Should I, or not?

Astor cruise

Hmmm. Another opportunity has popped up. I said I’d never cruise again, but … this one is very tempting.

It’s on the Astor, a relatively small ship of 800 passengers, instead of the 2,500 passenger cattle ships I was on in 2014. Everyone I’ve spoken to who’s been on the Astor sings its praises.

As you can see, it’s a pretty extensive trip over 35 nights, five weeks. The Fremantle to Singapore leg alone (Singapore is the first stop) is five days, and Bali to Fremantle would be three days, so you wouldn’t get long in each port. (The stops are the yellow drawing pins on the map.)

Hong Kong would be a non-event for me. I have no desire to go ashore, it was just too strenuous last time. Entering and leaving the harbour was good, though. I’d enjoy that again.

Ha Long Bay would be an opportunity that I couldn’t take last trip. I probably wouldn’t go ashore, but at least I’d see it. Same for Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). I’ve lost a lot of weight since 2014, around 12Kg, and I feel I could cope now with buses and whatnot.

The final stop is Bali, and it has occurred to me, why not end my cruise there and stay on? Look at some leasehold villas. No set schedule – find somewhere cheap to stay and just come back later. Hmmm.

The thing is, the ship leaves NEXT WEEK, tomorrow week, Wednesday 3 February. Wow, I have to make a quick decision. I suppose it will depend on the price. “From $3,459” is the advertised price. I only saw this on the weekend; today’s a public holiday; looks like tomorrow’s going to be a busy day.

PS: I’ve just realised – two small problems. First, where’s my passport? I haven’t seen it since I’ve been home from Bali.

Second, visa for Vietnam. It takes a week to get one. There’s no time to do it. No, it’s OK, they have Visa on Arrival, I’m pretty sure. Should be OK.


Sanur sunrise © PJ Croft 2016


I’ve blown my stack again at a ‘friend’. I put that in inverted commas because he’s a friend who’s a taker, not a giver.

What do I mean? He’s a guy I used to work with at Channel 7 when I first started there, a tech. He left about 1971 to go to the ABC and we lost contact for many years, reconnecting through photography in the 1990s. We’ve got a mutual photography mate who’s a real nice guy and we meet regularly for brekky at a Trigg cafe.

I say ‘regularly’, but the trouble is we always have to fit with his, the idiot’s, schedule. He can only meet on Tuesdays, except when he can’t. He’s constantly dangling the other mate and me on his string. We have to fit his schedule. We’re supposed to meet every second Tuesday (his day), but our last two brekkies were three months apart. (Admittedly I was away for a month in Bali, but so was he away at the same time.)

Every second Tuesday. That’s today, but no, he’s tied up. Tomorrow then? No, busy. “I can do next week mateys how’z that ?” Nothing specific.

When he tried to push me to see the latest Tarantino gore-fest US violence-porn movie, as he does, I lost my rag. You’re a dickhead, Kerry, a grade 1 dickhead. He assures me that he won’t read my blog, so I can say what I like about him.

I’ve got to escape these dickheads! And I’m the one who has a reputation as being hard to get along with. Yeah.


I’ve had the movie Fifty Shades of Grey (supposedly, the saucy version) on my shelf for about six months and I finally got around to watching it last night.

It wasn’t boring. It was well made and watchable, but I can’t see what all the fuss was about. Sure, you see a bit of fucking and she gets naked, but you don’t see much. The whipping scenes are very short and not excessive (I nearly said restrained).

The main interest was seeing the lifestyle of a rich man in the US. Nice apartment! Nice cars! Audi must have won the bidding war.

I’d rate it 5/10.

Not so Steve Jobs, the movie. Bloody hell, if you want endless smart alec dialogue spouting forth at you until you feel like begging them to stop, be my guest. There’s just no let up in the back and forth spite and nastiness. There’s virtually no action. It all takes place in auditoriums. I got sick of it. I finished it, but I don’t know how. Rated 3/10. I’ll toss it into the bin.


I see the Mazda MX-5 won Wheels’ Car of the Year. They sing its praises to the heavens.


Price brand new: $34,550 to $41,500 depending on … ? Soft top only.

On the other hand,

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It’s a 2004 Mercedes CLK convertible. It’s very rare to see a white Merc and I like it, even though I don’t like soft tops. And it’s a 5.5L V8 AMG! Yow, I want. Price? About the same as the Mazda, $42,950 (asking price). I know which I’d rather have. If only it wasn’t for Mercedes’ fearsome reputation for breaking and costing.


I found a photo of mine the other day of my Sony VAIO laptop, taken in July 2008. That means I’ve had it 7½ years. That’s pretty damn good going. For a computer to last that long and still be viable (vaioable?) it must be good. I take it on all my overseas trips. Can’t do without it.

It’s a dual core processor, but nothing like the multi-core ones of today. It has 6GB of on-board RAM and I swapped in a 128GB SSD in about 2012 which did wonders for its boot time. It’s running Windows 10 now and does it OK, but very annoyingly, the graphics resolution used to be 1920 x 1080 (it has a Full HD Blu Ray recorder/player drive built in), but with Win10, the native resolution has dropped to 1600 x 800 or similar and I can’t find any way to get it back up again. So the Blu Ray drive will play Full HD movies, but they can’t display at Full HD due to Win 10’s limitations.

Which is a long winded way of saying it may be time to buy a new laptop. This one is carbon fibre cased, but it’s been dropped heavily (I slipped in a mud puddle in Jalan Cemara in March 2010 and went down hard, me and the laptop. Ugh.)

I think it’ll be either a Dell Inspiron or an HP Desire, both ultra-thin, with extremely high res displays, Core i7 processor, 8GB RAM. My existing one cost $3,500 in 2008. These new ones cost about $2,500. Such is progress. Not yet, plenty of time.

Verdict on Win 10? It seems stable, although I had a case where I had to do a cold reboot once, i.e. press the reset button as it was locked solid. Sometimes it goes off to fairy land when it boots but comes good with another try. Advantages? I can’t see any. The graphics ‘flat’ look is terrible. I preferred Win 7. Oh well.

I still can’t get Win 10 to install on this desktop PC. It fails every time with an unspecified error. I’ve got onto the forums and a Microsoft guy has answered me with dumb questions that I thought I’d already answered in my posting. But when I follow his advice steps and try to reply, the server rejects my reply every time! And when I look at what I’m sending in the email, it’s full of Chinese characters! What? I’ve been working on this for a week so far and getting more and more frustrated. The problem is, each attempt to download and install the Win10 takes about four hours and uses 4GB of my download quota of 20GB a month. Then it fails. Grrrrr.


STOP SAYING ICONIC!!!!! Lazy, lazy journalists and radio and TV announcers. This has to be the worst cliche word of all time. I’ve developed the habit of noting the first time each day when I hear someone say iconic, and it’s getting earlier and earlier, often 5.30am or earlier.

For Dog’s sake, STOP SAYING ICONIC! Y’know, like, stop it, y’know? Like, y’know, it’s like lazy, y’know.

Y’know is the second worst cliche. There are people every day on the radio who cannot go ten words without saying y’know. Many times it gets shortened even further to ‘no. Sports commentators are the worst. Sports people seemingly cannot form any sentence without saying y’know. I’m sick of it. Sometimes I have to switch away. It’s not just in Australia, even BBC and British broadcasters are saying it. It’s a pandemic, an epidemic, a pestilence, an infection. Ugh ugh ugh.


I comment a fair bit on The Guardian web site and today I racked up a new record, 104 ‘likes’ for one of my comments.

A guy had commented that you can’t be 99.9% sure of anything to do with climate change, despite it being a scientist’s article. I commented:

Denialists never give up. If you could spell, capitalise and punctuate I might take you more seriously. But, nah ….

That got 104 thumbs up. That was gratifying.


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