Ooops, oh dear, never mind

A real shot of Saturn.

Ah, autumn is starting. It’s a bit cooler, temps in the high twenties and low thirties, but more noticeable are the cooler night time temps. We got down to 11deg last night. I start out on top of the covers, no fan, but move under the doona around 1.30am for a good sleep. Still cold showers, I think I can last until April.

I heard one of Michael Moseley’s health programs last week explaining the immune system. It made the point that when we’re put into “fight or flight” mode, ie stress, our body produces hormones and chemicals (I can’t remember the details) which boost our immune system, temporarily. We don’t want these chemicals all the time as they can be harmful, but they did recommend a cold ending to your showers, to stimulate this release. This was referring to the UK where a cold shower would be really cold, so my fully cold showers wouldn’t be quite the same but close enough, I think. So I’ll continue.

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I felt very embarrassed and stupid this afternoon. I pride myself on having a very good sense for where the corners of my car are. I almost never nudge anything, but I must admit I did nudge a car in the shopping centre car park today.

It was at very low, crawl speed as I pulled into a bay. I looked and there was no-one in the car. Once I’d parked I got out and was embarrassed to see a woman talking to the driver in the car (he must have just got back) and pointing at me. Uurrgh. The guy got out and looked at his rear bumper (plastic, like mine) and there was a fairly large white mark on it from my car.

Luckily he rubbed it with his hand and most of it came off – it was really very light. He was very good about it. I apologised deeply and he said, “Oh, it’ll be OK. It’s OK.” Phew, thank goodness. I said sorry again and it was all done, but I was highly embarrassed.

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I’ve got my appointment to have my COVID injection (I’m not going to use the cliche word, jab!) It will be the Astra Zeneca one. I’m booked in on 13 April at my local medical centre. It’s only a 5 minute appointment, they’re planning to get a lot done and because we have to sit in the waiting area, they have to rush us through as they don’t have enough room for a crowd.

Then it’s a 12 week wait for the second one. I’m feeling a bit impatient because I’ve really, really got the hots to go to Melbourne or Sydney to buy one of those Peugeot 407 Coupes and drive it back. Really keen. Stupid.

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I’ve had a call from the installer to come out and fit two hand rails for me, one in the shower, one in the toilet. This is a free service from Osborne Park Hospital Rehabilitation Centre for “aged” people like me. Yes, free. No charge. Not bad. I didn’t ask for this. They just seem to have my name in their books and phoned me one day a few months ago to ask if they could call out here to see what I need.

So that’s what happened. The lovely Sophie came here a couple of weeks ago, measured up and wrote things down, and here we go – he’s coming on Monday. Fine with me if it’s free.

I must admit, things are getting harder. My balance in the shower is not as good as it was and I have to pull myself up with the door frame from the toilet. My fault, if I lost 20kg…….

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I’ve finished another book, science fiction this time. It was Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. What a strange book. I don’t know quite what to say about it, except that I finished it, so it held my attention to the end.

Set far in the future, it’s the story of a six year old boy called Ender Wiggin (hence the name), who’s picked at a very early age as being exceptionally bright. He’s taken from his parents and brother and sister to be sent into space to a training school where for the next five years he’s put through leadership and combat training with other boys his age with games in zero or low gravity in a simulator.

The objective is to find the future commanders of space warfare fighting forces to defend Earth against a future attack by aliens called Buggers (really?). He does exceptionally well and eventually is put in charge of what he thinks is the final training session, against massively outnumbering Bugger forces. He wins, of course, and comes away exhausted. Only then do the regular army commanders tell him that it wasn’t a training session, it was the actual final battle with the real aliens.

There’s a lot more to the story, including all the dynamics of his relationships with his brother and sister, and a rather lame ending, but it’s very well written. If it held my attention despite the weird story line, it must have been good.

I’ve always liked science fiction provided it’s based on science. I’ve always found most so-called SF books are simply stories of Earth situations transferred into space, ie cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians. No deal, not for me. Or else, they start out with a good idea, such as launching a mission to the Sun with a giant sun shield, but degenerate into a stupid story of space ghosts or similar.

The best author I’ve ever read was Dr Robert L. Forward. His doctorate was in astrophysics and it showed. Unfortunately he couldn’t develop believable dialogue very well, writing childlike dialogue at times, but his space situations were very far thinking and solidly based in science and physics.

The current king of SF, for me, is the Brit, Stephen Baxter, once again a PhD in astrophysics so he is qualified. His stories are truly mind expanding, but I must admit I find his books lack tension. The stories, although interesting, tend to meander along with nothing much happening.

However, I read his book Titan a couple of years ago, about a voyage to Saturn’s moon, Titan, to scope it out as a refuge for an Earth colony. Considering it has a surface temperature of about -200C and is frozen methane, it seems a tall order, but boy, that one held my attention.

I’ll buy any new Stephen Baxter book that comes out.

Likewise, I’m a big fan of another UK author, Robert Goddard. He’s nothing to do with SF but he’s very prolific, writing mystery novels, mostly set in the south-west of England. The thing is, he’s a great story teller, in fact I’d go so far as to say a very skilful story teller. He’s written many books, more than 30 I think, and I’ve read them all. He writes a new one every year and I think it’s time I checked to see if there’s a new one.

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