In sleep, what dreams may come …

What a great shot! It has a painting-like quality, I feel. US Navy photo.

Aaaah, great sleep the last couple of nights. How? Why? I’ve stopped the Duloxetine, that’s why.

When I say stopped, I gave it a short taper 🙂 You’re not supposed to stop it suddenly and I didn’t, but I tapered it off much quicker than they advise. First, I skipped every second day, then after a few of those, went to every third day for a week, then after Friday, I just stopped. That’s a bit abrupt but I was sick of sleepless nights. The result, with one exception, has been good sleep.

The one exception was Sunday night when I went the entire night without sleep. In hindsight I realised that the evening before, I had a strong gin and tonic with dinner, on top of my two cans of beer beforehand. I’ve read about alcohol being bad for sleep and although it never used to bother me, it seems to now. Booger! I’ll have to experiment a bit. Is it just the amount that matters, or is it mixing different types of drink? It’ll be fun finding out.

However, the neuropathic (nerve) pains are back. Not as bad as before (two months ago), but enough to have me arching my back and yelling. It’s like a red hot poker suddenly hitting some part of your foot for a few seconds. Yowch!

OK, take other kinds of pain relief? But they all seem to cause insomnia for me. Paracetamol doesn’t, but it’s not effective enough. Prodeine Forte? It nearly works, but I can’t use it near bed time as I can feel it ‘wiring’ me up. Tramadol? I had to stop that a few years ago when I realised it was the cause of insomnia. It’s also an opioid. Aspirin’s too weak, and causes stomach problems in high doses.

So, I dunno. I have an appointment with a pain specialist but it’s not until 21 October. Dang.

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A new British PM? She seems to me to be a woman who changes her mind to suit her clothing fashions. She started out as a liberal (Labour-like), then moved to the Liberal-Democrats, strongly supported the Remain (in the EU) campaign, but then joined the Conservatives and changed her views to be a rabid Brexiteer when it seemed in her interests, so as to advance in the party.

So now she’s PM, what views and convictions will she change next? I have no confidence in her.

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Good call from a listener to ABC Drive radio just now; What message should we send to outer space when we send the interstellar probe? “We don’t taste like chicken.” 🙂 Good one!

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Speaking of interstellar probes, a few weeks ago my favourite radio show asked, “What have you seen that’s amazing recently?”

Well, I nominate the James Webb Space Telescope. This has to be one of the greatest engineering feats of all time! A NASA engineer said recently that there were 34 single points of failure in the process of building it and getting it into operation, 34!

Quick explanation: a single point of failure in any system is where the failure of just one item would disable the entire system. When I was working, we did the news every night out of a control room with a 16 channel audio mixer. If any channel failed, there were 15 others, so no real problem and so on. But there was only one power supply (many pro mixers have two or several distributed ones for this reason). If that single power supply failed, we would have lost the entire news program until we could move to another studio, very, very difficult to do.

Being the senior tech, I pointed this out to the chief engineer as a single point of failure. I got permission to investigate getting a second power supply, but due to the general turmoil at the time, it never happened. Luckily, it didn’t fail.

The reason I mentioned this is the JWST mission and its 34 single points of failure, the failure of any one of which could have killed the entire mission.

Just for example (these are a few of my guesses): the folding of the mirror into its narrow shape to fit into the nose cone of the rocket without damage; the transport of the nose cone containing the telescope to Kourou in Guyana for fitment by giant crane to the rocket; the launch itself; the insertion into initial Earth orbit; the second burn to send it to the Lagrange Point; reaching the precise Lagrange point required; the cast-off of the nose cone to release the mirror sides; the unfolding of the mirror, and so on and so on.

There were 34 ways the mission could have failed and been a write off! Yet everything worked. me think it ‘mazing!!

Now we’re seeing the amazing results:

Tarantula Nebula, JWST credit NASA

This nebula has been photographed many times before, but never in such detail. See https://webbtelescope.org/contents/media/images/2022/041/01GA76MYFN0FMKNRHGCAGGYCVQ?news=true You can download giant (124MB) images.

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In the past months I’ve been watching hundreds of YouTube clips about cars. The best (most relevant to me) are those uploaded by Rainman Ray in Sarasota, Florida. He’s a mechanic/technician at an independent workshop and is a very personable guy. He explains everything in great, but not boring, detail, accompanied by jokes and repeated catchwords and phrases, such as Oops, gravity whenever he drops something, Oodle-loodle-loo when the workshop phone rings, “Nice and shiny”, “Winner, winner, chicken dinner” and so on.

The reason I mention this is because I’ve learnt so much! He just launches in to the diagnosis and dismantling process, explaining what he’s doing and why. Brilliant. Just search for his name on YouTube.

Another is Dave the Car Wizard in Wichita Kansas. He’s a little slow and can be boring, but again he explains everything and shows good video of what he’s doing. His wife, Mrs Wizard :-), does the camera work. Just search on CarWizard.

I can’t remember why I started writing this thread. Anyway, recommended.

Later: now I remember. I’ve been thinking that it’s amazing (there’s that word again) how complex cars are these days. They have many thousands, even tens of thousands of parts. Almost every car is different, even from the same makers, and every part is designed and manufactured to precisely fit its own unique application.

The next amazing (!) thing is how deeply electronics has penetrated cars. BMW in particular has dozens of computer modules scattered throughout their cars, hidden away not just in the engine compartment but under the seats, under the dash, in the boot, in the sides, everywhere. BMW even uses fibre-optic cables to link them all, sending data all over the car at light speeds. I’m sure Mercedes, Audi and all the others are the same.

This is all schmick and clever, but it makes the cars incredibly complex and requires the dealers to have special computers and software to diagnose and fix them. That means that independent repairers are shut out unless they spend thousands of $ with BMW to buy the test gear. That’s if BMW will sell it to them.

The other thing BMW does is encodes the car’s VIN into spare parts, so that each major part is encoded to the particular car. Again, this means that you can’t buy an after-market part and fit it yourself. It won’t work. You have to go to a dealer or an independent with the right test computer to have it encoded.

BMW would tell you it’s a safety issue and I can see their point, but it means that I WILL NOT BUY A BMW! They are notoriously unreliable and expensive to fix when they fail. So there.

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One of my USA cousins put up a Facebook post yesterday, saying that there should be a ban on anyone over 70 running for office.

She is obviously referring to President Biden. I think she doesn’t like him.

I replied, “I’m 75, L–a”, and left it at that. But I should have added, “If you are going to set that age limit, I presume you’ll include everyone, such as company CEOs, bankers, all people holding high offices of responsibility, judges, all political appointees such as Secretaries of State, Defence, Treasury and so on. Doesn’t matter about competency or worth to the country, once they turn 70, OUT!”

Not impressed, L–a.