I’m not dead yet.

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For your a-mews-ment.  (C) PJ Croft 2016

The rumours of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. I’m still here, tapping away at these keys with my skeletal fingers. Trust your sense of smell. You’ll know.

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Wow, what a change to winter. April and May we were praying for rain, and boy, it’s here. This is like the winters of old, wet and cold all day and night. We don’t get this very often now. Let’s savour it.

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I’ve been beavering away for the past week or two trying to fix the driver side window on my car. It was being reluctant to raise a few times in the past few months, but about ten days ago it just went bzzzzzz and that was it. Stripped teeth on the winder gear, I assume. Unfortunately it’s in the down position and I can’t get it up. (Quiet there in the back stalls, stop snickering.)

I enquired about a new winder mechanism – no, not available from Mitsubishi any more, not for a 17 year old car. No problem, I found one on the web from a parts company in Brisbane, for $152 including express post. It still took 5 days!

I decided I’d try to change it over myself, but after several hours of beard stroking and muttering, and reading the Mitsi workshop manual pages from the web, I gave up. It’s too complex for me. You need nylon spacer gauges and another assembly has to come out of the door too. I gave up and booked it into Wanneroo Mitsubishi to have it done. They are OK to use my non-genuine part and quote 2hrs and $165. It’s booked in for Friday morning.

Meanwhile, since I had the door lining off, and the winder showed no sign of driving, I decided to pull the switch assembly apart to check the switch. I found soot everywhere from sparking in the past 17 years. The terminals are thick copper, so they just needed cleaning and a needle file, but I was surprised at the amount of soot.

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However, in the process, and without me really noticing, the window lock button sort of, er, fell out. When I say fell out, it fell to bits.

Boy, now that I know how to get it back together, I could demonstrate it, but it took me about three hours and several tries to get it back together and working. At one stage, I thought I’d just leave it out since I never use it, but no good, it has to be in place to bridge two contacts for the other switches to work.

Eventually I succeeded today. All the other windows work, but the driver side doesn’t show any sign of the motor working, so I can only assume it’s stuck between down and up. I’ll know on Friday. Of course it had to happen in winter, didn’t it?

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Off to the island up north again soon, and looking forward to it. It’s tricky to find the low fare times, days and weeks, but I ended up on Air Asia again. I decided I’d try Malindo as their seat pitch is 50mm extra and you get a meal and seat entertainment, but when I tried to book, I couldn’t find any way to add extra luggage or flexible travel dates. I always add these with Air Asia. Therefore Malindo misses out, I’m afraid, despite their attractive pricing.

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I’ve bought a 20Ah Lithium Polymer battery pack for my phone and laptop while travelling.

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Would you believe the brand is “Jackery”? It comes from a Brisbane company, so I hope for reliability and good service. I would usually go for a big name brand, but this was $104 versus $170 for a well known brand. That was too good to ignore.

The capacity is 20 Amp hours! That means it could supply, in theory, 20 Amps for 1 hour. That’s enough to melt the terminals. Or, more realistically, it can supply 1 Amp for 20 hours. That’s terrific. I was thinking it might run my CPAP, but that needs 12V. I’d need another device for that.

 

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It’s tiring being retired

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Another beautiful autumn day. Will we ever get any rain?

Busy day today – brekky with my photo-dog mates at North Beach Deli at 9.30am. Much bullshit exchanged; that’s why we call ’em BSBs, Bullshit Breakfasts.

As we were slowly leaving, a woman stopped near us and said she’d overheard us in the cafe talking about the lack of rain. We exchanged a few remarks about that, and then she said, “Are you interested in spiritual things?” We said no, not really.  Privately I thought, “Uh oh.” Sure enough she said, “Have you thought about the power of prayer?” I assume she meant to pray for rain. We started to move away but she kept on, telling us that God could help us, or similar. Hmm, hmm, hmm. Bye madam.

Then over to Osborne Park to collect a pair of computer speakers I’d ordered on-line. I’m looking forward to hearing them, they are solid wood cabinets, built-in 20W amps and decent speakers. I shall report.

Then to IKEA, where I bought two cheap inexpensive trolleys, one to carry a printer on top and all its paper supplies below, gloss white timber – nice – $75. The other a white steel frame with wire baskets below, probably to take a scanner – $49.  Damn, I try not to bring things into this house, to avoid clutter, but I fail.

The white timber one was in a long carton weighing 18kg. I found it pretty heavy and an IKEA guy put it on the trolley for me to take through the checkout.

Out on the forecourt when I was ready to load it into the car, I wasn’t looking forward to lifting it off the bottom of the trolley. Blow me down, a woman, probably in her 50s, greying hair, small to medium build, came up and said, “Would you like some help with that?” I was quite surprised and said, “Yes, but there must be an IKEA guy to do it.”
“No problem”, she said, and proceeded to lift it from low down, holding the short width and lifting it easily into my car. I thanked her profusely and said, “Gee, I’m embarrassed now”, but she just took my trolley and wheeled it away.

I was embarrassed. Do I look so helpless these days? I’m quite prepared to get help from a younger, fitter guy, but a greying little old lady? Lawdy lawdy.

Then lunch at the shops and home. Phew, I’m tired now.

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While at the shops, I browsed JB HiFi and bought a two DVD set called The Back of Beyond. Why? This is the original movie from 1954 that I saw at the slide-ins at Cunderdin in 1955 when I was 8 years old, and it scared the shit out of me. I can still recall the feeling of awful desolation at seeing a few Aboriginal kids lost in the outback, trying to find their way, walking, to some town. It instilled a lifelong apprehension in me at wide open spaces, a fear of being lost. It’s not a serious fear, but the memory is still there.

The second DVD is Return to The Back of Beyond. I haven’t seen that one.

Another frightening movie I saw when I was very young was When Two Worlds Collide, around 1953 when I was six. Uncle Max took me to the slide-ins at Bruce Rock and then brought me home, back to the farm house. I had nightmares for some time after that. I’ve seen it since (I might have it on a hard disk, I think), and it’s pretty tame, but to a six year old it wasn’t.

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Coincidence again?  This morning in the bathroom the name Thandie suddenly came into my mind. Odd, I thought, vaguely familiar?

While reading the paper at lunch, bingo: Thandie Newton is the star of some film. Precognition again.

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I’ve taken notice of the time of sunset in the past few days, as winter slowly approaches, so the time was in my mind as I was driving the other day. Bingo again, right on 5.34pm, the time of sunset for that day, my GPS display switched from day to night colours. So how does it know? There must be some trigger in the satellite data stream, I guess.

Which reminds me, I’m pretty sure I heard a radio report that recently the accuracy of the GPS signal in Australia has been increased to +/-4cm.  !!!!  That would be the military accuracy, I assume. When we first got access about 20 years ago, we only got the “degraded” +/-10m accuracy, I seem to remember.  That was the US not wanting to give their enemies access to the same accuracy that their own armed services got.

But Europe and Russia both have their own GPS systems up now, so it hardly matters any more.

Holy Smoke

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Driving home yesterday, I found the air full of smoke and beautifully pink and purple, so I headed straight for Jindalee beach where I got these shots.

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They were taken with my phone camera (OnePlus 3T) and I confess the purple coloured ones were taken with my Polaroid sunglasses held over the lens. It’s approximately the way I saw it. It looks good, anyway.

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This is the spot where the crow took off with our bocce marker ball, and there’s a sequel to that. We tried to find another wooden ball, 30mm in diameter without luck. But my friend found a package of four soap balls, all about 30mm in size. Aha. I haven’t tried them yet, but I think a crow might find the smell and taste unattractive.

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Netflix – I’m a fan. I’ve discovered a new show on Netflix – Occupation. It’s made in Norway, is set in the near future and proposes that the USA is self sufficient in oil and gas, so doesn’t care about anyone else (yeah), the middle east has run dry, and Norway has developed a thorium reactor capable of supplying electricity to the whole of Europe as well as itself. Therefore it shuts down its North Sea oil rigs completely, unilaterally, in the interests of climate change.

Unfortunately, Russia in particular objects, and subtly invades Norway to force them to restart the oil rigs and supply Russia. The EU refuses to back Norway as they are nowhere near free of dependence on oil. Stay tuned for the next exciting episode.

The thing is, the Russian takeover is not a visible military invasion, it’s low key, with hardly a soldier to be seen. Except that Spetznaz troops are on the oil rigs, ready to force the restart. And so on.  It’s in Norwegian, with subtitles, but that’s fine.

And on SBS, a new series called Bad Banks, made in Germany with subtitles too but with many breaks into English. I’ve only seen the first episode but it looks great.

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This is crazy. I have at least a thousand CDs; about 400 DVDs and BluRays with more being added almost weekly; probably 50 programs stored on my HD recorder, with more being added nightly; probably 250 books (?) with more always being added; about 50 magazines queued up to be read intensively, and good TV programs to watch nightly.

As well, I now have internet radio with literally hundreds, if not thousands, of radio feeds from all over the world.

Talk about information overload! I can’t read all my books in the 30 mins I allocate each night before lights out. I skim my magazines and put them aside to be studied later. I store TV programs and delete many of them if I haven’t watched them after a couple of weeks. An embarrassment of riches.  And I don’t use Facebook or Twitter!

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I was listening to the US TV journalist Katy Tur being interviewed in Sydney on the radio today. She’s the female journo that Trump fixated on as the one to hate, and she’s written a book about it (which I’ve bought).

She was saying that at Trump’s large political meetings, the journos were barricaded behind bike racks, and she said, “I don’t know, do you have bike racks in this country?”

What an insufferable, condescending insult. Typical American, anywhere that’s not the USA is a foreign country and probably backward.  I would have been unable to stop myself sneering.

A new era

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© PJ Croft 1990, 2018

My friend returned to Bali on Wednesday evening after five weeks with me. If I say she originally booked for three weeks, but extended her stay twice, you would be entitled to assume it was a very happy visit.

For myself, I feel as if I was in the eye of a hurricane during her time here, but in a good way. She’s a bundle of energy much of the time and ‘organised’ me quite a bit. It certainly made me much more active than I usually am, and we even managed a couple of good walks around the lakes, and she did the walk to the beach and back from here. It’s only 1.3km on paper, but is uphill going and coming back. I must do it myself, … one day, soon …

But having so much good food available made me gain a little bit of weight, which I’m now having to try to lose again. It’s successful, bit by bit. My friend loves to cook and really enjoys my kitchen, so I ate more than I usually do, but it was good.

She’s made up her mind and now sees Perth as a better home than Bali, especially as the heat here is even better for her condition. A move here is being planned for later in the year. There are many decisions to be made and goods to be sold in Bali before the move. Not least a car. It was brand new in January and it would be nice to bring it here, but I think making it compliant with the ADRs would make it impossible.

The winter cold here might be too hard for her, so trips to Bali mid year will still be needed. That’s ideal, eh? We’re looking for a place to stay for 2 – 3 month periods, maybe.

What a change! I never dreamed that at 71 I’d be entering this new phase. Talking to my friends at the school reunion and afterwards, we all say we just can’t believe we’re this age. It just doesn’t feel like we’re “old”.

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That raises the matter of a car again. We’ll need one each, so I think I’ll be keeping the Magna. It’s going beautifully, has just turned over 150,000kms and has no trade-in value. I’d be mad to sell it. So what to buy, if anything? Hmmm, a Lexus SC430 beckons.

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One thing my friend realised is the ready availability of all the special foods she needs or likes. Compared to Bali, she’s in food shopping heaven in the supermarkets here. And she can find clothes in her size, which she can’t do in Bali.

She says Hardy’s has closed down in Bali! Wow, that makes a dent. Carrefour is good, but not as convenient.

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My friend has never actually seen the Monty Python series. She has trouble getting the jokes with the strong Pommy accents, but gets some good laughs. We share many likes in TV and movies.

I’ve got the UHD version of Blue Planet II which is also in HDR (High Dynamic Range). To me it just looks like the whites have been driven into clipping and the blacks pulled down into a coal hole. I had to switch it off.

Nonetheless, it’s marvellous. The camera work is magical, and it brings new discoveries of animal and invertebrates behaviour. This is new science. I’ve only seen the first two episodes so far, but it left us gasping.

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Dolphins off the north coast of Bali.  © PJ Croft 2018

Balls!

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Stone the crows, cobber! Can’t a man play bocce without a nosey crow interfering?

My partner introduced me to the game of bocce (in Italian), or boules (in French), today. That’s the game like lawn bowls, except you play on a rough surface at a random distance from the small wooden cue ball, with four heavy steel balls each.

Anyway, we were playing away down at Jindalee beach today and hardly noticed a crow that was taking an interest in us. Suddenly the crow hopped down from the low wall and snaffled our cue ball, flying away with it. It flew up to a nearby fence and sat there, no doubt deciding whether this round thing was good to eat.

My friend went over to the fence to see if the crow had dropped the ball. It had, but it flew down, picked it up and flew away. To add injury to insult, it loosed a poop which landed smack on my friend’s right eyelid!

Cor blimey mate! We’ll have to find another small wooden ball now. Or find another use for eight heavy, shiny steel balls.

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We’ve also been to two quiz nights on Wednesdays at my local pub, just 100m walk away. We call our team “Back for more punishment” because we’ve come last in the two we’ve done so far.

This is a very British migrant area and the questions are too UK oriented, as well as being aimed at people who grew up in the 80s onwards. Typically, “What football team with colours white with red stripe made the European Cup final in 2008?” Or, as a science question, “Which 90s band had a chemist as a member?” or something like that. All the music questions were about heavy metal, or 80s Liverpool bands and so on. We enjoyed the nights and won a couple of beer glasses last week, but it’s lucky we didn’t have to pay to play. It’s also extremely hard to hear the MC and the snippets of music he plays off his iPhone into the mic.

Anyway, last week a group of non-playing guys between us and the MC were shouting their conversations to make themselves heard above the MC’s PA system. That meant we were battling to hear.

Eventually my bold friend went over to them and asked them to pipe down a bit. She came back unscathed, but they were directing dirty looks over at us.

I’d had to walk past them to take our sheets up for marking, and in doing so I’d had to squeeze past a young woman on their table.

So, after a few minutes of dirty looks from them, a tough looking guy in his thirties swayed over to me and said, “Why were you touching people just now, mate?”

“Huh?”, I said, “Touching?”

“Yair”, he said, “Why were you touching people?”‘

“I wasn’t touching anyone”, I said, “I was just trying to get past!”

I don’t think he was capable of getting another set of words out of his skull, because he turned away and swayed back to the group. They packed up and left soon after, to our great relief.

But how about a 30s age group goon wanting to pick a fight with me, an obviously elderly 71 year old? Revolting. My friend was not impressed.

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As you may have gathered, she’s still here after two extensions of her stay, coming to appreciate the climate, the location, the fantastic shopping, the food and the warmth. She went out for lunch with my neighbour, also a German speaker, today at Mindarie Keys marina. Both of them enjoyed it and had some great conversation in their native tongue. Excellent. My friend has another nine days here, but will be back later this year for sure. I’ll probably make a trip up there (Bali) mid year.

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That’s assuming I can get my blood sugar back in control. I’ve been having trouble recently and the leg ulceration is back. It’s not too bad, luckily.

More coincidii

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Ford Probe

Ooooh, busy, busy, busy. I have a guest at the moment and each day is packed with excitement, the good kind. It stops me sitting at this computer, which is a good thing. Sorry about the lack of blogging, though.

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Coincidences?

This morning we were sitting at a footpath cafe table and a car pulled in with a number plate CGG-123 or whatever the numbers were. CGG? I didn’t know what it was. I looked it up this afternoon and it’s City of Greater Geraldton.

But amazingly, parked two cars down was a Perth car with a number plate 1CGG-123. How about that for a coincidence?

Then, at the cafe, we got talking to the owner and, knowing my name is Peter, said he used to live in Brookton as a boy and grew up with a Brookton kid called Peter Croft. “Huh, that’s my name!” This Brookton kid was very intelligent, he said, and left to go to uni in Perth, then went to work up north where he made very high wages. But he drank and smoked himself to death, the cafe owner said. The similarity ended there. But two coincidences in one day! What are the chances of that? (Irony there.)

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Ever heard of the Lexus SC-430? Neither had I. It was a copy of the Mercedes SLK by the looks, and examples are now available second hand for $10k-30k. They are all 12-15 years old and with a lot of kilometres, but with Lexus reliability and build quality, would be a potential buy. Yum.

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The car at the top of this post is the Ford Probe and there’s a 1997 model for sale in Adelaide, of that colour, and automatic, with only 140,000km, for $3,500. Dang, I should buy that!!!

 

What am I?

 

Number 1: found under the seat of my car while I was looking for something else. I ask the question, but I don’t know the answer.

Answer: one of my readers owns a Magna too, and says this is from the end of one of the seat runners. I’ll have to find where it goes.

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Number 2:  I know what this is, but do you?

Answer: the same reader knew that this is the “hanger” for a set of four socks.

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Number 3: it would make a good T-shirt, eh? What is it?

Answer: he didn’t know this one. It’s Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, with all its swirling clouds, but greatly altered by some computer painting program.

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It’s become evident that although stopping Tramadol was not the complete answer to my insomnia, my sleep now, although difficult, is better than when I was taking Tramadol. Before, I was lying awake the whole night, totally relaxed yet unable to “drop off the cliff”.

Now that I no longer take it, I get to sleep but it can take 2-3 hours or more. But eventually, I do drift off. I wake frequently, though, it feels from a light sleep. That’s with no sedative at all. I must be sleeping because I can remember dreams, but it doesn’t feel very restful. What I’m saying is that although Tramadol was not the whole culprit, stopping it has improved my sleep.

I went back to Circadin, the melatonin boosting tablets, taken two hours before bed. It certainly makes me sleepy and for the first couple of nights I dropped off quite quickly. But then I had a few nights of very long delayed sleeping again, although I felt reasonable in the morning.

I’ve run out of Circadin temporarily, so I’ve gone back to one 10mg Phenergan the last couple of nights, and that’s worked well. I have to get up to attend to the watering two or three times a night and get back to sleep very quickly now.

I have one other nightly drug which might be a culprit, but I haven’t tried stopping it yet. I will do soon. The fact that I can sleep so easily even in relatively bright daylight indicates to me that it’s something I take only at night, that wears off by next morning.

Insomnia might seem trivial in the scheme of things, but it’s a very serious problem. Often I can’t risk driving because I’m as good as drunk with fatigue, and it’s known that lack of sleep affects heart disease and diabetes (blood sugar). My morning BSL used to be quite good, but it’s gone quite high. Hmm, there’s a clue: I started a new drug about six months ago, and that’s about when the BSL went up. Hmmm.

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I’m quite enjoying having Netflix available. The number of programs on tap is amazing. Most are rubbish, of course, but the gems such as The Crown and Victoria are worth sifting through the dross, and I’m well into a US politico-drama called Designated Survivor. At $13.95 per month, I think I’ll stay with it for a while.

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I got interested in building a model railway a few years ago but it got sidelined, mainly because I couldn’t find a place to put it. I want a fairly large layout, not necessarily complex but so I can run trains of realistic length on long runs of track. I’ve got a lot of track and a couple of locos with some carriages boxed up in the garage.

I’ve been thinking recently that I do have somewhere I could use to build a very long layout: the “drying court” on the west side of the house. Yes, it’s outside the house, but I could weatherproof it easily enough, I reckon. There’s a 2m high wall between me and the neighbour and I could install angle brackets to support 600mm wide baseboards. The maximum length would be 13.66m.

To be continued.