Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ten Days

It is ten days since my surgery. I had absolutely no idea it would take so long to recover. Each day sees an improvement but gosh it is slow. I am pretty fed up. I haven't used pain killers since leaving hospital and I suspect that might have been a mistake. Pain killers can cause constipation, but operations certainly do. I related primary cause to secondary cause and stopped taking painkillers.

Today I went shopping with R but I was a hindrance rather that a a help. I shuffled along like an old man. People are kind to frail old people. They are not so kind to people who look ok but struggling. I suppose it was good to get out. We had breakfast at Tran Bakery as our usual place in Prahran Central is closed for renovations. A workmate came into the bakery and asked if I was on holidays. I only told people at work who had to know, the reason for my extended absence. Kind of holidays was my reply. He was happy with this, thank god.

This afternoon R put the ironing board up for me and I ironed my clothes that needed a press.

This evening to celebrate our dyke friend's birthday we went to the Elsternwick Bowling Club for dinner. What a little gem that is. Great food for the price. Our group to go out for a big dinner now seems to be twelve, and we were well catered for on a round table. We usually leave such dinners earlyish, but all gravitated to the bar overlooking the bowling lawns and started watching the football match. It was so one sided, who cared, but we stayed on. I was really struggling. Everything was annoying me. Everything everyone said was annoying me. Personal habits were annoying me. I was getting paranoid about what anyone said to me. I was hurting and I wanted to be home.

I keep reminding myself that people go through worse, such as Fen, and I can't imagine what it must have been like for tonight's birthday girl who had a heart transplant at the age of about 42.

But I don't care. It is all about me.


Keep this in mind to illustrate what a troglodyte I am. In the mid nineties a friend installed a trial version of the ACDSee picture viewing program. He also installed a crack code for it. I was happy with it, but come the next Windows 95 reload, the crack would not work. Instead once a month I un-installed the program and re-installed it. I kept the original installation file through reloads of Windows and three or four new computers and would you believe that I still use it today, still once a month un-installing and re-installing. If I don't, I get a nuisance nag box.

I have tried Windows picture viewer and also Irfanview but neither does as simply as what ACDSee does, that is looking at pictures and sometimes rotating them.

With our first computer came a Norton Anti Virus. Before the word bloatware had been invented, I had already decided Norton was bloatware. It took over the computer and made for more trouble than it was worth. I now use AVG, which updates itself daily and just works away in the background and never interferes with anything. If you want AVG, you have to hunt pretty hard on their website to find the free version.

This brings me to the ITunes program. I am not sure what version I have, maybe 8 point something. I get nags to update, which I ignore, but I do wonder what I am missing out on at times and I am tempted. I think the program is very large and I know it can do heaps of stuffs but certain reading has given me some clarity of thought.

I don't need ITunes. I principally use it to download podcasts from ABC Radio National and BBC Radio 4. I am always hopelessly behind with listening to podcast but they are not normally too topical and can keep.

Possibly ITunes can automate all this, but given I use an MP3 player rather than an IPod, perhaps not. I turn on ITunes, it checks the areas I have nominated and automatically downloads the podcasts. I then go to Windows Explorer and drag all the podcasts into one folder and then drag them all onto my MP3 player and then go back to ITunes and individually delete the downloads. I just know it could be done much easier, but it is not a high priority for me to learn.

Nah, I don't want ITunes. All I want is something to check when new podcasts are uploaded. I can go to the site to grab the podcasts manually as quickly as any other way. I think I will check that the individual program sites for rss feeds that will alert me to new podcasts and then I will remove ITunes from my computer.

Btw, it is all Fen's fault that I ever installed ITunes. She mentioned her delight at finding the first episode of a second series of Is It Just Me had automatically downloaded to her ITunes and I thought, I must have this ITunes.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Ok, it all makes sense now. I could not understand why QR ads have appeared on our local tram stop shelters? What has QR got to do with Victorians?

QR stands for Queensland Rail, Queensland being a place that really did not like our Melburnian Julia Gillard for Prime Minister of Australia.

Speaking of Qld, I did not know that the crazy Bob Katter was a Minister in the old Bjelke-Petersen state government of Queensland. For his crazy statement that gay marriage is not an issue in his electorate as there are no gays there, I can forgive. But being a member of such a corrupt government such as Bjelkie Petersen's, I cannot.

I have just noted from tv that QR is being privatised and there is an opportunity for us to buy shares in the company, so that is why we are seeing publicity for QR here interstate.

Let us delve a little further. Right, it has just been chopped in two with one part operating passenger services and the other freight. Only the freight operation is being privatised and it will become QR National.

Ah, they are sensibly hiving off the non profitable section and keeping the one that provides good revenue. Well, no. It is the opposite. Queensland freight trains carry all that wonderful coal to the ports for shipping around the world. This has got to be profitable. Why is the government of Queensland depriving its citizens of the revenue from the profitable freight section and taking on the probably heavily subsidised passenger section?

Worse, why is a Labor government doing this?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Crossing the So Cross Bridge

Yesterday, one week after my slicing and dicing, I managed to walk across the road and sit down at my cafe and have a cup of coffee. Take from this that these photos were taken before my slicing and dicing.

I still struggle to automatically use the name Southern Cross Station, Spencer Street Station usually coming to the fore.

Bicycle parking is forbidden. Yet maybe ten metres further into the station are bicycles chained to parking stands. Perhaps they are for staff to get around quickly....I think not.

Some of the station's roof pillows have been replaced after many being badly damaged by hail earlier this year. The new ones have release valves rather than collapsing under the weight of hailstones and rain.

Oh look, a set of shiny new train tracks! They are for the Regional Rail Link, a project to allow northern and western country trains to arrive in town without getting tangled up along the way with suburban trains.

And a train testing out the shiny new track.

The train popped out the other side of the connecting bridge. Right ho. I guess the new platforms 15 and 16 will be to the left of the train, so I don't know what the other track will be used for. I am confused. Driver, your train is running late, bypass So Cross Station using the western most track.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fagging at an outdoor caf

Mother's best friend died twenty years ago at the age of 49 from a brain tumour. Last weekend her late best friend's widower died at the age of 70. Sister took Mother to the funeral today. Mother's late best friend's daughter, who would be about 45, rang Mother to tell her of her father's death. At the end of the tearful conversation, she asked Mother if she still smoked? Mother confessed she did and the daughter said so did she and told Mother that if she has survived to be so old, then maybe her own habit was not so bad.

It is interesting that the daughter smokes, as neither her late mother or father did, and nor do her two brothers.

I used to admire Dame M who smoked and drank excessively and was a picture of health at 81 and had never suffered more than a hangover. At 82 she was dead from smoking related causes.

Odd to hear our Lord Mayor state that he is unaware of cases of cancer caused by passive smoking, especially given his other public role. I am sure there are cases. If you are constantly in a room full of smoke, then you must be inhaling it and it can't be good for you. But if he meant a wisp of smoke from a stray cigarette hits you outdoors, then ok, I will wear that.

I cast my mind back to when people smoked while shopping in supermarkets and it was nothing to see people smoke in our Myer department stores. How times have changed. Back then we seemed to be desensitised to second hand smoke. Now, you walk along the street and you can smell cigarette smoke from a mile away.

I don't think there would too many people who would now argue that smoking should be allowed indoors in public spaces. One marvellous thing that came out of banning smoking indoors was the explosion of outdoor seating at cafes and outdoor areas at hotels and so forth. Not much later, along came outdoor heating.

Considering that, in my opinion, outdoor eating around the world and especially in Australia only took off seriously when indoor smoking was banned, is it fair to now ban smoking outdoors at cafes etc? The reason we have all these outdoor and winter heated cafes to dine at is because smokers were kicked out from indoors.

Medical Authorities warn that smoking can be hazardous to your health.

US States

Psst, Dina seems to be in London and, although who can be sure, and Ian has jetlag. I will take the chance that they aren't reading and have a look at stereotypes of the states of United States. What do you know about the various states? We Australians and probably others have some strong stereotype knowledge of some of the US states.

California, rich, oranges, wine, earthquakes, fires, Golden Gate Bridge, Castro in San Fran Frisco, Golden Gate Bridge, fog, cable trams, Governor Arnie. In spite of Arnie , quite civilised really but poor roads and services due to Governor Reagan reducing taxes.

Nevada, desert and LA. Is that where LA is? Water from Hoover Dam. LA, freeways, traffic jams and no public transport, gambling.

So where is Hollywood? California? Near LA in Nevada? I don't know.

Not far from California is Utah, Mormons in Salt Lake City, although I have a distant relative who lives there and is not Mormon.

Let us get our kicks and cross the continent on Route 66 to Chicago. What state is that in? Windy, black dominated, poor, car industry, music. But I have also heard it is a very beautiful city.

Texas, cowboys, tall cactus, rattle snakes, George Dubbya, oil, socially conservative, nay, redneck. Big big roads and carparks and no public transport, Waco.

Florida. Miami, sticky, hot and humid, pretty and colourful Art Deco houses, apartments blocks full of tanned and leathery old widows seeking the sun and bored. Latin gigolos skating along the beach on blades. Surrounded by the Everglade swamps, ahhh, wetlands, with alligators and boats propelled by jet fans. Close to the gay mecca Quay what? West?

Alabama, black.

New Hampshire, rich and white, based entirely on the movie Hotel New Hampshire.

Ohio, Olivia Newton John, Down by the banks of the the old Ohio.

Struggling here, trying to do it with out looking at a map.

Iowa, mid west, where all the gay guys in the US are born and they then move to either San Fran or NYC.

New Mexico, Reno? Get married there easily? Albuquerque (by golly my spell check works well for US states. Surprise?)

Colorado, Colorado River and Grand Canyon.

Washington? Once I made a point of clarifying in my mind the difference between Washington City and Washington State. I forget now. Is Washington near New York and Washington State on the west coast above Californiaye.

Ok, out of steam, need to look at a map.

Louisiana, New Orleans, cyclone, trams, jazz. levee banks.

Mississippi, show boats on the river, magnolia trees, mint juleps.

Kansas, Dorothy.

Arkansas, Little Rock, Clintons, why is it pronounced Arkansaw.

Virginia, Kennedys.

Kentucky, horses, green grass, white timber fences.

Georgia, Coca Cola, Olympics.

Maine, holiday houses.

Tennessee, Pardon me boys, its the Chattanooga Choo Choo. Going to Jackson with Johnny Cash, Memphis and Elvis, Nashville and bad music.

Now, before this post becomes the basis for a school child's home work project, someone better correct a few things.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


While the Victorian floods, or water events if you like government speak, have had serious consequences for some people it is nothing like what many in Christchurch, New Zealand have suffered from the earthquake.

Here in Victoria there is the usual problem with householders insurance with people thinking they should be able to make an insurance claim for their damaged property and insurers saying no, you are not covered.

It is a complex area, but the insured really needs to have flood specifically mentioned in their policy, which depending on the risk, may increase their premium significantly. To give you an idea of the complexity, is it rising flood water or a raging torrent pouring through your house? Two different events open to different interpretations.

I recall a previous flood in Victoria where our largest insurer paid out for flood damage to houses even though it was not obliged to. Bad move, a precedent set and expectations raised. Whether they will do so this time I am unsure.

Once again we can look across the ditch to New Zealand to see how to do it properly. NZ has the government owned Earth Quake Commission. From premiums paid by householders a percentage goes to the EQC to insure against:

volcanic eruption
hydrothermal activity
and land damaged by storm or flood.

The scheme is not perfect, but far preferable to the way too confusing and open to interpretation private insurance we in Australia must put up with.

Let us have a look at another area of insurance in New Zealand, personal injury. In Australia you will be covered by a private insurance company for received injuries if you are injured in a motor car accident or workplace. If you think an authority or private company is responsible, the best of luck to you in court. Even motor car and work place insurers battle fervently against personal injury claims.

Not so New Zealand where there is no fault government backed insurance to compensate you for any personal injury. Perhaps again not perfect but surely along the right lines.

Sadly, as in Victoria, New Zealand lacks in one area of car insurance. Here third party personal insurance is compulsory for all cars and is paid with your car registration. Not so, third party car damage, not here, nor in NZ. An uninsured driver can run into your car, cause significant damage and if they don't have money or an income, then it is your bad luck and you will have to claim on your own insurance. Even if they do have money, it is a long complex process to get money from the person who damaged your car.

I had a workmate who drove a beaten up old car and she ran into an expensive car and caused a lot of damage to both cars. After a couple of years, finally the authorities were ready to garnishee her wages as compensation. She left the workplace and the whole process would have to be restarted, that is if she had another job.

How this nonsense has managed to last for so long, I just don't know.

(corrections welcome)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Ham Steak and Pineapple

A couple of weeks ago there was a discussion on the radio about food from the seventies. Among mentions of food we have moved on from was fondue and prawn cocktails but then ham steak and pineapple was lumped in with the former two.

I am outraged. I have never moved on from ham steak and pineapple. It is a fine meal and I bet Betty Battenburg would happily consume it. In one meal you can get your daily allowance of fat and salt. How good is that?

Of course properly served it should have red glace cherries sitting in the pineapple holes so not only are you eating the fruit of the pineapple, you are eating cherries as well. All good.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Cuoriouser and Couriouser

Photo from The Age.

We have rivers flooding in the centre and north of our state. This is a very natural occurrence and the natural environment depends on floods. It has been a long time since we have had these floods, so although some people's houses get flooded, some stock die and there is inconvenience, floods like these are to be expected and should be allowed for when deciding where houses are built etc.

The new and very controversial North South Pipeline brings water for Melbourne's use from the Golburn River on the northern side of Victoria's Great Dividing Range, the Golburn River being one of the rivers now in flood.

I am paraphrasing:

"Due to the Golburn River flooding, we are shutting down the North South Pipeline".

I was still in hospital when I read this and I thought it was perhaps my environment or situation that caused me to puzzle over this, the statement not really making sense. Surely if the river was flooding, extracting water from it and reducing its level would be a sensible thing to do. Mind you, maybe the amount extracted would make no difference really, but still, I thought it was odd.

The explanation came later. An equivalent amount of water that runs down the North South Pipeline must be released from the Hume Weir water reservoir, so water for the NSP was being released into the already flooded Golburn River for the NSP to deliver water to Melbourne that was no longer required. Thankfully sense has prevailed and the NSP has been shut down and the water release from the Hume Weir stopped.

What a lot of bureaucratic nonsense, no doubt brought about to soothe the NSP protesters. You can see how it arose. The government promised that only specifically the amount of released water from the Hume Weir for Melbourne could flow down the NSP.