Friday, October 13, 2017

Lancaster Gate Station

When we were last in London our nearest station was Lancaster Gate on the Central Line. It's a nice area with expensive and well kept houses. Marie describes the area here.

The station was closed for a few months this year while the lifts were replaced. The lifts were massive, holding somewhere around 70 people each, I seem to recall. The station does not have escalators so what about using the stairs? This photo by Stuart Axe demonstrates why the station had to be closed.

Peelin' the spuds

I simply must have one of these. R won't last forever and if I have to cook for myself and peel a potato, I will reduce its size to half. I don't think I have peeled a potato for about three decades. The presenter is rather amusing. Can the machine peel a pineapple, or my grape?

Thursday, October 12, 2017

A step backwards in Kiwiland and a rant

New Zealand's capital city, Wellington, has electric trolley buses. This photo is from Wikipedia. By User:Vardion - Own work, GFDL, I think I've messed that up.

The quite new trolley buses with overhead electric wires renewed a couple of years ago and being replaced by buses this October 31st. While other cities are racing to put in electrically powered public transport cities, it seems Wellington is taking a reverse step.

Some very passionate public transport folk are not happy, and gee, I wish I could rant like this. For context, Wellington has a conservative/tory/republican city council. Stasi was the secret service police in East Germany.

Funny word isn’t it - “conservative”. It implies a desire to give some stewardship over or protection for things that are worthy of it. Instead it’s a cover for massive pillage and environmental degradation, corporate kleptocracy transferring wealth to the top of the pyramid, obsequious toadyism to imperial power, and using hate, fear, lies, xenophobia, bigotry, chauvinistic jingoism and superstitious ignorance to divide and confound those with common interests against sociopathic power junkies, oligarchs and plutocrats.
That and the enormous surveillance police state they have contrived to keep an eye on the troublemakers who refuse to OBEY.
As I have said, how those old Stasi agents must be laughing into their schnapps.

Tarneit and Toorak by public transport

It's been ages since I have been on a train. Last week I had a day to myself and R was elsewhere. What should I do? I will visit the newish Tarneit Railway Station. Its service is provided by VLine, our country and regional service operator. So, it will be a nice VLocity train. Diesel electric, I think. I also think that means the motors power electric generators to move the train. They are really comfortable trains, made here in Victoria. As a rare user, the only criticism could be that there is some decent motor noise intrusion. But I quite like hearing the roar of the motors.

Tarneit is a newish and fastly growing suburb to the west of Melbourne city. The station has won awards and I must say, it is a good station, but situated far from shops on the barren windswept western plains. When I say it is a good station, it is very functional, but attractive? Not in my opinion. As well, it is surrounded by formal carparks and informal carparks. There were hundreds of parked cars, along with what looked to be a well set up bus interchange.

A wide leg spreader sat next to me on the return journey, with his leg touching mine. He was a rather attractive young Sikh gentleman, so I just left my leg touching his for at least half the 20 minute journey before my back told me to move position.

I had not finished with public transport nerdiness yet. From town I caught the 605 bus. It used to travel from the city along the river and then south to Gardenvale. When the route 8 tram was rerouted and became route 58, the route of the 605 was altered to give a direct service to the Botanic Gardens and for posh private boys' and girls' schools. The 605 runs through our most expensive suburb, Toorak, and it was interesting to see that some businessmen and ladies who lunch use the service. I left the bus in Toorak Village and caught the tram home.

Branson's Virgin has gyms? I must visit a gym one day, just for a look.

The former administration building of Victorian Railways, now a hotel and smart apartments.

North Melbourne Station, a very busy interchange. Err, yes, well, no one to be seen on the platforms. That means it is efficient and people don't wait very long.

The train stopped on the North Melbourne flyover, where it goes over the top of suburban train lines. The two rusty inner rails are something to do with preventing a tragedy on a bridge if the train derails. One day I will look up how that works. At the bottom of the photo are two rails, side by side. That is because with infinite wisdom, different states of Australia before we became a whole nation used different railway gauges. New South Wales went for standard gauge, Victoria broad gauge and South Australia, a mix of both. It wasn't until the 1960s that you did not have to change trains or the trains change undercarriages if you travelled from Melbourne to Sydney. It has been sorted out in a piecemeal fashion over the years, but Sydney's suburban system still uses standard gauge and Adelaide and Melbourne, broad gauge.

Flat, windy and inhospitable at Tarneit Station.

Melbourne's big wheel from the train on the way home. It gives great views of railway shunting yards and some port container handling facilties but not much else.

From the 605 bus; trams used to run along Domain Road, but no more and it is unlikely they ever will again. A rather odd temporary traffic island has been installed, to what purpose, I have no idea. If the traffic was any calmer there, it would be stationary.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

You judge

Dressing and styling yourself to your age is important. You may disagree but I think I do it appropriately. R certainly does so. He has a terrific head of hair, albeit greying and his hair is cut to a style that takes his thick hair into account. My hair is thin and I am balding, so I keep my hair very short. When I was younger I remember Ex Sis in Law said my hair was never the same twice, and that is quite true, long, short, bleached, ponytail, curly, slicked back, skin head shaved, mohawk and rats tails.

One could forgive The Trumpet for many things, but honestly, his hair? Donny, mate, get your hair right. I am thinking number three buzz cut with a ginger dye, or the same cut with the natural grey.

From Facebook, with perhaps an annotation by Lord Sedgwick of Strathmore.

Tram Tracker failure

Eight different tram routes pass by our front door. The  stop number is stop 22. There are more than one stop 22 on the tram system, so for real time tram information, a different number is required, in our case it is 2022, however since route 8 was diverted and became route 58, route 58 using the Tram Tracker phone app will not show when you select what trams are arriving at the stop with selecting other tram routes. My email to Yarra Trams and PTV went unanswered when I queried why. The Tram Tracker app has just been updated and so I thought I would check again. Seven different trams showed when I chose route 5 and not all can be seen without scrolling, but still no route 58.There is the stop id down the bottom, 2022.

I selected route 58 and that shows the next few trams for that route. Why can't it be included with the above? Then I noticed that for route 58, it has a different stop id, 3022. That is same stop with two stop ids. What nonsense, but it does explain why route 58 won't show in the above list.

Let me just google stop 22 and see what stop id number it comes up with. Good, a result at Public Transport Victoria. Jesus bloody Christ. Not 2022 and not 3022 but stop id 19676. I give up. Where's my old calculus school book? That was far easier to understand.

A week off

I have this week off, a week of accrued RDOs. Australians probably know what that means but for you foreign types, it is Rostered Days Off, accrued leave because we officially work a 38 hour week, when we actually work a 40 hour week. The two extra hours we work accumulate to leave.

What to do with a week off work?

Saturday was Fire Fighting Nephew's bucks night. It began with some archery and hoppo bumpo in inflated plastic trunk surrounds at Melbourne University's hockey park. Nephew's father, Tradie Brother asked if he could stay here for the night. Of course Brother. I drew a little tram map for him, but he was running late and parked nearby The Highrise and caught the tram straight to the venue. I will call you by 10pm to let you know if I am actually staying, he said on the phone. No call by 10pm. We were about to go to bed at 11pm when he metaphorically turned up on the doorstep. Not unusually, he was quite drunk. We stayed up until 2am and there was much more alcohol involved and at some point I took a photo of him with a suit bag on his head. He left at 9am on Sunday.

There is not much more to say than we felt like shit very plain the next day. But, department store Myer has a sale. Half price towels. 20% to 30% off men's wear. My god it was an effort but we did it. New towels, and today, Monday,  I lugged the old ones on the tram and then train to the Gracie Street Lost Dogs Home in North Melbourne. While in a phone queue to check if they wanted the towels, it was interesting to learn that it runs the national database for lost microchipped pets. They were grateful for the towels.

The Sunday after the Saturday night we also each bought new pants for Nephew's wedding, and I bought a shirt. I was thinking of spending about $100 on the pants and the shirt. Instead they cost about $180, heavily discounted and what I bought are high quality and stylish. I tried some cheaper pants but as soon as I put on the more expensive ones, I knew they were right. I also bought a new pair of black jeans, also discounted by 30%, slim fit jeans, Levi's 511 instead of my usual 504s. While I can't say I look hot, they look quite good on, as R told me too. They feel good to wear.

Tuesday R has a medical appointment in Malvern and I want to take a photo of something in St Kilda. He will catch a tram to doctor and then a tram a tram to St Kilda, where we will meet up for brunch, or perhaps even lunch.

Nothing planned for Wednesday, except I would like to go inside a kaleidoscope, House of Mirrors.

Thursday will be Mother Day for R and this week for me too.

Next Sunday is my significant year birthday bash. It was going to be two separate events, one for family and one for friends, but we don't have many friends and half of them are away, so it is a combined family and friends lunch at a pub. It is only a last minute decision but I have decided that I will pay for the meals. 20 x $25 = $500. No more than $600. $700 if you include my birthday cake.  Bugger 'em. They can pay for their own drinks.

Back to the buck's night. From the daytime event the menage went on to a pub in Northcote. Tradie Brother, in very daggy dress and carrying a bottle of port in a plastic bag was admitted to the venue. Hipster looking Nephew was not, so a change of venue. Later the male group met up with Nephew's betrothed girls' hen night in town to go out clubbing. The nieces' were there, as was Ex Sis in Law and the betrothed's mother. We weren't the only ones feeling very plain on the Sunday. 

Long post, perhaps a photo will improve it, perhaps. R gave Tradie Brother his old suit. Apparently, nay yes, at 1.30am it was quite funny for Tradie Brother to put a suit bag over his head. While I took the photo, I have no really memory of doing so.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Wedgies and Drones

The Australian Wedge Tailed Eagle is a predatory bird. It doesn't mind a bit of easy fresh road kill, but its style is to hunt from the air; to swoop down on its normally small prey and carry it away to a convenient place to devour. There are unproven tales of them taking away small white dogs. Farmers hated them as the would kill young lambs. There was a bounty for a dead Wedgie and they were hunted down to very low numbers. Yet, they are such an important part of the Australian environment, as they are the top of the tree as predators and nothing threatens them.

I am sure our rabbit plagues of the 1900s would not have been nearly as bad had Wedgies not been so hunted. They are a handsome bird. We once had a large drop trap cage on our farm. We once caught a wallaby, a small creature like a kangaroo, and another time, a Wedgie. I think the light weight cage was destroyed when it trapped a very angry wombat.

Apparently Wedge Tailed eagles are very territorial birds, and seem to have trouble distinguishing between a real bird and a drone. They really do not like drones. This clip is a bit slowed. Eagle 1, drone 0.

A wedgie could not possibly take off a grown kangaroo, but it is interesting to see that there are three of them, and maybe numbers could win.

I just read a mining company here in Australia has lost nine survey drones to bird attacks, at a cost of  AU$100,000. Tourist alert, just another thing to fear about Australia. Eagles can't pick up a grown human in their claws, but what about your baby? Government safety warnings state that you should always strap your child into its pram or pusher and tether the pusher to a stout anchor point if the carriage is not within your hand control.

Keeping with the predatory bird theme, the fastest creature on Earth is the Peregrine Falcon. It can reach speeds of 300 km/h.   Each year a pair nests on top of a building in the city. A webcam has been set up. Check it out here. Unfortunately, and I am adding to the problem by promoting the webcam, it does a lot of buffering.

Monday, October 09, 2017

A little sadness

I think I began my blog in 2004, or maybe 2005. There have been some disappointments along the way, mostly as bloggers stopped blogging. A couple of people had issues with what I wrote I suppose and ditched me. I get that.

A few people whose blogs I really liked and I tried with did not respond to my most brilliant wise, witty and illuminating comments and did not become readers of my blog. C'est la vie.

Something bad has happened between myself and a blogger who I so respected. It boils down to cultural differences.

I am gay, oldish, anti extreme religion, anti absurd population growth, anti right wing politics but, as anyone who I have met will attest, I am not a bad person. I don't wear my opinions on my sleeve in person. One of our best friends is a paid up member of our conservative party and was a conservative politician.

What I will say is that I feel so troubled by the disagreement, that I will not revisit the matter at all. Not the blogger or the post elsewhere where it could be considered she was criticised.

The perfectly nice Gosia in Poland had her own issues with a nasty person. We, and I know English and Americans, love to complain about the weather. It is almost our reason for being. Yet when Gosia complained about rainy days in Poland, look what an Anon, always an Anon, wrote, Don't be so selfish. Think of People living in war zones!

Own worst enemy

Not a problem we have as we live nearly half an hour away from the airport, but clearly it is a big problem for some who live close by. Taxi drivers may have been waiting in the holding area for an hour before being allowed to approach the pick up point, and then they only get a short fare. I'm afraid they must just view it as the luck of the draw. They have no right to refuse a fare without good cause, such as a person being dirty, drunk etc.

From The Age:

Dozens of taxi drivers have been fined in a police sting for refusing to take short fares from Melbourne Airport.
Plain-clothes Fawkner Highway Patrol officers posing as passengers issued the $396 fines on Friday after receiving dozens of complaints.
I don't catch cabs very often, but here is my theory. I did put this into practice once. Some people are rather timid about catching a cab and ask the driver if he or she can take them to such and such place. That is not the way to do it. I walk up to the taxi, open the rear left door, get in, greet the driver and tell them where I want to go. At times they will have the doors locked as happened to me once. I tried the door handle and it was locked and the cab driver did not seem to want to open the door, I guess wanting to filter so that he received a good fare, so I went to the cab behind and got in that one. What I should have done is taken a photo of the taxi number and the registration plate, but this was in the days before cameras in phones were widespread.

If you  are in a taxi and the driver refuses to take you, photograph his or her ID and once out of the car, the car registration and the taxi number, and note the exact time and I think the reporting process is quite simple. One report from one member of the public is not going to have a great effect, but if reports mount up about a particular driver, then there will be trouble for him or her.

Fine in theory, but if the highway patrol in plain clothes can't get taken to where they want to go, what hope for anyone.

One Minute Cringeworthy Musical Monday

River may have a Musical Monday this week. Thanks to Ian for reminding me of this commercial. Did I really want to be reminded? Unfortunately it became a flea in my ear for the rest of the day. Lol at the bloke riding the horse. He should give up meat pies. (Bitch slap to anyone who points out that I am not so slim)

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Gruncle Patsy Federer and a 'roo.

A few FB amusements, beginning with Joanna Lumley. Hear, hear.

Little Jo might suggest my slogan should be Gruncle, grumpy gay uncle. Someone in the Highrise over indulges her and I am just the balancer.

Ah, I am in good company with my birthday in October. I wonder if it is the same day? Turns out his birthday is in August. Why is he wearing the t shirt? It is Roger Federer isn't it?

NTD Television publish some very cute animal videos. Overseas readers, or even local ones, might not know who would win a battle between a full sized kangaroo and a dog. If they are near water, the kangaroo will get the dog into the water and drown it. The claws of a kangaroo can rip open the stomach of dog with one scratch. Fortunately, this pair are being very friendly.