Testing, testing…

Woo hoo, I went shopping yesterday. Why the woo hoo? Well, I only went to Office Works to get some cardboard luggage tag type labels and I found those. But I also bought a USB Port Replicator (which I got at a very reasonable price!):

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and a label maker:

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Why? Well, the port replicator (for a laptop) adds multiple USB sockets and an SD + microSD card reader. I’ve been running out of ports recently and it’s light enough (370g) to take with me when I travel.

The label maker jumped out at me because it makes labels only 3.7mm wide. This is the width (thickness) of slim CD cases, of which I have many! I’ve been looking for a way to make labels for them for ages. As well, its price of $29 was pretty attractive, even if a roll of 3.7mm tape was $24! It’s the old story: sell the razor for $1 but charge $5 for the blades. It can’t be helped.

Think that’s all?

Next stop was Jaycar Electronics to buy two watch batteries ($2.95 each) and while I was there, I had a wander around. Uh oh! Bargain at 5 o’clock, Cap’n.

I went away to Joondalup shops to think about it and guess what? I made up my mind – I bought the bargain:

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Back in the 1980s and early 90s we would have walked over hot coals to get the company to buy one of these for us, so as to diagnose and monitor intermittent faults on the increasingly complex gear of the time. No way, the company never had money for new test equipment. In those days, an item like this would have cost in the region of $15,000-$20,000.

Now I’ve got my own. Price? $749, reduced from $1139. Why do I want it? I’ve been trying to get a 1980s vintage Betacam recorder/player going so as to digitise old tapes before they crumble to iron oxide. One of the machines plays in b/w but there’s no colour; to work on it, I need to look into the guts and that requires a gadget like this.

To think I have my own, personal, digital storage oscilloscope! It’s amazing.

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I filled my car up with petrol last week (the 18th). That was the first refill since 11th December last year – more than two months. Even though I only get fuel economy of around 12.5-13L/100km, I don’t do many kilometres. Those two months included three trips “south”, i.e. to North Beach and Scarborough, half an hour’s drive, but the rest was just around here. And I’ve also found that on a really long drive at high speed, my fuel economy can be as good as 6.5L/100km. So even though this car is not exactly economical on fuel, overall, it’s fine. Bagus.

Oh no!

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See that line of dots with shadows along the median strip, right up to the intersection? Those are pine trees, in what I call The Line of Pines.

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They look a bit spindly in this older photo, but until the past week, they were strong and beautiful.

Until last week —   they’ve been cut down, woodchipped and removed!! Not all of them along Marmion Avenue, but all as far back as that side road just past the truck.

The ones further south are not all gone, but many are. As well, a digger has been in and ripped up many, many square meters of the beautiful lawns near the roundabout.

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I assume this is a road widening, to make two lanes in Marmion Avenue north of the roundabout, but to see those beautiful pines go … It looks as if the place has had a bald haircut.

One point is, how are they going to make two lanes around the roundabout? There’s too little room on the left hand (west) side. Maybe not.

Anyway, it’s the old story, that progress requires demolition. Pity.

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My neighbours’ dogs are barking again. They were going at 10pm last night, but with all the doors closed it was tolerable. Gee, 38C yesterday. I had to use the aircon for a while.

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I’ve finished sending out the email invitations to our next high school reunion on 1 April. This is the year all we former Northam Senior High School friends turn 70. It’s not so bad – I can make that statement from 8 days’ experience.  OK so far, as the saying goes.

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1989 Me, Viv, Alex, Meryl

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2004  I’m on the far left, as befits.

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2007  I was behind the camera for this one.

It’s remarkable how we of the 1960-64 group have stuck together. We’ve had numerous reunions (about four so far, I think, and this will be the fifth) and we’re very much in touch, with many friendships now reaching nearly 60 years. Not many other years have stuck together as we have.

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The doctor has prescribed a different sedative medication to help with my insomnia. Boy, it works well. Even the minimum dose made me so sleepy that I couldn’t shake it off the next day, so I’m breaking the tablets in half. That’s working quite well, but I’m still quite sleepy for the whole morning after I get up, and I still  wake around 2-3am feeling quite alert. The difference is I can get back to sleep easily.

Coincidi

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This is crazy. In my insomniac wakefulness this morning, I was looking at some You Tube video on my tablet. It was a video of a jet fighter cockpit when it had a failure.

This is the crazy bit: at one stage there was a countdown clock on the control panel of the plane. At the very time I was watching, 05:11am, the countdown clock in the plane showed 05:11.

Who is doing this to me??

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I only got about three hours sleep last night, midnight to 02:45am. Gave up trying around 5am. Consequently, when I had my shoulder ultrasound and steroid injection at 9:20am, I was swaying.

It went fine, and the injection was much less painful this time compared with May last year. As the guy said, maybe the needle touched the bone last year. Yes, I think it did, I thought I felt it.

He seemed to use a different technique this time, with a short needle that hardly hurt at all, then attaching a tube and pumping in three different (?) vials of juice. Easy.

Strange clinic. The GP sent me there saying it’s a lot cheaper than Joondalup – that’s for sure – it cost me nothing, compared with $276 last year. But the premises look like a 1960s building in need of repair. There was a thin power cord draped over a door. The ultrasound room was so small that things had to be moved around for the various stages.

And cheapest of all: the sonographer was a middle aged guy! Not good enough, I like the nice ladies.

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Lakes and oceans. Credit: xkcd

With the Marianas Trench being in the news for very bad pollution at great depths, and the Deepwater Horizon oil rig having a movie made about it, and the dodgy California dam at 230m high, this Info Graphic is timely. It’s a pity you can’t click on it to enlarge it, but it’s fascinating.  Look here: https://xkcd.com/1040/  This is a fascinating cartoon site – the guy has a very droll sense of humour. You might be able to see, left of centre, left of the words Abyssal Plain, two little blobs marked David Bowie and Freddy Mercury.

Considering I collected this graphic about five years ago, to show David Bowie down there in the depths is somewhat prescient.

New decade, new dawn

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It was my 70th birthday yesterday, hence the new decade. Many friends (I nearly wrote ‘fiends’) have said how hard it was to think, when we were young, of what it would be like getting old. Like thirty!

Well, the fact is, as we know now, it happens so slowly that you don’t notice too many changes. A few health problems crop up, some a lot worse than others, for sure, but I seem to have escaped relatively easily. I find steps and stairs a bit hard, and sometimes I carry a walking stick if I think it’s going to be uneven ground, but I actually feel a bit improved in this regard recently. Could it be that I’ve been taking CoEnzyme Q10 capsules daily for a couple of months? You can never be sure about these things, but that’s one change that I can think of. Or could it be that I bought a treadmill about 4 months ago and have been using it, moderately?

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Dawn over the port for Saigon.  © PJ Croft 2017

The new dawn is that I’m hoping I was too pessimistic about my Bali friendship failing recently. There are signs of hope. Too soon to be sure, to be sure.

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Dawn from Sanur  © PJ Croft 2017

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I’ve just noticed on Wikipedia: on February  12 in 881 King Charles the Fat, the third son of the late Louis the German, is crowned as Holy Roman Emperor by Pope John VIII at Rome.

Aaah, ya gotta laugh.

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What amazing weather. Roasting heat on the eastern side of Australia, and well below average temps, with record setting rainfall and flooding here on the west coast. This is climate change in action. I’d rather have our problem than Sydney and Brisbane’s. Their high humidity combined with the heat would be terrible. At least our hot weather is very dry heat and quite tolerable.

Toast

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“President Trump, sir, you think you’ve got tiny hands? Check this guy out. This is your personal sheriff doll, Mr President, for you to play with in bed. He shoots Muslims on sight.”

This was on the web yesterday. At first glance, I thought the guy on the right was an admiral in the US Navy, but even an Admiral of the Fleet doesn’t have that many rings on his sleeve. It turns out that this is a gathering of sheriffs, i.e. police. Look at the guy’s uniform! Epaulettes with gold stars, star badge, those six gold rings on his sleeves, gold buttons and that big USA flag badge. Hoo ah. I’d love to see his hat. And he’s only a policeman. These Americans are ridiculous. Even ordinary low ranking soldiers have three rows of medal ribbons on their chests.

However, take a look at our Australian Border Force guys these days. Black uniforms, military style, with gold and silver fittings and badges. Black uniforms were all the rage in Nazi Germany, remember. The government is turning our former Customs and Immigration guys into a quasi-military “force”, with that psychopath Dutton at the head.

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The title above refers to my toaster. (Exciting subject, eh?) It’s a fancy Breville 4-slice machine, and I mean “machine”, because the lift and lower is motor driven. Lovely. I bought it in April last year, partly to impress my new visitor, I must admit.

But yesterday it refused to lift and finish, with the toast down there in the slots getting overcooked. It was just making clicking sounds. I had to hurriedly switch it off at the wall. Oh well, it’s still under warranty, but I’ll have to take it into Myer in the city where I bought it.

However, I tried it this morning after it’s been off for 24 hours and it’s come good. That’s good, but it’s also bad, because it means an intermittent fault which may be hard to demonstrate. We’ll see how it goes. It cost $135, not negligible.

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Another completely sleepless night last night, as is regular now. I was recommended to take melatonin tablets, as there’s no hangover effect, a big problem with the Phenergan I’ve been using. It didn’t work on my first attempt last night. I felt very sleepy and was nearly dropping off, but never succeeded. I felt very rested, but never got to sleep.

At least I got to hear a great talk on Big Ideas, RN, between 3 and 4am, on physics, particles, our universe and the possibilities of multi-universes, and what might happen if any of the many physics constants were even slightly different to the value we know. They pointed out that there are quite a few numbers in physics which are hugely important, such as the speed of light and the mass of the electron, but we have no idea why the numbers are what they are. Why is the speed of light 2.99792458 x 10e11 m/s? Why not 3.0000 exactly? Why not 5.00001? We have no idea.

[Actually, it could be 3.0000… exactly if the definition of the metre was changed. We define the metre as the reciprocal of the velocity, how about that? We could choose some other definition, as we used to until 1983. I think I dispute the basis of the question. Similarly, we talk all the time in terms of years, which is simply the time taken for one rotation of our Earth around our star. But to some other life form, our year might be exceedingly long, or short, by many orders of magnitude perhaps. We tend to think other worlds or galaxies must measure time in units like ours. Why should they?]

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So it’s back to the winter weather. What a strange summer. I’m not complaining, not at all. No need for air conditioning. I’m even having to use a bit of hot water for my showers on some mornings! No need for sprinklers either.

I’ve just been out to the garage at 5.30am to lift an IKEA box off the floor in case any rainwater gets in under the roller doors. If even a little bit of water gets into particle board, it swells and distorts and is ruined. I was lying there sleepless, thinking about things I have to do, and the IKEA Billy bookcase flat packs came to mind.

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I was talking to a mate about broadband internet speeds, i.e. lack of, and thought I’d check, just now. My speed is 1Mb/s or less. Not good.

However, I checked iiNet’s plans and found that they know about Opticomm, which pre-cabled this estate with fibre when it was developed in 2004, and I can get FTTH, fibre to the home! Hoo-bloody-ray. At last. And I can even have the 100Mb/s top speed, with a 500GB allowance per month (I presently have 20GB) for about the same price as I’m paying now for ADSL 1Mb/s. I think I’ll sign up asap.

I never got around to doing anything about buying that new phone that I mentioned last week. Another model caught my eye and seems better, and distracted me. Must do it.

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I had a very nice comment yesterday from a lady I don’t know, about my blog post on kookaburras at the Trigg house in 2012! She also has kookas coming to her back verandah and found my post about mine. Crumbs, the internet is forever.