Forming planets

What a magnificent graphic. Titled 50 Years of Exploration. Click on it to see it full size. © National Geographic.

Fourth day of winter and it’s a clear, cloudless blue sky outside, around 18C. I hear rain is coming and the wind is stirring the leaves a bit, but we’re well below average in rainfall for the year so far. More please. *see below!


Another magnificent photo:

It’s Chicago, showing the very regular N-S, E-W grid of streets. Again, click to see a bigger image.


Long time no posting, sorry. I’m still suffering from pain, which takes the pleasure out of everything. Right side torso this time. Sharp needle pains, with a nagging dull ache just below the right breast. I have to use the “pain patches”, which help tremendously, but they only last a week and after I remove each one, the relief lasts a week and the pain comes back again. Thank goodness I have them available.

I had a CAT scan and an MRI scan late last year which covered the whole chest, obviously, and no problems were seen. The needle pains are random in location, even extending to my fingers and thumb occasionally, so there’s no precise location. I guess it’s just gettin’ older.


I’ve just made a comment on The On-line Photographer web site ( after the owner, Mike Johnston, wrote a piece praising a book which philosophises that there should be no political parties. I wrote:

“I think it’s human nature to form groupings or teams. Very rarely do we do things in isolation, hence teams become parties. A solitary politician can’t achieve much, if anything.

“It’s akin to something close to my heart, unionism. I just can’t believe it would be better for every worker to negotiate alone with the groups or teams (or unions) of managers.

Every aspect of society forms teams or groups, including employers. Lawyers, doctors, judges, and yes, employers, form teams or groupings or ‘societies’ to argue their case coherently. So should unions of employees. It’s obvious why the modern day ‘robber barons’ are so against unions – it’s divide and conquer in action.

“So to circle back to the point, I can’t see government working without parties. Sooner or later parties would form, like planets coalescing from dust.”

I often think, regarding unions and the bosses’ arguments that all workers should negotiate their wages and conditions individually, that I can think of very, very few aspects of life and sociey where we don’t work as part of a team. Or to put the opposite, that it’s better to work as an individual. Nearly all people, whether employee or employer, works as part of a group or team.

I try to think of anyone who doesn’t belong to a team, and all I can think of is a few creative occupations like painting, writing, literature if you like. Although even those turn to teams if the person wants his/her work shown to a large audience. A writer has to have a publisher or be part of the team which publishes writing, be it just books or newspapers or magazines. Everything needs teamwork to thrive.

So, no, political parties will form whether we like it or not. Just as animals form herds. Even the solitary lion forms a team with a female to raise cubs.


My kitchen ceiling repairs are finally done, thank goodness. A guy came a few weeks ago to install insulation in the roof space, and now I’ve got a dimmer on the kitchen downlights and that is almost that. I’m only waiting on the insurance company, NRMA, to approve the replacement of the dishwasher. I have sent the repairer’s letter through to them, saying its demise was caused by water and rockwool getting into the motor, and I’ve sent a reminder, but although they acknowledge receipt, I haven’t heard anything more yet. They’ve been good so far so I’m not too worried. I’m sick of washing dishes by hand, though. Not that I do it much.

On the other hand, I am fed up and ropeable about the mattress I bought last year. AH Beard, remember that brand and don’t buy it! I don’t think they know how to make mattresses.

After I complained in January that it was too soft, they took the mattress back and “remade” it to a firm setting. At first, that seemed to fix the problem. But it’s reverted to almost the same problem – insufficient support at the edge and a ridge down the middle, such that I feel as if I’m sliding off. I think this has only occurred after I got the mattress back from the repairs.

I’ve stayed silent up to now because they never sent me a bill for the re-work, but I’m thinking of getting stroppy again and demanding my money back. I’ll tell them that I don’t think they know what they’re doing.

Luckily I’m sleeping well and I hardly move when I sleep, so I only notice the problems when I’m just settling down for the night. But, grrrrr!


I’ve been doing a lot of work on the MyHeritage web site on my family tree and I’ve got the Croft side going back as far as William Croft 1393 – 1434. In the line are several Baronets, i.e. members of the House of Lords in Britain. All were associated or lived in Croft Castle, Herefordshire, and the baronetcy and knighthoods were hereditary for a few centuries. There were many sons, though, so where the inherited titles went is very obscure.

Partial tree, to 14th century. Click to see full size.

I must admit I’m sad that my branch of the tree ends with me. Having never married, I have no offspring so that’s that. They heavily push the sale of DNA testing and so far I’ve resisted, but at $87 maybe I should give it a go.

I was never into ancestry, but I must admit I’m chuffed to have got this far. I think this is all I need, though. They’ve sent me advice that my subscription will automatically renew this month for $345, but that’s too expensive. I’m sure I only paid about $85 last year. I’m trying to work out how to stop the auto-renewal. It’s not easy!


Wow, what a fascinating outcome in the trial of Ben Roberts-Smith, that giant of an SAS soldier (6ft 6 inches tall and a bundle of muscle). He sued three newspapers for defamation when they published articles about his and his platoon’s exploits in Afghanistan ten or more years ago. It’s exloded in his face – he lost the case and has been labelled a war criminal, murderer and bully. He’s a Victoria Cross winner, but it’s possible he’ll lose it and possibly face further criminal trial. It’s been a bombshell of a case, probably as bad as anything he faced in the war zone. Wow.


Damn, it looks as if the battery in the Peugeot has died. It won’t take a charge. Last time this happened was in the Honda and the RAC guy used one of his big capacity batteries to “dump” a charge into it. It worked and I’ve had no trouble since. I hope he might be able to do the same with the Pug’s battery.

A friend helped me get the rear number (licence) plate off so I can take t to the police licencing centre to get a new plate for the front. I lost the front plate a few months ago. You have to present the other plate to prove ownership to get a new one. Trouble is, I believe the licencing centre is slow, choked up with queueing and I’m scared to go there as I can’t stand for long. Oh well, gotta try. Gotta get a move on – the car is becoming covered in spiderwebs from standing unused for too long.


I spoke too soon – the clouds are rolling over and the wind’s picking up. Our blue sky day is transitioning to rain. I asked for it and now we’re going to get it, but hooray anyway. I’ve just got my washing down off the line so it will miss out on the rainwater rinse this week. 🙂


Near the finish line

© PJ Croft 2023

Aaaah, another warm 26degC day in our Indian summer, 18 days into autumn and only a couple of weeks away from the start of winter. The seasons have definitely shifted – summer starts later, i.e. well into December, and as I say, it stays warm right through autumn. As well, Perth used to be a really windy city. I hated it.

I really noticed the difference when I went overseas, how calm it was. What’s happened is that the wind band called the Roaring Forties, which used to stretch up over the lower half of the state, has shifted south. That’s fine by me, because as I say, it’s much calmer here now, but it also means we don’t get as many of the rain bearing cloud fronts driven across the lower south west of WA, so less rain.

This happened quite suddenly, 1977 in fact. I clearly remember going on a trip to England in about April that year, and talking to people in pubs about the fact that it hadn’t rained in Perth for four months. Four months! To a Pom, that was remarkable. Or maybe they were just humouring me. Yeah, I think so.


Di’ja watch the coronation? I’ll confess that even though I’m a confirmed republican, even being a member of the ARM, the Australian Rupublican Movement, I still love the pageantry, the colour and the music of the British ceremonies. I started watching when the broadcast started at 3pm our time on the Saturday, and I stayed with it right through to the end at around 11pm our time. I’m almost embarrassed to say it, but I loved it. In fact I even recorded an edited highlights program, 1h 40m long, and I’ve watched about half of that. What a soft headed fool I am.

I couldn’t help noticing how soft and vulnerable Charlie looked. He didn’t have much to do so all he could do was sit there and keep his mouth shut, which he did. It was also very noticeable how much lower Camilla ranked in the proceedings. Although she can’t complain, going from commoner to Queen, she was definitely an “accessory after the fact”.

One point was that, being a fan of George Frideric Handel’s music, I’ve heard Zadok the Priest scores of times, but I didn’t realise how important it is in these royal ceremonies. Handel lived from 1685 to 1759 so the piece was written and performed after the time of Charles the 1st, (1600 to 1649). It has been performed at every coronation since then.

Did you know that Handel and Johan Sebastian Bach were contemporaries? Both were born in 1685 in Germany but moved to London, which was very much a centre of classical music then. Handel’s middle name is Frideric, by the way, not Frederick.

Of course, Shakespeare had lived around that time too, 1564 to 1616, so London was rich with literature and music.


I’m having trouble typing this piece. My computer is really struggling, and it’s a poerful computer. I’m converting six video clips that I downloaded from YouTube from .MKV format to .MP4 format and it’s using all eight cores of my CPU flat out. Everything else is being slowed down under the load. The software tells me there’s 3h and 20mins to go. It’s been going for 40 mins so far. I’m wondering if I should drop one or two of the pieces and do them later.

They’re clips of the UK ceremonial military bands and troops marching for Charlie’s coronation. I’m doing it because I love this marching music and because a friend is coming tomorrow and he’s bringing some of his slide shows to watch on my 4K Ultra Hi-def TV.

I’m hoping to persuade him to get one or more of his three sons to come here and help me with some of the physical stuff I’m doing. I find I’m struggling these days. I find it very hard to get down low and I’m at constant risk of tripping and falling. I tire very easily too. I’m sleeping ten hours a night and another hour or two during the day too. That’s not good.

I have many small jobs to do, but I’m struggling to do them. I need help. I’ll offer things in exchange. I have a lot of electronic stuff to give away.

in fact, surprisingly, my friend said all his sons are converts to film photography. One has even bought a vintage Hasselblad. That’s an expensive camera, even used!


I think my kitchen ceiling repairs are finally finished, after three months! A guy came this morning (at 7:15am!) to install some insulation in the ceiling to replace the “blow-in” rockwool that was lost in the leak.

I think that completes the work, at last. It’s not as nice as it used to be, but it can’t be helped. The kitchen LED down-lights are flush with the timber panels, instead of being recessed, but no-one who wasn’t familiar with the way it was would notice. They’re on a dimmer now, so that’s good. I wasn’t aware – in my day (say 20-30 years ago), a dimmer was a separate switch panel, but now it’s a snap-in replacement for the switch in a standard switch plate. You still need to be an electrician to swap the wires over, but apart from that it’s two minute job. Easy. I didn’t know that.

The insurance company, NRMA, are willing to accept that the demise of my dishwasher was caused by the water and rockwool insulation getting into the motor, and will add it onto the payout. Good one! I’ve been quite pleased with NRMA’s insurance coverage – they’ve done it all. I’m quite happy. Recommended.


You win some, you win some

Battleship USS Missouri, 3 February 1988, off Fremantle © PJ Croft 1988, 2023

Beautiful days at the moment, highs of 22 – 25degC. Not much rain this week, but we had some ripper showers last week. It’s going to be a wet weekend coming up, though the more rain the better.


I’m writing this at 5am – I’m having terrible sleep problems these days. Restless legs! It’s awful! I don’t know if you’re aware of it but at night, I just cannot resist moving my legs and tightening my leg muscles, while clenching my glutes (buttocks). The result is that I just can’t lie still. I’m writhing around in the bed.

The result is that I have to get up and do stuff on the computer until it goes away, usually 4 or 5am. I then sleep until 9am or 10am, or even later. It’s a complete waste of the morning.

I don’t know of any cure for the condition. I’m taking magnesium already, for cramps, but it doesn’t help this. Dr Google is no help. I’ve been given a list of specialists in Perth, but I feel it will just cost me a big fee for no real help. Reluctant.


I really enjoy the time at the computer, though. There’s a guy in New Hampshire, USA, called Waldo, who runs a Youtube channel called Waldo’s World. Although his day job is as a computer specialist (programming, mainly), he dovotes all his spare time buying and fixing cars, tractors, trucks and earth moving equipment on his enormous block on the woods.

He seems to be completely self taught in all his wrenching and mechanic work, and he also makes things in steel, ranging from a broken part for a car, to making a ginormous gooseneck trailer.

He’s a self taught welder and it’s fascinating to see how he develops and welds bits together. It’s inspiring.

I’m a follower of several Youtube channels, such as Rainman Ray, a motor mechanic, and a couple of model railway guys. The only problem is that some of these guys are so boring that I have to just pick the eyes out of their presentations.


Speaking of model railways, I’ve been collecting all the necessary bits and pieces for around six years so far. Obviously I need track, and I bought a box of track all those years ago. The long box has been sitting on a shelf in the garage all this time, and when I calculated how much track I’ll need, I realised I was a bit short, so I ordered another box (of 30 x 1m lengths), cost $237.

But surprise, surprise, last week I moved the box in the garage and there was another box hidden behind it! Unopened. That’s great – it means I can do anything I like, any design, and I have plenty of track to do it now that I have three boxes of 30x1m. I foresee a winding mountain track, perhaps.


Uh oh. I said last week that I tried to start the Peugeot and it seemed as if the battery was weak or flat. Well, I’ve had the battery on charge for three days now and it doesn’t seem to want to take the charge. It’s only flashing the charge light weakly and measures only around 6V. I hope it’s not completely dead.


The images above show two cans of a non-alco mixed drink. Note that the ring pulls are unbroken, i.e. the cans have not been opened. But one of the cans is empty and the other is only about 1/3 full. Yet another example of deceptive packaging.

Here’s another:

Look at the size of the box, compared with the size of the contents. There’s no reason to make the box so much bigger, to allow for “settling” as they say. It’s just another example of short measure, ripping us off. I’m sick of it.


It’s now nine weeks since the ceiling collapse and I’m still waiting on the repairers. They’ve been out once, to measure up and work out what to do, but that was three weeks ago and I’m still waiting. They are supposed to come today, Wednesday, to do the work.

UPDATE: it’s 10.15am and they turned up at 7.15am as promised. They’re working on the new ceiling now. It’s all good so far.

I give NRMA Insurance credit – they’ve phoned and emailed me a couple of times to ask how it’s going. They phoned me yesterday to enquire and I told the lady nothing’s happened. She said they’d get onto the repairers.

However, she asked me if I want to claim for the glassware and crockery that was broken when the panel fell on the sink. I said no, I don’t even know what was broken and it wasn’t enough to worry about.

But I took the opportunity to say that my dishwasher has died, unfixable, and I feel it was caused by water and rockwool insulation from the ceiling getting into the dishwasher motor.

That’s fine, she said, she’ll just add the cost of a new machine onto my claim. No trouble. They just want a report from the repairer. Whacko! That saves me about $1,000 for a new machine. That’s a good result.


Battleship USS Missouri, 3 Feb 1988. © PJ Croft 2023

I’ve been watching Netflix lately and one program in particular, The Diplomat. WOW! This has to be one of the best shows I’ve seen in years.

It’s about a woman who’s sent to London to be the US ambassador to the UK. Working out of the US embassy in London.

The complication is that she has her husband along with her. He’s also been a US ambassor to some other country in the past, and he seems to be a spare in this posting. He doesn’t know whether to speak up or just be a “wife” to his wife. It’s complicated.

The storyline is that there’s a very bad attack against one of the UK’s aircraft carriers in the Arabian Gulf. They suspect Iran, and the UK prime minister wnats to launch a revenge attack, but then evidence appears that it wasn’t Iran afterll, and things get very complicated and very dangerous. It’s a fascinating and complex story. All set in magnificent rooms in London and Paris.

This has to be one of the best Netflix series I have ever seen. It’s magnificent. It’s only eight episodes and it ends in an ambiguous way, implying that there’s more to the story. I hope so.

I’m also re-watching the Attorney Woo Young-Woo for a second time. I watched it about a year ago and it’s definitely worth watching again.

It’s a South Korean series, about a young woman called Woo Young Woo, who is autistic, but has a photographic (eidetic) memory and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Seoul University in law. She’s able to recall masses of text and images from the law texts and wins many cases in this way.

I don’t know if the actress playing the role is autistic herself, but it’s a magnificen performance. Good enough for me to watch the whole series again.


It’s 11.30am on Thursday 20 April 2023 and this is the eclipse at very near totality. There’s a greyness when I look outside and a slight chill in the air. It’s almost totally silent, and the wind has dropped to stillness. No birds are cheeping either. It feels eery.


I did a long drive yesterday, from my place in Butler, “way oop north” 45km north of the city, to Rockingham, about 35km south of the city. Why? I chose to go there to see a specialist physician, in her suburban office. Just because I felt like a long drive.

But the road works along the freeway! Holy smoke, will they ever finish? This freeway (we’ve only got one 🙂 ) has been under change for the last three years, at least. It never seems to end. I was down to slower than walking pace at one point.

I was going to take the Peugeot, despite its missing front number plate, but when I went to start it, “click” and I got just a bunch of warning lights. No go. I hope it’s only a flat battery. I haven’t been driving it lately due to the missing number plate, but I started it and ran it in the garage a couple of weeks ago without trouble. I hope the battery only needs a charge and is not dead. It’s in the boot, and is a bit difficult to get leads onto.

By the way, the specialist physician’s fee for about a 45 mins consultation was $390. Ugh! Medcare pays $245 of that, so that helps.


Therefore I took the Honda MDX and as always, it was smooth and trouble free. It’s a 3.5 litre V6 with fuel injection, twin OHC, 4 speed automatic, with cruise control. Unfortunately it weighs over 2 tonnes so it’s no sports car. I ended up with 14.9 l/100km, not great.

The aircon needs regassing too. Not that I needed it. It was a beautiful 26deg day, with a cloudless sky.


“Amid the incessant cries of budget constraints we lose sight of the fact we are one of the wealthiest countries in the world.

“We can somehow afford the stage-three tax cuts, hundreds of billions on submarines, generous capital gains tax concessions on investment properties, billions of dollars in fossil fuel subsidies and we can afford not to tax windfall profits. But we can’t afford to look after Australians who need our support.”

These are the words of Senator David Pocock, an independent in federal parliament with a platform of action on climate change, and other social needs.

Exactly! For the life of me, I cannot see why we should be using taxpayer money to subsidise fossil fuel companies! The stage three tax cuts refers to a scheme brought in by the previous conservative government (“the rich man’s friends”) to reduce taxes on the wealthiest people in the country. Why should we? They tax-dodge their way out of paying tax anyway. If you’re a millionaire in Australia, paying tax is optional. There are so many “clever” accountants finding loopholes in the taxation act that even the cost of hiring the tax avoiding accountant is deductible. It’s obscene.

The “windfall profits” refers to fossil fuel, coal and gas companies vastly increasing their profits from the big increases in commodity prices due to the war in Ukraine and the sanctions against Russia. Yet, somehow taxing these windfall profits is too hard. I’m fed up with this.

The fact is that the Reserve Bank’s increases in interest rates to control inflation are crushing the poorest people, the ones who can least afford it. People on $150k and above don’t notice these interest rate increases. All it means is that they earn more interest on their savings and investment accounts.



At 12.10pm we’re well past totality of the eclipse:

It looks as bright as normal outside now. It only got dim in Perth, not the near total darkness they would have seen in Exmouth. Oh well, the next eclipse is a few years away. I’ll see it again then.


There’s a lot of discussion about monochrome cameras lately. Monochrome? This is where the sensor has its colour filters removed, so that it only produces black and white images (and all the greys in between, of course).

Pentax has just released such a camera, the K-3 Mk III Monochrome.

To me, this is an exceedingly beautiful camera, but for it to be incapable of capturing colour information? You must be crazy. The price is USD$2,300 (~A$3,400) by the way.

Yet my favourite photo blogger, Mike Johnston of The On-line Photographer regards this as very desirable. I own a Pentax K-5:

It’s one of my favourite cameras (I have about 11 digital cameras! Plus four film cameras 🙂 ), although it doesn’t get much use due to its size and weight, especially when I carry the extra lenses I have for it. I have:

  • Sigma 10-20mm (= 15-30mm in 35mm film terms)
  • Sigma 28-135mm (= 42-200mm)
  • Pentax 12-45mm (= 18-67mm)
  • Pentax 55-200mm (= 82-300mm)
  • Sigma 120-400mm (= 180-600mm)
  • Pentax 50mm (= 75mm)

    This represents a heavy bag, so I rarely carry the first and last Sigma lenses. They are heavy!

    Anyway, I’m waffling. I was out driving yesterday (Wednesday) and around 5pm I was driving through a smoky haze, from burning off. It was very beautiful, with soft shadows and warm colours.

    I was driving through the Kwinana industrial area and I spied a huge white oil storage tank, you know, those enormous round pots with a spiral ladder up the side.

    So this one looked creamy white, with a red logo of some kind on the side. The shadows were bluish. I instantly recognised it as “a picture”! But the traffic was such that I couldn’t stop. In any case, I didn’t have my camera with me, except for my phone camera. So I lost the shot. Damn.

    It occurred to me last night that if I had the software called Dall-E, I could generate that picture by artificial intelligence, just by describing it in words. Lawdy, what’s the world coming to?


Trinity College Library, Dublin.

For my foreign readers, the title is Aussie Strine for “Did you have a good weekend?”

Easter’s been and gone. I’m not religious, although I do wonder at the mystery of the story of Jesus and the crucifixion. I find it easier to believe that a scientific explanation exists. A bright star appears in the sky – a supernova. A virgin birth – pregnancies can have strange causes. A guy grows up doing good things – is that so strange? Miracles? To a primitive people, many things would seem miraculous. And so on.

I find it easier to believe that Jesus was a space born visitor from another civilisation. He could have been carrying knowledge and instruments that could perform miracles, by the standards of the time.

The miracle I see is that this story has endured for 2,000 years and still exerts such a strong influence, even today in this age of science and technological “magic”.

What makes me angry is that there is so much conflict between the different religions. Even Christians fight among themselves – Catholics versus Protestants. The hatred between Sunni versus Shi’ite Muslims. The warfare between Muslims and Christians. And on and on ….

I reject religion! It has caused more deaths and suffering throughout history than any other cause. I don’t need it and I don’t want it.


It always rains at Easter. That’s been my mantra for as long as I can remember, and it’s been fulfilled again this Easter. We got a lot of rain this afternoon. Good! Happy day! We need all we can get.


I’ve been spending a lot of time adding details to my family tree on the MyHeritage web site, and it’s paying off. There are more than 670 ancestors and current family members. Remember that each of us has two parents, and each parent had two parents, and each had two … it goes on and on.

What I’ve found most interesting lately is that one of my ancestors on Dad’s side, the Croft side, was Sir James Guerin Croft, MP, Lord Deputy of Ireland:

The couple at bottom right, Ernest Carrington Croft and Doris Arabelle Greentree were Dad’s parents, my grandparents. So there’s the line, from 1518 through to now, seven generations. I’m trying to find the earlier links, before 1517. I’ll get there.

On Mum’s side, the name Lawrie is very strong, from Scotland, from around 1719 so far.


I’m not feeling very well these days, hence the absence of blog posts. Always tired, always feeling “a bit” sick, the feeling of having the ‘flu, although I don’t think that’s what it is. I’m doing a lot of sleeping, to excess, really. Thyroid tablets haven’t helped much. Antibiotic for a bladder infection haven’t helped, although they have in the past. I dunno.


I don’t much like the styling of modern cars. Gargoyles, I call them. for example:

But I’m a fan of the latest Korean cars, and this one in particular:

Hyundai Ioniq 6 (it reminds me of early VWs).

It’s an EV, which also doesn’t do much for me (I like a V6 turbo or a V8 any day), but I like this! If I could afford it (which I can’t) I’d buy one tomorrow.

How Low Can You Go

Jindalee Beach (C) PJ Croft 2017

Wow, it’s a sting in the tail of summer – three weeks into autumn, and at the autumnal equinoxe, it was 37C on Tuesday last week, 33C the next, 28degC today. It’s hot! It’s slowly cooling down, thank goodness, but we’re still looking at high twenties for the rest of this week. Our summer 2022/23 was actually quite cool, in the sense that we had no days or 40C or above. That’s a bit unusual, and I’ll take it, but I don’t think it means that global heating is not happening.

As well, it’s been dry! I think the figure was 1.4mm of rain for the entire three months of summer. I don’t like that. We need rain.

PS: last night we had rain, rain, rain! 38mm on the second last day of March. Whoopee!

The warning, this morning, that unless something is done to change our CO2 emissions, i.e. our greenhouse gas emissions, then we’re going to exceed the 1.5degC increase in our average temperatures and permanently damage the entire Earth’s climate, for the worse. This is serious!

Yet the big emitters and the coal and gas industries are barrelling along as if nothing needs to change. Glencore, the big company wanting to develop a huge coal mine in the Hunter Valley in NSW, is fighting tooth and nail to start digging. The only thing stopping them are the Aborigines opposing the plans.

Personally, at age 76 I won’t live to see the worst effects of climate change, but I’m afraid it’s too late. Money rules! Money will override all other considerations and mining and petroleum will go on, as long as people demand share returns for their superannuation funds. This is the point, we all want change for the good, as long as it doesn’t adversely affect us. T’was ever thus.


Anyone who reads this blog knows that I am left wing, so left wing that I’m to the left of the present government, the Australian Labor Party. when I swim, I swim in anti-clockwise circles. I have to ask pilots of aircraft to apply a bit of right rudder. I loathe the conservatives, the Liberal Party in Australia.

How anyone can support a party which knowingly broke the law to take vindictive action against low income earners in the infamous scheme which has become known as Robodebt is beyond me. The result of this infamous scheme was that at least several people committed suicide when they were pursued by government appointed debt collectors, when they didn’t actually owe any money! The relevant ministers knew they were implementing an unlawful scheme, yet they chose to ignore the law and continue. As a result, people died!

The reason I mention this is because I’ve just heard, this afternoon, on the PBS News Hour (a US publicly funded broadcasting organisation, so reasonably credible and impartial), something which I didn’t know, and I bet you didn’t either.

It’s that after Ronald Reagan’s win after Jimmy Carter’s (Democrat) term as president, the Republicans wanted some good news to announce at Reagan’s inauguration. At this time, the Iran hostage crisis was in progress, where all the staff of the US embassy in Tehran, 52 people, were held hostage, violating all the rules of the Geneva Convention.

The hostage crisis was nearing its end, with negotiations having presaged the release of the hostages. But the Republican administration and Reagan’s new Secretary of State ordered that the release of the hostages be delayed until the day after Reagan’s inauguration ceremony! The hostages were formally released into United States custody the day after the signing of the Algiers Accords, just minutes after American President Ronald Reagan was sworn into office.

What a low act, and in my opinion, typical of the low acts that conservatives in any country will go to. I loathe conservatives for reasons like this.


I’ve just found out, today, that a photography web site DP Review, a site that I’ve been avidly reading since the early ’00s, is to close down on 10 April. Damn! This is like learning that the ABC is to shut down, or any similar web presence that has been a part of our lives for a long time.

DP Review was started by a British guy, Phil Askey, in London in 1998. I found it during the early days of digital cameras and it’s been one of my favourite sites ever since. I visit it daily.

Unfortunately, very unfortunately, it was bought out by Amazon and moved holus bolus to Seattle in Washington State, USA in 2007.

As we should have expected, Amazon has decided it has to close, as a result of massive staff cuts through the whole company. DP Review only has 14 staff, for goodness sakes, but Amazon management don’t care about small things like that.

That’s bad enough, but DP Review has a massive database of camera information, technical specs, cameras tests and the same for lenses. Surely this can’t be lost to us? Surely even the 200lb gorilla that is Amazon couldn’t trash this information? We can only hope.

(PS: apparently a dedicated group are frantically downloading as much of the web site as they can before it disappears.)

Och aye! Inspiration

Isle of Skye, Cuillin Mountains © P. J. Croft 2008, 2023

An item on Petapixel about landscape photography, a series of three YouTube five minute episodes by two British landscape photographers. Yeeeaaah, right up my alley.

It sparked my memories of my 2008 trip around Dornie, Applecross and the Isle of Skye. What a fantastic trip that was! I took hundreds of photos and I’ve brought a few out to show. The opening shot was on a day so windy that I could hardly hold the camera upright on the tripod.

Cuillin Mts, Isle of Skye. Click to get a much larger image. © P. J. Croft 2008, 2023
A General Wade bridge, so called because he was the British general who ordered it built during “The Clearances” in the 17thC, when the impoverished Scots crofters were driven off their lands (cleared) to make way for British sheep farmers or graziers. Many starved to death. It’s just one reason for Scots to hate the British. The Scots have long memories.
Stromeferry © P. J. Croft 2008, 2023
On the road to Applecross © P. J. Croft 2008, 2023
Isle of Skye NE © P. J. Croft 2008, 2023
Glencoe. Click to get a big full sized image. © P. J. Croft 2008, 2023

I sure wish I could redo that whole two month trip.


By the way, I shot around 1,000 High Def video clips on the trip, and they’re still on my hard drive labelled Video. Problem is, the drive has failed. It’s not making clicking noises luckily (a sure sign the heads are contacting the disk surface, disaster). It’s actually totally silent, meaning I think the motor has failed. This can be fixed and the data retrieved, I think. But at a cost – maybe $500 or more. The failure happened nearly a year ago and I still haven’t made the move to get it fixed. I do have a backup, so it’s not urgent, but as the faulty disk is 3TB and has hundreds of more recent video and images, I don’t want to lose it.

As disk sizes are becoming so large, backup is difficult. I’m actually thinking I may need to buy a RAID array which has redundancy built in, to guard against these failures. I’ve actually got 4x 4TB drives brand new awaiting a drive aray, but cost is a factor.


By the way, I bought a 1TB micro-SD card last week, from the web site for $8.80!

I’m always suspicious of these ultra cheap things as they can be made to look like 1TB, but only format to 100MB or similar. This one seems OK so far, but I’ll make sure it’s trustworthy before I, er, trust it.

A hotch potch

Venice. © P. J. Croft 2008, 2023

Aaah, the tail end of summer, and it’s cloudy outside but still warm enough to have the aircon on. It looked a bit like rain earlier, but no such luck. Damn, more fine weather. ~:(


This is crazy, and almost immoral. The Reserve Bank (Australia’s central bank) has raised interest rates for the last ten months in a row, from a low of 0,1% in 2010 to 3.6% now. They’re doing this to try to kill inflation by reducing demand. That is, if people don’t have the money to buy goods, then the demand will fall and the prices must either stay steady or fall. That’s the theory.

The effect is that home loan interest rates charged by the banks have risen sharply. When the Reserve Bank rate was 0,1%, the banks were encouraged to make as many housing loans as they could. This was supposed to lift the economy by increasing demand for building services and materials.

What’s more, the governor of the Reserve Bank said a couple of times that he didn’t expect the prime rate to rise before around 2024. The result was that people rushed the banks to take out mortgages at this bargain rate, with the expectation that they would have at least three years to get established.

But now they are being crushed by this sudden rise in the rate. People took out huge mortgages (as they have to be able to afford a house in Sydney and Melbourne) but now, relatively suddenly, they’re finding their repayments have risen to alarming levels. Many people are finding they can’t make the payments.

I don’t have any qualifications in economics but I think this stinks. The effect is to remove money from the economy, sure, and hence reduce demand, but the money is just flowing to the banks in the form of higher loan repayments. The banks are laughing all the way to the bank, so to speak. They are reaping bumper profits.

This is immoral. With the aim of reducing inflation, the Reserve Bank is severely hurting ordinary wage earners, to the extent that many, many people are finding they can’t afford the basics such as school expenses, sport costs, transport and even food. Pleas to charities have risen dramatically.

Yet the rise in interest rates has no effect at all on wealthy people, even increasing their wealth by rising deposit rates and investment returns. The reserve Bank’s policies are regressive, hurting the lowest income people yet helping the highest income people.

A solution to this was in an article last week. If the Bank wants to remove money from the economy to reduce demand, instead of funnelling it to the banks, why not introduce a temporary method where are certain percentage of people’s income is diverted to a government regulated savings account. This would be quarantined until some time in the future when the funds “saved” would be released to the individual, to be withdrawn and used. It would be similar to superannuation, just with different rules about withdrawal.

This would reduce demand in the same way as now, but stop the money flowing to the banks as windfall profits.

And there’s the answer: the banks and other wealthy institutions have tremendous power to persuade governments to do what they want, not what’s good for the customer. Such common sense would never get off the ground. Phut!


That’s interesting. I named this post with a phrase I use sometimes, hotch potch, meaning a mixture, and looked it up in (as I very frequently do). They don’t recognise hotch potch but this is what they say:


Anyway, I was going through my Downloads folder just now and thought I’d do a post showing the hotch potch of things I’ve kept in the past few months and years.

First, I came across a website that shows all the undersea data cables around the world. Wow!

Our part of the world of data cables. Look at Singapore! They are becoming one of the richest, most highly developed tech countries in the world.
The big social media companies even have their own cables!

Next, a nice picture:

London, Hyde Park and Green Park.

A computer Central Processing Unit (CPU). All those pins are connections to the silicon wafer embedded under the small blocks in the middle. The overall dimensions are about 50x50mm, but the silicon wafer with all the billion transistors or more that do the job is about 10mm square.

More later.


It’s nearly 5.30pm, when I move to the meals area table to watch Hard Quiz on the ABC. I’m a bit addicted to this program and as far as I know, I’ve watched every Wednesday night episode. Yet most of these early (before the news) daily episodes are new to me. How come? Have I seen them and forgotten them? Anyway. I enjoy this show.


I’ve been testing my model locomotives on a 12V battery last night, and here’s a couple with their skin off:

This is a Kato model. I bought the decoder and substituted it for the simple one the loco came with. You can see how complex it is, with all those seven integrated circuits.
Side view of the above Kato loco.

This is another bought loco with DCC decoder already fitted.

Nearly ready to start laying track. Lucky I live alone — my dining table is covered edge to edge with train stuff, magazines, books, electronic parts, tools, you name it. I just push a bit aside to make room for my dinner plate. Hah!

Summer’s end

Kings Park, Perth, Western Australia 19 January 2005 © PJ Croft

Well, as I sit here in the air-conditioning with fans on and 37degC outside, it’s the first day of autumn. To readers in cooler and wetter climates, would you believe we only had 1.4mm of rain in the whole three months of summer. That’s pretty dry.

However, it was a relatively easy summer to endure, if that’s the right word. We had no maximums of 40deg or above, whereas we usually get two or three in a typical summer. So it has been quite pleasant.

But to cap it off, we’re in the middle of a heat wave at the moment – we’ve had maximums of 35C or above for the last five days, and tomorrow will be 37C too.

Summer is my favourite season, although I love Spring as well, with its cool dewy mornings in October and November. Luckily, we have one every year!


I continue working on my model railway, although I admit it’s still mostly only on paper (or more correctly, on a screen).

I found this layout on the web, with no details whatever, and especially with no dimensions. It took me a long time to work out how to size it, and the result is shown above. The top part of the L shape is 2.385m and the left side is 2.05m, which are workable dimensions.

The coloured rectangles are the sizes of base board that I plan to use. I’ll build the layout in sections, then bolt the base boards together when in use. You’ll notice the white dots on the tracks along each join line of the base boards. These are breaks in the tracks, which will have to align precisely when the boards are bolted together.

This is a bit ambitious and fraught with potential difficulties in getting the tracks to line up along the joins. I may have given myself a source of ulcers. I foresee being able to get one part of the track to align properly, but being unable to get another part to line up.

I’ve been thinking that it might be easier to make the sections bigger, that is, two base boards in one. Hmmmm.

Here’s the track on its own:

I’ve realised that this layout incorporates two reverse loops, one on each leg of the L. I think it’s only the inner pair of tracks, but each will need to include an automatic reverse loop switch. The problem arises because when a powered pair of rails rejoins the main line through a point, the polarity of the rails must be reversed as a train goes through the point. It’s done by an electronic circuit:

Fundamentals of a reverse loop © Silicon Chip

I’ve bought the bits for one of these from Silicon Chip magazine in Sydney, but I’ve realised I need two. I’ve also had a box of 25 x 1m lengths of rails on my shelf for a few years. I thought that would easily be enough, but by the magic of my railway design project, I find I need 50.86m, so I’ve had to buy another box of 30 lengths (at a cost of $237).

Here’s the latest count of locos:

This will be a very strange working layout. I’ve got a mix of US diesels (the two Santa Fe models, the blue/white Electromotive and the blue Conrail), an Australian livery diesel marked BHP Billiton from the Pilbara iron ore mines, and two UK inter-city and suburban railways (the blue/yellow Metronet and the dark green Dragon). It would be hard to think of a location where all those came together!

I don’t plan to even try to make a consistent location. I’ll just make a completely fictional scene, with a mix of industrial and suburban localities. You’ll notice – no steam, either. I’m not interested in “old” stuff. I only want modern diesels.

This is a rich man’s hobby. I haven’t kept count, but I estimate I’ve bought around $3,000 worth of bits over the past seven years. I think I’ve got everything I need now, although a model railway is NEVER finished. I’ll probably continue buying bits and pieces. A man can never have enough locos and rolling stock.

Stop Press: I’ve found this picture:

An iron ore train in the Pilbara, WA. Those locos up front – that’s what I’ve got!


It feels as if Ive got everything except the energy to build it. I wish I was a power supply and could plug myself in to 240V on the wall. I feel so tired all the time. I’ve been tested for thyroid and found deficient, so I’m on the fourth day of thyroxine medication for it. It takes a couple of weeks to work, they tell me. I hope it works soon.

I had my fifth COVID vaccination on Sunday, the booster to cope with the Omicron-variant. Fingers crossed, I haven’t had the virus. I only know one person who has, and she said it wasn’t too bad. That’s good to know.

The week just past …

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

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


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

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


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

Nikon P950, 24-2000mm lens.

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

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

Well, I got a shot of Mars:

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

© Antoine and Dalia Grelin via Petapixel

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


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

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


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

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


And speaking of hoons, scammers!

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

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


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

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


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

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

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