Saturday, February 13, 2016

Hammering Trams

Melbourne has the largest tram system in the world by route measurement. Ours pales into insignificance against Sydney's former tram system, finally closed down in 1961. Sydney's tram system was much bigger than Melbourne's because Melbourne invested heavily in the train system rather than such an extensive tram system.

In spite of Melbourne having the largest tram system, it is also one of the world's slowest, much hampered by tram cars mixing with motor cars on congested roads. It is legacy system from years past. Most new systems being built are separated from cars as is the terrific new Gold Coast tram line, and I hope the about to be built new Sydney tram equals the Gold Coast tram for speed and priority over motor cars.

Nevertheless, Melbourne's tram system is very popular, at times overwhelmed by its popularity with very crowded vehicles. At times you would think Melbourne has the fastest system in the world where the trams get absolutely hammered by drivers using maximum acceleration and braking. I have travelled on trams in Budapest, England, Amsterdam, Toronto and Australia's Gold Coast and Sydney and nowhere have I experienced trams being driven like Melbourne's trams are at times. I can only put it down to our trams always running late.

It is no wonder they are often late when the authorities allow cars to queue across city intersections thereby preventing trams in the cross streets to proceed. It is illegal to enter an intersection unless you can clear the intersection, yet nothing is ever done about this.

Well, I was having a good old rant there but I am not sure where I was going now when I started this a couple of months ago.

Here are some photos then.

Before going out I often check to see what people on the street are wearing as a weather indicator. Up high on the balcony one can get a false impression, especially of wind but temperature too. Another indicator is the air conditioning fan on top of the German made Siemens Combino trams Once the temperature reaches 25 degrees, the air conditioning runs pretty well flat out and I can see the fans on various trams spinning. The one in the photo is not spinning, but if the next tram along has a spinning fan, it must be warm but not too hot. If they are all spinning, then it is hot. As you can imagine, if the air con is running non stop at 25 degrees, imagine when it is 40 degrees. Hopeless!

Southbank Tram Depot was closed down when the intersection of Whiteman and Clarendon Streets was reconstructed. The trams still ran on part of the route and were stored somewhere where the access to their normal route was via St Kilda Road, so there were some very odd tram bell sounds. These are big trams. Look, the one tram fills the entire trams stop. It is about 34 metres long. But Sydney's new trams will be 66 metres long.

Here it is against one of our 80s trams very loosely connected with a Swedish design, one of the usual trams we use to get to town or elsewhere. The big trams did not pick up people along the way  and I suppose displayed something like Sorry, Not Carrying Customers. Tram passengers are now customers. A better destination display might be, Out of Service.

Friday, February 12, 2016

A humorous evening

Hippie Niece called last week and asked if would like to see a comedy performance as her guest along with her part time partner, her brother Fire Fighting Nephew and his partner. After some confusion, the venue not being the Comedy Theatre in the city, but the Comic's Lounge in North Melbourne, we decided yes, although it would be a rush for me from work.

The day before Fire Fighting Nephew and his partner decided they couldn't make it, so there was just the four of us. Soooo, we had to cross the river to North Melbourne, always a slightly disconcerting experience for us who are firmly south of the river types. We had insufficient time to catch two trams, so although worried about parking we drove and easily found a parking space with plenty of time to spare. We came across Hippie Niece and her friend finishing a meal in Errol Street and after some chatting we entered the Comics Lounge.

The show was only advertised as being the comedian Mikey Robbins and nowhere did it say there would be other comedians. There were three other comedians and Mikey was mainly the host of the show but with some performing himself. This solved the puzzle in my mind about two and a half hours with one comedian. I should have known. There was quite a good crowd for a Wednesday night and we had a good time.

We saw Mikey out on the street while we were sitting and chatting. Of course the effing word was overused, certainly in the beginning of his performance. Use it for dramatic effect guys. Mikey was fine just being Mikey, as he has been for many years on radio and screen.

Next up was my favourite performer for the evening and although I had never heard of Gabriel Rossi before, he was very funny and I found him quite attractive in spite of him being fifty.

Next was a witty and rather clever comedian, Chris Wainhouse. He was a more laughing in your brain type person. Yes, very clever and well rehearsed and prepared. We believe Hippie's niece is from a Mormon family and he seemed to find the bible based humour very funny.

The last for the night was fine. His onstage time was a little too long I think, especially at the end of the evening. I've forgotten and can't find out his name. There was an obnoxious drug affected trio near the front of the stage and he had a good crack at them.

So yes, great night with good company, good performers and a good venue, but gosh does this socialising take it out of you. Luckily I had the next day off.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Updating The Duck scandal

A letter to the The Times of London. People have vowed to place their own ducks at the feet of Sir Nigel Gresley if the sculpted duck is removed. Refer back to my post here

Moving the Masses

I came across a couple of studies that I found particularly interesting because they rather go against the grain of popular thought.

I find escalators frustratingly slow. Why can't they be sped up? Old people can use a lift instead if they have issues. But does a faster escalator move crowds more quickly? You would think so but apparently not as a study in Moscow showed. It seems with a faster moving escalator, people leave more of a gap behind the person in front of them before they will step on to an escalator. The end result of the faster escalator test was that the same number of people were moved per hour.

The London Tube is an extraordinary beast. Within its cramped stations it moves a huge number of people quite efficiently, and although it does go wrong at times, even disruptions are generally well managed.

As an ignorant tourist, you may inadvertently do the wrong thing and stand on the left side of the escalator when using The Tube and you have made yourself a social problem to be dealt with by Londoners in various ways with a minimum of at least a filthy look. The left side is for walking, the right side is for standing, quite the opposite to here. But how to move more people up and down escalators in very busy times? An attendant with cattle prod to encourage more people to walk up and down the escalators? Only to be used on the young and fit of course. It seems the real answer is fill the escalators with people standing, leaving no room for those who like to walk. A series of trials were taken where with signage and people advising everyone to just stand on both sides of the escalator, leaving no room for walkers. The walkers, naturally, were not happy, with some becoming quite ballistic as they were stuck standing on the escalators. It is the case of a few inconvenienced for the greater good, that is clearing train platforms and stations more quickly. Will it become a permanent feature of London's Tube? Not on your nelly. Such habits are too ingrained in people although I expect it might be tolerated at the busiest stations but only with an attendant at the escalator along with some very firm signage, and of course, people will need to know why.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

The PM after the next two elections

This is Malcolm Turnbull. He is our Prime Minister. As I correctly forecast, he overthrew the previous Prime Mininster, Tony Abbott, and will lead the Liberal Party to successfully win the next Federal Election. Note, the Liberal Party is not very liberal but quite conservative. However, it is quite a bit more liberal under Turnbull. Former Prime Minister Abbott has been travelling in the US and speaking at a meeting of folk who don't believe in gay marriage or abortion or any other progressive social policies.

This man is Bill Shorten and he is leader of Her Majesty's Opposition party and leader of the Labor(sic) Party. He is not electable at all but why waste a good potential Labor Prime Minister on an election the Labor Party cannot win? R dislikes him intensely and has done since the pie shop incident. Do Ann O'Dyne and Jah Teh remember seeing him when we lunched at Spencer Street Station and Ann said he looked like a bookie (horse racing taker of bets).

Who to lead the Labor Party to success after the next election or even the one after that when Turnbull falls out of favour? The male talent seems very thin on the ground. My money is on a woman. Tanya Plibersek presents very well, is clearly smart and a smooth operator and has not put a foot wrong. At the moment she is Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs. That is a good grounding for a future PM. Maybe she is not warm or cuddly enough though.

My money though is on Penny Wong. Although she is a Senator and would have to change to the House of Representatives, that would be no problem. She is smart. She is a good head kicker. She is very eloquent. After being Finance Minister in a former Labor government, she is now Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and Shadow Minister for Trade and Investment. As a lesbian with a partner and child, she would obviously pick up the gay vote, the alternative family vote, all Labor votes and much of the Asian vote. She has a quite high public profile. I would be quite proud to call her Prime Minister Wong, until of course the political realities set in and she turned out to not be the Messiah.

Photo credits in order: Twitter, Wikipedia, News Limited, ALP.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Musical Monday

My occasional Musical Monday. River never fails. I am 75% through writing my will online. I have stalled as it had become difficult when deciding what to give to R's Sisters should he die before, that is a given fact. But are his sister's children due anything? If so, how much?

I should be planning a big fat gay funeral with details in my will. I always thought the music as people who exited my funeral should be this. I want to make them cry as they remark, well given his indulgent lifestyle....

But wow, what a mood lifter it was when a friend's mother died and this was the exit music at her funeral as the coffin exited the building. We tossed between amusement and horror. In retrospect, it was good.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Oh, those Arabs

"Iran and Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is the largest Sunni nation on the Arabian Peninsula, Iran the largest Shiite nation in the Middle East and both claim or aspire to leadership in the region. Iran is predominately Persian, while Saudi Arabia is Arab. They sit on different sides of the Sunni-Shia divide."
If this came from the BBC, I would not have bothered to download the podcast, but as it is from Rear Vision at our ABC Radio National I have and I will listen to what I expect from experience will be an interesting listen.  

The family grows

We are great uncles again, as Oldest Niece has given birth to Little Em, a sister to the nearly two year old Little M. We shopped in town this morning for a gift and a card and our whole Sunday revolved around seeing Little Em and Oldest Niece and eventually we did after they were discharged from a large outer south eastern hospital and we met at the hospital cafe. Mother, Little Em's great grandmother attended too with ABI Brother. Little Em just wanted to sleep and only once did she briefly open her eyes. Uncle R held her for most of the time. She looks so like Little M.

Saturday night dinner

It was only to be a meal at the Elsternwick Hotel for four of us, but Brighton Antique Dealer has just returned from a cruise, so our mutual friend invited her, and she brought a friend and our Fijian born Indian friend brought along his long term friend.

While BAD enjoyed her cruise to and around New Zealand with her daughter, she said it was very busy in the public areas and she would only ever do smaller cruises if she did another. It sounds like her fellow travellers were pretty rough around the edges. I hope that translates ok.

Now, her friend. She is fellow inmate in the expensive retirement building where BAD lives. I don't think I have ever dined with a woman who wore pearls to the table, but I did tonight. OK, BAD probably has, bit I didn't notice. She was very petite and dressed in black and while her voice/accent was very posh, she was just lovely. She did not mind a bit of smutty talk, had a little play on the pokie machines and drank beer. Oh, I left out the crucial part. She is 92. That means she was born in 1924 and while her hearing is a little dodgy, she behaves like she is many years younger. The late Dame M was born only one year later but died at 82. Maybe drinking and smoking excessively is bad for you health.

It only came out as an aside because we were talking about travel and most the 92 year old's children are in Adelaide. She used to drive to see them and then as she became older, she flew. Now she takes the train and she loves the train trip. Ah yes, her son is an Adelaide magistrate. Thinking aloud, he could well be approaching 70. She had us laughing about her children's dogs she used to look after when they travelled.

Anyway, we have met many of BAD's friends and they are always very pleasant, but BAD seems to have a lot of friends who come and go and who we never see again.

Australia Day Part 2 or Sunday Selections

This will do for Sunday Selections. Quite a few of us participate and link back to River.

Just to add a little more distress to the Barking Owl and the dingoes seen in Part 1, the Australian Air Force flew The Roulettes overhead. They normally make one or two passes but today there were many and people stopped looking up after a while.

A Ford Fairlane.

Here they go again.

A Ford Customline, with a V8 engine. A straight eight is better than a V8 and I seem to recall Buick made a straight eight.

Starting to annoy, like mosquitoes.

Buick. You will perhaps not find a smoother and quieter ride than in this car. Now cars have tight suspension for good handling. No such nonsense back then when floating along as if on a cloud was the primary consideration, never mind how the cars wallowed around corners.

Funny looking thing. Ok, another Buick.

An old ambulance from the regional area of Gippsland in Victoria. I did not notice at the time, but I can tell by the dashboard it is a mid sixties Humber.

A Minervar. Is it a Mr or Mrs? Made in Belgium it seems, a forerunner of today's successful Belgian car manufacturers. (:-P Guess who that is for Gattina)

Bugger off.

Studebaker Lark, I believe.

Yet another Buick.

Which way was that cannon that fired the 21 gun salute left pointing? Could it take them out?

We just happened across this wonderful group of women, performing to music. Ever so graceful and the smallish group that had gathered gave them hearty applause. Joe has a a good photo here.

Enough. That is taxpayer dollars paying for your aviation gas.

Travelling at a rather more sedate pace than a jet is what I call a Punt Road bus.

The driver's cabin looks cosy.

Unbelievably, these ran until 1980. It is a 1952 AEC Regal Mark III and oddly it has been cropped, that is shortened. Was there a public demand for shorter buses?

Driver luxury lounge. Lots of lovely warmth in the winter next to the driver from the engine. Not so good in the summer. I remember being stuck behind them as they crawled up the Punt Road hill, belching out clouds of black smoke. Later I learnt that that there was always a conductor on board these buses. A recent comment by a mechanic who maintained them on an old post where I mentioned them was interesting.

A Three Ton Mechanical Horse by Scammel. It looks like what I imagine electric milk floats used to in England. Three tons and only three wheels too.

Army departing now to show those terrorists a thing or two.

We got guns.

Can anyone identify this European looking national dress?

Gotham City, House of Sin. Should I check? As I guessed, a brothel. What would be in the closed trailer? The mind boggles.

It was getting quite hot, so we headed for home.