Friday, November 11, 2005


I was in Coles in Prahran at eleven a.m. on the eleventh day of the eleventh month. There was an announcement made, requesting a mintutes silence. No one did.............I looked around, some foreign types but also some Aussie types. No one took any notice. The check out chicks/chaps kept working. Everyone kept shopping. I was prepared to stop, but I would have looked like an idiot. Bit sad.

What I would not have seen

Two days sick leave and then a day off. Good lurk. I was really only unwell for one day. For a simple cold, it cost me twenty dollars for a sick leave certificate, so I thought I better make it two days to get my money's worth. The man repaired our oven today, so tonight we had a pie, chips and vegies tonight. When he was here and I asked him how come a neighbour with the same oven and the same problem, serviced by the same company had his restuck and we had to have a new one, our price $260 as against neighbours price of $170. I had some done shopping in Prahran and walked back through Fawkner Park with the jeep in tow. Ah, bike ride. Rode down Albert Road to the beach with a bit more confidence than yesterday. It would only take five minutes without obstructions observed by a cautious rider. So many traffic lights, so much waiting. Nice cup of coffee and a read of the Hun at the very empty Portebella?

I road out onto the Kerford Road pier for a bit, but not to the end as I did not want to distrurb the fisher folk. There were some bike rest/tie up/stand thingies near the caf. Huh, like anyone would want to steal the green and white Apollo.

This morning while I was telling the building manager that the bike room door needed some attention, another resident put it into words. The tongue plate needed some attention. I was pleased to learn that. Said resident asked why I ride a bike. I did not tell him that I was nearly a virgin bike fact I did not have an answer. I should have asked why he, who had a nice apartment in this building needed to have a holiday house at Safety Beach.

It is too far to walk to the beach from here. But it is not so far on a bike and I noticed rather a lot that I would never have seen from the motor. There was a new wooden seat along the way. I know about these chunky seats that were created from the timbers of something old in Port Melbourne. There was an almost unreadable plaque at the base of tree, commemorating when the Save Albert Park Group put a fence around the Grand Prix Office, complete with NO TRESPASSING sign. I saw some people and some residences. I was amazed to learn of the bike facilities on the road. I was gobsmacked at seeing what they are doing at the Sports and Aquatic Centre.

While on the ride home, I felt very calm and very relaxed. This bike thing is a very good at destressing. I suggest you give it go.


The New South Wales state Labour government will not be re-elected.

Macquarie Bank will implode or explode or just go broke.

There will be some very innocent people who may have their lives ruined caught up in the November 2005 anti terrorist raids.

A rail line to Doncaster will be announced post next year's Commonwealth Games.

Victorian state opposition leader Robert Doyle will still be the leader of the opposition after next year's election, but not for long perhaps.

I will have run out of ideas for blogging by the time the Doyle loses and I will retire gracefully.

Tales from the US

I love dogs, but certain breeds should perhaps be bred out. Some movement has been made in Australia to stop importation of pit bull terriers. I have yet to see anyone who owns one who doesn't look scary. There is a little poetic justice in the following tale, the owner had his thumb bitten off. I hope the kid will be ok.

A 10-year-old boy is in a critical condition after three pit bulls escaped from a US home and went on a rampage, authorities in Illinois say.
The dogs, who then attacked another six people, were later shot dead by police.
No charges had been filed today, but McHenry County Sheriff Keith Nygren said the location was being treated as a crime scene.
Neighbours said the attacks started late yesterday when children going door-to-door for a fundraiser arrived at the home of Scott Sword, 41, who owned the dogs.
"We had music playing, and I heard this bizarre sound," said Debby Rivera, who lives three houses away.
"I looked out the window, and I saw a young boy. The dogs were just jumping on him."
"The screams were horrible," she said. The dogs were "relentless, like they were possessed".
The pit bulls attacked the two children, and when the dogs' owner tried to stop them, the dogs turned on him and bit off his thumb, Nygren said.
The boy's father also tried to protect his son and was attacked. The dogs went after another neighbour as well.
"The scene sprawled over a couple blocks, it was a very chaotic scene," said Lt Michael Douglas of the Cary Fire Protection District.
Residents threw rocks at the dogs and honked car horns to try to distract them from attacking.
Police later arrived and shot the animals.
Jim Malone said he and a neighbour tried to beat the dogs back with baseball bats.
"He'd hit them, they'd run, and they'd come back," Malone said. "This went on for 15 minutes."
The boy who was attacked was hospitalised and remained in a critical condition today.
His friend, also 10, was in a serious condition.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Bike, the end

Due to a couple of days sick leave, I have the Apollo up and running now. It only took about two hours of fiddling to get the brakes correct. I had a bit of a ride around the car park and tried to understand how derailleur gears work. A loose translation would surely be derailing gears. Hmmm, not sure about a gear system that derails. I was not well enough to take it out. It took all my energy just to lift it off the hook. But I felt a bit better today, so I strapped on the old fashioned blue bike hat.

Going down the carpark ramps at a fair pace was fun. Out into Queen's Lane and then down the footpath of Bowen Crescent and then along Kingsway footpath a bit. I had already rehearsed my 'not ridden a bike for thirty years officer. I am too scared to go on the road' speech. I dismounted to cross Kingsway.

I set off along the Albert Road footpath to the lake. Doing ok. Terribly uncomfortable position though, leaning forward. Seat is too high, but it has seized and won't lower. Will fix that later.

Now I have asked many people about the derailleur gears and no one has ever given me a simple explanation. It is a ratio system. The left lever operates at the cogs at the pedals and the right lever alters the chain at the wheel cogs. So simple. Why did no one tell me? Why did I spend twenty minutes on the net searching for the info, without a result? While I am not an expert, at least I know how the gears work now.

The brake cables have freed up nicely with some use and I seem to have their adjustment pretty ok.

I thought I was doing ok on the gravel path around the lake, but then a jogger overtook me. Every time I slowed down, I wobbled and wandered badly. Once I was at the southern end of the lake I stopped for a break for a couple of minutes and watched the workmen working on the lake wall scratching their nuts.

The other side of the lake was very unfamiliar to me. There was a boardwalk about one metre wide alongside what I think was Rob's Carousel, Redheads, Carousel. I was going to get off and walk to be on the safe side, but I thought bugger it, I will give it a shot. I was unlikely to catch up to the power walking chicks in front of me. I encountered two joggers coming towards me and avoided them. But then a guy came around the corner of the boardwalk unexpectedly and I lost my nerve. I braked too hard and grazed arm on some shade cloth. Damn, my first bike injury.

Somehow I ended up down near the old cricket ground when really I wanted to stay near the lake. Enough, I am going home. There was a quiet road for a bit. I switched the chain to the big cog at the front and the big cog at the rear and pedalled hard. It went fast. My brother, whose bike it was. said it vibrates over 30kph. No it didn't. It must have been the old tyres. I felt in full control of it then. Why do I wobble so badly at slow speeds? I worked it out later. I have never ridden a bike at slow speeds. When I was kid, there weren't pedestrains to dodge or worry about. It was just always open road.

Bike went back on the rack until another day. Surprisingly no sore leg muscles. We walked to South Yarra tonight to eat and no problem. Feeling quite self satisfied.

An offer I can refuse

Sorry Scott, maybe if you were a bit younger.........

Dear Johnny, Kimmie, Andy and Bobby

Chaps and chicks who govern us, please take note. While I fully understand that the most important thing to you is to be re-elected, you could be a little less offensive about it.

Yes, families are important and should be supported. But there is a very high percentage of those who vote for you are not a family in the sense that you use the term. I am sure that you really mean you want to make Australia safe for all of us and not just families. You seem to have gotten over the 'bush' word and I have not heard 'battler' for a while. About time to indicate that you are governing for all Australians, not just families. I am starting to find it quite offensive.

(PS Is forrest a good word to substitute for bush? Not in the above sense. We want a better deal for people in the forrest sounds creepy.)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Good stuff

I was about to post another whinge about something but instead I will do something positive.

The country we live in is not too bad. It could be a lot better, but at least we can rail against our government and the authorities.

Put people in a car or on public transport, they can change their personality considerably. But outside of these pressure cookers, most Aussies aren't bad people and would rather help than not.

We have gorgeous food and eating places. Value for money, it would be hard to beat around the world.

We have more open spaces with nothing in them than perhaps anywhere else in the world. It is not a bad thing to have open spaces without man made stuff in them.

What ever sort of weather you like, you can find it in Australia, and in Melbourne, possibly find it all in a short space of time.

Some thoughtful people put a lot of care into infrastructure, building and architecture in the last couple of centuries. We hope this continues.

Our groomed parks are marvellous. Our ungroomed parks are pretty good too.

Personally, well I have a job that almost pays the bills (end of positives about job). I have a good family, an ok home, not many, but good freinds, a caring partner.

Life is good hey? Well, I have a cold and feel thoroughly miserable and writing that crap was no help at all. Sniff, sniff.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Call waiting and 101

This never occurred to me when we joined Telstra 101 service. We just wanted to try it to see if when we buy our next cordless phone, we need an answering machine or not.

It worked ok, but we stuck with our answer machine. One problem is that there is no visible indication of a message when you arrive home. Another just discovered one is that it rather defeats the purpose of having call waiting. Instead of an incoming call tone, it goes to the 101 service. If it someone whose number is in our phone, our phone shows who is calling, but it won’t when the call goes to 101.

So, I decided I wanted it off. Unlike mobile message service, there is little that you can do by pressing buttons on your phone. You can only really listen to your messages. I called someone at Telstra yesterday after trying to turn in off, but they said it was not a user feature. He said to call the general Telstra number. I tried that but they only work business hours. I called today and got into this terrible voice recognition loop. After a couple of false tries, I decided to say ‘consultant’, but then it still wanted to know why I was calling and then would send me back into the loop which did not have a talk to consultant option. Arrrggg. I was getting annoyed after the fourth try.

Eventually, I just called the number and said nothing, and that got me through after a time.

Now our net has gone down. Call Telstra tech support. It took four tries before getting through. Message was ‘we are experiencing excessive calls at the moment, please try later’. Yes, well that is quite predictable because the net is not working.

I have had enough experience with Telstra tech support in past to know exactly what was coming. Well, I though I had, but they have added a couple of extra touches.

Here we go. Press 1 for broadband, press 1 for cable, press one for standard cable. Fine. But here is a newie. ‘Please enter your telephone number related to your internet connection.’ Given I had pressed all the buttons for cable, the system should know that there is no telephone number connected with my internet connection. F***wits. Smarter this time than the last, I said nothing at all and then started on the rest of the process.

Your call maybe monitored etc.

Please be sitting in front of your computer with it switched on etc.

Please have your account number ready.

I suppose this all took a couple of minutes. I was silly really. I did know exactly what I would hear. I have heard it many times.

‘We are currently experiencing technical difficulties with our Victorian big pond cable network. Our technicians are working on the problem, but due to the complexity of the problem, we are unable to give a time when the network will be available.’

I can’t imagine what logic tells them that people need to go through all that nonsense when callers just want it confirmed that there is a network problem. I am quite sure it is nothing to do with intelligent end of the business, which are the ever nice, pleasant and polite folk who eventually answer your enquiry.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Bike Progress

I have had new tyres put on the recently aquired bicyle. I bought a tyre pump, a bell and a lock.
To get the wheels off to take them to the bike shop, I had to let one tyre down to get it past the brake calipers. The other was already flat.

So, with two new tyres, it should be ready to ride. Not quite. Putting the newly tyred wheels on while inflated required me to do something with the brake calipers. The most obvious was to loosen the cables. But I can recall, sometimes it is hard to get them set up correctly again. What I did was unscrew a part of the caliper. Mistake, although very educational. The back one was fine, but the front one sprung apart, and try as I might, I could not get it to go back correctly.

Bugger it. I will do it another day. I have already done too much today and I am weary and it is time for a pre dinner chard. As I started to wheel it out and back to the bike room, the chain fell off. I will get there, eventually.

New Blogger Linked

It is a long time since I have added anyone to my blogger honour roll. Many are worthy, but I need to feel some sort of personal connection or linkage with them. Bar one, all of the linked bloggers have something to do with public transport. It can hardly be a co-incidence.

Peter's blog, Melbourne in Transit, is almost exclusively about public transport. His posts are interesting, informative and well written. So welcome Peter.

Melbourne Public Transport

Melbourne's public transport is dear to my heart. I both use it and work in it. It is terribly important to the ammenity and the good functioning of our city. While there is bit of media and advocacy pressure happening, it is a good time to make some personal contact with your local member and indicate that you would be happy for several billion well spent dollars to be thrown at public transport. Strike while the iron is hot. Just a quick email will do. Even if you never use pt, the better it works, the less cars will be on the road bothering you.

As the sun sinks

It is incredible at how quickly the sky changes as the sun sets.

Who is up the tree?

No matter how hard I stared, I could not see anyone naked up the tree.