Saturday, April 29, 2006

The deserted bike update

Year 2003: Intact bicycle locked to a sigpost. No pic.

Year 2004: Pieces have started to disappear from bicycle

Year 2005: Not much left of the bicycle now

Year 2006: No one could see anything left on bicycle to remove, so decided that it would look fine suspended by one of it's own cables

Should I have contacted the council for them to remove it? No, it amuses me the few times each week that I see it.

New hot celeb link David Beckham

This week's celeb is David Beckham. Irresistible, until he speaks. If I did not have a gag handy, I could still think of something to shove in his mouth to keep him silent. He is a big boy I think.

David Beckham pics

Friday, April 28, 2006

Two Botanic Gardens

Melbourne is fortunate to be so well endowed with beautiful parks. Even the burbs have some great parks.

We now have two Royal Botanic Gardens. Our newest one officially opens at Langwarrin in May.

One is on expensive inner city land and the other on cheaper and not so useful outer suburban land.

One has high maintenance exotic plants, the other low maintenance Australian natives.

One requires lots of water, the other probably only needs water to flush the public lavs and that would be recyled.

One has vast areas of lawn that requires mowing, the other doesn't.

This is a guess, but one has rubbish bins and the other does not.

One is frequented by your wealthier type person and the other is not.

One is adjacent to one of the richest areas of Melbourne, the other adjacent to one of the poorest.

One is well fenced and with gates so that access can be controlled and ease of collecting an entrance fee, the other is not.

One is free and the other will cost nine dollars.

No stupid, it is not the high maintenance, highly watered one in the posh area that costs nine dollars, it is the scrubby native vegetated one in the poor area that costs nine dollars. The former is free.

I suppose I better reserve my judgement until I see it, but on the face of it, it sounds wrong to me.

Last country train trip N Class

The last time I caught a country train was to Murchison East and I then had to transfer to a V Line coach. The coach wasn't bad, but the train was beautifully comfortable. The seats were very good, the bathrooms clean and the train was near to silent. Just a faint rattle came from a light cover, just to assure you that you were moving as you nodded off. Long distance train travel may take longer and often be more expensive, but I consider that it is a luxurious way to travel. The train would have been like this one.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Big Brother Gay

Apparently on this season's Big Brother, there is a guy called David who is thought to be a homosexual. While this pic of him with Miss Aida is not proof positive, it is not a bad indication.

Update. Evidently he did come out on this evening's show.

Army Body Mix Up

How incompetent are our forces? Aside from the billions wasted on poor equipment purchasing, now they have allowed a dead soldiers body to be sent to god knows where and the wrong one sent home to his family in Australia.

Lieutenant General Leahy, hopefully they won't be needed, but can you draw some kangaroos on some sticky post it notes and send them to Iraq? They can stick them on the coffins in the future.

Incompetent money wasting fools. God help us if we are never under a real threat. It will only be the lower ranks that save us.

Pic from a friend

A friend travelling in the US found this sign in a quiet midwest town. Thanks for emailing it mate.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Occupying Anzac Day

We managed to mooch away the morning and had breakfast at our local cafe. It was the only St Kilda Road cafe open and it was doing a roaring business, especially those who left the Anzac Day march before it had finished.

I half intended to have a free breakfast at the Gunfire breakfast provided by the army. Maybe next year.

Last year we did the dawn service thing.

So by noon, we were hoping things were starting to get back to normal. Some trams were indicating that they were travelling through the city, rather than terminating at the Art Centre. Not that it mattered much as I had a plan and we only needed to go to Southbank. But the parade went well overtime and things were far from normal.

I wanted a cruise on the Yarra River. I have never done this before. It was a beautiful sunny windless day. Just perfect. Should we sail up river past the Botanic Gardens to Herring Island or down river to the docks. I thought the docks might be more interesting and when we checked at the kiosk, the boat was due to leave in ten minutes.

It didn't matter too much which way, so we were not alarmed when the boat headed up river under Prince's Bridge. But it was only to pick on the other side of the river where the vaults have just been opened as restaurants.

The boat was large and not crowded and the kids present were well behaved. It was interesting to get a different perspective of the City and Southbank. There wasn't a lot to see at the docks, but it was good to at least see docks that you had only ever heard the name of. Appleton Dock, Victoria Dock, Swanston Dock, North Wharf and South Wharf. Polly Woodside looks just the same but the sheds to the west have been opened up as cafes I think.

Noted the location of the port control tower where the webcam is.

There was large grassed area to the west of the last apartment block (the golden one that is brown) that I did not know was there. Another apartment building, maybe called Flinders Wharf, behind police headquarters in Flinders Street looked very impressive and not overly tall. It must be nice to look out and see the river just a few metres away.

How many bridges are there over the Yarra? A lot. If you are over 190cm tall, take great care when outside at the stern of the boat. At one particularly low one, in spite of my bravado not to duck, I lost my cool and ducked. I am sure my noggin would have just cleared it but.....

We concluded with a drink and wedges in the sun at Transport Bar and watched the temporay ferris wheel and also the rapidly getting intoxicated young soldiers.

The tour is one hour, cost $20 and is run by Melbourne River Cruises. It seems well organised. (pls send cheque for ad)

So keep it in the back of your mind but don't plan it advance as you will be at the mercy of the weather. Just wait for a really nice day and do it.

We enjoyed it so much, we plan to do the Southbank to Williamstown trip in the future.

Help me please conductor

The request was often heard on Melbourne's trams. It is not now. There isn't a conductor to help. Mostly passengers assist each other and as a last resort they may get some begrudging assistance from the driver.

Are conductors on Melbourne's trams a luxury that we can afford? They would reduce fare evasion to a negligble level. But they would probably cost more than they saved in lost fares.

How many Cusotomer Service Officers and Revenue Protection Officers are there? Maybe close to one hundred? Well then there is already a decent number of staff.

When would they be most needed? At night time for security? Daytime to assist older passengers? Weekends to help tourists and casual travellers? Peak time to counter fare evasion? All the time perhaps? Is this really affordable?

I don't know, I really don't. But if there was a simple and easy to understand and use ticket system, there would be much less call for conductors.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Childhood train

When I was a teen and sometimes caught a train from Gippsland to Melbourne, it was probably hauled by a beast similar to this. Sometimes there would be compartment and sometimes just rows of seats. I am not sure why. It was an electric train. I was surprised to learn not long ago that the line is now diesel electric. Something to do with the cost of buying new electric trains just for this line, as it was unusual for a country line to be electric.

On cold days there would be lead foot warmers. The more the train rocked and rolled, the more the chemicals mixed and the hotter they became. I can also remember light fittings with two globes in them, I suppose in case one went out, there would still be one burning. There was the dirty rusty communication cord, a chain. I wondered if pulling it would have the result like seen in the movies, a screeching of metal on metal as the wheels locked. It was well after dollars and cents started but the threat for misuse of the cord was £5 I think.

Doesn't the train look very powerful? A real hardworker.

Anzac Day

Today I remember those who died serving our country. Today I celebrate that the present generation of young people are too smart and too worldly and too cynical to be sent off to fight silly wars in foreign lands for vested commercial interests.

Sex is good for your health

In the time since I have been skim reading The Age online, I have never seen a story stay on the 'most read articles' list for three days. Here is little bit of a story that has been on the list for the last three days. It was also in the Sydney Morning Herald, but only lasted one day there. Conclude from that what you will.

So get busy f***ing, safely of course.

We know sex is good for us. Now scientists say it can also protect against disease, writes Lucy Atkins.

IT DOES not take a degree in medicine to work out that sex is good for you. Anything that is free, feels fabulous and leaves you glowing is plainly a good idea.

But scientists are now beginning to understand that the perceived feel-good effects of sexual intercourse are merely the tip of the iceberg. Sex, they are discovering, can offer protection from depression, colds, heart disease and even cancer.

40 kph

On the way to and from work, I travel through a school zone. Between 2.30 and 4.00 school days, the limit is 40kph. The times are stupid. You would only see school waggers on the street at 2.30. You might see quite a few of them out and about at 4.05 and later.

The road I am talking about is Dandenong Road, St Kilda East. There is a full traffic light pedestrian crossing along with an overhead walking bridge. Yes, that is where the schools are. In the fifteen odd years that I have been regularly driving along here, I have never seen a school kid run across the road.

But there is another school nearby, on a side road, Chapel Street. At this very busy intersection, children cross the major Dandenong Road, with and often without the lights, mostly on their way to Windsor Station. There isn't a crossing supervisor, yet the speed limit is 70kph.

Aside from the school kiddies, there are many trash and wasters society's less fortunate who cross at this point and I think there is a good argument for slowing all traffic at this point permanently. Motorists naturally slow anyway.

I do approve of slowing traffic in busy areas or where there are schools, but the reduction of speed to 40 kph at schools and in busy shopping areas has been so badly done and illogical, I don't have any respect for the departments that implemented the system.

And no, I haven't been booked for speeding in a school zone. I have never been booked for anything.

Monday, April 24, 2006

H Bomb or a Fish?

I had seen these puzzling little fish or bomb like things discarded in the street. I never bothered to pick one up and examine it, but I did wonder what it was.

I was in a hurry the other day and did not have time for some proper food, so I grabbed a dim sim in Myer. I went to end of the counter where the soy sauce normally sits, but there was none. I asked for it at the counter and was given some of these bomb/fish like things. Ah, so that what do they contain? R said he thought they contained wasabi, but no. These definetely contained soy, although not as good as that which comes out of a bottle. I think they are kinda cute.

The smallest things amuse the smallest minds.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Online Pics

I got myself into a terrible mess with online picture storage. I have finally sorted it all out and I know what is stored where and why and I have worked out the log in and url of each one.

I have two Flickr accounts, one for blog photo storage and the other to share personal photos with friends and family. Yes, I know you can use one for both.

I have two Webshot sites to store architectural photos and another to share 'interesting' personal photos with someone overseas. Actually it is more so that I can see his photos.

Lastly, three photobucket sites. One is for the celeb pics you see on my blog. Another to link to another site with a single photo url and the other is empty at the moment but has been used in the past.

The next task will be to reduce these to at least half, if not less. It will involve some cursing as I battle against the user unfriendliness of some of these storage sites.

Box gone away

I tackled the set top box this morning with a fresh mind. I took only a few minutes to plug it all together. I had some success with watching through r/f cabling, but very little through the a/v cables. It seemed to improve the picture and the sound when directly connected to the tv, but put through the vcr, no.

If it is not going to work well through the vcr, there is no real advantage to it. Also another remote to worry about, more to do than simply turning the tv on. Too hard for too little gain. We had carefully unpacked it and not even opened the battery packaging. So back it went to Dick Smiths who happily refunded the money, a not unual thing for set top boxes I expect.

Thanks for the tips too Bobby. PS Your new look blog looks great.

Set top box (Note)

It was an impromptu purchase although we have looked at them in the past. Today from Prick Smith's, we bought a digital set top box. The thought was to improve our ABC tv reception and be ready for the brave new digital world. They are very common in the UK, one overseas rel told us. The digi box they call them. After getting home and trying to set it up, I renamed it the bastard box.

I looked at the instructions. I expected one wire into it, one wire out. No. To be able to use the vcr as well, something like eight wires go in and out of the box. We took the opportunity to rearrange the dvd player and vcr. It was a frightful mess. Eventually completed but of course it would not work. Double check connections. Nothing. I am now up to three hours. I hopped the tram back to Dick Smith. I intended replacing an r/f cable that I had made up myself previously, just in case. Not cheap. I asked the most techno looking staff dude I could find in the store. He looked at the wiring diagram and shook his head. Just plug the rca cables from the set top to the tv and the aerial into the box. Ok, I thought. I will at least get it to work and try from there.

Back home I pulled out cables left right and centre and wired it as simply as I could. Tv on, AV2 selected. Still nothing. Four hours have passed. Along with it not working, I have mucked up the tv and video tuning. Feeling a bit panicky now. I don't know anyone who lives nearby who is a bit smarter at these things. I may have to concede defeat and pay for a technician to visit. Oh, the humiliation. To tape tv this evening, I am going to have to put the tv and video back together now. It is getting late and we are going out. I did that and retuned the tv and vcr to almost near normal. I hadn't tuned the tv or vcr since we bought it, so I had to relearn both of them.

Ok, I still have time for another go with set top box. Still nothing. Then just pushing buttons here and there, suddenly I saw the language menu. We are away. Go through the set up procedures. It finds all available digital tv signals and radio signals. Not many of them really.

So are you curious as to what was wrong? I was trying to operate it in standby mode. There is a red light showing in standby mode, yes just like all the other electronic stuff, duh. But until set up is complete, when it is on, there are no lights at all showing to indicate that is working. Nothing.

Today I will spend another hour resetting it up properly. In spite of not having long to play with it, the picture is excellent and the sound is amazing. Worth having just for the improved sound.

Help, send money

The 'orse lost. I am poorer than ever. Gin Speil in race five did not even get a place. The name should have given it away. Alchohol and talk. Should have told the Governer General and he could have cheered him on a bit. (See comment in last post)