Saturday, October 17, 2009

In Black and White

Brief mention of a project I am involved in, Our Fading Past in today's (Sat) Herald Sun Black and White column. Can't find it online.

Tony is to be interviewed on ABC Melbourne radio within a week or so on a Sunday morning about the same.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Train Wires

I read an interesting letter to the editor in a newspaper recently. Interesting to me anyway.

If you are in Melbourne, have you noticed hanging weights near train wire support structures? I certainly have but never thought about them much. I assumed they were for adjusting the tension of train overhead wires and they are. I thought they were permanent, and it seems they are, although they are not meant to be.

Take a look at how tram wires sag on a very hot day. Train wires do the same. The distance between the train wire support structures is wider than what is ideal. As the letter said, in summer, weights were added to tighten up the overhead train wires. In winter they were removed.

This adjusting must have been quite labour intensive as it is not present day practice, resulting in train wires sagging in the heat to point where they are nearly touching the the top of the trains.

I take the letter as gospel cautiously, but it makes sense. Privately run trains systems can't be expected to spend money where it is not to their advantage or clearly of benefit to their operation of trains. On one side of the balancing scales go occasional disruption because of overhead wiring failure and the associated costs to the train company and on the other side of the scales goes labour intensive maintenance. My view is that a private company will make a simple economic judgment about such matters. The company will go with whichever option is cheaper and they have a duty to the company to do so.

But is the private train company really responsible for overhead wires? I don't know. Train tracks are still government owned. Who pays for the maintenance? Such is privatisation. Who knows who is responsible for what?

Fairly or unfairly, the private company will get the blame for almost everything associated with trains. Governments like this and I am quite sure a company bidding to run train systems know this.

We are about to get a new train operator in Melbourne. Travellers were very dissatisfied with the old company. I don't expect the new company will have our messy train system sorted out by christmas and nor do I expect to see them adding or subtracting weights to wires.

As always, we live in interesting times. Let us sit back and watch.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Clifton Hill After Lunch

Ok, I have done Clifton Hill Before Lunch. Here is the rest, After Lunch.

What a nasty looking vehicle parked in the street. I want some brake fluid to spoil its paintwork.

I walked down Gold Street which brought me to the lovely Darling Gardens. It almost had everything I require in a park, green grass, deciduous trees, and a rotunda. Alas no pretty flower beds. The shot tower in Alexandra Parade was built in 1882.

I walked along North Terrace and admired some of the houses.

At the corner of Hoddle Street I pressed the walk button just before the lights turned to green for traffic to cross Hoddle Street but the walk did not light. I waited for the next cycle and then understood why. The lights have a 'head off' walk signal, that is the walk comes up for long enough for pedestrians to get onto the roadway before the lights change to green for the traffic. Very sensible and should be more widespread. I crossed Hoddle Street to this automated train level crossing. I remember when a man used to operate these gates manually by turning a wheel something like a ship steering wheel in the signal box.

The street has changed its name to Ramsden Street. On the far side of signal box looking west was a billboard with a raised platform behind it and it was from here that Julian Knight started his fifteen minute shooting spree, killing and wounding people, before moving north towards High Street and Queens Parade.

It was a very pleasant walk along Ramsden Street. Lot of home renovation activity and the houses were generally well maintained. Yes, the ubiquitous mothers and prams abounded. These Tibetan prayer flags had seen better days. I like their decay.


These blue bricks are unusual. At the rear of the house is what looks to be old horse stables converted to housing.


We can see these two domes from our place at night when they are lit up. So what building is it? I could find out myself but I give you the chance to show off your knowledge. Looking east.


There are lots of little groups of local shops for local people in Clifton Hill. They have disappeared from many suburbs.


After walking the length of Ramsden Street, I turned left into Yambla Street. What is now Quarries Park used to be where the brick quarry was. Beyond the park is Merri Creek just before it joins the Yarra River. It is a duty of all Clifton Hill residents to love and cherish Merri Creek.


Left into Wright Street and right in Fenwick Street. Ah, Fenwick Street was where the boyfriend and his sister of the Fijian Indian partner of the ex NT politician owned a house and sold a month or so ago.

Left into Spensley Street. Many years ago we had a friend who was a good bit older than us. She was a good catholic. She smoked and drank to excess on Saturday night and then attended mass on Sunday. She was rewarded with cheap church accommodation for old people in Spensley Street.

Now at the roundabout at Spensley and Berry Street. I wonder if this is the Berry Street where the children's accommodation is? Educate me if you want. Very grand looking pub, but of course everyone is sitting in nearby cafes with plenty of mothers with prams about.


I am now approaching Clifton Hill Station for the journey home. A beggar lass now approached me for money. I said no in the nicest possible manner. She understood no and did not pull a knife, mace or battery acid.

Many newish apartment buildings line John Street, on the eastern side of the station.

This side of the station is newer and cheaply constructed but it is sympathetic to the old on the other side. Of course it doesn't work, but better than nothing.



Is Clifton Hill a good place for Mutant to live? By my observations, he will be among his own kind and wider society. That can't be a bad thing. In spite of the blight of the road bridges, Clifton Hill is nice. I look forward to his whinges about finding a parking space at the local shops and having a bad knee from an assault by a mother with a large pram.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

New Phone

It has been ten months since my mobile phone contract ended. In spite of enticements by Telstra I just let it slide until I was ready. I did not want to sign up to another two year contract for a higher price and a phone I did not really want. I looked at 3 but they did not have a phone I liked for a price I liked. I looked at Ebay every so often and informed myself.

While an Iphone might be nice, I am no longer a label queen, as I said when I asked for my birthday a Thomson MP3 player rather than an Ipod.

I saw a phone advertised on tram and bus shelters earlier this year. I liked the look of it. I never enter competitions but I did enter one to win this phone. I was confident that I would win it, but it never arrived.

Every so often I mentioned to R about me buying a new phone, thinking aloud really, but I know he has a threshold before he says, for god's sake just buy one. He bought a slider phone in Singapore last year and I liked his phone and its system. Given I have owned the same brand phone over six phones and I am used to them, feeling comfortable with a different brand such as R's, was important to me. R's phone had to have a 'skippy plug', a power plug adapter for Australia. I laughed when the cute salesman called it that.

All that I was now undecided about was that weight and size of the new phone would be more than my old one. Oh well, maybe I won't be able to carry it in my shirt pocket.

Onto Ebay. Plenty of them, mostly locked, meaning they are locked into a service provider. While you can pay to get them unlocked, too much bother.

For less than one hundred dollars more I found a unlocked model, four weeks old. I asked the seller a couple of questions about it and he responded quickly, albeit very briefly. Not English as a first language I think. He was in Queensland. Sounded ok and I bought it.

The money promptly disappeared from my bank account and the phone arrived soon after. The packaging was original and complete although a little knocked around. The phone was clearly older than four weeks. The back had some wear marks on it but the front was perfect. All the bits were there.

In the phone were photos of himself I guess, and one of his female friend, along with a photo of a sliver tray and again I am guessing, his unit's backyard. Also was his Toowoomba home address and a couple of other text messages in I think Indonesian.

However, part of the deal was, 'I will throw in a memory card for free', a large one I recall. The memory card was not with the phone.

I sent him a message via Ebay and he did not respond. I let it go for a few days and took another look at his profile. Odd, his profile has been deregistered. His initials had no connection to the very higher Anglo name he was trading under. I sent him another message with no response.

I looked at Ebay's dispute resolution process. I found an Ebay user's message board and asked whether I should proceed with a complaint. I received some good advice and information. I am not going to bother with with a complaint. I am not prepared to put in the time.

Today I bought a memory card suitable for my purposes for less than $20. The seller has been deregistered so it won't happen to anyone else.

Oddly the seller had a perfect buy and sell record on Ebay, of around forty trades but I think he was buying and selling for someone else.

However, I am delighted with my new phone. It is not too heavy for my shirt pocket, the camera is magnificent and has a flash. Google maps are there, as is a GPS, currency and measurement converters et al. It is touch screen. Touch the screen and something happens, or drag your finger across the screen and things scroll or move. It has a slide out keypad too. And it looks nice with very bright and colourful screen. All I need is more time to play with it. Looks like I did not need an MP3 player, as the phone seems able to do that very well too.

Ah, so this is it, a Samsung Ultra Touch or S8300 or if you are in Europe or the UK, an Ultra Tocco. Mine has a black and not red keypad but it still has the red trim.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Not Like

A classified personal ad.

Also, looking for some nice slave boys who are not shy in front of a camera. I'm not into Asian or Indian or Poz or with no pics... If u don't like that...Well i couldn't give a fuck

Does this sound like a nice person? Someone anyone would like to meet? No pics ok, but the rest is pretty vile. I am not talking about what someone's preference is but how they state it. Why make it so negative and clearly set out to make people feel inferior?

Rephrased, 'I prefer similar', (to himself and hopefully he gave his own description) is a non offensive way to express exactly the same thing without the put downs.

Poz mean HIV positive. No one is who is not monogamous, and many have lied about this, can guarantee that they are HIV negative. Practice safe sex. Besides, there are code words in personals such as 'healthy' or 'clean'.

Why personal classifieds allow such wording, I do not know.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Not my birthday

Well, it is not my birthday yet the celebrations have been and gone. I have had my presents too, bar one.

Saturday night we met with Sister, Little Jo, Sis In Law and Teen Niece at the Dick Whittington for dinner. We had a great meal. Fillet Mignon for $20 put me in a very good frame on mind. The Dick has butchers paper table coverings and crayons on each table, so Little Jo was entertained, as was Teen Niece. Little Jo shared her stickers with Teen Niece to adorn their artwork.

Little Jo has had a cold and so Sister is trying to get her to cover her mouth if she coughs. Little Jo forgets though. You tell her, said Sister. She'll listen to you. Sister must have picked up that I already nag Little Jo about please and thank you and make her pick things up off the floor. So not only will I have to teach Little Jo how to apply makeup, now I must teach her manners too.

We came back to our place for cake and coffee. Little Jo helped me to blow out my candles.


The visitors did not stay too long. R gave Sis in Law the opals to pass on to his sisters when she sees them in the UK.

Yesterday the Brighton Antique Dealer had organised a bash at Milanos at Brighton Beach. Last week it was decided to make it a get together for my birthday too. She gave me this gorgeous tray and a Limouge side plate. I am very pleased with the tray.

Frankly, it wasn't a great lunch. R and I weren't at the table when orders were been taken. We chased the waitress and put out orders in just a few minutes after everyone else. Everyone's meal arrived at the same time, except mine and R's. R's came five minutes later but although staff kept apologising for the delay, mine did not arrive until everyone else had finished. Given there was about fifteen in our party, I thought my meal might have been removed from the bill, but nope. It wasn't that I was particularly hungry. I just hated everyone else fussing about it.

We adjourned to another large room to see a ten piece band with a female vocalist. They were terrific but we did not stay long. Back to BAD's place for coffee and more cake. I find such socialising hard work. I should not complain but be grateful to have friends.

Milanos. Great building, nice bars inside and sea views.

BAD's shop house. There is a half metre high board between the shop and the house to step over. It stops her dog causing mayhem in the shop.

Clifton Hill before lunch

I suspect pretty meaningless to Mutant who gave me the thought to take a look, but as soon as I hear the name Clifton Hill, my mind goes back to when seven people were killed and umpteen were injured, not by a crazed gunman, but by a calculating ex army nutter, Julian Knight.

He picked his victims off like flies. This man had no humanity and I am pleased he will never step outside the confines of prison, ever. His right of appeal to the courts has been taken away from him, but even now, he trying to get before the courts to restore his right go before the courts. No Julian, you may well outlive me, but you have a miserable life and will continue to do so, as you so deserve for your crime. It was not a crime of passion, but of cold hard blooded thrill seeking murder of the innocent. You are worse than a mass murdering terrorist.

I would guess many Clifton Hill residents have no knowledge of Knight or the impact of the event at the time. Sorry, but I can't forget it. I will try not to taint my post too much.

I was in Prahran, about other business. I caught the train from Prahran Station, dumped at Platform 127A Lower Flinders St East as usual and noticed one escalator had been installed. Does it go up or down? Or both depending on the time? It wasn't going anywhere when I was there. Clambered up the steps and found the platform for the Epping/Hurstbridge train lines.

A rubber pedestrian crossing at Prahran Station. Is this to stop wheel chairs getting stuck due to frequent pavement movement next the tracks?

I was reading paper as the train went around the loop and then we then shot out of the dark and after a brief stop at Jolimont, the train accelerated away and passed straight through stations along the way and did not stop until Clifton Hill. What a dream train trip along what I noticed seemed to be a slightly deficient train track, that is there was a good bit of train sway.

One old sign observed from the train. Hope I can remember where to go back for a snap.

I read the other day that Clifton Hill was one of the first inner northern areas where property prices increased dramatically, from the 1980s on I guess. From what I saw of the area, it is mostly housing with little industry. The side streets to the east of Hoddle Street don't lead anywhere and so are quiet. There is a decent number of parks and sporting facilities. In fact it seems like a perfect place for young families who want to live close to the city and can afford the prices.

Clifton Farm was there before the area was subdivided and called Clifton Hill. On the eastern edge a basalt quarry was operated by City of Melbourne until the 1950s. Other land uses before the subdivision were for cattle agistment and as a dumping ground for Melbourne's sewerage. Lovely.

The area exploded as prime residential land once the the cable tram reached Clifton Hill to terminate at Merri Creek in 1887. I am fairly sure it was the last main cable tram route in Melbourne and survived until the 1940s. Naturally you can read about it at Jayne's Lost and Found. In 1901 the train arrived, making it an area very well served by public transport and it still is.

Working from memory here. The cable trams were replaced by double deck buses but buses just could not cope with the passenger loadings and I think electric tams replaced them in time for Melbourne's Olympics in 1956.

A nice enough looking station greeted me at Clifton Hill and then a very ugly pedestrian subway led me under Hoddle Highway.....no, I am just not going to say Highway, Hoddle Street and shortly I was in Mayors Park next to the tennis courts. Mayors Park is somewhat utilitarian but at least it is green space. Very very ugly road overpasses blight this part of Clifton Hill. Like many inner suburbs, Clifton Hill is on the way to somewhere and suffers the blight of heavy through traffic.

I spied a tram waiting at traffic lights and I then worked out where exactly I was. I remember this place from years ago but I never took much notice at the time.

Oh, lookies. Could that be a new favourite dining hole for Mutant within what is a wonderful looking building. Look out, nearly run over by a mother with a pram.

Lovely looking shop buildings. Paint shops side by side tell me this is a high DIY home renovation suburb. No Ronnie cracks about bristols please.

I thought this building above might have been a post office in a past life, but no, here is the post office. Wonder what the building was. I crossed the road to a nice looking bakery. Oops, mind the pram. Here is the proper Post Office.

I find it odd that the road is so wide here and given there are old buildings on both sides of the road, it can't have been widened since the early nineteen hundreds. Probably never.

Wow, another gorgeous shop with old tin toys, just like I found in Carlton. I want one, a toy or the shop.

I think the bakery was called Delganos and they served me a very fine pie and a decent cup of coffee. It was very busy and noisy inside so I sat out in the cool breeze. I enjoyed the passing parade of prams pushed by mothers.

Cars came and went in the right angle parking spaces. A very incompetent driver was nosing her beast into a space right in front of of where I was sitting. Am I to make tomorrow's headlines in such an ignominious manner? I was ready to bolt. She eventually got it right and unloaded her baby and pram from the car.

While there seems to be plenty of service road parking, spaces seem to be in very high demand. With a car about to leave, another is waiting to move in.

Now Delganos is not so big inside and it was already full when six mothers with prams arrived and entered the shop. I can only conclude there is a courtyard at the back.

Naturally there is a large catholic church nearby.

Ok, on my way. The rest of my Clifton Hill visit in another post.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Park and Fitzroy, St Kilda

This was the first of Fitzroy Street's new tram stops. The tram is known as a Bumblebee, for obvious reasons. It is French made and only leased by Yarra Trams. It is soon to return to Spain along with its other few mates that service Route 96.

The bike lane is a new addition but cyclists have issues with it. I have my own issues with it and I will write about that later. Note that Fitzroy Street now has a forty kilometre speed limit and yes, that motel above the shops is still there. What that motel has seen in its life time would make hair curl.

When tiny little clumps of grass were planted at the tram stop, I was doubtful they would survive. I was sure they would quickly be trampled to death but at least the area closest in the photo are doing well.

Fitzroy Street is much more pleasant and with less traffic due to the efforts of City of Port Phillip, Yarra Trams and Vic Roads. Not often you would hear praise by me for any of them.

And here is a photo of the venerable Prince of Wales Hotel. It is looking very fine these days, but still has its original feel in the ground level bars. There are serving windows to the street seating, a very pleasant place to sit in tree leaf filtered rays on a sunny day.