Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy bloody 2010

Random thoughts. I worked today. It was hot. I work tomorrow, not so hot. Just at home on NYE and I will be ready for bed at 10.30. I think I will use earplugs tonight. Sonic booms can penetrate our very thick glass. I wish I could be up at midnight to wish R a happy NY, but I shan't be.

Called Sister, Brother Friends, Mother and ex NT politician to wish them happy NY. I remember one year I did a mass sms just before midnight. I might do that tonight before I sleep.

The sky is turning black and instead of lightning preventing the midnight grown up fireworks happening, it looks like it might rain on the kiddies fire works. Wrap them up quickly parents, they will die if they get wet. Wow, 8.59 and a sharp clap of thunder.

I often think if I could afford it when I am old, I could have a flat in Hobart to spend a month or two in at the height of Melbourne's summer. But then it was 38 deg in Hobart today, hotter than here. Extradordinary.

Just been out on the balcony having a drink with R and watching the lightning and the rain fall.

I am sure 2010 will be good. Happy New Year to youse all.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


After a very long period of not getting any spam, my blog has been targeted of late. I had comments allowed for two weeks and after that, I have to approve comments. While there is the odd real comment, most are spam.

One post in particular, Tech Wreck, was spammed daily by a comment written in Japanese. After weeks of daily non approval, I switched off new comments for that post. Wasn't a mate of yours was it Vik? If it was a Japanese bloke suggested we could do naughty things things together, translate please.

I have now switched comments having to be approved back to one week after the post. While I know a couple of spam comments have slipped through the net and you may have seen them before I deleted them, on balance, I would rather have that happen than switch on word verification.

Word verification is quite easy now and I don't mind doing it to make a comment on a blog, but at the same time, subconsciously I think, don't you know who I am? Don't you trust me? Even worse is the message 'comment awaiting approval'. This really makes me feel alienated. I know, I know. There are good reasons why people do this, and really I don't take it personally, but there may well be a need for a 'trusted list' for blog comments. For all the gimicky things Blogspot keeps telling me about, the trust list for comments would be a good thing.

Bad Uncle

This was planned a while ago, before we knew it was going to be 35 degrees today (nearly 100F). Luckily Sister decided it would be a morning event. She dropped Little Jo at our place and went off and did her own thing. What she had forgotten was that is a week day and so limited time parking and it has to be paid for. She should have caught the train and we could have met at Flinders Street Station and we take Little Jo from there.

Sister paid for an hour at our place and then found space near the Botanic Gardens for $1.30 for two hours. She had intended going for a look around Docklands but ended up just going to the National Gallery.

I had no part in organising it, but her driving here was a mistake.

R had asked Sister to bring the pram for Little Jo. She did not. Another mistake.

Little Jo wanted to be carried and I cannot carry her. She is too heavy and the last time I did, I pulled a chest muscle. She does not like me carrying her either, so R did.

We were heading to the Aquarium to show Little Jo the fish and the penguins. We had a two for one voucher, just as well at $32 odd per person. Little Jo was not charged for.

The penguins were wonderful and very playful. Attendants were in the enclosure making snow or ice with long hoses and spreading it around. I saw a penguin make yellow snow. The rest was much as it had been the last time we were there. Really, it is very good, but I am not keen on the vertical layout of three levels.

We went through at break neck speed as Little Jo ran from one tank to the next. She got a temporary tattoo on her arm and a she drew on a small piece of cardboard that was turned into a badge.

Right at the beginning R ducked down into a low tunnel to see penguins from a different angle and due to the effects of carrying Little Jo, he could not straighten up again. He is lying on floor at home now at odd angles trying to get his back to come right.

We left and I attempted to carry Little Jo but she was just as uncomfortable as I was. I would be happy to carry her if she is really tired, but she was not.

Back home and it was pretty warm by this time. The toy box came out and ham sandwiches made and consumed and Sister called to say meet her downstairs as she did not want to pay for parking again. Fine.

Although I had protected Little Jo up and down stairs, ramps, escalators, on and off trams and across roads, it is the little things to watch for. We left the lift and R went through the opening flanked by glass panels. I was going through the opening and I turned back to Little Jo to tell her to be careful of the glass panels, as she had nearly run into them before, only to see her run full pelt into one of them with a loud thud, her face squashed against the glass. It was the most horrible sight.

R alternated between comforting her and criticising me. I wear that. No one was kicking themselves more than I was. After a couple of minutes Sister arrived and Little Jo had stopped crying. As we sat in the car for a minute, it was clear that there was going to be large egg on Little Jo's forehead. Don't ever trust me with your kiddies.

All in all, the day did not work out as I thought it would.

No flash allowed. I thought the penguins might slide down the slope but they did not. They did walk up though.

Clumsy as they may seem when walking, the are very graceful and fast in the water.

I suppose to call this critter swimming behind glass an Irwin killer could be conceived as bad taste. It is a stingray. It was a big mother.

Oh dear, what can the matter be

Poor old R got locked in the lavatory, well bathroom actually.

A couple of weeks ago I was woken by a banging noise. R could not get his bathroom door open. I slid a knife under the door and he manipulated the bolt and was freed.

I removed the bolt and left it until I had time to fix it. The mechanism is complicated with both a lock and an emergency release. The lock has never really worked, so I decided to replace the bolt with a non locking and non emergency release one. I will do the same for the toilet door which also has the same system.

I have used a locksmith in Malvern Road before, but both times I went there before christmas, he was out on the road and closed. I knew of one in Clarendon Street which we have also used. Damn, it has closed down. I used the business search facility on my phone and showed a locksmith in nearby Coventry Street. It turned out to be a hardware store, but a rather good one. The lads were very helpful and the bolts only cost $16 for two.

It turned out to be a pretty cheap and simple job.

For a change, we did not have anything planned for the rest of the day, so we headed into Fed Square and ACMI and saw the excellent free exhibition Screen Worlds. We didn't, but you could spend hours in there playing. Good for kids too.

A bite to eat and a couple of Asahis at Riverland, and wow, it is two o'clock already. Time for home and a rest. The weather was perfect for sitting under a tree on the river bank and watching the world go by on the walkways and the river traffic. The beer had made me sleepy and I fell asleep on the tram on the way home.

Fed Square looked great too. The paving was spotlessly clean, cricket was playing on the big screen, people were sitting around watching, some on mats, some even in timber deck chairs.

Hard to find a photo of Riverland or a decent wide view of Fed Square. This is the best I can find. Damn, forgot where I found it.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Myki Maladies

Myki is our new public transport ticket system and it was switched on today, well partly. It was switched on for trains, well actually, it was already on. But it is not to be used for trams and buses yet. There are still some glitches on trams and buses, we are told.

A little more than glitches methinks. I have used trams more than usual of late and I have been observing. Passengers can see the drivers screen on certain trams. I have seen a couple of different messages on the driver's screens. One is along the lines Uploading, please wait. Well I waited and waited and nothing happened. It must have been a huge upload. I have also seen Downloading updates, please wait. Again, the screen does not alter. Not connected to primary console, is another.

So what about where you scan your tickets, or touch on and touch off, as we are told? I have seen trams with none of the machines working. I have not seen a tram with all of them working. I have seen many variations in between full working and none working.

I asked a staff person if they had been trained in the new system and he told me no one has but they would be.

From what I can see, there is something seriously wrong with the Myki ticket system, at least so far as trams go.

Myki, coming to you on a tram in about, oh, let's see, 2011.

Crying into Mortar

Long before Panning Minister Justin Madden rampaged around our city knocking down fine old historic buildings, he had many predecessors equally up to the task of obliterating our history.

I have mentioned a book given to me by a friend and I have been sadly going through it. I know that a good many of the Melbourne buildings featured in the book have gone and they should not be gone. They were attractive, well built and well designed buildings and ok, their use may have changed in the future but why can that not be?

The book is mostly reproduced photos and called Early Melbourne Architecture, eighteen forty to eighteen eighty-eight. It was published in 1953 by Oxford University Press.

Just an aside, as the sun was setting on the British Empire, OUP still had offices in Glasgow, New York, Toronto, Melbourne, Wellington, Bombay, Calcutta, Madras and Cape Town.

I'll just sneak this photo in from the book. Its address WAS 64 Latrobe Street. Beautiful.

The Flying what?

A mysterious text message arrived to my phone from our dyke friends while I was at work yesterday. See you at the Flying Duck at 6. Scratching my head. Had I made some arrangement and forgotten about it? Flying Duck rings a bell. Ah yeah, we used to walk past it when going swimming at the Prahran Pool.

I forwarded the sms to R and yes, he was organising something. He was going to see the movie Avatar with the dyke friends, but the Gold Class was sold out and they needed to use some tickets up. It was dogs night at The Flying Duck. Dogs were welcome and catered for. We are going there for dinner with them and they will have their two dogs.

We were about to get on a tram when they called. It is closed. I was disappointed. I was in the mood for some pub food. We boarded the tram and they decided to take their dogs home and would return and meet us at the corner of Chapel and Commercial. R called them back and suggested rather than them coming back, is there somewhere else where we could go. The Grosvenor in Brighton Road was suggested. Fine, except we just missed a tram in Chapel Street, and the traffic was very heavy, and so would take a while. Revert to plan that they pick us up.

We did not wait long and they arrived. As we were leaving, one person noticed the new Terrace bar and bistro at the Cullen . We decided to give it a try. Food was good and prices not bad. Wine, expensive but also good. Service, excellent. Feel/mood, good.

I was set to dislike this place because of the bulk of the building, and I still think it is too dominating, but it quite a nice place really. If you recall, there was a scaffolding collapse during construction earlier this year, which led to the closure of Commercial Road for a time.

Back to the friends place in East St Kilda for brandy and coffee and timed it well for a tram home afterwards.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

C-Day, Bocksing Day and the whole damn thing

Stole the C-Day word from Pants. It rather expresses feelings I have about the whole thing.

I will try to be nice.

Christmas Eve, get drunk with R who was de-stressing at the end of his working year and the start of his holidays. Stay up too late.

Christmas Day, up at 7 and on the road to Sister's in Murrumbeena by just after 8. Sister made us croissants with ham and cheese and scrambled eggs on sourdough toast with champers and orange juice with strawberries, cherries straight from a farm and lousy decaf coffee. I had to work later so only had a thimbleful of champers. Just five of us.

Off to work before noon where it was surprisingly busy. Sister hosted christmas lunch for family, R included. Family decided to visit me at my workplace. I needed that like a hole in the head. Fortunately they only hung around for twenty minutes and I got rid of them. Just as well because I became very busy. ABI brother managed to puncture his tyre along the way, adding more stress. Just six visitors.

9pm, meet R at my work and set off to Brother Friends for some nosh. Ex NT pollie is there, with his Fijian Indian b/f, the b/f's non English speaking mother, two teen nephews and a slightly older nephew from NZ. The older one from NZ just screamed Westerner by his dress and manner, in comparison to the local Fiji lads. Drank little and et a lot. Oh, did I mention that R made me a sumptuous lunch of ham, chicken, turkey, green salad and potato salad for lunch at work? That is three full meals in one day, when normally I eat one full meal. It was a pleasant evening. Just ten of us.

Stay up too late with R having a very fine single malt Scotch whiskey from an obscure Scottish village.

Bocksing Day, what? Not working? Bliss. No, not bliss. Up early enough and at Sister's by 11. The Bone Doctor drives us in her truck, a 4wd, to the swamps of Langwarrin to attend Sis in Law's family gathering christmas lunch/barbecue. Fine food, more presents exchanged.

Lordy, does the food never stop coming? Noted that Sis in Law's wheel chair bound and slightly demented mother is rather fond of king prawns, like six of them. I took pity on her when I saw her struggling to get the bowl of prawns and asked her if she would like another. She was quite with it this day and the amount of food she et!!! Just thirty of us.

Come home and chat and finish product of obscure Scottish village. Very early to bed as earlyish start today. Mentally and physically exhausted and sleep the sleep of the innocent.

Today, Sunday, off to work while R looks after Little Jo while Sis and the Bone Doctor go to test cricket.

The best thing to look forward to is NYE. I have to start work at 7am and so family and friends, youse can all get (^&*$#. I will be in bed. But something tells me I may be at early fire works event. It depends on how kind Little Jo is to me on Wednesday when R and I take her to the Aquarium.

Gosh, this is getting a bit long. I was going to just talk about pressies. Little Jo got heaps, like she needs them.

Both R and I received some nice gifts too. But we always buy ourselves a gift too. Our joint ones were these battery powered salt and pepper shakers. I was heartily sick of our old ones, one a proper pepper grinder and the other a spice jar rock salt grinder. From accommodation points I obtained over the last couple of years, I cashed them in for a $50 Coles Myer voucher. It had hung around in my wallet for months. R said that I should spend it on groceries and just get the cash. No, I did not want it going into consolidated revenue. It is for something special. Myer had what we wanted. I would have liked lights on them like the ones our dyke friends have, but oh well, can't have everything. Oddly the marked price of $45 turned into $27 when scanned. I did not ask why. I just exited stage left with haste. Very pleased with them.

And for totally myself, although R offered to pay half once it arrived, I bought myself a calendar from the Art Deco and Modernism Society. It is gorgeous. Good cause. If you want one, you can find it on their website. A couple of weeks ago, R and I were having a bite of Indian food in Elizabeth Street and I was looking around and my eyes struck Mitchell House. It looked fantastic. I took a snap with my phone with the idea to make a blog post, but the calendar overtook me and Mitchell House is on the cover.

Sorry, I can't help myself. Calendars of old building must really get up Jussy Madden's nose. Damn, he thinks. That bloody calendar will make it all the more harder to get rid of these old building.

I am exhausted after writing all that. Forgice the typos, grammar and spelling errors.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Misc Photos

Busy busy. Yesterday's post was pre-programmed. Today's is one I prepared earlier. An additional note to the roof top bar photo, it is now open and absolutely packed.

Not sure why I was at the corner of Lonsdale and Spencer Street, but I thought it odd that much effort and expense had been gone to to put this camera on an extended bracket on the roof of this building. Now I am wondering what the building is? It appears to have had its windows bricked up.

Another bar going onto a verandah roof. It was not finished when I took the photo. These bars are extremely civilised. I love them.

I shouldn't be so lazy. I could get out a cd and check where I was when I took this photo of a house called Delphine. Not sure why I took the photo, where the location is or why I wanted to put it on my blog.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Merry One

Best wishes to you all.

The music vid below is simple, trite perhaps, bad taste and even culture cringing. Too bad. I like it. It makes me feel happy.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Mae West and The Boarder

I told R that in the future if he should get a similar request, he should say I am ignorant of such matters. I sort my life so that I am seldom stressed, but this request caused me some.

The late Dame M's Boarder called on the telephone. For the party last Saturday night, Jasmine was going to do a number or two. He wondered if we could help him get a Mae West cd called Mae West's Christmas Classics. He had tried many record stores for a cd, but the timeline was too short for ordering.

Maintaining my aversion to paying for anything on the internet, I got down and dirty into music searching and downloading via a free program. I managed to get three of the eight tracks, but this had taken me hours. I could not see my way to getting the rest. It did not help that the album seemed to have two different names. I burnt them to a cd and it would not work in any of our players. That could be my fault for a wrong choice when burning.

I spoke to The Boarder on the phone and ascertained precisely what he wanted and the name of the cd.

Ok, this will cost, but The Boarder said he will pay. I went to Amazon and installed a program to download the album and joined up. I should have gone through the front page where I would have seen the notice that MP3 files are only for US residents. More time wasted.

Right, I found it on Itunes. Will the same thing happen again? No, Itunes seems to know I am in Australia. I set up an account and I paid.

I am not sure at what point I felt like murdering R, The Boarder and anyone in sight.

Music download went ok. Now, if I burn it like the three other tracks, will it work? I was impressed that Itunes let me transfer the music to my hard drive. I believe it was not always the case. Then I noticed a button at the bottom of the Itunes screen that said something like, 'burn cd'. I clicked and it ever so effortlessly burnt the cd.

Oh, I forgot to mention, I was out of blank cds, so we had to visit Officeworks at 8pm to get some. I was still being nice to R, through gritted teeth.

So cd burnt. I made a list of the tracks and R resized it to fit on the back of a cd case. I did have some of those. Then added this picture from the original album to the front and no doubt breached some copywrite. We were rather pleased with ourselves.

We called The Boarder and told him that the mission had succeeded. The Boarder is vague at the best of times, so when we said we would drop it in to his place, he started to rattle off what he was doing over the weekend. I cut him with that we would stick it in his letter box if he was not home.

On our way, no out of way really, when we were going to Prahran for breakfast and shopping, we decided we would drop the cd into The Boarder. As I said, a girl needs some rehearsing time. We had not been to his new digs since he moved out of Dame M's place. It is in Ripponlea. As we were approaching the place, I saw drapes being opened, as would happen at 9am. I did not know it was his place until we were there and R explained that The Boarder had the top flat over the garages. We rang the doorbell, no reply. We rang home phone, we rang mobile. No reply. We tried again, nope. We left messages. Nope. We tried to put in into the mail box but it would not fit. We tried putting it under the door to his exclusive entrance, and it would not fit.

After about fifteen minutes, R chucked the cd up onto his balcony and later we learnt it was a perfect chuck, landing on his balcony door mat.

I suppose he could have been in the shower or something, but we were quite annoyed. No matter. We had done the deed. We will get a Mae West christmas performance at the dykes' christmas party.

To cut to the chase, ha bloody ha, the dykes are all digital (do not misinterpret) and do not have a cd player. No performance and no offer of $10 payment for the download cost.

And you wonder why at times I seem bitter and jaded.

But then along comes a friend who I know via the net who is staying near Birregurra and she sent me a lovely book and an article from a newspaper.

Chrissy gift from our Gov

The new traffic light and speed cameras were commissioned yesterday. I have amused myself muchly by watching the constant flashing.

As per the photo, the right turn lane used to be also for travelling straight ahead. The arrows were painted yesterday, making it an exclusive right turn lane. It should have been long ago. By being a right turn lane only, cars can be captured by the camera for disobeying the facing red right turn arrow. Ignoring the red arrow has long been a problem at this intersection. People generally seem to think that a red right turn arrow is less important than a normal facing red light.

What is causing the camera to flash with gay abandon (oh, I like that) is that motorists are travelling straight ahead in the right hand turn lane. Six in a row will go straight ahead resulting in twelve flashes.

I wonder how this will be dealt with. Their actual offence is being in a wrong lane, not a red light offence. It may seem a bit harsh, but the arrows are very clearly marked. If they are fined, it will total thousands of dollars, maybe enough to fix up all the MYKI machines and readers that don't work on our new ticket system that is not working.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Lost in Northcote

I had to visit (oh, that makes it sound unpleasant, it was not) Sydney Road, Brunswick. I knew there were some old signs in Sydney Road, so I also took the camera along and took some photos. I then needed to get to Brunswick Street, Fitzroy.

Firstly, how to get to Brunswick? Tram is tedious, boring and slow. I will take a train. I have never been on the Upfield train line. It was an interesting enough trip, especially going through Royal Park and seeing the back of the zoo. The just renovated North Melbourne Station, ho hum. I alighted at Anstey Station (I had no idea how to pronounce the name until I heard the lady voice in the train loud speaker say it. She better be right).

I did what I went for and took some photos and then, how to get to Brunswick Street? At this point I should have pulled out my phone and had a look at Google Maps. I knew buses ran along Moreland Road, too far out, Albion Street, a possibility and Blythe Street. I was close to Blythe Street, so I waited for the bus. I expected the bus route would cross Brunswick Street somewhere.

My mental map was defective. The trip from Sydney Road seemed to be taking too long. I started feeling uneasy as the bus passed the Lomond Hotel. Isn't that out near the end of the North Fitzroy tram route? Oh my god, now we are at St Georges Road, Northcote. How did I get way out here? Off the bus and onto the tram in St Georges Road to take me into Brunswick Street. I screwed that up good and proper. As usual, I thought I knew where I was going and so I did not check in advance.

Jayne is going through a bit of a hard time at the moment. Here are some nice polychromatic brick chimneys to cheer her.

CFA rss

One day last week, the very hot day, the Country Fire Authority website failed to proceed. I don't go to the site when it will be busy. I leave it for those who really need it. I won't be threatened by a bush fire and I am not sure why I was posted information about how to protect my home in the case of a bush fire.

A day or so later at the CFA site I saw an rss feed link that gives summaries of all fires throughout the state. I joined. It wasn't a bad fire day the day I did this, but at the end of the day, I had 400 fire summaries in my google reader.

It doesn't seem to be of much practical use to me. Why not make it area specific?


Barangaroo aka The Hungry Mile.


View Larger Map

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What a swell party it was

Who would have thunk it. Dykes can organise a fabulous party.

Actually, no surprise. They have done it for a few years now and we have attended our friends' party every year.

Fortunately they live close by, in East St Kilda. R and my banter about who was the nominated driver went to hell in a handbag once we sampled the lethal punch.

We laughed, we talked, we played games, we et, we drank...we had a lot of fun.

It was not too late when we left. We dumped stuff in my car and walked along Alma Road to Hotham street to get a cab. One came soon enough. The driver was not interactive, but that is ok. We wanted transport home and he provided it efficiently.

Dyke friend's brother who we thought homophobic is now very friendly. He might be just a wee bit too well groomed for a straight bloke. Not a nostril hair showing, not a hair in the ears. Maybe his wife groomed him. But it would not be the first time I have mistaken a latent homo for a homophobic straight bloke. He told me a horrible story about his work on reconstruction of the Monash Freeway. I will tell you at some point.

Next morning, instead of driving to pick up my car, we caught the tram and walked through the very busy and quite pleasant Alma Park to collect my car. In my boot I discovered desert packs of trifle and pavlova. I forgot I put them there. I had one today and very nice it was.

It must be three years ago, maybe four, when the late Dame M came to the girls' christmas party.

Ah, she was such fun, especially after a drink or ten. I can imagine her playing a game of stick Santa's balls on.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Rich

A conversation between R and myself had two worlds collide tonight.

R was telling me about a bloke he works with who owns properties in the Block Arcade, among other properties around and about.

I was telling R about a workmate who had a business in Malvern. The freehold owner of the building owns other Malvern properties and lives in very exclusive Finch Street in a very grand house. My workmate visited the chap once and his driveway was full of expensive cars.

So what might R's workmate and my workmate's previous owner have in common?

They don't drive and they both ride bicycles to get around.

Psst, and neither dress very well.

Pas me a muff

Isn't it ironical that the Eurostar train linking England and the Continent has failed to proceed because of cold weather, and yet the people who were stuck in the tunnel on failed trains sat in 25C degree heat and humidity. When we were in England in midsummer, I found, and still do, it hard to imagine it to be cold and snowing, but photos prove otherwise.

Here is a nice photo taken in the snow by Beth of Newcastle Upon Tyne in England at the seaside village of Cullercoats. Take a look. She had to be up at the crack of dawn to take it......ah, what time is dawn in the north of England on this day of their winter solstice?

It can be very hot in Australia, yet our transport system fails when it gets very hot, or very wet for that matter.

It can be very cold in the UK, yet too, their transport system fails. Maybe Maggie should have paid more attention to the transport system instead of heating the seats and grassed area in soccer stadiums. Fortunately nothing stops the Blackpool to Fleetwood tram. Well nothing except an extensive rebuild.

All just an excuse to show you a video from my collection of of cars misbehaving in bad weather.

Etag ill morte

How old is our Etag? I guess we signed up for one when we moved here as R might have been using Citylink quite often on his way to and from work. He has used Citylink for work, but rarely as it is so congested in the afternoons and no quicker for his trip to work in the morning. So the Etag would be about seven years old.

We recently noticed it had failed to work when we were travelling outbound east on Citylink. It worked when we were travelling inbound. We fools thought perhaps Citylink was giving us a free trip as compensation for the pain we have endured as casual Citylink users and how they slugged us $20 on a christmas day past.

Ok, it did not work the next time we used Citylink. Ring Citylink. Very pleasant person on the phone promised to send a new one and that there would be a reply paid envelope to return the old one.

Very pleasant person failed to notice that there were two cars registered for the Etag and only sent one windscreen clip. Another call and an extra clip was dispatched. Hang on, where is the reply paid envelope? We felt like we had more than enough contact with nice person at Citylink. We just bought an envelope and paid the postage ourselves. Like in many areas of life, we are the only people who have needed a new Etag, so I wouldn't expect Citylink to get it right the first time.

Had a death in your immediate family lately? Just try to start cancelling the like of mobile phones. Your relative is the only customer of the phone company who had died. It is a new learning experience for the phone company. I can only conclude this from experience. In fact this applies to many utility companies and banks.

But it is supposed to be the jolly season so I will be very nice about the new Etag. It is a very neat unit and clips easily into its holder, unlike the old model that I never mastered the intricacies of getting it into its clip and always got R to do it for me, or sat it on the seat. It is less sensitive too, which is a good thing, kind of. Because I was without clip, I had it sitting on the dash and it did not work. I had to turn it over.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Dear Diary

I have not recorded things in my online diary as I should. Here we go.

Am I the only person in the world who takes road work speed limits seriously and slows to the road work speed limit. I am sorry if I have annoyed you, but hey, I have an unblemished record, and I don't want to spoil it. I was travelling at 100, and the car I just overtook who was travelling at 90 has now passed me while I am travelling at the road work speed limit of 80. Mind you, VicRoads contractors having speed reduction signs out one kilometre before the works is problematic. The less anal types do actually slow while they are going past roadworks. Please god tell me the nightmare of the trip to Pakenham has passed. Hehe, we are now passing it on to the Ring Road, five year of work. Suffer babes.

Oh, yes, the trip to Pakenham and then to Cranbourne was to take Mother to chiropractor. Miserable. She moaned on the whole time about herself. What are we going to do about Mother?

39 degrees and it is the ex NT politician and policeman's Fijian boyfriend's birthday. We must attend the barbecue. Indian Fijian boyfriend has his mother here, along with two nephews. handsome lads but then eek, I found out they were fifteen and sixteen. They look so much older. Very polite though. We will see them again on christmas night and I reckon they will be chuffed that we bought them and their grannie a Koko Black gift. Actually, no they won't. They will have no idea how much Koko Black costs.

I am a refrigerator air conditioning person. After dinner I found a place where their water cooler air con vent blew directly and flicked through a picture book of outback Australia.

As for the the party last night, better make that a separate post.

St Vincents Plaza

There are worse places to stand waiting for a tram than St Vincents Plaza. Calling tram stops plazas rather amuses me. Still, it is better than the cumbersome 'interchange'. SVP has some rather nice building around it.

This is the old Eastern Hills Fire Station. I popped inside not so long ago. Pretty nice hey.

I am not keen on pink buildings, although the brightly coloured Art Deco buildings in Napier, New Zealand and Miami, Florida is it? Well the pink ones look good among their counterparts. Regardless, no need to demolish old buildings. They can be turned into anything you like. I would guess East Hill House has modern offices inside. At least the modern building either side don't smack me in the face with their presence. See Jussy Madden, it is not necessarily about individual buildings, but also streetscapes and surrounds.

Why had I never noticed how gorgeous the facade of St Vincent's Hospital is before? The photo does not do it justice.

Now this pile of junk below, just a couple of weeks after I snapped the photo, has been demolished. But you have to look a bit deeper to see and learn of its merit. Of course it is Planning Minister Madden's fault that it was demolished. He is the boss of such matters. It is a bit hard to see in my photo, but the building has a very stylish Art Deco tower. It had to go. Profit for developers is the prime consideration and undoubtedly we will see something as tall as they can get away with. Bosco Parrasio has a rather good post about the building, with an old photo as well. Read some more details at Melbourne Heritage Watch. Old as I am, I wasn't around to see the grand houses of St Kilda Road destroyed, nor many of the grand buildings in the city. I thought it was all history that would not be repeated, and yet our heritage is still being felled like our native trees for woodchips. Resign Madden, you are a disgrace.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


I am curious about this. I never use the right hand of the keyboard number keys when I need to type numbers. I always use the numbers at the top of the keyboard. The only time I use the right hand side is if I need special characters, such as a £ symbol. So far as I am concerned, it could be chopped off the keyboard, along with the rest of the keys off the qwerty area, except the delete key and arrows. Whereas, R uses the right hand side all the time for numbers. How about you? Which do you use? Oh, and I just thought I would try one of the poll thingies, but you can answer in comments.


Jayne beat me on this one, but I did take the photo a week or so ago in preparation for the post.

In our great mother islands to our east, a plague of painting murals on traffic light control boxes has broken out. Take a look here at what I mean. The plague is not isolated to temperate climates. It seems to be flourishing in tropical climes to our north.

Like it or not, a small pocket of infection is breaking out in Melbourne too, specifically Bourke Street. Bring it on I say.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Old Bags

No, no. Not you darls. Some odd bags have appeared in the accumulation of plastic bags in the Highrise.

The first has addresses of supermarkets in California all over it. They appear to mainly sell food for Latin people. Absolutely no idea where this came from.

No, I don't have any special news to impart, although as one ages, one's visual appearance could indicate early stages of pregnancy. I have a pretty good idea that my sister may be responsible for this bag appearing in our pile. Often when I go out, I use a stout plastic bag to carry water, newspapers, camera etc. I don't think I will be using this one.

Hail that bus

I don't know the rights or wrongs of the twenty four hour strike by Sydney state employed bus drivers. What I do know is that they are on strike and that I knew they were going to be on strike since early in the week.

I have no particular interest in Sydney buses. But little me, down here in Melbourne, knew about the strike, yet so many commuters were to be found waiting at bus stops on the streets of Sydney for buses that were never going to come.

To me, not watching tv news, not listening to radio news, not reading newspapers, not reading online media is just weird.

Just proves how different we all are.


I am literate and I will land one on your schnoz if you say otherwise. In my internet world, I am surrounded by very literate people. I confess, it has made me try harder with my writing, especially with sentence construction which I frequently judge as poor. But I have improved.

My brothers and sister are literate, my parents were literate, my grandparents were literate. I had never met some who could not write a proper sentence. I can't remember anyone at school who wasn't literate. It is clear to me that even at the age of two and a half, Little Jo will be literate.

So I find it very disturbing that another of my nieces and my nephew are not what I would call particularly literate. They are my very literate Tradie Brother's children. The oldest, my nephew is not really bad and can express himself with the written, but his spelling and grammar are atrocious. A sentence starting with a capital letter and ending with a full stop? Nope. Not his style. His younger sister is the pick of the three. She seems to have it together. She is now in the tertiary education system and so needs to be able to write properly. Bit of chicken and egg there perhaps. The youngest, the teenage niece, I would judge as semi illiterate and I don't know why? She seems unable to even vaguely write properly. I don't see any signs of her being dyslexic.

Even when talking, the words and thoughts just spill out. Consequently I often have no idea what she is talking about. But the quantity of words are certainly there. She talks and talks.

I don't think her mother's side of the family are high in the literacy stakes. Could this be the reason? Genes? Upbringing? Poor schools? Combination of all? Is it as simple as being read to when you are very young?

Thoughts on why illiteracy happens welcome. I could search on the net, but I would like something a bit more personal.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Whoa gee gee

I don't know what to make of the story of a young man on a freeway who's car's cruise control would not disengage.

Normally, you just switch it off or touch the brake. I can believe that it could malfunction as stated. Would not just reducing the car speed by the coast down button not work? He also stated he could not move the gear lever to neutral. Could be interlocked I suppose. I hate this sort of thing. I can't move my gearstick into gear without my foot on the brake. I am just sure one day it will all go wrong and cause me to be stranded.

He could not shift down gears to slow the car either? He could not turn the ignition off? All goes against my car experience.

Then there are brakes. Unless the model he was driving was fitted with four wheel unassisted drum brakes, I cannot see how the brakes would not stop the car. In fact they eventually did, seemingly when he was instructed to use them by police.

It would be an awful situation to be in. I can understand how you cannot think of all the right things to do in a split second, but he had forty odd minutes to unpanic himself. All very odd indeed.

I recall an old lady who drove a beautiful old black Riley who was a customer of the service station where I worked. The car had twin petrol tanks. She would ask for $2 of petrol in one tank and $5 in the other. It was a long time ago. Her accelerator jammed once and with clever use of her clutch and gears, she got the car to the service station in highway and local traffic. The car was having a good old rev and had mechanics running out to attend.

But the young man with the stuck cruise control could do nothing. Hmmm.

Clean your gutters, now!

I am predicting it will be an 'interesting' afternoon at work. I don't like 'interesting' at work. But the rain is good.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

RBG Volcano

Below are photos of an almost completed renovation of a water an old water storage in Melbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens known as Volcano, named as such because of its shape. Volcano was built in 1878 and was filled with water pumped either directly from the Yarra River and later Yan Yean Reservoir. The design was by renown architect William Guilfoyle and is twenty nine metres in diameter and has a capacity of 1.3 million litres of water.

Volcano fell into disuse in the 1950s and became overgrown and well hidden to anyone who did not know it was there. It is in the highest point of the gardens, and right on the fence line next to the The Tan. Clearly it won't fill by water run off.

A pretty marvellous way to spend $1.7 million I reckon. I am excited. Much of the money was donated by the Myer Foundation. The bottom picture is from The Age and shows the interior after it was cleaned out. Here is a link to a pdf file with more information.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Jessica Watson sails away

Gee, I should have checked this out earlier. The lass deserves publicity.

Jessica Watson is sailing solo around the world in her yacht Ella's Pink Lady. Unless she has had a recent birthday, Jessica is sixteen years old. She had abort her first attempt as she banged into a ship, or it banged into her. She had not yet made it to the official launching site in Sydney.

I think it was October the twelfth when she set sail from Sydney Harbour and she now appears to be in the Pacific Ocean south of French Polynesia.

Her blog is at the address below and she updates her blog from her yacht. I have added it to my blog reading facility.

and this is her website

She is getting hundreds of blog comments, sometimes over 1,000 per post.

I sincerely wish her well. She uploaded this photo to her blog yesterday.


This is perhaps the most boring post I have ever written. What is that? No, it isn't? I have done worse? Ok.

The quite new shredder failed almost from day one. Although it only cost about $30, I should have taken it back. I buggered it when a knife jammed it, and so could not return it.

So we bought a new one. R was determined to buy a decent one and so we paid almost $100. While I did not particularly want a cross cut model that cuts horizontally as well as vertically, it was all that was available. So far, I am very impressed. It has a large bucket that does not need emptying so often and because the paper is cut finer, more fits into a given space.


Check yourself at Coles

We have mastered self checkouts at Safeway. (At what point will I have to start saying Woolworths?) The only problem I ever had really was knowing when a bag could be removed from where you place goods after scanning them. I use self check it if it suits me and usually which I judge to be quicker, normal or self check out.

Self check out has started to appear in Coles supermarkets. It amused me to notice that no one was using the system in the Prahran store when I was recently there.

Today I had to grab a couple of things in Malvern Coles. What a laugh. I almost did out loud. I think there were six self checkouts. Four of them being used by quite old people with two staff flitting between the four, almost operating the self check out for them.

The transactions were taking twice as long as it would at a staffed check out and from what I saw rather spoils the the intent of self check out, that is to save on labour costs.

Like at auto tellers, if there are old people in front of you, head for a staffed check out. I suppose I should say good on them for giving technology a go, but I won't.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tram Museums

Not sure if I have mentioned it before, but does not Victoria's plethora of tram museums seem absurd? Malvern, Hawthorn, Bylands, Bendigo and Ballarat and there is something at the railway workshops in Newport I believe.

NSW has only one I believe and it is excellent. Oh that the talents within all Victoria's tram museums be combined. I think Bendigo and Ballarat should remain, but some kind of amalgamation should happen between some of the others.

There is another too, one I knew little about. A friend was passing by and she took some snaps. This one is at Haddon, just a short distance from Ballarat. The web tells me it is a preservation society but clearly it is similar to a museum. My friend says it was set up by a father to help with his son's learning difficulties. What a grand idea.

Here are a few photos my friend took from outside the property.

My Sainted Aunt

It appears that Australia will get a saint by the name of Mary MacKillop. She seems to have been a very good person and is deserving of honour.

But really, does the catholic church expect us to believe she performed miracles? Sainthood can only be granted if two miracles can be proved and evidently Mary MacKillop qualifies.

If christian religions want to have any respect from non believers, then they really ought to stop espousing such blatant tosh and nonsense.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Riding the Number 8

I recall a couple of years ago when I was on a number eight tram travelling along Toorak Road. One of our neighbours was on the tram. She had not noticed me on the tram and I was not inclined to engage with her. I was thinking that I knew rather a lot about her. Of course I know where she lives, I know about her family, in fact I know many things about her, including that she is not poorl. Yet in this tram of anonymous people, she is just one more. No one on the tram would take any notice of her yet I knew so much about her. She is a real person with a life.

On the number eight tram today, I was watching a black woman of African heritage. I would guess they were her sons with her, about 9 and 12. She was quite dark, nicely made up, dressed in almost a dress suit of a light soft fabric, wearing heels. She was not over the top good looking but not unattractive. The sons were dressed nicely enough and in a modern style. She looked for all the world like she had been to St John's church in Toorak, except that was not where she got on the tram. She boarded the tram in Toorak Village and got off at Chapel Street. Her sons skylarked a bit with each other after leaving the tram and she must have told them to settle down.

The thought came to my head was that she was African diplomat's wife. But why would she travel on tram when she would have a chauffeured vehicle? It was fairly clear she was a person used to having a decent amount of money for spending. Her clothes and carriage told me that much.

I don't expect this is of much interest to anyone, but I wonder what that woman's story was?

Monday Humour, The Pole Dancer

Ok, it is Sunday. I started a Monday Humour regular post a couple of months ago. As I said at the time, it will probably be a one off, as it will slip from my vacuous head.

This one is apparently a true story.

For homework, a class in NSW were asked to draw their parents at work.
This is Jessica’s drawing:

Here's the letter the teacher received the next day:

Dear Mrs. Jackson,

I wish to clarify that I am not now, nor have I ever been, an exotic dancer.
I work at Bunnings (an Australian hardware chain store for you foreign types) and I told my daughter how hectic it was last week after the floods hit.
I told her we sold out every single shovel we had and then I found one more in stock and several people were fighting over who would get it.
Her picture doesn't show me dancing around a pole. It's supposed to depict me selling the last shovel we had in the store.
From now on I will remember to check her homework before she hands it in.

Erica Cameron

Brolly or fan?

Did I just hear that it will 39 degrees next Wednesday? My day off! Grrr. It is been deliciously cool the past couple of weeks. We had some good rain too. It was raining heavily when I snapped this photo, but the weather was about to clear as you can see the sunshine coming.

Of course if you mix sun and rain, what do you get? A rainbow naturally. I can see where the rainbow ends. I know that flat block. I know there is a pot of gold there. Alas by the time I made myself presentable for the world, the rainbow had gone.

St Kilda Triangle

Isn't this a victory for the common people over developers who propose inappropriate large developments in areas unsuited to such things.

It all started so long ago, I now forget where urls and links might be to coverage of the matter. I know I wrote a bit about the St Kilda triangle site development in the past. It is costing us City of Port Phillip ratepayers $5 million to get out of it. Money well spent really.

St Kilda is a prime destination for tourists. I doubt any visitors to Melbourne from overseas don't end up at St Kilda at some point. Everyone ends up at St Kilda. There are so many people ending up at St Kilda that it is traffic jammed at weekends, and also tram jammed too. Fortunately trams are separated from cars in the major tourist area of St Kilda, so the can move vast numbers of people quickly and efficiently to St Kilda, from one end to the other. If you combine the tram services to St Kilda, it is probably around a three or four minute service at weekends. It is needed. The number of people trams carry to St Kilda is almost unimaginable.

Back to the triangle development. The proposed development was to be a restoration of the Palais Theatre, some good open space, and many shops, most of which would be chain stores, and some large nightlclub venues. Like St Kilda needs any more of those. Actually, most of St Kilda nightclub type places are smallish.

I only visit St Kilda on weekdays when it is not so frantic. Even so, best to go there early in the day.

Ah, personal is interfering with this post.

I am not sure why, but the shabby Palais Theatre seems to be doing great business. I see it lit up from here at night, indicating it is well used.

Here is my proposal. 1/4 state government money. The Palais sits on Crown land. 1/4 City of Port Phillip ratepayers money. 1/4 Palais operator money. 1/4 private investor.

The Palais gets a makeover. The large areas of bitumen are turned into a people place with grass and trees. There is a small development of retail, one for local people. Look around our city, you can never go wrong with grass and trees.

Significant loss of car parking with the bitumen area turned into a park, but hey, I think that would not be a bad thing.

I don't feel at all sad for previous councillors who were tossed out at the last election over their approval of the proposed development. Dick Gross, a previous mayor and long term councillor is playing the dying swan. Dick Gross now has a good job as head of municipalities. I was not impressed when he said that the St Kilda triangle development met council criteria and so he was obliged to go along with it. Not so Dick. You were out there in the media singing praises and promoting and making very positive noises. Dick was elected to represent the people and he made a bad call.

That the St Kilda triangle plan was dropped was due entirely to the educated elite Not In My Back Yard residents of St Kilda.

NIMBYs aren't always right, but in this case they were.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Prepping for pressie day

Look how politically correct I am becoming in my senior years. Present Day indeed.

At Mother's garage sale, we acquired a christmas tree. can't think of the name. The branches light up with colours. Little Jo helped R decorate it last Sunday. She quickly lost interest but she was there when the top adornment went on. She does not like Santa, so it is a star this year.

Today we got stuck into shopping for presents. We are over half way there. We bought ourselves a present too. R bought me some new sunglasses. I went into Moot sunglasses shop to check out what they had last week, but they no longer see to carry $3o jobs, only expensive brand names. I am past brand names. The last pair I bought at Moot were a bit tight on my head when I wore them for a long time. Unbelievably, I went to the fruit and vegetable shop and then Dan Murphy's for supplies and I lost my old pair. That is within half an hour of going into the sunglasses shop to just check out what was there. I ended up buying a replacement pair for $8 from an el cheapo shop, but now I have a much nicer pair. Thanks R.

We bought three weather bureau calendars from their headquarters in Collins Street. They are good gifts for hard to buy for people. God, everyone is hard to buy for now, even Little Jo who has so many toys and a regular change over from the toy library. I also had a haircut in Brunswick Street. The old, um was it a tram power house or a cable house for trams? Anyway, there is a tiny bit left, the rest demolished. Another day should see that bit of history demolished. Love your work Minister Madden, you *&$#@)&, er, not so good person.

Total number of trams we travelled on today would have been in the high teens. Apart from one wait of five minutes, the rest arrived at the stop as we did. Why anyone would want to drive in the city, I do not know. None were overcrowded, although I do pick my trams carefully. Apart from the Bumblebee type, we travelled on every class of Melbourne tram. Well done Yarra Trams, today at least.

As our contribution of support for the the climate change gabfest at Copenhagen, this year we are not decorating our balcony with lights. Or it could be that we are over it and can't be bothered. Maybe next year.

I have made pizza for Little Jo in the past. She had returned the favour. Mine is more edible.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

From the Balcony

A tram had broken down, causing a long bank up of trams behind the broken one. Of course, it was just as I was heading out to Prahran. Dunno why the other trams could not just go around the broken one. Luckily a bus arrived quickly, so I took that instead.

Usually when I hear a report of an accident on the radio and I am nearby, I have noticed that the accident has already cleared. Not so this time. It was on the radio and I looked down from the balcony to see the cops and other services arrive. Hard to believe, but that patch of dry grass a month later is now bright green. Lovely.

We had a couple of nights of puzzlement as workers beavered away doing something in the median strip. Yay, they are replacing the flower beds that Kennett had put in for the first Grand Prix. No. A couple of days later I saw go in what looked to be the base of a traffic light, the anchor below the ground, not normally seen. Yay, they are going to redo the dangerous intersection to a safer standard. No.

As you can see from the photo, speed and traffic light cameras have been installed. I can't wait till they are commissioned and I can watch the flash going off, especially in the early days before people are aware the cameras are there.

Other cameras have recently been installed at St Kilda Junction inbound and Chapel Street and Dandenong Road inbound. At the same location is an old set of cameras for outbound traffic. Six months ago or so, some were installed in Kingsway at the corner of Sturt Street inbound and Park Street outbound.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Bad Victor

Damn you Victor for mentioning Cabaret today. As I suspected it would, the music from the show has gone around in my head all day, and now I am writing about, it probably will tomorrow too. Sad but true, I know the words from many of the songs in the film Cabaret.

I used to have girlfriend known as Elsie,
With whom I shared two sordid rooms in Chelsea.

She wasn't what you call a blushing flower,
As matter of fact she rented by the hour.

But when she died the neighbours came to snicker,

(Liza Minelli at her concerts when in Australia recently, inserted a pause before the next line. Of course a good percentage of her audience were gay and the rest probably gay friendly and of course gays always abuse drugs and alcohol, so I can only imagine how that would have brought the house down. Liza does have a history of prescription drug and alcohol abuse)

So that's what comes from too much pills and liquor.

But when I saw her laid out like a queen,
She was the happiest corpse I'd ever seen.

I am a gay male, so I am obliged to like Cabaret, but regardless, I think I would like it if I was str8. Go on, you know the tune. Have a sing song. You will feel better for it. Dance and fling your arms about if you must.

Christmas Decs

Ho ho ho. Christmas is coming and public decorations have gone up. Bourke Street Mall, QV shopping centre and the Jam Factory. QV's are fairly simple but quite attention grabbing. I like them.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Fox on the Run

Fox on the Run. Reminds me of music from my youth. Sweet was the band? Bit dirge like music really.

Annie from London Underground site came up with this photo of a fox getting to a platform on The Tube. How good is that. Note fox is standing to the right, as you do in England. In Melbourne we stand to the left on escalators. Stand to the left. Stand left. Yo hearin' me!! Keep left. I am going to make a scene one day.

No Dogs Allowed

This is becoming scarcely believable.

Last week it was Jetstar who's staff apparently did not know that seeing eye dogs are allowed on airplanes. Link to The Age story.

This week it is Qantas and Tiger Airways who have done similar to other people. Link to that story here. Dogs not allowed in Adelaide Airport? What nonsense.

Never mind the ongoing battle blind people with seeing eye dogs have with taxi drivers refusing to carry them and their dogs.

Apart from a lack of human empathy, isn't such discrimination against the law? What on earth is wrong with staff training that such a basic matter seems so unknown?

Bad Jetstar, bad Qantas, bad Tiger Airways and bad some taxi drivers.

Mickey at the Library

I don't know that it is relevant, but it is an Asian Mickey Mouse. Had Mickey been into the library? Wonder what he might have been reading?

Sister News

Sister is no longer preggo. Nowt more to say except we are a bit sad.

Monday, December 07, 2009

WTC Wharf

After our initial visit to South Wharf and the new DFO shopping centre, a few days later I returned to the area for a slower look around the World Trade Centre Wharf. It was Oaks Day. Flinders Street was abuzz with people going off to the horse races but there was decent number flowing into So Cross Station too. A very good train service was being provided, with a train every couple of minutes and people being marshalled via PA to stand at an end of the platform and get into certain carriages.

Opinions are now being expressed on South Wharf and the new DFO store. Take a look here and here and our own visit here. While it is not far from the nearest tram line, there certainly doesn't seem to feel like there is any effort by DFO to attract anyone from the tram lines. No obvious connection at all. I will go out on a limb and suggest that if there is not a quick increase in activity in that area, DFO will fail at this location. From the tram, you must cross a wide and busy road, wind around a couple of buildings, cross the river on this bridge, then walk along the river bank.

Plenty of work is happening on the World Trade Centre Wharf. It might be quite good when it is done. The eateries inside the WTC were quite busy.

Just for Jahteh, I took this closeup photo of the fish. The ever so clever Altissima guessed that they are old Commonwealth Games river fish and that makes sense to me. I found a few more along a short lane.

I am really not sure, but I think this barge might have something to do with putting a new sewerage trunk line under the river.

Back on my way into the city I stood on a corner and looked at this new apartment building and how close it is to the railway line. A few metres from the balconies, a train passes by. Trains are not quiet beasts. Even with double glazing, the occupants would have to hear the trains, or feel the vibration surely. As for the balconies, well, would they really be usable?