Where is it made? Advertising implies NZ, but the box says China.

We upgraded the kids’ beds to King Single… because they’re both getting big.

Unfortunately the place I bought the excellent old bunk beds years ago (“Chunky Pine Bunks”) seems to have closed down… a real shame because all I wanted was fairly plain, but really sturdy beds.

I hunted around and eventually found these:

Bed advertised on web site

Good price, looked sturdy. I went in and checked them out in person, and they looked okay, so ordered them.

When they arrived, I noted that unlike the advertisement above which implies they are made in NZ, they are actually made in China.

Box from bed

I’ve got no problem with the quality of them; so far they’ve been fine. And frankly, the price was right.

But I’m not sure how I feel about the advertising implying they’re made in NZ, when they’re not.

Of course it’s possible that the wood originates in NZ but is shipped to China for construction. Or perhaps it’s some type of wood that is known as New Zealand Pine?

Oh well. Just one of those things I suppose.

I guess the message here is that if the country of origin is important, be sure to ask — don’t trust the advertising, especially if it’s a bit vague.

Robot vacuum cleaners

I was chatting to a work colleague about birthdays, the amazing fact that we’re now well into the 21st century, and what happened to the promise of robots who would do the housework?

Of course, we have dishwashers, clothes washers, dryers… and then she said she has one of those robot vaccuum cleaners. Apparently it works wonders in a flat with floorboards and cats that leave hair everywhere.

It gets switched-on when leaving for work. It roams around the house (I guess the cats are used to it) and then returns itself to its charging station.

Apparently it handles rugs okay, and given I have floorboards (but no cats), I’m wondering if it might be a good Christmas present to myself.

The base models from the excellently named iRobot company appear to cost about $400, judging from Harvey Norman’s list.

Previously I’ve been wary of these things as being an expensive gimmick. But I wonder if the technology is sufficiently advanced now that they are reliable and effective enough to provide some genuine benefits for the cost.

Anybody else have one? What do you think of it? Are they as good as the reviewers on the HN web site claim?

Oh no! Home Interwebs is down

Disaster! No internet at home.

Yesterday iiNet/Netspace had major outage in Victoria. It was eventually fixed, but even after a modem reboot we couldn’t get back online.

Then I noticed the home phone (yes, I still have one of those) was getting no dial tone. My assumption initially was that this was just an unhappy coincidence; I’m unclear as to how a widespread ISP outage would somehow affect a home phone line.

So I rang Telstra, whose call centre person (offshore, I’m assuming, given how scrupulously polite she was) ran through some basic checks before declaring a tech will need to look at the lines on the street.

That will apparently take until Wednesday or Thursday. Sigh.

Netspace support was closed last night by the time I got around to looking at things, but I’ll try and reach them this morning to see if anything can be done from their end.

Until then, apart from limited mobile use, I guess we’re cutoff from the outside world.

Update lunchtime: Got hold of iiNet support; they can’t see a problem that would affect the phone line, but asked me to check the sync light on the modem. Since I’m not at home, they suggested they could ring me back tonight (at 8:39pm to be precise) to go through it with me. Cool.

Update 6pm: Text message from Telstra a couple of hours ago to say all is resolved, and it appears to be so. Woo hoo!

New toy: hedgetrimmer

A cheap and cheerful hedgetrimmer, $50 at Bunnings.

Daniel's hedgetrimmer

To be used for occasional trimming of hedges (well duh) in between visits from Andy, my trusty gardener… specifically around the back of the house, where sometimes the hedges grow so fast it feels like the open space in the garden is getting a little smaller everyday.

No, I don’t plan to go all Edward Scissorhands and do any topiary… though having looked at some of the examples on the Wikipedia entry for it, I reckon it’d be pretty funny to develop one that was, say, Dalek-shaped.

The noise

Two mysterious noises have become apparent in the last few months. Both are virtually imperceptable in the daytime, but at night, in my quiet street, I can hear them from my bedroom.

First there was the humming. It started sometime last year. It doesn’t seem to be in the house anywhere – I tried turning off all the power one night at the fuse box, and I could still hear it. No, it’s not coming from the Smart Meter. It might be some way off but resonating with something nearby, as often I can merely tilt my head slightly and I can no longer hear it.

More recently a kind of “gloop” sound has started from somewhere on the bathroom-side of my bedroom. I assume it’s the drains doing something weird, as when it first started occurring, I checked and double checked there were no leaking taps.

Happily neither of these keep me awake at night. But I’m intrigued.

Pest control

Bug bombThis blog post is mostly for my own purposes, to mark when I bug-bombed the house, which I have done over the weekend.

I last did it about 5 years ago, and it seemed to be relatively effective… for a while. But over this past summer, there seems to have been about a cockroach per week popping up, so it was time to get it done again.

I do wonder though if I shouldn’t be investigating (or rather, paying someone else to investigate) where they’re coming from. Is there (for want of a better term) some kind of cockroach nest nearby? Ugh.

In the meantime, I’ve also found for the first time in years that mice are getting into some of the kitchen cupboards. They’ve nibbled away at a packet of flour, and left droppings in one of the drawers. I’ve put down some poison, which they seem to have happily devoured. Again though, I don’t really know where they’re coming from.

Yallourn: impressively big, but inefficient

On the way back from Walhalla, we decided (at Peter’s suggestion) to go via Yallourn. He said there was a lookout with a good view over the Latrobe Valley, and the power plants, and the road through Yallourn was very close to one of them..

We started off by diverting off the road to a spot called Peterson’s lookout. This turned out to be a long narrow dirt road to a view which, you’d have to say, wasn’t outstanding — but reading up on it now it sounds like we needed to go a little further down the road for the real view.

In any case there was a better more-accessible view a bit further along, on the main road itself. Looking over the Valley, you could see a fair bit of haze, and many smokestacks in various directions.

(Andrew Highriser actually posted just yesterday about who owns which power station.)

We drove on, stopping briefly in the town of Yallourn North, which apparently originally opened as the romantically named “Brown Coal Mine” in 1917, and was renamed in 1947. There’s still a Brown Coal Mine Road leading into the eastern side of town, though the signs seem to have disappeared in favour of the less descriptive C103.

Big cooling towers

A little further on was the power station itself. It looms, huge, over the road. We stopped off in the viewing area, which has a picnic barbecue, powered by — you guessed it — electricity.

The cooling towers are impressively large.

Of course, they often shows these on the news when talking about carbon emissions, even though (as I understand it) it’s steam that comes out of them, not the smoke from burning coal.

Down the road a bit was an open cut mine viewing area. It’s not hard to see how decades of mining for coal has ravaged the landscape. It ain’t beautiful, that’s for sure.

Latrobe Valley power stations

But one could argue that farms of wind turbines or solar panels or dams aren’t beautiful either. You know, eye of the beholder and all that.

The real problem is the emissions. Yallourn isn’t as dirty as Hazelwood, but as this table notes, coal sits at about 1000 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour over the lifecycle of the generator, compared with about 10 for wind or hydroelectric, or 32 for solar.

Grams CO2/Kilowatt hour

In other words, even the cleanest coal is much, much dirtier than renewables.

And while there might be doubts about a single renewable source being able to provide baseload power, other countries such as Germany are using a variety of sources, with a stated aim of 35% renewable electricity by 2020, and 80% by 2050. Impressive stuff, and I bet we get more sun than they do.