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July 2007
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Sunday, 1 July 2007 Echunga Images for 1 July 2007
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Today I officially retire! Not that that translates to more leisure at the moment, of course. Continued with the daunting task of packing up the library and the musical instruments, and to our surprise managed not just most of that (barring stuff which we'll put in other cartons as we go), but also the main bedroom and significant parts of my office:


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Monday, 2 July 2007 Echunga Images for 2 July 2007
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It's been a few days since the last power failure, so today we had no less than three of them to make up for it, each of them interrupting my 24-hour-long monthly complete backup. Grrr! That makes 26 power failures this year, an even one per week.

Spent most of the day chasing up various aspects of the move. As Tony Brewster has already discovered, the electricity suppliers are less than clever when it comes to changing subscribers. Cliff Taylor had told me that they had an account with Momentum Energy, so called them up and got a person who couldn't even write down when I spelt things to her. She couldn't find any evidence of an account for that property. I suspect that the reason for that is that she wasn't able to spell “Kleins” or “Dereel” correctly, though she claimed to have found Dereel—in South Australia.

Disconnecting from AGL was similar: the account is in my father's name, so I was told that they needed to speak to him. Called him up, explained what was going on, arranged for them to talk to him, then called back, got somebody else who didn't need to speak to him. sigh.

Jack Burton in this afternoon to pick up the remains of the disk array. Things are gradually looking emptier, but between that, the phone calls and the poser supplies, didn't get very much packed.


Tuesday, 3 July 2007 Echunga Images for 3 July 2007
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Continued with packing today, addressing the office and the Mike Smith Memorial Room. It's clear that it would be a lot slower than packing books, and indeed it was. In particular, you can't just go through taking things and putting them into boxes, and the iterative nature of the packing also meant that by evening there was no single area that was finished. It's clear that there's much less stuff there, but will I be finished by Friday?

Phone call with Kym Swanson, who was looking at the UPS damaged in the power failure of 10 January. The damage is amazing: two rows of 12 power transistors burnt out, each costing about $12. The $288 might be worth it, but there's every reason to believe that some other fault on the board caused them to die, and replacing them would result in immediate destruction on power-on. Decided to salvage the batteries and forget the supply. Instead, bought a 1.7 kVA unit on eBay.

Six months ago we were in the grip of a really severe drought. That has changed completely; it's been raining for days, and in the area round Maffra and Briagolong in Gippsland things are even worse: in the summer they had weeks of bushfires, and now they've had severe flooding in exactly the areas I looked at as potential places to move to on 5 February. Chris Yeardley was planning to come to pick up some horses tomorrow, but the weather was terrible. We had some of the heaviest rainfall ever, even coming in under the doors (wind, not flood), and the Bureau of Meteorology issued a particularly strong weather warning:

A front is crossing the State this morning and north to northwesterly winds locally gusting to 95 km/h in western, central and elevated eastern areas will tend squally westerly by the afternoon with similar gusts and the risk of thunderstorms. An easing is expected in most parts this afternoon.

In the interests of community safety the SES suggests some simple precautions: Secure any loose objects in the vicinity of your house, beware of fallen powerlines and, if you are boating, then return to shore as soon as possible

Looks like Chris will put off the journey by a day.


Wednesday, 4 July 2007 Echunga
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Today was the last visit of Diane Gray, our cleaning lady, who has been cleaning for us for longer than I can remember. Until 2003 her mother Mary helped her, and she came along today to say goodbye as well. We're going to leave a lot of friends behind, unfortunately.

Continued packing the office today, and finally things are coming ahead. With any luck I'll have everything finished by Friday evening.


Thursday, 5 July 2007 Echunga
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Still more packing today, and finally made some inroads into the Mike Smith Memorial Room. It should be pretty much finished by tomorrow night, but I fear that I may have to leave the end of the job to Yvonne.

Chris Yeardley arrived in the evening to pick up three of the horses. Had a final going-away dinner (“last supper”) with Diane Saunders also present.

Plans for staying on the net

I got a message today from Michael Hughes, who asks:
Just thought I would check to see how long you will be off the Internet when you move the last of the computer equipment?
I replied to him with the current plans:

So in summary, I'm expecting to be completely off the net from Sunday morning to Sunday evening, while I'm travelling the 618 km to Dereel.


Friday, 6 July 2007 Echunga Images for 6 July 2007
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And the final day before the move! First, though, we needed to pack things and horses into Chris' car and float. That would have been easier if the weather had been better; it rained as heavily as it had ever done, and we had rivers running down the paddocks:


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As a result, Chris didn't leave until 12:30, leaving us little time to do much else. Spent the afternoon cleaning up the Mike Smith Memorial Room, and though I made a lot of progress, I didn't finish. Looks like we're going to be in for a hectic time over the weekend.


Saturday, 7 July 2007 Echunga Images for 7 July 2007
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Round 8:30 the movers called to say that they were in Bordertown, and that they'd be arriving in 3 to 3 1/2 hours. That gave us some time to finish the packing, but of course not enough, even though they didn't arrive until 14:00. I wonder why it took them so long; I need about 2 1/2 hours by car, and the time they took corresponds to a speed of about 50 km/h.

They got stuck into things pretty quickly, despite the weather, which was only marginally better than yesterday's, and by the end of the day the house looked significantly depleted, though there still wasn't much in the truck (first of two), and nothing in its trailer.


Sunday, 8 July 2007 Echunga → Dereel Images for 8 July 2007
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Up this morning to discover that the movers had already started, and we no longer had chairs. Arranged for a couple to be unloaded for breakfast, and then addressed all the things I had to do before leaving, including:

Finally got away round 13:30, and had an uneventful trip to Dereel. It's funny to think that I've left Wantadilla. My mind understands it, but my emotions haven't caught up yet.


Monday, 9 July 2007 Dereel Images for 9 July 2007
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I had asked the movers to call me to tell me when they were going to come to unload, but when I got the call, it was to say that everybody was exhausted, and they would prefer to put off the unloading until tomorrow. Agreed to that before I realized that part of the load was the deep freeze, which still had some goods in it.

Rearranged my day and decided first to look at the house, discovering in the process some nice plants in the garden, along with a device that looked as if it might be a bore:


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Then into Ballarat with the intention of buying a microwave oven and looking for air conditioners. A couple of weeks ago I had seen remarkably cheap microwaves in Big W—the cheapest was about $88, and it was difficult to find anything over $200. Today I went to the Good Guys, who had a completely different selection, starting where Big W left off and going to over $1000. I hadn't expected to find anything that expensive.

Also looked at air conditioners. Comparing the specifications is interesting: in particular, the ratio of input to output power runs from about 2.5:1 to about 3.9:1. In addition, the price of a small split system air conditioner can be lower than the installation cost, so there are some serious considerations about how many to install.

After looking at light fittings, back to Big W to buy a microwave oven, but couldn't find any stock of the one I chose. Finding customer service there is a catastrophe. Nobody on the shop floor, so I ended up calling for somebody not once, but a total of 4 times. After 15 minutes, one person (the third called) showed up, but he was from the wrong department, and the fourth didn't show up either. The girls at the “service” desk were no help either; they seemed to think it was normal. Finally the security guard came up to me and asked “What's your problem, matey?”; it turned out that he was just on door duty this week, and normally he was in the household goods department. He confirmed that they were out of stock of that model, and that replacements could take 2 weeks. He also explained why the service was so terrible: last week had been the end of financial year sales, and half the staff was off on holiday. Why didn't the girls tell me that? It's still not a good sign that the service is so terrible, but at least it makes it more understandable.

Across the road to Warehouse Sales and had a look there. Their product descriptions are not as good as those of Big W, so I had to look at the instruction manuals which they had thoughtfully put in the machines. That in itself was interesting. Since I last bought a microwave oven, there have been three technological developments:

After some comparisons, ended up with a Panasonic model with all these features. It'll be interesting to see how well the sensor mode works, and whether the term “Inverter” means a different way of feeding the magnetron, preferably one that modulates the power rather than switching on and off.

While I was there, also picked up a surprisingly professional looking friteuse with digital controls: our old one requires three phase power, which isn't available in Dereel.

On the way home, phone call from Yvonne: the second removal van had just left, but without the deep freeze. A few frantic phone calls back and forth, while Yvonne set out on the wrong road to try to catch them. Finally got through and put out that fire.


Tuesday, 10 July 2007 Dereel Images for 10 July 2007
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The movers had told me to be at the house by 8:30 this morning, but I had arranged that they would call me when they left Ballarat. When they hadn't done so by 9:30, went over anyway to see if they had forgotten to call me. Nobody there, so tried to call them, only to discover no mobile phone coverage and the house phone line disconnected (though I was able to call Telstra). Did that, dreading the interminable discussion first with Telstra's voice “recognition” system and then with a Telstra representative, but to my surprise I got through the voice recognition with no errors, was connected to a representative with no delay, and he was able to arrange for reconnection within the hour. Amazing!

Finally the second truck arrived, and they unloaded the truck without much mishap—and still the first truck, due yesterday morning, hadn't showed up. Called up and got on to Dave, who was supposed to be bringing the truck, and finally got him to show up round 15:15. Unloading went on until about 18:30, after which they had trouble getting out of the driveway: the truck had been bogged down, and Chris had to help tow it out with her 4WD Toyota truck.

Dinner at Chris', then back home to sleep on not-yet-assembled beds:


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We're here!


Wednesday, 11 July 2007 Dereel Images for 11 July 2007
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The first morning in the new home! But not the first breakfast; we didn't have anything unpacked, so round to Chris' for that. Then the most important thing was to ensure that we had electricity beyond tomorrow. To do that, I first needed a telephone; the one left behind here was about the worst I have ever seen. It's a wall phone hidden in a corner next to the stove, and it's almost impossible to get to. In addition it kept dropping the handset, and the cable was twisted and in such bad condition that I was worried that straightening it out would break one of the connections. And after all, I had packed away my phones for easy access.

Well, that's what I thought. After a couple of hours of searching (and discovering that my carefully prepared numbering of the boxes had frequently been ignored), finally found a different phone and connected it up. Then called the supplier, Momentum Energy, who told me that since Monday of this week they are no longer accepting new customers. Scratched my head, read the Yellow Pages, and came up with a short list of providers. The first was Origin, who completely turned me off by telling me that they charged the maximum the government allowed, and they wouldn't divulge any pricing information for their “standard” tariffs until I had been with them for a month. Then called Red Energy, who offered what they claim are good prices; certainly they're significantly less than what we were paying AGL in Echunga. By this time, including looking for the phone, I had invested about 3 hours, so decided to go with them. The salesperson then told me that somebody would come by to read the meter tomorrow, and that I should turn off the main switch at 7:00 and not turn it on again until he had done the reading. When I suggested that he could do that himself if he needed, I was told that that was my responsibility. He seemed deadly serious.

After that, over to Chris' place; that's the only place we can currently get network connectivity, and since mail has been being delivered to Ozlabs, I have about 50 times as much spam as before. Hopefully I'll get my network connection soon.

Then to Sebastopol to go grocery shopping, the first time I've done that with Yvonne in years. Spent a lot of money, then home to barbecue some meat, not helped by a complete inability to find one of two separate sets of cutlery. Finally found a third, the family silver, so used that.

What a day!


Thursday, 12 July 2007 Dereel Images for 12 July 2007
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Today was settlement day for the house sales. Things didn't quite go as smoothly as they could have: the account for paying the balance hadn't been set up yet, so we didn't know what to do with the money. Spent a significant amount of time sorting out that mess, and by the end of the day we had the account, but for some reason, the conveyancer wanted to pay using a physical cheque—I thought that kind of transaction had gone out of serious use decades ago. Left that in the capable hands of Helen Maggi.

Last Friday Chris transported three of our horses (Darah, Don Carlos and Pebbles) from Wantadilla to her place, just round the corner from our new house, so today we decided to ride them over:


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It would be nice to say that that was the real point where we moved into the house, but of course we've been here for a couple of days. The riding paths are much nicer than I expected, and for the first time we can literally ride out of the property and onto riding trails. We just need to get the horses used to kangaroos, such as the four we found in our back yard when we returned.

Lots of people showed up today: the bloke to read the electricity meter, who of course didn't want me to turn off the main switch (“Those blokes have never been out of an office in their lives”), a courier delivery of a UPS—they hadn't been able to find Kleins Road on the map, presumably because of incorrect spelling in some database—and the bloke to guess how much gas we had in our cylinders. He gave me some estimate of what it costs to run the heater: about $4 per hour of running. Considering that it's been running at about 50% duty cycle, that means about $50 a day! Clearly we need to install the air conditioning as quickly as possible. In the meantime, turned the heating off, lit a fire—in itself an experience—and borrowed some electric heaters from Chris. I had always considered electric heating too expensive, but it's far cheaper than gas.

Apart from that, more unpacking. Things are gradually looking a little more manageable.


Friday, 13 July 2007 Dereel
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Friday the 13th brings bad luck. Superstition, of course, but sometimes I think it's self-fulfilling. Today makes it seem like that. First on the list was to connect up the dish washer, which involved changing the power cable: it ran on three-phase power in Wantadilla, but that's not available here. Decided to convert a computer cable rated at 10A, and after chopping off the surplus connector and messing around with Miele's crazy junction blocks (the earth line is secured with an 8 mm screw recessed in a way that most tools can't get at it), went to plug it in and—discovered that I had chopped off the wrong end of the cable. After doing it right, discovered that the cables aren't really up to handling the current that the machine pulls, and they got quite warm. Time to replace it again.

Cliff and Carla Taylor, the old owners of the property, have three greyhounds that they can no longer hold, and they're looking for new owners. They're friendly animals, and they're available for free. We thought of keeping them for ourselves, but they haven't been trained to stay by heel, and in any case, Victoria has special legislation requiring greyhounds to be on the leash at all times. So we're also helping the search for new owners. In the meantime, we've agreed to feed them (at their cost, of course). After today, I'm beginning to wonder if that's a good idea: one of the dogs broke out of his kennel twice, and we spent a considerable amount of time catching him.

Yvonne is fed up with unpacking, so we decided to go into Ballarat to do some shopping—but we couldn't find her car keys, which she had taken out of the car only 10 minutes before. Spent another hour looking everywhere for them, before finally finding them in her handbag (where she had looked twice before). Somehow moving house is completely disorienting.

Michael Hughes writes:

I was a little puzzled when I read that you have more then one supplier for electric. I'm not sure how this works. Here you only can get electric from the supplier in your area. Since we live in the country, we have a CO-OP electric company,Citizens Electric Corporation.

Yes, I suppose that's a little unusual. A few years ago, the Australian electricity supply was deregulated. There's still one power supplier for each area—in South Australia, it's ETSA, about whom I have complained in detail. Here it appears to be Powercor. But retail sales of electricity is done by a number of different companies, and they're the ones I was talking about.

Michael continues:

I was also looking at some of the pictures you took of the house and was wondering what room was in picture house-10? It looks a little narrow for a bedroom.

Indeed! A number of the rooms in this house are surprisingly narrow. This one is intended as a “formal dining room”. We've put a big dining table (1.5x2.5 metres) in there, which only just fits along with the chairs, and we'll put off the decision about what to do with it until another day. But that's not the narrowest room; that's the old “study”, which we're converting into a library and guest bedroom. Not for claustrophobes: it's only 1.8 metres wide.


Saturday, 14 July 2007 Dereel Images for 14 July 2007
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Spent all day shopping, and didn't even find much. Beds and mattresses are a catastrophe: they're still living in the feudal period, with descriptions such as “king” and “queen”. I'm looking for a standard 90x200 mattress, but they're just not available.

We've been doing our shopping at Safeway, which has quite a good shop in Sebastopol. Today, though, they didn't have any Chinese cabbage, so we decided to try Coles, despite my complaints about their Mount Barker location months ago. They could differ from location to location, I thought. I was right: this location is the worst I have ever seen. Tatty, small, badly sorted and with rotten vegetables. How can they stay in business?


Sunday, 15 July 2007 Dereel → Melbourne → Dereel
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Off to Melbourne today to buy some furniture at IKEA. That proved to be more difficult than expected: apart from the legendarily bad traffic in Melbourne—I must make a note to avoid Victoria Street altogether—discovered that IKEA in Melbourne is squeezed into a very small shopping centre with no parking places for horse floats. Surprisingly, found a place on the road, and in to take a look.

What a frustrating place IKEA is! They don't seem to have any catalogues available for customers, only some printed ones in the shop. That's a mixed blessing: the entries in the catalogue don't seem to correspond to anything on the descriptions in the shop, and many things are missing in the catalogue. Within an hour we were almost at the point that we wanted to leave without buying anything, but we finally managed to put together quite a list of furniture, along with many light fittings, and finally managed to ring up a bill of nearly $3,000.

Picking up the goods was a completely different matter. The total weight of the goods was about 450 kg, including two individual packages weighing 55 kg each, one weighing 41 kg, and 6 weighing 40 kg—all over the internationally agreed maximum weight of 32 kg. You'd expect that safety regulations would require that two people handle them, but instead there was not even anybody to help; I had to wait in line at the help desk and ask somebody to help me. In addition, the trolleys provided for the transport have no brakes, which made it even more difficult to load them, and with a quarter of a ton of 2 metre long packages, they're almost unsteerable. Something needs to be done there.


Monday, 16 July 2007 Dereel
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Woke up in the middle of the night, freezing: the new heaters that I had bought on Saturday kept switching off due to overheating, maintaining about a 30% duty cycle. Since it happened to both of them, there's every reason to believe that it's a construction defect. I suppose the name Mistral should have been a warning. What a waste of time!

Off in the afternoon, mainly to visit Peter O'Connell, and also looked around for new heaters. Finally Bunnings to return the old heaters, which was not a problem, though apparently nobody else had reported any problems. Asked Darren at the heater department, who told me that this was a feature, not a bug, and that if I had a problem I should take it up with Mistral. Are people really this stupid? Why should I ever buy things from Bunnings?

Then my meeting with Peter—looks like we've netted more money from the sale of Wantadilla than I had expected.


Tuesday, 17 July 2007 Dereel Images for 17 July 2007
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For some reason, the second half of July is the occasion for a number of anniversaries, most of them a multiple of 5 years ago. Today is the first: 10 years ago today we moved into Wantadilla. A pity that we couldn't have made it exactly ten years there.

The morning was pretty cool, and Cliff Taylor arrived in late morning to tell us that the weather here was better than in Ballarat: all round the area, including the freeway, was covered in snow. So Cliff B (local radio amateur) was right when he said that the weather here is not as cold as in Ballarat.

It's evidently not as warm as in Wantadilla, though: Cliff Taylor tells me that some of the plants in the garden are daffodils, which haven't shown any buds yet. In Echunga they have already finished blooming.

Spent most of the afternoon putting together one of the IKEA cupboards, which went smoothly but slowly. One of the cleverest ideas I've seen in a long time was a little disposable tool for positioning the nails for the rear wall; when assembling other similar cupboards I have frequently missed the exact position and either not attached the back, or damaged the veneer in the cupboard.


Wednesday, 18 July 2007 Dereel
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Another anniversary today: as near as I can tell, it's been 50 years today since I returned to Australia for the first time, after flying round the world with my parents. Gradually I feel old.

Into Ballarat to do some shopping. The intention was to get food, but we didn't get much of that. We did look for German style bread, with a singular lack of success, and also for Asian ingredients, with little more success. We did find some Chinese cabbage, but only after some searching. Here they seem to be called Wombok, a name I've never heard before. Looking at the Google hits, it seems to be an Australian thing. It looks like we'll have to do a lot of our food shopping in Melbourne.

Somehow that took most of the day. Managed to put together another IKEA cupboard, but it's clear on the one hand that they need to be attached to the wall to be stable, and on the other hand that IKEA doesn't seem to have realized that nearly all Australian houses have skirting boards. Many manufacturers make cutouts for the skirting boards at the bottom of the cupboard back, but not IKEA. I'm still not sure how to handle the situation.


Thursday, 19 July 2007 Dereel
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More unpacking today. After some reflection, it's clear that we need to do further work on the IKEA cupboards, but on the other hand we also need to live, and Yvonne is leaving for Tasmania tomorrow. Decided to unpack the kitchen ware in the first lounge room, which we're calling “room 3” following the numbering we gave the movers (and which they almost completely ignored). That was relatively easy and had the great psychological advantage that the kitchen area is gradually beginning to look normal.


Friday, 20 July 2007 Dereel → Melbourne → Dereel
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Up early this morning through the fog to take Yvonne to the airport. Not early enough, though: we had planned 1½ hours from Ballarat to the airport, and that we should thus leave Ballarat at 9:0. In fact, we didn't get on the freeway until 9:26, making for some stress getting there on time, especially since we were taking the back way to the airport, via Bacchus Marsh, Diggers Rest and Bulla. Managed that despite all in just over 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Dropped Yvonne and headed into Melbourne to see what I could find easily. Down Sydney Road for the first time in 10 years, and found a supplier of bathroom fittings—I was looking for a shower cabin—with positively impossible prices. Looks like it's going to be fun finding what I'm looking for at a price even remotely comparable to what I would pay in Germany.

Then to the Victoria Market to buy some food, and was pleasantly surprised by the variety and the pricing. I'll have to come back here with Yvonne when she returns.

I since discovered that the market is closed on Mondays and Wednesdays. So much for that idea; Yvonne is due back on Monday, 30 July.

Back in Ballarat, did some minor shopping, but didn't get back home until 16:00, just in time to feed the dogs and tidy up the house, but not enough time for the cookery I had been planning, so whipped up some not very successful beef and broccoli, which Chris and I managed to finish off anyway.


Saturday, 21 July 2007 Dereel
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I'm on my own for the next ten days. What do I do? Where do I start?

I had intended to spend some time getting my computer configuration back to normal—I really can't come to terms with using a laptop all the time. First, though, I wanted to get the dish washer sorted out. It's been connected provisionally for several days now, and I had bought a 15A plug to connect it properly—only to find that 15A plugs also need 15A sockets. On reflection, it's probably better to get an electrician in and put in a dedicated circuit. In any case, removed the old dish washer and replaced it with ours, which gives a lot more space.

Then finally over to the Yeardleys—David has just got back from Siberia with his new girlfriend, Fifi—and set up the system to run under NAT. I'm not sure whether things have changed since I wrote The Complete FreeBSD, or whether there's an error in the section on NAT, but the correct syntax for running natd is:

natd -n <interface>

Apart from that, if you're running ipfw, the only thing really needed is the following entry in /etc/rc.firewall:

        ${fwcmd} add divert natd all from any to any via xl0

My current situation is: my main machines (echunga, wantadilla and battunga) are all on a private network with their old names and IP addresses, along with my laptop eucla and my Apple boskoop. In the near future I'll rename the first three to something reflecting Dereel, but the IP addresses will stay the same, and I'll add CNAMEs for the old names, just in case.

In the afternoon did some cooking. We have all the correct utensils, of course, but where? As a result, it took about twice as long as usual, but at least I am getting a feel for what needs to go where.


Sunday, 22 July 2007 Dereel
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Gradually things are getting more controlled. Didn't do much work on the house, and instead decided to go into Ballarat to hear the Ballarat Symphony Orchestra playing a number of interesting pieces, and in the process discovered I didn't know the overture to Offenbach's La belle Hélène. Performance was less than stellar, and in the process I noted how easy it is to determine when cellos have got out of time: the left hands are out of sync. Still, a pleasant afternoon, though for $20 maybe a little more than I'd want to pay for a performance of this quality.

Achim Patzner commented (in German) on a couple of things I have reported lately:


Monday, 23 July 2007 Dereel Images for 23 July 2007
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It's still freezing here, and I think it's having an effect on my well-being. Planned to call a lot of air conditioning companies, but first there were all sorts of dependencies to resolve: can the electrician who handles the electrical side of the installation also do the installation of the dish washer? Does our TV work? Can the same person fix the antenna installation if needed? What about the satellite installation? Why hasn't Gobush installed my satellite system yet? Will the satellite installation need a mast? Would that mast be a good idea for the TV antenna to go on the same mast?

First, though, I needed some phone numbers, so over to the Yeardley's to look at that. By the time I returned, I had just enough time to bring some water to the horses and feed the greyhounds (who, sadly, look like they're going to have to be put down; nobody wants them) before dinner. Why does everything take such a long time?

At dinner, had the first opportunity to try out the new sensor stuff on my new Panasonic microwave oven. Not a success, at least for the quantities that I tried:


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In each case, the cooking was far too vigorous. I should try again with exactly the quantities and things that the manufacturer intended, but I fear that I've blown the $30 for the difference in price between the model with sensor and the model without.


Tuesday, 24 July 2007 Dereel Images for 24 July 2007
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Finally got around to calling up the air conditioning people this morning. Looks like this house will pose some particular problems. Spent 20 minutes talking on the phone with one bloke who explained why domestic ducted air conditioning is so bad: to do it right requires individual return air. In principle, this suggests that individual heads in each room is the way to go; but what will that cost?

The first bloke came in mid-afternoon and took the multihead approach. It'll be interesting to see what prices he comes up with.

In the evening, over to the Yeardley's for dinner. They're moving into their new house too, and I got roped in to help move a new lounge room suite:


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David's new girlfriend, Fifi, did the cooking:


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We later discovered that it was her birthday. She was born the day before I met Yvonne, while I was moving from Voerde to Rosbach. Yet another late July anniversary.


Wednesday, 25 July 2007 Dereel Images for 25 July 2007
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The anniversaries continue: 25 years ago I met Yvonne on a hot Sunday afternoon in Frankfurt am Main. We couldn't have possibly imagined what lay in front of us.

I've been meaning to buy a digital SLR camera for some time now, and for the last several weeks I've been watching the prices of Olympus E-510 on eBay. It seems that there are four main contenders:

So that only left Cameta. Today, after another couple of hours of deliberation, finally took the plunge and ordered a camera set. When it came time to pay, I didn't get the offer of PayPal, only credit card and money order. Sent them a message asking how to pay by PayPal.

Back home, it seems that normal household chores have taken up all my time, and I achieved very little. What time I did have seems to have been taken up with this camera business.

Our first power failure in Dereel! A 2 second recloser event at 22:18. We've been here for 2½ weeks, so that's better than the once a week situation in Echunga, though clearly not statistically relevant.


Thursday, 26 July 2007 Dereel Images for 26 July 2007
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Somehow couldn't get under way this morning, and it was nearly midday before I got in to look at my mail, to discover, of course, that yesterday's power failure had taken the machines down, and for a number of reasons they didn't want to come back up again. The most complicated one was that nat was no longer working. The interface addresses were:

xl0: flags=8943<UP,BROADCAST,RUNNING,PROMISC,SIMPLEX,MULTICAST> mtu 1500
        options=9<RXCSUM,VLAN_MTU>
        inet6 fe80::210:5aff:fe75:8dad%xl0 prefixlen 64 scopeid 0x1
        inet 192.168.1.102 netmask 0xffffff00 broadcast 192.168.1.255
        ether 00:10:5a:75:8d:ad
        media: Ethernet autoselect (100baseTX <full-duplex>)
        status: active
xl1: flags=8843<UP,BROADCAST,RUNNING,SIMPLEX,MULTICAST> mtu 1500
        options=9<RXCSUM,VLAN_MTU>
        inet 192.109.197.137 netmask 0xffffff00 broadcast 192.109.197.255
        inet6 fe80::250:daff:fecf:735%xl1 prefixlen 64 scopeid 0x2
        ether 00:50:da:cf:07:35
        media: Ethernet autoselect (100baseTX <full-duplex>)
        status: active

Clearly, xl0 is the external interface—but tcpdump showed that all packets going out there had the address 192.109.197.137, even after I changed the address on the internal interface, and removed all reference to 192.109.197.137 from the routing table. My best guess is that natd keeps its own copy of the addresses, and needs restarting (or maybe just a HUP) to change them. Rebooting worked in my case, but that's rather drastic.

Not that FreeBSD is the only problem here: I have most of my machines on a KVM, normally switched to wantadilla, so boskoop, the Apple, came up with no display at all. I wonder if there's a way to fix that. The obvious one in the current situation is to put in the UPS that I have idling at home.

A reply (I think) from Cameta this morning, not quoting my message, and not answering the questions directly. The only thing of any use was the URL, which allowed me to pay for the camera with PayPal after all. What a pain these people are! If I was putting any price at all on my time, it would be cheaper to pay the $400 price difference and buy the camera in Australia.

While doing that, the Enter key on my keyboard decided to stick. What a pain! Removed it and a lot of fluff underneath, and after about 20 minutes it decided to work again.

Back home, another bloke to look at installing air conditioning. It's comforting that he came up with something close to what the first bloke offered, though he did have a couple of improvements. I'll be interested to see the pricing.

What with that and other things, didn't get much done, not even lunch. This camera purchase was a mistake: it's taking up far too much time.

In the evening, tried deep frying aubergine slices. The result was interesting:


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The taste was even more interesting, good but almost overpoweringly sweet. This must be the result of starch breakdown, but normally that would require amylases, which stop working below 75° (and decompose). Here the frying temperature was 190°. I wonder if it's something else.


Friday, 27 July 2007 Dereel Images for 27 July 2007
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The late July anniversaries culminated in a double anniversary today:

One of the things I need for the transfer of ownership of the house is a statutory declaration that this will be my principal residence; this saves me $500 on the fees. It needed to be witnessed by an honorary justice (what used to have the far nicer name “justice of the peace”), so off looking for one. Finding things like that here is not very promising, of course, but it proved that the closest was Loes Pearson, our next door neighbour, admittedly 1.6 km down the road on the other side of the lagoon. Got my declaration witnessed, but also a lot of information about Dereel: she's the current chairman of the town council.

Then into the Yeardley's office to discover an email in particularly emetic HTML from Cameta telling me that they had refunded my PayPal payment with the absurd claim:

Unfortunately, we are currently unable to accept payment via PayPal for your order. We cannot process your order at this time because we are unable to confirm your shipping address with PayPal. Your payment has been refunded and your order # 423077 has been reset in our system.

These people drive me mad! In addition, it's a very dubious practice. Apart from the fact that the statement is just plain wrong (the address I gave is marked as my home address in PayPal), this is a condition they imposed after the auction. Beforehand they said:

We do accept PayPal, as well as the following major credit cards: Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover cards (as long as we can get an address verification for the card). If you prefer we also accept Money Orders in US Funds (sorry, no personal checks, no Escrow Accounts and no COD).

Nothing there about address verification for PayPal, which was the only form of payment I was happy with.

They offered to take credit card, so I paid by credit card, then discovered the sting in the tail:

Provide a credit card payment (American Express, Visa, MasterCard, or Discover Card) on which you can provide an acceptable address verification document (i.e. bank monthly billing statement that includes your name, your billing address, your credit card number and the logo of the issuing bank.) Your order must ship to the billing address on the document. The verification document can be emailed to lizy@cameta.com or faxed to 1-631-957-4921.

I'm gradually getting quite frustrated. Sent them a message asking for clarification on a number of points.

So, is Cameta a bad sheep? They claim 190,000 positive feedbacks, but the real number that counts is the percentage. My personal criterion (only one of them) is that they 99% or more positive feedback is very good, 98% is OK. At the time of writing, Cameta has 99.8% positive feedback, which is quite good. Even their detailed ratings give 5 stars for their communication, which I really can't accept. The other three companies that I considered have similarly high feedback ratings.

What does this mean? As I see it, three things:

  1. People are far too easily satisfied. J&K Cameras have an even better feedback rating, for example, but they don't communicate by email.
  2. These problems are only of concern to people living outside the USA. But for me, at any rate, it's enough. I've spent lots of time on this and had nothing but frustration.
  3. Cameta is guilty of misleading information. I rejected DigitalCorp because they don't take PayPal; but it seems that Cameta doesn't really either. They just don't tell you until after you've committed to buy the item. That's certainly a good enough reason to steer clear of them, of course.

To leave no stone unturned, I called my bank to see if they could issue a statement stating that my current address was correct. As if to confirm the situation, they refused: this is not in accordance with their recommendations, and sending credit card statement information is not either. I was told to beware of fly-by-night eBay operators who want this kind of information.

Finally brought the lawn mower over from the Yeardley's, where it's been for 6 weeks, and started mowing the lawn. That brought on the rain, of course, but at least I have something to show for the last week's work.

In the evening, had another attempt to warm up food with the sensor option on my new Panasonic microwave oven. To be on the safe side, I chose a Linsensuppe that I made the other day, and which wouldn't be harmed by being overheated. The last time I wasn't sure that the weights were appropriate, so this time I weighed them out. 500 g is pretty much in the middle of the recommended range:


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Based on prior experience, I also selected less (i.e. less vigorous heating). To no avail: the thing boiled like fury and melted the plastic foil which covered the food. Humidity sensors sound like a good idea, but Panasonic clearly hasn't implemented it well yet.


Saturday, 28 July 2007 Dereel
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Cliff Taylor in this morning to pick up the greyhounds. Sadly, nobody wanted them, so they were destroyed.

In to the office this morning to discover no reply whatsoever from Cameta, just an indication that they had refunded the credit card payment as well. Given their responsiveness when they were trying to get me to buy something from them, this is of concern. In any case, I'm fed up with the people. Sent them a message telling them to cancel the purchase. My main reason for buying from them was because they claimed to accept PayPal. It's not acceptable for them to impose additional requirements after I have accepted the sale.

Back home and got marginally more work done, including most of the lawn mowing and concreting in the post for the letter box. Everything still seems to be taking so much longer than I want it to.


Sunday, 29 July 2007 Dereel Images for 29 July 2007
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Gradually things are changing around here. The Yeardleys arrived in force—now in addition to Fifi, we have Jana, a work experience student from Zevern in Germany—to pick up the round table. That was a lot of fun and required more planning than I expected, but in the end we had it installed in the new house.


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While doing that, people finally arrived to pick up the old washing machine.

Spent the afternoon tidying up the house to make it more presentable, then over to the Yeardleys again for another meal to celebrate the arrival of The Table:


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Monday, 30 July 2007 Dereel → Melbourne → Dereel
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To the airport today to pick up Yvonne, taking another back way via Mt Egerton and Ballan, which was reasonably picturesque, but proved not to be any faster than driving through Ballarat. After picking her up, decided to go into town to see if there was anything of interest, and missed the turnoff before entering Citylink, the toll freeway into town. And toll it is! It costs $11.90 minimum, and in our case didn't even help, dumping us at the south of the town where I've yet to be able to find a good way into the CBD. How did people manage to make such a mess of the traffic?

Our destination in Melbourne was the Queen Victoria Market, which Yvonne had never seen. We didn't see much today either: it was closed.

Back home via Ballarat and did our shopping there, including cheese for a fondue de fromage. They didn't have any real Gruyère, but there was a Tasmanian imitation that tasted quite good, so bought that. It wasn't a success: it tasted lumpy, too salty and boring. It looks like there's really no substitute for the real thing.


Tuesday, 31 July 2007 Dereel
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Into town
Topic: general Link here

Into town in the middle of the day to talk to my investments advisor; somehow that tears the day in half. Also bought a new battery for the Magna.


First dinner in Dereel
Topic: food and drink, general Link here

In the evening, finally had our first “real” meal in the new house, inviting the Yeardleys over. We were so busy that we forgot to take any photos.


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