Bunker bunkum day 30

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We had a pink moon on Monday. Here’s the pink super-moon we had on 10 Dec 2017. This shot is over Lake Joondalup. Panasonic FZ300 at 1200mm.

Wow, thirty days gone, staying home just doing this and things on the computer. It’s enjoyable but not good for me.

It’s dawning on me that being in a long distance relationship, we are not going to be able to see each other ad corporeum (my version of Latin, actually in carne but I don’t like that – too meaty sounding) for at least the next year, and probably longer.

Even if we manage to control this virus within Australia to very low levels of infection, it’s highly likely that entry from another country without a good reason is going to be severely restricted for another year beyond that, unless an effective vaccine is found, of course.

That means a long distance relationship is truly going to be just that for the foreseeable future. Until a few days ago, I had been vaguely thinking that we might be together again later this year, or next year, or “soon” but being realistic, it probably won’t be possible. That’s quite depressing for me. At my age I’m more and more thinking I’m running out of time and travelling is becoming a more daunting prospect too. This is not good. I’m sad.

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With every day that passes, Trump is looking more and more like a deranged lunatic. As someone (who knows what he’s talking about) said yesterday, Trump’s move to stop the US funding of the World Health Organisation is a crime against humanity. That’s a pretty amazing accusation to make about the president of the USA, but I agree. The same can be said of him reneging on the US’s agreement to the Paris Climate Change Accords.

The USA has become a pariah country. It is the most militaristic country on Earth, it starts more wars and military adventures than any other country, it believes its citizens are not subject to the laws of any other country (witness the way the wife of a US diplomat who killed a British guy in a car accident was smuggled out of the UK to the US before she could be brought to justice in the UK!). US servicemen who killed Italians in an aircraft accident got the same, they were smuggled straight back to the US in a military operation before they could be made to face the Italian courts.

This same USA is one of the last “civilised” countries still retaining the death penalty along with those wonderful countries Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, North Korea, Yemen, Sudan and other bastions of freedom (and Japan, to their shame). What’s more, many people convicted of serious crimes are kept imprisoned for decades on Death Row before finally being executed 10, 20, 30 years later. This violates their own constitution which outlaws “cruel and unusual punishment”. This could hardly be more cruel. The US practices torture alongside those other civilised countries I mentioned before. Many, many innocent people in the US are convicted by corrupt and incompetent courts and judges.

Their health system is dysfunctional, their voting system is corrupt, their tax laws massively favour the rich, they have levels of poverty comparable with third world countries, their politicians are corrupt. Their obsession with guns makes them the mass murder capital of the world.

Yet this lunatic Trump says he’s making America great again? That means he acknowledges America was not great before, but although he repeatedly lies without shame, he has made America infinitely worse than it was under Obama.

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Speaking of that backward country, America, slowly trying to drag itself out of the dark ages, did you know that there are only three countries in the world that have not adopted the SI units of measurement?

I’m reading Simon Winchester’s book, Exactly, about the development of precision in measurement and manufacturing since around the turn of the 17th century. He points out that there are only three countries left which have not subscribed to the Systeme Internationale measurement system which defines the meter, kilogram, second and other fundamental units of measurement. Those three countries are Liberia, Myanmar and you guessed it, the USA.

You probably know that in America, a gallon is not a gallon, a ton is not a tonne, a pound is not a pound, an ounce is not an ounce and so on. Only America stands in the way of a worldwide universal system of measurement units. Even Great Britain, which started the whole business, has adopted the SI units.

America. What a stupid, backward country. The world’s most violent country.

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I find it hard to be optimistic. Due to the unusual “winter that wasn’t a winter” in the northern hemisphere just finished, the Greenland ice cover is melting at unprecedented levels. This will raise sea levels since the ice sits on land in Greenland. The same is happening in Antarctica, where glaciers are slipping into the sea at unprecedented rates. This pandemic has driven global heating from the headlines, but it’s not only still happening, it’s accelerating.

My mind boggles – after all the fires in NSW with the massive loss of koalas and their habitats, the eucalypt forests, the NSW Liberal government is allowing increased logging and land clearing in the remaining forests. Reducing the koala habitats even further!

Is this a Kafka mad house? How can anyone think this is OK? The answer, as always, is money, and money flows to people in power. I not only spit, I hurl ordure. It’s a lost cause.

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And in this state the Liberal and National parties have blocked the reappointment of the Commissioner of the Corruption and Crime Commission, John McKechnie, which expires on the 28th of this month. He is willing and wants to be reappointed. The leaders of these parties, both women, say because the premier, Mark McGowan, didn’t talk to them before making moves to reappoint the commissioner, they don’t like his attitude and will refuse.

Petty. Petulance. Foot stamping. Noses out of joint. Hissy fits. Hanky dropping.

OR, could it be that the CCC has investigations on foot into Liberal and National members of the WA parliament and they want him called off. I have emailed both leaders of these parties and put this to them in strong terms. I await answers.

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Continuing my phone conversation with Rosco on Tuesday: he has a van fitted out with equipment and benches, so he offers a slide scanning service “at your door”. He drives his van into the driveway of the customer, disinfects a plastic tray or bin and get s the customer to put their slides into the tray. In the van, he uses an Epson V850 flat bed scanner which can do eight slides at a time and does the job on the spot. He says it takes him about 3 mins per slide. When I was doing mine with my Nikon LS4000, it took me about 6 mins per slide, but that scanner was slower. I also have a 4990 flat bed which will also do eight at a time and that takes about 3-5 mins per slide. The thing is, to do a good job, each slide has to be brought up in a preview window and careful adjustments made, eight times over, before pressing the Go button to carry out the automated scan. That final scan takes 20-30 mins on my system, but mine’s an older scanner and PC.

However, he made a comment that astounded me. He’s had to get a Working With Children police clearance to do this work, because he may come into contact with children at these customers’ premises. This is crazy! What have we come to?

As well, he has to have insurance for all the activities he does and the costs of these insurance policies is more than $10,000 per year. And that’s just for liabilities, that’s not cover for his van or equipment, that’s extra. Criminy!

I used to think I could offer a scanning service myself, but I was always worried about customers blaming me for damaged materials, lost slides, missing results and so on, and non-payers and all the hassles of postage and deliveries and so on. Not to mention the difficulties of dealing with the tax office and Centrelink. Therefore I never did it.

Recently I’ve thought seriously about buying a new Epson high speed scanner that can scan paper photo prints and any documents up to A4 size at a rate of around 1 per second. I’ve read the reviews and they all praise it for quality and paper handling.

It costs $645 approx. and I thought I might offer a service, but after hearing Rosco’s warnings, I’ll push that to the back burner. Too risky, too many hassles. Pity.

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Bunker bunkum day 29

february-12-2019-lagoon-nebula

Isn’t that beautiful, fantastic, wondrous, magnificent? This is from a NASA website which allows you to show and download a Hubble Space Telescope image which was shot on your birthdate.  https://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/what-did-hubble-see-on-your-birthday    Give it a go.

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Here’s another picture, a bit more mundane:

cjkpflojpeaeigpp

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I misread this picture and asked a friend, “Is that saw blade on the wrong way? Shouldn’t the teeth be reversed so that they cut upwards from underneath the wood?”  The way I saw the picture is the saw cutting from left to right. It must have been too late at night or I’d had one too many wines.

Now, in the bright light of day, I’m ashamed to admit that the picture is correct. The saw is shown with the blade facing the camera which means it gets pushed from right to left.

Duh! My mistake.

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Uuuurrrrgh, I went to the shops yesterday and did a fair bit of walking around the shopping centre. Now my left foot, with its excessive pronation, is hurting like hell and I can hardly stand on it. My hips are painful – not the joints, the muscles. My thighs are aching. I could hardly get up out of my chair last night and I still feel very… weak? today.

All this isolation means I’m not getting out walking as much as before and wow, my muscles are deteriorating. I’ve moved the treadmill back a bit to allow for the hi-fi trolley to move to its new location, so the treadmill’s powered up. I’d better start using it more but walking on my left foot is painful.

While writing this I had a burst of nerve pain in my right foot, between the toes, that had me throwing my head back and yelling with the pain. It died away after about 15 secs and is gone now but wow, diabetic peripheral neuropathy! I’m having to take Panadol Osteo which dulls it somewhat.

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I was just talking about a NAS for backups yesterday and a friend has filled me in with his experiences. It’s not as reliable as you might think, was the message. To be sure and certain, you really need two backups, one stored off the premises, that is stored with a relative or a friend. If a thief sees a NAS box, it’s possible they could pick it up as part of the loot in the house. I dunno about that, I think thieves would be satisfied with all my cameras and TV and other stuff that’s more easily saleable before a blank faced computer box. However, once again, all the other things can be replaced, whereas your computer stored images can’t.

Anyway, I’ve just had reason to use my backup software in earnest today. I use a program called Macrium Reflect (I’ve actually paid for three licences in a discount deal – for two desktops and a laptop).

For several years I’ve been keeping a desktop folder called Great Images from the Web on my desktop. Whenever I saw a spectacular or useful image on the web, I copied it to this folder. It’s grown to contain 421 images taking up 750MB approx.

About a week ago I started to make a slide show using the late lamented (the company’s gone bust) Photodex Proshow Producer. This is a fabulously complex program which is fantastically easy to use. It’s one of the best designed pieces of software I’ve ever found. Although the company’s gone bust, the program still works and will continue to do so, so I’m happy to use it.

Usually it’s fantastically stable. I never worried about crashes, it never seemed to. But this week while making this huge slide show with around 300 images it’s been crashing regularly, I don’t know why. I do know how to make it crash, but since the makers have gone away, that’s not much help.

Get to the point, Pete! OK, just now I tried to open my slide show only to find that all the images are not there. The framework of the show is OK, I haven’t lost that, it’s just lost the images. And sure enough, the folder was gone from my Desktop. Gaaaah!

I spent a lot of time going through the Recycle Bin looking for it. I installed two File Recovery programs and searched, with no luck. Gone, phut! Why? How? I’ll never know. One of the crashes must have caused it.

Jeez, I was pretty worried, but then I realised, I have daily backups courtesy of Macrium Reflect stored on another drive. It took a bit of searching but there it was, in the compressed backup from yesterday morning’s 9am backup. Copy the folder to my desktop and I’m back in business. Phew. It pays to back up. Money well spent.

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By the way, some of the former employees of Photodex have taken the software with them to another firm and relaunched it as Photopia Director or Photopia Creator http://photopia.nl/proshow/  They say their new software is better, enhanced. Normally I would have jumped at it and paid for the new program, but they’ve made it into an annual subscription model. It costs around US$129 a year. That’s about A$200 pa! Grrrr. I used to buy the almost annual upgrades but as an existing user I only had to pay about US$79 for each one. That was reasonable, but this model is too much. I think I’ll write to them and say so. (On the other hand, maybe that’s why Photodex went bust, that they didn’t charge enough?)

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There’s a woman on the radio at the moment saying she feels we should be taking photos in this time of pandemic, showing streets and scenes in their deserted state. I agree! This is history being made and deserted streets are a completely new phenomenon. It should be documented. I think it is in the big news sources but we should take our own shots.

Actually now I’ve listened more, she’s talking about taking photos of families in their driveways and posting them online. That’s not of interest to me, but…

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Continuing on from yesterday about my friend Rosco: another thing he’s been doing is offering a slide scanning service, something I’ve been thinking about for years.

Phew, more later, I’ve been writing for too long.

Bunker bulldust day 28

141027-017 Laem Chabang

Laem Chabang, the port for Saigon  © PJ Croft 2020

Uh oh, another missed day. A friend suggested I’m only posting on even days. It’s not intentional, just accidental, it depends on whether I have anything interesting to write about. Today I’ve started early and I’ll add things as the day goes on.

There’s a piece in The Guardian today by Paul Daley urging us to keep a diary of this time. He did some research and found that people a hundred years ago in Australia at critical times, such as the flu pandemic in 1917-18 kept diaries, and they make fascinating reading now. It doesn’t have to be detailed or a great literary tome, just observations of the mundane which although of slight interest now, will be of great interest in the next century, if we last that long.

That’s a big part of why I write this blog. I’ve read a great book about Samuel Pepys who kept diaries of his life in London during the 17th century. He lived through the Black Plague and the Great Fire of London in 1666 and his accounts make great reading. He was not averse to writing about his touchy-feely urges toward his maid servant, even though he was a married man, and nearly always ended his daily writing with the phrase, “And so to bed.” The book was so good I read it twice and when I went to London in 2008, I hunted down the street where his house was, near the Tower. It’s even named Pepys Street, but unfortunately there’s not a trace of the houses left. It’s just brick walls and new office buildings.

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Kyoto 1992.  © PJ Croft 2020

Well! I’ve just had two very interesting phone calls.

The first was from Western Power to explain, after my complaint, why we had three major power failures in a week, two of them in three days.

It seems the first two were faults in a 22KV underground power cable in Alkimos, up the road, which feeds this suburb. Get that? 22,000 Volts! I jokingly said, what was it, earthworms? He didn’t laugh – he didn’t know an actual cause for this cable fault but he said termites are a real problem with underground cables. Wow. I asked if the cable is in conduit and he said not unless it’s going under a road or similar. If there are rocks in the area, they can rub their way through the cable as well with movement.

Anyway, he said it’s highly unusual for two breaches of the cable to occur in three days but that’s what happened. As you can imagine, fixing damage to a massive copper wire cable in a thick jacket underground takes time and expertise. First they have to find the break. Then a section has to be cut out and a new length put in and jointed at each end. I’ve seen YouTube video of this being done and it’s a major job.

Then the third failure was caused by a bushfire burning a pole down, a pole carrying high voltage lines. That also took time, (2hrs and 10mins, I timed it) and was just bad luck.

So he was very apologetic but it was just misfortune. I said we, as customers, would rather power lines were underground from the visual aspect, but I can see that they are not immune to damage after all. I told him that I used to be a tech (used to be? Once a tech, always a tech I think) and I always thought of current in terms of microamps and milliamps. But in Western Power work, they talk in terms of hundreds or thousands of amps, which I visualise as like treacle or oil flowing in the wires. We finished the conversation on good terms.

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Next I had a long chat with a guy I used to work with at Channel 7, Rosco for those who know him. It was fascinating.

At Ch.7 he specialised in the TV equipment and radios installed in the helicopter, very specialised work requiring a huge amount of knowledge, not just about the electronics but also about all the rules and regulations and licencing involved in working on aircraft. People have no idea of how much expertise is involved and the paperwork dealing with CASA, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and their inspectors. Techs like him are very, very scarce.

Anyway, he left the station last year to work for himself. He’s built up a “truck” as he calls it, a van fitted out with all the equipment he needs which, in particular, involves specialised antennas which go on the roof of the van, which he can swap depending on the job. These require special and expensive cables leading from the antenna to the very expensive equipment inside the van. He’s very experienced in “interference” work, that’s tracking down the sources of interference to TV and radio reception. I don’t mean just your TV in your house, it can mean interference with vital radio services such as medical equipment. Or just annoying stuff – like the case recently where people with modern cars were parking in a carpark and locking using the small transmitters in their keys, then returning to their cars and being unable to get in or start the car, since interference was causing the keys to fail.

In this case, he tracked it down to a small company using high power transmitters for pagers. The transmitters they were using were on the same frequencies as the car keys, probably illegally.

He estimates that to get himself to where he is now with the equipment he needs, the van fitout, the insurance and licences has cost him around $45,000 so far. In order to make an income he mainly takes work from big companies who don’t balk at the price he has to charge. There are not many people (fingers of one hand?) who can do this kind of work so he charges what it costs.

I’ll have to finish this later – there was much more. Rosco! Talks the leg off a table. But full of interest.

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The Vietnamese were wearing masks long before us.  © PJ Croft 2020

Since this lockdown started my postie comes much earlier than he used to, before 9am rather than around midday. This morning I was still in bed at 9am and the doorbell sounded once. I get stray ding-dongs and I figure if someone really is at the door, there’ll be another bell or a knock. There wasn’t so I ignored it.

Yeah, you guessed it, there was a card in the letterbox, “attempted delivery”, collect at my local post office after 5pm. I get very annoyed. What a waste of time and resources. The postie has to make the trip to the local PO and I have to do the same. If he’d rung the bell again or knocked, I would have jumped up and opened the door, saving all this trouble. Why can’t they knock??!! That way I’d know it really was a person at the door.

I know, I’ll remove the door bell so that visitors have to knock.

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I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that a local guy posted on the NextDoor web site that he could help if anyone needed it, like elderly people needing grocery deliveries or such like.

I answered him on the web, saying thanks for the offer, much appreciated, I don’t need any help but if I do I’d give him a call.

Well, yesterday I was surprised to get a message from him on that site saying, “Hi mate, how are you doing?” I immediately wrote an answer saying how pleased I am that he thought of me and saying all’s well, I have plenty to do and “plenty of toys” and thanks again.

I am genuinely chuffed that someone I don’t know from a bar of soap would keep me in mind. It’s like that offer from the guy who did my headlight polishing, that if I need help with anything he only lives in Clarkson and could pop over and give me a hand. Bloody hell, I am almost emotional.

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Speaking of pandemics, I’m old enough to remember the polio epidemic in the early to mid 1950s, where many people who caught it were left paralysed and many had to be placed in an “iron lung” to assist them to breathe.

I think I was about seven or eight and I thought, at the time, that polio was a dog, that it could bite you and you would get that mysterious disease that way. I really didn’t know what it was about. Needless to say, I didn’t get it but I can still remember a scene in the street outside Grandma’s house in Bruce Rock associated with that idea of it being a dog. I don’t know why it was that place. Funny how we remember things.

My idea of hell, having to live my life in one of those iron lungs. Unable to move or watch TV or hold a book. Condemned to a life like that, I think I’d rather die.

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AC Rampant Feb87

America’s Cup, Fremantle 1986/87.  © PJ Croft 2020

I went shopping to Ocean Keys today, buying four magazines and four books in the process. Many shops were open as usual, including Target, K-Mart and JB HiFi as well as the grocers. A few shops are open in the food court but if you buy anything, you can’t sit down to eat it. As I hadn’t had lunch, that was a bit frustrating.

Anyway, one of the books is Hilary Mantel’s new book about Thomas Cromwell. Holy smoke, it’s hard cover and so thick you can hardly lift it, let alone hold it up for long periods to read.

I learnt something I didn’t know a few weeks ago, or didn’t realise: there were two Cromwells. Thomas Cromwell c.1485 – 1550, the secretary to Henry 8th and the subject of her books, and Oliver Cromwell 1599 – 1658, the parliamentarian and hard man. They were related: Oliver was “born to a family descended from the sister of Henry VIII‘s minister Thomas Cromwell”. That’s a defect in my knowledge of history, not that English history should be all that important to me. I’d heard of Oliver Cromwell for donkey’s years, but Thomas Cromwell first impinged on my consciousness in Robert Bolt’s play A Man for All Seasons. The movie with Paul Scofield is at the top of my list of DVDs. I had the two confused, or I should say fused, in my mind.

Always something new to learn.

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Amazing – I filled my car (one of them, the Verada) just now and unleaded 91 cost just 81.7c per litre after the 4c discount. I can’t remember a price that low since maybe the 1980s. I can look it up; being a slightly obsessive list and note maker, I’ve been writing down the cost and distance of every fuel fill in every car I’ve had since 1978. Just handwritten in a spiral bound notebook that I keep in the car. It’s no trouble and comes in handy at times. Each notebook lasts me five years or more, so there are not many. It’s a bit of a diary, a log book. I stick receipts for work done inside. I’ll have to go back through them to see when we last paid that low price.

Bunker bulldust day 26

Around Cairns, 1987. © PJ Croft 2020

Aaaah, cool. I get tired of the heat after a while, so I’m very happy to have a grey humid cool day for a change. I like change.

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I look at Facebook Marketplace a lot and occasionally I buy something. Looking at cars, I do not believe I have ever seen a car’s air conditioning described as anything other than “icy cold” or “ice cold”.

Listing batteries: I’ve seen battry, bettery, bettry, battrie, battrys, bettries, betry, batry… the low level of spelling!

Teachers, you have failed. Two generations, at least, have passed through the school systems without learning to spell. The standard of spelling is just disgraceful. Even when the word is written on the maker’s label, they still can’t get it right.

And apostrophes? Anything ending in s seem’s to get an apostrophe, whether it needs’ it or not. sic. I roll my eye’s. Potato’s. Tomatos’. Chilli’s. Pizza’s. Kapow, take that.

This takes the cake, though. Talk about confused.

Chris’ Yoghurt. Yeah?

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How about this?

I’ve made it small so you won’t be too assaulted.

Facebook applies iron fisted censorship of any image posted that contains even a hint of a woman’s nipple or exposed breast. I found this out on the Lost Bali group when they banned me for 48hrs.

Yet the picture above is allowed. It was posted by my female cousin in the US as a bit of titillation for the girls. I don’t care about the picture, it’s just Facebook’s hypocrisy I object to. Talk about double standards!

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I think it’s time I bought and built up a NAS, Network Attached Storage. I have so much on my hard drives that it’s not feasible to back it up to DVDs as I used to do, 20 years ago and if I lost it, it would be disastrous. I’m still lamenting the loss of a pair of RAID disks when I moved from the old house to here. They had to stay as a pair, but one hard disk looks much like another and somehow I got them separated. They contained all my images to that point in 2013. Luckily I had nearly all of them backed up to CDs, but to this day, I still get flashbacks of images that I used to have but are lost forever.

A NAS box contains a motherboard and power supply and can take two, four or more hard drives and connects to your home network. Unfortunately, they’re expensive – they start at around $250 and go to $1,500 or more for the big ones. For what I need, to take four drives, will be about $650. Ouch. That’s just for the case, not including drives. I have about eight on my shelves which I want to reuse, so that’s OK.

The benefits are: 1. RAID configuration, which can mean one drive failure won’t bring the lot down; 2. possible hot-swapping, changing a drive without powering down; 3. networking, meaning more than one PC can access the drives over a network; 4. reliability; 5. ability to access the drives remotely by a client over the internet – access my files in Perth from Bali, for example. And so on. The benefits are clear. It’s just the cost. Hmmm.

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A couple of weeks ago I saw a posting on NextDoor, a web group which tries to link people in neighbourhoods and local suburbs. The post said, “Hi, my name is Amir [or some such name], I’m a boy looking to make some money. Does anyone have any jobs for me to do?”

I didn’t immediately reply but last week I did, saying, “Hi, I want some things done. How are you at washing and polishing cars? How old are you?”

Answer? Nothing. No reply. So much for youth. So much for enterprise.

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I’m looking at NextDoor now. Oooohhh! The spelling, the grammar, the punctuation! It’s almost unreadable. No-one cares, no-one reads their own writing back before posting. I feel as if I’m contaminating myself by continuing. The education system has failed.

Bunker bunkum day 25

Wow! Credit Thomas Blanchard, Video Artist.

Credit Thomas Blanchard and Vimeo. You need specialist equipment to do something like this.

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Ooops, missed another day. Never fear, I’m here. There’s an article in The Guardian today talking about lethargy and laziness in this self isolation time. I feel it. I’ve got into a rut, spending all day at this PC. Why? Because I find so many things to do, and they all lead into one another. If I can’t go out (or just shouldn’t), then I tend to just sit here. Tempus fugit.

The heat is making me lethargic too. I don’t work well when it’s hot and still. I feel much better when it’s low 20s and with a sea breeze blowing in the front door. Nice sleeping weather though.

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Having paid $1600 for that new CPAP machine a month or so ago, I’m not all that happy with it. First, the price included a new mask and tube which I didn’t really need, but there wasn’t a choice to delete it. These masks are around $250! For a piece of moulded plastic, no different to a $5 plastic kitchen utensil. And a neoprene rubber cushion, similar to a baby toy.

Anyway, I’ve had to go back to my old mask as I can’t make the new one seal reliably against my skin. I seem to wake up too often with a red warning “Mask seal”. It’s also uncomfortable as it’s much smaller than the old one and there’s less cushion contact. Not happy!

I’ve also had too many cases of the water reservoir boiling dry. When I feel the metal pad on the bottom, it’s too hot to touch! I’ve turned the heat down to 2/10 and it seems to help, and going back to the old mask with its better seal has helped too. I used to reliably get two nights from the water fill on the old machine. This one I have to top up every night.

Finally, I can hear the machine whining as I breathe in and out, a rising and falling whine. It’s not bad and doesn’t stop me sleeping, but the old one didn’t do that.

I don’t need the heated tube either! Yet I had to pay for it. I am not a fan of Resmed. They charge incredibly high prices for equipment which is effectively a kitchen appliance. They’ll say it has to be built to a medical standard, but amortised over thousands of sales, that shouldn’t raise the price so high. Anyway, how is it that they usually charge about $2,500, yet they can drop the price to $1,600 for a special? Nice profit margin!

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I’ve commented on Facebook on the High Court’s ruling on the case of Cardinal Pell’s conviction:
The hate merchants (Bolt, Henderson, the Murdoch press et al) are piling on the criticism of the ABC and the journalists over the acquittal of Cardinal Pell.

Don’t forget, a jury of 12 deliberated for five days and came back with a UNANIMOUS guilty verdict. On appeal, the Victorian Supreme Court agreed that the conviction should stand.

The High Court decision did NOT say the events didn’t happen. They did NOT say the boys who were molested lied or were wrong.

All they said is that there was room for reasonable doubt. That doesn’t mean the events didn’t happen! It doesn’t mean the boys lied or were wrong! All it means is that by the letter of the law, there was room for doubt. That does NOT mean the crime didn’t happen!

Never forget that the Catholic Church has shown a scandalous disregard for all these damaged boys’ well-being. The church has consistently lied and tried to use the law as a weapon to silence criticism and hide the crimes of the hundreds of paedophile priests in its employ. It’s sickening, shameful and shocking.

In today’s Saturday Paper, the lawyer and legal correspondent, Richard Ackland, wrote:
“There are so many puzzles about this case for citizens to play with over hot cross buns and Easter bunnies, after they’ve finished the jigsaws recommended by Schmo Morrison.

“Right after Sarah Ferguson on ABC TV added to suspicions that George Pell is a child molester, revealing there are several civil claims against the cardinal waiting in the wings, the High Court has gone and upset the apple cart with some complicated thinking about “reasonable doubt … unchallenged evidence … [and] innocence”.

“A jury, carefully instructed by the trial judge about the required standard, after hearing all the witnesses, thought Pell was guilty. Presumably, this meant they believed the accuser’s evidence was more sound than the evidence of Pell’s 20 or so “opportunity witnesses”.

“The High Court does not say the complainant was unreliable, a liar or inadequate – only that the jury should have had more doubt about the person they accepted as truthful.

“For many members of the community, the sight of the country’s highest appeal judges snitching away the verdict of a jury, in favour of a well-heeled and well-padded defendant, does not sit favourably. While the High Court ticks off the list of technicalities through which the criminal law jumps to protect the accused, victims become victims all over again.

“Chrissie Foster, whose daughters were abused by Catholic priests, remarked that Pell “had the best defence that money can buy for all his hearings”. It’s a rotten shame that in this country not everyone can afford that sort of get-out-of-jail card.”

Exactly. That’s what I said.

Then the paper’s editorial today said it so succinctly:
“George Pell has not been found innocent. It is wrong to say so.

The High Court allowed his appeal on the basis of reasonable doubt.

That’s what I said. It was a ruling strictly on a point of law. It did not say the crime didn’t happen. It did not say the complainant was not telling the truth. All it said is that there is room for doubt. That’s all.

The newspapers also point out that the Catholic Church mounted a money no object defence, employing the best lawyers in the land. It’s a pity they don’t spend that kind of money on the victims.

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In keeping with a Facebook suggestion to take this opportunity to change things for the better in our lives, I have removed myself from those hi-fi and loudspeaker groups on Facebook. I was finding myself being increasingly upset by derogatory comments. Instead of reasonable chat, there were too many commenters saying this bit of equipment is rubbish, or this bit of technology is crap, or my amp is not good enough, or I must spend US$thousands and buy the speakers that this guy says are the only ones to buy. And I should buy them from this New York dealer.

Each time I visited these sites I came away feeling bruised. No more. I’ll do my own reading of proper, sensible reviews by experienced unbiased reviewers from now on thanks.

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There was a post on F/B by Adam Bandt, the Greens leader today, suggesting things to do in this period of “down time”. One was to get your old slides digitised.

I’ve answered, saying this is my speciality, I can do this, but would you be willing to pay $2 per slide, for example, because it’s all manual and takes a lot of time.

I also said I could scan all your old paper prints from your shoe boxes, and the negs if you want, if I buy the high speed scanner I know about. How much interest is there? I don’t know what to charge for this, I’d have to work it out, but because it’s automated and fast, it might not be expensive. What would take the time would be the packaging, the CD burning, the postage and the paperwork.

I’ve thought of this for years, but I’m afraid of disputes, arguments, accusations that I’ve damaged the materials, postage foul-ups and delays and non-payers. And Centrelink. I’ll await responses.

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I’ve added another 40 images: https://bullsnapper.picfair.com

Bunker bunkum day 23

1984 Oh, so slim. At TVW7.
1994 Gained a little weight have we, sir? At TVW7 with one of my babies.
2014 Thinner on top and fatter below! Hong Kong Harbor

Ooops, missed a day yesterday. Not to worry, everything’s fine. The above photos were in response to a friend on F/B asking us to post a photo of how we were when we were working at Channel 7. The HK one is much later, but it shows my progress, if that’s the right word.

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I did send an email complaint to Western Power on Tuesday evening saying “Three major power failures in about 10 days, lasting hours, yet no explanation. You have our email addresses, you have a web site, yet there’s no mention of this, no mention of the causes or what you’re doing about it. Are we to expect this to go on?” I also said I use CPAP which requires mains power. If it goes off, I can’t go to bed.

I got a short reply within two hours:
I have logged a job for an investigation into the reliability of power supply in your area under reference number 945195-l.

The information you have provided regarding these frequent outages has been included in the report.

Please allow ten business days for the Technician assigned to your investigation to make contact with you. At this time, he/she will provide you with his/her contact details and a run down on what is involved in the investigation.

If you rely on power supply for medical reasons, it is important that you have a back up plan in place in case of an unplanned outage.

Ten business days! Let’s not move too fast, eh? And note that if I rely on medical equipment, it’s up to me to devise a backup plan, i.e. to provide my own battery backup or whatever.

I await further developments.

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What’s going on around here? Major power failures last week. Major loss of TV last night. I was using the EPG to browse the programs at about 7.45pm and when I switched back to the ABC, No Signal. Nothing on any channel, except SBS 33 (the World Movies channel).

And it stayed off. I missed my favourite programs, Hard Quiz and Mad As Hell. It came good around 10.30pm.

But what I can’t understand is why channel 33 stayed up when all the other channels were gone. Were they just below the threshold and ch.33 was just above? Mystery.

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Tannoy DC10Tis, second hand. Only $7,999. No, I can’t afford them, just curious.

I mentioned that I’m in two Facebook groups, ‘High End Audio for the Passionates’ and ‘Loudspeakers’. I’ve previously mentioned my bad experience in the High End group by people telling me my equipment is low grade, not good enough, only AV equipment so not “real” hi-fi etc.

I must be a glutton for punishment. Yesterday I posted a picture of this pair of Tannoy DC10Ti speakers that are for sale at a hi-fi shop in Midland at $7,999 second hand. I asked if anyone owns them or knows them, seeking opinions. I’m not going to buy them! That’s too much for my wallet.

Well, it devolved into the same thing. I never got an answer from anyone about my questions – no-one seemed to own them or know them. All I got was “what are you going to use them with” questions.

When I told them about my amplifier, even though it’s a Sony ES range model 7x150W per channel, high specs, I got replies like, Oh, an AV amp, that’s no good, you need to spend at least US$2,000 on the amp and US$3,000 on the speakers. And you must use “extra special” speaker cables, and you must ensure that the power coming out of your wall feeding the amp is “clean”. And garbage like that. Despite all my replies, no-one actually answered my questions.

Re the power, do you realise people, fanatics, spend hundreds of dollars on special mains cables to feed their amplifiers, and mains power conditioners to “clean” the AC power from the wall? They seem to disregard all the wiring in the walls and leading from the power switchboard on their house. How are they intending to “clean” that? But one guy said this is the thing that will make the greatest difference to the sound in my system! These people are moneyed fools.

The result is that I think I’ll drop out of these groups. They are full of idiots who like to take pot shots at anyone who’s not spending enough money to be up to their standard. Idiots who know nothing about electronics yet spout pseudo-science.

In fact one guy last night made a post about this very thing. He lamented the fact that he joined the group hoping for friendly discussions, especially about music, but found, like me, that all he gets is arrogance and snobbery. He’s planning to leave too.

Maybe I should start a new group, “High Fi for the Disillusioned”.

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I really should see my GP. My left calf is swelling alarmingly as the day goes on, blood pooling in other words. I wouldn’t be too worried except that it’s similar to a bad infection I got in Bali a few years ago (was it that long? Yes, 2017.) That needed i/v antibiotic from a Silver Chain nurse for three or four home visits.

However, I don’t like this idea of a remote consultation via the internet. I really prefer a face-to-face but I don’t know if it’s allowed. I suppose I’d better ring and find out. I feel OK, but my leg feels a little painful when it’s swollen like that. Cellulitis? I hope not.

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When I was in the Lost Bali F/B group some months ago a Balinese guy kind of friended me because he liked my photos. I don’t know him at all, never met him.

Well, he messaged me on F/B a couple of days ago and after a long exchange of pleasantries he came down to it: I have no money, I don’t eat. Can you send me some money?

Aaarrgh, it breaks my heart. I want to help, but I don’t know him from Adam. If I give him some, will he stop asking or will there be further requests? Will he tell his friends?

I know actual Balinese people – if I were going to send money I’d rather it went to them first. Or that it goes to a recognised charity.

As I say, it breaks my heart but on strong advice, I’m going to have to turn away. I’m sad.

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More later.

Bunker bulldust day 21

Cairns 1987 © PJ Croft 2020

Gaaaahhhh! Another mains power failure last night! Off at 6.08pm, back on again at 8.18pm.

This was the third major failure in a week – 5.5hrs last Tuesday, 4hrs last Thursday, and now 2hrs last night. Western Power, what’s going on?!!

After last week I started thinking about some kind of battery backup system but today I thought nah, it was about four years ago since the last major failure. It probably won’t happen again. Bang! it happened again. Looks like I’d better start planning for more failures after all.

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At last, an answer to my thoughts:

“We understand the PM [Boris Jo.] is on a type of breathing support called Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), which is commonly used in treatment of obstructive sleep apnoea. Experience in Italy and other European countries has shown that CPAP can be effective in Covid-19 patients, at least initially.”

That was my thought. You can set a high upper limit to the supplied pressure so if I were having trouble breathing at home, I could use my CPAP machine as an early form of self help. I wouldn’t rely on it, but it’s there, why not use it.

My other initial thought of a few weeks ago was, if you get the virus and recover, do you have immunity, like you do with measles or other diseases? The answer is, a qualified maybe. They don’t know yet, because this is a new (novel) virus that hasn’t been studied before.

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I just got around to submitting my claim to HBF for my new CPAP machine. I am impressed! This is the first time I’ve used their web site to submit a claim (I usually do it at a counter) and it took about three steps: upload the invoice in PDF form, tick a couple of boxes and press SUBMIT. Done.

Very happy with HBF. They’re a non-profit organisation so if they make “windfall gains” this year because people can’t do elective surgery or make other claims for services, I say good luck to them. I have confidence that they will use the savings to keep premiums down or extend benefits or whatever. I’m very loyal because I’ve always had great service with smiles. I have my house insurance with them and all three cars. Member since about 1967.

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I went to bed feeling bruised and upset last night. I’m a member of a F/B group called High End Audio for the Passionates. I posted the image above and told how pleased I am with them, and the prices etc.

Well! The criticisms! “This is a group for High End hi-fi. This is not high end. If you want to post pictures like this, go and do it in a Sony group or somewhere else.” I metaphorically reeled backwards. It was a guy named Mark Müller somewhere in the world who seemed to be in a bad mood. I reacted and got more abuse, calling me Grandad. How the hell does he know that? This went on for a bit.

Then another guy, “Eduardo Paiva: mini disc is not much useful on nowadays.
Would rather do get a DAC or a streamer so you can
listen files from your pc or network.”

Note the impeccable grammar. Anyway, useful to whom? I love Mini Disc and it is VERY useful to me. I was a bit more polite in my reply to that effect and he was a bit more respectful in response.

But the arrogance in this group! The minimal knowledge of electronics and audio. The weird “audio science” they spout. The strange theories. The snobbery! Nothing under US$1,000 per item is any good. The more something costs, the better it must be. The more crazy something looks, the better it must sound.

And it must be vinyl. Owning a massive turntable, owning and playing records (those 1960s technology black plastic discs with all the plops and crackles) is de rigeur. Yet they tell me I should use “streaming” as my music source for the highest fi. It doesn’t seem to occur to them that this is digital music, compressed to send over the internet. Why is that OK, but CDs are not OK? They’re crazy.

One guy told me the most important thing I must do is ensure I have “clean power” coming out of the wall to power my stuff. This is idiotic. Sure, we had a massive power conditioner at TVW7 but it was to smooth out mains bumps and dips, not to make our video and audio “hi-fi” quality. These guys seem to believe anything and have massive wallets open to anyone selling snake oil.

I eventually switched off and went to bed, but I had trouble sleeping because I was fuming.

I was going to delete the post and remove myself from the group this morning, but nicer comments kept coming in all morning and I feel better now. My post attracted 308 likes and 89 comments, so some people liked it. It’s one of the most active items I’ve seen on that group.

Later 10.30pm: Likes are now up to 355 and comments 106.

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Bunker bulldust day 20

Isle of Skye, October 2008 © PJ Croft 2020

Monday 6 April 2020 – seven years in this house to the day, although it was a Tuesday when I took possession in 2013. I remember it well, as I took delivery of a pile of boxes five square and five high, about 125 of them. I was just about exhausted after weeks of preparing to move, then doing the job. I never want to go through that again.

Seven year itch? No way Jose, no way would I move from this house. I can hardly believe how perfect it is for me, only 100m from the Cornerstone pub, a Dome restaurant, a small shopping street with a Coles supermarket and beautiful lakes and parks only 250m away. Only 1Km from Jindalee Beach, although I could wish for easier access to it. I could also wish the pub and cafe were open, but we’ll have to wait a while, eh?

And the house itself, the first house I’ve ever owned where I feel proud to have visitors, where I don’t feel I have to apologise for the oddities. Where visitors say, “Oh, this is nice”, as soon as they enter. Where I have room to do most of the things I want to do. Where the garage is at the back of the house, not dominating the front view. Where I have a roller door at last.

Where I have ducted air conditioning, quiet and effective, switchable to zones so it isn’t wasted. And a professionally installed reticulation system to do the watering for me. Where I have a full sized laundry with a bench, even if it is cluttered with tools and junk.

And best of all, spare bedrooms and a second bathroom for a guest or two, something I’ve always wanted to offer.

It seemed a bit remote when I first moved here seven years ago, half an hour from anywhere, but I’ve got used to that and with the freeway being extended and the trains coming to a new Butler station since I got here, transport is a breeze.

Nope, at the end of my life, I’ve finally landed on my feet in a very pleasant place. I’ll never move from here except in a box.

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You think my hi-fi system is big? How about this? There would be more than $100,000 worth there, I would guess.

Compared with: Advertised on Facebook Marketplace last week, “High end Sony surround speakers.” High end? Yeah, compared to plastic computer speakers, I suppose.

In the photographic line:

A Pentax lens also advertised on F/B Marketplace in Perth, as Pentax Takumar 50mm lens, mint condition, $350. Whaaat?

This is a screw mount lens, which means it dates from the 1960s. You can see its condition – mint? And the price? He’s dreaming. It’s not worth even $50. Worth a try, I suppose.

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Just making a mussaman curry, from a kit including a star anise, a cinnamon stick, a large dried chilli and coconut sauce. I’ve added cubed steak, red onion, spring onion, brown mushrooms and sliced baby potatoes. It’s simmering away and I can smell it from here. Yum. See, I do cook, occasionally.

I’m also roasting a large aluminium container of cubed and sliced vegetables. It costs $5 and I get three serves from that. Cheap eats.

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Listening to the radio just now, I realised there won’t be an Anzac Day dawn service this time (on the 25th, for my overseas readers). Anzac Day is sacred in Australia and many people actually go to Turkey, to the cliffs at Gallipoli for the ceremony there. To cancel is unheard of. I’ve never known it happen in all my 73 years.

Instead, someone came up with the idea of getting anyone who can play any instrument to stand at the front of their house at 6am on the day and play the Last Post. Doesn’t matter that it’s not a bugle, anything will do, a kazoo if that’s all you’ve got. 6am.

The president of the RSL was interviewed and he said they did a search a couple of years ago to find 100 buglers in WA, and they not only found 100, they found more. I always wondered if the ability to play a bugle was dying out, but it seems not. Good stuff.

I’m not sure if I’ll wake up – yes I will, I’ll set the alarm – but it’s possible we may hear the sound anywhere in the city. Interesting.

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Donald Trump, President Trump, you have blood on your hands. The blood of thousands of Americans who have already died from the Covid-19 virus and the many thousands more who will die in the next weeks and months. Donald trump, you are a mass murderer.

It’s the same for all the Republican presidents in the USA. They all get things disastrously wrong. George Bush Jr sent America back into Iraq and Afghanistan at the cost of at least 5,000 US servicemen’s lives (and women) and at the incredible cost of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Afghani lives. This is mass murder!!! George Bush snr sent the US and the world into Iraq in 1993 to get Saddam Hussein, on the basis of faulty intelligence! Yes, Saddam invaded Kuwait, but it was proven he did not have weapons of mass destruction. It was wrong information. Hundreds of thousands of lives lost on both sides.

On top of this, something like eight, or is it eighty, US ex-servicemen commit suicide back in the US every day! These deaths are also on the hands of the Bushes. How can they sleep at night (well Bush Snr sleeps the sleep of the dead, obviously, but Jnr is still “Mister President” and lapping it up.

Democrat presidents are elected and have to clean up the mess. Bill Clinton got the budget back into balance. Barack Obama is widely regarded as one of the greatest US presidents of all time.

Now we have this pathetic excuse for a man-child in office, with a vocabulary of about 200 words, an inflated view of himself, who has utterly failed to lead in this crisis and actually stymies efforts by people who do know what they’re doing.

They’ve got to get him out. Got to get rid of him. He is incompetent and unfit for office. He is mentally ill. Surely the impeachment process allows for his removal?

Unfortunately, if he goes, we get Pence, the religious nut case himself. And if he isn’t available, we get “Moscow Mitch” McDonnell, the president of the senate. He’s a nut case too.

I actually hope they all get the virus and die. It would save thousands of lives if that happened and someone competent replaced them.

Bunker bulldust day 19

Apa kabar? You bonged? I’ll be home for makan soon. (C) PJ Croft 2020

Boring day today. Nothing to report. I’m still fine. No virus here.

I have so many things to do! And new things seem to be adding themselves every day. I have far too much junk, things I want to get rid of, but the “shop” at the rubbish tip is closed. I think I’ll just start advertising on Neighbourhood and giving stuff away. I don’t want to get into haggling and such.

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I’m linked into two groups on Facebook, High End Audio for the Passionates and Loudspeakers. What I’m noticing, mostly in the first group, is how ridiculous is the “Passion”. They obsess over power cables and interconnecting cables, for example. How do they assess these? It’s well known that any comparisons have to be done under strict conditions with levels matched to 0,1db and no switch noises so that the test listeners can’t detect when the switching takes place. Everything must be controlled to eliminate any room differences, any listener biases and so on.

How can anyone properly assess the difference between power cords? How do you switch between one connecting cable (the RCA types that carry the low level signals between pre and power amps, for example) when you have to break the signal to switch cables?

Their simplistic ideas, their lack of knowledge, their wishful thinking make me laugh. Yet they are willing to spend hundreds, thousands of dollars or pounds just on cables! They even sing the praises of one type of RCA connector over another. Usually the shiniest one with the laser engraved logo wins, and the more expensive it is, the more chance it has of winning.

And the cost of hi-fi these days! You might think I’m spending a fair bit on my amps and CD and Mini Disc players, but this is loose change compared to new modern equipment prices. Almost every item costs $4,000 – $5,000 upwards. Most amps cost at least $10,000 – 100,000, most speakers cost $20,000 to $100,000 a pair. It’s madness but the makers must be laughing all the way to the bank. Funny how there are so many makers these days. Obviously this is gold mine territory. How do people afford it? Not me.

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https://bullsnapper.picfair.com I added another 20 images yesterday and another 20 today. Use Ctrl-+ and Ctrl-minus to change the number of thumbnails per page.

Bunker bulldust day 18

Sony MDS-JB940 Mini Disc recorder/player

Another weekend, another bargain. I’m rebuilding my hi-fi system, piece by piece, without really planning to, it’s just happening. I bought this today, a high end Sony Mini Disc recorder from around 2000.

I saw it advertised first on eBay at $843 and thought it was too expensive, but when I scoured the web for similar units I found the price was somewhat reasonable. And it was in Thornlie, Perth so that was good. I was tempted.

Then I noticed it was also advertised on Gumtree, the same item, same guy, at $655. Hmmm. So I phoned him and offered him $600. At first he balked, but then accepted, so I collected it this afternoon. Dog! that is a long drive to Thornlie. It was 52Km and took nearly an hour to get there but I used the MX-6 so it was quite enjoyable, apart from the arrogant right-lane sitting drivers. The freeway was as packed as ever, so much for staying at home.

So here’s my “stack” now:

Mini Disc deck on top, Denon SACD player in the middle and Sony DA3000ES at the bottom. Nice! The amp and SACD player are champagne gold colour and the Mini Disc deck looks as if it is too, but unfortunately it’s just the colour of the light – it’s actually “silver” as they call it. Can’t be helped, they only made silver or black.

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What’s Mini Disc? They are magneto-optical discs about 8cm in diameter enclosed in a thin plastic case about 3mm thick. Shirt pocket size. It takes the application of both heat from a laser and a magnetic field to write to the disc coating. That, and the enclosure, makes the discs virtually indestructible. They are not affected by magnetic fields alone, so can’t be accidentally erased, and they are never exposed to fingers or any outside muck so aren’t susceptible to scratches. I’ve got more than 100 discs from my other machines (since the early 1990s) and they’re as good as new. They’re still freely available on eBay for about $5-10 but I don’t see myself ever needing to buy any more. They just don’t wear out.

The recordings are digital so are very high-fi, although to fit 74 mins (one CD worth of audio) on a disc that small, they use data compression called ATRAC. Unfortunately the golden ear brigade in the 1990s reckoned they could hear the compression and didn’t like the sound, so that killed the format. I don’t care, I can’t hear any problems so that’s why I want to continue using it. The ease of recording and the lightning fast random access to tracks makes it far better than cassettes ever were. No adjustments or alignment needed either. The sound doesn’t deteriorate. I’ve got three other decks so I’m committed. I love it.

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I had to go out today for legitimate reasons: to collect my April list of meds from the pharmacy and to have my flu vaccination. No, not that one, just the usual winter fluvax. Although I’d made an appointment at the pharmacy for 10.15am by phone yesterday, they didn’t know anything about it this morning. I had to wait until 11.30am, so I went to Jaycar at Clarkson to buy an optical cable. The shop was buzzing with customers and not one person, staff included, was wearing a mask or gloves like me. Grrrr. Same at the pharmacy – even the pharmacists weren’t wearing any protection. Not a single customer wore a mask or gloves!

They have Perspex screens up at the counters but the woman in front of me didn’t seem to like that and just moved to one side and talked around the screen! The assistant didn’t try to make her move back. Crazy.

When I phoned yesterday I asked if they have any masks. Yes, sure. Do you have N95s? Yes sir. OK, put some aside for me, will you?

But this morning, all I got was a packet of two masks and they weren’t N95s, they were P2s. “Oh, that’s OK, they’re the same thing.” No, they’re bloody not! I didn’t argue, even though the cost was $24.95 just for the two masks.

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What are we to believe? The US health authorities are telling all US citizens to wear masks now, but in this country they are telling us not to wear masks. This is very confusing. If I’ve got a mask I’m going to wear it, no matter what I’m told.

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Now that’s a loudspeaker!

These are advertised on F/B Marketplace at the moment, in Perth. They are 18 inch diameter! (That’s two, stacked.) The price is $275 for one, or $990 for four. Wow, that is the biggest speaker I’ve ever seen. I don’t know what they’re from, maybe cinema speakers? Giant public address? I plan to post these pics in a Facebook group I subscribe to, Loudspeakers, and see what the reaction is.

Maybe I’ll buy two and make myself a pair of headphones. 🙂 🙂