Saturday, July 06, 2013


I received one of these phishing emails from a bank once,  the bank I actual use and it was very well done, so well done I felt the need to alert my bank to it and they sounded appreciative of me doing so. They probably weren't really, but better to be nice.

I'm afraid this one, supposedly from my isp and telephone company, just does not cut the mustard. If the dodgy English wasn't a give away, I very much doubt an Australian company would ask an Australia citizen with an Australian address for their zip code. If you don't know, we call them post codes.

I've just remembered something. Years ago some sites would want you to verify your address by entering your zip code. More than once I found recalling the tv show Beverley Hills 90210 useful.

Dear BigPond Account User:

Your e-mail needs to be updated with our released F-Secure Internet
Security 2013 new version of a better resource webmail spam and viruses.
If you have not upgraded your account, click reply and fill in the
columns below to send it back so we can update our database account
immediately. Failure to update will process your BigPond account being
temporarily blocked or suspended from our network and may not be able to
receive or send e-mail due to the update.

Fill the column below:


We apologize for the inconvenience; we are here to make it look better
webmail in 2013.

Case Number: 937117915 Property
Account Security

Aussie cafes and restaurants

There is nothing worse than not knowing when you enter a strange cafe than if a waiter takes your order or you order at the counter. We are inclined to sit outside if it is warm enough, which makes it even worse. At least if you enter the cafe, you might see a clear indicator of whether it is waiter service or not.

If you see numbers on sticks on the cafe counter, it will certainly be order at the counter. You are then given a number to take to your table so that the waiter will know your table and deliver your food, and the same goes for if you see electronic devices to signal you when your order is ready. Some tables have a number attached to them and so you will need to know this number when ordering. Find a table first and note the number before ordering.  If you see menus on a counter, it is likely to be waiter service. If there is an extensive black board menu, probably order at the counter. There is no way of really knowing without looking.You just have to work it out for each new place.

Restaurants are much simpler. You step inside the door and wait for attention. Booking is not necessary unless you want to be guaranteed that you can get a table and booking is a polite thing to do if there is a group of you, so that staff can arrange tables in advance. You will usually be asked how many people are dining and shown to a seat and promptly given menus. Water may be delivered to your table, or you may have to ask for it. There will be wine glasses on the table or the staff will ask you how many glasses they should bring. Only ask for the number you want as there will be corkage charge.

What is corkage charge? Most restaurants allow you to bring your own wine, even though they sell wine themselves. Very few allow beer or spirits to be brought to the restaurant. They charge a fee for supplying the glasses and perhaps a chilling bucket for you wine. $2 per person who is having wine is very reasonable. In a a not too upmarket restaurant we went to once, four of us, we had four bottles and the corkage was $8 a bottle. $32 corkage is outrageous and in spite of the place being suggested for a return visit, we have refused. It is always worth checking the bill to see if the correct corkage has been charged. Remember the charge is only for people who drank the wine.

It matters little what the cuisine is and the way people eat in the country of the cuisine. Australians expect an entree and/or soup, followed by a main course and then perhaps dessert. There are many variations of course, but that is the basic. You could sum it up as something light, something substantial, something sweet.

When you order, the order will at times be repeated back to you at the conclusion of everyone ordering, often with heavily accented English. Stop your social chat and listen carefully. It will save botheration during your meal by making sure the order is correct.

Sometimes your food can be delivered too quickly for your pace or not matching each persons order time wise. If you want it to work perfectly and you don't think the restaurant is up to the task, order each course individually, ie, order your entree and wait until it is delivered before ordering your next course.

Your waiters should be friendly and helpful but probably won't call you Sir or Madam. You will get that if you go to an upmarket place which will be very expensive. The waiters are not your servants but your equal and they are doing some honest work for which they are paid a low minimum wage, but it is almost an adequate wage. Don't feel intimidated by them though. You are the customer and the staff are there to serve you. Ask about anything that tempts you on the menu, but you don't understand. I never verbally order anything that I don't know the correct pronunciation for. I will either point to the dish on the menu or if meals are numbered, use the number. 

Which brings us to tipping. Australians don't tip and there is no obligation to tip, except we often do tip. Five people dining for $33 each makes $165. A dollar or so extra each will make it $170. It is not really expected and it is not going to make your waiters rich, but just an acknowledgement that you have had a nice evening and nothing so far as your waiters were concerned went wrong. But if you don't tip, the waiters will not trip you as you are exiting the restaurant or chase you down the street. The more expensive the restaurant, the more a tip will be expected and generally the tip will be higher. But I don't really eat in fine dining establishments, so I am not so knowledgeable in that area.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Would you like fries with that?

I wish I had kept a list of the evil things VCAT had done in our State of Victoria. VCAT is the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. It deals with many different matters for a small fee in preference to going to the Magistrates Court where there will be solicitors and barristers and while you may win your case, you will be  out of pocket. If you lose, you will be very out of pocket.There can still be legal representation for the parties in dispute, but VCAT is far less formal than a court.

The theory of VCAT and its ideals are marvellous. Its judgements, often not so good.

Aside from much of what it does, it also judges planning disputes, like when neighbours fight each other, or a house owner fights council, or when residents fight against a development.

One such battle is going on now and sometimes local residents win when trying to stop a McDonalds restaurant opening near them and sometimes they lose.

I have been a McDonalds hater for a long time, ever since they dragged those bolshie English kids through the courts. My dislike has increased over time, reinforced by them opening in a children's hospital here and realising just how bad their food is when the film Super Size Me came out.

They are going to open an outlet in Tecoma in our Dandenong Ranges, just an hour's drive from the centre of Melbourne. The Dandenongs are when many Melburnians like to go for a Sunday drive, to see the sights, have lunch or afternoon tea. Think of many Miss Marple teas rooms spread over the Dandenongs. It is not quite like that and there are many nice cafes and restaurants. Within the building that is to be demolished for a new McDonalds was a successful tea room of sorts, now gone.

On various grounds the local council denied permission to McDonalds to open a restaurant on the Tecoma site. McDonalds went against the council and appealed to VCAT, which approved the development. Without fail, VCAT goes along with developers and against local wishes.

The council voted unanimously against the development. A door knock poll  of local residents, ok conducted by those who did not want the development, came up with a result of  92% against.

I don't doubt the McDonalds will be successful. They will have done their research, especially about passing trade on a major road, but does the company really want to be so hated?

The worst thing about it is that it sets precedent. One fast food restaurant at Tecoma approved could and perhaps will see a spread of the others over the Dandenong Ranges. Subway in Sassafras? Hungry Jacks in Hoddles Creek?

The local Tecoma residents are very passionate about stopping the restaurant. As I type, 50 year old women who have never protested against anything in their life are sitting on the roof of the building that is to be demolished to make way for McDonalds. People are trying to chain themselves to demolition vehicles. The building union has called members off the site. Private guards are plentiful on site, but the police are keeping away.

C'mon McDonalds, for all you smart language and words you use, piss orf from where you aren't wanted.

I'm sure there is a Facebook group...........Ah, more than one. This is the largest,

Wobble it, Just wobble it

You may recall seeing this video when I posted it back in 2011, Unfortunately the video I embedded has been removed. But nothing ever disappears on the internet. You can see it here or just search You Tube for Tacoma Narrows Bridge. It is quite dramatic footage. It was about 1940 when it collapsed. Some 70 years later, engineering standards and understanding of forces are much better, but were they when London's Millennium Bridge was built, a mere 14 years ago? It seems not.

The footbridge crosses River Thames between Blackfriars rail bridge and Southwark Bridge, effectively linking St Pauls to the Tate Modern. Its construction began in 1998 for a 2000 opening and what a swaying disaster to London pride it turned out to be. It was closed later on the day of its opening, reopened the next day to restricted numbers, and then closed.

An extra £5 million and two years later it reopened and has never swayed again, yet still retains its nickname among some Londoner's of the Wobbly Bridge. I am not going into the technical reasons of why it wobbled because it is very much tech talk, but how about a video?

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Thankfully not hand on heart

It took me some time to work this out in my head. Like an hour or so.

A Moslem member of parliament was subjected to abuse and vitriol on his personal social media sites because he swore on the Koran, rather than the Christian Bible. The howls were long and loud and vitriolic. Well, I am not so keen on any religion, least of all the Moslem religion, but do I agree with the vocal masses?

The first thought that occurred to me, aren't  there other non Christian members of parliament. Well, my local federal member is Jewish. What did he swear on? The only Jewish text book I know of is the Torah.   Did Michael Danby MP swear on the Torah?

I am not blessed with great intelligence. I read widely but I forget almost every thing I read. However, my thought processes went further to a moment of clarity, such clarity not spoken of in the media.

The chap was swearing on a religious text, his religious text, allegiance to Australia. I really don't think you can ask much more than that. For him to swear allegiance on the Christian Bible would be completely false.

Unlike England with the Church of England connected to the Head of State who is head of Parliament, Australia is a secular society and has been for a long time. All religions are recognised and there is no Australian religion. Christianity may well be in our history, (tell that to our Aborigines or to Chinese gold miners) but it is not modern Australia.

Now if we can just get rid of the anachronistic Lords Prayer said at the beginning of each Parliamentary session, a much better and more realistic impression would be given.

Just to reinforce, Ed Husic MP swore allegiance to Australia using his own religious text. Allegiance to Australia are the key words.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

It's all in the timing

There is America and then there is the rest of the world and America, a dominant world culture, insists on using an odd to the rest of the world date format. It drives me crazy and it can make it so difficult when trying to work out dates.

Is this the 6th of November?

No, apparently not, it is the 11th of June.

In America it would read 06/11/13.
In Australia and much of the world it would be 11/06/13.

There now seems to be a world standard and it has been embraced by the BBC and our ABC, written like this, 20130611. But for heavens sake America, get with the rest of the world for the less formal time expression. It is in order you know, smallest to largest, dd/mm/yyyy.

And while I am at it, my virus checker did a summer update and was labelled as such, right in the middle of our winter.  Americas cultural imperialism knows no bounds.

But of course I do have an American standard clock and I do have an American virus checker and they were my choice because they suited.

My work operates with a twenty four hour time clock. I have come to learn 24 hour time, in fact I instantly know 24 hour time, especially before noon (insert emoticon with quizzical eyebrows).  It is useful to know and leads to much less confusion than using am and pm.

Using a 24 hour clock removes another issue, 12 noon, which seems to be expressed now as 12 pm, but I just won't wear that at all. It is either 12 noon or 12 midnight. Care to meet for coffee at 14.00 on 06/11? I do like to plan in advance. Of course I would just say two o'clock. I don't do coffee at 2am. In fact I don't do 2am at all.

World matters are troublesome enough. Why do we have time issues?

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Where Sister lives

Sister lives in a Borough, the only Borough in Victoria. The rest of us live in a council area, either a City or a Shire. Sister's Borough is poor, because the Borough is small and has not many properties, and so not much income. There are no high rise apartment buildings where Sister lives only houses and small businesses; a good number of the houses only holiday places.

Where Sister lives has a minimal income base but it is also a posh place. I have observed the people walking their dogs and they are not poor people. There is a private primary school in the borough, but the government schools are so good, there is little temptation for parents to lay out large sums for private education. While Sister is a teacher in a private school, she sees no need for Little Jo to have a private primary school education.

So although it is not a rich council, the local community spirit has to be experienced to believed. On the Bellarine Peninsular, think of what is like a country town at the seaside full of sophisticated and accepting city folk, without pretension. Sister kind of defaulted to live there and their modest house cost them a lot of money, but they could not have chosen a better place for two dykes to bring up a child in a supportive community. R loves the town and if I even mentioned an indication of wanting to move there once I retire, he would jump at it. I rather like where I live and I love Melbourne, but who knows what the future might bring. Maybe I will once again live in a house with some land and a garden. Or maybe not if I have anything to do with it.

Another old saved post published.

Leaving Dublin

We recently spent a good hour or so at the wonderful Immigration Museum looking at the Leaving Dublin exhibition. It was mainly photographic, but there were some videos on large screens. The black bits in the photos is the camera lens cover not fully retracting and I forgot to give it a flick. It clearly warmed up inside and opened properly.

The Immigration Museum is housed in what was the Old Customs House. It is a fine building and although cold outside, it was very evenly warm inside with no obvious heating. Of course there was heating but it was very discreet.

I noted no flash photography, so I turned the flash off. The staircase is grand.

This was marvellous. Essential it is junk for kiddies to hang up on display. The few who were there loved it.

This is looking a bit sad. They are quotes from some of the participants in the videos on display. We watched a couple of videos and they were generally very sad, in fact lump in your throat sad as people explained the hopelessness of their lives in Ireland and why they were emigrating.

The first two photos below are my favourites.  I did chuckle at one caption, along the lines of  '**** left behind unemployment in Dublin and moved to find work in the Shetland Islands'.

The photos were quite brilliantly lit. It is well worth your while to click on them and see them larger.

The graffiti says "Tales from the Promised Land". Once I was home and looking through the brochure, with my glasses on, I noticed again 'no flash photography' but in addition, 'on the first floor'. 'No photography on the second floor.' Oops.

We wandered a bit in the museum, avoiding permanent exhibitions we had seen during our last visit. This was a curious short video focusing on why people on the tram did not say something as an African born youth was being bullied by the chap standing. All he said to the lad was to keep his voice down while talking in his African language. Don't we all wish we could do that at times, never mind what language. It was his staring at the lad, refusing to down next to him, and generally slightly menacing presence. After the bully alighted from the tram, people began saying to themselves, why didn't I say something? It was quite an effective short video showing not overt or abusive racism, but a more subtle form.

Monday, July 01, 2013

My Local ABC

School holidays are upon us and ABC Melbourne radio presenters have disappeared, even though most are too old to have children in school. I don't like dissing people and I quite like Sally Warhaft as a guest on radio, but not as a replacement for Faine. I find her laborious in the extreme. I am used to Australia's premier local radio broadcaster Jon Faine being lightning fast and snappy. (note, the link accuses Faine of being left wing. While I think he has a social conscience, I don't consider him a Comrade)

One day Faine will retire. Who will replace him? A few come to mind who have performed well as fill ins in the past. Waleed Aly (out of date info) is one. He was initially a bit monotone, but has developed broadcasting skills. Ali Moore (out of date. She lives in Singapore now) was a brilliant fill in for Faine a few years ago and is high on my list, but my vote would go to Virginia Trioli. She is just magnificent, and Virginia, if you read this, mornings on ABC Melbourne is an exalted position and you would have high respect should you choose what would surely an open option to you.

One more post cleared. I am getting the backlog down.

Drumming fingers?

It is surely only a matter of time now before Nelson Mandela dies, a mere seven years after he was removed from a list of terrorists in the US. It is sad that so much of his life was robbed, he being cooped up in prison while some of world fought for equality for blacks and the end of apartheid in South Africa.

There is an interesting little read here about a concert, the author claiming he was part of the process of turning Mandela from a terrorist to a saint and ultimately Mandela being freed. I should remember the 1988 concert, but I cannot.

Will his vision for South Africa ever be fulfilled? Nope. Is South Africa a better place for Mandela having lived? Very much so, and even white South Africans owe him a debt of gratitude for the fact that the country did not explode at the end of apartheid. Revenge must have been a very strong thought in the minds of many black South Africans when they became as good as their masters.

It is a curious world where a terrorist has become a hero, such as Mandela, and a friend to the western world, Saddam Hussein, became a terrorist. I am pleased Snowden has exposed some of the west's duplicity of  supping with devils, usually for financial gain or to protect 'the correct way to live on Earth'.

Saints perform miracles, so we are told. Mandela is not a saint but a hero perhaps. He came to be more than what he ever did. He represents something quite intangible that people hunger for. It might just be as simple as basic decency when dealing with your fellow human beings.

I apologise if it seems awful talking about someone's death before they die but I think Mandela now needs peace.

Later Edit: James from Sydney posted about the Apartheid Museum and the piece is well worth  a read, not just for museum details. You can find it here.

But it isn't me, truly

Do I have a young reader? Probably not. I am not sure I would read my own blog if I was young. Nevertheless, here is a lecture to you younguns who don't read my blog. The word to focus on is 'selfie'.

In gay 'social media' sites.......ok, I am being disingenuous. In gay pick up sites or when using the gay phone app Grindr, an app that straight male comedians seem to find so fascinating, you will often be asked to send your photo via whatever system you are using. Sometimes it may be after a nice chat with someone, or even a 'stimulating' chat, or it could be as cold as a message from the blue from someone who you don't know, 'pic?'.

It is pointless telling you not to do it.You will, but I can offer you some useful advice, and that is don't send you face pic with an R rated pic. That also means don't include in your R pic an identifiable tattoo or body mark.

Just yesterday I heard of a young guy and girl chatting on Facebook, with him becoming increasingly suggestive and then unprompted, he sent her an R rated full face and body selfie in, shall we say, a state of excitement. She was very annoyed that he had taken such liberties and she looked and found his mother's FB profile and private messaged her a copy of the conversation and the photo he had sent.

So kiddies while some of you many not care, some of you will and you may very well end up on . I don't like the site and I consider it a terrible invasion and a cruel and horrible thing to do to people, but I do look at it, really just to check if an Australian has been posted, and they are often enough. You may not care to look because there is nudity, girls and guys, so the essence is someone's face photos are posted, then their rudie selfie, followed by their full name and a linked url to their Facebook profile.

To summarise, keep your face pic separate separate from you rudie photo, watch what is identifiable in the background (your grannies crochet work), remember to not include any identifying body marks and then should you end up on ugotposted, deny, deny and deny again that it is your rudie selfie, unless you are particularly pleased with the association. In that case, just grin in a smug manner when being accused.

I'll bash off now. There is something on the net I must check out, again.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Just another Sunday #29

I think I prefer to work on Sunday. A family lunch last weekend for Oldest Nieces' birthday, this weekend jobs for Mother, next weekend Little Jo's birthday, this time not being celebrated at the Highrise but at Healesville Sanctuary, weather permitting.

Sister is now on the Gold Coast, after being on a camp with Aborigines on Northern Territory's Daley River. She was in the company of another teacher and a dozen 17 year old lads from her school.  One posh lad asked, "Toilet Miss?" "Go and dig a hole" was the reply, and that is what they had to do. Sister can kick a footy well enough and the connection between herself, her posh school boys and the local aboriginal lads was made.

Little Jo was parted from her mother for a week, left in the company of her other mummy, Bone Doctor. A friend transported her and her own children and Little Jo to reunite with her mother on the Gold Coast. I spoke to Sister minutes ago and while everything has gone well, she is very tired and not in the mood for extended social chat.

ABI Brother had left a message on the telephone answer machine, wanting to know something about emailing. I also know when his free AVG virus checker needed to be updated, he went for the free 24 day trial, and of course now they want him to pay and he doesn't have a working virus checker.

It is not really the way I wanted to spend my Sunday, but I do have tomorrow off work, so I can do it. I gingerly asked R if he was up to it, and he was.

Mother's list:

Clean hall mirrors.
Empty vacuum cleaner.
Prune roses.
Clean air con filters.
Doona covers to laundry.
Sweep up lillipilly berries.
Kill the cats.

Amazingly there are only eight cats. They keep breeding with their fine diet and formulated cat milk, but the numbers are not increasing at Mother's.  No, she did not ask us to kill the cats. I malevolently added that to her list. She loves watching them, nourishes them but takes no responsibility for them and watches them die at times and gets terribly upset.

ABI Brother arrived, we went to the laundry to wash Mother's bedding (my poor old washing can't cope with anything big, woe is me) and then went for lunch while the bedding washed. ABI walked from lunch to the laundry to put it all into a dryer.

But wait. I did not realised that the laundry in one of Melbourne's extremely outer south eastern suburbs would be a hotbed of homosexuals at weekends. A muscle mary in a singlet with his gorgeous looking boyfriend and a Maori lad with his Anglo boyfriend were cluttering up the place. Well, it was us cluttering up the place really. I should have switched on Grindr on my phone. But it was a bit of a stressful situation, so no time for phone stalking fun.

Lunch at a bakery, cheap at least, and how good is it to be able to sit outside in the sun in our coldest month of June. Mother staged a performance mid pie eating, oh my neck. I think it is my goitre pressing on my carotid artery,  which is pressing on a nerve. Yes Mother, as we resumed our conversation.

ABI Brother walked back to the laundry to transfer the washing to the dryer and returned to the bakery, just as Mother was finally finishing eating.

We left R in charge of the washing and took Mother home. I emptied the vacuum cleaner and got stuck into pruning the roses. "Margaret says it is too early to prune roses Andrew?" "It is Mother, but you suggested it and I don't know when I will have the time in the in the future".

Prune away I did and I have a Bandaid on my wrist covering a particularly nasty thorn stab to prove the point, and oh, my aching back.

R can get very crabby in such situations, especially if Mother drags the day out as long as she can. I pre-empted this with asking him what time he wanted to be home. He said leave by 4. Mother made us coffee after we had completed the jobs, and we were then off to ABI Brother's. Showed him how to print out a doctor pdf report. Wow, his printer is amazingly fast. Hmmm, ours is quite old actually, but so long as it works.

I knew there was a problem with his virus checker. He had gone for the AVG default trial of 24 days, instead of just updating. I fixed that and then we were off home and we were home before five.

Mother is going to write a book, My Life, My Dogs. She has seen a few, right from when she was a kid. She gave us a brief extended recited outline.

Ah, there were steam train shuttles between Darling and Glen Waverley stations today. I've never seen that and today would have been the perfect opportunity.......bloody mothers.

Lighting our lives, the supplement

Lighting our lives or boring the pants off Victor.

Should one of our lamps fail, and as Craig suggests they always do at the wrong time, then we have spares, in many shapes, sizes, wattages, bayonet, screw, frosted, clear, incandescent,  fluoro and halogen. I promise, no more about our personal lights for a few years.

Lighting our life Pt 2

You may as well see the rest of our lighting. Two 15w oven lamps in the range hood.

Both the bathroom and the ensuite have the same lighting, with one 50w halogen above the basin and mirror and a more conventional downlight which when turned on also turns on the exhaust fan unit which extracts air from the bathroom, toilet and ensuite. The exhaust fan motor is above the trapdoor with silver tubing leading to each inlet and the outlet on the balcony. The downlight is a 25w fluoro bulb, although my ensuite has an incandescent 100w bulb. I hate the slow warm up period of fluoros. The toilet has only the large downlight.

Overhead lounge lighting. The one above the dining table closest has two 100w frosted incandescent bulbs, the lounge one, two 40w frosted incandescent.  They are on a dimmer switch but the lights are rarely used.

Bedside touch lamps for R's and the spare bedroom. R's was similar but round before it was smashed when we were moving furniture for carpet replacement.

Two smaller versions of the lounge rooms light the connecting area between bedrooms, bathroom and lounge. One 100w clear incandescent in each.

When the fans were installed in the bedrooms, they came with their own lights. They are 20w fluoro tubes and again, miserably slow to light up properly. Previously they were the same as the hallway lights.

The kitchen has one 20w circular fluoro and two 50w halogen downlights. The fluoro does not get a lot of use, but the downlights are always on at night, and often during the day.

The balcony light. Why do we need a nautical styled light? 100w clear incandescent.

My bedside lamp. For reading, the flaps open and light is projected out, otherwise, the lighting is quite soft, and god knows, I need soft lighting.