Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine. See below.

Nope, no luck. Another horrible night last night, even though I’d (a) forgotten to take the Duloxetine; (b) read a book rather than use the tablet; (c) lights out at 1am. I lay there until 3am and gave up (as is recommended), got up and made a hot milk drink, watched YouTubes on the desktop PC until 4.30am, went back to bed, read for a short while and STILL couldn’t get to sleep until after 6.30am. I finally dropped off around then, but woke at 7.30am! I finally got up at 10am but hadn’t really slept, with the result that I feel awful now (6.15pm).

I had to see the GP today and told him I can’t tolerate Duloxetine. It’s impossible. Unfortunately, you mustn’t stop it abruptly so I have to taper it off for another week, at least. That means I still have another seven nights of bad sleep.

Meanwhile, the foot pains are coming back. Not as bad, but …

The good news is that all my blood tests were fine (liver function, kidney function, vitamins, iron). The only discrepancy is that my thyroid is marginally low, but we agreed to wait a while before doing anything, if needed.


The Babbage photo above is especially apt, because the book I’m reading in bed is Innovators by Walter Isaacson, about, you guessed it, innovators down through history.

And I’ve just finished reading chapter 1, which is the story of Charles Babbage around 1820, and Lady Ada of Lovelace, the daughter of Lord Byron. She was quite something, being enraptured by mathematics from a very young age. She was quite obsessed by maths and in particular, by Mr Babbage, 24 years her senior, who designed the machine above. However, he never had the money to build it; the photo above is a modern day replica.

Ada (after whom the high level programming language is named) was quite far ahead of her time and pushed Babbage to design a better machine, to be called the Analytical Engine. Again, it was never built at the time and the machines in the photos are modern day replicas.

Ada was the first to see the potential of using punched cards to program the machine. One set of punched cards, one function; another set, another function, and so on. Just as we load different software programs to do different functions today.

As well, she first came up with the idea of nested functions, conditional branching, recursion and so on, all features of modern software.

Unfortunately, Babbage never could get the money to build his machines, and Ada died of cancer at age 32.

The next genius was Alan Turing during WW2 in the 1940s, and he took his own life. Sic transit.


Aaaah, sleep…

Ain’t that nice?

Miracle! I slept last night. To explain, in order to get relief from my severe diabetic neuropathic pain, I was put onto Duloxetine (again – I’ve used it before). The relief was almost immediate. The absence of pain was noticeable, which means something because you often don’t recognise the absence of pain. That was good.

But! The side effects that made me stop taking it a couple of years ago came roaring back: (1) insomnia. It was immediate. I lie there all night and I just cannot drop off. I’m as relaxed as a jelly, but I’m fully aware until about 6am or so, when I finally drop off. Then I sleep for a couple of hours, maybe three, but then I’m awake and have to get up. I manage to get a few hours during the day, but for the past week or more I’ve been living on only 4-5hrs a night, every night. Not good. I’ve thought I might get used to it, but not so far (except for last night, I suppose).

And (2) The second side effect is restless leg syndrome. It’s an overwhelming need to tense the muscles in the legs and lower body, especially the buttocks. The result is, as well as being unable to sleep, I’m writhing around in the bed for hours at a time. It’s awful.

I tried varying the time of day when I took the med, from breakfast time to immediately before lights out. No difference.

Maybe I’m sleeping very lightly and unaware of it, that’s possible. I feel reasonably rested when I get up. But it can’t be good for me.

The headline refers to the fact that last night I managed to get a good night’s sleep, for the first time in about ten days or more. Why? How?

First, I only went to bed at 1am, reasoning that if I’m not going to sleep, then I may as well stay up. Second, I had a milk based hot drink before I went to bed. Maybe? Third, for the first time in weeks I didn’t use my Samsung tablet in bed before turning the light off. I have it set to night time (warm) colour, to cut the blueness. I read a book for half an hour instead.

So the test will be to try it again tonight. Stay tooned for the next exciting episode.

Nearly forgot – I have a referral to a pain specialist to talk about this neuropathy. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the soonest I can get in is 21 October! This is terrible. It’s lucky my pain is not too serious. Too bad if you have serious chronic pain 24/7. Same as getting in to see my GP. Even though I’ve been a regular for 10 years, I can’t get appointments sooner than for 7-9 days ahead. Too bad if you’re suffering.


I’m drinking a new beer at the moment, with a very strange name: “I CAN HAS IBU? Volume 2”. I don’t understand it. It has a black and white stick-on label on the can with a couple of pictures of a black cat, and, in a star logo, “107.7 IBU!!” It’s brewed in Melbourne and is 8,7% alcohol b/v, $28 for four cans.

What does it all mean? Ibu means mother in Indonesian, of course, but what’s that got to do with beer and cats? And why Vol. 2? Why 107.7? I have no idea. It tastes good and with that amount of alk, I can feel it already. Yum.


No car news lately. I admit I haven’t even driven the Peugeot since I got it back on the 8th of August. The Honda is so much more pleasant to drive, and has so much more carrying capacity. It feels so spacious, and the seats are so comfortable. I think I’ll sell the Pug. It’s good, but the novelty has worn off.

I looked on Carsales for the same model, and wow! There are five listed at the moment and the cheapest is $8,500, while the other four are around the $14,000 mark. Wow! Same model, roughly the same year, very similar specs.

Since I only paid $4,400 for mine (and I have to add the $2,400 for the cooling system repairs), I reckon I should be able to get my money back with a bit to spare. Hmmmm.


I’m regretting my purchase of the Aldi capsule coffee machine. I just don’t find the coffee to my liking. I like it strong with body, and I’m not getting that, even though I’m using their strength 14 capsules. It also doesn’t seem to make it hot enough.

Even though I rebel against Nespresso, due to Nestle’s marketing techniques, I may have to sell this and buy a Nespresso compatible machine, mainly because there are now so many capsules of different brands that are Nespresso compatible. Wider range than Aldi, too. I find I’m not using my Aldi machine because I don’t really like the coffee much.


Korea is hot. TV, that is. I mentioned that I found Extraordinary Attorney Woo and I’m up to episode 15. Enjoying it immensely. It’s a little inconvenient having to read the subtitles all the time, but it’s not too bad. Attorney Woo is utterly charming and if this is just an actress without autism playing her, it’s a remarkable performance. Remarkable!

I started another series about time travellers and some story about people from the future coming back to do… something… but I got too confused with names. Korean names tend to be… difficult for me, and I have to say, without wishing to offend, that so many Koreans look so similar that I have trouble telling them apart. I gave up on that one after four episodes.

Last night I watched Train to Busan. I visited Busan on the cruise in 2014 and thought I might recognise something.

But it turned out to be a zombie movie! What a joke. Since I wanted to stay up, I watched it to the end. That was two hours that I won’t get back. I avoid zombie movies usually, but I got sucked in for that one.

Anyway, in general, I’m not averse to watching Korean TV shows. Not bad stuff, usually.

She’s home

Brrrrrr, my fingies are stiff with cold, even though the sun is shining and the clouds have moved away temporarily. It rained last night and this morning.


M’selle Evie est dans la maison! Eight weeks she was away. Did I miss her? Shall we say that her memory improved in her absence, but the reality on her return soon kicked me in the backside.

Yes, eight weeks to fix a cooling system leak, and a bill of $2,388 although that includes an oil and filter change. Urrrggh. Can’t be helped, but it’s annoying that it makes absolutely no difference to how the car feels. The workshop mentioned that they felt the engine is misfiring and when they cleared the codes, it went away. I had high hopes for a big difference in smoothness. Nope, it’s still as lumpy as ever.

So do I throw more money at the problem? It’s only at idle that it’s lumpy. It drives OK once the revs are up and there’s plenty of power. Injectors are not difficult to replace and having watched so many mechanic YouTube clips lately, I should be capable of doing the job. But they cost $125 each, and I should replace all six to be sure, so that’s $750, plus a bit more for new washers.

I think I need to sell her. There’s a sucker born every minute and I was a sucker, I think. I knew it felt like this when I bought it, but paid out the money anyway. I just need to find someone else who wants such a beautiful car.


I had to get an Uber drive to the RAC workshops in Joondalup to collect Evie. You’ll remember that Tuesday was a howling, raining, helluva day. I tried to judge a gap in the rain, but when my ride arrived, the rain was horizontal. He pulled up onto the verge and I turned to lock the front door. The rain chose that moment to increase in intensity, so I put my hand up to ask him to wait a bit while I sheltered from the storm.

I spent no more than two minutes over all this, then got in the car and off we went.

Imagine my surprise when I got the in-line invoice showing the charge – the bastard had added $3.50 for “Wait time”. Grrrrr! With “booking fee”, what started out as a $27 ride turned out to cost $32.50. Grrr. I’ve made a complaint.


So, sell the Honda or the Verada too? I really enjoy driving the Honda, but it’s big, heavy and drinks fuel – 16L/100Km or worse. Tyres cost a lot. But it’s very reliable.

The Verada is also a pleasure to drive and maintenance is not too expensive, although I had to shell out $350 for a mass airflow sensor a few months ago. It’s also a bit heavy on fuel – 12.5L/100Km, but I drive so little that I can go months between fills.

Which leads to the thought – what if I dispensed with owning a car altogether? I hardly go anywhere these days. What if I just used taxis? No more licence costs, no more insurance, no more repairs. No more fuel bills, no more repair costs. It makes overwhelming sense.

But I enjoy driving! How often do I do any long drive? About once a year now, so rent a nice car if I know I have a long drive coming up. That would make sense. Hmmmm. If I found I’d made a mistake in giving up cars, then I could buy something again.


Which reminds me, from everything I’ve learned and everything I’ve heard, don’t buy a BMW! They are nice cars and when they are going well, they are beautiful to drive. But they go wrong in so many ways, and when you try to fix them, the parts cost a fortune and many parts can’t be replaced by the home mechanic because they are “chipped”, that it they have to be identified to the car’s VIN and engine computer, which can only be done by a dealer.

Same with Mercedes – beautiful cars, and I yearn to own one, but be prepared to pay out thousands each year for servicing and parts. They seem to be more reliable than BMWs, but they still break far too often and when they do, it’s the Check Wallet light that comes on in the dash.

In fact, I will generalise and say, Don’t Buy a European Car! I’ll never buy a Mercedes or BMW, which is a bit like saying I’ll never become an astronaut, but you know what I mean. Too unreliable and too expensive to fix.

No, there are only two cars to buy, Toyota or Honda. Japanese cars are so reliable in comparison. If the Japanese can do it, how come the Germans can’t? The Koreans have come a long, long way and KIA’s seven year warranty shows the confidence they have in their products, so they could be contenders, but such boring cars.


I’ve found another YouTube mechanic channel, Diagnose Dan. Wow, this guy is good at diagnosis, which is why other workshops and dealers send him their hard-to-fix cars.

Dan is a bit of a pain to watch because he waves his hands around all the time and speaks so slowly and deliberately. He repeats himself. What did I say? He repeats himself, get it?

But if you have any difficult problem, you’d learn a lot by watching these clips. He’s in Europe, Holland I think, but it’s all in English. Recommended.


I’m watching a fascinating series on Netflix at the moment, which I’ll name in a minute. The series The Good Doctor on Seven is derived from a Korean original, where an autistic guy becomes a surgeon. Hard to believe, but it’s only TV. The point is, he’s a high functioning savant who can recall masses of detail from his text books and reading. In the series, he has a mentor who is the surgical director or a major hospital in San Jose (I think), California. I was very sceptical at first and it’s very choreographed, but it got me in and I’ve watched all the episodes so far.

OK, now I’m engrossed in another Korean series, and it’s the original show with subtitles, called Extraordinary Attorney Woo. Yes, she’s also a high functioning autistic savant who trained as a lawyer, topping her uni classes, and is taken on by a Seoul law firm called Hanbada.

Part of her autism is that she tends to repeat favourite phrases, particularly her name which in full is Woo Young Woo. Whenever she’s introduced, she says her name, then lists five or six palindromic words which, strangely, are English words such as …….. bloody ‘ell, my mind’s gone blank. Point being, her name in Korean is a palindrome. It’s odd that the show uses English words, but maybe they’re just substituting Korean words which are palindromic.

Anyway, she can recall and recite practically any law, ordinance or statute at will. That would be handy to have.

But she’s also obsessed by whales and dolphins, any sea creatures like that, and whenever she has a brainwave, she sees a whale swimming by in her mind, or outside the window of her office block, whichever you want to believe.

At first I was sceptical, but I admit this series has grabbed me. She’s utterly charming and beautiful, for one thing, and it’s fascinating to see Korean life and what Seoul looks like. Quite like Japan, to be honest, very clean and neat and everyone bows to each other. Not a bad habit to have, I reckon.

Anyway, Extraordinary Attorney Woo. Recommended. Netflix.