Friday, September 04, 2015

Train Wreck

I vividly remember the Boxing Day Tsunami. What surprised me was how hard it hit Sri Lanka. The force of the water overturned things such as trains in Sri Lanka. Trains are big and heavy yet even they are susceptible to extreme weather events, such as this video taken during a tornado in the US state of Illinois shows.


Thursday, September 03, 2015

A change is flagged

You know this flag.


I am sure you know this one, using my own photo.


 How about this one, also my own?


But to which countries do these flags belong? Yes, I am writing to an international audience. They are clearly former English colonies which have not cut the cord to their origins. Well, one of the below has actually. I am not sure if it has been formalised.




The first flag is New Zealand's, the second Australia's and the third, Fiji's.

New Zealand is going to vote on a new flag and here are their options if the change goes ahead. I am afraid the second one is a non runner, for me at least, and the choice is down to three terrific contenders.  I'll go for the first, which encompasses the red and blue of New Zealand's recent British heritage, the fern leaf, perhaps tenuously suggesting its earlier settlers and certainly its flora and the southern cross star constellation. As just a flag that doesn't represent much, I like the third one too.


There have been murmurs in the past about our own flag. In fact it was once high on the political agenda but the political will died and general apathy set it in. There is always an almost dead soldier who can be good for a news grab who will say in a tremulous voice, I fought for this country under this flag. I ask you foreign types, what could represent Australia on a flag? and don't say a spider or snake. S'pose Australian opinion is welcome too. No prisoner image in shackles please but I think we need to include in the flag a reference to those who have been here longer than than we more recent settlers.

Disappointingly, it seems by opinion polls of those who will vote, that there is not a clamour to change the flag in New Zealand. Seems like New Zealand's change the flag was just political posturing. Shame really.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Pedantry

I am not particularly pedantic. I like written words to be correct but to me it is far more important that people write, no matter how badly they do so. They will improve with experience, as I have over the period of my blog. I cringe at times when I read some of my early posts. Yet still in almost every blog post of mine, I make a mistake, mostly typos now. English is not easy. Sometimes I change one word in my blog and suddenly sentences become nonsense. So much else has to be changed to get the tense and grammar correct.

I am rather bemused by the title Melbourne Writers Festival.  Shouldn't there be an apostrophe in Writers? Shouldn't it be after the s? For any other festival I would not think it odd, as stylistically and on signage it looks nicer without punctuation. But you know, these are writers and surely professional writers should have their writing right and the apostrophe should be used?

The Melbourne Writers' Festival banners have come down and Melbourne Spring Fashion Week has cleverly avoided any apostrophe issue.

Within these temporary walls erected at great expense is a catwalk for models to parade. I await the tv coverage of the male underwear parade.


Monday, August 31, 2015

What a swell party it was

Dear Dame M,

Gosh, it is seven years since you died. How times flies. I think of you often and what your friendship meant to so many people and especially us. You'll be pleased to know your little gang still all catch up with each other every so often. Let me think, you were 82 when you died, so you would now be 89. I think you may have become crabby by the time you reached that age, so maybe just as well you went a bit early. You were already quite imperious you know. There has been an English show on tv called Downton Abbey. You would have enjoyed it and done as well in the role of The Dowager Countess of Grantham, played by Maggie Smith.

Anyway, through you we came to know our friend Brighton Antique Dealer. Can you believe she has turned 80. We had a great celebration on Friday night for her birthday at a place called Masque, just walking distance from us in Park Street. BAD has not changed much but she now lives a medium rise retirement enclave not far up the same street as her shop house, which she sold. Haha, I remember how regal you looked as you descended her stairs on her electric stair chair. You should have had a ciggie in one hand and a martini in the other.

Do you remember BAD's daughter, the dyke, daughter of her first Arab husband? Btw, he died a year or so ago in Daylesford. BAD was surprisingly distressed. Remember what BAD said when she first saw her first husband undressed? She thought my god, that monster is not going to fit anywhere. She has a son, but by a different father, and the son was living with his what I guess is kind of his step father. He sounds like a bit of a loser. Ah yes, the daughter. Well, she organised the event and she did a great job. It was an open bar and I suppose there were over fifty people there and plenty of finger food too. It must have cost a bomb. Gee, I doubt I would have fifty people at my funeral, let alone rustle up fifty people for a party when I am eighty.

Your boarder of thirty years attended of course, in the guise of Jasmine. Naturally Jazzie had to do a couple of numbers. She is quite amateurish, but she looked great and the straights loved her. I took photos. Speaking of which, I had to check when you died and I had forgotten I put a few photos of you on my blog. Take a look here. Commenters on the post back there are no longer readers of my blog. Such is the way of the world Dame M, but you are the last person who ever needed educating about ways of the world.

At your funeral your Boarder made a speech, a very long one, as he pranced back and forth across the stage in full flight and was eventually the metaphorical crook with a hook came out, and he was hauled off. His speech at BAD's birthday party was equally torturous, but mercifully short. BAD's daughter made a brief speech with her mother at her side and BAD became quite emo. BAD has endured some personal hardship since you departed, but of course, what hardship is there really when you have money. Insurance paid for her flooded shop house, health insurance paid for top care for her broken bones when she fell.

Never a problem for you Dame M, who arrived at parties late, held court and then departed before things became messy, but I find parties so hard and try to avoid them. But BAD's party was really great. We even danced. Remember our black friend and your boarder's hairdresser friend? They both had a bit to drink and the more they had the more uninhibited their dancing became. Oh, but here is a downer you might not know, the hairdresser had cancer and a double mastectomy. She disconnected from us all from diagnosis to full recovery. Just her way of dealing with it.

Did you know your house has been divided up into rather nice flats? The upstairs flats are still there but your house and the downstairs flat have been turned into about five flats. I peered through windows before they were sold and there are still bits of your house there such as the lounge room mantle piece and the arch from the dining room to the lounge room. Great that your house wasn't demolished.

Anyway darls,
missing you heaps,
Andrew.





Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sunday Selections

I haven't participated in River's Sunday Selections for a bit. Here is this Sunday's contribution of a mixture of photos.

Work on the new building behind and attached to the old Albert Park Manor continues in a leisurely manner. As we can't find any mention of apartments for sale at this address, we assume it will return to being a boutique hotel.


I removed the cheap dvd player with a non functioning remote control.


I replaced it with our new cheap dvd/blue ray player. But why is it so far back?


The tv is wall mounted and to hide wires between the cabinet and the tv, the wires go into the wall behind the unit and then out of the wall behind the tv. A professional did this and there was one more piece of equipment once connected when it was done. I removed the excess wires with great difficulty and dragged the HDMI cable I already had through the wall and out again. That sounds so simple, but it wasn't. It took about half an hour and a lot of sweat. It is tight space within the external wall and with obstructions. Now there are just three HDMI cables and one power cord in the wall. I wish they would advance with wireless in a hurry.

Anyway, job done I thought, but then I realised the HDMI cable was too short and that is why the dvd player is at the back. I didn't want to go through dragging a longer cable through. I found I had another one but can you join them? My friend the internet told me you could. I was in town the next day and after trying two major stores who did not have joiners, the third place at a prominent city location but underground, had them. But, two in a packet and $24. I don't need two! Oh well, just pay and whinge later. I can be so English at times.


I'd better test that it works. I grabbed the first dvd that came to hand, that would be the last one played and it was fine. Then I realised there were two discs in the box, the other a blue ray disc of the same. I can compare the picture quality.  I swapped them back and forth several times. By me saying that, you can guess something. One swap would have been all it would take if there was something dramatically better with the blue ray. I just could not tell the difference.


Is there a more recognisable symbol than the London Tube roundel?  It really is a masterpiece of branding and a quick think comes up with nothing more recognisable to me than perhaps Coco Cola. This is not London though but a newsagency near Melbourne Central Station.


Reflected light  from the setting sun.


We don't interfere with Little Jo's spelling unless she asks. We do interfere with her cooking and presentation. These turned out rather nicely.


Sister and Bone Doctor went out for a three hour cycle along the beach road. Firstly we had to wrestle Little Jo away from the screen to get her in the shower and her hair washed. Then another wrestle to get her to go out for a walk and some exercise. It like she is wearing invisible noise cancelling head phones. She does not hear when she is watching the computer screen. Eventually I decided R needed to be more serious about getting her out and I switched the monitor off and she does not know how to turn that on.

My favourite magnolia had not bloomed yet. It must be the last one in Melbourne. You can make do with my second favourite. Although I don't know how to write it properly, magnolia denudata alba, commonly the white magnolia.


Like Merle who abbreviates certain plants she has as 'broms' (This might be cryptic for some, so something like bromeliad) because she can't be bothered checking the spelling, I will abbreviate the name of  this plant to 'rhodie' for the same reason.


We rewarded Little Jo for her walking effort with a hot chocolate while we had coffee among the rich and elite in Domain Road. "Little Jo, we will show you our secret lane," which is three joined walking lanes linking a couple of streets in South Yarra. Anxious to get back to her screens, "Is it the quickest way home?"

Three photos showing the new sitting comfortably or uncomfortably with the old. Personal taste, really. Up to you. First two, Hope Street, South Yarra. Second, Flinders Lane, Melbourne.




Saturday, August 29, 2015

Shirt shopping

We hot footed it from the large city department store when I saw a shirt I liked the look of and the price tag showed $319. We returned to our much cheaper usual city department store. Why don't we use smaller shops? We do at times, if one can be found that does not have loud music blasting our ears and staff so cheerful and bouncy that they seem to have inbuilt springs.

Fortunately there was a sale in our favourite department store. Is there never not one? It took a while but eventually I bought a shirt I liked. You see, there is a lot to check.

First, nearly half the shirts can be discounted because they are tapered, or tailored as it is now described. While I think they look terrific on the right person, sadly where the shirt tapers in the middle, I go in the other direction. Do my bosoms look too big in this dear? Not a thing a man really wants.

Then there is the pocket. An older person must have a pocket for reading glasses. No shirt pocket, no good for me. I have a preference for button down collars, but I am not insistent on that one.

Of course buying a long sleeved shirt as the a summer stock of short sleeved shirts has just arrived is not wise. All that is left is what others did not want. Price is important too. Even if the price is raised before being reduced for sale back to its old price, I need to think I am getting something cheaply.

Well shirt chosen and to the desk. I complained to the service woman at the desk that once again they had decreased the size of their sizes. As she nodded sympathetically, she said that it varies greatly with brands and I must have chosen one that uses smaller sizes.

Amazing that I found something at all really.

Note: Bosoms or bosom? Rather like a substance induced conversation many years ago with friends that went on for what seemed like hours about whether a person has a groin or groins. The result was inconclusive, as conversations in such circumstances usually are.


Friday, August 28, 2015

Wombats

Young wombats can be very cute, mischievous but untrainable. They are almost manageable as pets until they start to get big. They are incredibly strong too and love to butt at things with their head. Cars take their toll on them though, with often enough the car coming off very badly as they go under the car and can cause great damage if hit at speed. As tough as they are, they don't have much of a chance if hit by a car at speed.

One species at least is also suffering a terrible mange disease that if untreated, will eventually kill each wombat. The mange is spread by mites.

Wombats are marsupials and build large underground burrows for shelter and breeding. The pouch for their young faces backwards so as to not fill will soil when they are digging. They are disliked by farmers as not only do they eat grass, livestock can break legs when a burrow collapses under their weight and it can be dangerous to a farmer if a farm vehicle lands a wheel in a burrow entrance.

To dig such burrows and they have very strong and powerful claws, as you can see in this rather cute video. Length: 2.16




Thursday, August 27, 2015

Disjointed briefy

Guns don't kill people, as we are told. As I tell you, people with guns kill people. Farmers need a gun at times, maybe a .303 that kills quickly and cleanly. Perhaps a shot gun too but I am less certain about that. Probably not.

People of the US, you only need a gun to protect yourself if everyone else has a gun. Is that so hard to understand? Ban guns and you won't need a gun to protect yourself against guns. Also, you might have a good hard look at funding of your mental health care system, not that Australia is at angelic in that area.

I saw the clip of the reporter and camera man being shot, online. What was worse to me and more shocking was seeing the edited version on our ABC TV. It was worse and more shocking to not see what was happened than to actually see it. Imagination is a powerful beast.

PS My most humble apologies to Chris, the husband of John Gray of Wales, for our weather. I cannot remember a day like today for a long time where precipitation barely ceased. Combine that with trams being off the tracks because of an industrial dispute........well his timing for a visit to Melbourne could not have been worse.

PPS If you are not a reader of the blog of John Gray of Wales, then it is your loss but surely you will get a laugh from his most recent post.  Like he needs more readers!

Jumping a gap

In 1952, the driver of a London double decker bus on route 78 had to make a split second decision when a span of Tower Bridge began to lift in front of him. He accelerated his bus to clear the by then 1 metre gap and the bus then dropped 2 metres onto the other span which had not yet began to lift. No one was seriously injured and the driver was not at fault.

Pretty amazing and here is little piece of artwork by someone unknown. Cute, hey


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Why not to trust real estate agents

I am being very careful here as I don't want to end up in court but here is what I heard about the behaviour by Allens Real Estate, specifically the behaviour of agent Grant Lynch.

Maybe it is someone who we know but that does not matter. Before the Victorian and Civil Claims Tribunal was a couple who sold their house. The usual commission to a real estate agent in Melbourne is between 2% and 5% of the selling price, plus advertising costs.

The people selling the house signed the contract after they say they verbally heard the agent tell them of a bonus of an extra 2% if the house sold over a certain figure. They failed to correctly place a decimal point when they signed and as VCAT judged, they had signed the contract. What they signed for was a bonus 20%, not 2% over a certain selling figure as they thought. I seem to recall the dollar figure was somewhere between $20,000 and $30,000 but perhaps adjusted to under $20,000 after they complained.

I would suggest people who are thinking of using Allens Real Estate to be very careful about what they sign. This matter that went before VCAT would be enough to put me off of using Allens Real Estate at all, no matter that the complainants lost and the real estate agency won.

http://allensre.com.au/agent/grant-lynch/171