Saturday, August 21, 2010

Stroll to the poll Pt 2

Arrg. No The Bill tonight. Damn you politicians. As I said, no sausage sizzle, but then Tony missed out too.

Never mind, we were right next door to Observatory and I knew they had food. It was very nice food and very friendly and efficient staff. And so it should be at $24.50 for one serve of chicken and mayo sandwiches, one serve of chips and two cups of coffee. I would have enjoyed a $2.50 snag with onions and sauce and a cup of Pablo Caterers Blend instant coffee as much.

The forecourt of the Observatory Cafe.

I think once you reach a certain age, it may be the time to loose your dreads. I would suggest that when they are grey, you have reached that point. Still, it made what might probably be a nondescript person him interesting.

Dunno what this building is.

I did not actually establish where precisely the Observatory is.

It looked like a lot of weeds with cape weed dominating, but I suspect it is a green manure crop and the bed will be ready for spring planting of annuals. The edging lavender is ready to burst forth for spring.

We passed the side of the Shrine as started to walk down the hill. The Great War indeed. Not so great for some, in fact many many.

The top of the highrise can be seen to your left of the buildings.

The Sir Macpherson Robertson Fountain. How I love it. It was switched off and barricaded during the worst of the water restrictions hysteria, and subsequently switched back on for four hours a day. Its operating hours have now been extended.

As I am about to click publish, R is watching Heartbeat on 72 with a small picture of ABC's election coverage in the bottom of the screen. He switches over the election coverage when the ads come on and switches back when they end. Well he was, but increasingly he is watching the election coverage even while Heartbeat is on. At 7.30 I was very worried. At 8.30, I am not quite so concerned. I will write the post I planned for the morning at another time.......I think.

Stroll to the poll Pt 1

Federal election, one place, state, another, local council another. But then they change locations each time. Oh to be as civilised as Victor who only has to walk next door for them all. I had earlier asked Sister if she knew where to vote and she said she didn't but it would be the local primary school.

After a particularly long wait to vote one year at St Kilda Primary School which nearly made me late for work, I try to hunt out quieter booths to vote at. Once we voted at the Alfred Hospital and there was no queue at all. I was going to be working this Saturday, which would have meant a vote in advance, but as of last week, things had changed and I was not working today. I looked at a list of voting booths for our electorate of Melbourne Ports. I add that I dislike the idea of having to drive and park at a polling booth. It should be walking distance and it should have a sausage sizzle.

Well, this one sounds like it might be quiet and it was. We walked to the National Herbarium on the edge of the Royal Botanic Gardens, walked straight in, voted and walked straight out. In the past I have taken whatever the party reps shove at me before entering. This time, I did not, only taking the Greens and gave the chap a wink. They were all so stereotypical. The well dressed Liberal woman in an expensive black coat, the more down to earth dressed Labor woman and the alternative looking young man handing out for the Greens. I said nothing as the Liberal Party rep tried to shove her suggestions at me. Interestingly, for the Reps vote, the Greens suggested preferencing the Secular Party of Australia ahead of any other party. I chose my own, their 3rd choice Australian Sex Party. The flyer put Labor fourth. I voted about the line for the Senate on the absurdly large ballot paper. I understand that Labor is the automatic second preference.

I didn't expect there would be a sausage sizzle, and there wasn't.

Last night R and I were discussing the election campaigns and he opined that this has been the worst campaign since 1975 after God Gough was dismissed from office. We struggled to remember the name of the Governor General of the time, the turn coat drunk. It came to me eventually in the manner of Kerr's Cur, Sir John Kerr.

Come with me as we stroll to the National Herbarium. It was closer than I thought.

Although we often walk along this street, it it usually the other direction and on the other side. Buildings are often best viewed from a bit of a distance. I hadn't noticed how nice this terrace was before.

Bit blurry, but this church is so quaint. It is normally open during the day and I am tempted to slip in for a look, but the possibility of causing great thunder and lightening stops me. It is a catholic church, St Thomas Aquinas.

Next door is a block of flats, a quite nice block given its age.

Is this a bit of boy on boy action on the wall of a building at Melbourne Grammar.

Just nice.

A bit more modest. Still, do you have spare $million or so?

Here we are the National Herbarium.

Cheered out of despair

While I despair at the state of our country and the world generally and about our appallingly conducted lead up to our Federal election, I am kept buoyed by some really good things that happen in the world.

Does Spain have provinces or states or just regions? No matter, Catalonia in Spain has banned the barbaric spectator sport of bullfighting. From little acorns grow.

Better still, before this bull was killed (why?), he wreaked some havoc on spectators. Apart from the children who were being indoctrinated into cruelty to animals, I am pleased to hear some adults were hurt. That'll learn 'em.

While we now have increasing numbers of whales and dolphins visiting Melbourne's Port Phillip Bay, I was quite chuffed to hear that a whale has given birth to a calf in Tasmania's Derwent River estuary for the first time since 1820 (that would be a stat to query if I was keen).

While we may be doing eff all in response to climate change, river water quality has improved immensely in Australia.

Melbourne's Yarra River has improved as has the water quality in our Port Phillip Bay. Hobart's Derwent River has improved. Next step, the quite toxic Sydney Harbour and possibly the Parramatta River.

For goodness sake NSW government, you must be doing something significant. Oh, changing a railway line so that a tram can run on it. Finally doing something with the terribly vandalised trams stored at the old Rozelle Depot. I am pleased to hear that the railway clearways project has fixed up Sydney trains!!! Smart new trains? Overbudget and delayed. You hand out maintenance contracts for them for forty years??? Oh! As exasperated as I get about Victoria, moving to New South Wales clearly won't solve anything.

Proof positive that something is happening in NSW. Photo by Tim Boxsell.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Justice Simon Whelan

His name in the subject line should get his and some other attention. While I just blather on in my blog, I have realised that I have some power in what comes up when people googly search.

The story is here.

So I ask Justice Simon Whelan, how does a stomp to someone's head who has already undeservedly been punched to the ground, such as Cain Aguiar's, not be considered murder and not punishable by perhaps a thirty or forty year gaol term rather than a seven year gaol term?

Did Fostar Akoteu not know what the end result of kicking or stomping on someone's head could be? I am sure he did.

I can almost understand what drives someone to punch someone in the face. I cannot understand what would drive someone to actually want to kill someone by stomping on their face.

The Public Prosecutor can only appeal on points of law, so far as I understand, but if ever there was a case for an appeal for a more severe sentence, this is one of them.

Cain was a nice looking guy, but regardless, even if was butt ugly, I would feel the same. I apologise to Cain's parents in Canada for what most Australians with any sense would agree is a woefully inadequate sentence.

As for Justice Simon Whelan, well he no doubt lives in an insulated world where such things don't happen. The worst that has happened to him was when his Melbourne Grammar educated son was caught on public transport without a ticket or when his Merc or Beemer was caught by a speed or redlight camera. Never trust me with the facts, his son could be a Scotch boy.

Television City

Send a self addressed envelope to GTV 9, 22 Bendigo Street, Richmond, 3121. Now it is a PO box to write to, still in Richmond, or is my memory defective and it was always a post box?

I had never seen Melbourne's Channel 9 buildings before, even though they are in Richmond. Owing to confusing my Swans with my Bridges and my Victorias, I ended up in the wrong place having alighted from the wrong tram. It was the usual, I thought I knew where I was going well enough to not bother checking. I wanted to go to Victoria Gardens shopping centre. Did it not click that that it is Victoria Street? Evidently not. I also wanted to go to a business in Bridge Road, but thought I would come back there and go to Victoria Gardens first. To my surprise Victoria Gardens was not at the wide Hawthorn end of Bridge Road. Bah, I will have to walk. So I headed south, yes south and guess what, I came to Swan Street. Ok tram along Swan, tram up Church and another along Victoria.

But when I walked south from Bridge Road, along what I thought was a nondescript Richmond Street, I happened across Television City, the home of General Television Corporation, or Channel 9 if you like. It is certainly a large rambling site and looks like it just grew from one main building into many.

Channel 10 moved from Nunawading to South Yarra. Channel 7 moved from South Melbourne to Docklands. Channel 2 mostly moved from Ripponlea to South Bank, but Channel 9 stands resolutely and firmly entrenched in Richmond (I am getting the feeling that someone is going to tell me it is not staying there). It started niggling me enough to check, and sure enough, I must have read it here. Channel 9 is moving to Docklands too.

But wait, as I was about to hit publish, I came across this story in the online newspaper.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Daddy Anecdotes

I have never said much about my father. Before he gave up smoking, he smoked White Ox rollies, a tobacco so strong that it would blow your head away. Beer was his tipple and he drank too much of it. In his later life, his oldest son who might have just been me, introduced him to whiskey.

He was a young teenager when his mother bolted. His youngest brother was put in an orphanage and he cared for the other two younger ones. He had no respect for his own mother, but plenty for his father, who, after he finished school, took him on to work alongside him building houses.

It was his birthday this week past. I used to call Step Mother on the day of his birthday, but I don't think it is so necessary now that she has a new fellah, the fellah being mid seventies. I like my step mother, but she is not the needy or emotional type, very different to my mother. Tradie Brother sees her often. He likes the connection back to his dad and her new fellah never mind that I doubt our father was actually his father.

I am forever in debt to my step mother as from her he learnt what true love was and while they argued at times, they loved each other dearly.

My father was extremely clever and well read. I think he was educated at Camberwell High School. He invented the word cynicism. His knowledge of all sorts of thing amazed me. He could translate a Latin phrase, play a piano, remember how many calfs a cow had given birth to, the names of 100 or so cows, steer himself anywhere without a map, know about the finer points of a car engine tappets, identify any plant, know the exact mitre joint for timber without using a mitre box and was always up to speed with politics. When Step Mother showed an interest in dog breeding, he soon became an expert and was an activist against the blatant corruption and favouritism in dog showing circles. He was a superb ballroom dancer. Mother used to dress extremely well with fashions from the city, unlike most of the dowdy country women and together they could clear a dance floor as others stood around in awe at the style and skill. I used to be very proud when they were on the dance floor, but then he would go outside with mates and drink too much, while my mother would then dance with my handsome uncle, a recipe for disaster. But he was truly a master of all trades.

I am not sure how, but he knew some quite wealthy people. One was a Western District grazier who we stayed with once. It was my first experience of a very grand house, with a staircase no less to the second storey.

He was a builder when he was younger and then became a dairy farmer, service station proprietor (near the beach so he could go fishing), a caravan park proprietor and then due to ill health, retired early. He died from a cancer in his back at the age of 64, although he had a remission period of quite a few years. His retirement was brought about by damage caused by falling off roofs and football injuries.

He was not very emotional. I don't doubt he loved us children, but he was not demonstrative about it. He provided well for us, although we had to learn to share one large soft drink bottle and not have a small one each.

He cared little for appearances but Mother made sure he looked smart when he went out. Any house maintenance was only done after nagging from Mother. He washed his car only for weddings and funerals and that was only hosing the worst of the mud off it. I am not sure why he thought he had the right to leave shaven whiskers in the wash basin, but he did. I found it revolting.

He never acknowledged that I was gay, even though he knew R for twenty years and they got on well. I don't think he had inkling about my sister, well maybe we did not then either but we suspected. He liked his grandchildren, Tradie Brother's children, and they found him entertaining. He would take them swimming and fishing and picking vegetables.

He was not always right though. On his last visit to Melbourne, I picked him up from hospital and as we drove past early Docklands, he shook his head and asked who was going to live in all these places, and who would occupy all those offices.

I wish I could feel emotional about him but I don't. I am pleased he was in my life and grateful for my upbringing.

It is ten years since he died. He was a person who hated the idea of doctors, nurses and hospitals, yet once he was ill and dying of cancer, he gave himself over to the medical system and trusted them to do their best. They did and he was happy. Take a bow RMH.

He died at home with a district nurse attending daily and my step mother looking after him. Although she is extremely mentally strong, the last couple of weeks nearly killed her too, although I only found this out later. I will ask to die at home too, but with the proviso that, for goodness sake, if you are struggling to cope, stick me into hospital or a hospice. To insist that you die at home is very selfish, with your loved ones perhaps suffering greatly.

Tradie brother rang me and said it won't be too long now. Given it was three hours drive away, I declined to see him for that one last time, without regrets. He died the next day.

My father's favourite phrase was 'She'll be right', and it usually was.

Some photos of him back here. I should give this some heavy editing, but I have lost the will.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A dingo's slapped my baby

Gawd, at the thirtieth anniversary of the disappearance of Azaria Chamberlain, for a moment it seemed that the dingo not only ate Azaria, but gave her a slapping first. Of course she may not have been eaten by a dingo, but I am not going down that road.

Dingo 'slapped child'

My baby catches the Mornington train.

Hey, it fits with a slight stretch. Sing it! Go on. My baby catches the Mornington train. Haha, that is going to be running around your head all day. However, you can't catch a train to Mornington on the Mornington Peninsula, the eastern side of Port Phillip Bay. It used to have train to connect it to Melbourne metropolis but the trains were stopped in 1981. Bad idea, but not as bad as selling off much of the land where the railway station and track was to developers.

Fortunately some folk got together and started the Mornington Railway Preservation Society. I must go for a ride one day. The Society runs steam (or diesel) trains on most Sundays from a purpose built railway station just out of the main township of Mornington to Moorooduc. Much work has been put into organisation by locals and volunteers. Isn't it always the case with such organisations?

Early last year we visited Mornington and used the shopping centre that sits on the site of the old railway station. Now I know why my memory of Mornington was not gelling. The station I recalled from a previous visit had gone. My memory of Mornington were based upon where things were in relation to the train station.

Is it possible that a normal suburban train could run to Mornington again? Not bloody likely, you are thinking, but wait.

I am obliged to Jayne for directing me to this information which appeared in an article in the Frankston Independent Newspaper in May.

At the moment, there is diesel rail car which runs a train service from the suburban terminus at Frankston to Stony Point. The Mornington train branched off this line at Baxter.

It is suggested in the article that the Stony Point line from Frankston to Baxter be electrified and a large stabling yard built at Baxter to replace yards at Mordialloc, Carrum And Frankston.

The builders of the Peninsula Link freeway have been told to build a large flyover where the freeway intersects with the disused railway line. The Railway Preservation Society has been told to raise the height of a footbridge at Moorooduc Station where its service presently terminates.

Can you believe this? Options are being kept open even if it is to replace what was already there.

Here is one of the railway society's beasts, ready to haul is load of excited travellers.

Budget Cuts

Which is the richest country in the world? It rather depends on what statistics you look at but the United States is always near the top. Of course its wealth is very unevenly distributed among it citizens, well when is it ever not in any country, but some do it better, especially European countries.

Really though, in such a rich country, how can this happen? Full article here. It would be interesting to know the crime stats before and after the street lights were turned off. And in Clayton County, would I be right in guessing it will be mostly black people who have lost their public transport?

As the economic downturn continues to hit US states and cities hard, administrations have been turning to radical measures to cut costs and save money.

A third of Colorado Springs' 24,512 street lights have been switched off to save power; in Clayton County, a suburb of Georgia, public bus services have been axed, stranding more than 8400 daily commuters; and spending on schools, prisons, roads and myriad state services across America have been crunched as tax revenues have evaporated.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


So exciting, Princess Mary in her home town of Hobart. Off to Hobart Mercury to read about her visit. Ohhhhh, very heavy snowfalls in Tasmania, with snow falling in West Hobart. I know where to see some snow. Rose Bay High School has a web cam pointing over the city to Mount Wellington.

Time is right on the webcam. So where is the evidence of wild weather and snow to low altitudes? I can't even see snow on Mount Wellington. The weather appears to smiling down on Princess Mary.

Perhaps the camera is faulty and not updating? I check the live webcam at Wrest Point. Fine and sunny and the Derwent is sparkling.

One last cam I know of, Tasman Bridge road traffic. Fine and sunny and not a snowflake to be seen.

The Drains Again

Our friend in Japan has been travelling, principally to Nagano where she snapped these drain covers which I have stolen from her photo site. Rather good aren't they.

The non existent Australasian Drain and Utility Cover and Plumbing Appreciation Society, ADUCPAS, is expanding and must now include the word Nippon (yes KN, I had go back to see what the acronym was). To ad Nippon such as ANDUCPAS is making the acronym rather long, so see if you can come up with something a bit snappier. WAN plus additional letters is not acceptable.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Broadband v Wireless

Our first isp was free. It came with our first computer. It was hopeless, with a minimal number of modems to dial into. Oddly the best dial up isp we had was Eisa, before it went bust. It performed well, with never a problem dialling in and it was fast.

It was about 1999 when we connected to broadband cable, and what a wonderous thing it was. Lightening fast as if by magic. Now our cable internet is much faster than our first cable.

Our cable internet is so fast and so reliable, compared to years past, I am quite content and I have no need of faster or bigger or better. A giga byte per second via fibre optic? There goes my monthly download limit in 25 seconds. I am content, just as I was back in about 1997, but how the world and the internet has moved on since 1997, in ways I could never imagine.

I can't speculate how much we will be gouged to have access to the Labor government's planned fibre optic network, but I suspect that if we don't have a fibre optic network, Australia will be left a long way behind and seriously disadvantaged.

As for the Liberal Party's proposed wireless network, well, we have wireless for R's laptop. It is fine for holidays or in an emergency, but that is it. I know at least one of my readers uses wireless as she is somewhat nomadic, and she is not satisfied with it. Do you use wireless and are you happy with it?

Kiddie PM

If Ms Gillard is endorsed as our Prime Minister at Saturday's election, will she be our youngest ever PM? So far as I can tell in my lifetime, she will be. And, I don't like to confess this, but she will be the first PM younger than I am. Never mind coppers looking like kiddies.

My girl readers, you can vote for her because she is woman. (yeah, right, as if you would) But only once mind. She'd better perform and put male PMs who have preceded her to shame. A lot to ask, but I suspect she is capable of doing so.

At home is not always best

Someone I know works in 'the field'. The field of disabilities that is. One of his clients has very caring parents. The parents do all they can for their son. The son has quite challenging behaviours and needs high care.

My friend is a professional and cares for the lad on a day to day basis within office hours in a government funded care building, his parents care for him the rest of the time. It sounds like an ideal situation for the lad hey? Well, not really. What happens when his parents die? This is a huge problem that many parents of disabled children are facing as they and their children age.

I am talking about people who are unable to function on their own who are supported by their parents at home and government funded daycare. My friend thinks that although what these parents do for their son is very admirable, they could do better by getting them into a situation at a earlyish age where professionals do the hard yards. It is just going to be such a terrible shock to the disabled person when, not if, their parents die. He needs to feel cared for and feel secure. He does now, but will not in the future. He should be eased into more sustainable public care now before it is too late.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Too Much Missy

Three dinners out in seven days is a bit much. R enjoys not cooking though. Last Saturday night, at the behest of a friend who's partner was away, we returned to Saigon Rose in Chapel Street after not being there for several years. Boy is it popular. Tables were being turned over at a rapid rate, even though it is a proper restaurant. It wasn't especially cheap, the food a bit plain but the the noise! It was horrendous. It was a huge relief to walk out into the comparative quiet of Chapel Street Prahran! Someone, possibly yours truly, mucked up which Saturday night we were going for dinner and when I phoned her she was watching football at a friend's place in Coburg. So we had to have another meal out on the correct Saturday night, that is last night.

But during the week another friend had a $250 voucher for any restaurant at Crown and was happy to share it with us. He chose Conservatory which has buffet meals, focusing on seafood but it has other food as well. If we were paying, it would have cost $61 each plus drinks, rather a lot for a buffet. $11 for a glass of the cheapest wine was a bit steep. In spite of the voucher, the six of us still had to whack in $20 each. I had my fair share of oysters, although I gave the prawns and crab a miss as I find them too much bother to shell and too messy. The oysters were quite small and I guess as they sell so many, they buy ones that you would be unhappy to pay full price for. We were seated in the window looking down on the Yarra, not that there was much to see in the dark, but we watched the trains going back and forth between Flinders and Spencer Street Stations and the city backdrop was very nice. On the hour, the flame jets went off, although the strong wind spoilt them a bit. Mixed feelings about Conservatory. While it is quite good, I am not sure that it is $61 good.

Photo of the Crown fire show by Yewy.

But we did well last night at Gurkhas in Chapel Street. Very nice food, good service, good atmosphere and while it was busy, the busyness did not overwhelm us and the noise level was ok. Our ex NT Politician/Policeman friend had a guest here from Malaysia. While he is Muslim, he still likes beer and none of this buggery ramadan nonsense was going to deprive him of a Crownie. (yes yes, I know they can eat and drink after sunset, but they should never drink alcohol)

The night was marred by our dyke friend announcing that although she was staying friends with her girl friend, she was moving out into her own place. For ten minutes I was barely able speak. She was very positive about it, but her wet eyes belied her sudden enthusiasm for living alone. Their children, the inseparable dogs, will be separated.