Snap!!

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I’ve written before about coincidences and how I seem to be prescient, thinking of things or events before they happen. Well, I had a beauty yesterday.

During the afternoon I was browsing my music collection on the PC (using the Helium cataloguing program) and happened to choose to listen to Beethoven’s Symphony no. 1. No reason, I just thought I hadn’t heard it for quite a while so I listened to it all the way through.

Then last night I was editing the recorded TV programs on my hard disk recorder. One of them was a movie from SBS the night before called Bad Words (an American movie about a spelling bee – it doesn’t matter). I started to play it and what should the music under the opening titles be? Beethoven’s Symphony no. 1. I shook my head in disbelief. This really is weird. There is no link, no way I could have accidentally known or heard this movie’s start. I shake my head in amazement.

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Beethoven’s symphonies are such a treasure and the sequence is so interesting. I’ve been listening to them for more than forty years and never grow tired of hearing them. At one stage in my twenties I used to be able to recall the opening bars in my mind of each of the nine symphonies. I can’t do them all now, but certainly I can still remember the best known ones.

Numbers 1 and 2 were written when Beethoven would have been hearing Mozart’s works. Beethoven was 21 when Mozart, who was 15 years his senior died and Beethoven must have been heavily influenced by him, so his symphonies 1 & 2 owed something to Mozart, although they show distinctive touches of Beethoven’s gift for melody and are delightful to listen to.

Then he broke the mould, defying the conventions with the great Symphony no. 3, Eroica, the Heroic. This was new music, owing nothing the the style of Mozart or any of the other past composers. It introduced discordant notes and powerful emotion, something new to his audiences. He still had his hearing and knew exactly what he wanted to say. The audiences were shocked at the time, but the music has more than stood the test of time. This is my favourite of the symphonies and I must have listened to it a hundred times or more in the last 40 years, always finding something new or familiar. I never tire of it.

Number 4 was something of a return to the Viennese style, more dance-like, as if to atone for his blasphemy and once more appeal to his audiences. After all, he depended on his concerts and music sales for his livelihood.

Then came the famous Symphony no. 5, the best known opening in the world’s memory: Da Da Da Daaaaah, Da Da Da Daaahhh. This once again broke new ground and was unlike anything ever written before. Its enduring popularity after 300 years testifies to its greatness.

Again in symphony no. 6 he returned to a quieter style, naming it the Pastoral, evoking scenes in the country, blue skies, birds, a lovely dance, a passing storm then a peaceful ending.

Symphony no. 7 is something of an odd man out in the sequence, somewhat bombastic but full of melody, yet not as memorable.

Symphony no. 8 is one of my favourites, especially the second movement, marked allegretto scherzando, dancelike, almost metronomic in its rythm.

Then comes the other contender for most famous, the great Symphony no. 9, universally known as Beethoven’s Ninth. It consists of five movements, whereas all his previous symphonies had only four, and introduced the human voice with the orchestra for the first time in a symphony in the famous and well known final movement, subtitled Ode to Joy. By this time Beethoven was almost totally deaf, yet he could write this, hearing it only in his mind and transferring the sounds to musical notation on paper. To me the third movement, adagio molto e cantabile is one of the most sublime pieces of music ever written.

No-one writes music like this, as great as this any more. Why? What was it about the period from about 1685 to 1950 that produced so many geniuses and prodigies, writing so much great music? Why has it stopped? Will we ever see or hear anything like it again?

Arguments invited. On a postcard please, with a money order for $10. 🙂

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I finally got around to installing four IKEA CD towers a few days ago. I’m ashamed to say that they sat there for more than two years, waiting to be screwed to the wall and the shelving to be inserted. I have trouble getting up the step ladder these days, but I got a burst of energy a few days ago and now it’s done, helped by having a small impact drill. That makes all the difference when drilling into brick. Zoom, like drilling into butter, and the drill point doesn’t have time to wander.

But I’m a bit frustrated – IKEA’s famous quality control seems to have slipped a bit. I bought these four towers at the same time, but I’ve found that two of them are different to the other two:

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Notice how the hole size is different? The one on the left’s holes are smaller than the ones on the right, and you can see by the size of the pins. The left one is half thin, half fat, the right one is all fat. All the small holes had to be enlarged to take the pins! They were too tight to just push in. Luckily I have a tapered reamer that I could twirl with my fingers because there’s no way to get a drill in there. It was very tedious. Luckily I had just the right number of pins of each size with a couple of spares.

Also, these cabinets are described as “Black/brown” but I’m damned if I can see any brown in there. They used to make a “Red/brown” which was about the colour of jarrah, very nice, but they stopped it many years ago. I don’t like this black colour – I chose it because these are against a dark blue wall, but I wish I had bought white now. Bit late.

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The saga of the Honda MDX radio reception continues. I measured the continuity of the connection between the antenna on the roof and the plug in the dash the other day and it appears to be open circuit, dammit. I tried to see where the wire from the roof would come down the body side channel by removing a rubber coupling but no luck, you can’t distinguish any wire from any other.

I suppose the simplest and most likely explanation would be a break at the plug itself, behind the radio. That’s where the most stress and movement would be. I have yet to check it. Watch this space.

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Tenth Anniversary

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Around 2001.

I just realised it was ten years in May that I started this blog, 24 May 2009. I’m up to 1,057 posts so far and I don’t see myself stopping. Happy 10th birthday, me.

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I’ve just done a 1hr drive each way to drop off the trike (the adult three wheeled tricycle) to its new owner in Alfred Cove. It turned out to be an Indian lady, mid to late 50s I’d guess, and what a warm reception I got. She was very pleased with it and once I’d tightened everything and pumped up the tyres to her satisfaction, she got on it and rode it around her front yard straight away.

She was very grateful for my trouble in delivering it and gave me a big, warm, cheek to cheek hug. Very gratifying. I was worried she wouldn’t be able to ride it as she has some minor disability, but she was fine.

Funny, I thought I was talking to a guy on Facebook, by the name of Aman. But it wasn’t a-man, it was A-woman. 🙂

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There’s talk of making long service leave “portable” at the moment, meaning that if you’ve accumulated, say six weeks with employer A, on your way to 13 weeks after 10 years, then change jobs to employer B, you should be able to carry over your six weeks accumulated to your new employer. And so on.

Now, everyone knows I’m a union guy and all for long service leave, but this is ridiculous. Long service means what it says. It means a reward for loyalty over the ten years, or 15 years as it was under the TV Industry Award.

But if you change jobs part way through, then you haven’t given long service. How can you expect new employer B to pay for the time you accumulated with employer A?

And if I were employer B and I found out you had all this leave owing that I was going to have to pay for, I would think twice and three times about taking you on.

Besides, where’s the incentive to stay on and give loyal service to your first employer? This is a ridiculous idea and should be stomped on. More annual leave, sick leave, study leave, bereavement leave, parenting leave, fine, but not this.

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AC racing + ship Jan87G

Americas Cup 1987  © PJ Croft 2019

Still no radio reception on the new A/V radio in the Honda, dammit. I thought I might have failed to push the antenna plug in far enough, but a check when I got home showed it was in. I’ll have to check the continuity between the antenna on the roof and the antenna plug at the radio end in the dash. Not hard to do. I hope it’s not a fault in the roof lining somewhere, or the door pillar channels. Watch this space.

I’ll have to get a wheel alignment check too. The whole car vibrates, although not the steering wheel, and I can hear a swish swish in the tyre sound.

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I’m back to having a bit of insomnia, not as bad as the epidemic up to last year but enough to be annoying. I get to sleep fine withing 10 mins or so, but wake again around midnight for some reason and have trouble dropping off again.

However, my reason for writing this is that I’ve discovered a nice source of relaxation sound. On DAB+ digital radio, the ABC has a lot of channels and the one next to ABC Perth 720 is ABC Kids.

During the day they play PlaySkool type music, but I’ve realised that after midnight (I’m not sure when it changes) they play non-stop ambient sounds with added musical instruments. I mean it’s trickling streams, the sound of small waves on the beach, the sighing of wind in the trees, a waterfall and so on. Mixed in are long single notes, sometimes changing pitch, sometimes dualled with some other instrument, flutes, oboes, clarinets and so on, sometimes electronic. Very slow and repetitive, ideal for meditating and relaxing. I find it works. I leave it on, quietly playing and I soon drop off. Recommended.

Aced it!

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Sometimes you have a win. Behold my new Pioneer AV CD Radio in the Honda. It’s taken about a week, getting the old unit out, getting new mounting plates and fascia (the surround to match the Honda’s shape and colour), getting a wiring harness to mate with the Honda, then cutting and joining all the wires (about 16), hoping I’ve got them matched up. Then checking carefully.

I need to drive it on Tuesday, so I put it in this afternoon. Bingo. It worked first time. What a relief. Still, it should, because I was careful. It’s not completely fixed in yet because I still need to connect the USB cable to the back. Annoyingly, there’s no USB front socket, so I’m going to have to carefully cut a rectangular hole in the car’s fascia somewhere to mount the USB socket I have on order. And the green wire is supposed to go to the handbrake (or in this case the footbrake) which stops you playing DVDs when the brake is off, ie while driving. I’ll do that tomorrow, but I might just ground it and to hell with the restriction. Shhhh.

No improvement in my radio reception in the garage, but I’ll check that out on the street later.

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I bought one of these yesterday from Aldi. It’s an airbrush paint sprayer with 1/6HP compressor. It’s for very fine spray painting of hobby things, in my case the model railways, if I ever get around to building a layout. Crumbs, it’s more than four years since I bought enough to start the build, but I’ve been quite distracted since with all the trips to Bali and the guest here.

Besides, I used to think I had enough room to build it in the house, but somehow… the space has been used up. I may build it in the drying court outside the house. It’s a space 18m long by about 3m and the garage opens onto it by a seldom used roller door. Ideal. It’s just exposed to the weather, that’s all. A minor detail.

By the way, model railways must be the only hobby where the models are too good when new. Real railways are filthy dirty, grimy, with diesel spills along the track and rusted rails. All the model bits have to be weathered, and that’s where the airbrush comes in. I’ll be mixing the paints from their pure base colours to make dirt colours, then spraying in a messy way so as to look old and real, not glossy and neat. There are people who sell their services weathering models. It’s expensive because it takes a lot of time and trouble. I’ll do my own.

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By crikey, I’m a fan of Aldi’s tools offerings. I’ve bough quite a lot of stuff in the past year or so: two small table saws (one to be sold as the second one is better); a small 8″ mitre saw; a miniature bench grinder; a power knife and blade sharpener; two adjustable stands for cutting wood etc; a Li-ion jump starter/tyre inflator/torch; a small engraver; two pairs of axle stands; a trolley jack; and half a dozen or more sets of drills, hand saws, etc etc.

I’ve found all these to be great quality and about half the price you would pay at any normal shop. Yes, half price, because I check before I buy. The trolley jack was $30. Good luck finding one at the auto shops for that.

I bought a set of eight screw drivers yesterday for $7.99! I hardly need them, but at that price I can carry them in the car. Excellent quality.

They’ve got a mitre saw rail stand at the moment for $49.99, but that’s too much for me. There are still 14 left in the pile and they are a slow seller, obviously. They’ve been there for three weeks now and I’m watching to see the price drop when they need to clear bench space. I thought it would have happened by now, but I’ll check next week.

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My West Indian lime tree is finally bearing fruit. I planted it about five years ago and although it grew well, it remained fruit free. I was wondering if it needed a lady friend in the neighbourhood for pollination, but I needn’t have worried as it started fruiting early this year, in the summer. They were very small to start and seem to grow slowly (a tropical tree in cold weather, of course) but there are a dozen or more showing now. But thorns! It’s hard to pick them because the branches have nasty spiky thorns. Luckily I only need one occasionally. Leather gloves.

Oranges! I was pleased to buy a 3Kg bag of navels for $6 a few weeks ago at Coles, but now they’re down to $4 for the same 3Kg. Bargain. They must really be fruiting.

Rain, glorious rain

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Busselton 1993   © PJ Croft 2019

As I write it’s raining steadily, with no wind. It was bit cool (17C in my house) but with the aircon on heating mode, made possible by solar power, it’s very comfortable. I like a nice sunny day but this is great. Admittedly, there wouldn’t be much solar power being generated, but my two-monthly bills are down to $45 now so I can afford to be warm.

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Over the past five years or so I’ve bought several capsule coffee makers from Coles and Woolies when they’re on special, usually around $60 or so. I say several, because they have generally not lasted long, failing for one reason or another. Coles were good in exchanging one which failed and the replacement is still working.

The point is, they all use different types of capsules. I know of five different types (shapes) which are all incompatible. I always resisted Nespresso from the start because I wasn’t prepared to toe their line and only buy on-line or from their snooty shops.

However, getting to the point, because I’ve had three different types of machine I’ve now collected boxes of four of the five types. The machine that took my favourite type died a few months ago (leaking more coffee into the reservoir than into the cup). I was reluctant to buy another machine of the same type and thought I might finally switch to a Nespresso compatible machine, since nearly all the capsules on the supermarket shelf are now “Nespresso compatible” and quite reasonably priced.

But browsing eBay I came across this:

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Coffee madame?

It’s an Ovation multi-capsule machine. By having exchangeable, insertable holders, it takes four different sizes of capsule. The red one at the top is Lavazza and down below, right to left are Caffitaly, Nespresso (Coles equivalent) and the brown one at the left is espressotoria, the only one it can’t take. The one not shown is Expressi, Aldi’s type which I don’t use.

It’s made in Italy, but oddly the eBay machine sold is refurbished, i.e. not brand new. The supplier is in Sydney. I wonder why they’re refurbished? It’s fine though, except that due to poor packaging, mine arrived with a hole broken in the water reservoir. Luckily it’s high up so I can nearly fill it with no leakage. The price was $75 with postage from Sydney included. The one I was going to buy, the Philips Nespresso, was $139.

It comes with four different capsule holders (one shown exposed at the top) and a matching base (grey oval button in the opening at the front) for each type of capsule. It works well and I’m very pleased. It means I can use up my stocks of Lavazza capsules and buy Coles Nespresso compatibles which come in a big range of coffees and are very reasonably priced. I also still have my working espressotoria machine so I can offer five types of brew. Coffee anyone? Feel free to drop in anytime.

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I never cease to be amazed at the carelessness of ABC newsreaders at times. I heard one Sydney reader talking about “Glysophate” recently. I think he meant Glyphosate.

I reckon I’m the only one left on Earth who knows how to use correct tense or matching tenses. I’ve been collecting examples of mixed up tenses and I’ve collected about 50 or more so far, plus other grammatical atrocities:

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I don’t know what I’m going to do with it, but once a pedant, …

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Speaking of which, I advertised something for sale on Facebook Marketplace last week and dealing with the enquiries is painful. Most people can’t be bothered with capitalisation or punctuation, and spelling and syntax are optional. I kept having to repeat myself when answering their questions. I found myself getting annoyed and had to discipline myself so as not to give offence. Luckily I made the sale last night so it’s over. I have to deliver it on Tuesday as the guy sounds as if he’s a bit housebound.

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I’m having fun at the moment:

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That’s the Honda’s electronics bay, awaiting the installation of my new Pioneer A/V DVD/radio device. “Car radio” sounds a bit inadequate these days.

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That’s it at the bottom.It’s a pity about the gap between the upper and lower units. I’ll have to do some jiggling to make them meet better, I think. Those holes on the right don’t match up.

All the buttons and knobs on the old CD/cassette/radio have been replaced by that one touch screen and the few buttons on the left. That’s the way electronics is going – replace mechanics with electronics. I have to re-wire the harnesses to match each other yet.

The unit has provision for a reversing camera, but I don’t have one yet and a connection has to be made to the reverse gear, or the reversing lights. It also has a wire marked for the parking brake. I assume that’s to prevent DVDs being played while the car is not parked? It has a USB input too, but the socket is at the rear, so I have to run the cable somewhere so it can be plugged into from the front. That’s going to be tricky and ugly.

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All these photos (except the Busselton one) are from my phone camera, by the way. Damn this is neat – take the photo, nice big screen to frame it, autofocus, auto flash, send it to Dropbox immediately, then go to the PC, retrieve it from Dropbox onto my desktop, fix it up a bit (rotation, cropping), use Ctrl-Alt-E for my preset resizing and it automatically places it in my Bloggers folder, bring it into WordPress and here they are. So easy. You couldn’t do this with film. No way.