Saturday, February 06, 2010

Allergy and farmers tan.

Several years ago I developed a skin problem. The palms of my hands and soles of my feet broke out in blisters and the blistered skin slowly died. I knew it was an allergic reaction to something but it has taken me years to work out what. I think I have nailed it now.

I could find no rhyme nor reason to the problem that recurred every so often. Firstly I blamed home made bread, perhaps the yeast in it, as we had just bought a bread maker. Then I blamed bottled wine and so I avoided that. I went to a skin specialist, but he did not know and agreed with my own diagnosis that it was an allergic reaction. He halved his fee since he did nothing except chat for a couple of minutes. I went for allergy reactions tests. No surprises there. I was highly allergic to rye grass pollen. As a sufferer of hayfever when I was younger, I knew that already. I have grown out of it.

I had not had an episode since last summer and then it happened again in December. What changed in December? I started using sun block on my arms when I was out in a short sleeved shirt. I now think it may well be the sunscreen. I will probably try a non allergic brand, but at this stage, I have stopped using it. Consequently I now have brown arms to above my elbows. Fortunately Jeb has some ideas about what to do about a farmer's tan.

Music of my Yoof #99.94

I can't remember when I first heard this song. Maybe the sixties or the seventies. It was played often on the radio so I suppose it was 'in the charts' at the time. I had no understanding of Irish politics or the 'troubles' but it was a catchy little song. This is only a short piece of the full song, which is not very long anyway.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Helping with a tune

Different sort of tune to what you were expecting.

There was a time when I would offer my help to friends, acquaintances and workmates who were starting out with these mysterious computer machines and the information super highway. Along with it being difficult because no two computers are set up in the same way, and the lack of effort on who was being helped to try, I have struck that off the list. I will judge that everyone who is ever going to use a computer now has one. So, that is probably something I won't get asked to do again, and nor feel obliged to offer. Having said that, I would love to help an old person get online, but the same problem is there, different system set up.

There was a at time stretching back even earlier when I would offer help when someone bought a new tv. Present tvs are marvellous in the way they automatically tune. But you often need to find the manual to know how to get to the menu. Actually, now, you probably don't. They all seem reasonably standard, like mobile phone menus are, but weren't in the past.

Again, with tvs, it was the same. People would not help themselves. Manual? 'Not sure. Around somewhere. Maybe I threw it out with the packaging. Perhaps it is in this drawer, nay, maybe the cupboard. It is somewhere. I will find it.' You struggle on, learning about a very different menu to what you know.

Words of gratitude are expressed for your help. Please, I would love to help you more, but you just aren't trying to help yourself.

Lol, probably much worse if who you are helping has had a drink or five.

Tale of a Milk Bar

A milk bar, just one little milk bar. Is dairy the word in NZ? Drug store in the US? Amazingly against the onslaught of extended supermarket hours, 711s, and many other convenience stores, some milk bars have survived. Let me tell you of one near my work place.

We start in the early 1980s. Supermarket trading hours were quite restricted. There were a few 711s around, but they were large places and funnily, opened between 7am and 11pm. The milk bar I speak of was a vibrant business. Sandwiches, coffee, deep fryer, papers, ice creams, bread, milk, pies and pasties, coffee, lollies, yep the full on mega milk bar. Plus, it was a Tattslotto agency.

The local newsagent was new. He coveted the local milkbar because it had a Tatslotto agency. He bought the milk bar and installed his mother in it and she ran it well enough. After a year or so, he transferred the Tattslotto agency to his newsagency. It may have taken that long for administrative reasons or tax reasons. There was no longer a reason for the newsagent to own a milk bar and he sold it on as a successful business. It was then owned for a few more years by some Aussies but then it was sold to some Asian born people.

They did initially try to run it as a business to make money. I recall the Chinese Mama chasing a school boy from one or your most exclusive schools down the street because he had snitched something. But the milk bar was looking tired and dingy. My Thai workmate explained to me, it is an immigration thing. They have some money to invest in a business and they invest without caring or understanding about the business. It is just a tool to stay here.

The faces seemed to change and I stopped patronising the business. On the odd occasion I did go in, a slovenly Chinese woman in a pilled tracksuit eventually appeared from out the back to serve me. Sorry to have bothered you. The deep fryer had not been used for years, the pie oven was long cold and the ice cream selection very poor. A few packets of crisps sat on a dirty chrome frame. I expect almost all stock was out of date.

I really did stop going there in the early 2000s. By then cheap overseas phone call stickers on the filthy exterior window had obscured the filthy state of the interior.

By about 2007 I never saw a customer enter the shop and around that time, it closed.

Then in 2008, activity started happening. Gone were the stickers on the windows, it was being cleaned inside and out and getting a minor renovation. I think they were a Maori couple who took it over, Islander at least.

Then it seemed to change hands again in 2009 with Australian born owners. More renovations and smartening up. Outdoor seating and tables added, music outside from speakers. It was now looking very inviting.

Slowly and slowly the numbers are building up again. Still no where near what they were but it is on its way back to being a successful business. I wish it well.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Highriser is unwell

I have a mancold. I think it is lethal. Women know nothing about sickness or pain because they never suffer from a mancold. Will one of you write a nice obituary for me please? I have no one to blame. Usually I can blame R as he catches one from his work and then gives it to me. Once even Little Jo gave me a cold. I so want to know which mongrel gave me a cold. It must be that Madden bloke, or the government.

I had to call work and tell them I was not fit for duty tomorrow. That just looks so bad on your last day of work before a week off. I care not. Fortunately a nice management person was at the end of the phone. He hoped I would be well soon. He gets extra points for pretending to care.

R has made a lasgne for tomorrow night when Sister, Bone Doctor and Little Jo will visit. They are moving tomorrow, never to shadow Murrumbeena again. They will rent their flat out because they find the two bedroom flat too small for their lives. If I was an unkind brother, I would suggest that they should not have filled it with so much crap. Bone Doctor has an appointment on the Bellarine Peninsula/Peninsular (I forget which) and so they will be there for a year, but in two different places. I would have thought being a Doctor's wife would be stable, but clearly not. Little Jo was born in Geelong, lived in Murrumbeena, Wangaratta, Bendigo, Murrumbeena again and now on an extremity of the Bellarine Peninsular and then another move mid year, all before she is three.

They will stay here one night a fortnight when Bone Doctor has some further doctor education to do and then stay one night at Mother's.

Late Step Father's family comes from down Geelong way and Mother was invited to her step daughter's fiftieth birthday. Many were prepared to make an effort to get her there, but she said no and commanded Sister to go to represent the family. Sister begrudgingly said yes and I told her she was silly for agreeing. Lucky Sister. There is a welcome dinner for Bone Doctor now, and so they have to attend and can't go to Step Father's daughter's birthday.

Now, R gets home tomorrow at 4pm. If you don't see another post from me before then, I am probably dead from mancold. Please alert authorities.

German Weight

I was walking along a laneway and there was a large box with German writing on it. I can't read German and so I don't know what was in the box, but the weight of the box and its contents grabbed my attention. It said 14,6 kgs. I missed the comma and thought it was a full stop. Can't be I thought, the box alone would be heavier than 14.6 kg. I looked closer and realised it was 14,6 kg. There was another lower weight too, gross and tare weights I suppose.

So it would be 146 kg. Why insert a comma? Is this a standard German practice?


I cannot expunge it from my past. I lived in Moe for year or so. Explains a lot hey. While your mental image of Moe is probably partly correct, Moe is not all bad. Some people were even quite proud of the town and there was much to be proud of. Council elections used to be hard fought between Tories and Labor. There were some posh shops and Mrs Slocombe types. There was an active historical society. It is rather sad that that a response to mentioning Moe now is rather than where is it, as it used to be, to now be 'oh'.

Its image certainly wasn't helped this week by a woman who managed to get her five year old lad drunk, .09, by feeding him shots of grappa. Yes, there are people like her in Moe, but don't judge the city just by the media portrayal.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

I Scream

Make that ice cream.

I heard about Maggie Beer's food products produced in her own kitchens, not factory mind you. It was suggested her ice cream was rather good.

It took some finding in the supermarket freezer, but we left clutching our Burnt Fig, Honeycomb and Caramel ice cream.

I am not a great one for ice cream, but it was beyewdiful. Do check the price before you sling it in your trolley though. Maybe I am out of touch with ice cream prices as we don't usually buy it, but it does not seem cheap at nearly $9 for 500 mls. Why a liquid measure and not a weight measure? It is not liquid when you buy it.

ABC Melbourne

It has been a long time coming, but finally ABC Melbourne and at least ABC Sydney, not sure about the rest of local stations, have a new homepage. Gone is the billious green and I could actually find what I wanted, unlike in the past where I would click on umpteen links before coming across what I wanted, often by chance.

Also included is an easy to use contact form.

Now the old site was not really very old but it was bad from the beginning. This time credit where it is due, well done this time ABC. Best I leave the site now before I find something wrong.


The last time I looked over the edge of railway bridge in South Yarra, I am sure there weren't concrete sleepers. I suppose the most rotted sleepers are the priority for replacement. I am not at all sure about having rotted sleepers holding our train tracks in place. Still, compared to the appearance of Melbourne's tram tracks, the train tracks look sound enough.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Frog on a Goat

The goat is cute as is the frog on its head and so it should be for an advertisement. But what is being advertised? I have since seen the same ad elsewhere and it advertises the Trading Post, but is this a freak poster or was something to be added later?


Terrible case in NSW a week or so ago when children watched their parents drown at a surf beach. There have been a huge number of drownings this and last year. Record numbers even. Drownings cause the highest rate of death for under five year olds.

I have almost drowned, twice. The first time I would have been about eight years old. I was at the Oakleigh swimming pool under the supervision of my grandparents, neither of who swam to my knowledge. I simply lost my balance and fell over backwards. I panicked and flailed my arms wildly while trying to regain my balance. I was going backwards and heading to the deep end of the pool where the water would be over my head. A man noticed me in trouble and stood me up, helped me out of the pool and took me to my grandparents. Seems so silly because I could swim.

The other time I was much older and in the surf at Woodside Beach in South Gippsland. Slowly I was being dragged out to sea and I was getting very tired fighting against the waves. I was starting to feel a bit panicky. Calm calm, I told myself. Remember, don't swim against the waves, swim with them and to the side. It was a decent walk back along the beach to where I had entered the water but by swimming nearly parallel to the beach, I came to some water that almost carried me in without much effort on my part. Just as well as I was exhausted.

If someone is a non swimmer, it is very dangerous to do anymore than just paddle in the water. In the past I would have said at surf beaches, but even our relatively calm Port Phillip Bay gets it share of victims. I am not sure if swimming is compulsory in our government schools as it used to be, but it damn well ought to be. There also needs to be plenty of warnings to overseas students who have never learnt to swim. Lastly, no matter how good your swimming skills are, you can still get caught out.

Monday, February 01, 2010

This week's flowers

More than one week's flowers really. The lilies were extraordinary. They cost $5 and lasted almost two weeks. I think the weather was hot and so the air con on for much of the time. R cuts the stamens out of them so they don't drop staining yellow pollen everywhere. Don't men live longer if their sex bits are chopped off?

These flowers are crammed into the (badly wrapped) vase I bought R for cmas. He only used it to show his approval. Later the flowers were better arranged in a wider neck vase and two weeks later, they are a looking sad but still tolerable.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Train or Car

I am at times given to wonder about the percentage of people who use our trains who feel they are forced to use them because of the traffic congestion they would endure if they used their car. I know one such person.

She is definitely a car person. We went somewhere on a tram with her a couple years ago and she said it was the first time she had used public transport in years. This surprised me given she lives in East St Kilda.

She started a new job at the eastern end of the city last year, without a staff car parking space, and so had to use the train to get to work and as her line does not use the City Loop, she had to change trains to get to Parliament . She likes the job but was looking forward to when the office was moved to Docklands as she would be able to use her car again to get to and from work and park at Docklands Stadium for a reasonable price.

It hasn't quite worked out that way. She has discovered that it is quicker and less stressful for her to drive and park at Balaclava Station, catch the train to Flinders Street and change to another train to get to So Cross Station and then walk to Docklands (short walk to her office).

Does she enjoy what she considers her forced use of trains? Nope, not one iota.

As for me, I am often forced to use my car when I would rather leave the driving to someone else and instead of participating in the competition for road space, stare out the window, read or contemplate.