Saturday, August 15, 2009

Scum on Earth

I don't have much experience of used car salesmen. They are always men. I do have quite some experience of real estate sales people though. Whether you are buying or selling, they are scum. Ok, some aren't so bad. We have had some almost ok experiences.

But would I want to deal with two companies in particular again. I could not recommend Hocking Stuart to buy or sell your home. As rental agents, they are great, both for owner and renter. Very reasonable.

But there is a real shocker out there. Gary Peer. Here is a link to his website. I am sure his behaviour is legal, but whether it is moral is another matter all together. He certainly got up our goat once and did a disservice for those who he was acting for.

Speaking of immoral or illegal, how does this work? People bid for house, the hammer falls, and then the agent accepts later bids. Real estate agents just know they can get away with flouting laws. I am not saying they did in this case, but it is very odd.

Beside the bed

Does every gay male have a bedside cupboard that they would prefer their mothers not to look into? We used to have two of these, one each side of the bed, but along with all the other antiques, one was sold. Apart from the residents of our highrise, little else is old.

Maybe straight men have such cupboards too? Until they get hitched at least.

Note that it is securely locked against snoopers, especially any Mutantish like snoopers. Wouldn't want him getting all exited.

If you are really wicked, you could suggest what may be in there.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Left over bits

Yesterday when I saw Mother, my jaw dropped and my eyes widened. What is it, she asked? What you are wearing? She had some kind of slacks on. I have never seen Mother in anything else by a dress or skirt. Well, excepting many years ago, culottes. Keeping me warm Andrew. I hate them though. She changed before she went out of course. They are Fletcher Jones slacks that belonged to a dead aunt.

Sms from Sister after Pink concert last night. Pink had been at Healesville Sanctuary a short time before Sister was there on the same day. If Little Jo hadn't fallen asleep just before Healesville, and Sister gone on to Marysville so that Little Jo could sleep a little longer, then she may well have seen her.

Achievement day at the highrise.

Ironing done. 1.5 hr
Washing done. 1/4 hr
Papers sorted for tax return next week and old papers shredded. 2 hr
Four phone calls made. 30 min
Stove top cleaned. 15 min
Dining chairs cleaned. See, I told you they were white. 45 min
Digital radio investigated at store. 1/2 hr
Medicare claim. 15 mins
Excessive water bill for E St Kilda flat investigated. 20 mins
Food shopping done. 30 mins

So where did the rest of the day go?

City Street SciFi

In a lane off Little Collins Street, deep underground, is the Russell Place electrical substation. It is a particularly notable place because it has a working mercury arc rectifier, the last in Melbourne I believe. The substation was built in 1882, making it one of Australia's earliest.

When I say working, it doesn't actually supply power any more but has been kept operational for historical display purposes. So what does it do? Or did?

I don't know much about electricity. Here is what I think is right. AC, alternating current, is the type that comes out of your power point. This was not always the case. Maybe not in Australia, but some homes were powered with DC, direct current. I don't know why DC was preferred over AC, but it was, especially for powering lifts, trams and trains, machinery such as a wool press, pumps and other heavy equipment.

Electric substations for Melbourne trams were sprinkled around the city. They converted 240V AC to 600V DC. Some of the substations used mercury arc rectifiers to make the conversion. They were like a giant blue lit light bulb and contained mercury. As the power required waxed and waned, the lamps grew brighter or duller. The more power being drawn, the harder the rectifiers worked and the brighter they glowed.

If you have been around for a while, you might have ridden on an old W class tram and when they were out near their suburban termini and the power supply was low, you could see the interior lights get brighter or duller as the driver cut on or cut off power or other trams in the vicinity did the same. Back at the substation, the rectifier would have been doing the opposite to the tram lighting.

Now this might all sound very much old stuff, but it isn't that old. The mercury arc rectifier in Russell Place was still working in 2003 supplying DC current to the lifts in the nearby Victoria Hotel in Little Collins Street.

Here is the substation, such an innocuous looking building, but below ground level, it is massive with several levels.

Below is a Youtube clip by JennaDDDD. She? states it supplied 750V DC, but I think it was 600V DC for trams at least. I am sure I have seen one of these in the Tardis. Maybe Tardis is powered by 600V DC.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Just a day

I am f......eeling a little weary. R has the flu and was very ill yesterday and barely rose from his bed. In sympathy and with my best bedside manner, today on my day off, I left him at home to wallow in his misery and visited Mother.

Last night I was dispatched to the local for a bottle of medicinal brandy. I awoke this morning after an excellent sound night's sleep to find an empty bottle. Not sure about R, but for me, although slightly hungover, I felt well rested.

Tuesday morning I bought petrol on the way to work. I needed to check tyre air pressure, but I did not have enough time. Wednesday I went to check tyre pressure, but machine was broken. This morning tyre pressure. Will Mutant be horrified? 34 front, 32 rear. I checked the car oil and water as advised to do so by my mechanic after my head gasket was replaced. I did this at home and the car park is not so bright. I am not sure which dipstick is which? Both looked like engine dipsticks and in the gloom, I could not tell the oils apart, but I established there was oil in both and coolant in the reservoir.

I battled a hundred and one different speed limits on City Link and and Monash Freeway. I was damn angry at 40 kph for several kilometres when it was necessary for only one km.

Mother had a list. I wish she had have told me she wanted window cleaning done. I would have brought my own equipment. Sorry, run out of Windex. You will have to use metho (Dina, do you call is Salix or something like that?)

The outside of the windows too Andrew. She started raving about some Windex product you can fit to her high pressure spray machine. Alas she did not have it. Among the piles of junk in the garage, I found a squeegee without a handle that looked like it would do the job. It wasn't too bad, but I still had to wipe off streaks with a cloth. I never realised how hot our winter sun can be.

Hang the washed curtains back up. Tick. Put the hanging clips in the drapes. I didn't take them down so I don't know how they go up. Her friend will do that. Put doona cover on Sister's and Little Jo's doona. Had to be washed. Little Jo germs. Me putting a doona cover on is worth filming as a comedy. Third attempt lucky. Why don't I have my own Doona Man who is acomplished at such matters? Will complain bitterly to Sister. Five rose bushes need pruning? Lucky I brought my secataurs. By golly that sun is hot. I must be standing under the ozone layer hole. Yes Mother, I will wipe down the window sills, of course.

Soup and toast for lunch. Edible.

Shops now. To save time, I went one way and Mother the other and met at Richies Supermarket. I did not join her strolling the aisles. It would have slowed everything down as she talked. I read the community notice board. Oh look, there is a car the same as late Step Father's for sale. Oh, it is late Step Father's car for sale. $1300. Bit steep. $800 maybe. No sign of ads for his six circular saws that I noticed piled in the laundry.

I was feeling very weary by this time. I pace myself when doing physical stuff at home. But Andrew, can you drive past ABI Brother's place to check is all well. Not quite drive past. We had to stop while Mother lamented the state of his garden and checked that 'Indian or something' neighbours were collecting his mail.

We are supposed to be babysitting Little Jo tonight while Sister goes to see Pink. But R is in no condition to look after her and I am apparently unsatisfactory as a carer. Bone Doctor's sister was bribed with dvds, a meal and a promise they would leave early if it was getting too late. Poor Little Jo, how boring it will be for her. The gay Uncles are much more fun. R has bought her a new Thomas the Tank Engine cup and bowl and I found a Nemo book in the recycling bin. I didn't retrieve the Learning to Love your Arthritis book, the microwave oven, the ironing board, the computer or any other useful stuff I noticed. Oh, I did grab the skateboard though. Nowt wrong with it.

So, not having seen Little Jo for a week, I called in to Murrumbeena on the way home. Little Jo had been to Healsville Sanctuary and Marysville the day before. She was well again after her week plus long illness.

Little Jo showed me her new bed and for some reason the bath. She had been to playgroup and made something for the ill Uncle R. Except she pulled one of the cupcake thingies off and tipped an outdoor table caught water over it. Still, R will treasure it.

Quiet night tonight then. No Little Jo. No brandy fuelled nonsense conversations. Early night in preparation for another day off work tomorrow. Maybe we will see a movie. It has been ages.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Costco and apologies

Sorry about the flood of posts. I am now cleansed. Why can't I just publish and be damned and not get a back up?

Anyway, here is a post I wrote earlier today.

Costco opens at Docklands on the 17th of August. I may have a look out of curiosity. Given you must take out a sixty dollar membership to buy anything. Given I like our existing style of supermarket. Given I dislike Docklands. Given parking is terribly expensive at Docklands (maybe there will be free parking for customers) Given I am already put offside by the sentence below, for all those factors, I doubt it is a place for me. Will it succeed in Australia? I think not, so therefore it probably will.

'Australian's aren't used to seeing things like diamonds and bathroom tissue under the same roof.'

Hey bozo, we use toilet paper, not bathroom tissue. Pre-opening hype marketing, fail.

PS I could have said 'toilet paper to wipe our arses', but that would be too crude I think. I always try to keep my posts tasteful. Yeah, better to leave that out and stick to the original.

Deck Clearance 30/07 Bus Stop Ad

This is pretty clever hey. The picture is made up of lots of small photos.

Better still, I saw a photo in a photographic shop in Glenferrie Road done the same way. It was a picture of a toddler, made up by all of his baby photos. All his photos made up into a portrait that looked exactly like him.

Sometimes I am glad I live in the age of high tech.

Deck Clearance 21/07 The Guardian

Getting to the bottom of the barrel now. Scraping it even.

I occasionally look at UK newspapers online and I can't say I have found anything really satisfactory. The Independent is ok, but it is not in the style I am used to. Nothing wrong with the writings, more the presentation.

Then I found The Guardian. A fine newspaper it is. Take this piece from today. Ok, it is not really an example, just something I found interesting, a rebuttal of some outrageous claims made by the right wing in the US over Obama's proposed health reforms.

The Guardian would seem to be the closest thing in the UK that is near to our own The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.

Deck Clearance 28/07 Keeping it nice

There was a small piece in last week's local paper, The Port Phillip Leader, mentioning an assault on a sixty year old female local resident near the Casino at Southbank. The small piece concluded I think along the lines, if you saw anything, please call Crimestoppers.

Perhaps the paper should have added some descriptive detail of the alleged assailant. I found this still from CCTV in another publication. Can you notice anything about the alleged assailant that might narrow down a search or perhaps jog peoples' memories?

Deck Clearance 30/07 Not Bubbling Crude

Why have all these suds percolated up in the bathroom floor drain? Well, R was washing his wig. Before your imagination goes wild, it was a very cheap fun wig he bought to wear to our friend's fiftieth birthday party. He ended up not wearing it.

Deck Clearance 14/07 Date

It does not really worry me, more amuses me, but R will be sitting at the computer, with this tear off date indicator in front of him, the date available in the bottom right of the pc screen and with a look over his left shoulder to the clock, could all tell him the date. Instead he calls out to me, what is the date. I look at the clock or my phone and tell him.

Deck Clearance 11/07 St Kilda Road Trees

The elm and plane trees in St Kilda Road suffered terribly over our hot and dry summer. City of Melbourne control one side of St Kilda Road and City of Port Phillip control the other, our side.

A few years ago R and I attended a meeting at the Malthouse, a joint initiative of both councils. Much talking and as per usual, little outcome. Plans to work co-cooperatively in St Kilda Road just have not happened.

To its credit, City of Melbourne has been busy. The summer before last when spray irrigation was no longer allowed to be used, they used water filled crash barriers with gravity drip hoses lying around the root lines of the trees. By the end of last summer, they had installed drip in ground irrigation lines for their side of St Kilda Road and in the park around the Shrine, possible other places too.

On our side of St Kilda Road, upon a request, City of Port Phillip gave residents buckets to recycle water and said, look after them yourselves. To the credit of some residents in the building, the trees and grass in front of our building have been looked after.

I can't say the same for the rest of the St Kilda Road trees City of Port Phillip is responsible for. I have not heard of any plans at all. Perhaps a little trim to the Arts Budget or what the State and Federal governments are responsible for, housing for the less fortunate and money could go towards maintenance of St Kilda Road and its trees.

Now City of Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle wants to take over care of all St Kilda Road trees and on the face of it, a good idea, given Melbourne City had done a much better job with the trees.

But today, the trees, tomorrow the road and before we know it, we will be paying rates, higher, to City of Melbourne.

Of course I am not sure the money spent on irrigation for the trees when once the desal plant is operating, we will be flooded with water, albeit expensive water.

Deck Clearance 30/07 Smartie

Realene provoked me to ask R how well he remembered Smarties. I pointed out to him that Raelene had indicated that Smarties had become less harmful, with less colour, but looked rather dull.

Healthier Smarties seems absurd to me. Lollies are surely inherently bad for you. Perhaps I could go to McDonalds for a healthy hamburger. No! I may well go to McDonalds, but I know the burger will not be good for me.

R and I concluded the real problem is quantity. Smarties used to come in a small box. I don't know how many Smarties were in the box. Twenty? Thirty? Now, you can buy monster sized boxes. So, who stops eating Smarties before the box is empty?

Deck Clearance 11/06 In the Genes

My great grandfather owned a Buick. He drove it church every Sunday, on his own. He did acknowledge my great grandmother and their twelve children who were also heading to church, that is as he passed them by in a horse pulled jinker. Children and fine upholstery don't go together I guess.

My surname is not my surname, or it shouldn't be. My surname is actually a double name. The first one I do not use. I use the second name. But the second is only there because my great grandmother remarried. Some children kept the original name, some the newer and some both. I would assume my great grandmother had some children by her second husband. Now I have to work hard to see which one I am blood related to.

My Uncle, son of my grandfather and the Bolter, has turned out not to be son of my grandfather but son of someone else. His dark hair and olive skin in contrast to his three brothers who were fair confirms in my mind.

Funnily my Uncle is the father of my brother. We do like to keep our gene pool diverse.

The genealogical research can get nasty.

Limericks or Weekly Humour

I heard a limerick from Wendy Harmer in a podcast today. I think it was

The was a young lad from Yates
Who did the fandango on skates.
He got slashed by his cutlass
And itt rendered him nutless
And now he is no use for dates.

I like limericks. I made up one of my own and smsed it to my Sister.

There was a young girl called Jo
Who seemed to be feeling a bit low.
But in no time at all
She was back on the ball
Rearing and ready to go.

Sister smsed back, how sweet. I did not detect any sarcasm.

Originally I tried
There was a young girl from Murrumbeena

But that was really hard. I did half form one, but it was not great.

Maybe I have a talent with limericks? More likely not.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

We are revolting

Thanks to a tip off, I have learnt that there is a website dedicated to saving Lonsdale House. While Planning Minister Justin Madden has approved the demolition of Lonsdale House, it can still be saved if there are enough protests and action.


Facebook Group:

Petition: Online petition - Don't demolish Lonsdale House


The Honourable Justin Madden, Minister for Planning

Melbourne Lord Mayor The Right Honourable Robert Doyle

My ranty posts:

A sensible opinion by Adam:

Helping Minister for Planning Justin Madden

Here you go Jussy. You don't have to find them to knock them down. I am helping you. I can picture your glee as the wrecking ball smashes into the stucco.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Going Going Sold

I am a bit reluctant to write this post for a couple of reasons, namely, it makes me sound rich. I don't feel like I am. I am constantly broke. Also, it might sound like bragging. I dislike bragging.

But write away I will. We have sold our modest flat in Hotham Street, East St Kilda. It was to be an auction but we were offered five thousand more than the figure we had in mind, so we took it. Some say we were mad and should have let it go to auction, some say we were sensible. We will never know.

It would have been greedy to let it go to auction and it may not have paid off. The question for us was should we be greedy? We got what we wanted and a little more.

It will clear the flat's mortgage and the one for this place too, along with our minor credit card debts. For once we will be debt free and I am looking forward to it, along with an extra $300 plus in my pocket each week.

We are getting too old to be scrimping and worrying so much about money. I know even in their older age, some people don't have that luxury through no fault of their own. The flat served its purpose by paying this place off. In the ten years we had it, it never made a profit, although it has come close.

We are tired of the relatively high maintenance costs for a place of its vintage. We are tired of tenants who will never pay the rent on time. We depended on the rent to make mortgage payments. Two days late, two weeks late. Never on time. The last lot decided they wanted the place repainted as soon as they moved in. It did need repainting and we intended offering to do it about now, but they broke their lease after less than six months. Our rental agent asked them to remove household goods and a vacuum cleaner they had left behind, and to clean the bathroom. When she rang them, they were in Russia. So much for the sick relative in Darwin. We threw most of the stuff out, excepting the vac which we gave to my ABI Brother as someone had squashed his hose. It was that top brand, Tiffany. We got stuck in and cleaned the flat and had it repainted.

It was only open one weekend when the offer was made. I hope the new owners have carefully gone through the owner's corp documents and see how much it costs, and that there is no water meter, so they pay the whole water bill. Something we missed when we bought it, our one bedroom place pays the same owner's corp fee as a three bedroom place. Same levies too. Caveat emptor.

Our selling agent has driven us crazy with his incompetence. I won't say who the agent is but if you have a good memory, the same one who we rented it out through.

The lass at the rental office called last week to inquire about sale progress and thank us for being great to deal with. That was very kind of her. She was also good for us to deal with.

So, another era bites the dust.

Now what shall I spend some money on? Replace my thirty month old phone that creaks as I write an sms? I am listening to quite a lot of podcasts now and it is quite difficult to do it on an Ipod Shuffle. I think I need one that you can select what you are going to listen to. I have some superannuation payments to catch up on to ensure I get maximum benefit when I retire.

But mostly, save for an overseas holiday next year. Our energy levels aren't what they used to be and we really need to travel now, while we are still fit enough to walk a good bit.

The kitchen living area were quite spacious and had slate floors. The bedroom had carpet. Can't remember what was on the bathroom floor.

Floor Plan.

It was right at the back of the block with a very long hallway, although the car parking space was close enough. The block was built to be a motel, but it never happened. The two and three bedroom flats are fantastic.

A new appliance

The old hand held vac has never been great. The batteries now only last a minute before the motor starts to slow. The last straw was when the stupid clip holding the separate halves together broke and I had to sticky tape the unit together.

We had been watching stocktaking sales but there was never a decent unit on sale. R wanted to buy one regardless, but I held out. A week or so ago, I was passing Retravision in Chapel Street and they had a massive sale advertised. I found this little beauty reduced from $99 to $69. It has plenty of weight, indicating it has a heavy motor and or good batteries. It sucks very well. Unlike the old one that had to be pulled apart to empty it, and the cloth bag inside cleaned and sometimes washed, the grey flap on the new one at the top lifts, and you stick the nozzle of your big vacuum cleaner into it and it sucks it clean.

We are very pleased with it and mounting on the wall beside the dryer only led to a little perspiration. It has a pretty blue charge indicator light too. Such things always impress me.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Loser on a Bus

A man who, beyond the age of 26, finds himself on a bus can count himself as a failure.

The above statement is attributed to the evil Maggie Thatcher, but there does seem to be a little doubt about the attribution. Who cares. She was a bad person. What a pity she is only gaga and not suffering horribly from a painful cancer caused by air pollution.

Now that our trains are bursting at the seams with passengers, this seems a bit less of an issue, but an issue it certainly was and to an extant, still is.

Dedicated public transport users are looked down upon in a very general sense. Can you imagine a top AFL player saying, ah, I don't have a car. I use the tram or train to get where I need to go. Given most of them live in the privileged areas well served by public transport, they probably could use it, with some taxi travel thrown in.

When we went into town last night on the tram, sailing past all the cars with their stressed looking drivers banked up back from the city, I was the one who felt privileged. Public transport may not be the answer for everyone, but it is always worth thinking about whether it might be a viable alternative.

So, if you are a dedicated public transport user, a cyclist or a walker, I thank you for not polluting our environment too badly, for reducing car congestion and generally making our city a bit nicer.

I seriously scratch my head about people who want to drive into the city. Weird.

The Eye and the Mouth at the Tramstop

Bonus. Two posts in one.

I heard on the radio the other day a discussion about words that you read and know the meaning of, but don't connect them to the word you hear. Many examples were given and most were quite understandable. I found myself not thinking, you idiot.

Mine is hyperbole. Do I have to spell it out? Bit hard. Ok, I saw hyper bowl. Absolutely nothing like the word. I was in my twenties before the dawning of the age of Aquarius.....sorry slipped there, before I realised my hyper bowl was hyperbole.

And to the tram stop. I was a kid, coming home from the show in EJ Holden. It was a dark and wet night and I could not understand how my father could see where he was going. I knew it would be about half an hour before we saw the Dandy ham and bacon pig lifting his top hat.

Staring out into the dark, I kept seeing signs warpped around metal poles that said, 'Cars Stop Here'. What cars? Father was ignoring the signs and not stopping, so they must be for something else. Taxis, I reckoned. There must be some system in Melbourne for catching taxis. They only stop for you where there is the sign 'Cars Stop Here'. I was satisfied with my explanation and thought no more about it.

They were of course, tram stops. Stops for tram cars. Why didn't I ask at the time. Dad would have known. He used to catch trams as a kid. He and his closest aged brother used to use a peashooter at the conductor.

Got any similar childhood misunderstanding? Got a word that you never connected the written with the spoken until well after you should have known better?


Let me see. ACCC, Australia Competition and Consumer Commission, what not a corporation? Everything must be a corporatised now.

It is there to enforce the Trade Practices Act. You know, fair trading, ensuring competition etc etc. Essentially protecting the smaller fry in Australia from the predatory large business practice.

While I may agree they did quite well with cardboard boxes, thereby adding a couple of cents to my pocket each week, I am not sure they are doing so well in the big picture.

It is disingenuous to call Safeway/Woolworths different to Caltex. Who are they trying to fool? So life is now down to basically two supermarkets, Woolworths with Caltex and Coles with Shell calling the shots on petrol pricing, possibly a good bit more than just price. Hmmm, how did that happen then? What did the ACCC do to prevent what is pretty well a duopoly. How did they act to protect independent petrol retailers? Given how many have disappeared, not very well. Where is the giant Mobil petrol company retailing? How much longer can BP hold out with such poor sales?

Of course the above is all complicated further by the petrol wholesalers and refiners behind the mucky retailers.

Speaking of supermarkets, what happened to the small independents? Pretty well eaten up by the big ones I would say. Who would have known the repercussions of the big rocket that appeared on the outside of the new modern supermarket in Australia, Coles New World. A new world it is.

I am sure Aldi is ok, but it is not a normal supermarket as we know them. Has Costco opened yet? Again, it is not a normal supermarket.

Trade practices must extend surely to mobile phone companies. Clear and easy to understand plans should be required. Hands up who agree phone plans set out to be confusing?

Hardware stores? Bunnings, owned by the same owners of Coles isn't it, will soon be omnipresent.

Banks? Reduced to four large ones and a couple of newer start ups and a large foreign one. Let me see. Our first mortgage was with Hotham Permanent Building Society, eaten up by REIV, eaten up by a small bank, eaten up by a bigger bank and then a bigger one again. Westpac promised when they took over Bank of Melbourne, they would retain all branches and continue with Saturday morning trading. Did anyone think to get that in writing?

Dan Murphy, the grog shop that dropped prices to killer low levels, now owned by Woolworths. Fortunately they have not managed to kill off smaller groups......yet.

ACCC, a fail, miserably.