Saturday, December 29, 2012

Three minutes from the Highrise

The sun is setting and the clouds are pink. Mount Dandenong has a pink hue.

Closer to home, a couple towing suitcases and with a map in hand disappear behind a tree, to never reappear.

A tram passes. The driver rings his bell, needlessly. The road is quiet.

A jogger in a pink top and black stretch pants passes a fellow jogger of the opposite sex, he dressed in a green fluoro top and black shorts. Did they acknowledge each other? Did their dedication to fitness connect them?

Two obvious gay guys leave Subway, with their foot longs in hand.

Our neighbour is walking his dog. Benito has stopped to do his business on gravel surrounding a tree. Our neighbour seems to be struggling to find a pick up bag in his jacket.

The man across the road has left his pot plant watering hose spread over his balcony in a most untidy manner.

His neighbours behind and lower have bought new bright orange and white sunlounges.

The red light camera flashes; someone won't be having a great end of 2012.

Three minutes of my balcony life and I did not think about sex.

It could not last. The rich gay guy who lives below the one with messy garden hose has a new beau, much younger than him and he has punk looks, a most attractive lad from a distance. How much is he paying him? Punk guy seems to topping up the dog water bowls.

You should be pleased you don't have me as a neighbour.

This is 702 ABC Sydney broadcasting to Melbourne

"The switching nightmare goes on. 774 digital broadcasting 702. Andrew."

After twenty minutes of listening to ABC Sydney on ABC Melbourne digital, and checking that AM was broadcasting ABC Melbourne, I thought enough is enough and I sent the above text to ABC Melbourne. Fifteen seconds later the big scissor switch was pulled down and locked into place and once again ABC Melbourne was coming through the speakers.

I thought whoever is responsible might have done better this year with all the switching to and from national local to local local that our ABC does at this time of the year, but I think it has been worse than ever.

I recall the late Kerry Packer calling into his own tv station, Channel 9, and telling them 'to get that shit off the air', referring to a comedy programme and it was pulled straight away. At least he was watching his own tv station. Doesn't ABC radio management listen to their own station on digital radio? It took me to alert them of the wrong station being broadcast.

Now, if you are interested, I can give you the today's weather forecast for all major New South Wales towns? No? How about this morning's traffic conditions around Sydney?

Myki Madness Day

While it was electric The Age, I really thought I was reading the Herald Sun by the standards of the comments in an article about Myki. After comment 170 was posted, comments were closed. My god, were so many so idiotic. Take this one for instance.

We have friends from overseas coming to Oz soon who will be relying on PT for transport. When I explained MYKI to them, they won't be coming to Melb - we'll go interstate to also have a break and spend time with them.

What a great friend they are to their overseas visitors. Why not buy them Mykis ready for them when they arrive? As if such a thing would put off holiday makers.

We had planned to buy two Myki public transport cards for R's sister and bro-in-law to use when they visit us in March. Plenty of time yet. Then, sitting on a seat in Fitzroy Street, I saw two Myki cards. I picked them up and there weren't any details on them about an owner, meaning they were not registered and probably not worth handing in. I was hoping there would be a some decent credit on them and I would check before deciding what to do with them. I eventually did and -.28c and -$2.40. Damn. Obviously dumped by tourists after the tickets last use. You can go into the negative with Myki but have to be in credit to use them again. I topped them up enough to be in credit and they will do nicely for our overseas visitors. Wait, we have another visitor to the Highrise before March. Our friend in Japan will he here. She can use one as she does not already have a Myki. Yes, we now have spare Mykis ready for the use of overseas or interstate guests.

What about this one? Not sure what it had to do with Myki. People do like to vent.

What annoys me is when there are 7 ticket inspectors on the trama and no body stops the young madam who dumpied her large handbag on the floor in the doorway for other commuters to trip over. If a passenger breaks their leg because they tripped over the handbag dumped on the floor can they sue Public Transport Victoria?
We were passing Victorian Institute for the Blind aka Vision Australia at the time

Seven ticket inspectors on a tram? I have never seen such a thing. I think if someone tripped over the 'dumpied' handbag, they should sue themselves for their own carelessness. Blind people are usually very alert to such obstacles, especially on a tram, which at times can be a sea of school bags. They have to put them somewhere.

After topping up my myki and going to the city there is still money left in my account, which the myki people take out after 90 days. 

Ah, Daniel's bete noire. Myki does not take the money out after 90 days. It is 180 days, and if you die without a will, the government will take all your money after selling up your property, and the world is going to end on January the first.

My smart card will not "die" if I do not use it for 3 months (as I believe is the case with myki cards)

I wonder what sort of smart card this person has? Clearly not a card that makes them smart. No, Myki does not die after three months. Its death is much more lingering, like four years, and your balance remains for your new card.

Today you will no longer be able to use a Metcard on Melbourne's public transport. It is Myki or nothing. An interesting thing I heard is that fare evasion on trams has dropped substantially over the past year while we have had two different ticket systems.

I have seen a few ticket systems come and go and there is always a fuss when the change happens, then it all settles down until the government comes up with a new system. I have no reason to believe that this change will be any different, although I must say, I have never seen a ticket system change that cost anything like this one has.

Friday, December 28, 2012

I ought not be suspicious

R and I agreed this year that we would not buy each other a christmas gift, mainly because neither could think of anything for the other. I did end up buying him a battery powered robot fish to swim around when he is having a bath. I rather like it myself and we gave it a try out in the kitchen sink.

But what did R do? He bought me an electric book reader. I know little about them and he knew even less. It is a Kindle and it is tied to Amazon for buying electric books. I was desperate to read a book on it, and so I did actually pay $10 for one, but I can't imagine I will be doing that too often. Kindle uses a different file format to most other readers, so when I snaffle some free books from somewhere, I will probably have to convert the files.

What I find amazing is how quickly I am getting through a book when using the Kindle. I am also very impressed with how readable the screen is. Even in direct sunlight, the text is bright and crystal clear. Apparently it uses E-Ink, or is that E-Paper? Maybe both. I don't think it is an expensive model, but it is all I need for putting a toe in the water. In the past I think I may have stated that I prefer a proper book. Now I am not so sure.

But Christmas Day brought forth a puzzlement. Among the usual gifts, Sister and Bone Doctor, instead of spending maybe $30 each for a gift for R and myself, bought us tickets to see Jersey Boys. I could not believe they spent so much money on us, like a total of $290. What are they up to? Or were they feeling guilty that I had not seen Little Jo for so long? R has seen her more recently.

Hulot Friday

When two tribes go to war

Le poisson et le chien

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Bush Snr or Mandela?

I am taking bets. Who will go first?

The one who so many right thinking people abhor, George Bush Senior?

Or the one so many right thinking people admire and respect, Nelson Mandela?

I expect we know which direction each will head once they are dead. One down and the other one up. No prize for that guess.

Juat another CMas Day

We did not host christmas day this year. It is a while since we have done it. It is a while since we have done anything here. Our aim as we age is to reduce stress, and we not doing badly at that at all. Don't come and all will be well.

There was the usual, 'who is doing christmas this year?' R volunteered, but Mother wasn't keen. Bless her.

First niece suggested if no one would, she would do it at her place in Sommerville. Later she changed to doing it at Tradie's Brother's house, her dad, at Langwarrin. Then second niece was enlisted to help.

Between them, they got it together and even though meat was carted from Tooradin to Langwarrin to Sommerville and back to Langwarrin, being cooked  a little bit in each place along the way, it was a great christmas dinner. Sister made the christmas pud, and they came across on the very expensive ferry from The Bellarine.

We were comprised of R and myself, Sister, Bone Doctor and Little Jo, oldest niece who's partner was at his own family gathering, middle niece and her Kiwi partner and his best friend who had no where to go for christmas, Tradie Brother of course, Mother and ABI Brother, and non dreaded nephew. It was just so wonderful for us to be all together, but missing ex Sis in Law.

Nephew, just been employed by DSE as a firefighter. First niece, by June she will be a qualified teacher. Second niece, just gained a permanent position with the local council as a looker after of council parks etc. She is about to get a truck driving license.

Third niece, Little Jo, held 200 people entranced by her performance at the kindergarten break up. She starts school next year and as charming and clever is she is now, I miss my old somewhat younger Little Jo.  We saw her on dvd performing at the breakup.

 "Come and look at the South American Sunflowers". I'd never heard of such a variety and the flowers were huge. I should have known better. As I inspected them more closely out came a sign, Made in China Dickhead.
 Tradie Brother's freshest tree, the branch of a eucalypt.

 Ah, another Camera Face in the making.

 Dead christmas tree. "It lasted three weeks," said Brother. "But not until christmas," said I.

 First niece has a dog about eight months old. It decided the chooks needed rounding up. One took refuge inside the house. I walked into the kitchen and it was standing on the bench. I was asked to bring it out. I did try, but it was impossible. Brother took some wheat in and coaxed it out.

 I am not a great one for prawns. Too much hard work, so I left my share for someone else. "Where did you get them Sister?" I was sure Sister was going to say, "We just picked them up from a fisherman on the jetty before catching the ferry". But Little Jo was fast, "We bought them at Coles supermarket yesterday".

 Santa hangs on a guy wire and slides back and forth in the wind. To much amusement, I grabbed a rake and gave him a whack. "It is not Pinata?", I queried.

 Tradie Brother has trained the chooks to walk the plank.

 As you can see, they have names.

 Tradie Brother has been raiding hard rubbish collections left on nature strips. Nearly every gift he gave this year was second hand, but there were some good ones.

The bathroom renovation is into year three, with no sign of completion.

Well, that is christmas done for another year.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Thank you to Victor to steering me to the BBC's Witness programme podcasts. It speaks of modern history, in a digestible twelve minute bite.

I remember a term from the past, cheat sheet, which was for broadcasters who had to interview someone and they had not boned up on the subject. The broadcaster read the cheat sheet which was a summary of salient points about the person and or their work.

That is essentially what Witness is. I am Australian and I should know about the bodyline cricket incidents, but as I am not really interested in cricket, I did not know exactly what it was about. From a twelve minute podcast, I had a good grasp of the overall.

This is a cracker, among many to listen to, Dusty Springfield touring South Africa. Ah, I do actually know about it already, but it will be worth listening to.

Of course this is just a supplement to the many wonderful ABC podcasts I download and listen to.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Twenty five, twelve, twenty twelve

Frosty has appeared at christmas for nigh on three decades. He has witnessed rather a lot of ageing, hatches, matches and despatches along with much joy and laughter. Frosty just goes on year after year, watching with silent approval.

 Is Melbourne ever going to put on a light displays like Sydney does?

 This is not a bad start.

 But it does really cost. Apparently computer programmers don't come cheaply.

Diane once asked for photos of Melbourne Town Hall and this is not perhaps how she imagined I would respond, but it is our town hall.

If you ever get the chance, you can take a free tour of our town hall and having done it twice, I recommend the tour.

This year's City Square christmas tree is more modest than a rather awful bigger and more solid tree that cost so much to erect and looked pretty ordinary.

Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim workmates never complain but a Jewish neighbour recently complained to me how tired she was of being wished merry christmas. Yet another Jewish workmate was telling me about the christmas presents he had bought for his grandchildren. Our Hindu friend celebrates christmas, though of course not the religious aspect. Go figure. Did I hear that Sydney's Lakemba Mosque issued instructions to followers to not wish merry christmas to christians? I'll remember that next eid.

This is secular Australia and my blog is all encompassing, and so to some, Merry Christmas to you and to others, Compliments of the Season. Regardless, pour yourself a glass and put your feet up.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Another christmas and more crap

Mother really excels at christmas with her gift giving. I tell her to not worry about presents, save the money, except for Little Jo. She takes no notice. I don't know how many gifts she has given us that are just inappropriate for us. Does she not notice we don't have dark stained timber around the the Highrise? Why would she give us dark timber photo frames, or a repro polished timber barometer? What about a traditional cut crystal vase, among our modern glass. If I did not take the hint with the second family history album, I am not likely to do much with the third.

NB The lovely Ann O'dyne taught me how to do a family tree. You stick sheets of wrapping paper together and write on the back. It is the only way to get anything big enough to contain all the links that shoot off into the far distance. You can add sheets in any direction.

Sister once gave us a lettuce spinner, to dry lettuce. I am not aware of us ever serving her wet lettuce. It remained unused and appeared at some time in one of Mother's garage sales, right in front of Sister's eyes. If anyone asks what we want for christmas, I suggest a bottle of something nice.

I best not spoil christmas with my whinging and moaning. Some really nice things happen at christmas and mail deliveries are just fabulous. Best is when hand made cards arrive.  

A friend's dog. We have not seen the friend for many years, even though he lives within an hour's drive. We holidayed with him to New Zealand in the early eighties. He was going to come to R's significant birthday a couple of years ago, but sent last minute apologies. He is gay, as his brother who he lives with. We met the brother once and he was a lovely and quite attractive guy. What a shame he is a recidivist offender of a very serious and distasteful crime. Our friend watches him very closely and so far, so good.

Just gorgeous and you can colour associate back to the blog owner.

 Naive art? I like it a lot. There is quite a story behind the art.

One from overseas. I will make the most of the new year by using the key. What wonderful positive words adorn the card.

Not related to christmas, but I won a prize! A virginal Metcard, in a wallet and signed by an ex VIP at the PTUA. What do ex VIP's do? Get a life? Like all high achievers, they have a life too. The prize was not a prize per se, but a charity auction item. Red Cross seems to be unaffiliated to religion and while at times their administration costs can be called into question, they always seem to be there when help is needed and via the associated Red Crescent, they offer help everywhere. Metcards have been part of Melbourne's public transport system for quite a number of years, but they will disappear on the 29th of December, replaced by Myki stored value cards. I wish I had kept old tram and train tickets, but I have this time.

You can guess I am trying to wrap up christmas related things. Bakers Delight mince pies, $6.60. Ordinary with thick pastry and a lot air space inside with little filling. Brumbys, better at $9.90 with better pastry and a delicious filling, but not enough of it. Browns Bakery, $17.50 for open pies, full of fantastic filling and very nice pastry. You get what you pay for. I will make my own next year. Sis in Law's late mother had an excellent recipe. Please don't remind me in early December about making mince pies and I don't want to hear about you local bakery that makes excellent mince pies and sells them quite cheaply.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sunday Selections

Today is Sunday, or as I sometimes know it, River's Sunday Selection Day. Here are a few random photos.

We took refuge from the christmas crowds in Bourke Street Mall to a quieter part of Bourke Street.

 Looking skyward in Bourke Street Mall. The dangling bell shapes light up at night.

Manny is visiting from Malaysia again and brought us this fantastic calendar. The only problem is we don't have a wall big enough to put it on. The prints inside are so beautiful, they could be framed. Err, the dates are in English.

'What's that awful smell?' It was graffiti artists at work, off Bourke Street Mall. It was the paint and not them that smelt. If you like a meaty rear, there is one for you delectation.

My father had an HR Holden. Tailights aside, it did not look very much like this.

The sun rises in the east over the Dandenongs and the eastern suburbs. Is that a con trail? Is the government dropping gas on us to make us work harder and complain less? (You think I would have learnt my lesson about mentioning such things after the fluoride post)

And the sun sets in the west, over Port Phillip Bay. Well, we hope so. This is a scheduled post composed before the end of the world last Friday. If you are reading this now, everything is probably ok. Keep calm and carry on.