Saturday, June 11, 2016

Flying Visit

Firefighting Niece called in yesterday afternoon, arriving just before I returned from work at 4.30. She was on her way to see her Firefighting Nephew and his Jewish Betrothed. We hosted Firefighting Niece here many times over the time we have lived here. She would have been only about ten when we moved here.

Now she is a big grown up woman and off on her Euro Contiki Tour, and calls, texts, Face Book posts and emails have been going back and forth between us, her and R's oldest sister in England who she will visit for a few days. While Firefighting Niece is the loveliest and loving person, she is chaotic and always in a state of perpetual disorganisation that somehow she overcomes by her extraordinary ability to gabble nonsense and charm. Hmm, maybe she takes after her grandmother, my mother. But for the sake of R's sister's sanity, we need to pin her down on a date where she would arrive in northern England. R did Mother duty as per normal and Firefighting Niece came to join them for lunch, mainly to say good bye to her Nan. R laid down the law to her. Book your ticket from Amsterdam to Newcastle or else.

To her credit she did even better. She flies from Schiphol to Stanstead, where a friend of her brother's will pick her up and they will go to a music festival together and then she will catch the train to Newcastle.

She used to suffer from terrible allergies, constantly with cold like symptoms. She spent quite a bit on allergy specialists and medicines , to little avail.  I can't remember how now, but she found out she suffers from coeliac disease, an intolerance to gluten, mostly or only found in wheat. It was hard to begin with but she deals with it quite well. She does at times break out and eat a product with wheat in it and then pays the price. As you would expect, there is an Australian website to help such people and today R printed out from the website cards in different languages to show people in European countries that she is coeliac (why is that word pronounced nothing like it is written?) The cards are a good thing, hey

Her mother, Ex Sis in Law offered to take her to the airport. Her father, Tradie Brother offered too, but she declined both as it would make the departure too emotional and a friend will take her to the airport instead. 

I sat on the balcony with her for a few minutes. I started to give her wise old uncle advice, only to find R had already done so, with some effect.

A, the most important things are your passport and air tickets and phone. The rest can be fixed up once you are there. She piped in with, I have plenty of condoms of different sizes to take. Ohh, now I have done stuff that would make anyone's hair curl, except perhaps Fen's, but that was a wee bit confronting coming from what? A 23 year old who has sex. I am a stupid old man at times and good luck to her. I hope she have lots of good and safe sex with lots of people.

In one way she is organised. I mentioned about phone cards etc and that she would be in too many countries to to buy one, and she agreed. I said, use public wi-fi and turn your data roaming off on your phone. She said her sister would show her how to do that on her iPhone. Her tour is paid for, which includes most meals and she has saved $10,000 for spending, rather a lot in my opinion but she is shocker for just paying and not considering the cost.  

Back to the practicalities of what we mentioned. Ummm, I think my passport is at dad's, somewhere. This was on Friday and she leaves on Sunday.  Your airline tickets? Not sure. I have this (I write this for you for simplicity. Her answers are long and convoluted). That is your itinerary. Where are your airline tickets. Hahahaha, Uncle R. I better call my travel agent and ask. She will collect them the next day, the day before she is flying.

R, being the sensitive soul he is, picked up that she was a bit panicking about the trip (as you would be if your were disorganised as he is) and we both gave her great words of reassurance and told her that R's sister will look after her really well after her tour has ended, and with big hugs she departed.

I felt a bit teary. Bless the child.....except she isn't a child. 

Friday, June 10, 2016


Campervans are rather relevant to us, with our Visit Victoria (and steal power from friends and family) trip booked for October I was looking for an old video I posted many years ago of a strange Volkswagon. I can't find it but nevertheless I came across this video of a Volkswagon with a tow ball attachment in an unusual place for towing a caravan. Any nightmares you may have about reverse parking a caravan are history. Not really sure why this did not catch on.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Spell Checking

I think I was a slightly above average speller before the advent of spell checkers. Now I am just confused. Where it is possible, I choose the Australian spell checker, but that choice is rare. Mostly I change the spell checker from US English to UK English, as UK English is much closer to how Australians spell, but not entirely.

It really does do your head in when you type and word and it is underlined in red, indicating it is a wrong spelling. Umm, I think that is the way I have spelt it all my life. Is it wrong? I go to google to check and that usually gives me a clear answer, ie, British or US spelling, but not always.

Take the word.....I am shaking in trepidation as I type.....accidently. Wrong!!! That has a red underline, yet it came so naturally from my fingers. Spell checker tells me it should be accidentally. That looks odd to me. In this case, from my googling, it does not seem to be a particularly British or US difference as both spellings are used in both countries.

I have added many Australian spellings to our new computer and to Blogger, but I really have no confidence that what my fingers type automatically is correct.

And if I do genuinely spell something wrongly and the spell checker picks it up, I then use Google to correct the spelling. In the past I would have looked up a dictionary and learnt how to spell the word. What I do with Google is just correct the spelling and my brain does not retain the spelling.

I conclude, spell checkers are helpful with your writing and but not helpful to your spelling skills.  Not sure why, but the spell checker here won't accept the word learnt. Assuming blogger uses an American spell checker, don't Americans spell learnt as such or not use the word at all?

I am working on a a photo heavy post, so this is your bloomin' lot for today.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

North Carolina

North Carolina is, unsurprisingly, north of South Carolina. The US state is on the east coast, kind of mid point between New York State and Florida. Geographically it is probably considered a southern state, it has a long coastal border and one would think it should be quite a civilised place. Not so if you are a gay person.

Here is a snip from The Guardian about some new legislation passed in NC,
The new law allows local governments to discriminate against people based on sexual orientation and gender identity. And all public schools, government agencies and public college campuses will be required to designate that bathrooms and locker rooms are only to be used by people based on their biological sex. The state’s anti-discrimination laws still apply to people based on race, color, national origin and gender. Effectively, the legislation takes away the right of gay and transgender people to sue for discrimination.

Here is a snip from the BBC,
The US Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against North Carolina over its controversial anti-LGBT law, calling it "state-sponsored discrimination".
The law requires people to use public toilets that correspond to the sex listed on their birth certificate.
It also invalidated several local anti-discrimination measures that protected gay and transgender people.
North Carolina announced on Monday it would sue the Justice Department over its attempt to nullify the law.
"What this law does is inflict further indignity on a population that has suffered far more than its fair share," Attorney General Loretta Lynch said of transgender people. "We see you, we stand with you, and we will do everything we can to protect you."
The law puts North Carolina in direct conflict with federal laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex and gender identity, said Ms Lynch.
"State-sanctioned discrimination never works and never looks good in hindsight."
The justice department is seeking a court order declaring the legislation, House Bill 2, "impermissibly discriminatory".

Mississippi is not much better, again a snip from the BBC.
This week, Mississippi passed a religious freedom law. That measure, however, specifically allows people to refuse service to gay people on religious grounds.

This NC state legislation will be partly over ridden by Federal legislation in some areas but nevertheless it has created a huge backlash.

Indiana tried to enact similar discriminatory laws but quickly backed down after a backlash by business. Georgia's Governor refused to sign such legislation after threats by Coco Cola and Disney.

Back to North Carolina, the Governor who signed the discriminatory legislation  is now backing down somewhat. Why?

Here are the reasons:

Pay Pal dropped plans to open an operations centre in the state that would have employed about 400 people.

Deutsche Bank stopped plans to add 250 jobs to the state.

Rock singer Bruce Springsteen cancelled a concert in Greensboro

A TV production for the streaming service Hulu relocated to Canada
Greater Raleigh Convention & Visitors Bureau said five groups have cancelled conventions with 16 others considering

Bank of America and Apple are boycotting the legislation and going their own way with positive practices in their businesses.

Beyonce made statements calling for equality at their shows in the state.

Musicians such as Demi Lovato, Pearl Jam, Ringo Starr and Boston have cancelled shows in the state, as has Cirque de Soleil.

American sport leagues such as the NCAA and NBA have threatened to cancel events in the state if the law is not repealed.

North Carolina really is on the back foot and so is the religious right. In my memory, boycotts have been quite successful, such as the boycott of Tasmanian fresh produce my mainland Australia over the state not legalising  homosexual sex, the sporting boycotts of New Zealand and South Africa over indigenous rights and apartheid.

But we can hardly be so critical of US states when here in Australia it is quite legal for religious organisations to discriminate against gay people, and given some of the religious organisations  run job agencies that the unemployed are forced to use, that is just so wrong. 

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Check your eggs

Err, no women folk, I am not referring to anything personal.

It took a while for it to work for me, but I suspect it was operator error. There is an app you can download to your phone and you point your phone to a carton of eggs in the supermarket or elsewhere and the app will tell you if they are cage eggs, barn laid eggs or free range eggs, and then the hen stocking density of the egg producer. The former information is usually on the carton but the latter, although legislated for, will not arrive for a time. 10,000 chickens per hectare of land is not free range in my opinion, and that is what our Coles supermarket free range eggs scanned as. We won't buy them again.

While there was media story, probably a beat up, that there is a shortage of free range eggs, there was no shortage today at Prahran Market, naturally at a premium price, as most things are at Prahran Market.

The app was developed under the auspices of the consumer organisation Choice and is called Cluck AR if you are interested in downloading it to your phone.


You may find this interesting or not but it is as much for my benefit as yours.

A few days before Sunday before last I mentioned to R that this Sunday we did not have anything happening and as I was not working, what should we do? Should we celebrate Tradie Brother's birthday at the the largest RSL in Victoria? Frankston, that is. I texted Oldest Niece as without her attendance with her daughters, Little M and Little E, it would not come together. She texted back, sounds like a great idea for Dad's birthday. Many text messages went back and forth and it was all sorted.

While it seems like a long way away for us, it only takes 50 minutes to get there via City Link, Monash Freeway and East Link, never mind the tolls of over $20. It was a cold and quiet Sunday on the roads. I love motorways when no one else uses them.

We parked next to Sister and Little Jo who had come across from the Bellarine on the ferry. Sister was not well and quite grumpy. We entered the club and had to sign in and the easiest way was a scan of our driving licenses.  Later Mother had to sign in manually by filling in a form, but she played the senile and dottery old lady and did not fill in the form. We were the first there and my goodness, Oldest Niece had booked the table for 14 people. Bone Doctor was off on a training camp to become a scout leader, but otherwise, the whole family attended and there was a surprise attendance by Ex Sis in Law, Tradie Brother's ex wife. While it is not quite a garage they are living in, courtesy of Oldest Niece's father in law, it is modest accommodation. Ex Sis in Law's husband is in depression over the loss of the Gippsland business. They have been and are in a long legal battle with the nasty man they bought the business and freehold from. They have a house on the Mornington Peninsula but it is highly mortgaged and they will have to sell it to cover debts, most of which are legal costs. So complicated and messy!

The Frankston RSL is a great venue for a Sunday meal. The staff are ever so nice and the varied areas within the building are great. The focus was on Little M and Little E. Little M is now two years old and very entertaining and the few months old Little E gave us a great smile. The nearly eight year old Little Jo was lovely too. How odd that her life began with designer clothing and now there is a safety pin pulling the top of her tee shirt together. I told unfashionably dressed Sister to give some money to Mother to take Little Jo out to buy some clothes. Mother has an eye for what looks right in clothes, even now at 82, just not with her own but she still tries.

The food was good as were the chats. Firefighting Nephew, formerly known as Dreaded Nephew and then Non Dreaded Nephew and his Jewish Partner have announced their engagement and have now announced their wedding date, in November 2017. Lordy, I might be dead by then.

Firefighting Niece, formerly known as Hippie Niece or Chainsaw Niece leaves on Queens Birthday for her Euro Contiki tour. She begins with a stay in London for two nights before joining the tour in Paris, finishing in Amsterdam where she will stay with a friend for a few days before travelling to the north of England to stay with R's Sister for a day or so and then on to Scotland where her brother, Fire Fighting Nephew lived for a couple of years.

All good, and it was a lovely catch up. But we were just so exhausted after we arrived home. Discombobulated is a good word, and that is how we were.

But family stuff did not end there.

A couple of months ago Oldest Niece asked if we, meaning R really, could look after Little M and Little E for a couple of hours while she took her mother for a high tea at a classy city hotel. It was a Christmas gift voucher. Of course, R answered yes. Come last Wednesday, R was feeling very nervous about looking after the two younguns. I came home for lunch and then they all arrived. Absolute chaos, mess and untidiness, which I like as that rarely happens in The Highrise. They left for their high tea and I went back to work, leaving R with the two little ones and of course they were fine. He got Little E to sleep and he and Little M lay on the bed with him watching kids tv.

Little Jo did not get her hands on an electronic device until she was about 5 years old. She is now a heavy user. It seems it makes no difference in the long run. Little M at 2 can already scroll on a propped up phone in front of her. What a world we live in.

So at lunch time there was Oldest Niece and her two daughters, Firefighting Niece, Ex Sis in Law and her sister. When I arrived home from work, there was in addition Firefighting Nephew and his Jewish Partner and a couple of slices of pizza left over for me for dinner. Next day was Mother Day for R and my day off and I had a medical appointment, so very sadly (grin) could not go with R to take Mother out. I cleaned off Little M's fingerprints from the glass and The Highrise was back to normal after being in chaos.

I shouldn't but here is Little E on our lounge room floor. Unlike Little M who is a carbon copy of her mother, Little E has her father's blue eyes and possible slim build. The obligatory child care nurse person has concerns about her weight, but I have none.

Tradie Brother has never much bothered with is birthday, and nor had we, so it was to arrange something for him and I think he appreciated it.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Oil of Ulan

I have no understanding of how the name Cholmondeley is pronounced Chumly. I have no idea why Mahoneys Road is pronounced Marnies Road. Nor do I understand why Beauchamp is pronounced Beecham. This English language is surely a hard thing to conquer. My first experience of words not being said like they are written comes from Mother, who for as long back as I can remember, the age of four, has daily applied Oil of Ulan to her face.

I remember being mystified as a child as the word on the bottle in brackets was the word Olay.  So which is it? Do you say Oil of Olay and not Ulan? How is it pronounced?

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Sunday Selections

Check River's website for her Sunday Selections, and others join in too. Mine this week are just random shots taken over the last few weeks.

Unlike the closed underground toilet in Russell Street, the above the ground area has been kept at this Queen Street toilet, with the just the below ground filled in.

Some times all of our recycling bins are full to overflowing, but that was not the case this day. It was just an action by someone who does not care. There was plenty of space in other bins. Note on the sign, no plastic bags. There is a separate bin for them. 

So what do people do? Yes, plastic bags aplenty, contaminating the recycling.

I've never noticed this little rose garden at the junction of Raglan and Bay Streets in Port Melbourne. It must look nicer in summer. I have driven past it so many times and not noticed and nor has R.

Harmless place to park a motor scooter? It is not. The scooter prevented a man in an electric wheel chair from passing. No doubt the owner would say, I will/was only be a minute. He or she can have the title of inconsiderate prick of the week. Daniel Bowen has more to say about paths and bike paths being blocked by inconsiderate pricks.

Like a lemming, one car came down Toorak Road the wrong way and another followed it. It is quite amazing how long it takes some people to realise their error. Although they stop at the pedestrian line, they cannot see any traffic light facing them. Don't they wonder why?

For as long as we have lived here I have seen the Friday night hands moving in the office building next when the days are short enough. The hands, I assume not the same ones over the last 14 years, move until about 8pm and then lights go out.

Formerly known as Albert Park Manor, the project has been given the final touches. I kept checking and checking and there was no indication that any were for sale. It seems they were built as rental, including within the old building itself. They are not very grand and the rental price reflects that. 

This one is certainly occupied. I think it has the largest balcony. Most of the apartments in the new part face the street behind.

R and myself have been having some fun with this sticking ball which turned up from somewhere. It is thrown at a smooth surface and it sticks.......for a little while.

Is this for firefighting or controlling the movements of other boats? I think I have seen one used at the beginning of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.

The Great Moscow Circus visited St Kilda, but did not obtain the proper permits from the council, with one tent far larger than described and another erected in the wrong place.

Murals in St Kilda. I like the second one.

Our trams are so crowded at times I have taken to using buses to get around the city where possible. I was in Carlton and ready to go home. I caught the 207 bus to Queen and Little Collins and the 220 home. I was lucky I did not have to wait long and I think I was home quicker than by using trams. The bus passed the old Russell Street police station, now apartments.