One thing after another!

What is this? Missiles firing.

Oh, woe is me. More car troubles. First, my left front tyre on the Pug (Evie) is going flat and I’m getting a “Tyre deflated” warning in the dash. I don’t know why – it must be a slow puncture. I noticed it at the shops and it got me home OK, and it’s not actually flat, but …

OK, so I need to open the boot to change to the spare wheel (if it comes to that). But, I don’t know how it’s happened, the boot has closed and latched itself and I still can’t open it by the press button switch! That means I’m back where I started last week, having to squirm inside via the back seat. I’ll have a go myself this time. Maybe. Maybe it might have to be the RAC guy. I still need to get them out for a battery for the Honda-san.

That means out of three cars, I may not have a working one at the moment (one’s away on loan). I’ve got to sell two of them! Owning three cars is ridiculous when I rarely drive anyway.

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I’ve been on a shopping (groceries and beer) trip and as I was walking out to the car I heard a young boy singing:
Oooh, eee, ooh ah ah,
Ting tang, walla walla bing bang
Oooh eee, ooh ah ah
Ting tang walla walla bing bang.

Do you remember that song? There are more words, that I can’t remember at the moment, but I was struck by hearing it coming from a boy of about 10 years of age. I used to know that from the late 1950s, early 1960s, yet it’s still around. I wanted to stop and talk to him about it, to ask him if he knows the words, but I was too busy pushing the trolley. Amazing, that it’s still a current song.

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Speaking of “the olden days”, on the radio they’re asking what we used to have for sandwiches then. Quite a few of the callers listed white bread sandwiches with tomato and cheese, of course. I can clearly remember how the very ripe, red tomato used to go soggy in the sandwich, which I loved.

The cheese then was almost always Kraft processed cheese in a silver (aluminium) foil block, which I also liked a lot. I think you can still buy it but I’m not sure. Except when a bit of the foil got incorporated into the sandwich, sending shooting pains through my teeth when I bit on it. It was “farm cheese” because it didn’t need refrigeration, because fridges were not common or very small then.

The bread was invariably white because that was all we knew about then. If I had my way, I’d still be eating it, but we’re put off by the bad health stories these days. Then “brown bread” came in, but it was really just white bread with a brown colouring to trick us into thinking it had health benefits. It did taste a bit malty, but that was just the colouring.

The other fillings were polony (I haven’t had that in decades!), fish paste, tomato and lettuce, sardines and of course, Vegemite. With nice, salty butter. YUM! I prefer Master Foods Pro-mite these days, but Vegemite’s still good.

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I’m reading the current issue of Silicon Chip magazine at the moment (I highly recommend it), and the main article is the history of the transistor. I’ve mentioned before that it parallels my life, because both began in 1947. The first working transistor was patented in December 1947.

By the time I began my working life in 1966, the first commercially available transistors, available over the counter, were just coming into use. The germanium OC71 was the first I remember, costing about a dollar or so (decimal currency had just started that year, too). Most of our equipment at Channel 7 was still valves (glass bottle “finger warmers”) and it was hard to keep going. We were forever pulling valves for testing on an Avo Valve Tester, trying to interpret the meters and gauges. Do I pass this valve or do I throw it away? Boring job!

Anyway, I recommend another article this month: a mini spot welder. If you’ve ever pulled a NiCad or Li-Ion battery pack apart, you’ll know that the cells are all connected in parallel by thin strips of nickel-steel, spot welded onto the ends of the batteries. You can pull them apart, but you can’t usually do spot welding at home.

This article describes a capacitor discharge spot welder suitable for home building for this type of job. I think it’s a brilliant idea and if I wasn’t so close to the end of my life, I’d build it.

I might also build the Battery Zapper project from a few years ago. When a lead acid battery is allowed to go completely flat (as is happening to me too often!), lead sulfate accumulates on the plates, stopping the lead-acid process and preventing charging. This “Zapper” applies high voltage pulses which shake or “zap” the lead sulfate off the plates and allow it to resume charging.

The problem is that a kit of parts costs between $75 – $90 and I can’t see that I would get enough use out of it to justify this cost. If I were younger ….

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I mentioned a few weeks ago that I need a battery automatic switch to automatically disconnect the battery when the voltage drops below a certain figure, e.g. 10V, to prevent this sulfation. I was going to suggest a Silicon Chip project, but I think I’ve found the ideal part.

I assume you put it in series with the positive lead. Around $60 … not cheap, but if it saves the cost of a $230 battery, it would be worthwhile. Hmmm.

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Reviewing

Amed, on the north-east coast of Bali. That’s sunrise in the east. © PJ Croft 2022.

Cloudy but fine. That’s the weather report but it’s also a brilliant advertising slogan for Coopers Ales. They let the beer ferment in the bottle and don’t filter it any further, leaving a small residue of yeast and hops in the bottom. Therefore the beer comes out cloudy. I love it, including the yeasty residue. It’s fine.

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Being a news junkie, I can’t help but be affected by all the terrible news coming from local sources (huge bushfires in WA this summer just gone, record heatwaves), terrible floods over east, the war in Ukraine, the pandemic and above all, climate change, environmental damage and species extinctions. There doesn’t seem to be much good news these days and although I shouldn’t say this, it makes me somewhat thankful that I don’t have many years left of my life. At 75, I’m very aware of the charmed life I’ve had, golden years of good, free education, good jobs and cheap accessible housing (relatively speaking).

I feel sorry for the young people born around the millennium, the Millennials. They have tough barriers to climb: expensive education, not bad job prospects but in mediocre careers if they’re without a degree, the worry of the Ukrainian conflict but worse, the aggression of China, the fear of a new world war, more pandemics, but worst of all, being priced out of the housing market. To be condemned to a lifetime of renting, with all its uncertainties, would worry me to hell.

As well, we, the Boomers and our predecessors and successors have damaged the climate and the environment so badly that it leads to despair.

As I see it, it’s my duty to make as small a footprint as I can, by recycling everything, only buying what I need, minimising waste, using solar power and driving as little as possible. At this late stage in my life, there’s not much more I can do.

Except support as many organisations which are trying to solve the problems, such as the Australian Conservation Foundation, WIRES (the wildlife rescue people), and so on.

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What a dilemma, though: something got me thinking about Bali this morning. That led to a couple of hours browsing Booking.com for hotels and reminiscing about the ones I’ve stayed in. At the same time, I’ve been browsing back through my blog (in a book, more on that in a minute) and recalling all the times I’ve had there.

The dilemma is that although I wish I could go back to Bali now that it’s open to tourists again, air travel is one of the big CO2 emitters contributing to global heating. We are being told to minimise air travel, preferably to no more than once every three years or less.

Yet, Bali depends on us spending our dollars there and they’re still struggling to survive. Hence the dilemma.

It’s really a futile argument because I just don’t think I can travel any more. I’m too weak and tire too easily these days. It’s so bad that I’m having trouble just coping around my house.

Anyway, my first choice of hotel, the Taksu Sanur, seems to be closed down. For how long, I don’t know. You can see it on Google Earth street view, with blinds over the entrance and a generally closed off appearance. What a pity, I enjoyed that hotel so much!

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I’ve finished reading Lost Bali volume 1 from cover to cover:

I’m impressed! When I first heard about this project, I was very sceptical that people would be able to write well enough, if the standard of their writing on Facebook was anything to judge by. Usually it’s atrocious writing – bad grammar, no attention to spelling, awful photos. I submitted an article as I didn’t want to pass up a chance, but I held low expectations for other writers.

How wrong I was. There is some absolutely beautiful writing, I’m ashamed to say better than mine. The ability of most of the writers to capture the mystical atmosphere, the magic, the smells (clove cigarettes) and sounds (wooden cow bells, gamelan orchestras) took me back in most pleasant ways.

I found it noticeable that the best writing was usually by women. They seem to have been more attuned to the magic and mystery with an ability to turn it into lyrical prose.

I found my writing is quite matter-of-fact by comparison. I told of several funny episodes and a couple of not so funny, but I wrote little of the magic atmosphere, probably because I was not that attuned to it. Bali has always been a holiday island for me, but not much more. I spent a lot of money and took many, many pictures, making some good friends over the years, but it wasn’t much more than that. This book shows me what I was missing. I urge you, if you have any connection with Bali, to buy and read the books. I have volume 2 on order and I eagerly await reading it. https://www.amazon.com.au/Lost-Bali-Stories-Leslie-Franklin/dp/057835781X/ref=sr_1_1?crid=23SIQKY2T2MDI&keywords=lost+bali&qid=1647771658&s=books&sprefix=lost+bali%2Cstripbooks%2C381&sr=1-1

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I mentioned that I’m reading my blog in a book. To explain, there’s a website called Blogbooker.com which takes the exported files from WordPress (or whatever) and formats them into a PDF file for you to download.

In my case, I told it to do the entire blog from its start in 2009 to now. This has resulted in a 4,011 page “book” of nearly 1GB in size. It’s not free; it cost me A$42 to register for one year. I regard that as good value, mainly for the backup it entails.

Wow, the memories it brings back, mostly good although a few bad. That’s life. I’ll try loading it into MS OneDrive or DropBox, although I think I’d have to pay for more space, in both cases. Maybe later.

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It’s baaack!

This brings joy to my heart.

Ugh, my bladder bug is back. I was feeling stinging during you-know-what so I asked for another urine test last week. Sure enough, the bug is present, so I’m back on the nitrofurantoin (Macrodantin) anti-biotic. This is the fourth course. I presume if there was a stronger antibiotic, they would prescribe it, so this is a bit worrying.

The effect of the bug is the aforementioned stinging, plus weakness and tiredness. Maybe a small fever with a bit of sweating, although that could just be the weather. Anyway, press on and get plenty of rest. Yes please.

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The bed rest is giving me time to read the book “Lost Bali” that I might have mentioned previously. Short version: an American/Aussie woman called Leslie Franklin, who lived in Bali for around 33 years, started a Facebook site called Lost Bali. She regards the years up to 1990 as Bali’s golden years, anything after that as “lost” to rampant development and destruction of the beauty of the island. I don’t disagree, although I would never try to dissuade anyone from experiencing the unique atmosphere and beauty of the island and its people, even now.

Anyway, Leslie decided to ask viewers of her Facebook page to write about our experiences prior to 1990, with a view to making them into a book. Well, a couple of years later, there are not one, but two books, volumes 1 and 2. I wrote a contribution and I’m in volume 1, pages 237 – 245. The books are available to be ordered on Amazon https://www.amazon.com.au/Lost-Bali-Stories-Leslie-Franklin/dp/057835781X/ref=sr_1_1?crid=AADD70KQAR00&keywords=lost+bali&qid=1647319698&s=books&sprefix=lost+bali%2Cstripbooks%2C546&sr=1-1 Volume 1 is A$30.40 and volume 2 is A$28.90.

I bought what I thought was one copy of volume 1, to see if it was OK before I ordered volume 2, but two copies of volume 1 turned up. I don’t know if I forgetfully ordered twice, or if Amazon mucked up, or what. That’s OK, I may gift the other copy, or something.

However, I have very mixed feelings about the book. The fact that I’m reading all of it shows that I like it, and I have to say that most of the writing is superb, much better than mine. There’s a lot of name-dropping, recalling famous people and “legends” going back to the 1930s, but so far it’s all entertaining and extremely evocative of the atmosphere of Bali. Many of the writers are women and they seem to absorb the culture much more than men, or at least this man, did.

But I’m upset. When Leslie called for contributions, I went to a lot of trouble to choose my images and lay them out on the pages with my text. I submitted it as a PDF document which can be imported into desktop publishing software.

The top image of Lake Batur has been printed as a vertical crop in grainy black and white in the book!

I was disturbed a few months later when she asked me to re-submit my article with the text only, and the images as separate files. Uh oh! I said to her at the time that I’ve had this experience before, where my contribution had been wrecked by someone who didn’t know how to use it. I hoped she wouldn’t change my article.

Well, she did!! Nothing remains of my layout. It’s just text, with no images! It took me a while to realise that all our images are relegated to pages 135 – 159, reduced to poor quality black and white, randomly cropped, mostly to square, on the same paper as the text, not the usual coated semi-gloss.

As well, my captions to my photos have been partly left in the text, without context, so that they seem meaningless and random. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

It would be churlish of me to damn the book because, despite my disappointment, I am reading it cover to cover. However, I sure wish it was better.

She also employed an editor to help with the work. I would be tempted to say she wasted her money (my money too – she did a GoFundMe campaign to help with costs and I gave US$40!). On almost every page so far I have found spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors. Admittedly, I’m a pedant, but they bring me up short, having to re-read the paragraph or sentence to establish the meaning.

I think the only answer is to do my own book. I have done a picture book on Bali:

But there’s almost no text. I could add a lot to it. Which leads me to —–

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For the past couple of years I’ve been posting hundreds of my images on Facebook, including images of the covers of books I’ve done, and always saying my books and images are available for purchase. In all this time I’ve had not a single bite. Not one person has enquired about buying a book or DVD or image.

I despair. Everyone wants freebies. No-one wants to pay for anything! I’m sick of it. Everyone says nice things about my pictures, but no-one will open their wallet. It’s not as if I’m asking too much – like a fool, all I ask is what it costs me for the book printing, about $40 for the above book. I make no profit at all, and nothing at all for the hundreds of hours I put into producing the book, not counting all the hours scanning my slides and adjusting the images. FUCK IT!!!

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I admit, I’m not in a good mood. I’ve lost two long time friends in the past few weeks. I don’t mean they’ve died, just the friendship has died.

One is a guy I first met at Ch7 in 1966. Our birthdays are only a month apart and we became pretty firm friends from the start, lasting for more than 40 years. We shared a lot of interests, especially TV and electronics of course, but I’m afraid we didn’t share our politics. I admit I’ve grown more to the left as I’ve aged, but he went more to the right. I was repulsed by some of his views and we had some strong arguments in the early 2000s until one day he stormed out of my house and didn’t return for some years. I made it known that I bore no grudges and gradually he came back, until we have been meeting for coffee every couple of months.

But last week he’s decided he’s a hermit again and doesn’t want to venture out. He put it in fairly blunt terms and so I said “Goodbye!” It looks like that’s the end of that.

Then there’s the finale of my six year relationship with my Austrian lady friend. She is so prickly and she so easily takes offence that I had to be very careful what I said. Unfortunately I said something critical a few weeks ago and she’s told me she won’t talk to me again. As well, she’s grown more secretive in the past year or two and won’t tell me where she’s going or when. I’ve told her repeatedly, persistently, that I want her to visit me here, so that we can share some of the fun and good times we had last time she was here in 2019. But no, I’m lucky if I get more than two sentences out of her in reply to my full page, newsy emails. When I asked her recently when she was going to Bali, all I got was “Why is that important to you?”

She is the complete and utter hypocrite. She has a violent temper and constantly criticised me, hurling sarcasm and disparaging, hurtful comments at me. But when – if – I complained, she brushed it off as normal for the way she was brought up. But if I dared to criticise her, there was hell to pay!

As I say, for six years I put up with this because I understood her problems and I had/have genuine love for her, but I was wasting my time, it seems. She’s incapable of love. I was nothing more than a web penpal to her. She is constantly seeking advice from web “gurus” about love and emotions, yet she learns nothing. Even though I tell her that if I wasn’t genuine, I would have left our relationship years ago, yet I’m still here, despite all the troubles I’ve seen. I’m not giving up.

So with this bladderbug I’m not in a good frame of mind.

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Putin/Russia. I acknowledge, many Russians are protesting Putin’s war against Ukraine, but what a bastard of a country Russia is. Russians are complete and utter liars. Russians are cruel, callous killers. Russians are completely dishonest and never to be trusted. Russians are brutal mass murderers of women, children and civilians. They are attacking and destroying apartment blocks with children and mothers inside.

I remember years ago someone saying in Bali, “Don’t rent to Russians”, meaning don’t rent your villas or apartments in Bali to Russian tourists. They have a reputation of being hard to deal with, destructive and dishonest. Not to mention downright nasty.

What an interesting situation in Ukraine, opinion growing that in spite of Russia’s numerical superiority, their military is poorly led, poorly trained, ill motivated, incompetent and their equipment is poor quality. It’s perhaps inappropriate right now, but it gives me hope that if a real shooting war with Russia were to start, that NATO would fairly quickly overwhelm Russia’s forces. NATO’s equipment and training is so superior that it could be a walkover.

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My good friend Danny visited last week and being of a stick figure build 😉 , easily shimmied through the back seat of the Peugeot and managed to unlock the boot for me. And shimmy backwards to get out again.

However, I dare not press it closed and latched again until I determine whether there’s a real fault. I don’t want to close it and be back in the same situation.

It seems there could be three causes: (1) a fuse, because the boot switch operates a solenoid; (2) the boot switch itself; (3) a possible broken wire in the rubber encased loom that connects the boot with the body. I’ve listed these in order of ease of testing.

So at the moment, the boot is held mostly closed with two strips of gaffer tape, which coincidentally is silver, same colour as the body. I didn’t know until now that the central LCD display in the dash turns red instead of its usual orange colour if it displays “Boot unlocked”.

The other point is that there are dozens and dozens of Google and YouTube references to this fault, “Peugeot boot won’t open”. It seems to me that Peugeot should recognise this as a defect and issue a fix for it.

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Aaarrrgh, I’m being plagued by scam calls. I’ve had at least seven so far today. Sometimes if I don’t answer the land-line phone, my mobile rings shortly after. I’m sick of this!

Good writing

And the heat goes on: 35C yesterday, another 35C forecast for today, then 34C on Wednesday and 37C on Thursday, again 37C on Friday. Another heat wave, in autumn. Luckily it’s not too hot in this house at night and I’m sleeping well, although I’m having to get up three times a night for a pee. I can almost set my watch by it: 1.30am, 3.30am, 6.30am. Sigh.

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This is a paragraph clipped from the IEEE Journal ( Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers ) about Vannevar Bush, one of the great US scientists and engineers in the 1930s and ’40s. I thought this paragraph was especially apt:

Engineers and Good Writing

Writing is essential to the success of an electrical engineer, Bush wrote in 1922, in his first textbook, The Principles of Electrical Engineering (coauthored with a colleague, William H. Timbie). The success of any engineer’s plan, Bush insisted, often depends on good writing:

“Once the plan has been decided upon, he must convince his superiors that the plan should be carried out. This convincing requires that the engineer write brief clear English, which adequately and concisely conveys the meaning in a convincing way. Good proposals have been turned down because the engineers who drafted them could not present them in convincing form.”

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I’m amazed every day by the atrocious standard of writing on Facebook posts. Ridiculous spelling, almost unintelligible grammar, stupid ideas. People just don’t check or read back what they write, and obviously don’t care whether it’s correct or not. People, you should hang your heads in shame.

I pride myself on my writing and it should be obvious that I edit my posts, both here and on Facebook, before I hit the Enter key. If you post garbage, I’m not going to bother reading you. You’ve wasted the few seconds it took you to write your stupid piece.

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Damned scam calls!! I’ve had six yesterday and today so far, the latest about ten minutes ago. Luckily my phone displays the calling number and so when I see +63 xxxxxxx, I know it’s the Philippines, although I also get calls from +44 (UK) and other odd places. I just don’t bother answering any more. Anyone trying to call me from an 02 or 03 number had better leave a message, because I ain’t going to let you through. I’m seriously thinking it’s time to drop the landline phone. I pay $20 a month for it and if it gives me this much annoyance, why continue. Most businesses use my mobile number anyway.

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Further to my lament about Ukraine a couple of days ago, I should say more. Although, there’s nothing I can say that better qualified people than me have already said.

The main thing is how dangerous Putin is with his threats to use tactical nuclear weapons. I truly believe that he would do it, and if he did, then NATO would have no choice but to retaliate and then it would be true war.

What I often think about is the destruction of the great architecture and buildings, not to mention the great artworks and sculptures. I don’t think there’s any doubt that the Kremlin would be obliterated early in any nuclear exchange. Putin would have missiles programmed to rain down on him very quickly. But the Kremlin is in central Moscow, and that’s home to magnificent churches, palaces and museums. Same for St Petersburg. To think that all this could be wiped away is too horrible to contemplate.

The other thing is that Putin and the Russian military have caught a tiger, and having done so, how are they going to control it. They’ll never be able to kill Ukraine completely, so they’ll forever have this tiger by the tail, dragging on their soldiers’ lives and on the Russian economy.

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Crazy. Some ads on Wish.com for N-gauge model trains include in the description the word “haematopoiesis”:

Why? Haematopoiesis is a muscle building drug as far as I know, notoriously used by athletes and cyclists. What’s it got to do with model trains? This is not the first time I’ve seen this.

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I’m watching the Netflix series “Inventing Anna” at the moment. Anna Delvey is a mysterious European young woman, only about 26 years old, who appears in New York and through boundless self confidence and guile insinuates herself into the NY money, property and fashion scenes. Her accent is a strange mixture of Russian, German and some other argot, untraceable.

She says she has a wealthy German father who has endowed her with a €30 million trust fund, which catches people’s attention, naturally, but strangely, there always seems to be some impediment to accessing it. She obtains money by credit card fraud and sheer effrontery, though, and manages to make high level connections in NY society.

It all starts to come undone, as it must, and she’s in prison awaiting trial. A writer for Manhattan magazine sees a story and follows the trail.

There are only eight episodes. I’m on no. 6, and I’m enjoying it.

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Aaaarrrgh, there seems to be a gadget available from Wish.com or somewhere, that’s called a turbo whistle. I don’t know for sure, but it seems as if you attach it to your car engine somehow and it gives a rising shriek/whistle as you accelerate.

At least one car has it fitted around here and I’m being plagued by this shriek about a dozen times a day. Grrrrr!

That’s better

Isn’t that beautiful? Trinity College Library, Dublin, Ireland. It’s a great photo, too.

I have a folder of images of libraries around the world – I’ll post more images when I find it.

The title refers to feeling better after the end of the antibiotic for my bladder bug. It took two courses but seems to have finally worked, although it’s still a bit sting-ey. I think I’ll ask for another test next week in case there’s still a lingering low level infection.

I had the third and final visit to the urologist last Wednesday and was told “You’re free to go” when I went to pay. He bulk billed, in other words. But next day I got a letter containing his invoice for the whole procedure, and after Medicare rebates, I have $1200 still to pay. No further claim on HBF, it says. Ouch! I could have sworn he said at our first talk that, knowing I’m on the age pension, he would do the procedure for the Medicare scheduled fee, i.e. no more for me to pay. I’m wondering if his receptionist was not aware of this and just charged me full whack. What to do? I guess I’ll pay it, but include a note to the receptionist saying what I remember. Worth a try.

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Wow, heart attacks claim the lives of two great cricketers in three days, Rod Marsh at age 74 on Wednesday and Shane Warne yesterday at 52. These guys would have still been pretty fit, even though they were retired.

It just bears out what I’ve been thinking for a long, long time: if you want to do something, don’t put it off, because fate can strike you down without much warning. We were always told to save our money “for a rainy day”. Well, the rainy days are here after you’ve retired, (especially if you live on the east coast 🙂 ).

It makes me think of what I still haven’t done and should do, while I still have the ability.

  • Write my memoirs! I can’t get started – sound familiar?
  • Go to England to see Croft Castle – the COVID virus is stopping me doing that.
  • Revamp my hi-fi system – I’ve got the amplifier, SACD player and MD deck, just not the energy.
  • Get my front steps rebuilt to include a ramp – I just need to measure it and draw plans.
  • Get my three reels of Super 8mm film digitised
  • Buy the Chinese-made radio/LCD screen for the Peugeot. $660. High price, but it’s an exact fit.

That’s a partial list, I’ll add more as I go.

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It looks like travel to Bali is back – Jetstar sold $99 one-way fares on Thursday night, but they sold out very quickly. Apparently Air Asia are going to do something similar very soon.

I still don’t feel I can go. As long as there’s any hint of the COVID virus there, I could never relax, which is a big part of the reason for going to Bali in the first place. What would I do if I developed any symptoms such as sore throat, cough, flu-symptoms and so on? This is a fairly common side effect of air travel, but I would be so uptight. Do I go to a hospital or not, knowing that hospitals harbour all kinds of germs? If I panicked and wanted to get home as quickly as possible, would I tell the airline why I was escaping the island? No, for all these reasons, I can’t go.

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My Peugeot – look at that nose scraping the kerb!

I still can’t open the boot. I need to get the RAC out to replace the battery in the Honda, and I hope to get him to squirm through into the Peugeot’s boot from the back seats. You can insert a screwdriver into a hole in the lock from the inside and open it that way. I’m tempted to do it myself, but I suspect I’d be OK going in, but be unable to back out again. Or go all the way with the boot lid open. No, I’ll get the RAC to do it.

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Batteries! Haven’t we become so dependent on them? We’ve had car batteries for as long as we’ve had cars, but the battery has to do so much more with all the electronics in cars now.

I have 15 or so watches, collected over the past 40 years or more, (all quite cheap ones, around $250 being the most expensive, usually about half that cost). They all depend on batteries, of course, and replacing the dead batteries from time to time (ha! pun intended) is quite a job. I spent more than two hours doing five of those watches on Thursday. I’m not going to pay a jeweller’s shop to do it, at about $50 a pop. I don’t quibble that a tradesman should be paid for his time, but I can do it myself for the cost of the batteries.

Getting the back off the watch is not too difficult, it’s getting it back on that’s the hard part. Sproing! I don’t think the water seal is going to stand up to my treatment either. Can’t be helped.

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Ukraine’s a worry. It’s not hard to see how it could blow up into a NATO confrontation with Russia, and that madman Putin is mad enough to use tactical nuclear weapons.

I’m silly enough to want to read novels about World War 3 and they all involve Russia invading a smaller country, especially Latvia/Estonia. And China seeing an opportunity to take Taiwan by force.

It’s a worry.