Saturday, December 26, 2015

Dear ABC

Our ABC TV chose to broadcast a national news service on Christmas night, rather than state based local news broadcasts. I have no problems with that. It is a public holiday and minimal staffing means many more people can celebrate the occasion with their families. The mix of stories was national and evenly spread. I would almost say well done ABC, but at least twice we saw backdrops of ABC News, New South Wales. How could our ABC get such a simple thing so wrong?

Well, on Boxing Day on ABC Victoria local digital radio, they really got it wrong. Off air with soothing music for a time, multiple voice streams overlaying, audio crossings that did not work, dead air. Declan, the work experience kiddie was clearly out of his depth as he sat at the controls. I am only a little bit stupid and I know how difficult things can be behind the scene, but still these are such basic areas of radio broadcasting. I am not normally very demonstrative but when R asked me what is wrong with the radio, I threw my hands in the air and said some naughty words.

By all means ABC, give staff time off and cut costs but you need to make sure someone is in place who knows the stuff.

Failed You Tube Friday (appearing Saturday)

I've not come across much on You Tube of late that amuses me. I do have a couple of photos up my sleeve though. The first I saved ages ago when Ann O'Dyne drew my attention to it.

This requires some translation for you foreign types, but I am sure you all have similar locales near to you.

Frankston and Moe have areas of extreme social deprivation and issues.
Moccies are mocassins,  an indoor shoe worn outdoors by a certain demographic.
Dole is unemployment benefit.
Mullet is a hair style from the 1980s, short at the sides and long at the back, often dyed blond.
A slab is a carton of cans of beer, 2 dozen I think.

From a Tumblr, it is going to take quite a motor to get this wheel turning again. I find such things so sad.

Dog Jack has stayed at The Highrise three times in the past couple of months. He marks everything outside he possibly can.

Friday, December 25, 2015

'Tis the 25th!

A few Christmas images on this Christmas Day. As I have said, this day has some historical importance but for me no religious importance. It is a family day. While I am at work, my family is enjoying Christmas Day dinner (lunch), this year hosted by ABI Brother. Increasingly decrepit Mother has organised tables by Tradie Brother, provided table cloths and told her ABI son to put his air con on early so that his house in cool for Christmas dinner. It will be a barely organised bunfight but no one will leave hungry. While in one way I am pleased to miss the chaos, in another I hate missing the family Christmas gathering. I cast my mind back to 1979 when I joined my employment and remember that words were said to me, 'you may have to work unsociable hours at times'. Over the years it has proved to be thus. I am compensated with penalty rates, but what price do you put on missing family Christmas gatherings. Maybe someone will save me a roast spud.

R iced the cake very well, marzipan then white icing. I hope it tastes as good as it looks, not that I eat icing.

Telstra has finally opened its renovated store. I have yet to look inside. As you can see, the verse is a tempter to get your inside. It says,
A week before Christmas
Excitement was looming
Santa was pumped
And keen to go zooming
He'd sourced all the presents 
And assembled the team
So he bolted for home
With a full head of steam.

A hand made card from Sister, Bone Doctor and Little Jo. I don't think any of their hands did the making. They are real buttons.

A card from one of R's sisters. It makes me feel young to be referred to as boyfriend.

Mother places great store on the words on or in a card, so we have to always be sure to get a card with the right words when we buy for her. She herself makes a great effort.

She is large fiery red haired and to quote her, 'dangerous at times' but what a gorgeous home made card she sent us. I wonder after a decent interval, I can pawn the pearls?

City Square.

Our tree at night.

In the daylight. Another of R's sisters sent the floor tree surround. She makes them and sells them for £40. There is quite a bit of work in it but I am not sure I like it that much. I should have taken a close up to show the finer work and the sparkly bits.

Degraves Street subway.

QV shopping centre square.

We should have a little Christmas music to conclude. How about an Aussie Christmas carol? I am not sure which to use. I rather like this staff performed acappella Carol of the Birds, filmed at the ABC's Ultimo centre in Sydney, but to really hear the words and read them as well, maybe the second one will please you more.

Seasons greetings to you all. (I deleted the Merry Christmas and anti Happy Holidays rant)

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Royals among us

Good lord. We nearly had a royal lad drowning in Queensland last week when little Prince Christian, son of Denmark's Crown Prince Frederik and Australian born Princess Mary, was caught in a rip at Mermaid Beach and had to be rescued by a lifesaver. You foreigners really need to be careful in our waters. Your chances of being eaten or killed by one of our many venomous species is low, but your odds of drowning are a good bit higher. I just searched for a photo and found this one at News Limited. After seeing a few other photos, GAY! It is ordained.

To another royal story that I almost missed. A pauper died while sitting under a tree with his dog in the Northern Territory town of Katherine.  Kind of a sweet way to go really. A brief clutch at the chest and then just sagging a little. I can imagine him sitting with his back against the trunk of the tree and his loyal dog licking his hand while sitting beside him as he died. Who was he?

He was no less than Leonid Gurevich Kulikovsky, the great grandson of Tsar Alexander III, who reigned in Russia during the 1880s. He lived incognito in Australia since 1967. His car broke down in Katherine some years ago and he never moved on. If you have been to Darwin you could not help but of heard of the Paspaley pearling family, well Paspaley's Pearls at least, and they kindly allowed him to be buried in their private Greek family grave in Darwin. I assume the Paspaleys paid his funeral expenses. I can't find photos of him as an adult but here he is at a young age with his grandmother, Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna who was sister of Tsar Nicholas II and daughter of Alexandra III of Russia. Oh, those Romanovs. Intriguing to the last.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

We are rid of our drawers

On Monday a hard rubbish collection was announced for the building by the way of public notices in the lift etc. Put out between 5pm Tuesday and 5am Thursday.

Today, Wednesday, was my day off. R can't bear our building manager but I know he is a useful person to cultivate. I roll my eyes upwards at him and give the impression of being of being subservient to him and if he asked me to ???, I would oblige. He is a quite nice looking pale skinned Sri Lankan. Thus, I had no problem getting him to fetch for me the building trolley to cart our drawers downstairs to the collection area.

One large and then separately two small sets of drawers fitted perfectly onto the trolley and by 11am we had our drawers out in the street for collection by the local council hard rubbish collection people. At 11.30 we drove out to take the car to be washed, refill the barbeque gas bottle, put petrol in the car and have some lunch at Station Pier.

By 11.30 when we left the building, our drawers had been snatched. You would have to be quite prepared to be ready to pick up our old and not so clean drawers on the street at such short notice. I suspect either the building cleaner or the building manager took them. No problem with that, but next time a similar situation arises, I might just gently ask the building manager if anyone he knows of anyone would like our used drawers (and they can damn well carry them).

Our drawers were quite heavy and left marks on the carpet at their temporary location but R got busy with the iron and a damp cloth and easily raised the indented carpet pile.

That'll learn 'em

Is there a Twitter hashtag #Trapped by Telstra? I am sure there is a #I hate Telstra.

Telstra is our large, formerly government owned, telecommunication company. Both our mobile phones are out of contract and Telstra has taken advantage by increasing the cost of each phone plan by $10 to $35. We may make two calls a month and send a few text messages. $5 of the cost is for a data allowance of 250mb.

I was a bit cross about it. I called Sonny in Telstra's Philippines call centre who apologised profusely. What annoyed me most that we weren't notified. I noticed our bundle bill was a little higher and checked the bill as to why.

Sonny was no comprende about any reason for the cost increase. His final suggestion was pay as you go. That would probably mean we would lose our phone numbers that we have had for years, nearly two decades in my case. Telstra's pay as you go is expensive anyway. I looked at alternatives. Aldi uses the Telstra network as does Woolworths. They do offer a cheaper service.  I checked with R and eventually agreed with him that it was all too hard.

Our internet comes via a Telstra cable to our desktop computer where a modem then distributes a wi fi signal. The modem is also cable connected to the computer. TPG has installed equipment in our building to provide customers with high speed fibre optic, but the last stage of it is via the copper phone wiring in the building Their price and bundles are extremely competitive. This is tempting, except our phone outlet plugs are not near the computer desk and there is no easy way to get the phone line near to the computer. Again I feel trapped by Telstra, but wait.

We are overdue replacing our grandfather's axe computer and the next one will be able to wi fi. There is no reason why the modem can't sit at the telephone point and our desktop pick up the signal. Telstra, finally gotcha! I and others have been very tolerant over many years of your behaviour but increasing the cost of our mobile phone plans was the point where you tipped us over and killed the remaining goodwill we had towards what was our government owned phone company.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas Trams

Tram route 2 in Budapest runs along the eastern side of the Danube in Pest. It is a popular tramline for tourists (yes, we travelled the length of route 2 in both directions) and well used by locals too. Where better than to run Christmas trams than along the banks of the Danube. 0:14 Budapest has taken delivery of new 56 metre long Urbo trams, made by CAF in Spain. These trams can be found all over the world including Sydney. I expect CAF will supply trams for Sydney's new but yet to built south eastern light rail and I am guessing in the same configuration as the 56 metre trams in Budapest.

Meanwhile well to east, it seems Odessa's tram system is being run down. This could be deliberate policy and they will be replaced with buses or there really is just no money in the Ukraine to maintain the system. 4:21 but no need to watch more than 40 seconds. Note: Things may not be as bad as they look as I have seen the distortion effects of certain camera lenses before in videos like this.

Melbourne's Christmas Sleigh Tram may look good at night but I don't think much of it in the daylight. Photo by Yarra Trams.

Speaking of Melbourne trams, I was not excited at all by this years tram art decoration efforts so I won't bother showing you photos beyond this one that I liked a bit.

Melbourne has the largest tram/light rail system in the world if it is measured by route length at 250 km but from the list I am looking at Budapest has the highest numbers of travellers at nearly 400 million per annum, as against Melbourne's at a mere 180 million which is much exceeded by many tram cities.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Sun Rise

Our balcony faces almost directly east. It amazed me when we moved here some fourteen years ago to realise that the sun rises in such a different place at each equinox solstice. Yes, I did know that but I did not realise to what extreme it happened. If you look to the left in the photo, that is toward the north, that is where the sun rises in the winter. In fact at the winter equinox we get about five minutes of direct sunlight as the sun rises and it then disappears behind the front of our building. This time of the year we get direct sunlight until about noon. I estimate the difference to be about seventy degrees on the compass.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Way home from Merri Creek

I say farewell to the Merri Creek and Yarra River.

This is Turner Street, on which I walked up from the Yarra River.

Efficiency would have told me to then turn left and make my way to the main entrance of Victoria Park Station, but I did not. I continued along Turner Street. Not many buildings have street names on them in Australia but this house did. As have most properties along this street, this one had a large extension.

A delightful streetscape.

A classic early Victorian period cottage where a professional type probably once lived. There will be a hallway behind the front door with a series of rooms, bedrooms and living rooms, off to the side. At the rear of this house, unlike its original state, the house will be full width and open to a nice courtyard. Somewhere, a nice bathroom will have been installed and while it will still be small, it will be a very nice place. Such wonderful polychromatic brick work.

This is a very handsome house. Quite large enough for one.

Tracks to school, an attempt to encourage children to walk to school. Where am I? I forget the suburb name but I expect quite a number of children in this area walk to school. If you find independent young children anywhere in Melbourne, they will be in our inner northern and north eastern suburbs. With their hipster university educated parents who hold professional jobs with big firms but flaunt their green lefty credentials, it is a sure thing that they will bring up very clever and confident children.

I had no idea I would come across Victoria Park, former home to the Collingwood Football Club (Australian Rules). It is undergoing a lot of works. We still have most of the various old suburban football grounds, from the days when it was Victorian Rules before it became a national competition. St Kilda's Junction Oval, North Melbourne's Arden Street, Carlton's Princess Park, Hawthorn's Glenferrie Oval and some remnants of the Fitzroy football ground, which I showed you a year or so ago in my old Inner Circle train line walk.

It seems like this old entrance is to be kept.

Some historical dates with details carved into stone.

The rear side of the entrance.

Works were happening as sport was being played.

I think it is just terrific and it is wide open to the public. The Sherrin Stand to your left and the Bob Rose Stand to your right.

Another former entrance.

More information. I was a bit tuckered out so I did not stop to read.

Still a work in progress.