Saturday, December 06, 2014

The important things in life

Glad Wrap is best. Cling Wrap does not cling as well and I would not buy it. But I can understand why R bought Cling Wrap my mistake. Since when did Glad have its name on Cling Wrap?

Well, clingyness is one thing, but instead of the cutting blade being at the bottom of the box, it is on lift up lid part. I find this nearly impossible to use and leads to quite a bit of wastage on my part as I get the wrap in a tangle.

So, I retrieved the old box from the recycling bin under the sink and put the roll of wrap in that. The old box has one of those slide cutters, which I am now quite adept with, as I am if the cutter is on the base of the box.The lid is just as stupid place for the cutter.

Friday, December 05, 2014

I could not possibly approve

It you ask people on the street about Melbourne's trams and their colourful advertising, people will say they like them, that they add colour to the streets and are a bright spot in the middle of winter. If you ask tram users about the outside all over advertising, you will get a rather different opinion and I agree with them. If you ask a radical student socialist, you will get an even stronger opinion.

While in many ways, I am past being a student radical, I have my memories. Public transport should be a service, provided by the government. If it does not work well, we can blame the government. In spite of the government shifting the operation of public transport to private profit making private companies, the government still gets the blame for failures of public transport. Good! Haha. That did not work so well.

Private companies now smother their vehicles with advertising to make an extra dollar. This should have never been allowed, but the cat is out of the bottle now. You simply cannot see out of the windows properly with the advertising all over them. It is worse when the windows are already tinted. It is worse again at night time and impossible if it is dark and raining. I just do not know how this could have been allowed.

Some of the afore mentioned modern young radical socialists took matters into their own hands and symbolically stripped some trams of some of their advertising. I believe it was a guerrilla attack at the Melbourne University terminus. I doubt their concern was about being able to see outside, more like commercial advertising on public property. I wish young people were a bit more bolshie at times and it pleases me that some are. There must be some sort of solvent in the world that could sprayed on advertising that covers public transport vehicles that could make it all disappear.

This is what the Sunglasses Hut tram should look like.

Initially the tram looked very messy, but the authorities have tidied it up. Compare the tram to the above shot where there windows were nearly completely covered.

See the black panel at the front where an advertising panel has been ripped off.

Here is another.A little bit was left at the bottom.

See below the penguin? Part of the ad has been ripped off. 

Closer up at ground level.I have seen a couple of other all over advertising trams spoilt but I did not have the opportunity to get photos.

This tram was not attacked and in spite of me disliking all over advertising, I think the Jean Paul Gaultier tram is quite stylish.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

A Dalgety Street Dawdle Pt 2

Wrapping up the walk. This magnificent building is on the corner of Dalgety and Grey Street. The plaque explains.

Out in Grey Street is the Alliance Francaise de Melbourne. Tres bon.

Back packer accommodation, presumably targeting Norwegian travellers.

Many years ago an acquaintance lived in a flat in this block on the corner of Eildon Road. It was the first and only time I have been warmed by a pot bellied heater.

I am sure the ironwork on the balconies is not original but I like it. What silliness to plant a creeper to run through it.

Salvation Army Crisis Centre.

St Kilda Coffee Palace. Melbourne had many coffee palaces opened in a vain effort to reduce the consumption of alcohol. None lasted very long, but many some of the grand buildings did. Vale the Federal Coffee Palace.

The George Hotel faces and dominates Fitzroy Street with its perfect location.

Past the traffic lights is what was St Kilda Railway Station. The train line was replaced with a light rail line that can no longer cope with the number of passengers. The bus replaced the St Kilda to Brighton Beach tram, which ran straight across Fitzroy St and teminated in the station forecourt. The bus turns right and terminates around the corner.

Backpackers buy a car to use while they are here in Australia and sell it when they leave, often at a significant loss. Sometimes the cars are just abandoned.

The marvellous George Hotel again, mostly apartments within.

I remember this as the State Savings Bank. It became a hotel known as The Saint. It has been closed for some time and renovations are under way. Well, that is about it.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

The NZ Resurrection

Who could forget the devastating Christchurch in New Zealand earthquake back in 2011 when 185 people were killed, many people losing their houses and livelihoods, historic buildings damaged beyond repair and the total shock to the people of Christchurch. No, Christchurch has not recovered yet, but it is making significant progress.

Its historic tram line has been restored and improved and the vehicles given overhauls and finally fully reopened this month.

This letter to the editor of The Press gives an idea of people's feelings:

"Lovely Moment
I had "a moment" today - a lovely one actually. I looked out of my office window near Victoria Square and to my delight I saw the tram trundling past. I had to terminate my phone conversation and go outside and watch it roll towards New Regent St. On occasion, I weigh up what I feel our community has lost and what it has gained because of the earthquakes. In sombre moments , I wonder whether, in my lifetime, I will ever see us regaining even a fraction of what we have lost. It takes a lovely moment like seeing our trams returning to old territory to restore the faith that, while we have lost so much, we haven't lost everything. I gave the tram driver the most enthusiastic thumbs-up I could muster and he gave me the biggest smile.
Christchurch I still love you . KYLIE EHRICH, Middleton."

Photo from

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

An Election Review

You may recall I forecast a comfortable re-election of Clem Newton-Brown in my seat of Prahran. There is no other way to say it than I was ever so wrong. While Clem is still in the running, the Labor candidate will probably win, but the astonishing thing is that the Green's member received a primary vote of over 25% and after preferences is in with a slim chance of being the member for Prahran.

Although the polls did forecast a Labor victory, many people, myself included, were doubtful. I voted Green and directed my preference to Labor. I see Labor as the party who looks after the less fortunate in society, does not lie in bed with with big business and its organisations, does liaise and consult with unions which I strongly believe in and generally spends our money more on improving people's lives. That at times it does so in a very incompetent manner distresses me greatly. Yes, I do believe in capitalism. It seems to be the best system we can have but capitalism must be strongly controlled and history has proved this time and time again. Give big business an inch and it will take a mile. Give it a chance to make an extra dollar and it will take ten.

Ex Premier Napthine was a nice enough bloke, I thought. But perhaps that is a problem for Liberal Party leaders. Not so nice Liberal leaders seem to do better, as did the former Premier Jeff Kennett who inflicted on Victorian citizens rather cruel and unusual punishments. That he caused so much  mental stress and upset to people and then goes on to become head of Beyond Blue, an organisation devoted to research into and help with mental illness, is extraordinary and I don't know how his conscience could have allowed him to take such a position.

So, now the east west road tunnel won't be built. People saw right through this waste of billions of dollars and knew it would not solve many people's road congestion issues. If a single matter had to be chosen that brought about the downfall of the Liberal government, that was it. Of concern to me is that it seems that if you want to govern in Victoria, you have to ensure the Frankston railway line, running through several marginal seats, must run like a well oiled machine. This can lead to disasters like Sydney's horrendous Granville train crash with many people killed. The train running from marginal seats had to be on time and should have had lower speed restrictions at one point, but no, the train must run on time so that voters remained happy with the service and did not take any failure out on the politician come election day.

I am really hoping the incoming Labor Party will dump Liberal Party rail tunnel plan and stick with what it has invested a lot of time and money into, a much more useful city building rail tunnel which will help with public transport overcrowding immensely.

The Liberal Party response to their loss is so absurd. We did not sell our message well enough. No, it was what you did or didn't do, and your policies that are the issues. 

And now I will wrap up my thoughts with an anecdote, which you may be able to read more into. I know of a top notch regional private school located in a marginal seat. It was not asked for by the school and not particularly welcome as the school principal of the well funded school with first class facilitates had no idea how she was going to spend the money, but the the local Liberal Party member rocked up to the school with a cheque for a couple of hundred thousand dollars. Media was in tow, photos taken and the story appeared in the local newspaper. The Liberal Party just don't seem to get subtly and what might have gone over un-noticed a couple of decades ago, is seen by an increasingly cynical electorate for exactly what it is.  Everyone knows these top private schools are well funded and many state schools are in a terrible physical state and terribly under funded.

Now, on with the job Dan Andrews. Is he a bit of a technocrat? May not be a bad thing.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Gold plating

Within The Highrise are 128 apartments. There are a couple of one bedroom, maybe one third are two bedroom and the rest are three bedroom. Most of the three bedroom have a bathroom and an en suite, although some opted for a walk in wardrobe instead of the en suite and nearly half would have both.

Just guessing, that might be say two people per apartment showering each morning between 6am and 8.30am and we never run out of hot water. The system is designed to cope with such a peak load. I seem to recall our hot water system can supply something like 80,000 litres of hot water an hour. I also believe there are two boilers and if one fails the other can almost keep up the supply. You could describe our hot water system as gold plated and why should it not be. When everyone wants hot water at  once, it can supply it.

I once heard former Prime Minister Gillard criticise the private companies that supply our electricity. She said they were driving up the price of power by gold plating the electric production and delivery system.  I could scarcely believe my ears. Did she mean that it was wrong to have an electricity system that can reliably supply power on the hottest of days so that we can stay cool? Surely that is the point of having air conditioning and surely is what we expect our power suppliers to deliver.

You could probably now describe Melbourne's water system as gold plated, with the huge and idle water desalination plant sitting there as a back up to our supply.

Melbourne's roads could almost be described as gold plated. Our roads are quite well designed and a lot of money is spent on them. That they can get horribly congested is another matter.

What is not gold plated, not silver plated, not even bronze plated, but perhaps plastic plated is our public transport. The train system breaks down frequently and is incredibly slow. Our tram speed averages are among the lowest in the world and trams spend more time sitting at red lights than trams in other systems around the world.

Many bus services are of such poor frequency, they are unusable by anyone other than those with plenty of time on their hands.

After seeing how public transport works in Europe and even to a lesser degree in England,  our public transport is hopeless and it will never be any good until a proper commitment is made to improving it, and I don't mean tinkering at the edges or just buying smart looking new vehicles. How nice are the centres of European cities with a focus on pedestrians, cyclists and public transport and not floods of cars in the streets.

Cycle ways are another area that is far from being gold plated. In spite of this we have seen a huge growth in the number of both recreational and commuter cycling.

Our medical care is far from perfect and yet its best aspect, almost free health care for all, will be destroyed by our conservative federal government, driving health care towards a US model, which has dismally failed the people of US.

Education is another and care for the environment are two more areas sadly lacking.

This is a rich country and there is no reason why everything can't be of a high standard.

I found this video about Zurich quite interesting. I did not intend spending nine minutes watching it, but I am pleased I did. Not everything done in Zurich can work for Melbourne or Australia, but with some thinking and planning, we could do it all oh so much better.

Zurich: Where People Are Welcome and Cars Are Not from STREETFILMS on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

A Dalgety Street Dawdle Pt 1

I recalled three storey houses in Dalgety Street, St Kilda, with the lower storey below ground level. They are unusual in Melbourne. It has been many years since I have been in Dalgety Street, and then only in a car. Back then I think it was a prostitute beat, with cars cruising up and down the street every evening. The street was then blocked off mid point by the council and that was the end of the street as a place to obtain such a service.

Dalgety Street runs between Princes Street and Grey Street, parallel to the well known Fitzroy Street. I trammed to St Kilda Junction and began my walk along Pattison Street. Not much to see in this street and it looks quite shabby and neglected.

Things did improve as I neared Princes Street with what seems to be apartments at the back of the Ritz Hotel, the pub part now known as the Elephant and Wheelbarrow, popular with UK and Irish backpackers.

Around the corner into Princes Street I came face to face with this rather handsome house.

Across the road I quite liked the simple timber fretwork on the verandah. I hope the occupants are enjoying the view over  a vacant lot being used as a carpark. It won't stay that way for long and no doubt their view will blocked.

Technically correct perhaps if you want to get to Nepean Highway using St Kilda Road and Brighton Road. But really the sign is an  anachronism and should say St Kilda Road south and include the route number 3. I think the sign is very very old.

One corner of Dalgety Street.

And on the other corner is this stunning block of apartments.

It think it was late on a Saturday afternoon when I was there. The street was busy enough with pedestrians and people coming and going.

The buildings are generally very well maintained.

A former politician once remarked that you could tell which houses in a street were rented and which were owned by the occupiers. It was a tactless thing for a politician to say, but so often quite true. The centre house in this terrace looks very rented.

The verandahs on this one have been filled in with windows and it either apartments or a boarding house. I did see some of the occupants and I would suggest boarding house.

A very expensive looking terrace of houses.

A terrific apartment building.

Here we go, a house with a storey below ground level.

Another nice terrace. Boy there are some expensive houses in this street.

Below ground level at another.

More simple timber fretwork. The parking permit sign indicates that parking is a problem in the street. Not many places would have a garage or off street parking.

Neighbours had taken a break from their gardening and were having a chat over the fence. I console myself with the fact they I will never be able to afford to live in one of these places with the knowledge that they are probably very dark and gloomy inside.

And this is it, what I remember from maybe twenty five years ago, the long terrace with storeys below ground level, except as I remembered them, there were no trees or shrubs to hide them.

In Part 2, we will pop out into Grey Street.