Saturday, November 08, 2014

A Saturday Quickie

Nothing ready to post. I am working on Sunday's post. But I can rattle this off quickly.

As you know, we took Little Jo to Luna Park. She and R were on the Ferris wheel. It paused while a couple of people got on and R and Little Jo were right in front of me. It moved up one carriage and stopped again. An Asian lad, maybe 12, maybe 14, stepped into the carriage on his own. He was overweight, but not not excessively. He wore thick glassed spectacles. He was of a plain appearance. I assume it was his grandparents at the base of the wheel waving to him. It was his wave that really attracted my attention. It was such a pathetic wave to his grandparents. There was no joy, no emotion, just the sad limp wristed wave. In the middle of what was a great day for us, I felt a sense of overwhelming sadness for the lad. He repeated the wave a couple of times, each with less emotion that the one before. His grandparents were smiling and waving at him. Meanwhile  above him, R and Little Jo were frantically waving at me still and laughing.

He could have been 'on the spectrum', as they say. That is autistic, but R has worked with disabled people for most of his life and one of my blog mates has an autistic son, who I have met, and my slightly educated instinct tells me he wasn't.

The experience had a profound impact on me and even something like three weeks later, I am still remembering with such sadness what seemed to be just a lack of a good life for him in the future. I really hope I am totally wrong in my summations and guesswork.

Friday, November 07, 2014

90 Seconds in Melbourne

I may have mentioned Wolter's World in the past and the monologue You Tube clips he puts online where he list the five things you will love and five things you will hate about various cities you may consider visiting around the world. Generally he is quite fair with what he says, but he does rather prove stereotypes form with some basis.

It seems Wolter has not been to Australia, so he hasn't loved or hated anything about us yet, but some others amateurs have and do hit some sensitive spots. Of particular note, a common theme is our racism. This is very much a geographic thing in Australia. People in the cities who live and work among the foreign born would not think and certainly not dream saying some of things you will hear in outback Australia, and to a lesser extent more populated rural Australia. Generally opinion does seems to be quite positive, except for the cost of living and travelling here. I am sorry if you aren't like that but feel damned by my remark. It is a generalisation formed by stereotypes.

I came across this short video about Melbourne made by company called Escape Here which makes various 90 second videos about many cities around the world. I am totally ignorant about the various bars in the city the narrator mentions, as you would expect someone my age to be. That St Kilda was not mentioned is odd but it is focused I guess on the city itself.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Non Metric Australia

I once complained to the BBC because many of their radio programmes use US dollars and not pounds Sterling. There is some logic to it though, that around the world people know US dollars better than any other currency.

I read something about a driverless car topping a driverless car speed record in Germany. Australia and Germany are countries that officially uses metric measurements, yet the article must have been lifted straight from a US publication as the speed was given in miles per hour with the kilometres per hour in brackets. Get that? In an Australia publication miles were used when talking about car speed when we use metric from another metric country. There is no logic to that at all.

As I have mentioned before, I am greatly concerned at the backward steps we have taking with metrication.  We are back to pounds per square inch in tyre pressures, pounds and ounces for babies, calories for food energy, brake horse power for car engines. Sizes of tv screens and computer monitors have gone backwards with most now talking in inches. These are tvs being made in metric countries being sold in a metric country ant he screen size is predominately in inches. Metricating the length of a Subway roll, 6 inch or footlong, is perhaps unreasonable, and eight inches will always be a respectable figure.

There used to be some sort of government metric authority to promote metrication and help people understand it. I wonder if there are any remains of it in some government department.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

How Much????????

Later edit: Well, never mind nearly half a million dollars being spent on green paint. I expect it was City of Boroondara that perpetrated this outrage of reversal of law. Maybe it was Vic Roads. I am only guessing. A mobile solar powered electric sign went up recently saying something along the lines in normal display, Cyclists avoid car doors, and in the alternating huge green display, Ride on the green. Can you imagine what is said to the first cyclist who complains to a car driver who opened a car door in front of him or her? 'Mate, the sign back there says you should ride on the green. If you did as the sign said, there would not be a problem. It is your fault.' This is so much sending the wrong message. It is the driver's responsibility to not open a car door in front of a cyclist, not the cyclist's responsibility to place him or herself in a position on the road to avoid opening doors. Of course a prudent cyclist will keep clear of car doors, but it should not be necessary. This is a very bad sign and very much sends the wrong message. If this happened in Netherlands or Sweden, governments would fall.


I was in Glenferrie Road Hawthorn last week. The State Government has funded a special bike lane treatment. Along this stretch of road a cyclist was doored by a stupid and careless car driver who opened her car door as he was riding past. She knocked him into the path of truck which ran over and killed him.

Photo by Sharon Ho.

The bike lanes consists of white paint and green textured paint along the length of Glenferrie Road from Burwood Road to Barkers Road, a distance I suggest of less than one kilometre. I don't like the way the cyclist who is supposed to be on the green marked area is 'told' to give a wide berth to parked cars. No, the onus is on the car driver to not open a car door in front of a cyclist, not the cyclist to give a wide berth to cars. The yellow lines are the tram clearance lines and look how close the cyclist would be to a passing tram. Still, if it saves lives, good.Who knows what the short thin with line and the fatter one between the bike lane and the tram tracks are for and if you can't tell by looking, then that is a fail too.

What I was gobsmacked by were VicRoads signs proudly saying who was responsible for the project and that it cost $431,000. What? Nearly half a million dollars for some paint on the road? Unbelievable. Yes, there was planning work no doubt and various other costs but so much money just to do that?

Somebody bet on the bay

As I do when I am at home and not working on Melbourne Cup Day, I took to gambling. At a dinner out last night, our dyke friend organised a sweep. R's gets five per cent of the prize pool because his horse came last. For the race meeting I spent $22 by putting a dollar on for the win and a dollar for a place plus an extra dollar each way on the cup. I scored three places for the day. My choice to win the cup became unwell. R did even worse.

We went into town to see some hats, well more fascinators than hats. There were quite a number on the tram as we travelled in. One older couple who boarded the tram after we did intrigued us.  She sat down facing the rear next to an Asian girl. Her husband stood in the aisle and loudly cleared his throat. The Asian girl thought it was directed at her and jumped up to offer him her seat. He said, no no, stay there, but she was up, so he sat.

She was in a nice enough dress, but I think it may have seen one or two cup days before. She carried a black patent leather handbag and matching heels and she also wore a pair of large and quite thick glasses. Her hat was ok, but not remarkable. Oddly she had on no make up, well maybe a very light brush of foundation. So wrong, more is better. Did anyone ever suggest Dolly Parton should wear less makeup? (Rhythm of post interrupted  by the smell of burnt potatoes, boiled dry. Not my department. Oh dear, there goes the smoke alarm. Household Management was distracted by a umpteenth repeat of the talented Stephen Fry's Q&I).

But they were the oddest couple. They were sitting side by side, but he was sitting maybe twenty degrees on an angle away from her. He was telling her about an email he had sent that he thought someone had taken offence to but he did not know why. This was after another loud bout of throat clearing. She sanguinely just looked forward with her face completely still with the half a smile she was wearing when she boarded the tram. She did not reply to him. It was like she was spaced out and he was talking to himself. We stood behind them as we waited to exit the tram and she did say something to him. There is nothing like tram travel to see 'interesting' people.

We had an early lunch at Riverland at Federation Wharf on the banks of the Yarra River. It was fairly quiet, but we were early.

We then went up to National Gallery of Victoria, the Federation Square office. We saw a terrific exhibition called the Outer Circle, of works by the Boyd family and associated people. I highly recommend it, with some great paintings, old photography and and wonderful sculpting and pottery work.

The races were on the big screen at Fed Square. It was a photo finish. In these high tech days, does a magnifying glass really call the shots? 

It was a pleasantly warm day and nice enough to dangle your feet into the river.

Some were a bit more serious about boating on the Yarra.

Very cute. The caption says something like 'do not climb on the penguins or feed them'.

A fun sculpture that draws you inside to see where is the head of the giraffe.

Some might call it Melbourne's horse whipping day, or Melbourne kill horses day, but like during the Australian Tennis Open held in Melbourne, there is a great atmosphere. So much nicer than boring Grand Prix car race event.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

The Nephew

Dreaded Nephew became Non Dreaded Nephew after he had his dreads cut off. He is absolutely my favourite nephew and shall probably called Nephew from here on in. It is irrelevant that I only have one nephew. Did I write that I sent him $500 when he and his Jewish partner seemed a bit broke when they were travelling in South America? I think I did.

No soon had he returned, and he made an effort and due diligence to visit his Nan and she was chuffed to see him, that is my mother. 

He was straight back to work as soon as he returned home, as was his partner. I admire him because although he grew up in the swamps of Langwarrin (someone might get that) he is at ease in bogan/chav areas as he is in in hip inner city society. I have wondered about his adaptability which goes as far as working in Gippsland as a fire fighter,  and I can only conclude that he is just such a nice person.

He invited people via Face Book to a celebrations for he and his partner's return at some place called The Nash in Richmond. He changed it to smashing some dumplings in China Town and following on at Section 8. There was a time when I thought I might be able to discreetly fit into Section 8. Nah, too trendy and out of my league.

Monday, November 03, 2014

The fortunes of war

We were sitting at the lunch table a few weeks ago, my mother, three of her four children, two of her grand daughters and her great grand daughter. R was there too, along with one of the granddaughters partners.

Somehow the subject of my maternal grandfather came up. Mother, what year was he born? 1895 I think, she replied. Perfect age to go to WWI, but he did not. Mother explained that he was required to stay home as he was a market gardener producing vegetables and Australia badly needed the production.

I gazed along the table. What if he had gone to war and was killed? Only R and Shane would be sitting at the lunch table, which yes, is a silly thing to say, but it was funny when I said that without grandpop it would be a very quiet lunch with just R and Shane and none of grandpop's descendants.

Well, this is a pretty boring post. I forgot to take photos when I was recently nearby, so hop over to Janine's blog, The Resident Judge of Port Phillip, and take a look at the native grasses adorning the steps of our State Library. The post is quite a good read too, with some interesting detail of the very early days of Melbourne.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Luna Park and Little Jo

Bone Doctor was cycling around the bay in a completive ride. She, Sister and Little Jo had stayed the night before. Sister wisely decided to find something to do while we took Little Jo to Luna Park. The first visit to Luna Park is a rite of passage for Victorian children.

It was a warm day and I checked Tram Hunter for an appropriate tram. There is a good one, a 3A, a big one and with air con and not far behind a 16 that would also deliver us, but it will be crowded. As it was, we were early at the tram stop and caught the 16 which wasn't too crowded.

Many years ago we took Hippy Niece to Luna Park but I can't remember much about it. I can also remember being at Luna Park after a gay Pride March when it was turned into a party venue. It was the first and probably the only time in my life where I saw or will see women use men's urinals, and they did so with some panache and no embarrassment. Oh dear, old man memories but fortunately the lighting was dim.

Little Jo was kept away from tv and devices when she was young. In the long run it seemed to make no difference. She is addicted to tv and 'google', which only The Highrise has and google is not available on computers or phones at her home. I told Sister, for goodness sake, tell her about computers and google, before she looks like a total idiot in front of everyone at school. But I am only a dumb older brother who knows nothing of child raising.

We alighted from the tram a stop early and had a look at the Esplanade Market. No, it is not a real person.

Entry is free into Luna Park, making these historic turnstiles redundant but how good that they have been preserved.

The carousel. Isn't it great. The horses go up and down too.

Little Jo may have been a bit old for this ride. It cost us about $60 for three adult and three child tickets, so Little Jo was walking the park first before selecting her three rides.

It is just a cafe within and I think dodgem cars underneath. Dodgem cars no longer have poles that run around the electrified chicken wire overhead. What a shame. I used to enjoy seeing the sparks. Accidental inclusion of a man with interesting looks and a nice grin.

The lads coming down, and then going up and then down and then up but not in any obvious planned sequence or degree.

It wasn't a good idea to play the ball in the clown mouth first as we then had to carry a fluffy toy around with us.

Little Jo did not select this ride. It looked quite extreme to me. I was waiting while she and R were on the ferris wheel, and waiting and waiting. After the ferris wheel we had a snack and a drink. They day was quite warm.

The Scenic railway always elicits lots of screams. The girls can scream quite loudly too. The ride is very old and has a brake person riding between the two joined carriages. Good heavens. It's a dark skinned woman. How could she possibly have the strength to operate a brake lever? And what would a person born on the sub continent possibly know about the Scenic Railway?

This swinging boat looks fairly harmless. I will take Little Jo on this one. It was awful. As it reached each end of the swing, it was the feeling you get when a lift stops, magnified by 100. "Andrew, I am going to be sick. I want to get off". It was a mistake to eat before this ride. Fortunately she wasn't. No, I wasn't clutching Little Jo's arm in terror. I was trying to comfort her but feeling rather uncomfortable myself.

Littele Jo's third and much tamer choice was the carousel, to R's relief. The carousel is the largest and most elaborate in the Southern Hemisphere. It was made by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company in German Town, Philadelphia in 1913. The organ part was made in Limonair, Paris in 1909. It was made for the White City Amusement Park in Rushcutters Bay, Sydney in 1913 and in 1923 was bought by Melbourne's Luna Park. By the 1980s it was a wreck and had been painted many times. The original paintwork was found and recreated when it underwent a complete rebuild in the late 1990s and the organ part was restored in 2007. Money well spent, I am sure you will agree. My photos don't do it justice. It is a wonderous piece of art and machinery.

Ah, here is one of those decorated elephants that were seen around town a year or so ago. It looks a little the worse for wear.

We left the park and naturally needed an icecream to go with the already bought bag of fairy floss that Little Jo was going to try and hide from her mummy. It seemed like Sister, Bone Doctor and Little Jo would now be staying for dinner, so we bought a roast chicken at the supermarket and as we walked out, a cool breeze had arrived. Instead of using the arcard to exit, we used a mural covered alley. Little Jo told me I did not know where I was going. Twenty minutes later as we stepped off the tram and waited for the traffic lights, it actually felt quite cold. Such is Melbourne.