Saturday, April 25, 2009

Digger's Day, once again

I was framing a bitter old man post in my head about Anzac Day. I am really fed up with it. Kids and very young men, who were not sacrificing themselves for their country, but going off on an adventure when they were too young and unworldly to understand, sent by self serving politicians and people with vested interests. At least lambs don't volunteer to be slaughtered.

But I won't write such a post.

I will remind you that WWII was not all about us and them. The tragedy was not all about white people, or even Japanese. I direct you to a post by Terra Byte about his grandfather. You don't have to watch the music clips, but the link to Syonan-to educated me about somethings I did not know.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The XXX Mary Street Tram post

Some tram enthusiasts in Sydney spend much time nostalgically gazing up at buildings in the city and the inner suburbs looking for remnants of their once wonderful tram system. On many buildings are rosettes to which the overhead tram wire supports were attached. Unlike today in many cases, very basic functional objects could also be attractive. Looking at nowadays in the future all you would see is a bolt sticking out of a wall.

We were in Oxford Mall at Bondi Junction a few years ago and the mall was being dug up. I wonder if they thought it would be an easier job than it turned out to be, as they busy hauling out old tram tracks that had been covered over in the fifties. Oh to catch a tram from Sydney city to Bondi Beach and get there in 37 minutes.

These reminders of times past are kind of nice. It often takes a keen eye to spot some things. I am proud that quite a few years ago, I noticed steel poles in Wellington Street, St Kilda. I noticed them, thought they were odd and then forgot about them. Melbourne's tram system overhead wires are almost all supported on steel poles if not attached to buildings. A good bit later, I learnt that the Dandenong Road tram used to run along Wellington Street before Queens Way, the St Kilda Junction underpass, was built. I noticed them, even if I did not really.

If you were to cruise some streets of Yarraville and Footscray, you will find the reminders of its tram system in the way of steel poles still in the streets. Have a look at Victoria Street, Charles Street, Gamon Street and Somerville Road.

Which of you smart asses says, what about Barkers Road, Kew? No tram ever along there. Correct, there wasn't, but the tramways erected steel poles to carry electric feeder cables to Glenferrie Road.

Which brings us to a very short section of Mary Street, St Kilda West. The present route 112, West Preston via the city to St Kilda, Fitzroy Street, is not its original route. Before reaching Fitzroy Street, the tram used to turn right into Mary Street and then left into Beaconsfield Parade and travel along the Upper Esplanade to terminate, I think, where the present route 96 tram ends, at the bottom of Acland Street.

I have no idea why the tram was truncated to Fitzroy Street. Maybe traffic problems in Beaconsfield Parade, maybe alterations to the Fitzroy Street and Upper Esplanade interesection, funnily enough being altered again now. Maybe it was tram congestion at Luna Park.

I wonder how many residents of Mary Street have ever thought about why there might be steel poles in their street.

I have had two goes at taking photos in Mary Street and I am not happy with the results. I feel a sense of deja vu about this post as I am sure I have done it already, but in spite of searching, I cannot find it on my blog. The photos just aren't very good, bar the old one, but here we go.

It is certainly a pretty Street. The huge trees spoil it for photography, but aren't they just wonderful. Look closely and you can see the steel poles.

Here is one of the steel poles in Mary Street. Some of the fittings on the pole could be tram related, or the rusty marks indicating where a tram fitting has been removed. From my observations, it could well be what was a tram overhead support wire has been moved and used to suspend some hanging street lighting.
Here is a city bound tram about to swing right into Mary Street. We are looking along Beasonsfield Parade and in the distance, the Acland Street hill.

Amost from the same location as above. The tram has gone. The area is snowed under by trucks and cars. I had to wait a long time before I could get an almost car free picture. The trees at the Cleve Gardens don't seem to have changed much, but everything else has. I should just leave it there, but of course I have to add some personal narrative. See below if you are interested.
I think we used to call it the Triangle. The Triangle is now where the Palais is, and much local government, local residents, developer and state government botheration is happening.

Apparently the area in the photo where you can see the bunched trees is Cleve Gardens. A tram super stop is being built in Fitzroy Street and it will be known as, quite pretentiously in my view, as Cleve Plaza. We already have a St Vincents Plaza. It is a tram stop, a well designed and good tram stop, but just a tram stop.

There was an ablution block on Cleve Gardens. In the early eighties it was a place for guys to meet guys for a bit of boi on boi action, or to even pick up rent bois. I could not possibly confirm that it was my VE Valiant that may have been parked there one night in 1980 and there was a hot straight boi at my window chatting to me. He mentioned out of the blue $40. I had no idea what he was on about but he became very annoyed when I indicated that for whatever $40 was for, the price was too high. In fact hot straight boi turned into ugly straight boi and suggested that I should not be such a smart ass. My interest in Cleve Gardens disappated as I realised straight boi might actually be straight and that type of foreign born who may spit on the street was not to my taste. (Oh, how I can lie).

It took Premier Jeff Kennet to turn Cleve Gardens into something not memorable. By the nineties, the local aborigines had decided it was a good place to camp, and they could even have a wash in the ablution block. In 1996 the Australian Grand Prix is coming to Melbourne. Get rid of the undesirables. Knock the toilet block down. Get the boongs out of sight of the nice people we want to attract to our city. And it came to pass, and they did leave. It would not surprise me if was a bit of our local tribe's land.

Since then it has been a nothing place. But as I type, Cleve Gardens is being reinvented.

End of Age IT

Back in 1994 or 95 when the first computer arrived in the highrise, well, it was low rise then, I knew absolutely nothing about them except that there was an email facility. You could write some words and send them electronically to another person who had email, but not many did have it back then.

The computer came with three months free internet access. The company should have paid us for such a beastly service that took forever to connect to.

I did not adapt to the new world immediately, and so I would write urls down on paper, along with email addresses.

In my struggle to understand this fangled new machine, I had a variety of sources to help. Our friend in Japan gave me some advice I recall, and showed me I have never bought anything from Amazon though. My Sydney friend lived in Melbourne back then, and he showed me how to make folders to put stuffs in, a few good sites, and how to structure the Windows Explorer tree to work for me. Aside from these two people, I learnt pretty much everything else myself, along with eagerly listening to experienced people on the radio, including the venerable Charles Wright.

I used to buy PC User magazine mostly for the programs from the attached CD. However, there was one source that helped me a great deal. It helped me understand the bigger picture of the world wide web, commerce and the internet and best of all, a help column and tips and tricks.

I speak of The Age Information and Technology supplement in every Tuesday's edition. My excercise book not only had hand written urls and email addresses in it, it also had page after page of tips and tricks and problem solving snipped from the paper and pasted in. Most of these quickly became redundant as things evolved, but I recall using some of them. I still have the exercise book. It is a laugh to flick through.

Over time the IT section of The Age has become smaller and smaller and earlier this year it was given its burial. I recognise that its time has come and that there are new ways to access information. But I can't help but being a bit saddened by its passing.

So, for all who used to write for The Age IT section and you all you idiots who kept asking stupid questions, the answers which I found so useful, I thank you.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Never been kissed before

The English folks are going off about this lass, or should that be matron? Who is this Scottish chickie babe? I try to resist popular culture and fail all the time. Have you heard her sing? She is magic. She hasn't been kissed by any girl or a guy, in a proper way. Can I assume she has not been penetrated, as yet? I was up for rolling the eyes until I heard her sing.

I will cautiously overcome my scepticism..........

That is how I started this post a few days ago and that is embarrassing writing. It was up for an edit, but regardless, I'll just leave it for now as a lesson to myself on how not to write. I was right to be sceptical me thinks and that was even before watching the actual clip on Youtube. I had heard her sing and seen a still photo of her.

I had the impression that she was a simple country lass from a small village who for some reason could sing like a angel. She had devoted herself to looking after her aged parents and never had the opportunity to form a romantic relationship. It wasn't sitting quite right for me though. The cheering made it hard to hear her voice properly, but from what I did hear, it was exceptionally good and she had vocal TECHNIQUES.

The next day I watched the whole clip and quickly concluded that like most of these shows, it was all very managed and the feigned surprise by the judges, just that, feigned.

With very little searching, up came a Youtube clip of her singing Cry Me a River right back in 1999. Beautiful. But the vocal techniques very obvious, even to a non musical person like me.

I suppose she could have learned this herself by listening to recordings, but I am very doubtful. It sounds awfully like a trained voice to me.

Not that it all really matters that much. Britains Got Talent and Susan Boyle has received publicity that all the tea in China could not buy. I hope Ms Boyle does well. She truly has a fantastic voice and is no doubt enjoying her fifteen minutes plus of fame. I certainly don't see her as any sort of victim, or niave, that's for sure.

Sydney Bus Outrage

Trim a bit here, chop a bit here, cut that bit out. How easy it is to alter bus routes, unlike trams where it much harder to alter a route.

In the early 2000s, along with R's sister and brother in law, we were staring up Bayswater Road in Kings Cross, vainly waiting for a bus to take us to the Quay.

Oh look, where did this one come from. Quickly, it says Circular Quay, we'll grab it. It had come down Darlinghurst Road and was continuing in that direction towards the Harbour. Little did we know. It felt like it took an hour to get to the Quay, but just checking timetables, it would have been a bit over thirty minutes.

The bus route begins at Railway Square, Central Station, and travels under the Eddy Avenue viaduct, down Elizabeth Street, Liverpool Street and Oxford Street where it then turns in Darlinghurst Road. You go along the main drag in Kings Cross and along Macleay Street before heading off towards Elizabeth Bay Road whereby it follows the circuit of the road and then does a marvellous diversion down Ithica Road and loops around to rejoin Greenknowe Avenue. The streets twist and turn, up hill and down dale. None of us regretted catching the slow bus to the Quay, it was such an interesting trip.

While it is only pretty well half hour service, the bus was quite busy, with people, most of them older local people, getting on and off the bus as we went. It was a very nice trip for us tourists but clearly a very useful local bus for local people. It seems not everyone in Elizabeth Bay is rich.

After that part, it goes down to Cowper Wharf Road and then back to William Street via back streets of Wooloomoolloo? and on to the Quay in a more conventional manner.

Now Sydney Buses want to chop off a bit of the route, the most interesting bit, the Ithica/Billyard/Onslow loop where the numbers are on the map. I don't doubt it is uneconomic, but I will plead that it is socially useful. Shame Sydney Buses. 'Want to' are perhaps wrong words, it is fait acompli. The service cut will start this coming Sunday.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ten things I won't do before I die

I shall not read Anna Karenina or War and Peace. Le Researche was enough for me.

I will not revisit tv programs or movies I loved seeing when I was a kid. They will disappoint.

I will not travel to America. We already have the best and the worst of it here. Ok, I could say that about England, which I loved. Perhaps that is a maybe.

I will not watch semi pornographic music videos on tv. What message are they sending to young people? I may make an exception if there are hot bare topped guys in the clips.

I will not stop thinking racist, sexist, homophobic, anti religious thoughts and stereotypes. I will continue to treat every other human as a fellow human and try to defend the weak.

I will not go camping in the great outdoors. There are many good reasons why the Hilton was invented.

I will not respect peoples views just because they are old. You may develop experience and cunning when you get older, but wisdom, no.

I will not grow fond of palm trees being planted everywhere along our local beaches. I don't find light poles with feather dusters stuck on top of them to be very attractive.

I will not trust cloud computing and continue to save my own files on my own dodgy media, well not yet.

Add any of your own.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


The present occupant of Raheen is on his deathbed by the sound of it and tributes are flowing in. Funny, I remember him as being a crook and a reversed Robin Hood. See what Lord Sedgwick has to say about him.

It only just struck me tonight that it is a bit odd that what once was a house owned by the Catholic Church, and where the infamous Archbishop Mannix lived, is owned and lived in by Jewish people. I reckon old Danny Mannix would be turning in his grave.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Service Interruption

Blog posts from me may be very thin on the ground for a couple of days or more. I am focusing on my family tree and getting down and ordered what I can.

Working out rels takes time and just getting them onto the online tree is time consuming. While the really old stuff is for the future, I am at the moment focusing on people who Mother can remember. Trouble is, you can go in so many directions. I need to focus on just going backwards.

I also wonder if this has been done by someone else before and I am only repeating what they have done? Could I tack my bit onto theirs, so to speak? Combine knowledge? How would you find it anyway?

In Connex Train/Yarra Tram speak, Highriser apologises for the interruption and any inconvenience caused.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Recommended Listening

Podcasts are great for when you have time alone and can listen to them properly. I have very much enjoyed listening to the Great Train Show, which comes from our national government broadcaster, the ABC.

I listened to a couple of podcasts from JOY, our gay radio station. One was an interview with an Iranian gay prospective immigrant. He sounded nice but being sentenced to eighty lashes and then being raped probably wasn't much fun. Check out the tale here, about half way down the list. Both interesting and scary.

Another was with a dyke orphan dwarf, Margo, who lives in Melbourne. She is happy with term dwarf. At some point I realised I had seen her many years ago. Then later I realised I had met her at Pokeys on my first visit to the venue, with two dyke friends. I remember she was standing on a bench seat. You met her Vik? It is a good positive story and it is about third down the list.

Tick all of those off, but what I am in progress of listening to is two older chicks talking and they are brill. I am rather fond of 'women of a certain age'. I always have been even when I was younger. These two talk like blokes never do, whatever age they are. I remember Angela Catterns when she used to broadcast on our ABC. I think she was a late night presenter when local radio went national. She was a very professional broadcaster with knowledge of her subject which, music I think. She has a good radio voice. I am not sure that Wendy Harmer's voice could be described as a good radio voice, but not too many people in Australia would not have heard of her. Stand up comic. Radio broadcaster. TV show host. She is good. Be you in Australia, the UK or the US or anywhere else, they will entertain you. I highly recommend Is It Just Me?

Lady of the Swamp Update 2

A new comment has been added to Lady of the Swamp Update.

It reads

I posted some comments on your blog about a year ago and have some great news! Tullaree is open to the public once only on Sat 2 May between 10am-4pm (fund raiser for a local school). There will be historical displays, music & associated food, suggest all those curious about Lady of the Swamp cancel all other engagements.

Rob from Walhalla

The original post is here and the update here.