Saturday, December 08, 2012

To the Manor Reborn

There is a new show about to start, featuring Penelope Keith, from To the Manor Born. The new show is called The Manor Reborn. It is not a comedy but more a lifestyle show.

I have seen the promotions for the show and Penelope Keith barely looks any older than she did The Good Life or To the Manor Born.

The Good Life dates to 1975 and To the Manor Born dates to 1979.

So how come Penelope Keith doesn't look any older in 2011 that she did back then? Thirty plus years and she has barely aged?

One of my favourite lines in To the Manor Born was from Audrey fforbes-Hamilton, 'Democracy is all very well, but why give it to the people?'

If you are interested, The Daily Express has some information on what she has been doing for the last thirty years.

What to do with your old computer.

This is our old computer. It sits in my wardrobe for an occasion of 'just in case'. We now have a quite decent notebook computer for emergency use. When ABI Brother booked his christmas cruise trip, he did not know that he really needed internet access. He used to have very dodgy DoDo internet access but after his computer broke down, he cancelled. it.

I will give him our old one. I don't advise ever doing this. What you need to do with your old computer is pull out the hard drive and put a big and deep scratch across it. Nevertheless, I cleaned up the hard drive as best as I could. It is a clean machine for him, but it in spite of me removing so many programs, emails, pictures, videos, history and evidence, it is not the fastest machine.

It had not been plugged in for a couple of years and would not start. After much plugging in and unplugging, it did eventually, with a message about a flat CMOS battery. I guess it had to be plugged in for a bit for that thing to charge up, and then it started. The time was wrong and I was not about to go to the effort of connecting it to the net to fix such things, including updating the virus checker. About one and a half hour was spent cleaning it of our stuff, scanning for errors and defragging. Our big machine at home runs on Windows 7, but the old one, uses Windows XP. It is a bit slow and a bit tired but still works. Rather like me, really.

Meanwhile, ABI Brother has signed up with the big company for ADSL in a phone bundle. If he has his new modem by Sunday, we should have it up and running for him quite quickly. Famous last words.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Tram Hunter v Tram Tracker

Tram Hunter is an Android app that was developed by someone who saw the need and it is available for free. It gives real time tram arrival information. It is simple and it works. I can find the arrival time of a tram while I am waiting at a stop in about three or four seconds.

Tram Tracker was released quite a long time ago as an iPhone only app. Only recently has Yarra Trams made an Android version available, way too late in my opinion. While it does more things and can give you more information than Tram Hunter, it is very slow and quite complicated. I demonstrated it to R, who uses Tram Hunter too, and he said, don't bother putting it on my phone. I will stick with Tram Hunter.

Tram Tracker does indicate if a tram is low floored and easy to get on, and if the temperature is over 25 degrees, a snowflake appears next to the arrival time, indicating that the tram has air conditioning. Because I know the tram types in Melbourne, I can tell with Tram Hunter, which displays a stylised picture of the approaching tram, whether the tram has air con.

I think it is great to have all the extra features that Tram Tracker has, but it needs to do the basics, that is what time is the next tram, fast. It does not, so I consider it over engineered and a fail.

Praise to Andy Botting, the person behind Tram Hunter.

Luna Park turns 100

Melbourne's Luna Park has turned 100 years old. Strangely I don't have a photo of the mouth, Mr Moon.

Here is a little trivia from from the City of Port Phillip publication Divercity.

The world's first full length feature film, The Story of the Kelly Gang, was filmed on the site in 1906.

The Great Scenic Railway is the oldest continually operating wooden roller coaster in the world still operating under its original design with a ride on brake operator.

Polish born Rose is a senior and she recounts her first Big Dipper ride at Luna Park at the age of 17 when she went there with a boy.

...we go to the Big Dipper. The boy says it's the best...we slow down, almost stop in mid-air. Then like a whirlwind we descend. Everyone is screaming. I am am frightened and screaming. I hang on to the boy, my arms around his neck. I am holding on tight. Suddenly a warm feeling enfolds my body. It's like I am melting. I realise I am being kissed.

My favourite:

Throughout World War 1, Luna Park added a side-show called Kaiser's Kitchen. Visitors could take their anger out on the German enemy by hurling crockery at an effigy of Kaiser Wilhelm.

Photo from Trip Advisor.

I've been to Luna Park many times.  I have taken my brothers and sister, one older niece, neighbour's children and even to a gay party held there one year. I suppose Little Jo will be the next person I take to Luna Park.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Am I stuffy?

Comedian Matt Parkinson is fill in morning host for Red Symons at ABC Melbourne radio. This morning he spoke to ex Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser's wife Tamie (Tammy) about the death of Dame Elisabeth.

Matt is nearly fifty and Tamara Fraser AO is 78 and I was taken aback when Matt called her by her first name and not Mrs Fraser. Do they know each other? Was it pre-arranged?

Don't think I am great fan of Tamie. The only thing I liked about her was when she criticised the Queen, or rather her staff I guess, after being served a luke warm gin and tonic on board Britannia.

Do you think I am being an old fashioned stuff shirt? 

Photo from the Weekly Times.

Marking the passing of a matriarch

I don't think I have ever heard anyone say anything positive about world media mogul Rupert Murdoch. I don't think I have ever heard anyone say anything negative about his mother, Dame Elisabeth Murdoch. Sydney may well have Lady (Mary) Fairfax, another media mogul widow, but she pales into insignificance next to Melbourne's own Dame Elisabeth.

Dame Elisabeth died last night at her beloved Cruden Farm in Langwarrin at the age of 103. While its very easy for a rich person to give the money away to good causes,  putting in time and effort to the causes shows a very basic decency. Dame Elisabeth certainly did that and was involved with over 100 charities and organisations.

I did have a slight brush with Dame Elisabeth back in 2007, . Huh, I wasn't even aware Elisabeth could be spelt two ways.

Photo from the Herald Sun, one of her son's many newspapers.

I just remarked to R how rich people seem to often live to be quite old. He retorted, it helps if you don't have to worry about paying the bills. Quite so, but some people are rich and have true class.

Post Natal Depression

I don't have a allergy to nuts. I am rather fond of nuts, big ones, small ones, in all their different shapes and sizes. There is nothing quite like having a hand full of nuts and popping them into your mouth.

From what have heard, baby immune systems are not being challenged enough to have resistance to nuts. Nut allergies have developed because children's immune systems are less developed than they were years ago. In spite of me not knowing anyone in my childhood years having a nut allergy, kids now die from their reaction to nuts.

I think society has gone a bit wrong somewhere with child rearing. Bone Doctor told us in no uncertain terms that we were to never give nuts to Little Jo. Now, we can. She does not have a nut allergy.

As I said, there was no such thing as a nut allergy when I was a kid, and nor was there post natal depression. Woman just got on with it, hey.

Or was there?

Tradie Brother was born about 1965. Mother had a difficult pregnancy and birth, using local country medical services. When Sister was born two years later, Mother was in a private wing of The Alfred, (Margaret Coles House?) and things went much better. I wonder who paid for that? Her parents, I guess.

Mother brought Tradie baby home to the farm on a freezing wet day in May. I can clearly remember wet clothes and nappies hanging around the place, all day, every day. Mother was straight back into cooking, cleaning and washing clothes for seven. Then Mother disappeared, and Tradie baby with her.

Father looked after us and he could kind of cook. One night he found a can of Lima Beans in the cupboard and added them to a meal. For a long time after, he ranted about  Lima Beans. Lima Beans became a running joke. It was a bit of a novelty for ABI Brother and I to not have Mother around and for Father to be doing domestic things. We did not mind and cared little for the new nuisance baby. Father is dead, ABI Brother is ABI and doesn't remember childhood things. I am the only one who knows about the running joke of the Lima Beans, except it is no longer a running joke.

Where was Mother and the new baby? She went home to her Mum and Dad for three weeks and returned back to the farm and all was back to normal.

I think it would be now classified as post natal depression, but back then, no such thing was diagnosed. Mother was never the same after that though. She suffered ongoing medical problems, real and some exaggerated.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The interupted electric

Lined up in front of our building and the two associated buildings next door were many vans, perhaps a dozen, with many sparkies (electricians) in attendance. During the morning, a very pleasant young man knocked at the door. Sorry, your electric will be off for an hour.

Oh well, I was prepared for it but an hour without the internet? I will die. I will use the charged up notebook computer. Hmmmm, no. The modem needs the electric. Ok, I will use my phone as the modem, so I did.

An hour later the world righted itself and the Highrise sprang back into life, with only two clocks needing their time corrected.

We now have a smart meter, which does nothing that our old meter did not do for us already. It simply measures the electricity usage, for now. In the future they will be used to rip even more dollars from our pockets for electricity.

As far as I know, within a day, nearly four hundred smart meters had been installed in our and the two adjacent buildings. Impressive! Who's paying for that? Oh, we are, in our electric bills.

 White vans must sell very well in Australia, in fact all over the world.

 They don't look much smarter than the meters that were there, which I believe were already read remotely.

Hot water meters and cold water meters. We pay for our cold water usage and we pay for the gas to heat our water, but not the cold water that is heated. The Body Corporate pays for that water, at a fraction of the price, as is the cost of gas to heat the pool and spa, building area lighting and other building water.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Prepared easy meals

Given R is a bit older than me, there is a chance that one day he might not be around and I might have to cook for myself. I ask questions about what he is cooking. Mostly it all starts with frying onions in a pan. I do actually know how to cook a lamb chop and a steak, and some vegetables. But it is his lasagne and various other pasta dishes, his stir fries, his tuna mornay, and his sweet Indian curry that I would struggle with, never mind presentation of a meal. I am hopeless at that.

I am sure River, who lives alone, has the best of intentions, but things fail for her. (I was supposed to link there to something River wrote, but I have now forgotten what is was. It was a long time ago)

What to do when you are getting on a bit and want nice food? Meals on wheels are not so bad. I am a resident of the expensive to live in City of Port Phillip, and I think our meals on wheels are quite good.

I recently heard of a trial programme with local restaurants joining in with meals on wheels. Instead of having your meal delivered, you can go out to a restaurant and have a meal for the price of a meals on wheels, which I think is about $6. How good is that!

But I am bit surprised as I assumed Meals on Wheels was for people that were pretty well incapable of cooking for themselves and perhaps house bound.

The place where we often have Saturday morning breakfast, in Pran Central, Prahran, seems to do take away evening meals for locals, who may live in nearby high rise housing commission flats. The same cafe owners have been there for twenty years or more. As regular customers, they treat us very well. I have also seen them treat very disadvantaged well, with some extra food put in with what the little the person could afford to buy. I think it is a quite profitable business, but the owners certainly put back.

Mother is very reluctant to cook for herself now. She will occasionally, but too often it is a chicken burger from that Scottish restaurant, or something from Subway or soup from a tin. Hardly surprising she has lost a lot of weight since Step Father died. She may start getting meals on wheels soon. We have planted the seed in her mind, but it may take some time to generate.

Lordy, I wrote this so long ago. Mother is still making her own meals, in a way.

Monday, December 03, 2012


It is twenty years since the first text message was over the mobile phone network. I suppose it was about 1996 when I received my first text message. It came to my first mobile phone. A younger friend who was already into email and the internet sent the message. He was the one who urged me to get a computer and the internet. 'It will change your life'. And it did.

I stared at the screen of my Ericsson 218 with surprise. How does this work then?

Later I enquired of my friend. He sent the text message from a computer. He did not have a mobile phone then. I sold him my 218 for $100 when I bought my next phone. I don't believe the 218 was capable of sending text messages, but maybe it was. I sent my first text message from my next phone, and the rest is now history.

I was the first person I knew to have a mobile phone, car phones excepted. Two friends I clearly recall rejected mobile phones for a long time, yet they went on to embrace them and both now live and die by their mobile phones. Mine is an occasional convenience, used mostly to alert R I am nearly home and to go down stairs and move his car if he needs to leave the next morning before I do. A couple of rings is enough, and he calls back with a couple of rings so that I know he is coming down to move his car.  My phone is mostly a toy to play with.

Just Red

I recall a time ago, Red invited her readers to submit photos they had taken of things Red. While I would have liked to participate, I have very few red photos. However, there is some red about the apartment.

 Yes, we have a number of red vases.

Table runner, apples and tomatoes.

One of my second favourite pieces of glass, not that we have much.

Bright red cushion on a dull colour.

Slightly faded tea towel.

R has a red fitted sheet.


Red gerbera, fake of course, and Buddha has some red in his rainbow chains.

Table protector.

A red mop bucket to catch the drips falling at a rapid rate from the new air conditioner, a tale yet to be told.

My favourite piece of glass is half red.

Red sands hold the candle steady.

The old red torch, along side the new wind up torch.

Red christmas wrapping paper from last year, ready to be used for this year.

Red crate which used to hold Little Jo's toys, until the number of toys exceeded the size of the box.

Last but not least, Little Jo's spare coat in the spare room wardrobe, although I doubt it would fit her now.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Learning the Sydney Electric Trains

An unfinished post. Sydney train types are very complicated, for more so than I initially thought. I went on to do Melbourne's suburban trains instead, which were much easier. Don't take the names below as being correct.

The very reliable Red Rattler which saw service from 1926 until 1993.

 The Tangara, introduced

The Solar Rays

In arguing against the move, the Solar Council of Australia has ranked every electorate in the nation for its penetration of solar panels and solar hot water services.

The figures show that climate advocate Malcolm Turnbull's N.S.W. electorate of Wentworth has the nation's lowest take up of solar panels.

But Julia Gillard's working class electorate of Lalor, in Melbourne's western suburbs scored the Number 2 spot; 25,000 households installed solar PV or hot water systems.

Mortgage belt and marginal seats where families are sensitive to rising electricity prices have embraced solar panels.

But in a case of "do as we say, not as we do", federal electorates with more Greens voters have lower solar panels than anywhere else in the country.

What to make of that? Well, I am green inclined and I can't have a solar panel in or on the Highrise. The roof has been investigated by the Body Corporate Committee for its appropriateness.  Victor, what about you? You are a decent bloke who cares for the environment. Where is your solar panel? Ah, same problem.

The essence is that many Green voters do not have the right property to install solar panels. Even if they do, they possibly rent rather than own, especially given the age demographic of Green voters. The above clip is really a lot of nonsense, but perhaps believed by some who will quickly use to take a potshot at a Green voter.