Today is the anniversary of Dad’s birthday, 29 October 1922, and he would have been 100, if he was still with us. He died on 2 August 2001 at age 78. Happy Birthday, Dad.

He was the best father I could ever have wished for. He was loved and above all, respected, by all who knew him. I wish I’d been able to say more about this when he died.

He was born in Sydney in, as he said it, Nineteen Tooty Too. That meant he was ten years old when the Sydney Harbour Bridge was opened in 1932, and he was proud that he rode his bike across it on that day.

I was born in Sydney too, in Mona Vale, in 1947 and I still feel a kinship with Sydney whenever I go there. Unfortunately I don’t think I’ll ever get there again.

We moved over to Western Australia, to Bruce Rock, in December 1949 and we’ve lived here ever since. We moved around, next to Cunderdin in 1955, then Wundowie in 1956, Rockingham in October 1959, Beverley in 1961 and finally to Perth in 1967. I was independent by then, having been away at boarding school in Northam from 1961 to 1964, then uni in 1965 and working at Channel 7 from 1966 on, living in South Perth, initially.

So anyway, Happy Centenary Birthday, Dad.


This date is also significant for me – it’s the 23rd anniversary of my “retirement” from my job at TVW Channel 7 in Perth. Yes, I took my voluntary redundancy on this date (it was a Friday in 1999) and walked out for the last time after 33 years. I had a break of eight months in 1974, but I don’t count that.

These days I’m regarded as one of the veterans, an elder statesman of the former employees, being able to say that I worked on the first Telethon in 1968, for example. I was so junior that I didn’t do much, but at least I was there and working in the videotape department.

In those days, we were politely asked to work a donated shift, and we did it willingly. But after a few years, maybe eight or ten years, we heard that the camera crew were being paid their normal rates, so we started to grumble. The company also stopped asking us to volunteer; they just rostered us without asking.

I think most of us in Engineering continued to work an unpaid shift for quite a few years – I really can’t remember what happened in the later years. I do know that the fun went out of it – it just became another shift, another chore.

Anyway, 29 October is a significant date for me.

One thing I’ll never forget – I used to be a Friday night regular at the North Beach Rugby Club, drinking with a few Channel 9 mates (apart from one guy, I could never get any Channel 7 Engineering guys to come along. It’s odd – when I was younger, I was super shy. I didn’t feel I fitted in at parties and functions so I hardly ever joined in. But as I got older, I became the only guy from Engineering who participated in work functions. Almost no-one else ever turned up.)

One night in about 2009, in fact 29 October, I mentioned at the bar the significance of the date, being my father’s birthdate and my ten year anniversary of leaving Channel 7. I got a couple of seconds of blank looks from my “mates”, then one guy said, “DILLIGAF”. Huh? I said. “What does that mean?” “It means, Do I Look Like I Give A Fuck” he said.

I was stunned. Apart from the sheer rudeness, he was insulting my memory of my father. I was so offended I slammed my glass down and walked out. That played a big part in my subsequent attempt to move completely to Bali to live. I was so sick of the racism, the rudeness, the boorish manners, the stupidity of the people I knew that after I saw the sign offering Bali villas for US$300K, I thought, “Get out of there! Walk away.”

At that time, end of 2010, January 2011, you could live in Bali and still get the pension, and get your prescription medications every three months on Medicare. Unfortunately the rules have changed now to make it more difficult.

Minnie the Labrador. My beloved daughter.

Anyway, that started the Bali saga. I think I was quite depressed at the time, which lowered my defences, and putting a deposit down on a villa seemed quite a reasonable thing to do. Unfortunately, what I didn’t realise was that no dogs were allowed into Bali (due to rabies on the island) and it looked as if I was going to have to leave my beloved Labrador Minnie behind. I was distressed! I was distraught! It’s too long a story to tell here now, but things spiralled downwards from there, leading to a major family rift which still hasn’t healed and looks as if it never will. Dad would have been very, very sad to see us this way.


On a ton

Phwooaar. BMW 850Ci. It’s a 5litre V12. But it costs a fortune to fix and keep going. They sell for $40K – $70K.

To my foreign readers, being “on a ton” means you’re within a stroke of the bat, in a cricket match, to make 100 runs. Tomorrow is a big day for a century.


Damn, this Word Press is so annoying. They’ve changed the type face and size – it’s small and a bit hard to see. Why do they keep changing things?? I do not like this blog software. It’s inconsistent, changeable, hard to use. Why can’t I stay logged in, for example? I’ve complained to them and at least they answered but all I got was a suggestion that it’s my browser that’s logging me out every time I take a break. No help!


I’ve been to the Joondalup Health Campus this afternoon and at last the new multi-storey car park is finished and in operation. Thank goodness. It’s good – easy to drive into and leave. I arrived at about 1.45pm and found a space on the ground floor with little trouble. When I left at 2.45pm, there were plenty of spaces.

The interesting thing is that you don’t need to stop and take a ticket when you drive in. There are no tickets, no boom arm when you enter. It was only after I parked that I thought, “Hang on, where’s my ticket?”

The thing is, when you’re ready to leave, you have to enter your car licence plate number into the machine. You’d better be able to remember it!

When I was ready to leave I walked up to the ticket machine and asked a uniformed lady how to do it. She explained it, then, seeing me having a bit of trouble walking, offered to carry my bag and find my car and its number plate. I knew it was 1CGY but I couldn’t remember the numerals. So she walked with me, carrying my quite heavy bag, and found my car and its number. Then she walked me back a bit to a payment machine half way along the floor and entered the number plate in for me. Bingo, there’s a picture of my number plate up on the screen. What a nice woman. I am very impressed.

So I place my VISA card against the screen, ping, and it’s done. I didn’t get a receipt so I have no idea how much I paid or how long I was there for.

Anyway, I just drove out of the car park and up to the boom gates leading to the road. My number plate appeared on the big LCD screen and since it obviously matched my payment, the boom went up and I was out.

Jeez, I’m an electronics tech but this is beginning to look like magic. The only drawback is that you have to remember your number plate, and I’ll bet a lot of people have trouble with that.


I’m feeling very pleased, even a bit excited. I’ve finally found a model railway layout that I like and want to build.

As you can see, it’s the L-shape that I like, which means I’ll be able to divide it into sections so as to break it apart and move around. It’s US based, but that doesn’t matter. I’ll change it to suit any locality that I like. Since almost all the locos and rolling stock I’ve bought and collected is UK based, that will have a big influence. For the moment, I’ll call it Cripple Creek since it rolls off the tongue.

Thing I like is that it’s got long straight stretches, lots of dual track, interesting branch lines and plenty of scope for simple modifications to make it even more interesting. It lends itself to endless variations. The Black Hawk City station, for example, could be made much more complex. Something like this?

Only joking. But at the moment there’s only one platform at the Black Hawk station, and I’d want several platforms.

The next step is to scale the layout and bring it into my AnyRail software so as to make a full working drawing. Unfortunately, it’s several years since I used AnyRail and I’ve forgotten how to use it! I’m struggling with it at the moment. You might remember this:

I haven’t done any work on that for several years. Too bad, this new plan is better.

A couple of weeks ago I saw an ad on Facebook Marketplace for N-gauge rolling stock. I contacted the guy and drove out to Thornlie (jeez, it’s a long way!) and ended up buying ten tanker wagons from him for $15 each. Yes, $150. This is an expensive hobby. It was amazing, the guy was selling because he seems to be obsessed with upsizing. He has scores of locos and carriages for sale in N gauge but he wants to go to 1 gauge. This is enormous. N gauge is 1:148 or 2mm to the foot. 1 gauge is 32mm to the foot. He plans to build a garden railway.

Anyway. Last week I went a bit mad and bought a load of stuff from the Hattons website in the UK, all second hand stuff. I’ve bought four locos, but there are two interesting things about them.

One is that all four locos are already fitted with DCC decoders, ready to run. That means I can open them up and see how the decoders are fitted. I’ve already got several decoders that I bought about five years ago, but I’ve never got around to fitting them. Plus two of my new second hand purchases have sound already fitted. That means I’ll get all the sounds of big diesel electric locomotives – horns, engine sounds, coupler clanks and so on. I’m not interested in steam.

Better still, one of the locos is painted in BHP Billiton colours. In my mind is to make a small attempt at modelling the Pilbara and the mining company railways up north. I’ll be able to copy this BHP loco.

And finally, several months ago I bought a second hand DCC controller at last (above). This is the handheld controller that generates the DCC signal which is fed to the track. This signal carries the codes for each loco and tells it what to do. Each loco is given an address (a number from 1 to 99) and only responds to the commands from the hand controller that you send.

So all in all, I’m ready to roll. All I have to do now is make the base boards from Craftwood and 50x100mm pine beams. Whoo hoo.


I finished the last episode of The Crown on Netflix last night, that’s series four. Series five, the latest, starts on 9 November.

This is the third time through for me. What a superb show this is! It’s a triumph of television docudrama in my opinion. The acting and the way the modern actors look and sound like the royal family (as far as I or anyone knows) is just amazing. It must be very strange for the real life royals to watch themselves being dramatised like this. Frankly, Charles doesn’t come out of it looking very good.

I’ll be queuing up to see the next series. This will show the events leading up to Diana’s death. Hmmmmm.

What’s real any more?

Nice photo, eh? Whipped up with a few lines of text.

The above photo is not real. It’s the product of artificial intelligence. I believe, from what I read, that all it takes is a text description of what’s in your mind, entered into a software program, and voila, there’s your picture. Another one:

Who needs a camera any more? Who needs creativity? Also:

Who is this? It’s no-one. It’s computer generated.
Computer generated, no credit needed.

The point is, there used to be the adage, “The camera doesn’t lie”. Well, I’m afraid that doesn’t hold any more. Completely over-ruled. You cannot tell whether any image is real, altered or entirely false now. Even video can be completely faked now. This is quite worrying.


Maybe it’s time I came clean about one of my images.

Venice, October 2008 © PJ Croft

I’m quite proud of this, but I have to confess it’s a composite of two images. I did this about 15 years ago:

The above right picture lacked something, so I cut the girl in the cloak from the group on the left and pasted it, twice, into the empty street. I spent a lot of time adding the shadows and adjusting the size of the girls so they are in proportion to the street. I also duplicated one of the girls, adding it back in, changing the colour of the cloak, adjusting the size, adding the shadows and adjusting the height above the pavement so they aren’t floating. So, although it’s a composite, I’m happy to show my work.


What to do? I bought a new mattress about a month ago, and I hate it!

I bought it on-line as the company not only delivered, they took the old mattress away for me. Naturally, I didn’t have a chance to try it before I bought, but I didn’t think it would be a problem.

But what I’m finding is that I feel as if I’m having to climb up a slope from a soft edge to a hard middle of the bed. It’s listed as a medium hardness, but as I say, it’s too soft on the edge and too hard in the middle.

So I guess I’ll just have to phone the company’s 1 800 number and ask what to do. Damn, I don’t want to have to deal with this. I just wanted a clean changeover.


CHAOS! I used to be an optimist. I used to think all would be well. I used to think science and engineering would produce solutions to the world’s problems.

But I’ve lost hope. I truly believe we are seeing the decline of civilisation. I truly believe that the money motive is overriding common sense, leading to destruction of the environment in every respect. The oceans are being polluted so badly as to be destroyed. Plastic pollution is growing by the year. Fish stocks are declining. Pesticides and fertilisers are polluting the soils. Animals and insects are declining. Forests are dying. The weather is turning against us. Wars are growing. Famines are growing. Viruses and bacterial infections are increasing. The Earth is biting back.

I’m afraid I’m a bad pessimist now.


I’ve just finished watching a Netflix Japanese TV series called Japan Sinks. Bloody hell, what a joke. I had to finish it, just out of morbid fascination, but is this how Japanese people really behave? All the government committee meetings are punctuated by “We must do out best!” and “We must try harder!”

The story is that undersea seismic movements result in almost the entire Japanese chain of island sinking beneath the waves. They have to find a way to move 120 million people to other countries. I’m glad to say that Australia finally comes good and agrees to take 10 million or so. I’d like to think it would be possible, but I don’t think so. As I said, this is a deeply racist country.

Death wish

This picture is called Cacklebeans. It’s from an article about eggs and egg colours.

Phew, I’m really sorry for the guy, but what was an 82 year old guy thinking? He was riding an electric bicycle on the freeway at 5am (in the pre dawn dark) a few days ago. Didn’t he see the signs? No Pedestrians, Cycles, Animals.

The result was, he was hit by a 4WD and killed. The main story is that the 4WD driver didn’t stop, even though there was quite bad damage to his vehicle. It seems he drove it to his brother’s place, who subsequently made an insurance claim for the damage! Whaaat? The driver has been arrested and charged. Good. If brains were dynamite …


Russia is a terrorist state. It is being run by a madman. Putin is insane. This insane madman has his finger on the nuclear war trigger. He must be stopped!

Russian soldiers are ruthless killers. They deliberately target civilians, including the aged and children. They must be stopped!

Surely it’s past time when NATO and/or the US stepped in and decisively flattened the Russian army, air force and navy. This can’t go on!

Putin thinks he’s waging this war to gain respect for Russia. Instead, he’s turned Russia into an international pariah state. He’s inflicted enormous economic and reputational damage to Russia, without even mentioning the tens of thousands of dead and maimed troops. Even his own population are leaving for foreign countries, to escape the madman.

Russia must be stopped!! I wouldn’t normally wish death on someone, but Putin does not deserve to live. He should be killed!


“Why would you? We fluffed it,” former prime minister Paul Keating said on Wednesday. “If Australians have so little pride in themselves, so little pride that they are happy to be represented by the monarch of Great Britain, why would somebody like me want to shift their miserable view of themselves?”

He is referring to the referendum in 1999 which voted for Australia to remain a monarchy with the Queen or King as our head of state. This referendum was cleverly manipulated by the PM at the time, that racist prick John Howard, so that it was confusing about how the head of state would be selected or elected. He did this deliberately, as a monarchist himself.

Mr Keating said the case for Australia to become a republic was so obvious it made itself.

“Who in their right mind could believe that the monarch of Great Britain could represent our aspirations here?”

“We occupy one of the oldest land masses, the oldest continents on Earth, perhaps one of the oldest societies on Earth – it’s so pathetic. [Becoming a republic] barely [needs] an argument … and there was [Scott] Morrison running off to Cornwall with that other fruitcake, what’s his name … Boris Johnson.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Obsequious toadies, monarchists like Howard and the Liberals.


From The Guardian cookery pages: “It’s possible to find live, Australian-grown, pot-ready mussels for as little as $9 a kilo – less than half the price of free-range chicken thighs and considerably cheaper than steak.”

Yes, but most of this weight is from the shells. If you like eating mussel shells, be my guest, you can have mine. There’s not a lot of “meat” in mussels, in my opinion.

I broke a tooth on a part of a mussel shell in 1996, just a week before I was due to fly to Jakarta to work. The dentist did a very quick fix for me and it’s lasted perfectly since.

I don’t completely object to mussels, I’ll eat them, but I’m not a big fan of their muddy flavour. Maybe I’ll try a couple of different recipes which might enhance and disguise the flavour.


I’m watching a Japanese TV program on Netflix at the moment, I can’t remember the title – Japan Sinks, I think. It’s full Japanese language with subtitles, and occasional bursts of English as needed.

Point one: The storyline – for goodness sakes! A scientist predicts undersea earthquakes leading to the sinking of major areas of Japan. But, as usual, this scientist is portrayed as weird, part mad, wild haired, eccentric, speaking in a crazy voice. Fer cryin’ out loud! When will TV and movie makers realise that scientists are normal people?? Scientists are always portrayed as laughable idiots.

Point two: As the story goes on, first a large part of Tokyo sinks, but then a new undersea earthquake is 100% predicted to sink all the islands of Japan completely. The story requires the mass emigration of 120 million people from Japan to some other country. Where could that be? Why, Australia of course. This is their first choice, the first country that comes to their minds.

Australia has so much land, so much open space, they think. We could easily accommodate 120 million Japanese people. So they consult a former Australian prime minister, who happens to be called Mr Travis.

Well, unfortunately, Mr Travis says the Australian people would not accept so many Japanese people. He rejects the idea completely and actually gets up and walks out of the meeting. Whaaat? This would be highly offensive to anyone, let alone the unfailingly polite Japanese. So Australia plays no further part in the story and China becomes the main focus.

Canada does get a serious mention, but for some reason is rejected.

I’m sticking with this series, up to episode eight at the moment, but crikey mo! It is slow, stupid, with silly orchestral music in completely inappropriate moments. I’ll watch the rest (how many more eps?) but it’s hard going.


Personally, I think it would be absolutely marvellous to have 10 million or so Japanese emigrate here. They are intelligent, incredibly hard working, talented, inventive with such a rich culture. They would enhance life here wonderfully.

BUT! The racism in this country would stop that in its tracks. The male population of Australia are racist, violent, uncultured oafs who care nothing about anything except football, alcohol, gambling, swearing, domestic violence and fighting. Japanese people would be appalled! They could never accept our way of life and therefore racist violence would ensue. It would never work.


I’ve been listening to the radio about the COVID pandemic, and the overriding message is IT AIN’T OVER! I’m going back to wearing a mask whenever I’m out of the house. We haven’t seen the last of COVID-19 by a long shot.

Still at it, I see

Blackwood River, SW WA ABC photo.

GRRRRRRRR!!! The title refers to Woolies, or BWS which is an offshoot of Woolies. Still trying to fleece their customers.

A couple of weeks ago I bought a six pack of cans of beer from BWS which were marked on the shelf at $21, down from $25. Silly me for not checking my docket before I left. When I got home I found that I had been charged the full price, $25. Grrrr! Of course, it’s too much trouble to go all the way back and complain, isn’t it? So I let it slide.

This time, last Saturday, I saw a four pack of cans of stout, priced at $31 or $7.75 per can. Expensive, but high alcohol and a special brew. And very nice it is, too.

Trouble was, someone had taken one can from the four. I wanted it, so I wanted the checkout to show 3x $7.75 = $23.25. The checkout ladies tried to get me to take something else to make up the four. I said no, but weakened and accepted a small 330ml bottle of Sail & Anchor lager from their mark down box. I expected a nominal charge for this bottle as it was out of date.

But when I got home, I found I’d been charged the full $31 as if all four high priced stout cans had been there! Bloody hell!

I am sick and tired of this robbery from Woolworths and/or BWS. This is dishonesty. It’s also laziness, in that they don’t keep their computer prices up to date.. What am I going to do? Dunno yet. But I’m warning the world, check your Woolies dockets because they will rob you. It’s ALWAYS in their favour, never in the customer’s favour. I NEVER have this trouble at Coles. Coles are so good that I hardly bother to check the till receipts. Lesson: don’t shop at Woolies.


I’ve been watching The Crown series for the third time on Netflix and it’s amazing how much detail I’ve either forgotten or missed since I last watched it. It started in 2016, so time has erased a lot, but I’m getting so much enjoyment from seeing it again.

I must single out Clare Foy’s performance as Queen Elizabeth II in the first two series. She is magnificent! The slight tilt of her head, the steady gaze at her prime ministers, the courteous but regal attitude to her private secretaries and the other officials. The glorious sets! How did they do it? Did they build a replica Buckingham Palace with all its huge rooms and paintings? And Westminster Abbey? Amazing.

I’m just into series 4 at the moment, with one to go, and a new series 6 is coming on 9 November, we’re told. This would have to be one of the greatest television documentaries/dramatisations ever made, I say.


I’ve also been widening my viewing with Netflix. I wrote a few weeks ago about how much I liked the Korean series The Extraordinary Attorney Woo, the autistic lawyer. It was memorable.

I’ve tried a few other Korean series but haven’t liked them as much, so far.

At the moment I’m hooked on two other Asian series: number one, The Midnight Diner, a small scale Japanese series about a tiny backstreet restaurant that only opens at midnight and closes at 6.30am. It’s run by one guy, the cook, and it has a small but loyal group of customers. Each episode is a vignette about life in Tokyo, with various characters, including a Yakuza gangster (who’s really a nice guy), three young women who are on the search for a suitable husband (each), and so on. Each episode also concludes with a quick lesson on how to make the Japanese dishes he serves. They’re not difficult to make.

Second is just called Asian Street Food, and as you’d expect, it showcases all the different types of street food from the Asian capitals. So far I’ve seen Indonesia (Jakarta), Bangkok, Japan, India (Delhi) and up next is Taipei in Taiwan. It’s excellently made. The camerawork, editing and colour grading is totally professional, highest quality. The narration is in English but there’s a lot of local speech with subtitles.

And to round it off, I rewatched the movie Mars Attacks last night. I must be desperate. I saw it many years ago and thought it was very average then, and it has not improved with age. Luckily it’s not too long. The overriding feeling I had is how bad their comic timing is. It’s too slow moving. There are too many gaps between action and punchline. Jack Nicholson as the president seems to be half asleep. Rubbish. The Poms and even we can do humour so much better.


Which reminds me, Rolling Stone magazine has published their latest list of the top 100 TV shows. As you may have guessed, nine out of the top ten are American. The only foreign program is Fleabag, the British program.

Not one Australian program makes the top 100, natch. Nor does The Big Bang Theory. Huh!


You’ll recall I had the Peugeot 407 in for cooling system repairs recently. When I put it into the RAC workshops, I left a note on the seat with a short list of things to look at, and the list included an oil change and oil filter.

Because it took so long and was a bit of a drama, when I got it back I didn’t check on the oil change. But now that I look, there’s no sticker on the windscreen and no stamp and notation in the log book. Grrr.

I haven’t kicked up a fuss yet but I’m pretty sure I’ve been charged for the service. I’ll have to phone them and ask if it’s actually been done, and if not, what do I do about it. Annoying.


I’ve become quite an addict for YouTube shows lately, especially Cutting Edge Engineering, made by an Aussie bloke Kurtis and his wife Karen on the Gold Coast. He runs a sole trader engineering workshop and does heavy, and I mean heavy fitting, turning, milling and welding. He’s got about six giant lathes, a couple of enormous milling machines and does more kinds of welding than I knew existed. He fixes heavy machinery like graders, scrapers, dump trucks, tractors, you name it. It’s fascinating. They also feature their small bull terrier called Homeless. He’s charming, and viewers of the channel send in gifts of chew toys and pigs ears from all over, many from the USA. Good stuff.

The other two shows I’m a bit addicted to are a UK TV series, Can’t Pay? We’ll Take It Away, about debt collectors, high court debt collection agents or bailiffs. These are pairs of guys, heavyweights, who are given court authority to collect debts, or to take goods to equivalent value in lieu. Although they take a lot of abuse and lies from the debtors, I give them credit, they are unfailingly polite and never use violence.

But another UK series is quite a bit more violent: Re-po Men. This is about guys who are contracted to repossess goods, usually vehicles, from people who haven’t paid. This show does get violent. The collectors are big, solid ex military types. They don’t start the fights, but they often have to fight their way out of trouble. This show gets the heart racing. It’s not the best thing to be watching before trying to sleep.