Random bits

USS Carl Vinson off Fremantle, May 1983
  • The photos shown today are new scans from my old slides of 1983 and later. I’ve got shelves full of ring binders with thousands of film slides. If I’m to have any chance of moving to Bali, everything has to be reduced to electronic form, so I’ve now embarked on scanning everything I have and ditching the physical things. Wow, it’s hard to throw things away, but… what am I to do? No-one will ever take them off my hands, they’re hardly museum stuff, yet I can’t just bin them without keeping some record of 40 years’ work.
  • I’m sure you know by now how computer-centric I am. So was it just a coincidence that my room number at the Bali hotel was 2e8? Computer nerds will know what I mean.

Star trails, June 1983 from Northcliffe, WA
  • I’ve just been chatting to the newsagent in my local shopping centre. I noted that the price of a magazine that I used to just buy automatically every month up to about 5 years ago, Popular Photography from the USA, has risen yet again this month. Even though the A$ is now on par with the US$, and the magazine’s US cover price is US$3.99, the price here is now $16.50!!! That’s risen from $14.95 last month.

    When  I used to buy it, the A$ was as low as 0.70c to the US$ so we accepted that the exchange rate and transport costs made a local price of $8.95 just something we had to live with.

    But the price then started to jump about 4 years ago: from $8.95 to $10.95 in one hit, then $11.95, $12.95, $14.95 and now $16.50, even though the exchange rate has been steadily improving and the US cover price has changed very little.

    Do I need to spell it out? We’re being fleeced. It’s legal robbery. Where does it stop?

    Yet in Kuta, Bali last week, the current issue (not the two month delayed issue we get in Australia) cost the equivalent of A$12! It used to be that magazines and books in Indonesia were hard to come by and very expensive, but I found the Periplus book store chain up there stocks all I could ever want. In fact, there was a wider choice and more up-to-date copies than here!!!!

    So why don’t I just subscribe and have it mailed to me? I did that some years ago, but despite filling in the subscription card in the magazine for overseas subscribers at surface mail rate, I found they just overcharged me by about 20% on my credit card. When I complained via email, it took months to get it sorted and they never explained the extra cost. Too bad. So I don’t trust them enough to subscribe again!

    I mentioned the latest amazing price rise to the newsagent and he said, yes, it’s Gordon & Gotch and they just couldn’t care less what the newsagent says or what the customers say. G&G is a subsidiary of News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch’s empire and a monopoly in Australia. The newsagent has to take a contract with G&G to get his magazines to sell and therefore he has no say whatsoever in the pricing or what G&G supply him with. He can take on more magazines to customer wishes (as I’ve requested once or twice), but he can’t refuse what G&G dictates he carries.

    Worse, he has to pay up front for a certain number of magazines and books whether he thinks he’ll sell them all or not. If they don’t sell, yes, he gets refunded on the returns, but G&G have had his cash for a month or even longer, earing interest for them, not him. In some cases, he said, he has to carry cookery books for up to four years, so since he’s had to apy G&G in advance, that means he’s made them an interest free loan of the cost of the books which they get to bank and earn the interest on!

    What can he do? If he protests, they don’t care, and if he declines their terms, he has nothing to sell. Hmmmm. This is not the first time I’ve heard this tale from a newsagent, by the way.

    The answer is to download electronic versions from the Zinio web site. I’m going to have to do that, but the result will be that my local newsagent loses yet more of his business, which is already badly affected by the very poor supermarket in the shopping centre driving customers away.

    So on and on it goes. I wrote much earlier in this blog about all the shops and services we’ve lost in this area in the past 20 years. More and more businesses are being forced out by predatory tactics by the big chains and the monopoly marketing practices described above. We may as well all move to China now!

Hot chick, May 1983. I have no idea who she was, but she looked good.
  • It was hot in Perth today, 34.9C (94.8F) and after working up a small sweat at about 5.30pm doing a maintenance thing with my car, I started the air conditioner in this room. It’s set at 25C, but after initially starting, it hasn’t run since! That means the room temp must be already below 25 degrees. stupid fool me!
  • If it had reached 35C, we would have had day 1 of a heat wave, since tomorrow will be 37C and Friday 38C. Apparently three consecutive days above 35C is the definition of a heat wave. It’s not quite a record for November, as it has occurred before in 1933, 1958 and 1976 apparently. But it indicates that we’re already heading for a hot, hot summer.

    People say they couldn’t hack the heat in Bali. Well, if you’re in the shade in Bali or anywhere up there, every breeze is a cool breeze, I say. Yes, it’s much more humid, but you really, really do get used to it. This hot, windy, dry heat gets me down, I can tell you.

  • I am being driven MAD by the bugs! Two kinds of bugs: the moths on this warm night are swarming to the light and will not let me alone.

    But the other bugs are also driving me mad: the bugs in this blogging software. It is riddled with them. Trying to use this as a word processor is an exercise in frustration.

    Although I don’t like harming the moths, at least I can spray the insecticide and get relief for a while, but there’s no spray for these stupid software bugs!

  • So why don’t I close the flywire door? Well, when you have dogs who want to go in and out all the time, a flyscreen door is a pain. Minnie’s too big for a doggie door, so I took the fly screen off years ago. It might have to go back on. That means I’ll have to get up and open the screen door for her all the time, but that’s not a bad thing, is it Keith!
Wow! Over WA 10 November 2010
  • I’m editing all the Bali vision from the Nusa Dua Peninsula tour last Tuesday at the moment (crumbs, was it only a week ago?) and wooee! HD video, once tweaked and sharpened and the Mercalli Stabiliser software applied looks MINT!

    Mercalli is a German piece of software that takes your wobbly shaky bumpy vision shot in the car (taxi) and makes it look as if a $100,000 Steadicam had been used. It’s fantastic. The pictures are beautifully clear and sharp in HD and the audio from the little camcorder’s microphones in stereo is fantastic. Mind you, it’s mostly aircon and vehicle noise, but it’s actual, real ambient sound. Add music and wow!

Oh, it’s late. Time to check the video rendering and stabilisation process (it takes a long time) and go to bed.

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