Friday, September 12, 2008

Eurostar not on fire, but the tunnel was

I made an error in a previous post. I said that when we travelled on the Eurostar between London and Paris, we were travelling at 180kph. I was wrong. It would seem we were travelling at 180mph, considerably faster. No wonder it was so hard to see the French countryside.

By lunch time today, GMT plus 11, the Australian radio, tv and local online newspaper were awash with news of a fire in the tunnel between Dover and Calais.

I thought I would take a peek and see what the English online papers were saying. I checked two before I was distracted to something else. There was nothing in either paper.

It is now headline news at The Independent. Had I have got to the BBC, I would guess there would have been a report there.

Perhaps our media is not as bad as I might think, in fast reporting anyway.

Can't Choose Your Rels or What's in a Name

There is some sort of joke coming from the US. No one is telling us Aussies that it is a joke though.

Sarah Palin is beating the war drums with Russia as her target. She might be able to shoot a moose, but I think she is pretty naive if she thinks the Russain bear will be so easy and it is not such a good idea to poke at a Russian bear. She goes from not ever meeting the leader of another country to thinking about declaring war on Russia!!!

Have you heard what the names of Sarah Palin's children are? Try Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper and Trig. How cruel can parents be! Note Age letter writer, the name is Bristol not Dulux.

Sarah Palin's prospective son in law is called Levi. He looks like a good clean cut lad in photos.......well, maybe not.

From he who is about to be welcomed into the Palin family, his Myspace page.

"f---in redneck" who likes to snowboard and ride dirt bikes, but "I don't want kids",

"I like to go camping and hang out with the boys, do some fishing, shoot some s- -- and just f---in' chillin' I guess,"

"Ya f--- with me I'll kick [your] ass."

Be afraid America, be very afraid.

I suppose the difference between Australia and America is that people in the country in Australia and not so different to people in the city, but in the US, they seem miles apart. This can be the only explanation for the difference between people I know from the US and people who would vote for McCain and Palin.

Hittin' on a chick

When we lived in Balaclava there was an Australian/Italian family a few doors from us. Wife, husband and two grown up sons. The sons were hot as and also really nice guys to chat to.

The husband was in his sixties I suppose, dressed very conservatively but reasonably well including a tie, but had a severe limp, probably from polio.

Sometimes in a person of that age, you can see remnants of what they might have looked like when they were young. One of my favourite lines from a book, I forget which one, is 'there are the remains of a very handsome woman there', or something like that. I suggested one of our brother friends use the expression towards his boss, but as yet, he hasn't been game.

But in this elderly neighbour, I could not see a remnant of any attractiveness.

And yet, he very much fancied himself with the ladies. As he limped along the street, he would openly leer at them, he would try chatting them up, he would follow them. Even when conversing with them and they were clearly not wanting any attention, he would persist.

I felt like saying to him, 'hey old man, what makes you think an attractive young blonde lass would be interested in you?'

No matter how annoyed the young women may have been, I never saw any of them speak rudely to him.

I suppose all of you chickie babes, young and experiencing similar now, or have in the past when you were younger could all tell your tales.

Miss Diarist received some unwelcome attention recently. Read her tale here. So how have you all handled it?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

To matters more lighthearted

My Sydney friend sent this to me. He suggested that I was not past dancing and thought that seeing R and I dancing would be quite amusing. I should smack him in his synthetic lips and bust his many times reconstructed nose.

I don't often inflict stuff like this on you but I really like the clip. I have watched it three times over two weeks, and I had to translate guess German to bring it to you. I tried to embed it, but my lack of German and the possibility that there is not an embedding link mean you will just have to click on the link. Go Grannie.

PS, you have no idea how hard this was to publish. Sorry to all who might have received it multiple times in their reader. Hope it is right now.

VCAT Strikes Again

This headline could probably go permanently on a newspaper's front page and there would always be some content to add.

In spite of high interest rates and a dubious economic outlook, imagine the pride you might feel when you moved into your brand new house. While I don't approve of these poorly serviced huge outer suburban developments, I know why people buy and build in these locations and they certainly aren't to blame.

So, you are in your new house but then find that methane is coming up from the ground and you are forced to move out or risk going up like the Hindeburg.

How would you feel? Pretty annoyed I should think and start wondering how this has happened.

It would seem the developer, rapacious as they always are, wanted to build on the edge of what is referred to politely as a land fill site. I will just call it for what it is, a rubbish tip, or dump.

The local council objected as it thought it was an inappropriate location. The developer went to the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal and guess what? It was approved.

This is going to cost someone, no doubt us taxpayers an absolute bomb. It has already cost the local council $5 million, unfairly loaded onto the other rate payers.

But I have the solution to the cost. The developer pays half and members of VCAT, who approved the development against the wishes of the local council, pay the other half. This is the only way I can see to teach VCAT members to act in the interests of the community and not in the interest of their developer mates, big business, shareholders profits and other vested interests.

I always try to see both sides of arguments, weight up the evidence, and try to think well of people, but on this matter I will emotionally state the bleeding obvious, VCAT is a disgrace.

I'll even give it its own tag for future posts.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Edited Repost with a photo

I passed some interesting houses in Victoria Street, West Melbourne. High Street in Windsor is not the only place where frangipani grow. There were four houses in a row in Victoria Street with frangipani growing in their front yards.

The common factors? The houses face north and are solid brick. The warmth from the walls keeps the winter cold and frost off them and gives them plenty of heat in the summer. The High Street houses don't have verandahs. I don't think frangipani need a lot of water.

Frangipani seem to grow like weeds in Sydney, so if you are ever there or happen across the Melbourne ones, take a good sniff of the flowers. They have an exquisite scent. But in late Melbourne winter, they sure don't look much.

Shooting my brother or Childhood #35

I wouldn't last two seconds in my job if I wasn't able to control my temper. Who would really? But not everyone gets the provocation that I do.

I must have had a bit of a temper when I was a kid and I seem to recall that my brother nearest to me copped it a bit from me.

I once threw a shoe cleaning brush at him, and he being very quick on his feet, dodged away and it smashed a window instead. Sorry Mum, I bumped it with my elbow.

Hardly life threatening and I expect he deserved a lump on the head had I have aimed better.

It was a bit harder to explain the next damage I did to the house when aiming at my brother, a neat air rifle hole through my bedroom window.

My father believed in guns and thought it was a good idea to buy us an air rifle and teach us how to use it properly and safely, and he did. Pity he did not factor in childhood emotion.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Hummer with Melbourne's Finest at the wheels

Hummer meant something else when I was young, but I never found out what, so I don't know if I ever did a hummer or received one.

A Hummer is one of those ridiculously large American vehicles initially designed for the army to use while on 'peace keeping' missions. They have littered our streets in limited numbers, and try as I might, I sometimes fail to ignore a stretch Hummer when I see one. I don't want to be caught looking at one in case someone thinks I am admiring it.

But not since Melbourne City Councillor Fiona Snedden proposed to dump sand on the bank of the Yarra River to make a beach have I heard such nonsense as our police force being leant five Hummers by the dealer to use as a visual deterrent against violence and bad behaviour in and around nightclubs in the city.

"Sorry cadets, can't give you a payrise this year, but here are some fun vehicles to tear around the city streets in. Don't worry about the fuel costs, the taxpayer will pay".

Somewhere in Melbourne there may well be a person who says we have enough police in our fair city. Somewhere, not sure where. No one I speak to.

Sadly another person has died after a violent assault outside a city nightclub. This is just a year since another person died in similar circumtances just fifty metres away.

When I first started legally driving, this car was a visual deterrent to bad behaviour on the roads, and it worked pretty well.

Pic courtesy an interesting site,

Even now, one of these modern versions cruising the city streets might be more of a visual deterrent.

But really what is needed is brawler vans to chuck people into. A few of those cruising the streets might change some behaviour.

And none of this wishy washy, 'don't do it again'. Charge them. Do the paper work, meaning the police crew is then off the street. Only then might the state goverment realise there just is not enough police in our city and state.

Police say alcohol was not involved in the latest assault and death. So R did call it correctly straight away, drugs. And forget the phrase 'alcohol fuelled violence', or 'drug fuelled violence'. It is violence in its simplest and purest form and should not be tolerated.

Bring back ecstasy tabs I say. At least everyone loved everyone back then.

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Toppy moves

After a few days, R decided that the Topfield digital recorder might have been a bit of overkill in his bedroom and suggested it was better suited to the lounge room, so it is now in the lounge room.

It took me some time, but I finally worked out what we really needed and the Toppy is ideal for the lounge room. We can tape two shows at once if we want, or watch one taped show while taping something, delay tv shows and catch up. It does all sorts of amazing things and I am learning one thing about it each day now that is conveniently in the lounge room.

Our thought processes kept getting polluted by old vcr stuff. What if we taped something on the vcr and wanted to watch it..........and the thought drains away.

Because, I had decided to buy a dvd recorder with an inbuilt vcr for R's room. I can transfer all tapes to dvd easily and he will have a more modest pvr than the Toppy, but appropriate to his requirements.

He priced one yesterday, a Panasonic, at $425. I hoped to pay a bit less. I thought I would check ebay and there one was, same brand and model, used, top bid was around $150. I had a good read of its features and it sounded perfect. I would have like more time, but bidding ended in 13 hours, so I put in a top bid of $200 and arrived home from work this morning for lunch to find that I had bought it for $184. It should arrive Wednesday. Another battle with slightly different technology. It is frustrating yet very satisfying when you get something to work.

And some advice. If you are going down the road of a new personal digital recorder, try using the supplied AV cables rather than be talked into an expensive HDMI cable. Even if you do end up getting one, I don't see any good reason for buying anything more than the cheapest. Buying an expensive one was explained to us as 'future proofing'. Since when have you been able to future proof with technology these days? R did return some cable thingy to HN and got his $35 back. I think it was something to do with connecting a vcr. We did not ask for it, and as I said, I was keeping my mouth shut.

Helping a Mate

Just a short stroll from home is this new war memorial. I am pleased to hear that City of Port Phillip is to spend some money on the maintenance of existing war memorials throughout the city. This one is in the City of Melbourne area though.

It is called Cobbers, in memory of those who fought and fell in the Battle of Fromelles, 19-20 July 1916. Cobber was a word my grandfather often used but you don't hear it too often now.

If you just happen to be at the Australian Memorial Park in Fromelles, France, you can see the first cast of this statue, which has been there since 1998. The sculptor was Peter Corlett.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Happy Dad's Day

My father was very clever and his knowledge of many matters often surprised me, especially given he did not read much and did not watch telly but he must have when read when he was younger. Not only was he knowledgeable, he was very practical and technically minded. He had a very tough upbringing with his mother, the Bolter, running off to Sydney with one of her music students and he more a less bringing up his three brothers and keeping house. Unlike his brothers who attended tech schools, he went to high school and learnt things like Latin, heavy mathematics and obviously hand writing. Where he learnt to be such a graceful dancer, I have no idea. His school must have been Camberwell High School, as the social climbing Bolter insisted that the family rent a house in Camberwell with a croquet lawn. A couple of fifties or sixties houses now sit on the Lorne Grove site.

Only later life when we sometimes sat with a bottle of scotch did if ever really express any personal feelings. Even after R and I were together for over ten years, he ignored the elephant in the room and sometimes mentioned that he had come across a 'lass' somewhere who would make a good wife.

Towards the end of his life, I challenged him on many things, but I never mentioned the 'g' word. In some ways I wish I had, but really, it would have pushed him into a corner from where he would be unable to extract himself. I asked my step mother a few years after his death about his refusal to see what was blatantly in front of his eyes, and she told me that he knew, but just did not want to admit it.

He did not live long enough to not acknowledge his daughter also preferred a partner of the same sex. Sister would not even tell him about her considerable sporting successes and forbade me to mention that she played football.

As a teen, I was insanely jealous of my father and step brother's relationship. The could talk about all sorts of things, joke, laugh. Many things he never did with me. It did come to head one day after a, unlike me, very emotional outburst. I was reassured that I was far more important to him than my stepbrother. He explained how he saw my step brother more as a mate than a son. Later in life, he treated R the same as my step brother, as a mate.

I was going to write a light hearted anecdote about him as a Father's Day post and it has gone all wrong. I can't even recall the anecdote now.

He was far from perfect and only ever showed emotion after several drinks. He failed to connect emotionally with all of us children and my mother. I lay no blame on him for the failed marriage though. My mother was equally responsible, if not more so.

When he died in 2000, after an extended illness with cancer, I felt nothing. I felt sadness for my stepmother, but then she had lost him as the man she knew some time earlier. He died at home in the care of my stepmother and the occasional visit by a nurse.

I don't miss him, but gee at times, I wish he was around for a good chat.