Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Holiday

River cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam, booked and paid for.

For extra days in advance in Budapest, accommodation in Buda booked and paid for.

Hotel accommodation in Lancaster Gate, London, booked and paid for.

Eurostar from Brussels to London booked and paid for.

Looked at times but too early yet to book Thalys train from Amsterdam to Brussels. The same for train from London to Newcastle. Need to book train from Newcastle to Manchester to fly out. An option will be a return train trip from Newcastle to Edinburgh.

It is a holiday, and I am not focusing on prices. If I did, I would never leave home because I would complain about the $60 taxi trip to the airport instead of being able to catch our non existent train to the airport. But gee, train travel in Europe is very expensive. It better damn well work or we will end up sleeping on the sofas of  Jane and Lance's in Budapest,  Peter's in Amsterdam, Gattina's in Brussels and Marie's in London.

It is quite amazing that co-coincidently I have blog mates in all those places. I am equally excited and apprehensive about our holiday.

Pride March 2014

I haven't been to every one, but I was certainly at the first and this year is the nineteenth annual Pride March. Pride March takes place along St Kilda's Fitzroy Street and concludes with an afterparty in the Catani Gardens at the bottom of Fitzroy Street.

The forecast temperature was 39 degrees and I was really not sure that it was good idea to go. But we gathered up our skirts and made the effort.  A temporary rainbow crossing was quickly painted on Fitzroy Street.

We used to have lunch on the street before the 2pm parade at the three decade old Monroes, but it closed and changed to Rococo. They did well for us last year but for some reason known only to them, they did not open until 1pm, too late for us who were there at noon.

Here come the police marching, led by Chief Commissioner Lay. 

A couple of our friends arrived earlier and ensconced themselves at Leo's Spaghetti Bar, another decades old St Kilda institution. They would not move tables around for our larger group, but there was a couple of tables joined together with seating for eight. We sweated on it and eventually got it. Perfect.

Yes, love your kids, the gay ones, the straight ones and the confused ones.

Do you know how hard it is for a drag queen to appear in daylight, let alone in stinking hot weather?

Nice fan.

Pulling up at the rear, 'is that an odour from the admirers?'

Australia's oldest and longest running gay radio station, Joy Melbourne. I don't really listen now aside from a podcast I download, Techno Gayze.  The rather grand house in the background belonged to disgraced television personality, and convicted tax cheat Steve Vizard. At least he didn't do a Rolf.

At Leo's I felt we were being watched by management, as if we were all going to jump up and run away without paying the bill. Given the oldest among us was 70, it was most unlikely.

There may be one of those shirt lifter types among the Melbourne Pipe Band, but no matter. The band was most excellent.

A real novelty here, an Asian drag queen and another with a very tight looking set of bosoms. While bosoms are not of great interest to me, I find watching the more genuine wobbling jelly type far more interesting.

Bone Doctor and Little Jo were going to come and march, but decided no once they heard the forecast temperature. As far as I saw, Rainbow Families weren't present this year. I didn't see Yellow Kitties this year, Asian Lesbians, nor quite a few other multicultural groups. I did note Greek and Gay and Aleph, the Jewish male? gay group.

Bernadi is an Australian Government Senator and a US comparison might be Sarah Palin.  He is an absolute ****wit and only in parliament because of the way our upper house Senate works.

There were six of us who lunched at Leo's. After we paid the bill, we then had coffee and had another bill. Including what those who 'called in' for a while and paid cash to us, the bill was well over $300. The staff were quite good but inexperienced backpackers doing a temporary job. They tried and what more can you ask. That was $300 plus that did not go into the coffers of Rococo because they did not open until 1pm. Its loss.

Emergency Services Victoria marched. They have subsequently been quite busy with fires.

Whore Pride, don't you love it.

Trams were not running in Fitzroy Street until after 4.30. We needed to walk to St Kilda Junction in the heat to get a tram home. Our friend offered us a lift home. We walked up Fitzroy Street and climbed the Princes Street hill to his car, which was stinking hot. He kindly drove us home, but it was probably as easy to catch the tram at St Kilda Junction. A nice person in Princes Street was looking after thirsty dogs, and I am sure any other critter who wanted a drink.


Friday, February 14, 2014

A Murder Most 'Orrible

A truly awful murder was committed not too far from where Older Niece lives. A father, who's ex wife said that she could never imagine him hurting their son and who loved him deeply, beat his son to death, possibly with a cricket bat after the 12 year old boy had been playing a local game of cricket. After the father murdered his son, he threatened police to the point where they were in danger and they shot him dead. Two deaths, one a gorgeous young boy and someone who should not have been given any opportunity to be in such a position and state.

The father was mentally ill and had a long history of contact with police.  He should have been in gaol as there were warrants out for his arrest and he had already served time in gaol. Apparently, our police force's IT system is very old and that as why he had not been arrested earlier, as he should have been.

Can we conclude that Vic Pol, the Victorian Police are saying that that the murder was all just the result of their antiquated computer system. Sorry, not my mistake. A computer problem.

There will be statements, opinions such as mine, investigations, recriminations but at the end of the day a kid is dead, killed by someone who should have been in gaol or in care.

Vale Luke Batty.


More on words. Aren't they so fascinating. A mondegreen is pretty well defined as misheard and repeated song lyrics. I have many. I expect you have some too and do tell us what they are.

The word Modegreen comes from,  (a straight copy from Wikipedia)

American writer Sylvia Wright coined the term in her essay "The Death of Lady Mondegreen", published in Harper's Magazine in November 1954.

In the essay, Wright described how, as a young girl, she misheard the last line of the first stanza from the 17th-century ballad "The Bonnie Earl o' Moray". She wrote:

When I was a child, my mother used to read aloud to me from Percy's Reliques, and one of my favorite poems began, as I remember:
Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands,
Oh, where hae ye been?
They hae slain the Earl o' Moray,
And Lady Mondegreen.
The actual fourth line is "And laid him on the green.

While I do know better,  I simply cannot correct in my head the lyrics to this song. Chook is Australian slang for chicken.

You tell me Macy Gray does not sing 'Goodbye my chook'. Actually, it does not sound so much like it when you watch the video, so don't watch, just listen.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Hideous Weather

Two cruise ships were in port today. The passengers would not have thought of Melbourne well. We have had a couple of days of being covered by smoke from bushfires and very high humidity, with at least another day to go. The smoke makes our eyes sore. This is not usual Melbourne weather, and I feel sorry for local people who have an evaporative cooling system. They are quite useless in this weather.

It's all in a name #81

How old am I? So old I should have known all of this. Yes, I did not connect the name Hermione to how it is said. Funnily I hear people mispronounce the word hyperbole all the time. It was one that I mispronounced in my head years ago, but I learnt the correct pronunciation a long time ago. I've never found a reason to insert in into conversation and so therefore mispronounce it.

But I am still learning and here are a couple of my recent clangers.

Everyone knows of The Three Musketeers? Well heard of them perhaps. One of the characters in the story is D'Artagnan. I have read the word before, and heard the word before, but I never connected them. This goes way back to childhood.

It may have idly crossed my mind about how to pronounce Siobahn when I have read the name in the past, but I saw no reason to really find out. I was gobsmacked when I connected the written to the spoken just last week. I have the blood of many nations, including Irish I would guess. I feel shame. You go off and do your own research if you don't know. If that is too hard, listen to how Siobahn is pronounced when Siobahn Blewitt speaks about finance on ABC Melbourne at around 6.55 weekdays. 

I am getting old. How much more of this nonsense do I have to learn?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

More LED

The building management committee is trialling LED lamps as replacement for fluoro tubes in the car park. While the fittings hold two tubes each, one from each was removed about four years ago and it honestly did not reduce the lighting by much at all.

Then a year or so later, the tubes were replaced with longer lasting and much more energy efficient tubes. They can be identified by a green ring at the end of tube. I was not so happy about them all being replaced at once and presumably the old ones thrown out. They should have been progressively replaced as they failed. I wonder if the same will happen with these.

I tried to take photos but it was impossible. The lights seem to stay on dully all the time and then brighten when movement is detected. The light is very cold, but I suppose that is ok for a carpark. There seems to be two models being tested, one where you can see each individual LED and one where they are shielded and they appear as normal fluoro tubes. There must be over one hundred tubes in the car park, many in the stairwells and in other utility areas. The running cost savings will be considerable.

Ok, I've looked at some information and two 36 watt tubes are replaced with one 19 watt tube. When movement is undetected, the wattage drops to 6 watts and still provides security lighting. Oh dear, these seem to cost upwards of $250 each. That surely can't be correct.

Here is a photo of the two types of LEDs that I think are under consideration and this link has some further information.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Improved Public Transport?

I receive Twitter updates to my phone from Yarra Trams, Metro Trains and VLine (country). Until I added them to my Twitter feed, I never realised quite how disastrous Melbourne's and Victoria's public transport system is. Tweeting delays might be good customer service in these social media times, but it does not paint a good picture of our public transport.

The only state government I can recall that was serious about public transport was the Cain Labor government in the eighties, but so much money was misspent and wasted.

The present Liberal state government did not win on promises of improved public transport. The previous government may well have lost on the lack of improvement to public transport.

You see kiddies, you can't just keep increasing the population without providing more services, including public transport. The $8 billion that is to spent on the Fox Tunnel, East West Link, to principally benefit freight companies is a disgrace. $8 billion could help our public transport system rather a lot. It could also help with the grossly inadequate roads in our very outer suburbs where developer mates of our state governing Liberal Party make mega profits from land development of what was good farmland.

I was ambivalent about the East West Tunnel when it was announced. But the more I heard about it, the more of a shocking waste of money it seemed to be. Big road expansion projects are only ever a temporary solution and quickly fill with more traffic.

I don't drive on country roads very often, but I hear the long and loud complaints about the deterioration of country roads. Huge amounts are spent on freeways, toll roads and town bypasses, but so little on maintenance of local roads in the country, that is the ones people drive on all the time. 

Even the state government's promises haven't been kept. How much does a simple railway station on an existing line cost? I shouldn't think that much, yet there is still no Southland railway station. That the centre was allowed to be built at all without a station when the line went past was wrong.

Most of what seems to be happening was planned and funded by the previous government, from new trains, trams and the Regional Rail Link.

Possibly the state government could give me a long list of its own transport projects and achievements, but it needs to remember, politics is as much about impressions as facts and the impression is not good.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Matters Family

Where do I start. The new is where I will start. Oldest Niece is with child and due towards to end of March. It's around the time of Mother's and R's birthday, when Mother turns eighty. Harking back to times past, Mother wants to celebrate her birthday at the Cuckoo restaurant in the Dandenong Ranges. It is a Swiss themed buffet venue with entertainment. She said she went there for her sixtieth. I can't remember. It is $55 per head, but the food is ok and varied and there is entertainment, if traditional Swiss dancing and an oompah band is entertainment.

Mother finally received all her electricity bills and she owes about $900. As far as I can see, she got away with three months of free electricity. 'Mother, you know that $20 you put away each week towards your electric bill....?' 'No Andrew. I  did not put money away.' No, that is not how she operates. I gave her $150 towards it. I expect Sister gave her some money. Acquired Brain Injury Brother does her daily shopping and sleeps at her place on weekends as she is afraid of being alone, but he won't give her a cent. He will lend her money, but no more until the amount lent is repaid. Not sure what Tradie Brother gives her. The electric company has given her a card and asked her to pay a bit here and there when she can. This is what suits Mother. She is a person of the layby era. Pay it off over time. Most of our very expensive childhood clothes were bought on layby. Later edit: She has been asked to pay $50 per fortnight as she must pay for her current electric bills as well.

Non Dreaded Nephew is going to South America with his partner to follow the World Cup Soccer mid year. He is busy putting out an ongoing fire in the Dargo High Plains and has been there for weeks. They are leaning Spanish. Little Jo knows rather a lot of Spanish, including a Spanish translation of The Magic Pudding.

Speaking of which, Sister, Bone Doctor and Little Jo stayed earlier in the week as after three attempts, Sister finally got tickets to a RocKwiz recording at the Esplanade Hotel in St Kilda. The child was tired after a day at school and an eighty minute car trip and was asleep by 8.30 and did not wake until 7.15.

Sister hasn't told Mother yet, but they are going to Bright with an overnight stay at Euroa as Mother does not like a long time in a car. Mother has always wanted to see Bright, but never has. Of course she will protest about it. There will be many complications. We'll see.

All seems to be ok with Chainsaw Niece and her Maori partner. I still fear for the future. Her father, Tradie Brother, has had a word with her partner, but I don't know how it went. 

ABI Brother is all set for his very expensive tour of South Africa, following the cricket test. While it is costly, he will be well looked after. He couldn't do it on his own. He will see Cape Town, Victoria Falls and Kruger National Park. I think it will be a rather good trip. Mother is dreading her daily help being away.

Mother hates this photo, but I don't why. It is about six years old and is on our fridge as part of a photo collage. She looks a bit older and thin faced now, but not so different. OMG R, his sister and myself are in the adjacent photo, back in 2008. Don't look.

If you wonder who all these people are, you can check on the Cast List link. It needs a little edit, but is reasonably up to date.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

A stroll to town

This will do for Sunday Selections. River usually posts and sometimes Jackie.

I walked into the city quite early because it was going to be a hot day, like 39 degrees. It is quite different taking photos in the morning, with the sun on the wrong side of they sky.

Down the bottom of this floral display is an unrecognisable word planted with flowers. The statue is of Marquess of Linlithgow. Later edit: Diabetes is the word. 

A memorial to those lost in the Boer War.

The very upmarket apartment block The Melburnian replaced Prince Henry's Hospital, known earlier as the Melbourne Homoeopathic Hospital. The hospital closed in 1991. Inner Melbourne still has two large public hospitals, The Royal Melbourne and The (Prince) Alfred.

Out of focus but it is a statue of Colonel Sir Ernest Edward "Weary" Dunlop, AC, CMG, OBE. He was apparently a very good man.  

Eureka, Melbourne's tallest building and Australia's tallest residential building.

The memorial to police killed while on duty. Their names are inscribed on the wall.

Uphold the Right. I wasn't aware it had changed form French to English. It used to be Tenez le Droit.

The Walker Fountain, built with funds donated by Ron Walker. The less said about him the better.

I've never seen  the hardy plant agapanthus burnt like this, no doubt during our heat wave of four successive days over 40 degrees.

I am not good with English royalty, so I am not sure if Edward VII was ever a king.

Usually people take photos of the floral clock from the bottom rather than the top. I can see why. The floral clock was a gift from watchmakers of Switzerland. Seems I have a sticky lens. Don't you just hate been sticky.

Work has been going on in this part of the Queen Victoria Gardens for more than a year. Since water is not flowing, it seems there is more to do.

There is that sun on the wrong side of the sky again.

What's that in the distance?

The water is very muddy, indicating something had disturbed it. There were plenty of workmen around.

A separate pond, with the water grey in this one.

There is some kind of floating weed under these nets. Men in waders were on the far side of the water.

The flowers lining the path towards the city are past their prime. The four days of heat made everything past their prime. Certainly me.

Yes, I thought so, a piano.

Two older women sitting in contemplation. One arrived on a wheelchair.

The Pathfinder, a sculpture of an Olympic hammer thrower. People steal the hammer so it is only in place for about six hours.

The entrance to the Victorian National Gallery of Australia. In front of the glass water wall is advertising for the Melbourne Now exhibition. The evil former State Premier Kennett wanted to get rid of the glass wall with water running down it, but the public revolted and forced a redraw of renovation plans.