Saturday, March 10, 2012

Random Phone Photos

When I am out and about without my camera, I have to make do with the phone camera. The quality of the photos taken by phones have improved somewhat since the early days.

I didn't think I took a photo of the Olympic world champion athlete while she was dining in Fitzroy Street at the same restaurant as we were. Perhaps my finger slipped. She is with her back to me in a blue top and black hair.

Developers were allowed to build at the side and on the forecourt of this church in Fitzroy Street, St Kilda. The church can only be seen through the gap between modern buildings and I think it looks pretty ridiculous. Are we seeing demolition by neglect? The developers couldn't demolish it but the creeper may well do so.

I had to look very closely to see why I took this photo. Me go to the Espy? I don't think so. Ah, it is the web address above the poster I wanted. Hey, there is some good art shown at the site.

Far from St Kilda is this apartment block, well perhaps they are better described as maisonettes. A couch cushion propping open a window with a ladder leaning against the wall. Did I witness a robbery in progress?

This is the motor car belonging to a straight male. Why on earth would he want a sticker of Keith Urban on his windscreen. Is Urban someone who this straight male would turn gay for?

Friday, March 09, 2012

Hanoi traffic

We didn't find the traffic in Hanoi too bad when we were there. Maybe it is worse now. Now Saigon was a different kettle of fish. There is serious traffic in Saigon.

But this footage from Hanoi makes the traffic and people look like the scene is a beautifully choreographed dance piece. No one bumps, no one stops, no one moves quickly, and the ballet just goes on.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

I knows me men

You know, I don't think I had seen a real Asian person until my teens, and even then rarely. I suppose there may have been some in the local Chinese take away food shop, but I can't remember them and I don't know that we ate Chinese food at all, except for my mother's execrable chow mein.

So naturally the first Asian that the teenage me lusted for was quite western really and boy did I pick a good one. Not only did he turn out to be smart and successful, he still looks pretty good. Les Gock is on the right at the end. I quite liked Keith Lamb too, second from the left, but he didn't achieve or last quite as well as Les.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Nature at the Highrise

While we don't exactly live next to a wildlife corridor, we do live next to a bird corridor. Conveniently there is a wide road and a low building near the High Rise and they are in a direct line between the lake in the Botanic Gardens and Albert Park Lake and Port Phillip Bay, so the birds use this as their commuter path.

Just off the top of my head, we have seen gulls, ducks, cockatoos, galahs, Indian mynas, mudlarks, magpies, pelicans, swans and probably more. The latter two fly very high, so they are not really using the corridor.

What we are seeing a lot of lately are bats. Fruit bats, that is, or flying foxes. Melbourne used to be too cold and dry for the likes of the Grey Headed Flying Fox, but our city has become a humid heat sink with only a very rare frost, so the climate became more agreeable to the bats in the 1990s and instead of just visiting, they started to roost all year round. By 2003 there were 20,000 of them in our Royal Botanic Gardens and they were doing untold damage to the trees in the gardens. I remember when we used to see them flying around at night not long after we moved to the Highrise.

Enough, said the Botanic Gardens folk. With the banging of pots and pans and amplified music, they drove them up the Yarra River to Kew and Ivanhoe.

But guess what? The bats are back, from my external observations anyway. We see several every night fly past.

It is certainly not a sterile environment up here in the clouds. We get moths, flies, blow flies, butterflies but never mosquitoes. Then there was the 2003 ant invasion when they discovered my hair removal wax, but not seen a single one since. No mice or cockroaches or possums. A bird did land on the balcony once and hopped in the open door and then hopped out again. The only time we see spiders is when they come in through an open window at night and it is not often.

This little bug visited and hung around for a couple of days. I have never seen anything like it before and I have no idea what it might be. The closest thing I can think of is a christmas beetle. Click to see it bigger. It is quite pretty.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

'Tis a funny thing

I like lists. I like being able to tick things off a list. It clears the mind of things you don't have to remember anymore. Even before I have reached the mid age mid fifty point, I wish I could clear my memory of useless stuff to make room to remember other stuff. As Tony said, he can't remember his wife's phone number, and nor do I know anyone's phone number now. They are all programmed into the phones. At least I do know R's phone number.

But I can remember old phone numbers from years ago with ease. I want to be rid of them and make more memory space. Seems it is not how our brains work.

I like to write things down so that I remember them. So, I write reminder lists to do this, or even for blog posts, I write a few reminder words and expand the post later. But the funny thing is that once I have written things down, they tend to commit to memory and I no longer really need a list.

Are you a list person?

That Guy, yes Matthew Guy

Maybe I held our previous Labor Planning Minister up to higher expectations because he was a part of the a Labor government. I expected little from our present Liberal Planning Minister Matthew Guy and he certainly hasn't disappointed me. I am not going to leave myself open for a legal attack, but what an extraordinary thing that Phillip Island business was. Never mind our city heritage buildings being demolished before our eyes.

Now Minister Guy wants to extend high rise buildings to the south, east and west of the city. Well we already have them to south and west. What's the big deal about a few more? Oh, there is that one little pocket not for high rise in the suggested area, coincidentally preventing a tall building being built where it would block the wealthy residents' view from Domain.

The idea of developing areas where there is already good infrastructure sounds good. The very inner suburbs maybe five kilometres from the city do generally have good infrastructure, especially if you are talking about public transport. Let us look at South Yarra, a fine area and new accommodation buildings, low rise and high rise are going up left right and centre. It has the infrastructure, the call goes out.

No it doesn't, not anymore. Train and trams are already crowded to the point where people can no longer fit on and have to wait for the next one, hoping, often in vain, that it will not be so full. The major South Yarra Roads are mostly stationary, with cars and trams. It is somewhat amusing to see a tram a with one hundred people on it sitting in stop start traffic along Toorak Road with a single driver in each car.

When Melbourne High students leave school in the afternoon and head for South Yarra Station, they make an impenetrable wall of bodies and no one can pass in the opposite direction.

The entrance to South Yarra Station is woefully undersized for the numbers who use the station. In the morning peak you might see fifty people get off each passing tram and another one hundred try to squeeze on. The station badly needs enlarging and renovating and the trams need to be larger, more frequent and get a better run.

Speaking of station renovations, what has happened to the Balaclava Station? Richmond? The new Southland Station? I just checked the timetable due to start in April this year and runs to December, and the Cardinia Road Station apparently won't be open by then. God, it is not much more than a bus stop. Apparently more electric in the wires are needed. Who would have thunk that in advance?

In some areas there may well be what seems to be good infrastructure, but it all seems to suffer from neglect.

While I well may romanticise London's Tube, it is a constant work in progress. Blackfriars Station is the latest to be renewed. Much to Tube commuters' frustration, it is a work in constant progress, unlike patch it up and she'll be right attitude to our public transport.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Daddy's gone a floating and we don't know where he are

I don't know why my father was buried in Nathalia Cemetery. I think he and Step Mother used to shop in Nathalia but it was half an hour away from where they lived. The cemetery is a nice enough place with views over fields (very useful for the dead) and bordered on one side by a creek, Broken Creek that is, and broken its banks it has and the area is flooded with a peak not expected until Thursday.

I hope my Daddy is not floating around the paddocks of Nathalia.

"Mr Andrew, it is about your father. Apparently he lost some weight after his death and due to insufficient weight in the coffin, the flood waters have freed it and he is now headed for the Murray."

Visiting Queens

Last week or so it was the Queen Elizabeth visiting Melbourne. Today it is Queen Mary, the largest ship to ever sail in Port Phillip Bay and dock at Station Pier.

This is the Volendam which sailed the same morning as the Queen Elizabeth. Doesn't look that big, I commented to R, thinking it was the Queen Elizabeth.

Here we go. This is the real thing. The Queen Elizabeth. Passing is the ferry to Tasmania, The Spirit of Tasmania. Now if you stand next to the Spirit on its own at Station Pier, it seems huge. But as you can see, it is dwarfed by the Queen Elizabeth.

This is the best I could do this morning with the Queen Mary in the half light before dawn. Not good, I know. If you want to see a couple of cracker photos of her, try here and here.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Forty three beans

The coffee machine at work produces a rather good cup of coffee. I insert $1.20 and press the 'long black' button and the machine whirs and the beans grind and less than a minute later I get a fine cup of tasty coffee. But it was broke. What to do? I do have some instant coffee at work, but starting my working day with a cup of proper coffee from the machine was what I was set on. I did not kick the machine.

Instead I went out into the street to a nearby Gloria Jeans outlet. It was the first time I had entered the shop and it was certainly nicely decorated and the cakes looked very nice. It used to be a Starbucks until they closed down many of the stores here in Australia. Apparently we Australian's aren't overly fond of Starbucks.

I just remembered something too. Gloria Jeans has a connection to the crank religious mob Hillsong. Just checked, direct connection was severed in 2009 but GJ still supply coffee carts and supplies for Hillsong fund raising. Lie with dogs, get up with flees.

Back to the coffee. I thought instead of being automatically being served a bucket of coffee, I would ask for a regular, thinking it was the standard size. No, I got a bucket of coffee. R tells me I needed to ask for a small.

Now, can someone tell me how GJ manages to remove all taste of coffee from a long black coffee? It was awful.