Saturday, April 26, 2014

Who stole my member?

I haz been shifted. Our state electoral boundaries have changed to take into account the changing population. I am no longer in the Victorian State electorate of Albert Park but in Prahran, well come the next state election. What does this mean to me? Albert Park is a marginal Labor(sic) seat with a margin of our around 2%. Prahran is a safer seat, but for the Liberals with a margin of around 4%. It hasn't always been so. Prahran was often marginal, in my memory. Albert Park was more inclined to be Labor but lost significant Labor votes when the high profile John 'Buckets' Thwaites left office. The buckets reference is to when he was a minister responsible for the water supply when there was an extreme drought.

I live on the western side of St Kilda and I expect while I know some passionate leftie Labor voters on the street, I would guess the inclusion of this part of St Kilda Road has many Liberal Party voters.

NB for you foreign types, the Liberal Party is the conservative party.

Our present Albert Park Labor member is Martin Foley. He does well enough and is quite personable. I have had some contact with him.

Our new Prahran Liberal member will be Clem Newton-Brown. While I know little of his thoughts on the economy, he seems to socially progressive, unlike many Liberal Party members who would like to turn the social calendar back to the 1950s white picket fences.  I actually think he is not a bad bloke, and no higher Aussie style compliment can I pay.

So who to vote for? I will check if there is a Communist Party party member running, but failing that, in spite of Sarah Hanson Young, a Greens Party person who would like to flood Australia with refugees from every country on earth, as long as they can say 'I am a refugee', I will vote for the Green Party. Why?

Sister took Mother to visit a friend who lives at a most beautiful place, in the green hills above where Mother lives. It is a combination of cleared land and bush forests. Mother communed with slightly tame kangaroos on the property, yet when Mother looked down the hill, the march of the four bedroom and three living room house suburbs was coming up the hill at a rapid rate.

Every new housing estate is taking land away from our native animals. Many are using up productive land used for grazing and vegetable and fruit growing. It is big business developers allowed to run rampant to make mega profits. This is so unsustainable.

What you say? A higher density inner to middle Melbourne? This has already happened to the point where the infrastructure can't cope.

The extraordinary Ponzi Scheme of growth of economy via the population growth of Australia must be stopped. Now, which party is going to pull back this absurdly rapid population explosion?

Friday, April 25, 2014

A solemn day

Today is Anzac Day, the day we remember those lost in the futility of war. Anzac Day became a day of national commemorations in the 1920s and right around the country dawn services are held at war memorials. I have said before, if you have never been to a dawn service, make sure to do it once in your lifetime. Melbourne's dawn service, held at the Shrine of Remembrance, is the most moving public event I have ever attended. The dead silence and palpable emotion of thousands as the illuminated piper at the top of the Shrine as he sounds the bugle when the sun rises is beyond description.

ANZAC stands for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps. Around 10,000 who entered a ballot will gather at Anzac Cove in Gallipoli, Turkey where so many Australians were slaughtered on the beaches in WWI. While we don't have any who fought in WWI left now, some of their widows are still alive and for this anniversary of the beginning of WWI, the government has offered them a free passage and accomodation to the ceremony. I should hope for someone to look after them too.

While Perth is certainly no where near the size of Sydney or Melbourne, this year in Kings Park 50,000 people will gather for Australia's largest dawn service.

I believe the largest regional service in Victoria is held at the seaside town of Torquay, which we just happened to visit at Easter.

I was only Nineteen, by Redgum with John Schumann. Later thought: Some of Australians who were killed during WWI Gallipoli were not nineteen, but barely sixteen, kids sent off as cannon fodder. Italics in the lyrics below by me for clarity for non Australians.

Mum and Dad and Denny saw the passing out parade at Puckapunyal,
(1t was long march from cadets).
The Sixth Battalion was the next to tour and it was me who drew the card…
We did Canungra and Shoalwater before we left.

And Townsville lined the footpath as we marched down to the quay;
This clipping from the paper shows us young and strong and clean;
And there's me in my slouch hat, with my SLR (rifle) and greens…(uniform)
God help me, I was only nineteen.

From Vung Tau riding Chinooks to the dust at Nui Dat,
I'd been in and out of choppers now for months.
But we made our tents a home, VB (beer) and pin-ups on the lockers,
and an Asian orange sunset through the scrub.

And can you tell me, doctor, why I still can't get to sleep?
And night time's just a jungle dark and a barking M16?
And what's this rash that comes and goes, can you tell me what it means?
God help me, I was only nineteen.

A four week operation, when each step could mean your last one on two legs:
it was a war within yourself.
But you wouldn't let your mates down 'til they had you dusted off,
so you closed your eyes and thought about something else.

Then someone yelled out "Contact"', and the bloke behind me swore.
We hooked in there for hours, then a God almighty roar;
Frankie kicked a mine the day that mankind kicked the moon: -
God help me, he was going home in June.

1 can still see Frankie, drinking tinnies (cans of beer) in the Grand Hotel
on a thirty-six hour rec. leave in Vung Tau.
And I can still hear Frankie lying screaming in the jungle.
'Till the morphine came and killed the bloody row

 And the Anzac legends didn't mention mud and blood and tears,
and stories that my father told me never seemed quite real
I caught some pieces in my back that I didn't even feel…
God help me, I was only nineteen.

And can you tell me, doctor, why I still can't get to sleep?
And why the (tv) Channel Seven chopper chills me to my feet?
And what's this rash that comes and goes, can you tell me what it means?
God help me,
I was only nineteen.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

How a take away pizza went so wrong

I am truly in the dog house. At dinner out with companions last night, I blurted out that on Easter Saturday night after returning from Sister's, we ordered a delivered pizza. As our usual place across the street was closed for the duration of Easter, we ordered from Pizza Hut online. The pizza was ok, but it was quite expensive. Pizza Hut added a public holiday surcharge which I noted as being inappropriate as the Saturday of Easter is not a public holiday.

I mentioned that at dinner last night, a dinner where older people get together and complain about stuffs and tell each other about bargains they have managed to get.

I totally forgot that R told our friend that we would not be available to visit for a curry for dinner when he asked for that night, as Sister was making dinner  for us. Sister bashed off to local football, and left some a pasta sauce and garlic bread for Mother, ABI Brother and Little Jo. We were home for dinner and very tired, hence the ordered pizza.

R is a kinder person than I am. I will just say no. R will come up with reasons and excuses why we can't go to someone's place for dinner and I was tired after driving for umpteen hours that day. I just say no, if something doesn't fit in with work or life.

But, as far as our friend knew, Sister cooked us dinner that night, until I blurted out that we paid public holiday surcharge on a delivered pizza the same night. I just forgot about the lie of Sister cooking us dinner. I pointed out that I am tired of making excuses and we should just say no when we don't feel like it or up to it. Nevertheless, it is all my fault and I am in the metaphorical dog kennel for a day or so for exposing R as a fibber.

Even at my old age, I have decided that will no longer tolerate giving excuses for not doing things. I will speak honestly and just say no when there is a dinner invitation that I don't want to go to. 2014 will be the year of honesty. Our friend likes lots of company and invites us often. We are not quite so social for visiting people for a home made curry.

As you can see, I am completely right, and R is terribly wrong, but you won't hear his side of the story on my blog. 

Jacks Magazine

I can't remember what day it was, but it was a weekday. I wanted to see Jack's Magazine at an old explosives site in Maribyrnong. We had visited the housing site adjacent to the old powder magazine, but there were few houses there. I did have a couple online, but I can't find them now. You can make do with Daniel's photo taken in 2004.

Well, it is nothing like that now, as you can see from the photos below. We seemed unable to get into Jack's Magazine, and with its high bluestone walls and could not even see the buildings.

Where there was grass up to the banks of the Maribyrnong River, now there are apartments, lots of them. Pelicans and other assorted birds don't seem to mind.

We walked along the river bank for a bit. Acquaintances of ours had a house built there, but they did not stay there long and moved back to Sydney.

This one has a terrific position on the river bank, but it is not complete and it was clear to us that no work had been done for some time.

There is still a decent amount of open area.

More construction.

Looking over the estate from near the top. These will have city views, but we could see some of buildings underway were going to block other properties' city views.

Down within these earthen embankments is Jacks Magazine. Can't see much.

This photo is from The Age and there is an interesting little read there.

I see the same dominant building in the distance as in Daniel's photo taken ten years ago.

When we returned to the car after looking at what we could see of the magazine, a woman was getting into a car parked behind ours, the same make and model but a different blue. We stopped for some brunch at a cafe in Edgewater Road and she pulled in a parked one space away from us. Hers in the closest blue sedan, with ours next to the car next to hers.

Our brunch was delicious and served by a very attractive Middle Eastern lad. It was last hot day for the season, 30 degrees. We asked him to raise the umbrella to shade us and unlike most young people, he said he was fed up with hot weather and hoped it would cool down soon.

I had intending taking this trip on my own and using public transport to get there, but I was pleased I didn't as the hills of Edgewater Estate were quite steep. We then took a look at nearby Pipemakers Park and then our cool home beckoned us.

Later edit: Roy Ellery has some terrific photos of Jacks Magazine. You can find them here.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Our state government has failed us

Our State Government was partly elected by promising improved public transport. Three and a half years into its term of government, little seems to have happened. Not even the very specific promise of a train station at Southland on an existing line has happened. Ah, but a good bit of money was spent on Minister Louise Asher's bete noir for her constituents,

Suddenly six months short of an election, the government has made multi promises about improving public transport if they are re-elected. Sorry, it is all a little bit too late. The proof is surely in what the government has done, and from what I see, it is not much. The trains and trams are still very unreliable and terribly overcrowded.

The government is about to sign we citizens up to a multi billion dollar road project that may benefit a  trucking company, but few others really.

While I doubt it will be in my lifetime, eventually Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane will be linked by a high speed train. Its point of departure will probably be Southern Cross Station and the train will initially head north west.

That is the same direction of the proposed Metro Tunnel, linking Footscray to St Kilda Road via the city by train tunnel (yes, some self interest here). It is also the same direction as the government's just announced airport train.

Pretty obvious really. Build an underground line from St Kilda Road to Footscray, then on to Melbourne airport and make is suitable for a high speed train to Sydney.

Melbourne is a large and growing city and spending money on huge road projects is not the way to go. The best cities in the world, that is cities people really like, have great public transport.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Two Nations

I was watching an English tv show about the restoration of neo gothic house. The presenter was Caroline Quentin, a great English actor and she does a fair job of hosting of the show. It struck me how different England is to America. The clothes, the hair, the teeth, the makeup, obviously the accents but even the body language and the way people move. Interestingly, the male house owner on the show had no discernible accent. He did not pronounce cooker in that certain English way. He sounded like a perfect English speaker to my ears. There used to be a quite neutral accent that was described as mid Atlantic. I am not really sure what it sounded like, but perhaps that was his accent.

Australia sits somewhere in between the two, taking the best and worst from both but also adding our own touch with what has been described as larrikinsism and a sense of a fair go for all. We accuse ourselves of becoming more selfish, and we probably are. Our integration of migrants has been exceptionally successful, but I am not sure that is happening now. Our most recent African and Middle Eastern immigrants over the last decade seem not to be fitting into Australia well, which is unusual for this country of predominantly immigrants.

But back to Great Britain and America, I heard the most wonderful quote comparing the two and I can't recall where, but it was along these lines, 'two nations divided by a common language'. Yes, the language is vaguely similar, but almost everything within the two countries is different.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Details, details

I am not bothering with the language of the Netherlands or Belgium, as we will be there so briefly but I thought I might learn a hello and thank you in Hungarian, as we will be there for a day or so.

Seems to be four different hellos in Hungarian, depending on the time of the day. I suppose there is in English too, but hello or hi covers everything. I will probably say hello or bon jour. I am yet to investigate please or thank you.

I've checked the pronunciation of the Hungarian currency, the forint. A friend has bought some for us and I hope he can return them as I am sure 42,000 for R and myself is too much, about AU$250. We don't think we will need much in the way of Euros but we have some. We have a decent amount of English pounds but I expect that won't be enough. We bought the currencies some time ago and the rate was very favourable compared to now.

A taxi from the airport to our Budapest hotel costs about AU$20. For four of us and luggage we would need two taxis, $40. The taxi system at the airport sounds like it is well organised, as it was in Malaysia, where you pre pay. But we have paid $80 for a chap in a van to collect us at the airport in a mini bus. We have never done this before but a chap holding up a sign with my name on it will greet us at the airport baggage area. An NB said the driver will be non English speaking, which is fine, their country, but I would be surprised if drivers who did airport pick ups did not have some level on English.

From Melbourne door to Budapest door will be about 30 hours. We are dreading that part of it.

There is a very popular Hungarian fast food that sounds particularly unhealthy but rather nice. I have forgotten the name. No, it isn't goulash. Goulash is ok, but not a favourite of mine.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Suanday Selections

Check out River's, Jackie's and Elephant's Child's blogs to see if they have posted Sunday Selections.

The face off over parking lasted only a few seconds until one motorist decided it was a battle not worth fighting. I honestly could not judge who deserved the spot. They both swung in at the same time.

Nice arrangement R. Orchids can be difficult to arrange, so I've been told. I wouldn't know.

Overnight our dishcloth disappeared. We use open weave Chux giant cloths. R thinks it may have gone out with vegetable peelings. Once while waiting for the lift something caught my eye and the Chux dishcloth has attached itself to the velcro on my work bag. Could have been embarrassing had I not noticed. We had no spare Chux so R bought what I used to call a Wettex at the local shop for local people. For some reason he thinks it is a good idea to drape it over the tap. I not like! It belongs in the cupboard under the sink.

At Flinders Street here used to be banks of telephones either side in boxes lined by fine metal mesh over insulation, to deaden external noise..........or was that somewhere else. I have a vivid memory of the phones, but it may not have been here. To the left and out of shot is the external gate of an old lift cage. Melbourne is such a modern metropolis.

Pansies. No, not you chaps. As the US army says, they are collateral damage.

Something strange was growing in Fawkner Park.

Good god, they are multiplying. Actually, they had just landed, the white one in a very confined space and it was a long time before it deflated. I suspect something did not go quite to plan.

Does my bum look big in this? You can check with butt cam opposite the clothing shop changing room.

Later edit: Suanday? Maunday in the subject line? Must have been Maundy Thursday on my mind, been the good Christian lad I am.