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My mobile phone succumbed to the White Screen of Death this morning. This is not a huge problem — wireless coverage is...how can I put this?...incomplete in this part of the world, so I don’t rely on the phone for everyday communication — but it is an inconvenience. I like to have a mobile phone for emergencies. (Only useful as long as those emergencies occur in an area with wireless coverage, of course, so do try to keep them close to the towers. Thank you for your attention.) So I had to replace it. And as much as I’d like to tell a heroic tale of triumphing against the odds, it was all very straightforward. The people at the Telstra Shop (not run by Telstra) in Atherton provide excellent service. Also, the shop has Antarctic levels of airconditioning. This is a winning combination.
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Port Hedland in Western Australia has just had a visit from Tropical Cyclone Heidi. The forecasts indicate decent rainfalls in the central west of WA before the low decays completely. That’s good news for the deserts (Gibson, Victoria and Sandy major and minor). The north-west coast catches a lot of cyclones. Some of them are monsters. Severe TC Olivia (April, 1996) produced the strongest (non-tornado) wind gusts on record: 408 km/h at Barrow Island. Vance (March, 1999) not only caused extensive wind, rain and storm surge damage around Exmouth, but managed to keep the gales going as is it meandered across the continent to the Great Australian Bight. There have been plenty more.*
Mix these frequent storms with the characteristically laconic attitude of northern Westralians and you get news reports like this:
The ABC's Elise Batchelor lives in Port Hedland and says Heidi packed winds of up to 150km per hour in the height of the storm.
"We've got a smashed pot or two; I've got chimes going mad and in fact the man hole in our house up in the ceiling has been lifted off by the pressure of the wind," she said.You can have a bit of fun looking at the tracks of cyclones in the Australian region (data to 2006 – 2007).
* And I’d mention them if I could get an internet connection that lasted for more than a few seconds
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Oh, for crying out loud, Telstra. Just give me a consistent connection. I’m contending with rolling phases of dodginess. Just when I think there’s a pattern — drop outs during peak periods in school hols, maybe — it all changes. It’s clearly non-random, because the drop outs are clustered. But this isn’t Bletchley Park. I can’t crack this Enigma code of intermittent ADSL connection.
Did I mention that it is really hot here today? And. I. Am. Not. In. The. Mood. For. This. Nonsense.