An intruder

Kalbarri rowboat87_1

Kalbarri 1987  © PJ Croft 2016

Huh. I was just invited to be a Facebook friend to someone I know, so I said yes. He popped up in a chat window soon afterwards, saying, “Hello” (actually “hello”).

I answered and he said “how have you been”. I made a fairly long answer, in a joking tone.

His next words were, “haven’t you heard, how God has been so great to us”.  Huh??

I answered, “How do you mean?”  This was not language the guy I know would use.

He went into a long meander about an agency, a number, and other stuff I didn’t understand.

I replied, “Oh bullshit! Who is this?”

Next thing I know, all “his” words were removed and replaced by a notice, “This post has been removed while we verify the sender’s address.”

So it was some intruder, impersonating someone I know. Huh! Luckily Facebook were on the ball and stepped right in. Good work.

I’m going to have to stop using Facebook. It just wastes too much time.

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Boy fishing87

Fishing near Exmouth 1987  © PJ Croft 2016

I had my CAT scan with Barium “swallow” yesterday. It’s to see what’s happening around my gastric band, to see if there’s any interference with the vagus nerve. It might explain my dizziness, balance problems, palpitations and so on. This was a first time Barium for me, and I was a little nervous about the drink. I’ve heard horror stories over the years.

Well, I needn’t have worried. I got there about 10 minutes early and had just sat down to wait when they called me in. No waiting.

Nor was there any undressing. I sat for about ten minutes in a booth, then was called in, asked to take my windcheater off but leave my T shirt and sandals on, and to drink two plastic cups of a clear liquid, slightly sweet, same consistency as water. Easy, as I’d had nothing to drink that morning.

Then it was onto the sliding table, arms above head, three times through and it was all done, about 5 mins. No need to pay, no need to check out, just go. Easy!

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Damn ticket parking. It’s a con. I had to go to a ticket parking area at the hospital yesterday (other parking area full!) and because I had no idea how long I’d be, I paid for 2.5hrs, total $5. But I was all done in 20 mins, so I wasted all that money, about $4 worth. (I gave my ticket to a lady who was just about to pay into the machine).

These ticket machines are a con, because most people have to way overestimate how long they’ll be, so the parking people get much more out of us than they should and we waste the unused part. Grrr.

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Goanna

Racehorse Goanna, Cape Range National Park 1987.  © PJ Croft 2016

One week to go to my next Bali trip. Gee, another opportunity to try to trim my packing down to fit my suitcase. Travelling with CPAP, medications, photo gear and computer gear is not easy. Not much room left for clothes. Lucky I’m going to a warm climate.

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Back again

 

Sydney lightning N27n

Sydney storm, with aircraft. 1987.  © PJ Croft 2016

Brrrr. This is the coldest, wettest winter I can recall for some years, although I’m sure the statistics would prove me wrong. It seems that way, anyway. My farmer friends confirm that the farmers are very happy. This feels like it used to be back in the 70s and 80s, when we got more than “showers”.

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Speaking of showers, my shower has a dripping tap. But it’s these crazy star shaped handles that you need a special tool to remove.

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I’ve bought the tool (about $4), but the rings are corroded and the tool just bends. So I followed the recommendation and bought spray to “unfreeze” the ring. I wasted my money – they still won’t budge. I’ve bought circlip pliers but I can’t get a grip with those either. Nor can I unscrew the cone shaped covers – there’s nothing to grip and the wrench just slips.

As well, the handles are sharp, rough and spiky. The guy who designed these must have been a plumber. The cost to get a plumber to replace these tap washers would be more than the price of the new taps. It would probably pay for the plumber’s holiday in Bali.

That all adds up to hacksaw! I’m going to cut the spindles off and bash grooves into the covers to grip onto. I’ve bought complete new taps at a cost of about $45 a pair (I think).

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About ten years ago when flat screen TVs were becoming mainstream, I used to tell anyone who’d listen that a new technique was to modulate the backlighting of the screen depending on the light and dark areas of the picture content.

Unfortunately for my listeners, I was talking rubbish. I thought this was the case, but I realised later I was ahead of the curve:

From a professional TV web site this week: The most important technology baked into the [Sony] Z-series sets is undoubtedly the Backlight Master Drive. At CES, the 85-inch prototype contained 1,000 zones, but the consumer units may have expanded that functionality, down to pixel-level. This means that the LEDs that comprise the backlight are each individually dimmable.  The effectiveness of this backlight array is enhanced by a high precision lighting and dimming algorithm.

I was about ten years ahead of my time. I should have patented it.

These new Sony Z series are touted as competing with LG’s OLED screens, but using LCD. But the smallest Sony is 65 inches at a price of US$6,999 ! The LG 55 inch OLED is presently A$3,995 and coming down. There’s no question which one I’d choose.

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I was at a shopping centre for lunch yesterday. I used to visit there regularly a few years ago. What a disappointment. Missing:

  • the Dymocks bookshop
  • the food hall where I used to get my Turkish flat bread thingies
  • the Harvey Norman store
  • the Tandy electronics store
  • the Croissant Express cafe that was so good I used to make special trips

And others I’ve forgotten. All that’s left is women’s clothing and accessory shops, one men’s clothing shop, jewellers, gift/trinket shops and the  usual Coles/Woolies/K-Mart. This is the trend these days. They wonder why we buy on-line – we can’t get what we want in the shops any more. I can’t, anyway.

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Similarly, web sites don’t want us to use ad-blocking software. But take a look at The West today – it’s so blanketed by a giant ad that you can hardly work out what’s editorial and what’s ad. The Guardian, my favourite site, jerks up and down as the ads load much more slowly than the editorial, and distract with their moving/animated visuals. I use ad blocking, I’m afraid.

A busy Sunday

Mangroves G136

Mangroves, Qld.  © PJ Croft 2016

I’m heading back to Bali in early August and I’m realising I have quite a few preparations to make. Suddenly, things are seeming urgent.

ResMed AirSense 10 for Her

I’ve decided it’s time I bought a new CPAP machine after eight years with my S6 (Series 6) Autoset. It failed in a big way in 2013, needing a new motor after water from the humidifier got into it. The new motor and fitting cost $300! Resmed charge what they feel they can get away with, not the real cost. Example: the elastic head strap with four plastic clips – $65! It’s just cloth covered neoprene rubber, the same material used in thousands of cheap products, nothing special. $65.

The mask: moulded plastic, no different to kitchen implements or any other toys or small appliances – $250! It’s legal robbery, from elderly retired people, usually (that’s when sleep apnea becomes a problem) who can least afford it. Just because it has a medical application, they charge hospital prices. Robbers!

As well, I’ve said this before: the cost of machines in the USA is half what we have to pay! Why? Because the competition is stronger in the US, I assume, whereas Resmed can charge what they like here. The US price for an S10 machine is A$978.51. Price here? A$2,090.

Postscript: I’ve had a closer look at the supplier’s web site, and the rebate on a $2,000 machine is only $720. OUCH!

The Transcend tiny portable machine is available for $899, but it’s fixed pressure. You also have to add the price of the humidifier $300, and a $50 base station, taking the cost to way over $1,000. That might be an option. It can run on a battery or car 12V adapter (substantial extra cost, of course), so for travel in the car it would allow overnight stops on the Nullarbor.

They offer trial periods. Try a machine before you buy. Good idea, yes?  The cost – $350!! Incredible.

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I also have to look for “candle bags” and party supplies. Big party being planned in Bali. Yum. I’d never heard of candle bags before. Now I know. It seems to me that, given the free time, I could make my own for almost no cost. 🙂

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

IKEA. I added reinforcement and wheels at the bottom so I can move it around.

Nearly finished a long desired project, assembling a chest of drawers in my bedroom. My walk-in robe is a mess of piled up clothes on small shelving, such that I really don’t know what I’ve got. The clothes on the bottom of the stacks never get used. It’s crazy. I tend to buy new clothes (small stuff! Underwear and cheap T-shirts) without knowing what I’ve got already.

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Another urgent task – I’ve volunteered to take about 225 images of a funeral ceremony at Besakih in Bali in March and turn them into a DVD slide show, and the same images as a printed book using Photobook software. The slide show DVD can be done anywhere, but the book needs to be completed in the next week if it’s to be delivered before I go. Hurry, hurry. I could just pour the images onto the pages in a quickie job, but I need to do a good job. That takes time and meticulous work.

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What a boon Photobooks are for me. All my life I had no way to show my pictures except in old type slide shows that no-one liked, with their horrible eye jerking blackouts between slides and focus problems.

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But people will look at books, and they can be made quite attractive. It takes me at least a month to make a book, usually longer, as I add text and captions. But wow! The results are worth it. The printing and binding is excellent. No complaints. It’s done in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and posted back to me. All done, from sending the files over the ‘net to delivery, in about six days.

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I’ve been criticised for wearing shorts to restaurants.

Shorts Fukushima

I think this guy didn’t like the food at this restaurant 😉

This is Fukushima. See, even in Japan they wear shorts. 🙂

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I’ve been sort of dragged into using Facebook. Oh, what a time waster! It’s amazingly addictive, but I find I’m spending an hour or more at a time, and having to make a conscious decision to stop. But later I have to check back. It’s compulsive.

I’m going to have to draw a line and stop using it. It serves no purpose for me and I have much better things to do on the computer.

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One good thing: for some years I’ve been a reader of the Economist magazine. But it’s a weekly and at $11, it’s quite an expense. Coles supermarkets used to sell it, but they seem to have dropped it. Strangely, my local newsagent doesn’t sell it, but they do sell New Philosopher. I’ve never read that, and I’m sure I’d like it, but there’s a limit.

Anyway, I’ve finally taken out a digital subscription. I’ve always felt that paper magazines are the past and a waste of trees, but I’m finding there are other advantages.

I now read the Economist on my Samsung 11″ tablet and I’m very, very pleased, surprisingly so. It’s better than reading the paper magazine. The text is bigger and I can make it bigger still. The resolution of this screen, at about 250dpi, is so fine that you cannot see the pixels, and photos look magnificent, better than on the printed page. I’m finding the readability is better than the paper version. I can turn the brightness up if I need to, and enlarge the text a little or a lot as needed with a touch of two fingers.

As well, the cost is much lower. It averages $6.77 per issue, versus $11, and it’s available as soon as it’s published. I get it immediately, without having to go to the shops. Also, all the previous issues are right there, so I can go back to things I missed. I’m a fan!

I think I might subscribe to a couple more magazines. I tend to end up with piles of magazines that seem too good to throw into the bin. I try to donate them to my medical centre and anywhere else I can such as the barber’s, but it’s a lot of trouble.

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Me Artotel 6June16

A new self pic, taken on 6 June in Bali. I like it very much. I’ll have to remove that iced coffee, though. That’s the Samsung tablet on the table. Notice my halo?

A Wally lunch

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That’s Wally on the left, with Lindsay centre and Carl.

We had one of our regular “Wally lunches” today. Wally is an old school friend who has MS and is wheelchair bound. We have lunch in a cafe near his care home so that he can be brought over to have a bit of company.

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l-r Ross, Yari, Jan and white haired Mick.

Boy, it was crowded, loud and cold. It was a sunny day, but icy cold and the eating area is outside under a big patio. They have gas heaters but they switched them off around 3pm as the crowd thinned out, so we had to suffer. It’s school holidays and the place was packed with mums and kids. Ugh.

Anyway, here’s the group – this is the OSMO camera, by the way. Right at the end you can see the viewfinder (my phone) shaking at the bottom, yet the pics are steady:

We’re all the same age, 69 going on 70, we went to the same high school 1960-64. It’s great that we’re all still together 52 years after our final year.

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One of the things we talked about was how country towns are dying in WA. So many of the big ones used to be centres of government offices or the offices and workshops of government instrumentalities – water, electricity, agriculture, railways, but all these government offices have been pulled back to Perth and “rationalised”, i.e. cut to the bone of staff.

That’s reduced the town populations, which reduces shop trade, so shops close down, and the big supermarkets drive the smaller shops out of business, all of them losing staff as a result. These people move out of the town, further reducing the need for shops and services. It snowballs. Our country towns are shrivelling. Northam’s population has fallen dramatically. The boys’ and girls’ hostels have closed down; presumably the kids now board privately. When they finish school, they go to Perth to get jobs because there are no good jobs in the towns any more.

The context was that we talked about a “Round the Houses” motor race in the town last year, and one of our group said there seemed to be no interest from the town people. On a Saturday, with cars racing through the main street, there seemed to be no crowds. It was depressing.

A cold day

I finally got my OSMO camcorder going with the help of my friend Les.

OSMO1

It’s a stabilised video and audio camera that records to a Micro SD card. It records in 4K! The advances in video recording in the past few years are just amazing.

Anyway, Les has an Apple iPhone that can connect to the internet via the 3G phone network. I can only connect via my wi-fi router. Since the OSMO camera requires to be connected to my phone by wi-fi, because the phone acts as the controller, I was unable to log on to DJI’s internet connection to register my camera.

This is atrocious!!! I bought this camera in May and took it to Bali with me. But because I couldn’t “register” the camera on DJI’s system over the internet, I was unable to use it until last week, nearly two months later. Unable to use it? No pictures, no life from the camera except for a fan running. This is pathetic.

However, it’s up and going now, only because Les was able to connect it to his phone and to the internet at the same time. Thanks Les. No thanks to DJI in China.

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The pictures look dark and a bit over saturated. That’s because this is the first time I’ve used it and I deliberately set it to “Vivid” and -0.3EV, something I do with my still cameras. But this one is a bit too savage, so I’ll go back to the neutral settings.

To produce this 36 seconds of video has taken 2 hours! Shoot, ingest, edit, adjust audio to reduce wind noise, render it out, upload to Vimeo, incorporate into this page – at least two hours.

A lot of that time was uploading to Vimeo. It was a 33MB file and it took about 30 mins. This is very, very slow. If I had fibre optic NBN …

Coincidences

Smear madness

Smear madness.

The image above is an example of the craze for smeared light fittings on cars these days. It’s a designers’ fad, a styling craze that will date a car quickly and look ridiculous in a few years. That’s why I prefer traditional styling, of around ten years ago. I’m thinking of Mercedes, but also the first versions of the Ford Territory. I don’t like the new styling.

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Gee, I’ve just noticed an article in the Guardian that makes a brilliant point:

In 2003, President George W. Bush, on the basis of bad intelligence (and you can take that either way), decided he would invade Iraq. He was backed uncritically by British PM Tony Blair, who also disregarded warnings and believed this faulty intelligence.

This caused 5,000 US soldiers to die, 179 British soldier deaths, up to 600,000 Iraqi civilian deaths, and several millions of displaced Iraqi people who crossed into Syria and Turkey to escape.

This led into the Syrian war, which then led on to the mass migration of middle eastern refugees trying to escape the wars moving to Greece, then on to Europe.

The bad decisions about the war by Blair led to a huge public distrust of politicians in Britain, and combined with the mass movements of refugees across Europe trying to get into the UK, indirectly led to the Brexit vote for Britain to leave the EU (and close the gates).

This is very likely to lead to the break up of the United Kingdom with Scotland leaving and a possible re-ignition of the Northern Ireland Troubles.

So look at that chain of events. All caused by that mass murdering war criminal George W. Bush, his militaristic Vice President Cheney and his uncritical, war mongering pal, Tony Blair.

The end results are not yet clear, but are likely to be disastrous for Britain. Meanwhile, I’ve read that 20 returned US soldiers a week are committing suicide back home in the USA from the effects of their service.

George W. Bush also signed many death warrants while he was governor of Texas. The man is a mass murderer.

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I continue to be amazed at the coincidences I see these days. Last week I walked through Cloisters Arcade in Perth and saw a cafe called Schmear. I’ve never seen that word before in my life.

Next day, it was used in an article in the Saturday Paper! I wish I’d kept the article to prove it, but I swear it’s true, yer honour.

You can find it in Wikipedia as North American slang:

noun.

  1. an underhand inducement.
    “he knew the schmear was on when the producer invited him to lunch”
    2. a smear or spread.
    “a schmear of low-fat cream cheese”
verb.
  1. flatter or ingratiate oneself with (someone).
    “he was buying us drinks and schmearing us up”
    I’ve never seen it before.

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Brrrrrr. I seem to be feeling the cold much more than I used to. Could it be I’m getting older?  I’m not old, I’m distinguished.

I’ve still got a medical investigation to be done, and then I might head back to the warmth of Bali. Maybe August? I hope.

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I’ve noticed articles about emu oil being particularly good for skin and bones. I’ve bought a 1 litre pump container of emu oil lotion for the amazingly low price of $3. It’s supposed to be good for bad skin, meaning I’ll use it on my legs. The lower parts don’t look too good these days, very dark and hairless. But the skin seems thicker and less prone to the skin breaks and lesions I used to get.

There’s also emu oil capsules to swallow for joint pain, like fish oil but without the side effects. Unfortunately a big container of about 500 capsules costs $45. I left that one for now.

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Well, the Liberals were voted back in, so that means we’re condemned to a second class fibre optic network that is incapable of speeds above about 25Mb/s now, and can not be upgraded to cope with future developments. Congratulations, you people who voted against Labor. I hope you’re satisfied with second rate broadband.

When Labor gets in again, it’s going to cost $billions to fix Turnbull’s mess. How one man can be so dogmatic and pig headed is beyond me. Malcolm Turnbull. This is the man who crippled Australia’s broadband network. There’s not an engineer in the NBN Co who thinks this is the way to do it. It is universally recognised by engineers and technicians as wrong. Bloody hell!!!

Remember, Malcolm Turnbull is the man who was sucked in by Godwin Grech’s false emails in 2009 (just Google “utegate” – there’s a complete Wikipedia article on it). Turnbull has very poor judgement and gets fixated on things. This election campaign is a prime example.