Ho hum, fine and hot again

Simple Whole Roast Chicken Recipe - The Dinner Bite
Not my chicken, an actor.

Merry Xmas everyone. It’s 37C in Perth (update: it did reach 40degC yesterday, Xmas Day!), beautiful, thin wispy clouds, soft breezes. Perfect. This really is the world’s best climate, in my opinion. We had a wet November, wettest on record, but that just meant heavy showers on a few days. I love this weather.

I’ve got a couple of friends coming tonight so I’ve been getting ready, roasting a bacon wrapped chicken breast and a tub of Mediterranean veges. I’ve pre-cooked meatballs and half a dozen kebabs on skewers (naturally). I’ve got sourdough pizzas ready to roast. And a plate of antipasto – prosciutto rolled with cheese, bresaola (aged dried thinly sliced beef) same, olives, stuffed and plain, cherries, strawberries, cheeses, crackers. Crisp warm sourdough rolls with butter. Yum!!!

Low fat low sugar ice cream too. I don’t have to resist as much as in the old days. Excellent Prosecco, my favourite wine these days. I have it in the bottle, but I also found 250ml cans which are both convenient as well as being just as nice as from the bottle. I had one at lunchtime, in fact, that was my lunch 🙂 Brown Bros King Valley.

One of the friends is teetotal (1834, a word possibly formed from total (adj.) with a reduplication of the initial T- for emphasis – T-totally) so he’s going to bring his own non alcoholic juice, which is handy. The other’s a beer man and will bring his own, so it all works well.

I thought of buying a crayfish since China has decided they don’t want ours, but decided against it. I’m not a big fan of cray, unless it’s chef cooked or just between buttered white bread. Too much trouble for me. Which reminded me, I meant to buy a tray of oysters but I forgot. Too bad – the luck, not the oysters!

Whatever, this will be a delicious and very pleasant dinner.

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I bought myself a present, by the way:

It’s a big one. I’ve got two other tripods, both light weight for travelling, but on windy conditions it’s a loser’s game. The wind would have instantly blown my tripod and camera over if I’d let go the other night while trying to catch the Grand Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. This one weighs 3.6Kg which means it’s quite hefty. I want it to live in my car so that I’m always ready for shots. It’s got a video head too, meaning the movement and rotation are very fluid, lightly greased for smooth pans and tilts. That’s mostly for video, but it works for stills as well when you lock the position. Price? $104. It’s coming next week.

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I watched George Clooney’s movie The Midnight Watcher last night on Netflix. Naaah!

The premise is that a space ship is returning to Earth in 2049 after a many years’ long voyage to find a habitable moon or planet we could move to. They’ve found one, a moon of Jupiter (funny, it has just the right mix of atmospheric gases to be breathable by humans, and it’s even the right pressure so that they don’t explode – rubbish!).

But in the meantime, while they’ve been away, there’s been an all out nuclear war on Earth, making it uninhabitable. There’s nothing for the space crew to return to.

Except that George, a scientist with kidney disease requiring a dialysis machine, is up in the Arctic, a survivor. What a surprise. And even bigger surprise, he finds another survivor, a very young girl, about 10 years old, but she’s mute.

He thinks he can reach another scientific outpost some unspecified distance away, so he packs his dialysis machine and almost nothing else onto his snowmobile and they both set off into a blizzard. They go through some awful travails, including losing the snowmobile and his dialysis gear through thin ice, and he gets soaked through but somehow doesn’t freeze, and they start walking. He has some kind of direction finder, but hey, how come the snowmobile didn’t run out of fuel?

Anyway, to cut a boring story short, they reach the radio outpost and somehow he makes radio contact with the spaceship (hey, why no transmission delays? Are they so close to Earth that there’s no delay? Even as close as the moon is about 2.6sec delay. Bulldust!)

The space travellers have had huge trouble themselves and when they learn about Earth, two guys decide to use their little escape ship to come down anyway while the remaining two men and one (pregnant – she gets pregnant in space? Do they want a mutant baby?) woman decide to just loop around Earth and slingshot back to their new planet.

What a load of codswallop. As well, most of the dialogue is so quiet you can hardly understand what they’re saying. Long silences between people (yeah, just like real life, yes?) and almost unintelligible whispers when they do speak.

I was bored. I watched it to the end, but I would not recommend it. Listen to the scientists next time, George.

So, no snow again this year

I’ve just come back from shopping in 39C heat. I’ve thought about putting up decorations but really, fake pine needles, fake snow, fake holly? And I can’t be bothered with a tree. So northern European. No, just the sound of sprinklers on the lawn and garden will set my mood.

I haven’t even set the sprinkler system to Summer Auto yet as it’s only a couple of weeks ago that we had a few showers each night for three nights in a row. Anyway, that wasps’ nest is still inside the door of the retic panel. As long as you move slowly they don’t get agitated and I could set the switch. Better do it soon.

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How about these as presents for your worst best friend?

Fattening briefs, and they’re “traceless” too!

These are from the Wish website. That is an amazing treasure trove of small gadgets and things. I have kept all my orders and I think I’ll do a tally – I would guess I’ve spent around $1500 in the past 12 months or more. I tell myself to stop but I must admit I’m hooked. At least I’ve slowed my orders down.

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Being a member of the ALP, I went to their sundowner just up the road in Alkimos a couple of weeks ago. On arrival, we were greeted by this picture of John Quigley, the local member and WA Attorney General.

But I’ve had these two images stored away for years:

Clive Palmer
My jocks from about 10 years ago.

And today, what should I find …

What is this, ALP – Check! uniform?

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I have two cousins living in the USA, and a second cousin, daughter of Stephen.

Stephen is about 70 and has had some bad health recently. So I was a bit shocked to see this graph on ABC News yesterday:

Where does Stephen live? Warwick, Rhode Island. The virus is rampant up there.

The other cousin, Lisa, and the daughter of Stephen, Sami, live in California, still a dangerous place to be. It would be a scary thing, even to go out shopping, when you’re in areas like that. Stay safe, cousins.

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I did actually go down to Jindalee Beach on Saturday evening, the 19th at about 9pm to try to see and photograph the planetary conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. But the wind! It was so strong I had to hang on hard to my tripod and trying to take a long exposure was impossible. I did see what I thought might be “it”, an orange red star low down on the horizon, but it disappeared and I realise now it couldn’t have been the planets. The moon was quite bright and I realise now that if I’d known where to look:

See below for explanation
See the moons around Jupiter, lower planet.

What a great image! And it’s by an Aussie, Jason De Freitas in NSW, who worked out that he might be able to capture the International Space Station passing by. Wow! That is so clever. That line is the ISS and it’s travelling right to left. He’s put it up on YouTube as video as well.

Even more amazing: he shot the main image on 6x7cm film with a Pentax 67 medium format film camera and a Pentax 600mm lens, and he used an equatorial mount on his tripod to rotate the camera during the long exposure.

And to top it all off, he processed the film himself at home and scanned it to digital. I take my hat off, that is an outstanding image.

PS: if you haven’t got the shot, you haven’t missed it. The 22nd was just the closest approach:

I’ve missed the ‘closest approach’ but the planets are still there, just moving apart again. This is a northern hemisphere image so we should look NW, near the moon.

Phew, I think I need a nap after that.

And so we approach Xmas

BMW 840Ci, around 2005. I want one but I’ve missed the low price point. They cost about $40,000 upwards now.

This is the week of food shopping and buying last minute gifts. I only have two people to buy for and it’s very easy to choose for them. Books for one and phone type gadgets for the other.

Wow, how lucky are we in WA? Absolutely perfect weather, it’s even going to peak at 37 on Christmas Eve and then go down to a warm 32deg on Xmas Day itself. Perfect. And down to 29deg on Boxing Day to top it off.

I read this morning that we’ve gone 280 days, approx., without a case of local virus infection. Plenty of incoming travellers are infected and have to quarantine but we can do all our normal things without a worry.

I’ve been listening on ABC Radio to a Sydney 2GB radio announcer, Ben Fordham, foaming at the mouth about WA reinstituting the hard border, virulently insulting the premier Mark McGowan, and us, calling him stupid and so on. Listen mate, when you can say Sydney has gone 30 days or 100 days or even 280 days without a case, you can talk. But you can’t say that. Sydney is the leakage point for this country. That’s where all the international visitors are arriving, ignoring the rules and bringing the virus with them. Sydney’s health and airport authorities are being proven repeatedly to be incompetent. Arrogant prick. Our premier has the full support of us all. Shut your gob!

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To prove the point, I had brekky with a mate at Burns Beach this morning. I signed in to the cafe, but that was all I had to do. No masks, no special spacing, no worry.

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I’ve been doing a lot of writing recently, firstly for the Channel 7 History book, which I got in by the 30 November deadline, and now for a book being organised by an American woman called Lost Bali. That’s the book title, not her name, heh heh.

She’s spent time in Melbourne and lived in Bali for some years but now lives in California (doesn’t everyone?) She believes Bali went downhill around 1990 when hotel development went out of control and the special feeling went out of Bali. I’m not sure I’d put that year as a cutoff, but I can agree a bit.

Anyway, she is organising a book and wants contributions. Initially I didn’t think I had much to offer but she pleaded so I said I’d whip something up. As a result, I’ve written 13 pages and 3,200 words, including about 20 pictures. I do have a lot of memories and hundreds of pictures, pretty nice ones if I say so myself, so I hope she’ll be pleased. The deadline is Xmas. It’s virtually done, I’m just finalising it. I have another couple of memories I can add before I send it off.

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For years I’ve used MS Office Home and Student, and struggled with its faults and eccentricities. As a computer magazine journalist wrote earlier this year, if you use Word and include pictures, you’ll be tearing holes in the universe if you try to move or resize them. Yes! That’s my experience. I hate it.

Plus the registration of the serial number, and the limitation to only one or two PCs. I hate it! Recently, Word started refusing to save my documents. This resulted in some serious loss of work before I realised what was happening. Excel was fine, it was only Word. I searched high and low for a solution without luck.

So dammit, I uninstalled it and looked for a substitute. I’ve been using Lotus Word Pro for 25 years and love it but it has foibles too.

Then I found WPS Office, a free alternative. It’s brilliant! I love it. It looks like a very clean version of MS Office but one of the things I really like is that it will open a PDF document and convert it and save it as a Word document. Hooray! When I wrote the Channel 7 History article I saved it as a PDF for submission, but didn’t realise immediately that MS Word wasn’t saving my article. Hence I ended up with a PDF but no Word original. Aaarrrgh! So now I can open the PDF and “retrieve” it as Word.

I’ve had a bit of trouble – yes, resizing images on the page can make them or other images disappear (sorta like tearing holes in the universe, still) but I got everything correct eventually. Lotus Word Pro is far better, though. Even though it stopped development 20 years ago, it still works and it’s free now as part of Lotus Smartsuite. I HIGHLY recommend it.

Bloody Microsoft! They’ve driven all the others out of business. Remember Word Perfect, or Lotus, or Wordstar and Ventura? They were all good, but people stopped buying them and paid their money to Microsoft for an inferior product! It’s like a desert out there.

Well, WPS Office is free for the basics, or if you pay $40 a year you get the premium version with extras. I haven’t fully explored that yet, but I’m virtually certain I’ll pay it. Good value.

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I’m up to episode 10 in series 8 of the Big Bang Theory. At about 20 eps per series, that means I’ve watched around 170 episodes in the past few months and I still like it. It was absolutely unique, about science but with great humour and characters. The jokes and dialogue are absolutely remarkable. I never get tired of it. I usually watch two episodes a night, occasionally three. Without commercial breaks each ep is only 20 minutes long. Recommended. Netflix, of course.

Busy, busy

1994 I think. We called ourselves the Wrecking Crew as we dismantled the Ampex ACR25s, those magnificent machines, taking them out of service after 25 years. The black armbands are 2″ wide videotape.

Not busy by many people’s standards, I suppose, but I’m mentally running through my list for this week and I’ve got something on every day.

This morning, it was 8.30am at Joondalup Health Campus to return my Holter Monitor. That’s a bit early for me, but it was just in and out to the cardiologist’s office and I was able to park in the 15min medical deliveries bay at no cost, thank goodness.

Then to fill Vera up with fuel on the way home. That’s the first fill since 2nd October. Fuel doesn’t cost me much as I don’t drive a lot and I always choose Sunday or Monday at the bottom of the cycle. It was 103c/l with RAC discount this morning.

Tonight (Monday) I hope to go down to Jindalee Beach around 10pm, hoping to see two astronomical events at once – the Geminids meteor shower and at the same time, the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn.

The Geminids are an annual event but the Jupiter Saturn alignment is a once in 20 years thing apparently. It will be just my luck that it clouds over and rains, as it did last night and the night before. It’s not likely tonight, though.

I haven’t done much astrophotography and I’ve been running it through my head, which camera(s) and lens(es) to use. It shouldn’t be too difficult – I have a 20mm lens on one Panasonic camera and another 14mm lens on the Olympus OM-D E-M1, plus two tripods with good heads. Here’s hoping.

Then on Tuesday (tomorrow) I’ve said I’ll go to the local state ALP branch Sundowner for this Xmas. John Quigley, the Attorney General, is my state local member. It’s at 5pm just five minutes up the road at Alkimos and is only scheduled to run for two hours. Good, ‘cos I don’t want to be there too long.

Then on Wednesday I’m scheduled for a visit from someone from MyAgedCare, the government organisation. I’m not sure what it’s about, so I hope I haven’t broken the rules or something.

On Thursday it’s cleaning lady day, followed by the weekly grocery shop.

On Friday it’s my regular podiatrist appointment at 10am, followed by a GP appointment at 11am in the same building. The cyst on my temple has not cleared up, it’s got worse and it’s bugging me. My pillow cases are looking the worse for wear, stained I mean.

Plus, since the middle of last night, I’m being tortured by stabbing nerve pains in the third and fourth toes of my right foot. I’ve been getting diabetic neuropathic pains for years, but never at this intensity and so localised and repetitive. It’s about five seconds of severe, acute pain, then it suddenly stops again, repeated every few minutes. It’s bad enough that my head jerks back and I cry out in agony. I found it hard to sleep last night because of it. It’s happened at least 15 times while writing this.

Panadol doesn’t help, not even Panadol Osteo. I can’t take Tramadol because it causes insomnia, and the same for duloxetine even though it’s very effective. What else can I take? I’m not supposed to take aspirin but maybe I’ll give it a try. I’ll be asking the GP about Cannabidiol oil becoming over-the-counter from 1 February. Maybe that will help.

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I’m thinking about Xmas food, not that there’s a lot to think about, but it makes me think that bottom mounted freezer compartments are a DUMB idea. Why? Because it just fills up, bag upon bag upon packet, and you can’t see what you’ve got. There are things at the bottom of my freezer that came back from Scott’s trip to Antarctica. I’ve forgotten what’s there. It’s lucky it doesn’t need defrosting. At least I can surprise myself with “What’s for dinner?”

I think it’s time I had a big throw out if I’m to take advantage of the $20 per kilo crayfish, since the Chinese market dried up. I’m not a big crayfish fan but I think I’ll buy one tail, frozen. The rest will be sourdough based pizza, shop bought partly made and frozen, then with added prawns, smoked oysters, cherry tomatoes, anchovies and so on. My Breville Air Fryer Oven does a great job. Plus a stuffed chicken breast, prosciutto and cheese rolls, bresaola/cheese rolls, lotsa salad and some good prosecco and champagne.

I’ve also got a good 4K UHD movie to watch, “1917”, about the trench warfare. It’s not exactly a Xmas movie but we’re not kids.

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Just re-reading the above and thinking about Arctic and Antarctica. We say we will go to Antarctica, not “The Antarctica”. But we don’t say we will go “to Arctic”. We go to The Arctic. These two words are closely related yet with one, we say The Arctic, but the other we don’t say “The”. Strange.

Sneaks up on ya, doesn’t it?

Hong Kong, October 2014, The Peak. I’ve seen it but we won’t be going there again. © PJ Croft 2014, 2020.

Only 12 days to Xmas. Crumbs, it was November only last month. There’s a bit of hot weather to remind us, 30s and I’ve had the aircon on all day. I’m sleeping on top of the sheets all night too, with the fan blowing on me.

Now that I’m sleeping properly, the dreams! Aye, to sleep, perchance to dream. For in this sleep of death, what dreams may come. I’m exaggerating, it’s obviously not death, but the amazing dreams I have. Nothing bad, no nightmares, just long sinuous adventures. I need to get up for a tinkle every 2 – 3 hours and each time, I’m conscious of a story but it slips away so quickly. I really wish I could remember them better.

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I’ve been having lots of heart flutters and palpitations for a long time and thought I’d better get it checked, so yesterday I had an echo-cardiogram and wore a Holter monitor for the day and night. No problem, I’ve done it before. But I wish the ECG pads weren’t so sticky and itchy.

My appointment was at 9.30am and thank goodness the parking at Joondalup was easy. I hate that parking area. And the long walk to the one and only pay-station. I have to drop the monitor off at 8.30am on Monday and the guy said no need to pay for parking, just drop by, in and out. Oh yeah? How do I do that? I guess I’ll find out.

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This is interesting – I’ve been a buyer of CDs for 40 years and I bought two yesterday at JB’s. I’ve ripped them to my hard drives and started to listen just now.

But I also pay the monthly fee for Amazon Prime (because it really does save its cost on postage and speeds deliveries), and that gives me access to Amazon Music. When I did a quick search, there was the CD I bought yesterday. I needn’t have bought it, in other words.

This is a moral dilemma – I want the performers to get their money from the physical purchase – they deserve recompense for their work. But I can listen, not free but very cheaply, on Amazon. I can’t download and record from Amazon, though. I don’t think so.

On the other hand, it’s broadening my listening no end. I’m a stick-in-the-mud. When I browse the CDs at JB’s, I can’t listen to see if I like it so I stick to the old favourites – from 20 – 30 years ago. Now I can sample all I like and sometimes, I do like. So maybe I pay the money for a CD after all.

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I’ve just read an article by a Guardian journalist bemoaning all the tabs she has open in her browser while writing and researching articles. She has 20 – 30 open at a time she says, all saved to her desktop in a huge clutter and feels relief when she can close them down.

I don’t understand the problem, if it is one. I’ve got six tabs open now and that’s pretty typical. Maybe eight or nine, but no more than that.

On the left, though, I’ve got my links (bookmarks) folders and I’ve got probably 100 or more folders, many with 20, 30, 50 links in each folder. For example, _Quicklinks, _MDX&Verada, _Travel (the underscore keeps it at the top), then Affinity, Age Calculators, Airlines ….. Broadcast, CAD, Cars and so on.

If I were a journalist, I would name a folder “Brexit”, for example, and collect all the tabs (bookmarks) into that folder. Then every time I wrote a new article on Brexit, there’s all my research tabs right there. And so on. No need to do the research again, you haven’t lost it from last time. Make sub folders within the main folder, and on down.

I knew someone whose desktop was completely covered like that so that she could never find what she was looking for. I tried gently to help her clear them into some order, but it was clear we weren’t understanding each other so I quickly backed away.

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Speaking of writing, my article for submission to the TVW Channel 7 History book, My Life and Times at Channel 7 1966-99 went down a treat. It was 26 pages long with quite a few photos, way more than the organiser wanted but I couldn’t squeeze down to his format and rules. I submitted it on 30 November, right on the death knock, but I don’t think this book is going to come to fruition – I get the feeling he’s had very few submissions. I’ve only seen two others so far.

I got many very nice compliments on Facebook (that’s where it’s being organised). One stood out, though. It was from Greg Milner, who you might remember was a journalist and on-camera reporter in the 80s and 90s. He said, “Crofty, you missed your calling.” That made me glow with pride, as I do take great care and pride in my writing.

That leads me to say that I’m going to do a second edition, because I barely grazed the surface. Although I mentioned many, many people I worked with, I left a lot out too, and many episodes and events. For example, being persuaded to vote Labor by Burkie, Brian Burke in the early ’70s before he left to get elected to parliament. And the famous pillow fight. And taking my dog to work! It seems crazy now but I was crazy about that dog (Boopsie, the Border Collie). Then a year later when I bought Minnie the Golden Labrador, I took her to work one day too. She looked just like the Lab on the toilet roll packages, 110% cute, and I took her around to all the offices where the girls went, “Ooooohhh”.

And so on. I have many more stories and I think a second edition would be welcomed, even if the book doesn’t happen.

That leads me on to the next writing task. Actually it has to come before the TVW one as she wants it by Xmas.

A woman who lives in California (where else?) runs the Lost Bali Facebook group and wants to publish a book on “Lost Bali”, the times in the years leading up to 1990 which she arbitrarily defines as when the rampant development overwhelmed the southern Balinese culture. I know what she means. She lived in Bali for a few years, as well as in Melbourne so she’s a bit Aussie oriented as well.

I wasn’t going to bother, but she’s asked me very nicely so I thought I’d have a crack at it. I first went in 1980 and again in 1983, 1986 and 1989, so I fit her period and I do have a helluva lot of good photos. I say “good” because the photos others are submitting are, um, not very good. In fact, atrocious. Most are just camera-phone shots of faded old 4R prints from the quickie shops. Crooked, faded, creased, poorly composed. C’mon people.

So I’m onto it. I’ve written five A4 pages so far and just got as far as the very early Sanur. I think I’ll finish by Xmas.

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I think about my cars a lot and it’s dawning on me that I enjoy driving the Honda MDX more than the Verada. I think of one has to go, it’ll be Vera. The leaking power steering pump is the big problem with it, too expensive to justify replacement (quote by the RAC for $800). I’ve replaced all the brakes, discs and pads, the exhaust, the roof lining, the rear right tail light assembly, the right driving light and had the left headlight polished. It looks good and drives beautifully. But the Honda feels so nice with its leather seats and roominess inside. We shall see.

Happy day!

A much better day today. I’ve had contact with my European friend who was lost for a while due to a stupid mistake on my part. She talked to me today, thank goodness. I’m very pleased.

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Phew, summer’s here. It made 40degC at the airport at 2pm and I’m running the aircon for the first time since last summer (I think). I’m sleeping better too. I’ve stopped a medication and it’s clear that it was the cause of my insomnia. I drop off to sleep within about 10-15mins now. And I’ve dropped a couple of kg since, as a bonus.

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There was quite a nice program on the ABC-TV last night, late, 9.40pm so you might have missed it. It was Gryff Rhys-Jones’s doco on his great rail trip across the continent, starting on this side (WA). He was dropped into the surf, literally, on the west coast of Rotto, and showcased Perth, (looking very pretty, I must add), then the Pilbara, the iron ore trains up there.

Then it was back to Perth and onto the Indian-Pacific to Kalgoorlie and a tour of the city and gold mines. It looked very attractive and was a great advertisement for WA tourism. It’s a pity people can’t come here from overseas at the moment.

Anyway, it gave me two ideas; first, I get a free rail ticket each year as a Senior in WA, and I haven’t used this year’s. I should do the Perth – Kalgoorlie Prospector trip again. My friend and I did it at the end of 2018 and I think I could stand doing it again. And I’ll be eligible for another ticket in January.

The other idea is that, now that the state borders are open again, maybe, just maybe, I could take the Indian Pacific across to Sydney. It’s very expensive so I’m not sure, but I’d rather do that than fly.

Why go to Sydney? So that I could buy a car there and drive it back across the Nullarbor. Or, do what I really, really should do and drive to Brisbane and see my 97 year old aunt before it’s too late. That’s important! Maybe it would be cheaper and better to train from Sydney to Brisbane, buy a car there and drive back from there?

All this is because I don’t see myself going overseas any more. Too risky. We may have a vaccine, but I don’t think the risk will go away entirely. Better to see Australia.

However, I don’t think summer is the time to do this, so there’s no rush. At least autumn, or even next spring.

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What car?

Peugeot 407. I reckon this is a lovely looking car.

It’s a diesel, which counts against it, but it’s a 6-cylinder twin turbo diesel. That should be quite pokey. This is a 2007 model, 212,000Km, $6,995. Of course, I’m only showing this as an example. It’ll probably be sold but they come up regularly. Good fuel economy, 9l/100Km approx. I just love the styling and it’s got everything I want in a car.

Just dreamin’.

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My friend Danny came out on Friday and gave me a hand with the Honda. I’m frustrated by the roof mounted antenna not working, and no matter what we tried (so much easier with two people!) it still measures open circuit somewhere between the roof and the back of the radio. Impossible to get at the cable in the ducting.

I’ve been thinking today, I’ve got nothing to lose if I cut the wire right at the plug where it plugs into the radio. That’s to diagnose it, I mean. It’s not coax at that point, it’s only a single wire and it’s very possible it’s been pulled too hard at some time. If I can’t find the fault, the only alternative is to get a car audio workshop to drill a hole in the left fender and install a new antenna at the front, running a new cable behind the dash. That will be expensive. Cutting this wire might save me some $$$$$.

The other problem was a disc stuck in the roof mounted DVD player – yes, it’s a fancy car this Honda MDX. They were $75,000 when they were new. This is a late 2005 model.

Danny got the disc out – the whole player is sticky with goo, probably kids with ice cream fingers – and the disc itself was sticky in the centre. That’s quite probably why it was stuck. We left the whole assembly hanging from the roof until I can clean all the goo off, but I hope I can remember how to put it all back together again. I’ve got a small bowl of screws to work out where they go. Errrgh.

He also swapped a couple of sensors over from my Verada to his Magna to try to diagnose a fault he has. No luck, I’m afraid. It didn’t solve his problem and he’s as mystified as ever. I don’t envy him.

Crazy people

The cover of one my books. It is available for purchase. Contact me.

Aaah, 33C, cloudless blue sky, almost no breeze. Noice! I was saying to someone the other day that I predict Xmas day to be the same as this, a prediction even from 18 days out. We can do that in WA. Mind you, I remember fierce 40-44deg Xmas Days some years ago.

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My headline refers to the USA. The “United” States. What a joke. This is a deeply divided country, more than ever after four years of that lunatic president. The Dump, and I don’t mean rubbish dump, I mean the thing you leave in the toilet. What a nasty, racist, misogynist, divisive, mendacious, repugnant, unintelligent fool he is. Yet the Republican Party lick his shoes because they hope he’ll be electable again. What a disgusting rabble of corrupt fools. They should be ashamed.

Trump should be charged with culpable homicide, negligent homicide. He disbanded the previous president’s pandemic taskforce right at the beginning when they could have acted to prevent the incredible total of 280,000 deaths and climbing daily. All these deaths can be laid at his door.

This morning I’ve been writing to my two cousins and my second cousin who all live in the USA. One is in the NE, Rhode Island, and the other two are in California.

I was saying that they must be nervous even to go out Xmas shopping for presents and food. The chances of catching the virus are quite high over there because people, fools, have this attitude that “Nobody tells me what to do!” Even when their lives and the lives of others depend on it, they won’t wear masks or socially distance. This is sheer craziness. And if I objected, I would risk being shot, with a gun! Or at least physically assaulted.

Yet Australia has now achieved virtual elimination. There is not a single case of COVID in intensive care anywhere in Australia. There’s zero community transmission, except for the odd case of quarantine workers. It’s because Australia has an “obey the rules” attitude, most of us. We’ve accepted the health authorities’ strictures and done the right things. Look at Victoria: a raging hot spot in June, and now zero transmission three or four months later. People accepted the rules. I think we as a country can be proud.

There’s an article in The Guardian today by an epidemiologist https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/dec/07/arriving-in-the-us-from-australia-during-covid-was-like-walking-through-the-looking-glass which is worth quoting from:

“Both the US and Australia are responding to the same pandemic, but you would hardly know it. In the US, magical thinking and the elevation of individual freedom above the public good have squandered precious time. The number of deaths each day in the US quadrupled in just the four weeks after I landed in New York. Today it is up 30% in the past 14 days. Hospitals are reaching capacity and beyond.”

“Australia has shown that the response to a pandemic needs to be strict. Lives and a nation’s economy hang in the balance. The response needs to be evidence-based. Precise. Coordinated. Thorough. Caring. Impartial. Transparent. Legally enacted and enforced. Strongly led and clearly communicated. Tough. Really tough. Because that’s what it takes to control a pandemic.”

As I said, she’s an epidemiologist and teaches courses in public health. In this country, we listen to the experts. I pity the USA and hope my cousins stay safe.

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Gondola, digitally painted.

I’ve just received an A4 envelope from my cousin Stephen in the USA containing about a dozen handwritten letters my father wrote to him starting in the late 1980s and going through to around 2000. I’m extremely pleased.

I can now add them to the 50 odd other letters I had scanned, before the whole lot was somehow taken from me and given to the Battye Library by my dear sister, without my knowledge, permission and behind my back. I hadn’t finished!! A bit later, she asked me to return that big envelope to her, forgetting that she’d made this unauthorised donation. As this was at the time in 2010 when I was under enormous stress in trying to pack all my things to move to Bali to live, it nearly sent me crazy. I knew I’d had it but I couldn’t find it. No wonder.

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Like mother, like daughter. In the whole nearly eight years since I moved to this new house, my sister’s son and daughter have not bothered to pick up the phone to enquire about me, their uncle, even though they must know that I’ve had some serious health problems in that time. We used to get along famously so I don’t understand what I’ve done to deserve this treatment.

Hear hear

Nice shot! Lots of planning to get this. © Zachery Cooley

I’m just back from an appointment with an ENT man, that’s Ear, Nose and Throat specialist. I’ve noticed for many years that my right ear is not as good as the left and earlier this year I mentioned it to a high school friend, Viv White, who is an audiologist. Well, before you could say snap, crackle and pop she had me in for a hearing test. That was back in late January, pre-COVID.

Sure enough, it showed the right ear less sensitive, and both ears showing declining HF responses, rolling off at around 8KHz. By the way, when I started work at the TV station in the late 1960s, I/we used to be driven mad (a bit) by the TV line frequency whistle at 15,625KHz, so that shows how far my HF hearing has declined.

Anyway, Viv said she thought she could see something a bit odd about my right tympanic membrane (that’s eardrum to you and me) so she recommended an inspection by this ENT guy, just across the road from her rooms in Duncraig.

He was very easy to get along with and after removing a bit of wax from both ears, he said the eardrum just has a couple of scars, possibly from tears in years gone past that have repaired themselves. Nothing to worry about, in other words. So that was that. I really don’t have any worries about my hearing. I don’t feel the need for any hearing aid, which is not bad for a 73, nearly 74 year old.

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On the other hand … yesterday I was working on getting my car radio properly installed. When I finished, I tried to start the car. Click. Nothing, Damn, flat battery, so I charged it overnight. Got in again today and went to start it – click again, but this time I realised I’d moved the gear selector out of the way to Drive. Duh!!

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Nota Bene: You know how I latch onto coincidences, right? Here’s the latest. I was listening to the radio in the car and being digital (DAB+) it shows the titles of the music. This one was by a 19th century composer I’ve never heard of, surname Nota (probably Italian).

After my appointment I bought a magazine and lunch. The magazine is Car and one of the articles is about Italian cars. Guess who features? Mr Nota. I can’t find the article at this moment to give his full name, but … there ya go again.

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I bought the magazine because after that stupid German company Bauer Media closed down my favourite magazine, Modern Classics, in August, they tried to get us to sign on for a new subscription to Car.

No thanks. I enjoyed reading Car, but as usual it’s all about high end stuff like Ferraris, Porsches, Maserati’s, Aston Martins, Roll-Royces and so on. I want articles about cars I might be interested in. OR, articles about cars from the golden years, the 80s, 90, 00s, as Modern Classics used to do.

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The COVID vaccine is getting closer and closer. I’m not worried and I can wait, but after medical and hospital staff, then aged carers, I should be next in line, being elderly (sob!) and with reduced immune system and co-morbidities. I wonder which vaccine we’ll get.

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I’m off to a small dinner gathering at the pub at Clarkson at 6.30pm, comprising members of the ALP in this, John Quigley’s electorate. I don’t know if he’ll be there but I’m a bit of a fan of his. This is the second attempt. Last week, I was the only one to reply to the invitation. I wonder how many will be there this time.