Saturday, April 27, 2013

I crossed the Yarra

Crossing the Yarra is a meaningful expression to Melburnians. Once the Yarra River was somewhat of a social divide, but much less so now. If you restrict your view to the inner areas, I see it more as the interesting and artistic people live on the north side, and the boring, self indulgent and comfortable middle class on the south side. It is massive generalisation, but it may paint a mental picture for you. Yes, I live on the south side.

I had two errands for the day, one in Prahran, one in North Melbourne. The quickest was to travel between the two was by two trains. I was a reasonably regularly train traveller when we lived in Balaclava and some ten years later, I cannot believe the numbers of people using trains on the Sandringham line in the middle of the day. I did get a seat, but there weren't many spare. Too many people Missy.

At Prahran Station they have made another opening on the outbound platform, rather than everyone using the one through the building opening. Presumably the old exit was too narrow for the numbers now using the station, perhaps slowed down by slow Myki readers.

A bit of a safety message for the kiddies at Flinders Street Station. The train from Prahran was on time, as was the Broady Craigieburn train.

North Melbourne Station has undergone a redevelopment. It seems quite functional, and that is about the best that can be said about it. London's St Pancras, it isn't.

I hung around a bit to watch a couple of trains come and go. North Melbourne is a busy station with both changing passengers and trains. It does not get so many passengers from the surrounding area, but a frequent and well used bus service connecting it to Royal Melbourne Hospital and Melbourne University means many people arrive and leave from the station. I am looking back towards the city.

Here comes a VLocity train on its on its way to the bush, well a large regional town.

Same, same, but different. Which colour scheme do you prefer?

A quiet carriage. How sensible, if people are quiet in the quiet carriage. First class for the same price by another name? It would be nice to not have to mix with the noisy scum who ought to be the non quiet carriage. Perhaps an old retired librarian could be employed to make shush noises and glare at noise offenders over the top of his or her spectacles.

I am not so keen on VLocity trains. You are well aware when travelling that you have throbbing diesel engines under you, or somewhere close by. As Australian trains go, they are quite fast, although I don't know how fast. They are limited to 160 km/h, 100 in the old money.

Pulling into the station was a proper train. I believe it is an N Class locomotive, hauling carriages. Although around thirty years old, the ride in the carriages is whisper quiet and very smooth. Well they were some fifteen years ago when I last travelled on one. The VLocity next to it is long, , maybe seven bits to it, so I would guess it is a Geelong train.

It had been a bad morning on Melbourne's trains with signal failures on the south eastern side of town. Why is the VLocity not departing at its scheduled time? Then came the announcement, All trains will be delayed due to a signal failure at South Kensignton, tailed by one of the most annoying and affected announcements ever, We apologise for any inconvenience caused.  I don't know if it grammatically correct or not but it is ugly use of language which I think Australia may have picked up from Britain. I think South Kensington is an important place for signals but not for passengers, as I am sure only one train a day stops there, and never one I have been on. It is no more than a bus shelter on a platform.

I walked on to Errol Street in North Melbourne. Look at this old building remade and reused. What heresy. They could have had eight storeys of apartments there, housing a couple of hundred people. There are plenty of old buildings in North Melbourne that could be redeveloped to house at least a third that number without resorting to a cheap, maximise developer profit, multi storey development.

This is not graffiti. It is art and a reproduction of the woman on our Red Head match boxes. Pity the cars were in the way.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Reader will go poof!

My home page on my desk top computer is the weather bureau's rain radar page. My home page on my laptop is Google. On the desk top I have frequently visited sites on the bookmark toolbar. That is how I get to Google Reader to read what you have written. If I want to comment, I will click on either your blog title or the post title and the same goes if I want to see your blog site for whatever reason, but otherwise, I will read what you have written and see the photos in Google Reader.

I don't have the laptop set up the same way.  With Google as my homepage, I click on a drop down box and there is the link to reader, well there was. It has vamoosed and I guess that is because Google Reader is closing down.

I not only use Google Reader for blog feeds, but also for podcast notifications. A new podcast is released from whatever I have subscribed to, and it is there in Reader, with a link to download the podcast. ITunes sucks.

What to do with Google Reader closing down? I looked at some recommendations, one being the very popular Feedly. It was very simple to import my feeds but it felt very alien, even after I fiddled with settings and it has stuck an icon up on right of my browser. I will decide who sticks icons on my country browser.

I had to do some convoluted stuff, but without resorting to instructions (see, I am a real man and never ask directions), I managed to import my feeds into Old Reader and I am much more comfortable with Old Reader. It is more like Google Reader.......ah, that is because that is what it is based on. It even imported my folders from Google Reader.

If you are used to Google Reader, then I think Old Reader might be the one for you.

Later: Someone tweeted about a replacement for Google Reader, and this post was just sitting there for a time when I was short of something to write.  There was no rush as Google Reader is not closing until mid year, but given someone was wondering, I have now published it.

If mine is the only blog you read, you don't need a reader. I thank you for your dedication, or do I just fill you with lust. If you read three blogs, you still don't need a reader. If you read a decent number of blogs, a reader makes it much much easier.


This is an interesting and short animation about making London's Oxford Circus more pedestrian friendly, safer and efficient. In essence, the busy intersection is made simpler after being decluttered.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Digger Day Again

Digger Day has rolled around again. I alternate from sadness for wasted lives and feeling a little disturbed that Anzac Day has become far too big and all encompassing for its own good. While when it was in danger of dying off, which I never wanted to happen, when extreme feminists and anti war protesters tried to upset the day, which I did not approve of, I hoped it would survive until at least the last of the WWII diggers died. But no, it has become bigger than Ben Hur and getting bigger.

What are the authorities up to by not allowing the returned from Afghanistan soldiers to wear their medals if they march? Very curious.

I don't known whether to be proud or ashamed, but so far as I know, none of my relatives, dead or alive ever fought in a war, right back to the Boer War. Btw, if you want a quick history of the Boer War, do read Hels illuminating post. You might call it The Boer War for Dummies, but it is good quick read. There may have been some relatives of mine who I may not know about, but I have never heard of one killed during war or suffering from war injuries. My father did National Service at Puckapunyal  and was eligible for the Korean War, but no. Also curious, but I think many of them did not go to war because many were market gardeners, perhaps a protected species.

There are a good number of Australians who were not born here or their parents weren't, and I would not expect them to have strong feelings about the day. I hope they are content to know that it is a kind of special day for us multi generational Australians and be tolerant of the closed shops and us shedding a tear or two.

Oh, not so some Moslems.

Hizb ut Tahrir, banned in many countries but not Australia, says government requests for Islamic schools to note Anzac day is an unacceptable imposition of foreign values and history.

I would not expect Moslem schools to bang on about Anzac Day, but an explanations to the students of what the day is about might be nice, and helpful. Anyway, it un Australian to argue against a public holiday. A public holiday is just that. A day off for workers and school kids, or in my case, double time and a half. 
And how is this, to quote? Imposition of foreign values and history? We, Australia, are imposing on Australian Moslems foreign values and history? I am speechless, but not typeless. We are not asking you to celebrate. We don't, even if that goes a bit against what I said earlier. We are commemorating those lost in wars, and personally I use the day to commemorate all those lost in the wars we have fought and the futility of ones we have fought in. 
For all the Moslems who quite like Australia and our values, you really need to get a tosser like him under control and maybe he needs to have a good hard think about his mistake in choosing which country he wanted to live in. 
Australian values being foreign values in Australia indeed. Honestly, I am not a bad person, but the older I get the more I get to dislike Moslems without good reason, because of him and idiots like him and idiots in Canada, Boston, London. Ok, I will tone it down. I hate religious extremists of all kinds.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Just too many people

While I am passionately pro public transport and when I retire from work, I hope to never have to drive a car again. I also want a clear road when I  go to work. I have been driving to work along Dandenong Road between Chapel Street and Wattletree Road since about 1993, firstly from Balaclava and now The Highrise. In 1993 I may have very occasionally and silently fumed about traffic lights. In 2013, I fume about the amount of traffic, the traffic lights and idiot drivers. More so the idiot drivers. Naturally, as you would expect, I am a perfect driver.

Over three or more decades I have observed the decline in driving standards. Yet, I will say our roads and drivers are safer than ever. How does that work?

I used to see dangerous driving; speeding, erratic swerving, seriously bad and dangerous driving. Now, all I see is incompetent driving. I am blocked by excessively slow drivers. I am blocked by drivers playing on the phones while sitting at traffic lights. People cross over three lanes because they have just seen where they want to turn, never mind that they should have known they were going to have to turn. Lane discipline has fallen apart, with people wandering over lane lines to their left or right, never mind the people who like two lanes to turn left and seem unable to steer their car into a single turning lane.

I have heard that in Italy, cars move like they are linked together by a steel rod. That is, one car moves, the following one moves. A whole block of cars all move forward simultaneously.

Here in Melbourne, cars seem to be linked by rubber bands. The first car moves forward, the slack in the rubber band is taken up and then the band stretches, and then the next car moves forward, which pulls on the rubber band linked to the car behind which also eventually moves forward, assuming the person was not restraining the rubber band by playing on their phone with their foot on the brake. And then for no apparent reason, someone will brake and destroy any kind of operational but less than perfect symmetry that is underway.

A bit along the way, someone will spy an old bloke in a wheelchair who has turned towards the kerb to check if his taxi is coming. The driver will think he wants to cross the road and slam on their brakes and bring umpteen cars to a stop that were travelling 60 km/h. The bloke in the wheelchair will not notice, as his peers up the road for his taxi. 

In some ways, I believe in a bigger population in the inner suburbs. I actually think that has been achieved and there is no need to add even more people to my area of the inner suburbs.What is odd is that inner burbs are easy living and you don't need a car. There is wonderful public transport at your door.

Yet Melbourne is being swamped by cars and car traffic congestion is terrible. Our roads can't cope with the increase in traffic. Our public transport can't cope with the increase in the number of passengers. Yet still our governments bring more and more people in.

I am starting to get a bit angry. Our governments either need to stop people coming to Melbourne to live, or borrow huge amounts of money to invest in infrastructure to cope with the numbers. My living standards are declining, through appalling overcrowding of public transport and even worse crowding on our roads. It is so simple. There are too many people in Melbourne for the services we have.

We are about to hit a population figure of 23 million. A new person is being added to Australia every 1 minute 23 seconds if you do the adding and substracting, and most of them are immigrants. Our services can't cope with the present number of people. Why on earth are we adding even more people?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sorted at last

We went on a spending spree in town today. Well, we thought we might. We came home with hair product for me, $7, and a dvd reduced from $50 to $8, and the information in the dvd is not something I could not have found out from Diane and Bill's U3A camera club.

Firstly we needed brunch and found an ok place with ok prices in Centre Place after walking along Degraves Street. Someone has told tourists that this is a good place to go for Sunday brunch and go they do. It was packed.

We went to Domayne to look at tv cabinets, coffee table and side tables  and a bedroom side table for R. While there we checked out in Harvey Norman hotplates, washer/dryers, range hoods, mini sound systems and fridges. We were serious about a tv cabinet but there was nothing suitable.

We went to the small hardware shop in Russell Street, closed.

Our phone shop called us last week. Our contracts are about to expire. Are we happy with our plans? Do we want new phones. Happy with plans, but want new phones. The lass was not talking turkey. Boss man will call me tomorrow, but given we were wanting Samsung Galaxy 3 a couple of weeks before 4 is released, we see no rush. Next day: He called and only offered a few dollars off. We shall wait.

We need a coffee top up and where else but in QV. 

I know of another hardware shop, near where McEwans was in Bourke Street. R checked at the spectacle shop nearby to find out if his new contact lens supply had arrived. I checked the now closed hardware shop which referred us to the closed hardware shop in Russell Street. I can't believe the City can't support one small and expensive hardware shop. I think I have seen another down Spencer Street way, but we were tired of town.

Home and R asked if he should take his shoes off. No, we going to the big tin shed hardware store in Port Melbourne. We bought the screws we needed, and had a sausage from the stall. Not sure how old the bread was, but the sausage was tastier than last week's at HN in Moorabbin. Whatever, we got the right sized screws at the big tin shed hardware shop and the replacement base has a reinforcing rib to keep it square to the mounting points.

I like the word denouement, but it would be wrongly used here I think, however, you get the idea.

Hi Sam.
We put up the new base today and it works fine. I will post the old one back tomorrow (pre addressed and prepaid package).
While it was annoying that the vac would not wall mount and we were put to some inconvenience, at least you have quickly remedied the problem, so thank you. That is good customer service.
Best wishes,

Monday, April 22, 2013

Adieu Chrissy

Sunday mornings in the eighties and the nineties, if I wasn't working or had a lot to do, would see me in front of the tv watching music video clips. Ah, the eighties, when I liked music.

In the latter part of the noughties, I transferred videotaped music clips to dvds for my future wallowing in nostalgia. One of clips was Chrissy Amplette's, It's a Fine Line Between Pleasure and Pain. It is indeed a fine line, in all walks of life. I really liked her. She seemed to be intelligent, refined and yet wild, wicked and exotic. What a wonderful combination, and I am very saddened to hear she died today at the young age of 53.  I think I have known nearly as many women who have died from breast cancer than I know gay men who have died from AIDS. Breast cancer really is a bitch.

Adieu Chrissy. You were fab.

But is it art? #372

While I don't mind some street art, I detest graffiti. My first impressions of Paris as we entered on Eurostar was the appalling graffiti lining the railway line. Worse, it was in French and I could not read it, like I can read local graffiti, not. I have noticed even the lovely picturesque Lisbon is spoilt by graffiti.

In spite of the City of Phillip offering a free graffiti removal service, people can't even be bothered to use it. Perhaps as soon as it was removed, more would be added. I walked no more than a few steps to take these photos in Balaclava. Ugly work by ugly people.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

America with black humour

Fertiliser going up like a Hindu widow, in Texas? Is the lovely Dina ok? Yes, nowhere near her. She is in Texas but not in West. Which company put that fertiliser production plant in the middle of town surrounded by houses? Oh, reminds me of something of I once heard. Who put this tram depot in the middle of a busy and congested area with shops. In the former, the plant was built first and somebody approved houses around a fertiliser production plant. Do I see developer money involved?

In the latter, the Malvern Tram Depot was there first and Malvern grew around it.

I am nearly old and not so smart, but Chechnya and Czechoslovakia are two very different places, with the latter no longer existing.  I can't believe people can confuse the two.

Some poor bloke had the cops shoot up his boat in a Boston suburb. He now has a leaking boat and holes to patch up, along with some nasty dark red stains on the same to clean off. Fishing for him will be off for a bit and it will take time for him to fix his boat, perhaps six months, and who would want to spend six months in a leaky boat?

If you can make any better sense of the week that has passed in the US, feel free to to say so in comments.

Sunday Selections

River often has a theme to her Sunday Selections. I don't think mine ever has. There are couple of 'best ever' photos here, such as this balloon that sailed by the Highrise.

Why were old inner city fire stations abandoned? There are probably many reasons, but a principal one was that the trucks became too big to fit through the doors. Many have been saved and reinvented, a wonderful thing to do. I have no idea where I was when I took this photo.

Some panes of glass were being replaced at the building next door. If it is not bad enough having a satellite dish pointing at us, what is the box that is plugged into the power outlet?

Another best ever, a night photo of either a cruise ship, or the Spirit of Tasmania. The strips of light on the right are from the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre.

The Walker Fountain in the Kings Domain. Ron Walker is a prat, but the fountain, which I think he paid for, is nice enough.

It's been a long time since we have seen a temperature like this in the Highrise. Air con cooling to heating in one week.

Arcadia is just fifteen minutes walk from the Highrise at the corner of Punt and Toorak Roads, yet we have never been there. Very tempting. I am susceptible to targeted local advertising, but nearly half a kilo of steak sounds a bit excessive.