A New Year

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Mercedes 500SL. Phwoar! Around $22K. There are three for sale on the web at the moment. I want one!

So another year has passed. It’ll be two years on 3 April that I’ve been in this house – the time just seems to slip by. I’m pretty happy here now, no more homesickness for the Trigg house. Well, not quite true. I drove past it this morning on Marmion Avenue and I must admit a wave of nostalgia came over me as I thought of all the good times I had there.

But then I think of the traumatic time from June 2012 to April 2013, one of the worst periods of my life. Ugh. So many stress things. I have to stop myself from recalling events of that time. PTSD.

2014 is marked for me by not being in hospital all year! No more heart problems and my legs are pretty smooth and clear now. Dermeze. Recommend it.

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2014 was also marked by doing those two ship cruises. On the Arcadia from Fremantle to Singapore via Bali in March, then the big Asia cruise on the Sapphire Princess from Singapore to Beijing in October and November.

Although I’m glad I did these trips, no more cruising for me. I can’t stand the crowds and the queueing. And you have to realise, the ship only takes you to the port. If they say they go to Bangkok, they actually don’t. They go to the port for Bangkok and it costs you A$190 or so and a two hour bus trip each way to visit the city. Same for Saigon and the other cities, although Nagasaki was pretty close in. Nah, too much hassle and too expensive for me. Learnt my lesson. I would consider cruising to get from Fremantle to London, for example, but $9,000 when you can fly for $1,500 or less, return? No way.

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It was the year of the Northam Senior High School 50th Anniversary Reunion. That dominated my life. It started slowly, just sending out mass emailed newsletters and maintaining our database of former students. We already had about 125 from previous reunions but new names just kept coming, until the final tally was about 175. I had no idea there were so many. I didn’t know a lot of them as being at the Hut, we tended to be a bit isolated.

It was easy in the first part of the year, but as it built towards 11 October, I found myself working longer and longer on the magazine. I’m quite a perfectionist and I wanted it to be pretty whizzo, so I wrote a hell of a lot for it, which took a fair amount of time. Then I had to take the other students’ short biographies and format them for the magazine pages. Not difficult, but time consuming.

But trying to get the contributions! Almost all were less than a page. Less than a page to describe your life for 50 years??!! What have you been doing? Not much, to read some of them. I wrote 40 pages and could have written a lot more, with around 50 photos. Most people didn’t seem to be able to find any photos of their life. Pretty sad. There were honourable exceptions,

I was pretty happy that I managed to get 49 bios at the end.

But the latecomers! Seven people submitted theirs on the very last day. What did they think happens, that their bio just magically appears on the page, instantly? That last day, and the last weekend, was very, very stressful, I can tell you, not helped by a hard drive failure (an SSD). Two days’ work had to be redone. I was lucky I had a backup to that point, at least.

The magazine was a triumph, I feel. Several people have said how much they enjoyed reading it (it was 450 pages!). I wrote a hell of a lot of it – 22 pages on life as a Hut Lad; another 25 pages on Life at School; half a dozen pages of Hits of the Sixties lists; four pages of “I Remembers”; three poems, and so on. But do you think I could get anyone else to write anything? No way, (with one small exception). Despite my appeals for material, I got nothing.

Likewise, I’m mystified by the lack of feedback on what I wrote. Not one person has said anything about the Hostel and Life at School articles. Didn’t anyone have anything to add or change or talk about? It seems not. I suggested things for people to write about but I got nothing. Oh well. Too late now. I doubt there’ll be another magazine after that effort for such little reward.

Nonetheless, people did seem to appreciate the reunion. It was quite a significant event. I only wish I hadn’t been so exhausted on the day.

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My shop tribulations go on and on.

  1. On Xmas eve I bought some garlic prawns on skewers from Coles. They were in plastic packs and there was a prominent yellow price label, $1. Naiively, I thought this was per pack so I bought the last two packs.When I got home, I found I’d been charged $12 for them. They were $1 per skewer, not per pack. Oh well, my mistake I should have read the price more closely.But that meant there should have been six per pack, but there were only five! I had to count carefully to be sure, but that was it, alright. So I have to go back and complain.
  2. Then I bought some beer at IGA and didn’t check my till receipt until I got home. More fool me – I’d been charged twice for one $16.99 six pack. I complained yesterday and only got the refund for one pack. So much, again, for the Scanning Code of Practice.
  3. On Tuesday I bought some Coles Mixed Nuts. As soon as I opened the packet last night (New Year’s Eve, remember?) there was an immediate whiff of staleness. I looked at the Use By date – 10 June 2014! Six months out of date. So that was the end of my NYE treat. Grrrrrrrr! I’ll be taking them back today; they still smell stale enough to be inedible. If I’d been having guests, I would have been embarrassed.
  4. Yesterday (Wednesday) I bought some cherries at the local IGA, the one where scanning errors are rife. Sure enough, when I checked the bill in the shop before I left, I was charged $28.32 per kilo, when they were $12/kg. What??!! I immediately complained and was kept waiting while they retrieved the price label from the shelf. No free item, just the difference refunded. I made it clear I wasn’t happy, as this happens every time I shop there and I was able to speak to the manager. I told him that things like this happen every bloody time, have been this way for all the year and there’s never any improvement. He was polite and looked chastened, so I’ll keep trying. Very trying …

It’s lucky I’m so vigilant. I’ve learnt over and over to always check the docket! Notice that all these errors are in the merchants’ favour. It’s always the customer who loses. Nice trick!

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In October, there was an announcement by Lockheed Martin, the giant US defence firm, that they have found a way to make fusion power in a device the size of a ship container, able to fit on a truck or into an aircraft. This is hugely important. It has the potential to completely change the way we generate electricity. No more oil needed, no more coal, no more greenhouse gases, no more CO2. Massive news.

Lockheed Martin are a big, extremely capable and scientifically reputable company. They would hardly announce this if there was any doubt that they can do it. Within five years for prototypes and within 10 years for production models. (I have no doubt they’ll be able to get the size down and power up in the next decade, as well).

Yet to hear the Liberal Government in Canberra talk, it’s as if they don’t know anything about this new development. The Rabbott continues to talk up coal mining as if it’s the power source of the future. He seems to know nothing of its marginal cost equation or its CO2 emissions problem. He either doesn’t know about fusion power, or can’t understand it, or doesn’t care.

As well, photovoltaic panels are now up to 40% efficiency, their cost has fallen 80% or so, and storage battery technology is now ready to take over in the household. That means falling demand for mains electricity and hence coal fired power stations. But the Rabbott keeps pushing fo new coal fired power as if none of these developments is happening. The man’s an idiot.

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