Saturday, July 23, 2016

A brief rant with bad words

A majority of Australians support same sex marriage, according to polls. As I have said before, it is not something I am passionate about personally, but I do recognise that it is important to many same sex couples. The ongoing joke between R and myself is when asked by someone, as you have heard before, well when I find someone I want to marry, I may be interested.

So a majority of Australians support same sex marriage, yet our politicians, including our newest Prime Minister elected in his own right, want a plebiscite on same sex marriage. That is a vote where everyone has to attend a poll and must vote with their opinion. This will come at a cost of $160 million and will probably indicate that the majority of Australians want to join the rest of the world with legalising same sex marriage.

No matter what the result of the plebiscite, it is not binding and if a change of policy goes before parliament, it may well be voted down and there will not be same sex marriage in Australia. How will that go down, both here and around the world.

For Christ's sake, just end this nonsense and just fucking well change the law.

Deal done. Those who are against same sex marriage will have forgotten about it come next Federal election, especially as it will be proved that society has not collapsed, just as it hasn't in other places where same sex marriage is allowed. Why is our government wasting so much time on this and why are taxpayers having to spend so much on something that will happen at some point anyway?

Later edit:

Courtesy Hels, here is a list:

give or take various and changing state and provincial laws, here are the countries that allow or recognise same-sex marriages:
Netherlands 2001
Belgium 2003
Canada 2003–05
USA 2004-15
Spain 2005
South Africa 2006
Norway 2009
Sweden 2009
Portugal 2010
Iceland 2010
Argentina 2010
Uruguay 2013
New Zealand 2013
France 2013
Brasil 2013
UK 2014
Luxembourg 2015
Guam 2015
Greenland 2015
Ireland 2015
Israel 2006
Mexico 2010

Friday, July 22, 2016

Cross Consumer

This arrived in out email inbox. Final electricity bill? Who? Which? What? Us?

Luckily it was early in the morning, so I did not have to queue when I called Origin Energy, although I did have to go through the press this button for this or that.

No, I assured Origin Energy, we have not changed to AGL Power. It was suggested that someone within the building may have changed and given the wrong apartment number. I would have thought changing suppliers would be little more complicated than that. Not happy. The person at Origin did what she had to do, gave me a nmi number or something and then transferred me to AGL and I was assured we would be changed back within a couple of weeks! and that the change would be backdated. I wish I could have faith, but I reckon this is going to get messy. I've already wasted 25 minutes of my time.

Yes, you buy by weight and that is how you should compare, in theory. As various industries describe it, there has been some settling of contents in this container of Vanish stain removing powder. It was only two thirds full. Why make the container one third larger than it needs to be? Surely not to be deceptive?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Melbourne Tram Tips

Our friend Victor is Sydney is about to visit Melbourne and no doubt he will travel on our trams. While Victor has used our Melbourne trams before, here are some tips for him and for others who might visit Melbourne and use our trams.

You have to buy a Myki card, a stored value card as is used by public transport systems all over the world. You can buy them from ticket machines, newsagents, 711s. That is, many many places. They cost $6, or $3 for concession folk and with the maximum full fare of $7.80, cheaper on weekends, in Melbourne for a day's travel on trains, trams and buses, it is not a bad deal at all. If you only use the system once for the day, you will pay the default fare of a two hour ticket at $3.90, much cheaper, but not so cheap if you travel for one stop and have to pay the default fare of a two hour ticket. There is nothing cheaper. That is what you pay and while the day ticket for multiple travel is cheap, a single trip to travel one stop is not.

You touch on. That means you hold the card steady at a reader. Most Myki readers are not very fast. Just be patient and don't wave your card around madly over the reader. That does not help. Hold it still where it is to be read.

When using trams, you must touch on your card. While you can touch off your card, there is no need. The system knows all about you if you touch on a tram with a card. You will pay the default two hour fare and if you touch on again more the two hours later, you will pay the day fare. If touching off your card makes you feel better, do it before the tram has stopped and the doors have started to close.

Yes, doors closing. With the exception of busy city tram stops, you need to be at the door and ready to get off the tram when it stops. You will be taken to the next stop if you stand up once the tram has stopped, try to touch off with you Myki and then get off the tram. Trams are moving beasts and they must move without delay.

There are heaps of customer service folk at major tram stops in the city, but if you need to ask the tram driver a question, keep it concise and direct. It is no good asking such vague questions such as 'where does this tram go?' The destination at the front, rear and both sides tells you this. 'How do I get to...?' is a good start. Note, add the important information, such as the words street, road or suburb. Asking for Fitzroy when you want Fitzroy Street in St Kilda will ensure you go wrong.

I have been left behind at stops, so take it from me, hail the tram, especially if the tram is operating on a street where multiple routes operate. Something like six tram routes pass The Highrise. Should I expect every tram to stop in case I want a tram for that particular route?

Leaving the tram; pull the cord or push the button or check by the indicator that someone else has, even if you are sure the tram will stop. No kittens will be tortured if someone has already done so. If you expected the tram to stop and it didn't because you did not put in the call, it is your fault and no one else's. I too have gone past my stop because I was engrossed in my phone. Again, that was my fault.

Mobile phones can be the enemy of successful tram travel. Which is more important to you at the time? But phones can be your friend for tram travel too. Download the Public Transport Victoria app to your phone, PTV and the Yarra trams app, Tram Tracker or the alternative, Tram Hunter which is my preferred choice for its simplicity. It is hardly objective, but I think the maps and other information on vehicles and at city tram stops are quite helpful to find your way. Another mea culpa. I nearly missed a tram because I was so busy looking at my phone to see when the next tram was due.

After some forty plus years of tram travel, how often I have heard the shriek and stumbling as a tram started off. Surprise! You are on a vehicle that moves. While trams aren't as smooth as trains, they are smoother than buses, but you still need to hang on unless you are young and fit and have good balance. Hand over hand as you move about a moving tram, handrails to hanging straps, or as a last resort a person who is hanging on. Choose a cute one, as I once did on a train as it swayed over a set of points.

Melbourne's tram drivers are quite used to avoiding hitting pedestrians. Why not give it a shot and walk in front of tram, or duck behind, like locals do? The locals mostly know what they are doing. You as a tourist do not. So, yes test out our tram driver skills, and perhaps our public hospital system shortly afterwards.

Boarding a tram. It is foolish to queue up to get on at the narrow front door when big wide doors are open further along the tram. It is not like you have to pay the driver as you board.

If you are an old person with a dodgy knee or lots of wrinkles, you probably will be offered a seat. Mind, if I am reading or looking at my phone or gazing distractedly out the window, I may not notice you.  If so, ask and public opinion will be on your side. If you sit near the front door of a tram, that is where all the oldies obsessively like to get on a tram,  expect to have to offer your seat.

At many city tram stops and some out of the city are live tram arrival displays. These are only accurate to around two minutes. If you are at a platform stop, then it will be a level surface to board low floor trams. The live tram display indicates by a wheelchair symbol that it is a low floor tram. The wheel chair symbol also means indirectly that the tram will have air conditioning, for heating and cooling.

When there are two trams at a city stop, the first one will be busy and unless you are in a mega hurry, consider getting on the second tram. You will probably get to your destination at the same time, but in much less crowded comfort. Weekdays, off peak, when visitors will be travelling, the trams for individual routes run at between every 8 to 12 minutes.

Our trams are a pretty good form of public transport, so enjoy riding on them but take some care too. As my father once said to me, a tram always rings its bell before it hits you.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Invasion of Central Park

I know what New York's Central Park is like at this time of the year. We were there one year ago. How hard we tried to see the park, and did see a little of it, but not properly. It was so hot and steamy.

Nevertheless, in spite of the heat and humidity the good citizens of New York went out to battle against the alien invader in Central Park known by the name of  Vaporeon, Well, that is how I interpret what happened.

I am torn between being a grumpy old man about Pokeman Go and being rather interested in hunting these critters out. I'll leave it for the younguns. Once Tetris disappeared from my newer phones, I no longer have an interest in games.

It is better that the yoof pursue mindless entertainment for the masses, rather than blowing people up or mowing them down.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


Written late last week.

While Oldest Niece is contentedly home with her baby and toddler, her older brother, Fire Fighting Nephew, is swanning around New York with his partner and her mother. They are in a nice hotel in Manhattan on the western side of Central Park, but will move to Brooklyn and then return to a different hotel in Manhattan. I have no idea why.

Fire Fighting Niece ended her Contiki tour in Amsterdam and spent some time with her friend who lives there and they spent a few days in Rotterdam. Her earlier plans of meeting a friend of her older brother and attending a music festival in England fell through and after she felt she had seen enough of The Netherlands, she decided she would go to the north of England a couple of days early to spend time with R's family. While they had planned for her visit, I am sure they had not planned for her early arrival. R's oldest sister and her husband now only have a one bedroom unit, so she will be couch sleeping for her visit.

R received a Face Book message from her asking for contact details for his sister. R was cross. We made sure she all the contact details she needed before she left home. R asked me, you know on Sunday how Oldest Niece called her sister on her tablet and we all had a chat? Was that Skype or???? I didn't know. Then R said, I think it was using Face Book. Here is her name and there is a ├žall button' (my keyboard had become a little European. If I put an inverted comma before a c, it makes one of those French pronunciations marks. Not sure if it will show in the post). He touched the call button and lo and behold, her phone was ringing, but no answer. We tried again later and she did answer and of course we could see her on the screen too. I believe it is called Face Time.

She was sitting in a cafe in Rotterdam eating chips. She did have the contact details but wasn't sure how to call England from The Netherlands. She had at least decided how to get to the north of England,  by travelling on the overnight ferry. The price seemed a bit expensive to me, over €200 had been quoted but I don't think she would have paid that much. The next time we heard anything was a photo of her on FB the next day eating breakfast in R's middle sister's cafe in Newcastle. Relief, she made it and R's family will look after her. Judging by subsequent photos, they are looking after her very well, with the latest photos showing her in the arms of a drag queen in a Newcastle nightclub in the company of two of R's nieces and their friends.

But her arrival at Newcastle did not go smoothly and there was an incident, as R's oldest sister explained on the phone to R. While she has many admirable traits and we love her dearly, being organised is not one of her strengths. She partied on the overnight ferry as she crossed the North Sea and I expect was a little grumpy when she arrived at Newcastle's port in North Shields. To quote her, 'this customs chick didn't like me'. She was detained for an hour at Her Majesty's pleasure and interviewed as she was being very vague about her plans in England. Fortunately R's Sister and her husband were outside waiting for her and immigration interviewed them. What is her job? They didn't know. How do you know her? She is the niece of my brother's partner. Have you met her before? Yes, a few times when we were twice in Australia. Where will she stay? With us for most of the time but we believe she may visit Scotland and Ireland. An hour later she was deemed not to be at risk to the population and security of mighty Great Britain and was allowed to join R's family.

We await the next installment, via Face Book photos.

Later: It is probably two or so weeks since Fire Fighting Niece was in Nice and walked the Promenade des Anglais. Scary, hey.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Musical Monday

Check River's Musical Monday offering here.

I listened to a BBC podcast about Sylvester, that is the singer, not the cat. I knew nothing about him, not even that it was a him, apart from some of his music. He was gay, black, had a marvellous falsetto voice and grew up in very modest circumstances in Los Angeles. By the age of 22 he had left home and his church and was living and performing in San Francisco. He employed two female backing singers, Martha Wash and Izora Rhodes who went on later to make up part of The Weather Girls. He shot to fame when he released his album, Step II, in 1978. He certainly knew how to style himself, as these photos show. I contend that this song is up there with other gay iconic tracks such as Donna Summer's I Feel Love.

From the album, Step II, You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real). 4:27 The larger than life diva Sylvester died from complications of HIV/AIDS in 1988, aged 41.

If you are interested, the BBC podcast is here and a documentary made by US tv station TV One is here on You Tube.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sunday Selections

Joining River and others for Sunday Selections.

I had a very rough day at work last Wednesday and I was extremely stressed when I arrived home from work. I questioned myself as how much longer I could continue to do the job that I once found easy and fun. I decided I needed a mental health day off work with some time alone, which I had as it was take Mother our day for R. I guilty told R that spending time with Mother would not be beneficial to my mental health, and R readily agreed. Spending time with Mother is not good for R's mental health either. By late morning I had gotten on top of things at home and I was feeling quite relaxed. Being at home all day is not good for mental health either, so I went out for a late lunch and coffee and then little wander. After lunch I crossed the road to take a closer look at the former Albert Park Manor. The renovations and building of apartments at the rear has been completed after perhaps eighteen months. No matter how hard I Googled it, little would ever come up and the reason being it was built as rental flats, not flats for sale. Very unusual these days. I think it is quite a good result. The original building was retained and the flats at the back are less noticeable that what you might think from the photo. The old building is also flats.

This ground floor at the front is for lease as a cafe/restaurant. The modern bit at the side is supposed to be an outdoor are for the restaurant, but it is totally enclosed.

I could have done better with my photo of the front door. Nice stained glass, probably original.

One of the probably one bedroom flats with an enclosed balcony, but with opening louvre windows.

The entrance to the apartments.

Behind the building, the view from Arnold Street. Sorry about the giant tower in the background. I wonder who lives there?

I wandered along Arnold Street. Had I some gas, I could have barbequed a chop.

I really don't know anything about the back of this building. Perhaps it was associated with what I mention later in this post.

Within it is a gallery window with regularly changing display.

I don't think my current camera has grid lines settings. I really need them.

While the front of the St Thomas Aquinas church is Spanish Mission style, the side and the rear is not. I believe the terrace houses are kind of grace and favour accommodation or alms housing if you like.

It was hard to get a photo of these two attractive terrace houses without getting a passing Melbourne Grammar boy in the shot. Ah that tall building is really dominating the views.

A mostly new Melbourne Grammar building.

A gas lamp with its four mantles.

There always be in England...right here in Victoria at Melbourne Grammar.

Around the corner into Bromby Street is a lovely terrace of two storey houses.

Art Deco or Moderne? I love it. There's that bloody big building in the background again.

Back across St Kilda Road is a wide view of the Royce Hotel. It was once the Melbourne showroom for Rolls Royce cars and I remember petrol bowsers being in front of it on the street. Then it was taken over by the army, the purpose for which I have forgotten, and it then became a hotel with modern extensions at the rear and the side.

It is quite some building. Our friend Pants once stayed there and we met her in the bar for a very civilised drink one afternoon.

Some of the buildings I photographed you will have seen before, and that includes this very cute weather vane atop The Royce.