Now is the winter …

Phwooaaar, what a sudden change. After the hottest summer on record in Perth and a seemingly endless run of warm 25C days and beautiful weather, it started raining last night and it’s only 12deg now. It’s hardly stopped raining all day. I’ve had to put on my warm jacket for the first time since last winter. Brrrr.

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The drive radio announcer has asked us, “Apart from your house and car, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought or own?” Good question. I had to think hard about it.

At first I thought, I have nothing over about $1,000, but then I remembered: my pre-paid funeral – $3,350 and my ASUS 4K OLED touch-screen laptop – $2,400. Oh, and my LG OLED TV was $3,400.

I have three cars so I guess I should nominate one as my main car and the other two as indulgences. The Mitsubishi Verada only cost $1,250, the Honda MDX cost $3,000 and the Peugeot 407 coupe cost $4,400. I suppose you could count those as a bit expensive but not as expensive as a modern car, a second (holiday) house, or a yacht or power boat, none of which I own. I also have a few watches, but the most I’ve ever paid was about $275. All the others were no more than $150 or so.

I have a lot of cameras but all of them were around the $1,000 mark new. In about 2002 I bought a set of two Contax G film camera bodies and three lenses in Singapore, but they were all second hand. Individually each item was about $600 or so, quite high end at the time, a total of about $2,000. Digital was hardly viable then and naïvely I thought I would always be able to sell them here and recoup my investment. But digital went ahead at a rapid pace and no-one wants film cameras any more. Even so, it’s a very nice set.

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In that regard I nearly weakened a couple of weekends ago. A guy advertised three Nikon F801 bodies, one F801 and two F801Ss – three for a total of $150! That was one of my most fondly remembered film cameras and I was very tempted. But then I looked at the price of film these days, and almost died. A roll of Fuji Provia 36 exposure is $35. That’s just for the film – processing is extra. I don’t know what that costs but it would probably be at least $20. And it would involve driving 35 minutes into the city to drop it off for processing, then the same to collect it afterwards. Then the time involved to set up the scanner and scan all the film to digital. It would be crazy.

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I’m now quad COVID vaxxed and Fluvaxxed as well. I have been feeling fairly smug and blase, not bothering to wear the mask (we don’t have to wear them in WA now). But with the upspike in infections in the past couple of days, 17,000 on Tuesday and 16,000 yesterday, I think I’ll go back to wearing the mask while shopping. It’s a bit risky and as Dr Norman Swan said on the radio, is wearing a mask really too much to ask? Better to be safe, I think.

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Waiting in the medical centre yesterday, I saw a young boy (about 5 years old?) walking toward the exit, hand in hand with his mother. As they walked past, he looked up at her and said, “I was bwave, wasn’t I?” I was charmed.

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In the pharmacy later I met up with a guy I used to work with for many years at Channel 7. He was always slim, of normal build, never overweight.

Yet he developed type 2 diabetes just like overweight me, and now he tells me he’s going into hospital to have a heart bypass operation. Oh, I said, stents are easy. No, he said, not a stent, a chest open artery bypass. Crumbs.

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I’ve become addicted to watching YouTube video clips of car mechanical repairs and restorations. Many of them are repairs, which are interesting enough, but many of them involve the guys buying crashed cars from auction yards. It’s amazing – acres and acres of delectable high spec cars, most of them badly smashed. It makes me wonder what driving is like in the US. So many crashes!

But a smashed car doesn’t worry these guys, especially when it’s a Ferrari or Lamborghini or Mercedes or Porsche, because that’s what they go for. One guy in particular has a stable of about ten high end cars that he has bought as wrecks – a Ferrari, a Lambo, an Aston Martin, a Porsche 911, a BMX X6 and an i8. Incredible. He’s paid up to US$50,000 for some of them, even as wrecks, and he spends many thousands repairing them, but he more than recoups his outlay.

Anyway, I find it fascinating and I’ve learnt a hell of a lot. In particular, stay away from BMWs and Range Rovers. Great cars when they’re going, but they don’t keep going and they’re bloody expensive when they break, which they do. Mercedes are pretty reliable, but the parts are exorbitantly expensive. Ho hum. I keep buying LOTTO tickets.

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Which reminds me, I’ve read several times in the past few years what I thought was sarcasm, about wiring looms in older Mercedes cars which break down and disintegrate. I thought it was a joke.

But no, it’s real. In the 1990s, Mercedes had the idea that they would make the plastic insulation of its wiring break down naturally, so as to help with recycling. They assumed that their cars would have a life of, say, 15 – 20 years and that’s what the plastic was designed to last.

But as we know, people like to keep older cars going, so if you want to own a 1990s Mercedes you’d better know, your car is designed to break down. You’re probably going to be up for a complete new wiring loom, around US$5,000, plus the cost of dismantling your car and fitting the new wiring, costing at least as much again. Amazing. It’s not just a rumour. Beware.

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