Saturday, September 27, 2008

Lucky I worked

04.00 Sister arises and travels to MCG to buy a ticket for a seat at the football match because she doesn't want to stand.

06.30 Highriser recovers consciousness and arises.

06.50 R arises.

07.30 Bone Doctor arrives and delivers Little Jo before she goes off to operate a circular saw on some unfortunate's leg.

08.10 Highriser departs for work after spending a short time playing with Little Jo.

10.00 Highriser sends a text to R asking if all is ok.

10.01 R replies and says step father is very ill and has been in hospital. Highriser fumes that mother 'did not want to worry him'.

10.02 Highriser has a free moment at work and asks R to call him.

10.03 R calls and says sister called in to see how things were and she has tickets for football match. R is also sitting in cafe opposite the highrise having a bacon and egg sarnie and coffee after taking Little Jo to Fawkner Park to play. R also says he will go and visit stepfather in Dandenong Hospital with Little Jo in the afternoon.

13.00 R texts to say he will take Little Jo directly home after hospital.

13.01 Highriser replies he will go to Murrumbeena and being supportive until sister gets back from football.

17.46 Highriser drives straight from work to Murrumbeena and no one is there, so he texts R. There in five, R replies.

18.00 R arrives with Little Jo.

18.10 Sister texts to say she is being breathalyzed and it will take her forever to get out of MCG car park.

18.15 Find some food for sister's cat who is hungry. Find some food for Little Jo who is hungry. Wash some dishes and clean benches. What a mess. Lucky sister, Bone Doctor and Little Jo are leaving it behind tomorrow to fly to Townsville to see Bone Doctor's granny.

18.25 Give Little Jo a bath.

18.45 Sister arrives home. Inform Sister that Little Jo has been an angel.

19.00 Leave sister's in seperate cars and travel home.

19.25 Have first chardy.

19.35 R crosses road to buy Chinese takeaway.

19.40 Highriser thanks R profusely for all he has done today.

20.00 Highriser has showered, had a couple of chards and food and feels almost normal.

20.05 While our relationship is not all beer and skittles, Highriser is very appreciative of the effort R puts into my family.

21.00 Highriser is in his usual place, at pc, and R is sprawled out watching The Bill.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Out and about in St Kilda #3

This is Bumblebee. That sounds masculine so I shall refer to the tram as a he. I saw him travel towards the Acland Street Terminus, so I waited a short time for him to return. I would be happy to see all our trams in a similar colour scheme, rather than the drab grey and boring white. These trams were built for the city of Mulhouse in France, but they weren't quite ready for them, so that is why we are able to lease them and hope they can assist carry the huge volume of tram passengers that we have at present. It would seem this is the colour scheme Mulhouse wanted and we are stuck with it, whether you like it or not.

Here it comes around the corner.
Later I took this shot in Fitzroy Street. Go on, click on the picture for a bigger view.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

We'll all be rooned

This capitalism system thingy seems a bit dodgy hey? Wall Street in trouble. Taxpayers expected to make up the losses that overpaid fatcats….well probably more likely expensively gym honed bodies…..have got their companies into. The profits have been taken and all that is left is for the losses to put back onto you average worker. Not quite how I thought balance sheets should work.

Ah well, apart from me being appointed as a dictator, I can’t think of a better system.

My church going grandmother was probably right. Don’t smoke, don’t drink, don’t gamble and don’t go with fast women. I picked up one of her items of advice. I have never gone with fast women, but, even so, I kinda like them too.

I really don’t like the idea of these Wall Street type shysters making money out of gambling. When people gamble, they pretty well lose, but I see no sign of this in this situation.

No, I think what they are doing is taking money away from someone or something. I would even call it stealing.

I better get to some sort of point.

Let the recession happen if that is what is needed to pull Wall Street types into line. Send them broke. Good. Bad institutions are being propped up with public money.

I can plant spuds in the garden, or a styrene box on the balcony. Let them do their worst.

USA President Bush informed us today about the end of the world if his plan of rescue for the US was not approved.

I say, call his bluff. The damage to the poor and gullible in the US has already been done, and he remained silent.

The Organ Pipes

Physically, Australia is a very old land, a very eroded old land. The Organ Pipes at the Organ Pipes National Park are a result of volcanic action and erosion. When we took our short drive to Sunbury, we called in to the Organ Pipes National Park on the way back. By this time the day was not so pleasant, with a cool and strong wind, and a hot sun. That we had stayed up too late and had too much to drink the night before after we were rid of Little Jo did not add to our stamina. We also realised that we are both getting old. It was a bloody steep hill to walk down and to walk back up. But we did it, and took a detour to see the Rosetta Rock. We gave the tessellated tile rock formation a miss.

This walkway is steep but at least paved. It turned to loose gravel and stone down lower.

The Organ Pipes.........don't ask me why this is underlined. Is that vandalism? White paint thrown at the rocks?

The Rosetta Rock.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

To GM or to not GM

I was, not concerned, perhaps more curious about our supply of Crisco (shut up faggots and clean your minds). We use Crisco peanut oil and canola oil. I have heard how so many cooking oils can be made from genetically modified plants.

Who makes Crisco? No less than Goodman Fielder and a quick check of their website indicated they also make Logicol margarine and Helga's bread, both of which we consume.

Now this is not about the good or bad of GM food. I just want to know what I am eating. If food has GM plants in it, I want to know and then I might decide whether to take the risk or not.

So, I emailed Goodman Fielder and within twelve hours they replied to me. I would guess it is a question they often deal with and it is a form letter. Sounds pretty ok to me, or have I missed something?

Good Morning Andrew,

Thank you for your enquiry concerning our company's position on genetically modified foods.

It is our policy that we will not supply food products that contain genetically modified material. In addition, we will clearly abide by any labelling requirements established by Australia's regulatory agency, Food Standards Australia New Zealand, and in line with the Trade Practices Act governed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Goodman Fielder in Australia and New Zealand continues to review all ingredients used in our consumer products, and as much as technically possible works to eliminate ingredients derived through genetic modification, through substitution, sourcing from areas where non-genetically modified crops are grown and IP systems.
For example actions taken by companies included:

" Products reformulated to remove genetically modified ingredients, e.g. removing soy fibre and replacing with wheat fibre.
" Ingredients sourced from countries or areas which do not grow genetically modified crops, eg corn from New Zealand.
" Ingredients sourced from suppliers that have identity preservation (IP) systems in place to segregate genetically modified and non-genetically materials

We have sourced ingredients from suppliers in line with our commitment not to provide food products that contain genetically modified material, which means that our products do not require labelling.

If you have any further questions please don't hesitate to contact us.

Kind Regards
Emily Beattie

Consumer Advisory Centre
Goodman Fielder Ltd

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Crowds

Perhaps I should move to Sunbury, where there is not the overcrowding, although I can imagine what it like when a huge number of buses start arriving to deliver students to Salesian College, and when the single land road connecting Sunbury to the Motorway to Melbourne is in peak demand.

R needed to attend a training course in Box Hill today and thought the best way to go was to tram or walk to Flinders Street Station and catch the train. His transport was uneventful except for the Connex employees moving people away from a painted area at the bottom and top of the escalators to the platforms at Flinders Street. Then I came across this in the electric newspaper. Note in the article, passengers being made to exit the western end of Flinders Street Station. A riot will ensue.

I became aware of the dangers of overcrowding in two instances in the early nineties. Once was at Mardi Gras in Sydney, the biggest attendance ever that year. We got caught in the thick of the crowds and god help anyone who needed medical help.

The other instance was at Chadstone shopping centre at christmas time when an escalator just kept feeding people down to area that was crowded. It was getting dangerous. We were younger and nimble of foot, but god help anyone older.

Well, get used to these dangerous type situations people. We are a big city now and we just keep growing without the necessary infrastructure or service people.

R was outraged over the cost of a daily ticket to Box Hill. It would have been quicker and cheaper in his car, except parking would have been a problem and may have cost.

I can't be bothered checking, but it is only one or two stations further on than Zone 1 and the price jump is nearly $4! But he did say that the trip was quite pleasant, as it should be when going counter peak and during school holidays.


We were at an antique furniture auction in High Street, Armadale in the late 1980s. My friend nudged me.

'Psst, over there. Sir Rupert Clarke and his wife. I saw their Roller parked outside.'

I observed a a short and dapper man with a tall and horsey wife with buck teeth.

Sirs were getting thin on the ground by the late eighties in Australia. We don't make them anymore, thank you Lizzie.

Over the subsequent years, I assumed Sir Rupert and Lady Clarke lived at Rupertswood in Sunbury, but no, they never did. His grandfather built it, but sold it to another famous bloke, William McKay of the Sunshine Harvester fame, who in turn sold it on to some nobody? called William Naughton and just a year later in 1927 it was bought by the Salesian Brothers who still own the house and some of the land. The site now houses a catholic school and the main house is accommodation with dining.

The Rupert Clarke who I saw so many years ago was the third Sir Clarke, his grandfather being William, the only Australian born Baronet ever awarded the title. The title is the only active hereditary title in Australia and since the third Sir Rupert Clarke died, his eldest son Rupert is up for consideration.

Naturally all comments are welcome if suggesting that people with hereditary titles are a blight on societies.

Oh yes, we took a drive to Sunbury and had a look. Very nice building and setting. We partook of the local bakery's fare while sunning ourselves in the main street. Sunbury has all the big stores and seemed pretty well serviced. The locals, well, hmmm, interesting mix.

We were welcomed to Rupertswood by what both R and I know as a Monkey Puzzle tree.

Ok, the setting is perhaps not that great, because of parking for the school and outbuildings. Parts of the setting are nice.

The front of Rupertswood. It had a ballroom added later, in a different style, but even at the front of the house, I could detect some alterations. It is said to be the largest house in the State of Victoria.

Must have a circular gravel driveway around a bed of rose bushes, otherwise it could not be a grand mansion.

The train line to Bendigo is quite close by. Rupertswood used to have its own railway station for visitors from the city when they came up for balls, hunting, tennis parties and rooting around with each other's spouses.

A lake is another essential ingredient for an impressive country mansion, and yes, Rupertswood's artificial lake. R does not like large birds like these, so we stayed in the car, but the geese were very curious and approached. I raised the car window a bit, just in case you know.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Bellwether Ohio

I know what bellwether means but it is an unreliable concept. Ohio is said to be a bellwether state and Australia's ABC Radio current affairs program AM reports on guns from a certain blogger's home town of Lancaster in Ohio. The Realplayer audio here , the Windows Media Player here, or the transcript below.

AM - Monday, 22 September , 2008 08:26:00

Reporter: Kim Landers

TONY EASTLEY: The US state of Ohio has predicted the outcome of nearly every presidential election in the last century.

And with just 44 days until the election, Ohio remains the ultimate bellwether when it comes to American politics.

Opinion polls show the race in Ohio is very close. Some have Senator John McCain a nose in front, others have Senator Barack Obama winning.

The economy is the number one issue with voters in the state, but as our North America correspondent Kim Landers discovered in the town of Lancaster, some businesses are still doing a roaring trade, despite the financial concerns.

(sound of gunshots)

KIM LANDERS: At this gun store and indoor shooting range in the town of Lancaster, in central Ohio, business is brisk.

GUN STORE EMPLOYEE: Weekends, it pretty well smokes; we have 21 lanes to shoot on so we can accommodate a large number of shooters.

KIM LANDERS: It's $10 for unlimited time here.

You've got to buy your own ammunition and if you don't have your own gun, you can rent one.

Sharon Waller has been trying out her new Ruger pistol.

It's tiny, just ten centimetres long.

SHARON WALLER: I just wanted something small that I could carry in my purse, that I could conceal very easily and pull out quickly.

KIM LANDERS: Have you ever had to pull it out of your bag quickly?


KIM LANDERS: How much did this Ruger cost you?

SHARON WALLER: I believe it was $299.

KIM LANDERS: Is that a good deal?

SHARON WALLER: I think it's terribly expensive, but I guess that's what they cost.

KIM LANDERS: Sharon Waller's fiancé is buying this pistol for her.

She's already got her concealed carry permit and as we chat the gun store runs a background check with the FBI.

SHARON WALLER: I don't have a criminal record, so we're hoping it goes through.

KIM LANDERS: How long is this going to take?

SHARON WALLER: How long does this take? 15 minutes? 15 minutes.

KIM LANDERS: At another counter, salesman Tim White is showing customer Chris Krannitz a weapon that's much bigger and much more expensive.

TIM WHITE: PS-90 is the semi automatic version of the P90; the P90 is the gun that guards the president, secret service uses the P90 and that's the semi automatic version of it.

KIM LANDERS: Chris Krannitz decides to buy it.

CHRIS KRANNITZ: It was either this or an MP5, so this is a cheaper version.

KIM LANDERS: And how much is this going to cost you?

CHRIS KRANNITZ: About $1900.

KIM LANDERS: That's a pretty good deal?

CHRIS KRANNITZ: Yep, yeah, I've been saving for a while.

KIM LANDERS: Wes Disney has been working at this gun store and shooting range for five years.

WES DISNEY: Freedom loving people, typically is what you'll find when you come to a gun store or an indoor shooting range, we vigorously resist anyone who would choose to not allow us to exercise our constitutional rights. So you'll find good people here, middle America, salt of the earth if you will.

KIM LANDERS: It doesn't take long to realise he's not a fan of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

WES DISNEY: Mr Obama is a threat to the second amendment and he's a threat to a lot of different things in terms of how we run our lives.

KIM LANDERS: People like Wes Disney haven't forgotten that Barack Obama once said that when times are hard people cling to guns and religion.

(sound of gunshots)

So it's probably no surprise that nobody either on the shooting range or in the gun store is an Obama supporter.

There's one man I don't ask. He's wearing a t-shirt with a photo of both Barack Obama and Osama Bin Laden on it.

This is Kim Landers in Lancaster, Ohio for AM.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

What tram is that?

There are some great resources on the internet for details of public transport in Melbourne. Trams, trains and buses, we have the lot.

I have done some tram research and snapped with the camera and here is an educative post for you. Amaze your friends with your detailed knowledge, or just skip the post and come back in a week when I will tell you about trains. Well, maybe not.

In order of appearing on the streets of Melbourne.

Here are a couple of Ws, W Class actually. They are further divided into sub classes such as W5, W6 or SW6, but don't you worry about that. They are Melbourne's old trams. You can see them on the free City Circle line, travelling along Latrobe Street from St Vincent's Plaza to Docklands and in Chapel Street. They are noisy and quite slow, but comfortable and served Melbourne well for many decades. Tram numbers perhaps, 800 to 1020.

This is a Z1 or Z2 tram. They are much the same, just call them Zeds. They have pointy noses, round headlights and a green dot matrix destination that is hard to read. They are jerky and tend to scream when they get up speed. They are mainly seen in the more expensive areas of Melbourne, south of the river. Tram numbers, 1 to 115. Later edit: All Z trams now have driver's air conditioning.

This is a Z3 tram, still with a pointy nose, but rectangular headlights, an extra door, bright orange LED destinations and gently whine when in motion. They have what looks like a cat carrying cage on the roof at each end. These are air conditioning units for the drivers. See them or catch them anywhere almost. Tram numbers 116 to 230.
Since we are now at the end of the alphabet, back to the beginning with A class. There were two models, but they are much the same. They are quite short and boxy looking and not terribly big inside. They too have the bright orange LED destinations, along with the rectangular headlights of the Z3 and they feel similar to travel on like the Z3. Mostly seen on east west Melbourne routes. Tram numbers 231 to 300.

Then we have the B class tram, in my opinion the best tram Melbourne has ever seen. It was built locally and is quite old now. It presents in two sections, articulated in the middle, and is Melbourne's first tram with air-conditioning, which works very well. It is a very comfortable tram. It still retains the rectangular headlights but there are a pair each side. It still has the hard to read green dot matrix destination. There are a decent lot of them and they are spread over the system. Tram numbers 2001 to 2132.
Suddenly and strangely we lost the ability to build trams in Australia and the C class, or Citadis, arrived from France. It is a disabled friendly tram with low floors. It is dreary shade of grey but has quite stylish lines. It is somewhat nicer to travel on than the other type of Euro tram. You will see C class trams mostly in Collins Street and they have air con, but the green dot matrix destination is not great to read. Tram numbers 3000 to 3036.

Only Germans could have designed such an ugly brute as the D class, Combino tram(sorry MD). They come in 3 bit articulated bits, D1 or 5 bits, D2. They are mostly white, square looking, with easy to read green dot matrix destinations. The seats are tiny, you get thrown side to side, hear every vibration over rough track and have woefully inadequate heating and cooling. They are used mostly south of the river but frequently visit East Brunswick, the other end of the St Kilda light rail and Moreland, the other end of the Toorak route. Tram numbers 3501 to 3538 for the short ones and 5001 to 5021 for the long ones.
And then we have Bumblebee, which is like a C class only longer and brightly painted. It is an improvement on the shorter Citadis, but unfortunately, we are only renting them and have to give them back. Only used on the St Kilda light rail. 5100 to 5123.