Only one more month (of winter)

A reverse chrome plated sway bar with neoprene grease nipples? Yair, we had one of those come in last week.

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More rain today, and grey skies, same as yesterday and the day before, and before… The forecast is for a fine day next Thursday, thank goodness.

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Nonetheless, I’ve had quite a good day, after a good sleep! I’m having trouble waking up, or more correctly, staying awake after I initially wake in the morning. Before I know it, another couple of hours have gone by. Must work on this as spring and summer arrive.

Anyway, I made a trip to Aldi to buy a specific item. For about 25 years I’ve had one of these:


It’s a Tefal Quick_Cup. It heats water to just below boiling and pumps it out of the spout into your cup. The point is, you only heat enough water for a cup’s worth. You don’t boil a whole kettle for one cup.

It’s still working, but it drips a lot and is stained and gunky. They went off the market years ago and I often wondered if I’d ever be able to replace it.

Well, today Aldi is selling these:

It’s $70. I think my Tefal cost around $100 all those years ago. As you can see, the new one’s got a temperature readout, adjustable temperature with four presets, and adjustable amounts of water dispensed. Suits me, so I bought one this morning. I may be able to give my old one to a friend. (It’s in not bad condition.)

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While I was at Aldi, I ran into an old work colleague, Graham, from the Channel 7 days, and we had a good chat. I’m very pleased, because Graham is one of the good guys, a nice guy. We go back about 50 years there, I think. He’s just turned 70 and is about to retire, and since we live only five minutes apart, I hope we’ll be able to share some coffees and stories. He knows my house.

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Then it was sushi lunch at the Butler shops. Later at the BWS bottle shop I was a bit flabbergasted when I bought my beer for the week. I bought three four can packs of designer beer and as I was paying, the young guy said, “You’re not buying it for those kids are you?”

Huh?? I didn’t understand and asked him to repeat. He pointed to three youths across the way, on the seats, and said it again, asking me if I was buying for them. He said it was a bit common, older guys (like me?) buying grog for under agers.

Whaaat? I said “No!, It wouldn’t occur to me.” I didn’t arc up, but I thought, “What is this crap?” He apologised and said he didn’t mean to suggest I would. But that’s what he was doing, suggesting it. I walked away feeling quite annoyed.

Considering I had to show the contents of my (hand)bag at Aldi before the checkout lady would serve me, I am bloody offended! They are casting accusations. I’m not happy.

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I had a follow-up appointment with the skin cancer surgeon last Tuesday. Aaaarrrrgh! That guy is chronically late! Two bloody hours I waited! At the end, I was considering leaving. I went out into the common area and asked a nurse if he was actually in the building. She apologised and said he’s just here (in the next room).

I think I’ve had about eight appointments in the past five months and he’s been seriously late for every one of them, including the surgeries. It took three months from the time I first made an appointment to get to see him, during which I reckon the skin cancer was growing and becoming more painful.

That first visit took a 1 3/4hr wait. Then the first surgery was 1 1/2hrs late. And so on. The second surgery was 3 1/2hrs late. And now this. I don’t know how skilled he is, but I will not recommend him.

Especially since he had to redo the surgery, because he wasn’t sure he got enough out. Did I get it free? No way, he charged for it again, including making me pay a $600 gap fee. Plus $300 up front, before the op, for the anaesthetist.

Anyway, the result of Tuesday is that I have a good, healthy healing line on the back half of the circular wound, nearest my ear, but the front half has healed in a lumpy ridge, forming a very noticeable scar. He spent a couple of minutes examining it and sucking his teeth before saying he doesn’t know whether it’s still healing, or whether the cancer is still growing under the skin and forming the lumps.

So it will either heal, in time, and the lumps will get smaller, in which case, all well and good. Or it will stay the same, in which case I will have a big scar line.

OR, the lumps will get bigger, in which case the cancer is still growing. Bloody hell! I have to have another appointment in six weeks’ time to see the progress.

I’m losing confidence in this guy.

Still here

Turkish mosque, Istanbul.

Wow, eighteen days since the last post – sorry about that. Life’s a bit hum drum, that’s all. (Hum drum, strange saying. I wonder where that comes from. I must look it up. It’s good that we have Google and Wikipedia and so on to easily find things like that these days.)

I’ve had no side effects from my two vaccinations and it’s three weeks since the last one, so I’m all armoured up. Boy, don’t we live in the safest place on Earth? Sure, it’s the most isolated city on Earth but for once, it works in our favour.

It’s a rare fine day today, in the midst of the wettest July in many years. I’ll bet the farmers are happy. This is like the winters of old, rain nearly every day, soggy paddocks. Still, better not speak too loudly or there’ll be some new anomaly – like the driest August and September on record, or something.

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I watched the Olympics Opening Ceremony last night and quite enjoyed it. Agreed, it didn’t have the spectacle of the ones in years gone by, but it was dignified and had enough sparkle, but no too much. For me, the drone display was a highlight (literally!) and the perfect opening of the ball on top of the Fujiyama mountain replica was impressive. Typical Japanese engineering, smooth and reliable.

I only read this morning that not all teams were in full strength due to crowd limits. Russia sure looked diminished. The Americans were on form, showing some of their usual arrogance with their chants of U-S-A, U-S-A, but they stopped after a few.

I’m not a fan of the Aussie team colours. Green and gold are not a pleasant combination to me, and sharing the colours with Brazil grates. Red, white and blue, with green and gold flashes mixed with red, black and yellow for the Aboriginal flag. It can be done.

I’m not much interested in watching the sports themselves, but no doubt I’ll dip in at times. It’s good that it’s in our time zone.

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I do feel something for the Sydney people and I wouldn’t like to be going through their ordeal with the COVID Delta virus outbreak there.

BUT…. we’ve had to put up with their slander of our state all last year, and this. Their arrogance and “Masters of the Universe” attitude is too much to take.

So when they appeal to us to send our supplies of vaccine over, well Gladys, perhaps you should apologise for the bad things you’ve said about us, even just the ones this year. Only two months ago she was criticising Victoria in know-it-all tones. It’s about time she listened to Mark McGowan on how to do lock-downs properly. Fat chance of that.

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The tyre pressure warning has come on in Evie. It feels normal and looks normal so I don’t think I’ve got a flat tyre, but it’s good to see that it works. I have my trusty Aldi pump and I’ll check them asap.

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I’ve just finished another Kindle book, another one of 770 pages, called the War Planners Vol. 1. It’s quite a clever plot: a couple of dozen people (in the USA, of course) are contacted and asked to go voluntarily from their high level, high tech jobs, and be flown to a secret location, to fulfil their commitments to a CIA/NSA group for a national emergency.

When they get there, they’re told that China is secretly planning to invade the USA. Their task is to anticipate the ways China could arrange this attack, using their highly secret knowledge.

It all appears to be legitimate and they believe what they’re told, for the first few days. But odd things start to happen and one of the US guys gets suspicious. Sure enough, it becomes clear that the Chinese, using implanted people within the US, are getting information from this group to plan an attack.

From then on, it’s a bit like a very long action movie, but it’s very well written. The author is a former Navy pilot and writes authentically, about helicopters, especially. The author is Andrew Watts and he’s a much better writer than James Rosone was, with the exception that Watts writes the micro story, full of detail on a smaller scale, whereas Rosone’s scope is nothing less than nation against nation, full of strategy and the big picture. But full of spelling mistakes and silly errors too. Both are good.

There are another five or six books by Watts, so it looks like I’ve got a lotta reading ahead.

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I had an odd thing yesterday. I went to Aldi (for the first time in months, more later). I usually carry a couple of dollar coins in my shorts pocket for the trolley, but this day I didn’t have a coin, nor in my wallet.

A young boy was returning a trolley and I asked him if I could have his coin, in exchange for silver coins. He looked very doubtful and said, “I’ll have to ask my mum.” OK, so I waited while he went over to a car nearby. Nothing happened, he didn’t come back, so I started walking towards the car. But she moved off, and the closer I got, the more she accelerated away. Zoom, gone. So I went back to the trolley to get my free coin and I found it was an Aldi token, the kind you put on your key ring. Bonus. So I’ve got a free trolley token. Strange.

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The reason I haven’t been to Aldi for months is that they used to sell a lot of tools, hardware and machinery, and I bought a lot. But for some reason, they seemed to stop selling that stuff, so I stopped going.

A few days ago they emailed their latest catalogue and bingo, they were selling all my kind of stuff, so I went on Thursday. But there was almost nothing there, not even any evidence of where it had been. Maybe I’ve got the wrong day, I thought.

I asked the checkout lady on the way out: “It’s all sold out”, she said. Huh?

So that shows how popular it is. Surely they should realise this, and realise that when that’s being sold, that gets me in for my regular shopping as well. Otherwise, I don’t go.

All pumped up

Loch in Scotland © PJ Croft 2008, 2021

Yep, pumped up with antibodies. I had my second COVID-19 Astra Zeneca vaccination this afternoon so I feel invulnerable. Ho ho, nothing is certain, but you’d have to be very, very, incredibly unlucky to catch Corona now, or indeed, to get blood clots. I’m not worried.

I asked if we get a card, or a certificate or a badge to officially prove we’ve been jabbed twice, but although she gave me a printout of my vaccination record since 2013 when I became a regular patient at this medical centre, there’s nothing else.

She did say that if I go to my MyGov website account, I should find a record there that I can print out. OK, I guess I’ll check that in a couple of days. But without some serious government certificate or card to show, anyone can say they’ve been fully vaccinated, even if they haven’t had even one. I want a nice badge I can wear to show people that I’m safe. Maybe I could design one and sell it on the web. I would require proof before I would issue one.

Hah, do I want hassles? Not likely.

By the way, have you heard this Aussie slang? What kind of beer will you have? I’ll have a virus, thanks.
Virus – Corona, yeah?

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Wow, what a start to winter. Sunday was our wettest July day for 20 years and June was remarkably cold. For my northern hemisphere readers, “remarkably cold” means 16-17C maxima and 3-6C minima. That’s a normal spring or summer day for you, isn’t it? For me it just means I put on a cardigan each day and throw on a cotton blanket on top of my lightweight doona. I don’t need a blanket under the doona, on top of the sheet. I’m warm enough.

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By the way, remember last year I had a big leak on my side of the water meter, where there’s a T-piece for the reticulation pipe. ‘Course you don’t.

Anyway, my water bill at that time was about $540. Ouch. I had to wear it because it was my pipe that leaked and I neglected it.

Then a couple of months ago, a Water Corp guy turned up to replace my water meter, which was faulty. I didn’t realise it. Job done.

Come 12 months later, my water bill up to 31 May arrived, and whammo, it was $545.02. Funny, I thought, I haven’t been having big baths or double showers each day.

You guessed it: when I looked closely at the bill, the amount of water used this year was within 4L of the same period last year. Yes, because the meter had started again from zero, they had just repeated the amount from last year. But that was the time of the big leak, and it’s not leaking now.

So I got onto the Water Corp and showed them this graph, from their last bill:

The 16L quantity from Jan – Mar 2021 is obvious and would have led them to the faulty meter. But the next two quantities, 4224 L and 4228L are a bit outlandish.

I got a very bright and friendly reply from them agreeing with my assessment and promising to investigate and work out a correction.

By coincidence, their new assessment arrived just now and they’ve credited my account with $436.92, so my usage was reduced to about $80. With that amount of credit, I shouldn’t have to pay anything for quite a few months to come. Very satisfactory.

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I’ve just had to spell bureaucracy in another post. Boy, I have trouble with that word. I’m a pretty good speller, but that one gets me.

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I should have sold the Verada by now, but it’s chosen just this time develop a fault where it won’t start. Or rather, it starts but immediately dies. Second go, starts again, but immediately dies and so on.

I was stumped, but I reckon, I have a hunch, that a tube or hose has fallen off in the engine bay. I haven’t had a look yet, too cold and wet and windy, but I’ll try to fix it myself before I call the RAC.

Speaking of the RAC, I was very pleased to get a letter from them around the 16th of May, which was the 50th anniversary of my membership, enclosing a new membership card, gold and saying 50 Years Gold Member. And in a small velvet bag was a nice gold coloured key ring pendant/medal with the RAC logo on the front and my name engraved on the back.

At last! That’s only a small reward, but it’s nice to finally be recognised after all these years.

Boring, boring

Somewhere in the NT. From an ABC news story.

Yeah, it’s a long time since I wrote, sorry. We’re back in lockdown again, I’m afraid, but it’s only a short one, and if things don’t go suddenly bad, it should end at midnight on Saturday. It doesn’t really affect me, each day is the same to me. I self isolate as a way of life.

Unfortunately, the woman who brought the virus home from Sydney last week is from this northern beachside area and even did some shopping at the Coles shop that I use, at Ocean Keys, Clarkson. I usually do my weekly grocery shopping there on Fridays, but strangely, for some reason, I shopped at a different local shopping centre on that Friday. Sixth sense?

I’m due for my second vaccination shot on Tuesday, so that will be good. I feel pretty safe. Keep buying those LOTTO tickets, eh?

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I did a bit of grocery shopping at a local IGA shop on Tuesday. This is the one that closed down for about a year, crushed by the competition from the new Butler Village with its Woolworths supermarket.

Then last year, it opened again. Whacko! I was pleased because it’s convenient for me. The downside is that it’s much more expensive, so you have to accept that. It’s not for your regular weekly fill.

They even started staying open 24 hours, although why anyone would want to buy groceries at 3am is beyond me. That would have been a boring, boring shift.

But sad to say, it’s visibly dying again. Whole blocks of cold cabinets are boarded up. A whole double row of shelves has been removed. The opening hours are back to 9pm closing. I do my best to support them but you have to accept that you’re paying a donation on your bill.

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Attached to the supermarket is a Cellarbrations liquor shop and I find their prices to be very competitive, so I tend to use them.

In the past couple of years I’ve been chatting a lot to a woman behind the counter there, and last Tuesday I was surprised to find that she’s from Iceland! Name of Helena. She treated me to some Icelandic speech, which I think is a dialect of Swedish; I must ask her about that. She’s got a broad Aussie accent, though, having grown up in Perth.

I happen to be watching a series on Netflix at the moment, set in Iceland, called Kapla. Phew, it’s a bleak, raw place. Spectacular scenery, but cold and windy. It’s the subject of many photo essays these days, but after the first few, they tend to have a certain sameness about them

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I mentioned the Kindle books I’ve been reading by James Rosone and Miranda Watson, on the theme of what World War 3 might be like. All I can say is, WOW!

Don’t expect literary masterpieces. These are just an ex-US Army guy writing from a veteran’s knowledge. But he has a very wide view and what he writes is very, very plausible. I have the feeling that he writes the military action stuff, and his co-writer Miranda Watson writes the “interior” stuff, the meetings and conferences where strategy is discussed by the President and the military and civilian chiefs.

I read the six novels in the first series about one scenario. I’m now about a quarter of the way into book four of the second series, a different scenario involving nuclear war in the Middle East after New York and Newark are destroyed by two nuclear devices brought in on ships.

In this scenario, Japan reneges on its commitment to come to the aid of the USA, trying to stay neutral, then compounds the betrayal by buckling to pressure from China to form an alliance and commit to a surprise attack on the US West Coast, California. They use the deception that they are still friendly to the US to spring a surprise attack on Los Angeles. I’m only at that point so far, but I have the feeling that they may be in line for another nuclear response from the US on the Japanese mainland.

I’m afraid these second series novels are riddled with spelling and grammatical errors, probably one per page. Given each book averages 400 pages, that’s a lot of errors.

One especially ridiculous editing failure is that when detailing meetings of the British war cabinet, they repeatedly call men with knighthoods, such as General Sir Michael Browne, or Admiral Sir James Parkinson, as “Sir Browne”, or “Sir Parkinson” and so on. It seems elementary to me. They couldn’t have done much research.