Och aye! Inspiration

Isle of Skye, Cuillin Mountains © P. J. Croft 2008, 2023

An item on Petapixel about landscape photography, a series of three YouTube five minute episodes by two British landscape photographers. Yeeeaaah, right up my alley.

It sparked my memories of my 2008 trip around Dornie, Applecross and the Isle of Skye. What a fantastic trip that was! I took hundreds of photos and I’ve brought a few out to show. The opening shot was on a day so windy that I could hardly hold the camera upright on the tripod.

Cuillin Mts, Isle of Skye. Click to get a much larger image. © P. J. Croft 2008, 2023
A General Wade bridge, so called because he was the British general who ordered it built during “The Clearances” in the 17thC, when the impoverished Scots crofters were driven off their lands (cleared) to make way for British sheep farmers or graziers. Many starved to death. It’s just one reason for Scots to hate the British. The Scots have long memories.
Stromeferry © P. J. Croft 2008, 2023
On the road to Applecross © P. J. Croft 2008, 2023
Isle of Skye NE © P. J. Croft 2008, 2023
Glencoe. Click to get a big full sized image. © P. J. Croft 2008, 2023

I sure wish I could redo that whole two month trip.


By the way, I shot around 1,000 High Def video clips on the trip, and they’re still on my hard drive labelled Video. Problem is, the drive has failed. It’s not making clicking noises luckily (a sure sign the heads are contacting the disk surface, disaster). It’s actually totally silent, meaning I think the motor has failed. This can be fixed and the data retrieved, I think. But at a cost – maybe $500 or more. The failure happened nearly a year ago and I still haven’t made the move to get it fixed. I do have a backup, so it’s not urgent, but as the faulty disk is 3TB and has hundreds of more recent video and images, I don’t want to lose it.

As disk sizes are becoming so large, backup is difficult. I’m actually thinking I may need to buy a RAID array which has redundancy built in, to guard against these failures. I’ve actually got 4x 4TB drives brand new awaiting a drive aray, but cost is a factor.


By the way, I bought a 1TB micro-SD card last week, from the Wish.com web site for $8.80!

I’m always suspicious of these ultra cheap things as they can be made to look like 1TB, but only format to 100MB or similar. This one seems OK so far, but I’ll make sure it’s trustworthy before I, er, trust it.


A hotch potch

Venice. © P. J. Croft 2008, 2023

Aaah, the tail end of summer, and it’s cloudy outside but still warm enough to have the aircon on. It looked a bit like rain earlier, but no such luck. Damn, more fine weather. ~:(


This is crazy, and almost immoral. The Reserve Bank (Australia’s central bank) has raised interest rates for the last ten months in a row, from a low of 0,1% in 2010 to 3.6% now. They’re doing this to try to kill inflation by reducing demand. That is, if people don’t have the money to buy goods, then the demand will fall and the prices must either stay steady or fall. That’s the theory.

The effect is that home loan interest rates charged by the banks have risen sharply. When the Reserve Bank rate was 0,1%, the banks were encouraged to make as many housing loans as they could. This was supposed to lift the economy by increasing demand for building services and materials.

What’s more, the governor of the Reserve Bank said a couple of times that he didn’t expect the prime rate to rise before around 2024. The result was that people rushed the banks to take out mortgages at this bargain rate, with the expectation that they would have at least three years to get established.

But now they are being crushed by this sudden rise in the rate. People took out huge mortgages (as they have to be able to afford a house in Sydney and Melbourne) but now, relatively suddenly, they’re finding their repayments have risen to alarming levels. Many people are finding they can’t make the payments.

I don’t have any qualifications in economics but I think this stinks. The effect is to remove money from the economy, sure, and hence reduce demand, but the money is just flowing to the banks in the form of higher loan repayments. The banks are laughing all the way to the bank, so to speak. They are reaping bumper profits.

This is immoral. With the aim of reducing inflation, the Reserve Bank is severely hurting ordinary wage earners, to the extent that many, many people are finding they can’t afford the basics such as school expenses, sport costs, transport and even food. Pleas to charities have risen dramatically.

Yet the rise in interest rates has no effect at all on wealthy people, even increasing their wealth by rising deposit rates and investment returns. The reserve Bank’s policies are regressive, hurting the lowest income people yet helping the highest income people.

A solution to this was in an article last week. If the Bank wants to remove money from the economy to reduce demand, instead of funnelling it to the banks, why not introduce a temporary method where are certain percentage of people’s income is diverted to a government regulated savings account. This would be quarantined until some time in the future when the funds “saved” would be released to the individual, to be withdrawn and used. It would be similar to superannuation, just with different rules about withdrawal.

This would reduce demand in the same way as now, but stop the money flowing to the banks as windfall profits.

And there’s the answer: the banks and other wealthy institutions have tremendous power to persuade governments to do what they want, not what’s good for the customer. Such common sense would never get off the ground. Phut!


That’s interesting. I named this post with a phrase I use sometimes, hotch potch, meaning a mixture, and looked it up in Etymonline.com (as I very frequently do). They don’t recognise hotch potch but this is what they say:


Anyway, I was going through my Downloads folder just now and thought I’d do a post showing the hotch potch of things I’ve kept in the past few months and years.

First, I came across a website that shows all the undersea data cables around the world. Wow!

Our part of the world of data cables. Look at Singapore! They are becoming one of the richest, most highly developed tech countries in the world.
The big social media companies even have their own cables!

Next, a nice picture:

London, Hyde Park and Green Park.

A computer Central Processing Unit (CPU). All those pins are connections to the silicon wafer embedded under the small blocks in the middle. The overall dimensions are about 50x50mm, but the silicon wafer with all the billion transistors or more that do the job is about 10mm square.

More later.


It’s nearly 5.30pm, when I move to the meals area table to watch Hard Quiz on the ABC. I’m a bit addicted to this program and as far as I know, I’ve watched every Wednesday night episode. Yet most of these early (before the news) daily episodes are new to me. How come? Have I seen them and forgotten them? Anyway. I enjoy this show.


I’ve been testing my model locomotives on a 12V battery last night, and here’s a couple with their skin off:

This is a Kato model. I bought the decoder and substituted it for the simple one the loco came with. You can see how complex it is, with all those seven integrated circuits.
Side view of the above Kato loco.

This is another bought loco with DCC decoder already fitted.

Nearly ready to start laying track. Lucky I live alone — my dining table is covered edge to edge with train stuff, magazines, books, electronic parts, tools, you name it. I just push a bit aside to make room for my dinner plate. Hah!

Summer’s end

Kings Park, Perth, Western Australia 19 January 2005 © PJ Croft

Well, as I sit here in the air-conditioning with fans on and 37degC outside, it’s the first day of autumn. To readers in cooler and wetter climates, would you believe we only had 1.4mm of rain in the whole three months of summer. That’s pretty dry.

However, it was a relatively easy summer to endure, if that’s the right word. We had no maximums of 40deg or above, whereas we usually get two or three in a typical summer. So it has been quite pleasant.

But to cap it off, we’re in the middle of a heat wave at the moment – we’ve had maximums of 35C or above for the last five days, and tomorrow will be 37C too.

Summer is my favourite season, although I love Spring as well, with its cool dewy mornings in October and November. Luckily, we have one every year!


I continue working on my model railway, although I admit it’s still mostly only on paper (or more correctly, on a screen).

I found this layout on the web, with no details whatever, and especially with no dimensions. It took me a long time to work out how to size it, and the result is shown above. The top part of the L shape is 2.385m and the left side is 2.05m, which are workable dimensions.

The coloured rectangles are the sizes of base board that I plan to use. I’ll build the layout in sections, then bolt the base boards together when in use. You’ll notice the white dots on the tracks along each join line of the base boards. These are breaks in the tracks, which will have to align precisely when the boards are bolted together.

This is a bit ambitious and fraught with potential difficulties in getting the tracks to line up along the joins. I may have given myself a source of ulcers. I foresee being able to get one part of the track to align properly, but being unable to get another part to line up.

I’ve been thinking that it might be easier to make the sections bigger, that is, two base boards in one. Hmmmm.

Here’s the track on its own:

I’ve realised that this layout incorporates two reverse loops, one on each leg of the L. I think it’s only the inner pair of tracks, but each will need to include an automatic reverse loop switch. The problem arises because when a powered pair of rails rejoins the main line through a point, the polarity of the rails must be reversed as a train goes through the point. It’s done by an electronic circuit:

Fundamentals of a reverse loop © Silicon Chip

I’ve bought the bits for one of these from Silicon Chip magazine in Sydney, but I’ve realised I need two. I’ve also had a box of 25 x 1m lengths of rails on my shelf for a few years. I thought that would easily be enough, but by the magic of my railway design project, I find I need 50.86m, so I’ve had to buy another box of 30 lengths (at a cost of $237).

Here’s the latest count of locos:

This will be a very strange working layout. I’ve got a mix of US diesels (the two Santa Fe models, the blue/white Electromotive and the blue Conrail), an Australian livery diesel marked BHP Billiton from the Pilbara iron ore mines, and two UK inter-city and suburban railways (the blue/yellow Metronet and the dark green Dragon). It would be hard to think of a location where all those came together!

I don’t plan to even try to make a consistent location. I’ll just make a completely fictional scene, with a mix of industrial and suburban localities. You’ll notice – no steam, either. I’m not interested in “old” stuff. I only want modern diesels.

This is a rich man’s hobby. I haven’t kept count, but I estimate I’ve bought around $3,000 worth of bits over the past seven years. I think I’ve got everything I need now, although a model railway is NEVER finished. I’ll probably continue buying bits and pieces. A man can never have enough locos and rolling stock.

Stop Press: I’ve found this picture:

An iron ore train in the Pilbara, WA. Those locos up front – that’s what I’ve got!


It feels as if Ive got everything except the energy to build it. I wish I was a power supply and could plug myself in to 240V on the wall. I feel so tired all the time. I’ve been tested for thyroid and found deficient, so I’m on the fourth day of thyroxine medication for it. It takes a couple of weeks to work, they tell me. I hope it works soon.

I had my fifth COVID vaccination on Sunday, the booster to cope with the Omicron-variant. Fingers crossed, I haven’t had the virus. I only know one person who has, and she said it wasn’t too bad. That’s good to know.