Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Wanted

Being of a somewhat well read, educated and intellectual bent, I do like to research the subjects of my writing. I just saw a new boy band on tv. The last boy band I researched was either Take That or Boyzone. I have given equal attention to detail to this latest mark in planet Earth's history. Search results are below, and you have all the information you need. There is no requirement for thanks. I do this as a public service to educate those who are less well schooled than I.

Clearing Photos 2

Hawthorn railway station. Most of the arches are bricked up and from memory the remaining couple have a fence across them. At some time they must have open. Why? Did they give access to the outside street? Could people just wander across the tracks? Speaking of wandering across tracks, note the alert sign in Daniel's photo of the Bentleigh Station pedestrian crossing. Don't walk symbol, another train coming alert, closed gates and yet still a mature woman was cleaned up there earlier this week. God save us from some people because they can't even save themselves.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Clearing Photos 1

For once I only have a backlog of posts of about ten. But I do have a backlog of photos that I have resized and dragged into the Blogpost folder. One a day, until I catch up.

Bit hard to make out but this busker is pretending to be strap hanging on a train. He had all the movements down pat. There have been some very entertaining performance buskers in the city of late. Much better than second rate music.

Damn Statistics

The figure for usage of Mikey cards for suburban public transport is very low, we are told. Who am I to argue with statistics? Perhaps a break down should be published.

Today I caught a 216 bus, tram 78, 16, 16, 64, bus 219, tram 72 and all I saw using Metcards were a family of tourists, one older man and a pair of, at a guess by their accents and location, English backpackers. All the rest used Myki cards. Is the area I was travelling in? Is it that train travellers aren't using Myki and brings the statistics down?

All very puzzling to me. Surely there wouldn't be a vested interest in having a falsely low usage figure would there?

As an aside, all machines worked fine, except for one slow reader on a bus. Boarding and alighting points in red. Should I become a graphic artist? My sketch is clear to me, but if you like, St Kilda Road, Commercial Road pause, get haircut, Chapel Street pause, get fresh coffee, Carlisle Street/Esplanade pause, take important photo, Fitzroy Street, change tram at Junction, Queensway/Dandenong Road pause, look for new pot plant for balcony, Williams Road, Malvern Road pause, get a couple of bits at the shops, Commercial Road, St Kilda Road.

How large are you shoes?

The subject line will be cryptic to some, but most will get it.

Red Nomad likes to mix her miles and metres. I have been known to also. Nothing wrong with 'its about an inch short of a metre'.

There is a certain stupidity in the way we generally express length. I believe in Europe, and no doubt Peter will correct me if I am wrong, they don't generally use silly tiny measurements such as 780mm. They would say it is 78cm. It must easier to form a mental picture of a distance with the larger number. A metre is 100cm, so 78cm is about 3/4 of a metre. Easy to picture. And why don't we use centilitres rather than the minute millilitres?

Generally in Australia though, we seem to be retreating with our metrics. Our old fashioned tyre gauges at car service stations used to be marked with hectopascals. I had to learn hectopascals to know how much air to put into my tyres. I recall it was around 200. Now, the very good but I suspect very American tyre gauges on a stand with the alterable pressure read in pounds per square inch.

Kilojoules had began to be embraced, but we seem to be reverting to calories. Likewise with baby weight. More people seem to be using pounds now rather than ten years ago when when kilos seemed to be more popular.

I find it quite disappointing that we aren't embracing the far superior metric system. Worse, our growing children are hearing us use these old measurements and are using them too.

As I am talking of measurements, what an ugly word kays is. God Gough told us how to say it when metric arrived to our shores, KILOmetre and that is not kilOMetre and certainly not kays. Ugly, ugly, ugly.

Borders Books Busted

I care little about Borders book stores going broke. We are told it is a separate company to the US Borders, yet both have gone broke at the same time. Excuse me if I am of a suspicious type.

Borders can go the way of that coffee company that almost went broke in Australia and Krispy Kreme doughnuts. I didn't like the concept of Borders and never bought anything there, nor did I like Starbucks and I don't like Krispy Kreme doughnuts. I am a of a certain age of course. Younguns seem to like them all, but clearly not enough.

None of the above represented good value for money. They are just overpriced chain suppliers. But with Borders going broke, they have dragged down a fine Australian company which has served us for a long time. That is Angus and Robertson of course.

(insert break to research how Australian A & R is)

The internet has killed me as a book reader. Where do I get time to read books? I still do, but it takes me weeks if not months to read them. Although, I do recall a book recently that I read in a couple of days and it had my full attention. It was obviously well chosen. Oh yes, it was the Handsome Cab Murders, a book set in Melbourne in the 1800s. It was a great read. I mostly read non fiction and they not usually books that you can't put down. Interesting of course, but not compelling.

Hmm. Wikipedia tells me of the sad demise of Angus and Robertson as an independent book seller and publisher. It opened its first store at 110 1/2(what?) Market Street, Sydney.

In the eighties and into the nineties, I used to often buy books at Hill of Content bookshop in Bourke Street. It too got mixed up with a large book company, and I decided to buy my books elsewhere. Interesting to find Hill of Content has opened a shop in Darling Street, Balmain. The mega search engine did not immediately give me an answer as to who owns Hill of Content, but their contact email does,

For the last couple of years I have spread my book purchases between Jefferys in Malvern, Readings in Carlton, ABC Shop and at christmas we bought gift books at Readers Feast, which for a larger store, I quite like. Oh yes, I have bought a couple of books online too and a couple at remaindered book shops.

As for an electronic book reader, you won't see me with one in a hurry, not because I am a dinosaur but I just don't read enough books.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Your taxes at work at MGS

There is a problem at Melbourne Grammar School. They seem unable to to spend money fast enough on their school. It is probably money donated to the building fund, which unlike private school fees, can be offset against a donor's income for tax purposes. In the nine years we have lived here MGS has been a construction site. While they put this building fund money into making their school beautiful, they have their hands outs for taxpayers money. One source tells me last year it was $4.5 million. That is $4.5 million of the poorest taxpayer's money to prop up the most elite and arguably the richest school in Australia.

It is not alone of course. Scotch College received $4.7 million and Geelong Grammar a whopping $6.3 million.

Then there was the economic stimulus money. MGS received something less than $200,000. What did they do with this? Gold plate the bathroom taps? Chromed the basket ball rings?

It is all lovely and green now but this is the preparation photo. Would you believe no sooner had the playing field been completed for the start of the school year, scaffolding went up in Domain Road, clearly to spend more money.

An underground car park for teachers. How good is that! That will stop the students putting the teacher's car on the roof of a school building.

No, no. This is not the same playing field as the one above. This is one they prepared earlier.

I wonder what Wesley College spent their stimulus money on? Perhaps on this solar powered electronic scoreboard?

This taxpayer money going to private, mostly religious, schools which already have exceptional facilities of the kind most government schools could only dream of is an outrage. It is even more of an outrage that the money is being distributed by the so called workers' party, that is our Federal and back then State Labor governments.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


I get Melbourne's Entertainment book for free, so even if I only use one voucher, I am ahead. We possibly use a dozen of them over the year.

Last week we went to Margo's restaurant at the Casino. We had a fine bit of nosh with our two for one voucher. Afterwards we sat beside the river as the city lights were starting to go on. I hope it was just the recent heavy rain that caused it, but I was appalled by the number of plastic water bottles floating down the Yarra. I reckon I saw thirty bottles in 15 minutes. Given the rip off that bottled water is, would a refundable deposit of say twenty cents put on to the cost really hurt people? You can be sure plastic bottles would be quickly and efficiently collected. It is a no brainer for me and if South Australia can do it, why can't we?

We used another two for one voucher to take Little Jo to the Melbourne Aquarium. It really is very good, but oh, the price. $33 for an adult and a child three years old $19.

Bone Doctor dropped her off here as she went to some conference thing. Poor Little Jo was a pick up while asleep and run. After the hour and a half plus trip, she was wide awake and had eaten a Vegemite sandwich, with a good bit of the Vegemite still on her face. She had mentioned recently about seeing the penguins again, so we thought it was a good idea. Honestly, she wasn't so interested in the fish, but more the experience. Half way through she wanted to go home, but then there was talk at the large walk under shark etc tank. 'Which is the most dangerous animal in the tank', was the question. Little Jo called out shark. She was wrong. It was turtles that attack the hands of the keepers so often, they wear chain mail gloves.

Around eleven o'clock, we decided it was time for elevenses. Before I could cry out, no no no, R asked Little Jo what she would like to eat as they surveyed the cases full of sandwiches and other healthy options. Little Jo spied another case and chose a large chocolate mousse. Just don't tell you mother Little Jo.

A few months ago I discovered Walker Doughnuts at the corner of Elizabeth and Flinders Streets. They make a fine doughnut in many varieties and good coffee. It is kind of open air and a pleasant place to perve people watch. So for lunch Little Jo had a large pink iced doughnut. Don't tell your mother Little Jo.

Once home, some quiet time was needed. R and Little Jo lay on his bed and watched a child appropriate dvd. 'Andrew, can I have some popcorn please?' Just don't tell your mother Little Jo.

So we fed her a chocolate mousse, a doughnut and popcorn. We did give her some milk and juice to drink. We would make bad parents. Just as well her mother is strict and what we gave her really was a treat.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Stop the Boats

And stop the planes too. Out refugee intake should be an orderly process, not who can get here gets accepted. The Christmas Island disaster where many 'refugees' heading for Australian waters were killed was horrible to hear about.

But our heartless Liberal Party Opposition is stacking on a turn because our government is paying for survivors to attend funerals in Sydney. Ok, the government might not, and I say that without any real knowledge, pay for you to fly to Perth to attend a relatives funeral, but I expect the money would be found by a private charity, if not the government, if you were really so broke. Regardless, the government has done the right thing by facilitating people to attend funerals. The Opposition is so hard core right wing now, it is intolerable.

Add this to this the Liberal Party not wanting to levy quite well off Australians to rebuild Queensland infrastructure after the state suffered floods and cyclones, how heartless do they come across as?

Here in Victoria the previous Labor government modified anti discrimination legislation to include religious bodies not being able to discriminate on the grounds of sexuality, marital status, race, religion etc. Now the present state Liberal government is changing the legislation because they think it is ok for religious bodies to discriminate. These religious bodies are recipients of huge amounts of taxpayer money and pay very little tax, if at all.

Let me just suggest this to those in our largest state of New South Wales who are soon to vote on a new state government. Your government may well be crap, but be very careful what you wish for.

Lights On

Non Volvo drivers used to mock Volvo drivers for driving around with their headlights on day or night. That the Volvo driver did not have a choice, ie the headlights came on when the car was started and could not be turned off, did not come into it at all. Mock them we did. Here is a Volvo of the type that used to have its headlights permanently on. It is the daily car, yes now, of the founder of Ikea.

The Volvo headlights being permanently on were supposedly for safety reasons. They worked. The headlights on alerted other drivers that an old bloke wearing a hat was approaching and extra care needed to be taken.

Now we have a new kid on the block in the lights on stakes. Rather than for safety reasons, this time the lights on are 'look at me' lights. Audi has overtaken BWM in car sales in Australia, and I am sure it is because of the 'look at me' lights. I suppose they are LED. It would take many shots with a shanghai for me to knock them all out but gee that is what I feel like doing. Naturally if you drive a 'look at me' car, you have extra privileges on the road and certain road rules no longer apply to you. What intrigued me when I first noticed them now just makes me want to give the car a good bashing.

Monday, February 14, 2011

St Vee's Day

R and I don't bother too much about St Valentine's Day. We exchange cards and usually R tapes a few chocolates to my card. I don't even do that, just a card.

His card was rather nice this year with a written line something like 'it is nice how moments have turned into memories', and they have indeed.

But it is not the romantic or hot times that we so often talk about. Our latest memory conversation was about about the outdoor clothes lines in the four houses we have lived in. Neither of us have clear mental images of them all. Neither of us can agree on what clothes lines we had where. How such a meaningless conversation began, I can't recall.

Such is 32 years of history together. To have someone to have such a conversation with makes me a very privileged person. Not everyone does and if you don't, don't be too envious. Such a history comes at a price of keeping your trap shut at times, negotiation, eating humble pie, having to change your mind, but it is a price I am prepared to pay. All you really need to do is be there for each other.

Kiwi Gooseberry

What would a pavlova be without slices of kiwifruit adorning its creamy top? You know what kiwifruit is hey. I suppose it has a distinctive taste but you don't hear of too many people who don't like it. Kiwi fruit was another fruit that I did not know about when I was a kid. By the time I became aware of kiwifruit, I also knew it by its alternative name, Chinese gooseberry. I don't have to do the legwork to find out more about kiwifruit. Time Spanner has done the hard yards and there is a link to her writing in this post.

But have you ever seen other kinds of kiwifruit? Apparently there are kiwifruit that have smooth and edible skins rather than hairy skins we are used to. Are they native to France? Most unlikely but here are mini kiwifruit growing in an area of France that receives snow. What a versatile fruit.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Charging

With the arrival of the new digital radio, I needed to find somewhere for it to be charged. I judged my bathroom to be the best place. I put the radio away but then realised that it covered up the curse of modern times, wires. So, I put it back. I used to charge my mobile phone beside my bed, but I never liked that. I may as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb and so I moved my phone charger into my bathroom too. It is all quite ugly, but the system works well. Household Management cleaned my bathroom on Friday night and did not comment. I do have to unplug something to plug my shaver in. It is a work in progress.

Echidnas in three minutes

I had no idea echidnas could swim. Apparently they do with ease. There are three linked clips here. Take three minutes of your life to learn a bit about the intriguing echidna. I grew up in the bush, so I am not unused to seeing echidnas. For our overseas friends, do remember to keep your distance from them if you visit Australia. The shooting spines are propelled at force and can hurt and perhaps even pierce your skin if you are very close. You will probably be staying in a building of bricks and mortar if you are a visitor and so you will be safe while you are indoors and of course they are very seldom seen in inner city areas, but our greening of the inner areas does mean there are more around than there used to be.

I was telling friends about the amazing swimming echidna and strangely they were interested. They subsequently offered opinions about other animals that could swim with ease. One friend who lives in an artist colony type outer suburb that starts with E and rhymes with Eltham said he has a resident echidna in his back garden. Seeing Bush Babes cattle swimming from an island isolated by flood water to dry land was amazing. One friend ventured that a breed of Turkish cats actually like swimming. 'Look it up on the net', he said. I moved to my favoured seat at the computer machine and called my friends over to see the screen. Being in a relaxed frame of mind, I entered 'Turkish pussy' into my preferred search engine, and, well, our friends all buttoned up their shirts, stroked their chins as they considered whether they needed to shave in the morning, and left. The internet can be very unreliable at times.