Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Our Brand New Car

While it may very well be our new car, R gets the use of it for work. It has a centre rear armrest, not seen in any of our cars since the Humber Super Snipe. I am old fashioned in that I believe new cars need to be run in, so I haven't floored it yet, but I can already tell Mazda 3 two litres is superior to older Hyundai two litres and superior again to Mazda 626 2 litres, superior to Humber Super Snipe three litres, but none superior 3.5 litre VF Valiant.

The colour is an iridescent Stormy Blue.

To the Crusher

My poor ole Mazda 626 will probably go to the crusher. What a waste. Some of the my new car and the new car later.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Little Bits

Our friend in Japan arrives this evening to stay with us for a couple of weeks. We are looking forward to seeing her. How many times will I able to slip into conversations that she is going to end up the little old gaijin woman on a walking stick in the Japanese village?

Don't give up your vices.

Dame M smoked and drank all her life. She never suffered ill health until the last couple of months before she died. Age 83

Sis in Law's father gave up smoking and heavy drinking at the age of 55 and before he died, he suffered bad health for many years. It was a miracle that he lasted to the age he did. Age 81.

Step Father never smoked and very rarely drank with only illness in the last couple of months of his life . Age 81.

From this scientific examination, I can only conclude, if you are bad, stay bad, if you are good, stay good. But don't give up your vices for the sake of your health.

I made sure Step Father dying was kept quiet at work. I did not want it to go up on the whiteboard that 'Andrew has (carelessly) lost his step father'. Office staff who needed to know were very nice. While I appreciate their kindness, I really wished that they would behave normally. Bowed heads and sotto voice was not necessary. Did they think I was about to burst into tears?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sad for you str8 blokes

While we had been into town in the morning and done plenty around the highrise over the rest of the day, we thought we needed another outing and so set off for St Kilda Beach in the new motor. Normally we would have caught a tram and saved ourselves the parking hassle, but we didn't. Mistake.

We drove along the beach front and the low fuel warning light came on. Divert to petrol station. Tank must be bit on the small side.

Just as we left the the car after pay parking, a cool change arrived and people started leaving the beach, but there were still plenty of people around.

We strolled along checking out every guy under thirty and many over and I lamented that Speedos seem to have become unfashionable. But still, I was getting very very 'hot and bothered', quite over cum I was, by all the bare topped guys. Bare chests, hairy, smooth, clippered, shaved or waxed, sexy nipples ready to suck and tease, ripped abs, flat stomachs, stomachs with cute bulges, lean backs, tanned or perfect white skin.

It occured to me how sad it is for straight blokes to not be able to see topless women walking around in such an uncouncious fashion as men do.

Best to keep your shirts on around me guys coz I will be thinking about you, what you would be thinking about a constant passing parade of topless girls.

We Won

Right from the beginning when I looked at the competitors, I thought we should win and we did. I know Tony put a lot of work into the site and I certainly put a lot of time into it also. It is an ongoing work and always will be.

We won the Australian Google My Map competition, where users create and add to a themed Google Map. You can see us at the top of the list here and here is a link to Melbourne's History in Old Signs.

Well done us and thanks to all who assisted with locations and their own photos.

Modern Music

Did I hear right? Shirley Bassey has made a cover of Pink's Get the Party Started? It was an original by Pink? I know little about Pink, except she has nice hair. I have just listened to both but Pink's version is not allowed to be embedded into a blog, so you only get to hear Shirley's. Shirley's is superior anyway.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

UK Windfarm

Back when we were holidaying in the UK, we driving along the M6 when in the distance, initially partly obscured by hills, a solitary wind farm tower appeared. Against the bare hills, it looked quite surreal and very beautiful. As we drove closer, more appeared, but that single one against the hills and sky was memorable.

Daisy asked if I had taken a photo, and I had not. I did some searching at the time, but given I don't even know exactly where we were, I could not find one. Now that Google Maps has added photos, I followed the M6 northward and sure enough, there is a photo and I found the location.

Google Images brought up many photos but I cannot find a photo taken from the distance and angle we saw the windfarm. This quite nice one is by Keith Bellis is taken from a minor road near the M6. It is not really how we saw it but quite a nice photo all the same. Click the pic for a better look. The location is Lambrigg in Cumbria.

The Kiddie Bone Doctor

The Bone Doctor and went to a supermarket bottle shop, or offy or liquor store, whatever. She had a bottle of wine and I had half a dozen light beers. I said to her, I'll pay. As we plonked the goodies down on the counter and I was getting out money, the lad behind the counter said, ID please.

I looked at him blankly, not understanding why I would need ID. The Bone Doctor twigged and pulled out her driving licence. Although once eighteen you can buy alcohol, the store's policy is to ask anyone who looks under 25 for their ID.

I was somewhat gob smacked for a minute. The Bone Doctor is 32 and a surgeon or registrar or something at our major Melbourne hospital. How could she be asked for ID?

As we collected the paid for goodies, Bone Doctor said, thanks Uncle Andrew. I said back, bitch.

Of course she couldn't wait to get back to everyone and brag.

But later looking at her objectively, she could pass for under 25. Good to have a bit of a laugh on a sad day.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Step Father is ill morte

You are probably fed up with up reading about deaths on my blog this year. I am fed up with them happening. I am sure this will be the last for the year and I want the record of it written here.

My step father died at ten this morning. Sister rang at 6.30 to say the hospital had called and told her a few hours. She called appropriate people. Mother called a friend to take her to hospital. Tradie Brother also went to hospital. Mother managed to get a smile from as she talked to him, even though he was quite drugged. Sister was outside making a call when Mother noticed that he had stopped breathing. Tradie Brother disbelieved her but the nurse who they called confirmed it.

Sister was absolutely distraught, Mother not too bad. They stayed until his family from Geelong way arrived.

I called work to report a death in the family and that I would not be attending today or tomorrow. Loss of 16 hours pay, gnash. We picked up Little Jo and brought her to our place as Sister did not want her to be there, and we relieved the Bone Doctor to go and comfort Sister.

We took Little Jo for a swim, watched a Wiggles dvd, took a walk and then on the way to Mother's, stopped off under a freeway in South Melbourne to initiate her into the evils of McDonalds. She did not like any burger, but made do with chips and and a thick shake and that was after having ham, cheese and watermelon we had already fed her at home. Now filled with sugar, salt and fat, Little Jo dropped off to sleep as we motored on the M1 to Mother's. Later we added some alcohol to her day's diet with a rum ball. We should have given her some nicoteen impregnated chewing gum to round it all off.

Yesterday's forgotten cooked chickens came in very useful. A stream of people came and went. Sister offered to stay with Mother overnight, but Mother wanted to be alone. Sister was eventually convinced when Mother told her that she was just make a mess everywhere and Mother would have to clean it all up. Quite likely. Sister is like a hurricane when she arrives anywhere and she has not lost the voice that she used when controlling Year 12 schoolboys.

By 8.30, the last visitors to Mother's departed, and she was now alone, as she wished to be, with her thoughts and the memories of someone she had spent the last thirty years with.

I seem to be the only one who is not surprised how well she is doing. Everyone underestimates Mother, her dizziness, her lack of knowledge of how to even turn on a light and her ablity to get everyone around her to help, with her charm and seeming helplessness, as a lack of survival skills. It will be hard for her, but she will manage.

At some point yesterday, after we all left the hospital, Step Father signed a blank cheque for Mother. Only a couple of thousand dollars to collect, but Mother will be at the bank at the earliest opportunity. If that troubles you, you need context. Step Father owed Mother heaps of money, indirectly.

Compliments to public hospital between Dandenong and Pakenham. They kept Step Father going for christmas day, and then did not prolong the misery. That he suddenly needed pain relief when he had not had any pain, was a blessing, for us and for him.

Now, who is going to pay for the funeral? Seven surving children down Geelong way, and four of us step-children, cost evenly divided seems morally fair. Why do I think this is not going to happen? Already R is making, 'just pay' noises. He hasn't actually pointed out how.

The brief version of a Highriser Christmas

Christmas Eve, work until midnight, bed just before two am. Up at 7.30 after been woken by the smell of roasting pork. R was up at 6 to put the roast on. Prepare everything for christmas dinner at ABI brother's place, except for christmas pudding which Sister cooked, the first year Mother has not done it. Highriser made the christmas cake in late October.

Realise along the way that we have forgotten frozen peas, ABI has some. Realise along the way, we forgot the roast chickens. Mother will only eat vegetable then as ham and roast pork does not seem to agree with her. I don't mention that it about shock to the system of a large meal and not what the meal was.

Drive to ABI brother's house, 1 hour, set up and decorate table, cook roast vegetables. 1pm Bone Doctor and Little Jo arrive. Ten minutes later, Sister and Mother arrive. Chat, eat christmas dinner, set off for hospital to visit Step Father. Sister calls from her car. Tradie brother arriving in 15 minutes. Turn around and back to ABI brother's. Wait half an hour and Tradie Brother arrives with girlfriend G. Point to fridge where there served meals are and head off for hospital.

Sister, Bone Doctor and Little Jo leaving hospital as we arrive. Sister red eyed.

Sister stays while Bone Doctor takes Little Jo back to ABI brother's where Tradie Brother and G are.

Supposed to be a short visit to hospital, but Step Father did not seem to want to doze off, given he has only a few days now. Sister had already cracked badly. R was next. Mother showed Step Father jewellry she had around her neck that he bought for her thirty plus years ago, that was the end of her. Highriser left the room and cracked. ABI brother left the room and cracked. Marvellous that we all did it seperately but of course in such awful circumstances, we had a good laugh too. Step Father's voice has pretty well gone, but all he wanted to talk about was Little Jo, or his Skip as he calls her (Joey, kangaroo, skipping joey, Skip. It is such a devastating shame that she is too young to remember him. She sees him and says birdies. She want's him to show her his now sold 100 odd budgeriegars.

Back to ABI brother's house for pudding and present giving and socialising with Tradie Brother's newish girlfriend G.

Finally leave at 6.10 to head home and realise we are supposed to pick up Dame M's Boarder and his female hairdresser friend to go to Brother Friends for second round of christmas, a tradition for about twenty years.

Call Dame M's Boarder and tell him we will be an hour late. Call Brother Friends and tell them we will be an hour late. Although R would have gone straight on, I am going home to shower. I was hot and sweaty and just need a few minutes at home.

Pick up Dame M's Boarder and hairdresser friend and drive half an hour to Brother Friends. Pleasant and relaxed evening, but all we really wanted to was be home after a such a bitch of a day. Leave Brother Friends at 11pm. R collapsed to his bed, and I am here doing my writing therapy.

Highriser thinks he will take a very selfish view of christmas next year. Not only was this the smallest number of people for christmas dinner, for various reasons, it was, as I warned R, just a lousy day.

Oh yes, Highriser drove the new car today. I turned on the ignition and the oddometer said 7km. By the time it arrived home tonight, it said something in the 200 plus km.

Feel lucky I am absoulutely whacked and you only got the short version.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Compliments of the Season

Since I am a heathen, don't expect any holy words from me. Christmas is good because I get presents. I suppose it is good for families to gather too and who could forget how it was when you were a child. Magical.

Ok, I recognise it is a special day at least and I feel the need to do something nice. No, this time I will not call you a selfish prick or prickess if you haven't arranged for you organs to be donated. Heaven only wants your spirit, not your messy bits. Leave them to benefit someone else.

What could I do that is nice, especially when I can't think of anything? Nice does not come naturally to me. I know, a repost.

Look after your elderly neighbours if you can. Preferably before you are alerted by the odour of rotting fleshl. It doesn't take much effort. We had one instance in our building of a elderly woman who lives on her own collapsing and not being able to get help for hours.

I wouldn't say I was old yet, but I am not that far away. I would like someone to do the same for me, that is check up on me, but not when the rent boy is attending to my needs.

Here is the lightly edited repost, first published May 2006.

The painter, the sister and and the daughters

I have mentioned in my blog before that we used to live next door to the late painter Albert Tucker's sister. Like in an older ad on tv, she welcomed us with baked scones when we moved in. The two nice boys moving in next door. They look very clean and decent.

She was a great neighbour, although there were times when she called out over the fence, we ignored her and crept around silently, but it was not often. As she was the other half of our semi detached in East Malvern, she wasn't easy to ignore and we did grow fond of her.

Our neighbour's father was a politician in the first Victorian Parliament. I can't remember the details now.

One night she invited us in for a sherry and canapes. We learnt how to make mock chicken. Forget how now but something to do with tomatoes. She was clutching a photo of her Adelaide daughter and son in law. We had already met her daughter who lived in Melbourne. She started to show us the photo and then pulled back. She repeated this a couple of times. Then she said with great gravity, 'Um, there is something I need to tell you before you see the photo'.

Our minds raced.

'His name is Rajiv and he is Indian'. Our ho hum reaction must have been a little disappointing to her.

While she was in the kitchen preparing tea and cake, we looked at the really weird pictures on the walls. Why would this very normal middle class woman have such odd pictures on her walls? Of course they were works by Albert Tucker. They were grim pictures.

The Indian born son-in-law called one evening to take our neighbour out for dinner when he was in Melbourne for a few days. We peeked out the curtains, sure enough he was Indian, although not very dark. Probably a Seihk

I used to buy The Age daily back then and she bought The Sun. Once I had finished reading The Age, I would tuck into the fence palings and she would retrieve it. She did the same with the Sun. The day arrived when she did not collect the Age or put out the Sun. We called her daughter who broke in and she had had a stroke. We visited her in hospital. It was indignity for her. All that hair on her face, no make up and speech very slurred. She recovered to a point. She would not be seen on a walking frame. The shopping jeep was her ideal walker and she did continue to wear high heels, against advice. But probably about a year later, again the paper did not appear jammed in the fence palings. Again we phoned the daughter, but it was the end this time.

We went to the funeral of course. The intellectual daughter from Adelaide attended and did the full histrionics thing. Unlike the Melbourne daughter, she wasn't particularly nice to us; quite dismissive really.

Some old queen conducted the funeral, and surprise surprise, not long later, he conducted my brother's wedding. Maybe it was the other way around.

The Melbourne daughter was very nice and grateful for what little we had done. She and her husband had a picture framing business in Eltham. They had two sons, I seem to remember. I bet they are important people in the world of art now, like their great grandfather. Maybe not. Should not have such expectations.

A fellow blogger posted a tale of the loss of a pet dog and it reminded me of pets we have lost. One was the cat Thomas. Our neighbour had taken a photo of Thomas sunbaking in her back yard and a while after her death, her daughter gave us the photo framed with a note on the back. I suppose the daughter would be oldish now. Just for curiosity, I put her name into google. Yes, she did come up. More interestingly, there were links to her sister, the Adelaide university lecturer, niece of Albert Tucker with the Indian born husband.

I was pushed for time and did not fully follow through at the time.

Here is what I quickly gathered. She is a WHISTLEBLOWER and a member of some club for whistleblowers. She accused authorities of stitching her up with a charge from the RSPCA regarding the death of her dog because of what she might divulge. She has an early child reading school/business, one in Adelaide, one in Melbourne, and is also on the speaking circuit. She is a rabid feminist. I really can't be bothered finding out much more. I am not that interested. More interested to know what the Melbourne daughter is now doing.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Deep Lake

For those of you who don't venture to the west of the State of Victoria, it is quite rocky and much of the bluestone seen around Melbourne comes from the west. There are many lakes, both large and small. One I am familiar with is Deep Lake on the Hamilton Highway near Mount Elephant.

I have only been there once. It was well set up for recreation such as camping, fishing, boating and water skiing. Did I once hear that is maximum depth is eighteen metres? Maybe my visit was a decade or so ago.

A friend sent me clipping from one of his local newspapers. The clipping is a real estate ad for a house on the edge of Deep Lake. Very nice stone house and it sold for only $460,000. My friend said it might have sold for $50,000 more if there was water in the lake. But the lake is dry and has been for a few years now. Nearby Shallow Lake was closed to allow more water into Deep Lake, to no avail.

Ok, we have had a very extended period of below average rainfall. But we have had some of late. I can understand why the lake would be low, but empty? I would guess that many of the lakes in the area are very low or empty. Why is this? Can't be just that rainfall is low. We have had droughts before and no one in living memory can recall Deep Lake not having water.

Might it be to do with bores being drilled left, right and centre? Might it be that the Western District Squatocracy are using the water on their land with gay abandon? Might it be that they have extracted so much water with bores, the water table has lowered? Might it be that some water run offs to the lake have been diverted for private purposes?

Might it be illegal activity or just a continuance of a Kennett policy or even one of Bracks? As would be expected, it is a very safe conservative seat, so I can't understand why our Labor government would not act.

I should write to the state member for Polwarth and the federal member for Wannon. See what they have to say.

The good news is though, unrelated, thank god someone has come up with the idea of a tunnel to help alleviate traffic congestion in Hoddle Street and not god awfully ugly flyovers.

You know kiddies though, I kinda of learnt at a very young age, that if you take something away from underneath something, whatever is on top falls down. I think even Little Jo has developed this understanding already when she demolishes our tower of wooden blocks.

Can we keep tunnelling, well maybe because of the way tunnels are constructed, but can we keep taking out oil, gas, coal, minerals, water at the rate we are? Won't the house of cards fall down one day? (Said in a deep voice with the echo button pressed) Journey to the Centre of the Earth.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Crowds

The task was to move briskly along a main street in our city. Quite difficult when the street was littered with christmas shoppers.

I stood back for a moment until I saw a solid and suited man with good presence who looked like he was going somewhere. Never choose a woman for this. They will stop to look in shop windows.

I slipped into the man's slipstream (no don't, please) and like an icebreaker, he moved through the crowds with me trailing along behind him. I did not get pushed or shoved. I did not have to dodge around people. I did not have to step to one side to avoid a collision. I got to where I was going feeling very relaxed and pleased with myself.

Give it a shot. I find it quite successful. Two people side by side moving briskly can work too, especially if they are holding hands.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sydney Broadcasting Corporation

In Australia we have the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, or ABC if you like. Government funded, just like the BBC in the UK, and it does radio including shortwave radio and a television service to our near neighbours, even as far as China, normal television including digital and online. What it does with its small amount of funding compared to what the BBC gets, is extraordinary. I would go so far as to say it does some things better than the Beeb.

It has changed a lot over the years that I have been a consumer of our ABC. Some areas for better, some for worse. For local people, I go back to the days of Evans the Wireless.

It was probably eight years or so ago and on a Sunday and I was sitting in the car waiting for someone or something, and I thought I would tune into the radio news. It was supposed to be a national news service, but all I heard was about Sydney. Car crashes, delays on roads, punch up at the Coogee Bay Hotel (ok, I am exaggerating there). I got a bit annoyed. This is supposed to be National news for all states, not just for Sydney.

I had heard people refer to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation as the Sydney Broadcasting Corporation, and know I knew why.

Alerted to it on that day, I have always kept it in the back of my mind, ever watchful for signs of emergence of the Sydney Broadcasting Corporation. I got a lay down misere tonight.

While your eyes are already glazing over and you have noticed a cobweb in the corner that needs removing, it is my blog and I will proceed. You foreign types need some background. Even local folks probably do.

Christmas and New Year and much of January is our hot summer. There aren't any radio ratings and our ABC takes the chance to save money and networks right across Australia. That means we all lose local content. I am fine with the theory of this, no matter how crappy the programs are.

While they keep saying that we are listening to ABC local radio, it could be coming from any of our states and it has a national flavour. Saves our ABC heaps of money. I fully understand why they do it.

But if they are pretending that a nation wide broadcast is local radio, they really need to get it right.

Alan Brough, broadcasting from Melbourne, went national. He did ok and sounded inclusive.

I cannot say the same for Rhys Muldoon who was supposed to be broadcasting nationally, at least he was to where I am in Victoria, and during his quite boring quiz, he asked the question, 'Who on ABC Local Radio, hosts the Conversation Hour?' He went on to confirm the bias by adding, 'There is only one Conversation Hour Host'. I am happy to get this self confirmed religious Tory type that he is into trouble when this lands on Sue's desk.

Now in Sydney, the ever so book/film/celeb Conversation Hour is hosted by an ex comedian from The Doug Anthony All Stars. In Melbourne, it is hosted by a high rating and very respected radio current affairs broadcaster by the name of Jon Faine. In fact Monsieur Faine (he is presently in Paris) goes Victoria wide and even into southern NSW and Tasmania, the latter two by default of a powerful transmitter. In fact I have been amused by Melbourne to London dot com.

So, there are at least two Conversation Hours in Australia on ABC Local Radio, possibly more. Rhys assumed there was only the one that he as a Sydneysider knows about. Bad karma Rhys and what ammo you give to those who want to refer to our national broadcaster, the ABC, as the Sydney Broadcasting Corporation.

Rhys, if you want to know how to do it, listen to some old tapes of your boss Sue when she was on the wireless. I could never work out where she was. I think Melbourne, but not really sure. She presented nationally, so there was never any state bias.

Gee, how hard is it to check facts for a quiz???

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Driving the new motor

I will get my fair share of driving the new car when we are out and about, but I also have to get used to R's old car, the one I now have to pay the rego and insurance on. Believe me, if you have separate money, and pay for your partner's new car, less inheriting his old one, it is a nightmare to calculate.

R's old car wireless is extraordinarily complicated and a much cheaper and nastier unit than I have in the old Mazda. I will have to switch from illegal cassettes to illegal cds. I did read that there is button to shut off City Link announcements in the tunnel though. Yes, I have read the operational manuals for R's car. I learnt that you can raise or lower the seat belt mounting and the steering wheel. I also learnt that to raise or lower the headrests, there is a catch to release them. Not sure why I would to alter mine, the driver, but who knows who might be in the car.

Alhtough my old Humber had three different interior lights, the front one being built into the mirror, the rear ones on each side and individually operated by a beautifully smooth sliding switch and by the rear passenger, at least the Humber had a glove box light. My old Mazda has a glove box light. R's new car has a glove box light. But the Hyundai does not have a glove box light! Map reading lights, tick, cigarette lighter light tick, ashtray light tick, but I don't use any of those........well I don't really use the glove box either, but that is beside the point. If they can put a glove box light in a Humber in the early sixties, I would have thought the Koreans could have put one in a 2000 Hyundai.

My old Mazda has cruise control, which I use quite often. The Hyundai does not. The new Mazda does of course.

Ok, worked it out. If I need to go to Pakenham to visit Mother, then I will take the new Mazda and R can take the Hyundai to work, but I am still a bit bitter that the car I am ridding myself of has a light in the glove box, a motorised swivelling air con vent, and cruise control, and the one I am getting does not.

A Christmas Party

While many of you might think of dykes as being big chicks who would be handy to have around if you need to change a tyre, they are not all like that. Our dyke friends' would have to ask me how to change a tyre.

There could well be a misconception that they would not know how to host a good party. Believe me, they do.

I hate parties really, but the one last night was tolerable. It was highly planned, the food at regular intervals. The games. The prize giving. It was never boring. Fortunately a guest brought along an Ipod full of good party music to stick into a cradle.

Last year at the same party, NT ex pollie/copper wowed them in the aisles when he turned up as Santa. This year, the late Dame M's boarder wowed them by turning up in full drag. Windsor Shoes supplied the patent leather black thigh high boots. The rest created by Jasmine herself.

Two years ago the late Dame M deigned to appear at the dykes inaugural christmas party. I expect The Boarder made her headpiece. Both he and Dame M were very talented at anything like that. Dame M was mentioned more than once last night by various people. It was surprising that she went out in daylight. Normally she did not.

Not that we will be having any parties in the future, but I sure now know how to organise one.

This was somewhat of a contrast the barbecue we went to this afternoon. The food was fine and the company too, but it just lacked something and I couldn't wait to leave. Maybe it was because it was so hot, even though we were under shelter. Maybe it was because I wasn't in the mood for socialising lubricant, which would have just made me feel the heat more. Maybe it was because I went to work late this morning when it was my day off and I had made an error. Shut up you two pricks.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Out and about in St Kilda #13

What is it with personal grooming and whimsical sculpture on verandah roofs? We are in Acland Street, St Kilda on the opposite side of the street to where these sculptures are. I recall that Tram Walker pointed out to me similar sculptures in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The week off

I have had a week off work. I have done some extra things but really, I am a much more of a high achiever when I am disciplined by work.

Tick to many things though. New computer connected to net and set up, shower cleaned, auto trolley cleaned, Chinese nest of tables in bedroom cleaned, balcony cleaned and christmas light decorated, bedding all washed, christmas cards all sent (yours is in the mail Jahteh), gifts bought. The highrise is looking spic and span.

We are a little stressed by the new car purchase as it is costing us more than we budgeted for, sorry that is nonsense, more than we thought. I have never done budgeting and I am not about to start. So long as I go to work, money comes in and just as quickly goes out.

Also a little stressed by our tenant who is going to bolt in January. He has been there for more than two years and we have treated him well. He is sadly aspirational and has bought his own house and deserting us. Now we are told the place needs to be repainted, problems with the Venetian blinds which are of a far superior quality to the ones we have at home, lights, hot water, heating. Given the paintwork is only five years old, as are the quality Ventian's, I am not so sure about this. The lights perhaps, hot water problem at the sink, maybe. The heater is a lousy old log fire model. When I authorized its last repair, R said that I was dumb. We should have put in reverse cycle air con.

We sould sell the flat and clear up all our owings, but it is not necessary yet. And who knows, one day it may make a profit.

Writing subjectively, the amount we rent it out for is reasonable and average. Objectively, it seems usury(?). I can't afford to be bleeding heart about it. Market rate is not unreasonable.

What has really caused me stress this week is this bloody (there, I swore) new machine. It is mainly when browsing, but other instances as well.

It just restarts. I am actually getting used to it and plan to do something else while it does so. But it is inconvenient, to say the least. I took it back to the pc shop on Wednesday. I should have rang first. The pc shop dude is o/s until early January.

This morning I wanted to download camera pics to the pc and realised I had not installed the camera software. You can do it without, but with the software, it puts the photos in a nice date ordered manner. I loaded what was on the cd and added it. Nothing happened. I then realised it was a cd to do with an old camera. I loaded the new cd. But still nothing. Perhaps conflict between the two. I uninstalled the old one but must have deleted recognition of the dvd/cd burner thingy, and it would no longer show. I was very unsure how to reinstate it. No experience of that. Then I thought of system restore, and I switched it back to yesterday and dvd/cd was back.

I then had the bright idea of switching the computer back to the day when I first picked it up and if it was something that I had done, all would be well. I did that and the browser worked for ten minutes almost and I thought I had a win. Nah. It seemed even worse. I tried to switch it back to yesterday, but it would not. So then I had to reload all programs. While the constant stuff happened while you are staring at a screen and waiting, I managed to tidy up after a Little Jo babysit visit the night before while Sis and the Bone Doctor saw a fillum, and get the ironing done. I am such a girl with my multi tasking.

Gauranted to cause browser crash is Highriser Celebs, Xtube, The Age, pretty well anything Google related, maps, street directory dot com. After the restore today, even Google Reader kept causing a restart.

It is not Spybot, not AVG, not Zone Alarm. It is mainly when web browsing, but not exclusively. Click on something and it may restart. While loading one of the above, it will crash. Offer you help if you know, but I really thing there is something defective. I have been around computers for a long time, and I have an instinct about them now.

Just to wrap, and let me assure you, I am a survivor, dying Step Father wants a radio for his pallaitive care bedside table. I checked in RetraVision in Chapel Street and prices were high. I liked dealing with the old Jewish owners who would negotiate a price. I went into JB Highfi, and they did not have small radios. They had some expensive models and I thought, bugger the expense, he is dying, it will be the last present. I then burst into tears in the middle of JB Highfi.

I could not go into the next elcheapo electrical shop, as I would have to take my sunglasses off.

Normally Scotch is saved for saved for Saturday night, but I visited Dan's and bought some for tonight.

Once home and doing more domestic tasks, I sat down for a bit to watch the commercial tv news. I laughed too loud and too long when I heard of a householder's christmas blow up Santa being blown up. The weirdness in me thoroughly approves of blowing up external house decorations with a fire cracker. The first couple of years of house light decoration were fun.

Highriser's life will get back to its selfish normality at some point in the future, won't it?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

This week's flowers

The maid had bought some cheap chewlips at the market. As usual, they were cheap for a good reason and would not stand up in the vase. After much bad language, sweat on his brow and swapping of vases, we ended up with a reasonable display.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Patrick Swayze

Poor Patrick. I don't think he is too long for the world. He is still fighting his battle against cancer with optimism. I vaguely recalled him as being quite nice when he was younger, so I searched for some pictures and added them to HighRiser Celebs. He was hot!

Little Miss Trouble

I saw a book for kids in a department store called Little Miss Trouble. I reckon Little Jo will Little Miss Trouble, so for a couple of bucks, I grabbed it.

I showed it to Sister and she agreed with me. Little Jo is not getting it. Down the rubbish chute.

It is a horrible book. It teaches name calling, nastiness, revenge and violence.

Little Miss Trouble says bad things about people to others. People are hurt. Some take revenge. There is some violent revenge. It concludes with the words, 'A taste of your own medicine'.

Little Jo will learn about all the above matters in her life. I don't see why she needs to know about them now.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Transport Survey

What was wrong with me? I let an unsolicited caller get past her first words. She wanted to survey me. Many do. It was a survey about public transport within City of Port Phillip, where I live. I emptied the dishwasher as she gave me a decent old survey. I had been saving that task and others for when Mother rang, instead I read the paper while murmering a couple of yesses and thoughful hmmms.

There were some general questions about the State Government's new transport plan and some motherhood questions. Even though everyone I know who makes it their business to know about public transport is against it, I enthusiastically praised the government's decision to build a rail tunnel, purely for my own selfish reasons. Bugger the poor in Upper Kombuctor West and them not even having a tricycle to get to the local shops.

I was then asked about the 606 bus. I am aware of it and where it runs, but it is no use to me as it not near me. I was surprised to hear that it is a very minimal, almost peak service only.

It spite of it being clear in early questions that I don't live near the bus route and don't have any reason to use it, the surveyor went on to ask questions such as, if the service was improved, would you use it? Answer no. If the route was upgraded, would you use it? No.

So sorry to you folk who would like a better 606 service, but what could I say? If this survey is in part to decide whether to improve the service, the questions seem to be very slanted towards it not being improved.

Oh yes, to save you checking, the 606 runs from St Kilda, near Luna Park, to a loop around the streets of Port Melbourne. I did look it up a few months ago to see where this bus in St Kilda actually went. Half of the route runs parallel to tram lines anyway. A tram along the beach front from Beacon Cove to Elwood, then you would be talking about making serious money for public transport coffers. Brian, send us over a couple of your double deckers pronto.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The new motor

I now have the new computer connected to the internet. I must keep saving my words as the bitch of a monster keeps restarting of its own accord. I am unsuccessfully so far trying to narrow the problem down.

Kezza who is about to reinvent himself most kindly offered to give advice regarding us choosing a new motor. It was too late as we had narrowed down to a head buy and a heart buy.

The Hyundia Lantra that I am about to get to be my own is a great car. As it has a spoiler on the rear and quite nice enough wheels, it looks ok even at eight years old. My 1985 Mazda 626 Super Deluxe does not look modern, but still not to bad. As the car sales person was was going through the list of features of our new car, I thought ho hum. They are are all on my old car. Ok, not steering wheel control for the wireless, or air bags, or ABS. But yes, air con works with the motorised swivelling central vent, adjustable shockers, absolute flat rear when the back seats are put down, head light washers (what a wank) and a plethora of courtesy lights.

Car sales people are so stupid when they are dealing with old queens. In the handbook for car sales people, it must say something along the lines that gays have plenty of disposable income. Flirt with them, mention your brother's 'partner' in a gender ambigous manner and see how they react. Seen and heard it all before. So tedious. Also tedious was when I was parking the test car and the sales lad became nervous about clearances and kept saying to me, check your mirrors. I don't park by mirrors. I park by looking over my shoulder, while I am still able to. I haven't got it wrong yet. Well, I have parked badly, but never hit anything. Oddly, the tighter the space, the better I am at fitting the car in first time. Give me a large space to park in and I am not so good.

I can never see the point of buying a new car when they devalue so much as you drive them out the door. However, R wanted a new car and at his age, he ought to have what he wants. The mortgage and a credit card are paying. We are good at repaying debts. Not so good at saving up for things. The nieces and nephew may be in for a surprise when the gay uncles die. 'They were effing well mortgaged to the hilt. Barely anything left for us.' And then they will read the wills and realise that most of the money has gone to preventing animal cruelty.

Ok, off topic. Refocus. Our heads told us a Hyundai Elantra, though their extremely competative pricing was not as good as it used to be, but still not too bad.

But our hearts said Mazda 3 Max Sport, and that is what we bought.

While I am terribly good at the theory of buying a car, I am not so good at putting it into practise. From the first price, a few thousand was knocked off and we, or someone (gnash teeth) readily agreed. I/we are not up to screwing for a mega price. I can do it in a Bangkok market, but not readily on home turf.

R observed and told me later that I was a grumpy old man (yes, and???) and the poor young kiddie salesperson had to send the big boss out to try to get some sort of connection with me. He tried, but I can tell you how many overhead lights and air con outlets there are at their spanking new showroom.

So the perfectly adequate for me 1985 Mazda 626 has been traded in and will go to the wreckers I suppose. I will get the year 2000 Hyundai to travel in to and from work. (ok, its air con is better and at least the heater and dash lights will work). R will have a heavily tinted Mazda 3 in a dark blue, with the after sales body and interior treatement, to drive to work and take us about as the need arises.

The sales boi insisted when we were test driving the car, that we try the brakes. Must say, ABS is well worth having. Full braking, dead stop with not a swerve.

We may have the new car later in the week, or at least before christmas.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Family Matters

The occupants of the highrise are somewhat stressed at the moment. It has been a frantic couple of weeks. I know my blog posts have barely reached their usual low quality.

Step father now has tubes to drain his bile into plastic bags as three attempts at stents had not worked. He had been home with a nurse visiting daily. Last Sunday he had a visit from his four sons from down the west district. He was cheered by their visit, but tired and fell asleep in his chair while mother took her late afternoon nap. Mother heard a crash and step father had gotten out of his chair, fallen and his head hit the fireplace hearth. Mother called 000 and an ambulance arrived promptly and carted him off to an older large far eastern suburb public hospital. They scanned his head and found an intact brain. They did not xray where he had directly fallen, onto his shoulder. Maybe they did not know.

No doubt he wanted to go home and the hospital agreed. A friend picked him up but he was so weak, he could barely get up the two steps at his front door. The friend managed to get him to his chair. Later he wanted to go to the toilet but in spite of Mother trying to lift him up, he could not get out of the chair. He said, 'Bugger it, I will crawl'. He tried but collapsed face down on the floor in severe pain. 000 again and this time Mother insisted that he be taken to the closer and fairly new public hospital where she spent some time earlier this year when her blood pressure was out of control. The para said that she would try and if they departed straight away, they were headed for the closer hospital, if they came back in, it was to delay things in the hope that they could avoid the hospital they had been told to take him too and get him to the preferred one. As he was loaded into the ambulance, he was screaming in pain.

Things went uphill from there fortunately. It became clear that he could not go home. Mother is not up to caring for him. He must have realised this himself and is now relaxed in the care of the hospital and when we saw him today, he was looking better than we have seen him for ages and with a better aura. An xray showed that he had a shoulder break. His arm was put in a sling and a bed found for him, the precise same bed that my mother had earlier in the year. His hospital care has gone from pretty ordinary in the old one to excellent in this present one. Both are just public hospitals, but very different. I guess you medically experienced types can work out what is an old hospital half an hour from Pakenham and a new one 15 minutes from Pakenham.

Early in the week, the Bone Doctor made some calls and smoothed some things out. Her advice was a family/hospital conference. I was doubtful of the benefit, but the long and short is that it was a good idea, I think. Bone Doctor organised it. She is a treasure and has been most helpful.

I am under some criticism by R for not attending but I felt it was not necassary for me to take time off work to be there. R left work early to look after Little Jo while Sister and the Bone Doctor attended. Others attending were sis in law and her two daughters, 19 and 16 (a mistake to take the younger one in my opinion, but she wanted to go. She and her sister only buried their other grandfather a couple of months ago and went through my father's illness and death a few years ago), one of Step Father's daughters from down west, Mother, Oncologist, Doctor and Charge nurse at Palliative Care unit. Even after looking after Little Jo, R went off to the building's christmas get together, the biggest yet. It become more sucessful each year.

At the meeting Mother was in tears, as were Sister, Sis in Law and two of her daughters. What? You think this was going to be a good outcome?

Palliative care was decided, against Mother's opinion. She wants his to stay in hospital where he has company and interaction with people, rather than a room on his own. Fortunately a palliative care room was not immediately available.

He had been started on morphine, but I think that has been stopped and he is only on one medication, I believe just a relaxing drug. After a few days of hospital without too many worries and relaxing into an extended hospital stay without fighting to go home, he is looking better than he has looked for a long time, and joking and telling stories like he used to, and ready to sack his dietician for the soft food he has been told he must eat.

Mother who would never stay at home alone at night seems to have adjusted and now can be alone, in fact is annoyed by the constant phone calls and visits by friends to check on her. She had not had a proper meal for a week and last night opened one of the non supermarket prepared meals that Sister had bought for her. It affected her system and she is blaming the food. I think, no, I know, it is just the shock of a proper and full meal. Regardless, she has decided on supermarket pre packaged now and gave me one of these meals remaining home meals to take home. Yum, I love free food, a roast no less. R can't believe how well she is coping. I can. It is all still about her. Good signs were that she asked me to show her how to reset the power surge switch. I checked that she has a working torch. I opened for her, tricky for me even, a bottle of Phenyle bin cleaner and pointed out that she should use the jar/bottle opening tool for all other jars etc. I fixed her roll of Glad Wrap, Sarin I think, if you are reading Daisy, that she had gotten in a terrible mess.

Tradie brother attends to Mother's house regularly and maintains the lawns. Brain damaged Acquired brain injury brother (ABI) does the daily shopping. Sister takes her out once or twice a week and the oldest brother, moi, will take her out one day this week to relieve pressure from Sister. Otherwise, older brother in the highrise de-stresses by writing a blog post and knows at some point he will have to step up to crease and stop pretending that he is older brother who knows everything and will take charge when the time comes. It is going to be a long hard road with Mother over the next year while we both help her and help her to manage on her own, although nothing like Jahteh experience.......yet.

R is pretty stressed about the above, buying a new car, feeding the family on christmas day, work, but in just two hours in the city this morning, we pretty well ticked off christmas presents. He vaguely thanked me for my quick and spontaneous choices. I did not mention that I had given a lot of thought to the matter and with some given information, steered things well.

All sad and depressing,? Nope. We had a good laugh with Step Father, who does not actually know what palliative care means. Mother is always entertaining and amusing. I passed a hospital cleaner who had a face like a busted arsehole and smiled at her and she returned with a grin and I admired the alstramerias (I know, it is wrong) fellow bed occupant at the hostpital and we had a nice chat. As such an anti social person, I amaze myself at how well I do at it.

That only took 90 minutes to write, but I do feel better now.

The Tattslotto Man Cometh

Well he hasn't, but I suspect some people will think he has. Just for once in my life, I had enough money to actually pay for something significant. That is, a new computer. Files are being moved across as I speak. I keep having to swap the monitor plug over.

A year ago, I had a quote from out computer man, OK, I will give them a plug. HTek in St Kilda Road, St Kilda formerly of Carlisle Street, Balaclava, for a new machine, $770. The company has done well by us over the years and I would recommend them. The price this year for a superior machine was $660. I bit the bullet and ordered it. I sits beside the old one now, ready to connect to the net, except I forget how to do that and so will need to ring my isp and hope Sol doesn't answer the phone. I have looked at the online instructions, and they are too complicated. I have never had to ftp anything before, and I am not about to start.

Our five year old model was tired and I would hate to loose the latest email if the hard drive buggered up. I do back everything up every so often. Even just file transferring, the new one is lightning fast compared to the old. The case is small and neater too. Our first computer did not have colour coded plugs, but what a marvellously simple thing it was to add colour coded plugs and sockets.

It has four rear usb ports and two at the front. That will work well. As for the specs, I don't care about them, but it has 1gb of RAM and a 250gb hard drive. That should be adequate for us.

It is a nightmare to set up a new computer and get it to a state of what you are used to on your old one.......it actually takes months, but the basics in a couple of days.

Oh, and we bought a new car today. More on that later. Now, can any cobber lend me a quid?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Kill the scum

Good effort by Victoria's finest. They got rid of some scum off the street. He was anti immigration and probably extremely racist. Hey, I am anti immigration too. Australia is full. No more people.

Loopy, stealing knives and threatening police lives. Deserved what he got.

But, and isn't there always one?

He was a fifteen year old lad armed only with knives. Cops took him out with multiple gunfire. Was it four or six police present? Against one fifteen year old lad?

Ok, I wasn't there and I don't know the circumstances, but on the face of it, multiple cops shooting up a fifteen year old, (note, I have refrained from emotively saying child or kid), is just bad policing in my opinion.

Fifteen year old lads can be very bad for sure, but I am not sure that they are quite bad enough to deserve death.

What an 'orrible mess. Dead teenager and cops who are going to go through grilling like hell.

I don't want to turn in an English person who constantly bags their country, but something is seriously wrong with our society. I myself had a recent experience of out of control drunk young lads who have had a privileged upbringing.

When did it switch from being naughty to being really bad?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Around the highrise #33

We call this the auto trolley. I don't know why or if that is even the correct term. I recall timber models being called tea trolleys. The chrome is due for a good clean. Just add it to the long list. The wheel protectors are bakelite. The wheels creak like four creaking doors opening at once. The glass had a sand blasted pattern. It only gets moved to vacuum under.

I suppose it is quite old. We acquired it when I killed our brother friend's mother. She clearly had no use for it subsequently and it did not fit the brothers house's decor, so it was given to us. We have had it for perhaps fifteen years and it has resided in four houses.

We are quite attached to it. Just looking at it now, I suppose it is Art Deco.

The wide based decanter was bought duty free in Christchurch in the early eighties. I am not sure what we were thinking. We paid $200 for it. What would that be in today's kilometres? Why so much? It is Waterford Crystal.

The two miniature bottles behind the decanter are spirits from Cyprus. We are not game to try them. The were gifts.

The water jug belongs to an expensive whisky glass set. All the glasses have gone. The present were also a gift.

They sit upon an inscribed silver tray presented to me after twenty seven years slavery for twenty five years slavery. No one noticed I had been there twenty five years until I had been for twenty seven. I keeps me 'ead down. The maid complains that he has to polish it as it tarnishes quickly.

Left over from R's abode in the seventies is the black plastic encased cigarette lighter. It was yellow, but we painted it black. No idea if it works or not. Doubt there would be gas in it.

The rest is just cheap crap.

How did I kill the brother friend's mother, I hear you wondering? We invited her and the brother friends for afternoon tea and I served my very special boiled fruit cake. That night she died in her sleep and the blame was firmly directed at my fruit cake.

City Bogans/Bogongs

Mayor Doyle wants to rid our fair city of bogans, or chavs if you have a regional UK accent. US of A needs to have an equivalent word. Oh yeah, trailer trash.

Good on Mayor Doyle. Please do get rid of bogans and while you are about it...... well, you are getting rid of untalented buskers too. Get rid of those loud private school girls please. And those druggie types with there parachute fabric type pants. And all those foreign students who clutter up up the cheap Asian/Indian restaurants and yabber away in their own tongues.

Grannies who walk so slowly, they impede the flow of pedestrians. Ban them. And skate boarder types as well. They cause alarm to all with their clatter over pavement joints.

Those Big Issue sellers who try to embarrass you into buying their socialist propaganda. Ban them for sure.

Kevin selling lollies from a wheelchair is not a great ad for Melbourne. Ban him.

We are a classy city. Get rid of the barely moving statue people and the bloke who gets off on lying on nails.

Photo looking art work from spray cans and twisted bits of metal or cane will never get a gig at the Tate. Banned.

Blokes in suits talking on mobile phones about their latest shafting of a collegue. Not nice. Banned.

Idiots from overseas photographing all sorts of buildings. Idiots, all the photos that need be taken have been and find them on the net.

Ringwood lass in town for your boyfriend to buy you a wedding ring, he will ditch you at the drop of a sagged pudenda.

Nudge out of town those pretentious types who attend city churches and not their own local ones.

Local people who live and shop in the city? Why? Did you ever think where your visitors might park?

You lady, yes you, the one with gloves on and who lives at Barradene in Toorak. You are an anchronism. Get into the 21st century.

Ok, we have got the city rid of the undesirables.

Highriser stands at the corner of Bourke and Swanston, and with much self satisfaction, now realises that he has now recreated the 1970s.

I did tell you I would be in a grumpy mood this week.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ad immune

I am immune to ads. Immune to those advertising parasites that try to infect everything we do. Immune to full page newspaper ads. Immune to tv ads. I am cynical and smart.

So I am not quite sure how I ended up in Hungry Jacks at the corner of Bourke and Russell Streets asking for a kids meal deal with some afore knowledge that had somehow been implanted in my head. A small burger, small chips, a small coke and a plastic toy, all for $4.50.

Plastic toy complete with small choking components was later given to Little Jo. I told sister I had found it on the train.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Train to Tulla

Sometimes things just make so much sense to me that I cannot understand why they don't happen.

Melbourne is a big city and we Melburnians travel, both domestically and internationally. We travel a lot and we get our fair share of visitors.

Sydney has a train to its airport, even though it is very expensive and no one uses it and it went broke. I am unaware of its present status. We looked at it once and it was cheaper to get a taxi.

Brisbane has one. I think it does ok now financially after a shaky start.

Our Federal Government is funding a feasibility study into a rail line from Perth to its international airport, even though the stupid Tory Premier says he does not want it.

Why on earth doesn't Melbourne have a fast train to our international airport? Instead we are forced to depend on the kindness of friends or family, catch a bus that mixes it with traffic on the often congested freeway and the major bus leaves from our suburban and country railway station anyway, or a taxi cab, which is quite expensive.

The land is pretty well there to do it. It would be packed if the train used normal Metcard fares, and I see no justification for any any system to use anything else but its city's fare system.

It will happen one day, but I doubt I will see it.

When I think of London's Heathrow Express to Paddington, or the train from Singapore Airport to Orchard Road with good stops in between, it just makes so much sense. You could bet that every decent Euro city has an airport train.

Premier Brumby, stop wasting money on the Grand Pricks and the like and spend money where it is really needed, like police, public transport and hospitals and health care.

Yeah, I am in a grumpy mood and probably will be all week.

Lost Box

I found this timber box in the recycling room. I had no use for it, but I loved the note stuck on the base. If you can't read it, it says,

Please take me. I am clean and come from a nice home.

Oh god, just as I was about to publish this, a thought occurred to me. What if the box had contained a kitten or puppy?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Pants has a dishwashing machine

Pants has her head stuck in a book and has refused to acknowledge her garden. Good for her. Survival of the fittest. She has acquired a dishwasher though in downtown Larrikin's End, and so that gives me an opportunity to republish my dishwashing tips that I wrote back in 2005 I think, for a fellow blog mate. I am not keen to drink from hand washed glasses. Here 'tis back from the past.

Some of you won't have ever had one and maybe you will have one soon. Maybe you have one now and have problems with it. I have had six different ones over twenty odd years and have used them pretty well daily, so I feel well qualified to offer some advice.

I can't find bullet points so I will just list as individual points as best I can.

Your dishwasher is not a miracle machine. If you have burnt something onto a pot, your d/w will not clean it.

Cheap detergent and rinse aid is a waste of your money. They don't give good results. If you remember the 'F' word, you won't go wrong. You really do get what you pay for. We have experimented with others.

Some things need rinsing off before they go in the dishwasher. Starch and cereal. Rinse off the pot that you have cooked and mashed potato in and whatever you cooked rice in. Rinse off your cereal bowl.

Orange juice can be troublesome. Rinse those bits of fruit matter off.

Cooked on substances need to be scrubbed off first, but if something is very greasy, don't worry, shove it in.

Otherwise, dirty plates, cups, glasses, vases, ceramic products, glass products, range hood metal parts, toothbrush holder, dog bowls and all cutlery and cooking tools..........if it is glass or ceramic and it will fit in, stick it in. If it is not dishwasher proof, get rid of it. If it is metal or plastic, think about it first. Plastic exhaust fan covers, no, no no.

When loading it, remember the direction from where the water sprays, that is the centre out, so at the back, stuff needs to face to the front and at the front, stuff needs to face towards the back.
Spooning is something you may do in bed with your partner, but it does not work in a dishwasher. Two spoons resting against each other facing the same way will not come clean.

Clean your filters often and dishwashers do get surprisingly dirty around the seals, so clean them too.

Your dishwasher will present your crockery and and glassware far better than you do by hand. Embrace it and love it.

Balloon Flight

R had been to sis in law's recently widowed mother's eightieth birthday with Sister and Little Jo. I was at work and he sms'd me, Do you want some Scotch tonight? May as well, I replied, doesn't look like the balloon flight will go ahead tomorrow, Sunday. The weather forecast for ballooning was not good, but to our amazement when we called at 6.30, it was definitely going ahead. Ah well, the Scotch will keep.

We arose at 3.30 and walked along St Kilda Road to the meeting point at the Langham Hotel, Southbank. There was a sense of a lack of reality. A steady stream of taxis passed in both directions and the number of people out and about on foot at this hour was amazing.

I said to R, the last time we did anything like this was in June when we were making our way from Sussex Gardens to St Pancras Station to catch the Eurostar to Paris. We saw a squirrel then. I wonder if we will see a possum this morning? We didn't.

We met the group with whom we were flying and given some instructions and driven in a mini bus with the balloon in a trailer to a vacant gravelled site at Fishermans Bend, very close to the Port of Melbourne Control Tower. Our fellow passengers were two m/f couples and two m/f exchange teachers, one from England and one from Canada. The bus driver/balloon get readier person was a woman about thirty and our pilot, a Canadadian male with 25 years ballooning experience, including flying huge balloons over the Rift Valley in Kenya.

What was never told to us, was that we had to help with the balloon flight. So nine of us, the bus driver and eight passengers, unfurled the balloon, unloaded the basket and generally assisted. A small test balloon with a bright light was sent up and although to me it headed west, at some point it must have turned north east.

The balloon is intially inflated by a deisel powered air fan and once it reaches a certain point, one of the three gas burners ignight and it rises upright. There are eight passenger positions and a larger one for equipment and the pilot. We were shown the brace position for landing and in a very undignified manner, scrambled aboard using the footholes in the side of the basket. The basket was tipping over every so often and had to be corrected with a blast of hot air. We had been advised to wear caps to protect our heads from the heat. Otherwise, it was pretty cool, in fact I was a little too lightly dressed as usual, but I hate being too hot.

Clearance was given by Melbourne Airport Control Tower and we had lift off.

Three different companies operate balloons and they co-operate and launch from the same site and land at the same site. A total of seven balloons.

The flight was undramatic. Great views of course, dogs barking in back yards, horses running in a paddock, a kangaroo leisurely hopping along.

Of couse you must go where the wind blows and it was clear we weren't going to sail past the highrise. We followed the Yarra River upstream quite closely. It was quite breezy and as we decended near Templestow, I heard the pilot say on his radio that we were travelling at 25 knots, say 50 kilometres per hour, or 30mph. It seemed fast as we neared the ground.

We assumed the brace postioned, squatting down with our backs against the padded compartment divider and knees against the basket wall and gripping rope handles. I can't really describe the landing. It was sort of a few bounces and a drag along the ground. I laughed so much.

We were in half metre high grass field in Westerfolds Park, Templestowe. We were the first balloon to land, so we watched the others come in and then had to pack up the balloon and basket and load them back onto the trailer. Hard work!

We were driven back to the Langham Hotel for an excellent champagne buffet breakfast in the breakfast room with views of the river. The Langham Hotel is seriously nice. Go in and check out the foyer if you are passing by.

We caught a tram home and R went to bed, while I mucked around with stuffs

Depart Highrise, 4am, meet 4.45, depart hotel, 5.00, arrive Fishermens Bend, 5.15, Lift off, 6.00, land approx 7.00, arrive hotel, 7.30 for breakfast, home by 8.45.

The photos that didn't turn out very well, were of the Exhibition Buildings and St Patrick's Cathedral, Heidi and very old large historic house near Heidleberg and I can't recall the name.

Holding the balloon still and open while it is pumped full of air.

A bit of hot air and one balloon slowly rises. PoM Control Tower is in the back ground.


Even I, used to heights, felt a bit odd when looking directly downwards. But I was fine if it was via the camera.
From the top of the pic, Port Phillip Bay, St Kidla and St Kilda Breakwater, then Albert Park and the lake, the Royal Botanic Gardens with the Governer's modest cottage and across the Yarra River is the Melbourne Cricket Ground, MCG. Somewhere down there too is the Highrise. We could see it at times.

We passed over an awful lot of golf courses.

A fellow traveller balloon lands near us at Westerfolds Park.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Brother's computer

I saw my brother last weekend. I asked how his computer was going with the dangly internet broadbandy connection thingy was going. He said it was slow, but ok. Given he had dial up, perhaps not so different. I checked the map of his area for coverage of wireless broadband and he is on the very edge of coverage.

He seems happy enough with it. He only does email really. I gently suggested that for a desktop, adsl might have been better. You can still use your phone and will be much much faster.

Wiser older brother was put back in his place. I quote, "I don't need it, and this costs me $10 per month, whereas adsl would cost me $40 a month". He has matched his need to what he sees as the best deal.

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Loop not looping

Am I ignorant or have things changed?

I caught the tram to Balaclava and picked up a couple of things and ordered a shiny new machine, no not a bicycle. I caught the train to Richmond and stepped off to change to a train to Parliament Station. Hmmm, indicator board is not showing any trains going direct to Parliament. Odd!

Check for next train to Flinders Street and change platforms. Is it just a Flinders Street train or will it go all the way around the loop? I checked the display board at Flinders Street and it indicated that it was. I needed to go to Brunswick Street, and so could have gotten off and walked to the Collins Street tram, but it was a warm day. Better to stay on the nice cool train. The rest of the outing was uneventful.

Now I recall when we used to live in East Malvern and caught the train from Darling Station, the Glen Waverley trains used to change directions in the Loop. Maybe they still do. Whether they still do or not is not really the point, but is my memory defective? Didn't some trains run one way on the loop and some the other, so that you could change trains at Richmond and go either way around the loop? Now in the afternoons onwards, all trains through Richmond go clockwise? I am sure there is a reason, but it is not very helpful to me.

I will just take this opportunity to forecast that Yarra Trams will retain the franchise to run Melbourne's trams, but the train company Connex is a publicly poison name to the state government. Maybe Connex hasn't done a great job, but most of the blame must surely be sheeted home to the state government. Connex can operate with what they are given.

Interesting to hear on the news that Connex are reluctant to pay an end of year bonus to their staff. Well, why would they if they won't be around. Matters little really, a new company will arrive with razzamatazz, but your train will still either be cancelled or late and certainly overcrowded. It will take a long time before the trains can be sorted out and a lot of political will. Perhaps a glance at what Nifty Nev did in NSW in the early eighties might be helpful.


iiNet is a smallish and quite innovative company, I am led to believe. This story of outrageousness should have been in the news section of the newspaper, rather than tucked away in business.

iiNet has taken on the task of testing the government's ridiculous internet filter, to prove that it won't work well and will slow the internet. Big tech companies like Telstra and Optus won't take the task on.

Now you naughty people downloading movies and tv shows illegally, have caused a specifically set up organisation called Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft to take you on. Who is your isp? Telstra? Optus? Netspace? A big one? You can sleep soundly. This organisation is taking on the smaller iiNet, alleging that they are not taking any action to enforce their own policies about illegal downloads.

No messing about with the barristers that Telstra and Singtel have at their fingertips. Take on a minnow.

Poor Ben

This is a very local post. But poor Ben, Ben Cousins that is. Dearest blogger of the past, the lovely Rosanna said about him the last time I mentioned him, that he is so gorgeous, that she could just eat him up. Nice way of expressing it really. I could make a meal of him for sure. He is a hot guy.

For one moment, I will stick my old cynical persona on the shelf and believe.

The lad, footy player Ben, used to like to indulge in some mood altering substances. Who am I to criticise?

No football team will pick him up to play.......well, he is 30, and not exactly at his prime.

He has gone through drug rehab and has come out now as a clean and yet commercial interests dominate. Advertisers think he is risky. Not prepared to support a footy team who takes him on.

This is a massive rejection for someone who has worked hard to kick his vices. If he goes back to drug use, or even worse is not inconceivable, point the finger firmly at the AFL and the football teams' management.

But what may keep him going is he has been making a a doco for tv on his rehab that will rate its socks off.

Late rumour. He may be signed up by Richmond.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Mayor Doyle

As you can see below I did start to write about our new City of Melbourne Mayor soon after the result was clear. Now I just conclude that because he wants to re-open Swanston Street and cannot because it is not the wish of his fellow councillors, and get rid of the marvellous new tram super stops, that actually improve traffic flow, he is simply a tosser.

Melbourne's new Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle wants to ban untalented buskers in the city. There are a couple, but they are like a bit needy types. Let it be Robert, let it be. I think they are already heavily controlled anyway and have to audition at least to get a permit.

He also wants to open Swanston Street to motor cars. This is very contentious and the knee jerk reaction is no, no, no.

But let us have a close look at Melbourne's premium street, Swanston Street.

At the moment, it probably works well for pedestrians, for aggressive taxi drivers, delivery vans and horses and carts.

It certainly does not work well for cyclists and our very important form of public transport, trams. Theoretically, cars should not be in Swanston Street until 7pm, but that is not policed. After 7pm, cars cause havoc to tram schedules, especially towards the end of the week.

As a through passage for traffic, I cannot see a sound argument. Traffic when reaching Flinders Street either turns left or right, and they don't seem to re-enter Swanston Street when they are allowed to.

And the winner is.......

Andy wins the prize for a new logo for the merged BA and Qantas. Not only was his the best entry, it was the only one. So much for cartoonists who read my blog. Must admit, Andy's logo is pretty funny. The new airline Bantas will need to contact Andy if they wish to use it.

Now the prize.......ah, not much around the highrise to give away. Perhaps I can do for Andy what he is always nagging his girlfriend for. Give it a good scrub first pls.

Tim Holding

I watch Timmy with interest as he seems to be the only snoggable member of our state parliament, if you look at the members from a gay perspective. At least he has a vague idea of how to do something with his hair. Googling him brought up precious little, except that he is very devoted to politics. Do I hear the word subjugate? Is my fetish for Timmy recent?

A search won't bring up my first picture post of him, but I see one I wrote one early this year. Ah, just came across, Raelene, Where the Wild Thoughts Are, back in 2004? I can't remember what you wrote, but I sounded complimentary.

Back to Timmy. In my search, I came across this story from the papers, back in 2005. To save you the tedious read, here is a snip.

In interviews, Holding seems every bit the professional politician: intense, polished, articulate, guarded. Ask him about his working life, and his answers are sharp, peppered with references to Labor Party values and the passion he holds for his job. Personal questions are met with a stiff awkwardness.

"I take the view that in public life, people aren't interested in your private life. I've tried to avoid getting out there and telling the Tim Holding story because I don't think people are really that interested. I think they're interested in the substance: what are you going to do and why," he says.

Actually Tim, I am interested but you hold your cards very close to your chest.

I have heard no rumours, not a whisper, so I reckon Tim is not gay, just married to the job. Believe me?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Qantas and BA to merge?

I have a vision of the Union Jack tied to the tail of the flying kangaroo, but any combination of the UJ and FK would be amusing to me, if anyone feels so inclined.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Another One Down

Today's politicians are quite different to yesteryears. In most ways they were the same, but in some ways they were quite different. So I lament the passing of a neighbour, Frank Crean.

I used to see him on a tram in St Kilda Road often and exchanged greetings with him once or twice. Gentleman is a word not favoured in today's times, but he truly was.

Pig in the Trough

I have seen it all before. A married guy decides he is gay at a late age and comes out with a vengeance and turns into a drug taking, sex pig, party animal. It shouldn't be a great revelation to him that he is gay, as he has been playing around with guys behind his wife's back for years.

Ok, our ABC's Peter Lloyd may not fit into this category, but on the face of it............

He was treated quite leniently by Singapore's justice system. He knew not to make a fuss and made sure no one else did either. He played the game well once he was caught. Lucky and perhaps smart man.

Am I being too harsh? I do concede that post traumatic stress could have led to some silly decisions.

As he is unavailable to work, our ABC has terminated his employment. This was way too premature. Obviously ABC thought it was a good corporate decision (I hate it when government institutions make good corporate decisions).

You, ABC, are disgraceful for publicly terminating him in such a way. If there was a request for a statement, you could have just said, we will consider our options when he is released.

Of course this is all complicated by whether he is staff or contract. I would guess staff, but we never know nowadays who is staff, stringer or contract at our ABC.

Target 155

Our state government has suggested that we limit ourselves to 155 litres of water per day per person. We come in under that, just, but then we don't have a garden to water. I felt guilty when I read Daniel's post, but then it is not really apples and oranges. We are two people here all the time.

Our consumption is around 295 litres per day, so that is 148 litres per day each.

The dishwasher is used almost daily but it uses very little water, far less than any other model we have had. It is nearly always full, but if not, I will put in perhaps some glasses from the auto trolley that are getting dusty or bits of the range hood.

Our washing machine is a top loading model, three years old, so not good to change for water saving reasons if other environmental matters are taken into account. Perhaps six loads of washing a week.

R showers twice a day, I would average 1.5 times a day over a week. They are rarely long showers, usually less than three minutes. We have tried water saving shower heads of many varieties and hate them. We have tried flow restrictors and hate them also.

Where we really go wrong is no fault of ours. Ten litres of run off before hot water arrives at the tap.

We don't use hot water for handwashing. It is such a waste of water and time waiting.

But say four showers, twice hot water at the sink is sixty litres, or thirty each. Make it forty as we might once a day each want hot water at the bathroom basin. Subtract that from 147 litres and we are down to 107. With water saving showerheads, we could perhaps knock it down to one hundred, but I ain't doing that.

I grew up in the country where we often lacked water and bathed in a couple of inches of muddy water and you would have a complimentary tadpole in your glass of water. I didn't expect to almost live in the city proper of Melbourne in 2008 but if I had imagined it, I am sure I would have expected plentiful water.

Interest Rates

The bank housing loan interest rate has dropped again. We have had nine mortgages in our time and we were in there up to our necks when the rate reached over 17% (it wasn't quite as bad as it sounds, different times).

Never once have we ever fixed the rate. From what have observed, each time, we would have lost as against the variable rate. Occasionally I have been asked my thoughts on the matter, and I always opine either no, or no longer than one year. While economics might be a bit like astrology, the banks employ some pretty smart people and the banks are there to make money. If they are offering a cheaper fixed rate term, then they have some good knowledge of where things are headed. This of course takes no account of the security of mind that a fixed rate offers.

But, we are about to be paying the lowest interest rate that we have ever paid and that is a good feeling. And, for once in my life, I don't have credit card debt, although with a new car pending and murmurs in the highrise about new furniture, that won't last long. Fortunately, mentions of overseas holidays have not been heard for a bit over a week.

Our computer is now five years old and I will say it has been excellent, but it does feel tired at times While I back everything up all the time, at five years old, it could just fail and we would be sure to lose some stuff, so our christmas present to each other will be a new one. Cost about $800.

Monday, December 01, 2008

What's in a name

As mentioned once or twice before, sometimes at work non first language English speakers ask me questions about English. I always try to help and explain as best I can, but often I am forced to just tell them, that is how it is. There is no reason why it is like that.

One recently asked me why Warragul and Warrigal are differently spelt. Here are a few more that come to my mind.

Warragul and Warrigal

Armadale and Armidale

Surry Hills and Surrey Hills

Waverly and Waverley

Any more to add?

A responsive local council

Sometimes you have little wins. So don't just whinge, complain directly and point out solutions. I don't have any answers to the big picture things perhaps, but I do sometimes have answers to smaller matters.

Most of my complaints about City of Port Phillip are directed at the council. I have had quite a few dealings with staff and I would go so far as to say that they bend over backwards to oblige within the limitations of what is imposed upon them.

I was seeking a similar treatment to Bowen Crescent as has been done by City of Melbourne at Dorcas and Coventry Streets in South Melbourne at St Kilda Road. The treatment does not hinder cars but defines where they should be on the road and gives pedestrians a refuge in the middle.

At the other end of Bowen Crescent, it is just a matter of putting in better line marking. This should have been done the last time the intersection was attended to.

Bowen Crescent, Melbourne. Traffic Management

Bowen Crescent, Melbourne. Traffic Management

Thank you for your email of 30 August 2008 expressing your concerns on the crossing of Bowen Crescent by pedestrians and vehicular access into Bowen Crescent from Kings Way. I would like to apologise for the delay in responding to your concerns. Please be advised that these matters have been investigated.

The City of Port Phillip has a strong focus on the safety for the more vulnerable road users within our municipality such as pedestrians and cyclists. Council has funded several projects to improve the safety in these areas. Please be advised that your proposal to narrow Bowen Crescent at St Kilda Road will be added to a list of pedestrian safety projects which will be considered for funding in future minor capital works programs.

The concern you have raised about the intersection of Bowen Crescent and Kings Way will be addressed by the provision of line marking and painted chevron road marking to provide improved delineation for those vehicles both entering and leaving the intersection. Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.

If you require any further information and clarification please contact myself, on

You have voted

Well, a new Lord Mayor for Melbourne by the name of Robert Doyle. More on him in following days.

I can't believe what has happened in my town, City of Port Phillip. The results are not official yet, however, it seems that there is only two sitting councillors left, ex mayor Janet Bolitho in the ward of Sandridge, that is the Port Melbourne area and Judith Kleppner in the uncontested ward of Albert Park.

Unchain St Kilda got a member up in the St Kilda area ward of Catani and another in Ormond who clobbered Mayor Janet Cribbes.

Junction ward got a Greens Party member up and defeated the way too high profile Dick Gross. Well done Mr John Middleton.

Btw, there was an error in a previous post. I am not in the new Junction ward. For some odd reason, most of St Kilda Road was put in the new ward, except for a small section which was kept in Emerald Hill. Also, remember one of the candidates I featured, Anna Griffiths. I have since found out that she is actor Rachel Griffith's mother. I like Rachel's politics.

In my own ward of Emerald Hill, my duplicitous member Peter Logan was knocked off by an ex City of South Melbourne mayor Frank O'Connor, who I don't know a lot about, although the owners corporation of the building has had some contact with him and he made some positive noises, but then don't they all. I suspect he might be a bit of a Tory and very pro business.

We live in interesting times.