Saturday, April 25, 2015

Hands over my ears today

Today is ANZAC Day and I don't much like what ANZAC Day is becoming. War is just horrible and many returned servicemen took no pride in what they did and for me the whole commemoration is marred by the simple fact that many were just cannon fodder used by politicians, on both sides. They have my sympathy. Do you know what it must feel like to be burnt, or stabbed with a bayonet, or gassed, or shot, or have your leg blown off? It would really really hurt. Pain would be suffered of the sort a politician would rarely ever feel. Do others races hurt more or less? Of course not. I really am honing my grumpy old man skills, am I not. 

There, I have cooled down now, but there is a war connection in this modest piece. I was reading something, who knows what and where, and I came across a ship name that I thought might be interesting to follow up. I investigated no further and have left it to now. It is a ship called the Empire Windrush. I know nothing of it. Let us investigate.

She was a German cruise ship launched in the 1930s called the MV Monta Rosa. She was converted to carry German troops during World War 2 and served various tasks until she was captured by the British in the Baltic Sea in 1945.

The British renamed her Empire Windrush and used the ship as a troop carrier between England and Singapore and she also made a trips to Japan after the outbreak of the Korean War. Oddly, she was operated by The New Zealand Shipping Company but I can't find out he reason for that.

What she is best known for, somewhat symbolically, even though it was only one voyage, was a visit to the Caribbean. An advertisement was placed in a local paper offering cheap sailing passages to England and many accepted, mostly native Jamaicans, who as citizens of the British Empire had a perfect right to live and work in England if they wanted, and quite a number did. Also onboard was Nancy Cunard, the great anti-fascist and anti-racism campaigner, and of course heiress to the Cunard shipping line. Empire Windrush docked in England, I assume at Tilbury, in 1948 with her human cargo who received a good and welcoming reception, albeit a little patronising. They later became known as the 'Windrush Generation'.

She was quite stylish and attractive vessel.

Well, everything that floats, sooner or later does not and Empire Windrush was no exception. In 1954 she sailed to Japan and during her return loaded with military people and injured soldiers she became troublesome. She made it to Port Said but once out into the Mediterranean, she caught fire. Four of the engine room crew were killed but all passengers were saved. Later an attempt was made to tow her to Gibraltar but the hulk sank in bad weather in March 1954 off the coast of Algeria. I expect she had been extremely neglected and run into the ground.

While I may have known nothing of her she is not forgotten with a few of memorials to her in England and a small replica of her was used in the 2012 London Olympics.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Boring repeat post, please skip

Taken with the new camera, which stabilises the film much better than the old camera.

Tapping Man often requires repairs which leads to him going missing for periods, but he has returned to Haigh's Chocolate Ship in The Block Arcade. His purpose was to attract customer's attention in the street by tapping on the window with his stick. He was not connecting with the glass on this day. He was first installed the tailor shop L. P. Alexanders in the 1930s.

Here are a couple of videos comparing the old and new camera. These are Gog and Magog, found in Melbourne's Royal Arcade. Between them is the associated clock and an explanatory display, saying

These two 7-feet giants have been striking the time on Gaunt's clock since 1842. They were carved from clear pine and modelled on the figures erected in Guildhall, London, in 1708 to symbolise the conflict between the ancient Britons and the Trojan invaders. Mythology tells of the giants Gog and Magog (also known as Corineus and Gogmagog) having been captured in battle by the Trojans and made to serve as porters at the gateway of an ancient palace on a site later occupied by the Guildhall. It is traditional for Gog to stand to the north and Magog to the south.

Well, I don't know which is which as they are standing east west. I'll say Gog is on the left.

The old video, where I happened to walking through at about 1pm. Note, Gog strikes once and Magog strikes once.

The latest video taken with the new camera. It is very odd. Gog strikes four times and Magog twelve times. As it was twelve noon, ok, but what is with the four chimes? Or in the above video, one chime left and one chime right? Is it the month being struck? Four for April? No, the above one was taken in June or July. Mystery. I will say the performance in understated, but people passing do stop to watch.

Thursday, April 23, 2015


Little Jo visited and brought with her a 'fossil'. She is quite proud of her fossil found at her local beach. What is it? Is it set sand encasing something? I initially thought it was perhaps an old telecommunications submarine cable. Is the sand casing man made or the result of a natural process? I learnt that sharks at times attack submarine cables, and so that would explain a man made sand casing.

The camera produced some odd and uneven colours. The casing was pretty well the same colour; the dominant colour in the photos.

It seemed to have little node like spikes at the broken end.

My final thought was that it is the burnt branch of a tree and the sand was attracted to the sap when the wood was rolling around on the sea floor. Your opinions would be appreciated.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Terror in the United States

That will be me, terrified. Ok, I am exaggerating but I am very nervous about visiting New York. Thankfully we will avoid LA Airport, flying from Melbourne to Hong Kong and then to Vancouver, then flying to Toronto after our tour and then flying to La Gaudia airport in New York. We depart from Newark airport to Hong Kong and then back to Melbourne. This should all be fine. While I dislike flying, I am not afraid of flying.

Canada, I feel, is a little bit like us and much of what we do there will be part of a tour, so we shouldn't strike problems there, but the New York? Lordy, they use different words. Jelly instead of jam, fender instead of mudguard. While our accents aren't broad, they are still Australian accents. Will staff in diners understand us? Will they be able to translate metric to imperial where I plan to buy a pair of shoes and a pair of jeans, cheaper than I would in Australia?

Both R and myself have our own terrors of being chased down a New York street by a waiter shaking his or her fist because we did not tip, or for not tipping the correct amount. But don't you need to check your bill, sorry check your check to see if the a service charge has been added? All very fraught. Why can't service staff be paid a proper wage and not have to rely on tips? Ok, we must tip. 10% I will do, and if service is extra good 15%. If there are issues, I will simply say, I am Australian and we don't tip, and then run very fast.

It did not work in Vietnam when to a post card seller who asked where I was from and I replied Francais, and then he started to speak to me in French, maybe in New York when a threatening black man asks me for a quarter, it might just work if I say Je suis Francais and he will give up. How much is a quarter anyway? Enough to satisfy a beggar? Yep, that is what I will do. I will have plenty of quarter coins and give one to people to fend them off. Here beggar man, here is a quarter. Here waiter, here is a quarter. A quarter always solved problems in the US as observed by me in movies. You could tip a quarter, make a phone call with a quarter, or was that a dime, and get your shoes cleaned for a quarter. I will need lots of quarters. Great, currency and tipping down pat. I am feeling more confident.

But what about the nomenclature? I don't think it is acceptable to call a nigger, nigger. Blackie? Black person. I know, Afro American, whether he or she has an afro hair style or not. Hispanic without adding spiv is ok when referring to the Spanish colony types? Oh, this is going to be so hard.

Then there is the food thing. Whether it is Melbourne, Saigon or Paris, I adore a baguette. Bagel, I not like at all. Boiled bread with a hole in the middle? Why? I have determined that we will order one meal to share between the two of us. Why are the food servings so large? We even do that here at home, share a filled baguette for lunch, with some chips on the side. No, in the US that will be French Fries on the side? Look, I am using a term like, on the side. I am picking up the lingo already.

While I don't watch American tv now, I watched plenty when I was young. I think I will understand Billy Jo, Betty Jo and Bobby Jo perfectly well, and Kate too. Mr Ed had perfect diction. I also watched the laconic Columbo and I understood him well. I rather like the Brooklyn accent, especially when spoken by a woman. I'll be fine understanding the American accent......well, until someone says to me, hey bros, 'sup.

Just must remember to not use the word thong.

Aussie thong.

Non Aussie thong.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Back up, and then back up again

Backing up your photos is so important. You never know when your camera or your phone may fail, or your hard driver will shatter. It entered my head today that the duty of those left behind after someone close has died is to go through their photos. This was a manageable task before digital photos. It is not so now.

I hope you all have your own back up methods, here are mine.

Photos get copied from the camera to the hard drive. Within a few days I have chosen which I want to use online and move the folder for that day to Drop Box, so they are stored online. Once this is done, I delete them from the camera. About once every 6 months I burn two dvds of all the photos since I last burnt a dvd, one a back up copy. So they are now in three places.

Photos selected to use for my blog go into a folder For Post. Once I have used them, I move them to For Upload and every so often I upload them to Flickr. After that, I move them to another folder called Blog Pics, and yes, it is a rather large folder now. Every so often they will also be copied to a usb stick when I am backing up other things.

When travelling, daily I copy the photos from the camera to, well in the past the notebook or laptop. I didn't do this when in Sydney with only the tablet as I didn't have the right connecting lead. Yes, I could have used wifi to transfer them, but I had never set it up. I have with the new camera and may well do it that way in the future, although just buying the right lead with the correct plugs would be probably be easier.

As for general backup, my system is absurd, mostly using usb sticks and who knows what stick I put what on.  You can't write on them like you can dvds. I have an external hard drive which backs up the entire computer hard drive once a week, but I don't know if works properly or not. The external drive gets busy each Sunday night at 7pm, a time when one of us would be home and the computer on.

There may be one more post about photos and the camera but in this post, here are a couple of cloud photos I took and I am very pleased with them. It was a freezing cold day, with rain fronts arriving all day and the cloud formations were quite fascinating.

Monday, April 20, 2015

My Day(s)

Three days off work, what bliss. Day 1, Saturday, R had a volunteer work fundraiser, barbequeing sausages at a big green shed. I was up early and read and dealt with some blog posts. A load of washing was done and hung to dry.  I went into town and did some errands. Rested in the late afternoon, aka, R having a nap and me doing some blog stuffs and spending an hour cleaning the barbeque. Tidied some bookshelves and took some books down to our library and brought two back up.   Dinner with our Brother Friends and our NT ex pollie/policeman friend at our local hotel and they came back to the Highrise for coffee. Saw them off by 10pm and to bed.

Awake early on Sunday, only lightly dozed after 4am. It rarely happens but rain was beating strongly on my back window and kept waking me. Finally tired of dozing and rose at 6.30. More people had written more on the net to read and respond to. A load of washing in, and some stuff on the horse was dry and delivered to R's bedroom for ironing. Out for brunch and weekly shopping, normally done by R on Saturday. I wash my doona cover about once every three months. It is such hard work putting it back on. I did that and put the cover back on in three stages. More cleaning out wardrobes. Much to take down to the recycling room, including now, a very rare wine cork. To my surprise the cork bin was about 1/3 full. I can't help myself. I saw some people had put wrong things in recycling bins and I corrected the really obvious errors. The weather was just shite today, cold, heavy showers, gusts of wind. Another load of washing in and hung in the spare room to dry. I gathered together all my glasses. I will have a number for them after I have finished writing this. About five daily glasses. Three medium. Two strong. That makes ten. I think there was eleven.

Weird glasses and broken daily glasses to the cars for emergencies. Two pair. Glasses I wear all the time and two spares sorted. Big lens bathroom glasses returned to bathroom. Extra strong pairs there in abeyance but saved for the future.

2.30 Dyke friend arrives with Dog Jack, who we are looking after for a few days while she is going to funeral in Tasmania.

3.00 R and Jack asleep on bed and I wrote about cameras. I am slightly distracted by a noise in the background, the slow cooker in action, cooking lamb shanks for dinner.

5.18, wine o'clock.

6.00, commercial tv news

6.20 R asks if I could do a big favour and take Jack downstairs for a wee. I did. Chatted to ex mayor of Collingwood in the lift. Her friend's dog is afraid of the lift and has to be carried. Butch little Jack has no fear of lifts. Lifts always lead to a pleasurable dog experience for him.

7.00 pm, Proper news on tv. Last doona cover duty done, buttoning it up and shaking the feathers down to the bottom.

A very unfinished post, but as my blog is a diary, I just publish it with apologies. 

La lune est rouge

I am ready to take some new moon photos, specifically of the lunar eclipse. Score A for effort, F for result. I did not realise it would disappear behind the building so soon, so we only saw the early part of the eclipse. Nor did we realise it would be a 'blood moon', although that doesn't really show in the photo.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Say cheese

Saying cheese, or saying sex, both work well when taking someone's snap.

My old camera was looking battered, it was slow to start, slow to focus, at times not focusing at all,  the brightness of the photos seem to be often wrong and the zoom control was slow to move especially when the camera was cold, the lens cover did not always fully retract, again worse with the cold and lastly I hated the touch screen from day one. I used the stylus on wrist strap to control it, but even so at times I would accidentally touch the screen. The camera had taken nearly 10,000 photos, the same as the one before and the one before that and had made three overseas trips, I think. I reckoned I was owed a new one.

I went to Michael's Camera Store where I bought the last one and sought advice.  The last was a Canon IXUS 510 HS 12x optical zoom. The salesman asked what I liked about the old camera. Not much really and I told him what I disliked about it and told him it was pretty well worn out. He showed me a couple of cameras and I suggested they were too big for my purposes. He then showed me a Nikon Coolpix S7000 20x optical zoom. I liked it immediately although I wasn't keen to change camera brands, especially as my present card was Mini SD and this new one took an SD and he wanted $20 for the new card which I knew I could get cheaper elsewhere. Ok, I had almost decided to buy it but the camera was white. Can I have it in black please? Sorry, out of stock. I can take your name and number and call you when we get stock. Fine, I said, gave my details and left.

Since then Ken in France of Living the life in Saint-Aignan  bought a new camera after trying a couple of others and not liking them. He takes good photos, so let me have a look at what he bought. His is a Canon Powershot SX700 HS. Click here to read his experiences. While what seemed to be more available here is the Canon SX710 HS. I couldn't really see the difference between the two but the 710 was more expensive.

I took a very hard look at the Canon and it sounded great until I looked at the weight and the size. It was certainly a bulkier camera and I think the weight was around 250g whereas the Nikon one above comes in at 160g. So I crossed that off the list.

My point about size and weight is that it no good me having a very smart and expensive camera if it is sitting at home and not in my pocket. My camera mostly goes everywhere with me. I can't really hold my phone still enough to take reasonable photos with that.

I waited and waited for the call, about four weeks and I heard nothing. Damn them. I will look at online prices. Hmm, can be bought cheaper. I won't buy from overseas unless it is Amazon, where Ken bought his. Amazon was a bit cheaper. Reputable online local sellers, a bit cheaper. I don't know. I looked at Ted's Camera Store online and I think the camera was a bit cheaper there. Ted's is near Michael's in Elizabeth Street, so into town we went, with me really unsure about what I was going to do.

I really prefer to buy from a proper shop and I don't mind paying a bit more to get the service, but without the phone call from Michael's to even tell me they were having trouble obtaining the Nikon in black, I was a bit cross and very tempted to just click on Amazon's buy button.

Ok, we will see what Ted's can do and maybe bargain them off against Michael's. We were walking up Elizabeth Street when we came to a shop I had never seen before, just before reaching Ted's. Michaels is just a bit further along. The shop was called Digi Direct. Ha, if I bought something there and anything went wrong I could blog with the headline Dodgy Digi Direct. Always thinking ahead I am; planning for when things go wrong. Apparently I am not the only one who does that, hey Pants.  Well, they had the camera in stock, in black, for a cheaper price than Michael's or Ted's. The deal was clinched with the 8gb camera card at $17 not $20 ($10 at JB HiFi). I bought it and left and so far I am happy with it although time will tell.

Oh yes, the price for the new Nikon Coolpix x20 zoom was $247. I did not bargain to bring the price lower. I think the price was fair and R was getting a  certain look on his face everytime I had mentioned the word 'camera' in the past few weeks. He'd had enough.

I also recall Diane, who knows enough about photography to teach people some skills, mentioning that she thought photos appeared better on blogs if they were first uploaded to Picasa and then put on your blog, so here is some testing of photos. You can't really do this without the publishing the post as preview won't allow you to click on the photos.

Original size upload to Picasa new camera

Original size upload to Picasa old camera

Resized upload to Picasa new camera

Resized upload to Picasa old camera

Direct blogger original size upload new camera

Direct blogger original size upload old camera

Direct blogger resized upload new camera

Direct blogger resized upload old camera

I have three cameras now, each one taking better photos than the last. This was taken with my phone. The oldest camera, the silver one, still works. I switched it on and the noise of the lens opening was loud.

And lastly the new camera taken by the old camera. I have pulled that ugly blue and white sticker off it now.

No, I am not going to say anything about the way the lens comes out and how big it is. Funnily if the camera is sitting flat when the zoom is put to the full, it tips forward, something to note if it is on a tripod.

Sunday Selections

River's Sunday Selections can be found here, and Elephant Child's here. They are both very reliable Sunday Selection posters, unlike myself. 

I am trying something new and uploading my photos in their original size. How does blogger deal with that? Is it a problem for you as a reader? That was a fail. The photos stopped uploading. Back to resizing. This camera has taken almost 10,000 photos, just as the last one did and I have bought a new camera. These are among the last photos you will see taken by the old camera. Of course I will tell you about the new camera at some point.

Both Toorak Road and Domain Road were blocked off, but so many people were disbelieving and thought they would try anyway. They either had to make a U turn and come back, or turn left into a side street, left into Domain Road and then back into St Kilda Road, which probably added 5 to 10 minutes to their trip. Buses, taxis, cars, motorbikes, so many did not believe the road closed sign. If one  car went around the closure signs, many would follow but if no one tried, then no one else would.

The reason for the road closures were tram track repairs in Toorak and Park Street

and replacing the tracks at the corner of Domain Road and Park Street.

We had some visitors.

Look, one cocky even wants to do something nasty to the granite.

Zoom in a bit.

We can see this gutted block of flats from our place, but I suggested to R that it wasn't being demolished and I was correct.

This is the rather pleasant front of the building and it is going to undergo a big renovation and will look very nice once done and the apartments will sell for mucho moolah.

Red sky at night, shepherd's delight. Red sky in the morning, a shepherds warning. But I can't remember if it was apt in this case.

See the smoke on the horizon? Two possibilities. On Good Friday steam trains were taking tours on our suburban tracks. This could well be smoke from the train, or it could smoke from where the steam train set some grass on fire near Elsternwick Station.

Like the glass pool in Riley Street, Sydney, we have our own here in Chapel Street.

A pleasant aspect looking south along Chapel Street, not too far from the Yarra River. But, a developer wants to build a monstrous tower on the corner of Toorak Road and Chapel Street, pretty much at the end of this view. Blend in very nicely, won't it.

This is where the tower is to be built. This is now a restaurant, previous a bakery and before that a engine house for the Toorak Road and Chapel Street cable trams.

I was looking for something in my little treasure tin and I can't remember what now. I'd be no worse off just chucking it all away. It is all quite meaningless to anyone else but me. Unbelievably, my grandmother gave me a tin of Benson and Hedges cigarettes for my 18th birthday. The tin is little battered but a nice keepsake.

I could not get the camera to focus. It appeared to stay on long distance and I was surprised to get one usable photo of this bug. A couple of days later I remembered the camera has a manual macro setting.

Meat and salad baguettes in Centre Place at our usual cafe, only $5. Some places you would pay $9. They go up to $6 at weekends when more tourists are around.

A shabby but just gorgeous building in Elizabeth Street. Bit like me really.

The General Post Office, GPO, is not a place to conduct your postal business. Oh no, you go to a Post Shop to do that, where you may be tempted by all manner of products which have nothing to with the postal service. If you want expensive boutique shops and H & M, then the GPO is the place to go.