Saturday, January 24, 2009

Great Train Journeys #19

Steam trains are kewl. Well, actually, pretty warm, in fact bloody hot in the summer if you are throwing coal into the fire box.

Of course I have been on our world famous Puffing Billy (what Brian? You have never heard of it?) in our Dandenong Ranges. I wrote a bit about it back here with a few photos. It is slow and laborious. I enjoyed it more just watching it pull out of the station and it is great fun to see it go over the timber trestle bridge at Monbulk.

The Nilgiri train in the clip below runs from Mettupalayam to Ootacamund (Ooty) in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Tea is grown in Ooty and the town used to be a cool Raj hill station for the British overlords when they tired of the heat, dust and dirt of the plains around Chennai (Madras).

The train is powered by a Swiss engine and assisted for part of its journey by rack and pinion to help it up inclines of up to 1 in 12.

The clip is very atmospheric in more ways than one. As the train rounds the curve in the distance, it almost seems to stall, but then gathers pace again. You certainly can tell the engine is working hard.

Speakers on now kiddies. The clip was made by Arvind Krishnan.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Behind a Shop for LiD

Probably more than you want to know LiD, but here is the full door where the dragon fly was sitting some time ago. What a pity it has been graffittied. There is another wall, so I could not get any further away for a wider picture. Above is a vent of some sort, which leads me to believe it may be a door to an old lavatory. The vent is very high up, far too high for anyone with a paint spray can, so they must have stood on shoulders or had something to stand on. The step is not well worn, almost looks unused.

Not sure why I have posted a picture of such an ugly door really.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hands off my neck

My beloved Telstra has throttled me again, until Saturday night. It is very odd that some sites, such as my bank still work almost normally, google blog reader is pretty well ok, but do you think I can check my yahoo emails?

My Outlook Express email is timing out all the time and I have go to Telstra's web mail and delete picture files. Telstra's web mail works quite fast.

I am sure real dial up can not be as bad as what is happening to us.

This has only happened once before and I think it was because a certain resident of the highrise downloaded too many large and clear 'interesting' movies. This time it would be because of all the programs I have downloaded to the new computer to replace the ones on the old computer.

Apart from one two year flirtation with Optus Mobile, I have been a faithful Telstra customer for nigh on thirty years, more really, and this is the way they treat me.

But be warned Telstra, I can rewire my bedroom phone through two rooms and get it near the computer. I will choose ADSL over cable. My world will be my oyster then so far as telephony goes.

The Obnoxious Gays

I was on a tram last Sunday when I saw a guy running for the tram between stops. He did catch the tram because the tram took so much time to get past the Punt Road, and he stood on the step of the tram to hold it for his mates. Another was repeatedly tugging at the tram bell cord, no doubt driving the driver crazy. Funnily, they managed to run for the tram and kept their drinks in plastic wine glasses intact and unspilt, later plastic glasses dumped in the tram step well.

While I know str8 guys can be really bad when they have had a drink, is there any group more loudly obnoxious than a gaggle of over the top drunken gay guys?

They are among some really vile over the top vicious queens that can be seen about. I appreciate a bitchy queen. I can't bear these vile ones. I don't understand why the behave like this.

They were heading off to the Midsumma opening Carnival at Alexandra Gardens. Perfect weather for it. I can't remember if I went last year or not. If I didn't, it would be the first I have missed and this year's will be the second.

The event for us in recent years has been like going to a funeral or wedding, where you catch up with so many people, make sincere commitments to catch up soon, and never do.

More latterly it has been a case of seeing who is still alive or at least still around and participating in gay society.

I wish I could regret no longer bothering with such things much, or going out to bars, but I cannot.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Poet Gordon

Adam Lindsay Gordon is an important person in the history of Australian literature. I hold Andrew (Banjo) Patterson and Henry Lawson very highly in my esteem of dead Aussie poets/writers, Adam Lindsay Gordon somewhat lower, because I have no idea of any of his work.

But I know his name, so he worth a post.

Worth a post really that is because outside the Marine Hotel where we et last Saturday with the Brighton Antique Dealer, is a hitching post where he used to tie his horse while he popped in for a Stella or two. It seems to preserved in its original location. The hotel is very old, but you would not know it as it thoroughly modern and posh now. We dined in the public bar, looking down on the suits who were paying considerably more. Ok, while the proper dining area had meals for under $30, there were acutally people there in suits.

The pic above is the hitching post. Perhaps you can remind me of something important he wrote? The text on the plaque reads,

Adam Lindsay Gordon
Poet and Horseman
Tethered his horse to this hitching post
During his residence in Brighton 1869 - 1870
A shining soul with syllables of fire
who sang the first great songs
these lands can claim (Kendall)
Preserved and dedicated to his memory by
The United Licensed Victuallers Association
20th October 1945

New Car Disappointments

The new car disappoints in some areas, mostly because it is the mid model Maxx Sport and not top of the line.

Old 626, foot well lighting, Lantra no, new 3 no.

Old 626, variable intermittent wipers, ditto Lantra, new 3 no.

Old 626, self locking doors when car turned on, ditto Lantra, new 3 no.

Old 626, economy air con option, Lantra no, new 3 no, but does come if climate control is selected as an option.

Old 626, proper spare wheel, ditto Lantra, new 3, a yellow wheelbarrow wheel as a spare.

Old 626, electric retractable radio aerial, ditto Lantra, new 3, screw it off the roof and stow it inside.

Old 626, take off seatbelt when entering home carpark and no problem, ditto Lantra, new 3 sends loud seatbelt off noise.

Old 626, average turning circle, Lantra, excellent turning circle, new 3, poor.

Some good things that the other two cars did not have, drink bottle/coffee cup holders everywhere. There is a period of time after turning the car that you can still put the driver's window up. A connection for an mp3 player. 6 stacker CD player. Do they work like an old juke box?

Having said that, we are very happy with the new motor.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Recommended Reading #44

I try not to do this too often. Peoples tastes are different, but this is really quite a good post that has taken some effort. Extra good if you are familiar with the music from West Side Story and appreciate a pun on our transport minister Kosky and West Side Story's Officer Kotky(?).

The Governor General, Lord Segdwick of Strathmore's post on Melbourne's train troubles.

Collins Penguin

This penguin critter finally has a context. It sat alone in a space for a long time, part of Docklands art projects. I was in town just before christmas and went to the Bureau of Meteorology at the Collins Street Extension to buy a weather calendar for Step Father and Step Mother and her partner. Step Father's pending demise saved me about eighteen dollars. His actual demise cost a lot more. Oh that I could have gotten away with just the price of a calendar.

Do you reckon the penguin looks pretty good from this angle?

Widow Highriser

The widow highriser sits at home alone tonight. R has gone to see the Rocky Horror Show in town. I joined him and friends for a nice meal at the Lemon Bistro (Thai) before they went to the show. One friend went into town to buy Chinese New Year greeting cards and happened to pop his head into the box office, and discovered tickets for $50 each, cheap. He bought three, thinking I would not want to go. I could have at the last minute, but I have an early start in the morning and I was not mentally prepared for it.

Besides, the heat has given me a headache and I have hardly even been out in it today, being a non working day.

I bought a bottle of wine to have with our dinner. R only had one and half glasses and I hate to waste wine, and so felt compelled to finish the bottle.

Depending on the viewpoint, wine and me in public places either works extremely well or extremely badly. You judge.

As I walked to the tram stop along Little Bourke Street, I was overcum with lust. Cute Asian bois, macho Asian guys, blond Scandinavian backpackers, Aussies and Kiwis in town for the tennis. Lust, lust, lust. I want them all!

I was determined to catch an air con tram home, and along came a big one bound for St Kilda. Well, that did not help the situation at all. Heaps of hot young men on the tram and bare flesh everywhere.

Keep your sons at home Mrs Worthington or make sure I just stay at home.

King Obama

Is it tonight or tomorrow our time? The coronation of King Obama of the United States of America? A phrase that keeps coming into my head is, 'the great white hope', but I think it is inappropriate, besides, I don't really know what it means.

How about this one, 'Never have so many been disappointed......', I forget the rest.

Expect a stunning speech from Obama. He is a fine orator.

Like another widely admired black person, Nelson Mandela, Obama will disappoint so many people when nothing really changes. The blacks will remain poor. Good health care will remain a privilege of the rich. Religion will still interfere in every which way. Rich people will get richer, poor people will become relatively poorer. Wars will continue. The thirst for oil unrequited. The big picture environmental questions unanswered.

But just for one day, I will have faith that Barak Obama is the new messiah.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Clearing the decks

This photo was taken with the mobile telephone a good bit before the end of 2008. I can't recall why we were at Fed Square, but we came across this bit of 'artwork'. I think it the bits were spinning or something. There has been some water under the bridge since then.

Don't Touch Anything

Ok, it is a really poor phone camera picture. Perhaps a clearer one would be an invasion of a friend's privacy. But the ex NT Policeman/Politician balks whenever I suggest I give his office a bit of a tidy up. I like to have the dig.

"Leave it alone. I can find everything quickly."

What you can't see is three computers, stacked shelves, papers littering the floor, umpteen folios and filing cabinets.

Phew, and I get stressed by a merging an old computer to a new one.


I just love my QV shopping Centre. It is built on the site of the now gone Queen Victoria Women's Hospital.

Do I recall that an important bloke suffered a heart attack outside the building and there was an argument as to whether the hospital would administer emergency care?

There is a bit of the original that remains facing Lonsdale Street, surrounded by concrete and glass, and it looks great. The remaining bit still houses women's business.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Gone for a burqa

This will be controversial I suppose.

There is talk of banning people from wearing burqas in shops and other places that rely on CCTV for security. Fair call. Ban hoods too. Hoodie wearers are far more likely to cause problems than burqa wearers, but then a burqa could be a very good cover. Who knows what might behind the mask.

Last Monday we had coffee with the Brighton Antique dealer at her abode, and she invited us for dinner at the Marine Hotel in Brighton on Saturday night. We attended and had a very nice meal. We went back to her abode for coffee and I goaded BAD into expressing her opinion, which I already knew, in front of others.

BAD said that she has to stop herself from ripping burqas off Moslem women who wear them, and then burning them.

I don't like women covering their faces because I think the human race depends on facial expression for communication. Ok Brian, blind people have to use some other senses.

BAD was somewhat of a women's libber in the seventies and eighties. She sees the wearing of the burqa as subjucation of women to men.

I have heard arguments from Moslem women for the wearing of the burqa, including how empowering it is, but I remain unconvinced.

So, I think in Australia, BURQAS SHOULD BE BANNED.

Wear all the silly head gear, clothes, hats, wraps, scarves you want, but don't hide your face from me. Reminds me of children. Cover their faces with their hands and no one will see them.

Ok, the above is what you would expect from me, but to personalise matters racial a bit, actually, it was not about race but clothing, Little Jo got very upset when she went for injections last week. She had contact with a very dark skinned person, and she became as frightened as she did when confronted by Santa Clause.

Being a dutiful type Uncle, I better take Little Jo for an outing to Footscray or some such place. I am firmly of the old world. She will have to live in the new world.

What's in a name?

Rather a lot, it would seem, and I feel foolish.

"How is your nephew in Glasgow going?" I was asked by a friend.

"Fine. He has just put some photos up on his Facebook site of Loch Lomond after his visit there. He is living in the druggie area of Paisley"

R chipped in, "What?"

"Photos of Loch LoMOND".


Now I may well have in the past gone for a bit of Roamin' in the Gloamin', but I never connected that Loch LoMOND was Loch LOman.

If the bloody Scots, yes you Jackie, would pronounce the D, I might have worked it out.