The Dump

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The end of the world?   © PJ Croft 2017

When I heard Malcolm Turnbull’s comment on President Dump’s executive order banning entry to the USA for those seven countries, my immediate thought was, “You weasel. You watery apology for an Australian prime minister.”

The whole world is standing up in protest against this foolish, mean order, yet you say we don’t comment on other countries’ affairs. Yes we do! We protested to Japan over their illegal whaling. We told China to respect the ruling of the Hague about China’s annexation and militarisation of the South China Sea islands. We criticised Russia over the shooting down of the Malaysian aircraft over Ukraine.

But when big Daddy USA and big Republican (ie conservative) president Donald does something, we run and hide in case he thinks we don’t support him, and he might not help us when we need it.

This damnable Liberal-National Party government. Bloody cowards. Torturers, child abusers, offenders against international law. They have trashed Australia’s good name. Canada is now the light on the hill.

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Incredible. The Dump has only been in power for less than two weeks and already he’s brought the USA into international disrepute. This ban on Muslims will enrage the militants and increase the danger of terrorism.

He’s actually just continuing a long line of US atrocities. This from an article in The Guardian today:

In the period following the devastating 9/11 attacks, the US committed a number of acts that damaged the country’s global standing. They include

  • the invasion of Iraq that was justified by the false claim that Saddam Hussein possessed an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction that endangered the US;
  • the water-boarding, wall-slamming and other abuses of detainees from many countries at CIA “black sites”;  [i.e. torture PJC]
  • the extremely prolonged detentions without charges or trial at Guantánamo;
  • the poor administration of occupied Iraq that allowed the country to descend into chaos and helped to spawn terrorist movements in the region;
  • and the torture and sexual humiliation of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib.

To that list I would add the drone bombing of terrorist sites in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, which has killed many innocent civilians; the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians and the maiming and injury of hundreds of thousands more; and the forced displacement of millions of war refugees in the Middle East.

What a great record!

There’s an article in the Washington Post today written by Mikhail Gorbachev, who warns that with Trump and Putin in total power, we are in new danger of a world war, World War 3, and I think there’s no doubt it would go nuclear.

All this just in Dump’s first two weeks! What’s it going to be like after two months, or two years? This is frightening.

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What strange weather. It started raining on Sunday night and it’s hardly stopped since. I could hear it during my period of wakefulness around 3am this morning, and it’s still raining now, at midday Tuesday. I heard yesterday was, at 24C, the coolest January day in ten years or something like that. My fingers are quite cold now.

I’ve had clothes out on the line since Sunday – forgot to bring ’em in. Too bad, they’ve had a wonderful rainwater rinse, and when they do get dry, they’re like they’ve been ironed.

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I did 15 mins non-stop on the treadmill this morning, the last five minutes at slope 3. This thing is working. I’m finding it easier to do, and my walking in general feels easier these days. Bagus. I quite enjoy the treadmill, as well, watching the news on TV as I walk.

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I continue to be crapped off with my Sony phone. It was only a $230 “cheapie”, and that’s the way it performs, cheaply.

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OnePlus 3  – gee, it’s different, isn’t it?

I’ve decided on a replacement, the OnePlus Three. It wins top spot for mid-price smart phones, giving most of the performance of the top models at half the price, apparently. I think I’ll order it right now. My review will follow after some time.

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Ex Box

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Sanur, Shanti Beach   (C) PJ Croft 2017

Nope. Now that I’ve read up on the Microsoft X-Box One S that I thought might act as my HDD video tuner recorder, I realise it doesn’t come close. It has no tuner(s) and no capacity for off-the-air TV. It’s definitely the cheapest way to buy a 4K Ultra HD Blu Ray player, but I want more than that. Scotch that idea.

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Aaaah, nice drop of rain today. Not heavy, but 2-3 hours of steady drizzle this morning, and it’s still spitting now. More please.

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My sedatives didn’t work last night, dammit. Asleep OK at 11pm, but woke at 12.30am and that was the last sleep I got. I think I must have dozed a bit as I seem to remember dreams, but I felt awful this morning and have had to sleep again during today. That’ll muck it up for tonight. This is awful, a real problem. I’m wide awake now at 6.45pm, but it may mean I don’t sleep again tonight. Grrr.

Bali weather?

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Crater lake storm, Kintamani (C) PJ Croft 2017

Wow, looking outside at the moment, the sky is heavy with cloud, pregnant with coming rain. The light is orange. The Bureau of Meteorology web site says tomorrow’s chance of rain is 100%, and I heard there could be up to 50mm over the northern suburbs. That’s me. Yay! Let it come. It was 42C on Thursday, 40C yesterday and 39C today. This leaves Bali with its 30, 31C temps behind. I think I prefer Bali, not sure. Humidity here around 50%, Bali 95-100%.

Aaaah, a flash of lightning and a roll of thunder. Love it!

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But after a very quiet week for dog barking, they’re at it again. I haven’t said a word of complaint, but for some reason the dogs were very quiet this past week. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone else has complained.

However, while I was moving around outside fixing the retic, a bloody dog was snuffling and barking at every sound I made. They can’t see me, but can hear me moving around, you see. They’re also whining and whimpering. The owners are out tonight, judging by the lack of lights. Now the dogs are barking just at the voices from my TV sound.

Aaah, more thunder. Maybe lightning’ll strike ’em.

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I’ve been having reticulation troubles and found my controller had somehow changed its settings. Hard to see how, unless someone did it while I was away. The controller is accessible from the footpath, so anyone can fiddle with it. It does have battery backup, but the display looks fine, so I don’t think it’s a low battery.

Anyway, I reprogrammed it (quite an easy job, there are only three stations and it’s very logical) and attempted to run the main garden bed station, which missed its Saturday cycle this morning. But the pressure was too low and once again I’ve found a blanked off piece of pipe has popped off. I fixed this just a week ago, but the snap ring is not strong enough. I’ll have to use a hose clamp. I used to have dozens, but I’m not sure where they are now. Moving! Never again.

If the rain happens as forecast, no watering will be needed, of course.

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Moving all my stored recordings off the hard drive recorder to DVD has happened much faster than I expected. I’ve done at least a dozen DVDs so far, probably more, and there are only about six major programs left to save. Not hard, A couple of days should see it finished. So much for my estimate of months of work.

Of course, if I didn’t watch these programs when they were on the hard drive, why am I going to watch them now? It’s just that I can’t erase major Shakespeare productions and the Queen’s Jubilee Procession, which will never, ever be repeated. Likewise the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics. Every opening and closing of an Olympics I’ve ever watched has been marvellous, but they are never preserved. You will never be able to see them again. I’ve got this one.

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So what’s going to replace the Panasonic HDD/DVD recorder? Would you believe, possibly a Microsoft X-Box 1? Latest model. It has a 4K UltraHD BluRay player built in and is fully 4K enabled. I have a 4K TV now, you see. A 55″ LG OLED model.

Why 4K? Because when I’m travelling, I shoot video in 4K. All the video of the Balinese Kecak Dance at Ulu Watu was shot in 4K. I had to reduce it to 720p to edit and upload to Vimeo for the blog, unfortunately, so a lot of thequality was lost, but I can assure you, 4K video sparkles!

The X Box does internet program streaming too, and has a 1TB internal hard drive to record and store programs. The one thing it doesn’t do is record to external discs, so the hard drive will slowly fill up. Hmmm. I think some cable connection to an external DVD recorder might be needed at some time. Then again, do we actually need DVDs any more? USB thumb drives are now so cheap and have far greater capacity and reliability.

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Nearly time (8pm) to take my sedatives, Phenergan and Valerian. I find they keep me asleep, but have a morning hangover effect, so it’s better to take them early.

I’ve also just started using the insulin pens I bought at Kimia Farma in Jalan Legian in Bali.

What an idiot I was. I was so spooked at finding one of my packets of cartridges was empty while I was up there and thought I would run short, that I rushed out and bought some pens. A box of five cost me $125! And only now that I’ve been home for three weeks have I started using them. I needn’t have spent that money, in other words. Duh! Stop and think, next time.

Alone again, naturally.

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(C) PJ Croft 2017

A reflection of my mood at the moment. I’ll get over it. It’s much the same as when I had to get the vet to put Minnie to sleep. I felt awful for some months, but I got over it.

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(C) PJ Croft 2017

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I was amazed today. I went to buy a newspaper at Whitford’s City shopping centre, at a small kiosk on the west end.

It’s U-shaped with small counters on the three sides. I picked up the paper and stood at the left hand side counter with correct money in my hand. The guy was standing with his back to me at the right hand side counter. He finished with a customer but continued standing there with his back to me.There were no other customers.

Thinking he didn’t realise I was there, I said, “Excuse me” and held out the money. He turned and said, “No, that counter’s closed. Can you come around here please?” indicating the centre counter.

I was astounded. For his convenience, he wanted me to walk around to the centre counter so as to hand over my correct coins. Why? Why was my counter “closed”? There was nothing to indicate it.

I was not in a good mood so I just slapped my coins down on the counter and took the paper and walked away. He shouted after me, “Thank you very much, sir” in a sarcastic tone.

Bloody hell, what happened to the customer being right? I should have slapped the paper down instead and walked away, telling him I’d buy elsewhere.

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(C) PJ Croft 2017

Cool summer! There’s some hot weather forecast for tomorrow and Thursday, but I’ve been cold the last few nights, not even using the fan that I usually have blowing on me all night. Even my cold shower in the morning is feeling a bit too cool.

There was an excellent talk on the Science Show on Saturday. A WA scientist has written a book about the climate of SW Western Australia in the past century, pointing out the way the climate has changed, markedly, and the vegetation with it.Our SW area, comprising the Wheat Belt and the Darling Scarp, with the Perth metro area, has undergone a major drying effect since the 1970s. I agree! I have felt it. The south west forests are noticeably dry, stressed. Our dams, previously our major source of drinking water from winter rain, are now essentially useless, near empty all the time, even in winter.

He points out that land clearing for wheat farming has been very wrong, counter-productive, because the loss of vegetation has caused the rainfall to reduce over the cleared areas. Rain falls more over green vegetation, not over barren wheat land.

The reduced rainfall has also allowed the water table to rise, bringing salt with it, and large areas of formerly productive land is now too saline to use. Bad decisions 50-60 years ago.

He said you’d think the answer would be to re-vegetate the cleared land, and in theory that’s correct, but the area is just too vast, the job too big. Too bad.

Darker still

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An even darker age has descended on me from today. No more trips to Bali for the foreseeable future. Looks like I’m free as a bird again to plan my own trips, to anywhere, free of any ties. I tried my hardest, but I discovered that the rules for women are different than for men. Rule number 1 is, the man is always wrong. But then, you married men always knew that, didn’t you? I was a babe in the woods, a rank amateur, a fool.

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I don’t know why I bothered but I thought I’d look at Air Asia’s “low” fares from Perth to Denpasar that they sent me in an email last week.

They advertised: From 1 May 2017 to 6 Feb 2018, Perth to DPS “from $105”. Quite clear.

Ha ha, what a joke. I invite you to try to find that price. The lowest fare for months ahead is $171. Their ad is a blatant lie. I think that $105 price was available last week, but not any more, no matter how far ahead you look.

I don’t take kindly to this kind of deception, Mr Air Asia, so I’ll be using another airline if I go again.

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I watched a movie night before last, Approaching the Unknown. It’s about the first American astronaut on a one way mission to Mars to establish the first base there. Others, specifically a woman, are to follow close behind.

This lone astronaut developed his own machine on Earth to make water by breaking soil down into hydrogen and oxygen, then recombining these to make water. Water weighs a lot, so it saves a lot of weight to take dirt on the spacecraft, and once you reach Mars, well, there’s dirt to burn, so to speak.

It’s a long and boring story but his machine breaks down about three quarters of the way there. He manages to eke out enough water to just survive, naturally.

But thing is, why make a serious movie like this if you’re not going to take the science seriously. It’s a joke:

  • There are no transmission delays in all his radio transmissions with “Houston”. This is fundamental. Radio transmissions take longer and longer the farther you recede from Earth, to the extent that only half way to Mars the delay is around four minutes each way. You simply cannot hold normal conversations. That doesn’t bother the makers of this movie.
  • In any case, there’s no way NASA would send only one man on a mission like this. It’s a crazy idea. What if he got sick or injured? It’s a single point of failure. They wouldn’t do it.
  • Obviously, his water making machine, which it’s his prime task to maintain during the mission, is another single point of failure. And fail it does, and the whole mission with it. Ridiculous.
  • The second female astronaut is following, again alone in a second spacecraft, and of course she goes haywire so they abort her mission and “turn her around”. This is ludicrous. You can’t turn a spacecraft around. There isn’t the fuel or rocket power. It would have to loop around Mars to return to Earth. But that little detail doesn’t bother the movie’s director.
  • The main man seems to be nearly dying of thirst, but as he nears Mars, he passes through these fantastic gas clouds, all colour and light. They look just like the gas clouds seen millions of light years away in other galaxies, not within the Solar System. How did they get here? How does he travel through them? At one stage, a bolt of lightning flashes out from one of these gas clouds and hits his craft. It’s just crazy.
  • He finally reaches Mars, despite seeming to have run out of water, and after his capsule, which looks just like a 1960s Apollo capsule, flames down through Mars’s atmosphere, it lands safely on the surface. No parachute, mind you, just retro rockets, so they must have carried all that fuel mass with them. It lands right way up so he just opens a hatch and walks out onto the surface, then keeps walking way off to the rim of a crater. The End.

Why do they spend so much money making a movie like this that is bound to be a failure, because it’s so laughable? Beats me. Into the bin.

The New Dark Age

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So now, from today, 21 January 2017, we enter a New Dark Age. This will be an age of national confrontation, of United States selfishness, vindictiveness, warlike threats, coercion, refusal to cooperate, outright theft of territory and property, you name it, it will happen.

I will be very surprised if there is not armed conflict between the US and China on one hand and Russia on the other. This President Dump knows nothing of diplomacy, tact, subtlety. He is a bully, a liar, absolutely untrustworthy. We will never be able to believe anything the USA says and trust will be a game of chance.

Any US citizens reading this who voted for Trump, or didn’t bother to vote – YOU DAMNED FOOLS! YOU will be to blame for any deaths that occur. It will be on your conscience. You USA idiots. That you voted for a known, proven liar, a businessman known for his dishonesty, a tax cheat, a misogynist, a mauler of women, a low intelligence idiot, a bully and any other failing you care to name speaks volumes for your stupidity.

The USA has some people who are magnificent – doctors, engineers, scientists, teachers, nurses, researchers, musicians, actors, many military people, … but the majority of the USA are DUMB! STUPID! IDIOTS! Low intelligence racist pigs.

Unfortunately your stupid decision doesn’t affect just you, it affects all of us. Your absolutely crazy choice of president, this pig Dump, is going to affect ALL of us. I will be holding you responsible. Rue this day!

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I think about the US presidents in my lifetime:

  • Kennedy                  Dem
  • Johnson                   Dem
  • Nixon                        Repub
  • Ford                           Repub
  • Carter                        Dem
  • Reagan                      Repub
  • George HW Bush   Repub
  • Clinton                     Dem
  • George W. Bush     Repub
  • Obama                      Dem
  • Trump                       Repub

Of those, almost every Democrat is regarded with kindness by history as having been a good man and who has done something great.

But on the Republican side, look at the record: Richard Nixon, a crook, impeached, forced to resign in disgrace; Gerald Ford, only became president by default after Nixon was ousted, did a bit but not regarded as much; Reagan, came up with crazy ideas eg Star Wars, massively built up the US military at huge cost; George Bush Senior, first Iraq war, failed to complete it, leading to massive problems; George Bush Junior, second Iraq war, responsible for deaths of 5,000 US servicemen and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilian deaths, a war criminal of the first order.

This is it: Republicans – wars, scandals, financial disasters, massive civilian death tolls. Democrats – good things, fond memories.

Do you really think Trump/Dump is going to change the order? Do you really think he will be looked on kindly by history, as Barack Obama will be? Dream on.

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Oh my goodness. I have taken on a massive task. I am sick and tired of my Panasonic Digital Video Recorder. It’s about 8 years old now, ancient in other words, and it drives me mad in being too slow to do any actions. It takes seconds to respond to the remote, and since a couple of the remote control keys have become “sticky”, this drives me nuts.

I’ve been thinking it’s time to update. But the problem is that I’ve got around 30-40 programs on the hard drive that I don’t want to lose. In particular, I’ve got the Queen’s Golden jubilee River Pageant on the Thames in 2011, and the closing ceremony of the London Olympics in 2012. The pageant is about six hours long, and the Olympic ceremony is four hours I think.

In addition, I’ve got about eight Shakespeare plays either in movie form from many years ago, or the recent SBS series of four dramas made for TV which are just magnificent. But each one is around two hours. Plus I have many other programs I don’t want to lose.

OK, just dub ’em off onto DVD, I hear you say. Especially as the recorder is capable of High Speed copying. But every program has to be converted to enable HS mode, and each conversion takes at least an hour. The advantage is that the conversion happens when the machine is switched off (after you’ve spent ten minutes making all the commands).

Then the Queen’s Pageant, at six hours, has to be divided up into six one hour chunks to fit on the DVDs, taking another half hour at least. Only then can the copying start. Each DVD, in High Speed mode, still takes 13 minutes.

You get the idea. To clear this Hard Drive is going to take me tens of hours work. I’m already deleting every program I can possibly do without, but the Queen’s Jubilee Pageant was a once in 500 years’ event and will never be shown or seen again. I can’t throw it away. It’s history.

Ho hum. It will be months of work.

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I don’t know what’s happened, but I haven’t heard a peep out of next door’s dogs yesterday or today. Could it be … ?

Greed!

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Just two people in Australia own more wealth than the bottom 20% of the country. Yes, Gina Rhinehart and Harry Triguboff between them have $16.1 billion dollars. That’s sixteen thousand million dollars! That’s more than 4.8 million Australians put together have.

This is the situation, while the federal Liberal conservative government goes after the poorest people through Centrelink*, sending false, threatening letters saying they will set the debt collectors on them unless they pay up immediately. In many cases, Centrelink has got its facts wrong! In some cases of wrong addresses, the first thing the people know is the debt collector’s appearance on their doorstep.

At the same time, one third of Australia’s biggest companies, including BHP Billiton, “The Great Australian”, pay no tax at all. They manage to structure their affairs so that they pay zero tax in this country.

It is also well known that once you achieve a certain level of income, somewhere above $250,000 per year, paying income tax is optional. In other words, you can afford to pay clever accountants to arrange your affairs so as to avoid paying tax completely. Most wealthy people in Australia are paying zero tax. Many others avoid most of their tax obligations, thinking it’s clever to do so, while at the same time complaining when they don’t get the government support they think they deserve.

Sounds fair, doesn’t it? It is NOT!

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It’s time to rise up and fight this. Fight it by bombarding your local federal member of parliament with emails and phone calls of anger and protest*. Fight it by joining GetUp. Fight it by joining a union. Fight it by joining in demonstrations when they’re being held. Fight it in any way you can. This situation is obscene.

Low income sick people are desperate. People are sleeping in the streets, homeless. Young people, denied unemployment benefits for up to six months, are turning to crime and selling drugs in order to make some money.

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The answer is that the tax laws have to be tightened so much that it becomes impossible to avoid or evade tax. Jail has to become commonplace for tax avoiders. That includes accountants.

But while ever we have a multi-millionaire as prime minister, who himself arranges his affairs via tax havens to avoid paying his share, what hope is there?

I advocate violence, I’m afraid. We have no other options. Tax avoiders and evaders must be made to live in fear, either of jail or violence. There’s no other way.

The government has a huge debt and a huge budget deficit each year. Competent financial commentators have pointed out many times that if Australian companies were just made to pay the tax they rightly incur in this country, that debt and deficit would be wiped out at a stroke. Instead, the government attacks the poorest and lowest income people. This is the Liberal Party, folks, that corrupt organisation. Google Parakeelia.

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* See The Guardian’s article today “Centrelink staff told not to fix mistakes in debt notices – whistleblower”. It’s incredible, but it’s true, independently verified. Even if errors are found in Centrelink assessments, staff are being told they are not to be corrected – it’s up to the person who’s received the demand notices to find the errors and prove they are wrong. Meanwhile the debt collectors are told to go ahead.

This is hardly believable, except that it’s true. A government department, led by that wonderful Fuhrer Hank Jongen is deliberately trying to fraudulently extract money from low income and unemployed people, and aged pensioners. How low can this nasty Liberal government sink?

These are the five fraudulent things Centrelink is doing:

  1. Doubling Income: A person’s entire income from the same employer is doubled up or certain parts of their income are duplicated, like leave and termination payments.
  2. Non-Assessable Income: Items are included as income that should not be counted, like expense reimbursements and some paid parental leave payments.
  3. Fictitious Payments: The system is generating debts based on payments that Centrelink never made. It’s even possible to have a debt claim larger than a person’s total Centrelink payment.
  4. False Recovery Fees: Recovery fees are regularly being applied when they shouldn’t and can be much larger than the set fee of 10%.
  5. Corrupted Review: Compliance officers are directed not to fix these errors, even when they have the evidence, and their work is rejected when they do. Even on appeal, errors will only be corrected if the person specifically identifies them, which can be nearly impossible.Email your MP using the link in the article, please! We must fight this.

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This is not so much a coincidence as a surprising revelation. While I was in Bali a couple of weeks ago I bought a nasal decongestant spray, Bayer brand but made in Indonesia, called Afrin. I’d never heard of it before.

Watching an episode of The Big Bang last night, the wine tasting episode, the cast are commenting on the bouquet of the wine, when Leonard says, “All I can smell is my Afrin.” (He’s got sinus problems.) I never knew what that meant.

So now I know, Afrin is a common brand, sold in the USA, not just Indonesia. I can hardly detect any smell from it.

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Another funny revelation: for the past year or more I’ve noticed a name of a modem near me in the list on my wi-fi connection. It’s “DicksOutForHarambe”. Isn’t that a strange name for a modem? Someone has imagination around here, but I wondered what it meant.

I learnt the other day that Harambe was the name of the gorilla in the US zoo which was shot and killed because it snatched a child who had climbed into its enclosure.

Why “DicksOut” I have no idea. It’s certainly a unique name, anyway.

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I’m writing this at 6.15am and the damn dogs next door are barking their heads off already! They bark from dawn until late into the night. There’s hardly a 20 second period without barking. This is driving me nuts! The owners are out all day and often until late at night. Not once have I ever heard them trying to quieten their dogs.

A friend put me onto a City of Vincent idea, an anonymous card to put in their letterbox saying very politely that there’s a problem. It’s a downloadable pdf file to print out.

I can’t be the only one angered by this – I’m on the west side of their house while the dogs are on the east side. The neighbours on that side must get it worse than me. I think I should go and knock on their doors and perhaps get some group support.