Photos in Kyoto

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In the papers at the moment is news from Kyoto: photography is to be banned in Gion, except for the main traffic street. Why? Because the pressure of tourism is causing distress to the geishas and maikos on their way to and from work.

What a sorry state of affairs. Gion is magic, one of the most photo-rich areas I’ve ever been in. This is bad news indeed, both from the geishas’ and the photographers’ viewpoint. Reading between the lines, it appears that the craze to have selfies leads to too many people rushing up to the ladies and sticking their camera in front and their face beside the geisha and snapping shots without asking or getting permission. It’s another version of tourists being banned from some places in Spain and Italy. The crowds have become too thick, both in the number and intelligence senses.

Well lucky me, because I spent four days in Kyoto in October 1992, when it was blissfully tourist free except for me most of the time. I got my geisha shot:

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It’s not very artistic but I had little time to get the shot. There was no autofocus in those days, not on my camera anyway. I got several shots of elegantly kimono-clad ladies, but they are not geishas.

By chance I had read a book before I went, The Geisha and the Monk by the Indian travel writer Pico Iyer. I recommend it if you think you may go. It describes the life of a young woman who aspires to become a geisha and her life in and around the streets of the Gion area shown on the right, below:

Kyoto aerial view

I stayed in a ryokan I had booked before leaving Perth, located just to the right several blocks from the river and within easy walking distance from Gion. Boy, I did some walking in those days. I didn’t go as far as the Imperial Palace but I covered most of the foreground area on foot, including more on the right.

Click on the top left image below to start a slide show.

 

An auspicious day

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Bull in a China Shot      © PJ Croft 2014, 2019

I couldn’t resist that caption. I have to admit, that photo was taken five years ago on a cruise ship entering Hong Kong, but I haven’t changed a bit. Slimmed down a little, maybe… ? Hah.

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The title is there because this is October 29th, auspicious for three things. First, it’s Dad’s birthday – he would have been 97 today. Happy birthday Dad, you’re never forgotten.

Second, it’s 20 years today that I finished work at Channel 7. It was a Friday in 1999 and because it was my day off, I actually finished work the day before, but anyway. It was quite an emotional day. I’d been there 33 years except for a break in 1974 and you can’t help feeling a part of the show. Along with my work colleagues, I put a lot into building and operating that station. I must write about it one day.

The fact is that we, the old guard of the station, are still together although the ranks are thinning a bit. One former employee has made it his life’s work since retiring to collect and web-publish all the photos and memorabilia he can get his hands on, for all the stations, ABW2, TVW7, STW9 and TEN10. He’s branched out into radio stations and cinema, and documenting the old buildings of Perth. Unfortunately, the property developers care nothing for the history and architecture and demolish the old buildings as fast as they can. The result is the concrete, glass, stainless steel, featureless wind-tunnels that we have today. Nearly all the interesting buildings are dust now, but Ken is doing a great job keeping the memories. http://www.watvhistory.com

The third reason is that on this same day in 1999, I made my first visit to the North Beach Rugby Club. I was invited by another Ch.7 guy who was a member on the promise of a good night, and wow, he was right. I was hooked. For privacy reasons I can’t post the photos I took but it was the start of twelve years of membership and many great memories.

So the 29/10 of each year brings back a lot of memories, all good.

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Twenty years retired! Who’d a-thunk it? I’ve had no trouble not working. Whenever I feel the urge to work coming on, I lie down until it passes. That’s from a business card I saw once.

No, I’ve got a million things to do, hundreds of books to read, movies and TV shows to watch, music to listen to to keep me going until that final knock on the door.

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One item comes from that awful finding of 39 dead people in the refrigerated truck in England.

In my 1974 bus tour of Europe, our first port of call was Zeebrugge in Belgium, where we camped for the night. Someone, one of the guides I assume, pronounced it Zee-broozje (-zhu) and for years afterwards, that’s how it stuck in my head. Dad picked me up on it when I got back in December ’74, but his pronunciation didn’t stick with me. In fact, until last week, I can not ever remember hearing it pronounced by an authoritative voice.

But now I have. On the news video reports, both the British announcer and a Belgian source said “Zay-broogger”. So that’s settled then. It’s only taken 45 years. Dawg, is it that long?!

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I admit I’m addicted to Wish. That’s the Chinese web site which sells cheap little items but they are so useful to me that I trawl it endlessly. Things like this:

This is going to get me going on my model railway at last, I think. I’m itching to start putting some of these things to use. It’s not just electronic bits, there are hundreds of useful things for cars, the house, clothing (for small Asian people) and so on. I’ve sent six orders for up to 25 items each order. The post office is being deluged with tiny parcels from China.

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One item I bought is a watch:

Watch

It’s similar to this except it has a leather strap. Price? AUD$2.46 plus $2.50 postage.

It arrived yesterday and looks very nice. I set the main time and went to set the small dials. Huh? These buttons are stiff. Then I realised, the small dials are just painted on, they don’t do anything and the buttons are just for show! The date works, though.

Still, for $5 who cares, it looks very nice and no-one would know.

Summer is a’comin’

 

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Cute, eh?   © PJ Croft 2019

Another gap with no posts. Gee, I live an exciting life. Too busy climbing mountains and flying jets. Ho ho.

No, I’m back to having trouble with insomnia again. I’m pretty sure I know why, it’s a change of habit, using my laptop at the table while watching TV, instead of shutting down and sitting on the couch to TV watch. It’s become a habit, so I have to break it.

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My kitchen sink mixer tap has been leaking slowly ever since I’ve been in this house and I think it’s time I did something about it. Don’t want to rush into things, you understand. Mostly the leak just runs down the sink, but some water has leaked in the cupboard underneath and er, swelled the chipboard. Too bad, it’s out of sight and doesn’t cause any problem.

I’ve been thinking and looking for some time but I’ve been a bit shell-shocked by the price of good mixer taps so it’s always been back-shelfed.

Anyway, browsing the Wish website yesterday, I saw this:

Funny, I thought, funny. I saw the exact same thing in Aldi yesterday. The Wish price was A$46.72 + $17.09 postage. I couldn’t remember Aldi’s price but I thought it must be over $100. I nearly ordered from Wish, but went back to Aldi today to check. Shazzam! $49.99 so I bought it. It’s made in China anyway.

Now to install it. I don’t think I could contort myself enough to get up under the sink, so I think I’ll call a local guy who advertises for casual work.

Speaking of which, I tried to get at the radio antenna in the roof of Honda-san today. I removed the interior light from the rear roof lining and tried to pull the lining down far enough to see. Ugh! It’s hard. I drew blood on the back of my hand. I’ll have to remove some more trim first, but it’s not designed to be removed easily. My back and legs protested at my contortions and I had to give up after a while. I need a young guy to help.

I need to remove the left rear C-pillar trim anyway to run the wires for a reversing camera I’ve bought. It’s very neat – so as to avoid ripping the floor channels up to run a coaxial video cable from the rear tailgate to the radio in the front, I bought a wi-fi transmitter and receiver to go with the camera. Video from camera goes to wi-fi transmitter in the tailgate, plus a wire from the left reversing light, up the C-pillar across to the tailgate and thence to power the wi-fi Tx. So the camera only comes on when you’re in reverse gear. Clever.

The wi-fi receiver goes behind the radio, permanently powered, and its video output goes into the input to the radio/DVD display unit. That automatically switches to rear view when it gets a signal from the rear camera. Ain’t wi-fi wonderful.

Total cost – about $40. Plus my time and labour fitting it all.  I believe professional shops charge over $200 to do this job.

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I forgot to mention last time that I’ve got a willy wagtail pair in a nest built on the garage door runner in my garage. The runner doesn’t move but they must feel the rumble through it when the door opens and closes. It doesn’t bother them unduly.

I must say they’ve been sitting on that nest for weeks now and I still don’t hear any tiny chirps. I hope things are OK. I should get the ladder and have a look, but… no. Papa wagtail gets a bit agitated if I go too close, but I think he recognises me by now. The songs they produce are fantastic. They are always fighting off the crows that come around my roof. Successfully, I think, as I don’t see any crows at the back of the house where the nest is. Mr Willy sits on my back fence quite a lot.

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More to write, but I’m too tired. Next time.

I Wish

Smiling dog

From an article in The Guardian about whether pets have emotions. Cute, eh?

A whole month without a post, sorry. I’ve been a bit busy. I, justifiably, thought that things had turned bad for me, but they have turned out OK after all. A four day visit from my friend turned into an 11 day stay, and a very pleasant one, so alles gut. It takes all my attention, though.

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The title refers to my latest time-thief. Have you discovered the Chinese site www.wish.com? Holy moley, it’s like Aladdin’s Cave, an endless display of small items which seem to answer all the needs you didn’t know you had. There’s everything from rolls of special sticky tape to power tools to machinery to clothing to sex toys and everything in between. And for some reason, a lot of the items are free, “Just pay postage”. I don’t know why, unless it’s just to lure you in, but as long as you keep an eye on your shopping cart, it seems to be true. Sometimes the price in the cart mysteriously changes, but if you check before you checkout, it’s OK.

The spout is free, the multimeter is $1. I’ve ordered one of those.

I started out with a smallish order, two items totalling about $50 as a test. They arrived OK, so I placed another order for 21 items totalling about $120 and they’ve all arrived OK. I’m addicted now. Mainly I’m ordering electronic components and small assemblies like power supplies for my future model railway (yeah, well…) but I’ve also bought a few kitchen gadgets and things for the cars. Most prices are around $2.50 to $20, all shown in AUD including GST too. The postage adds nearly as much at times, but it’s not too expensive. They arrive pretty quickly, around 3-4 weeks, and the PO doesn’t seem worried as they’re not opened for inspection. Some things would be of dubious legality, such as high power lasers, but I avoid those.

The microphone is $15 (I’ve ordered one) and the mini saw discs are $3.94 for the set. I think I’ll buy those right now before I forget.

bag 4437plus

 

I want this bag, but it’s $44 plus $21 postage. It keeps getting dropped from my list. Next time.

And they learn English very well: 5d62037501baae056fa1635e-1-large

I did buy a 256GB micro-SD card – seems OK on first check. It’s Huawei brand, $16.50.

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The costs of the Verada are mounting. I paid $1250 for it, but it’s had new brakes (discs and pads), $720, and a new exhaust, $595 so far. Total $2565.

The battery failed last week, so that was another $199. I’ve realised that the front shock absorbers need replacing (it gets into a resonant vibration), and at least one of the engine mounts is damaged. Those will be big$. The roof lining needs fixing (about $300). And I paid $75 for a second-hand tail light assembly and $90 for a new RH driving light. A new radio power antenna has cost about $60 so far. It has the beginnings of oil leaks from the rocker covers, so that will cost at least $500 to fix. Add about $750 annual licence costs plus 3rd party insurance and Wow! A cheap car is not so cheap after all. It makes me wonder whether I could get away with no car. No, don’t be silly.

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Another addiction is cashews from Coles. We all know and love cashews, don’t we, but these are roasted with their skin left on, and with a light salt flavour in the skins. YUM! I’ve eaten so many that I’ve almost done the impossible, made myself sick of them. Not quite, but…  They’re in the bulk nuts section.

 

Debunking

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Ain’t that nice? Don’t know where it is.

There’s been a fair bit of bullshite being spread around by people like Alan Jones and Malcolm Roberts about climate change and global heating recently.

Jones, with no scientific qualifications, tried to tell us that CO2 comprises only about 0,04% of the atmosphere and since Australia only produces a bee’s bucket of CO2, then we couldn’t possibly be responsible for any global warming at all.

Roberts, that stupid member of the crazy One Nation Party, and a graduate engineer who should know better, also tried to use statistics to throw doubt. He also said it’s a conspiracy by all the world’s climate scientists, all 10,000 or more of them, to skew the statistics and has said that the Australian Bureau of Meteorology is in a plot with NASA to spread false information and data.

Anyway, the reason I mention all this is that all these crackpot theories and allegations are covered in this article:  Here Are Five of The Most Common Climate Change Misconceptions, Debunked from http://www.sciencealert.com, which I find to be a better than average science site (i.e. more science, less showbiz).

I also found this a few years ago. It sets things out very clearly:

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I’ve had to turn it on its side as it’s quite big. Right Click on it and choose View Image to see it clearly.

What is it about the Liberal Party that makes it seem as if they are a startled kangaroo in the headlights, unable to move either way?

It’s two things: fear, and resistance to change. These are actually linked, but essentially the climate science deniers such as former PM Abbott and current Minister for Drought and Natural Disasters (whatever!), David Littleproud, don’t understand science but mainly, they fear what it means and what they need to do. It’s easier for them to resist any change.

Yet this is despite clear evidence and despite dire warnings of the harm it is going to do to the future generations, their children and grandchildren. It’s astounding. They seem to be just closing their ears and refusing to think clearly. Typical symptoms of panic.

Of course, there’s the other argument, that they’re being “rewarded” by Big Coal and Big Petroleum. But can anyone be so venal as to threaten their children’s future for dollars now, when they’re in no position to enjoy their wealth? I think the answer is yes, but it’s hard to grasp.

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Coincidences again. This morning I read an article in The Guardian which mentioned an academic named Sofia Izquierdo Sanchez. I have never in my life heard that middle name before. Yet the surname of the French woman Wanda who bought my Magna car a couple of weeks ago was Izquierdo. How about that? They keep on comin’.

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I’m going on a long drive to Singleton tomorrow (don’t know where it is? Near Mandurah) to buy a car “entertainment unit” I found on Facebook Market.AVH-X3700DAB_blue_front_top

I intend this for Vera, for three reasons: 1. its CD/radio has CDs stuck in it that won’t eject; 2. this new radio has DAB+ reception; 3. because I can fit a reversing camera to feed into it. Once you’ve used one, you realise how useful they are, for not much money.

It’s advertised as near new in box for about half the RRP. I’ll have to take it on trust, though, as I can’t try it out on the kitchen table.

 

The Meaning of Life

General relativity

Einstein’s gravitational equation, just an illustration.

 

(-80538738812075974)^3 + (80435758145817515)^3 + (12602123297335631)^3 = 42

There it is, ladies and gentlemen, the definitive answer to that famous question, what is the meaning of life? This equation comes from the web site www.livescience.com and is the answer to the Diophantine equation x^3 + y^3 + z^3 = k, where k in this case is 42.

Don’t feel bad if you didn’t immediately know the required numbers for x, y and z. It only took a worldwide network of around 500,000 home PCs around the globe working as a crowdsourced supercomputer and 1 million hours of processing time, and it finally came up with those numbers. I should add that 33 was one other number that had defied solution until recently.

This is mind boggling, a brute force solution to something that had defied solution for centuries. It’s not an elegant way of solving things, but “it does the job”.

We really have reached the age of advanced technology, or the very start of it, where massive computing resources are linked together worldwide via the internet to store incredible amounts of knowledge (e.g. Wikipedia) and provide massive parallel computing.

In addition, metals and materials technology and advanced manufacturing are providing us with beautifully designed products which are ultra reliable, yet very reasonably priced. I’m loving it.

I realise there are some problems with these products (they’re not all reliable, and they usually don’t bio-degrade) but that’s a separate issue. If you think about it, at the rate technology is advancing, do you really, desperately want your TV or toaster or laptop to last more than five years?

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Speaking of computing power:Type exampleI use a Photoshop-equivalent program called Affinity Photo. A few weeks ago I was just fiddling around to learn it and randomly typed these letters as plain text. Then I converted them all to a nice font, broke them apart so I could manipulate each letter individually, and finally applied an overall metallic effect. Neat, eh? My point is that this takes graphics and computing power that we just didn’t have 15 years ago, yet now I can do it in real time with no lag. Wow.

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Two points about politics today:

  1. The former Chinese citizen Gladys Liu, now an Australian citizen and a member of Federal parliament, has been revealed to have been a member of Chinese government organisations before her election, and perhaps subsequently. She at first denied it, but was shown to be lying, then protests her allegiance to Australia, but refuses to criticise China’s annexation and militarisation  of the South China Sea.
    It’s the same as the former senator elected as a member of Clive Palmer’s party a few years ago. He also said that China has the right to shoot at Australian military ships or aircraft if they go too close to those islands. Where was his loyalty? He was an Australian citizen, elected to our Senate, yet he was taking China’s side. To me that was treason.
    My point is that China can NOT be trusted. They lie as if it doesn’t matter (look at what they are telling their people about the Hong Kong riots). They break international law as if there is no law, then defy the courts. They steal, they spy, they takes our citizens prisoner, they run secret trials where the prisoner is denied a lawyer.

    China is a renegade country which cannot be trusted in any sphere. Ms Liu can protest her innocence but I can’t believe her. She lied at the start this morning, so how can she be trusted. Oh, I forgot, she’s a member of the Liberal Party, and the Liberals always lie to you.

     

  2. The Minister for the Environment David Littleproud, and the four other Liberal ministers with portfolios in similar fields, have all said they don’t accept that global heating is caused by man. This is unbelievable. Even at this late stage, when we’ve got less than 12 years to get things reasonably right in terms of temperature rise and CO2 emissions, we are STILL governed by climate science deniers!

    If you voted Liberal in the 18 May election, is this OK with you? Because you’ve put them back in power. And after all these years, this Liberal government STILL does not have a climate change policy framework. Their attitude is to sit on their hands and deny the evidence.
    We have a government of fools, and those who voted for them last May are guilty of causing me, us, actual harm. I may sue.

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A sad day

Pinnaroo

Part of Pinnaroo Memorial Park

I’ve just got home from the burial ceremony of an old friend from Channel Seven and later, Les Beck. He died last week from a massive stroke and was on life support in hospital, but he had told his family that he wanted them to withdraw support if it came to it, and so he died. He was 72, so we were the same age. Makes you think.

I’d known Les for many years, from sometime in the ’70s, I think, when he started at Channel 7, up to 1999 when I left and we remained friends in the years since. He visited me out here several times and helped me with my OSMO gimbal camera. In the usual way, time drifted on and I thought, “I must give Les a call.” But I didn’t, and now it’s too late. There’s a lesson there. He did a demo flight of his drone for me in the park near my house (it’s silent). There’s a shot of Les and me at the end:

He was notable for his calm manner and ready wit in crises at work. No matter how serious the problem, he always managed to smile and crack a small joke.

There’s a joke whereby a guy has jumped from the roof of a tall building. People notice him falling past the windows and call out, “Hey, how are you going?” The falling guy answers, “OK so faaaaar……”  That was Les’s standard reply if you asked him how he was. Unfortunately, his luck ran out.

He had rheumatic fever when he was a child and therefore had a weak heart. It caused a crisis in the late ’80s and he had to have a transplant of a pig’s valve. It worked very well, but it left him with a mechanical click sound on every heartbeat. He was proud to show it off to us in quiet periods at work, with a big cheery grin. Always joking was our Les.

I wonder how many know that his surname actually used to  be Beeck, in the Dutch style, and we called him Beeky or Beaky then. But he grew tired of explaining the spelling and that the pronunciation was actually Beck, despite the double e, and changed his name to Beck. We didn’t want to call him Becky, so Beeky it remained.

I also used to call him Lessss, after a character in WKRP Cincinatti, a crazy funny show about a US radio station. One of the sales guys in the show was called Les (pronounced Lessss in the American way) Nessman. So to me, Les was always Lessss.  RIP Lessss.

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That was my first time at Pinnaroo, which I’m a bit ashamed of because I haven’t attended many funerals. It’s a measure of how good a friend he was that I made the effort for this one.

I also joked a little that it was my induction course because that’s where I want to be when I go. Take note.

The funeral was conducted by another old Channel 7 guy, Harvey Deegan, who used to be a sports and racing commentator. We remembered each other and had a little chat.

It was a secular, non-religious service mainly, although God got a few mentions. Being an atheist, my service should remain God free, please, although mention him if you will. And maybe I’d better write some notes for anyone who thinks they want to read my eulogy.

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It’s a very welcome break with winter today, 31C forecast and it feels like it. I wished I’d worn a hat even at 9.30am at the service.

My garden is doing nicely. My kangaroo paw was looking a bit wilted in the cold weather a couple of months ago, but almost without me noticing, look at it now!

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My West Indian lime tree, after about five years of growth, is now producing fruit and flowers.

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Only small buds at the moment.

I’ve had about six limes from it so far, and although small, they are very juicy. But the spines on the branches make gathering them hazardous.

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I’m off to the doctor’s surgery in 20 mins. I’ve been summoned to take part in an osteoporosis survey. Crumbs, I’ve fallen so many times in the past 20 years, especially in Bali with their giant steps, but never with any problems. I’ve never broken a bone in my life and I don’t feel in any danger. 🙂