Uh oh.

The caption to this web photo says “Graphene bolometer”. Whatever it is, it’s beautiful.

And the beautiful weather is back. It rained on Tuesday! How strange, only 12 days before Xmas and it was rainy, windy and cool. Today it’s clear blue sky and about 30degC. Lovely.


I saw the doctor last Friday week ago and he confirmed that what I’m feeling is due to the pain patches. I feel so weak and unsteady. My hands are experiencing tremors. At times I feel my legs can hardly hold me upright.

So what to do? The patches have stopped the nerve pain very effectively, but if these side effects are to continue, I can’t imagine how I’m going to cope. The doc has given me a prescription for 15ug/hr patches, instead of 20ug/hr. I haven’t tried them as yet – Friday is the weekly changeover day.

I’m due for a phone consult with the pain specialist tomorrow, Thursday, so I’ll ask his advice. I was going to leave things alone, just relying on the pain patches, but I don’t think I can do that. It looks like a nerve block operation will be needed. There’s no cutting required, it just involves needles and local anaesthetics. Scary, but …


Update Saturday 17th: I had a phone call from the pain specialist on Thursday and we have reduced the pain patch to 15ug/hr

But holy smoke, my legs are now so weak that I can hardly walk. My hands are shaking as I type (lucky I’m not having to hand write this).

The pain specialist said he’s not surprised by these side effects, and that they should wear off in a couple of weeks. But, a couple of weeks from when?

He’s scheduled me for a nerve block operation on Thursday 5 January. I’m wondering if I should remove the pain patch and put up with the pain until then. I’m in a bit of trouble here – I can hardly walk around the house, let alone any distance. I have to go to the hospital on Monday to see the anaesthetist for the nerve operation. I seriously doubt that I can walk the distance from the car park to the specialist’s offices. I might have to get a taxi and ask him to drop me right at the doors.

Crumbs, I hope the muscles come back. I could end up in a wheel chair at this rate.


Just to continue on the pessimistic theme. I was listening this morning to that excellent radio program Saturday Extra (on Radio National, 7.15-9am Saturdays) with Geraldine Doogue interviewing knowledgeable guests. They raised the latest information (like, the last few days) out of China.

The Chinese government have suddenly switched from a policy of total suppression of the COVID virus, meaning serious lockdowns, to a “throw up their hands and open the gates” policy. This is due to the resentment and rebellion of the populace in some major cities to being locked down.

The result is that there are enormous outbreaks of COVID in Beijing in particular. It’s “got away”.

The forecast therefore is that it’s very possible that there will be mass infections in China, infecting up to 800 million people! This will overwhelm their health facilities. The Chinese government have prevented the importation and use of the proven Western vaccines, i.e. the Moderna, Pfizer, Astra-Zeneca and Novavax in favour of their own home grown vaccine Sinovax. The problem is first, that it’s not as effective as the Western vaccines, and second, that the takeup among the population is much lower than in most other countries, Australia in particular.

That means that the virus could really take hold and spread. And if it does, much of China could shut down.

This would not be a problem for China alone, it would be a problem for the world, since we are so dependent on China now for all our manufactured goods. Just for one example, much of the plastic fittings used in hospital equipment is made in China. This is not hypothetical, it’s real.

For Western Australia in particular, our prosperity and living standards rely on the income we get from China buying our iron ore. If Chinese industry slows down and stops, they stop buying iron ore to make steel and we suffer the slowdown.

Then another interviewee raised the point that if the COVID virus spreads massively through the Chinese population, that opens the way for mutant strains to develop, for which we don’t have vaccines. And on top of this, it’s quite possible that the Chinese government would put a news ban on telling the world about these new virus strains. They’ve done it before, at the very start in late 2019 and early 2020. That would prevent the research needed to develop new vaccines.

This is scary stuff.


Tempus fugit

Fat. Cat. Alan Joyce, CEO of QANTAS. On a salary of around $2.5million, while doing his damndest to crush ordinary QANTAS wage earners. I loathe him.

Aaah, warming up at last. Beautiful weather, ain’t it? Temps in the mid twenties with excursions to the low thirties. Suits me. Only 15 days to Xmas and I’m looking for a long range forecast for the day. I haven’t seen one yet.


Tempus fugit – time passes, or time flies. Good expression and very useful. It was used in one of the recent episodes of The Crown.

I’ve just watched the first episode of Harry & Meghan, the Netflix doco. I’ll be straight up, I’m a Harry and Meghan fan. I think he’s an admirable guy with his army service in Afghanistan (two tours, I think). And Meghan? What the hell is the objection? It can only be racism, mainly in the royal family, which has been shown up in the disgraceful episode with the queen’s lady-in-waiting last week, browbeating the black but British-born woman who was only there representing her helper organisation. The royals may deny it, but I believe in Meghan, not the denials.

I wish them all the best, and all the luck in the world. But if it’s true they are being paid $100m for doing the doco, they hardly need luck!


Well, I’ll be danged! Eureka! The lost is found.

I was on a trip to Bali in May 2019 and I knew I had my white Samsung tablet on that trip. And I was certain I remembered using it on the plane on the way back.

But do you think I could find it after that? I’ve been searching ever since then, June 2019. I looked everywhere. I could only assume that I’d left it in a cafe or something. If I’d left it in the seat pocket on the plane, they would have contacted me, surely?

Well, I’ve just found it. It was standing on its edge in a row of books on a bookshelf in my bedroom. I thought it would be somewhere like that, but I missed looking at this particular row.

In around July 2019 I knew I really needed a tablet, so I bought a new one, about $700 worth. It’s got phone connectivity in it, whereas the old one didn’t. That lets me get internet anywhere, even sitting out on a park bench.

So now I’ve got two tablets. “Take two tablets and call me in the morning.” Maybe I’ll set one up as a semi permanent slide show display. At least I know I’m not crazy.


Isn’t this disgusting?

Afghanistan under the Taliban.

Schoolgirls forced to cover themselves. What kind of madmen are these Taliban idiots. So scared of females that they have to exert their total control.

Progress (?)

Cottesloe Beach, Perth, Western Australia

Aaah, some warmth at last. It’s 35degC today and was 37deg yesterday. Whacko, summer is here, and right on time. Even though it’s only 30 November (I usually switch on 1 December), I had my first cold shower of the summer this morning. Aaaah, lovely.


The headline refers to my pain. It’s still here, and as bad as ever, but my wails to the GP seem to have reached the ears of the pain specialist. He actually phoned me at home on Friday. Wow.

What he said was that the CAT scan and the MRI scan show there is nothing to worry about – there are no tumours, no cancer, nothing sinister as doctors say. Phew!! That’s a relief.

He could see where I’d broken a couple of ribs in the past and I said, “Yeah, about 15 years ago, at a guess.” It was at the old (Trigg) house where I had two hard falls. The first was when I slipped on wet leaves on the downward sloping concrete path to the workshop in winter. Yow! I remember that one. The second was a similar fall near the front of the house. In both cases, I knew I’d cracked a rib or two, but I didn’t do anything about it because, well, whatcha gonna do? You can’t put a bandage on it.

Anyway, the pain doctor says he thinks it’s a nerve problem and offered ‘nerve block’. Would I like that? I don’t know what it is and I’m not sure I’m comfortable with it, but the pain is bad enough that I’ll consider anything. I haven’t heard anything further as yet.

What I don’t understand is why analgesics don’t work. I’ve tried paracetamol, Panadeine Forte (paracetamol + codeine), tepantadol and oxycontin. None of them works. Bloody hell, what do I have to do? Why?

Anyway, I’m getting used to it to a certain extent – a constant nagging pain at one specific location in my left chest, with sharp (!!) jabbing pains around under my left arm and into my back, with similar jabs around the front of my chest and upper abdomen.

As well as this, I get severe peripheral neuropathic pains in my feet and toes. My feet ache constantly.

On top of that, I’ve had painful pees for many months and I’ve just completed a week long course of antibiotic to try to kill off any bladder bacteria. As well as making me pee razor blades, I feel weak, tired, achey like the ‘flu.

I don’t think the antibiotic has fixed it. I’ll have to wait until Friday to have another urine test to see whether the bug is fixed.

Sigh. This ain’t fun.


It’s Bring Out Your Dead week around here, meaning the annual bulk rubbish collection.

I can’t believe the amount of stuff that people pile up on the verges to be taken away. Whole fake leather lounge suites are one of the most common items, with outdoor tables and chairs a close second. Whole stainless steel barbecues! Washing machines and fridges. Folding tables. Beds. No-one seems to look after their stuff, or fix anything. They’d rather just throw it out and replace it. I even saw a flat screen TV the other day. The days of being an electronics or electrical service person are long gone. If you charge what it costs to fix anything, customers won’t want to pay it.That’s assuming you can get the parts.

Anyway, I put a small amount of stuff out, including a small Coles shopping trolley I’ve had for a few years. It held some “good” junk that I had held onto, computer cables and plugs and sockets, but I realised that once it’s gone, I don’t even remember what it was.

I’m addicted to buying magazines and for many years I’ve just put them in piles on my bookshelves. But I’ve realised that, again, I never look at them and don’t even know what I’ve got. Out! Out!

Unfortunately, they are not wanted for recycling apparently because the glossy paper is not suitable to break down. So, into the land-fill bin. What a waste. A few years ago I was able to get rid of a lot of them to the doctor and pharmacy waiting rooms, but come the pandemic, they won’t take them any more. What a pity, because I was getting appreciative comments that the patrons liked them and were taking them home and wanted more.



I came across the word Livery the other day, meaning the decorative lines and colours and symbols and scripts on cars, buses, trains and aircraft. That’s where I read it, meaning the way aircraft are painted and the decorations and symbols on the fuselage and tail. Using the trusty etymological dictionary https://www.etymonline.com I found this:

c. 1300, “household allowance of any kind (food, provisions, clothing) to retainers or servants,” from Anglo-French livere (late 13c.; Old French liveree, Modern French livrée), “allowance, ration, pay,” originally “(clothes) delivered by a master to his retinue,” from fem. past participle of livrer “to dispense, deliver, hand over,” from Latin liberare “to set free” (see liberate).

The sense later was reduced to “servants’ rations” and “provender for horses” (mid-15c.). The former led to the meaning “distinctive clothing given to servants” (early 14c.); the latter now is obsolete, unless livery stable (1705) survives. Related: Liveried.

It’s hard to see how the modern usage of decorative colours, lines, patterns and symbols is a derivation. It’s strange. I don’t know the answer.



Ugh! It’s one thing after another. For no apparent reason, my left lower back and hip suddenly started hurting this morning, and now I’m hobbling and in pain. This is on top of the left chest/abdomen pain, which is still stabbing me, right now.

I was thinking of a lunch meetup with a friend on Friday, but he’s messaged me to say his wife has come down with COVID (tested positive on a RAT test and is feeling unwell), so I’m a bit relieved that I won’t have to go out.

On the other hand, I have a doctor’s appointment at midday, so I have to go out anyway. Ouch. I hope it will improve by then.

I’m being punished

Bali, Sanur 2017 © PJ Croft

I’ve been to see the GP this morning. I’m still pissing razor blades, so different antibiotic prescribed.

But my main complaint is about the pain specialist. I had the CAT scan on 28 October and the MRI scan on 8 November. I’ve heard nothing from him since. For crying out loud – literally – how long do I have to endure this pain?! Why doesn’t he say something?

So the GP phoned the specialist’s office and it seems I’m on the list for an appointment – in January or February!! Fucking hell! I’m having trouble enduring this pain and the thought of having to wait another two months, at least, is unacceptable.

I said I want referrals to three other pain specialists in the hope that I might get in with someone who cares in a reasonable time. The GP has asked the radiological clinic to send him the scan results and he will let me know the results. But he has to wait as well. Shit!

Meanwhile, the UTI is still present, so I’m starting another antibiotic.


After that, I went to the Vinnies shop to drop off some unwanted clothes and books. But they wouldn’t take them – something about their bins not being cleared. The lady very kindly took them (walked them around the corner) to the SCF shop but she said they can’t take them either. So she took them up the street to the Salvos’ shop. I don’t know what happened after that. I’ve still got a load to get rid of but it seems to be hard to get anyone to take them.

These are the wardrobe full of clothes that my former partner very kindly left behind and despite several years of pleas to come back and take them away, she won’t. I’ve had enough. Out!


I finished the fifth series of The Crown on Netflix the other night, and unfortunately it cuts off unexpectedly as Diana is considering going to St Tropez at the invitation of Mohammed al Fayed, where presumably she will meet up with his son Dodi. I wonder how long we’ll have to wait for the next, sixth series?

It’s still very good. Imelda Staunton is magnificent as the Queen, very regal and intelligent. The guy who plays Prince Charles is not quite convincing, but pretty good.


I saw this outside the pharmacy just now:

What is it? It’s a Morgan, a very much hand built classic British sports car. I’m not sure which model, maybe a Plus 8. It looks old, but they’re still in production and you can buy a brand new one if you have the moolah. Not for me, but it does look good.


I’ve just found an anonymous envelope in my letterbox, no address, nothing to show who it’s from. I was a bit worried. Inside was a neat letter from a new small bar across the other side of Marmion Avenue, called the 4 Mates Bar and Grill, saying they’ve applied for a late opening licence between 21 November (tonight) and 19 December, to show the FIFA World Cup.

Fair enough, I’m pleased that they would go to this trouble to let me know. I might even drop in. This place has only been open a few months and I’ve noticed it recently. This is a very UK/Little Britain area, so it could be good.

What a pain

Kalbarri, January 2019. One of my favourite pictures © PJ Croft 2019, 2022

Is this winter, still? I’m cold. The max temps are around 20-21degC, but it’s windy and my fingers are stiff. We’re getting a bit of rain between the long blue sky patches, which is good, but I want some heat.


I’m bloody upset. I’m experiencing chronic pain, but although I’m talking to doctors, they seem to be operating in slow motion. I’m sick of this. I’m going to start shouting soon.

I had to wait 2½ months for the appointment with the pain specialist. That’s atrocious. Whatever is causing the pain has advanced in that time. I’m considering seeing a lawyer.

He ordered a CAT scan, which I had on 28 October. I’ve heard nothing since.

He also ordered an MRI scan which I had last Tuesday, 8 November (waiting, waiting). I phoned the pain specialist the next day, Wednesday, to say I’ve had the scan and I want an appointment. I said I’m suffering and I need an appointment asap. Again, I’ve heard nothing since. Bloody hell!

This is the LBW principle – Let the Buggers Wait. This is the bloody doctors’ unions, the Colleges, artificially restricting the number of specialists so as to keep a steady stream of patients and keep the incomes of the specialists up in Mercedes territory.

I’m assured this is not cancer, it’s some kind of nerve pain, but what??!! I’m living on Prodeine Forte, paracetamol plus codeine. Not excessive, but even that only dulls the pain. Shit!!!!!!!


I went a bit loco (yok, yok, geddit?) and bought a few model locos last week.

These are all second hand. I’ve had the long Santa Fe (7502) for some years, having bought it in Australia, but the other three came from Hattons in the UK. They carry a big range of used equipment, very conveniently browsed on-line, and delivered quickly at reasonable postage cost. It only took about a month for my medium sized box to arrive from the UK, at a postage cost of about $32.

The big benefit of this order is that the three locos that came from Hattons are all DCC fitted, so I can run them straight away with the DCC controller I bought second hand a few months ago. As well, if I open them up, I’ll be able to see how ghe DCC decoders are fitted and wired. The 7502 Santa Fe that I’ve had on my shelf was not DCC ready when I bought it and although I’ve got the instructions, I’ve never got around to doing the conversion. It’s quite fiddly work, needing some fine soldering and fettling to fit the custom made decoder printed circuit board (PCB).

The top two, the BHP Billiton and the Electromotive (EMD) are also DCC sound fitted! That means they contain a small speaker, controlled from the hand controller, which makes all the appropriate sounds such as engine noises, clanks and clunks and so on. So I believe, anyway. I haven’t been able to try any of these yet. As you can imagine, fitting decoders (one for the motor, one for sound) plus a speaker in such a small device is pretty intricate.

Prices? The big Santa Fe was about $100 seven years ago. The other three were about $120 average from Hattons. It’s an expensive hobby!

I also bought these:

A set of three low loaders for container transport. These are die cast metal.

This means I’m seriously ready to start building a layout. I’ve got my design at last.

I can build this in two stages, corresponding to the two arms of the L shape, with a join roughly where that blue lake is.

My big quandary is how to build it so that it’s portable. Ideally I’d like it to be on wheels so that I can move it around. I already have a couple of wheeled shelf thingies but they’re in use at the moment. Hmmmmm.


I’ve started watching the new series of The Crown, series five, and I’m three episodes in so far. It’s good, maybe not as good as the earliest episodes in series 1 & 2, but those were exceptional. Prince Charles in this latest series doesn’t resemble the real man much, but that’s OK. Elisabeth Debicki is great as Princess Di. She’s just becoming part of the circle of Mahomed Fayed at the moment. Plenty of material there.


I also watched a Netflix series of only four episodes, Inside Man. What a weird story. Not very believable at all, I’m afraid. Full of holes in the story line. But it held my attention, that’s for sure. Would I watch it again? Nah.


I’ve just been out to the garage to put stuff in the bins, and rather annoyingly, I had to thread myself past the Peugeot which is too close to the back door. Why not move it, you say? Just push it forward?

It’s because you can’t put the gear shift into neutral unless the key is in the ignition. Bloody French car! I don’t carry the key with me, usually, so I can’t move the car unless I deliberately think of it.

Just another way this French car annoys me. Good points:

  • Torquey, powerful engine (twin turbo V6)
  • Fantastic styling
  • Good road holding and steering

Bad points:

  • Turbo lag – almost no power until you hit 1900rpm, then whoosh
  • Rattley diesel engine
  • Wind buffeting with almost any window opening
  • No ACC (accessory) position on the key – have to have ignition on to listen to sound system
  • Boot wires break (poor quality wire)
  • No rear window wiper – serious rear vision problem at times
  • Very poor audio system display

I could go on. In addition, air con doesn’t work, parking sensors don’t work, it keeps telling me I have a headlight fault, but I can’t see a problem, tyre pressure sensors are too sensitive, CD player is in the boot, not in the dash.

I enjoy driving this, but I suspect it will have to move on, as much as I love the style.

Win some, lose some

Maldives. I’d be a bit worried about climate change, I think.

Ugh, ugh, ugh … pain! It’s been six months now since I first reported a pain below my left rib cage. The GP said it’s not suspicious, probably scar tissue from a previous op (of which there have been a few). Prescribed Panadeine Forte. Hardly any effect.

Since then it’s been slowly getting worse to the point where it’s on my mind all the time – it’s always there, with severe jabs as if someone is shooting me with glass shards in the left side. At the same time I’m being stung by bees and wasps in the chest. Sharp pain! I’m crying out, yelling.

The GP reckons it’s nerve pain. Strange that it’s not position sensitive.

I finally got in to see a pain specialist on 16 October after a nearly three month wait! This is unacceptable! Anyway, I’ve had the CAT scan he ordered, but they haven’t told me anything a week later. He prescribed a pain patch, but no effect that I can tell and it was only for two weeks! I’m having an MRI scan on Tuesday. I still don’t have a follow-up appointment for that. Meanwhile I’ve run out of pain medication prescriptions and all the GP is prescribing is gabapentin, a nerve agent. Bloody useless so far. Nothing touches this pain! I’m sick of this. (As well, he’s taken me off Lyrica and that means the restless legs are back. Aaaarrrrgh. I can hardly sleep.)


The headline refers to my battle with supermarkets trying to rip us off. For nearly ten years I’ve been frequenting an IGA near me, and for ten years they’ve been ripping me to shreds. My latest foray on Friday was the last straw. I can’t go on subsidising them. I know they’re battling. Half the cold cabinets are boarded up, and the shelves are becoming less and less stocked.

As well, they have a lot of stuff at “past use-by date” markdowns. I buy a lot of that stuff, as I figure it’s doing both of us a favour.

But on Friday I discovered four large pricing discrepancies on my docket, only after I got home, of course. I’m talking items marked at discount $9.95 but checked out at $12.99, and a V8 vege juice marked at $4.60 but charged at $5.94.

To add insult, I didn’t notice until I got home that the cap was loose on this V8 – someone has opened it and had a small swig. Can’t use it.

And how about this?

In the attached liquor store, I picked up a four pack of beer, but when I went to pay, we found one can was missing. The lady went to the fridge and got another can for me. Only when I got home did I find the above – the can she got me was different to the other three, and lower priced. But I was charged the full price as if it was four the same! Great balls of fire!! I’m not going to drive all the way back just for this price difference so I’m ripped off again, even in the liquor section. It’s enough to drive a man to drink.

I am 100% fed up with this IGA. I’ve been battling this for nearly ten years. They closed down a few years ago, driven out of business when Woolies opened at Butler Central, and Aldi just down the road. They reopened after a couple of years under new ownership, but they’re dying again. I want to support them but I am sick to death of having to go back and complain. It’s happening too often. What they’re doing is marking things as special on the shelf, but not changing their computer to reflect the lower price at the checkout.

What gets me is that it’s ALWAYS in their favour. The price I pay is ALWAYS higher, never lower. This is the last straw. I’m going to write them a letter to say that I can’t go on subsidising them! Don’t shop at Butler IGA, corner of Connolly Drive and Kingsbridge Blvd.


Is it just me? Why do I keep having bad things happen to me?

You may remember I had my Peugeot 407 diesel coupe in with RAC Morley for around two months in June/July, having a coolant leak fixed, with a new water pump and hoses. $2,160 worth.

When I gave it to them, I left a printed sheet on the seat with my instructions. As well as fix the cooling system, I asked them to do a service – oil change and new oil filter. Their invoice was incredibly hard to read, printed in tiny type, about 6 point, fuzzy and hard to understand. When I got the car back, I assumed the service had been done as per my request.

But a few weeks ago I realised that the windscreen sticker was from the last service in 2019. Likewise there’s no stamp in the log book. So I’ve been driving it for the last two months thinking it’s got fresh oil.

I phoned the RAC last week and asked about this. Oh no, they said, we didn’t do a service, just the cooling system repairs. What??!! I said I think I’ve been charged for the service. No you haven’t, they said.

Bloody hell! That means I’ve been driving it since, thinking it’s had a service, when it hasn’t, and it’s going to cost me another $200 – $250 for the service.

Bloody hell! Why do all these things happen to me? What have I done to deserve this?

The lesson is that you cannot take anything for granted, in any kind of service exchange, whether it’s for vehicle or shopping. You have to meticulously go over your bill and check every detail, no matter how tedious and nit picking it is and query anything. I’m fed up!


On the other hand, I’ve been paying house and contents insurance to CGU for about five years, I think. Recently I’ve been getting emails from them saying “Sorry, we’ve made errors in calculating your monthly premiums. We’ve re-calculated and we’re refunding you.”

At first this had the whiff of a scam, since they say they’ll refund into my bank account. I was waiting for them to ask me to send bank account details. But they assured me I didn’t need to do anything, to just wait.

OK, good, a few weeks ago I got an ANZ cheque from them for $64 (who goes near a bank to deposit it any more?) Then last week I got another email with another recalculation and whacko! This time I’ve just found a refund of $565 into my bank account, plus another couple of amounts of $11 and $20 from them too. Nice one.

Add to that a payment to me from Synergy of $111. Must be for my solar rebate, I’d guess. I don’t care what it’s for, just keep ’em coming.


Mind you, HBF are going to debit my account of $2,750 for next year’s fees in the next few days. Ouch! I do wonder if I can afford private health cover any more, but I do often have expensive bills. I’ll keep it going as long as I can.


One of my Amazon purchases arrived the other day and I’ve just opened it up. It’s a Dremel gas powered soldering iron / hot knife / heat gun etc. Very neat. But when I went to use it I found that they don’t supply any gas with it. Booger. Made in Taiwan, by the way. Very high quality.

I bought it for soldering inside my car, but since it produces a jet of flame, another thing I plan to do with it is to burn the weeds away from my paving blocks at the front of the house. They’re not bad, but it looks untidy. OTOH, it might need something a bit bigger, like a butane torch. I’ll see.


I mentioned that I bought a new mattress in mid-September. I bought on-line, so I couldn’t try it beforehand. What could go wrong?

Well, after this six week trial, I’m going to have to ring them up and say, “I HATE IT!”

The trouble is that the edges are soft, but as I lie down and roll onto my right side (from the left side of the bed), I feel as if I’m having to pull myself up a slope. Same when I’m lying flat, reading, I feel as if I’m rolling down a slope and if I don’t hold my body just so, I’ll roll out of the bed. That is, the edge is soft, but the middle of the bed is hard.

I can’t stand it. This is the most uncomfortable mattress I’ve ever slept on, except for the one it replaced. I can’t stand it.

I don’t know what to do. It has a warranty, of course, but is this a warranty fault? The company is A.H. Beard. Never heard of them, but they’re very proud to display Made in Australia tags.

So, wish me luck. I guess I’ll have to go to a stockist to try out another model of mattress before I can choose something else.


I don’t go out much these days and I’m spending a lot of time watching Youtube. Wow, there is some really good stuff on there. This is stuff that twenty years ago we would never have known about or seen. Especially cars and car mechanicals. I have learnt a tremendous amount.

But in the past couple of weeks I’ve been watching one particular guy who calls himself the Vicarious Traveller. He’s a Canadian guy of Chinese extraction, but who grew up in Saudi Arabia. He’s a medical software developer and travels all over the world, on the company, and documents all his trips. His company pays for Business Class, but he often pays to upgrade himself to First Class (and uses his Frequent Flyer points to do this too).

Therefore we’re shown all the details of what it’s like to travel “upper deck” or “pointy end”, and wow! Flat beds, showers, all the champagne you can drink, and I’m talking Roederer Crystal, Krug, the absolute top brands. Not Moet, that’s too low cost.

He likes caviar and has that almost every flight. The first class food is just amazing, five star restaurant quality, always served on china plates with real cutlery. None of your plastic. The reviewer also rates Turkish as the best airline food in the sky.

I would also have to rate the Turkish decor, both in the airport and in the aircraft, as just amazingly tasteful and beautiful. It makes me wish I could go there, just for the experience. I never thought I would say that about Turkiye, as they want to be called these days, but there you go.

I’d say Qatar and Emirates are at the top, (Etihad is not mentioned because it’s not part of the loyalty group he’s in). Turkish is brilliant too, although he had a very bad experience with very rude cabin staff once, so that’s marked down. Japan Airlines are tops too.

But! Another reviewer showed a trip from Tokyo to Sydney on Qantas and boy oh boy, Qantas does not look good in comparison. It was shot a couple of years ago but the plane looked dated, like about 20 years behind the other airlines. Nothing especially wrong, but “threadbare”, like seeing fraying on uniforms. I don’t mean literally, just as a metaphor. Qantas doesn’t come close to the middle eastern airlines in Business or First.

And airports are all the same, right? Well, take a look at Istanbul airport! My jaw drops. This is the most beautiful airport I’ve ever seen. It’s also the world’s biggest. Not the busiest, but the biggest by far. It makes Perth Airport look like a country town wooden shack. Just search Youtube on Istanbul airport to have a look, and I highly recommend the Vicarious Traveller. He’s smart, shoots great video, is a genius editor, makes jokes and keeps me watching, even at 40 mins a time. Highly recommended.

It’s a pain

Fremantle Harbour. © Earth by Drone

We awake to the news that six US B-52 bomber aircraft are to be stationed at Tindal RAAF base near Darwin in the NT. Although I think this will make us a target in any conflict, I think it’s necessary to shoulder our responsibilities in the US-Australia alliance. So, I approve.


Brrrr, it seems like a return to winter in the past week. I look forward to rising temps in the next few days. Up to 31deg on Thursday. Hooray. I’ll be starting my summer regime of cold showers soon.

Which reminds me, I’ve been uncomfortable for years that my gas storage hot water heater is burning gas 24/7 every day of the year, heating about 200 litres (?) of water that I use for only about 10 mins each day for my shower. It goes to the kitchen, of course, but it takes so long to heat the pipes before the hot arrives that I never use it. Laundry? I always do a cold wash.

I’ve read about heat pumped hot water and I think I should make the change. If I got one of those installed, I think I would completely remove gas from the house, so that I’m not paying anything by way of “service charges”. I have a gas cook-top but I really don’t need it. I’ll keep you posted.


Speaking of the US-Australia alliance, I think we can expect China to attack Taiwan in the next couple of years. We are likely to be drawn in, probably by naval encounters at first, and long range bombing.

But the stupidity of China just amazes me. Repeat, STUPIDITY. Just suppose the Chinese succeed in taking Taiwan, what will they gain? The Taiwanese will fight like hell and even if China invades and wins, they will face anger and non-cooperation for ever more. They will gain a surly, angry population which will be a continual drain on their resources and finances for decades to come.

Just suppose, by some miracle, The Chinese Communist Party military dictatorship came to their senses and saw the folly of it, and decided to accept the status quo. They would gain praise, good will, world approval at the minimum. I’m sure this would lead to improved trade for China and an improvement in all other areas.

But it looks very likely that there is going to be a serious shooting war. There will be hundreds of thousands of casualties, losses of hundreds of ships, thousands of aircraft. It will cost China hundreds of $billions. No-one will ever be able to trust China again.

What is wrong with these people?


I’ve just been on Facebook and seen a post by Tania Lawrence MHR saying that she was a student at Northam Senior High School. She’s posted a photo of herself in her school blazer. Well well well. I think I’ll send her an invitation to our next reunion, usually held in the first week of April each year.


I have much more to say but I can’t at the moment. I’m in severe pain.


Today is the anniversary of Dad’s birthday, 29 October 1922, and he would have been 100, if he was still with us. He died on 2 August 2001 at age 78. Happy Birthday, Dad.

He was the best father I could ever have wished for. He was loved and above all, respected, by all who knew him. I wish I’d been able to say more about this when he died.

He was born in Sydney in, as he said it, Nineteen Tooty Too. That meant he was ten years old when the Sydney Harbour Bridge was opened in 1932, and he was proud that he rode his bike across it on that day.

I was born in Sydney too, in Mona Vale, in 1947 and I still feel a kinship with Sydney whenever I go there. Unfortunately I don’t think I’ll ever get there again.

We moved over to Western Australia, to Bruce Rock, in December 1949 and we’ve lived here ever since. We moved around, next to Cunderdin in 1955, then Wundowie in 1956, Rockingham in October 1959, Beverley in 1961 and finally to Perth in 1967. I was independent by then, having been away at boarding school in Northam from 1961 to 1964, then uni in 1965 and working at Channel 7 from 1966 on, living in South Perth, initially.

So anyway, Happy Centenary Birthday, Dad.


This date is also significant for me – it’s the 23rd anniversary of my “retirement” from my job at TVW Channel 7 in Perth. Yes, I took my voluntary redundancy on this date (it was a Friday in 1999) and walked out for the last time after 33 years. I had a break of eight months in 1974, but I don’t count that.

These days I’m regarded as one of the veterans, an elder statesman of the former employees, being able to say that I worked on the first Telethon in 1968, for example. I was so junior that I didn’t do much, but at least I was there and working in the videotape department.

In those days, we were politely asked to work a donated shift, and we did it willingly. But after a few years, maybe eight or ten years, we heard that the camera crew were being paid their normal rates, so we started to grumble. The company also stopped asking us to volunteer; they just rostered us without asking.

I think most of us in Engineering continued to work an unpaid shift for quite a few years – I really can’t remember what happened in the later years. I do know that the fun went out of it – it just became another shift, another chore.

Anyway, 29 October is a significant date for me.

One thing I’ll never forget – I used to be a Friday night regular at the North Beach Rugby Club, drinking with a few Channel 9 mates (apart from one guy, I could never get any Channel 7 Engineering guys to come along. It’s odd – when I was younger, I was super shy. I didn’t feel I fitted in at parties and functions so I hardly ever joined in. But as I got older, I became the only guy from Engineering who participated in work functions. Almost no-one else ever turned up.)

One night in about 2009, in fact 29 October, I mentioned at the bar the significance of the date, being my father’s birthdate and my ten year anniversary of leaving Channel 7. I got a couple of seconds of blank looks from my “mates”, then one guy said, “DILLIGAF”. Huh? I said. “What does that mean?” “It means, Do I Look Like I Give A Fuck” he said.

I was stunned. Apart from the sheer rudeness, he was insulting my memory of my father. I was so offended I slammed my glass down and walked out. That played a big part in my subsequent attempt to move completely to Bali to live. I was so sick of the racism, the rudeness, the boorish manners, the stupidity of the people I knew that after I saw the sign offering Bali villas for US$300K, I thought, “Get out of there! Walk away.”

At that time, end of 2010, January 2011, you could live in Bali and still get the pension, and get your prescription medications every three months on Medicare. Unfortunately the rules have changed now to make it more difficult.

Minnie the Labrador. My beloved daughter.

Anyway, that started the Bali saga. I think I was quite depressed at the time, which lowered my defences, and putting a deposit down on a villa seemed quite a reasonable thing to do. Unfortunately, what I didn’t realise was that no dogs were allowed into Bali (due to rabies on the island) and it looked as if I was going to have to leave my beloved Labrador Minnie behind. I was distressed! I was distraught! It’s too long a story to tell here now, but things spiralled downwards from there, leading to a major family rift which still hasn’t healed and looks as if it never will. Dad would have been very, very sad to see us this way.

On a ton

Phwooaar. BMW 850Ci. It’s a 5litre V12. But it costs a fortune to fix and keep going. They sell for $40K – $70K.

To my foreign readers, being “on a ton” means you’re within a stroke of the bat, in a cricket match, to make 100 runs. Tomorrow is a big day for a century.


Damn, this Word Press is so annoying. They’ve changed the type face and size – it’s small and a bit hard to see. Why do they keep changing things?? I do not like this blog software. It’s inconsistent, changeable, hard to use. Why can’t I stay logged in, for example? I’ve complained to them and at least they answered but all I got was a suggestion that it’s my browser that’s logging me out every time I take a break. No help!


I’ve been to the Joondalup Health Campus this afternoon and at last the new multi-storey car park is finished and in operation. Thank goodness. It’s good – easy to drive into and leave. I arrived at about 1.45pm and found a space on the ground floor with little trouble. When I left at 2.45pm, there were plenty of spaces.

The interesting thing is that you don’t need to stop and take a ticket when you drive in. There are no tickets, no boom arm when you enter. It was only after I parked that I thought, “Hang on, where’s my ticket?”

The thing is, when you’re ready to leave, you have to enter your car licence plate number into the machine. You’d better be able to remember it!

When I was ready to leave I walked up to the ticket machine and asked a uniformed lady how to do it. She explained it, then, seeing me having a bit of trouble walking, offered to carry my bag and find my car and its number plate. I knew it was 1CGY but I couldn’t remember the numerals. So she walked with me, carrying my quite heavy bag, and found my car and its number. Then she walked me back a bit to a payment machine half way along the floor and entered the number plate in for me. Bingo, there’s a picture of my number plate up on the screen. What a nice woman. I am very impressed.

So I place my VISA card against the screen, ping, and it’s done. I didn’t get a receipt so I have no idea how much I paid or how long I was there for.

Anyway, I just drove out of the car park and up to the boom gates leading to the road. My number plate appeared on the big LCD screen and since it obviously matched my payment, the boom went up and I was out.

Jeez, I’m an electronics tech but this is beginning to look like magic. The only drawback is that you have to remember your number plate, and I’ll bet a lot of people have trouble with that.


I’m feeling very pleased, even a bit excited. I’ve finally found a model railway layout that I like and want to build.

As you can see, it’s the L-shape that I like, which means I’ll be able to divide it into sections so as to break it apart and move around. It’s US based, but that doesn’t matter. I’ll change it to suit any locality that I like. Since almost all the locos and rolling stock I’ve bought and collected is UK based, that will have a big influence. For the moment, I’ll call it Cripple Creek since it rolls off the tongue.

Thing I like is that it’s got long straight stretches, lots of dual track, interesting branch lines and plenty of scope for simple modifications to make it even more interesting. It lends itself to endless variations. The Black Hawk City station, for example, could be made much more complex. Something like this?

Only joking. But at the moment there’s only one platform at the Black Hawk station, and I’d want several platforms.

The next step is to scale the layout and bring it into my AnyRail software so as to make a full working drawing. Unfortunately, it’s several years since I used AnyRail and I’ve forgotten how to use it! I’m struggling with it at the moment. You might remember this:

I haven’t done any work on that for several years. Too bad, this new plan is better.

A couple of weeks ago I saw an ad on Facebook Marketplace for N-gauge rolling stock. I contacted the guy and drove out to Thornlie (jeez, it’s a long way!) and ended up buying ten tanker wagons from him for $15 each. Yes, $150. This is an expensive hobby. It was amazing, the guy was selling because he seems to be obsessed with upsizing. He has scores of locos and carriages for sale in N gauge but he wants to go to 1 gauge. This is enormous. N gauge is 1:148 or 2mm to the foot. 1 gauge is 32mm to the foot. He plans to build a garden railway.

Anyway. Last week I went a bit mad and bought a load of stuff from the Hattons website in the UK, all second hand stuff. I’ve bought four locos, but there are two interesting things about them.

One is that all four locos are already fitted with DCC decoders, ready to run. That means I can open them up and see how the decoders are fitted. I’ve already got several decoders that I bought about five years ago, but I’ve never got around to fitting them. Plus two of my new second hand purchases have sound already fitted. That means I’ll get all the sounds of big diesel electric locomotives – horns, engine sounds, coupler clanks and so on. I’m not interested in steam.

Better still, one of the locos is painted in BHP Billiton colours. In my mind is to make a small attempt at modelling the Pilbara and the mining company railways up north. I’ll be able to copy this BHP loco.

And finally, several months ago I bought a second hand DCC controller at last (above). This is the handheld controller that generates the DCC signal which is fed to the track. This signal carries the codes for each loco and tells it what to do. Each loco is given an address (a number from 1 to 99) and only responds to the commands from the hand controller that you send.

So all in all, I’m ready to roll. All I have to do now is make the base boards from Craftwood and 50x100mm pine beams. Whoo hoo.


I finished the last episode of The Crown on Netflix last night, that’s series four. Series five, the latest, starts on 9 November.

This is the third time through for me. What a superb show this is! It’s a triumph of television docudrama in my opinion. The acting and the way the modern actors look and sound like the royal family (as far as I or anyone knows) is just amazing. It must be very strange for the real life royals to watch themselves being dramatised like this. Frankly, Charles doesn’t come out of it looking very good.

I’ll be queuing up to see the next series. This will show the events leading up to Diana’s death. Hmmmmm.

What’s real any more?

Nice photo, eh? Whipped up with a few lines of text.

The above photo is not real. It’s the product of artificial intelligence. I believe, from what I read, that all it takes is a text description of what’s in your mind, entered into a software program, and voila, there’s your picture. Another one:

Who needs a camera any more? Who needs creativity? Also:

Who is this? It’s no-one. It’s computer generated.
Computer generated, no credit needed.

The point is, there used to be the adage, “The camera doesn’t lie”. Well, I’m afraid that doesn’t hold any more. Completely over-ruled. You cannot tell whether any image is real, altered or entirely false now. Even video can be completely faked now. This is quite worrying.


Maybe it’s time I came clean about one of my images.

Venice, October 2008 © PJ Croft

I’m quite proud of this, but I have to confess it’s a composite of two images. I did this about 15 years ago:

The above right picture lacked something, so I cut the girl in the cloak from the group on the left and pasted it, twice, into the empty street. I spent a lot of time adding the shadows and adjusting the size of the girls so they are in proportion to the street. I also duplicated one of the girls, adding it back in, changing the colour of the cloak, adjusting the size, adding the shadows and adjusting the height above the pavement so they aren’t floating. So, although it’s a composite, I’m happy to show my work.


What to do? I bought a new mattress about a month ago, and I hate it!

I bought it on-line as the company not only delivered, they took the old mattress away for me. Naturally, I didn’t have a chance to try it before I bought, but I didn’t think it would be a problem.

But what I’m finding is that I feel as if I’m having to climb up a slope from a soft edge to a hard middle of the bed. It’s listed as a medium hardness, but as I say, it’s too soft on the edge and too hard in the middle.

So I guess I’ll just have to phone the company’s 1 800 number and ask what to do. Damn, I don’t want to have to deal with this. I just wanted a clean changeover.


CHAOS! I used to be an optimist. I used to think all would be well. I used to think science and engineering would produce solutions to the world’s problems.

But I’ve lost hope. I truly believe we are seeing the decline of civilisation. I truly believe that the money motive is overriding common sense, leading to destruction of the environment in every respect. The oceans are being polluted so badly as to be destroyed. Plastic pollution is growing by the year. Fish stocks are declining. Pesticides and fertilisers are polluting the soils. Animals and insects are declining. Forests are dying. The weather is turning against us. Wars are growing. Famines are growing. Viruses and bacterial infections are increasing. The Earth is biting back.

I’m afraid I’m a bad pessimist now.


I’ve just finished watching a Netflix Japanese TV series called Japan Sinks. Bloody hell, what a joke. I had to finish it, just out of morbid fascination, but is this how Japanese people really behave? All the government committee meetings are punctuated by “We must do out best!” and “We must try harder!”

The story is that undersea seismic movements result in almost the entire Japanese chain of island sinking beneath the waves. They have to find a way to move 120 million people to other countries. I’m glad to say that Australia finally comes good and agrees to take 10 million or so. I’d like to think it would be possible, but I don’t think so. As I said, this is a deeply racist country.