Friday, February 11, 2005

The mundane always interests me

I went out for breakfast this morning. Bacon and egg sandwhich and good coffee for $4.50. Can't go wrong can you. The cafe is called Aroma. It is at the base of an office building and it is normally frequented by business people, but today there were two biker looking types on the table next to me. Bandanas, tatts, beards.......the works. It was refreshing that they did not seem to have mobiles, unlike everyone else who was there who made and/or received calls. But sure enough, as I left, one of them received a call.

I vacuumed today, an extra special one, usually reserved for a house guest's imminent arrival. Skirting boards, edges of carpet, under things and moved things. No one will notice, but I feel good about it.

It pays to be a woman sometimes. Both times I caught a bus today, a female was waiting for the bus too. The bus pulled up both times with the door directly opposite HER, even though I was in the precisely correct place.

Daniel I think mentioned this some time ago in his blog. Today when paying in the supermarket with my credit card, I was asked for photo id. I had the face of a busted asshole as I showed my driver's licence and I never uttered a word of thanks, which is hard as I do it so automatically. What is this about?

There were a couple of notices in our bike storage room. They are just paper and don't look much. One was in colour and it got washed out with last week's heavy rain. The other is in black and white. I was thinking to negotiate their replacement with fellow body corp committee members, maybe with laminated signs, or even ask if they were strictly necessary. Instead, as I walked past them on the way to the car, I just ripped them off the wall. Problem solved easily, no one will notice them missing.

An old European woman was pushing a shopping jeep along Commercial Rd today. On top balanced a flatish, waxed, cardboard fruit box. On first glance the box seemed to have peas in their shell in it. On second glance, they were just the shells. What on earth will she do with them? Compost?

I have, for a long time wanted to dine at a restaurant in Little Bourke St. Seemed a bit intimidating really. But bit the bullet and went to Thai Lemon Bistro tonight. It was eighties decor, but excellent food and not expensive. No cute male stafff, all female, but very good service. Prime window seat as we were quite early. Very busy on the street, white Aussies, Asian Aussies, Indian and Asian students, drug addicts and backpackers.

Friday night English crime tv to watch tonight, good. Up early tomorrow as QE II is now arriving at 6.30, not 8.00.

And some people say if they are not working they get bored. Bah.

Here is the news

To save you searching the net for interesting news stories, I have done it for you today.

The largest Ikea store in England has just opened in North London. A crowd of six thousand turned up for the bargains. There was a crowd crush, a stabbing, abandoned cars and nine ambulances were required.

I am old enough to not have grown up with Ikea. For some of you, it is all you have known and you will never have had the pleasure of shopping for a three-piece deer hide lounge suite at Maples.

PS. It is perhaps a sad and empty life you might think I have, but I am excited. Tomorrow the QE II docks in Melbourne. I have from now until eight in the morning to learn how to take decent long distance shots.

Thursday, February 10, 2005


I have had an interesting but challenging relationship with my mother. I do adore her. She was gorgeous when she was younger and an outrageous flirt. She is still charming and when she boards a train, she will have the whole carriage spellbound with her chat to strangers, her wit and basic niceness and caring for strangers. When I was a silly kid and my parents were separating, it was expected that I would stay with her, along with my brothers and sisters. But being a rebellious youth who was looking for some cute bloke and dick, I chose to go and live with my father in the (releative) big smoke. My mother argued, insisted, pleaded and begged, to no avail against this head strong youth.

She found a new partner, I found gay, and we just adjusted to each other without talking about it. We have had some reasonable conversations and honesty………but never THE conversation, unlike the one I had with my stepmother.

She is now quite old, past seventy and probably won’t be around forever. She has been quite unwell, and I have been accused by all and sundry as being a neglectful son. It is hard to work out what her serious medical problems are and what are the hypochondria ones and what are the everyday ones.

I guess since she is falling down all over the place, I should have taken it more seriously. I am making an extra effort now.

She is still well enough to bash off for eight hour Sunday drives and tend her garden.

She will probably live for a long time yet.

Not a great quality pic sorry. It is the Sapphire Princess cruise ship that docked yesterday in Melbourne. It travelled in with the Spirit of Tasmania and dwarfed it. It is one big boat. Posted by Hello
I recently noticed an unseen state motto on a numberplate. I forget what is was now, but it made me observe number plates for the rest of the day, and casually for a week.

Did you know we had so many different slogans on number plates?

I had no idea.

Here are some Victorian ones.

Garden State (what I think of as the John Cain plates)
On the Move ( the Kennett plates, and Vic was on the move then, to QLD)
The Place to Be ( the Bracks plates)
John Kirner did not get an honour there.
Victoria 150
Victoria Centenary of Federation
Australia Grand Prix Melbourne
Melbourne City of Enterprise
Vic – Thoroughbred Country
Vic – Olympics on the Move (well, they moved right on past didn’t they)

Not enough for you?

South Australia
The Rose State
The Defence State (Defending what? Keeping people out?)
The Wine State
The Creative State
The Festival State


The Nation’s Capital
Heart of the Nation
Feel the Power of Canberra (I do every day)


Sunshine State
Smart State (I am gonna offend someone here, but really!!!)

New South Wales

The Premier State (from the time of Neville Wran I think. His ego would have approved of The Wran State)
NSW – The First State (first in what? Style? Culture? And it wasn’t actually a state originally)
Share the Spirit (yeah, the best slogan. Just the one thanks. To the top please. No ice)

Here are my suggestions.
Victoria, the grey state
NSW, the superficial state
QLD, the redneck state
SA, the hot and dry state
WA, the not really Australia state
NT, the hot and wet/dry state
Tas, you pay too much to forget us state

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Odd motoring

There are few things about the way people drive that really puzzle me, such as why 4WDs attempt to make U turns when traffic is approaching in both directions. The traffic is forced to stop while the 4WD completes an unplanned three point turn. The turning circle is poor, it would seem, on four wheel drives, although the owners never seem to pick this fact up. I often feel tempted to suggest that they ought to buy a car more suited to their driving abilities.

But the one that puzzles me the most is on multi lane roads and motorways when drivers are in the outside lane and swing across all lanes of traffic to use a left exit. Ok, sometimes you can make a last minute decision that you want to exit somewhere unexpectedly. But there are so many, it can’t be the total reason.

Now I am not the best driver and I dislike motorways or driving at speed because I am no longer used to it, but say I enter the West Gate Freeway at Kingsway and wish to exit at Williamstown Rd. As soon as I am on the freeway, I have in my mind that I will be exiting left. While I may not stay in the correct lane for the exit the whole way, no way will I be in the right hand lane 200 metres from the exit. It sticks in my head that I am going to exit left and need to be vaguely on the left hand side of the road. Is it a lack of concentration by drivers?

The worst example of this is on our recognised as dangerous Western Ring Road. I have travelled on it only a few times and it is truly scary. So many make the above last minute manoeuvre. It is a viable road to use to go to the airport. Not much longer and free, but I would rather pay City Link tolls than use it.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

St Kilda Festival

How many years ago was it? Maybe 10, maybe more. It was the St Kilda Festival and it was a wonderful day. There were street food stalls, buskers all based on or near Acland St and along the Esplanade were a couple of bands for the younger people.

People were wandering around in the pleasant sunshine. We spent quite a long time at the St Kilda Historical Society display in a building that I can’t well remember.

We went the next year, but the atmosphere was not as good with a lot of people publicly drinking and an awful lot of people.

We decided not to go the following year.

A couple of years later we went out the Festival Sunday and returned to find we could not get a parking place anywhere near our house in Balaclava.

This, along with the disappearing local shops in Balaclava, the quick change in the parking situation in our street as houses were renovated and the yuppies moved in, (ok, we started the rot) went a long way to convincing that it was a place we no longer wanted to live. We loved the local feel of Balaclava when we moved there. We liked the ‘unusual’ people. Our neighbours were great. It changed so quickly and along with it St Kilda changed. I could no longer buy a screw up the street, although I could in our back lane, and there was not one decent place to buy a cup of coffee when we moved there. Now it is sinking with great eating and coffee shops. We only wanted a couple of coffee shops, not tens of them.

Now our rates pay for this street party for people from all over Melbourne. I suppose businesses do well, although I know not all do. I suppose the council gets in extra income that offsets the money they spend. I suppose it makes St Kilda an attractive enticing place that drives property up, not necessarily a good thing.

But I am afraid I no longer like St Kilda, nor Balaclava and I am glad to be away from them.

This was my grandparent's clock given to them as a wedding present some time in the 1920s. I have it now. It was made by Dunklings the Jewellers, of Melbourne, and in the early eighties, I had them overhaul it. It is not the most stylish or grand clock, but it has a lot of sentimental value to me. We quickly learnt to leave the chimes unwound. The ticking is bad enough. Posted by Hello

Monday, February 07, 2005

Cough, splutter

Well, you would cough and splutter if you could not get rid of fumes from cooking and steam in the bathroom.

It is not something that I knew anything about, that is, exhaust fans in high rise or even low rise buildings. Never really thought about it. To me, an exhaust fan went in the ceiling of your bathroom and or toilet and you had a range hood over the stove. Some flats have them in windows, and a friend had much trouble when he tried to buy a new one. He could not get one to fit the hole at hole and cheated in some way that I have now forgotten.

In our apartment, and I think most similar to ours, there is one large unit located in the main bathroom. It is hidden in the ceiling space. There is a neat round vent in the bathroom, along with one in the toilet and another in the en suite. Switch the main light on in any of the three rooms and the exhaust fan comes on. Via ducts, the air is extracted and expelled via vents over the balcony.

Somewhere along the way, the duct from the range hood joins bathroom ducts. With all on, the volume of air coming out is huge. Enough to blow your hat off.

Although we have the bottom of our main door sealed, if left with the gap, the fans will pull in cool air from the landing too.

While the system works well, there are a couple of disadvantages. One is that if you don't have the bathroom exhaust on when cooking, the cooking fumes will blow back into the bathrooms.

This can be good too though. If partner is cooking me bacon and eggs for breakfast, I can awake to the smell wafting out from my ensuite. Alas, this is only theory.

It does get terribly greasy around the outlets over the balcony. It requires an annual clean. What we would do if it ever broke down and needed replacing, I don't know.

You probably have never really thought about exhaust fans in high rise building, so now you are well educated and can hold an intelligent opinion on the matter.......assuming the unlikely event happens that you ever might be discussing them.