Saturday, November 15, 2014

What have you been spending since the carbon tax was abolished?

Prime Minister Abbott told us we would all be financially better off if the carbon tax was abolished. Prime Minister Abbott has gotten his way and abolished the carbon tax, a tax on companies that pollute. I rather like the idea of a tax on polluters, passed on back to consumers if needed. People will appreciate the true cost of what they are consuming and people were generally well compensated for the tax through tax reductions and increases in social security. The Abbott did not take these benefits back when he scrapped the carbon tax, but if you are a taxpayer, think of it as getting something back from bracket creep. If you receive social security, you may have to wait a bit longer before your hand out of largess. But then we do already have extra money in our pockets since the carbon tax was abolished. No?

I came across this on Face Book and I rather like it and I think Freaky Tiki Cafe in bayside Rye deserves support for plainly stating what the removal of the tax actually means for small business. That is my version of small business, not the government's of a business with hundreds of employees.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Roaming in Richmond

My paternal grandfather grew up in Richmond. I know the street where he lived but there are no houses there now as Jayne informed me some time ago when she took a walk. Richmond was an old working class suburb, populated by poverty enslaved Catholics, later Greek and Italian immigrants and then came the Indo Chinese, mostly Vietnamese, who made it their own and a couple of decades later, it is still their own. Of course if you live on Richmond hill near St Ignatius which is quite visible from The Highrise, you may not be so poor.

I used the train to get to Richmond and Melbourne Central was the closest station to where I was a the time. While I knew very well where the station entrance was, if you were walking north along Swanston Street, you might have a hard time finding it, with this sign way up high and hidden by shop canopies. Once inside Melbourne Central, you still have to get to the underground station and while the signage is adequate, you do have to use a couple of escalators to get there and then more escalators to get to the platforms. 

People generally keep to left on escalators, as they are supposed to do but I can never understand why there are not 'keep to the left' signs. I recall Pants informing me of the most terrible social crime you could possibly commit in London, that is not standing to the right on escalators. As I discovered, around the world there is not a common side to stand on escalators and there is no logic to it.

I have to translate train destination signs back to what I know. Thinking, yes South Morang was the Epping line. That will do nicely.

It had slipped my mind that photography is not allowed in our underground railway stations. Too late now. If you see something, say something, so the saying goes.

What are these things called? Coolie hats?

Decorations welcome you into Victoria Street in Richmond

Along with this arch.

Looking east along Victoria Parade. Tram tracks look nicer and are quieter when asphalt rather than concrete is used.

Oh, we’re from Tigerland,
A fighting fury, we’re from the club song begins. The not so local Richmond Football Club is called the Tigers. I like this work on the railway bridge at the beginning of Victoria Street, tigers pacing through what looks like bamboo.

On the other side of the bridge there is the bamboo but no tigers.

A muriel in a side street.

Tran used to be called Tran Tran and serves Vietnamese food. We have been going there for years. We like it a lot.

You certainly know you are in an Asian dominant area.

Mostly the streetscape is intact.

Non Vietnamese, in this case the local drug dealers. Everyone knows what they are about, but for some reason the police leave them alone. I better keep moving lest one of them comes over to bop the photographer on the nose.

I am not absolutely sure, but I think this hotel was where we used to go to see drag performances, there the stage was the bar itself.  It was called Dukes. But it could be further towards the city where Quint Cafe now is.

The council does try to make the street look a little nicer.

But when absolutely appalling buildings like this are allowed, what hope is there for street beautification. It wasn't noon when I was there.

In Church Street north of Victoria Street is the mighty Carlton United Brewery, with CUB buying out the Abbotsford Co-operative Brewery in 1924. CUB has some rather good history and historical photos on its website.

In Church Street are some very typical Richmond houses, small and plain as workers cottages were, but now quite expensive to buy as Richmond, being so close to the city, has become a desirable address.

Three massive Housing Commission tower blocks were built in Elizabeth Street, which runs parallel to Victoria Street, in the name of slum clearance. They produced the usual social problems that such public housing seems to stimulate.

While physically the blocks are well maintained inside and out, I am pleased to not live in one. They would be nicer if they had balconies, and some blocks in other areas have had balconies added. 

In Melbourne tram stops are generally quite close together. At times they are absurdly close and this one is less than two hundred metres from the North Richmond tram terminus. I caught the tram back to the more familiar but perhaps the less interesting environs of Prahran.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Update the sat nav

The car salesman gabbled on.......and three free updates for the satellite navigation. Just remove the SD card, put it into your card reader and go online to our website and follow the instructions. All very well for him to say, but we don't have a card reader. I had to buy one, and of course I couldn't find a simple SD card reader. It was only $20, but it does read all sized cards. It's a pretty little thing.

I removed the SD card from the centre console of the car and popped it into the card reader and it all went quite smoothly. I had hoped the update would get rid of red light cameras that no longer exist, especially the one west bound in Dandenong Road at Chapel Street, but it did not.

R asked me how the sat nav works and I don't actually know. We have used three different sat navs in our time, as well as Google Maps on our phones as sat nav devices. We had a play with it when the car was new, but I have simply forgotten. Sometime I have the display on, but I've not needed to use it to find an address. R needs to go to an unfamiliar country address in a couple of weeks, so one of us better work it out. This is what it looks like. It seems it is just too big to integrate into the dash, so it sits there on its own. It is a good position to look at. This isn't our car. No way could I be bothered moving something around that looks like a stick blender. Not so bad in the old days when there were only three gears to choose from. Now there are six. That is a lot of gear changing.

Later edit: I remember now, it is a touch screen, like most sat nav devices.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Remembering Remembrance Day

Not only is the 11/11 the anniversary of the day when our Queen through our Governor General sacked our Prime Minister, the recently departed from this Earth Gough Whitlam, it is also Remembrance Day.

I needed a hair cut and I told R and he said he would come with me. At some point he asked if I wanted to be in town for eleven o'clock and I thought he asked should we leave for town at eleven o'clock. Oh, he exclaimed a short time later. It is already 10.35. We'd better go. Why I asked? For the thing that is on at the Town Hall at eleven. Luckily we did not have to wait long for a tram and made it with five minutes to spare.

There were people on the Town Hall balcony and standing about blow. At a minute to 11 police crossed into the centre of street accompanied by a bugler and stopped the traffic and trams. Most pedestrians stopped crossing the roads and walking. A few seconds later planes flew over in formation and at 11 the bugler played followed by a minute's silence, well as silent as a city can be. Halfway through the bugle a large cannon being fired at the Shrine thundered. I thought it a bit rude of people to keep snapping with their cameras. Mine went into my pocket for the minute's silence. After the minute and another bar or two from the bugle, as if a switch was thrown, everything started moving again.

The crowd in anticipation.

The out of formation flying machine is not man made. Capturing the clock showing the time was also accidental.

There appear to by propellers on these planes, so I guess they are not too new.

The bugler plays and then after a silent minute, it was all over.

This is an interesting graphic from The Age. At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month, sunlight shines through an opening in the top of the Shrine of Remembrance and lights up the word 'love' inside the shrine in the sanctuary. Daylight saving buggered that right up, so a couple of mirrors were installed and once again the light shone at 11.

To the shops, I cried and the futility of war was quickly forgotten in consumerism and personal grooming.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Pride, the weather and a loss

Saturday was a hot day, with the mercury rising to 34 degrees and after shopping in the morning we followed up our plan to see a movie. We had the choice of several Palace Theatres and ended up at the Kino in Collins Street as the time suited us best. The session time was 3.30 and just as we were arriving, a tweet arrived from someone in Port Melbourne saying a cool change had arrived.

Pride, the movie, was great. It is a very English sort of movie and the acting was flawless. I would like to list the standouts, but there are too many. The lead actor is the rather attractive New York born Ben Schnetzer. The cast also included the well  known Bill Nighy and I thought Imelda Staunton was just brilliant. Yes, there both laughs and tears in the audience, and I was not immune. What I did not know but R did, was that the movie was based on true events, as the precredits at the end explained. IMDB tells you a little of the movie here. I never watch movie trailers and I suggest you don't watch either. You will enjoy the movie more I think and I do highly recommend it if you are inclined to watch anything more that blockbuster US movies. I saw The Book Thief when we were flying to Budapest and Ben had a role in the movie, but I never took much notice of him then. Photo of Ben uncredtied from Tumblr. If anyone has seen the movie, can you tell me anything about his curious accent in his movie role?

Imelda Staunton on your left as Hefina in the official movie trailer.

The weather had certainly cooled when we left the theatre and headed to our favourite Thai restaurant Lemon Bistro. We were discussing that we felt Little Bourke Street, Chinatown, should be closed to traffic in the evenings and perhaps all weekend with only access to the commercial carparks when I realised that we were nearly at Swanston Street and had missed the restaurant. We back tracked and found out why we had missed it. The glowing neon sign in the window had gone and the name had changed. Ok, it looked the same inside, so in we went. There was more of a feeling of bustle, less formality and once we were seated with the menu, the focus was clearly on dumplings and the general prices seemed lower. The coveted front window seats had gone, and the area set up for dumpling making, with three staff hard at work. Juicy Bao, its new name, was popular enough with the tables briskly turning over even at 6pm. But while I can't say anything is wrong with its new style, it was not for me and we need to find a new Thai place in town like Lemon Bistro. I am very sad. We have been going there for many years, since our Friend in Japan introduced us to it maybe a decade ago.

Once home, there was a strong and cold southerly wind blowing with the temperature now in the low teens. The overnight ferry, the normally punctual Spirit of Tasmania, usually berths at 6am but too my surprise the next morning when I looked out the window it was still visible in the bay at 6.30. It must have been delayed by a rough trip across Bass Strait.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

The Wall

In November 1989 we had not long moved to our large house in Glen Iris and we were extensively renovating, like knocking down internal brick walls. What a mess. The dust was horrific and one of the tradesmen had a new fangled car telephone connected to his car horn and every twenty minutes, so it seemed, he would receive a call, alerted to the call by his car horn. That our neighbours were less keen on this new form of communication than we were is not saying much.

Amid the rubble of our renovations, rubble was appearing elsewhere in the world and because of how busy we were with so many tradespeople about, we remained somewhat oblivious to the fall of Berlin Wall. That is not to say we did not know, but we missed all the finer detail to be found daily in the various media. I really feel like I missed some world changing history because I was preoccupied with other matters. Today is the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall and the world was never the same again.

Now, possibly inaccurate history lesson #101. After World War 2, the victors, The West and Russia, divided Germany into two parts, the east controlled by Russia, or The Soviet Union if you like, and the west controlled by western countries. These two maps, the first from Wikipedia and the second from Encarta show you clearly he situation at the time.

Within East Germany was Berlin, a city also divided into East Berlin and West Berlin with the West in control of one half and Russia the other and surrounded by East Germany. An arbitrary wall was built to mark the division and generally East Berliners were not allowed into West Berlin. Quite a number died while trying to escape to West Berlin, often by climbing over the wall.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, the wall came down and the two Germanys were reunited. One of my blog mates may just be in Berlin not too long after the anniversary of the fall of the wall.

Here is how to have your own private celebration of the occasion. Do you remember the early 60s song West of the Wall? Best you do this when you are home alone, lest someone yell at you 'wtf are you playing'. Now turn up your speakers and as you click play.....

also click play on this one, a short feature about the wall of about the same length as the song above. Perhaps pause them to allow for buffering. The one below also has music, so you will get a cacophony of sound and it perfectly fits the chaos of the occasion but you do have to have them both quite loud. This clip has some clever then and now merges, so watch it again on its own if you want. It is a bit shiver down the spine at times.

Now Gosia in Poland is probably a bit puzzled at this point because as she reads this, as it will still be the 8th of November there. I wonder what if Gosia has strong memories of the fall of the wall? And what about Gattina? I am sure she was safely in Belgium by then.