Saturday, March 26, 2011

How Could They?

I collect photos of trams. I rarely collect any because of the tram, but usually for the settings. This photo is by Dave Menzies of England features the demolished Federal Hotel, or Federal Coffee Palace if you like. Whoever approved its demolition should be in gaol. Just one stat for you. It had twenty five kilometres of skirting board. Ok, another. The walls at its base were 1.5 metres thick. Criminal.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A pre weekend laugh

ABC Melbourne's breakfast presenter Red Symons sometimes has a segment before 6am called Porn Before Dawn. (some may know Red as the judge with the gong from the tv show Hey Hey, It's Saturday, or from even earlier years when he was made up like a painted whore as a member of the fantastic band Skyhooks)

Porn Before Dawn usually involves some risqué old music recordings.

I had never heard of Ruth Wallis but I found her recordings quite amusing. I really thought Stephen at Post Apocalyptic Bohemian would have had some information about her. Seems not.

Wikipedia does of course. Born Ruth Shirley Wohl in Brooklyn and died in 2007. She visited Australia and customs seized her recordings. As these things always go, the publicity ensured her shows did very well.

She has been honoured in Australia by the National Archives and included in a permanent exhibition called Memory of a Nation. I am appalled that I knew nothing of her. Now I do and so do you.

This was the favourite recording I heard of hers over the week of Porn Before Dawn. Quite a catchy melody. She could also do a good Latin accent, as I heard in another track. Can a gay man ever have more fun than spending time with a wicked glamourous woman? I've known a few, too few to be counted.

Birfdys or R's birthday Pt 1 of 3

Mother's and R's birthdays are two days apart, so we usually have a joint celebration. At the last minute ABI Brother did not have to umpire cricket in the afternoon and so was able to deliver Mother to Jells Park for a family picnic, saving us a decent old drive.

Sister and Little Jo picked us up on their way past. Tradie Brother came and Dreaded Nephew had been to Camberwell Market and stopped by. Somehow the rest of Melbourne came along to Jells Park too.

'What shall I write in the card?' asked R. I get R to write all cards as I can no longer write, only type. 'Gee Mum, you are 77 now, so old', was my reply. Of course he didn't. I suppose he wrote suitable words. I no longer bother checking.

I gave Mother $50, more than she deserves, and R bought her a replacement for her nearly thirty year old boomerang pillow. As she can do, she was quite charming and lovely to all and did not bang on about her unfortunate concluding years or complete breakdown of her body.

We weren't at the park for long. Sister, Brothers and Dreaded Nephew played a ball game with bats that could also catch the ball. I can't think of the name. The bats looked like masks you might buy in certain shops in Sydney's Oxford Street. On our last visit we ventured further into the park and Schmap asked to use one of my photos.

Little Jo giving Nanny her birthday present. Hey Sister, that is more junk we are going to have to get rid of at some point.

Nanny reading her birthday cards.

Little Jo helping R (out of sight to the right) to put candles on the cake. I am a bit surprised given how seldom Little Jo now sees Nanny, but they seem to have a pretty strong attachment. Little Jo became quite confused when she heard me call her Nanny, Mum. We've tried to explain that Nanny is Sister's Mum, but she can't grasp it. One day it will click in her head that her treasured R is not direct family but grumpy uncle Andrew is. Always something in the future to look forward to.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Jeffed: A verb to describe what will happen in NSW

The Right Honourable Premier of New South Wales, Barry O'Farrell, takes the floor:

'Fellow citizens of New South Wales, we have taken a preliminary examination of our state's finances and we have discovered we are in a perilous situation. All departments will need to find savings in the order of 10 per cent of their budgets. All current projects are suspended and will be reviewed. All planned projects are cancelled. All department heads are dismissed and welcome to reapply for their positions. The Sydney City Council is dismissed as are the councils of Wollongong and Newcastle.

We will immediately enact legislation to prevent local councillors also being a member of parliament. The remainder of our state owned power corporation is to be sold, along with our water supply and its distribution, gas distribution and the operation of our public railways.

There will be no grants to councils for this term of our office. All grants to cultural and artistic organisations are suspended.

All harbour and river ferry services will be privatised and those that cannot make a profit will be closed.

The Opera House will be closed, however the exterior will be maintained.

The Barangaroo development will be cancelled and a request for new plans to maximise the value of the site be requested.

Be careful what you wish for New South Wales. Fighting against an incompetent government is fun. Fighting against a determined one is harder.

Not damn balloons again

They were the closest to the highrise I have ever seen, say 150 to 250 metres away. I could hear the gas blasting and the voices of those in the basket. Sunsets can be so pretty, but I like sunrises. I like seeing the life giving sun appear on the horizon. A dull glow that brightens until a speck of its sparkling self appears and then it reveals its huge presence. Then I start whinging that it is too hot or too glarey.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Nuclear puzzlement

Finally I am starting to hear about something I had been wondering about. If you pour fresh and seawater onto radioactive material, does the water pick up the nuke stuff? If so, all the water that has been poured onto Japan's damaged reactors is draining to somewhere. Some into ground water but most into the ocean.

Don't eat the fish.

Nuclear experts are assuring us that reactors built in the future will be failsafe. I would guess the same claims were made about the ones that went wrong in the past.

Nuclear proponents are, probably quite accurately, giving figures for how many could be killed if a hydro electric dam collapsed. No one can give figures for the numbers that could be killed by a massive nuclear accident.

Nah, shut 'em down.

Tram Demise

All Australian state capital cities had electric trams, as did many large regional cities. While Melbourne kept its tram system and with the exception of one line in Adelaide, the rest were all shut down. The last capital city to lose their trams was Brisbane which is rather odd because although it closed in 1969, new trams were delivered as late as 1964 and unlike Sydney's tram system that had been quite neglected through and post World War II, Brisbane's system was well maintained. One noticeable feature I observed when I was at Sydney Tram Museum, was that while Melbourne trams did not get internal fluorescent lighting until the 1970s, the latest Brisbane trams from the early 1960s had fluoro lighting.

Lord Mayor at the time of closure, the late Clem Jones, now honoured by having the Clem 7 road tunnel named after him, was very anti tram and wanted to see closure of the system. Adding to the pressure for closure was a fire at the Paddington tram depot, which destroyed 20 per cent of Brisbane's trams.

I could not possibly confirm nor deny the accuracy of the following exchange but it is food for thought.

The Paddington Depot fire was no gas leak. It was started deliberately and welcomed gleefully by a certain Mr Jones.

Oooooh, how can you say such a thing.
Just because certain trams (including the historic cars) were moved from Paddington to other depots, and replaced by older cars only days before.
Just because the controller keys and brake handles were said to have been removed from cars in the depot and the power failed as soon as the fire started.
Just because freak wind conditions were experienced that night and fanned the fire at a depot built out on a hillside with a timber floor.
Mere coincidence.

In case you are wondering about which regional towns had electric trams, Freemantle and Kalgoorlie in WA, Newcastle in NSW, Geelong, Bendigo and Ballarat in Victoria, Launceston in Tasmania. Maybe there are some more.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Dairy Farmers

I was writing a post about dairy farmers. During my research I downloaded a movie called Milking Guys. It was not really what I expected and did not assist with my research about dairy farmers at all. I altered what I was writing and I then decided my blog is almost a family viewing blog. How did I let it get to be that? I decided to not publish, but if you want to read it, email me for a copy at ripppon (note 3 ps) at I will auto send it to a few of you.

Ingrained homophobia

I am no exception to ingrained homophobia. It is, hopefully less so now, part of many children's upbringing and while mine wasn't overtly homophobic, an amount was picked up. Not that it stopped two out of the four of us kids turning out to be gay.

An example of mine would be the other day when I was reading a magazine feature on lesbians with children. Several couples were profiled. From memory most had produced a child after several years of being together, but one couple had a child after only three years together. Note the word only. I thought, hmm, that is perhaps a bit too soon. I reckon perhaps five years minimum for a gay couple to be together before having children by whatever method they choose.

Now why do I think like this? Would I think like that if it was a straight couple? Of course not. Especially not if they married and then months later had a child. Perhaps I think like this because gay relationships are less stable than straight ones (from a pretty low base rate, I must say) but surely if two people commit to having a child and bringing it up together, it shows they at least have commitment to each other, their future and the child.

Whatever way I look at it, my thoughts were wrong but at least I do a bit of self analysis. There is no reason that a gay or lesbian couple can't have a child in whatever way they choose after months of being together.

Delusions of Grandeur

No, not me you tossers. I mean the house in this marvellous photo from

Corinthian? Doric? Ironic? Dunno, but I used to know such things. I'll go for Ionic. You will agree that the pillars could just be a bit on the grand side compared to the rest of the house.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Printers prone to not proceeding

Victor had a printer issue. He was unable to decide if it was a printer problem or an ink problem, so he bought a new printer for less than the price of two replacement cartridges. Of course the new cartridges with the new printer won't have the same quantity of ink in them, but no matter. It was a good decision.

We have tried non brand replacement cartridges. We have tried refilling cartridges. Just my opinion, but neither are good for your printer. Invariably print heads clogg up or something else went wrong.

You have to be very careful with inkjet printers if you want to get the most out of them. I discovered that our printer uses a small amount of coloured ink even when printing in black. Bah, I thought. What a waste. I then discovered a 'use black only' setting. It would never default to that setting but each time I printed something, I set it to black only, so no colour ink was used. But what happened when I went to print something in colour? I think through lack of use the print heads were clogged. I knew there was adequate ink in the cartridges. After endless head cleaning and printing of test papers, finally it was cleared. I no longer use the 'black only' setting.

Your inkjet printer is like many things in life. Use it regularly at least a little, or lose it.

Malvern Meanderings

My trip to Malvern was to take a photo of a sign for Our Fading Past. I try to make such a trip more interesting by walking some streets. I walked from Wattletree Road past Cabrini Hospital, through Spring Road Park to Malvern Road. There are some quite grand houses along the way.

I think this might be a consulate. There is a flag on the right hand side of the house, but the wind was light and I could not see the flag properly.

Did someone say grand?

The trunk of a peppercorn tree seems to be oozing two different saps, a red translucent sap and a white opaque sap.

Lovely pretty work under the eaves.

Leafy suburbs aren't always so good for taking photos.

No, not in Christchurch or Japan. Renovations of an extensive nature.

The last time I was in Spring Road Park, this water feature was dry.

The church is being used temporarily for child care. It has very nice brickwork around the doors and I guess a reproduction lamp fitting which I think works well here. Note, no soft old sandstone footings of the type found in Sydney, but good solid western district bluestone.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Crashing old men

Old man in Sydney crashes his car into people.

Old man in Frankston crashes his car into a restaurant.

Old man's car rolls onto a Melbourne railway line and delays trains.

I see lots of older drivers in command of motor vehicles and generally they drive in a very incompetent manner. Some are downright dangerous. I should think once you turn seventy, the onus should be on you to prove that you can still drive competently.

If they can barely walk, and it takes them five minutes to get into their drivers seat, should they really be in control of what is proven to be a very dangerous machine?

Somehow, like earsplitting motorbikes and noisy cars, what it is blatantly is obvious to me seems to be invisible to Victorian Police.

Keep in mind that the people I am talking about are not in isolated country towns or an outer suburb where there is no public transport. These old people I speak of who daily threaten lives with their lack of driving skills live in privileged areas with good public transport.

Just to personalise and anecdote, I laughed when we lived in Balaclava and I saw an old bloke with a white stick, indicating he was blind, trying to guide his wife into a reverse parking space. His wife managed to to kind of pull herself out of the car in some manner once the five minutes of reverse parking was completed. Fortunately it was in a side street rather than Carlisle Street, so there was a not a huge impact on other drivers or public transport.

Carlisle Street in Balaclava is horribly trendy now, unlike when we lived there and it was just 'interesting'. One reason we moved is that we tired of interesting at times. I suggest Carlisle Street has the highest number of the oldest and worst drivers in Melbourne. Just around the corner is the St Kilda Police Station but you won't see cops in Carlisle Street unless it is to buy their lunch. Have they been warned off these truly dangerous drivers or are there so many bad drivers in the street, it just all too hard for them?

We are daily lectured about retirement planning and part of that ought to be us examining our alternatives to a motor car when we are old and can't or shouldn't be driving.