Saturday, September 25, 2010

Not very fast at all train to Sydney

Can't resist this little gem from

Travelling the distance from Belgrave to Gembrook on Puffing Billy can be tedious enough, let alone travelling on it all the way to New South Wales.

At a meeting of the Ferntree Gully Shire Council on Saturday, Councillor Crichton moved that Mr Keast, M.L.A be asked to approach the Government with a request to extend the Gembrook line to the New South Wales border via Wood's Point and Omeo.

Red Kezza

Red Kezza makes me think of two people, but I am referring to the ABC 7.30 Report presenter. He is retiring after umpteen years. My mind tells me he has not been in the picture quite as long as I have been viewing and listening to our ABC, but he has been there a long time.

I can't say I ever warmed to him. I respect his interviewing abilities, but he always seemed a bit too angry for my taste. He had early days on Lateline, a programme that was born from the Carlton Walsh Report, CarWash Report for short. Walsh was very learned and always on top of things. The late Carlton was smug and supercilious, but could pin a politician into a corner very well. It could be just a memory failing on my part, but I have never seen Kerry shine like these two much older presenters.

I don't mean to damn with feint praise, but Kerry was ok.

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Bourke Street Stroll

I walked across the footbridge at Southern Cross Station towards Docklands and the stadium. The old building is very long and extends from Bourke Street down to Collins Street, and then another in line extends from Collins to Flinders Street. I believe they were Victorian Railways workshops and of course they are long because trains needed to fit entirely inside. The two similar annexes are new. I would have liked to see them dominated by the size of the old shed, rather than the reverse that has happened. At least the old sheds were saved.

I think I am looking at the corner of Bourke Street and Wurundjeri Way. I have no idea what On the Beach is about. Looks strange. Could it be the name of a bar?

There you go V. You won't have to stay with us on your next visit if you don't want to. Perfectly good high rise YMCA for backpackers. I don't see any clothes hanging out the windows to dry though, nor blonde Swedish lads or cleavage exposing Brit lasses hanging around.

Docklands has been called souless, empty and barren. I wonder why? Photos taken early afternoon. Technically this is on the way to Docklands past the Docklands stadium.

Generally modern buildings don't grab me, but this little beauty does. It glitters beautifully in the sunlight. You can see the VR shed from earlier to the right.

I wish I had taken more effort with this photo. Next time I am there and they are there, I will do better. The closest boat is the Victoria Star, its original name being Lady McKell and it plied the waters of Sydney Harbour between 1970 and 1993. She sat abandoned for some time in Rozelle Bay until rescued and refurbished in 1998. She is a thrice winner of Sydney's ferry races (I tried hard to find a link to Sydney ferry races, but none were good).

Better, the ferry further back kept her original name, Lady Cutler. She is even older than Victoria Star, launched in 1968 and sailed in Sydney Harbour ferry service until 1991. Her refurbishment took some time and she was almost lost in wild seas when sailing Bass Strait on her way to Melbourne from the Portland shipyards. In 2008 she was recommissioned by Lady (Joan) Cutler, widow of long term NSW Governor Sir Roden Cutler. See the ferry here.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

We No Speak Americano

I first heard this track in the background somewhere. Hmm, sounds a bit Indian. The next time I heard it I was clear that it was Italian. I am rarely listen to music and I am certainly behind the eight ball given how long it has been in the charts. Perhaps it is my Italian genes, but I really like it. I'll bet there are some good mixes of it that will get all the giovane in Rome onto the discotheque floor.

Oh, it is not in the Australian Top 20 singles. I think I found the original clip for the music but embedding is not allowed. You can make do with this one.

Commonwealth Games Mascot

Ohhhh, I thought Tony the Tiger who used to advertise the Kellogg's breakfast cereal Sugar Frosties was back.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Recovery

My advice to you is avoid having your stomach cut open at all costs. Of course though, you must follow medical advice.

The staples holding my stomach together, and thus preventing all the interior bits falling out, were removed on Monday. I did not look, but I understand some drainage was done too. That must have been the bulge that was leading me to think that the operation had failed. I am looking much flatter now and scabs have formed where the staples were removed. The internal muscle pain has pretty well gone and I can pick things up off the floor and even reach the bottom rack of the dishwasher even. Housework duties are slowly resuming, much to R's relief. Pain only comes on strongly if I cough. I try to avoid that. Laughing is ok now, but I haven't done much of that. Woe is the misery me.

Tuesday, the day after the staples were removed was a bad. I was very tender and sore and felt like I had gone backwards. I am still wearing the girdle and must do so for a good bit of time yet. The Masada Mister suggested I wear a singlet between my skin and girdle. So bloody obvious, why didn't I think of it. I hopped off the tram in Balaclava on the way home and bought a singlet as I didn't have any. A tee shirt would make me too hot.

Today has been much better. I actually got seriously out and about, back to Balaclava to buy another singlet, train to city, train to Dennis, train back, tram home. I still do an old man shuffle and I am always looking for lifts and escalators but it is not killing me to move around. It is actually easier to move slowly in public as no one ever gets in my way. I am the one with a bank up of people behind me who are trying to get past. Noted, although a diagonal crossing at the corner of Elizabeth and Flinders Street is allowed, I was not quite fast enough and the Flinders Street traffic lights had gone green.

It is two weeks today since the operation and it is the first day I have really felt like I will be back to normal soon.

Rainbow Warrior

London or Paris. London or Paris. Who could choose. I loved both. But how in the eighties I hated the French. I had forgotten the outrage I felt until seeing this week's ABC Four Corners episode, made by the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation.

You can do the research for accuracy, but here is how it unfolded at the time. I could not believe how it could happen.

France used to test nuclear bombs in the South Pacific.

Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior was in Auckland Harbour readying to sail away to protest against France testing bombs in the South Pacific.

The French government, yes authorised by the French government, planted a bomb on the hull of Rainbow Warrior and blew it up and people were killed.

Two French citizens were caught and gaoled.

In retaliation France imposed a strong embargo on New Zealand and NZ buckled to the extreme pressure and helpful compensation monies.

The two convicted were sent to a South Pacific French atoll to serve the remainder of the gaol term.

No sooner were they on the atoll, and they were back in Paris and more compensation money was paid.

It is a shocking and disgraceful period in French history.

New Zealand had the guts to stand up to the US, refusing entry to ships that had nuclear power or weapons, yet they could not stand up to the French.

While it cost lives, ultimately Greenpeace won. France no longer tests nuclear weapons in the South Pacific.

Stand to the left

As I don't use escalators to get to and from a railway station and then my workplace and so not in a hurry, I am usually content to stand aside on escalators and let others pass me by. It is a bad attitude, but why walk up or down when the moving staircase does it for you?

I wrote about which side to stand on when using escalators and it certainly varies around the world. Post was here and a later bit here.

So perhaps people complaining in forums about 'foreigners' standing on the wrong side of the escalator need to take this into account. Nevertheless, if you are in foreign country, you should observe what the locals do and take their cue.

There is no doubt casual visitors to the City are the worst offenders. Mix casual users with peak travel time train users, such as Melbourne Central Railway Station, and there is real conflict. One aspect of the problem is the slowness of escalators. They are painfully and un-necessarily slow. If their speed was doubled, many people would not need to go dashing down escalators and casual users might be a bit more focused when they used escalators.

But why oh why aren't there signs telling people to keep left on escalators? It just seem to be so obvious to have visible keep left signs as you ascend or descend on an escalator.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Olympics/Commonwealth Games/World Cup

There is always a media fuss before these major events where things have to be built. Predictions come early that nothing will be ready, yet it always is. Even Athens managed it, and who seriously thought that things would not be ready in Beijing?

But with such a short time left, this time perhaps the forecasts will prove correct for the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. A week or so ago an Indian involved VIP suggested that things might not be quite finished in a western manner, but things will be finished.

I will guess that some competitors will be lucky and use finished facilities and have finished accommodation, and some won't.

Western countries can barely afford these huge events. I don't believe that they generally make money for the city or country holding the events. How many non Games connected visitors will there be in New Delhi?

I'm sure the London Olympics will be successful, maybe the 'best Games ever', but after that......... Surely these mega events need some downscaling.


I so love the sound of warbling magpies but I have been surprised to hear them as I woke the last few days. If I can hear them from my bedroom, they must have been very close by. But why? What were they doing?

Then yesterday I saw one on the roof of the building next door. It had a long strip of paper in its beak, clearly nesting material. It walked over to the corner of the roof and placed the paper in a very inappropriate place for nest building, right where the window cleaning vehicle track makes a ninety degree turn. This is not a place for a nest.

Today a pair of them appeared on the roof.

The nest builder appeared to me to be a young female, still without fully white feathers. I really hope she is only getting a feel for nest building, rather than the real thing. Wouldn't it be too late to start a nest anyway? I am making an assumption that it is the females that build the nest. Perhaps males do, and if so, was he was showing his young wife his homemaking skills?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Nice Shirt

'That's a nice shirt Andrew', so said R, 'it looks good'.

It is an old shirt, but an expensive one bought at Moorabbin DFO when the shirt was heavily discounted, so it was already out of fashion.

R had not seen the shirt for a good while for good reasons. I am pretty honest when R asks if his bum looks too big in a certain garment. I have never had an artistic eye, but it is getting better and I do seem to be able to judge what works clothing wise or what doesn't. If I really don't like what he is wearing, I will tell him so.

I think he does the same for me, so I am a bit puzzled about the event a few months ago when I asked him to choose which shirt out of two I should wear for the night out. He suggested one and said that he has never really been keen on the other shirt and it did not work well for me. Given I had been wearing it for a couple of years, now he tells me. I took on board what he said and I have not worn it since.

That is until my supply of unironed long sleeve shirts was depleted, and I put it on a couple of days ago for just wearing around home.

Refer first sentence. Men! Who'd have them.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Asians in advertising

These sneaky orientals have among us for as long we have been in Australia. In my case, they were probably in Australia before my family was. All those before 1970 snuck in and kept their heads down and we did not notice them. Well, maybe a few stuck their heads up, but they were quickly put down.

After 1970, these Asian people flooded our country, made us drink fish sauce neat and tried to force us to replace our spuds with rice. Fortunately a mutual starch agreement was reached.

So how many years is it since these not the ones who slip under your radar Asian people appeared? Nigh on forty years since the first Vietnamese arrived Have I been so tuned out from commercial tv that I have not noticed or has it just happened in the last year? Are television commercials presenting people of Asian heritage as normal people in no particular context but just as part life?

Lordy, before you know it Australian tv commercials will be replacing black Americans with Aborigines. Just can't have that at all.

My mother is of a certain age and upbringing. She will bang on about 'foreigners' if you give her the chance. That is except for her Filipina bride and now widow type next door neighbour who is Emmy, only fifteen years Mother's junior. Mother complains that Emmy talks too much and gives her a headache, rather like Mother complains about everyone. Each night before sleeping Mother peaks out at Emmy's house to make sure there is light on and Emmy is at home, just in case Mother feels she may need some help from someone she trusts.

If you don't quite get what I am saying, Asian heritage people have always being among us but now the mighty advertising dollar has spoken. They are officially part of the Australian norm. So speaketh the ad agencies.

Ranting against Ratzinger

I was quite pleased to hear that pope Ratzinger may not receive a great reception in the Britain. There must have been a good reason why no pope has been to Britain since 1982. As he arrived in Scotland, the news was not great. He seemed to be receiving general approval. Even Betty Battenburg had him to tea at Balmoral. Might this be keeping your enemies closer?

I was depressed. I wanted to see anti papal visit folk marching on the streets. Why didn't they import some Northern Irish proddys? They'd get things going.

I do so admire the British for the sense of history. No one does it better than they do. No one cares more than they do. No one participates more than they do. Is it with the current generation? I really hope so. I see signs of it.

Whether it is history, social comment, anti religion, anti pope and his world wide despicable henchmen, anti homophobia, anti child abuse, anti many things, London came to the fore with a huge protest against the pope's visit.

For some photos of the protest with a twist and a gay slant, that include a lad with far too much attitude for his age, take a look at the Beauty Hunter.

Random Pics

Not only are the regional train tracks ready at Southern Cross Station, across the footbridge new tram tracks are being laid and platform stops are being built at Docklands. Sadly it is not an extension to the tram system as the existing Docklands tracks will be removed. I don't really know how it will all work when it is completed, but it is supposed to make for better public spaces.

What a strange hat this apartment building is wearing. It almost makes the building look Asian. I wonder if it was original or added later. I really don't think it works well.