History part 3

Good day again. Beautiful blue sky day here, still a little cool at 20C but I can’t complain.

The two images above are from the web, and notice how they are different in flag patterns, cushion colours and crown types. Also:

The one on the left is the one currently on show, whereas the one on the right is very similar. I don’t know the answers. But wouldn’t it be cool to have two or more crowns to choose from?

I don’t know which location this NTV channel was broadcasting from, but I’m not sure Charles would appreciate being referred to as the new Queen.

Nor would Mr Musyoka have been happy to have previously withdrawn from the race [to be the new Queen?]

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For my younger readers (almost everyone?) these are thermionic valves, or tubes as the Yanks like to call them. These were a common thing when I first started in electronics in the 1960s, these particular types (12AU7s) being used in audio frequency amplifiers. When I was working then, these were so cheap and common that when we tested them and found them weak, we just tossed them out and replaced them without a moment’s thought.

This picture is from an advert, maybe eBay(?) and the asking price is $125 each! Holy moley. Hi-fi nuts will pay a fortune these days for anything that seems in any way “special”. These are Mullard brand, common as dirt in the 60s, yet touted now as having some kind of magic properties. Crazy.

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By the way, since the electrons within the glass envelope came from a heated wire cathode coated with a chemical that gave off a good supply of electrons, they “wore out”. That is, after a year or more, probably a lot longer, they gradually used up the chemical coating and became “low emission”, faulty. All valves had to be periodically tested and replaced as needed.

When transistors were invented, they didn’t need a heated cathode to supply the electrons any more. They are current-controlled variable current flow devices. The current (electrons) flowing from the emitter to the collector is regulated by the current flowing into or out of the base (depending on the type of transistor).

BJT = Bipolar Junction Transistor

A very small change in the amount of current in the base makes a big difference in the current in the collector, hence amplification.

Therefore, in theory, transistors, like diamonds, are forever. They don’t wear out, unlike valves. They don’t need “testing” unless there is an obvious fault. And they are CHEAP! They are made in such huge quantities and are so simple to manufacture that you can buy a bag of 200 of many types for a couple of dollars. For example:

A box of 200 common types that cost me about $3.
Cheap as chips – silicon chips.

Speaking of cheap and quantities, Large Scale Integrated circuits (microprocessors) use transistor circuits to simulate all kinds of electronic elements, as well as acting as switches and memory cells. The present day state of the art is to fit around three billion transistors on a die approximately 6-10mm square, with interconnection tracks as small as four nano-metres!

Present day CPUs on a large silicon die. These are multiple copies on a large wafer. They will be snapped apart along the lines above before being individually tested and packaged.

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An advertising image from the web site of my mattress manufacturer. Notice the feet on the base? I didn’t need a base as I used my existing one, but I couldn’t use this one. I have carpet, so these flat feet would have been useless to me. I don’t like these false wooden floors, I like carpet.

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Netflix chooses programs to recommend to me from time to time, and not surprisingly, they’ve put The Crown up for me to watch again. I’ve actually watched it twice already and I have series 1 and 2 on DVD, but it’s a good while since I watched it so I’ve started it again from series 1, episode 1. Like a good piece of classical music, you see new things with each performance and I’m seeing things I’d missed or forgotten since first watching it in 2016. Crumbs, there are many things I don’t like about “Great” Britain, but I do admire their television, on top of their pageantry, royalty and uniforms.

However, we should not ignore the capacity of the British for brutality and savagery down through history. Their pitiless, ruthless pursuit of their imperial goals led to endless massacres, torture, racism and complete disregard for human rights for many hundreds of years. They simply stomped on the heads of anyone who stood in their way to their empire goals.

They were even merciless in killing their own people! Don’t forget the English civil wars in the 16th to 18th centuries, the dissolution of the monasteries and the banishment of Catholicism, the wars against the Scots, “the Clearances”, the takeover of the Scottish farms and the cruel dispossession of the crofters, and the barbarity of the repression of the Irish during the potato famines. The list goes on and on. Barbaric cruelty against their own people, on top of the atrocities committed against people of “lesser” races and countries.

And never forget, the term “hung, drawn and quartered” was invented by the English – hanging a man but not to death, then taking a sword or knife, drawing it down the chest and abdomen and quartering the abdomen so that the guts spills out, then just leaving him for the crows to feed on while he dies. How could any human commit such atrocities, but the English did.

Until a few years ago I didn’t realise the depths of Scottish people’s hatred of the English, but I do now.

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History part 2

Real or replica? Replica, I’ll bet.

I’ve said before that I’m an Aussie through and through, a committed supporter of a plan for a republic for Australia, but I have to admit to admiring the UK in this time of changeover of monarchs. I’m boggled by the pageantry and colour, the military precision, the tradition, the history, the uniforms. I admit, I love it.

I’d be interested to know why and how the uniforms are chosen for these ceremonies. Chas and William were dressed as RAF Air Marshalls for the march, whereas Princess Anne was dressed as a Navy Admiral. Why? Why was Anne dressed in a naval uniform? Strange.

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There’s a radio quiz going at the moment, asking what we think of the ABC’s coverage. I admit I was a bit irritated by the 24hr blanket coverage in the first few days, to the exclusion of all else including news and weather. But now it’s eased off, I’m glad I watched some of it.

My only serious complaint is not to the ABC but to the BBC: in last night’s coverage of the coffin walk from the palace to Westminster Hall, why oh why do we have to put up with a BBC lower screen banner with supposed news headlines, but the same headlines, repeated over and over for six hours! This is the same as they did on the Thames Pageant in 2012. For goodness sakes, we know it’s the BBC, why do you have to slap us in the face with it?

Anyway, I admit to a deep envy of Britain’ history. With the surname Croft and ancestry going back to the 13C, I feel I should be able to claim a small part. But I’m also aware that the UK regards me as an alien. I get no special treatment, no right of residence, no acknowledgement of my history. Not happy.

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My new mattress arrived right on time this morning, about 9.30am, and it all went smoothly. Boy, it’s soft. I think if I’d been able to test it in a shop beforehand, I would have immediately walked on. I’ve chosen a medium hardness, but I’m wondering if it’s too soft for me. I admit, I am a big boy so I sag a fair way into it. OTOH, I had a nap this afternoon and I dropped off without even being aware of it.

I’d say it’s like sleeping on marshmallows.

I’m looking at the website of the manufacturer (A.H.Beard) to see if there’s a return policy in a case like this. Haven’t found it yet.

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My good mate Keith came out here today to give me a hand, but I didn’t actually need him after all. However, ever helpful, he got up on my stepladder and changed a couple of ceiling lamps for me. I needed six changed, but I wasn’t ready with new replacements so we only got two done.

However, one of them was the one that has been turning itself off after about five minutes ever since it was renewed last year. We fitted a brand new illuminant and I was mentally rubbing my hands, thinking “At last”. But dammit, the new illuminant is doing the same thing! What the … ? Does it mean there’s a faulty transformer in the ceiling? Do I have to pay an electrician to fix it? Dang!

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Good interview on ABC Radio just now (Friday afternoon) with Greg Mullins, leader of the group of 34 retired fire chiefs who tried to get Morrison and the Liberal-National government to listen before the catastrophic fires of 2019-20. He tried to warn Morrison, but Morrison refused to take his calls! He tried to get $10m for fire fighting aircraft, but was stonewalled. The cost of this inaction was $billions in damage, billions of native animals lost, thousands of homes destroyed and thousands of lives ruined.

He said the difference between the previous government and now is “chalk and cheese”. One of the first acts of the new Labor minister Murray Watt was to pick up the phone, call Mr Mullins and ask what needs to be done.

So why did the previous government refuse to listen or take action? To me, the answer is clear – the problems were too big for the brains of these incompetent L-NP people to cope with. They can’t grasp the complexity, or the science, so they close their minds and shove the problem to their out tray. (Or there is a more sinister reason, involving money, of course.)

I accuse these criminally stupid L-NP people of incompetence and negligence. I say they should be held to account for the costs of their inaction in a legal class action. They should be made to pay for their inaction.

As Mr Mullins said, the fire experts foresaw the changes in the weather patterns and fire conditions as far back as the ’90s and tried to sound the warnings, but the L-NP government refused to listen. We lost nearly a decade before action is finally being taken now. These former L-NP politicians must be made to pay!!

History

Fremantle 1988 © PJ Croft 2022

Well, what a day. The Queen died on Thursday [edit: yes, I originally wrote Friday]. I was awake at 1.30am (insomnia) listening to ABC radio when the upbeat tune being played faded down and after some silence, was replaced by quiet classical music. (That sounds like The Lark Ascending, I thought, and sure enough it was, music by Ralph Vaughan-Williams).

After a few minutes of that, the announcer said “We’re taking you to the newsroom”. The news announcer said the Queen had died. I think that’s the closest feeling I’ve had to an historic event.

It’s hard to believe, but I’m a bit sad. Even though I’m a strong republican (nothing to do with the GOP!), I’ve grown up and lived all my life with the Queen and Charlie. He and I were born at roughly the same time and I’ve always felt a kinda kinship, I don’t know why.

I can actually remember the time before Liz became the Queen. I was born in the time of King George VI, and I was six when the Queen was crowned. I can remember the King’s head on coins and notes, and I think Dad must have bought the newspapers because I have vague memories (just mental pictures, not the text) of articles about the King.

So now we have a new King. I find it cringworthy that he is now King of Australia. I quite like him, but he’s not my King! I bow to no-one, especially a Pom.

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Nice, eh? Would you believe, this is not a real scene. It’s an artificially generated image using AI. No photographer involved.

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Phew, Aldi is seductive. I discovered their hardware and bargain aisles a few years ago and recently I’ve told myself to lay off! I was spending too much money in Aldi.

Well, yesterday I saw their on-line catalogue and so I went to Clarkson shops to buy just a couple of items. Wow, I came away with a trolley full. I spent $262, the most I’ve ever spent in one trip.

I went in to get a battery powered hand vacuum, a battery powered window washer vacuum, some dishwasher cleaning tablets and washing machine cleaning liquid. I got all those, PLUS a new mattress protector and a trolleyfull of food items. I can hardly walk past the shelves without picking things up.

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I think I’ve mentioned how my mattress has sagged on one side and developed a hard ridge down the middle. In the olden days, I used to be able to lift the mattress up, turn it around and flop it down, bottom side up every year or so. But there’s no way I can lift it any more. I’ve lost my strength.

I had arranged for a friend to give me a hand to do this next Thursday, but I’ve found that Appliances Online not only stock a few of the mattresses mentioned in CHOICE as good buys, they will also deliver and take the old mattress away for disposal. That’s what I want.

So I think it’s time for a new mattress. I bought my present one in about 2000, so I think it’s had a good life. My abiding memory when I bought this present mattress was being at my Trigg house and awaiting delivery. I saw the truck pull up on the road, and next thing, a guy was walking down my driveway carrying the mattress. One guy! One hand under the bottom edge, the other hand steadying the top against his shoulder. Wow, it was heavy and he seemed to make it effortless. I was impressed.

In sleep, what dreams may come …

What a great shot! It has a painting-like quality, I feel. US Navy photo.

Aaaah, great sleep the last couple of nights. How? Why? I’ve stopped the Duloxetine, that’s why.

When I say stopped, I gave it a short taper 🙂 You’re not supposed to stop it suddenly and I didn’t, but I tapered it off much quicker than they advise. First, I skipped every second day, then after a few of those, went to every third day for a week, then after Friday, I just stopped. That’s a bit abrupt but I was sick of sleepless nights. The result, with one exception, has been good sleep.

The one exception was Sunday night when I went the entire night without sleep. In hindsight I realised that the evening before, I had a strong gin and tonic with dinner, on top of my two cans of beer beforehand. I’ve read about alcohol being bad for sleep and although it never used to bother me, it seems to now. Booger! I’ll have to experiment a bit. Is it just the amount that matters, or is it mixing different types of drink? It’ll be fun finding out.

However, the neuropathic (nerve) pains are back. Not as bad as before (two months ago), but enough to have me arching my back and yelling. It’s like a red hot poker suddenly hitting some part of your foot for a few seconds. Yowch!

OK, take other kinds of pain relief? But they all seem to cause insomnia for me. Paracetamol doesn’t, but it’s not effective enough. Prodeine Forte? It nearly works, but I can’t use it near bed time as I can feel it ‘wiring’ me up. Tramadol? I had to stop that a few years ago when I realised it was the cause of insomnia. It’s also an opioid. Aspirin’s too weak, and causes stomach problems in high doses.

So, I dunno. I have an appointment with a pain specialist but it’s not until 21 October. Dang.

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A new British PM? She seems to me to be a woman who changes her mind to suit her clothing fashions. She started out as a liberal (Labour-like), then moved to the Liberal-Democrats, strongly supported the Remain (in the EU) campaign, but then joined the Conservatives and changed her views to be a rabid Brexiteer when it seemed in her interests, so as to advance in the party.

So now she’s PM, what views and convictions will she change next? I have no confidence in her.

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Good call from a listener to ABC Drive radio just now; What message should we send to outer space when we send the interstellar probe? “We don’t taste like chicken.” 🙂 Good one!

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Speaking of interstellar probes, a few weeks ago my favourite radio show asked, “What have you seen that’s amazing recently?”

Well, I nominate the James Webb Space Telescope. This has to be one of the greatest engineering feats of all time! A NASA engineer said recently that there were 34 single points of failure in the process of building it and getting it into operation, 34!

Quick explanation: a single point of failure in any system is where the failure of just one item would disable the entire system. When I was working, we did the news every night out of a control room with a 16 channel audio mixer. If any channel failed, there were 15 others, so no real problem and so on. But there was only one power supply (many pro mixers have two or several distributed ones for this reason). If that single power supply failed, we would have lost the entire news program until we could move to another studio, very, very difficult to do.

Being the senior tech, I pointed this out to the chief engineer as a single point of failure. I got permission to investigate getting a second power supply, but due to the general turmoil at the time, it never happened. Luckily, it didn’t fail.

The reason I mentioned this is the JWST mission and its 34 single points of failure, the failure of any one of which could have killed the entire mission.

Just for example (these are a few of my guesses): the folding of the mirror into its narrow shape to fit into the nose cone of the rocket without damage; the transport of the nose cone containing the telescope to Kourou in Guyana for fitment by giant crane to the rocket; the launch itself; the insertion into initial Earth orbit; the second burn to send it to the Lagrange Point; reaching the precise Lagrange point required; the cast-off of the nose cone to release the mirror sides; the unfolding of the mirror, and so on and so on.

There were 34 ways the mission could have failed and been a write off! Yet everything worked. me think it ‘mazing!!

Now we’re seeing the amazing results:

Tarantula Nebula, JWST credit NASA

This nebula has been photographed many times before, but never in such detail. See https://webbtelescope.org/contents/media/images/2022/041/01GA76MYFN0FMKNRHGCAGGYCVQ?news=true You can download giant (124MB) images.

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In the past months I’ve been watching hundreds of YouTube clips about cars. The best (most relevant to me) are those uploaded by Rainman Ray in Sarasota, Florida. He’s a mechanic/technician at an independent workshop and is a very personable guy. He explains everything in great, but not boring, detail, accompanied by jokes and repeated catchwords and phrases, such as Oops, gravity whenever he drops something, Oodle-loodle-loo when the workshop phone rings, “Nice and shiny”, “Winner, winner, chicken dinner” and so on.

The reason I mention this is because I’ve learnt so much! He just launches in to the diagnosis and dismantling process, explaining what he’s doing and why. Brilliant. Just search for his name on YouTube.

Another is Dave the Car Wizard in Wichita Kansas. He’s a little slow and can be boring, but again he explains everything and shows good video of what he’s doing. His wife, Mrs Wizard :-), does the camera work. Just search on CarWizard.

I can’t remember why I started writing this thread. Anyway, recommended.

Later: now I remember. I’ve been thinking that it’s amazing (there’s that word again) how complex cars are these days. They have many thousands, even tens of thousands of parts. Almost every car is different, even from the same makers, and every part is designed and manufactured to precisely fit its own unique application.

The next amazing (!) thing is how deeply electronics has penetrated cars. BMW in particular has dozens of computer modules scattered throughout their cars, hidden away not just in the engine compartment but under the seats, under the dash, in the boot, in the sides, everywhere. BMW even uses fibre-optic cables to link them all, sending data all over the car at light speeds. I’m sure Mercedes, Audi and all the others are the same.

This is all schmick and clever, but it makes the cars incredibly complex and requires the dealers to have special computers and software to diagnose and fix them. That means that independent repairers are shut out unless they spend thousands of $ with BMW to buy the test gear. That’s if BMW will sell it to them.

The other thing BMW does is encodes the car’s VIN into spare parts, so that each major part is encoded to the particular car. Again, this means that you can’t buy an after-market part and fit it yourself. It won’t work. You have to go to a dealer or an independent with the right test computer to have it encoded.

BMW would tell you it’s a safety issue and I can see their point, but it means that I WILL NOT BUY A BMW! They are notoriously unreliable and expensive to fix when they fail. So there.

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One of my USA cousins put up a Facebook post yesterday, saying that there should be a ban on anyone over 70 running for office.

She is obviously referring to President Biden. I think she doesn’t like him.

I replied, “I’m 75, L–a”, and left it at that. But I should have added, “If you are going to set that age limit, I presume you’ll include everyone, such as company CEOs, bankers, all people holding high offices of responsibility, judges, all political appointees such as Secretaries of State, Defence, Treasury and so on. Doesn’t matter about competency or worth to the country, once they turn 70, OUT!”

Not impressed, L–a.

Nope!

Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine. See below.

Nope, no luck. Another horrible night last night, even though I’d (a) forgotten to take the Duloxetine; (b) read a book rather than use the tablet; (c) lights out at 1am. I lay there until 3am and gave up (as is recommended), got up and made a hot milk drink, watched YouTubes on the desktop PC until 4.30am, went back to bed, read for a short while and STILL couldn’t get to sleep until after 6.30am. I finally dropped off around then, but woke at 7.30am! I finally got up at 10am but hadn’t really slept, with the result that I feel awful now (6.15pm).

I had to see the GP today and told him I can’t tolerate Duloxetine. It’s impossible. Unfortunately, you mustn’t stop it abruptly so I have to taper it off for another week, at least. That means I still have another seven nights of bad sleep.

Meanwhile, the foot pains are coming back. Not as bad, but …

The good news is that all my blood tests were fine (liver function, kidney function, vitamins, iron). The only discrepancy is that my thyroid is marginally low, but we agreed to wait a while before doing anything, if needed.

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The Babbage photo above is especially apt, because the book I’m reading in bed is Innovators by Walter Isaacson, about, you guessed it, innovators down through history.

And I’ve just finished reading chapter 1, which is the story of Charles Babbage around 1820, and Lady Ada of Lovelace, the daughter of Lord Byron. She was quite something, being enraptured by mathematics from a very young age. She was quite obsessed by maths and in particular, by Mr Babbage, 24 years her senior, who designed the machine above. However, he never had the money to build it; the photo above is a modern day replica.

Ada (after whom the high level programming language is named) was quite far ahead of her time and pushed Babbage to design a better machine, to be called the Analytical Engine. Again, it was never built at the time and the machines in the photos are modern day replicas.

Ada was the first to see the potential of using punched cards to program the machine. One set of punched cards, one function; another set, another function, and so on. Just as we load different software programs to do different functions today.

As well, she first came up with the idea of nested functions, conditional branching, recursion and so on, all features of modern software.

Unfortunately, Babbage never could get the money to build his machines, and Ada died of cancer at age 32.

The next genius was Alan Turing during WW2 in the 1940s, and he took his own life. Sic transit.

Aaaah, sleep…

Ain’t that nice?

Miracle! I slept last night. To explain, in order to get relief from my severe diabetic neuropathic pain, I was put onto Duloxetine (again – I’ve used it before). The relief was almost immediate. The absence of pain was noticeable, which means something because you often don’t recognise the absence of pain. That was good.

But! The side effects that made me stop taking it a couple of years ago came roaring back: (1) insomnia. It was immediate. I lie there all night and I just cannot drop off. I’m as relaxed as a jelly, but I’m fully aware until about 6am or so, when I finally drop off. Then I sleep for a couple of hours, maybe three, but then I’m awake and have to get up. I manage to get a few hours during the day, but for the past week or more I’ve been living on only 4-5hrs a night, every night. Not good. I’ve thought I might get used to it, but not so far (except for last night, I suppose).

And (2) The second side effect is restless leg syndrome. It’s an overwhelming need to tense the muscles in the legs and lower body, especially the buttocks. The result is, as well as being unable to sleep, I’m writhing around in the bed for hours at a time. It’s awful.

I tried varying the time of day when I took the med, from breakfast time to immediately before lights out. No difference.

Maybe I’m sleeping very lightly and unaware of it, that’s possible. I feel reasonably rested when I get up. But it can’t be good for me.

The headline refers to the fact that last night I managed to get a good night’s sleep, for the first time in about ten days or more. Why? How?

First, I only went to bed at 1am, reasoning that if I’m not going to sleep, then I may as well stay up. Second, I had a milk based hot drink before I went to bed. Maybe? Third, for the first time in weeks I didn’t use my Samsung tablet in bed before turning the light off. I have it set to night time (warm) colour, to cut the blueness. I read a book for half an hour instead.

So the test will be to try it again tonight. Stay tooned for the next exciting episode.

Nearly forgot – I have a referral to a pain specialist to talk about this neuropathy. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the soonest I can get in is 21 October! This is terrible. It’s lucky my pain is not too serious. Too bad if you have serious chronic pain 24/7. Same as getting in to see my GP. Even though I’ve been a regular for 10 years, I can’t get appointments sooner than for 7-9 days ahead. Too bad if you’re suffering.

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I’m drinking a new beer at the moment, with a very strange name: “I CAN HAS IBU? Volume 2”. I don’t understand it. It has a black and white stick-on label on the can with a couple of pictures of a black cat, and, in a star logo, “107.7 IBU!!” It’s brewed in Melbourne and is 8,7% alcohol b/v, $28 for four cans.

What does it all mean? Ibu means mother in Indonesian, of course, but what’s that got to do with beer and cats? And why Vol. 2? Why 107.7? I have no idea. It tastes good and with that amount of alk, I can feel it already. Yum.

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No car news lately. I admit I haven’t even driven the Peugeot since I got it back on the 8th of August. The Honda is so much more pleasant to drive, and has so much more carrying capacity. It feels so spacious, and the seats are so comfortable. I think I’ll sell the Pug. It’s good, but the novelty has worn off.

I looked on Carsales for the same model, and wow! There are five listed at the moment and the cheapest is $8,500, while the other four are around the $14,000 mark. Wow! Same model, roughly the same year, very similar specs.

Since I only paid $4,400 for mine (and I have to add the $2,400 for the cooling system repairs), I reckon I should be able to get my money back with a bit to spare. Hmmmm.

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I’m regretting my purchase of the Aldi capsule coffee machine. I just don’t find the coffee to my liking. I like it strong with body, and I’m not getting that, even though I’m using their strength 14 capsules. It also doesn’t seem to make it hot enough.

Even though I rebel against Nespresso, due to Nestle’s marketing techniques, I may have to sell this and buy a Nespresso compatible machine, mainly because there are now so many capsules of different brands that are Nespresso compatible. Wider range than Aldi, too. I find I’m not using my Aldi machine because I don’t really like the coffee much.

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Korea is hot. TV, that is. I mentioned that I found Extraordinary Attorney Woo and I’m up to episode 15. Enjoying it immensely. It’s a little inconvenient having to read the subtitles all the time, but it’s not too bad. Attorney Woo is utterly charming and if this is just an actress without autism playing her, it’s a remarkable performance. Remarkable!

I started another series about time travellers and some story about people from the future coming back to do… something… but I got too confused with names. Korean names tend to be… difficult for me, and I have to say, without wishing to offend, that so many Koreans look so similar that I have trouble telling them apart. I gave up on that one after four episodes.

Last night I watched Train to Busan. I visited Busan on the cruise in 2014 and thought I might recognise something.

But it turned out to be a zombie movie! What a joke. Since I wanted to stay up, I watched it to the end. That was two hours that I won’t get back. I avoid zombie movies usually, but I got sucked in for that one.

Anyway, in general, I’m not averse to watching Korean TV shows. Not bad stuff, usually.

She’s home

Brrrrrr, my fingies are stiff with cold, even though the sun is shining and the clouds have moved away temporarily. It rained last night and this morning.

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M’selle Evie est dans la maison! Eight weeks she was away. Did I miss her? Shall we say that her memory improved in her absence, but the reality on her return soon kicked me in the backside.

Yes, eight weeks to fix a cooling system leak, and a bill of $2,388 although that includes an oil and filter change. Urrrggh. Can’t be helped, but it’s annoying that it makes absolutely no difference to how the car feels. The workshop mentioned that they felt the engine is misfiring and when they cleared the codes, it went away. I had high hopes for a big difference in smoothness. Nope, it’s still as lumpy as ever.

So do I throw more money at the problem? It’s only at idle that it’s lumpy. It drives OK once the revs are up and there’s plenty of power. Injectors are not difficult to replace and having watched so many mechanic YouTube clips lately, I should be capable of doing the job. But they cost $125 each, and I should replace all six to be sure, so that’s $750, plus a bit more for new washers.

I think I need to sell her. There’s a sucker born every minute and I was a sucker, I think. I knew it felt like this when I bought it, but paid out the money anyway. I just need to find someone else who wants such a beautiful car.

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I had to get an Uber drive to the RAC workshops in Joondalup to collect Evie. You’ll remember that Tuesday was a howling, raining, helluva day. I tried to judge a gap in the rain, but when my ride arrived, the rain was horizontal. He pulled up onto the verge and I turned to lock the front door. The rain chose that moment to increase in intensity, so I put my hand up to ask him to wait a bit while I sheltered from the storm.

I spent no more than two minutes over all this, then got in the car and off we went.

Imagine my surprise when I got the in-line invoice showing the charge – the bastard had added $3.50 for “Wait time”. Grrrrr! With “booking fee”, what started out as a $27 ride turned out to cost $32.50. Grrr. I’ve made a complaint.

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So, sell the Honda or the Verada too? I really enjoy driving the Honda, but it’s big, heavy and drinks fuel – 16L/100Km or worse. Tyres cost a lot. But it’s very reliable.

The Verada is also a pleasure to drive and maintenance is not too expensive, although I had to shell out $350 for a mass airflow sensor a few months ago. It’s also a bit heavy on fuel – 12.5L/100Km, but I drive so little that I can go months between fills.

Which leads to the thought – what if I dispensed with owning a car altogether? I hardly go anywhere these days. What if I just used taxis? No more licence costs, no more insurance, no more repairs. No more fuel bills, no more repair costs. It makes overwhelming sense.

But I enjoy driving! How often do I do any long drive? About once a year now, so rent a nice car if I know I have a long drive coming up. That would make sense. Hmmmm. If I found I’d made a mistake in giving up cars, then I could buy something again.

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Which reminds me, from everything I’ve learned and everything I’ve heard, don’t buy a BMW! They are nice cars and when they are going well, they are beautiful to drive. But they go wrong in so many ways, and when you try to fix them, the parts cost a fortune and many parts can’t be replaced by the home mechanic because they are “chipped”, that it they have to be identified to the car’s VIN and engine computer, which can only be done by a dealer.

Same with Mercedes – beautiful cars, and I yearn to own one, but be prepared to pay out thousands each year for servicing and parts. They seem to be more reliable than BMWs, but they still break far too often and when they do, it’s the Check Wallet light that comes on in the dash.

In fact, I will generalise and say, Don’t Buy a European Car! I’ll never buy a Mercedes or BMW, which is a bit like saying I’ll never become an astronaut, but you know what I mean. Too unreliable and too expensive to fix.

No, there are only two cars to buy, Toyota or Honda. Japanese cars are so reliable in comparison. If the Japanese can do it, how come the Germans can’t? The Koreans have come a long, long way and KIA’s seven year warranty shows the confidence they have in their products, so they could be contenders, but such boring cars.

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I’ve found another YouTube mechanic channel, Diagnose Dan. Wow, this guy is good at diagnosis, which is why other workshops and dealers send him their hard-to-fix cars.

Dan is a bit of a pain to watch because he waves his hands around all the time and speaks so slowly and deliberately. He repeats himself. What did I say? He repeats himself, get it?

But if you have any difficult problem, you’d learn a lot by watching these clips. He’s in Europe, Holland I think, but it’s all in English. Recommended.

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I’m watching a fascinating series on Netflix at the moment, which I’ll name in a minute. The series The Good Doctor on Seven is derived from a Korean original, where an autistic guy becomes a surgeon. Hard to believe, but it’s only TV. The point is, he’s a high functioning savant who can recall masses of detail from his text books and reading. In the series, he has a mentor who is the surgical director or a major hospital in San Jose (I think), California. I was very sceptical at first and it’s very choreographed, but it got me in and I’ve watched all the episodes so far.

OK, now I’m engrossed in another Korean series, and it’s the original show with subtitles, called Extraordinary Attorney Woo. Yes, she’s also a high functioning autistic savant who trained as a lawyer, topping her uni classes, and is taken on by a Seoul law firm called Hanbada.

Part of her autism is that she tends to repeat favourite phrases, particularly her name which in full is Woo Young Woo. Whenever she’s introduced, she says her name, then lists five or six palindromic words which, strangely, are English words such as …….. bloody ‘ell, my mind’s gone blank. Point being, her name in Korean is a palindrome. It’s odd that the show uses English words, but maybe they’re just substituting Korean words which are palindromic.

Anyway, she can recall and recite practically any law, ordinance or statute at will. That would be handy to have.

But she’s also obsessed by whales and dolphins, any sea creatures like that, and whenever she has a brainwave, she sees a whale swimming by in her mind, or outside the window of her office block, whichever you want to believe.

At first I was sceptical, but I admit this series has grabbed me. She’s utterly charming and beautiful, for one thing, and it’s fascinating to see Korean life and what Seoul looks like. Quite like Japan, to be honest, very clean and neat and everyone bows to each other. Not a bad habit to have, I reckon.

Anyway, Extraordinary Attorney Woo. Recommended. Netflix.

On the road again

The Pug is fixed and ready. See below.

Brrrrrrr, only 16C maximum today, so they predict. I suppose it would help if I put my warm jacket on.

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At last, I got a call from the RAC workshop to say the Peugeot is ready. They’ve replaced all the hoses and fittings in the cooling system and it’s not leaking, so it’s done. I’m picking it up on Monday. The final bill? $2,288.05. Ugh. What’s annoying is that the car won’t feel any different. It’s not as if this was a performance tune up or a fix for some knock or rattle. It’s just a fix for coolant leaks. Plus an oil and filter change. I suppose that will make me feel better.

Can’t be helped. What am I supposed to do, refuse the repairs and scrap the car? No, it’s in great condition. I suppose it’s shown me that to have two cars sitting in the garage, and another one sitting out in the laneway is um, a little crazy. I’ve missed the Pug, and I’m really looking forward to driving it again, but the Honda feels great too. What to do? I’ll have to seriously consider selling two of them, but which two? I like them all.

My friend who borrowed the Verada has finally been paid out by the RAC Insurance for his crashed car, so he’ll want to return mine. I want him to buy that Verada from me, but although he hasn’t explicitly said no, he keeps going on about the fuel economy, or lack of it. It runs about 12.5L/100Km, or can be up to 14L/100Km. For me, with all my short trips, that’s not a problem, but he does a lot of driving to jobs around the city. I’ve actually had it down to 8L/100Km on freeway driving and in cruise control, but you can’t do that all the time.

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The pain in my side feels somewhat better yesterday and today. I can still feel it at the moment (11.23am) but it’s bearable. I’ve been taking the recommended laxative and it’s kinda working; could that be the cause? Surely not? I hope it is, I hope it’s that simple.

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I’m being annoyed by a stupid thing with my landline phone. I’ve got a Panasonic cordless system with three handsets, one on the base station (which incorporates a digital answering machine) next to the computer, and two other handsets, one in the meals area and one next to my bed.

The problem is it’s decided that I’ve got a voicemail, and it’s flashing the LED on top of all the handsets to let me know. But there is no voice mail! There’s a menu item and the phone just says “The number you have dialled is not available.” But I didn’t dial any number! I can’t delete it, and I can’t stop the LEDs flashing.

Why does this matter? Because in my darkened bedroom at night, the flashing LED is enough to be annoying. It lights up the room (to a small degree). I want it to stop!

I’ve been through all the menus and I’ve removed all the batteries and the power to the base station for half an hour, to try to clear everything. Result? No difference.

Aaaarrrrgh! I don’t know what to do. This is a ten year old device – I’ve thought of getting onto a support forum, but would there be such a thing? Would Panasonic know anything? I guess I’ll have to try.

Of course, the simplest answer would be to cut small pieces of black tape and place them over the LEDs. How ridiculous.

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I slept well last night and I think I’m finally getting a handle on what affects whether I have a good night or not.

I’m pretty clear on what medication I can take and when, or not take as the case may be.

But, very annoying, I’ve finally realised that what they say about alcohol being detrimental to sleep seems to be true, for me. I’ve realised that I can’t drink after about 7pm. Unless I decide to have an enjoyable night and polish off a bottle or so. Very rare these days.

But there’s another thing – I like listening to the radio in the early hours. The routine is that I go lights out at around 11.30pm after reading for a while, then drop off fairly quickly until about 1am – 1.30am. Always. Can’t seem to stay asleep.

Up for a pee, then the radio goes on. Can’t seem to stop myself. ABC News Radio, which is the BBC at that time. Lots of interesting stuff. But I can still drop off to sleep with the radio going. Up again around 4.30am (old man’s problem) and World Business Report from the BBC on Radio National at 5am, followed by the Health Report at 5.30am on Mondays, Law Report Tuesdays and so on. I know all the schedules.

I’ve read that insomnia is one of the problems of old age. It’s true. I do sleep, but never right through. Sigh.

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I’m just reading about some new glasses developed by a company called XRAI Glass that are designed for deaf people. They have a microphone and electronics built into the frame. The mic picks up what people are speaking and the electronics translates it in real time, then projects it in front of the glasses for the deaf person to read. Instantly.

What a good idea. The glasses are a little bulky but not too bad: https://petapixel.com/2022/07/29/smart-glasses-allow-deaf-people-to-see-real-time-conversation-captions/

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Which reminds me – 3M are marketing a mask with N95 specifications called Aura. It’s supposed to have extra sealing around the bridge of your nose which stops the exhaled air escaping upwards and fogging your glasses.

I asked at my local pharmacy and they knew about them; one of the assistants was actually wearing one, but they said they can’t stock them and they are only available to health professionals. Huh? The 3M ad shows a Bunnings logo and Bunnings stock them at $43.50 for a pack of ten. Trouble is, they are out of stock near me and I have to drive to Wangara. OK, the sun’s out, so that’s where I’m going this afternoon.

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Many years ago, around 1966 to 1970 or so, I used to work with a guy at TVW7 called Mike Humphry. I learnt during the week that he’s published a book about his times as an Outside Broadcast supervisor, first at TVW7 in Perth, then at SAS10 (later (SAS7) in Adelaide.

He’s entitled it Mike’s Memories – crumbs, I think he could have come up with a more imaginative title, but it doesn’t matter. I immediately ordered a copy and it should be here this week, I hope.

Interestingly, the book web site (Booktopia) said it’s printed to order, so when you pay, a copy is produced. Good idea.

As soon as I heard about this book, the jealousy monster dug into me and I got the urge to restart work on my memoirs. I have started on the early Sydney years and I wrote about 40 pages on my time at TVW for a book project which another guy tried to get going via FaceBook. Unfortunately it failed, because only about five people (me included) contributed anything.

At least I made a good start, but I ended my chapter way early. I have much, much more to add and expand on. This is giving me the strong urge to get going again.

A friend told me once that when you find yourself drifting, unable to get going on a book or video production or slide show or whatever, the answer is to set a deadline. Set yourself a date, such as Christmas, that it must be finished by. I followed his advice on a slide show once and it worked. OK, I have to finish my memoirs by Xmas. Promise. But which Xmas?

The grain in Ukraine

Lightning in the clouds of Jupiter. Webb Space Telescope image.

Aaaah, nice day today and my washing was dry. I hung it out last Thursday and as usual, couldn’t be bothered bringing it in too soon. Well, rain! It rained on Friday, then Saturday and Sunday it bucketed down, didn’t it? My washing got a beautiful extra rainwater rinse. That’s great, by my reckoning. Saves me ironing. As if I would, he he. I haven’t ironed anything in five years. 🙂

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Phew! PHEW!! Good news. I had a C/T scan last Friday for the pain in my side, and as you can imagine I’ve been shitting bricks ever since. I’ve been pretty worried, that’s for sure.

But the doctor phoned a little while ago and said it’s all clear, nothing to worry about. Liver’s a bit enlarged, but I knew that. Mainly, he said I’m too constipated and I need to use a laxative. OK, that’s easy. The trouble is, the opioid pain relief tablets I’ve been taking cause constipation. Damn, I can’t seem to find anything in the analgesic department that (a) works; (b) doesn’t cause me insomnia; and (c) doesn’t have side effects like that.

So what’s causing this pain? It’s like a reverse pin cushion with a bunch of needles and it’s being pushed into my left abdomen, just below the rib cage. It varies, bad at times, hardly anything at others. Still as long as it’s nothing ominous, that’s OK.

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The doctor I saw who ordered the C/T scan is the haematologist, for my CLL. More good news: the blood results from last Tuesday show an improvement. Another “Phew!”

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Re the Peugeot, we’re now into the sixth week that it’s been at the RAC workshops and still no news. They usually phone me each week to give progress reports and ask permission to proceed, but they didn’t call at all last week and they haven’t today so far.

The last time they called, the bill was around $2,400 plus another amount for labour. Ouch!! Frankly, I’m glad they’re not calling. I’m happy to delay paying that bill, especially as this is council rates (~$1,200) time of year and I had to pay the licence fee for the Honda ($950) last week. Life is expensive!

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I saw some vision of the new Hyundai and KIA electric cars last week. Holy smoke! These are so advanced, so technologically and stylistically superior that I’m left thinking how far behind we have fallen in that area, automotive design and manufacturing.

Hyundai IONIQ 6
Hyundai IONIQ 6
KIA EV6

Damn, we once had a strong Australian car industry! Not that long ago, less than 20 years, GM Holden, Ford and Mitsubishi made great cars, designed and manufactured in this country, as good as anything from overseas. Toyota and Nissan assembled imported parts and customised the cars to our conditions.

But it’s all gone! All thrown on the scrap heap, wasted due to government rulings. I know it’s not as simple as that, but South Korea has leapt ahead of us. Light years ahead. Their electronics industry is far superior and forging ahead. We not only can’t compete, we don’t even try.

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I’m old enough to remember when Australia not only designed and made electronic goods (radios, TVs, stereos, car radios etc), we also made ALL the parts needed to build them. We made valves (vacuum tubes), CRTs, transistors, integrated circuits (ICs, “chips”), resistors, capacitors and every other part needed to design and build electronic items. Now? There’s a small scale integrated circuit manufacturing capacity left, but just about everything else has been abandoned to imported components. Made in China!

That means we have almost no electronics manufacturing capacity in this country any more. That has huge implications for defence. Modern military equipment is packed to the rafters with the highest tech electronics you can imagine, and a helluva lot you can’t imagine. If military conflict breaks out, which is looking more and more likely, we will need overseas suppliers and supply lines, and that’s not guaranteed. Not by a long shot.

We do make military equipment in Australia (Bushmaster APCs for example), but how much reserve capacity is there. Maybe we don’t hear about it. I hope so, but I doubt it.