Saturday, October 25, 2008

Recommended Reading

I was not sure whether to laugh or be very annoyed when I saw this Youtube clip on Reuben's blog.
I'm afraid I'll go with the Dutch.
Here is the link. It is the top video.

Updated Cast List

The Cast List, linked on the right hand side of my blog, has been updated.

Sun Arise, Bring in the Morning

I think these fall into the category of a shepherd's warning. Taken from the highrise one day this past week.


Steep Hill

I have been trying to learn about gradients and how a gradient is expressed. A check online tells me there is no Gradients for Dummies.

Things got a bit frightening when I began to try to analyse this para.

There is a fourth method in which slope may be expressed: the rise is divided by the hypotenuse (the slope length). This is not a usual way to measure slope but it is useful when one only knows the slope length and not the horizontal run. This follows the sine function rather than the tangent function and this method diverges from the "rise over run" method as angles start getting larger (see small-angle formula )

I vaguely recall that I failed both Pure and Applied Algebra....or was it Trigonometry or Calculus? I think I passed Simple Arithmetic. Amazingly, I have managed through life without ever having to use anything I learnt in these subjects. I did not even keep my logarithm table book and slide rule and I have no recollection of what I actually did with them in class. Probably poked other boys in their groins with the slide rule and set fire to the log book with a Bunsen Burner.

I have learnt that a gradient can be expressed as degrees. This sounds so simple and obvious and I am not sure why there are other methods. Just visualise a protractor and where say ten degrees would be, and you get a mental picture of how steep a hill is. But when talking about railways and tramways, they use a different method.

I heard that the Blue Mountains railway was very steep, but since the time when it was first built, the slope has been decreased. (What? They chopped the top off the mountain?)

Rail gradients are expressed as a gradient of say, 1 in 20, to use Wikipedia's example. So, for every 20 metres, you would rise 1 metre. I don't get an instant mental picture but it is very vivid if drawn to scale on a piece of paper. I am led to believe that it is quite steep, but drawn on paper, it does not look steep.

Remember my post about the Balmain counterweight dummy, the system which assisted the Balmain tram up and down from the Darling Street Wharf? That was said to be about a 1 in 8 gradient.

I just drew that inclination on a piece of paper and it does not look at all steep to me.

And by writing this post, I think I have worked out why gradients never look steep to me when drawn on paper. In the above para where I mention Wikipedia, I altered something for we Australians' benefits. I converted the measurements to metric. What it actually said was 'For example, a slope that has a rise of 5 feet for every 100 feet of run would have a slope ratio of 1 in 20.'

Am I on the right track here? It the ratio method won't translate to metric? I have no idea how to represent feet on on a sheet of paper.

All too hard and I have my sock drawer to tidy. I will just accept that the Blue Mountains train line is steep.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

See ya Bill

We farewelled sis in law's father today. If a funeral can be excellent, it was. While he led a fairly hard life when he was younger, he was an interstate truck driver, he mellowed after his heart attack at the age of sixty and gave up his heavily indulged in vices and lasted another twenty years.

He was a nice old bloke. He visited us once when we hosted a christmas dinner and spent most of his time sitting on the balcony watching the trams and he remarked how colourful they were compared to the old days of cream and green only. He did have his own exploration of the apartment and managed to walk into a mirrored wardrobe door, thinking there was more beyond.

The cemetery and the service were really good with over one hundred attending. R, Sister, Little Jo and I sat in the spacious foyer and watched the service on large tv screens. Little Jo failed to appreciate the solemnity of the occasion, so it was great to be able to see and hear the service without worrying about her being disruptive.

As it was an early funeral, I thought we may have had the afternoon to ourselves, but no, back to Langwarrin for the very sober, on our part, wake.

We arrived home at 4pm after stopping off at sister's for a bit to replace her bedroom light socket. Of course it wouldn't be as simple as two single wires. No, a total of eight wires into four holes while stretching to reach from her bed. As per usual, a five minute job turned into over half an hour. Sister had no confidence in her brother and left the room for the switching on ceremony, but it was fine.

Little Jo tires us out, well everything tires us out nowadays. R collapsed on the bed and I collapsed in front of you know what.

The website for Bunurong Memorial Park is here if you want to look. A nice place to rest.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Satorial Splendour

You dudes can be pleased that you only get to suffer a few of the million and one blog posts that come to my mind. Here are two combined.

I saw a dude today, no, not a dude really, an elderly gent. He was walking along the street. He was not tall, and not slim and of a pretty old age. He carried a couple of supermarket plastic bags and I could see he was a consumer of Rev milk. Carrying supermarket bags did not quite match his image. He was wearing a dark blue double breasted pin striped suit of an excellent cut. The bit of his shirt showing was neatly pressed and his tie was tightly and neatly tied. He had a red kerchief in his lapel pocket and a Panama hat upon his head. His trousers were of the precisely correct length. Perhaps it was an odd outfit to go to the Coles to shop in, but he had clearly decided on a look some time ago.

As I approach old age, I think I would like a look. Perhaps I should try sagging, always a great look for an older person. No? I could get arrested for that look in some states of the US of A. Besides, I like to actually get my hands into my pockets for a decent fiddle and not just my finger tips.

This bloke made the mistake of coming to the tram stop where I was standing, and so gave himself up to me for closer scrutiny and he failed. Though, for someone his age to not have hair sticking out of his ears, he did well.

There was a nasty stain, perhaps food on the inner brim of his Panama, forgivable perhaps for an older person, but his real crime was his shoes weren't polished!!! They were dusty, scuffed and had not seen polish for yonks.

As a kid, my mother used to make me polish my shoes every night. Lucky if I do it once a fortnight now. But then I don't normally dress up like a pox doctor's clerk.

Well, not normally, but I probably need to look a bit decent tomorrow for sis in law's father's funeral in down town Carrum Downs. (This is the combo post part) Sister is taking us, and if Little Jo gets upset, then we will alternate to take her out of the ceremony and amuse her. Must say, I have never heard of this Bunurong cemetery in what is actually Dandenong South among industrial factories, but it is associated with Cheltenham Cemetery. Is that where you plan to go Jahteh?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Washing Up Bucket

This was a bid odd.

When we stayed with one of R's sisters in England in June, in both her flat and her caravan in Hexham, there was a plastic bucket in the sink, kind of in the shape of the sink. This was where you washed the dishes, that is you filled the bucket and not the sink itself. When we were in the caravan on our own and I was washing dishes, I found it quite annoying but also helpful. You could put muck down beside the bucket into the sink without making the dishwater dirty, along with rinsing something off without muck going in the sink.

R has three sisters, and the younger two did not use a bucket in the sink, only the older. I have a vague memory of them being used in Australia, or did I just see them on an English tv show?

Eventually, I asked. 'K, why do you use a bucket in the sink?'. She replied that it was kind of an old idea, but she thought it was more hygienic and her mother always used one.

This caused my thought processes to start. Ok, I understand superficially, but why is it more hygienic?

Firstly, it is an old persons thing. Young people in England do not seem to use a bucket in the sink to wash dishes. So, old people's thing. Why?

Generally in England, people don't seem to have separate laundries. The washing machine and clothes dryer are often in the kitchen and they is not a laundry trough. So perhaps you would not want to wash your dishes in the same sink as you wash your smalls or rinse out baby nappies.

In Australia, laundry troughs used to made of concrete and kitchen sinks often of something hard with an enamelled coating, or porcelain. All are pretty unforgiving surfaces should you knock a plate a bit hard against the side of the bowl.

But then plastic has not been around forever, so what was used as a sink insert before plastic? I am sure it wasn't bakelite. Was it enamelled tin? Do I remember a flatish tin dish that might have been used for washing dishes even without a sink?

Did Pants, being of a certain age (ouch Pants, that hurt), adopt the English custom of placing a plastic dish in her sink to wash up?

When Michelle orders Brian to scrub the centuries old mysterious substances from under his nails and to then wash the dishes, does he use the plastic dish?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Google Maps v Melways

I use both because they both have some useful features that the other doesn't have. I tend to use Google Maps more often, especially since its Street View facility began, although so far as I know, not in the UK yet. Wish they would hurry up.

Melways, as we Melburnians know it, can be found at street-directory.com.au . They have mapped Australia, but without the attention to detail in some areas, although the coverage of Sydney pretty well matches Melbourne now.

The good about Melways:

  • It has a centre mark on the maps, so you can drag the map and centre whatever you want to look at very easily
  • It has post codes on the map and it has much more detailed information than Google Maps
  • It looks much more stylish
  • It shows traffic lights
  • It shows properties for sale very easily
  • It shows tram stop numbers, very useful
  • It shows one way streets, speed humps, blocked streets etc
  • It shows the name of our building and its location
Against Melways:
  • It will not remember a 'home' map
  • It search facility is unforgiving if you make a typo or get a name wrong
  • You cannot use the scroll wheel to enlarge or reduce a map. Instead you have to select one of seven sizes
  • It does not show land block borders (note USA readers, a block in Australia is a single titled plot of land, not an area between streets)
  • It does not show land block numbers
  • You have to click from box to box to enter search information (tip, use the tab key when filling in forms with boxes to jump to the next box. Maybe only Firefox)
For Google Maps
  • It quickly loads the home map when opened
  • If all you want is just the location of street, without much other information, it is quick
  • Its search facility is excellent. Just type in the address in a single box and if a mistake is made, you will probably still find what you want
  • It shows blocks of land
  • It shows street block numbers
  • It covers the world, not just Australia
  • As well as being able to enlarge or reduce a map with the mouse scroll wheel, it has other easy to use controls
  • You can make all sorts of customised maps easily
  • It has Street View
Against Google Maps
  • Lacks much detail and information
  • It is infrequently updated and there seems to be little local input of knowledge. EG It is many years since the South Melbourne Tram Depot was demolished and yet the map still shows tram tracks crossing Kingsway and into the old Depot.
  • They left the highrise off the map
  • The Street View photos are not of great quality and it seemed to be a bit of a rushed job
  • Some areas are not covered, reasonably important areas in some cases
But, and it is a big but, Melways now has Street View too. It is still in Beta state, it is clunky and difficult to use and not very intuitive but the photos are great, with a much higher resolution. I look forward to the big improvements to come.

Out and about in St Kilda #9

I have posted this picture before, back in 2005, but it is well worth reposting. He is called Rain Man and sits in the lake in St Kilda Botanic Gardens or Blessington Street Gardens, if you like. The pump is solar powered and I would assume it does not work if it is overcast.

It was a bright sunny day when I was there, so the water was flowing full stream.

Bear in mind, this photo is over three years old, so who knows what the present status of Rain Man in our water starved land. Anyone know if he is still there and working?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Minus one hour again

So much to write about and so little time to do it, and so little the number who are interested. I could write about my sister in law's father dying this morning, or my stepfather being diagnosed with a terminal illness, or roads, trams and trains. Or what about Barak.......hey, I am falling in love.

No, the really important thing is, again this Saturday night the computer clock went back an hour again. It went back an hour last Saturday and has done the same thing this Saturday night. Am I supposed to become a time traveller? What on earth is going on? Should I blame the catholic church? Are they fiddling with my computer remotely because I am gay?

I shall just the leave the clock alone and not correct. Please, this is a computer connected to the information super highway and it can't even work what time it is. Hint computer, Eastern Australia Summer Time.