Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas in Melbourne

With it being daylight until 9:00pm in December, Australia does not really do much in the way of window decoration or street lighting for Christmas. The children should be in bed by 9, not out on the streets. But there are efforts at decorating in the streets. Here are a few photos I have taken over the last few weeks.

Christmas banners in the Greek precinct of Melbourne. None for Chinese in the Chinese precinct.

While we took Little Jo to see the Myer Christmas windows, the adults of The Highrise had already taken a look. It was a really good display this year and did not have the heavy hand of commercialism pressing down upon it as much as some years. Of course the book on which the windows is based was available for sale. The story is of a girl being taken by her grandfather to Lunar Park, an amusement park. There is some animation in all of the eight? windows.

The merry go round horse flies to the stars.

Southbank pedestrian bridge gets a bow.

Children found this very enticing in Federation Square. Not sure why as they could only stand there. Nothing else to do.

But Fen with her camera at the ready shows how a little lighting makes it come alive. Note, Fen has not posted on her blog since October, but you can find her on Instagram and Twitter, where she is quite busy.

Malvern Town Hall. Malvern is an expensive area about seven kilometres from Melbourne city.

Unlike me, again, Fen gets out at night.

Brunetti in the City Square, which will disappear for the construction of the Metro Rail.

Children queue to see Santa at the City Square. Not a bad place for them to rid themselves of an excess of energy.

The projectors for the light display on the Town Hall. We saw it last year and it was ok. Fen does not think it was anything wonderful. Once you see projections, I find they lose their appeal, a bit like fireworks for me. Living here, I have seen so many fireworks and no longer bother watching them usually.

Christmas themed flower displays, very popular with tourist snappers.

Melbourne Town Hall.

A rather odd 'Christmas Tree' in Melbourne Central shopping centre.

A bit more like proper trees, but is that the best QV shopping centre can do?

Lastly, our sideboard and Christmas tree, and Christmas Eve we laid the table. Bit of mismatching happening but given I very much doubt we will be doing it again, it is not worth expenditure on things that will get used once. R has excelled this year, perhaps because he has time to fiddle. If it is your thing, Merry Christmas to you, and if not otherwise enjoy.

I laughed: Tech lesson #157

I posted this photo on FB I came across on Twitter and the comments are slightly altered to protect the guilty. Tradie Brother eventually joined FB after previously saying it was evil and led to the break up of friends and family. He is a real prankster and is very amusing at times. He puzzled Mother for some time when he stuck fake flowers in a couple of her garden bushes. He admits he is not tech literate and only accesses the internet with his phone, and he plays the ocker bogan (chav or redneck) so well. He can actually write proper English quite well.

Me: A photo for Tradie Brother. No TB, you are too old to be climbing trees.


TB: Ihadadreammedobetter

Oldest Niece: you need to put spaces in dad

TB: How

Oldest Niece: The button that says space

Flip Mate

I have a Filipino workmate. I've known him a long time but we aren't friends. We just have a chat at times.

Once back in the days when I would participate in gay chat lines, yes Hels, IRC, I came across someone who was friendly and we chatted for a while and he then asked me where I worked. I normally don't say, but for some forgotten reason I did. He asked me if I knew A, a Filipino. Of course I did. The chat went back and forth and eventually I asked if A was properly gay. I am sure it wasn't phrased like that though. Oh yes, was the reply, he certainly is. Some time later, A's photo appeared in the gay press with a rather nice looking white guy while they were out at a venue.

A is tall, nice looking and seems to have a lot of Spanish blood, as some Filipinos do. He always had terrific thick black hair and the most modern styling of his hair, with a style and or colour change almost fortnightly. But something happened and suddenly the hair went flat and boring.

What happened, may you wonder. He married, a woman, and had children. He no longer pops a Christmas card in my work letter box, just as well because they always concluded with God Bless. Even in his old gay days, he was quite religious, a Catholic of course.

Recently I asked him his age. Straight guys are usually honest about their age. He told me an age which my mind quickly calculated to him starting at our workplace at about the age of ten. There is still a little bit of the gay about him. Does he have a bit of gay action on the side of his marriage? I don't know but so many I know do so, yet have a seemingly good marriage.

Being gay and being married and with children is a very Asian/Indian thing. It is not exclusively so though. Note the number of men at gay pick up parks etc with a child seat in the back of their car. We happened across such a place by chance in our western suburbs, and the number of cars there with child seats in the back was extraordinary. On recent holidays we came across another similar place at Batemens Bay, that is guys absent from their cars, somewhere in the bush and child seats in the back of their cars.

Word Grumble

Invoice and receipt....such a simple words. You pay for something and you receive a receipt to prove you have paid. It's a brilliant system.

If something is wrong with what you have bought, you can prove when and where you bought if you return it. If you are buying for someone else, no need to write the price down or try to remember the price. You receive a receipt. If an item is tax deductible, you have the receipt you have proof for the tax department. If you are a business person, you can put all the receipts together for later book keeping entry.

At times you receive an invoice, or a bill, stating how much you need to pay.

But now, when we are being asked to pay for something, it is called a tax invoice. Likewise, when we pay, we receive a tax receipt. Why this change? It is an invoice or receipt. Why add tax to it?

Just a reminder of my least favourite words, orientated and orientating. It is oriented and orienting. Why add unnecessary extra syllables?

Thought for the day: The only good thing about cheddar cheese from the supermarket is that it does not crumble like feta cheese does when you stab it with a fork.

The plans

I am on holidays for two weeks. Yippee! It will pass quickly. Saturday will be food shopping day. I have been told by Household Management that we must be at the shops by 8am. I expect many other people will think the same. Might be better to go at 5pm and pick up cheap unsold hams and other goodies. I expect some people also have that plan.

Christmas Day we are hosting for ten, including us. Preparations have long been underway, mostly by the retired R. I just say shouldn't we do this, or shouldn't we do that, or not do that. We will have Mother, ABI Brother, Sister, Bone Doctor and Little Jo, Tradie Brother and his son the Firefighting Nephew, former non dreaded, former dreaded nephew (dreaded as in dreadlocks) and Hippie Niece, aka, Firefighting Niece, or Chainsaw Niece, but now Aged Care Niece. With her will be her unborn coffee coloured twins. Firefighting Nephew's betrothed will call in mid afternoon.

I told R after the last time that he was not to do Christmas again, as he approaches 70, but is happy to do it once more. My goodness, the effort he is putting in. At least he has the time. Even with the time, I am not sure I would do half as well..........who can I call for catering?

Of course we had a lovely Christmas lunch last Sunday with our friends. But does Christmas end on Christmas Day? Oh no it does not. Ex Sis in Law had invited us to her place on Boxing Day for another Christmas lunch. After Mother insisting that we check if Ex Sis in Law has cooling, she has agreed to attend to see her grand children and great grand children. It will be lovely to see Ex Sis in Law, her partner, Middle Niece and her two daughters, toddler Little M and baby Little Em.

ABI Brother wanted to stay here on Christmas night so he could be bright and early at the Boxing Day test cricket. Mother reminded him that he had to take her home after Christmas here. Missed a minor bullet there. He is no bother though.

This evening Bone Doctor called from their home phone to R's phone. R was busy cooking me a delicious chicken schnitzel, so I answered. Why do people play games with whose phone they call? Apart from can we bring anything more for Christmas Day aside from the formerly discussed Christmas pudding and brandy custard and cream, is there anything else? Bon bons? No, we have too many of those already. The normally very even Bone Doctor sounded stressed. She has had a rough week at work, with patients not being at all obliging about turning up on time for appointments, this last day being the worst when her whole appointment schedule fell apart . Then after Christmas there will be the flood of Pap Smears, from women who can't seem to find the time throughout the year and save it for their summer holidays. I don't know the details of pap smears, but I guess it is preventative health. Sounds quite unpleasant to me but the dyke Bone Done Doctor is a popular person to do Pap Smears.

The actual point of the call, and as R will tell you, they only call when they want something, this time can we look after Little Jo on the second day of the test cricket when they will attend the MCG. Of course we can. As if we would say no to Little Jo. I will be Nasty Uncle and restrict her computer access. Maybe we will swim in our pool, make craft and drawings. We are are looking after Dog Jack over Christmas, so he will need walking and Little Jo will have to walk Dog Jack with us. Bone Doctor pointed out that Little Jo tries to do many things at once, including being on the internet. She will have her internet time here, but it will be focused, as will be other things.

My theoretical parenting is brilliant. It just never seems to work.

Friday, December 23, 2016

The ten quid note

I have seen this sketch before, quite some time ago, yet I didn't remember the punchline and it came as surprise to me. It is not belly laugh stuff and Dave Allen gives a very restrained performance. It is a stretch to say it is one the funniest sketches of all time. 2:45

Thursday, December 22, 2016

An apple shop in town

Opinions on the merits of Federation Square are often strong. Some, like myself, over time have grown to like it. It is a vast space over the top of what was railway yards. Within it is public art galleries, performance space, houses SBS TV and Radio, shops, bars and restaurants, I could go on.

I suppose you would call this part the public space at Fed Square. There is a proposal to demolish the colourful building on the right for a multi storied apple shop, a large glass cube. A glass cube does not seem appropriate for apple storage. While Fed Square sits well above the river and I do agree it could be better connected to the river and this will be part of the proposal, I am not sure the price will be worth the destruction of an important part of Fed Square. However, just up the street is a fruit stall and I know it sells apples, and so I don't want to see the look of Federation Square ruined by demolishing an integral part of the square for a shop to sell bloody apples. Besides, apple consumption is steadily falling around the world.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

R thinks....

It is not often that R thinks about world affairs. He asked me the other day, how is Israel so rich when it all looks like desert? Off the top of my head, I replied, technology, arms and Jewish money coming from the US. These were only guesses on my part. It is a good question and a chance to learn.

Alas, it proved very difficult  to research as there is so much biased reporting by those who either support Israel or hate Israel. What did seem reliable was quite technical and not suitable for a lightweight blog post. It does seem I wasn't far wrong with what I replied to R off the top of my head though.

What is undeniable is that Israel is, with only a couple of faltering steps, an amazing economic success story, coming in about sixth in world in income levels. There are many qualifications that can be put on this figure, including it being only second to the US with inequitable wealth distribution and having a large black market within its economy.

Not sure I will ever visit Israel and I would probably only go to Tel Aviv, a very western city on the Mediterranean coast.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Mother's neighbours and the US health system

Mother is 82, I think. She has good neighbours, who she manipulates over time to be her servants.

The two dykes who rented next door were only there for one year and they were caring and sharing people with dogs. As I cracked to R, they weren't there for long enough for Mother to really get her claws into them. Nevertheless, one of the girls called in during the week and Mother was in the backyard tending her garden and did not hear the doorbell. The lass left a potted up hanging basket full of flowers, a $50 shop voucher and a Christmas card saying, you are still the best neighbour we have ever had.

I paint my mother in a very negative manner and that is how she is with her children and R, but she isn't like that with everyone. Clearly the girls liked her muchly.


If you are not a resident of the US you are probably a little mystified about the US health care system. Possibly even US residents are a little confused by their health care system. Obamacare made some improvements, the major one in my opinion being that health insurance funds can no longer refuse to cover people who are ill or seen as a high risk of becoming ill. The system will undoubtedly be altered by Donald Trumpet, but how?

Take a listen to this very interesting podcast from ABC Radio National. I think it should work for overseas listeners too. You can 'listen now' or right click and download to listen to at your leisure.

The Affordable Care Act or ObamaCare as it is known – was signed into law by President Barack Obama in March, 2010. It aimed to reform the American health insurance industry and to finally provide health coverage for the millions of Americans who had none, but President-elect Donald Trump has promised to repeal and replace Obamacare. So what is Obamacare and just how successful has it been in terms of covering those millions of America that before 2010 had no health cover?

While I am sure Obama regrets what he did not achieve, he was always reassuring, calm, polite, humorous and a brilliant orator. Being a statesman came naturally to him will be missed.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Musical Monday and I play the piano

Friday night was dinner out with friends at a rather good Indian restaurant, and I can recommend Kantipur in Hawthorn Road, Caulfield. It was our first time there and we will return. It was a combined Christmas get together and a birthday celebration. I invited a workmate along and my instinct proved to be correct. He got along with everyone and has asked to be included in future catch ups. Unfortunately we had to leave before the birthday cake was brought out as we had to pick up Little Jo from the Parkview Hotel just down the street.

Sister and Bone Doctor had been to Bone Doctor's sister's registry office wedding. Little Jo was flower girl. Afterwards they late lunched at an upmarket Fitzroy hotel. Sister and Bone Doctor did not ask to stay here. Maybe they find it too cramped in our third bedroom, in spite of it having a good mattress, an overhead fan and Bone Doctor usually sleeps on the floor on a lilo that she keeps in our wardrobe. Or maybe they did not want to ask after being very negative about us visiting them in our campervan in October.

Little Jo had a quick bedtime story and went straight to sleep. I awoke at 6.30, got up made myself coffee and went back to bed, but I turned on the computer and opened the 'safe' browser, the one we never use, IE. Ten minutes later, sure enough she was awake and at the desktop. I got out of bed again and gave her a glass of water and went back to bed and used my tablet. At home she is forbidden from getting out of bed before 7.00.

R said at some point, she is like Auntie Andrew. She doesn't sleep a lot.

By 8.30 we were in town looking at the Myer Christmas windows. I now have about 12 Myki public transport cards, most just found. Some came with credit on them but they are all exhausted now, including the child card with a negative 70 cents balance. We had to use Little Jo's registered card. I checked the balance on the latest I had found, and $7 on it. Great to give to a visitor to use. We had breakfast at a cafe. R and Little Jo went to see the gingerbread house display at Melbourne Town Hall, while I went off shopping on my own to buy R's Christmas present and a few other things. By the time I arrived home, R and Little Jo had put up our Christmas tree. God, it was only 10.30 in the morning. As I say, if you have stuffs to do, you've got to get up early.

While Little Jo accepted breakfast at a cafe, the reward was to cross the road to McDonalds for lunch. Bad timing at noon, just as construction workers flooded the place. I was forced to look at so many bare tradie legs, some slim, some muscley, some hairy and some smooth, not that I took much notice. I have gone from being ambivalent about McDonalds' food to downright not liking it and that experience was a confirmation. I had a double cheeseburger, chips and a Coke. The Coke was ok. Little Jo ordered it all on the screen, but she didn't pay for it.

Sister and Bone Doctor arrived a bit after 3pm to collect Little Jo.  We chatted for a while. I told them I had two weeks off at Christmas and they asked if we would be coming to visit them. What I wanted to say no, we weren't welcome in October, what has changed? Mother and ABI Brother will stay at Sister's for a week from the 28th. I used that as an excuse and then said we planned to stay at Marysville for a couple of nights while I am on holidays. R's eyebrows lifted, as this was news to him.

Today Sunday, as I am writing, we went to a Christmas dinner at our friend's house, with his partner and his brother and sister in law. Great food and good fun and lots of laughs, but tired again tonight. We find social outings so exhausting now.

Now, the music. When we were in Bourke Street Mall on that Saturday, I heard a busking band playing something. Fellahs, if you were the Saturday morning players in the Mall, I wasn't able to come up to listen to you or donate, but you were great. I really liked what I was hearing and wondered what it was. I Shazamed it with my phone and the results were inconclusive and I was already lagging behind R and Little Jo, with them having turned the next corner. I was not sure if the result was correct as a damned tram got in between my phone and the band.

Once home, I tried da, da, da da da into my phone in the privacy of my ensuite, but Shazam would not recognise it as being tuneful. No surprise there. Score one against Little Jo, she did not know about Shazam. Just as we were about to go for lunch I downloaded a free piano playing app to my phone. Little Jo did not have internet experience at all until she was about 7, but at 9 1/2, she is a digital native. She took the phone from me and very quickly saved her recordings of Three Blind Mice and two other easy pieces. Once home, I tapped away at the piano keyboard on my phone and eventually came up with enough correct, nearly all flats and sharps for the riff notes for Shazam to give the name of the track. I could give you the original, but I don't mind this one played on a harp but there is another harp version and I can't decide between harps, so I give you both. The Bourke Street Mall band played it terrifically.

You think we are very busy socially... Sister and Bone Doctor went to BD's sister's wedding and then for lunch, stayed overnight in a hotel, went to party in Spotswood the next day, picked up Little Jo, went to a Rainbow Family Christmas party late afternoon and then to a dyke 50th birthday party, back to the host of Rainbow family to stay the night and then home in the morning.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

I am appalled

Social events have left me exhausted and I didn't think I would post anything for Sunday and I didn't on Saturday. But outrage can be such a motivating emotion. Thanks to Twitter Metro Man, and Dame ODyne for the retweet, and Channel 7 tv news.

Indeed, when your superiors up to the CEO work at weekends, then perhaps it is appropriate for big business to talk to workers about reducing penalty rates. My own job would not be worth doing if it was not for penalty rates.

The evil State of Victoria's dictator in the 1990s, Premier Jeff Kennett, had plans for trains. Instead, belatedly, five of the train lines have been extended, service intervals have been reduced, trams run later in the evening and earlier on Sundays, we have weekend all night trains, trams and buses and the construction of public transport reformation is underway, by the construction of the Metro Rail underground.

Like almost? all western countries, Australia's poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer. That someone can spend AU$326,000, US$238,000, €228,000, £191,000 on an almost empty small timber box on the beach is beyond belief. Such wealth should be taxed back to sensibility before the working class rise and call for their heads. The problem is that working class aren't too badly off here. Our working poor are not terribly poor and our taxes look after most of who are in need, with some gaps. I am still outraged about the inequitable wealth in Australia.

I am in the mood for going on, but I am so tired, I would get really silly. I wanted to mention the grass on top of Parliament House, but so tired. Good night.