Saturday, July 31, 2010


My day off had started very foggy. It remained so all day. Eventually I went out and regretted doing so. It was cold and drizzling and the fog remained. I had suggested to R that we go out for dinner that night, but by the time arrived home, I was over the miserable weather and we agreed to stay in.

Can't even see the Bay.

Someone had attached these butterflies to the Melbourne Cemetery fence. Cute. I have noticed since then that they are slowly disappearing. Two in the afternoon and still foggy. Bah. Later edit: They are all gone now.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Doc Martin

The impossibly beautiful Cornish village of Port Isaac where the tv series Doc Martin is set. The show is worth watching just for the scenic shots of the village. I didn't realise a new series of Doc Martin had begun and so we have only seen the last two episodes. On tonight, ABC 1.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


With the clever title, Yes We Canberra, the Chaser lads have done what I didn't think they could, that is present themselves as new and fresh. The idea to connect it as a lead in to Lateline was inspired and the whole show was hoot. Apparently the show rated its socks off. It will certainly have not done Deputy Leader of the Opposition Julie Bishop's career any harm. Very funny.

Well done lads and well done ABC.

So so reliable Reliant

When we were in England, we saw a couple of these cars running around. They are called Reliant Robin. They superseded an earlier Reliant model. As a three wheeler, they are registered as motor bikes. I would not care what the saving was, hell would freeze over before I drove one. I think this clip is from the tv program Top Gear.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Puzzling Electronics

Remember last week when I was complaining about the lounge room pvr not showing the new ABC News 24 in spite of me rescanning many times? Problem solved in a very weird manner and no end of botheration.

I thought I was doing the right thing. I rescanned R's bedroom pvr for stations and his machine brought up ABC News 24 on channel 24. I clicked away and checked the other stations and there was a problem. Some weren't showing or showed briefly and then went off or some would show strongly at one point then a few minutes later would not show at all. Very odd.

To get the tv wire to R's bedroom originally, I put a splitter inside the wall and ran the wire through the lounge room wall into a plug in the spare bedroom, then ran an exposed wire along the wall to the other side of the room and into another plug, through the wall into R's bedroom and into another plug with again the exposed wire along the wall to the far side of the room and into R's tv.

But the plugs were vulnerable to being knocked and I knew a couple were a bit bent and I had bent them further to make the plugs sit in the sockets securely. One even had the centre co-axial pin receiver broken. I expect the poor reception on R's tv was related to poor contact in a socket. I decided to replace them all and bought new ones the next day. I installed the new ones and although they are almost identical to the old ones, the plugs fit much tighter in the sockets.

Did that fix the problem? No. I rescanned the tv once again and still nothing.

I tried the aerial plug directly into the tv, which I should have done earlier, and the tv worked fine. So the fault is with the pvr. R, is there anything you have saved that is a must see? I will do a reset and what you have saved may be lost. The programs weren't lost actually, only settings and pre programmed recordings. AND the problem was fixed. I always forget these pvr machines are computers.

I wondered if it would make the lounge room pvr show channel 24 if I did a reset. Yes it did. It was only about three hours of my life wasted.

Lovely new tight aerial plug. The other plug is for internet or pay tv. It was part of a deal when we connected and the man said we may as well have it. Never used.

This bothersome machine is R's PVR. The one below is the dvd recorder I bought off Ebay. Once I transferred all vids to dvd, it sits unused. Good machine though. Oh yeah, Little Jo watches dvds on it occasionally.

Look, ABC News 24 on the lounge room PVR showing 24. How hard was that. The old VCR sits below. It is connected but never used anymore. The el cheapo dvd player sits below that, used occasionally when Little Jo visits.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Man does not live on bread alone

It's all Mutant's fault. I have been wasting time on You Tube watching Scissor Sister clips. I hope he was at Festival Hall last night when Kylie joined them on stage. You don't have to go to his blog to see the clip of a previous time when she joined them at Glastonbury. Here it is.

Japanese Air Con

If I was asked what I did not like about Japan, there is only one thing that comes to my mind. Absolutely everywhere is air conditioned in Japan, except it isn't. Well, not to a comfortable level of coolness. The trains were especially bad, but buses were not too crash hot either. The air con was on, but the thermostats set to a very high temperature. Every so often you would get a deliciously cold breeze from the air con, and then it would cut out.

Those of you who are concerned about the environment may well think this is a good thing. I would argue that what is the point of having air conditioning if it does not make you comfortable? I would rather go without and open a window.

In our hotel in Tokyo we had two air con units. We turned them down to a considerably lower level than they were set on and we were comfortable. Not so in Hirosaki. The control unit could not be set lower than 18 and it was just a bit too warm. It was ok if it was on for a good while, but always staff would turn it off when the cleaned the room and so it was never an instant cool relief after coming in from the heat and humidity.

Curiously as we toured the Japanese countryside, even the most modest house had an aircon unit but many of the compressors were wrapped up in plastic, presumably to protect them from snow. But it is summer, hot and humid. Why were the air con units still all wrapped up?

Our hotel in Hirosaki had some kind of supplementary heating for winter and many places seemed to as well. I understand kerosene is a popular heating fuel. So the air con is not so much used for heating. Well, the exterior compressor part would disappear under snow perhaps. Actually, that is why they all elevated off the ground. Just got that.

With a clue from V and some research, the lack of cooling in Japan can be dated back to 2005 and the Cool Biz campaign for summer followed by a Warm Biz campaign in winter. From what I can see, thermostats are set to absurd levels, such as 28 deg in summer. This piece titled 'Cool Biz' Leaves Japan's Workers Sweltering, May Hurt the Economy is from

Monday, July 26, 2010

That's a bad Germany

In the nineties when we were renovating our house in Glen Iris and Tradie Brother was doing the work, I used to deliberately annoy him by putting dance music, you know techno, house, all that stuff, playing on the radio. I think it was broadcast by ABC JJJ.

Anyway, of course Tradie Brother detested dance music and wanted to listen to his own Tradie Radio Station. I don't know what the Tradie Radio Station is, but they all seem to like the same one and like it loud. What a vile racket, punctuated by blaring ads.

I still like dance music which seems pretty silly for someone my age. I can put headphones and be transported to another place by the music, something no other music does for me, well classical a bit. Back into about 1997 I heard about Berlin's Love Parade mega dance party. I imagine everyone takes Ecstasy, love each other to bits and have a fine old dance. It has a strong gay following of course and one year I looked at it quite some depth. In the late nineties it was attracting crowds of one million people. Extraordinary. Because of the numbers, it had to be moved from Berlin to an industrial area.

So, from one very big love in dance music festival, this year it has turned into a tragedy. C'mon Germany. This is very bad. What were authorities doing that they allowed such dangerous crowd control procedures? You are not a third world country. You have the resources and talent to manage such situations. Very poor and very sad for the friends and families of those killed, including one Australian.

Open House

Yesterday, well Saturday as well, was Melbourne's Open House Day. This is the first year I have been free to look at some buildings in the city and close by where you get to see parts of buildings that aren't normally accessible to the general public. I knew some buildings I would love to see were very popular and long queues form. I selected a few buildings to look at and left some options should some be too popular.

We caught the West Coburg tram to the top of the city and walked a new public housing building, Elizabeth Street Common Ground. CG is funded by Federal, State and Local Governments, developer GroCon and comprises studio flats and family flats. The studios are for the chronically homeless, etc etc etc. They were absolutely great. Rental for Centrelink benefit recipients will pay about $150 pw, working poor, $190. This includes all services. It meant to be long term accommodation, not short term emergency.

We saw three different studios. They were nicely decorated with all the basic features including hydronic heating and ceiling mounted cooling fans. The building has a central ventilation core and fresh air flows into each flat. All had balconies of varying standards, some with great city views.

My left side thinks it is a wonderful project that will benefit the less fortunate in our community for many years to come.

My right side thinks, I have worked hard all my life to get what I have and they get handed it on a platter.

City of Yarra has a strong involvement in the project and our two genial guides for our group of ten were Yarra employees. The building is far from finished and I wonder if the opening date in August will be met. Regardless, the project is ahead of schedule and under budget. Although the lifts were working, they did not have proper controls and so each required a driver with an intercom.

On the way there I snapped these two houses. The first just looks overwhelmed by the modern buildings surrounding it. The second looks very old, pre Victorian.

One of the views from Common Ground, followed by one of the children's play area on the roof. The building has an extensive roof top garden and other resident public areas.

Our next stop was to be the marvellous Gothic ANZ bank in Collins Street. I have been to the currency exchange in the building a couple of times of late. I just gaze at the interior in wonderment. For obvious reasons, we gave it a miss.

This one should be less popular surely. It was busy enough, but no queue. It is the Jamie Durie designed staff rooftop garden for Origin utility company employees in Flinders Lane near Elizabeth Street. It's a great staff facility.

Next was to be Council House 2, a purpose built environment friendly office building, but mile long queues there too. We took a break for lunch at the French Deli in Bourke Street. Delicious baguettes but very slow service.

Dare we try for another building? This one sounded interesting. Donkey Wheel House in Bourke Street at the corner of Spencer Street. It was the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board head office. It was recently bought by this organisation, but for fifteen years after it ceased to be the MMTB head office, it was a private dwelling and fitted out as such. Most of the living area was in the basement. We climbed three levels of stairs, bearing in mind very high ceilings and wished we caught the lift. The building's owners are the Donkey Wheel organisation, a charitable trust I believe.

This was the children's play area. The builders are moving in today to begin restoration. Behind me were a few smaller rooms and as fire proof concrete bunker for important tramway records. I have a feeling this was a ballroom.

A room leading off the last one. This room was where much of Melbourne's tramway system was designed.

The architects stayed warm, well maybe not give the area this was supposed to heat.

Nice view of Spencer Street Southern Cross Station.

The basement was a rabbit warren and spooky.

Going down. We decided to catch the lift down to the ground floor and pushed the call button but nothing was happening. No movement of the pulleys and cables above the lift. We waited. An old gentleman joined us and we all waited. Then a younger woman joined us and we all waited. The woman was clever. She said, the lift is not here is it? She slid the two doors open and there it was waiting for us. It took us down with an abrupt stop at ground level.

The building has a very nice scale to it.

So, three out of fifty nine open buildings. We didn't see a lot for the day, but what we did see was interesting. One place I would love to see is the underground substation in Russell Place. But on Saturday at least, people started queuing at 7am for a 10am opening. You can't complain too much when things are free and people have volunteered for the day, but I would really like to see a booking system for the more popular tours.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


My distant relative in New Zealand took on a motor car. I suppose we conclude that she lost, as she unfortunately has a broken arm. I am sure we wish Kiwi Nomad a quick recovery. Take a look at her ever so bright plaster in her latest post. It is a hazy memory, but I tripped over our dog when I was three and ended up in plaster. 'Take it off Pop', I implored my grandfather. He would have walked to the end of the earth for his grandchildren, but he could not take the plaster off my leg.

I was reminded of Pop tonight. 'Pop, can't we watch something else? Politics/news is boring!'

While I rarely write directly about politics, so many do and do it far better than I could, I have been devouring the election news in The Age hardcopy. I couldn't be bothered reading it all online, but it is so much more digestible when you can hold and fold. Clearly I have moved on from finding politics and news boring.

I had no intention of watching tonight's broadcast so called debate between our Prime Minister and the leader of the Her Maj's Opposition, but R made me. We chose the Channel 7 version to watch. It had an interesting meter propelled by views of the audience. It showed three lines of opinion on the debate as it progressed, boys blue, girls red and white the average. It was the most interesting thing about the debate, the remarkable being that women really like Prime Minister Julia Gillard and men really like Opposition leader Anthony Abbott.

Should that be surprising? I find it somewhat so.

Woman can be very critical of other women, far more so than men are of each other. From what Anthony Abbott sprouts from his mouth, I am not surprised that women have good reason to not like him, yet I thought his public display of his body, his fitness, his knockabout blokey manner, his commitment to family (Julia only has a toyboy and is barren!) and his somewhat self deprecating manner would endear him to women. Seems not.

I have for a long time thought the world might be a better place if it was run by women. Unfortunately most past examples have been bad choices.

So, if women like Julia for PM, I'll go with them. I hope once she is really in charge, that we will see some magical advances in Australia. Hey, Julia, what about a really fast train from Melbourne to Sydney, and even a faster one to get back again?