Saturday, February 10, 2018

Free ad for BOM

Phone apps for weather, I have experienced many and never liked any terribly much. Some did some things well but other things not so well. Vice versa with others.

Why doesn't the Australian Bureau of Meteorology have an app? BOM didn't but it has now and it is brilliant, surpassing all other weather apps I have come across. If you are Australian or have an unhealthy interest in Australian weather, download it now to your smartphone. You won't be sorry.

Friday, February 09, 2018

I scarcely believe it myself

To my shame I could not immediately remember her name, that blogger in the US who died.......last year......year before? Then it came to me, Jacqueline. I still feel sad. Ah well, what to do. Miss her but move on.

Right, time to get stuck into Yahoo Mail, which is most deleting things unread at five different Yahoo accounts, all easy to do on the phone without having to log in and log out. Mucho  deletion. Finger slipped and the email list went back in date to 2016. Wow, that is funny. Here I was earlier thinking about Jacqueline and blow me down, here is an old email from her in 2016. It was very private and personal and detailed the circumstances of her leaving Idaho for Florida. I reread the long email.

How long is it actually since she died? I entered Jacqueline into my blog search box. The first post that came up was when she suffered the stroke, the second, when she died. So what was the date? Ah, 9th of February, 2017. I looked up and the wall clock but as the date on the clock is American format, it did not really register, that is 2/9. Translated, 9/2.

I was then distracted by a phone. Now, where was I? Ah yes, the dates. As realisation dawned on me, my flesh crawled and contracted and I could feel my head being squeezed by my skin.

Why of all days would I think of Jacqueline on the first anniversary of her death, especially to the point of looking it up?

I don't believe in spooks or the supernatural or anything like that, so all I can say is that it is a extraordinary coincidence. I expect I will spend the afternoon trying to rationalise this and I certainly wouldn't blame anyone for being doubtful about what happened. I would be myself.

Jac, you are not really there sending me signals, are you? Am I too cynical?

Meanwhile in Switzerland

A very nasty result when a truck crashed into a tram in Basel, Switzerland. But trams are still an extremely safe way to travel.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Wrong way, again

There is no doubt about it. It is is a character fault of mine and while I know my fault in this area, I continue to fail, as I did this Sunday past.

A hotel venue was the place for Little Em's second birthday. There must have been 50 people there for her birthday, but we knew about 15 of them, nearly all family. The other guests, child creche friends and parents, I suppose.

Of course it was great to mix with family, but the venue wasn't great. It was so noisy and so busy. The hotel had recently had a $6 million renovation and has the most amazing children's play area, but young children = noise and chaos.

That morning, before we left, I did a quick check of the electric map. Ah, I know where that is. Time and time again I have done this, thinking I am in a familiar area and not bothering to check properly. Well, it wasn't where I thought it was and I turned right from Eastlink into a major road where I should have turned left. My thorough incompetence resulted in perhaps a delay of 15 minutes to our arrival. Fortunately we left home early and so were still on time. Why do I only ever check properly when I am totally unfamiliar with an area?

We had some fun with birthday girl Little Em, along with her older sister Little M. Little M is nearly four and becoming challenging but so much fun. While the twin's mother, Hippie Niece, had been given a weekend off to attend a music festival (what are The Waifs?), Ex Sis in Law, their grandma, brought them along and it took some time for them to settle to the noisy environment and all these strange people, but they did and started smiling and laughing. They are about ten months old and so heavy. They are going to be solid Islander girls, and I reckon thoroughly gorgeous.

For those with local knowledge, we were very near the late Dame Elizabeth's (Rupert Murdoch's mother) Cruden Farm. Going the wrong way did give me the opportunity to get R to take this snap of some roadside art.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Download This Show

The always interesting ABC programme, which I listen to as a podcast, Download This Show, is about technology. I love technology. I loved learning that erratic drivers will be able to totally screw up driverless cars. I know you can make them brake. Can you make them swerve or stop entirely when you brake in front of them.

DTS also confirmed to me what I expected. If you visit a holiday booking site and don't book, when you return the next day, it will have a higher price.  I thought that came from your IP address, but apparently it is by cookies planted on your computer. It is not so hard to beat cookies. You can delete cookies or use a different web browser.

DTS then discussed Grindr, a gay hook up app with 3.3 million users. I would have hoped that gay dating ads as were seen in gay newspapers and magazines that said 'no Asians' was a thing of the past, but apparently not. However Grindr has been addressing the matter. I didn't really hear how, but it it is simple enough to state your preference in a non negative manner. Usually, so I am told, you have the opportunity to check box racial types you like when you fill in your profile. At my age, all I would say is, male. Not really true. I would rather go without, and I do because actual sex with men is part of my history, not terribly relevant to my current life, although one does experience twinges at times. But normally it is a matter of I just can't be bothered. I see this one real benefit of being older. As one quite old female workmate very many years ago said, at my age I'd rather have a beer and a cigarette.

Grindr has been mega successful and made a heap of money for its inventors, from both advertising and a premium paid subscriptions which gives your more and enhanced features.

Yeah, I knew all this already. But what I did not know was that a Chinese company had bought a controlling interest in Grindr quite some time ago.

Grindr controlled by China? I am alert and alarmed. Couldn't the Chinese government tell one of their hundreds of thousands of internet censors to get records of a certain person's Grindr history?

One of the guests, who sounded gay himself, ever so naively assured the host it wouldn't be a problem. How naive was he? Well, he said that if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to worry about. Well, tell that to Rohingya Moslems in Burma. Tell that to Australian gay men who born before 1970. Tell that to Jews of mid 20th century Europe. Nothing to hide? Only what you are and cannot change.

Yes, Mat Beeche, I am not impressed. And you Marc Fennell should have really challenged him more on the point.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

The UP Express

My golly gosh. Isn't it so good to have fast  train when you go to or arrive at an airport to get to the middle of town. Some of Australia's cities have them, but not the second biggest city in Australia, that is Melbourne. For some reason governments have decided it is not their responsibility. What was a 20 minute bus trip to airport at an usurious cost of the airport bus of around $17 one way. The 20 minute trip time has blown out to up to 50 minutes because of traffic congestion on the freeway and at the airport. The cost of the train is similar in Sydney, but the trip there is by train and by my experience, it is fast and reliable. Marcus Wong tells you about his experience of Melbourne's airport bus here.

In Toronto, Canada's largest city,  a newly built a limited express train from the airport to the main city Union Station had just opened when we visited a couple of years ago. You can read of our arrival to Toronto and using the train here, but here is a snip from what I wrote then.

A new limited express train to the main railway station had only begun service last month. I looked around in vain for someone or a machine to buy a public transport card, called Presto and I could not find anything. Although we knew we would pay a premium price for buying a normal ticket, we did so from a machine. My one way fare was CA$27. With the Presto card, it would have been $19. I was a little annoyed but as we discovered later, the system has not been fully rolled out.

I think it was late afternoon when we caught the train. Being new, it was very clean and rather quiet in the number of users. Early days.

It felt uncomfortably warm in the train. At the first stop the train sat for five minutes and it was clear the timetable would not be met. I believe the train was shut down to reset the air conditioning as when we finally moved, lots of lovely cool air flooded in.

The early ridership numbers were dismal. It was very quiet when we travelled on the train, admittedly a very new service. We as good as had a carriage to ourselves.

When it opened in June 2015 its first passenger numbers for the month were around 2,800. It dropped the next month and by January 2016 there was something like 13 people on average per train, on one day at least. Build it and they will come was an absolute failure.

What to do? While it was a public private partnership, the government was covering the high losses. The usual excuses were pumped out, lack of awareness. More advertising. Making sure people realise the benefits. Nothing was mentioned about the extremely high cost of travelling on the Union Station to Pearson Airport Express, that wasn't an express train anyway. At best it could be described as a quickish suburban train.

But then traveller numbers had tripled by June 17. Why so? Essentially the fares were cut in half, and if you had public transport card, Presto, you were only paying $9 from the Pearson Airport to Union Station, and $12 by cash.

Some argue, perhaps with some right, that the train should just be part of the normal Toronto public system and fares charged as appropriate to public transport.

I can't find later ridership figures than mid 2017, but the train line has also become part of some people's daily commute between interim stations. The UP Express has become so busy that commuters using the few intermediate stations need to be corralled to wait for free spaces while airport travellers are given priority.

The line is actually referred to as the up express, not the U P Express. I think there are some very salient lessons to be learnt from Toronto's UP Express experience.

Monday, February 05, 2018

Bye bye Dr Wirth

So sad to hear of the death of the old curmudgeon Dr Hugh Wirth AM. Dr Wirth has died of Parkinson's Disease at the age of 78.

On ABC talkback radio, he could be very forthright and critical, even to the host of the programme when she queried him about a cat problem she was having. He was on air for over two decades as a vet giving on air advice. In 1997 he was Victorian of the Year.

Hugh never married and a partner has never been mentioned, and for a few years he was a judge at Dulcie Du Jour's dog show competition at Melbourne's gay and lesbian Midsumma Carnival. Make of that what you will. I don't really make much of it.

His real achievements have been the improvement of animal welfare, from stopping dog tail docking, to the stopping of export of horses for slaughter in Japan. I personally remember he was against shock collars that were used on dogs to stop 'inappropriate' barking.

He was president of the RSPCA,  Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Victoria) for over forty years and for a time president of the world wide body, World Animal Protection.

Vale Dr Wirth. You did well with your time on earth, by reducing cruelty to animals, by your arguing for the practical welfare for farm animals and least of all, the love of your pets.

Solved but not fixed

Remember the air con tray on the balcony that fills with condensation water, especially when the weather is hot and even more so when it is humid. We did have a few humid days and on the worst day I took out 25 litres (5.5 gallons) of water in three separate sessions with the squeeze bottle, taking about 20-25 minutes.

I had not stopped thinking about what Strayer suggested, a bilge pump. Eventually it came to me, that is the right words to search for something on Ebay. I did not want anything mains powered as each time I would have to run a lead out to the balcony, too much bother. I've just remembered words I was trying to think of, stirrup pump.

So for $16.70, free postage, I ordered this. It was described as being able to pump diesel, aquarium water and oil. It runs on two D (torch) batteries. It only took three days to arrive and as you can see from the box, it is actually made to pump olive oil in Greece, well the writing on the box is mostly Greek. It would be useful to fill olive oil bottles for us at home from the large tins we buy. That can be a messy task.

Well, the weather cooled didn't it, and the tray dried out completely, but we had the air con on yesterday and again today and there was enough water there to pump out. It pumped out about 5 litres in less than one minute. Now I want lots of water to be made so I can play with my new toy while River plays with her Gracula.

Even if it only lasts a year and has to be replaced, who cares at that price when you consider what are saving by not having the tray and element replaced and the very high electricity cost for the element to steam the water away.

The top screws off to insert the batteries. I think we have reached the end of my ever so fascinating posts about the air con drip tray. I thank you for your patience.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Weird working times

The week past has been challenging work wise. I have been working on posts, but for today, just some pretty cloud photos.

But wait, I can improve this post. As a child on the farm on a sunny winter day I would lie on the wind sheltered side of the privet hedge that bordered our farm from the road. I would read. I have have always been a voracious reader. After a bit, I would become drowsy in the warming winter sun and put the book down, and just stare up at the fluffy white clouds in the sky. I loved how they changed their shapes and floated across the sky. I still do and love seeing clouds when flying in a plane.