Saturday, May 12, 2012

Trust Me. I'm from the Government #89

Once again I have come across a classic example of where we would assume something is heavily regulated for safety reasons, and the safety regulations are not enforced. The regulations may well have been adequate but the enforcement very clearly and very obviously was not. I am not directing this particularly at NZ as I don't think we do any better.

Remember the tragic balloon fire and crash in New Zealand earlier this year where eleven people died? A preliminary report has been handed down.

The balloon pilot had cannabis in his system. This may or may not be relevant. If he smoked cannabis a week before, it could still show in his system but he is hardly likely to be affected. If a cause has been determined, I have not seen it in the newspaper or the report.

The investigating authority stated that the balloon should not have been in the air. The burners and LPG fuel system had not been correctly inspected, the balloon material had not been properly strength-tested, and a safety logbook was left incomplete.

The Civil Aviation Authority inspected all of the seventy four hot air balloons in New Zealand and sixteen were found to be potentially not airworthy.

One wonders what the CAA had been doing to ensure ballooning safety standards were being met? Ten people subconsciously put their faith in the fact that they live in a first world country where safety standards are high, are monitored and maintained, and their faith was misplaced.

Next time you feel you will be safe from hazards because you live in a first world country and there is strict government regulation, think again.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Weather Report

Here is the weather forecast from the Glasgow studios of BBC Scotland.

I did notice when we visited Britain that news and weather presenters are inclined to be older people than the presenters we see here in Australia.

Flash Mob Friday

I have two videos for you delectation today. You can take your pick. Firstly we have the Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra at Copenhagen Central Station playing Ravel's Bolero, not my favourite piece of music, but a great performance nevertheless, even if the very obvious instruments rather give it away.

The second is in Israel and surely it has to be Tel Aviv, apparently a city very high on the gay holiday maker list and culturally a long way away from the zealots of Jerusalem. (I actually know a little about Tel Aviv and I like what I have heard) The music mix is quite good and although it is a bit slow to get going, it improves once everyone is in formation.There is some eye candy for those who like guys but plenty for those who like girls.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Words across the Pacific

Australians are quite used to American pronunciations of words. Some of us, grrr, even use them. Mostly they flow over me and I don't notice them, bar one in particular.

It grabs me every time I hear it, rather like when I hear a news report about the World Health Organisation. Who?, I say silently to myself. (I've tried saying it out loud but R is inclined to glare at me)

The word that bothers me with its American pronunciation is missile. You know, those things that squabbling countries threaten to shoot at each other. Kaboom. North Korea hasn't had much success with them of late.

While there are rules for English, they are so many exceptions, there hardly seems any point to them. To hear grammatically perfect English without modification towards naturalness of any sort can sound very odd to the ears. But at times there is a consistency such as ile at the end of a word. It sounds like aisle, as in a supermarket, or isle as in island. Maybe I should at this point check how Americans say aisle. Press on regardless.

So how can missile possibly be pronounced like a book old Ratzinger in the Vatican might peruse, a missal? How can missile possibly be pronounced missal? Does any native speaker in the US say missile?

I suppose the answer can only be, it just is in the US.

Words, always an opportunity to mention my most disliked. If I hear any of youse say or write orientated or disorientated instead of oriented or disoriented, I will bop you on the noggin. For you foreigners, see what Google translate makes of that phrase.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Sydney V Melbourne #29

Advertising comes in many forms is this is just another. It is a light hearted comparison between Sydney and Melbourne. I am not sure how the picture will work here, so maybe if you click on the embedded link at the top, you will get a better view. Hotel Club paid me not a single shekel, but they did send a nice enough email.

Produced by Hotelclub

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Just another Sunday

Last night at the Racecourse Hotel in Caulfield where we dined, I was spooked to see Little Jo arrive with R. R was supposed to travel there by tram, but instead Bone Doctor brought him. I had no idea Little Jo was around. They Bellarine family were in town. They did not stay. Little Jo doesn't find old people like our friends very interesting. Sister was at the football where her team won by many points, so there Victor. They went on to stay at Bone Doctors father's place in Oakleigh overnight before they joined up with Bone Doctor's mother for her birthday celebration Frankston.

"It is central for all", said Bone Doctor's mother. Bone Doctor said, well maybe central for my mother in South Gippsland and my father and brother in Oakleigh, and my sister in Balwyn, but not so central for us on the Bellarine. Dutiful Bone Doctor daughter complied, as did Sister. Bone Doctor's parents are our age and professional working people, so Sister is very respectful of them to ensure a good inheritance and good family relations for Little Jo.

Oh yes, Sunday. Tram from home to Flinders Street. Tram to Swan Street Richmond. Check out home furnishing shops in Church Street. Tram in Church Street to Bridge Road. Time for lunch. Coffee, tandoori wrap and chips to share. Tram to Spencer Street. Walk for a long way. Look for a standard lamp at Beacon Lighting at South Wharf. No joy.

Plan trip home, a significant walk to William Street tram and my feet were sore, and must stop off for refreshment along the way. Cost of refreshment would pay for half the cost of a taxi cab home.

Damn the expense. We will do posh. We caught a taxi cab home. A whole $11 divided by two and I learnt a new road to get home from that part of town. Thanks Mr Taxi Driver.

Clearly this was meant to be published Monday, but I did not get to finish it. Toady I was out and about again and I have a train whinge. I was at Richmond Station and I wanted to go to Parliament Station. It would be too much to expect a train to go directly there without having to go around the City Loop. I was prepared for that. But all indicator boards told me to catch the next train to Flinders Street and change there for a City Loop train. I had walked for miles and I was whacked. I was quite prepared to just sit and wait for a City Loop train at Richmond. I really did not want to have to check more information boards, walk down and up ramps to change at Flinders Street but that was what I had to do.Worse, the closest information board to find out the next City Loop train in the Degraves Street subway was outside the ticket barriers. By this time I was resignedly trudging along.

The City Loop train arrived at Flinders Street on its way to Alamein. Where did it come from? The Clifton Hill lines that don't go through Richmond? The train yards? I suspect it came through Richmond. Why was I not told at Richmond?

While we were having a spot of lunch in a gutter in Church Street, I suggested R should cross the road to get his free pensioner coffee at McDonalds. His expression looked pained. The store is very convenient to the next door police station.

There was a time when I bought clothing at Dangerfield in Greville Street, Prahran. Now I am too old. The City branch building is very old, next door to what looks newer to me, but also very old Young and Jackson's Hotel.

Some fantastic metal work, flying ducks in Bridge Road, Richmond.

I mentioned a few posts ago that the railway bridge for the St Kilda and Port Melbourne trains closed in, I think 1987, and hence the railway lines closed too. It takes our transport authorities a bit of time to catch up with signage. Platform 11 is no longer used either. This is so not a pretty photo, but I also fear what the tiling might be replaced with.

Monday, May 07, 2012


ANZAC Day, twenty fifth of April, 2012.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Read All About It

While I only ever buy The Age or The Australian, if I can find a copy of the Herald Sun lying around, I am happy to flick through it. The letters page is always a good way to inform yourself of what misguided Abbott supporters are thinking about. Truly great coffee shop reading.

The Herald Sun is part of the now very discredited Murdoch's empire, along with Sydney's Daily Telegraph and innumerable other Australian newspapers.

The Herald Sun is the News International's experimental Australian newspaper to see how online newspapers can make money, apart from intrusive advertising. So, the Herald Sun introduced digital passes to its electric newspaper. To read most stories you are required to sign up for a digital pass, which is free, for the time being but later there will be a charge. Like I don't pay for the Herald Sun, nor will I be paying to read the electric version.

I used to check the electric Herald Sun daily to skim the headlines as there might have been something I wanted to read, but now, I have pretty well stopped going to the website at all. Besides, this seem to work well enough. Copy and paste the story headline into Google and the whole story is there.

Road Courtesy

I suppose it is the English in me that makes me somewhat restrained at times.

To paraphrase Norman Lindsay's marvellous book, A Cousin from Fiji, 'as George passed by in his carriage, he did not look at those he knew. A single finger rose to acknowledge them'.

That is rather like I acknowledge a courtesy given to me on the road.  I may raise my hand, perhaps nod my head, perhaps raise my finger from the steering wheel. That is how we did it in the country......does it matter? I have acknowledged the courtesy.

But this is not how the privileged yet gauche folk from Melbourne's poshest suburbs do it. No, not at all. The car window of the 4WD Audi or 4WD BMW must be down. The driver must put most of their arm out of the car and raise it high salute. If that is insufficient, the raised hand must wave about. Just in case someone has missed it, the hand will be raised again.

All for thanking someone for letting them into the traffic stream, stream being an awkward description, as it is often a non flowing stream.

I am not sure that he started it, but celebrity John Blackman was the first person I really noticed doing this and it was quite a while ago.

Unfortunately this overt gesturing is spreading and now is often used by motorists who travel along a lane blocked by parked cars to barge into a line of patient motorists who are waiting their turn. The arm goes out to thank those who had no choice to let them in, only avoid a a low speed collision. 'Oi mate, you can see I am a really out there and confident guy in an expensive car, so I have the right'.

It is a ugly, loud, very obnoxious and horribly common and I don't like it at all.