Saturday, November 09, 2013

How bad can The Abbott be

A week or so ago Prime Minister Abbott was at the annual Science awards where he gives a personal Prime Minister's science prize. He spoke of course, as politicians do, and lauded Australian scientists and their work, discoveries and achievements. I actually thought he was sincere and I felt a sense of relief. The Abbott knows how important science is and it will be well funded under his government.

ABC RN Science Show presenter Robyn Williams expressed a view that The Abbott was pleased that his speech would be in part be on the RN Science Show. 

The two faced bastard.

Waterfront City

Remember in Sunday Selections I showed you how my doona cover was coming apart? We thought we would visit Waterfront City at Docklands to see if there might be something appropriate and cheap. The shop was shut.

But first we went to look at some classic cars at the Exhibition Buildings. It was a fully paid event, so the best I could do was peer over a fence at a delightful P5 Rover. Opposite the event is what is known as The Engine House, an old cable tram engine house that ceased to operate when the last cable tram line in Melbourne closed in 1940. It has had a variety of other public transport uses and I believe it's still owned by the government.

On the opposite corner is Royal Terrace, a row of ten houses built in 1854. They are holding up well.

Now this is more like Docklands.

It wasn't unpleasant there, as it often is if it is hot, cold or windy.


Is the purple hue a trick of the eyes? I don't know.

Our large and broken and very embarrassing ferris wheel is nearly ready to rotate again. Well there was that time a while ago when someone forgot to secure it and it started up with the force of the wind.

Cold, cool, getting warmer, getting warm, hot, red hot.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Just so wrong

I wasn't there so I did not hear the details of the court proceedings and what may be mitigating circumstances.

Isn't that what they say when the public expresses dissatisfaction at a sentence for criminal behaviour? You need to listen to the whole court case.

So Kieran Loveridge marauds around King Cross in Sydney, punching people at random. One of those he punched died as a result of his punch. The often less than impressive NSW police force for once stepped up to the crease and identified the assailant, gathered good evidence, presented a good case to the court and then what happened? The police did their job well and Loveridge was found guilty.

And then it all goes wrong when he is sentenced. Four years gaol, for multiple assaults, one resulting in a death.

I expect the Crown Prosecuter will appeal the sentence. It damn well ought to.  After all, Loveridge did kill someone, and it was hardly an accident. The sentence was clearly inadequate.

Please speak up and tell me where my thinking has gone wrong and why the assailant should not have been locked up for 25 years.

Google Reader and its demise

I used to use Google Reader for catching up on blogs. As soon as you published it, it was there for me to read. It made it so easy to keep up with blogs without having to check each blog individually to see if the person had written something new. It also became useful for other things, such as when a new podcast had become available from different websites and there was a link included to download the podcast. I am voracious downloader of podcast.

Before Google Reader, I used Bloglines, at the suggestion of Tony. Thanks Tony.

Then Google Reader announced it was closing down. I looked at options. Feedly didn't seem too bad, but I had also heard about The Old Reader. It was closest to Google Reader and I really liked it. So did others. I transferred to it early, but as Google Reader closed, so did many and the site was overwhelmed as were the people who ran it. They struggled for a while and then admitted defeat.

A white knight stepped up to the crease with I think with a move to servers on a different continent and all seemed to be good. But then the transition did not go well. For several days it did not work. At times it would work and other times not. It was slow. It was clunky. But I stuck with it.

My faith was justified. It now works really well and I am amazed at what I can get on the internet for free, The Old Reader being one such thing.

I don't understand how Twitter can be launched on the stock market for a huge price when it has never made a profit, in fact monster losses. Not do I understand what sort of economic model The Old Reader uses. I don't see anything commercial about it. In fact it has kept its original homey style with this sort of message on the odd occasion now when it does not work.

Most probably we are deploying some new cool features right now. This might take a minute or two, so by the time you return from the kitchen with a sandwich we'll probably be back online.
If you are not hungry, you can spend some time looking at this random picture of a kitten. Our studies show that constantly refreshing the main page until you stop seeing kittens makes our deploys faster.

Last weekend when out for dinner I heard a track playing softly on the musak system. I became obsessed by it. I wanted to hear it properly. It was Billy Idol track. Once home and in bed with the notebook, I checked You Tube for the track and listened to it loudly through head phones. I normally don't approve of loud music, unless it is something I like. I have come to understand how the Google and You Tube make money. I went to update my phone apps today by going to the Google Play Store app on my phone, and there was an ad for a Billy Idol album.

Some may see it at intrusive. I don't, and I am quite happy with all this free stuff I get on the internet. I won't buy the Billy Idol album, but I don't mind it as a suggestion.

Hopefully, The Old Reader is back and working. But if it isn't now, it will be tomorrow. If it isn't then, there are still alternatives.

But is it art?

I should save this for April 1st and tell you all about the terrible tram crash. But it is not even a tram, just a sculpture.

This may not be a backpacker,  but I did assist one who could not work out which side of the river he was on. He wanted to be on the south side where he had booked his backpacker accommodation. I pointed to the big building He had just left and pointed on the map, Southern Cross Station. Keep walking the same way and cross the bridge. Sorry about the colour of the water in the river and stay clear of the large palace of gambling glitz and bad taste on the south bank.

It seems strange yet effective to show the underside workings. I assume they are fairly correct. I can see the watchamacallit there, the thingymabob there and the doovery whatsit at the top. Ah yes, I can see round things too. They must be wheels.

It even has a pole to pick up the electricity from the wires or from lightening. I heard that it is lit internally at night, emanating a nice warm glow.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Warragul, the end.

Before I went to Warragul, I looked at what was there to fill in a couple of hours. I saw on the electric map a park with lakes. I thought it would be worth a walk out of the town it itself. It was a wonderful park.

It is quite a large area, next to the Shire Offices.

This nice pond overflows to run down into another pond where there are fountain jets.

Plenty of flowers and colour against a green backdrop.

The front of the Baw Baw Shire Offices.

I spied a nice and very Australian house as I walked back into town.

The Courthouse, now a popular and fashionable place to dine, and probably get good coffee. It really is a struggle to get good coffee once away from Melbourne.

Is this greyish white building the bank my father used to use? Maybe. I really can't recall. The car traffic in Warragul was quite overwhelming but it was interesting to note that there seems to be more 4wds and SUV's in the Malvern Coles supermarket carpark than in the whole of country Warragul.

Boxer Lionel Rose died a bit too young. As was said in the nineties, he was ace, but with fragility.

An odd feature in the park near the railway line.

Roses roses, I love them. Daniel sat in this park with his children some years ago while they ate take away food. It was a park we used to stop at when I was a child to eat a ham sandwich and share a bottle soft drink, probably lemonade. Mother and my grandparents would have poured tea from a Thermos flask. I think an old black steam train engine used to sit in the park, but I am not sure.Maybe it was on the siding track next to the park.

More fine buildings.

Clerestory windows light the now tiny public area of the station.

What were the platform staff called? Back then it was nearly always a man. Once the train guard waved the green flag, the man closed the gate and you had missed your train. Sometimes the gate was closed while the train was still there, but you didn't call the gatekeeper an effing c for not not letting you through the gate. He was a person of authority and respected. He would shelter from the weather in his little sentry box.

Sad face now, the old and unused goods shed.

More sad face. There is room after room like this one. What did they all hold? The workings and offices of a busy railway station.

The clerestory windows from the inside lighting the beautiful timber roof and ceiling.

In days of past the train would often stop for 15 or 20 minutes at Warragul and travellers would leave the train to head for the refreshment room.Thick white catering cups and sauces would be lined up with huge silver pots of tea and coffee ready. Sandwiches and cake would have been prepared and the pie warmers full. If you wanted something a little stronger, the bar was also staffed, with old timers tossing down a glass of beer, a whiskey chaser and a second beer before the train whistle would alert passengers to hurry back to the train. I was sixteen and I wasn't questioned about my age when I once bought a beer. Now, catering consists of a single coffee machine which I doubt would work with the water bottle empty. But change is good, so the call goes out by those who want to reduce costs and increase profits.

Did someone suffer a bout of Myki madness and thrown their card onto the tracks in disgust?

Train timetables once lined the wall, showing connecting services and all you would need to know about local trains. Now, there is probably a bus to catch outside.

The N class Gippslander arrived a little later than the scheduled time of 2.47. While there are station staff there, no announcement was made about the delayed train. None of this uncomfortable seating and noisy kids for me. I had booked first class. It was a reasonably comfortable trip and nowhere near full, so I had plenty of space. The carriage was way too heated and stuffy and the persistent squeak on my morning Sprinter train had been replaced by the occasional creak from the suspension. 

Like the Geelong train, the journey home takes longer, in this case the down trip was 1 hour 27 minutes from So Cross and the return journey 1hour 32 to Flinders Street, add 5 minutes to So Cross and you have 1 hour 37. Although the the locomotive is a little slower than the Sprinter, it only briefly reached 112 km/h on the return trip, it doesn't really explain ten minutes more. As it was the train was only 6 minutes late at Dandenong, but back to 10 minutes late at Flinders Street.

I wonder where the next train trip will take me. Bendigo is a bit long but maybe. Ballarat? Stony Point? It won't be for a while now.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Gambling can be good and bad

Melbourne Cup Results

R, TAB outgoings $38.50. Incoming $105.90. Win.

Me, TAB outgoings $22.40. Incoming $11.30. Fail.

Photographic Brilliance

Great photos pop up at They are big sized and for your pure enjoyment, I won't reduce them, but blogger might.

What better compliment can you give than say it is a very atmospheric photograph. Trains absolutely changed the world. Respect.

The lad's expression is priceless, as is the woman's. Mazza does not look fat or Rubenesque at all. In more modern parlance, I wouldn't call her chunky.

 I immediately knew who this is. Do you? "Just you wait 'Enry 'Iggins, just you wait."

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

The Gippslander

Gippsland is a region in our State of Victoria to the east of Melbourne and stretches to the New South Wales border. The Gippslander is one of the trains that services the area. I say this advisedly, as it has not serviced the section from Traralgon to Bairnsdale for many months because of train detection problems at level crossings. It is almost unbelievable that it has taken this long to restore the service. There was clearly no will to rush. It has finally began to run again from the 31st of October. The locals must be excited by its return.

I decided to make a trip to Warragul by train. I have strong childhood memories of Warragul. It was where my father's solicitor and bank were and in the early days of us living it Gippsland, a weekly shopping destination. It was also a stopping point for a break on the journey from my grandparents in Oakleigh and the farm north of Warragul.

Never mind the FKN line, what about my train? The text does not quite fit the board. The Traralgon train is at 11.30 but I initially saw it as 1.30. The train left on time, 11.30 and arrived on time, 12.57. The time passed quickly.

This train is not in service and at a new platform that is not yet in service.

I am on the train. I expected it to be a Vlocity train, but it was a Sprinter, same sort of thing, but older. I have never been on a Sprinter train before and although the seats were comfortable, there was a terrible squeaking. The podcast I was listening to could not drown out the noise, although my podcast did drown out the conductor when he asked to see my ticket. He quite aggressively tapped me on the shoulder three times. People travel on these Sprinter trains for long periods. The squeaking really was intolerable. I could have moved towards the back of the train, full of kids, but I thought the squeaking was the less of two evils. It is probably time that Sprinters were replaced.

A woman left her pram in the luggage area while she tried to deal with her five children under five. She did not put the pram brake on. It rammed the suitcase belonging to to the woman above a few times as it sailed back and forth  with the train braking and accelerating. I hope the woman above did not have ├ęclairs in her suitcase.

I alighted at Warragul Station. After our Geelong train trip when the down Vlocity travelled quite fast maybe at 160km/h, I looked at google maps on my phone to see if it could measure speed. Apparently not, so this time I was armed with a speed measuring app. Top speed of the Sprinter, above, was 120 km/h.

I existed the station and walked down to the main street at the corner of Queen Street and Smith Street. I don't remember this clock being there.

In the late 19th century many of the timber shops and businesses were burnt down, in one case a whole street going up. The buildings that replaced were mostly fine Victorian buildings and many of them survive.

I think this used to be called the Criterion Hotel. It is now La Porchetta, a pizza restaurant.

The Shire Hall, which I expect when I was young, was the Shire Hall. It now houses a museum and the local historical and genealogy societies.

My childhood memories of the bridge over the railway line are defective. It is not nearly as steep or as twisting as I remembered it to be.

This was and still is a solicitors office. I remembered the wrought iron fencing.

One of these shops or where the new shop is was a restaurant and Mother has since reminded me, soup, a delicious roast main course and a fine desert for 6 shillings. The food arrived, much to our fascination, in a dumb waiter from below. The staff below sent the food up and the serving staff hauled on the thick rope to sent the used dishes back down.

Pretty roundabout. Not so pretty modern shops.

The war memorial surrounded by a nice garden. There were lots of annual flowers in beds in Warragul. You rarely see them nowadays.

Warragul is located within the Shire of Baw Baw and the Shire has a no smoking policy in shopping areas as well as many other areas. I think it is somewhat overkill, but I must say, it was nice to not see butts lying around on the footpaths.

I headed out of town for a bit. Guess what this? Wrong. It was but it has a another use now.

Quite a reasonable view as I climbed the hill to the north of the town.

This may or may not be an operating church.

See the chimneys on the other side of the valley? When we were kids my brother and I were convinced they burnt bodies there. They are actually the hospital's boiler chimneys.

This scene looked ok to my eyes, but clearly not the camera lens. There are some very nice houses. It is such a contrast to the similarly aged town of Moe, about 20 minutes away. It feels like there is some wealth in Warragul, not so in Moe.

Melbourne's rhododendrons have pretty well finished flowering now. It is a good bit cooler in Warragul and so they bloom later. Behind is part of the Baw Baw Shire offices and arts complex.

Where does this attractive looking path go? You will see in the second part of my journey.