Stay alert, Pete

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Peacocks have more than 19 tail feathers.
© PJ Croft 2014
Why do I say this? A caller to Eoin Cameron's
ABC breakfast program a few weeks ago
said peacocks only have 19 tailfeathers.
Well, as you can see, I disagree.
I tried very hard to send this image to
Mr Cameron via the ABC website, but they make it
nearly impossible! The ABC does NOT want your comments.
They put barriers in your path. Not happy.

Heh heh.  I’ve been thinking about what to take on my trip and some music would be nice.  CDs?  No, too heavy and bulky with the portable CD player (yes, I still have one from about 1995. It’s been a good one.)  MiniDiscs?  Could do — both the discs and the player/recorder are lighter and smaller than CDs.

Aah, mp3s.  No weight or bulk for the media at all.  Very small and light mp3 player.  But, I thought, I don’t have one, so I looked for one at Joondalup today.  And a pair of lightweight headphones.

Then it hit me —  I’ve already got both!  I have my iPod Touch 16GB.  That holds mp3s and plays them.  And I have a pair of folding noise-cancelling headphones that I bought for my 2008 trip.  Problem solved.  Keep up, Pete.

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Another thing I have to take is a small chilly bin, with a freezer block.  No, not for the beer, for my insulin.  The fresh pens have to be kept cold until opened for use.  I’ll need an Esky to take them from home to the ship and from the ship to the hotel in Singapore.  When I come back to Perth, leaving Singapore for the flight home, I’ll have injected at my daily time of 7am and the flight’s at 3.30pm, so I won’t need that Esky any more.  That’s why I bought a $15 cheapie — I’ll just dump it in Singapore to save bulk and weight on the plane.

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This is my second week injecting insulin.  When I first filled the prescription, I was surprised to be given 5 boxes of 5 pens each box, 25 100ml pens!  Wow, so many.

But I went from 10ml per day to 44ml per day now, and I’m still not under control yet.  The goal is a BSL between 4-6 mmol/L – I’m still around 9-12, although an hour ago it was 6.3.  It’s clear that I’ll need about 50ml per day, i.e. half a pen per day.  No wonder you get 25 pens.

I’ll need to be careful to calculate and take what I need for the trip.  There’ll be no trouble getting more pens here within this month’s prescription period.  That’s allowed for travel reasons.

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Do I take the laptop?  At first I thought I’ll need it to download photos from my camera cards, but nah, you can fit an awful lot of images on a 16GB card.  Leave them there.

Playing BluRays?  It has a BluRay player/recorder built in, but it’s only a 13.3″ screen.  Nah, read a book, listen to music, stay on deck and smell the sea.

Email/blog?  Take a break!  It would be nice to blog about the trip and write about cabbages and kings, but carrying that extra 2Kg item?

Viewing and editing the video I’ll shoot?  The camera I’m taking with me (the Olympus OM-D E-M1) can shoot HD video and this is a chance to make a story out of the trip.  That’s a pretty powerful reason and might swing the balance.  I’ll pack the bag and weigh it up, so to speak.

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A few snippets from today:

  • I need some curtains.  I finally found two patterns that I like in BigW  (yeah, cheap, cheap).  But for both of them, there was only one curtain on the shelves.
  • Always on the lookout for watches (even though I’ve just bought one), I browsed jewellers’ windows.  No price tags are allowed to be seen! OK, that makes me take note of any design I’m interested in, then go home and find it on the web.  The jeweller loses any possible sale.
  • Same for sunglasses today.  I passed a stall with some that I might have liked. But none of them was priced.  I walked on …
  • The new multi story car park is open at Joondalup so I parked there and walked toward the lift.  A workman was coming out and he said, “No mate, you can’t get into the centre from here. The lift only opens onto the building works. You have to walk outside and walk about 100m down there.”  So I got in my car and drove to the Seniors bay near where I wanted to go.
  • I bought a big lot of boxy storage type things from the Reject Shop using one of their plastic shopping carts, piled high.  The checkout chick said, “Do you want a big bag for this?”  I said,  “No, I’ll use the trolley.”
    “Sorry sir, trolleys are not allowed to be taken out of the shop.”
    “Just watch me”, I said.  “My car is right there.”
    So she left her checkout post and carried half my load out to my car.  Nice of her, but …

And on and on …  I have no sympathy for retailers.  Dumbness rules.

Travellin’ man

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1977 Arcadia menu, with names and addresses
of the lovely girls I shared my table with.
Pity they were in Sydney and Brisbane.

Things change overnight.  Yesterday’s West carried an ad for a ship cruise from Fremantle to Singapore departing Thursday 6 March.  That’s next Thursday!  It’s for 6 nights/7days on the ship, plus two nights in Singapore and the flight back to Perth.  This suits me perfectly.  I have an appointment on 24 March so I’ll be back in time.

Therefore at 7am today I was on the dog and bone getting all the details and by 10am I’d booked and paid.  In fact I’ve ditched their choice of Singapore hotel as too expensive and added three nights in Singapore to the itinerary, so I return on Tuesday 18 March in the evening.  I’ll book a hotel myself of my choice.

The ship is the P&O Arcadia.  I actually travelled on this ship in 1976 on a Pacific cruise from Sydney.  Here I am boarding in Sydney at The Rocks terminal:

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Boarding Arcadia 16 May 1977.
Oh so young and slim. (Aged 30)

I’m sure the ship has been refurbished at least once since then. It better have been, because it was a bit crude even then – shared cabin, separate men’s bathrooms with complimentary cockroaches, steel framed double bunks.

This time these berths are late sales due to cancellations (I presume) and I got the last inner cabin – but I’ve got it all to myself and it has its own bathroom. And a fridge for my insulin.  And 220V power for my CPAP machine.  No porthole, I’m afraid, but the travel company has told me that if there’s a balcony (outside) cabin unsold when we depart, they might upgrade me. Nice.  The cost to upgrade when I booked was going to be + $793. No thanks, I can go on deck if I need a view.

Nearly forgot to mention – the itinerary includes a one day stop in Bali.  I wanted to talk to some friends there and was considering a trip, so it’s perfect timing.  And  I’ve got SE Asia maps on my TomTom now, including Bali.  Not sure I need to carry that extra item, though. I’ll know where I am:-)

Now I start the process I love – planning, even if only in my head at the moment, what I’m going to pack and what I’ll buy in Singapore.  As little as possible in the former case and not much in the latter.  I’m afraid Singapore bargains are long gone.  Web prices are the only way to go now.  The last time I was in Singapore was actually in 2004, but I doubt anything’s changed.

But what I do look forward to is second hand photo gear!  Singapore is a camera gearhead’s Mecca.  And by buying second hand, I don’t have to worry about Customs coming back.  They’ve told me they aren’t interested in used equipment for duty or GST purposes.

The other thing is the incredible range of stock.  I see all the exotic items that I can’t find here.  The web has mostly changed that but I still love browsing these actual shops.  I’ll be taking a camera bag that I can afford to ditch if I find something better, for example.

Oh yes, after I’d paid the full price for the trip by BPay this morning, I drove to Whitfords to go to Medicare to reclaim some bills.  I had a lot – I haven’t made any claims for about 12 months. So I was delighted to find that I got refunds totalling about $100 more than the cruise cost.  Very nice.

So all in all, I’m very chuffed.  Although I loved my dogs deeply, they were a ball and chain around my ankle. This is the first time in 10 years I’ve been able to do this – make a spur of the moment decision and just go – and I was only able to do it in 2004 because a neighbour fed them each day in my yard.

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That 1977 cruise took in Noumea, Vanuatu, Port Vila and Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides and Suva and Lautoka in Fiji. It was good, helped along by the food on board! Wow, I’d never eaten so well and I didn’t gain weight easily then. All the drink was duty free of course, a can of beer was 70c, a bottle of wine with dinner was about $2 and a liqueur on ice was about $1.50.  (Actually, a bottle of wine now is only $10-$15 with full excise – it hasn’t increased in price that much. Wine is still cheap.)

Memories?  The French feel of Noumea and the New Hebrides and the roughness of Fiji.  Dusty, not all that attractive, and now not a very good place to go either. I won’t go while it’s still a military dictatorship.

I filmed all this trip on Super 8 Kodachrome.  The four edited and spliced reels are in the wardrobe now.  I can’t project them any more (I can barely remember ever seeing them projected), but I could get them transferred in high quality to DVD by a Sydney company if I was willing to pay the $400 cost.  It was too high a few years ago, but I might reconsider now.  I’ll be disappointed, of course.

Iconic

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Now, this is an icon.  © Peter Croft 1992, 2014

I’ve decided it’s time to establish an organisation called Iconics Anonymous.  It’s for journalists, mainly, but anyone who can’t help themself using iconic more than once a year is welcome to join.  Some unfortunate scribes have been known to use this word twice in the same piece.

We will hold meetings once a week where you can say out loud,  “I’m a victim of this awful cliche word, gasp!, iconic and I admit it.”  We will use aversion therapy where the word is endlessly repeated, a bit like reading a newspaper, until the journalist begs for mercy.  The true meaning of the word will also be explored and its proper use explained with the use of diagrams, etymologies, Power Point presentations, text book quotations and dictionaries, with many, nay, prolific examples to be studied from the Australian press.

Anyone who has used the word up to twice in the past week is eligible to join at no cost, but each trespass above twice incurs a $10 per misuse joining fee.  Any journalist who falls back on this word during the week will be made to write out lines.  Repeat offenders will be made to read all the offending pieces from all sources for the past month.  This will take some time.  All fines and fees will accrue to me. 😉

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This crazy, annoying blogging software.  The text above is a cut and paste from an email I wrote, but look how some has pasted as a smaller font, but some is this bigger font, even in the same sentence!  Look how it changes after the $10.  There’s no logic too it. I haven’t edited the item.  Grrr.  This is Word Press and I think you have to pay to get the full quid.  I have no control over font size in the unpaid version.  Annoying.

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A bloke bent my bumper today.  I was waiting for him to back out of his parking space next to mine, and nudge!  Nudgy wudgy.  My car moved.  His front bumper had a much too close encounter with my rear bumper.

I waited a few seconds for him to get out but he made no move to, so I got out and approached him.  Only then did he wind his window down.  I reckon he would have driven away if he thought he could get away with it.

The damage to my bumper was only his grey paint added to a green scrape of my own, but his bumper was pushed in and had a fair helping of my white paint on it.  He was an old bloke so I just said, “Oh, don’t worry about it – the damage to your car is what you should be concerned about.”  He still didn’t get out and just drove away.

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My car, a Magna Advance station wagon, is 13 years old now and although it’s still ultra reliable and drives beautifully, it’s looking a bit down at heel.  I use the wagon functionality a fair bit to transport flat pack furniture, for example, or long bits of timber or curtain rods and so on.

It also used to transport my beautiful dogs. That’s why I needed a wagon.  Both Boopsie the Border Collie and Minnie the Golden Labrador used to be able to jump up into the back — in fact they loved doing so because it meant a trip in the car! Going somewhere!  Pant pant, dribble dribble.

Just memories now.  Very, very fond memories.

Anyway, I was talking to a bank man in Clarkson about a future reverse mortgage and there’s no problem.  Don’t do it now, of course, but when I turn 70 it’ll be time to think about it.

So I’m thinking of a replacement car.  I remember thinking that this Magna would be the last car I’d be able to afford, but it’s not worked out that way — it looks as if I can buy another car.  Not new, it will be second hand, but it might be an addition, not a replacement.  So I’m thinking — what do I want?  Honda S2000 comes to mind, but soft top only and manual only.  Mercedes 500SL convertible?  They date from the 1990s so it would be a 20 year old car and possibly a money pit.  But a friend from Channel 7 days is an encyclopedia on Mercs and would be a good advisor.

Or a Lexus Soarer. Again a 1990s car, but with super reliable Lexus quality, it would be low risk.  Boring looks, though.  BMW 7 series?  Again, 1990s and money pits, I’m told.

Nice to think about things like this, though.

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Lucky I keep boxes.  My Pioneer Blu Ray player has given up the ghost.  It wouldn’t play Blu Ray discs, then seemed to refuse ordinary DVDs too, so I set it up on the bench in a simple configuration to try to work out what was what.  But now it won’t even power up.  I’ve tried other cables – I’m a tech, remember.  So I get the box out of the garage and pack it up to return it.  I’m sure JB will just swap it for a new one.  Hope I can still find the docket though.

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Up to 32 units of insulin this morning (increasing by 2U per day). Fasting BSL 8.5 — that’s the lowest for quite a few years, so it’s gradually working.  Food really spikes me up still, and it’s not coming down fast enough.  I see the doc again on Thursday for review.  I feel reasonably OK but any exertion (even pushing a trolley around the shops) tires me out.

Still off the grog, by the way!  It’s about a month or more now.  You’d think the benefit of the reduction in calories from the beer and all the crunchies i Used to eat as well would show up?  Not in the slightest.  I eat way less than the 8700KJ a day, but my weight is static.  It’s very discouraging.

Really?

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First, ain’t that nice?  This is a page of thumbnails of some of the pages in my latest book.  I just like looking at it. I’m gettin’ the hang of this. And the bug.

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I do a lot of web looking and I’m always bemused by the silly, stupid, idiotic, mystifying things I find.  Such as:

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Gee, the York Motel (150Km east of Perth) has moved to Mounts Bay Rd in the city.

Image“Here is another product that might interest you.”  Huh?  That’s it. There is no  more.

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This is classed as mystifying.  It’s the BOM radar.  Someone’s playing a joke I think.

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Really, really informative.  No matter how many times you click the three buttons, it won’t go away.

I’ve also been looking at hotels and motels in Perth.  A Bed and Breakfast in one of the northern suburbs says “Rates are for room only. Continental Breakfast is $10 extra.”  It’s a bed and breakfast,  ffs.  Instant turn-off for me.

And a motel right on the coast advertises their rooms at $179 per night, or $199 if you want an ocean view.  Gee thanks.  I know this motel – $200 a night??!!  For what?  It’s an old 60s style, no facilities.  Not me.

Why have I been looking?  I have to be at the Mount Hospital on 2 April at 6.30am, and another hospital (edit: on another day!) at a similar time. And not drive immediately afterwards.  I’m thinking of making a night of it in a nice hotel.

Well, well

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Mandurah 2003 © P J Croft 2014
Which weather would you prefer, sir?
This is a scan of a 6 x 9cm film transparency.
It was from a Fuji 6x9 camera I had at the time,
a lovely camera but BIG. So is this file, 55MB
before I resized it for posting here.

Ooops, that can’t be a transparency, a slide.  Know why? See the dirt specks in the clouds on the right? They’re white.  If it was slide film they would be black.

Well, well.  A little speech box was flashing at me on the header bar and when I clicked on it to see what it meant, it told me “Congratulations, your stats are booming. Looks like your blog is attracting lots of views.”  So I’m not talking to myself after all.

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Phew, week after week of hot weather, I mean maxs of 34-37C every day.  Thank goodness this house has full ducted aircon and is beautifully cool. I came across this graph yesterday:

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Credit http://www.theguardian.com/environment/southern-crossroads/2014/feb/21/extreme-heat-in-australia-more-longer-hotter

It’s a bit hard to read but the bars are the number of heatwave days per year from 1950 to 2010 averaged across Australia.  I emphasise the averaged bit because it pays little attention to WA, where we have our own weather.  I’m not kidding about that – WA is totally influenced by the Indian Ocean and the Southern Ocean, whereas the eastern states are influenced by the interior and the Pacific Ocean currents.  I would bet my boots that WA would show a more extreme trend than that.

This tallies with this graph of global temperatures over the same period:

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(Sorry, I don’t know where I copied it from.)  This is not the same data – this is worldwide global mean temperatures over a similar period, but it shows the same trend to me.  Mr Abbott BA Boxing Oxon., you can tell us it’s just normal variation all you like, but tell that to the firefighters, foresters, farmers, fishermen, forecasters, flora and fauna scientists and other people who see the effects every day.  They’ll tell you to f-off.

I saw a major article the other day where an economist said we should just accept that global warming is occurring and just make efforts to adapt to it rather than wasting money on trying to stop it. Stop fighting a possibly losing battle to get industries and major polluters to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and spend money instead on adapting ourselves in our housing and lifestyles. He was a northern hemisphere guy, btw.

Oh yeah?  That’s fine for we humans, but what about the rest of the flora and fauna of this earth?  What about the food chain of animal life that we depend on?  Especially bees! What about the eco-balance of the land and forests and seas?  I could go on in this vein, but how typical of an economist to see it only in money terms!

The other point is – it’s conservatives who are most likely to deny that climate change is happening, despite the clear evidence.  Vide* Mr Abbott, Mr Murdoch, Mr Howard, News Corp columnist Miranda Devine, Lord “Haw Haw” Monckton, Lord Matt Ridley and so on and on.

They don’t see any need to present their own scientific research, they just know it’s all wrong.  No scientific qualifications required.  They’ll be the death of us, quite literally. People will die of increased heat related effects, bush fires and floods in this country and rising sea levels and spreading diseases in third world countries. It’s actually, measurably happening. Nice going guys.  Sleep well.

[* I was a bit unsure of my use of this Latin word, but from Wiktionary:

Verb vide (singular imperative verb; plural videte)

See; consult; refer to! A remark directing the reader to look to the specified place for epexegesis.]

Here’s another great graphic – deniers’ arguments vs the facts:

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Yesterday I was feeling a bit out of sorts and for a few hours I convinced myself that I wasn’t going to have the gastric sleeve operation after all.  I’d have the band removed, but no, the sleeve is too extreme and I’d rather enjoy the rest of my life eating and drinking normally. The $5,000 for the operation is too much and I could spend that on travel or something.

Then I snapped out of it.  Enjoy the rest of my life?!  I’m already getting a taste of how bad diabetic effects can be, and my left leg is giving me trouble and a bit of pain again.  If I don’t do anything, I’ll be on increasing doses of insulin and possibly lose a leg.  So much for enjoying the rest of my life. Shortening it, more likely.

It’s interesting that the medical articles call gastric sleeve/bypass a “Cure for diabetes” first, and a method of losing weight second.  They say it should be the first line of treatment rather than wasting time on a losing battle with medication alone.

I have no choice. It has to be done if I don’t want to die a painful, messy, lonely and premature death.

Stop please

I’ve just been sent an email containing sentiments like this:

When I hear that a prisoner – who was issued a Koran and a prayer mat, and ‘fed special food’ that is paid for by my taxes – is complaining that his holy book is being ‘mishandled,’ you can absolutely believe in your heart of hearts:

I don’t care.

I’ve replied to the sender saying, Take me off your copy-to list!  I do not want hate stuff like this!  I do not want to be told things like “F–k off, we’re full.”  If these people want to push these ideas, let them start their own blog or web site where I have the choice of looking at it or not.

Unfortunately, since sending out all those emails about our school reunion, some people have started sending me all their “you must see this” stuff.  Some of it I don’t mind, like the jokes.  But others are these hate mails and masses of cute animal photos or weird Photoshopped pictures, or links to You Tube videos that I haven’t got time to waste seeing.   Grrr.

6.40pm:  What did I tell you?  Another one of these time wasters just came in from one of my Northam addressees.  It’s not offensive but it goes straight into the bin.  I’ll have to ask him to stop.

Three strikes

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You think you have neighbourhood problems?  A housing development in China.
This is from the web but I can't remember where.

Yesterday I expressed my opinion that conservative governments tend to push simplistic solutions to complex problems.

in my inbox today is this from Choice:

Last Friday the Attorney-General announced that the government
was looking at introducing a so-called three-strikes policy in
an attempt to fight online piracy. These policies give warnings
for alleged copyright infringement before eventually issuing
fines or even banning consumers from the internet. 

These policies have failed almost everywhere they have been
introduced. They are costly, ineffective, and lack due process
which can put innocent consumers at risk.

Another simplistic idea which is bound to fail, but will be costly in time and money.

This is the same attorney-general who sent ASIO into a lawyer’s office in Canberra to confiscate evidence in an International Court of Justice in the Hague case over East Timor’s right to oil revenues.  ASIO!  In a lawyer’s office!  Client confidentiality!  Privilege!  This is an outrage.  Our attorney-general is a simpleton suburban solicitor, out of his depth.

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This is interesting.  You will be interested, OK?

This is a drawing I downloaded a couple of years ago from the UK Ordnance Survey web site.

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Familiar shape.  Next is a zoom in.

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And another zoom in.

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Another zoom.

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Final zoom.

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This is a vector drawing which is capable of any amount of enlargement without pixellation. It has 205 layers!  I’ve used layers in drawings, but never as many as that.  Unfortunately the layers are not named, so you can’t see what they mean except by turning them all off (a laborious process, one by one), then turning each one on in turn.  Not me.

By the way, it’s a .dxf file if you know AutoCAD.

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Speaking of food (the radio is), I cooked last night!  This was the first time since I moved here on 4 April last year that I used the gas cooktop and a pan (I use the microwave all the time with its grilling, steaming and oven functions).  Delicious chicken rendang, but 30 mins work for 5 mins eating?  And having to eat the same thing for the next two nights from the leftover.  Could freeze it of course.

Speaking of eating — pickled walnuts.  Ever tried ’em?  I was given a big jar of home made ones and I’ve tried to like them, but it’s hard.  They don’t look like walnuts, more like big olives, but the saltiness!  It’s such an intense salty flavour that I can hardly get through one. I won’t throw them out, but … lucky they’ll keep.

The olives are great, though.  Thanks Al.

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Sixth day on insulin.  Increase the dose says the doc, but only by 2 units a day until I reach BSL 4-6.  And use 2 units after dinner because my BSL is too high 2hrs after my main meal. OK.  No ill effects.

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Volume III of my VVV photobook arrived this morning.  Uploaded last Sunday evening, delivered from KL 5 days later.  Not bad.  Very nice printing job – neutral colour balance and brighter pictures now that I’ve adjusted my monitor.

I think I’ve got a volume IV in me.  But other things come first, like the DVD re-edit.