Friday, August 26, 2011

Getting a good old rough Montmorency ride

I am privileged to be born into a first world country. I am not a very hungry fifty year old watching his child starve to death.

Hawthorn is playing at the Gee tomorrow, so naturally Sister will attend and we will have Little Jo to care for. I would like to do craft, said she. Three hours of craft is too long. We will take her to the sand park and have a chino and probably some chips too. It might be more fun to take her on a rollicking train ride.

I try to keep a sense of perspective about starving children in Africa, but I often fail. But I also fail to see how this train is a first world suburban train. It is nonsense that a passenger could be injured by the rollicking train. They are well insulated from what the undercarriage does, but it does not look good and nor does it look safe. What a ripper clip though. Of course noted is that it is a single track section. How primitive. Now when is the Hurstbridge Wattle Festival? I wanna ride on this train line.

A laugh to start your weekend

I thoroughly disapprove of racist humour. I will have no truck with it all. It is not necessary and by using racist humour, you indicate your lack of intellect and no real skill at being funny. But me being Australian, I can take the proverbial out of my own country folk.

So, a man was admiring the work of two Australians, Paddy and Mick. Paddy was digging a hole in the street and then Mick was filling them in. The man had watched them for some time and eventually approached them and told them what a fine job the industrious pair were doing.

'But fellahs, why are you digging a hole and then filling it in again?'

'It's our job,' replied Paddy. 'There's no reason for us to bludge just because Seamus the tree planter didn't come to work'.

But wait, there is more.

After Paddy and Mick finished their hard day's work, there were to meet there fellow Aussie tradie mates, Sean and Ryan at the local pub for some after work beers. After waiting a while at the pub, Ryan called Paddy and apologised for not turning up and explained that he and Sean had been unavoidably detained.

Oh Dear

In one way we have done much better in 2011. We haven't had all the breakdowns at the Highrise we had in 2010. But personally I feel it is not my year. I must have mega aged.

A couple of months ago, R sat next to a woman on a tram. We were clearly together. 'Would you like my seat?', the woman asked me. I looked over my left shoulder and right shoulder. Nope, it was clear she was speaking to me. 'I'm fine thanks', I replied. 'You sure? I have been sitting in lectures all day and I am getting off in a couple of stops.'

Err, was that someone offering an older person a seat on public transport? I consoled myself with she was a person in her thirties and still going to uni lectures and just wanted a bit of social interaction with sensible down to earth people. And interact we did before she left the tram.

A couple of weeks later a co-worker who I don't speak to for reasons in the past, but he keeps trying to engage me, said 'How old are you? 63? When are you going to retire?' FYI, I am nearly 54. Ouch, that hurts to see it written in ink. He was deliberately being nasty.

Last week we got on a tram and there was one vacant seat. R is suffering from a cold. Instead of grabbing the seat for myself, I suggested he sit, which he did. 'Would you like a seat?', said a voice. Who? Me? Yes, it was me she was speaking too. 'I'm Fine thanks', and I smiled at her with a kindly elderly person look, while I felt like smacking her in the face. 'Can't you see I am only 25 you stupid child.' The man sitting next to R left the tram and I sat and then an old woman got on the tram and I felt compelled to give her my seat.

And then there was the incident at the Otway Fly before we went to Adelaide. R requested a Senior's price admittance, to which he is entitled, and it was automatically assumed I was a Senior too, and also entitled. I should have kept my gob shut, paid the lower price and shuffled away.

There is a certain smugness you feel when you get older as you start to relax into your older years. While clearly I don't feel entirely comfortable with it, I am going to take full advantage of it.

Off to practice my glare at school kids look to shame them into giving me a seat.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

About Town

If you walk about the fair city of Melbourne, don't just go about your business, look around. There is a lot to see. You can look up and see what few people bother to see. But even ground level has plenty of interest, well for me anyway.

Young people may wonder what this water is for. It is for passers by to water their horses. Watering your horse does not mean holding a watering can full of water over the horse, but simply giving the horse a drink. In my experience dogs quite like to drink from them too and after a hot hour of chasing errant cattle around, jumping into the water trough is the dog's preferred method of cooling off.

I have posted a photo of this lovely old building before (third photo down) which is now a bar or cafe or both. There are three or four of these odd baskets of terracotta pots.

The old Russell Street Police Headquarters, from back in the good old days before there was any police corruption. What? For some reason the radio mast, for D24, reminds me of RKO pictures. As well as being associated with the tv show Homicide, it was the site of a huge bomb blast (oh, I've written about that too). Now it is smart apartments student accommodation but has retained its beautiful exterior.

Funny, I always imagined Bennetts Lane Jazz Club to be, well, in Bennetts Lane. Instead I find it in Latrobe Street. Ah, a map tells me Bennetts Lane is in behind the frontage. Anway, I don't like trilling trumpets, bellowing bugles or crying clarinets. I am so not a kool cat.

My Store Myer, well not anymore. Not that bit anyway. I just googled their advertising slogan, My Store Myer, and found my own post from last year. The open fireplace and chimney are interesting. I would guess it was a boiler firing fireplace. I don't think that part was actually the Myer store.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cadel in Melbourne

World champion Australian cyclist and Tour de France winner Cadel Evans has rather old hands for his age.

Our friend from Japan made me stand in Exhibition Street holding up the mask. Oh, the humiliation of it all.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Park here in exchange for a pint of your blood

At the urging of Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, The Productivity Commission has taken a peek at the pricing for Melbourne Airport Parking.

Now you ask anyone how they feel about the cost of parking at Melbourne Airport, and you will get one answer only. Rip off!

In fact Vic Roads in cahoots with Melbourne Airport and erected barriers to prevent people parking on the edge of the freeway leading to Airport, while those parked waited for the call to collect someone.

Can any of you tell me of anyone who says, Melbourne Airport parking charges are very reasonable and fair? Perhaps you move in different circles to me and you may know such a person. I do not.

Melbourne Airport was privatised in 1997 and is leased from the federal government and run by Australian Pacific Airports Corporation, its major shareholders being AMP, Deutsche and Hastings Fund Management.

All private companies are there to make a profit. So how do they make a profit? They charge airlines landing fees, retail shops pay rent, office rents and car parking. A whole one fifth of their revenue, that is 20%, comes from car parking.

Well, it is a damn good thing that the Productivity Commission looked at the usurious car parking charges.

They have published their report. Oh, the charges are not excessive.

Hundreds of thousands of people think they are, and one little select group does not. How is $12 for one hour of parking when you are collecting or taking someone to airport not a rip off?

If I am looking for a punch on the nose, I might quote the findings of the report to the next person I hear moaning about Melbourne Airport's car parking charges.

If you want to torture yourself, a direct link in the wider report is here.

Of course we could built a train line to the airport like Sydney and experience even more outrages, but we would have to make certain nonsense doesn't happen as when governments get mixed up with private companies.

Later edit: I don't normally read comments on stories at The Age. I do at the Herald Sun at times, and then roll my eyes at the general lack of logic. But hey, the comments at The Age on this story are perfectly accurate.

Bad Taxis

Taxi ranks are useful. This is not a taxi rank but one of the many places within the city where taxis illegally gather. There is rarely any enforcement of the bylaws. They are only supposed to travel for one block in Swanston Street and only stop to pick up of drop a passenger. We can only hope when cars are properly banned from Swanston Street, they will move to their appropriate ranks. The problem is much worse at night time. They block trams. They sit in bus stops. They queue around corners. The police do nothing. The Taxi Directorate does nothing. City of Melbourne does nothing. Like motorcyclists with loud exhausts, taxis can disobey the law with impunity. Lord Mayor Doyle makes all the right noises, but the proof of the pudding.....

Monday, August 22, 2011


One would hope that R have more in common than us both liking red glass. It is but one thing we have in common.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Just Another Sunday

I worked late on Saturday night while R swanned off with friends for dinner. Once home, instead of staying up late, chatting and drinking, we went to bed relatively early. I did not want to look hungover as we had a lunch to attend and an interesting lunch it was. I may have still looked hungover, but I wasn't.

We met two people who I know only via my blog. There is no real reason not to say who they are, but there is no real reason to say who they are.

Nevertheless, we met outside Club X in Acland Street, St Kilda. I suggested there as there is a bit of space and some seats. Acland Street can get very crowded.

We had some nice food at Cafe Bala, somewhat of a St Kilda institution I was to learn. But meeting strangers without having a drink in hand is hard work. Things improved muchly once we adjourned to Dogs Bar, another St Kilda institution.

In spite of us frequently having breakfast at Mojito in South Yarra, I have never tasted a mojito cocktail. It just seems so inappropriate to drink a mojito with your bacon and eggs at 9.30am, for me anyway. Who is saying 'why not'?

Our lunch companions had very fine mojitos the night before elsewhere, so we ordered mojitos and a bottle of wine. The drink was nice enough, but our companions did not think they were as good as they had drunk the night before. I thought they were ok, but perhaps on the weak side. I could well imagine two or three might do you in, so to speak.

Alcohol is not called a social lubricant without good reason, and socially lubricate it did. We had a very pleasant couple of hours chatting and discovering each other, in a very innocent manner of course.

Dog's Bar was nice too. Even though it was a lovely sunny day, we were in the shade and the external heating above us was welcome. As the afternoon wore on, I could not help but notice how many of our fellow patrons knew each other. Even passers by stopped for a chat with patrons. Although Melbourne is a city of nearly five million people, who said you have to live in a small country town to live in a village? They were in their village, among their people.

So are you tempted to go down the nerve making path of meeting someone you know via your blog? I would recommend it, especially if you have known them via their blog for a long time and exchanged personal emails or phone calls.

Is this what is described as social media? It can be very social indeed.

Smart Phone Update

I am extremely happy with my Samsung Android smart phone. It is a wondrous thing. At times I think it is too smart by half. When I wish to gaze on photos of Little Jo when she was a baby, I don't want rudie pictures that someone has sent me in the gallery next to what I am looking at. And somehow it has downloaded thumbnails of photos on my blog. If I click them, I can see them fullsize. If this is convergence, I don't think I want it.

I have never had an Ipod. I have made do with clones. My clone got lost along the way, and I bought a new cheapie. Hey, $30 is $30. It's battery charge won't last for eight hours though.

I see no need anymore for an Ipod style machine. My smart phone does it all and does it better. I just transfer podcasts to my phone from the computer.

I struggled initially with my smart phone. It was chewing through bandwidth and battery power. I discovered applications/services/running apps. Once I shut them all down, problem was solved.

It was very useful as a modem for the laptop on our recent holiday.

I am still discovering its features. Apps I have downloaded are Grindr, purely for observational and stalking purposes, the weather bureau's forecasting, BBC News and ABC News, Tram Hunter, very useful. Opi which is for all public transport, worldwide. I don't think it is real time, but gives timetable information.

While I have no interest in football, I downloaded a live football app. I can speak authoritatively about who is playing when and where and what the scores are.

This one was just to see what it was about. I downloaded a scanner app. I can hear our emergency, police, fire brigade, ambulance service people talking on their two way radios. (2.30 pm: He is alcohol affected and has just fallen through a glass door. His wife made the call and is also alcohol affected. Transport to the Western Hospital, but expect some problems. 2.31pm: He may be armed. We don't know. He may not be armed, we don't know. Use caution.)

I thought apps would change my life. They haven't, but some can be quite useful.

It may well be an age thing, but I just have not come across killer apps. Do you have a killer app that I might like?