Saturday, April 26, 2008

Our Diggers Day

I regained consciousness this morning in time to snap this mayhem below at 6.45 this Friday, ANZAC Day. At one point the traffic was banked back along Toorak Road from Punt Road to St Kilda Road. You don't even see it this bad if the Burnley Tunnel is closed. The pedestrians and cars were all people leaving the Shrine. It was all over in twenty minutes.

We then did the Lake, Albert Park Lake. When I say we did the Lake, I do not actually mean we walked around it. I mean we walked to it. That was enough for someone who regained consciousness, rather than woke up. We sat and watched the birds on the lake. I heard a bit of squawk above us, and lo and behold, there were a pair of rainbow lorikeets. Did they have a nest under the tin? Wrong time of the year I think. It must have been their food storage bin. The tin encircling the tree is to stop possums climbing into the trees. I like palm tress in context. I hate them in Melbourne.

By noon we were at the Kew cemetery with friends to see where Dame M is buried. The family crypt did not match my mental image. I imagined something like in this picture. Kew Cemetery is nice enough, but very jumbled in places.

Dame M is on the right when looking at the grave, on top of her mother who is on top of someone else. Attending were us, the brother friends, the dyke friends, the Boarder and the Boarder's hair dresser surviving breast cancer friend. Dame M loved glitter. She used to slip it into greeting cards and it fell out all over you when you opened the card. Once I complained about glitter everywhere at home when the brother friends dressed here for a special outing. Dame M said she loves to see glitter on her carpets and be reminded of parties and fun times.

We did the flower thing for her funeral, so this time we sprinkled glitter all over her grave. The camera does not capture how pretty it looks. One hundred year old Agnes in the grave next door got a fair share too, thanks to some gusts of wind. Bet Agnes never partied like that before. Maybe it was the wind playing tricks, but we are sure we heard a voice coming from Dame M's grave, 'I am as dry as chip in here. Anyone got a drink?'

Kew Cemetery office was closed, but they have this nifty electronic grave finder. It even does print outs. Being electronic, you would think it would be regularly updated, but Dame M was nowhere to be found. Oddly I recalled Dame M's mother's maiden name, Warhurst, and one of the brother friends recalled that her first name was Cora. Eureka. None of the names on the grave are Dame M's name as we know it. We worked out who the people were, and on this Anzac Day, one of Dame M's uncles died in France in wartime, no doubt fighting for King and Country.

We all then spread out, looking at different parts of the cemetery. Being a stalker type, I came across this tribute to a dead lad who I immediately recognised as a Xavier Boy. Wonder how he died? I googled him when I got home and there were a couple of mentions of his death at school sites, but nothing in the press, so I would assume either suicide or medical. Such a handsome young lad. What would it be like to lose a son/grandson/sibling/friend of that age?

We all then adjourned to the Skinny Dog Hotel at Kew Junction for lunch. I had heard of it. It used to be called the Greyhound. Meals were ok but the footy was on tv and got turned up. So, rather than hang around, we partook of coffee and cake at a nearby patisserie. To conclude, once again, I was out of my area and felt a bit alien. But this park looked gorgeous.

Friday, April 25, 2008

More Japanese Blossoms

I think the Hirosake cherry trees are now in full bloom. They look a picture in the late afternoon sun, like now.

Hopefully this direct link to the camera will work if you want to take another look.

My War

I should think every Australian of a certain age knows this song. It was about a war I remember, the Vietnam War, a horrible war with the only good thing to come out of it being conscription was abolished and unlikely to ever happen again and also that it taught Australians to be more cynical about war, the reasons for war and what politicians tell them and order them to do.

I can't hear this song without getting shivers down my spine.

The band was called Redgum and the lead singer was John Schumann who I recall ran for Federal Parliament and almost un-seated former Liberal Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer from his parliamentary seat.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Just for Lord Hughes of Fleetwood. But a ripper pic too

Miss/Ms/Ma Jahteh is getting me to do her dirty work. I expect Lord Hughes of Fleetwood was in a pub discussing a bit of broken Roman road found in the dirt on the day this happened, and never noticed it.

Jahteh, aka Copperwitch, the ever so intellectual, found this pic in one of her old New Scientist mags. I am just the messenger. But what a fab picture.

While governments and local councils can stop the Fleetwood to Blackpool tram, nature clearly is not in the running. Whatever the tempest, the Fleetwood to Blackpool tram presses on.

Digger Day and the All Nippon Army.

Tomorrow is Digger Day, or ANZAC Day. Cazzie gave it reference with some biscuit info, which sounds trivial but it is not. There is seriously heavy symbolism there. So did Daniel with at least one thing I did not know about The Great War. It was only called WW1 after WW2. The Great War was supposed to be the war that ended all wars. Sadly it was not.

For me it means hundreds of cars parked on our nature and median strips and damaging the now redundant sprinkler fittings. No water, no need for sprinkler heads, so no matter any more. Even the the parking fine rapacious City of Port Phillip dares not to book them on what I now consider to be our real Australia Day. It is the only the day of the year that Australians get a bit soppy and sentimental and feel a bit patriotic about our country.

I cry for the young men who so foolishly gave themselves to King and country and England. I normally am not given to bad language, but what a god damn fucking waste.

For you o/s readers, ANZAC stands for Australia and New Zealand Army Corp(s?). We were brothers in arms with NZ back then.

But you can't think of wars without thinking of the Japanese in World War II. ANZAC day is to commemorate all wars.

I asked our friend in Japan about her students' knowledge of the war and it pretty well came up blank. They did not know specifics.

I had a Japanese friend some ten years my junior a while ago and I asked him about his knowledge of WWII. He had some vague knowledge of it, but not informed. I pressed him harder and he had more knowledge than I thought he would. But he said, paraphrasing, it is history. It is irrelevant now and does not matter. We are a new generation. All old stuff of our parents.

While I am not giving specific references, I heard some things on the radio today, that if I was WWII vet, I could almost forgive the All Nippon Army for their mistreatment of honourable soldiers under extreme war conditions.

Ah well, Happy Digger Day tomorrow. It must mean a day off work for you or penalty rates at least. Shed a tear, and then move on to the real world, that seems to be collapsing around us.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mother Luxuriating

While some time ago, my mother had a blood pressure at its highest of 190/110, last week it dropped to perhaps 120/60. Four different blood pressure medications combined could do that to you I suppose. I, and the specialist who is treating her, conclude that her blood pressure doctor was mistaken, to say the least.

She has spent the last week, until tomorrow, resting in a local public hospital while her blood pressure and borderline diabetes is sorted out. We visited her last Sunday and she was unbelievably bright and happily held court to anyone who had the stamina. While she has been a bit bored at times, she seems quite happy to stay in hospital. But tomorrow they will discharge her.

It was a bit hard to get her admitted, but once she was, she had the best of care in our mostly wonderful public health system.

My step father is 80 years old and must still do odd jobs to supplement their pension. My mother would prefer him to stay at home, but they would really struggle without the extra few dollars.

But things are not good. Mother has heard about reverse mortgages and so there goes our inheritance. She wants, and needs really, some new weatherboards on her house, outside repainting, a new lounge suite, washing machine, bed, carpet clean, couple of light fittings and a car.

We calculated the amount to about $20,000.

I have done some research on reverse mortgages, or equity loans. Choice did some research last year and sister is going to look at it as she is a paid member. I would only feel safe with one of the big banks.

From what I calculate, she could probably have about $70,000 if she wanted, but I dare not tell her that. Her wardrobe will be full of expensive shoes again.

One serious sticking point is that it is her house, not my step fathers. He has no entitlement to it at all and if sums were done, he would owe my mother money. However, it is generally agreed by all that should my mother die before him, he would remain in the house. This would be a problem if a reverse mortgage was taken out, as once my mother died, the house would have to be sold.

I need to do more research, but any clues or experience?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Traffic Report

This is vaguely related to Daniel's post today.

We were living in Rosamond Street, Balaclava at the time. I heard on ABC Melbourne Radio traffic report, that there was an accident at the corner of Woodstock Street and Nightingale Street. I walked the couple of house blocks to the corner and peered down the street and nothing to be seen. My cynicism level about such reports was on alert.

Since then, I have been out driving and I have heard perhaps three or more traffic reports of an accident at such a such location and when I arrived there, nothing, not even evidence of a crash. Another I warned R about via sms when on his way home from work and he took no notice of me and there was no accident to be seen.

The latest was when I was home here, an accident at the corner of Toorak and St Kilda Roads. I have a perfect view of this vile intersection, so I walked out on the balcony and nothing to be seen.

Is there really much point in ABC Melbourne providing such useless information? My advice would be that by the time you hear of an accident at a certain location on ABC Melbourne, plough right on ahead and it will be a quiet location as the accident will be long gone and everyone else will be avoiding it.

And with another vaguely related, did I hear Hilary Harper, and ex ABC Melbourne traffic reporter disown ABC Melbourne's new look website? Did she pointedly point out that she was responsible for content, not the web site itself? I would do the same as the website is crap. Not that the old one was wonderful, but it was kind of functional.

There used to be a guest book, where I would now go and have a rant about the new website, but it is gone. Instead they want us to discuss issues and topics. Bah.

US Election

This could be a rant about why we are forced to endure the minute details of the face off in the US between Baracky and Hillsie.

But really, it is the most interesting thing I have ever seen about US politics. The players are colourful and it is terribly sad that one of two very good candidates will be wasted. One of them is going to be the President of the United States of America, and the other a piece of history.

The real election between the Democrats and the Republicans will be such an anticlimax. The result is surely a foregone conclusion.

Hillsie reckons she will best represent the workers, which I thoroughly approve of, but I doubt that she would get much of a result. She panders to extreme religious types and the gun lobby. These people need to see the error of their ways, not have tacit approval.

Baracky is a little more circumspect, in fact a bit critical. Maybe he has already written off winning that area. People still have an issue with his Moslem sounding name. Get over it. He is not going to endanger his wealth by blowing stuffs up.

Yes, both Baracky and Hillsie are seriously rich. Mixing it with the working class doesn't work well for me. Be it Australia, the UK or the US, I like my pollies to be a bit aloof from the commoners. They invariably are rich, intelligent and well educated and should behave as such.

Of course, whoever becomes President, not much will change. While we in Oz wonder about what is Federal and what is State and the waste of money that goes with duplication and varying laws, it is so much worse in the US.

My head says Hillsie, but my heart says Baracky. It is the only US election that I can recall that had really interesting candidates. May the best bloke(sic) win.

Monday, April 21, 2008

That time of the year again

Our friend who lives in Japan is in the far north of the island Honshu. The cherry trees bloom very late in her area. It may be tomorrow or the next day before the trees are at their peak, but they are pretty good now.

Have a look at the blooms via the web camera here. I find the Java camera best. You can take control of the camera. The castle looks great lost among the blooms.


1/ A US study recently concluded that drinking more water than just to quench your thirst was pointless, although not harmful.

I drink perhaps less than two litres of water a day. Less in winter, more in summer. I think a decent amount of water is needed to keep your liver and kidneys clean and to keep your skin and other organs hydrated. However, I have always thought it a bit odd that we are the only creatures who drink more water than just to quench our thirst.

2/ A Highriser study has concluded that wounds heal more quickly with a band aid over the wound.

When I was growing up, a band aid was needed to stop bleeding and protect a wound, but as soon as practical, the band aid would come off. Expose the wound to the air. It will heal more quickly, was the mantra. When I recently fell over, I kept the nastiest wound on my hand covered with a band aid for about a week. I am surprised how quickly it has healed. Even Dr Karl who was an 'expose it to the air' proponent has seen the light and believes wounds do heal more quickly with a band aid on.