Saturday, May 07, 2011

Jewish Museum

I tried visiting the Jewish Museum once before but for some reason I could not find it. Not sure why as I had no problem today. I guess I know why all of our synagogues, Jewish schools and any other Jewish institution have such high security and guards. I couldn't just walk into the museum, but had to be admitted through electronically locked doors. This really bugs me. Surely the threat level is very small, small enough to not warrant guards all over the place.

The museum was excellent but of limited interest to me. However I am quite interested in Jewish settlement in Melbourne and its history and the museum did have this special exhibition on. I especially hoped to find some information about the long gone Jewish alms houses in St Kilda Road.
They were replaced by the aged care Montefiore in perhaps the 1970s.

There were at least four older women who were volunteer guides. I listened to one of them and boy could she talk. While she was interesting, the people she was talking to looked trapped, so I avoided four offers of assistance from the volunteer ladies. They were all terribly nice of course.

I did learn of a couple of things from the exhibits that interested me though, one being the battle of the languages, Hebrew or Yiddish. I associate Yiddish with fun and humour, so that is the side I am taking.

The other was about Zionists. I don't know what the word precisely means but I have a rough idea that Zionists are pro a Jewish homeland, Israel, and non Zionists, well, I am not sure. Jewish Australians before WWII were generally anti Zionist but those who had emigrated to Australia after WWII were perhaps quite understandably pro Zionist. Australia's first Jewish Governor General, Sir Isaac Isaacs, was against Zionists.

Once home and R asked me what I did for the day and when I told him, he asked if the museum was grim. Knowing what he meant, I said no. There was minimal and mostly only in an historical context mention of WWII. For the grim stuff, there is the Jewish Holocaust Museum in Elsternwick. I'll get there one day.

The entrance to the Jewish Museum of Australia. How could I have missed it the first time I went there? I think I had the wrong street number.

From a window at the rear is a grand view of the St Kilda Synagogue. It is in a side street and although I knew roughly where it was, I had never bothered to find out exactly. Now I know.

Just another Sunday and a Mother visit

The mosquitoes where Sister lives are big buggers. I don't like itchy spots, so I spray myself for the times I am bored and carry the lappie outside so that it can get a fast signal.

Sis in Law and her new beau have bought a place on the northern edge of Western Port Bay. She cooked us a lovely lunch of roast pork. Only her ex, my Tradie Brother, did not attend. Otherwise, all the my immediate family were there. Sister picked us up and drove us. Sister was tired and asked if I would drive back to the Highrise on her way back to the Bellarine. Of course. But then she drove herself. Little Jo, R and yours truly all dropped off on the way back.

It was the first time we had seen Sis in Law's new house. To put it kindly, it is like her old house which Tradie Brother has now bought her out from, only bigger and with more various extensions. It was a nice catch up with her, her new beau, and Oldest Niece, Chainsaw Niece and Dreaded Nephew all made an appearance.

We took a walk down to the nearby creek where you can catch fish. Western Port Bay doesn't have the mega sized mosquitoes that the Bellarine has, but what they lack in size, they make up for in numbers. There were hundreds of them. I counted fifteen on R's back at one point.

Sis in Law seems deliriously happy with her new life. This is good.

That was Sunday. This Tuesday I visited Mother to take her to a chiropractor at Cranbourne and do some odd jobs. Oh bliss, no drive to Crimebourne as she was feeling unwell and had cancelled the chiro. As usual she had written a list of jobs. 'I have written too many Andrew. Don't worry about them. Take me to the shops a bit later.' Normally what she thinks is a long list of jobs can be done in half an hour. But not this time.

Cleaned two windows, repaired a holland blind, cleaned five hanging pictures, took down ornaments from curtain pelmets for her to wash, empty both vacuum cleaner bags (don't ask why she has two) mostly choked up with talcum powder and cleaned three exhaust fan covers. All easy but I was heavily perspiring. The piece de resistance was to clean the light fitting in the lounge room.

It has five branches with a candle bulb in each branch. I thought to take each shade off and give them a wash. I took one off. It took five minutes to get the fragile baked supporting ring off. It took ten minutes to get it back on. I ended up spraying the thread with cooking oil. Oh look, the nut at the base of the fitting is loose. I tightened it which resulted in the whole fitting falling from the ceiling and was only being supported by the wires. The small set of steps were ok for cleaning, and I just washed the other shades in situ. But to get the light fitting back up I needed a ladder. 'The aluminium ladder is in the garage Andrew.' No, it wasn't. I used an old timber set of steps. There was a threaded rod that kept the whole light fitting together. There were a few threads at the bottom and a few at the top. The stiff wire had to be tucked back up, while I supported the fitting and at the same time connected up the rod. 'Mother, leave now. I am going to swear'. If a large truck passes Mother's house, I expect the vibration will cause the fitting to fall, but it was sound for the moment.

Mother bragged about how she could stretch a tin of tomato soup to three lunches. I know how. She waters it very heavily and that was my lunch. It is not very sustaining but I can suffer hunger easily enough. Meanwhile Mother toasted some bread for herself. 'Sorry, you were busy', when I mentioned I was a bit hungry.

Back when I was about 15 I bought two packets of Kool cigarettes for Mother at the local shop booked to the account. One was for her and one was for me and friends. Mother has smoked Kool cigarettes since I can remember. Her local Ritchies supermarket has ceased to stock them, so now ABI Brother buys them for her at a tobacconist. Last time I took Mother to the shops, I took her to the tobacconist to buy her Kool. It was at least a month ago. I took her again and the tobacconist remembered her brand after a single visit a month ago. Mother does create an impression. I so wanted to say to her, of course he remembered you. Most people of your age who smoke are dead, never mind that you are well dressed and made up.

Next stop was the Chemist Warehouse. Mother had the staff running all over the self serve shop serving her. Mind you, I will also sing the praises of Chemist Warehouse staff in Chapel Street, South Yarra and Glenferrie Road, Malvern.

I drove her back home and I was ready to bolt back to the sanity of home. 'Andrew, I want to show you something'. She showed me an old book which I took little notice of, but inside on the front page was written, 'To T, A little powder and a little paint, makes a nice girl what she ain't.' Cute.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Shirl to make you smile on your weekend eve

I have posted the clip a couple of years ago of a recorded version of Shirley Bassey performing Get the Party Started, but this is the live recording from the Glastonbury Music Festival. It made me grin from ear to ear so turn your speakers up and I hope it does you too. Fun!

Josh Quong Tart

Josh Quong Tart is a well known Australian actor. He was in the discontinued tv series All Saints and I believe he is now a cast member of the teen soapie Home and Away. Here is a photo of Josh. He is not my type at all and nor does he look Chinese to me.

However, he bears a very famous name, Quong Tart, and he is the great grandson of Mei Quong Tart who was born in China in 1850 and emigrated with his uncle to Australia a decade later.

Mei Quong Tart made considerable money by investing in gold claims and made even more by starting tea rooms in Sydney, the best known being in what is now known as the Queen Victoria Building. In the 1880s he became an acting, and I assume honorary, consular to the Chinese government.

He was philanthropist who looked after large causes and small, the small such as local paperboys. He was a spokesperson and an advocate for the Australian Chinese community. He acted as an interpreter. He campaigned against the opium trade in Australia and saw first hand the effects of opium on his fellow Chinese Australians. He was a generous and benevolent employer. More? A fine cricketer too.

He married an English Australian woman and they produced two sons and four daughters, the daughters being the first Asians to attend Presbyterian Ladies College. His home was Gallop House in Ashfield.

In 1902 he was brutally bashed with an iron bar during a robbery and never fully recovered, dying the following year.

Thousands attended his funeral at Sydney's Rokewood Cemetery. His body was dressed in ceremonial robes of a Mandarin of the Blue Button overlain with his Masonic apron.

A commemorative statue of Quong Tart was erected in Ashfield in 1998.

Although Mei Quong Tart seemed to be without fault and led an exemplary life I did find one serious wrong, he could play the bagpipes.

Here is Mei Quong Tart. Quite a debonair fellow but I can't see the family likeness to his great grandson Josh. For convenience sake, I haven't bothered sorting out the family/personal name muddle. Photo copyright Braidwood Historical Society.

Photo from City of Sydney of Quong Tart outside one of his tearooms.

Bust in Ashfield.

Date started Oct 2010.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

A non Iphone Iphone

Iphones are arriving in numbers to my workplace. They are being bought over the internet. I understand an Iphone 4 costs nearly $1000 in Australia. Workmates are buying them over the net from China for $70.

The first chap who bought one told me about them said they were made in China under license to Apple.

The second chap I spoke to was a little more realistic. We examined the phone. Made in California, USA. Odd, because proper Iphones are made in China aren't they?. While this chap had bought one, he was under no illusions about what he bought, a Chinese knock off of an Iphone. While the phone looks and behaves and may well have all the functions of an Iphone, it is quite slow to respond to commands.

But what my foreign workmates like about the their knock off Iphones is that they have dual sim card slots. You can switch between sim cards. They use their normal sim card and a cheap overseas calling sim card. I forget the name now as I don't need to remember it, but one company offers a card that charges a flat 19 cents for unlimited overseas calls to fifty different countries.

Back in the days when a roast chicken was a very expensive meal, even if cooked at home, you also had to book to make an overseas call at peak times and wow, were the calls expensive. Now with their cheap overseas sim cards, workmates can call around sixty different countries with a fee of a flat 19 cents.

From our own phone bill.
International Direct Calls.
UK 39 secs $0.47
UK 11 secs $0.47
UK 15:34 $0.77
Quarter of an hour for seventy seven cents!

Soon they will pay us to make calls.

Blossom Cam

In the north of Japan's main island of Honshu is the historic city of Hirosaki. Fortunately it is far from the east coast tsunami and relatively unaffected by the recent earthquake. As I do most years, I tune into the webcam in Hirosaki Park as the flowering cherry trees come into bloom. While it is the same every year, the camera has improved and it just looks so beautiful. Hirosaki is one of the prime cities for blossom viewing. The trees are pretty well at their peak today, so take a look at the controllable webcam if you like.

Here a few stills. This is from the first time I looked at the camera late last week.

The blooming progresses.


Hirosaki Castle was built in 1610 and yes it has moats. The surrounding parkland was donated to the government in 1894.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

And here is the news that was

Just to save you trolling through the online newspapers around Australia, I have done it for you already and picked out today's salient stories for your edification.

At the moment, cyclists entering the city from the north have to lug their bikes up 55 steps to the Harbour Bridge cycleway.

Should I take the above SMH story with a grain of salt? Fifty five steps to carry a bicycle!!!

Also from the SMH, this Barangaroo development is outrageous. I signed an online petition but I am not sure if it is the one mentioned below.NSW Premier Fatty O'Barrell will have to debate the controversial Barangaroo development in Parliament now that protesters have amassed more than 10,000 signatures opposing the Sydney project.The concerns include the decision by Labor to effectively excise Barangaroo from its own laws for managing contamination.The concerns include the decision by Labor to effectively excise Barangaroo from its own laws for managing contamination.Groups protesting against the development want the size of it reviewed, as well as the plan to build a hotel in the harbour and the process for decontaminating the site. Mind the gap.

Surprisingly we get a story from Perth Now. It reports that radio broadcasters are dropping like flies. (At this point I decided the rest of the post would not be serious)TWO weeks after 96FM announcer Steve Fitton was sacked for breaching the radio station's social media policy, his replacement Gavin Miller, has also been dismissed.Miller, recently hired to take over Fitton's Classic Café shift on Sundays, launched a twitter tirade against Jim Wallace, the managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby.

Among his tweets, which are open for public viewing, Miller tells Mr Wallace he is a “turd,” a “c****” and accuses him of “sucking c*** for Jesus.”

Miller was responding to an Anzac day tweet by Mr Wallace, a former Brigadier and graduate of Duntroon, who has served in the Royal Regiment and commanded Australia’s elite Special Air Services Regiment.

Mr Wallace tweeted “Just remember that as we remember Servicemen and women today we remember the Australia they fought for - wasn’t gay marriage and Islamic!”

Miller, who is openly gay, responded “ F*** You @JimWallaceACL you ignorant prick - The Australia they fought for was for EVERYONE. That’s what makes our nation great. Turd.”

We just have to have a story from Darwin. I don't think the front page featured a croc story today for once, but there was one inside the paper.

A MONSTER saltwater crocodile was caught near a popular Territory tourist park earlier this week.

Rangers had to use a four-wheel drive to drag the 4.64m-long man-eater, weighing about 600kg, from its trap.

Croc catcher Tommy Nichols said it was the biggest animal caught this year.

"He was nice and fat," he said. "And he had no injuries which was unusual for a croc of his size."

It is believed the animal was first sighted in Katherine River on Friday.

Another report came in on Monday about a crocodile trapped at Donkey Camp along Gorge Road - about 8km from Katherine's town centre and just before the first gorge at Nitmiluk National Park.

Adelaide, nothing, as you would expect. Nothing has happened there since Dolly Dunstan wore pink hotpants to parliament and some folk were popped into barrels.

But from the cultural and intelligentsia city down below, Melbourne, bungling burglars tied a rope to an ATM but forgot to attach it to a stolen ute they had ploughed through a window.

Brisbane, well it is so hot and muggy, the residents' brains have ceased to function and do not anything of note, except read some lame Osama bin Laden jokes in their quality newspaper.

Tassie has to come up with a ripper surely.

Lonnie Examiner reports the night club brawls, street assaults, pensioner bashings and teen rapes but the prominent story is...

WYNYARD LIONS LADIES BIGGEST CUPPA AFTERNOON TEA, Wynyard Showground 2-4pm. Guest Speaker, Raffle, Lucky Door Prize and Trade Table. Inquiries 6442 3378.

Let us head further south to Hobart where things are taken more seriously, as you would expect when the state parliament is located in the same fair town. Omg, something interactive. Hobart is so modern.

Build a royal baby using well-known family features. Go on. You clearly have more spare time in your life than I do.


We don't have Iphones so we don't have Grindr on our phones. I am not sure if Grindr is only an Iphone mobile phone application for gay men or not, but gay men certainly seem to like it.

I have been shown Grindr on peoples mobile phones. Essentially it is a gay hook up site that you access with your Iphone. One guy complained to me that someone who he had a great chat with, then blocked him. This guy had not really used the internet. Welcome to the real world.

R was quite fascinated by Grindr when it was shown to him in detail by a friend. R is thinking he needs a new mobile phone.

What intrigues me about it is the location part, which I assume is done by GPS. You switch Grindr on and you can see how far away people are from you who also have their Grindr on. One friend who visited us and switched his on here at our place said there was someone five metres away. Yeah, right. GPS can potentially be deadly accurate but not always. I asked him if he had switched on when he was travelling to work on the train from Caulfield. He had, but quickly switched it off as three people a short distance away were on Grindr.

Already among the gays I am sensing a disillusionment with Grindr. They expected to find love when it is clearly just a hook up application.

But you know, from a hook up can come love. Sometimes things just click. So if any gay boi says, I don't use Grindr because I am looking for a relationship, not sex, then think again. The more people you meet, be it straight into it or just for coffee, the more likely you are to find someone for you.

Our Dyke Friend in Nippon Land

You must have picked up about her by now. She is born and bred Melbourne and now lives in Japan teaching English. She has lived elsewhere too, even Europe. She is pretty fluent in Italian and not quite fluent in Spanish and perhaps is as good at French as I am. She is also not quite fluent in Japanese. Well, she is miles ahead than most of us.

She has just sent us some photos of her visit to Spain and something clicked with me. She is actually quite an attractive lass. You know, you see your friends all the time. You see them, but you don't in some ways.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Easter #2

Saturday morning started with a leisurely breakfast. Mother had a bad night, as was expected by all, and wanted to see a doctor. We left Bone Doctor to deal with her and take her to see a doctor while we set off to the Point Lonsdale market at the primary school. It was quite a good market and busy enough. Little Jo managed to screw some money out of us for an apron with pockets for individual pens and a note pad.

We had planned to go to a nature park, not sure where, in the afternoon, but Mother did not feel up to it. Sister cooked us some lunch and we decided to take a short trip on the Queenscliff to Drysdale steam train. The Bellarine Railway runs regular steam services, Thomas the Tank Engine trips for the kiddies, excursions and the Blues Train. The trip was to Lakers Siding and back, less than an hour and quite long enough.

Sister cooked us roast pork for dinner and we set off home. Always nice to get home.

The market had a great atmosphere with everyone in a good mood.

Here comes our train. It passed by, shunted and returned on the nearest track to hook up the carriages. Note the guy dark haired guy in the tight blue jeans and top.

Our engine reversing and preparing to hook up. Normally I would identify this engine as a decent sized black one, but for you train buffs, it is a T Class narrow gauge locomotive built by Walkers of Queensland for South Australian Railways. It was retired in 1970 and after some use as a tourist train for the Bellarine, was withdrawn then restored and renovated between 1991 and 2009.

0.5 of a second before the buffers hit.

Gratuitous shot of guy in blue top and blue jeans. Nice smile.

We are under way and engine is belching out smoke.

Swan Bay. Possibly not the peaceful place you might imagine. The boat is going to be very messy with all these birds perched along its edges.

The white house appeals to me. While they are almost on the water's edge, there is no beach with most of the land between the houses and the water being swamp wetlands.

I'm not sure if this house is finished, but I like what I see. Just past here two women were pacing the train on their bikes. 'Mummy, Mummy', Little Jo cried out, and sure enough Sister and Bone Doctor were pacing the train on their respective bikes. 'Faster Mummy, faster'. But then they ran out of road.

The engine needed some water. See the mother with her children who walked from their nearby home to see the engine? The mother called out, hello Little Jo. God, can't we go anywhere!

The remains of a bunker at Lakers Siding. What was it for? Shell grit apparently.

Monday, May 02, 2011


Bin Laden has been 'taken out'. No great loss. Good to be rid of a terrorist.

But you know, I feel a bit uncomfortable about the apparent glee.

The US celebrates after Barack Obama confirms Osama bin Laden has been killed.

Our Prime Minister Gillard says she welcomes the news of the death of Osama bin Laden.

At least ex PM Howard was a little more circumspect. 'The death of Osama bin Laden has removed from the world...'

The ever so foppish ex Tory Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, expressed that we should not rejoice at the death of a fellow human being, but it is an exciting moment.

British PM described the death of Osama bin Laden as a relief to people across the world, and then his government immediately increased the terrorist threat alert!

Call me a bleeding heart if you wish, but I don't celebrate the murder of anyone. Far better to imprison and torture them.

From NZ

When ABI Brother returned from New Zealand and stayed the night before he went home, he presented us with this souvenier. It measures only a couple of inches, or 50cmmm, as he gave it to us, but once put in water, it expanded to become a tea towel, albeit a thin one. Upon it are images of rugby shirts but in spite of Victor's best educational efforts, I am not sure if they are the shirts of the common working class rugby or the posh variety of rugby. For some reason I think everybody knows about these shrunken cloths and I am the last person to know. Kinda cute hey.

A defective memory of steam

Steam Rail was running some choof choof trains in Mother's neck of the woods. Mother and ABI Brother both agreed that when they first moved to the town on the Gippsland train line in the mid 1970s, they were serviced by country steam trains before the suburban electric trains arrived to carry them to the city.

I don't think so, said moi. I need to research.

Because, I used to travel on the Gippsland train and as far as I can recall, it was an electric train that received its power from overhead wires. On the odd occasion I am right.

The Gippsland train was electric powered from overhead wires at least as far as Traralgon. Some memory kicked in and I recalled that the electric motor engines were due for replacement and as the rest of Victoria was by then a system with the trains powered by their own diesel generators, it was thought not to be economical to buy new overhead powered electric country trains. So, the overhead wiring and associated electric components were removed and the Gippsland line was converted to diesel electric. I don't know the economics of it, but removing a fully electric train seems just wrong to me.

Although in the 1970s Mother and ABI Brother may have seen the occasional steam train pass through, what they must remember travelling on were diesel electric trains belching out smoke.

When the suburban electric train arrived to offer Mother's town a more frequent service, for some reason, perhaps timing, perhaps comfort, perhaps a faster trip, Mother continued to use the country train when she wasn't supposed to. She was told off more than once and once she made an mistake and the train did not stop at her station and she had to call Step Father to collect her from the next station.

Now I must break the news to Mother that she did not ride on steam trains.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

A visitor

This little fella visited my bathroom. He seems to be a somewhat vain. I am not sure how he came in, but by the morning, he was gone.

Easter #1

We spent good Friday and Saturday at Sister's and the Bone Doctor's place on the Bellarine. Mother and ABI brother stayed two more nights. The weather was coolish but dry. Sister does not feel heat or cold and so heating was left off. It is rare I feel the cold but I did. I actually had to wear more than a shirt inside which I never do at home. What is the point of digging up all that dirty coal and burning it if we can't use the electricity to stay warm?

We stopped for lunch at McDonalds in Geelong, as we always have. There is some open land there where we used to give the dogs a run when we still had them. I won't repeat about Toby getting wet and muddy in the creek once. For a moment I glanced at McDonalds healthy options. No, don't be silly. You don't go to Maccas for healthy food.

After coffee at Sister's we ventured out to Queenscliff with me at the wheel of the Bone Doctor's truck and Little Jo strapped firmly in her booster seat. There was some doubt about my truck driving skills I think, well, it is only a proper 4WD but I did not have to say that I have driven a 1950s truck with a non syncro mesh gear box, steering that would lock up when you were half way around a corner and a gear stick that came out in your hand. Sister and Bone Doctor rode their bikes and met us there but then Bone Doctor received a call and she had to go and give some medical treatment.

The main street of Queenscliff was closed for a children's busker festival to fund raise for the Royal Children's Hospital Good Friday Appeal. Mostly the performers were atrocious, but I did get Little Jo to give a few coins to a young female saxophonist. I like young people to play instruments.

Little Jo participated in dance class, had her face painted and received a spray on tattoo, a heart surrounded by two dolphins. We bought a minimal amount of lollies and an ice cream each. Sister was chatting to various different people who she knew. Seems she can't go anywhere without knowing people, so we mostly took Little Jo around. Even without her mother, Little Jo was greeted by strangers to us by name. The sky looked threatening so we headed for home.

Mother and ABI Brother had arrived. We left Sister to prepare dinner and took a walk to the beach. Sister cooked mussels in a tomato sauce for entrée and R had brought his annual good Friday kedgeree construction from home where he prepared it earlier. Mother had some crumbed fish. Very nice meal and an early night.

We had a little time to spare when we arrived in Geelong so we took a drive along The Esplanade in the suburb of Rippleside. My what grand houses, all taking advantage of views across the water. This was my favourite. Sister later told me what the houses were worth when she first moved to Geelong some twenty years ago and what they are now worth. Sob!

Across the water to the city and waterfront of Geelong.

Sister noticed her bike steering was becoming very light and the front of the bike lifting when Little Jo was on the back in a seat. They have now bought a bike tandem trailer I suppose you would call it. The other bike was recently found on a nature strip as hard rubbish. Bone Doctor gave it some oil and some ribbons. It had training wheels with it too.

Queenscliff. A strangler fig, I believe.

Little Jo getting her spray on tatt.

High tide and the beach has disappeared under wild wild waves.

Some cute paving work, possibly at a school.