Future tense, present tense

Radio National’s Future Tense ran a program last weekend discussing interstellar space travel, i.e. voyages to another star system lasting a hundred years or more. I’ve added the following to the discussion (I’m the only contributor so far!).

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I maintain that these very long space journeys are utterly impractical for several reasons:

1. Humans just cannot get along with each other. I don’t believe any grouping of more than 100 people, who would have to procreate over several generations in the time scales involved, could coexist harmoniously. It has never happened on Earth, it will never happen in the confines of a starship.

2. Technology is moving ahead so quickly that any “starship” will be rendered obsolete before it leaves the solar system, let alone gets near any other star. How would you like to be on the starship and receive a message about 50 years out, “Umm, sorry people, but we’ve figured out how to instantly transport people to where you’re going. There’ll be a party to meet you when you get there, otherwise, if you can work out how to turn around and come back, we’ll see that you get medals.”

3. Everything breaks down sooner or later. How are you going to build a starship that is guaranteed never to fail in some way? How are you going to carry the spare parts? Are you going to manufacture every component of the starship on board to cope with failures?

4. How are you going to cope with the intellectual needs of the crew? When you’re talking hundred year journeys, or longer, people will want to evolve and grow. A confined space will breed discontent. The loss of communication with Earth (due to the time delays) will be stifling. The crew will need to be a different breed of people.

5. As has been pointed out, collisions at starship speeds with even fine dust particles will pose danger. “Make the ship long and thin”, they say. That will restrict interior space. No, I don’t believe it’s possible.

6. Radiation – we still can’t provide sufficient shielding from the radiation we know about, let alone the stuff we don’t know. It will be a suicide mission.

My belief is that we are not meant to physically travel these long distances in our present human form.

However, every cell in our body contains our DNA, which is the blueprint for how we’re made. When that “book” can be deciphered, copied and transmitted instantly, perhaps by some quantum means, to be recreated at the receiving point, only then will we be able to travel these enormous distances.

I sound like a Luddite, I know, but I’d be interested to hear any solutions to the points I raise.

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Still here …

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The inside of this laptop. Marvels of engineering!

You’d think having all this free time and rest would be great, but I’m still feeling the pressure. I feel sick, just plain sick. Awful weariness all the time. Any effort, just getting up and moving around, brings on muscle tiredness straight away. I’m seeing the doc on Friday to try to work out what’s wrong. I’m wondering if there’s a medication problem, two or more of my drugs interacting. My friend knows a pharmacist near here who specialises in this kind of thing. I might take my list along and have a chat.

Luckily I can just take myself to my bed and rest, which I’m doing.

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I bought a new GPS navigator yesterday, a TomTom once again. I found it for $89, so it was not a huge cost. I used to have TomTom right from 2006 when my first one cost $750. That was a huge cost, in hindsight, but it seemed so marvellous then. It was.

In 2011 I switched to Garmin because that was the only one that offered maps of Bali. That only cost $225, approx, but I could never get the map to work. I got a refund on the map, so that was OK, and I’ve continued with the Garmin here ever since.

But I was never happy with the software. It didn’t seem as comprehensive as the TT, and if I deviated from the suggested route, it absolutely insisted that I get back on the track it wanted. It was so bad that I turned the sound off and effectively couldn’t use it. There was only one route, and that was it. It seemed lacking in other ways, too.

Well, having used the TT again yesterday and today, I can affirm that TomTom software is far better. I entered the route to Margaret River, and as I remembered from my previous models, it allowed me to rehearse and examine the route in several different ways. Garmin won’t do that. It shows the route OK, but you can’t do a run through of it.

Even coming back from the shops, the TomTom suggested a route, but when I deviated a bit, it immediately worked out what I was doing and took me by the route I wanted. $89 well spent, I think. It’s my third TT unit and it’s like coming back to a familiar friend.

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Five and a half weeks to go to my new house. Settlement date is 4 April. I was going to say I can’t wait, but I just have to. Minnie is quite happy here. She can lie in the dirt in the garden and she’s happy about getting lots of attention, especially from the three little kids next door. The youngest is 17 months and she’s a little apprehensive, but likes Minnie all the same. The eldest boy has found a new friend. He asked me if he could take Minnie’s leash to school to show the class, but he forgot to take it in the end.

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Oh, I got the Telstra wi-fi modem dongle going. It just seemed to need reboots and time. Looks like I’m a Telstra customer again after many years of resisting them. Not much choice, I’m afraid.

Disposing of the old Vivid modem battery worries me. It’s swollen up to double its thickness. Shopping centre bin.

Aaaaah, a day off!

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Copyright 2013 P.J.Croft   Venice

Aaah, Saturday, a day off at last. This is the end of the first week at my friend’s place in Scarborough, and the end of the toughest week, in the toughest month, in the toughest six months I have ever had.

I took the last car load of my stuff to the lockup yesterday, and today, for the first time in about 21 days, I don’t have to go there again. Bliss!

In fact I was thinking, when I reach the stage of moving into my new house, I may just tell the removalists, here’s the PIN (for the gates) and here are the three keys (for the three padlocks on the storage units) – just bring everything (except the rat baits) to my new address and put it in the garage. I don’t want to be involved, except to tell you where to put the beds and desks etc. I never want to see that lockup again.

I saw my bathroom scales there yesterday so I retrieved them and this morning they show I’ve lost nearly 5Kg compared to last week. That’s without taking my diuretic, which I forgot during the week. Resuming that will drop even more weight.

It’s hardly surprising – I’ve had to push myself hard to keep going in the heat all week, perspiring like hell, eating a lot less than usual, skipping meals. I’m tired as hell now, but sleeping well. Sciatica has got me in the left buttock. I can’t find a pain free position. Pain in the arse. It’ll pass.

Pain in the ar…  I am sick of trying to get fast internet!

My Vivid wi-fi modem’s battery has swollen  so much that I dare not use it. Figuring that a new battery will cost me at least $50, I bought a Telstra wi-fi modem dongle yesterday for $59, which includes 2GB of data. So they told me. Will it work at Margaret River? Of course, sir, Telstra is everywhere!

I plugged it in here yesterday at about 5.30pm and it worked great, for about 15 minutes. Then it slowed to frozen treacle speed, and that’s how it’s stayed!!!

I’ve gone through the registration process, waiting about 5 minutes for each page to load, and it said please wait, it will take up to 4 hours for the registration to complete. What??? I left it and went to bed.

Now it’s next morning and it’s still frozen treacle speed. I can’t access my email to get the confirmation message – all I get is the spinning wheel. I can’t access Telstra’s page. The modem lights are flashing but there’s nobody home.

OK, I’ve rebooted and now I can get email etc. But why should I need to reboot?

I tried going back to my Vivid modem. It was working fine yesterday, but now it dies after I turn it on and it goes through its boot process. This is crazy! Maybe the charger wasn’t fully plugged in. I’ll try again later.

Geoff and I are going for a drive to York and Beverley today, Geoff to revisit his parents’ grave in York, and in Beverley, to revisit the old town. It’s just for the drive. On a cool day, it should be nice, and without needing to worry about all the work I had to do, that’ll make it nicer still. Aaaaah.

This is the day!

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This is a rentable villa in Sanur. Complete with housekeeper couple.
They wanted $US25,000 for 12 months. I laughed.

Aaaaah, this is the last day I have to worry about that damned house. This is settlement day, handover day. Thank goodness.

This past six months, and especially the last month, have been the hardest period I have ever been through. Physically, mentally, emotionally, I am exhausted. All my muscles ache with weariness. My back hurts in one particular spot. My feet ache with tiredness. I’m sleeping 10 hours (with pit stops) each night but still I feel tired.

Yesterday I felt awful, but I knew I had to push myself and I did. I got all the benchtops cleared, I cleaned the toilet, I sorted out what was rubbish, loaded my car for the lockup and I was just near finishing the vacuuming when Barry arrived a few minutes before 2pm dressed in his business white shirt and tie. Final inspection! I hadn’t realised – the buyers were coming at 2pm to do their handover inspection. Lucky I pushed myself, then.

As it turned out, they delayed until 5pm but I skedaddled out of there – I was exhausted, and the day was soooo hot! I did a biit of grocery shopping, especially dog food. I have no cooking facilities, so I’m buying things that don’t need heating. It’s easy – no problem. In fact, I’m eating better than I usually do – lots of gourmet salads and oatmealy things.

Then back to my friends’ place to wait out the evening. That was one of the hottest evenings I can recall – no wind, just oppressive heat. I had a cold shower before bed – it’s a long time since I’ve felt that need. Poor Minnie. She was panting. I wanted to hose her down too, but she’s sleeping in the garden dirt and this would have made a huge mess. I can’t do that in this immaculate house. I can’t let her inside at all. I might try to sneak her into the laundry on the cool tiles, then get her out before they come home.

So, last day today, one more trip to the lockup. I might just load the car and leave it until tomorrow when it’s cooler.

Then I’m outa there. Nearly 27 years. Regrets, I’ve had a few. Great area, great memories, great place for my dogs in the Trigg bushland, but we’ve got too old to cope. No money to fix it up, and boy, it needs fixing. Too much for me.

So as of today, I no longer have to worry about it. I can relax for the next 5 weeks and try to regain my rest. Before the next major hurdle —–

I will have a garage piled to the rafters with boxes at my new place. Months of opening them, finding places for all the “stuff”, sorting good stuff from rubbish and dragging the good stuff inside. Buying IKEA cabinets and assembling storage. Setting up shelving in the garage. Trying to make room to move out of the chaos. Fun, fun fun.

This is absolutely, definitely my last move. I couldn’t go through this again.

I must pay tribute to Barry Wood, so cheerful and generous as always, Brian his fitness trainer mate, and Keith Geary, generous to a fault. Thanks, guys, from the bottom of my heart.

2:30pm – Well, that’s it. I’ve handed the keys over and my car is full to the roof with all the remaining stuff. I’m out and I can’t go back. Mixed feelings. It’s weird to not have that as my home any more, but I’m also glad to be free of it. If I could have done it, I would have demolished it and rebuilt. It was a rotten design from the very start, and fairly poorly built, too. No lintels! How could any self respecting builder do that? So much wasted space! How could any self respecting architect have designed a house like that? It was a botch of a house and I’m glad to be out.

But the memories! Of Boopsie running around her race track and finishing by leaping into my lap. Sitting by the lounge heater with Boopsie in the chair next to me, responding to my stroking. Minnie crawling under the kitchen cabinets as her cave. And digging a real cave under the concrete path to the workshop, peeking out. I’ve got a photo. “Little dog” Boopsie, small enough to walk under the cabinets. Minnie coming inside and seeking refuge beside my bed when there was thunder.

Me being fit enough to get up on the roof and walk around, even slipping between the tile battens to get into the roof space. Not a chance now.

Having a real, smooth lawn at the back. Remarking to the lawn mower guy, gee, it looks pretty good, doesn’t it?

Making all my own cabinets in the workshop, on a saw bench I made myself. Pretty neat work, if I say so myself. I was really into it.

The turning point? Sleep apnea in the mid to late 1990s, then redundancy. Never really recovered. Computers took all my interest. I was still walking well until 2009, but something changed then and I sank into depression, I think, long term. The walking slowed, then stopped. Minnie developed arthritis, so it was hard to take her out, and I stayed home with her. I attempted to escape to Bali, but that went wrong, and here I am. Still plenty of things to do, and the means to do them, but physically I’m struggling.

So months of work at the new house to come, and then I can finally get started on my next interest, model railways and DCC control. Digital control. Endless possibilities.

I also have at least two travel goals: Viet Nam, Hanoi, to see my cuz; and a return to the UK to knock on the door of Croft Castle, Herefordshire, and say, “Hi, my name is Croft and I claim this brick.” And a return to Bali in a better state of mind and health. Gotta get working on both.

Ah, Monday.

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This is how many possessions one should have. It’s all you need.

I hate Mondays. No, not really. It’s just that I’ve got three days of this moving purgatory to go, and I have to get back into it. I’ll have to take at least one more load to the storage place today, and I’ve just rented a third unit. My initial estimate that 27 cm. m. would be enough has proven wildly off.

One of today’s items is going to be long lengths of timber from the roof of the workshop. My attempts to give them away have failed, so I have to take them. It’s architrave mouldings, skirting, a big western Red Cedar plank and some smaller stuff, lengths of (small) jarrah, sheets of masonite and ply and a length of 40mm x 40mm angle iron, about 2.4m. Boring. I don’t want it, but I’ve got no choice.

Plus a suitcase and several large bags of clothes, household mops, brooms etc, two computer monitors, and assorted detritus.

I’ve been thinking about the other end around 6 April. This is a mountain of stuff! It’ll take me months more hard work to sort it all out and take it into the house, and store it properly. I’ll have to have a monster garage sale. I think my car is even going to have to stay out front so I have the whole garage to work in. I wonder what the parking regs are?

And all the boxes are going to need disposal. Well over 100 boxes, I’d say, all having to be flattened and got rid of. Aaaarrrrggh.

Oh well, 1115am, up and at ’em. So weary, though. Barry’s got a trailer today to take rubbish to the Stirling tip. Bless him.

Oh, I had a bit of excitement at the house yesterday. I was just about to start vacuuming when the power went off. Oh, what a shame, I thought, I really was looking forward to vacuuming.

Then I noticed sirens and red flashing lights, took the bin out and a power pole about four doors down was well alight. Dust and light rain – a deadly combination. That make two pole fires near me in two years.

What a day!

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I can show this pic because it’s a view from the street, public. This is where I’m going.

Wot a day! What a day it was yesterday, Friday 15th, as the removalists came and took all (most of) my stuff to the lockup.

First, they were late, a bit after 8am when they said they’d be there at 0730. That was OK, though.

Then they surprised me by doing the smart thing – they loaded all the small stuff first, all the boxes. That’s because at the other end, they wanted to unload the big stuff first, at the back of the truck. I wouldn’t have thought of that.

It turned out to be Glenn, an Irishman, and Joe, a Yank from Philadelphia, a giant of a bloke. nice guys. They could carry two items where I’d be battling to lift one of them.

The previous night I’d unhooked the washing machine and discovered the cold tap had a bad leak from the wall outlet. Normally I’d just go to the workshop, get my tube spanner and tap washer and fix it, but no, it was all packed away. Barry had a good idea – put a snap-on hose fitting on and run the hose down the drain. Temporary fix – I’ll get new tap washers today.

OK, full truck load by 11.15am and I gave the guys a map with the route marked, and said follow me. Oh, don’t worry, they said, we’ve got a GPS. See you there.

I sat and waited 25 minutes for them to arrive at the lockup gates!! Why? They’d taken a different route and got stuck behind a road making machine or something. What?? Twenty five minutes to get past? I’m going to have to speak to the boss to see that I’m not charged for that time.

PS: While we were loading, a guy walked in the front door and through the house. Who’s this? I thought it was the boss. No, he was talking silly talk. I thought it might be a friend of Barry’s, but no, he didn’t know him. He was talking crazy talk, like being royalty. He bummed a smoke off Barry, and said he’d run out of fuel on Marmion Ave. We had to usher him out. Amazing.

Unloading at the lockup went OK, but they totally filled my 27 m3 unit and I had to rent an adjacent 6.75 m3 unit as well. That was also totally filled, to the roof. Trouble closing the roller door.

Then it was time to leave and I had to pay the bill. It had blown out from a 3 hour estimate to 5.5 hours, nearly double the estimated cost. What can I do? I can’t say take it away again.

Then I said follow me to the gate. I drove up there (200m) and sat and waited. Nothing. Truck didn’t move. Fifteen minutes went by – nothing. Finally one of the guys came running up. Truck won’t start. Run out of fuel!

So he gave me some money and I had to go and buy 5L of diesel for them. Luckily there was a Repco shop nearby for a can and pourer, and a service station 600m down the road.

They poured it in, with difficulty, and it still wouldn’t start. Vapour lock. Luckily Joe knew how to clear it, so after nearly 45 mins, we were finally outa there. Boy, was I glad to see them go. It was 2pm by this time and I was famished, so I had some lunch at the shops and went home, exhausted.

Normally I would have crashed on the bed for an hour, but no bed! I had to use two of Minnoie’s cushions (new, unused) and my doona as a bed on the floor, so I was able to sleep a bit. Getting up off the floor is very difficult for me, but eventually I made it.

So then it was more packing things into the car, preparatory to going around to my friends in Scarborough. I bought ice for the esky and had a couple of cold beers, which relaxed me a bit.

Then at 7pm it was time to go. Minnie was pleased to get into the car and settled down.

I was welcomed at Scarborough and Minnie was helped up the steps into the rear area. It’ll be good for her, plenty of shrubbery, a good sheltered area. Then I polished off the rest of the beer.

Bed at 10pm – boy I was weary. I’ve got a big double bed! It took me a long time to get to sleep, and I could tell Minnie was unsettled too. She was wandering around under my window – I could hear her panting, looking to “go home”, so I had to firmly say, Bed Minnie, quite a few times. She heard it and eventually stopped looking for a way out.

So now it’s Saturday morning and apart from loading up my car with important things I didn’t have time for yesterday, I’m going to have an easy day. I can’t take any more to the lockup as there’s no space. I’ll have to rent a third unit, and that’ll have to wait until Monday.

So I’m nearly done. I never, ever want to go through this again. This has been terrible. When it comes time to take possession of Butler, I’ll just let the removalists do the lot. I reckon it’ll take two trips, so it’ll be expensive, but it can’t be helped.

Of course, I’ll end up with a  garage full of boxes to be sorted and moved inside. That’ll be fun. And hard work. But I’m never going to move again. Never!

It will also be time to invest in some nice furniture too. I’m tired of crap. Good solid bookshelves and cabinets, nice lounge suite. Not exorbitantly priced, just middle of the road.

So it’s a few days to go of cleaning up – all the final crockery, garden hoses, plant pots, stuff like that. Then I can kiss that old house goodbye. Some regrets, yes, but I’m tired of living in a run down old house. Onward and upward.

Last Night!

Well, here I am at my last night in this house. This is tough, much tougher than I thought. I feel very nervous, nauseous actually, at times.

Why? I think it’s pretty clear – this house and this room in particular are my protective shell, and I’m about to lose it. I’m stepping out into the open with no comfort zone for the next six weeks. I shouldn’t feel this way – I have somewhere to go, but I’ll have to be sort of invisible, not wanting to intrude on my friends’ lives. I won’t know the ropes. I’m the type who needs to do everything exactly right, not make mistakes, not offend.

I think this stems from early maternal teaching. Whenever I got the (rare) chance to visit school friends, I was always told “Don’t outstay your welcome, will you?” Repeatedly! The result was that I always felt the need to leave, lest I “wear out my welcome”. This stayed with me into adult life. It’s not so bad now, but it very badly affected my early, adolescent life.

Silly of me, but I’m having trouble relaxing.

The fridge was powered off today so I’m relying on a foam Esky with my ice cube trays to keep things cool. Not that there is much – I’ve been reducing the fridge contents steadily for the past week. I’m afraid I had to throw out a whole lot of freezer foods this morning – seafood marinara mix, crumbed fish, squid, all kinds of vegetables. It was a terrible waste.

One thing I couldn’t throw out was 2Kg of fresh (frozen) salmon, skin on. This is solid, like an ice brick, so it’s in the Esky. I hope to use it soon at my friends’ place.

Oooh, I must take a photo of all the boxes [done 6.30pm]. The lounge room is stacked! I had to get even more boxes this morning – I keep thinking I’ve got enough, but no, I still need more. Thanks Bunnings – this is one thing you’re good for. About the only thing …

Two loads of washing today, then I pulled the hoses off and that’s it – ready to go. Unfortunately, I can hear a steady dripping noise. The cold tap is not sealing properly. Ordinarily, I’d just go to the workshop, get my tube spanner and fix the washer. But I can’t. It’s all packed away. It’ll have to drip all night, I’m afraid. Maybe I’ll be able to find the right box tomorrow.

I looked up organisations that will take white goods yesterday, and found the Vinnies and People Who Care will collect. But it’s too late to make that decision now – I’ll donate them later this year.

By the way, if I buy new appliances, I’ll be using my CHOICE subscription at last. Those Kiwis seem to produce the winners quite a lot – F&P.

I also found those organisations want all kinds of goods, including what they call bric-a-brac. Boy, have I got bric-a-brac! I’ll be having a big cull at Butler. I’ll have to. Anyway, there’s a Salvo’s shop in the shop complex at Butler – ideal. I’ll be a big donor.

Well, I’m sitting at my table right now with a beer, but tomorrow I won’t have a table or any chairs to sit on. Can’t go to the club either – it’s a special surfing film night for families. We’ve all boycotted it.

Sic transit taurus mundi.