Saturday, June 12, 2010

Random Bits

Is it wrong to wallow in nostalgia? It was TVAU wot done it. Queenie Ashton. Suppose she is dead. I am sure we were appropriately informed at the time. Fine actor. I don't think it was her, but who played Mrs (Grace?) Falconer in Matlock Police?

For a time in Australia when Bryan Brown was omnipresent in Australian movies and tv shows, so was Nigel Havers in British tv shows and movies. He has disappeared from our screens. Is he dead too?

John Mangos on Graham Kennedy's Coast to Coast. Kinda attractive at the time. He was quoted, “I idolised Graham. He was my boyhood hero and that’s why i left the States." Mangos was American?

Linda Cropper. Fantastic actor. What happened to her?

Where is the Australian website, 'Whatever happened to ...'

St Kilda Walk 1/3

Heritage Victoria has a podcast to download from their website. It is a guided walk along a few interesting St Kilda streets looking at buildings, mostly houses. The walk is not strenuous and takes about an hour. If you do take the walk, choose a nice day for a better experience. For photographers, a sunny winter afternoon is not a great time to take the walk and take snaps.

If you can't take the walk, download the podcast and take a look at my photos of the various buildings you see. The comments are mine, mostly based on what is in the podcast.

Stop 1. Summerland Mansions facing Fitzroy Street at the corner of Acland Street. Interesting to me, the kitchens in the apartments were tiny, as you weren't expected to really cook in them but join your fellow residents in the dining room where Street Cafe is now. Also, at 6 guineas per week, the rent sounds terribly expensive. The site was the first Crown land to be sold in St Kilda, to the skipper of the ship The Lady of St Kilda. The suburb was named after the ship.

Stop 2. Jackson and Acland Street. No. 8 Acland St, a Victorian house converted to flats. The Victorian house replaced an earlier single storey residence. Many of the flats that can be seen along Acland Street were built on the grounds of grand mansions.

Stop 3. Right into Victoria Street to flats at 14 to 20. On the opposite side of the street are three different housing styles side by side.

The Victorian home.

Interwar flats, modern style.

Post Modern, built 1989. It is worth having a look at this rather spectacular house alone.

4. Cross the street to look at 14 to 20. What appears to be interwar flats, is actually a Victorian house with a facade and bay windows added and converted to flats. The Victorian wall can be seen in the second photo.

5. Move along Victoria Street and cross Pollington Street. Three houses that were once the same, the last, number 8 see third photo down, being altered to look Edwardian from Victorian. The house is currently owned by architect Alex Njoo, a sometimes letter writer to newspapers. Note in fourth photo the later forties addition at the rear when it became a boarding house.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Dare I do it? The first time I changed my blog template, the one that is not archived at Pandora, I was warned that there could be dire consequences. Loss of format, loss of links, loss of everything. Pfft, into thin air.

From what I can see, this change will require a little re-arranging to return things to how I like them, but not too much. Gay men are always so stylish, and once one mentioned that my blog looked a little dull, I have been thinking about changing it....and procrastinating about it.

Deep breath, pinch nose and here we go. Geronimo!!!

Later edit: Err, I look unbalanced. Worry about it manana.

Oh Dear

Well, that is the end of Collectors for the foreseen. Poor R. He quite liked, or is that lusted after, the host and is now is now feeling sorry for himself.

I quote,

'Typical. I have always been so unlucky with men. Just once in my life you would think I could get it right.'

Don't worry about me. Water off a duck's back.

Flogging some mushies

When ABI Brother and I were kids, we ventured into capitalism on our parents farm. We put considerable effort into our venture. We bought brown paper bags from the local shop to pack our produce into. We painted up roadside advertising signs on Masonite sheets.

By mid morning, we had harvested the wild mushrooms from the paddocks and we were ready to sell. We had two plastic washing baskets full of produce to sell to passing motorists. We only had two customers for the day and we were so disappointed, but not for the reason you may be thinking.

Our first customer came along and bought a paper bag full of mushrooms. We were over the moon. The first old bitch, male or female, who is wondering how many shillings or pence we sold them for is owed a good slapping. I can't recall, but it might have been twenty five cents for a paper bag full. I may have been called cheap, but I have never charged cheap prices.

Our second customer came along.........and bought the lot. All our stock gone in one hit! We started to try to put all the mushrooms into paper bags when Father, who must have been hovering in the distance, appeared and suggested we just give the customer the washing baskets full of mushies.

We had planned to spend the day selling our mushrooms and it was all over in a flash before lunch. I suppose we had the money in our pockets but that was secondary. We had given Mother our lunch orders to be delivered to us, as we did not want to miss a sale with our absence. All our work for nothing except for the base dollar. I am sure this is the point where I started to become cynical about capitalism. It is just not very entertaining.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Street Walking

I was on my way to St Kilda by tram. The tram had few spare seats so I took a sideways seat next to a youngish man. Beside me were two young lasses. Oh dear, body odour. Who is the culprit? Not an overseas student to be seen and perhaps unfairly to blame. Help! It's not me is it? No, can't be. I was just out of the shower less than an hour ago. I put on a clean shirt. But I was full of self doubt. Could the shirt have been mixed up with dirty shirts and so it wasn't a clean shirt? No, I am a very experienced washerwoman. I haven't even done anything to raise a sweat.

The young man left the tram and the smell disappeared, much to my relief. The expedition was to take a podcast guided walk around St Kilda. I took the walk and plan on posting some photos of what I saw and snapped, but here are a few ancillary shots.

I was waiting at the tram stop when an old tram passed by. The only old trams we usually see in our street are the restaurant trams. Some are very nostalgic about them. I just find them slow and noisy.

The clock tower on The Esplanade. The clock broke a while back and when staff arrived to repair it, they refused to proceed as it was infested with rats, so exterminators had to be called first. This all took more than a year, I think. It was out of action for a long time.

Looking out to Port Phillip Bay from Alfred Square.

The podcast said that there would be Rainbow Lorikeets at this address, and sure enough, there was a mass of them. Most flew away when I approached with the camera. Pretty as they are, gosh they make a racket. I don't think hibiscus and oleander are their natural habitats.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Fixing the oil gusher

I am distressed about the oil gushing out of BP's US oil well, polluting the US coastline, polluting the deep sea and killing critters left, right and centre and destroying people's livelihoods. I was even more distressed when I read that the standard for oil wells is an auto shut off, but there wasn't one installed on this rig.

Never mind, the gusher can be sealed easily with the bodies of BP's executives and middle management by stuffing the creeps into the hole from whence the oil is gushing.

The potential for an oil extraction disaster is always there. What were the regulators doing? Unfettered capitalism at work.

Read this and see if you don't agree with me.

It you are feeling that you can't be bothered, maybe the full url will tempt you more. It is an outrage.

Propublica is bookmarked for future reference and think about it before filling your car with BP petrol.

My dinner with Obama

If I dream very often, I don't know as I mostly remember nothing, but this one I do.

I was with an unidentifiable female friend. She was nice looking, about thirty and we got on well. Another unidentifiable mutual friend had been invited to the White House for dinner with President Obama, but he/she had forgotten something important and asked if we could bring it over. Perhaps it was a Spirax bound book. Even while dreaming I realised the impracticality of such a request and the mutual friend had us teleported from my friend's place in Fitzroy to the White House with the forgotten whatever.

Someone asked Obama on our behalf if we could stay for dinner and naturally we accepted his agreement to the request, even though he was a bit offhand about it and just said 'of course' with a dismissive wave of his hand. But there was no room for us at the table. Instead we sat on a nearby overstuffed and lumpy casual couch and one of the kitchen staff (not one of the maids in black and white) brought us a meal of roast meat and vegetables.

Honestly, I have had better roasts at the local pub. The vegetables had been cooked to mush, with the meat not far behind. Heaps of gravy only added to the mushy texture, but who is going to complain about the food when you are dining with Barack.

Eventually he spoke directly to us and asked where were from. Oh, he said, I am not going there. They can't even spell my name. Dark men in dark glasses appeared and nodded to us to come with them. We were standing outside the White House looking at each other, thinking what a weird experience it had been and how we were looking forward to returning to Fitzroy.

Hmm, Michelle was absent. Anyway, Barack wasn't so nice to us in my dream, so I am no longer a fan. That'll learn 'im.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Always looking for a good ride

The problem with the public bike scheme in Melbourne is that the law states you must wear a helmet when cycling in Victoria. I approve. It has saved many lives and bad injuries. But!!!

'Un helmet, siv u plate monsure? Non, fermay lez bouche and bugger orf, mon chap.'

Apparently the first stock of bikes for the Parisian public bicycle scheme were nicked and ended up in South America. The went there by the container load. But from what I observed, the public bike scheme in Paris is cheap and popular. As you can see, my French is lacking but I could read enough at the time to pick up that the bike hire is very cheap.

Viva la Francais. (Sorry, I know the cumulocirculation thingy for Francais is buried somewhere in the keyboard, but I can't be bothered)

Monday, June 07, 2010

Now't to say

I was going to write about how terribly disadvantaged a friend is by the new train timetables that began today. But then when I checked, I don't seem to be able to defend him. He moaned on and on about it on Saturday when we last saw him. I thought before I lambasted the train company for their new timetables on his behalf, I ought to take a look myself. I did.

I know he travels on the Dandenong train line. I am old, and I know it as the Dandenong line with only a few trains going further on to the GMH railway station. Even when suburban trains were extended further out to service the area where Mother's lives, she preferred the country train and more than once got into trouble from the conductor for using it when she wasn't supposed to. Already back then she was honing her silly old lady persona. Of course she got it wrong once and ended up in Nar Nar Goon or Tynong North Upper or somewhere. She had to call Step Father to collect her.

Ok, friend lives on the Pakenham/Cranbourne line. I must not let modernity pass me by. He catches the train at around 8.00am to go to work and alights at Flagstaff Station. He has complained in the past about how his packed express train gets delayed by a stopping all stations train because his train is late and misses its slot to overtake the stopping all stations train. The express train he catches, if everything goes to plan, is as fast as journey as can be reasonably expected.

Before I had finished asking him if he had checked out the new timetable he interrupted with the disadvantage to him by the new timetable, giving me the impression that hardly any trains will stop at his station. I interrupted him with, there will be winners and losers. Looks like you will be the latter.

Well, oddly today, even after the new timetables have started, the old one was still up online and so made it an easy comparison. I thought his train options were to be cut back to Flinders Street and then a train change to get to Flagstaff. No, his train options still take him to Flagstaff. I see one disadvantage, his train options at the time he catches the train are reduced express trains, but it seems to only add two minutes to his journey. If the reliability is improved, then surely that is a fair trade off.

From what I understand, people on the Frankston line might be suffering a lot more with express trains only going to Flinders Street. I will guess that this will reduce the appeal of the express trains a make non express trains more attractive, thus evening out some uneven loadings.

Tube v. Loop

From Annie Mole's London Underground Blog. Read the full post here.

I found this part of the post, copied below, quite fascinating. I wonder if similar thought is given to such matters in Australia. I do recall experimentation at our city stations with placement of ticket barriers when Metcard was introduced. At times though crowd movement, especially at Flinders Street, looks very messy to me.

Iain Huston from passenger space modelling, followed with an insightful talk on how the London Underground use computerised models to help our journeys. Although you might not think it, Tfl do value our time. In fact they've even measured how various travellers value time. I imagined that Tube commuters thought their time was most valuable. But they only value their time at £8 an hour, whereas a taxi passenger values theirs at a massive £31 an hour.

Good levels of service are also measured by how much space a person has to themselves. Your journey is actually perceived as better or faster, if there is less congestion, even if in reality it takes longer to complete.

London Underground study people's movement through Tube stations and can work out how to slow things down if certain stations get overly congested. Placement of ticket gates can make a big difference to passenger flow. The images below show how the ticket hall layouts at Euston were improved to stop congestion.

We learnt that unreasonable behaviour is also taken into account. Tourists going the wrong way, people finding short cuts are all put into the models to work out the best flow. Some stations are lucky as they have more 'trained commuters'. The ticket gates at Bank at the Waterloo & City line are used by 'model commuters' who are amongst the fastest travellers on the system, have their Oyster cards ready in advance, know where the best exits are & walk quickly.

The green dots are passengers arriving at the station and the red, those who are leaving the station. Before and post alterations are in order. The pink dots are lost tourists, station staff, beggars, prostitutes and buskers. Ok, the last sentence is a very wild stab in the dark.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Just another rainy Sunday

Not too wet, but too wet to take Little Jo out to the park while we looked after her this afternoon while Sister went to the football. Her team won, so she is happy. I am not a football team hater and I don't begrudge her team a win but I did suggest she be careful not to do an Isadora Duncan with her scarf triumphantly out the car window while it was still around her neck. She is ten years younger than I am and not a gay male, so she just did not get that at all. If you fall into that category too and don't know, try googlieing Isadora Duncan scarf.

Sister and Little Jo arrived at 12, Mother and ABI brother at 2 and all had gone by 5.30. It only feels like people have been here for ten hours. We put on a fine bit of nosh for all and I have never seen Little Jo eat and drink so much. I fear there'll be an shocking explosion sometimes between now and tomorrow morning. Not my problem.

We did venture out in the morning. I am not much of one for McDonalds, but I have been twice in the last six weeks. Once to try an Angus burger, ho hum. This morning to try a breakfast roll, very nice. How shabby and dowdy the St Kilda Road McDonalds is looking. It is well due for an upgrade.

The main reason to go out was to buy a new cordless keyboard and mouse, our fourth set. I can't recall why the others were ditched. One was because it was white and our new computer was black, as was the monitor. Each new one is an improvement over the previous. The first couple we bought were shockingly troublesome with their connectivity to the computer or the transceiver. I am not usually one to throw a tantrum about computer related matters, as it fixes nothing. I leave the tantrums to R, who has someone else, me, to blame. But a tantrum I did throw over one of them. I just could not get it to work. I went back to the store and the clever person told me to go home, plug it back in, and it would work. Lo, it did. Like us, it just needed a bit of a lie down.

Oh yes, the old mouse starting double clicking when you single clicked, resulting in closing windows you wanted open, going back two pages instead of one and sending emails before they were ready to send. Sorry 'bout that Jayne. I altered the click speed, but it still played up.

The nice new Logitech was reduced at Harvey Norman from $129 to $58. Best thing, I got it home, plugged it in and it worked. No fiddling, plugging and unplugging and pressing connect buttons endlessly. The mouse is great to use. I am hitting quite a few wrong keys on the keyboard though, but the letters keys are ok, just some of the others must be a bit different. There is an extra button to press in conjunction with the F keys to give extra functions and four of them I can customise and a key to press for battery condition in the mouse. A battery symbol light comes on and shows the charge level in the batteries. But the brand new batteries that came with it are indicating half charge.

I normally use rechargeable batteries that need recharging about every three weeks. The promise is that normal batteries for this new unit will last eight months and the keyboard over twelve months. There is a button on the underside of the mouse to turn it off. We will see. I do like getting new toys to play with. Gee, after six. I am overdue for a large stiff one.

Last one standing

This is the last house in St Kilda to be still privately owned. Quite nice it is too in an understated manner. The owner tends the gardens personally and the house looks to be well maintained. I have had communication with the owner some time ago about outside advertising in St Kilda Road. It won't be a surprise to any of you that both he and I thought badly of the crude and cheap advertising.

Our friend Vik and I sat outdoors at a cafe in St Kilda Road having lunch one day and as she spent a good bit of her childhood as a St Kilda Road resident, I pressed her as to where the the Post Office was back then. Her memory of it was as hazy as mine. I had been there, but of the remaining old buildings in St Kilda Road, I could not work out which one it was. I remembered only the entrance.

I have looked carefully at every possible building trying to work out which one was the Post Office. I am fairly sure the last privately owned house in St Kilda Road was the Post Office. Correct me if you can.