Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Scot in Budapest

I has been looking as stuffs in Budapest, as we will be visiting the city for a couple of days. As you descend on the funicular from Castle Hill in Hungarian Buda, the Chain Bridge comes clearly into view.

Look, you can see it in this Wikipedia photo. To locals its name is (copy and paste) Széchenyi. It was the first permanent bridge across the Danube, connecting the separate towns of Buda and Pest. The photo below is well worth clicking to see some detail.

Without the engineering expertise, Hungary, specifically the statesman Széchenyi after whom the bridge is named, turned to the British and was rather impressed by Hammersmith Bridge over the River Thames and Marlow Bridge in Buckinghamshire, both designed by William Tierney Clark. Clark drew up plans for the first permanent bridge to link Buda and Pest and with Scottish born Adam Clark (no relation) supervising the project, the bridge opened in 1849.

Now 1848/49 were significant years in European history with an unsuccessful revolution against the Hapsburg Empire. The Austrians wanted to blow up the almost finished bridge, but Adam Clark flooded the chain chambers and prevented them from doing so. The Scot became a Hungarian hero.

Back here I posted a You Tube video of the splendid Buda Hill funicular from the outside, rather than as a passenger.  Here is the view from the inside of the funicular as it ascends the hill.

Friday, March 21, 2014

An easier life

Today, Friday, was much more like normal. We breakfasted in Prahran and then did the weekly shopping, which was easy as we did not need much. Have we been out a bit lately?

R went off to wash his car in the afternoon, while I did computer stuff. Well, I tried. Things since the reload were missing. Spell check, for instance. I wrote tomorrow's blog post and not a single wavy red line under anything. Ah, spell check. There is one for IE that R uses, and one for Firefox that I use. Fixed.

We looked at a restaurant website and clicked on the menu link. Ah, no pdf reader. Fixed.

I started working on photos for Sunday's post. Ah, on dvd. Transferred them. Fixed, photos I need are back.

Went to download photos from the camera, but the software was missing. This caused much botheration. I installed the software on the note book last year before we went on holidays so I could back up photos. By comparing the system on the note book to the new one downloaded today, I got the settings right. Fixed.

But I need to save them in Drop Box too. Installed Drop Box, not as easy as the first time I did it, but fixed.

Oh, but where is the right click image resizer? Fixed. 

The battle with Windows Live Mail has been long and bitter. Bring back the simplicity of Outlook Express. R went to send an email and realised he did not have his own identity. Fixed, but we seem to be getting emails in duplicate. Pain!

Of course there was the virus checker to install.

March is a busy month for birthdays, with R's tomorrow, Mother's Monday, Step Mother's on Thursday and now Great Niece on 18th. "Print the envelope for your step mother's card will you", was asked. Ah, no printer software. Fixed.

Note to self, you need three days of time, or 12 hours of straight sitting to reload Windows and get things back to normal.

Neglected Blog

I have a week off work. I should be writing brilliant blog posts, but I have struggled to get something together each day.

Sunday we set off for the Bellarine Peninsula to visit Sister. We had been looking after dog Jack for a few days, but as his mummy had not returned from Tasmania, we dropped him off at her ex's place. She made us coffee and by 10.30 we were Bellarine bound. We stopped for a cold drink at the North Geelong Scottish Restaurant, aka the Golden Arches, and by 12 we were at sister's. She made us lunch and we went out for a long walk. When we returned, I felt quite unwell, see previous post, and it was rather flat Sunday night for me.

Next morning after Little Jo went to school and Bone Doctor and Sister to work, we tidied the place up and set of to Jirrahlinga Wildlife Sanctuary at Barwon Heads. It houses injured animals and some animals who had owners who could not longer look after them. More on Jirrahlinga and photos in a later post. We had a look around Barwon Heads and the place where Mother stayed for her seventieth birthday along with late Step Father, as a guest of Sister was still there. It was a place featured in the Sea Change tv show. We went on to the viewing spot known as The Bluff and then we had a small lunch and coffee at The Dunes, just out of Ocean Grove. We stopped off in Ocean Grove for a wander at the shops and then returned to Sister's and rested.

We walked Sister's dog to Little Jo's school and collected her at 3.30. I had been told dogs were not allowed on school property and that I would have to wait on the oval. Just inside the school entrance were seats and a mother sitting there with Samoyed. I sat there with dog Fuzzy while R went inside to collect Little Jo.

Once home, R and Little Jo did craft and reading and eventually watched kids tv.

Bone Doctor works within walking distance from home and returned at 4 to collect her bike to make rounds at the local nursing home. Sister returned at 4.30 and after complaining what a full day she had at school, then went off to her pilates class. Bone Doctor returned and could not get into the kitchen as R and Little Jo were making biscuits. R made a salad and Bone Doctor cooked meat on the barbecue. Sister returned and Bone Doctor went off to do something to do with football.

I took the notebook with me, and as usual used my phone as a modem and last time I looked, I had blown out my phone allowance to 120%. It was a calculated thing. Cheaper to pay for the blow out than buy a data card or change plans.

Next morning we packed up. Little Jo and Bone Doctor set off on their bikes to school. It was Sister's day off, but she was being collected at 9.30 to go to tennis. She said she wished she didn't have to go, as she had so many things to do. This apparently did not include housework as she asked us to leave the back door open for the cleaner and there was $70 sitting on the bench, presumably pay for the cleaner.

We left soon after Sister and had a very nice cup of coffee in Queenscliff at a shop called Gusto.

We were home a bit after noon and then I had another attack of the vapours, although much more minor and not worth telling R. I put it down to not eating in my normal manner.

And then I set upon a course that I knew would be mega stressful. Usually when our computer becomes slow and problematic, I take it to the computer man and ask him to reinstall Windows. Our computer was upgraded about five years ago and that was the last Windows reload. It has done well, but it has become slow. R is complaining about it and is all for buying a new one. Last reload, we payed for the Windows cd, so I could reload it myself. I said to R that I would reload windows and if that did not make the computer work more quickly, then we woud buy a new one.

Well, I have never done this before and I did some research before hand, and I am glad I did. The manual backing up of stuff took ages, but by Wednesday morning, I was ready.

But family stuff intervened. Overnight Oldest Niece gave birth. We went into town to buy a gift and a card and after inumerable phone calls, Thursday we will pick up Mother and visit Oldest Niece in the FKN hospital, also known as Franger, properly called Frankston. Oldest Niece's labour was long and eventually a ceasarian was performed and a girl was extracted at 11.24pm on 18th. Tradie Brother is now a grandfather, ex Sis in Law a grandmother, I am a great uncle, and Mother is a great grandmother, all for the first time.

Not enough? ABI Brother is having a skin cancer removed at a hospital near us and is staying the night after arriving by train. We dined at the local hotel that night and the next day we will take him to the hospital in the morning and then collect Mother to go and see the newborn.

Oh yes, in the afternoon after shopping in the morning, I made a clean install of Windows 7. One hour was spent just trying to make the computer boot the from a cd. No online advice was working, but eventually the delete key got me to the right place. Yes, it is faster now, but there is still much to do to get things back to normal, never mind the queer things it is doing.

Post Script:

ABI Brother was delivered to hospital at 10am. By 10.45 we were in Mother's town and it was too early to pick her up. We had coffee and ordered some flowers for Oldest Niece. At Mother's, she had also ordered flowers but from a different place. We left at 11.30 and collected both lots of flowers and were on our way by 11.45. Visiting hours finish at 1.30, so we had plenty of time. I imagined a nice country drive between what was the rural town of Pakenham, and Frankston. No! Houses, houses everywhere, traffic lights, varying speed restrictions and varying states of roads. It was a miserable drive, made worse because we were a bit late. 

Once we arrived and found our way to Oldest Niece's room, her partner was there, along with her mum, Ex Sis in Law, and an 'advisor'. We had to cool our heels for nearly an hour and with ten minutes of visiting time left, we saw and interacted with Oldest Niece and Great Niece. We overstayed a bit. R would not let go of two day old Great Niece. We had a light and late lunch at the hospital and we set off to take Mother home. 'Can you go via Cranbourne and I will get a Ready Roast, which will last me for two meals'. I had told Mother no shopping. 'Can we stop at the supermarket for cigarettes and magazines..

I was getting stressed and snappy. It was school finish time and we kept getting stuck on traffic congested roads. I have never done it before, but I thumped the steering wheel with my fists as we crawled along. I am used to inner city driving. This outer suburb driving does my head in.

I was so fed up with Mother and her slowness but I kept a vague smile on my face. If only she would stop talking. I called R out of the hospital cafe, so whe would finish her sandwich and tea and stop talking.

We spied ABI Brother's car, and he was at Mother's when we finally got her there. The skin cancer he had removed was just below his eye, so he is bruised. He paid me some money he owed me and I now have a very full wallet, but I know cash diappears quickly.

R talked about giving Mother $500 for her eightieth birthday on Sunday, but after today, I will insist on only $200, more than I was going to give her.

But there were some good bits for the day. Oldest Niece's two day old child is lovely. Most babies are pretty ordinary when they are just born. Her partner was very kind and considerate towards her when she started crying after the baby advisor left. So in spite of pre natal classes, she did not know it all. What expectations are now on new mothers to know it all and be perfect.  It was nice to see Ex Sis in Law. She started to cry too when Oldest Niece cried. She gave comfort.

While I had imagined being home by about 3pm, it was 4.45. I did a bit more to the computer to return it something we know, and then our friend from Japan who is in Sydney rang and how lovely was it to talk to her. She will leave her birth country to return home on Saturday. We could have gone to Sydney to see her, given I have a week off, but the week off was shedualed to be busy, and so it has been.

I just worked out I spent about 3 and a half hours driving today. No wonder I am crabby.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

My almost heart attack

What an alarming headline, yet after eating Sister's lunch of saveloys on bread rolls with grated cheese, a six kilometre walk with an iced coffee along the way, hunger later afternoon and some weed pulling out, putting me in a posture I am not used to, I felt very unwell.

By late afternoon I had pains across my chest, in the back of my neck and in my arms. I was generally feeling absolutely awful, a little faint and not trusting my stability on my feet. I was cold and sweaty. I started to wonder if I was having a heart attack.

Bone Doctor returned from work, but before I could mention my illness, she took off on a bike ride. R had picked up that I really wasn't well and must have said something to Bone Doctor when she returned. She asked me a couple of things, but DID NOT CHECK MY PULSE OR BLOOD PRESSURE OR LISTEN ON A STETHESCOPE.

However, R told me later that she was clinically observing me. R knew I wasn't well as I did not have wine before dinner and barely ate any of the dinner. Bone Doctor's empathy might be called into question at times, but I implicitly trust her medical judgement.

Sister felt unwell immediately after eating the saveloys. I felt unwell later and I could not stop swallowing air and burping. The next day we walked Little Jo to school and along the way their dog did its business and what a stink as I picked it up in a plastic bag. Sister reckoned it was the left over saveloys she fed to the dog.

Right from when we returned from the walk the day before when I felt unwell, I was thinking about calling an ambulance. But I am clever bloke and I can judge the time to call. Many dead Australian men can attest to knowing the right time to call an ambulance. If there wasn't a doctor in the house, I think I would have.

Next day Sister and Bone Doctor were at work and I switched on their radio. Geelong ambulances where overwhelmed and could supplya  timely service the night before. Later I thought, well the ambulance would probably come from Ocean Grove.

Anyway, by ten that evening, I queried if there was any scotch to drink. I, and everyone knew I was then ok.

I awoke early next morning after a fitful sleep, listening to the sound of waves crashing and distant highway traffic. And then the birds started their racket. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I've been waiting for someone to do this

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale
A tale of a fateful trip
That started at this tropic place
Aboard this largish plane.

It is as logical as any explanation for the disappearance of the plane. I was quite fascinated to read in our daily paper an expert analysis about the disappearing plane by the known aviation crash expert, Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Where do we fit?

Context, everything must be in context. My context is being born in 1957, Australian, no that is not Austria in Europe but down under, and growing up on a farm and being quite innocent and ignorant about the world around me.
I am left leaning and voting in the United States, should I be a citizen, voting for the Republicans is beyond my imagination. When the US elected Obama, I felt proud of my fellow humans. This is rather odd as he is not my country’s leader. I think from Europe, to Britain, to Australasia , we would like to have him as our head. He maybe black on the outside and white on the inside, nevertheless, he is a caring person who wants to make the US a better place, for everyone, not just for the rich and comfortable middle class, as Republican leaders do.
Along with Australian made tv, I also grew up on a diet of English and US television. US shows were more sophisticated than anything made in Australia and Britain. Mr Ed, Petticoat Junction, My Mother the Car, Greenacres, I Dream of Jeanie, Gilligans Island, Bonanza, Littlest House on the Prairie, The Waltons, Lost in Space.............too many to remember.  Later came Streets of San Fran, Columbo etc etc, but at some point I stopped liking American tv. My partner was today watching an old episode of a show, and I have forgotten his name. No I haven’t, Charlie Sheen and it is an awful tv show, unwatchable for me, yet my partner finds it quite amusing.
Step forward some twenty years and our present young people absorb US culture like a sponge, to the disadvantage of our Australian culture and our predominantly English heritage. While people like me think it is a problem, if I look more closely, while America seems to dominate our culture via television and to a lesser degree music, it does not in other ways. I consider English made tv is generally superior to American made tv. There is still and strong English aspect to Australia but perhaps ameliorated mb the European culture brought into Australia mainly of the past 7 decades.

While Asian, Sub Continental, Middle Eastern and African food has been embraced, I can't say the same about their culture and apart from the richer Asian countries having some minor influence, I doubt any of the above will have much permanent influence.

Has Australian white culture changed that much in my life time? It has changed in many ways, but I am inclined to think the more things change, the more they stay same. What do you reckon?

(I am away at The Bellarine, so you get this very old unpolished post, but I have checked the spelling at least)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Not Quite a Tram

I have seen a figure that 77% of New Zealand's north island electricity is generated by renewables, that is geo-thermal and hydro-electric. This is on the way to free electricity.

New Zealand's capital city is Wellington, a charming place but it is known to be quite a windy city, like Chicago. Australians just love saying windy Wellington with a fake NZ accent but not quite as much as they like saying six in an NZ accent.

As did most decently sized Antipodean towns, Wellington had trams and as most decent sized Antipodean towns, they got rid of them. Melbourne is really the only Antipodean town that kept them, and aren't we laughing now. Adelaide did keep one tram line.

Instead of replacing the electric trams with diesel buses, Wellington replaced their trams with electric trolley buses. New Zealand is not known as an oil producing nation, and so has to import its oil products at a high cost for cars, trucks, buses.

So isn't Wellington laughing now, with its electric trolley bus system, being powered by electricity mostly generated by renewable energy.

Well no, actually. There are plans to shut down the electric trolley bus system in Wellington. Back to the 1950s where the influence of oil companies saw the shut down of electric trams all over the world, especially in Western countries.

Perhaps the system is old and decrepit? Well, not by the look of the vehicles.

Some brief and not too heavy reading here.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Melbourne's Lanes

Diane suggested I should take some photos of Melbourne's lanes. While I am sure many have done it before, I thought it was a great idea, but maybe the camera, maybe the operator, maybe both,  did not capture the lanes as I imagined them.

Not a lane as such but the Degraves Street subway, properly known as Campbell Arcade, under Flinders Street from the station. To left and out of the photo was a hairdresser, so I had a haircut.

We don't have to go to Belgium to get Belgian food. I have just ascended the stairs from the subway.

Looking down Degraves Street back towards Flinders Street Station.

We never sit here. It is just too crowded with tables very close together.

I think this is Scott Alley, with a couple of eating places.

Centre Place is kind of a continuation of Degraves Street and we often eat here as it is a little less manic.

A few places in Manchester Lane.

Beside the General Post Office that is not a post office, or anything really at the moment as it is being renovated for the Swedish company H & M to open is first Victorian store, is narrow walkway that opens out to become Angel Lane. More places to eat.

Hardware Lane used to be very busy but it seems to have fallen from favour a little. Perhaps I was there a bit too early as lunch time is its busiest period.

Well, they are the better known lanes for eating out in Melbourne. In winter they will have outdoor heating of some description.