Friday, August 31, 2007

Poverty Reigns

Armed with the confidence of being able to mention the Brighton Antique Dealer's name at Joels fine art and furniture auction house where she is well known, I carted our Peter Browne original painting, our Guy Boyd ashtray and an antique Chinese jar with a lid (pictured) to said premises for valuation.

BAD had told me who to ask for. I ended up not seeing any of them for one reason or t'other. The staff were not intimidating or snooty. Perfectly friendly and helpful, even with an el cheapo customer such as moi. I can recommend Joels.

The Peter Browne painting turned out to be worth less than the $2000 plus we thought it might fetch. More like $500. The Guy Boyd ash tray might fetch $100. I previously established it would cost about that to repair the crack and chip properly. The Chinese jar turns out to be Japanese, mass produced around 1900 and there are many of them around. It is chipped too and and not worth them writing a receipt for, put ever so nicely. We bought it for $50 in the late eighties. We were ripped orf.

The table it sits on is a very ornate carved nest of tables made of rosewood. They are actually worth a bit, one of few remains of our antique period. The ducks were a gift from a friend who brought them back from Bali. He died from HIV quite a few years ago.

Still, I not that unhappy that while we thought we may have a fortune sitting around, dreams have turned to dust. I kinda like all the bits of tat anyway and we will keep them. Let the heirs bother themselves about them.


Sorry bout that. Hope I didn't spay you with my flu germs. Horses are spraying each other with their germs left right and centre all over Australia. They give each other the flu, influenza, just like you, you a**hole, gave it me earlier this year, and probably like many of you have suffered recently this winter. Part of life, unpleasant, but what can we do?

For goodness sake, this quarantining here in Australia is not doing any good in preventing the spread of the disease. Let it go. Let the flu run free among horses, like it has with us humans. It is too late already. We humans weren't quarantined. We had to take our chances and just get on with it. Good for the for the gander, good for the horse.

Australia has strict quarantine controls, probably the most strict in the world, so how did this horse disease arrive here? Are shortcuts happening to appease horsey types or big money?

What if it gets into the population of wild horses? I might stick around for ever.

An elephant stamp for the building

One hates to brag, but I will anyway. I do like our building to be described as plush. It has also been described as 'exclusive'. Hardly, as they wouldn't let the likes of me in if it was. From The Age (tv/radio) Green Guide.

Andy Lee, who hosts Fox's top-rating drive show with Hamish Blake, reckons he moved into the plush apartment block last year hoping some of Hinch's broadcasting success would rub off.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

You pay, why should I? PT rant 3

All Australian capitol cities are expanding and the new areas are very car dependant as they don't have any decent public transport. By this, I mean a shortish walk to a bus that can deliver them to a decent and fast rail system.

Well, if you want a McMansion in Upper Combuctor West, then suffer. I have trams and buses sailing past my door all the time and it is not too far to walk to the train station. But I pay dearly to live where I live. The expenses are high and our abode is probably a third of the size of your McMansion.

I think while you should pay for some of your public transport through your taxes, and don't forget I am paying them too, it should primarily come via your developer who should be forced to supply everything in a housing estate. Costs you more, costs the developer some profit, costs the local council, ok, that is you again, and it will cost me via my taxes. I am happy to pay my bit if you are.

Queens Road footbridge, Park Street tram, PT rant number two

I am about to do it again, as I do annually. That is email my local councillor Peter Logan and ask him what progress there is on the footbridge across Queens Road to give residents along St Kilda Road better access to Albert Park. It must be four of five years since I first heard of this proposal and at some point, I am sure it was given the go ahead.

Just as background, Queens Road is a big big and busy road. On one side are many residents and office workers and on the other is a very nice park. For around two kilometre there is no pedestrian access for for residents and office workers to the park due to Queens Road and a golf course.

It amazes me that a temporary footbridge can erected each year for the mother fetching Grand Prix, and yet not a permanent one built.

I suppose it is four years since I first heard of a proposal to connect up two tram lines with half a kilometre of track to provide a direct service for thousands of people like us to and from South Melbourne. All is quiet now. I think my shopping jeep wheels will have rotted away before I ever see it.

Dangerous town. Better to sardine with Connex Part 1 of a 3 part series on a public transport rant

I came across a car accident Monday, another Tuesday, yes Wednesday too, four cars involved. Today was extra good, I came across one accident and witnessed another. This is one dangerous city I live in. Note, it is a full moon. You are better to catch public transport, if feasible.

But our peak trains are becoming increasingly crowded, to the point where people are being left behind. Our trams are becoming increasingly crowded at various times during the day, at various points. Where not to catch a tram: Melbourne University to the City around 4.00pm. St Kilda Road to the City around 5.30pm. Federation Square to St Kilda Road around 8.00am. Anywhere near a posh private school at school start/finish times.

There may well be a mega plan to relieve trams of overcrowding, that may possibly be built in five years, by way of a new underground railway. Everyone is talking, no one is doing. I am still waiting for half a kilometre of tram track in Park St, South Melbourne to be built so that we have ready public transport access to South Melbourne.

But you have to hand it to our train operator Connex. They have acted quickly in response too overcrowding. More trains? More frequent services? Faster services? No, not any of those. We have some wanker out here from the US telling us how to be polite and considerate on trains when they are so packed that no more can fit on, and so far as I can see, Connex has sponsored his visit and of course he has visited for self serving purposes, that is to sell his book, "There is no 'I' in Carriage". Wrong, it is all about me and my comfort and travel experience.

So, overcrowding problems on Melbourne's trains are all the fault of the commuters who can't be polite to each other.

Of course I know full well that the fault really lies with our State and Federal governments. The present State government got off to a bad start with the public transport system in a mess, but I cannot say that they have made much of an improvement.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Dame M Unwell

It was the Brighton Antique Dealer's birthday earlier this week. Dame M arranged for us to go to the Balaclava Hotel to celebrate. Our ex NT pollie/policeman friend is o/s, so out of courtesy we asked his Fijian Indian boyfriend and his boyfriend. From an email from the overseas ex NT pollie/policeman, we heard that he we probably come.

We met the brother friends as soon as we arrived at the hotel. Shortly after BAD and her toyboy arrived. BAD said that a few other people she had asked might turn up.

They didn't, nor did the Fijian Indian boyfriend and his boyfriend, then Dame M's boarder rang to say that Dame M was unwell and they would not be coming.

Six of us on a table for twelve plus looked a bit lonely. Still, we had fun and a good laugh. The fish was shocking and should have been sent back. The roast lamb was ok.

Everyone felt a bit annoyed at Dame M. The only reason we go to the Balaclava Hotel is because she likes it. If it was a one off, ok, but she has done it quite a few times now. I know why. Her mind gets fuddled because she has been drinking. She needs a clear head and a long time to make sure she has everything she needs to go out. She cannot see properly anymore at all. She has macular degeneration and it is becoming worse. She is losing confidence in her ability to function when she goes out, especially at night.

I emailed our dyke friend, she and her girlfriend had another engagement that night, and she ever so sensibly suggested in future, we go to eat where we like, but first meet up at Dame M's for a drink first.

While there a serious danger of us not leaving Dame M's and going for dinner and end up ordering take away Chinese or a pizza, it is quite a good idea really. Well or not, Dame M is good company and a great conversationalist.

I still feel a little annoyed, but I know I must adjust my mind set to Dame M's circumstances. At nigh on 83, she ain't a youngun.

Defective Car

My car is defective. Possibly in many ways but there is one that annoys me. My car clock is slow. Just one minute, but my job is very minute focused, so I need to be minute focused. It may very well graduate to being two minutes slow in time, so it needs correction.

I am sure that it was absolutely correct at daylight saving end time, but it has lost a minute.

The push buttons are clearly labelled. But I cannot see them in the dark, which oddly is the only time I notice that the clock is wrong.

My working life revolves around time to the minute. My car clock should be correct.

I noticed it was wrong about two months ago. Here is why is still wrong.

I need glasses on to see the buttons and what they do. I don't need glasses for driving.

The buttons are tiny. Even with glasses on, you cannot do it at night.

I have a clumsy thumb. While kiddies are over developing their thumbs with all their texting, I only text with fingers. I cannot adjust the clock with my thumb. I need to see it clearly and press the correct button with my finger. The buttons are seriously small and next to the time adjustment button is the reset button. I have learned reset is the wrong button to push.

It is winter, dark in the morning, dark in the evening, which are the times when I drive.

(I wrote this nonsense five days ago, and you can blame Daisy Jo as I thought I had an inspiration from her post, but instead I wrote a load of tripe. Although it was mega dark a week ago, it now feels like summer and very light. I am going to work in the light and returning home in the light. I can adjust the clock easily now, except I haven't. I need to check that my phone clock is dead accurate first, and then adjust the clock to that. I am not in a mood for posting anything decent, so this is what you get)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A local walk

If I am home when R returns from work we usually go out for a forty minute stride. He has his own route, but when I am present, we usually go in a direction that I like. I like the streets of South Yarra. Just one street away from the busy St Kilda Road where we live, it is peaceful and quiet in the streets of South Yarra. South Yarra is a very nice place to live, if you can afford it.

I absolutely love Magnolia trees. Every place where we have lived, I planted one. Now, I must walk and appreciate others. The pink one is at a house next to the synagogue. It Magnolia Solangeana, variety, the most popular.

I took a pic of some nice azaleas showing through a fence along the way, Azalea Indica I believe.

I recall that there used to be two knockout white Magnolias along with a stunning pink one in Park Street. The pink one seems to have gone and there is now only one white one. Here is Magnolia Alba.

Click on the pictures for a better view.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Dollar Dan

I heard the lyrics to the song that was played on tv to advertise the conversion in Australia from pounds, shillings and pence to decimal currency. I am not sure if I can recall the ad when it was shown or I have seen it since in archive footage. It was sung to the tune of Click Go the Shears. Clearly using a cartoon character would be risky if he was called Dollar Bill. The anti Americans would have been out in force. So we called our little chap Dollar Dan.

In come the dollars and in come the cents
to replace the pounds and the shillings and the pence.
Be prepared folks when the coins begin to mix
on the 14th of February 1966.

Clink go the cents folks
clink, clink, clink. Changeover day is closer than you think.
Learn the value of the coins and the way that they appear
and things will be much smoother when the decimal point is here.

In come the dollars and in come the cents
to replace the pounds and the shillings and the pence.
Be prepared folks when the coins begin to mix
on the 14th of February 1966.

Very catchy little tune it was, ah well Click go the Shears is catchy.

And mix they did. I lived in the country then and I was not quite born, but I vividly recall the excitement of seeing a shiny new five cent piece from the local shop. I was not too concerned that six pence only got me five cents. A round fifty cent piece was an absolute fortune, but I think they came a bit later. Any shop keeper who gave me old money in my change received a little boy look of disappointment.

At some point I learned how to add pounds shillings and pence, but it was long after they had disappeared. It certainly was not easy. Ten is not your base number but twelve is. Four pound, eleven shillings and sixpence. Maybe $8 dollars, plus $1, plus five cents. Screw the pennies that were the size of a side plate and never mind the guineas that I seem to recall as being 21 shillings, one shilling more than a pound. No one I knew called them shillings though, they were a bob, or ten bob which was half a pound. A hapeny, (I don't believe half penny were in use when decimal currency started), tupence, thripence, fivepence, a bob, two bob, a quid, a fiver, and tenner. I don't remember there being a nickname for twenty pound. It was such a large amount of money, it deserved some respect.

My grandparents were very concerned that about the devaluing of their fortune when decimal currency arrived. It is a shame that they weren't more concerned about inflation that actually ruined their wealth. They both died in the late 1970's. They never quite adjusted to decimal currency. They always had a feeling of being ripped off when something cost two dollars and it should only be one pound.

I suppose my grandparents learnt their financial lessons through their lives, which included two world wars and a very serious economical depression. I learnt one lesson from them. Money in the bank is not a good thing. Who knows when inflation will hit and your money will be devalued. I have successfully put this into practice through my life by never having any money in the bank, except for a couple of years when I was saving for my first house.

Actually, I wonder how I have arrived at my age without any money in the bank? Money just comes in and goes out. So long as it continues to come in, I guess I will survive.

They get you here, they get you there

I received an unsolicited email from Readers Digest. I used to receive postal mail from them many years ago. I never responded and the postal mail stopped.

The funny thing is that when I went online in 1996 I think, I also changed my name. I reversed my two first names. I am now Andrew and although some readers know my old first name, I really am as you know me, Andrew.

But this Readers Digest email just arrived with my old name on it. It makes it so easy to narrow down how Readers Digest obtained my name and are sending me unsolicited email.

I have an old yahoo email address that is in my old name. I doubt they can pick up my present isp email address from that, especially as my name does not show anyway.

I have used my credit card on the net, which is in my old name but I have not used it for a long time and only at very secure sites.

But if you might want to hook up with old school mates, you need to use your old name.

So I know that my Readers Digest spam email came from the, now reincarnated as friends reunited, now moved onto love matches and now moved on to allowing access or selling my redundant name onto Readers Digest.

Poor form.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Dame Mary

Dames should be a little or a lot imperious. I love this word imperious. Dame Edith Sitwell was known to be imperious. I reckon Lady Bracknell was imperious when she boomed out, 'a railway station'. Dame Joan Sutherland sounded more than imperious when she said that she could not quite adjust to being served by a black person in her local post office.

I came across my own imperious person last week when I was in the supermarket, a woman in her late sixties, very Toorak type, beautifully coiffed, beautifully tailored, beautifully spoken and buying bunch of cheap supermarket flowers. Here is what I heard.

Her: They will leak on the floor of my car.
Staff: They are in a plastic bag.
Her: Can you wrap some nice paper around them.
Staff: We don't have paper to wrap the flowers.
Her: 'Rolls eyes and moans'
Staff: You can buy some paper and I will wrap them up for you.
Her: Where is it?
Staff: Over there.
Her walks over to paper. Her returns to counter.
Her: It is not very nice paper. I will take them home.
Staff: Thank you.
Her: Are you going to give me a receipt?
Staff: I gave you the receipt Madam.
Her: Argghhh.
Her: I need another plastic bag. This one is not big enough.

How this nasty woman survived to her late sixties and ended up being a rich bitch, I cannot understand. Abuse of check out staff is a no no in my mind. They get lousy pay and have to put with crap from people like her, unless they are rude to me of course.

Dame Mary is not Dame M. I may well write a scathing post about Dame M tomorrow as I feeling a bit peeded orf with her. Dame M is somewhat inclined to be imperious at times.

But I am talking about the venerable Dame Mary Kostakidis. (I will spell check this once, henceforth referred to as Dame Mary K or Dame Mary.

I had a mind to blog rant about SBS when I heard that she went on extended sick leave, but then I saw some words in a letter to the newspaper, 'it is not about the person reading the news, it is about the news'. In an ideal world, perhaps that statement is correct. It did slow me down.

Dame Mary has read the SBS news for nigh on twenty years. She reads the news perfectly and none of our ABC tv Hendo serious face for child killers, nicer face for a lighter story. Dame Mary just reads the news, as it is. She does have rather nice legs too, not that I notice women's legs.

If R was ever away from home at 6.30 pm, I used to indulge myself in watching SBS news. He was away not so long ago, swanning around on a cruise liner in our warmer northern seas. Work, yeah right. I tuned into SBS news while he was away and along with Dame Mary was a guy who when he was on commercial tv here many years ago, we called Grand Stunt. His name is Stan Grant. He has no credibility in my mind as a reader of SBS news. Worse, the news was broken up with advertising. I have let my views know already I think to my blog readers about this. I certainly did to SBS.

Dame Mary has now gone on extended leave and hired a top shot Queens Counsellor . Perhaps she will sue SBS for breach of contract. To pull everything together, I think she is probably somewhat imperious. People can be imperious in good ways and bad. I think she is perhaps the former.

This is a terrible thing for SBS. Even their spin doctors cannot put it right. Dame Mary bolted over a matter of principle. When someone does something as a matter of principle, depending on the situation of course, you have to sit up and take notice.

And question how your taxes are being spent. Are they being spent well at SBS? From what I have seen, sometimes yes, but the base programs, perhaps not. SBS news is the core of the station. The rest is good or bad puffery. Without a respected news service, SBS is worthless of our money.

God help us if Lee Lin Chin is appointed as weekday news reader. I can only cope with her ever changing hair on weekends.

Imperious or not, I will follow Dame Mary's future, unless she ends up at channel 9/7/10. Then I will dis her in my mind, as I did with George Donikian.

I'll just pop this link in if you are not sure about who I am talking about.

Scissor Sisters Clips

I cannot decide which Scissor Sisters vid to feature here. You can take your pick. Kiss You Off, which I like the best, but the live performance of Take Your Mama is very bright and colourful. Of course I am indifferent to a prancing bare topped boi on stage. There seems to be a problem with my video downloader, so I will try this direct method.

Parky Scissor Sisters

Michael Parkinson shows can be good. They are sometimes boring. Tonight it was great. Guests George Michael, who I missed as I arrived home just as he finished, Stephen Fry, always a good interviewee and US comedian Joan Rivers. Special performing guest, The Scissor Sisters.

George Michael had nice legs or perhaps just nice tight shorts when he made Wake Me Up Before You Go Go, put apart from that, I don't find him very interesting. The scandals about him have made him more newsworthy, but ho hum, old Greek man. I do like his music though.

Stephen Fry is a hoot. I like clever witty people. He is and gay as well. Who would have thought. His guts is larger than mine, larger than R's. I feel better now.

Scissor Sisters. I knew nothing about them until I realised there were three guys and one woman. My ears pricked up. But I did not research. You have to leave yourself wanting.

I have given up trying to keep up with young peoples' music. (have I inserted my apostrophe in the correct place? One hates to insert things in the wrong place) I suppose Scissor Sisters are a bit old hat for young peoples who like spoken lyrics by black men but I adored them. I was thinking New Romantics. Their music was great. I might just legally illegally download the vid. And who said fat chicks can't have fun. The lead singer was not a Twiggy, but a healthy buxom lass in a great outfit, hair and makeup. She looked fantastic. Mega praises to the Scissor Sisters and I will do some research now.

I like clever humour. The Chaser is back on ABC tv soon. Spicks and Specks is always a laugh. Joan Rivers is a very base humorist. It was many years ago when she made a Maggie Thatcher joke and then the real Maggie Thatcher appeared before her and Joan went to water. I am sure it is documented on the web. You do the research. But my golly was she funny tonight on Parky. I laughed till tears came from my eyes.

It is a few years since she was in Melbourne to be a judge at Dulcie's Dog Show, and I was quite impressed with her that day. She is so old now, not that you would know because of surgery.

She reminds me a bit of Dame M in looks, but perhaps more of the Brighton Antique Dealer in her words. BAD has a filthy mouth. Dame M looks away.

BAD's birthday on Monday and we are catching up tomorrow night (Sunday) to not celebrate it. I don't have to work the next day so I am relying on R to not let me have too many glasses of the Balaclava Hotel's best vino de rouge. My self discipline is excellent when I have to work the next day. It is bad when I don't. Feel free to join us. We will be on a large table, old women and old poofs of the down to earth variety and maybe a dyke and a straight chick or two. Remember, we older folk peak early.