Saturday, November 15, 2008

City Disruption

Friday 7th November, Opening of Myer christmas windows, presumably Bourke Street closed to trams.

Sunday 9th November, Myer Santa Arrival, Bourke Street closed to trams.

Thursday 13th November, Aviva Investors Melbourne Mile, St Kilda Road southbound closed to traffic causing massive traffic build ups and incidental disruption to tram services.

Saturday 15th November, Myer christmas parade, Swanston Street, Bourke Street and Elizabeth closed to trams.

Sunday 30th November, Great Australian Fun Run, Swanston Street closed to trams.

What is the point of trams going into the city at all?

A friend tells me that Friday night trams were disrupted in Swanston Street due to cars being being driven into and unable to clear intersections at Latrobe Street, Lonsdale Street and Flinders Street with one tram sitting at Latrobe Street for ten minutes before the traffic cleared a bit.

City of Melbourne, who would co-operate with these constant disruptions, Yarra Trams, the operator of the trams, Victoria Police, whose reponsibility it is to control motor car traffic and prosecute illegal actions by motorists, City of Melbourne again and Vic Roads who are responsible for road design, all take a bow as either not caring and/or not being interested, or just plain incompetent.

The Green Guide succumbs to public pressure

I call it the GG. The Age Green Guide, the television supplement, and I have been friends for over twenty years, no more. I was there when it faded to almost white, and I was there went it got its first staples. The closer I read it, the less tv I have to watch to stay informed on trivial tv matters. The tech section always has something of interest to read.

What seemed like a good idea to The Age, and to me at the time, was to rejig the day GG starts its weekly listing. The GG is in Thursday's copy of the paper and used to start the list on Friday. This meant you had two GGs hanging around on Thursday night. The starting day was altered to Thursday. Ah, good, I can chuck one out on Thursday morning and the new one will arrive with the listing for that night's viewing.

Clearly I should have thought a bit more about it. You see the paper does not arrive until R gets home from work. I would then normally take it to work on Friday to read, and then the GG would be home for Friday night's viewing. I can still take it to work on Friday if I am only working during the day, but as I am not this week, I had to work it out differently.

The was a doco on a couple of dykes on tv on Thursday night, and I would have missed it had I not heard about it on the radio. In the past, the details would have been in the previous week's GG.

Clearly a lot of people were having issues, and so, it has been adjusted back to what it has been for as long as I can remember.

They made some other minor changes too. The font size for the radio guide was so small, it required a magnifying glass. Bet you couldn't read it Jayne. I could just with strong reading glasses on and in a bright light.

There were a few other minor adjustments and apart from the Tech section now being white, it is pretty well back to how it was. Change for the sake of change is marvellous, a marvellous waste of time.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Mother's Hospital Visit Update

All went well. Except, over half an hour in the taxi from home to the Eye and Ear hospital. Who's idea was it to close St Kilda Road south bound, close Linlithgow Avenue completely and close Domain Road for some fun run in the middle of a working day? It would have taken half the time in the tram, but it was too hot for Mother.

Disgrace, City of Melbourne.

Burns Day and Night

I am not quite sure why in the 21st century that this South Yarra street corner needs to be lit by a four mantle gas lamp, but I like the extravagant gesture.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Today's question and taking mother to hospital

I saw an advertising sign yesterday that said XXX Brazilian. I thought a Brazilian by its very nature was triple XXX. Are there hairs growing in some place I don't know about and haven't been to?

Mother needs to attend the Eye and Ear Hospital tomorrow. As step father is incapacitated, like having a plastic liver stent replaced by a metal one, it is left to the adoring offspring to provide transport. Sister was going to take her but complained to R about what a long and tiring day it would be for Little Jo and she would miss playgroup. Sister has been marvellous about carting Mother around and poor Little Jo. Murrumbeena to Pakeham to City to Pakenham with hours of wait in between. Oldest son must step up to the crease.

I don't start work this week until 4pm, so I said to Sister that I would take Mother to the hospital and she could just take her home. I have snatched R's Etag for freeway motorway travel and I will drive to Pakenham in the morning and take Mother to the hospital.

Oh that it was so simple to just drop her off and Sister to pick her up when she is ready to leave. No, we will have lunch in the canteen, I will see my first appointment and Oldest Son will then escort me to the next floor for my next appointment as I am afraid of the lift.

Of course she informed me of this through R who she knows has an ability to make me do as I am told, or at least lay a guilt trip on me.

I was seriously bitten bigtime back in the nineties by hospital parking when I had to collect my father from the Royal Melbourne, so I was now very stressed about parking at the hospital. Mother has disabled thing to place on the dashboard, but if I used it, how do I get it back to her in the waiting room when I leave? My car would then be illegally parked. I hate driving in the city and nothing stresses me more than worrying about parking. I am nearly an old man and after collecting Mother from Pakenham, listening to her talk non stop, having lunch and hanging around, I have to work from 4pm until 1am. No one seems to notice this.

But I won't have family saying I did not do my bit, so I will suffer and really it is about not laying too much on Sister and not overtaxing Little Jo.

R's initial respone was, just pay for the parking you stupid old queen.

Far from perfect in his phrasing, but R is brill at times. He solved the problem later, reduced my stress levels and I don't know why I did not think of it.

Collect Mother, drive home, get a cab with Mother to the hospital and when you leave, get the tram home.

This is a one off for me. Mother has been spoilt all her life transport wise and even though she is nearly seventy five, I think she can at least not hesitate when catching a lift and therefore not risk the doors closing on her. Transport will always be provided, but company not always.

Cut NSW Loose

A note to PM Rudd:

Heya Kevvie, not a great time to be PM. Budget surplus down and not as much to lavish around as perhaps you thought. Might I suggest something? It is all about politics and you are a political person. Here goes.

Of course you will save your largesse until nearer to your re-election? But us folk down Mexico way could do with a few dollars for some basic needs. Like you are the one who decides immigration levels, yet you don't give us dollars to cater for all the new people. Bit rough mate.

Ya know, we don't have a lot of spare water and our public transport system in Melbourne seems to be about to collapse under the weight of numbers. Educating foreigners is a great revenue stream, but we really need to have services and infrastructure in place.

And surely, you want to see Bumby re-elected. He is not such a bad bloke and more competent than many.

Can I just advise you this Kevvie, NSW is a basket case and there would be absolutely no point in giving them any of your largesse money, because your party will be trounced in the next NSW state election by Dr Who, Bob the Builder or whoever might be running. Who wins matters not, but it won't be Labor. So, no point giving NSW any largesse. Wasted money. No chance of re-election. So Kevvie, send the money down south to Mexico way.

Send a bit up north if you want and make sure that the Bligh woman is re-elected.

Forget about South America, south of Victoria, that funny little island. They don't matter and are quite used to bad and dangerous roads and no passenger trains.

Spend some money in NT for cane toad elimination, but since they have their shiny train to access the civilised world, they need no more. What? The train company has gone broke already?

South Australia, well no valid reason for it to exist. It is just the beginning of the Nullarbor Plain.

As for WA, look after the country so long as the mining royalties keep flowing but surely Perth is the responsibility of South Africa.

We Victorians subsidise other states, and that is ok so far as it goes normally, but methinks it is time to give us a bit back.

(Apologies to all interstate. Food parcels on their way to Sydney soon.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Frank Thring

Dearest Ann O'Dyne sent me some interesting extra information on Frank Thring, the subject of Sunday's quiz. There is a biography of Frank called The Actor who Laughed. I had a look on Youtube and firstly came across this amusing imitation of Frank to promote Unchain St Kilda. The actor captures his voice very well.

Then this gem, an appearance on Steve Vizard's Tonight Live along with Ian Molly Meldrum, that particular night being hosted by Craig McLachlan. Frank died in 1994 and I don't think this would have filmed long before then. He looked less than robust. There is a reference to Little Lucifer fire lighters and Ben Hur. It is a good laugh.


Seemed ages since we had been to Docklands and on such a perfect day weather wise, as Sunday was, it was a good chance to see the new observation wheel before the hoards descend when it begins operation.

The quickest way there for us would probably be the 86 tram in Bourke Street, but we took the more scenic route on the 48 from Flinders Street.

It was a day of surprises. Last time I looked, there was nothing but the beginnings of construction on the southern side of Flinders Street between King Street and the Aquarium. Now it is line of offices and apartments and well on the way to completion.

Turned right after passing Chrissie Nix's work digs and new office and apartment buildings abounded at Docklands. We stayed on the tram to the fairly new tram terminus known as Waterfront City. I was astonished to find a whole new area had opened up with shops and apartments at the foot of the observation wheel. The wheel looked to be set to go and while we certainly won't be among the first on it, I am looking forward to a ride.

While there were plenty of eating places, we had own mind set on fish and chips in the old part of Docklands. We made our way to the waterfront past all the celebrity stars embedded in concrete and I had not seen these statues before. As well as Melba, there was one of Kylie, Graham Kennedy and John Farnham. The facial expression on the Kylie statue was ghastly.

The weather was just sublime. Do not vist Docklands whent there is a blustery hot north wind, nor when there is a strong and freezing southerly blowing. The atmosphere was quite good and the area busy with people and a small market had set up along the water's edge.

We had intended having fish and chips, but instead took a table at the same place we took my mother and step father to last year. It was lovely sitting near the water and watching the acivity and the people. A jug of Stella and a Greek barbecued lamb salad and we felt very content.

As we walked back to catch the 86 tram to the city for some shopping, our expedition was nicely rounded off by seeing two lads fishing. You don't see that often now.

The wheel as viewed shortly after we alighted from the tram.

A closeup.
You just would not believe the number of apartments that are at Docklands. This one above the shops was a not so pretty shade of pink. Various surfaces and colours have been used.
Half tennis balls make a yet to be opened shop hoarding a bit bit more interesting.

This hoarding art work was made up of hair combs and hair brushes. Is that the Wella picture?

The Melba life sized statue. She looks different to how I have seen her in photos.

The Greek style barbecue lamb and salad. Jug of Stella visible.

Lads with their lines in the water. Ok, yes they were quite cute.

Monday, November 10, 2008

This Week's Flowers

Our brother friends have bashed off overseas again and gave us this large bunch of flowers picked from their garden. There are ten stems and Prahran Market had them at $14 for five stems, so $28 worth of flowers.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Sunday Quiz #1

Another post of which there may never be a #2.

Melbourne's Chinese Consulate has moved from Irving Road, Toorak, to a new purpose built building at 534 Toorak Road. The stupid Falun Gong followers have a new much more visible place to protest. The site previously contained a large but unremarkable two storey house. The question is, who lived there?


The person who lived at 534 was famous around Melbourne and Australia, and the house was originally owned by his father, who was also moderately well known.

Fire lighters, those little blocks of an absorbent material soaked in kerosene and used to light fires.

Theatre and 'theatrical'.

Later edit: C'mon Jayne, Ann, Coppertop, Sedgers......even Pants. You are all of a certain age.

Sick Stepfather

I have been holding off writing about this. Aside from being very personal, there seems to be nothing conclusive about the matter.

A bit of background first. My mother met my step father about thirty five years ago and they have lived together ever since. They argue often, but my mother is difficult and so can be my stepfather.

When they met, I had already left home but my two brothers and sister were all at home, my sister the youngest, no more than seven years old or something like that. But as I was not living at home, I don't have the stronger emotional connection to my step father that they all have. I respect him greatly for what he has done for them and what he has done for my mother.

He was a person of grand ideas and was responsible for my mother losing a significant amount of her inherited money in his businesses. The rest of it she spent on shoes. He has more than repaid the money by his paid labour in his latter years.

He has five children of his own, all pretty successful people. One married a chappie who you would have seen often on tv news and current affairs. His grand children are doing very well too, and there are great grand children now. My mother gets along with them all well enough.

Only once did I have words with him. I was about eighteen and after clearing the kitchen table at a Phillip Island holiday house my mother had rented, I swept the crumbs off the table and onto the floor and he jumped on me for it. Even back then I was Mr Perfect and intended to then sweep the floor. Some minor matters can have a profound impact on your view of people.

My sister when she was older, challenged him hard about green matters, especially areas he was interested in and had slogans for, such as Rights for Gold Miners, Help the Environment; Plant a Greenie. They had some really ding dong rows. It seemed pointless to me as his convictions were strong and his mind was not for the changing.

His illness started about three months ago when he suddenly started to lose weight and energy. If it was left to the public health system, he could well be dead, or we would have had to have admitted him to emergency when his condition became much worse. Sister's girlfriend the Bone Doctor stumped up $200 for him to have a gastrosocpy?, sorry a gastric tube insertion. The short of it is after several following tests on the public health it was discovered that he had a cancerous tumour where his bile duct joins the liver.......or is that kidney, no liver I think.

The Bone Doctor says it is not liver cancer per se, just a cancer adjacent to the liver. From my net research, liver cancer is rare in Australia unless you have cirrhosis? or Hep C.

As well as losing a lot of weight, he skin colour turned yellow. As is per is usual, the hospital staff had to be convinced that he was not a frail old man, but an active person who just a few weeks earlier had been doing paid physical labour, like gardening and fence building. If you saw him pre illness, you might guess about 65 years old, not 81.

Treating staff pretty well told him that not a lot would be done for him because of his age. Eighty years old is the cut off for a liver transplant, and after what the Bone Doctor said, it may not have been appropriate anyway. Things became difficult between stepfather and the hospital doctors as he felt that they had written him off. I certainly sounded like that to me at times. Really I think it was just poor communication.

He had some keyhole surgery to unblock his bile duct and after a two week stay in hospital he was sent home. His appetite ought to have improved but it hasn't much. He is somewhat better, but not a lot.

Brian damaged brother stayed with mother while step father was in hospital and they did not come to blows. Both held their tongues. Sister has been marvellous by transporting mother around for various matters. Tradie brother and his new g/f have mowed the the large lawns a couple of times at my mother's home and we slung her $500, partly to cover costs of sis in law's father's funeral notice and flowers. Mother unconvincingly said it was too much and unconvincingly tried to give some back.

After some flirtation with alternative medicine, with the theory that a parasite is causing the problem and some treatment, he was offered chemotherapy at a hospital in Moorabbin. Transport was a problem and after an initial refusal to supply transport, a private ambulance turned up to transport him for his first session this week.

While we have our fingers crossed, the Bone Doctor's folks have put a dampener on it. Sister was most upset because Bone Doctor's father, a GP, mother, a theatre nurse, and Bone Doctors sister, a radiographer, concluded he won't see christmas, even though they have not even seen him.

I have also drawn a conclusion about our public health system. It is not so bad for the young to middle aged, but if you are old, you are far better to be in the private health system with private health insurance where doctors, hospitals et al make money from treating you.

Although outwardly ok, my mother must be in a state of panic should my stepfather's treatment be unsuccessful. She will be unable to afford to stay in the house she has lived in for nearly four decades, it needs a lot of bulldozer blade maintenance for a start, and she will be somewhat dependant on us kids to solve her housing problem.