A new record!

This heat is a new record. We’ve had more than 55 days of above 30C this summer and a record number of nights above 20C at minimum (for my exotic cousins and readers).

But tonight I know it’s really hot because even Minnie wanted to come inside to sleep in the aircon. This is a first. She usually wants to be outside, no matter what, even on icy winter nights, but she came in tonight at 8.30pm.

My aircon has been running continuously all day and my power bill must be sky high. All I can say is, thank goodness for aircon!


Billions and billions

The headline refers to a book I have of the same title by Carl Sagan. He was well known for this saying, apparently, meaning the billions and billions of stars in the universe.

I’m referring to the biilions and billions of bits of data I’ve got. All data is information, regardless of how small or large it is. The amount of information is like entropy: it don’t go down!

I’m amazed at the number of disks of data I’ve got (at a guess, >300), regardless of whether they’re usefull information or not. Once in Bali, I’m going to have to set up a RAID 5 array, I think, so as to be able to develop a taxonomy to classify everything. By that I mean images (primarily); finance data; word processor files; useful programs; spreadsheets; family history; existing slideshows; future slideshows; video; video editing projects; backups; jokes (yeah!) and so on.

It has to be RAID 5 because it’s no longer possible to back everything up to DVDs or even BluRay disks. RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks) is easy to set up these days, and RAID 5 is a level where the faiilure of any one disk in a group of four or more will not result in data loss. Disks can be swapped in and out without removing power (hot swapping), so a hard drive failure means a disk can be replaced and the data reconstructed.

Who would have thought we’d ever reach this level in a home situation??!! Yet it’s cheap and perfectly feasible to do now. Astounding. Tip o’ the hat to the Yanks – they developed this stuff.

Here’s an image I noticed today:

1954, I think

How simple life was then. No predatory banking problems, personal service in shops, your petrol pumped for you by a young guy setting out on his road to a mechanic’s apprenticeship, checking your oil, water and tyres too, guaranteed jobs after high school, affordable housing, very little stress, good manners, politeness, no swearing out loud, no fear of being assaulted.

I used to scoff at the “loss of family values” warnings, but I’m afraid I scoff no more. I had to go to the city  yesterday (Sunday) and park in the car park over the railway station. On the way up the ramps, people were detecting a hint of movement and just stopping to wait for a car to back out of a bay. It didn’t matter if it took 3-5 minutes, we were all held up behind them! One Audi driver just wound his windows up and refused all horns and entreaties to move for more than three minutes. Unbelievable. The queue stretched back three floors!

Tempers were let loose, I can assure you, and a very fat young woman (20s) actually got out of her stationary car and abused me because I blew my horn at her to move on. “Go around, you mug”, she shouted. I couldn’t because I was too close and couldn’t reverse either. I had to resort to “Ten, nine, eight, seven,… move or I’ll push you out of the way.” She moved forward, but still stopped and held up the queue behind me. All in the interests of getting a bay on a lower floor! Why? There are lifts. What does it matter?

A woman came up to me after I parked on the next level and expressed her amazement at the awful attitude of these drivers. What is going on? Family values of politeness and good manners HAVE broken down, I’m afraid.

More fascination

In this scanning process, one of the difficulties is working out which way up the neg should go in the scanner. Usually, it’s emulsion side down, but a lot of the time, which is the emulsion side?

I simply do the scan and work it out afterwards. In theory, getting the correct side of the film to the glass affects the focus point and hence the sharpness, but with these old negs, there’s so much bend in the film that lack of flatness overrides which side is correct. And they ain’t that sharp anyway. More on that in a minute.

Here’s an example. When I scanned this neg, I got this result:

But something’s not right. It looks fishy to me…

When I er, flippered it, I got this:

Abbot’s Lager! Now I know which way is up. Or side, as the case (yok yok) may be.

Here’s another one:

Which way? And is that guy scratching his BTM?

When you look closer, you see this:

Copy watch, Mister?

First, aren’t those Wrigley’s Chewing Gum sticks in the back right side? With the arrow symbol. And those are cigarette packets front left. I can’t make out the labels, but those are chocolate bars at top left with the ribbons and bows.

Unfortunately, the point of focus is on the trousers. See how the stripes on his trouser legs are sharp, but the tray is soft? That’s the case in so many of these shots, I’m afraid. No autofocus in those days.

By contrast, here’s a recent digital camera shot:

Forget the content, just look at the sharpness, the perfect exposure, the perfect colour balance, the perfect focus and the depth of field. All with no effort on my part. We’re so fortunate now. Get out there and record history!


I’ve been scanning negs for the past month, as I said. These are from our dear departed Brisbane uncle Darcey. He served in the Middle East during WWII and was a newspaper photographer all his working life.

I’m sure his sons won’t mind if I post a few samples, because they’re too good to hide.

Ain’t that nice? Beautiful lemony colour. Don’t know who it is, but it’s Kodak colour negative film.  
Somewhere in the Middle East, an army group.
A transport ship, to where? I’d be terrified at what was to come!

Original, ancient, authentic. Life in Palestine? 1941 or thereabouts, I would guess?

There were 80 negs to scan and I’m finished now. They are mostly 80mm x 105mm (3 1/4″ x 4 1/4″). I always enjoy doing it because each scan reveals a new scene and a new item of interest. This is history!

Yet on The On-Line Photographer today, a retired US pro photo-journalist was saying he tried to give his library of thousands of negs to museums and galleries but no-one wanted them! They wanted scans, done for free, but not the negs. He ended up burning the lot. His conclusion? The new generation is not interested in the past. Things are moving too quickly now.

Sorta makes you think, doesn’t it? History is bunk, as a famous person once said.

Mystery solved

The mystery of The Holy Handtools has been solved. My brother has them. I must have passed them over at some time, but I have no memory of it.

However, if they do turn out to have value, I want my share! I am not renouncing that. We’ll see. Veeeeerrrry interesting, as they used to say on Laugh In.


It’s true. A “mate” assured me last night that his auntie’s daughter’s boyfriend’s mate’s brother’s uncle’s grandmother took her dog into Bali only six months ago and that I was worrying about nothing.

But I’ve posted the question on http://www.balipod.com this morning and I’m assured repeatedly that no four legged animals, including dogs, are allowed into or out of Bali. The ban has been in force for more than a year and may be reviewed in 2012, but even then will probably not be lifted until after Minnie’s demise.

Even if I took her legally into Java/Jakarta/Surabaya, she still has to be quarantined for 14 days. That means caged and exposed to other diseases and all the stress of separation.

This is too much. I am despondent.

BP? Avoid them!

I was stunned and annoyed today at a BP service station. (Service??? What service?)

I almost never use BP because they’re tied to Coles and I’ve found Coles supermarket vouchers are worthless. However, today I was in a hurry and had to fill up.

I pulled in and started to fill using the left-most hose, as I always do, in my experience the lowest priced ordinary fuel.

But I soon realised that the price was rising alarmingly and the hose I was using was NOT the cheapest, it was Premium Unleaded at $1.46.9c !!

BP has reversed the hoses, so that the left one is Premium Unleaded, the middle one is 91 Octane ordinary unleaded and the right one is Super Duper Highest Priced Ripoff fuel. If your car uses ordinary unleaded at the cheapest price, you have to grab the middle hose.

What a confidence trick! This is specifically designed to catch the unwary, as it did me. What else can it be? You bastards!

I stopped at $8.20 on the expensive stuff, went and paid for that, then went back to the car and started again to fill up on the lowest priced fuel.

This is BP, the company that puts profits ahead of safety, the company responsible for the world’s worst oil disaster last year, the company responsible for 22 workers losing their lives in the past few years (BBC Horizon, ABC TV last week).

That’s the last time I use BP and I suggest you avoid them unless you like being tricked. Be warned, anyway. I was going to do a car wash while I was there, but I drove away fuming.


Crushed! Me too.

The bin was taken at about 9.30am this morning and I must admit, I got a bit teary. All that history, all those files, all those projects, all that effort over 25 years, gone in a blink. It had to be done, but… I have most of it in electronic form, I guess.

There it goes…  It was harder than I expected.

I’ve often thought that if I lost everything in a fire, too bad. Well, maybe I was wrong. It hurts.

However, look at it this way – if I were still here and died, someone would have to do what I’m doing now – clear the house. I’m saving you the trouble! My possessions, condensed down to a dozen boxes and a few suitcases. Easy. Be grateful.


I also took a dozen boxes of books and DVDs to the Save the Children depot in Shenton Park today. I can report that it’s easy to find and easy to deliver to. There was no-one there, but they have tables for you to put the boxes on. (They should also have a bin in which to put your prepositions before they end sentences! :-))

Despite the warning that encyclopedias are not wanted, someone had left a box of encyclopedias! Terrific, mate.

I left an envelope in my boxes with three copies of a letter stating that although most of my DVDs are marked with my surname and driver’s licence number, I authorise SCF to sell them and raise money. I hope it’s OK.

Interestingly, they do want  what they call ephemera. That means show tickets, maps, restaurant bills (interesting ones, that is), all kinds of memorabilia. You may not think it of interest, but other people often do, so don’t throw it out! It may be needed for someone researching a book.

That’s fantastic, because I have a lot of that kind of thing. Americas Cup schedules and press pass, for example; P&O Arcadia menus from 1977; a 1974 London Undergound map, now changed quite a bit; Miss Universe 1979 pass, and so on. Heaps of things too good to ditch. Living history. This is good!

That ties in with my television items. I have a small collection of items from 40 years of TV Engineering – camera tubes, a dichroic prism block, 2 inch video cassettes, 1/4 inch audio cassettes, equipment manuals and so on. It won’t be thrown out, it’s going to the AMMPT museum (I hope).

I also have about 500 images from 40 years of working in the industry. They’re all safe and preserved, don’t worry.

Getting there…

Another double entendre.

I’m getting to the stage where an end is in sight to the clearing and boxing. Today was the last day I could put stuff in the big dumper, (assuming they come to take it early tomorrow), so I had to work hard to fill it. Keith came to give me a hand, bless him, and we got most of the heavy stuff out.

In the morning I dumped all my computer books, dozens of them. I used to believe that if I bought a book, I’d know how to use software and be expert at doing things. Each book cost $75 – $85 even back in the 1990s, so it was a big investment, but I used to drool over those books. Did it work? Well, I did pretty well, but I can’t actually say it was due to the books…

I dumped a chest of drawers I’d bought at Boans Karrinyup (pre- Myer and back when we had real shops!) in 1975 and painted myself. Crumbs, that’s 36 years! It was only cheap pine, no value and not even remotely trendy, so it wouldn’t have been saleable or giveable. Out, out! But even so, it’s wrenching.


The other meaning of the heading is that I’ve been dreaming up ways to get Minnie to Bali. I can’t imagine life without her. Having a dog like her is like having the perfect child: never naughty, never answers back, never in a bad mood, always happy, always smiling, always obedient, always friendly, always loving and affectionate. Always there for you. Chien au Dieu.

No, it’s a rubber tongue!

So I’m wondering if there’s a way to get her to Bali with the minimum stress on her and me. What about by sea? By sea from a nearby Aussie port? It’s just a pipe dream at this moment, but worth thinking about. Probably impossible, but… what an adventure it would be for both of us. Never say die.

And the house crumbles…

Lots of tragedy at the moment, aye. On top of New Zealand’s grief, we learned today of the passing of one of our cousins in California, USA. Poor Dean. We didn’t know you very well, mate, but we knew what illness you were going through and it became too much for you last night.

Our hearts go out to Stephen and Lisa. Although we’re far away, we’re with you, in the electronic room with you, feeling your pain.

That makes four relatives passing on in one year. That’s the way it is at our time of life, we know, but it’s hard all the same. Bear up. It does get easier with time.

More progress clearing the house today and I can now hear an echo when I clap my hands! I’m a long way from filling that very expensive dumper bin at the front, and tomorrow has to be an even bigger effort. They come to take it away on Friday, filled or not, and it cost $290!!!

It’s crazy. Keith helped me by cleaning the workshop today, and if it had been that clean in the past 10 years, I might have got a lot more done. Bit late now.

I’d better get used to it


I’d never heard of it, but on Saturday 5 March at dawn (6am) for 24 hours, Bali will be shut down.


It’s a 24 hour silence and darkness period to reflect on the Balinese religion. That includes the airport and all sea ports. No lights, no fires, no activity, no tours, no nothing. Not a bad idea, I reckon, but it’ll disrupt a few travel plans. My flight is at 2345 on Sunday 6 March, so I escape the curfew.

Poor NZ. The shaky isles indeed. I’ve never been there and I really should go, but…

My clearance and packing continues apace. This is therapeutic! All those books and CDs and DVDs! I don’t need them. Out! Out! I still have the contents of the electronic items of course, but all that clutter is gone! Whole cupboards of cooking utensils, pots and pans and plastic ware. Stuff I haven’t even set eyes on in 15 years, buried in cupboards. Crazy. It really does make you feel better to get rid of it. So many documents, so many brochures, files, leaflets, ring binders, all for forgotten schemes and wasted plans. Out! Out!

What change we’re going through. So many things seemed important ten years, even five years ago, but are now redundant. I used to keep up with digital TV technology, but it’s all changing even more, so what’s the point?

I think even my slides are going into the bin. If I haven’t scanned it by now, it can’t be important enough. Thousands of slides, but I’ve been through them once and that’s got to be it. Renew, refresh, regenerate. I still have the electronic versions, and that has to be it. Time now to generate new material, not dwell on the old.

Yet, I can see the paradox. I’m the one saying get out and record history. Hmmm, well, I’ve done that and scanned what’s worth keeping, I think. Who’ll take the old? How do I store it?

I also have a big box of all Dad’s stuff — letters, slides, negs, prints. I’ve tried to pass it on, but no-one wanted it. Too late now. I’ll scan as much as I can, but…

What a time we’re going through. Butterfly’s wings? Financial turmoil worldwide; political upheaval everywhere; wild, unprecedented weather; extreme drought and record heatwave in lower WA; the opposite in the rest of the state and the whole of Australia; huge technological change, rendering all our old ideas obsolete… it’s a bit hard to cope, isn’t it?

Minnie continues to get thinner and bouncier. She’s such a happy dog. She smiles at me and pants her feelings. How can I leave her? All I can hope is that my trip on 6-12 March will throw up a solution.