Just thinkin’

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Heathrow 2006

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Heathrow 2012. Building new terminal.

I got a bit excited yesterday when I saw an ad for a cruise ship leaving from Fremantle for the UK on 1 April over 40 nights. That would be exactly 40 years to the day since I first took the ship-jet to Britain with Geoff, how about that?

I’ve done four cruises years ago and apart from one, really enjoyed them. The only one not so good was the return Singapore to Freo in November 1974. Nothing wrong with the ship, I just wanted to get home and it seemed as if the ship was stopped in the water at times. Anyway …

I’ve always wanted to do a cruise through the Suez canal and the Mediterranean, stopping at various Euro ports.  So I looked up the details, only to find that it goes via Reunion, Mauritius, Capetown and the west side of Africa.  Nah.  Not for me. That’s the long way and too much likelihood of bad weather.

I wonder if they go that way for fear of pirates near the Horn of Africa and troubles in the Middle East?

Anyway, although the fare was advertised at “from $4,729”, that’s for a quad inside cabin, only available to a block booking of four passengers.  Hah! Other twin cabins are $5,500 upwards. No thanks!

So that set me thinking – one reason I don’t want to fly direct is the boredom and discomfort (for someone my size) of a long flight. What if I did the thing I did in 2008 – Perth to KL, stay a couple of days, KL to Colombo and stay several days there (I would like to see Sri Lanka), Colombo to Vienna and train the rest of the way to London. Slow trip, lots of rest and sightseeing stops.  That would come in at way, way under $5,000 I should think, even staying four star. I’ll have to do the sums.

But to do it, I’ll have to get my legs back in order again. Ulceration started again a couple of weeks ago and although it seems to be healing well, it’s still a worry.

UPDATE:  I’ve just removed the dressings and bingo, it’s almost completely healed. The doctor will be pleased. Inodine gauze dressing is the answer, plus antibiotic.

I’ve done the beach stairs three times in the last four days and I’m starting to enjoy it again. Each time gets a little easier. No sore muscles this time either.

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Gare du Nord Sept 2008

Come to think of it, May/June/July/August is peak season in Europe. I don’t think I want to be there at that time. Sept/October was brilliant last time.  Hmmm, another destination in April?

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In preparation, I ordered a new camera this morning, an Olympus OM-D E-M1 body, as I have several Olympus lenses already.  Winner of two Camera of the Year awards so far. An outstanding design. Should arrive Thursday or Friday, from a Sydney store.

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More book pages:

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And right on cue, an email just arrived saying my books (this one, two copies) have been despatched, should arrive Thurs or Fri. Should be exciting days.

Rain!

It rained a few minutes ago! For Perth, at this time of the year, it’s a bloody miracle. It was light and only lasted a few minutes, but the road is wet outside my front door. Noice.

A few more pages from the book:

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071It’s quite a buzz.

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I got an email this morning from someone I know headed: Please view this document

Oh yeah?  The body text asked me to click on a link and called it urgent.

Bulldust!  The link led to an address in country code .be, which is Belgium, and it included the word “pictures”.  Naturally, I declined their offer.

I haven’t corresponded with the friend in the address for 3 years or so. That means someone somewhere has one of our emails.  Scary.

One for the books

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Finished another book today, the Java one. I’ve been working on this since mid 2012 through endless checks and revisions.  Every time I thought it was finished, I’d find another small error like reversed page numbers on 4-5 and 6-7 yesterday.  Or I’d slightly reword some text, or shift a photo a little bit.  Anyway, it’s done and sent off to be printed, so it’s too late now.  You can always order more copies if you want any changes.

But the cost! — $308 for 110 pages with a faux leather cover.  I ordered two copies, so $616.  Gulp.  It’s worth it, though.  On the other hand, today I’ve ordered two 15″ x 11″ (same as the one I’ve just done) blanks of 40 pages for $48 each on special. Their specials are not bad. It’s added pages that increase the cost.

Next is Japan, followed by an Asia Special, followed by Veni Vidi …  a retrospective.

Then there’s a Blu Ray — London, Cambridge, York: a Musical Tour.  And then another Blu Ray.  I’m never bored.

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Did the beach steps today.  Hard going – it’ll be interesting to see how my legs are tomorrow.  I thought I might try the bus/train to Joondalup.  It seems to take less time than I first thought.

Seeds of doubt

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This is interesting. I’m reading a book at the moment called Command and Control, about the USA’s nuclear weapons and their safety from earliest days to now. It’s written by a NY Times journalist and is reviewed as authoritative.

There have been a few niggles in my mind while reading it, things that seem like sweeping statements and hyperbole, along with a few grammatical errors.

Last night I was reading the part about where in 1958 a nuclear bomb was accidentally dropped over North Carolina (it didn’t go off). The author says Britain’s Daily Mail ran the headline, Is Carolina on Your Mind?

This immediately struck me as odd: In My Mind I’m Goin’ to Carolina, a song sung by James Taylor.  But 1958?  No!  He wrote the song in 1968.  Why would the Daily Mail have used those words in 1958?  It makes me doubt other things in the book too.

Just sayin’.

Memories (2)

A couple more shots of Berry St.

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The front room. Jack and Bill on mantelpiece. I remember that clock very well. We had it for many years.

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The wireless. I remember those paintings too. We brought them to WA.

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I’m not certain about this one due to the poor quality,

but I think it’s my Dad (Jack) at his desk at work at the NSW Lands Dept.

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I’m guessing, but Doris, Jack, Marion in bath, maybe Bill against door. Tall one?

Judging by my Dad’s age, about 1926, at Prince St of course.

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Bill, Marion, Darcy, Jack. This one’s got a date: 29 April 1949

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Tom, Jonathan, Donald and Ernie, with Rowdy.

I took this shot, around December 1971 at Corindi, NSW.

I’ve been trying to match early shots with today’s views:

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Where is there such a high point near Mona Vale (early photo)? The nearest I could find was a spot among the houses in Newport, of about 150m and another at Bilgola Plateau.

img183 smallimg183cSpit Bridge, then and now.

More to come.

Aaah, memories (1)

In keeping with Jono’s blog, here are some of the photos I’ve collected for my memoirs. My Dad was a keen photographer all his life too, so I’ve got a lot of photos you ‘foreigners’ probably haven’t seen.

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17 Berry St, North Sydney, date??  Ernest Croft on right. On left ??

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17 Berry St today, white apartments on right.
Looking toward Pacific Highway, Optus building in view.

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Looking in the other direction (W). This is more as I remember it.
I think the kindergarten was around the corner to the right at the bottom of the street.

I have many hundreds, if not thousands of photos stored away. Dad was always taking photos, especially over in WA and I have a great record of our early life until around the 1970s when we all left home for work and our own lives. Still some after that, but not as frequent.

I’m lucky as I’ve got a folder of 74 shots of myself at almost every age (well, I’m only 66 after all). I’m a narcissist  😉

Squeak

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Squirrel, Hyde Park, London  © P.J. Croft 2008, 2013
There’s a mouse in my house
He scuttles around
Not making a sound
Looking for his spouse?
Too late, I’m afraid
She’s in a cupboard
Like Mother Hubbard
But permanently delayed (i.e. daid)
So welcome little mouse
I think it’s grouse
That you chose my house
In place of a louse.

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It’s Christmas and maybe time for another camera! I discovered yesterday that a Chinese company is making adapters to fit my Zeiss Contax G lenses to a variety of camera bodies, with a clever focus ring to allow manual focus.

These are legendary lenses that I bought in a film camera set up in 2001 but almost never use now. They don’t have a focus ring, so they’ve always been a problem to adapt to other cameras.  Now I’ve found that a newish Panasonic Micro 4/3 body has IBIS, In Body Image Stabilisation (the GX7), a first for Panasonic. So by adapting these lenses to the Pana body, I’ve instantly got a very high quality camera with three super quality lenses. Hmmm.

6.30pm:  Naaah. I get these urges, you see, but then I sleep it off. I have ordered the Contax G adapter ($160), but I’ve already got a Micro 4/3 body so I’ll stick with that.

The digital camera scene is absolutely amazing at this moment. Complete paradigm shifts in sensor size, pixel count, quality from the sensor, body and lens sizes, viewfinder types, body shapes … You used to need a 4″x 5″ or 8″x 10″ film camera to get quality good enough for 30″x 40″ prints (and you couldn’t possibly print that size at home). Not any more. A $1,200 digital camera (of a certain type!) will give the same quality as these old film cameras or better.

No sooner do we think, “Oh yeah, this is the one” than something better comes along. And cheaper in real terms. I remember clearly being infatuated with the Canon 5D full frame in 2006 and it was about $4,000 body only. (I didn’t buy it!)  Now you can buy a camera with the world’s best full frame sensor, capable of testing the world’s best lenses, for $2,400. Like TVs, wait a month and the price will come down further and there’ll be a new, better model. Good for us, but you wonder how the makers feel.

The sun is set to “flip upside down” within weeks as its magnetic field reverses polarity in an event that will send ripple effects throughout the solar system.

Although it may sound like a catastrophic occurrence, there’s no need to run for cover. The sun switches its polarity, flipping its magnetic north and south, once every eleven years through an internal mechanism about which little is understood.

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Hey, watch out! The Sun’s magnetic field is about to reverse.

The sun is set to “flip upside down” within weeks as its magnetic field reverses polarity in an event that will send ripple effects throughout the solar system.
Although it may sound like a catastrophic occurrence, there’s no need to run for cover. The sun switches its polarity, flipping its magnetic north and south, once every eleven years through an internal mechanism about which little is understood.
The swap could however cause intergalactic weather fronts such as geomagnetic storms, which can interfere with satellites and cause radio blackouts. [The Independent]

I read a book in about November 1974 called The HAB Effect. HAB stood for Herbert Alan Boardman, and he was a scientist who was trying to warn the US government (and hence the world) that the Earth’s magnetic field was going to reverse (quite true, it does). It made a lasting impression on me, as you can tell.

So this is the Sun, not the Earth, but it’ll be interesting all the same.

Merry Xmas

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Xmas 2010. Forest Place, Perth. Panasonic LX5  © P.J. Croft 2013

I went to Joondalup shopping centre yesterday, a 15Km drive. In early afternoon, the parking wasn’t as bad as I expected and I snagged a slot as soon as a car moved out.

Woolworths!! I bought a box of four glasses, got them home, only to find one glass was missing.  Grrr.

Then in the supermarket, I bought two rock melon halves marked down to $1 each. Only today did I go through the till docket to find I’d been charged twice that, $2 each. Grrrr!

I am fed up with Woolworths. I don’t think there’s a single time I can remember when I haven’t found an example of mispricing, and it’s always in their favour. I have a fantastic memory and I look hard at each price before deciding, then go through the till docket when I leave, if I remember, or later at home. Always, always, I find at least one error in their favour, usually in short dated items or specials which still scan at the old price or similar.

I’m sure they rely on us not checking our dockets, or not remembering the prices, or being too tired to go back. A nice way to boost profits, ain’t it? A bit here, a bit there.

Not me. Tomorrow I have to go that way and I’m going to be banging on the counter (not literally) pointing out these errors and how annoyed I am that I have to come back every time. This has been going on for years. It’s only Woolworths and BigW. Rarely if ever do I find an error with Coles.

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It goes on and on. I bought a new glucometer (blood sugar meter) on Saturday, and a box of test strips to go with it. I’ve been using these for 20 years – I know what to do: take the calibration chip out of the box of test strips and plug it into the slot in the meter.

Uh, where’s the chip? I searched high and low in the box, in the meter packaging, in the folded instruction leaflet inside. No chip.

I went back to the chemist. They didn’t know. They thought maybe you don’t need a calibration chip with these newer meters. Try it without it.

Nope – it won’t work. Today I phoned Roche, the makers. What’s going on?  Oh, we’re changing over to a permanently calibrated meter which doesn’t need the chip. You seem to have got an old meter mixed up in the changeover. We’ll post one out to you.  Gee, thanks. Bloody hell!

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Yesterday at Joondalup I had to push my trolley a fair way around the outside, over quite a few curbs. As I negotiated one, a young lady (late teens?) came past at a fast clip and I saw her look briefly at my trolley and me before moving on. I realised that she was watching me, ready to lend a hand if I couldn’t manage the curb.

I didn’t say anything initially, but about a minute later I called out and said, “You were going to lend me a hand, weren’t you. Thank you, thank you very much.” She smiled and looked pleased before moving on.  There are some good ones.

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I saw a podiatrist last week for toenails and a possible ingrown one (not badly, easily fixed). I said I get pain in my left foot every time I walk due to a fallen arch.

He produced a small rubber pad, cut it to shape and stuck it in my sandal. Bingo. Instant fix. That’s all it took. Wish all fixes were that simple.

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One good thing about Woolies yesterday was that they were selling a Caffitaly capsule coffee maker on special at $49. I’ve looked at the Nespresso line but the astronomical prices for their machines and the fact that you can’t buy the capsules except via the web made me laugh at it.

But this machine was priced at a level where I’m prepared to give it a go. The capsules were $5.99 for a pack of 16. I’ve used it once today and it’s not bad at all. As I say, it’s not a big outlay to try it. It’s a solid machine, well made.

Perth

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Perth 14 December 2013

P1000155 CU smallCentral Park tower,  1200mm hand held!

I've improved the previous version of this image
by reducing noise and sharpness a bit.

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1200mm, from the South Perth foreshore, hand held!