Saturday, March 02, 2013

First World Problem #92

Cast your mind back to March 2012 when the Grand Pricks was underway in Melbourne and my bedroom was flooded by a burst pipe in the ensuite of the apartment above. It was stress we did not need. I ended up buying a new bed, and R, not to be left out, bought one too.

Water running down through my bedroom fan/light meant it had to be replaced, and it was. Someone paid, but not us.

My new fan looks the same as my old one, but it is not and here is why. From turn off at medium speed, all things being equal, here are the times to absolute rotation stop.

Guest bedroom, 1 minute and 21 seconds.

R's bedroom, 1 minute, 40 seconds.

My bedroom, 31 seconds.

I am not happy Jan. I like my bedroom appliances to be well greased and lubricated and they should spin free and easily. Clearly while it is newer, it will probably fail first, but given the reliability of fans, that might be after I am dead. R's fan wobbles terribly at high speed. I am sure it is well secured and it was clearly the winner in the free spinning stakes.

In other less important news, our friend in Japan has departed and is home. What a trouble free guest she was. Of course I have to say that as she reads my blog. Damn, I was going to set up the tripod and work out the timer on the camera and taken a threesome photo of us. Slipped my mind. She left us with some gifts, a bottle of Scotch, some wine, some yoghurt, some healthy muesli bars and some upmarket breakfast cereal.

We delayed our spring clean until February. We have put in some really hard yards to have the place looking nice for overseas visitors. Of course, no one notices clean, but they do notice dirty. Our abode may be modestly furnished and the carpet may be worn, but at the moment, it is as spotless as it can be.

As I am writing this, 9.20 pm, R has fallen asleep on the couch. He has to be up in a few hours to collect his sister and brother in law from the airport, at 2.05am. What a shame I am working tomorrow and I can't be of help.

Off to bed now, with earplugs in my ears. Geordie voices in the early hours of the morning are not to my taste. It will take me a day or so to tune into their accents.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Ice calving

No, no silly. It is not global warming. Lord Mr Monckton will have a perfectly logical explanation, using statistics chosen by his very good self.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

I know nuffin!

Senator Arthur Sinodinos seemed to have an attack of the Rumsfelds at the New South Wales anti corruption investigation when he proclaimed that he did not know what he did not know.

Can it be possibly true that Eddie Obeid pulled all the strings in New South Wales for many years and Bob Carr was the last NSW premier who actually ruled? Did Carr even rule? Can it be possibly true that there was massive corruption under Obeid's delegated rule?

The Rum Rebellion and it hasn't stopped since.

Eurostar, Paris and a squirrel

Bleary eyed, at five o'clock in the morning, we walked along Sussex Gardens from our Paddington hotel to Lancaster Gate Railway Station. We were on a tour, with a coach to collect us and take us to St Pancras Station where we would catch the Eurostar to Paris.

Knowing what I know now, we would not have bothered with the coach and just caught the Tube to Kings Cross, the station next to St Pancras. Instead of waiting for about half an hour for the coach after we returned from Paris, we would have certainly caught the Tube back to our hotel.

Paris? Magical. Eurostar? Brilliant, although not as good as Japan's Shinkansen.

But you know what I remember so vividly from the day? It was seeing my first squirrel in Sussex Gardens in the early hours of the morning. I was inwardly so excited, outwardly still and silent, unsuccessfully hoping to not disturb it. It was a great start to the day.

I found my photo of the squirrel, but I could not actually see it in the photo. Maybe digital photos fade too? Our friend from Japan who is staying with us looked at the photo too, and nor could she see it. My squirrel photo appears to be only a tree in a garden bed. There could be a bird in the photo though, startled by a squirrel running up a tree.

I recall it was a red squirrel. From what I read here, the squirrel must have been there somewhere in the photo. Never mind. This is an Acme Company generic squirrel photo. Cute, hey.

Later edit: It has been pointed out to me that red squirrels are not to be found in London, so no doubt it was a grey squirrel. Maybe cuter still.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Metro Apologises

I suppose it happens in other Australian cities, train lines disrupted. It seems to happen very often in Melbourne. Often there is a statement from the appropriate public transport company that buses are replacing trains on whatever train line that has failed.

Invariably there are complaints from passengers that the replacement bus service does not not turn up, or the number of buses that turn up to replace a train is inadequate. Passengers are justifiably very annoyed, but should they really be annoyed about an insufficient bus replacement?

Off peak maybe it is not so bad, but what are the logistics of getting buses to replace trains at short notice at peak times? I don't know but here are some thoughts.

There must be spare buses. No, I shouldn't think so. Not in peak time. Why would a private bus company have buses sitting around depreciating and not being used? There are also standing costs of having buses, such as registration and maintenance whether they are used or not. It would be irresponsible to the bus company shareholders to be so profligate. Perhaps there are buses scheduled for maintenance that could be deferred, or I would imagine each bus company would have a couple of spare buses of their own to cover their own emergencies that could be used. But how many buses are needed to replace a train that might have 800 people on it and then do this again ten minutes later and then ten minutes later again? The answer can only be many.

What about drivers to drive the possible spare buses? They are sitting around in the bus depot in peak times and getting paid for doing nothing? Most unlikely. I expect drivers who are not at work are called at home and offered overtime. Some may say yes, some may so no and I hardly think they can be ordered to work overtime, let alone at such short notice.

I can only draw one conclusion. If a train line goes wrong and you hear that there is a bus replacement service, make alternative arrangements, as there is no way a replacement bus service can offer anywhere near a satisfactory replacement service unless the problem lasts more than a day, and even then it could not really offer anything like a normal train service.

As Daniel Bowen has suggested in the past, if you have a local bus service, work out your alternatives before something goes wrong with your train service.

So if a replacement bus service can never be satisfactory, what should be of the highest priority is to ensure train lines don't go wrong. It may be that the media is faster and more comprehensive, not necessarily more accurate, with reports of train problems, but to me it feels like the train service is deteriorating, so far as disruptions go.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I am a repairman

Oh dear, how I had been set up to fail. About three years ago R bought Mother a new upright vacuum cleaner. For a while she continued to use the smaller rechargeable one her friend had bought her, but in time she grew to like the cleaner R bought for her. The machine's dust container is a little tricky to empty. Even smart Tradie Brother kept getting its reassembly wrong. I think he needs reading spectacles. About a month ago when I last visited Mother, I emptied the container and put it back together properly and mentioned to Mother that Tradie Brother had not been putting it back correctly. Mother passed this on to Tradie Brother quickly enough, and he agreed that he had not put the dust container back in the absolute correct position.

Score over Tradie Brother.

Two days after emptying the vacuum clearner, Mother rang. There is something wrong with the vacuum cleaner. It is very noisy, not cleaning properly and cuts out after ten minutes, then restarts after five minutes.

Full of self doubt, I ran through my mind, did I really reassemble it correctly? Did I put the filter in the wrong way. Self doubt gave way to analysing. I knew what the problem was. It was so obvious to me. Friday past was the first opportunity I have had to visit Mother and have a look.

In the meantime, Mother's male friend has looked at the vacuum cleaner, as has ABI Brother, Tradie Brother and Sister. Each time, Mother said, don't worry, Andrew will fix it. What a responsibility. The day before my visit to Mother's R said, you better take your mother to the shops and buy her a new machine. There is a light weight Hoover upright rechargeable being advertised on tv. I was non committal. Just let me look at her old one first.

Mother's only helpful remark was that the thing doesn't spin around anymore. Mother, it is only dust swirling around in the dust container.

The night before I told R, it is perfectly logical. The motor has not worn out in three years. Electric motors are wonderful nowadays and they last forever. There is a blockage in the cleaner, a more serious one than when a toy of Little Jo's became stuck in the machine. The air is not flowing through the machine properly and the motor is overheating and a safety cut off is switching the motor off until it cools down.

Mother was continuing to use the machine, vacuuming until it overheated and then finishing the clean once it cooled down and restarted. It was so noisy, she was putting cotton wool in her ears.

I pulled this part apart, and it was blocked with dust. I pulled another part apart and it was blocked with dust. The dust has spilled all over the carpet. Mother, get a wire coathanger to cut up and I can shape it to a hook to burrow down. Sorry Andrew, I don't have any wire hangers. They mark the clothes. Mother, they only mark the clothes when the clothes hang on them for years. I poked around in the shed and found some wire. No joy. Mother finally found a painted wire hanger, but too late.

These two screws hold a flexible tube in place. I will undo them. Wish I had brought a torch. Mother? Amazingly she produced a Dolphin torch. Yes, more clogged dust found. The whole machine is clogged with dust and I am now scratching around in its innards with a piece of wire. Andrew, stop, I told myself as I sat among multiple piles of dust pulled from various orifices. Think. Right, the air passes through here into this tube, up this tube, and then.............. the handle part. Look, two more screws. I can take the handle off. Ok, the electric lead goes in there. The air flows through this opening, up into the handle and then into the dust container. What is that black thing that is not sitting nicely? I quickly worked out that it was a cover for the electrical connection and had dislodged and been sucked up into and blocked the air passage in the lower part of the handle. I dug with a screwdriver and extracted it and with a the sharp rap of a screwdriver handle, tapped it back into place. I reassembled all the bits, with none left over and................the machine worked.

"Look Andrew, that thing is spinning again, just like it used to." I did not remind her that it was swirling dust.

I got off lightly. Mother was so grateful, I only had to take her for lunch, visit ABI's place for five minutes to tell him the Gmail reply button is at the bottom of the page and that I don't know about T Box and I don't want to learn, and go to two chemists.

I expect by now Mother has bragged to all and sundry about how son number one, Andrew, fixed the vacuum cleaner.

To me, it was just a logical process. But do believe, I was very pleased that I did fix it, as such weight had been placed on my ability to fix it.

A couple of days before, Mother sent the clipping in the post.

Monday, February 25, 2013

By Design

Last year Sister held a successful Tupperware party. If you don't know what these are, you invite friends for drinks and nibbles and sell them plastic things and the host of the party gets a commission back from Tupperware. Sister asked if we wanted anything and R suggested a couple of food containers. We received them eventually and Sister said don't worry about the money. The party must have been successful.

When I say plastic things, they are mostly containers and kitchen aids. They are very well made and last many years.  We have a Tupperware lettuce container and celery container that must be twenty five years old. They are also beautifully designed. Here is one of the two food containers.

The small handles don't get overly hot and make it easy to remove from the microwave. A sensible easy to use lid handle makes for simple removal lid removal.

The container is principally for reheating food. You don't have to loosen the lid or cover the bowl with plastic wrap. You just remove the soft rubber grommet. 

The grommet lifts up, and you pull it out by the tab, and into the microwave the bowl goes.

See the little vent holes around the main hole. Even if you forget to remove the grommet, the pressure with blow it upwards as above and the steam will be released.

The bowl itself is made of hard plastic with a textured inside, which means it won't show scratches. Naturally, all three components can go into the dishwasher.

I would call it a very well designed bowl for storing and reheating food. Good design is a wonderful thing. Here is a plug for the usually interesting programme By Design, presented by Fenella Kernebone each Wednesday on ABC Radio National.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

A passing tram

Ah Sydney, the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and Sydney Harbour. Once you have seen them, you may as well come to Melbourne for a good time and some culture.

I am gay. Your point is?

There are a couple of commenters who pop up on my blog at times who clearly have an issue with me being a gay male. They seem to find some things that I write about of interest, yet they can't get past me being gay. Frankly, I do not understand why they bother reading what I write. I come as a complete package, gay, interested in life matters, buildings and architecture, public transport, cars, nature, tech stuffs, history, photography, people watching and a little bit of kultcha.

When I was a kid, my brother and myself carved roads into hard dirt for our Matchbox toys to travel along. We battered our Tonka toys into each others, denting my model Holden EJ wagon and his EH sedan. We shot frogs in the dam with our air rifle. I tried to shoot my brother with the air rifle, but that was a fail and I only shot a hole through a window. We climbed to the absolute tops of trees. I drove the farm tractor at a very young age, when it was not needed, along bush tracks day after day, exploring and always with a dog riding with me as my companion.

What a butch kid I was.

Yet I shall never forget the stony and embarrassed look on my mother's face when at the age of about six I said in front of her friends as I stood beside the fridge, "I am Peggy, and I am putting on my wedding dress". A modern parent might have immediately judged her son as being potentially gay. I don't know what my mother thought and I doubt I will ever ask her. Sorry Mother, for embarrassing you in front of your friends. I was showing off, but very inappropriately.

Mrs Woog's son is only a young kid, but I do see a potential gay. Thankfully Mrs Woog is a modern and accepting parent. Her son will be a well adjusted whether he is just effeminate, a stage he is passing through, straight, or gay.

Clearly the writing was on the wall when Shannon was a kid, but what understanding parents.

Myself, Mrs Woog's son and Shannon all exhibited some feminine behaviour when we were young. It is no surprise that I turned out to be gay, nor Shannon and I doubt Mrs Woog will be surprised if her son turns out to be be gay.

What does really surprise me is that there are a whole lot of gay blokes out there who were not like us, or only a little bit like us.

Out there in the world is a whole lot of different people. There are gay men who have never behaved in any sort of effeminate manner. There are truly straight guys who have no issue with gay guys or dykes because they are confident in their straightness. There are straight guys who just wonder. There are straight guys who do more than just wonder, and there seems to be rather a lot of them. While I don't know Shannon aside from his blog, I expect he found his sexuality at a young age, as did I. We could be described as confident gay men, but there is only one thing we are confident in, our sexuality.  Otherwise we are as frail as everyone else.

For the record, it was one time I showed interest in dresses, although I do recall giving Mother fashion advice at times. Generally  I liked doing more boy things, but I read a lot, and I am not sure that reading as a kid back then was such a boy thing. Who really cares. Your children need your love, more than anything else in the world. Pray to god that there are more Mrs Woogs around and not too many mothers around like Tess Corbett.