Bunker bulldust day 191

Endeavour 1990 © PJ Croft 2020

Ugh, back to winter again. Friday was 25 deg, nice Spring weather, but yesterday, Saturday, was wet, grey and cloudy and today’s not much better. The blanket went back on top of the doona last night, whereas Friday night I started out lying uncovered. Not too bad today, sun’s out now but it’s been raining and the forecast is for a wet week right through to next weekend. Huh.

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Re the photo above of the barque Endeavour, did you read during the week that the replica ship Duyfken has left Fremantle for Sydney permanently?

Yes, it’s gone from Fremantle and WA. Although it was built here and is identified with WA, it was costing about $450,000 a year in maintenance and the state government said it wouldn’t support it any more. No sponsors could be found here, so it’s gone. What a pity. They used to do twilight dinner cruises on the river and we hoped to go on one when we could manage it. Too late, the chance is gone.

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As you probably know, I have many thousands of images stored up, mostly mine but many from the web. How to view them and more importantly, how to find them?

For years I’ve been using a program called ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate and I’ve just upgraded to the latest 2021 version (a bit premature of them).

Above is the main view called Manage, with the folder and drives list on the left. Clicking on a folder shows its contents.

This is a new mode called Photos, which allows a quick overview of all the images grouped by Year (as shown above),

or by Month display
and Day display.

You can change between Year, Month and Day just by rolling the mouse wheel, so it’s very quick and easy. The point is that it allows me to quickly find a picture, as the eye can pick an image out from the mass much more easily than trying to remember which folder it’s in.

Once I’ve found the image, I change to Edit mode:

This is where I adjust colour, saturation, vibrance, cropping, perspective correction, sharpness, noise, spotting and so on.

I won’t bore you with every detail, it’s just that I’m quite impressed with this software and the new(ish) Photos display of hundreds of images at a glance has me quite excited.

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I’m well into Volume 3 of the Croft History, writing about Cunderdin at the moment.

There’s going to be much more text and narrative in this volume as I can remember so much more. In fact, I find the words just flow as I write. The memories come back and the more I think about them, the more detail I remember. I’m really enjoying this. Being able to colourise all these black and white images has really got me going. I have so much to write!

One memory about Cunderdin which is not worth putting in the book: we went to see a movie (a flick, as it was in those days, we never said “movie”) called The Back of Beyond.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Back_of_Beyond

It included scenes of desert, drought and desolation. In particular, it showed a lost group of children trying to find their settlement. This affected me greatly and to this day, I’m a bit nervous of wide open spaces. I have a feeling of discomfort being out miles from anywhere and I think it’s a hangover from this film. I’ve never watched it since then but I see it’s available so maybe I should exorcise my ghosts.

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Another movie that scared the pants off me was When Worlds Collide. Uncle Max took me to see it in Bruce Rock in about 1953 I think, (it’s a 1951 production so maybe it was 1952 when I was five?) and I had bad dreams about it for months afterwards. It’s out on DVD and I think I might even have it – I think I started to watch it but it was so corny I stopped.

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When this pandemic started back in March I did what most people were doing, I stocked up on “pandemic food”. Not a huge amount – I didn’t buy boxes and cartons, but I did buy four green bags full of microwave rice, pasta, tins of soup and beans, packets of Indian vegetarian food, daal etc and many small tins of tuna, salmon and chicken and so on. These bags have sat on the floor under a table for six months now. I hauled a couple out yesterday and crikey! I don’t need to buy food for another six months. In fact I’ve got more than I need or can store. I think it would be best if I take it to the Food Bank box outside Coles.

I’m coming to the end of my hoarded supply of toilet paper too. How about you?

Bunker bulldust day 189

Grandma Croft, me, late 1964. And the beloved EH Holden.

Wow, quick change in the season. It’s 21C but I feel warm enough to consider running the fan. Very comfortable.

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I’ve been to see a lawyer this morning to update my will. He was strictly business, no warmth, no interest in anything I had to say in a personal sense, no interest in a photo I showed him. That will be $445 please, for half an hour. Standard fee. He also has to spend time rewriting the will of course, but crikey, money seems to be flowing out the door lately.

My will is lodged with a firm of accountants in St Geo. Tce in Perth, who monitor deaths and I presumed, would act as my executors. But this lawyer said, “How do you know that? I see nothing in these letters that says so.” Oh. So I need to contact them and clarify this.

Plus I definitely need to organise an Enduring Power of Attorney. I used to have one but changed my mind. Gotta get on it. I have a friend who also needs to do his, so I’ll swap him.

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It turns out that I have 38 followers of this blog, that’s those who have actually signed on with the button, so I thank you all most kindly. You’re spread all over the world and I do not know a single one of you personally. I know I have at least two other readers as well. Welcome and thanks again.

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Me, Grandma, brother, Mum 1964

Oh yeah, I had the plumber here on Wednesday for the toilet. Damn, he had it unblocked within 10 seconds! It’s all in having the right tool for the job. He just used a plunger but his was a relatively small rubber head (maybe 15cm diameter) on the end of a flexible but stiff rod about 20cm attaching to a long wooden pole. Half fill the bowl with water, RAM, RAM and it was done. Bloody ‘ell. So easy when you know how to do it.

So then I put him onto reseating the U-bend under the basin. I thought it would require a new one and I’d actually bought one but I couldn’t make it fit. “Yair,” he said, “A Bunnings special. Useless.” I agree, it was a waste of $11.90. Maybe I can give it to the Salvos.

All up, he was here for 25 mins but the minimum charge is for 1 hour at $140. Damn! Why should this be allowed? Anyway, it’s done now.

I discussed replacing the complete pan and cistern and the charge is two hours labour, about $300 plus the cost of the suite, about $500 – 600. I’m thinking, don’t be silly. You don’t need it. Spend the money on getting the front door repainted and the patio decking stripped back and revarnished. And all the myriad other jobs that need doing.

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At the start of the pandemic, the government and Workplace Relations Minister Christian Porter said they would work with the ACTU in a spirit of cooperation to explore ways of improving workplace relations. Sally McManus explicitly said the ACTU was prepared to be open minded and open handed on ways to make improvements, provided workers were not left worse off.

A couple of days ago I heard her interviewed on radio saying the government and employers had reverted to type and these talks had broken down. Liberal ideology rules.

Today she says: “It has become obvious that a number of employer lobby groups no longer wish to respect this process or engage in good faith.

“Throughout, some employer lobby groups have come to this process not wanting to reach common ground and advance the national interest.

“Instead, they want to use the opportunity to undermine working people’s rights at a time of unprecedented national crisis.”

This tallies with my experience in 1996. We, the ACTU and unions had the opportunity to revise and modernise the award classifications.

I and an advisor spent months devising a new classification scale which met all the requirements of the AQF (Australian Qualifications Framework) and ASF (Australian Standards Framework) and was very innovative. It brought everything up to date. It was right!

This was one page of three, representing Engineering, Production and Operations.

We presented it in face to face meetings with the station employer representatives as a proposal.

The result was that the employers stonewalled: no classifications were obsolete, according to them, nothing needed to be improved. All they did was string out the meetings until we could not bear the cost and it was obvious no progress was possible.

In one meeting, when we were trying to relate the new classifications to pay scales, I especially remember one small time manager from a country station exclaiming, “I wish we could get ’em all down there”, meaning a lower pay rate. What a wonderful attitude, but typical of my experience with workplace relations. And he was probably one of those low paid employees once.

In October 1996 (while I was working in Jakarta) the ACTU sent me a list of more than 100 questions posed by the employers. It was obvious that they either did not understand much of the proposal or assumed that we were fixed and rigid. All we were doing was presenting it as a starting point for discussion. They weren’t interested. All they wanted to do was fend us off.

From that time on, I abandoned any thoughts of cooperation and vowed that I would be as militant as the employers were. My experience was that employers showed bad faith, could not be trusted and were only interested in keeping wages low (and they were low! – poverty line low) and downgrading conditions. One employer that I know was actually breaking the law by moving award employees onto salaries (by deceiving them into thinking this was an Enterprise Agreement – it was nothing of the sort!) The penalty under law was $10,000 per day per employee! Unfortunately we didn’t have enough union members to do anything about it. Cowardly colleagues wouldn’t support their union.

Sally McManus’s words above illustrate that nothing will change in this country while the employers are as rigid and ideological as they falsely accuse unions of being. Just look at the news – there’s hardly a day goes by without a new example of employer wage theft, employer fraud, denial of award conditions, illegality by companies, massive wrongdoing by companies such as Westpac with their money laundering and AMP with their sales deceptions. Just to name a few.

Yet employers claim unions are bad. This is sickening. I have no optimism for industrial relations in this country. All employers are interested in is suppressing wages (at a time when wages have shown no growth for a decade!) and cutting conditions. Yet they pay themselves like kings. Sick!

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I’ve been an iiNet customer since 2013, before they were bought by TPG. I’ve had some bad experiences – loss of connection for long periods on a couple of occasions, poor support (from South Africa!) and lack of response to my queries.

Two days ago I sent a message on their “Contact us” form, saying I had just heard Paul Budde, the well known technology commentator, saying that most people on the NBN fibre are on 50Mb/s. (This was in a discussion about the new FTTC NBN announced a few days ago.)

Oh yeah? My message said that I had heard that Telstra upgraded all their customers to 50Mb/s a year or more ago at no cost. I had asked if iiNet would do this for me in view of my long loyalty.

All I got was a “Please wait, we will ask our manager.” A week later I got a call in an almost unintelligible Indian sounding voice asking me to explain my request again, which I did. Again, the answer was, “Please wait, we’ll get back to you.” They didn’t, of course.

So in this contact form on Wednesday I explained all this again and said, “How about it?” I got a confirmation reply that Craig Levy, the Chief Operating Officer, would respond, usually within one business day.

Result? Nothing! No response. Same as before. OK, that’s it. I have two letters on my desk right now from other ISPs wanting to sign me up, so iiNet, you’ve lost my business. iiNet are shit.

Bunker bulldust day 186

Cunderdin, 1955. Oh, to be slim again.

Turned out nice, din’ it? Rain this morning but warming up now. Great!

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Dammit, once again I’ve been turned away at shops near me. They don’t want my business.

In the first case, I went to have lunch at the Coffee Club at Butler Junction at 2.25pm. When I asked if they’re open, it was “Take away only, we close in five minutes.” They close this coffee lounge/restaurant at 2.30pm! This is about the fourth time this has happened. The result is that I won’t go back again.

Then I went to get a haircut. I didn’t realise it’s a women’s hairdresser but they have a sign at the front saying Men’s Haircuts $20. OK, I went in and said, “When can you do me?” The answer was not until 4.30pm. Two bloody hours away! Again, I said No thanks and walked out.

Recession? Slow business? They don’t want our business. What a joke. I’ll just take my business elsewhere.

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Happier times. About 1962.

I’ve been preparing all the images for the next Croft History volume, number 3, 1955 to around 1980, 149 of them. The standard size of the pre-purchase books is 40 pages but I might need to buy the next size up, 80 pages. I’ll be able to write a lot more text for this volume because obviously, I remember more.

I reckon I’ve spent three full eight hour days doing this preparation. One day I’ll enumerate all the steps involved. Phew, it’s a lot. And the number of mouse clicks! Thousands, maybe tens of thousands. But I love doing it.

What a pity our family bonds have been shattered by the actions of my siblings. You can see we were a happy family once, but since around 2000 we have been driven apart by the arrogant belief in the right to interfere in my life and the need for vengeance against men on the one hand, and the love of money and tax avoidance on the other. I am very, very distressed by this. Extremely upset!

The result is that I don’t think my family members will see these books before I die, or they die. Pity. I’m seeing the lawyer on Friday to make my will up to date and to ensure it can’t be challenged.

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Last issue.

A few years ago I found a British magazine called Modern Classics which is devoted to cars from around 1990 to 2010. They reckon, and I heartily agree, those were the golden years for cars. You could buy real sports cars with manual transmissions and open tops if you wanted them. Performance was king, the styling (my main interest) was refined and beautiful.

I bought many paper copies from around 2015 and then a year ago bought a digital subscription to save on costs and wasted paper. The magazine celebrated its 20th year with the August issue.

You guessed it, it’s gone. Bloody German company Bauer Media owned it and they’ve continued their blundering bad management, closing it down. They’ve done the same thing in Australia, buying up many magazine titles, managing them badly, losing money hand over fist and then closing them down. This is a pathetically badly run company that has lost a lot of people their money and cost many journalists their jobs.

Luckily, the final issue of Modern Classics happened to coincide with the end of my year’s subscription. They’ve offered to change my sub to Car magazine but I haven’t decided yet. I’m not much interested in modern cars, I wanted the Modern Classics era. If I want modern cars, I’d buy Wheels but they write stuff for the boy racers, mainly, or for people who can afford $100K or more for a car. Damn.

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I’ve got the plumber coming tomorrow to unblock my toilet, I hope. I’ve found a new toilet that I’d like if we decide to simply replace it. More news as it happens.

Bunker bulldust day 183

Me at age one.

Wow, five days late. No matter, here I am again on a fine but blustery day, blue skies at the moment but threatening rain and possibly hail later.

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Aaarrrgh, damned Windows. I spent at least half an hour working on a document in MS Word, saving frequently, with no indication that anything was wrong, but when I went to exit and close it down, it asked me if I wanted to Save. Of course I did. Then when I went to close it again, I got the same message. So I exited without saving, confident that I’d saved frequently.

You guessed it, when I opened the document again, none of my new work was there. It hadn’t saved a damned thing.

I started looking for permission problems and noticed that my entire My Documents folder was set to Read Only. Whaaat? How did that happen? I didn’t do it, obviously. So I unchecked the Read Only box and waited until it had done its thing, going through all the sub folders, so it told me. Then I tried the document again. Still wouldn’t save! Same problem, can’t close Word without the prompt to Save, which doesn’t work, or Don’t Save, which allows the program to close but you lose your work.

What craziness is this? Therefore at the moment, I can’t use Word. Luckily I usually use Lotus Word Pro which is working fine. This is a 20 year old word processor but it’s still my first choice. It just keeps working and I rarely have any problems.

In fact, for my TVW History project, which uses lots of images with the text wrapped around, I’m using Word Pro to lay it out. Easy as pie and reliable. Microsoft, get lost.

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I’ve been thinking just last night, and in recent days, that I haven’t had any Wish deliveries for a long time, at least six weeks or so. There was a knock on the door just now and there it was, a bag of items, seven in all, from Wish. Looks like my Wish came true.

A postal delivery on a Saturday afternoon? What’s the world coming to?

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I give up. I’ve had two bathroom problems this week and I just can’t fix them myself. I’ll have to call a plumber.

The first is that the right hand basin drain was constantly slow draining and finally blocked up. I’ve had this before and fixed it myself by removing the U-bend, but this time, although I’ve got it off and cleared it, I cannot get it to seal again. No matter how many times I try, water spills out into the cabinet underneath.

The problem is I can’t see what I’m doing. I’m having to do things by feel. It’s worked in the past but it’s got me this time. I give up (for now, anyway).

The other problem is that the toilet is blocked solid. No matter how I try, with wire auger, plastic “snake”, two sizes of plunger, caustic fluid, even my hand encased in a plastic bag (ugh), nothing will clear it! It’s driving me mad.

I think this will be the time to completely replace the whole pan and cistern, something I’ve been thinking about for some years. I’d like to have the Toto toilets they have in Bali hotels, and I’ve found a shop that sells them in Perth, but they are more than $1,000. Hmmm. Thinking about it.

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I meant to mention – I spoke previously of the release of the new version of Microsoft Flight Simulator, the first new version in more than a decade. Well it was finally released on 18 August. That’s the good news.

The bad news is:
(1) you can’t buy it on a DVD in the shops. It’s download only, at about $250 for the full version;
(2) the download is around 90GB of data which would take around two hours and chew up a big chunk of my data allowance;
(3) to download it, you need to join a Microsoft Game club, or a gaming site called Steam, neither of which I want to do;
(4) it seems to require significant video card specs.

All these seem to be obstacles to me. I did actually attempt to buy it when it became available and paid for it on-line, but when I saw the obstacles, I quickly asked Microsoft for a refund which, to their credit, they did immediately.

Therefore, at the moment, I am Flight Simulator deficient. I’m hoping they’ll release it on DVDs or something.

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I’ve finally finished the revision of my Croft History Vol. 2 1950 – 54, 2nd Edition using all the enhanced and coloured photos. I am very pleased with it. Samples:

And so-on. There are 40 pages. I’m open for orders. I’m afraid the cost is $29.90 + $12.95 postage to me, total $42.85, plus the postage to you, at a guess another $12.95, total $55.80. I’m afraid there’s nothing I can do to reduce the cost. This is cost price.

There is another way – the images shown above are page proofs generated by the Photobook program. But Photobook are not stupid, they won’t let me print the pages directly and these page proofs are fairly low resolution. I’ve put them into a PDF file, but the resolution is lost. The pages are not sharp. The physical paper book is the best way.

Anyway, as I said, I’m open for orders – pcroft810@gmail.com. I’ll email all my cousins to let them know.

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I made a start on changing the throttle position sensor in the Honda MDX yesterday and guess what, stymied at the first hurdle. The first bolt I tried is locked solid and I’m in danger of burring the edges trying to undo it. It needs a “rattle gun” but I have an impact driver which should substitute. Provided I can adapt it to hold the 10mm socket. I gotta get on with this job.

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Chinese fishing fleet plundering the Galapagos Islands.

Speaking of murderers and torturers, the above satellite image shows the Chinese fishing fleet massed on the Galapagos Islands Marine Reserve boundary while they plunder ALL the fish and marine life in the sea in that location. They take everything that moves, denuding the sea floor.

This is what the Chinese are doing all over the world, plundering the land and seas for their own markets. The Chinese are the ones responsible for almost all the losses of animal species in Africa so that Chinese men can have ground up rhino horn to give themselves bigger dicks (Chinese men have notoriously small dicks, of course.)

I think we are going to have a very big problem with China in the years to come. I think it will come to a shooting war and it will probably end in nuclear weapons use. It’ll probably be after I’ve dropped off but if you have kids, I’m sorry for you. The coming war with China is going to be very, very bad.

China is responsible for most of the world’s problems:
* It’s the world’s second worst polluter
* It has no respect for the law, either internally or International law
* It has no respect for human rights, employing detention without trial, ruthless capital punishment, kidnapping and “disappearances”, torture, brainwashing, concentration camps, any wrong you can think of.
* It lies, cheats and steals. It is a nation of thieves and liars.
* China caused the COVID-19 virus that has devastated the world.
* China is annexing territory in the South China Sea and is defying the International Court.

The list goes on. Most individual Chinese are fine, but as a country it is a Communist military dictatorship which can never be trusted. They are going to cause the deaths of millions in the future. They must be stopped, now.

Bunker bulldust day 178

Scanned on an Epson 4990 flat bed scanner. © PJ Croft 2020

Aaah, 27deg today. Hoorah!

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I’ve restarted watching the entire 11 series of the Big Bang Theory!

I was always a fan when it was on free-to-air TV. I didn’t care how many episodes were repeats, I always found something new in the jokes or situations, or in the expressions and mannerisms of Sheldon and Penny.

There’s something special about this series to me and watching it again now is like coming back to an old friend. The humour is genuinely funny and depends on subtle timing. Call me corny, but I love it. I’m up to episode 12 in the first series at the moment.

I’ve actually got about four boxed sets of various series of this, but since it’s on Netflix, I may as well give the DVDs to the charity shops.

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By the way, being the grammar nazi that I am: notice that I used the numerals 11 and 12 up there? The way I’ve learnt it is that when you write numbers, if they’re less than ten, you use the word, but for more than ten, you use the numerals.

For example, if I talk about six boxes or ten boxes, I write it that way, but when I mention 11 boxes or 15, I use numerals. That’s the way I learnt it.

Another thing – notice I wrote learnt it. If I were in America, I would have written learned it. But to me, learned is pronounced learn-ed, two syllables, meaning someone who has knowledge, who is learned, two syllables. “I bow to the superior knowledge of my learned friend.”

You must obey me! Otherwise I’ll come round and kick your chookhouse door down, OK?

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Somewhere near Mackay I think, around 1987. Epson flatbed scanned.

We’ve all heard about the benefits of cannabis oil in the past five years or so, and how doctors have to go to great trouble with the paperwork to get permission to prescribe it. It all seemed a bit too remote for me. I’m interested, though, because I’m having chronic pain from the diabetic neuropathy in my feet. They ache 24/7. They sting and burn at the same time as feeling too cold. And I get shooting nerve pains every few minutes, bad enough to have me crying out in agony. Luckily it only lasts a few seconds each time, but it’s bad enough to disturb me while getting to sleep sometimes.

Therefore I’ve been considering asking my GP if he would prescribe CBD (cannabidiol) for me. I know someone else who suffers chronic pain and he’s taking it and thinks it does him some good. I’d like to try it, although I seem to show almost no response to all the various vitamins, minerals, organic remedies and so on.

Well, knock me down with a feather duster but the TGA has reclassified CBD oil as a Schedule 3 drug in Australia. That means you don’t need a prescription any more. You just have to ask the pharmacist. Hallelujah, a bit of common sense in this country at last.

Of course, there’s the small matter of cost – my friend’s CBD oil costs him about $130 for a month’s supply. This change doesn’t happen until February 1 next year, so I’ve got time to save my pennies. By the way, why the delay? Why the seemingly arbitrary date?

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Hanoi 2014. © PJ Croft 2020

For years, I had to work alongside fellow techs who refused to belong to the union. The first question they always asked when I approached them was, “How much does it cost?” The second was a comment that Harry Bluck made us go on strike in the past. (He was the state head of Actors’ Equity and the strike happened in the early ’60s!)

From Crikey.com: For years, the Business Council of Australia has portrayed itself as the body representing big business. But it is shareholders who are the owners of capital and who should be calling the shots. Directors and executives merely are hired hands, employees.

You could argue the rise of industry superannuation funds has returned capitalism to its roots, delivering power back to the ultimate owners who coincidentally happen to be employees, a neat merger of two factors of production.

You could also mount an argument that the BCA is a trade union, representing the interests of their members, company directors and senior executives. [My emphasis.]

There’s nothing wrong with that. And you have to hand it to them, as an organisation, it has been phenomenally successful.

While wages largely have stagnated economy wide, executive salaries have ballooned with largesse doled out regardless of performance.

Exactly. The Business Council of Australia is a trade union which represents its members’ interests. Just as the CPSU – Technical, Communications and Aviation Division represented our interests. And just as the AMA represents doctors’ interests and the Airline Pilots Assoc. represents pilots’ interests, and so on and on. Everyone has a union to represent them, including bankers, employers, accountants, lawyers, politicians.

Why my fellow workers would trust the employers to always have their interests at heart, preferring to act alone in any negotiations, is beyond me. It’s academic now, in the past, but I put it down to simple cowardice. They were too scared to do anything to project their own interests. They would rather shrink to the background and let me and other union members do the work. Yes, I’m bitter, especially as many of them did finally join the union right at the end in 2000 – 2005 or so when they finally saw what bastards the company really were.

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As I think I’ve mentioned, the MyHeritage web site is mainly a family tree builder and although I’ve been talking about the photo enhancement function, I’ve also been working away on the family tree:

It’s impossible to see at this scale, but if you right click and choose View Image, you’ll get a full screen view. Then you can zoom in by pressing Ctrl+ (in Firefox, anyway).
Another view. Pink for girls, blue for boys. That’s the way it always was.

It’s taken quite a while just to put current family members and cousins in, with some antecedents. I’m spending a lot of time working on the living people and I haven’t gone very far back in our history so far, but I’m working on it.

Each person can have an attached photo, so that’s where the enhancement business comes in. I’ve added quite a few photos, but nowhere near all. You could waste the rest of your life doing this but it’s quite satisfying. Dad would have been fascinated, I think. He did a fair bit of work on his side of the family but had it drawn out on a big roll of tracing paper in ink and pencil. I saw it, but I don’t know what happened to it.

Bunker bulldust day 176

Penang 1990 © PJ Croft 2020

Lovely day, cloudless blue sky, very little wind and 19C, a little bit chilly. Tomorrow is when the Spring temperatures start to climb.

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I’ve finally sent the Croft History vol. 1, 2nd ed. books off to my USA cousins today. They’re printed in Malaysia and I couldn’t see a way to get them sent directly to the US, so they came here last Thursday. But when I took them to the Post Office yesterday to post them I was rocked back on my heels.

The single book package cost $36.15 and the two book package was $49.20 in postage. Aaarrrgh! Well, there was nothing to be done about it so with Lisa’s and Sami’s permissions, I posted them off.

I think this makes the exercise cost prohibitive. What I’ll do next time is compose the book and save it as a PDF (Acrobat) file. That way I can just email the file and anyone elsewhere in the world can view it on-screen and if they wish, take the file to a book printing company such as Office Works here to have a copy printed. I have no idea what they’d charge, but the cost of the book to me is $29.90 + $36 postage to the USA, so that’s the price to beat. Would Office Works or Costco or Wal Mart charge $66 to print a copy. I don’t know. Must investigate.

It’s a toss up: viewing on-screen does make for rich colours and fine detail but the feel of a hard cover and fine paper under strong light is hard to beat, too.

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Malacca 1990 © PJ Croft 2020

I went to Bunnings this morning for the first time in six months. It was to buy a sink plunger to clear my toilet blockage. Hah! I can’t be the only person with this problem because there’s a wide range of “toilet blockage clearance” devices, ranging from the simple wooden handle type of rubber plunger to elaborate borers on the end of long metal spring snakes. I ummed and aaahed and eventually bought the simple stick type, plus a more elaborate pneumatic plunger type which came with a variety of rubber cup sizes. It was cheap enough at $11.90. I’ve also bought a 1l bottle of cleaning fluid, presumably caustic or something, which promises to do the job too.

It’s so good having two bathrooms and two toilets. I love it.

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Malacca 1990. It was the end of Ramadan, I think, and fire crackers were being exploded everywhere. The kids covered their ears like this. © PJ Croft 2020

While I was at Bunnings I was shocked, shocked I tell you. I saw two women wearing jeans without the knees being cut and torn.

This is a major fashion crime, you know. You must have torn knees. The first rule of women’s fashion is that you must copy. You must follow everyone else. If a fashionista’s jeans are ripped, then yours must be too. If others wear a cardigan with the arms knotted around the waist, you must too. If one good looking woman has a ring through her nose, then you must too. And you must have tattoos. It’s compulsory, don’t you know?

Yesterday I saw a rather gorgeous young woman wearing tights that were so thin, so stretched, that simply nothing was left to the imagination. I could see every crease, every bottom wobble, every curve. She may as well have been nude. Yet if a bloke looks too hard or long, we’ll get criticism.

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I’m not sure if I mentioned before but my lawnmowing contractor said he might be interested in buying the Honda MDX when I want to sell. I told him a guide price and we agreed to wait a while so I can fix the few problems. I must say I would like to take it on a trip somewhere first, when I get the chance.

But today I’ve read an article in the West Australian (I occasionally buy it) where they say there is such a demand for 4WD vehicles, due to the See WA campaign, that the prices of second hand ones have risen markedly, 10 – 20% or more. The dealers are saying they’ve never seen such demand.

Hmmmm. I think it would be better if I advertised mine. I’ll talk to Bryce before I do but …

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I hate this new “block editor” in WordPress. This is one of the clunkiest, most bug ridden interfaces I’ve ever had the misfortune to use. I started to say I can hardly complain when it’s free, but I pay about $30 a year for my domain registration (www.bullsroar.me) through this lot. It’s cheap but it’s not free. I suppose this is an example of buying “cheap” and finding the faults.

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The Beach House restaurant, Sanur. Closed down. Waaaagh!

Oh dear. Oh bugger! As a consequence of the COVID pandemic, my favourite, our favourite restaurant in Bali has closed down. It’s the Beach House at the end of Jalan Kusuma Sari on Semawang Beach, Sanur. I’ve been there quite a few times with my partner and alone, and every time, it’s been a pleasure. They remember me and we get a great welcome. It was owned by some Aussies with a guy called Rob as front of house boss, (and his dog). He’s from Melbourne, but we excused him.

And the head waiter Wayan. What an accomplished guy! He’s Balinese of course, and therefore speaks both Bahasa Indonesian and the Bali dialect, and excellent English, but he’d also taught himself Italian and a little Spanish. He and my partner could hold a nice little conversation when ordering the Italian dishes on the menu.

The closure has been announced on Facebook by the owners, so it’s real. This hits me harder than almost anything else has so far. I’ve had such good times there that I’m really sad. Waaaagggh.

2019 at the Beach House, Sanur, also known as Chilli’s Beach House.

At least I’ve still got its namesake, the Jindalee Beach Shack on the waterfront here. It’s a little too windy and cool at the moment, but it’s quite nice and has a big local following.

Bunker bulldust day 174

Malaysia 1990 © PJ Croft

Lovely day today. It reached 24.8C yesterday, yay! And starting Sunday, 24, Mon 27, Tues 26, Wed 25… Aaaah, Spring ist sprungin’

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Look what I’ve bought:

I found it on eBay, GBP15, with postage and GST about A$45. I couldn’t resist.

In case anyone is wondering, my nickname is Bull, hence all the references to Bull’s Roar, bulldust and so on. I was given that nickname when some kid put a boiling hot teaspoon on my leg under the table in my first few days at boarding school when I was 14. Apparently I roared like a bull. It’s stuck with many of my old school friends and I don’t mind the name.

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I’ve often thought about this: you might know your own name, but you can’t actually prove who you are. Not unless you were tattooed at birth with an identifier, or had your DNA taken at an early age so that it could be matched now.

I have my original 1947 birth certificate that I’d wave if I were challenged, but some other person could steal that from me and assume my identity. I have lots of photos of myself going way back, but my name has been added by me so it doesn’t prove anything beyond doubt. Just a thought.

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I’ve had two calls on my mobile phone (my “handy”) this morning. One was from Greenpeace. I’ve responded to some of their appeals in the past and made a few donations, but I don’t want any more involvement than that. This call was from a young sounding guy who started massaging me and I could tell he was leading on to ask me for a donation. As I said, I’m not a big supporter of Greenpeace because I think they go too far at times, so I just said “Sorry, I don’t want to continue this call” and hung up. Damn, I don’t want calls like this. I usually give my phone number as 0499 999 999 or similar, but they’ve got my real number. Grrr.

Then the second one was from Telstra – “Your internet connection is going to be cut off…” I hung up on that one too, but damn, they’ve not only got my landline number but now my mobile as well. Damn, damn, damn them. It’s a plague, a fungus getting through the cracks.

The caller number showed, so maybe I could block it, but there’ll be a next time. Pests!

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Bali 1983. Good flesh tones. No, I don’t know her. © PJ Croft 2020

I’m installing my new Epson Ecotank 7700 printer, and wow, ten big bottles of ink. There seems to be two of each of four colours and black. The black ink bottles are about 250ml and the colours are about 150ml. I will be very happy with this, I think. I’ve found it has a CD printing tray as well, which I didn’t see in the specs. I use that frequently and definitely want it. Hooray!

Along with shifting the desk and replacing a blown halogen downlight that’s been nagging me for some time, and being able to do away with a long USB cable to the printer (wi-fi connection) and tossing two old printers, satisfaction.

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Bali 1980 © PJ Croft 2020

I ordered two 2TB hard drives, the spinning type, from Amazon and I’ve had two emails from them in the past week saying they are coming with DHL delivery, but not when.

Then this morning I got another two emails saying they will be delivered today by DHL. Well, I need to go out and at 3.15pm nothing has arrived*. There’s no tracking on DHL’s emails so I can’t tell where they are or when they’ll be here.

This is yet another poor service from DHL. I’ve had a few bad experiences with them and I wouldn’t use them in a fit. Not happy.

*PS 3.30pm: DHL has just dropped off my two packages, but they’re not the hard drives, they’re two copies of the Croft History 2nd edition I ordered for my USA cousins. I ordered three – where’s the third?

I need to post them on to the USA so I don’t want to open them. But I’m too tempted.

Bali 1986 © PJ Croft 2020

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From Crikey.com.au today: Emirates check in According to a tipster, the foreign staff sacked by Emirates in Dubai midyear are having a very tough time leaving the United Arab Emirates by the deadlines set by the government-owned airline.

Under UAE law, the staff must sell up all their assets — and it’s not exactly a seller’s market: if they can’t settle their debts, they are threatened with jail. The UAE has no bankruptcy laws, so anyone who misses car or credit card repayments, or defaults on their mortgage is at serious risk. It’s why the country has, for example, thousands of abandoned luxury cars.

According to our tipster, Emirates is not helping with their departures. Nor, they say, does the Australian government seem particularly interested in helping these people get home.

It’s a pity people go there just to earn the big money, then find themselves in this kind of trouble. What a nasty place where you can go to jail for such minor reasons and be denied legal or consular aid. Nasty people. Stay away!

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OK, now I can go out. I need a big sink plunger and a new sink P trap. My bathroom basin has been clogged (slow draining) for ages and I’ve removed the existing plastic P trap to clear it. But the seal is damaged and I can’t get it to re-seal. It’s cheaper and quicker to buy a new one.

But, Oh my legs!! I’m trying to work way low down under the bench and my muscles, the ones I’ve got left, are protesting loudly. I hate getting old.

Bunker bulldust day 173

COVID Confusion?

Aaah, lovely day with warm air outside, about 21deg. Rain is forecast for later, though, but my washing is done and dry so rain all you like, Mr Weatherman.

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I mentioned The Online Photographer, Mike Johnson’s web log yesterday, and how he writes a very personal story at times such that I feel I’ve got to know him, almost as a friend, even though we’ve never met and never will.

I did what I promised, increased my Patreon monthly donation (to US$8) and it seems many others did too as he’s written a very sincere thanks today. He admits to a bit of depression. That’s OK, I’d say most of us, me included, feel that way at times and especially now that we don’t meet face-to-face with friends so much.

Personally, I’ve lived alone for so long that this is nothing much different. I regularly go a week without speaking to anyone except the checkout lady at the supermarket. Visiting the doctor or the pharmacy is a social occasion for me. I can fully understand how it must be for a normally gregarious person, though.

Mike lives alone too, in a semi rural area, but he has two dogs which would help. I’ve thought a lot about getting another dog but as much as I remember the good times, I also remember the chewed furniture, the dog hair, the smell in the house, the dog poop on the lawn, the flies it brought, the vet costs, the barking, the hassles while walking and so on. I went through some rough times with my dogs. I miss ’em, but I don’t miss the hassles. If I had my partner here to share things with it would be different. Not much chance of that for a good while yet, if ever.

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I’m ploughing on with the photo enhancements. When you do them, a copy is stored on the MyHeritage website servers too, presumably so that photos of relatives can be added to your family tree. But I got a warning that I was running out of room so I deleted almost all of them. I have my copies here, I don’t need them stored for me.

Some recent work:

1962 Roy Reynolds, Jim Weston, Me at “the Hut”, Northam.
1969 Aunt Marion, Me, Grandma Croft, Dad, Mum, at Maxine’s wedding.
A Bali girl 1980. I shot this on film with a 135mm lens and it was always a bit too unsharp. Now it’s much better. Isn’t she beautiful!
Comparison. 1994.
1996 in Jakarta.
1992 in Japan.
1983 in Bali.
1960s Mum.
2001 in my second year of retirement. I gained 10Kg in the first year!
March 1996 Dad, Maxine, Mum 3 months before she died.

I’ve also realised that you can put the enhanced photo through again if the first level is not enough:

It can’t work miracles but my face is much better and that’s what counts 😉

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Hmmm, iiNet has sent me a new SIM card for my phone and is offering waiver of two months fees if I register and use it. WHY? There must be a catch somewhere in the terms and conditions. Trouble is, although I have a letter with the new T&Cs, I don’t have the old ones to compare with. I can’t see anything bad but… I’ll let the thing sit here for a few weeks while I make up my mind but I’ll give in sooner or later.

I hope registering this one doesn’t stop the old SIM card working because I do have two phones. The other one is a 2014 cheapie but I dropped my current phone, a OnePlus 3T a few nights ago onto my hard tiled floor and it was deaded for a while. I was starting to worry, but then I banged it on the table and it worked again. Phew! I’m happy with it and I don’t want to have to buy a new one.

Actually, I have household insurance. Dropping a phone might be covered. Must check it out.

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Slowly, slowly does it. I’ve lifted my two printers off the other desk and now I can clean it and move it a bit to the left, as I’ve wanted to for a while.

The old Canon goes to the tip (what a waste, working except for a partly blocked yellow nozzle, can’t give it away), and now I can get the big A3+ Epson R2880 out into the strong light so I can find why it won’t feed the paper properly. I’d really like to replace it as it’s more than 10 years old, but what do I do with it? To the tip, too? What a pity that would be. Electronics waste is a problem.

Likewise with all those cameras I mentioned yesterday. Many of them I never use, but they’re almost worthless. They still work and cost nothing to run, but… what do I do with them?

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I mentioned Hong Kong yesterday too, and how I’m glad I’ve been there (twice) but I’ll never go again. Likewise with the Chinese mainland.
I’ve seen Shanghai:

Shanghai 2014 © PJ Croft 2020
Shanghai 2014

And Beijing:

Beijing 2014 © PJ Croft 2020
The Wall – no, I didn’t go up – too cold and windy! © PJ Croft 2020

But I’ll never go back there, and neither will anyone else from the West if they have any sense, because Xi Jin Ping is showing the true colours of this Communist military dictatorship. The mask is off and the fangs are showing.

What’s the motivation of this guy? It seems to be simply the accumulation of power both to himself (making himself chairman for life?!) and for China. He wants China to be number 1 in the world.

But you can’t eat power. It’s not something you can wear to parties and show off. If you make deadly enemies of the rest of the world in the process, is that going to make you feel better? I suppose for him it will.

In the case of Hong Kong he’s killed its status as the financial powerhouse of Asia. Maybe not completely yet, but it would be a brave Western country which set up there now. I think Hong Kong is going to go into a quite fast decline as people who value their freedom leave. So how does that benefit mainland China?

Dictator Xi must realise that he hasn’t got a friend in the world, except perhaps for Russia, Vlad the Poisoner Putin, and a smattering of third rate eastern European dictatorships like Belarus and Kazakhstan. When China is the world’s biggest economy, so what? Without friends, what have you got?

China is showing itself to be a naked military/communist dictatorship, liars, thieves, criminals who steal the West’s ideas and intellectual property, bullies, oppressors, torturers, bad people to be avoided. A shameful pariah in the world. How would I feel if I were a Chinese citizen and knew that my country was reviled throughout the rest of the world?

I’ve been there, but I will never, ever go again.

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I’ve been watching “Further Back in Time for Dinner” on the ABC. It’s a show where each episode takes a modern family back to the way people lived in the past.

The first series covered the decades from 1950 to the present and I enjoyed it because it was all very familiar.

This new series covers the decades from 1900-1910 and last night, 1910-1920. There will be an episode for each decade up to 1950.

The main thing I’m getting is how familiar it is and how similar it is to the way we lived in the 1950s. They had an outside dunny – so did we. There was no such thing as toilet paper in rolls – you used torn sheets of newspaper – I remember that. There was no electricity in 1900-1910. We only had a 32V DC generator at the “brown house”, the Bruce Rock farm. If Dad didn’t start it for any reason, then there was no power. But we had almost no electrical appliances anyway so it didn’t matter. We had a radio and I think we might have had an early barrel vacuum cleaner, and a Mixmaster, but that was about it. The stoves burned wood and we toasted over the coals with a toasting fork. All cooking was done on the stove or in the oven. Hot water? I can’t remember exactly but I think we had either a kerosene water heater or a wood burning one.

And the food? It was almost always meat, sheep meat, chops, roast mutton, sometimes beef but being a wheat and sheep farm, the only beef cattle we had was a cow or two. As I said, chicken was a once a year delicacy at Xmas. A fridge? I think we had a kerosene burning one, but I well remember the ice box when we moved to Rockingham in 1959. There used to be an ice man who brought big 400x300x200mm blocks of dripping wet ice covered in a hessian bag from his truck using big tongs.

My point is, for the first couple of decades of my life, we lived much as they did in the early decades of last century. Progress was very slow. We had a car but to start it, you had to use a crank handle.

I’m enjoying this show.

Bunker bulldust day 172

KL railway station 1990. © PJ Croft 2020

Errrgh, it’s been all cloudy again, and cool. Not too bad now (3.15pm). Where’s our Spring gone? I saw a prediction for 27deg next Sunday, but this morning they’d dialled it back to 24deg. Even so, I gotta have that!

(I’ve just corrected the day number. It’s getting a bit confusing.)

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Hong Kong 27 Oct 2014. I’m glad I’ve been there because it’s not a tourism destination any longer.

I don’t know what’s happening but three of the photography blogs I read have closed recently. What a shame! The photography on one, in particular, Ming Thein, is really good, really different, inspiring for me. It shows the beauty and design in everyday scenes, objects, buildings that we miss. I often read this to train my eye, to absorb his style, even to copy at times, I must admit.

He’s a Malaysian Chinese guy working mostly in KL but travels a lot and holds field courses, a bit too expensive for me.

Another I read almost daily up to now is Visual Science Lab. Despite the name, it’s not science, it’s largely about a guy called Kirk Tuck in Austin, Texas and his work as a pro photographer. Much of his shooting is in a theatre and there are many fine portraits of actors and dancers. There’s a lot of gear talk as well, and a lot about what it’s like to live in Austin during these strange lockdown times.

He’s a prolific writer – almost too verbose some days, but I’ve been reading for many years. He stopped once before, but came back, but now he says he’s stopping for good. It’s a pity.

The other one is Imaging Resource https://www.imaging-resource.com/ They almost stopped a few months ago but seem to have been rescued, for how long I don’t know.

The main blog I read every day without fail is The Online Photographer written by Mike Johnson in the Finger Lakes region of New York State, USA. He’s a former magazine writer and editor who went through some very lean years after the magazine business became unprofitable but has found a niche in this blog. He writes in a very personal style and from the email exchanges we’ve had in the past decade, I almost feel I know him. He’s had some big battles in his life but seems to have turned a corner some years ago.

He wrote a piece earlier this year about plant based eating that inspires me. He’s lost a lot of weight, has much more energy and sleeps a lot better. I could do with some of that. I recommend reading: Diet Experiment Update I’m inspired to follow his advice, although, because he had a drinking problem, he doesn’t drink alcohol. That’s my downfall – the thought of giving up my modest intake of fine beer and wine is almost unthinkable.

The good news, however, is that Mike says he’s not going to join the blogging retirees, he’ll continue, which pleases me greatly. I feel grateful enough to be obligated so I make a monthly Patreon contribution to keep him going. If you use something, you should pay for it.

The main thrust of his recent article is that photography is almost dying. The damned camera phone has almost taken over – no-one wants to carry a serious camera any more and manufacturers are closing down. Only 25 years ago there were around 20 makers of serious equipment, but one by one they’ve given up so that Nikon, Canon, Fuji, Sony, Panasonic, Pentax and Leica are the only survivors. Olympus has recently announced they have sold their camera business to an outside company, with an uncertain future.

The cost of cameras has risen markedly too. Most new cameras from the big five are US$2,000 upwards and that’s just for the body. You’ll need to spend nearly another $1,000 for a lens. (Not all are this price, but the good ones are.) Point and shoots like this Canon are almost gone. It’s quite depressing.

On the other hand, I could be using one of my ten digital cameras!
Olympus OM-D E-M1
Olympus E-PL2
Olympus E-PL3
Pentax K-5
Sony RX-10
Nikon P950
Fuji S100fs
Sigma DP2
Panasonic FZ1000
Panasonic FZ30
and maybe another one or two I’ve forgotten! Plus my phone and tablet cameras, which are not half bad.

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I used the word spud for potato yesterday and it set me wondering, where does that come from? The Etymology Dictionary says it’s –
Mid 15th century – small or poor knife, probably from Danish spyd, … and so on. Then it says – that of “potato” is first recorded 1845 in New Zealand English.

New Zealand English? How odd. I didn’t know there was such a thing. This Etymology Dictionary is very good for finding where words come from. I use it a lot.

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This is Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions from 2000 to 2018.

Note the almost unrelenting upward trend except for the period between 2012 – 14 when the Labor government had a tax on emissions. Surprise, surprise, industry didn’t want to pay, so they reduced their emissions.

Then Tony Abbott came along and campaigned on the word TAX. He didn’t care what it was for or what effect it was having, all he saw was the chance to win the electorate over with his campaign of lies, and when he won, he removed the tax. Look what happened – emissions went up again, sharply.

This is the guy who says “Climate change is crap.”

From The Guardian: “Abbott broke almost every election promise he made, except his promise to remove the carbon tax that was actually working to reduce Australia’s CO2 emissions.” See above.

He only lasted two years as PM before his own colleagues saw what an idiot he is and replaced him with “Turncoat” Turnbull.

Now the idiotic UK Conservative government under Boris Johnson has appointed him as their Special Trade Envoy. He wasn’t good enough in this country – he lost his seat in the last election – but he’s good enough for Boris.

It’s a good match: they are both blatant liars and fools. It means that Abbott will now be representing the British government in free trade talks with the Australian government. Where are his loyalties? We don’t know. In my view, his loyalties will flow to whoever scratches his back. He’s a traitor and a fool. Good luck Boris and you Poms.

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I’d better get back to writing about less contentious subjects – I feel my hackles have risen too much.

I was chatting with my lawnmower man this morning and it seems I may have a possible buyer for the Honda MDX. He sees it in the garage and trusts me to tell him its history and condition. I have a few things to fix on it first, mainly the throttle position sensor (maybe 1 hour’s work), the RH passenger door lock mechanism, the radio antenna bad connection and fitting a reversing camera that I bought for it, since the Pioneer AV radio can take a camera input.

I have all the parts. All these are relatively small jobs but fiddly, with lots of finger pains involved. Best in warmer weather.

And a bit more…

Bird brains.

One of the headlines in The Guardian yesterday or thereabouts is how stupid Boris Johnson is. From their editorial a couple of weeks ago –

Mr Johnson’s record through the pandemic remains consistent only in its slovenliness.

And today:

In the UK, few will forget this year’s A-level algorithm. A-levels are key exams for 18-year olds; they make or break college offers. COVID-19 canceled them. Teachers were asked what each pupil would have scored. But the government fed these numbers into an algorithm alongside the school’s past performance. Result: 40 percent of all teacher estimates were downgraded, which nixed college for high-achieving kids in disadvantaged areas. Boris Johnson backed down, eventually, blaming a “mutant algorithm.” Still, even a former colleague of the prime minister thinks the A-level fiasco may torpedo his re-election chances.

The British people are starting to wake up to the fact that they’ve elected someone who is plain incompetent. He was a proven liar throughout his career, yet people believed him! Why on earth did you vote for him, then?

This week the British government has appointed our former PM Tony Abbott as their Senior Trade Commissioner (he was born in London so is a UK citizen). That just proves their stupidity. Abbott is known for his homophobia, his anti-same sex marriage views and his dismissal of climate science. He started appointing Australian “knights” without even consulting his own cabinet colleagues. The few who were appointed are now left in limbo, with an honour not recognised by anyone (Peter Cosgrove, what were you thinking when you accepted it??? And when he did this, it devalued our former highest Australian honour, the AC. Stupid!).

If you want a laugh, the Gadfly column of the Saturday Paper is excellent today:

Concerns have been expressed that Abbott, who was born in Britain before tragically relocating to Australia, will not be operating in Australia’s best interests. In fairness to Abbott, that is entirely consistent with his tenure as prime minister, when he was operating in Rupert Murdoch’s best interests.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison described Abbott’s appointment as a “good hire”, although take that with a grain of salt as he’s the man who hired Scott Cam as Australia’s “national careers ambassador”. Abbott has made no official comment on his appointment but sources close to him tell us the former PM’s eventual statement will involve a series of long pauses and something about shirtfronting trade barriers.

It makes you want to cry. The stupidity, the dispensing of patronage. In Britain, about GBP12,500 buys you a seat in the House of Lords and the title of Lord. It stinks of corruption, yet it happens. I despair.