Saturday, September 12, 2015

Critters 1. Motorists 0

I thought this You Tube video was so funny. Do you remember it? The one where the old people were crossing the road at a crossing to a shop, the shop was closed, so they started back across the crossing etc.

While driving home a week or so ago along Lakeside Drive, I was on a curve in the road and the traffic stopped because a swan want to cross the road, actually two swans. No need for a do gooder show off to melodramatically get out of their car and hold up their hand to stop traffic. Lakeside Drive users know the drill. You stop for swans who want to cross the road. They have no fear of cars because cars stop for swans who want to cross the road.

But a bit like in the the afore mentioned video, two swans crossed the road. I was about five cars back. After they crossed, two cars proceeded, and then the two swans decided they wanted to go back across the road and turned back and crossed the road again. What a laugh I had as they ponderously waddled across the road again. It takes a bit for me to smile on the way home from work.

Photo from Quirky China News. Apparently the swans are feeding the fish.

Friday, September 11, 2015

A day off

Tram into town, Latrobe Street, tram down to Collins Street, 48 tram to East Melbourne, 48 tram back, tram back to Latrobe Street, tram home. This is how many inner Melbourne people travel. Yet, am I a public transport expert? No. But for some reason it seems to stamped on my forehead of what I think of as being is my sour and don't speak to me visage. Three times I was asked questions about trams.

One was from older people, Australian tourists and fair enough, but two were from younger people who seemed very local. Why can't they work this out themselves from their phones? I am nearly sixty years old. I have the necessary phone apps for public transport, a meagre data allowance, but I know where to get free wifi. What is wrong with young people that they have to ask me for information from an anon old bloke that is so readily available to them on their phones?

Just to pander to my gay readers and female readers who have an interest, the hottest looking guy sat opposite me on the tram. I had my dark sunglasses on and examined him from head to foot. I did detect his nose was somewhat aquiline, but still, very nice. Slim but not skinny, tight jeans and fitted shirt, well groomed and nice shoes.  Blow me down, the same bloke was on the tram when I was coming home, except I was facing forward and he was on a sideways seat and so in profile. Wouldn't have given him a second look if I had not seen him earlier in the day and I was no longer interested.

When I was travelling into town on the tram, a group of school kids boarded. I could not work the group out. Although they were wearing uniforms, the uniforms were not the same and certainly not from any private school I know. One lad had a great dark hair style and with Mediterranean looks but was overweight and will not look good in a few years. Actually not even that great as a young person. All hair and no substance. Perhaps he is a really nice guy. Another was a slim and tall blonde lad with spots all over his face and carried himself in a slightly gay manner. But wait. He is wearing mascara and eyeliner. I thought I knew all the Melbourne alternative schools but I have no idea where this lot were from.

In other news, ABI Brother called tonight to tell me he did what I told him not to do, update his AVG virus checker to Pro Trial instead of free and now AVG want payment. I will sort it out for him next month. I am sure his computer will remain protected against the outside intrusions. It is what he does with his computer and the intrusions he agrees to that are the problem.

Sent sms to Sister and cc to Bone Doctor that we won't be visiting them in October, instead going to the Gold Coast. No reply, as I expected. Bone Doctor is riding around the bay when we will be away. I expect Sister had intentions of doing part of the ride, with us looking after Little Jo. Tough. They can stay here of course if they want, if they elbow Jah Teh out of the way while she is here to spring clean our place.

Quickly written and off the cuff posts are perhaps improved by a photo. I thought she was headed for the same tram as I was, but no, she went on to Jolimont Station. She ripped off some jasmine along the way and sniffed it.

Extreme holiday behaviour

How many holidays should one have per year? Is not Sydney enough? Is not Canada and New York enough? I have three weeks off work in October. I had a rostered week off already and I added two weeks of my precious long service leave to the week. We should go away for a couple of days, I suggested to R. He was enthusiastic.

Well then, how is this for a plan? A night at Sister's on the Bellarine, then a couple of nights along the Great Ocean Road on Victoria's spectacular west coast and a couple of nights in Halls Gap in the Grampians? I have wanted to see the Grampians after passing by when we were returning by car from an Adelaide holiday a few years ago. I can reference what Dina and Red said about the Grampians and Halls Gap when they visited.

R seemed happy enough with this but late at night I realised he was not really enthusiastic and I am not sure I was that much either. After our long and very cold winter, what about somewhere warm, easy to get to, easy to amuse us without hard work and given it would be our third holiday for the year, somewhere cheap.

I planted an idea in his head the next day when I said, what about the Gold Coast for a few nights? I was last there in 1978. Do you think it has changed? R has been a few times more recently with his previous job, taking some lesser abled people in our society on holiday and he quite liked the Gold Coast.

By lunch time the following day he had been busy on the internet when I arrived home for lunch but as happens in the initial planning of a holiday, he was very confused for the huge options. Over the next couple of hours, with me on the desktop and he on his tablet, we investigated all sorts of accommodation and deals. We have 10,200 points each with Virgin from last year's Euro trip. We could get a flight with 10,900 points plus $20. Damn, but I remember once before using points to fly to Sydney and the taxes that we had to pay nearly added up to the price of a cheap flight.

I've never really wanted to visit the Gold Coast again. Huge skycrapers, theme parks, children, bogans, heat and humidity although the weather should be ok in October.  Yet, I am a little excited about our visit.

It will be only for five nights and thanks to some good sleuthing, the flight and accommodation with cost just over $500 each, the accommodation being an ocean view studio apartment. This is the first time we will travel on the aircraft with black and yellow stripes. I only agreed because I understand it is now owned by Virgin. We won't be any higher than the 7th floor for the price we paid.

There are a few things to investigate, such as a bus to travel the 20kms from the airport to Surfers Paradise, the new tram system running along the Gold Coast and what to do while we are there, but otherwise a pretty relaxed and easy holiday.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

I did but see her passing by, yet I will love her till the day I die

So wrote someone once, and it was nauseatingly repeated by our late Prime Minister Menzies in front of a demure and clearly embarrassed young Queen. In a couple of days Betty Battenberg will become our longest reigning monarch, overtaking Queen Victoria. I use 'our' advisedly.

I love our Queen. I faithfully promised to love, honour and obey her. I was indoctrinated at a young age and no amount of logic and modern thinking can overrule my upbringing. I remain in awe of her and she has my utmost respect, in spite of her never making a comment on my blog.

Nevertheless, I think she is a figure that we can easily take the mickey make a little fun of. Let me see what photos I can find on the net to commemorate her long reign.

Young and beautiful Queen

Happy and gay Queen. Of them, I have known a few.

I am sure she is not like that really.

A demonstrative Queen. "Of course my sis Margaret is up there and not deep down below".

Dutiful Queen greeting someone she does not wish to know. It is not Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is it?

A bad night Queen, with a broken hand bag strap and someone slopped a vodka martini all over her dress.

An emo Queen, as nice things are said about her

An aghast Queen. Phillip probably made another racist joke and she has overheard him.

A sneering Queen. "Oh, a child".

Queen wondering what happened to the 'not for publication' stamp on her close up

Cross and stern Queen

Powder a bit too thick, Liz.

"Bloody Scottish weather. I despise it".

This infographic from I think a British tabloid newspaper has been hanging around in my 'For posting' photo folder for a couple of years, The World of Mrs Windsor

Cheers dears, or should that be prost.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Travel broadens the geographical knowledge

Our visit to North America resulted in me learning rather of lot of geography. I know where the larger Canadian states are. We had a cute captain when we canoed, so in a stalking like matter, I had know where his home province was, Nova Scotia. We spent time in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario. The capital city of Canada is Ottawa. The capital of British Columbia is Victoria on Vancouver Island. Calgary is a big city in Alberta Province and may be its capital.

I learnt that Canada is the second largest country in the world, bigger even than Australia, and it has rocks and trees........and water.

I learnt exactly where Niagara Falls are and interestingly that the river is only a waterway draining one lake to another. I've some knowledge of a couple of big lakes, the Trans Canada Highway, which runs across the sea to Vancouver Island as well as on land and the basic topography of some of Canada.

Again in stalker mode, I did look at where Strayer lives in Oregon, but until our visit to Vancouver, I did not know how close she is to the Canadian border. Rubye is even closer still in Portland.  

I now have a good idea of the layout of  Manhattan, New York, but I also picked up exactly where the other boroughs are, that the state of  New Jersey is just across the Hudson River and that it is arguable as to whether Manhattan is an island or not. Knowing the boundaries of New York State seemed important, so I have that down pat too.

I also have vague knowledge of Vancouver and Toronto and some smaller Canadian towns on the tourist trail.

You know though, the most marvellous thing about having blog mates all over the world is that I learn things about the countries they live in. I know heaps of things about Netherlands, England, Scotland and Wales, about Toronto, Budapest, Belgium, Spain and Poland. I've learnt so much about our great outback, about Adelaide, Perth, Canberra, Brisbane and Sydney and even Papua New Guinea. Do I want to know anything about northern Tasmania? I have only to ask. I know some about country Queensland and country New South Wales. I've also learnt that while the American stereotype might hold for many, the Americans I have contact with do not fit that stereotype at all. Of art, especially public art, culture and literature, flims, plays and various performances right down to busking. All quite marvellous really. I look forward to much more.

PS, it was doing my head trying to remember all of you, so if you feel left off the list, it's not that I don't care.........

PPS This was supposed to only be about geography. I got carried away a bit.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

A ghoulish addiction

Am I ghoulish?

It began at work when for some reason during a training course when we were shown a video of a fire at an old soccer stadium in Bradford, England . It was completely irrelevant to my work and I have no idea what the point of showing us the video was. This was in the very early days of the internet and the short piece was displayed by a video recorder tape. Some years later as the internet became very useful, I looked for the same piece, and sure enough, it was online. It was quite horrific and many people were killed.

Some years later a new enquiry was opened into the police outrage at the crowd crush at Hillsborough, Sheffield soccer stadium. Ah, I can see that online too.

Ah, Belgium, Heysel soccer disaster, plenty to see about that.

The ghoulish beast in me died and I stopped watching disaster videos on You Tube.

Well, I pretty well stopped watching them. There may have been a landslide, an ice collapse, a hurricane, a tornado, a tsunami, multiple train crashes, car crashes, chairlift disasters, crane collapses, building demolitions gone wrong and assorted other frailties of human endeavour.  But this was only occasionally.

I blame Canada. After our visit there, for a post yet to be published, I was checking train disaster statistics and I came across videos on You Tube called Seconds From Disaster, made I think by the National Geographic television station. The video was of a train crash in the Rocky Mountains, where we had been. It was a while ago and while it seems the crew of three had all fallen asleep and were deemed responsible for the crash, what was really the cause was appalling rostering practices by Canadian National, the employer of the staff. The two drivers had only a few hours sleep between shifts.

Next up was the Lac Megantic rail disaster in Quebec, the more recent train crash in Spain, another train crash in Paris, an air crash in Amsterdam, a runaway train in San Bernardino, more plane crashes, dam wall failures, a building collapse in Singapore, a bad train crash in Paddington, London. Floods, yes, the Mystery of the Mont Blanc Glacier Flood.

The re-enactments can be a bit tedious and melodramatic but I find the investigations and reasons why things go wrong to be compelling and so often it is the human element to blame. However, improvements in processes by management and improvements with technology can often reduce or even remove human errors, as much as some people dislike a loss of personal control.

This was going to be a separate post, but I may as well included it here. This is not a proper study of statistics, but I thought 441 people killed in ten train crashes in Canada's railway history was alarming. I had a look at Australian statistics, and I worked it out to about 326, not greatly less especially if the steep and rugged Canadian terrain is taken into account. One obvious matter can not be denied. In both countries rail travel has become increasingly safer and there is no comparison in the stats between death by train than death by motor car. Trains are just so much safer than motor cars and in my opinion, more relaxing.

Monday, September 07, 2015

A bad move by Mount Scopus

From The Age:

Victoria's largest Jewish school will become the first in the state to employ armed guards, in a significant boost to its security.
From this week, guards with guns will be stationed at Mount Scopus Memorial College's three Melbourne campuses.

I think this is a  very unfortunate move by a Jewish school. I already feel uncomfortable seeing guards outside Jewish schools and temples. I can understand why history would lead to this, but I think it is quite unnecessary and paranoid. There have been isolated instances of harassment of Jewish people in the last decade or so, but no great plot, nothing mass organised.

The point I want to make is when you have massive security, it causes unease to those who the security is provided for. Every time a Jewish kid attends school, he or she will see an armed guard there to protect them from the 'the outside world'. This will frame their thinking for the rest of their life. They will lock within the box of their own world, race and religion, a backward move surely, as most people of Jewish heritage in Australia are well integrated within our society.

Australia is a relatively safe country for all races and religions. This move is just not necessary and will do no good for relationships between people of our nation. We have a police force to protect us and if it doesn't, the government is accountable.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Sunday Selections

I am joining River with Sunday Selections and this Sunday the photos are not so random and I think all taken on the same day, although some time ago.

The east of Federation Square is not a particularly attractive place. Note the very skinny modern building near the centre of the photo, in Flinders Street.

Famed for its graffiti and murals, Hosier Lane is ever popular with tourists but not really popular with me.

The Forum Theatre is owned by the Marriner Group and is badly in need of maintenance. David Marriner says he will stump up to have it restored if he can build a huge glass tower behind it.

The Duke of Wellington at the corner of Flinders and Russell Streets was established in 1853 and is Melbourne's oldest licensed (to serve alcohol) hotel.

Chanel, Russell Street.

I am guessing these are 'bunjils', an aboriginal word for eagles.

Louis Vuitton.

Scots Church on one corner.

St Michael's Uniting Church on the other.

Strange sculpture.

More strange sculpture, which I believe sits over a closed underground men's toilet.

How did traffic lights get up there?

Life is an illusion and this building may be too.

I must have changed trains in Richmond. Should buildings like this be saved? I believe so because what will replace it will be vile. This early Victorian style building sits comfortably in the street and a coat of paint is all that is needed.

In Balaclava now. This is what you do with old buildings. Make use of them in new construction.

The Greyhound Hotel looks fantastic now, especially when illuminated at night. The new block of flats next to it is ghastly and way too tall for the street. It looks even worse when viewed from across Brighton Road.