Saturday, March 11, 2017

Trip planning

Work has a new computer programme for holidays. I now have to work out 2018 holidays by the end of March 2017. Given holidays were a right on the anniversary of your starting date, it will be a fairer system. If I requested Christmas holidays last year, which I had and was given them, I am unlikely to get them this year, but probably will next year. If you began your employment on the 15th of December, you were guaranteed Christmas Holidays as a right. This new system changes that. The only problem with the new system is that it's a very long way to plan ahead.

Holidays for this year are sorted. We have two nights in Dubai on the way, a few days in Lisbon, a few days in Porto, a few days in Barcelona where we will meet with R's sister and bro-in-law, and then along with them begin the 11 day cruise concluding in Rome.

We will fly to Barcelona from Porto, a short distance. After a few failed attempts and struggling with Portuguese, I have finally managed to book the ALFA Pendular train first class from Lisbon to Porto. We have our seats reserved and the advance purchase price was €51 for both of us. The best our travel agent could do was €108 and that was not with reserved seats. (AU$74 as against AU$150) ALFA Pendula is a tilt train, so it can go fast. I love speed. Faster Dad. Faster Pop.

We have booked and paid for flights, our accommodation in all places plus a tour in Dubai. The only thing to worry about now is whether to buy the drinks package for the cruise. The cost is AU$74 per day per person, which gives unlimited drinks up to $10 per drink, unlimited soft drink and unlimited flavoured coffees (yuk). We don't really drink soft drink. It is a hard call as to whether we would get our money's worth each day (you, that girl down the back. Can you stand and repeat what you just mumbled?)

During our last overseas holiday, we were slugged quite a bit by bank fees, so this time we are going to try a prepaid travel card. The rate is set when you buy the card and a load your currency(ies) onto the card, and there are no bank or transaction fees at all, aside from the initial $10 fee. On special at our bank is free top ups should you underestimate how much money you need. Normally it costs about 1.5% of the top up amount. You receive a back up card in case you lose the main one. The only question yet to ask is what happens to unused currency on the card. The banks push this card to travellers. What is in it for them aside from currency rate gambling?

Next year, I want to see a bit of Western Victoria and maybe go to Surfers again, or Sydney. That is two lots of two weeks. I am a bit short of leave, aside from long service leave.

The seldom content with local holidays R, replied with maybe we could find a cheap deal to Hong Kong for one of your two weeks off. Argh. But don't be surprised if that is what we do.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Wolves and dingoes

As a kiddie, many was the night on the farm when I could hear dingoes howling. Over a period, they even killed a couple of our dogs who went wandering with lust. Apparently our dingoes and domestic dogs are not the same species, yet they will mate together. The result is called wild dogs, neither dingo nor domestic dog and the worst possible breeding result, lost and savage souls.

Wolves are surely an entirely different species altogether, yet when I thought I would post a You Tube video of a dingo howling in reaction to the wolf howling, the howl sounded exactly the same. The head is raised skywards and the howl sounded the same.

So there is no point in posting a dingo howling YT video as it is the same as an American wolf.

I have always theorised that our dingo is connected to the Japanese dog breed, Shiba Inu, which Step Mother used to breed. Although smaller, Shibas are so like dingoes.

Wolves are not as bad as Goldilocks made out

Sandra put this remarkable video up  a week or so ago. It leads me to think how much better Australia's environment would be if we could get rid of pest species, such as wild pigs, wild horses, deer, buffalo..........the list is endless, and let our native species flourish. Four and a half minutes of your life will not be wasted by watching this.

Thursday, March 09, 2017


Our road trip in the campervan last year, it is something R wants to forget. Gone is the conversation that we used to have about becoming grey nomads, although it was always a rather one sided conversation. I was never keen.

I didn't mind campervanning. Our hired campervan was relatively cheap, for good reasons. A lesson in you get what you pay for, I guess. Don't I do a lot of guessing.

I guess these two guys are gay and partners. They have never said so, and no real need to know. They are known as the While we went campervanning, they go Recreational Vehicleing...., ok, that doesn't work well.....RV'ing. Still ugly.

I have watched many of their videos, post our RV'ing. I like the guys and they have heaps of useful information in their videos, as well as a good bit about when they visited Australia.

I have a vague memory (I have lots of vague memories) of a song that was either titled Down in the Boondocks, or had a line in the song like that. Australians of my vintage probably have a good idea of what the boondocks are. An undesirable place? Out of the way? A place where there is nothing? Correct me if I am wrong, as always. Maybe similar to our outback?

But if you are talking about boondocking in an RV, it would best understood by us as being off the grid. No power, no water, no sewerage, no facilities.

We only boondocked once while we RV'd, in the driveway of a friend's house. That really does not describe boondocking, especially as we stole our friend's water to fill up our tanks.

But isn't boondocking just such a great word? As for the practice of boondocking I  assume you still have heating and cooling....and lights, a phone signal, and wifi. No? We need batteries.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Wednesday Wonders

I can't remember now, but when we cruised the Danube/Main/Rhine, we went over a a river like this. 

He must pay his town tax so the town can pay his wages.

One for Elephant's Child. Anyone, where is Cappadocia? Don't look it up, only if you know. I don't.

A Womb with a View

It is International Women's Day. I rather like women, just not in a lustful way. Salts of the earth are all the women I know, in both real life and on the net. They are wise and clever and have done stuff and do stuff, and know all all about humankind, but best of all, they are funny. They are witty and amusing. J'adore.

One would like to think that in Australia, overt sexism, racism and homophobia are problems from the past but it is not so.

The former New South Wales Premier announced his retirement. It was for family reasons. We all know what that means. I expect Trump in the US will have many of his appointments retire because of family reasons.  Maybe Trumpet himself will retire early because of family reasons. Fingers crossed.

Without argument a woman, Our Glad, was chosen by the party to be the Premier of the State of New South Wales. Even though she is a Tory of the conservative Liberal Party in Australia, I don't mind her.

I enjoyed reading this, especially about the historical wandering womb that travelled around the female body. You can read the full article, Womb with a View, by Annabel Crabb here. This is a snip.

The new News South Wales Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, was questioned during her first press conference as to whether she thought her childlessness was a professional handicap.

Happy International Women's Day, chickee babes.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

We were sold

Hurrah, we were debt free after selling our Glen Iris house, now worth about 1.75 milllion (a lot has been spent on it, including a second storey addition) and moving to our next home, the original renovated house in Burwood with a separately titled unit at the back where Peter and Myra lived, a subdivision.

I was looking on the net at sold property histories and somehow our old Burwood home popped up and it was for auction on the very day I was looking. We bought it for about $119,000 and sold it a bit over a year later for $127,000. Tradie Brother removed the fireplace and plastered over it and built a front timber decking and a front fence. The pink kitchen did not look as bad as it does now. We replaced the carpet and it has been replaced again. In the middle of the decking was a flowering crab apple, a beautiful tree, removed and replaced with a lemon tree? The air con in the wall we put in. Pity there are not more photos. After being in a 1940s house, it was modern and clean living. We still had our two dogs and two cats then and the two cats died of old age. We found our darling missing Thomas under a bush and ready to die. The less darling Tuffy could no longer eat. We took advice from the vet on both counts.

I don't suppose this link will last, but look at the price our short time home is for sale now after being passed in at auction, $695,000.

After a year being debt free spendthrifts, going to Sydney for a summer holiday, then Mardi Gras, then Sleaze Ball in the same year, we decided we needed a mortgage to make us financially disciplined, and moved, as neighbour said, to be among our own kind, to Balaclava. The accented Italian removalist said 'why you move from a nice place to a dump?' Our Balaclava house was a dump, but not by the time we sold it.

A brief mystery

I wondered what these frames laid out of the roof of the building next door were to be used for.

Ah, they have been hung over the side of the building.

These box things were slid into the frames and some electrical wires were run. This last one was a tight fit so some high tech equipment was needed. A block of wood was placed on top of the stubborn last letter and it was then given a good whacking with a hammer until it was driven into submission.

While we have not seen it illuminated, this is the new signage.

That was a post saved for a rainy day, but then more happened. All the letters were pulled out and I guess electricians got to work.

It is rather ridiculous to have these repetitive labels. 

And the Lord said there will be light, and there was. The sign now lights up at night but at some point go off during the night. They are not on at 4am but are by 5:30am until dawn. I wonder if there is an issue that the lighting shines into the highrise building, a road and a building along.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Dining, drugs, DFO and a decent derriere

R wanted some expensive clothing for a cheap price, so we visited the Direct Factory Outlet at South Wharf. DFO where chain shops sell off stock at a discounted price, often very discounted.

We left home and R picked this packet up off the footpath. What is it? A tiny packet of flour for making tiny cakes? I have seen on tv what they do with this white powder. They always wet their finger and taste it. It was revolting, so it is clear that it is not for oral consumption, most likely nasal ingestion. I am slightly tempted to tip it out onto the toilet seat lid and move it all around with the edge of a credit card after taking the ink cartridge out of biro pen you do what? I must have fallen asleep at the tv then, as I am unsure what to do next. Advice is sought.

We trammed down Flinders Street to the Ad Radville area, which is quite weird because it is a few years since we have been to the DFO at Southwharf and after meeting Ad Rad yesterday, here we were right near his place. It was good to see Victor again yesterday and to meet Ad Rad, who was amusing and good fun and kind of like I thought he would be. That is a good thing.

We had a very nice brunch at the Boatbuilders Yard with the weather quite humid but a nice cooling breeze coming up the river.

R bought a shower proof jacket at a cheap price for our travels this year. It folds up into its own pocket. In a moment of consumer madness, I bought a water bottle for 40% off, so it was only $17. I am sick of leaking water bottles that wet my backpack at work. This is a good one. Both are labelled Kathmandu. We are not normally label queens, but...Hi cousin Jan. My name is Andrew, should you be writing your will.

Now, to get serious, while I can never be apolitical, I can be unpolitical and who did we run into in DFO? Her and him.

Faghag may sound like an offensive term, but it is not in the eyes of gay men. The term refers to older straight women who enjoy the company of gay men. Younger women may use the term, my gay boyfriend. Or maybe it is me who says that when I see younger women with obviously gay men.

There is no mistaking her red hair, which is the first thing that grabs you. No security evident, aside from her bored looking younger gay companion. Is Pauline a faghag? R is somewhat better at celebrity spotting than I am. He nudged me, and sure enough, there was Senator Pauline Hanson entering a shop at DFO. Her younger gay companion was her political staffer, James Ashby. If you don't know what a political staffer is, think of him as a Boy Friday. He sorts things for Pauline.

If you don't know who is Senator Pauline Hanson is, she is the leader of a political party in Australia known as One Nation. Think of her as a milder form of Trumpet in the US, Marine Le Pen in France, or former Ukip leader Nigel Farage in the UK.

She was wearing a very full skirt and looked quite ok. Her skirt was so big that I thought, gee Pauline, you've got a big bum. Maybe she does. I think she does. R saw her face on, I only saw her side and rear on but it was certainly her.

On Sunday night's evening news there was a sound bite from her. While it was only a chest up film shot, she had the same top clothing on. Then, via today's Twitter tweets, I learnt that she had been on ABC TV's Insider programme in the morning, made in Melbourne.

While some extreme Moslems would probably like to kill her for her anti Moslem stance in Australian politics, that she can go around shopping without any obvious security aside from her gay boyfriend makes me quite proud of Australia. 

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Poof Christmas

The weekend is Mardi Gras in Sydney, with an estimated viewing crowd of around 300,000. When we attended the parade in the mid to late 1990s, it was well over 400,000, the biggest year for crowd attendances, as far as I know. When we met Victor from Sydney yesterday who does not live too far from the parade route, he mentioned what he now enjoys is seeing the parade/subsequent party attendees the next morning. Yes, they will be wasted by drugs and alcohol, some still in party mode, but many fading badly. Their tans, muscles or slimness, and hair all hold up though. Just maybe not their makeup.

Should you wish to brunch the day after Mardi Gras in Sydney's inner eastern to south eastern/western cafes, there is a very good chance you will get excellent service from your waiter still affected by speed, or really bad service by someone who is coming down from their big night out and whatever they have indulged in.

There is a classic photo taken many years ago of the morning after Mardi Gras party attendees sitting in the gutter of I think Little Oxford Street with perhaps a drink in hand. The details are foggy for me, but we did that a few years after the classic photo was taken, when we attended Mardi Gras.

Oh look, how cute of Google Maps to have made the parade route rainbow coloured. Be afraid. Google is very ingratiating.

Saturday, we brunched with two gay men, neither of who were at Mardi Gras later that evening, and one was from Sydney. In the evening we dined with two gay men, neither of whom were at Mardi Gras. Our Dyke Friend is travelling and we are looking after Dog Jack for the last time before she moves to Tasmania. She is not at Mardi Gras. As far as I know, no gay workmate has gone to Mardi Gras this year. Maybe our gay Friend in Japan viewed the parade from her Sydney hotel room. That she is on a work trip could get a room with a view of the parade tells you something.

Mardi Gras is probably still a lot of fun for the young gay kiddies who are out there, those who love to dress up and parade. Still a good spectacle, still good for those who like to perform in public and those hard core dance party animals, gay, straight and anything in between. Sydney seems to breed and attract very fluid people.

But you know what most gay people were doing in Australia on the night of Sydney's Poof Christmas? Probably doing what I am doing as I write this, at home watching an earlier recording from tv of Call the Midwife, or something similar.......maybe knitting or maybe pondering how they can clean up their garbage tip of a home.

Gay stereotypes can be useful, but so few of us fit.  Men who have sex with men cannot be categorised and have only two things in common, being male and liking men in that very special and exciting way. (Well, it was once very exciting)

Happy Mardi Gras.