Saturday, October 18, 2008

Out and about in St Kilda #8

I will probably be too busy over the weekend to post anything (I heard that sigh of relief. Screw you!)

So here is a double banger. For as long as I can remember, this 711 has occupied this site on the corner of Blessington and Barkly Streets. I wonder how many times it has been robbed? What was there before anyone? Our soon to be local councillor, due to redistribution of electoral boundaries, lives in Blessington Street. I am working out an annoyed email to him in my head before he even gets the job. I think his name is Gross Dick and although straight, he is quite gay friendly, but I care little about gay friendly in a local councillor. It is all about the rubbish bins.

I had reason to be in area often as this apartment block was built on the old service station site on the corner of Barkly and Mitford Streets. How useful it would be to have a tram swinging down along Mitford Street, just like the old days. The apartments seemed very expensive at the time. I wish I could remember the figure. They probably weren't, but this is only said from today's perspective. I do recall looking at plans and some of them were weird shapes and tapered to useless corners in some rooms.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Reading the Blogs

Something I did with my blog told me that I am subscribed via Google Reader to 98 blogs. I should add two more and crack the ton.

This is not as bad nor time consuming as you would imagine as many of the blog writers do not write anymore, some are porn and they are quick to get through. Some are just picture based. Some post once in a blue moon and it is no trouble to read their post when I am almost immediately alerted that they have posted. I don't have to check their blog daily, just in case they have posted something.

Then there is my inner circle, the ones who post reasonably often, if not daily. There are a few on the outskirts who don't post so often, but I feel a strong connection with them.

But there are two blogs that I dread seeing come up in Google Reader, because I just know I am going to have to put the kettle on and pour myself a nice cup of Stanley's finest Colombard, sit down and concentrate. They both write exceptionally well and interestingly and I value them as blog mates. But sheesh, I am used to fast and furious and I normally have the attention span of a gnat. But read them in detail I do. Thank god they don't post too often.

Take a bow Pants and Brian.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

And never the twain shall meet

Sometimes I astonish myself with my cleverness. What a marvellous piece of word play in this diary subject heading. What? You are not astonished at my cleverness? Ah, you take me for granted then.

I read Huckleberry Finn when I was a kid. Great book, I suppose. I can't recall it that well. I do recall an illustration in it of two naked men covered in tar and feathers. That's a worry.

Reasonably recently I learnt that the author, Mark Twain, visited Australia and travelled extensively by train.

He had a fairly low opinion of Newcastle, that is Newcastle Upon Hunter and not the one Upon Tyne in the UK. He wrote, quite wittily I thought, in his description of Newcastle as it having, 'one long street, a graveyard at one end and, at the other, a gentleman’s club with no gentlemen in it.'

But it is easy to pick on country hicks. Better to take on the authorities with witty words, and he did.

We had an absurd situation of different railway gauges between the Australian states of Victoria and New South Wales that lasted until the early nineteen sixties I think. If you wanted to travel from Melbourne to Sydney, you and your luggage had to change trains at the border town of Albury because of the different width of the railway tracks. Absurdities such as this still exist between states, although there are many less of them now.

I think it was the middle of a cold night when Mark Twain had to change trains at Albury and he was not impressed.


Now comes a singular thing, the oddest thing, the strangest thing, the unaccountable marvel that Australia can show, namely the break of gauge at Albury-Wodonga. Think of the paralysis of intellect that gave that idea birth.

City of Stonnington Shakes its Finger at Us

When you make an effort to drive your car according to the road rules and always park legally you get a certain feeling of smugness as others around you complain of parking fines and how many points they have left before they lose their driving license.

I expect this goes for people who always pay their fare on public transport who never have a problem, whereby others who don't pay will complain of Gestapo like tactics of ticket inspectors. R travels on public transport often enough and never has a problem and he refuses to validate his ticket once it has been done the first time. The only problem he has ever had is the great bus ticket scamming by drivers a few years ago. Things got nasty when the driver said he had run out of tickets and suggested $1 would be ok to cover R's short trip fare, no ticket issued.

But smug as I am about never receiving a ticket for breaking a road law and not receiving a parking fine since 1980, City of Stonnington decided to issue us one when we were parked in the Coles/Safeway carpark in Prahran. This is where we or sometimes R alone always shop earlyish on a Saturday morning. There is usually too much to carry to walk or use public transport, so take the car and pay for parking.

We did have words in the car about some matter on the way to shopping and so the situation was not quite normal when we parked. R bought a ticket from the machine and slapped it on the dash. I noted something wasn't quite right about how the ticket sat, but did not really absorb what I saw. Not a good time to be critical of how he placed the ticket on the dashboard.

We returned to the car shortly after with flowers from the market and I became vaguely aware that R moved the ticket. I truly did not take much notice.

We went off again for more shopping and returned, loaded the car and jumped in and there in front of us under the windscreen wiper was a parking ticket with a person who had bad English skills pointing it out to us. 'You have ticket. Bad. You have correct ticket, so no ticket. Man over there.'

Man over there was the worst thing he said. R charged off to challenge man over there, the parking officer. I could not follow as R had the keys and the car was unlocked.

The parking officer said the ticket was hard to see and he pressed his buttons on his ticket issuing machine, and then noticed we had a correct ticket.

They weren't far enough away that I could not see the facial expressions. I am quite familiar with most of the Stonnington parking chaps and chappesses. One of them is gay and I know him, another I used to work with, another is black and wears a big gold earings and I saw another sitting in the shade one day and he threw his cigarette butt on the ground. That is one of the few things that you can dob someone in for in Victoria, along with a smoking exhaust pipe and it is up to them to prove otherwise. But I did not know this parking officer. His expression was ugly and so was R's. Oh god, R is going to biff him. I will have to bail him out of the Prahran Police Station.

It did not come to that and R stormed off as the parking officer started to explain the procedure to have the ticket recinded.

As soon as we were home, I logged on to Stonnington's website and objected to the fine. R wanted me to put in some information about the arrogant, nasty and offensive prick of a parking officer, but I convinced him that there was no point. The point was to have the fine recinded.

And, after having sent a copy of our ticket from the machine by snail mail, it has been recinded, with a stern warning, an Official Warning no less, that we must always show the ticket properly.

I am not sure if the ticket was correctly displayed, but it was certainly sitting on the dashboard face up. A careful look would have seen it, so I am not sure that I am particularly happy at having City of Stonnington wagging its finger at us and I may well protest further.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Little Prick

Normally, working or not, I get up at some time between 6.30 and 7.30. I am not a great sleeper, I consider sleep a waste of time and boring, but I must do it.

Now for several months I have kept coming across a piece of paper in the letter rack referring me to Melbourne Pathology for tests. The paper orders Lipids (fasting) with HDL Cholesterol, Glucose (fasting) and PSA. I know what that PSA test is! I am of a certain age.

I have kept putting the test off and off, because, well the problem is in the first sentence. The gap between me getting up and the testing place opening would mean me hovering at home for a period, unable to eat or drink coffee. I can cope with the not eating but no coffee????

Since I am working late this week, I stayed up until 2.30 last night and did not wake until 9.00. Perfect. I did not leave my bedroom. I did not see the kettle sitting there tempting me. I showered, dressed and went straight out.

It was a small and painless prick and I was only away from home for thirty minutes. Now I can face my doctor at last and find out if a couple of small tins of tuna a week, fish oil capsules daily and psyillum husks on my cereal have worked

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Morrie, the tap and moi

By the age of fourteen I was a confident driver of cars, tractors and trucks. That is how it is in the country. Note the word is confident, not skilful.

I suppose I was sixteen and it was not too long after my father and step mother got together.

I hurt my mother deeply when I told her that I wanted to live with my father and step mother in the local town and not stay with her on the farm. My father still attended the farm daily, but always went back to step mother at night. But I wanted the bright lights of the local town and I was determined. It was not a choice between mother and father, but a choice of isolation on a farm and town.

So, I did as I wished and moved to live with my father and step mother.

I thought it would be a nice thing to do while step mother and father were away, that is wash step mother's Morris Minor. I subsequently learnt that every time it was washed, a little bit more of the paint work came off.

I reversed it along the driveway and swung it onto the lawn and gave it the wash of its life. It was gleaming. I drove back to its undercover, straight over the garden tap. Yep, we had a geyser happening. I turned the main tap off and paced in terror.

My similarly aged step sister was there and she was terrified of what my father would say while I was terrified not of my what my father would say, but of what my step mother would say.

My step sister and I did not know our future step parents very well at this early stage.

Step Mother and Father returned, I told Dad what had happened and he went and fixed the tap. Next day, my step mother thanked me for washing the Morrie.

I recall being a little puzzled as to why I did not get into trouble. I understand a bit a better now.

(originally written 05/09/08)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Birthday Present

Remember back when I painted the kitchen scales, with the view to delay their replacement? Well, it delayed the replacement for over one year. I would suggest that the paint was a waste of money. I demanded new scales for my birthday, not that I ever use them, well rarely.

Since R spent so much money on my last birthday, I thought I would let him off lightly this year, but of course he managed to find an expensive set of scales and very nice they are too. As I won't see him on my birthday, he gave them to me tonight. I am pleased with them but also puzzled. Tell you why in a bit.

Now normally the conversation would go back and forth about what to do with the old ones, with me wanting to keep them and R wanting to throw them out. I thought that they were indestructible, but mysteriously, they have become broken. I blame Little Jo. She must have vaulted onto the bench top and sat on them. So, there is no option but to chuck them out. Years ago, I would have sat down with a screwdriver and worked out why they are broken and possibly fix them, but my curiosity about such matters is declining as my years increase. I am getting used to our ready to dispose society.

Now if you are not used to using domestic electric scales, what you do is place your bowl on the scales, switch the unit on and it zeros itself. You then add the ingredients to the bowl, plate or whatever for weighing.

But on these scales, there is also an option for weighing liquid and getting a millilitre or fluid ounce read out. How does this work you mathematicians?

Isn't the weight of a litre of water different to the weight of a litre of treacle? How can the scales tell me the volume of liquid by weighing it? (the first person who uses the word mass in their comment will get a punch on the nose) Perhaps I need to do an experiment.

PS Vik, something arrived from Japan in today's post. I will open everything tomorrow.

Weirdness in the Highrise

I feel I am a little suspended, no Brian and Tezza, not suspendered, almost like I am looking down upon my life. Perhaps a sense of non reality......most unlike me to doubt myself, and this feeling has nothing to do with you Robert.

I put it down to working too many days in a row and not having a decent drink. It is the best way for me to make sense of things. I am going to tonight, in fact started already, so I can now write freely.

I haven't quite kept my blog up to its usual poor standard. Let me just write of some random events and thoughts. Sort of a blog catch up.

It all went wrong early in the week when I had to do what is known as a 'refresher course'. While it was not as bad as the same thing last year, I did actually learn something, even though it has no impact on work really. It was just interesting to me. Why I have to be taught how to do my job after doing it for 29 years, I am not sure, apart from my employer needing to spend a certain amount on training for each employee every year.

But truly, it was not so bad, and I caught up with an old workmate, Alistair, if you nosy types want to know, and we had a good giggle. Like when one person said that she found her work chair too hard, he said sotto voice and behind his hand said 'with an arse that size, I am surprised'. Such is gay humour. He used to be quite attractive, but has aged. I reckon I have aged better by a whisker, but then he is slimmer than me. Some skin types do better than others. Apart from a mention of the hotness of the boss of place we were in and what he was like when he was younger, we pretty well caught up on people known in the past and discussed our respective ailing parents.

Then there was the great public transport disaster of Thursday 7th of October, well my disaster with it. With some reflection, people put up with this every day. I just went into shock. But if I did, so would others and it not encouraging for people to use public transport. I have a vision that one day public transport will be a viable choice for the middle classes, and not just for your poor, your foreign, your young and your old.

I am also feeling some guilt about not doing enough, comparatively to my other siblings, in my step father's hour of need. Sister does not work and has been very good. Youngest brother has helped out a bit. Brain damaged brother Acquired brain injury brother moved home so Mum would not be alone. They are all so much closer distance wise. I will do what I have to financially at some point. Even the Bone Doctor stumped up $200 for a medical test that got him on the road to recovery much quicker.

ABI brother asked if he could stay last (Sat) night ages ago. We said yes, but we should have checked the details. Normally if he stays, he arrives late afternoon. This time he wanted to arrive at 8.00pm. We had subsequently arranged dinner out to celebrate my forthcoming birthday. After some negotiations, he agreed to arrive at 10 to collect the key and we were home by then. He then walked into the city after walking here from the station to meet up with his football umpiring mates at a place called the Men's Gallery!!! R tells me he arrived home at 2pm and he looked very rough. But he doesn't drink, so just tired. He had breakfast with us and headed off back to town to get the train home.

He was lucky we were here in the morning to make him breakfast as we were supposed to be up, up and away on our third time lucky balloon flight. Cancelled again due to increasing north wind. I suppose the flight will happen, but R is regretting the day he ever booked the flight for my birthday last year twelve months ago. I feel pretty bad about it, as I did nothing to book the flight until about Feb this year. This it what R tells me. It is my fault. The weather hasn't been good for the last three times we booked.

R has a Facebook account and my nephew is one of R's friends. I want to see where Nephew is staying in Paisley in Glasgow using Google Earth. I wrote on Nephew's wall via R's Facebook account with one of my yahoo addresses to respond and Nephew has not sent me an email. So what if his Facebook page says he is going to Glastonbury for some music festival? I thought he was broke. He must have already spent the £100 we gave him for his 21st, or it was stolen on a beach in Thailand. The gratitude of the young.

I have finally finished transferring every video tape to dvd with the $200 machine. This machine is in R's bedroom and is not appropriate for him in the future, mainly because it is not a digital receiver, so I must buy something that it appropriate for him, but be damned if I will buy him a Tivo.

I am happy that, with the help of an online forum, I have now mastered the Toppy, the Topfield digital recorder. By gum it is good, once you know how to work it.

My XTube account was deleted. I am kind of pleased and I can start afresh with a new profile. But I was quite happy to have over 700 X Tube friends. Truth be told, I was well pissed orf, as much because I don't know why I was deleted. I would guess some copywright, copywrite, (which is it, I forget), infringement, but I am not sure how I infringed. Since I was up at 4am for the balloon flight that did not happen and could not go back to sleep, I used the next couple of hours to get back some friends with a new identity for me. In 12 hours, I am up to 30 friends.

Work roster is changing next week and I am supposed to finish work at 11pm Saturday night and start at 6am Sunday morning. I don't want to work early the following week anyway, but although management has to fix up the problem of me having no sleep, it has made things very complicated for me.

While on work side of things, I believe the Highrise is hosting christmas this year. Fine with me, but who knows if or when I will be working. I used to know well in advance from employer, but new world now.

I only managed to rustle up seven friends for my birthday dinner at the local. Given we had all caught up for the late Dame M's birthday the week before, not surprising I suppose. We had to leave early to go home for ABI brother to arrive and go to bed early for the balloon flight that did happen.

Dyke friend and her girlfriend did a walk around Albert Park Lake this morning to raise money for a diabetes fundraiser. We could have done it too, if not balloon flight hanging over us.

Marathon run up St Kilda Road too. Too crabby to take much notice. Did see an ambo below treating someone. There are much nicer ways to suffer pleasure and pain.

I needed a light bulb for my bathroom and R wanted to see the new St Kilda Beach boardwalk. We combined the two into an outing. There are problems with the boardwalk, I think. We caught a packed tram to St Kilda, and along the board walk, there is no delineation between cyclists and pedestrians. I was initially appalled at this, but actually, it wasn't really a big problem for pedestrians as there were a lot of us. We rooled, ok? What happens when it a bit quieter? I am old man. I like lines painted on the walkway so I know where I should be and where cyclists should be.

Next morning now.

When we saw Little Jo last week, the third time she pulled my sunglasses from my shirt pocket, I firmly told he no. She ran to R and gave me the filthiest look. She forgot about it in a minute.

I am annoyed with myself as a blog mate asked me to find a critique of The Greens plan for Melbourne public transport and I did not bookmark the site and I cannot remember where I found it. Normally, I am very good a such matters.

I won't see R on my birthday as I will be at work.

The damn computer clock went back an hour on Saturday night. Why on earth would that happen? I can understand if it went forward as I avoid Bill's updates.

Right, better get stuck in and clean drips of wine, coffee, shoe polish and unidentifiable stains off the carpet that have accumulated over the last few weeks.

PS My Youtube account has been partly suspended for a month too, but at least I know why.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Blog worries and the 4th blog anniversary and nearly the birthday of me too

(I wrote this a few days and it doesn't read too badly, so, a quick edit and publish away)

I still think blog is an ugly word and I wish that there was a better word. Just something a bit softer. Perhaps I should expand it to Web Log, but that is not much better. What about personal diary, as in my blog description.

Sometimes I perhaps come across as being a bit vicious and harsh. I can do that because my blog is kind of anonymous. It is not that I don't care about my blog commenters, and I truly treasure people who I have come to know via my blog.

But in real life, I am a perfectly nice person (shut up Vik), except for when I am at work, and I am trying to improve my customer relation skills.

What really worries me is young people reading my blog and taking my rants or even sensible posts too seriously.

So my dearest readers of the young variety, take on board my age, my developed intolerance, my sexuality, my long time relationship difficulties, my family who never fight because none care enough much, my slightly asset rich and cash poor situation (I have lived with this for my lifetime).

Yes young reader, please continue to read my blog and take from it what you will (I sure take a lot from yours), but I wonder how relevant I am to your life? Not muchly I think.

Keep your mind open and think, but at the end of day, it is all about you, because you are the most important person in the world. Oh, that I need to tell young people to be selfish.