Ho hum

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Hummingbird. —- Wikipedia

For the past week or more I’ve been aware of a hum from what sounds like a piston (diesel) engine in the background running 24hrs a day, seven days a week. Strangely, it seemed to stop for a few hours yesterday (Sunday). I noticed the silence, that’s how obvious it’s been. But in the late afternoon it was back.

It seems to be a fair way off and I think I’m going to have to ring Wanneroo Council to complain. Even at 4am it’s there. It’s really bugging me.

This is different from the general hum that I’ve been hearing for many, many years. It’s not just me, I’ve even read about it somewhere, a science magazine I think, so it’s worldwide. There was no answer as to what it is.

My theory is this: we are absolutely bathed in a 50Hz magnetic field from all the power lines that surround us. There’s no evidence that it does us any harm, but it must affect magnetically susceptible materials, i.e. iron and steel in our environment. That includes steel power towers and phone towers, and any steel framing and roofing (e.g. my own roof).

However small the effect, it would make them vibrate a little, which is translated into sound waves at 50Hz. I’m guessing that’s what I’m hearing. It drives me nuts late at night when all else is quiet. I’ll just have to live with it, though.

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From the Australian Financial Review, Saturday:

” The sole purpose of superannuation is to provide for your retirement. It is not to invest in property. ”

This is the Sole Purpose rule for SMSFs. It only needs one breach. There are others. The rules were not followed. There is no time limit for the ATO to investigate breaches. The penalties are severe.

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Anyone for an ant-free omelette? I opened my plastic omelette maker yesterday and picked up my garlic flavoured olive oil spray and gave it a good spray. Funny, where’s that beautiful garlic smell I like so much?

Uh oh. I’d picked up the Baygon Surface Spray can instead. I gave the omelette maker a good rinse out but I wasn’t game to use it, so I had poached eggs instead. The omelette maker got a really hot wash in the dishwasher.

By the way, I think I’ve got the last mouse, number three. I put an opened packet of rat poison out and I think he had a nibble or two. I’ve had  trap out for a few days and it’s still set. I hate having to do this but if they didn’t poop all over the place …

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I’ve got the landscapers revamping my side path and back area. They’ve used big manufactured limestone blocks to build a long garden bed along the fence, about 800mm wide. It’ll look good when it’s filled with soil and vegetation, but I wish I’d been able to have more control. We did talk about what I wanted, which was as shown in a photo in a Stratco catalogue. But what I’ve got is a single row of massive blocks which to me look too heavy. The problem is, by the time I got to see them, he’d already bought them and brought them in his trailer.

The same applied to the pavers. I told him I wanted the same as used in the footpath outside the pub, sand coloured with variegated stone chips embedded. Very common.

What he bought and brought with him are close but different. Very white, with quite a rough surface. Too late, he’s bought and paid for them. I’m not bold enough to say no, take ’em back. They’ll look quite good, but I’m worried about glare and the rough surface which will be hard on bare feet. Damn.

I should have had warning when even though I’d told him I want Buffalo Palmetto lawn, he specified a different type in his quote. Luckily I picked that up early and said, no, I want the Buffalo. It’s the old story – if you want something done, either do it yourself or watch like a hawk.

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I’m doing an electronic version of our school magazine for our 50th reunion in October, and part of it is people’s stories about what’s happened to them since 1964. I’ve had eleven contributions so far, but all of them are about half an A4 page with one photo.

I’ve written 27 pages, with about 40 photos for mine! Once I started writing, I couldn’t stop the memories pouring out. So much has happened for me, including about 30 overseas trips at various times*. Not to mention the travelling I’ve done within Australia. I have thousands of photos including many from the 1960s and ’70s. I can’t leave it all out or sum it up in a few sentences.

I’m in a quandary. My contribution is so drastically different from the others. I’m telling everyone what I’ve done and asking them to try and do the same. I guess I’m just embarrassed about standing out front of the crowd. It’s not published yet, that won’t happen until October, plenty of time to think on it.

* I still have all my passports since the first o/s trip in 1974. I started to go through them a few years ago reconstructing the trips by memory and listing the date stamps. I must finish this.

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I completed the assembly of my new computer and turned it on for the first time on Saturday. It’s always a nervous moment when you fire up a new motherboard and CPU for the first time – have I got the CPU seated correctly? Are all the plugs in the sockets? Have I forgotten anything?

I needn’t have worried. With the big, slow, quiet fans in the Fractal Design case and all the sound deadening material, it’s nearly silent. With a SSD, it’s also blindingly fast to boot. Silent and quick – ideal. Like a Mercedes. Right from the first few seconds, the BIOS screen appeared and we were away. No problems.

Then I put the Win7 Prof 64bit DVD in, followed the few prompts and about 30 mins later I had the desktop and it was done.

So easy, so quick, so simple compared with 15 or 20 years ago. What a pity it took Microsoft so long to get it right. All the trials and hair pulling we used to go through. What a waste of time it was.

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It’s too late

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The Sun revolves around the Earth, y’know. © P J Croft 2014

I was listening to Dr Karl Kruzelniczki on 720 this afternoon. He told us that among other depressing statistics, 16% of Americans don’t accept that DNA in our cells determines our characteristics, 25% of Americans don’t believe the Earth revolves around the Sun (they believe the opposite, that the Sun revolves around the Earth!) and 51% believe the Earth is only about 4,000 years old, i.e. the Creationists’ argument. 51% !!

This in the “world’s greatest country”, with one of the best education systems. I shake my head in wonderment.

Then the next call from a Perth guy:  “Why is salt added to milk?” To be brief, he’d read the label which says “sodium 16mg/L” or some figure like that and assumed it’s been added. He didn’t realise that it’s the natural composition of milk.

Then the next guy took issue with Climate Change. He wouldn’t accept Dr Karl’s figure of 99.9% of the world’s climate scientists (embracing all the co- and sub disciplines). He pronounced them wrong, getting angry about it and calling it bullshit, effectively calling Dr Karl a liar. He was really angry. He didn’t have any qualifications himself, of course, he just knew it was all wrong from his reading. As I’ve been saying.

Then a guy rang with a seemingly innocent question about the Big Bang. “Why did the Universe shrink to a singularity, then explode again in the Big Bang.”  Dr Karl quite politely said, well, no, there was nothing before the Big Bang. We know that as well as we can know anything.

The guy then spouted pseudo science that the Universe was only about 4 million years old and humans have been on the Earth less than 4,000 years. Why does he know? Well, there are no records to prove otherwise because there was no-one to observe humans alive.

As I said, never overestimate the intelligence of Western Australians.

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Along the same lines, it seems to be impossible for Australians in general to say, “G’day Bob” or John or Mate or whatever, without adding “How are you?” They have to add this! We’ve already been told scores of times that the announcer is fine but the next caller will say again, “How are you?” Over and over again all morning and afternoon. You can tell that the announcers get sick of saying “I’m fine, thanks” but they’ve given up the fight.

What is wrong with people? This is a disease. It really amounts to a speech impediment. No, that’s wrong, it’s actually a brain impediment. See above.

On the same theme, there is a world wide pandemic of “You know”. Many people use it every third or fifth word. They can’t make a sentence without using “y’know” every few seconds. I’ve even heard quite intelligent speakers, such as a former WA premier, now a uni professor, unable to speak without saying “you know” over and over again.

Enough!! It’s Shakespeare’s 450th anniversary this year. Oh for some clear, intelligent, lucid speech. Y’know?

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I’m building up a new computer at the moment. This one is 5 years old now and although adequate for most things, is prone to crashes and can’t handle my Trainz simulator graphics.

What a pleasure the latest components are to use. The Fractal Design case is glossy white and all the edges are smoothed and rolled. All the connectors are clearly labelled. All the drive bays have caddies that just slide in and click into place. It handles eight hard drives and two optical drives! I need most of those. The m/b has ten USB 3 ports. Wow.

My boot drive is a 256GB SSD. I put one into my laptop a couple of years ago and it cut the boot time to about 20 seconds from the three minutes it used to take.

I’m writing my life story for our reunion magazine at the moment and I’ve been reminded of my start in PCs in the early 1980s. First was the Microbee, then my first IBM PC in about 1985 (?) with an 8086 processor, 1MB of RAM and a 5 1/4″ floppy. No hard drive. No Windows then, only DOS and config.sys and autoexec.bat. Ugh! What a difference now – it’s so easy now! It was hard work then.

Influence

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Climate change is real. © P J Croft 2014

Over the years I’ve heard many people complain about compulsory voting. Why do we have to vote, they’re all the same, our vote doesn’t matter, and so on.

I’ve tried to explain that powerful people could use their influence and money to capture votes and get themselves elected and have power that they can use to further their own interests.

I think this is exactly what’s happened with Clive Palmer. In this recent WA Senate election, he spent ten times as much on TV and newspaper advertising as anyone else, because he could. He had a lot of money to spend. The result was that he persuaded a lot of people and got his candidate elected, even though his candidate is really only there to do Clive’s bidding.

Why does Clive care so much? Because now that he’s in Parliament and has the balance of power at times, he has the clout to further his own ideas and his own business interests. He’s a climate change denier because he owns vast coal reserves and wants to sell his coal to be burnt. He also has a tax dispute going and wants to influence policy to help with that. He doesn’t care about what’s right, only what’s right for him.

If people didn’t have to vote, I think he would have done even better. His followers were persuaded by the saturation advertising, even though most of his policy promises were sheer rubbish, impossible to fulfill.

If the apathetic didn’t vote, he would have got a higher percentage of the remaining voters and therefore more power. The same argument applies to other powerful rich people such as Rupert Murdoch – he already has nearly all the newspapers in Australia and is pushing a hard right wing line with them. He has great power to persuade people of his views. If voting was optional, he could muster followers to get his candidates into Parliament.

That’s why optional voting is not advisable. IMHO.

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PM Rabbit’s adviser Maurice Newman is spouting his rubbish again this morning. Even though he hasn’t remotely got any scientific credentials, he pronounced on radio that the scientific advice is wrong. Even if thousands of highly qualified scientists have not only said, but proven, that man-made climate change is real and accelerating, that’s not enough for him.

ImageBut Mr Newman knows better. I heard him say on radio this morning that temperatures are not rising, despite the graphs as shown above. He doesn’t have his own data, he just knows.

He says the scientists are wrong and that they’re being paid to publish wrong data and reports. This is a veiled accusation of bribery, in my opinion. This is a common theme of the deniers, that scientists are being paid to publish their work, even though it’s wrong. Being bribed, in other words.

This neglects the point that all reputable scientists submit all their work to testing before publishing, and when criticism occurs, they go back and re-examine and re-test their work to ensure accuracy.

But the deniers never feel the need to do any of this. They just know (somehow) that the evidence is wrong and so they go public without any testing of their views.

And finally, scientists have kids too. Do the deniers really think scientists would jeopardise their kids’ futures for a few dollars?

Mr Newman, people are going to die if you have your way. I wonder why you take your denial position? You’re a businessman, as are all your mates. I wonder if that could have something to do with it?

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I was wrong. I said that Earth has been hit by 19 nuclear bomb sized meteor explosions since 2000, but the figure is 26. This shows the article and a very interesting animation:

http://www.universetoday.com/111432/surprise-earth-is-hit-by-a-lot-more-asteroids-than-you-thought/

This is scary. It’s only a matter of time before a big populated area gets hit.

My micey friends

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A big mouse. © P J Croft 2014

I’ve been noticing a mouse running around inside ever since Minnie died. I never had a problem before when she was with me. (Now I also get regular visits from a very friendly Burmese cat too, but I know if I feed her, I’ll never get rid of her.)

At first I tolerated the mouse. I don’t like killing animals and so I treated it as a guest.  But the problem is, they leave their little deposits everywhere. Yes, mouse poops. Around December I’d reached my limit, put a mouse trap out and it did its job.  Exit one mouse.

But another one took its place. Again, I tolerated it, but it was becoming bolder and bolder. It was running more slowly, and sometimes coming right up within about a metre away from my foot, looking at me.

Last week, I found it in a container where it couldn’t get out. I tried to catch it but when I finally got it in my hand, it bit me! Yow!! It hurt and I dropped it quick. After that it started coming up the chair I’m sitting in, ready to climb onto me. I drew the line at that and scared it away.

Then yesterday I saw it in the dishwasher just as I was about to start a load. I tried to catch it but it disappeared into a crevice and I couldn’t find it. I lost patience and started the wash anyway. Too bad, mouse.

Sure enough, when the wash finished and I opened the door, there it was, at the drain, very clean, but very drowned. So I threw it out the door and thought that was that.

No! Last night I noticed another one running across my kitchen bench. More poops, and chewed plastic where it had been trying to get into my meusli packet. I couldn’t be sure it hadn’t, so I had to throw half a packet out.

I’d been putting rat poison packs out but they were untouched, so I opened a packet and left it on the floor.  This morning it seemed to have been disturbed so I thought there might be a very sick, if not dead mouse about.

But NO! Half an hour ago, at 6.30pm, I saw it running around again in this computer room. I think I’m going to have to get more serious. It’s a pity, because I hate killing small animals, but this can’t go on. If they didn’t poop and didn’t bite me, we might get along, but this is war.

Virtuoso Didgeridoo

A fantastic virtuoso performance outside the Pomidou Centre in Paris, September 2008. This is part of an eight minute clip I shot hand held while standing enraptured. Canon HF8 HD camcorder.

At last I’ve worked out how to post video clips here. You have to upload them to YouTube first, then link to the YouTube file with the url they give you.  Complicated, but it works.  This file is 67MB and it took around 35 mins to upload! Counting the time it took to select the clip from the 8 minute segment, add the copyright watermark and do the conversion to mpeg4, it’s taken me more than an hour for this one clip!

PS: I’ve just discovered that her name is Adele Aokky (I think). If you search on Paris Didgeridoo, there are several clips shot by a variety of other people. I’m not the only one. I did donate, by the way, 5 Euros, I think. She didn’t speak English but she must have been to Australia.

Good and bad

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Motor in a wheel.    Image Protean Corp.

This is the good. Wow! Look at this. A US company is going into production (in a Chinese factory) with this motor in a wheel, to power electric cars. Instead of having one big motor inside the car, with energy-losing drive shafts and couplings, each wheel has a motor. Maybe only two wheels, maybe four, but it means each wheel can be powered separately allowing differentially controlled power delivery. The article puts many hurdles to be overcome, but I think this is very elegant design. It also means much more free space inside the car.

Alongside this article is one saying the Tesla people are ramping up production to a million batteries a year for car propulsion, and another saying a new technique has made Li-Sulphur batteries much more efficient and longer lasting. And another article from Israel showing a battery capable of being recharged in 30 seconds.  Electric cars are coming.

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Now the bad. Another big meteor (or perhaps space junk, they’re not sure) crashed to Earth near Murmansk in Russia yesterday, 19th April. It lit up the sky, as captured on a car dash cam (www.universetoday.com). This is one day after I read a report that there have been 19 multi-megaton sized meteor strikes on Earth since 2000. This has become known because there is now a very sophisticated network of stations built to detect nuclear explosions and their location, in case tests are being done illegally.

So big meteor strikes on the Earth are much more frequent than we knew before. It’s only a matter of time before one hits a big populated area.

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This awful Liberal government strikes again.  The suburban lawyer, Brandis, says climate change deniers should be allowed as much space to speak as the world’s scientific community who are saying, “The question is settled”.

The counter argument was very neatly put. If someone says 2+2=5, should they be given equal time to promote this view? It’s not bigotry to say 2+2=4, it’s been proven. Saying 2+2=5 has no proof.

There’s another counter argument: by actively denying climate change, the deniers are putting our future in dire jeopardy. Look at it this way – if we believers spend a lot of money on greenhouse gas reductions and are successful, the money will have been well spent. We’ll have much cleaner air, the sea level rise will be slowed or stopped, people in Bangladesh will not drown and Australian innovators will do well making and selling anti-pollution and solar systems. Win-win.

But if the deniers have their way and we go on as we are, and the predicted catastrophic effects do happen, what are they going to say or do? “Ooops, sorry, we were wrong. Er, we’ll fix it.”  It’ll be too late. People will die. It’ll be too late to admit they were wrong.  The stakes are too high to gamble.

Personally, I think it’s already too late. We’ve passed the tipping point and there’s too much apathy and outright opposition from complacent rich people like Brandis and Abbott for anything to happen. And the rest of the very rich people of the world.

Meanwhile, spending hundreds of billions of dollars on military equipment is seen as OK. $40bn for F-22 fighters? Done deal. Another $40bn for 12 submarines?  Soon to happen. It’s madness.

It’s too late.  The human race is headed for extinction, or at the least, a very, very hard fight for survival. If we think we’re seeing refugees now, wait until low lying parts of the world are flooded.

Meanwhile, this government puts obstacles in the way of climate change mitigation, removes the carbon dioxide emissions reduction incentive levy (erroneously pushed by them as the “carbon tax”) makes more cuts to science budgets, and is set to allow the resumption of logging in the Tasmanian wilderness national parks.

Some more food for laughs

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Perhaps the Buddha will donate. Better include him. © P J Croft 2014

Re yesterday’s post, I’ll add some more titles for the ACF to list.

Cardinal (In case Mr Pell decides to contribute); Holiness (ditto the Pope); I Gusti; Ibu; Ratu; Tungku; Señor; Señorita; El Supremo; Viscount; Pretender; Dowager; Emporer; Czar; Czarina; Monsignor; Herr (why have Frau without Herr?); Fraulein; President (in case Barack Obama tips in); Vice President (ditto Joe Biden) … Oh what a joke.  I think I’ll have to send these in.  We wouldn’t want Australia to look foolish, would we?

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I’m home from a trip to the Mount Medical Centre in Perth this morning to see Gastro Boy. (Even at 9:30am he looks rumpled!)  It’s a very easy trip – bus at 0730 around the corner; Clarkson Station at 0745; train waiting, plenty of seats as it’s the top of the line; Esplanade Station at 0835; 950 bus along Mts Bay Rd to the Mount by 0900, time for coffee before my appointment at 0930. Easy.

Perth drivers!!!##** 😦   I walked across the south bound lane opposite the Mount with cars stopped at the lights 120m back (I’ve measured it in Google Earth). I’m using my stick and walking as fast as I can, which is slowly.  The cars roar away from the lights. They can see me from at least 50m away, but they still have to brake hard, hard enough for a small tyre squeal, as I try to get off the road.  Why don’t they just anticipate and ease off so they don’t need to brake?

This is in the same category as cars on the freeway that race up behind the car in front, then put their brakes on!  Bloody fools.  Never overestimate the intelligence of WA people.

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Back to Gastro Boy.  This appointment was to set a new date for band removal and discuss my diabetes progress.  I came away quite a bit less anxious.  He’s very happy with the BGL control and we set a new date of Wed 28 May.

But the main thing is that he now recommends the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass instead of the sleeve.  I feel happier about that.  It’s still a big change, but it’s easier to do and less risky in terms of leakage.  And the stomach remains in place, it’s not all ripped out.  I admit I was scared of that.

The other point is that it’s much better at fixing diabetes.  Make no mistake, this operation is known to fix diabetes, which is what I want.  Fixes it within days!  He told of one woman whose BGL dropped so much in the hospital after the op that they had to give her glucose to prevent it falling too much.

I also raised the point about fasting before operations.  I have trouble with that.  I asked him, surely I could suck a glucose sweet before the operation?  It’s not a solid once it’s dissolved.

No, he said, a sweet stimulates saliva and that’s enough to cause possible reflux under anaesthetic because your stomach tends to contract. The risk is getting stomach acid in the lungs. Big problem.  No sweets, no water, no nuthin’.  Oh well.

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All this talk about Grange … I’ve still got my bottle of ’71 Grange that I bought for $550 in 1995.  Quote from Wine Auction House:

“The 1971 Penfolds Grange is one of the best wines ever made in Australia; it needs no introduction.  In 1993, Max Schubert quoted  ‘If you had to point to a wine which fulfilled all the ambitions of Penfolds Grange, it would have to be the 1971 vintage’ “.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.  They only have five bottles available and the price is $1,150 a bottle.  I haven’t made a fortune but that’s a lot better than inflation.

But I’m in a real quandary.  I’ve never tasted Grange and I’d like to.  I’m tempted to drink my bottle, but it would be a waste – I don’t really think I’d appreciate it as my sense of taste is affected by Amiodarone (anti-arrhythmia drug).  You can buy Grange by the glass at a few places (at upwards of $35 a glass!), so I think it’d be better to sell mine and just try a glass some day.  It’s still in fine condition afaik.  It’s 43 years old and I bought it nearly 20 years ago, fgs!