I bought a new heater this week, much to the amusement of my friends who live in Victoria. Of course they have no idea how cold it can get up here in the deep north in the depths of winter. They think that we only use it to dry clothes or to prove bread, having little or no understanding of Queensland domestic architecture. Little do they know that whilst our houses stay wonderfully cool during the summer months, they don’t work as well as the days grow shorter. A few mornings last week felt more like Mawson than Manly so I decided to buy a new heater. Naturally I went for the most fuel efficient, dolphin friendly, bio-degradable, gluten free and earth sustainable one I could find. It is a mere coincidence that this also happened to be the cheapest. It was with some trepidation that I opened it when I got home, expecting that It would require some audience participation tool time, before it would start to warm me. Ikea has much to answer for. To my great surprise {and relief} it came already assembled. All I had to do was plug it in, complete a PhD in electronics so I could understand the controls and I was good to go! I ask you, why does a heater need 15 different settings including a ‘Mode’ selector? I only need a heater to have two ‘Modes’. Off and heat coming out.

But oh no, as it is the marketing department that design all appliances these days this simple little heater it took me 40 minutes to work out how all the controls worked except how to turn it on. Until I discovered two things. The first was a tiny on/off switch hidden at the back and the second was a remote control! Yes even heaters now can be adjusted without getting up from the couch.

Little wonder that this country has an obesity problem. Every single electrical appliance can now be worked with only troubling a few tiny muscles in your fingers. Of course that is if you can understand how to work the remote. If I ever get around to filling in my profile on LinkedIn, working remotes is not a skill I will be claiming. After many hours of instruction I can now turn the TV on and off, change channels, adjust the volume and, if I am well rested, even look at the screen that shows you what is on. And so now I understand why they don’t sell ‘the TV times’ anymore. Why the TV remote has 250 buttons on it is beyond me. I only use 5 of them. There are also two other remotes lurking around the TV but I am not game to ask for fear of ridicule what they do. (I thought one was for the video but apparently we haven’t had a video player since 2003.) They must be for those other boxes with lights on them under the TV. God knows what they do; maybe that is how the kids watch all those really old TV shows. Astounding when you think about it. They invent all this great new technology that allows you to watch episodes of ‘Friends’ made 15 years ago. I would have thought the old Video player would have done the same thing! So anyway now I have a heater that I can turn on or off (or change modes if I knew what that was) without standing up. I recently put a new stereo in Oceans. Fibreglass yachts make perfect boom boxes with 4 new speakers in them and the quality and volume of the sound (noise?) is remarkable. And it came with a remote! Great I thought – I and only I can control the music from the helm and if anything recorded after 1985 starts playing I can stop it and put some real music on. Except the remote doesn’t work from up on deck. You have to be down below, pointing it at the stereo to work. Which means that you aren’t more than 2 steps away from the stereo and may as well just use the controls on the set? Except there aren’t any. You have to use the remote. Now in this age of miniaturisation this remote is the size of my thumb and naturally I can never find it so I just have to suffer through the occasional 90’s rubbish waiting for a track from my youth to come on. I think I will have to learn how to make a play list. It never ends does it?

The new stereo will get a work out with motivational tracks as we motor to the start of the 8th Brisbane to Keppel Yacht Race this Thursday. Yes folks it is 12 months since we lifted the first place trophy at the end of last year’s race and we are hoping for back to back wins this weekend. I am however grasping some technology with both hands and will be posting regular updates on the Southern Cross Yachting Facebook page! Yes I can now work Facebook (well I can post things anyway} so stand-by as we update or progress in the race to a breathless waiting world. Make sure you ‘like’ the Southern Cross Yachting FB (that’s Facebook slang for ‘Facebook’ BTW – I am all over this) page to read about our adventures.

We may not teach you about remotes but you will learn more about electronic navigation in our shorebased theory courses. We have included a greater emphasis on chart plotters and electronic nav in these courses and we have places available for the day skipper theory course 27 to 31 October 2014.

And the Coastal Skipper/Yachtmaster theory course 19 to 22 August 2014.

We also have plenty of places on our weekend courses so get out and enjoy this magnificent winter weather. That’s all for this edition, talk to you all later in the week on FB. Or if you like try me on the MP (Mobile Phone). Full report in my next newsletter

Mike Job

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