Saturday, May 16, 2015

Deporting Depp's Dogs

Apparently Johnny Depp has twice been voted the sexiest man alive. As he deplaned upon his arrival in Australia, I just saw a fat arsed old dude, well past his prime. Maybe his clothes were unflattering. There is no doubt he was cute when he was young. I rather liked him back in 21 Jump Street days. What did Patsy say? Buns so tight he was bouncing off the walls. has been successful in some very worthy campaigns, but its peremptory petition to save Depp's dogs from being murdered by Australian authorities was a little premature and does the organisation no benefit if it wants to be taken seriously. Really, as if Australian authorities would put down Depp's dogs. Not a chance in hell.

R's brother in law in England told me he was a fan of our Border Patrol tv show, if that is what it is called. It is a show that films people getting caught trying to bring contraband, drugs, illegal food and plants and even animals into Australia. He said he wished the UK would get tough like Australia is tough. I did not want to disappoint him by pointing out it is just a tv show and those who appear on it are most likely paid, after they are fined a minuscule amount for their naughtiness. I expect our customs and especially the department that protects our flora and fauna from foreign disease is much like that of other western countries.

That is, it ain't so special and waves through VIPs as clearly they would not have anything to be concerned about. It is only because of a bragging dog washer that Depp was caught out falsifying Customs paperwork to bring in his pooches and put our country at risk of rabies and other diseases. Otherwise, who would have known?

One law for the rich and famous, another for the rest of us. I do rather wonder how often this has happened in the past? Did Michael Jackson bring his monkeys to Australia? 

I don't care who they are and most of us would surely agree, no one is immune from our immigration and customs laws, be they celebrities, politicians or kings and queens. 

Australia has though cleverly shot the doggie drama (no pun there, really) back to the US . We have told the dogs they must leave and they have already. What will the US do when the dogs arrive back to LA Airport? It seems the dogs might be stateless. Oh no, the US is going to murder Depp's dogs! We need another petition.

My personal apologies to you for participating in such a distraction of the masses but nevertheless, shame on our slack arsed authorities.

Note, the names of the involved authorities may not be correct. I never know who does what at the airport.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday Ferreting

Ferreting around for something to post that is not too serious.

I've known a few South Asians in my time who were their early twenties. The state of skinny did not last for any time with the consumption of rich curries. The state of skinny did not really last for me either, without the consumption of many curries. A grape product is my weight undoing.

Quite probably true.

Don't mind if I do. (Click on the photo to see the small print under)

I pointed this out to Non Dreaded Nephew on a car parked outside a pub. Pls explain laddie? Ah, I think it is a bar off Smith Street in Collingwood. I think I've been there, he said. He was on the mark. It is a bar in Smith Street Collingwood but I don't see any nearby Kent Street on the electric street map. Clever advertising really. I see it, take a photo and write about it, except even though I have a diverse range of readers, you are just all so the wrong demographic.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Up to Upfield

A few of you cleverly worked out we were in the suburb of Broadmeadows when I took the photo of the Turkish food signs but to narrow it down, we were in Upfield, just a locality really, with a railway station terminus. Up to Upfield is wrong in train parlance as trips from the city to the suburbs by train are usually down trips. I had thought about taking the half hour train trip for a while and the time seemed right for R and myself to do it. It was a nice little trip there and back, with some time at the Upfield terminus for a bite to eat and coffee.

Upon completion of the trip, I realised I have travelled over most of Melbourne's train lines and I should make it a tick off thing. I have yet to travel to Frankston and then by a connecting train to Stony Point. The day before I planned to travel to Stony Point, the line was shut down for safety reasons and won't reopen for some time, I haven't yet been to Epping South Morang, to Broadmeadows Craigieburn (train termini change but I don't). I haven't done the Cranbourne leg of the Dandenong Pakenham line, or travelled the Lilydale leg of the Belgrave line.

We departed Flinders Street Station on time. Rubbish bins disappear and then reappear as terrorists incidents occur. It seems they have finally decided that these bins won't hide a bomb......unless it is wrapped in newspaper. Why the different coloured lids? They are not marked rubbish and recycling.

A docklands building. Quite striking really, like being hit on the head with some abstract art.

Oh, this building. I did not realise until we were nearly past. See on the far end where there is what looks like a colour change to yellow. It is the Lacrosse building where a fire started on a 10th floor balcony because someone put out a cigarette in a plastic container sitting on a timber table. Flames developed and shot up the side of the building from one balcony to another, fed by a non approved cheap Chinese building material called Alcubust. Fire procedures worked quite well with no one injured but the building had to be evacuated and no one could return to live there for some time, that is some 400 people. I may write a bit more about this the future as fires in highrise buildings are naturally of concern to me.

There's our Observation Wheel, which is good, except for what can be observed from the wheel. Boring!

We had passed Spencer Street Southern Cross Station and are arriving at North Melbourne where there is a quite unhappy aesthetic marriage between the new and the old.

The next station to stop at is Flemington Bridge which is kind of under a freeway and highly elevated from the street too. Then through Royal Park with a stop at the zoo and then after exiting the park the line runs parallel to Sydney Road for a number of kilometres with the Sydney Road trams very close by as far as Batman. Years ago there was talk of removing the Sydney Road tram and converting the railway line to a light rail. Thankfully it did not happen.

After Merlynston  Station the train enters Fawkner Cemetery with the dead to the left and right of us.Once past Fawkner, the train motors really whirred into action, getting us up to just over 80km/h according to my phone app and that is in an oldish train. We were sitting in a motor carriage for the return journey, hearing the loud crack from the power system when the driver cut the power.

There were a lot of food places to eat at in Barry Road near Upfield Station and right across the road is the massive Ford factory, sadly about to close. The train line does go on after Upfield as a single track with a number of sidings for freight to be loaded and then joins the dual gauge mainline north.

There was much graffiti observed on our return.

Ideal Dreams?

Oh dear.

Whatever this was at Brunswick, it appears to be closed.

Train interiors are not immune from graffiti. Sydney is presently trialling a train paint that sends an electronic signal if spray can paint is detected. A central point is alerted, the onboard camera views examined and the offenders nabbed a station or two later.

About That Mess.

Back in town.

A shabby building in the foreground, but I seem to recall it won't be demolished.

You would not believe how close the trains go to this building, almost rendering the balconies unusable. The trains are on viaducts though, and so travelling quite slowly. I hope they have double glazing.

Some fish at the aquarium are featured.

The Immigration Museum, formerly a customs house. Across the way is the river, and the old ship turning basin when goods were delivered by ship right into the city.

Probably an old pub. I feel I should know something about the building, but I can't remember.

Ah, back to civilisation, Flinders Street Station is sight.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Changing gears

I think I know what irony is and I think this is an example of irony. If you don't know, America is the land of cars with automatic gears, whereas the UK is the land of cars with manual gears, as is Europe generally.

For once I am very pleased Australia has followed the US and prefers cars with automatic gear changing. Some still choose manual cars here and you do often have to pay more for an automatic car, but when the time comes to sell or trade it in, good luck. You'll need it. Even people buying used cars want automatics.

So when the American

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A tale of two neighbours part 1

To my astonishment we have lived in the Highrise for about 13 years, far longer than we have any lived anywhere. I plan to stay here, but Household Management would like a nice townhouse with a yard, a little garden and a pet, rather like our house we sold in Balaclava. The Highrise could almost be certified as a self care nursing home, somewhere where you can live without bother if you are in a wheelchair. The Highrise is very friendly to the lesser abled. I ain't planning to leave.

We get along with our neighbours in our building, mostly because we have little to do with them beyond  a 20 second chat in the lift and our soundproofing is good. Some people you enjoy seeing in the lift. With some people you follow their lead and keep your eyes down. Because we were once on the body corporate committee of our building we do know the right people in the building, the permanent long term owners who care about where we all live, our home.

This scenario did not happen, but R and I could have be sitting on our balcony taking in some fresh air, both with our mobiles in hand. There was an easterly wind, and onto our balcony came a flood of water saturating us, ruining our phones, and with balcony door open, wetting our carpet with a mixture of water, debris and potting mix. What did happen when we weren't sitting on the balcony and the door was not open was a flood of water cascaded down onto our balcony and driven in by the wind, a mixture of water, potting mix and debris was all over our balcony.

This in not a good neighbourly thing to do. There has been a annual change of tenants above so I was well aware of who I might have been dealing with when I walked up the stairs to point out the error of their ways. Yet, I was not prepared well enough as I don't know how to converse in corporate speak. Instead of an apology, won't happen again mate, I was confronted by a bearded 30 year old hipster who challenged me strongly. I declined his invitation to come in and sit down and discuss the problem. When he mentioned that his balcony needed washing, I suggested he use a mop like we do, he said, well there would be still water. It was clearly pointless arguing with him, so I left with my last words being, I am just asking you to not do that again. I was prepared to take it further and having him breaching building rules by the renting company and I knew there was a clause in the body corporate rules about such a matter involving balconies. It has not happened again, so there has been no need to take it further. 

No doubt I sound like a grumpy old man, but the prospect of us being doused in water from overhead, ruining our phones and spoiling our carpet is not something I take lightly. Had he have just said sorry mate, didn't realise, all would have been fine. Now I have real set against smart mouthed corporate type hipsters. With such arrogance I say, how could he speak to me so arrogantly. Doesn't he realise how long I have lived here. Doesn't he realised I know influential people in the building. Doesn't he realise I know the body corp rules. Doesn't he realise how old I am and he should show me some respect. Such stupid self aggrandising thoughts came to me because I was very angry.

This was to be about two neighbours, the good and the bad. I've done the bad and it is quite long enough. The good neighbour will be part 2.


Monday, May 11, 2015

Vote early, vote often

#politics101 At voting age optimistically vote for your preferred candidate or party and over the next three to six years become disappointed and disillusioned. Repeat the full process above once every three or four years until death.

Note before reading, for my own ease I use the Australian term electorate. Constituency and seat seem to be the UK equivalents.  Conservative Party = Tory.

I should not make light of our freedom to vote and choose our political leaders and parties. People fight and die for such a right in our world and we at times take it for granted. It is my democratic duty and the law tells me I must vote and vote I do. I would still do so if I wasn't compelled. As Carol in Cairns wrote, you can hardly complain about governments if you don't vote.

I don't understand the US electoral system. It seems complicated with electoral colleges, primaries, chads and goodness knows what else. In Australia we received saturation coverage of US elections and I quickly tire of hearing about it for what seem like very long months.

Not so the UK elections. There is minimal reporting here and our media only gets stuck into it for a few days at most.  The system is similar to ours although the House of Lords, the equivalent of our Senate, is not elected. Local party members for each seat get together and vote on a candidate for the seat they are contesting and that person is put forward to represent the party and for the public to choose to vote for or not, probably preferring another party's candidate. Some will vote personally for a candidate, some will vote for the represented party.

The Guardian website had this terrific live vote counting interactive map, constantly being updated as results became known. I am not sure how this will appear once published as I am not very experienced with screen grabs, but any of you can see Scotland up top with all that yellow of the Scottish Nationalist Party blitzing almost all parties. A tiny blob of red shows Labour retaining one seat, Edinburgh South and the Conservatives in blue only just retaining one seat in the south of Scotland. They grey areas when I took this snapshot were undecided seats. See the red mass in the north east of England? That is where R comes from, solid Labour. Good to see John Gray of Wales lives in a red mass too, with only a few Welsh seats in the colour blue.

Here we are with the completed map. I did have a look at what happened in Northern Ireland and it was most interesting, but I won't go into that here. NI is the bit floating off to the left. Very obvious is the red London Labour Party hole in the blue Tory doughnut in the south although it does seem to me that Labour does extend somewhat into the home counties surrounding London.

What else is there to note? See out to the right of London, the small purple bit? That is the anti immigration and anti European UKIP's only seat. It seems they lost a seat somewhere, perhaps to the steam rolling Scottish Nationalist Party. I love that the winning seat electorate is called Clacton. It sounds like the perfect place for UKIP supporters. But I am not at all snooty about UKIP. With something like 4,000,000 votes, the major parties need to have a good close look at why UKIP has such high support, even though it only won one seat in the first past the post voting system. I suspect it is from those left behind in the economic growth, those who are mixed into the social problems that can arise from high and unfettered immigration and so forth. The unlikeable and now former leader of  UKIP makes a very good point that the system is unfair when UKIP won 13% of the votes but only one seat.

Now, what are those two odd colours out on the south coast of England? A Labour red in Hove next to Brighton. Well the workers for the wealthy pleasure seekers in Brighton have to live somewhere. And look next to that? Brighton itself! All those homosexuals and leftist arty types voted Green and gave the Greens its only seat. Hmm, wonder who I am thinking of now! While the Green vote is less than half the Green vote in Australia, it has increased in this election.

The surprising result saw the resignation of party leaders for Labour, Liberal Democrats and United Kingdom Independence Party with current Tory Prime Minister David Cameron doing surprisingly well.

On a local political note, it was sad to see Australian Green's leader, Senator Christine Milne retire from parliament this week. She has done very well as party leader after taking over from Bob Brown. I watched her address the National Press Club and take questions afterwards and she was brilliant. She should go into politics I thought. We she did, some twenty five years ago. Like many Tasmanian Greens including her party predecessor, she had been arrested and gaoled for environment protest action. Australian politics will be the poorer for her future absence. Thank you Christine. 

The address should be available for Australian's to view very soon at Photo from News Limited.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Sunday Selections

A quick Sunday Selection today. Check our River's here and Elephant Child's here.

It must have been a weekday when we went to Acland Street, St Kilda a couple of weeks ago for lunch. This is an old photo of one of five trams our tram company leased from the French city of Mullhouse. I seem to remember the GFC knocked out the grand tram expansion plans in Mullhouse and they found themselves owning trams surplus to their requirement. Our government had phased out some old trams, rather too  many, and found itself short of trams in a time of expanding patronage, so five of these were leased from Mullhouse. They were eventually bought outright. The bright decoration over the original colour pleased many people, but not all. After a time they started to look very shabby.

They were redone in the standard scheme, with this nice little touch referencing the original appearance, rather like the phoenix symbol on Brisbane trams rebuilt after a depot fire in the early 1960s.

We had a nice lunch at a place we like, 95 Espresso Bar, and then took a wander along the street. There must be a Chinese restaurant down this arcade.


There are a couple of novelty gift shops and we usually have quick look at a fiddle with things. As you can see it was so hot in the shop, clocks had melted.

We were looking after Jack again and he missed us while we were out for lunch not a bit.