Saturday, October 31, 2009


Media star Tony will be on ABC Melbourne radio at around 10.30 tomorrow morning, Sunday, talking about Our Fading Past, Melbourne's history in old signs, to which I have contributed significantly.

We can only hope Alan Brough does not pull another sickie and Tony has to face Catherine Deveny. Snigger.

Going Up

If you are listener to one of the young peoples' commercial radio stations where our non bearded famous radio personality building resident with the super model girlfriend works, you may know something of 'issues' with our lift carpets. This refers back to incidents perhaps almost a year ago.

A decision was finally made to tile the lifts for ease of cleaning rather than continuing to lay new carpet when the old was spoiled. This is not as simple as it sounds as the lift had to be re-balanced to take into account the extra weight of floor tiles.

Here is the old, carpeted.

Here is what I kindly refer to as the prototype. Others would describe it in harsher terms, harsher even than a total stuff up.

And the end result. The floor is cleaned twice daily, once on each weekend day. It perhaps shows marks more easily, but at least it is easily cleaned. Just as an aside, see the chrome plugs on the back wall, middle photo? There was a handrail there, but it was discovered it prevented an ambulance trolley fitting into the lift, and so the rail was removed.

Friday, October 30, 2009


With boring repetitive regularity VCAT are in the headlines and with boring repetitive regularity I keep ranting about them along with perhaps my second most disliked State Labor Government Minister ever, Planning Minister Justin Madden.

What have the been up to now? While media has whipped itself to a high level of hysteria, and much of the public with it, over late night venues in the city, young people drinking excessively and violence on the street, Minister Madden and VCAT are too stupid to even protect themselves.

Madden pleads ignorance as VCAT approves two new venues within a kilometre or so of the city to serve something over 2000 patrons. The respective councils said no, residents said no, the Liquor Commission said no, VicPol said no but VCAT said yes.

You can quote at me the technical points as to why they were approved, but I care not.

Could VCAT have discredited itself any harder if it tried? Does VCAT think there would be an uprising by the population if it was disbanded and replaced with a tribunal that was for the people and the greater good, rather than for big business and developers?

I can't but I reckon someone would have the knowledge to take you on a tour of suburbs within ten kilometres of the city in all directions and point out VCAT planning disasters left, right and centre.

VCAT, it it is time to get your front foot forward and start explaining yourself, not that VCAT spin will make an iota of difference.

Sad that the good work it does do is tarnished by its involvement in planning decisions. But hey, the government needs a fall guy. Cop it on the chin VCAT and I hope you all sleep the sleep of the innocent. I would feel worse if the tribunal members were actually troubled over their decisions.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Ftizroy Street Cycling

This is the new cycle path along Fitzroy Street, St Kilda. Flash I would call it, but how practical is it? All looks well in this photo to me. Perhaps you think otherwise, especially if you are an experienced cyclist. Do tell. There is a small Give Way sign facing the cyclists travelling south and of course they need to give way to any traffic. Cars turning left into Fitzroy Street have no need to look left to check for traffic, only to their right.

But here is where it all goes wrong. Cyclists travelling north must give way to all traffic. That is traffic coming out of the side street and traffic turning into the side street. Why can't the motorist check for approaching cyclists as well as cars to the driver's right. Same for traffic turning into the side street. Please explain!

Btw, this dual direction cycle path is deadly for pedestrians. I did it myself. You don't think to check left before stepping out.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


We all understand this carbon trading scheme, don't we. We know about the salable certificates. It is so simple. If I don't use my allowance of carbon, then I can sell what is left over to you so that you can use more. We are both happy.

If you can't afford to pay me but you need more carbon allowance, tough titties. That is the market at work.

But if you are a large multinational company who supplies our energy, don't worry, the government, meaning us, will pay your bills.

Actually, I don't understand carbon trading at all. I don't understand emissions trading. I don't understand carbon sequestration. I don't understand how if a farmer does not plough his field and keeps the carbon in, he gets an extra allowance and can sell it.

I am of perhaps medium level intelligence and I have read and seen a lot about the whole biz. Still, I don't understand it. I can only suspect this might be the intention.

Is it too simple to use the technology that is readily available to reduce carbon emissions?

The only thing that made sense to me recently was a thousand or so square kilometres of solar panels in our deserts that could produce enough power for all of Australia.


The head of Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, VCAT is studying ways to make the tribunal more efficient and a better experience for those who use it.

Here are a few of my thoughts.

Respect the wishes of local people via their council. While aspects of 2030 override local council planning rules, the local council should still be listened to and respected. More importantly where 2030 does not override council planning rules, then that is is the end of the matter and VCAT will throw any developer submission straight out. If it breaches the rules, there is no point in a developer going to VCAT.

Height limits are height limits. End of matter. Height limits that can be breached are wrong, including suggested height limits. Are you reading this too Planning Minister Justin Madden? Do not ruin the eastern end of Bourke and Collins Street with the very inappropriate monstrously tall development behind the Windsor Hotel.

Ensure the scale of a building fits into its surrounds. This proposed one, Maxx Apartments, for the corner of Alma St Kilda Roads appears not to do so. While I am not suggested homogeneity, streetscapes need to be taken into account when looking at proposed buildings or alterations.

Do not allow a a team of barristers hired by a developer to go up against amateur local residents.

Lastly, keep this in mind when making decisions.

Developers are usually before you to maximise their profits.

Local residents are before you to save what they perceive as their local amenity, that is the are where they now live and possibly will for many years. They may suffer the negative consequences of your decisions for as long as they live.

Activists such as those fighting to Save Lonsdale House or Save the Windsor are fighting for the greater good, usually without a personal interest.

Developer profits against altruism, I reckon.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Pasta Genes

Luckily The Bolter, my paternal grandmother, had a very distinctive name of Italian origins. I had been told this, but neither I nor Mother knew how to spell the name. Once I learnt the correct spelling, the name made it very easy to find out information about that branch of the family tree. I am indebted to, you know who you are, for help with my family tree.

But another person helped too, a non blood relative with the same married name as my grandmother's maiden name.

I knew there was a Tasmanian connection and with some searching, discovered that the family was centered in the Waratah area, although spread westwards and north too.

The Italian brothers arrived around the eighteen fifties to pursue various occupations, but mostly farming. They seem to be of peasant stock, some of them illiterate, so it puzzles me as to how they could afford the migration and to buy land. Apart from the family name, they quickly anglicised their given names. In fact they seemed to anglicise themselves with extraordinary haste.

Ok, no real surprises there. Kind of how I thought it was. But wait!

Although they were Italian, they did not come from Italy, but Switzerland. They were from Ticino, the southern most canton of Switzerland.

Maybe it is changing now but the Italians of Ticino in Switzerland lead an Italian lifestyle and speak an Italian dialect. Yet, ask them their nationality, they will say they are Swiss and almost deny the Italian heritage. From my brief reading, they are only part of Switzerland because the land was 'captured'. Regardless, they have been there a very long time.

So, I am Swiss, which explains my liking of order and things that work and why I used to pull clocks apart when I was a kid. I must have missed the Italian gene that would have passed on a passionate, voluble, hot temperament.

This is the Tichino village where my ancestors came from, Corippo. There are few remaining permanent residents, but mainly holiday visitors. While the interiors of the houses have been very much modernised, the exteriors must remain unaltered. I can also see why I don't like flat land.
Photo by Frank Kaiser for TrekEarth.

Monday, October 26, 2009


The police are warning us about pickpockets during the rest of the Racing Carnival. They could well be around in the lead up to christmas and working on public transport too. The police say they are often very professional gangs of Romanians, Bulgarians or South Americans. How do these people get into Australia?

While there are many South American born in Australia, who may have relatives from the old country who want to visit, I am not aware of a significant Romanian or Bulgarian community here.

Should not visitors from Romania and Bulgaria immediately raise immigration authorities alarm when said people are entering Australia? Like how many of them could there be?

Diwali, Art and the Baby

Supposed to be a diary. Better update a bit.

Last Saturday night was the annual Diwali celebration in South Oakleigh. It was a quiet affair this year with around ten dinner guests and only about two hundred tea lights lit. It is the Indian Festival of Lights you know. I was subdued as after four weeks off work, I had to work the next day.

We have a very large blank wall in the apartment since it is has been repainted and pictures rearranged. This Saturday we took ourselves out in the afternoon to look for an original. R has wanted to buy one for some time. He is also thinking about a new bed or bedroom suite.

We headed to Forty Winks in Elsternwick via a shop or two in Glenhuntly Road that has distracted us. Nothing excited us at the bed shop.

On to an art sales shop in North Road, Murrumbeena. Some stuff we liked and the prices weren't too bad. We had to stop ourselves from choosing a picture we liked and remember that it has to work when hanging on our wall. We possibly will revisit the shop.

R suggested coffee at the close by Oasis. He has been then with work related stuff. I was amazed. It was very good and it is also a Middle Eastern grocery shop. Why wasn't I told. We scoffed our Turkish Delights and drank our coffee while listening to the constant traffic in North Road. Note to self, take greater care with icing sugar covered Turkish Delight when wearing black.

Speaking of traffic, god how hideous the traffic was on a Saturday afternoon. Doesn't anyone have anything better to do than drive around on a Saturday afternoon? Four million people and rapidly rising and they were all out in their motor cars.

Down to the corner of Bay and New Streets in Brighton where we knew of another artwork shop. The prices were higher and the work very nice. We bought nothing but are more educated now.

At six Sister turned up with Little Jo for us to look after while Sister and the Bone Doctor went out for dinner. A friend called in for a chat. It was a pleasant evening. We took Little Jo for a swim, although she won't go in the pool anymore since she has discovered the 'bubble pool'. We gave her a bath to rid her of chlorine and played until her mother came returned.

I managed to unload a few books to Sister that I was going to throw out. 'Hey', she said. 'I gave you that one.' Oops, and it was signed by the author Robert Dessaix.

Back to work Sunday morning.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sydney Oddity

In Foley Park, Glebe, in Sydney, you can find this odd structure. It is a wireless house! I had never heard of such a thing. I saw it mentioned on James O'Brien's blog. Rather than stealing his photo, I have stolen one from the organisation responsible for the wireless house renewal, in the interests of giving them some promotion of course.

Some time not too long after wireless broadcasts started in Australia, Grace Brothers, a department store, donated a wireless for the public to listen to and it was housed in this building at the aforementioned location.

A wireless would have cost a lot of money back in the early twentieth century, so the working class could not have afforded one. Here in Foley Park, they could sit around this building and listen to wireless broadcasts, and sit around they did, to the point where churches complained of declining Sunday church attendances and the wireless house was shut down.

Why are churches always against what people enjoy doing?

Maybe Melbourne had a wireless house, but I don't know about it. I bet Sydney copied the idea from the US.