Bring out your dead

Bushfires over Canberra, January 2020. Photographer unknown. ABC News

Beautiful day, 29deg, back ‘o my neck gettin’ damp and sweaty. The title refers to the start of our annual bulk rubbish collection starting tomorrow. I’ve had almost nothing to put out, just a few pieces of old timber. It’s actually good dry jarrah DAR but I’ll never get around to using it. I hope someone takes it and puts it to good use. Otherwise, I’ve got a lot of things I want to get rid of, but they’re not junk.

PS: 6pm, someone has taken the jarrah. That’s good.

I like to drive around and have a look and I was surprised to see a mini motor bike on a pile just up the street. I was tempted to look, but nah.

It’s amazing how many lounge suites go out. They’re in dreadful taste, most of them, so it’s no great loss. I hope they’re being replaced by something better.

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That made me think of leather and the leather seats in the Honda MDX. The driver’s seat squab is damaged, with the foam visible on the edge where you slide in. It’s not worth me getting it fixed.

But I was thinking yesterday, it’s very thin leather. Surely Honda could have known that this is the part most prone to damage and used a thicker grade of leather for that part? It seems obvious to me. Black mark, Honda.

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I’m co-existing with the insomnia at the moment. I’ve reduced the medication to half and I’m taking it when the GP recommended, just before bed, although I always read for 30-45mins before lights out. It still takes me consistently about 2hrs to get to sleep, but I do fall asleep then and have a reasonable night. Lots of interesting dreams. Dreams loosely related to work still crop up, 21 years since I retired. Like most men, work defined me. My world was occupied by by my occupation, if you get my drift.

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Watch number 16, or thereabouts. I saw this on Friday and it took me about 10 seconds to decide I wanted it, especially at the price, $269 reduced to $110. Last one, apparently. I just like it. I’ve got another one similar, also Pulsar, but the LCD is much dimmer to save the battery. This one is bright and clear.

Women like rings and things. I like watches.

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I’ve just found this among my old word processor files from February 2014. It’s worth posting:

There was a fascinating program on SBS about DNA and the genome. I hope it rated well and people watched it. Science documentaries don’t rate very well, I don’t think, and I applaud SBS for showing them at a reasonable time.

A statement was made that I didn’t know about, that humans have evolved lacking the gut enzymes to digest a lot of raw foods. We are evolved to eat cooked food, not grasses and plants and raw meat. Our digestive system needs food to be cooked first before it can break it down for us.

The guy said that if we ate nothing but raw food, we’d starve to death within about three  months.

I find that fascinating. I didn’t know that. Animals evolved to eat nothing but raw foods, but our genome diverged and we don’t make the enzymes required to digest from raw.

We can eat raw food, of course we can, but a lot of it passes straight through undigested. That’s why we call it roughage and fibre, precisely because it goes straight through. It scours out our intestines and bowels as it does, which is useful and good for us in preventing cancer and other nasties, but for food value and nutrition, it’s better cooked.

That puts a whole new perspective on things. I always assumed that raw was better, but it’s not so. And I only learn this 65 years into my life?

The program as a whole also showed fascinating detail about how our genome evolved. We went from being single cells to multiple dividing cells about 2 billion years ago, in an apparently random process that survived because it was advantageous. Two billion years, plus or minus a billion, as one scientist said. In the whole span of “life”, the difference between a billion years and civilised man’s existence (about 10,000 years) is like the thickness of paint on the ceiling, a factor of 10e5.

They also explained (this is recent research) that when chromosomes divide and recombine in the process of cell division, they recombine at specific places along the length of the DNA spiral. There are only four places, and they are characterised by the base pair sequence CCGCCGTATCGTAT (from memory, could be wrong). The relatively random mixing of base pairs occurs along the chromosome, but at these sequence points, things stay the same. Faskinatin’

About 5 years ago I was mystified by DNA, chromosomes, genes and the other terms. Like placing music in context, I didn’t understand the hierarchy, which part was bigger and which were the smaller parts. Now I do know. Quite a lot. In fact, a hell of a lot. Down to the molecular level of the bases.

I was talking to the cardiologist a couple of weeks ago (2014) and showed him my list of medications. I asked about one in particular and whether it would be beneficial for my heart. “Oh, I don’t know that one,” he said. What??! Sure, it’s not for the heart, but it’s hardly obscure. I was not impressed. (It’s Colchicine.)

In 2014 had the Silver Chain nurses (yes, two of them) here re-dressing my leg. I had cellulitis, inflammation and infection of the surface cells. My left leg was a bit swollen and very red raw. It looked bad but it wasn’t restricting me much, just a bit painful and itching.

The second nurse came to do a leg vein ultrasound on the spot, with me lying down on my own bed. That’s what electronics has wrought – a small portable Doppler ultrasound with LCD display. Brilliant.

They were measuring my differential blood pressure, between that in my arm and in my leg, to see how my heart is pumping. Yes, there is a fair difference, 1.41 or 41% difference. That means they needed to wrap my leg in a pressure wrap to try to force the fluid up. I looked like the mummy, all white bandage (on my lower left leg, that is).

It was also wrapped in a wet, gooey zinc bandage to kill the bacteria. I knew it was staphylococcus, and I said, “But it wouldn’t be staph aureus, would it?” Yes, she said, Golden Staph. It lives on the skin. Wow. I thought it was a hospital bug, not found in the wild. In fact, maybe that’s where I got it, in hospital recently?

For the record, genomics big to small: cell; chromosome; DNA strands; genes; base pairs; bases made up of molecules; molecules called A = adenine, C = cytosine, G = guanine, T = thymine (not thiamin, that’s Vitamin B); atoms of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, phosphorus, sodium and potassium, mainly.

Just those four molecules are sufficient to make us, and all living things. Wow.

It would be like saying Shakespeare wrote all his works using an alphabet of only four letters. The difference is that all his works would have taken millions and billions of pages, instead of thousands.

In fact another analogy could be that BCD (binary coded decimal) could have been used. Same deal. Only ten letters allowed. The works could have been written, but it would have taken hundreds of thousands, if not millions of pages. I don’t think the result would have been the same, either.

Actually, take the idea further: all 46 chromosomes make up the instructions to make our body. We’re in the process now of decoding which sections (genes) of those stands of DNA in each chromosome do what.

To me it’s obvious that one day, quite soon in fact, we will be able to decode ALL the genes and therefore have the instruction book literally on paper (not on paper, in a computer file), to build either a human or any part of a human.

“Oh, you need a new heart? OK, it’s this book, pages 2,504,309 to 5,687,334. We’ll get right onto it.” And they would synthesize the molecules, put them together in the right sequences to make the genes (something presently done by mRNA and amino acids), put the genes in a growth medium with the other chemicals needed and within a few days, there would be a heart. Absolutely, I’m not kidding. I reckon within 40 years, easily. All we need is that book. It’s coming, not far away.

What’s allowing this to go so fast? Electronics!

We had the stone age, the iron age, the bronze age, and so on. This is the Electronics Age. Absolutely. All our progress is coming from the knowledge of how to control electrons in wires and that in turn comes from basic physics, science and maths.­ I love it.

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I’m up to series seven, episode 12 of the Big Bang Theory and I’m not tired of it yet. I think I mentioned that I bought Kunal Nayyar’s book, Yes My Accent is Real, but although he tells how he got into the show, he doesn’t say much at all about it. But what he does say is that all the actors loved the scripts and when they were handed out before shooting each episode, they all took them home to read just for the enjoyment. I agree, the dialogue is fantastic, the jokes are really funny and the timing is great.

One thing he says, which I’m not sure whether to believe, is that the laughter track is real, that it’s all shot before a live studio audience. He says sometimes the floor managers had to stop a scene because audience members would see the joke coming and say it prematurely. Sounds plausible. I’m enjoying it anyway.

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I’m in the home stretch of The Salt Path by Raynor Winn, the book I mentioned about the couple walking the south west coastal path from Minehead via Land’s End to Poole in Dorset.

She is a brilliant writer. This could have been a bit boring, just a recitation of day 1, day 2, day 3, and so on, but I have seldom read such lyrical prose. It is very, very uplifting and enjoyable.

At the risk of spoiling, I thought it would be the linear story one long walk to reach Poole, but in fact they break it at one point and go to live on a friend’s farm a couple of hundred miles to the north for the winter. They still work their guts out but it gives them the chance to save up some money, not a lot but not the destitution they were in when they started.

But the wanderlust kicks back in and they go back to the south coast in the summer (she never says which year it is), to Poole, in fact, and start walking again in the reverse direction, west. It’s still 250 miles and a daunting task, but it brings Moth (the husband) back to quite good health again within two weeks, which amazes them. It’s a testament to the benefits of walking as exercise. No doubt about it.

Uh oh, shut the gate

From a closeup photography competition.

Another lovely day, a bit cloudy but fine and 23deg. Nice.

Wow, this month has been our highest rainfall in November on record, 73mm last I’ve seen. It’s felt like it too, almost a return to winter. Great for the lawns and gardens. We’ve been allowed to turn our sprinklers on since the beginning of September but I haven’t felt the need so far. To be honest, I’m only showering every second day now as I don’t sweat or get dirty. Cold showers, too. Lovely.

And on the subject of saving money, the State Government has credited every household with $600 of electricity starting this month. Given my solar power and that my last power bill was only $29, it means I’ll probably be able to use the air conditioning for most of the summer without worrying about how much it costs to run. I’m happy about that.

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Another closeup. From a Nikon competition, not my shot.

The title refers to the way our state borders were reopened on Saturday, but on Sunday afternoon reports came through that a new outbreak of the COVID virus had started in a suburb of Adelaide. It’s up to 20 cases at the moment.

It’s not a huge outbreak, but it was enough for this state government to immediately start to enforce quarantine for visitors arriving at the border from South Australia and ban any new arrivals. People who arrived at the border, way out on the Nullarbor Plain, were stopped and told to go back to SA. They weren’t happy, and neither were the ones who had already crossed into WA since Saturday. The premier says he’ll reimpose the complete border shutdown if necessary.

The ones who had already come in were traced, I assume by mobile phones, and told they had to stop where they were and self isolate for two weeks. Most took it in good spirits, but many had arrived at Perth Airport on the first couple of flights from Adelaide and they were told they couldn’t meet their relatives or leave the airport, they had to go into hotel isolation for two weeks, with frequent tests. Wow, there were a few upset people there.

Never a dull moment with this virus. For a few days it looked like almost the whole of Australia was essentially virus free, until this new Adelaide breakout.

As usual, it originated from an overseas traveller in quarantine in an Adelaide hotel, but the private security guards didn’t follow procedure and took the virus home from the hotel and spread it to their family.

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I’ve just received my new driver’s licence card in the mail, which is well timed because my old one expired yesterday, the 15th. It’s for five years again and reuses my photo from last time. Gee, who is this young fellow?

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I mentioned a radio talk I heard last week by a British woman who, faced with the complete loss of their house and all their money, and the diagnosis of a degenerative brain disease in her husband, set off, both of them, on a walk from Minehead in Somerset, near their origin in Wales, along the coastal path to Lands End, then along the Cornwall coast to Dorset, around 670 miles.

Well, I’ve got the book, The Salt Path by Raynor Winn and it’s almost un-put-downable. They lost everything because Moth, the husband, made a substantial investment in a business venture run by a close friend of his. The business failed, of course, but what they didn’t realise was that their investment also included liability to share the debts incurred by the failure. They ended up owing hundreds of thousands, more than their small farm was worth, and were pursued through the courts for the debt. The close friend was nowhere to be seen and no help, so the bailiffs were sent in to repossess everything. All they had was enough to buy two rucksacks, a small tent, sleeping bags and the basic needs to hit the road.

They started out with about £85 between them, and a small government payment of £48 a week to live off. Britain is a high cost country and even a bag of chips costs £1 ($1.82). A panini costs £8 ($14.50). Their diet can only run to packet noodles, fudge bars, any wild fruit or mushrooms they can find, begged hot water for their tea bags and so on. What’s more, the great British weather varies from baking heat, up to 38degC to howling gales off the Atlantic. They can’t afford any accommodation, not even campgrounds, and have to illegally wild camp wherever they can find some level ground, sheltered if possible. Sometimes they awake to find themselves exposed to a road or house they didn’t know was there the previous night.

So far it’s taken them about three weeks to reach Tintagel on the north coast of Cornwall, supposedly the area of King Arthur and his castle. I’ve been there and there’s not much to see, mainly a big hotel built to look like a castle.

The next town, though, is very familiar if you’re a fan of Doc Martin on TV. It’s the real life town of Port Isaac which is renamed to Port Wenn in the show. Crammed with tourists in the summer, apparently, and to be avoided if you don’t like crowds. This was pre-COVID days, of course.

I used to have photos taken on my trip to the UK in 1974 and although I can see them in my mind’s eye, they were lost in a big disc crash in 2013. I’ve learnt my lesson and everything is backed up now.

Anyway, I’m thoroughly enjoying this book. One lesson to come from it is the benefits of exercise. I haven’t got there yet but the husband’s brain disease goes into remission, I believe. Recommended.

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I watched the first episode of the fourth series of The Crown last night. Very good, as usual. The Poms certainly know how to make TV, especially when it involves dress-ups and big sets. There’s a fair bit of criticism in the press concerning made up events, but I don’t care, it’s still riveting.

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I was poking around the WordPress menus a few days ago and found a place where comments that had been marked as spam were stored. Not marked by me, I hasten to add.

Only one was real spam and the other 16 were very nice compliments from various parts of the world, so I’ve marked them as Not Spam and I assume they have been restored to their respective places, but I don’t know where. In any case, I thank you very, very much for your kind words of praise and I certainly hope you continue to enjoy my writings. I’ll be more observant now and try to prevent this happening again.

Borders are down (almost)

Something was funny.

Aaah, lovely day outside, only 22 max but cloudless and still. I like it. I’m hearing the plaintive squawking of what I think are magpie chicks not far from my window as I heard the parent carolling a lot this morning. In the pine tree about 20m away, I think. I’ve never had any trouble with swooping since I’ve been here but I’ll be sure to wear a hat next time I go out front.

Another rough night last night. I did get to sleep eventually but it was around 2.30am I think. I do sneak looks at the bedside clock – I can’t help myself. Plus I have the radio on. Silly? But I’ve always found I go to sleep easily in the afternoon with it on, and I don’t want to waste my time when I can’t sleep. I still fall asleep when the time comes.

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It’s the 11th of November, 11/11/20. It’s Remembrance Day in two senses, the remembrance of our war dead but also remembrance of that day of infamy in 1975 when the Liberal Party staged its coup. When they inveigled the governor general, Kerr, into dismissing the legitimately elected Labour government of Gough Whitlam, PM. (The Labor spelling came after 1975.)

This will never be forgotten. It was a disgraceful act and one the Liberal Party will never be forgiven. I live for the day that it is done to them in return. That time could be now as this Liberal government is the most corrupt in the history of this country. It seems nothing is too heinous as to warrant the resignation or dismissal of ministers.

The latest exposure of the low moral character of my local MP, Christian Porter, is disgusting. I never had any time for him anyway, as I’m sure you know, but the TV program showed his true character, a misogynist woman hater who was, and possibly still is, a foul mouth drunkard slob. Needless to say, I’ll be doing my darndest to see him unseated at the next election.

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This was 11.11.11, remember? We had a good decade of 01.01.01, 02.02.02 right through 10.10.10, 11.11.11 to 12.12.12, but I’m afraid there won’t be any more tricky dates this century. As the years go up now, there won’t be any matching months.

Until 01.01.01 again, but it will be 01.01.3001 and I don’t plan to be around then. 🙂

Postscript: I’m wrong. We won’t have to wait until 3001. Assuming we abbreviate the year to its last pair of digits as we usually do, the next 00 and 01 … years will commence in 2100 and 2101… etc. Silly me.

By the way, I’ve always been one for dates. I can’t claim to remember 5/5/55, although I was around then, but I can easily remember 6/6/66, 7/7/77, 8/8/88 and 9/9/99 before we went to 2000, which didn’t have a cadence (0/0/00??) and then the 01/01/01. I wonder if there’s a name for date watching like this? Sure to be, I’ll research it.

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I’ve bought a citronella candle this afternoon. A family of wasps built their hive inside the door of my reticulation controller last summer. It’s ideal for them as when the door is closed, the missing knob leaves a hole about 15mm diameter for them to get in and out of.

I’d hoped the winter might send them away but no. They’re not aggressive; they warily ignore me when I open the door. But obviously I don’t want them there, especially as they’ve left their splats all over the retic controller. Very messy.

I’m hoping this citronella will do the trick, but as it’s a candle in a glass tumbler, fairly large, I don’t know how I’m going to place it. I’ve got a heavy duty aluminium takeaway container to act as a wind shield. Maybe I can find something tall to sit it on. I shall keep you advised, probably with pictures.

Bunker bulldust day 234

© PJ Croft 2020

It’s raining, it’s pouring, the old man is snoring. He went to bed, the sleepy head, and now he’s dead. Boring.

I didn’t know the last two phrases so I just made ’em up, sorry.
Next day – now I remember:
It’s raining, it’s pouring
The old man is snoring
He went to bed
And bumped his head
And couldn’t get up in the morning.

Anyway, I feel dead myself after another night of insomnia. The GP suggested taking my medication just before I go to bed, instead of earlier, in the hope of getting to sleep before the medication takes effect. It kinda works in that I do fall asleep after a long while (more than an hour) but I wake repeatedly during the night and struggle to fall asleep again. I’ll have to taper it off, I think.

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Whacko! The Trump nightmare is almost over. It was a great result in the US election, despite the slowness of the count and the closeness of the numbers.

What a crazy country, though, that nearly half the country, 70 million voters, voted that they wanted to continue a regime led by a gangster who lies so much that you can not believe a word he says. A fool who is deranged, mentally defective, who cares about nothing and no-one but himself. Who has dragged America’s reputation in the world down into the gutter. Who is a danger to the world. Yet 70 million Americans still want him to be their president. It’s frightening.

At least now we can say 75 million Americans didn’t want him. That we now have a good man in the position who will be able to right the wrongs done by this evil rogue. And Kamala Harris is so impressive. I’m glad she is VP as I feel she will be a safe pair of hands if anything happens to Joe Biden. Crikey, he’s 77. I don’t know how he has the energy.

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© PJ Croft 2020

In case you’re wondering, the “paintings” I’ve been putting at the head of my posts recently are the product of a software program I have, Dynamic Auto Painter by http://www.mediachance.com. As the name implies, you choose a base image and a style you like and press Start. There are about 60 styles of all kinds, pastels, oils, water colours, Rembrandt, van Gogh, Manet, Monet and so on. You can download more styles too.

It’s all done by a Canadian guy who seems to be a genius programmer. He makes a dozen or so programs, working solo, as I understand it. You can talk to him on-line. All the programs are downloadable as demos with no time limit but with a logo superimposed on the output. I paid about US$60 for this program and I’ve bought a few others as well. Recommended.

Bunker bulldust day 230

© PJ Croft 2020

Not writing much am I? Sorry, having a lot of trouble with insomnia and fatigue, side effects of medication. Changing it tomorrow, I hope. I’m feeling slow and sleepy in the mornings and doing a fair bit of napping in the afternoons at the moment, trying to catch up on sleep.

Funny how I can drop off easily in the afternoon, but I can’t drop off until 4 or 5am at night.

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That bastard Trump! What an evil scumbag. Cares nothing for anyone but himself. How far down into the slime the once respectable Republican Party has descended. The GOP, the “Grand Old Party”… Old is right, but the rest is historic crap. Trump could not be where he is without the Republicans supporting him, and the only reason they do is that he gets them into positions of power where they can scrape the money barrels and mix with the rich and powerful. It’s disgusting.

What a weird country is the USA. Many of their population are absolutely brilliant and admirable, but half the remainder are gruesome slobs, out of their minds, racists, warmongers, corrupted idiots. To believe the Quanon Conspiracy theory takes a warped mind. To believe the torrent of lies spewing from Trump’s mouth shows how gullible they are. He’s up to more than 22,000 lies since he’s been in office and they’re pouring out faster than the fact checkers can cope with at the moment. It’s insane, and I really mean ‘insane’. He should be impeached again and again, but if the Democrats don’t get control of the Senate, then they can’t get it through. Damn!

I’ve been saying for years that the USA has gone insane and it’s totally obvious now. I have no hope for the world any more.

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© PJ Croft 2020

So the border is open, well nearly, on the 14th. It looks as if I could do what I want to do, fly east and buy a car and drive it back. Not quite yet. Victoria is still a little dangerous (for me, as a highly vulnerable person, that is), so I’ll continue to watch and wait. But the fires last summer have obliterated large areas of the SE corner that I wanted to see. That will take a few years to revegetate. Pity.

On the same lines, my wish to visit England to see Croft Castle is off the table now, too. England has been rendered far too dangerous for someone like me to visit. Until there’s a good vaccine and COVID has been eliminated, that is. I may not get there now.

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Which makes me think of The Crown, that great show on Netflix. I’ve watched the first and second series twice and the third series once, and the fourth series starts on 15 November. I’ll be watching, for sure.

Speaking of Netflix, I’ve watched all seven episodes of The Queen’s Gambit. You may have seen reviews of it, it’s been getting a lot of publicity. It’s warranted because it’s very good.

It’s a TV dramatisation of a novel, about a young girl who is orphaned at about six years old and sent to an orphanage where she learns to play chess from the janitor. She turns out to have prodigious talent and soon begins to beat the boys at high school where she is sent after being adopted by a couple. I won’t describe it all here but she becomes US chess champion and goes on to Moscow where she plays Russia’s champion. Does she become the world champ? I won’t spoil it. It’s a bit rah rah, U-S-A, U-S-A! However, the actress who plays Beth Harmon is so charming that I almost fell in love with her. I enjoyed the series very much. Recommended.

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Ely Cathedral, England. © PJ Croft 2020

Bunker bulldust day 223

Dad at age 50 approx.

It’s the 29th of October. Happy Birthday Dad. He would have been 98 today.

It’s also 21 years on this day since I took my redundancy and walked out of the building at Channel 7. That was a bit emotional after 33 years, but my dogs kept me real busy and I didn’t need to look for work, so it was easy.

By jingo, I’ve had a fortunate life. I fell into a job that I loved and stayed in, never needing to switch. Then getting early “retirement” at age 52 with that voluntary redundancy and never needing to work again. Then finding the best house I’ve ever lived in to move to, in a great area. Then when this virus came, having a guaranteed income, no job to lose, no mortgage, no rent, no kids to worry about and plenty to occupy me. It’s been a charmed life.

That’s all for tonight. Cheers.

Bunker bulldust day 220

Hot town, summer in the city
Back ‘my neck gettin’ dirty and gritty

Phew, 35C yesterday. I slept most of the night on top of the covers and with the fan blowing on me. I’ve started the cold showers again. I love it. What a change. Only a few weeks ago I was complaining of cold fingers.

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I was very surprised when I answered a doorbell on Saturday morning to see the young lady who was my Silver Chain cleaner for all last year. In that time we became quite good friends and after she finished up in January this year to move back to her country home town, she started writing me letters. Totally innocent, I assure you, but I am very flattered. We’ve exchanged three letters and I didn’t expect to see her again, but on Saturday, there she was. It was just for a visit, but since she was in Perth with a friend in High Wycombe, she did the 50 minute drive up here to see me. In her current model Mazda MX-5, I might add.

We talked and talked and had coffee at the Dome and I was glowing with pleasure. I am hugely flattered. She’s only 23, don’t get any ideas, but …

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Damn! Target at Clarkson has closed down. Sure, it’s not a very up-market store but I found some good clothes there in my size, 4XL. It wasn’t a big range but I found enough to satisfy me. As well, they stocked my jocks, boxer shorts that is, in my size 5-6XL. I used to buy a pair (you got two on a hanger for $18) even if I didn’t immediately need them just so they would know that I’m still buying. I used to mention this to the checkout ladies and ask them to pass it on to the manager. I’m not sure if that did any good (ho ho ho) but they stayed in stock.

We still have K-Mart left but they stop at 3XL. I’ve never been able to buy underwear there, not in many years anyway. I might have to start stamping my foot.

This is just another example of the way we are losing things. As we’re supposed to be advancing in quality of life, at the same time so many things are closing down. We used to have Carlo’s Italian Cafe just down the street from me ever since I’ve been here, 2013, but it changed hands and the new owners changed it to a parmies and chips type of menu, but they closed up about four months ago. There are two other empty shops on that side of the street. The Westpac bank on the other side is gone. The newsagent reduced their shelf size by half a couple of years ago, and now it’s been cut in half as a shop, too, making it cramped.

At my Trigg location we used to have a small shopping centre down the street, with a large IGA grocer, a good newsagent, a women’s clothing shop and a small but good hardware shop. If I needed screws or a paintbrush or sandpaper, it was ideal.

Then in the other part there was a greengrocer, a great fish and chip shop, quite a good deli and an op shop.

And a service station! Full mechanical workshop. Good service and advice.

But in the late ’80s it was all wiped away. The land was more valuable for redevelopment, so they bulldozed it all and built units. Pah!!

This is the pattern. There are no small interesting shops any more; they are all franchises or chain stores. Banks are closing branches as fast as they can. Everything is in the big shopping malls like Karrinyup and Joondalup. Except that HBF has just advised that their Joondalup branch is closed down. Bah! I didn’t need it more than a few times a year, but I did need it.

I suppose it’s just a part of getting older.

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I heard a good radio interview yesterday on Conversations on Radio National, with a British woman who’s written a book called The Salt Path. It describes her and her husband’s adventure after they went into a financial deal that fell apart and they lost their house. Suddenly at age 60 approx. they had no house and no money. This was in South Wales in the UK.

At the same time the husband, with the curious name of Moth, was diagnosed with a terminal brain disease called CBD, Cortical Basal Deterioration. No treatment, no cure. Given two years, with declining brain function. Wow, talk about a double whammy!

They just had enough money (GBP85) to buy a tent, a couple of cheap sleeping bags, a small stove and rucksacks. That left them with about GBP30, which is not much!

For some reason, they decided to just set out walking a track around the south west of England, from the north side of Devon to Land’s End (been there!) along the Cornwall coast (been there) to Dorset. They had no money for campsites so had to camp wild, usually after dark so they wouldn’t be seen as wild camping is not legal. They would sometimes wake in the morning with an entirely different idea of where they were.

Anyway, they made it in three months, often relying on the kindness of strangers and finally found a stranger who wanted an old farm, a cider apple orchard brought back from the derelict state. Ideal.

The thing is, the walking did wonders for Moth’s health. For both of them, really, but it seemed to cause Moth’s brain disease to almost go into remission. Yeah, we hear this often don’t we? The benefits of exercise for the body.

Anyway, I found the talk so interesting that I found the book on Amazon and I’ve ordered it ($20.35 and post free on Amazon Prime, for which I pay an annual fee. I also found it on Booktopia, the Aussie store, but it was $33 plus postage, probably about $10. I like to support Aussie stores but $20 vs $43? Too much difference.)

Which reminds me, last week I got the urge to read “Raj Koothrappali’s” book, Yes, My Accent is Real and Other Things I Haven’t Told You. This Kunal Nayyar, the actor who plays Raj in the Big Bang Theory.

The point is, I found it on Amazon last Monday, ordered it at $30 and as a Prime purchase, post free, and it arrived on Wednesday. Amazing.

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I think I mentioned my 13 year old worker – he’s just texted me asking if he can come again. Yes! I said, tomorrow. I’m very pleased with his work. I set him doing the front last Thursday and he did an excellent job in two hours. Excellent. I’m very pleased. That was probably the hardest thing I need done. The jobs left to do are not as hard or boring.

Bunker bulldust day 216

Bali 2016, photo modified with Dynamic Auto Painter © PJ Croft
Note: you can click on these images for a bigger view now.

I’ve been to the GP today to have a small sebacious cyst on my right temple looked at, with a view to “cutting it out”. One of the GPs is a skin specialist and twice she said she “enjoys cutting skin cancers out”. Funny thing to enjoy.

But after she looked at it, she said there would be a fair bit of scarring and it’s better to let it alone and hope it fixes itself. Come back in a month. OK by me. She also froze several small keratoses, which stung a bit. No problem. No actual skin cancers. I’ve never been a big sun tan fiend. Well, pretty big, just not a fiend.

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Speaking of appearance, I grew my hair pretty long for the past 14 months, not for any special reason, I just forgot to have haircuts for a while, then thought I’d save money for a while.

But on my mind was that my five year driver’s licence is due for renewal on 15 November, which I thought would require a new photo. I didn’t want to look so woolly in a photo to last for the next five years so last week I had a haircut.

Well, my licence renewal form arrived last week too, and guess what, no new photo required and no renewal fee. Wow. Is this a Seniors thing? I’m very happy about it anyway.

I’m not saying I had the haircut for nothing, I was a bit tired of it being long anyway. So hard to manage. Anyway, I’ve always thought I look better with short hair.

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I answered an ad on NextDoor last week for a “young, strong guy” who was looking for any work around the house and after a little difficulty getting in touch with him, I finally got him to come here on Tuesday. Now I understand why he was hard to contact: he’s a 13 year old schoolboy. Name of Carlos.

He’s about what you’d expect a 13yo to be, fairly small but he’s a great worker. His mum brought him here on the first day, presumably to check me out but that’s totally understandable. It seems they only live three minutes walk away so he came alone today after school.

He’s done two 2hr sessions and I think is very happy with the money. At the start I asked him and his mum what he wanted to be paid and they said they would leave it up to me. I was expecting $25/hr for a big guy but I said $20/hr when I saw how small he is. Their eyes lit up and it was smiles all round, so we’re all happy. I think that’s more than they were expecting. I’m prepared to pay to get things done that are too hard for me now. Fatigue! I know you well.

I’m just getting him to do weeding and sweeping and he does a great job, no goofing off. I’m happy.

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I’ve been saying this for the past year or so and it’s becoming more and more evident: this Liberal-National federal government is corrupt!!

This is from Crikey.com, Bernard Keane today: “And this is a government — the most corrupt federal government since the 1970s, and possibly much longer — that has constantly indicated it will reward its friends and punish its enemies, and use taxpayer funding — or, more accurately now, borrowed money — to serve its partisan agenda.

“As the sports rorts affair demonstrated, it is also unashamed about it.

“Industry superannuation, renewable energy, the ABC and universities are all enemies of the government; all have been punished or failed to receive anything like the support received by allies and supporters of the government — big fossil fuel companies, the mining industry, News Corp, irrigators and agriculture and high income earners.”

It’s shocking how obvious this corruption has become. It’s not just government either. Just look at the Crown Casinos inquiry and the latest news today, Australia Post executives being given $3,000 Cartier watches for doing their job! There is obviously a disconnect between upper managements’ idea of propriety and that of the rest of us. I spit!!!!

Bunker bulldust day 212

© PJ Croft 2020

Back again. I feel like writing again so I must be feeling better. Helped by the nice warm weather, no doubt, but not helped by the side effect of the medication I’m taking – insomnia. I suspected this effect last time I was on it about a year ago and I’m sure now. I forgot to take it on Friday and had a really good sleep that night, but took it again yesterday and had a rotten night last night, as every night is now. I regularly see 4am, still awake. I’ll have to ask the doctor for an alternative. It’s lucky I don’t have to be anywhere in the mornings as I’m sleeping late.

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Back to coincidences: in the West yesterday Rob Broadfield wrote about the word marron and how in WA it refers to our freshwater crustacean. But marron is French for chestnut* (I didn’t know that). So in the new episode of Victoria last night, when served her dessert, she says, “Oh, marron glacé, my favourite.” Bingo, twice in one day.

*Actually, it’s French for brown, but chestnut brown is a colour in Anglais, oui?

Likewise, a couple of weeks ago, I read a word I’d never heard before, Ouroboros. It’s the name of the symbol of a snake in a circle swallowing its tail. I read it in a techo article in Wired (yes, really).

The following night in Endeavour on ABC-TV, he sees it on a scroll in the museum and says, “Ouroboros, it’s the symbol used from ancient times to represent eternity.” How’s that, twice in two days for such an obscure word and seen in two such disparate sources! I jumped in surprise.

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It’s very pleasing to see the solid Labour Party win in New Zealand yesterday. Jacinda Ardern is a remarkable woman and leader and I’m a great admirer. I’m an increasing fan of NZ – they seem to do everything well, from what I read anyway. Of course I don’t know everything about the country and I’m sure there are rough edges, but what I’ve seen, I like. I must go there when this damned virus is over.

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I’m up to episode 10 in series three of The Big Bang Theory that I mentioned I’d restarted watching on Netflix. That makes about 50 episodes I’ve watched in the past three weeks or so. I must admit Sheldon is starting to grate but the humour is remarkably consistent.

I’ve just ordered the paperback edition ($10.95) of Kunal Nayyar’s book Yes, My Accent is Real: and Some Other Things I Haven’t Told You. He’s the guy who plays Rajesh Koothrappali. Crikey, his earnings are reported as $20m in 2018 and $23m in 2019, making him the third highest TV acting earner. Nice work!

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I’ve had a Technics portable CD player since the mid ’90s and I’ve used it quite a lot over these last 25 years or so, always with headphones for quiet listening. So I was quite disheartened when it ceased to produce any sound about a year ago.

I put it aside but recently I’ve opened it up, hoping it might be something obvious, but there isn’t.

The guts
The underside, showing the suspected transistors. Too small.

No burnt components, but since it uses only two AA batteries, that’s not surprising.

I suspect it’s the output transistors for the headphone socket, since there’s a certain amount of shorting happening when you put the plug in. But I’ve looked at it and decided it’s a write-off. There’s no way I can desolder these tiny components, and even if I could, I very much doubt I could get replacements. Even if I could, soldering them back in? You need special soldering tools for this work, and it’s expensive.

So, what a pity. This is a lovely piece of work and I really like it, but it looks like it’s going to landfill. Criminy, a laser assembly, a small electric motor, all that fine electronics, destined for the bin. Oh well, at least I can say I’ve had my money’s worth for 25 years. I think it cost somewhere near $250 in 1995, yet I can buy a new one, albeit a fairly low quality generic brand, from Jaycar for $45.

This is the problem with servicing electronics, the parts are dirt cheap, but getting the parts and the cost of the time to do the exceedingly fine work to fix them. It’s cheaper to scrap the item and buy new. What a waste.