Saturday, May 05, 2012

A Tangled Web

A new device has appeared on the desk, because I bought it. It is 1tb external hard drive. No more burning things to cds, dvds, transferring to memory sticks, loading to Drop Box. Nope, this backs up everything. It silently sits there unobtrusively adding new things to our sixteen year computer history. I thought to take photo to show you, but it is just a boring black box.

Instead have a look at the mess of wires behind the computer case. The large grey flexible tube was an attempt to tidy them up a little, so that at least there weren't so many wires hanging from the desk, but really, rats could nest in the entanglement and I wouldn't know. Apart from a desk lamp, there eight devices plugged in to the power. Why does one computer need eight lots of power? I have no idea which plug is for what, but we did buy a new power board with a surge protector a couple of weekends ago. The old one, had only four outlets, but this one has six, plus three of the four wall outlets are used, the spare being used for the vacuum cleaner. Still, one double adaptor is needed.

When putting the the power board into position, with lots of old man grunting as I squirmed around under the desk, I discovered all were essential for the computer to function as we knew it. So I suppose I don't need to know which plug does what, as long as they are all plugged in.

Eek, I hope there isn't dust on the skirting board if you click on the pictures. I do clean it, every so often but you'll understand my reluctance to get in the with the vacuum cleaner.

Of note, the double adaptor also has a surge protector. No excuse for not having them now. Two double adaptors with surge protection for $6 and $9 for the six outlet surge protection power board. They are made in China, so I am sure they are quality products and those of you who think the surge protection amounts to the addition of a red light, wash your mouth out and put your faith in global trade.

So if you have a desktop computer, rather than a laptop, does yours have a similarly tangled web behind it?

Friday, May 04, 2012


This is London's latest version of the Routemaster bus, or if you like Boris Bus, so named because Mayor Boris Johnson got rid of the articulated bendy buses and ordered development of a new Routemaster. They have a rear platform used only when a conductor is on board, otherwise the rear platform is closed. It is suggested the EU will take a dim view of this possibly unsafe method of boarding or alighting from the bus, so there may not be much of an export market for the Boris Bus. It certainly looks very sleek.

Mayoral candidate, again, 'Red' Ken Livingstone, says he will cancel the Boris Bus order if he is elected in the election that has just ended, I think.

While normally a would vote for a left candidate, such a Livingstone, he has some weird ideas and I am not keen on many of his policies. So I will cast my virtual vote for the Tory Boris. (Hmm, I wonder if there were other more appealing candidates?)

Gay Mardi Gras

No, not that big one, a lesser known one. On the Stuart Highway in between Katherine and Tennant Creek, Northern Territory, is the town of Elliot. With a population of 355 at the last census, perhaps half being indigenous, you might think it is a sleepy little place but as it has done for the past eight years, a couple of weekends ago Elliot once again put on its own Gay Mardi Gras.

It is rumoured that for the first few years, one of the floats looked rather like a disguised NT police car.

Clearly this must see event is going to be added to all grey nomads' itineraries.

Photos are from ABC RN Bush Telegraph. Note the fabulous Valiant AP6.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

The Drains

There is a place that has long disturbed residents of St Kilda West and Middle Park and that is the Cowderoy Street Drain.

It drains storm water from a large area of inner southern Melbourne into Port Phillip Bay. It smelt worse than Elwood Canal, but perhaps not as bad as Mordialloc Creek. 

I can't find any easy to read information online for you, but reporter Dan Webb will be pleased to learn that finally, the problem has been fixed, I think. A basin has been built to collect water and it is recycled through natural filtration into Albert Park Lake. I can't imagine this impassioned report went to air, but Mr Webb certainly makes his opinion very clear. What a shame it is cut short. I saw Mr Webb on a tram in Armadale a couple of years ago, so I assume he is still alive.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Slippered or Scuppered

Just across a couple of old bits of text I saved for a rainy day.  I don't know why I saved them. Maybe I thought there there would be reason to revisit them one day. Absolutely irrelevant to present day politics. All history now.

But boo especially ****. Without going into too many details for fear of being arrested for sedition or defamation - but does anybody else think he of all people should keep very, very, very quiet on this particular issue? 

The dirt controversy took on a different hue on Sunday when veteran journalist Laurie Oakes revealed the Liberals were behind a document being circulated about an unnamed Howard government minister.
The minister, who is married with children, has reportedly been seen at gay bathhouses in Sydney and has been sexually harassing other men, according to extracts from the dirt sheet published in News Ltd papers.

Revenge is a dish best served cold.

A Puzzlement

Two matters coincided and caused me some head scratching. Our hairdresser friend decided to celebrate her birthday, odd in itself, as she never has before. She decided we should dine at a French restaurant near where she lives, Embassy@97 in Fitzroy Street, St Kilda. We had a fine meal and HD realised she knew the owner from hair dressing school. Before we went, I had a look at the restaurant website and it made mention of being in front of the old French Embassy in St Kilda. Yes, I knew the building. It is fine apartments now. I took photos of it a long time ago, well just the entrance as that is all you can really see.

This is beside Embassy@97, looking into the building known as Brooklawn, apparently once a French Consulate.

Then I came across this photo on my travels around the internet. The photo is of famous/infamous Mirka Mora and was captioned Mirka Mora rummages among the rubble of Australia's first French Embassy. Well, how many French Embassies were there? The State Library gives more details of the photo, but that wasn't where I came across the photo. All I knew was it was MM on the site of demolished French Embassy in 1968 in Fitzroy Street, St Kilda. Well, where was it?

I got busy searching, using many different search terms and I was getting nowhere. I asked in a group and I was given some misinformed information, suggesting that it was on the western side of Fitzroy Street as the visible building at the very top of the photo was Srathmore Apartments, which are almost next door to Embassy@97. With Melways street view I could see the top of the Strathmore Apartments and although similar, it wasn't a match. Two of my own posts popped up when I was searching and I should have examined them then and there as they contained part of the answer. I also emailed Alliance Francaise in Grey Street but I never heard back from them.

A friend then reminded me that Embassies are in are capital city of Canberra, not in our big cities. During my research I decided that the building behind Embassy@97, Brooklawn, was only a consulate, not an embassy. It had also been a brothel in its time.

I went to the website of the State Library to do some searching there and the first thing that popped up was the above photo with extra information. It was a Herald newspaper photo and this info:
Three-quarter-length, to left, standing amid piles of bricks and stone, holding pieces of rubble at demolition site of building by the name of Voltaire-Racine, former French embassy and fashionable hotel in Fitzroy Street, St. Kilda.

Voltaire-Racine, now I had something to search for. Digitised newspapers told me is was a boarding house in the 1920s, but I was getting many different street number, 71, 73, 75. Then elsewhere 71 and 81 were coming up. Ok, I believe Voltaire-Racine was the site of the first French Embassy in Australia and it was where Mirka was when the photo was taken. It was time to physically investigate and disprove the false information I had been given. The location seemed to be on the corner of Fitzroy Street and Jackson Street, or Loch Street, as maps have a bob each way with the street name. I knew there was one old building on the corner, which kind of ruled out many of the street numbers but not entirely as there were Fitzroy Street numbers behind the existing old building. I needed to go to the shops, so instead of the City or Prahran, I would go to St Kilda. The tram stop is right opposite Embassy@97, so it was a good place to start.

However, before I left home, I took a look at my old posts that popped up. On this one, Sean tells me the name of the house was Brooklawn, Its the old French Embassy ("Brooklawn" 91-97 Fitzroy Street) now apartments. Architect is unknown. Part of a series of four mansions now built out by shops ... 
That would have saved me a bit of time if I checked. What about this one? RH and Marshall Stacks both mention Voltaire-Racine.
RH: You wouldn't have known of the old Voltaire Racine 'apartments'in Fitzroy Street. The house was at the end of a narrow walkway between two shops (just down from where the post office is now, if it's still there) and the house itself was at the rear of one of the shops; you could just glimpse a few stone steps up to a doorway.

Marshall Stacks: NLA Australian Newspapers - article display
_ ST. KILDA, VOLTAIRE, RACINE, 75 Fitzroy Balcony SUITE, excellent cuisine; tennis, billiards, grounds. _'Phone, 040 Windsor.

And there you go. I am standing near where Voltaire Racine, the old French Embassy was, looking across Fitzroy Street to an apartment block which is an exact match to the building at the top of the photo with Mirka.

Closer up reveals the name of the apartment building is Kingsclere but I have a feeling it was known as something else, and NO, I am not going to find out.

This is the back of the horrible modern building and car park that replaced Voltaire Racine. What a shame. I cannot find any photos of Voltaire Racine.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Go Home Yank

So many Australians of a certain age are anti American. I don't think it is not particularly directed at American people, rather the governments they elect. I am a creature of my time. I am not so sure I hear this in young people who have grown up with Americans as their dominant media and cultural role models. Perhaps that is what really gets up the noses of people my age.

Is calling Americans Septic Tanks so very different to how we disparage Ireland where so many of us came from? Not me mind you. I come from everywhere except Ireland.

How far back does this business go? Certainly back to World War II. Australian men felt great antipathy to American soldiers who were here on R and R. Over sexed, over paid and over here, the saying went. The smartly dressed GIs with lots of money stood poorly against the less well paid Aussie soldier in his slouch hat and baggy woollen pants. At times they even went the biff, as if they were enemies. The whole Aussie war bride thing where Aussie lasses married US soldiers and went to live a new life in the US with their new husbands has been well documented and is quite fascinating. Of course this added grist to the mill with accusations of 'them' stealing our women.

Back in the 1940s our Aborigines knew there place, that was 'out the back', not where decent white blokes were drinking. Black US GIs seemed to think they had the right to frequent all public areas. Oh dear, more biffo.

You may well try to correct my thoughts, but for people my age, it is the Vietnam war that really did it. While I may speak as if I was part of the anti Vietnam War movement, I was actually a bit too young. We hated the war. We hated our government that got us involved in the war but most of all we hated the US who's war we were fighting. Post loss of the Vietnam War, our passions and self righteousness grew until it took on an extraordinary self righteous life of its own.

Australia and England have had their fair share of dodgy Prime Ministers, but did we ever have such a blatantly corrupt leader such as Nixon? Did we ever have such a figurehead do nothing such as Reagan. A lot was done his name, but I doubt much came from him personally. He wasn't terribly bright was he? Was there ever what seemed to a bumbling war monger such as George Dubbya? Surely he must be clever underneath? Surely.

It is queer thing, but only the oldest Vietnamese have issues with the US over the war. For most, it is a bit of history which they know about but so long as $US flow in to the country, they don't have issues.

But we who marched with Dr Cairns in the Vietnam War moratoriums will never forgive the US for what she got Australia into. Ah, but as I said, I was a bit too young.

Now the US is in a dilemma. Problems in Egypt, who they support and the usual problems in Israel. This is what happens when you control the world.

(I wrote this post a long time ago, updated it, and saved it to get it into order, polish it and make it nicer and not offensive. I have not done that. Below is a current addition)

Apparently a Greens Party senator in NSW has called for a boycott of Israel. A boycott of Israel is not Greens Party policy. One Tory politician, Andrew Robb, who perhaps happens to have the largest number of Jewish constituents in Australia called her as anti Semitic. Regardless of my own thoughts, why is it that if you have issues with the government of Israel and its policies, you are called anti Semitic? For the record, every country in the Middle East is crap. Just call me racist.

I hope I have always illustrated that I hate all religions, without fear or favour.

And even later I added to it, polished it a bit, but never really got it right. I wanted to write a salient post on why Australians seem to be anti American, instead it got all ranty. My first sentence should have be that we aren't, or are we? Original date 28/01/11.

Ok, I'll go for a summary. Australians are very anti Bush. Good that he has gone. We can't understand why there isn't some sort of universal health coverage in the US. While people like Palin and Trump are taken seriously, we just don't get it. Minimum wage of $5.70? California is is one of the richest places in the world, so how come the state is broke?

I say this with the knowledge that Australia is absolutely perfect.

(I don't know how old this post is. I have played with it so many times. Originally it was a response to Dina about American and Australian relations. I recall her saying she looked forward to reading it. Some years later Dina, for what it is worth, here it is.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Clearing the bush

Well, I expect things are a bit tidier now when tree felling in the bush happens. I saw quite a few tree felling sites when I was a kid as my father did some tree felling when things were quiet on the farm.

They were ugly ugly places. I did not pick it up at the time, but remembering now, they were bad. Apart from grand trees crashing to the ground, smashing other trees as they fell, and possibly destroying whatever was living in the tree, what was probably the worst, was the spillage of diesel. It went everywhere. Empty fuel drums would be left behind. The chainsaw needed an oil change? Tip the old oil out onto the ground.

If you repeat this through many forests, it is nasty stuff right through so much of our bushland. Yet, to visit the same places now, they would  probably look quite ok, revived and survived. Perhaps an environmentalist would disagree after some study, and they may well be correct, but the real issue is the lack of respect for nature. We did things like that because we could and we felt no responsibility to clean up after ourselves.  

It is not just in the bush where such things happened. When I was a child, people regularly threw rubbish on the ground, the difference being that much of what was rubbish then would quickly break down, unlike present day plastics. Do that now and you stand a chance of being fined. You will certainly get stared at.

In the very merry month of March

The weather was still warm in March when I took a stroll along the northern Yarra river bank.

I started at the beginning of the Banana Alley Vaults. There are now businesses in the old vaults. What a radical idea, finding a new use for old buildings.

The Sandridge Rail Bridge, now a pedestrian bridge with moving abstract sculptures. They don't appear to move to the naked eye, but they must as their positions change. Sometimes they all bunch up at one end and they don't look so good then. Lining the bridge are also panels mentioning Australia's original inhabitants and migrants from every corner of the globe. It is the third railway bridge on the site and was opened in 1888. The bridge carried trains to St Kilda and Port Melbourne (Sandridge) across the Yarra River. In 1987 the trains were replaced by light rail and the bridge closed. It re-opened for pedestrians in 2006, just in time for the Commonwealth Games.

Eureka Tower, Melbourne's tallest building at 88 storeys. So tall, I couldn't fit it into the lens.

An old railway signal box, now used, by the sound coming from it, for exercise.

Looking along the Sandridge Railway Bridge. The other bridge to be seen is Queensbridge.

What have we got here? A giant theremin. Remember I posted about theremins back here. I had a bit of fun with this giant one. Who wouldn't. Read more about this one at this ABC link.

On my own one fine morning I had breakfast on the pontoon thingy below Southgate Bridge. It was very pleasant, even though I don't like the bridge very much. The place on the pontoon is a bar at night time and to use words that probably make me very unhip, it really goes off.

Melbourne's Concert Hall, now called Hamer Hall, and the building Southgate started the redevelopment of South Bank from an industrial area to a very well used area now. Hamer Hall is closed for massive renovations that are well on their way to be completed. Instead of it being fully focused on St Kilda Road, it will have a connection to the river. Southgate, the last time I was there felt dated, but I think it may have had a makeover since.

A typical citizen of Melbourne out for a walk on a fine day.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Happy Easter

So non topical. Easter has passed. I bought R the egg with the chocolate liqueurs and as per usual, he bought me the bilby from Haigh's. A percentage of Haigh's bilby sales go towards efforts for their conservation. 

Slippering it

Let me preface this with the statement that I do not like politician Peter Slipper and I have no sympathy for his predicament.

But, and isn't there always one. This is about case I know of that is yet to be resolved and it would be inappropriate to fill in who, where and when, but clearly it is a workplace situation.

The accuser is young, cute, gay and attractive, and also in the situation of being the newbie. The accused is older, respected, gay and anything but a newbie and in a position of power.

The accuser accuses the accused of sexual harassment.  The accused is suspended from work. This is as it should be.

Apparently the accused did make sexually suggestive comments to to accuser. No one who knows the accused would be surprised by this. No one who knows the accused would take any notice of suggestive comments. I have done the same. But I pick my mark. I only do it when I know the person well enough. It is such great fun to make a straight guy blush with embarrassment when you suggest you want to ??? I suppose at the end of the day they could call me for sexual harassment, but as I say, I pick my marks very carefully. As times have changed, I do it very rarely now. Perhaps an example will help.

'Nick, I have a problem.'
'What's that Andrew?'
'When I am pleasuring myself I think of you and workmate Peter together, but I can't work out who is doing whom. It kinda works seeing you on top, but hey, I think I would like to see you on the bottom. C'mon Nick, tell me which you position you'd rather be in?'

Nick's face turns to a shade of red. He is so sweet and I like him heaps. What a pity he is straight. He laughs and tells me I am sick.

'Sick I might be Nick, but then I didn't have a threesome with my girlfriend and our mutual dyke friend, (V, you met her) did I. And it was you who asked me about what sort of lubricant to use when you wanted to add some less than vanilla experiences to your time with your girlfriend'

A silly grin and more embarrassment. Yet, had Nick recorded this banter, and turned nasty, I could be in the position of the above accused. He said nothing but grinned and smiled.

I don't like to think of myself as too smart, but I think I am a bit smarter than the accused who may well have had a much less explicit conversation, with someone he trusted, just because the accuser was also gay.

From what I can work out, the accuser had an ulterior motive to get out of where he was and into a more desirable place. He encouraged flirtatious conversation with the accused and at some point recorded some chat on his phone as proof of sexual harassment.  In summary, the accused was set up. In further summary, the accused was in a position of power over the accuser and the accused is old enough and been around enough to not fall for such a situation. Whatever the outcome, the accused's career is ruined and the accuser may well be victorious but his card will be marked.

Now, imagine if the accused was of the age he is, say 50 plus and the accuser was female, say mid twenties. Now that is much more serious, but should it be? Generally yes because situations like the above are common to gay men. Older gay man comes on heavily to a younger gay man. Younger gay man brushes off the older gay man. So long as older gay man takes no for an answer, no offence is committed. If the older gay man continues to come on to the younger gay man, sometimes he will be successful, but the younger gay man might have to be firmer to reject him  or he might succumb. That is just how it works in gay world. The lesson learnt from above is that gay world does not work in the workplace. But just to reinforce, the accuser had been a flight attendant too, so clearly we are not talking about a poor innocent young gay boy being hit on by and older gay man.

What has this to do with Peter Slipper?

Absolutely nothing, but if you added alcohol into the mix described above, and the accuser was ideologically opposed to the accused....well, all I can think is that there is no queen like a stupid old queen who has been around long enough to know better.

Slipper may well have been set up, but ultimately, it is his fault. What I wonder is how high up the Liberal Party hierarchy was the authorisation for a plant on Slipper.

I am very doubtful about clicking publish on this one, but after eight years of keeping myself clean, what the heck.