Saturday, February 27, 2016

Mayhem on the streets

I thought the worst when I heard the intersection of Toorak Road and *unt Road would be closed. It was worse than I imagined. Our normal Saturday morning routine when I am not working is we drive down St Kilda Road, turn left into Commercial Road and right into a side street that leads to the Prahran carpark, where we can do all our grocery, fruit and vegetable, flower, liquor shopping and have breakfast at one of three usual places.

Our return is via Greville and Moubray Streets into St Kilda Road as by the time we leave the shops, Commercial Road can be congested. 

I am smart though. I knew the closure of the aforementioned intersection would cause a big traffic build up in St Kilda Road and Commercial Road, so I went down Queens Road, turned into Beatrice Street which becomes Moubray and then Greville Street. But I forgot about the crane collapse and Moubray Street was closed. I went down to High Street and then up St Edmonds Road to the car park.

By the time we had finished shopping, it was 11.30 and the traffic was clearly a nightmare. I headed back down St Edmonds Road to High Street and before I reached the intersection, I realised High Street traffic was at a crawl, as was St Kilda Road in towards the city. A normally ten minute trip took nearly thirty minutes. R and I both said to each other, we should have gone to the shops in South Melbourne.

Later in the day we drove to Station Pier for coffee and a naughty pastry. The traffic was in its normal  frustrating  state, nothing remarkable. What I did see was in addition to the normal road closed signs, which I do understand why people ignore, was on all roads electronic flashing signs quite clearly saying the intersection of Toorak and Punt Road was closed. All day when I have been out on the balcony at different times I have seen most cars go up Toorak Road to the closed intersection and the monster queue of traffic coming back down Toorak to turn left into St Kilda Road. It has been a most extraordinary day of traffic viewing from our balcony and I could be typing for another half an hour about the the things I have seen today. Haha to the driver of a van who bottomed and I think damaged his van on a tram safety zone prow when he made a rash U turn in front of a tram.

In conclusion, if you see a black and yellow sign telling you a road is closed, take notice and consider what it might be about. If you see a big flashing electronic sign that tells you an intersection is closed, it means the intersection is closed and so seek an alternative route, and preferable an alternative route to the alternative route everyone else is using. A flashing electronic sign that says an intersection is closed does actually mean an intersection is closed.

We all make mistakes when driving, but I can't believe the sheer stupidity of what I saw today. In a Yarra Trams own goal moment, YT tweeted about delayed trams because of traffic congestion along the aforementioned roads when the reason for the traffic chaos was tram track renewal.

Just a tiny prick

Anti-vaxxer: A learned person who has studied the science carefully and come to the conclusion that vaccinating children against common diseases is puts their children at too much of a risk from a reaction to the vaccine.

My definition of anti-vaxxers, tossers who put their own children at risk, along with others. Like with global warming, amateurs seem to know better than the scientists who have studied long and hard and tested products multiple times in so many trials. We I hear respected medical scientists are not vaccinating their own children, then I may review my thoughts.

Children's author Roald Dahl's daughter died, un-vaccinated, from complications suffered during measles. Like when I was young, there wasn't a vaccination for measles in 1962.

Measles: A Dangerous Illness

Olivia, my eldest daughter, caught measles when she was seven years old. As the illness took its usual course I can remember reading to her often in bed and not feeling particularly alarmed about it. Then one morning, when she was well on the road to recovery, I was sitting on her bed showing her how to fashion little animals out of coloured pipe-cleaners, and when it came to her turn to make one herself, I noticed that her fingers and her mind were not working together and she couldn't do anything.
"Are you feeling all right?" I asked her.
"I feel all sleepy," she said.
In an hour, she was unconscious. In twelve hours she was dead.
The measles had turned into a terrible thing called measles encephalitis and there was nothing the doctors could do to save her. That was twenty-four years ago in 1962, but even now, if a child with measles happens to develop the same deadly reaction from measles as Olivia did, there would still be nothing the doctors could do to help her.

On the other hand, there is today something that parents can do to make sure that this sort of tragedy does not happen to a child of theirs. They can insist that their child is immunised against measles. I was unable to do that for Olivia in 1962 because in those days a reliable measles vaccine had not been discovered. Today a good and safe vaccine is available to every family and all you have to do is to ask your doctor to administer it.
It is not yet generally accepted that measles can be a dangerous illness. Believe me, it is. In my opinion parents who now refuse to have their children immunised are putting the lives of those children at risk. In America, where measles immunisation is compulsory, measles like smallpox, has been virtually wiped out.
Here in Britain, because so many parents refuse, either out of obstinacy or ignorance or fear, to allow their children to be immunised, we still have a hundred thousand cases of measles every year. Out of those, more than 10,000 will suffer side effects of one kind or another. At least 10,000 will develop ear or chest infections. About 20 will die.

Every year around 20 children will die in Britain from measles.
So what about the risks that your children will run from being immunised?
They are almost non-existent. Listen to this. In a district of around 300,000 people, there will be only one child every 250 years who will develop serious side effects from measles immunisation! That is about a million to one chance. I should think there would be more chance of your child choking to death on a chocolate bar than of becoming seriously ill from a measles immunisation.
So what on earth are you worrying about? It really is almost a crime to allow your child to go unimmunised.
The ideal time to have it done is at 13 months, but it is never too late. All school-children who have not yet had a measles immunisation should beg their parents to arrange for them to have one as soon as possible.

Incidentally, I dedicated two of my books to Olivia, the first was 'James and the Giant Peach'. That was when she was still alive. The second was 'The BFG', dedicated to her memory after she had died from measles. You will see her name at the beginning of each of these books. And I know how happy she would be if only she could know that her death had helped to save a good deal of illness and death among other children. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

Only yourself to blame

We've spent quite some time on a possible holiday later in the year, including us visiting the travel agent and provisionally booking a Mediterranean Cruise. Today we cancelled. Nothing was working about the holiday and our excitement levels were zero. That is not how it should be when you are spending heaps of money.

The blog has been neglected and there may be some repercussions for a time. But here we go, I have something for today.

Breaking laws on our roads make me very cross, unless it is me doing it. I have never been booked for any road offence in my life and my last parking ticket was in 1977. Work is trying to lumber a speeding fine in a work car on me. As if I would ruin my reputation in a crappy work car. I am happy because if work can't identify who was driving the car, and it certainly wasn't me, then they have to pay a huge fine.

There is one offence I think is beyond the pale, that is an able bodied person parking in a disabled space, maybe handicapped parking space in other places.

While I do believe there are a number of people who have a disabled pass to display on their car who are not entitled to it, that is another matter. It is so tempting to take the law into your own hands when the law does not work. Here a couple of clips of where a group of folk really did take the law into their own hands in two clips.

This clip is a bit long. There are shorter versions on the the net but I think the full clip is appropriate. I thoroughly approve of this action in Brazil, as did the crowd who waited in anticipation to see the bunfight when the offender to return to his car.

I am not sure I really approve of the spray painting offenders' cars, but the cost for removal might be about the same as a fine. I rather like the offending shopping laden rich women returning to their cars to find a surprise, again in Brazil.

Is the sound very clear on this? I think not. It is a while since I saw this clip but from memory it is in California and towards the end, a woman ended up with two fines of around $700 each. A fine for parking in a disabled place to which she was not allowed and something like impersonating a disabled person to park in a disabled space. $1400 is a good fine deterrent to parking in a disabled space. Schadenfreude is a good feeling.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Breaking News

What is wrong with the traffic? Where are the trams?

Oh dear. A crane caught fire and then in a most spectacular manner, the arm broke and it swung down, crashing through trees.

A Saturday Afternoon

A few weeks ago Mother had water coming into her bedroom when it was raining. The roof tile pointing had broken down. Given her house was built in the 1940s and the roof not touched, that is not a bad run. A lad attended and secured the roof with tarpaulin. Mother could hear the tarp flapping in the breeze at night, so she called him back to check it was secure. He obliged and it was fine. Tradie Brother checked things out too, and he judged all was well, apart from the roof pointing. It is an insurance job, but with a $500 excess, guess who is paying that? Yes, we kiddies.

In the meantime her laundry tap has been dripping at quite a rate. She has been keeping a bucket under the tap and using the water for the garden. She has been panicking about her water bill. I pointed out that the drip might add 30 cents to her water bill. At her melodramatic best, when R took her to the doctor for an appointment, she had the nurse running around to find a splint for her wrist as she had hurt it carrying buckets of water and a splint was so expensive to buy at the chemist. This performance was to ensure R would feel sorry for her and offer to pay for a plumber to fix the tap washer. While her own children are quite immune to such performances, for a time they worked on R, but he has learnt how to say no. He returns after his Thursday of taking Mother out in an almost hysterical state. All I can say to him is, yes that is what she is like and has been all her life.

Some weeks later he said to her, for goodness sake, just get the plumber and we'll pay. The bill will come to me, I will pay it and get three quarters of it from my brothers and sister. The tap washer has been fixed and now Mother has said she won't use the tap to 'save it'. This was said to R and even he had reached exasperation point and told her not to be ridiculous as it was now the best tap in the house and the one that should be used.

Non Dreaded firefighting nephew in Footscray was going up to see his mum in Gippsland. Via Face Book he said he would call in to his Nan's to see her and have a cake for his recent birthday. Mother was terrific in arranging R to get things together for a lunch. We had nibbles, quiche and salad, followed by a birthday cake. The nephew's father, Tradie Brother came as did the nephew's partner who gave us a gift of pears and apples from her mother's orchard in the Otways. It was a lovely lunch. Tradie Brother brought his dog along who must be one of the most highly trained dogs in the world. My brother just adores his Cobber.

We went early though, with our old computer on board for ABI Brother. R dropped me there and ABI Brother was just eating an early lunch before going off to umpire cricket. Thank goodness he had the old computer, our one before last fired up but still, I clicked on his Gmail and it took five minutes to load. While we got rid of our last computer because it was tired and slow, his was almost to the point of being unusable. I noted the plugs on the back of his old one and removed and inserted all the plugs into our old computer and within about two minutes, everything was working. I made sure the printer was working, the sound and updated the virus checker. He uses Chrome and I added important bookmarks to his bookmark bar. There will be a phone call next week as there will be something he is not sure about, but because it is our old computer untouched aside from many programmes removed, I will easily understand what he is talking about.

It was Non Dreaded nephew's partner's first visit to Mother's. She dutifully admired Mother's fine china and glassware in cabinets, most of which was Mother's mother's. She told Mother how lovely her garden was. She knew all the right things to say. She told us how she had given my nephew a haircut and then things went to his former dread lock state. Surprisingly, Mother used to like his dreads and even nephew's own mother grew to like them. I liked them. They made him look more interesting than what he is. Ok, that is unfair. He is outgoing and gregarious and people of both sexes just adore him. He is now 29 and I think he is a pretty good lad. I am amazed at how he moves between worlds. He was fire fighting in the Otways two days ago, then home in Footscray, this morning picking up a cake in Sydney Road, then at Mother's in the very outer eastern suburbs, then tonight at his mother's in Gippsland and tomorrow meeting up with friends at Flagstaff Gardens. I just don't really get how he can flit between so many worlds and feel comfortable in them all. In fact both his sisters are a bit like that. They are a credit to their mother who never brought them up to be organised or tidy, but with a lot of love. Tradie Brother, their father was much more difficult for them. Now they are all in their twenties, they respect and like their father, but it was not always so when they were younger.

Nephew's partner is very easy to get along with for everybody and it is quite clear they love each other very much. I wish they would make a boy baby so our branch of the family will go on with our family name but no sign of that happening.

As I am writing this, R is checking our tattslotto ticket. Oops, it is just too early. I told him to switch over to Channel Seven and get the results live at the Penthouse Club.

Aside from a few close personal friends and my wonderful blogmates, we are increasingly dependent on family for socialising.

Oh yes, as per normal, I emptied Mother's vacuum cleaner barrel. I am the only person in the world who knows are to properly put it back together after emptying it. I tap the filter on Mother's old incinerator carefully to rid it of impacted talcum powder. I am careful because I doubt a new filter can be sourced.  In noticed as I walked back up the yard that half the lemon tree was missing. I also noticed there was no fresh cut. I am very unobservant at times. It must have been like this of a year or more. There were a couple of ripe lemons at the top of the tree so Non Dreaded Nephew got busy with kicking a soccer ball at the tree, and sure enough, down came the two ripe lemons.

Enough rambling.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Musical Monday

I am sure River's Musical Monday won't be as serious as this one. 

I have long been an admirer of Tim Minchin. He is a very clever lyricist and performer, along with also being a comedian. He was commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company to compose and write the lyrics for the musical Matilda and a fine job he did too.

Tim's latest effort is a musical plea to Cardinal George Pell (once Archbishop of Melbourne and then Sydney) to return to his former area of Ballarat to answer questions about any involvement he may have had in covering up, ignoring or hushing up pedophile priest activity in this area. Pell was called to Rome to fulfill the role of Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy and has cited ill health as the reason for not returning to Australia. A cynic might suggest Rome knew that matters would become unpleasant for Pell and better that he was called to Rome. Later: Things might be worse than we thought with Victoria Police spending a year investigating accusations that Cardinal Pell was himself a pedo.

Here is Tim Minchin's musical piece. There is some swearing but it is not too bad. 4:50

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Sunday Selections - A Windsor Wander

Joining in with River and others for Sunday Selections.

Blimps were once a thing of fascination for me, but now, don't care much about them, especially as they are just used for very basic advertising now.

Our building has very strict rules about what can be visible on a balcony. Drying washing is verboten. While some don't like the rule, I don't like this scene in High Street, Windsor. Pity it is out of focus.

Some interesting architectural work here in Upton Road.

711 stores and similar convenience stores killed off local milk bars at speed. There are a few left, such as this one which is a prime example of why local milk bars were killed off. It looks disgusting, and yes, it is open, but I doubt for long. No doubt Asian owned by immigrants who get residency by investing in a business they don't car two hoots about.

A train passing by between Windsor and Prahran Stations.

Why is this park called Windsor Siding? I can see some hands shooting up. Before the train line was built from South Yarra to Windsor, if you wanted to travel to Brighton by train, you would catch the train to St Kilda and then another train with the line running in a large arc through what is now Albert Park Reserve, across St Kilda Road on a bridge, through suburban Windsor to Windsor Station and on to Brighton.

Once inside the park I discovered a very fine mural. The van belongs a graffiti removal contractor. I expect he is there to make an estimate for graffiti removal. Let me get closer.

A man with a dog was chatting to the contractor. He broke off to chat to me and asked if I like the mural. The man was Greek and about 40. I started to wander away and he followed me, chatting away about street art and evil graffitists who tag and spoil nice murals.

I was on a mission but I paused to take another photo of the park, with the Windsor Telephone Exchange dominating the area. Man and dog did not walk on but waited.

The man drew my attention to this mural, which he said had been partly painted over. Then came the coffee invitation at his nearby house. This is not the first time this has happened when I have been out and about. Is there something stamped on my forehead? I politely declined, then later wondered if I should have. Had he looked clean, I may have been tempted.

Rather nicely proportioned Victorian house with polychromatic Hawthorn bricks.

Can's see this mural properly, at the back of the Windsor Castle Hotel.

Old lounge room couches often feature on the verandahs of rented houses.

This is a tragedy. The artists slaved away in the boiling sun painting the mural in the very visible location above Queensway near Chapel Street. In less than a week it had been ruined. I cropped a bit of the road out but left the houses so you can get an idea of the size. It is big and spoilt.
To the stocks with the vandals for some rotten tomato treatment.

This building with its clerestory roof caught my eye.

I walked closer to get a photo of its street number, 153 Albert Street, Windsor. Much to my surprise, it is a very significant building. It was the office of the Post Master General, designed by Sir John Monash. It was the first government building in the Prahran area. It was later used as a post office. It has now been converted into a two storey Manhattan style apartment. You are correct if have guessed this information comes from a real estate website. Later it became a photographic studio. The building next door was also owned by the PMG, later its privatised telecommunications offshoot, Telstra.

Here is a photo of the interior from The Real Estate Conversion. Triple tandem parking, cellar, Aga stove, Japanese tiles, hydronic heating. I could live there. I just need about $2 million. This is exactly what to do with older buildings such as this one.