Saturday, September 10, 2011

Prahran Mural

Commercial Road Prahran/South Yarra has changed over the last three decades and has changed again. It has gone from being a street for the market and light industry, to Melbourne's booming gay strip, to now being a mix of the market and local shops and restaurants with a large accommodation hotel dominating the streetscape. While you can still see many gay people in the street, they are mostly going about their business of general shopping, rather than dining in gay cafes, going to gay bookshops, buying clothes for a gay night out etc etc.

This mural is in Cato Street, which runs off Commercial Road on western side of Pran (sic) Central and although I was initially alarmed when I could not see any immediately recognisably gay person, I did spy a gay couple after a bit. You name a type of person in Melbourne, and there is a good chance you can see them in Commercial Road. It used be nothing for old Greek ladies on their way to the market with their shopping jeeps passing by still dressed from the night before drag queens having breakfast outdoors. Apparently it is not an area for girrrlzzz. Perhaps they are represented in a Northcote or Fitzroy mural.

With limited space, photo stitching was not terribly successful, but you get the idea.

Friday, September 09, 2011

I'm Still Standing

Slightly past tense. We are listening to a compilation cd Bone Doctor made of music Little Jo liked between the age of three and four. I sitting in my lounge chair and a howling gale is blowing outside and a cold draught is coming in under the balcony door. I should block the draught with a towel I suppose, but it looks so messy. Mind when Little Jo is here, the place is always messy.

Little Jo is dancing around the room while R is busy with some Little Jo craft on the making table. Sister and the Bone Doctor are at the football and Little Jo, I and R made pizzas for dinner. There is some left over for the girls when they return.

Abba has finished playing and now it is Elton John singing, I'm Still Standing. I feel such a wave of sadness come over me. Is it a sad song? It sounds quite upbeat. I'm glad I don't suffer from depression but only feel sad at times. I've had a high achieving couple of days off work. All is good in my world. Why the sads? Probably because I am a priviledged westerner and I don't have to worry about the wherewithal to get food to eat tomorrow. I have the luxury of feeling emotional and sad.

Anyway, if this clip was filmed in 1983, I am surprised at the homoeroticism, with some token female scenery.

This week's flower, and last week's and the week before



Northern Neighbour

"Steeped in traditional magic and innocent of modern economies, PNG's citizens prove easy marks for Ponzi schemes which proliferate throughout the country,'' the embassy observed. "Now it's election time … and the politicians are dusting off their bottles of snake oil … it's an appalling spectacle of disregard for governance.''

In another report before the 2007 election, PNG's most recent national poll, the US embassy memorably reported that "the pork has hit the fan" as Sir Michael Somare reallocated ministerial portfolios to ensure that his cronies were well placed to buy political support.

Read more:

I will admit God Gough did make one or two minor mistakes when he was Prime Minister of Australia. One of them was giving Papua New Guinea independence. We still paid PNG's bills of course, but as a sovereign country, it governed itself. It went on to become a corrupt and dangerous country.

I find it rather interesting that the US takes an interest in PNG, where with the exception of the Kokoda Track, PNG barely rates a mention in Australia. While it is corrupt and dangerous, it is an independent country that takes a huge amount of our tax dollars, seemingly without monitoring.

Ah well, no votes in it for Australian politicians I suppose.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

The Black Look

When I arrived home from work R had a black look. If R gets a black look, be afraid. Fortunately it was not directly to do with me, but then it usually ends up being all about me.

'This new (renovated) computer is no effing good. It won't get sites. It won't do anything. It was fine before it was upadated (it wasn't), but now it won't do anything (it was fine except for one site)'. He expends all his patience at work and has no inclination to be patient when he is home.

'Darling, sweetie, love of my life, show me what you mean'.

City Link seemed to be the problem. It had gone into what I describe as 'safe mode'. In Firefox it mostly timed out. In IE, it showed stuff, but in a simple way, and he could not add money to his account.

Well, this is serious as I need to use City Link (toll road) in two days time. I hate one beep from the Etag (electronic device to charge a toll fee), let alone multiples.

R has spent an hour trying to get it work. I never do anything like that. If I site doesn't work, I go on and do something else and go back to it later. R unrealistically expects when he sits at a computer to use the internet, it works. Yes, he is very unreasonable, but he possibly did not have anything else to do on the computer, whereas I have a permanent backlog.

Before work this morning I checked City Link's website, and it was working well. I told R. He came home tonight and again it was back in its safe mode. He persisted, only to discover he could only top up his account with Diners Club or Amex. He got on the phone, and naturally as the website wasn't working, there was a long wait for a customer service person. He topped up his account over the phone.

8.34pm 07/09/11 it is fine, but too late. R is quite right to be peed orf with the City Link website. It should have decent backup and not fail so easily, twice in two days.

Elizabeth Chong

Melbourne foodies are a force to be reckoned with in a way I don't think happens in Sydney. Correct me, if you will. Before Mietta O'Donnell was tragically killed in a motor car accident, there was one foodie earlier who I remember, Rita Erlich, who was married to The Age writer Dennis Pryor.

I saw Rita Erlich once at a cabaret performance at a place in Hawthorn. I can't remember who was performing, or what the venue was, but Rita was in the company Elizabeth Chong. (remembered later with some help from R, it was Capers and we saw Stan Munro, a female impersonator in the vein of Danny La Rue)

While born in China, Elizabeth came to Australia at a young age. Her father invented the Australian dim sim, which many of us treasure as a fast snack food. She grew up near Melbourne's Victoria Market, where her father a fruit and vegetable seller, had his dim sim factory. Her father opened a restaurant at some point and one of the staff he gave a start to, a young lad called Gilbert Lau, went on to become the entrepreneur of the Melbourne institution, The Flower Drum.

As a bored Balwyn housewife, instead of taking to Bexs Powders and the Vickers bottle, Elizabeth started doing cooking demonstration fund raisers for the school her children attended. Her cooking school evolved from that and the rest is history.

There is another famous Melbourne foodie connection for Elizabeth and that is Stephanie Alexander, who had been more successful in Australia with teaching good food eating habits to children than Jamie Oliver. Elizabeth is older than Stephanie, so it is unlikely that she taught Stephanie the art of Chinese cooking, but Elizabeth did teach Stephanie's mother.


Later edit: I should have made mention of her significant award for one of her books. She won the Prix La Maille as International Cookbook of the Year.

So, Elizabeth, you turned eighty in May this year. I takes me 'at orf to you as a Melbourne icon.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Random City Photies

We were taking not an Asahi, but a cup of coffee at Riverland at Federation Wharf. It was a bit early for beer. The Yarra ferries glided past in near perfect weather.

We walked through the interior of Fed Square. I don't know what these fabric drops were for, but plenty of people were taking photos. I brushed past one and it was the lightest fabric you can imagine.

Out into Flinders Lane, I puzzled about what business was run by McDonalds of Sydney and Wellington. Google is not always your friend. More puzzling was that its Melbourne presence was not evident in any way apart from it actually being here.

Buying an airconditioner

Do you have a split system air con unit yet? No? You probably will at some point. Maybe you will use it for heating as well as cooling, as we do.

Ours is a Daikin. Although we had a problem with it in early days, for some reason the circuit board on the exterior part became damp, it is now nine years old and still working very well. It was not especially cheap, I don't think Daikens are. Mother's is only one year old and hers is a cheapie and not a patch on ours.

I am sure they are online calculators to work out the size of the unit you need.

But what you really need is an inverter air con unit. I don't know the tech stuff about them, but what I understand is that instead of the compressor cutting in and out, it speeds up and slows down, making it more energy efficient, and more comfortable and less noisy inside. The maximum exterior decibels the exterior part registers as 65db, relatively quiet.

I really would advise you, don't go for the cheap when you are buying a split system air conditioning unit.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Young Drivers

Yes, young drivers. They drive badly. They speed. They take drugs. They drink and drive. They are so aggressive when they are driving. The message 'speed kills' never seems to get through to them.

Btw, have I ever mentioned that when I was nineteen, I got my Valiant up to 97 miles per hour (157km/h) on a straight stretch of road? I can't define valve bounce, but that is what the engine did. I was so disappointed that I could not crack the ton. The VF 225 cubic inch hemi straight six twin venturi carby motor would just not do it. I should have bought bigger wheels for the car. It would have done it then.

Back then, there was a speed limit, but I think it was variable depending on the conditions. I really can't remember. It was fun to go fast though. I can remember my grandfather taking us in his Zephyr over the Hanover Street rail overpass in Oakleigh at a speed where the car seemed to leave the ground. But my father never drove too fast, as he weaved his drunken way home from the pub. He was a safe and conservative driver.

Ah, the good old days. Some remember them as such and decry the present nanny state. I am not so sure that they were really always the good old days.

Across the River

I read some fine writing by bloggers yesterday. I was feeling quite insecure about my hasty prose. I suspect they can write well and at speed, while thinking about what they write. I have to remind myself, people who write well like writing and do it well. People who don't like writing just don't do it and then there are those in between such as moi who enjoy writing, but don't do it terribly well.

So today's post will be photo based. It is hard to believe that these murals have been on these walls for so long, yet they aren't spoiled by graffiti. This one stands alone.

It was pointless to try and do a photo stitch in such limited space. These two photos make up one mural. Of course you can probably see the area where the photos were taken by looking at names on the murals, but has anyone seen them before? Altona Beach main street, opposite the pier, is a quiet and friendly local shopping centre, albeit with some trendy cafes. The sun was shining with little breeze as I sat on a bench at the beach and ate my chicken sandwich.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Bois and Charbons

S'cuse my French. I translate the sign as Wood and Coal. Charbons is not to be confused with charabanc. There is no connection, well for some reason there was in my head.

I have seen this site myself. I don't know why I did not take a photo. Maybe I did not have a camera. This rather good photo is by Adam Maher and is published on Deviant Art. It is near to the old Abbotsford Convent, which for want of an accurate description, I will just call the convent an arts hub.

I knew this sign was painted for a scene in a movie but I never bothered to find out which one. However, I heard the other day which movie it was and it rather makes sense.

The movie was The White Mouse, a biographical tv movie about the late Nancy Wake's time as a British agent in the French Resistance during WWII. While she was actually born in New Zealand, as we do, Australia now claims her as our own as she grew up in here. While I have never been fond of her when I have seen her being interviewed or some of her attitudes to society, I certainly recognise her as a war heroine.

Nancy Wake died on the 7th of August, this year.

A Tram to Docklands

Let me check. Yes, I can get a tram to Docklands. I can get one of several. Some might suggest a tram is a good way to get to Docklands. Well, unless you want to pay extremely high parking fees, it is either a tram or walk.

Check further. Three termini at Docklands, so it rather depends where you want to go. There is a minor terminus for route 30,which come from St Vincents Plaza along Latrobe Street. But it only runs weekdays with a twelve minute service and terminates on the edge of Docklands.

Victoria Harbour has the route 48, plus two other routes, one being the 31 from Hoddle Street, but while it has an ok twelve minute service, it stops at 2.30pm and is only weekdays. The route 11 has a full service, around ten minutes during the day. I conclude, Victoria Harbour is well served and while this Collins Street route is very useful for workers at Victoria Harbour it is not of much use for visitors to Docklands.

To penetrate right into Docklands, you need a tram that goes to Harbour Town/Waterfront City. The free City Circle tram uses Latrobe and Flinders Street, depending whether you are travelling clockwise or not, to get to Harbour Town. It is a twelve minute service but it doesn't start until 10am and finishes at 9pm.

The 70 runs full time along Flinders Street with a daytime service of ten to twelve minutes and the 86 runs along Bourke Street with a daytime weekday service of around eight minutes.

So which to take to get to Harbour Town, or Waterfront City as it is also called?

Coming from home, if it was a weekday, I would opt for an 86 along Bourke Street as the maximum waiting time would be eight minutes, in theory. Weekends, I might be tempted by a 70 and City Circle in Flinders Street, but the CC can get very crowded. Then again, the 86 drops to ten to twelve minute service on weekends.

Sunday night with a half hour service on the two routes is a different matter. Lordy, they arrive five minutes apart. Oh noes, they depart not evenly, but seven minutes apart.

Well, after this research, for tram users who know the system and walk around with live tram times on the phones, it is not such a bad service to Docklands. But for a stranger to our fair city who asks the question how do I get to Darklands Docklands, sorry, the answer might be a tram in Flinders Street, or Collins Street, or Bourke Street, or Latrobe Street.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Boris Bikes

Just beside the building next door we now how a rack of bicycles for hire. They are spreading all over the city and inner areas. Barely two hundred metres away in the beginning of Queens Road, there is another rack.

London and Paris both have bicycle schemes, but theirs are much more successful because bicycle helmets aren't required to be worn by law as they are here. I believe, no, I will check... Right, there are some helmet vending machines but mostly they are available from 7 11 stores. The 7 11 near us has them and they cost $5. From the website, they look a bit like a pudding bowl on your head. R, who does not like bicycles, is tempted to have a ride. I think it is a great scheme. I wonder if Sydney is getting into it yet. I just imagine the atrocious Alan Jones ranting on the airwaves about it.

I was amused by Ian Visits blog, when he and a friend hired bikes in London, took them on the Eurostar to Paris, rode around all day, and had them back in London that night.

Anyway, named after the Mayor of London, Boris Johnston, their bikes have been nicknamed Boris Bikes. Catchy isn't it. We should have a name for our bikes. Let's see. Melbourne's Lord Mayor is Robert Doyle. Rob Bikes? Nah, I've got it. A common nickname for Robert is Bob, so we have Bob Bikes. Will it catch on?

But for Sydney, with a mayor called Clover Moore, well, I am not sure much naming can be done there. Moore Bikes. No.