Creeping winter

Bowl black 1

Just starting to notice a bit of cooler weather. The doona is on at night. The windcheater is on in the evening. The patio door is closed after 5pm. The leaves are falling from the street trees. The evening is starting around 5.30pm.

They forecast a 95% chance of rain today. It looked a bit grey at 2pm but nothing happened. Lucky, because I chose to do my washing today. Ha.

5.45pm Ha again! The rain crept up on me. I managed to get most of my washing off the line.

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Eye clinic appointment tomorrow, thank goodness. Something’s not right. I seem to be peering more, and having trouble with bright and dark. I hope it’s the cataracts. I want this over with.

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Yudhie (right) at his restaurant April 2014.

My Bali guest (above right) arrives in two weeks, and will be with me for about two weeks. Should be interesting. This will be his first visit to Perth, but he’s well travelled – he went to Japan last year, so it won’t be a novelty.

I’m not sure what we’ll do for food. I don’t want to eat out every night, nor eat a big meal in the evenings. We’ll see how it goes.

He owns a hotel in Sanur and has offered me free accommodation when I’m there. It’s a bit out of the way, not near the beach and you’d need transport if you stayed there, so I’m not sure, but it’s nice of him to offer.

He surprised me by saying he’s doing exams at the moment for his Masters degree in Philosophy. I’m impressed.

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Have you been watching The Halcyon on ABC1 on Saturday nights? I wasn’t too enthusiastic when it first started as it seemed very low key. But gee, it’s grown on me. What a great show, as only the BBC (or British TV anyway) does so well. They recreate WW2 London scenes so realistically, not that I’d know, but they look real. Still, a lot of London has hardly changed, I presume. You’d need to have watched it from the start, though. It was about episode 6 or 7 last night. Keep an eye out for the repeat when it happens, which, the way things are going on the ABC, will probably start next week.

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One thing I’m noticing on TV shows recently is the use of drone material. It’s obvious when you see shots rising smoothly from ground level (or low down) to heights too high for a crane (by crane, I mean a TV crane, a boom arm). Or where the shot is looking straight down from a fair height, or smoothly tracking around from the air. I’m not criticising – done well, it looks great, but it can also look a bit artificial. It used to require a helicopter, but costs kept the use pretty rare. Now it’s common since drones are so cheap and easy.

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PingKee pork shop

Ping Kee Pork Shop, Penang, Malaysia 1990  © PJ Croft 2017

Penang. I was there for about a week in 1990, and I have the kidney stone to prove it. Not really, but I didn’t realise what dark urine meant and I was lucky the stone didn’t strike until I got home. It got stuck in the ureter and took a year to work its way through. Ow, that was a rotten year. Kidney stone pain every few days, not the full 10/10 but 8 or 9. They had to go in with a probe and break it up in February 1991.

Anyway, I must make another visit. I’m sure it’s got even better in the last 20 years.

Slo-o-o-o-w

Solo dance theatre 245

Ramayana, Solo 1989.   © PJ Croft 2017

Oh, my internet is so slow! I wondered if I’m being shaped again, but no, I haven’t reached that stage yet. Just to get this far on this page has taken about 10 minutes of waiting for various loading processes.

My billing date is the 22nd and I got a message that I’d used this month’s 20GB by the 7th. I paid $10 for another 20GB and it’s almost used up already! In four days! Someone is stealing my bandwidth, I reckon. I’m turning the modem off at night now, and that’s stopped the off-peak usage, but my usage today has been nearly 1GB and I’ve been out most of the day.

Change password on the modem? That might work.

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Another sleepless night tonight. I’m writing this at 2.30am. Took a mild sedative and it hasn’t worked. Basta! Big problem. How come I can fall asleep in daylight, but not at night? Crazy.

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I’ve written before about seeing cars with faulty tail lights or brake lights or both. I happened to follow one with a dud brake light into a car park a few days ago. I went over and said, “You’ve got a faulty brake light there, do you realise?”

The guy looked a bit sheepish and said, “Yeeeaaah, I know.”

Well if you know, why don’t you bloody well fix it? “Cops’ll get you,”  I said. Waste of breath. Idiot. I assert that every time I drive, I see at least one car with faulty brake/tail lights. No-one cares.

I blew my horn at another guy yesterday. The lights turned amber and I had time to stop, but a guy pulled out from two cars behind me and accelerated through the red light. Grrrrr! I blew my horn, but what does it take?

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I bought my first two 4K BluRay DVDs on Wednesday, even though I don’t have a player yet. JB were offering 20% off, so I bought Passengers, that sci-fi one I liked, and Planet Earth II, the new BBC remake in 4K. The quality is supposed to be outstanding.

The prices were less than I remembered – Passengers was $35 less 20%, which includes a standard 2K BluRay disc as well as the 4K disc. And Planet Earth is a two disc set for $40 less 20%. I’ll watch for specials on players as I’ve been told there was a half price player deal at Easter. I missed it.

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The Chump is digging himself a hole to fall into. As the quality news reports are saying, this is beginning to look like tyranny. Like some of the darker episodes of history. Well, many people have not forgotten the tyrants of the past.

Perseverance

Chp Chip Fatt sign

You are warned.  Malaysia  1990  © PJ Croft  2017

A couple of weeks ago I talked about never giving up on getting something to grow. Well, I’ve persisted, with some stumbles at times, I admit, and my flower has survived and grown to maturity. Looking forward to a long bloom.

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Hang in there.  © PJ Croft 2017

Apropos persistence. I got this shot about five years ago in my old house. I was sitting in my usual spot under the air conditioner and felt something brush my arm. Looking around, I saw this.

This gecko must have crawled up the wall outside and through the air hole into the air conditioner. When I turned it on, the gecko got blown out the front and had to hang on like this. When I frightened it, it dropped its tail and that’s what I felt. But it hung on! I gently took it outside and released it in the garden.

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This is crazy. On 13 March I wrote of the coincidence of two separate news events (woman drowning her child; Aussie Eurovision contestant chosen) occurring in one week in the town of Moama in NSW, then soon after finding a video game character called Joseph Momoa. Then soon after that, seeing the announcement of a Disney movie called Moana.

Now, today, it seems that the woman caught with drugs in Colombia is from a South Australian town called Moana.

Someone is making this up.

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How much longer is this beautiful weather going to hang on? Can’t we have some bad weather for a change?  And where’s the wind gone? Perth used to be the Windy City. It’s not good enough.

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My internet billing date is the 22nd of each month. This morning I found I’d used up all my 20GB allowance, on the 6th! I get shaped to 125Kb/s when that happens.

I never used to go anywhere near to using 20GB, rather down near the 5GB end. But month after month I’m approaching or exceeding 20GB and I can’t see why. I don’t download movies or songs. I do download software, and often it will be in the 400-600MB range, but that only happens a few times each month.

I’ve been wondering for some time if I have a bandwidth thief piggybacking on my wi-fi. This extra loading started quite suddenly, I think, more than a year ago. In particular, I can’t make my PC stay off. If I tell it to Sleep, it goes to sleep, then wakes up again straight away. If I Turn Off, it goes off and seems to stay off, but many times I find it’s on again when I wake in the morning. And much of my bandwidth is being used in off-peak hours, i.e. between 2am and 8am. Sometimes I do use the PC if I can’t sleep, but rarely.

I do know that Microsoft downloads and installs patches in the early hours and can wake the PC remotely to do it.

Something’s just occurred to me. I’ve got another desktop PC in the spare bedroom, two laptops that are usually just asleep most of the time and a tablet that is often just asleep. I wonder if …  I think the way to prove this is to switch the modem-router off when I go to bed (it’s next to my bed, because that’s where the phone socket is). Then look at my usage graphs after a few days or a week or two.

Meanwhile, I pay $59.95 for internet service and 20GB a month, but it’s only another $10 to add another 20GB when I run out. Not too bad. I don’t think I’m getting a very good deal from iiNet, judging by ads from other companies offering huge data allowances or uncapped plans for no more cost, or less. Might be time to stamp my foot.

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Toyota MR2 from 20 years ago.

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Toyota SR current model.

Something has gone wrong with car design. Ugh! Ugh! Ugh!

Oooomph!

R13-018

© PJ Croft 1992, 2017

Pity about the giant bunny that died on a flight from London to the USA. Well, there’s no mystery – it was being sent to O’Hare airport. It would have been mortifying for any self respecting bunny.

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A few days ago I said how much I liked the movie Passengers. I was even toying with the idea of buying the Blu-ray version. It would be a bit silly, but there ya go. I said it was speccy even as a normal standard def DVD.

So I was browsing in JB yesterday and looked at the shelf for 4K Ultra-HD Blu-rays. There it was, Passengers in 4K, and you get a normal Blu-ray disc in the box as well, two discs, $45.

Well, I haven’t got a 4K player, even though my TV is 4K, and this is a powerful incentive to buy one. As well, the waiting is over for Planet Earth II, the remake of the BBC series with David Attenborough. That’s on the 4K shelf too, unfortunately at $75, but …

4K players have halved in price in the past year, so I’m countin’ the pennies. The Samsung is $395 and the Panasonic is about the same. Hmmm.

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What is this 4K? Skip this if you know already.

When we changed from analogue to digital TV in 2000, the number of pixels in the vertical edge (the picture height) was set at 576 for Standard Definition. That’s because the number of visible lines in analogue was about this number (625 lines minus some lines which were used for other purposes and were hidden on the old tube TVs), so digital TV was designed to look about the same.

The traditional aspect ratio of standard def was 4:3 or 1.333 width x height. That made the number of horizontal pixels 576 x 1.33 = 768 approx. That’s SD.

When we changed to digital and flat panel displays, suddenly it was possible to fiddle with the parameters, and the aspect ratio was widened to 16:9 or 1.77:1, nearer to movie aspect ratios. A wider picture just looks a lot better, as well. That’s the standard used for normal DVDs, which even though they’re not HD, look pretty damn good. That’s because the techniques of video compression have improved tremendously in the last 15 years or so.

Digital transmissions are also capable of multiple data streams, usually one high data rate for High Definition and three at Standard Definition. These data streams fit into one 7MHz channel width, formerly used by one analogue channel. Nice, eh? Four channels where there was one, and because it’s digital, “no snow”, no ghosting, and stereo sound, all much higher quality than analogue.

So with a high data rate stream, we can have more pixels on the screen. The next step up was to increase the vertical pixels from 576 to 720. Multiplying that figure by 1.777 (for 16:9 aspect ratio), we get 1280 across. This is mid range high def. I’ve just made a short 9 minute video segment for Vimeo and that’s what I used: 1280 x 720 pixels. This has been used for broadcasting on the Seven Network, who rather misleadingly called it High Definition for some years. It sort of is, but it’s not Full High Definition.

That’s the next step up, where we have 1080 pixels picture height. Again, applying the 1.777 16:9 aspect ratio, the horizontal pixels number 1920, and this is called Full HD, 1920 x 1080. This is as high as broadcast TV goes and is the resolution on Blu-ray discs.

Manufacturers being what they are, wanting to make us buy new TVs and so on, needed a new selling point, so they came up with “4K”. They doubled the number of pixels both vertically to 2160 (2x 1080) and horizontally to 3840 (2x 1920).

That means the screen is now 4x the number of pixels of Full HD, and it’s called Ultra HD or 4K. This is roughly the screen width in pixels – 3840 is roughly 4000, yes?

But the data rate for this is far too high for broadcast, over-the-air TV reception and this is not likely to change. Therefore there’s no 4K free-to-air TV and probably never will be. The only way to get it is a high speed internet connection, i.e. fibre optic, or the new 4K Blu-ray discs. You need a new 4K Blu-ray player for this. At the moment, only Samsung and Panasonic make them, but Sony is bringing one out soon, and in a year or two they’ll be selling them at $99 in Coles. Ha!

So that’s what 4K is all about. So endeth the lesson.

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Another bad night last night. I’ve been using Phenergan and it works, but the hangover effect, even at the minimum 10mg dose, lasts for hours after I get up.

I’ve been recommended to try a different one, so last night I took a prescription melatonin pill. I went to sleep quite quickly, but woke again after 2 hrs and even though I felt totally relaxed and half asleep, I still couldn’t get back to sleep. I was still awake at 3am. I lay there until 4am but gave up and got up. Worked on a book project, had a hot milk cocoa and a bit to eat and went back to bed at 7.45am, but only dozed for an hour. I feel reasonable now, so I’ll keep going.

The recommendation is to try Nature’s Own Complete Sleep >>Advanced. I thought it might just be valerian, but it has ingredients I haven’t seen before – Lactium (hydrolysed milk protein, oh yeah); Ziziphus jujuba (what??) aka Spine Date; and Humulus lulupus (hops). What bullshit. At least it’s gluten free.

I’ll try it tonight. At $25 for 30 tablets, it had better work.

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I’ve had an email from Air Asia – I’ve accumulated enough bonus points for a free flight. That’s unexpected and a nice surprise. I have to make a booking on Monday 1 May, that’s just choosing a flight date, not actually travelling. I haven’t been considering a trip, but here’s a kick along. I can’t consider anything until after the cataract problem is fixed, whenever that is, and my visitor at the end of May has departed back to Bali. I like planning, though. I don’t have to go to Bali, although that’s probably the only choice.

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Another nice surprise. I’ve been reading up on what you need to do when you connect to the NBN, and one thing is that your house phone sockets need to be rewired to work with the NBN modem. The NBN company don’t help you with your normal phone. That becomes a VOIP phone and it needs to be configured.

Anyway, I read that Telstra normally charges for the phone socket rewiring, but it’s free for Age Pensioners. Wow! I’m glad I saw that. otherwise the charge is $240.

This is not a simple changeover. I’m fairly smart about techo stuff, but I was left bamboozled after reading this article. I might have to get a company to do it for me.

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I need fibre! I’ve edited together a 9 minute video segment of an event in Bali last year. The resulting file was originally 14 mins and 1.2GB in size! I had to go back over it, cut 5 mins out and reduce the quality. That got it down to 440KB, but even that is taking 5 hours to upload to Vimeo. I’m doing it for this one, but it’s unacceptable. I need fibre.

Good movie

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I watched a DVD last night called Passengers. Very good! I nearly wrote “excellent” – not quite, but close.

It’s a good idea, a spaceship far in the future on a 120 year trip to a planet in another galaxy that is Earth-like and has been partly colonised. They call it Homestead II. The spaceship is carrying 5000 settlers and 50-odd crew in sleep pods. They’re meant to be automatically woken by the ship’s computers when they near the new planet.

But the spaceship encounters an asteroid swarm and one or more rocks get through the shield and punch through the ship, damaging the computers. As a result, one of the sleepers is woken. He gets up (recovering amazingly quickly, like in five minutes – oh yeaaah?).  The trouble is, it’s 90 years too soon, 90 years until it reaches the destination. And he’s the only one, alone on this giant ship.

He sticks it out for a year, but nearly goes crazy with loneliness and the idea that he’ll die alone, and he falls in love with one of the sleepers, a woman named Aurora. Funny, you can see clearly through the plastic pods, even though I assume they’re frozen.

Anyway, he figures out a way to wake her, and for a year or so they take the time to fall in love. But eventually she finds out he woke her early (cleverly done) and that they’ll die of old age before reaching the destination. She gets a little bit angry! A little bit? She is furious.

I won’t give the rest away, but the thing about this movie is the computer graphics. Amazing! I was really impressed. They’ve even got the science fairly right. And there’s a swimming pool on the “ship” (of course). The sequence when the artificial gravity fails and the effect on the pool is fantastic. Computer graphics are now so realistic!

In short, highly recommended. I reckon I may even watch this a second time after a decent interval, and I rarely want to watch a movie twice. My copy is a standard def DVD but it’s available as a Blu-Ray and it would be even better. The space-ship shots are spectacular.

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nasa-warp-drive-star-trek-light-

I’ve thought a lot about this idea of travel to other stars and I reckon we are “imprisoned” by the laws of physics. Unless there’s some breakthrough such as using worm-holes, I don’t believe we’ll ever be able to travel to another planet around another star.

There’s a serious proposal in the USA to design a 100 year voyage to a likely star. But …

  • Unless hibernation can be perfected, and I mean perfected, the crew would die of old age before reaching the destination.
  • They would have to reproduce in space on the voyage, with all the risks, both medical and social, that entails.
  • They would have to pass on the goals and enthusiasm for the mission to these children, along with all the technical and engineering knowledge. That’s not a simple task.
  • No mechanical or electronic parts will last 100 years without failures. It’s beyond our capacity to design and build stuff that would last forever without breaking down.
  • Advances in science are happening faster and faster. Imagine being on that space ship, 40 or 50 years out, no possibility of stopping and reversing, and getting a message that took 20 years to reach you, “Um, sorry to tell you, guys and gals, but due to advances we’ve made, there will be a welcoming committee on Planet X to greet you. We’ve found a way to reduce the travel time taken to a few weeks, so we hope you enjoyed your 100 year holiday, but we don’t really need you now.”

No, I think this kind of travel is at least 50 years in the future, if not more.

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I bought a Sandisk SD card reader a couple of years ago, at a cost of about $35. The thing is, it’s a UHS-II card reader. These cards have a few extra contacts and are Ultra High Speed for use in 4K video recording, which I do.

But last year it broke, refusing to take the card, just letting it flop loosely in the slot. I tried what I could, but as it’s totally sealed, welded/glued plastic, I couldn’t open it up.

Last week I thought, I’ve got nothing to lose, it’s busted anyway, so I took to it with sharp knife and pliers. Bingo, I got it open without too much damage. Now I could see the bare SD card holder but I couldn’t see a problem. I was fiddling around and suddenly something fell out. It was a micro-SD card! A 1GB micro-SD, some spare card that would have been in an adapter which I’d inserted to check what was on it, and it must have somehow fallen out of the adapter and into the bottom of the SD card holder.

Now the normally sized SD cards slot in properly and it works again. It pays to try.  I’ll glue it back together now.

By the way, I bought that adapter on-line at $35, but when I tried to buy a replacement at Leederville Camera House, their price was $90. I said no thanks. When I got home, I rechecked the on-line price, still the same, so I emailed the link to Camera House and complained. They replied and said they could reduce their price to $67. Gee thanks. It pays to shop around.

The same thing happened last year. I bought a Sandisk 64GB micro-SD card along with something else. When I got home, I realised I’d been charged around $225! I checked on-line and I could have got it for as low as $55.

Luckily I hadn’t opened the packaging so I took it back and got them to reverse the transaction. Because I was leaving for Bali and needed it, I bought the same card over the counter at the airport duty free shop for $90. Beware the rip-offs.

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I found a web site that, by analysing your answers to a series of 20 questions, estimates your mental age – http://mymentalage.com/  I tried it and it says I’m 29!

I think a series of tries would be required, assuming the questions are different each time? I’ll try it again soon.

PS: I tried it again. The questions are the same every time! I varied one answer and it told me I’m 31. No confidence. Ignore it unless you need an ego-stroke.

And how about this? It’s an age calculator, from your photo.

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I like that one!  How Old do I Look?   You need photos of yourself in jpg form.

Never give up

Front 87a

The Trigg house, 1987, the year after I bought it. “Beautifully landscaped native gardens”, the ad said. I spent probably $10k getting all the massive trees out of that block. My choice, of course, and it was an excellent investment, increasing ten-fold in value by 2013.

In the 1980s I used to have a gardener come once a month or so at my house in Trigg. I had a small tree that I’d planted myself but it looked dead and I asked him to pull it out.

No, he said he had a policy, “Never, ever give up”, and he kept watering and coddling it, and eventually it did burst back into life.

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Although I loved living in that Trigg area, the house was a bodge job. No lintels over the doors and windows! Thin-wall copper water piping that ruptured. Five septic tanks in the back yard, five! All had to be decommissioned and a couple of them broken up and removed when the deep sewerage came through.

Water from the roof valley running down the inside walls. Bright yellow painted walls with turquoise door frames. A parquetry floor that had never been sanded and varnished. No architraves on some of the doors. Jungle green paint on some walls, bamboo pattern wallpaper, navy blue paint with mirror tiles on one wall. The washbasin in the bathroom sitting suspended from the drain-pipe, with no cabinet. Missing kitchen cabinets. A new bedroom added on that was too narrow, because the previous owner had not wanted to shift a window as was needed.

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My back yard, 1987. That was hard work! Peter Partridge dwarfed by the massive trees.

Back yard 87g

Slowly I got it cleared. All the tree branches had to be pulled up the side of the house to the street verge. Months of hard work.  Broken septic tank under the corrugated iron sheet. That timber paling fence fell down.

Ugh! Ugh! I was very naiive when I bought it. It took me three months to make the decision.

The amount of work I put in to get that house into some kind of shape …! Luckily I was pretty fit in the 1980s and 1990s, until sleep apnea got me and it all slowed down and stopped. It was hard to find a buyer, but it was a classic case of “worst house in the best street” for value. I got all the value increase though, ten-fold in 25 years. The buyers in 2013 will have seen very little gain since. Sorry, luck of the game.

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Holy cow, I saw a near crash yesterday in the shopping street near me. I was behind a small car travelling at about 30km/h, when a car started to pull out of a parking bay in front of it.

I could hardly believe my eyes, both cars continued to move and the car on the road in front of me didn’t brake, not until the last second. He stopped no more than a few inches from the car that was pulling out, and that car continued to move out as if it had some right to do so. It did not. No indicator either. Amazing. No accident, but it was close.

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What did I say a couple of weeks ago? We should build a gas pipeline across the country to supply our abundant reserves of LNG to the east coast.

That’s the proposal that’s being put forward at the moment. Told ya. But what we should do is apply a resource tax on the gas we supply to make up for the GST that’s being ripped out of WA. Obviously this would be delicate, but where there’s a will ….

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I’ve been awake all night again, completely unable to get to sleep. I was tired when I went to bed at about 10pm, took two valerians, read for half an hour or so, felt really sleepy and turned the light off, but I just lay there for what seemed ages. Eventually I looked at my watch – midnight. Grrr. I never got to sleep at all, despite some more reading, and got up at 4.30am. I’ll have another try soon at about 8.30am.

It’s annoying because there’s a concert on at the Concert Hall at 10am. I was thinking of going, but I’m too woozy to make it. Sibelius Symphony no. 2, one of my favourites.

Damn, this insomnia is a huge problem. I was getting good sleep by using small doses of Phenergan last week, but the effect stopped working so I’ve had to stop it for a week or more until it starts working again.

Aaaaarrrrgh

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Busselton lightning 1993.   © PJ Croft 2017

What a rotten night. I got to sleep at about 11pm but was woken by a power failure at 12.52am. Most people would sleep through such a thing, but my CPAP blower goes off and suddenly I can’t breathe properly. That wakes me quick smart.

It stayed off until 3.30am! No light to read by, a bit of restless leg syndrome, a too warm-too cool feeling, diabetic pain in my feet, it was bad. Luckily my battery radio worked.  And I was able to read the Economist on my tablet.

But my house alarm was driving me nuts with a beeping sound from the keypad. I must admit I’ve been lax in not getting around to changing a faulty sealed lead-acid battery for “keep alive” power, and that meant one of the keypad panels had gone haywire and was beeping incessantly.

Finally, the power came back on at 3.30am, but that meant one of my hi-fi amps came on with FM noise at high volume. I had to get up to turn it off. But I couldn’t make the alarm panel shut up. It was only a beeper, not the house screamer. At that stage.

Eventually I could stand it no longer so at 4am I got the ladder and climbed up into the closet to open the alarm cabinet and reset it. I turned the mains power off but when I tried to open the cabinet, it triggered the full bore house alarm! It is LOUD! I couldn’t stop it.

I couldn’t get one of the screws holding the door out. Damn. Eventually I got it, but my house alarm was going off for more than 5 mins at 4am. Sorry, neighbours. Mind you, I wasn’t the only one – each time the power fails or is restored around here, several house alarms go off. Everyone has an alarm, they were part of the estate houses when they were built in 2004, along with good reticulation watering systems, which is great. Unfortunately, alarms going off are such a common thing that no-one takes any notice of them. Thieves could just ignore them, really.

Anyway, eventually I got the alarm cabinet door open and unplugged the battery. Still the alarm was going! It finally stopped when I unplugged the mains power again.

Sleep was out of the question now, so I made coffee and settled down to look at the computer. Damn! The power went off again at 4.20am! It stayed off, so I tried to get back to the bedroom and literally walked into a wall and door, it was so dark. No damage, luckily, and the power came back on just as I was feeling my way into the bedroom.

So now at 5am I’m wide awake and internet browsing, which means I’ll have to daytime sleep again. I’m trying not to do that, but …

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A couple of years ago I remember thinking that the world was going to hell, that we were witnessing the end of this civilisation.  Little did I imagine then how bad things would become in just two years.

  • The Middle East, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Iran all either in full blown war or threatening it.
  • Turkey voting to have an absolute dictator in charge, with unlimited power, in place until at least 2029. What are they thinking?!
  • North Korea making credible threats of a nuclear strike, and no way to stop them except a pre-emptive military strike.
  • Britain and Brexit causing a massive problem for Europe, with Russia rubbing its hands with glee and sizing up the opportunities for trouble it presents.
  • This will mean a further decline of Britain as a world power. Their armed forces used to be a serious factor in keeping the peace, but they’ve been decimated by budget cuts for years. They’re building two new aircraft carriers, but they have no aircraft for them! Their navy is a shadow of what it used to be. Tragedy.
  • China militarising the South China Sea and threatening anyone who dares to challenge its land grab.
  • The US rejecting all the scientific evidence for greenhouse gas emissions and undoing all the good work of the Obama presidency.
  • An absolute idiot, uneducated, unintelligent, untrained in history and diplomacy now in charge as US President.
  • The decline of quality journalism and the seeds of distrust deliberately sown by the US president.

and the list goes on and on. I was pessimistic before, but I’m downright scared now. This will not end well.

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By the way, I’m dealing with a dietician at the moment, not a dietitian. I was unsure of the spelling so I looked it up. Dietician with a c is the UK English spelling and dietitian with a t is the US spelling. I’ll stick with UK English, thanks.

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After all that, I had an hour’s sleep then went to Joondalup for brunch. I wanted to use my birthday present from friends, which was a Dymocks voucher card. Nice.

I bought “Paul Keating, The Biography” with the card. It’s a massive book, 650 odd pages and will take me months to read, but I’ll read it. In my opinion, Paul Keating is the greatest prime minister Australia has ever had. Unfortunately he had a foul mouth and an acid tongue in the 1980s, which put most people off, but underneath that unlikeable exterior, he was and still is one of Australia’s great thinkers and doers. I wish he was still in politics now.

I also bought a couple of books on science, “50 Ideas of Einstein”, and one called, “You Probably Thought This Was Simple, But It’s More Complicated Than That.” Great title. It’s about skewering some of the more silly and outrageous scientific misconceptions in the popular press and media.

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Then I visited Woolworths supermarket. I did this only because I know they have a made to order Japanese food kiosk. I saw a TV program a couple of weeks ago about a hugely overweight Aussie guy who goes to Japan for two weeks to learn about the Japanese diet. He spends his two weeks eating nothing but their food and learning how to prepare his own, does a lot of walking in the process in Tokyo, of course, then comes back to Australia (Brisbane) and does another month on his own Japanese cooking.

Result? He loses 24kg weight and all his blood tests, lipids etc head back towards normal.

My blood tests and lipids are brilliant, no problems there, but I have a bad weight problem. It’s occurred to me that if I went to Joondalup every three days or so and bought my Japanese food at this kiosk, ready made, and stocked my fridge with it, I might be able to replicate this. I like Jap food and I reckon I could live on it, especially if I cooked my own okonomiyaki, vegetable omelettes. I regard cooking as a waste of valuable time, so I don’t want to go that far. Just a thought. I chatted to the two oriental-looking staff and they sounded encouraging. Which they would, of course.

But then I made the mistake of buying some general groceries. I say ‘mistake’, because it’s my experience that Woolies will try to rob you any chance they get.

Sure enough, when I checked my till receipt as I left the store, as I always do with Woolies, immediately I found two major pricing errors, in Woolies’ favour of course.

Two tins of soup which I’d taken from a corner shelf and marked at $1.68, scanned at $3.59 each! And two packets of hard crackers from a basket, marked as 2 for $6, scanned at $6 each! I had specifically asked a staff member as the price tag was vague, and I was assured that 2 for $6 was right. It bloody well was not!

So that was pricing/scanning errors totalling $19.18. This is not trivial and I am fed up with Woolies. Don’t shop at Woolies supermarkets unless you enjoy being ripped off! It happens every time for me. I won’t shop there these days. This has been going on for years! I will have to write a letter of protest to the management. Or put it up on Facebook. Hmmm. Coles, on the other hand, are exemplary. I don’t usually bother to check my receipts because they almost never make an error. If they can do it, why can’t Woolies, and why does Woolies never improve?