Saturday, May 21, 2016

Broken news

Five balloons were aloft this morning but a sixth was struggling to rise, it seemed to me.

I think they took off from a park along the Yarra River, perhaps in Burnley. You can just make out the struggling balloon to the left of the wide roof midphoto.

 And not too long after this story came to life in the media.

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The trouble is the police say the balloon was launched from Dendy Park in Brighton which rather spoils my story as it must be a different balloon. I think the cops may be wrong. In my photo at full size the balloon appears to be a very dark colour, as the one in newspaper is, and also within the story is this, "An Armadale resident said the balloon had flown over his house about 7.45am and was so low he could hear the gas flame burning". My photo was taken at 6:56 am and the balloon was not going anywhere fast. Brighton to Armadale by balloon and then out to sea is possible but unlikely. I suggest it became low on gas because it burnt a lot of gas trying to gain altitude.

Mouse and Mice

This is a mouse.

This is a computer mouse. They kind of look similar, hence the name of the computer mouse.

Here are two of the little critters. More than one mouse, they are mice. Three mice, and the collective noun is plague.

But what have we here? Mice or mouses? I prefer mouses in this case.

I try to explain English to people who don't have English as their first language, but at times it is impossible. Things are just how they are with no reason.

Certain letter combinations are difficult for some non English speakers. Long has the English speaking world mocked Germans for their inability to pronounce th. Asian speakers struggle with it too. I was talking to a Cambodian friend about words and he asked me a question about werbs. You mean verbs, I replied. Yes, werbs, he said back. Had he misread the word, even though he knew exactly what the word meant, or maybe Cambodians can't pronounce the letter v.

Language is endlessly fascinating to me.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Perth Impressions

No Western Australian, no Perthite and certainly not Grace will thank me for saying this but our impression of Western Australia and certainly Perth, is that it is a very rich city. It is beautifully green and the state sensibly uses its desalination plant. We could not get over how green everything was and totally puts Melbourne to shame. The public gardens were incredibly neat and trimmed.

The reason I say no local will thank me is because of the breakdown of Commonwealth money distribution. Perth is arguably the most isolated city in the world, with its nearest city of any substance being Adelaide, but you would never know that when you visit. It is a sophisticated city, with plenty of art, culture, sports and entertainment for the masses. Western Australians always argue that they don't get a fair share of the Commonwealth pie but then most states do that. WA's at times feel like they are the forgotten Australians, so far from anywhere important, and there is some justification for this. 

I managed to spy one old car, broken down, but there are very few old cars on the streets and highways. On the river and seas is an endless number of boats.

The streets are litter free, trains and buses run to time and work well. Perth's transport card works instantly at readers, unlike our Melbourne Myki card, and R noted the balance shows on the screen.  If there is graffiti, I never saw any, which is quite remarkable along train lines (ah, maybe there was a little on the Fremantle train line). Road lines and pedestrian markings are all freshly painted and clear. Street signage is excellent. Train station signage is clear, as is bus stop information. Trains and buses are quite new and serve well.

We were puzzled about our public transport tickets.The tickets lasted for two hours but it seems for one journey to your destination, not for a return trip within the two hours. You could catch a ferry, train and bus within that two hours to get to your destination on the one ticket, but only to get to your destination, not to return, even if that was within two hours. That is very different to how our system works where you can simply travel for two hours, in any direction on tram, bus or train.  Oh dear, we cheated.

The city is an interesting mix of old and and new buildings, and while the streets are not as busy as Melbourne's, they are busy enough. It has cafe culture galore. The coffee is good, high praise from a Melburnian, although a little more expensive than here, say an average of 50 cents.

Buses are free to use within the city and there is a terrific dedicated four route free bus service operating on a frequent level to get you around the city up until 8pm.

Are the locals friendly? I have no reason to say not, although that may not be the case if you are Australian born of Asian heritage, as I heard earlier in my Perth posts. There is an adequate number of foreign students to make the city busy and interesting and Western Australians must becoming used to 'different' faces in their midst.

The city has mixed old and restored buildings with brand new towers in a manner that I can think of happening no where else. I was prepared to be underwhelmed, but I thought it all worked together very well.

I thought this was an interesting building.

And I didn't mind this one, which quite dominates the skyline from many vantage points.

But unless something miraculous happens at the top of this building as it is completed, yuk, just another boring glass building.

This apartment building viewable from our studio is fairly cheaply built but yet some work has gone into the design and I find it quite interesting.

I'll leave you with a 17 second video of our rough crossing to Rottnest Island. For once it wasn't entirely me who was responsible for the camera shakes. A couple of the ferry staff were very handsome young men, who happened to get into my shot quite accidentally.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

R's new phone

R's new phone arrived Tuesday. I wasn't showered or dressed so he went downstairs to collect it from the courier. It takes a different SIM card to his old one, so there was no point in doing much with it until that issue was dealt with. I just put it on to charge.

So what is this package, R asked. Your birthday present, I replied. Open it and see what it is. He was quite overwhelmed. You should not have spent so much money on me, he exclaimed. Quite true, I replied, but I did and if it eases your conscience you can give me a couple of hundred dollars towards it, which he did.

We went to the big telephone shop in town at the corner of Bourke and Swanston Streets Wednesday. One rather cute young blond man began to help us, but when we told him that as well wanting a new SIM card, we wanted phone numbers transferred, he radioed upstairs. Go up, he said, someone will attend to you straight away. A handsome dark haired man with a perfectly groomed three day beard growth greeted us, showed us to a seat at a table and told us Deon would be with us directly and Deon soon was. He was a smart and knowledgeable young man and very friendly. When I bought my Samsung 6, it seemed such a complicated process to transfer my contact list. Just months later, the phone came with a connecting cable and plug and Deon connected R's old phone to his new phone and quickly transferred his contact list. Deon told us it may take 24 hours for the phone to switch from the old SIM to the new one, but lo and behold, it switched in a couple of minutes. 

I bought the phone from Kogan online, who has taken over the Dick Smith email list, and it all went very smoothly. However, once I paid for the phone, I was given delivery tracking details and the phone began its journey from a Hong Kong warehouse. It came with an English/Hong Kong power plug adapter.

Deon queried us about bands? I dunno, we bought it from an Australian company and he asked which one, and he said it would be fine then. It wasn't. Everything was in Kanji, that is kind of Chinese/Japanese, I think. He corrected that but later R went to reply to a test text I had sent him and the keyboard was Chinese. I fixed that, but there are still traces of the Kanji on the phone. No matter. Deon has three phones and manages to deal with them all. I outright asked him if he is a drug dealer. R's phone has facility for two SIM cards, the second here in Australia being commonly used for cheap overseas calls but you could use the slot for a SIM with a list of customers who you sell drugs too, or just to store photos.

We left Deon and promised to give him a 10/10 score if we received an email that asked about our big telco experience. At QV shopping centre, R bought a lightweight protective case for the phone while I bought a couple of things for boiled fruit cake. The 1950s recipe said 5 ounces of butter. I didn't have a clue until I checked with google, 150 grams. I am so metricated. I dissuaded R from spending even more for a screen protector. I have damaged my phone, but not the tough Gorilla Glass screen.

Once home R played with the phone for a couple of hours and adjusted settings and the appearance.  This was not helped by our home internet going down twice today for an hour or so, not allowing him to use wi-fi.  He was doing well until I told him he needed to set up a SIM card lock. I think he had already played with it, so when it came to doing it, his four digit number would not work. I knew it would happen, and sure enough, three attempts and he was locked out. He called the telephone company for his PUK and because he was a bit slow giving the account number, the automated system hung up on him. But he had gleaned enough information to know that he can see his PUK online to unlock his phone. I found it and it worked.

He was absent for twenty minutes down at the car trying connect his bluetooth to the car and failed. I don't like to brag, but I went down and sorted it in a minute.  He missed step 1, turn on bluetooth in the car.

I updated his built in apps, Gmail and Facebook being the only ones he regularly uses. What is Instagram, he asked me. He does at times use Tram Hunter and Footy Now. I told him he could do a screen capture with a swipe of his hand across the screen. He replied, why would I want to do that? Such niaevty is so charming. Umm, have you heard of Snapchat and what young people do with that? He had heard of it but did not know what it was about and I have never used Snapchat either. I have my own stalking methods of saving photos.

In conclusion, R loves his new phone and I reckon I have got three weeks of cred before he starts to yell at me.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

My Selfies

I used to have really good skin. Well, my body skin, that is that what is not exposed to the sun is very smooth and clear, but not so the areas that are exposed to the sun. I went to R's ex doctor who moved practice for my skin to be checked. He says he has an interest in the subject of skin cancer and denies he is an expert. Nevertheless, he knows what he is talking about about and has a surgery set up to cut and dissect. Other people use rip off specialists and skin cancer clinics. I am only paying GP rates.

He cut a chunk out of the side of my face. I may be exaggerating about it being a chunk, but I needed two or three stitches, and a chunk out of my hand. They will be tested for malignancy.

One suspicious mark was on my cheek and the other on my left hand. I've already had two areas removed in the past. So here are my selfies.

The bandage is for one day only, to reduce bruising. The waterproof patches are for four days. Stitches out in ten days. It is just terrific growing old.

Monday, May 16, 2016

I need help with my knob

When R had his shop ever so many years ago, I used to make a boiled fruit cake every second day for him to sell, and sell it did, often being sold in one day and at a huge profit.

There is left over dried fruit from when R made this year's Christmas cake. I thought tomorrow I would bake a boiled fruit cake. But the new oven!!!

I don't understand the temperature dial and I would really appreciate some advice. R is on a successful learning experience with the oven but he can't give me an answer.

Here is the temperature dial. So tell me, if you want a temperature of 200 degrees, where do you put the dial? Actually, I want 180. What do the dots indicate? Is 200 the dot before, the dot behind or in the middle where the number is?

Sunday morning excitation

I rose at 6.30 Sunday morning and noticed a party seemed to be happening at an apartment across the road. Only once or twice have I partied to such an hour. Fancy partying to dawn. Then the penny dropped, Eurovision. The party had probably not long started. Australia's entrant, Dami Im, is a very accomplished performer but she was up against the best in Europe. I glanced up from the computer every so often to see the performers. And then the voting began. Photo from AAP.

Wow! The jury votes from each country started coming in, read by I guess a famous person from the respective countries. Once again our own Lee Lin Chin was successfully extracted from a Surry Hills bar and her beer and shoved in front of the camera and in a very cozy reciprocal agreement, the Australian jury awarded its top points to Belgium, who returned the favour. This was gripping tv. I had left the computer and was sitting with my muscles tense and full of annnn ticcccccipation. Australian was scoring extraordinary well with the jury votes and with a healthy lead at the conclusion of the jury votes.

Thanks Sweden. Graham Norton who hosted the BBC coverage queried why Australia would be in Eurovision, a fair point. But if we shouldn't be there, neither should Israel.

The hosts were very good and I thought our own Sam Pang and Julia Zemiro were much better this year than last.

Could we possibly do it? 

Poland was the next out, and then sadly us. Damn and botheration. Russia was pipped at the post by the winner, Ukraine.

It had been an extraordinary last hour. What a production with only very occasional glitches in a monstrous undertaking and ultimately it was just a brilliant production.

R slept on and I suggested that he record the repeat that night and watch at least the last hour. Later I pondering the possible political implications of Ukraine beating Russia and next year's Eurovision being hosted by Ukraine.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sunday Selections

Joining with River and others in Sunday Selections.

Jack is visiting us for two weeks while his mummy travels. She and her ex dropped him off eight days ago before they flew off to Queensland together. Funny how stereotypes hold, in this case lesbians remain friends with their exes.

Is there ever a right time for the liquid soap dispenser to run out? It never seems to happen to me when I have plenty of time.

The sign says Degraves Street, so that must be where this 'work' is. I have no recollection of taking the photo.

The old oven is now in the building's basement, awaiting collection on hard rubbish day.

We are very pleased with the new oven. For some reason it just cooks better than the old one. Perhaps it is to do with the fact that it doesn't leak out heat, or the fine Italian workmanship.

 Yep, the fine Italian workmanship. We removed the badge altogether after it sagged a second time.

R likes the new cooktop. I have only used it once, the wok burner. While the flame seemed lower, it seemed to be hotter with the wok heated more evenly.

The sink has a draining board that can be rested at the side, but I doubt we will ever use it as long as the dishwasher works. The bowl is very large and I like not having to worry about getting the plug out from under the sink as you just press down on the thing that sits in the drain. The tap is beautifully light and smooth to operate.

The view from The Highrise has changed a lot since we moved here some thirteen years ago, with many more highrise building constructed over that period. Unfortunately we have lost some views from the bedrooms towards St Kilda.

The vase is not new, but what is in it is new, bought at the Fremantle Market. You buy the grains in a sachet, in this case we chose a clear and two different greens, put them in a bowl and fill it with water and they expand and stay wet. Kinda weird. In addition, there is a light unit that sits in the bottom of the vase, controlled by the remote. You can choose all sorts of colours, brightness and the awful automatic colour change. Sadly, it is very heavy on batteries, three AAAs lasting about 15 hours, so it will probably only get used when we have visitors, which is rather rare of late. You might suggest rechargeables but they don't last very long before needing charging and it is a bother to extract the unit from the base of the vase; well the hard part is putting it back.

We have a copper line, coaxial line, fibre optic line, gas, water, sewerage and electric, so what are the footpath  hieroglyphics about, stretching along St Kilda Road and beginning to extend up Toorak Road?

I can only conclude it is to do with the Metro rail tunnel that will follow the path of St Kilda Road and Toorak Road.

None of us is perfect, no matter how close I come, and even nature is not perfect. The new balcony plant threw out a weirdly shaped and coloured flower. Do cyclamen grow on root stock and this is growth from the root, rather than the main plant? Something like that perhaps.