I Really, Really Am Psychic. I think.

Busselton 1993. © PJ Croft

Aaaah, Spring at last. Temps in the mid to high twenties, even into the thirties. Doona off at night. Doors left open. That’s more like it.

I’ll also be getting more sun on my body. Two doctors have told me recently that my vitamin D is too low and I’ve been told to take three supplementary Vitamin D pills each morning. What goes around – I developed Ricketts when I was very young. That’s a disease of developing countries, from malnutrition and lack of sunlight. It causes bone deformities if it’s bad enough and it caused my legs to be out of proportion to my body, that is, they’re too short. They didn’t grow properly. I could never fit a bike, being too short for the pedals, and I always had to get trousers shortened. Heh heh, that’s no longer a problem. Why, have my legs grown? No, I never wear long ‘uns any more.

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Which reminds me of the shortness of our lives. A good mate I used to work with at Channel 7 died a few days ago from an aggressive brain tumour. He was a few years younger than me. Very intelligent guy and widely liked. R.I.P. Andy. It’s hard to believe you’re gone.

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This is incredible. I’m reading a book, The Silent Wind (ooopsie) The Wild Silence by Raynor Winn (about whom more in a minute). She writes very movingly of her dying mother who had a stroke in the hospital after a bout of pneumonia. As a result she couldn’t swallow and became distressed. The doctor decided she should be given hyoscine, a drug which relieves gastric problems.

I’d never heard of hyoscine before. So what should crop up the very next day but an article on the ABC News web site about hyoscine! I nearly choked and could hardly swallow. This is crazy – so soon and so relevant.

Then the name Olof Palme popped into my head a couple of weeks ago. He was the Swedish prime minister who was assassinated by a mentally ill guy about 25 years ago. You guessed it, SBS is running a documentary about the Olof Palme assassination. I suppose I probably heard an SBS promo without being aware I’d heard it. It made me shiver, though.

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I said I’d say more about Raynor Winn. Last year I wrote about a book she’d written called The Salt Path. It’s the true story of how this elderly couple lost everything in a failed business, which was nothing to do with them. They had been persuaded to invest their small savings and became directors without their knowledge. Unfortunately, when the business failed, they became liable for its debts. Their lifelong friend, who had persuaded them to invest, disappeared overseas.

As a result, they lost everything, and I mean everything. They owned a small farm in the foothills in Wales and let a small outbuilding for B&B and a small income. It all went to the bank. They fought it in the courts, but the bank won. All they had left was what they could carry in rucksacks, bought with the proceeds of the sale of their old van.

As well, Moth, the husband, was diagnosed at the same time with a degenerative brain disease with no cure. Can you imagine it?

They hit on the idea that they would just walk the coastal path along the Cornish peninsula and kind of see what turned up. The story builds around the idea that Moth’s brain disease goes into remission. They don’t know why or how, but the strong message is that exercise was the cure. Moth had been staggering and falling, but regained his strength and when they had completed the 670 mile walk, and found a room at a friend’s place, he was well enough to go back to university (in his late 50s).

It was a brilliant book. You wouldn’t think a description of a 670 mile walk could fill a book and hold your interest, but she’s a gifted writer. I enjoyed that book more than any I’ve read in recent years and I’ll probably read it again.

Now she’s back with a new book, The Silent Wind (ooops), The Wild Silence by Raynor Winn. I wondered what she’d find to write about and the first part of the book tells of how she and Moth met and got married. They were always walkers, campers and climbers, so walking the Salt Path was somewhat natural. They had two kids, by the way, but they were away at uni when the catastrophe happened and were in no position to provide any financial help for their parents.

Then she spends several long chapters describing her mother and their relationship, and her mother’s illness and eventual death in the hospital. It’s very moving, but beautifully written. This woman is a born writer.

They’re living in a room at the back of a church in Fowey, Cornwall, subsisting on Moth’s student allowance at the university. Dinner consists of pea risotto, frozen peas and rice.

Raynor notices that Moth is becoming weaker again, although he tries to gloss over it. She also knows that he got better when they were walking. Why? Raynor has been studying all she can find on-line (they can afford internet and a mobile phone). At the point I’m at, she finds a reference in a medical article that speaks of the vapours and oils that plants produce wafting invisibly into the air. Could it be that the plant vapours, which we never normally notice, are producing beneficial effects as we absorb them in the outdoors? Stay tuned for the continuation. Or buy the book.

I would nominate these books for a prize and as I said, they are worth re-reading. Highly recommended. Amazon.

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I’ve bought another camera. Hah! As if I didn’t have about a dozen good digital cameras already. No, always room for one more.

It’s a 20Mp Sony mirrorless camera with interchangeable lenses in the Sony E-mount. It came with the kit lens, an 18 – 50mm AF zoom. It does all the usual things, hi-def video included. It’s near new. I bought it from an advertiser on Facebook Marketplace. She said she wanted to go back to Canon and she seemed to know her cameras, because she has bought a Canon R. Wow.

This is a 30Mp high end full frame mirrorless with Canon’s new R mount. This is serious money, about A$2,250 for the body alone. She had to buy an adapter to make her existing EOS lenses fit, another couple of hundred dollars. She must be an enthusiast.

Why did I buy her Sony? For many years I’ve had two Contax G cameras, the G1 and G2, and three Zeiss lenses for them.

Contax G2 with Zeiss 28mm lens. Image © Ken Rockwell.

I have the lens shown above, the 28mm Biogon, plus the 35mm Planar and 90mm Sonnar. These lenses are legendary for their sharpness, contrast and rendering. All the metal of the bodies and lenses is titanium. Beautiful cameras.

Trouble is, they’re film cameras and film is too expensive to buy, process and scan. For me, it’s not practical any more, so these two bodies and three lenses have been sitting in a camera bag, not gathering dust but unused.

As well, they are autofocus lenses but the focus area is only a small patch in the centre of the frame. There are no focus rings, so you can’t adjust focus, and they’re rangefinder lenses and viewfinders, so you can’t see whether you’re in focus or not. You do get a distance scale in the finder, but it’s guesswork about whether the distance indicated is what you want. The viewfinder is always in focus. The result was that I don’t think I ever got a decently focused picture in all the time I used them.

I have bought an adapter to Micro 4/3 so I can use them on my Olympus OM-D E-M1, but focusing involves operating a little metal wheel in the base of the lens. It’s very clunky, so I haven’t used it much.

Anyway, this is a long winded way of introducing a new adapter, the Shoten GTE AF adapter for Contax/Zeiss G lenses to Sony E-mount. Voila!

This gives full electronic coupling (via the usual gold pins) for aperture control and most importantly, auto-focus. Hooray!

So I needed a Sony E-mount camera to use the lenses with, hence buying a relatively inexpensive Sony Alpha camera ($350, including the 18 – 50mm) lens. The adapter is bloody expensive A$650 on eBay, but I’ll sell some other stuff to pay for it. If this works out, I’ll possibly buy a better body such as the one shown below, except I’ll buy an A6600, not the A7C.

Phwoooaaar. Instructions are below image.

Anyway, I didn’t buy that Ford Probe that I showed in the last post, so I’ve saved a few thousand there. 😉 The adapter’s on order from China and having received a confirmation e-mail, I hope to get it in the next couple of weeks.

I’d like to post a sample image from the Zeiss/Contax G cameras to show the lens quality, but in all the years I’ve had them, I can’t think of a single image worth posting. Very disappointing cameras. Let’s hope I can get something out of the lenses at last.

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I had to drive down to Baldivis to collect the Sony camera and what a boring, uncomfortable drive on a warm to hot 33deg day. It reminded me that the aircon on the Peugeot 407 isn’t working (I was told about it when I bought it) and I should get it fixed. And bloody road works on the freeway. From around Joondalup almost all the way to Osborne Park, they’re widening it, so there are only two lanes open, there are barriers all the way and the speed limit is 80Kmh. Frustrating, slow-down, speed-up travel. It will be this way for the next year, I reckon. They work very slowly.

That’s the first really long drive that I’ve made in that car, 82.7Km. It was comfortable enough except for the drumming if I have the driver’s side window down part way. I have to lower the passenger side a bit too, to minimise the resonance. Thank goodness for power windows.

Then I came back via the Rockingham Road coastal route, past Fremantle and through Cottesloe. I prefer that drive to the freeway, but the traffic lights drive me mad. There’s no synchronisation at all, so you can set off from being stopped at a red, and 150 – 300m later there’s another red light. Traffic lights after traffic lights! Infuriating.

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