Saturday, January 16, 2010

Helping Out

Per a radio conversation I heard. So many gals and so many guys can't find partners. In spite of the obvious success of the internet for hooking up, the advice was to get out and socialise. Hooking up via the net can be good, but actually meeting people in real life and hitting it off is perhaps preferred.

I don't do neither now. I am sufficiently endowed (insert pregnant pause) with friends and family.

The woman who was talking on the radio gave an example of a place she frequented where there were twelve eligible guys.

Let me see, twelve guys. One must be outright gay. One gay for pay. One effem, perhaps straightish. One who would root a tin of worms. The rest varying shades of straight.

I was afraid that I would not hear where this place was with twelve unattached men. But the interviewer pressed the point at the end of the interview and it turned out to be a motor repair garage in New South Head Road, Edgecliff, Sydney.

I think it is sad that local Edgecliff girls would probably not be interested in a motor mechanic for a relationship, but I'd reckon there might be a few local lads who would be, or who could at least relieve the lads' frustrations.


Maybe it is a good idea that R and I never had a child.

Me: Just water while you have your dinner Jo. Milk later.
R gets milk.

Me: Stay at the table until we have finished eating Jo.
R pulls her chair out so that she can easily get down.

Me: Bath first Jo, and then you can watch a dvd.
R puts on a dvd.

Toilet Flap

Timespanner in NZ has a description of an unusual toilet seat, another invention that did not catch on, but it reminded me of a toilet from my childhood and I can't remember where it was.

I think it was a pit toilet, rather than a septic or sewered model. As you sat on the seat, two spring activated stainless steel flaps opened below you. As you removed your weight from the seat, the flaps closed. I can only guess that the flaps were to stop the odour rising from the pit below and or keeping flies out of the pit. Don't worry fellas, the flaps were low enough to not accidentally snap shut on anything.

Anyone come across a model like this?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Glen Waverley Train, not departing

Melbourne's poshest train I suppose would be the Glen Waverley line. It travels through Melbourne's most expensive area and ends up at a place where many people aspire to live. Ok, it does go a bit downmarket along the way, but bounces up again at the end. We used to be frequent users of the service when we lived in East Malvern. I could scarcely believe how quickly it could get us to the city.

It has always had a good level of service and you seldom hear reports of trouble on Glen Waverley line. Not so this week.

So far today all is well, but for some decent period of time on three days out of four this week, the line has been partly shut down, all to do with overhead wiring.

This won't do at all Metro Trains. The people who use Kooyong and Heyington Stations expect better than this.

Not my favourite Scotch

Scotch Thistles. How my father hated them. They can be quite pretty when in flower though.

They are also known as Spear Thistle, Heraldic Thistle, Cotton Thistle or correctly, Onopordum acanthium Yeah, I pasted that.

Scotch Thistle is a nasty plant with very sharp needles and it can take over a field very quickly as they have this front garden of an empty house. God was not so dumb though. She invented chemical sprays too, and spray them my father did until they were all gone, only ever appearing when the seed from a neighbours plant blew in.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Stonnington Again

Remember back here when I wondered what these fittings were for at the renovated and redeveloped Stonnington? As soon as saw the purple fitting recently, I immediately understood. In fact if you look at the original photo, the clue was there, that is there was a fitting coloured purple.

They are inlets for water storage, the purple one being an inlet for recycled water. Somewhere underground there will be large storage tanks. The recycled water has been put to very good use, producing the most luscious fine, green lawns that would do an English manor proud and beautiful healthy looking plants and trees.

It is the way of the future. The rich will have green grass and trees and the poor will have gravel.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Vale Barbie

Ex ABC 3LO broadcaster Barbara Horn has died. Don't bother going to the front page of ABC Melbourne. No mention there that I can see. She was a fine broadcaster of the old the school but was not averse to a bit of on air fun, like her flirtatious conversations with footballer Robbie Flower. She was an important person in the modernisation of ABC radio in the early eighties, with her less formal style. Less formal, but still very professional.

There was minor tribute by Lisbeth Gorr on ABC Melbourne, unfortunately with Barb on the end of a telephone, and so not did give listeners an opportunity to listen to her deep, beautifully modulated and seductive voice.

Bowled for a Googlie

Please note I am usually wrong when I have an opinion on something like this.

But I will call it. Google 1. Chinese government 0.

In brief, SOMEONE in China has been trying to hack Gmail (Google) accounts of Chinese political activists, along with phishing and worms. That, along with censorship of Google within China has annoyed Google to the point where it has issued an ultimatum to China. Chill or we will bolt.

Me calling a win for Google is based on my opinion that Google having been in China for four years and no doubt it is as popular there as it is here, China needs Google more than Google needs China. China wants to be seen as modern, free and progressive. I don't think it can do that without Google.

I'm not a gossip but...

What salacious news coming from Northern Ireland. Rabid homophobic sixty year old wife of the first minister had a nineteen year old male lover. She found some property developers to stump up money for the lover to open a cafe, and a very nice and popular cafe on a tow path it turned out to be. Her husband is embarrassed to say the least.

Gay Irish and English are celebrating. It can only because of a sexual scandal affecting a homophobe. A bit of revenge or comeuppence. Homophobia is not about morals. This is not a case of hypocrisy.

So young laddies, do indulge sixty year old women who wear too much make up. It could be the making of you.

Revisting Brunswick Heads Revisited

If you weren't around at the time, either you were too young or you were living under a rock, you cannot appreciate the impact of Brideshead Revisited when it was first broadcast on ABC TV. I can recall going to the Laird Hotel and half the guys there had a little teddy bear in their back pockets. You will have to have seen the show to understand why.

Sometime later, ABC came up with a little audio gem, first broadcast on radio, although I can't recall which service, Brunswick Heads revisited. Brunswick Heads is on the NSW coast, north of Sydney. James re-visited Brunswick Heads back in 2005.

It was a, 'scuse the french, a piss take of Brideshead Revisited. I am working from memory now. While I found the cassette in my pile of cassettes that I never thought I would listen to again, neatly stacked in my wardrobe, I haven't listened to it yet. Yes, I do still have an appliance to play cassettes, two in fact. I wonder if the heads need cleaning? Nothing worse than a dirty head. I think our freezer contains a ten year old brown bottle of 'video head cleaner'. That is what the man in the shop said to call it. Will that do?

Although with a very formal speaking narrator, the cast were anything but. I am sure there was a Shazzer in there somewhere and the drawliest broadest Aussie accents you can imagine. I am looking forward to hearing it again. I must google the performers and see what they are doing now. Cricket starts tomorrow at Bellerive Oval doesn't it? Good chance to listen to the tape.

Oh, I see the cassette has Dolby. That will mean extra good sound quality, won't it?

Later edit: Angela Webber died in 2007 at the age of 52. Bit unfair what but she was quite some achiever. Read her obit here.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Train Air Con

As always with me, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but let me express my views on train and tram air conditioning.

As the temperature rose to 43 degrees today and trains failed one after another, we are told by Metro Trains that the Comeng train air con system was not designed to operate above 35 degrees. We were told this by the previous company Connex. We have been told this by the state government. Temperatures of 35 degrees plus happen every summer in Melbourne, so I am not sure why they would not be 'designed' to cope.

While the controls of an air con unit can be quite a complex piece of electronics, the basics are not. You have a compressor and a fan. Compressed gas gets cold and a fan blows through the cold area and blows out cold air into your room or vehicle, car, train, bus or tram.

The size of the compressor and the ability of the fan to distribute the cool air should be matched to the the size of the area cooled and the conditions of the area. Clearly a moving vehicle with opening doors and full of people will need to get more cooling than a a single room in a house.

Melbourne's Combino trams, the newer ones that operate in St Kilda Road and Swanston Street very obviously have inadequate air con systems. If you listen carefully on a warm day, you can hear the system cut in and out. If you listen on a hot day, you will not hear the system cut out and yet the tram is uncomfortably warm. Inadequate air conditioning. Trams with air systems designed for Germany do not have appropriate air conditioning for Melbourne.

Adelaide also bought new trams four or so years ago. They too were Euro designed and had inadequate air conditioning. Passengers were blamed for not having eaten breakfast and fainting. Remedial work was done, haha, putting heavier tinting on the windows. Eventually the government bit the bullet and spent millions on upgrading the tram air conditioning. Adelaide has bought even more new trams and retired its very old fleet. I will bet that their newest trams do have adequate air conditioning.

I have not been on one of the French trams, the Citadis that also operate in Melbourne, on a really hot day, so I can't speak for them, except that on a warm day, they seem ok.

Melbourne's B class trams, the older articulated trams have excellent air conditioning. It is a bit noisy but also easy to hear when it cuts in and out. Even when the weather is quite warm, it still cuts out at times, and yet the tram remains deliciously cool inside.

Our trains, of the three different main types, are very comfortable with working air con. The older Comeng trains are the ones with air con that is 'only designed to operate' up to 35 deg.

Back to the tech. In a big area that has inadequate air conditioning, the compressor will just work non stop. That is, it is running at full capacity and can do so for a long time, until it is either switched off or the weather cools down. If it runs non stop, it will wear out more quickly than if it was cutting in and out at regular intervals, but that is a long time.

This is what they are designed to do. That is, run for long extended periods. I just cannot possibly imagine why these Comeng train air conditioners keep failing and after being in service for such a long time, a fix for the problem hasn't been found without an expensive upgrade.

I am afraid I just do not believe the phrase, 'designed to operate up to 35 degrees'. I would believe 'designed to cool efficiently up to 35 degrees'.

Ta chaps

As we complain about our train system collapsing and our electricity grid failing, give a thought to those who are out in the heat trying to fix these things.

Privatisation, do nothing governments, lack of capital expenditure and lack of maintenance are not their fault. Good on you lads and lasses. Your efforts are appreciated.

Great Railway Journeys, an occasional series

If I was rich and retired, I think I might travel the world to ride on historic railways along with taking some of the present great railways journeys. There are so many historic and restored railways, it may be impossible to see them all.

Here is nice little journey I might take. We go to Wales, that little bit of Britain stuck way out west. Very picturesque it is.

The Welsh Highland Railway starts at Caernarfron, complete with a castle and a pretty seaside village in North West Wales (the station is on a Roman road) and climbs steeply into Snowdonia National Park to Ryhd Ddu and then plunges down even more steeply to its present terminus at Haford y Llyn, a total of 32 kms. This year the extension to Porthmadog should be completed and the train will link to its sister historic railway, the Rheilffordd Ffestiniog Railway. (don't ask me how to pronounce any of those names, getting them written was hard enough)

The latter train was used to transport huge quantities of slate to ports for export around the world. This part closed in 1946 and the Welsh Highland Railway earlier in 1937.

As they were private railways, the railway lines could not be demolished without parliamentary legislation and besides, they would be very costly to remove.

Restoration has been going on for many years, with the restoration gradually extending itself southwards. And what do you think this work might have cost? Close to £30 million. Phew.

Of course that figure includes all the facilities and vehicles. Speaking of which, one of the steam engines is a Garratt and this engine started its working life in, and finished in the north east of Tasmania, here in Australia. Steam engine fans will know all about Garratts, but suffice to say, they are well suited to narrow and tightly curving tracks.

The slightly knowledgeable self knows that a Pullman Saloon carriage, or a Pullman Observation carriage must be pretty special and so yes, they use these for folk who have a few more bob.

You want pictures then? Sure, many have taken them. This one by Michael Chapman for This is Garratt no. 87 in the Aberglaslyn Pass.

And this is a photo of the ex Tassie Garratt engine from the website of the Welsh Highland Railway. Very good website too. See what you can do with £30 million.

On a day when we witnessed our home temperature gauge crack 43 deg, 110F, the thought of a comfortable and scenic train trip in the cool Welsh highlands is very appealing.

Monday, January 11, 2010


If we did not have a swimming pool and a toddler niece, I would have perhaps never known about noodles. Here is a pair of noodles, enough for two people.

Sister brought two along one day when she and Little Jo came for a swim. She paid $5 each. R bought another two, 2 for $5. What about me when we swim and Little Jo is here, I protested. So we bought another, $4. Yesterday we had five noodles in the pool. I commandeered two and placed them so that I could effortlessly float around, one under my knees and the other under my arms.

A tractor tyre inner tube might have been great as a kid, but these are so cheap and work well.

Sister was giving Little Jo a lesson in 'monkey monkey'. I had never heard of it. I have never seen Sister being so harsh, but I can see the reasons why. Monkey monkey is getting around the edge of the pool by moving your hands along the edge and getting to the ladder. The edge of our pool is not easy to grip. Twice Little Jo went under. Sister just pushed her back up and made her continue until she reached the ladder.

Life saving stuff.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Today's weather will be...

Sister and Bone Doctor gave me this weather station thing for christmas. We had the outdoor sender unit sitting in a pot plant and in the morning sun, the temperature readings were very high. Finally we bought some double sided tape and so far as I could see, this was the best position. There isn't any air flow from this vent, it is out of direct sunlight, protected from rain and away from the aircon unit blowing hot or cold air out.

The outdoor unit sends an update signal to the unit on the desk about every thirty seconds. Time, date, moon phase, pictorial forecast, indoor temp and humidity and outdoor temp. It does other stuff too, which I can't be bothered to learn. Hmm, why no barometric pressure reading?

Mother and the Bone Doctor

My normal emotions when dealing with Mother are amusement, because she is quite funny and entertaining at times, and the other emotion is exasperation.

It has been a long time since I felt anger towards my mother, but that is my most recent feeling.

Before christmas I took Mother to a medical appointment. I remember now, that I was up a Dawn's crack because R was locked in his bathroom, so I probably was not my usual self. But it is not really related.

I dropped Mother back to her home and she gave me a christmas card for Little Jo. My idea. I said, save the postage. I was going straight to Sister's from Mother's and meeting R there. I took the card and when I arrived at Sister's, she was out and R was playing with Little Jo.

I gave Little Jo her card from Nana and she was quite excited and happy.

I absentmindedly looked at the envelope and it was addressed using Little Jo's first name, followed by Sister's last name but no last name of the Bone Doctor. Little Jo's last name is a combo of Sister's last name and Bone Doctor's last name, with a gap but no hyphen.

What was Mother thinking!!! I stuffed the envelope into my pocket so neither Sister nor Bone Doctor would see it.

It has taken me a while to get around to correcting Mother on this point. Omitting Bone Doctor's name shows disrespect to Little Jo, to Sister and the Bone Doctor and I feel to us too. Never mind that Bone Doctor put $10,000 in Mother's bank account to keep in a style to which she is accustomed. Bone Doctor will be repaid at the end of the day.

On the phone to Mother this week.
Me: Oh, Ma, meant to mention, but I keep forgetting. You forgot to put Bone Doctor's name on Little Jo's christmas card envelope.
Mother: Oh, is that her name. I did not know.

Thought: Oh yes you did Mother, because I remember telling you and you asked which name was first and I told you Sister's and you said, well, so it should be. I prefer lying and cheating over being disingenuous.

Me: Lucky I noticed and kept the envelope.
Mother: Doesn't matter.
Me: Yes it does, they both would have been very hurt.

I left it at that. It is enough. She won't try that stunt again.

Mother embraced R as part of the family thirty years ago and thinks the world of him. Son 1 can always find an excuse to cut a phone call to or from Mother, but R is so nice, he speaks to her for an hour if she wants. But of course then moans to me about the long telephone call.

I recall the first time Mother met the Bone Doctor. It was at some awful smorgasboard eating place in Warrigal Road, probably Burwood. It has flaming tikki torches outside. Carnevue just slipped into my mind. I think that was its original name.

A few days later I wrote to Mother expressing the hope that the Bone Doctor would be accepted into the family as R had been so many years ago. She never responded. The rest of the family has accepted Bone Doctor as they did R.

Today I said to Sister, does Mother know it is your and Bone Doctor's tenth anniversary? Sister just pulled a face that said don't talk nonsense brother, and said no. Bone Doctor has bought Sister a most gorgeous ring for the occasion. They are going to Docklands, on some freebie for dinner to celebrate, and the gay uncles are going to host Little Jo's first night away from them next weekend. I'll shut my bedroom door to ensure Little Jo ends up in R's bed and not mine when she wakes in the middle of the night.

Back to Mother. She normally has a bit more style than to be caught out in such an obvious way. Why does she not like the Bone Doctor? Firstly, Bone Doctor's brother is autistic and I think Bone Doctor might be slightly. She perhaps lacks a little empathy at times. She is perhaps a little too dismissive of Mother's medical problems, both the real and the imagined. Bone Doctor does not understand what it is like to be in constant pain. Neither do I, but I can be sympathetic.

Mother says, poor Little Jo. She is sick. Take her to the doctor. Bone Doctor says, it is (clinical diagnosis), her immune system will deal with it. Of course Bone Doctor monitors Little Jo's temp etc.

It is perhaps unfair that half of Mother's children turned out to be same sex attracted hungry and one of the remaining has never married.

Sister and Mother have a very close relationship and certainly in the past, an honest one.

A theory I have is that Mother could understand how a bloke could take her daughter away from her, but she can't handle having her daughter taken away by a woman.

Mother would never be directly nasty or even say anything to me, but she really does seem to have a big problem with Sister's choice of a partner, the Bone Doctor.

Your thoughts are most welcome. I am only flying kites. I don't really understand.