I have a parcel from overseas. It is a distributed newsletter (called an apa), to which I contributed some 30 or so copies. Mailing these pages to the USA cost A$55.45. The cost of a monthly internet connection ranges from $20 up, with $55 being a fairly reasonable package. No wonder print and postage is dying. Delivery cost and time is terrible.
Taxi to Townsville Airport mid morning. Jean sought and found food at the Townsville airport lounge. Virgin Blue from Townsville to Sydney on DJ1520 scheduled from 12:55 PM to 3:30 PM. The 737-300 had really uncomfortable seats, with one at least seeming to have a collapsed base. We landed late, about the time our next flight was boarding. Sydney to Adelaide on Virgin Blue DJ426 scheduled from 4:05 PM to 5:50 PM. This was a 737-400 which had somewhat better seats. We revived ourselves with a red wine each.
We took a taxi from the airport to Adelaide. At least the airport is relatively close to the city. Stay at Stamford Plaza Hotel on North Terrace, Adelaide. This was fancy and comfortable, which means they do not have free internet nor a laundry. We collected some milk and juice for breakfast. We collapsed soon after arriving at 7 p.m. being tired from the flight. Not sure why sitting in a plane makes you tired.
We had the Adelaide morning free, but had relatively little to do after breakfast. No shopping, for example, because we had baggage constraints on the bus.
Around eleven we went down to the Stamford hotel lobby to meet Mandy, our trip organiser from Outback Spirit. About half the other travellers were gathering there, with the rest being collected by the bus at the Adelaide airport by driver Peter.
We had a full coach of 26 tourists for this trip. The introductions and instructions as we left before midday seemed longer and somewhat more formal than on our previous Outback Spirit trip. We were in seat row 6, which was at the back of the bus. The pairs of seats are irregularly arranged through the bus, and you take the next seat each day, so everyone gets a turn on left and right, front and back, good and bad seats. It seems a pretty fair arrangement.
The Outback Spirit bus travelled north along the Princes Highway towards Port Augusta. There was a lot of dry creek beds and salt evaporation pans as we left Adelaide. There were also a lot of hothouses for vegetables. The good market garden land now seems too valuable for residents to permit food growing. This short sighted approach to land use will bite lots of city economies when peak oil really hits.
There were little protest structures built by locals near the Integrated Waste Facility, which seems the new name for a garbage dump. Usual not in my backyard issues. Maybe what the world needs is less wasteful packaging?
We had a lunch stop at the little town of Two Wells, where there was an historic trail we could wander along while awaiting lunch to be set out. There is always more food than I can manage, so I was in no rush to grab a sandwich. One sculptured scene was an aboriginal hunt, with two characters, a dingo, and a distant kangaroo as the prey.
The catch on my shoulder bag broke, and I lost my badge as well. Luckily I eventually found the missing badge on the bus. Jean found and gave me a heavy duty paperclip, after I asked if she had any. I was able to improvise repairs for the trip using that. I am keeping hold of the paperclip, just in case the finally repaired catch breaks yet again.
There were protest structures around the rubbish dump, which now seems to be called an Integrated Waste Facility. I imagine it was for city waste, not local waste. Somewhat later we passed Port Wakefield, used for exports.
Another stop was Snowtown, 145 km from Adelaide, infamous for the bodies in barrels discovery in a bank vault. As we approached, we could see at least 24 large wind turbines on the skyline in one wind far, with another large section of wind turbines nearby. The first stage of this wind farm was October 2008. There was a sample turbine blade near the main street and railway line. My photos of Jean next to it help show the massive scale of wind turbines.
Overnight at Best Western Standpipe Golf Motor Inn in Port Augusta, after arriving around five. This had a buffet dinner, which we complemented with a Crabtree 2006 Picnic Hill shiraz. The most entertaining feature was a typical country guy from Elders who talked with a few of us after dinner.
Breakfast at the Standpipe Motel, with a typical hearty country meal of cereal, bacon and eggs. The bags had to be at the bus at breakfast time, 6:30 a.m. I was not impressed by the temperature, although it never got as cold as I feared. Depart Port Augusta at 7:15 a.m. with the sky light but dirty looking. We travelled for a while alongside the Pitchy Witchy railroad. We were now in seat 7, other side of the bus, and towards the middle.
Travel north through green countryside with a number of fat looking sheep towards Hawker. We had a brief comfort stop and photo break at the old Ghan railway at Quorn.
We stopped for photographs of the long abandoned stone ruins of the Kanyaka homestead around nine. Morning tea was at Hawker around 9:30 a.m. You can never complain about the amount of food on these trips.
We collected lunches at the Prairie Hotel at Parachilna, where there was no phone signal. We had lunch at a very nice spot near the Aroona Dam that helps supply Leigh Creek with water. This had some seating, great views from the higher of the two parking areas, some shelter, and was just basically a lovely country spot for a picnic lunch.
Being close to Leigh Creek, there was even a weak Telstra phone signal in some spots around Aroona Dam. Enough to update our digital lives at least, before we continued our drive through Leigh Creek and past the massive Leigh Creek coal fields. You could see the overburden piled up all over the landscape. The town of Leigh Creek is basically there to service the coal fields.
We went past the Farina ruins, and reached Marree before three. Alas, our donga behind the hotel was occupied by someone else who the hotel owners had expected to be gone. We went seeking help with this problem. The hotel owner arrived. There were words said in heat, and some considerable expressiveness, to the occupant of the room. We soon had a key to a different donga behind the hotel, even closer to the back door. It worked fine, but we were not wasting time unpacking.
Next we had a ground tour of Lake Eyre National Park, up the Oodnadatta Track. First stop along the track was at the strange aircraft and hoverbus sculptures that are there. I never stop being fascinated by the effort the property owner went to with these.
The intent was to go to the shore of Lake Eyre at Madigan Gulf, where Donald Campbell set the world land speed record in July 1964. However access in the waterlogged conditions was not ideal, so instead we went to the viewing area nearest to Lake Eyre South. We took the lengthy walk down from the lookout to the water. Takes a fair while to hike through the salt bound sand and actually reach the water. As expected, the water salt content was extreme. I could still taste it hours later after licking some from my finger. We had to rush a bit to get back to the bus, since between the long drive and long walk, most of the afternoon was gone.
We stopped at the dingo proof fence (also known as the dog fence) on the way back to Marree. Took a number of photographs despite it approaching dusk.
We returned to Marree for a buffet dinner. The interesting bit was the scheduling of each room and each table for their turn, under the watchful eye of the owner. As usual there was more food than I would be able to eat. I had bought us a bottle of wine at the bar prior to the meal. We had an overnight at the Great Northern Hotel in the en-suite donga cabins. They were pretty comfortable, although due to the cold, we ran the air conditioner on heat. The power at places like Marree comes from local generators, not a mains electricity supply.
We had an early breakfast, at 6 a.m., but I restricted myself to corn flakes, since we were taking a flight. I had been awake since about 2 a.m. as I did not sleep well.
We were in the bus at 6:45 a.m. to go to Marree aerodrome for a 7:15 flight piloted by Andrew in a high wing fourteen seat Cessna Super Caravan. This Cessna had the narrowest aisle I had ever seen in an aircraft. It was about as wide as a single shoe. On the other hand, the seats (once you reached them) were comfortable. I gather Outback Spirit bought the plane, and contract the flight arrangements.
The flight path was over Lake Eyre South and Lake Eyre North, the deepest part at Belt Bay and the Warburton Groove. Then Warburton River to Kalamurina Station, where we landed on the dirt air strip around 8:45 a.m.
We had a station tour at the former Kalamurina Station. This is now the 667,000 hectare (1.7 million acres, nearly 7000 square kilometre) desert wilderness Kalamurina Wildlife Sanctuary owned and managed by Australian Wildlife Conservancy since December 2007. This is the largest non-government highly protected area. It stretches from northern shores of Lake Eyre to the southern edge of the Simpson Desert. In fact, it adjoins three deserts, the Simpson, the Tirari Desert to the south east of Lake Eyre, and Sturt Stony Desert to the east. It forms a massive missing link between three government national parks and conservation areas. We landed near part of the Warburton River close to the old homestead to the east of the property.
Outback Spirit have been helping Australian Wildlife Conservancy, which probably explains their access to something that is not a tourist destination. I was very pleased to see this, as Australian Wildlife Conservancy is an outfit that we think is doing a great job.
The very enthusiastic Tess greeted us at the airstrip, and was our bus driver and nature guide. It was a relatively short distance to a 600 metre walking track. Tess explained a heap of plants, burrows, and animal tracks the whole way along to the creek. The Conservancy try to measure what is happening to life on their property. Then they try to improve the chances of native wilderness. It is a nearly impossible job, with very limited resources.
By the creek we were able to see an eagle nest up a tree, with a chick. The parent was fishing in the water.
We left at 10:30 a.m. Fly back to the east of Lake Eyre to see the Cooper Creek. After a great sightseeing flight, we landed again at Marree airstrip around 11:40 a.m.
Lunch at the Great Northern Hotel.
Outback Spirit put on a bus tour of Marree. Visit Lake Eyre Yacht Club. Marree Outdoor Museum. We skipped this in favour of rest. We had already visited all these attractions of the town. Local documentary was an add on, by one of the staff at the hotel.
Dinner buffet at Great Northern Hotel around 6:30 p.m. We got to bed early.
We awoke early, but it was far too cold to get up. We used the fan heater from about five a.m. to get the temperature up to something in which we could function. We had to get the bags to the bus at 6:30 a.m. I asked our bus driver Peter about a phone stop at Leigh Creek.
Breakfast at Great Northern Hotel. I just had cornflakes, with that Devondale UHT milk that is the closest you can get to fresh milk. Jean told me that bacon and eggs came out at 6:50 a.m. but I had left the breakfast area long before then.
We stopped at the stone ruins of the former railhead settlement of Farina (Latin for bread) not long after eight. We took about 25 minutes for photographs of the scenic ruins. It was still cold thanks to the breeze, and there was an overcast, but conditions were acceptable for photographs.
We stopped at Lyndhurst to refuel the bus. There is not a lot of stuff at Lyndhurst. Even the mobile phone connection was fraught, at this distance from Leigh Creek. We headed for Leigh Creek at 9:20 a.m.
We stopped at the viewing point for the Leigh Creek coal field. This overlooks some of the open cut brown coal mine. There was an old wall mining digger with over thirty years of service that you could inspect. I was interested in walking and climbing through it taking photographs.
We collected our email and internet connections as we passed Leigh Creek, since Telstra have good connections there.
Jean was grumping and sulking because she had only one cup of tea, and with inferior milk at that. Around her, people in the bus were laughing and chattering, although it was before 10 a.m.
We headed south via Beltana Station, a working sheep and cattle property from which Ernest Giles departed for WA in 1875. Breeding stud and camel depot. We took the 17 km rough northern entry road to the tourist site. I seemed to mostly be seeing sheep and feral goats as we drove.
The tourist site was interesting, with heaps of people awaiting us as we arrived. I guess the kids and the dogs like watching tourists. Built in an old sheering shed. We had a morning tea here prior to a bit of a walk around the old restored station buildings. Pigs, and a poddy calf. The most interesting animal was a pet alpaca called Chocolate that Laura had. We left around midday, this time by the much shorter and better southern trail.
Further south to the tiny hamlet of Parachilna for a gourmet lunch at Prairie Hotel. There was a roaring tourist trade at the Prairie Hotel. The hotel had a cold cuts salad set out at our reserved tables. The salad featured the Australian coat of arms, emu and kangaroo. There was also strongly spiced camel meat, and goat cheese. I did not spot any crocodile meat. I really wish I had managed a photograph of the platters set out for us.
We set off on a rough road through the Flinders Ranges National Park for the Brachina and Bunyeroo Gorges. Several stops to view rocks. We sought to find yellow footed rock wallabies, which blend so well into the rocky background that it is hard to photograph them.
We stopped for afternoon tea. As we continued we saw more red river gums, and cyprus pines.
Razorback Lookout made an interesting test for the bus.
The last stop was to check out the cazneaux trees. Even there by a tourist path there was a kangaroo.
We arrived at Wilpena Pound Resort, where we were to stay overnight. It was more elaborate than I expected, so I dashed off to run a load of laundry through their machines. Had to wait for a dryer, and then run it twice. In between alarms, I managed a drink in the bar, as well as unpacking and laundry. Nice dinner, although I had to dash out to the laundry part way through. Luckily after the soup or salad, there was a buffet, which provided a break for me to grab clothes from the laundry. Jean managed her favourite dessert.
Wilpena Pound wilderness accommodation was updated in 2009. I organised to get a flight over Wilpena Pound in the morning.
I was up at 6:20. There was a power failure. The resort gets most of its power from diesel generators, and about 40% from a large array or solar panels (it was one of the first private large solar array power supplies). Luckily it was still light enough to get ready.
Took the tourist bus to the air strip at 7:15. There were five of us passengers in the first flight, in a Cessna 205. The others were Roger and Chris, Ken and Pat.
We had great views, on one of the nicest scenic flights I have taken. Wilpena Pound was shrouded with mist, which made it more interesting in some ways. Good headphones for passengers, and an informative commentary. The flight path gave us a good look all around the area. All too soon we landed to let the next load of sightseers board.
We were back at the resort by 8:20 a.m. so I was able to get a hot breakfast then, followed by raisin toast.
We were all onboard the Outback Spirit bus by 10 a.m. for our departure.
A lookout. A comfort stop at Hawker. Peterborough. Lunch at Orroroo just after midday, consisting of pies and sausage rolls from a local bakery. I was amused to note Outback Spirit had its own brand tomato sauce on hand. The town looked prosperous. We left at 1:30 p.m.
Burra is an old mining town. We stopped at a lookout giving views of both the copper mine and the town around 2:45 p.m. Went past the goal. Many of the ladies were determined to shop at a fancy fashion shop in town, so we had a good long break while they did their shopping. Did not leave until around 3:50 p.m.
Adelaide around 5:30 p.m. Stay at Stamford Plaza Hotel on North Terrace, Adelaide. We were a little late, but close enough. I forget what we did for dinner. Probably had snacks, after all the food from Outback Spirit.
Stay at Stamford Plaza Hotel on North Terrace, Adelaide for the day. This was mostly to relax and look around. I did a fair bit of walking round the town. Rundle Mall is a comfortable walk. I think Jean got herself some brie there.
We went to the Haighs chocolate shop at midday, and bought entirely too much chocolate, didn't we? Made it worse by restocking some Darrell Lea choc balls as well, just because the company stores seem cheaper than franchise stockists in country areas.
The Twin City camera store had a Moby Gorilla Mobile tripod holder for an iPhone. The salesman had never seen one actually put onto an iPhone 4. I want that for time lapse photography, although it is a little expensive.
It seems that medical and consumer groups are also concerned about the half billion dollar personally controlled e-health record (PCEHR) system. I think it feels too close to the misnamed Australia Card. Others fear it may cost a lot and do very little. The Australian Medical Association say it may be so flawed due to opt-in restrictions that doctors would not use it. Finally, like several other Labor government schemes, it seems there is no comprehensive cost benefit analysis available. Another pink batts scheme?
An early departure from the hotel, and a taxi to the slightly distant interstate railway station for the Great Southern Railway train from Adelaide to Melbourne from 7:40 a.m. to 6:50 p.m. We were on the Great Southern Rail Overlander Red Premium carriages. These had a one plus two seat arrangement, with considerable space between seats. You could pivot the seats to face each other, if you wished.
The food service was fine. The hostesses took orders and brought you your breakfast and lunch. You could walk to the meal car if you wished. There was also a morning and afternoon trolley service for snacks. Our phones automatically made the half hour time zone change a fair while after we crossed the border at Bordertown.
Stations were announced, along with historical or tourism notes for the towns involved. We reached Melbourne around 6:40 p.m. Apart from finding my feet a little chilled, I thought the train trip was pretty comfortable.
We were staying at the Mercure Welcome Hotel at 265 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne. This was almost close enough to the railway station to walk, but with our bags, we wanted a little more ease. Besides, it was a cold evening. So we caught a taxi.
I see local opposition to nuclear power plants in Japan has delayed restart of four nuclear reactors out of service for routine maintenance. Several more reactors have shut for routine maintenance. This leaves Japan with just 7,580 megawatts, or 36% of its normal nuclear capacity. A year ago it was 62%. Nuclear power plants normally provide around 30% of Japanese electricity.
If political opposition shuts all 54 Japanese nuclear power plants, it will cost around 2.4 trillion Yen (US$30B) to the end of the March financial year, or around 3 trillion Yen in a full year. Japanese nuclear power plants run a conservative 13 months between inspections, and are typically out of action for four to five months. If they are not permitted to restart, it would not take that long for all of them to be out of action.
The Mercure Welcome hotel breakfast was good, but the place was impossibly crowded and busy. I avoided it thereafter. Went to Woolworths for food for our stay. Checked cotton pants in BigW. Walked to Melbourne Central, and noticed Borders bookshop still open, but sadly depleted.
Walked Bourke Street Mall, but shops like Myers and David Jones do nothing for me. Walked Swanston Street via as many malls as I could find. Liked the Pen Shops. However I would not like to be a retailer. Things have been easy for several years, but now it is back to the reduced business levels of a decade ago. I think good quality will still demand a premium, and commodity shops will do it real tough. For myself, I am tired of crap that is faked to look good, but is in fact terrible quality. So now I refuse to buy.
Angus and Robertson's range of books sucked. I did not find any books I wanted in Of Science and Sorcery. Did get some wine for our stay. High competition from lots of vinyards ensures good Australian wines are available at relatively low cost.
I see that world greenhouse gas emissions are increasing pretty much in line with gross domestic product (as you would expect). China managed a 10.4% increase in carbon dioxide emissions in 2010, to 8.33 billion tonnes, for an 11.2% increase in energy consumption, as it continued to pull its people (and consumers everywhere) out of poverty. China is now consuming 48.2% of all coal worldwide.
Global emissions grew 5.8%, to 33.16 billion tonnes in 2010. Global coal consumption grew 7.6% in 2010, the fastest growth since 2003, despite the effects of the continued economic downturn. Coal production rose 6.3% (9% rise in China). Coal is 29.6% of global energy consumption, up from 25.6% a decade ago.
Hydroelectric power is up 5.3% in 2010, with 60% of the increase from China. Nuclear power was up 2% for 2010, but will plunge in 2011 and thereafter with Japanese and German shutdowns.
Other renewable energy is up by a massive 15.5%, with wind up 22.7%. However this is from such a small base that although it tripled over the past decade, it is still only 1.8% of energy production.
A very complete list of iOS 5 features on a blog.
I bought a few more pairs of cotton trousers at BigW. I thought these were the same as the ones I was using, that I had found at Cannonvale. They had proved handy, I had no idea if I would see them again in my size, and BigW currently had them in my size.
JB HiFi in Melbourne had
Wake in Fright, a long lost Australian movie from 1971 that had been lost for decades. It was remastered and cleaned up for this version. I had been seeking it in Townsville and Airlie Beach since I heard of the release. I was so pleased by this that I also bought the last of the Battlestar Galatica remakes I did not have, the last two seasons of Earth: Final Conflict, and the complete Dark Skies. I was rather pleased, as I thought I had almost everything I wanted in DVD. Now I just need to find time to watch them all.
I visited the Florsheim shoe store when I spotted it. Having finally found some shoes I could tolerate, I was contemplating getting a spare pair (one pair of shoes can be a bit of a problem if using them every day, but I keep telling myself I would rather wear sandals). It turned out the shoes I like are being withdrawn, after 20 years. None in my size in black. One pair in burgundy in my size, so I bought them. My attempts to locate another Florsheim shop in walking distance failed. On the other hand, there was an end of year sale on, so I got the one pair of shoes at a considerable discount.
Jean took care of food shopping, and got a bottle of wine. I have nothing in my notes for the rest of the trip.
I guess Continuum 7 opened in the Ether Space around five. I had managed to collect a badge and a show bag slightly prior to this. I believe they held the Chronos Awards after the opening. Richard Harland's Liberator book launch was at 7:30. Paul Collins and Ford Street Publishing did their Mole Hunt. The Maximus Black Files book launch at 8:45 p.m. and this was followed by a cocktail party. Luckily the bar opened somewhat earlier than the nine o'clock time listed in the convention schedule.
My only note says
Good Eats. This was probably a recommendation, rather than something we did.
There was a panel on an alternate energy future at three. Another panel on what was happening with the Australian bookselling industry at six. The last event was the Maskobalo in the evening. These are invariable far too noisy for me to consider attending.
At ten, a cyberpunk panel. I did listen to Dave Freer's Guest of Honour speech at midday. At three, a panel on copyright law, how is it broken and how can we fix it. I imagine the result was indeterminate. After dinner there was a panel on The Prisoner, a cult 1960's TV series.
I see the newspapers and politicians have picked up that you can now buy illegal material online anonymously via Silk Road, a digital black market. Basically you download Tor, an anonymous encrypted internet connection. Using Tor to hide your transactions, you connect to Silk Road, which is like a black market version of eBay. Anonymous vendors on Silk Road have available illegal material such as LSD, pot, heroin, ecstasy and the like. You select a dealer (based on how much good feedback they have). You pay for your purchases using BitCoin, an anonymous encrypted digital currency. The Post Office delivery the goods (all plastic sealed to make sniffer dog detection harder).
The convention continued through Monday, but I have no note of anything I attended.
I went out and got more milk late in the day. Being short of clean clothes by then, I got extra underwear at Big W. I was later to hear that there was a laundry somewhere in the hotel, but it was not listed in their directory.
I see that the Huffington Post has more web views than the New York Times. This surprises me.
The same article also notes anti-union Huffington and AOL combined now have more paid staff than the unionised New York Times. Huffington Post is notorious for using unpaid bloggers for much of its material. NYT pays professional contributors. So Huffington now has a union picket line, which I am not sure anyone has noticed.
I won't link to the NYT, not because of a lack of interest or quality, but because of its login wall. Why link to something others may not be easily able to see?
On the other hand, Huffington Post is a pure capitalist play from the viewpoint of the owners. They use free material because they are cheapskates, and it improves profits.
What we have here is a clash of cultures. I think the free internet and creative commons culture will win. Which is not exactly the same as saying the pay for work culture will lose, except certain individuals will no longer be able to make a living in their former profession.
One of our walks was to Dymocks bookshop. The large downstairs store at Collins Street has frequently had some of the best range of computer books we have found in Melbourne. Perhaps this is due to RMIT being nearby. Whatever the reason, this visit I got more books on Apple iPhone and iOS programming. I am not at all sure I will be building my own applications (I would prefer to buy) but if I want books on the topic, I see them at this Dymocks.
I had set the alarm for 4 a.m., as had Jean. The hotel reception tried to charge us $24 for breakfast every day. This is fairly insane in terms of pricing. The hot buffet breakfast is $20 a person. However you can charge a voucher to your room for the same breakfast at $14 by asking at reception. We had done that the first day we arrived, as it was convenient (but crowded). That $28 charge was there correctly, as was the dinner with Carey the last evening of the Continuum convention. Since we had a room with a fridge and microwave, we brought cereal for breakfast all the other days. The hotel changed the bill.
After checking out, we were on a taxi to the airport before five. The Melbourne airport queues were slow (took nearly a half hour). The automatic kiosks did not work. A bunch of them were showing Microsoft Windows XP start up screens. One stopped half way through. The next one refused to print our tickets. This was because it decided we already had them. I shuffled the bags along the baggage drop queue while Jean found an airline counter where they issued her the tickets the automatic kiosks could not manage. Jean's bag was 20.8 kg, slightly overweight. JetStar did not bother to do anything. Since my bag was a little over 16 kg I guess they decided we would just swap articles a little rather than pay excess.
Despite the ash cloud, we were in the air on Jetstar JQ918 by around 6:40 a.m. A crowded (the flight on Monday had been stopped by the volcanic ash cloud from Chili) but uneventful flight. We were waiting for luggage in Townsville by 9:30 a.m. Jean's bag arrived. Someone else grabbed my bag, and seemed partly incapable of reading bag labels (my bag is identified in four different ways). I think it was user error rather than malice or fraud.
The taxi from the Townsville airport got us to Carlyle Gardens in good time, mid morning. Fended off phone call from Reception as I entered the house. Laundry in great haste, walk to collect mail, start up office equipment, go to the restaurant with Jean, since there is no food in the house, except in cans.
I had started the ADSL modem router soon after we arrived home at 10:30 a.m. or so. However we had not had time to connect anything. I need to remember that the UPS on the ADSL is no longer working. I should try a different gel cell rechargeable battery.
No internet connection when I tried at 1:22 p.m. Goosed the ADSL modem to connect. On the second try it told me I had IP address 22.214.171.124 At that point I could start downloading the 90 emails in the queue. Maybe I should have continued to ignore the internet.
My Apple Mighty Mouse has run out of battery power (I forgot to remove the batteries while we were away). I have set the AA batteries recharging.
I was distressed to find that the temperature inside Jean's kitchen was 17.90C this morning at 5:20 a.m. This seems really silly in the tropics. It also seems to indicate that the insulation is pathetic.
We had the laundry hanging on the line by 7:45 a.m. and it was still cold despite the sun. Our attempt to find a fan heater failed. I think they are all at Airlie Beach. I recall having two fan heaters at home there, left over from some cold spell years ago. In an attempt to keep active, I did three loads of laundry this morning. We are up to date. Now to pack the bags for the next trip.
Keyboard AA batteries died. Recharged.
Helvetica. A 99 cent iTunes movie rental. Yes, a documentary about a san-serif font family, specifically the Swiss typeface. I like fonts. I had to give up font fondling when I decided the web was the future. These days you can include font families in your web page downloads (once everyone gets rid of their old versions of Internet Explorer). I really want to play with my web design stuff. It has been so pedestrian.
The Maunder Minimum, a 70-year sunspot drought seen from 1645-1715 named by astronomer E.H. Maunder, may be returning. Jet stream activity reducing, fading spots and slower activity near the Sun's poles may be indicators that the sunspot cycle may be going into hibernation after the minimum of the current 24th cycle. The test will be what happens in the 25th sunspot cycle, expected around 2019.
There is no serious evidence that the Maunder Minimum was causally related to the European Little Ice Age, which overlapped the Maunder Minimum by hundreds of years. This will not stop the doomsday speculators.
What is causing such cold weather? The kitchen thermometer is showing 18.10C this morning at six a.m. Much colder outside, of course. I wonder why the house is not monitoring temperatures, and sending them to my console? Dumb house. Dumb power grid.
Meanwhile the sprinkler system to the East is sprinkling the house awnings every now and then. I wonder if it is watering the path where people walk?
Updated Bento and Things. Updated iTunes. Started downloading about 30 app updates. Internet enters crawl mode. A few megabyte a minute. An NBN will not solve that problem, since it is not the speed of the wire that is the issue. Luckily everything had downloaded by the time we returned from shopping.
Drop Jean off, collect tablets for us both from chemist, drive back to Willows. Buy newspaper, have breakfast, take morning tablets while reading newspaper. Check BigW for more trousers my size. Get everything on shopping list at Coles, except no bacon. Remember loyalty card, but I am a dollar short of fuel voucher discount value. Put cold food in cooler in car. Go to Woolworths for bacon. Meet Jean when she walks to Willows. Drive to Egg Farm Shop down Beck Drive to get two dozen giant fresh eggs, just being delivered from farm. By then the temperature has reached a point where I wish I were wearing shorts and sandals.
Lunch at the restaurant, with only Ray present. No idea what happened to the other usual suspects. I did get a quick word with Geoff about supplies for the Carlton Theatre. No problems there, as they will do it just like batteries and other consumables.
I got to my first happy hour in ages at the bar. Sat with neighbours Allen and Mary, Duncan and Cora, and John and Lorraine. At least Lorraine was lucky with the prizes, scoring two of the prizes. I had the shepherds pie that Noel had prepared. Ate too much, despite Cora having the salad Noel had put in a separate bowl.
Advertisers Do Not Call.
It was another cold morning. We went to Willows at eight, where Jean did very well from a shopping list that when I saw it said
fruit. I am glad I did not have to fill in the gaps. I bought newspapers, and eventually another pair of long cotton trousers in BigW, when they finally opened.
Met Jean at Sam's. No luck finding the hair clippers they advertised. However Jean pointed to a small, square aluminium surface table. That was what we needed for our new concrete patio. No luck finding it (or the chairs) inside. But there were boxes of the $50 tables in the foyer, so I was able to buy one.
Assembled the new table outside in the afternoon. A little flimsy, but it will certainly do until I can find something better. Next I need to find suitable chairs.
Finally cut the old piece of plastic pipe into two, so I can protect the irrigation sprinkler heads exposed by the other new concrete work. Broke the handle of the cheap plastic bucket Jean got me while carrying drainage gravel up the western side of the house.
Late in the day Jean took her older Canon camera to Mary for her to try as a substitute for her broken camera.
Makers by Cory Doctorow.
I see more calls to reform the National Electricity Market. At issue is the large amount of generating capacity (2200 megawatts) used for a very small amount of the time (say three days a year) to meet peak loads. This is exacerbated by the enthusiastic acceptance of cheap air conditioning, which now has about a 70% penetration rate in households. The extra transmission and capital costs are high, with conventional power plants roughly $1M a megawatt, and transmission lines roughly $1M a kilometre. Around $6 billion in costs is caused by servicing the extreme peaks in wholesale prices and network demand for just 40 hours a year. This is a quarter of retail electricity sales.
The idea is to find financial mechanisms that encourage large users to disconnect from the grid in periods of peak demand. Generally, you pay them to disconnect.
However since electricity pricing is government controlled, it is generally on a cost plus basis. There is no particular advantage to saving capital costs if you have a guaranteed return on your investment. This is despite coal fired power stations generally being run very efficiently.
NEM is designed supply consumers at least economic cost whilst ensuring unserved energy is less than .002%. That is, almost no outages at all. Not having outages and brownouts really increases costs. However there is no mechanism to direct these costs at peak load consumers.
Up at six. Overweight from eating far too much while away on holidays (and after returning). Pity that I am still hungry. Watched Insiders and Inside Business. Failed to find Bolt or Meet the Press on Channel 10. Forgot it might be offered in the afternoon in regional areas. Forgot there might be some show to watch tonight. TV viewing for the week 90 minutes of current affairs programs. Does anyone wonder why I don't own a TV set?
Told air conditioning at Airlie Beach is stuffed. But now I am wondering if it is because it is so cold this winter. The air conditioning, as is typical in the tropics, is cooling only. It is not reverse cycle. I need to check that before arranging a service call, but I can not check it until I get there. Which makes it too late to arrange a service call.
I also hear from neighbours that the number has not been replaced on the door.
Finally completed cataloging the photos from our West Australian trip in April. Now to catalogue the May photos of continued problems with maintenance and caretaking at the Whitsunday Terraces resort at Airlie Beach. That went into iPhoto well.
Started adding the South Australian Outback Spirit bus trip in June to iPhotos. But since Time Machine was playing up (I had less than 25GB free on a 320GB drive), I moved some stuff to a 2TB external drive to make some working room. The main problem with the otherwise nice Apple Mac mini is that the 320GB drive is too small to cope when you have over 100GB of stuff in iTunes, and even more in iPhoto. No wonder I don't want to even try things in iMovie! I need to make time to put everything on a really decent sized external drive array. Maybe 10TB or so. But USB is so slow.
Maybe I should talk to Jim about whether he want to get rid of one of the Mac Pro Intel machines, just so I can add drives. The Mac mini is plenty fast enough. It is only the file space that is borked.
So the New York Post tells you to get their iOS application for iPad if you try to look at their site using Safari on an iOS system. Paywalls and login walls evoke one response from me. I no longer link to these web sites. Plus I piss on people who do link to them. The paper media are already dead meat. They just don't know it yet. This means you too, New York Times. You can be crowd sourced past. I hope you are all out of work by the end of the year, arseholes.
It felt cold this morning. Fire on the mountain, below the TV transmitter antennas, so perhaps they are burning off scrub.
No new tyres available. Tyre place has to order them in. So that probably has to wait until I can return from Airlie Beach.
I had a big glass of strawberries soaked in Cointreau, as my version of a balanced diet. Jean says I should eat more fruit, and bananas cost a fortune after the disasters.
Jean dropped me off at the Reading Cinema at Kirwan. There is no cinema at Airlie Beach. I saw
Super 8, J J Abrams recreation of a 1970's Spielberg style alien movie. It was a lot of fun, with various little tribute shots scattered about. I wonder why Hollywood always has the US Government as the baddies? Sure must be a confusing message for patriots.
I walked back, since the temperature was low. That was 2.78km in 26 minutes 11 seconds, at an average of 6.38 kph. Calories burned, a mere 178 (which is probably why exercise never works for losing weight).
A dirty grey morning. It looked so misty I checked OzWeather on my iPad, to see if there was local rain (there was not).
Willows, for very little food shopping. We did get a window cleaning gadget (two years and we have not cleaned the windows - that is not too long). This place still feels temporary to me. And a tarpaulin for the drainage gravel. Jean even found a bucket for moving the gravel (I destroyed the bucket handle yesterday moving gravel).
Back from lunch. No internet connection. Turned AirPort off. Restarted WiFi. That got me a WiFi connection to the ADSL modem, which says my IP address is 126.96.36.199. A traceroute got me an unknown host message. A numeric traceroute did not get outside the ADSL modem. So I told the ADSL modem router to connect. That got me as far as the iiNet default gateway, and then the default name server. That in turn let me download email.
I checked for updates. The Mac mini was fine. Lots of recent updates for the MacBook Pro. Since the internet was very speedy this morning, I downloaded them all.
I see more evidence that the Australian Energy Regulator may take action about electricity infrastructure costs in the National Electricity Market. This is basically running the electricity distribution network on a cost plus basis, especially in states with a government run power industry that pays large special dividends to state governments.
The downside is that electricity supply will likely get less reliable. I hope that the rest of you are looking at what precautions you can take. Having your own generator and adding a change over switch to your meter box might be a good start.
Once again the ADSL modem was not connected when I awoke the computer. Usual stunts with a numeric traceroute to boot the external connection. This time the external IP number is 188.8.131.52. The connection worked for a few moments, and then failed again. I powered down the Belkin ADSL modem router. New IP number is 184.108.40.206. Restarted the WiFi connection as well, although the modem was responding (sort of) to WiFi. The connection finally settled down, after I had wasted a half hour fiddling with it.
When I got back from lunch, internet access was again lost. Email not collecting. Web browser not getting anything. Traceroute not working initially. Pushing activity through the connection with traceroute woke up the connection again, after a few minutes. Seems to still have the same external IP number.
The sprinkler system on the left side of Jean's house leapt into action at 6:30 a.m. startling a passing wallaby.
Has anyone else noticed that Fairfax seem unable to keep their newspaper web sites operating? Deliberate decision, or incompetence?
Kevin caught me at the entrance to the restaurant. New (name unknown) resident anticipating problems getting an Optus phone connection into Carlyle Gardens. Jean phoned while I was at reception, trying to identify who the new resident might be (succeeded, thanks to Jo-ann). Jean was wanting to come over to the restaurant for lunch after all. I rushed back to the restaurant, and ordered her lunch. Got another call from her, ordering wine. Got roused on for not getting her water as well.
The new resident had talked to reception, and came to see me this afternoon. I covered some of the little issues that generally cause delays in getting phone service connected. Mostly the phone company address data bases are just plain wrong about where to get the connection.
Seems there has been a fairly silent update of the Apple AirPort Extreme dual band wireless access point and router. No real details as yet, except a new Australian price of A$199. Still has the separate guest network option, printing facilities, and option to share a USB hard drive. FCC reports from the USA indicate significant power output increases in both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, covering 802.11g and 802.11n, all of which should mean better coverage.
There has been an update of the similar Time Capsules, with the capacity now going to two and three gigabyte of wireless storage. The price in Australia has dropped to A$329 and $529, which is relatively similar to USA prices.
New versions of Final Cut Pro X, Motion 5 and Compressor 4 are available in the Mac App store, at a reduced price. I am not a video editor, but it seems these have major changes in approach. FCPX does not appear to be an update to the previous Final Cut Pro series. Many non OpenCL video cards will not work, which includes various Apple models from 2008 and earlier.
I was annoyed when iPhoto 9 failed to manage an import from my iPhone 4. I don't know whether the Mac mini went to sleep and it died, or whether receiving a phone call interrupted the import. Either way, it is pretty annoying.
It turned out that there was a pop-up dialogue box. However there was no way to access the pop-up notification, as it was hidden. I closed a heap of programs in the hope it was hidden behind one of them. No luck. Finally accepted the default, which was to keep the photos on the iPhone (I could not get to the dialogue box to change that). Now I need to find out how to delete left over photos from the iPhone.
But first I need to find how to disconnect the iPhone from iPhoto. Not in Finder. I have already closed iTunes, so not there either. Finally gave up and just pulled out the connector.
Looks like after iPhoto fails to allow access to a delete photos dialogue, you could probably try either Image Capture or Preview. I believe both will allow access to an iPhone camera. Or you can select Photos, and Camera Roll in your phone, touch the curved arrow, select the photos you want to delete, and then the delete button (this is also how you copy or send multiple photos via email).
Film critic Roger Ebert tweeted
friend don't let jackasses drink and drive and was thoroughly criticised for being insensitive about the death of actor Ryan Dunn in a high speed single vehicle car accident that also killed Zachary Hartwell, a passenger in the car. Police confirm Ryan Dunn had a blood alcohol level of .196. I think that clearly shows who was right.
I seemed to be using too much mobile data on my Apple iPad. I found the WiFi connection disappeared when I was not paying attention. So I checked using a desktop computer. The WiFi connection was there. The Belkin ADSL modem router now indicated an external IP address of 220.127.116.11, however some things (like Net News Wire) were still not connecting on the iPad.
It seems the problem is between Net News Wire on the iPad vs on the computer, and The Early Edition on the iPad. Looks to me like The Early Edition will let me import my feed details from Google Reader, but then fails to update which items I have read. Plus something is totally stuffed with the iPad version of Net News Wire over WiFi.
It was cold as I passed Bowling Green National Park around five thirty. The car thermometer was showing an outside temperature of 80C. Apart from stopping at Inkerman for a drink, I drove straight through, arriving slightly before nine.
Michele's camping store had a range of chairs, as I expected. I tried all of them, and selected a Coleman Model 50240A Jumbo Full Padded Chair, that Coleman have made in China. It seemed the most comfortable chair in the range. It has a five year warranty, which is something, considering the plastic arms on the previous chair snapped after about ten years in the sun. I did not specifically need a real small portable chair if it were mostly sitting on a balcony or patio.
Centro at Cannonvale were a bit of a disappointment. Could not find any DVDs. I did find the cotton cargo pants were still in stock at BigW, but the price was around $25. I thought I had previously managed cheaper. If it were not so cold (since May) this season I would not have even bothered to check long trousers. I bought ham and cheese, and milk, at Woolworths. This seems more of a habit than a measured response to what I need sitting in the fridge at home. I did however remember to get some packets of instant rice, especially as they were on special.
I failed to stop at any hardware store, although I need some supplies. Now if only I can find the list from wherever it is hidden.
I made myself an Easy Meals Chicken Tikka Masala served on Woolworths Select Oriental Fried flavoured rice for dinner. That seemed perfectly acceptable as a quick meal. At this rate testing meals for cyclone supplies will take me until after the cyclone season.
I went out and discovered once again I was able to get into the hairdresser without any delay. Given she had customers from eleven until after noon, I thought I was doing pretty well on that.
Collected some party supplies at BWS. Collected the past several weeks of local newspapers from the news agency. Plus there were already two more Apple magazines awaiting me, MacFormat and iCreate.
No mail for me at Reception. Alas, the discarded chairs were still underneath Anchor, Barnacle and Florin Terraces. There is still a lot of rubbish around the resort, but it seemed to me that some had been removed. Some extra tree limbs lopped.
The old tabletop dish washer was getting in the way. I put it in the boot of the car so I could get rid of it at a tip sometime.
Both the emergency fluorescent lights seem to have failed (they are really old). I pulled one apart and checked the gel cell batteries. No sign of them taking any charge at all. However I think I can put my hands on some other discarded gel cell batteries that may fit in the same space.
Battlestar Galactic mini series.
I put the Florin Terrace garbage bin out just prior to the rubbish truck arriving. I could see that the rubbish bin for Endeavour Terrace was out. I am not convinced that the rubbish bins were even put out on Friday, but the Florin bin did not go out. I notice that the Resort Managers are away this weekend, so it could be that whoever is assigned to do the bins has poor instructions or simply never get to Florin Terrace. Either way, I am not impressed.
I buy my prescribed drugs at a Discount Chemist in Townsville. This is because some drugs purchased under the Federal Government monopsony Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) cost more than at discount pharmacies. Two out of three of my prescription tablets can be obtained cheaper than PBS this way. Seems unreasonable that a government monopsony can not do better, unless there is enemy action.
Some of the enemy action is pharmacies trying to delay the passing on of price discounts they receive from wholesalers, that brings their cost of PBS drugs down. By purchasing a year of drugs in the first month of price disclosure, chemists can delay inclusion in the scheme by 11 months. The Australian Journal of Pharmacy advised this tactic in February.
I went late to the markets. Airlie Beach is so dead to tourists at the moment that there is no point in rushing off. Caught up with Rex at a totally new location, and then Glenn and Alison. The breakfast folks did not attend, so I went to Maccas. Collected the weekend newspapers on the way back. Then it was photographs of extra problem areas in the Whitsunday Terraces all the way up the stairs.
I had a chat with Ron in his unit in the afternoon. Despite his age, Ron had cleaned up the underbrush at Florin Terrace under his unit. It was impressive.
I had my usual party in the evening. Rex and Myra arrived first. Then Glenn and Alison somewhat later.
I checked under Florin Terrace. Discovered that there were actually two broken chairs left as rubbish under the building. So that is four abandoned chairs that have not been cleaned up.
My apartment door has mould growing on it again. I cleaned it off with straight LOC spray. I last cleaned the mould off the door on Friday 21 January 2011. This means door cleaning needs to be done about every three months during the wet season, to prevent mould from appearing.
Battlestar Galactica Season 1.
Another morning that the rubbish bins at Florin Terrace were not put out to be collected by the garbage truck. I moved a bag of garbage from one rubbish bin into the one that had more in it, and put out that bin at 7 a.m., before the garbage truck arrived. I do not understand why it is so hard to put out a rubbish bin that is part of a daily contract. It is not like the rubbish bin was empty.
It is cold (to the extent that 200C is cold), and from time to time rain drizzles down. I am not impressed by the winter weather. Makes me disinclined to go out and get another newspaper.
Watched Insiders and then Business Inside. Not sure when Meet The Press is gone. Channel Ten is playing hide the public affairs show still in regional areas.
Battlestar Galactica Season 2.0.
A cruise ship was in, hence markets.
I could not get the garage door to open using the remote. I thought that the power must have been out, but it was not. I tried the interior switch, and although the door opener beeped five times, the door motor did not start. I got a ladder and switched the power to the opener off. This switched out the flashing amber door status light. The green door open light came on. Now the door was willing to open. Since there had been a power outage on Saturday (I am told) I thought the door opener might just be confused.
After lunch with the usual gang I recalled that Leigh had phoned Jean on Friday looking for me. So I visited reception in case she was there. Certain amount of venting going on, but so far neither of us could see much in the way of decent solutions.
I had to go to the doctor late in the afternoon. The results of my blood tests a month ago were fine (or if not fine, at least highly similar to the last time I managed to get tests done two years ago). Nothing to see there, move along.
The Carlyle Gardens Computer Club had Skype as the topic for their Infonite. Wally and Kevin demonstrated using Skype, although the Timbuktoo location was less than convincing. The scones and jam and cream afterwards was very convincing.
I was awake at four, listing to some weird noise outside the window. Finally got up and started working on the mess of stuff that had accumulated. I noticed the sprinkler system on the Eastern side was working at 6:30 a.m. I still can not spot when the Western side sprinklers operate.
The Outback Spirit package arrived just when Jean was returning with the mail. Good that it was not any later. Jean had muttered about phoning them had it not arrived today.
I came back from lunch rather late. No internet access. The Belkin ADSL Modem Router said I had 18.104.22.168 as my external IP number. Tried a numeric traceroute in an attempt to goose the external connection into giving me name server access. After a couple of minutes that worked.
I caught up with Geoff and Margaret after lunch, and had a robust chat with them about the Carlton Theatre. Not happy.
I had 82 emails to deal with, once the internet was working again. Geoff had done the Carlton Theatre accounts, so I checked them first so they could be sent off to the office prior to the end of the financial year.
Awoke before three. Since I could not sleep I got up and used my computer, without putting on any lights. Seemed massively ineffective at getting anything done.
I was able to collect a Tax Pack at the newsagency, something I had forgotten to do at Airlie Beach.
We needed reef shoes for a tunnel walk in West Australia, so we tried BigW. It was a nightmare. Men and woman shoe sizes mixed, and the wrong shoe sizes on the hangers. The location was just outside the Lay-Buy area, which is also the access to the toilets, and where the staff take rubbish to dispose of. Plus there was a queue of people many long with large trolleys full of toys. It was a nightmare. Seemed we had arrived on the first day of a toy sale. Had we known, we would not have gone anywhere near the BigW store.
I could not get the garage door to open using the remote when we left. I tried the interior switch, and although the door opener beeped five times, the door motor did not start. This was the same as last time. The car was in the way of reaching the opener mechanism via ladder. Luckily Jean could just reach it by standing on the car door sill. Switching power off and back on got the door open.
Upon our return and after further door testing we phoned Reception. Liz consulted Jo-ann and said they would get McGovern Agencies to come and attempt to fix the garage door.
I see calls for Apple to include HDMI connectors on all their computers (rather than just on the AppleTv and the Mac mini that many use as a home theatre computer. Some people say HDMI will fix problems.
Really? A badly designed cable scheme that is poor for any sort of distance, together with a totally inadequate connector that will rapidly fail in use for anyone who swaps cables often? Topped off with a digital restrictions scheme that often prevents HDMI equipped gadgets from connecting, as it goes through various incompatible versions. This is going to fix problems? Seems to me it is mostly causing problems.
A decent VGA cable works just fine, just like it has for ages. I'm watching a 1920 x 1200 display right now over a VGA cable. I prefer DVI, but VGA works. So does Component for that matter (I use all three to my display, although only DVI and VGA are driving at 1920 x 1200 at the moment).
There was no technical reason to go to HDMI. It is a committee stuff up, probably mostly designed to help a company get their snout in the trough.
The solar power inverter shows it has produced 1450 kWh to date, and operated for 4469 hours. The solar power output figures last month (May) showed it generated 1354 kWH in 4146 hours of operation. So the total hours operating in the 30 days of June 2011 were 323 hours, during which it generated 96 kWh. About 3.2 kWh per day, or 297 Watts per operating hour. Remember, this is a nominal 1 kW panel.
Meanwhile, the new electronic meter in the outside meter box is showing I imported 1726 kWh on E1, exported 490 kWh on E1/E2, and imported 1800 kWh on E2. This will be since it was installed. This means my usage over the past three months since the previous electricity account was 391 kWh on General Tariff 11, and 89 kWh on Tariff 33 (restricted hours for hot water and air conditioning). Power exported in the past three months was 170 kWh.
The electricity accounts for the quarter [not in as yet] show the solar panels provided 170 kWh electricity feed in over 90 days. This provided a $74.80 solar feed rebate on our electricity bills.