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.

Bunker balderdash day 193

Mt Bromo, Java, 1989. See the words made from rocks down there? People climb down the steep slope onto the floor of an active volcano. More foolish than me. © PJ Croft 2020

What a dull, grey day. Not cold, but not warm either.

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I subscribe to Crikey.com.au (and I wish you would too, in the interests of supporting independent media). As a subscriber I can make comments, and they tell me that if I wish to comment anonymously, they’ve allocated me a nom de plume, Aged Crock. How appropriate. I like it. I think I’ll use it elsewhere too.

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I arranged for a mobile mechanic to come here today to get four small jobs done on the Honda MDX. He arrived four hours late, but at least they kept me informed that he’d be late.

The jobs were: 1. replace the throttle position sensor; 2. change the brake light switch; 3. install the new driver’s side rear door power locking mechanism; and 4. pull the roof lining down and reseat the connector to the roof mounted antenna.

Luckily, it was all done in half an hour so it only cost me 0,5hr labour plus the callout fee of $89, so all up it cost $160. (The guy said he lives in Butler, so that’s handy.)

But I only got half what I wanted.

  1. the throttle problem was not due to the part I thought it was. When I pointed to the firewall mounted part that I had the replacement for, he said no, that’s for the cruise control. Huh? I don’t understand, I have the diagrams from the manual showing it, naming it. But he pulled the air inlet off the inlet manifold and operated and lubricated the butterfly valve with CRC. He reconnected it and Bob’s your uncle, away she went. It wasn’t the part after all.
    That’s $70 wasted on the part, but I’m glad it was so simple.
  2. the brake light switch was an easy job. I had to persuade him to put my new one in but he did. At least that eliminates one suspect in it intermittently dropping out of cruise. It was a cheap part so even if it’s not the problem, it’s only $12.
  3. that damned door lock. He had the bright idea of seeing if it would actuate when it was still out of the door. It wouldn’t! This is a new part from Amazon. Damn. He noticed that there are no pins in one of the connectors – that could be a good reason. So now I’m back to dismantling this brand new part to see why there are no connections. Damn! I’m sick of this job. It should be easy but it stymies me every time.
  4. finally, the radio antenna problem. He was able to pull the roof lining down and he (but not I) could see the connector on the roof antenna. He said it was properly seated. He got a piece of wire and used that as an antenna – no improvement! It seems that there really is a break in the cable somewhere in the roof or the loom down through the pillar and into the back of the dash.
    Damn! That’s too hard to fix. It looks as if I’ll have to fit a new antenna on the front guard and feed it through behind the dash, bypassing the car’s antenna completely. That’s the simplest thing to do, but it’ll be another $100 at least as I’ll have to get it professionally fitted. I’m not game to drill through the body as I don’t know where is safe. Grrr.

I think my lawnmower guy will buy the car and as much as I like it, I think I should sell it to him. I’m tired of all these little problems. They’re not serious, just annoying.

That means I’ll have to put the original Honda radio/CD changer back in. I don’t want to part with the Pioneer AV unit I bought and installed. The original is fine.

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Anyway, I want to buy my next car:

Peugeot 407 Wagon. Six cylinder 2.7l diesel. Every luxe item, leather, cruise, power sunroof. The rear window opens up independently of the tailgate.

I just love the styling. Most of them are priced at about $4,500 – $8,000. There’s one in Perth, a 2011 model, for $6,000. I’ve made an enquiry.

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Bunker bulldust day 191

Endeavour 1990 © PJ Croft 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

or by Month display
and Day display.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bunker bulldust day 189

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Me, Grandma, brother, Mum 1964

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bunker bulldust day 186

Cunderdin, 1955. Oh, to be slim again.

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

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

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

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

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

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Happier times. About 1962.

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

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

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

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

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Last issue.

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

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

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

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

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

Bunker bulldust day 183

Me at age one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Chinese fishing fleet plundering the Galapagos Islands.

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

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

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

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

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

Bunker bulldust day 178

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

Aaah, 27deg today. Hoorah!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hanoi 2014. © PJ Croft 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bunker bulldust day 176

Penang 1990 © PJ Croft 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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Malacca 1990 © PJ Croft 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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