Notes from the bunker, day 129

Yogya chemist 336

Kimia Pharmacy in Jogjakarta 1989. They’ve been around a long time. No wonder the name seems so familiar when I need stuff in Bali. © PJ Croft

Rain and humidity at the moment, but I’m hoping for clear weather around sunset for a chance, maybe, to see comet Neowise. Please?


All my life, I seem to have missed out on the spectacular events.

In 1986, I did get to see Halley’s Comet. I was living in Como (a southern suburb of Perth, not Italy) at the time and I drove up over the Darling Scarp, along Brookton Highway I think, so as to get away from the city lights. I remember (I was 39) seeing just a faint smudge to the south east over the trees. It was so dim that you had to have faith, but at least I can say I saw something.

Comet Shoemaker-Levy in 1994, when it smashed into Jupiter? I was stuck in a hotel room in Sydney with atrocious TV reception and for some reason, I missed it. Maybe it was because I was there on a work job and was too pre-occupied. I saw the ‘action replays’ but it wasn’t the same as seeing it live.

Comet Hale Bopp in 1997? It was mainly northern hemisphere and although I looked at the sky, I don’t think I actually saw it. I can’t remember why. On the other hand, I do remember seeing a spectacular shot from the beach in Perth, so it must have been visible. I had a big disk crash in 2013 and lost a lot of images – maybe that’s why I don’t have shots of it.

The Super Moon in 2017? I misjudged the time it would take to drive to the best location to see it and by the time I arrived and set my tripod up, it was well above the horizon. Duh! My fault. Anyway, I did manage to produce this:


The careful observer may notice something funny about this picture.   10 December 2017

The big moon just a couple of weeks ago? Cloud cover stopped me getting it rising above the horizon. But I did get this:


2000mm hand held.

Must try harder.


I’ve been doing some more photo enhancements on that MyHeritage web site:

Early Croft photo

This is the original.

Screenshot_2020-07-26 Early Croft photo

This is the sharpened and de-noised result.

Screenshot_2020-07-26 Early Croft photo(1)

This is the colourised version. I reckon that’s bloody remarkable! This would have been c1928.      So you wish you had lovely floor coverings and a big french door fridge in your 4bed 2bath house with two cars? Look at how they lived a hundred years ago. They weren’t poor, this was suburban normal in Sydney. That’s Dad’s mother, btw, and I think that’s Dad behind the baby.

Dad Ian Pete Max c1958

Original, 1960

Screenshot_2020-07-26 Dad Ian Pete Max c1958(1)

Enhanced and colourised.

Screenshot_2020-07-26 Family group Bev 1965

Enhanced B&W.  Beverley December 1965.

Screenshot_2020-07-26 Family group Bev 1965

Enhanced and colourised. Remarkable!

Screenshot_2020-07-26 Mum port A

Mum, c1985?  Enhanced, original in colour.


Enhanced, original in colour.

Unfortunately, once I’d done about six photos, the web site wouldn’t let me go on unless I pay. The minimum is $108 per year for limited functionality, and the top rate is $240 pa for unlimited enhancements. It’s too expensive and I don’t want their family tree functions.

I’ve installed Photoglory (mentioned yesterday) and although it seems to work well, there’s nothing automatic about it. You have to spend a lot of time adjusting sliders and playing around with each photo. I may buy it (A$27.50 to A$56).

There’s also Topaz Sharpen AI which promises AI technology as well. I’ve downloaded it to  try it. A$86. Hmmmm. Everyone wants my money.


Grrrr, grrrr, grrrrr. You might have heard of Bauer Media, a privately owned German company that’s been in the news in the last couple of years because they bought the whole range of Kerry Packer ACP Magazines in Australia. They paid over $500 million for them.

But since then, circulations have fallen, key people left and they laid off many staff. The news is that they are terrible bosses and the whole business went downhill because of it. Their half billion dollar investment was last valued at about $50 million! Now they’ve just closed down another 12 magazines in Australia, big names like Vogue, Marie Claire, Men’s Health and many others. I was sad, but it didn’t affect me – these are not magazines I read.

In the last few years I’ve discovered a motoring magazine I really like, called Modern Classics. It’s produced in Britain and devoted to reviews and articles about cars of the 1980s, ’90s and ’00s which I agree, are modern classics. These are the cars I like. Look at mine, MX6 1995, Mitsi Verada 2004 and Honda MDX 2006. And I want a 2008 Peugeot 407 wagon and a 2005 Honda Odyssey. None of your modern stuff for me, Gertrude.

Trouble was, the magazines cost about $13.50 from the newsagent, a bit expensive. So in August last year I subscribed to the digital edition, to download and read on my tablet. It works well.

Their latest edition is all about congratulating themselves on 50 issues produced in four years.

You saw this coming, didn’t you? I’ve just had an email from Bauer Media in the UK. They’ve closed the magazine down. Next month’s issue will be the last. Damn and blast! They say they’ll continue my subscription with issues of Car magazine, but I don’t want this to be automatic where they just charge my credit card without my say so. I might be interested, but I want to evaluate it first. I’ll miss Modern Classics. It hit the mark.


Is this a joke? I bought a new soldering iron from the Wish website and I’ve just given it its first try.


The entire tip melted! The tip is made of solder! What a joke. That’s what you get for $1.60. They did provide a packet of six other tips of various shapes. I wonder what they’re made of, marshmallow? Toffee?


There’s a good ad on Facebook at the moment promoting tourism to Christmas Island, which is an Australian territory, has a WA postcode and is serviced by Australian airlines. They say they have zero cases of the virus and they badly need tourists.

The WA government has allowed us to fly there and you don’t have to 14-day quarantine when you get there.

But when you fly back to Perth, you have to spend 14 days in hotel quarantine back here  at your own $3000 expense! Even though the government recognises that there’s no virus on Christmas Island, otherwise why would they be allowing us to go there?

There’s some twisted, crazy bureaucratic logic going on here. Left hand-right hand stuff. Come on, guys!

If only it wasn’t so expensive to go there. It’s in the same zone as Bali with all the attractions of a beautiful tropical island, without the drawbacks of Bali (haggling, nagging, traffic jams, dengue fever and so on) but it’s unaffordable.


I’m nearing completion of the Einstein biography by Walter Isaacson. What a remarkable book. The author has done incredible research to produce this.

The image that comes across is what a nice guy Einstein was: no egotism, no wiles or vices. No guile, no jealousy. He always gave credit when anyone helped him and was happy to share his own work. He had a failed marriage with some bitterness on his divorce, but they reconciled later. He produced two sons, the younger of whom had schizophrenia, unfortunately, but the elder of whom became a hydraulics engineer and was as nice as his father.

At this stage of the book Einstein’s in America and has become an American citizen in 1939 and they are in the process of warning Roosevelt of progress in nuclear fission, warning that Germany may develop a nuclear weapon first. Einstein was a lifelong pacifist and argued strongly against militarism all his life, but in a situation like this, he was forced to go against his former ideas. Just imagine what might have happened had the Nazis succeeded in developing a nuclear bomb before the war in Europe ended! How history would have changed. It doesn’t bear thinking about.

The other thing to come from the book is how much letter writing Einstein and everyone else did then. Thousands of letters each year. All handwritten in Einstein’s case, because he didn’t type, although he had a devoted secretary who travelled with him and became part of his family. I suppose it’s not much different now with emails and written diaries like this. Einstein’s life is so well documented due to all the letters he left. I’m trying to leave my mark, to some degree, by writing all this. For what it’s worth. Who will care?


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