Saturday, June 23, 2012

Are we tired?

You saw the photo of when the air con installation blokes left with the job unfinished? It was nothing compared to when Little Jo visits.

We'll go to the zoo! No, we will go to the Aquarium, said Little Jo. Again?, we protested.

Little Jo, sorry to inform you, but we are on the bus that takes us to the zoo. Ok, we lied to her. There is no bus from here to the zoo.

We expected she would want brunch at the Scottish fast food restaurant across the road from the Highrise. Nope, she wanted corn flakes and then a home cooked bacon and egg sandwich.  Given we are about to holiday in a Muslim country and will have to eat beef bacon for breakfast, no probs Little Jo. Egg and bacon sandwich it is. We slowed her progress around the aquarium this time and she saw and absorbed a bit more. "Little Jo, look at the stingray!" "Aunty Andrew, it is a mantaray", she corrected me.

Look Little Jo, Walkers doughnuts! Let's eat! R and Andrew, can we have our late lunch at home. I would really like a baguette with some ham and cheese. We bought doughnuts to bring home and went into the nearby Coles for a baguette and some ham.

While we were home consuming our baguettes, I asked Little Jo where they come from. She replied France. A far away look came in her eyes. Andrew, how do people in France say France. I told her. Do you know the capital city of France Little Jo? No. It is Paris. I know Paris. R chipped in, we used to watch a tv show Little Jo, about a dog in Paris. I had to google it later. Gaspard and Lisa apparently. Little Jo, what tall building is in Paris? I don't know. Eiffel Tower Little Jo. Yes, I know it, but Andrew, how do you say Eiffel Tower in France? I don't know Little Jo. I should ask Grace. You know hello in French Little Jo? She did, and goodbye and thank you. Unbidden, and I can count to four, and she did in French. Please, she has only just grasped the English of which floor we live on.

Did I mention one of her mothers is a school teacher? We were home from the aquarium by two. Craft and tv and then out to the nearby Little Sandy Desert to fire rockets into the air. By the time Bone Doctor returned from her morning lecture and her doctoring at a football match, Little Jo had her comfort blanket wrapped around her, the one we bought her when she was just born. Where did that five years go?

Disclaimer. We can only dress Little Jo in what Sister sends with her. I must have a word with Sister about what she sends up with Little Jo.

Mon Oncle

Owing to the popularity of my last Jacques Tati clip from Monsieur Hulot's Holiday, here a couple of clips from Mon Oncle that are supposed to illustrate the absurdity of modern life, in the 1950s.

Jacques Tati plays M. Hulot and M. Hulot occasionally visits his sister in her modern house, Villa Arpel. He is very out of place. The first clip is where M Hulot lives and the second where his sister lives. Oh, ok, I will be away for a bit, so I will add another, where M Hulot struggles with his sister's modern kitchen. Have your sound on but don't trouble if the sound is out of sync. Sound was important in Mon Oncle. Understanding what was said never was.

Click here to see the Paris Centquatre art centre recreation of Villa Arpel.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Floods in Koo Wee Rup

I heard someone on the radio this morning suggest that that the many new housing estates in the Pakenham area all drain into a channel and travels to the sea via Koo Wee Rup and this is the reason Koo Wee Rup has flooded. KWR area has a history of flooding as the land is reclaimed swamp. The woman's theory sounded plausible. I investigated.

Melbourne Water has useful information. Residents of KWR and a decent part of the surrounding area pay a special rate to MW to fund drainage and maintenance. The area is known as the Koo Wee Rup and Longwarry Flood Protection District. If a picture can tell a thousand words, a map can tell you even more. This link takes you to a PDF map showing the KWRLFPD with rivers, creeks and drains.

As you can see, the new estates of Pakenham drain into Toomuc Creek which then drains with other waterways into a direct drain to the sea which is a fair distance from any town. I can only conclude that the flooding of KWR is nothing to do with the new Pakenham estates, much as I would like to be critical of the new estates for having a lack of infrastructure.

It seems the flooding is coming from the South East Main Drain, its major river input coming from the Bunyip River with many other natural waterways and constructed drains pouring in as well, with little drainage from any new housing estates. It is not a bad idea to query about flooding before you but a house built on an old swamp, and there are many of them.

Ok, so I can't blame the new housing estates in Pakenham, but I don't think the government can be let off lightly as local residents are complaining about the lack of maintenance and clearing of the drains around KWR. Ah, that would be what they are paying the special levy to the KWRLFPD for.

Another government department has not been performing well either. I point you to the Vic Roads web site map of road closures. It was hopelessly behind this morning but does seem to have caught up now. If a major highway such as the South Gippsland Highway is closed, it should be immediately shown on the map as it happens.

At last we have nice warm

Dirty looking old thing that no longer works. I have cleaned it at least twice a year over the last almost ten years, but I suspect the grime just gets right in and plastic does tend to yellow with age. When it broke down, it was due for a clean.

Poor R, after being told it would be Monday, then Tuesday, both times cancelled as the unit wasn't available, finally at 4pm Wednesday the tradies arrived with the new unit. Of course what could go wrong, did go wrong. The copper pipes to the external unit needed replacing to a larger size, instead of just the old ones being cleaned. They left at 7pm and this was the scene we were left with.

We Will Return, were their words, for two hours to finish. See ya at 7.30 in the morn.

In a magic moment last week, R spoke to Mother and offered to take her out today, Thursday. Now taking Mother out is a tiring thing to do and not for the faint hearted. 

It was also the day to return doggie Jack to his mistress. Have I mentioned our hot water problems? Satuday, Monday, Tuesday and today, the hot water boilers have failed and it has been tepid morning showers. Not so bad for me who gets up early and gets hot water, but a bugger for R who has been getting up later. But even I did not get hot water this morning. And on this most busy and stressful day, it poured rain, from morning to night. Mother must have picked up the nuance. She is quite clever at such things. She entertained R with her chatter as he carted her from shop to shop, to lunch at Maccas.

R was going to drop Jack off to his abode on his way to Mother's but he forgot the key, so he had to come home after such a full on day to get the key to Jack home. Mother enjoyed meeting Jack.

I am trying to forget what this new unit is costing us, but by golly it is good. Ten years of air con advancement, I should think so.

But things are not quite finished yet. One of the blades is not sitting squarely and it offends the eye. The fascia has to be replaced. Bigger pipes and huge lagging needs a new cover. R confiscated rang the bloke to tell him he had forgotten his trolley. We will deal with it all when we return from hols. 

In spite of having dog Jack here, I could probably describe our week as being shit, and made it rather hard to focus on our holiday.

As for work, well, I don't talk about it here or elsewhere, but the adage that your last week of work before holidays is always the worst, holds true.

R said to me before I left for work this morning that he was thinking of the over the balcony option. I smiled and said, see ya hon, good luck.

I would never do the over the balcony quick and clean. I like to torture myself with life.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The poor need one armed bandits

A hotel we are known to frequent occasionally is the Dick Whittington in Chapel Street St Kilda. The staff are fantastic and the rest that goes with the hotel is ok. It has poker machines too.

Just around the corner is the garage where I have had my car serviced, off and on, for thirty odd years. Buildings behind the garage were demolished for a new development, and then for a long time it was just a vacant block of very convenient land that the garage opened up a fence for car storage.

We noticed a construction was going up on the vacant land. Ohhh, housing for the poor, no doubt much of it being paid out of my rates. Surely money for housing the poor should come from our State and Federal governments and not City of Port Phillip rate payers.

While there has long been a high rise for the poor block not too far from the Dick Whittington, this new one is quite a large development.

The Dick Whittington has applied to have more poker machines and I believe they received approval for them. Funnily, it in our capitalist society, I don't blame the hotel for trying to increase their profits.

However, one can't help but see the connection between new public housing right opposite the hotel and more poker machines.

As someone who has on more than one occasion wasted five dollars in the one armed bandits that are now speedily electronic to extract maximum dollars from you at maximum speed, I had a fairly benign view of poker machines. They were something for me to waste five dollars in, with a possible promise of riches. As for our other gambling vice that we spend $5 each a week upon, Tattslotto, neither has made us rich.

We go to Crown Casino occasionally to dine. I see so many people with miserable expressions on their faces as they gamble away their money. Shouldn't recreation be happy?

In spite of my recent praise of our ex premier Joan Kirner, sadly she was instrumental in bringing poker machines to Victoria.

I'd reckon if you asked her, she would say it was a mistake. What was my fairly benign view of poker machines has now become hatred. Legalised many extra forms of gambling has done some terrible things to our city and state. How could the introduction of all this gambling make for a better society? We should have just stuck to the TAB, which is bad enough for some, and some illegal backrooms.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Doing the block

Doing the block could be promenading along Elizabeth Street, left into Collins, left into Swanston and left into Bourke Street and left back into Elizabeth Street, if you turn the clock back to 1900 and you were wearing crinoline. You might divert via a shortcut through The Block Arcade or Royal Arcade.

Doing your block could be could be where you give your computer tower a swift kick in anger when the mother board conflicts with the hard drive and the sodding machine stops working.

But we did The Block in Dorcas Street, South Melbourne. No, we weren't one of those idiots among the 20,000 who tried to see inside the four houses. We checked it out the weekend before, just from the outside.

R has developed a marvellous technique for watching the renovation show The Block every night. Each night he records it and on Saturday or Sunday he spends about one and a half hours zapping through the week's worth of shows, killing the ads and the boring bits. Sunday night we both watch for the scoring and presentations of whatever they have done during the week.

While I thought the location was very close to us, Dorcas Street being a ten minute walk away, The Block is at the other end of Dorcas Street.  We decided to take the motor and have a check out.

The Block houses are four two storey joined but individual houses. Much to our surprise, the area was a flooded with curious onlookers, only there like us to take a look at the outside. One enterprising and somewhat hot Daddy popped his daughter up onto his shoulders with a camera in her hand to take snaps of a backyard over a fence.

The area was quite fine, with well maintained houses, most of them on the grand or at least the half decent side. We were seeing a lot of properties in the streets worth well over a million dollars.

 The eastern end house balcony. I never saw the space being utilised and it looks delightful for watching street goings on. Ok, I am one for sitting on a balcony and watching street goings on.

The back of the two eastern end houses. The left most fence panel blocks off what was a lane to access the properties from the rear with a car. That may have been a mistake to block it off.

I suppose they came and went all day. Why would people want to go to look at the exteriors of four unassuming houses....ah, yes, well. Jayne, note the chimneys. They are gorgeous. I cannot say the same for the roof. It was quite jarring against the chimneys.

There are prettier places in South Melbourne, like this one.

I don't where else in greater Melbourne than South Melbourne that still has a green 'walk' and a red 'don't walk'. Normally it is a red or green human figure.

You could call this a bastardised house, but it is quite well done.

The Star and Garter Hotel is almost opposite The Block houses but it is not what it used to be. Info RH? Might you have sipped a shandy there?

This very odd house sits on what would have the western end of the lane behind The Block houses. It is impossible to date beyond it being twentieth century.

This looking at The Block houses is hard work. We needed coffee. As sunny as it looks, the seats were in the shade and it was a tad chilly.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Meet Jack

No, there is not something I haven't told you.

Jack is staying with us for a few days while his Mum, our friend, deals with her matters. Jack is such a well behaved dog, much better than any of ours ever were. He only needs to go outside for natural purposes twice a day.

As R is not working and I am, Jack has bonded well with R and they go for long walks. While Jack is content to sit and watch, he loves a rough game too.

Jack had a previous owner who could not longer keep him as she was suffering from a severe long term illness, so our friend took over Jack. We were there at the tearful handover some years ago and once the old owner left, our friend said that she did not like his name. R said, call him Jack, and Jack he became.

Before anyone asks his breed, I only know the Latinish/Euro name, Canine Alba de Fluffy.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Gamble Responsibly

I never found Let's Beat Bowel Cancer particularly nice in the Kings Domain flower bed, especially not when HRH was visiting. I mean like, well, does she have one? Surely not.

I found Gamble Responsibly even less tasteful. Messages are best being along the lines of Lest We Forget, City of Melbourne or perhaps Love Your Parks. Thankfully the bed has been cleared now, and I await the next hopefully much more tasteful slogan.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Up the platform and down dale

While they are not bad now, railway station announcements used to be quite unintelligible in Melbourne. Often it was because of the announcers strong accent, but not always. The point is illustrated that it may have been a world wide problem, if you check out this clip from Monsieur Hulot's Holiday.

I was recently reminded of the scene by a friend who did a bit of up and down platform running at Flinders Street Station. Very M. Hulot, said the other friend.

Have you done the up platform, down platform dash to catch a train after a poor announcement or staff advice?