Friday, November 26, 2010

My most boring post ever?

Life exhausts me at times. Without too much to do at home, by about 1pm today I finally got off the internet, that is I had caught up on various things and what youse had all said. I did get lots of other stuff done too. I might spend a lot of time on the internet thingie, but it is rare that I would sit at the pc for very long. One day R will snap and and ask why can't just be still and sit in one place for more than a few minutes. Hey, I do when Spooks is on, except R doesn't like the show, so I have to record it and watch it later, so it turns into I am still up and down.

The important things today was to sort out some biz in Richmond and catch the Frankston, the official abbreviation being FKN, train to Glenhuntly station to meet R and be at our friend's new abode in Caulfield by 4pm.

Last time I looked at a timetable for public transport, I screwed it up. I was looking at pm Sunday when we needed am times and Tram Tracker was telling me the truth. Tram Tracker on your pc is pretty good.

Today again I misread train times. I need a ruler to put across my computer screen. I had just missed my FKN trian to Glenhuntly, and then a short walk to see our friends new place where R would meet me after his work.

Before the next FKN train arrived, there was the Gippsland train due at the same platform, stop Richmond, next stop Nar Nar Goon. Ha, Mother used to be abuser of the country train service to get to Pakenham. She always pleaded silly old woman when challenged. Full speed express from Richmond to Nar Nar Goon? Maybe our public transport is not so bad.

(Haha Peter, there is some good stalking you can do)

So I just missed the FKN train. Maybe if I wait on the Richmond platforms I will see one of our new trains? Nah, did not. There is an awful lot of trains that go through Richmond at that time though. (If you are in Sydney, think Redfern)

While the FKN train I missed was on time, the next FKN train was seven minutes late and duly overcrowded. No one recognised me as an old person and offered me a seat, but I did find my own.

The FKN train runs right behind our friend's new abode, but in spite of peering out, I could not see their place. I alighted from the FKN train at Glenhuntly. I lived in the area a few decades ago, but the area was a bit pretty hazy for me now. I walked westward briefly and stopped and realised I need to go east and then north. The Neerim Road crossing on the FKN train line is pedestrian unfriendly. Pedestrians will only cross on the eastern side of the FKN train line. As I stood there and tried to work out the crossing, a FKN train approached and the booms came down. I just walked across the road as everything was stopped. I gave a thought to when I briefly lived nearby and there wasn't a boom gate and a bloke came out of box to open and shut the railway gates. He had a brazier to keep keep him warm in the winter. In spite of being of being gay, I do like a good brazier.

Although the FKN train was late, the train trip wasn't a bad experience for me, unlike when I had a really bad train trip when going to Sister's old place in Murrumbeena. Yeah, the FKN train worked ok for me.

Our friend's partner is used to catching the Dandenong train to work. Ok. It could be some other far out destination train point, but for my mind, it is the Dandenong train. He now has a choice between the Dandenong train and the FKN train line, both lines being equidistant from his abode. He caught the FKN train the first day and was dumped at Flinders Street Station when he needed to get to Flagstaff Station. Poor luv, I am sure he will work it all out in time. Perhaps he will have to do the Richmond Station dash.

Our friend's new place is very smart, two bedrooms with ensuites and a study. Very high ceilings and high quality finishes. But already they have made it look overcrowded and junky. The railway line is only metres away but with the double glazed windows, the trains pass by pretty well silently.

Here is a list of issues they found the first day.
Our friend's shower would not drain. Plumber discovered the tiler had left a protective plug in the drain.
A kitchen cupboard door opens fully and presses the start button on the dishwasher.
The water is solar heated, supplemented by an instantaneous water heater. The water was very cool.
No cutlery insert in the cutlery drawer.
The edge of a drawer had been trimmed and not repainted.
While there are outdoor power points in what is a utility area, there is none on the decking where they want to put a bar fridge.
The hole placement for the fill and drain for the washing machine is entirely in the wrong place.

These have or will be fixed. What they are not sure about is that they have a tank and alternative plumbing to flush the lavs. But there is no pump and the toilets are connected to the mains water.

I hope Loz and his better half have taken note.

Sunset

Sunset, both photos looking west.



And looking east while the sun is setting.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Where is Jussy?

Where is Planning Minister Justin Madden?

Premier: Sorry, Jus, you are a liability. Just stick to your own area and please do and say nothing about Planning. You know post election, if we make it, I'll have to give you something else. Would you like to go back to Sport? Of course it is not a demotion, just somewhere where.....

Exit Madden.

Premier: Secretary, what are the polls telling us about people's views on the performance of Public Transport or Community Services? We need a Minister for Northern Ireland position for a certain person.

Premier scratches the initials JM next to both on his portfolio list.

You see Justin, there are good reasons why notable historical buildings and streetscapes should be kept intact. People don't have to be housed in very tall or overwhelming buildings to increase our urban population density. We can reuse old buildings for new purposes. And let's face it Jus, buildings are going up in established neighbourhoods that local residents hate, which wouldn't be so bad if you were successfully containing urban sprawl, but you have struck out on both counts. Let me show you just a couple I recently came across.

The State Library, the Queen Victoria Hospital with a changed usage and a modern office building with shopping centre that while new, pays some respect to the old around it. Across the road, the purpose built modern Melbourne Central is horrible and I avoid it but the QV redevelopment works for me and given how busy it gets, for others too.


See here? Nice work in bringing this old building into the twenty first century.


A single storey building in the city? Crazy economics. But Justin, it is not all about money and economics you know.


I am not going to say this mish mash of buildings is particularly nice but the buildings are warm and friendly, comfortable, like a pair of well worn in shoes.


Have I been unfair in my harsh criticism of your performance Justin? No Justin, because you know as well as I do, it is all about PER CEP TION.

Later Edit: I truly did not know. I just came across this at Walking Melbourne. The more ornate building is the Leitrim Hotel. It is for the chop. I took a photo of the building next door for the old signs project, Our Fading Past, and noticed the hotel name in the photo later and so I went back to get a proper photo of the hotel. Quite a co-incidence but obviously not one I am happy about.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sad Day

It is a sad day across Tasman Sea in the land of the Long White Cloud. I looked at their photos to see how many were f'able and none particularly seemed to be. Just very ordinary blokes doing an honest day's work but in a bad workplace situation.

I have been to Greymouth, in our hired campervan. I would have to check our photos, but I think we partook of lunch there. I so want to pronounce Greymouth as Greymth. I have always thought of it that way. Let me check where it is. Yes, we stopped there and bought supplies before we tackled Arthurs Pass.

How defective my memory can be. I just saw a town south of Greymouth called Hokitika. I am sure we went there. Why would we go there and back track to Arthurs Pass? I have looked at the map some more, and we clearly did not go over Arthurs Pass, but Haast Pass or something like that. We spent a day or two at Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier. Yes, now I remember. Haast Pass. Be fair, it was nearly thirty years ago.

I love it when conspiracy theories come out. It just shows that wool cannot be pulled over eyes. We need to remain suspicious. I was puzzled about what the latest explosion was ignited by, but smouldering coal from the first explosion sounds quite plausible. While I would not put it past authorities to initiate a final explosion to end what was perhaps futile hope, there were too many people involved for such a thing to not get out.

This is getting very random now. Can anyone tell I don't have to work tomorrow?

I was surprised that NZ's tory PM sounded so like someone from NZ. I know some NZ people can talk proper like, but clearly he is not one of them. Former PM Mrs Clark, being from the Labour Party, had a very down to earth, if not odd manner of speaking, but I don't think her vowels were worse than the present tory PM. How come he did not go to a posh school and have these nasty vowel sounds beaten out of him? What sort of tory leader can he be? Have NZ private schools failed?

I am not sure that it is such a great idea to send blokes underground to dig up stuffs. The death tally in China must amount to thousands. In Australia, not sure about NZ, we have royal commissions when such disasters happen. I think one is called for here. Royal Commissions are quite bureaucratic and expensive, but seem to get good results.

I might say to R cya when he departs for work. He comes home. His work place does his head in, but it is not life threatening.

What has happened in NZ is a bad.

Old Street Directory Ads

I can't remember if I liked Toppa Icecream. If I can't remember, I suppose it was ok. I wonder what happened to 'Australia's most progressive ice cream company'? Insufficiently progressive? Looks progressive enough to me, with three telephone lines in. Embracing technology what.


Funny, the word heart was replaced with the heart symbol way back when. Given the date, that would be an FJ Holden. I wonder if anyone could make a related name to call out of the phone numbers for media advertising? Obviously 'call Bourke now' won't work.

Taxi!

The Herald Sun reports a decline in satisfaction for taxi users in Victorian. This is an issue I have, but let me find out more about our taxis. I am an infrequent user and the times I have used them, the worst I can complain about it incompetent driving skills. In the past year I have caught maybe half a dozen taxis and only one was driven well. Making the drivers pay for their own fuel, brake pads and tyers would help a lot.

My mistake number 1, the Taxi Directorate is not a private umbrella organisation as I thought, but part of the Public Transport Division within the State government.

Very sneaky VTD website. There is a link to to parliamentary acts that govern taxis, but not a direct one. The link only takes you to general legislation site. I hope the site has a good search facility, but I cannot be bothered.

The simple thing I wanted to find out was how often the exterior of a taxi should be washed? I cannot remember seeing so many taxis with filthy exteriors as I have this year. A friend used to drive taxis. Maybe it was company policy rather than a regulation, but at the end of each shift the driver had to wash the car. If our friend's taxi was dirty, he would give it what he called a dollar squirt at a car wash. In practice what happened was if the car was dirty, it was cleaned.

Not so nowadays. So many taxis have built up grime on them, not just grime that accumulates in one day.

The taxi industry is a disgrace. Anecdote after anecdote, media report after media report. Hardly surprising really when a driver might only earn eight dollars an hour. If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. If anyone takes that the wrong way, I don't care. It is an expression that has been around for as long as I have.

It is high time the industry was given a massive shake up. Just remember this, like trams, trains and buses, the taxi industry is controlled by a government department, the Department of Transport. Over to you Minister Pakula.



Post started 30/10/10

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Doing the biz for $$$

That creepy old Ratzinger bloke says it ok for male prostitutes to use condoms to prevent the transfer of disease. God save us from stupid old white men.

In a strongly catholic country like Ireland the number of children women give birth to has dropped from six or seven a few decades ago to two or three. No more quick trips across the Irish Sea for women to get an abortion in England. Clearly old popey is starting to see that his proclamations are being widely ignored and has made a small step into the world of reality and the 21st century.

Has anyone actually added up how many kiddie fiddler priests there are in the world? Well, the ones who have been caught at least. Just wait until some of the third world catholic country pedo priests get discovered. I suppose all these priest would not need condoms for their activities as most of their victims are too young to breed and nor would they have an STD.

Apart from, obviously, the victims, you know who I really for sorry for? It is the decent and honourable priests who are only misguided for following religion but otherwise have led decent, selfless and honourable lives. And if women had been allowed to be priests, the number pedo priests would have been minimal. As well as the men having less numbers, the women in positions of power would not have tolerated bad behaviour to the degree the men in the church hierarchy have. Lordy, move the molesters onto another parish where they have another lovely lot of fresh meat. Great idea, not.

Another person seems a bit troubled by the antics of a local catholic school. Never happen in a protestant school of course. Goes without saying really...doesn't it?

Doughnuts and Classic Cafe.

At the bottom of Swanston Street in Melbourne was Classic Cafe, now McDonalds I think. It was Mother's favourite place to stop for tea on her way to or from the station. Mother wilts quickly without a frequent cup of tea. Like her mother, half drunk cups of tea can often be found around her house. I am afraid I am inclined to do the same, but with coffee. Classic Cafe co-incidently closed about the same time she stopped making shopping excursions to the city. I don't think there is a connection.
In earlier times nearby was a shop that sold doughnuts. Children tend to be fond of doughnuts and we were no exception. But the best part about the doughnuts was watching them being made by the machine in the window. I can't remember the name of the shop. I can also remember a doughnut making machine at Downyflake in Chadstone. Perhaps the city shop was Downyflake too.

At the top of the machine was a reservoir for the doughnut mix. With a plop, into the hot oil below a doughnut shape with a hole in it would fall. The doughnut moved along in the hot oil at some point something mechanical tipped the doughnut over, so it was nicely cooked both sides. Another device moved it onto conveyer chains and the excess oil dripped off. Once the doughnut reached the end of the conveyer chain, it dropped into a mixture of cinnamon and sugar and staff would then make sure both sides were covered and place them into a bag.

'Don't buy them yet Mum', we would ask. We always tried to wait until the doughnut tray with the cinnamon and sugar was empty so that we could see our own doughnuts being made, fresh and hot and oh so delicious.

Evidently Australians haven't taken too well to Krispy Kreme doughnuts as the company is under administration and half the stores have been closed. A friend used to bring us some from Sydney when the first store opened. I never had the heart to tell him I didn't like them.

An addition after most of this post was written, Mother says the above mentioned Classic Cafe was there from at least the early fifties, when she first starting going there, sometimes upstairs where it was a bit more formal, or downstairs for more casual. So that would have been around 30 years of operation for the Classic Cafe.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Just Another Sunday

What a day. I felt physically ill by the end of it. It was not really that stressful really. It all went pretty well and it wasn't my responsibility. Ostensibly it was family gathering to celebrate ABI Brother's birthday, which is still two weeks away. In October we were supposed to take a trip on Puffing Billy and have a picnic for my birthday, but the weather was bad and it did not happen. I may have expressed that I was a little disappointed to Sister.

It all started to get out of hand at 4am Saturday morning when Teen Niece called on the home phone, my mobile and the door intercom. She and her cousin wanted a bed for a few hours between the finishing clubbing in the city and getting a train home.

By 8am they were up and ready to go. Just once in my life, I slept latish and I was still in bed at 8. Well, I did have an interrupted sleep! They came into my room to say goodbye and we had a brief chat. I mentioned that Sunday we were going on Puffing Billy to celebrate ABI brother's birthday. I want to come, she said. Oh yeah, get back to us.

The rest of Saturday was normal with shopping in the morning and some housework in the afternoon and dinner out with friends in the evening.

Sunday it went haywire.

The cast list might indicate to you how complicated it became.

Myself and R.
Sister and Little Jo.
ABI Brother.
Mother.
Sis in Law and her new beau and his three children.
Tradie Brother, that is Sis in Law's ex, and his g/f.
Dreaded Nephew.
Middle Niece and her fiancee.
Teen Niece.

The plan was to meet at Emerald Lakeside and catch the train to Gembrook, have a picnic and return a couple of hours later. Puffing Billy said no, I am not going to Gembrook today. We knew there was some Thomas the Tank Engine thing happening, so on Friday I called Puffing Billy to make sure all was well for our trip to Gembrook. I was assured so. When we arrived at Emerald Station with Sister driving and Little Jo who had picked us up and we saw that the train had been cancelled. I did protest a little to the person selling the tickets, but of course it was hardly his fault.

We made the best of it and had our picnic at Lakeside and took the much later train to Menzies Creek and back. I am not fussed to ride on old trains. Modern trains have been invented for good reasons. I would rather see old trains depart and arrive with smoke and steam but no matter. It was an ok trip but the train was very crowded. Rather than steam, our train to Menzies Creek was a diesel electric train. Our train back was steam though. Sister had a white tee on. What is all this black stuff, she asked? Haha, she got soot on herself. The trains went well on downhill slopes but were painfully slow when travelling uphill or around tight corners.

Tradie Brother had been cleaning out Mother's garage for a hard rubbish collection and arrived with his g/f's dog. His g/f came on the train one way and Tradie Brother would collect her at Menzies Creek. It is a much quicker drive than the train takes, so he said he would go to the pub and fill in time. I guessed differently.

Look out for Tradie Brother along the way, I said. Sure enough, he was at the next train/road level crossing with the dog in his arms. At the next, he was there too, and waved the dogs paw at us. At the third, we only noticed him because he had the dog in his arms. His face was covered by a mask of Bert Newton. He not only amused us, but brought the whole carriage to laughter and probably other carriages too.

I am not sure why I feel so weary and tired tonight. The day went well.

Sis in Law and Tradie Brother's g/f were civil to each other.
We met Sis in Law's betrothed for only the second time and that went ok. We made an extra effort.
His youngest daughter looked after Little Jo wonderfully.
The younguns played cricket and sticky ball.
Attention and respect was duly paid to Mother.
ABI Brother, the birthday boi, had lots to eat, so he was happy.
We rebuilt a connection with Tradie Brother's g/f, who has been absent for a while.
Dreaded Nephew was amusing. There was a model train exhibition and from our picnic tables we could hear German/Austrian music. Dreaded Nephew paid to enter the model railway exhibit and was approving of it, and he came out singing the Lonely Goat Herders Song, complete with dancing moves.

It took us a while to get home as R was in the back seat reading a story to Little Jo and I was heavily engaged in conversation with Sister and she missed the freeway entrance from Wellington Road and we ended up coming home via Dandenong Road. I always try to ignore conversation when I am concentrating on driving. Sister had to come up and for some fortification and a toilet stop for Little Jo before the 1.5 hour trip back to the Bellarine Peninsuala. Will the on call Bone Doctor have dinner on the table when you get home, I enquired? Yes, she will get some takeaway.

Ok, yes it was a special day, but the Thomas crowd was focused at Emerald, not Emerald Lakeside. How many people do the various different puffing billy trains carry? Thousands on a nice Sunday I would think. While we had three two for one vouchers to defray the costs, it is not a cheap thing to do. With a roughly 40 minute trip each way at $38 it is expensive. A family ticket for the same was $77. Our full price, return to Menzies Creek was $22. Most of the labour is volunteer, so I really can't understand why it is so expensive. No doubt insurance plays a part. Sister took Little Jo on another steam train last week at their play group, Queenscliff to Drysdale, at a cost of $5. This wasn't the most crowded the platform became on the day.


I know my steam trains pretty well. This is a red one.


Thomas!, the chorus went up as we passed through Emerald.


At least I know this is a diesel electric train, the blue model, which hauled us to Menzies Creek. It doesn't have spark plugs, but it was a favourite joke for senior staff to send a railway apprentice off to get some spark plugs for the diesel motor.


Yep, I sure know my steam trains. This is a green model and it hauled us back from Menzies Creek to Lakeside.


Stupid Tradie Brother stalking us during our trip.


Little Jo lasted only five minutes on the train before dropping off. We had a different type of carriage returning, so she stood on the platform between carriages with the other girls.


You are not believing my train expertise are you. Well, this is a big black one.


Dreaded Newphew noticed the sign Uncle R and Uncle Andrew sat under and thought it was a great joke. In my best Mae West voice I returned, 'we ain't no ladies'.


I know my buses pretty well too. This is a cream and green one and has MMTB on the side, Melbourne Metropolitan Tramways Board. I do remember them travelling extremely slowly up Melbourne's Punt Road hill, while belching out filthy black smoke. Sometimes the drivers would stand up to turn the steering wheel, women included.


We chatted to a nice young volunteer conductor and he advised of the best place to snap the obligatory 'round the curve' shot. All the people hanging out of the train could be one reason it is quite expensive, insurance. He also told us why the train to Gembrook had been cancelled. I forget why now, except it broke down.


Bye bye Puffing Billy, bye bye Lake Treganowan.