Saturday, June 24, 2017

Family Stuffs

R is so much better at talking to people than I am. Here is why.

Firefighting Nephew called today. He does not normally call Auntie Andrew, so it must be important, and it was.

Ex Sis in Law, his mum,  has been in hospital having an infected cyst removed from under her arm. She is home now.

Ex Sis in Law's husband has been in hospital with an ear problem. He will return to hospital next week to have a knee replacement. Then later, the other knee must be done.

(Intervention) R spoke to Ex Sis in Law on the telephone as I began to write this. There were tears, me included, as I sat on the balcony pondering)

Tradie Brother went to hospital in ambulance and has a bowel ulcer. He has had surgery and will be in for a few days and has a stomach band. He called Mother just after he was out of surgery and made no sense at all to her. He wanted to hear Mummy's voice and reassurance. Mother always being there for her children is something I will focus on at her funeral, and in times of strife for her children, she really has been there to do her duty. Some of you may wonder why we put up with her nonsense at times, but she was a very good and understanding mother to us and we never went without. She knew I was gay before I did and that was not in a time where gay children were so readily embraced. She complains about Sister and Bone Doctor, but not about them being two women together. She tried to find a wife for ABI son, to no avail, but she worries more about him than any of her other children.

It is Oldest Niece's 29th birthday. She is in town for a knees up with mates, while Ex Sis in Law, just out of hospital, looks after Little M and Little Em........and one of the twin baby girls.

The other twin girl is being looked after by her Islander dad. The twinnies are undergoing a quick weaning.

So what has happened to Hippie Niece with her twin daughters? She has had a total breakdown and is drugged to the maximum at the local hospital. There is a four week wait for placement at a good hospital to treat her, as her Specialist said (specialist in what?) to treat the most extreme case of postnatal depression he/she has ever seen. If you remember, the twinnies were no longer born than they flew off to New Zealand for their paternal grandfather's dying ceremony.

I've spoken to Mother tonight. She is worried and concerned but calm. Firefighting Nephew called his gran today after he called me, and he cried on the phone to his gran. He has done his part, being down with his sisters and mother and doing looking after the twinnies.

Oh dear, we were out on the balcony looking at works being done down below and I cracked and burst into tears, a five minute interlude while writing this post. I want to give Hippie Niece a big hug and tell her everything will be ok, but she doesn't even want to see her own mother, her twin daughters, let alone us.

Oh yes, it did go all go so wrong after R's humour when Ex Sis in Law rang. R said to her, what are you lot doing keeping doctor's in Porsche's? Little did we know, and it went downhill from there.

We can't help anyone in a practical way without offering money. I will text Ex Sis in Law with some kind words and ask for Hippie Niece's partner's phone number and find out how short of money they are and see if we can help there, but really, while they don't have money, money is not the problem.

Anyway, off to see Little Jo perform tomorrow. As cousins, Little Jo and my other nieces and nephew will never really connect because of the age difference. Little Jo is kind of more age connected to our great nieces. But those branches of the family may well not connect in the future. Little Jo's life is so different to the other side of family. Not better, not worse, just ever so different.

Care for a little Art Deco? Developers don't.

Flinders Street to the west of city spine Swanston Street is reasonably intact and not dominated by highrise towers. This building seems to be very old, early Victorian perhaps. It is now occupied by the edgy clothing shop, Dangerfield.

Just a bit further along is this very attractive Art Deco building, once a small department store, then the offices of the gambling company Tattersalls and now housing the organisation Yooralla, a specialist charity for assisting the disabled. I should think it is as well maintained inside as it is on the outside.

But guess what! A developer, Mormas Land Pty Ltd, wants to demolish the building and build a high rise hotel on the site. Here is what may happen. The council refuses a demolition permit. The company appeals to the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal, which against the wishes of the council and I should think most of the population, yields to the developer, allows the demolition and development go ahead. Bastards. We don't have a lot of Art Deco in our city. It should be treasured and kept. What fine apartments or a hotel could be built within the structure.

Friday, June 23, 2017

A sweet little video for Friday

It is a sweet and not very long video, perhaps spoilt by the silly line, 'no one could prepare me for the last photo'. I think it was quite obvious where the series of photos was heading. His wife got quite fed up with him and his silly photos and on photo day, went off for a dirty weekend to Bognor Regis with the young bloke who has always done the real gardening work. 'Stephan, your muscly arms...'.

Seriously, the photos could so obviously speak for themselves.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

How can this woman go on

I thought Margaret Court may have slipped up with an unfortunate phrasing of words. It is not such a thing at all. She has added grist to the mill with a continuation of even more extreme comments about gay people, adding more recently transgender people to her list. I don't understand transgender stuffs, but if that is how people are, then so be it. The worry about that remark is that I don't understand pedophilia either, but not so be it. There are many things I don't understand.

Mrs? Miss? Ms? Court was to speak tonight at a Liberal Party fundraiser. There were protesters who tried to block her way, but the sheer fact that the Liberal Party are paying her to speak at a fundraiser disappoints me greatly. I don't know if the protesters prevented her saying disappointing and hating words. The conservative Liberal Party has always had gay members. They just weren't out there. Now one or two are. And the big one, an important Minister, has still not come out. It is to the party's shame that it sups with the devil, aka, Court.

I don't how and when or how it will be phrased, but a source indicates to me that the tennis court, Margaret Court Arena, will be renamed, as it should be............and I might add should never have been named after her in the first place. Her views were already known.

Tiresome Job

I am getting awfully fed up by work. Ten years ago it was known as a 'follow up', to see how well you were performing in your job. Then it became 'refresher' to refresh your skills but there was little of that. Next, it changed to 'employee development day'. In its latest guise, 'periodic employee review'.  Naturally, acronyms are used, such as EDD and the latest, PER. No one ever tells you what these stand for, but in time you find out.

I have my own acronym about work. FFS, leave me alone to do my job.

Yes, I am in a bad mood. It happens every so often that I suffer from back pain, usually brought on by a combination of things, so far as I can tell. It is the typical lower back pain at the base of my spine and it has gone on for over a week now. No doubt it is related to sitting for long periods at work, but something does set it off, and I suppose I am not good at not doing things that aggravate it, such as washing and changing my bedding. Bending to pump water from the air con drip tray. I thought I was nearly ok, but then last night at midnight, I woke up in terrible pain and eventually found a very unnatural sleeping position for me, on my left side, that stopped the pain.  It will heal. At R's behest, I began taking Voltaren Rapid 25, which do seem to help.  But I worry that if they kill the pain, then I will do things that will further aggravate my back and not feel the pain that would tell me to stop.

In the bigger picture of life and the tragedies around the world, and worries closer to home like a missing Angel, a little back pain is neither here nor there, but it does reduce my tolerance of the bureaucratic nonsense in my workplace. Also at work, apparently as a result of the Amenities Committee fighting with the Social Club, the Christmas in July dinner dance has been cancelled. I had no intention of going anyway.  You can tell I work with a lot of people from the subcontinent when they organise a dinner dance. Actually, I remember such occasions from my childhood and they were great events. Now what was the difference between a dinner dance and a supper dance?

Good to add photos to a post. Here are a couple taken at work.

Red is such a problematic colour when exposed to the elements. The world is full of cars with fading red paintwork.

If you are a blogger and a nazi spelling and grammar type, then be aware, I will be wathching your every word. You will make an error one day and I won't say mention it but I will feel some self satisffaction. So, he/she is not perfect after all. Nevertheless, I expect professionals to be professional and I have no tolerance for errors in professional publications. Would you trust the financial organisation that produced this poster? (in actual fact, credit unions are so highly regulated, they are probably the most trustworthy of our financial institutions, and they are community based).

R tells me to give up work, but given I won't get a pension for another seven plus years, I worry so much that I don't have enough money to support myself until then, and even if I do, maybe there will be no spare money left over to supplement my pension. While we don't go without and do spend on holidays, our lives are quite modest in comparison to some people's. Because I have always worked, I have never had to worry big time about money, but if I give up work, is that when the worry begins? 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wednesday Wonders

I think in a general way, mass personal transport on roads has been generally a failure in the world.

Lucky there is no coal or oil under this amazing formation.

Better as a honeymoon cottage for you and your lust person.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

More on the London Fire

I think it was 2009 when power was cut to our building because a bushfire burned through a major electricity cable somewhere in the state. I was stuck in a lift with a famous bearded media person's then wife and a building cleaner. Famous bearded media person is now a politician. I subsequently learnt that the lift emergency lighting should have lasted for twenty minutes. The lighting did last in the other lift, but our lift lighting went off after a couple of minutes. This raises the question, can we trust people who maintain safety systems? Scarily, I think not.

British Prime Minister May has announced an enquiry into the fire. There is no need. It is obvious as to what happened, and it was serious lack of care and negligence by the local council, underlined by poor government regulation and poor inspection standards .

I have read enough to make a conclusion that in Britain, well some parts of it, the fire regulations are quite unique. That is, do not evacuate when there is a fire. Each flat is self contained, insulated from fire in another flat. In the case of this Grenfell Tower fire, there was only one stair set and firefighters did not want to be blocked as they attend a fire by residents streaming down the stairs and out of the building. Remember, each flat is fire protected from a fire in another flat.

But what seems to have happened in the recent renovation of Grenfell Tower is that the individual boxing or isolation of individual flats was breached, extremely. Add to that, the installation of an outer covering with panels of aluminum on the outside and a flammable material between the panels, it ending up being a recipe for disaster.

These panels put on buildings in renovations are used to improve the building's insulation. At times panels are attached directly to the building, which can cause mould and damp issues, and at times there is an air gap.

I suggest that any old high rise building that undergoes a major renovation should have a sprinkler and stair positive air pressure system, at the very least. Sprinklers cost and they can be ugly when retrofitted, but at least you don't die.

The panels that clad Grenfell Towers were two sheets of aluminium with an synthetic insulating material in between the sheets. The synthetic material was not fire resistant. In cold climates is a cheaper way of insulating buildings. Here in Australia where we don't need such insulation from the cold. It is used for aesthetic/cheap/developer profits purposes.

Now you tell me if I am not talking commonsense. How on earth around the whole world are the exteriors of tall buildings allowed to be clad with a combustible material that can race flames up the exteriors of a building in minutes???

In my city, we have seen a non fatal example of the problem. In Britain, we see a very fatal result.

Around the world of big business has been let off the leash and indulged in such poor construction and renovation in the guise of a reduction of red tape for capitalism. There was a time when strict regulation was needed and required. Yet even back in the 70s, buildings like Grenfell Towers were built without sprinkler systems when it was very obvious that sprinklers were being installed in some buildings.

Not that Australia can be holier than thou, but what happened in London is a disgrace. Sixty people dead? One hundred dead? It is a moot point. That the block went up like a bonfire is damning to all levels of government and the building trade involved.

Britain knows well the dangers of fire. The Great London Fire in the 1600s. Bradford stadium many dead. The Kings Cross Station escalator fire, again so many dead. It is a criminal disgrace and well have the police launched a criminal investigation.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Musical Monday

I don't think tomorrow's post will be too cheerful, so today I am joining with River for Musical Monday. This is one of those songs guaranteed to get people up and on to the dance floor. I just love it.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Family in Brief

Hippie Niece put us off visiting last Tuesday. Fair enough. The twinnies weren't too well and she was very busy and it was her partner's first day back at work. We still haven't seen the twin girls since a day or two after they were born. We tried again today, Saturday. She did not answer R's text for a few hours and then rang. She sounded stressed and unwell. She was at her mother's, Ex Sis in Law, and going to sleep while Gran looked after them. Her partner is back at work and he too is quite stressed. I am not sure how postnatal depression manifests itself, or how different that is to struggling to cope, but I think she is at least struggling a bit. Dealing with twins surely must mean being organised, discipline and routine. The absolute antithesis to Hippie Niece.

She said, come anyway to Mum's and see them and spend time with Mum, but it was getting late in the day and ABI Brother is arriving this evening to stay the night after his Alice Springs based holiday. Plus I have to work tomorrow. We had already declined the invitation to celebrate the Brother Friends' birthday at an Asian restaurant in the outer suburbs.

Mother has been harping on about, 'if there is any money left over from the electrical work, could I have this, this and this.........',  like a new washing machine. No Mother, there isn't any money left over. As you may remember, the price came in under the quote.  I refunded the overpayment to ABI Brother. Tradie Brother's overpayment went towards what he owed me for Mother's private health insurance. Sister via Bone Doctor only paid her share after I paid.

Speaking of Sister, her car was 17 years old, the same age as our old car. Our Hyundai Lantra has travelled about 140,000 kilometres. Sister's Ford Laser has travelled about 320,000 kilometres. When they were in France last year, they drove a hired Renault Megane and liked it. So, she has bought a new Renault Megane. The lease/pay on Bone Doctor's monstrous 4wd has expired and I assume they now own the vehicle, so the lease was transferred to Sister's new car. Sister was having lunch in a cafe when I spoke to her, so it was a brief conversation. Later I sms'd Bone Doctor to ask the details of the new car so that we could look at it online. She has not replied hours later. Bone Doctor in the past said, don't sms your sister, sms me and I will always see the sms straight away and reply. I can only assume Bone Doctor hates us at the moment. I will fix her. I will call her on the telephone.

Later: Bone Doctor tried to send me a photo of the new car, but clearly it failed to send. So, she doesn't hate us. I spoke to her on the telephone. Next Sunday we will join them for lunch in a rather nice cafe and then see Little Jo perform on stage. Same time last year, Little Jo was in Alice in Wonderland and we saw her perform and lunched at the same cafe.

The telephone call to Bone Doctor was interrupted by Mother. Can you call me when ABI Son arrives safely at your place? I am worried about him flying in an aeroplane. I am so sick and in pain and my bowels........... Bye Mother.

OMG, to use young person's parlance. ABI Brother arrived at The Highrise at 10.45. He told us that Firefighting Nephew's Mother in Law to be was on the same tour with him.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Europe 17 Day 22 & 23 The End

This is the final holiday post although there may be some things I might mention in the future about things I have not mentioned already.

I kind of wish we had taken the ship tour to Pompeii, or a private tour, at this last significant city we visited, aside from Rome where we just docked and shared a taxi van to the airport. Instead we wandered the streets of Naples, absorbing what we could, getting a little lost, as usual and cafe sitting. The further we went into the city, the cheaper the food and drinks were.

It is interesting to contrast Naples to the other place we visited in Italy, Livorno and Pisa. Livorno and Pisa seemed peaceful and orderly, with traffic following lines marked on roads and generally following the road laws and showed patience with the huge numbers of tourists. This did not seem to be at all the case in Naples, and I thought it was chaotic. At least one multi laned road had no marked lanes yet the traffic managed to keep moving. Perhaps there is a lesson to be learnt here. The better the lane guidance system, the more rules there are, the less the time to play with phones, radios and music players when driving. Believe me, from what I saw in Naples, full concentration was required when driving.

Naples was ok. I mean by that I did not get the bad feeling as I did in Marseille, but for mine, Naples was just a big and very busy city. No doubt it has its delights, not visible or noticed by us in perhaps the six hours we were onshore.

Shortly before docking we passed by Mount Vesuvius and nearby Pompeii. Naples is also the stepping off point to get to get to the Isle of Capri.

I was watching Naples as the sun rose and slowly lit the city starting with the dominating St Elmo's Castle.

The Art Deco port building was very attractive.

A mural within the port building.

This was to be the site of an underground train station right at the port, however construction was stalled when Roman ruins were found.

The first road for us to cross after leaving the port, with disused tram tracks and wires. Naples does have trams after almost or completely doing away with them and the network is now expanding.

The was a long boardwalk past the diggings and then we passed Castel Nuovo. We then became most horribly tangled up with tour buses unloading a gazillion school children, no doubt out to explore the wonders of Naples. I wonder if the local government has ever thought of providing a proper off the street tourist bus parking area where people can get off a bus and not be in the middle of traffic. I noted, no child was killed or maimed.

I was very impressed by this building, Galleria Umberto. We walked through and out the other side.

It was time for coffee and some free wifi.

Fountain of the Artichoke!!!

We walked along a wide 'carless' street which has many narrow streets running off to the left or right, full of shops, cafes, bars and residences. Cars are banned from inner Naples, haha. There were many. It is a lawless city. The illegal vendors pack up as the police approached on foot and reappear as soon as they have passed. It is all just a game.

We had a panini and coffee at this cafe, which was much cheaper than the one closer to the port.

My fashion tip for our next season. Very 70s. Of course they will fit you. Of course your bum won't look big.

Will this be the latest men's hair fashion to hit Australia? There was no doubt that people we saw in Naples who appeared to be locals had a great sense of style.

R's sister K had managed to find two gorgeous dresses for our niece twins and bought them. I did not ask how many euros she paid. I bet quite a few.

Nearly back to the ship. R, K and J sat on a wall for a little break while I examined the ticket machine at the bus stop.

The front of the port building. A clock is set into one tower but what is the other dial? If you can't see it well enough, the numbers are 70 to 79. Please someone tell me what that odd dial is all about.

The next day we arrived on time in Rome and we all shared a taxi with another couple to Rome Airport, quite a long way from the port. K&J went to their hotel near the airport where they would stay overnight before returning to England and R and myself went straight to airport where we departed mid afternoon. It was a very nice new double deck plane back to Dubai, and then a very old plane back to Melbourne, arriving about 10pm. Rome airport is massive. We used a train to get to our gate from the main terminal. It has the rather obvious name of Leonardo da Vinci in an area called Fiumicino, which I have no idea how to say. Wombat???

Security was strong, with soldiers at the airport with machine guns at the ready. They looked so serious, but an old lady waltzed up to them and asked directions and they were helpful and smiling. Once she left, the stern and intimidating don't fuck with me faces immediately returned.

While Italy apparently accepts same sex unions, I was left wondering how far this extends. At border control was a male and female couple with a child. We were standing side by side ready to be next. The family left and we were called forward. No, you, meaning me, go back. R on his own was called forward and then I was next. She was not too easily and instantly recognise we were family too, I suppose, but wouldn't people travelling together usually be called forward together, especially if it was only two people. That was the first time it has ever happened. In fact in Paris some years ago at British border security, we were admonished for not coming forward together. Then R was queried why he didn't use his British/Euro passport when travelling. There is no point in him getting through quicker than I do as he then has to wait for me, so he travels using his Australian passport. And he is a proper Aussie .

A little art at the airport

Close up?

Friday, June 16, 2017

Europe 17 Day 21

We were at sea again for a day as we sailed from Montenegro back to Italy, passing between Sicily and the mainland again, but in the other direction.

I refer to my notes as I have no memory of the day but all I wrote was K got very drunk. I suspect she too wanted to be home back in old Blighty and she takes on everyone else's stress and troubles.

Here are the last ship photos. Asian ship passengers learning to waltz.

I only saw this once, where the water was so shallow, as the propellers went into action, our ship churned up the seabed.

This just found phone photo looks like Santorini to me.

These ship passengers learnt to play the mandolin in about 9 days and held a concert.

It was quite good.

I suppose this was some kind of reference to a Venetian masked ball. It was fun. I was watching from one side and unbeknownst to me, R was watching from the other.

We were determined to see the last big show in the Princess Theatre. We arrived 15 minutes early and sat in the very last available seats.

The woman with the ponytail was a deaf signer.

 The back of the monster outdoor tv screen.

One does wonder what these orb things were about. I should have asked.

Naples tomorrow. What will that be like?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Europe 17 Day 20

You've probably heard of Montenegro. Where is it? Not South America as I thought. Ah, that's Montevideo. It is on the Adriatic Coast with a short Croatian border to its north, then Bosnia Herzegovina, Serbia to its east and Albania to its south. Yes, one of those countries. It has a complicated history and was mixed up in the terrible war in 1992 to 1995. It has existed in some form or another for centuries but only became fully independent in 2006 after separating from Serbia.

At home in a local cafe we once received a packet of sugar for our coffees with the country of origin being Montenegro. It doesn't seem like a climate where sugar cane would grow, so I assume it is sugar from sugar beet.

The main town we visited was Kotor, set in the most beautiful bay with the same name. It was just so atmospheric and peaceful.

As usual I was up fairly early to record our arrival. Passengers wasted no time hopping into our tenders to travel to shore. As we do, we managed to be ready by about 10, just as some people were returning the ship, having beaten the crowds.

The ship tour was very expensive. We looked at the hop on hop off bus where we disembarked, but we did not immediately decide. Very near this point was a triathlon event to take place.

We sat and looked at maps after avoiding all the offers of private taxi tours. Along came a tout with good English and the gift of the gab and convinced us that he was a good person for us to take a tour with, for €50 for four of us in a van. He spoke in the first person.....I will take you and show you....etc. We agreed, but all of us were unspokenly unsure about the legitimacy of the tour. Come with me, he said, we will walk. Another younger man joined us and the original older man left us. The traffic is very bad, he said. We can't get the van in close. You don't mind walking? We didn't, though it was quite a hike. Another young man joined us and the second one left. We kept walking. This third one was our guide for the day and he was very handsome, polite, friendly and knowledgeable. We eventually reached the van and off we set, up into the hills. What is to become of us? Will we be held for ransom? Oh, our government will never pay ransom money. We are stuffed.

Walls running up into the hills, many of them.

The traffic heading towards where we had been was at a standstill. Are we at fault, I asked, meaning so many ship passengers descending on a small town. No, it is the triathlon, Igor explained. We have a cruise ship in nearly every day during the summer season. It is no problem.

The road we travelled on was of quite a high standard with lots of guard rails, which was just as well as the hills were very steep. We stopped at a lookout point and wow, the view was mind blowing.

Would you like to stop for coffee, Igor asked. Ok. He pulled into a very nice cafe with beautiful views of the coast and sea. I asked for the wifi password, but Igor said, don't worry. You can use my phone as a hotspot, so we did and he left it on back in the van. We paid for Igor's coffee, at our insistence. Being a Sunday, the cafe was quite busy. Back home, it was Mother's Day. I sent Mother a text message to be automatically read out to her on her landline phone. I scheduled it to be sent at 2am our time, an appropriate time for her in Australia, but by then we had no phone reception. It went at about 6am, still an ok time for her and she received it.

It was quite a long drive before we reached the resort town of Budva, south of Kotor. A lot of construction was underway but we had noticed some along the way had begun and then had been abandoned. Igor explained, it was Russian money coming it but then Russia became upset as Montenegro has decided to try for European Community membership and Russia pulled a lot of money out. Montenegro also already uses the Euro as currency.

Within this very old fort was almost a township of shops, bars cafes and housing.

We can buy opium? Where's my pipe?

On the edge of beach.

A short and very modest pier.


Prime locations for the monied classes up hill.

Igor took a telephone call. He asked if we would like to spend €40 extra to see another special place and take a boat ride. Using a tunnel, the trip back to Kotor rather than the hills was much quicker and through Kotor to the north we travelled to Perast. Apparently his boss did not know what time the road north would reopen after the triathlon. The phone call was to tell Igor that the road was open. We are heading out to these two islands, one natural and one man made over a couple of centuries, I think.

Perast wasn't very large and there were lots of police around. Later we saw an EU delegation on a boat bound for the islands, hence the police.

This is the man made island, with a church and small museum. It is known as Our Lady of the Rocks and has an interesting history.

We didn't realise we could take interior photos as we took a short guided tour of the church, so we went back inside to take photos, but after a large tour group had arrived.

This is the other island, St George's Island, is closed to the general public. The building is or was a monastery.

Back on shore, doesn't this look like a nice setting to dine.

One couple was gorging themselves on mussels, making me very jealous. R and K were worried about getting back to the ship on time, in spite of not having eaten since breakfast and it was now mid to late afternoon.

So this kind of bad parking is not exclusive to Australia.

Igor drove us back to Kotor and left us near our ship tender embarkation point. He was a little disappointed that we could not see the old part of Kotor, but we wanted to get back to the ship. We took photos of him with three of us, changing over so we were all in a photo. He had been a great guide and we rounded the €90 to €100 as a tip and bid him goodbye. He does actually work for a proper and professional company. He said that if they don't have bookings, they go to the ship disembarkation point to find them. Golden Bay Tours.

This gap our ship just passed through to leave Bay of Kotor was no more than about 200 metres wide. Goodbye Montenegro (mountain black). You were an absolutely delightful and stunning surprise. 

This is the last large posts about our holidays, with a couple of short posts to go.