Bunker bulldust day 174

Malaysia 1990 © PJ Croft

Lovely day today. It reached 24.8C yesterday, yay! And starting Sunday, 24, Mon 27, Tues 26, Wed 25… Aaaah, Spring ist sprungin’

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Look what I’ve bought:

I found it on eBay, GBP15, with postage and GST about A$45. I couldn’t resist.

In case anyone is wondering, my nickname is Bull, hence all the references to Bull’s Roar, bulldust and so on. I was given that nickname when some kid put a boiling hot teaspoon on my leg under the table in my first few days at boarding school when I was 14. Apparently I roared like a bull. It’s stuck with many of my old school friends and I don’t mind the name.

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I’ve often thought about this: you might know your own name, but you can’t actually prove who you are. Not unless you were tattooed at birth with an identifier, or had your DNA taken at an early age so that it could be matched now.

I have my original 1947 birth certificate that I’d wave if I were challenged, but some other person could steal that from me and assume my identity. I have lots of photos of myself going way back, but my name has been added by me so it doesn’t prove anything beyond doubt. Just a thought.

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I’ve had two calls on my mobile phone (my “handy”) this morning. One was from Greenpeace. I’ve responded to some of their appeals in the past and made a few donations, but I don’t want any more involvement than that. This call was from a young sounding guy who started massaging me and I could tell he was leading on to ask me for a donation. As I said, I’m not a big supporter of Greenpeace because I think they go too far at times, so I just said “Sorry, I don’t want to continue this call” and hung up. Damn, I don’t want calls like this. I usually give my phone number as 0499 999 999 or similar, but they’ve got my real number. Grrr.

Then the second one was from Telstra – “Your internet connection is going to be cut off…” I hung up on that one too, but damn, they’ve not only got my landline number but now my mobile as well. Damn, damn, damn them. It’s a plague, a fungus getting through the cracks.

The caller number showed, so maybe I could block it, but there’ll be a next time. Pests!

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Bali 1983. Good flesh tones. No, I don’t know her. © PJ Croft 2020

I’m installing my new Epson Ecotank 7700 printer, and wow, ten big bottles of ink. There seems to be two of each of four colours and black. The black ink bottles are about 250ml and the colours are about 150ml. I will be very happy with this, I think. I’ve found it has a CD printing tray as well, which I didn’t see in the specs. I use that frequently and definitely want it. Hooray!

Along with shifting the desk and replacing a blown halogen downlight that’s been nagging me for some time, and being able to do away with a long USB cable to the printer (wi-fi connection) and tossing two old printers, satisfaction.

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Bali 1980 © PJ Croft 2020

I ordered two 2TB hard drives, the spinning type, from Amazon and I’ve had two emails from them in the past week saying they are coming with DHL delivery, but not when.

Then this morning I got another two emails saying they will be delivered today by DHL. Well, I need to go out and at 3.15pm nothing has arrived*. There’s no tracking on DHL’s emails so I can’t tell where they are or when they’ll be here.

This is yet another poor service from DHL. I’ve had a few bad experiences with them and I wouldn’t use them in a fit. Not happy.

*PS 3.30pm: DHL has just dropped off my two packages, but they’re not the hard drives, they’re two copies of the Croft History 2nd edition I ordered for my USA cousins. I ordered three – where’s the third?

I need to post them on to the USA so I don’t want to open them. But I’m too tempted.

Bali 1986 © PJ Croft 2020

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From Crikey.com.au today: Emirates check in According to a tipster, the foreign staff sacked by Emirates in Dubai midyear are having a very tough time leaving the United Arab Emirates by the deadlines set by the government-owned airline.

Under UAE law, the staff must sell up all their assets — and it’s not exactly a seller’s market: if they can’t settle their debts, they are threatened with jail. The UAE has no bankruptcy laws, so anyone who misses car or credit card repayments, or defaults on their mortgage is at serious risk. It’s why the country has, for example, thousands of abandoned luxury cars.

According to our tipster, Emirates is not helping with their departures. Nor, they say, does the Australian government seem particularly interested in helping these people get home.

It’s a pity people go there just to earn the big money, then find themselves in this kind of trouble. What a nasty place where you can go to jail for such minor reasons and be denied legal or consular aid. Nasty people. Stay away!

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OK, now I can go out. I need a big sink plunger and a new sink P trap. My bathroom basin has been clogged (slow draining) for ages and I’ve removed the existing plastic P trap to clear it. But the seal is damaged and I can’t get it to re-seal. It’s cheaper and quicker to buy a new one.

But, Oh my legs!! I’m trying to work way low down under the bench and my muscles, the ones I’ve got left, are protesting loudly. I hate getting old.

Bunker bulldust day 173

COVID Confusion?

Aaah, lovely day with warm air outside, about 21deg. Rain is forecast for later, though, but my washing is done and dry so rain all you like, Mr Weatherman.

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I mentioned The Online Photographer, Mike Johnson’s web log yesterday, and how he writes a very personal story at times such that I feel I’ve got to know him, almost as a friend, even though we’ve never met and never will.

I did what I promised, increased my Patreon monthly donation (to US$8) and it seems many others did too as he’s written a very sincere thanks today. He admits to a bit of depression. That’s OK, I’d say most of us, me included, feel that way at times and especially now that we don’t meet face-to-face with friends so much.

Personally, I’ve lived alone for so long that this is nothing much different. I regularly go a week without speaking to anyone except the checkout lady at the supermarket. Visiting the doctor or the pharmacy is a social occasion for me. I can fully understand how it must be for a normally gregarious person, though.

Mike lives alone too, in a semi rural area, but he has two dogs which would help. I’ve thought a lot about getting another dog but as much as I remember the good times, I also remember the chewed furniture, the dog hair, the smell in the house, the dog poop on the lawn, the flies it brought, the vet costs, the barking, the hassles while walking and so on. I went through some rough times with my dogs. I miss ’em, but I don’t miss the hassles. If I had my partner here to share things with it would be different. Not much chance of that for a good while yet, if ever.

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I’m ploughing on with the photo enhancements. When you do them, a copy is stored on the MyHeritage website servers too, presumably so that photos of relatives can be added to your family tree. But I got a warning that I was running out of room so I deleted almost all of them. I have my copies here, I don’t need them stored for me.

Some recent work:

1962 Roy Reynolds, Jim Weston, Me at “the Hut”, Northam.
1969 Aunt Marion, Me, Grandma Croft, Dad, Mum, at Maxine’s wedding.
A Bali girl 1980. I shot this on film with a 135mm lens and it was always a bit too unsharp. Now it’s much better. Isn’t she beautiful!
Comparison. 1994.
1996 in Jakarta.
1992 in Japan.
1983 in Bali.
1960s Mum.
2001 in my second year of retirement. I gained 10Kg in the first year!
March 1996 Dad, Maxine, Mum 3 months before she died.

I’ve also realised that you can put the enhanced photo through again if the first level is not enough:

It can’t work miracles but my face is much better and that’s what counts 😉

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Hmmm, iiNet has sent me a new SIM card for my phone and is offering waiver of two months fees if I register and use it. WHY? There must be a catch somewhere in the terms and conditions. Trouble is, although I have a letter with the new T&Cs, I don’t have the old ones to compare with. I can’t see anything bad but… I’ll let the thing sit here for a few weeks while I make up my mind but I’ll give in sooner or later.

I hope registering this one doesn’t stop the old SIM card working because I do have two phones. The other one is a 2014 cheapie but I dropped my current phone, a OnePlus 3T a few nights ago onto my hard tiled floor and it was deaded for a while. I was starting to worry, but then I banged it on the table and it worked again. Phew! I’m happy with it and I don’t want to have to buy a new one.

Actually, I have household insurance. Dropping a phone might be covered. Must check it out.

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Slowly, slowly does it. I’ve lifted my two printers off the other desk and now I can clean it and move it a bit to the left, as I’ve wanted to for a while.

The old Canon goes to the tip (what a waste, working except for a partly blocked yellow nozzle, can’t give it away), and now I can get the big A3+ Epson R2880 out into the strong light so I can find why it won’t feed the paper properly. I’d really like to replace it as it’s more than 10 years old, but what do I do with it? To the tip, too? What a pity that would be. Electronics waste is a problem.

Likewise with all those cameras I mentioned yesterday. Many of them I never use, but they’re almost worthless. They still work and cost nothing to run, but… what do I do with them?

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I mentioned Hong Kong yesterday too, and how I’m glad I’ve been there (twice) but I’ll never go again. Likewise with the Chinese mainland.
I’ve seen Shanghai:

Shanghai 2014 © PJ Croft 2020
Shanghai 2014

And Beijing:

Beijing 2014 © PJ Croft 2020
The Wall – no, I didn’t go up – too cold and windy! © PJ Croft 2020

But I’ll never go back there, and neither will anyone else from the West if they have any sense, because Xi Jin Ping is showing the true colours of this Communist military dictatorship. The mask is off and the fangs are showing.

What’s the motivation of this guy? It seems to be simply the accumulation of power both to himself (making himself chairman for life?!) and for China. He wants China to be number 1 in the world.

But you can’t eat power. It’s not something you can wear to parties and show off. If you make deadly enemies of the rest of the world in the process, is that going to make you feel better? I suppose for him it will.

In the case of Hong Kong he’s killed its status as the financial powerhouse of Asia. Maybe not completely yet, but it would be a brave Western country which set up there now. I think Hong Kong is going to go into a quite fast decline as people who value their freedom leave. So how does that benefit mainland China?

Dictator Xi must realise that he hasn’t got a friend in the world, except perhaps for Russia, Vlad the Poisoner Putin, and a smattering of third rate eastern European dictatorships like Belarus and Kazakhstan. When China is the world’s biggest economy, so what? Without friends, what have you got?

China is showing itself to be a naked military/communist dictatorship, liars, thieves, criminals who steal the West’s ideas and intellectual property, bullies, oppressors, torturers, bad people to be avoided. A shameful pariah in the world. How would I feel if I were a Chinese citizen and knew that my country was reviled throughout the rest of the world?

I’ve been there, but I will never, ever go again.

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I’ve been watching “Further Back in Time for Dinner” on the ABC. It’s a show where each episode takes a modern family back to the way people lived in the past.

The first series covered the decades from 1950 to the present and I enjoyed it because it was all very familiar.

This new series covers the decades from 1900-1910 and last night, 1910-1920. There will be an episode for each decade up to 1950.

The main thing I’m getting is how familiar it is and how similar it is to the way we lived in the 1950s. They had an outside dunny – so did we. There was no such thing as toilet paper in rolls – you used torn sheets of newspaper – I remember that. There was no electricity in 1900-1910. We only had a 32V DC generator at the “brown house”, the Bruce Rock farm. If Dad didn’t start it for any reason, then there was no power. But we had almost no electrical appliances anyway so it didn’t matter. We had a radio and I think we might have had an early barrel vacuum cleaner, and a Mixmaster, but that was about it. The stoves burned wood and we toasted over the coals with a toasting fork. All cooking was done on the stove or in the oven. Hot water? I can’t remember exactly but I think we had either a kerosene water heater or a wood burning one.

And the food? It was almost always meat, sheep meat, chops, roast mutton, sometimes beef but being a wheat and sheep farm, the only beef cattle we had was a cow or two. As I said, chicken was a once a year delicacy at Xmas. A fridge? I think we had a kerosene burning one, but I well remember the ice box when we moved to Rockingham in 1959. There used to be an ice man who brought big 400x300x200mm blocks of dripping wet ice covered in a hessian bag from his truck using big tongs.

My point is, for the first couple of decades of my life, we lived much as they did in the early decades of last century. Progress was very slow. We had a car but to start it, you had to use a crank handle.

I’m enjoying this show.

Bunker bulldust day 172

KL railway station 1990. © PJ Croft 2020

Errrgh, it’s been all cloudy again, and cool. Not too bad now (3.15pm). Where’s our Spring gone? I saw a prediction for 27deg next Sunday, but this morning they’d dialled it back to 24deg. Even so, I gotta have that!

(I’ve just corrected the day number. It’s getting a bit confusing.)

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Hong Kong 27 Oct 2014. I’m glad I’ve been there because it’s not a tourism destination any longer.

I don’t know what’s happening but three of the photography blogs I read have closed recently. What a shame! The photography on one, in particular, Ming Thein, is really good, really different, inspiring for me. It shows the beauty and design in everyday scenes, objects, buildings that we miss. I often read this to train my eye, to absorb his style, even to copy at times, I must admit.

He’s a Malaysian Chinese guy working mostly in KL but travels a lot and holds field courses, a bit too expensive for me.

Another I read almost daily up to now is Visual Science Lab. Despite the name, it’s not science, it’s largely about a guy called Kirk Tuck in Austin, Texas and his work as a pro photographer. Much of his shooting is in a theatre and there are many fine portraits of actors and dancers. There’s a lot of gear talk as well, and a lot about what it’s like to live in Austin during these strange lockdown times.

He’s a prolific writer – almost too verbose some days, but I’ve been reading for many years. He stopped once before, but came back, but now he says he’s stopping for good. It’s a pity.

The other one is Imaging Resource https://www.imaging-resource.com/ They almost stopped a few months ago but seem to have been rescued, for how long I don’t know.

The main blog I read every day without fail is The Online Photographer written by Mike Johnson in the Finger Lakes region of New York State, USA. He’s a former magazine writer and editor who went through some very lean years after the magazine business became unprofitable but has found a niche in this blog. He writes in a very personal style and from the email exchanges we’ve had in the past decade, I almost feel I know him. He’s had some big battles in his life but seems to have turned a corner some years ago.

He wrote a piece earlier this year about plant based eating that inspires me. He’s lost a lot of weight, has much more energy and sleeps a lot better. I could do with some of that. I recommend reading: Diet Experiment Update I’m inspired to follow his advice, although, because he had a drinking problem, he doesn’t drink alcohol. That’s my downfall – the thought of giving up my modest intake of fine beer and wine is almost unthinkable.

The good news, however, is that Mike says he’s not going to join the blogging retirees, he’ll continue, which pleases me greatly. I feel grateful enough to be obligated so I make a monthly Patreon contribution to keep him going. If you use something, you should pay for it.

The main thrust of his recent article is that photography is almost dying. The damned camera phone has almost taken over – no-one wants to carry a serious camera any more and manufacturers are closing down. Only 25 years ago there were around 20 makers of serious equipment, but one by one they’ve given up so that Nikon, Canon, Fuji, Sony, Panasonic, Pentax and Leica are the only survivors. Olympus has recently announced they have sold their camera business to an outside company, with an uncertain future.

The cost of cameras has risen markedly too. Most new cameras from the big five are US$2,000 upwards and that’s just for the body. You’ll need to spend nearly another $1,000 for a lens. (Not all are this price, but the good ones are.) Point and shoots like this Canon are almost gone. It’s quite depressing.

On the other hand, I could be using one of my ten digital cameras!
Olympus OM-D E-M1
Olympus E-PL2
Olympus E-PL3
Pentax K-5
Sony RX-10
Nikon P950
Fuji S100fs
Sigma DP2
Panasonic FZ1000
Panasonic FZ30
and maybe another one or two I’ve forgotten! Plus my phone and tablet cameras, which are not half bad.

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I used the word spud for potato yesterday and it set me wondering, where does that come from? The Etymology Dictionary says it’s –
Mid 15th century – small or poor knife, probably from Danish spyd, … and so on. Then it says – that of “potato” is first recorded 1845 in New Zealand English.

New Zealand English? How odd. I didn’t know there was such a thing. This Etymology Dictionary is very good for finding where words come from. I use it a lot.

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This is Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions from 2000 to 2018.

Note the almost unrelenting upward trend except for the period between 2012 – 14 when the Labor government had a tax on emissions. Surprise, surprise, industry didn’t want to pay, so they reduced their emissions.

Then Tony Abbott came along and campaigned on the word TAX. He didn’t care what it was for or what effect it was having, all he saw was the chance to win the electorate over with his campaign of lies, and when he won, he removed the tax. Look what happened – emissions went up again, sharply.

This is the guy who says “Climate change is crap.”

From The Guardian: “Abbott broke almost every election promise he made, except his promise to remove the carbon tax that was actually working to reduce Australia’s CO2 emissions.” See above.

He only lasted two years as PM before his own colleagues saw what an idiot he is and replaced him with “Turncoat” Turnbull.

Now the idiotic UK Conservative government under Boris Johnson has appointed him as their Special Trade Envoy. He wasn’t good enough in this country – he lost his seat in the last election – but he’s good enough for Boris.

It’s a good match: they are both blatant liars and fools. It means that Abbott will now be representing the British government in free trade talks with the Australian government. Where are his loyalties? We don’t know. In my view, his loyalties will flow to whoever scratches his back. He’s a traitor and a fool. Good luck Boris and you Poms.

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I’d better get back to writing about less contentious subjects – I feel my hackles have risen too much.

I was chatting with my lawnmower man this morning and it seems I may have a possible buyer for the Honda MDX. He sees it in the garage and trusts me to tell him its history and condition. I have a few things to fix on it first, mainly the throttle position sensor (maybe 1 hour’s work), the RH passenger door lock mechanism, the radio antenna bad connection and fitting a reversing camera that I bought for it, since the Pioneer AV radio can take a camera input.

I have all the parts. All these are relatively small jobs but fiddly, with lots of finger pains involved. Best in warmer weather.

And a bit more…

Bird brains.

One of the headlines in The Guardian yesterday or thereabouts is how stupid Boris Johnson is. From their editorial a couple of weeks ago –

Mr Johnson’s record through the pandemic remains consistent only in its slovenliness.

And today:

In the UK, few will forget this year’s A-level algorithm. A-levels are key exams for 18-year olds; they make or break college offers. COVID-19 canceled them. Teachers were asked what each pupil would have scored. But the government fed these numbers into an algorithm alongside the school’s past performance. Result: 40 percent of all teacher estimates were downgraded, which nixed college for high-achieving kids in disadvantaged areas. Boris Johnson backed down, eventually, blaming a “mutant algorithm.” Still, even a former colleague of the prime minister thinks the A-level fiasco may torpedo his re-election chances.

The British people are starting to wake up to the fact that they’ve elected someone who is plain incompetent. He was a proven liar throughout his career, yet people believed him! Why on earth did you vote for him, then?

This week the British government has appointed our former PM Tony Abbott as their Senior Trade Commissioner (he was born in London so is a UK citizen). That just proves their stupidity. Abbott is known for his homophobia, his anti-same sex marriage views and his dismissal of climate science. He started appointing Australian “knights” without even consulting his own cabinet colleagues. The few who were appointed are now left in limbo, with an honour not recognised by anyone (Peter Cosgrove, what were you thinking when you accepted it??? And when he did this, it devalued our former highest Australian honour, the AC. Stupid!).

If you want a laugh, the Gadfly column of the Saturday Paper is excellent today:

Concerns have been expressed that Abbott, who was born in Britain before tragically relocating to Australia, will not be operating in Australia’s best interests. In fairness to Abbott, that is entirely consistent with his tenure as prime minister, when he was operating in Rupert Murdoch’s best interests.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison described Abbott’s appointment as a “good hire”, although take that with a grain of salt as he’s the man who hired Scott Cam as Australia’s “national careers ambassador”. Abbott has made no official comment on his appointment but sources close to him tell us the former PM’s eventual statement will involve a series of long pauses and something about shirtfronting trade barriers.

It makes you want to cry. The stupidity, the dispensing of patronage. In Britain, about GBP12,500 buys you a seat in the House of Lords and the title of Lord. It stinks of corruption, yet it happens. I despair.

Bunker bulldust day 169

Grandma Doris Croft at a picnic, 1930s? Note the tinned butter (round tin, bit hard to see).

I’m starting to lose track of the day number. It might be day 170 but I’d have to do a count and it doesn’t matter enough. Anyway, greetings to my great readers. It’s a 7.5Byoot day here, maybe even 8Byoots, clear blue sky, almost no wind, 21C. Lovely. Spring is in the air.

I’ve been out the back, raking up all the fallen limes from my tree. It took five years to start fruiting, and I was beginning to wonder if it wouldn’t, but now I can’t use them fast enough. They’re going bad in the bowl and I’m having to throw them out. I’ve juiced quite a few and frozen the juice as ice blocks, but it’s very sour. I’ve also halved them and frozen a bagfull, but it’s just as easy to use a fresh one. I’ve offered them to a few people but I can’t get any takers. I suppose I could put a box on my front wall and invite people to take free limes. Yes, I’ll do that.

I’ve also been spreading potting mix and compost on the garden beds, prior to planting some vegetable seeds. I bought some on-line back in April when the craze was on and they took more than a month to arrive (from the Perth hills area) as demand was so strong. I haven’t planted them yet, and I found many packets of the more common ones in Aldi yesterday. Must get to it. Need more compost.

I’m finding my Breville Air Fryer Oven excellent for roasting veges. A couple of nights ago, I roasted a $5 aluminium tray-full and put two chicken sausages on top too. Plus two small spuds sliced up. I had to turn the sausages and give it a little longer, but it worked a treat. I’ve kept the tray, so I’ll do more tonight.

I’ll never starve! My fridge is packed with all kinds of food. I see delicious prepared meals (not pre-prepared!) and I can’t resist. I’m the scavenger, too. Anything that’s near or past use-by date is for me. I figure it helps the shops get rid of their doubtful stock, as well as helping my budget.

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I had the pre-paid funeral lady here on Thursday. Phwooaaar, she was a Glasgow Scot, maybe 50, very pretty and with pure white hair, cut fairly short. Wow, I was smitten. That Scottish accent. I wish I spoke like that.

But she was straight down to business, and if I wandered into chatting, she quickly brought me back to the subject. No time for socialising with her.

Unfortunately, I told her up-front, after she showed me their prices, that it was more than double the amount I’ve seen on other websites. She showed me their barebones offer, but even that was $1,000 higher. She left me their quote but I doubt I’ll be using that company.

When I started looking, I found a company that’s local (Malaga – in Perth, not Spain) and sounded OK, but despite leaving my details and two requests on their website a couple of months apart for them to contact me, they never have. Obviously, they don’t monitor their website. I figure if they can’t do that, what will they do when my time comes?

I’ll just have to contact this cheaper company and compare detail by detail, component by component. I don’t want frills or a full chapel service. All I want is a cremation (by law, you have to have a coffin) and a space at Pinnaroo for a gathering if people want to come. I know a funeral celebrant, a guy I used to work with, Harvey Deegan. I was surprised that he remembered me last time I saw him at a funeral, as he was a sports journalist.

And my ashes to be scattered on the sea or under a tree, I don’t mind. I did ask about the legalities of scattering on the sea and she didn’t know, but said many people do it. Just find a quiet location.

It sounds morbid to be talking about this, but I’m highly vulnerable to the corona virus and all the other things that go with diabetes, possible heart troubles and the slow form of leukaemia. I might drop off at any time and I don’t want anyone to be put to trouble when I do. I’m an organised person and I will organise this. I’m not expecting to drop off in the near future, but better to be ready.

I’m 73, Mum was 74 and Dad was 78. I have to renew my driver’s licence in November for five years, so that takes me to Dad’s age. Gotta last or beat that.

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It’s rampant – wage theft, exploitation of workers in Australia (and I’m sure around the world). The latest is backpackers and foreign students, many of them young Chinese, trying to stop themselves starving during this virus crisis (they are not eligible for any government support) by working on fruit and vegetable farms and vineyards.

In what is an open secret, bosses are allegedly exploiting the lack of knowledge around Australia’s industrial relations system among migrant communities – particularly where they speak languages other than English – hiring people into jobs that pay as little as $5 an hour.

One young woman told of having to work 12 hour days, then having half her small wages withheld, taken, for “rent”. They dare not protest too much for fear of having their visas examined by Border Force, although I think they’d be very happy if they were deported. But more likely is that they would be locked up, “detained” on some charge related to working.

I can hardly believe the cruelty being shown by some Australians. There is blatant racism in this community and country and an attitude that these workers can be exploited because they’re foreign and desperate. What happened to the Aussie characteristic of the “fair go”? This is shameful! This is not how Australia was and should be. We should be showing compassion to the poor and vulnerable, not persecuting them.

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This morning I’ve been shown some video on the web of a guy in Melbourne shouting from his first floor (that’s second floor, for you non-Aussies, you have to be different, don’t you 😉 ) balcony at the police, who have arrived to arrest him for trying to organise an anti-lockdown demonstration.

The fact is, there is a state of emergency in Victoria and Melbourne due to a large virus outbreak that started about six weeks ago. You’re allowed out for medical, exercise, children’s play, food shopping and some compassionate reasons, and that’s all. Yes, it’s a bit strong, but so is the virus. They’ve had more than 600 deaths and the virus was spreading like a fungus. It’s hard, but it’s necessary and it will ease up soon, as long as people obey the rules.

But some idiots see it as a violation of their rights and want to gather in a location to stage a protest. Sorry people, but at the moment, it’s against the law. It won’t always be this way, the lockdown will ease up when the virus stops spreading, but you can’t incite other people to defy the rules.

This guy was recording on his phone (not “filming”, there’s no film! Why do people say that?) as the police arrived, and he was refusing to let them in. He was spouting supposed laws to them as if he was a lawyer. So they broke his door in and arrested him as he came down the stairs. Sorry mate, I don’t have the slightest sympathy for you. You’re just a trouble-maker. If your demonstration went ahead (which it did), what about the rights of law abiders to be safe from any spread of the infection? Everyone else has rights too, mate. Your rights don’t override mine.

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For the past week I’ve been working away, uploading all my historic black and white images to the family tree website for enhancement, then clicking the colourise button. It’s fantastic. These are from my uncle Darcey’s time in the Middle East during World War 2. I assume it’s Palestine. It’s ironic, as this is an Israeli company that’s doing these enhancements.

Terraced irrigation. I had no idea it was done. It’s like Bali, in a desert.
Beautiful colour and texture in this image. Almost like parchment.
When I first saw this, I thought it was sand, but it’s snow. In the desert!

I think uncle Darcey would be extremely pleased with these enhancements and amazed at this new technology. Crumbs, I am too. I have many more to show, and many more still to be enhanced. Boy, this eats up the time but it’s so rewarding.

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I’ve told how I’ve been installing a new (second hand) AV car radio into Vera, the Verada. It’s in and working, but I’ve realised only the rear speakers are active. Booger. I made up my own harness from a pre-wired harness for another vehicle, but I think I might have to just pay the $30 for another IEC harness, so I can plug them together. I should have done that in the first place as matching the wires and soldering them took ages (no need to work fast, Gertrude). It’s very fiddly.

That means I have to take all that fascia out again, with all the pain on my fingers as I try to squeeze the connector clips to remove them. Ugh. Oh well, can’t be helped. (By the way, the rash on my fingers is fading slowly and they’re not really painful now, but it was a very strong infection, or whatever it was. There are a couple of patches on my toes as well.)

The DAB+ digital radio is working marvellously. I’m used to losing radio reception as I drive into underground carparks, but DAB+ hangs on quite a bit, fading a bit but staying with me a lot of the time. I am impressed.

I tried a DVD for the first time today (in my garage, not on the road) and it works fine. You have to ground the green wire, (or connect it to a switch on the handbrake — too hard), which is meant to stop you playing the video while you’re moving, i.e. handbrake on, green wire earthed, video play allowed. Handbrake off, no video allowed. I won’t do anything silly.

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The law about mobile phones changed as from 1 September – $1,000 on-the-spot fine and four demerit points for even touching your phone while driving. You might say it’s harsh, but there are too many idiots texting and even watching video on their phones while driving, and they won’t take any notice of the law. They have to be hit hard. I’m damned if I want to be hit by a driver who’s holding and distracted by his phone. Actually, it’s just as much her phone. Women are notorious for it.

If you want to use a phone in your car, you can but it must be in a holder, connected by Bluetooth and you must not touch it. Either use voice control, or a button on your AV console, or the buttons on your steering wheel. You can touch the AV unit because it’s considered to be a part of the car. A phone is not.

I have no problem with this. I get about three calls a year while I’m in my car and I just let them go through to the keeper* (voicemail). But my new AV unit has Bluetooth and I can pair it with my phone and answer by touching a “button” on the screen, so I may as well pair it, but in general, too bad about my phone. Quite often I forget to take it out with me. Sometimes it stays in my bag, unseen and unheard for a day or two. I am not a phone addict.

*For o/s readers, letting it go through to the keeper is a cricketing term, meaning the batsman declines to take a hit and lifts his bat, letting the ball go through to the wicket keeper. We say this a lot.

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Which reminds me, I got my “landline” (actually VOIP) phone back a few weeks ago but I’m wondering why I bothered. With one exception (a friend) all I’m getting is scam calls. I’m sick of it!

I think it’s time I ditched this facility. Isn’t that great – that these Indian scam callers have virtually rendered our landline phone system unuseable. I’m sick of them. I don’t answer the landline phone unless I can see the name of the caller. If they want to talk to me, they’ll leave a message. Otherwise, too bad.

Which means I will now have three multi-handset cordless phone systems for sale. All of them have four cordless handsets. I bought two of them after I felt a bit dissatisfied with my older Panasonic set, but after a while I went back to it. Oh well.

This type of thing is good for people with kids, or who live in a multi-storey house or apartment. Good value then.

Bunker bunkum day 166

Me at Borobodur, Java 1989

Bloddy ‘ell, first days of Spring and it’s only 16C and blowing and raining. Fair go. Go out and come in again, Mr Weather.

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I found the receipt for my first ever PC:

My first PC, 1989.

It was a second hand 80286 with 1MB of RAM and a 20MB hard drive, if I recall correctly. 1MB of RAM! You couldn’t even buy RAM that small these days. A 20MB hard drive! Even the smallest USB thumb drive is 8GB, that’s 40million times bigger, for about 1/20th of the cost.

Here’s the receipt for two 120MB hard drives, at $350 each!

The cost of hard drives in 1992. Note: Megabytes, not Gigabytes.

I’ve just had delivery of two Solid State drives of 512GB, costing $66 each.

Computer gear cost a fortune 28 years ago. I remember paying nearly $1,000 for a ‘486 motherboard. Yet, as an electronics tech, I had to buy my own gear so I could learn it. I spent $thousands, probably tens of $thousands of my own money! I did manage to negotiate a “computer allowance” of $4,000 a year in about 1994, but I was the only one they would do it for. I tried to persuade them to include other techs, but they wouldn’t do it.

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Further to yesterday’s post about AMP from Crikey.com:

AMP’s boardroom and executive culture has been profoundly flawed for decades. It has destroyed billions of dollars in shareholder wealth, wrecked the lives of many of its clients and rorted tens of thousands of them. But the business community prefers to focus on the alleged sins of trade unions, lack of workplace flexibility, iniquitous regulation, and corporate tax rates as the real problems of the economy.

Exactly. That lunatic former PM Tony Abbott, he of the crazy Australian knighthoods, started a Royal Commission into Trade Unions (with the word corruption in the full title), trying to dig dirt on unions. This was a massively expensive exercise, tens of millions of dollars being paid to the judge and lawyers, and the result was virtually zero. They found one small example of bad behaviour by a union, but nothing serious. All that time and money was wasted on that right wing government’s obsession with unions.

The judge running the commission was actually found to have very strong links to the Liberal Party and conservative politics. What a surprise.

Here we have it, yet another example of Australian big business destroying shareholder wealth, wrecking the lives of many of its clients (by denying insurance claims) and defrauding its clients (only 10 – 20 years ago, not in the distant past) by lying to them in order to sign them up for insurance policies.

Yet as the article says, it’s one of the cabal of big businesses which are constantly saying we need to curb union power, increase workplace flexibility (which actually means to reduce award protections and slow wage growth), cut regulations and reduce company tax. Many, many companies don’t pay any tax anyway, due to clever and in many cases dishonest lawyers finding ways to claim phantom deductions.

More from Crikey.com: Indeed, AMP seems determined to keep exposing its own inadequacies. In what looks to be another half-smart attempt at media management, the company last week released, without the approval of [Ms Julia] Szlakowski or her lawyers, the final section of the investigation into Pahari’s harassment of Ms Szlakowski. That investigation found that all of her claims were credible, though it did not find all of them to constitute “harassment”.

The problem is, AMP CEO Francesco De Ferrari is reported to have told AMP staff by internal emails that “many of [Szlakowski’s] claims were not substantiated by the external investigation”. This statement was repeated publicly by an AMP spokesperson.

How can AMP maintain that Szlakowski’s claims were “not substantiated” when their own report found all of her claims were accurate? And why, if reports are accurate, did De Ferrari make such an extraordinary claim about Szlakowski, who by the company’s own admission was the victim of misconduct by one of its senior executives? How can De Ferrari credibly remain CEO?

This is Australian business, badly managed, an old boys’ club attitude, poor ethics and morals and a whatever-it-takes mentality. Just look at what happened with Rio Tinto’s destruction of the Juukan Caves a few weeks ago. They were told that the caves contained 46,000 year old cave paintings and ancient artifacts, but they went ahead and blew them up anyway, dynamited them. Now they’re saying sorry, but the damage is done and can’t be repaired. Who would trust Rio Tinto or AMP or any of a dozen other big companies now? Yet they campaign against trade unions!

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Australia Post’s board called a snap board meeting to announce executives will not receive bonuses this year after it was revealed office employees were asked to work without being paid overtime, and to use their own cars to run parcel deliveries, in order to clear Victoria’s massive backlog.

Bonuses for Australia Post executives were ruled out early in the pandemic, but the CEO Christine Holgate earlier this week softened her stance, telling the ABC that it would be left to the board to determine.

“It’s pretty black and white … the [executive team] has led our business through one of the most challenging periods … and yet they’ve still delivered a fantastic result,” she said. “I’m very proud of them. Whether they get paid a bonus or not, the board can decide.”

Why the hell should executives and board members get bonuses? So they work harder? – so do ordinary wage earners, as stated above, and the senior people ask the lower ranks to work extra for nothing!

The gall of these people! The greed! The vanity!

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I enjoyed the ABC TV program Further Back in Time for Dinner last night. It covered what life was like in 1900 – 1910, but I can remember many of those things. The dunny with the can and the torn newspaper sheets. The big wood stove. Making toast with a wire toasting fork (it seemed to smell better toasted that way). Chopping firewood. Funny, I can’t remember much about our washing/bathing. The winters would have been colder then and we might have been reluctant to fill a bath. Showering was not common in the 1950s, it was usually baths.

I remember milking a cow and Dad making cheese and butter. And the very plain meals we ate, chops (sheep meat), mutton, occasional beef as roasts but not steak very often. Boiled and mashed potatoes, peas, beans, carrots, cabbage. Very plain food, but good for us. Custard, rice pudding, tapioca (frogs’ eyes). Very occasional ice cream as a treat.

Chicken, almost never! It’s almost the most common meat these days, but in the 1950s it was only ever a Christmas dinner treat. Why? Someone suggested that chickens were valued for their eggs and we didn’t want to kill them. I don’t know.

In other words, we lived fairly similar lives on WA farms to what we saw last night. Progress was very slow then, things changed very slowly compared to now.

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I had three or four things to write about but they’ve gone from my head. More tomorrow.

By the way, I seem to be picking up followers all over the world. Thank you very much for taking an interest in what I write – I’m very flattered.

Bunker bunkum day 164

The Mandurah beach house of my 1980s/90s friend Haruko. She died in 1995.

Lovely day, 21C, no wind. Nice. Spring tomorrow. Can’t wait.

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From Crikey.com: Strange how business calls for “economic reform” are always aimed at everyone else, and never at the worst forms of rorts, incompetence and scandals, which cost millions of Australians billions in lost income.

Take AMP. It was a corporate hero in the recession of the 1990s, coming to the aid of a near bankrupt Westpac. It helped in the float of the Commonwealth Bank. It owned 10% of Macquarie Bank (now Macquarie Group). It was perhaps the most important investor in the country, the bluest of blue chips, with more than $90 billion in total assets.

The old AMP Society was demutualised in 1998. Shares in the new company were valued at $6.19 in that deal and quickly soared, touching $15.87 in November of 1998. Since then it’s been a long slide punctuated with repeated managerial and boardroom unrest and scandal.

When AMP demutualised it had an excess of capital. It soon went on a spending spree, picking up UK funds manager Henderson, National Provident Institution and then GIO. GIO was a $3 billion investment that lost $1 billion.

By 2003 AMP’s share price had hit a record low $2.72, having lost shareholders 73% in value since listing. It recovered briefly above $10 a share in 2007, but has rarely been above $6 since.

As the Hayne royal commission unfolded and revealed a remarkable array of misconduct and egregious rorting by AMP, it fell below $5, the $4, then $3, then $2. Last week it closed at $1.50.

That was Crikey, this is me. In the 1990s a work colleague was allocated AMP shares when they demutualised. He didn’t want them, so I offered to buy them from him, believing, as they say above, that they were the bluest of blue chips. I paid the going rate then, $20 a share for 155 shares.

After twenty years of mismanagement, dishonesty, frauds, incompetence, “egregious rorting” and plain management greed, my shares are now worth just over $1.50. I’ve lost most of my money. It’s hardly worth selling them now.

My point is, the Liberal Party is always down on unions, to the point where they ran a Royal Commission into unions with the word “corruption” in the title, yet any misbehaviour by unions (and yes, there is some) pales to insignificance beside the incompetence and dishonesty, greed and criminality of Australian managements. Promotion in Australian companies is rarely based on education or qualifications. It’s far more often based on being one of the boys, being rough and tough. I’ve seen it.

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I finished the second edition of Croft History vol. 1 2nd edition and sent it off for printing on Saturday. It’s a tedious process because although I bought three vouchers and want to use them for the same order, the web site won’t let me. Each voucher number had to be submitted as a separate order, which meant three separate upload processes, requiring about 30 mins each. And paying $12.95 for postage on each order.

I’ve now bought four more vouchers for my own copies (which will be for sale) and I don’t want to have to go through their rigmarole again. I’ve sent off a query to Support asking why their multiple copy function won’t work but going on past experience it will be several days before I get an answer.

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I watched the four episodes of The Salisbury Poisonings on SBS last week with rapt attention. It was pretty well made, showing the lengths the police had to go to to keep the public away from anything that could have been contaminated by the Russian Novichok nerve poison. I was surprised, though, by the public displays of anger at the police. This seems to be a characteristic of the British people – they are much more prone to demonstrations and shows of anger than we are. Maybe it’s just TV drama but it occurs very often.

The other thing that struck me was the sexism. The civilian leader of the Public Health Department crisis team was a woman and she was repeatedly shown in private displays of weakness, crying, showing her fatigue, how the weight of responsibility was bearing down on her.

Yet the male police were never shown in any form of distress. They just showed the calm competence that we think of them. The contrast was very clear to me. The woman got through, of course, but it wasn’t a good look.

Great show, though. It was just another illustration of what rotten leaders the Russians have. We’ve seen it again last week in the poisoning of Alexey Navalny, the Russian opposition leader. Once again, Putin and his cronies resort to crude poisoning to cripple anyone who opposes them. It’s disgusting. In the Salisbury case, they took enough of the deadliest nerve agent to poison an entire city, and dumped it in a bin where it could have been found by anyone, as it was.

I’ve said this before: the lack of morals by Russians – Russian airforce pilots have no qualms about dropping bombs on hospitals in Syria, killing medical staff and children without a care. No Australian pilot would do this! They would refuse such an order. It is a war crime, an outrage. But Russian pilots do it repeatedly. They are amoral cowards.

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Hah! I replied to a Facebook post from a woman in the USA who loves Trump. She believes the sun shines out of his arse. I thought I’d have a play with her and boy-oh-boy, she is a sick woman. Trump doesn’t tell lies, the Washington Post does. (Why would the newspapers lie? What advantage would it give them? Quite the opposite, if they are caught lying, it would go badly for them.)

Anyway, I batted back and forth a few times but I’ve bailed out. This US woman is a true believer in the Trump lies. Wasting my time.

The thought of him being voted back in scares me. It would give him a new sense of his power and legitimacy which he would use to do even worse things. It’s frightening. Half of the USA has gone mad. I wish the mad half would get the virus and die.

Bunker bulldust day 161

The wake of a cruise ship at sunset, 1984. © PJ Croft 2020

Aaaah, there’s a sense of Spring around. The forecast is for 25C today and I can see the angle of the light and the earlier sunrise and later sunset. Yeah, bring it on.

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I don’t usually write a post after dinner, but I’m so upset at what I’m hearing on TV and reading.

The rules being enforced by the bureaucracy in this virus crisis are worse than bizarre, they are just cruel. There’s a closed border between NSW and Queensland. Fair enough. We need to be very careful with this damned virus.

But a woman and her partner live in northern NSW just south of the Qld border. Her elderly father was taken to a Brisbane hospital and died. She was informed by phone, but was denied permission to visit the hospital.

Then the funeral was arranged, and although she was permitted to attend her father’s funeral (i.e. cross the border), she was allowed to be at his funeral for no more than 30 minutes and was prohibited from approaching any of the mourners – her family and relatives, in other words. Thirty minutes! She has a disability and relies on her partner to function in life, but he was denied permission to cross the border to be with her.

This crosses a line, I think, the line between laudable caution and blind unreason. The woman and her partner could have been provided with full PPE suits for the funeral, surely?

Then today I read: “The heart-rending story of a Ballina [a northern NSW town near the Qld border] woman who lost one of her unborn twins last week after waiting 16 hours to fly to Sydney for urgent surgery (rather than attempt to cross from NSW into Queensland), highlights the mounting unintended consequences of border closures across Australia.”

There are many other stories similar to this. There’s a level of incompetence, stupidity, unreasonableness, and cold, callous, unfeeling obstinacy in government departments at the moment.

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I can’t help noticing, also, in all the many cases of people ignoring or defying the rules about quarantine and deciding to escape or go to parties or shouting defiance at police and authorities, the high proportion of women offenders.

There seems to be an attitude in some females, especially, that they ain’t going to play by the rules. You might think it may be just that they are noticed more by reporters, but I don’t think so. There are too many examples. Females are breaking the rules and the law, way out of proportion to males and endangering us all. They lie, cheat, rage at cops, escape confinement and disregard the law and safety. Let’s not forget the woman or women who had sex with the hotel security guards in Melbourne back in May/June. It wasn’t rape, it was consensual. That led to the enormous loss of life, the huge lockdown and economic disaster in Victoria, still ongoing.

No doubt I will be criticised for this, but these are facts.

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The other point is the enormous imbalance in deaths in aged care homes between state owned and run and privately owned and run homes. The federal government is responsible for aged care in Australia, and aged care homes are split between government owned and privately owned. Nearly all the deaths, more than 90%, and we’re talking around 450 deaths so far in Victoria, have occurred in the privately run homes.

The thing is, privately run aged care is almost a licence to print money. The profits are enormous. The owners become hugely wealthy. I’ve seen an article about multi-million dollar mansions, yachts, helicopters, private aircraft, all the trappings of wealth. All the profits go to shareholders, of course, and there’s enormous pressure to cut costs in the homes by skimping on costs, be it staff wages, meals, cleaning and so on. Almost all the staff are casuals with very minimal training because there is no federal regulation about nurse to patient ratios.

By contrast, state homes are regulated and most of the staff in state government run homes are trained nurses, and it’s shown by the very low death and infection rate.

Yet in all the horror stories coming out, the federal Liberal government, and the prime minister (Scott Morrison) are trying to shift the blame onto the Victorian Labor government of Daniel Andrews. The PM says, Oh yes, we regulate aged care, but it’s not us who are responsible for all these deaths. It’s sickening! The Minister for Aged Care, Richard Colbeck (Liberal) couldn’t even answer the question of how many deaths there had been when questioned earlier this week. Incompetent. When he was questioned in the parliament, he got up and walked out of the chamber! The PM has cut his responsibilities back, but left him in place. It’s almost impossible for any federal Liberal minister to lose his job in this Liberal-National Party government, no matter how incompetent or corrupt they are.

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I’ve just read this article today: https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/alchemy-of-energy-breakthrough-offers-mass-hydrogen-storage-options-20200702-p558dj.html

It’s a method of storing hydrogen (the gas) in a metal alloy, i.e. within the metal crystals, that’s cheap, efficient and simple (relatively), and it’s been developed here in Oz. It’s more efficient than Li-Ion batteries, lighter, cheaper, smaller. And it can all be manufactured here and could be in use by next year.

Couple that with another item I read today – the generation of hydrogen gas by electrolysis of sea water can now be done economically by solar and wind generated electricity (it’s always been possible, and easy, but the cost of the electricity was prohibitive). There is a serious proposal to set up an enormous (500GW) generation plant at Kalbarri, just up the road, so to speak. Well, 574Km up the road anyway. Kalbarri has all the sun and wind they need (as we found out in January 2019 – the wind almost blew us away) and the proposal is to send the hydrogen gas down the same pipeline as the Dampier to Bunbury natural gas pipeline.

Unfortunately, if I had a dollar for every time one of these hopeful stories runs, only to never be heard of again I’d be rich. Even so, we can hope.

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Grandpa Ernest, Dad’s father, around 1932 (?)

Nearly finished the revised edition of the Croft History Vol. 1 book with all the enhanced and colourised photos. Crikey! it is so boring doing the enhancements. One at a time, waiting, waiting. I can see an end in sight so I’m sure one year’s subscription will be enough to get it all done. No doubt there will be pressure and nagging to renew the subscription but I’ll resist.

Grandma Doris, Dad’s mum, late 1920s?

But it’s pretty weird, having an Israeli company sending me emails almost daily saying they’ve found links for my family tree. I think it must be because in a weak moment, I added a little bit of detail to my name and my father and mother’s names. Wham, that was enough for their computers to find links to almost the entire Bruce Rock family tree. It’s almost impossible to resist adding a few more details and links, and before you know it, you’re sucked in. Oh well, I’ve paid for my 12 months so I may as well use it.

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Holy smoke, how does it happen? I bought a few items from Amazon Prime an hour ago, and just now I’ve had a robot call (scam call) from a mechanical woman talking about my Amazon purchases and asking me to confirm details (or something) by pressing 1! How can this happen? Do these scammers have access to my Amazon connection? This is a bit scary.

I just hung up on the call, of course.

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PS: I’ve discovered this just now:

NY photo map. Each dot is a photo taken at that spot in the 1940s.

Some guy in New York has put a black marker dot on a map of New York City representing a photo taken at that spot in the 1940s. That’s one of them above. Each dot you click on brings up a b/w photo taken at the time.

This is amazing. The amount of work that he must have put in, and he’s made it available free on the web: https://1940s.nyc/map/photo/

Bunker bulldust day 158

Bankok 1988 © PJ Croft 2020

Phwooaar, an 8Byoot day today, I reckon. Beautiful blue sky, a few wispy clouds, 21C, warm sun, almost no wind. Yum.

I’ve had brekkie with a couple of photo mates at North Beach, looking out over the ocean. The sea is almost calm and a sailing boat was slowly gliding across the view, about 1Km out. Lovely.

We noticed the chalkboard as we were leaving: “Limit 1 hour per table”. No lingering. It didn’t bother us as we rarely stay that long, but that’s how things have changed. The second entrance has been closed off so there’s only one way in or out. I’m not sure what that’s about. Otherwise, things are pretty normal.

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I had my first chance to use my new (second hand) car AV Stereo in the Verada today, having finally got around to fitting it yesterday. Ugh, they sure don’t make these things easy to fit. All the centre dash trim has to come off first of course, and all the plugs and sockets for the air-con and fans etc have to be disconnected.

It’s like seeing someone’s guts open on the operating table.

This model is my first with DAB+ digital radio. That means an antenna on a plastic backing has to be stuck to the inside of the windscreen on the passenger side. It has a thin coaxial cable which has to be fed under the A-pillar trim and was supposed to go down behind the dash to reach the radio. I’m damned if I could figure out how to do it. Somehow you’re supposed to reach behind the airbag and glove box, but I just couldn’t do it, so it’s draped across the top of the dash and enters through the centre trim. Can’t be helped.

Anyway, I wasn’t sure it would work well, digital radio being prone to fading and dropouts, but it works brilliantly. Only once did it drop out, but only for a few seconds.

I’ve spent at least an hour yesterday and today figuring out how to work the thing. These AV units are not like the old car radios with their knobs and push-buttons. All these have is a column of touch pads down the left side for volume down and up, a Mode button, a couple of other buttons and Seek Fwd/Back switches. Everything else is done by touching or tapping the screen.

The thing is, where once we could do things by touch and feel without needing to look, now it’s almost impossible to do anything while driving without taking your eyes off the road and looking at the display. This is just as dangerous as using your phone while driving and I’m surprised the police don’t treat these as they do phones. Especially as, if you’ve cheated with the wiring, you can play DVDs or mp4 video files while driving. I haven’t done that, but it’s possible.

The other point is that I’m fed up to the back teeth with radios that are designed for the US market where all the controls are on the left, the furthest from a right-hand side driver. In this case, the volume “buttons” are at the top left, requiring me to stretch across to operate them. I don’t like it!

This Mitsubishi Verada, made in Australia, is the only car I’ve ever had where the original equipment stereo unit, made in Australia too, had the volume control on the right, the driver’s side. Unfortunately, it’s been replaced by this “new, modern” unit.

I can’t believe they can’t make L-R swapped units for RH drive markets. This is an easy thing to do these days, especially considering all the touch display controls are done in software. Also, they’re made in Japan. Japan is a RH drive country, like us. Surely they want RH controls too? Apparently not.

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The War of the Worlds concluded on SBS last Thursday. I was an avid watcher – this is my kind of program, a tense sci-fi thriller about an invasion from space.

But what a disappointing ending. I almost threw the remote at the screen (no, not really, but I did emit a small exclamation of disgust). I should have known. Half the tension was because some force was attacking the goodies in the cities and forests, but with conventional guns and bullets. Huh? These are machine things with four legs, walking like animals. How did they hold and fire weapons?

One of the goodies is a young woman, early twenties maybe, who mysteriously regains her sight from being blind, and can sense when the baddies are coming while no-one else can. She also seems to be immune to their attacks, being ignored by the dog-like machines. Why? We’re never told.

The ending is that they discover a huge thing like a submarine in the Thames river in London. She jumps from a bridge to land on it and explores an opening. She goes down a long ramp into the interior, to discover — some man, hooked up to pipes like a life support system. He reaches out his hand to her … The End. What?? Who was he? What was it all about? What happened after that? We’ll never know.

I was very disappointed. I had high hopes, but in the end all it amounted to was goodies and baddies shooting at each other. There was hardly any science. Waste of time. I recorded all the five episodes but I’ve wiped them. I won’t bother watching it again.

On the other hand, The Salisbury Files (whatever?) looks good. It’s a semi-fictionalised account of the Novichok poisonings that happened in Salisbury, UK in 2018. I like.

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I’ve seen a small ad on Neighbourhood from the Save the Children Fund Op Shop in Clarkson appealing for donations of goods. Yippee! I’ve got so much clutter in this house that I’m desperate to be rid of stuff. I’ve got far too many clothes, clothes I never wear. Out, out! I gave the Vinnies shop a bag of four pairs of shoes last week, hardly worn. I’m like a magpie, buying all the nice shiny new things then never using them.

Two printers have to go before I can install my new Ecotank printer. In one case, the yellow channel is half blocked and can’t be cleared, and the replacement inks are just too expensive. In the other case, the paper feed has stopped working and it jams all the time. It only ever cost me $35 and I’ve had my money’s worth. Out, out!

I do wonder what’s going to happen after I die. Someone is going to have a big job clearing the house out ready for sale. I don’t envy him. I’ll hardly be in a position to care then but I feel the need to start getting rid of my things now. I tend to be thinking a lot about my passing these days. When will it happen? How? Will it be quick or will I lie here for days before anyone wonders why they can’t reach me?

I do plan to buy a pre-paid funeral asap. I don’t want anyone to have to worry about it after I’ve gone.

Nice thoughts, eh?

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I’m ploughing on with revamping my Croft History vol. 1 book with the new, enhanced and colourised photos. It is hard going! It’s because when I did the enhancements, they all end up with new file names, and the photo book software says, uh oh, these photos are missing so I’ll put a red warning triangle on them on the page. So I have to go through every image that has been enhanced and change its file name to match the original b/w images. That means the originals have to have a slightly different file name so they don’t clash.

This is taking many, many hours of work. I’m almost finished. But next time I compose a book, I will make folders on my hard disk labelled page 1+2, page 3+4 and so on, and put all the images for each page in these proper folders. That way I’ll be able to collect everything up for backup, and I’ll know where the images are. Next time …

More comparisons:

Cute, wasn’t I? All these are black and white originals.
All these were in Sydney, 1947-49.
My favourite picture. Grandpa and me, c1949.
I can still smell his pipe.
I was born in Feb 1947, so this would be early 1948 I’d guess.
Kangaroo or deer?

I’m so glad Dad and Uncle Darcey were such keen photographers. If there’s one thing I would say to people, TAKE PHOTOS OF YOUR KIDS NOW and store them away safely. Make sure they’re dated and captioned too, if you can.

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When I had the internet loss about a month ago, one of the effects was that I lost my “land-line” phone as well. When I got iiNet to restore the internet connection, I didn’t immediately realise the phone was dead as well.

I let it go for a while, and tried to restore it myself without success. I finally complained to iiNet last week and we don’t know what the problem was, but after applying a new password, it came good. Why?

However, now the scam callers are back with a vengeance. I’ve just had two, only 20 mins apart. It’s obvious when you answer, the foreign, mechanical pre-recorded voice telling me my internet is being disconnected unless I pay a bill or something. I don’t know what they want because I never let them get that far. It’s reached the stage now where these criminals, these low life scum, have virtually rendered our land line phone system useless because I never answer the phone any more. I figure if it’s a genuine caller, they’ll leave a message.

Bunker bulldust day 155

Mangroves near Cairns. Kodachrome 64 film. © PJ Croft 2020

Oooaaarrrgh, 7Byoots today, eh? A bit cool, 20C, but nice blue skies with wispy clouds. A bloke should get outside.

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A couple more comparisons from the photo enhancements:

The mouth is not quite right. That doesn’t look quite like Dad. Also, look at the hairline – that’s wrong.
This is Mum from the Kalbarri shot yesterday. It can’t do miracles every time.

I’ve got another photo where it’s clear that the software enhances the face, but not necessarily the rest of the scene. It’s very obviously programmed to look for faces.

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All this makes me think about what will be possible in 20, 30, 50 years time. I’ll predict even better enhancements very soon, such that we’ll be able to see details we can’t see now. Then 3D, possible now, probably, such that we can move around a 100 year old scene. Animation that will make old photos “come to life” with movement of the characters (that would be weird).

By the way, have you seen the restoration, rejuvenation and colourisation of the 1914-18 War film done by Peter Jackson, the NZ director?

It’s remarkable! And this is today’s technology. Prepare to be amazed. Notice the addition of new sound to silent film.

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I’ve found a few more books written by Walter Isaacson, the author of the Einstein biography that so impressed me and I’ve ordered two (see below). No wonder he’s such a good author, just look at his qualifications:
Rhodes scholar, Oxford; Time magazine – political correspondent, national editor, and editor of new media before becoming the magazine’s 14th editor in 1996; chairman and CEO of CNN; president of the Aspen Institute; advisory partner at Perella Weinberg, a financial services firm; honorary degrees from Tufts University, Cooper Union, William & Mary, Franklin University Switzerland and a dozen others; and more than I can write here. He has a Wikipedia entry. Rarely have I seen a man with so many past and present eminent roles.

Anyway, I’ve ordered two more of his books today, The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made; and The Innovators: How a Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution. Follow the links if you want to see what the books are about. He’s also written biographies of Leonardo da Vinci, Henry Kissinger, Steve Jobs and Benjamin Franklin, among other works. He’s a powerhouse.

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For the past few months I’ve been suffering from what the doctor calls chillblains on my fingers. I was sceptical that they are chillblains as they don’t look like what I remember from childhood.

But twice now, I’ve come across news clips that mention them, the latest just yesterday. From Crikey.com.au yesterday (I subscribe):

Cough, fever and frostbitten toes — the list of potential symptoms for COVID-19 goes on and on. Now, Australian doctors have reported an uptick in patients with chilblains — a rash appearing on patients’ feet. 

The link between COVID-19 and chilblains was first reported in May, with one study finding itchy small red bumps and blisters appeared on up to 9% of patients in the study. The rashes sometimes appeared in the absence of other symptoms. 

New research has also found COVID-19 patients in Perth recovered from the virus only to develop signs of a “post-COVID syndrome,” consisting of diabetes, liver dysfunction, acute inflammation and increased cardiovascular risk.

I’ve put it in purple because it’s also referred to as Purple Toe Syndrome. Mine are not on my toes or feet but my fingers. It’s very painful, not all the time but very sore to touch and if knocked. Itchy at night too.

It’s odd, I’ve never had chillblains since childhood in winter, but they were more like dry blisters and only on my ears. The doc has prescribed a blood pressure drug to open the veins but I can’t see any effect. Another person has enthusiastically recommended Evening Primrose for the same effect, improved blood flow. I’ll try that in the next few days and report. Strange to read that it’s linked to COVID. In my case, how? I have no other symptoms and Perth is virus free.

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I’m incensed by Google’s actions regarding the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s proposal that they should pay for the use they are making of news produced by Australian news sources. Google and Facebook take news without paying for it for use on their web pages, with no acknowledgement of the source.

The result is massive loss of jobs in news and journalism as newspapers lose their advertising revenue. Something like 240 newspapers have been closed down to date this year. These American companies are taking Australian content for free and re-using it on their own channels. At the same time, because young people don’t read newspapers any more and get all their news (in little dribs and drabs, easy to read, requiring no intelligence or effort), all the advertising dollars are moving to Facebook and Aussie companies are dying.

This is the American way: they not only want to compete and dominate, their aim is to drive the local competitors completely out of business, to close them down. They want 100% of the market, not just 70% or whatever.

Now, when you go to Google search, you get a bogus note asking you to read how the ACCC is being nasty to this US company. Don’t believe it! They are lying.

Sorry to my USA readers, but the USA can be a really shit country in so many ways. I’ll never set foot in the USA again.