Saturday, April 09, 2011

Norway

I met a Norwegian couple tonight. One was Malaysian born. I rallied my full knowledge of things Norwegian in advance and all I could come up with was a Beatles song, fjords and Oslo sandwiches. I learnt about the sandwiches at school. They are high on the food pyramid. I think we used to call them Dagwoods.

One friend asked of them what a normal weekday cooked at home meal might be like for them. Herrings, I chipped in. No, they mostly cook Asian food at home.

The native Norwegian is a doctor and the Malaysian born Norwegian does some kind of social/poverty work. He is in Australia for a conference, after one in Botswana.

Hoho, he missed his flight from Oslo to London because his train was late. The trains are always late, he said. So much for superior European public transport.

Not only was he a quite a handsome guy, he was very friendly, had a good sense of humour and spoke excellent English. He speaks to his partner in Norwegian and he knows two languages appropriate to Malaysia.

Aren't we Australians who can stick a single word of French into a conversation and count to five quite pathetic. Quell merde.

kd lang

I saw kd lang on tv the other night. I am not much one for singers. I like her and I can appreciate her talent. I wish she had sung one of her hits. I never go to music concerts but I would be so disappointed if a mega star like kd did not perform a major hit.

She doesn't seem to take herself too seriously, but then she is in a position that she can afford to do that.

The relentless promotion on radio of kd performing in the Iwaki auditorium at ABC Melbourne, Southbank was really getting on my nerves.

I don't know when the last time I saw her perform on tv, but it must be a long time ago. kd has changed quite a bit and is now, shall I kindly put it, not skinny.

Our friend in Japan is a kd lang fan. She is in Spain now, so of course she can't read my blog. Once I made a recorded cd of kd for our friend. It was in the late nineties and tech things weren't so clever then. I expect with great excitement she set the cd up to play..........and it didn't. A failed recording. A shiny silver drink coaster was my gift to her.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Lunch at Maccas

Due to a lack of time and the fact that there were roadworks on the Pakenham Bypass, resulting in a long line of stationary traffic, I did not take Mother to the smart new Maccas but to her usual local one.

Without fail, as I stand studying the menus and studiously avoiding eye contact with the staff, they pester me with wanting to take my order. I stand right back, but they just raise their voices to a louder level.

I am usually studying the menu to work out the cheapest way to buy food. Meal deals or individual orders? The menu does not make it easy to calculate and do you think I could find the price of a single small serve of chips?

Mother and I wanted the same thing, a chicken burger. I was happy to have the full deal, with chips and coke. Mother wanted the burger, chips and a cup of tea. I'd reckon they would substitute tea for a cold drink. No need, Mother said. I get free tea with my seniors card.

Mother sat down as I ordered. I want one chicken burger meal deal please and another chicken burger and small chips and a cup of tea. Do seniors get their tea for free, as I flashed Mother's card.

Yes, she replied, but it seems there were complicated cash register buttons to push and cards to swipe. That will be $6.25. Now I am happy to get a cheap meal, but this was much too less money to pay for what I ordered. Back and forth we went and eventually she understood that I wanted two meals. What really hurts is that she thought the Seniors card was mine. How can that be when I barely look over twenty five? She was not only stupid but blind as well.

Collected all the necessary paraphernalia to go with our meal and sat down with Mother, feeling a little flushed and uncomfortable. Sorry to the woman sitting next to us with the zimmer frame. Normally I would offer help if someone sent their tea flying. I studiously ignored what happened in front of me. Staff came and helped her.

My burger was lousy. I don't know why I bother. I never like them. Of course the chips weren't great big pieces of lengthwise sliced spuds fried in hot lard, but French fries boiled in synthetic oil.

I was still a bit hungry. I might have an apple pie Mother. Me too! I can eat them, meaning that they are on her list of self diagnosed non allergic foods. As for me, I haven't had one for perhaps a decade. They used to come with the dire warning with good cause, caution, filling is hot. Invariably the filling was just short of boiling point when served.

But the apple pies are rather nice now, and larger I think. Andrew, get a sundae icecream without any topping so that I can dip my pie into the ice cream. We both dipped. It was the best part of the meal. Mother decided to finish the ice cream off. She did not touch the chips that made the meal complicated to order.

I just know it is going to get even worse if I buy coffee, but I would so like a nice cup of coffee to round off the experience. There is a McCafe. Pictures on the walls of coffee in china cups, cafe lattes in glasses and cakes on plates. There is what looks like a proper coffee machine. It is risky, but if I am to spend the next two hours with Mother, I really need coffee.

Now I am not a coffee snob, I just like a nice cup of coffee. I usually have a double shot latte, sometimes a long black, sometimes a short black, sometimes a macchiatto. If I am ever doubtful about the quality of the cup of coffee I am ordering, long black is the safest, and so I ordered.

I clearly stated that I wanted to 'eat in' and not 'take away', yet would you believe, it came in a paper cup!!! I gazed around and there was no evidence of any china cups or glasses. I haven't been so surprised since my first and only visit to Gloria Jeans and my coffee was served in a paper cup. For a change it was me moaning to Mother. Perhaps they have run out of clean cups, she said. Look around Mother. No one has a china cup. And what I thought was a proper coffee machine was apparently some sort of automatic device. The coffee was just dreadful. The automatic machine at work makes better coffee. And you know what I paid for dreadful coffee in a paper cup? $3.50!!! I can go to the cafe across the road from the highrise and get an excellent cup of hand made coffee for $2.70 and in a china cup, and served to my table. For $3.50 I can go to the upmarket Cafe Vue next door, sit at a table and have waiter bring me a cup of coffee and a glass of water. He or she will take my money and return with the change.

Now I don't go to McDonalds with healthy food in my mind. I know it is bad food. Sometimes I like bad food, but there is food that is bad for you and bad food. Apart from the apple pie, McDonalds was an awful place for lunch. Perhaps I should have been more adventurous and tried the chicken skewers.

A rough toting up tells me I spent about $25. Next time Mother, it will be a cafe or a hotel. Seems I might possibly get away with having a Seniors meal at a hotel.

Bah to McDonalds. I not like.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Euro

I shouldn't really write about things I know nothing about. But I will be naughty again.

PIGS is the word, Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain. Economic basket cases bailed out by the European Union. After the Icelanders rejected paying money to the profiteers in England, what happened then? I don't know. Every other Euro Union country is not doing well economically. Italy's economy is not examined because of the preoccupation with Berlusconi's shenanigans.

All of Europe, even its premier countries are not performing well economically. If I was in charge one of these premier countries, I would be pushing for a European Union subset of countries, those who are financially responsible. Hive off all the spendthrift build on the never never countries. Scandinavia, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and perhaps France, get rid of the rest. They will drag you down. Oh, they are already.

So given nowhere in Europe is doing well, and the European Union has bailed out a few countries, where is the money coming from? Is it the gnomes of Zurich? Is it the Jews of New York? Perhaps it is Chinese money? Certainly not Japanese money now. They need theirs. Surely it couldn't be Arab oil wealth?

Just to pin it more precisely, European countries are not doing well. Some are broke. Some are being propped up with huge amounts of money from the Euro Union, but where is the money coming from?

Just another Sunday

Timeline:

Saturday 13.30 I was at work. Bone Doctor dropped Sister and Little Jo off at home and went on to Mother's to do some shopping and odd jobs for her as ABI Brother is holidaying in New Zealand and then went on to be the doctor in attendance at a football match.

14.00 Sister, R and Little Jo hop on tram to go to the Melbourne Flower and Garden Show.

16.30 Sister leaves garden show to meet a friend for dinner and then go on to a Melbourne Comedy Festival performance. R and Little Jo come home.

18.00 Little Jo gets pizza for dinner.

20.00 Andrew arrives home and eats some pizza followed by Saturday night, day off tomorrow Scotch.

20.45 Sister arrives.

21.30 Bone Doctor arrives. Little Jo is put to sleep.

23.00 Sister and Bone Doctor go to bed.

00.00 R and yours truly have noticed the whiskey bottle is empty. Change last clock for the night. Not sure which direction. Perhaps a case of try to spring forward but probably falling backwards.

Sun 05.30 Hear Little Jo open R's bedroom door. Damn. I meant to explain daylight saving to her. Hear softly ABC for Kids on tv.

6.30 I arise feeling less than fresh. Attempt to catch up on computer stuffs.

7.30 The rest of the highrise start to awake.

8.00 Showered and R cleverly bought croissants for breakfast.

8.45 Sister departs with Bone Doctor to deliver BD to her class.

9.15 Sister returns. I attempt to catch up on computer stuffs.

10.30 Start mentally counting the hours I have spent in the last day hovering in the kitchen trying to keep dishes and mess under control.

10.35 Sister goes to 7/11 to buy Sunday tram ticket. She buys one and as she puts it into her purse, she realises she has two old unused ones.

10.40 Board tram to the State Library in the city to attend Children's Book Festival.

11.50 Break for lunch at QV.

12.20 Return to festival to see Coco's Lunch.

13.30 Back home.

15.00 Sister drives away in Bone Doctor's truck to go to MCG football match.

16.30 Bone Doctor returns from her class with a friend who was driving her and collected Little Jo home.

16.35 Andrew and R pour themselves a large glass of wine each and collapse into their new recliner chairs.

This bloke at the children's book festival was very tall.



Mr Alan Brough who is very assuredly from Kiwiland presents ABC Radio Melbourne's and ABC Victoria's Sunday morning show was broadcasting from the library. Amazing. They used to need a caravan. Now technology can cut out the noise around.


We stepped inside to the 'activity' area. Sister ran into a friend from Fitzroy who reminded me awfully of ex Democrat leader Lynn Allison. But this woman was a Green person. I read Little Jo a book. There were lots of books spread around. I really wasn't in the mood, but Little Jo paid great attention to Ugly Norm or something like that. Correct me about Ugly Norm if you know.

I have been to the Latrobe Reading Room in the library. I did not know that you can go up into the galleries. There was a fantastic exhibition about early Victoria there. I had to laugh when I spied a 16th century edition of the Torah beside a 17th century edition of Koran. Ok, it was something politically correct like Q' Ran. I or we will just have to go back to pay proper deference to the exhibition as Little Jo was in a run away mood and pleaded to go back downstairs where the other kiddies were.

R took Little Jo to some activities and then we all sat to watch the marvellous Coco's Lunch, a children's predominantly vocal group.

Overview of the Latrobe Reading Room.


The reading room dome.


The galleries and books that you have to request and wear gloves to read.


There are now modern stairs and lifts and the old staircases are blocked off with discrete Perspex panels.



Coco's Lunch in action.


I believe this was the inaugural Children's Book Festival. It seemed very successful and I expect it will be much busier next year.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Bad Brother

ABI brother is so fed up with Mother and has bolted to New Zealand is on holidays in New Zealand. So I must step up to the crease to insure Mother has an adequate food supply. She has run out of potatoes. There are a couple of foods stuffs Mother is not allergic to, potatoes apparently is one of them, McDonald's being the other.

I never get out, Mother complained, and asked if we would could lunch at her local McDonald's, known by Little Jo as Nanny's Restaurant. Hmm, she must be over pies from the Great Aussie Bakery. She must be over salad rolls, no meat, from the Vietnamese bakery.

Being the caring and generous son that I am, I am going to take my mum out for a really special lunch. We shall go to the McDonalds at Narre Warren South on the Pakenham bypass freeway.

Should you be in your dotage, don't you wish you had a son like me to take you out for that extra special outing?

Window/Lounge update

Window was replaced. Gee the glass must be heavy. Three strapping blokes to carry one window up using the lift and they were buggered. Unlike anyone else, when one of the blokes told me that it is toughened glass, that is baked in an oven at 600 deg, it will not break from any heat stress. This gives us a dilemma though. If that is the case, then we don't need to retint all windows to the balcony and can have the old tint on just the one window. Not sure what we will do. Anyway, first class service today by Dungan Glass of Hawthorn.

I bought an even cheaper new MP3 player today for $30. It works ok. I had to find an extra strong pair of spectacles which I don't normally use to read the manual leaflet though. I did glance sideways at Ipods in the shop and I could not believe the price of them. At times you really don't get what you pay for.

The Leather Doctor attended too and spent about one and a half hours working on the cut. There were glue smells, burning smells, paint smells and the end result is we can see where the cut was, but no one else would ever find it. Will the treatment last? She took photos to send to the company with a note that the repair was in a high wear area and should be monitored. Given the cut was on the couch that is only sat on by visitors, it will probably be ok. Good service by the Leather Doctor too.

Out with the old and in with the new

Saturday on the weekend of the Grand Pricks was departure day for our old lounge suite and arrival day for our newie. We have had our fair share of tradespeople visiting over the year past. I enter into a state of mild panic if I have to be home for a tradie visit. The cracked window saga just goes on and on. I am sure eventually our laminated window will be replaced with a toughened glass window, old tinting on that plane removed and new less absorbent and more reflective tint will be installed. We won't know now if the problem is solved though until next summer when once again the window receives the full sun and a blast of hot air from the air con.

Oldest niece and her partner were taking the lounge suite. I had been in touch with her via text during the week. 'Will we need a trailer or will it fit in a ute?' I had no idea. I replied with the lounge suite basic measurements. Moving furniture in our building requires the attendance of the building manager, canvas protection for the the walls and mirrors in the lift to be put up, the garage door to be locked open and the lift to be isolated so that it only travels from the ground floor to our floor. Someone else had booked the lift for 11.00am. I promised we could work around them. Minor state of panic that I had focused on for the preceding three days.

Niece and her partner arrived at 9.20, only twenty minutes late. Maaaaate, I said. The GP cars get noisier every year. No, he replied, quieter. They have reduced their engine sizes from eight cylinders to six, or something like that. My attempt at friendly idle chat had changed to an illustration of my ignorance.

The lad had a ute, not his own car. His own car a very flashy hot sporty Holden Commode or something like that. I am surprised it still has paint on the bodywork, given how much it's black paintwork is polished. I have always been rather fond of chrome and it has its fair share of the gleaming.

I was also concerned about carrying the old lounge suite, given R has a bad back and I am still a post surgery invalid. Funnily, removing the chrome legs took quite a bit of weight off it. We managed.

'Uncle Andrew', niece said. 'It is great that you have a lounge suite you are really happy with. This will be the last suite you buy. It is fine that you have spent lots of money'. Cheers bitch. Can one do pro rata wills? After the burial costs and the planned for reverse mortgage kick in, you may not get much hon.

Nieces partner was meticulously tying the suite onto his ute. At some point niece said, it looks like rain. Ropes were undone and and a tarp put over the suite and then retied. Although it was all going very well, I was feeling very stressed. Jesus christ, how many more ropes do you need. Just effingwell piss orf.

Called building manager to let him know removal was complete. What time is your new one arriving, he asked. 11.30, we had been told. Ohhh, I thought, building manager knocks off at 12. This is tight.

The new suite arrived at 11.33 and they were such nice English boys. They brought up the couch and then returned to get the chairs. At two minutes to twelve I called the building manager and told him our delivery was complete and not to hang around and I would let the lads out. He took me at his word, doors secured, lift protection put away and he was gone by 12.10.

But, as we were unpacking the couch from its two layers of plastic and one of cardboard while the lads brought up the chairs, we noticed a flaw in the one of the seats. It is not a rip, just a flaw in the leather but it is not good. How it could have possibly left the Sydney factory like that we do not know. We are still blueing over what we did or should have done about it. Refuse delivery and not pay? Take delivery and not pay and leave it with them to decide or pay and hope all will ok in time. At the end of the day, we paid the balance over the phone by credit card and had the assurance from the delivery guys that all would be fixed. Did I mention that they were nice English lads?

The lads wrote down an email address for us to send our complaint to and said we should include photos. The English aren't so good at email. Far too busy with facebook. But, as soon as I saw the email address to send the details of our problem to, an email address that did not contain @, I knew there was going to be problems. There are certain things I know about the internet, and the ignorant user is one of them. My second attempt at sending a corrected email address seemed to work in so far as it did not bounce back.

That was a Saturday. By Monday I had heard nothing back. Tuesday R called. Email received (so why not an acknowledgement?) and the lass said she would call him back within ten minutes. She wanted to use a company called Leather Doctor for repair, but Sydney manufacturer wanted to take the couch back and replace it. She did not call back. After twenty minutes he called her back. Sorry, the person who answered the phone said, she has finished work for the day and left.

The Highrise was not a pleasant place to be that evening.

R is ever so much better at dealing with things like this and dealing with tradespeople. I am too soft and trust tradies and et al too much. Bitch he said to me, metaphorically of course, you ring window replacement company tomorrow.

Err, I knew who he meant. It wasn't the last glass replacement company, nor the body corp manager, nor the two insurance companies we have dealt with, not the previous glazier or the tinting company, but the new glazier man. I did. Glass for your window will arrive tomorrow. We will call you. And so we will waiteth.

Back to the lounge suite. Leather Doctor will call us by Thursday. He did not. More phone calls. It is now decided LD will repair the fault. But when? We both work.

Effing christ, could anymore go wrong? Of course it could.

A recycling collection truck banged into R's car when it was parked at his work and spoilt his rear bumping bar. Maybe a workmate saw it happen, not sure. R did not but he knows. The timelines are so tight that it must have been the recycling truck.

R is dealing with all three things in a calm and controlled manner about ready to murder.

I'll leave out the blocked drain.

Ah, yeah, we are very happy with our new lounge suite. Except, the feature walls don't work and need to be repainted and the last hurrah timber furniture needs to go.

Later update: Window will be replaced on Wednesday afternoon and Leather Doctor is attending the same afternoon. Seems Leather Doctor is a woman.

Even later update: I had a cow of a day at work yesterday, culminating in me losing my MP3 player. It was only a cheapie, but still.

The oldie on the morning of its departure.


I had attempted to clean the arms and they were still damp. Hopefully they will dry out ok.


The flawed leather.



Yes, the chairs have footrests. Visitors who sit on the couch will have to make do with pouffes.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Come to Melbourne Dina

Dina lives in the US and she is far from our stereotypical view of Americans. She is well read and reasonably well travelled and has been to Australia twice. She is extremely well informed about modern Australia and our history, as is her husband and son.

But Dina has a flaw. She has not been to Melbourne. She has been to northern Tasmania, travelled NSW and of course stayed in Sydney. Naturally she likes Sydney. What tourist would not. But how could we sell Melbourne to Dina and get her US dollars down here in Melbourne rather than Sincity?

She is not interested in our over-rated lane way bars, although the cafes might appeal. She isn't interested in high fashion label shops. I can't see Chadstone high on her list. What could Dina, Tim and son Jack do if they stayed in Melbourne for a week. I have some ideas, as does she. But what are Melbourne's selling points?

Monday, April 04, 2011

Dandenongs Pt 2

From the outskirts of Olinda we went to Mount Dandenong, which we can see from home. The businesses have had an up and down past but it is very much on the up now. At one time there was almost nothing there and what was there was almost derelict. It is a great spot to visit now.




Red and black always work well together.


Our friend took us this spot with a nice view at Kalorama.


And we turned around and saw this restaurant with the same fine view.


Lastly we stopped by at the Hamer Arboretum. It started to pour rain so we headed for home.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Sunday Time and Media Taking Control

I think I should write up a check list of clocks that need altering at the beginning and ending of daylight. It seems everytime I have turned around today, I have found another piece of smart technology that is not smart enough to correct itself. Ah, just remembered the car clocks will need altering too. Trouble is many of the things that need altering only get fiddled with twice a year and some methods are not exactly intuitive. I recall at the beginning of day light saving I tried to alter the remote for the aircon and rather than get the manual out, I gave up. I am pleased I did as it now correct. Soon R will be presetting it for some warmth for five minutes before he arises each working morning.

But things are better than they used to be. The new pvr and my mobile looked after themselves. I remember when a pop up used to appear on the computer monitor asking if I wanted to update to summer time or revert to normal time. Why wouldn't I pray tell? Well, one year, daylight saving beginning time was altered and I had to click no. Now the computer just does it, I assume by checking using the net.

I had a chuckle when I read on FB that the Malloy household was in disorder when both adult occupants individually moved the same clocks forward an hour. I wonder what it would be like to be two hours ahead? Very bright in the morning I should think. The Malloys are probably slipping into their pjs right now.

My worst daylight saving experience was when I travelled on a coach from South Brisbane, a very different South Brisbane to what it is now, to Melbourne on the weekend daylight saving started or ended. Queensland did not have daylight saving. Victoria and New South Wales did. By the time I arrived in Melbourne I had no idea of the time.

On a totally different subject, The Sydney Morning Herald has decided that as I am in Victoria, I wish to read Victorian news. Noooooo. Weird perhaps, but I go to the Victorian paper The Age to do that. When I go to the SMH, I want NSW news. I was getting damned angry until I realised there is a button to alter it to NSW.

Our media can be so exasperating. I only went to the SMH to see which Greens Party member had been elected and for which house, the upper or lower. I had to do this because ABC online news had made an error. Luckily an unofficial proof reader picked up the error. I expect an odd expression would come over a newspaper employee if you mentioned proof reader to them now.

Now to the Sydney's other newspaper, The DailyTelegraph. Although it is recognised as a rag, I find its obsession with gossip and your typical Sydney lowlife of interest. Last week the whole online appearance changed with no longer a link to click for local NSW news. I rarely read national or international online news and I certainly wouldn't do so at the Telegraph, but if I want to know which Ibrahim has shot who, then I want I want a link to local news without having to search everywhere. Seems others took the same view and a link has reappeared.

I wonder what I used to do with my time before I had to battle 'user friendly' technology so often?

Work Place Donations

Having worked at the same place for three decades plus, (yes, serious character failing), many times I have donated to fellow workers retirements, to prop them up when they are seriously ill and I know they are not flush with funds, towards flowers for their funerals. It is just something you do.

But, dear readers, it seems to be getting out of hand and work and maybe I will be judged as being mean. That I am is beside the point.

A cleaner finished up at work. He was a contract cleaner who was paid a pittance by an outside firm and had worked at my workplace for a couple of years. I did not judge him as a workmate and he was a lousy cleaner. I refused to donate.

Another workmate's mother died in Mauritius. Again I refused to donate.

Last week a workmate was driving his mother to a hospital appointment. They crashed, not my workmate's fault. His 82 year old mother died in the crash. His sister was also in the car. She is still in hospital. It is awful as his mother lived with him and he was a real mummy's boy, even though he must be forty. I feel so bad for him. So far as I know, it received a two line mention in an online newspaper. A collection is being taken up for his mother's funeral. Why? My workmate is not poor. It would be like asking you blogmates to pay for my funeral. You already know I am not poor, I have a partner, I have family and I have friends. I may not have cash, but I have assets. My workmate might not have a partner, but he has the rest.

I would happily pay a contribution towards flowers for my workmate's mother's funeral but no one has asked me for that.

Do you think I should give begrudgingly? R can be very generous at times with people, yet when they might slight him, he remembers that he was generous to them. Problem.

When I give, I do it with good grace, or I don't do it all. I expect nothing in return.