Bunker bulldust day 73

Aust IV Nov86B

Americas Cup 1986, Fremantle WA. Australia IV heads out for racing.  © PJ Croft  This was Alan Bond’s competitor, but they were beaten in the trials by Kookaburra, which went on to lose to Dennis Connor’s USA entry to take the cup back to NY.

Aaaah, a lovely wet day. If you’re from a rainy location (e.g. New Zealand, Oregon, Norway…) you probably won’t understand my obsession with rain, but it’s very dry here in Western Australia and we need all the rain we can get. All we usually get is showers rather than steady rain that fills dams.

I remember the winters from the 1950s through to 1977, when it all changed. We used to get days when it rained all day, enough to soak the soil in the hills enough for runoff to fill the big dams to overflowing their spillways. It usually rated a picture in the newspaper each year. But it all changed in 1977, the wind patterns shifted and we don’t get those very wet winters any more. It’s serious dryness, such that we’ve had to build two very expensive seawater desalinators. The dams only fill to about 30%.

So a really wet day like today brings back feelings and memories. Good memories.

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I don’t usually involve myself too much in Aboriginal matters. I’m not racist, it’s just not in my priorities, not of great interest.

But British mining company Rio Tinto’s actions have got me riled!

There’s a pair of caves in the Pilbara region of WA which are within one of Rio Tinto’s mining tenements. They were negotiating with the Aboriginal groups with ties to the area over which areas Rio Tinto could mine and any areas they couldn’t.

Apparently Rio Tinto got permission in 2013 to mine the area where these caves are. But after that date, significant new finds of artifacts were found in the caves dating them back 46,000 years, including cave paintings, bones and hair. The Aboriginal groups changed their minds about letting R/T mine the caves.

But last week or last month Rio Tinto just went ahead and dynamited these caves, destroying these 46,000 year old relics. Even though they knew of their significance, the law allowed them to mine the area, so they just went ahead and blew them up.

I find this incomprehensible. Surely someone doing the job must have said, “Hang on, this can’t be right.” Why didn’t someone in the company call a halt to the destruction? Was there some pressure from above to make the destruction happen?

Rio Tinto have been asked to comment on radio and TV programs but they won’t talk apart from offering an apology.

Bit late! Those 46,000 years of archeological history are gone forever now. It’s been compared with the Taliban’s deliberate destruction of the statues in Afghanistan and the ISIS destruction of ancient temples in Syria – wanton vandalism.

Rio Tinto is a British company. They stand condemned in my eyes. They should be resisted from now on.

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It”s hard to feel endangered in this virus pandemic now. I only go out once or twice a week and I wear rubber gloves and use sanitiser, but that’s all. I don’t feel nervous. We’re still getting cases of infection in WA but they’re all from known sources, either people returning from overseas (how do they get permission to enter the country?) or in the latest cases, seamen from a ship that was allowed to enter Fremantle port and tie up.

But it’s hard to feel endangered just walking in the shopping centres. We still can’t sit down in the food hall or cafes, but that’s OK. I do admit I’m missing the meets with friends I used to have. Chatting by email doesn’t feel the same.

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I have 1TB of “Cloud” data storage provided by ASUS, which I’ve been using a bit. Yesterday I got an email from them:

Capture Chink

All clear?

To be fair, I’ve had another email just now in English telling me to upgrade the software, so I assume it’s the same thing.  I was finding that although I’m copying a folder with many sub-folders, many of the sub-folders were empty when I checked on the cloud server. I’ve had to redo the copying several times, which seems to work, but it’s a slow process.

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I complained on-line to iiNet, my ISP, early this week about having a 250GB monthly limit and that Telstra seems to be upgrading their customers from 25Mb/s to 50Mb/s free of charge. Why can’t iiNet reward my >7 year loyalty and do that for me?

I’ve just had a phone call from them to talk about it, a very quiet line with a full 2 sec satellite delay so it made the call very difficult. First it was from a guy in South Africa who hummed and hahed and didn’t seem to have any authority. He passed me over to a woman in Manila who apologised for the sound of the rain, which made me think she was in Perth at first, as it was raining here too. Same low volume, though.

Anyway, same thing – she’s passing on my details to a manager who will assess me, and apparently there’s a Seniors Plan but it depends on your address. Huh? Why? No answer to that. Please wait 24-48 hours and we’ll get back to you. They sent me an email asking me to do a survey so I marked them down 6/10 saying I don’t feel I got any great result, so far anyway.

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Ah, blue sky, I need to go to the shops. Maybe I’ll be able to sit down for a coffee? I do miss that.

 

Bunker bulldust day 72

Yosem B72

Yosemite National Park, California 1988. © PJ Croft 2020  Due to the prohibition on visitors at the moment, wild animals, bears, deer, buffaloes and so on are roaming freely in the park.

Whoa, missed six days. Nothing wrong, just forgetful.

Lots of lovely rain this morning but the sun’s out now from a blue sky. Beautiful. I still had a cold shower this morning – I’ve never done this in winter before, I just like it. It’s like drinking nice cold water from the fridge, it refreshes your mouth and the whole body. I’m hooked on cold water. I think it’s good for me too.

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I’ve finally given my old 32″ Sony Bravia LCD TV to a good home. A woman asked on Facebook Marketplace last night if anyone had a free TV they don’t want, so I replied and the deal was done. She came here and collected it a couple of hours ago and was very grateful. I said I’m happy if it goes to someone who needs it. She said she’s on the Jobseeker allowance and has three kids and no spare money. At the end she offered a hug and before I knew it, social distancing was forgotten and I hugged. Nice.

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Suddenly, that one act allowed me to fold up a folding table and free up space in that bedroom at last. It was too cluttered to use. Dog, I am afflicted by clutter! I keep bringing “stuff” into the house and not getting rid of “stuff” that’s no longer wanted and, in the reverse of Marie Kondo’s phrase, doesn’t “bring joy”. Must try harder. Three cars! What am I doing? Madness.

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One thing I’m doing is that I’ve finally, after years of inertia, changed the destination bank account for my pension. Yesterday was the first day and I was nervous that it might go wrong, but it worked.

I always thought I’d have to do it by phoning Centrelink and I was too nervous to do it. Nervous about having to answer questions and maybe drawing attention to myself. Not that I’ve done anything wrong, not at all. I finally did it by accessing the MyGov website and changing the destination account on-line.

Anyway, now that I’ve stopped it going to my 0.01% interest Commonwealth Bank Robbery account, I can close that down and I’ll almost be free of that unethical, dishonest bank. Unfortunately, I was too slow and didn’t realise that the Visa “annual fee” was due a week ago, so I’ve been charged $129 to that account when I no longer want it. Bugger.

My other bank told me a few years ago to reconsider about closing that Visa card, because banks don’t like giving credit cards to people like me with minimal income. So maybe it’s better if I just hold onto that one account with them, for this year anyway. I rarely use it, I have a Visa card with my “better, ethical” bank – it’s just for backup mainly when I’m travelling. Won’t be doing much of that for a while.

The other bank is P&N Bank, by the way. I’ve been with them for about 15 years and never had any complaint. Especially as this year they abolished all fees, such as “account keeping” fees and “loan establishment” fees. I’m impressed.

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Screenshot_2020-05-28 2003 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class CL500 Auto MY04-1

2003 Mercedes CL500.  Even though it looks black, they say it’s blue.

Dammit, once I saw this yesterday, I can’t get it out of my mind. It’s for sale from a dealer in Adelaide. I’ve lusted after one of these for the past few years but I’d decided against it. But this one is a model year 2004 and has only done 42,000Km. That’s excellent. Add to that, it’s Tanzanite Blue (very dark blue), not black as they nearly all are, and look at the interior!

Screenshot_2020-05-28 2003 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class CL500 Auto MY04(1)

Look at that beautiful leather.

Screenshot_2020-05-28 2003 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class CL500 Auto MY04(2)

One owner, a lady. Yeah, right, but it looks the part.

Aaaarrrrgh. I love it. I want it. Even if it won’t fit lengthways in my garage. I’d have to park it diagonally, which means my other cars have to go, NOW. Make me an offer.

Of course, the travel restrictions mean I can’t go to Adelaide at the moment, so it will have to remain a dream for a while. I’ll get over it. Oh, price you ask?  $34K. No, I don’t have that lying around, but if I could sell the three cars, that would raise $9,000.  Ha! I can dream.

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Scotty from Marketing and Porter from the Department of Jackboots and Laying Down the Law are trying to put on a nice face and say they really, really are genuine in wanting a new deal in industrial relations. Ha ha ha ha ha.

Sally McManus, that excellent leader of the union movement, is saying she’ll come to the table, but when she said one condition must be that no worker is worse off, Morrison and Porter refused to give that guarantee. What a great way to start negotiations.

Do not trust! This is the party that tried to bring in Work Choices in 2011 and until last week was trying to bring in a new law that would outlaw a union for even simple breaches of regulations, like failing to submit a form on time. Draconian! Yet now they want us to believe they are nice people and we can trust them.

Not on your life. I’ve seen first hand the way employers will screw you as soon as look at you. I tried to do the right thing in 1996 and I was shafted by the employer group. I’ll never forget, at one meeting we were discussing where people should be placed on a new pay scale. We (the union and ACTU group) pointed out that it would involve pushing people down below where they were being paid at their present gradings. One employer group guy said, “Wish we could get ’em all down there.” It was shocking and demonstrated that they cared nothing for employees. He wasn’t aware of what he’d said. All they cared about was suppressing unions and employees.

No trust!

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What is it with women with rings through their noses?! I’m noticing time after time after time, women have small rings through their nostril on the side of their nose. What is this? Why this compulsion? I don’t find it at all attractive, in fact it makes me look away.

Then there are the tongue studs. How can women do this???  Do they understand that it’s meant for stimulation of the male while sucking his cock? It means that they are advertising that they suck cocks! Many times I’ve been so tempted to say, “Oh, you suck cocks, do you?” It’s only that I’m too polite that stops me.

I find it revolting. I do not want to look at any face, female or not, that has these disfiguring things stuck through their flesh. Ugh!

Bunker bulldust day 66

Sunset glide

Isn’t that magnificent? I wish I could claim credit but I don’t know who the photographer was. I’ve done a reverse image search in Google and nothing comes up.

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The news has just broken a couple of hours ago – the Treasury has said, Oops, we made a miscalculation – the total cost of the Jobkeeper and Jobseeker allowances that the government has been promoting is not $130bn, as we’ve been told for the past two months, it’s only $70bn!

Now, the government have been telling us steadily that they can’t extend these allowances to migrant workers here on work visas, and they won’t allow tertiary education staff to claim them either, although they won’t say why. And the arts. Actors, dancers, anyone on short contracts doesn’t qualify presumably due to cost.

So now there’s no excuse. The government must extend these allowances to the backpackers, migrant workers, arts people and tertiary education staff. After all, if they could spend $130bn, they have $60bn extra they didn’t know about to do it now.

I love Anthony Albanese’s comment today, that the error in the government’s figures about the amount being spent on Jobkeeper/Jobseeker is so big it can be seen from space! Good one.

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My Bali-expat friend sent me this today. It’s a recent shot – either today or yesterday:

Gunung Agung lenticular+heron

Credit: Rio Helmi

It’s Gunung Agung, the volcano in Bali. Ain’t that beautiful? Great shot.

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I reckon this is beautiful too:

Sony cct

What an elegant drawing. I admire it and the draftsman who did it.

It’s the circuit diagram of a Sony portable radio/CD player I used to own. I’d forgotten I had it. I remember I bought it in Singapore in the first few years of the 2000s and it was a beautifully elegant design (I thought). But within a couple of years it developed a fault and after attempting a repair, I realised it used such specialised components that I couldn’t do it. I just had to dump it. That’s the trouble with modern (post 2000) electronics – it’s full of special integrated circuits that you can’t buy except from the maker, and they generally won’t supply.

This is the issue called Right to Repair. It’s been driven by farmers who spend $1m or so on huge harvesters, usually made in USA, then when the software/computer control goes wrong, the country service guys find they can’t get information or replacement software from the manufacturers. Likewise these big LCD and OLED TVs – they’re pretty reliable but they do go wrong and you won’t find any suburban servicemen any more, it has to go back to Sydney or Timbuctoo at your expense. Even if a serviceman tried to offer service for them, they would find they would not be able to get service information or parts from the big makers.

Their reasoning is that a small time service operation would probably bugger things up and that would reflect back on the maker.

But the European Union has said “Not so fast. We’re not going to allow this, it’s restraint of trade” so they’ve brought in legislation (in Europe) called Right to Repair. They mandate that manufacturers will have to keep spares and give out service information, just as car manufacturers do. I don’t know whether this will extend to Australia.

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I’ve had the battery charger connected to the Honda battery for nearly five days now and it still ain’t working. I think I’m out of luck there. I’ll have to spend the money for a new battery.

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I’ve just found out – the new version of Microsoft Flight Simulator is due for release on 28 May, only a week away. It’s supposed to be really something, worth buying just for the pleasure of taking simulated flights all over the world, without needing to do any piloting. All the scenery is from real aerial photos, just like Google Earth. I’ll be buying it.

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Likewise, I’m a user of Trainz Railroad Simulator. It, too, is based on real scenery from rail tracks all over the world. I haven’t used it recently but I intend to.

 

Bunker bulldust day 65

R27-006

Kyoto, Sanno-machi area.  © PJ Croft

Oh, the Centrelink insanity continues. This morning I was still curious about the Customer Access Number that I was asked for yesterday, when I didn’t know what it was.

OK, just now I Googled it. One of the results was:

Aha. So I click on this, expecting to get the explanation and I get this:

Screenshot_2020-05-21 Centrelink Online Account

So in order to get the explanation of what my Customer Access Number is, I have to supply my Customer Access Number. Brilliant.

I’ve never read Franz Kafka, but I believe this is what they call Kafkaesque.

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I’ve also just been reading a long piece by my favourite photography blogger, Mike Johnson, about hi-fi speaker cables and whether they make any difference to the sound of speakers. He’s a believer, that despite cables being quite simple things made of stranded copper wire that has a resistance in ohms and a very small inductance and self capacitance, they can make an audible difference.

My opinion is it’s self delusion. Provided the cable is of a diameter enough to make the cable’s resistance negligible compared to the speaker and amplifier, (which it is), there can not be any serious difference in the sound between a cheap cable and an expensive one. Unless of course, the expensive cables have markedly different resistance, inductance and capacitance to straight wires, in which case they should change the sound! People who think there’s a difference seem to also believe that wire must be expensive to sound better, and the more expensive it is, the better it sounds.

The other point is, although I can’t quote references for this, it’s accepted that when comparing sound sources in a blind test, the louder one will almost always sound better. The matching has to be better than 1dB, a very small difference.

So how do people compare loudspeaker cables? Do they have two identical speakers, matched to very fine tolerances, connected to identical amplifiers again matched to very small tolerances, with a switch which will change between them inaudibly (i.e. with no switch noise, either electrical or mechanical) and hidden behind a curtain so that the listener can’t see which amp is in action?

I very much doubt it. No-one is going to do this at home. They will have to physically stop the sound and turn the amp off, get behind the speaker and unscrew the terminals and swap the wires, then turn the amp back on and resume the music. And at this point, remember exactly what the sound was like before the swap. Bunkum.

Last week I paid $90 for two 10m lengths of figure 8 cable, the thickest I could afford. I don’t know the rating but it’s very low resistance. I’m not going to pay hundreds of dollars for “hi-fi nut case” speaker cables.

By nut case, I tender this as an example:

Screenshot_2020-05-21 Cable burn-in -

It’s a Canadian company. They claim that cables have to be “burnt in” before use and will sell you this box – they don’t say a price but offer to burn-in your cables for an average of C$15-25 each, “…translating into more transparency and dimensionality, a deeper/wider soundstage, and deeper/tighter bass information.” Telling someone who is susceptible is as good as making them believe it.

They also say that you need to redo it if your cables aren’t used for a week or more! And that you need to do it for your turntable-to-amp cables because “…phono cables will never completely burn in with the small signal from a phono cartridge. The CABLE COOKER produces a signal approximately 2000 times higher than the average MC cartridge!”

Since the output from a MC cartridge is about 1mV, then 2000 times that is 2V! Wow! That’s really cooking.

I’ve been in electronics for more than 40 years and I have a Diploma in Electronic Engineering. This is pure bulldust, horse shit, designed to transfer dollars from your bank to theirs. It’s laughable but people believe it. They also think donald trump (I don’t capitalise his name any more) is a genius. He says America has a high Covid infection rate because they do more testing. So if they didn’t test, they wouldn’t have a virus problem. Miraculous! He’s an imbecile.

 

Bunker bulldust day 64

Musee d'Orsay 11Sep08

Musee d’Orsay, Paris   © PJ Croft 2020

I wasn’t going to write a post today but I’ve just been provided with some stupid material by our wonderful government.

I’ve just been on the My.Gov website updating some bank details. While I was logged in, I realised that my password is a bit dated and needed changing. OK, I clicked Change Password and was taken to a screen that asked me for my Customer Access Number. Huh?

I have a number that I log in with, given to me a decade ago or whenever My.Gov was set up and it logs me in OK. Try that – no, “The Format of Your Customer Access Number is Incorrect”.  I have a CRN (Customer Reference Number) printed on my pension card – try that. No, same error message.

It’s got spaces in it. I remove the spaces – still no go.

The result is, I give up, I can’t work out what to enter to change my password.

But when I want to go back to the base page, there’s no way back. There’s the Centrelink logo at top left and a Services Australia text at top right, but neither is clickable. I click the back button on my browser and instead of going back to the Centrelink home page, I’m taken to Human Services Australia home page which asks me to Sign In again. I  was never on this page! I just have to go through the sign in again, which involves User Name, Password and an SMS code. Damn.

Second, I decided to add a couple of “Secret questions” as they call them. I clicked on that and was taken to a list of questions about how to do it. OK, I understand, but where do I start? There’s no Go button on that page, it’s purely Help topics. I can’t remember exactly what I did but somehow I had to back out of that page to find the button to add my secret questions.

I did this successfully.

Then I changed my bank account details (very carefully!) It seemed to work, so I clicked an exit button and got this:

Screenshot_2020-05-20 Payment Destination Centrelink Online

This is classic programming bullshit! “Do you want to cancel?” OK / Cancel. Which is correct?  This is still happening in 2020? I clicked OK, which to me meant that I would be cancelling what I’d just done, but it accepted and I was OK. Phew! And people with poor computer skills are supposed to be able to use this web site?

Then there’s this message:

Screenshot_2020-05-20 Payment History Centrelink Online

Understand that? It’s like a Monty Python script from Meaning of Life. “The boy on the left of you, unless he’s your brother, in which case you do may defer this message, and last week’s message which may have been in error, unless we say otherwise, may exit by the side door, unless it’s closed for repair…”

It’s gobbledegook. Word salad. Government-speak.

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I said my internet speed has been “shaped” by iiNet because I’ve exceeded the 250GB limit for the month. I’m supposed to be on 250Kb/s but it was so slow this morning that Speedtest wouldn’t even attempt to measure the speed. I’ve had to pay $15 to add a 20GB data pack to get me through until tomorrow night. Grrrr. Not happy.

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There are a few people, prominently Liza Harvey, the leader of the WA Liberal Party and the putative alternative premier of WA, who say we should reopen WA’s borders with the other states. They say it’s bad for business to keep us isolated etc etc.

What they don’t seem to understand or care about is that although the risk is low, people are still being infected by the corona-virus in NSW and Victoria. If they come here and bring the virus here, it’s not just their bad luck that they get sick, it puts at risk the airport staff, the taxi drivers, the ambulance drivers and the doctors and nurses in the hospitals. Yes, the danger seems to be low here, but it’s not a matter of saying “Oh well, it’s only the individual who gets sick.” It’s a whole string of people who can be affected, and doctors and nurses, particularly, die of this infection.

So it is utterly irresponsible for the Liberal Party leader to argue against the WA government to say the borders should be reopened. It’s dangerous until we can be sure there are no more cases in the eastern states. It’s typical of the Liberal Party, both here and federally, to say that business is more important than people. It shows again why the Liberal Party is not fit to govern.

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I’ve said that the Denon Super Audio CD/DVD player I bought about a month ago refuses to play SACDs. Ordinary CDs are OK, but nothing more complicated. I wasn’t too worried because I figured it would be something simple like a dirty laser lens.

No such luck. I’ve had the covers off today and cleaned the lens, but it’s made no difference. Also, whereas the front panel Load/Eject button wasn’t working, now virtually no buttons work on the front panel (but all functions work from the remote, which indicates that the problem is only in the front panel, not the main logic). I’ve also noticed that the tinplate shielding inside is looking rusty and corroded. Urrrgh.

But I’m a tech and I’m used to this. I’m not too worried – I figure if there’s corrosion on the metal, there’s possibly also dirt/gunk in the connectors too, so I’ll just have to remove and replace all the connectors. It only takes a speck of dust or dirt. But:

IMG_20200515_1

There’s a lot of them. This is a far more complex unit than a simple CD or DVD player.

IMG_20200515_174838

There are more outside this picture.

IMG_20200515_175049

That’s the laser, that blue dot in the middle. Isopropyl alcohol on a cotton bud and wipe carefully, but it didn’t help.

OK, the next step is to dismantle it a fair bit so as to get at the connectors. The front panel seems to only have a couple of ribbon connectors so that will be first.

There are also complete laser assemblies advertised on eBay for about $100, but I’ll do the connectors first before spending that money.

Watch this space.

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Another crazy web page programming error:

Crazy screen 1

Huh? Step 1 of 0?

 

Bunker bulldust day 63

_1010721

Social isolation, Bali style.   © PJ Croft 2020

Another lovely day, 19deg but getting cooler. It was actually cold last night wasn’t it? But just think, it’s only 5 weeks until the winter solstice.

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Damn. I found my internet was running very slowly this morning (in fact not running at all until I rebooted the modem). I was going to wait a while before phoning iiNet support. I ran Speedtest a couple of times:

Screenshot_2020-05-19 Speedtest by Ookla - The Global Broadband Speed Test(1)

Screenshot_2020-05-19 Speedtest by Ookla - The Global Broadband Speed Test

It’s pretty bad when your upload speed is faster than your download speed.

Then I noticed my phone – a message from iiNet: You have exceeded your monthly download limit. Your speed has been shaped to 200Kb/s and will reset to full speed on 22 May at 12.01am.” Damn. It’s the first time this has happened since I’ve had fibre. Oh well, nothing to be done about it, I’ll just have to wait it out.

I’ve been an iiNet customer since April 2013. I think it’s time they started treating me nicer, like unlimited downloads or even a free upgrade to 50Mb/s. I’d threaten to walk, but there are only a few choices in this Hybrid Fibre Coax area. I’ll check it out.

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The Honda battery — while thinking about buying a new one and hesitating before spending $189 or more, I remembered that Silicon Chip featured a design for resurrecting dead lead acid batteries a long time ago, so I looked it up. I found it was first published in 2005 and was called the Battery Zapper. I remembered it because a friend was interested and asked me if I’d build it for him. But the interest waned and it didn’t happen.

I looked it up and found there was a new version in July 2009, so I bought the issue ($9, Paypal, instant access online to a PDF version and a paper copy is in the mail, great).

Unfortunately it uses a few hard to get components and although Jaycar produced a kit, it was $79.50 then and has been discontinued.

However, the article filled me in on how it works and why the battery dies. Sulphation. This Zapper gives brief high current pulses at a rate of about 1/sec to blast the lead sulphate crystals off the plates. I’ve got my Century charger connected and I’ve noticed the LEDs blink at about a 1/sec rate, so maybe that’s what it’s doing, I don’t know.

But the article did say the process can take tens or even hundreds of hours, so that made me think that I’ll just leave the charger to do its thing until either it commences a proper charge or it’s obvious it’s not working. I don’t need to drive the car so I can leave it as long as it takes.

The other point is that spending $80 on a device that may not do anything, on one battery, which may not stay fixed, doesn’t add up. If the charger doesn’t fix it, I’d be better off saving my $80 and just buying a new battery.

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The fuel price for unleaded today – 87.7c per litre! That’s the lowest price in at least 20 years that I remember. I was thinking of filling up but I’m doing so little driving these days that I hardly need any. The Honda needs filling, but with the dead battery I can’t drive it.

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Silicon Chip are selling USB sticks with 60 issues of the magazine (five years’ worth) per stick for $100 each, or $90 for subscribers, which I am now. Scanned copies, that is, in PDF form. Not a bad idea. I’ve got piles and piles of the paper copies, which I never want to be without, but finding any article is a lot of work and they take up a lot of space. I don’t like spending lumps of $100, but I might buy one or two.

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Bunker bulldust day 62

IMAGE-2019-09-09-22_05_32

Do you know this woman? You might think you do, but I can post it here without fear of her objections because it’s completely computer generated. Yes, it’s AI at work. There’s a Google web site devoted to artificially generated faces which can be used for any purpose.

Brrrr. Even though it’s another bright sunny day, I’m a little cold. It only takes 1 degree to feel a difference, I find. Still, it’s very nice.

I’ve been taking a nightly low dose anti-histamine, Phenergan 10mg, to help with my sleeping. It seems to be free of side effects, is an over-the-counter medicine and was recommended by my GP to help with my right ear hearing blockage. Apparently it dries out the sinuses. It gets me to sleep easily, at the expense of waking late ~9am and feeling sluggish for the first couple of hours (yes, I know Doris, I should take it earlier, before I go to bed but I forget).

But it’s become a regular pattern – for some reason I wake between 1 and 2am, wide awake. And itching!! Right leg, outside calf, left leg inside knee. Aarrrgh, it’s intense, unrelenting itching and no amount of scratching will relieve it. Worse, scratching risks breaking the skin and when that happens, it bleeds and is hard to stop.

I use a lotion called Pine-tarsil which helps somewhat, but not a lot. I’m even resorting to taking Panadol which also helps a bit, but it takes a long time to work. Night time is not that good these days.

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Blackdown pre-house

Early 1972 Blackdown Way, Karrinyup.

Here’s a photo that one or two people might recognise. It’s my parents’ block at 47 Blackdown Way, Karrinyup, in about 1972 as the footings were down for their AV Jennings house being built. You can just see the ocean past the trees.

Blkdown Wy 11.73

November 1973 – Dad put in an awful lot of hard yakka building that garage and retaining wall.

Parked in the garage, just visible, is Dad’s Peugeot 404 station wagon. In late 1974 I bought that from him for $400. I drove it for a year or so, then sold it to the parents-in-law of some friends for about the same amount and allowed them to pay me out at $100 per month. A month or two later, it had a major engine failure and like a fool, I said they could forget the rest of the payments. I’ve always been too trusting. It was going fine when I sold it. I didn’t know it was going to break down!

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Call me obsessive, call me a nerd, but it’s a habit I don’t want to break. I keep spiral bound A5 size notebooks and I write down every dollar I spend, every day. I was doing it intermittently during all the years up to 2000, but after I “retired” in October 1999, one of the first things I did was to start this habit of keeping a daily “diary” of my Expenditure. I also write in anything I need to remember and anything worth noting.

But importantly, I weigh myself every morning, in the nuddy just before I step into the shower. Same scales, same time, same conditions. Therefore I have a very long record of my weight and over the years since 2010, I’ve been entering the figures into a spreadsheet and graphing the results. Yes, it’s boring but I only enter the figures every six months or so. I can enter a whole year’s figures in about 2hrs.

Voila: I have graphs for every year, 2010 to now. I’m spurred to write about it because I finally filled in some gaps yesterday and now the records are complete. There are ten graphs but I won’t bore you with all of them:

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It started well, but this was the year I started to buy the Bali villa, hence the three Bali visits, and the start of a bad time from the middle of the year on, hence the rise in weight.

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By contrast, this was 2013 when I was selling at Trigg, packing and moving and having a bit of trouble as the year went on, hence the weight loss.

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2014 was a topsy-turvy year too, with two ship cruises. On the first in March, I gained 2.5Kg in a week with all that lovely food, as much as you can eat, while on the second in October/November, I lost 6Kg in 6 weeks due to illness.

 

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Hmmmm, too much sitting at home since early March. How’s your weight going?

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The developments in America are leading to a new scenario for a novel. How about this:

It’s becoming ever clearer that the president is unhinged. He’s denying facts, making up his own “alternate truths”, displaying paranoia, showing no leadership, peddling false theories, telling even more lies than his usual whoppers, firing anyone who he doesn’t like, agree with or who tries to speak the truth, stacking committees with his own yes men, using his family members as if they were government officials, encouraging far-right activists in violence and intimidation and stacking the supreme court with his own choices who will take the right wing Republican line. And that’s before breakfast.

Very disturbed at the direction this is taking and aghast at the decline in leadership and prestige of the United States, a group of powerful figures start to meet informally to discuss what can be done. The meetings are held at private homes, never more than once in each location and in utmost secrecy.

It started slowly with a chance encounter at a Washington restaurant between a former presidential candidate and a former secretary of state. Tentative at first, the discussion grew intense as each let slip his personal feelings of dismay and sadness at the loss of American power, leadership and prestige. That naturally, led to talk of what could be done and the idea took root: to form a secret group of powerful, connected men and women of integrity and ability, with the aim of working to explore options. They agreed to meet again in a week, using the time to sound out other potential group members.

The next meeting was held at the home of the former secretary of state in upstate New York, a weekend home in a secluded, forested location reached by backwoods roads. Present were five prominent Democrats, both former and present office holders and members of Congress, two retired Supreme Court justices, a top constitutional lawyer and surprisingly, two Republicans, both dismayed at the direction their party had taken.

After a light dinner, discussions commenced with a preamble by the former sec-state outlining what she thought their aims should be and what she thought might be possible. That quickly led to the constitutional lawyer speaking of the law concerning grounds for impeachment and the powers of the congress and supreme court. He also emphasised the dangers of taking this path.

To be continued. 😉