Fitting words

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Ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate,
That Time will come and take my love away.
This thought is as a death, which cannot choose
But weep to have that which it fears to lose.

–William Shakespeare – last four lines of Sonnet 64

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Something strikes me as odd about the announcement of the latest missile firing by North Korea yesterday. The N. Korean madmen said it had risen to a height of 3,000Km, and all the ABC news bulletins have repeated this figure.

But hang on. The mean radius of the Earth is 6,371Km.

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That means this missile rose half an Earth radius above sea level. That puts it way above low Earth orbit and above many satellite heights. Notice in the diagram above, on the horizontal scale on the right, 3,000Km above sea level places the missile way, way above the ISS and the Hubble Telescope and in the Van Allen belts. It’s way above being in orbit, in other words.

I think someone’s out by a factor of ten here. I think the missile may have risen to 300Km, not 3,000Km. Other wise it would have stayed up and not returned to Earth. The North Koreans and their Dear Leader with the stupid haircut may be clever, but they’re not able to go that high.  I’m open to argument on this, if anyone knows better.

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I was drying myself off after my shower this morning using a freshly laundered towel, when I felt something drop onto my right arm. I glanced down and saw something black which slid down my arm and fell onto the floor.

I jumped! I don’t have my glasses on, remember. Then I saw it was a bundle of black cotton. It must have been on the towel from the wash. Ugh!

Considering last night while I was lying there in the dark, unsuccessfully trying to get to sleep, I thought I felt something crawling down my right arm which was above the covers …  I had to hurriedly brush that off too. I have no idea what it was, whether it was just my imagination.

It was yet another almost sleepless night last night and I felt very slow and tired on rising at about 7.30am. I had a carbs loaded breakfast and felt very sleepy again by 9.30am, so it was back on the bed for sleep until 11.30am.  That means I only got about three hours total sleep last night, yet again.

Diabetes, heart disease, obesity are all consequences of insomnia. I’ve got ’em all already.

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I’m geeing myself up to do the UK trip, but as I said, if I have this sort of problem while travelling, it could actually be dangerous if I’m driving. Problem.

Post mortem

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That’s it. Bali is dead for me. I won’t be going back for the foreseeable future. There is nothing there for me now.*

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*Except I do have my Balinese friends in Sanur and Yudi’s offered me free accommodation in his hotel after I put him up here at the end of May. That could be nice, but not this year. (And I never say never.)

Yudhie + me-b

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London Greenwich2_orb

Greenwich.   © PJ Croft 2017

So, what next?  I must admit, the last few days have been tough, but I think the best medicine will be to throw myself into planning a UK trip in September/October. I had abandoned the idea for this year, but I may not get another chance, and to be honest, I’ll be saving a few $600 trips to Bali. I don’t need to think of anything else now.

Paris L Bank street_orb

Paris   © PJ Croft 2017

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What’s it like having the NBN? Phwoooaaarrr. Downloads at 25Mb/s happen so fast sometimes a software download is finished before you realise it. I like it. A lot.

I could have streaming internet TV now, but I can’t even watch what I’ve got from free to air. I’ve seen it in hotel rooms, but usually it’s “40 channels and nothing to watch”. The BBC, Asia TV from Singapore and the National Geographic channels are OK, but only if you have nothing better to do. I have a heap of things to do.

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21June16 C

Cosy, eh? My scanning PC. Core i7 from 2009 but still good. Flat-bed and slide scanners have been added since then.

The first is scanning. Finally, my mind is free and I have time and the perfect setup. I kept diaries from around 1993 until about 2012 and I have to reduce them to electronic (pdf) form and get rid of the bulky books. That should occupy me for a few days 🙂

Then I have about a hundred of Dad’s prints and negs, and another hundred of my Brisbane uncle’s to do. Sorry Tom, I’m slow but I haven’t forgotten.

Caught in the act

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This is an odd one.  My computer room has a window looking out on the street from the side, and it’s covered in reflective film so people can’t see in.

I was sitting here at about 1.30pm, when I saw a guy move past my window and bend down to the tap on the outside. He was working away there and I said, “‘Ullo, what’s up?” “Oh, nothing”, he says.

So I went outside and said again, “What are you doing?” Just getting a drink of water, he says. “Oh yeah?” and as he came around I could see he had a piece of hose with a plastic fitting on it in his pocket.

“What are you doing?” I said. “What’s that in your pocket?”

“Oh, I was just getting a piece of hose”, and he pulls it out and shows me he’s cut the end off my hose, with its tap connector.

“Well, put it back. That’s stealing”, I said. He says he just wants a piece of hose. “Well put it back. You can have the bit you’ve cut off. But that’s stealing. Whaddya think you’re doing?” So he puts the connector back on the hose and reconnects it to the tap and leaves.

Crazy. But when I think back on it, he obviously had a knife in his pocket that he used to cut the hose. Maybe I’m lucky he didn’t cut me.

What is going on? Did he just want a hose fitting on a rainy Sunday afternoon and decide to take mine? So stupid that he didn’t think he’d be seen, especially when I was playing music quite loudly? Weird. And a lucky escape, possibly.

 

Again and again

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Isle of Skye, Scotland.   © PJ Croft 2008, 2017

It’s that word again! Moana, moama, momoa, each one is occurring over and over. I can’t remember what article it was, but three days ago a rugby player, I think, was mentioned in a news item as coming from Moana in NSW. That makes the sixth, or is the seventh time in five months. Yet I’d never heard these words before this year.

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Portree, Isle of Skye, Scotland.  © PJ Croft 2008, 2017

Here’s another amazing coincidence: on Thursday I was browsing Google Earth and some of my old video and photos of Portree, on the Isle of Skye in 2008.

Last night, Friday night, a Volvo ad came on TV and shown on the GPS screen of the car was … wait for it … Portree. That astounds me. It’s an obscure little town, yet it crops up in my vision twice in two days. I’m haunted.

It was so windy on that day that although I had my video camcorder (remember those?) on a tripod, the wind blew it over. It broke a piece of plastic off the top, but was otherwise undamaged. My good friend Keith now has that camcorder (Canon HF800 Full HD) and uses it regularly for serious video shooting. He loves it.

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For people like me, the separate video camcorder is a dead duck. I used to have to carry a stills camera and a camcorder, but since stills cameras started being able to record video, I only carry the one now. The video is so good that I don’t feel I’ve lost anything except the weight.

The one thing, I suppose, is that the zoom rate is a bit touchy and hard to control. Yet I can switch the lens to zoom by the focus ring (a big wide band) so it’s OK.

My camera is the Panasonic FZ1000. It’s marvellous:

  • a 1″ diagonal sensor (not as big as APS-C but much bigger than the Canon camcorder had);
  • a Leica 25-400mm zoom, either power controlled or manual as I’ve said;
  • 20Mpx stills, easily good enough for A3 sized prints;
  • 4K video in 16:9 aspect;
  • recording to SD-HC XS cards (I keep a 64GB card in there and never go anywhere near filling it);
  • a built-in stero mic of excellent quality, and a socket for an external mic;
  • built-in flash

Price? $950 approx last year. The Canon HF800 camcorder cost $1300 in 2008. There’s a new Pana FZ2500 model out now, improved in several ways, but it’s $1300.

Full camcorders still have their place. They are optimised for eye level or shoulder level shooting, and have wider range zooms, with finer control. They have variable frame rates and shutter angles, and can usually take two cards, automatically switching between the two when one is full. They also have much better mics and control of audio.

Keith says the one thing he wants is a LANC socket on the camcorder for remote control of zoom and focus from pan handles on the tripod. It’s a must-have for him.

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I had another rotten night of insomnia last night – no sleep at all, despite taking my sedative anti-histamine tablets. I felt reasonably OK when I got up this morning but crashed at 11am and got about 2hrs sleep. How come I can get to sleep in the daytime, but not at night??

It occurs to me that this could severely affect any trip to the UK. At home I can crash any time, especially after breakfast, with no problems, but if I’m travelling and have to check out of hotels, and drive a hire car, that could be a real problem. I suppose one answer could be that I’d be so tired after each day’s walking and sightseeing that I wouldn’t have trouble sleeping. But this could be a deal breaker.

During the 2008 trip, there were several occasions when I was so tired after a full day of walking that I sat down on the bed in the early evening and the next thing I knew it was morning, with me still fully clothed on top of the covers. Instantly asleep. Not even aware of it.

I’ve realised my 2008 passport will have to be renewed. Better get cracking, whether I go or not.

I can see clearly now …

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La Seine, Paris  (C) PJ Croft 2008, 2017

Back again. It’s good to live in a place where you can get prompt medical advice and treatment when you need it. I’ve mentioned my eyes and possible cataracts, and last Saturday a large floater appeared in my right eye. Last Monday I made an appointment with my GP, and saw him next day for a referral to the Lions Eye Institute, the top clinic in WA if not Australia.

I phoned them for an appointment on Thursday (yesterday) and they said “We do consultations on Wednesdays and Fridays. When would you like an appointment?” Oh, uh, well how about tomorrow (Friday). Done! So I had my appointment at 2.30pm today. That’s fast service.

The result? I said that the bleariness in my left eye has slowly improved in the past few weeks but it still seems bleary, and they said, yes, there is a cataract there, and if I want the operation, I can have it, but it’s not needed yet. OK, fine, I’ll live with it for now.

As for the big floater in my right eye, apparently the fluid in the eye is watery when you’re young but becomes more jelly-like as you age. He said a globule of “jelly” has come away and is sort of floating (I didn’t understand this – I may be wrong). Anyway, no need to worry, and it does seem to have reduced a bit in the past few days.

So, after about 1hr 15mins I was on my way. Eyes were dilated, but I don’t have a problem with sunlight and the doctor confirmed that some people do and some don’t. Seems to vary with eye colour, brown being the worst affected. Strange.

But now I’m havin’ trouble reading this screen, so this will be brief.

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College of Arms

The College of Arms, London.   (C) PJ Croft 2008, 2017

At the beginning of the week I had changed my mind about the Europe/Croft Castle trip, one reason being that I was thinking this eye problem would rule it out. But today’s green light has set me thinking again. There’s nothing stopping me doing it now. Hmmm.

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My Dog, I am sick to death of Tour de France cycling, Wimbledon tennis and AFL football!

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It still goes on. I made another visit to my local IGA supermarket yesterday, for the first time in months. I used to have repeated problems with faulty scanning of items at the checkout, so it put me off going back. It was happening virtually every visit, and as usual, the mistakes were always in their favour. It’s so bad that i always check my docket before I leave the store.

Well, I tried ’em again, and guess what. Yes, another giant error. I had two items that had been marked down to $0.99 and they scanned at the original price, $4.75. That’s an error of $9.50. Most people don’t check their docket or even ask for it!

They rescanned them, but still charged me the $1.98 (ie $2). They should have given them to me free, but that’s wishful thinking.

So they’ve lost plenty of business from me, and now they’ll lose even more. The only shop I can trust to get their scanning right is Coles. They’re so reliable I rarely bother to check the docket. Not quite true, I run my eyes over it when I get home.

At last, at last!

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I’m finally on the National Broadband Network (NBN) with a connection to the fibre optic cable network. Notice I don’t say connected to fibre direct. That’s because the cable guy who came yesterday to connect me said, “Sorry mate, you connect by twisted copper to the nearest node.”

What??!! My ISP says I have Fibre to the Home. Nope, they’re wrong. But he said not to worry because they are finding they are getting better speeds over the copper than the fibre. I find that hard to believe.

Anyway, the connection took more than an hour, requiring the installation of a new coax cable from the external box through the wall to a new connector plate on the inside wall. Crumbs! The guy was only 30 and was fit, and had done this before because he just set to it, no need to stop and think. He actually unscrewed and lifted some of my roof corrugated sheeting to get access for his “snake”, standing on the top platform of a 2m stepladder while he was doing it. It was wobbling and I would have been petrified, but he just rode it.

So then he connected his Opticomm modem and then connected that to the iiNet wi-fi modem that had arrived last Monday and said, “Right, I’m off.”

What? What about the rest of it, getting me on-line. “No mate, I don’t work for iiNet, that’s their job. See ya”, pocketing the extra fee I had to pay him (in cash) to do the wall cable and socket job.

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Today I tried to log in to the new wi-fi router with no success. To cut a long story short (phone call 1 = 49 minutes, phone call 2 = about 15 mins) and two or three new user names, SSIDs and two new passwords. I’m finally on. The iiNet support woman was in Capetown, South Africa, by the way. Cherelle.

The first thing I did was run Speedtest. Result – 1.l27Mb/s.  Huh? Same as I had before. Oh, you have to wait 24-48 hours for the speed to come up. Since I’m paying for 25Mb/s, it’s a bit disappointing.

I’ve just checked again – 5.6Mb/s, about the speed I get in my Bali hotel rooms. Patience, patience.

[Tuesday 18 July: speed is now 24.5Mb/s down and 4.9Mb/s up. Bagus!]

I also assumed I’d be getting a VOIP phone in the package – that was definitely my impression. Nope, I have to buy it myself. I can just plug my existing phone into the back of this new modem. That means I have to relocate everything. Tomorrow ….

One good thing – she said I’m due a rebate on my month’s fee for this billing period of $60. Yes, I agree with that.

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Now I hope I can finish fixing one of my other laptops, the one I’m selling.

It was totally screwed up, reaching the desktop, but not allowing anything beyond that. (When I last looked at it before I left for Bali on 3 June, it wouldn’t even power on. Reset button? Nope. Samsung. Not impressed. That’s why I’m selling.)

I had a brainwave – make a Windows Recovery Disk on another of my PCs. I used a USB drive and it took ages, more than an hour.

But eventually I had a bootable recovery USB drive. After finally being able to get into the BIOS to make it boot from the USB source, I plugged it in to the faulty laptop and bingo. It booted and everything was back to normal. I went back to the BIOS to ensure it booted from the hard drive again and restarted. All good.

So I decided to do a complete re-install of Windows as per the Settings menu. It started OK, but I soon found it was downloading a complete new copy of Win10 with all the latest fixes, a 4GB download! Over my slow ADSL connection. Last time I looked, after more than 12 hours it was at only 16%.

I’m hoping now that when I next power this on, it will resume at my new fibre speed.

I’m pretty pleased that I’ve been able to do all this myself, instead of needing to put the laptop in to Samsung for “repair”. It takes me a while to think it through, but I get there. Not bad for an old bloke. 🙂

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Chimp

What a remarkable time we’re going through in this country at the moment:

  • The head of a very high profile government department has been sent “on leave” while something is investigated.
  • Next, one of his deputies is also sent on leave, and subsequently resigns. Both these have to do with inappropriate affairs with junior females.
  • Two executives of the AFL resign, and it comes out that it’s for the same reasons. Unrelated to the first items.
  • One of the highest level Greens Party senators resigns, because someone points out that, being born in NZ, he holds dual citizenship. The Constitution forbids it, so he has to go. He’s been in the Senate for years and is one of the really, really good guys IMHO. Tragic. I think if he renounces his NZ citizenship he should be re-electable.

There’s more but my brain is fried at the moment. Later.