Saturday, June 29, 2013

Embarrassing your children

I don't have children, but I will do the best I can to embarrass my nieces and nephews. It is the senior's duty to embarrass their family youngers, just like their parents did before them.

Father used to embarrass me by his clothing, when Mother had not dressed him. He had not a clue about how to look smart and would wear his farm clothes to town. He also embarrassed me by his whistling, to announce his arrival at someone's place, unannounced. He did not knock on the front door, but went to the back door, whistling along the way to announce his arrival.

For god's sake Dad, can't you just knock on the front door? But I loved him dearly when we walking in the bush and he was singing, 'If I was a rich man.' He was clever and I thought he would be wealthy one day. We kids had to pay for his funeral.

Mother did her fair share of embarrassing her oldest son. She still does, but as she is so old now, no one takes any notice. At the top of her voice in the street, 'this is my son and he....'. Mother always talked too loudly in public and was way too out there for me. She drew attention to herself, and to me unwanted attention. Mrs Woog, are you taking notice? As a smart dresser in a country town with clothing bought in Melbourne, Mother always stood out and had a huge presence anywhere she was.  I recall the day my drunk father threw out the front door all of Mother's 62 pairs of shoes into the garden and then I saw something that children should not see.

Almost inexcusable, but he may have once again caught Mother up to fun with his brother.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Roll up, roll up, for your last ride

Sydney's monorail inspires both love and hatred and it seems the haters have won. The last public rides will be on the thirtieth of June, this Sunday, and it will then be dismantled with little prospect of seeing operation again. As useful public transport, it was a miserable failure. As a tourist attraction, it worked well enough. As an attractive addition to Sydney's Street, it was ghastly.

I have been on it more times than I care to remember, usually to get to Darling Harbour or the Chinese Gardens, but sometimes just within the city. The first issue is it only goes one way. Fine if you want to go one way, but if you want to go back one station, you are forced to do almost a full circuit Wikipedia tells me a circuit takes 12 minutes. I don't believe that at all, or maybe it just seems to take forever. Apparently it is actually 15 minutes.

At times there were paper tickets to travel, other times tokens had to be bought and the last time I rode it, I paid at a vending machine.

Most of what is below is from the Sydney Morning Herald.

The late Nobel Laureate Patrick White hated it and campaigned vigorously against its construction - ''one of many autocratic farces perpetuated by the powerful on our citizens,'' in his words.

Who else of note campaigned against it? Well, quite a few, magazine publisher Ita Buttrose, actor Ruth Cracknell, unionist and Green Ban activist Jack Mundy, architect Harry Seidler and even Nick Greiner who went on to become State Premier some years later. 

An alternative to the construction of the monorail was a light rail system connecting Circular Quay with Central (station) via Darling Harbour. The light rail was supported by he National Trust, environmental groups and public transport advocates, along with the then State Planning and Environment Minister, Bob Carr, now Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs. Whether that would have been particularly useful as public transport is unknown to me, but it would have been better than the monorail Sydney ended up with.

So in spite of strong expert advice against the monorail, Sit Peter Abels' company TNT, a good friend to the ruling Labor Party at the time, was awarded the construction contract by Minister for Public Works, Laurie Brereton. 

The monorail never had the numbers of traveller predicted and did not return a profit on the capital invested. The State Government bought it from an investment company last year and is now closing it down. Suddenly it has become popular and bookings are needed on the last rides.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

In print, on the air and now on tv

Therese is nothing if not tenacious. Since the untimely death of her husband she has fought against the system that killed her husband. They are strong words and allegations to make, especially against the might of the New South Wales Health Department and Sydney's Royal North Shore Hospital. She wants an open inquiry into his death and if you read her book, hear her on air or see her on tv, you may well think it is a reasonable request.

Therese is an intelligent woman, and so if the man she loved can end up in the situation her Don did, then it can happen to anyone, you or yours included.

Her latest effort to keep the pressure on was a segment on NSW Channel 10 news.

Here is the link. It is only a couple of minutes once you are past the ad.

Demerit Points

Tradie Brother was booked for a red light camera offence. He disputed it but the penalty stood, a fine and some demerit points. He decided to lose a day's work and go to the magistrates' court to argue his case. He was out by 10.30. Personally, I think the penalty was deserved but the magistrate pounded his gavel (ok, that is dramatic license) and said, case dismissed. One of Tradie Brother's points to the magistrate was his good driving record. I could not help but exclaim, but Brother, you lost your license for drink driving. You've been booked for speeding at least once that I know of. You you were charged at the age of 18 with careless driving when you fell off your motorbike and nearly lost your leg. How is your record so good? Who knows. The magistrate had Tradie Brother's record in front of him.

The conversation then turned to loss of points. Now I have never been booked for a driving offence in my getting on for forty years of driving, so this was an amazing conversation to me. Tradie Brother informed me about a whole family that swap points around between themselves. It couldn't possibly be his surely!  If one family member is getting close to getting the 12 points that leads to a driving license cancellation, they pass he points on to the one who has the least by saying that person was driving the offending car at the time. So they all have multiple driving offences? Extraordinary. I am not saying I never break road laws, but I am quite careful and I guess I have been a bit lucky too.

Nominating someone else to take your points is illegal, and not everyone gets away with it, as a formerly highly respected judge discovered.

Many years ago in the heat of an argument, R said to me, "Do you live in the real world?" Perhaps I don't. Perhaps I don't want to.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Conservative ABC TV

How very odd. As I drove home from work I was listening to an ABC news special and it was unofficially called that we have a new Prime Minister at about 7.20pm.

Now I am watching the ABC 7.30 and at 7.52 no-one is calling it. 7.53 and it has been officially announced.

Make sure you have your speakers on when listening to this. What else can you do in such situations but indulge in a laugh.

Congrats to the architect and RMIT

The Australian Institute of Architects’ has handed down its top prize for 2013 to the RMIT Design Hub building. Here 'tis.  Funnily, I haven't seen people stop to admire such a stunning piece of architecture. What do you reckon?

You can't see the merits? Do you, the great unwashed,  not have an artistic bone in your body? Maybe this closer photo will convince you.

I wonder if there is really something wrong with me, as I just don't get it and I don't think many others do either. I see people standing and admiring and photographing this, Flinders Street Station.

and this, Melbourne Town Hall.

And if you want something modern, even this, Federation Square, is interesting at least and people take photos.

and so they do of Melbourne's Recital Hall.

Maybe my skill as a photographer captured it better in this post. No? I thought my chopping the very top off it improved it slightly. Maybe the fault may just be with the box building. RMIT Design Hub is on a premium site, with a view all the way down Swanston Street and St Kilda Road to the Shrine and if you look up Swanton Street, that is what you see. What a bloody waste and that it gets an award just rubs salt into the wound. Let me think. Politicians, used car salesmen, journalists and architects.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Lighting our lives Pt 1

I'm sure I've used that title before and ages ago I posted photos of our lamps, but many have changed, so along with a request to see them and some doubt that there are nine, here we go.

I cropped this one to remove the 'huge bodied Jack' from the photo. The glass one has a 40w halogen clear bulb for the sparkle effect and the standard two 40w frosted halogen bulbs.


The tortoise lamp has a 15w incandescent oven light.

The salt lamp, a gift to us, also has a 15w incandescent oven light.

These just brighten what was a dark corner. LED, so minimal electricity. All of the above and the one below are controlled via a powerboard with a remote control.

This one has two unusual 25w frosted halogen bulbs. They have a wide base and are expensive to buy. We replaced the original 40w bulbs with 25w but it was still too bright. We wrapped silver foil around cut cardboard paper towel rolls and stood them behind the free swinging drop chains around the bulbs, and it is perfect.

The desk lamp, boring but functional, with a 40w frosted incandescent downlight bulb. Rarely used.

Standard lamp with a long halogen bulb of a huge wattage but the lamp is seldom turned up more than half way. The lower lamp is a clear 40w halogen bulb of the same type as the chain lamp above. The lower lamp is rarely used.

This a a LED light gives an uplight behind the tv onto the wall and the picture that sits above the tv. Is that nine yet? You may as well see the rest of our lights. They will come in Pt2.

Monday, June 24, 2013

News from home

Friday night we dined with a couple of friends at the Malvern Vale Hotel. The hotel has two meals for the price of one if you choose something for $25 or less, so $12.50 for delicious lamb shanks was a bargain. The hotel was mainly staffed by very attractive young men. Bit unusual but very easy for the eyes. But when is a house red not a house red? The house red is listed on the wine list at $4 a glass but I and a friend were separately charged $6. Please explain, cute young man. That $4 glass is cask wine. Ok and $6 is a more usual price in a pub for a glass of house wine and I have no problem with that. Had he have added, you don't look like the type to drink cask wine (not true, I am of a certain age), I would have been completely mollified. Whatever, it was a nice meal and a good atmosphere. We ran into neighbours from our building there too.

Saturday morning saw us having breakfast with the same friends at Whyte Cafe in Glen Huntly Glenhuntly, the former is now correct but just looks so wrong to me. I am of a certain age.  The cafe was a bit short staffed and we waited for quite a bit at outdoor seating for service, inside being full, but once the coffee and then the breakfast came, it was excellent. It wasn't our usual cheap Saturday morning breakfast but still, good value and beautifully presented food. I know I am in a classy place when I get a tiny glass of freezing soda water with my coffee.

We heard a steam train whistle in the distance as we were eating. I queried one of our friends about it and he replied, probably the snow train. A little later Daniel tweeted about the steam train snow special.  In a further moment of synchronicity, as we were leaving Daniel tweeted again about the Safeway supermarket in Glenhuntly, as we were right outside what is a construction site with the operating Glenhuntly supermarket within.

The point of us being in the area was to jointly see the travel agent in Koornang Road, Carnegie. We did and sorted out some details for next year's Euro river cruise. What a marvellous short shopping street is Koornang Road. After the travel agent, we did our supermarket shopping in the Safeway store and then found a gift for oldest niece whose birthday we will be celebrating tomorrow at a hotel for lunch. R found very cheap steak and lamb chops and chicken in the supermarket, but once home and he took the sealed wrapper off the chicken, it stunk like rotten egg gas and while I think left over food kept in the fridge is fine to eat a week later, I insisted he threw the chicken out. Too far to go back there for a refund. The travel agent informed us that us coming home with Emirates would cost an extra $1000. It has not cost her customers anything like that in the past. From what she said, we can blame Qantas, who is now sharing with Emirates. Out of the question. I have to leave a couple of dollars to the kiddies.

Then once home I sat at the computer and started looking at holiday details for next year. What a mistake. Hours later, I am still here. Our river cruise ends in Amsterdam. Our travelling companions are staying a night in Amsterdam and then going on to Brussels by train to meet up with friend who they will stay with for a couple of nights and he will drive them to Paris. We intended flying from Amsterdam on the day the cruise finished to Newcastle in England, where R's family live. Sounds easy? Non!  Not unless you want to go via Heathrow or Gatwick or even London City airport. I did find an Easyjet flight, but the time was not good. The flight time is only 20 minutes, but not many airlines seem to service the route. Maybe we should catch the overnight ferry. Cheap enough and we have done it before. No! I can't forget the ball of hair sloshing back and forth in the shower, and it wasn't my hair, and the karaoke the host grumpily cancelled because no one would participate in it because everyone was stone cold sober because the drinks were so expensive. We had had our own stash in our cabins and retired to the company of our duty free bottles and snacks.

Is there a train from Amsterdam to the airport, Schiphol? I looked. Yes, but up came some interesting information. 1 hour 37 by train to Brussels. I thought, what about getting the train from Amsterdam to Newcastle? Two hours to Brussells, two hours Eurostar to London, three hours to Newcastle, plus waiting time. Not implausible. Timings are looking pretty good. What do you reckon R? "I cannot go through London without stopping." I agreed.

Our travelling companions have refused to fly home via Heathrow, as has R. While it is problematic, we will fly home from Manchester with SIA via Munich and Singapore. The problem is getting to Manchester from Newcastle. Our TC's will already be there, staying with a friend. We will probably get the train, but I think we will have to stay at a hotel in Manchester overnight as our flight is at 9.10am. Sort that out in the future.

But yes, we will stay in London for a couple of days as our Dubai stopover has been excluded, so we will have an extra couple of days in England. We will add two days in Newcastle at the end and subtract them at the beginning by a couple of nights in London.

Yesterday, Sunday, was a great day with family and R and myself surprised ourselves with finding a gem of a place. It will come with photos in a separate post as this one is quite long enough.

I will leave you with a short video of the snow train special steaming through one of Melbourne's middle suburbs, and unusually, almost on time.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sunday Selections

As River does her weekly Sunday Selections, so do I occasionally.

The gerberas with white petals and black centres looked quite dramatic.

I know most of the flowers to be seen at a flower stall, but I haven't a clue what these are called.

An opening at QV. The Shophouse Kitchen looks very gay. In some Asian countries are shops with accommodation above, and they are called shophouses. I have embraced the term to describe our many Victorian era shophouses.

City apartment living. Tell you visitors to come by train, tram or bus as there is no where to park. Who wants to drive in the city anyway. It's a nightmare.

And if you intend spending much time at one of Melbourne's many rooftop bars, then it may be also wise to come by train, or go home by one at least.

Marvellous deco which I think is now student accommodation, looms over the Cross Culture Church of Christ, originally known as Swanston Street Church of Christ.

Blending modern architecture smoothly with period architecture.  Who vomited slime over Story Hall?

I see the sea and the lake. It was a sunny but cold day and the yachts were out in full force, doing whatever yachts do.  Jutting out into the lake is the upmarket restaurant The Point that usually puts on a New Years Eve fireworks show. It has a small spiral stand alone tower to climb. I was going to cut most of the buildings out. Should I have?

R's Sister and Bro in Law gave us this gift before they returned to England. We aren't great ones for cacti, but it does add some winter colour.

Outside St Pauls are seats for the homeless and alcoholics. Only tourists take any notice of the sign. TV quote: "I'm a ladeee".