A mickle muckle


Have you seen the petrol price today? $1.62 a litre! That’s the highest I’ve ever seen it in Perth, as far as I know. Actually, I can check because I always write the details of every fill into a notebook, including the price per litre. The notebook lives in the car so I’ll have a quick scan later.


I heard a Nullarbor driver say it was about $2 a litre out there last week. He was heading for Perth from Melbourne to see his beloved Demons get thrashed. He should have saved his money and watched it on TV. Go the Weagles.


I have internet radio now and Sapristi-nockolds, there’s a UK station that plays nothing but Goon Shows, back to back, end to end, side by side all day and night.

ABC Radio National used to play a show every Friday morning at 5.30am. I was an avid listener for years in the oughties, but they eventually shut it down, around 2010 or so. Actually, they played a radio comedy half hour every morning, Hancock’s Half Hour, Round the Horn, Just a Minute and so on, but no more. I got used to waking just before 5.30 and used to record some of these shows on my Mini-disc recorder. I still have scores of these discs among the roughly 100 discs I have. I copied all the Goon Shows to my hard drive, about 109 shows, but now I can listen to the radio at any time. I’ve heard them all before, but it doesn’t matter how many times, I always hear something new and still laugh. Priceless.


Aaah, Mini-disc – it’s regarded as just one of Sony’s failures like Betamax, but it’s not a failure for me. I own three recorder/players: one Sony hi-fi deck;


one Sharp component deck with CD, Mini-disc and AM/FM radio;

Sharp MD deck

and a Sony portable Mini-disc Walkman about 100mm square and 15mm thick, running on one AA battery which lasts for ages.

MD Walkman

Plus I have about 100 recordable and erasable discs. They’re pretty hard to buy now, but that lot should last me a lifetime. Actually, I’ve just found that they’re still available on eBay, but range from about $5 to $9 per disc.

One reason they’ll last a lifetime is that they’re virtually indestructable. They’re enclosed in a plastic caddy with a sliding metal closure to protect them from dust.


To erase or record on them requires both a laser and a magnetic field (they’re more properly called magneto-optical discs). That means they’re impervious to external magnetic fields, so you could put them in a bulk eraser and they’d be fine. So as long as they’re protected from dust and scratches, they’ll last forever. They used to cost about $3 each and hold 650MB or one CD, 76 minutes.

Having the radio and one of these loaded, I can instantly go to Record if I hear something I want to preserve. To erase, just use the menu and it erases the file table in a second.

When I was at the old TV station, they used to use ¼” endless loop tape cartridges extensively, including in the newsroom. These were pretty reliable but needed regular cleaning and maintenance and the tape was prone to damage. Being endless loops, if you wanted to find something it was guess work and waiting. Erasing required a bulk eraser. Old technology.

In the ’90s I was asked to investigate alternatives and recommend something better. I had been using Mini-discs at home for years and Sony made professional decks, so naturally I included this along with two other systems (including a PC based file server) in my report, with a strong recommendation for MD.

Sony_MiniDisc_MD_Recorder_MDS-81   Sony broadcast MD deck.

Amazingly, my recommendation was acted on and the journalists and editors loved them, with their fast and precise cueing (setting a start point) and instant access. That was one of the first nails in the coffin of tape.

These days a PC file server system would be pretty easy to find and use, but in those days (mid ’90s) Windows PCs were still pretty clunky and a bit hard to use for most people (especially journos 🙂 )


A good mate has bought himself a used BMW 530, 2006 model, for a very reasonable price. Beautiful car, in excellent condition, and it got me looking at ads myself, mainly on the Facebook Marketplace. Lots and lots of cheap cars there, some of them in good condition but many that look pretty dodgy.

I got the hots, briefly, for a 2006 BMW X5 4WD SUV, asking $8,500. It looks from the photos to be in immaculate condition. It would be a 3 or 4 litre V8, auto.

But I bought a BMW magazine and talked to another mate who owns one and was thoroughly frightened off. The magazine is full of horror stories about the things that go wrong with BMWs, including one guy who says outright that certain throttle actuators fail far more than they should, as if they were poorly designed and bound to fail. But they fail at around the 100,000km mark long out of warranty. The new replacements cost £2,000 each, £2,300 fitted. He refurbishes them, replacing the electronic components that fail, and plastic gears that wear, for £225 each with a lifetime warranty.

That’s just one story, but there are so many known problems that you take your life in your hands buying a used BMW, far more so than a Japanese car. Same for Mercedes, from what I’ve read. The fact is that German cars fail, and fail badly, after their early years.

The BMW 7-series, the top of the line, are very electronic, with many components having integral electronic controllers. All these controllers have the vehicle’s chassis number encoded into them, so buying cheap replacements won’t work, as the car won’t recognise them. You have to buy from BMW at BMW’s prices to get parts that will work. Clever…

My mate mentioned that although his X5 has been reliable, each rear tyre costs $700, because they’re very wide and are run-flats and you only have a choice of two brands. Similarly, a replacement battery is $700.

I think I’ve lost my lust for a BMW, and a Mercedes for that matter.


I’m trying to retrieve data from a couple of failed SATA hard drives, 2TB models. I set a software program going a couple of hours ago, and it still has 4hrs 10mins to go. I’d cancel, except that it has shown three files as recoverable so far, so I don’t want to give up.

This was a disaster – one 2TB drive was the internal disk, and the other was an external backup drive. They have both failed! I don’t know why or how. Pretty bad luck. It may be possible to retrieve the data but I’m not optimistic.


So what’s new?


Sunset Lovina  26 August 2016   © PJ Croft 2018

Another day, another example of management dishonesty and criminality. The news item from this morning is gone already, but a former manager of a finance industry regulatory body, who moved to become CEO of a building society, was ripping money out of the society using his wife, using deception, inflating his expenses, submitting false claims for reimbursement and so on. Day after day, week after week, month after month these revelations are coming out. The banking and insurance royal commission is exposing deliberate deception and potentially criminal wrong doing on a massive scale. Committed by managers, or lower level staff at managers’ urging, with bonuses as the carrot.

The Abbott Liberal government wasted no time in holding a royal commission into union “corruption” (that word was in the title of the commission – nothing like prejudging the issue).  The result? One criminal conviction for one state branch secretary and one conviction for a low level official. This at a cost of more than $10m to taxpayers.

Yet where are the demands for banks and insurance managements to face criminal trials like union officials? The Liberal government are relatively silent. Why?

Quoting Sally McManus, ACTU Secretary: “The banking royal commission has found hundreds of thousands of instances of potentially criminal conduct (so far), hundreds of millions of dollars worth of unlawful fees, misappropriations and possible thefts as well as overseeing millions upon millions of dollars in fines for the big banks.

“Still that hasn’t stopped the Morrison-led Liberal party, its storefront thinktank and its various conservative media allies from playing the usual anti-union cards.

“It’s just that this time their hand is weaker than it’s ever been.”


On the subject of income protection insurance, a good friend of mine who works for himself has been paying premiums for this type of insurance for 23 years. He estimates he’s paid about $23,000 in premiums to now.

Last year he had a heart attack (not serious, luckily) and managed to cut the top of his left thumb off in a circular saw accident. Naturally, these took time to heal and he lost income.

He submitted a modest claim (nowhere near the amount he’s paid in premiums) and guess what? The insurance company rejected his claim. It’s on something of a technicality, but they won’t budge. He’s been trying to resolve the issue for nearly a year now, and the insurance company is doing all it can to waffle, obfuscate and generally act as bastards. Notably, they want to do everything over the phone. Why? Probably because there’s nothing in writing that could come back to haunt them.

It’s still ongoing and my friend is at the point of going to the Insurance Ombudsman. He’s not a man to give up, once someone rubs him the wrong way. They’ve picked the wrong guy to have a fight with.

More later.


Home again


Aaaah, it’s good to be home, even though I had a great time in Bali. But travel is stressful and exhausting for me now. There were only three immigration people on the six desks, so the three queues were l-o-o-ng and achingly slow. It took nearly an hour from the first X-ray check to walking out into the duty free area. I was desperate to sit down but you can’t. Heavy shoulder bags were pulling my back out of shape, but there was still at least 200m until I could sit. Phew!

I had an iced coffee and recovered a bit, then started the long walk to Gate 9B. Why does Air Asia always get the furthest gate? I was nearly buggered when I got there, only to find people getting up and leaving. We’d been changed to Gate 5! Dammit, nearly all the way back again.

Anyway, I met a guy I used to work with at Seven on the way, so we had a good old chat. We used to call him Mouse, I don’t know why, but also Gizmo because he was a gadget man, like me I guess. We had plenty to talk about.

Then I had priority boarding, so I was in row 1 and seated early. We took off on time, I had quite a nice meal (Nasi Padang) and I nearly slept. We arrived in Perth 30 mins early and I was one of the first off the plane, so zoom, I hit the Customs queue.

But for the first time in years, I was directed to the examination tables. I don’t know why, but I had to put my hand luggage on the X-ray scanner. At the other side, the woman said, “Have you got sweets in your bag?” I said, “Oh yes, they’re jelly beans, from here. I carry them because I’m diabetic, they’re to lift blood sugar.”

She said that’s OK then, and kind of apologised, but she smiled and said I could go. I don’t understand why I was pulled aside, though. I’d ticked no to all the questions. Truth to tell, I had some coffee capsules which are kind of food, but they don’t fit any of the descriptions, unless you call them herbal medicine.


Then I had another fall when I got home, on the front steps. I always find them a bit hard but I was so exhausted that I couldn’t make the top step and down I went, hard. Again, nothing broke, so I reckon my bones are good and strong. I’ve never broken a bone in my life. It was just exhaustion.

That makes about six falls on this trip. Not good. My new glasses account for a few, and accidents for the others. Bali steps and missteps.


I have to do something about my fitness, though, because it seems I’ll be negotiating Bali steps a lot more soon. I’ll be spending quite a bit of time there in the future. Big plans. Bagus.


News of another gempa bumis (earthquake) in Bali this morning, magnitude 5.4 at 5.48 am. It jolted my friend awake. But this time, the epicentre was directly south of Bali. Let’s hope they die away, or move away.


Another one

Another gempa bumi (sorry about the mistake earlier in calling it a gumpa). I mean another strong earth tremor at right on 10.59pm, Sunday 19 August. It was enough to send me out onto the lawn. In fact it’s still going on now at 11.19pm, a gentle swaying of the whole building and floor.

Amazing to think about what’s going on 7km or 27km deep in the earth. Is there any sound? Is it all fire and molten rock down there?

Oh well, time for bed, time to be rocked to sleep by the tremors.

Gumpa lagi!


Wow, another gumpa, another earthquake, just five minutes ago. This was a sharp jolt, followed by the floor (concrete and tiles) swaying for 20 secs or so. It was big enough that I said to my friend, “We’d better go outside!” But the pool remained pretty calm, so that’s a good indication that it wasn’t too big.

This is additional to one we had at 11.35pm on Friday night, again small but it jerked me awake.

This was weird. An hour later, about 12.45am, I was again jerked awake by a flashing white light coming from outside, behind the curtains. Simultaneously, the TV switched on with loud pop music, then 4 secs later switched off again. I was like, “Huh??” It was like something from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

My partner offered an explanation, that maybe she rolled on the TV remote in her movements, but simultaneously with the torch lights, and on and off again? As I said, weird. But I rolled over and went to sleep again. Too hard for me.

PS: I’m told there have actually been three gumbas so far this morning, not only here and Sumbawa but in NZ and Fiji. Global warming, President Dump.


We’re enjoying this hotel very much and have an exciting possibility of staying here more often, and for longer periods. Details are still being mulled over, but the hotel’s offer suits us very well. More news later.


Another one!

Four on bike

How much can you fit on one motorbike? Although you can’t see her there’s another child in the middle. So that’s four people, plus the cartons of water and the big package in the footwell, plus the other baggage!!

Holy cow, what is it with this trip? My injuries continue.

This time I’ve been bitten by a luwak, a Balinese civet cat. These are the animals that eat the coffee beans that pass through their gut and are collected from their droppings, to be packaged and sold at ridiculous prices.

A friend of my friend has a couple of these animals as pets and brought one out last night for us to look at. She asked me if I wanted to touch it and hold it. Like a fool, I agreed. “Don’t let it go”, she said, so I held it pretty tightly. But the thing fought like mad and sank its needle teeth into my left hand between thumb and forefinger. She took it back quickly and I rushed to wash the wound and try to stop the bleeding, which since I’m on anti-coagulant medication, was fairly profuse. All the while I was thinking “rabies?!”

The lady assures me that these are captive animals that have no contact with other animals so have no chance to pick up rabies. I hope she’s right. The puncture wounds have healed almost magically overnight and water still seems fine to me, so here’s hoping.



OK, OK, stop snickering down the back. It’s some kind of vegetable, but we know not what. Who cares?

The civet cat lover is an interesting Russian lady, married to a Balinese artist and living here in Lovina. She does piece work, translating documents of all kinds from Russian to English, (and possibly vice versa?), receiving and sending the work by email. It’s hard work and doesn’t pay very well, but she gets a lot of work. Obviously she’s fluent in English and has picked up the local language very well. She’s a very nice person. I’ve met her here a few times.


We’ve been told that the internet predicts another major earthquake at 11pm tonight. Whether that’s Eastern Australian Standard Time or Bali time we don’t know.

One of the Austrian guys living here is a geologist and his comment when told this is that this is the first time a scientist has been willing to put his name to a prediction such as this. Yup.