Gettin’ closer

Wanker policy

Look at the name on the sign! I wonder if he got elected.

Phew, I’m busy. Our 50th anniversary school reunion is now only 18 days away and I’ve still got 15 people who’ve said they’re coming but haven’t paid. The deadline was last Friday. We have to pre pay the hotel for 80 dinners regardless, so we’re trying to get people to pay what they’ve promised. This has been going on since July or earlier. Some people just have to be pushed and pushed. I’m not happy.

____________________________________

The magazine for the reunion is now up to 265 pages, with more being added daily. It’s a PDF file so the size can be anything and I can use as many images as I like. I’ve got 37 biographies so far, not a bad number. One guy has a great story to tell and writes really well in his emails, but I just can’t get his story out of him. He says he’s doing it, but nothing happens. Promises, promises. Oh well.

I’ve printed a preliminary copy of the magazine on paper and gee, it makes a thick book if you use good quality paper (semi-glossy for the images). It’s about 30mm thick. I’m getting a big buzz out of doing it.

And I have to say it – no-one, no-one – writes as well as I do. Even people who’ve been teachers for 50 years write prose full of spelling and grammatical errors, and just poor prose at that. One woman thinks she writes well and tries to pick errors in my emails, but she gets it wrong and her own writing is hurried and error ridden. This is clearly why younger people can’t write or spell properly. If the teachers can’t get it right and can’t take the trouble to try, how can they teach it?

I’ve written 40 pages on my life, another 22 pages on life at the Boys’ Hostel and another 14 pages on Life At School, with many, many pictures, more than 50. Oh, and three pages of “I Remember” one liners. But despite persistent pleas, I’ve had zero success in getting anyone else to write anything except very brief bio notes, usually a page or less, and many don’t seem to have any photos of their life. I can’t understand it. One was quite lively, but I’ve had to censor a couple of his references to teachers. They were very strong and well into defamation territory. I’d like to dump on a few people as well, but you can’t put it into print.

There’s no question that this has given me a passion for writing and when the reunion is over I’ll be getting back to my memoirs. My memory is fantastic. I remember so much, perhaps too much. I remember good bits, but I also can’t forget the bad bits. And there have been many bad bits.

The older I get the more I see how our lives and development are shaped by our early life experiences. The parents pass their problems on to the kids. Over and over, with each generation. This is not good.

Those poor kids in Iraq and Syria, frightened out of their wits by the war. They are scarred for life.

_____________________________________

The rain on Sunday night! I woke at 1.20am to the sound on the roof and it just got heavier and heavier. It was a deluge. It was so heavy that thoughts of roof collapse crossed my mind. I haven’t heard rain that strong for many years. It did stop after 15 mins or so.

What a strange weather pattern. Saturday was hot – as I understand it, the max of 34.2C was the hottest September day on record. Then next day and through the night of Sunday and into Monday morning, it rained, and rained, and rained. We had 31.8mm, another record for September, I think. And even now, I’m cold. Strange days indeed.

___________________________________

I watched the TV series Broadchurch on the ABC last year and found it very good. They’ve re-run it in the past six weeks and I watched it again, even though the ABC pushed it later and later into the midnight time zone. I had to record the final episode on Sunday as it went to 1am.

I watched this final episode last night and I realised I hadn’t seen it before! Crumbs, this was the revelation of the killer. How could I have missed it first time around? Anyway, I’ve seen it now and at the very end, the credits said, “Broadchurch will return.” Good. This BBC drama is just superb. The Yanks just can’t match it. The first episode of the ABC production, The Code, was pretty good on Sunday too. I’ll keep watching that.

But I’m being driven mad by breakup (low signal) on the ABC channels. Only the ABC channels. All the other channels are fine.

I’d fix it, but I can’t see any external TV antenna, so it must be in the roof. I can’t get up in there, no way. It’s a metal Colourbond roof – how can a TV antenna work when it’s shielded by steel sheeting? I’m wondering what kind of antenna installation I’ve got, if indeed there even is an antenna. There are outlets in the lounge and all three bedrooms, so I wonder if they’ve done the splitting properly (there is a proper way to do it – you can’t just twist wires together). I’ll have to get a professional in.

_____________________________________

I’ll also have to get someone in to fix my garage roller door. Yesterday it wouldn’t close. The motor runs and the chain pulls, but it doesn’t grip the slider so it won’t pull the door. It’s not a problem to open and close it by hand, but you have to get out of the car, of course. Damn.

_____________________________________

I’m doing a lot of printing for the reunion at the moment, ten A4 sheets of name cards and about 100 A4 certificates. That’s using a lot of ink, so I had to buy a new set of cartridges yesterday. A set in a box cost $106, plus another $19 for a grey. I could buy a whole new printer for a lot less than $125! This is atrocious. How could I toss a perfectly good multifunction printer just because the ink has run out? Shame, Canon, shame.

____________________________________

The cruise trip is also only 4 weeks away and there’s a lot of work organising that too. Luckily Jan just leaves it to me. He’s happy to accept my recommendations, so that makes it easy. I’m booked and paid for Beijing hotel, flight Beijing to Hanoi, Hanoi hotel so far. We’ve decided (I decided) to skip Bangkok. We’ll spend more time, a week, in Hanoi where the hotels are so cheap. I’ve booked a superior suite for A$76 a night. Nice.

Just the flight Hanoi to Bali and Bali hotel, then flight home to book. Hanoi to Bali has to be two hops, I’m afraid, via KL, with a few hours to wait there. At least you can stretch your legs.

I’m thinking that I’m looking forward to Bali most of all of this trip. I’m comfortable there. And I don’t actually have to return with Jan. He has to go back to work, but I could stay on if I want to. I don’t have to ask anyone’s permission or even tell anyone. I’m free to do whatever I want. If I could have Minnie back, I would in a heartbeat, but I don’t have to worry about my dog any more either. Freedom.

Of course, after five weeks travelling I’ll probably want to get home. Huh.

_____________________________________

I’m trying to save weight in my packing plans, of course,as I want to take a travel tripod on this trip. That’s about 1.5Kg. CPAP blower is another 1.5Kg. All my medications will add about 1Kg I’d guess. Yeah, that many and that much with all the dispensers and cold pack for the insulin pens.

That’s a win. The maker of one of the insulin pens provides a free travel cooler. Free! It’s a zippered pouch like a pencil case but with cold packs in the sides. You freeze it, and it keeps your pens cool for up to five hours. Neat. Hah! I say free, but the particular pen, Byetta, costs $125 per month. They get their money that way.

My eye was caught by the Sony Experia Z2 tablet yesterday. It costs about $550, + $90 for a Bluetooth wireless keyboard. My Sony VIAO laptop, although it’s fantastic, weighs nearly 2Kg with charger and power cable. The Z2 tablet weighs 425g. You charge it via a USB socket, afaik, and I’m carrying a very small and light universal+USB charger anyway.

But the Z2 is an Android device, and I don’t have any experience of that. I want three things – to write (ie type my blog and diary) easily, to do email and internet, to download photos and video from my two cameras and to read books and listen to music. OK, five things. Six things.

I’d be very nervous about leaving my laptop behind. I can make slideshows and edit and make video on that, and even burn CDs, DVDs and BluRays. Yes, it has a BluRay recorder in it. You can’t do any of that on a tablet.

____________________________________________

I write a lot on this blog, don’t I? I wonder many times if it’s worth it, if anyone’s reading. I know of one person for sure, but that’s all.

The thing is, I periodically download it as an xml (Extensible Markup Language) file for future book form. Or whatever. It goes right back to 2009 when I first started it and even in a small font there are over 1200 pages. Maybe one day some future historian might read it, like Samuel Pepys’s diaries became interesting to us now. Too bad, anyway. I like writing.

________________________________________

If I hear the word iconic once more, I may explode!

Och, No

Frightened bagpiper crop

Love the expression! A photo from the Commonwealth Games Closing © ABC news

Scotland’s big day and I sure hope they vote No. I don’t want to see the union broken up. They can have more autonomy without breaking away completely. This will have scared London enough to take notice and let Scotland have more self rule. Vote No.

________________________________

I got my three monthly blood test results today and they were bloody good, if you’ll pardon the pun. Nearly all right in the middle of the range. HbA1c 6.7. That’s excellent.

But she was concerned about one test. Apparently my cholesterol is too low! Overall 2.9, LDL 1.7. This is too low. Not many guys have that problem.

It’s a problem because we need cholesterol for bodily functions and too little is not good. So I’m halving my dose of the statin. No problem. I’ll be interested to see the results.

________________________________

Listening to the radio today I heard Ron Radford, the director of the National Gallery, talking in his high art voice about how exciting it all is for their latest exhibition. He said, “Is there anyone in Australia who hasn’t been to the National gallery? They must be in a minority, surely.”

No Ron!! First, where the hell is the National Gallery? I gather it’s in Canberra. Very convenient for Brisbane/Sydney/Melbourne and even Adelaide, but it may as well not exist as far as Perth is concerned. We don’t get a share of this hugely expensive edifice. I’m not excited. I can’t drop in and see your latest exhibition, Ron. Bugger off and go and have one of your highbrow parties in Sydney or Melbourne.

_______________________________

More than 6 months ago I bought a magazine about model trains and it included a OO scale passenger carriage and piece of track on the cover for $8. Bargain, so I bought two more. But it made me realise that OO is going to be too big if I build my system.

Today I found another issue of this mag and this time it included a locomotive model, for $5.95! Wow, I thought. At least this will let me play around with powering and so on.

But when I got it home I found it’s not a powered model at all, just a plastic replica fixed on some plastic track. No motor, no metal wheels. Hah! Oh well, $5.95 for a pig in a poke won’t break the bank. How’s that for a double cliche?

_________________________________

Very unusual night last night. I slept unbroken, right through, midnight to 7:10am. I can’t remember the last time that happened. I’ve discovered that the radio programs on Radio National between 2am and 5am are not bad at all. Worth staying awake for.

That’s not a comet, mate this is a comet!

67P-LA-anosmicovni-credit-BEST

I’m sure you’re aware that the Rosetta spacecraft is now very close to the Churyumov–Gerasimenko comet and within weeks will land a probe on its surface. Until now I couldn’t visualise the size of the comet. How would a probe fit on a landing site on the comet? How would you find a flat enough site on what I visualised was a space only a few hundred metres square.

Well, the photo above puts it all in perspective. That’s the core of the comet overlaid on an American city. It’s about 4.5Km long! Here’s another view that’s possibly more familiar –

_76773211_rosetta_comet_624What an achievement this is!!! This spacecraft was sent off about three years ago on a path to meet the comet after about three trips around the sun. The probe was actually powered down to a minimum power state for a couple of those years, then re-awoken a few months ago. Everything had to reboot, power up and work properly, and it did. That alone is amazing.

Now it’s only a few hundred thousand km away from the comet, matching its speed and moving slowly closer so as to be in position to fire the lander toward the surface of the comet. That should happen within months. Meanwhile, both of them are moving toward the sun, as the comet’s path takes it in its big loop. Soon the sun’s heat will start to blast the ice and dust off the comet to form what we see as the tail. But this time, there’ll be a human built camera and electronics package on the surface to show us what happens.

What a magnificent achievement! This is all the European Space Agency’s work. Hats off to them.

______________________________________

I never cease to be amazed at the coincidences. Some months ago I bought a door wedge with a built in alarm, so that I could leave the front door partly open in hot weather. But I found the door sill is so high that the door passes over the top of the wedge! I needed a rubber strip to raise the height of the wedge.

This morning I found it. Out walking to the shops, there was a 1m length of 75mm wide high density foam with adhesive backing lying on the footpath. Just what I want! Shazzam, another stroke of luck.

______________________________________

With one week to go to the deadline for payment for our school reunion on 11 October, still 27 people out of around 85 who said they’re coming have yet to pay. This is after three email newsletters going back six months saying how and when to pay. Maybe there’ll be a rush to pay in the next five days, but I doubt it. That means we’ll have to chase them.

I get upset. Months of reminders, but they still don’t pay. We are seriously committed to paying for 80 meals at the hotel, totalling $5,200 outlay, but we’re way short of the money at the moment. Grrrrr!

_______________________________________

There must be something wrong with me.

  • I don’t have a tattoo, not even a little one hidden away
  • I don’t have a body piercing, not even one
  • I don’t have a tongue stud, advertising every time I open my mouth that I suck …
  • I don’t have a smart phone
  • I don’t have a tablet
  • I don’t have an mp3 player with ear plugs
  • I don’t tweet. I don’t even know how to do it. Only twits tweet.
  • I don’t spend any time on Facebook. I had to open an account, but I never waste any time on it.

I must be a real nerd.

___________________________________

The magazine I’m doing for the school reunion is up to 250 pages now, and I asked at Office Works yesterday for a price to print a copy. Double sided colour, stapled magazine. Quote – $225 per copy!

It’s not actually meant to be printed. It’s a PDF magazine, and a cute page flipping on-screen book, but I want a paper copy for my shelf.

I reckon it’ll be cheaper to print it myself, even if I go through a full set of ink cartridges, five at $19 each = $95. Crumbs, it would even be cheaper to buy a new printer for about $49 or so than to replace the cartridges! How crazy, how wasteful is that?

_____________________________________

A few months ago I was all in favour of Scotland breaking away from the UK, but the more I thought about it, the more I realised the implications. Now I’m dead against it. No Scotland, don’t break away. You can still have your own identity while being part of Great Britain, as you’ve been for so long and in such a distinguished way. Vote No on Thursday.

Contrast this process with Ukraine. The east of the country wants its own identity and control of its own affairs. So what do they do? They start a war over it. They start shooting and bombing and shelling. Can you imagine that happening between England and Scotland? Eastern Ukraine people need a bit of civilising.

No F..’in Worries Scale

20050304 US Defense VisualIn Tomahawk cruise missile detonation over target San Clemente Island California 19860401

ASIO is thinking of raising Australia’s threat alert level. I thought you might like to know what Australia’s scale is:

5. Oooh shit!!

4. Struth!

3. Crikey

2. Y’reckon?

1. She’s right mate.

Just tryin’ to help.  Tip o’ the hat to Adam Hills on ABC TV for two of them.

_____________________________

Former Reserve Bank Governor Bernie Fraser on ABC radio this morning: the government’s move to defer the compulsory superannuation for wage earners to 2019 dismays him. He agrees with my view that the idea that employers will pass that money on to employees in their pay packets is rubbish. It won’t happen. Therefore this is an effective pay cut and a regressive one, affecting the lowest paid worst. What a government!

Bernie Fraser is a man to be listened to. He’s now chair of the Renewable Energy Council. He says the trashing of the RET, the Renewable Energy Target, is a bad decision and will lead to a significant loss of jobs, both now and in the future, quite apart from the damage it will do to the climate and has already done to Australia’s international reputation.

But also, at a time when we’re being told over and over that there is a looming budget crisis, that we won’t be able to afford the age pension in a few years due to the baby boomer bulge, the answer to that is superannuation, If people save for their retirement, they won’t need to claim as much age pension.

So this nasty government has moved to reduce the amount workers save for their retirement! What’s the logic behind this? It’s crazy. This will worsen the problems in the future. But it’s just another move against the low paid and favouring big business and the management class.

Check out the taxation arrangements for super. They are a huge benefit for the highly paid and a big slug against low income people.

This government is bad! It must be defeated at the next election.

Unwelcome anniversary

_IMG0372

It’s a year now since my stay in Perth Clinic with severe anxiety and depression. The clinic was marvellous. I came out much the better for the clinic’s treatment. The treatment was nothing more than talking and being taught how to handle life’s situations. And being allowed to talk freely. And the interaction with other patients. It was great.

But it’s also the anniversary of the actions of a close relative who decided she would submit a three page dossier on me in secret to the doctors. She did it without my foreknowledge, definitely without my permission and behind my back. To this day I have not been allowed to see the letter, but I have had sections read out to me. These confirmed that it was a pack of suppositions, assumptions, misreadings of situations, mistakes and straight out lies. All dressed up in flowery expressions of love and support. Going back to the sixties!

Since she did it without asking or telling me – she knew she was doing something I wouldn’t have approved. She knew it was wrong. Otherwise why hide it from me! Yet she went ahead and ambushed me. To this day I haven’t been allowed to see the letter. Therefore I’m entitled to make my own assumptions, based on the bits I know about, on what was in the letter.

I was interviewed by a female doctor and asked about certain statements in the letter without warning and without being able to see the actual letter. I was then subjected to tests which I thought were tests of my sanity. Only later did they say, “Oh no. That’s just a standard set of questions for anyone over 65 to check for dementia.” I wasn’t told this at the time!!

The effect on me was shocking then and has been devastating since, both mentally and physically. I have been seriously harmed, both mentally and physically. The fact that I’m writing this now demonstrates the mental damage. It has reawakened memories I’ve taken years to get over and forget. Now they’re back. I can’t get it out of my mind. I lie awake at night wrestling with it. It’s on my mind when I wake for a pee at 3am. I have to suppress my rage, force my thoughts away to pleasant things. Like being far away from her on a trip. (I can no longer refer to any family members as Next of Kin on forms! I have to say None.)

The physical harm was a significant rise in my blood pressure, and a much worse condition of my diabetes. Before this episode, I was NIDDM, non-insulin dependent diabetes melitus. Tablets were enough to control things.

The blood pressure is mostly back to normal (with tablets), but my rage in the weeks and months that followed made my blood sugars go out of control and now I’m insulin dependent. I’m very slowly getting things back under control but it’s taken seven months of trial and error, with changes of drugs and injected insulin to finally start making an improvement. But in this time my lower legs have been severely damaged. The nerves and small blood vessels are dying and my skin there is paper thin. I wake at night, almost every night, in agony from itching that no amount of scratching will help. In fact it results in bleeding, which since I’m on blood thinners, is hard to stop. I’m having to take strong pain relief almost every night.

In addition, the insulin has resulted in weight gain, as it does, and I’m now 8Kg up on where I was before I started the injections, and I can’t shift it.

So thanks to this close relative’s actions, I’m now significantly worse off than I was before. Thanks very much, close relative!

Why did she do it? Because (a) she believes she has the right to interfere in someone else’s affairs – she’s told me this and she’s done it several times before; (b) she has an inflated view of her abilities and self importance; (c) she desperately needs to be seen to be GOOD, to seek praise and approval, to be needed, because of events in her early life. She can’t overcome the damage these caused and goes on perpetrating similar actions on others.

In this past year there has been no apology. She does not believe she has done anything wrong and she will never apologise, for anything. This was not the first time by a long shot. An apology would go a long way toward fixing this, but I have no hope of ever getting one.

Therefore I have lost a close family relationship forever, it seems. How can I ever talk normally to her again after this, knowing she’s filing it away? I have also had to cancel an enduring power of attorney. There’s no telling what she’d do if she had the power of this legal document. I was warned about this but I didn’t take it seriously. Now I do.

And if I ever go to hospital again, I’ll be asking the nurses to bar entry to her if she visits. She is unpredictable and dangerous.

What a result! Thank you very much! Not! The fact that I’m writing this, a year later, with such passion and anger shows the damage it’s caused.

_____________________________________

If there’s any good news, it’s that Byetta finally seems to be working. Injected insulin wasn’t working well enough by late July, with wild swings in my blood sugars. There was a downward trend from six months ago, but not enough. So we added Byetta injections. This is a new drug which adds the naturally occurring hormones called incretins, which are released near the top of the stomach and trigger the release of insulin from the pancreas when food is ingested. This is what the gastric bypass would have achieved naturally if I’d gone ahead. But what a cost – losing 90% of the stomach.

I started this in early August and at first it made no difference, but I think it’s working now as my blood sugar readings are much more stable through the day, without the wild swings. Still a bit high (around 10) but stable.

One of the side effects is supposed to be weight loss. I wish! No weight loss here, I’m afraid. Not yet anyway.

______________________________________

The cruise is all coming together. Flights from Perth to Singapore and Beijing to Hanoi are booked and paid for. Hotel in Beijing booked and paid for. Cruise booked and paid for.

The Beijing hotel is called the Shichahai Shadow Art Performance hotel, and it’s in a hutong lane behind big black wooden doors, just like an old Chinese dwelling. Hutongs are the narrow streets of old, full of shop houses and stalls and old dwellings. Too narrow for a taxi, I believe. But the rooms are very up to date in a Chinese style, from the website photos. I’ve booked a Superior Suite to get maximum space. Looks good. $138/night for this room. Rave web reviews.

The Hanoi hotel is also old Vietnamese style, right in the action area (Hang Bac Street – we won’t hang back). Again, I’ve booked a suite to get a large room with armchairs by a large window. At $76/night, it’s very affordable. I think we’ll stay longer in Hanoi and less time in Bangkok.

But China and Vietnam require visas and photos with the visa applications. Have to get cracking.

________________________________________

Aaaaaargh, it was a wild, windy night last night with lots of power bumps. These don’t worry me, but every time it happens, my neighbour’s alarm goes off! Ten minutes each time of the horn blaring. I’m sick of it! It wakes me up.

But she’s gone off on a trip to Europe, so there’s nothing I can do. I reckon the standby battery in her alarm is dead. That’s designed to handle these power interruptions. If she was there, I’d offer to fix it for her, but she’s away. Damn.

_______________________________________

I picked up my free treadmill on Friday and brought it back here. I’ve realised it’s an absolute basic model. No power incline, not even manual incline. Just the flat platform.

When I turn it on, the belt (i.e. motor) started immediately and fluctuated in speed, then settled down to a walking pace. But there’s no control – no stopping it, and no speed control, so I’m not prepared to get on. I’ve got the cover off the motor drive electronics and I’ll see if I can fix it, but it may end up going out on the verge anyway. I wanted a powered incline model, and this isn’t it. Still, it cost me nothing, so I have nothing to lose. Except weight.

______________________________________

Panasonic. I used to be a fan of Panasonic appliances, but I’ve totally changed my mind, realised I was wrong.

Both my fridge and microwave oven are Panasonic and both are causing me grief. The fridge door rattles constantly and I can’t make it stop. It’s nothing on the shelf causing it. I reckon it’s something loose in the moulding inside the door. It’s been doing it since new.

The microwave oven has intermittently refused to start in the past few months, and I’ve realised the door switch is out of adjustment. I have to push hard on the door to ensure it’s closed.

But now it’s started powering itself off completely, intermittently. The cooking ends prematurely and the clock resets to flashing zero, power off condition. I have to restart it.

Both these appliances are about 17 months old, out of warranty, but I believe these days that you can press your claim regardless, according to Consumer Affairs. Must try it.

Another Panasonic device is my DVR. It’s so slow! It takes a full 60 seconds of “Please Wait” for it to power up, and all the operations involve a 2-3 second wait. Why? I’m sick of it. This is not a fault so I can’t claim on it, but I won’t buy Panasonic again. My phone is also Panasonic, but it isn’t faulty. Wish I’d bought another brand, though.

This and that

index

Sapphire Princess

imagesI made the payment for the cruise today, so we’re on our way. No backing out now. This is going to be a burster of a trip: Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, China – Hong Kong and Mainland, Japan, South Korea and Indonesia. Wow. I hope I can make the pace. I went shopping this afternoon and at 5pm I’m drooping. What am I going to be like after a day stumbling along uneven footpaths in heat. Can’t be helped.

_________________________________

I always wish my CPAP machine was smaller and lighter for travel. Well, there is one designed for just that.

transcend.ezex.cpapA friend has one and I’ve borrowed it for a trial. After two nights, I don’t think it’s going to suit me. The airflow seems different – I have to breathe harder to get enough air and I wake up tired – not a good sign. It’s a big relief to go back to my AutoSet S8. Maybe I’m not using it correctly? It’s supposed to be self adjusting. Must find out more.

I was going to buy one but at $695, plus the humidifier adding $500, I baulk. Lucky I can trial it. If I can get it to suit me, I can rent one from the pharmacy at Whitfords, I think.

________________________________

Also lucky, the friend who lent it to me had a treadmill in his driveway. He asked me if I want it. Yes please! I’ve been on the verge of buying one, whereas his was about to go out onto his verge.

The reason is, it has a fault. It only runs very slowly. He’s had the electronics board replaced once at a cost of $200 but it’s failed again, so he’s not interested in spending more on it. That’s OK, I’ll have a go at it. Should be fixable.

That was a lucky break.

____________________________________________

My battles with supermarkets continue. Yesterday I bought six packets of sugar free mints at $2 each. When I got home, there were only five in the bag! But I’d been billed for six. No, the missing packet is not in my boot.

But today I got my revenge. I bought a copy of The Economist (in Coles! Not available at my local newsagent.) When I got home, I noticed it hadn’t been scanned. Score one.