Friday, February 06, 2009

PPPs

Sounds like kiddies being a bit rude.

But it means a lot more to we Melburnians. Our present state government, and the last, believe heartily in Private Public Partnerships. I believe in them up to a point. I am quite happy to have private companies run food stalls at our railway stations. But oh, it gets a bit troublesome when a PPP builds a railway station.

Well, I am only thinking this. I am not really sure. Southern Cross Station is pretty good and it was built by a PPP. There was a bit of fuss, but not too much and I don't care to know the details of the intricacies of the contracts etc.

Well, I wasn't interested but since Transport Minister Kosky has buried the papers concerning the PPP and construction of Southern Cross Station until 2058, I am suddenly very interested. Will Little Jo be glowering over her reading spectacles in 2058 at the outrageous PPP who constructed Southern Cross Station. Neither me, Kosky or Brumby will be around to blame and Uncle Andrew won't have to answer the question, "How did you allow this to happen?"

Looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, then best bury the duck in case anyone notices it is a duck.

Burnt

Just a few phone pics as I was walking. I have never in my life seen anything like it. It has taken a few days for the full impact of last weeks heat on so many plants to become evident. I have seen our deciduous trees shed leaves in hot and dry weather, but never to the extent of seeming to turn our streets into autumn scenes. This old London Plane outside Malvern Town Hall tree is suffering. It is one among thousands.
I have seen ivy burnt before, but never to this extent and this lot was shaded by a large tree.

Tough old agapanthus, fried, baked, cooked, whatever you like. Poor Aggie.

This is just not the type of plant that burns easily.


Another toughie, and it only gets morning sun.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

We are so like our roots

While we complain about our Melbourne public transport, especially during the extremely hot weather last week when the train system all but collapsed, it was interesting to see that there were massive disruptions to London's public transport after heavy snowfalls.

Oddly, although other European countries suffered similar weather, only London's transport fell in a heap. Might it be that we followed the English model of privatising public transport and so we suffer in a similar manner?

Heat in Melbourne and snow in London. Who would have thought?

Personally, I was not overly impressed with the London Underground. While I was so excited to be using the LU, the stations were drab, gloomy and hot. The trains were very hot and rough riding. There seemed to be a lot of stationary waiting between stations.

But it has a truly marvellous coverage of London and you can get to wherever you want to go pretty well by the LU without a long wait for a train.

There are some fantastic blogs and internet stuffs on the London Underground if you have a bit of a search. I came across this piece below linked to this blog, which is an extract from an article in The Guardian. Keep in mind this was back in 2000. I am sure a lot has changed, or maybe not.

Apparently the money was reasonable so Jesse got the job

"I took the job in good faith, with a half-formed plan to let all the fare evaders off, take night walks in the tunnels and even be friendly to the weary public. I was, after all, one of them, born and bred in the shadow of the underground roundel, and I had this dream of a station where the locals would know we were on their side - a place where only tourists would buy tickets and we would have a friendly word for the regulars at the end of their journey."

Obviously Jesse could not fulfil this plan!!!!

"I found that the general public seemed to be, for some unfathomable reason, pissed off all the time. Once, early in my career, a man laden with luggage approached me at the barrier and asked to be allowed through the gate. Naively, I asked for his ticket. Luckily, the gentlemen was happy to put me straight, at no charge. "You f?***&%g c**t. You want to see my f?***%g ticket do you. You want me to put all my bags down to show you my f?*&&g ticket? I'll show it to you when I'm f?***g through, you f?***g c**t . . ." Meekly suggesting that showing me the ticket either side would require him to put down his luggage made no difference. .....

"Rudeness comes in many forms, from the tramp who wants to beg in your ticket hall to the young whippersnapper who wants to get himself and 13 mates through the gates with one child's travelcard. There is also the faux-rebel who wants to prove himself by being rude to a uniform. This kind of person saunters straight past you at the barrier as though he is hard and bunking the fare and then, when you pull him up, gives a great big sneer and produces his monthly travelcard."

That's top I must remember that one myself. Anyway, Jesse continues:

"You soon develop tactics to maintain your self-esteem. Some are noble, but the most effective is simply to be ruder, faster - which is no mean feat - and the experts at this game are the booking clerks, secure behind bulletproof glass. The clerk's life is an exercise in frustration - trapped at the window, doing a job that requires concentration but little actual intelligence, faced with hordes of incomprehensible and indecisive idiots who are all trying to maximise the amount of effort you have to put in just to sell them a ticket. After days or, to be honest, hours of £2.10 tickets bought by credit card and unintelligible tourists on top of a rush-hour crowd of miserable Londoners, the more sensitive clerk starts to wilt, and only dishing out tongue lashings, not always appropriately, can restore his sense of pride.

"Why are you always so rude?" one customer asked the ticket clerk on my duty. "The others here are always nice." "Well come back when they're here then," he replied. On another occasion a customer couldn't believe what he had been hearing. "I've never heard such rudeness in all my life," he exclaimed. "You want to get out more," came the response.

Jesse to be fair realises that beyond the "rudeness", "acute stupidity" and "braindeadness" of passengers, we've actually got a lot to put up with:

"Of course, the familiarity Londoners have with the tube tends to be familiarity with overpricing, overcrowding and under-running. The consequences of 30 years of efficiency savings has left a skeletal system that has no slack to accommodate the inevitable mishaps. In addition, the inexorable rise in passenger numbers means that even a fully functioning train service is bursting at the seams......

"The current crisis on the national rail system is a sure indicator of the direction the underground is taking as management fragments and the staff are required to be multiskilled, in order that one person can do three people's jobs. If the underground has avoided the catastrophes of the train network, it is only because it has not yet succumbed to the full-blown idiocy of privatisation."

Old Drivers

We hear of these things happening with painful regularity. Here are a few I collected in a short time. There was another one last week but I could not find a story online. If you know of an elderly incompetent driver, then report them. Get 'em off the roads and perhaps save a few lives.

Investigators believe the 77-year-old driver's foot slipped on the accelerator of his station wagon as he turned into a driveway at Hampton East about 2.15pm today.

Children on holiday narrowly escaped being mown down when an out-of-control car smashed into a Sydney convenience store, killing a passenger. The 71-year-old male driver suffered fractures to his ribs, knee and pelvis and a dislocated hip after

AN elderly man is dead after his wife reversed their car into him in Melbourne.The victim, aged in his 80s, was killed in the driveway of their home in Glen Eira Rd, Elsternwick.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Midsumma, the not so good

It happened at Carnival, the opening of Midsumma and it happened at Pride March, the closing event of Midsumma. I would like to think that most thinking gay and lesbians who take any notice of what happens in the Middle East would be as torn in the head as I am about the whole business.

But no, some took it upon themselves to harass the Aleph (gay and lesbian Jewish org) stand at carnival, and some took it upon themselves to harass the Young Aleph, along with Aleph at Pride March.

Not the time nor the place and besides, who knows what they think as individuals.

Just not cricket, what!

Sniffer Dogs

A lass way out west in Perth, the capital of West Australia, was lined up to get into a Big Day Out music festival event. She had popped an eckie, but noticed police with sniffer dogs approaching. In some panic, she popped the remain two tabs and died.

What a great effort by the West Australian police. A pretty kid, just starting an apprenticeship has a couple of eckie tabs on her and they spook her into swallowing them all at once.


And the port they came through to get into Australia or where they were made?

The financier of drug production?

The chemical company?

The dealer?

You may very well wish that your kids don't take stuff like that and nor do I want them to, but there is a pretty good chance that they will at some point. Is this how you want police to police drugs use and deal with your sons and daughters?

Well done WA police and finely sympathetic follow up comments by WA Premier Colin Barnett who quotes that old bag of bones with skin stretched over it, Nancy Reagan, 'Just say no'.

Another Unusual Lamp

I think I should start a google map for odd lamps around Melbourne. Here is another sole lamp on the corner of Balaclava Road and Lempriere Avenue, East St Kilda. The last one was also in East St Kilda, corner of Hotham Street and Mooltan Avenue.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Sunday Part 2

Is if a party the night before and getting mixed up in Chinese New Year celebrations weren't enough on the noise count, we gluttons for punishment went off in the afternoon to the Gay Pride March, held along Fitzroy Street St Kilda, with celebrations later in the Catani Gardens.

A friend who we were going to meet up with arrived at Fitzroy Street at 3.30 and called to find out where we were. The march started at 5.00 and that was the time we intended to be there. He sulked and went home, seeming to blame us for his error.

We decided to stay only for the parade and to cheer Sister, Bone Doctor and Little Jo as they marched with the Rainbow Families group. We saw them briefly before the march and almost missed them in the march. They too headed off home as soon as the parade finished.

What is it about Police Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon? I have never heard anyone receive such heart felt applause as she did as she led a group of perhaps forty police, preceded by the police pipe band. She warmly greeted everyone back. When she marched a few years ago after taking up the role of CC, she was cheered, but this time there was a real warmth about the interaction.

We forgot our water bottles, so in the bit of time before the march, we slipped into the IGA to get drinks. Oh, alcohol, I spied. We bought a can of vodka and citrus each, and sat on a stone wall to drink them. Along comes the husband of an ex workmate of R's who lives near us. His reddened face convinced me that as he is married, he can't possibly be gay. Daughter, he stammered. Just around the corner. Lives in a flat. Bringing her a fan. Just wondering what the fuss is about. Yeah, ok.

Then a familiar face walked by, body attached Brian before you jump in. Looks like Reuben. Can't be. Hair is not quite right. Surely he would not spoil his north side cred by visiting south of the river. But it was said Reuben and he marched in the parade. Good on him. I don't think he was in the Prostitutes Collective group, but not 100% sure.

Ok, I did only think it was Reuben. If I was sure, I would have said hello. Confirmed later.

So, as the parade finished, we headed for the tram home against the tide of people who were heading to the entertainments in the Catani Gardens.

This was all the photo we got of Little Jo.


I have taken plenty of photos other years, so I did not bother much this time. Here is the Police Pipe Band approaching where we were standing.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Route 3A

There have been changes to our tram route 3 to East Malvern. Weekends, it now travels via Carlisle Street, Upper Esplanade and Fitzroy Street to rejoin its normal route at St Kilda Junction. There are losers and winners.

The intention is to assist route 16 with weekend loading. That the 16 with a twelve minute service barely copes with weekend loading is well known. It struggles with its Sunday 15 minute service before 10am, and with 30 minute service on Sunday night. Saturday is not so bad normally, but any event in St Kilda will see very heavy loading.

Ideally, there should be enough trams and staff to just increase the 16 service interval on Sunday but no one wants to pay for that. So it is good thinking to utilise the 3 to assist.

Unfortunately it means around ten minutes trip time added to those who want to use the 3 to get to Carlisle St or further afield. You might beat this by some tram hopping. Worse, it leaves only the 67 Carnegie tram to service quite a busy stretch of St Kilda Road, that is between St Kilda Junction and Carlisle Street.

As per the Metlink website, the previously existing 15 minute Sunday service interval for the 67 tram is still the same. That mean a long wait for people on this stretch who were used to a tram every 7.5 mintutes. Once the changes are well known, there will be lot of extra walking and tram hopping.

Another alteration is the route 79 tram will no longer go to St Kilda Saturday afternoons or Sundays until the evening. It will operate as a route 78 to Brighton Road. I expect this is to elimenate delays to through trams at St Kilda while also help with late running of the 79 on Saturday afternoons and Sundays.

It is a pity that the 16 tram service can't be just improved to help with loading, but in my opinion, it is not a bad work around.

While it hasn't appeared on destinations yet, and after the disastrously incompetent last reprogramming, fingers crossed, the new weekend route 3 will be route 3A.

There is also chatter about a redevelopment of the area at the intersection of Acland and Carlisle Streets where trams intersect and the route 79 terminates.

Even more chatter about increasing the route 96 service on weekends by doubling the service with the slotted in trams travelling only to the city and not to, as they usually do, East Brunswick. We won't see that. No spare trams and no spare staff and no money for either.

Sunday Part 1

We had a couple of things to get, so a quick trip into town. We did not know that there were still Chinese New Year celebrations happening. This is one very long dragon. I believe its name is Dai Loong and is said to be the longest in the world. The continual exploding of crackers started to annoy me after an hour or so, still very audible while we were having coffee at The Wedge in QV. As per usual, the crackers set something alight and the fire brigade had to attend.


Sunday, February 01, 2009

The Party

I should have followed my own instincts, instead I trusted someone else. No good can ever come from that.

We are the perfect party guests who always take something to a party, even if the person giving the party assures us not to bring anything and everything will be provided. We took a bunch of orchids as a gift and the brother friends took a bottle of wine. What we should have done was taken our own drinks.

The tram almost delivered us to the door of the apartment building and as we alighted, we did not realise people were watching our arrival from the 36th floor of the builiding. The apartment building was nothing too flash and I prefer our own. Ok, we don't have a large fountain in the foyer, but ours is a little more stylish in a very restrained manner. The lift transported us to the 36th floor at only a slightly faster speed than our lift at home, although somewhat more smoothly, even if it did have noisy fans.
As the lift door opened, we were hit with a wall of hot air and a door to the rubbish chute room. Nice! There was a large window facing north, so we had a quick look.

The 3 bedroom apartment was quite nice, very clean modern lines, with four metre high ceilings. The decor was modern and tasteful and certainly not from Ikea or Freedom.

After the friend, I will call him Tony, because that is his name, showed us around and told us we weren't guests at his party, but old friends, he pointed us towards the food. Catering is his game, and believe me, the food was excellent. Bugger the food, I neet a social lubricant. Punch in a large bowl. After slinging two of those down, I was waiting to turn into the life of the party, but it wasn't happening. If the was any alcohol in the punch, in must have floated to the top and someone else grabbed it.

Ok, started eating and the food was really was good. Had another punch. I am starting to get bored. I want to leave. I'll have a beer. Luke warm and sat unpleasantly on top of the punch and food. The bottles of wine seemed to be owned by other guests and I did not like to ask.

Why oh why didn't we bring our own wine? I asked R what time we could decently leave. We arrived just before eight, so ten thirty? I was tired too as I had started work at before six that morning.

The air con wasn't on and I was tempted to go to the control panel and turn it on. Instead I a spent a good bit of time on the full length balcony in the cool breeze. It must have been twenty metres long, with lit tea lights along its length. The view was excellent, right over the city with the Exhibition Building to one side and Cocklands (note to self, fix that typo before publish) to the other. A view of our building was blocked out by the Arts Centre Spire.

So Tony, how is business, I asked, full well knowing he paid 1.7 million for this apartment, with two car spaces and a third large storage area. Business is fine, he replied. The logistics of catering for weddings or DFAT events of a thousand people is beyond my understanding.

His son, the solictor, is entering into his father's business. His son bought an apartment in the building next door off the plan, held it for a couple of years then sold it for a profit and moved in with dad. Dad pointed out to son that he had to be tolerant of his gay friends.

The fellow guests were mostly Asian guys and R and I fell in love with one who was not only very cute, but more importantly, looked after the tea light candle lighting, the punch, the food, the dishes, the music, in fact everything with great efficiency and speed. Slow down lovey, you are making me tired.

Of course there was a large tv, sixty inches of it. It was showing a Foxtel show I think, called Party Max. I parked myself on a comfortable corner of a couch near the door where a breeze was coming in and I quite enjoyed watching old video clips. Others came and joined me until I was squashed into a corner and more and more people were arriving for the party and the tv volume went up and it follows that the talk volume went up. I wanna go home.

At 10.40, I started rounding our group up. We said our goodbyes, and Tony was very dissapointed that we weren't staying as his son was due home any minute and son would like to see us all. Bad luck. We're outa here. We'll be in touch.

It was actually quite chilly waiting for the tram home. The first time I had felt cold for a week. Now, eight tram routes divided by a twenty minute service on each route should mean a tram quite quickly. Not so, a good ten minute wait and then of course three arrived together.

It is not all a whinging post though. The ever considerate R made sure that Scotch was on the shopping list that day. Ok, we feel a bit ratty today, but we sorely needed it last night.

I cast my mind my back to Dame M parties, where she would carefully monitor peoples drinks and make sure they always had at least half a glass of the drink of their choice. Andrew, you must be sick of wine, there is some Scotch in the cupboard.

Quickie on childhood linguistics

From The Age Online.

"CBF", for example, is short for "can't be bothered", "LOL" is "laugh out loud", and its more energetic cousin, ROFL, means "roll on the floor laughing".

I get ROFL and LOL, but how do you get 'can't be bothered' from CBF. It is not a Declanism is it LS? A mistype?

Ah, I've got tit. Can't Be Fagged. They just don't want to offend us.