Saturday, February 19, 2005

As you can see, this bicycle is securely locked to the pole. As a complete bicycle it managed to stay there a few months and then bits of it started to disappear. First a wheel, then the other, then a pedal, then the seat. There are still some detachable bits though. I wonder if the council will ever do anything about it. Posted by Hello

Friday, February 18, 2005

I feel better now

Casualisation of the Australian work force continues unabated and I don't like it.

What a mean, mealy mouthed way to treat a loyal worker. If his work was unsatisfactory, you should have had him dismissed. Instead after twenty something years of service, you will not give him long service leave. Even worse, when a court awards it, you challenge it in a higher court.

No wonder you are seen as a club for the elite. Absolutely despicable behavior by the MCC.

Contact details deleted.

Digger wannabe rant

John Farnham performing at Gallipoli? What a great idea. Isn't that what the diggers fought for? So that we could have pop concerts at a war commemorations?

War is a terrible and evil thing and should be avoided at almost all costs. Many misguided young Australians were sent to their deaths for love of their country and without good reason as were people from around the world.

Would it not just be possible for people to sit and be quiet, think, reminisce and reflect without the distraction of a pop singer or any overt entertainment. It must be a magical and eerie experience to wake early at Gallipoli and feel the ghosts of the past around you. You could look out to sea and imagine the all the young men landing on the beach, only to be shot a few seconds later. Anonymous soldiers? No, someone's husband, boyfriend, lover, son, mate. How could anything but silence and perhaps the eerie sounds of the The Last Post or mournful bagpipes accompany that feeling.

Prime Minister of New Zealand, Helen Clarke, quickly put the kabosh on it and good on her. One step ahead of our 'I know nuffing' PM Howard. She is a curious woman about who we don't know much in Australia. But I like what I see. Hope they win the cricket, just to rub a bit of salt into the wounds of the west island. This Australian feeling of superiority is getting dangerous.

Fire, fire

In the early nineties we stayed at the Royal Jomtien Hotel in Pattaya, Thailand. A few years later, there was a terrible fire there. Over fifty people died and many more injured. It was the usual thing, faulty fire alarms, disconnected sprinklers, locked fire exits, junk piled in the stairwells.

People who live in our apartment building sometimes roll their eyes when we are going through the body corporate accounts and see how much the private fire maintenance company’s contract costs us. But I never do. I think back to the Royal Jomtien Hotel, where it could have been us who burned.

Just recently in Madrid a sixteen story office building burnt to the point of needing demolition. Fortunately no one was harmed

I guess I am a bit paranoid about it. I always check for exits in theatres, large hotels, anywhere in fact that it would be difficult to escape from if there was a fire.

Australia has very strict fire protection laws for big buildings and they are monitored to ensure compliance. However, only a fool would suggest that a building might never fall through the cracks.

I don’t know everything about our building’s fire protection systems, but you may be interested and/or reassured to hear something about what I do know.

If there is a fire alarm, the fire brigade will send three trucks (tied to the size of the building). At $1,000 per truck, false alarms are to be avoided at all costs. If a guilty party can be identified, then they will pay. If not, the body corporate pays.

False alarms can be caused by someone knocking the head off a sprinkler, workmen elsewhere opening the water main causing the water pressure in the building to drop and residents burning food in their apartment and opening the main door to the landing and letting the smoke out.

A fire alarm activates all body corporate committee members to immediately find out why the alarm went off and who can be billed for it. If nothing can be found in the building, then we go outside to see if workmen can be blamed.

The whole building, including the car park is covered by sprinklers. You are very careful when moving furniture around your apartment, in case you hit a sprinkler head. More modern buildings have them concealed in a better manner. If you do happen to knock the head off a sprinkler, you will get very wet. Someone with a surfboard once did and it was a comforting volume of water that would put out any blaze. The drop in water pressure caused by a sprinkler going off, will set of the fire alarm.

As well as sprinklers in your apartment, there are mains wired, battery backed up smoke detectors. Five years after the building was finished, all the batteries started going flat and the beeps pleading for replacement could be heard on nearly every floor. These smoke detectors are not wired to the fire alarm system. The stove hotplates are gas, but if there is no heat from flame, the gas goes off. The supplied clothes dryer has a very sensitive heat protection system.

On each landing and throughout the building are smoke detectors that are wired to the alarm system. The affected floor can be identified in the fire control room. The alarm on the appropriate floor will sound, along with a couple of floors above and below. If the whole building alarm system went off and everyone tried to evacuate at once, then chaos would ensue.

The fire brigade will be immediately notified via a separate, secure telephone line. Should the main line fail, there is also a back up line. In each lift and on every floor, as well as around the rest of the building are sockets for firemen to plug phones into should they need to communicate.

All extractor fans in the carpark are activated and the stairwell pressurisation system will start. This pushes filtered air from outside into the stairwell with the idea that it will remain smoke free because of the positive air pressure. It is quite a draft and causes doors to slam. All emergency lighting is activated.

All water, whether through sprinklers or fire hoses, is propelled by large independently operating pumps in the fire control room. The room also contains the fire control panel for the building.

Once a week the fire protection company attends the building. They turn on the pumps and run a wasteful amount of water through the system. It is alarming if you are in the shower as the pressure momentarily drops and you jump out of the way expecting a blast of hot or cold water. They check all hoses and fire phones. They test the phone lines to the fire station.

About four times a year, an ‘essential services’ person attends and checks all exit and emergency lighting, that the bin chutes are sealing, that the stairwell doors are closing fully and sealing, that the stairwell smoke detector on the roof is working, that the car park exhaust fans are working and correctly set, that all public smoke alarms are functioning and probably stuff I don’t know about.

There have only been two alarms since we have been here, both false. Interestingly only about 5% of the occupants took any notice and made there way downstairs, although the floor alarms can’t be heard very far away from the affected floors.

So do I feel safe in a high rise building. Yes. Do I trust all the companies who maintain the fire systems? No, but I trust them a lot more than I would the equivalent in most countries.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

All I wanted was a strong latte

St Kilda Foreshore Café No. 2

Customer: Mate, how did you go Sunday? (St Kilda Festival day)

Prop: Ohh, many, many drunks and not much money.

Customer: Not good mate. Did you see on tv the mayor kissing another bloke?

Prop: No.

Customer: The whole council should be sacked and I should run it. Bloody pooftas.

I chipped in: It is lucky we live in a democracy mate.

Customer: Yeah, sure is.


The not so tidy wardrobe Posted by Hello

'Sterile' my sister said about our apartment. In unison we replied 'And that is just how we like it.' However, it is very much on the surface. Open a door, look under something and it could be quite messy. Posted by Hello

A mate's computer rage

He is quite pc and net savvy, so not sure why this happened. He should have learnt when I told him not to use the escape key to wake up the computer. He aborted one of my downloads once, no big deal. But I did tell him.

Last night he wrote a really nice email, I think, to an overseas friend, but he did it while he was doing other stuff. The pc shut down and he woke it up by using the escape key. It deleted the email, which was ready to send. He was furious. There was no way that he could blame me directly, but I felt bad. Useless computer, useless internet, useless everything. It continued tonight.

Is it a character defect of mine that when something goes wrong with the pc or the net, then I take responsibility for it? Ok, I get a 404 message, I should have saved that. When a program says, it is time to save your work, it is not kidding. Save, back up, save again. I do it all the time. Still, sometimes I lose stuff, but rarely nowdays.

You can rant and rave all you like about the failings of the www, email, your pc, and maybe you will feel better. But at the end of the day, (nice clichĂ©) you must control your pc. It has a lot of limitations. Respect it’s frailty, and you won’t go far wrong.

Not adding to council coffers

Between my ages of 18 and 21, I parked illegally. You can be lucky sometimes and not get caught, but every time, I did.

First was in the city and I parked past the end of a parking sign. I deserved the ticket and I was a bit chuffed that it was a police issued ticket, not a council version.

Next time was when helping a friend in distress and need at the Alfred Hospital, she paid.

Last time was at the bank in Balaclava, probably twenty years ago. I am just nicking into the bank, 2 minutes, won’t matter. Yes it did.

I was annoyed. I was only there 2 mins.

No, I parked illegally, I deserved the ticket.

My father had a few parking tickets in his time and he never ever paid them, but I could not see how I could get out of paying any of them.

I decided then I would not add to the coffers of parasitic councils and since then, I have never parked illegally. There is sometimes temptation, but I resist. It is not hard.

So, for pure money saving reasons, I have not parked illegally for twenty something years. So sorry, if I am about to slip into holier than thou attitude.

At least once a week I will be opposite the Prahran Market in Commercial Road ready to catch the bus home. This day my usual can’t be bothered, self control persona lost it.

It was raining. This woman in a smart car pulled into the bus stop and parked. She went into Eugeni cake shop. Good taste there, Eugeni cakes are yum. Now I might consider using my car more if I could just pull up anywhere and park. It would be so convenient. Door to door. I must have been in a bad mood and so had a go at her as she came out of the shop. “So rules are for other people, not you? You know what happens when a bus arrives? It can’t pull in to the stop, traffic banks up behind it. The street gets congested and I bet you would be the first person to whinge about traffic congestion.” She said nothing but grinned with the smirk that only quite wealthy people can muster. Was it a waste of my energies? Will she think twice the next time she wants to park there?

Another time, I was dressed in work clothes, smart trousers, pale blue shirt. I was walking along a side street to the corner of a main road. A car pulled up in a no standing area. I guess I must have stared at him, but I was still some distance away. He hesitated, thinking I was a parking officer. Ah, I will play this one along. I turned into the main road and looked back just as he did as he slowly walked away from his car. I walked a bit further and ducked behind a street planting. After a few seconds, I stepped out and looked up the street. The guy was standing there, looking in my direction. I walked a bit towards him, then stopped and pulled out my phone. I never engaged him in direct eye contact. He slowly walked towards his car as I slowly walked away and he got in and drove off, his errand not done. Nice one.

Did I hear City of Port Phillip is owed 15million in unpaid parking fines? Pay up now you cheats. My exhorbitant rates might go down.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Again not a great pic. Maybe I am expecting too much from the camera. Or it is still 'user error'? Posted by Hello

The Shipping News

It must be peak cruise liner time of the year for Melbourne. The Queen Elizabeth 2 (QEII) has been and gone, see pic, and the Sapphire Princess, see previous pic, has been and gone twice.

A week ago or so, I glanced out the window and saw an uncommercial looking ship arriving. I checked the port shipping site and learnt that it was the Sapphire Princess and when it would depart. It was an early departure, but I got up and snapped it.

I noticed at the port site, that the QUEII was due in. But six o’clock in the morning!!! I set my alarm and the buggery thing did not arrive until 7.30. It is quite eerie lying in bed looking out the window into the half light and seeing a shape appear on the horizon. It wasn’t lit up, just an impressive big ship.

Now when is it leaving? I checked and it said 1.00 on Sunday. Friends were visiting, so I told them to come at 12.30 and we could watch it leave.

I was ready for bed just after midnight Saturday night and thought I would just check if the time of departure had altered. Duh!!! It departs at 1.00, not 13.00 which it would be if was the next afternoon. Well, I am not staying up to see it. To bed. But it left early and I did see it blazing with lights.

The next morning, the Sapphire Princess returned, which I saw and then later departed, which I also saw.

The QUEII looks quite old fashioned compared to the Sapphire.

Anyway, enough ships for me for a while. That is unless the Queen Mary 2 visits.

Stay around intact please

Before you drive your car, have a quick look at this link. Be careful kiddies, it is a dangerous world out there.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Howl at the Moon

Howl at the Moon. Heard of it? I hadn’t until my nephew decided he wanted the first of his three eighteenth birthday parties at this venue. There are three of them, the one below, one at Chadstone and one at Surfers Paradise.

We snapped on the E Tag, fuelled the motor, put out our best outer suburban street wear and off we set for Fountain Gate. We allowed an hour, but it took half that, but then another 15 minutes to find the place in the maze of car parks, roads, and buildings. As we were a little early still, we killed time in the Fountain Gate Hotel and watched people arriving for a wedding reception.

Last time I was at Fountain Gate would have been 15 years ago for Christmas Eve carols. It was in a lovely summer evening and we sat on the grass overlooking the shallow valley where the performers entertained us. This area has all been built over now.

My mother, who lives at Pakenham, shops at Fountain Gate. She and my stepfather meet friends there for dinner on Friday nights and they wander around buying bits and pieces. I had no idea of its size. It is huge.

Howl at the Moon is a bar and a place to have quite good value food and along the way, you are entertained by three rotating performers, with always two on stage. There were two pianos and some electronic music making machines. Mostly they just belted out popular songs that you can sing to and worked their way through the requests written on drink coasters. While you could still talk, the music was pretty loud.

Anyone who had a birthday was called up and had to kneel while they received a shot of tequila direct from the bottle. Then they had to individually sing happy birthday to each other. Some of the more willing, like my nephew, received a lot more tequila than the reluctant participants. All done in good humour.

After dinner, people danced and created a pretty good vibe. I did enjoy seeing my brother waltzing with the birthday boy, his son. They were quite good. I think they may have done it before.

Although a few of nephew’s friends were there, it was mostly extended family. The mates party night is next Saturday night.

All quite good fun, but a bit hard going, for yours truly, the nominated driver.

Now there were some other restaurants adjacent, a disco across the way, a pub around the corner and also it was the entrance to the movie theatres. There was security to maintain the peace. A constant stream of patrons of the various venues paraded past. It was a good mix of older and younger people and I assumed the area was, like Langwarrin, one of the last bastions of the Anglo Saxon Australian. It wasn’t and it was all the more interesting for it. I should have know better as overseas born people I work with live nearby in Narre Warren North.

It shoulda been me

Cute enough guy on the tram yesterday. Facing his chickie babe and cuddling. Nice. In the most modern fashion, the waist band of his jeans sat nicely below the cheeks of his ass. His boxers were showing but his baggy tee covered it all pretty well. His chickie babe wanted a feel of his flesh (and I don’t blame her). She put her hand behind his back and lifted up and pulled out his tee. What did this I see just 40cm away from my face? Gorgeously curvaceous bubble butt, a few centimetres of crack, smooth olive skin. I like men.