Saturday, September 17, 2011

To the Bondi Beach

I need two hands at least to count the number of times we have been to Bondi Beach and it is nearly always the same. Train to Bondi Junction, then bus to the beach. I have long argued that the train should continue to Bondi Beach. The bus from the Junction to the Beach is crowded and a very unpleasant trip and it doesn't seem to matter how many buses are put on, they are still crowded, worse if you cop one without airconditioning. Local Bondi Beach residents don't want the train if they have cars. They argue that a train service will bring more hoards to the beach, and they are probably right. Bus using residents though I would surely welcome a train service as the trip is just as miserable for them as it is we tourists. Why not extend the train to the Beach and then swing it down south to service Bronte, Clovelly and Coogee? This would take pressure off Bondi Beach.

Anyway, I was comparing an old map of Sydney when trams ruled and travelled along Oxford Street, Bondi Junction, now a mall, to a current map. I was struggling to make sense of anything.

Then I realised that for many years, I have had my Bondi Junction head space, for want of better words, arse about. I have always thought when you exit Bondi Junction station to Oxford Street Mall, you walk north along a laneway straight into the mall, but no, the station is to the north of Oxford Street, so you must head south. This means that when I was in Oxford Street Mall, the direction I thought the beach was wrong and the city also. And, the buses going to Bondi Beach exit the station in an easterly direction, rather than a westerly direction, which makes sense, or does it.

Unfortunately google street view doesn't show the mall and now I am just left in a confused state. Help!

This happened to me in Ueno, Tokyo and once something like the direction of north is planted in your head, it is very difficult to shake. You can logically think about it and work it out, but the map planted in your head for instant recall is wrong.

Downtown in Hungary

Jane and Lance live part time in Budapest. I know little of Hungary. I knew a Hungarian man once. He lived in Melbourne, and although he was a poor immigrant, he met a private school girl on a tram and married her and decades later they are still married.

Ok, I do know a little. The Danube River divides the capital of Hungary, with Buda, what was the German populated area on the western side, and Pest on the eastern side of the Danube.

Some people like to pronounce Budapest as Budapescht. In my opinion, as a rule we English speakers should stick to English pronunciations unless perhaps we are in a country that pronounces places differently to the English.

Now Victor was in Budapest earlier this year. I remember he posted some photos of trams plying the streets of Budapest.

Ah, I see that Budapest, like Melbourne and Amsterdam, also has German made Combino trams. Yuk. But good to see they also have bought some Combino Plus trams, which are far better.

Anyway, the authority on Budapest trams is a chap who uses the name Hamster. If he doesn't know everything about Budapest's trams, then I doubt anyone does. His excellent amateur site goes by the title of Ham Page: Tram Hikers Guide to Budapest. The Budapest tram network was much reduced after the collapse of the Soviet Empire, but it is still quite extensive and well patronised. Hmm, tram routes 4 and 6 service the busiest tram line in Europe. It runs along the Grand Boulevard, and by some photos I have just looked at, it is a very grand boulevard indeed.

All very interesting, to some. Well, I am not writing a travel guide to Budapest. What interests me? Oh, a cog railway. It takes you up into the hills to the west (it only took me an hour to establish where the cog railway actually runs). It looks like great fun. I just watched one You Tube video of the the train curving and climbing up the hills in what appears to be summer. It's a very pretty trip among the greenery. Ah, here is one of it operating in winter, which answers my question as to whether it snows in Budapest. Quite pretty with fresh snow and laden tree branches.

Did I just see mention of a funicular somewhere? More fun. It travels up to a place called Castle Hill. I suppose there is a castle atop the hill. As the video proves, everything that goes up, must come down again.

Ok, here is a photo of le grand boulevard de Budapest. Looks pretty ok hey. While world is an extraordinarily interesting place, I find it good to focus on one small part of a city.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Paint Crash

We have been known to transport large quantities of paint in the car, twenty litre buckets? X 2. I drive very cautiously, lest this happen to us.

Another Mother Day

Depending when I post this, last week I had a Mother day. While Sister bangs on about Mother, moaning and complaining, I am resigned to giving over my time to Mother. Whatever she wants to do, at her pace, I don't care. I have committed the time. She can do what she wants at her pace.

Lunch at Nanny's restaurant, which is what Little Jo call the Scottish take away food joint. There was an older very competent woman behind the counter and out and about. You don't normally see such a person at Maccas. The place seemed to be running like a well oiled machine. I did not dare have coffee, but otherwise the visit was fine.

Seedlings for the garden at the very large tin shed hadware store. Look up Mother, look at the size of those fans on the underside of the roof. Eventually she saw them.

To the laundrette to wash her loose coverings and doona coverings. Apparently her larger but same brand washing machine as ours is frail and not up to washing such things. It makes noises, you know Andrew. I knew better than to argue. At the laundrette, Mother, have you got coins for the washing machine? No Andrew, but the lady in the dry cleaner next door will. I will back in a moment. Sure enough, she knew the lady and came back with adequate coins. Must say, I was struggling. I had not been in a public laundry for many a year. There are good reasons for having your own washing machine and drying facilities.

I had to laugh at one sign, among many, in the laundrette. It said, if you bring your wet washing from home, please be aware that domestic washing machines don't always spin the clothes as dry and consequently, drying may take longer. I don't think so. I took the washing out and it was twice as wet as it would have been had it come out of our washing machine at home. The large gas tumble dryers were quite effective, taking only twenty minutes.

I left her in the laundry while I went off and did some shopping, including buying her some diabetic chocolate. Mother has decided she is diabetic. Apparently her glucose levels were elevated when she last visited her doctor. Mother, nothing to do with the barley sugar you keep eating and no doubt had while you were in the waiting room?

Mother did not like the supermarket I went to, so instead she had to go to the other for 'just a couple of things'. I waited in the car. I am not sure how long she took. I read the paper for a while and then fell asleep.

Back at Mother's, empty the vacuum cleaner of almost pure talcum powder, clean down some cobwebs, put rubbish bins out and a few other odds and ends.

It wasn't as if I wasn't warned. I heard about the congestion inbound on City Link. Sure enough. A fifty minute trip turned into ninety minute trip. 'Tis a queer thing that you pay for the privilege of sitting in four lanes of stationary traffic.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Combino Citadis

What are those words? They are the makes of Melbourne's European built trams. Combino trams are made by Siemens of Germany. Citadis are by Alstom of France. While both companies now have newer models that are quite satisfactory, their earlier efforts at low floor disabled people friendly models were atrocious beasts and Melbourne is stuck with them for many years to come. Combino trams can be found running routes in Swanston Street and Bourke Street, while Citidas trams pretty well stick to Collins Street routes.

A conventional tram and train have wheels that sit on a frame that pivots underneath the carriage. Apparently it is called a bogie. But not these afore mentioned trams that have fixed wheels that do not turn left nor right but sit straight ahead when the vehicles are travelling around a curve.

So what happens when the fixed wheel meets a track curve? The wheel slams against the side of the rail and throws the tram and those inside the tram in the opposite direction.

Add to this woefully inadequate air conditioning, well, we was sold a pup.

Thanks ex Premier Jeff Kennett and Transport Minister Alan Brown. Your legacies are generally not appreciated.

While Melbourne's quite old B class trams, mostly an Australian product, have high steps and and so are not disabled/pram friendly, they are vastly superior, with comfortable seating and space, plenty to hold onto, good climate control units and a smooth and quiet ride. How we ever went backwards in passenger comfort, I will never understand.

You want some photos so that you can avoid rough and noisy trams? Like you have a choice, but anyway.........

This is a Combino tram. Avoid it. I hope it works better in Amsterdam where I saw many of them.

A Citadis, in my opinion not quite as bad as a Combino, but others don't always agree.

And a B class tram, the most wonderful tram Melbourne has ever experienced.

The north east commercial god speaks

A SPICKS And Specks iPhone app has been censored by Apple after it was deemed racist to Hispanics.

The word "spick" is often used as a derogatory term in the US for people of Latin American descent.

The ABC show, hosted by Adam Hills, is named after a Bee Gees' song.

The ABC has asked iTunes to reconsider its decision to amend it to S***ks and Specks, after it surged to No.1 on the local entertainment app chart.

"iTunes is a US-based platform and it automatically censors words which are considered accidentally offensive in America," an ABC spokesman said. "We've asked Apple to review it for the Australian audience."

Did the ABC do the right thing, or is this PC gone mad again? Have your say below

The Murdoch press really hate the ABC and take any chance they can to do the organisation down. Murdoch papers are making it sound like the ABC is the organisation which is being politically correct, when it is not.

I think I have come to the realisation that it is not Americans who Australia hate, but corporate America, who many Americans probably hate too. How dare American corporations interfere with our culture and the name of a popular tv show. ITunes, well Apple, know they can because they know their power.

Do we remember back to less than three years ago when it became unacceptable for Australians to blacken their faces to perform a song? It had always been a fun thing in Australian to which no one had ever complained about, and then an American threw a hissy because in his country it was associated with black minstrels and racism. Now, we can't have blackening of faces anymore, as Qantas recently discovered.

So Mr Murdoch, perhaps you would be better to take a good hard look at the imperialism of corporate America, rather than make cheap attacks on our ABC.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Just clearing some photos.

The cafe Creme was amazing. I went inside and it was huge and had two areas, many staff and a few customers. On my own, I found it a little intimidating.

This type of housing lines the shores of Port Phillip Bay with some being very grand. As we are in Altona, these are not so grand, but still take full advantage of the views. I expect that as our Prime Minister lived in Altona before security decided they could not secure her modest house, has added some value to housing in the area.

On a hot summer day maybe fifteen years ago, we journey to Altona. The beach was busy, as was the pier. There were lots of overseas born males from areas Mediterranean and Middle Eastern being very sexually aggressive to any female who was around, especially if she was blonde. Some of them were sublimating their drive with ball sports. But among them families picnicked. It was a noisy place with jetskis making a constant hideous racket. Altona has changed since then. White people were walking dogs, older people out for a stroll, cyclists pedalling along. Perhaps it still goes off on a hot summer day.


Firstly clear your head of any idea that chundering is associated with bunburying. I don't think the word chunder is on anyone's lips nowadays. It came to the fore with the appalling seventies Australian movie The Adventures of Barry McKenzie. It means, or meant, vomiting, especially after drinking too much. My favourite pseudonym for vomiting after drinking too much is riding the porcelain bus, that is when you hang over the toilet bowl while you throw up. I vaguely recall riding the porcelain bus once at least. The following morning, I wished I could just die.

Yet, in my school days, chunder meant something different. It was perhaps what is now known as a wedgie. An unofficial school sport was pulling up a fellow male student's underpants at either the front or the back to a point of extreme discomfort.

At the local Latrobe River freezing swimming hole where the water flowed down from snow capped Mount Baw Baw, this sport was modified to include bathers. But worse, coarse river sand was thrown into the swimming togs first and then you were chundered.

Straight boys can be very queer at times as AFL footballers often show us.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A bare site becomes a house

Remember the photo of a leaning toilet on a building site I posted last year? The house is complete. I like the way they have left the old adjoining walls.

Just another Sunday

In the last photo you can see a bag of satay powder. R uses it when making, surprise, satay. It was readily available in Asian grocers but suddenly disappeared from the shelves. We hunted in Prahran and Balaclava but none was to be found. If I want satay again, we will have to find some, although R tells me he can buy it in small uneconomical packets. So, we took a trip to Victoria Street, Richmond.

As we left the Swanston Street tram, I could see a tram of a certain model in Collins Street. I knew that model tram normally runs on the 109 to Victoria Street, so with a little effort, we caught it. I then started to think. Hang on, the route 48 now also runs along Collins Street. Will we swing right at Spring Street, or left as we want to? Why did I not glance up at the destination? At the next stop the information display showed the 109 as being due 'now'. We were ok.

After a nice cup of coffee outdoors at a cafe and warding off the prowling beggars we went to Daiso, or the Japanese $2.80 shop if you like. It is great fun to wander the aisles and work out what each odd looking product is for.

Last time we were there I posed the question to my readers what is the purpose of the Beautipon. I did not receive a satisfactory answer. I am still wondering. As you can see, the Beautipon is still available and sits along side the Face Roller, and the Nose Ball Roller.

If you are going to wear men's panties, I think you would want them a bit tizzier than these. They are probably what Frank and Benny of the Two Fat Lattes refer to as manties.

You don't have an illuminated ear pick in your bathroom cupboard? Come on, it is only $2.80 for such an essential.

It was not late, so we decided to visit the large Swedish furniture shop at Victoria Gardens. A new one has just opened in an outer suburb, the largest in the southern hemisphere. Did I see that the path that must be followed inside is 2.5 kilometres long?

The tram passed by the drug dealers standing on their usual corner. I noticed them immediately, but oddly the passing police in a car seemed oblivious to them. Police seem to be ever more oblivious to what is in front of the eyes. I suspect it not their fault, but something that comes from higher up.

We left Victoria Gardens after a couple of hours. Audrey was beaming down on us as we waited for the tram back to town. You know, I have never seen her when she is lit up at night and active.

Our purchases for the day. The stainless steel soap is odd, but I couldn't resist it, just to see if it worked. I learnt later it is actually for removing odours from you hands. Next time I have odoured hands, I will try it. The cake cups are gorgeous. Little Jo has already cut out some of the pictures in them and stuck them in various places. Not sure why R bought the atomiser. I bought the duster to dust skirting boards.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Matter politik

I could pretend that because I was in Japan at the time, I have no knowledge of how KRudd was disposed and Julia was suddenly Prime Minister. But I was in touch with what was happening at home. Krudd's popularity dropped quickly. The backroom bois got rid of him and stuck Julia up as Prime Minister.

Our joy at having a leftie female Prime Minister quickly vanished once we realised she was no different from the rest. She talked the talk and walked the walk, which is the very reason I don't like her. I really thought she might just to talk to us.

I hated former Prime Minister John Howard with passion. What a loser he was to lose his seat to a former journalist, no less. He seems to have forgotten this and is now reappearing in the media and speaking as if he is an elder statesperson.

The real Julia has not appeared, so I am thinking KRudd might not be a bad person to go into an election. Would Australians accept this? I doubt it.

I admit, I was having a go when I said to our ex pollie friend, Liberal Party no less, 'when Malcolm get elected at the next election...'. He didn't bat an eyelid and agreed with me.

I think PM Gilliard is a decent person and I wish she would be herself when governing. Alternative Liberal Party leaders such as Joe Hockey is a decent person, in spite of his politics. Malcolm Turnbull might be very arrogant, but I think there is a good bit of decentness there.

The present leader of the Liberal Party is a nasty, hateful, driven, objectionable and uncaring piece of work. Make of it what you will, but I expect Australia will elect him as our next Prime Minister.

The local magnolia

I suppose I have posted a photo of this Magnolia before. It is close by to us. It is shadowed by the synagogue next door and I guess the reflected cold from the tall wall holds its flowering back by more than a week in comparison to others of the same species. It is a beautifully shaped example in front of a fine old house.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A decade on

Daniel has some thoughts on the US date format. The unusual date format just confuses me. I have to stop and think about it. Sometimes, on some sites, that may be American, you are never sure what the date is. For internet novices, it can be a nightmare.

I have always struggled with 9/11, firstly because of the reverse date format, and secondly the store 711. Maybe at this tenth anniversary of 9/11, I finally have it straight.

Now, I planned to commemorate 9/11 with telling you about the town of Al Qaeda in, I thought, Iowa in the United States. There are various spelling of Al Qaeda and I don't know how the name of the town is spelt . I just heard mention of the town and bit about it either on the radio or in a podcast. Now I think I dreamt it. I thought I would take a slightly different slant on 9/11, a kind of positive story.

Here is what my memory, possibly faulty, recalls. Google is just not recognising any spelling variation I can come up with.

The town is in Iowa, named after an Algerian freedom fighter from the late nineteenth century. The town now has a sister city in Algeria. One Middle Eastern born lad and his boyfriend run a successful restaurant there. The town has suffered severe flooding. The ex and late mayor was very interested in the history of the town, and even travelled to Algeria. One day townsfolk alerted the mayor that there was an Algerian in town. They knew he was Algerian because he had dark looks and black hair. Turned out that they were correct, but he was a fellow Iowan too.

Ah well, the best laid plans of mice and men............

It is just so not going to be cheery day in the United States today, as the day begins, at 6.40 in New York. We in Australia have already celebrated the day (slap his face somebody). Apart from some very dull radio, I have avoided hearing much about it. For you in the US, I hope it is a cleansing day for you. Ten years has gone by now. While living memory will always remember the day, the nightmare must pass, meant in a general rather than personal manner. Personal memories of dead loved ones linger for a very long time.

Among the many blog posts I have read about the day, Victor's post is worth a read.

A boy girl

Little Jo said she is not visiting for a sleep over, but a play over. Play she did until Sister and Bone Doctor returned from the football. Although it was no surprise to Sister that Little Jo was still up when they returned, Little Jo did not stay up for much longer, but before she slept, she saw a little bit of a repeat of Beautiful People on tv, in spite of Sister saying tv and radio is off the agenda for the weekend as there will be exhaustive coverage of the tenth anniversary of 9/11.

While I adored the show Beautiful People, it was not a show I thought I would watch again, but Friday nights often find us watching a repeat showing.

As Little Jo was being hustled off to bed, she said, I like that boy girl. He is fun. She was referring to the character Kylie, or Kyle.

Children of the sixties reacted against their parents conservatism by having extremely opposite attitudes. Children often react in an opposite direction to their parents mores. While Sister does fancy women, and is quite left and green generally, socially she is quite conservative and somewhat intolerant of overt displays of sexuality. So, I hope Little Jo does go against that grain and becomes very socially inclusive of all shapes and sizes.

I must teach Little Jo the word gorgeous. Kylie in Beautiful People is gorgeous. Bless.

London Riots

I wrote a long and rambling post about the London riots that happened last month. I ended up deleting it. I really don't know why the riots happened, apart from the obvious starter and how the divide between the rich and the poor in Britain grows exponentially. Those disgusting men, yes men I reckon, who move money around the world for their own profit continue to continue on with their wicked ways.

When it is trouble in Britain, I firstly go to The Guardian, a respectable newspaper, and then I check if Pants has written on the subject. She did. You can read it here.

As much as generally I would like to sentences for crimes to be a much higher level of punishment, the sentences being handed out by English courts for minor theft seem extraordinarily severe.

Now, you can challenge me on this by finding the quote online. I cannot find it. I will call it a conspiracy and it is like he never said it.

But I do recall Mayor of London Boris Johnston saying something like, 'These rioters are not Londoners. They are not our Londoners.'

Take ownership, is a phrase often bandied around. Mayor Boris needs to realise that many of the rioters were born and bred Londoners. The Tory party, to which Boris belonged, was big on bringing in cheap foreign labour. It seems you have to do a bit more than just 'bring them in'. Foppish Boris, you need to take ownership of your people of London Town.

Note to self, it is no good writing about topical subjects and saving them for editing a month later.