Saturday, December 19, 2009


I am curious about this. I never use the right hand of the keyboard number keys when I need to type numbers. I always use the numbers at the top of the keyboard. The only time I use the right hand side is if I need special characters, such as a £ symbol. So far as I am concerned, it could be chopped off the keyboard, along with the rest of the keys off the qwerty area, except the delete key and arrows. Whereas, R uses the right hand side all the time for numbers. How about you? Which do you use? Oh, and I just thought I would try one of the poll thingies, but you can answer in comments.


Jayne beat me on this one, but I did take the photo a week or so ago in preparation for the post.

In our great mother islands to our east, a plague of painting murals on traffic light control boxes has broken out. Take a look here at what I mean. The plague is not isolated to temperate climates. It seems to be flourishing in tropical climes to our north.

Like it or not, a small pocket of infection is breaking out in Melbourne too, specifically Bourke Street. Bring it on I say.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Old Bags

No, no. Not you darls. Some odd bags have appeared in the accumulation of plastic bags in the Highrise.

The first has addresses of supermarkets in California all over it. They appear to mainly sell food for Latin people. Absolutely no idea where this came from.

No, I don't have any special news to impart, although as one ages, one's visual appearance could indicate early stages of pregnancy. I have a pretty good idea that my sister may be responsible for this bag appearing in our pile. Often when I go out, I use a stout plastic bag to carry water, newspapers, camera etc. I don't think I will be using this one.

Hail that bus

I don't know the rights or wrongs of the twenty four hour strike by Sydney state employed bus drivers. What I do know is that they are on strike and that I knew they were going to be on strike since early in the week.

I have no particular interest in Sydney buses. But little me, down here in Melbourne, knew about the strike, yet so many commuters were to be found waiting at bus stops on the streets of Sydney for buses that were never going to come.

To me, not watching tv news, not listening to radio news, not reading newspapers, not reading online media is just weird.

Just proves how different we all are.


I am literate and I will land one on your schnoz if you say otherwise. In my internet world, I am surrounded by very literate people. I confess, it has made me try harder with my writing, especially with sentence construction which I frequently judge as poor. But I have improved.

My brothers and sister are literate, my parents were literate, my grandparents were literate. I had never met some who could not write a proper sentence. I can't remember anyone at school who wasn't literate. It is clear to me that even at the age of two and a half, Little Jo will be literate.

So I find it very disturbing that another of my nieces and my nephew are not what I would call particularly literate. They are my very literate Tradie Brother's children. The oldest, my nephew is not really bad and can express himself with the written, but his spelling and grammar are atrocious. A sentence starting with a capital letter and ending with a full stop? Nope. Not his style. His younger sister is the pick of the three. She seems to have it together. She is now in the tertiary education system and so needs to be able to write properly. Bit of chicken and egg there perhaps. The youngest, the teenage niece, I would judge as semi illiterate and I don't know why? She seems unable to even vaguely write properly. I don't see any signs of her being dyslexic.

Even when talking, the words and thoughts just spill out. Consequently I often have no idea what she is talking about. But the quantity of words are certainly there. She talks and talks.

I don't think her mother's side of the family are high in the literacy stakes. Could this be the reason? Genes? Upbringing? Poor schools? Combination of all? Is it as simple as being read to when you are very young?

Thoughts on why illiteracy happens welcome. I could search on the net, but I would like something a bit more personal.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Whoa gee gee

I don't know what to make of the story of a young man on a freeway who's car's cruise control would not disengage.

Normally, you just switch it off or touch the brake. I can believe that it could malfunction as stated. Would not just reducing the car speed by the coast down button not work? He also stated he could not move the gear lever to neutral. Could be interlocked I suppose. I hate this sort of thing. I can't move my gearstick into gear without my foot on the brake. I am just sure one day it will all go wrong and cause me to be stranded.

He could not shift down gears to slow the car either? He could not turn the ignition off? All goes against my car experience.

Then there are brakes. Unless the model he was driving was fitted with four wheel unassisted drum brakes, I cannot see how the brakes would not stop the car. In fact they eventually did, seemingly when he was instructed to use them by police.

It would be an awful situation to be in. I can understand how you cannot think of all the right things to do in a split second, but he had forty odd minutes to unpanic himself. All very odd indeed.

I recall an old lady who drove a beautiful old black Riley who was a customer of the service station where I worked. The car had twin petrol tanks. She would ask for $2 of petrol in one tank and $5 in the other. It was a long time ago. Her accelerator jammed once and with clever use of her clutch and gears, she got the car to the service station in highway and local traffic. The car was having a good old rev and had mechanics running out to attend.

But the young man with the stuck cruise control could do nothing. Hmmm.

Clean your gutters, now!

I am predicting it will be an 'interesting' afternoon at work. I don't like 'interesting' at work. But the rain is good.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

RBG Volcano

Below are photos of an almost completed renovation of a water an old water storage in Melbourne's Royal Botanic Gardens known as Volcano, named as such because of its shape. Volcano was built in 1878 and was filled with water pumped either directly from the Yarra River and later Yan Yean Reservoir. The design was by renown architect William Guilfoyle and is twenty nine metres in diameter and has a capacity of 1.3 million litres of water.

Volcano fell into disuse in the 1950s and became overgrown and well hidden to anyone who did not know it was there. It is in the highest point of the gardens, and right on the fence line next to the The Tan. Clearly it won't fill by water run off.

A pretty marvellous way to spend $1.7 million I reckon. I am excited. Much of the money was donated by the Myer Foundation. The bottom picture is from The Age and shows the interior after it was cleaned out. Here is a link to a pdf file with more information.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Jessica Watson sails away

Gee, I should have checked this out earlier. The lass deserves publicity.

Jessica Watson is sailing solo around the world in her yacht Ella's Pink Lady. Unless she has had a recent birthday, Jessica is sixteen years old. She had abort her first attempt as she banged into a ship, or it banged into her. She had not yet made it to the official launching site in Sydney.

I think it was October the twelfth when she set sail from Sydney Harbour and she now appears to be in the Pacific Ocean south of French Polynesia.

Her blog is at the address below and she updates her blog from her yacht. I have added it to my blog reading facility.

and this is her website

She is getting hundreds of blog comments, sometimes over 1,000 per post.

I sincerely wish her well. She uploaded this photo to her blog yesterday.


This is perhaps the most boring post I have ever written. What is that? No, it isn't? I have done worse? Ok.

The quite new shredder failed almost from day one. Although it only cost about $30, I should have taken it back. I buggered it when a knife jammed it, and so could not return it.

So we bought a new one. R was determined to buy a decent one and so we paid almost $100. While I did not particularly want a cross cut model that cuts horizontally as well as vertically, it was all that was available. So far, I am very impressed. It has a large bucket that does not need emptying so often and because the paper is cut finer, more fits into a given space.


Check yourself at Coles

We have mastered self checkouts at Safeway. (At what point will I have to start saying Woolworths?) The only problem I ever had really was knowing when a bag could be removed from where you place goods after scanning them. I use self check it if it suits me and usually which I judge to be quicker, normal or self check out.

Self check out has started to appear in Coles supermarkets. It amused me to notice that no one was using the system in the Prahran store when I was recently there.

Today I had to grab a couple of things in Malvern Coles. What a laugh. I almost did out loud. I think there were six self checkouts. Four of them being used by quite old people with two staff flitting between the four, almost operating the self check out for them.

The transactions were taking twice as long as it would at a staffed check out and from what I saw rather spoils the the intent of self check out, that is to save on labour costs.

Like at auto tellers, if there are old people in front of you, head for a staffed check out. I suppose I should say good on them for giving technology a go, but I won't.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tram Museums

Not sure if I have mentioned it before, but does not Victoria's plethora of tram museums seem absurd? Malvern, Hawthorn, Bylands, Bendigo and Ballarat and there is something at the railway workshops in Newport I believe.

NSW has only one I believe and it is excellent. Oh that the talents within all Victoria's tram museums be combined. I think Bendigo and Ballarat should remain, but some kind of amalgamation should happen between some of the others.

There is another too, one I knew little about. A friend was passing by and she took some snaps. This one is at Haddon, just a short distance from Ballarat. The web tells me it is a preservation society but clearly it is similar to a museum. My friend says it was set up by a father to help with his son's learning difficulties. What a grand idea.

Here are a few photos my friend took from outside the property.

My Sainted Aunt

It appears that Australia will get a saint by the name of Mary MacKillop. She seems to have been a very good person and is deserving of honour.

But really, does the catholic church expect us to believe she performed miracles? Sainthood can only be granted if two miracles can be proved and evidently Mary MacKillop qualifies.

If christian religions want to have any respect from non believers, then they really ought to stop espousing such blatant tosh and nonsense.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Riding the Number 8

I recall a couple of years ago when I was on a number eight tram travelling along Toorak Road. One of our neighbours was on the tram. She had not noticed me on the tram and I was not inclined to engage with her. I was thinking that I knew rather a lot about her. Of course I know where she lives, I know about her family, in fact I know many things about her, including that she is not poorl. Yet in this tram of anonymous people, she is just one more. No one on the tram would take any notice of her yet I knew so much about her. She is a real person with a life.

On the number eight tram today, I was watching a black woman of African heritage. I would guess they were her sons with her, about 9 and 12. She was quite dark, nicely made up, dressed in almost a dress suit of a light soft fabric, wearing heels. She was not over the top good looking but not unattractive. The sons were dressed nicely enough and in a modern style. She looked for all the world like she had been to St John's church in Toorak, except that was not where she got on the tram. She boarded the tram in Toorak Village and got off at Chapel Street. Her sons skylarked a bit with each other after leaving the tram and she must have told them to settle down.

The thought came to my head was that she was African diplomat's wife. But why would she travel on tram when she would have a chauffeured vehicle? It was fairly clear she was a person used to having a decent amount of money for spending. Her clothes and carriage told me that much.

I don't expect this is of much interest to anyone, but I wonder what that woman's story was?

Monday Humour, The Pole Dancer

Ok, it is Sunday. I started a Monday Humour regular post a couple of months ago. As I said at the time, it will probably be a one off, as it will slip from my vacuous head.

This one is apparently a true story.

For homework, a class in NSW were asked to draw their parents at work.
This is Jessica’s drawing:

Here's the letter the teacher received the next day:

Dear Mrs. Jackson,

I wish to clarify that I am not now, nor have I ever been, an exotic dancer.
I work at Bunnings (an Australian hardware chain store for you foreign types) and I told my daughter how hectic it was last week after the floods hit.
I told her we sold out every single shovel we had and then I found one more in stock and several people were fighting over who would get it.
Her picture doesn't show me dancing around a pole. It's supposed to depict me selling the last shovel we had in the store.
From now on I will remember to check her homework before she hands it in.

Erica Cameron

Brolly or fan?

Did I just hear that it will 39 degrees next Wednesday? My day off! Grrr. It is been deliciously cool the past couple of weeks. We had some good rain too. It was raining heavily when I snapped this photo, but the weather was about to clear as you can see the sunshine coming.

Of course if you mix sun and rain, what do you get? A rainbow naturally. I can see where the rainbow ends. I know that flat block. I know there is a pot of gold there. Alas by the time I made myself presentable for the world, the rainbow had gone.

St Kilda Triangle

Isn't this a victory for the common people over developers who propose inappropriate large developments in areas unsuited to such things.

It all started so long ago, I now forget where urls and links might be to coverage of the matter. I know I wrote a bit about the St Kilda triangle site development in the past. It is costing us City of Port Phillip ratepayers $5 million to get out of it. Money well spent really.

St Kilda is a prime destination for tourists. I doubt any visitors to Melbourne from overseas don't end up at St Kilda at some point. Everyone ends up at St Kilda. There are so many people ending up at St Kilda that it is traffic jammed at weekends, and also tram jammed too. Fortunately trams are separated from cars in the major tourist area of St Kilda, so the can move vast numbers of people quickly and efficiently to St Kilda, from one end to the other. If you combine the tram services to St Kilda, it is probably around a three or four minute service at weekends. It is needed. The number of people trams carry to St Kilda is almost unimaginable.

Back to the triangle development. The proposed development was to be a restoration of the Palais Theatre, some good open space, and many shops, most of which would be chain stores, and some large nightlclub venues. Like St Kilda needs any more of those. Actually, most of St Kilda nightclub type places are smallish.

I only visit St Kilda on weekdays when it is not so frantic. Even so, best to go there early in the day.

Ah, personal is interfering with this post.

I am not sure why, but the shabby Palais Theatre seems to be doing great business. I see it lit up from here at night, indicating it is well used.

Here is my proposal. 1/4 state government money. The Palais sits on Crown land. 1/4 City of Port Phillip ratepayers money. 1/4 Palais operator money. 1/4 private investor.

The Palais gets a makeover. The large areas of bitumen are turned into a people place with grass and trees. There is a small development of retail, one for local people. Look around our city, you can never go wrong with grass and trees.

Significant loss of car parking with the bitumen area turned into a park, but hey, I think that would not be a bad thing.

I don't feel at all sad for previous councillors who were tossed out at the last election over their approval of the proposed development. Dick Gross, a previous mayor and long term councillor is playing the dying swan. Dick Gross now has a good job as head of municipalities. I was not impressed when he said that the St Kilda triangle development met council criteria and so he was obliged to go along with it. Not so Dick. You were out there in the media singing praises and promoting and making very positive noises. Dick was elected to represent the people and he made a bad call.

That the St Kilda triangle plan was dropped was due entirely to the educated elite Not In My Back Yard residents of St Kilda.

NIMBYs aren't always right, but in this case they were.