And another one!

0170042-01“A Four Corners investigation has found rorting of the [Job Services Australia] scheme is rampant. Forgery, manipulation of records and the lodgement of inflated claims for fees are widespread.” [ABC News]

It’s not ordinary employees who are committing these crimes, it’s business owners! The Liberal Party mantra – The law is for the little people – allow me to make myself rich and some of it will rub off onto you (the so-called trickle down effect). Get out of my way with your rules and regulations – I’m running a business here. Why should I pay tax when I’m paying payroll tax etc?  Eh, Rell? Yeah.

When those apprentices and young casual workers were electrocuted in metal roofs during the home insulation scheme in 2009, it wasn’t them who ordered themselves up into the roof spaces without training or safety rules. It was their bosses! The business owners. They saw a money earner and they grabbed for it, at any cost.

Yet the government minister Peter Garrett was blamed for it. Why the hell should he take the blame? He didn’t know this was happening, how could he know?

A Nationals senator is calling for a Royal Commission into the finance and financial advice industry, as he says up to $60 billion has been lost to small investors in dodgy advice and schemes in recent years. The National Australia Bank has recently made big payouts to small investors who followed bank employees advice in recent years. The Storm Financial company in Qld was another scandal, heavily involved with the bank we trust, the CBA. So much for integrity.

I doubt these fine business people vote Labour.  Grrrrrrr.


I’ve got no water. No warning, just cut off. There seems to be a truck and workmen down the street a bit. If it doesn’t come back soon, I’ll have to walk down and “ask” them.


Cheap appliances. My $50 Coles coffee capsule machine seems to have given up the ghost. It is supposed to show a green blinking LED in the button as it heats up, but it’s just blinking red all the time now. Less than a year’s use. Not happy.

And my $350 robotic vacuum cleaner has also stopped. It seems to work for about a minute, then just stops and goes back to standby. No indication of any fault or error. Damn. I bought it through Amazon and they asked me to review it. I never got around to it, but I was going to say, “It works, but not very well.” But it doesn’t even work now.


I partially dismantled my one and only model loco last night prior to installing a new DCC decoder board which should arrive any day now. I followed the instructions, but I couldn’t get the old PCB out. I loosened the screws even more and “sproing”, it came apart and the wheels fell off.

I spent about 15 mins last night trying to get it back together without success, but my eyes were tired so I gave up. More work today.


I’ve got a work guy coming this afternoon to do all the odd jobs around the house. I’ve gone downhill in the past two years that I’ve been here. I’ve lost all my strength. I can’t do the stuff I used to do. I can’t get up a ladder very easily, let alone work up there. It’s disheartening. It’s the leukemia, I think. I can feel the lymph modes at the back of my jaw much more now. Hmmm.


3.30pm Huh! He came, but right off the bat, he didn’t want the work. First job: fix my reticulation sprinklers on the verge. “Sorry mate, I don’t do reticulation.” He’s got a mate who does, but …

OK, next job: weeding and revamping my garden at the front. “Sorry mate, I don’t do weeding.” He’s got a mate …

OK, I show him the garage and the cleaning up I need. Not hard work. But he starts sucking his teeth and looking through his diary and says, “Hmmm, I might be able to fit you in on the 17th.” The 17th of March!

I say, No, it’s too long. Just text me the names of your mates. So, a complete waste of my time. I’ve waited five days just for him to turn up and tell me this. Rack off, mate.



Well I never

20050304 US Defense VisualIn Tomahawk cruise missile detonation over target San Clemente Island California 19860401I’m sure you know that I have a very poor opinion of Liberal Party politicians and members. Well take a look at this:

Yet another Liberal politician who doesn’t know the difference between proprietary and propriety. Who can’t understand why they can’t use their taxpayer funded office to further their personal business interests. Who doesn’t understand ethics. Look at Nalder, the Liberal WA state minister who used his ministerial office and staff to arrange business meetings with some Chinese guys in connection with his own business in China! He couldn’t understand why this was wrong. He still can’t. And Barnett didn’t sack him. He’s a Liberal, and the law is different for them as we all know.

What is the difference between people who run dodgy businesses, tricky financial planning businesses, get their parliamentary and private interests mixed up and break the law, and trade unions? Answer: one lot has a government Royal Commission imposed on them at HUGE cost, and the other is allowed to get away with it.

This is tragic

This awful Prime Minister and his incompetent government have undone decades of careful diplomacy with Indonesia in a few stupid sentences.

See  The people of Aceh are outraged at Sir Lord Rabbott AO, OA, KCMD, Order of the Stuffed Shirt, VC, over his suggestion that our aid to Indonesia after the 2004 tsunami makes them owe us. I don’t blame them. This is sheer stupidity. This guy is a rank wanker amateur. A prize ocker fool.

Already this whole business is having an effect. Australians are left out of Indonesia’s change to free visas. We still have to pay. How embarrassing. There is now a growing mood of hostility to Australia in Indonesia, a complete change from before our stupid government came to power in 2013.

I’m sure a big proportion of Aussies will be saying, “Too bad. Why does it matter?” I read the other day that 52% of Aussie visitors to Bali don’t know that it’s part of Indonesia. I cringe.

Well, Indonesia is 220 million people, ten times our population, and not far away. With good relations, we sell them food and manufactured goods (fibreglass swimming pools is one example from WA that I know about). And education, which is just as valuable an export as cattle or anything else.

With bad relations, regional cooperation on drugs and people smuggling stops, just as one example. Too bad? I don’t think so.


I’ve said before that I check all my supermarket bills for errors, and I find them all the time.

Well, a week or two ago I got a letter in the mail with a bill from Unicare for $51. There was no indication of what it was for, just a code number.

Unicare? Who are they? I assumed it might have been a QE II Medical Centre bill for the eye tests I had in January.

I nearly paid it on-line, until I noticed I had a Unicare pdf file on my desktop. It was a receipt from when I’d made an on-line purchase a few weeks ago. I had bought and paid in the one transaction.

So this Unicare, based in Welshpool in Perth, tried to bill me again, and I nearly paid it again! See what I mean? They’re out to get us. Inefficient accounting, obviously. I phoned them and said I’d already paid and the receptionist said, “Oh, please hold and I’ll speak to our accounts person.” So I held, then after a minute or two she said they’d phone me back, but they haven’t.

Wave power again

I was talking about the Carnegie wave power plant that’s just started up on Garden Island in Cockburn Sound. (That’s near Fremantle and Rockingham for my remote readers.)

Here are some more pictures, all courtesy of the Carnegie web site. Rather nice, I reckon:

141106_NearMap_GI Site Aerial

You can see the undersea pipe coming ashore at lower-left/middle


This picture looks as if it should be rotated 90deg. right, but it looks funny then as well.

20070306ran8109430_055343.JPGGIMapI like this! Free power, or relatively cheap, pollution free, permanent, independent of day or night. The only drawback is that you need to be beside the sea, but aren’t we all? 🙂


I’ve spoken before about the Lockheed Martin announcement last year of a new compact fusion power generator. Their web site is still there, but I have been wondering about the lack of talk about it. Scientific people seem to be ignoring it.

I’ve just been listening to a radio program that talks about it and, oh dear, it seems that Lockheed Martin are refusing to talk about it apart from their web site, will not take interviews, have not published any details apart from a patent and don’t attend any conferences about fusion energy. Oh dear.

The suggestion is made that they are doing it to attract development money since their defence contracts have been reduced. Oh dear.


Oh dear again. Last night was the last ever episode of  Foyle’s War, the BBC drama about detective Christopher Foyle (always called Mr Foyle) during WW2 and immediately afterwards. These last four episodes seem to be it. They didn’t kill him off, but it was pretty final.

This series has been the epitome of good TV as far as I’m concerned. Immaculately made, restrained, credible, beautifully recreated wartime scenes (how do they do it?!). I’m sure there’ll be repeats for a long time to come, there already have been, but it’s not the same.

My other favourite show is Silent Witness. It’s not quite as good – the lab scenes are just too clean and slick to be believable, they only ever seem to have one case on at a time, such a light workload, but the story lines have been fantastic. And Emilia Fox! Whoo whoo … ! Talk about thinking man’s crumpet.

But how come … ? Last year, Leo was killed in a suicide bomb explosion while on a job in the Middle East. That seemed pretty final to me. But recently he’s back in episodes that I don’t remember seeing before. Not that I’m complaining, but …


Crumbs, this model railway planning is harder than it looks. I’m on about version 7 by now and struggling to get the point work right. It looks easy but when you place a point (a switch, a turnout) on the drawing, it’s locked in place. You can unlock it and move it, but then you have to move all the track to make it connect up again. This takes a lot of work. I can see that this planning is going to take months before I start physically laying track.Grubbe Street 160215You can see how I’ve attempted to reproduce the complex tracks on the left, but I’ve got sick of it and I’ll have a go at the Waverley Station end on the bottom part. It takes hours!

I’ve found some pictures of typical WA railway locos – not all of these are in WA, but they’re all Aussies:

CBH Group CBH Class loco

I’ve just noticed – the wheels look odd, but it’s because they’re narrowly spaced. This is the WA country rail network in the Wheat Belt, where the track would still be 3ft 6inches spacing from the old days. The Australian standard is 4ft 8.5 inches, Standard Gauge, but our counry lines wouldn’t have been upgraded – far too expensive. So these WA locos look as if they’re balanced tippy toe on the rails. Huh.

4996758-3x2-940x627 BHPB AC6000CW + EMD SD70ACe CBH_1_and_2_Cranbrook CBH_1_Wagin_2012 DB1588_Forrestfield,_1986  NR29_in_Pacific_National_Livery Nr-bl-class Pacific-national-g-classes PN_DL45_Dec2007By the way, what other hobby wants the models to look dirty and grubby? As they come out of the box, they’re clean and shiny new, but real trains aren’t. They’re muddy and rusty and oil stained. So in theory, we “weather” all our model trains, including adding rust to the rails and oil stains all over the sleepers. You can even buy your models pre-weathered, at extra cost. Crazy. I don’t think I want dirty trains, not yet, anyway.



A product of the management of ASC as a prototype for Australia’s next subs. © PJ Croft 2014, 2015

Yesterday I was talking about the subs Australia is currently trying to either build or buy. In a timely way, the news comes today that Sweden, Germany, Japan and Britain have all submitted tenders or proposals based on their own proven designs. And where was ASC, our Australian company? The Australian Submarine Corporation in Adelaide has not submitted a bid. Why? They didn’t know they had to. They weren’t ready. They didn’t understand the tender process. [See today’s West]

I can guarantee you that all the engineers and technicians and skilled tradesmen will be shaking their heads in amazement, gnashing their teeth and shaking their fists at their management.

Why is it that Sweden, a country with a smaller population than us, can build submarines successfully to their own design, and we can’t? Why is it that Sweden can design and build terrific fighter jets and we can’t? Why is it that we bought our new nuclear reactor (Lucas Heights) a few years ago from Argentina??? Argentina! How embarrassing.

I’ll tell you why. Senior managers in this country are incompetent, that’s why. They are lazy, complacent, risk averse, timid and don’t know their stuff.

At the place I used to work, the managers were a joke, laughable, good at anything but managing. I could tell some stories.

I’m reading a book called Mayday at the moment, about all the management blunders that nearly killed QANTAS in 2011-12, and may still do so yet. That grounding in 2011 was unnecessary and hugely costly, not only in money terms but in trust and reputation. People don’t trust QANTAS any more.

Yet Alan Joyce and his henchmen at the top got salary increases of up to 40% at that time, while they were adamant that the rank and file were not going to get more than 3%, the inflation rate. No increase, in other words.

Now I’m reading about Fairfax. I read the book, The Rise and Fall of Fairfax a few weeks ago. Total chaos in the upper management ranks over decades. Now Fairfax profit has fallen very low, down by 86% this year, and the company’s losses amount to $2.5 billion dollars in recent years,

“Hywood’s bold plans to turn the business around are self-evidently not working – except to enrich the company’s executives, who have awarded themselves tens of millions of dollars worth of cash and shares by way of bonuses for their dismal performance.” [The Guardian]

This is the way it works in Australia – no matter how much damage the CEOs and CFOs and boards do to companies at the expense of workers and shareholders, they STILL award themselves massive salary increases and bonuses. Alan Joyce, the CEO of QANTAS, saw his salary and bonuses increase from $3.7m to $4.5m in one year alone, while telling the workforce they couldn’t have more than 3%.

I could go on, but I don’t have to. I do have to go and be sick.


This is the asylum

What is it? See below.

What is it? See below.

We are living in an age of magic, an age of engineering and scientific marvels. What is this? It’s the surface of a comet! It’s the comet Gerasimov from only 6.5Km away, roughly. No-one in history has ever seen anything like this before. We used to think comets were just balls of dirty ice which got partly melted with each sun pass. But this European Space Agency spacecraft has shown that this comet, at least, is much more than just dirty ice. This is history being made!


We’re going to spend $22 billion to obtain 12 submarines. At the same time, we have a huge budget deficit which will require drastic measures to correct.

Well, how about this? There is an alternative. Forget building submarines altogether. Why do we need them? Where’s the justification? They will never fire a shot in anger. They will never be needed, just as the six Collins Class subs have never been blooded.

Submarines are 20th century. There are so many alternatives to kill ships by stealth now. Even if the justification is intelligence gathering, it’s a hugely expensive way to get it. UAV (drone) technology is taking over. Besides, it is very, very difficult to get submarine crews. Very few can tolerate the long periods submerged in such tight living conditions.

If we have $22bn to spend, spend it on 21st century technology such as the US Fast Littoral Combat Ships (built right here in WA by Austal) or small stealthy, but deadly, patrol craft (ditto). For $22bn we could have a hundred of them or more. They could overwhelm an enemy like ants attacking a large prey. Cruise missiles. Forget subs!


I was talking about the wave power experiment in Cockburn Sound yesterday. Well, shazzam, it went on-line today. The pilot installation has been connected to Garden Island and is supplying 720KW to the RAN base there, plus desalinated water. All from only three generator buoys.

I thought the generators were in the buoys, but no, the buoys generate sea water at high pressure which is piped ashore to drive turbines. The desalination is a byproduct, presumably by reverse osmosis.

If only three buoys can generate that much power, imagine what 100 could do.


I had an attack of GAS today. GAS is Gear Acquisition Syndrome, the need to buy one more piece of photographic gear. But I resisted …

I was reading a piece about a new Tamron 150-600mm zoom telephoto lens and getting all gooey about it. Wow, what a lens, I thought. Sigma makes one of the same range in Pentax mount which I could use. $1,497. Ugh.

Then while browsing the lens lists, it suddenly hit me – I’ve got the Olympus 75-300mm lens for micro 4/3rds. That’s equivalent to 150-600mm in full frame. So I’ve already got a lens of that type!! The attack of GAS went away.


In tonight’s Guardian, they show that the lead lawyer for the government in the Trade Union Royal Commission is being paid $3.6 million for less than two years’ work. The government is willigly paying that amount of money in the hope of getting even with trade unions.

At the same time, they’re suggesting we might have to forego the census next year as we can’t afford it.

I think that shows this execrable, disgusting government’s priorities.

Peter Dowding in the West points out that in 1986 the WA Labor government’s move to abolish capital punishment (government sanctioned killing) went close to defeat because nearly all the conservative side (Liberals and Nationals) voted to keep hanging people. If hanging had been kept, John Button and Daryl Beamish, two entirely innocent men, would almost certainly be dead.

And don’t forget it’s the conservatives who want royal honours restored (so they can give each other knighthoods again). Disgusting, revolting people.

RETs and all that

Pollution free energy. Don't be a galah. © PJ Croft 1987, 2015

Pollution free energy. Don’t be a galah. (I took this shot in 1987 on the Exmouth Peninsula.) © PJ Croft 1987, 2015

I’m a financial member of GetUp, the small organisation that tries to influence events by getting people to speak up. They asked us to email our local MP yesterday about the RET, the Renewable Energy Target, the legislated target to have “20:20” – 20% of our energy generated from renewable resources by 2020. This damnable Liberal government has abandoned any target.

This is what I sent to Christian Porter MP, my local member.

I’m 68, and I’m old enough to remember what WA’s climate USED to be like.

There’s no question that our rainfall in WA has dropped dramatically and temperatures have risen noticeably. I used to have to rug up at night. No more. Winter nights are now mild. Summer temperatures are noticeably higher and heat waves ( > 3 days @ > 30C ) last longer, as long as a month.

This is plain evidence that WA’s climate has changed. This IS climate change. I have to use much more air conditioning now, at great cost, both to me and to our environment.

For goodness sake, look at the cost/benefit analysis of acting, or doing nothing. To me it’s clear.

You believe climate change is crap ( I say this because you stand shoulder to shoulder with your leader who says that, and you say nothing to the contrary).

I believe climate change is not only scientifically proven, it’s real. I can feel it. And when more than 1,000 scientists around the world, with full rigorous, peer reviewed research and the qualifications to do so, speak unequivocally, I listen and believe.

I could be wrong, and we could spend billions of dollars combating climate change without halting or reversing the change. But look where and how those billions would be spent.

We’d invest in renewable energy, and I include both nuclear power stations (fission) and fusion power (see the Lockheed Martin announcement about small sized fusion reactors within 5 years). Geo thermal power – why aren’t we developing it, for goodness sake? Solar power. Wave power – it’s happening right now in Cockburn Sound in tests by the Carnegie company, with no government help! Virtually cost free power with desalinated water as a by-product. Why not do it?

All these things are money makers and jobs creators. Australia is good at doing this and could become a major exporter.

The result would be cleaner air, fewer waste products, less degradation of the land by open cut coal mines, cleaner oceans, no damage to coral reefs, and JOBS. Technical, engineering jobs, just what we need. Manufacturing jobs.

I could be wrong and this may not halt climate change, but the money we spend is not wasted! It would have huge benefits, even if the climate continued to change.

Or, we follow Tony Abbott’s path and do nothing. We place great reliance on coal. We continue to allow large scale coal mining, when the economic case is no longer there – we don’t need massive coal any more. All we’re doing is shipping it to India to cause massive pollution and environmental damage, and causing great damage to our own environment in the process, all to enrich an Indian billionaire. This is just one example. We continue to see our manufacturing base disappear. We wring our hands and try to think of solutions, and watch our jobs disappear overseas to Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand and China.

You COULD be wrong. And if you are, the damage would be incalculable.

So if we follow your path, what are you going to say in 40, 50 years’ time? Ooops, sorry? The Monty Python apology?

If you are wrong, how are you going to fix the consequences of your opposition to a RET or a carbon (dioxide) emissions tax, or a resources rent tax?

If I’m wrong, I can’t see that I’ll need to apologise, because the consequences of my error will be terrific even so. We will see new jobs, cleaner air, cleaner and more efficient power generation and new technology. Patents, royalties. Revenue from the levies and taxes flowing to the government.

For goodness sake, THINK.

Why aren’t we developing geothermal power? According to my reading, a particular spot in South Australia (near Woomera, I think) has the ability to provide enough power, free of charge, free of pollution, to supply the whole of the eastern states forever!

It seems to be the cost of building the power transmission lines from the site to link into the SA power grid. Huh? Surely even a cost of $500 million would not be out of the question?

Here in WA we have a major geothermal hotspot near Dongara, again able to supply massive heat. And another one just over the Darling Scarp near Perth. Why aren’t we developing it? I don’t understand it.

My reference to wave power is the Carnegie Energy project in Cockburn Sound . Big weights anchoring buoys to the ocean floor (about 20m down?). As the waves pass, the buoys rise and fall and drive a generator in the buoy. This generates power which is fed to the shore by electric cables under the water. Each buoy is fairly small but you have a large number of them (100, I think), in a grid.


Interesting sights yesterday. Sitting in a cafe on the coast and first, a RAAF Lockheed Martin C-130 Super Hercules four engined prop plane flew past, low and slow.

C-130 Hercules

C-130 Hercules

It was followed 10 mins later by a C-17 Globemaster, a massive four-jet engined transport plane flying low.

C-17 Globemaster transport.

C-17 Globemaster transport.

Both were only 200 ft or so above the ocean, north to south.

Then an hour later, they came back again flying south to north, right above the coast line. Phew!

Then I went to Joondalup shopping centre and there was an army Military Police vehicle there, and inside the centre, sipping milkshakes, three MPs with their red badges.

What’s going on? Has Indonesia invaded?

More rethinking

Kato U30C SF

My first loco arrived last week. It’s a Japanese Kato brand. It’s only DC at the moment (i.e. it runs on a 9V battery or whatever), but I’ve ordered a drop-in DCC decoder to make it run on 16V ac digital power. Although it’s USA livery, I’ll repaint it to a more WA colour scheme. I’m pretty sure similar locos are used here.

First, I read a brilliant little piece the other day:

A rich man, a poor man and a workman are sitting at a table. There’s a plate of a dozen biscuits in the centre. The rich man grabs eleven of them and says to the workman, “The poor man needs your biscuit.”

Exactly. Precisely. This is confirmed by the Australian employer groups always trying to apply moral pressure to unions in Minimum Wage pay case negotiations every year, saying that any increase in wages may lead to job losses. This applies at any time, whether the economy and business conditions are going great or not. Even when the ACTU and unions are only trying to get another $10 a week on the minimum wage, the employers try to deny it. This is sheer cold blooded selfishness.

It’s also confirmed by the latest news: by next year, 49% of the entire world’s wealth will be in the hands of the richest 1%. But that’s not enough. They still want more and more, and they’ll do anything to get it, including tax avoidance (which is legal but immoral), tax evasion (which is illegal and even more immoral), hidden bank accounts, using hidden offshore tax free banks and any other means they can think of. And they flaunt it.

I know two people: one practices tax avaiodance and boasted to me in January 2011 that “I paid no tax last year, it all goes therough the (family) trust.” He is so captured by the belief that he’s a finance guru that he expected me to applaud him.

Well, he also flies to Bali about once a month to “do maintenance” on a villa there which he hides in a tax sheltered scheme. He drives on the roads, he flies from the airport, he goes through Customs and Immigration, he relies on the air traffic control and the weather prediction service, he relies on the Dept of Health to guard against diseases and epidemics … the list is endless. All these are taxpayer funded! But he doesn’t believe he should have to pay any tax! He thinks it’s clever to avoid tax. I kept a straight face in order to keep the peace, but I fume.

I was speaking to another guy recently, a retired business owner. He resented the 9% employee super levy and all forms of government regulation. He implied that he has problems with the ATO over his tax. I wonder why. His whole speech was a tirade against authority – how he was only trying to be successful, i.e. make money for himself, and everyone was putting obstacles in his way. I told him we have no common ground and I didn’t want to talk to him again.

Read about Thomas Piketty. He has exposed the huge shift of wealth in this society from the poor to the rich over the last century, and the pace is accelerating. It is actually true, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. It’s being pushed to the fore by the last budget of this awful Liberal government in Canberra. All the burden is falling on the less well off and the rich were untouched.

I truly believe that the message, that you will not get away with evading tax, will not get through without the practitioners having to live in fear. Nothing else works. The super rich must be made to fear their attempts to avoid paying their way. Nothing else we have ever tried has worked. Vive la Revolution.


I’m going to have to have the gastric bypass operation. I can’t go on like this. I can’t do anything any more. Even walking around the shopping centre is an ordeal. I tire so quickly. I can’t enjoy walking any more. I used to.

It’ll cost $6,500 nett, after HBF but no Medicare for this. It’s considered cosmetic surgery. It’s not optional to me.

That means I’ve wasted another year, after chickening out last year. Damn.


However, the incentive is that I want to do another trip to the UK to visit Croft Castle, while I still can. I had a vague plan to make a re-run of the 2008 trip in Setember and October this year. But an ad has caught my eye this morning.

The cruise ship Astor makes regular cruises between Fremantle and London but the route going there is via South Africa and the west coast of Africa. No thanks, not for me. I will never go near Africa. No interest.

But this morning I find they’re advertising the return trip: London back to Fremantle but around the other side, via the Caribbean, Panama Canal, the Pacific Islands, Auckland, then Sydney and Fremantle. That’s more attractive to me. It’s 53 days, a long trip, but with 11 stops, not too bad. And the Astor is a small ship, only 850 passengers vs the 2,800 of the last two I’ve been on. I’ve heard good reports about it.

They’re advertising cabins with “2nd person free”, meaning one price for a two berth cabin, no single supplement (that’s my reading of it, anyway). If I could find a travel partner to share …  Something to think about, anyway.


Another new plan out of a magazine:

Waverly small

Although this is drawn as a square, the bottom left coner is actually open. Therefore the three sides can be opened out and bent around my L-shaped boards, I think. Waverly on one leg and King’s Cross on the other, with Doncaster in between. I actually travelled this route in 2008 on a high speed train, so I know the stations.

Waverly photo small

Waverly Station, Edinburgh. That’s a road bridge across the top. I’ve driven across it several times (‘cos I was lost!)

The more time I spend on this model railway, the more I realise I need to learn and plan before I commit to sticking down track. The good thing is that the more I read, the more it makes sense. I’ve been re-reading torn out articles from months ago and although they seemed to be fairly straightforward then, they make even more sense now that I’ve read other theory articles. It is very complex. This is a multi year project, something you never finish. The electronics alone is formidable, but that’s what I like, of course.

I think my plan up to now is going to be abandoned once again. It’s aimless. I’ve found another plan (above) in a magazine. Although it doesn’t go around an L-bend as shown, it’s much more interesting and is a going concern. It actually includes Waverly Station in Edinburgh, where I spent a good few hours in 2008 – the hire car depot was on the platform. (You have to drive down, off the bridge onto the platform. This had me bamboozled at first. I had to stop the car on the bridge and phone the hire company for instructions.) I’ve seen a couple of articles about modelling it and it looks fantastic. Having sen and experienced it makes it all the better. I know what it looks like with my own eyes.

It would also solve my problem of what country to model. I wanted to model Australia, of course, preferably Perth and/or the NW iron trains, but there’s almost nothing available in N-gauge for Australian models. The overwhelming majority (>95%) are UK or USA. It seems wrong to be modelling the UK out here, but there’s not much choice.

I think I’m also going to have to buy one of these:

ESU Command StationThat’s a touch screen display, with motor driven speed wheels on the sides (ie they rotate to show what speed the loco is going). Made in Germany. And this:

ESU remoteThat’s a wireless touch screen remote about the size of a mobile phone. I want it!

But there are many, many more hours of planning to be done. I’d just be bored otherwise.

Ooops, start again

Grubbe Street 250115aHmmm. When designing a model railway, it’s not as simple as it seems. I’ve realised that the layout I’ve been working on is aimless. Tracks lead to other tracks simply because they can. I don’t have a plan of operations, i.e. this train picks up here and delivers here etc.

So I’m having a rethink. First, I’m dividing the two legs of the baseboard so that I can start small and work up. Next, I found a plan in a magazine a few days ago:

Garston Welby smallThis is what they call a “tail chaser”, i.e. round and round it goes, but with plenty of sidings and goods yards etc. So I’m thinking I’ll adapt it to be one leg of my L shape as so:

Garston 080215This is still at a primitive stage on the up and down legs, as you can see. The branches go off to the horizontal part of the L baseboard, to be added and connected later. I’ve retained my central station as so much work went into it. I received some plastic platform kits last week and shazzam, the platform width is exactly the width I allowed in the drawing, so no track shifting needed, thank goodness.

Boy, I’m coming to realise how vital it is to spend as long as it takes on planning, because once you start laying track, cutting away the underlay, pinning it all down and ballasting (spreading finely ground granite chips on the track, glued in place), it would be very hard to change. I foresee many weeks or months of planning in front of me before I commit to permanent track laying. This is a project that will take years. These things are never finished, that’s the beauty of it. There’s always something to be done.


Damn. I’ve just changed an ink tank in my Canon printer, only to discover that it’s a wrong type. I need type 526, but I accidentally bought a 521. I can’t take it back, I’ve opened it. So that’s $22.95 down the drain, literally into the rubbish bin. Bugger. And my printer don’t go until I buy another cartridge.


I’m very happy that Tony Abbott is to stay on as PM. He’s such an idiot that he’ll be an easybeat at the next election. Turnbull + Bishop would have been much harder to beat. Yay, Tones! What next, an Australian Pope? A House of Lords? An Order of the Garter for Lord Downer? I can’t wait for the next bungle. Let’s make this a one-term federal government, like Victoria and Queensland.


Twice more in the past week I’ve woken with a start after midnight to what sounds like three hard raps on my front door. I lie there, in the knowledge that if there was anyone there, they’ll knock again (or push the doorbell). This happened several times after I moved here in 2013 and I thought it was local kids up to mischief.

Do I have a poltergeist, or is this some subconscious dream that someone wants to come in?


And the heat goes on. For my interstate and foreign readers, day after day, week after week of over 30degC maxima. It was 40degC yesterday, and a cool day is forecast today, only 32degC. With aircon it’s OK in the house, but it discourages going out.


I’m having a lot of trouble booting my computer up. It takes ages to get past the Gigabyte motherboard logo, then it displays the RAID dialogue even though I never chose to implement RAID, then it dispays a strange enumeration of just two of the SATA disks, (sometimes in 640×480 text, sometimes in 320×240 CGA!). Then after a long (>10 secs) delay it goes back to the Gigabyte logo, then after an even longer delay (up to 60 secs), it goes on but fails to boot because it won’t remember the boot order. All this can take 2-3 mins.

So I have to try to get into the BIOS to change the boot drive order, but that takes ages of pressing the DEL key, the RAID and two more Gigabyte logo displays before I get there. I find the C crive has moved itself to about number 6 in the boot order. I change it to number 2 and then have to go through all this delay again. Finally, it will usually boot into Windows after that. This happens every time. It will not remember the SATA boot order.

I’ve reset the BIOS to default parameters many times, both in the BIOS and by shorting the motherboard pins, to no avail. I do notice that if I disconnect one or more of the SATA drives, it improves, but it’s not clear cut.

Do I have a faulty motherboard? Or an overloaded power supply? To find out, the only way is to change to a different motherboard or P/S, but that means buying a new one at around $150 and all the work of dismantling and rebuilding. At least half a day’s work, more. Or buy a new power supply on the off chance, much easier to swap, but another $150. Damn.

So I’m being careful to never power the computer down, only putting it into sleep mode overnight. Then Microsoft does its software patch downloads overnight at the beginning of each month, trying to reboot in the process while I’m asleep, and I turn the monitor on in the morning to find it hung up. Bugger!!

This highlights why I’ve never been keen to get into computer servicing, even for friends. Just imagine if I had this problem with someone I didn’t know, telling them I’d have to spend $150 and around three hours of my time at $100 an hour, with no guarantee it will fix it. A client being suspicious that you know what you’re doing, reluctant to agree to spending this big amount when they could buy a brand new computer for the same amount. No thanks. Fixing computers, especially when the client has no backup and a chaotic hard disk with documents all over the place, is hard work.

The eyes have it

Mars 19May A

Retina? What is it?

Yesterday was the third visit to SCGH for eye tests. The verdict? Can’t see any problems, come back and see us in six months. Well, that’s very reassuring but it doesn’t answer my questions – why am I seeing, very intermittently, a curved line in the lower field of my left eye? They had no answer. And why am I being troubled so much by glare? No answer.

The doctor yesterday was frustratingly brief and vague. He didn’t go into any detail, just said my field (peripheral vision) test was pretty good with just a small area of concern, but didn’t properly show me the printouts. My intra-ocular pressure is marginal but OK, but he didn’t tell me the readings. I came away reassured, but a bit frustrated.

Each time in these three visits, I had different doctors who were very nice, but they always introduced themselves with just their first name, so I wasn’t sure who I was seeing or even if they were a medical doctor or just a technician. If I was asked who I saw, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. Oh well, as I said it was all reassuring, so that’s OK then.

But three visits! Each time it was nearly 90 mins to get there and park. And another hour to get home, of course. It’s more than 70Km each way and the traffic was heavy yesterday. Luckily the parking in that new parking building off Thomas St is easy. But expensive! For my roughly three hours, $9.60. Bloody hell, it’s enough to make you sick.


From The Guardian:  “The most obvious piece of “bad” infrastructure is the NBN, too closely identified with Kevin Rudd to be anything but anathema [to this Liberal government]. Unsurprisingly, the government has commissioned a hatchet job on the project, based on the unsurprising premise that, if we don’t discover any new uses for the Internet, our existing infrastructure, with a modest upgrade will suffice to meet our needs.”

Malcolm Turnbull – the man who crippled Australia’s fibre optic network. This Liberal government – the government that is crippling Australia’s scientific base.

I spit.


Aha, two boxes have just arrived from the UK, with my $850 parts order of model rail gear. That’s exactly a week to arrive. Not bad! Crumbs, they’re much smaller boxes than I expected, but it’s all there. It’s N gauge, that’s why it’s so small.

So now I’ve got all the track and points (ie turnouts, switches), and therefore, when I’ve got the plan done, I can make a start laying the track. I’ve got five folding tables to put the baseboards on, and one sheet of 2400 x 1200 x 9mm MDF, cut into three pieces. I’ll build the baseboards in 1200 x 1200mm sections so that I can lift them and store them away if necessary, and I’ll bolt them together to make the larger pieces.

I also bought a roll of 3mm thick black rubber sheeting, 1200mm wide by 4000mm long. It’s made from ground up car tyres, to make a fairly soft and porous sheet. I figure it looks much like black coal or very dark granite chipped surfaces. It’s meant to be a base to lay the track on. But it pongs of rubber. I’m wondering whether I might take it back (Bunnings) and buy the cork sheeting that’s the normal underlay. The rubber was $69.95 for the roll, so it’s not cheap. I don’t know what cork would cost. A mix of both would probably be appropriate.

I’ve got one loco on order from a Gold Coast shop and I think it’s talking longer for the order to come by Australia Post from Brisbane than the order from the UK took to arrive!. That lonely loco will allow me to test things. But before I can do that, I have to spend another $800 approx. on a power supply and controller. Ouch. I’ll buy these locally from that Naval Base shop I mentioned as they are quite heavy items.

So I’m on the way. No going back now. But I’m still working on the design on the computer. I’ve realised I’d better build it in two halves that can be operated independently, as, in my typical style, I’ve designed a very large layout, probably too big at the start. I’ll begin with one half of it.

Lucky there’s no woman telling me what I can and can’t do with my lounge area!


I mentioned being very sensitive. A couple of days ago I met up with a local retired couple I know at the big shopping centre. They were sitting at a cafe so I sat down for a chat. The guy asked if I would like a coffee. I hesitated, but said OK and pulled out my wallet to give hime some, money, but he said no, his buy.

I assumed they were ordering for themselves, but my cup arrived and that was all. After a few minutes, they said they had to go. So I was left drinking my coffee on my own when I didn’t really want coffee – I hadn’t eaten yet.

I was embarrassed by this. Yes, it was generous of the guy to buy me a coffee, but I think he should have thought ahead and said, “We have to go in a minute but I’ll buy you a coffee if you’d like one.” Small thing, but …

Not so small was the occasion many years ago when I offered my two brothers their choice of a framed print of any of my photos. By any standard, I think many of my images are pretty damned good and they seemed to have nice things to say occasionally. so I thought this offer was OK.

But both of them just said, “No thanks.”

Bloody hell!!!!! I didn’t show my feelings but I was hurt and embarrassed. I was offering a framed print, free and gratis. What would it have hurt to accept my offer, even if they didn’t intend to put it up on a wall? I was angry and I still feel the hurt. It told me that their weak praise had been insincere, that they really didn’t care for my photography. Thanks a lot.

Other examples: one Christmas, I received a gift of one place mat. Not a set, just one cloth place mat, of a completely boring design. What??!!

Then there was the gift, another Christmas, of a DVD of a couple of episodes of Little Britain. But not a boxed set that you buy in the shops, it was a bare DVD of the programs recorded off the air with the title scrawled on the front in felt tipped pen. No box, just a plastic sleeve. Cost? About 50c and an hour of time. Gee, don’t got to any trouble, will you?

Another Xmas, as I always do, trying to make things easy for people to buy for me, I asked for wooden coat hangers. I specifically said I was sick of the cheap bendy plastic ones, and would like a few higher quality wooden ones.

What did I get? A set of 10 K-Mart plastic ones. The direct thing I said I didn’t want. Yeah, don’t put yourself to any trouble, will you?

As all the Christmases went by, when we exchanged Xmas gift lists of suggestions, I gave up suggesting things I really wanted and only suggested things I knew were easy to get. I learnt over many years that I was wasting my time asking for anything that couldn’t be found at the local shopping mall. Or anything that required any efort. I knew I’d never get it. Too much trouble.

By contrast, I went out of my way to buy gifts of as much variety and quality as I could find. I would buy things during the year if I came across something exotic or particularly beautiful or interesting. I would travel fairly far afield. But it was never reciprocated.

In recent years I’ve been trying to do what Dad used to do, give gifts that I’ve made myself. To me, they mean more than shop bought items. So about a year ago I gave a group of friends copies of the Scotland DVD (made to a professional standard, showing vision of the school friend in Scotland they all used to know), and a Blu-Ray copy of my short Venice/Vivaldi disc. Again professionally made with full printed label and fully printed slip-case.

Not one of the five has ever said thanks, or given any feedback on whether they’ve watched them or liked them. Except for one. A few weeks later, she handed them back to me and said, “I’ve watched the Scotland one thanks, but I’ve seen it now, and I won’t need it again You can have it back. And this one (she meant the Blu-Ray), I can’t play it and I can’t see myself ever being able to, so you may as well have it back.”

Bloody hell!!!!!!!!  I was hurt and angry. These were GIFTS! This is not the first time I’ve had gifts ignored or handed back to me, not wanted. I didn’t show my feelings, of course, but I’m hurt by things like this and I can’t forget.

These are just a few of the hundreds of stories I have to tell. I think I’m allergic to people.