Saturday, January 09, 2010

Happy Birthday Shirl

No not me Lord Sedgwick. It is Dame Shirl's seventy third birthday. Happy birthday Shirl.

Not to many 71 year olds could get a young crowd going such as she did a couple of years ago at Glastonbury Music Festival with her cover of Pink's Get the Party Started. I just love it. Thanks for the alert Stephen.

Visitors Required

It seemed like a good idea at the time, but a week later we haven't even finished the border. We need visitors to help. Little Jo will be here later today, but I am not putting much faith in her assistance.

Friday, January 08, 2010

The Culture Gap

Be assured, I am not out to offend anyone, least of all my American blog friends. This is purely observational. But isn't there always a but?

In order.

Last year's Red Faces episode. I don't think too many Australian's took offence. I don't think too many recent black immigrants thought that any of it applied to them. I don't think too many Blackfellas would have thought it applied to them. It possibly could have been very offensive to any black person from the US who was here in Australia. Black people from the US who are Australian residents might number .0005%. Sorry if we offended you, but it is our culture and we meant nothing by it.

We in Australia have heard of schools not celebrating christmas because it might offend minorities. The evidence of this is very thin on the ground. We all celebrate christmas in Australia. Christian, Buddhist, Moslem, Hindu et al. I am the least religious person you might come across, but even I celebrate christmas. It is our culture and probably for most people, not really a religious thing. Think of it as the fourth of July or something. Families gather and eat too much and give gifts. It is an Australian thing and if some people with strong religious feelings refuse to participate, then it will be their children who get on board when they grow up.

I kind of thought it was similar in the US, but no. I am absolutely astonished that people in the US really do say Happy Holidays. People of the US clearly view christmas as a Christian religious celebration. Every one is celebrating the same event but instead of calling it christmas, they call it holidays. Given it is winter in the US, does anyone really have holidays when the snow is falling?

And the there is the latest botheration. That is, an ad for Kentucky Fried Chicken. R told me a good while ago that I must be more modern and call it KFC. I have memories of when it was Kentucky Fried Chicken/Rabbit. KFC it is then. Jayne has written quite eloquently (can writing be eloquent or is it just speech?) about the matter so I shall just rant.

I saw the ad the other night. I laughed. I thought it was amusing. Did I think it was having a go at black Americans? No, furtherest thought from my mind. It was just about cricket and the KFC product and our connection through cricket with England, South Africa, India, Pakistan, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and the West Indies. Nowt to do with black Americans.

I will rather have egg on my face if you tell me that this was an Australian ad that was to be screened in the US also, but I don't think so.

Australia is our country. We are similar to the US in many ways, but we are not the US. Our values and humour do differ. Gawd, at least there was some legal basis to us bowing to British Imperialism. That we bow to American cultural imperialism appalls me.

And fifty bucks to me from KFC, thanks. Your publicity machine did great and I have furthered your work.

Where are we?

We sat at a table this morning for something to eat and coffee and gazed upon this pretty bed of roses. But where were we?

Leave only footprints

Man and his best friend.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Getting Ready

Konichi wa. Si yor nara. Do I need to know anymore Japanese language?

I don't like sushi or sashimi. Will I starve to death in Japan? Maybe I can survive on tempura. Soup for breakfast? I don't think so. Hopefully our friend in Japan has a toaster and we can toast some bread for our breakfast. We will have our own Vegemite. Except R does not like Vegemite. I will have Vegemite on my person.

Shinkansen is spelt with an e or an a in the middle. Bullet train is easier but not as exotic.

Must learn the names of the islands, at least the main ones. When asked, main island will no longer do. Aussie people seem to know the names of Japanese islands.

While I am quite happy to show my bits to anyone who wants to see, them, do I want to display them publicly at an onsen?

Beautiful cherry blossom trees will be quite ugly when we are there.

Must find out exactly what Miso is. I think it is not healthy.

Trying to work out a head currency conversion. Add 1/4 to our dollar? 1000 = 1.25?

I have had contact with a Japanese person. After some time my head was nodding up and down a lot and I was saying something like Hi rather a lot. My version of it was more like the Scottish Aye which I am known to use often enough.

Early days, plenty of time. I am now officially slightly excited.

R and I were educated tens of thousands of miles away from each other, but we both learnt about Mount Fuji at school, and so we must see it.

Indian Student

We Aussies are quite good at getting rid of backpackers. We torture them to death, stab them, fry them in hot sun, burn them in their accommodation or in a bush fire and set the drop bears or the hoop snakes on to them. Then sometimes we just simply beat them to death, more of a challenge than stabbing or shooting them, but we do both of those too.

But then are our permanent residents who aren't citizens. We seem to be dealing with them too. Nothing like a bit of knife work to teach those foreign born to show us original Aussies and the non original Aussies (my guess at a perpetrator) some respect. Oh, then there is the original original Aussies. I had a bad experience with them recently.

Ok, to the point and end of dramatics and attempts at attracting attention.

Melbourne is my city. I love it dearly. I was born here and I have spent the last 35 years here. It is like my child in so far as I and my friends can critisise it, but I won't hear too much from strangers.

I am not a fool though, well not totally. I know it is not all good and not filled with all good people. Some are bad. I have generally managed to avoid such people through my life.

One way to avoid bad people is to not walk through parks in the dark. A VIP Indian/Australia doctor learnt this when he was nearly beaten to death in a park. Sadly a new Australian Indian lad was stabbed to death as he walked through a park at night.

Racist or opportunistic attack, who knows. Park at night time? Not saying anything, but could even be a homophobic attack. It wasn't robbery.

Why had this lad, who had already been the victim of an attack a while ago, not learnt, or not been told the dangers of parks at night time? As he is a resident and someone who had obviously lived here for a while, had he not picked up the dangers of parks at night time.

Of course we should be able to walk through a park anytime and that we can't is over the government and the police. But if they aren't doing their jobs, then you really have to look after yourself a bit.

As for the perpetrator(s)? I think forty years would be appropriate, with at least thirty to serve. Is there much worse a human could do to another?

I don't always agree with Miranda Devine from the Sydney Morning Herald, but her copy on the subject is worth a read. The crime statistics for NYC seem really hard to ignore.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Summer Holiday

Winter here though. Oh dear. What have we done. I blame Evol Kween. He tipped me over the edge. It seems we have booked a return flight to Japan mid year. It was an English colony right? So they will all speak English right? We'll be fine. We will worry about the fine detail later, including how to pay for it.

Mother's Cats


I think there were five cats sunning themselves on a cool day at Mother's. This is an old car of my late step father's in the driveway that fortunately was hidden by his newer car, the same model but two years younger. He kept the older one for parts. The old one has gone for scrap metal. Nephew bought the newer one for $600 as he was without wheels and money after he returned from Glasgow.

Mother has been taking photos of the cats with her disposable camera. She is realising that the cats are disposable too and must go. God knows how many there are now after the breeding season. She has a favourite which she intends to keep.

Of course, agreeing to get rid of them being gone are two different matters. Most of them are wild and know their refuge spaces, mostly under the house. One attempt has been made already before Step Father died but only the friendliest and favourites were caught. The screaming of the captured cats was horrendous.

Step Father was the one who started feeding stray cats. Mother felt like she needed to continue and so she does, twice a day with top brand cat food and special cat milk. It takes her an hour or so a day with bowl cleaning and mess cleaning. She complains about it and enjoys the martyr role, but it is becoming too much bother for her now.

I am just thinking, maybe she slowly reduce their food until they just drift off.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Failed inventions

Kiwi Nomad has nice shiny new spouting. She inspired this post when I suggested she wash her dirty walls down....no that is a fib, but it adds colour. We were talking about walls though.

Just curious if any of you may have bought something that was supposed to do a job, but for varied reasons, just did not. A few come to my mind that we tried. Only one went back for a refund as it was clearly defective in its design.

Roto Scrub. It connected to your garden hose and the water pressure rotated the scrubbing head. Some you could put liquid soap into. It could be used on cars, boats, exterior house walls, in fact many areas. The theory was great. The weight of it was great too. It was so heavy you needed to be Hercules to use it for a sustained period, especially if you were washing down a vertical service. I think ours went to one of Mother's garage sales.

The next we saw at a home show at the Exhibition Buildings. It was a window cleaner. See, always looking to make life a little easier and usually fail. We were very hesitant about buying it even though the demonstration proved how well it worked. I think we paid $27 for it and that was a few years ago now. The device came in two parts. It had a strong magnet and as you moved the cleaning part around on the window, the magnet held the other cleaning part on the other side of the window, hence you were cleaning both sides at the same time. Ideal for cleaning our balcony windows. Except, there was no warning to take into account the thickness of the glass. Our glass is thick. I tried to use it. The outside part fell off the glass and landed right at the edge of gap between the balony floor and the balcony glass. It could have killed someone if it went over the edge. We tried to convince friends who had more conventional windows to buy it from us, but no. I think we just threw it out.

The last comes from much longer ago, when we lived in East Malvern. It was a flat hose and rolled up into a very neat little round package. When it was plugged onto the tap, it inflated with water and once the water stopped it shrank back again and you just reeled it up. It lasted about a week before it started leaking at the seams. It went straight back to the shop for a refund. Wouldn't you think the manufacturer, Nylex I think, would have tested it for a couple of weeks at least?

Do you have any to add to the list?

Monday, January 04, 2010

Paddy Pearl

A woman with the name Paddy Pearl just has to be interesting. Let us delve.

Right. Paddy is 86 years old and widow of Cyril Pearl, ajournalist/writer/poet/founder and editor of Sydney's Sunday Telegraph. I have heard of him but that is all. Cyril was born in Fitzroy and educated in Melbourne before moving to Sydney. This photo of Paddy is from the ABC. What can you read into her face? She is reminding me a bit of Dame Pattie Menzies. Not really much about Paddy on the net. She well may be interesting, but this is more about her house. It is just her name that grabbed my attention.


Paddy has just sold her Tasmanian house for $1.54 million and donated the money to medical research, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. Cyril, her husband, she was his second wife, died in Sydney in 1987 and six years later she bought a house in Tasmania and moved there.

The property, Campania House was built in 1810 in the Coal River Valley, near Richmond, 35km north of Hobart. It may well be the oldest residential house in Australia. It is two storey, with eight bedrooms and the house is of the Georgian style. Paddy spent hundreds of thousands of dollars renovating the house and bring it back to a standard more befitting its history.

I have found these photos sprinkled about the web. The exterior of the house is quite plain. I would guess the walls are about one foot thick, keeping out the Tassie chill and almost unbelievably when it was 36 deg in Melbourne last week, it was 38 in Hobart, so keeping out the summer heat too. The house furnishings seem to grab your attention more than the house. I shall say the house in understated.


Solar panels indeed. Very progressive.


It nestles down very comfortably in its beautiful surroundings, and by the look of it, sitting well about the river's flood plain.


This would be the nearby Coal River I suppose, running a banker it seems.

A beautiful cantilevered staircase within the house.


I suppose I could rattle around in the house over summer if I had to.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

The Medjia

I suspect there must be a reason why there isn't media coverage of the teenage Jessica Watson's solo yacht trip around the world. I think she is approaching Cape Horn now. Batten down, I would suggest to her. I suspect the reason for no coverage may be some sponsorship deal she and probably her family have set up. Even so, the resources of our ABC could still give some coverage without the taint of commercialism. Please explain, and then read on. I haven't finished with the ABC yet.

There is a NSW chap stuck up a mast and he won't come down. He has been up there for over a month and is on a hunger strike. Middle Child gives some good coverage from her perspective. I don't really understand what it is about very well. It has received coverage in NSW media, but so far as I know, meaning I haven't heard anything, it hasn't here in Victoria. What is it Middle Child? Forty two day hunger strike by a farmer stuck up a pole and we in Victoria don't know about it. Hmmm, very interesting.

Oh yes, the ABC. More specifically ABC Local Radio when the ABC Local Radio is not local radio but national. This lack of local radio every year at this time coincides with the non rating period for commercial radio. It seems to start earlier each year, this year in November but at least local presenters do seem to reappear a little earlier in January. I will opine that Tracy Bartram as a real local for breakfast radio is ok. Libby Gore should get a full time gig, as a replacement for Lindy Burns (I hate being nasty, but I just do not like her on radio). But my real complaint, which surprises me in this high end technological age, is the bad switching between national, local, news, sport. I can never remember it being as bad as it has been this year. Sounds of silence and then soothing music kicks in, missed news intro music, sometimes time pips sometimes not, failed attempts at crosses to correspondents, failed talk back callers. I would suggest it was a damn sight better when someone was actually there, operating the switches. At least there would be someone to blame when it all fell in a heap. The above two are probably due to financial resources. I have done my share of lobbying in the past, back to the days when ABC only cost 7c a day and Parliament broadcasts took over local radio. I will just complain here now.

But, I loves me ABC really, so a bouquet to ABC's Radio National which I seldom listen to but often download podcasts of their programs. I snaffled three episodes of Hindsight, three of Rear Vision and I will go back to see what The Science Show has on offer. Today when I tired of music and ran out of new podcasts, and I have no interest in listening to cricket, I turned on RN for the news at six o'clock and then followed a woman who sounds American, by name and looks is Jewish, and she seems to have presented The Spirit of Things for a long time. Ha you scoff, Andrew listening to a religious radio program.

The episode of The Spirit of Things was called Abode of Love. Here is a cut and paste of a brief summary. It was fascinating.

Growing up in a giant gothic pile called Agapemone, it took years for Kate Barlow to uncover the real story behind the 11 elderly women who shared the mansion in Spaxton, England. The notorious cult also known as the Abode of Love was founded in the 1850s by a self-proclaimed Messiah who practised `spiritual marriage´, but a century later the women including Kate Barlow´s mother were trapped.

I am not checking back on what I have written, so warts and all.