Saturday, June 02, 2012


Guess what has happened?

Yep, air con has failed. We have no heat. It is now almost ten years old. It failed twice in the winter of 2006 with a damp circuit board in the outside part of the unit. I wonder if it is the same problem. The second failure was repaired without cost to us.

R wanted to get rid of the fan heaters we bought to warm us in 2006. I insisted we keep them. He is glad we did now. The vertical one is ceramic, whatever that is. It takes a long time to heat up but is much cheaper to run.

They do actually warm the living area reasonably well, but I also remember the killer electric bill in 2006. What they don't do is warm the whole place. We are keeping the spare bedroom door closed, the bedroom nearest the living area, but it also where the clothes airer is, and so the washing is not drying well at all. I will need to use the clothes dryer.

I think it was about 2008 when the remote control failed and we had to buy a new one. Fortunately you can still use the air con without a remote. If you switch it on at the unit itself, it will go to either maximum heat or maximum cool. Switch it off and on again to change from one to other. But that is no help when you have error codes UA, U1 and U4.

Now R is not working, at least is not the hassle for one of us to be available for when a service person comes, but they can't come until next Thursday.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Prosepctive Indolence

R was slowly preparing for retirement. He was pre-empted after a disagreement with a superior who he accused of being rude to him. His fellow workers backed him, yet he was called in to see the CEO who suggested his heart was no longer in the job (possibly true) and that there might be a redundancy package on offer for him. R is a dinosaur. He has worked the same job for a couple of decades. He will readily agree that he is not with the 'modern methods'. He just does his caring, supportive and training job as he has always done. This is possibly why his clients are so fond of him, nay, adore him. He is a constant in many of their lives. He doesn't succumb to their varied moods. He treats them all equally, with firmness, fairness and fondness. R does his job well, as he has always done. But for historical reasons, he doesn't come cheap. He is paid more than his co-workers who do the same job. In fact he is paid more than his immediate superior.

And so, he is negotiating a settlement package. If the organisation he works for wants rid of him when he does his job well, then it must pay.

He is worried about not having enough money to retire, a few years before he is of old age pension time. Naturally no one likes being told they are no longer wanted. That must hurt. In spite of me urging him to not worry about money, as I earn enough to pay some of our bills on my own, he stands by that he has never taken anything from anyone and is not about to start. This is quite true. We have never shared money and never had the benefits that married or de facto couples receive. If Social Security tell him that I must support him, they can whistle Dixie.

There have been many conversations about his prospective retirement, but eventually I said to him, I don't think you are quite ready to retire. He agreed, and will try to find an easy to do part time job after finishes up at where he now works.

So, just into the new financial year, R will finish up full time work where he has worked for twenty years and the organisation's humble beginning. It will be a momentous financial and personal change in our lives.

Edit: A couple of weeks after I wrote that post and decided that it might not be wise to post it, things moved on rapidly.  As of this afternoon R will have finished up full time work after succumbing to subtle management bullying and a decent financial incentive to leave.

This is rather a life changing event for both of us.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hot or not

This photo is from one of those Walmart emails, that is the scary people who shop in the US Walmart stores. You must have seen them. We receive an email every so often with a new lot of photos of Walmart customers. One person commented about  this woman's Moe from the Three Stooges haircut. Should she be among the scary Walmart people? What would she look like if she had not created 'a look'?

She would probably look like fat faced, grey haired old lady who no one would take any notice of.

I see people like her on the street and I think, well at least you are making an effort. You are not going to excite a twenty year old lad or lass with that look, but you will get noticed, be it in a good or bad way.

For mine, I reckon she might be an interesting person to talk to. I bet she has some tales.

Was I drunk? Was he handsome? And did my Ma give me hell.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Catching the slow train

I do have a life, truly. But I have spent the last couple of hours half watching tv while looking at our state's country railway operator, V Line. I spent quite a bit of time perusing this map which tells you all about Victoria's railway lines. What a mess. You can guess that the major freight only lines are in such poor condition that they are not fit for passenger service. There are broad gauge lines and standard gauge lines and dual gauge lines and while there is an historical logic to them, I can only repeat, what a mess.

Victoria's trains were mostly broad gauge while adjoining states New South Wales and South Australia were mostly standard gauge.

I looked at Dunolly because Jayne visits there often and does not have a train to catch to there, even though a railway line passes through Dunolly. The passenger train ceases at Maryborough. Dunolly is on the line to Mildura, however only freight trains run through. If Jayne is tempted to jump a freight train, she has the choice of standard gauge or broad gauge train.  Long have we heard politicians promise to restore the train to Mildura, but it doesn't happen and given the distance, I am not sure that money would be spent wisely on such a long rail route, as nice as it would be. If it t'were to be done, then it should be done properly with a very high speed train and so be an obvious choice for any traveller.

It takes three hours to drive from Melbourne to Albury on an excellent freeway for the whole distance. You will be speed limited at various places to 80 km/h to 100 to 120. Albury is on the main train line between Melbourne and Sydney and the border town between Victoria and New South Wales. So how long do you think the train that travels from Melbourne to Sydney to get to Albury take? It only makes two stops along the way.

Three hours and twenty minutes. This is unbelievable. It is a train on Australia's major intercapital route and stops only twice. It could surely travel at 160 km/h once clear of the city. Add to that the time it will take you to get so Southern Cross Station and the time to your destination in Albury, well, trains are clearly for people who can't afford a car or have the luxury of time.

That is if the train runs. Co-incidently Adaptive Radiation caught the train to Albury at the weekend and it was substituted by a bus. They had paid for first class tickets. Do they get a refund? (They did after requesting it)

Of course it is not Victoria's problem. Oh no, our Victorian 'high speed' train is run by New South Wales Country Link.

Over fifty years later the Geelong to Melbourne train takes much the same time as it always has, in spite of innumerable upgrades and modern trains. I'd bet steam trains did nearly as well. It seems the millions of dollars spent on the regional rail link won't speed up the Geelong train. It might even take longer, but much less likely to be delayed because it will be separated from the suburban system.

Really, our country and interstate trains are absolutely pathetic. It must be because we are a third world country and we can't afford to run decent long distance train services.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Long has she reigned on us

Melbourne is really getting into the spirit of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

Victoria is really getting into the spirit of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

Australia is really getting into the spirit of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

Hmm, I haven't convinced you have I, and nor am I convinced, however I did check out the modest City Gallery exhibition called Royal Melbourne.
 City Gallery windows. The space is shared with a cheap event ticket vendor.

 If this portrait painted for the Queen's Golden Jubilee is accurate, she doesn't pluck her eyebrows.

 The old Princes Bridge with arches to welcome a visiting Royal.

 There was quite a lot of embroidery on the walls.

Interestingly, the exhibition was curated by Robyn Annear of A City Lost and Found fame.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Just another Sunday

It should have been so simple. Sister would go to the footy, Bone Doctor to a family afternoon party with Little Jo, meet back here and leave Little Jo with us while they went off to a university reunion bash at Notting Hill. We would take Little Jo out with us to join friends for dinner in a pub, which would not take long and then home for Little Jo to curl up in bed with R and go to sleep.

Even when I arrived home from work, I thought this is how it would all proceed. The idea was for Sister to leave her car with the child seat for us to use, and she and Bone Doctor take R's car out.

Oh no, it was free drinks at the reunion and Sister had a better plan worked out, better for them.

We drive them to Notting Hill and then we keep the car to go for dinner and they get a cab home. Notting Hill? Where is that? Mount Waverley or somewhere like that. That is a Sunday drive distance for us. Well, we did it and it was only five past the meeting time when we met up with our friends at the pub. Or course what they will do is suss out who is coming back in this direction and cadge a lift. Haha, if they do actually have to pay for cab. (It turned out to be booked maxi taxis out of remaining reunion funds booked for the direction of St Kilda) In the dark and with intermittent rain and driving a strange car with manual gears, I did exceptionally well. I surprised myself as my familiarity with changing gears came back to me. I was even starting to remember what to do when decelerating before traffic lights.

Our friendly gay wait staff person was at the hotel, off duty and dining with his 'friend' and a mate on the table next to us.  He is a YRQ, as opposed to an ORQ. Understand? No, I didn't think so. The YRQ could not have been SR. That is impossible. The guy is certainly an unlikely RQ. The title RQ refers white guys or like Asian guys. Can you work out what SR is then?

A slightly too loud football match was being broadcast on the tv screen above us. Our off duty gay YRQ wait staff who was clearly out for a night of enjoyment leant over to Little Jo and asked which football team she liked. Doggies, replied Little Jo and then she added and Hawthorn, Sister's team, and Essendon, Bone Doctor's team. What about Collingwood?, he asked. Little Jo at her age of 4 and 3/4 had the perfectly rehearsed reply. 'Collingwood? Wash you mouth out.' I can guess it just a remark she has overheard, but it was so perfectly placed.

"Would you like another glass of wine Andrew?", someone asked. I had drunk two already. "Only if R drives home". So with much revving and clutch slipping of Sister's car, and my back seat advice about what gear the car should be in, R drove us home from the pub.

R and Little Jo snuggled into bed ready to watch a dvd, except the dual dvd vcr machine failed to proceed. Little Jo waited patiently as two old men pointed controls at things, pushed many buttons and uplugged and plugged in wires.

Fortunately the lounge room system has a connected dvd player. The remote no longer works and you just shine a torch onto the panel buttons and press away to get it going.  You don't have any advanced control features on the panel of the dvd player, but there are stop, play and eject buttons. What you say? I could buy a new one for $50? We never watch dvds. I should spend $50 just so Little Jo can have a working machine to watch a dvd? Preposterous.

By 10.30 I had the other dvd/vcr in pieces while I extracted a tape that would not eject. I only lost one screw, which I found later when I trod on it. Ouch. Is it not the worst thing to lose a screw and days later hear a metallic rattle up the vacuum cleaner tube. You ask yourself, is the screw essential? Do I need to cut open the cleaner bag and make a terrible mess? Most of the time the answer is no.

It was a late night and none of us woke until eight in the morning. It has taken a long time but Little Jo has finally worked out that Nanny's restaurant has another name, McDonalds. Little Jo wanted brunch at that place. Bone Doctor has refused to take her there and Sister only does because Mother likes it, hence Nanny's restaurant. Bone Doctor gave up and so we trooped across the road and had an ok breakfast. I didn't buy coffee and by the feedback from the three who did, I made a wise decision.

We then went for a decent walk in Fawkner Park and discovered a feature we did not know about. Photos in another post, as this is quite long enough. Little Jo had a play at the playground and we watched some lads playing cricket. The bowler, South Asian, was throwing the ball fearsomely hard.

As I have said to Mother, would you like another cup of tea before you go? I exclaimed, tell me in it not really 12 o'clock and half the day has gone. They departed the High Rise just after noon.  Lovely to see them, but nice to have peace once more. Meanwhile, I appear to have mud in the treads of shoes. Yuk, won't do at all. I picked it out with a finger nail file and flushed it.

Update of family matters:

Oldest Niece is at Sis in Law's business in Gippsland, helping out. Apparently it is cold there. Snow even. I worry about the slope on Sis in Law's roof. Will snow slide off it?

Non Dreaded Nephew's car has blown up and is somewhere on the side of a road between the Mornington Penisula and Gippsland, but that won't stop him taking his father, Tradie Brother, to see Prince on Thursday night.

Chainsaw niece has smashed up her non insured car and written it off. She is very lucky she wasn't hurt. That sounds so simple but it was quite a drama.

Tradie Brother turned the wrong side of 45 and put on his own party. Thankfully he did not invite us. Jim Beam at noon is not our style.

Oh yes, one more thing. Bone Doctor was flashing around her new Ipad, which she did not actually pay for. We were impressed. It is just a smart phone though, with a bigger screen. Medical profession corruption, I cried, as I am wont to do. Not quite, she said.  She bought her own defib machine to have in her car in case she ever needs it. To her surprise, she received the Ipad as a gift.

I am so thoroughly sick of hearing about Angry Birds in the media. What is it? Bone Doctor, show me Angry Birds on your new doctor payola IPad machine. Ok, hmm, ok, right, it is computer game where you shoot something at something. How interesting. Yawn.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A vehicular bump

Oh dear. I do hope Jane and Lance were sitting safely in a warm cafe. Budapest tram: 1 Budapest lorry: 0

Black and Proud

I heard some reportage today about Nickie Winmar. My eyes filled with tears as I remembered. It was 1993, so we had just moved to Balaclava. Winmar played for the St Kidla football team and St Kilda was playing against Collingwood and Collingwood supporters were lambasting Windmar with racial abuse because he was Aboriginal. Eventually Winmar pulled up his footy jumper and pointed to his chest, indicating he had Aboriginal skin colour. The rest is history, but in a summary, if you abuse your fellow team mates, or if you are a supporter bent on abuse, then you better phrase it like, your head looks like melon. You are a poofta or your mother has been done by the entire football team might also be acceptable.

I heard a joke today. Has PM Gillard switched her allegiance from Footscray to Collingwood by setting up a public dental health system? Too cruel. I was on a rail substitute bus once coming into town from the north with many Collingwood supporters and I noted that they did have some teeth, albeit the numbers and spacings weren't crash hot.

But all is fair in sport, or is it?

In 1991 Collingwood captain and player Tony Shaw stated that he would use racial abuse in every game if it would help Collingwood win the match.

While Winmar had brought about awareness, it was not until 1995 that a heavy AFL foot came stomping down on racial abuse.

In 1995 Collingwood player Damien Monkhorst racially abused Essendon Aboriginal player Michael Long. Action was taken by the AFL but even mediation did not sort the matter out. Long was left angry and bitter.

It wasn't until player Michael McClean stated to a media outlet that Aboriginal players would start naming and shaming players who racially abused them, that the AFL drew up a code of conduct.

Does racial abuse still happen on the footy field? Yes, as it did last year when Footscray player Justin Sherman racially abused Gold Coast Suns player Joel Wilkinson. However, it is much reduced and has become generally  unacceptable. Even spectators are generally careful about what they call out, although there was appalling abuse last year in Tasmania, successfully dealt with.

Good on those who stood up for themselves and the fellow indigenous players and their team mates who stood up for them, but as a symbolic act, Winmar pointing to his bare black skin was unbeatable.