Saturday, January 19, 2019

No Razor Blades Involved

What is wrong with this advertisement? I quite like it and I think it makes some sound points. Why is it at all controversial? Yet as I write this, the ad has received 223,000 likes but 588,000 dislikes. I assume these dislike votes are from men who like seeing young boys fighting, women being sexually harassed and patronised, boys being bullied and a whole lot more. There is a lot in the video to see, and you have to be a fast watcher, but I think it is worth watching and rewatching. There is one scene, repeated, where a woman is bending over and the bloke behind makes gestures. I honestly don't see too much harm in that, so long it was painted as desire rather than humiliation. The woman being patronised in the boardroom is a whole different kettle of fish. Disgraceful. ABI Brother and I were mildly encouraged to fight at times by our father when were kids. Why? I've never physically fought with anyone since.

Like at times stupid Tradie Brother said about his son when his son was young, he should go barefoot, to toughen up his feet. I said back to TB, he won't need toughen up hia feet if he always wears footwear. Rather like me. I go barefoot on the sand at the beach, if the sand is not too hot. That is about it.

Ye shall reap what you sow, and that goes for how you raise your children.

This was set for publication before the horrendous murder of a woman in my home town of Melbourne. A person was quickly caught and will be charged with murder and probably sexual assault. Maybe some women can recover from sexual assault, maybe, maybe some women. But no one can recover from murder. Just too awful.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Are Melbourne's bridges safe?

Those of us who live in Victoria, and perhaps much of Australia and are of a certain age will remember the tragedy of West Gate Bridge falling down as it was being built, with so many killed and injured.

I am often given to wonder about the strength of Princes Bridge, when umpteen trams and cars are sitting on the bridge. It is of arch construction, and probably very strong and checked for soundness often. Now concrete blocks are to be added to the edge of the paths for more security against those who would damage people with their cars.

But what about other bridges, especially bridges where trams cross railway lines. I saw one speed restriction sign, then another. I investigated further and went out and took photos.

I came across some other tram speed restriction signs too.

I know St Kilda Junction was strengthened just a few years ago, when new tram track was laid. It is now in such a perilous state that trams can only crawl at 15 km/h, say 10mph. Seems like it it is, as per photo. It was only built in the mid 1960s.

This bridge over the railway line in Glenferrie Road, Malvern. Is it safe? It is at least 100 years old.

This one in in Wattletree Road, Armadale is probably the same age.

With a very similar style of construction, I expect this bridge in Malvern Road, Toorak is the same age too.

I have since noticed a further old bridge over Gardiners Creek,  Glenferrie Road, Kooyong. It looks quite old too and has a 15 km/h limit for trams.

Are they safe? It seems Yarra Trams does not think so. Is it the private tram company acting on its own knowledge that these bridges are unsafe for trams or has this come from Public Transport Victoria or from VicRoads? What do they know that we are not being told? Will tram passengers end up in a creek or on a railway line in front of an express train when a bridge collapses?

Never mind that we are told we already have one of the slowest tram systems in the world, and it has just become a whole lot slower.

I wonder if the media might be interested in this? Either the bridges are safe or they are not. I did note aside from St Kilda Junction that not one tram at any of the other bridges slowed to 15 km/h. To me that smacks of managers having a tram driver to blame should the worst case happen. Keep the pressure on for on time performance, or the company gets fined, yet slow trams to impractical speeds, if it is the case that these bridges are safe. How can we know?

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Stupid old man #563

After yesterday's huge post, something light and easy for today.

Little Jo is back from the scout jamboree, tired but she enjoyed herself very much. Sister bought theatre tickets for R and Little Jo to see the musical School of Rock while her mothers' attended the Australian Open tennis.  They both loved the show. I was at work. R cooked us all a very nice dinner, well, the day before and it just had to be browned in the oven and the vegetables cooked. Little Jo made patty cakes for us all for desert.

Before R and Little Jo left to have lunch and then go to the theatre, I was home for lunch and I said, hang on, I will look on the net at your seats to see how good they are. I was studying the seating plan of the theatre intently and it wasn't making much sense to me. Where the eff are their seats?

"Auntie Andrew", said Little Jo with a rather annoyingly superior tone to her voice, "You are looking at the seating plan for Her Majesty's Theatre in London".

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Comparing Canadian Health Care

I am not sure this is as good as I want it to be, but publish and be damned.

I won't say any more about American health care aside from it being deplorable but a little improved by Obama when he was President. It did mean that some middle class people had to pay more for private health insurance and more less well off people received better care, if they could take out health insurance.

But let us compare Canada to Australia for medical care. Both are very confusing and complicated but they generally work well enough most of the time. Here is an edited  of what Jackie in Toronto sent me when I asked her about Canadian health care.

Americans don't know a lot about our healthcare and yet they say they don't want it. I don't understand this. (Me either)

Jim Carrey, a Canadian, explains this perfectly.
Here is a video featuring him and another Canadian explaining our system.

It's quite long but a few minutes will give you the idea. It helps that the presenter is a good speaker and rather attractive. No, not the bloke with Jim Carrey. 

Canada's provincially based Medicare systems (I am alert and alarmed at multiple Medicare systems. We have one federal one) are cost-effective because of their administrative simplicity. In each province, each doctor handles the insurance claim against the provincial insurer. There is no need for the person who accesses healthcare to be involved in billing and reclaim at all. (So, it does not cost to go to the doctor in Canada) The Canada Health Act does not cover prescription drugs, home care or long-term care or dental care (same here), which means most Canadians rely on private insurance from their employers or the government to pay for those costs (private health insurance paid by employers has happened here but it is a matter of history). Provinces provide partial coverage for children, those living in poverty and seniors.
Under the Canada Health Act, prescription drugs administered in Canadian hospitals are provided at no cost to the patient. (the same in Australia. If our medication is on the Public Benefit Subscription list, it will cost health care card holders, that is pensioners, unemployed etc about $5. It will cost wage earning people like me up to a maximum of about $35).
A health card is issued by the Provincial Ministry of Health to each individual who enrolls for the program in the province and everyone receives the same level of care. There is no need for a variety of plans because virtually all essential basic care is covered, including maternity but excluding mental health and home care. (Of course maternity is covered here. Mental health, technically yes, practically, not very well. Home care is an absolute mess, but in theory paid for from taxes with a co-contribution).

Canadians don’t pay coinsurance of 30 percent or 50 percent if they have an outpatient procedure or go to an urgent care clinic, charges that are becoming increasingly common in the States. They don’t worry about paying a gigantic bill if they happen to use an out-of-network doctor or hospital. The publicly funded system north of the border bases patients’ access to medical services on need, not on the ability to pay. (This is good, and much as it is here).
We have two walk-in clinics within a block of our place, simply walk-in, swipe your card and you are seen. No money involved. Need a tetanus shot, no problem. Need a shingles shot, there is a free shot over the age of 50, or you could opt to pay for a newer, more effective shot that will cost you about $200, but we are covered with our insurance plans. (While we do have private health insurance here, so far as I know nothing will cover you for the superior shingles shot. You do get the basic shingles shot after a certain age, perhaps 65.)

I, personally have never paid for any medical services. I've had a couple of operations as has John. I've had two hospital stays, John has had more, appendix, gall bladder, toe, kidney stones, no cost to us.
We have two walk in clinics (As Mother uses and sees the same doctor each time. It is a bulk billing clinic. The cost is paid by the federal government. I have my own doctor, who charges me about $75 and I am reimbursed about $37 by the government.)

Because it’s publicly funded, Canadian health care is more equitable. There’s no such thing as buying a platinum plan and getting first-rate coverage or a cheapo bronze policy and paying 60 percent of the bill yourself. We have American friends and they talk about how glad they are that they have these “platinum” plans. (Of course the health care coverage for the rich and the middle class in the US is ok. That is why there is not a rebellion)
Prescription drug coverage is a different thing. Drug benefits are quite unequal in Canada, and the lack of them is a pretty big hole for about 10 percent of the population. There is no universal drug benefit, although two provinces have mandatory drug insurance you can get it from an employer or buy it from a public plan. About 40 percent of the population gets coverage from their employers.(I am thinking our prescription medicine system is better, but perhaps not by much)
John and I are extremely lucky to have medical and dental insurance plans from our employers that continue even after we retired. (No such thing as dental in Australia. While there is public dental care, you can wait years)
Not all Canadians are that lucky. If you can’t afford the premium, there are subsidies. (Subsidised private health insurance? As far as I know everyone who has private health insurance in Australia receives a subsidy)
You qualify for the Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB) program when you turn 65 years old. (Same here, I think)
Jackie added a little more.
When it comes to a family doctor you can find one you like if she/he is still taking patients. I have my own ophthalmologist and GP. GPs are easy to get an appointment with and dates/times can be worked out. They will refer you to specialists and it make take a month or two to get an appointment with the specialist but it is manageable. (Very much as here.)
I mentioned walk in clinics close to us and they are easy to find anywhere around the city, every few blocks in fact. Bulk billing clinics here, walk in and wait and no cost to you.

Hospital emergency rooms are crowded and waits are long. But then some people are stupid and go there for the littlest thing instead of using a walk-in. (Same here, and trivial problems cause much delay. As happens here, in Canada you would be triaged by a qualified person. If you stubbed your toe and are seeking treatment, expect just about everyone else to be be seen first. Accident victims with serious injuries, heart attack victims, etc will all be dealt with before you with your sore toe.)

Thanks for the info Jackie. I conclude neither your system nor ours compare as well to what is the system generally in Europe or dare I say it, even Britain, but are vastly superior to the US system. In both Canada and Australia, if you have a serious medical problem, you will be treated for free. Less serious problems, you may have to wait for a while.

We have had some experience of our system over the last year. We have top hospital cover private health insurance, and so used it. We are about $4000 out of pocket. This is so wrong.

We have learnt a lesson. Our twin friend who died from cancer had the best of care at little cost to him for over four years in the public hospital system. We should have used the public hospital system and saved $4000. There may have been a wait. We wouldn't be able to choose our appointment time, we wouldn't be able to choose who did the surgery, but what we would get would be the best of care by a very efficient public hospital and also a top surgeon or a junior supervised by a top surgeon.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019


A dated graphic.

But why is my state of Victoria along with Tasmania, so far behind the eight ball?

As a youngun I remember taking Marchants Lemonade bottles back to shops to receive five cents for the return. Why did it stop and why don't we do it now? A chap used to turn up at the farm every so often to remove beer bottles and pay us for them.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Let it Begin

Have you made your cucumber sandwiches? Have you poured yourself a Pimms? The strawberries are hulled for later? Sit down and stay cool/warm enjoy the Australian Open coming to you from Melbourne. Err, if Rupert allows you.

I may even watch a little myself.

Monday Mural

This mural is on the side of a nightclub. I was wrong. It was the next laneway. It was once a gay club called Virgin Marys and the Catholic Church protested loudly. The name was eventually contracted to VMs. That was many years ago and it is now a straight nightclub.

Some words come to mind as I look at the photo. Jazz, speakeasy, prohibition, black American rights, bars cloudy with smoke, police corruption. There can be an awful lot to read into what seems a simple mural.

Unfortunately it has been tagged and I could not find the name of the artist. I really like it. It is a a narrow lane and I only had my phone camera to use.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

A Friday Day Orf Pt 2

We were in town by 11, had some nice brunch, mine being poached eggs on lime flavoured smashed avocado on toast, only $8.50, not the politicians' $22 smashed avocado,  and I had my hair cut. We shopped for a birthday card and then R went off to buy a pair of loafers, or boat shoes. He hates me calling them those names. I don't know the right name for them. They are blue runners, or sandshoes. I left him to it to buy his shoes, which he didn't, and I returned home briefly.

It was quite hot today, so I was looking out for air con trams and succeeded pretty well. I caught a 67 tram to St Kilda Junction, took photos. Then a non air con 3 tram to Beacon Lighting in St Kilda Road, St Kilda to return a $12 light bulb that did not fit our lamp.

Then a 16 tram to Malvern Station for a photo stop, and then walk in the heat to the Wattletree Road train bridge, and then a decent walk to a 605 bus stop at Union Street and Kooyong Roads. Everyone knows a diagonal is quicker to walk than a right angle. Why can't you walk behind Malvern Central shopping centre on a path from Glenferrie Road to Wattletree Road? You could, if you were prepared to gamble with traffic and ignore the 'no pedestrians' warning signs. I did not rebel and walked in the hot sun, fortunately shaded by my new and very wide brimmed hat from historic City Hatters.

I took photos at Wattletree Road and then walked on diagonally this time along the railway line, with the street only interrupted by a nice little kiddies park, where I sat on a bench in the shade for a few minutes.

I have reached Kooyong Road now and I am waiting for the bus. I take my photos and have a brief chat to the customer service person at the bus stop. She is there to organise passengers for the bus replacement of the train line while works are done.

The 605 bus arrives to take me to the corner of Orrong and Malvern Roads where I take more photos. I have to wait twelve minutes for the 72 tram to Prahran. Once in Prahran I dash down Chapel Street to get a couple of things and I am back in the time for the next 72 tram home twelve minutes later. I dashed because the next tram had air con. I was getting very hot and bothered.

Does that all sound hard? Maybe. I used three different public transport apps and I knew exactly when, where and which bus/tram would arrive. I also had a bit of time to read a book and gaze around public transport vehicles at attractive young men and stylish older women, as well as just looking out the windows at the streets. While I and matters tech have been long time companions, I really don't understand why young people are so needy about using public transport and don't or won't use phone apps.

Here are some of the photos from today. There are photos I took of some things that seriously concern me, but I can't confirm the concern until after the train works have finished, so I won't show them yet.

Infrastructure, we have new infrastructure. Badly needed and very overdue.

Does this mean the express train can go faster? Especially when the new Metro Tunnel service begins?

As I said, it was a hot day and the workers must have been feeling the heat. I am on the city side of  Malvern Station.

A bit of Art Deco. So far as I can remember, this clock has never worked. A friend used to own the restaurant next door, now Sugo. When my friend had the Thai restaurant, Melbourne foodie identity Matt Preston gave it a lukewarm review and wondered how it made money. I emailed Preston and told him how the quite large restaurant made money, because it could cater for huge groups, the food was of a high standard (a bit expensive) did a roaring trade in take away and both my friend and his wife were hands on people who didn't mind doing the dirty work, as well as front of house. Preston sent me a polite reply, thanking me for the information.

I don't know how well it will show, but the new copper overhead cables were glistening in the sunlight. I too was glistening, with sweat.

Wires, staunchions, supports, signals, all new.

What is this thing glimpsed through the trees called, love? 

I have absolutely no idea. It just before Armadale Station, citybound. Marcus? Is it to knock train surfers off the top of trains?

Looking north west to Armadale Station.

On the city side of Toorak Station.

The much slicker and stylish blogger Daniel Bowen has some photos of the works happening near South Yarra Station.

PS. If you are a reader of Cro's blog, who lives in France, you will know that his much loved dog Bok died suddenly. We will let Cro mourn his loss in peace but hope he will be back in blogland soon. I kinda miss him, quite a bit.