Saturday, September 17, 2016

Parp Parp, as Noddy's horn used to sound.

There’s something seriously wrong in Australia. According to the OECD data, 5 children under the age of six years died on Swedish roads in 2011. The corresponding figure for the UK was 13, which after allowing for population size, is better than Sweden. But in Australia the equivalent figure was 39 and this figure is deplorable. I wonder what the figure might be for the US?

Driving in Scandinavian countries really is a privilege. I expect its driving training standards are very high. I just recently learnt that you do a cram course to learn to drive in Japan with a two week in house full time course, or the same course part time over six months. Rather puts Australian driving training standards to shame.

Australian driving standards have fallen to an appalling level. I will suggest that something like 10% of Australian drivers just should not be behind the steering wheel of a car, 20% are just not vaguely competent as drivers. Yes, I reckon 30% of Australian drivers should not be on the road. About half of the 30% would be immigrants who through nefarious means or not can drive on our roads forever without a Victorian driving license. I have seen them passing by a tram at 60 km/h as people were getting off the tram. They just have no idea that they have to stop to let people get on and off trams. Mind, I have seen Irish backpackers do the same, along with outer suburban people. There is some very incompetent driving by older many generational Australians who have grown up with cars and driving and should know better. Don't let me start on blonde women in monster black RVs who window shop as they drive along our better streets.

Rant over, and I found this of some interest. Dagen day in Denmark was in 1967, when Denmark changed from driving on the left, like we in Australia, Japan and Britain do, to driving on the right, matching Denmark up with other Scandinavian countries and many parts of the world. The funny thing is that Danish cars were left hand drive and they drove on the left. That is really weird.

The people fought against the change for a very long time but eventually through propaganda, legislation and any way they could think of, the legislation was passed.

It was quite a logistical task to change over the side of road the Danish drove on, especially in Copenhagen. Cars were banned from the streets for many hours while lines were repainted, signs replaced, and roads rebuilt. Sadly the Danish authorities found trams all too hard to incorporate into the change and just scrapped the tram system, replacing them with buses.

While I can't recall its name the same change happened on a Pacific island. In both countries, car accident and death rates dropped during the transition. I think Burma changed driving sides too, to the right.

I've never understood why among all the Asian countries, Japan is nearly alone in driving on the left hand side of the road. It is wonder post World War II that a change was not forced by the victorious US.

Selling my soul. Single X rating

I don't know what you, dear reader, will make of this. I have sold my soul to commerce for a small amount of payola. As you will know, I don't have advertising on my blog and I quickly delete any comment that appears to come from a commercial source. I have not had one of those for a while, but oddly, I just had one promoting a company that assists you to protest against a property development you have issues with. It was deleted.

So when the owner of a local adult product online shop contacted me about collaborating on a post for my blog that would promote his business, I just ignored it. But oddly I did not delete the email. Clearly something was going on in my head. I quite like to write about sex (lordy, there was a time when I liked doing it), but I restrain myself in my writing to protect the morals of my virtuous 60 odd year old female commentators and I have to remember, many people have links to my website on their website. I never blame anyone if they don't link to my website. But along with buildings, daily life, Youtube videos and other stuffs, I am still a sexual being. I think there may be quite a gay readership of my blog too, though not many gay men comment.

When I was younger with a very healthy sexual appetite, I occasionally visited sex shops. At times it was both of us. The only one around for gay men in the 1980s was The Beat Bookshop in Greville Street, Prahran. It moved to Commercial Road in the 1990s. Commercial Road was then a very gay strip in Melbourne up until the early 2000s. It is not now, but Beat Bookshop is still there. I have not been inside there for nigh on twenty years. Another opened in Izett Street, Prahran and lasted a few years, but it too has closed now. Eagle Leather in Hoddle Street is another that still exists.

But I then had a look around the website of the person who emailed me. I was really was very impressed. (Am I sounding like I have been got at yet?) The prices are similar to what you would would pay in the US for such products, unlike here in Australia where we are ripped off all the time with huge loadings for such products.  The product range is extraordinary. If it is not sold by this online shop, then it probably doesn't exit.

Are you now a little aroused and wondering what you might buy at such an online shop? Maybe you are shaking your head in disgust at me talking about sex and sex products? C'mon. Sex is basic human behaviour. You can do it with someone or do it on your own. So, take a look if you like ladies and gentlemen. I just broke up laughing at the name of one of those inflatable life sized dolls, Allie McSqueal.

Just be grateful I did not include photos in this post. Some of the photos really leave you wondering where things fit and what they do.

Friday, September 16, 2016

A sympathetic bank manager

I received a comment on a very old post which I had totally forgotten about that included this ad for ANZ Bank. Maybe you too had forgotten about Barbara or perhaps you have never seen the ad.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Living in a controlled temperature environment

Midsummer it could be 40 degrees, over 100F  at Sister's house and she will say, it not really that hot is it. Damn you Sister, could you please turn on the air conditioning. Sister might say, isn't there a cooling breeze coming through? We freeze at Sister's house in the winter. Heating? Oh, you want heating. Heating is only turned on when Little Jo complains about her being cold in the house, or when I am brave enough to just switch heating on under the glare of both Sister and Bone Doctor. We have cooked in stinking heat at Sister's house as well as froze in the winter, to the point we are no longer inclined to visit Sister mid winter or mid summer. Sister has no compunction about switching our heating or cooling off here if it does suit her. The gentle warm circulating air is described 'as there is hurricane of hot air blowing on me'.

I just can't bear heating and cooling Nazi holier than thou types, and thankfully R and myself are on one with this. I am not going to sit around in a hat, coat and gloves at home when it is cold. I am not going to walk around in only my underwear when it is hot and mist myself from a bottle of water or point a fan at a dish of water.

The poor can't afford? We don't live in an extreme climate. It doesn't take much energy to warm or cool us. Look at what it costs per day, maybe a dollar or two. I will use our aircon to control the temperature of our home to a comfortable level, whether the weather is hot or cold and youse can all get ******.

God did not give us artificial heating and cooling for no reason. He meant for us to be comfortable.

Having said that, being spoilt in a temperature controlled environment, home, car, and work, we can become rather weak about facing weather elements. I confess that both R and myself have moaned this year about our long winter, although getting much warmer now (there has been a relapse back to winter). Before you know it, we will be complaining about the heat.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


There should be one of those accent thingies over the e in Outre. I believe Fire Fighting Nephew's partner received a substantial voucher for her birthday to spend at Outre Gallery in Elizabeth Street. The voucher was kind of crowd funded among her relatives and friends. R and I visited the gallery a few weeks ago to see what was so special about it. It did have some interesting prints. I took a few snaps.

No doubt this is Sydney, with the now removed monorail.

Cat decorating cat. Pity it is out of focus.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Transport Tueday

I am not sure when I first became interested in public and rail transport. It was probably with the advent of the internet. Public transport and rail transport are terribly important, from both a users point of view, an economic and environmental sense, and an historical manner in that it heavily influenced how 19th and 20th centuries cities were built around the world.

What surprised me most about Melbourne's train system was to learn how much of our suburban system is single track. A couple of relatively recent things have outraged me. Ok, it was back in the 20th century when the electric Gippsland line was converted to diesel. I understand that the government at the time did not want to spend money on new electric locomotives to replace old ones and the line was never electrified past Traralgon, so requiring diesel trains on to the Bairnsdale terminus. De-electrification seems to be a very strange thing to do for the sake of the cost of some new locomotives.

The other outrage was while it was renovated to run trains at a much higher speed, the train line to the regional city of Bendigo was reduced to single track for much of its journey.

Single train tracks may be fine in theory, where trains briefly pause at sidings to allow another train to pass, but they only work when everything runs like clockwork. What a step backwards and what a stupid idea.

So I really was surprised how much of our suburban trains system is single track. I can remember back to when there were short sections of single tram line at suburban termini too, but these have all been duplicated now.

There was a section near Clifton Hill that was single track, Clifton Hill being an inner area. I believe it has now been duplicated. The final sections of the Belgrave and Lilydale lines are single track, as is the last four kilometres of the Upfield line. The Hurstbridge line has a very long length of single track, from Heidelberg to the terminus. This makes the line very unreliable and a pain to use. The government has bitten the bullet licked the bullet with the tip of its tongue and announced funding for a mere 1.2 kilometres further, with still another 15 kilometres of single track in place.

And then there is the Altona Loop. A tweeter I follow, Misguided Jennie I think, often points out difficulty with this line. It is a single track diversion from the mainline to Werribee. Without going into great detail, some time trains run to Werribee via the Altona Loop and sometimes they they go directly along the mainline. At times it is only a back and forth shuttle service. It is not a great service. If you want to go to the main city station, Flinders Street, you have to catch three trains. In peak times, it is only a 22 minute service interval. Unfortunately as soon as something goes wrong, it seems the Altona Loop service is cancelled, and it becomes a 44 minute gap between trains. This is outrageous. Being a single track line makes things all the more difficult. Mind, it is a really nice train trip on the day time shuttle from Newport to Laverton. I have made the trip three times and every time I saw rabbits. Yes, they are a pest, but....

So a forty four minute service in peak time is obviously unacceptable, and the same happens on the Upfield line that has a 20 minute peak service. Most of our other train lines have a much more frequent service and while a cancellation means crowding, it is quite different to a forty minute gap between trains.

Of course if the line was duplicated, it could be much better utilised and of great benefit to passengers. There are no plans but oddly the government is funding the removal of a road level crossing that has minimal impact on traffic. It seems the government is at least putting two tracks down as part of the crossing. It is the beginning of duplication of the line but don't hold your breath for completion.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Bad news Good news

Often enough I am not home to see the 6pm commercial tv news. Often I am not home to see the Australian Broadcasting Corporation tv news at 7pm. I was home tonight to watch the ABC news and I was looking forward to it. Instead, I tuned out. It was all so depressing.

I did come across some good news today though, which actually quite surprised me. I thought Spaniards would in general be supporters of the cruelty to bulls, such as the events of running of the bulls, and spearing of the bulls. Part of their culture, what?

Apparently this is not so and I am very pleased to relate this. The Guardian informs me that thousands of Spaniards rallied in Madrid to protest against these cruelties to bulls. There has been some progress in Spain, as you can see from the inserted clips below from The Guardian.

I believe in the filter down effect of stopping the abuse of animals. We can't lecture other countries too harshly until we are clear of conscience at home, and we are not there yet. I hear my neighbour, The Senator, is for banning the live trade export of cattle and sheep. He will bargain over that with other parties and may or may not be successful, but it is a good start.

Anyway, I was truly surprised and pleased to learn of this protest. Good on you Spaniards protesting against extreme animal cruelty.

The regional government of Castilla y Leon in June banned the killing of bulls at town festivals.

Bullfights are a national shame and if they represent me, then I am not Spanish

The Madrid protesters held up banners saying: “Bullfighting, the school of cruelty” and “Bullfighting, a national shame”.

“I think our laws should prohibit the torture of animals as a form of entertainment,”

said it was “time to end bullfighting and all other bloody spectacles”.

Meanwhile Valencia, Spain’s third largest city, has banned the tradition of “bous embolats”, setting bulls loose with lighted torches attached to their horns .

Bullfighting and the Bourbons should be in museums.

Aficionados are not giving up without a struggle. They see bullfighting as an art that is an integral part of Spanish culture, like flamenco.

Musical Monday with a Broken Axle

Did it go kerthump, kerbang or was it just clunk, and then a dragging noise. Poor horsies inside. I heard the noise and watched the vehicle drag the horse float around the corner before stopping.

I immediately thought of the children's song, One Wheel's Off and the Axle's Dragging. It is actually called Little Red Wagon.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Yarra Walk Pt 2, 2/2

Someone should write a history of what is now the Burnley Campus of University of Melbourne. I've known it by various names over the years, mainly Burnley Horticultural Gardens. Horticulture is its focus. It was once the site of Melbourne's Flower and Garden Show, before the show moved to the Carlton Gardens and became too commercial and very expensive to visit.

I don't know what this is. The sign says, No Wash.

Hawthorn Bridge is undergoing a renovation. The construction of the bridge was completed in 1861. The ironwork was made in England and shipped to Australia but the ship caught fire and was scuttled to put the fire out, so the ironwork was lost and had to be reordered. The bridge carries vehicles, pedestrians and route 48 and 75 trams.

A short length of boardwalk after the bridge.

On the far side of the river is now the suburb of Kew.

Ultra modern.

Is it a granny flat built into the ground? Maybe a dog kennel for a bad husband?

More footpath signage.

Lovely a green area where I stopped for a few minutes and sat on a bench.

Toorak can be a bit flashy at times. Kew is more conservative.

Re hot pokers, doing well.

Rail bridge for the  Belgrave and Lilydale trains.

Wattle in bloom as I am about to enter the the tunnel.

Looking a little rural, really, but less than ten minutes by train from the city.

I  like the look of this modest boat.

Melbourne Girls' College is a competitive entrance government school, once the site of Richmond High School.

Half way up the hill is a delightful looking gazebo.

The girls rowing 'shed.

Right next to this purpose built ramp to launch their craft.

Dormant poplars across the river?

Hawthorn Rowing Club.

A little repetition with a gazebo in a small and steep park.

Leading down to a boat landing.


They don't show very well but their are curious capped pipe looking things jutting out of this wall.

There are a number of apartments now on the bank I am walking along.

I have reached Victoria Bridge and the conclusion of the second of my three section Yarra River walks from the city to the mouth of Merri Creek. The bridge is now much more substantial than when first built in 1884. It was widened in 1890 to carry horse trams. In 1915 it was strengthened to carry electric trams and footpaths were added. It was further widened in 1933 and significant maintenance carried out. It carried vehicles, pedestrians and tram route 109.

I climbed up the stairs provided by this swank looking building. I think it is for hosting conferences and social gatherings. The land from the river here through to Burnley Street was once the site of the massive engineering works factory, Vickers-Ruwolt. There are now apartments and Victoria Gardens Shopping Centre, with an Ikea within. The centre does not embrace the external world and has a very dismal pedestrian entrance, however, it does have a massive amount of car parking. Still, a lot of people arrive to the centre by tram and the pedestrian entrance should be more welcoming.

That mus be the name of the reception place.

On the other side of Victoria Street was once a massive industrial site, now quickly becoming apartments. The completed block is quite interesting as within is an open courtyard with cafes and other businesses including commercial offices. When I begin my third leg of the walk, I will go in and take some photos. Where I am standing the river is on my right but it makes a 90 degree turn left behind this building.

I was clearly getting tired and did not make much effort photographing these historic buildings. I will return and do better.

The is Audrey of Skipping Girl Vinegar fame. A developer wants to build a tower block on the far side of her and block the views of Audrey as you are coming along Victoria Street from the city.

Very nice Art Deco married with some modern construction.

Here is a better photo of Audrey. She is neon lit at night and skips using her skipping rope. It is a brilliant and quite old design.