Saturday, December 05, 2015

Maccas Muck Up

It is to the credit of the wealthy middle class of Melbourne that McDonalds and places like Gloria Jeans and Starbucks failed in the salubrious suburbs like Camberwell and Malvern. It may well have only come about from snobbery, but it is a good result. Just a hundred metres away from The Highrise, Gloria Jeans has closed down, replaced by what I think is a local chain cafe. We have been to the new place a few times and rather like it.

But Andrew Highriser cannot forget his ever so common roots and had a hungering for McDonalds last Saturday morning. Instead of our usual brunch cafe choices, we visited McDonalds in Chapel Street for breakfast. R was in the past impressed by Little Jo's tech skills with ordering food on Maccas electric menu. Away R went, trying to emulate Little Jo's quick touch screen skills that concludes with Little Jo saying, I need your card to pay. He failed to see the note that said, printer not working, note you order number. By the time it came up on the screen that there was a problem, it was too late to see his order number.

C'mon, 'fess up, most of you would have seen the inside of a bustling Maccas. This store was almost empty of customers with only two staff behind the counter. Nevertheless, two customers were patiently waiting for their ordered food for quite a time. R paid out on the staff member over the failed machine. While he was doing so, I ordered my food on the other electric machine that did a have a working printer. I chose the same as R, including some kind of burger I had not heard of before. R was now trying to order over the counter the same meal for himself as I was having, except I know full well about McDonalds coffee and so I chose orange juice.

R was stressed, confused and bewildered and stepped back from the counter. I stepped in with my receipt. Sorry, that meal is not available until the 2nd of December, which raises the question as to why it was a valid selection on the electric menu selection system.

We then went the old fashioned method and ordered over the counter. We waited and waited for our meals, the longest wait I have ever had in McDonalds. The meals eventually arrived and the apologetic staff member had slipped in an extra hash brown each for us. I feel bad about eating one very unhealthy single hash brown, let alone two, but I did eat both. I suppose we had been the store less than half an hour, but not much less. We are in and out our usual Saturday morning cafes quicker than that, well no longer really. I can't see the store lasting much longer. Maybe it survives by being in a late night entertainment area and stays open very late.

Friday, December 04, 2015


Miss a day's posting and you blog is on the downhill slide. That is rubbish of course. But I didn't post anything today so here later is something that has been in the back of my mind for some time.

A Uber (it seems so wrong to not type 'an Uber') driver was today fined by the courts after undercover Taxi Directorate officers successful caught him operating illegally. Here is my view.

At some point in the distant past the laissez faire taxi business became so bad and dysfunctional for users that politicians found the need to regulate the industry. The taxi industry is now highly, albeit not so effectively, regulated. I see this as quite a good reason why Uber should not operate. If it was judged in the past that hiring cars for personal transport caused problems for society, then why allow a new system of unregulated hire cars to operate? Uber has to either be regulated or not be allowed to operate.

While if we were in a house, we probably would have solar panels on our roof and perhaps some kind of tank to collect roof water run off for the garden, again, I believe in the collective good. In the mid twentieth century, many people still had water tanks and still dealt with their own sewerage generation. Governments set up electricity supply departments, gas supply departments, water supply departments, telephone supply departments, sewerage collection piping systems and mail delivery departments.  Classically train and tram systems were brought into to government fold. Why? Because there was a need and it led to cheaper prices and better service than what the private operators offered. Private operation of these essential supplies failed.

Now many have been privatised and if not, they have been corporatised. Has this led to better service? In some ways yes, but at what cost? We taxpayers subsidise so many of these former government departments at such a great cost, so we may as well own them as taxpayers.

The latest newspaper headlines told how the public service has been reduced with a large saving to taxpayers funding, yet more than the public service bill reductions has been spent on private consultants.

Private enterprise is very good at supplying consumer wants, but not so good at supplying consumer essentials for the very obvious reason that private enterprise operates to make a profit.

Capital needs to be kept in a heavy government reign and not allowed to operate laissez faire. It disgusts me that so few high flyers paid any penalty for the Global Financial Crisis, which would have never happened if governments had their eyes on the ball and some control over the game.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

The mysterious case of the white underpants

I know I have got you in by the subject line. I might be able to bust a drug ring, as I did last week, but this is an unsolvable mystery.

These appeared to be freshly laundered and they were lying on my bed.

R, whose underpants are these?


No, they are not.

You mistakenly left them on my bed with my other clean jocks and socks.

I did not. I have never seen them before.

Well, I don't know whose they are then, and how did they get here?

There wasn't a plausible explanation. I may have had white underpants, but if I did, that would be three decades ago. They are my size, whereas R wears a larger size. As we both now wear the same brand, R cuts the labels off his so it is clear whose underpants they are when I am sorting out the washing. The label was intact and there was some odd loose red thread where another, a rear label, may have once been attached.

One explanation I can think of is that Bone Doctor left a pair here, but I know she wears men's Y fronts, as she refuses to pay outrageous much higher prices for women's underwear. They wouldn't fit Sister.

We have looked after Dog Jack for four days twice over the past three weeks. Did they somehow arrive here in his bag of food and goodies?

Aside from the furniture delivery men, Dog Jack's mum is the only person aside from us who has been inside the apartment for well over a month.

We did have to empty out drawers with the arrival of the new furniture. Did they come from a drawer?

I'm afraid I really don't believe any of these possible explanations. The only one that makes sense is that they are a very old pair of R's from back in the days when he wore a smaller size. They are the Jockey brand and 100% cotton, as he used to wear.

But never mind, the underpants are in the washing basket and as they are my size, I will wear them.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Merri walk 4 Pt 1

The Epping train line is no longer. It is now called the South Morang line. I once thought of travelling to Epping just for a look. I quickly came to my senses. Continually renaming railway lines as new stations are added or a line extended is so stupid. We don't hear the automated 'mind the gap' announcements on our train system, but you do see some signage at times. This is a temporary sign and I wonder why. Is the gap temporary? We don't seem to have the gap size that can be seen on London's Tube.

Like a horse and carriage go together, so too do peppercorn trees and railway lines.


I left the train at Rushall Station and the next couple of shots are from the bridge over the creek which I had to cross as the path was only on the eastern bank.

It was an overcast day, so I set the camera to cloudy. That was a mistake.

Not nearly as much vandalism in this latter part of the full walk, but still some.

A nice bridge for High Street.

Not a clue what this colourful wreath like thing is for.

Another bridge, perhaps for the Hurstbridge train.

The writing begins, Welcome to the traditional lands of my father's people.

Ducks grazing on some underwater growth.

The project, whatever it was, marks the 150th anniversary of the State of Victoria.

Believe me, over the four days it took to complete the walk, I was constantly scanning the ground for Joe Blakes.

This would be some type of acacia, or wattle tree if you like. The are generally fast growing but short lived trees. On a very hot sunny day, these pods will begin popping open and the seeds will fly out. The seeds are very hard and it can take a hot fire to crack them open. You can actually hear them popping open quite easily. The sound like the cracking of a thin dry twig.

Friends of Merri on Parade. It seems it was once called Ross Creek, but I can only ever remember it as Merri Creek.

Somebody is in a bit of strife.

A very nice place to sit, but I didn't.

Housing with a view of the creek, nice.

Crossing to the other side.

Well, that is road to nowhere.

"Fido, don't walk on the wet.........". Too  late.

What are these fragments of something strewn around.

More up here.

And here. I guess a fence above has fallen apart and it construction fallen down the bank. I think above me at this point I could hear a megaphone being used at what sounded to be a school, but looking at a map, probably the Collingwood Little Athletics Centre.

Now this is a great bluestone bridge, I guess carrying Heidelberg Road traffic up above.

More of that cotton like stuff.

A circular pattern of cyclists.

A nice seat and table for a break. While a bruschetta washed down with a gin and tonic would have nice, I settled for my bread and butter and some water.

Look Mitchell, we have pole walkers here too.

Housing Commission (government) flats in I guess Northcote.

Creek would be down there.

Getting very civilised now.

For wetland read swamp. Swamps are very important to native plants and animals and should not be drained.

"Oh no Fido, not again."

An odd little dam with a viewing platform. Nothing to see here. Moving on.

There were a lot of bell miner birds around, or as we call them, bell birds. They make quite a sweet sound but it does become boringly repetitive after hearing them for long time. They are quite loud.

Part 2 of day 4 soon.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Trolley boats

Trams and trolley buses use electricity coming from overhead power wires. They connect to the wires via poles or pantographs. Pantographs are what you normally see on a diesel train (just checking to see if you are concentrating). If a tram uses a pole, it only needs one pole as the electricity comes in and then goes out (earths) via the metal wheels on the metal tracks (I need to keep it simple for you). Trolley buses with rubber tyres need two poles, one for the power and one for the earthing.

I am surprised to learn there are trolley boats. Clearly there are limitations. We can't string wires across the Pacific Ocean and I believe these boats featured in the photos were on canals in the US. As you can see, they needed two poles too.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Musical Monday

Playing a piano is not like riding a bicycle. You do forget how to play a piano, as I have and as Mother has and she was much better than I was ever. I am not really sure about riding a bicycle either. I am very wobbly now astride a bike. It was a few years now since I rode a bike for the first time after many years and I nearly fell into Albert Park Lake. I blamed the Grand Pricks infrastructure.

The hardest song I learnt to play was 'On the Street Where You Live', from My Fair Lady. It is a much recorded song by many. The older Placido Domingo made a pretty good job of singing it, with a full orchestra behind him. I did not have the benefit of an orchestra behind me when I played it on the piano, nor a good singing voice, but I still sang along at times.

So because it was only a piano piece for me, that is how I want it in a clip and I rather like this cute version from the at times not so cute English tv show, Skins. It is quite like how I used to play it and it truly is a lovely song. Don't forget to check River's Musical Monday.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sunday Selections

A P&O ship departs one evening. The photo turned out better than I thought it would.

Unless a bird accidentally drop laid a few eggs on the rooftop of the building next door, then someone in our building has been throwing eggs at the satellite dish. Guess party. Guess alcohol.

This is only a scale model of our iconic Flinders Street Station, set up as part of the Myer Christmas Window animated display.

The large telecommunications company Telstra is taking a very long time to renovate its huge shop. It has been closed for months, but this muriel adds something to the blankness of the wall.

The connection between a sheep and a chemist? Ewe tell me and we will both know.

While at times we would like to replace our lounge room furniture, we can never find a square coffee table as practical as this one. On the far side it is the same, a shelf and a drawer.

On this side is this stuffs.

And on the far window side is this stuffs. Well, can you imagine my surprise when I went to find a photo dvd and things has been reversed. DVDs and stuffs were on the window side and the burner stuffs were on the inside side. I was confused. Had the drawers been changed over or the whole unit turned around? Household Management was out but I later sought an explanation. A couple of days later actually as I forgot about it until the next time I opened the drawer. It seems the blank side that faces the chairs had a mark, so he turned the unit around and the mark now faces the tv, unseen by most.

Walking candy canes.

I think this would be sandstone, widely used in other Australian capital cities but not in Melbourne. We mostly use bluestone, a nice dark grey which suits the character of our city, a city where many people wear black. Go on, call us Bleak City if you will. We like it that way.

I thought one of these cars was my lift home, but they went straight past me.

I think these are all Asian students lining one of the walkways to the QV shopping centre. They look set to be there overnight or had been their overnight. Why?

AFL football grand final eve. We were in town with Little Jo. At Fed Square we saw this live tv broadcast happening. The red head is a high flyer in Geelong town and in media, Cameron Ling,  someone who I would be instantly prepared to dislike, but he seems like a really nice bloke. They were also up on the large Fed Square screen.

Mother is down to feeding three stray cats, thank god. I hope they are non breeding. While feeding stray cats was my late step father's thing, Mother kept them on in his memory and it was very problematic at times. Mother has rejected the one cat that really wanted to be an indoors cat and tried every which way to become a pet, to no avail. The cats are spoilt with top quality cat food and cat milk, twice daily. Mother says it is the reason she gets out of bed. I bet Strayer has heard all that before. The cats have become tamer as time has gone on. There was a time when if any strange person visited, they would all run to under the house and I could never have taken this photo.

Over the past few years I have tried to understand the internet currency Bitcoin. It is not backed up by a real currency. It has no value at any bank, yet can be spent. Your computer can generate Bitcoin, so make yourself rich in a rather odd currency. Please don't try to explain it to me. Like soccer's off side rule and golf scoring, I just don't want to know.

North Road Beach was a place of my childhood, but the beach has gone. It is now car parking, a beach wall and a restaurant/cafe. We were in the middle of a pleasant brunch and then had to quickly move to sheltered outdoor seating when a shower of rain arrived.

It is a nice spot. The cafe is a little on the expensive side, but we are in the posh area of Brighton. The staff were good.

Tea tree, tortured and twisted by wind, except it is not in a very windy spot. Learned behaviour, my friends.