Saturday, November 02, 2013

Derby Day Detritus

I can't believe I can get the word detritus into two posts. It is in tomorrow's Sunday Selections and this one.

This evening we dined early at our favourite Thai/Vietnamese/Indian/Chinese/Malay restaurant, Lemon Bistro in Little Bourke Street. We were lucky enough to get a window seat and see many attendees to the Derby Day horse racing meeting pass by. It was not very pretty. In fact you would call what we saw the detritus of Derby Day.

The lass who was third out of the stretch limo looked ok, until she threw up in the alley opposite. So many woman, mostly young, could not walk properly in high heels and looked ridiculous. Some woman carried their shoes. One Anglo Australian girl had her Asian boyfriend carry hers. He knew his place as she strided on in front of him. One woman who may have seen the age of 40 wasn't too bad. Another wearing a 40's style dress almost had it right. The dress should have been below the knee, not above. I felt pity for the young lass who was in pink, when she would have been surrounded by black and white, as is the custom at Derby Day. Why didn't anyone tell her?

I shan't even mention what the blokes were wearing, except quite a few were wearing trousers that were unfashionably too tight. I didn't mind that so much.

I guess the creme de la creme of Melbourne racing society did not head to China Town for the evening, nor the creme de la creme of attendees.  I managed to stand out among the riff raff by wearing a green Ben Sherman shirt. It will be binned tomorrow, mainly because it is too long and doesn't have a pocket for my reading glasses.

I don't get it

This is a bit stale and past its use by date.

1/ Why would anyone who cares about our environment and the social welfare of the people of Australia vote for The Abbott?

2/ Why is an East West road tunnel being built that will help a very few people get to where they want to be and cost taxpayers so much money? At least the private tunnels in Sydney and Brisbane went broke to shareholders and took little taxpayers money. This Melbourne tunnel better be a private thing where a company loses money, not taxpayers. (We know a lot more now and it is not getting any better)

3/ Why do people feel the need to use their device, mobile phone or whatever, and not pay attention to what is happening around them when driving? It is illegal, but it can be done when stationary by just glancing at what is on your phone and looking back to traffic lights to observe when they turn green. Australia has become a country of horn blasting from people to get the car in front moving when the lights turn green, although often enough two consecutive drivers will be looking at screens and it is a slow move off when both have to horned.

Myki Malevolence

For months the announcement was heard on Melbourne trams that you do not need to swipe off your Myki public transport card when travelling on trams in Zone 1. Noted that Vline country stations have signage using the word swipe on and off and not touch on and off. Touch is more accurate as you need to hold your card still. In my experience, you get a shorter response time if you have the end of your finger between your card and the reader than putting your card flat on the reader. Regardless the response times are still too slow, at train barriers and on trams.

There is an exception about swiping off on a tram even in Zone 1, that is when you are going to renew you Myki card as R did today. Myki cards expire after three years and you need to get a new one and transfer the balance of your credit.

R queued for a few minutes at the Flinders Street Station ticket window. Sorry Sir, you haven't touched off. Of course he had not as he had arrived by tram from home and there is no need to touch off on a tram if your journey is within Zone 1. Can you go over to the railway station gates and give the staff member your card and she will fix it. The staff took his card, opened the barrier with her own card and used his to exit the station gates. R was now touched off, which seems strange as he never touched on at a station. I was busy admiring the 20th century Victorian architectural features of the station at that point. He filled me in on the details as he queued again for a good bit longer this time.

Without being abusive, he complained about the silliness of the system to the staff and his irritation. She transferred the balance to a new card and he started to walk away. Luckily he noticed that he had lost his S, that is the S on his Myki card that denotes that he is a Senior and gets discounted public transport travel.

Back to the window and no queueing as he pushed in this time. I bolted as I am sure there would be a stream of invective spat from his mouth. Before he left the station, he checked his Myki balance. He was not trusting anything by this point, including that his credit had been transferred.

Ok, it is a system problem that should not happen, but I am sure the Myki authority people are aware of the matter. Why didn't the email that arrived to tell him that he needed to replace his card mention that the card needs to be touched off before it can be replaced?

I can't find the link now, but on a Metro Trains web page I clearly saw that you could not buy a VLine ticket at Flinders Street Station. As R was dealing with his ticket, I saw a pair of windows open marked VLine Regional Bookings.  My earlier web searching would have been looking at Wikipedia, VLine, Flinders Street Station, Metro Trains, PTV and Southern Cross Station web sites. I probably spent about 15 minutes searching to find out if I could book a VLine ticket at Flinders Street Station and I concluded no, I could not, but yes I could.

Honestly, how incompetent can companies be?

So note, if you are replacing your Myki, it needs to be logged off.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Wild Cat

I was at Mother's yesterday. I took her for lunch and then drove her to buy some potting mix and seedlings, for a game of Snakes and Ladders to play with Little Jo when she has to look after her weekend after next, of her fortnightly treat of two date scones from the bakery and to buy a new inside rubbish bin. Apparently the one we no longer needed and gave to her in 1992 has broken.

Over lunch Mother told me the story of her childhood local milk bar/grocery shop. She has told me before, but I had forgotten, so now I am writing it down.

Mother and her father went to Oakleigh from Grandfather's market garden in South Oakeigh to buy cakes from the cake shop. Mother had selected the cakes and they returned home and awaiting them was the local milk bar/grocery shop/hardware store ablaze. It was mostly of a timber construction and so went up like a Hindu widow. The shop was on the corner of Clarinda Road and Centre Road. Bunnings and Reg Hunt Motors now occupy Grandfather's land, along with a Vic Roads place and an ice skating rink.

Grandfather's brother rescued the shop money receptacle,burning his hands in the process. What I haven't mentioned is that the owner was blind. He sat on the bank across the road, no doubt feeling the radiant heat, and kept asking what was happening. Eventually it became clear to him that his shop was burning to the ground and tears filled his blind eyes.

Sorry, but another anecdote I need to record. Mother's mother only hit her once, but it was some hiding. Mother wanted to go to car race meeting with a girlfriend to meet up with boys. Mother's mother told her she was going out too often. Her last outing had been an innocent trip to botanic gardens in Balwyn. I don't know about these gardens. But mother went to car races, motorbike races and veledrome cycling races.  Mother's mother said no. I think I would have said the same to a 16 year old daughter who wanted to go to car races. Mother said she would go anyway and in my memory, Grandma was very placid and good natured. Not this day. Grandmother set off in pursuit of Mother and Mother tripped over a water pipe and Grandmother caught her. She lashed Mother with wire flex to the point of Mother bleeding from her legs, back and sides. Mother said it was the only time she was ever hit as a child. She got over it, but in later life she has thought about it often.

As a market gardener, Mother's father rose early and went to bed early. Each night she went into his bedroom and kissed him goodnight. 'You know it is funny Andrew, I can never remember kissing my mother goodnight.' I replied, 'Maybe she came into your bedroom and kissed you goodnight?'

Back to reality. Mother had a medical appointment. I dropped her and returned to her place to do a few jobs and wait for the surgery to call to pick her up. I forgot to get the door key from her. I tried a few windows and they were all secure. It is a good thing that she is locking up well. I will have to go back to the surgery to get the key from her. I am getting too old to climb through windows, regardless of whether they are open or not. As a last resort, I tried the back door. It was open. Ah, mea culpa. I went outside before we left earlier and did not relock it.

My car was in the driveway and it had become quite warm in the mild sunlight so I had left one of the windows open. I went out to the car and pressed the remote to unlock it and a manic cat hurtled frantically around inside my car. It dislodged my umbrella, turned on the wipers and the indicators, which became apparent when I started the car, and then shot out the door when I opened it. It was not more than  a 100mm, four inch gap in the window where it entered. It was one of Mother's ginger strays that she feeds expensive food and special cat milk to.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

A simple meal at friends'

Our friend who lives on the city side of the Frankston (railway code for the station, FKN)  train line in Caulfield invited us for dinner. A couple of years ago we went to his his mother's funeral. More recently we went to his father's funeral. Post his father's death, there was the money to sort our and our friend's brother accused him of of being dilatory about sorting out the will. Our friend travels a lot and is a very busy person. Maybe he was dilatory or maybe his wasn't. Nevertheless, it caused a rift.

I don't know why people buy turkey, cook it and serve it but our friend did and invited us to dinner, along with his slightly estranged brother and sister in law.  The turkey was dry, as it is inclined to be but it was a great three course meal. I am not much for seafood but if a prawn is deheaded and you can hold it by the tail and eat out the centre, not so bad.

His brother has a strong connection to our media famous bearded local resident who recently avoided being imprisoned. They both had liver transplants at similar times and know each other well.

I think we saw a family reconciliation. Our friend's brother is an amusing bloke and his wife never stops talking. She is past 60, has curly bleach blonde hair and to our astonishment now uses a fold up gold walking stick, the result of some unsuccessful knee operations. I watched how much wine she drank, and it was little, nevertheless, as the evening went on, her very black eye make up became messy. Her lipstick disappeared. Her foundation faded. It was like watching a flower wilt. I had gone there straight from work, so I was pre-wilted.

As she walked to their car, I could see she really did need the walking stick. She was so much fun, but I wouldn't want to live with her. You don't want fun all the time, or talk.

Colour My World

I was passing by the newish building built for the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. I took a few photos the though I might pop inside to see what it is like. I have seen a lot of modern buildings I dislike more that this one. You can certainly call it interesting.

I think Red might like parts of it.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Matters VLine

(Monday 28/10) VLine is the government owned operator trains in Victoria. In a failed experiment, at least one line's operation was privatised by the evil Jeff Kennett and his state government. It is now back being operated by the government.

For our recent train trip to Geelong we used our Myki cards. The conductor checked our cards shortly after we boarded. That is, he checked that we had them, not that we had actually validated them at the barrier or had paid anything

We used a different type of train service to return and the conductor walked through the carriage and asked to see the tickets of anyone who had boarded at Geelong. As we had to book for this trip, we had printed tickets. We offered our tickets and the conductor thought he saw something wrong with R's ticket and began to tell him he could not travel, then stopped dead, "thank you Sir". This trip was totally reliant on people being honest and the conductor remembering faces. This was illustrated by a woman with mental health issues who asked at the station when the next Melbourne train was due and for some gates to be opened so she get her shopping trolley across to the Melbourne bound platform without using the bridge and stairs. Staff obliged. She did not buy a ticket and had no seat reservation but it did not matter. She remained silent when the conductor asked for tickets from passengers who boarded at Geelong. It is of course possible that she had some kind of pass, but I doubt it.

I am using another VLine service tomorrow. What will that bring? Already I have discovered that while I can catch the train at Flinders Street (no reserved seats), there is no VLine booking office at Flinders Street to reserve a seat on the service I am returning on. I must either book online or by phone or go much earlier to So Cross Station. What I will do is book my return ticket when I arrive at my destination.

I won't mention the trip to Sister. I don't want to hear about it being Senior's Free Travel Week again.

Louder than a mouse

Can you hear/feel that noise, I asked R. Yes. It was something between noise and vibration throughout our apartment. This was when I was home for lunch. When I arrived home in the evening, it was still happening and seemed a bit worse. We managed to sleep in spite of the noise.

I peered over the balcony and I have never noticed the air con being on at the apartment below us. That is not to say it hasn't been on. I just had not noticed it being on. It did sound a bit noisy. I remarked about a strange noise on the balcony a few days ago to R.

When I came home the following day, I checked a few other floors and the noise seemed to be going right through the building and it was even worse. I called building manager who told me it was under investigation.  When I arrived home that evening, the noise had stopped.

It was  few days before I ran into the building manager to ask him what the noise was. I was correct, the air con unit below us. The owner had gone to Malaysia for three months and left the air con. Clearly something was wrong with it, bearings by the sound of it, hence the noise. The manager had the phone number of a friend of the person away and he rang her and she told him it was ok to turn the power off in the service room, which he did and the problem was fixed. He told me he had calls from residents from the 9th to the 18th floor about the matter, so you can imagine how bad it was.

It is quite weird that while we don't hear noises from other apartments, a simple faulty air con unit outside on a balcony affected over 100 people.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Rum and Rebellion

It is extraordinary that the ABC news is calling Eddie Obeid as corrupt. He has not been convicted of anything. Our ABC is clearly confident that it won't be sued.

I can't recall how long ago I read or heard that the Obeid family owned the cafes at Circular Quay where we have eaten a few times, but it was years not months.

Happy face that all this is coming out at but sad face that NSW has been so corrupt for so long.

Much thanks for the exposure must go to Sydney Morning Herald journalist Kate McCylmont.  She is a tenacious and brave gem and she has not received a public gong yet afaik, and she should very soon.

Very sad face that this mostly happened under Labor Party watch. NSW Labor, and its controlling right wing. Labor's right wing has truly scary for a long time. Whatever will come out when a former and quite old NSW Labor Premier dies??? We will live in nifty times.

Mother's Electric

Mother's electric supply and billing has almost become beyond my understanding.

In January this year she was door knocked and signed up for a two year contract for discounted electricity with Tru Energy, her existing company, she thought. It quickly became apparent to her that it was not the same company but Tru Energy NSW, a different state and a different company. She did not like that and within the cooling off period requested a cancellation of the contract and to be returned to Tru Energy Victoria.

In spite of several phone calls she has made since then, she has not had an electric bill. Mother barely manages to pay her electric bill, in fact I paid her bill for the last quarter of last year. As for saving up for a big bill like a bill of many months electric supply of perhaps over $1000, no, that is not my mother.

It has been an ongoing worry for Mother. It should be a worry for us kids as we will be the ones who have to pay. While I already knew, I printed out a fact sheet from the Energy Ombudsman website saying that she could not billed for electricity any further back than nine months and that she will be given an equal time to pay. It is now past the nine months so Mother will now have free electricity due to electric company incompetence.

I called Mother to tell her not make any more calls about her non existent electric bill, as she will now have free electricity. Mother was one step ahead of me though.

She received letters of demand to know her identity from Origin Energy. She ignored the first. The second letter advised her that her power may be disconnected.

Now while Mother may behave like a silly schoolgirl most of the time, do not threaten Mother. Never threaten Mother. I have vague childhood memories of Mother being threatened and she turned into a smart and self assured person very quickly.

Late afternoon she called Social Security about the electric company that threatened to cut off her electricity. They advised her to call the company at 8am, no matter what time their opening hours were. She stewed and fretted on it overnight. Mother doesn't usually rise until 9am but by 7am she was up, showered and dressed and called Tru Energy Victoria, which as usual said she owed them nothing. She called Tru Energy NSW who told her they had transferred her to Origin Energy. Why? She wanted to be transferred back to Tru Energy Vic within a cooling off period. But it was Origin who threatened to cut her supply off, so she saved herself for them. I am 82 years old, wrong, she is 79, I have a heart condition, not so, I have no one to help me, untrue, ABI lives five minutes away, I have a personal alarm system that relies on a supply of electricity, that is true.

We are terribly sorry Mrs C. We will look into our methods of notification. You were transferred to us in August and you should receive a bill soon, but only back to August.

So it looks like Mother will only have to pay electricity back to August, which is the normal three month billing period, and had free electricity from January to August. That is if the bill does arrive. Mother asked Origin to be transferred to Tru Energy Victoria, as she originally requested. This may go on for a long time yet.

How can companies be so incompetent? It is beyond belief. What should be so simple seems to happen like you are the first person in the world to alter something. Like this example from James, or my own when I wanted to change my phone data plan.

What world do I live in? Thanks goodness there are birds and trees to look at. They make sense.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Matters ABC

With a slight edit for public consumption
To ABC Melbourne
CC to Australia Traffic Network.

I really wish the ATN traffic reporters for ABC Melbourne would not describe when a motorcyclist falls off their bike or is knocked off by a motor vehicle, as ‘a motorcyclist is down on the inbound lane...’. It sounds disrespectful towards someone who may be injured or dead, as if they were a pin knocked down by a bowling ball.

Murgatroyd  Willis-Smythe
North Balwyn

I really wish I had remembered to take this on our recent road trip holiday. It would have saved much scanning for ABC radio stations. A few days into our holiday I made a check online for some frequency details and wrote them down. To my surprise, Canberra does not have digital radio, so my digital radio was useless as soon as we left Melbourne, except for FM which it also receives. The car of course can get AM and FM, so we listened to a mix of local regional radio on AM and FM, News Radio and Radio National. Thank god at home we have ABC Melbourne as most of the ABC local regional radio stations were pretty ordinary, including Canberra. This list is quite old and may be out of date, but I think it would have been helpful.

What is not helpful is that Melbourne no longer has an ABC Shop after the GPO cleared its tenants out. We have to make do with an area within a commercial bookshop. I hope there are plans to re-open elsewhere.

I forget where I heard the broadcast but Ian Mannix, who I seem to recall was once boss of ABC Melbourne and now heads ABC Emergency, spoke about the effort that has gone into ABC Emergency. The ABC is Australia's prime source of information during disasters. He was very impressive and so much work, thought and studies have gone into planning for emergency broadcasting. ABC has its own emergency website, . I think the ABC costs each person about 11 cents per day now. By golly, we get good value for that. For three times the population, the BBC costs ten times as much.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Attending a Melbourne Symphony Orhcestra Concert

No, I haven't gone all posh and arty on you. The performance was at Southern Cross Station, or Spencer Street as people my age prefer to call it. The MSO played the same Beethoven 30 second piece over and over and over again, for a couple of hours. Boring? Not at all, as each time there was a different conductor.

The great unwashed lined up to conduct the orchestra and some were absolutely fantastic. The volume of applause was more connected to visual performance of the conductor, rather than his or or her skill with the baton.

Not known to me, but the better half of Anthony Malloy dot com was also in the audience.

I stood on the steps for a while, viewing from a bit above, but I then got down in the mosh pit among the crowd. Top marks to the station staff who allowed people to stand on one side of the stairs while keeping the rest free for train travellers.

It was an absolute hoot and I could not help grinning, laughing and feeling very happy. Thanks MSO.

Here are some photos of the orchestra, the guest conductors and a video of one conductor. Men with blue hair are usually outgoing.

'Tis a lass with the baton.

Not much in the way of flourishes, but she had a go.

I know pianissimo,  but for a minute or so I was puzzled about feelitsmo. Feel it MSO. Get it?

She was a good laugh.

He was really good, and I think came back for a second crack.

I missed a couple of seconds at the beginning. This bloke was quite accomplished. I must say, after half an hour or so, I was heartily sick of the same piece of music.