A lonely house

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Lunch at Augusta. I look worried, but I assure you I’m very happy.

I’m back to being alone in my house, and it seems so quiet and a bit lonely. What a change in my life! I never expected to feel like this. I just want to get back together as soon as I can. I’ll be going to Bali in the next two weeks and I’m happy to see that Air Asia fares are very low, $182 return! at the moment. There’s gotta be a catch.

I’ll try to arrange a Social visa for 60 days this time, but I need an Indonesian sponsor. Yudhie, where are you? I need you. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. 🙂

The villa near Lovina has been arranged by my love, available to October at least. Sounds good, all on one level, few steps, it has a pool and is within sight of the sea. Lovely.

We’re also booked into a hotel in Ubud in October for the Ubud Writers’ Festival. Wow. I would never have done that if I’d been on my own. I look forward to it. That’s thinking ahead.

Hmmm, I’ll have to arrange a postal vote for the coming federal election, too, if it’s ever announced. It seems to be set for 2 July, but Mr Turncoat seems to be dangling us all on a string. Bah!

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My grazed knees and right elbow are healing with the assistance of an antibiotic cream prescribed by the doctor for a different small wound. She doesn’t know about my two falls yet. I need these wounds healed before I go to Bali, if possible, because I don’t want to risk picking up bugs up there.

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Here’s an unusual beer I found yesterday. Ferran Adria is/was the head chef at the El Bulli restaurant in Spain, voted the best in the world at least twice. He’s closed it and moved on to beer brewing, by the look of it. The price was $22 for a 6 pack, not too expensive.

I’ve had one and it was nice, but my sense of taste is not so good, being affected by my cold and the cough lozenges I’ve been sucking. I’ll reserve judgement for another day.

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The taste of drinks was also a bone of contention last week. We were walking in Fremantle and stopped for a glass of wine on the cappucino strip, as the call it. I ordered a riesling as usual, as I want a very dry white.

Well, as soon as I tasted my $8.50 glass, I screwed up my face and almost spat it back. Sweet! Far too sweet. I couldn’t drink it. We protested and the barman showed us the bottle, clearly marked Frankland River riesling, so he wasn’t too keen to change it. We compromised with a glass of my love’s rosé, which was nice.

Last night I bought two bottles of riesling, and the first one I tried, Two Churches, was very nicely dry, not sweet at all, just as I expect riesling to be. So what’s going on? Is there no standard for riesling? How can we know what we’re getting if there’s such a wide variance in sweet/dry tastes? I guess I’d beter stick to chardy in bars in future.

However, what a nice change in the laws in this state, that we can buy a glass of wine on a weekday afternoon and sit out at a table on the pavement, with no requirement to buy food with it. How civilised, at last.

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What a change in the weather! Monday, 25 April, Anzac Day, marked the switch from summer to winter. For the two weeks that my love was here, we had balmy 25-29C days, warm enough to sit outside for meals, even at night. Now, I had to put the quilt back on the bed. Brrrr. Winter’s here.

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Here’s a strange visitor. It was on my lampshade next to my bed. At first I thought it was a mosquito, going by the legs, but I think it’s some kind of moth. The antennae seem to be folded back against the body, and what a strange upturned body. This is a Sony phone camera picture, by the way, cropped and enhanced, of course.

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Hallelujah, something’s changed in the DAB+ digital radio signal strength in this area. Some months ago the fading (low signal strength) was so bad that just shifting my position in my bed was enough to make my bedside radio fade out.

But now it’s not fading at all, and I can even bring the radio into the bathroom, whereas reception was impossible in there before. Something’s changed. I hope it stays this way.

However! TV signals in this area are distributed by underground cables from a central antenna, somewhere, I know not where. This is so that the area is not disfigured by masses of TV antennae on the houses. Great idea.

The problem is that reception on some channels is very intermittent. Guess which channels – yes, the ABC, the main channels I want. I haven’t been able to see any programs on ABC1 or ABC2 for several days. I’ll have to phone Wanneroo council to find out what I can do about it. Grrrr.

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No news is good news

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Sorry for the silence. I’ve been extremely busy, and enjoying every minute of it. Well, almost every minute 😉

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OK, now I have time to write. Phew! The past two weeks have been the most enjoyable, but also some of the busiest of my life. I’ve had a guest, and I couldn’t have wished for a more welcome guest. We did everything together, and I mean everything. Frankly, we are inseparable. That’s the way I want it.

My life has changed forever. I have a future now, still a bit hazy, but a definite aim, a path to follow, a plan. It wasn’t this way before March 13th this year, that’s for sure. That’s when I got onto the Kura Kura bus in Kuta, (see https://bullsroar.wordpress.com/2016/03/31/last-day/ ), started talking with the woman in the seat in front of me, and we haven’t stopped since. It’s been both a shock and a wonderful surprise for both of us. We were lost, and now we are found. Goodness gwacious, I’m even quoting scriptures. We’re both seniors, pensioners, and thought we were past it, but we are NOT!

How two people can be so compatible, so similar, so perfectly matched is nothing short of a miracle. We keep using that word, miracle, (I do, that’s for sure), but it feels to me as if the blokes up in the sky have said, “Oh, that guy PJ Croft, we’d forgotten about him. OK, he’s suffered enough, let’s give him a go.” And the doors opened, and the goodness suddenly showered down on me. At last, at last, at last, I’m not alone any more. I’d got used to the idea that it was never going to happen for me, but at last it has. Thank goodness. I know these feelings are reciprocated. For me, this is it. The idea of us ever parting is unthinkable. Those are words to tempt fate, I know, but I feel I have to say it.

We keep using the word “amazing”, because that’s what it is. We both had worries, we both had insecurities, we both had things we thought might prevent a relationship developing. But we have both found we needn’t have worried: we fit together like a horse and carriage, as the song says. Blimey, song titles keep coming up. We’re singing to each other. Everything we say seems to have a song title in it. There’s a song in my heart, it’s true. I’m thinking of writing a comedy sketch consisting of nothing else but song titles.  Can be done.

She’s gone back to Bali at the moment, sorting out where she’s going to live for the next few months, and I’ll follow as soon as I sort out a medical appointment or two. I have a pre-paid hotel in Sanur booked from mid-May, so I’ll be there for sure, and I’ll go up as soon as I can before that. After that, with my love beside me, we’ll go up to the north side, Lovina, and I’ll stay there for a few weeks. I’ll be trying for a social visa so that I can stay longer than the normal 30 day visa.

There’s a real plan that I didn’t have a few months ago. It’s all good. There’s more besides, into October.

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This past 13 days has almost been a blur. I know my house has met with approval. It really is a great house, let down by being so far “out of town”. It’s too far in the northern suburbs for friends to casually visit. I know this, and I’m not wedded to this house, so a move might be possible. I know what my love wants, and it’s fine with me. I’d welcome a change. I’d hoped not to have to move again, but it would be much easier this time, now that I’ve got rid of most of my “junk” from the last move. Yow! It wasn’t junk, but I had too many possessions. I miss a few of them, but not many.

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What did we do? First, on the Sunday of her arrival we had dinner at the Dome Cafe overlooking the lakes. It was a balmy warm evening so we sat outside, with some nice wine and good food. Yum, it was a good start.

Then on Monday it was a visit to the shops to get some local money, a few clothes and to find a couple of things V wanted, including a new camera. She’d used one of mine and liked it a lot, so that was it – decision made. She also bought a local SIM card and was in communication again. Crumbs, ATMs, smart phones, wi-fi, Facebook and internet …. they’ve become so important.

 

Then on the Wednesday it was lunch with a long time school friend and her husband. Big smiles all round, I can assure you. It turned out that this friend had actually been born in Austria, in a town V knows well, before emigrating here with her parents, so they had a common theme immediately.

The next few days are a blur, but my longest friends Geoff and Georgie came out here on the Saturday night and we dined out again. Another great night.

On Monday 18th, after an early appointment with my GP, we headed off down to Margaret River to stay with my friend Alan on his small farm. On the way, we stopped off at another school friend’s place, Jim and Linda’s at Bunbury. It was good to catch up – we don’t do it often enough. I hope I’ll become more sociable as a result of this new partnership. It’s more than a hope: I will. Life of the party, mate.

Next, after a pleasant drive, we reached Alan’s farm at about 3.30pm and, after the warm greetings, unpacking and talks, had dinner in the town. It was a nice day, but it rained that night, even so, very welcome rain.

Next day we planned a couple of things and I realised we didn’t have to go back to Perth as I’d thought, we could stay another day. Why not? There’s no-one to tell us what to do, no schedule we have to meet. As a result, Al drove us to Augusta for a lunch in a pub overlooking the estuary and ocean.

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Augusta WA  (C( Veronika 2016

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Augusta, WA (C) Veronika 2016

We saw a flock of pelicans wheeling majestically across the water. Magic.

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Karri forest, Caves Road, WA  (C) Veronika 2016

On the way we saw the magnificent grove of karri trees on Caves Road. These are like the columns of a cathedral, tall, slim and straight. It’s a striking site, well worth a visit.

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Hamelin Bay, WA    (C) PJ Croft 2016

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Hamelin Bay, WA    (C) Veronika 2016

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With Alan, Hamelin Bay    (C) Veronika 2016

We also visited Hamelin Bay to see the sting-ray beach, then the fossilised water wheel,

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Fossilised water wheel, Cape Leeuwin, WA   (C) Veronika 2016

then the headland overlooking the junction of the Indian and Southern Oceans. It’s a stirring sight.

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Cape Leeuwin, WA, junction of the Indian and Southern Oceans  (C) Veronika 2016

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Al cooked for us in his usual meticulous way, a very nice meal. He’s one of the neatest, most conscientious guys I know. Dunno where he got it from, he wasn’t like that at The Hut. Was he? Well, he never made my bed.

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Daredevil diving at Canal Rocks, WA  (C) Veronika 2016

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Next day, Wednesday 20th, we came back through Busselton to do the underwater observatory at the end of the longest jetty in the Southern Hemisphere, if not the world. It’s 1.7km. We were too late for the train and V didn’t think I could walk it. Damn, there’s a challenge, so I did it! Non-stop, fast walk, the full distance. I was a bit sweaty at the end and would have liked to sit down, but we were late, so we had to start the descent, down the spiral staircase with the window openings at the side to see the fish and pylons.

Well, long story short, in the semi-darkness I missed the very last step and went down hard. On my right knee, right elbow and right wrist. I got up with some help from a guy, and then we noticed the blood. I was bleeding a bit, not especially in pain, just skin removed from my elbow and knee.

They took us up in the lift, thank goodness, and Kate, one of the guides, ambulance trained, took over. My knee had swollen up by now and when I stood up, GAAAAAH!, stinging pain. She dressed it expertly, used a pressure bandage on my elbow to stop the bleeding (I’m on blood thinners) and applied much TLC. Much appreciated. Then they called the “mule”, a two-stroke mini truck, to take us back. I couldn’t have walked it, that’s for sure. V enjoyed the ride sitting on the tray back, and I had a good chat to the driver, another young lady, and going Meep Meep to all the smiling kids who saw us coming. Nice! It was a nuisance to have fallen, but not a disaster.

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Receiving TLC from Kate at the Busselton Jetty after my fall.  (C) Veronika 2016

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Then it was back via Port Geographe. V was very taken with the canals and yachts. The idea of living there is very appealing to both of us.

However, on the road again, V described her ideal place of living, her dream. Working port, boats, yachts, bohemian lifestyle, proximity to major city … Say no more, squire! You’re describing Fremantle. Say no moah! Nudge nudge, wink wink.

So, it’s a new idea for both of us. Nothing definite, just a pipe dream at this stage. I’m not wedded to my present location. I really enjoy this house, but I’m prepared to move. Watch this space, although this is a long way off.

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On Friday night we returned the visit to Geoff and Georgie and had dinner at a restaurant in Woodlands, the Bada Bing. I name it, because I wasn’t too keen on one aspect of it.

I had another fall! It wasn’t my fault. We were the last to finish, at about 10.30pm, and they’d mopped the floor leading to the counter. We set off, my feet zipped from under me on the wet floor, and down I went. It wasn’t too hard, but it hurt, and I couldn’t even begin to get up as my foot kept sliding on the wet floor.

Eventually, I got up, and they said, “But we put signs up.” Bah! Bulldust. They were at the end, and I didn’t see them. I felt they were trying to shift the blame to me. They shouldn’t have mopped the floor while customers were still present! In my usual way (V, take note), I kept a pleasant face on, but I was annoyed. To cap it off, we asked for band aids to put over my bleeding knee, but they didn’t have any. I ended up with makeup pads strapped on with sticky tape. Grrrr. No reduction in the bill, either. Double grrrr.

So, Bada Bing resaurant, Woodlands — if you go there, watch out, they are not too sensible. Food was nice.

PS: I’ve just had a close look at the bill, and discovered that they’ve charged us for two entrees when we only had one and shared it. That means I will definitely write a real paper letter of complaint, listing the things I was annoyed about, rather than, er, letting it slide.

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We also had a picnic on the beach on one day. This is half way through autumn here, yet it’s been balmy warm, enough to go to the beach and enjoy it. V tried the water but it was too cool for her. Next time, maybe. I’d go in if I could feel safe at staying on my feet, but not yet. I’m still having cold showers and I can feel myself getting stronger, but not yet.

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Wheeling pelicans at Augusta WA  (C) Veronika 2016

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Finally, yesterday, it was time for V to leave, going back to Bali. It was a sad parting on my part, for sure. I kept my good face on, but I was near to showing tears as I walked away. Not too long, my dear, until I see you again. It’s been a wonderful two weeks. Thank you. Big bussis!

This is amazing

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Americas Cup 1986     © PJ Croft 2016

As you can tell by the long silence, I’m a bit busy. I have plenty to occupy me, apart from writing blog posts.

A visit to the Fremantle Maritime Museum is on the cards, somewhere I’ve known about and walked past, but never visited before. This is why I’m showing my photos of the Americas Cup from the summer of 1986/1987. That was an exciting time. Channel 7 was the major broadcaster, with our feed going to all the Australian Seven Network stations, and to the US networks, and to the west, to the British networks as well.

It was hard work. The Seven Network had only just come together in 1986, but it was not “together”: there was a lot of “Masters of the Universe” attitude coming from Sydney which I, as Master Control Engineering Supervisor, had to take and deal with. One Sydney MCR guy was especially abrasive. It seemed we in Perth could do nothing right, even though we had no written procedures and didn’t understand the way they worked. Yow!!!! I was stressed. It was hard enough just getting the technical stuff done without having to deal with constant arrogant criticisms. Melbourne were much better, always polite, and Adelaide and Brisbane were the same as us, easy going and a bit sick of the Lords of the Network in Sydney. But we in Perth were the network feed, not them, so everything we did mattered.

I’ll never forget the morning Sydney called up and said, “We need vision from you in ten minutes. Give us some test signal from Freo please.” It was an order, not a request. But we had no written schedule and when I called Fremantle, they knew nothing about this feed either and had nothing to give us. They had to hurriedly pull some “talent” into the tiny studio down there and improvise. We got there, but that was typical – often, no written schedule, lack of communication.

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Americas Cup fan   © PJ Croft 2016

I especially remember the feeling of concentrating so hard that I got into a kind of state, where my mind was totally focused on the next event and nothing was allowed to distract me. The Chief Engineer walked in to Master Control at one stage and said, “How’s it going Peter”, obviously wanting to talk. But I was in that almost trance-like state and I just mumbled a reply about “OK”, and he went away. He knew it was the wrong time.

Our satellite earth station was across the road, outside the TVW7 grounds then. T^his was a brick building with the equipment required to drive and feed a 13m (40 foot) satellite dish. This was big stuff, very precise receivers and powerful microwave transmitters, and the power supplies and motor drivers to control the positioning of this dish. We were looking at the very first Optus satellites then, and talking to the guys in Sydney who controlled all the other channels on the satellite. The settings had to be very precise, because if we got our power or frequency settings wrong, we could have interfered with other users, which included the military. Was I nervous? Damn right I was.

The building and dish were surrounded by a big wire fence with a chain locked gate, and the building was alarmed. We had a defined time, maybe 2 mins, to unlock and open the gate, close and re-lock it, get into the building, close and lock that door again, and disarm the alarm by inputting the code. If you were held up or too slow, the alarm went off, and Sydney would see it on their panel too. Yuk! When we were already under stress, and had just run, yes run, the 200m or so and had to go through this procedure, gah!

Sometimes I was the only senior tech on duty around news time, with only a junior tech on with me. I had to make the decision: which is more important, to stay in MCR and send the young guy to the earth station to do something, or to abandon MCR and go myself? It was usually the latter. I’d come back into MCR puffed and sweating to face any problems associated with the news, which was hard enough in those days. Equipment was not so reliable then.

Despite the above, we got through, and in the end it was a triumph. We were puffed up and proud of TVW7’s effort. We got grudging credit from ATN7 in Sydney, of course, but we were, temporarily, briefly, Masters of the Universe ourselves.

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Cruise ships in Fremantle Harbour, Americas Cup 1986  © PJ Croft 2016

Part of all this was dealing at times with people from one of the San Francisco TV stations taking our feeds, and when I went to the USA in April 1988 with the Chief Engineer, we got an invitation to visit the SF station and meet the people face to face. That was nice. If only I hadn’t been so shy! They were really friendly, but I was too shy to really relax and respond. We were invited to sit in the control room while they did their midday news bulletin, to watch how they did things. We came away mutually agreeing, Geoff and I, that we had nothing to learn from them. We felt we did things as well or better. We kept this to ourselves, of course.

It was this day that I’d arranged to have lunch with my aunt in San Francisco who I hadn’t seen since I was a little boy in Sydney about 1949, barely remembered. I’d exchanged a letter or card or two over the years, but there were no mobile phones or email or Skype then.

But I was so concentrated on this TV station visit that I forgot all about my lunch arrangement with my aunt. Gaaah! Luckily I had her work phone number and she was very forgiving and we had afternoon coffee instead. That was the only time I saw her and it was too brief, but that’s life.

Another incident in Americas Cup time was on a Sunday night: I was the only person on duty and we had a satellite feed scheduled at 8pm to Spain, for the Spanish TV broadcasters covering the Cup. I waited and waited, 8pm came and went, it was only a 10 minute booking, 10 minutes of test signal sent because no-one showed. End of booking, finito.

Then the Spanish crew arrived, about five minutes later, ready to feed. “Sorry, your booking has passed. You can’t feed now, you’ll have to make a new booking” Well, Spanish fireworks. Caramba! You must send out our feed. Sorry, no can do, new booking must be made. Not under my control.

I think the OTC (?) or Optus people at the Gnangara (west feeding) earth station took pity on me and there was a free slot in about half an hour, will that do? I asked the Spaniards and Si, that will be good. So we got through that. But I was almost laughing at the shock and frustration on the Spaniards faces. Sorry, guys, you had to be on time.

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Americas Cup 1986     © PJ Croft 2016

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Americas Cup 1986   Note the windsurfer in the foreground, and the chopper above. © PJ Croft 2016

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With friends’ help, I assembled a new settee and for the first time, I can sit/sprawl and watch TV. IKEA, very comfortable. Not easy to put together – some brute force was needed at one stage, but eventually man beat inanimate object.

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From an article in The Guardian:

“… some of our biggest and best-known businesses no longer resemble the societies they operate in. Lawfully exploiting the opportunities afforded them by globalisation and new technology, they hand over as little tax as possible to the countries on whose infrastructure and protections they rely, squeeze pay and conditions for employees even while handing out lavish rewards to managers, and underinvest in staff so as to over-reward shareholders.”

The article is specifically about the Boots pharmacy chain in the UK, but it applies to most businesses these days. “Lawfully exploiting”: clever accountants and lawyers, probing the laws for loopholes, other lawyers always ready to go to court to keep and expand the loopholes.

“… they hand over as little tax as possible”: if one of Australia’s biggest companies paid the full amount of tax applicable in Australia, officially 30% company tax, we would not have a budget crisis! Instead, they shift all their profits to Singapore where the tax rate is about 3%, and we are told there’s a revenue black hole and we’ll have to accept lower hospital funding! Make the bastards pay their fair share!!!

“… squeeze pay and conditions for employees”: all this talk about award employees, that is shop assistants, restaurant staff and so on having to give “flexibility” is just another way of saying, “We want you to take a pay cut”! So low paid staff have to take reduced pay and conditions, but the biggest companies get away with paying little or no tax, and nothing is done about it.

“… handing out lavish rewards to managers”: managers get paid these massive salaries whether they perform or not. Sure, a few lose their jobs, but their payouts are sums we can only dream of. They never need to worry. But employees have to work in many instances in dangerous jobs, losing their lives in unsafe conditions!

“… underinvest in staff so as to over-reward shareholders.” Good wage staff are seen as a cost, rather than an asset. They are expendable in tough times. They are asked to accept lower wages and give away hard won work conditions, in the name of “flexibility”. Bullshit!

Massive salaries, massive share allocations, huge bonuses to upper managers, widespread tax avoidance and evasion, even criminality among management. It’s time to mobilise, time to demand change. This is going to end badly.

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Ballsup.    © PJ Croft 2016

http://petapixel.com/2016/04/11/seafront-photographers-called-paedofiles-detained-angry-locals/ A few Greek tourists in Britain were taking tourist type photos, and a few women decided they were taking photos of their kids and branded them paedophiles, without any evidence. I’ve experienced this myself. I have to be very careful when I’m carrying a camera in public these days. NOT HAPPY! Any woman, or man, who tries to stop me taking photos in a public place had better be prepared for me to call the police and charge them with harassment and/or defamation. There is no law against taking photos in public, even if they include children.

Tiring day again

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Pentax K-5  (C) PJ Croft 2016

I had a cleaning lady here today and when she arrived at 11.30am I had been on the go for a while. She started the work and I was so buggered I went for a lie down. I heard her working, but when I awoke suddenly, silence. The vacuum was still out, on the floor, but no sign of her. I thought she might have been on a break, but no, she was gone. Then I found her note: she hadn’t wanted to wake me.

No problem. I got going again and finished the vacuuming, cleaned the fridge, did the laundry, made myself some lunch, finished putting up the towel rail, fixed the toilet roll holder position and now I’m buggered again at 5pm. Drinkies. Just a little one.

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Autumn in Japan. The Kiso River, before the winter snows.  (C) PJ Croft 2016

Ah, rain. It’s a bit too rare in Perth these days, so we rejoice. It’s not cold, 24ºC or so. Nice. It’s still forecast to be 29ºC tomorrow, when V arrives. She’s wondering if she’ll be cold. I think she will, but I have enough to keep her warm.

I remember when I used to need a couple of blankets and a light fibre-fill quilt for winter, but I haven’t needed anything like that for ten years or more. I’m still only using a single sheet on top at the moment, a month into autumn. I’ll need to fill the quilt cover now, but I’ll probably toss it back a bit. I haven’t used the filling for five years or so.

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I forgot to mention: I caught the train to town yesterday and on the way back, the ticket inspectors came. They stopped a guy a few seats back and I heard him make a weak joke about “Nearly made it, mate”, as he had no ticket. The inspector brought him forward near me and wrote out a ticket for a $100 fine, payable in 7 days. Bloody hell, a fine like that to save a couple of dollars! What an idiot.

He was a young guy, ragged beard, cool gear, massive tattoos, wearing work boots, a wind cheater, a beanie, all warm gear in other words, on a warm day like yesterday. He tried it on with the inspector: “I don’t suppose the price of a good drink would do, mate?” Hah! He couldn’t stay still, constantly moving, twisting, weaving, never still.

Anyway, after the ticket had been written, I saw him pull his wallet out. He had at least two $50 bills in there, I saw it. So why didn’t he buy a ticket?

He was constantly looking at his phone, of course (everybody does!). Then he pulled his other phone out, a smart phone, white of course, another one! So he could afford the cost of two smart phones, all the phone company costs, hundreds of dollars worth of tattoos, and had at least $100 on him, yet he avoided a $2 train ticket and got a $100 fine instead. Stupid. Dumb. Low intelligence. On drugs?  UGH!

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Left: Bali thatch          Right: Japan thatch         Both (C) PJ Croft 2016

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While on the topic of trains … ach! I took two photos on my Sony smart phone yesterday, but getting them from the phone to the computer … hmmm. Too hard, too long a process.

Anyway, the first showed a bike placed completely across the three disabled seats on the train. Sure, no-one was using them, but if anyone had wanted to, they would have had to wait while the guy found alternative accommodation for his bike. Grrr.

The other shot showed two young (16-18?) girls sitting in the disabled seats. Again, no-one was needing them, but can’t they read? There were plenty of vacant seats. Double grrrr.

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From the comments section on a Guardian article this morning: “The Right Wing of the Liberal Party STILL think Labor’s economic management was bad. Despite the triple A ratings, getting through the GFC relatively unscathed, & all the experts & international accolades in the years since.”

As George Megalogenis says, surviving one financial crisis (the Asian banking crisis of 1997) was good luck; surviving two financial crises (the so called Tech Wreck of 2000/2001) could be considered good management; surviving three financial crises in a row (the GFC of 2007/2008) should be seen as excellent work. All these survivals were due to the sound management moves by Labor governments in the 1980s and early 1990s, along with very, very competent management by the Reserve Bank.

It suits their purposes (the right wing hard line conservatives) to keep pushing lies, no matter what the evidence to the contrary. Look at Maurice Newman, former head of Abbott’s business advisory council (http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/apr/08/maurice-newman-claims-to-be-head-of-business-council-disbanded-by-turnbull). Despite explicit statements that the former members of this board have been retired, including Newman, he is still saying he’s the head of this committee. What??!!

This is the bloke who denies global warming, despite all the evidence, and who believes there’s a UN agenda to take over world governments which must be resisted. Um, the clinic’s that way, Mr Newman.

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A discerning Japanese shopper. Kyoto.   (C) PJ Croft 2016

Even busier!

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See explanation below.   (C) PJ Croft 2016

I know I shouldn’t worry, but I feel I have to get all the ducks in line by Sunday when V arrives. All those jobs that seemed a waste of time, now need to be done. I’ve made good progress:

  • I have a couch/settee partly assembled, have to finish tomorrow or Sunday;
  • I’ve bought a pair of outdoor chairs for my outdoor table (my old chairs disintegrated in the sun);
  • I’ve bought a pair of new towel rails (my bathroom lacks space for towel rails and has always had only one!);
  • My patio has been cleaned and the decking re-oiled, courtesy of my great and good friend Keith;
  • All the paths have been cleaned and weed stripped, again by Keith;
  • I’ve finally installed the new toilet roll holder that I’ve had for two years;
  • I’ve replaced my scungy old toaster that toasted so unevenly with a schmick new Breville that I saw recommended on a US photography web site (how about that?) and which won the Choice tests.

And so on, and on, and on. Funny how near enough is good enough when you live alone, but when someone else is coming … uh oh. Clean sheets, quilt properly fitted, bathroom glass cleaned, table cleared and tidied … ah, she’ll be right.

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I drove down to Rockingham yesterday to see my good friend Donelle, to tell her all the news. Phew, long drive: 90 mins to get there, on the freeway, so it’s not too bad. But two hours to get back, coming via the coast road to avoid the freeway congestion at peak hour. So many traffic light stops! Stop-start all the way. Very annoying and tiring.

Donelle gave me a very nice small gift for Veronika, something a woman thinks of but I hadn’t. Bless her. I do know about the usual greeting, but this will be nice.

While at Palm Beach we saw this:

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It’s the Sun, with a refractive ring formed by ice crystals in the very high cirrus clouds that you can see, the wispy kind. I’ve seen this only once before, in the 1980s, and have a shot from that time too. If I remember correctly, the ring forms at an angle of 57º from the Sun, although how you measure that, I’m not sure.

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You’ve heard me refer so often to my great good friend Keith? Well, this is he:

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Iron Man Keith

Yes, this is Iron Man Keith Geary, OM, VD, CD, DVD and five bars. He’s wearing the latest fashion garment, a cheeky little welder’s mask with an LCD screen that shields him from all criticism. He’s thinking of super gluing it on to give up smoking. A great bargain at $59. He’s very pleased with it. He doesn’t have to put his teeth in or shave.

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I had coffee in the city today with another good friend and was able to show her my new prize. We go right back to school days and she knows something of my life’s struggles, so she was very pleased to hear my love story. Nice meeting.

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Oh, bloody Facebook. What a time thief! I shouldn’t …

 

Busy, busy

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Buddies or competitors? Busselton 2013  (C) PJ Croft 2016

Enjoyably busy. I’m having meet-ups with friends to tell them my big news and to show them my smiles. I guess I’ll calm down, but at the moment I’m buzzing.

I had coffee with my two regular friends yesterday, for our BSB, BullShit Breakfast, where we shoot the breeze about anything and everything. We’re all keen photographers and in theory we should be talking about that, but in fact we rarely do. We keep saying we should arrange a photo shoot day, but we’ve been saying it for years and never seem to do the next step. Oh well.

I’ve got to know one of the waitresses at the cafe very well and she was very happy for me when I told her of my new love. Thanks Denise. I hope to bring V along for you to meet.

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Bunker Bay?    (C) PJ croft 2016

I went to IKEA to look at a settee and found just what I wanted. I’m about to order it on-line for delivery, along with some more bookshelves and CD/DVD towers. It costs about $100 for a delivery, but the components of the settee weigh up to 40Kg and are 1.8m long, too much for me to handle. I hope I can get it before V arrives, but no matter.

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Once I reached IKEA, I reached for my walking stick, but it wasn’t there. Oh no, I’d left it in a trolley at Karrinyup shopping centre. I remembered where it was. These sticks have to be bought on-line and cost about $45, and I’ve lost two before, so … nothing for it but to go back and enquire.

Luckily it had been handed in and I got it back. Yay.  It’s crazy – I have to buy it by mail order (from a Perth company) because it has a U-shaped curved handle. For some reason, the chemist shops and hospital shops only stock T-shaped handles. When I’m shopping and reach for my wallet, I need two hands and need to put my stick away somewhere. With a U-shaped handle, I just hang it on my arm or on some other convenient object. But with a T-shaped handle, you can’t make it hang without sliding off.

I tried about six pharmacies and two hospital shops and none of them stocked U-shaped handles. It’s crazy. Why won’t they stock them? I made my views known, but had to order on-line in the end. I bought two, one for in the car and one for in the house.

This was a notable transaction for another reason: I paid for the sticks on-line when I ordered them. Deal done.

But a few weeks later I got a paper letter with an invoice from a firm that I didn’t recognise and a strange item code. At first I thought it was a pathology fee and nearly paid it. But eventually I realised it was an invoice for my two walking sticks. They’d tried to make me pay again! I phoned them and said I’d already paid. “Oh. I’ll pass this on to accounts and they’ll phone you back.” Did they? Pigs might fly they did. Nice try, people. Grrr.

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Reading about the terrible revelations of the tax evasion scandal with the Panamanian law firm, I found this in an editorial in today’s Guardian:

“The sense [is] that normal rules do not apply to the global elite. In a new gilded age, taxes would – once again – appear to be for the little people.

“That impression would be poisonous at any time, but it could be especially dangerous in the politics of this particular hour. The response to the financial crisis has been a constant: with a continual demand for regular citizens to make sacrifices in the name of austerity. But the understanding of what had gone wrong in the first place has steadily shifted. Initially, there was almost no understanding at all: baffling news reports about credit default swaps suggested only sorcery going wrong.

Slowly but surely, however, the world has learned that the banks that busted the global economy were also consumed with old-fashioned skulduggery: rigging rates, ripping off customers, and laundering Mexican drug money.”

Note that – banks engaging in old fashioned skullduggery. Banks have been at the centre of all these financial scandals. They are outright crooks, dishonest, law breakers. That includes Australian banks!!!!! Not all of them, but definitely the big four, led by the Commonwealth Bank, which used to be the peoples’ bank when it was government owned. But once it was privatised, the fraudulent behaviour charges just keep on coming.

Each of the other banks, ANZ, NAB and Westpac has been revealed as crooked at various times. This is atrocious!!!!

It’s very clear that dishonesty and fraudulent behaviour is rife throughout the upper levels of the financial world and among wealthy people. Paying tax is optional. Paying tax is for the little people, that is, you and me. In February 2011 I was told by someone who considers himself a finance whiz-kid, “I paid no tax last year. Everything went through the [family] trust.” This sickens me. I didn’t say anything but I am angry!

And “the little people”, you and me, are constantly being told we have to tighten our belts, accept more cost cutting, accept reduced services, pay more for electricity, water and gas and so on.

While all the time, the wealthy people and the big companies are paying little or no tax and increasing their wealth at incredible rates. So much, that the top 20 wealthiest people in the world have about half of the total world’s wealth. Just twenty people own half of the world’s total wealth!!!

This is an outrage and I think the time has come for action. I mean ACTION. I mean physical action. I mean action that will scare the shit out of these crooks. Read into my words what you will. I have a crow bar. I have a pick-axe handle… This is radical, but nothing else works.

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Bunker Bay  2013    (C) PJ Croft 2016

Heeeey, I cracked the 120Kg barrier this morning, 119.8Kg. All done by reduced food intake, and especially reduced alcohol consumption. Slow and steady weight loss, 10Kg in the past 12 months. In May 2012 I was 142Kg, so that’s a 22Kg loss in about three four years.

And another cold shower this morning. I started my cold water regimen on 1 November last year, and normally I’d go back to hot showers about now. But I can still take it cold, so I wonder if I can make it to 31 April, six months of the year? Sure I can!

Correction! Er, 31 April? I’ll never make that. How about 30 April. Duh.

She’s coming, she’s coming … :-)

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Japan  (false colour, but I like it!)     (C) PJ Croft 2016

I have dates now for my new love. A week’s time, for 13 days. Great. Now I have to really buckle down and do things. Like buy a couch. I’ve only ever had two armchairs. It shows my mindset in the past. I was gunna get around to it … one day. That day is here. IKEA, of course.

My other great good friend Keith is coming later this week to give me a hand, cleaning windows and pressure cleaning the timber decking which is very dusty.

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Yesterday I was heading south on Marmion Avenue when I was passed by a yellow Lamborghini, then immediately after by a Honda S2000 with the top down. Phwooooaaaar. Not so much for the Lambo, but the Honda … that’s a real classic. Long out of production, manual only, but a beautiful car. Holding their prices, unfortunately, so still $40K and above. I’d love one.

But the car position has completely changed now that I look like spending a lot more time in Bali. There’s no point in buying an expensive car any more, for it to just sit here gathering dust while I’m away. I’d be better off putting the money towards renting a nice SUV up there.

Maybe I should go for the Ford Probe I’ve always wanted. You can buy one for less than $4,000 now. All high mileage, around 200,000Km, I’m afraid, so might need repairs, but repairs should be relatively easy and cheap compared to a Merc.

Just dreamin’.

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Japan, Awara Spa, 1992.    (C) PJ Croft 2016