Saturday, March 19, 2011


This is a duck. A Victorian duck. Look out duckie, someone is gunning for you.

Unlike most states of Australia, Victoria allows duck hunting for a limited period. The period has been suspended for a few years, but now we out of drought, Teddy Baills has restored the duck hunting season. 'Tis a queer thing to me that people like pointing guns at ducks and shooting them dead. Well, I suppose I can be a bit kinky at times, but I really don't get the shooting of birds and animals for pleasure. Why don't they do the real man stuff and go off and shoot feral pigs or something and improve the environment? At least then they could justify their weird pleasure with them doing something useful.

Funnily, co-coincidently, yesterday I noticed a duck crossing warning road sign in Albert Road. So you can shoot them dead, or kind of almost miss and leave them to a lingering death, but god forbid you drive over them and instantly kill them, especially the ducklings that are so cute.

Moseying about the Arts Centre Pt 2

As I drank my coffee while sitting on a comfortable couch, I pointed the camera lens skywards in an attempt to take an artistic shot. If succeeded, say so. If I didn't, say nothing.

This mosaic pays respect to an earlier inhabitant of the site where the arts centre complex sits.

All is not quiet and still. Hamer Hall, the concert hall, is undergoing serious renovation. It will be opened up to the river instead of locking it out, not literally of course. I thoroughly approve of the idea BUT, the lavish John Truscott interior will disappear, it would seem. Adam from The Grapevine has some gorgeous photos of the interior. Do take a look. I have some non-gorgeous photos of a construction site.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Clear the Way #77

I drove down High Street yesterday about 4.00pm, through Prahran, Armadale and Malvern. What a bitch of a drive. Stop start, stop start. Seven minutes to get from Kooyong Road to Malvern Town Hall, five minutes to get to Tooronga Road. What a difference to a couple of months ago when the extended clearways were introduced when it would have taken perhaps three minutes for the trip between Kooyong Road and Tooronga Road. Thanks Teddy Baills and your posh shop keeper mates.

On my return journey the clearway was in full force, after 4.30, and the traffic was just sailing along, except for where there were parked cars. There were a lot of parked cars in the clearway and not a sign of a tow away zone tow truck in sight. I can only assume the clearway shopkeepers in the City of Stonnington have not only had a victory for clearway reduction times, they have also had the tow trucks called off.

Well done ex Mayor Tim Smith and City of Yarra businessman pratt Herschel Landes.

Of course clearways are optional for the wealthy shoppers of South Yarra and Toorak. Their main thoroughfare, Toorak Road, has a peak time clearway, but no worries, you are rich, pay the fine. You won't be inconvenienced by having your car towed. No tow away zones in Toorak Raod.

For all this nonsense, I blame the previous state Labor government. They announced the extended clearways as a grandiose mistaken vote getting exercise instead of letting Vic Roads doing it administratively with a low key enforcement until it was well bedded in and widely known. Instead Labor lost the seat of Prahran, probably in a great part due to the clearway issue.

I actually don't know who is right and who is wrong in this case. I like a clear traffic flow, especially for on street pubic transport, but these are local villages for local people. Regardless, City of Stonnington is a pro business lobby force. City of Yarra is supposed to be a lefty council and pro public transport. Yet they went to bed with City of Stonnington to oppose the free flowing of trams along Victoria Street in extended peak hours. I think I hate Yarra more, if only for their duplicity.

Start your weekend with a laugh

As I have experienced, cheap flights aren't always what they seem. Even free flights can be costly. Victor posted this clip a while ago. I thought it was very well done and should have wide exposure. Hope you don't mind Victor.


I spoke to Sister a couple of nights ago. She was very depressed. She is back at work part time teaching and she was marking year 7 school assignments. One question asked of students was what is the difference between fact and opinion. She read the answers to me. They were incomprehensible. Sister does not teach in poor government school in an underprivileged area, but in a very old private school in a well to do area.

She suggested that the text or tech generation was now starting to come through but also lays the blame at the last teaching method that was in vogue for a few years. What was it? Whole of something?

I asked Sister if she had lowered her marking standards and she said not. I imagine it must be hard for students to feel any liking for writing, spelling or sentence construction when their work is returned having disappeared under the marks of a red pen.

English is very flexible and embracing of the new, but there are still very strict rules about what is right and what is wrong. Every so often I come across people giving examples of misplaced comma's but it is a problem that is addressing itself. Sister's students don't misplace commas. They just don't bother with them at all.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wot's on the box?

Stick with Aussie this time.

R is rather fond of watching My Kitchen Rules. I pay attention to the show at times but without enthusiasm. You know something? I have never seen anyone I like on the show. Clearly the show is constructed in a certain way, but not one person I have seen gave me any feeling of warmth towards them. As for the judges, well they are the just downright horrible, especially the frog Frenchman.

Packed to the Rafters is not a bad show as such shows go. Of course I don't watch it, but R does, and once again my attention is dragged from this small screen to the big one. The series has finished, but wait, a new show is starting made by the same makers. When a new show has to promote itself by saying it is made by the same team as 'Rafters', then I am not expecting much. I am so excited about the new show, I can't even recall its name. Rafters obviously had a bit of money spent on production. I doubt the new show has. I hope I am wrong.

What I have been tuning into of late is ABC's First Tuesday Book Club. Marieke Hardy looked gorgeous tonight, with the fishnets a nice finishing touch. Jennifer Byrne is an attractive woman too but some many decades ago stockings were invented, which flatter the legs of older women. Why on earth didn't Jennifer have stockings on?

Surely you didn't expect me to write about the books talked about on the show did you?

Matters of Japan

I first heard the phrase 'people like us' used as euphemism by Singaporean men to indicate that they were gay. They abbreviated it to PLU. Thus in Singapore a PLU is a gay male. Maybe it has a longer history from elsewhere. I am not an ectyomolgist!

While we worry about disasters in other places in the world, especially third world countries, there is clearly an inability by us, well by me at least, to relate to the events. We can't personally do anything about the starving kids in Africa. Can we do anything much about problems in the third world, disasters included. We can donate money that goes who knows where.

But it is quite a different matter when they are people like us. That is the affected who live in a western country and live a similar lifestyle to our own. That's why the Christchurch earthquake tugged so hard at our hearts. We can visualise being in a similar situation. They may have an odd accent but they live very much like we do. They lost family and friends. They lost a lot of history. They lost tourist dollars. They lost their lifestyles. They are people like us.

I can't pretend to understand the mysteries of the Orient, let alone Japan, but having being there, I include Japan in people like us. Yes, there are major differences, but not as great as you may think. There are Asian countries, there is Singapore which stands alone and then there is Japan and and to a lesser extent South Korea.

What might the average Japanese do on a Sunday? They might go for a picnic in a park. They might visit a beach. They might drive to a bakery in the hills to buy a treat. They might go to a museum. They might have family or friends visit at home. They might just hang out with friends if they are younger or stay in the bedrooms and use social media or just tech play. Sound familiar?

While it is good to donate to one of the NON religious organisations who are in there helping in Japan, doing what the government does not, don't forget that it is a very rich country. Unlike Britain, the US and Australia, they haven't sold their mothers to the world and owe little to anyone outside of Japan.

Speaking of money, I hope you quickly sold your energy shares, especially those that have a nuclear component within the business. As a naive youth I was passionately anti nuclear. Over the years I had mellowed somewhat with my views, in spite of Chernobyl. Russia was incompetent and their reactor was old and built on the cheap. Japan is a first world country and in spite of all the safety precautions, it has still all gone wrong. I am now once again a naive youth. Nuclear is just too damn dangerous, never mind the waste.

Clearly Japan did not pick up the dangers of nuclear during WWII. Or might reactors been forced on them after the war? They have tens of reactors sprinkled around the country and yet they only produce between 20 and 30 per cent of the electricity. While I don't think the damaged reactors will be a serious contamination problem, are the worth the risk.

Gunns, Tasmania, pulp mills. Off topic? No. Significant shareholder, the Mitsui Corporation of Japan. Meat, minerals, livestock, coal, fuel oil, construction materials, shipping, money trading, leverageing, broking. I don't know if they are involved in nuclear, but if they aren't, you couldn't do better with the money you have taken out of nuclear shares and put the money into a company like Mitsui. There is a lot of money to be made in Japan as the re-construction gets underway.

I don't have spare cash to invest in shares, so that does not need to occupy my thoughts. Instead I will grieve for what seems to be tens of thousands of people like us who are dead and leave the money making from the disaster to others.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Moseying about the Arts Centre Pt 1

The Arts Centre Precinct is a phrase heard at time of late. While I am familiar with all of the Arts Centre buildings, inside and out and the area too, I decided to experience coffee at the Arts Centre Precinct.

I alighted from the bus and I think it was a day or so after the Chch earthquake. For some reason I found this poster reassuring. New Zealand will survive. It will go on. Christchurch will live again.

I thought this angle might make a nice photo. What a change after the fountains were empty and not functioning for so long. At great expense a water catchment system has been installed and storage tanks added, of course not needed now. I consider the decision to shut off all of Melbourne's water features during the drought a disgrace. What is the figure Melbourne uses of the state's water supply? Fifteen per cent or something like that. Our fountains are so important to the appearance of the city and would only use the tiniest amount of water. There is untold riches at the base of the water, so many coins thrown in for good luck. I have seen guards out remonstrating with fisher lads.

Former Premier Jeff Kennett wanted to get rid of Victoria's National Gallery water wall when the gallery was renovated. After loud protests, our much loved water wall at the gallery entrance was redesigned and rebuilt.

The Speigeltent. I am not sure if it is the one from Belgium and/or the one Marlene Dietrich performed in. It used to be here in October but now having it here in mid and late summer means air con had to be added. Pity they couldn't put the ducts around the back. Water spirals downwards from the central part of the fountain and spills into the red scoria tone filled bed and then flows down into the fountains in the earlier photo. Leaves are often trapped on the scoria. I have never thought it looked much.

I leant over my fellow tram passenger as I was passing by, one Patsy King, aka Governor Erica Davidson from the tv show Prisoner and said to her, I can't miss a snap of this. I took the photo out the tram window with my phone. Later the tram was craned into position and is now a quite a cool bar. Mrs Davidson queried what the tram was for. I didn't know.

Works well I reckon.

It was sunny with a nice cool breeze. I stretched out upon a comfy couch and sipped my long black while observing the passing parade.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Since I spend so much time listening and watching what comes from our ABC, I feel somewhat proprietorial about it and think it is fair that have can have a good whinge about it at times.

Some time ago I wrote a post called Time to go Macca. It recently received a new comment. Letters have been flowing into the The Age Green Guide (tv/radio guide) on a regular basis complaining about or defending Macca. Let me make this clear as people are accusing us Macca dislikers as inner city latte sipping country people haters. People who complain about Macca obviously listen to him. I am among them. People, myself included, like hearing about lives in the bush and regional cities and towns. We like to hear about our country's animals and flora. What we don't like is the non professional presenter with his opinions that were set back in the 1950s. How on earth ABC management allowed him in front of a mike in the first place, I don't know. Surely being able to string a sentence together is a requisite for a radio broadcaster. I know there would be howls of protests from his core of devoted and vocal listeners if he was replaced by management, so I suggest he does the honourable thing and retire.

I often listen to the radio on the computer, especially if Household Management is still asleep. I have just listened to the ABC radio's major news bulletin today on my computer. I didn't recognise the newsreader's voice. A car crash in the Blue Mountains? Sure enough, ABC Sydney news. The 9.00 AM news better damn well come from Melbourne. I want to hear about a car crash in the Dandenong Ranges. (R was up by 9 and I missed it)

I don't have a big issue with national news broadcasts for the minor bulletins at weekends, used no doubt for reasons of economy, but if it is national, it should not have a Sydney bias. Some years ago I recall a Sunday 6.00 pm supposedly national news broadcast that was absolutely chockers with local Sydney stories. No wonder people sometimes refer to our Australian Broadcasting Corporation as the Sydney Broadcasting Corporation.

Last night when we were having dinner with friends, someone mentioned about a female commercial tv station newsreader who had a bout of the hiccups while presenting. She read the whole bulletin punctuated by hiccups. I should You Tube it. I just did. Boring. I recall an ABC radio news broadcaster struggling with his on air broadcast. Once again it was a national broadcast, coming from Sydney on a Sunday afternoon I think. I was sitting in the car at Monash Uni. I think we were going to a concert. R was there, but not in the car. The news reader was one of the old school very professional ABC newsreaders but he was clearly having trouble with something. The problem was getting worse. Eventually he said, I'm sorry, I can't go on, and I suppose we were switched to soothing music. Over subsequent years I often thought of this mysterious news bulletin. When I reached a certain age and I had to hold what I was reading so far away until I needed longer arms, I realised what went wrong. He had forgotten his reading glasses. Now that would be a much more interesting You Tube clip.

Oh dear,wallowing in nostalgia again. Let me get more modern. My portable digital radio is marvellous. I spend a bit of time in our crisis ridden days listening to ABC News Radio but mostly listen to ABC Melbourne. Across the screen is scrolling information. How many times have I typed that. I don't need it to scroll on my radio. The programme I am listening to and the next one is useful perhaps, but next programme showing is often the one that is now on. Let me look now......ah Sydney Broadcasting Corporation strikes again, next up is James O'Loghlin. Nah, in Melbourne it is Alan Brough. Then there is the weather, surely useful. Well, not so useful at 10.00pm when it is still showing today's weather forecast. By a certain time during the day, you want to know tomorrow's forecast and believe me, by 10.00pm you are not interested in today's forecast. You have already lived it. Surely within the complexities of digital radio broadcasting, the scrolling text must be the easiest aspect of it.

Staying with the scrolling text, very admirably our ABC set digital broadcast channels for the Queensland floods and the Victorian floods, possibly the Qld cyclone too. First class effort, but how do you know they are there if you don't scroll through your channels? I first heard of the Qld floods channel because it was mentioned on the radio. I recall checking if there was a channel for the Victorian floods, but there wasn't. I checked the next day and there was. This information is the kind of thing that needs to scroll across the screen.

I suppose it is pointless to ask for no sports news to scroll, but I have just realised something. After the initial novelty wore off, I no longer watch my radio, which is as radio should be.

Monday, March 14, 2011

It is the little things

From the Queensland floods it was story of the man who threw his son out of his floating car into a tree that got me. He and his son survived, but his wife and daughter did not and remained trapped in the car and drowned.

I read on two different New Zealand websites about the woman who was in the earthquake and she escaped with minor injuries. She walked down the street heading for home almost naked. Her husband in another building was killed. She arrived home to find it destroyed. Her car was trashed. Her husband's car in the city was crushed. She had nothing left.

I am normally news hungry, and that includes disasters, but what has happened in Japan is beyond my hunger.

It was curious today. I ashamed to admit we were in Maccas in Elsternwick for a cheap bite to eat. That was after having a bacon and egg breakfast across the road at out local cafe. Given McDonalds is supposed to be a restaurant for kids, how inappropriate was it to have news coverage of Japan on the tv screen and over the loudspeakers? Kids ought not get news of disasters. They have plenty of adult years for that. However we caught that there was another tsunami heading for the east coast and that another nuclear reactor had blown up. Channel 9 went live to air with the news. Once back in the car we tuned to ABC News Radio and there was no talk of tsunami. I explained to R, ABC will be waiting to verify facts before going to air with the info. Sure enough, there was not a second tsunami.

It may just because we have a friend in Japan, or that we were there last year and travelled through Sendai and Hachinoehe, but I can no longer cope with tv pictures and recorded footage from Japan. Of course I will listen to the radio, but no more video footage. I am tuning out from the visuals. Cheers, thanks.

Moseying about St Kilda

I took a second shot of this cenotaph? that sits beside Jacka Boulevard in St Kilda and managed to include its top, but this photo is more interesting because it shows some kind of bracket on the Esplanade fence. Most of the fence is ugly Besser brick type construction but a bit of the old remains. I guess it is the remains of a lighting bracket.

Some rich person is dead and a funeral is being held at the yacht club. Note the lone piper on the far right.

Much work was done at the bottom area of Fitzroy Street, including the construction of a raised platform tram stop. Apart from my issues with the stupid traffic lights that don't have a green phase, I think it was quite nicely designed.

This small triangular park is called Cleve Gardens but perhaps better known as The Triangle. It is historically important to Aborigines but they no longer gather there since former State Premier Jeff Kennett had the toilet block torn down and efforts were made to move them on elsewhere to make the area look better for the inaugural Melbourne Grand Pricks car race. At night time rent bois used to hang around the park and motorists would pull up on the bit of the road that can be seen on the left. This neglected fountain is a memorial to Edwin Knox who fought in the Boer War.

There is a bit of a blurb about the traditional owners at the bottom of this sign.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Family Matters

You know dear readers, I was actually looking forward to Mother being at Sister's for christmas. Mother made sure she was as difficult as she could be, often going to her room, not fitting in with anyone else's plans, holding everyone up all the time while we waited for her, and of course moaning on about her medical problems. At one point Bone Doctor said to her, for goodness sake T, there are so many much worse off than you. Sister couldn't believe what Bone Doctor said and rushed to tell me. None of us kiddies would dare say such a thing. Mother is never obvious about it, but she does wield some sort of curious power about her. It is not just us kiddies, but other people too. I might guess that it is because she is so nice and caring.

I was listening to something today about kiddies being regretful in the future about things they do and post online or with their phones. I heard of one case of a teenager being rejected by a family abroad as an overseas student because of what was on her facebook profile.

In my case, the damage has been done in my blog. I have said too much about my family and there is no going back. But not quite. I have never used names, nor precise locations. Clearly Highriser is not my last name and if I google myself using my proper name, there is nothing except facebook and not the one you readers know me on (It is Andrew Highriser if you want to add me. I am often nagged about the lack of my facebook friends) . It is the random that will be my undoing and discovery as a prolific blogger. I probably won't post any more identifiable photos of Little Jo. She is getting too old and I feel it would be an invasion of her privacy.

Of course it would only take a sleuth a few minutes to find out the identity of my real self, where I live, what my job is etc etc. It matters little anyway. I don't need to hide very much in my life and what I may hide, you can be sure I haven't written about it here. Actually, there is precious little. I am obviously quite boring.

In days of old R and I would have long discourses on men, sex, the world, friends and associates, venues etc. Now our long discourses are usually about family, medical matters and mentions of friends is a short conversation.

Mother was hospitalised to get her blood pressure under control a few years ago. R remarked a good bit later over one afore mentioned conversations how Mother spoke to the hospital staff including the nurses. Always perfect pleasant and nice but it was clearly an command. R remarked during our chat that he had never heard her speak like that before and she had showed a new side of herself to him. His comment rather reinforced what I had been telling him for some time, do not under estimate Mother.

Bone Doctor is a bit harsh though. She may lack bedside manner, as many of the best medical specialists do.

I might just make a list here of Mother's medical problems, even if only to clarify in my own mind.

Severe upper leg pain, probably referred pain from worn out discs in her vertebrae.
Borderline diabetic.
Goitre pressing on her carotid artery. Dangerous to operate on.
Arthritis, but not severe.
High and unstable blood pressure, in spite of medication.
Stomach problems and self diagnosed allergies to many foods. I suspect this is about her poor diet, constantly snacking and gorging at times.
Recurrent diarrhoea, treated with imodium. A recipe for disaster.
Sleeping problems, par for the course for someone her age.
Anxiety, nervousness and over excitement.

Not quite so medical is doctor shopping for one who listens and humours her. Self diagnosis and treatment are up there too.

I can be strong enough if I need to be, but I am not in Mother's league. It matters little what we kiddies do or say to her, she will do what she wants. It is not that we don't care, but we tend to ignore her nonsense a bit. Even R gets less stressed now when he sees Mother and has to listen to her.

This post has been hanging around too long, 24th Jan. 

Letter from a friend

Japan, I quite liked the place when we visiited last year.We have known V for a long time. She is a personal friend who was born and bred in Melbourne. Oddly, I instinctively knew she was in a safe area. I doubt she did.
Hi All,
Well after a rather interesting 24 hours I can happily report that I'm alive and well.  Power was out at my place between 4pm yesterday and around 7am today.  Phones were intermittant and I didn't get internet access until recently.  Others didn't get power back until much later.  Some people didn't have water.  As you can imagine it's been a tad chaotic. 
Last night was horrible.  Without power, I had no heating and of course, it started snowing just before the quake hit yesterday.  Getting home last night was quite the drama - with no traffic lights, heavy snow and everyone trying to get home at the same time, the roads were crazy.  Once home, it was very cold and dark.  It wasn't the most pleasant of experiences sitting in the dark, riding tremors and hoping like crazy my building wouldn't fall around my ears.  Still, I managed to get a few hours sleep.
I ventured out this afternoon.  Thankfully it stopped had snowing.  I didn't see any signs of structural damage.  Many shops and businesses were closed.  Ito Yokado (a big department store) had opened in the morning but closed around midday.  Another supermarket - Universe - was open but only allowed 10 or so people in at a time because they had no power.  Selected boxes of food were put out in a designated area for us to choose from.  People were panic buying food and petrol - the few petrol stations that were open had long lines of cars waiting to get in.
It's currently 10pm Saturday night here.  I have all utilities but am not sure they will remain on.  We're still getting tremors.  I'll update you again in the morning if I can.  But all is well for the moment.
Love, V