Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy 2013

Last year I gave out a couple of blog awards. The recipients did not collect their prizes, so this year I will go down a different track.

Technology just amazes me. No doubt younger people take it for granted, but I do not. When I woke last Saturday morning, our Metcard switch off day,  via Twitter I quickly learned that the last Metcard ticket was issued on a tram at 2.30 am between St Kilda and Malvern. Ten years ago, how would I have ever known that. Whether the information is accurate and/or particularly interesting, is beside the point.

I was looking on this computer at free Amazon books for my new Kindle. I selected one and there was an option, send it to Andrew's Kindle. I clicked, and by the time I rose from my seat, walked across the room, picked up and switched on my Kindle, the book was there. Just amazing. I went back to the computer and clicked send and receive on my email, and there was the account, for $0.00.

Don't we all like to have a go at the Weather Bureau? Or BOM, Bureau of Meteorology, as it is now known. BOM now does seven day forecasts with absolutely incredible accuracy. BOM has the biggest mother of a computer to help them, but their forecasts are amazingly accurate now, especially if you just ignore 'chance of a shower', which usually means a shower if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time.

For Friday, BOM has said it will be 39 degrees. They may be a degree or so out, but I am damn sure it is going to be a very hot day.

So yes, take a bow for 2012, BOM. You have excelled in the last couple of years.

I shall be working NYE, from 7pm to 4am, with little extra reward. No partying for me and any kind of sleep pattern I like to have is completed screwed. I don't care so much about the former, but I hate disrupted sleep patterns. No, I won't be pulling beers or making cocktails. R has advised me to have dinner before I start work and then have snacks. Probably a good idea. He has made me a lasagne, a comfort meal, knowing how I am dreading the night. I am just lost trying to work out how to deal with such working hours. I was told when I started the job that shift work was involved. The worst case is your start at 5 am or finish at 1 pm. How that has changed. Years ago a vexatious person told me I should get a proper job. I should have listened. While I very rarely don't front up for work, I can well expect that it going to take me more than one day to recover from such absurd hours and I will possibly be unwell on the next working day and take a day's sick leave.

Yes, I am grumpy as I write, but I will get over it. Nevertheless, happy new year. We at the Highrise have a bit to look forward to in 2013 and I hope you do too.

[Insert fireworks picture here, or bubbling champagne in a glass. Damn it, I am in a foul mood and can't be effing well be bothered and my moaning about work has ruined what was supposed to be a nice and happy post]


In a recent post I wanted to use the word ass. But that is an American word for what we say, arse. I should have used the Australian word arse. Arse, ass, what's the diff?

Arse and ass are surely interchangeable, but I cannot interchange them. Arse is a swear word and ass is naughty word, like bum.(The exception to this is when Eliza Dolittle says, 'move your bloomin' arse'.)

I have recently been listening to podcasts of I Love Green Guide Letters. Green Guide is a weekly supplement in our our daily newspaper The Age. GG covers tv, technology, space and photography. Its raison d'etre is a tv programme listing. It has a page for reader's letters, usually complaints and this is what the afore mentioned podcast focuses upon. The podcast is quite amusing, but last week's episode had one or more of the participants using fuck in almost every sentence.

The podcast has tackled in depth the disappearance of the staples that held our GG together, and that the green pages, the ones relevant to tv, now have a white border, making them difficult to find. Also, there have been complaints about Tom Waterhouse appearing left, right and centre on our tvs. Each week, when an anti Tom Waterhouse letter was published, the GG letters editor would place increasingly large photos of Tom Waterhouse, further aggravating people and stimulating them to write even more anti Tom Waterhouse letters. Very amusing.

This week's guest was Sam Pang, who hosts our coverage of Eurovision, along with the gorgeous Julia Zemiro. ILGGL dug out letters criticising Pang and Zemiro for their coverage of Eurovision. This week, there was not excessive swearing, just a couple of times and easy to ignore.

I made a Face Book comment about the swearing on the site, but instead of being called a stupid old retentive fart, I was ignored. Perhaps my comment was valid. The offending episode reminded me of how I thought the brilliant Tim Michin's performances were spoilt by the excessive use of of swearing.

I truly don't mind the words fuck or arse, but talking specifically about fuck, why does it have to punctuate every sentence by some people. Isn't it a swear word best kept for when something terrible happens, or the very least, dramatic effect?

Gosh, I feel very very old and out of touch at times.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Post Net

Across Kingsway at Illoura this business has appeared. I don't believe it is open yet, but what is it? A parcel service? Neither I nor Bush Babe are very impressed with Australia Post's service this year, so maybe some competition will be good for the behemoth Aus Post.

Ok, I have had a look at Post Net. You can here.

Stinking and Brighton Pt 1

I wanted to look at something at a speciality shop. There wasn't a branch in town, but one at Southland Shopping Centre and one in Church Street Brighton. It was a busy day for me. I needed a haircut, in Prahran, and a couple other bits and I wanted to see the Titan Arum at the Royal Botanic Gardens. Given christmas traffic and parking difficulties, no way did I want to take the car.

So Brighton's gain is at the expense of Southland due to there not being a railway station at Southland, even though it was promised by the present state government. Not a sodding sod has been turned.

A nice Art Deco block of apartments on the way to the gardens.

One day I will enter St Thomas Aquinas' church. Maybe thunder and lighting will happen.

Our public schools are very impressive in Melbourne.

Of course I use public schools in the English sense. These glorious green playing fields belong to the top private school in Melbourne. It is a curious thing that many of our government schools are in poor condition with lousy facilities, yet we taxpayers contribute towards these fine institutions.

The Titan Arum was magnificent. The lass in attendance told me it might flower two days before christmas or christmas eve. As it turned out, it flowered christmas day afternoon. The plant is also known as the Corpse Flower, owing to it stinking like rotting meat when it is in full bloom. It only flowers every seven years and it is a quite rare and endangered tropical plant. There were stories about it on ABC Melbourne on  Boxing Day morning. Oh no, no publicity. It will get too busy. R said it would be on the tv news that night, so I thought that afternoon after work would be our only chance to smell it.  With R we walked to the gardens for a whiff. Well, there was a queue a mile long, so we didn't bother. The queue the next day stretched out of the gate of the gardens and along The Tan. Well, I am glad I went when I did. I will just let some meat rot, and get the same smell.

I had not been in the RBG's tropical greenhouse for many years.

I loved this vertical garden.

While these bananas are growing in the greenhouse, given the right conditions, bananas will grow in Melbourne, but I don't think they will ripen.

This is it, the Titan Arum. I did take a better photo, but I am sure you don't want to see old grey haired ladies in the photo.

This is the frill that later opened out wide and that is when the plant stinks.

Tram to South Yarra and train to Middle Brighton. I have arrived on a different planet. No rubbish on the ground, not even a cigarette butt. Not one, not not one overweight person to be seen, except for me. Plenty of tight older faces and scrawny necks though. I saw just one black face. Even the traffic seemed ever so polite as the large black SUVs crawled along Church Street. It must be one of the last bastions of white middle class Australia. I bought what I wanted, well more than what I intended and headed back to Prahran. You see the same people there, but they are mixed up with every other variety and social status of people you could come across.

I do like a Moreton Bay Fig, this one at the corner of Park Street and Domain Road.

I am now in Middle Brighton. Funny, in spite of me mentioning that there were no overweight people, this lady has decent sized hips, shall I say.

Even the railway station was very pleasant.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Three minutes from the Highrise

The sun is setting and the clouds are pink. Mount Dandenong has a pink hue.

Closer to home, a couple towing suitcases and with a map in hand disappear behind a tree, to never reappear.

A tram passes. The driver rings his bell, needlessly. The road is quiet.

A jogger in a pink top and black stretch pants passes a fellow jogger of the opposite sex, he dressed in a green fluoro top and black shorts. Did they acknowledge each other? Did their dedication to fitness connect them?

Two obvious gay guys leave Subway, with their foot longs in hand.

Our neighbour is walking his dog. Benito has stopped to do his business on gravel surrounding a tree. Our neighbour seems to be struggling to find a pick up bag in his jacket.

The man across the road has left his pot plant watering hose spread over his balcony in a most untidy manner.

His neighbours behind and lower have bought new bright orange and white sunlounges.

The red light camera flashes; someone won't be having a great end of 2012.

Three minutes of my balcony life and I did not think about sex.

It could not last. The rich gay guy who lives below the one with messy garden hose has a new beau, much younger than him and he has punk looks, a most attractive lad from a distance. How much is he paying him? Punk guy seems to topping up the dog water bowls.

You should be pleased you don't have me as a neighbour.

This is 702 ABC Sydney broadcasting to Melbourne

"The switching nightmare goes on. 774 digital broadcasting 702. Andrew."

After twenty minutes of listening to ABC Sydney on ABC Melbourne digital, and checking that AM was broadcasting ABC Melbourne, I thought enough is enough and I sent the above text to ABC Melbourne. Fifteen seconds later the big scissor switch was pulled down and locked into place and once again ABC Melbourne was coming through the speakers.

I thought whoever is responsible might have done better this year with all the switching to and from national local to local local that our ABC does at this time of the year, but I think it has been worse than ever.

I recall the late Kerry Packer calling into his own tv station, Channel 9, and telling them 'to get that shit off the air', referring to a comedy programme and it was pulled straight away. At least he was watching his own tv station. Doesn't ABC radio management listen to their own station on digital radio? It took me to alert them of the wrong station being broadcast.

Now, if you are interested, I can give you the today's weather forecast for all major New South Wales towns? No? How about this morning's traffic conditions around Sydney?

Myki Madness Day

While it was electric The Age, I really thought I was reading the Herald Sun by the standards of the comments in an article about Myki. After comment 170 was posted, comments were closed. My god, were so many so idiotic. Take this one for instance.

We have friends from overseas coming to Oz soon who will be relying on PT for transport. When I explained MYKI to them, they won't be coming to Melb - we'll go interstate to also have a break and spend time with them.

What a great friend they are to their overseas visitors. Why not buy them Mykis ready for them when they arrive? As if such a thing would put off holiday makers.

We had planned to buy two Myki public transport cards for R's sister and bro-in-law to use when they visit us in March. Plenty of time yet. Then, sitting on a seat in Fitzroy Street, I saw two Myki cards. I picked them up and there weren't any details on them about an owner, meaning they were not registered and probably not worth handing in. I was hoping there would be a some decent credit on them and I would check before deciding what to do with them. I eventually did and -.28c and -$2.40. Damn. Obviously dumped by tourists after the tickets last use. You can go into the negative with Myki but have to be in credit to use them again. I topped them up enough to be in credit and they will do nicely for our overseas visitors. Wait, we have another visitor to the Highrise before March. Our friend in Japan will he here. She can use one as she does not already have a Myki. Yes, we now have spare Mykis ready for the use of overseas or interstate guests.

What about this one? Not sure what it had to do with Myki. People do like to vent.

What annoys me is when there are 7 ticket inspectors on the trama and no body stops the young madam who dumpied her large handbag on the floor in the doorway for other commuters to trip over. If a passenger breaks their leg because they tripped over the handbag dumped on the floor can they sue Public Transport Victoria?
We were passing Victorian Institute for the Blind aka Vision Australia at the time

Seven ticket inspectors on a tram? I have never seen such a thing. I think if someone tripped over the 'dumpied' handbag, they should sue themselves for their own carelessness. Blind people are usually very alert to such obstacles, especially on a tram, which at times can be a sea of school bags. They have to put them somewhere.

After topping up my myki and going to the city there is still money left in my account, which the myki people take out after 90 days. 

Ah, Daniel's bete noire. Myki does not take the money out after 90 days. It is 180 days, and if you die without a will, the government will take all your money after selling up your property, and the world is going to end on January the first.

My smart card will not "die" if I do not use it for 3 months (as I believe is the case with myki cards)

I wonder what sort of smart card this person has? Clearly not a card that makes them smart. No, Myki does not die after three months. Its death is much more lingering, like four years, and your balance remains for your new card.

Today you will no longer be able to use a Metcard on Melbourne's public transport. It is Myki or nothing. An interesting thing I heard is that fare evasion on trams has dropped substantially over the past year while we have had two different ticket systems.

I have seen a few ticket systems come and go and there is always a fuss when the change happens, then it all settles down until the government comes up with a new system. I have no reason to believe that this change will be any different, although I must say, I have never seen a ticket system change that cost anything like this one has.

Friday, December 28, 2012

I ought not be suspicious

R and I agreed this year that we would not buy each other a christmas gift, mainly because neither could think of anything for the other. I did end up buying him a battery powered robot fish to swim around when he is having a bath. I rather like it myself and we gave it a try out in the kitchen sink.

But what did R do? He bought me an electric book reader. I know little about them and he knew even less. It is a Kindle and it is tied to Amazon for buying electric books. I was desperate to read a book on it, and so I did actually pay $10 for one, but I can't imagine I will be doing that too often. Kindle uses a different file format to most other readers, so when I snaffle some free books from somewhere, I will probably have to convert the files.

What I find amazing is how quickly I am getting through a book when using the Kindle. I am also very impressed with how readable the screen is. Even in direct sunlight, the text is bright and crystal clear. Apparently it uses E-Ink, or is that E-Paper? Maybe both. I don't think it is an expensive model, but it is all I need for putting a toe in the water. In the past I think I may have stated that I prefer a proper book. Now I am not so sure.

But Christmas Day brought forth a puzzlement. Among the usual gifts, Sister and Bone Doctor, instead of spending maybe $30 each for a gift for R and myself, bought us tickets to see Jersey Boys. I could not believe they spent so much money on us, like a total of $290. What are they up to? Or were they feeling guilty that I had not seen Little Jo for so long? R has seen her more recently.

Hulot Friday

When two tribes go to war

Le poisson et le chien

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Bush Snr or Mandela?

I am taking bets. Who will go first?

The one who so many right thinking people abhor, George Bush Senior?

Or the one so many right thinking people admire and respect, Nelson Mandela?

I expect we know which direction each will head once they are dead. One down and the other one up. No prize for that guess.

Juat another CMas Day

We did not host christmas day this year. It is a while since we have done it. It is a while since we have done anything here. Our aim as we age is to reduce stress, and we not doing badly at that at all. Don't come and all will be well.

There was the usual, 'who is doing christmas this year?' R volunteered, but Mother wasn't keen. Bless her.

First niece suggested if no one would, she would do it at her place in Sommerville. Later she changed to doing it at Tradie's Brother's house, her dad, at Langwarrin. Then second niece was enlisted to help.

Between them, they got it together and even though meat was carted from Tooradin to Langwarrin to Sommerville and back to Langwarrin, being cooked  a little bit in each place along the way, it was a great christmas dinner. Sister made the christmas pud, and they came across on the very expensive ferry from The Bellarine.

We were comprised of R and myself, Sister, Bone Doctor and Little Jo, oldest niece who's partner was at his own family gathering, middle niece and her Kiwi partner and his best friend who had no where to go for christmas, Tradie Brother of course, Mother and ABI Brother, and non dreaded nephew. It was just so wonderful for us to be all together, but missing ex Sis in Law.

Nephew, just been employed by DSE as a firefighter. First niece, by June she will be a qualified teacher. Second niece, just gained a permanent position with the local council as a looker after of council parks etc. She is about to get a truck driving license.

Third niece, Little Jo, held 200 people entranced by her performance at the kindergarten break up. She starts school next year and as charming and clever is she is now, I miss my old somewhat younger Little Jo.  We saw her on dvd performing at the breakup.

 "Come and look at the South American Sunflowers". I'd never heard of such a variety and the flowers were huge. I should have known better. As I inspected them more closely out came a sign, Made in China Dickhead.
 Tradie Brother's freshest tree, the branch of a eucalypt.

 Ah, another Camera Face in the making.

 Dead christmas tree. "It lasted three weeks," said Brother. "But not until christmas," said I.

 First niece has a dog about eight months old. It decided the chooks needed rounding up. One took refuge inside the house. I walked into the kitchen and it was standing on the bench. I was asked to bring it out. I did try, but it was impossible. Brother took some wheat in and coaxed it out.

 I am not a great one for prawns. Too much hard work, so I left my share for someone else. "Where did you get them Sister?" I was sure Sister was going to say, "We just picked them up from a fisherman on the jetty before catching the ferry". But Little Jo was fast, "We bought them at Coles supermarket yesterday".

 Santa hangs on a guy wire and slides back and forth in the wind. To much amusement, I grabbed a rake and gave him a whack. "It is not Pinata?", I queried.

 Tradie Brother has trained the chooks to walk the plank.

 As you can see, they have names.

 Tradie Brother has been raiding hard rubbish collections left on nature strips. Nearly every gift he gave this year was second hand, but there were some good ones.

The bathroom renovation is into year three, with no sign of completion.

Well, that is christmas done for another year.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Thank you to Victor to steering me to the BBC's Witness programme podcasts. It speaks of modern history, in a digestible twelve minute bite.

I remember a term from the past, cheat sheet, which was for broadcasters who had to interview someone and they had not boned up on the subject. The broadcaster read the cheat sheet which was a summary of salient points about the person and or their work.

That is essentially what Witness is. I am Australian and I should know about the bodyline cricket incidents, but as I am not really interested in cricket, I did not know exactly what it was about. From a twelve minute podcast, I had a good grasp of the overall.

This is a cracker, among many to listen to, Dusty Springfield touring South Africa. Ah, I do actually know about it already, but it will be worth listening to.

Of course this is just a supplement to the many wonderful ABC podcasts I download and listen to.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Twenty five, twelve, twenty twelve

Frosty has appeared at christmas for nigh on three decades. He has witnessed rather a lot of ageing, hatches, matches and despatches along with much joy and laughter. Frosty just goes on year after year, watching with silent approval.

 Is Melbourne ever going to put on a light displays like Sydney does?

 This is not a bad start.

 But it does really cost. Apparently computer programmers don't come cheaply.

Diane once asked for photos of Melbourne Town Hall and this is not perhaps how she imagined I would respond, but it is our town hall.

If you ever get the chance, you can take a free tour of our town hall and having done it twice, I recommend the tour.

This year's City Square christmas tree is more modest than a rather awful bigger and more solid tree that cost so much to erect and looked pretty ordinary.

Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim workmates never complain but a Jewish neighbour recently complained to me how tired she was of being wished merry christmas. Yet another Jewish workmate was telling me about the christmas presents he had bought for his grandchildren. Our Hindu friend celebrates christmas, though of course not the religious aspect. Go figure. Did I hear that Sydney's Lakemba Mosque issued instructions to followers to not wish merry christmas to christians? I'll remember that next eid.

This is secular Australia and my blog is all encompassing, and so to some, Merry Christmas to you and to others, Compliments of the Season. Regardless, pour yourself a glass and put your feet up.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Another christmas and more crap

Mother really excels at christmas with her gift giving. I tell her to not worry about presents, save the money, except for Little Jo. She takes no notice. I don't know how many gifts she has given us that are just inappropriate for us. Does she not notice we don't have dark stained timber around the the Highrise? Why would she give us dark timber photo frames, or a repro polished timber barometer? What about a traditional cut crystal vase, among our modern glass. If I did not take the hint with the second family history album, I am not likely to do much with the third.

NB The lovely Ann O'dyne taught me how to do a family tree. You stick sheets of wrapping paper together and write on the back. It is the only way to get anything big enough to contain all the links that shoot off into the far distance. You can add sheets in any direction.

Sister once gave us a lettuce spinner, to dry lettuce. I am not aware of us ever serving her wet lettuce. It remained unused and appeared at some time in one of Mother's garage sales, right in front of Sister's eyes. If anyone asks what we want for christmas, I suggest a bottle of something nice.

I best not spoil christmas with my whinging and moaning. Some really nice things happen at christmas and mail deliveries are just fabulous. Best is when hand made cards arrive.  

A friend's dog. We have not seen the friend for many years, even though he lives within an hour's drive. We holidayed with him to New Zealand in the early eighties. He was going to come to R's significant birthday a couple of years ago, but sent last minute apologies. He is gay, as his brother who he lives with. We met the brother once and he was a lovely and quite attractive guy. What a shame he is a recidivist offender of a very serious and distasteful crime. Our friend watches him very closely and so far, so good.

Just gorgeous and you can colour associate back to the blog owner.

 Naive art? I like it a lot. There is quite a story behind the art.

One from overseas. I will make the most of the new year by using the key. What wonderful positive words adorn the card.

Not related to christmas, but I won a prize! A virginal Metcard, in a wallet and signed by an ex VIP at the PTUA. What do ex VIP's do? Get a life? Like all high achievers, they have a life too. The prize was not a prize per se, but a charity auction item. Red Cross seems to be unaffiliated to religion and while at times their administration costs can be called into question, they always seem to be there when help is needed and via the associated Red Crescent, they offer help everywhere. Metcards have been part of Melbourne's public transport system for quite a number of years, but they will disappear on the 29th of December, replaced by Myki stored value cards. I wish I had kept old tram and train tickets, but I have this time.

You can guess I am trying to wrap up christmas related things. Bakers Delight mince pies, $6.60. Ordinary with thick pastry and a lot air space inside with little filling. Brumbys, better at $9.90 with better pastry and a delicious filling, but not enough of it. Browns Bakery, $17.50 for open pies, full of fantastic filling and very nice pastry. You get what you pay for. I will make my own next year. Sis in Law's late mother had an excellent recipe. Please don't remind me in early December about making mince pies and I don't want to hear about you local bakery that makes excellent mince pies and sells them quite cheaply.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sunday Selections

Today is Sunday, or as I sometimes know it, River's Sunday Selection Day. Here are a few random photos.

We took refuge from the christmas crowds in Bourke Street Mall to a quieter part of Bourke Street.

 Looking skyward in Bourke Street Mall. The dangling bell shapes light up at night.

Manny is visiting from Malaysia again and brought us this fantastic calendar. The only problem is we don't have a wall big enough to put it on. The prints inside are so beautiful, they could be framed. Err, the dates are in English.

'What's that awful smell?' It was graffiti artists at work, off Bourke Street Mall. It was the paint and not them that smelt. If you like a meaty rear, there is one for you delectation.

My father had an HR Holden. Tailights aside, it did not look very much like this.

The sun rises in the east over the Dandenongs and the eastern suburbs. Is that a con trail? Is the government dropping gas on us to make us work harder and complain less? (You think I would have learnt my lesson about mentioning such things after the fluoride post)

And the sun sets in the west, over Port Phillip Bay. Well, we hope so. This is a scheduled post composed before the end of the world last Friday. If you are reading this now, everything is probably ok. Keep calm and carry on.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Myki Query?

I had one, but google quickly answered my question. What I am puzzled about is why so few people on the trains I caught during the week touched off when they left the station? My travel was in Zone 1 and I imagine most of my fellow travellers were only travelling in Zone 1, so why did they not touch off when they left the station. Simply, if you don't touch off when you leave the station in Zone 1 and you have only been travelling in Zone 1 , you pay for Zone 1 and 2.

Why did so few touch off at suburban stations?


I guess we bought these scales in the 1990s. They are electronic with a red LED display, common at the time. Over the years the set become inaccurate, giving higher and higher readings, which we were finding quite depressing. Finally it failed altogether, displaying lo battery, which was not rectified by replacing the battery.

We looked for some new ones. Ouch, anything between $40 and $120 or more. We tried Big Trouble U, and this neat and uncomplicated set made of white glass was $30. We took it to a self scan register, and it scanned at $20. Nice one.

Of course for $20, you can't expect it to be dead accurate. We both feel it is giving a too higher reading, but it is useful to know if we are adding weight or losing weight.

Things I am pleased I am old enough to have done

There are quite a number of things I am pleased that I was young enough to do or experience that young people now never will.

Type on a typewriter was one, tap, tap, tap, ding, as you reached the end of the line and had to hit the carriage return

Use a mouse that had a tracking ball inside it, and rollers than needing cleaning every so often

Know the sound of a dial up modem

Getting really techie now, using as telephone with a crank handle and speak to an operator who would connect the call and experiencing 'party lines'

Drive a car and truck with manual gears. Who knows how to double de-clutch now?

Never even considering that the Village People or Freddie Mercury could be gay

Reading for hours without any electronic distractions

Become very excited at the prospect of lollies, crisps or soft drink

Fill a paper straw with dry pine needles to smoke

Kick a footy on the football ground at half time on the MCG (ok, I didn't really do this one, but others did)

Not have to worry about HIV

Winding up the alarm clock and knowing that when you hit the off button in the morning, there was no second chance

Staring at the filthy and rusty old chain called a communication cord on a train and wondering how they would know who pulled the cord and so have to pay the £5 misuse fine

Experiencing my first train ride on the modern and sleek new suburban Hitachi train. (Not so modern now)

Getting on a tram or bus and paying my fare to conductor

Knowing the sweet spot for the choke to be set for when starting a car, and where to have it set until the engine warmed up and remembering to turn the it off (no ma'm, it is not there to hang your handbag from)

Pulling apart an audio cassette to fix it when it started jamming and seeing the abandoned ribbons of cassette tape blowing around the streets on Saturday and Sunday morning after the revellers yanked the tangled tape from their car players and chucked it out the window

Cleaning the heads on a vcr and cassette player (actually, that was a bit of a pain)

Tracing the blown bulb which prevented the string of christmas tree lights from working

Not being able to walk away from the toaster or lose concentration when bread was in toasting

Grandma's frantic attempts to catch the toast after I shortened the spring on her pop up toaster

Truck drivers who had to keep a good look out before the disclaimer signs arrived, If you can't see my mirrors, I can't see you.

Drivers who started off when the lights turned green, rather than requiring a toot to move their attention from whatever device they are playing with in the car to what is happening in front of them

Feeling sorry for motorists stopped at the side of the road because their car radiators had boiled. Feeling sorry for ourselves when it happened to us

Roads that did not have Japanese, Korean or Euro cars using them

Vacuum operated windscreen wipers. The faster and harder you drove, the slower they would go. While stationary, they operated at a cracking pace.

Cars without power assisted brakes and steering.

Getting stuck behind the Punt Road bus as it climbed the hill from the river, belching out thick diesel fumes.

Being on the Punt Road bus and watching the very wide conductor walk down the aisle at a slight angle.

Remember when the Yellow Pages were the Pink Pages.

And the Green Guide being green, before the addition of staples, now much complained about since their cost cutting removal.

The Herald, an evening newspaper and The Truth, a salacious gossip and exposure weekly paper.

The list of things I can now do far outweighs the list of what I could do years ago. Any of your own to add?

Friday, December 21, 2012

The dancing lid

I could not find the record button on the new camera, but I must have accidentally pressed it somehow and it operated briefly. The pot lid just kept right on dancing, like a belly dancer swinging her hips, or his. I have seen a male belly dancer and he was good. While I tried to find the record button, household management entered the kitchen area to tend to the cooking and shoved me and my camera out of the way.

She gathers shells

A quickie from Monsieur Hulot's Holiday. The two characters are of no real consequence. They are often to be seen slowly strolling in quite a number scenes, he a few paces behind. I recall seeing at stage production of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and a similar stage device was used with a back packer wandering across the stage at various times. Ah, the wandering actor is the sister of Public Transport Users Association VIP.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Our ABC, for the summer

Let me say that I have no issue with reducing costs over the christmas period by our ABC by national broadcasting. It has been around for a long time and I expect it.

It can be rather good. I would have never heard the snappy Kelly Higgins-Devine if programmes did not go national over the holiday period. I like her rather a lot.

But already the rot of national broadcasting has set in. Pauses, and then the auto music kicks in. Supposedly national news having a strong Sydney focus. Broadcasters forgetting that they are performing for a national audience (this is ABC Canberra, 666. Oi, what about the rest of Australia?).

You know what is the worst? Broadcasters pretending they are in a mythical broadcasting centre of Australia and not identifying where they are. There is no harm in saying when broadcasting all over Australia where you actually are and which local radio station you work for. It is nothing more than honesty. By the same token, if the broadcast is coming from Sydney, don't talk about an obscure local suburb as if we all know where it is.

"This is 'name inserted' broadcasting from Northern Tasmania Australia wide for our evening programme". Well, something a little less formal but you get the drift.

Still, I am in Melbourne and we don't do so badly. I think I heard Perth mentioned on the current affairs tv show 730 last night.  Lordy!

A South Yarra Stroll Pt 2

I cheated on my walk. A tram arrived at Punt Road, so I hopped on and left at South Yarra Station. I walked down Yarra Street. From the Highrise, we watched this building rising. It looks quite nice in the distance.

How often I stood on Platform 6 waiting for the Pakenham train to go to Sister's at Murrumbeena where I would meet up with R after work and we would take Little Jo to the park. I watched workers beavering away on the construction site, purely from a technical construction aspect, of course.

There are walkways to go east towards Chapel Street, with ubiquitous cafes of course.

The slum residents of Daly Street in the early to mid twentieth century would scarcely recognise their street. The tower block on the left is known as Vogue and has a decent shopping centre at its base. It dominates the view from the Highrise.

The slum residents of Daly Street would certainly remember the tramway electric substation, now a frock shop called Le Louvre, transplanted from Collins Street. I must have crossed over Claremont Street without even noticing it. There was a nightclub in Claremont Street called The Warehouse, later called Salt. I recall cars queued in Toorak Road, blocking trams, while trying to turn into Claremont Street to go to the nightclub. While it did not happen on the premises, it was where some angst started between some patrons and resulted in a multiple murder, with some victims drowning in the nearby Yarra River. The commotion was witnessed by our estate agent who was selling our Balaclava house at the time and lived in a highrise on the corner of Chapel Street and Alexandra Avenue.

The Olsen is one of the Art Series Hotels, sprinkled around the inner south and east. The Blackman is close to the Highrise and we often go there to Depot de Pain for afternoon tea. Their coffee is superb. Another, The Cullen, is in Commercial Road, Prahran. All hotels are named after famous Australian artists and feature their works, or copies of them within.

Chapel Way, off Chapel Street. I have no idea where it leads, perhaps to the back of the  Como development. The whole eastern side of Chapel Street was once owned by Jack Chia, a property developer. His developer dreams of a little Venice, complete with canals, came to nothing. While not in this case, quite a bit of early Melbourne has been saved by developers dreams coming to nothing.

Old W class trams rattle and clatter along Chapel Street during the week. I was drinking a much needed cup of long black in the adjacent company of some quite rough acting tradies who were construction workers from a nearby building. I alternated between being disgusted by their crudeness and loud behaviour, and looking around for an appropriate wall to be slammed against while they had their wicked way with me. The foot traffic in this part of Chapel Street has to be seen to be believed, compared to a decade ago.

Ah, this would be where the tradies work. Upon completion, this building will block our view of Como and the Channel Ten tv station illuminated sign. So may highrise buildings have gone up in South Yarra, and hence the population has increased many fold. Each apartment will come with at least one car parking space. An already congested area has become even more congested, to the point where cars crawl along, with trams stuck among the traffic. South Yarra Station in the morning and evening peaks is so flooded with people, it can be almost impossible to navigate. The transfer of people to and from the trams and trains has to be seen to be believed. I like the theory of increasing inner city population density, but what is actually happening is overcrowding, of roads, footpaths and public transport.

The furniture retailer Freedom was located here, where we bought our dining suite. I read a little about Freedom lately and from memory, it is a privately owned company, not a public one, and the owners, a couple, own right up to the corner of Toorak Road.

Call this what you like, owned by the owners of Freedom. It was a cable tram engine house that ran the cables for Toorak Road and Chapel Street trams. After cable trams were replaced by electric trams, it became Capitol Bakery. I remember inside a skating rink, where Gay Skate was held, clothing shops, and a pinball parlour. Soda Rock was previously known as Johnny Rockets and before that, Soda Sisters, with another name which I have forgotten.
"I bought my first dope at the South Yarra Arms,
A whole matchbox full, in my hot little hands."

So the Skyhooks song went. South Yarra Arms has long gone, now Country Road and earlier, Sports Girl.

Will this building survive after the highrise construction has ended? I don't know, but I hope so.

I am walking back west along Toorak Road. I have never noticed this what is obviously once a car repair garage. The arched openings tell the story.  IGA is a grocery shop.

It is some time since the Longford Cinema closed. R and I saw a few movies there. Raymond Longford was a film director and obviously there was a connection to the Longford Cinema, but I am not so sure what it was. After I took the snap, my thoughts were broken by some loud and obnoxious type talking on his phone. I don't normally audibly swear, but I do in head my rather a lot. Who is that fucking obnoxious creep? I turned around and at an outdoor cafe table was Dermott Brereton. My opinion of him was reinforced. I recall a 'friend' who was a taxi driver and carried said Brereton. The friend, a thorough professional, ignored him, until Brereton asked, 'Do you know who I am?' Wanker.

Her Majesty's, known as Masies, a gay bar, when Toorak Road was a gay pick  up street. I recall a reference to the place by Graham Kennedy and on the tv show The Box.  For once the truth, I am too young to know about it, but an older resident of the Highrise described it to me. Men would park in the a dark place in the side streets and go for a stroll along Toorak Road and maybe meet a new friend and adjourn to their car 'for a chat'. Her Majesties is going to be turned into smart apartments. If you click on the photo to see it bigger, you might see a bust of Queen Victoria, along with a couple of pigeons.

The South Yarra Post Office, well it was until Australia Post decided it was not so important and did not need grand buildings.
This is the present South Yarra Post Office. As the grandeur of our post offices has diminished, so has the mail service.