Saturday, November 19, 2011

Not Linked In

I think I know what Linked In is but I am not linked in and as a non professional type, I can't seeing it being much use to me. So, although I am sure those of you who have sent me invitations did so with the best intentions, kindly, I am not joining. I am linked in here anyway.

Too Many Folks

I am a bit conflicted in my own mind. I am not keen on our productive farm land on the outskirts of Melbourne being turned into housing estates (Clyde). But neither am I keen on el cheapo four to five storey flat block buildings being whacked up on historic streets among two storey Victorian buildings (Lygon Street). Nor am I keen on new developments such as Docklands, which seems to be an oft discussed failure. Really bad seems to be highrise buildings being built in already busy and predominately low rise areas (Camberwell Junction).

But it seems we have to house hundreds of thousands of new immigrants somewhere and that requires adjusting housing as we know it.

While immigration built Australia as we know it, I think it must be time to take a breather. An economy built on continuing high immigration is surely not sustainable will reach a snapping point.

It is not like that the government has provided us with infrastructure to cope with the huge population increase.

Friday, November 18, 2011

New Link

It is not often I add a link to my VIP list. You have to be pretty worthy to get a gig. I am either a snob or very arrogant. I normally only add blogs after a back and forth comment exchange and/or me feeling some connection. Neither has happened in this case, yet grey nomads travelling Australia are surely irresistible when they post such great photos.

Hmm, they have travelled elsewhere too. There is some serious back reading.

Diane at the brilliantly named Adventure Before Dementia. Link

I like you very much

Back in about 1985, R's late parents visited Australia. I was a bitch to them, although not outwardly. I refused to eat dinner at five o'clock, much preferring my normal seven o'clock eating time. I asked the MIL not to do my washing. Truth be told, I did not mind R's mother but his father was a lazy good for nothing whinging prick and R's mother waited on him hand and foot. They went home a bit earlier than they intended. (I am at the moment looking away into space like a guilty dog.)

Still, it wasn't all bad. We took them to the Moomba Parade. (Only Melburnians will really get that) Ah, we took them to see Ballarat, we stayed in a friend's caravan in Porepunka, we stayed on Phillip Island. We have some nice photos at Hedgley Dene Gardens in East Malvern. It wasn't all bad.

One night we took them to where a friend played piano at a pub in either Clifton Hill or Alphington. I can't quite recall. Our pianist friend played honky tonk style piano and was well known in gay circles, especially at Pokeys in St Kilda on a Sunday night. It was a great night but darkened on the way home by a sober driver, me, and a pissed partner and pissed in laws who discussed the reason for their son's suicide, R's brother. Tears were shed.

A friend of our pianist who we did not know was at the venue too. Quite kindly I describe her as short and dumpy. She seemed nice enough, if a little bit common.

'C'mon Doodee, do a number', the cry went out.

The sixty year old disappeared backstage and re-entered wearing different clothing and a bowl of fruit on her head.

It was one of the most wonderful live performances I have ever seen and can a short dumpy sixty year old swing her hips in time to a fairly high tempo number? She sure did. She sang, she minced, she swayed her hips, she pouted...she was better than any drag queen I have ever seen.

I would have liked to show you her performance as she did it better than the original, or even if I could show you another amateur doing it, but You Tube is not that good yet, or perhaps my searching skills are wanting.

Instead, there is only the original Carmen Miranda.

Doctor Highriser

Years ago in the days of irc, internet relay chat, that is what we did before chat rooms as we now know them, I used to enter a room called 'gay intellectuals' with the sole aim of getting some lively chat happening in an otherwise very dull room. I usually turned the conversation to sex, but in an ever so intellectual way. I would pose theories or sometimes make outrageous statements and stimulate various conversations. Half the people loved my contributions, and the other half hated them. I became bored with it after a while.

But I recall once going off my usual topic and became involved in a conversation about the consumption of drinking water in modern times. I was quickly shot down by intellectuals who knew better than I did. I proposed that we drink too much water and that we are the only animal who drinks water for the sake of it, rather than when we are just thirsty.

For the record, I drink about one litre of Melbourne's best tap water a day. The actual amount depends on the weather, if I have had alcohol the night before and if I think I might need to 'store up' a bit of water. I certainly drink more than what my theory tells me to.

I heard a Sydney medical expert, well specialist of the kidneys I think, whatever they are called, talking on the radio last week. Blow me down, I was right. He simply said, if you are thirsty, drink.

To elaborate, he said that it is the purpose of thirst, to tell you when to drink. A healthy person does not need to drink any more water than enough to satisfy their thirst and there is no benefit in drinking any more. He went on to say that urine should not be clear or even close to clear, but quite yellow.

So there, I was right in what seemed pretty obvious to me. I don't think a litre of water a day is a huge amount and it seems to be about right to satisfy my thirst unless the weather is really hot.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mr 99%

Of presidents of the US of A that I can recall, Australians of my ilk have either despised them or been quite indifferent to them. Despised would be Johnson, Nixon, Reagan and Bush Jnr. Indifference, Ford, Carter, Bush Snr and to a lesser extent, Clinton.

And yet, here is a President we adore, Barack Obama. He has just left Australia and we watched him with awe and adoration. If he snapped his fingers and said he was running for Prime Minister here, he would be elected with a majority never seen before in Australia, no matter which major party he ran for.

'Tis a curious thing, it is.

Hi Julie, long time no see

This is a photo of a kindly looking old couple in Hawaii. They look like nice and respectable people. In the middle is their grandson. He looks friendly too. But I wonder if a black grandson with white grandparents will ever amount to much though? If he is smart, he may well succeed in the black world, but really, with such an 'interesting' family history, surely he will be on the back foot in the white world of the U S of A.

When Her Maj was recently here in Melbourne there was heavy security, I suppose. I spotted a spook lurking, but otherwise security was invisible. Truly, I could have found a nice comfortable position a grassy rise and taken a shot at her as she crawled past in a tram. If my rifle had a telescopic sight, it would have been a sure hit and no more Liz. Many may have a reason to hate our Liz, but that she can ride so openly in a public transport vehicle says a lot about the way Britain deals with security and to a lesser degree Australia. Buck House requested the older tram so that Liz wasn't hidden behind tinted windows.

Australia kowtows to its VIP visitors and does it the way the visitor's country wants it done, hence over our national capital Canberra, jets are flying everywhere, motorcades proceed, and then the real one comes along. Men in dark glasses speak into their jacket sleeves. The Prime Minister's consort is forced to walk from Parliament House after the Presidential presentations. Tee he, like Timmy would be a threat to anyone. Yet, is Obama really under any more threat than Our Liz was?

It also seems the US is interfering strongly in security provisions for the London Olympics. Ummm, Britain has a long history of dealing with security of VIPs. I would have thought it was best to let the natives do it their way in their country.

I was much amused this evening, and taken back to when former US President Bush got his Deputy Sheriff and best mate, our then PM John Howard's, name wrong. I have heard it twice now and Obama called our PM Julia by the name of Julie. And I thought they really had a rapport going. Silly me to take notice of media.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Not all my inspired thoughts for posts pay dividends.

It started with Hels writing a fascinating post about the railway town of Swindon in England, a model town built for railway workers. She has subsequently written about another, Port Sunlight. I was immediately reminded of our own town of Yallourn, built for the workers of the State Electricity Commission of Victoria. The beautiful town of Yallourn has long been demolished and I can't really think of another model town such as Yallourn in our state.

Then I thought of Rawson, built in Gippsland to house the construction workers of the mighty Thomson Dam. Perhaps it was kind of a model town built for workers? Although I knew the area well, the town of Rawson was built long after I left the area. After checking several sources, there is nothing to tell you about Rawson apart from it still being there. It is an ordinary small country town and certainly not a model town.

Ah well, it was a thought.

The new is never new

Mark my words, these homosexual types will bring about the end of civilisation. They certainly weren't around in my day. Photo from Post Apocalyptic Bohemian.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Nurse, get a bucket

I don't want to be hung nor quartered by any nurse or ex nurse readers, so you won't be hearing about lazy, incompetent or overpaid nurses from me. In fact every nurse I have come across has been the opposite. Some just do their job competently, and we should not expect more, but some just go the extra miles and they are not rare.

Of course not being a nurse leaves me a little uninformed about their present industrial situation, but I have never found ignorance a reason to keep my gob shut.

In industrial relations matters it usually boils down to two basic matters, and they are the two that are problematic for almost all employees, pay and conditions. Leaving out that most of us we like to see better pay and conditions for nurses, there is one further dimension.

The nurses fought for and won quite some time a patient to nurse ration of four to one. This is now under threat. Management are using what has become a very evil word, flexibility. Sound it out with me, flex-i-bil-it-y. When management use this word, especially if they start adding detail about employees who want more flexible hours to care for their sick children, then start running for the hills. It's all bad.

Now, I expect there could well be a valid argument that some patients might need less care than others and the ratio could be flexible. In an ideal world, perhaps that could be allowed. But I would never trust the government, the health department and least of all hospital management to use the power to adjust the ratio on an as needs basis and do so responsibly and without taking advantage of nurses and reducing patient care.

There were very good reasons why nurses fought for and won the nurse patient ratio, and nothing has changed. If anything over the past decade or so, management has become worse in ways to do their staff down. And god knows, there is certainly enough management. I liken it to removing ice from the bottom of an iceberg and sticking the bits on top of the 'berg. At some point, the iceberg will turn over.

You may not care too much about nurses pay and employment conditions, but one day you will, the day when you are at their mercy. The nurse/patient ratio must stay.

Traveller Stamp

A friend has been travelling. He sent a couple of cards, one from Thailand and one from Malaysia. The Malaysian stamp looks rather nice, but the Thai one looks like, well, it looks like an elephant stamp. I used to get them at school, well, rarely.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fighting a losing battle to supress

'Don't speak ill of the dead', my grandmother warned me, so I shan't, this time anyway.

Five minutes yesterday afternoon in the company of the world famous search engine, told me all I needed to know about the life and death of cricket commentator and writer Peter Roebuck. Very subtle hints had been coming out in the radio news broadcasts about his death that day and had aroused my curiosity.

It had me slightly amused how one news service would gingerly step a toe in the water, then another would go a bit further and so on.

Our ABC was staying well clearly of anything else but tributes, even this morning, but by lunch time someone had called it and the ABC finally had to say what others already were, that is report the bleeding obvious.

I don't think too much more will let into the public domain by mainstream news outlets, but there is plenty on the net if you hunt for it. How some people must really hate the internet for the information that can be found. Lucky I have lived a blameless life, well pretty blameless post the explosion of the internet.

VCAT 666 at 401

Effing VCAT. Across the road from us is a new building at 401 St Kilda Road. It is an apartment building with retail and food premises on the ground floor. The building breached the height limit of twelve metres as the height limit was not a finite one but a discretionary one. Who has ever heard of anything so preposterous.

The building replaced what might be described as a pedestrian court with shops on one side and gave access to Arnold Street behind which runs parallel to St Kilda Road. A City of Melbourne condition of building approval was to provide corridor access in the new building from St Kilda Road. The developer or owner protested but finally agreed to provide access during normal trading hours.

To connect this to the personal at this point, R and I often used the walkway at what was then Kings Cross Plaza, so when the development was announced, I had a good look at the plans and concluded that there would still be access to Arnold Street at the rear. I was unsure what subsequently happened as although there did seem to be access, it did not look like access and certainly was not inviting. Not so long ago I noticed a threatening note on the door that looked like it might provide access. The note stated that it was a private business and that people should respect their clients' privacy and not walk through the cosmetic surgery business. Offenders would be filmed and the file handed to the police. Haha, a cosmetic surgery business in South Yarra concerned about their clients' privacy. I can well imagine.

So what happened to the public access during business hours? Now the access is through a rubbish bin area if you are savvy enough to know the way.

It would seem the building owner decided he/she did not want to allow public access at all, at all times or business times, so he went to VCAT to have the planning permit condition dropped.

VCAT is widely known to be a friend of developers and no friend of local people and in this case it did not disappoint. VCAT member Laurie Hewit dropped the planning permit condition, so now you have a business owner making serious but ultimately idle threats to those who think they have access, and other people passing through the building via a bin area.

I am loathe to persecute someone who is just doing their job, but we, the ordinary citizen are powerless against VCAT planning decisions unless we are seriously rich and can go to the Supreme Court. We can change even governments, but VCAT marches relentlessly on, overruling local councils and people, in favour of big business developers.

So Mr Laurie Hewit, there has been access through 401 St Kilda Road for something like thirty to forty years, maybe longer, and you have taken it away. Nice work, you prat.

I suspect the South Yarra discretionary height limit rubbish was a State Government regulation rather than a City of Melbourne one, but I would implore our local councils to continue to uphold their own regulations as far as the Supreme Court and yes, use ratepayers money to do so. Flood the Supreme Court with opposition to outrageous VCAT decisions.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Venting the Highrise

What is behind this drop down flap in the ceiling of the bathroom?

It is a motor with pipes. It is the exhaust fan unit for our apartment.

There is one of these inlets in the bathroom, one in the toilet and one in my en suite. When we moved to the Highrise, we had no idea about the system, but the bathroom and my en suite have two lights, one halogen and one recessed downlight. The toilet only has a downlight. In the bathroom and ensuite, the halogen lights are separate, but the downlight light switch turns the fan on, as does the toilet downlight.

Some parts of the Highrise ceiling are lower, to allow for the ducting, as you can see in my bedroom with my en-suite just to the left.

Back in the bathroom where the laundry is too, the clothes dryer air outlet joins the flexible tubes to be vented outside.

The range hood joins the large venting tube above the cupboards.

The tube runs around the lounge room through this bulkhead and passes above the aircon unit.

And all the vented air comes out here and if you have everything on, including the clothes dryer and range hood, it is quite a force of air.

I'm afraid my green credentials, idealistic as they are, don't run to the exhaust system. We leave the large unit running much of the time when we are home and not in bed. It is nice to pull the car fumes fresh air into the Highrise.

By closing doors, ventilation can be targeted. Say the bathroom is inclined to fog up, then close my bedroom door and the toilet door and extra ventilation happens in the bathroom.

My bedroom being at the opposite end of the apartment to the air con unit, can get quite warm at times in the summer. I close the bathroom, toilet and the two in between bedroom doors, and the inlet in my en-suite pulls cool air into my bedroom. If R is lucky, I might leave his bedroom door open and a little cool air is deflected into his bedroom as it passes by on its way to my bedroom and ensuite. Kind, aren't I.