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 gain, 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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The Minister for Border Protection, Peter Dutton MHR, is a murderer, a torturer, an abuser of children and an abuser of human rights. He is a person of low moral character. He is a liar and is not a person who can be trusted.

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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.

Bunker bulldust day 169

Grandma Doris Croft at a picnic, 1930s? Note the tinned butter (round tin, bit hard to see).

I’m starting to lose track of the day number. It might be day 170 but I’d have to do a count and it doesn’t matter enough. Anyway, greetings to my great readers. It’s a 7.5Byoot day here, maybe even 8Byoots, clear blue sky, almost no wind, 21C. Lovely. Spring is in the air.

I’ve been out the back, raking up all the fallen limes from my tree. It took five years to start fruiting, and I was beginning to wonder if it wouldn’t, but now I can’t use them fast enough. They’re going bad in the bowl and I’m having to throw them out. I’ve juiced quite a few and frozen the juice as ice blocks, but it’s very sour. I’ve also halved them and frozen a bagfull, but it’s just as easy to use a fresh one. I’ve offered them to a few people but I can’t get any takers. I suppose I could put a box on my front wall and invite people to take free limes. Yes, I’ll do that.

I’ve also been spreading potting mix and compost on the garden beds, prior to planting some vegetable seeds. I bought some on-line back in April when the craze was on and they took more than a month to arrive (from the Perth hills area) as demand was so strong. I haven’t planted them yet, and I found many packets of the more common ones in Aldi yesterday. Must get to it. Need more compost.

I’m finding my Breville Air Fryer Oven excellent for roasting veges. A couple of nights ago, I roasted a $5 aluminium tray-full and put two chicken sausages on top too. Plus two small spuds sliced up. I had to turn the sausages and give it a little longer, but it worked a treat. I’ve kept the tray, so I’ll do more tonight.

I’ll never starve! My fridge is packed with all kinds of food. I see delicious prepared meals (not pre-prepared!) and I can’t resist. I’m the scavenger, too. Anything that’s near or past use-by date is for me. I figure it helps the shops get rid of their doubtful stock, as well as helping my budget.

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I had the pre-paid funeral lady here on Thursday. Phwooaaar, she was a Glasgow Scot, maybe 50, very pretty and with pure white hair, cut fairly short. Wow, I was smitten. That Scottish accent. I wish I spoke like that.

But she was straight down to business, and if I wandered into chatting, she quickly brought me back to the subject. No time for socialising with her.

Unfortunately, I told her up-front, after she showed me their prices, that it was more than double the amount I’ve seen on other websites. She showed me their barebones offer, but even that was $1,000 higher. She left me their quote but I doubt I’ll be using that company.

When I started looking, I found a company that’s local (Malaga – in Perth, not Spain) and sounded OK, but despite leaving my details and two requests on their website a couple of months apart for them to contact me, they never have. Obviously, they don’t monitor their website. I figure if they can’t do that, what will they do when my time comes?

I’ll just have to contact this cheaper company and compare detail by detail, component by component. I don’t want frills or a full chapel service. All I want is a cremation (by law, you have to have a coffin) and a space at Pinnaroo for a gathering if people want to come. I know a funeral celebrant, a guy I used to work with, Harvey Deegan. I was surprised that he remembered me last time I saw him at a funeral, as he was a sports journalist.

And my ashes to be scattered on the sea or under a tree, I don’t mind. I did ask about the legalities of scattering on the sea and she didn’t know, but said many people do it. Just find a quiet location.

It sounds morbid to be talking about this, but I’m highly vulnerable to the corona virus and all the other things that go with diabetes, possible heart troubles and the slow form of leukaemia. I might drop off at any time and I don’t want anyone to be put to trouble when I do. I’m an organised person and I will organise this. I’m not expecting to drop off in the near future, but better to be ready.

I’m 73, Mum was 74 and Dad was 78. I have to renew my driver’s licence in November for five years, so that takes me to Dad’s age. Gotta last or beat that.

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It’s rampant – wage theft, exploitation of workers in Australia (and I’m sure around the world). The latest is backpackers and foreign students, many of them young Chinese, trying to stop themselves starving during this virus crisis (they are not eligible for any government support) by working on fruit and vegetable farms and vineyards.

In what is an open secret, bosses are allegedly exploiting the lack of knowledge around Australia’s industrial relations system among migrant communities – particularly where they speak languages other than English – hiring people into jobs that pay as little as $5 an hour.

One young woman told of having to work 12 hour days, then having half her small wages withheld, taken, for “rent”. They dare not protest too much for fear of having their visas examined by Border Force, although I think they’d be very happy if they were deported. But more likely is that they would be locked up, “detained” on some charge related to working.

I can hardly believe the cruelty being shown by some Australians. There is blatant racism in this community and country and an attitude that these workers can be exploited because they’re foreign and desperate. What happened to the Aussie characteristic of the “fair go”? This is shameful! This is not how Australia was and should be. We should be showing compassion to the poor and vulnerable, not persecuting them.

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This morning I’ve been shown some video on the web of a guy in Melbourne shouting from his first floor (that’s second floor, for you non-Aussies, you have to be different, don’t you 😉 ) balcony at the police, who have arrived to arrest him for trying to organise an anti-lockdown demonstration.

The fact is, there is a state of emergency in Victoria and Melbourne due to a large virus outbreak that started about six weeks ago. You’re allowed out for medical, exercise, children’s play, food shopping and some compassionate reasons, and that’s all. Yes, it’s a bit strong, but so is the virus. They’ve had more than 600 deaths and the virus was spreading like a fungus. It’s hard, but it’s necessary and it will ease up soon, as long as people obey the rules.

But some idiots see it as a violation of their rights and want to gather in a location to stage a protest. Sorry people, but at the moment, it’s against the law. It won’t always be this way, the lockdown will ease up when the virus stops spreading, but you can’t incite other people to defy the rules.

This guy was recording on his phone (not “filming”, there’s no film! Why do people say that?) as the police arrived, and he was refusing to let them in. He was spouting supposed laws to them as if he was a lawyer. So they broke his door in and arrested him as he came down the stairs. Sorry mate, I don’t have the slightest sympathy for you. You’re just a trouble-maker. If your demonstration went ahead (which it did), what about the rights of law abiders to be safe from any spread of the infection? Everyone else has rights too, mate. Your rights don’t override mine.

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For the past week I’ve been working away, uploading all my historic black and white images to the family tree website for enhancement, then clicking the colourise button. It’s fantastic. These are from my uncle Darcey’s time in the Middle East during World War 2. I assume it’s Palestine. It’s ironic, as this is an Israeli company that’s doing these enhancements.

Terraced irrigation. I had no idea it was done. It’s like Bali, in a desert.
Beautiful colour and texture in this image. Almost like parchment.
When I first saw this, I thought it was sand, but it’s snow. In the desert!

I think uncle Darcey would be extremely pleased with these enhancements and amazed at this new technology. Crumbs, I am too. I have many more to show, and many more still to be enhanced. Boy, this eats up the time but it’s so rewarding.

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I’ve told how I’ve been installing a new (second hand) AV car radio into Vera, the Verada. It’s in and working, but I’ve realised only the rear speakers are active. Booger. I made up my own harness from a pre-wired harness for another vehicle, but I think I might have to just pay the $30 for another IEC harness, so I can plug them together. I should have done that in the first place as matching the wires and soldering them took ages (no need to work fast, Gertrude). It’s very fiddly.

That means I have to take all that fascia out again, with all the pain on my fingers as I try to squeeze the connector clips to remove them. Ugh. Oh well, can’t be helped. (By the way, the rash on my fingers is fading slowly and they’re not really painful now, but it was a very strong infection, or whatever it was. There are a couple of patches on my toes as well.)

The DAB+ digital radio is working marvellously. I’m used to losing radio reception as I drive into underground carparks, but DAB+ hangs on quite a bit, fading a bit but staying with me a lot of the time. I am impressed.

I tried a DVD for the first time today (in my garage, not on the road) and it works fine. You have to ground the green wire, (or connect it to a switch on the handbrake — too hard), which is meant to stop you playing the video while you’re moving, i.e. handbrake on, green wire earthed, video play allowed. Handbrake off, no video allowed. I won’t do anything silly.

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The law about mobile phones changed as from 1 September – $1,000 on-the-spot fine and four demerit points for even touching your phone while driving. You might say it’s harsh, but there are too many idiots texting and even watching video on their phones while driving, and they won’t take any notice of the law. They have to be hit hard. I’m damned if I want to be hit by a driver who’s holding and distracted by his phone. Actually, it’s just as much her phone. Women are notorious for it.

If you want to use a phone in your car, you can but it must be in a holder, connected by Bluetooth and you must not touch it. Either use voice control, or a button on your AV console, or the buttons on your steering wheel. You can touch the AV unit because it’s considered to be a part of the car. A phone is not.

I have no problem with this. I get about three calls a year while I’m in my car and I just let them go through to the keeper* (voicemail). But my new AV unit has Bluetooth and I can pair it with my phone and answer by touching a “button” on the screen, so I may as well pair it, but in general, too bad about my phone. Quite often I forget to take it out with me. Sometimes it stays in my bag, unseen and unheard for a day or two. I am not a phone addict.

*For o/s readers, letting it go through to the keeper is a cricketing term, meaning the batsman declines to take a hit and lifts his bat, letting the ball go through to the wicket keeper. We say this a lot.

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Which reminds me, I got my “landline” (actually VOIP) phone back a few weeks ago but I’m wondering why I bothered. With one exception (a friend) all I’m getting is scam calls. I’m sick of it!

I think it’s time I ditched this facility. Isn’t that great – that these Indian scam callers have virtually rendered our landline phone system unuseable. I’m sick of them. I don’t answer the landline phone unless I can see the name of the caller. If they want to talk to me, they’ll leave a message. Otherwise, too bad.

Which means I will now have three multi-handset cordless phone systems for sale. All of them have four cordless handsets. I bought two of them after I felt a bit dissatisfied with my older Panasonic set, but after a while I went back to it. Oh well.

This type of thing is good for people with kids, or who live in a multi-storey house or apartment. Good value then.

Bunker bunkum day 166

Me at Borobodur, Java 1989

Bloddy ‘ell, first days of Spring and it’s only 16C and blowing and raining. Fair go. Go out and come in again, Mr Weather.

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I found the receipt for my first ever PC:

My first PC, 1989.

It was a second hand 80286 with 1MB of RAM and a 20MB hard drive, if I recall correctly. 1MB of RAM! You couldn’t even buy RAM that small these days. A 20MB hard drive! Even the smallest USB thumb drive is 8GB, that’s 40million times bigger, for about 1/20th of the cost.

Here’s the receipt for two 120MB hard drives, at $350 each!

The cost of hard drives in 1992. Note: Megabytes, not Gigabytes.

I’ve just had delivery of two Solid State drives of 512GB, costing $66 each.

Computer gear cost a fortune 28 years ago. I remember paying nearly $1,000 for a ‘486 motherboard. Yet, as an electronics tech, I had to buy my own gear so I could learn it. I spent $thousands, probably tens of $thousands of my own money! I did manage to negotiate a “computer allowance” of $4,000 a year in about 1994, but I was the only one they would do it for. I tried to persuade them to include other techs, but they wouldn’t do it.

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Further to yesterday’s post about AMP from Crikey.com:

AMP’s boardroom and executive culture has been profoundly flawed for decades. It has destroyed billions of dollars in shareholder wealth, wrecked the lives of many of its clients and rorted tens of thousands of them. But the business community prefers to focus on the alleged sins of trade unions, lack of workplace flexibility, iniquitous regulation, and corporate tax rates as the real problems of the economy.

Exactly. That lunatic former PM Tony Abbott, he of the crazy Australian knighthoods, started a Royal Commission into Trade Unions (with the word corruption in the full title), trying to dig dirt on unions. This was a massively expensive exercise, tens of millions of dollars being paid to the judge and lawyers, and the result was virtually zero. They found one small example of bad behaviour by a union, but nothing serious. All that time and money was wasted on that right wing government’s obsession with unions.

The judge running the commission was actually found to have very strong links to the Liberal Party and conservative politics. What a surprise.

Here we have it, yet another example of Australian big business destroying shareholder wealth, wrecking the lives of many of its clients (by denying insurance claims) and defrauding its clients (only 10 – 20 years ago, not in the distant past) by lying to them in order to sign them up for insurance policies.

Yet as the article says, it’s one of the cabal of big businesses which are constantly saying we need to curb union power, increase workplace flexibility (which actually means to reduce award protections and slow wage growth), cut regulations and reduce company tax. Many, many companies don’t pay any tax anyway, due to clever and in many cases dishonest lawyers finding ways to claim phantom deductions.

More from Crikey.com: Indeed, AMP seems determined to keep exposing its own inadequacies. In what looks to be another half-smart attempt at media management, the company last week released, without the approval of [Ms Julia] Szlakowski or her lawyers, the final section of the investigation into Pahari’s harassment of Ms Szlakowski. That investigation found that all of her claims were credible, though it did not find all of them to constitute “harassment”.

The problem is, AMP CEO Francesco De Ferrari is reported to have told AMP staff by internal emails that “many of [Szlakowski’s] claims were not substantiated by the external investigation”. This statement was repeated publicly by an AMP spokesperson.

How can AMP maintain that Szlakowski’s claims were “not substantiated” when their own report found all of her claims were accurate? And why, if reports are accurate, did De Ferrari make such an extraordinary claim about Szlakowski, who by the company’s own admission was the victim of misconduct by one of its senior executives? How can De Ferrari credibly remain CEO?

This is Australian business, badly managed, an old boys’ club attitude, poor ethics and morals and a whatever-it-takes mentality. Just look at what happened with Rio Tinto’s destruction of the Juukan Caves a few weeks ago. They were told that the caves contained 46,000 year old cave paintings and ancient artifacts, but they went ahead and blew them up anyway, dynamited them. Now they’re saying sorry, but the damage is done and can’t be repaired. Who would trust Rio Tinto or AMP or any of a dozen other big companies now? Yet they campaign against trade unions!

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Australia Post’s board called a snap board meeting to announce executives will not receive bonuses this year after it was revealed office employees were asked to work without being paid overtime, and to use their own cars to run parcel deliveries, in order to clear Victoria’s massive backlog.

Bonuses for Australia Post executives were ruled out early in the pandemic, but the CEO Christine Holgate earlier this week softened her stance, telling the ABC that it would be left to the board to determine.

“It’s pretty black and white … the [executive team] has led our business through one of the most challenging periods … and yet they’ve still delivered a fantastic result,” she said. “I’m very proud of them. Whether they get paid a bonus or not, the board can decide.”

Why the hell should executives and board members get bonuses? So they work harder? – so do ordinary wage earners, as stated above, and the senior people ask the lower ranks to work extra for nothing!

The gall of these people! The greed! The vanity!

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I enjoyed the ABC TV program Further Back in Time for Dinner last night. It covered what life was like in 1900 – 1910, but I can remember many of those things. The dunny with the can and the torn newspaper sheets. The big wood stove. Making toast with a wire toasting fork (it seemed to smell better toasted that way). Chopping firewood. Funny, I can’t remember much about our washing/bathing. The winters would have been colder then and we might have been reluctant to fill a bath. Showering was not common in the 1950s, it was usually baths.

I remember milking a cow and Dad making cheese and butter. And the very plain meals we ate, chops (sheep meat), mutton, occasional beef as roasts but not steak very often. Boiled and mashed potatoes, peas, beans, carrots, cabbage. Very plain food, but good for us. Custard, rice pudding, tapioca (frogs’ eyes). Very occasional ice cream as a treat.

Chicken, almost never! It’s almost the most common meat these days, but in the 1950s it was only ever a Christmas dinner treat. Why? Someone suggested that chickens were valued for their eggs and we didn’t want to kill them. I don’t know.

In other words, we lived fairly similar lives on WA farms to what we saw last night. Progress was very slow then, things changed very slowly compared to now.

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I had three or four things to write about but they’ve gone from my head. More tomorrow.

By the way, I seem to be picking up followers all over the world. Thank you very much for taking an interest in what I write – I’m very flattered.

Bunker bunkum day 164

The Mandurah beach house of my 1980s/90s friend Haruko. She died in 1995.

Lovely day, 21C, no wind. Nice. Spring tomorrow. Can’t wait.

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From Crikey.com: Strange how business calls for “economic reform” are always aimed at everyone else, and never at the worst forms of rorts, incompetence and scandals, which cost millions of Australians billions in lost income.

Take AMP. It was a corporate hero in the recession of the 1990s, coming to the aid of a near bankrupt Westpac. It helped in the float of the Commonwealth Bank. It owned 10% of Macquarie Bank (now Macquarie Group). It was perhaps the most important investor in the country, the bluest of blue chips, with more than $90 billion in total assets.

The old AMP Society was demutualised in 1998. Shares in the new company were valued at $6.19 in that deal and quickly soared, touching $15.87 in November of 1998. Since then it’s been a long slide punctuated with repeated managerial and boardroom unrest and scandal.

When AMP demutualised it had an excess of capital. It soon went on a spending spree, picking up UK funds manager Henderson, National Provident Institution and then GIO. GIO was a $3 billion investment that lost $1 billion.

By 2003 AMP’s share price had hit a record low $2.72, having lost shareholders 73% in value since listing. It recovered briefly above $10 a share in 2007, but has rarely been above $6 since.

As the Hayne royal commission unfolded and revealed a remarkable array of misconduct and egregious rorting by AMP, it fell below $5, the $4, then $3, then $2. Last week it closed at $1.50.

That was Crikey, this is me. In the 1990s a work colleague was allocated AMP shares when they demutualised. He didn’t want them, so I offered to buy them from him, believing, as they say above, that they were the bluest of blue chips. I paid the going rate then, $20 a share for 155 shares.

After twenty years of mismanagement, dishonesty, frauds, incompetence, “egregious rorting” and plain management greed, my shares are now worth just over $1.50. I’ve lost most of my money. It’s hardly worth selling them now.

My point is, the Liberal Party is always down on unions, to the point where they ran a Royal Commission into unions with the word “corruption” in the title, yet any misbehaviour by unions (and yes, there is some) pales to insignificance beside the incompetence and dishonesty, greed and criminality of Australian managements. Promotion in Australian companies is rarely based on education or qualifications. It’s far more often based on being one of the boys, being rough and tough. I’ve seen it.

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I finished the second edition of Croft History vol. 1 2nd edition and sent it off for printing on Saturday. It’s a tedious process because although I bought three vouchers and want to use them for the same order, the web site won’t let me. Each voucher number had to be submitted as a separate order, which meant three separate upload processes, requiring about 30 mins each. And paying $12.95 for postage on each order.

I’ve now bought four more vouchers for my own copies (which will be for sale) and I don’t want to have to go through their rigmarole again. I’ve sent off a query to Support asking why their multiple copy function won’t work but going on past experience it will be several days before I get an answer.

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I watched the four episodes of The Salisbury Poisonings on SBS last week with rapt attention. It was pretty well made, showing the lengths the police had to go to to keep the public away from anything that could have been contaminated by the Russian Novichok nerve poison. I was surprised, though, by the public displays of anger at the police. This seems to be a characteristic of the British people – they are much more prone to demonstrations and shows of anger than we are. Maybe it’s just TV drama but it occurs very often.

The other thing that struck me was the sexism. The civilian leader of the Public Health Department crisis team was a woman and she was repeatedly shown in private displays of weakness, crying, showing her fatigue, how the weight of responsibility was bearing down on her.

Yet the male police were never shown in any form of distress. They just showed the calm competence that we think of them. The contrast was very clear to me. The woman got through, of course, but it wasn’t a good look.

Great show, though. It was just another illustration of what rotten leaders the Russians have. We’ve seen it again last week in the poisoning of Alexey Navalny, the Russian opposition leader. Once again, Putin and his cronies resort to crude poisoning to cripple anyone who opposes them. It’s disgusting. In the Salisbury case, they took enough of the deadliest nerve agent to poison an entire city, and dumped it in a bin where it could have been found by anyone, as it was.

I’ve said this before: the lack of morals by Russians – Russian airforce pilots have no qualms about dropping bombs on hospitals in Syria, killing medical staff and children without a care. No Australian pilot would do this! They would refuse such an order. It is a war crime, an outrage. But Russian pilots do it repeatedly. They are amoral cowards.

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Hah! I replied to a Facebook post from a woman in the USA who loves Trump. She believes the sun shines out of his arse. I thought I’d have a play with her and boy-oh-boy, she is a sick woman. Trump doesn’t tell lies, the Washington Post does. (Why would the newspapers lie? What advantage would it give them? Quite the opposite, if they are caught lying, it would go badly for them.)

Anyway, I batted back and forth a few times but I’ve bailed out. This US woman is a true believer in the Trump lies. Wasting my time.

The thought of him being voted back in scares me. It would give him a new sense of his power and legitimacy which he would use to do even worse things. It’s frightening. Half of the USA has gone mad. I wish the mad half would get the virus and die.