Saturday, February 12, 2011

Kulula Airlines

Have you not received the Kulula viral email? I did take twenty seconds to check if Kulula Airlines was ridgy didge, and it seems to be.

I am even more sceptical about the on board announcements, but hey, they are diverting if you are forced into travelling on the worst method of travel ever invented by womankind. After the photos there are a few of the announcements. I don't know what the formatting will be like, but fingers crossed.

"People, people we're not picking out furniture here, find a seat and get in it!"

"Ladies and gentlemen, we've reached cruising altitude and we will be turning down the cabin lights. This is for your comfort and to enhance the appearance of your flight attendants."

"To operate your seat belt, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and pull tight. It works just like every other seat belt; and, if you don't know how to operate one, you probably shouldn't be out in public unsupervised."

"In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, masks will descend from the ceiling. Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face. If you have a small child travelling with you, secure your mask before assisting with theirs. If you are travelling with more than one small child, pick your favourite."

"Your seats cushions can be used for flotation; and in the event of an emergency water landing, please paddle to shore and take them with our compliments."

"We'd like to thank you folks for flying with us today.. And, the next time you get the insane urge to go blasting through the skies in a pressurised metal tube, we hope you'll think of Kulula Airways."

"Ladies and gentlemen, if you wish to smoke, the smoking section on this airplane is on the wing. If you can light 'em, you can smoke 'em."

"As you exit the plane, make sure to gather all of your belongings.
Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. Please do not leave children or spouses."

Annual Jump up and Down

This is becoming a monotonously annual pout. Chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission criticises Melbourne Airport for their usurious parking charges. Might I suggest that he does something about it instead of appearing in annual media conferences?

Some wicked people avoid Melbourne Airport's rip off parking charges by parking on the side of a freeway and waiting for a phone call to come and collect whoever is arriving and they are to meet.

Well, our Vic Roads is ensuring that Melbourne Airport's parking profits continue to flow by putting a chain fence along the freeway that will prevent parking.

Of course there is a new bus route that calls in to the airport, but before you think of catching that and again endangering Melbourne Airport's mega parking profits, consider the walk. As reported in reliable media, Melbourne Airport requested that the bus not be stopped in a place convenient to travellers, but a good ten minute walk away. A ten minute walk for a fit person with luggage might be ok, but it is not for everyone. Ben has more detail on the inconvenient bus at the airport here.

There is always the glimmer of hope that we may one day get a train line to the airport built, but of course it will no doubt be set up like Sydney's where it is almost cheaper for a single person to get a taxi that pay for the train.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Smug? Me?

Andrew: Mr Highriser, you have intimated in the past that ex Planning Minister Madden might not be of such good character. Could you respond?

Mr Highriser: I can respond, but let me assure you, I have never impugned Justin Madden's character, honesty, incorruptibility or his basic decency as a human being. He made courageous decisions for the right reasons and benefit of our metropolis and state, and I am terribly sad that he is being judged and pilloried by so many, including the merciless media. Now let the poor defenceless man alone and me too as I am busy fund raising for a chappie who has difficulty hearing when more than one person is talking. How much is a hearing aid then?


I can't recall why, but today had me looking at information about the fire at London's Kings Cross Station. It was in 1987 and thirty one people were killed. Essentially it was caused by a dropped lit match down beside a timber escalator which ignited a build up of grease and other flammable material. Quite predictable and the fire could have easily been prevented by enforcing no smoking bans and keeping the underside of escalators clean. What wasn't known about was the 'trench effect' where fire could burn on a 30 degree angle. Add this to odd ventilation air currents, solvent based paint, the tube air pressure from trains and the fire engulfed a ticket hall resulting in the disaster the fire became.

Another fire disaster, also in England, happened during a football/soccer match in Bradford in 1985. Again it was predictable, principally caused by an accumulation of rubbish under an old timber grandstand. I recall seeing this, a video fruitlessly restricted, on a work training course. I can't recall the relevance to my work, but it was pretty horrifying. A bit of reading tells me most of the 56 who died did so because of locked exits, turnstiles and fences. The fire took only four minutes to engulf the stand.

Fire really scares me. Not so much bush fires. You get some warning about them if you have your wits about you. No, it is the random, the bad luck, the trapped in a confined area, the ones where authorities are supposed to protect you but have let you down. These are the ones I fear.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Origin Tips

To show us they care about how high Origin have whacked up our electric bills, they have offered tips for us to reduce consumption.

It starts with the bleeding obvious and goes downhill from there.

Get your kids to turn off unused lights and appliances. Well, with many kids probably in a blind panic about the earth that we have screwed up and are about to pass on to them, I doubt many haven't picked up this up.

Use a floor lamp in your living room, instead of having downlights on. One floor lamp might work in a tiny lounge room, but I think you may need a bit more than one to even dully light a normal room.

When drying clothes or a clothes horse over a ducted heating vent, cover the washing with a sheet to make a tent and hasten drying. Ok, but how is that going to save money? The clothes dry more quickly, yes, but do you have your heating on just to dry clothes?

Tape down light switches that you can do without to stop them being used. That is a bit Hitler like. Might I suggest that if you can do without them, remove the globes or were they really necessary in the first place? If you can do without them, why switch them on?

A note on your front door to remind you to turn off the heating and other appliances you may have left on standby. You have your heating on standby? What does that entail? You have put kindling over the top of newspaper and have matches nearby? Much modern tech stuff, including tvs and digital recorders really dislike being turned off at the wall. They are inclined to forget things.

Wrap your external hot water pipes to keep water warm in the pipes. I believe that has been a plumbing requirement for decades. We wrapped with lagging, then asbestos, then foam wrapped in plastic. If yours aren't wrapped, you should have a good claim on the plumber who installed the pipes.

Meanwhile our many foreign owned electric companies raise their prices sky high so that they can give a good profit return to their overseas shareholders. Nice work Jeff Kennett. Nice work Labor government for not stopping this rip off of everyone.

Mr Rabbit done wrong

I know politicians are smart, otherwise they wouldn't have the jobs they have but honestly, are they so bright at times?

I don't care what language out Opposition Leader Mr Abbott uses in private, but he wasn't in private when chatting to some US Army staff. He was being filmed and recorded. Without being twee about it, it is not exactly the language an aspiring Prime Minister ought to use in public. At least God Gough would have used the Latin.

Yes, we all know there is a cozy relationship between the Liberal Party and our armed services. No need for Abbott to publicly exhibit being one of the boys. I prefer my Prime Ministers to behave with dignity.

Now, what were Abbott's staff doing to leave him without words to respond to what was known to be coming?

Even if he wasn't armed with words with which to respond, what sort of response was the one he gave? Silence that he hoped would end up on the cutting room floor? Not on your nellie and it made great television viewing.

Was he really struggling to control his anger? It looked like it and I venture that he was very close to snapping.

While our Prime Minister may not have a red button such as there supposedly is in the Pentagon and the Kremlin, I would like to think our Prime Minister can cope with provocation by a tabloid television news reporter, never mind provocation by a large power off our shores.

Proven to be unfit as Her Majesty's Opposition Leader. Ditch him.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Mrs Hederson Presents

If you asked me have I ever missed anything thing Dame Judith Dench has been seen in in Australia, I would have said probably not. Yet, I had missed Mrs Henderson Presents. I just finished watching it today after recording it from the television. It was a movie written for her. The first half was especially full of snappy one liners and retorts and I hardly stopped grinning.

It was not a movie to win a grand award. It was a simple story told very well.

There now, I am up to date with all movie posts. OMG, I am up to 3 movies for 2011. I think it was only one for all of 2010.

This is Australia

Is it typical of Australia? Certainly it fairly typical of many Australia's Australia. Certainly mine. I stumbled across a little gem of a tv on SBS show called The Late Session.

It was a dinner party hosted by the rather attractive Waleed Aly, born a Muslim Egyptian and while he is a practising Muslim, his religion doesn't stop him from fully participating, perhaps over participating in Australian life. He lectures, writes, broadcasts, has tv shows, is knowledgeable about sport. A high achiever for sure.

His guests were just as diverse. The gorgeous, satirist, funny and competent in many areas, Jewish Libbi Gorr. I just adore her.

How much poorer might Australia be if it wasn't for the arrival to our shores from Malaysia of Mr 'Why are people so unkind' Kamahl. He is always entertaining and a talented singer even at his age of 76.

Ross Wilson, a talented musician, originally from the group Daddy Cool but he has achieved much musically since those Daddy Cool days. One blogmate knows a bit or two about him.

I don't know much about self described Gaysian, Ben Law. I may have heard him on Life Matters. He is quite an amusing guy, of Chinese born parents. While butter may look as if it wouldn't melt in his mouth, he is an accomplished writer and journalist.

But the peace de resistance had to be Jenny Kee. I was aware of her in the eighties, mainly for fashion. I had no idea she had such an interesting past. In her teens she was a successful groupie, with a notches in her belt for a Beatle and a Rolling Stone among other rich and famous. She was born in Bondi to a Chinese father and a part Italian mother and went on to be part of London's swinging sixties.

This would have made a good Australia Day show as it is a reflection of the Australia we would like to think we are.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The Commitment Project

I am not sure where I came across this website. If one of you pointed me in the direction, I thank you.

The most remarkable thing about the people featured on the site is that they are not remarkable. Just average guys and gals who have committed to each other and have been together longer than the average heterosexual marriage lasts, 8.8 years.

The Commitment Project

Sticking with the Melways

My workplace is situated in a dead end street. It wasn't always so, but several years ago it became a dead end street. I was outside my workplace on the footpath chatting to a workmate when a very large truck with a trailer pulled into the street. 'Mate, my sat nav told me to turn down here. Are there any exits from here?' 'Only down that lane', I replied as I indicated a lane that was clearly too narrow for the large truck.

I had work to do and no intention of guiding a truck reversing out of the street. I bolted. I think I'll hold off on a sat nav for a bit yet. I've heard too many stories. The technology seems a wee bit flawed.

Cracking Up

Remember the window that cracked after we had the windows tinted? It became progressively worse. It was before christmas. R dealt with it mostly as he was on holidays. Of course there were the missed appointments and other botheration. What ever goes smoothly? The body corporate insurance paid. Mid January we had a new window and a week later we had the window retinted.


All parties involved are very concerned. I think the glass company has offered to replace the glass for no cost. The body corporate manager is playing her usual games. The tint company will retint for no cost. But we don't want it happening a third time. It is more than we could cope with. So, a representative from the manufacturer of the tint film is coming to have a look. Of course we care that his house got flooded and he had to cancel an appointment. Of course we care that he had the assessors visiting and had to cancel another appointment. We are just resigned to it being a very slow process.

In the above first two photos of the old crack, you can see how it became worse. The new crack is now much worse than it appears in this photo. So far no one has mentioned the air con unit that blows hot air onto the glass and had been just switched on before the cracks happened. I wonder if an Einstein will pick up that pretty obvious cause.


I believe this is part of the old Macrobertson confectionery factory in Collingwood. There is more than one building. It must have been a huge complex. Some have been turned into housing. I was looking down Macrobertson Lane and I wondered what these port holes would have been used for?

Monday, February 07, 2011

$18 Million Mortgages? How's that work then?

Amid fire, flood, cyclones and pestilence (what happened to the locust plague? Have they all drownded?), I can still find pleasurable schadenfreude style reading in our online newspapers. What a ripper tale from Sydney's Bondi Beach. Google's street view camera hasn't been along the street apparently. Pity. From the Sydney Morning Herald.

A Federal Court post-mortem is the latest stage in a society saga, writes Vanda Carson.

It's not how prestige developer Gary Baker and his wife, fashion queen Karin Upton Baker, would like to be remembered. But the society couple's financial woes have made their story a cautionary tale for Sydney's top end of town.

Mr Baker is facing bankruptcy and the family is facing eviction from its Elizabeth Bay home after the dream development project overlooking Bondi Beach turned into a nightmare. It left the couple unable to pay mortgages of $18 million and facing a series of legal battles.

A post-mortem on how it all came undone was held in the Federal Court this week, providing insights into the couple's personal finances as well as the high-stakes world of Sydney prestige real estate development.

It is a world where generous property valuations are worth their weight in gold, as they can support higher bank borrowings. It is also a world where prices rise fast - and sink even faster when credit dries up.

The examination by the liquidator of one of Mr Baker's companies heard that the couple borrowed more than $10 million in 2006 as part of a risky development proposition in Bondi.

They planned to use the funds to buy the eight apartments at 6 Notts Avenue, a rundown 1963 building with postcard views of Bondi Beach.

The glamorous couple, usually seen rubbing shoulders with Sydney's elite, hoped to turn a quick profit by capitalising on growing demand for luxurious apartments thanks to an influx of new money into the trendy suburb.

The beachside strip is home to the former David Jones boss, Mark McInnes. The cricketer Michael Clarke and his then fiancee, Lara Bingle, lived there.

They hoped to transform the worst building on the best street into one to rival its polished neighbours.

The signs were promising - a neighbouring penthouse had sold for $9 million and on the other side is the Pacific Terraces building, a prestige apartment block that was once home to the billionaire James Packer and whose residents now include the fashion designer Nikki Zimmerman.

But the couple's plans were stymied when they were unable to get three of the owners in the building to sell for the right price. The Bakers were left holding five apartments in the block. Without ownership of the entire building, their development was unfeasible and they were stuck with a loan they could not repay or refinance.

Mr Baker recounted details of the immense pressure he was under as the couple's property empire crumbled.

In July 2008, Mr Baker said he was desperate to refinance his loans, which were due to be repaid to lender Challenger.

''I was running around town looking for money,'' he told the hearing.

Mr Baker had used a favourable $5.75 million valuation by LandMark White to show to other lenders - something that senior valuer Bill Fatouros had opposed.

''I've had enough of this f---ing bulls---,'' Mr Fatouros is alleged to have yelled at Mr Baker.

Mr Baker said Mr Fatouros ''flew off the handle'', slamming his hands down on a table and screaming at him, when Mr Baker tried to convince him to allow him to use the valuation.

''Bill was going off his brain,'' Mr Baker said.

''From that day on my relationship with Bill soured.

Another LandMark White valuer, Danny Sukkar, gave the rundown ground-floor apartment in the building the $5.75 million estimate.

The valuation was made as if the apartment had already been revamped into a luxury beach pad - and not on its decaying state. When the lender foreclosed, it sold for just $1.5 million.

Counsel for the liquidator, Michael Elliott, suggested the inflated valuations of the apartments just metres from the beach, Icebergs and Mr Packer's Bondi pad may have been the result of using inappropriate methods, a claim denied by Mr Sukkar and Mr Fatouros.

By having apartments valued on the basis that they were a ''development site'' - even before the Bakers controlled the whole building - the couple were able to borrow more than if they had been valued ''as is''.

More than two years on, it has emerged that the 47-year-old building more closely resembles the house in the Tom Hanks movie The Money Pit than its luxurious neighbours. Mr Baker, who wore a Hermes tie and belt for his appearance in the witness box, said the building was riddled with concrete cancer and the front of it was ''collapsing'', according to a geotechnical engineering report.

The saga has a way to run yet, with Mrs Baker now suing LandMark White, claiming Mr Sukkar negligently inflated the value of four oceanfront Bondi properties by millions of dollars, which left her saddled with debts she could not repay.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Pride March

While I am slaving away in the salt mines for a few lousy coppers, Household Management misses me terribly and finds it quite difficult to entertain himself.