Saturday, October 02, 2010

Another one bites the dust

Three weeks ago, Sis in Law's, that is Tradie Brother's ex wife, Mother had her leg amputated because of diabetes complications. The prognosis was good and the the amputation healed well. Last night Tradie Brother called and said that while the operation was a success, her lungs and kidneys were failing and if she was removed from oxygen, she would die. Her decision was exactly that. Today oxygen was removed, so she will die soon.

She has been cheerful to the end. My nieces and nephews have pretty well always had her in their lives as she and their granddad lived in a flat that adjoined Tradie Brother's house. She has visited us here at the highrise and appreciated the large toilet that could fit a wheelchair.

All that happening on the day of Chainsaw Niece's 18th birthday. We did not go, but Mother and ABI Brother fronted up for the barbecue for Chainsaw Niece's birthday, that did not happen. Chainsaw Niece ordered pizzas and charmed the delivery guy into a significant discount. 'Nan', Chainsaw Niece said to Mother, 'you are the only one left now'.

Quite so. In 2000 they lost Poppy Wally, my father.

In 2008 they lost their mother's father Bill and their father's step father, Laurie.

Seems 2010 they are losing their Mum's mother.

Meanwhile, their Dad's mum live on, Mother.

Mother is feeling very mortal. She has lost her ex husband, son's father in law, her childhood friend and bridesmaid, her husband, her late best friend's husband, and now her son's mother in law. Mother is actually the only person of that generation left in our immediate family, excepting Step Mother.

I wrote most of this last night, after oxygen had been removed. Sis in Law's mother died today between 3/4 and full time during our football final grand final. She clearly did not want to see Collingwood win.

Strike a light!

Without thinking about it, I assumed this tower was the historic Dimmeys clock tower and when the development is built behind the now closed Dimmeys, we would no longer see the tower. Something made me pick up the binoculars and take a proper look and of course it is not the the Dimmeys clock but the match makers Bryant and May clock. Redhead matches are no longer made at the factory, instead imported from Sweden.

There was nothing wrong with the colour in this shot. It was interesting afternoon light.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Lost Photos

The Age's Green Guide photography writer, the venerable Terry Lane, wrote this week about losing digital photos because of either a camera problem or theft (or possibly your own stupidity). I assiduously back up photos when on holidays to either a computer hard and memory stick or to cd at a public service, so I haven't lost any digital photos.

We have however lost photos in pre digital times. Yes, kiddies, cameras used to have film in them that had to be developed. There was none of this rattling off a hundred clicks to get five ok photos.

R put the camera down in a changing room in a Bangkok market and walked out without it or a creeping hand removed it. We soon noticed and returned but it had gone. We lost our most recently taken photos. No problem we thought. Our travelling companions had their camera and had been snapping away at the same things we had.......except, they had neglected to put a roll of film in the camera and only discovered it when the film did not seem to be running out.

I can't be so critical as we did exactly the same when we went snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef. No photos of the luxury boat owned by John Farnham that we sailed on, no reef photos, no photos of hot guys who were with us. Nothing, because there was no film, even though the camera indicated there was.

While not quite the same, for our New Zealand holiday we borrowed a 35mm camera, having previously only used an instant cartridge camera. The colours in the photos turned out very odd and while the images are clear, they are spoiled by the overall colour.

Oh yes, just remembered, we arrived in London and had time to kill before we could check into our room and spent some time in Hyde Park, but only took phone camera photos as I had forgotten to charge the camera before we left Singapore and the battery was flat.

Oh, they just keep coming. A family party and I forgot to put the large camera card in the camera and taking photos at the largest size meant I took very few before the card was full.

I'd like to hear of your camera disaster tales, or perhaps you don't have any. I can think of one person who forgets to charge her camera batteries, and charge the spare batteries.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Barangaroo #42

This is just going from bad to worse. What is the woman thinking of? Has she been on the eu de cologne to Victoria's Planning Minister Madden?

PREMIER Kristina Keneally is to take personal charge of the $6 billion Barangaroo development in a bid to push the project ahead in the face of opposition from community groups and Sydney City councillors.

Ms Keneally said Barangaroo was a chance to re-create the Harbour.

The Premier said it was clear there was a "small group in the community who want to derail the project".

The Invalid

Hmm, is invalid spelt the same as invalid? I am one but I am trying not to be the other, so I try to get out everyday and do something even though it hurts to walk. R is on holidays this week and next week I am supposed to return to work but I can't see that happening. Here is what I have been up to.

Saturday, shopping and breakfast in Prahran and bought a new slow cooker at Retravision. We don't like the store since its long time owner's departed, but we are happy with the slow cooker and the price. Watched the not so final football final, well R did as I only half watched until near the end. Evening meal out with friends at Kotaraya in Elsternwick. Very good.

Sunday, bought a few bits and pieces in the city, including some Australian play money as a teaching aid for V in Japan. Found a colourful key ring with Little Jo's name on it. It is unusual to find her name on anything so I grabbed it. She loved it. Went to Freedom Furniture in Melbourne Central, only to find it had closed down.

Monday, drove to Moorabbin Freedom, hi to the two gals down that way. Did the tour, left and it was raining. Came home. Enough.

Tuesday, was Eye and Ear day with Mother. Friends place for dinner, roast turkey with trimmings and apple pie and ice cream.

Wednesday, movie at Jam Factory which has all the atmosphere of a morgue. Quell horreur, we drove and paid for parking. Had to go to a Village as we had movie vouchers. We saw Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. Good acting and Shia LaBeouf is attractive enough but it was a boring and very predictable movie and too long. School holidays limits your choice of movies.

Thursday, visit the Chinese Museum off Little Bourke Street. I had not been for over a decade. Interesting enough but I knew most of the history detail already. Excellent short film with a Chinese Australian lad being told why he should care for his Chinese heritage. Lunch at QV. Barbecue for Chainsaw Niece's eighteenth tonight, but I am not up to driving down to the swamps of Langwarrin.


This Reucassal comedian chappie from The Chaser is a bit of a hunk in my opinion. Clever too. Looks and cleverness. Would he have money too? Marry me. Alas, I think he already is to someone of the opposite sex. Oh well, his loss.

Here are a couple of snaps of him with some more revealing ones here.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Barangaroo #39

God save us. How much more nonsense can the proponents of the over development of Barangaroo come up with. From the Daily Terrograph.

ARCHITECTS and planners want higher towers at the Barangaroo redevelopment to prevent Sydney from becoming a short city.

Sydney has only one of the 10 tallest buildings in Australia - beaten by Melbourne, Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Perth to 10th place - with the 18-year-old Chifley tower up to 25 storeys shorter than its rivals.

Small-building syndrome has led to calls for the height of buildings at Barangaroo - which were slashed by 53m to 235m - to be reinstated.

Calls for taller towers at Barangaroo have divided Sydney, with at least 100 of the 202 submissions on the development against view-blocking towers.

Master planner Lord Richard Rogers said plans for the harbourside had to be bold to position Sydney among the truly great cities of the world.


Highriser raises his nose high, purses his lips and looks very haughty as he proclaims, 'I don't really think it is my sort of television channel'.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Eyes and ears

Yes, time to take Mother to the Eye and Ear for a check, once again. I will not take responsibility for Mother' s time keeping and so by the time we collected her, stopped on the way for her to buy some greeting cards, arrived at the Eye and Ear Hospital, she had lunch and drank her tea, she was late. Clearly she had gone to the bottom of the waiting list. She moaned, whined and complained and said we should just leave and come back another day. Given we had driven for two hours to collect her and get her to hospital, when I am not feeling too great and Sister was taking her home and staying the night, eventually I told her to stop. We had made a huge effort as was Sister, she was getting first class medical treatment for free and all she had to do was wait. If the wait was excessive, it was her fault for being 15 minutes late.

Eventually she saw one doctor and then had to wait to see another. Sister and Little Jo arrived and we hung around for a while and then as we left, Mother was called in to see another doctor. We thought that would be the end, but there must have been another doctor to see as Sister sent a text at 5.40 that they were just leaving, some four hours after the initial appointment time. I would suggest that it is a quite unreasonable time to spend there. I wonder how much her being late affected the waiting time.

While we children pay for her private health insurance, she is now nagging that she wants extras cover, even giving me a card with a contact person to speak to at the health fund. She wants the cover for chiropractic services, $23 per month to claim back $20 per chiropractor visit. Surely even she can see the false economy........well it not so false for her if we pay. Sister and I have decided not. Poor R, Mother lays it on so thickly to him and makes him feel very guilty and sorry for her. We kids don't take so much notice.

We pay her health insurance, her council rates, have promised to pay if a major appliance breaks down, bought her a new split system air conditioner and still she can't manage to live on a pension.

She complains she never goes anywhere but doctor appointments and yet Sister offered to take her the tulip farm tomorrow, so long as they could go at 9.30, but no, too early for Mother. To get out of the house by 11am is pushing it for her. We had an idea of taking her out next Sunday, but after today, I have gone quite cool on the idea. A little bit of Mother goes a long way.

Australian Traffic Network

ABC Melbourne uses one of its very personable producers in the morning to seek out traffic and public transport information so that listeners are alerted to problems, accidents, delays etc. ABC Melbourne used to do the same in the afternoon but suddenly, without any explanation that I heard, outsourced its afternoon traffic information to a private company called Australian Traffic Network.

It is probably a good move. ABC Melbourne depended heavily on Vic Roads for information and it seemed very unreliable and slow. I learnt of this new company a while ago and I was quite ready to be critical of the ABC decision, but after some time, I think they provide a superior but still a very personalised service. I have just checked and they are providing the service for ABC Sydney and many other ABC radio stations.

I always worry about our taxpayer funded ABC's connections with private companies and the potential of commercial interests coming to the fore, but in this case, on the surface it seems ok, although there doesn't seem to be a competitor to the Australian Traffic Network.

I would rest much easier if it was all a lot more transparent. What is the deal between the ABC and the Australian Traffic Network? What was the deal between ABC Melbourne and City Link so that their radio broadcast could be heard in the City Link's tunnels?

While I resigned as a member of our local gay radio station, JOY, over transparency and keeping members informed, I can't resign from the ABC, but I can ask and query.

Australian Traffic Network website is here if you want to take a look.

Monday, September 27, 2010

625,626, 627

A bus runs past the flat in the quiet street where our dyke friend is about to move into. I thought I noted that it was route 627 about which there have been complaints about its confusing route and just days after mentioning that a bus ran past our friends house, the route has been altered and divided into two other routes, 625 and 626.

While our friend has a car, she is well disposed to public transport and will certainly be catching the train to her city work place. She can also travel to Chadstone or Elsternwick on the 625 bus. I will advise her of this, but it is only a 30 minute service on weekdays and 60 minute on weekends. I can't see her using it to go to either Chadstone nor Elsternwick as the route is indirect, but I can see her catching it to Ormond Railway Station to catch the train if the bus service is reliable.

There is a little bit of a contretemps about the new routes, which you can read about here.

Happy 125 to Blackpool Trams

It is the 125th anniversary of English city of Blackpool's electric tram system, said to be the oldest electric system in the world. There is a week of festivities in Blackpool with tram parades, open tram depot and various other celebrations, all happening while the Blackpool Illuminations are underway.

Yes, I have travelled on a few of Blackpool's trams and they are great fun, although you could never think of them as a fast way to travel. The trams run from Starr Gate in the south, and travel along the coast through the main area of Blackpool and then on to northern town of Fleetwood where Brian hails from, a distance of eighteen kilometres.

Look, you can see the route on this simple map from Wikipedia.

Let us look as some of the trams that may be running during the celebrations. I have chosen them quite subjectively.

My photo of a Boat Tram at the Fleetwood Terminus and where the ferry to Ireland departs.

Its sister tram, with lights on while making a tour of the illuminations.

Boat trams used to come in an open version.

Or a double decker if you prefer.

It can come with a roof too. This is the basic Blackpool work horse tram known as a Balloon Car. There are more modern versions as well, such as the one one we rode in.

This is a Dreadnought tram, designed to move large crowds of beach goes. Photo by Caroline Matthews.

This is a Brush Rail Car. You can see Blackpool Tower in the background, having stood there since the 1890s. Photo courtesy Heaton Park Tramway in Manchester.

A much older Box Car.

And you can't see anything from me about Blackpool Trams without seeing once again a photo of a Jubilee Car fighting heavy seas. Wave mitigation work on the sea front means it will be unlikely that this scene will ever happen again, I stress unlikely. I suppose it is progress, but rather spoiling fun.

Blackpool Tram Events
Fylde Tramway Society
Lancastrian Transport Trust
Blackpool Transport
Blackpool Trams Info
Heaton Park Tramway

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I ain't no Virgin

Ha, I know all about computers. Sometimes they go wrong. Much to R's chagrin I kept our old working bits box in the spare room wardrobe until he became sick of it taking up space, so I made space in my own wardrobe and moved it there. It is not so critical now, since he has a laptop, but I kept it as a spare in case this one breaks down. No, not if, when. I know it will one day, and I will get the old one out and it will work. You won't even notice a gap in blog posts or emails.

As I said, I know all I need to know about computers, that is they are not trustworthy, and that is why I keep the old one as a spare and I back stuffs up very often.

Not so our airlines who seem to know less about computers than I do. Australia's Virgin Airline's computerised check in system went down today and has and still is causing massive inconvenience to tens of thousands of people.

I recall writing something similar in the past about another local airline when their system went down.

Again I say, I know all about computers and if you need to stay online without interruption, you need another computer for when yours breaks down. If I was really serious I would have another internet line, connected to another phone system, connected to another isp. If millions of dollars depended on it, I would certainly do something along these lines. If the check in system went down, I would just switch over to the other back up one. It just can't be too hard.

Around home

Last Sunday we met up with our dyke friend who is separating from her girlfriend. I doubt your memory is that good, mine isn't, but the night before we dined with her at the Elsternwick Bowling Club for her birthday. Some time ago she bought a flat in Ormond and she will move into it after it is renovated. I noticed her quiet street it is a bus route. I must investigate. We met at her flat to 'check it out' and then went off for breakfast in Elsternwick. Her ex came with us. We had a nice Sunday brunch and dyke friend's ex pointed out a shop she liked. Once we entered we knew we had been here a couple of times before. We came out nearly $50 lighter, having bought a new steamer cooking basket for inside pots and a battery operated knife sharpener. I sharpen our knives with a hand held one and it is dangerous. I slipped once but did not do damage but I just know eventually I will slice a finger off. The new sharpener works well. I am pleased.

This plant sends up new leaves as a single spike and then slowly it forms into a full leaf. The switch for the quite ugly lamp is down low and behind the cupboard so much to the amusement of visitors, we switch the lamp on and off by screwing the bulb in and out. To even screw the bulb we must fight through the plant. It is growing and making the lamp bulb harder and harder to get to.

Remember back earlier this year when everything in the high rise was breaking down? Dishwasher, tv, clothes dryer, hot plate igniter button and range hood lights. All had been fixed except for the range hood lights. There was no branding on the range hood and only some Italian writing. The repair person took out the light and fan control unit and noted it had failed. Yes, I kind of knew that. New part was ordered, but the part order failed. The range hood is over ten years old and parts were not to be found. High rise developers buy what they can as cheaply as possible, often sourced from overseas. They order extra to use for parts, but once these are gone, you are screwed. The search for the part went on for months until eventually the company called it quits and suggested we need a new range hood. What? The range hood lights don't work and we need to buy a whole new unit. We had managed without the range hood lights for quite some time, but we both readily agreed we needed them, so for $430 in total, we have a new range hood. Pull out the slide and little and the lights come on, pull out more, fan speed one, pull out more, fan speed two, and then three. I liked the old one with a variable speed slider switch and a light on/off switch. The new is very noisy on even the lowest speed. In its defence, it sucks well, and who could complain about that. It is a lot easier to clean too.

Stickers stuck on the mirror wardrobe by Little Jo in the spare room do not worry me at. I don't have to clean the mirrors.