Ho ho ho

And a very Happy Christmas to all my readers. Another year gone, pretty uneventful for me, thank goodness. No dramas, no illnesses. That’s the way we like it. I hope it was the same for you.

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Aarrrgh, the days are getting shorter, the nights are drawing in. It feels strange that we’ve passed midsummer, December 21st or 22nd, while it feels as if summer has hardly begun. Personally I like the long evenings, with sunset at 7.21pm and plenty of light left after that. And seeing the morning lightening the blinds at 4.30am. Bah winter, stay away.

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My friend is having Christmas in Vienna this year, having had a knee replacement about a month ago. She’s with her family, so that’s good. Will you be having a white Xmas, I asked? No, it’s too cold, she said, just cloudy and rainy and cold. Brrrr. I know where I’d rather be.

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I’m at home, shirtless, fan on but no need for air-con. It’s actually a bit cloudy outside with 36C predicted. My two good mates will be coming for Xmas dinner, the Italian kind (home made pizza, yum) accompanied by cold ales and tall tales. I’ll offer a movie from Netflix for dessert, maybe The Irishman, but at three hours it’ll be too long. Still, there are plenty of choices.

I’m quite pleased with my subscription and use it several times a week, but a friend raised a point I hadn’t thought of: by paying for streaming TV, I’m contributing to the death of free-to-air TV in Australia, thereby reducing diversity of opinion and reducing Australian employment.

Hmmm, he’s right, you know. It’s a dilemma. I don’t find anything of interest on the commercial channels, although I’m a staunch viewer and supporter of the ABC and SBS. Yet most of their best material is from overseas.

I don’t know the answer, but I don’t think me cancelling my Netflix subscription would be able to turn the tide.

Up in smoke

Americas Cup 1986 © PJ Croft 2019

Our underground cabled internet/phone/TV failed yesterday, somewhere around 6pm, I think. I thought it was my modem at first, but cycling the power did no good. Then my neighbour texted to ask if I had TV reception. Nope, so I knew it was a system failure.

I waited a while then called iiNet Support. Surprisingly, I only had to wait a couple of minutes at around 7pm. They didn’t know what the problem was, but asked me to let them investigate and to wait. It came good at about 7:51pm.

I only mention this in detail because a memory returned a bit later.

On Sunday morning at 02:20am I was up for a “bathroom break” and when I returned to the bed, I heard men’s voices, quite low level, outside my bedroom window, on the footpath (my bedroom windows are only about 3m from the footpath). They had torches and the light was flashing around, through my blinds. They had a van, because I could hear the doors, and I heard chinking sounds as they lifted the concrete cover over the cable pit in the footpath. That’s what it sounded like, anyway.

Did I get up and open my front door to see what was going on? You guessed it, I didn’t. I was half asleep and too lazy to get up. Besides, opening the front door at 2.20am in my jarmie shorts? Noooo.

After 5 mins or so, doors slammed and they drove away. About 15 mins later, they came back and did something else, I don’t know what. There was lots of muted discussion, then they went away again and that was it for the night. I’d forgotten by the morning.

So who were they, what were they doing at 2.20am on a Sunday morning? They must have been Opticomm men because that’s the company who installed this underground system and who do the maintenance for it.

Then three days later, the system fails for two hours around here. Support told me there were lots of calls, so it must have been widespread. Velly strange!

[Update] It failed again yesterday (Wednesday). Same times, roughly. Off for two hours, phoned iiNet Support, they don’t know why, passed it on to Opticomm. Then it just comes back. I hope this isn’t going to repeat.

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“I well tack them if that don’t or old and don’t won’t them”

This is an ad on Facebook Marketplace. It’s next to a picture of a Windows 10 screen on a laptop. I think it means he wants to buy laptops, but who knows? It sounds almost like Olde English. I’m reading books on Shakespeare at the moment.

People place their ads on Facebook, but they obviously don’t read back over what they’ve written. Perhaps they can’t read? I think many, many people are barely literate, even in this modern world.

It’s also terrible that maths literacy (not litracy! There are four syllables) is still declining in Australia compared to the rest of the world. The Chinese and Singaporean kids are leaps and bounds ahead of Aussie kids, and that’s going to hamper us for generations to come. I think we’ve already lost the next war, the cyber war.

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I’ve just received my daily package from the Wish website. That’s 16 orders I’ve placed now, since early October, each order consisting of 20 or more items. Today, I’ve received a plastic compartment box with an assortment of glass fuses from 200mA to 20A, for about $6; another packet of 10 special tubular screws for putting thick collections of sheets of paper (i.e. books) together, about $5; another packet of 10 miniature plastic trees for my model railway, about $4; a free pair of fine tipped cutters; four packets of thermal fuses in various temperatures, about $6; and so on and on and on.

I’ve just about bought everything I can think of that I might need for now. I have enough mini trees to build a realistic forest along the lines, and enough miniature street lights to populate several streets and car parks. They are both tiny LEDs and mini-incandescents as well, to give a mixture of lighting. Lots of relay assemblies to control things with one switch, and so on. And to make my day, Silicon Chip magazine are producing a full DCC control system in January’s issue, just what I wanted. I’ve built up two copies of their 10A booster power supplies from a few years ago, so I might be able to start running trains soon. Just for test at the moment.

It’s about time, I’ve been fiddling and faddling for years on this.

Wish have changed their policy; there used to be postage charged on every item, and it often used to amount to as much or more as the cost of the items.  But many, many items were shown as “Free, just pay postage”, so I took advantage of a lot of those.

But now, postage is included on all items, so the price you see is the total. But there are no free items any more. I could never understand why they gave stuff free. I assumed it was loss-leaders, but I was buying anyway, I hardly needed to be enticed. I also thought it might be manufacturers’ excess stock. Who knows?

[Update] The “Free, just pay postage” items are back. They must have received complaints, I suppose. I’m pleased, because a lot of the free offers are interesting to me.

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Phew, hot weather. It’s 38C here today, on the way to 40C on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and probably Sunday. At least we don’t have the fire problems of the eastern states, and although it’s very dry here, it’s not the millennium drought they are having in the rest of the country. It rained quite heavily for 10 mins or so last Saturday. WA, world’s best climate!

I cannot understand the PM, Morrison, Scummo. In constant denial mode, refusing Commonwealth government help to the volunteer firefighters no matter how much they plead. What is wrong with this evil person?

Due to the smoke problem in Sydney, his wife and daughters have flown out of there to Perth. When questioned why they escaped Sydney, he said they had planned a Perth trip for some time. Nice work if you can afford to do that, eh Scummo?

How bad is it when the Prime Minister of Australia is commonly known by that derogatory knickname, Scummo, derived from ScoMo, but meaning Scumbag. That’s what he is. He is dragging the reputation of this country into the mud. How bad is that? I hawk and spit on him.