Now I lay me down to sleep


The image above is from the movie Monty Python’s Meaning of Life, which I watched on SBS a few nights ago. I’ve got it on DVD too, and I must have watched it around six times so far. It’s always enjoyable and I get new things out of it.

I picked this image because it was one of the new things I noticed this time through. It’s the sketch where the autumn leaves commit suicide by falling. But, notice the lintel over the columns on the right? See what’s chiselled into it? It’s the word CURTIN, but mirror reversed left to right – Curtin

Why CURTIN? John Curtin was the great Labor prime minister in Australia during WW2, in office 1941 – 1945. He took the office of PM so seriously and it weighed on him so heavily that he grew ill and died shortly after D-Day, the allied forces landing in France.

But why would this name show up in a Monty Python graphic? And why are the letters mirror reversed? The man who drew this is presumably the American, Terry Gilliam. I wonder if I could ask him? Watch this space.


Insomnia is still plaguing me. Sunday and Monday nights were completely sleep free, and yesterday I couldn’t even get to sleep during the day when I tried to catch up. After breakfast this morning I was swaying with fatigue, and I’m happy to say I’ve just been able to get about three hours 10.00am to about 1.00pm. I feel much better now, but that’s only three hours sleep in 48 hours. I’ve found a newspaper ad for a company called Sleep Matters: Insomnia Solutions. Sounds hopeful, I’ll try phoning them.  (I just did. It rang for about 30 seconds, then someone picked up but hung up. Hmmm, probably taking a nap. I’ll try again later.)

Later: the lady phoned me back and was quite pleasant. It turns out that they run lectures on various sleep matters, and the next one is on Saturday 10 February in the afternoon at Hollywood Private Hospital. It’s not specifically on insomnia, but she said it will be relevant and we can ask questions. In fact the sleep doctor giving the talk will stay as long as needed to cover our questions. The lecture is free but they serve coffee, tea and bikkies for a gold coin donation. Excellent. I’ll go.



About three months ago I bought a small digital recorder, shown above, at Target for $39. Various uses, recording dogs barking, for one. It works OK, except for terrible handling noise, and being a bit complicated to use as an mp3 player. But look at those twin stereo microphones. Wow!

Anyway, I was surprised to see it mentioned in Silicon Chip magazine’s Serviceman pages in this month’s issue. A customer of the Serviceman (a guy in Christchurch, NZ who writes the column each month) brought it in with a few problems. (One of the problems is that at $39, any servicing will cost more than buying a new one!)

So the Serviceman took it all apart and was surprised to find (a) those shiny mics are just plastic dummies – there’s only one mono microphone; (b) this lonely microphone is inside, on its side, getting its sound through small gaps in the side, not through the shiny capsules; (c) there’s no isolation of the mic from the case, hence the handling noise; (d) it bills itself as a stereo recorder, but it’s not stereo – there’s only one mic!; (e) it has a socket for an external mic, but even with a good quality stereo mic plugged in, there’s still no stereo; (f) when he plugged an external stereo line in to the mic socket, it had no stereo spread when recorded and played back; (g) even when an external mic was plugged in, the handling noise was still present on recordings.

So summing up, it’s deception all the way. It implies, even though it doesn’t explicitly say so, that it’s a stereo recorder, but it is not! It implies that it’s good for handling while recording, but it definitely is not. If you handle it, you’ll get loud bangs and scrapes.

Since this is its main function, you could say it’s not fit for purpose and return it for a refund, but it’s hardly worth the bother. I leave it untouched on my patio table to record the dog barking, so it’s a clear recording. But it’s clearly deceptive too.

You get what you pay for.



Hot fix


When you’re hot, you’re hot! I can fix anything. My OnePlus 3T phone died last night. Switched it off at 1030pm, put it on charge, but no charge light. Checked the cord and the charger by substitution, they were OK. Still nothing. Wouldn’t turn on either. Dead. Uh oh, warranty job? Left it on charge overnight thinking it might have been too run down. Nope, no good.

Then today I thought I’d try different button combinations. Sure enough, pressing the power button with the volume-up button brought it up in a basic text only, cold-boot mode, offering rescue options. I just selected the simplest, and away she went. Fixed. I wonder how long it will last before it happens again, though.


Hmmm, my hopes for my eyes are not working out so well, so far. I’m finding I have slight double vision, two images slightly displaced. It’s too soon to tell, maybe my eyes just have to adjust?  Or maybe it’s these cheap reading glasses.

As well, I find these cheap reading glasses are sometimes a bit too strong and other times a bit too weak. You get what you pay for. I’ll leave it for a few weeks before I go to an optician for tests.

One thing I forgot to mention is that the intra-ocular pressure, the indicators of glaucoma, have come right down. Before the operations, my pressures were 22 and 23, borderline glaucoma and possibly needing the start of daily eye drops.

But now the readings are down to 14 and 15, quite safe. I asked the surgeon and he said the operations allow a small release of the pressure. I won’t need to worry about glaucoma for some time. That’s good news.


Crumbs, I don’t know how people can watch Pay-TV all the time, I can’t even keep up with free to air. I bought a new TV-HD-DVD recorder before Xmas, and started filling the hard drive in other words. In only a month, I’ve accumulated around a dozen programs waiting for me to watch. For example, the ABC series, The Code. I missed it the first time around, and so I’ve got eps 1-4 stored so far, waiting for me, but will I watch it this time through? I watched the first two episodes of Mars last Saturday, three hours worth, and thought that was all there was, but no, the next two episodes were on last night from 10.50pm to 12.20am, too late for me, so they’re recorded now. There are two more episodes to come, apparently. Phew.


Did you watch The Ghan on SBS? I watched most of the first three hour version a couple of weekends ago, and enjoyed it. Amazing – three hours, uninterrupted, no commentary, no music, just nat sound. A lot of people loved it, although a lot slated it.

But I missed the arrival in Darwin, so when they ran the 17 hour version last Sunday, I watched the last part to see it. Gee, Darwin ain’t very spectacular. There’s almost no station building, just a kilometre long low platform – not even a platform, just a bitumen track with metal steps to wheel up to the train at various points.

The station is a l-o-n-g way from the city, too, away across Fanny Bay in the distance.

I really, really hope they will do the Indian Pacific. That would be much more interesting.


One show I have watched, with enthusiasm, is The Good Fight. It’s about a Chicago law firm, owned by coloureds, and specialising in “fighting the good fight” for the down-trodden. Fantastic! Series one ended a couple of months ago, and series two is on now.


A new way of seeing


Hah, I’ve just had a phone call from a woman saying, so I thought, “This is Orvid Sickness.” Huh? I asked her to repeat. She asked my name again. Eventually I realised this Irish accented woman was saying “Orbit Fitness”, inquiring about the treadmill I bought some time ago.

She said it’s 18 months old and the reason for the call was to try to sell me a service call for $99. Um, no thanks. I only walk on it, I don’t run, so I don’t think the wear and tear is a problem.


That reminds me that I’m fed up with getting robo-calls, i.e. computer dialled, from a Queensland number and a NSW number. Nearly every day, usually twice a day, sometimes three times. My phone speaks the calling numbers, so I just don’t bother to pick up. I suppose if I did answer these obvious charities I could get them to stop, but I hate doing that. So I continue to be annoyed. Duh.


OK, I had the right eye cataract done last Monday 15th, so that’s all done, unless the eyes in the back of my head need doing sometime. I don’t need glasses for distance now, and it feels very strange. But my closeup vision is hopeless and I need +2 reading glasses. The surgeon said I should get new glasses made with a weak correction part in the top half if I want it, and the +2 in the lower half, meaning I would go back to wearing them full time. I’ll give the “chemist cheapies” a good try first while I work out what to do.

The really noticeable thing is whites. So white! I had no idea my natural lenses were so yellow. Now I’m seeing true colours for the first time in many years. Blues are especially noticeable. Wonderful.

The operation was easier and even quicker than the first one. The time on the table was a bit under 15 mins. The anaesthetist wanted an ECG done at midday. That was fine. The eye op was in the afternoon this time, 2pm, and I had no nervousness, no pain. Monday was the cyclone rainy day, so it was raining heavily when I got out about 4pm and it continued. I stayed with my friends at their new retirement village apartment in Jolimont and as tired as I was, going to bed at 9.30pm, I was still awake at 1am trying to sleep, hearing the rain. It stopped about then.


My insomnia continues, in other words. This shows the mattress makes no difference. On Tuesday night at home, unable to read in bed before lights-out due to a glasses mix-up, I turned the light off and lay down. I got to sleep reasonably quickly, so thought that might be it. But last night, following the same procedure, was another battle, reaching about 4am before I dropped off. I can use sedatives but they leave me hung over next day. Still battling on.


My medical issues are just about finished now. Only the leukemia remains, and I am to see the haematologist again on 13 Feb, when we’ll decide whether to have the iron infusion to “wake up” my bone marrow, giving me more energy, to be hoped.

Wow, It’s been a busy year. Gastric band removal in November 2016; gall bladder removal in March ’17; eye problems from around June; bladder infection from June onwards (ignoring symptoms!); collapse at home in October; hospital with sepsis and kidney stone bypass operation; colonoscopy in October; day surgery to get kidney stone out in November; first cataract op on 22 November; second cataract op on 15 January. With haematologist visits in between. Five general anaesthetics and four local anaesthetics in this period Nov 16 to Jan 18. Thank goodness it’s all over. And a rousing thank goodness for HBF! I’m so glad I can afford private health insurance.


Now my car has a rusted out muffler, so that’ll be about $400. On the other hand, I should be very grateful. The cataract operations have cost me nothing, the surgeon accepting the HBF payment and bulk billing me for his office consultations (mind you, they are usually no more than about 10 minutes). That’s terrific.


I’ve signed up for Netflix pay-TV. It seems like a good deal, the first month free and $14 per month for the HD quality feed, unlimited downloads. I want it for the second and subsequent seasons of The Crown, that superb series. I can cancel the membership at any time.

Both my Panasonic HD/BluRay recorder and my LG 4K TV can take Netflix from my NBN wi-fi network, so I’m set like a jelly. I’ve downloaded a few episodes of various series so far with no problems, very fast. I’m 4K right through now, camera, desktop computer, laptop, TV recorder and TV display. As a former TV tech, I’m a quality addict. The quality is amazing, perfection. There are none of the old faults we used to see and accept in analogue days. Perfection.


More later.

‘Appy New Year


If only I could sleep like a dog.

No news is good news. I’ve been quiet but all’s well. But my sleeping is all over the place, and it seems to be getting worse. Almost every night I lie awake until 3am or 4am before getting to sleep, many times not sleeping at all. I then need to go back after breakfast, hoping the sleepiness I feel after eating will do the trick, but sometimes, like yesterday, even that doesn’t work. I lay there yesterday for two sessions of 90 mins each without success.

Yet today, after getting about 4hrs last night, I slept after breakfast from 10.30am to 1pm, and more.

I’ve followed all the tips, darkening the room, (if darkness is so important, how come I can sleep in the daytime?), turning off all electronic devices, leaving them outside the room, and so on. Probably if I ate some carb loaded food late, before bed, that would work, but that’s the way to weight gain in my experience.

Of course, if I got more exercise so that I’m physically tired, that would work, but it’s chicken and egg – I don’t exercise because I’m so tired. I can hope that the haematologist’s plan to wake my bone marrow up to produce more red blood cells in mid Feb will give me more energy. I’ll know soon.


The title is a pun on “apps”. I never had much interest in a smart phone, but I find myself becoming more and more reliant on my phone. The latest is as a controller and viewfinder for a drone. My good friend KG bought me a ‘reasonably priced’ drone for Xmas and you have to scan a QR code in the instruction book to download the controller software. Therefore I had to install a QR code reader app before I could download the controller app. Amazing technology. The QR code was printed small and looked scrappy, but no problem, it worked.


The drone (there are two in the picture, but there’s only one in the box)

I’ve succeeded in getting the drone to fly around the room without a problem even without the controller software, but the idea is that the phone clips onto the controller and shows the output from the camera in the drone and records the video as desired. That’s next on the list after I’ve recharged the lithium-polymer battery from the drone itself by removing it, plugging to into a USB adapter and charging from the laptop.

This is amazing. I don’t know how much this thing cost, but I’m sure it was less than $100 (in searching for that image, I found it cost $69). For that, you get all the plastic parts housing the four propellors and a blaze of LEDs, a high def (720p) colour video camera, the Li-Po battery, and a wi-fi transceiver. The hand held controller has another wi-fi transceiver, two joysticks and numerous buttons and switches, and all the electronics to process all this – a computer in other words. All this for peanuts!

I forgot to mention, you also get a pair of goggles that take your phone and act as a VR viewer (the green thing, bottom left in the picture). They’re moulded plastic lenses, but they’re quite high quality. I haven’t tried that yet. Won’t be long now.


In the past ten days or so I’ve been watching the Netflix series, The Crown. All I can say is WOW! I would give this a rating of 9.9/10. It left me panting for more. It is absolutely some of the best television I have ever seen, utterly spellbinding. It’s the story of the British monarchy from around the time Queen Elizabeth II was born, and covers the death of King George V, the succession of Edward VIII, his abdication to marry Wallis Simpson, the succession of his brother, Liz’s father, King George VI, his death and her succession to the throne in 1953.

Although Netflix is a US company, it’s a British made series of course. This is only the first series, ten one hour episodes. It leaves me panting for the next series, which was released on 8 December. Series three is being made now. Being Netflix, it only comes via Pay TV but I got mine at a friendly DVD shop in Bali, two DVDs at $1 each. My new TV is capable of networking and seeing Netflix. Will I be able to resist until I can get the Bali DVDs? I doubt it. The Pay TV feed will be in High Def as well, whereas the DVDs are fairly poor SD.

A large part of the series is devoted to current affairs of the time, with large parts devoted to Princess Margaret and her affair with Peter Townsend, and Winston Churchill, played superbly by John Lithgow. I can’t cover all the highlights here, all I can do is marvel at the editing and the resemblance of the actors to the real people, and the period cars and street scenes. It’s so true to life.

I could go on, but all I can say is I feel privileged to have seen this piece of television. This is what TV’s all about. It brings history to life. Coupled with the recent eight episode series of ‘Victoria’ on the ABC, I know far more now than I ever did about events that I’ve mostly lived through. If you get the chance, watch it.