Friday, August 22, 2008

Talk back calls

The Olympic Games don't interest me much. ABC Melbourne radio is broadcasting them at certain times. I normally only ever switch between JOY, our local gay FM radio station and ABC Melbourne on the AM band, that is our taxpayer funded local radio station that is not dissimilar to BBC radio. I will say that ABC's broadcast of the Games is first class and a certain commercial television station should take a lesson.

But I have been doing some dial hopping, looking for something to entertain me. I caught Hughesy and Kate on NOVA breakfast. Quite entertaining. I like Dave Hughes' laconic sense of humour. I caught some nice soothing music on ABC Classic FM but what I have rediscovered is ABC Radio National. You do have to pick and choose your programs, but wow, can they make the driest of subjects interesting and I have learnt rather a lot in the last couple of weeks. Even its talk back callers seem to be more sensible than you would normally hear on radio.

One day I bravely tuned into 3AW and after what I heard, I worry terribly that they are such a high rating radio station. The advertising is intolerable, five minutes of ads in a row, for retirement villages, funerals, the Grey Army, whatever that is, financial advisors oozing with sincerity. And then there is Ernie Sigley. He was mildly amusing years ago when he was on tv, but really, he is not a proper radio presenter. I can't really say much more without sounding like a terrible snob.

Which brings me to a few rules for talk back callers.

Do not waste time and ask the presenter how they are. If they were sick, they probably would not be there and even if they were, they would be moaning about how ill they are.

Nor should you thank them for taking your call or thank them for the opportunity. The producer decides whose calls to put to air, and in ABC Radio's case, they go to air in order, if they are relevant to the subject.

Do not have your radio on while you are on hold and waiting. Because of the delay, you will miss your cue and upset the whole works.

Have a clear idea of what you want to say before you call and listen to what the presenter is actually saying and not just get out what you want to say. It is their show.

The one that is bugging the most at the moment, is when people say, 'Can I say that on national radio?' or, 'I can't say that on national radio'. Except for Radio National, you are not on national radio, only local radio.

Since the name changes from 3LO to ABC Melbourne and 3AR to Radio National, it should be obvious that ABC Melbourne means just that, although it does get into the country, interstate even. ABC Victoria means just that. Radio National means what it says. Radio Australia is our propaganda international service. Not too hard really.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Just a day

It was a freezing cold day today in Melbourne. Not only cold, but it rained most of the day. This must be a good thing for our drought starved city. Unlike the heat, the cold does not normally bother me, but today it got to me and what should have an interesting photo taking excursion in North Melbourne, was put on hold until the weather is better. It was enough to get my hair cut in Fitzroy and buy Hugh Lunn's Spies Like Us at the ABC shop at the old city GPO.

I was in the proper city post office yesterday, and ran into an old friend who is working there. He insisted we exchange phone numbers and suggested we should catch up for a drink. I really should not be so anti social, but I hope he was as sincere as I was. The shallow gay focused conversations and laughs we used to have are in the past. I really worry though, at my anti social tendencies. Having said that, we are out for dinner at a fish restaurant in Glenferrie Road Malvern tomorrow night with friends. As often happens, I will change clothes at work and bash off for dinner in a less than refreshed state. The joys of shift work.

R is bothering me about a new car for him, and his old car for me. The least I could do was go and look at a Mazda 3 at City Mazda. I had the location on a note in my pocket and as I walked up William Street, I came across this nice planting of prunus trees. I then realised it was in front of our friend's Fijian Indian boyfriend in South Oakleigh's workplace. In spite of me taking manual control of the camera, the scene looked better in real life than in the photo.


Australia's Liberal Party, known in the UK as the Tories, and possibly in the US of A as Republican, are in disarray. They are out of office Federally and in every state of Australia. They cling to power with governing the large metropolis of Brisbane, that place in the north of Australia where it is too hot for you brain to work.

No matter how inept Labour governments seem to be, no one is voting Tory. I doubt that they aren't being voted for because they are a party for big business, the self made man, small successful business and wanna bees.

Mother's Day 27/05/08

Forget Mother's Day for me. Working and earning penalty rates to bulk up my meager pay is more important.

The Scary about Blogs 01/05/08

I had no idea when I first started blog writing that you would actually connect with people. Two people on my blog list actually know who I am and I have spoken to them, sort of. But I don't know them on a personal level.

The rest are quite remote. Do I want to speak to them or meet them? I have had plenty of opportunities in the past, but it never worked out work wise.


I am not keen on Andy Muirhead who hosts the Collectors show on ABC Tv. R loves him with a passion. He, Andy, is also a performing stand up comedian and breakfast host on Hobart's local ABC radio.

The first thing I look at in people is their face.

Small World 24/04/08

Sometimes life is just too weird. I came across this dude called Andrew Highriser, same name as me, and lo and behold, we are the same age and I could be his twin.

What did you do wrong? 27/01/08

I will go to my grave thinking of this and so I ought to. I really need to be punished for this.

Deliberate or accidental, I cannot remember, but I think deliberate.

I rode my bike over a blue tongue lizard. Blue tongue lizards are marvellous critters. We had a pet one that lived under a tank when we were kids. It used to pop up to say hello to us every evening when we were sent off to collect a billy of milk.

So why when I saw one on the road, did I feel the need to ride my cycle over it and make its guts bulge out of its side?

I have never had any doubt that I will go to hell when I die, for that I deserve to.

Pride B4 Fall 08/01/08

See the B4. I know modern stuffs hey, except it took longer to type because I had to think about it. Just typing before would have been quicker. Same goes for texting on the mobile telephone instrument. It is quicker for me to write the full word.

Ah yeah, what is the post about. Pride before fall. I like to be very careful with pride and please don't add a comment of praise. I am unworthy.

Apart from an almost successful relationship with R and living in quite a nice place, I don't think I have achieved much in my life. I have made many mistakes. R will give you a long list upon request.

But gee I get off on making blog friends with such a diverse range of people. I won't list anyone because I will forget someone, but Asia, US, UK, straight and gay, oldish and young, high flyers and low flyers, pimps and whores (no, hang on, not got any of those and I did not mean you Steph), local people and foreign people.

Ageing Actors 02/01/08

Actors of the female variety, that is. Pants reckons only Dame Judi Dench is allowed to age in the UK. I don't think any female actor in the US is allowed to age (not entirely true, but the star actors don't age). Australia, as usual, falls somewhere in between.

Sue Johnston, Joan Plowright,

The Diary 30/12/07

I don't keep a diary. I wrote some words in my blog description of my blog being some sort of online personal diary. I never realised what a resource it would become.

Matters Cultural 27/08/06

After seeing a movie in town on Saturday night, we walked down Swanston Street from Latrobe to Collins Street. Serious lack of trams in both directions. The street was chockers with Asians and Indians. We did spy an Anglo Aussie couple and like passing Rolls Royce drivers, we faintly acknowleged each other. We were rare.

Bring back the days of firing a cannon down Bourke Street, I say. Except there wouldn't be anywhere to eat and there wouldn't be the movie theatre.

But it just occured to me, while the City was full of Asians and Indians, Lygon Street, Chapel St and Fitzroy St were probably full of Anglos, Meditteranian and Lebo types. Box Hill and Victoria Street was probably full of Asians and older Anglos walking on the wild side.

Things used to be much simpler.

I did see a nice, no amusing, no, normal thing today. Some Asian people arrived at the Studley Park Boat House. They spoke like Aussies and they starting kicking an oval football around.

Racialism 19/06/06

Obviously I read the wrong blogs. I have never come across any racism on any blog I regularly read. This pleases me. Mine is more racsist perhaps than anyone else's that have I read. I am not paricularly racist, although I am concerned about the number of moslems in Australia and those really dark Africans who live in the western burbs. But then the moslem thing is as much as I don't like any religous extremism. Actually, I don't think much of religion at all.

What I am really concerned about is the population increase in Australia when we don't seem to have enough water for us who are already here. Your average Melbournian uses something like twenty per cent less water than they did a generation ago. (I doubt this statistic. Has the figure been adjusted to take into account how many more people live in apartments now. How smaller new house blocks are?)

If forced to, I could without serious hardship but with serious inconvenience, reduce my water consumption by 25 per cent, but that is about it. I grew up on land where water was very precious and let me tell you, washing clothes in dirty water, having an inch of water in the bath, carting water outside for the garden, trying to get grease of dishes with very little water is no fun at all.

If we live in a sophisticated city, in a first world country, then we should have adequate water supply. There is a limited quantity of water and when you have to split it more and more ways, then something is going to have to give.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Brace yourself Effie

Tomorrow I will publish several posts that were half written and never posted, for good reasons. I am sure I was trying to say something in them, but failed and I saved them to edit and finish later. Now I can't recall really what I was on about, so I don't expect you will understand them either.

To Tivo or not to Tivo

I have been into a few electronic goodies stores of late. When approached by the sales person, I just tell them that I am looking and they go away........well, mostly they go away.

I have realised that I need to write a list of my requirements for the newest techno beast for the highrise.

Tivo has been released in Australia, although commercial television interests have made sure it is a pared down version. I have judged Tivo as paying a bit extra for the name, and it does perhaps more than what we need and it is nearly $800. I am not interested in the Foxtel machine, as we would have to get cable tv, and I am just a poor worker who can't afford such luxuries.

Feel free to give advice and/or information. Below is what I need the machine to do.

1/ Either have a built in video player to transfer videos to dvd, or a reasonably simple plug and record system from our existing vcr.

2/ The highrise can presently record 16 hours of tv on two video machines at long play. Even when we were off on a long holiday and recorded eight hours, we never go around to watching it all. Anything more than 16 hours is superfluous and it does not have to be at high quality.

3/ I like what I hear when I hear that you can record a program and catch it up when you get home not long after the show has started, even while recording another. So that it three things happening.

4/ There may be an occasion when I want to burn a tv program from the hard drive to a dvd, so it would need that capacity at least and given point #1, it would.

I don't think we need anything too flash and it should not cost us more the a couple of hundred dollars.

What you reckon?

Clear the way or politics #101

Clearways seem to be all over the world, although my readers in foreign climes may know them as something else. Many main roads in Melbourne, especially those that have trams running along them, have clearways. They are two lane roads and during morning and evening peak traffic time, parking is not allowed in the principle direction of travel. The times are usually 7am to 9am and 4.30pm to 6.30pm.

This helps trams move immensely faster, and of course motor traffic. Take this as a given, and if you dispute it, prove to me otherwise.

The Victorian State Government plans to extend the times of clearways, thus speeding up trams over a longer period. This has got to be good. It also speeds up car travel times too. There is nothing like a car with an incompetent driver who is reverse parking into a tight space to delay traffic.

Most of our clearways are also tow away zones, that is your car gets towed out of the way to a compound and you pay big bucks to get it back. This seems to happen rarely but you are pretty lucky if you only get a fine and not the tow fees.

Don't quote me on this, but I think the extension times are 6.30 to 9.30 in the morning and 3.00 to 7.00 in the arvo/evening.

I see no point in bringing the morning time back to 6.30 but the adjustment from 9.00 to 9.30 would be helpful to public transport.

While the government says it is firm on the matter, it also says it open to consultation. That does sound like a government. I think they really need to hold firm on the planned evening changes, 3.00pm to 7.00pm. Protective parents don't want their children walking or using public transport to get to and from school, instead they jam up the roads for the 3.30pm school pick up.

Naturally shop keepers along the routes of the proposed changes are bleating loudly and even further congesting traffic with their 'block the street protests'. I have some sympathy for them, but if their business is built on someone being able to park in front of their shop, perhaps they should move their business to one of those sixties shopping strips in the mid to outer suburbs.

Local councils must be seen to represent the businesses located with their areas, so they are jumping up and down also. Residents in side streets are jumping up and down too, as they fear more parking by shoppers on their streets.

Back when City of Stonnington was much smaller and only the City of Malvern, they cleverly put in extended pavements in their principle shopping street, Glenferrie Road, thus preventing any point of having a clearway. Other councils should have been just as smart. Really smart councils bought up old housing at the back of shopping streets for carparking. I am not so sure that was a good thing. If you can park your car you will be much more tempted to drive to the shops.

For mine, it is time to make Punt Road a permanent clearway, extend the afternoon clearways time significantly and make two principal tram routes clearways, that is Burke Road for the length it has trams, and the same for Glenferrie Road, regardless of councils extended pavements.

Nearly forgot, the politics.........the affected inner eastern and southern suburbs, with the exception of the seat of Prahran are all conservative voting, so no loss of votes apart from a minor number in Prahran. Most of the shop owners live in solidly conservative voting seats.
North and west are safe Labor, so no problem there. Win win for the gov and a win for tram passengers.

Only in America #39

From San Francisco, and I thought our signs for not leaving children in cars in carparks at gambling venues were bad enough. The sign is attached to a dumpster.

Photo courtesy Adam Forbes.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Email from Dreaded Nephew in Hanoi

I wish I could say that he had a disadvantaged upbringing. But he did not. While I know not all kids are like this, I am really in despair, as all of my nieces and nephews are the same with their written expression. Even my sis in law, their mother, is the same. I sent her a late night challenging text.......will I ever learn not to send at night and save for the morning for review, and she replied, i take a fence at that, etc. Can nephew write properly? I really don't know.

Sis in law reported that nephew met up with some people and had a nice lunch and a few drinks at a beachside cafe in Phuket. They all then took a walk along the beach and stopped and sat and then all fell asleep on the sand. Someone went through all their stuffs while they slept. One lass lost everything down to passport, it all being in a handbag. Nephew lost phone and camera. No worry, insurance will pay.

He was only in Phuket because he was waiting for his visa for Vietnam. Given he had planned to go there, what a good idea to wait until you in Thailand to apply for it.

An sms arrived saying that he was having lunch in a beautiful place in Vietnam, looking across the water at mountains. I would guess Hao Long Bay, I think.

Here is a paste of what he sent in an email. You can almost understand it. He mentions land slides from floods, and yes, I read about the floods and many were killed in northern Vietnam and some in Laos too. I never really connected that he was there at the same time. It is actually a great email, full of colour, content and interest, but........

Oh yes, the Lao find his dreads fascinating and are constantly touching them.

neways when did i speak to you last mmm ahhh yer the 2nd day in sapa was awsome i went on a day trek with this tour guide n there was only 3 of us in the group so it was realy good. the photos of this joint are amazing n hopefully ill put them up tonite n tell ya how to get to them. But dont hold it to me, ill let you know when i put them up. but yer lernt heaps of cool stuff like the villagers have there own viagra - a snake in wine, they eat uncooked monkeys brains, awww well they eat anything actually. even the poor puppies that where running round our feet at lunch :( n he told some realy funny stories n shit like this villager that works at the coffee shop that doesnt have very good english. A tourish ordered a coffee n she asked for milk n the villager didnt know what she ment. finally worked out what she wanted n flopped her boob out n chucked some milk in hahahaha there was this one kid on the way that was running round with a big bug tied to a string. looked funny as n got a photo of it. but yer there are very very poor villagers around here n it was abit sad because the little girls try to sell you crafts too because they dont have enough money to go to school. on the way back to sapa from the villages we nilly stacked the bike so many times because from all the landslides from the floods n the mud all over the road made it realy hard, scary but fun as :) overall my trip to sapa was amazing, im realy glad i went up there. was a perfect time too because there was stuff all tourists up there n i got all the attention :)

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Project

The basement area of our building is huge and it contained very little, just a couple of sump pumps and the rest just four areas of open space. It was not properly lit and is quite damp and a small amount of water flows around where the walls join the floor on its way to who knows where.

Contractors put up barriers and gates so a smaller area of the basement could be turned into a another bicycle storage area. There are two already and they are overfull of bikes. With 55 new spaces, one small area could be closed and the project should storage proof the building for bikes well into the future, or until we have to all sell our cars because we can't afford petrol.

The electrical contractor came and installed lighting on a sensor. The main door's closing damper was slowed right down to give time to get a bike through the door.

A working bee was organised and five of us slogged away painting the ceiling and walls. We painted until we ran out of paint. The paint shop had estimated how much paint would be required for unpainted walls and ceilings and we needed double that amount, a total of 60 litres.

So, it was only half painted and two people finished it off over a few nights one week.

The installer of the bike hooks and stands fitted his equipment, and I guess it was him who supplied this nifty pump.

We are pretty pleased with our efforts.

The wall hooks are somewhat less substantial than in the other bike storage area, but I guess they will do the job. Along the wall is a gutter where water flows to a drain hole. Since the area is below ground level, I guess the sump pumps take care of the water.
It will take some time to fill the whole area with bikes. Note the sewerage pipes. The make marvellous gurgling and water like noises. One does not want to imagine is flowing through them. This area is about a quarter of the total area under the building. One resident's son wants to hold a dance party down there. But the acoustics are awful, even just for talking.
The lonely Highriser Apollo sits forlornly in the corner.
I guess the contractor threw the pump in. He ought to have anyway. My $2 plastic bike pump has seized, and my tyres were flat, so I couldn't ride my bike. Well, that excuse won't wash any more.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


When I started my blog, I used Picasa to upload the occasional photos. I suppose blogspot had a photo upload system, but it wasn't obvious to me. Later I picked it up and did not bother with Picasa anymore and instead like so many do, I used Flickr. But Flickr is limited if you don't pay for it. Now I learn that Picasa has all my pictures archived and I can embed a slide show. Of course learning it and actually being able to do it, are two separate matters.

The above was written a week or so ago. I set up Picasa and embedded the slide show into my blog and I have taken a second look at it to see if I can alter it, but it would seem not. The problem is that it starts showing the same photo each time and goes in the same order each time. So I, and anyone looking, only sees the same photos.

I have just uploaded two hundred of my latest blog photos to Flickr and I will put the Flickr slide show back soon. Flickr will only show the latest 200 photos, but at least at random.