Notes from the bunker day 8

Scotland, 2008. My shot. © PJ Croft 2020

Bad start, but a good day. It was a bad start because the mains power went off at 8.08pm last night and stayed off. There was a brief attempt at restoring power at about 10pm but it still stayed off. It was hot last night and with no fan, I was very uncomfortable. I listened to my battery radio for a while, using my battery LED camping lantern (it worked very well, bought a couple of years ago for just this reason), then I got tired of the radio and fired up my fully charged Samsung 4G tablet. When the power goes off, the NBN stops and so there’s no modem, no internet, no landline phone. The tablet is independent of the mains power and gets the internet from the 4G mobile phone network.

That meant I could watch Netflix! By 10pm there was still no power so I watched two 1hr programs, an episode of Contagion (yeah, about a pandemic) and an episode of The Crown. That’s nearly two hours of high definition TV on this battery powered tablet. It was great. Using headphones the sound was hi-def too.

It was midnight by now and I desperately wanted to go to bed, but with no mains power, it meant no CPAP and I need that to sleep. I got onto the Western Power web site, Faults and Outages section. It showed the lower part of Butler and Merriwa as without power, but showed my area as not having a problem! Grrr.

So I phoned them (on my mobile, no landline, remember). The guy was very vague about it, didn’t know why my area wasn’t showing, had no notes about it and wasn’t sure whether the line crews would even be aware of the problem. Huh. He said he’d get onto them for me.

By 12.30am I gave up and went to bed, too hot, no fan, no outside breeze, no CPAP, not happy. I must have drifted off because I was awoken at 01.22am by the bedside light (which I’d deliberately left on) and short beeps from the house alarm. Aaah, at last. Fan on, CPAP on and I was off. I had a good sleep from then on, no credit to Western Power. I have a fridge full of food. I hope more than 5hrs of warming up hasn’t harmed it.

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I was woken at 0830 by a call from the RAC at Joondalup. You’ll recall my MX-6 was taken there yesterday.

The news was that they’d found the problem, a broken plastic actuator in the gearbox where the cable connection from the shifter goes. He said it had more or less failed from age. But being a 25 year old car, there are no parts available now.

However, he said they have managed to put it back together using some kind of clips and it’s all good again. He said they can’t guarantee how long it will last – it could last another 25 years or it could fail next week. He said they will guarantee it until it fails! 🙂

So this afternoon I took an Uber taxi there and picked it up. The good bit was still to come. Apparently it didn’t take long to fix, less than an hour, and that is covered by my membership fees! No charge to me, in other words. Wow. Just goes to show, it pays to belong! Sure, the membership costs me $226 per year, but for that, all three cars are covered, and a second driver is covered. I get free towing up to 100Km in the metro area (which was the case yesterday, no charge for the tow truck) and all the usual breakdown services, as happened yesterday when I got the guy out to give me his assessment and advice.

So far this year, I’ve had a new battery for the Verada – I pay for the battery but the cost of the guy coming and changing it is covered; a roadside wheel change in January on the Honda MDX; two vouchers for $20 off any servicing or mechanical repairs; and now this. Money well spent, I reckon! I’ve been a member since 1971 and it works for me.

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It’s like being in a union. You pay your annual fees, but you get so much in return! Hospitality workers are discovering this – many hundreds of them have been right royally screwed, done over, stolen from, by big name restaurants, bars and venues owned by “celebrity” entrepreneurs and chefs. Their union, Hospo Voice, have recovered tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of dollars stolen from low paid and otherwise powerless workers. The union is running a brilliant Facebook campaign. (I never thought I would see the day when “wage theft” became an everyday term, but it has.)

People don’t understand – national wage cases for industry pay increases (for occupations covered by awards) have to be argued in the Industrial Relations Commission in Melbourne. That means skilled negotiators have to stand in front of the commissioners and make the case for workers. These people are usually lawyers and have to be paid.

If a pay increase is won, it might be 2%, say. On an annual wage of $50,000, then 2% is $1,000 a year. If your union dues were $200, you’ve recouped that five times over! People can’t grasp this. You get back more than you put in.

Everybody has a union. Lawyers have the Law Society; doctors have the AMA; company directors have the Employers’ Federation; company directors have an association; actors and stage people have Actors’ Equity; journalists have the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA); politicians, even Liberal Party politicians, have a parliamentary members’ group. To stand aside and refuse to join in your group in the face of this is just lunacy.

Everyone benefits from working together. The only people I can think of who don’t, strangely, are creative people, writers, artists, sculptors – people who work alone But even they are eventually part of a team that works to put their work out to the public.

Refusing to support your industry union is sheer selfishness, parasitism.

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I’ve spoken of how great it is that I was able to use a mobile phone last night despite the loss of mains power, and the LED camping light, and the tablet giving me hi-def TV despite the blackout. Today I was told that I can have medical appointments remotely without needing to attend the surgery by using a video conferencing facility. If I have to have a talk, they email me a link that connects me.

Then I got the Uber taxi at 3pm. I looked up the address on Google Maps, then used my mobile phone to book it. It only took five minutes to do. The phone showed me a map of my area and where the Uber car was on the map. A little car icon moved up the map and it showed me where he was and how long until he got here. It’s only the second time I’ve used Uber.

Then when we arrived, I didn’t have to fish in my wallet for a card (lucky, because I was wearing dishwashing gloves and they make it hard). Uber uses Paypal so the charge is automatically debited to my credit card ($25.14, by the way). I just got out and that was that.

My point is that all this is courtesy of electronics and computers. Wow, just wow! As you know, that has been my life’s work and interest and I’m proud of the way electronics and computer guys (generic term, includes girls, but there are very few!) are so clever, so inventive, so skillful. Marvellous.

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Words. I was thinking of the word wakeful and wakefullness this morning. Wakeful – full of wake? How does that work?

The words hopeful and hopefully are often in my mind as I write. So many people say, “Hopefully we might get a pay increase” or whatever. But hopefully means full of hope. So, “Full of hope, we might…” rarely works. You need to think of the whole sentence before using it.

A correct example would be, “Hopefully, the sailors waved their arms looking for rescue.” They were full of hope. Or hopefully, the doctor might arrive soon. “I am full of hope that…”

Fat chance. Pissing in the wind.

Another relatively recent cliche word is shuttering or shuttered. It started last year, it’s meaning being closed. Nothing is closed any more, it’s shuttered. It’s even used as a verb! They shuttered the business. This is madness.

I also rail against the need to use utilise, in place of plain use. Why does everyone have to use (utilise?) a four syllable word when there’s a perfectly suitable single syllable word? It’s become endemic.

Being a confirmed, foundation member of the Society of Pedants, I’ve been keeping a text file since about August last year of grammatical, spelling and punctuation crimes I come across on the web. It’s mainly populated by the ABC News since that’s my main source of news (and The Guardian, but they don’t make many errors). I ensure I record the journalist’s byline for each one.

It’s a long list now, eight A4 pages long and growing every day. Being a text file, I’m hoping (hopeful? Full of hope?) that I could feed it into a spreadsheet as a database so as to sort it into columns by date, web site and journalist’s name if possible. I’d have to go through it and add commas so that it would be comma delimited. It wouldn’t be hard.

Gawd, what a waste of time! Get a grip on yourself, Pedantic Pete. There are many more important things to be done.