Friday, December 31, 2010

The King's Speech

It was a very nice movie. It wasn't brain taxing, just enjoyable. We saw it at Como Cinema, a cinema that is usually on the quiet side. I ummed and ahhed about whether to book or not. I looked a the online booking system. I had a bad experience with one of the large movie chains when making an online booking once.

I don't think it has ever happened to us that we could not see a movie because it was sold out. I imagine it would be very disappointing so I rang the telephone number. Yes, the lass said, it will be busy, book your tickets now and arrived early to collect them. I am pleased we did as the movie sold out just after we bought ourselves a drink.

We are usually so behind in seeing a movie at the theatre, everyone has seen it and so we are not used to a full theatre. It felt a bit odd in a packed movie theatre. Thankfully it has good air conditioning. Maybe I missed something, but I had to get down on my hands and knees to read the seat row letter and could barely make out the seat numbers. Even old theatres had illuminated seat row indicators. Our second last movie was seen at Gold Class and this time I rather missed somewhere to rest your drink. Getting to your seat was made more difficult by non lift up seats.

I knew nothing of the movie before we went, so I was surprised to Australians Geoffrey Rush and Guy Pearce in the cast. They were excellent as were all the actors. Nor did I have any knowledge of the movie subject.

But we left the movie with some puzzlement. R is not a royalist and probably has the attitude of his English sisters who if asked would say 'those parasites have nothing to do with our lives. They are irrelevant'. I don't much more about royalty than what has happened in my lifetime, but I knew enough to work out who the people in the movie were.

R could not work out that George VI's wife was the gin swilling fag hag who only died a couple of years ago at around the age of 100. Her recipe for a long life was perhaps Gordons and Benson & Hedges.

I worked that much out at least, but I was puzzled over George's wife. Even once back home it took some seriously googlying before I came up with the name May. May? Never heard of a Queen May. Of course she went on to become Queen Mary, the king's consort. Ah, Queen Mary. My searching efforts were hampered by a big ship of the same name.

I just clicked my movie tag button and in 2009 I saw one movie at the flicks. This year I have seen three. Doing well.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Just Another Thursday

Be it us sitting at a table at a smart cafe in South Yarra, or dining at the Apostle in Queenscliff, we are the little fish in a very big pond. If you like, the cheapest house in the street. The poor among the rich. Most people we mix with have more money than we do. Mother saliently remarked when we dined at Apostle, there are some people with money here.

We keep punishing ourselves by going where rich people go, well sometimes. We mix with the poor too at times, unwillingly.

We outdid ourselves today with a visit to Sorrento. The good burghers of Sorrento are so rich, they can afford to have annual flowering plants and roses in their park, not something seen in the City of Port Phillip, or much in the City of Melbourne.

It was christmas guilt over not making a huge effort to attend Sis in Law's Boxing Day lunch. I called her and asked if she would like to do lunch between christmas and new year. Sure she said. Let me know so that I can arrange time off work. I did and suggested Thursday. We imagined a lunch somewhere in Frankston looking over the water with just Sis in Law, perhaps where she meets her gay friends for breakfast. I am not sure that I care to mix with homosexuals. Perhaps I shouldn't say snowball given the northern hemisphere is experiencing snow, clearly for Britain and the New York, for the first time. Otherwise how could they not be coping?

But snowball our lunch with Sis in Law did.

Sister invited herself and said go to Sorrento for lunch and we will come across on the ferry. Ok. Sister suggested a booking at the Sorrento Hotel.

I informed Sis in Law. Oh, she said. I am bringing my new beau and his three kidlets. I straight away picked up that Sorrento Hotel would be a big cost to them. Right, we decided on fish and chips on the beach.

Nay, said Sister, the park opposite the Sorrento Hotel where Little Jo can play. We will catch the 11.00 o'clock ferry across.

You are going quite early noted Oldest Niece. I have to work later but I will come and bring my betrothed.

Right, this is turning into a serious family gathering. Better see what ABI Brother and Nanna Fudd, sorry Mother, are doing.

In spite of Mother saying she couldn't possibly be ready to go out by 10.00, she was and arrived with her salad roll. I can't eat fish and chips is something we knew was on the long list of things Mother can't eat.

Mother and ABI Brother were terribly late due to traffic and ABI Brother doesn't have a mobile telephone. R and I alternated with trips to the parking area to greet them and guide them to where we were in the park. Sounds easy. It wasn't.

Sister and Bone Doctor went off to get the fish and chips, $120 worth. Sis in Law's Beau's children just adore Little Jo and entertained her. It was a cracker of day. After lunch we went down to the beach below for paddling, swimming or sunburning. Sister caught the 4.00 o'clock ferry home and we all departed. It was a two hour drive home. I will save the rant about car drivers for another day.

An art gallery, R cried out. We had to stop. Interesting stuff at GaGa. The artist's son was looking after the shop. He was a nice lad, albeit perhaps preoccupied with his online laptop girlfriend in Vladivostok.

In spite of sunscreen and a hat, I am a bit singed. R is much worse. He has skin that doesn't need sunscreen, but he is quite red.

Surely that must be the last family contact for a long time. Nah, Tradie Brother is home alone, his divorce from Sis in Law in effect on christmas day. He is depressed. Might try to give him an interesting day out on Monday.

Photos of the day will follow.

A Massacre

I recently read a piece in Fairfax Press about what was, up until Port Arthur, the worst massacre in Australia. I am sure that is what the article said. I asked around the family table if anyone knew which was the worst massacre before Port Arthur and no one knew. Sister piped in with the Myall Creek massacre, which stopped me briefly. I didn't know how many were killed at Myall Creek, but this was not the answer I read.

At Myall Creek, 'brave' convict settlers and a freeman killed 28 Aborigines, mostly women and children, in 1838. To the administration's credit, justice was pursued but after a trial, all were found not guilty, in spite of the Justice directing that there was no difference between killing an Aborigine and killing a white person. Before they were released another charge was laid against them and at this trial, seven were found guilty and were hanged.

Australia's worst massacre in the twentieth century was at Port Arthur in Tasmania where 35 were killed by Martin Bryant.

But the one suggested as the worst before Port Arthur in the article I read was the Whisky Au Go Go fire bombing in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley where 15 were killed. I have a vague memory of it. There were a couple of drums of fuel oil ignited in the foyer of the nightclub and the fireball shot upstairs. The fire escape door handle and the fire escape stairs had been greased. Of the 100 in the club, many escaped by jumping from windows. Among those killed were a couple of band members and their extra vocalist.

Photo of the burnt out Whisky Au Go Go from Brisbane Times online.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wallowing with joy at the misery of others

Only a mother could love this creature, Bernie Ecclestone, the person behind Melbourne's Grand Prix. He cost us $43 million with his event here last year. Who knows what it will be next year.

Oh look, he was attacked and robbed. What a shame. Bet he wished he hadn't said this a month or so earlier.

"You have to remember we have a lot of problems in England, Oxford Street and places, and in New York people get mugged," he said.

"They look for victims, they look for people who are a little bit slow and simple, but the people who look a bit bright, they never go after them."

We can only hope Baills puts a stop this Grand Prick nonsense.

And so that is christmas

Lordy that christmas is over. We agreed to look after Little Jo today, Tuesday, while Sister and Bone Doctor went to view cricket(insert any sort of sport). They came the day before and we did the Mother transfer thing, where ABI Brother came from where he had been staying to pick up Mother and return her to home. How can we entertain Little Jo? We took her to see the Fairy Tree in Fitzroy Gardens. She had seen it and was not so impressed. If Little Jo could not get into the Tudor Village and walk among the miniature houses, she was still not impressed.

But fate would have it that we found the dragon slide, so she entertained herself for a bit, interrupted by schnacks, as she used to say. She was a bit tired so we took her home. At 6 I drove Sister's car to the local La Porchetta where we met them fresh from the cricket. It was a nice meal and they went off for drinks with friends at the Temperance Hotel in Chapel Street. They were back by nine and we had a reasonably early night.

Tuesday we fried up eggs and very nice left over ham for breakfast and while I cleaned up, they all went down for a swim and spa. Sister and Bone Doctor went off to the cricket and again in Sister's car we took Little Jo to the sand park in Albert Park. She played for a while there and back to the car and moved down to Sandbar for coffee. We stayed over an hour as Little Jo had made friends with other kids and was having a good time. We lounged in deck chairs and make our coffee last.

Sister returned mid afternoon and R made left over pork sandwiches and they departed. We restored the apartment to its normally neat state but no sooner had we rested a bit, Sis in Law, her new beau and his three kids called in for coffee on their way home from Scienceworks. They did not stay too long. I amused them with my retro robot game q and a.

By 6pm there was peace in our time. I poured myself a large drink.

Hydrangeas as we entered Fitzroy Gardens.

Miniature Tudor Village.

The Fairy Tree.

Dragon Slide. Of course I had to try it too.

Next day the Albert Park sand park.

So relaxing. I should have zoomed in closer on the bare top volley ball player.

Nothing odd about a dog on a paddle board is there?

Never a right time

I have wanted a new Melways Street Directory for a good while, but the time was never right. I thought I would wait until City Link was complete so that I would have that clearly showing on the edition of Melways. Then I decided to wait for Eastlink to be completed and the alterations on the merge of the Calder and Tullarmarine Freeways. But wait, there are the West Gate Freeway alterations. Eventually you have to bite the bullet, for motorways and toll roads just keep on getting built, so my new street directory does not have Peninsula Link marked as a completed road, but it shown as dotted lines with exits and entrances.

I use Google Maps and Melways online all the time. On my phone I often use Google Maps. However, I still like the hard copy to give a sense of proportion and overview, and the myriad of extra detail. Btw, Melways online has had a makeover and the stupid seven buttons at the top to enlarge or reduce have gone and it now operates with a sliding + or - or with your mouse thumb wheel. So much better and not before time. I am very much enjoying flicking through my new Melways and learning stuffs I never knew.

ABI Brother was taking a look and pointed out on a map to me an oddity. East of Pakenham where the Pakenham Bypass was constructed, a couple of minor roads were terminated where they met the Bypass. One, Ryans Road, had a train level crossing which became redundant when Ryans Road was cut into two. However, the bells and flashing lights still operate as the train passes through, even though there is now nothing to protect and has not been for two years. I'm quoting my brother on this, so I hope he is right.

Later Edit: Timespanner found an online news story about the crossing. You can see it here.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Its my ticket MYKI

Bails, the new Premier of Victoria who is of the dynastic Balliue, Bailleu, Baillue/Myer, whatever, family has decreed a review of out new ticket system known as MYKI. I have no problems with it, except sometimes a slow response at a machine. R is a newcomer to the system. He ought not receive a MYKI charge on a Sunday but he did. He called the call centre and they informed him that that charge was for the previous day's travel because he did not touch off on that day. We scratched our heads. Did R forget to log off on the bus? No, we didn't catch a bus the day before. Operator said it was a tram non log off. But you don't have to touch off on a tram he wailed at the operator. It would seem if you want your accounts in order, the charge matching the day, you do. R wasn't overcharged, but if you know you have free travel on a certain day and see a MYKI deduction when you touch on, then it is clearly a problem.

There are other issues with MYKI, but as I said, it works well for me. Oh the cost of the system though. Way too much. Regardless, Bails would be crazy not to continue with its roll out as so much money has been spent on it already. It is not a bad thing that he is getting an auditor review.

I am a bit surprised at the low take up of MYKI though. I thought you may have saved a few cents here and then but then I saw a chart that compared the Metcard cost of travel against the MYKI cost, and the MYKI savings are considerable. You are talking of a saving between 50 cents and a dollar for each casual ticket purchase.

I'd suggest you get out there and get yourself a MYKI ticket while they last and save yourself some money.

Minor Boxing Day Sale

Not really, Queenscliff ignored Boxing Day sales and traded as usual, expensive. R couldn't resist a pair of sea rock climbing shoes for Little Jo. They are pink and almost look like ballet shoes. You can wear them in or out of the water and they have good grip for walking on rocks.

We visited Apostle for sustenance not of the spirit, but the stomach. The coffee and muffin were fine. It is Sister and Bone Doctor's favourite.

We then took a cruise around town in the most stylish vehicle we could find. Mother used to ride her father's Clydesdales. Sister and Tradie Brother used to get dinked on the back of a horse to school. I did not know of this horse riding family history. As not fond of horses as I am, I rather like Clydesdales. They don't have that flighty look in their eyes.

In yesterday's post I left out that a cruise ship was ready to pass out through the heads while we were on an evening beach walk (Diamond Princess). The channel which the ships must follow has them heading directly for the Point Lonsdale beach and they swing left and pass through the heads. Once past, Sister tells me they travel west for a bit before heading on their normal route to the east. The ship passengers would have had a fine view of the illuminated 36 metre tall pine.

For sale if you are interested.

We gave Little Jo a chef's hat and apron, powdered pancake mix and some cooking utensils. She whipped us up a fine batch of pancakes for breakfast.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Non Highrise christmas

This has been the first christmas that either we did not host for the family or didn't involve a good bit of travelling. We stayed at Sister's christmas eve and christmas night. Mother and ABI stayed too, except ABI Brother left christmas night to stay with a friend before going to the Boxing Day cricket test match. He thought he had lost the tickets when he pulled out his street directory when he was lost on his way to his friend's place and they spent a couple of hours driving the streets of Footscray looking for them. They resigned themselves to not going however next morning the tickets were discovered in his car.

We all found somewhere to sleep at Sister's. Bone Doctor and Little Jo camped outside in a tent and Little Jo loved it. I slept on the floor one night and a sofa bed the next. Tradie Brother and his son Dreaded Nephew visited for christmas dinner. We took several walks to and from the beach and a couple of evening drives to look at christmas lights.

Mother was painful. We are all the more convinced half or more of her problems are anxiety related yet nothing we say or suggest is taken much note of by her. Sister will deliver her here shortly and then ABI Brother will take her home.

It was a pleasant christmas and quite relaxing. We visited Queenscliff on Boxing Day before we journeyed home and after some rest went to our Brother Friends house for more food and conviviality with friends.

Sister gave me this retro toy. I suppose it works by magnets. You turn the robot to a question, life him up and place him on the shiny circle and he spins until he stops pointing to the answer. R says he remembers the toy from his childhood, but I don't. There are several sheets of questions, some I don't know the answer to.

Christmas morning I kept hearing emergency fire sirens coming from different directions. Eventually the reason became clear. Santa was driving the streets and handing out lollies. What a great thing to do for kids on christmas mornings. Well done the volunteer Country Fire Authority.

The 36 metre tall Point Lonsdale Norfolk Island Pine which has been decorated since the mid 1960s. Not a great phone camera photo, but the tree was great.

Thanks so much. It is lovely.

One ought not appear ungrateful but what do some people observe around them?

For more than five years you will have only seen me in a shirt with a collar, with or without a jacket. It is a long time since I have worn a tee, yet a friend twice has bought me tee shirts he has picked up cheaply in Asian countries. They are kind of ok tees, if you are in the habit of wearing tee shirts. Clearly he has never noticed that I don't. Young men and women don't seem to care about their flab being exposed when wearing a tee shirt, but I think for me a proper shirt is a bit more flattering. I am not a fool in so far as what I am wearing or not wearing is not going to matter to many, but it matters a bit to me. You can't make silk purse out of sow's ear, but you can present it with a little parsley to garnish.

At some point Mother must have noticed that we had a lot of antique furniture. She appears to have not noticed anything about our style of decoration since. The antiques were ditched long ago but she seems to think that dark brown timber picture frames are the go for us.

She did get mine partly right this year with a nice black and sliver picture frame with a picture of Late Step Father in it, but although Mother has a good eye for clothes and what works, surprisingly she chose a photo of Late Step Father wearing a blue Hawaiian shirt with a v neck red and black diamond shapes knitted jumper.

Well I may wonder about what I receive. Mother excelled herself with R's christmas gift, an empty photo frame surrounded my a mirrored border decorated with chrome filigree and bits of coloured plastic made to look like jewels. We will not even put it out when she visits tomorrow in a pretence that we like it. I wish she would show signs of senility so we would have something to blame.

We did receive some nice gifts, but tonight I am feeling reactionary about this christmas cheer and botheration.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Willow

ABI Brother has tickets for the cricket on Boxing Day. Sister has some for the third day. Ho hum, boring. I understand interest in sport. I never really get the passion for it. However, there is one thing that can arouse my interest in sport and this time it is cricketer Mitchell Johnston. Might Mitchell be an offside spinner or does he just whack a ball to the outer?

Pics from Fairfax Press and The Guardian.

Later edit: I said to Bone Doctor that maybe cricket wasn't so bad and that I was developing an interest. She replied, 'What's his name?'.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Mother's Petunias

For about three decades Mother has always planted petunias to bloom by christmas along her front fence, alternating red and white.

When she and late stepfather no longer wanted to maintain a year long bed of annuals along the front fence, the petunias were grown in pots and placed along the front fence.

I felt quite sad when I noticed there were no potted petunias along her front fence this year. I didn't say anything.

The immediate family will gather at Sister's house on the Bellarine Peninsula for christmas dinner. We will stay a couple of nights. It is proposed we catch the Sorrento ferry on Boxing Day to visit Sis in Law on the other side of the bay, but given we have a Boxing night dinner with friends arranged, it might just be a bit too much in one day. Rather depends on Mother, as she refuses to go on the ferry again.

Best seasons wishes to you all.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Donald Where's your Troosers

Now't like a bit of Scottish music. R's workmate and Scottish born friend Agnes Peaston (should I write a life and times of Agnes post? Maybe some rels will come across it) lived in Punt Road at a block of flats called Cremorne Court. It is between the river and Swan Street. She was a hoarder, so when she moved to her purchased flat in Murumbeena, we had a lot of cleaning out to do. She even had books piled up in her lav. At my birthday barbecue when we lived in Glen Iris, R had to bolt to let the police into her flat to remove her body. I am sure she was found with a book in her hand. I was not an experienced barbecue person but I tried to finish off what R had started. To this day I am still surprised that a gas barbecue can become a flaming inferno that can scorch the house eaves.

I expect it was when we helped her to move that we inherited a cassette tape from her that had this song on it. It amused me. If you don't want to listen to the whole thing, go to about 1.40 where there is a bit more than just a tempo change.

But in case you think I have totally lost it, here is a nice piece of music I came across while watching an unrelated you choob video. It begins a bit doof doof but improves as more 'instruments' are brought in.

Later edit: I just thought I might put the track on a cd to listen to in the car. But it is so long since I have done anything like that, I have forgotten how to borrow You choob music. What was it? Stick kiss in front of the url, download, burn it to a cd. Maybe I'll just get it from Napster.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


I don't have to go out and troll the streets like Victor and Julie. I can see four jacaranda trees from my balcony. Maybe if you click on the pic you can see them.

Ok, I wasn't trolling the streets. It was my monthly night to cook and while household management had told me there were spring onions, a fruitless search of the fridge crisper told me otherwise. I punished household management by forcing him to walk with me to the corner of Park Street and Domain Road to buy spring onions, top at your left of the photo. Ok, I am not so unkind. I bought him an Asahi and we watched the South Yarra glitterati pass by. Oh look, said household management, a nice jacaranda. And so it was.

My Store Myer

A trip into town. Actually I think I or we have been into town every second day of late. Of course the day I wanted to take photos, I had to use my phone camera having forgotten my camera.

DJ's wreaths upon its building look very nice.

The normally miserly Andrew gave this person a dollar. His hand move slightly to acknowledge thanks.

Good that we took Little Jo to see the christmas window display a couple of weeks ago. The queue was a mile long. That is not fun or pleasure.

Myer Bourke Street is now open to the heavens. Myer Lonsdale Street will close post Boxing Day sales, methinks.

My photo does not catch the beauty of the Art Deco style lifts. They look fantastic. Along with the lift driving handle, so too has the lift driver disappeared.

No, I was not standing on a ledge to take this photo. The new Myer has a window or two. The verandah roof was looking a bit messy, but isn't the whole building going to be demolished? I was looking across Little Bourke Street to the Lonsdale Street store, mostly now vacant. Note where the pedestrian bridges linking the two buildings have been removed.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

ABC Podcasts

The regular radio presenters have bashed off on holidays, and we are now with national programming for much of the time. I have to hear the opines of Mildred in Baulkham Hills, Sydney and Stan in Humpty Doo. Very character building.

It was interesting to me to recently read that podcasts saved ABC's Radio National. Possibly they have. When the shows go to air, it would be rare for me to hear them live. But, I can download them all as podcasts and listen to them at my convenience. I knocked off one and a half hours of them today. I keep up with them all, Rear Vision, Hindsight, Verbatim, Health Report, Science Show, Law Report, 360 Docs. Occasionally even Religion Report.

One of the shows did not put up a downloadable podcast until I sent them an enote. Now another has not. How hard can it be? Get your act together Verbatim. I want to hear about Ian McPhee.

Much as I would be pleased to hear him on air, I expect I will be snoring loudly when James can be heard on air.

Our ABC has amused and entertained me for another year. I thank you all, especially ABC Melbourne radio.

What is it? Solution

I need to add a shrieking sound as used on Stephen Fry's Q & I when someone states an obvious answer and they are wrong. What do you reckon this odd looking thing is?

Solution: While such a device would normally be found in a tram to control power to the motors, in this case in a bank of several, it controlled Sydney's swinging span Pyrmont Bridge. Pyrmont Bridge at Darling Harbour is the worlds oldest swinging bridge, 108 years old, and while Sydney's streets were not yet lit with electricity, Pyrmont Bridge was electrically operated.

This is going to hurt, the hip pocket

This was getting near the end of a post I wrote but the post was just not working and so I have deleted it. It was about us selling our investment flat and having to pay capital gains tax on the profit. We always did everything by the book and as a consequence, we now both have a decent amount of tax to pay. We could have easily rorted the system and avoided the capital gains tax by officially leaving it empty for a year and saying we or one of us lived there for that period. And of course let to someone unofficially. That would have led to us saving tax dollars of a five figure amount. I am pleased I am not of the character to cheat on tax, but I also think I am stupid.

Investment properties are such a rort. Your home hot water service breaks down? Book it with your friendly plumber to your investment property and make it tax deductible or depreciable. Boy can a good tax accountant do marvellous things with depreciation of assets.

I've not heard any politician propose to stamp out rorts on investment properties. Maybe that is because so many people have them and rort the tax system.

When one person learns of another rorting the tax system, they think to themselves, 'Why shouldn't I?' It puts the tax system at risk and of course 'pay as you earn' taxpayers begrudging paying their tax because they cannot avoid tax like the wealthier members of society.

Written 03/09/10

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Permanent Newspaper

The permanent newspaper was an idea of comedian Jane Clifton. Well, maybe she stole it from someone as I am doing so from her. I'll just keep republishing and redating as I add new items, or as you add new items in comments.

Let us start with politics.

Deputy Prime Minister says she has full confidence in the Prime Minister and has no leadership ambitions. (and we all know what follows)

Police. Crime statistics show a drop in crime in the state. (Is that per head or percentage? Maybe we have given up reporting crimes)

Public transport. Over the next twelve months you can expect to see huge improvements. (I'd rather go backwards to the 1950s when the service was faster and more reliable)

Roads. This new freeway will solve our traffic problems.

Written 15/08/10

Later update:

More for the permanent newspaper.

We have already had the fire warning. It either goes, we have had lots of rain and the undergrowth will be thick and give a high fuel load, or the bush is very dry due to the lack of rain. Year in, year out, the fire authorities will tell us one of either.

Pending is Chadstone shopping centre twenty four hour opening pre christmas being reported on television news. There will be shots of people shopping for christmas presents at 3am, sadly dragging their out of routine kiddies with them. Fkn idjits.

Another remote

The collection of remote control beasts just keeps on growing. I am guessing it is about two and a half years since we bought our Topfield PVR, a digital television recorder. It was troublesome from the start in a chicken and egg way. The problems were endless. We found it best to just leave it on, as it often failed to start. But by leaving it on, it ran very hot and failed in other areas.

Almost against better judgement, R bought a single tuner Topfield PVR for his bedroom tv. It worked well for a long time, but then it started to play up. I am sure I have written about all this in the past. His PVR was playing up because it was too hot because it sat on a dvd recorder below which generated heat. We had thought we had sorted the problem by switching the dvd recorder off, but no. Even in standby it was generating heat, so we unplugged the power lead and all has been well with R's PVR.

Meanwhile the original Topfield machine has continued to problematic. I called Topfield and asked what they could do for us and their defective product. The lad spoke nice words, but nothing happened.

Yesterday we spied a Topfield recorder in Dick Smith that seemed to be equivalent to our machine which cost $700. The new one was for sale at $500. Gung ho R wanted to buy it straight away. I pleaded to just give me some time to check it out on the net. I spent some time doing so and the only difference I could see was that it did not do picture in picture. We used that facility once I think.

While I was happy with the price, I thought I should check out the opposition. Myer had reduced the same machine from $699 to to $560. Similar but not quite as good machine at Good Guys Brighton for the same price.

I took coffee at the outdoor Viet/Thai place opposite the town hall and considered. I flicked through their complimentary newspaper that had a feature on bargaining. I went to the bank and withdrew five hundred dollars so I could say I will pay cash. Dickie Smith bloke was ready to discount an extended warranty, or a reduced price HDMI cable, but no the price is as it is. But between yesterday and today the price at Dick Smith had dropped to $444.

I bought and unlike the old Toppy, the new one just works, brilliantly. The old one looks nicer and you can adjust the skip forward or back individually, and no pic in pic, but otherwise the new one is great and a considerable refinement on the old.

I am not sure what I will do with the old one. There is some stuffs on it that I want to keep, so I guess I will have to get an external hard drive to transfer it.

Those Photos

I knew one day I would find Twitter useful, even if it was only to find a couple of pictures.

Town Hall

I was waiting for an appropriate tram at Melbourne's Town Hall. I must have been in a very choosy mood about what tram I would catch. I think I wanted an air con old articulated tram that has the best air conditioning but settled for an air con non crowded rough as bags imported from Germany tram which wasn't going to St Kilda, and so I had time to point the camera a footpath, mostly. The footpath inlays are rather nice.

Originally written 30/10/10.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The best lube

Me? Promote a commercial company? An American commercial company? Yep, this is their wonder product Ezy Glide. It is a silicon based lubricant, its main feature being that it is not oily or greasy and so does not attract dirt.

I use it on locks, sliding door runners, drawers, Little Jo's spinning top spiral, hinges, the car and more. It comes with a fine plastic tube that plugs into the spray head to get lubricant into those difficult to reach places.

If you need to lubricate, I highly recommend Ezy Glide.

Sydney, Rozelle Tram Depot, A brief history

Victor kindly pointed out a blog post to me but I did already know a little about Rozelle tram depot. At the bottom of this post you can see a photo of what the depot looks like now. I have been advised that it is considerably tidier than it was before it was used for some photo shoots, a couple of dance parties and as a background for 'If you think you can dance' promos.

One source tells me the depot is owned by Sydney City Council, another that it is owned by the NSW Harness Racing Club who obviously would own the adjacent Harold Park racecourse.

Let us go back. Construction of the depot was completed in 1904 and the depot became an operational tram depot for electric trams. It was enlarged in 1909. The trams serviced the Leichardt tram line and later the Abbotsford line as it was converted from steam tram to electric and extended. It also assisted with the supply of trams for Balmain and Drummoyne lines, the latter later extended to Ryde. It was all hands on deck when there was racing at Harold Park and nearby boat races. The depot closed when its tram lines were closed in 1958.

I seem to recall that it was used as a bus depot for a while, but I can't confirm that.

October, 2008, ABC Online (includes the tram depot)

Sydney's historic Harold Park trotting track at Glebe is up for sale.

The New South Wales Harness Racing Club plans to make Menangle Park in Sydney's south-west its new headquarters.

Chief executive John Dumesny says it is becoming harder to bring horses into the city.

"The inner-city is rather congested with traffic and when you are pulling a horse float with valuable livestock on the back it does become difficult and the horses do become unsettled," he said.

Mr Dumesny says the land will not be sold for anything less than $150 million.

"It's not an unrealistic figure. Were sitting on 27 acres, or 11 hectares, of property here right here in the city," he said.

"It's the biggest freehold parcel of land available."

April 2009, Sydney Morning Herald

It's a real mess," said Howard Clark, chairman of the Sydney Tramway Society, which owns five of the trams.

The depot site, set alongside parklands, is owned by the NSW Harness Racing Club, which bought it in two lots from the Roads and Traffic Authority for a reported $2.3 million.

Development proposals that included multi-storey apartments, car parking and commercial studios were submitted in 2005 but ran into opposition from residents.

May 2009, Sydney Morning Herald (how do you steal a tram?)

SYDNEY tram enthusiasts have issued an appeal for help in a last-ditch attempt to save six heavily vandalised historic trams left to rot in the derelict former Rozelle depot in Glebe.
Unforgivably, he explained, they include the most historic of Sydney trams: No. R1 1995, which was the last to run, in February 1961, to La Perouse, before entering the Randwick workshops to be sold or scrapped.

Bought by a Southern Highlands farmer, R1 1995 served as a haystore and shearing shed at Joadja for several years before being brought back to Sydney. It was restored and put into work on a tourist line at Port Kembla. Its next stop was a Newcastle tramway museum, from where it was stolen. On being recovered, it was used in Hay Street by the city council to promote the opening of the new light railway, before being returned to the depot.

August 2010, ABC Online (oh god no, not a working party)

The City of Sydney Council has created a working party to explore new uses for six trams that have been housed at the former Rozelle depot since 1995.

September 2010, source unknown (I forgot to note it, ok! And WhereTF is Menangle)

Harold Park Raceway will go on the market for development today, bringing Sydney's newest inner-city, high-density suburb one step closer.

The NSW Harness Racing Club will call for expressions of interest for the 11-hectare site after the club agreed to planning rules put forward by the City of Sydney and the Central Sydney Planning Committee.

Though the agreement is yet to be formally endorsed, the draft planning controls include that 35 per cent of the site be set aside for public open space while the rest provides dwellings for thousands of residents in buildings up to eight storeys high.

About 1200 residential dwellings are expected to be built on the site, plus a 5000 sq m building for affordable housing. Under the draft plans, the tram sheds will be converted for a mix of community and commercial uses.

Councillors voted on Friday to endorse the plans and give the go-ahead for a draft planning agreement to be drawn up and exhibited with a planning proposal.

At Friday's meeting, the lord mayor, Clover Moore, said the controls achieved a balance between ''community needs and amenity, while helping the city to meet residential and worker targets set by the state government and by Sustainable Sydney 2030''.

Councillor Chris Harris said he and fellow Greens councillor Irene Doutney did not support the plans because they felt eight storeys was too high, the development could cause traffic problems, and they feared that the tram sheds may become a supermarket.

Leichhardt's mayor, Jamie Parker, has also raised objections, saying the density will be equivalent to dropping a ''new suburb'' on the site.

The racing club's activities will be moved to Tabcorp Park at Menangle.

A University of Sydney spokesman said it was still interested in the site for student housing.

17th December 2010, ABC Online

Thousands of fans of harness racing are expected to turn out tonight for the final night of racing at Harold Park Paceway in Sydney's inner west.

The property developer Mirvac won the rights to develop the Glebe site into a residential area.

Racing started at the track in 1902 and by the 1940's huge crowds turned out for night racing.

In 1960 a world record crowd of more than 50,000 watched the Inter Dominion final.

Redevelopment work is expected to start on the site in 2012.

And so ends a significant slice of Sydney's tram and horse racing history.

As for other Sydney tram depots, you can stick that in comments. From memory, Rockdale Depot was about to be demolished a year or so ago. Waverly Depot is now a bus depot. Dowling Street Depot is where Moore Park Supa Centre now sits. Leichhardt Depot became a bus depot. Ultimo Depot became Powerhouse Museum. Randwick Tramway Workshops became smart apartments. Bridge Street depot in the city became government offices. Fort Macquarie depot, the mega tram depot to end all tram depots, was where Sydney Opera House now sits. North shore depot in Military Road, Manly lines etc, no idea. Rushcutters Bay depot, over to you Victor. Now, I must have missed one or two.

Pics from Sydney Morning Herald. Maybe all that paint will have preserved the timber underneath. That is a seriously erect pole on one tram?

R1 class tram 1995, the last tram to officially run in Sydney being transported to the Depot. Its last run was to La Perouse. Our ex NT policeman/politician friend can recall being taken for a tram ride to La Perouse by his recently deceased mother.

Sydney tram staff took pride in the appearance of their tram depots, certainly at Dowling Street and as this photo by Mr E. Skiller illustrates, Rozelle Depot did too.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Not so smart meters

I don't know whether we have a smart meter or not yet. Our electric meters are locked away in the service rooms on each level. I understand they are read from a central point, either in the building or remotely. So how is a smart meter going to benefit me and why should I pay for one?

Just another reason to hate the previous state government.

Leads me to wonder if the service rooms should be locked? I can see reasons for it. There is telecommunication equipment in there and so anyone with a grudge could cut our phone and innernet connections. But also in there are the water stop cocks for both hot and cold water. What if we were leaking badly and needed to use the cocks? It is not unimaginable that we might need to manipulate our own cocks and we should have free access to them. At night it could be half an hour before we could get our security company to give our cocks an anti clockwise twist and shut off our leak or flood even. Yeah, along with access to our meter, I think we need to be able to access our cocks in an emergency.

Oh yes, we don't have a problem with gas. We can easily access that cock in a kitchen cupboard. It just seems so sensible to have cocks in your kitchen cupboards. We close the gas cock off when we are away for a bit. Rather than in the external service room, the more cocks you can have internally, the better.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Thieves at the Highrise

It would seem I stole some stuff. Any day soon I expect I expect the heavy hand of PC Plod to fall upon my shoulder and R named as an accomplice to my crime.

'Your Honour, it was an innocent mistake.'

'Highriser, on balance I find your evidence and defence implausible. Send him down', as he places a black cloth on his head.

Saturday food shopping is always stressful for me. I have to hold myself back from the way I shop and consider the way R likes to shop. We shop very differently. I take a list and stick to it and see nothing else. R browses and takes his time at choosing. But then he worries that we have so much to do and starts to get panicky while I know less haste and staying calm is best. Talk about opposites, doubly.

Sometimes at the supermarket I do the check out transaction, sometimes R does. I guess it was my turn and I could sense R watching me, ready to pick up on any mistake I made. I do the same to him, but I am kind enough to never mention it. By the time I had finished transacting, he had scooped up the shopping bags and was out of the building. I scooped up the remainder and we headed to the car, only to then go to the other supermarket for what they had for cheap.

So we visited two supermarkets and consequently I am unsure of in which I committed the theft.

When we were safely in our garage and unloading our shopping into our jeep to bring upstairs, I remarked to R about how much shopping we had bought.

Once upstairs I noticed a large packet of crisps of a brand I did not know. Hmm, R has bought some odd crisps. I noticed he was looking intently at the packet of crisps, but nothing registered. With retrospect, he was probably thinking the same.

A large bag of tomatoes. I did not see them go into the fruit and vegetable basket at the Harry Heng's green grocery shop.

Bah, I have told R time and again about the poor economics of packaged salad vegetables and he has now bought some.

The clincher to what I had done was the two fresh chickens. Why buy uncooked chooks when you can buy them ready done at the supermarket.

It could have been R but I think it was more likely me who picked up someone else's shopping on the way out of one of the supermarkets. Perhaps the bags were set aside for a home delivery. Perhaps they belonged to the two homosexuals in front of us who as we exited the supermarket who were sitting on an old persons supermarket bench seat looking intently at their shopping receipt. I particularly noticed them because one of the homosexuals was a stout 5 feet and the other a lean 6.5 feet.

R wrestled with his conscience for a while I stated no way was I driving back to Prahran in heavy traffic to return the goods. We had to go into town in the afternoon, so eventually I suggested we could get the tram or bus back to Prahran, return the booty, and get the train to the town.

The end result? The crisps were quickly consumed, terribly salty, the tomatoes eaten as fruit, the greens added to a salad and we need a recipe for how to roast a chicken? We know how to roast beef and pork, but it is a long time since we have roasted a chook. Two fresh chooks for the marked discount price of $8 is very cheap, so I am not expecting much.

But every time the phone rings, I am expecting the voice of Commissioner Overland to ask me to call into our neighbouring police station for a chat.

Aussie Hamburger

I am not liking Australian Food's hamburger recipe. Garlic indeed.

Given that I don't really cook, I am not sure that I am qualified to say how an Aussie hamburger should be created, but since when did lack of knowledge ever stop me?

Toasted buns, well, a hamburger bun cut in half and toasted both sides. No soggy bun. No sugar in the bun. It should have lots of salt though. We need the iodine in our diet.

Spread tomato sauce on the bottom half of the bun. Ok, if you are one of those foreign types, you could rub a clove of garlic on the bun first to make it a little more palatable.

Place on the bottom half of the bun a coarsely ground and fatty minced beef patty cooked on a grill plate.

Crisply fried slices of onions broken into rings should be stacked onto the meat.

Onto that a fried egg with a still runny yolk. I don't think free range eggs are appropriate for the Aussie hamburger.

A rasher of fried bacon over the egg and not your crisp type shattering bacon, just a a rasher of lightly cooked bacon.

Slices of ripe tomato. No exotic tomatoes just a firm but ripe supermarket tomato.

A slice or two of tinned beetroot, preferably the Aussie grown beetroot, from New Zealand.

Top with sliced iceberg lettuce. Do not use rocket or any other foreign lettuceii.

Now you need a condiment. No Hungarian paprika or chilli powder. What is required is finely ground white pepper. Masses of healthy and exceptionally well nourished Australians have been brought up on fine white pepper sitting on the dinner table, even if they have never added it to food.

More tomato sauce on top. Heinz is fine. We have forgotten the war. Rosella sauce is made by a good old Aussie overseas owned company. But my preferred is our national bird symbol brand, White Crow.

In contention is whether a slice of Kraft cheddar cheese should be laid on top of the hot mince patty. Pre sliced cheese wasn't around when the Aussie hamburger was invented so it must be a later addition. Given Kraft sliced cheddar has no taste, it is a moot point.

Don't worry about trying to look elegant while eating an Aussie burger. You cannot. The question always is which part of the burger is going to fall out first and where on your shirt will it land.

Sorry to you Jews, Moslems, Hindus and Vegos. The Aussie burger is not for you. If you are catholic, you can't make one on Friday.

Who of us make them anyway? They are much better from Harry Nguyen's fish and chip shop.

Originally written 10/11/10.

Officer South

I was on my way to Mother's a week or so ago and I planned to buy something to eat along the way. This service facility is quite new and there is a similar one on the opposite side of the road. If they have tried to make souless, they have succeeded very well. However, it was very popular and lovely and cool inside on a warmish day. It is in Officer South, a place I never knew existed.

The main reason for stopping here, but not mine on this day.

Bare earth, concrete, bitumen, harsh lines and lost productive farmland.

There was a coffee bar, a McCafe and McDonalds, a KFC and one unknown to me, Coolabah which sold sandwiches and better looking hamburgers than the afore mentioned place, and other food stuffs. I ain't tellin' what I had.

Friday, December 17, 2010

So Cross Leaks

It was only after I wrote the subject line that I realised readers might think I am talking about Southern Cross Station's leaking roof. Well, not a leak really, more like a minor collapse. Nay, let us call it a major collapse. Hail piled on the roof and parts of it failed. Who paid for the repair? Taxpayers, an insurance company, Metro or Connex, the contractor? Who knows?

In these public/private, PP, deals, we don't get to know the financial details of what public/private companies do.

I am not going to defend Kosky's record as transport minister any more than to say she wasn't the one to reinvent public transport to make it work and she had to deal with what was given to her. But, she was the one who in an absolutely extraordinary move locked away the financial details of Southern Cross Station for fifty years. So let me see, say 2055 you can read about how Southern Cross Station was redeveloped and who spent what and how much of taxpayers dollars went into the pockets of the developer, who seemingly also gave us a white elephant shopping centre.

The Labor opposition will continue to trot out lame reasons why they lost office. They could start looking at matters like the above to work out why traditional Labor voters did not vote for them. You lie with dogs, you wake up with fleas.

So come on someone. Do a SoCrossyLeak website.

Santa and Little Jo

Little Jo seems to have overcome her fear of santa. She told santa she is getting a pink bike for christmas. Sister said no, and has repeatedly. Bad luck Little Jo, maybe next year. Now where did her blonde hair go?

Hoho, Sister has been conned into taking Mother to meet up with a friend for dinner at Fountain Gate tonight. Good luck with the parking Sis.

Crack man in the highrise

The window crack man arrived at the highrise to take a look at our window. Poor installation he said. Maybe a screw fixing point. Might have been ok for ever, but it was the tinting wot done it in. The temperature difference was too much when the sun was on half the window and it broke at a vulnerable point. Of course I was quite right on several fronts, least of all that the crack would get worse. Yes, owners corporation will pay, maybe even for the re tinting. Meanwhile Copperwitch's previous comment worries me whenever the wind blows.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Metering Mother

Mother has used a very scientific method of checking her power consumption in an effort to reduce her electric bill. She goes to the front door and sees how fast the meter wheel is spinning around. She has decided that the electric kettle is the culprit for her large electric bills and says that the wheel spins more slowly and the water heats more quickly if she heats water for her tea in a saucepan on the electric stove hotplate. She takes no notice of what other appliances are on when she checks, or whether the air conditioner compressor is running, or just the fan.

Ah well, harmless enough I thought, until I saw her carry the boiling water in the saucepan to her tea cup. Admittedly it is only one step, but I can see potential for disaster. I will have to get scientific and show her that the wheel is not spinning significantly faster when using the kettle. What she does need to do is get over her paranoia about the kettle boiling dry and so stop boiling a full kettle of water every time she wants a cup of tea.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Xmas Isle Disaster

I had half a mind to write a post about Abbott's boat phone, or perhaps something like 'well that might stop the boats'. That is, until I read The Age headline, 'Babies clinging to debris'.

Help the Sydney lady out

Not just her really, me too as I am quite curious.

Sydney Eye has been peeping over fences. Click here and see what you can make of this apparent cooking or heating device in what seems like a really wrong place.

Stick your laneway

Melbourne, the coffee capital of Australia. I will wear that. You can get good coffee almost everywhere in Australia now, but it wasn't always the case. Melbourne led the way. The worst pretending to proper coffee I have had was in the Queen Victoria building in Sydney. Not only was the coffee atrocious, it was served in a kind of awkward tulip shaped mug with a handle. Worse, it cost a third more than a decent cup in Melbourne would have cost.

How outrageous was that McDonalds paid piece on Ospray Winfrey's Australian promotion? The Melbourne inner cafe latte set despise McCafes and would not be seen dead in them. Starbucks has failed in areas where the inner cafe latte set congregate.

But do not be mistaken, do not be misled, Melbourne's laneway culture is a load of shed.
A few people who have graduated on from spraying graffiti on trains to spraying advanced 101 graffiti on laneway walls.

This coolest bar that you have to fight your way through stinking dumpmaster bins to get to will close in two weeks, only to have another owner/sucker come along and spend heaps to renovate and so the cycle goes on.

Am I sounding old and bitter and ranty? I mean to. Melbourne's so called and overpromoted laneway culture has no relevance to me. I have my fave places in the city to eat, drink or whatever outdoors, and none are in laneways.

Don't get me wrong though. I like our laneways and how they have been changed into something beyond just being service lanes, but truly, the laneway culture thing has gone overboard.

Now shop verandah bars where you sit on the awning of shop roofs are another matter. I like them.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dispelling a myth?

I think it is a myth that the Flinders Street Station clocks were ever removed and digital replacements were installed. I have read that the old clocks were removed and digital installed and there was such an outcry that the old clocks were reinstalled.

This is how I remember it. There was a plan to remove the clocks that indicated the departure times on our various suburban train lines and replace them with digital clocks. The clocks had previously been manually adjusted by railway staff with a long pole that presumably turned something in the clocks to adjust them. There was a public outcry and instead the existing clocks were converted to electric operation and adjusted from a central location. It took quite a long time before the converted clocks became reliable indicators. But no, I don't think there were ever digital replacements. If you can give me specifics that they were, please do so.

You can see the clocks at this great post at Melbourne Curious, which again repeats the digital myth. The clocks can be seen clearly about halfway down the page.

Not a report of my demise

I don't like dobbing, but in this case I think I am justified. R was with Little Jo in Prahran and I had one more thing to get so I told them to go to the bus/tram stop and catch whatever came along if I didn't make it and I would catch the next one home, which is what happened.

I boarded the bus along with another passenger who knew the driver and they had a chat along Commercial Road. The driver was obviously distracted as he almost missed a stop near the Alfred Hospital.

Much worse was when we were sitting at a red light in Commercial Road and he pulled the bus out into the service lane against a red light. He slammed the brakes on and nothing hit us and the passenger who he was talking to broke off the conversation and scuttled down to the back of the bus. I am not great at talking and driving, but I let the conversation go, not my driving. Clearly this bus driver is not great at talking and driving either, so best that he is warned not to do so.

I don't dob lightly but when the public is put into significant danger as it was, then I don't see that I cannot.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Oprah Tram

We were having a spot of lunch at a French deli in Bourke Street and looked who passed by, well an image of her on the side of a tram. I would just hate having my face enlarged to that size. I guess this tram will have its appearance changed fairly quickly as Oprah has been and gone and is no doubt now describing Sydney as the most beautiful city in the world.