Saturday, March 31, 2018

We convinced each other

It was supposed to be a year of mini local holidays and it kind of has been and will be, and with no big overseas holiday. Two nights at Cowes, Phillip Island. One night in Sydney to see La Boheme. Two nights in Launceston to see our Dyke Friend, and maybe a couple of days away in October.

Big holiday next year in Britain. That may be our final big holiday. R is getting older and does not have the stamina for a lot of activity. Truth be told, so am I.

Summer in Britain 2019 is a long way away. R mentioned a having a bigger but easy overseas holiday this year, when I have holidays in October. I mentioned Hawaii but there was no enthusiasm there. Hong Kong, R decided, a week in HK. While I would like to see HK, it is so hot and humid. I pointed this out to R and he went cold on the idea.

I blame Victor and Gattina. Victor visited South Africa and some other near countries last year. I should have never shown Victor's gorgeous South African photos to R. The last time we saw Victor, he told us more about his South African adventure. Since then, R has kept mentioning South Africa and seeing the animals. He wore me down.

Gattina in Belgium has used Expat Explore for tours of England and Ireland. Ah, they do a South African tour. After several days of procrastination, we booked, and once booked for the tour, we booked the flights. Melbourne, Singapore, Johannesburg, Cape Town, where we start our tour. We end up in Jo'burg to return home. We will see lots of big critters. The company telephoned to ensure that R is fit enough to participate in the tour. He thinks so. Big bus steps will be the least of his problems. So come October we are off to South Africa.

Friday, March 30, 2018

The dead and the hungry

Our friend of 25 years died at 3pm Thursday. Life goes on. I will post more about him in the future.

I was having a bite to eat in QV in town last Monday. I was sitting at a long bar facing the escalators. A man came and sat next to me and began eating his lunch. The building jerked up and down for a couple of seconds. He looked across to me, to see if I was disturbed by this apparent earth tremor. I wasn't as I had already guessed what it was, though I have never experienced it before. A couple of minutes later it happened again and again he looked across at me. My bacon and egg buttie and phone were preocupying me. I had quickly realised that it was a rumble from underground trains in the City Loop. We certainly experienced the same at the Holiday Inn, in Potts Point, Sydney where we stayed when R's sister married her beau, that is noise and shaking from the Sydney's Eastern Suburbs railway.

As you can see in the photos, seagulls were going crazy around our place tonight. OMG, is an earthquake about to happen? R, I expect correctly, worked out why. It is either about food or sex, and in this case food. There will be chips on offer. I can only guess. A barbeque put on for the workers of Grand Prix that is nearly packed up? I can't believe workers would want to attend a work barbeque on Good Friday Eve. I can't believe that seagulls instantly flock like that. There was something happening that they knew about in advance. I would guess there was something like 100 to 200 hundred of them. As quickly as they arrived and flew around for about half an hour, they were gone. Make of it what you will. While I won't argue with nature, but surely flying around and expending energy in search of an energy intake also seems odd, but that is what seagulls do.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Not great news

As Marie in London said, Andrew's Downton Abbey goes on.

We dined late tonight as we were just back from a flying hospital visit to say goodbye to our long time friend who has been in hospital since before Christmas.

His life support is being turned off and his organs will shut down quite quickly. Death of someone close now involves umpteen phone calls, text messages, emails, Facebook posts.

It is a very sad time for us and all involved, as it is a premature and unexpected although not a sudden death. I will write more about it in the future, and while I am sure you want to offer me some sympathy in comments, please refrain. I don't know how to turn comments off and I won't be posting tomorrow.

I'm for bed now, even though it is not even 9:00pm. I've had enough of today and I will have a little cry, the third for the day, and then sleep well.

And here is the news

Referring to Sunday just past.

A family get together was held at the usual local to us hotel to celebrate Mother's 84th, R's and Little M's 4th. As usual the staff were terrific. Fortunately it was quiet in the hotel, aside from us lot.

Mother, ABI Brother, Tradie Brother, Sister and Bone Doctor and Little Jo, R and myself, Ex Sis in Law and her husband, Firefighting Nephew, Oldest Niece with Little M and Little Em and Hippie Niece with the twin girls.

It was a nice but loud and chaotic lunch and I think everyone felt a little drained.

I can't remember if I mentioned it but Hippie Niece is still struggling with being Mother to the twins and with the relationship with her partner. There had been a build up and it came to a head in some way we do not know and she was back in the Mother and Baby Unit of a large public hospital for about two weeks, obtensily to have her medication adjusted but there was more to it. We visited her not long before she was allowed to leave and she was happy and coping well, but then she was having a lot of help from staff.

She told us that she was leaving her partner and there would be no going back, and that is what happened. After she left hospital she moved in with her mother and step father, but with a condition placed upon her by whoever does such things, that she was not to be left alone with the babies. Meaning either Ex Sis in Law or her husband has to be with the girls at all times. He is my age and she is about 50. It is a lot to put on them.

They have just taken over a small take away business that involves very early starts. The husband and Hippie Niece prepare for the day and open the shop at 6am. Ex Sis in Law does what needs to be done for the girls and drops them at a creche and then goes to the shop and I guess Hippie Niece goes home.

I feel like saying to her, listen hear girl. You have two lovely daughters who are dependant on you. You have lots of caring people around you. Get your act together. Of course it is not my place and as most of you would know, that is not the way to deal with anyone who has mental health issues.

I also say to myself, that this restriction is over the top. She would never hurt a fly. Yet, we have all heard cases where it can all go so wrong. Perhaps the department is covering itself with great caution, and probably it should. She is to undertake a ten week parenting course, probably one day a week. One of her medications is also an appetite stimulant and she has put on a lot of weight. She has restarted her kickboxing exercise and her part time job is being held open for her. The girls are very easy babies, as Ex Sis in Law attests, and with her parental care, they are in good hands, but it just seems so unfair on her. She cries at the drop of a hat, and broke down completely when talking about the situation with Tradie Brother, her ex husband.

We are mostly hopeful and we all put on a brave face, but at times we are in despair at the situation.

In other brighter news, Hippie Niece's sister Middle Niece and her husband have sold the Mornington Peninsula house and bought a bigger and better one in the same town. It looks very nice and comes with built in outdoor play equipment and a cubby house in a tree for Little M and Little Em. Middle Niece has always had her act together, just like her mother. I expect there may be a little sibling jealousy.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Pay your tax

As a pay tax as you go wage slave, I don't have opportunities to rort the tax system. We did when we had our investment flat, and while we did very nicely with capital gain, the sale of said flat paying off this place, we paid a huge amount of capital gains tax. Fire fighting nephew could have lived in the place for free for twelve months and we pretended we lived there and there would have been little tax to pay and we would be so much better off.

Our Brother Friends used to get money spent on their own home billed as a tax deductible expense on their investment flat. People are rorting the system all the time.

It is curious to me that our government wants to cut company tax. The federal government has just cracked down even harder on the poorest of our society, yet it wants to cut company tax. Transfer money from the poorest to the profitable companies? Yet, it is not like companies here pay tax anway, well not if they are multinational tech companies. Tax reduction in company tax to 25% of nothing doesn't equal very much. 

It seems our Senate has quashed the company tax cut. This is good news.

EC first featured this cartoon when she went off exploring in an art gallery. Still capitalists believe in trickle down economics, where the poorest get richer as the richest get richer. It has been well proven that it is a failed theory. Here is the clever enough cartoon. 

Monday, March 26, 2018

Monday Mural

I am late with this but at least it is still Monday. It is not too remarkable and the hoardings prevent any checking for an artist. It is quite large though. Spencer Street in Melbourne.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

The 2017 Wedding

My nephew's wedding at an apple orchard last year was a wonderful three day event, the ceremony being just brilliant. I have sent the Youtube link to some of you. The Youtube video, no wonder the videographer cost so much, is tightly edited with a great soundtrack. Mother and Step Mother briefly appear side by side. I and R ended up on the cutting room floor. If you are a blogmate and would like to see the lovely wedding squeezed into a few minutes, I can send you the link. Email andrewhighriser at gmail dot com.

Shame Australia Shame

While I feel it is terribly wrong that the British stole this great land mass of what we know as Australia from its local inhabitants and yes owners, the Aborigines, it is apparent that it was not Terra Nullius. (bad sentence construction. Forgive me. I am on a roll)  But I was born here, my parents were born here, my grandparents were born here and my great grandparents were born here, and most of my great great parents were born here. It is my country by an act of history.

I don't like exhibitions of pride in public, but I suppose I do take some quiet pride in being lucky enough to be born in this country, where an F18 Hornet flies over our city for public entertainment and not to bomb us.

One area where we are really on the world stage, in nearly all the old colonies that went on to become The Commonwealth, is with cricket, the gentleman's sport.

In my mind a perfect day of cricket is sitting on the perimeter of  an English village cricket green in a deck chair while watching a local game where all players honour the sport. The sky is blue with fluffy white clouds floating past. I have a gin and tonic at hand and a platter of cheese and biscuits to nibble. The sun makes me sleepy. I doze off, only to be woken by a hearty round of applause from the local team supporters applauding a really good take of a wicket by the visiting team. Is that not what cricket is about? Apparently not.

I feel shame. We can no longer speak of moral rectitude. We can no longer stand on our high horses. Our soap box has been kicked from under us. We will never again be in a position to lecture others about sportsmanship. A junior player was told to cheat by the Australian cricket captain and the lad followed orders.

Clearly that they thought they could get away this indicates firstly that they are stupid. Secondly that they are cheaters. Thirdly, they have brought great disrespect to Australia.

The general and the soldier have been well caught out. Resign in disgrace, and they are falling as I type. But why did they think they could cheat and get away with it? In such cases I look to management and the culture of the workplace.

It may be 10 years before Australia ever does well in cricket again, but sack all the players, the captains and coaches, and roll the board of Cricket Australia who created a culture where the players stupidly thought they could get away with such actions when they are constantly monitored by cameras.

There are no heroes in Australian cricket at all, unlike in France whereby a particular French policeman substituted himself for a hostage who was under threat by an accused Moslem terrorist. The policeman was subsequently killed. Arnaud Beltrame is a real hero and I reckon he would have been a pretty fine sportsman. You certainly can't say the same about Cricket Australia or any of the complicit players who have brought such shame on the nation.

The Elephant in the Room

As Cro reminded me, the elephant in the room this weekend is the Melbourne Grand Pricks Prix, or is that the Australian Grand Prix. Who cares. It is a horrible event and while it is run by a private corporation, somehow, if proper accounting methods are used, last year cost the state $90 million. Sport is very much like farmers in the country who love to privatise the profits and socialise the losses.

The attendance figures released by Grand Prix Corporation always substantially exceed those of the Save Albert Park group who have tirelessly but unsuccessfully worked to stop the race being in an inner city park, normally full of ducks, swans, swamphens, cormorants and pelicans. SAP volunteers are at each entrance turnstile with people counting clickers.

Look at the crowds as the race is underway!

Couple more people here. It is hardly an overwhelming number.

The only interesting thing about the race are the planes. I did take some photos of the F18 Hornet Bomber as it made its fly past but they are no better than last year's, so here are some I baked earlier, including the Air Force Roulettes. The noise from the Hornet is both deafening and terrifying.

Later edit: Our Hairdresser Friend who lives in St Kilda was terribly clawed by her cats when the Hornet flew over on Saturday. She posted a very graphic photo of her injuries.

A new train on the eve of White Night

I suppose I can call this Sunday Selections. Do check what River and Elephant's Child have posted.

Melbourne is getting some new trains and there was a mock up, I think it was a mock up, on display at Birrarung Marr on the edge of the Yarra River. We strolled along the river bank for a look see.

Preparations were underway for White Night, an overnight event with many outdoor performances and displays until about 6am on the Sunday morning. Public transport ran all night and the event is very successful. Liquid Sky had already been erected at Federation Square, but to quote The Age headline, "White Night sculpture ripped apart by ferocious Melbourne winds".

This photo is from the Fairfax Press, but I have seen better photos.

More evidence of ferocious winds.

The Federation Bells atop the hill play tunes at certain times during the day.

Looking back towards the city. I suppose it is art. It looks like Aboriginal art, so we must be respectful.

What are these for?

Ah, they were to be erected along the river bank. I expect they were illuminated.

Revolting seat colours on the new train. The brighter ones are for the elderly and less abled.

There has been a theme over the last few years of removing seating from existing trains and trams so more people can be squashed on. Now they are just building trains with less seating.

The screens look very smart.

For White Night the train carriage was turned into a silent disco with appropriate lighting. A silent disco is where people dance to music they are hearing in headphones. I heard it was quite successful.

We first saw these very useful live panels in Japan in 2010, and we have seen them elsewhere since. This is the first time they will be seen in Melbourne, to my knowledge. They are incredibly useful and should be retro fitted to all trains.

I always think of this sculpture as Dorothy the Dinosaur and she once sat in the moat at the National Gallery of Victoria, but to be accurate, it is a sculpture called Mosaic Angel by artist Deborah Halpern. Jayne of Our Great Southern land informs us that Deborah is conducting a sculpting with mosaics workshop in Dunolly in Western Victoria.

Repro Victorian lamps march along back along the river to the city as we approached the Banana Vaults, once cool fresh food storage, now used as cafes, bars and ferry tour offices. 

It must be time for lunch.