Smoke gets in your eyes

KONICA MINOLTA A2 DIGITAL CAMERA Perth, 19 January 2005 © PJ Croft 2021.

We’re nearly two full months into autumn and it still feels like summer. It’s been warm today, 29C, humid and smoky all day so far. It’s very nice! The nights are just right, warm enough to start on top of the covers, then just cool enough pull them up around 3am.

I’ve decided to wean myself off the Phenergan anti-histamine. It’s only the smallest pill size, 10mg, but I don’t want to be dependent on it. The first night, Monday, was OK but I couldn’t get to sleep last night. I must have slept though, because I remember quite vivid dreams.

I’ve bought a web-advertised herbal tea called Roogenic, supposedly an Aussie Aboriginal mix. It’s supposed to be guaranteed to knock you out but they say it can take up to two weeks for it to work properly. Yeah, I’ll bet. You’ve talked yourself into it by then.

I’ve tried one cup and it tastes quite nice. It’s interesting that they say on the packet you can re-use each bag three or four times. That cuts the cost down. We’ll see.

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I’ve been plagued by my mouse intermittently locking up on this desktop PC for the past couple of weeks. Sometimes unplugging and replugging the USB cord would clear it, sometimes not and a full reboot would be needed.

I was a bit baffled for a while as I was getting messages about a USB port being faulty. I was pretty fed up, too. It was happening every 30 secs or so.

To cut a long story short, it was the bloody mouse itself! Don’t look for complicated answers, try the obvious first. Anyway, it was a Microsoft mouse, so that’s probably the reason. Time I bought a new one anyway.

Nonetheless, I’ll take this faulty mouse apart. It could well be that it’s just full of gunk. Nothing to lose.

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King’s Park 19 January 2005 © PJ Croft 2021

French cars! When I was buying Le Pug, we needed the VIN and engine number and initially couldn’t find them on the car. Usually there’s an aluminium plate on the engine compartment firewall, but it’s recessed on this car and we couldn’t see a plate. Strangely, the guy I bought it from said he hadn’t received the licence paper from the previous owners. Zzzzz, my teeth chattered a bit at that, but he went on-line and found the details on the Dept of Transport website.

Anyway, we got the numbers enough to fill in the paperwork and found a number on a sticker on the driver’s door pillar.

Well, today I lifted up the boot floor to look at the spare, and there was the aluminium plate with the VIN, riveted to the floor of the spare wheel well. Cunning Froggies. Date of manufacture 08/2006.

While I was there, I found the electronics box which connects the rear ultrasonic parking sensors, which are not working on my car. It’s in the spare wheel well. I’ve been reading up (on the web forums and YouTube) about faults with these sensors and it should be an easy enough fix. Apparently water gets into the sensors mounted in the rear bumper and failure of just one will kill all four. A complete set of four from AliExpress is only about A$25. I’ll just look for bad contacts before I splurge on a new set.

I’ve also found a YouTube video clip by a Belarussian guy (spoken in Russian but with subtitles), who runs a wreckers shop selling a huge range of broken down engine parts, and one whole half-hour segment is on my 2.7L V6 Twin Turbo diesel engine.

Unfortunately, he reckons it’s a piece of junk, unreliable, prone to catastrophic breakdown. That was encouraging!

I can’t remember exactly what he says (I’ve saved the clip) but apparently some bearings can shatter and obviously bits fly around between cylinders, valves and pistons.

Note that this engine is shared between Peugeot, Citroen, Jaguar and Land Rover, so I think we’re in illustrious company there. If there really was a major problem, surely they would sort it out.

Anyway, this guy recommends using a lower viscosity oil, 20W5 instead of 30W15, but of course he’s living in Belarus, a far colder place than here. Maybe I can find a French Car forum in Australia to ask the question.

Another thing I’ve found is the fuse box in the glove compartment (nicely disguised) and the OBD connector in the centre console arm rest, with a plastic cover disguising it.

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Boy, it’s a lively engine. It’s a bit flat when you first take off, but as soon as the revs hit 2000rpm, ZOOM! It feels as if it would rev forever, although being a diesel, the red line starts at 5000rpm and stops at 6000rpm. It’s not a high revver, but it spins up freely.

I was always worried about the indicator stalk being on the left, even daydreaming about devising a ring to go over the steering column to make it work on the right, but in truth I adapted from the word go. I’ve accidentally activated the wipers (right stalk) a few times, but generally I have no trouble using my left hand.

It’s odd, isn’t it? I’m right handed and can’t usually do things very easily with my left hand. Yet we right hand drivers have no trouble at all using our left hand to change gears, and I would actually have trouble using my right hand if I were in a LHD drive car. Obviously, it all depends how you learn when you’re young.

I’m always astounded when I see a violinist using his or her left hand at lightning speed to manipulate the strings for chords, at the same time using the right hand on the bow. What a skill!

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What did we do before YouTube and the web? It is just fantastic.

One problem with my car, and Peugeots in general, I think, is that the LCD in the centre of the dash, between the instruments loses its bits. That is, the dots don’t light up like they did as new, making the numbers hard to read.

I saw that replacement LCDs are available on AliExpress for about A$40 but I thought, kerrumbs, how on Earth do you change it? Do you have to get down under the dash and work by feel?

Well, no worries. It turns out there are three small holes at the top edge of the instrument binnacle, which if you poke a screw driver in there, pops some plastic retainers up and allows you to pull the whole instrument cluster forward and out. Behind, there’s one plug and socket and once disconnected, you’re home free.

The clear fascia likewise pops off with plastic clips, and the PCB is then exposed. A few more plastic clips and the LCD comes out. Pop the new one in, insert its flex connector and put it all back in the reverse order. Easy. I’ve ordered a new LCD and can’t wait to try this.

Another thing you can do is change to colour of the LEDs in the dash, which are all orange. There are rather a lot – 12 – and they’re surface mount so not easy to unsolder and resolder. I don’t want to do them all, nut having white LEDs behind the LCD would be nice. I’ll think about it.

The other thing I’d really like to change is the graduations on the speedometer and tacho. The tacho’s OK, but the speedo major markings go 0, 30, 50, 70, 90, 110 and so on (to 250km/h, actually, and it will do that too).

I don’t like that – I want 0, 20, 40, 60, 80, 100, 120 etc. I’d also prefer a plain black background (it’s a subdued pattern at the moment) with simple white bar markings, like the Verada has.

Therefore, I’m trying to think of a way to print a new card to replace the existing one. It’s easy enough to use the existing one as a template, but finding a suitable material to print on is the test. Cars get pretty hot, so it needs to be heat resistant. I’m thinking about it.

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The other thing is to buy a new AliExpress car radio/CD/DVD/satnav display device to replace the very basic Peugeot one. 7″ Android 10 Car GPS Stereo For Peugeot 407 Auto Radio In Dash 1 Din Navigation DVD WiFi Audio Video Headunit Rearview Camera|stereo gps|radio rdsin dash android – AliExpress

It’s not cheap, about A$550, but I’ll save my pennies and make a wish. The swap-over and installation looks to be particularly easy compared to all the hassles of making up adapters for the Mitsubishi and the Honda.

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Speaking of the Honda, phew! I nearly lost another battery. It had a new battery about two months ago after I accidentally flattened the first one, which was only a year old. I haven’t been using the car lately but I was monitoring the battery voltage and it looked OK.

But on Monday I checked it again and ooops, it was down to 5,2V. Wow, how did that happen? I got the charger hooked up quick smart and after about 36 hours of charging, it looks good again. Phew, I would have smitten myself mightily if I’d killed this battery too.

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It’s breaking my heart, but I’m clearing out all the stuff my former partner left here in the past five years, tossing a lot of it in the bins and taking a lot to the charity shops. Boy, there’s a lot! Masses of clothing, folders of papers, jewellery, trinkets, sandals, soft toys, cushions, books, CDs, cassette tapes, pyjamas, underwear, kitchen goods, appliances, glassware, bowls, incense burners – holy smoke!

Honey, you only have to say a word and I’ll stop the disposal, but when you say you won’t come here again, what am I to do? Speak!

And yet another one

Sydney North 1978 © PJ Croft 2021

This time I mean – another lockdown. Yes, a guy who came in from Victoria and went through hotel quarantine in Perth, has tested positive and developed COVID after returning to Melbourne. Unfortunately, after he left quarantine in Perth, he moved around the city for five days, as he was quite entitled to do, and then flew back to Melbourne, again as he was allowed to do, before developing symptoms.

So the government have listed all the places he visited while in Perth and infectious, and we have to go into a three day lockdown from midnight tonight. That means the long weekend has been kiboshed and all Anzac Day services on Sunday have been called off.

Lucky I did my grocery shopping last Tuesday, and a bit more today, even though I/we didn’t know about this lockdown. I’ve got enough beer for the weekend (public holiday Monday) so I’m set.

Interesting to hear Dr Norman Swan on the radio just now saying that a federal government committee is giving wrong advice – that there is little chance of aerosol transmission and hence masks are of little benefit. He says that’s just plain wrong and there is clear evidence for airborne transmissions.

He also said that last year, at the beginning of the pandemic, there was good cooperation between the governments and scientists and doctors, resulting in good decisions and Australia’s excellent results, but the cooperation has broken down. Now, decisions are being made on the basis of what’s good for the economy, not what’s medically right, resulting in bad decisions about masks and hotel quarantines.

Dog help us.

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Sydney 1978 © PJ Croft 2021

I am ashamed of this federal government and our pig-ignorant prime minister Scummo. He and his coal and gas loving mates are dragging the reputation of this country through the mud in the international greenhouse gas reduction stakes. He is embarrassing us! Australia used to be a leader in “doing the right thing”, i.e. in taking the lead in international aid, health initiatives, alliances and peace keeping and so on.

But this country is now one of the slowest and most recalcitrant countries in greenhouse gas reduction action. I am embarrassed. These fools in government in Canberra do not speak for me!

I can only repeat, conservatives are of low intelligence and are simply afraid, afraid to face reality, wanting to hide from the facts, unable to cope with change. Just fucking dumb, in other words. If it didn’t affect me, then let them be, but it does affect me, it affects everyone and their children and grandchildren.

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I don’t generally buy things from AliBaba, the Chinese web site like Wish.com, but something led me to it today and I’ve realised that they sell a huge range of things for my Peugeot 407.

Such as:

It’s a replacement LCD readout for the centre of the instrument cluster. Mine is missing many dots and is very hard to read sometimes. I’m sure it’s going to be tricky to get the instrument cluster out in order to do the job, but I believe there are YouTube clips telling how to do it.

The key I got with the car (just one) has mashed buttons for door lock/unlock. For $5.07 plus postage, I can swap the outer case with its new buttons. I’ll still only have one key but it’s a cheap fix.

Just doing a search on “Peugeot 407” has brought up hundreds of results for LED lamps, cosmetic items, sensors, engine fittings, brake pads, everything. Very interesting.

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Pet Peeve of the Week: in the text above, I had to write that something “led me to” something. What has happened to the world? So many people, including journalists in major newspapers and periodicals are writing “Something lead me to” … L-e-a-d as in the elemental metal, or a dog’s lead, or a detective’s lead.

For goodness sake, it’s “led to”, not “lead to”. Lead to is the verb, as in this path will lead to the main road.

Another one!

Venice, 2008 © PJ Croft

The Economist magazine always makes up clever subheadings for their stories, and for cleverness, I reckon this one takes the (fish)cake:

Fish tongues, a Norwegian delicacy harvested by children
The piece of cod that passeth all understanding
I laughed out loud.

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It’s happened again! The sixth time! Once again, I’ve had my money refunded via Paypal for my order for Sony Clié batteries. No explanation, no accompanying email.

It’s beginning to look like these batteries are unobtainable, rendering my device to the status of paperweight. Booger.

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Also once again, my trip to Joondalup yesterday, for what I thought was going to be the actual operation to cut the Squamous Cell Carcinoma out of my temple, turned out to be another false trip.

At least the surgeon was there this time, but all he did was take another look at the lesion, tell me that a skin graft would need to be taken from somewhere to cover it, and fill out the hospital admission form. That’s right, I’m going to have it done in hospital and be anaesthetised. That’s good, because I’m pretty nervous about them cutting a deep hole in my head.

Anyway, I then had to fill out another form for the hospital, and my job will be done on Tuesday 11 May. Crumbs, waiting, waiting. And they charged me $70 for this visit.

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Dang!

This is the one I want.

Hah, a week after I bought my Peugeot 407, another one has come up for sale that’s much more like what I wanted, albeit at a much higher price.

When I was thinking about Mercedes, I was sick and tired of them all being black. What’s wrong with people, I thought? Don’t they want any colour in their lives?

But now that I’ve bought my silver 407, I want black. To me it looks much more elegant and sporty. But look at this!

I love that leather colour! That’s what I want! And, it’s got a sun-roof. I haven’t seen another one advertised with these features so I thought it was European spec only. Yet here it is, for sale in Sydney and it’s done 8,000km less than mine, 126,000. It’s the 2.9L petrol version, non-turbo.

The bad news is that the asking price is $8,990, and it’s in Sydney. Dog, I feel like trying to change over. At the price I paid last week, $4,400, I think I’d pretty soon get a buyer here for mine.

On the other hand, a respray of mine to black would be a damned sight cheaper, counting the cost of going to Sydney and driving it back. But then I lose the fun of that trip.

Also, there’s another one came up a few weeks ago that’s black with white leather upholstery, very nice too.

This one’s in Melbourne and the ad was removed last week, so I thought it had been sold, but it’s back. It’s a dealer, so they probably had a buy that fell through. This one’s $7,495 so you can see I got a real bargain last week. Assuming there’s nothing serious wrong.

There are only two main things: the air-con doesn’t get cold and the ultrasonic parking distance sensors don’t work. Obviously, neither stops it being driven and can wait to be fixed.

I drove it a fair distance yesterday (to Ascot and back) and it’s a nice drive, but there’s a bit of vibration and a slight shuddering at times, nothing serious. Also there’s a lot of air buffeting if you have the windows down, seemingly at any opening. Even opening the passenger side a bit doesn’t seem to help.

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We had our two-for-the-price-of-one Northam Senior High School 2020/21 Reunion yesterday. We had to cancel last year due to the virus but we held the annual event this year. It’s amazing how we’ve stayed in touch all down the years.

This is the class of 1960-64. I’ve heard that a couple of other groups have occasional reunions, but we hold ours every year by popular demand. We’ve heard from a couple of former teachers that we were a fairly outstanding group of students and I think we’re proving it. We’ve haven’t produced any geniuses or Nobel Prize winners, no doctors, one lawyer, a couple of good science support people and several teachers, and several nurses. And farmers.

This was our 57th year, so we’re coming up to 60 years in 2024 when we’ll all be 77 (all born in 1947). There are quite a few names in red ink in our database of 216, red for deceased, unfortunately.

The school is holding a big reunion on 15 May for the school’s centenary. It will be at the school in Northam. Strangely, many of us are in two minds whether to go. It covers all years and obviously, there will be hundreds of people that we don’t know. We feel that we get enough from our own reunions. Apparently the head mistress is being fairly prescriptive about what will happen and we don’t feel we need to be pushed around.

The other factor is the weather. As the farmers said yesterday, mid May is when the rain usually starts. I’m not sure. I wouldn’t mind going for a drive (in my new wheels) but I may not stay long. A couple of the ex-Toodyay boys (who used to get the bus to Northam) are planning to book hotel rooms in Toodyay and have a drinking night of it. I could be in that.

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I had another wasted trip on Friday. I had to go to Joondalup anyway so I thought I’d go on to a place I’d checked out in a Morley shopping centre that does replacement keys for modern cars. I checked with them on Facebook Marketplace that they could supply my Peugeot key and the price. Yes, $99.50, no problem.

So I made the quite long drive (everywhere’s a long drive from Butler!), found what I thought was the right shopping centre (it’s dense around there) and went in to find the multi-service kiosk.

Wow, it’s like an Asian marketplace, densely packed with small shops like a Malaysian or Indonesian shopping arcade. It was rather nice actually, with all the smells of spicy foods, Malaysian, Thai, Indian, Middle Eastern, Lebanese and so on. And small shops packed with brightly coloured and LED-lit cheap electronic stuff, just like Singapore. Nothing that interested me, I’m afraid, but if I need any LED strings or lights, I know where to come.

After a long search down narrow aisles, I finally found the multi-service kiosk but they didn’t know anything about the key I wanted. “No, cannot.” Wasted trip. Maybe I had the wrong shopping centre because there is another one across the other side of the main road.

Anyway, I had a very nice lunch of my favourite, Malaysian Kueh Teow. It wasn’t nearly as good as the one I had in Mandurah some years ago (with my cousin Tom, hi Tom), which I think was the best I’ve ever had. By then I was too tired to try to cross the busy main road so headed for home. There are plenty of other suppliers.

Oh, I forgot, after my rant about my four failed attempts, or was it five, at buying Li-Ion batteries for my Sony Clie, I found another supplier whose web-site said they have stock, so I placed yet another order. So far, three days later, all is quiet, no rejected payment, so maybe this time I’ll be successful.

But the price! I ordered two and the total, with postage, came to just under A$100. I was probably silly to have ordered two, but given how scarce they are, I’m sure I’ll be able to sell one on if I decide to.

Assault & battery

It’s happened again! I wrote in the last post about the difficulty ordering replacement batteries for my Sony Clie PDA, and how my orders always go wrong. Well, I found another supplier in the USA just after writing that, and at a good price, so I placed an on-line order for two and got a very pleasant reply email confirming my order and saying they’ll be despatching them soonest.

Well, today I got an email from Paypal to say that my money’s been refunded. Nothing from the battery company, just the refund with no explanation. That’s the fifth time! What do I have to do? Keep trying, I guess. I must get a result sooner or later.

I bought this device in 2003, by the way, and I think it cost about $1200. No, not that much – can’t remember. It’s a bit like an iPad, I guess, long before iPads were invented. It has the digital camera, video recording and playback, a voice recorder, music playback, note taking, phonebook, Bluetooth and so on. Palm operating system. Very advanced for its time. But it didn’t take off, probably because it was too thick and heavy. I didn’t use mine much, although I did take some nice photos, before I ever got my first proper digital camera. I’ve still got it, obviously and I’ll probably advertise it on eBay. Plenty of people have a nostalgic desire to own one.

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I had my vaccination on Tuesday and I did notice some side effects yesterday. My arm was a bit sore and I felt more than usually tired (although I always feel tired, due to the leukemia, I think). It also felt a little bit like having a cold.

But it’s all gone away after a good night’s sleep. No problems now. I’m very glad I’ve had it.

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I was all keyed up to have the skin cancer removed from my temple yesterday, but that was another damp squib. The surgeon wasn’t there! I didn’t have to wait too long this time, and once again was asked to wait in a really cheap looking examination room. After about ten minutes, a different doctor came in and he knew nothing about my case, asking me what had happened. I explained and said I wanted to know the result of the biopsy. Oh, OK. He looked it up and yes, it is a squamous cell carcinoma. It will have to be removed and probably a skin graft put over it. Well, whoopee, I think I already knew that.

So he led me out to reception again and asked me to make an appointment for next week when the surgeon will be present. So next Tuesday it is. It was a wasted trip, but at least they didn’t charge me this time.

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My “new” car, Evie le Pug, needs new keys. The one key I got works, but the remote lock/unlock buttons are mashed. I’ve found several local suppliers, a couple of whom say they can do it, so I’m probably going to Morley tomorrow to buy two new keys at $99.95 each.

After some more driving, I find it’s enjoyable with good handling and plenty of acceleration, but I wouldn’t call it a smooth ride. There’s a fair bit of NVH, noise, vibration and harshness. There’s a little bit of front wheel wobble, so it looks like a wheel alignment is needed. I haven’t checked tyre pressures, they may need adjusting. There’s a suspension switch for “S” – Sport and it doesn’t seem to do anything, so maybe it’s on?

Many of the switches in this French car are a bit strange, so I think I need to study the handbook.

Bon jour, je presenté Evie

This is a web photo, but mine is exactly the same.

Meet M’selle Evie, my new French girlfriend. She’s a Peugeot 407 Coupé. I’ve been looking at them on-line for months but they all seemed to be in the eastern states. I assumed they hadn’t sold very well in WA – they never came up locally. Well, now she’s mine!

Suddenly last Saturday, there she was, on Carsales, in Manning on the south side of Perth. I could hardly believe it, the model I wanted with the engine I wanted, and at about half the price I expected to pay, compared to all the ones in the eastern states.

Again, a web photo.
This is my actual car. I’m calling it Evie because the number plate is 1EVI.

I picked up the phone and arranged to come and see it. The guy said he’d had lots of enquiries but no-one had turned up yet. I said “I’ll be there in an hour.”

When I got there, it was still untaken and I said, provided there’s nothing major wrong, I want it. So we talked about it, I went and got some cash for a deposit and arranged to come again on Monday, that’s yesterday, with the balance. Price? $4,400. It’s not exactly a big outlay for what is a very fancy car, in excellent condition, only 133,600km.

So what is it? It’s a 2006 Peugeot 407 Coupé, with a 2.7L V6 twin turbo diesel engine. These were $72,500 new in 2006 so it’s depreciated as far as it’s going to go, I think. Due to their relative rarity, they may start to increase in price.

It’s all leather upholstery inside, with every driving feature you can think of: six speed automatic with Tiptronic manual, Electronic Stability Control, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, electronically controlled dampers for Sport or Comfort mode. Emergency Brake Assist, power seats, laminated double glazed windows for sound insulation, JBL sound system, automatic headlights when it gets dark, automatic rain sensing wipers, air con of course and heated seats … you name it, it’s got it. No tow bar though.

The thing is, being a diesel, torque is 440Nm at a low 1,900 rpm and power is 155kw (208HP) at only 3,500rpm. That means it’s powerful at lowish revs, right where you want it. And it pulls hard when you’re trying to idle along in dense traffic.

It has two gauges for temperature – unusual. One is for water, of course, is the other one oil temperature?

It has a couple of problems – apparently the aircon doesn’t get cold and the parking proximity sensors are not working (there’s a switch to switch them off low down on the dash – I wonder if the guy had switched them off and didn’t realise it – he seemed a bit clueless about the car).

I was a bit concerned that it seemed sluggish to move off from stopped, at first, but I realised after a while that it was switched to Snow mode, shown by a snowflake symbol in the dash display. That meant it started only in second gear, to avoid slipping. No wonder it felt funny. Switching that off made a big difference.

Being a French car, the damned turn indicator lever is on the left and the wiper wand is on the right. However, I drove home the long way last night, via Fremantle, taking about an hour, and I was soon used to it.

I am pleased as Punch! It fits what I wanted – a very stylish car, a 2 door coupé (I don’t want four doors! Four doors are for family men with kids! I’m a bachelor!), a rare car – I don’t think I’ve ever seen another one in Perth. It says “rare”, “unique”, “style”, “taste”, “discernment”. And at a very cheap price too. The guy said he wanted a quick sale. He got it.

Now I have to sell Vera, the Mitsubishi Verada. I’ll say I want a quick sale too, I’m ready to haggle. $2,900 and I’ll come down from there.

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My car is silver, to my mind a very boring colour.

I want one like this, black. I wonder what it would cost for a re-spray.

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What is it about battery suppliers? I’m looking for replacement LiIon batteries for my old Sony Clié PDA (Personal Digital Assistant).

sony clie」的圖片搜尋結果 | New technology gadgets, Electronics gadgets, Retro  gadgets
Sony PEG-NZ90 Clie. It has a 2Mega Pixel digital camera.

I found a supplier in the USA, New York, I think. I ordered two batteries and paid on Visa. A month later, no explanation, no email, just a refund into my account. I assumed no stock.

Last year I found a stockist in New Zealand so fired off an order, paying by Visa. Nothing happened for about two months, so I said, “What’s happening?” The guy said, “Uh oh, I’ll check the order.” Again, no answer for a month or more, over Xmas and New Year. I enquired again. He was on holidays. I enquired again a few weeks later.

“Oh, sorry”, he said. “We don’t send overseas. I’ll refund your money.” Don’t post overseas? From New Zealand?! Anyway, I got my money back.

Next was a supplier in the UK. There was some foul-up when I tried to order, but the answer came back, “No stock, sorry.” There was nothing on their web site to say no stock.

Next was a Canadian web site. It all looked good so I ordered two batteries, for a total of A$54 and got an order confirmation email. Again, I waited two months with no delivery, so I shot an email off last week asking why.

No reply, no explanation, but I’ve noticed a refund into my Visa account from them, so at least that’s something.

Four attempts, four fails. What is it with these companies? I’ll try again.

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I’m having my Astra Zeneca COVID vaccination at 2.15pm today, and I’m looking forward to it.

But I’m not looking forward to tomorrow. I go back to the doctor to get the result of the biopsy on my squamous cell carcinoma, and I assume the operation to cut it out. From what I’ve been told, he will cut 1cm out (wider) all around from the roughly circular lump, which is going to mean a hole roughly 3.5cm in diameter in my right temple, and probably quite deep. Ugh. It would seem to me that he’ll need to do a skin graft to cover it.

I guess I’m nervous about the unknown. I’ll know tomorrow.

Autumn

Autumn foliage. © PJ Croft 2021

Still warm, mid to high twenties each day with little or no rain. There’s an interesting situation developing off the NW coast of WA, where two cyclones have moved south, separated but circling each other like a giant dance. This makes their path unpredictable. They are shown as possibly joining up and moving on a line south, then crossing the coast well north of Perth and moving inland. If they do, the forecast is for LOTS of rain, maybe next Sunday and Monday.

Sunday is forecast for heavy rain. I look forward to it. I like variable weather.

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Oslo railway station

I watched a Norwegian movie on SBS the other night, called Earthquake (about, y’know, earthquakes ‘n’ stuff) and one of the scenes showed a magnificent view of the Oslo railway terminus from a high building viewpoint. Aaah, good plan for a model railway, I thought, so above is a panorama I made from Google Earth today. Here are a few more views.

Lookit all dem goods wagons and containers!

I wouldn’t try to reproduce the whole lot but it’s a good plan. Now to try to get it into the modelling software called Anyrail. I haven’t done much recently but it’s always in my mind to get back onto it.

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My appointment with the plastic surgeon finally came around on Tuesday, after a seven week wait! What a factory the place was. Doctor’s surgeries are usually fairly pleasantly decorated and furnished places. This was like a …. I dunno, business premises/factory/sports centre. It’s called Redimed and they deal with all kinds of medical/physio things. The waiting area is vast, with around two dozen chairs and low quality room dividers for the staff to sit behind, with cheap folding tables in front of them.

Anyway, the point is I waited more than an hour before my name was called! I was getting pretty restless by then so I was glad my time was finally up. I was shown into a small, bare consulting room with the cheapest of cheap desk and two chairs, plus an examination table. Was my waiting time up? No way. I had to wait another half hour before the doctor finally showed up! I was pretty browned off by then. That’s the longest wait I’ve ever had.

Anyway, it was to look at what I’ve been told is a cyst on my right temple, but may be more sinister, as doctors say. I can tell you, it’s been growing in size and becoming more painful in the seven weeks I’ve had to wait for that appointment.

Anyway, they took a piece for a biopsy and I go back next Wednesday for the next step. Obviously, it will have to be cut out and it’ll be a deep and wide hole. It’s about 12mm wide now, and quite sharply painful. They had to put two stitches in after the cut. It’s hurting.

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I had to see the GP today about my C/T scan of the bladder last week, and the report was, “All clear”. No problems. So the original problem was just a bladder infection.

While I was there I asked if my Astra-Zeneca vaccination next Tuesday is still going ahead. Yes, he said, they have supplies and I’m a high priority customer, so it’s all go. That’s good to know.

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The pandemic is taking its toll on the shops at Clarkson. There are several new boarded up casualties lately, including a greengrocer that’s located just outside Coles yet has survived for several years. I always wondered what they were thinking, since their prices were no cheaper. The only thing was that they had a bit wider range of exotic fruits and vegetables. Not any more – they’re gone now.

April Fool

Sanur sunrise Jan 2011 © PJ Croft

The 1st of April, Mum’s birthday in 1924. Nearly her centenary, wow. She died in 1996, I should add, at age 72, so I’ve beaten her.

I haven’t seen any April Fool’s Day jokes today, except the one about Voltswagen. Stale already. I haven’t even bought any hot cross buns. I should avoid them, being type II diabetic, but I wouldn’t mind having one or two, toasted with butter. Yum!

Crikey, it’s 35deg today, starting the second month of autumn, and the hot weather is scheduled to continue for several more days. It was 39deg last Monday. Crazy. Yet it rained at 4am on Tuesday morning. I happened to be awake at the time and heard it coming down hard, but only for a couple of minutes. It was enough to soak the gardens and lawns, though. Nice.

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I had the second bladder CAT scan on Tuesday at Joondalup Hospital. Crikey, the queue just to get into the parking area stretched right out onto the main road. It took me 15 minutes just to get to the boom gate. Luckily I’d seen a car pull out and go, so I had a space immediately. My point is, that parking area is atrocious. There are always long waits for a space, and when you’ve got an appointment, no matter how early you try to be, it never seems to be enough to stop the anxiety rising.

Anyway, the scan was simple and I await a call for the results. I think it was “an abundance of caution”, otherwise known as CYA, (Cover Your Arse), on the part of the GP. At least with bulk billing it’s cheap (like, no cost to me).

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It’s good to see house prices rising again. Good for me, that is, as an owner. Not so good for buyers, but with interest rates so low they don’t have the worry of never ending mortgages, even though they need big loans.

For me, as a reverse mortgage case, at last the value of the house should be increasing faster than the interest rate on the loan. That’s what makes a reverse mortgage work. I want my house to increase in value.

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Why did Coles remove the swing “gates” from their supermarkets some years ago, but reinstate them about a year ago?

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Coles are testing me; they stopped stocking my favourite Vietnamese Pho Noodle soups a few months ago. Then a few weeks ago they stopped stocking my addictive favourite cashews with the skin on. Now they’ve stopped selling my favourite frozen pizzas, McCains Sourdough varieties.

Given that Woolies sell the pizzas and have much a nicer range of ready cooked meals, I may have to switch. I used to complain on this blog about Woolies being very unreliable on their checkout scanning but I have to say, it seems to have been fixed. I’ve done a bit of shopping for my groceries at Woolies in the past year and I’m not noticing any errors any more. Good for them.

Ooops, oh dear, never mind

A real shot of Saturn.

Ah, autumn is starting. It’s a bit cooler, temps in the high twenties and low thirties, but more noticeable are the cooler night time temps. We got down to 11deg last night. I start out on top of the covers, no fan, but move under the doona around 1.30am for a good sleep. Still cold showers, I think I can last until April.

I heard one of Michael Moseley’s health programs last week explaining the immune system. It made the point that when we’re put into “fight or flight” mode, ie stress, our body produces hormones and chemicals (I can’t remember the details) which boost our immune system, temporarily. We don’t want these chemicals all the time as they can be harmful, but they did recommend a cold ending to your showers, to stimulate this release. This was referring to the UK where a cold shower would be really cold, so my fully cold showers wouldn’t be quite the same but close enough, I think. So I’ll continue.

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I felt very embarrassed and stupid this afternoon. I pride myself on having a very good sense for where the corners of my car are. I almost never nudge anything, but I must admit I did nudge a car in the shopping centre car park today.

It was at very low, crawl speed as I pulled into a bay. I looked and there was no-one in the car. Once I’d parked I got out and was embarrassed to see a woman talking to the driver in the car (he must have just got back) and pointing at me. Uurrgh. The guy got out and looked at his rear bumper (plastic, like mine) and there was a fairly large white mark on it from my car.

Luckily he rubbed it with his hand and most of it came off – it was really very light. He was very good about it. I apologised deeply and he said, “Oh, it’ll be OK. It’s OK.” Phew, thank goodness. I said sorry again and it was all done, but I was highly embarrassed.

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I’ve got my appointment to have my COVID injection (I’m not going to use the cliche word, jab!) It will be the Astra Zeneca one. I’m booked in on 13 April at my local medical centre. It’s only a 5 minute appointment, they’re planning to get a lot done and because we have to sit in the waiting area, they have to rush us through as they don’t have enough room for a crowd.

Then it’s a 12 week wait for the second one. I’m feeling a bit impatient because I’ve really, really got the hots to go to Melbourne or Sydney to buy one of those Peugeot 407 Coupes and drive it back. Really keen. Stupid.

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I’ve had a call from the installer to come out and fit two hand rails for me, one in the shower, one in the toilet. This is a free service from Osborne Park Hospital Rehabilitation Centre for “aged” people like me. Yes, free. No charge. Not bad. I didn’t ask for this. They just seem to have my name in their books and phoned me one day a few months ago to ask if they could call out here to see what I need.

So that’s what happened. The lovely Sophie came here a couple of weeks ago, measured up and wrote things down, and here we go – he’s coming on Monday. Fine with me if it’s free.

I must admit, things are getting harder. My balance in the shower is not as good as it was and I have to pull myself up with the door frame from the toilet. My fault, if I lost 20kg…….

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I’ve finished another book, science fiction this time. It was Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. What a strange book. I don’t know quite what to say about it, except that I finished it, so it held my attention to the end.

Set far in the future, it’s the story of a six year old boy called Ender Wiggin (hence the name), who’s picked at a very early age as being exceptionally bright. He’s taken from his parents and brother and sister to be sent into space to a training school where for the next five years he’s put through leadership and combat training with other boys his age with games in zero or low gravity in a simulator.

The objective is to find the future commanders of space warfare fighting forces to defend Earth against a future attack by aliens called Buggers (really?). He does exceptionally well and eventually is put in charge of what he thinks is the final training session, against massively outnumbering Bugger forces. He wins, of course, and comes away exhausted. Only then do the regular army commanders tell him that it wasn’t a training session, it was the actual final battle with the real aliens.

There’s a lot more to the story, including all the dynamics of his relationships with his brother and sister, and a rather lame ending, but it’s very well written. If it held my attention despite the weird story line, it must have been good.

I’ve always liked science fiction provided it’s based on science. I’ve always found most so-called SF books are simply stories of Earth situations transferred into space, ie cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians. No deal, not for me. Or else, they start out with a good idea, such as launching a mission to the Sun with a giant sun shield, but degenerate into a stupid story of space ghosts or similar.

The best author I’ve ever read was Dr Robert L. Forward. His doctorate was in astrophysics and it showed. Unfortunately he couldn’t develop believable dialogue very well, writing childlike dialogue at times, but his space situations were very far thinking and solidly based in science and physics.

The current king of SF, for me, is the Brit, Stephen Baxter, once again a PhD in astrophysics so he is qualified. His stories are truly mind expanding, but I must admit I find his books lack tension. The stories, although interesting, tend to meander along with nothing much happening.

However, I read his book Titan a couple of years ago, about a voyage to Saturn’s moon, Titan, to scope it out as a refuge for an Earth colony. Considering it has a surface temperature of about -200C and is frozen methane, it seems a tall order, but boy, that one held my attention.

I’ll buy any new Stephen Baxter book that comes out.

Likewise, I’m a big fan of another UK author, Robert Goddard. He’s nothing to do with SF but he’s very prolific, writing mystery novels, mostly set in the south-west of England. The thing is, he’s a great story teller, in fact I’d go so far as to say a very skilful story teller. He’s written many books, more than 30 I think, and I’ve read them all. He writes a new one every year and I think it’s time I checked to see if there’s a new one.

Fist-U-La

Me with the lovely Sutri, Bali April 1983. © PJ Croft 2021

Wow, summer is hanging on. Halfway through March and it was still 37.6C today, with 38C forecast for tomorrow and a string of 30s after that. I’m not complaining, just saying. They said last night would be uncomfortably hot, 22C min, but I had no discomfort. It was a beautiful night.

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The headline refers to my GP getting the results from my CT scan last week and although I feel fine and am not having any trouble, the scan showed a possibility of a fistula, a bridge between the colon and the bladder. The worry is that this could cause leakage into the bladder and repeated bladder infections (I’ve had a few, not many).

So he wants me to have another CT scan with a barium drink this time. Apparently this is not a common request so the clinic are chewing their pencils and will get back to me. That’s OK, I’m not having any discomfort or any problems. I can wait.

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My PC crashed in a big way yesterday. All I did was re-start as requested by my antivirus program (Kaspersky) and clunk! It wouldn’t boot again, not even into the BIOS. I was slightly worried for a while.

But I got into the guts, removing the graphics card and the memory modules and tackling all the accumulated dust. There was a lot. It took me about an hour.

Then I put it all back together and heyo! Away she went. It booted up smoothly with no complaint. Just goes to show, it’s not hard. I’d suspect it was mainly the wiggling and jiggling of the motherboard that was the main way it was fixed. It’s always worth a try. So that was a relief.

I built this computer in 2013 with fairly high end components (Core i7 2.6GHz CPU, 2x 4GB memory modules, 500GB Solid State Drive) and it’s lasted me well. I don’t feel any need to upgrade it.

On the other hand, my laptop is an ASUS touch-screen tablet with a magnetically attached keyboard. It runs Windows 10 but that and being touch screen are about the only things to recommend it.

The main problem is that the battery only lasts about 2½ hours. It has two USB ports, a type A and a type C, but the type C is used for charging and it really needs to be on the charger all the time, so that port is not usable for anything else.

As a computer, it’s OK and runs fine. It’s just that, with that short battery life, I never feel confident about taking it out with me, especially when I’d like to attach a DVD drive and watch movies with it. It wouldn’t even last a plane ride to Bali (3.5hrs).

I’m tempted to replace it with something more modern with better battery life and a higher spec. What would I choose? Maybe this?

ASUS Zenbook 14.

Weight only 1.13Kg, with as much power as this desktop, and up to 16 hours battery life (so they advertise). Price? Basic, $1,152. I’m sure it goes up as you add extras. I’m not saying I’ll do it, just musing. There are some fantastic laptops out there, as powerful as desktops. With OLED screens, better than desktops.

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I’ve got the car hots again.

2006 Peugeot 407 Coupe. This one’s only done 82,000km and seems overpriced at $12,990 at a dealer in Melbourne.
Side view
This one’s done 131,000km and is $6,950. Private sale.
This one’s a 2006 and has done 155,000km, $7,850. Rear view. I like that!

They have either a 6cyl petrol or a twin-turbo 6 cyl diesel engine. I’ve never considered a diesel, but it’s supposed to be an exceptionally smooth and quiet engine. Twin turbo? Phwooaarr.

These cars are almost unobtainable in WA. There are only three on Carsales, Australia-wide. You find a few 407 sedans and wagons here in WA, but no coupes. These were $72,000 cars in 2007. All leather inside.

I always thought I needed a station wagon but these grab me. They go for an average of $8,000 now. But all in Victoria, NSW or Queensland, never WA. I can dream. Anyway, I need to get rid of at least one of my existing cars first.

One drawback is that the indicator stalk is on the left, as per a European car. Very annoying!

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Grrrr. I made a trip into the city by train last week and parked my car directly opposite the Butler train station in the shopping centre car park. I knew it was a bit risky but because my left foot hurts, I was leaning heavily on my stick and walking slowly and wanted to reduce the distance I had to walk. It saved me about 250m.

When I got back at about 2.55pm, there was a damned sticker on my windscreen telling me I’ve been fined $65 for overstaying, marked 2.52pm! Wilson Parking Enforcement Services.

This is a small area of the carpark, little used because it’s so out of the way, away from the entrances, so not many cars there. I’d noticed the car I parked next to when I arrived, because it looked so nice and I’m interested. It was an Audi A1 in a beautiful deep red. It was still next to me when I got back, but it didn’t have a fine sticker!

I can’t say exactly what time I arrived there but it was around 10.30am, maybe a bit later. They’d pinged me at 2.52pm, so that makes it 4 hours 22 mins maximum in a 4 hour area.

I’m going to dispute this fine! (a) I dispute the time – they must have marked my tyre right at the minute I arrived, very unlikely; (b) why was my car pinged and not the Audi?; (c) I’ll plead my disability, although I don’t have a disability pass; (d) I don’t think I was away for 4 hours; (e) if you prosecute me, it will probably cost you more than the fine in lawyers and court time; (f) if you do this, the shopping centre will lose my business – there are plenty of other places I can go. That will cost you hundreds of dollars a month.

They even threaten to tow my car away and impound it if I don’t pay. Bloody hell, what is this, East Germany?

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I’ve started watching a new show on Netflix, The One. It concerns a medical research firm that has found a way to use DNA to match people to their perfect partner, their unique love match, “The One” person in the world for them.

The problem is, married people, or people in committed relationships, take the test just as a joke, and find they are not with their perfect match, and in some cases The One is someone they know. This is causing marriage breakups, badly enough that laws are being considered in parliament (this is in Britain).

The problem is, there seem to be at least two side stories, one involving a murder, one involving another love story, constantly flipping back in time, and the main characters resemble each other in looks. All this means that after three episodes, I’m totally confused. Who are these characters? What does the murder have to do with the main story?

It’s an utter mess. Not recommended.

However, tragic that I am, I’ve started The Big Bang all over again. Yes, I’ve seen it all before on free-to-air in the past ten years, then watched it all again, all 250 odd episodes in the past four months, and now I’ve started it again. I never tire of it. Tragic.

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Back to cars – the Honda’s problem the other day was not the new battery, nothing to do with that. It was to do with the auto transmission, where it doesn’t realise it’s in Park. There’s a small rectangular slot next to the transmission shifter and you have to use a screwdriver to release the shifter. This is in a $75,000 car! (That was the new price in 2005 – I paid $3,000.)

So I don’t have to worry about the battery being flat, I just have to carry a screwdriver, or a key to put into the slot. Crazy.

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Huh! I just tried to phone the ABC Perth radio show with Geoff Hutchison to tell a story, but on both numbers, 0437 922 720 and 1 300 922 720, all I got was “This number has been disconnected” and “This number is not in use”. What?? They say a hundred times a day to call these numbers. This was the first time I’ve ever tried to call, and I got that! Huh?

Anyway, the discussion was about sleep apnea and getting along with your sleeping partner.

My funny story was that, ever since I’d had my CPAP machine, I’d wondered how I’d cope with the embarrassment when I slept with a woman. The funny bit was that it came about and as we were preparing for bed, I said, “Er, I need to tell you that I use this machine called a CPAP.” And she said, “Oh, that’s OK, so do I.” Hah ha ha ha ha. Problem solved.