Saturday, March 31, 2012

Catching the 471 bus

I think I found this at Ian Visits. At times I am still amused in the manner of a smutty school boy.

In Paddington I saw a bus showing the destination, Cockfosters. I inwardly grinned every time I saw the destination displayed. I can't find a photo, but here is Cockfosters station roundel, by Little London Truths.

Mother and the Bulldogs

Mother does not actively follow Australian rules football, but having grown up in Melbourne, it is ingrained into her. Her team is Footscray, latterly known as the Bulldogs or the Doggies. Western Oval, Footscray's home ground, perhaps has a commercial sponsor name now. You may have guessed that I don't care for commercial names, especially not for historic places.

Mother used to get on her bicycle at Clarinda and ride to the local  bus stop. She would leave her bike and catch the bus to get to Oakleigh Railway Station. Upon her arrival at Flinders Street Station, she would change trains to get to Footscray and the Western Oval where should could see her hero Ted Whitten playing. She often stood in the mud, with rain falling.

After the game, she would get the train back into town and have an evening meal at the Classic Restaurant in Swanston Street and then go to see a movie. I suppose she was usually with friends, rather than on her own. It was then a reverse of the procedure to get home. There was no concern about her riding her bike home from the bus stop late at night.

I think I've published this photo before. I can't remember now. Mother is on your right.

Friday, March 30, 2012

We needed Uncle Sam?

You probably need to be a bit over forty to remember this television advertisement. It is rather ironic that the ad was on our screens just after or as we were pulling our troops out of Vietnam and uncle Sam  was not a favourite uncle in many quarters of Australia. Now sing a long kiddies. It may well stick in your head for the whole weekend....around and around and around it will go.

Town buildings

Although I worry so much about the demolition of buildings and drastically altered streetscapes, when Melbourne does save old buildings and even give them a big repair job, we don't do it badly at all, with some exceptions.

These two are both in Flinders Street, quite close to each other but very different styles. Yooralla is a charity organisation, although they may not like that title.

I think this may be just a fa├žade, but it is well done.
This one is in Franklin Street I think. It could have looked ever so much better if it was not blank at street level or had blanked out windows. Its end is fantastic.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Using Myki

Many people in Melbourne and the the country areas of Victoria are now using our new ticket system known as Myki, not pronounced Micky. For myself and R, it works without a problem.

I was surprised to see how people place their Oyster Cards on a reader for a significant amount of time when they are using the London Underground. You can see it in the BBC Two television show The Tube. I have watched most of what I think is the last show. It featured fluffers, who do a rather different job to what what I  thought fluffers do.

I am wandering and shall do so a bit more. In Singapore, there was none of placing your card on a reader. It was as it is in Melbourne. You touch as you walk past and in Singapore, it was fast.

I have finally put my Myki card in a place in my wallet where 'multiple cards' won't be detected. But it has seemed to slow the reading of the card process down a bit. What I was doing was taking the card of my wallet and as I was boarding a tram or a bus, stretching out my arm a bit to reach the reader, holding the card between my thumb and forefinger and by the time I passed the reader, my card had registered.

Yet, I see people struggling at times with their card. It has been said before that you don't swipe the card past the reader, but touch the the face of the card to the reader. I've not really seen people trying to swipe but people do need to remember to just hold their card still against the reader.

But what people really need to remember is that on trams you generally don't need to touch off when leaving the vehicle. Touch on, and you will be charged the minimum two hour fare. On buses I am  not so sure but I suspect it is the same, the default fare being the minimum two hour ticket. We touch off on the bus, just in case. I have been quite amused to see people on trams carried to the next stop after the driver has closed the doors because they were just standing at the doorway trying to touch off when they did not even have to.

For both trams and buses, there are plenty of readers inside the vehicles. You should not stand at the entrance reader checking your card balance when there are people are behind you getting on. You are delaying them, so you are delaying the vehicle. Public transport needs to keep moving.

While I am on about public transport, if you are a fit and healthy person, for goodness sake, leave the bus by the back door and leave the front door for people getting on. It is not a rule, but can I just whack you over the head with a bit of common sense.

This week's flowers

Slightly qualified.

Our balcony plant. I wonder if James has already bought a cyclamen for his balcony. 

R's flowers from one of his sisters in England. They are lasting very well.

The flowers I gave R for his birthday. He has picked up that they were not cheap. They were not, but by golly, they are lasting well.

Something from a gift package for R's birthday from our friend in Japan. It is a bit of a case of only in Japan. It is just one coffee bag.

No photo, but gee the gift from the local retired priest and his Malaysian partner is nice. If your want to impress someone, you can't go past a box of Koko Black chocolates.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A pond had been mentioned in Walking Melbourne. I dragged R up to corner of Exhibition and Victoria Streets to see it. It was right opposite where our friend from Japan stayed with her colleagues last year.

The pond only had an inch or so of water in it, no doubt from recent heavy rain. The pond is very old and I think deserves some respect. It should be full of glistening and moving water. How about it Lord Mayor Doyle?

Family Matters

At Tradie Brother's barbe on Sunday, we were presented with a box of a dozen bottles of wine. They are from your step mother's sister, said T Bro. Maybe Step Mother's sister came to my father's funeral in 2000, but I can't remember. Otherwise, my memory of her dates back to the mid 1970s.

She was perhaps late thirties and I must have been eighteen. She was drunk and I had drunk a couple of beers and was slightly tipsy. After she very accurately (I can't get the word right, so) mentally analysed me, we kissed passionately. Is it right for a father's girl friend's sister to kiss his niaeve son? I care not. It was nice and nothing came of it, and it was never mentioned. But I certainly took a reflective view of her and respected her for cleverness and in spite of probably being an alcoholic, always functioning pretty well and being ever so clever and smart.

I rang Step Mother today. She had a dog breeding meeting to go out to last night. She is in her mid seventies and the comparison between her high functioning in society and personally, and Mother's life, is like chalk and cheese. It is Step Mother's birthday. Her partner was in town getting her driving lights birthday present fitted. She was busy on a machine making track suits to sell at the local market. She made some for Little Jo when she was younger. My late Father certainly switched from a dependant woman, Mother, to a very strong and competent one.

Step Mother updated me on her sister. A son she had who she was only vaguely aware of from when he was born turned up. He is twenty five and works in a winery. So that is where our wine gift came from. Oddly, Step Mother only said her nephew. I knew who he was from a chat with Tradie Brother yesterday.

Step Mother's sister must be in her early seventies now. She lives in a town outside Griffith in NSW.

It was recently flooded. Her house and furniture are ruined and the town is going to take a class action against the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Authority as the town only received one hour's evacuation notice of the flooding and it seems a nearby town was saved by diverting water into a channel that sent all the water to her town, which has never flooded in the past.

Her insurance paid for a week in a motel in Griffith and then after prioritising families with children, put her in a one bedroom unit. Take that as a personal of flood victims in northern Victoria and southern to mid New South Wales.

In some ways I have a big family but the immediate family is small. But the big family would be all there if I was to make an effort.

A couple of days ago Victor  posted a photo of his parents' grave. His mother died two years ago. I tried to think of something to write as a comment, but I could not. The grave marking was tastefully simple, his parents and mentioning their son Victor.

I feel sad for Victor who has friends but no family, who are not a choice but a connection.

I suppose I will see Step Mother's sister again at some time, like at a funeral, but I will really make a big effort to connect with her.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Grand Pricks Racket

If you are wondering what a Grand Prix sounds like, here is a brief clip I took with the camera. I think I need a tripod. You will of course need your speakers on and I suggest you jack the volume up so that you hear as we do.

I am not well versed about South America. I have 'known' two guys from Chile and a friend had a long fling with a rather nice guy from Brazil who we got to know quite well. Ah, there was that ex Ansett Airlines guy who hooked up for a while with a guy from Uruguay. I remember now. He made hats, for women to wear to the Melbourne Cup. There is a name for people who make hats. Maybe it will come to me. Milliner, that's it.

Anyway, I diverted before I even started the post. An innocent Brazilian lad was shot dead on the London Underground by over zealous police a some years ago.

I am in the state of Victoria, so NSW court laws don't apply. I will suggest that Sydney police killed a Brazilian too with a combo of capsicum gas and taser shots. The Sydney lad may have been behaving erratically and stolen a packet of biscuits, but it will be very interesting to know why the Sydney cops did him in.

It seems being Brazilian is dangerous.

But no country has shooting like the the US. A lad wearing a hoodie was shot dead by a vigilante. The lad's crime was that he was not white and he was walking through a gated community. If the reportage is correct, he was returning from the shop having bought some lollies for his younger brother. Fortunately, after a very poor police investigation and poor work by the prosecutor's office, the whole matter has blown up. America is not a third world country. Things like this ought not happen.

But neither Britain or Australia have clean hands, especially when it is law enforcement that does the killing.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Ball Sports

There is a new Australian Rules football team based in western Sydney called Greater Western Sydney. I love the team theme song, although I am not sure how anyone will go singing it. Perhaps they don't plan to be victorious very often.

I could show you the official clip of the song, but that might be a bit boring. This makes it just that little more interesting.

Just Another Sunday

Let me begin by thanking my fellow motorists who generally behaved extremely well under very trying circumstances. I hope FruitCake only ventured south today, or more sensibly, just stayed at home.

There was a Frankston based Iron Man competition today, correctly Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship. Thanks to FruitCake I checked the disruption details before we journeyed to the swamps of Langwarrin. OK, Eastlink (toll highway) was closed north bound until 6pm. No big deal. We are going south to get there and will use the Hastings Highway to return home. When I was a kid, it was said I had a good imagination. Perhaps that was a euphemism for something else. Surely I did tell untruths? I should have used my imagination a bit today to work the repercussions of closing one highway that has light usage.

Well, to be fair, I did not know that the Frankston Freeway northbound would also be closed. Of course it makes sense. How do you get from Frankston to southerly start of Eastlink? I should have thought about what happens to all the northbound traffic that can't use the Frankston Freeway. The traffic was diverted into the Frankston to Cranbourne Road, the road we needed to use to get to Tradie Brother's for his barbecue for Mother's and R's birthday. The traffic was banked up on the freeway to Frankston North, but that is not so unusual, but it was slower than normal as police had taken control of the Frankston Freeway and Frankston Cranbourne Road to get more north bound traffic around into F & C Road. I turned off the freeway at the F North exit but made an error and went straight back onto the freeway. Actually, it was a good if unintentional move, as I skipped ahead of some of the banked up traffic we were behind. The traffic along the FC Road was heavy but moving slowly.

Tradie Brother has an extra special method for barbecuing. The less said about it the better. But he did go to great effort for the day.

Sister, Bone Doctor and Little Jo arrived the same time as we did, having been to the Oakleigh Market in the morning. ABI Brother and Mother shortly after. Tradie Brother's eighty year old neighbour came in too. Tradie Brother has lived in the house for twenty five years, the neighbour twenty years. The neighbour and her late husband moved from their house in Hampton to the back street swamps of Langwarrin. I am much puzzled by this. Dreaded Nephew arrived and is now very clean cut without dreads. He is a very handsome looking lad now. Oldest Niece and her beau arrived with a two birthday cakes. Ok, I might have have something to do with it. As I have always thought, she will come into her own as she gets older and she has started to. She even gave us a greeting kiss.

As we were eating, Mother told all about her medical problems, including her food allergies and the bowel effect of them. Charming.

R looked after Little Jo the day before and I think they may have done a bit too much. She was exhausted and whingey. She did give us a couple stage performances though, and distributed the easter stencilled easter eggs and cup cakes she and R had made the day before.

Non Dreaded Nephew poured some water into his van's radiator and left towing a trailer with some of his mother's furniture to deliver to to their new general store venture in Gippsland. Well that was after he crawled into the neighbour's house to unlock her door after she had locked herself out. Tradie Brother picked up a hammer and struck a large cow bell three times to summon another neighbour to come over for a drink. Time for us to leave.

I won't describe the trip home in detail, but it took us about thirty minutes longer to get home than it should have.

I don't have huge issues with St Kilda Road, the street where we live, being closed off to traffic and trams at times. If there is to be a ceremonial event, then St Kilda Road and Swanston Street are the streets to do it in.

What I do object to is the Iron Man event closing down a pay road and a public freeway for the whole day. It is an absolute disgrace. We drove home via the Hastings Highway. We spent about half an hour in stop start traffic after leaving Tradie Brother's place. It was misery. I always maintain control when I can't actually punch the person responsible on the nose, but R in the passenger seat was covering his face with his hands, and then clenching and un-clenching his hands as we inched forward. Effectively, two freeways were diverted, and some local roads too, into one already very busy road. Parties complicit? Eastlink. Frankston Council. Vic Roads. Victoria Police and surely State Government. Clearly Premier Teddy wasn't bashing off to Portsea this weekend.

On the way home I noticed via flashing signs that the Domain Tunnel is to be closed next weekend. Why is that? Ah, a kids fun run. Another weekend when public roads will be shut down for leisure activity. I just can't believe that our state government allows these events. They may be feel good for many, but many more so are massively inconvenienced and not in a small way.

Damn a big Australia. Our cities are overpopulated already. I'd bet that there are already peak hour traffic jams in Bendigo, Ballarat and Geelong so don't talk to me about expanding regional. It is a misery to try and get anywhere now. I'll just stay home and possibly vote for any party that promises a small Australia and an infrastructure catch up and no population expansion.

Ok, end of rant. Here are some photos I took

Dreaded Nephew's vege garden. He divides his time between the swamps of Langwarrin and his Carlton garret. Tradie Brother put stepping stones between the house and the bungalow. Funny, they all say 'Electricity'.

Ever so politically incorrect, but one chook is called Spaz and the other Spazzer. Tradie Brother knows them apart.

This was funny. One chook was was walking up and the other down.

Not sure why Dreaded Nephew, Oldest Niece and Chainsaw Niece bought their dad a a full on weather machine complete with an in house display. Must have been a significant birthday. I must have missed it. Tradie Brother did have a wee rant about the evils of Twitter and Facebook, yet he has barely ever touched a computer. However, apparently he is a social media expert, even though he has never used such a thing. Mother agreed with him whole heartedly. At 78, she who cannot push a button on a remote control to turn a tv on, is also knowledgeable about internet social media. On the weather station post is a wire to from the bungalow to the house. It is a fly wire and there is a cord with a hat hanging. When the wind blows, the hat flies back an forth across the fly cable.

Originally the eagle was suspended and flew across the guy wire with the wind, but it was sleep disturbing as it slammed from bungalow to the house and back again.

Back in the good old days when Sis in Law and Tradie Brother were still together, they thought their driveway needed cleaning. It was never finished but their bit of Peace and Love was immortalised.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

What is this solution

Golly, it was only this morning and already I am answering. What a push over am I, said the bishop to the bishop.

Our air conditioner sits in a metal tray. If you have an air conditioner, you will know they drip water. The original units fitted to apartments in this building had a tray equipped with a pump to pump the water out of the tray and into the sewerage system. These have not been terribly reliable, but that is an aside as ours, being retro fitted, uses a different method.

The tray has a water sensor and when the water reaches a certain level, a heating element switches on and the collected water is steamed away, which is why the plate with the holes in it looks burnt. Under the plate is the element that looks much like an old electric kettle element.

It all works quite well, but in extreme humidity, water also drips from the pipes that run at the back of the system and fall straight onto the balcony floor and drip down below.

No one has been here when clouds of steam rise when water is being evaporated, but it could be alarming.

The rubber pipe is just the hose from the gas bottle to the barbecue that sits on top of the air con unit.

A Line

There were five of these vehicles in my workplace carpark. They had data something on the side of them. One was slightly older and slightly different in the detail. Getting them all into a shot with a phone camera was too hard.

Meanwhile, would anyone care to suggest what this slightly burnt looking thing is?