Off we go, into the wild blue yonder

Ochre 12am Friday morning, just waiting for taxi to airport. Packing has been laborious! So many things to take, so many things that are essential. The big 500g tub of Dermeze – hate to pack it, but I need it. Maybe I’ll ditch it at some stage.

I’ve got all my insulin pens (15 of them) enclosed in a freezer pack inside an insulated bag. Can’t allow them to warm up – if they do, they’re only good for a week. I need five weeks’ worth. Likewise Byetta – only one pen, but it’s in its own freezer pack. If that gets hot it’ll be rendered useless. It’s a worry.

Getting a limo to the airport. He’s guaranteed to be on time. A bit more expensive $110 but he says he’ll turn up. Taxi companies may not.

Gotta go.

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The list

Tamanrasse ALGERIA

Tamanrasse, Algeria. I just like this shot.

The list of great Australian prime ministers:

Labor –

  1. Gough Whitlam
  2. John Curtin
  3. Paul Keating
  4. Bob Hawke
  5. Ben Chifley
  6. Bill Hayden would have been
  7. Julia Gillard

Liberal –

There are none!! Everyone will say Bob Menzies. Longevity does not make for greatness. He did nothing except create the Liberal Party, and presided over an insular, complacent, arts stifling, male dominated, Royalty obsequious, England boot-licking, boring country. This is widely acknowledged, it’s not just my opinion.

Menzies and Harold Holt lied to the Australian people about the reasons for Australia’s entry into the war in Vietnam. Lied! The damage to our troops and the awful effects on the Vietnamese people are a disgrace to his memory.

McMahon was a stupid, slow thinking incompetent fool.

Gorton was a nice bloke but weak and perpetuated the insular Australia. He did nothing except try to work his charm on women.

Billy Snedden was another low competence, complacent joke.

Howard was and is a liar, a blatant racist, a monarchist boot-licker, the man who broke Australia’s heart over the republic. The outrage over his lies about refugees jumping into the water in the SIEV X affair will live in infamy.

Abbot is a low intelligence but rat cunning, lazy, climate change denying, lying (“no new taxes, no surprises”), obsequious monarchist (“Sir” Pete Cosgrove, how embarrassing!). There’s no way he will ever be on any list of greatness.

So all in all, all the talent, all the intellect, all the greatness, all the competence, all the visionaries, all the great leaders come via the Labor Party. Always have, always will.

Want my opinion? Just ask.

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At this time, this nasty Liberal government is running a Royal Commission with “Union Corruption” in its title. Nothing like pre-judging the outcome! They’ve just extended the time allowed by another 12 months, and done it very quickly. They haven’t found enough dirt, so they’re going to allow another year to ensure that they find dirt, by any means they can.

At the same time, in today’s news, Australia is being described as a “paradise for tax evasion”. White collar crime is rife! Almost all the country’s wealthiest people pay almost no tax! And this government has cut the funding to the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) to ensure that this wealthy, tax evading, corrupt oligarchic elite continues on its merry way. All big friends of the Liberal Party. Just where’s the corruption??

The attempt to pin charges on Kevin Rudd and Peter Garrett over the home insulation scheme deaths in 2009/10 — who employed untrained incompetent youths to install that metallised insulation? Greedy businessmen who saw a chance to make big, quick money, that’s who. Not Rudd or Garrett! Why should the ministers be blamed for the deaths when it was the employers who caused them.

Insider trading; failure to pay wages or adhere to award conditions; tax avoidance and the crime of tax evasion; breaches of Health and Safety laws; employment of illegals; endemic drug (cocaine) use and importation; extortion by supermarket chains; intimidation of small businesses; driving small competitors out of business — all crimes of the management class. Yet this government concentrates on trying to pin corruption charges on unionists! I spit!

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Crossing the Ts

images

A cabin on the cruise ship. There will be T for Twin beds! We’ve been advised of our cabin number and the agent says we’ve been upgraded to a bigger cabin. Nice.

Three days to go. That’s a T word. Today I was at the shops thinking about a shopping list — Toilet paper; Tissues; Travel items i.e.Toiletries; check out a neat laptop, the T100; check prices on a neat camera, the Panasonic TZ60. An easy to remember list of Ts.

I got the first three items, but passed on the last two. The ASUS Transformer T100 is a very good idea – it’s a Windows laptop (Win8) with touch screen and full keyboard, but the 10″ screen detaches from the keyboard and acts as a tablet that I could take up on deck and use to read and write, using touch. At $499 with a full copy of Windows 8.1 installed, it’s well priced. T for Tempting. I’ve got the Samsung Galaxy tablet but the initial enthusiasm has worn off.There’s plenty I can do on a Windows laptop that the tablet can’t. Like video editing and making slide shows using Proshow producer.

Nothing like making a major decision on what to take so close to the trip.

The Panasonic TZ60 is a very slim all in one compact camera, usual specs, but with built-in GPS recording. That is, every shot has its GPS coordinates embedded for later use. But at $499 also, I don’t need it. No to that one.

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We’ve received an Emergency Notice from Princess Cruises. No-one who’s been to the west African Ebola states will be allowed to board, anywhere in the world. Fair enough.

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To the doctor again today to look at left leg. It’s not too bad, no skin breaks, but it looks bad and is very tender to touch in some places. Cellulitis. My skin is so thin that the interstitial fluid forces its way up to form lumps and can break through. The only answers are (i) massive doses of antiobotic, like up to 8 grams a day; (ii) pressure stocking or bandaging; and (iii) frequent massaging with Dermeze moisturising gel. That’s good stuff – messy, but it works. As a bonus, you get very soft hands.

My list of medications for the trip is long! I’ll be a walking pharmacy. I’ve realised that although I could stay on in Bali if I wanted to at the end, I will have run out of my meds. One in particular, Byetta injection. You can buy meds in Bali over the counter with no prescriptions but you can’t be sure they are genuine, and they cost about A$50 each.

I think I’m dreaming. I think I’ll be ready to head home after 5 weeks.

Crumbs, Air Asia offers a flight from Bali to Perth one way for $85. The catch is, it leaves DPS at 0630. The next flight at 1030 is $185. I’m a tightwad when it comes to flights and hotels, so I’ll consider the early flight. Hmmm.

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I’m working on the big computer again now. I found the problem with the hard drive — by bad luck, I chose a drive that was not formatted and the install disk didn’t recognise it. So then it was a new install of Win7, then install the backup software, then use that to recover the entire C: partition from my backup drive. All this took around two hours.

The result is that I’m back to the state it was in around ten days ago. I lost some things, but nothing I can’t recover. The lesson I’ve learnt is backup, backup, backup, every night! It can happen to you.

8 Days a Week

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Bali 2010 – won’t be long until I’m back there.

Eight days to go to the cruise! Just collecting all the documents together, eTickets, boarding passes, luggage labels, hotel bookings, flights from Beijing to Hanoi and Hanoi to Bali, etc etc. My mate Jan gets nervous if he can’t see everything done. That’s OK, so do I, but it’ll be alright in the end is my motto.

I had a good comment about packing: lay the suitcase contents out on the bed, then take half the clothes and twice the money. <g>

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We all seem to be feeling post reunion blues, a flat feeling that it’s all over and a need to keep meeting. That’s fine with me. I think we all need some company. I do.

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I bought a new phone two weeks ago (HTC Desire unlocked for $138) but after 24 hrs just about threw it against the wall and went back to the old one. Too soft when it rang, couldn’t hear it, couldn’t seem to change ring tone, too hard to use generally, I was going to take it back and ask for a refund.

But funny, I tried it again yesterday and it seems to make sense now. Found the ring tones, found the volume, found the alarm function, found the messaging. All OK now. Nice 8Mp camera. I think it’s a keeper. Funny, that.

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Still working off the laptop. The main computer is dead as a dodo. New HDD, new install of Windows, another attempt to recover from backup. Tedious

All over Red Rover

NSHS 2007 badge

Aaaah, the day after. What a relief that it’s all over.

Our Northam Senior High School Reunion happened last night (Saturday night), and judging by people’s reactions, it was a triumph. I can’t count the number of times I was slapped on the back and congratulated, and my hand pumped, and hugged with thanks. People really appreciated seeing all their old friends and renewing friendships.

I received prolonged applause for my effort, which is very gratifying, I must say. I put in a big effort, especially in the last week, and it paid off, with everyone appreciative of the signage and the boards of old photos and the badges and certificates and the DVD and all. It’s OK, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

It was a long day – we, the committee, started at midday, which was after an hour’s drive from my place. Three times during that drive I was hassled and verbally abused by other aggressive drivers! One was for driving at 60km/h in a 70km/h zone. The guy sat 6” from my rear, weaved from side to side trying to push past me in the single lane plus bike lane, then put his headlights on and moved even closer when I tapped my brake lights. Then I got the finger signal as he sped off at well above the limit. Nice.

Another was where we had to merge down into one lane in Curtin Ave, Swanbourne. A guy in a huge black Land Cruiser 4WD tried to force his way in front of me, I kept my car’s nose ahead of him and refused to allow it. I was always the front car!! The result was, I got a torrent of abuse at the next lights. He was spitting with anger and rage and hatred at me. What kind of mind is that?

Anyway, I got here to the Trade winds hotel and began the setup, as well as occupying our room. I’m sharing with my friend Jan.

The next two hours slid by and at 2pm the crowd started building. Meeting and greeting, handshaking and good to see you’s. Some were long time friends, many were names without faces, not seen for 15, 25, 50 years.

We had a nice fine day, if a bit cloudy and cooler than we wanted. Big group photo at 4pm on the top deck and we worried it was going to rain! The light was constantly changing. I was on a stool in the front row and I look so FAT! Workin’ on it.

Drinks and talk until 6.30pm (we’d been told 7pm … huh?) then the dinner. Ten to a table, buffet food, supposed to move between tables as we progressed but it didn’t happen. I was pretty tired and just wanted to sit in my place. Getting up to get the (uninspiring) food was hard work. It was a pity..

One point was that our MC said Grace! This was a surprise to me and I feel I was ambushed here. I don’t want religion forced on me. To me, religion is evil. More on this in a minute.

To my surprise, two of the guys sang a song, with guitar, introducing it as having been written by me! It was Charlie Drake’s song actually, “My Boomerang Won’t Come Back”, with the lyrics altered to encompass maths and laptops (“My Lap Top Won’t Come Back”) and more. I don’t remember doing it, but I must have, although talking about laptops it’s clearly not from 1964. Anyway, it was nice.

We slowly wound it up at about 11pm – we oldies were too tired by then – beddy bumps. Then it was upstairs to a room for more drinks and raucous conversation. One of our guys was especially drunk, but in a happy, friendly way. I’ve never seen him this way before. He was stumbling and reeling. But it was all fun, talking about old girlfriends and incidents at the school and The Hut. Blokes’ talk!

We went on until 3.30am. I was hardly aware of the time, having imbibed a fair bit, but I was fine, if tired. Then it was bed and almost instant sleep.

Breakfast this morning (Sunday) was another gathering with much conversation until about 10am when the “leavers” had to go. I was staying another night so as to wind down and relax. I may go down to the Fremantle town later when the light is nicer. The pool is inviting too, but it may be too cold.

PS: I did go into the pool for about 45mins and did about a dozen slow laps of breaststroke. I was so frustrated to begin with as I couldn’t get the gates to open. It turned out they were all locked. It took the guy more than 10 mins and multiple tries to find the right key.

It was no worse than having a cold shower, but after 45 mins I was a bit chilled. Gee, it felt nice, though.

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I can’t move on without mentioning a potentially wonderful meeting I had. One of the former students came up and sat by me and we had a marvellous conversation. I hadn’t noticed her before, but I felt instant rapport. This must be followed through. I can’t stop thinking about her!

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Now I can get back to the cruise preparation. Yesterday I received an email from the cruise line asking me to log on for important information. But when I tried to log on using my booking number, “Error 5007: Your cruise has been cancelled. You cannot log on using this booking number. Please contact your travel agent.”

WHAT??!! This was a repeat of the March experience where the travel agent, the same one, failed to pass on my money to P&O resulting in my booking being cancelled. Surely it wasn’t going to happen again?!

I phoned the cruise line’s 1 300 number and asked what was going on. They said my travel agent had changed my booking to access a special promotion, resulting in this change/cancellation in my booking.

Bloody hell. Now I have to phone her tomorrow to demand that she fixes this. We have 10 days to go. I was told to log on using Jan’s booking number in the meantime. This works, but I’m not happy about that.

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What an odd hotel this is. The rooms are huge and set up as motel units. This room has a double bed and two singles – three bed places. It has a full kitchen with hot plates, sink, microwave oven, fridge, cutlery and plates and cups. You could live in here, not needing to go to the restaurant or bar. That seems odd if they want to maximise their cash flow. But I don’t care – I brought my own sandwich and salad.

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Now to head home to try to resurrect my main PC. I’m still operating from my laptop. Thank goodness I have one.

I’ll have to go right back to basics on the PC – disconnect all disk drives, format a spare drive (I have many!) and install Win 7 from scratch. Assuming that works, I’ll install Acronis backup and try to find the most recent backup, then try to restore to my last backup point. This will all take hours.

The drive I had that failed first was an SSD and I’m not sure whether I’ll trust that type again. I’ll have to buy a new one and that’s expensive. Still thinking about it. The speed gains with an SSD are very significant, though, and hard to resist.

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I left the hotel at 0930 and it didn’t take long … I wasn’t even out of Fremantle when I had plenty of time to come to a stop at orange traffic lights. But a guy in a 4WD (yeah) pulled out from behind me, planted his foot and drove through the red lights. When I blew my horn I got the finger. I’m sick of this.

Oh no!

Thursday morning 9am. Another loss of the hard disk C: drive! There must be a motherboard problem, I think. I can see my files using a backup program, but at the moment I can’t access them.

All the name cards are done, thank goodness, and I got as far as R in printing the certificates. No chance of finishing that, I don’t think. Too bad, can’t do any more at the moment. Tired, crapped off with certain people but have to hide it for  the reunion!

Nearly there – update

Vivid MidnightIt’s now Wednesday and I did finally get the master disc to DiskBank on Monday, thanks to a good mate. But the stress I went through!! I only managed to get the master done at 10am Monday. Sitting in the waiting room at 7.30am at Silver Chain in Wanneroo, I still didn’t have the master ready and was almost in a panic. All because of this request to remove some group photos. Shit.

And now, of course, there’s rewriting of the story going on. It seems I was the one who wanted to stop production. No way! I would never have done that, Vietnam error or not, unless I was pressured to make that phone call. It wasn’t my idea.

There was a benefit, though. Because of the delay, I was able to incorporate two more biographies. But why can’t people understand deadlines??!! I had seven people submit on the very last day, at the very last moment and beyond. Bloody hell!

I’m still busy printing name badges and certificates, cutting the badges up, printing signage, paying the bills, answering late change queries. All the while worrying that I’m not keeping my legs above my heart.

Nearly done.