Saturday, October 18, 2014

What a swell party it was

I suppose if you can afford to pay a couple of thousand dollars a week in rent, you would put on a pretty good party and what a swell party it was. I think it was the football grand final night. There were drinks and nibbles served by a white clad army of waiters (I reckon about one dozen), a sit down dinner for about 30 people (the table is behind the hedge), later a dj with his own dj box, and an Elvis impersonator who was very good from what we could hear and see. Aside from one upturned table, probably hired, there appeared to be no damage when I snapped the next morning.  The party must have cost thousands.

Not to be outdone, the neighbours below had a Sunday afternoon barbeque the next day. It was somewhat less lavish.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Flood Friday

There comes a time when you realise your most brilliant blog posts will never be finished. I expect this is for very good reasons, so here are a few to clear from my draft folder. Don't expect a post from me tomorrow. I've shot myself in the foot now and have nothing prepared in advance.

Older Person Tech Stuff

I rather like being an older person, in my sixth decade. I am not so keen on my physical deterioration that comes with old age but I think I have lived in wonderful changing times.

There are some really significant changes that happened in my early years. Here is a bit of list.

Flush toilets. Ok, they had been around for a long time already but we did not have them. At school our toilets were known as drop toilets. Yes, what went into the toilet went into a big hole below. At the rear was an access cover and ours had been pulled aside. What a delight that was for boys. We could give the mixture a good stir with a long stick and chase each other around trying to hit one another with the stick.

Party line telephones where you could listen to your neighbours' conversations by picking up the phone, and none of this dialling or pushing buttons. A quick spin of the handle and the operator would then do all the hard work. In a nearby larger town, all they had to do was pick up the phone for an operator to answer and connect them (the phone was never properly dusted on cleaning day. Work it out). Now, I can text. Who wants to talk on the phone. I can save the text unsent and edit it later. If I replying to a text, I have time to think, unlike on the phone.

All the answers to questions that arose were in books, specifically encyclopaedias.  Britannia was the best and the most comprehensive. Can you believe that when we bought our first computer, we also paid for an encyclopaedia on cd. Comptons comes to mind. Unfortunately is was a one use cd. You put its contents on your hard drive and cd was then unusable. Such ignorance on our part. I also think we paid for, or was included,  a movie database cd, but I can't remember the name now. It certainly wasn't IMDB.

The list is very long. I don't usually give up on something new and high tech if I think it is a function that will be useful to me, be it a computer, a phone, a car or anything else. Among friends similar to my age, I am the tech guru, but I know I am not. I just know more than they do, which is not a great deal.

I don't mind it when people say, 'oh, I can't be bothered with computers', unless it is a cover for not using them because they don't know how to. Believe me, after getting on for two decades of computer use, they are so easy to use now. They just work. This was not always the case. Installing a new program was fraught. Who ever sees the blue screen of death nowadays?


I was going to write about the Australian magpie, but when searching for who had taken good photos, I found Elephant's Child has already posted about them. Never mind. You can look at her post here for photos and text too, but I reckon I can find a better clip to hear and see them warbling. It is truly a delightful sound to wake to.



I could not possibly confess to having ever taken any mood altering substances apart from alcohol. I believe many of the recreational drugs are quite good, and that is why people use them. People who have never taken recreational drugs will probably be hitting the close button now. What they need to understand is the magic of drugs. Recreational drugs can be really bad for you if they are misused or abused or if the drug is  addictive. But the good feelings and happiness and understanding of the world that can come from drug taking cannot be denied. The problem is that these drug feelings are not real life. They are fine for a bit of fun, but they cannot be a day to day part of your life.

Apparently there are many in Australia who are addicted the drug ice. What is ice?


As a younger gay male, my doctor was always bothering me about tests for sexually transmitted diseases. Now he bothers me about blood pressure and cholesterol tests. He asked me how much alcohol I drank. I replied, one glass of wine before dinner. I know doctors usually double the answer. Little does he know.

Sister's partner Bone Doctor is no longer a specialist but a general practitioner, specialising in sports medicine outside her GP work.

Tell me, Bone Doctor, what do you think when a patient replies to your question about how much they drink?

Eat, drink or smoke, I triple it and depending on their health, I may multiply it by many times. You can put on your best face, but we know.

Most interesting BD. Thanks.

Meanwhile I attended R's doctor because he is accomplished at skin problems and inside my nose I had a sore that was not healing. I go for the worst option first. My nose was rotting away from cancer. No, doctor said. It is ok. He prescribed an anti bacterial cream, designed for the nose with a high melting point and some stickiness.

I almost went back to see him because my top lip split open, kind of inside and it was not healing. I applied the nose cream to it for a few days and after a total of time two weeks, it has healed, so it not my imagined lip cancer.

On my upper arm I have a small but severe bruise.  Oh, maybe it is a melanoma. I put my glasses on and took a good look. It is yellowing around the outside, a clear indication that it is just a bruise. But I have no memory of how it happened.

Last night I whacked my knee on a cupboard. Ouch, I said. This morning I realised it is bruised and grazed and I guess it will take a couple of weeks to heal.

This longer healing process that seems to come with older age is not good. My cells are not repairing themselves like they used to. I am not liking this at all.


Father's father's name was Walter. For some reason Father called him Charlie. I asked Mother why once. She said that was the name Father used for his father on building sites. So we called him Grandpop Charlie. I am his only grandchild who remembers him. He was ok, and quite kindly to his grandchild who he rarely saw, the son of 'that stuck up bitch from the teetotal family' who his son married. They were his wife's words, Father's step mother. His first wife was, as long term readers may remember, was The Bolter, who bolted to Sydney's Balmain with a lad somewhat her junior to whom she was teaching music.


There are many versions of Melbourne but my Melbourne is vast, from the inner area where I live, to what was the middle area where I work, but might not be considered as middle now, to the vast outer areas where most people live.


I am not too bad at trivia, until the quiz drifts to classical music or sports. I know a little about a lot but I don't have any expertise in any area. I consider that to be a character failing but I don't care. It is how I am and I amuse myself.

Sister and myself were sitting on our balcony while chewing the cud and she asked me about a building in view. I knew something about it. She asked me about another building. I knew something about it. Etc etc. What I knew were anecdotes. I really wish I had a focus in life, something I could hone in on and become an expert about, but that is not me. I love learning about stuffs, but most of it goes in one ear and out the other.

Sometimes something will get blocked and retained along the way between my ears. These are anecdotes and I know rather a lot of them. I just never have the detail that others seem to retain.


The Learnin'

I listened to something somewhere. I can't remember the when or where. A chap was talking about teaching using modern methods involving technology.

The reporter was asked about her geographical knowledge of South America. I didn't think my knowledge was too bad, but then some quite obscure countries were mentioned. I couldn't quite place Surinam. Oh, that is in South America, but while I have a rough idea, I don't know exactly where. In fact, I don't know at all, and neither did the reporter.

The reporter played away on the computer at a specific game like puzzle and was shown a map of South America and she had to locate each country. The 'game's' inventor promised her that after 15 minutes of playing the computer game, she would know the exact location of every South American country on a map and would not forget them, and I believe him. I can see it will work.

Little Jo does something on our computer called Reading Eggs. From what I observed, it is a repetitive thing that goes on until she chooses the correct selections. It is under the auspices of our ABC, so I trust it. It is a similar thing. The knowledge for what Little Jo is doing and the knowledge of South America will be firmly implanted. It is simple repetition until you get it right.

In the late 20th century it was named repetitive or rote learning


I have a serious driving fault. I am impatient. Not all the time, but certainly when I am travelling to and from work and when I am using the payway/freeway to Mother's.

I curse you who travel along Dandenong Road in fine weather at 40 km/h when the limit is 70 km/h.

I curse you who pulls up behind a right turning car and then I behind you pull up behind you, thinking you would not be stupid enough to pull up behind a right turning car and you would go to the left of the car turning right.

I curse you who pulls in front of me on a freeway when I have the cruise control set and then slow down, forcing me to turn the cruise off and slow down.

I curse you who plays with your phone while at red lights and I need to give you a toot of the horn to alert you to the green light. Half the horn sounding heard below the Highrise is from people alerting others that a traffic light has turned green.

I curse you when your are slow to move when there is a green arrow and cause me to miss the turning green arrow. In fact in that situation, I could shoot you. It is not hard. Green arrow, foot off brake and accelerate.

I curse you when you sit on the outside freeway lane travelling at 90 km/h.

I curse you when you stop in the middle of nowhere and bring a heap of cars to a stop to allow a person fit enough on their feet to cross the road.

I curse you when you stop at a green light in the city to let pedestrians to continue to illegally cross the street. Give them a blast of the horn and get them out of the way smartly.

I curse you when you stop in the middle of an intersection and can't go further forward because of a bank up of cars, and then of course block the opposing road traffic when their traffic light turns green.

I curse you cyclists who ride at speed along footpaths.

I curse you trucks using the Domain tunnel and sit in the right hand lane, which is fine until the climb out of the tunnel begins and


Pie Face Boone (to annoy my brother I used to call the tv show Daniel Boone that name)

school holidays rain child friction.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

My Special Day

I think I will remember my birthday this year, Tuesday, for the cyclonic winds we have had, and from temperatures in the high twenties over the weekend to low teens for the last two days.

Last Sunday dawned fine while the mad bastards, 30,000 of them, ran past The Highrise.

We had a nice family lunch at the Frankston RSL with Mother, ABI Brother, Tradie Brother, Oldest Niece, her partner and Little M and also Hippy Niece. We went back to Tradie Brother's place for coffee and cake and on the way home picked up Dog Jack who we are looking after for a week. It was tiring day and Mother was slightly less well than her usual not well.

The RSL Club is huge and seats 300 diners in various areas. It occupies a commanding position on a hill and is really first rate for what they put back into the place and the community. The foundation stone, clearly not of this actual building, was laid by former and late Prime Minister Stanley Melbourne Bruce.

Is this what Prime Minister Abbott will shirt front President Putin with?

Tradie Brother and Hippy Niece took to the dance floor when the band struck up shortly before we left.

Tradie Brother adores his dog, a little more than one year old. The dog had a good licking of Little M who found the canine attention delightful.

Mother gave me this orchid. I had wondered why R had bought such a modest (read cheap) bunch of flowers at the weekend. I have no idea what they are called. Does anyone? I may have preferred a smaller orchid but it is very nice. Once the flower dies, we will give it to someone with a garden.

ABI Brother gave me a bottle of wine and Hippy Niece bought me wine for lunch.

Nothing special happened yesterday, the day of my birthday. I opened my gift from our Friend in Japan and there are some great photos in the book, including a terrific one of Marc Bolan of T Rex which I have never seen.  My self chosen gift from R is a wallet by Jeff Banks of London. R kept steering me to the ones on sale, but I wasn't having a bar of it. Truthfully, the cheaper ones were just not what I wanted. They were too shiny, the leather was not soft, had no change pocket or were poorly made. I think I will be very happy with this new one.

"Tradie Brother, I never knew you could get birthday cards with an age when it is only a minor birthday. Thank you". Closer inspection revealed you can't.



R was out when I returned home for lunch, but he does know where to leave something so that I see it.

Post Script: A gorgeously wicked card arrived in today's post from Annie O'Dyne. Thank you my love.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Palm oil

Wow, what a disturbing list. I would like to avoid using products containing palm oil as all over Asia native jungle is destroyed to plant trees to produce palm oil. As land is being cleared and jungles are burnt, the smoke pollutes the atmosphere and covers other countries too, causing friction. But if you perused this list, you will probably have to throw out almost everything in your food cupboard, your fridge, you laundry cupboard and your bathroom cupboard and if you have a bed side drawer with adult products in it, they may have to go too. Sometimes there is not even a viable alternative. From a little research my breakfast cereal, Uncle Toby's Antioxidant Plus, seems to contain Certified Sustainable palm oil.

I quite admire Senator Nick Xenophon. Read what he has to say about truth in labelling. 

There is plenty on the matter to read if you just type 'truth in labelling palm oil' into your search engine. From my brief reading, palm oil is full of saturated fats and is not particularly good for you.

Zoos Victoria has also been campaigning against palm oil production on behalf the Orang-utans who are having their forests destroyed.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Pride, the movie

The Full Monty, Brassed Off and Billy Elliot were all brilliantly low key English movies I enjoyed very much. John Gray of Wales informed me in a not so personal manner but via a blog post of a new movie set in similar times to the aforementioned. The plot is along the lines of a group of gay people who decide to support a Welsh mining village during the time of mine closures in Thatcher's Britain.

In Australia, Pride is scheduled for release at the end of October (and they wonder why people illegally download) by Palace Cinemas. No mention of it at Village or Hoyts, and I think they may regret not having rights for it. Have a look at John's mini review.

For some reason, I could not help but think of John Gray of Wales when this arrived in my email inbox. Cute, hey. Welcome to his life of flapping birds.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Steaming down King William Street

Those Adelaideans are funny people. They decided that the steam train running down the middle of King William Street to Glenelg should be converted to an electric tram line, and so by 1929 it was and the tram from the city to Glenelg is all that remains of Adelaide's substantial electric tram and trolley bus* network. I think it would be very interesting to see a steam train running down King William Street now.

Although we visited the tram museum in Adelaide's St Kilda area, I am not very knowledgeable about the Adelaide tram system. I am about to know more. Firstly I looked at a map and the system was huge and radiated out from the city like wheel spokes. Port Adelaide had its own small system, with trams running from Largs and Semaphore to Albert Park and Rosewater. The system was closed down quite early and a trolley bus routed through from the city to Port Adelaide.

I believe Adelaide had three tram depots but I can only find two. Maybe the three includes the Port Adelaide Depot. One was in the city in Angas Street, right next to King William Street and the other in Hackney Road just to the north east of the city. This photo of the city depot is labelled 1940s.

Even by 1985 the scene was not so different. By 2006, the road had been widened taking away the depot frontage and tracks but the tram shed was still there and had all it door shutters down, as this photo in the Trams Down Under archives taken by Mal Rowe shows.

Eight years later the location is not recognisable now, as you can see on Street View.

The Hackney Depot sat in the Botanical gardens.

The people did not want to lose the tram depot building.

After most of Adelaide's tram system was closed down, the depot was used as a bus depot but is now in use as the State Herbarium. The very handsome Goodman building on the left once housed tramways administration.

Let's have a look at the routes. We begin with the north.
Cheltenham, using Hawker Street and Torrens Road.
Prospect, using Prospect Road.
Enfield, using Main North Road and Princes Highway.
Walkerville North, using Walkerville Terrace and Main North East Road.
St Peters, using Harrow Road and Sixth Avenue.
Paradise, using Payneham Road and Lower North East Road.

Morialta, using Magil Road, St Bernards Road? and Moules Road? with a short line off to Magil.
Kensington Gardens, using The Parade?.
Erindale, using Kensington Road?, with an early branch off down to Linden Park and a later branch off to Burnside.

Glen Osmond, using Glen Osmond Road.
Springfield, using Fullarton Road.
Kingswood, using Duthy Street.
Mitcham, using Unley Road.
Hyde Park, using King William Road.
Colonel Light Gardens, using Goodwood Road.
Glenelg, using the old steam train reserve.

Keswick, using Anzac Highway? to serve the showgrounds.
Richmond, using Cowandilla Road? (Richmond Road?) and Marion Street.
Henley North, using Henley Beach Road (now Sir Donald Bradman Drive?) and Seaview Road.
Findon, using Manton Street and Grange Road.

So the next time you are travelling on an Adelaide bus, have a think about why it follows a certain path. It may be following an old tram route.

Within the city, trams ran along King William Street, North Terrace, Grote/Wakefield Streets, West Terrace, Hutt Street and of course Hindley/Rundle Streets. There were a couple of other city streets too, but I can't work them out.

We visited Adelaide in 1983 and rode into town from Glenelg on H Class trams, two joined together as this photo from a tourism website shows.

Our next and last visit was in 2011. By then the H class trams were off the rails and in storage and the tracks were dominated by 15 (or 11) Bombardier built Flexity trams. These began service in 2006 and it was soon discovered that their air conditioning was not up to the task of dealing with Adelaide's summer heat. People fainted within the trams. A darker tint was put on the windows, which helped little. Eventually the government bit the bullet and had the air con systems upgraded.

The global financial crisis hit Spain hard and a planned tram extension did not go ahead, leaving Madrid with six surplus Citadis trams. South Australia bought these trams to improve the service and have sufficient trams for the new line extension from to the Entertainment Centre to the north of the city in 2009. A further extension is planned.

Adelaide trams carried the maximum passenger numbers during WWII with 95 million passengers trips annually by 1945. However, as happened everywhere, the 1950s saw the decline of tram use and the rise of the motor car and motor bus. The decision was made in 1953 to progressively close the system down and replace trams with buses and by 1958 they were gone, with the last tram running to Cheltenham on the 22nd November. While closing the Glenelg line was mooted, it was decided that as the city had some quite new trams, the H Class, that the line was mostly in a reservation and it made the trip to the seaside quite quick, it was kept. The trolley buses continued on until the early 60s, whereupon they too were replaced by motor buses.

What at terrible loss, and like most cities that rid themselves of trams, from a very smug me who lives in the city that did not rid itself of trams and has the (disputed) largest system in the world, I am sure Adelaidians came to regret the decision.

Apologies for errors. I am hampered by my lack of local knowledge. 

*electric bus powered like a tram but no tracks