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Camping trip, and speeding fine

March 30, 2018 — BarryK

It was a nice little camping trip, until on the way home. I went to Gnaala Mia campsite, a really nice bushland setting, with very private camping sites, each one with its own tables and seats and a drum in which to have a fire. Even cut wood is supplied. No electricity, but a nice kitchen with rain water tank.

It is run by the Department of Parks and Wildlife, here is the website:

https://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/site/gnaala-mia-campground

Here is my tent setup:

image

The campsite is near Wandering, south-east of Perth, about a two hour drive. Well, almost three hours for me, meandering along.

I came back driving up the Great Southern Highway, which terminates at the Great Northern Highway, where I turn left heading toward Perth.

It is that intersection where I got caught out. The speed limit on the Great Southern Highway is mostly 100km/h (62 miles/h), but *apparently* there is a sign for 80km/h (50 miles/h) about 5km before the intersection, or so the officer told me. Which I didn't see, and I was clocked at 102km/h (63 miles/h).

I need to explain something. I am always very careful to drive within the speed limit. Always watch out for speed signs. The only times that I have been booked for speeding is when I have been caught unawares.
In Western Australia, speed fines are a major source of income for the State government. On country roads, police officers hide where they know they will catch the unwary.

In other words, it is not about catching those who are deliberately speeding, it is about scoring fines. If they were after the deliberate speeders, they would position themselves on the open road, not at tricky spots where, apart from unfortunate placement of a speed sign, there are no other reasons to slow down.

This situation needs to be understood. This is where I was caught speeding:

images

The width of that image is about 5km, and I was heading west, toward the intersection. I came to the intersection, slowly, I might add, then turned left into the Great Eastern Hwy. A complete stop is not required, as there is a lane that merges into the Great Eastern Highway.

Google URL:

https://www.google.com.au/maps/place/Lake+Manaring/@-31.8774983,116.3069348,14z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x2a32dbe1d3c5322d:0xb7ad666eb582fae3!8m2!3d-31.8775!4d116.3244444

Anyway, I had just turned onto the G.E. Hwy, when a police car came around the same intersection with all its lights flashing, and I pulled over.

The officer asked did I see the 80km/h sign, I replied "no", he said it was about 5km before the intersection. I must have blinked when I was passing it, sure didn't see it. Nor are there any other visual cues that I should be slowing down. Look at the image -- bushland and farmland, just your typical countryside, hardly any bends.

There is a petrol station on the intersection, and as soon as I spotted it and the intersection, I slowed down. But that was too late, the 80km/h limit apparently started some km's before.

God, they are sneaky. Some of them anyway. He was apologetic, said that he would have liked to just issue a caution, but his partner was probably already writing out a ticket in the car. Unlikely story, as he then took my driver's license back to his car, the partner came out and gave me a breathalyser, then the first officer returned with my driver's license and a ticket -- a AU$400 fine and 6 demerit points.

What I find particularly aggravating about this situation is that I try so hard to always stay within the speed limit, but there are some police officers who are out to catch a small lapse on the part of people like me. I know that I just have to accept it philosophically, but still it is annoying. So, letting off some steam by posting about it to this blog!

I thought maybe I should post the name and number of the police officer, but decided against it. Why target just one officer, when others also use the same tactics?

One more thing that I should mention. He told me that I was clocked at 102km/h, however, on the ticket is written "D/S 106/80  A/S 104/80".

P.S.: After reading the above, maybe you are thinking "Barry, it was unintentional, but you did break the law!" Yes. To give a bit more credit to the officer, I think that he might have let me off with a caution if my speed was a tad lower. Oh well, I'm a senior citizen, allowed to be grumpy! Reckon in future I will try and avoid that road between Great Eastern Hwy and York, as the speed limit goes up and down like a yoyo.

Tags: ethos

Man living in caravan at Menzies

December 01, 2017 — BarryK

This poor guy is being hounded by the local shire council:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-06/every-mans-caravan-his-castle-menzies-landowner-fights-eviction/9115442

image

...what you can see behind him, are "quarter acre blocks".

I have been to Menzies, and was curious about those "blocks". When the town was originally gazetted, these blocks were marked out, and were sold to individuals. But, no one ever built anything there, and these blocks appear for sale every now and again, asking between AU$3000 and AU$5000 (about US$2000 to 3000), as the owners try and offload them to someone else.

Meanwhile, the shire council collects rates on these blocks.

The "town" of Menzies is in the Shire of Menzies, and there isn't much there. As I recall, the Shire offices, a diner for travelers, a pub. Most of the "blocks" are, as I recall, not in sight of the main road. They are just harsh desert terrain, you wouldn't know there are any "blocks" there. I don't recall much in the way of roads to them either, tracks maybe.

Anyway, this fellow bought one, put a caravan on it, and the Shire Council is charging him AU$50 per day for "illegal camping".

Apparently, this situation has come about because of one petty official on the Shire Council.

My God, there are so many illegal activities where official turn a blind eye. There are people camping illegally in car parks in Perth, there is prostitution. It is recognised that police and government officials have the discretion to sometimes turn a blind eye. This fellow is in the middle of nowhere -- leave him alone!!!

EDIT:

Mr Gopel's block is in Suiter Street (meaning, dirt track, at best). I was curious to see where it is. Yep, same place where I looked many years ago, some distance out of the town. See map here:

http://www.realmark.com.au/listing/364761/118-suiter-street-menzies

Those blocks I have seen advertised privately. This link has history of block sales in Menzies, however I think those are only ones sold through estate agencies or via the major listing sites such as reiwa.com.au:

https://reiwa.com.au/sold/menzies/land/

Tags: ethos

China Southern Airlines

July 03, 2016 — BarryK
A little while ago, I booked a flight with China Southern Airlines. This is a summary of my experience.

I searched for a flight at skyscanner.com.au, and found China Southern to be the cheapest. Instead of booking through an agent, I went direct to their website.

What I found is that most of the pages at http://www.csair.com are extremely slow to load or don't load at all. However, the URL http://www.csair.com/au/en/ does work, albeit slowly. My guess is the latter pages are served from somewhere outside China, specifically for the Australian market.

After booking online, there was a statement that confirmation (and my e-ticket) had been emailed to me. Except it wasn't, nothing arrived, not in the spam folder either. After about half an hour, I hit resend, still no email. Fortunately, there was also a link to download the e-ticket as a PDF, and that worked. I never did get those emails.

Prior to booking, I joined their Sky Pearl Club, so as to get flyer points and be able to login to make any changes to my booking.
After joining, they sent SMSs, one of which had my login pin number. Three SMSs I think, all in Chinese. Anyway, I found my pin number in one of them.

After booking my ticket, I wanted to choose my type of meal, as I am a vegetarian. However, I found that only Business Class passenger are able to select type of meal online. Everyone else has to telephone them.

One reason that I booked with them, is I carefully read their conditions, and found that I would be able to cancel my ticket (with a "processing fee" of unspecified amount).

My circumstances have changed, and need to cancel my ticket. That's when the fun started. I logged in, clicked the button to change/cancel my booking, entered the relevant information, clicked Submit, and got a server error. So far, I have tried about a dozen times, different times of the day or night, either get a server error or it just hangs after clicking Submit.

Once again, a phone number is provided, to make booking changes. Looks like a number in China.

I have read a lot of online feedback about their phone support. Mixed, many say it is woeful, some had good experiences. It might depend on the English-speaking ability of the person at the other end.

Current situation is, I still have a ticket with them. I guess that I will have to try that phone number. With a great deal of trepidation.

I know, I know, the saying "you get what you pay for". But, this airline has quite a high rating. Odd though, one customer feedback site that I looked at, nearly all of it was 4 or 5 stars, yet there was another site with ratings down around 1 or 2 stars -- on that latter site, one guy said that he wished that he could give negative-star rating.

Um, these have very positive reviews:
http://www.airlinequality.com/airline-reviews/china-southern-airlines/
http://www.productreview.com.au/p/china-southern-airlines.html

This one has a lot of one-star reviews:
https://www.yelp.com.au/biz/china-southern-airlines-los-angeles

Interesting facts page about CSA:
http://www.gotravelyourway.com/2016/02/13/review-10-china-southern-airlines-facts-you-should-know/

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Don't forget Microsoft's past

July 03, 2016 — BarryK
The comments here are an interesting read:
http://fossforce.com/2016/06/unlikely-return-microsoft-love/

The post from A. J. Venter about 3/4 down the page, is particularly sad. Their enterprise in Africa was destroyed.

I am one of those oldies who remember much of MS's tactics. Let's see, how far back do I have to go... I am forgetting the early Windows version numbers... there was a time, in the 80's, when you had to install MSDOS, then Windows on top of it. Or, you could install Digital Research DRDOS, then Windows -- except that MS upgraded Windows and it refused to install on top of DRDOS, claiming that it was incompatible.

Which it wasn't. I did manage to trick Windows to install on top of DRDOS, and Windows worked fine.
It was just MS killing off a competitor.

Ha ha, that was just the start!

About the same time, there was IBM's OS/2, that MS initially pretended to support, but in fact they killed that too. See page 3:
http://techland.time.com/2012/04/02/25-years-of-ibms-os2-the-birth-death-and-afterlife-of-a-legendary-operating-system/3/

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Don't trust the Google App Store

July 01, 2016 — BarryK
This is a worry:

http://www.csoonline.com/article/3089431/mobile-security/dangerous-keyboard-app-has-more-than-50-million-downloads.html

I have previously thought that I should only download apps for my Android phone from the Google App Store, as the apps would be checked out before being admitted.

This is adding to the many security concerns that I have about Android.

It almost makes me go out and buy an iPhone.

Tags: ethos

ODF back again?

February 23, 2014 — BarryK
Microsoft almost killed off ODF many years ago, or rather managed to get it shoved into obscurity.

The UK Government is looking at making ODF a requirement, see here:
http://www.consortiuminfo.org/standardsblog/article.php?story=20140220165521599

I have learned to be pessimistic, when idealism/altruism, well just plain common-sense, are up against big business. Will I be pleasantly surprised this time around?

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Why is the tea darker?

February 14, 2014 — BarryK
I drink green tea, boiled in water, nothing else added. For awhile now, I have been boiling it, allowing to cool, then pour into bottles and put in the refrigerator -- a refreshing cool drink -- it is summer here.

I had recently been using tap water, despite years of drinking only spring water or rain water. Then a few days ago, I decided to go back to using spring water -- no access to rainwater these days.

That is when I noticed something. I always boil the tea twice, allowing to stand for a short time between boils, to extract more from the tea leaves. I followed this exact same regimen with the spring water, and this is the result:


...the tea on the left is boiled in tap water, on the right in spring water, "Aussie Natural" brand.

So, I wondered, was the tap water causing more to be extracted from the tea leaves, or was there some kind of chemical reaction between the chemicals in the tap water and the tea leaves?

I conducted another experiment, boiled the tea in spring water three times, allowing to stand over an hour between boils, and this is the result:


...the bottle on the extreme right has been boiled three times in spring water. Darker, but still nowhere near the tap water.

So, I am left wondering. A bit of a google around did not really reveal why the tea boiled in tap water is darker.

I am using Nerada organic green tea:

http://www.neradatea.com.au/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=76

This is what Aussie Natural have to say about their spring water:
http://www.aussienatural.net.au/about-our-natural-spring-water-perth

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