Saturday, June 18, 2011

Resident Artist

I bought Little Jo some new paints in tubes. I wasn't home but R instructed her on the use of them. She took no notice and spurted paint everywhere, including over the coffee making table. Must say though, the paint was very vivid and glossy. Come morning the pools of paint had not dried, so the art work had to go.

Winning Friends

Well, I doubt this will win me any friends, however...

It is extremely unlikely I will get killed at work. There is a slim chance, but my workplace is not known to be too unsafe. Should I get killed at work, my family and friends will come to my funeral. The Prime Minister will not.

Yet, if I joined the army, and I was killed in my workplace, the Prime Minister will come to my funeral.

Isn't being in the army inherently dangerous? If the bastardisation doesn't get you, or a sexual assault, or being forced to exercise until you die, a sniper in Afghanistan may well get you.

"The brave soldier killed by a sniper in the service of his country".

No, he or she may be brave or perhaps a coward. Just because they died does not make them brave.

In service for their country? That is exactly what I do. I am in service for the people of Melbourne, Australia and people from all over the world. Mine is a paid job and so is the soldier's. I may not be fighting for Queen and country as a soldier may be, but is that what he or she thought upon joining the armed services?

I am fine with an armed service person's death being significantly reported as it is a measure of our foolishness being involved in foreign wars and the toll does need to be noted. But that the Prime Minister and or all sorts of official types see the need to attend every soldier's funeral seems overkill to me.

I suppose the way things are going in Afghanistan means my issue will sort itself out. There will be too many funerals for the PM to attend and still govern the country.

Partner's of police often think of the dreaded knock at the door, as partner's of soldiers fear the same. Yet it is less of a shock for them if the worst happened than if someone knocked at my door to tell my partner of my death in a workplace accident.

Did the west really think they could succeed in Afghanistan when the Soviet Union failed?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Dropping like flies

One friend is in hospital recovering from kidney stone removal.

Another friend has had to postpone his trip to the Netherlands for a gall stone operation.

Another friend has just been diagnosed with colon cancer. Ten week's ago his sister who he lives with had her breast removed after cancer surgery. Just call them lucky.

In the meantime I feel as fit as a Mallee bull. (Positive old Aussie saying that I hope won't die out)

Later Edit: And ABI Brother has a carcinoma on his forehead. Day surgery.

On the bedside table

Note the title and fear not. It is not In my bedside cupboard.

I feel as if I am starved for spare time of late. I just can't manage to knock either of these books off, yet they are both nearly read.

I looked at broadcaster Jon Faine's book last week, From Here to There, with a view to buy, until I saw the price! $40! He co-wrote the book with his son and it recounts his journey from Melbourne to London in a 4wd. It is on Ebay but not much cheaper, except for one copy that was suspiciously cheap and had to be picked up.

Tim Winton's
Cloudstreet has been on my list of books to read since it was published, some twenty or thirty years ago. I looked for that at Ebay and it is readily available. There have been a few editions but I think I would like the original.

Jane Clifton has written a new book. I just love the gal. Star of Prisoner, comedian, actor, writer. Clever too! Her new book is called The Address Book and tells of her thirty plus homes she has lived in. As the daughter of an English army officer, she and her family lived in many countries. Jane was born in Gibraltar, one sister in Germany and one in Malaya. I am excited about the book. I hope it doesn't disappoint. I found a few loose shekels in my car ashtray. Iwill buy it today and then have three books on the go.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Well, that is a feather in the cap of the bovver boys at the Police Association. It is the first time the Police Association can lay claim to a Police Commissioners scalp. Previous PA bovver boy Mullens could not get rid of Nixon, but to hand him his due, present PA bovver boy Davies has gotten rid of Overland. Meanwhile down below the highrise, a police car is sitting on the median strip with its lights flashing to warn motorists of a speed/red light camera, thus depriving the government of revenue to bolster their pay claim. How many favours does the Police Association want? A police commissioner scalp and a pay rise?

While it is a necessary evil, even in midwinter tourists want to go to St Kilda. I feel sorry for them when they are told they have to walk from St Kilda Junction. Ok, if they are smart and plan and check, it will be easier for them, but still. Massive tram works in St Kilda means no trams in Fitzroy Street or the Esplanade and probably a significant drop off in trade for the associated businesses. Don't worry, it will be better when it is done and the lines will reopen Saturday morning, in spite of me hearing the works are 30 hours behind schedule.

ABI Brother stayed the night. As soon as he heard Kylie was performing in Melbourne, he rushed off and bought a ticket. Both R and myself and Sister kind of regret him not mentioning it to us. We may well have gone too. But then I have always refused to go to mega venues to see a concert.

Little Jo quote via Mother. 'Mummy, how come you are big and J is little?'. Slap the child. I would describe Sister as solid and muscular and J as lean and fit. Perhaps Little Jo was referring to breasts, which would be apt.

We received a bill from the glass window replacement company. We did not know what it was for. Apparently it was for a company that worked for the body corp's insurance company. I would have happily paid it to finalise our window payment. Our bill is still pending after three months. Is there a statute of limitations for bills?

The complaints are arising about why our Teddy has commissioned heaps of reports but is not doing anything? It goes like this, maintain your promises for the first year, but slightly cut, cut heavy the second year, moderate the third year and the last year, in a blaze of glory, distribute largess to the peasants. I just can't wait for all the grand plans in year four. Maybe even some will be funded.

Day whatever of the new phone. I am getting the hang of the lingo. It is a smart phone. I thought my last phone was quite smart enough, but apparently this is really a smart phone. But with doing very little, it is chewing through nearly ten megabytes of bandwidth each day. Maybe it has something to do with WiFi getting automatically turned on and I have to keep switching it off. I have plenty of bandwidth allowance, so it is not of great concern, but I am now analysing where the bandwidth is being used. Today I have done nothing with the phone except one phone call, unanswered, and one incoming, also unanswered. I will check tomorrow. I have my suspicions.

To the country

Poor Mother. She loved her Sunday drives with the late step father. She has had a few drives since he died, courtesy of we descendants, but she wants one every Sunday.

If I am to do something for Mother, I have to consider R, my work times and what days off I have off and other social engagements. I had a glorious Saturday. We had an early brunch out with the Bone Doctor and Little Jo, came home, saw them off, and then took the car to go shopping. Back home and it was only 1 o'clock. I played on the computer, watched some tv, dozed, R cooked a nice dinner and I was in bed quite early.

Sunday I did not have to work, but I did Monday and have to go out for dinner later as well. Ok, we will we take Mother out Sunday.

We arrived at Mother's about 12.30 and lo and behold, Tradie Brother and two of his three were there too, Chainsaw Niece and Dreaded Nephew.

Tradie Brother ignores his personal health matters until they become intolerable. So Aussie bloke like. He had a large infected lump on his back and he asked Chainsaw Niece to lance it. 'S'cuse I', I said. 'I'm going inside'. Apparently the lump had no head and Chainsaw Niece refused to touch to it.

This is a situation when Nanna Fud suddenly switches to being a smart Mother. She rang her doctor and when the doctor said he could not see Tradie Brother before a certain time, she protested and insisted. Given Mother is such a good customer of said doctor, Tradie Brother was fitted in. The doctor wanted to give him a course of antibiotics, but Tradie Brother insisted on the lump being lanced. The doctor did so without a local anaesthetic also at Tradie Bros insistence and prescribed antibiotics.

The family despatched, we headed off with Mother to Tarago Dam, or Reservoir. When I was a kid and we lived not too far away, we always pronounced it TaRAgo. Now it seems it is TARago. It was part of Melbourne's water supply, then switched off but now reconnected.

Firstly we stopped at an apple orchard in Garfield for lunch. It was not a flash place, we had a pie, a drink and a cake, but there was lots of local produce and it was warm enough to sit outside in the winter sun.

I had thought about having lunch at a hotel, either in Garfield or Bunyip, but the idea of sitting in what are usually dingy hotels in the country did not have a high appeal. I did come across a couple of nice looking, and a bit on the expensive side, places in Jindivik.

I had checked my map, Day trips from Melbourne within 100 miles, and Jacksons Track which takes you to Jindivik was shown as a dirt road. Fortunately that information was as out of date as miles are. Going via Jindivik was the scenic route to get to Tarago Dam, and scenic it was. After turning off the freeway, we drove for a good while along a valley of farmland and then we started to climb.

We stopped at Jindivik and what a lovely town it is with fine views both north and south. The Barn was one of the aforementioned restaurants and it had a nursery attached. The nursery was rare and unusual plants and they really were. Mostly they were from South Africa I think. The had some absolutely cracker large urns. There was a kind of a metal fence/gate for sale, at $1600. Mother couldn't get over the price. I will say the prices generally were over the top. The restaurant part of the barn looked very fine and I kind of wished that going there was our day's outing.

On to Tarago Dam. We did not investigate thoroughly, but it seems to be locked off to those other than hearty walkers. It had the feeling of being a bit of a work site.

We journeyed on to Neerim South. I thought I would remember Neerim South from my childhood but there was nothing familiar at all about the town. It is clearly a go ahead place though and it smelt of money. After a visit to a gallery, we took the quick route back to the freeway at Drouin West and home, dropping Mother off on the way.

Robin Hood Hotel at Drouin West was a large two storey hotel and probably even a relic back then but it fascinated us when we were kids. It burnt once or twice and now is a hotel/motel. But Robin Hood seems to have become a place name now. Here are some photos of the day out.

The apple orchard where we had lunch. The apples had finished and the remaining ones starting to dry out and rot. The birds were still quite interested in them though. There was a huge variety of apples for sale within the shop.

A sculpture greeted us in the car park at The Barn in Jindivik.

Labertouche in the distant with some burning off underway. Labertouche was badly affected by the 2009 bush fires when the blaze escaped from the Bunyip Park State Forest. We could see burnt trees upon the hill tops and unfortunately signs of burnt forest having been clear felled.

It's a cow I suppose.

Pots, pots and more pots.

I assume that is the township of Drouin in the distance.

As politician prove, pigs can fly.

Onto Neerim South. I don't think it is a chicken and egg argument. The war memorial would have been there first and the roundabout added later. Pity to isolate it so.

The rolling hills of Neerim South. Fine houses squat upon the distant hills.

Not be mining

They want to mine his land and destroy his tribe's physical art and history.

104 he is, show the dude some respect. Respect.

Fairfax photo.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lighting your life

It is pointless asking any of you about your oldest light bulb that still works. With a couple of exceptions, you all keep moving and don't stay long enough anywhere to have a long time light bulb. Maybe Jah Teh has a really old bulb?

The light bulb in the toilet of my grandparents house lasted twenty two years, until the house was sold, and for all I know it could still be working.

But that is a pretty poor competitor in the long life light bulb stakes. The prize goes to the light bulb in Livermore's Fire Station in the US. The light has been burning pretty well constantly for 110 years.

You can watch it burn via a webcam. I have included a still for you, but it is much better to go to the webcam site to capture the true magic. Books have been written about it. It has its own Facebook site. Mythbusters has looked at it and it is in the Guiness Book of Records. Snopes is happy with the record.

There is countdown clock and as I type there are 2 days, 16 hours, 5 minutes and 28 seconds to go until the bulb reaches it 110th anniversary.

I so wish I could attend the celebrations. There is cake, icecream, balloons and music! Souveniers will be for sale and the book authors will do signings.

It will be a party like none you have ever seen.

The website is here and below is a photo of the esteemed bulb.

The Ash

Isn't Australia the oldest land mass in the world? Isn't that why our soil is generally poor? It is very old dirt, with all the nutrients sucked out over thousands of years. We don't have volcanoes to make new soil, and yet we are incredibly affected by volcanoes at the moment.

Air travel is in chaos. It is queer thing to me that one airline has stopped flying because of the ash cloud from South America, and yet others fly under or around the ash cloud?

While Qantas used to be proudly our government airline, it is now a public company. Its competitors are also. Right, we have established they are all their to make a profit, and so therefore have a large amount of self interest in whether they fly or they don't when there is ash in the air.

After the debacle of the volcanic ash problem in Europe last year, one would have thought protocols would have been worked out by now. Apparently not in Australia.

We have what I think is a quasi government authority known as something like Civil and Aviation Safety Authority.

How can it possibly be that it is left up to profit motivated airlines to decide whether to fly when we have an aviation safety authority? Surely when so many people can be inconvenienced by our major airline not flying by being overly cautious, or minor airlines putting people's lives at risk by flying, well, what can you say but what a mess.

How can there not be an overseeing body who decides whether it is safe to fly or not?

The present situation of some airlines flying and some not is ridiculous. Where is the government? They are who should control such matters, with the advice of experts.

After the the cruel torture and slaughter of our cattle overseas under our government, now the debacle with airline flights when there is ash in the air, I truly despair at the Labor Party. Never mind the 'illegals' and staying in some stupid prop up the US war in some god forsaken country.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A bug and night time works

I don't know how much my camera cost as R bought it for me. I do know it certainly cost more than $500. I usually leave it on Auto and hope for the best, but I was driven to reading the manual over the weekend and played with some settings. It is capable of doing some extraordinary things in the hands of someone who knows about photography and camera settings.

This is the only half decent night time photo I have ever taken. What a lot of fuss and bother to replace one metre of tram track. A fourth truck came along to help after I took the photo. I had the camera resting on the balcony railing and changed the ISO setting, except now I have forgotten in which direction. I altered something else too.

I don't think this is a European wasp. I have no idea what it is. Centre weighted average, adjusted iso and went macro.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pikes Peak Cog Railway

I may well have written a post that did not receive a comment. Yet what a stunning photo it is. Did you click on it to see it larger? Better, click here to see the original.

Let me investigate this odd cog railway further.

Pikes Peak Cog Railway is in Colorado, a mid western state in the United States. Hmm, it only has a population of 5 million, so it is not a highly populated state. That may well be to do with its rugged terrain and weather extremes.

Pikes Peak was named after Zebulon Pike, an explorer, later an army general. While in 1806 he tried and failed to scale its heights, in 1820 one Edwin James managed to get to the top. But the first to scale it really were the Ute Indians who set eagle traps in its heights.

By 1858 everyone was at it, including god forbid, a woman. 1873 saw a weather station built at the peak and a toll gate for climbers.

Mr Zalmon Simmons was founder of the Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway. Simmons should be a familiar name to you, Simmons Mattresses, or Beauty Rest. He was founder of the same. The summit was reached by railway in 1891 and specially designed steam trains made the ascent with the assistance of a rack between the tracks. Mainly for economical reasons, later petrol driven trains were used but the steam trains kept on for times of heavy loading and to clear the track of snow. But then you can't go past diesel for such a type of operation, so diesel rail cars replaced the petrol cars.

Now a variety of railcars operate the the railway, some having been brought over from Switzerland.

The Pikes Peak Cog Railway has a website here.

The earlier photo is dated 1910 and appears to be the petrol driven rail car of sorts.

But have a look at this great piece of film from 1936 showing a steam locomotive battling to clear the snow before the season opens. Have you ever seen a steam engine work so hard? Note the angle of the locomotive, to keep it vaguely level when on inclines.

If I visited Colorado, you can be sure I would take a scenic trip on the train to Pikes Peak.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Who is Bone Doctor?

It is not often I am perplexed. The world holds little for me in the future. Not too much surprises me.

However, and isn't there always one?

We were out for brunch at a local cafe in Prahran with Bone Doctor and Little Jo. Bone Doctor had an early appointment in the city with a financial advisor. Apparently an education fund must be set up for Little Jo to avoid breaching the loss of Part whatever of the family tax act when you earn more than $150,000. Don't we just adore middle class welfare? Whatever, we ran out of change and it was a hard job to extract a dollar coin from the Bone Doctor for Little Jo to have a ride on a merry go round.

R and I subsequently bought a bottle of whisky for tonight and puzzled about how much we earn. Seems to be somewhat less than $150,000 a year. R suggested I work six days a week at work and he retires on his superannuation. I gave him a good hard smack in the mouth.

Ah, am off on tangents.

In spite of my and Bone Doctor's watchful eyes, R and Little Jo disappeared after the merry go round ride. Buying flowers at the market, I told Bone Doctor. I was right. They returned with flowers for us at home and a bunch of roses for Bone Doctor. Little Jo was insistent about flowers being for Bone Doctor. For the purposes of the rest of the post, I will call Bone Doctor, J.

These are for you J, Little Jo said so sweetly and handed her a bunch of roses.
(I piped in, J you can give these to sister and get some benefit or pretend they are for sister from Little Jo)

But there is a puzzlement and I would like my readers help. I have already emailed the Muriels for their experience, but their situation is slightly different. What a nice reply they sent though.

The thing is Little Jo was asked by the florist who R was. He is my Uncle R. That is odd in itself because Little Jo does not normally call R or myself Uncle. We did not even know that Little Jo knew us as uncles. Who are the flowers for, the florist asked Little Jo. For my J was the response. Who is your J?, the florist asked.

Both Little Jo and R were stumped.

Who is J, aka Bone Doctor, in relation to Little Jo? J is Little Jo's parent, her provider, her carer, someone who has been with her for all of her life. I think R is third on the list of important people in Little Jo's life, but J is the second most important person, but how does one describe J? J is nearly ten years younger than sister, slim and boyish and not a mother looking figure. As well as her doctor work, she umpires football, is a team doctor for a football team, jogs and swims in the sea midwinter. Second mother or other mother does not suit at all. Mum J is absurd.

Modern families in the twenty first century. So hard for me. We need to work out some nomenclature.

Suggestions for J's title most welcome.