OK today

I’m better today. My heart rhythm was back to normal when I awoke this morning (very easy to tell) and I feel better. Very light sleep last night, though, full of dreams, and I feel very tired. Saw the doc this morning. “Keep taking the tablets and see me if you have problems.”

And no, he doesn’t know any doctor in the US who could prescribe a CPAP for me, but says why not try Hong Kong or Singapore or KL? Yeah, hadn’t thought of that. Go and pick it up, maybe.

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Wot a day

I had to go to Centrelink today. Time’s up to notify them of my change in assets.

I set out at about 1.15pm and ran into a monumental traffic jam going south on Marmion Avenue. It took about 20 minutes to go 500m from Quinns Rd to the Hester Ave roundabout! Why? A big truck, concrete type, had rolled on its side just into Hester Ave and they’d narrowed the lanes down to one. But it would have been fine if people had just kept their speed up going through the roundabout – the other side was completely clear. But no, every car crawled through to take a good look at the accident. Bloody hell! That was the only reason for the blockage.

OK, I went to Centrelink Joondalup. I saw a sign that I thought was C’Link, but was actually Family Services I think, so it took me about 20 mins to find the right building and park.

There’s only 1 hour parking allowed. Terrific. I figured it might do.

There was a big crowd. I took a seat thinking she’d said about 1/2 an hour wait.

An hour and forty minutes later, my name was called at last. It wouldn’t have mattered except that (a) I was busting for a pee and (b) my heart fibrillations chose that time to start up quite badly. I was feeling a bit dizzy and breathless and wondering whether to abort the wait. But after waiting 90 mins, I didn’t want to give up.

Finally, my name was called and I started the interview. It seems I’m going to lose 50% of the interest I’ve earned on my term deposit of the leftover cash from the house swap. The highest rate of income tax is only 45%.

While I was talking, my bladder was becoming more and more painful, so I had to ask, plead, for a loo break. It turned out that there is a pair of Parisian style loos across the road from the C’Link offices – metal cabinets with sliding doors and automated facilities. Thank goodness for that.

By the time we finished all this, it was 4.20pm. Luckily, although I’d overstayed my parking by an hour, there was no ticket. Given I was displaying my ACROD permit and had two paid 1hr parking slips, so it should have been OK.

Next time, I reckon it’ll be quicker to drive to the Innaloo office – I only had to wait 30 mins there last week, with a very small queue in mid afternoon.

Nearly forgot – while driving to Joondalup, I had the closest near-miss I’ve had in a long time, at a roundabout. A guy on my left didn’t slow, he just charged in and kept going. I reckon we came within a metre. He wasn’t slowing or stopping for anyone, full speed ahead. It was a Toyota Aurion government car, 1QB ??? male driver.

My heart is still playing up at 9pm. Fibrillations aren’t as bad, but still there and my chest is sore in the centre. I’ve done the appropriate things – extra dose of tablet, extra aspirin, GTN spray close at hand. I have a doctor’s appointment for 9am tomorrow morning. Can’t wait.

Surprise

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This was my computer in January 1991. It was a basic XT 8086
machine with 1MB RAM, a monochrome monitor, and an
NEC dot matrix printer which cost around $700,
I think. The printer alone, I mean.

I got a surprising email this morning. It’s from the editor of Australian Personal Computer magazine – can I please send him a photo of myself at least 1600 pixels wide, as high resolution as possible.

I entered a survey/competition in the magazine a few months ago about why PCs are still better than tablets or laptops, asking for examples of where tablets just can’t compete and asking for a slogan. I found this pretty easy and although I can’t remember the slogan exactly, I thought it was pretty good at the time.

It seems as if I might have won something. The next issue, due out about mid May, will tell.

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The black dog is still hanging on, biting hard. All work has stopped. I see the doc tomorrow.

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I’ve just been listening to Norman Swan on the ABC. It seems people with atrial fibrillation (i.e. like me) often have cognitive impairment, difficulty making decisions. They don’t know why, but they guess that microscopic clots are forming and clogging the brain’s fine blood vessels, leading to mild Alzheimer’s-like symptoms. Hmmm.

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My CPAP machine stopped working a few weeks ago (water got into the works from the humidifier). I’ve taken it apart (it’s nearly five years old, way out of warranty), but I can’t make it go. Luckily I’ve still got my original fixed pressure machine from 2000, the S6.

My S8 Autoset cost me about $1,700 in August 2008. On the web you can find new models (S9 Autoset) available in the USA for $1,050. The same machine here costs $2,200! And it’s an Australian company!

I was seriously thinking of ordering from the US, until I followed the asterisks. They will only sell to US citizens at a US address accompanied by a prescription from a US doctor.

You can guess who imposed those conditions – not the sellers themselves, but Resmed, the Australian makers of the machines. They will restrict stock to any seller who tries to sell to Australians. This is BAD.

I intend to write to Resmed, saying “Please explain why your machine costs twice the price here as the US. Your answer will be copied to Ed Husic MHR”, who is conducting a parliamentary inquiry into predatory pricing by software companies like Adobe, Apple and Microsoft.

I’m wondering whether my GP might know a doctor in the US who would write me a prescription based on my 13 years of use of CPAP. And get the machine shipped via a US forwarding address. To save $1,200 it’s worth a try, even if freight was $100 or so.

A big change

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I went half way down the steps yesterday, about 35.
It tightens up the thigh muscles!

Change in location, change in living arrangements, change in where everything is, both in the house and where I go to shop. It’s not easy. A change is as good as a holiday? It doesn’t feel that way.

In retrospect, I wish I’d been content with my lot. It’s done now, and I can’t go back, and I have a marvellous new house compared to the old one. But … it’s very unsettling.

I had no choice really. The old place needed major fixing and I had almost no money, not enough for all the work it needed.

But I’m missing it. Don’t underestimate what being familiar with an area means. I knew a lot of people around there and I enjoyed the Klub on Friday nights. I’ve tried to make myself go down there (on a Friday afternoon, I mean), but there’s always some reason I can’t. I could make the effort tonight, for example, but I feel a stomach upset. Plus the worry about the long drive back here after a few (low alcohol!) drinks …

I’ve fallen into a black hole at the moment which is darkening my view. I’m sure when I can get out of the pit, I’ll have a much better outlook. Seeing the doc next Tuesday. Bloody hell, it takes a week in advance to get an appointment with him.

It means I can’t make decisions about things. I should be out choosing furniture, but I can’t make myself go out. Yes, I can order on the internet, but I’ve made some bad choices recently so I need to see things first.

My ADSL is connected now, but I have to ring iiNet to get it working and I can’t make myself do it. Black dog.

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Minnie is worrying me a bit. She’s taken to doing her business, both pee and poo, inside the house at times. Mostly just peeing. Someone suggested it may be because the previous owners had a dog and she’s marking her new territory. I don’t know. I hope it stops. Lucky I’ve got white ceramic tiles through most of the area – it’s just the bedrooms that are carpeted. She’s peed on all four carpet areas.

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One thing I’m finding is that everywhere is a long way. If you forget something, there’s no ducking back home for it or doing a round trip.

It means I’m using the freeway much more. A few weeks ago I mentioned the good driving on the southern roads (Forest Highway etc). Well, not in Perth. The stupidity of drivers on the freeway amazes me.

  • driving about 1 car length behind, at 100Km/h
  • dashing up behind a car in front, then having to brake
  • weaving between lanes – passing at high speed in the right lane, then crossing to the left lane to exit
  • driving in the emergency lane (mainly on Marmion Avenue)
  • 4WD drivers mounting the curb and driving on the median strip to get to the right turn lane
  • driving with no lights at dusk
  • trying to stay in a lane that’s heading for a closure, thereby causing merging problems for everyone

Need I go on. Cars that simply will not stop at traffic lights, going through red lights. Where are the police? They do it because they can get away with it!

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Hangin' around. Maybe they feed them?

Grump grump. I’m sounding like an old man. I got my ACROD permit the other day, so I guess I must be.

A pint, thanks

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My huge shower. It's great. But the bench top is timber and the varnish
has deteriorated badly from this shot. Much work needed.

My first visit to the corner pub tonight. It was OK, but I don’t think I’ll make it a regular visit.

They have a huge range of beers and ciders on tap, and my first order was for a half pint (285ml) of Hoegarden, a Belgian wheat beer which I particularly like. I nearly choked when he said the price – $7.60. For a half pint! That’s not even a middy.

Next I had a pint of Heineken at $7.40, but even that choked me a bit. I decided that was it – it’s too expensive to drink there unless it’s a special occasion. These are double the bottle shop prices.

I noticed that nearly all the barmen have UK accents, as do the staff at the bottle shop across Marmion Avenue. The bar was also decked out in English flags, the red cross on white background as opposed to the full Union flag. I asked if it’s a special occasion. Turns out next Tuesday is St George’s Day. Crumbs, this sure is a UK outpost. I don’t mind, but it’s a pity the pub isn’t done in more UK pub fashion. It’s very modern/trendy. Huge restaurant area and good food by the look of the menu.

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I went to Centrelink yesterday to change my details. There was virtually no queue, which was good, but I still waited more than half an hour. Then I got a guy who was quite aggro in his questioning of my house sale. I didn’t realise I needed my settlement documents and he was a bit sarcastic about it. I’ve found them now so I’ll go to Joondalup next week. But I can do without his attitude.

Launch window

Do the people at Air Asia think about what they’re doing? This ad arrived in my Inbox this morning:

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Launch fares? In South Korea? At this time? Don’t they read the news? At least it’s a good laugh. I wonder if Kim Jong Un sees the joke.

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I’ve been doing my laundry yesterday and today (for the first time here … ) and realised I have the ideal area for my model railway – the garage has a smallish roller door opening onto the drying court, which is also on a sliding door from the laundry of course.

If I can find the key to unlock the roller door (it means getting down on my hands and knees, very hard these days), then I can build the main layout in the workshop side of the garage and run the track out into the drying court, which is a good 15m long, at least.

This is what I’ve always wanted, long runs. There’s not much of interest in watching trains go around and round a small oval track. I want wide curves and looong runs, point to point. This will be ideal. I’ll need to weatherproof it all, of course. For the roller door to close, I’ll just make a hinged drop-down section. Easy.

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My landline phone was connected today. I’m not going to broadcast the number here. I’ll tell those who need to know by email.

ADSL will be available within five business days, they tell me. That’s what they said last week.

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I bought a Panasonic phone system from one of the cheapest advertisers that came up in my web price search, because they had stock.

It arrived on time, as promised, and today I got an email from the manager or owner of the business giving me his email address and telling me that if I ever have a problem with an order, to email him personally.

Well, I liked that and emailed back and told him so. Well done. I’ll probably give them (Ryda.com.au) more business and won’t be so nervous about it now.

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Similarly, I ordered a photographic item from B&H Photo in New York a few days ago. They are a bit of a legend for service in the photographic web community.

Stap me, but I got an email from Moshe at B&H asking me to confirm by email that I am real and that this was my order. How about that?

The item I ordered, by the way, is a Colour Munki Design. It’s a monitor and printer calibrator. It looks like a large retracting tape measure, sort of square. You use it to adjust your monitor to give the correct colours, then after it’s done that it prints a test page with a colour test pattern on it. After allowing it to dry for 10 mins, you run the device over the colours on the paper and it reads the result of the printer’s action. It makes adjustments to the printer driver software and tells you to do the print again. You repeat the analysis and it makes a final adjustment, then you should, in theory, get a perfect match between what you see on the screen and what comes out of the printer.

I’m talking about a high end A3+ photo printer here, which uses 8 ink tanks at $20 each and paper that costs $3 – $4 a sheet. Making dud prints is bad news.

The Colour Munki costs $441. I figure it will pay for itself in a year or two, considering the number of times I’ve thrown prints away in disgust.

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Holy smoke!

I am paying a fortune for phone and internet access.

My phone is Vodafone prepaid and I’m having to pay $30 on average probably every two weeks. I reckon that 20 minute wait on hold to change my Medicare address last night probably cost me around $5 or more. As soon as I finished the call, I got a low credit text message when I’d recharged less than a week ago.

Now, this morning, my Telstra USB wireless modem was taking ages (5 minutes or more) to bring up any page except Telstra’s own home page. Yep, the $40 credit for 1GB I bought only last week had run out already. When I check my usage, I find over 1GB was used two days ago. I didn’t download that much! It’s Microsoft’s automatic Windows updates that are doing it, downloading in the background without me being aware of it.

I’ve just had to recharge that with $50 for 3GB to get me through until iiNet starts, this week I hope. Now I have to spend another $30 for my mobile, again until iiNet’s SIM card arrives in the post this week.

That’s $60 to $80 per fortnight I’m paying on average. Grrrrr, Not to mention the Vodafone Network Busy messages I’m getting all the time on my mobile. Hopeless.

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I keep forgetting to mention: apropos the ending of analogue TV broadcasts tomorrow, in August last year I received a letter from the Digital Switchover government taskforce. As an Age Pensioner, they told me I was eligible to receive a free digital decoder (“set top box”) if I phoned a 1 300 number.

Even though I have two already, I thought I may as well get my freebie, so I phoned the number. After a lot of talk, I mentioned that my main problem was a bad antenna connection leading to intermittent No Signal messages in a poor signal area (Trigg, for goodness sakes!) I used to be able to fix this myself, but getting up high is a bit difficult now.

We can help you with that, they said. We’ll send an antenna installer to your home. Please nominate a password so that he can identify himself (how many female antenna installers do you reckon there are? None, I’ll wager).

So I waited, and waited, and waited. Months went by with no installer visit. Knowing I was going to sell, I just gave up. Another empty government promise.

Then a couple of weeks ago while I was at Alan’s place at Margaret River, I got a phone call. “Mr Croft, we’re ready to send someone to fix your antenna. When would you like him to come?”

“What???!!! That was seven months ago. I’ve sold the house and moved since then.”

“Oh. Well, sorry about that. Anything else I can help you with?”

Oh, get lost. I didn’t actually say that, but I did say I’m pretty annoyed. What a foul up. What poor service. What typical inefficiency. Very unimpressed.