Bali Hi!

Puri Dalem nite pool B78

© PJ Croft 1986, 2015 This was 1986. I may stay in this hotel again. From their web photos it doesn’t seem to have changed much.

I’ve decided I’ll skedaddle to that northern island this Xmas and New Year. It’s hard to believe it was 2010 that I last did this. I’ve been back once, last year on the way back from China and Hanoi, but I was so crook with a chest infection/pneumonia that I hardly left the room. Five days of sleeping, going out only for meals. What a waste.

It’s been five very, very tough years since the 2010 Xmas escape. I feel utterly betrayed. I can’t forgive. For forgiveness, there needs to be some sign of understanding of the mistakes that were made and some sign of remorse. There’s nothing.

Anyway, for once I feel confident enough of my legs to go to the tropics. I’ve been pretty well ulceration free this year, thanks to Dermeze. My skin on my legs seems to have built up a layer of suppleness such that it doesn’t break as easily.

I’m going for 25 days, mainly because air fares almost double in “the season”, along with a lot of hotel rates, so I’m going up mid December and coming back a week into the new year when the air fares are reasonable. I’m going Garuda this time. It’s full service, with a meal and in-flight entertainment (not that I care much about that) but most importantly, it’s a twin aisle A330 with full seat pitch. I’m sick of the cramped cattle carriers of the cheapies, and when you add baggage charges and booking fees, and the cost of food, it’s not much different to Garuda’s fare. Besides, the baggage allowance is 30Kg on Garuda. That matters to me, with my CPAP machine and tripod and all the electronics I carry. Plus, I want to be able to buy something while I’m up there and bring it back without having to worry about weight.

I’m staying in four different hotels this time, a few days in Sanur, then moving to two different hotels in Kuta for a couple of weeks for a change. Not sure about this – I should try to “get outa town” a bit. I’ve booked, but I can cancel without penalty. Still deciding.

Beach crem float 41A

© PJ Croft 1986, 2015. A Kuta beach cremation float. I took this shot from a crowd of tourists. Pretty well isolated from spurious tourists, eh?

It’s hard to decide between traditional Balinese accommodation, with rooms that are pretty old and well worn, and the newer hotels that are not exactly trad. But you get lifts, and balconies, and a generally higher standard. I dunno.

Both Kuta hotels are close enough to the shops and malls that I can walk there, and where I can browse and fossick to my heart’s content. I’m a bit of a shopper, I admit. I love finding interesting things. None of my hotels is on the beach front. I find I can’t walk in the sand or swim in the ocean any more – too unsteady on my legs. I’m OK in a pool, so the beach doesn’t matter as much.

I’m also deliberately choosing the wet season. I love the rain and thunder and lightning. It’s cooler, too. Yum.

For once I’ve made up my mind and booked two months out, with plenty of time to arrange things, or rearrange things if I have to. Aaaaah.

Bali smoke paddy sun W185b

© PJ Croft 1983, 2015. It’s hard to believe, but this was shot just outside Kuta, about where Sunset Road is now. It was all paddies then, but they’re long gone. This was also a time of the forest fire season in Borneo. The air was very smokey, but it made for nice photography.

___________________________

The Garuda flight leaves at 8am. Bloody hell, that means I’ll have to be at the airport by 6am, which means I’ll need to leave here by 4.30-5.00am. In any normal city it wouldn’t be a problem but in Perth, it’s a big problem. I simply can’t rely on a taxi coming up here, especially at that time of the morning.

So I’ll try one of the FIFO transport vans, I think. Sunday? Dunno. Train and bus? Not in Perth, not from here, not that early, forget it.

My great friend Baz says he’ll collect me on return, even at 11 o’clock at night. I didn’t ask him he just volunteered. He’s a good friend. When he helps me, he really helps me.

__________________________

I was pretty annoyed yesterday. I was sitting on one of the seats at the shopping centre and a black African guy touched my elbow. He was holding out his hand with a 20c coin on it. He pointed to it and said, “Coin?”, meaning, could I give him a coin. I rolled my yes a bit but gave him 50c.

The bastard turned his nose up at it! “Fifty cents?”, he said. “Coin. Gold coin.” What, a dollar? “Yes yes, a dollar.”

No, no, no. I told him no and got up and left. Bloody hell. Begging is bad enough, but to object to how much is donated turns me off. This is wrong.

__________________________

Worried by traffic? Worry about this, then:

CQ1XXQAVAAEkJeC.jpg largeCQpcbKUUYAEAt_o.jpg largeIt’s China, outside Beijing as the crowds return after a holiday weekend. Roughly 40 lanes narrow down to about 15 toll gates, then once through, you have to funnel down to about six lanes for the freeway. Aaaarrrrgh. We think we’ve got traffic?

Advertisements

And still they come

KL Rlwy station AA

Kuala Lumpur Railway Station © PJ Croft 1986, 2015   See those four ladies near the central pillar, two in black and the red and blue on the right? They were travelling together and they were giving me the eye on the train. They saw me taking the picture and posed for me. Typical me, too slow on the uptake. I could have …

Another of those amazing coincidences.

On Monday I was talking to the bank guy and his surname was Lacey, L-A-C-E-Y. I reflexively said, “As in Cagney and Lacey, eh?” He didn’t answer, possibly because he was too young to know what I was talking about.

Yesterday in the book I’m reading at the moment, Notes From A Small Island by Bill Bryson, he gets back to his hotel room and the first thing he sees on TV is … Cagney and Lacey!

I was so surprised I let out an exclamation. Like, “Bloody hell.” I think it’s worm holes.

_____________________________

The hardest thing is getting started. I went for a walk yesterday.

_____________________________

Speaking of TV shows and worm holes, I like The Big Bang Theory. Bit addicted, actually. How strange that although it’s been on Channel 9 for years, suddenly Channel 7 is showing it as well. At the same time slot, too, so I have to record it.

Actually, I record everything these days in order to avoid the infestation, the disease, the plague of promos. Commercials I can tolerate because they’re often humorous and very well made, but the promos are just an onslaught of flashing scenes, so fast that you barely see the shots.

But worse than that is the repetition! Over and over again, the same promos. Who’s the worst? SBS! Not content with one at the beginning and end of commercial breaks, they have two at the beginning and three at the end. And they’re the same promos, over and over. I can’t stand it.

So now I record everything and fast forward through this crap. It’s counterproductive for the station – they’ve turned me off. I simply won’t watch their commercial breaks. Bye.

________________________________

I had a visit yesterday from a young lady at my door with a clip board talking about heart disease research. Obviously, it’s relevant to me, so I invited her in. I thought I was going to be asked to make a donation, which I am prepared to do.

But it turned out that she wanted a weekly or monthly repeating subscription. She wanted me to sign up for a minimum of $35 per month or more.

Bloody hell. I said no. I said I’m on the pension and I’ll make a donation, but I’m not going to sign an open ended commitment like that. I’m already on a medication that costs $130 per month and another one is recommended, but it’s $60 per month, non-PBS. Phone and internet are around $90 per month. Electricity about $125 per month. Car licence and insurance about $100 per month. HBF about $150 per month. Etc etc.

Talk about counterproductive. I was willing to help, but they get nothing out of me after this. I’m not poor but you have to watch the pennies.

_____________________________

I asked the Sydney hi-fi shop what’s happened about my faulty Yamaha tuner? It’s been three weeks since I returned it to them, and a month since I sent the faulty remote control back, but I’d heard nothing from them.

The result is that they’ve refunded my money. They’re not going to send a replacement. They suggest I buy from a shop in Perth. They hadn’t said anything, so I wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t enquired.

Pretty poor effort from Yamaha. Quality control seems to be severely lacking.

It’s such a good combination of features that I think I’ll try a third sample, if I can find one in Perth. (Postscript: yes, available here but the price at West Coast HiFi is $100 more! $529 versus $429. Come on guys, get real.)

A different car?

First, another nice pic, spoilt by the tilted water:

Perth tiltAnd now it’s fixed:

Perth untiltSuch a nice picture (it’s Perth). Why do they let it out into the publishing sphere with tilted water? The tilt is 0.8deg and took about 1min to fix.

______________________________________

I’m still too nervous to make the commitment to buy a 9 year old Mercedes – too worried about high repair costs, not to mention insurance costs of $135 per month!

A new contender has made me rethink:

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

What is it? It’s a Skoda! If you’d told me 10 years ago that a Skoda might be a nice car to own, I’d have laughed. This is the Skoda Superb 2015 model, unfortunately not available here until April next year.

My criteria for a car are timeless, elegant styling, quietness and smoothness, and finally good design and fitout. This has made me sit up and look.

It’s not a 2 door coupe but it’s very elegant, to my eyes. The rear leg room is exceptional, apparently, not that that matters to me. But the boot is exceptionally clever. It’s a sedan, right, with a rear window and a boot? But if you squeeze a handle when you open the boot, the entire boot lid and rear window lock together and lift as one piece like a hatchback. Clever.

The boot, with the rear seats folded down is cavernous, as shown. I could sleep in that.

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

This solves the quandary I was in: when I had dogs, I had to have a station wagon. Now that I don’t have a dog any more, I was going to buy a sedan, but if I ever got a dog again, what would I do? Well, here’s the answer – it’s both a sedan and a station wagon when you need it. Clever.

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

And you don’t miss out on the Mercedes levels of luxury:

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

That’s real leather upholstery and trim. There’s even wood grain in one level of trim. And you can get other colours besides black or silver. Hallelujah.

It only comes with four-cylinder engine choices, but the top petrol engine is a 2.0 litre turbo that puts out 160KW or so and does 0-100Kmh in 6.6 secs. That’s plenty enough for me. Price? Around $50,000 when it gets here, about the same as that hail damaged Merc SL350 I was considering. I’d have to wait until April next year, but that’s OK. And I’d have the benefits of a new car with all the modern reliability, long warranty, long service intervals, modern electronic gadgets and fuel economy of 6.2L/100Km, about half the Merc and half what I use now. Hmmm. A bloody Skoda! Who’d have thought?

PS: Skoda is part of the Volkswagen Group and one model of Skoda is affected by the scandal over deceptive diesel engines. But it’s only diesels. (So far, anyway.) I would only buy a petrol engined car.

_______________________________

Aaah, I miss my dogs!!!!! Really, really miss them. I think all the time about getting another one.

BUT. As soon as I do, I make myself a virtual prisoner. I’m thinking seriously of going to Bali over Xmas and New Year and I can just make a quick decision and go, no need to arrange anything here. But if I had a dog, I really couldn’t, not easily.

As well, I also remember the years of house training, the chewing of furniture, alarm clocks and hard drives (yes really), stained and dirty carpets, dog hairs everywhere through the house, dog poo all over the lawn, vet visits and fees, barking and misbehaviour, fights with other dogs, fear of upsetting people on the ovals, worrying about neighbour complaints or council rangers, escapes and the ensuing embarrassments, food costs, car damage … the list goes on.

But I also remember the incredible affection, the great welcomes home, the chin on knee and the loving eyes looking up at me, the big smiles, the jigging for joy when it was food time, the snuggling into my back on the bed when I was asleep in the afternoon, the tiny, tiny tip of her nose on my hand in the morning to see if I was awake, the joy of chasing the ball, the rubbing against my leg for a pat … Jeez, I miss it.

Maybe if I become really house bound I’ll reconsider.

_______________________________

That reference to the chewed alarm clock, above: I used to have a small plastic travel alarm clock that was the most accurate clock I have ever seen. It varied by no more than 1 second per year! That’s one part in 31,536,000.

But Boopsie must have found it on the floor when she was a puppy and that was almost the end of it. I was upset.

The hard drive? I was looking after friends’ Staffy Terrier for several weeks in 2007 and he found a portable hard drive on a window ledge. When I found it later, the outer rubber covering had been chewed off and the metal inner casing was looking more than a bit bent. But amazingly, it still worked. I still have it, dents, teeth marks and all.

That Staffy also pissed on my $3,000 speakers, shat on my white lounge room carpet and escaped so many times, taking Minnie with him, that I was driven to distraction. I had to fortify the front gate.

But did I complain to the owners? I did not. I said I enjoyed looking after him and never mentioned the damage. I don’t do that – I keep quiet about the bad things. Not like some people.

Another crazy coincidence

6804300-3x2-940x627

Nice picture!

I’ve spoken of coincidences before, but I had a doozy on Saturday night.

One of the movies on TV was Hotel Rwanda, and one of the stars in that is Don Cheadle. I’ve seen that movie before and didn’t want to watch it again. Instead, desperate for something to watch, I went back through the programs saved up on my hard disk recorder. One that I recorded more than two years ago is The Guard, a comedy about an Irish poloiceman (hah! I just accidentally misspelled that word, but I think I’ll leave it with its forrtuitous Irish accent. Hah! There’s another one, an Irish burr.)

But I digress. I picked this movie quite at random. Who’s the star? Don Cheadle!  Maybe I had a deep unconscious memory that he was in it and was reminded by the Hotel Rwanda. I don’t know.

______________________________

Another tilted picture:

3872And the corrected version:

3872untiltIsn’t that better? A full 2.8 degrees. Why do they not fix it before release?

____________________________________

Abraj-al-bait Towers MeccaAn example of Saudi Arabia’s good taste. This is Mecca. This is a city where we infidels, we Western unbelievers are not allowed to go. We would be arrested and held without charge or trial. A fine example of Muslim tolerance.

Muslims can’t be trusted.

They can protest all they like, but we can never relax. We can never be sure some Muslim won’t pull out a gun or knife and kill us in the name of Allah. It’s been proven time and time again.

_____________________________

Interesting map:

1-Q38Gk9GYlbvHyibX4IwqiwThe coloured lines are their High Speed Rail lines, capable of 200Km/h and above. Wow. I went on one short run from Shanghai to the airport, but here we have the entire country connected by these high speed trains. The context is that China has the capacity to very quickly move troops anywhere in the country in a matter of hours. The article said China has borders with 14 other countries.

Interesting that they show Taiwan in this map, and with a blue line, capable of 300Km/h or above. Meanwhile, we can’t make a decision on anything, not even light rail in Perth. Hopeless.

____________________________________

Speaking of motorbike riders, as I was last week: a few days ago I was coming home on Marmion Ave, on the section where it narrows down to a single lane in each direction. There’s a 2m wide cycle path on the left, but no gap on the right next to the grassed median strip.

There’s no gap, but that didn’t stop a motorbike rider from trying to push his way through the stopped line of traffic on the right in this narrow gap between cars and the median strip! Amazingly, cars were edging left to let him do it. Luckily he got stopped a few cars behind me. I would have considered edging right or opening my door to check my tyres if he’d reached me. We were stopped, after all.

__________________________________

Last week I also lamented having blown up that laptop power brick that I’d rewired to run a Betacam SP recorder … Well, my face is red.

I had another look a few nights ago (just before I went to bed – doesn’t everyone do electronic repairs just before bed?) This time I noticed that the mains AC power plug was a little loose on the socket. I pushed it in and bingo – I had +12V again.

On Saturday I tentatively plugged it into the recorder and with fingers crossed, switched on. Hey hey, lights on, whirring noise and all good. Exercised the mechanism a little, then put a cassette in and it threaded up. Hit PLAY, and it played.

P1010191

Is this clutter, or what? That’s the Betacam SP machine on top of the computer. That recorder would be over 30 years old by now!

That’s where the good news ends. I have a monochrome (black and white) picture but the chroma is all messed up. I’m guessing it’s an adjustment, but which one, I don’t know without the manual. I phoned a Channel 7 mate but he confirms that all the manuals were thrown out in the dumper bins when they moved to Osborne Park earlier this year. So I’ll have to search on the web for a manual.

STOP PRESS: manuals found easily on the web today. One for the BVW35P shown above — AU$7.36 for the PDF download. I also bought the two volumes for the PVW2650 rack mounting player also at AU$7.36 each. Done.

_____________________________

Interestingly, my mate says that they do absolutely no fault fixing in Perth now, not even module swapping to isolate a problem. If something goes faulty, the management rule is that the entire piece of equipment, e.g. a studio camera, goes back to Sydney, to Sony or Bosch or Quantel or whoever the manufacturer is.All servicing is to be done in Sydney.

That means that no-one in Perth is getting any experience on the equipment any more. Some guys have had training in the past, but they’re the older guys nearing retirement (the last real training was 20-30 years ago!). There are only about six guys left in Engineering at Ch 7 Perth, and about three of them are nearing retirement. My mate is 63.

That’s Aussie management – don’t invest in people, cut costs in any way you can, so that the top guy gets his bonuses. Even at the risk of future problems, don’t plan that far ahead. Thank goodness I’m out.