Eureka!

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Can it be? I think I’ve found the reason for my insomnia – Tramadol, a drug I’ve been taking for the diabetic pain in my feet. I’ve said the insomnia has been slowly increasing over the past five years or more, and so has my use of that painkiller.

I’ve dropped it entirely now and I’ve been sleeping properly for the past week or more. Thank goodness! It was a major problem for me, really serious. Insomnia is not considered a major side effect of the drug, but it is there in the list.

I’m just using Panadol now and it seems to be enough.

snoopy

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I’m seven episodes into series two of The Crown on Netflix now. What a magnificent production! The casting is near perfect, all the actors seeming to resemble their characters and Clare Foy, playing Queen Elizabeth, conveying all the majesty and authority of the position. Matt Smith, the former Dr Who, plays Jookembra to a T. The Duke of Windsor character looks very much like the real duke.

Last night’s episode was about the former king’s dalliance with the Nazis before and at the start of WW2. I didn’t really know this, or the details of why he lived in Paris for the rest of his life. That’s the thing about this series: I’ve lived through it all, but I’ve never been clear about a lot of the history. The Suez crisis for example: I’ve always known about it, but only sketchily. Now I know.

Anyway, when this comes out on BluRay, I think I’ll buy it because I’ll watch it again. There are ten episodes per series and there are two series made so far, with series three being released in March. Thirty hours of top class TV, and it hasn’t even finished. There will be a series four, for sure.

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Christo gun

This, ladies and gentlemen, is a member of the Australian Parliament. A member of the Nationals party. He thinks it’s a joke, that we shouldn’t take it seriously. It’s disgusting.

I wouldn’t call myself a greenie, but I support environmentalism and admire the Greens party members. He’s aiming at me, in other words.

A female member of the Greens party has shown a Twitter message she’s received after this which is too vile to be shown here (warning). It’s not worth repeating, but there’s no doubt that the man who sent it wasn’t joking.

Coupled with the poor behaviour of the leader of the Nationals, what a disgrace they are. The coalition are crumbling, disintegrating. As a political commentator said last week, all Bill Shorten and Labor have to do is sit back and watch, and turn up on voting day.

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Ironing’s done

 

Java10 Borob CU

Borobodur, Java

I had an iron infusion this afternoon. It’s part of my treatment for CLL, my iron levels being marginal low. Tired all the time. All my other tests were fine, so there’s nothing major wrong, but we’re hoping this will boost my energy levels.

Crumbs, it was a big 300ml bag of dark brown fluid and it looked like an infusion of Guinness. Wish it was. I felt nothing except a strong need to face North when it was finished. I guess I’d better keep clear of MRI machines and magnetic strips for a while 🙂

The haematologist said he’ll want to work out where the iron has gone if it’s low again at the next test in three months. That might mean a gastroscopy or (another) colonoscopy, or even swallowing a camera. Yeah, a colour TV camera small enough to be swallowed, that transmits to a recorder outside the body as it goes through the gut. Amazing.

This was at Joondalup Hospital on a 37deg day and when I was leaving, I had to walk a fair way to the parking pay machine, then a fair way back to my car, only to be unable to find my keys. Gah! I figured they must have fallen out of my pocket in the chair while having the infusion, so I tramped all the way back in the heat. Nope, no keys by the chair. Then I felt in my pocket again and there they were, deep down under my hankey! Grrr.

But it’s an ill wind … as I was leaving, the receptionist said it’s lucky you came back, because she forgot to get me to sign the HBF costs form. Yep.

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King’s College Cathedral, Cambridge   (C) PJ Croft 2008, 2017

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I’ve signed up for Netflix pay-TV, (something I never thought I’d do, pay-TV that is). I dragged my feet setting up the network connection because I could get it on the laptop, enough to check it out. The first month was free anyway.

A few mornings ago, I set up the network connection on my DVD-HD recorder, which is specifically sold as Netflix compatible, as is my TV. After a hassle with my N/F password, I was in like Flynn.

Well, not bad! I mainly wanted Netflix for The Crown, that magnificent production, and there it is, including series 2, which I’m watching most nights. It’s in High Definition and the quality is fine. When I first connected I was asked if I want a 4K connection for another $4 a month, on top of the $13.95 I’m paying now. Although I have 25Mb/s NBN, that’s not enough for 4K. Anyway, the quality I’m seeing in HD is fine.

I can hardly believe this: High Definition colour TV seemingly appearing from nowhere (i.e. not from an antenna), just by a radio transmission from the front room of my house to the recorder, which has no visible wi-fi antenna. Free of dropouts, completely reliable. Bazinga.

But wait, there’s more. On flicking through the available network channels, I found the Berlin Philharmonic channel. Amazing – hundreds of classical music performances by the BPO and other performers, thousands of hours, in HD and 5.1 stereo if you can use that. The only drawback is the cost – a bit over $22 per month, or $222.40 per year. I suppose that’s not too bad. You can also buy a week or a month at a time. Special live performances cost extra as well, as much as $40 for one evening’s concert.

I’m not sure if you can record this, or Netflix either. Many of the BPO live concerts start at 02:00 our time, so …

Yup, another year

Me train veranda

Who’da thought that Laughing Boy here would be 71 now?  (About 1951, age 4)

It’s that day again, 12 February. My 71st birthday. There’s nothing to distinguish this milestone except that I’m here to write this and it’s a prime number. Primes somehow seem ugly to me: 6 is neat, curvaceous, but 7 is boring, just two strokes. Oh well.

I’m writing this at 4.30am after another fruitless attempt at sleep (why do we say fruitless? I wasn’t seeking fruit). My sleep has been very erratic recently, many nights of fairly normal sleep, such as Saturday night, but then it’s back to insomnia again. Some days I sleep to excess.

Oh, damn!! I just remembered, there was a lecture about sleep disorders on Saturday and I forgot all about it. Damn. There doesn’t seem to be any cure for insomnia anyway, just the usual strictures about “sleep hygiene”, darkening the room and so on. How come I can drop off easily during the day when the room is quite bright, but not at night when it’s dark?

Anyway, I heard recently that kiwi fruit are a good sedative food, so I’ve just had one. Not tired yet.

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I’ve been watching repeats of the US TV series on SBS, The Good Fight. It’s about a firm of lawyers in Chicago (who are almost all “people of colour”) who take up good causes, like union fights with employers. It’s good enough to watch twice, at least. I was hoping it was a second season, but no. Maybe that will come after the re-runs.

Anyway, the title’s been making me think: every series seems to play on The Good… for its title these days. As well as the above, we have The Good Doctor (on 7), The Good Wife, The Good Place, and I’m sure I saw The Good Men the other day. Not much imagination.

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I watched a BluRay movie the other night called Life. Although it’s action packed and with fantastic sets, it’s just another take on Alien: a spacecraft returns from Mars and docks with the International Space Station. It brings a sample from Mars which seems to be a life form. Of course, they rush the examinations and it turns out to be growing exponentially, enough to grab and crush the tech’s hand and get out of the containment by breaking through his glove. It escapes from the isolation lab and starts killing the astronauts. It looks like an octopus.

All kinds of mayhem occurs until there are only two people left, a man and a woman, naturally. They realise they have to stop it from reaching Earth, so the guy sacrifices himself by luring it into his escape capsule with him, which he launches on a trajectory out into deep space, while the woman re-enters Earth’s atmosphere. Or does she? The capsule splashes down in the ocean somewhere near Thailand, by the look of it, but when the fishermen start to open the capsule door, we see that it’s the guy in there (there’s been a mixup) and he’s in the grip of the evil octopus and is pleading with them not to open the hatch. In vain, because they do open it. The end.

Very good space station shots, but the story line? Rubbish. Another Alien. Pah!

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My eyes have settled down with their new lenses, but I’m afraid my distance vision is not as good as it was with glasses before my cataract operations. I can do without glasses for most things, including driving, but ironically, I can’t see all the detail that my fantastic 4K TV displays. I watch without glasses as my +2.0 reading glasses are not effective at the distance from the screen, but that distance is either too far or too close, I’m not sure. I’m sure I’m not getting the benefit of my luxurious ultra hi-definition screen, though, dammit.

I’m also noticing slight double vision. Typing this, wearing my reading glasses, I’m seeing a faint repeat of the text a millimetre above and slightly right of the main text. The surgeon said I have strong astigmatism, and suggested that needs further correction. In any case, I think I’ll have to go back to wearing bifocals full time. Not yet, I’ll give it more time, but…

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With all the talk about having strong passwords these days, I started using a new password keeping program a few months ago, Dashlane. I’ve been using a program called Portable Safe for many years and it’s good, but Dashlane got such good reviews that I thought I’d try out the free version. Its strong point is that it recognises any place where you’re required to type in your name and/or email and any other data and supplies it, and offers to insert the password as well in the required field. It works very well. But when you don’t have to remember or look up passwords, you forget them!

It’s like the evil octopus in that movie, it gets a grip on you and you realise after a while that you have to keep using it. It offers to generate passwords for you, very strong ones, and once you’ve done a few of these, it has its grip.

In fact one of its features is that it will change every password for you to a new strong one with one click. I have over 200 passwords. If I use that feature, I think I’m locked in.

It stores all your passwords encrypted in “the cloud”, which is good, so when they offered a three computer licence for about $15, I took it. I’m hooked now.

It’s pretty easy to use, and works as advertised. It does save typing, and remembers numbers and such, so I recommend it.

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I mentioned getting a new exhaust. Of course, the complete exhaust needed replacing, not just the muffler. $550! Yow! It was last replaced in January 2013 (in the midst of all my stressful moving house) and I’m pretty sure I remember it costing about $400 then, maybe $450. That’s a lot of price rise for five years. Can’t be helped.

Then I asked them to check my tyres (silly boy!). Two needed replacement, so that added to the bill – about $850 total. Urrrgh. Owning a car is expensive, but not having one is unthinkable. I might be banned from driving for medical reasons one day, so I’d better think about it.

Super Moon Eclipse etc

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Did you get a good view of the Triple Whammy, the Super Blood Blue Moon Eclipse? I went to what I thought would be a good viewing point, Neil Hawkins Park, overlooking Lake Joondalup. It would have been a great shot, except that I misjudged the time it would take to get there. When I arrived, the moon had already risen quite a way above the horizon. I have to confess that the shot above is a composite of two shots, a wide angle of the reflection on the lake, and a close up of the moon placed into the frame.

There’s a small wooden jetty out over the shore of the lake, and for some reason I thought I would be the only one there. Hah! The rail of the jetty was full when I arrived, but luckily a few people moved away and I was able to get a front row spot. But I was a bit late, so after a while I moved back to the shore and found a seat, where I stayed until the totality of the eclipse at 8.51pm.

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Eclipse totality.   Panasonic FZ70 1200mm  ISO800  f5.6 ¼sec

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Who says a Blue Moon isn’t blue?

I packed up at that time and went home. The moon was still emerging from the eclipse when I got home, as seen from my backyard. I’m glad I went, it was a good night.

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How about this? I saw one of these parked about 1km up the back streets from my place.

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Lotus Evora

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The one I saw was red (of course).  It’s not my style, too extreme, but someone in this area had enough cash to buy one. Unless he’d just asked for a test drive.

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I’m sitting here waiting for the window installers to come. They said they’d be here from 8am to 10am to do the job, i.e. fitting a replacement window for the one that was damaged when the cops broke into my bathroom last October, when I had the collapse. But at 9.30am they haven’t arrived, or called. Humph!

PS: they arrived at 12:00 noon. Although I deduct marks for lateness, after 1½ hours the job was finished, and it’s excellent. The finish is immaculate, except for some broken tiles on the floor where it meets the window. That will be a separate job for a tiler. (To make it easier, I’ll tell him I won’t mind if we use a different tile shade.)

So that’s nearly all done, then. I’ve got a key safe on the outside now, so they won’t have to break in again.

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I called in to the K-Mart auto repair shop the other day to see about getting a new muffler or exhaust fitted to my car. I was pleasantly surprised when the guy said I’d be better off going to Joondalup Exhausts in Joondalup (natch). He said they have a big range of hardware in stock, and K-Mart gets their parts from them anyway. And they would be cheaper. That’s a refreshing change, a bit of honesty and frankness. Much appreciated.

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My eyes have settled down and it works out that I need +2.0 diopter reading glasses for close up, and nothing for distance. It means that I have my reading glasses on a cord around my neck, and perched on the end of my nose when I need to look over them. It’s not that comfortable, but it works. Walking around the supermarket is a matter of glasses on/glasses off, I’m afraid. I’ll have to get used to it.

The alternative is paying for a new pair of glasses to wear full time, with top half clear and bottom half +2. I’m not sure yet. I’ll try the cheap, chemist specials for a while yet.