Saturday, September 03, 2011

If it looks like a duck...

quacks like a duck, it must be a swan.

While my dislike of ex planning minister Justin Madden knew no bounds for the the approval of the destruction of our history and outrageous planning decisions that some have suggested were corrupt, it seems the new planning minister Matthew Guy is tarred with the same brush. Oddly, ex Minister Madden is now occupied with protesting against the construction of a tall building being built near his home.

Number three to five St Kilda Road St Kilda is an approved site for a twenty six storey apartment building. Planning Minister Guy called the development in, meaning he took approval out of the City of Port Phillip's hands, and approved it. The council would not have approved the building. The local residents certainly didn't want it. Just like Madden used to, Guy rides rough shod over council's and resident's wishes and opinions.

What is wrong with a high rise building in a street of highrise buildings? Well, that part of St Kilda Road is not highrise at all. Single and double storey building surround the site. It is a very dominant location, slightly up St Kilda hill from the Junction.

Here are a couple of photos of the site I took from a tram as I passed by.

It is such an incredibly inappropriate location for a twenty six storey building. Clearly there is a lack of influential people living nearby, unlike when the ever so posh Domain apartment building was about to lose some of its views by a tall building being built nearby.

Domain resident's objections were received from property developer and former chief of Crown Casino, Lloyd Williams, trucking magnate Lindsay Fox, former City of Melbourne Lord Mayor, former Liberal Party treasurer and boss of the Australian Grand Pricks organisation, Ron Walker, and state parliament MLC Andrea Coote. I believe one former Federal MP, Peter Reith (balaclava clad scabs on the docks, along with attack dogs, and a son racking up monster phone bills for us taxpayers to pay, and lies about refugees throwing their children overboard from a boat, if you need some reminding), may well own an apartment there too. Their objections were sustained and planning permission denied.

So Minister Guy, I am not suggestion any corruption or favours for mates, but you need to be very careful of the adage, if it looks like a duck....

A Goat Track

A goat track might be an obvious pair of words, but it has a meaning when planners are deciding where paths go. A contractor was once telling me about some work he was doing at Monash University. The plans for a path across an open grassed area were clearly marked, but a so called goat track had already worn into the grass where the students were walking. He wanted the plans amended so that the path would be laid where the goat track had formed. His request was denied. The last time he was on the site proved the point. No one was using the path but continuing to use the goat track. Paths must go where people actually walk as the building next to us discovered.

Look at the photo. See the path enclosing the garden bed? It is kind of horse shoe shaped around the garden bed. An additional path passes through the middle of the bed. That was how it was originally.

But the it is a corner block. People were taking a short cut, across lawn to get to the path and cut off the street corner, so a short section was added that leads to the main footpath, on the left of the photo. It became a practical shortcut to cut off the corner. It was a curvy path and if you have seen the movie Mon Oncle, it was somewhat like walking the garden path to the front door of the house. I always walked on the path whereas R cut out the curve in the path and walked across the lawn.

Many people cut across the lawn and while the lawn was watered, it coped with the foot traffic, but come the drought and the water was shut off, a hard goat track was worn to shortcut the winding path. You can see the dirt area between the old and new paths.

Now a more direct path has been laid and no one will be walking on the grass anymore. The bright white new path meets the old path just out of the photo on the right. Paths need to go where people will walk, not where planners and landscapers think they should go.

A pinch of acrophobia was involved in taking this photo.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Two heads better than one

I have forgotten why our friend from Japan had a Tasmanian bear. Obviously it was a gift, but who lives or is connected to Tassie and would appreciated the gift. Regardless, cute isn't it, or should that be aren't they.

The L Platers

As did my peers, by the age of 14 I was quite proficient with the mechanics of driving, with only road skills to develop. By the age of 18 I was quite experienced enough with on road driving. I decided to have a lesson with a professional instructor, a woman who had been an instructor for years. In spite of me disliking her Hillman Hunter intensely, I must have been ok, as she did not say I need umpteen lessons, but that I was ready to go for my licence. The day after I turned eighteen, I had my driving licence. Much as I now dislike driving, it is impossible to imagine not being able to drive.

I was on a tram in Lygon Street and it stopped between stops and the driver was ringing his bell at a learner driver who was sitting on the tram tracks while waiting for cars to clear in the opposite direction before completing his or her turn into the Vic Roads street, the driving licence authority. I have seen this before at the same location. They are professional driving instructors teaching the students to drive, yet they have their students sit illegally on the tram tracks and blocking a tram.

I remember when a blogger from the past returned from working in London and needed a driving licence in Australia. Blonde as a Brunette had a very nasty time with three different instructors, as I recall.

But surely if you use such a top organisation, such as The Royal Automobile Club of Victoria, you expect the driving instructor standards to be high. Maybe three hundred metres further down Lygon St, almost at Elgin Street, there is another student driver sitting right on top of a 'Keep Clear' painted on the road. This was not one of those dodgy ACME driving instructors, but no less than the RACV.

Once Professor Fels has finished his enquiry into the our taxi industry, perhaps he could start on the driving instructor mess. And include the RACV. It is one thing for parents to teach their children bad driving habits, but quite another when supposedly professional instructors just don't seem to have a clue.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Maccas Coffee

Some time ago I had a rant about McDonalds coffee. Mother is food allergic. She is allergic to almost every food known to man and woman kind but oddly, she is not allergic to McDonald's food. It is her favourite place to dine, so dine there we do, every so often.

My post was about how the television advertising showed the McDonalds staff making a nice cup of coffee and serving it in a china cup. That was not my experience. I was served a disgusting cup of coffee for an extremely high price and in a paper cup. I don't flatter myself that my post made Maccas change their mindset, but I am sure what I wrote did not go unnoticed. Shortly after, Maccas went down the road of baristas to make coffee. Yeah, right.

I thought it was Mother who told me this story, but no, it was R. He was at a Maccas place for work reasons. A woman nearby had bought a cup of coffee from the McCafe counter and she was moaning on to her husband that it came in a paper cup and not like it was now being advertised on tv where it was served in a china cup. She arose from her seat and took her latte to the counter and complained. I often have cafe latte. A well made latte is a joyous thing, especially if they get the froth right. It needs to be silky smooth, pattern on top or not, not withstanding. Once the delicious froth is spooned off, below is the delicious coffee.

So what did the McDonald's barista do with the latte that the woman complained about because it was served in a paper cup? She tipped in into a china cup and presented it back to the woman.

All that money Maccas spent on advertising and possibly training some people how to make coffee properly to try to convince the coffee connoisseurs of Melbourne that they were in the running in the decent coffee stakes.

There truly is joy in my life.

Ten years on

It is just over ten years since Shirley Strachan, the lead singer of Australia's greatest seventies band (no argument entered into) Skyhooks, was killed in a helicopter crash. I wasn't a great one for attending pop concerts but I did see Skyhooks live in a small venue. The teenage me was almost swooning with desire.

ABC Melbourne's broadcaster Red Symons, a band member of Skyhooks, said it solemnly and without further comment when introducing a tribute, 'It is ten years since my friend Shirley died'.

Of course I had to look at some other Skyhooks clips. I won't embed this one, just a link. Red sings quite a bit and Shirley is topless. I wonder how the sixty plus year old Red explains it to his teenage kids!

Oh, and today is the anniversary of the death of Diana who's humanity changed the English royal family forever. The world is a better place for her having been a royal. A fabulous photo of her here, and a nice one of her ex husband and sons.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I was only, twenty four hours from Tulsa...

Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain
And that waving wheat can sure smell sweet
When the wind comes right behind the rain.

Out of breath now after my rendition of the rollicking song Oklahoma from the musical by the same name. It is good to find out about places you don't know about, no?

Towanda's (Linda) Blue Skies blog says she lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, although I think she lives somewhat out of Tulsa, but let us look at Tulsa.

Mother adored Gene Pitney. He sang Twenty Four Hours from Tulsa. So there you go, my sum knowledge of Tulsa.

I will sing again.

Oh, I was only 24 hours from Tulsa,
Ah only one day from your arms

Both great songs.

Onto the Wikipedia details. Greater Tulsa, population about one million, in the county of Tulsa, located at the foothills of the Ozarks in one direction and the rolling Oklahoma plains on the other. Ozarks? Now I am hearing hill billy music and thinking Deliverance, oink oink, and Beverly Hillbillies.

Come listen to a story about a man names Jed
A poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed.

I am in such fine voice today.

The city has highrise buildings, as if that is a recommendation, and is unevenly divided by the Arkansas River. It was a premium oil city but has diversified to meet the economic challenges of the 21st century.

Tulsa hosts the most inland port in the country and has one of the most sophisticated flood control systems in the country. Why?

Its average rainfall is 42 inches, just over 1,000 mm and it seems a lot of rain can fall at once. Try 15 inches in one night, back in 1984. It is hot in the summer, with a maximum of 46c recorded and it can also suffer from high humidity. But it can be cold too, with snow in winter.

Ozone alerts are issued at times when ozone concentrates over the city when there is little wind.

It is also located in 'Tornado Alley', so yep, it cops tornadoes too. As nice as Tulsa might be, the weather is really putting me off. Let's find some positive stuff.

Its topography is varied enough, with hills for the rich people to live on. It has plenty of well vegetated parks and open spaces. In its older areas there is a large number of Art Deco buildings. There are plenty of cultural institutions too.

Population mix?
White 61%
Black 16 %
Hispanic/Latino 12%
and others
with native Americans being less than 4%, which seems a bit on the low side given it was theirs in the first place.

Oh, not so good. Tulsa race riots in 1921 with possibly 300 people killed, mostly black people. 1250 residences destroyed with 10,000 left homeless.

We will wrap with something good. Tulsa businessman Cyrus Avery is known as the father of Route 66. He campaigned for the building of a road to link Chicago to California and the city is known as the birthplace of Route 66. Well, good on him for getting his kicks. I won't sing this time.

Magic Mountain

I am absolutely incensed at being educated about Australia by an American, but I often am. When we were in Glenelg in Adelaide a month or so ago, something was missing. I recall alluding to it in a post, but I wasn't quite sure what was missing. It was big. It was a wall. No one helped. Where was this thing I remembered from 1983? What was it? A kind of rock wall.

Well, it took Dina to get my cogs meshed, and it was Magic Mountain. Dina mentioned it today. I thought it was on Jetty Road or thereabouts, but it was bit further along the beach.

Magic Mountain was a small theme park. It was demolished in 2004, probably deservedly so, as was Adelaide's Marineland demolished.

In the 1930's, Glenelg had it's own Luna Park. It lasted only four years. Then the rides were disassembled and sent to Luna Park in Sydney.

That's very interesting.

In 1982, a new park was opened in the area. It was called Magic Mountain. Lord Wiki says this stayed open until 2004. It was well-liked by some...especially young people. It was disliked by others. They thought it was ugly.

That's it Dina, precisely what I remember.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Movie from Ebay

In spite of me wondering why people buy movies they like on dvd, I have now been guilty of it. It was so cheap, I couldn't resist. Now, what was it called? Avatar, no, Matrix, no........ah, got it, The Long Long Trailer.

I watched some of it today. It was good, but not as uproariously as funny as I remembered it. Perhaps I should have waited until R was here to watch it with me.

It stared Lucille Ball and Dezi Arnez. They buy an extremely long caravan (trailer) and a new car so that the Lucy character can be with her husband in a semblance of a home as he travels the States for work reasons. I have seen them cause traffic jams and demolish a distant relative's garden and pergola. They have sunk the caravan into mud and dined on a rather distinct angle. I had to go back to work, and so I haven't yet seen where Lucy collected so many souvenir rocks that the car and caravan became uncontrollable on a long down hill road.

I have never seen the movie in its entirety, so the rest of it will be interesting.

Simpler times.

Not quite the same

When I was a kid, a few of things about the US fascinated me. Through reading US blogs, I have learnt that there are probably hundreds of words that are different between Australia and the US and yet mean the same thing. The ones I can remember noticing when I was a child are faucet for tap, fender for mudguard and trunk for boot and several names used when toilet was the word I knew.

Toilet has just reminded me of my second overseas trip, to Thailand, where the hotels had American style toilets. I panicked the first time I flushed the toilet and alarmingly the bowl filled with water. Oh no, it is going to overflow, and then with some gurgling and a whirlpool, the water drained away. Airplane toilets can be quite alarming too when you use them for the first time.

Telephone cords. US telephone cords were so long, you could strut around your lounge room with the phone in your hand, instead of like here where you were trapped with a couple of feet of cord at the telephone table in the hall.

Another thing I picked up about the US from tv was the huge size of the houses and that they were nearly all two storey. I am little wiser now. But the memory of fine and large two storey houses remain in my mind. How about this cracker house from Isn't it just a wonder.

Do you have similar false impressions of the US usually because of television and movies?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Mr and Mrs Morcombe

I would not blame anyone for going to pieces when the remains of their son who was abducted and killed, and god knows what happened in between, are found some years later. Daniel would now be 21 years old. It is a tragedy and his family is entitled to scream, cry, stamp, lash out and blame. Many in lesser situations do.

But the dignified manner in which Daniel's parents Bruce and Denise Morcombe have conducted themselves publically since Daniel went missing eight years ago is more than just admirable. It is truly amazing.

I doubt I would have the wherewithal. I dips me lid to you Bruce and Denise and your family.

Father of the year

Across the road from Mother's is a house that can only be described as a rental house. Let us just say it has minimal street appeal. Various tenants have come and gone, some ok, but mostly not. Mother is pleased that there is now a respectable tenant living there now. She has spoken to him a couple of times.

Every morning at eight o'clock he loads his daughter onto his motorbike and takes her to school. He is a single father bringing up a daughter.

I don't actually know if he is a great father, but on the face of it, he does his duty at least. While I know many women have brought up whole families on their own, that does not negate what this bloke does. He may not be the perfect father, but from what Mother says, he is pretty good from what she has observed.

Perhaps he could be Father of the Year? Not a chance. It always goes to a rich and or famous person. This year it is Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, the retired chief of Australia's defence forces.

I call into question that he is a good choice. For the third time when he was pressed about his views on same sex parenting, he evaded and obfuscated.

This Father of the Year, choose a famous person, is an anachronism that should have passed on years ago, or been reinvented to include people like my Mother's neighbour.

When I was young, I would have been all for whatever parenting model suits. Now I am older, I think the ideal is Mum, a Dad, and a brother and sister (and a white picket fence). That's what getting old does to you.

Regardless, a child brought up by whatever combination of parents, so long as the child is brought up in a loving way and shown the right way to go in the world by example, that can't be bad.

So damn you Houston with your tightly defined mindset of how children should be brought up.

Btw, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston received honours for his time as a chief of our forces. Err, have you read the papers of late? What a mess the services are. I am not so sure that he should be proud of his legacy or should be awarded for it.

Meet Fuzzy Coco

Sister got a dog, supposedly for Little Jo, but the dog is proving popular in Bellarine Peninsula household (is that with or without an r? I can't remember. I am terrified. The peninsular police will get me. Why oh why can't I remember. Why oh why can't I be bothered checking now). It is a dog that the owner had to get rid of, a one year old bitch with all vaccinations and spayed.

So now when we look after Little Jo, we apparently look after Fuzzy Coco too. Fuzzy came to Sister for a trial, looking as in the first photo. The trial was successful and they took on Fuzzy full time. She is a wonderful dog that needs some obedience training, but has a great temperament and is very affectionate. We met Fuzzy for the first time Saturday and we got on famously. She seemed to get very attached to me and shadowed me wherever I went. I went out the door to the landing to put a bag of rubbish down the chute and Fuzzy rushed to the window to see where I had gone, even though it is in the opposite direction.

But Sister is upset now. When she took Fuzzy to the beach, she became a conversational topic among the local walkers etc. But Sister left Bone Doctor in charge of getting Fuzzy a haircut, and look at the result. Now, no one on the beach talks to Sister about her dog anymore. Sister said, the haircut turned Fuzzy into a St Kilda Road dog. She may well have a point there.

Saturday while Sister was off at the football, and Bone Doctor was looking after the welfare of players at two different subsequent footy matches, we entertained Little Jo. We took her to the beach for a picnic. She played in the sand park, we had our lunch and then made sand castles. Well, R did. I looked after Fuzzy. I didn't feel she could be let off the leash. She is not trained to come when called. I guess once footy season has finished, Fuzzy Coco might go to obedience classes.

Once home, Little Jo did some 'craft' with R while I tidied up. I was just about to sit at the computer when R set up some ABC kids progamme for her to watch and he then fell asleep on the couch. I read for a bit and then I had to print out something for Little Jo to colour in. She busied herself with that, and then together we made cup cakes. You would not believe the mess. Well, I suppose some of you would know.

While Little Jo at a young age was so easy to handle and so gorgeous, now at over four years old, she is maturing and you can actually have a conversation with her. She is interested in wider things and asks questions and is ever alert to what adults around her are talking about (rather like her Aunty Andrew in that regard) . R complimented me about the way I looked after her while he snoozed away, well snooze as well as you can when a dog keeps jumping up on you. Little Jo can amuse herself and does not need constant attention such as R gives her.

And no sooner had Sister left, than we were out for dinner. We should have gone back to our friend's for coffee afterwards, but we were exhausted and I had to be up early for work on Sunday.

Just as Sister and Little Jo were leaving, Sister called out, Little Jo, you didn't flush. The toilet was flushed. The next time it was flushed, the bowl filled up with water. Whatever was down there, wasn't shifting. Eventually R cleared whatever the obstruction was with three kettles of boiling water.

Fuzzy Coco pre haircut.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Quiet Dinner

We thought it would be a quiet dinner. Instead it turned into a large gathering at our old local, near where we used to live and a favourite place of the late Dame M. We were lacking the token female. No Brighton Antique Dealer, no dyke friends.

We must have been quite a spectacle, 17 men all dining together in a pub at one long table. But not just for that sole reason. Our ethnic diversity was obvious too.

One Chinese mainlander.
One Chinese Malaysian.
One Fijian Indian.
One Malaysian Indian.
One Indian Indian.
One Lithuanian.
Another Indian Indian.
One Jewish born Australian.

The rest were of Anglo heritage, but also diverse in age and positions in life. Age varied from 22 to about 80.

A retired politician.
A retired priest.
Two accountants.
A council worker.
Retail workers.
Service workers.
Caring profession workers.

Some thirty years ago through a workmate we met our brother friends. From them we met the retired politician. The rest we all know via him and we know them all quite well, bar one new guy, the Chinese mainlander.

My original workmate? He told us, youse can all get fucked, and went off to live in the country.

Funny how life works out.

Out the Window

Sometimes visitors or tradespeople ask if we get sick of the view, or rather don't take any notice anymore. As we have been here for nine years, you might think it is quite possible that we don't take much notice. The answer to the question is always an emphatic no. Highrise living may not be for everyone, but it suits us very nicely.

Favourite Time of Day

A blog mate recently mentioned that she? had a favourite time of day. I am writing this at midnight, so you might suppose I am a night person. I don't think I am really. I love an early night and I like seeing the sun rise and the city come to life. It is extra good to see people bashing off to work when I don't have to. Once I am no longer governed by work, I hope I am morning person who gets up early and gets out and does and achieves things, all before 11am.

But the most interesting people I have known in my life, that is the fun and wicked people are/were not morning people. They were usually too hung over to function well in the morning. They still got things done, but in the afternoon and evenings.

I could be either really. The discipline of work keeps me on the straight and narrow, but what if I didn't have that?

How about you? Are you are morning person or a night person? Are you a morning lark or a creature of the night?