Squeak

Image

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.

_________________________________________________________

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.

_____________________________________________

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.

Advertisements

Merry Xmas

Image

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.

_____________________________________________________

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!

_____________________________________________________

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.

________________________________________________

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.

_____________________________________________

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

Image

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.

Image

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

It’s a date

Bali dawn© P. J. Croft 2010, 2013

“Today is 11/12/13, the last date this century with three consecutive numbers

This is the tale of Ron Gordon, the American science teacher whose life mission has been to make the world take notice of arithmetically appealing dates.” Guardian
Yes! Remember last year – 12/12/12 ? That was the last year this cenhtury that such a date was possible (my opinion). I took photos of a clock face on that day, and also tried to show 12.12pm on 12/12/12.   13/13/13 ? Couldn’t be done. The next possible date will be 01/01/01, meaning 1 January 2101. And the memorable 11/11/11 ? I do. I also have a photo I took on 03/03/03. I remember 06/06/66, 07/07/77, 08/08/88 and 09/09/99.
There was no 0/0/00 for the change from 1999 to 2000, and the turn of the millennium was NOT 01/01/00, even though the world celebrated it on that date. They were wrong! The turn of the millennium was 01/01/01 – 2001, not 2000.
Then there was 08/08/08 (2008) which the Chinese liked so much they built an Olympic Games around it.
____________________________________________
Bali dawn 2© P. J. Croft 2010, 2013
Bali dawn 3©  P. J. Croft 2010, 2013
Why are these here? Dunno, just like ’em.

Goodness

 

There’s a lot of praise for Nelson Mandela and I’ll contribute my bit. He was universally admired for being “a good bloke”.Image

© P.J. Croft 2013

It’s not hard to be “good”. It’s the default condition for humans, I think. You don’t have to work at it. Just live by the Golden Rule  — do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Just relax and be polite, considerate of others’ feelings, easy to get along with, uncritical, truthfull, honest and non violent. It’s not hard!

But to be bad, you have to work at it. If you have any self respect, the bad things you do will eat at you. If you are amoral, maybe not, but you’ll always have to watch your back, deal carefully with others, take criticism, and if you aspire to be a leader, you’ll probably have to fight your way to the top by doing wrong to others. That means you’ll always be wary of being toppled, knifed. You’ll probably need paid bodyguards whose loyalty you can’t be sure of.

Mandela probably had bodyguards or protectors from people who saw him as a threat to their schemes, but I think they were volunteers who did it for love.

If you do good, you’ll almost certainly receive it too.

The title picture is intentional. Dad was pretty universally regarded a “a good bloke”. I try to emulate him.

________________________________________

Aaaargh, that beach stair climb on Sunday seemed OK at the time, but I’m suffering for it now – sore thigh muscles! I could hardly walk last night, especially as I did a lot of walking at the Joondalup Lakeside shops yesterday. I won’t give up, though. It does me good.

________________________________________________

How much longer must we put up with the traffic blockages in Marmion Ave near the tip?!! They’re building a new intersection, but it’s been nearly 4 months now of one lane closed in each direction. The tailbacks extend for a Km or so as people try to merge.

So I try to avoid it by using Connolly Drive, but there are road works there too! Same deal, down to one lane. Not as bad as the traffic is not as dense. I’m sick of it all as there are only those two connections from here and to block them both at the same time seems very stupid to me.

____________________________________________________

I bought a Blu Ray player yesterday, a Pioneer BDR-160, $146. That meant I could move my Pioneer DVD to the computer room where I can enjoy its smooth, musical sound with CDs. And I bought a cheap indoor TV antenna (just a coupla rods) and now I can get DAB+ in here too. I think the Mindarie repeater has made the difference as I couldn’t get a signal 6 months ago.

Now I’ve got two great sound locations, one with DVD, CD and DAB+, with DVDs if I set up a screen, and a nice pair of speakers (Tannoys) that I’ve had for 20 years.

In the other, I’ve got TV, Blu Ray, DVDs, and a big 75W/channel amp with really good speakers, KEF Q7s, bought in 2003. Big sound. Now that my 32″ Sony screen is installed in its proper place, I find it adequate. I don’t need anything bigger.

I’m really settling into this house now. It was very hard at the beginning, but it’s becoming much more like home now, much more comfortable. And it’s cool, but if I need aircon, it’s there.

Happy Xmas and New Year.

 

Bladdered fools

Beach 3I’ve just done the beach stairs for the first time in over three months. Sense of achievement. I was slow, but I got to the bottom and up again. It took a few stops, but it wasn’t that difficult. If I can keep this up, I might get my travel legs back. I can go away now without worrying about Minnie.

Beach 1The widest angle of my Panasonic FZ70 zoom, 20mm. Note the far distant headland at top.

Beach 2This is that far headland! The same view but at the longest, 1200mm. Hard to hold steady in the wind, and it’s not that sharp, but …

_____________________________________________________

I was walking back from the shops across the car park behind the pub at about 5.20pm yesterday, and saw two young women followed by two blokes coming out of the pub. One of the women got into the driver’s seat of the car.

The other young woman was staggering toward the car and said, “I think I’m going to be sick” a couple of times. I got out of her way. She looked sick. Very unattractive, actually in that state.

Then she said, shouted, “Get the f..k out. I’m driving. F..k, I wanna drive!” She repeated this a couple of times and tried to pull the other woman out of the driver’s seat.

I walked on but I was looking back in amazement. Luckily one of the guys got in to drive, but I don’t know what state he was in either.

The message doesn’t get through, does it.

What’s the problem?

Image

It's easy, man.

From The Independent:  Goodbye to ‘she sells sea-shells on the sea-shore’, hello to ‘pad kid poured curd pulled cold’ – quite possibly the hardest tongue twister ever created.

Although the phrase makes little sense, it was able to completely defeat volunteers taking part in a US speech study, researchers said.

Asked to repeat the phrase 10 times at speed, many of the participants simply stopped speaking altogether, according to lead researcher Dr Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel, from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston.

“If anyone can say this 10 times quickly, they get a prize,” she said.   [The Independent]

What’s the problem? I can say this easily, even ten times. Maybe it’s an American accent thing. I should claim the prize!

__________________________________________________________

Sometimes you have a win. I like digital DAB+ radio but reception up here has been marginal – lots of fading.  I read about a month ago that Perth had been approved for a “black hole” reception boost and we were going to get a repeater at Mindarie, just down the road. Oh yeah, I thought, in 2015 maybe?

Then yesterday I read in Silicon Chip that it’s done – Mindarie is up and transmitting. Sure enough, I can move the radios around now with minimal fading.

My car radio also has DAB+ reception, so it should make that work well too. Finally, Perth gets some attention. We were the first Australian city to get DAB+ in 2009 as well. Well, well, well.

_____________________________________________

I’d be out shopping today or tomorrow, but the crowds and full car parks at the major shopping centres put me off completely. I’ve sussed out the way to bus and train to Joondalup Lakeside and it’s not too hard (the bus stop is only 150m away), but it will take the best part of an hour to get there. Then, with no car, you’re restricted in what you can carry. If I want to drive and park, I’ll just have to get going early. At least I can use the Seniors bays now.

__________________________________

I watched a BluRay I bought from Amazon last night. I only ordered from them because it doesn’t seem to be available in Australia. It cost $17 approx. It’s a US Region A disc, meaning you can only play it with a Region A player. Lucky mine allows changing regions. I’ve got a half dozen or so Region As now.

I need another BluRay player – I’ve got two viewing rooms now. How decadent.  You can buy multi-region players in Australia, but it seems to add $200 to the cost of locked players. Why?? It’s a very minor change in the electronics. I think it’s the Australia Tax at work again.

The movie? It’s about a six person mission to Europa in 2200 I think, but it was never deemed good enough to go to cinemas. I can see why. The idea is good, but it’s just another American plot with clashes between the crew, grumpy astronauts, venturing onto the surface without testing it first, lots and lots of sparks and radiation and equipment failures and so on. The camera work is jerky, hard to watch and very jumpy.

I watched right through, but (a) how come astronauts who can’t get along with each other are selected for a two year mission? (b) why are grumpy, argumentative guys chosen who don’t seem smart enough to have any science knowledge? (c) why are all the computer display graphics so crude and hard to interpret 100 years after the invention of graphical user interfaces?  Finally, why couldn’t we have had a storyline which showed the awesome sight of this ice and water world? All the scenes are dark, close up and dirty.  4/10

___________________________________________

I look at BBC Australia on the web most days and I’ve long noticed that the weather forecasts for Perth are wildly out. Almost every day they say Max 4C Min -1 or similar. I thought this was just an HTML oddity.

But a few days ago I got sick of it and tried to change my location. I typed in Butler WA but all I got to choose from was UK addresses. Then it dawned on me – the Perth on the BBC page is Perth, Scotland. So much for BBC Australia. 🙂