Friday, February 24, 2006

Bad news

Due to continuing friction between the body corporate committee and our building manager and his wife who cleans, they have decided to move on after about eighteen months here. They are taking up an in house position at one of the New Quay towers at Docklands for more money and less work. H will not be working there, only her husband. She is relieved to not have the hard work of vacumming carpets.

As I am not on the committee now, I am not priveledged to inside information, but I understand the apartment they are in now is being relet straight away, so maybe we won't have a live in manager.

God knows who we will get. In spite of friction, they were very good for the building and sorted out many outstanding issues and cut out some of the outrageous ripoffs by tradespeople and maintenance companies. Fortunately, we now have a first class, no nonsense body corporate manager.

And, I am going to miss my chats with H. We will have a drink with them before they leave next month and it just occured to me, I can go and meet her for lunch at Docklands sometime and hear the goss about that area and the buildings and of course report to her what is happening here.

The Royal Domain

As my going out plans were ruined by it being too bloody hot today, I decided to have a look at St Kilda Road's newest and tallest apartment building, The Royal Domain Tower. It is between Domain Road and Dorcas Street and is extremely tall, 42 stories I believe. The approval for it to be built was a pretty dodgy process.

I had to fill in a form and have my id checked before being allowed to go up. I 'accidently' got a digit wrong in my phone number, so no subsequent pestering. The first thing I noticed was that the lift button panel on the ground floor wasn't sitting straight. Shoddy.

Up to the 31st floor where there are four flats apartments. They are huge, all three bedroom and very nice with great views. How much was the first thing I asked. $1.1 million for three bedroom. I felt a nervous facial tic happening. Body corp fees, $6,000 pa. Ummm, what about a two bedroom? They only have city views, $850k plus. Oh.

Well, it was interesting to see how the other half may live. I was standing on the landing waiting for the lift and looked down and just like on the ground floor, the lift button panel was crooked. Just a couple of degrees, but certainly noticeable. For that price, you would think that they could get that right.

I left with a business card in hand and headed for the coffee shop at the base of the buidling where we often have coffee. We have come to know the guy who owns it over the few years we have been going there and when I told him that I had been up and had a look, he offered me a double shot coffee to calm me. "Going home to check your credit card balance"? he called out as I left.

If you are a rich type who fancies them, here is the link, The Royal Domain Tower.

I might have a look at something more reasonably priced tomorrow. The Hallmark, which is the old Travelodge Hotel.

The West Wing

I watched most of a funny little show last night. It was this send up spoof of American politics. It must have been made by the English or French. They are so cruel. Hang on, I'll just check the details on the net. Wait, what's going on here? It is made by Americans for an American audience. I don't get it?

Coles v Safeway

So do people have a preferred supermarket? I am curious, so make a comment. Mostly I think it is what is closest to you.

In Balaclava I much preferred Coles to Safeway as it was so much bigger and carried many more lines. Now, our local shops are Prahran, and both are comparable in size and next to each other. I favour Coles though and once a bloke learns where stuff is in a supermarket, he won't wanna change. But I still use Safeway at times, especially for marked down meat.

I really dislike the close by South Melbourne Coles. It is old and cramped and there is always someone in my way. But it is easy to cycle to. They are building a new one though in the near future.

We often shop at Safeway in QV in the city. I really like it and there are lots of cute overseas students to perve on. Coles in Melbourne Central is horrible and I will not go back there. Claustrophobic place it is. I can't even remember the experience. I have blocked it in my head.

I much prefer the old and tired Safeway in Ackland Street to the bright newish Coles.

Maybe I have bit of a preference towards Coles, but it depends more on the physical store itself I think and how convenient it is to me at the time. I will guess that is how it works for most people. But if you only use one and would never use the other, I would be interested to know (fly buy loyalty excluded).

I have not actually been into an Aldi, but I don't think I would like it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Suburb not for me

Rather than where I would live, or consider living, I prefer to think of where I would not live. How many people can I offend here? It is not meant to be offensive. You live where you live because I assume you like it there. I don't, my problem.

There are a few real no-nos. Ivanho, Doncaster, Balwyn, Sunshine, St Albans, Beaumauris, Broadmeadows, Caroline Springs.

Not keen on Hawthorn, Kew, anywhere west of the Yarraville/Williamstown belt, anywhere north of Thornbury, anywhere north west of Kensington. No further than Oakleigh or Glen Waverley. Footscray is an iffie one. I know some people there and they have a beautiful house with really good neighbours, but it is pretty flat and boring. Although Ascot Vale is not far, I really would feel alien there. St Kilda/Prahran is too busy now. Elsternwick is nice for shopping, but oh the drivers. Brighton? Don't think I would fit in there. South Melbourne? Some parts are ok if not too far from shops. No to Beacon Cove/Port Melbourne. Albert/Middle Park, too many couples with 1.3 kids.

There is one area I really like though. The area bounded by Toorak Rd, St Kilda Rd, Domain Rd and Park St. Very nice, very quiet, though car parking hassles and oh so EXPENSIVE. Best I just stay where I am. I just worry about home help and meals on wheels getting to me here. I have established that an ambulance trolley will fit in the lift and it is very wheelchair friendly for some nice young man to wheel me out for walks in the park.

It's just not natural

Surely against the laws of nature. Europe I think. Click the pic for a better view.

David Irving

He calls himself an historian but I don't think he deserves that title. The idiot denied that the holocaust happened and may be locked up for saying this. I don't have an opinion on whether he should be locked up or not for that, but what an idiot to say historians views should be listened to more and their views respected. Yeah, right, like he is a good example. Idiot. Lock him up Austria, if only because of his stupidity.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Cross City Tunnel

Sydney's Cross City Tunnel is one of my little hobby horses. I have a very large file of newspaper articles. As you can see from my credit card statement, I have used it and I wrote about it at the time.

Our ABC's Four Corners last night their devoted a program to toll roads and public prvivate partnerships. After a bit of a read of the online forum that followed, I didn't do a bad job of using it for a foreinger from the south. Even an experienced Sydney taxi driver was accidently funnelled into the tunnel. Note it is $7 something on my statement. It is now over $8 to use in both directions in one day. For such a short distance, it is a very high charge. $8 X five days a week is $40. That is more than my petrol bill for a fortnight and you can't say you would save much in petrol by using it.

While I am totally against private utilities and roads, they are here to stay and we must deal with reality. Governments represent us in the negotionations over such matters and while the companies need to make a profit, I expect these private roads are cash cows. Perhaps not the Cross City Tunnel, yet. But it will be. Governments need to get a far better deal for their population.

I was infruitated to hear Vitorian State politician Mark Birrell saying how wonderful Melbourne's City Link is, this marvellous tollway that leads from the city to the airport. No Birrell, it was already there. Ok, it has been substantially improved but it used to serve me well enough on the occasions I used it. As with all these freeways, it matters not how good it is, it is going to link back into the general road system and it will fail to live up to the expectation.

Day after day we hear that one of City Link tunnels has a lane closed and speed is restricted because of congestion. What have the solved? They are nice to use during the day or night time, but you have to balance the cost against the convenience. When you think of what that sort of money could have done for public transport, you could cry.

Press button A please caller

So, Telstra wants to remove 5,000 public telephone boxes. You may think a bleeding heart lefty-there WILL be law and order type like myself would be terribly against it.

Nope, get rid of them all. What happened to all those nice plastic dial phones we used to have? The ones that used to slide around the surface of whatever they sat on as you dialled? I recall a particularly nice olive green model. Give them a scrub up and each poor person can have one and a line to go with it and it can receive incoming calls and it will dial out only to 000 (911, 999, 112 for my many international readers). This is already done for some poor people who aren't in good health.

I am a very modest Telstra share holder and I want big dividend cheques and big growth in the share price of Telstra and if you are going to start whinging about the loss of public phones, then what part did you play in lobbying not to privatise Telstra?

It is as good as a private company now. It is there to make a profit. If the government wants to keep a number of public phones, then get Optus or Vodaphone to take some on. Either that or do as they do now and pay Telstra to keep a number of them themselves paid for by taxpayers. Ha, ha. All telecommunications are private, except for the public phone boxes that are government owned.

Pictures are of proper telecommunication equipment. A phone that dialled. You only dialled once as the number of calls anyone would receive were so few that they were never engaged and there wasn't an automated system when you rang a business. Someone actually answered the phone pretty well immediately. If it all got too complicated for you, you just called the operator and they would sort it out. The red phone booth was insulated. You could hear what someone was saying above the traffic when you used it. It was just a matter of working out when to press button A and when to press button B. Again the eavesdropping operator would assist you.

I think I last used a public phone in about 1992. I have examined them of late though and they are quite sophisticated. You can even sms from them and use your credit card. Plus they look exceptionally vandal proof............still no phone books in them though.

Monday, February 20, 2006


"Give us a magazine subsription to 'Better Homes and Gardens' please." R quite likes the show and I thought it would be a nice thing to do instead of a perhaps $150 discount that we would receive instead if we promised to use Origin Gas and Origin Electric for 12 months.

We do anyway and there was no extra cost or catches.

I was now on hold, it was not quite so simple.

"Sorry Sir, we cannot offer that to you as you need to use our natural gas supply. Instead you have bulk hot water".

"What???? The water is heated by Origin natural gas. You send me a bill every two months and our hotplates use Origin natural gas." The way our hotwater is billed remains a complex mystery to me but the body corporate pays for the gas for the hotplates. The hotwater is a combo of gas pressure factor, metering, differential pricing and what sort of deal our Body Corporate managers have negotiated. The basics are the same though, use less, pay less.

"Sorry Sir, we are unable to offer you this special deal. However, if you agree to the above conditions, we can give you a discount on your electricity."

I agreed and we may save perhaps $100 per year. It took me a little while to work out that the reason must be is that who supplies the gas to heat our hotwater and for our hotplates is not under our control. It is the body corporate's decision. I wish she had pointed this out to me.

But this mild weather we have at the moment means the air con is not on and so we won't save $100. I must use more electric somehow to get the full benefit. The more we use, the more we will save. Yeah, umm, that is right, yeah, I'm sure, I think, yep, most definitely.

Sexism alive and well in our esteemed journals

There was a terrible accident in Victoria this weekend. Six young people have lost their lives when mowed down by a motor car. No, motor car sounds too disconnected. Mowed down by a motor car driver.

But what is this about?

Killed instantly in the crash were brother and sister, Shane Hirst, 16, and Abby, 17.

It is from The Age who should do better. Male first perhaps if they were equal age, but if she was older, then her name should be first. I would have thought that would be the protocol. Surely it should read

Killed instantly in the crash were sister and brother, Abby Hirst, 17 and Shane, 16.

I see it as blatant sexism. In the few seconds it has taken me to write, the whole online story at The Age's website has changed. You have to take my word for it.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Another Dame M tale

A lot has happened to this woman and I suppose this story is true. I am not doing research for historical accuracy of details in this post.

We already knew that Dame M was an excellent ice skater in her youth. During the war she often skated at the Glacerium where Melbourne's concert hall now is located. She told us that the Americans used to arrive in large groups and all the Aussie girls would swarm around them upon their arrival. She said that they were so handsome, so well dressed and so rich and prepared to share their generous pay around. Dame M would usually connect with one or two of them and spend the evening skating with them. At the end of the night, she would invariable get a gift of some kind, usually sweets, but she always declined spending more time with them after the skating was over.

It was a normal night's skating with two US soldiers and concluded the same as every other evening, but the next day US soldier Leonski of the Brown Out murders fame committed his last murder and was caught and arrested. His picture must have subsequently been published in the newspaper and to her horror, she realised that he had been her skating partner that very night.

Although Dame M still skated after this close encounter, she made sure that she and her sister always left in time to catch the last train home, instead of often missing it and have to walk home to Ascot Vale.

On one occasion that they walked home a police car stopped and the officers offered them a lift home. Her sister was keen but Dame M refused and kept them walking. Probably a good idea really, but to the cops credit, they shadowed them until they were safely home.