Life’s a bitch, and then you die (goodbye Shirley)

I had some sobering news tonight.

I have very few ‘life’ friends. Four probably. One is the brother of my wife who I have known since I was about 16-ish. The second, like the first, is from my home town. He is a Christian (is Christian supposed to have a capital?, I am not sure, it seems like it should) but I try not to hold that against him. Another is the son of my sister, but, as things have worked out I rarely see him these days. The fourth and final is someone I have referenced in previous posts as Dr. Mike (but he is not a doctor) and Dr. Mike has inclusion body myositis, or IBM, which has basically ruined his life to the point that his life now moves between being in bed and being in a wheelchair.

Well tonight I found out that the wife of my Christian friend lost her fight for life at around 5:00 a.m. Friday morning. Cancer got her. Although as my friend would probably point out, cancer does not actually directly kill anyone, but the collateral damage cancer causes is what kills.

After finding out this news tonight, which was kind of unexpected because my family were not really that aware of how bad her condition was, we all had a few glasses of wine—my wife (who does not drink), myself, my son, and my son’s girlfriend (neither of whom drink).

I was kind of surprised how much my son’s girlfriend, who did not really know Shirley that well, was affected.

I have tears rolling down my eyes now as I punch this up.

As I indicated, Shirley’s family (her husband, my friend, and her son) are Christians. Solid, total, 100%, Christians. For them the passing of Shirley is probably not as emotional as it is for us. Their view is most likely that Shirley has gone to a far more beautiful and peaceful place than here. She will be with past friends and relatives.

For us mere mortals that don’t have the amazing and enviable strength of faith, the passing of Shirley is not that easy to accept.

Shirley was one of those amazing people who thought the best of everything and everyone. She was very positive. She always saw the best. She took in and looked after many foster children during her short stay on this spinning rock we call Earth. I have close to first hand insight into one of her attempts to make life better for another troubled and damaged human being in this world.

She was an amazing wife to my friend. Only those who know can appreciate her understanding and love.

God I hope there is a heaven because Shirley totally and completely deserves to be there.

BarryMark

Unique daily visitors to my site plummeting

I never expected to get massive numbers of people visiting my site. When I started I was maybe expecting to hit the 1,000 mark after a couple of years. 1,000 unique visitors per day out of 2.4 billion estimated users of the Internet did not seems to be too hard a target to hit.

The theory is that the longer you have a site up and the more you post then gradually the number of unique visitors will climb.

Good theory.

For 2014 my highest unique count was 335 unique visitors on January 17th.

The last seven days have been: 174, 184, 131, 137, 145,155, and 76.

Yep. That last count was 76. That is not a mistake.

BarryMark

Uniques about to fall below 100

Sadly I have to report that the number of daily unique visitors to my site is about to fall below 100. It would seem that the days of unique visitor counts up around 250 are long gone.

This is probably partially due to my slack posting numbers over the last six months or so, and probably also partially due to the somewhat boring posts I have been doing.

When you consider that I am competing with something like 600 million other discrete Web sites, plus 88 million Tumblr blogs, plus 60 million Wordpress blogs, then I guess my site is very small target in a massive collections of sites people can visit and I can’t really expect a high number of unique visitors.

If anyone has any idea on how I can get more visitors to my site then please let me know.

BarryMark

The approaching extinction of the AFR newspaper

To me it seems to be that it is getting increasingly difficult to find the Australia Financial Review (AFR) newspaper these days at the newsagents.

AFRBanner

Most weekdays while I am away at site working I pick up an AFR newspaper in the evening when I go back into town. It amuses the attendant at the newsagent where I go that I refer to the AFR as ‘the most depressing paper on the planet’. I usually walk in and ask if they have any of those ‘seriously depressing newspapers’ left and these days she knows exactly what I am referring to.

Having the AFR gives me something to flick through while I suck down those first couple of nice cold beers when I get to the motel. Nothing like a depressing read to improve a beautiful drink of good beer.

I find the AFR even goes very well with a glass of red wine.

But lately, over the last three or four months, I miss out on my depressing read at least one day in the four days I am away at site. There are none left at the local newsagent. There is a second newsagent in the country town where I stay but most times there is no point in going down there. They won’t have any left either.

Then, on top of this, back in the big city on the weekend I am having more and more trouble getting the Weekend Edition of the AFR and the Weekend Edition of the AFR is my favourite weekend newspaper. It is usually cock-a-block full of depressing reading about the economy.

This weekend I went to my local newsagent to put on Saturday lotto and pick up the weekend AFR. You guessed it. No AFRs left. So I drove about three kilometres to the recently refurbished newsagent down on Lesmurdie Road. Same outcome. No AFRs left. The girl tells me they had sold out of AFRs by about 10:00 a.m.

So now I am faced with going to the newsagent in the main village at Kalamunda. Crap! Parking is usually at a premium in the village on a Saturday. I brave it. But I need not have bothered. No AFRs there either.

This is not a cheap newspaper. At $4.30 compared to the weekly Western Australian newspaper it is downright expensive as newspapers go.

So what is happening to the AFR newspaper?

There are only two reasonably logical explanations. Either (a) the publishers of the AFR are purposefully making the newspaper scarce in order to force the readership to purchase their ridiculously expensive on-line subscription (AUD$69.95 per month) or (b) the numbers of people reading the AFR have increased significantly but the newsagents have not increased their door drop-off count.

I think it is (a). I think the publishers are trying to make those people who are fence sitting about taking out an on-line subscription decide to go ahead and do it. But $69.95 per month works out to $840 per year. Okay. This does work out cheaper than buying the newspaper every day. Buying the AFR five days a week and the Weekend Edition would come to something like $1134 per year. So based on that the on line subscription works out as $300 cheaper actually. But $69.95 per month for on-line access to the AFR still seems a little steep to me.

Maybe if they did an annual subscription for $500 I might dive in. Maybe. But even $42 per month seems a tad expensive too.

In the meantime I am just going have to put up with missing out on getting the most depressing paper on the planet for a relaxing read a couple of times a week.

BarryMark

HSD: Jessops UK goes bust

The Jessops camera and general electrical retailer in the UK has gone bust. Jessops will be closing all 187 stores across the UK and parts of Europe over the next couple of weeks. 1,370 ‘permanent’ staff, and about half as many casual and commission workers, will lose their jobs.

Anyone like me who has been involved in photography for a long time will know of Jessops. They started out as a private company a long time ago catering for anyone who used a camera. Long before the Internet I have bought a few things via snail mail from Jessops back when you had to organise a bank cheque on a bank in the other country in order to buy overseas.

Sometime in the late 90s Jessops started to sell other electrical goods but still mainlined in photographic equipment.

Sometime around about ten years ago they went public.

Maybe going public was their downfall, or maybe it is just the general decline of specialist camera retailers and the end of shop-based photo-processing (for negative and slide film) that got them.

Sort of makes you wonder what sort of shape local specialist camera retailers like Camera House are in . . . doesn’t it?

BarryMark

Schoolies: 38 percent of girls will have ‘unexpected sex’

Watching the news (here in Australia) over the last week there has been a lot of bad press about the end-of-year schoolies parties all around the country, and especially in Queensland and New South Wales. In a report last night they told us that 38 percent of girls at these schoolies gatherings will have ‘unexpected sex’.

Firstly, as with all such statistics, I always wonder how they worked this out. I am not disputing it, but really, how would they arrive at this? Do they do some kind of schoolies break exit poll? Does someone ring up a sample set of a thousand or so of girls they know went on a schoolies get-away and ask them if they had sex?

Anyway, what I really want to know is what is ‘unexpected sex’?

And if 38 percent of girls will be engaging in unexpected sex then what percentage of them plan to have sex?

Oh well. Back when I was at school we had no such worries. There was no such thing as these end-of-year ‘schoolies’ parties. Things were much simpler and safer.

BarryMark

Titbit: Going to be Perth’s Driest July on Record (2012)

Anybody who has been listening to the news on TV over the last week or so will already know this but I just thought it was worth jotting it down really quickly. Assuming there is no ‘useful’ rain over the next five days, and the weather bureau are not expecting any, then Perth (in Western Australia, Australia) is going to experience its driest July since 1876; which was around about when regular weather records for Perth were started.

Don’t believe me? Check out this article at the Weather Channel or this one at The West.

The previous lowest for July was about 62mm.

The average for July is 170mm.

But this July so far we have had less than 28mm—less than half the previous lowest rainfall.

As Winter comes to an end (there is one month to go) the metropolitan dams are barely at 30 percent capacity.

This is bad news all around. It means the Water Corporation is going to have to pull every gallon they can from the precious, and rapidly dwindling, underground aquifer reserves. And even this is not going to be enough to cover the amount of water used by Perth and surrounds last year.

This just underlines the fact that we live in the driest city, which happen to be in the driest state, which—as it happens—is part of the most arid country on the planet.

Strewth! . . . If it was illegal to wash your car using a running hose last year then it is probably going to be illegal to even wash your car with a bucket this year. There is going to be lots of dirty cars driving around.

Barry’s Tip: Don’t expect the price of water to go down any time soon.

BarryMark

Australia’s 30 Year Resources Boom is Over After Just Five Years

You saw it here first in a “Titbit” I posted on the 21st of March (here) titled—“Titbit: 30 Year ‘Mining’ Boom Might Only Last 5 Years”. Now we hear that Deloitte Access Economics declares Australia’s mining boom is coming to an end (here).

It was not that long ago that state and federal governments were telling us all (here in Australia) in a very loud voice at every chance they got that Australia was at the start of a 30+ year resources boom. This proclamation was based on the double-digit growth happening in China and forecast to begin happening in India, with Australia poised to enjoy the subsequent demand for our mineral and energy resources that this growth would drive.

From about 2005 to 2010 the price of iron ore climbed to giddying heights and most other resource prices followed it up. But then the impossible happened. Something that was not supposed to happen for another 20 to 25 years. China’s growth started to slow; dramatically. It fell out of double-digits. But even then the ‘experts’ advised it was only a temporary blip and China’s growth would soon go back into double-digits. But it didn’t. It continued to slow.

By mid-2011 China had shut down a third of its cargo ship building industry and its internal appetite for steel had fallen by 30 percent.

By Q1 of 2012 China’s growth was in the low 9s and in Q2 of 2012 it was below 9 as both America and Europe’s demand for steel declined to ten year lows.

The experts now have very different views of China’s growth for 2012 with some forecasting it could fall below 6 percent in 2013. Not quite what was expected for a growth rate that was supposed to remain in double-digits for the better part of a generation.

So the bottom line is that with both resource prices (especially iron ore and aluminium/alumina) and demand for resources falling consistently over the last 12 months Australia’s “boom” curve has well and truly fallen back to what might be referred to as business-as-usual levels.

The big miners, BHPB and Rio Tinto, have massively increased production with both announcing production records for FY12. However due to the significant reduction in the profit margin on iron ore these record production numbers are not expected to result in record profits. In fact for both miners their profits from the previous two years are expected to be better than this year’s profit.

So the question is “What does this mean for Australia?”

I don’t know what the answer is but I have this uneasy feeling we are not going to like it. But then, you never know, something could happen in the next couple of years to push resources back up and the boom might come back (insert *cough* here).

BarryMark

HSD: FHM Australia Has Closed—but UK Site Still Going

Regular readers will know that FHM Australia published the last copy of their magazine in April this year (here). In that magazine they said they would be focussing their attention on the Web site.

I just went to the FHM Australia Web site, as I do probably about once a month, just to see how the other half are living, and this is what I got . . .

FHMhasclosed

Seriously . . . I kid you not!

FHM is CLOSED in Australia.

FHMhasclosed2

It seems that the general availability of gazillions of ‘free’ bare booby sites all over the Web has killed off FHM Australia. Not that FHM Australia ever once actually showed bare boobies. But they did often feature babes in sexy high heels—which can sometimes be just about as good.

I know you are going to say “Oh yeah! Sure! As if . . .” when I jot this down, but I actually bought the occasional FHM, and went to the site now and then, to read the articles. Honest Indian I did.

Oh well. I can delete the FHM Australia site from my OneNote page of links to check from time to time.

FHM-MilaKunisInterestingly, as far as I can work out, all the other country issues of FHM are still alive and well, including the issues for Russia, China, Spain, India, and the good old UK.

Yep! The FHM UK site, which I understand is where FHM started off (but feel free to correct me on this if I am wrong), is still there. They currently have a small feature on Mila Kunis who apparently has different coloured eyes: her right eye is green and her left eye is brown (although they both look brown to me in the picture at right).

They UK site even has a dedicated ‘app’ for Android so I might have to download that onto my Acer Iconia Tablet and see how it works out. I would add that most free magazine ‘apps’ I have downloaded have been pathetic and I have simply uninstalled them about a day later.

BarryMark

Titbit: Someone Diagnosed with Diabetes Every 5 Minutes in Australia

Just on ABC 24 News they just said that in Australia this year so far someone was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes every five minutes!

That’s 12 per hour. That is 288 per day; 1,240 per month.

HSD (holy snapping duckshit).

You are 800 times more likely in any given week to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes than you are to win first division Saturday lotto!!

HSD*2 (double holy snapping duckshit).

The causes of type 2 diabetes are interesting. Back when I was diagnosed some three years ago now (I have been pricking my fingers four times a day for three years—no wonder I gave up the guitar) I did a bit of research on the causes. There are a lot of theories about the causes of type 2 diabetes including:

  1. Being overweight (most likely).
  2. Insufficient exercise (likely, and sort of linked to #1).
  3. Not eating enough salt over a long term (possible).
  4. Consumption of artificial sweeteners and in particular aspartame-based sweeteners (limited evidence).
  5. Consumption of large amounts of sugar even if you are not overweight [#1] and do get sufficient exercise [#2] (likely).
  6. Alcoholic drinks and especially abuse of high proof spirits (possible).
  7. Prescribed medications such as beta blockers and statins (likely).

I am sure there are many more but these are some that I researched.

BarryMark