First world problems

032 SHB+OpHse at nite

Guess where and when.   © PJ Croft 2017

Sigh! What a frustrating day. Not serious problems in comparison to other people, hence the title, but it had me hissing and spitting.

Mainly, I’ve had a new phone on order from Kogan. The tracking advice showed it at Clarkson Post Office, 5km from here, at 0753 yesterday (Monday). So I stayed home all day waiting for the delivery. Nothing. No delivery. A day wasted, almost. Not wasted, but I had things to do.

So this morning I had to go out for a doctor’s appointment and a couple of other things. I got home at 2pm to find a card under my mat that a delivery had been attempted and I wasn’t home. My parcel could be collected at Clarkson Post Office. I’d just come from there!

I had a short rest, made a list of prescriptions to be filled, then went back to Clarkson PO. There was no parcel there! Where is it? It’s in the delivery van, but the van won’t be back until after 5pm and they close at 5. Grrrrrr.

Then I headed home again but realised I’d left my new prescriptions from this morning at home. Duh. So I was too tired by then and went home again.

I’m finding that this home delivery of goods by transport companies (or Australia Post) is a dud deal. I hate it. So many times this same situation has happened – I wait all day and it doesn’t come, then I have to go out and it comes, but they don’t leave it.

They have my details, my phone numbers, my email address – why can’t they contact me to tell me they’re coming???? Send me an SMS!! Don’t waste my time.

Speaking of which, what a waste of their time and fuel. They don’t seem to care that they’re making wasted journeys. I think a written complaint will have to be made. This is crazy.

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This morning I went to Woolies (mistake!) looking for salt water soap and shampoo for a friend. Waste of time, Woolies couldn’t help. Didn’t even know what I meant.

So while I was there I bought a few things (you can see what’s coming, can’t you?). I went through the checkout and as always, I immediately checked my docket. Six items, and a glaring error. A roast pork dinner, directly above a yellow $7.50 Special sticker, charged at $9.99! Woolies struck again. I went back and complained. She went away and checked it and came back with another yellow Special sticker for Shredded Pork at $9.99.

Well, I swear the one I picked was marked at $7.50. I wouldn’t have chosen it at $9.99. There was a $2.50 price difference between roast pork and shredded pork. So I said, No, I don’t want it, and got a refund. But Woolies strikes again! They are out to rob you. DON’T SHOP AT WOOLIES!

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Drove home and saw two cars, one behind the other, both with only one brake light out of three working. Then two more at intervals with one brake light failed. It is chronic. People don’t check their brake lights, but what can we do?

Similarly, I’m thinking of going to the police and asking, “Do we just have to accept the incredible noise produced by motorbikes, usually, with chopper-style exhausts, that is non-existent mufflers?” It is chronic around here. This an area where that kind of thing is considered macho.

In fact, I’ve often thought I don’t fit in around here:

  • I don’t wear high-viz work gear
  • I don’t wear a checked shirt hanging out
  • I don’t have tattoos
  • I don’t have piercings
  • I don’t drive a 4WD
  • I don’t have a loud exhaust.

Gee, makes me feel kinda inadequate.

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I’ve just finished my latest Robert Goddard novel, The Ends of the Earth. Terrific. It’s the last of a trilogy, one of those big, thick books. This guy is prolific. He seems to publish at least a book a year and the list is about 25-30 so far. I’ve read nearly all of them, but I pass them on to a friend. Highly recommended. I nearly always learn at least one new word, and best of all, because many of them are set in parts of the UK that I’ve visited, I can often visualise the settings. Of course, with Google Earth, we can see it all now, down to the street view. Fantastic. Recommended.

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In fact, I had a dream last night where I was fighting a Russian woman in my bed, and I was yelling Help! Police! (I hope it wasn’t too loud.) Then I reached over (in my dream) and punched her a couple of times – it was a desperate dream. But I woke sharpish – I’d punched my CPAP machine on my bedside cabinet. Ouch! I hurt my hand.

I think it was because there was a Russian woman in the novel, Nadia Bukeyeva, who was a nasty piece of work. It was all a dream, but gee it was real.

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Off to Bali again soon. Yum. I don’t know why but Tuesdays and Wednesdays are no longer the low fare days to fly. At prices of $600 or more, one way going up, they obviously don’t want us to fly on those days. So it’s the weekend. It’s much cheaper coming back, of course. I wanted to use Garuda full fare, but they’ve raised their fares so high ($800 return) as to be uncompetitive. Who do they think they’ll get when you can get a return ticket for around $500 with extra baggage with Air Asia and the others? Similarly, I wanted to use Jetstar, but their pricing is so tricky (leading you on with a seemingly low fare, then loading it up as you proceed) that I give up on them. Fools.

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I need to get to the airport and though I have friends who can sometimes drive me, I don’t like asking. One is very willing, but will be working until a bit too late in the afternoon, and the other’s car is very small and loaded up with tools.

So I’m doing my trick again of renting a car for one day. A Corolla, pick up at 4pm Friday, drive to airport Saturday and drop off before 4pm, $50.33. I reckon that’s half the cost of a taxi. It works quite well. It costs me in time, of course, but I’m rich in time.

Edit: my good friend Keith insisted that he could drive me, saying it gives him an excuse to take the afternoon off working. What about the car full of tools? Needs a good cleanout, he says. Good mate. I try always to repay him in other ways.

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I’ve just heard a news item about the British Airways computer failure that grounded them for three days world wide. I read somwhere that BA outsources their IT to India. That failure, assuming it was in India, cost them more than $100 million, at minimum. That’s an expensive cost for outsourcing to cheap labour.

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Plus ca change

Kiribati

Kiribas, sinking under rising sea levels. Quick, land going cheap.

Things change quickly. I was expecting to meet my Bali visitor at the airport next Tuesday, but unfortunately the Australian Consulate in Bali have refused his visa application. It seems he didn’t supply all the required documentation. Even though he owns a property company, a restaurant and a hotel, they said he hasn’t proved his employment status.

I’ve emailed them and said I’ll verify for him, act as guarantor for him, and I’ll see him back on the plane after his stay, but it did no good. They’re saying he has to resubmit the application with the required information, and that it usually takes 15 working days for a visa to be processed.

He’s got an air ticket for 30 May, returning on 12 June, so I’ve told him to urgently try to change it, preferably for a month later. No reply so far.

That means I’m free to go to Bali in time to meet my lady friend when she gets back from her 8-day cruise. She’s on a small (6 passenger) boat travelling from Bali, east and to the north of Lombok, Sumbawa, Moyo Island, Komodo Island, ending in Flores on Sunday. She’s going to stay on in Flores, she hopes, then fly back to Bali in the following week. We’ll meet up in Sanur. Bagus!!

At first I was a candidate to go on that cruise, but (1) I had my guest arriving, so I would have had to rush back on the 29th or 30th May, and (2) there’s no 240V power on the boat when the sun goes down and the solar panels don’t work. I need 240V at night for my CPAP – can’t do without it. I was willing to go anyway, but after discussion, it was too difficult. Maybe another time on a bigger boat.

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Interesting that a new CPAP is being released by Resmed which is specifically designed for travelling. Yeah! It’s about as big as a 500g tub of margarine and weighs about 700g, complete with humidifier built in. Amazing. But I believe the cost is estimated to be around $2,300!!! That company charges like bank robbers.

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One thing I would have bought if I’d gone on the boat cruise is one of these:

TG4side-by-side-reflection

It’s an Olympus TG-4 camera, TG reminding us of Tough Guy. It’s waterproof to 15m, so my friend could take it snorkelling with her, drop proof and crush proof – you can put it in your back pocket and sit on it.

But the main reason I thought of it is this:

screen-compass

GPS. Many times I’ve looked at my photos after a trip and been unable to remember exactly where a shot was taken. On a cruise through islands, where all coastlines look much the same, I’d want this to locate my photos. I’d also take shots each hour or so to trace my trip.

I’m not on that cruise, but I might buy it anyway. Note that a new model for 2017 has just been released, slightly different to this. I doubt it would have reached WA yet, so …

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I’ve finally bought a new hand phone. I decided on the OnePlus-3T after seeing it consistently top the mid-price phone lists. “As good as an expensive phone for half the price. A bit more than half, $600, but anyway. It’s winging its way from Hong Kong, Kogan tells me. I just hope it gets here before my trip. It’ll be a week tomorrow since I ordered it.

PS: at 09:23 this morning it had cleared customs and was in Victoria, according to the tracking info. Bagus. I’ve just received the new SIM card from iiNet. Luckily I realised it uses a nano-SIM, whereas I’ve only got a micro-SIM at the moment.

It’s going to be a rush to try to get all my contacts transferred over before I leave.

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Another rush job is to either fix a latch on my hard sided suitcase (it’s in pieces, busted), or buy a new case. I’ve been using the same case since my Europe trip in 2008, but it sustained damage right from the very first leg and it’s got a bit worse for wear each trip. I suppose nine years is not bad going.

Sauce for the goose

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Beijing 2014    © PJ Croft 2017

The title is part of the saying, “What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander”, which is a very strange way of saying, “It works both ways”.

What does? Sexist name calling, that’s what. We men would be hauled before the Court of Sexism and finger wagged by the beak if we called women Cutie, or Darling, or Babe.

But I’m being called names like that all the time by female shop staff. I was called “My angel” the other day. I was so surprised I had to comment on it to the woman, asking how she’d like it if I called her Babe or Cutie. She laughed and said she’d be flattered, actually. But she saw what I meant. We guys have to be careful what we say, but I’m being called Darling, My love, Sweetie and such like all the time, I mean all the time. I don’t mind, but nor do I want to be told what I can or can’t say to a woman. Fair suck o’ the sav, babe.

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Have you got your strategy in place if you found yourself infected by that WannaCry ransom virus last week? It wasn’t aimed at Australia so we weren’t affected, but it does happen. When you turn your computer on one morning, you’re confronted by a screen that says all your files have been encrypted and you’ll have to pay hundreds of dollars to get the “unlock key”. Don’t think it can’t happen to you. It can!

What I’ve done is made a complete backup of my C drive to a separate USB drive and disconnected it, plus made a Windows emergency boot disk. That way, if I ever found myself held to ransom, I’d boot from the boot CD, then do a complete reformat of the C drive and restore from the backup.

I must admit I haven’t actually done this to test it — I’d better try it. The other thing is that you’d need to do an incremental backup every day if you don’t want to lose any work, but that doesn’t take long and can be automated. It’s just tedious and can easily be forgotten. It’s the only way to be safe, though, and if you’re running a business, it could save you an awful lot of grief. I find it pretty amazing that most businesses don’t seem to have this type of plan in place, ready for attacks. It’s vital for a business.

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I had my long delayed and long awaited SCGH ophthalmology clinic appointment on Monday and somewhat to my surprise, I was given the all clear. I don’t mean my glaucoma, retinopathy and cataracts have gone away, just that there’s been no change, no worsening. I was kinda hoping that they’d say to get the cataracts done and I’d have a magical improvement in my vision, but the doctor said they are not bad enough to operate yet. No action required. Come back in six months.

Oh well, I suppose that’s good news, but it was a bit of an anticlimax.  Fffft.

By the way, at one point I phoned to ask if my appointment could be changed to another date. I was told no, it couldn’t be brought forward, and if I postponed it, I would have to wait around eight months for another appointment! That’s how far ahead they’re booked. Yowch. This is a public hospital. If it were a private clinic, no doubt it would be much easier.

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There was a discussion of tilted horizons in photos on a blog I read daily last week. I reckon I have a built-in spirit level. I cannot bear titled horizons, especially water. I reckon I can pick 0.5deg. of tilt. The blog writer’s opinion, and I usually respect his judgement, is that the content of the picture matters more than a tilted horizon. Hmmm, but to me a tilted horizon or sloping water is like a pothole in the road that I have to look at and get around before I can look at the content. I can’t bear it.

Above is my favourite illustration of this. I took these shots in a hotel in Denpasar. Disconcerting, ain’t it?

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Another sleepless night last night, dammit. I felt relaxed and near to sleep, but it just won’t come. That means I’ll have to sleep after breakfast today and that will mess up the next night, and so-on. I saw an ad for acupuncture for insomnia (among many other ailments) so I might go along and suss it out.  It costs $118 per session, but if it works it would be worth it.

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I watched the first episode of series three of Fargo last night on SBS. What a strange but compelling series this is. Don’t watch it if you don’t like seeing violence, because it’s bloodthirsty, violent TV, but in an almost cartoonish style. I’d recommend watching series one and two first, to get the sense of what it’s all about. It’s set in Minnesota, which seems to be permanently covered in snow and ice. Brrrr. Good stuff. It’s actually a bit funny at times.

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I got a hurry up from Photobook a couple of days ago, telling me my two vouchers are about to expire. I found my original payment email and it said I have until 21 July, so I emailed them and said, Huh? What’s going on?

They promptly replied and said yes, 21 July is correct, no need to hurry. But then they surprised me by saying I had two other vouchers which were about to expire. I’d forgotten I had them. They kindly extended them for a month for me, so that was good. I reckon they must make a fair bit of money from people paying for vouchers and not getting around to using them. I’ve done it.

That means I have to make two books in about a month. Phew, I usually take several months to do one book as it takes a lot of work, especially proof reading and checking. Little errors constantly creep in. I have to check repeatedly. Off to work I go, as my next trip is coming up soon.

Creeping winter

Bowl black 1

Just starting to notice a bit of cooler weather. The doona is on at night. The windcheater is on in the evening. The patio door is closed after 5pm. The leaves are falling from the street trees. The evening is starting around 5.30pm.

They forecast a 95% chance of rain today. It looked a bit grey at 2pm but nothing happened. Lucky, because I chose to do my washing today. Ha.

5.45pm Ha again! The rain crept up on me. I managed to get most of my washing off the line.

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Eye clinic appointment tomorrow, thank goodness. Something’s not right. I seem to be peering more, and having trouble with bright and dark. I hope it’s the cataracts. I want this over with.

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Yudhie (right) at his restaurant April 2014.

My Bali guest (above right) arrives in two weeks, and will be with me for about two weeks. Should be interesting. This will be his first visit to Perth, but he’s well travelled – he went to Japan last year, so it won’t be a novelty.

I’m not sure what we’ll do for food. I don’t want to eat out every night, nor eat a big meal in the evenings. We’ll see how it goes.

He owns a hotel in Sanur and has offered me free accommodation when I’m there. It’s a bit out of the way, not near the beach and you’d need transport if you stayed there, so I’m not sure, but it’s nice of him to offer.

He surprised me by saying he’s doing exams at the moment for his Masters degree in Philosophy. I’m impressed.

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Have you been watching The Halcyon on ABC1 on Saturday nights? I wasn’t too enthusiastic when it first started as it seemed very low key. But gee, it’s grown on me. What a great show, as only the BBC (or British TV anyway) does so well. They recreate WW2 London scenes so realistically, not that I’d know, but they look real. Still, a lot of London has hardly changed, I presume. You’d need to have watched it from the start, though. It was about episode 6 or 7 last night. Keep an eye out for the repeat when it happens, which, the way things are going on the ABC, will probably start next week.

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One thing I’m noticing on TV shows recently is the use of drone material. It’s obvious when you see shots rising smoothly from ground level (or low down) to heights too high for a crane (by crane, I mean a TV crane, a boom arm). Or where the shot is looking straight down from a fair height, or smoothly tracking around from the air. I’m not criticising – done well, it looks great, but it can also look a bit artificial. It used to require a helicopter, but costs kept the use pretty rare. Now it’s common since drones are so cheap and easy.

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PingKee pork shop

Ping Kee Pork Shop, Penang, Malaysia 1990  © PJ Croft 2017

Penang. I was there for about a week in 1990, and I have the kidney stone to prove it. Not really, but I didn’t realise what dark urine meant and I was lucky the stone didn’t strike until I got home. It got stuck in the ureter and took a year to work its way through. Ow, that was a rotten year. Kidney stone pain every few days, not the full 10/10 but 8 or 9. They had to go in with a probe and break it up in February 1991.

Anyway, I must make another visit. I’m sure it’s got even better in the last 20 years.

Slo-o-o-o-w

Solo dance theatre 245

Ramayana, Solo 1989.   © PJ Croft 2017

Oh, my internet is so slow! I wondered if I’m being shaped again, but no, I haven’t reached that stage yet. Just to get this far on this page has taken about 10 minutes of waiting for various loading processes.

My billing date is the 22nd and I got a message that I’d used this month’s 20GB by the 7th. I paid $10 for another 20GB and it’s almost used up already! In four days! Someone is stealing my bandwidth, I reckon. I’m turning the modem off at night now, and that’s stopped the off-peak usage, but my usage today has been nearly 1GB and I’ve been out most of the day.

Change password on the modem? That might work.

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Another sleepless night tonight. I’m writing this at 2.30am. Took a mild sedative and it hasn’t worked. Basta! Big problem. How come I can fall asleep in daylight, but not at night? Crazy.

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I’ve written before about seeing cars with faulty tail lights or brake lights or both. I happened to follow one with a dud brake light into a car park a few days ago. I went over and said, “You’ve got a faulty brake light there, do you realise?”

The guy looked a bit sheepish and said, “Yeeeaaah, I know.”

Well if you know, why don’t you bloody well fix it? “Cops’ll get you,”  I said. Waste of breath. Idiot. I assert that every time I drive, I see at least one car with faulty brake/tail lights. No-one cares.

I blew my horn at another guy yesterday. The lights turned amber and I had time to stop, but a guy pulled out from two cars behind me and accelerated through the red light. Grrrrr! I blew my horn, but what does it take?

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I bought my first two 4K BluRay DVDs on Wednesday, even though I don’t have a player yet. JB were offering 20% off, so I bought Passengers, that sci-fi one I liked, and Planet Earth II, the new BBC remake in 4K. The quality is supposed to be outstanding.

The prices were less than I remembered – Passengers was $35 less 20%, which includes a standard 2K BluRay disc as well as the 4K disc. And Planet Earth is a two disc set for $40 less 20%. I’ll watch for specials on players as I’ve been told there was a half price player deal at Easter. I missed it.

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The Chump is digging himself a hole to fall into. As the quality news reports are saying, this is beginning to look like tyranny. Like some of the darker episodes of history. Well, many people have not forgotten the tyrants of the past.

Perseverance

Chp Chip Fatt sign

You are warned.  Malaysia  1990  © PJ Croft  2017

A couple of weeks ago I talked about never giving up on getting something to grow. Well, I’ve persisted, with some stumbles at times, I admit, and my flower has survived and grown to maturity. Looking forward to a long bloom.

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Hang in there.  © PJ Croft 2017

Apropos persistence. I got this shot about five years ago in my old house. I was sitting in my usual spot under the air conditioner and felt something brush my arm. Looking around, I saw this.

This gecko must have crawled up the wall outside and through the air hole into the air conditioner. When I turned it on, the gecko got blown out the front and had to hang on like this. When I frightened it, it dropped its tail and that’s what I felt. But it hung on! I gently took it outside and released it in the garden.

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This is crazy. On 13 March I wrote of the coincidence of two separate news events (woman drowning her child; Aussie Eurovision contestant chosen) occurring in one week in the town of Moama in NSW, then soon after finding a video game character called Joseph Momoa. Then soon after that, seeing the announcement of a Disney movie called Moana.

Now, today, it seems that the woman caught with drugs in Colombia is from a South Australian town called Moana.

Someone is making this up.

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How much longer is this beautiful weather going to hang on? Can’t we have some bad weather for a change?  And where’s the wind gone? Perth used to be the Windy City. It’s not good enough.

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My internet billing date is the 22nd of each month. This morning I found I’d used up all my 20GB allowance, on the 6th! I get shaped to 125Kb/s when that happens.

I never used to go anywhere near to using 20GB, rather down near the 5GB end. But month after month I’m approaching or exceeding 20GB and I can’t see why. I don’t download movies or songs. I do download software, and often it will be in the 400-600MB range, but that only happens a few times each month.

I’ve been wondering for some time if I have a bandwidth thief piggybacking on my wi-fi. This extra loading started quite suddenly, I think, more than a year ago. In particular, I can’t make my PC stay off. If I tell it to Sleep, it goes to sleep, then wakes up again straight away. If I Turn Off, it goes off and seems to stay off, but many times I find it’s on again when I wake in the morning. And much of my bandwidth is being used in off-peak hours, i.e. between 2am and 8am. Sometimes I do use the PC if I can’t sleep, but rarely.

I do know that Microsoft downloads and installs patches in the early hours and can wake the PC remotely to do it.

Something’s just occurred to me. I’ve got another desktop PC in the spare bedroom, two laptops that are usually just asleep most of the time and a tablet that is often just asleep. I wonder if …  I think the way to prove this is to switch the modem-router off when I go to bed (it’s next to my bed, because that’s where the phone socket is). Then look at my usage graphs after a few days or a week or two.

Meanwhile, I pay $59.95 for internet service and 20GB a month, but it’s only another $10 to add another 20GB when I run out. Not too bad. I don’t think I’m getting a very good deal from iiNet, judging by ads from other companies offering huge data allowances or uncapped plans for no more cost, or less. Might be time to stamp my foot.

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toyota-mr2-sw20

Toyota MR2 from 20 years ago.

Toyota-S-FR_Concept-2015-web

Toyota SR current model.

Something has gone wrong with car design. Ugh! Ugh! Ugh!