of that (yet).”

So, after lunch and more talks with doctors and nurses, I was able to check myself out about 3pm and got a taxi home, in the 40deg heat. Ooooww. But the aircon’s on and the house has cooled down, so all’s right with the world. For now.

Happy New Year 2022

50 Happy New Year 2022 Wishes

The clock ticked over and we all feel different, don’t we? Don’t we? Nah, didn’t think so. Happy New Year, but it’s still the same year repeated ad infinitum. Just lie back and enjoy it.

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I stayed home and watched TV. I don’t have the energy to celebrate in physical ways any more. I did stay up until past midnight, though, so I was celebrating in spirit.

One thing I watched was the second last (I think it’s the second last) episode of The Good Doctor on Netflix. When I first learnt of this series I laughed. An autistic guy who not only becomes a doctor but a surgeon as well? It seemed far fetched, and it is, but it got me hooked. Shawn is a savant, capable of recalling an amazing array of facts and images (in TV land, of course) and has the telegenic knack of coming up with brilliant ideas on how to solve baffling illnesses and suggest surgical solutions.

But it’s the other actors that make the show work. There’s a range of interesting characters set in a big hospital in San Jose, California, who all have their problems and personality clashes. It’s quite a long series, about 50 episodes and there’s time for many different situations to develop and play out. Shawn has to learn to deal with girlfriends and he’s going through a crisis at the moment.

I admit to liking this improbable series, although all the patients seem to have crises at exactly the right moment, all the doctors are able to make instant diagnoses, an operating theatre always seems to be available at a moment’s notice and so on.

Then I watched the movie du jour, Don’t Look Up. It’s meant to be a comedy but I didn’t find it all that funny. It’s an allegory about global heating, set as the discovery of a 9Km wide comet heading straight for Earth and due to hit smack bang on in 6 months. About how the scientists can’t get anyone to take it seriously. About how the President of the USA is more concerned about her re-election chances than doing anything. The Prez is Meryl Streep, by the way, and we actually get to see her nude at the end, just before her head is bitten off by a dinosaur. Everyone else in the scene is nude too, and it’s set 22,746 years in the future, so that’s OK. 🙂

I’m also watching the series Emily in Paris, also on Netflix. The first series (which I’m watching) was panned horribly for being cliche-ridden, but as usual when a book or movie gets bad reviews, that’s my signal to watch or read and I usually enjoy it.

Yes, this is a bit horrible (gauche young American woman transplanted to Paris, unable to speak French), but I’m enjoying it so far. I’m about six episodes in, and I read that the second series is much better.

Ho ho ho

Merry Christmas Card by Red_Box | VideoHive

I forgot to wish you all, my readers, a very Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for the New Year 2022.

It’s been a difficult year for many people, although we’ve mostly been shielded from the virus here in WA. But just when we didn’t want to hear bad news, it’s slipped past our borders and there have been five cases so far discovered here in the past couple of days. Let’s hope our luck holds and, as happened earlier this year, it doesn’t break out any further.

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And I’m lamenting; even though we’ve hardly begun our summer, the summer solstice has passed and the days will be getting shorter from now on. It’s hard to believe, we’ve hardly had any hot weather so far. Can’t be helped.

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Holy smoke, I’ve just seen the forecast: tomorrow, Xmas Day, has been revised upwards another degree to 43degC, and Sunday Boxing Day is now set to be 44degC. Yowch!

The heat is on

Cool. Snow sliding, somewhere in Austria, 1974. © PJ Croft

Whoooo, it’s warming up. The forecast for Xmas Day a week ago was for 29deg, but they’ve been revising it upwards ever since. It was 35deg today, it’ll be 39deg tomorrow Xmas Eve, and it’ll be 42deg on Xmas Day. This is the way it was ten years ago, before a decade of moderate (high 20s, low 30s) temps.

Doesn’t worry me, solar power plus aircon means a very pleasant house.

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I’ve just come back from doing a small amount of food shopping for Xmas Day. The benefit of living in a small neighbourhood is that the shops are not very crowded. The local Coles carpark was pretty full, but I had no trouble parking To be honest, because there are no bays for seniors there, I use a Parents with Prams bay. I feel I’m just as entitled as they are, given as I struggle to get in and out of the car and have trouble walking these days.

I can’t get over all the people with trolleys full of bottled “mineral water”. There’s nothing wrong with tap water! If they were just wasting their money, I wouldn’t mind, but it’s the plastic waste that’s the problem. Hundreds and thousands of empty plastic bottles thrown out afterwards. I wonder how many people could really taste the difference between “spring” water and tap water. Ridiculous.

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My usual Silver Chain cleaning lady is off on holidays at the moment and today they sent a man in her place. I’m a bit disconcerted, not about the guy, about my attitude. To be frank, I don’t like having a man do my cleaning and I’m asking myself why. There’s only one obvious answer, that I find it demeaning for a guy to be doing a menial job for me. Whereas it’s not for a woman. That’s pretty sexist, I admit.

Yet I don’t find it demeaning for a guy to be cleaning toilets at the shopping centre or serving me at a supermarket checkout. I guess it’s because I’m used to those, whereas it’s new to be having a guy clean my house. Oh well, I’ll get used to this too.

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I had my COVID booster vaccination last Thursday, as I said, and had a slight bruised feeling afterwards but nothing more. But on Monday, four days later, I developed strong ‘flu feelings – mild fever, bad aches and pains and bad fatigue. I went back to bed at midday (on the bed, not in it, it’s too warm here to get under the doona) and slept for several hours. Up for some food, then bed at 9.30pm. Still felt fatigued on Tuesday but the other symptoms were gone. Much better yesterday and today.

The question is, was this a reaction to the vaccination (Pfizer)? Four days later? It seems unlikely. But who am I to know. I had to cancel a doctor appt on Wednesday for fear it was COVID or I could have asked him.

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I finally got the Verada going last week. It wasn’t the bad connection problem in the Martybugs article. The RAC guy did a great contortionist act and got his head right under the dash, but he couldn’t see a problem.

But he was familiar with this model and said it can be a small stepper motor in the fuel metering intake. He fiddled around and actually got it going. but it was running roughly, so it was onto a tow truck and off to their workshops.

It turned out to need a new mass airflow meter assembly. Actually, a new one would have cost around $650 but they sourced a used one for about $290. So all up with labour, $371.

How odd that this should go wrong just at the time I was planning to sell it. Unfortunately, it’s not finished yet – the tow truck guy pointed out that the two back tyres need replacing, and the mechanic pointed out fairly bad oil leaks from the camshaft cover gaskets. The front one on the V6 is not too expensive to replace, but the back one needs the exhaust manifold removed to get at it, which is labour intensive. To do both would be around $650. Damn,

I only paid $1,200 for that car and all the things I’ve done since are starting to add up. I doubt I’ll get my money back. I don’t know what to do now.

Boosted!

Queen Victoria Building (QVB) in Sydney. © PJ Croft 2021

Wow, rain, and more rain. Even in summer, the rain continues from the wettest October on record. We had a heavy shower yesterday afternoon and a lot more last night. It looked threatening this morning but seems to have fined up to a beaut day now, 23deg.

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I had my COVID vaccine booster yesterday, so I’m triple vaccinated now. The first case of the new virus variant has appeared in Perth, so it looks like we might be hit soon. Our borders open on 5 February, so the other strain(s) will arrive soon afterwards. I really, really don’t want to catch it.

Actually, my Pfizer vaccination yesterday was so painless and so quick that I wonder if I’ve really had it. I hardly felt anything, and the nurse seemed to hide the needle after it was done. I wonder if it actually happened. I had to go to the pharmacy afterwards and asked if they do the Moderna vaccine. Yes, she said. I wonder, if I waited a month or so, whether I might have that too. I know I’m being ultra cautious but not unnecessarily so, I think. I’ll ask the GP.

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I also had a haircut yesterday, the first since January. At that time, the lady hairdresser advised me to ask for no. 3 next time, so that’s what I asked for at a new barber near me. Wow, I got shorn! It was all over in less than five minutes and I look like a newly buzzcut army recruit. There was no styling, no shaving around the nape of the neck. It’s lucky hair grows back.

The good part was that they only charged me $15. I think I’ll be a bit more careful what I ask for next time, though.

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I was put on a new regime of diabetes drugs in October and wow, they are working. My morning blood glucose readings are now down into the normal range (4 – 8 mmol/ml) now. I even had a 4.6 reading a couple of days ago. That’s nearly into hypo territory, although I didn’t feel anything.

The evening readings are still too high, but way down on what they were. I get 11 – 19 mmol/ml, way outside the 4-8 range, but much better than up to now.

The downside is weight gain. Ugh! I’ve gained around 5Kg in the past three months. My diet hasn’t changed, it’s all down to the other two new drugs, Jardiance and gliclazide. I try to eat as little as possible, skipping lunch on many days, but that doesn’t seem to help. Ugh.

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I’ve finally got around to tackling the Mitsubishi Verada’s starting problem. Or rather, I got the RAC onto it. Their mobile mechanic got under the dash (wow, what a magnificent contortion he did to get under there), in a look at the connector mentioned in the Martybugs article, but to no avail. Then he looked at the throttle air assembly and reckoned there’s a small stepper motor in there which sets the fuel/air mix. It goes wrong. He adjusted it manually (with a screwdriver, that is) and got the car running, but it wasn’t idling properly.

So it was time for the tow and a truck arrived to take it to the Joondalup workshops where it is still. They phoned me this morning and said they can get a used throttle assembly locally by this afternoon, for an all up price including labour of around $350. Go ahead, I said.

I’ve also asked them to look at the power steering fluid leak. No news on that yet.

As well, the tow driver pointed out that both my rear tyres are no longer legal. So there’s another $250 or so to get new tyres.

I’m beginning to wonder if I shouldn’t sell the Honda MDX and hold onto the Verada. It’s such a nice car to drive. I should be able to pick it up this afternoon, they said. Hmmmm. I don’t need a 4WD, whereas I do need a station wagon.

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I mentioned the book The Wild Silence by Raynor Winn. It’s the successor to The Salt Path, her story of walking the coastal path from near Bristol to Land’s End, then to Portsmouth. That was a brilliant read and I had high hopes for her next one.

I give The Wild Silence 9/10. Not quite as good as the first book, but still a good read. She’s a born writer. She wrings poetry out of every scene.

The first section is rather dark, describing the slow death of her mother in hospital and interweaving descriptions of her childhood and her father. It’s rather gloomy but tells you why she is the woman she is now, introverted and agoraphobic.

Then we move on to the story of how they come to be managers and restorers of a farm in Cornwall, near Polruan. The owner is a London financial type who wanted someone to “re-wild” his hobby farm, to bring it back to the state it was in before it was farmed to death. Voila, they make a deal. No money changes hands, they get rent free living in a house on the farm in return for doing the work. This is right up Ray and Moth’s alley, just what they wanted.

But just before this falls into their laps, she describes her writing process, how she came to write the first book, The Salt Path, and how it came to sell much better than she expected, such that they make a steady income from it.

After they get the farm back up and mostly rewilded, that generates enough income that they want to go walking again, mostly for Moth’s health. So they choose a strenuous walk in Iceland. Bloody ‘ell, of all places, when Britain offers so much.

The rest of the book, then, about the last quarter, is description of their Iceland walk. To be honest, it wasn’t that gripping. I found myself skipping ahead a bit. I still rate it a great read, though. Thoroughly recommended.

Fitting

Semeru © PJ Croft 2021

The news is telling of the eruption of Mt Semeru on Java. The small smoking cone at left in the distance above is Gunung (Mount) Semeru. It’s pronounced Sem-AIR-oo, emphasis on the middle syllable, not SEM-a-roo as all the TV newsreaders are saying. How do I know? I’ve heard the Indonesians saying it.

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OK, Summer’s really here. It’s hot! It’s 40deg today after 33C yesterday. I was going to do some work on the Verada which is parked out in the lane, in the sun, but it’s too hot. Burn fingers hot. I’ll leave it until Friday when it’s forecast for 25deg.

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You have to chuckle. Watching a news report last night about scammers and the millions they’re hauling in from the gullible, the lead detective’s name is Detective Phair. And another detective is named Ken Gamble. Unfortunately, the people who thought they were having a phair gamble with their life savings soon found out the crooks don’t play by the rules.

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Weather stations -the one on the left is from Jaycar at $399. The one on the right is also from Jaycar, a more modest $139.

This one’s from the Wish web site at $39. I know which one I would buy. if it’s inferior and dies prematurely, it’s no great loss. Sorry Jaycar.

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Another great graphic from http://www.crispian-jago.blogspot.com The guy is a genius.

© crispian jago. I highly recommend a look at his web site. There’s more humour of this kind.

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Another whopper from the wish.com web site:

999,000,000 lumens! Wow.

A lumen is the unit of light output, so they’re using it correctly. But 1 Billion lumens is very hard to believe.

A 6 Watt LED globe is 450 lumens approx. A 300 Watt PAR incandescent lamp (those big conical things, the type used for outdoor lighting) is 4000 lumens and that’s pretty bright.

So this torch is supposed to be equivalent to around 250,000 PAR lamps? I don’t believe it!

I will believe it’s incredibly bright, with the emphasis on incredibly, meaning not believable. Anyway, it’s quite cheap, around $14, so I’ve ordered one. Its main use for me will be protection. I carry it in my bag and if threatened, I shine it in the face of the attacker. It would distract him enough for me to get away. And I wouldn’t face any charges of carrying a deadly weapon. That’s the theory, anyway.

Faaassst!

Digital image sensor. Magnificent!

Aaaah, summer. A beautiful day, cloudless blue sky, calm and 32degC max. Luvverly.

My friend is in Austria and she sent me the view from her window:

Austria.

It looks nice to us, but I’m sure it’s less pleasant if you have to trudge through it. Or shelter from it.

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My title today refers to a PayPal transaction. In August I placed a web order for an electronic device from China (I blogged about it at the time, a “digital telecine”). The price was US$67 or approx. A$97 and I paid by PayPal.

Well, it was one of those “too good to be true” items and nothing arrived, no goods. I sent an email a week ago asking what’s the deal? As expected, I got no reply.

OK, I thought, let’s see how PayPal will help. So about 5pm today I filled out the “Problem” form on PP, and to my amazement, in seconds, within 10 seconds anyway, I got a notice to say my issue has been resolved and I have a refund of the full amount. Brilliant!

This was not a trivial amount – A$97 was a bit too much to just shrug my shoulders. I am impressed! Thank you, PayPal. I use them for almost all my transactions and this is the first time I’ve needed to complain – this is great.

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I’ve just placed yet another order for a new Li-Ion battery for my Sony Clie PEG-NZ90 hand held PDA (Personal Digital Assistant).

I’ve been trying to get this battery for the past couple of years, but they seem to be as rare as rocking horse shit. In the past few years I’ve ordered from four or five suppliers in NZ, New York, Canada, the UK and somewhere else but each time, my order was cancelled and thankfully, my money was refunded. Strangely, the NZ guy said he didn’t post to Australia. Huh?

Anyway, once again I’ve found a supplier in the USA (what did we do before Google?) and ordered two at US$7.95 each, plus $15 p&p. Let’s see how we go this time.

The original battery (I only ever had one) started swelling up and wouldn’t hold a charge, back in the late ’00s. I don’t really want to use the device, but it’s a very neat machine and I reckon there are people around the world who’d like to own one for nostalgia reasons. I’ve seen one advertised on eBay for US$285! I’ve still got all the bits – manuals, CD with software, charger, earpieces, cords and so on, the complete set. I can’t remember exactly what I paid. It was from the Sony Shop in Murray St in 2003 and I think it might have been around $800. Wow.

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Look at this!

No, it’s not scratched film. It’s a shot of the night sky using a telescope, and this is what astronomers have to put up with now. These are the very bright light trails from a new group of satellites put into orbit by SpaceX, Elon Musk’s company.

Amazingly, these are just the latest thousand approx. of around 12,000 satellites that he is planning to put into orbit, to provide world-wide internet coverage. At his profit, of course.

The thing is, there are no rules or laws to regulate who can put satellites into orbit or how many! As you can imagine, astronomers are livid. This is going to spoil earth-based astro-photography and telescope observations forever more. Unless someone can take these satellites out of orbit, which is very unlikely. One man, one company can spoil astronomy, and no-one can stop him!

The only answer is for astro-cameras to be placed into orbit outside the orbit of these small bright satellites. That will be hugely expensive, and who will do it?

There’s one bright prospect: the James Webb Space Telescope, the successor to the Hubble Telescope, is to be finally launched from the Guyana launch site in the next few weeks. This promises to be a fantastic addition to our view of the universe and it’s been decades in the making. I fear for it, though. It is a huge job and incredibly risky and expensive. The lift-off will be in a few weeks, but once it reaches Earth-orbit, it then has to be tested, then boosted to a Lagrange point, where the gravitational pull is equal between Earth and the Sun. This is around 1/3 of the distance between Earth and the Sun and means the telescope will be much too far away for repairs if anything goes wrong.

Once it gets there, a few months from now, the satellite’s sails (solar panels) have to be deployed, then the huge mirror optic has to unfold and lock into place before it starts to work. The potential for something to go wrong is huge, and if it does, it’s hard to see how it could be fixed. There are going to be some very nervous NASA people for the next few months.

But assuming it all works, WOW! We will be able to see the universe with something like 100x the resolution of Hubble, and that was pretty amazing. I can’t wait.

Next day: completely by coincidence, this superb article explains it all much better than I can – https://www.quantamagazine.org/why-nasas-james-webb-space-telescope-matters-so-much-20211203/?utm_source=pocket&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=pockethits The drawings and diagrams are excellent. I highly recommend the article, it’s long but worth reading.

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I’m very happy to see the end of the political career of the member for Pearce (my federal electorate). This is a guy who showed from his early university law course that he is arrogant, misogynist and boastful. He grew up in a Liberal Party family and thought he was destined for a great career. Unfortunately he put his boasts in writing.

He was elected to the WA state parliament, then moved to federal politics and soon made attorney-general. But his boastful, sexist past came back to bite him, unfortunately involving the suicide of a talented woman. He is not accused of her death, but there’s no doubt that mud stuck.

He’s been forced to give up his high ambitions and is quitting federal parliament. Good result, as far as I’m concerned. It just reinforces the lesson I learnt in life, if you do wrong things, it will come back to bite you. Nothing more sure.

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Canon Pro 1 digital camera.

This is the inside view of one of the first all-in-one digital cameras, the Canon Pro-1. It was one of the first, in the early 2000s, with a high quality zoom lens fixed to a body with a 12MPx digital sensor.

Mmmmm

Yacht and Rottnest Island, 1983. © PJ Croft 2021.

We’ve skipped Spring this year and Summer’s arrived. It was 36deg on Saturday, hot enough to be very careful when you open the car to get in. Hot door handle, hot steering wheel. Car air-con on, but you find it’s ineffective.

However, it’s lovely. I like Summer. May there be more of it. With global heating, I think there will be.

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Bullshit Department:

Laboratory peak 20000W? That’s 20 Kilo Watts! “China Power: 2000W”. That’s 2KW. This is the Chinese Wish website. They are outright liars. This is just one example. Many, many items are shown at a cheap price, but as soon as you click on it, the price jumps anywhere from 10% to 50% extra. Or the cheapest colour in a range happens to be “SOLD OUT”, but all the other colours are more expensive. Oh too bad, there are still good buys, and I just ignore the bullshit ones. You just have to accept that they exaggerate like hell.

Very Good Idea Department:

A Lithium Battery Bike Tyre Pump. I don’t ride a bike, but if I did, I would jump at this. Great idea. There’s a range of them, anywhere from $21 to $81. Those are Aussie dollars, GST included, postage extra. Despite the bulldust, there are some good products on Wish.com.

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For example, they have a great range of pre-built electronic modules, such as this “radar body sensing” board.

arduino, humanbodyinduction, motion, Radar
You get the two for $2.45 plus p&p. Good value!

Don’t knock it, it means a device to detect when a human body is close, such as in a lift to make the doors close, or near anything that needs to operate when you come near. But, get the instructions:

Application Design Note:
1, the sensing fac
e in front of the gold without any shelter.

That’s Chinglish. Yeah, right. If I were to make a product to be sold in China 🙂 I would get a native Mandarin speaker to translate my instructions.

And look at this!

Mini, classd, Amplifier, Module

That’s a 2 channel, 15W per channel audio amplifier on that tiny board, priced at $2.97 +p&p. That’s a very useful device and terrific value. I’m sure the watts are Chinese watts, but watt the hell.

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I’m not feeling too good these days. Weak, tired, and my lower back is killing me. I can’t get through a supermarket visit without needing to sit down, which is near impossible in the supermarket. I had to sit on a pile of cans in Woolies on Saturday. It seems to have coincided with a big change in medication a couple of months ago. Not just one but three meds were changed. It will be a tough one to work out if it is the cause because I need those meds. They’ve worked wonders for my blood sugars, almost halving the readings so I need them. The readings are still above the norms, but much safer than before.

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I’ve just got home from a “Bullshit Brekky” with a couple of photo-dawg mates at North Beach. That was the first time in three months for various reasons and it was good. I need that, I need someone to talk to. I’d do it every week but I can’t persuade the other two. One is recovering from Ross River Virus, among other ailments and is quite frail. The other is 83 and seems to always be busy. Pffffftt.

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I called in to Clarkson shops for lunch on the way home and while I was there, thought I’d have a haircut. It would be the first since January, my hair is down over my shoulders and quite frazzly.

The only men’s barber has closed up shop there (among many others which have closed lately!) so I went to a women’s salon where I’ve had a cut before, especially on “pensioner Tuesdays”. I sat down in the chair and told her I wanted a no. 3, quite short. Luckily for me, she said, “That will be $32.50 today.” before she started. I said “What? $32.50?! I’m used to paying $20-$22.” She said, “It’s a no. 3 cut and will involve styling.” What? How much styling can there be when I just want it cut short? It did me no good, she didn’t offer me any lower price, so I said, “No thanks, I’ll leave it” and left.

What a silly attitude. She could have made $22 for a simple short men’s cut, but she’d rather make nothing. There were no queues, no-one waiting in line.

So now that there are no men’s barbers there, the other salons think they can hike their prices like this?

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Likewise, we’ve heard about price rises for groceries. Well, believe it, because the rises are not just 5% or 10%, they are 33% to 50%. Not everything, of course, and I don’t have to buy the more expensive items, but this is the return of inflation.

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While I was there I tried to use the SafeWA check-in app on my phone and just got a grey screen. Huh? I tried rebooting my phone but no go. Now that I’m home, it seems there was a software failure on the government computer that runs it. Aha.

The man who crippled the NBN

Palace Hotel Perth, 1980 before “redevelopment”. © PJ croft 2021

Aaaah, Spring has finally sprung and it’s hot! I’m going shirtless (lucky I live alone!) and I’ve got the fans on. It reached 32C today, not enough for aircon but it’s forecast to be 35C on Saturday. Nice.

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Secret figures reveal Coalition’s cut-down NBN tech three times more expensive than forecast

Exclusive: National broadband network ended up costing almost as much as estimated cost of full-fibre plan (The Guardian 25 Nov 2021)

Malcolm Turnbull at a national broadband network photo opportunity in 2016

Malcolm Turnbull ordered a review into the NBN in 2013 which led to changes to the Labor plan to roll out fibre-to-the-premises for 93% of homes. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP Josh Taylor@joshgnosis

The technology in the Coalition’s cut-down version of the NBN cost up to three times more than originally forecast and was closer to the initial estimated cost of a revised version of Labor’s full-fibre plan, according to figures the government has sought to keep secret for almost a decade. (My emphasis)

Yes, Malcolm Turnbull was desperate to find a point of difference from Labor’s NBN plan. He labelled it too expensive and too slow to be installed. So he mandated that we were to have the “fibre to the node” (FTTN) instead. The high speed, high capacity fibre would be run to metal boxes in the streets which were already used for copper phone wires and the high speed data would be sent to our houses on our existing copper phone wires. He said this would cost far less than the original fibre to the home (FTTH) plan and be installed more quickly.

There’s only one problem: neither came true. As the article above says, the FTTN, Turnbull’s plan, ended up costing just as much as FTTH, and it’s an inferior service! Australia ranks around 59th in the world broadband speed rankings. I’ve only got 25Mb/s (mega bits per second) which is OK but nowhere near that of Singapore or South Korea or New Zealand. All these countries went for the best fibre connections and get around 100Mb/s average. Fibre is capable of 1,000Mb/s (1Gb/s) under good conditions.

Instead in Australia we are lumped with corroding copper twisted pairs in ducts that fill with water at times.

Example of Telstra duct near my place. Does this look like a place fro hi-tech fibre?

What is it about this country? We come up with good ideas, good plans, but someone always steps in and wrecks it. I heard Andrew Forrest say the other day, that “Australia has great ideas, but we try them after we’ve tried every other bad idea first.” I agree. I despair.

The result is that we are having to re-do large parts of the network, and large areas still don’t have reliable internet connections, nearly ten years after Turnbull changed Labor’s plans.

In the meantime: Malcolm Turnbull, the man who single handedly wrecked Australia’s fibre optic cable network!!

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I’m pretty unhappy to report that I’ve been gaining weight, about 3Kg in the past three months. I know why.

The beer companies have come up with a new marketing tactic. They’ve increased the alcohol content from an average of 4.5-5.0% to 6.0-7.0% in selected labels, new labels. But because this attracts a higher excise duty, they package the cans in four packs, at a price of between $20 – $24. So instead of getting six cans of normal (5%) beer at $20, or $3.33 per can, we suckers who develop a taste for the higher alcohol content are paying $5 to $6 per can.

And because I weigh every day, and put the results into a graph, I can see how my weight started trending upwards a few months ago after I discovered this higher alcohol beer. My fault! I don’t have to buy it, but it gets me hooked.

Smart marketing.

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On 8 August I ordered a digital telecine, a Super 8 film scanner:

NB – this is a US company’s ad. I didn’t pay $446.

The one I paid for looks identical but I only paid US$69.18 (A$98.11) to an advertiser in China. That now looks to be an entity called DAWEI, which is a very common Chinese name. I’ve managed to find an email address ppyx7@outlook.com which looks pretty anonymous to me.

I never got a receipt or any other email confirmation at the time, and nothing has arrived. I’ve whacked off a “please explain” email to that address and given them 24hrs before I report them to PayPal, which is how I paid. Wish me luck. This will be my first time testing PayPal’s complaint handling service.

The device above is US$299 in the USA. I still want one, but that’s too expensive. I only have three large reels of film which I haven’t seen since I shot it in the 1970s. But once that’s done, I will have no more use for the device. Can’t justify spending big money when I can get the film digitised by a place in Perth for probably about the same amount – $400 – $500.

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The Prime Minister (Scott Morrison, aka Scummo) is showing his disgusting colours again. This week a Liberal member of federal parliament “crossed the floor” and voted with Labor to bring on debate about a federal anti-corruption commission. Unfortunately it failed due to a technicality.

So now Scummo has called this member, a woman! into his office for a discussion. He had two other senior cabinet members with him. You can imagine what that conversation was like.

And yet, another Liberal, a bloke called George Christensen, made an incendiary speech where he directly compared the Labor state premiers of Queensland, Victoria and WA to Pol Pot, Hitler and Stalin. And he called for “civil disobedience”, meaning for people to defy the laws of these states for mandatory vaccinations.

Did he get a talking to? Of course not. He’s just regarded as a naughty boy, and boys will be boys in Scummo’s world. Morrison is very similar to Donnie Trump in that he thinks people who defy the law and call for state Labor premiers to be hung or decapitated are fine people who are entitled to protest.

PM Scott Morrison once again shows it’s one rule for the boys, and another rule for the “girls”. He’s a misogynist through and through, no matter how much he protests. Disgusting.

Closer and closer

Mandurah storm front, March 2002. Fujifilm 6x9cm transparency. © PJ Croft 2021

A fine Spring day, 30deg, and yet the forecast is for rain and possibly small hail – but only in the eastern and southern suburbs. Hail? In Spring?

Which reminds me, there was a map of the whole country (Australia) showing a high probability of well above average rain in the next few months. It shows that almost the whole of Australia will get it – except – you guessed it, the South West of the continent, yes, the south west of Western Australia. We miss out again.

It’s a mixed blessing, living here. We’re spared the droughts and fires and floods on the east side, but our rainfall is about half what it was 40 years ago. The change occurred quite suddenly, in 1977. I can remember it because I made a trip to the UK that year and I told a few Pommies in bars that we went for three months with not a drop of rain that summer.

At the moment we get most of our drinking and washing water from two sources: underground aquifers, and desalination plants. But there has been a news story in the last few days saying we have to get used to using even less water, because the underground sources are being used up faster than they’re being replenished, even though we’ve just had the wettest October on record. But it’s not enough.

I’m doing my bit – I’ve stopped showering 🙂 No, not really, but as I’m not perspiring and don’t need to satisfy anyone’s olfactory sense except my own, I’ve cut showering to every third day or so, about twice a week. It’s fine, I don’t pong. I’ll step it up as the weather gets hotter and I perspire more, though.

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I have around 1100 – 1200 CDs which I have “ripped” to folders on a hard drive, so that rather than physically get a disc, put it in a drive and press a button to play it, I use software on the computer.

I use a freeware program called MusicBee ( https://getmusicbee.com/ ). (This picture below is from MusicBee’s web site – it’s not my music collection.)

musicbee music management software interface

I was using another program called Helium, ( www.imploded.com ) which I liked, but they’ve just dropped support for Windows 7, so it’s goodbye from me. They do give a free version which is sort of OK, but when you try to click on a feature, it tells you you have to buy the full version. Yeah. I did actually pay for the full version a couple of years ago, but with the next upgrade I found I would have had to pay again, so they lost me.

I know I’m slow to upgrade Windows on this desktop machine but Win7Pro 64bit does everything I want at the moment and upgrading is too difficult. I know there’s a way to get the Win10 upgrade for free, but you have to update the motherboard BIOS first and it never seems to be the right time.

Anyway, back to the topic, MusicBee. This is the main interface screen:

The column on the left is the alphabetical list of every music folder (at the location I’ve specified). I tell it to scan E:\Music\MusicCDs and away it goes. Notice that “Beatles, The” shows that it contains 12 albums, meaning it groups artists with the same name in one group. My biggest collection is Mozart with 33 albums (i.e. CDs) matched by J.S. Bach with 33 and Beethoven with 26. (The grey Bee image is where it can’t find a real image.)

Notice how each CD has an image of the CD cover with it. I love this – so colourful. I don’t have to generate those images, the program either takes the small image dropped into the folder when the CD is ripped, or if it doesn’t find one, it goes out to the web and finds one itself. Brilliant. You can edit any listing and substitute any image you want, of course.

The centre panel shows all the covers in a particular folder, in this case Beethoven. Click on any cover image and you get a list of the tracks.

Double click on a cover image and it will play the whole album. Double click on any single track and it will play just that track.

But on the right is a column showing it’s in DJ mode, which plays a random selection from all your folders. It’s endless and never repeats, which means I’m enjoying everything from Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 27, first movement at the moment to Bill Haley’s Rip It Up (appropriate) to Bridge Over Troubled Waters and so on.

My reason for writing is that one of the tracks played about an hour ago was xxxxxxx, in other words I can’t remember the title. It’s what’s called semi-classical, very choral, but not by any well known composer.

The thing is, the title is a well known one and it’s just at the edge of my consciousness. Each time I try to recall it, it comes just a little bit closer, but it won’t reveal itself. There, I nearly had it just then. If I recall it before posting this, I’ll write it in. Damn, it’s just hanging there …

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My reason for writing the above, about a fading memory, is that at age 74¾, I’m finding it harder to recall things. I’ll get them eventually, but it’s not quite as instantaneous as it used to be.

I’ve noticed for many years that stress kills my memory recall, for me. By that I mean any kind of pressure, overt or not. For example I was sitting in the doctor’s surgery last week to get some reissued prescriptions. Usually I can summon up the names, both the generic name and the chemical name, straight away, e.g. Pradaxa – exenatide; Pravachol – pravastatin; Lyrica – pregabalin; Ryzodeg – ryzodeg. Ha ha. Easy one that one.

I really want to write my memoirs, or autobiography, whichever you want to call it, while I still have the memories, but they’re slowly fading, just a little bit, and I can’t get started!

I had an idea a couple of months ago – I need to imagine I’m telling my life story to someone else. I reckon I can do that. It’s all there and it spills out when I start. It’s just starting that’s the hard part. I wouldn’t be the first writer to say that.

Another way to do it is to dictate it. A lady friend showed me a few months ago. There’s voice recognition software in an app called Live Transcribe for Android phones which uses the phone’s microphone to listen as you speak and it converts it into a text file. I just tried dictating to it and the transcription is perfect – there were NO spelling errors. This is brilliant. The only thing is, I can’t remember how to get it from the phone to my computer. I was shown, but I can’t remember. It can’t be too difficult.

Anyway, whenever I’m lying in bed my mind is dictating the story. But it’s only my mind – the phone is not on. How come I can tell this great story in my mind, but I can’t speak it out loud? Probably just a matter of getting started and practising at it, like anything.

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Phew, another close one. When I went to drive the Honda MDX yesterday, I found the driver’s side door open (in the garage, that is). That’s what I’m worried about, that the courtesy lights being on will flatten the battery again. Trouble is, I’m damned if I can remember leaving the door open. I never do that. Speaking of memory, as I was …

However, the battery was OK. I think there’s a timer on the courtesy lights. Thank goodness.

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Being diabetic, I choose sugar free soft drinks, when I’m not drinking nice cold water, that is. Often that’s Coke No Sugar, but I only have a can once a week, or maybe twice.

I just discovered a new drink yesterday in Woolies. It’s called Nexba Immunity. It’s a mixture of ginger with echinacea. It comes in 330ml bottles, strongly labelled “sugar free”, and I like it. It’s still too sweet for me, but most things are. I can taste the ginger though, which I like. $6.40 for a four bottle pack.

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What disgusting antics are being performed by the anti-vax protestors! Disgusting, revolting scumbags. What they are doing is holding the rest of us to ransom. The longer they refuse to be vaccinated, the longer we have to wait for the state borders to be opened up. That hurts all of us who took our vaccines early.

But worse than that, if they have refused vaccination, they can be virus spreaders to the rest of us. And if they get sick themselves and go to a hospital expecting treatment, they are endangering all the nurses and doctors. Holy smoke, the selfishness of these scum, the anti-vaxxers.

On top of that, the death threats against politicians! Who do these protestors think they are?

As far as I’m concerned, no measures are too harsh. They should be segregated into prison camps and left to infect each other. They should get no hospital treatment if they get the virus. Full crack down!