Saturday, February 13, 2010

Prahran Rotunda

All parks have a name, so I suppose this one does too but I don't know what it is. It is in the linear park between Commercial Road and Greville Street in Prahran. We were in the park after breakfast with Sister and the Bone Doctor, so it was fairly early. While the day turned out to be hottish, the morning was cool, the air crisp and clean, we were well fed and watered and Little Jo was happily playing on playground equipment nearby. Just one of those really nice moments and of course you know there is nothing I like better in life than a good rotunda.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Cincinnati by Tram

I have shown you the Leas Lift in England. We have seen the Balmain tram with a counterweight to brake and assist it up the steep hill from Balmain wharf. We have seen how the NSW train used to zig zag to get up the steep Blue Mountains. I think I have a theme happening here, that is getting metal wheeled public transport vehicles up and down steep hills. I have another of these to show you yet.

These are old photos from Cincinnati, Ohio. (Hi Daisy) Cincinnati sounds interesting, with a lot of 19th century Italianate buildings still adorning the streets. There were five of these inclinators, the first opened in 1878 and the last closed in 1948. What a shame one could not have been kept, just for fun.

Shorpy historical photos from the Detroit Publishing Company. Location: Bellevue. You can see the huge original photo here. It is a ripper.

Wagner and Wright. Location: Fairview. This photo shows how the inclinator brings the tram down to be level with the tracks on the road.
Detroit Publishing Company from Northern Kentucky University Historical Atlas of Cincinnati. Location: Mount Adams

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Premier Turnbull

This man for Premier of New South Wales? As a rusted on Labor voter who has been doused with 'green' Penetrol, I could never vote Liberal. But if I lived in NSW I may well consider voting for Malcolm Turnedball, should he seek a state seat and run for Premier. I think he would win handsdown and to be in charge of our largest and richest state surely is as important as being a Federal backbencher.

He is a rare politician in that he uses public transport, or used to. He was a regular bus user in eastern Sydney and I recall when he had an appointment in one of Melbourne's far south eastern suburbs, he caught the Pakenham train. Regardless, NSW politics, bureaucracy and government owned authorities needs a good stiff broom to tear through the terrible build up of cow dung.

Btw, if you think a tram light rail extension to Dulwich Hill would be good, or more importantly in my area of personal interest, a tram from Central to Circular Quay, then take a vote at

Not fun

I got the short end of the straw. Sister delivered Mother to the Eye and Ear Hospital for a check up and I took Mother home. Sounds ok, but what happened in Melbourne at 4pm when we sitting in Hoddle Street? Hoddle Street turned into a river because of a storm.

One and half hours to get her home only took about half an hour longer than it should and one hour and five minutes for me to get home was about twenty minutes longer than it should. I think I did not do so badly. It could have been worse.

Not hot in the bedroom

The new fans in our bedrooms work well. We have left the air con off overnight and it is plenty cool enough for sleeping. It helps that the apartment is already cool when we switch off the air con and go to bed.

It took one sparky and his apprentice about two hours to install all three. I made sure I grabbed the three old incandescent light bulbs from the removed fittings. While it saves us throwing them out, but oddly the sparky took took one old oyster complete light fitting away and one shade but left us with one complete one.

I knew I would not like the light given out by the new fan/light and I don't. It is a circular fluorescent tube and gives out a very cold light. I rarely use the overhead light, so it does not matter too much. I am not paying for a warmer fluoro tube until the present needs replacing and since it is seldom used, that could be a long time.

There was some unpainted ceiling where the old lights were removed and a couple of screw holes, so I had to patch and paint. I did it straight away as it is easier while the beds were not below the fans. Never know the difference now.

Tradies being what they are, I had some fingermarks to clean off the ceiling and off the initially installed fan blades. They were more careful with the subsequent ones. In these days of plastic everything, the fan blades are painted timber. Not sure why but I like the idea.

Glam Pollies

While both countries speak English, sometimes the differences are remarkable. Take your female popular/populist (ex) politicians from both sides of the Atlantic. Which of them would you trust? Could anyone woman in the US get elected if they presented like UK female politicians? Could anyone in the UK get elected if they looked like US politicians (possibly). Are there any who look like they could be trusted? Do I have an agenda here? Of course, I always do. All are supposedly from the left, but some are more left than others. Clare Short dissing ex Tory Labour PM Tony Blair scores well with me. You take a look at the photos of the similar aged female politicians from across the dividing sea. What do you think?

Not just women, but men too, I like them to look their age. I want to see in their faces, the hurt, the grim climb, the survival, the laughs, the good times, the time they fell over drunk/drug f***ed. I want to see their life written on their faces. Googlie was not helpful so maybe one of my US readers can point me to a US female politician who has life's experiences written on her face. A glam UK female pollie would interesting too. You know, unless they have had even more work, their bodies will be sagged regardless. When blokes are horny, they care nowt about a sagging pudenda, a fat gut or nipples sitting on stomachs.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Update: Bikes and tow bars

Remember back here where I queried the installation of Give Way signs for cyclists on the new Fitzroy Street, St Kilda bike path? It seems someone was reading or there have been complaints as they have been removed and new 'Road Ahead' signs erected.

Then there was the tow bar discussion a week or so ago. I came across this tow bar on a car in Prahran last week. It has rubber around the protrusion and will protect peoples legs somewhat. Better than nothing but still dangerous.

Speaking of roads, are these the last set of traffic lights in Melbourne with the old yellow lamp covers and backboards? Location siv you play?


It was a peaceful start to Australia Day. I was up about 7 and R slumbered on. I was sitting right here at the computer and there was a massive explosion. Oh no, not the muslim terrorists bombing the synagogue! Really, it was more like a gun shot, but by golly it was loud.

I shot to the balcony and I could not see any evidence of le bomb. As I was looking down, there was another loud explosion and lack of movement by cars when the traffic lights changed. I then noticed that there was a queue of old cars waiting at the traffic lights. The driver of the front car alighted from his conveyance and lifted the side flap bonnet.

He eventually got his motor going and managed to get around the corner, but not without another explosion.

On Australia Day there is always a large exhibition of old cars in the Kings Domain. We went one year and I loved looking at all the old cars. It was fun enough just watching them coming along St Kilda Road.

As per the photo, the next group were Yank Tanks, so beautifully and stylishly slick.

This was the morning that R had been up at 4am to take Teen Niece to Big Day Out. Sis in Law was coming but I let him sleep for as long as possible. When I woke him from a sound sleep, five minutes after the last explosion, I asked had he not heard the backfire of the old cars. Kind of, he replied. Oh that I could sleep the sleep of the innocent.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Vacuum Cleaner

Australia day was the end of Mother's vacuum cleaner problems. If I ever hear the word vacuum cleaner again from Mother, it will be her end.

We took her out for lunch to the Pakenham Hotel. I can recommend it. The food was nice, average hotel bistro prices and good service along with a nice open aspect to the dining room. It is quite an old hotel and originally it faced the railway station with its side to the main street and its back to what are now shops. It has been reoriented to the main street, but you can clearly see its original face. I suspect the railway station was moved from the western side of Main Street to the eastern side.

Let me go back to over one year ago, nay, longer than that, back to the time Step Father first became ill before he died. Step Father used to do the vacuuming. Now he no longer could, Mother struggled on with her large heavy upright. Sometimes ABI Brother did it, or anyone of us if we were around.

Once Step Father was dead, Sister offered to buy Mother a new upright vacuum cleaner. Mother had a specific one in mind that was supposed to be easy to use. Sister bought a different one. Sister should have known better. Mother complained bitterly that it was too heavy.

Mother's friend bought her a smaller and light rechargeable upright model. I though it was very good, but Mother could never get the hang of putting the dust container back on the unit. How many times I told her, hang it on the hook and the top and then press it in at the bottom until it clicks.

Along the way, when we sold our Hotham Street flat, the tenant left behind a barrel vacuum cleaner which we gave to ABI brother to vacuum his car, but somehow it ended up at Mother's.

The count is now her original, the one Sister bought, the one her friend bought and the barrel model. Add to that two very old floor polishers, that might actually be worth something, and you will no longer wonder why her house seems crowded.

She was using the cordless one but the report on Australia Day was that she had kicked it as she could not get the dust holder back into position. It took me some figuring out to get it right. She had taken a slide in filter out and put it back in the wrong way. Because it was wrong, it was bent and I had a lot of trouble working out why it would not fit. Eventually I did, but she wanted to go and look at a new vacuum cleaner.

After our lunch, we took her to the local Godfreys vacuum cleaner shop. I thought I would let her do the talking and she did and the salesman was showing her an American made commercial model. I knew what was coming, but I did give it a tryout and it was light and good to use. At some point I thought things had gone on long enough and I asked how much. $800. Mother reeled. She explained to salesman that she was thinking of spending much less.

She asked to see the model that she wanted Sister to buy. He produced and it was a heavy machine too.

We then found a cord model that seemed to be light, and was around the right price. She won't be able to empty it and even we struggled a bit. That is fine. She can leave it alone and we will do it when we are around. The salesman knocked $20 off the price, bringing it down to $160 and threw in a new filter for the bent one from her cordless. Deal done, I said. I expected her to pay, but R whipped out his card and paid. He said it was not necessary, but I gave him half.

I am used to Mother. R gets so exasperated with her and I was sternly lectured on the way home about her foolishness nonsense. Brother took the barrel vacuum cleaner back to his place and so the balance is the same. Four vacuum cleaners and two floor polishers.

Now if she just once mentions a problem with the new one, I will call the council and insist she gets home help.

Btw, I took the cleaner that Sister bought home to give it a try with the intention that if I liked it, I would pay Sister for it. I hated it. Our Volta barrel is about thirty years old and apart from having to buy a new head (or is it called a foot?) from South Melbourne market, it works fine and has never given trouble.

Later Edit: A letter arrived from Mother today along with a thank you card for R. She loves the vacuum cleaner.

Channel 0

Channel O is moving to channel 10? When? Oh, it has already. Yes, I remember now. I also remember before there was Channel 10 and before there was a Channel 0.

I had an underprivileged childhood. We had no television, but my grandparents did. Cold roast meat and salad before watching Rawhide at my grandparents was a Sunday night ritual. Move 'em up. Get 'em out. Sorry, the theme music just came back to me.

Pop, why won't your television get channel 0? Don't know. Can't you get it fixed Pop? By our next visit, a technician had been called and the set would now pick up channel 0. By this time, the fifties model Astor was getting on a bit. The tech did something to the set and something to the aerial and we were happy kids.

I suspect it was a bit of a rip off. Surely all that was needed was tuning in the new channel and maybe a slight alteration of aerial direction? I recall it cost quite a few pounds.

My grandparents died in the late 1970s and so the process did not have to be repeated when Channel 0 moved to Channel 10. It was still the same television set but by then we had our own vastly superior AWA Deep Image set.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Machines Breaking Down

Firstly it was the clothes dryer. The belt at the back had come off once before and after putting it back on, I knew it would come off again. I would continue to just put it back if it didn't mean getting the dryer off the wall brackets, well getting it back on is the hard part. Sure enough, it came off again so we bought a new belt and fitted it. Amazingly, the old one had stretched out to be about 50mm, 2", longer than the new one.

Then it was the dishwasher. The dial had become stiff and gritty. I turned the dial, panel lights flashed and all went dark. What it needed was some good hard rotations which cleaned something up and it is now ok.

Next up is the tv. Switch on, click, click, click and so on for up to five minutes before the screen would light up. Don't worry about the receipt to check when it was bought. Just look back at your blog. I did still have the receipt and the tv is four months out of warranty. Marvellous. Like doctors, companies must hate the internet in some ways. I entered Samsung tv clicking noise and not starting into the googlie and sure enough, many results. It is a common problem. It is a problem with the power supply. I think I have this right. Some of the capacitors are poor quality and they swell and leak and fail. The problem we have will only get worse until the tv will no longer come on. If you are a dab hand with a soldering iron, you can buy new capacitors and just solder them in after removing the old ones with a cost of only a few dollars. I have never soldered and I doubt my hands are steady enough to do so now. I will guess that most tv repairers will just replace the power supply board. I even found on line pictures of how to fix the board and a Youtube video tutorial.

I had a tv repairman recommendation from someone but I have decided to use Samsung themselves to repair it. Call out charge of $88 for a quote and then plus whatever has to be done, normally repaired on the spot. Why I am going to use Samsung is that I am going to follow this up with them. The tv is not long out of warranty and from what I found on the net, that this problem not occurring would be less common that the fault developing. Clearly it is a known fault/problem.

Samsung tv clicking and not starting.

Swoosh, swoosh

Although I have searched high and low in Melbourne, I have not be able to find a punkah wallah for a casual position. Damn middle class foreign Indian students think it is below them. It would seem working in a 711 or taxi driving is far superior to lying on your back and lazily moving your toe for a few hours a day.

Now don't get me wrong, the highrise is deliciously cool with the air con on. Although the unit is in the living area, it cools the bedrooms quite adequately, extra well when we turn it down to freezing. But it is somewhat extravagant. It costs and never you mind the environment and our carbon footprint. I don't.

R has occasionally brought up the subject of ceiling fans. I am not again them. I can't say I like their appearance too much but I am possibly working on memory of seventies rattan blades, vibration and wobbling bases.

R found that Beacon Lighting had some on special. We were given lots of advice and steered towards the more expensive models, no surprise there. I was almost thinking I could install them myself, just remove the existing light and put the fan unit up. They have a built in light and a remote control but the wiring of the remote receiver was too complex for me and so an electrician has been called.

Everyone I have spoken to loves having a ceiling fan in their bedroom, so I hope we do too and can reduce the use of air conditioning.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Pride March Day

I had a win for once. Sister changed her mind a couple of days ago and decided they would march in Pride March again this year. The march started earlier this year, 2pm and so she and the Bone Doctor asked if we would like to have lunch first. We had already said we would catch up with two dyke friends so I asked if they would join us for lunch. They agreed and I booked at 12 noon a table for six at Metropol where Dreaded Nephew used to work, the old St Kilda railway station. Metropol called back an hour later and said they did not open until 1pm. This did not give enough time to eat and attend or participate in the march. I cancelled and decided we would try Monroes, somewhat of an institution in Fitzroy Street. It has been there for more than twenty five years at least.

R and I went down to Fitzroy Street early and got a great table for eight on the footpath. The dyke friends came, Sister and Bone Doctor and Little Jo, the ex NT politician. Later two other dyke friends turned up, then a couple of friends of ex NT politician, the late Dame M's Boarder hairdresser friend. We had a fine old time.

The food was great, the service good and Monroes jugs of Pride Punch, kind of like sangria, kept flowing. Our Irish waitress was fantastic. One of the seats was a bench along the footpath which was good to stand on to watch the parade.

A few people drifted off to the Catani Gardens once the march finished but oddly the entertainments etc did not start until four or later. A mistake I think. A couple drifted back, but we were getting a bit 'weary' and although the trams had not started running in Fitzroy Street yet, we walked to St Kilda Junction and caught a tram home from there.

Little Jo was a Tyke on a Trike in the Rainbow Families marching group.

Some attractive young lasses stopped at the table next along from us to pose for a photo.

After closer chest examination, I have decided it is Spiderwoman who dominates in this photo.

Fire Anniversary

What can we say? Such a terrible event exactly twelve months ago. I am starting to write this post in early January. I just know the media will be full of stories on the 7th of February, and the next day it all will be gone.

It Ain't Always So contacted me a good while ago asking if I knew the two gay guys who owned Fruit Salad Farm. I did not. I suppose they were of a similar age to myself and maybe our paths had crossed some time in the past. Who knows? I do know two gay guys who have a similar business in a similar area, so it is not implausible that I may have known the owners of Fruit Salad Farm.

If I wasn't such a lazy and non ambitious type, it could well have been myself and R who owned Fruit Salad Farm. I would not have been as brave as those two guys were. I would have lived and made sure R did too. Well, maybe.

I am focusing on the these two guys because they were gay and so am I. It is a tenuous connection, I know, but call it therapy on my part.

I am not long into research for this post and already I am feeling teary. What goes on the internet, stays on the internet.

The old Marysville property Hazelwood became fruit salad farm and the business was set up before WWII. It was a thriving business, selling fruit salad and cream, soft drinks, juice and cakes.

Fuck it. I can't do this.

Geoff Grady and Patrick Jennings

Much later edit. That was rather upsetting. I was reading online tributes in the newspapers to the two guys. I know if I start researching again, the same will happen. Needless to say, the two lads died in the fires after being very brave and warning other residents. I will just leave it all here and publish it on the day. Apologies for it being incomplete.

It Ain't Always So knew the two lads and you can read her immediate aftermath reference to them here in her personal and moving account of her experiences in Marysville.

Much much later edit: I was talking to a friend last night (Sat Jan 30) and we were talking about next Sunday and that it would be the anniversary of the fires and I mentioned about the two guys and she burst into tears. She had been to Fruit Salad Farm in the nineties and had a great old time with the guys. She did not know they had been killed in the fires.