Sitrep 1, 2018

Once again I am lucky enough to have a doctor who gets the way I am.  She has doubled my meds so the chronic pain is well managed, and the depression is mostly managed. Mostly.

I have a swollen liver, failing kidneys that may need replacing in a couple of years, grating knees, a partly disable left arm, chronic pain from spondylitis or spondylosis or whatever of the spine , and fuck knows what’s wrong with my head.   My left ear rattles with loud noises, since I popped an eardrum last year.

On the other hand I have a job that is not too badly affected by my mobility problems, in a remote community where no one cares if I shift my hours about to suit myself. I have employers who accept the way I work.  I could consider myself lucky.  I should consider myself lucky.

I turned 66 last week and I just need to stick it out a while more so I have enough saved to retire and go home, except I have no home to go to.  All I can think about is a small boat and a cabin somewhere near the sea back in New Zealand.

Cathedral Cove, Coromandel



Product Placement

I wrote this way back in 2014

The links are still good. They take you to the latest versions of the software, which I still recommend.


Avid followers of my exciting, fun-filled adventurous life will recall that I fell off my motorcycle at an intersection in Nabua, Fiji, due to stopping too abruptly at the traffic lights right on a patch of newly spilled oil.  Almost certainly leaked from a taxi.

Well, I may not have admitted the ‘too abruptly’ bit before.

Such well-informed followers will also recall that I damaged  the SOPAC HP laptop at the time, and subsequently bought it from them, broken screen and all, when I left.  This was because my own personal absolutely awesome top of the line four thousand dollar Lenovo Think Pad  was feckin’ well stolen by a burglar.   The HP was a pretty good computer, and performed pretty well.  It was a bargain at $300FJ, even with a broken screen.

For a long time I used it with an external monitor, until the laptop itself died.  Then I shelved it, bought the cheapest replacement I could find, and used it to find a job.

Recently I took another look at the HP, and with help and advice from Andrew, identified the non-functionality as being due to a damaged hard drive.  Replaced the hard drive, put in a new screen and voila!  A good laptop again.  But I needed an operating system, and so had to buy a copy of Windows 7.  The laptop ran on Vista when new, but SOPAC had replaced it with XP as Vista was incompatible with the network server.

So it performed really well.  At the time. Now it does not.  I was blaming my ISP and the crappy G3 connection I have to use, but I chanced upon  a product called “TuneUp Utilities’ that came as a trial with the latest version of AVG antivirus.  I ran it, and it offered all sorts of advice about disabling certain windows functions, based on the processor, graphics capabilities, and number of unicorns that power the whotsitadooda.  Stuff like that.  One by one I accepted recommendations to turn off features such as wallpaper, font smoothing, prefetch hover times, unicorn bridling and other esoteric and (to me) meaningless activities.

The laptop performed really well, and the change in appearance, though noticeable, was not distressing.  so when the trial period ended, and the laptop slowed down again,  I bought the product to keep my edge.  When one does not know what one is doing it is good to put confidence in someone who does.  AVG does, and they are Dutch, so we know they are almost as thorough and methodical as the Germans.  Product recommended.  

Another discovery I made came as a free trial with my latest upgrade of JetAudio – my MP3/video/CD  player of choice (I gave up on Winamp long ago).  It is called DFX Audio Enhancer.    I have a REALLY good stereo in the lounge, but my laptop and a simple set of Logitech speakers are all I have in the bedroom where music plays pretty much 24/7 unles I feel like blasting the neighbourhood on the weekend, when I am the only one home at this end of the street.

DFX Audio Enhancer does what it claims and makes my little Logitech laptop speakers sound (almost) as good as my thousand-dollar Celestions.  And that was a thousand dollars in 1983! Nothing beats those speakers,  I  hate to think what the equivalent might be now.    But this modestly priced programme certainly improves the listening experience very noticeably on my $39.95 Logitech speakers!   Product recommended. 

Next, a product I have wanted for so very long.  It too, came as a free trial, with DFX Audio Enhancer.  It is called Max Recorder, and is simply an app which makes an MP3 recording of whatever you are listening to, and want to keep.  If you are playing music on YouTube, or streaming audio from any source, it makes a Hi Fi recording.  Everything I have tried before has made crappy copies, with ground hum or other faults.  You may guess I know very little about technological matters, and you may well sneer at my ignorance, but this is a simple product that does something useful.  I bought it. Product recommended. 

Lastly, I was looking for something to replace a specific component of my Nero pack, which I bought a few PCs ago.  That version of Nero is not compatible with the latest Windows operating systems, and because it had only this one  particular feature I liked, I was not going to fork out again for the latest Nero , when I had all the other functionality I needed in the much cheaper and easier to use Ashampoo Burning Studio.  Product recommended.

The bit I missed was a good wave editor.  I found it in a nice little program called Wave Editor! And it is free!     Product recommended. 



(Yes folks. It came back).

The Kimberley Hotel has two garden bars. One is out the back, beside the pool.  On the sunny cooler days of the dry season, when there is no need for air conditioning, it is a popular place for patrons to sit and drink.  There is an open passage past the restaurant dining room to the main bar.  There, the pool tables are populated by players, who bet money, cigarettes or beer on the outcome of the games.  In the front, there is a veranda with tables where bar meals are eaten and another garden bar where on Thursday nights the weekly trivia quiz is held.
This particular Saturday afternoon I was out on the veranda drinking my usual lemon lime and bitters.  I was only there on the off chance of a conversation with someone interesting.  My bike was parked outside and I was hoping to have a chat with any bikers passing through. I figured the best place to meet them would be the hotel.

The pub was noisy as usual with the buzz of conversation, the knock of billiard balls, and the occasional shout of victory, or a cry of “unlucky!” after a missed shot.  On a high stool at the bar behind the pool tables, an old aboriginal gentleman sat quietly alone, sipping a beer. He stepped out onto the veranda for a few minutes to smoke a thin, carefully rolled cigarette. Then he returned to his stool with his beer.   He was a handsome old man, with white hair and beard, bushy eyebrows and a weathered face from which his dark eyes twinkled with cheerful humour. He looked for all the world like a kindly old blackfeller Santa.

Outside, a tourist bus pulled up and disgorged its passengers. There seemed to be dozens of them, mostly retirees, by the look of it.  They all made a rush for the bar and ordered enough beers and glasses of wine to keep the bar staff busy for a full fifteen minutes.  Some also ordered meals and went to imbibe their drinks on the veranda as they waited for the food to arrive.  The noise of conversation doubled.  One of the tourists, an elderly Englishman with a northern accent, eyed the old Aboriginal gentleman for a while. He seemed to make up his mind about something.  Picking up his beer he sidled over and sat on the next stool.

“G’day” he said. “Are you local?”

“Yep.” Said the old man.

“And you’re Aboriginal, right?”

The old man held his arm out beside the Englishman’s. His black skin was answer enough, but “yep” he said laconically.

“Can I ask you a favour then?” said the Pom. We’ve just come up the Tanami from Alice Springs. I bought a boomerang down there. I did not get a chance to ask anyone to show me how to throw it.  And I’d like to get a few shots of a real indigenous person throwing a boomerang, to take home. Will you throw it for me?”

The old man looked dubious. “I don’t think so mate” he said.

“I’ll buy you a beer”.

“Alright then. Where’s the stick?”

The Englishman went out to the bus and returned in a few minutes with an enormous boomerang and a digital camera.

Boomerang 3.png

The old man took the boomerang and walked out past me to the edge of the veranda.  He raised it and threw it towards the bus.  Then he turned round and walked straight back to his stool by the bar.  He finished his beer in a few swallows, in anticipation of the promised fresh one.  The Englishman had started clicking with his camera as soon as the old chap stepped on to the veranda.  He walked out, still clicking, following the boomerang with his lens as it veered left away from the bus, lifting and spinning through the air. Over the bus it flew, out over the road beyond and back around high over the trees beside the pub.  He ran around behind it, trying to track it as it flew.  Chasing it, he disappeared from my sight around the corner of the building.  I expected the projectile would land in the pool. I waited to hear the splash, but I was surprised at what happened next.

The boomerang came flying down the passage from the back of the hotel and skittered past the old man’s feet, coming to a halt under the pool table, not more than two metres from where he sat. The pool players went silent looking at it, and at the old man sitting calmly on his stool.   A few seconds later the tourist followed it, gushing with enthusiasm.

“That was incredible! That passage is only a few feet wide!” He took a few shots of the boomerang where it had landed and picked it up. Then he went over to the bar and bought the promised beer. “Could you do that again?” he asked. “For another beer?  I didn’t get a shot of it flying around the back of the hotel”.

The old man shook his head. “I only do that once a year” he said. “Come back next year.”

The tourist looked disappointed, and for a moment seemed about to try to persuade the old fellow, but it was plain the old man was resolute, so with a sigh of resignation the tourist accepted the decision and patted the old man on the shoulder.  “Thanks again. That was really amazing. Wait till I tell them about this back in Kettlewell.”

He went over and sat down with his fellow travellers.  He showed them the pictures he had taken on the screen of his camera.  There was a murmur of appreciation as he told the story of what they had missed.  A few of them raised their drinks to the old man, but he was not looking their way.

After a minute or so the old gentleman rolled himself another cigarette, picked up his beer, and came out onto the veranda to light the rolly.

“That was a great throw” I said.

“Bugger that” he said. “I was taken away when I was eight. I was raised at the mission.  That is the first time I’ve ever thrown a bloody boomerang”.

Experiment Failed

It seems my trial of the Sway app on my photography page is not going to be a success.

Apart from reported viewing difficulties, I have found that I cannot modify it or add new images without uploading a whole new set and creating an entirely new page each time.

Given that Panoramio is closing, I shall look into other ways to display the photos I consider to be my best, or that are most meaningful to me.

Experiment 2

Experiment 1, My Photo Gallery, was a failure, so I moved it to a new page here or you can click the “photographs” link at top right.  I wanted to have a page that catalogued all my favourite photographs and I constructed it using the Sway App from Microsoft.  But the app seemed to play havoc with my layout and kept picking up bits of previous posts.  I am hoping it will work better as a stand-alone page.

I would appreciate comments as to how it appears to users who may be viewing it on platforms I am not acquainted with.  I am no expert when it comes blog page design and layout.  I just picked a simple theme and followed the instructions.

All Quiet on the Westinghouse Front

For a few days I was plagued by a periodic beep in the kitchen area.  It was driving me mad.


The voices were suggesting that if it did not stop I should burn the house down.

After three days of beeps every fifteen minutes or so, it was a tempting proposition.

At first I thought someone had planted one of those annoying intermittent beepatrons that are available from ThinkGeek for a modest sum.  The only suspect of such a heinous act assured me not.  He had lost his.  He sounded genuine but could I believe him?

After positioning myself at various locations around the room and patiently waiting for the next beep,  by triangulation I thought I had determined the source.  I was sure it was coming from inside the “smart” refrigerator.  Or from somewhere very near it.

I searched the refrigerator inside and out and at first found nothing untoward.

Then a deeper, more exhaustive probe at last revealed a clue.

A pack of Xmas mince pies had slipped out the back of the dairy compartment. The air circulation from the freezer to the refrigeration compartment was blocked.  The vent had iced up.  The poor machine was trying to tell me it could not breathe.   Pies removed.  One eaten. Vent cleared of ice.  A tense wait for the next beep.  Another mince pie eaten.  The tension was palpable now.  The minutes ticked by.   Yet another mince pie.  Then one more. The pies were all gone now. Only the foil dishes and the cardboard outer with its clear window gave evidence they ever existed.  The voices were hushed.  Expectant.

Suddenly, nothing happened.


I told the fridge that if it could beep, it could also give some indication of what the problem was on its display panel.  It remained silent.  It had nothing further to say.

The voices laughed and said they had known what the problem was all along.  They just wanted to see if I would actually burn down the house.

If I could figure out how to leave them inside, I would.



Cavern on the Moon

Scientists Detect Massive Caverns on Moon That Could House Colony

This is actually a very positive find, because if there is to be a colony on the moon, safety and air conservation will be far better controlled in an underground cavern rather than domes.


Image may contain: outdoor
I posted this on my Facebook page and on a science page I subscribe to.
So far no one has commented on the odd looking artifact in the bottom right of the hole in the moon.
It looks oddly familiar.
Hone your observation skills.