Saturday, January 23, 2010

And that was only the morning

Doctor ordered Mr Highriser for cholesterol blood tests. Yeah yeah. That was last October, but the time is nearing when I have to visit Doctor for some new 'scripts. Fortunately Doctor has written me off as a loss and does not lecture me about my wanton indulgent lifestyle, instead he gives me pills. Even so, I better play the game and have the tests before I visit Doctor again.

Ok, the mega pathology provider Dorevitch has a Balaclava office open Saturday morning. It opens at eight o'clock and my plan was to get there about 8.45. I should have listened to myself. R geed me up to get there at 8.00. Five people were at the door waiting. 8.45 there would have been two people in front of me.

Did I mention that I had to fast? I care little about food but for the past thirty years bar one day when I had the last test, the first thing I do every morning is make myself a cup of instant coffee. I was missing my coffee big time.

First lass was an older Anglo woman and very nice and caring, but could not do the job. She called on her superior, a younger Indian born lass to do the job.

Anglo woman was very concerned for my welfare. Indian lass not at all. No matter, Indian lass did the job.

No vein to be found in my left arm, no vein to be found in right arm. Try left again, no vein to be found. Indian lass tried right arm again, no.

Finally found a prominent vein on my hand and I so I ended up an old person with a a cross bandage on my hand. A friend told me later that old people show off their hand cross bandages in the hope that someone will ask them what is wrong with them and what test have they been for. I asked was their name (insert name of my mother).

In spite of the staff insisting I was not ok, I insisted I was. I left in a condition of mild shock. I was glad I did not get the tram there and R was waiting in the car outside.

I have a slight bruise on my hand. Don't worry, I will live to post another day. We then went shopping and used trolleys and R had to carry a lot of stuff as I was not to do heavy lifting.

I know some of you are getting on a bit and understand. I am embracing old age. I like slowing down. It makes life so much easier. I am not particularly troubled by my body and face aging but I hate my hands getting old. At breakfast a couple of weeks ago when I instigated hand stacks on the mill (what is it called? Handy handy?) with Little Jo, how I hated my old hands on her beautifully smooth skin.

Looking down at my hands now, all nails are perfect, bar one that could have a tiny snip at one side. Just don't look at the skin. I not like.

Leaving Randwick

I have just downloaded a video and I would love to upload it here, but there is a clear warning that I must not. Instead I have provided a direct link.

It is a less than a minute and is a silent film of racegoers leaving Sydney's Randwick Racecourse. It could be titled 'how to move eighty thousand people from the races in twenty minutes' as it is said that it was thus.

It is impressive to watch present day Melbourne trams move a large crowd after a big sporting match, such as a football grand final, at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. It was even more impressive in days before trams had doors, or had doors that could be open while the tram was moving. But even in the old days, we could never have moved crowds like in this video were moved. These Sydney trams were very open and crowds could flood onto and off them very fast, plus many of them were sets of two trams hooked up together. I'll go for them being mostly coupled O class. Ben?

Click here and press play to take a look.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Lithgow Zig Zag

How do you get a train up a really steep hill? Even if it has motors or and engine powerful enough to climb a very steep hill, there is not enough adhesion between the rails and the wheels to allow such a steep climb. This problem afflicts trams too.

Well, all very well to use a counterweight to get a tram up and down a steep hill, but this is not practical for a large and heavy train.

Let us visit Lithgow, well ten kilometres short of Lithgow on the western flank of the Blue Mountains. At this point the mountains rapidly fall away to Lithgow's Valley below. A cry for a train was heard, from all parts of NSW west of the Blue Mountains. Twitter streams were created, a Facebook site set up, politicians flooded with emails and online petitions. Well, no not back in the mid 1860s. More likely local delegations were making representations to a their local members and to ministers.

So, how to get a train up a steep hill? It was probably an already tried and true method. You zig zag the train back and forth up the side of the hill. The train travels one way up the side of the hill, then reverses and climbs up a bit more and so forth until it reaches the top. Bit more organising to get the train up the hill than if straight track, but it worked well until there were so many trains to get up and down the hill, a lot of waiting time was involved at the top and the bottom of the mountainside.

By 1910 engineers were skilled enough to replace the zig zag railway with a dozen or so tunnels to get the train up onto the Blue Mountains and the zig zag train line was no longer needed.

Fortunately much of the system was left in place and restoration as a heritage railway began in 1975 and even today, it is an ongoing project.

Here is the website for the Zig Zag Railway. It is worth clicking on the link just to see the snow in the header photo.

Have I been on the Zig Zag Railway? Nope. Would I like to? Oh yes, well see it at least. Old trains aren't usually very comfortable. They clank and jolt a lot. Come to think of it, new ones are not so good either, for different reasons.

There are many photos on the net of the Zig Zag railway, but one picture I found tells a thousand words. I believe this mostest excellent photo is by Maksym Kozlenko Maxim75 . Well done to him. I do like a nice viaduct.

Do not call

That was a laugh. I just had a call from someone who has done a survey and wants to offer me a utility package. He started with, 'We have done a survey and as you pay your utility bills on time....'

I chipped in 'How do you know I pay my bills on time? Do you have access to my utility accounts?'

'It is done by a survey Sir'.

'Yes, but how do you know I pay my bills on time if you don't have access to my utility company accounts?'

'Thank you for your time Sir. Goodbye.' Clunk.

What have I done? I have missed out on some glorious bargain!

A cold call by a company who I have never dealt with. Surely the 'Do Not Call' register should prevent such calls. I forget the name already so can't report it.

RocKwiz and the Girl Icons

It is fun looking back at what I have written at times. Way back here I wrote about iconic Melbourne women. I am sure I left off some at the time and time marches on, so there are now more.

Back here when The Girl Who Wished She was Australian, in the US, wrote about Melbourne's present Lord Mayor Doyle, she mentioned some writing by Catherine Deveny. The Girl judged Ms Deveny from the The Peoples' Republic of Moreland somewhat critically. I can understand that. Worse than reading her writing is perhaps listening to her when she is ranting mode on the radio and that could possibly have elicited an even stronger response.

Any stranger to Ms Deveny could easily be offended with a one off read or listen. But behind the brash, up front, confrontational, controversial and provocative wife and mother, is a real person who I feel an affinity with. I too struggle to understand the world and its inequalities and injustices. I can only thank someone that I was very lucky by birth and that is all it is folks, luck. Anyone of us could be about to take our last breath after the most horrible suffering of being buried under a Haitian building for nine days. Or more commonly, an African baby just starving to death. Tens a day or is it hundreds?

Not very cheerful, sorry.

So, I will raise Ms Deveny to being an iconic Melbourne woman. Long may she be outrageous but still get a social justice point across.

You want more. Hmm, not sure about this one. I like Tracy Bartram on the radio but I am somewhat relieved her stint has finished. I struggle to keep up with her at times. By jove, she is fast. At some point her growing up in Dandenong must become boring. At some point her recovering alcoholism must become boring. At some point her son must become boring. At some point Warburton must become boring. If she just slowed down a bit, she could string her history out a lot longer. But I like her and so she will have status as iconic Melbourne woman.

You are wondering by now what this has to do with RocKwiz. Well, I have another to add to the iconic Melbourne women list.

I am sure I say this every year, but I cannot recall the christmas new year non rating period of our television stations being worse than they have been this year. One difference is that we have two digital recorders and so can record a lot of things if we aren't home and the other being that there are many more tv stations in our digital age. But STILL, there is nothing to watch. Don't forget that I have to take into account that it must be a mutually agreeable program to watch, and I mostly half watch while I am sitting here in front of the pc.

RocKwiz has been around for eons, but I have never seen it. In utter desperation I recorded an episode of RocKwiz, and found it very much to my/our liking. It is fast, fun and witty. I was surprised that it seemed to be focused quite strongly on music that I knew a bit about. I held my own in the quiz. I have subsequently watched a few episodes.

I have heard the host on radio in the past, in fact she has had her own fill in gig on ABC Melbourne radio in the past. I liked her when I heard her. But there is more to Julia Zemiro than just what you hear. You have to see her too. She is very attractive and a skilled performer in front of the camera and an audience. She alternates between being harsh, sassy and flirtatiously seductive. I confess, I am cheap. I am seduced by any woman who has dark hair, black eyes and wears bright red lipstick. It gives them a stamp that I feel comfortable with. That the show is filmed at the Espy (hey, great website) in St Kilda and that it has has very talented musicians is pure bonus.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Root Route

I was on a tram the other day. Ok, you are hovering over the x button with your mouse. I will go on. There was an announcement by a lass reading from a script about something or other, maybe alterations to the service for a holiday. Doesn't matter. She referred to alterations to a certain route.

Now, focus on the last word in the previous sentence. Did you read it as root or rowt? I think rowt might be an American pronunciation.

I think, only think, if you are Australian or English born, you would you would read it as root.

I recall from many years ago asking a question of a tramway employee and he answered my question, but said rowt. Him saying rowt distracted me to the point where I did not hear the rest of his answer. I was really puzzled. He had a slightly foreign accent, but that of Euro immigrant who had grown up in Australia. What is this rowt word?

Over some years I have heard many tram announcements over the public address system from a central control centre, and invariably, they say rowt.

Yet, no one I know personally says rowt. Everyone says route as root.

Hang on, how do you get your kicks? Don't you get your kicks on root 66? So maybe not American.

Apart from tram people, I never hear anyone say route as rowt. Is it an American pronunciation?

Please explain.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What's in a Name #37.5

I think we all learned something when I last posted about unusual place names. Quite a few were suggested in addition to mine, my suggestions being Wisemans Ferry and Field of Mars.

I have discovered a few more odd ones, well odd to me anyway. Maybe perfectly normal to you.

I don't believe that Model Farms exists now, but it used to be an area squeezed in between Baulkham Hills and Northmead in greater Sydney, around about where the Hills Motorway crosses Windsor Road.

Chipping Norton out Cabramatta way is odd enough in itself, but just to its north is George's Hall.

I don't believe my old map that tells me National Park is a suburb. Perhaps I am wrong. It is near to the excellent tram museum we visited last year, just south of Sutherland and it is actually a national park.

Now kiddies, we will have no discussion on the name origins of Rooty Hill.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Lock 'em Up

I was not at the trials and so did not hear the evidence but two sentences for crimes have had me with a slightly dropped jaw.

A husband and wife, both doctors, individually defrauded Medicare with false claims. The figure was around $80,000. I can't recall if that was each or both. They weren't even in the country when some of the services they claimed for were supposedly performed. They received a community service order. No gaol sentence. Are we that short of doctors?

A lad punches someone of a similar age in the head. The victim falls backwards and hits his head on concrete. I think the victim ends up badly injured and spends a long time in hospital. Maybe he even died. I missed that bit. Regardless, it it is the life threatening punch that matters. Yep, a community service order for the perpetrator.

To tennis. I have never attended a big game of tennis. From what I see, everyone stays silent during play and a winning point receives polite applause. Perhaps at the end of a long volley, there could be a cheer, similar to that you might hear at a long drawn out and hard fought house auction.

People standing on seats? People throwing flares? People chanting political slogans? People giving nazi salutes? Just not cricket chaps. Stick them together in a wire cage in public view for the rest of the day.

This toleration of law breaking and anti social behaviour is getting worse and worse.

Still Cmas

R wraps presents very nicely. It is not in my genes. I wrapped the tall silver one to your right. It was a mess if you looked anywhere but at the very front. The big one was for Little Jo, a toy farm or something like that. I really should remember what we bought her. I remember the price well enough.

On Boxing Day, the day after christmas day, Little Jo was already perusing a toy catalogue to make a selection for next year.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Ta ta Lynne

I take on board all views I hear, including those from blog mates, but still I have my own thoughts.

I will guess that at State Transport Minister knew this would be her last term in office when she was asked to take on the portfolio. She knew she was not going to be popular. She may well have done some good work. I don't know. The results will be a long time coming.

I tried to recall a popular Minister for Public Transport from the last three decades and I struggled. Pauline Toner was not hated. Steve Crabb was not hated. Peter Spyker was not hated. But the rest were. In my memory, Crabb was the only one who did very much. Sadly pumping tax payers money into gloss does not rate highly with me. I think he was responsible for the abolition of the MMTB. Not a bad thing. It had passed its use by date. It was time for modernisation. Whether what came of the process was good......well that is pretty doubtful with hindsight.

Kosky may well have been a good lobbyist for a better budget share for public transport, but let us face it. The situation was becoming untenable for the government and some improvements, remedial action and projects had to get underway.

While my memories of public transport are very clear when it was under the control of the Kennett government, our present government has had ten years to, if not make us a better public transport system, to at least keep it progressively improving. They have not.

That is one decade of no new trains, no new trams and barely any new train or tram tracks. Massive subsidy of private buses goes on and on and the dollars have increased umpteen times. And then what about taxpayer's money that goes to shareholders in foreign countries who run out train and tram systems?

Lynne, I wish you well. You were just a small cog in the wheel of neglect of public transport and a huge expenditure on roads and freeways.

Remember folks, it is the swinging outer suburban car driving electorates that count, although be afraid inner city Labor members. Be very afraid.

Heads Up

That is a funny phrase. A Melbourne blogger in the distant past used the phrase quite a few years ago and it was the first time I had read it and I had to look its meaning up. So, I am giving you a heads up.

If my memory is not too defective, there is a very fine interview by Andrew Denton of feisty US journalist Helen Thomas on ABC1 at 8pm tonight. I am surprised that it is a whole eighteen months ago that it was first screened. It is quite moving in parts and I don't think you will be disappointed by spending thirty minutes tuned in.

Idiot Motorists

The first car in the queue of cars to turn right is a fool. He or she has not stopped over the loop in the road to bring up the right turn arrow and yes, it did not work, so the cars behind were stuck too.

A lovely big and thick white line to stop at but the driver does not seem to understand that he or she should stop with the nose of their car at the big thick white line. I really wonder what they think the line is for?

Eventually said motorist will give up and drive straight ahead. Hopefully the following car will stop in the correct place.

But they don't just stop over the line, they also stop well short of the line, with the same effect. No green turning arrow. Now the lane being an exclusive right turn lane, they are snapped by the new camera when they give up and go straight ahead.

When I think of the times when as a pedestrian I have had to walk around a car that is stopped in the pedestrian area at a crossing, I have no sympathy whatsoever. Interestingly, you seldom see the much maligned young male driver doing such stupid things. They just kill themselves and their friends.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sleepover and Carnival

Little Jo had her first night away from her parents last night. Sister and the Bone Doctor celebrated their tenth anniversary with a meal at Mecca Bah at Docklands and spent a child free night together.

R was magnificent with Little Jo. He lay on the bed reading to her until she dropped off at about ten, very late for her. He then left her and went to his own bed. I woke at three and she was sleeping soundly. At five she woke and started crying and R heard her, got up and found her standing next to her bed crying out for Mummy. He took her to his bed and few minutes later she fell back to sleep and woke at seven. By nine we out at a playground at the bottom of Victoria Avenue, Albert Park. Sister had taken her to the sand playground once before a year ago and she remembered it. We then took her to Portabella on the beach for breakfast where R and I had taken her six months ago and she remembered being here too.

We were in Sister's car and collected her from South Yarra Station. Little Jo was overjoyed to see Mummy coming up the ramp.

It had slipped our minds that it was Midsumma Carnival Day. Sister took Little Jo off to meet up with other Rainbow Families in the KidZone.

An aside, a phone call from Mother. Dreaded Nephew is now driving Late Step Father's car. He recently attended Falls Music Festival which apparently is a dry event. Not so for him. He filled the car's windscreen washer reservoir with vodka. I am not sure if they had to operate the washers to get a shot. So enterprising. I am proud of him.

About 1 we wandered in Carnival to see who had died and who has survived since Carnival last year. There were still some familiar faces around. We came to the realisation that there are now two generations of g&l younger than us.

Carnival this year was smaller, better set up and had more of a community feel to it. We had to put proof of age wrist bands to enter a drinks area. What a joke, but not a funny one. Absurd really. It was, weather wise, the coolest Carnival I can remember. Very pleasant.

We wandered around after a drink, had a bite to eat and coffee, wandered a bit more and came home. Our behaviour is now so very tame to what we used to get up to at Carnival.


How many gay Asians live in Melbourne? Thousands, it would seem.

For the first year I noticed a large number of gay Indians.

Although there were a few African looking people, I suspect they are 'western' Africans. Not one Somali or Ethiopian type African was there. Clearly none are gay!

Usually there are so many dogs underfoot, you end up treading on one's foot. Did not seem to be so many this year. I still stood on a dog's foot though and apologised to him/her.

The same does not go for children with gay parents. There seems to be g/l baby boom happening. We saw the cute babies two guys adopted from India and featured in a tv show. Quite pale skinned girls I think.

Photos from the day in order of snapping.

The Spirit of Tasmania sailed away from Station Pier while we were at the beach this morning.

Yes, this machine at the sand play park works, but it is quite difficult to operate. Of course I tried.

Myki, our new Victorian public transport system ticketing system had its promotional truck at Carnival. I did not see much interest.

And the Sherriff had his truck there too.

We et a Morrocan Baby Burger each. Appropriate in the circumstances, we thought and who could resist the 10% more baby content.

Who yo callin' trailer trash bitch?

Portable ATM? Of course. The wheels were clamped, maybe a favour by the Sherriff, lest it be motored away for a Sunday drive by a stranger.