Saturday, May 30, 2009

Too hot to touch

I could get into trouble big time if I say too much about the number of foreign students in Melbourne. I am allowed an observation though. Three years ago, Coles supermarket in Prahran had predominately Aussie born workers. R said to me last week, take a look at all the check out chaps and chapesses. Every one was from the subcontinent, bar one, who was of 'Asian' appearance'.

There is something going on here that I do not understand. Maybe more later.

I hope you are all appalled at violent attacks against students from the sub continent. I certainly am. The perpetrators are not only scum, but stupid as well, as I believe all trains have quite good CCTV and the scum is invariably caught. Out on the street, it is a different matter, and the perpetrators of such violence on innocent young men may well not be caught. Our police force is supposed to uphold the law, but on the face of it, FAIL.

It is a matter of great concern, but not withstanding, it is bit rich for India's High Commissioner to be visiting Melbourne and India's PM to be telephoning our Prime Minister to discuss the problem and indicate how seriously this problem is being viewed in India.

Hello, India, starvation, deprivation, extreme poverty, terrible young mortality rates, growing wealth gap.......the list of problems is very long.

One could be very cynical and think India's response is all about politics and playing to the masses, but I would not want to lead you to what I think.

Victoria Police don't seem to be doing such a good job of protecting its citizens and visitors. It may well take a bit more of an effort than lining up fifteen parked police cars in Swanston Street on a Friday night.

Exiting Harvey Norman at QV


I do like a boi with big hair. I must have taken the photo with the phone camera, as it is not a very clear shot. I only just noticed the sign writing, New Store Coming Here. There has never been a shop there, just a blank wall. I wonder if he will be serving in the new store? I am sure I will need whatever he might be selling.

Known Headways

I think this is the correct pair of words. I like known headways. What I take it to mean is that a public transport vehicle will run at certain predictable intervals.

An example would be when we lived in Balaclava and often used the train. I knew that in the AM peak, the train was every ten minutes and ran on the hour, so 8.00, 8.10, 8.20, 8.30 etc.

Later in the day when the fifteen minute service started, it was .03, .18, .33, 48. This went on until the afternoon peak service started.

I also knew that it was a thirteen minute trip to the city, and so I could also roughly calculate what time the train would be at other stations if needed to travel from them. I knew these times in bothe directions, for both peaks and day time services and weekend daytime services. I rarely needed a timetable.

The day service is the same, but the AM service has changed and it no longer has known headways.

From 6.47AM the gaps are, 14 mins, 13, 13, 11, 10, 9, 9, 8, 10, 9, 10, 8, and 9, where we reach 9.00AM.

The same goes for trams. I used to be a regular user of the now re-numbered route 69. At Balaclava Railway Station, the trams were evenly spaced. Now look at the AM peak.

8 mins, 8, 9, 10, 10, 15, 16, 15, 10, 14 etc.

It is clear to me that in the past, the service was matched to a timetable. Surely a good thing. Now, the service is matched to......well I don't what, possibly $$$.

Do feel free to point out why it may be a good thing and that there is some benefit to the travelling public.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Lecture

It is not just about using a mobile phone. The mobile phone distracts. People lose concentration when they are driving. It is one area where multi tasking does not work. Don't allow anything distract you when you are driving.

Hamburger

I am working evenings this week. I don't like it much, but I will say it is useful to have some decent daytime to get things done. Sometimes when I work evenings I buy food at work if Household Management has not cooked me anything to take, which he does at least half the time.

So night one, I bought Nandos chicken and chips. Night two, I had a nice curry to take, complete with vegetable garnish, rice of course and papadams. Tonight, night three it was take away hamburger and two potato cakes. Tomorrow night it is tuna mornay (I call it fish pie) with rice and vegetables from home. The last night will be a stir fry and rice from home. By the end of evening shift week, I am really hanging for lamb chops and vegetables on a china plate, or a nice steak and salad.

Tonight, as I usually do, I et one potato cake and then the hamburger and I normally eat the second potato after the hamburger. After the hamburger, I rose to wash my hands. As I was drying them I thought to myself, that was a funny thing to do before you have eaten the second potato cake, that is wash my hands. I go back to my table and where is my second potato cake?

I had screwed all the wrappings up, the potato cake with them and thrown the whole kit and caboodle in the rubbish bin. Damnation.

I sat there sipping my coffee and looking at the rubbish bin. My potato cake is in there. It is well wrapped up. Couldn't be any germs on it. It has only be a minute or so. Can't have picked up germs by osmosis yet. But the bin was deep and I did not note how full or empty it was. Five other people were sitting around. Now if the level of rubbish is high, I could just about retrieve it without anyone noticing.....maybe. But if it is down the bottom, I am going to risk upending myself, legs waving wildly in the air while I gasp in swine flu germs that surely must sit at the bottom of a bin. That may well attract attention.

By now, I was getting pangs of hunger that only that particular potato cake would sate. I stood, moved towards the bin. I felt five pairs of eyes on me. I retreated and sat back down.

Ok, there are some mental games needing to be happening here.

How much spud is in one cake? Not much. They are greasy, fattening and pretty bland really. Better I don't eat potato cakes. Yes, this is for my good health. I don't want the potato cake anymore. It is appalling food. It will go straight to my waist line.

In fact they should be banned. Outlawed. Disgusting. I shall never eat them again. Far to much energy input against energy output.

On to more important things. Will I eat the imported iced ginger biscuit or the locally made chocolate covered mint biscuit first? I will save one for later. Which will give me more pleasure later?

But gee I am sad. I really wish I could have eaten my very own one last potato cake. Ok, potato scallop for some of you.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Time to go Macca

Australia All Over is a national radio program that goes out to Australia via ABC Local Radio, both metropolitan and regional. Add to that, the program also goes out on Radio Australia, our short wave overseas service and of course streams on the web. Clear as mud isn't it.

AAO's presenter is Ian McNamara and he is very popular with many people. Regardless, while I like the show he presents and the interesting guests, Macca has no place behind a microphone and I would say that he is less organised, more bumbling, more stuttering, more unfinished sentences, more paper rattling, more ums and ahs than he has ever been. He is getting worse as he gets older, as do my faults.

I won't even mention his extreme conservatism, political incorrectness (not really a fault at times), erratic rudeness and his general intolerance to anyone who is not from the bush or even alternative views. "I don't know.........'trail off'......."

Through January this year, the show was presented by members of ABC's The Coodabeens and what a pleasurable listening it was. Just as interesting but with accomplished radio broadcasters.

It is time ABC management. There will be howls of protests from many corners but Macca's broadcasting skills are clearly not defensible. Get a couple of Coodabeens to present, and in six month time, check on the higher ratings and the less rants about the show, such as mine. The Coodas could build the show to something brialliant and to be proud of.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Came Across a Beauty

As we were leaving South Melbourne Market last Sunday, R noticed this car and drew my attention to its magnificence. There was not a speck of dust on this EH Holden Special, from 1963 or 1964.

The EH had the first of what was called the 'red' motors, which superseded the old 'grey' motor. They were very reliable, although the brakes, steering and gearshift were very ordinary. You just so would not want to drive it heavy traffic and to be changing gears all the time. An automatic transmission was available, the Hydramatic, but it was very very slow and slowed the car down considerably as it slurred between its four forward gears.

The EH was available in two engine sizes, 149 cubic inches and 179 and the larger would move the car from 0 to 60mph in a bit over ten seconds, respectable by today's standards.

Note the grommet looking objects in the centre door pillar. Looks like the seat belts have been replaced too.

Sol the Stupid

While we in Australia may or may not be racist, the cheek of the departing American boss of Telstra, Sol Trujjilo, accusing us of racism. We hate you as a person Sol, what you did and didn't do and all that you stood for Sol, along with your avarice, incompetence, rudeness and general disagreableness. Absolutely nothing to do with your race. You were an arrogant prick.

Now just shut up, you've already buggered orf and so don't come back. Another fine appointee by the ex Prime Minister John Howard who lost his seat in what should be a safe electorate. Some things do give me pleasure in life.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Ladies Lounge


Well well, Ladies Lounges are still around, in York Street, South Melbourne at least.

'Gentlemen are only permitted to enter in the company of a lady.'

No decent woman would be seen dead in such a place, declared my maternal grandmother.

My paternal grandfather's second wife was often to be found in such a place. She was generous to we kiddies, buying us little toys or a raspberry drink in the pub. I liked that instead of a the neutral smell of my other grandmother, she smelt of cigarettes, beer and perfume and wore bright red lipstick.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The So Cross Puzzle Solved

Good name for a railway station. Thanks Ann.

Of course I could have just asked the blog world, or even asked at the station, but that is just too easy. I wanted to find the platform at Southern Cross Station where the train to Sydney leaves and departs, only because I was annoyed that it was not obvious to me when I looked.

I surveyed the station from the Bourke Street walkway. I established it was not a platform on the western side of the station where the metropolitan platforms are located.

But none of the country platforms seemed to fit the bill. I read every indicator on each platform nothing.

I took a break to think and bought a sandwich. I watched a couple of country trains arrive and depart as I et. A lad walked past smoking. I don't think that is allowed but gosh I would laughed if someone challenged him. Naughty lad smoking amid the thick diesel fumes from the idling trains.

I was at ground level where the country trains arrive and depart. I checked the platforms. What? They start at Platform 2? Where is 1? Ah, an arrow pointing to Platform 1. I walked along Platform 2 in the direction of the arrow and there was a strange looking train sitting at Platform 1, which may well have been the Sydney train. I looked down at the tracks and the puzzle was solved. It was a double gauge track as you can see in the photo.

The mess that started in the 1800s when railways were first built in Australia continues to have a strong effect.

While New South Wales built standard gauge lines, 4'8 1/2" or 1435mm, Victoria went for Irish broad gauge lines, 5'3" or 1600mm. Our suburban and our country trains are broad gauge so for many years to travel by train to Sydney required a change of trains at Albury. I believe it was in the early 1960s that dual gauge tracks were laid from Melbourne to Albury and a change of trains in the middle of night at Albury was no longer necessary for travellers.

As in many areas, NSW prevailed and interstate train lines are all standard gauge.

Just as an aside, and to indicate what a mess it all is, NSW standard gauge, Victoria broad gauge, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania, Narrow Cape gauge with South Australia opting for both Cape gauge and Broad gauge. (yes, I realise there is an issue with capital letters. I'll let you log in and fix it all if it really troubles you)

You might not be surprised to hear that Australia has the most operating different gauges in the world. I have heard a figure of 24, which would include trains such as Puffing Billy and cane trains and other very minor lines. One line was even triple gauge for a time.

Now to get back on track, pun fully intended, the Sydney train leaves from Platform 1 at So Cross Station and it seems so does the Bacchus Marsh train, trains with different width gaps between their wheels, accommodated by dual gauge.

I spied a chemist at So Cross Station and I needed something a product that chemists sell at usurious prices and as I headed towards the chemist, I saw a V Line ticket office. I went in and asked which platform the Sydney train leaves from and the lass told me that it normally left from Platform 1, so that confirmed my investigation. Then I became more puzzled because the way she said it, indicated that it could leave from another platform. Nah, I just ain't gonna bother.

Which reminds me of something I mentioned to R the other day (I am just so not going to stop writing am I). For my whole life the word pharmacist and pharmacy has been around in the written form, but I have never heard anyone say that they are going to the pharmacy or to see the pharmacist. We only ever say chemist. Correct me if you will.

From So Cross Station I went down Spencer Street and noted that there is so much cheap accommodation along the street. I can't recall the name of the hotel, the one within the old railway administration building that is now apartments and a hotel, but I stopped to direct some Asian tourists who were trying to get into an entrance to the hotel that was clearly for only for guests who had already checked in. The main entrance is on the southern side of the building.

It wasn't too hard to find the new Police Museum. The old one was very small and very cramped. It is now an excellent Museum and I highly recommend it. I found the audio recordings especially interesting, police radio recordings of the Russell Street bombing and the Canberra bush fires of a few years ago.

The dual gauge at Platform 1.

Just a general shot of Southern Cross Station.

That Boyle Woman

There is some really dodgy singing this time, perhaps nerves, but it doesn't matter does it. Susan singing starts at about 1:30.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Fail #91

Can anyone tell me the location? The scene just so does not work.

Landfill Problem

I guess Sister is 'greener' than yours truly. A few years ago R cooked a meal for Sister and the Bone Doctor. Maybe the vegetables had been roasted in oil, I can't remember, but I washed the oil out of the dish and down the sink. Quell horreur Brother. All that oil going down the drain. What will that do to the environment!

She was right of course and it is a matter I am now very conscious about, that is oil and fat going down the sink drain and generally try to avoid it happening.

So I have established Sister's superior green credentials, in one area at least.

When Little Jo was born, Sister signed up for a nappy service. That is, she bought and used cloth nappies and a company came and took away the soiled ones and replaced them with clean fresh nappies.

From what I hear on the young mother with baby grapevine, which is precious little really, is that this often is the case, mothers do exactly what Sister did. Sister partly starting using disposables because she was living in three places, Geelong, Murrumbeena and Wangaratta.

But then Sister totally swallowed her caring for the environment pride and switched over to disposable nappies that fill our rubbish tips in huge numbers. This is quite often the case with first time mothers. I understand why. Sister and the Bone Doctor certainly know why. Mother who grated pure soap, soaked nappies in an enamel bucket and then boiled them certainly knows why and is jealous that disposables weren't around in her day.

Tins, bottles, paper and plastics are not going into Australia's land fill much anymore. Disposable nappies are big time. Very overdue, but visible on the horizon is a television/computer/electronics centrally organised recyling scheme.

Next cab off the rank might be the need to address this scourge of disposal of disposal nappies. I can't imagine how, but some brains should work on it.

Waterboard

Was it the CIA in the US who interrogated the prisoners at what I see is sometimes called Gitmo, Guantanamo. The US does not use torture on suspected terrorists, just an interrogation technique called water boarding, where the victim is strapped down horizontally and made to feel like he is drowning.

One victim, and yes, I am using that word consciously, was subjected to this 63 or 83 times. I can't recall, but in the multiple tens. Apparently, according to a Mr Cheney, this saved the world from terrorism.

Of course it is boring to watch, and so probably can't be construed as torture. It would be ever so much more interesting to see some real old fashioned torture, such as bit of electro applied to a bloke's nads, but apparently this might fall in the category of torture.

While Cheney and his ilk play around with definitions of torture, they cannot stand on any moral high ground and lecture others. And god help any future US prisoners captured on foreign soil. They can expect no mercy and the captors would laugh at pleas from the US government.