Saturday, February 04, 2012


Me: There is a lot of money in the housekeeping.
R: Good.
Me: But we do need to go to Big W to buy some Vim.
R: Yes, washing powder, window cleaner and dish washing powder.
Me: So that will knock the balance down a bit.

We buy these in large containers as they are nearly half the normal supermarket price. 15kg of Cold Power or Dynamo concentrated washing powder, 3kg of Finish dish washing powder, 5l of Windex and 5l of Comfort fabric softener.

So what is the Vim reference about? Tell me what you know about Vim. You can tell me about green alternatives to the above too, which I will read with interest but not end up using.

Later edit: I'll stamp my feet and hold my breath until someone get the Vim as a collective noun reference to household cleaners.

The company I love to hate #57

Dear Telstra, this is not the first time this has happened and I find it slightly annoying. Let me give you the background as to why.

I use internet banking once a fortnight, the day I get paid. I pay bills, make adjustments etc. It is my personal accounting fifteen or so minutes. I don't like to log on to internet banking any more often than that. In fact I hate using it.

I am now a very smug person who pays the full amount on his credit card every month, but it wasn't always so. For most of my adult life I have paid credit card interest. But I am now in the company of those ever so superior people who say, ah, I pay my credit card off every month. Well, goody bloody hurrah for them.

Consequently I would get depressed when I logged into internet banking and saw my debt and the interest I was paying, so I only logged in when I had to.

Now, I get a little alarmed when I log onto internet banking and I see my bank balance always going up. Will it continue to do this? Incoming is exceeding outgoings. This hasn't happened to me since 1980. What do I do? I have superannuation to look after me when I am old. What do I do with this money? While I might like to buy a Jaguar, I am not sure I could stomach spending such money on some tin, leather and aluminium to use to travel to and from work.

So essentially I like to log on to internet banking once a fortnight, because I have to. So Telstra, you are really annoying when you send a bill that has to paid in thirteen days. I just paid bills this morning. For me, it means I have to log onto internet banking again. For a pensioner, and I will be one, one day, it could well mean them paying a day or two late and incurring penalties.

Surely twenty days would be fair, which would allow for postage delays, and for the less well off, a new pension payment to pay their bill. Ok, bargain down to sixteen days, but nothing less than fifteen. No other utility gives such a short period. Telstra, have you forgotten you are a utility? There to provide a service to the public? Oh, silly me. You are a private company now. Sorry, my mistake.

Friday, February 03, 2012

A Crushing Load

What a bad business in Port Said. Those Middle Eastern types you know. Just not civilised. Not like us in the West.

Not so Tasty

Back in the 1980s and early 1990s Victorian Police often targeted gay venues, including sex on premises venues, SOPVs. A friend was at a sopv known as Club 80 in the late eighties when it was raided by police. For what reason, who knows. No one was charged that he knew of. Each person's details were recorded, including my friend who's name was John Smith, well, so far as the police knew. He was not the type to take crap and was very challenging and lippy with them.

But then came 1994 and the raid that stopped all subsequent raids on gay venues. Tasty nightclub was in the Commerce Building in Flinders Street. We went there once. It was a good and relaxed venue with a great vibe. It was a mix of gay people, lesbians, transgender, drag queens and very gay friendly straights. The only other place I have been that was so mixed and so friendly among the mix was the Builders Arms in Gertrude Street, Fitzroy. We knew what went on down below at Tasty, but we didn't venture down there, not for any reason other than we were there with friends and having a good time.

In August 1994 an absolute outrage occurred at Tasty when the police raided the venue. This was a raid to end all raids. Patrons were lined up against walls and strip searched within view of everyone. Some were detained for up to seven hours. A few illegal drug pills were found on the floor, which is remarkable considering there were around 460 people at the venue.

Imagine what it must have been like for a transgender to have to get naked in front of umpteen people. I'd be angry just by my night out being spoilt.

The Kennett state government had been elected only two years before and the police force thought they we in a very strong and powerful position after years of the Labor government. Police Commissioner of the time Neil Comrie certainly had the ear of Kennett's government and many excesses happened under his leadership.

Shortly after the event, a policewoman asked me for some directions. I gave her the information required, she said thanks, and I said to her, 'See, I can be nice, in spite of Tasty'. She just grimaced.

I had forgotten, but Ms Ann O'Dyne reminded me that the class action taken by many of the patrons against the police was run by lawyer Gary Singer who went on to become Deputy Lord Mayor of Melbourne.

One person I knew joined the action and received a payout of about $10,000. Unfortunately because they did not want to be outed or did not want it to be known that they were at the venue, many did not join in the class action. As it was, the bill for the government came to over ten million dollars. Rephrased, bad police behaviour cost Victorian taxpayers ten million dollars.

There is no doubt in my mind that pure homophobia provoked the raid. The patrons were just out to have a good night, like they had many times before. They did not deserve to be detained or publicly humiliated by being strip searched. The Kennett years were a very bad period in Victoria's history.

And I will slap the first person who says, Kennett had to do what he did as the state was broke. Victoria was never broke.

Thursday, February 02, 2012


I like to be informed about politics around the world. The United States of America are having their primaries. It seems like it is a pre selection of who will lead the Republicans to the next presidential election. It is vaguely interesting, but oh, the overkill by our media about the primaries.

I reckon I speak for the majority here. We are interested, but not so interested that the matter should occupy so much time in our news broadcasts. Its not like we understand the American political system. I am surprised that Americans understand it.

It was only fifty years ago when we referred to England as the Mother Country, yet we get so little British political coverage here, and Britain is still an important place in the bigger scheme of things.

I suppose it is the case that we get such extensive political reporting from the US because it is easy and cheap to do with some of it already all packaged up.

East side, west side

While I wasn't exactly a born and bred Mornington Peninsula person, it was an area I was very familiar with. My granparents holidayed at times at Rosebud and Rye, as did my parents in my early days. Later we holidayed on Phillip Island for many years. Tradie Brother lives down that way, as does Ex Sis in Law and their kids. It wasn't until Sister moved to Geelong to take up her teaching position that we had any awareness of the Bellarine Peninsular. We did learn something of the area as Mother's late second husband came from Colac.

R has being looking at property on the laptop and I always get afraid as he might find something he likes when I have no intention of moving from the Highrise. He found a house in Lexton Grove, Prahran. As soon as I saw it, I deemed it wrong for us. He kind of saw sense when I told what price it would be, and that it was only bedrooms that connected to the back yard. We have already lived in the Highrise longer than we have lived anywhere else, and I'm not for moving.

In my mind, the Bellarine Peninsular was a nothing area. Portarlington, St Leonards, Queenscliff, Point Lonsdale, Indented Heads, Ocean Grove, Barwon Heads. All places that were quite alien to me, although I know them well enough now.

Yet, R informs me that a place in say Point Lonsdale now costs around $200,000 more than its equivalent in Rosebud. Turn the clock back twenty years and Rosebud would have been more expensive than Point Lonsdale.

East is east and west is west, or perhaps south of the river and north of the river, but the rules just don't hold anymore. Over the past three decades, it has become increasingly difficult to live on the wrong side of the tracks.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

We are iditos

Well, The Age thinks we are when reporting this sad fatality.

A cyclist has been killed in a collision with a truck in Melbourne’s outer north this morning.
It goes on to say later

The truck driver, a 27-year-old man from Broadmeadows, was not injured

Please, like a truck driver is going to be injured when his truck hits a bicycle?

The tide's out

I find tides quite interesting. My father would always say, the tide's coming in, or going out. This was evidently important if you wanted to catch fish. I don't like fishing. Along with it being ever so boring, I don't like to see fish gasping for oxygen once they are out of the water. I like my fish in a can or batter where I can ignore their suffering of a slow death.

Tides, yes, that was what I am talking about. Where is a big one? Funny that you have asked. Maybe outback explorer Red or local WA person Grace or traveller Diane have seen this, but no matter, there are very big tidal changes at a certain place in Western Australia. Correctly now perhaps, West Australia, a state within our great Commonwealth of Australia. You are waiting to hear about tides? I seldom write a post without a personal connection, however obscure at times.

David Attenborough featured the location on one of his shows, I believe. Let me see what I can find out about it.

It is near Derby, way up north in West Australia. I think that is pronounced as written rather than Darby. Ok, I have found Attenborough's clip on YT.

Talbot Bay is the exact location. The bay has two narrow openings to the Indian Ocean and the tidal water flows in and out these gaps with huge force. The highest world tides recorded are in Nova Scotia, but this place has the second highest in the world.

There can be a fourteen metre change in the water level in just four hours. To visualise, think of the height of a five storey building. I'm thinking of a couple of turbines to generate electricity. I can also imagine a lot of sea creatures get swept in and out if they are nearby. Your pooh stick would take off like a rocket.

Best you watch the You Tube clip.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Where was Tim?

Our Prime Minister's consort was clearly busy with other matters on the day. He could not rescue his damsel in distress. As this photo from The Age shows, instead a federal policeman stepped up to the crease. One could do worse if you are in difficulty when bolting from 'rampaging Aboriginal protesters' than have him envelop you in his strong and powerful arms.

Farewell Dinner

We decided to shout our guests to a last meal somewhere outdoors along the river at the casino. Too expensive, too posh, too this, too that. What about this one? It has spare seats for us. And so we ate at Cafe Baci.

I wasn't really expecting too much, but it was first class. The service was excellent. So good in fact, and I have never done this, I discretely tipped our waiter $10. The food was very good and more than we could eat, even though we did not order too much. We finished our meal with coffee and cognac, watched the fire show, walked through the casino to where we thought there would be an animated display for Chinese New Year, but there wasn't. To celebrate CNY many stalls had set up along the river, unfortunately blocking the view of the river. We crossed the river and made our way to the Federation Square tram stop. It was just a great evening, made better by us not shouting the meal, but R's sister and her friend paying. We paid for breakfast the next day and a late beachside lunch.

A few little surprises appeared around the highrise before they departed on Saturday evening.

The flowers were pretty obvious. You can't exactly miss them.

Good call here.

Potions, a pack for R too. In the box is teeth cleaning tablets! They'll be interesting.

I'd forgotten that we saw acrobats on the river front.

Very busy and very pretty along the river bank. Sometimes I just love my city.

Monday, January 30, 2012


R's sister and her friend wanted to go to Victoria Market for some rubbish gifts to take back to the UK. We were sitting and having coffee when I noticed an interesting looking cafe. I went to take a snap but some photo blockers got in the way.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Screwing the worker

Briefly when I was a callow youth, I had a business. It was a joint venture with my step mother, a garage in South Gippsland. My father owned the building freehold and we paid him rent. It was successful, but the bright lights of the city were calling me. Does that qualify me to comment on business? No, not at all, but I did learn some business things. One was don't trust staff. The other was if you do happen to have staff who are trustworthy, do all you can to keep them.

I just worked out this formula below in my head today. I am absolutely sick of owners of businesses complaining about how much their staff cost them. One successful restaurateur, George Colombaris, suggested staff should not get penalty rates for working un-sociable hours. Ha, so the lowest paid workers in Australia are getting rich on penalty rates. I don't think so.

Business owners, here is a formula. Costs, including staff, rent, supplies, taxes and all the rest, plus a profit margin for yourself equals the price you charge. It is that simple.

There is not a lot you can do to reduce many of your costs, except for staff and so you target the soft option. Fortunately in Australia workers are protected by awarded conditions and pay, so you can't cut those costs either. Instead you make a big noise in the media about staff costs. No, all business should be paying their staff the same basic pay or more. Staff costs do not make your business uncompetitive, so cease your bleating.