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.

The week just past …

Dubai. Wow. I don’t like their rulers very much, but my jaw drops at their architecture.
I don’t know if this is a liveable building or if it’s just decorative.

Aaah, beautiful weather the last few days, a bit cloudy this morning but only 22deg with a light breeze, perfect!


This is a posting in the NextDoor web site today. I’m thinking of contacting this lady to find out how I can buy a 2014 car but 23 years ago.

When I read the ad, it said she can’t understand how to set up the display for phone and radio etc. She has the handbook, but doesn’t have the patience to read and follow it. She’s willing to pay someone to do it for her. Wow.


Something on a higher plane. I got the big Nikon P950 out last Tuesday evening, and put it on my biggest tripod.

Nikon P950, 24-2000mm lens.

I was hoping to get a shot of the “Green Comet” – last chance as it heads back out into spoace, not to pass Earth again for around 50,000 years. Hmmm, maybe I can wait to get a better shot?

Anyway, from my back lawn I can clearly see lots of sparkling stars, with the Big Dipper especially prominent. To the right (east) of it is Mars. The comet is supposed to be above Mars.

Well, I got a shot of Mars:

But I couldn’t see the comet. Here’s what a real astro-photograph looks like:

© Antoine and Dalia Grelin via Petapixel

You can see why it’s called the Green Comet. The colour comes from some element or gas in its tail.


Speaking of NextDoor, I put a notice in last week, asking for help in taking some goods to the op shops. I’m feeling very weak these days and although I managed, with help, to get the things into the back of the Honda, and I took them to the shops a couple of times, the shops couldn’t help me bring them inside, or just plain couldn’t take them.

So I put a notice in NextDoor asking for help. Well, I was very pleased to get about six replies in short order. A woman called Grainne (Irish name) came and transferred them into her car and a couple of hours later phoned to say she’d dropped them off, no problem. I was very grateful. And one guy, on the phone, said he lives just around the corner in my street, and if I need any help to give him a call. That’s fantastic. Restores my faith.


Damn, we get the usual hoons riding around here on their noisy chopper motorbikes with the illegal exhausts, shattering the air and my peace.

The result is that the roads people have installed what they call “cushions”, the raised sections of road, on a 50Km/h section of Kingsbridge Blvd and at the corner of the above and my turnoff, into Wadhurst Rd. Therefore we have to suffer the big bumps due to these idiots! I’m angry!!


And speaking of hoons, scammers!

A fake scam ad. Made with AI, from PetaPixel.

The scourge of the 21st Century – scammers! The above ad is a fake. If you donate, you’ll be sending your money to the dirty scammer, not any appeal fund. Beware.


People and their phones! I was at the shops last weekend sitting on a seat, watching the passers-by, when I saw a woman slowly walking past absorbed in looking at her phone. Behind her was a young boy, maybe 12 or 14, also absorbed in his phone, but walking much faster.

Sure enough, he banged right into her from behind. Both of them muttered apologies, but for goodness sakes, They both looked surprised. I made a light hearted comment but neither of them seemed to think anything odd had happened. Duh!


Woolies are at it again! Checkout pricing errors which are ALWAYS in THEIR favour.

Last week I bought some plums that were reduced to $4,90/Kg from $8.90. I wouldn’t have bought at the higher price.

What did they scan at? The higher price, of course. Unfortunately, I didn’t follow my own rule of check your docket before you leave! Then the docket got wet. I could probably still complain – I probably will. But you cannot trust Woolworths!

Your faith is shaken


I seem to be cursed to have my faith is humanity shaken lately.

In general, I like Perth and I think life here is pretty good. Nice people, in general.

But this morning I met the one who disproves the rule.  An utter bastard.

I was leaving the North Beach Deli, in North Beach Drive, crossing the road, leaning heavily on my stick (more on that in a minute), finding it hard to walk. I judged a gap in the traffic with a 4WD coming towards me on my right, but a good 50-100m back.

It was clear on my left, so I started to cross. Would you believe the guy on  the right started blowing his horn at me, barp, barp, barp, barp. As he drew almost level, he leaned out and shouted “Get off the road, you fat bastard!”

I wish I’d had the guts to stop right in front of him. As it was, I shouted back, “Fuck off! You bastard!”

I can hardly believe it. All he had to do was slow down a little to let me cross, if even that, but he loses his lolly at me. Nasty bastard. I was quite upset, as you can imagine. This very rarely happens. Most people are very polite and considerate. Not this bastard. Typical four-wheel-driver, says me who was driving a 4WD!


So I came home on the freeway and managed to call in to what I thought was the location of Altronics, where I have a package of parts awaiting me. But they’re not there any more! I’ve been going there for years. Damn. I drove around, hoping I’d spot them nearby, but no luck. UPDATE: their new address is Unit 2, 182 Winton Rd.


So I’m home, shaking and trembling with fatigue. Something’s wrong. This has come on just in the past few months – weakness, loss of muscle strength, fatigue. This is not normal. It’s got worse just in the past couple of months.

I was battling to find my words talking to my friends this morning. Normally I have fantastic recall, but I was struggling. The GP has been on holidays and I have an appointment but not until  the 9th. I doubt he’ll be able to fix me.

I had other errands this morning but I can’t do them – I have to rest. It’s hot outside- 33deg or so.


These are New York apartments. Aaaarrrgh. I would not want to live like this, ever, no matter what. Apparently the building sways quite noticeably in wind, and some people have moved out because of it. Ugh!!


I bought two more Photobook vouchers a few days ago and it’s not a bad deal – you get two copies of an 8.5″ x 11″ layflat landscape hard cover (image wrap cover), 24 pages with postage included for $43.90 total, i.e. $21.80 per book. Postage is a killer these days – it’s usually $15 each book, last time I used it, a few years ago now.

Layflat means what it says, the binding of the pages lays flat when it’s open. It means you can do landscape spreads that look like one image. If ya get what I mean.

Another plus of these vouchers is that they have six months validity. That’s a double edged sword – the usual three months gives you a bit of urgency to get the book done, but with six months, you can become complacent. I did actually lose a couple of vouchers years ago, when I forgot about them. They do give you some leeway, but they didn’t that time.

These will be for the Croft History volume 3. I made a start about a year ago but got bogged down. I have to get onto it now as I feel that time is running out, and I don’t just mean voucher validity. Unfortunately also, my subscription to MyHeritage has expired, which means I can’t do the colourisation and enhancement I was doing. It’s about $70 for another year. Should I pay it?


Yesterday morning, 30th, I finally made myself put in a phone call to the makers of my horrible mattress, AH Beard. They give a 1-300 number to cal for any complaints or warranty problems, so I phoned the number.

But all you get is a recorded message asking you to leave a message! I had too much to say, so I didn’t speak, and then I heard them say to send an email to ahbeard.com. So I did. Quite a long one. With my phone numbers.

Have I had any response? No, of course not, silly me for thinking I would.

So that’s where it stands at the moment. On the mattress tag, they ask us to give them a good review. Well, it’s not looking good at the moment. Bugger!


Progress on the model railway front: the blue lined squares are 100mm x 100mm.

Each white dot above represents a rail join. You can see how many there are, and the way they line up along the line between pieces of base board. This is so I can build it in sections and join it together. Then break it apart to move it and store it.

You wouldn’t believe how much time it takes to make all that track fit. Endless fiddling and changing. But I’m getting there.

The idea is to print the gray area out on sheets of paper and stick them to the baseboards (just with sticky tape, not too firmly), then lay the track on them using them as the template. That’s where the fun part begins. There will be endless fiddling and mistakes made there too.

It’s a double track all the way around, but I’ll be able to get things going with a single outer loop, as a start, after all this time. I’ve been collecting all the bits for more than five years now and wow, I have got quite a collection! I reckon I’ve got at least fifty wagons of various kinds, both goods and passenger. Plus about 12 locos, a few DCC decoder equipped but most just 12V DC waiting for me to convert them. I may have to start with just 12V DC at the beginning, until I can get more than two or three locos converted for DCC (Digital Command and Control).

As well, I have about six platforms for stations, about eight scale model buildings, four overhead footbridges, a myriad of trees and shrubs, a few dozen containers (the type you see at ports and on trucks), several dozen (at least) lighting poles, a couple of road crossings, two sets of crossing lights (clang, clang, clang), a dozen or more tracks signals, scale model vehicles and so on. And I’ve just received two laser-cut rail bridges. These are made from thin, (1/8″) plywood, beautifully cut with a laser ready to be pushed out of the frames and assembled. It’s wood colour at the moment, but I plan to spray paint it, first grey, then with a partial coating of rust colour.

Would you believe I’ve actually got an air brush sprayer, still new-in-box, never used in four years from Aldi. I’ve never used one before, so here’s my chance to find out how. I’ve also got at least a dozen tubes of paint, again from Aldi. One o’ these days, Norton, one o’ these days.

I can’t model an Australian scene very easily, since there are almost no models of Aussie locos and wagons. I plan to make a general Aussie industrial scene, with lots of goods and stock sheds and buildings. The same goes for scale model buildings – almost everything you can buy is based on British models.

You never finish building a model railway. You never finish. It’s never complete.


I’m reading a new book at the moment, Red Rain. As the name implies, a red rain falls across the whole Earth, and only a handful of people are left alive, including our heroine, Emily in New York.

Sounds as if it could be silly, but it’s got me hooked at the moment. As a Kindle book, it only cost me $2 so if I don’t like it, it’s no great loss.

I was taken to an Amazon page yesterday which shows me all my Amazon purchases since forever, including all the Kindle books. It’s fascinating to look back over the list, and if I can work out a way to display them all, I’ll try to show them here. I could do screen grabs, but there would be too many.


I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my use of gas for water heating and cooking, and whether I could dispense with it altogether. I’m thinking heat pump for the hot water, and doing without a gas stove-top completely, just using my electric bench top oven. I’d still leave the gas cook-top connected (or would I?) for house resale value, but I’d get the gas storage hot water heater removed altogether. To be replaced with a heat pump. They need solar power for part of their operation, and I’ve got that, so what’s stopping me?

What’s stopping me is, will I have hot water at 7am on cold winter mornings? I can’t find anyone who knows the answer. I must admit I haven’t tried very hard to find out, so I should try harder.

If I could do this, I’d like to get the gas disconnected completely, to avoid the service fee. Hmmmmm….

Long time

Chinese temple, Penang. © PJ Croft 2023

Sorry, it’s been a while since I last blogged. I haven’t felt like writing, to be honest. Things haven’t been great. Can’t seem to get along with some people. Misunderstandings. Miscommunications. Plain fuckups.

I’m thinking, kerrumbs, how is it that I’m making such basic mistakes this late in my life? Haven’t I got it down to a fine art by now, nearly 76? I should be sliding along on my backside, cruisin’. Instead I’m shaking my head in disbelief and feeling upset about things.

On the other hand, dammit, is it my fault? I don’t think it is. If I make a mistake, fine, I’ll take it, but I don’t take all the blame here.


I guess it’s not helped by feeling in almost constant pain. It’s not the left chest pain that I was fighting last year – the pain patches cured that, nearly 100%. Amazing. Some side effects, but now that I know what to expect, easily bearable. Even after I remove the patch, the pain stays away for a week or more. It comes back slowly, but it’s nowhere near as bad as last year. I can feel it right now, without the patch, but I don’t need it.

But peripheral neuropathy!! Ooooowwww! It’s awful. My feet ache all the time, with a burning stinging pain, punctuated by SHARP jabs for 15 – 20 secs or more. Sometimes it’s like walking on broken glass or sharp granite chips. I’ve tried various remedies with little success.

The trouble is, if I take any pain relief such as Panadeine Forte, it stops me sleeping. It takes me hours to get to sleep. I often see the dawn light.

So I take a light sedative, an anti-histamine, to make me drowsy and keep me asleep once I get there. But the drawback is a hangover in the morning, until about midday usually. A feeling of incredible weariness. It wears off slowly.

On top of trying to get to sleep, I can’t find a remedy for restless legs syndrome. Oh, there’s a drug for that says the GP. But I can’t notice any difference when I take it, even at double dosage.

So take magnesium, people say. OK, I am, but after a good first few nights, it’s not working now. Writhing around, unable to keep still.

The result is, I’m nervous about going to bed now. That sure doesn’t help.

On top of all that, I’m getting a lot of muscular pain, due to lack of exercise. My fault, but Owww! Sometimes I feel I can hardly keep standing.

As well, although I don’t think I have arthritis, I’m getting intermittent, swelling pain in my right hand. Not the joints, just a growing pain, very localised, lasting a few minutes at a time. Is this also peripheral neuro as well?

My GP recommended a physiotherapist. He seemed surprised that I’ve never used one before. He seems to think it will do wonders for me.

OK, I’ve had three sessions with him so far, on semi-Fridays. He’s set a reasonable set of exercises for me to do every second day. I can do them, and I don’t get sore muscles from it, but keeping to the schedule is very hard. I should have done them today, but I was so weary from a bad night last night that it’s slipped again. I can feel a little improvement so far, I guess.


On top of that, I think I said I bought a new mattress in September. Well, I HATE it! I made the mistake of buying on-line without testing the mattress in a shop. What could go wrong? I chose the on-line because they also took my old 25 yo mattress away, which was one of the things that was worrying me.

Well, it was advertised as “medium” firmness. Fine, I thought. But it’s far too soft! OK for a fairy weight, I suppose but not for me.

The worst thing is that the edge is so soft that I kind of sink down into it, but the middle of the bed feels actually hard. The result is that I constantly feel I’m on a slope. I sleep on the left side of the bed (looking from the head) and if I roll onto my right side (as I always start out), I feel as if I’m rolling, millimetre by millimetre towards the edge. And if I lie on my left side, I can’t seem to get my body into the centre, away from the edge. So I end up sleeping on about 30cm from the edge.

The company is AH Beard. I’d never heard of them before, although I notice they’re advertising a bit now on TV.

There is a warranty, but is this a fault? I guess I’ll have to phone them and ask what to do. What do I do? Go and test mattresses in shops? But I feel uncomfortable about that, having no intention to buy.

I’ve been delaying and delaying, feeling embarrassed and shy about it. OK, pluck up the courage!


I’m also wondering what’s wrong with me, that I keep misunderstanding people. They are putting the blame on me. It can’t be them. They are adamant that they said certain things in a certain way and therefore it must be me who’s misunderstood.

This has resulted in a quite serious clash with an old friend over money and a car. I got upset and asked him to pay for the use, and he agreed to pay me what I asked.

Then a couple of nights ago, he said in a phone call that he would be bringing a substantially bigger sum with him. I understood that to be on top of what he had agreed to pay already. Well, no. It seems I misunderstood again. It is more, but not what I understood from his phone call. Therefore our meeting this morning was very nerve wracking for me.

The lesson is the old saying, “Never a borrower or a lender be.” I don’t borrow (that I can think of) but I often lend things to people. In this case it has gone badly wrong, almost to the ending of a friendship. Not that far, but it’s made e bloody sure I won’t be lending him anything again. Hard lesson to learning at 76!


Another misunderstanding: last week I finally engaged an electrician to replace six down-light lamps in my ceilings.

OK, he came on Monday and replaced them, but one had a faulty transformer (in the ceiling to supply 12V to the lamp). The cost for a new transformer? $180 !! I reeled back but it can’t be helped.

Then he suggested he should check my RCDs (electronic circuit breakers) as they have a finite life, especially near the coast. OK, so he tested them and pronounced them needing replacement. OK, I agreed, it had to be done.

Then it was the two smoke alarms – they have a ten year life span, the house is 19 years old and if I had a fire, the insurance might not pay (same for the RCDs).

The upshot was, total bill, $973.50 !! It started out just as six downlights!

So that was Monday and Tuesday last week (he had to come on Tuesday to finish the job). I got the invoice on Wednesday, and when I was still feeling the shock, a hurry-up email on Friday. Bloody hell.

So I paid it immediately, but emailed them saying this was a bit aggressive. And asking why the bill hadn’t been in two tranches,as he’d offered while I he was here. And, I saw on their web site that they offer 10% discount for pensioners. There was no indication whether that had been applied on the invoice.

Well, that got a reply (from a woman, presumably his wife?), blaming me and her computer. Why hadn’t I asked for the bill to be split? Well, it was he who suggested it and face to face, I said that would be good.

And why hadn’t I mentioned that I’m a pensioner? Well, he knew that, we talked about it, I mentioned my age a couple of times and said “I’ll probably be dead by the time these things fail again.” He knew.

As for the 10% discount, she didn’t answer my question, so I still don’t know. And finally, it’s the computer software that pushes the invoice out so quickly, and sends the hurry-up two days later.

Bloody hell! Shove the blame back on me, why don’t you. The result is an unhappy customer and a zero recommendation. No more business from me. Grrrrr.


So all in all, an unhappy and unsettling fortnight. Not to mention a few other worries I’ve got. It’s a bit hard to sleep these days regardless of insomnia.


Another sparkling, warm summer day, 25degC in this room, a bit windy outside but no problem. We had a 38C a few days ago but it’s been a pretty mild summer so far.

But the floods up North! Wow, a huge rain bearing depression across the Kimberley region of WA, from Broome eastwards, far into the “desert” areas. I put desert in quotes because it’s not really desert as people visualise desert, like sand dunes etc. Yes, there’s some of that but it’s mainly red dirt, thousands of square kilometres of low scrub, rocky outcrops and some spectacular gorges and river country.

But it’s the Fitzroy River in particular which carries away all the water from this huge area, and at present in parts the river has risen 15m in height and is up to 50km wide! I can’t imagine it.

Here’s the bridge at Fitzroy Crossing in dry conditions:

Fitzroy River crossing in dry normal conditions.

Here it is now (or a couple of days ago). The water level is over the road, around 15m above the river bed:

Many animals are struggling to survive.

Kangaroo Island.
Fitzroy River flood plains

The news says that the amount of water flowing down the Fitzroy to the ocean each day is equal to Perth (pop. 2.09m) city’s water use for 20 years! That’s mind blowing, for me.

I know the arguments, but the south west of WA, including Perth, is in perpetual drought, a shortage of water. Our main dams are around 30% full. The winter rains don’t replenish them any more. We’re spending over $1bn building our third seawater desalination plant, a few km up the road from me, actually.

If only, if only, all that humungous amount of water up north could be brought down here. I know, I know, a pipeline is not feasible. The cost would be more than a $billion, for sure, and it’s not flat land. Pumping stations would have to be built, and that takes energy. Where from? Solar is becoming more feasible, but I’d like to see the sums.

Anyway, while we wring our hands, all that enormous, massive amount of water is flowing out into the sea. Sob.


My title is pain, and it’s partly a report on the bodily pain I’ve been having, and partly another type of pain.

My bodily pain, the sharp, stabbing, needle pains that I was having from May to December last year, is mostly gone away. I can still feel it a bit, right now, but it’s bearable.

Last week, around Tuesday, it had become bad enough that I had to reapply the pain patch that worked so well before Xmas. As before, it stopped the pain in its tracks. It works wonders.

But it took me a few days to realise that the vague sick feeling I was getting was due to this analgesia. I had to remove the patch again. The sick feeling went away. But importantly, the pain stayed away too. Up until now. It slowly comes back, but I’m not at the stage of needing the patch again.

As a result of this, I cancelled the nerve block operation which was scheduled for last Thursday. I feel there was no 100% guarantee that it would have fixed the problem permanently, and I don’t like the idea of cutting or blocking nerves unless absolutely needed.

Interestingly, if I had had the operation, they would not accept me getting a taxi home. They insisted that I had to be picked up by a family member or a friend, who would stay with me at home. Problem: I don’t have any family members any more. They have shunned me, abandoned me, treated me like dirt. The feeling is mutual.

I have two great friends, but they both work and I don’t like to ask them. They would come, but I feel uncomfortable about it. I have other friends, but one is losing his sight in one eye to macular degeneration and shouldn’t drive, and the other has cancer and needs chemo. It’s gettin’ a bit difficult these days.

The other pain I referred to is psychic pain and I might leave that for now.


Dammit, I’ve been driving since November 1965, that’s 57 years and a bit, and I got my first speeding ticket the other day. Damn. At first I couldn’t understand it, but slowly it dawned. I was driving back from Joondalup towards Marmion Avenue, avoiding the freeway. It was late afternoon and driving into the setting sun (this was November) I could hardly see and I couldn’t see the speedo.

So they got me. A speed camera. Doing 77km/h in a 70km/h zone. I can’t dispute it.

BUT! This is a double lane, divided road with limited access, and the camera was set up at just the time when the sun is shining into your eyes. UNFAIR!

Bugger it, I’ll just have to pay up, but you get no credit for being an exemplary driver! You’re treated just the same as the hoons and the habitual speeders. Unfair.

However, there’s another thing – the photo on the ticket shows my front number plate (on the Peugeot). Thing is, I’ve lost that number plate. It’s missing, fallen off, gone. At least I know I still had it in mid November.

I don’t quite know how to go about this, getting a replacement. Look it up on the web, I suppose. I hope it doesn’t cost too much.


Another glorious summer day, 30degC, cloudless blue sky, almost no wind. Lovely.


I had a physiotherapist around here this morning, since I’m not moving well these days. My legs are so weak (as a long term problem) that I’m unsteady, having trouble walking, having balance problems and generally feeling unsteady. The GP recommended a local guy, who seems to work from home about 2km from here. Neat. The GP was surprised when I said I’ve never seen or used a physio before. Huh? Never needed it.

He spent an hour with me and boy, I was tired by the time he left! He went through a long assessment list, like, how easily can I get up from a chair, how long can I stand unassisted (not touching anything, passed that one), how many times can I get up unaided from a standard chair, can I do six minutes of walking a 10m loop without resting, etc etc. Answer, had to stop twice, but he noted that I recovered quickly, within a minute or two.

And so on. He also assessed my new mattress and agrees that it’s no good. It’s too soft. I chose medium. Bloody hell, I was a fool to just shop on-line without testing in a shop.

Cost – $150 for the hour, and there will be weekly visits costing $130 each time. Ouch. But I think I can claim on HBF.

Nice guy, but I complained that I expected an athletic young female. 🙂

And wow, I was/am weary after that. I haven’t done anything like that for a while. But not out of breath. Heart’s OK. I’m expected to do a set of exercises twice a day (!) in this next week and I guess I’ll be assessed again next week. Although I phoned his office (?) to make a new appointment and the assistant seemed to have left early for the New Year’s long weekend. No answer.

I’m feeling quite good about this. I need someone to push me, someone to answer to, someone to encourage me. Dammit, I used to love walking. I used to be able to walk long distances (Stirling Station to Trigg, about 8km) just for the enjoyment. I used to walk for 3 – 4hrs in the city, just browsing the bookshops and so on. Haven’t done that for years. So here’s hoping.


Success at last! For the past six months, at least, I’ve had a message on the display of my Panasonic house phone saying “New Voicemail message. Press VM”. And the LED on the top flashing. Endlessly flashing. Even in the dark in my bedroom, flashing such that I can almost see it on the ceiling.

So I pressed VM and all I got was some female voice saying an error message. I could not get rid of it!

Today, I hoiked out the instruction book – I keep all the little stuff you get with products you buy these days, including receipts. You rarely need them, but occasionally you do, like now.

Trouble was, I discovered that the instruction booklet I have is not for my model of phone. How could that have happened?! I tried to follow the instructions to access voicemail anyway but got nowhere.

To cut a long story short, finally …………. without being on-line or in a call, just the phone handset in my hand, idle, I pressed the hash # key and bingo, the LED went away. So easy! Just like that. Crazy. Whaddya godda do.


I’m going to have to call an electrician next week, just to replace some light “globes”. They’re not light “globes” any more, they are LED downlights, but as several of them are in positions where I would have to lean sideways from a step ladder, I can’t risk doing it myself any more.

I’m pretty annoyed. Two years ago I got some electricians in (there were two guys) to do this same job. But (a) they didn’t have any lamps in their kit (dammit, why should I have to pay for their trip to Bunnings within the job time, and pay retail plus their margin?); and (b) out of five lights, one failed almost immediately, three failed a few weeks after and the other one is flickering and on the point of failing. Pretty annoyed about that job, $150 odd worth.

Anyway, the ones I want are MR16 bi-pin type, $16 for three. This time I will buy them and have them ready when they come.


Dog, I’m tempted. The Peugeot 407 car stereo sounds OK, but it’s pathetic really. Very hard to operate.

This is a Chinese made drop-in replacement for the Peugeot car stereo, including GPS (!) and several other functions. Such as displaying the car’s fuel economy readings, BlueTooth phone connectivity (ie making and receiving phone calls), SD card slot, USB socket and displaying a rear vision camera (included) and so on.

Price $423 + $45 postage. Very easy installation (YouTube video shows how).

The thing is, am I going to keep this car? I have it booked in to the RAC Joondalup in February for a service and advice on why the engine is so rattly. As I said to the guy, it drives beautifully, despite the noise. What’s the cause?

I guess that’s the answer – wait until after this service before making a decision on whether I’ll keep it.


This gladdens the heart of a technician – neatness! These are fibre-optic cables.

Wow, summer is here – 36deg today, and the first day I’m using the air-con on cooling this summer. And another hooray, Christmas Day is forecast to be mild, about 30-31degC. I found a good graph on the web yesterday:

Perth Xmas Day maximum temperatures 2000-2022

What happened in 2018?! From then on, the maxes skyrocketed. Weird.


Good news! My abdominal pain has mostly gone away.

Last Saturday, although the pain patches were working extremely well, I was sick of the hand tremors and feeling woozy and unsteady. So I pulled the patch off and thought, “I’ll try putting up with the pain, and hope the side effects go away.”

OK, not much happened for 24hrs, then 36hrs, then 48hrs. No pain! The pain stayed away. I thought this might happen. I’d even talked to the GP about it last week. “The body often fixes itself.”

Well, at 72hrs later, so far so good. I’m still getting twinges and small sharp pains, but I can easily stand them.

So yesterday, Monday, I had to attend Joondalup Hospital to be assessed for anaesthesia for the scheduled nerve block operation on Thursday 5 January. I told the anaesthetist about the remission and she phoned the pain specialist. The judgement was that we’ll go through the rigorous assessment process anyway, and I’ll phone on Tuesday 3 Jan or Wed 4 Jan to decide whether to go ahead with the op. I’ve said the idea of the operation makes me nervous and I don’t want to have it if I don’t need it, so we’ll leave it at that. Fine with me.

What a thorough, rigorous, complex assessment this was. First, about an hour with on-line filling out the hospital’s form. Then when I got to the hospital, another hour with a nurse going through every detail of the on-line form, plus another three or four hospital forms, checking, double checking, asking questions. Then blood pressure (135/93, btw), an ecg, the usual pulse and oxygen saturation. Then finger prick and blood sugar level. This showed 4.1 mmol/ml. That’s low for me, nearing hypoglycemia level, although I felt OK. The nurse asked if I had my kit to deal with this. Luckily, I had a packet of jellybeans for this very situation, so she insisted that I start munching on them. That got me up to 4.8 about 20 mins later. She was very pleased with me for that. Top marks for carrying these beans. That’s nice.

The fact was that I felt so wobbly when I got up at about 9am, and after my shower, having to hurriedly fill out the on-line form, that I never got around to breakfast. My appointment was at 1pm so I drove there, skipping lunch too, and had to walk to the rooms feeling very weak and wobbly. No wonder my blood sugar was low. The nurse insisted on getting me a couple of biscuits to go after the jelly beans, so that was nice.

Then after another 30 min wait and a couple of very nice conversations with other patients, I got in to see the anaesthetist. Gee, I would never have guessed her position and status – she looked a bit dumpy (overweight) and spoke and moved slowly. Not what I thought an anaesthetist would be like. However, we got through the interview OK and then it was all over, around 3.30pm. Two and a half hours, wow.

She did tell me to absolutely stop taking one of my diabetes meds, Jardiamet. It is dangerous for anaesthesia, she said. OK, all good. So that was it.

I was still feeling weak and wobbly so it was a hard walk back to the carpark. My left leg seems to want to collapse under me. It doesn’t, but it’s not good. Also, when I weighed this morning, I lost 1kg yesterday. Not surprising.