Friday, May 05, 2006

Japan blossoms

We have a dear, dear friend who is in Japan teaching Japanese how to speak English. She is in the north of Japan and it is hot and opressive in the summer and it snows in winter.

Last year I remember that our commercial tv news service covered the opening of the cherry blossoms in Japan, specifically Tokyo I think. This year our media have all bolted to somewhere called Beaconsfield.

In the north of Japan, perhaps a bit colder than Tokyo, the blossoms open later, and this is the week. What a magical experience. Can you believe on Monday it looked like the first picture and then the following day it looked like the next picture. I will guess it will peak on Saturday or Sunday and by the following Saturday, it will be all over and the web cam will be switched off.

The pics are in daily order, Monday through to today, Friday. Hirosake Castle dominates the scene. Click on the individual pics to see a more detailed version.

Hot celeb for the week

This week's is Alex Dimitriadis. There is a subfolder if you want to see his bare skin pics. Some are quite expicit, from the movie Head On. The book upon which is was based was called Loaded, a fantastic book written by Chris Tsolkas. I wrote him a brief note after reading Loaded and he was courteous enough to reply. Can't remember what it was about now.


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Travel 1915 v 2006

I suppose it would be similar for Melbourne. Don't quote me for the exact years or speed but in Sydney back in the days of old, say 1915, the average speed of travel was 14 kph. Very few cars then. So it would be trams, horses, bicycles, walking and ferries.

We've come a long way baby. But not with travel speed. In Sydney, it is currently the same, 14 kph.

Wednesday's terrible traffic problems in Melbourne really make me wonder. When I drove to work along Queen's Rd and Dandenong Road, the traffic in the other direction was stationary for the whole distance to Wattletree Road. There must have been a couple of hundred trucks in the mix. If you are not in Melbourne, this is a distance of around say six or seven kilometres and varies from two lanes in Queens Road to five lanes in Dandenong Road.

What if there was never a motorway built between Dandenong and the City? Obviously the traffic woul.d not have been like it was on Wednesday. How would people and goods be transported from the east to and through the city? Is five lanes in both directions, albeit with traffic lights not enough? Would it have killed the development of the outer east of Melbourne? Would it have killed the resurgence of inner Melbourne?

What about the Tulla Freeway and West Gate Bridge? What if they were never built? What if the Geelong and Ballarat freeways were never built? What if the only way to Bendigo was along Sydney Road?

While it is hard to imagine life without these major roads and freeways, they weren't always there. How much would the lack of them restricted the growth of Melbourne into a city of international standards?

City Link was promised as a solution to traffic congestion and one would not mind paying the high price it charges if it was. But it has clearly failed. Having travelled to Frankston a few times lately, sometimes via City Link and freeway, sometimes via Nepean Highway and Frankston Freeway and once clinging to the seaside road, time wise, it is not terribly different. The coastal road was the most pleasant. Ah, but wait until the Ringwood to Frankston tollway opens. It will be a really quick trip then. City Link, Monash Freeway, East Link. Not so sure.

Let me guess a radio traffic bulletin in 2012. East Link is congested at Monash Freeway and again at Princes Highway. Traffic is a bit slow where the Nepean Highway meets, Vic Roads is showing total travel time, Ringwood to Frankston, sixty five minutes. West Gate Bridge Top is stationary, West Gate Bridge Lower, heavy and reduced to sixty kph. Tulla is very congested where the Calder meets and Western Ring Road is stationary.

I don't know what, but there has got to be a better way and I am sure it involves metal tracks, buses, skinny rubber wheels, mopeds and foot power AND if your children have legs, they can walk you know.

I am mail man

Two friends are overseas, London, at the moment, then they will be on to France, Italy and Croatia. I promised that I would pass news from them onto Dame M. Last night I received a lengthy email from them, so instead of phoning Dame M and reading the contents, I printed it out to hand deliver. Dame M has a computer and used to have an email address. I wonder what happened? Must ask her.

Now there is a small window in Dame M's life between when she regains conciousness in the morning and the hangover lifts and when she checks the time around the world and decides it is six o'clock somewhere, so it must be time for a drink. The middle of said window would probably be about 12.30 pm. It was too early to call in at eleven.

I trammed to St Kilda Junction. Rather than my usual dash across the busy road illegally, I decided I would use the subway. So much crime on tv seems to happen in pedestrain subways, I don't like them at all. The St Kilda Junction ones are very bright with lots of muriels and reasonable lighting. The one I needed was to get to the eastern side of St Kilda Road and then walk up St Kilda hill to Dame M's. It was like being in a wind tunnel. I could almost feel the flesh of my face being pushed back. The wind was carrying a copious number of leaves, smacking me in the face. Most unpleasant.

I delivered the printed email to Dame M's letter box and noted work had started on the house next door. It had been a beautiful house but is in poor condition now. It is a large block of land and the rear is to be demolished for apartments. Should be a reasonable return on the 1.2 paid for it. The sale price certainly has Dame M thinking about her situation.

I continued along Charnwood Road and by golly, there are some mighty fine houses along there. Most have been restored and are absolutely stunning. I had never noticed from the car how grand they are. Sadly they are interspersed with that Melbourne abomination, the sixties brick flats. At the end is one block where my friend in Sydney brother lived and next door is another that we looked at to buy an investment flat before we bought in Hotham Street. There are also some very nice new small scale apartment developments. Not a bad area to live at all. Must return with the camera.

I picked up a movie guide from the Astor. Not that we ever go, but I always imagine that we will. I walked up Chapel Street as the smack heads came in the other direction, eyes fixed and staring, parachute fabric tracks suits billowing in the breeze. Noticed a useful shop has closed and another trendy caf is opening in it's place. Windsor ain't what it used to be.

A tram arrived, a very old tram that should have been pensioned off years ago. It rattled, grinded, growled and squealed it way in the usual stop start traffic and I alighted at the supermarket for some shopping.

While I usually like old stuffs, I am not keen on our old trams for general public transport.

Heavily laden with shopping, I hoped for a bus to come to drop me at the front door, but alas, no bus in view but a tram arrived. I should know better. By the time I reached the Alfred on the tram, a bus roared past the tram. Stagger off tram with shopping and walk much further that I would have had to if I waited for the bus.

Afternoon into the city to meet ex building manager's wife for coffee. She is now a relief building manager for a couple of different companies. Nice chat and exchange of gossip.

At five to four, I was waiting at the corner of Latrobe and King Street for a tram and I noticed five tow trucks lined up. Anticipation of a mega accident? Don't think so. I think they were ready to tow away cars in King Street as the clearway starts at four. I almost wanted to miss the tram that arrived at 3.59 and watch them go off in convoy but you can't afford to miss a tram in Latrobe Street, as there aren't too many of them. An old mate John was on the tram. Said a brief hello and got off at Swanston Street to go on to QV for a special purchase.

What they have been searching for

People type into search engines some very odd things. Suppose I have too.

Who has been steered to my blog in their search along the information superhighway? Well, my last blog stats rant that mentioned labia many times seemed to have an effect. Sorry, I have forgotten who, but someone told me it came up third, or was that on on the third page in google? Torn labia seems to be what most are concerned about. I don't understand such stuff. So I don't how bad is a torn labia. Eyes bigger than belly were they hun? See, they can be too big after all.

The usual, Sally Anne Huckstep, West Highland White Terriors and Anthony Callea gay. Who was he now?

Someone was looking for the lyrics for There is Hole in the Bucket Dear Liza. It was only as I remembered it. Not accurate.

I think I had a go at Smart Groups. Yep, that search is clear.

I have said something about circumsicion, so yes, it valid that I come up in a search for 'low, high, tight circumsicion'. Must be a Moslem. When they chop, they chop way back. Tight as Joan River's face.

Bangalore to Ooty. Lucky you. Not a free ticket going?

I don't think Andy has a labia, but it is quite possible and yes, Hecho En Mexico is a kewl guy and quite rootable.

I don't know who wrote 99 luft balloons, but feel free to shoot him/her.

Muse Bar IS way kewl. Go and see for yourself.

'Window cleaning'. Thanks for the reminder to send an email as to why our windows have not been cleaned.

'Guys nipples'. Hey you are right on track for me. I just love men nipples. Revealing tees rule.

'Royal Jomtien Fire' It was terrible. I did write about it and I will probably write about it again.

'Onionmania' I guess that is something to with the Onion site. Never read it, sorry.

While I did have issues with the Anzac Bridge in Sydney in January, I did not have an accident there.

Judy Nunn is a good actor, if that is what you wanted to know.

I forget Molly Meldrum's boyfriend's name. Short name. He is Asian if that helps.

It was a duck, not a goose used in the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games.

I haven't drunk Fijian rum, but I can well imagine.

Send me a private email if you want ex MTV host Simon Rex's porn video stills.

I don't know where the movie theatre is on the Sapphire Princess. Isn't there something better to do when sailing the seas? A mast to Marveer perhaps?

Puckle Street, Moonee Ponds does have an interesting history, but I know little of it.

One interesting one was 428 St Kilda Road. I think I posted pics of it some time ago. The buildings have been demolished, but I am reminded that I had a nice comment from someone in Austria who used to live in one of the flats at 428.

This month's prize goes for grossness goes to you who searched for 'I can see clearish string in my eyes'. I sincerely hope your eyes are better now.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Blogging to communicate

I was fascinated by a tale ABC radio broadcaster John Faine told last week. He has a mid teenage son who had a year in France as an exchange student. I think this is a fantastic idea. I wish I could have been sent off to a foreign country when when I was a kid. But I can guess that there often a lot of homesickness too.

It is a reciprocal program it would seem, so now Faine is hosting a French student in his household. He asked the boy if he had recently emailed his parents and the boy said no. He blogs what he has been doing and his parents read it.

I think if I were a parent, I might like something a little more personal, but still. A teenage boy blogging would be pretty honest I imagine and not have his blog as an artistic public performance.

I have a friend in Japan (more of her in a day or so) and she reads my blog sometimes at least I think. I email her occasionally, but there is a lot that I would tell her in an email that I don't because she reads my blog. There was our Anzac Day river cruise. I did not tell her about it in detail, because it was there to read in my blog.

Having said that though, had I sent her an email telling her about it, I expect it would have been a bit different, perhaps a more personal focus.

I am not the one to judge the quality of my blog posts. If I was, I would probably stop. While I know sometimes I will blog three times in one day and that is excessive, I just do it when I am in the mood and things are in my mind. There are a few occasions where I feel I should blog and something does not click and I can't. Obviously tonight is not one of those times. It really boils down to I just like banging away at the keyboard I think.

Some blogs that I read are terribly clever people and write great posts and I appreciate them. But I really like personal blogs, the ones that mention about their lives. Perhaps I should watch more soapies on tv. Disregarding who I have linked on my page, I really like bloggers who post daily, or at least very regularly.

I am not such a misogynist to not read a blog by a woman. But apart from a lass in London who has an unhealthy interest in the Tube, I don't read any female blogs. I only skim read hers anyway.

I have tried to read girl blogs and I still do. They just seem to go off beam. I recall that there was someone called Rae who I enjoyed reading, but her blog and work conflicted and she pulled the plug, so to speak.

I am getting some clarity of thought here. I like reading blogs that are personal, but not a young chick's blog that just bangs on about boys she has met and about them. I like bloggers who are also aware of the wider world.

Of course blogging is a me me me thing, but it is not a personal diary. It is a public diary, so write in a way that may interest a wide audience.

I am nearly old. Most of my aquaintances lives do not revolve around the net. That is not a bad thing. But the people I connect with via the net are usually younger. Sometimes I sit back feeling old, wise and sanctimonious, but that is fairly rare. Most of the time, I feel their pain and I am impressed by their cleverness, their writing skills and thought processes.

This was going to be just a post about John Faine's exchange studet communicating with his parents, but I guess it has blown out.

I would really like to link a female blogger on my list of blogs I read. One that posts regurlarly, is not too self focused and is aware of the wider world but it should also be a bit personal. Feel free to steer me, publicly or privately or tell me to not be so lazy and find one myself.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

2030, developers, councils and government

Back when our present Victorian state government was first elected, I had high hopes for planning in our wonderful city. That rogue Kennett and and all his developer mates had behaved appallingly with planning. It was very clear that they were on the side of developers and paid scant attention to what local people wanted in their area.

Our new government had a plan called 2030. I have never read it, but the essence of it seems to be to consolidate population growth in areas that are well serviced by public and private facilities and not to just keep sprawling the growth out into the country side.

Two matters have stimulated this post. One was a post by Urban Creature, and the other when driving through Camberwell Junction last Sunday. Urban Creature says that the State Tory opposition are releasing a new plan. I won't expect much from them. Camberwell Junction was an area specified under 2030 as a growth area. There was a plan to build over Camberwell Station and build a considerable number of apartments there, along with of course more retail. Now I don't like Camberwell Junction and generally I don't like the sort of people who live around there, but it is an area that is very well serviced with shops, department stores, government departments and a movie theatre, and it has some of the worst shopping centre traffic congestion in Melbourne, in spite of having quite good public transport. It was congested at 9.30 on Sunday morning for goodness sake. Is this really a place to increase the population?

Residents elect councils and the councils write planning rules for their municipalities. The residents have some power through their council and many councils have been booted out by residents who were against their pro developers stance.

A developer lodges a plan that breaches the rules and when the council rejects the plan the developer then takes the matter to VCAT where it may or may not get approval. It can breach the rules and still get approval. This is just plainly wrong although I expect sometimes the councils are pleased. They have acted for the residents as they are obliged, but really think the development is a good thing for their area.

Developers are constantly pushing the boundaries and always argue that a development needs to be of a certain size to be profitable. Well, I ask them, who has driven these prices?

As for containing the suburban sprawl, in the last few months I have driven towards Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Pakenham, Ferntree Gully and Frankston and I don't see any suburban sprawl being contained. It just grows and grows. No wonder big business, including developers, is always arguing for a higher immigration level.

People have had enough and Save Our Suburbs has become active again along with other groups.

Is it wrong that the people who live in a suburb decide what is built there through their elected council? There could be an argument for a very few exceptions, but no breaching of the basic council set rules. The existing must be respected.

Silly mother

At nephew's going away dinner, my seventy two year old mother had an audience. Old and young, and she had them in the palm of her hand with her tales of her own silliness.

She had a close friend who died some years ago at the early age of forty nine. When they were together, you could expect some outrageous behaviour from them. They used to egg each other on.

My sister reminded us of when they, Mum and my brother and sister and her friend and her three children went to the movies during school holidays. It is too long to tell fully, but the end result was my mother rolling down the movie theatre aisle clutching seven salad rolls and seven drinks just as the movie started. Movie theatres are her forte. Yes, another time she dropped the jaffas on a hard surfaced movie theatre floor and they rolled very well down the stairs.

Forgetting her age and general state of health, just two years ago she decided that she did not want to walk along the gently sloping paths at a park and that she should just walk down the steep grassed hill. She picked up some momentum and could not stop. At the bottom she realised that the hill dropped away sharply and had no alternative but to crash into a tree to stop herself. I have some vague recollection of her doing the same when I was kid, but it was sand dunes that time.

There was the time she fell into a prickly bush, also at the beach.

For Christmas one year, her daughter in law gave her a pair of ornamental swans. As she extracted them from the box, she snapped one at the neck. It wouldn't have so bad had she not laughed so much.

I am not sure if that was the same year that she accidently burnt a pair of light pyjamas that were a gift for someone in the incinerator, along with all the christmas wrapping paper.

She very carefully checks envelopes now when she gets a card, lest it contain money again, like the time she burnt an envelope after have taken out the card. The envelope still had twenty dollars in it.

When learning to drive, not that she ever did thankfully, she pulled the handbrake on so hard, she snapped the handle off it. Her expression as she held up the handle was priceless. (under the dash T bar handle)

Just recently at a rich relatives place, she was admiring the 'hand painted Royal Doulton with periwinkles' and turned the tea cup upside down to check it's origins. Pity that the milk was already in it.

Her latest was at my expense when she tried to blow out sparklers on her birthday cake and blew sparks all over the Brighton Antique dealers smart clothing. I haven't mentioned it to Brighton Antique Dealer, and nor has she to me.

Mother's are meant to embarrass their children, hey.

Monday, May 01, 2006

The nephew grows up

The nephew is now 19 I think. He sports some god awful looking dreads. Some dreads I like, but his are…. well not to my taste. He is a good kid/bloke. He is caring, thoughtful and very much like his mother, my sister in law. But he is not a sissy boy. He plays Aussie Rules, cricket and basketball and has lots of mates and has had a couple of girlfriends. No doubt he has done ‘the biz’ with some girl.

His mother is naturally very nice and outgoing and clever enough. His father drinks too much but he is extremely clever in a practical and technical way. But without being too harsh, nephew is not the brightest spark in the fire. He had hopes of being some sort of adventure/orienteering tourist guide but for various reasons, it did not happen.

Last night we attended a dinner to say goodbye to him as next week he leaves to go to Cairns to try his luck there. He has some mates there and should be ok for a while.

I remember so many things clearly in the past, but the nephew as he changed from a baby to an adult and all that was in between seems hazy. R has never mentioned to him that he used to change his nappy. Shall we leave that for the eventual wedding speeches or his twenty first?

Uncle thought it would be ok for R to give him a bit of cash to see him on his way. R gave him a bit more than Uncle thought appropriate.

He could well be back in a couple of months anyway, but I hope he makes a go of it. It could well be his niche.