Rain

I’m living on the second largest sand island in the world. As far as I can tell, the only thing stopping it from washing back into the sea is a dense matrix of vegetation roots. I was thinking about this at 04:00 this morning, as I sat and watched the most spectacular show of lightning I’ve seen since I left the Kimberley.

I think that may have been the heaviest rainfall since I moved here. Now that I’m going nautical again I’ve started taking an interest in the weather, so I have subscribed to a few apps that keep me up to date with wind rain and tides. Watching the rain on radar, it was pleasing to see it was heading southwest to where it will no doubt be welcome in the Burning Lands.

The storm reminded me of the rain that fell while I was camped at Inskip Point, which resulted in the flood that damaged the caravan undercarriage. Also causing a huge sinkhole. This time, fortunately it hasn’t lasted as long and did not result in a flood.

I went through the archives to see exactly when that was, and could not find it. For months I did not write in my blog. Everything was posted on Facebook. Now lost.

What kind of journal keeper forgets to keep his journal – and worse – deletes all his notes?

How cool is modern technology? When I gained my navigation certificate, GPS tech was a closely guarded military secret. Now, not just a GPS, but my phone and my iPad can tell me where I am and can carry the tide tables and Marine Charts of all the world. When I had a set of charts for New Zealand alone they filled a cabinet. Now a full set of charts covering Australia and New Zealand occupy an imaginary space in a piece of plastic and rare earth metals smaller than my little fingernail.

A List.

In my opinion. Best SF Films of all Time
A list. Not in any way to be considered definitive. The list is in no particular order. It would be impossible to objectively rank these movies. Chosen because they came immediately to mind and because aside from being well directed and performed they were well written and had great special effects for their time. Also they contributed to human philosophy and weren’t just cowboys and first nations in space. So you won’t see Star Wars here. Alien just squeaked in. I tried to choose ten, but settled for fifteen. Correction , eighteen
Ok, twenty one two. There are more, no doubt, that should be on this list. The not-so-subtle racism of Planet of the Apes probably should keep it off. I’m open to debate. Either way, I just mentioned it.

The List

  • Metropolis – the 1927 original
  • Blade Runner
  • Blade Runner 2049
  • Gattaca
  • Predestination
  • 2001 A Space Odyssey
  • Twelve Monkeys
  • Moon
  • A Clockwork Orange
  • Ghost in the Shell (original animation)
  • Brazil
  • Solaris (1976 version)
  • Back to the Future – all three
  • Alien – although it is really a gothic horror set in space
  • Aliens – maybe… after that the franchise went awry.
  • Gravity. Some far-fetched plot devices but otherwise almost perfect. Stunning soundtrack.
  • Forbidden Planet (1956)
  • The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
  • A Boy and His Dog

Oh, and one more. Special mention:

I Married a Monster from Outer Space (1958) – Because it is the first SF film I ever saw. I was probably ten years old. It stirred my imagination. When I saw it again years later, I realised it was remarkably underrated as a B Movie. In 2001 I noticed a distinct similarity to its plot in The Astronaut’s Wife, which, despite having Charlize Theron, does not make my list.

Good Customer Relations

This exchange shows how good customer relations works. The company was prepared to replace an expensive unit because of the failure of a small component. My problem with this was that the replacement part was likely to fail in the exact same manner if I continued to use the bike in the same way. I thought I had a better solution. It turned out well, and it also turns out, I suppose, that I am a good customer to have relations with.

Anyway. Apart from replacing the saddle with a more comfortable one to suit my fat arse, and this little issue below, the bike has been excellent, and the service from the company exemplary.

I love my bike, so Leitner deserve a plug on my blog. I hope both my readers buy one.

Read the emails from the bottom up.

Hi Alan,

Thanks for your message.

I’m not sure if or when we will make Leitner stubby holders, but if we do, there will be one with your name on it!

Thanks again and we hope that this resolution holds up and please let us know if you have any issues.

We wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Leitner team!

Feel free to message us or call us on 1300 856 725 if you have any further questions.
Regards,
Alex
Leitner eBikes


On Sat, Dec 14, 2019 at 8:50 AM Alan Freshwater <> wrote:

Once I pulled the old rubber out, I could see it was more to protect me from being pinched by the spring than to protect the spring itself. Incidentally, the rubber was very brittle. It tore very easily and clearly does not like the Queensland sunshine. My fix seems to work fine. I cut down a neoprene wetsuit material stubbie holder and glued and taped it into a cylinder just tight enough to cover the piston. I clamped it one end only with a strong cable tie then ran a bit more Gorilla Tape around it. I’ve been out for a few rides, and hit some speed bumps at a good lick. It is all holding together. I’m satisfied.

So, if you ever produce a Leitner stubby holder, you owe me one!

Cheers and Merry Christmas!

Alan

On Fri, 13 Dec 2019 at 13:47, Leitner Electric Bikes <sales@leitner.com.au> wrote:

Dear Alan,

Thanks for your message.

We look forward to your modification. Hopefully, it will work and will be great. Thank you and we look forward to hearing from you.

Have a lovely weekend ahead Alan!

Feel free to message us or call us on 1300 856 725 if you have any further questions.
Regards,
Kitty
Leitner eBikes


On Fri, Dec 13, 2019 at 2:36 PM Alan Freshwater

> wrote:

Cheers Kitty. I will try out my clever idea and let you know how it went. I’ll even send a photo if it turns out as brilliantly as I hope.


Have a nice one.

On Fri, 13 Dec 2019 at 08:13, Leitner Electric Bikes <sales@leitner.com.au> wrote:

Dear Alan,

Thanks for your message.


From our knowledge, the rubber is used to protect the inner springs and there is not structural function of the rubber cover. If you have an idea of replacing this cover with another more durable material and is comfortable doing so, let us know how you go. If you have any questions or trouble, feel free to let us know. We are happy to assist until this is resolved.


Thank you for your patience and effort in working through this with us. We look forward to hearing from you.


Feel free to message us or call us on 1300 856 725 if you have any further questions.
Regards,
Kitty
Leitner eBikes


On Thu, Dec 12, 2019 at 4:43 PM Alan Freshwater <> wrote:

Thanks again Alex. I appreciate your consideration. Before we go to the inconvenience and cost of replacement of the whole fitting I’d like to ask again how essential is this rubber boot to the continued operation of the bike? I’ve already thought of a repair I could easily undertake using neoprene material as used in wet suits. If the design is just to keep out dust and water with a flexible cover, I’m betting I can make a repair as good as the original with a more durable material. Which I happen to have on hand. My only concern is whether this part as fitted has some other important purpose that may affect the safety or functionality of the bike. If it is just a flexible dust cover I can sort it easily.


CheeRs


Alan

On Thu, 12 Dec 2019 at 2:24 pm, Leitner Electric Bikes <sales@leitner.com.au> wrote:

Hi Alan,


Thanks for your reply and for the additional information. We are glad to hear that you are getting plenty of use out the bike!


This is very strange and is definitely the first we have heard of this happening. We are happy to cover this under warranty, but please note this would be a once-off coverage as it appears to likely be a result of prolonged exposure to the sun/heat and not necessarily manufacturing fault. While we understand that you have always placed it under the shade where possible, we would recommend that you continue to do this. Also, another option could be a bike cover or a tarp to place over the bike if it will be exposed to high levels of heat.


So that we can raise a warranty claim, could you please provide us with some photos showing the serial number of the bike (located above the front forks engraved around the frame). You may need to take two photos to cover the whole number.


In addition, could you please provide your preferred shipping address to have the replacement sent out to.


Thanks again and we look forward to hearing from you.


Feel free to message us or call us on 1300 856 725 if you have any further questions.
Regards,
Alex
Leitner eBikes


On Wed, Dec 11, 2019 at 6:46 PM Alan Freshwater <> wrote:

Hi Alex


I’ve been riding my bike to the pool every day for 5 or 6 days a week and locking it on the bike rack with the side that has perished towards the sun. That’s the only time it is exposed for any length of time except when I’m riding. When I go shopping I find shade. I usually swim for 90 minutes at a time. That and the cycling has helped me lose a heap of weight.
But I digress. I noticed the deterioration last week but I forgot to follow up with you until this morning, I assume that daily exposure is the cause.
Cheers
Alan

On Wed, 11 Dec 2019 at 12:19, Leitner Electric Bikes <sales@leitner.com.au> wrote:

Hi Alan,


Thanks for your message.


Usually with this part, we would just replace the entire rear suspension as we do not typically stock the individual rubber part.


So we can have a bit of a further look into this, do you mind telling us how this happened?


Did it occur while riding? or did you just notice that it had started to peel after a while?


Thanks again and we look forward to hearing from you.


Feel free to message us or call us on 1300 856 725 if you have any further questions.
Regards,
Alex
Leitner eBikes

https://www.leitner.com.au/

https://www.productreview.com.au/b/leitner

https://www.facebook.com/LeitnerDirect



On Wed, Dec 11, 2019 at 11:54 AM Alan Freshwater <> wrote:

As you can see from the attached photo the rubber cover on the suspension shock absorber is deteriorating badly. How important is it for protecting the bike and can I replace it myself? Are you able to supply a new one?
Best regards


Alan



Stuff

This morning I awoke at three, with the slightest of red wine hangovers. Damn. That wine was almost $7.50 a bottle. I thought it was worth investing that much to get the good stuff. The remaining half bottle can go into cooking. I drank a half litre of mineral water to rehydrate.

The night was warm. I was hot and sticky. Since I had to wander down to the ablution block anyway, I took a towel with me and enjoyed a cold shower. I didn’t want to wear my sweaty nightclothes after getting clean, so I walked back to the camp with my towel wrapped around my waist. This gave me some pride, because not too long ago, that towel would not reach around my waist, let alone overlap enough to be worn.

Back in the cabin, I sorted through the pile of clean laundry, which I still had not folded and put away, for something to wear. I can see my home, and my life, is a shambles. I decided today would be a day for the Doing of Things and the beginning of a New Attitude.

Today, Things must be Done. The Doing of Things must be undertaken with alacrity and determination. It is time to tidy up the physical aspects of my life and put new rules into effect.

  • If it does not have a suitable permanent place, it must go.
  • It must be stored away when not being used
  • If it does not serve a useful or essential function, or bring me joy, it must go.
  • If it makes me sad, it must go.
  • If it is not being used, and is not a necessary contingency item such as a tool or tow rope, it must go.
  • if it might come in handy some day, but I can’t specify under which reasonably likely circumstances, it must go
  • Before anything new comes in, something must go
  • I live alone. If it is a duplicate, and surplus to requirements, it must go. Exception: two spare sets of cutlery, crockery, glasses. In case any of my few remaining friends turn up.

Rubbish shall go in the bin. Items that may be of use to someone shall go to either the Dogs charity shop, or the Hospice charity shop. I reject the Sallies because of their medieval attitude towards gays, and the Vinnies because they are pawns of the greatest criminal organisation in the world, that has the resources and power to end world hunger, poverty and overpopulation in a heartbeat. But won’t.

Having made that decision, I went back to bed and slept until ten. After coffee and brunch, I shall get started.

De Morte

Now that I’ve had a nap, and a glass of wine with my dinner, my reflections on today have given me some insights. It was indeed embarrassing; both for the GP with an unnecessarily concerned patient, and for the patient.

I too quickly leapt to a conclusion. When I received the previous call back, I made the appointment by phone, and asked for a hint of what the doctor wanted to discuss. Of course the receptionist was not falling for that one. This time, I didn’t ring, but just booked via the booking app. If I had rung, no doubt some confusion and distress might have been avoided. Or perhaps not.

No harm, no foul. A lesson learned.

My own (over)reaction ranged from considering the simple possibility that I was just going to lose a bit more of my arm, to the increasingly more sinister implications of chemo, radiation, drastic surgery and a short and painful prognosis. I missed the one I should have considered first; it’s probably nothing serious.

I also thought about where I was right now. From a medical standpoint, possibly the best possible place in the world. I have free medical treatment in a country well equipped and experienced with skin cancer.

I am between 2,500 and 3,600 km away from my closest friends and relatives in any direction. I’m paying the price of having been too far for too long from my immediate and extended family. I explored some time ago the possibility of returning to NZ. My visit only confirmed you can’t go back. Even returning would have to be a going forward. I couldn’t see the way.

My local support group consists of two very kind new acquaintances. I have one person with whom I have regular long distance telephone conversations, a friend who has experience with basal cell carcinoma. It used to be we only had dogs, emus and cooking as common interests. I’d have preferred to stick to that.

Today was, therefore, a reminder of what it is to be alone and ageing. As if I needed one.

In vino veritas

Spot the Difference

I’m pleased I swam yesterday and managed another, early swim this morning. It will be Thursday before I can swim again, provided the wounds are not infected when I remove the dressings.

I was at the pool by seven this morning, and in the water by seven fifteen. I swam until nine, then went to shower. The lid of my shampoo bottle had broken. The shampoo had disgorged itself into my toilet bag. So I used it up as body wash. I should have no problems with dandruff anywhere, for a while.

As I washed I spotted on my right forearm what I thought must be a new mole. I was sure it wasn’t there a while ago. Since finding the lesion on my left arm, I am now more aware of my freckles and moles. Especially since the one I was having excised today had not been there only weeks before.

When I got to Woodford I drew the mole to Mehdi’s attention. He peered at it through his magic optical device, and said “I think you are right”.

“So. That was well spotted” said I with a straight face. Mehdi agreed. Also with a straight face.

That was how I came to have two excisions. One on each arm. Now we wait for the biopsy report.

Two huge chunks were cut out. It is necessary to get all the tissue for three millimeters around the spot, and to cut the length three times the width, so that when it heals, the scar doesn’t pucker up. Five stitches each. Ten total. My new personal best.

I’m glad it wasn’t on my tat.

Not there before.

Mehdi told me he had seen my knee x-rays. My condition is severe and he is referring me to a specialist. The journey has begun.

Having had only an eight hundred kJ breakfast, I was famished by the time I was driving home. I managed to drive past Beefy’s without giving in to temptation, but then the thought of a nice piece of crumbed barramundi popped into my head. I gave in to temptation and set my course.

Saviges did not have barramundi available so I ordered a piece of crumbed cod. And a serve of chips. What the hell.

The cod was delicious. A large fillet. Perfectly cooked.

Eric the bin chicken helped me out by eating some of the coating. He didn’t get much of the fish at first, though I shared some chips. Once he understood I wasn’t going to grab him and wring his neck, or spray him with the diluted vinegar spray put out on the tables by the proprietors for just such occasions, he became quite friendly, and cheerfully ate from my hand.

I was talking to him all the time, just making conversation, asking about his family and whether he preferred battered or crumbed fish, and whether he was in fact female.

Some of the patrons were giving me the disapproving looks of those who do not believe wildlife, especially ibis, should be fed human food. Some gave me the look reserved for people of alternate ability that they are embarrassed by. Others were smiling. Whether at me or the bird I know not and care not. They were smiling. With their eyes. My kind of people.

I have certainly changed. There was more fish than I needed and in the end my ibis friend got a bit. There was still a heap of chips left. He looked enquiringly at them. “I’ve had enough” I said. He looked hopeful. “and so have you”. He said he hadn’t. I told him I was taking the rest home home. He gave a resigned shrug and wandered off.

At home I divided the remaining chips into three portions, which I put in cold storage to have with other meals. Not bad for four dollars fifty worth of chips.

Noddy Has A Very Busy Day and Makes a Decision.

Senior moment today. Fully aware that I had an appointment with the GP in Woodford at 11:15 I hurried off for my morning swim at 07:30. I was in the water well before 8 and swimming to the accompaniment of Mozart, Beethoven, Dire Straits, Ultravox, Pink Floyd, Clannad, Steeleye Span et al.

Ninety minutes passed quickly and just as I planned, I emerged from the pool at 09:30 for a shower before driving the 50 minute commute to Woodford. I like to always allow a little extra time. It is a habit you learn in the outback, where a four hour drive can sometimes end up taking a couple of days.

Except without even thinking about it, I had ridden the bike to the pool. Now I had to ride back to base camp to get the cruiser.

Today I found out how the bike performs on full assist. Really well.

I arrived in Woodford, without breaking the law, in plenty of time for my appointment, which was all about the latest blood and pee test results which are encouraging. I took the opportunity to raise the subject of my knees, now that the weight was coming down. Mehdi prodded and pushed, and wrote a referral for x-rays.

Three weeks ago he had checked me all over for melanomas. All clear. Today as I was about to leave, he pounced on a new spot on my forearm and examined it with his super magnifier. Not good. Worried frown. He took a photo with an attachment on his iPhone and showed me what it was about the spot that concerned him. He told me to make an appointment ASAP to have it excised. I go back on Monday.

A couple of hours later I was being x-rayed by a cheerful and chatty young radiographer at Caboolture Hospital. After a few poses and buzzing sounds, she pronounced that the images had come out perfectly,

Then, looking at the images, she said sympathetically, “I bet they hurt”.

I told her they do. Then added “You know, I used to go out with a radiographer”.

“Did you really?” She said.

“Yes, but she saw right through me from the start”.

“How long have you been sitting on that one?” She said, laughing.

“I composed it just then, for you”.

Next stop the Department of Transport and Main Roads Customer Service Centre Caboolture. I’ve been here in Queensland over a year now, and several times at road checks when queried about my WA drivers licence and how long have I been in Queensland, I’ve told the police I am passing through, hanging around only for medical reasons. I have already stayed over the legal time for using an out of state licence. The time has come to acknowledge I am not up to the Grey Nomad life in my current state. I won’t be moving on soon. Maybe I shall in the future, but for now, I’m probably in the best place I can be. Where I am. A very Zen thought.

The nice lady at the Customer Service Centre gave me a form for my doctor to sign, and checked the forms of ID I carry. She pronounced them satisfactory. All can be sorted once I return with the signed form.

So out of practical necessity I’ve made a decision. I’m staying here. I shall join a bowls club or some such for a social life, cheap meals and meat pack raffles, and see about a dinghy to fish from.