Saturday, September 20, 2014

Going down under and Adam misses a train

We recently caught up with a friend at a Thai restaurant in the suburb of Ormond. We parked in the train station carpark and used the pedestrian subway under the train line to get to the restaurant.

I was reminded of Prahran Station from where I have occasionally caught a train over the years. The last time was a while ago. I knew what time the train was but I was a bit later than I would have liked to catch it. Ding, ding, ding, down came the booms as I approached the station, stopping me from sprinting to the platform to catch the approaching train. Of course I could run around the booms, but it is a dangerous thing to do and I was not in hurry, rather I just did  not want to wait fifteen minutes for another train.

Of course many do make the dash around the booms as the train approaches, and I don't blame them too much. A few years ago none of this dangerous activity would have been necessary at Prahran, as there was subway, like the one we used the other night. It was only a short subway, not a long and badly lit one that can be perceived as being dangerous. No, just this simple little tunnel that gets you under the railway line. Maybe it is too steep for some people. Well, there can still be facilities to cross the line at ground level. As it was, many used to stray onto the road rather than use the tunnel.

Yet the government seems to be removing tunnels and what happens then? Yes, more people going around the lowered booms to catch a train and more people getting hit by trains. If anything, they should be building more tunnels.

Still on trains, what a hoot! The Age newspaper transport reporter Adam Carey was on his way to a press conference called by the Minister for Transport. You know, one the grandiose announcements that come from politicians. He has the misfortune to live on the Upfield line which has a single track near the end and so can only operate a twenty minute service, peak hours and otherwise. The train he intended to catch was altered to run express to catch up time as it was late, and so it bypassed his station. He missed the press conference and so the Minister's 'good news' was not really reported.

Now if you have to wait an extra say ten minutes for your train in such circumstances, it is bad enough, but when it is only a twenty minute service, and a train is cancelled or runs express past your station, then that is a forty minute gap between trains, assuming the next one is on time and not running late because it is taking a double load. This is an absolute disgrace. Only in extreme circumstances should something like that happen. If it is only a twenty minute service, it should be left to run and stop all stations.

It has been suggested that this is how Metro Trains is improving its punctuality figures, by altering stopping all station trains to express trains. That is one thing, but a cynic might suggest it is better to do such things to a line that runs in government un-winnable political seats as was the case this time, rather than trains that service marginal seats.

The service on the politically sensitive Frankston line however is much improved but remember what happened when the express train from sensitive seats in Sydney's Blue Mountains simply had to be on time at a certain point so that it did not get caught behind stopping trains, arrive late and displease passengers who would take out their wrath on the governing party at the polls,  yes we had the Granville train disaster.

Adam's piece has been copied here.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Rebuilding Hadrians Wall

Am I qualified to comment on the the yes or no vote for Scotland? Of course I am. I have some Scottish heritage but I have never followed it through. If you knew my full name, that is all four names, they are Scottish. That may or may not be a co-incidence, but I don't think my two family names are.

Hel's wrote a post about the Scots that astonished me, not so much for the content, as interesting as it was, but the very fact that I knew nothing about the details she wrote about. Take a look here

But the days of a great Scotland have passed. When Scotland votes, and there may be a result of the vote by the time this is published, should the result be yes, then they will have to fall on there own resources, tourism, which will never diminish unless the facilities decline and they could well do so if the North Sea oil and gas reserves are depleted or no longer required. It would be a good world if the need for oil declined, as humans transferred to renewable energy. It could certainly happen, and not in the too far future. Where would Scotland's wealth originate from then? The European Community won't prop the country up without quid pro quo. Swap your British masters for Euro masters?

Hadrians Wall was built in Roman times to keep the marauding Scots and Picts (a little knowledge is a dangerous thing) out of England. It may have to be rebuilt to keep out the poverty stricken Scots.

Scotland has done very well by the threat of leaving Britain. Please, what in our memory would have had our Queen utter, 'You need to think very carefully before you vote'. Pity she did not say that before Thatcher was elected.

In an extraordinary self debasement, even PM Cameron said, I won't be around forever. Reading between the lines, you may hate Tory governments but the pendulum swings between Labour and Tory.

I have folder for my Scottish tartans. Yes there is more than one. I will choose the nicest looking. Quite understated  really, but classic.


PS I am bringing this forward to 9pm the day before it was going to be published while voting is still underway. Maybe it will be picked up by a young impressionable gay lad who thinks the old gay Australian with Scottish heritage is a wise man, or possibly just thinks more accurately, I am a tosspot. But I may influence a vote. Who knows?

Later edit: Do have the question that was asked wrong? Comments indicate I may have. I meant vote no to Scottish independence. 

The blooming magnolia

R was going out for a walk. I asked him which way he was going. Good, take the camera and take some shots of the magnolia tree, please. He didn't do a bad job at all. I caught it a bit late this year or it did not flower as well. Some years it is absolutely spectacular.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Just another one of those co-incidences

It is not relevant that he is a Kuwaiti but I think it is relevant that he is an overseas resident and citizen of another country. He wishes to build two highrise towers on a low rise site right on the beach front in Port Melbourne, one 10 storeys and the other 19 storeys.

City of Port Phillip has said no to the development and there is a three storey height limit in force now. Port Phillip, in I think a poor decision, has increased the height limit to 10 storeys, yet to be signed off by the Planning Minister Matthew Guy. I should 5 storeys is about right.

Of course it is only a co-incidence that the present unlovely and unloved building, given to the people by the developer of Beacon Cove, was subjected to an arson attack last week. Yes, a co-incidence, absolutely.

But the damaged building will put further pressure on the local council and the Minister of Planning to do something and Minister Guy is well know as Minister for Tall High Rise Buildings. And of course if the developer is unhappy with the outcome, he will appeal to the evil VCAT, which takes little notice of local opposition to tall buildings.

I fear the outcome will not be good for local Port Melbourne and Beacon Cove residents, in fact I would put money on it.

We were sipping coffee in the warm sunshine at Beacon Cove and as a tram departed the terminus, the damage was revealed at 1-7 Waterfront Place, Port Melbourne. Yes, just a co-incidence.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

National Brotherhood Week

Heard this on the execrable Macca's Sunday morning show on our ABC.  The introduction explains the context of this amusing little ditty penned and performed I believe by Tom Lehrer. If you aren't offended, you need to listen again and the second time, properly.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Zoom zoom

We collected our new car on Friday, after handing over a very large bank cheque. Sob. The salesman for our new Mazda 3 Maxx was pleasant and competent. He showed us thoroughly about how things work on our new car before we took it out of the showroom. Most of what he said was teaching grannies how to suck eggs. He seemed to forget that our old car was only five years old.  We kind of know about intermittent wipers. We kind of know about air con and ventilation. What he did not show us was how to kill the sat nav lady. We were presented with a bottle of wine as we left and very nice it was too.

We drove it about for about an hour with some pauses to investigate things. The car dealer was very close to the City Link office. We updated the Etag for the auto pay roads. I wondered if I should have asked the older woman at the City Link counter if she remembered a Fen.

My plan was to stop at Westgate Park and take some photos of the new car. The park entrance seems to blocked off by construction sites. We stopped at Station Pier instead. R took his driving turn to Elwood and half way back to The Highrise. It is a complicated beast, but not beyond my understanding. I have read the manual, the salient bits. I have never needed to bluetooth in the past, but our phones are now bluetoothed to the car. It will be so easy to listen to podcasts to and from work.  The talking woman, that admittedly I had set up to give us directions when we did not need them, could not be shut up. There is no cancel sat nav button. We found out how to, but it should be easier (now more familiar with it, it is not so hard).  She is now set up to only speak when required although even when off, I have allowed her to warn of speed and traffic cameras.

We will get around at some point to going through the voice recognition software, whereby she says words and you repeat them back to her, but so far she hasn't had trouble with our commands. Most likely use we will have for that is 'call home' to alert the person at home to move one car in the garage so that they are in the correct order. While you can't operate the screen while the car is in motion using your fingers on the screen, you can do some things with voice command and everything with a little joystick near the gear stick.

One feature of interest is I Stop, where the car switches off while stationary at traffic lights and restarts as you remove your foot from the brake. I don't know how it works on a manual gear car. We are getting used to it and it works well. If you don't like it, it can be switched off. I am of mixed mind about it. What you save in fuel cost might have to spent on replacing the battery more often, or god forbid, the starter motor. It is taking some getting used to pushing a button to start and stop the car. The button is to the left of the steering wheel and we are both still trying to put a non existent key into a non existent key hole on the right.

I am writing this Sunday, but it won't be up until Monday.  We went to Nagambie yesterday for a decent drive, except I can't tell you about that because we haven't been yet.

We were standing outside waiting for the appointed meeting time to collect the new car. R asked if I would miss the old one. No, not really, as I felt tears welling. Just pathetic emo me. This is the last we saw of the old car, as we left by the back entrance in the new car. We won't miss how the iridescent dark blue showed the dirt so badly.

When leaving though, we did drive past where the old one was parked and forgot to wave goodbye, no, not even a backward glance. I wonder if this one will see us out. I don't plan to have a car once I stop working and R will be getting quite old by then and I doubt he will want to drive. It all rather depends on family circumstances and for the cost of car registration, insurance, road side care, depreciation, fuel and maintenance, a lot of public transport, taxis and car share schemes can be paid for.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sunday Selections

Sunday Selections brought to you  by River with some others joining in.

I had an appointment at the corner of William and Bourke Streets. I was early, so I took a couple of photos.

Deloittes is the main building and to its left I think is Marland House.

National Bank of Australia, NAB, dwarfing a fine old building.

An attractive drain cover. We don't have too many of those.

You put this weirdness into the soap dispenser of your dishwasher and it melts and the dishes come about sparkling clean. R won't tell me the price of them though. The dishes used to come sparkling anyway.


This survived our absence overseas, as it has in the past. I watered it once we were home and it was fine. Then I kind of forgot to water it again and it began to drop leaves in protest. It nearly died but is now recovering.

We aren't great fans of cacti, but it was a gift. It is looking pretty ordinary and we were going to throw it out when one decided to flower. It can stay a little longer.

The lass in the adjacent apartment likes to light candles in her window. We are the only people who really see them.

I did not know we had Australia India magazines. We had breakfast at the rather good Whytes Cafe in Glen Huntly next door to an Indian grocery shop.

I used to like San Miguel beer from the Philippines. I then favoured Stella Artois from Belgium. I don't have beer very often but my favourite is now Asahi, from Japan.

Interesting lamp, near a crêpe place where we at times have brunch, but never the crêpes.

Messy, but people love the grunge and snap away at the 'art'.

Bacon on avocado sprinkled with salt and lime juice on sourdough toast. Rather tasty.

Yes, the crêpe place that uses souvenir teaspoons, in the case one from the Glow Worm Caves in New Zealand and the other from Perth, capital city of the Australian state of West Australia. 

It appears to be silver foil encased leg hanging down from on top of the air con unit. Does it belong to a dead person?

No, just a bit of fun. Well, I think so. I didn't get up there to check.