Saturday, December 25, 2010

Mother's Petunias

For about three decades Mother has always planted petunias to bloom by christmas along her front fence, alternating red and white.

When she and late stepfather no longer wanted to maintain a year long bed of annuals along the front fence, the petunias were grown in pots and placed along the front fence.

I felt quite sad when I noticed there were no potted petunias along her front fence this year. I didn't say anything.

The immediate family will gather at Sister's house on the Bellarine Peninsula for christmas dinner. We will stay a couple of nights. It is proposed we catch the Sorrento ferry on Boxing Day to visit Sis in Law on the other side of the bay, but given we have a Boxing night dinner with friends arranged, it might just be a bit too much in one day. Rather depends on Mother, as she refuses to go on the ferry again.

Best seasons wishes to you all.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Donald Where's your Troosers

Now't like a bit of Scottish music. R's workmate and Scottish born friend Agnes Peaston (should I write a life and times of Agnes post? Maybe some rels will come across it) lived in Punt Road at a block of flats called Cremorne Court. It is between the river and Swan Street. She was a hoarder, so when she moved to her purchased flat in Murumbeena, we had a lot of cleaning out to do. She even had books piled up in her lav. At my birthday barbecue when we lived in Glen Iris, R had to bolt to let the police into her flat to remove her body. I am sure she was found with a book in her hand. I was not an experienced barbecue person but I tried to finish off what R had started. To this day I am still surprised that a gas barbecue can become a flaming inferno that can scorch the house eaves.

I expect it was when we helped her to move that we inherited a cassette tape from her that had this song on it. It amused me. If you don't want to listen to the whole thing, go to about 1.40 where there is a bit more than just a tempo change.

But in case you think I have totally lost it, here is a nice piece of music I came across while watching an unrelated you choob video. It begins a bit doof doof but improves as more 'instruments' are brought in.

Later edit: I just thought I might put the track on a cd to listen to in the car. But it is so long since I have done anything like that, I have forgotten how to borrow You choob music. What was it? Stick kiss in front of the url, download, burn it to a cd. Maybe I'll just get it from Napster.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


I don't have to go out and troll the streets like Victor and Julie. I can see four jacaranda trees from my balcony. Maybe if you click on the pic you can see them.

Ok, I wasn't trolling the streets. It was my monthly night to cook and while household management had told me there were spring onions, a fruitless search of the fridge crisper told me otherwise. I punished household management by forcing him to walk with me to the corner of Park Street and Domain Road to buy spring onions, top at your left of the photo. Ok, I am not so unkind. I bought him an Asahi and we watched the South Yarra glitterati pass by. Oh look, said household management, a nice jacaranda. And so it was.

My Store Myer

A trip into town. Actually I think I or we have been into town every second day of late. Of course the day I wanted to take photos, I had to use my phone camera having forgotten my camera.

DJ's wreaths upon its building look very nice.

The normally miserly Andrew gave this person a dollar. His hand move slightly to acknowledge thanks.

Good that we took Little Jo to see the christmas window display a couple of weeks ago. The queue was a mile long. That is not fun or pleasure.

Myer Bourke Street is now open to the heavens. Myer Lonsdale Street will close post Boxing Day sales, methinks.

My photo does not catch the beauty of the Art Deco style lifts. They look fantastic. Along with the lift driving handle, so too has the lift driver disappeared.

No, I was not standing on a ledge to take this photo. The new Myer has a window or two. The verandah roof was looking a bit messy, but isn't the whole building going to be demolished? I was looking across Little Bourke Street to the Lonsdale Street store, mostly now vacant. Note where the pedestrian bridges linking the two buildings have been removed.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

ABC Podcasts

The regular radio presenters have bashed off on holidays, and we are now with national programming for much of the time. I have to hear the opines of Mildred in Baulkham Hills, Sydney and Stan in Humpty Doo. Very character building.

It was interesting to me to recently read that podcasts saved ABC's Radio National. Possibly they have. When the shows go to air, it would be rare for me to hear them live. But, I can download them all as podcasts and listen to them at my convenience. I knocked off one and a half hours of them today. I keep up with them all, Rear Vision, Hindsight, Verbatim, Health Report, Science Show, Law Report, 360 Docs. Occasionally even Religion Report.

One of the shows did not put up a downloadable podcast until I sent them an enote. Now another has not. How hard can it be? Get your act together Verbatim. I want to hear about Ian McPhee.

Much as I would be pleased to hear him on air, I expect I will be snoring loudly when James can be heard on air.

Our ABC has amused and entertained me for another year. I thank you all, especially ABC Melbourne radio.

What is it? Solution

I need to add a shrieking sound as used on Stephen Fry's Q & I when someone states an obvious answer and they are wrong. What do you reckon this odd looking thing is?

Solution: While such a device would normally be found in a tram to control power to the motors, in this case in a bank of several, it controlled Sydney's swinging span Pyrmont Bridge. Pyrmont Bridge at Darling Harbour is the worlds oldest swinging bridge, 108 years old, and while Sydney's streets were not yet lit with electricity, Pyrmont Bridge was electrically operated.

This is going to hurt, the hip pocket

This was getting near the end of a post I wrote but the post was just not working and so I have deleted it. It was about us selling our investment flat and having to pay capital gains tax on the profit. We always did everything by the book and as a consequence, we now both have a decent amount of tax to pay. We could have easily rorted the system and avoided the capital gains tax by officially leaving it empty for a year and saying we or one of us lived there for that period. And of course let to someone unofficially. That would have led to us saving tax dollars of a five figure amount. I am pleased I am not of the character to cheat on tax, but I also think I am stupid.

Investment properties are such a rort. Your home hot water service breaks down? Book it with your friendly plumber to your investment property and make it tax deductible or depreciable. Boy can a good tax accountant do marvellous things with depreciation of assets.

I've not heard any politician propose to stamp out rorts on investment properties. Maybe that is because so many people have them and rort the tax system.

When one person learns of another rorting the tax system, they think to themselves, 'Why shouldn't I?' It puts the tax system at risk and of course 'pay as you earn' taxpayers begrudging paying their tax because they cannot avoid tax like the wealthier members of society.

Written 03/09/10

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Permanent Newspaper

The permanent newspaper was an idea of comedian Jane Clifton. Well, maybe she stole it from someone as I am doing so from her. I'll just keep republishing and redating as I add new items, or as you add new items in comments.

Let us start with politics.

Deputy Prime Minister says she has full confidence in the Prime Minister and has no leadership ambitions. (and we all know what follows)

Police. Crime statistics show a drop in crime in the state. (Is that per head or percentage? Maybe we have given up reporting crimes)

Public transport. Over the next twelve months you can expect to see huge improvements. (I'd rather go backwards to the 1950s when the service was faster and more reliable)

Roads. This new freeway will solve our traffic problems.

Written 15/08/10

Later update:

More for the permanent newspaper.

We have already had the fire warning. It either goes, we have had lots of rain and the undergrowth will be thick and give a high fuel load, or the bush is very dry due to the lack of rain. Year in, year out, the fire authorities will tell us one of either.

Pending is Chadstone shopping centre twenty four hour opening pre christmas being reported on television news. There will be shots of people shopping for christmas presents at 3am, sadly dragging their out of routine kiddies with them. Fkn idjits.

Another remote

The collection of remote control beasts just keeps on growing. I am guessing it is about two and a half years since we bought our Topfield PVR, a digital television recorder. It was troublesome from the start in a chicken and egg way. The problems were endless. We found it best to just leave it on, as it often failed to start. But by leaving it on, it ran very hot and failed in other areas.

Almost against better judgement, R bought a single tuner Topfield PVR for his bedroom tv. It worked well for a long time, but then it started to play up. I am sure I have written about all this in the past. His PVR was playing up because it was too hot because it sat on a dvd recorder below which generated heat. We had thought we had sorted the problem by switching the dvd recorder off, but no. Even in standby it was generating heat, so we unplugged the power lead and all has been well with R's PVR.

Meanwhile the original Topfield machine has continued to problematic. I called Topfield and asked what they could do for us and their defective product. The lad spoke nice words, but nothing happened.

Yesterday we spied a Topfield recorder in Dick Smith that seemed to be equivalent to our machine which cost $700. The new one was for sale at $500. Gung ho R wanted to buy it straight away. I pleaded to just give me some time to check it out on the net. I spent some time doing so and the only difference I could see was that it did not do picture in picture. We used that facility once I think.

While I was happy with the price, I thought I should check out the opposition. Myer had reduced the same machine from $699 to to $560. Similar but not quite as good machine at Good Guys Brighton for the same price.

I took coffee at the outdoor Viet/Thai place opposite the town hall and considered. I flicked through their complimentary newspaper that had a feature on bargaining. I went to the bank and withdrew five hundred dollars so I could say I will pay cash. Dickie Smith bloke was ready to discount an extended warranty, or a reduced price HDMI cable, but no the price is as it is. But between yesterday and today the price at Dick Smith had dropped to $444.

I bought and unlike the old Toppy, the new one just works, brilliantly. The old one looks nicer and you can adjust the skip forward or back individually, and no pic in pic, but otherwise the new one is great and a considerable refinement on the old.

I am not sure what I will do with the old one. There is some stuffs on it that I want to keep, so I guess I will have to get an external hard drive to transfer it.

Those Photos

I knew one day I would find Twitter useful, even if it was only to find a couple of pictures.

Town Hall

I was waiting for an appropriate tram at Melbourne's Town Hall. I must have been in a very choosy mood about what tram I would catch. I think I wanted an air con old articulated tram that has the best air conditioning but settled for an air con non crowded rough as bags imported from Germany tram which wasn't going to St Kilda, and so I had time to point the camera a footpath, mostly. The footpath inlays are rather nice.

Originally written 30/10/10.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The best lube

Me? Promote a commercial company? An American commercial company? Yep, this is their wonder product Ezy Glide. It is a silicon based lubricant, its main feature being that it is not oily or greasy and so does not attract dirt.

I use it on locks, sliding door runners, drawers, Little Jo's spinning top spiral, hinges, the car and more. It comes with a fine plastic tube that plugs into the spray head to get lubricant into those difficult to reach places.

If you need to lubricate, I highly recommend Ezy Glide.

Sydney, Rozelle Tram Depot, A brief history

Victor kindly pointed out a blog post to me but I did already know a little about Rozelle tram depot. At the bottom of this post you can see a photo of what the depot looks like now. I have been advised that it is considerably tidier than it was before it was used for some photo shoots, a couple of dance parties and as a background for 'If you think you can dance' promos.

One source tells me the depot is owned by Sydney City Council, another that it is owned by the NSW Harness Racing Club who obviously would own the adjacent Harold Park racecourse.

Let us go back. Construction of the depot was completed in 1904 and the depot became an operational tram depot for electric trams. It was enlarged in 1909. The trams serviced the Leichardt tram line and later the Abbotsford line as it was converted from steam tram to electric and extended. It also assisted with the supply of trams for Balmain and Drummoyne lines, the latter later extended to Ryde. It was all hands on deck when there was racing at Harold Park and nearby boat races. The depot closed when its tram lines were closed in 1958.

I seem to recall that it was used as a bus depot for a while, but I can't confirm that.

October, 2008, ABC Online (includes the tram depot)

Sydney's historic Harold Park trotting track at Glebe is up for sale.

The New South Wales Harness Racing Club plans to make Menangle Park in Sydney's south-west its new headquarters.

Chief executive John Dumesny says it is becoming harder to bring horses into the city.

"The inner-city is rather congested with traffic and when you are pulling a horse float with valuable livestock on the back it does become difficult and the horses do become unsettled," he said.

Mr Dumesny says the land will not be sold for anything less than $150 million.

"It's not an unrealistic figure. Were sitting on 27 acres, or 11 hectares, of property here right here in the city," he said.

"It's the biggest freehold parcel of land available."

April 2009, Sydney Morning Herald

It's a real mess," said Howard Clark, chairman of the Sydney Tramway Society, which owns five of the trams.

The depot site, set alongside parklands, is owned by the NSW Harness Racing Club, which bought it in two lots from the Roads and Traffic Authority for a reported $2.3 million.

Development proposals that included multi-storey apartments, car parking and commercial studios were submitted in 2005 but ran into opposition from residents.

May 2009, Sydney Morning Herald (how do you steal a tram?)

SYDNEY tram enthusiasts have issued an appeal for help in a last-ditch attempt to save six heavily vandalised historic trams left to rot in the derelict former Rozelle depot in Glebe.
Unforgivably, he explained, they include the most historic of Sydney trams: No. R1 1995, which was the last to run, in February 1961, to La Perouse, before entering the Randwick workshops to be sold or scrapped.

Bought by a Southern Highlands farmer, R1 1995 served as a haystore and shearing shed at Joadja for several years before being brought back to Sydney. It was restored and put into work on a tourist line at Port Kembla. Its next stop was a Newcastle tramway museum, from where it was stolen. On being recovered, it was used in Hay Street by the city council to promote the opening of the new light railway, before being returned to the depot.

August 2010, ABC Online (oh god no, not a working party)

The City of Sydney Council has created a working party to explore new uses for six trams that have been housed at the former Rozelle depot since 1995.

September 2010, source unknown (I forgot to note it, ok! And WhereTF is Menangle)

Harold Park Raceway will go on the market for development today, bringing Sydney's newest inner-city, high-density suburb one step closer.

The NSW Harness Racing Club will call for expressions of interest for the 11-hectare site after the club agreed to planning rules put forward by the City of Sydney and the Central Sydney Planning Committee.

Though the agreement is yet to be formally endorsed, the draft planning controls include that 35 per cent of the site be set aside for public open space while the rest provides dwellings for thousands of residents in buildings up to eight storeys high.

About 1200 residential dwellings are expected to be built on the site, plus a 5000 sq m building for affordable housing. Under the draft plans, the tram sheds will be converted for a mix of community and commercial uses.

Councillors voted on Friday to endorse the plans and give the go-ahead for a draft planning agreement to be drawn up and exhibited with a planning proposal.

At Friday's meeting, the lord mayor, Clover Moore, said the controls achieved a balance between ''community needs and amenity, while helping the city to meet residential and worker targets set by the state government and by Sustainable Sydney 2030''.

Councillor Chris Harris said he and fellow Greens councillor Irene Doutney did not support the plans because they felt eight storeys was too high, the development could cause traffic problems, and they feared that the tram sheds may become a supermarket.

Leichhardt's mayor, Jamie Parker, has also raised objections, saying the density will be equivalent to dropping a ''new suburb'' on the site.

The racing club's activities will be moved to Tabcorp Park at Menangle.

A University of Sydney spokesman said it was still interested in the site for student housing.

17th December 2010, ABC Online

Thousands of fans of harness racing are expected to turn out tonight for the final night of racing at Harold Park Paceway in Sydney's inner west.

The property developer Mirvac won the rights to develop the Glebe site into a residential area.

Racing started at the track in 1902 and by the 1940's huge crowds turned out for night racing.

In 1960 a world record crowd of more than 50,000 watched the Inter Dominion final.

Redevelopment work is expected to start on the site in 2012.

And so ends a significant slice of Sydney's tram and horse racing history.

As for other Sydney tram depots, you can stick that in comments. From memory, Rockdale Depot was about to be demolished a year or so ago. Waverly Depot is now a bus depot. Dowling Street Depot is where Moore Park Supa Centre now sits. Leichhardt Depot became a bus depot. Ultimo Depot became Powerhouse Museum. Randwick Tramway Workshops became smart apartments. Bridge Street depot in the city became government offices. Fort Macquarie depot, the mega tram depot to end all tram depots, was where Sydney Opera House now sits. North shore depot in Military Road, Manly lines etc, no idea. Rushcutters Bay depot, over to you Victor. Now, I must have missed one or two.

Pics from Sydney Morning Herald. Maybe all that paint will have preserved the timber underneath. That is a seriously erect pole on one tram?

R1 class tram 1995, the last tram to officially run in Sydney being transported to the Depot. Its last run was to La Perouse. Our ex NT policeman/politician friend can recall being taken for a tram ride to La Perouse by his recently deceased mother.

Sydney tram staff took pride in the appearance of their tram depots, certainly at Dowling Street and as this photo by Mr E. Skiller illustrates, Rozelle Depot did too.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Not so smart meters

I don't know whether we have a smart meter or not yet. Our electric meters are locked away in the service rooms on each level. I understand they are read from a central point, either in the building or remotely. So how is a smart meter going to benefit me and why should I pay for one?

Just another reason to hate the previous state government.

Leads me to wonder if the service rooms should be locked? I can see reasons for it. There is telecommunication equipment in there and so anyone with a grudge could cut our phone and innernet connections. But also in there are the water stop cocks for both hot and cold water. What if we were leaking badly and needed to use the cocks? It is not unimaginable that we might need to manipulate our own cocks and we should have free access to them. At night it could be half an hour before we could get our security company to give our cocks an anti clockwise twist and shut off our leak or flood even. Yeah, along with access to our meter, I think we need to be able to access our cocks in an emergency.

Oh yes, we don't have a problem with gas. We can easily access that cock in a kitchen cupboard. It just seems so sensible to have cocks in your kitchen cupboards. We close the gas cock off when we are away for a bit. Rather than in the external service room, the more cocks you can have internally, the better.