Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Party

As you know, I hate parties, unless I pretty well know everyone there. But we are going to a party tonight. How exciting.

I don't know how we know this chap, but we used to often eat in his restaurant in Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn. He used to give us free port after dinner and sometimes asked us upstairs to where he lived. He had an amazing collection of Chinese artifacts and furnishings, all quite ugly really.

He was Vietnamese born and although he had been married and had a teenage son, he was very gay when we met him. We fell out of touch after he sold the restaurant. Out of the blue he rang the brother friends a couple of weeks ago and asked us to a party.

The brother friends enquired as to the health and age of his son, nothing to do with him being very nice looking. Expecting a reply that the lad was in his early twenties, they were and so am I, surprised to learn he is a thirty one year old solicitor. Where have the years gone.

Oh, yes, did I mention that the friend from the past now lives on the thirty sixth floor of a new city apartment building in Franklin Street?

Now R will get restless and want to move again if it turns out to be a classy place. I shall snobbishly point out to him that we at least, do not have a German owned supermarket at the base of our building.


To get everything done on the internet that I want to, I am forced to lunch in front of the computer. I was taught to sit at the table to eat.

Our friend in the Western District of the State has a slightly annoying habit of describing things in detail when naming them, such as a bunch of flowers becomes a bunch of Dutch Flag Iris. Not the car needs fixing, but my Mazda 323 sedan needs repairs. Not salmon for dinner, but Tasmanian west coast salmon.

In this post, I shall adopt his habit and use the names.

On your left is a tin of John West chilli flavoured tuna, my favourite tuna brand and flavour.

Then to the right is a bowl of salad comprising fresh vine ripened truss tomatoes, burpless cucumber, Kalamata black olives and Spanish red onions, over which has been drizzled home grown lemon juice and extra virgin cold pressed olive oil.

To the far right are two slices of Helga's Light Rye bread and to the left of that, extra virgin cold pressed olive oil with added balsamic vinegar from Modena, Italy, for dipping the bread into.

This would have been a much quicker post if I had been eating a Four 'n' Twenty pie with dead 'orse.

Oh yeah, I had finished my lunch before I finished reading Brian's post about some old thing in some old country.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Load Shedded

I have no problem with being load shedded, apart from the obvious that it shouldn't happen. I must take my turn, except........when a building like this one is turned off, it means people are stuck in lifts and people can't get in or out of the car park. It was half an hour, not so bad.

We invited Sister and Little Jo for a swim, some air con and R cooked a great dinner, fortunately just being served up as the electric went off. Actually, no electric was used in preparing the dinner.

Well, with the air con off, Sister did not hang around. She was anxious to get home and open her place up to the breeze.

We opened windows for a time, but oh, it was cooler but still pretty warm, so one the electric was back on, shut the place up again.

I just can't agree with shutting areas off that have a lot of lifts, meaning people are trapped. I have heard of a brilliant technical solution way of load shedding. Remind me if I forget to write about it.

The chaos that had enveloped our city will generate an email at least, from me to local member Martin Foley.

Brushes with fame

I am destined to only ever be brushed by fame and never have it myself. Maybe if I actually did something, it might help.

After returning from the hospital yesterday, I had two fame brushes. That is, blog mates received some fame.

Reuben managed to get himself filmed by the Herald Sun newspaper where he showed considerable disrespect to our disrespected State Transport Minister. Have a look at the lad in action here. The video on the right of the page. Nice work Reuben.

Then an email from Tony arrived to point out the Melbourne's History in Old Signs Google Map received some coverage by the Herald Sun on Wednesday. As I don't buy the paper and it did not seem to be online, I had missed it. I get a faint mention towards the end of the story.

Below is the text and I don't really think Tony spends most of his life walking Melbourne's footpaths.

Hi-tech historian

Tony Malloy turned to technology to preserve old signs of the times, writes Richard Conrad.

A yarn web designer Tony Malloy read in The Sun News-Pictorial about 30 years ago inspired a hobby that has just won him a $2000-plus laptop.

Malloy won a MacBook as first prize in Google Australia's My Maps Awards for creating a photographic collection of fading old Melbourne signs.

"I can picture the day sitting in Nana's kitchen in Shepparton when I was about 10 or 12," Malloy says.

"While eating breakfast, I read an article in the Sun - a short piece witha photo of an old sign atop a building - and the author made an impassioned plea to document these signs before they disappeared.

"It must have struck a chord because that simple idea stayed with me for more than 25 years.

"Now, thanks to digital cameras, the internet and Google Maps I've been able to act on that idea and it all just came together.

"It maybe a little late for many of the signs that were around when the original article was written, but hopefully it's not too late for many more."

Malloy says he now spends most of his life walking along Melbourne footpaths - particularly around inner-city areas staring up at the higher walls of buildings, because that's where most of the older newspaper signs have survived.

There are now more than 100 photos of old Melbourne signs tagged on a Google My Map, It's A Sign -Melbourne's History in Old Signs.

Malloy has been assisted by a fellow he's never met, called Andrew(that's ME!!!), who has added about 30 photos to the map.
"The aim is for it to be an ongoing collection, concentrating onMelbourne - but it's set up so it can go nationwide or global," Malloy says.
The sign project is also online at a site called Our Fading Past.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Carting Mater Around

It was forecast to be 40 degrees today when Mother said she was cancelling her appointment at the eye and ear hospital. I believed her and adjusted my day off to suit. Sister advised me yesterday that Mother had not cancelled appointment. Am I surprised, no. I kept the day flexible.

I tried calling her last night and this morning, but always the phone was off the hook. At ten this morning the phone went back on and of course she was keeping the appointment. Grrrrr.

Sister had been at her, cajoling her and pointing out that if she got another appointment in two weeks, it might still be hot. Better to get it over and done with. I had already told her air con house, to air con car to air hospital, to air con car to air con home shouldn't be too hard.

Although I must say, once off the motorway and in slow Punt Road traffic, the car air con was struggling.

I delivered Mother and we et lunch and then she was seen reasonably quickly by public hospital standards. Sister arrived with Little Jo to take Mother home. It was only five hours out of my day, from 10.30 till 3.30.

Sister's car's baby seat is in R's car. So, what a laugh, Sister was driving the Bone Doctor's truck, well 4wd. She sotto voice said to me that the air con in the truck wasn't working well. What a nice suprise for Mother when she leaves the hospital. Transport home in the truck with minimal air con. I can only imagine her look when she steps out of the cool of the hospital and sees the truck sitting there.

I despair

Who is responsible for this mess? You whistle and I will point.

Our train system seems to be near collapse because of the hot weather. What? Hot weather in Mellbourne? Who would have thought.

We don't have enough water. My 75 year old mother has to hand water twice a week and today said she has giving up a good bit of her garden to survival of the fittest. She will no longer be able to indulge in her one non selfish activity. What? Drought in Australia? Who would have thought.

Power load shedding has started. Areas are being turned off because there is not enough electricity. Look how many home air conditioners have been sold in the last few years. What? Not enough electricity supply to run them? Who would have thought.

So who is responsible for public transport? Who is responsible for water supply Who is responsible for electricity?

You whistle, I will point.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Delaying trams, trains, buses, cars

One argument from our train company Connex in their defence over delays that struck a chord with me was Australian culture. Things that other countries do to keep their trains moving, would be unacceptable in Australia.

I recall a fatal accident that we happened across on major Bangkok road. I asked a person later who knows about such things, and he told me that a response team will be there very quickly, the body and car will be quickly removed, and traffic would be back to normal within half an hour. In Australia, you could expect the road to be completely closed for four hours minimum, possibly six hours while pc plod ponderously go about their investigations and a haulage machine to remove the car is brought in from 50 kilmetres away. Getting the road moving again is not a priority. So many people are inconvenienced and the flow on effect can last for hours later.

I am not sure how trams and buses work in other cities around the world if a passenger falls ill, but in Melbourne, the vehicle will remain stationary until an ambulance arrives. In the case of trams, that means no vehicle will move, since trams can't get around a stationary tram in front. I had an experience of this once, when a fellow passenger took a fit. Fortunately the tram was at such a location that it could turn a corner and get out of the way of a major route and wait for the ambulance, only inconveniencing a minor route.

If it is sick passenger on a train, the train will remain stationary at a station until an ambulance arrives and the paramedics remove the person from the train. In other countries, the ill passenger is removed from the train, with a staff member to look after them and the train goes on. Well, we can't do that hey, coz the only staff member at an unmanned station, and there are a lot of unmanned stations, is the train driver.

A sick passenger on one train may delay tens of thousands over the day from flow on effects. How about this Connex? A fast response team to get to a station to attend to an ill person who has been removed from a train.

Or even in the extreme, dump them on a platform, call for assistance for them and the train continues on.

People fainting on a train seems to becoming more common. Connex would like you to believe that the reason is that people aren't eating a proper breakfast. They are not going to say it is because of overcrowded trains. We westerners are clearly different to Asian people, who sometimes get crammed and pushed into trains.......and we all know nothing stops a Japanese train.

How many people are on a packed Melbourne train? I don't know, a thousand? That so many should be inconvenienced, plus the flow on effect, by one passenger having a fainting fit and the train having to remain stationary until an ambulance arrives, seems wrong to me.

Should I have a fainting fit, I would be very embarrassed, but even more embarrassed if I knew that I had totally stuffed up the train system, by the train having to wait until an ambulance arrived and I was removed.

I really don't think Connnex's argument is sound. It is not Australian culture that delays our public transport, in the mentioned area at least. It is Connex's way of dealing with such matters.

Odd Street Lamp

Remember back when I posted about a rather odd gas street lamp in nearby South Yarra? And then there were these very old ones in Armadale and Balaclava I posted pictures of too. It has since been confirmed to me that the Fire Station one is an original and has been there for decades.

I came across another odd one, well actually a pair, one on each corner of the street. At least one reader will probably recognize the location. The posts are concrete and the lamp not in the photo is sitting at a jaunty angle. Looks like they are for the chop though. Sad really. There is clearly a bit of interesting history to them.

What could be more Australian?

What could be more Australian than ending up hot, sticky, salty, sweaty and tired on Australia Day? I took precautions and did not end up burnt.

Last week I mentioned to Sister that I was not working on Australia Day and should we take Mother out?

Sister ran with the idea and insisted we should. I was hoping she would be doubtful. When I next spoke to Mother and asked her where she would like to go, with some trepidation she suggested Mornington Beach. Is that too far? Bloody oath it is, I should have said. That makes nearly four hours of driving for me.

R correctly guessed we would not be home before 8pm and he was right. Mother had managed to find her beach umbrella, but not beach chairs. Is that why my back is aching today? Either sitting on sand for an extended period or sitting driving for an extended period.

I had already mapped out the circuitous route and found my way to Mornington. No one mentioned that there was an Australia Day parade in Mornington earlier and a vintage hot rod car display. Mornington was so busy. The perve factor was 10/10 though. There was no where that we liked the look of to eat at, so at Mother's suggestion we had Subway. Quite nice really.

The main beach was packed with no car spaces, as was the one slightly north. We headed south and ended up at a lovely beach, Mount Martha South Beach. We spent a couple of hours on the beach and it was quite nice under the umbrella. Perve factor 9/10.
Returning to take Mother home, we went via Cranbourne and happened across take away food place that my Sis in Law manages.

She wasn't there but twenty year old neice was and gave us roast meat sandwiches for half price.

We gulped the food down back at Mother's, and rushed off home and I was very quickly showered and in bed for a 4am rise.

I like living near the sea. I like going to the beach for a walk or a cup of coffee. I like looking at the sea and its moods. But I am truly well past sitting on a beach, covered in sunscreen, wearing a hat that makes my head hot, getting sand where it ought not be, including in the car.

Mornington is very nice though. I checked it out before hand with a vague idea that I might get to do something I wanted to do. Alas, the steam train was not running for me to see it shunt and depart and there was a general lack of enthusiasm to visit the local historical org's venue at the old post office.

I will revisit to do what I want to do, when this insane heat has passed.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Highrise Aussie Day Eve

Sunday was lovely. Met up with our dyke friends, two other dyke friends, the brother friends and Dame M's boarder for brunch at Mojitos in Commercial Road. Fine meal and just for once, all males present were in agreement that the waiter was hot! It helps a lot when they seem to be a nice person too, but it would be rare for us all to like the same guy.

Afternoon, nothing, just like I like it. But by evening, R was getting restless and suggested we go to the casino to see the animated Chinese New Year decorations.

We caught the 55 tram to the Casino and watched the display. We went onto to the food court for a light Asian meal, after our big brunches.

R spent 15 minutes winning a few bucks while I watched a couple get into a gondalier boat, get served champers and propelled up the river. We caught the tram home again just in time to catch Dr Who.

Pretty perfect day really.

Recommended reading #51or Australia Day #101

My Aussie Day post, the first. What we actually did, later.

Does this just not do your head in? Two lads, both brought up in Australia and not too distant from each other in age.

One paints a stunningly vivid picture an Australian scene that perhaps many of us idolise as being the quintessential Australia, populated by Aussie blokes and sheilas.

The other has an appearance to me as not feeling like he fits into this country so well.

If you want further reading on not fitting into Australia, have a read of a returnee's thoughts.

There was a time when I was younger that I imagined living in another country, a place where our dollar would buy cheap sex and servants, but that has long passed. I can truly now say, as much as I liked England and could certainly live there during the summer, so long as I could modify my residence to Australian standards, Australia is my country and this is where I belong.

Australia is made up of all the people linked in this post and yours truly, and then many others besides. While I rejoice that the old Australia remains, I love the new Australia too.

The old by Mutant.

The new and not feeling like he fits by Reuben.

The discontented returnee by Pants. (btw, I thought the bus ads were brilliant. Never get away with here)

Pour yourself a glass or brew yourself a cup, deep breath, breath out and relax and take your time to read these posts properly. They are worthy.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sand Sculptures

Before our friend from Japan left to return to Japan, she, R, myself and the Ambo Chick went to see the sand sculptures at Frankston. We had a lovely day and the sculptures were most impressive. It is very near the intersection where there are pubs or bars on all four corners. Here area couple of random photos I took. Our Japanese friend has a much better camera and no doubt technique, hence her pictures were superior.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

City Link

It was R's turn to learn about Mother when he carted her to the Eye and Ear Hospital. He drove nearly an hour in a direction and collected her, drove nearly an hour back to the Eye and Ear, and then bought her lunch, and then after her seeing an eye doctor, drove an hour back to take her home and an hour back to get home.

After Mother saw the eye doctor, she offered to shout R afternoon tea. Whoa, that kind of sounds like my mother but does not in some ways. Mother decided that the tea bags are too weak and she needed two, and somehow manipulated R to cashier and R paid.

R has finally cottoned on to my mother. There are good reasons why my brain damaged brother always asks for cash up front before doing any shopping for Mother.

Sister was going to take Mother to Eye and Ear next Thursday, entailing a trip with Little Jo on board, one hour out, one hour in, one hour out and then stay the night and help with messages the next day. Older brother with a day off, moi, stepped up to crease and offered to pick up Mother and deliver her, and then Sister can pick her up. That way I will only have to pay for lunch and Sister will have to pay for arvo tea from her pension.

Mother did mention how kind R was on the phone a few days later and asked if she should do anything for him. I did not mention to pay for afternoon tea as you offered, but suggested a thank you card would be appreciated muchly. I would like R to remain a bit cynical about Mother, but not to dislike her.

Oh yes, the subject line is City Link, one of our pay roads. Andy had a good old rant at someone here, but there was some truth to the complaint as we found out once when we travelled Citylink four times in one day and incurred a debit of around $20. Everyone is entitled to, I think eight, day passes per year for around $10. R intended buying one and slipped his Etag into the glove box, but as he went under the first charging point, the Etag beeped regardless. There really is no reason why it can't be done electronically via the Etag. City Link are money grubbing bastards, but I wish I had bought some shares in the company when they were at a low price.

Myer Phone Number

As I have written before, but can't now find, where we grew up, telephone party lines were common. Our old one was 41W or 41UU. I never saw it written, so I don't know which. A short ring followed by two longer rings would get our attention.

By the time I came more phone aware, most phone numbers were six digits, ** ****. Then along another digit, *** ****. Now **** ****. I don't think the number of land lines would now be increasing at the pace they were. It is now cheaper to have broadband internet than two dial up lines, one for the phone and one for the pc. That was the clinching factor when we switched to broadband in the late nineties.

Before my time, Melbourne phone numbers used to be two letters, followed by mostly four digits e.g. UV 1234.

One phone number that always used to amuse me, and I know some of you will remember it, is Myer Melbourne, our large department store in the city.

Here is the present one for the main switchboard, 9661 1111. Relying on memory here, but only shortly before phone numbers went to seven digits, the Myer number became 61 1111. But for most of the time when I think every phone number in Melbourne had six digits, an old one of ours in Balaclava was 31 4101, the 31 one denoting a connection to an Elwood exchange, Myer stuck with just five digits, 6 1111.

I think this lasted into the nineteen nineties and seems very odd nowadays and did even back then. Do I recall the switchboard used to answer with 'Which department please?'