Ah, summer

143-solar-power-for-homeThank goodness for a bit of warm sun at last. It is a month into spring, after all, but the weather bureau says we had three days over 30C this month, the first time on record that we’ve had three 30C+ days in September, ever. This is global warming in action. I wouldn’t mind betting we’re in for another “driest winter”, or “driest year” on record, too.

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I’ve never considered solar power up to now because I didn’t feel my power bills were very high. But the situation has changed. The government has increased electricity prices so much that I’m paying about $250 per 60 days billing period now. That’s about double what I was paying 4-5 years ago. (I can easily verify this – I keep records.) That’s about $1,500 per year.

The cost of solar panels has fallen to the point where you can buy a 5KW system for about $5,000 now. If you could run off solar power alone, that means the system would pay for itself in a bit over three years, and less time if you got paid for the excess power you could feed back into the system.

Additionally, the cost of battery storage to iron out the times “when the sun don’t shine” is now also dropping. That means total independence from the mains power supply.

I doubt I’ll do anything for a few more years, but everything I read suggests that it may be the sensible thing to do, especially in Perth. We’re being affected by global warming and rising temperatures, as I say, but that means we’re ideally placed to take advantage of free power from all that sun. We have more hours of sunshine than most places in the world.

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My run of bad luck continues. I bought a small laptop 12V 5A power supply to run a Betacam broadcast VCR. It cost $65. Yesterday I put the necessary connector on it and connected it to the Betacam machine, which was switched off.

As I plugged the power connector on I heard a very small click, like a static spark. The Betacam VCR was not connected to anything at all so I didn’t think much of it.

But there was no life when I switched it on. I unplugged and checked for volts from the power supply – nothing. I had checked the volts before I plugged it in, but now it was dead. Damn! Power supplies like these are usually overload protected.

The problem is, this power supply is a sealed “brick”. You can’t open it up. There’s no way in without using a small saw. Even if I did succeed in opening the case, I reckon I’d find a black plastic solid “brick” inside. They don’t make these things to be serviced. Return it as faulty? I can’t, because I’ve cut the original plug off and soldered a new connector on.

So it looks as if it’s $65 down the drain. I’ll have a  go at cutting it open, but I don’t hold much hope. I think I’ll have to build one to my own conventional design, so that I can troubleshoot it if I have to.

I haven’t heard a word from the Sydney hi fi shop who have my Yamaha DAB+ tuner that I had to return as faulty. It’s been about 10 days so far. That’s a $425 dead weight that I’m still waiting on. I’m jinxed.

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My quarterly blood test were back last week, and once again I’ve aced it. Liver, kidneys, cholesterol, blood pressure, all good. No sign of any flare up of the CLL. My HbA1C is 8.2, when the recommended range is 4-6, but it’s not dangerously high. I’m seeing the diabetic nurse on Tuesday for advice on medication adjustments. Still very tired.

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I’ve been toying with travel ideas in the past week or two. One idea is a round world air ticket, business class for between $4,000 to $6,999. It seemed attractive at first, but then I thought about being in the USA and having some kind of health problem. We just can’t afford to get caught up in the US health system, I’m afraid. I’m not 100% healthy. If I were 20 years younger, fine, but I could have a diabetic or heart problem at some time while travelling. Too dangerous in the USA.

Plus, it’s just too dangerous a country, I feel. I wish I could go there, but no, too risky.

That takes me back to a cruise I’ve seen advertised, leaving in a year’s time – in late September 2016 from Southampton in the UK. It goes through the Med with a couple of stops, then through the Suez Canal, round into the Persian Gulf to Dubai, then via Cochin in India (southern tip, west side), across to Thailand (Phuket), the Malacca Straits to Penang, KL, Singapore, Bali, Fremantle (duck home to drop off the souvenirs and have a decent shower!), then Margaret River, Albany and on to Melbourne and Sydney. Duration 46 nights for $6,999. That’s more realistic. All accommodation and meals included, so a lot cheaper than an all-air trip.  I’d fly to the UK beforehand and do some driving (or going by train) to see Croft Castle in Herefordshire, then catch the ship on 28 September next year.

I know I said I’d never do a cruise again, but maybe …

At first I thought I’d disembark at Fremantle, but if I went through to Sydney, maybe I could buy my dream car there and do that driving thing back to Perth. That would really round off the trip. Hmmm.

NEXT DAY: Nah. This won’t work. That fare is for twin share. The single price is double that, $14,000. This is bloody outrageous. Sure, I occupy a whole cabin, but I don’t eat twice the food, I don’t use twice the water or other consumables. Unfortunately, the chances of finding a travel companion are low to zero. Also, this is for an interior, windowless cabin. For the 7 day trip on the Arcadia last year, it was OK, but I don’t think 7 weeks would be so easy.

If I wanted to spend $14,000, I could travel business class air and stay in luxury hotels on the same route, for much less. On top of the ship fare, you have to pay around $250 for each day tour in each port if you want to go ashore. That adds thousands more to the fare. Nah!

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Speaking of driving, yesterday I was doing my 80Km/h on Marmion Avenue (two lanes plus bicycle lane) when a small motor bike roared up behind me. But instead of passing me in the right lane, he pulled left into the bicycle lane and passed me on the inside. P-plate rider, of course. He continued on in the bicycle lane for as far as I could see. Bloody fool.

A few days before that, again on Marmion Ave at 80Km/h, a dirt bike roared past on my left, but not in the bicycle lane, on the footpath! He was doing at least 100Km/h in places, but because he had to slow right down at intersections, I could watch him for 5 mins or so and he continued on the footpath all this time.

I read that there is a high death toll on motorbike riders in Perth. Good. I have no sympathy whatever. They refuse to obey the rules, so if they die or get maimed, too bloody bad. Each death is one less to worry about.

Callous? I obey the rules.

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