Saturday, June 01, 2019

I before E,

"Miss, I sit my Australian citizenship test soon. I need to know the rules for Australian English".

"Giovanni, I can tell you about the past participle rule, but very few English speakers know it. To use the colloquial term, they just wing it with past and present participles. I can tell you one rule though, that is, I before E except after W".

"Thank you Miss. You have helped me a lot."

Giovanni was deported to Italy two weeks later after failing the citizenship test.

This word play on the coffee mug below is so clever. Is there any other language in the world that doesn't have rules for so many things, and you either know or you don't? I do not understand how people can learn Australian English unless they are immersed in it and listen carefully and absorb the knowledge. I don't write this with any kind of pride about our language being special in any way. It is unique though and if you were born here, you probably speak it well enough, but be very forgiving towards those who were not born here, or are of Aboriginal heritage and have their own language(s) to understand first.

But to do well in any western English speaking country, you really do good local language skills, along with the somewhat easier written word skills. You may have, and I certainly have, heard of someone with perfect English writing skills who could not understand a word that was being said and none could understand what they were saying.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Warmer Times

How quickly the seasons changed this year. A couple of Sundays ago we took a drive along the coast to Half Moon Bay at Black Rock. It wasn't windy and by the appearance of the boy in the photo, it was quite warm enough.

We were last here on a warm and sunny summer day with Sister, Bone Doctor and about one and half year old Little Jo who was bathed in the water. I suppose I wrote a post about it. I remember the day as I fell over the baby gate into the kitchen in their Murrumbeena flat kitchen and rather hurt myself. Little Jo is nearly twelve now, so it was ten years ago. It's a nice beach.

We bought a bacon and egg roll from the Beach House Cafe. Proper dining is upstairs. We also bought surprisingly good coffee and sat a table and chairs outside beside the seawall.

Afterwards we walked out onto the jetty.

This is what remains of HMVS Cerberus, the Navy of the Colony of Victoria's armoured first non sail power ship, launched in 1870. She was sold for scrap and scuttled as a beach breakwater in 1926.

Like all shipwrecks within Australian waters after seventy years the water around the ship becomes a protected zone and no one can enter without permission. Permits are not been given for this area as the hull is in imminent danger of collapse. Still, I am sure that doesn't stop the children swimming out the 180 metres and jumping into the water from the wreck as they have always done in my memory. That would be the very privileged children from the local area.

Plenty of walking tracks in the scrubby sand dunes. I think in years past the walking tracks were used at night by gay men to pick up. I think the disreputable newspaper The Truth once made an expose report and named names. I guess they weren't local as the thought of gay men living in Black Rock is way weird. I stand to be corrected. Perhaps it was straight men taking a little adventure. Sisters, just when you thought your bloke would never stray, perhaps they may in a way you did not imagine. Call me wrong, but I don't think it something that you should break up a marriage for if you find out about it. Men and their animalistic urges.

Lovely pink cliffs.

It was a very pleasant little outing.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Applying the brakes firmly

It was my youngest brother's 55th birthday. Tradie Brother was already drunk by 1.30 when we arrived. He doesn't really celebrate his birthday and pretended to not know he is now 55 years old. While he has a good head of hair, he has now chosen to shave it. He is slim as but the grog has really knocked his facial features around. He was probably the best looking of all of us and of course as I have said in the past, (content removed). We'll just keep that between ourselves, hey. Sister and Bone Doctor know, but no reason to upset any apple cart. I once discussed it with Mother. The next time I mentioned it, she denied it and asked, who said that.

It was a day to celebrate the short six year life of his dog Cobber, black part Labrador. He had written some notes and made a long winded but quite good speech as Cobber speaking about his life with his Master. As I said to Firefighting Nephew after the speech, it reminded me of his speech at your 21st birthday. Too long, but actually quite interesting.

Of course visiting any family involves freeway and/or toll road travel. Much as I hate driving in congested inner city traffic, boy, how things can quickly go so wrong at 100 km/h on freeways, with terrible consequences. We were nearly a victim of gross stupidity on a freeway.

R is not a terrific driver and a truly horrible back seat passenger. Think of Hyacinth telling Richard, 'there is someone coming out their front door. Watch out Richard.' Apparently I am the worst driver in the world. Not sure why. My last serious car accident was when I scraped the side of my Humber Super Snipe against the gatepost hinges in 1986.

"Stop", R screamed. No, I am not stopping on a 100 km/h freeway. I will brake appropriately. Five lane freeway and I was in the second inside lane, not a lane I prefer. The car two in front of me decided he, and it would be a he, decided he needed the exit and braked severely to let cars pass on his left and then cross over to the exit, leading to massive braking behind him. I applied the car brakes hard, like I have never really done before, while also watching the rear view mirror to see if someone was going to plough into the back of me.

I can only identify it as a blue car. Should someone have run into the back of me, the blue car driver would not have known and been safely on the exit ramp and I would have been left with the insurance excess of around $500 for car repairs.

I think I may become one of those terrible people who drive at 80 km/h on a 100 km/h freeway. Don't worry, I will stick to the left lane.

Freeways are truly scary and I wonder if justice had been served for Grace's niece.

This is Tradie Brother's shrine to his dog Cobber and photos of some of his captive birds. Missing is Betty the corella and Thelma (sorry Hels) the chicken. I don't really approve now of holding birds captive, but as Hippie Niece said in her FB tribute to her father for his birthday, he has mellowed a lot. The pipe along the top of the fence is to keep possums off. It didn't work so he added barbed wire and that did not work either. He has now bought a fishing license so that he can legally have sling shot. Go figure what part of state government legislation that is! He was not in any state for me to ask why he wanted to shoot a slingshot at possums. He has mellowed, but not quite enough yet for my liking.

Still, it was really nice couple of hours in the freezing cold, but with his half 44 gallon 205 litre drum fire burning. Mother became a bit too cold and was wrapped up in a really soft blanket, which we told her was Cobber's bedding and shroud and she would smell like a dog later. It wasn't.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Australian Energy Regulator

Almost daily the headlines scream about rising power prices. Ours have risen but not really dramatically, not enough to warrant headline news. If people are getting quarterly bills over $1000, they really need to look at what they have running.

Of course we would all like to have cheaper power bills and the government has a plan, which I am not even going to try to understand. One former Prime Minister (Turnbull I think), playing to gallery of the conservatives (and coal energy shareholders), spoke of the need for new coal fired power stations to prevent the blackouts and restrictions we have faced.

What blackouts and restrictions? When was this? The only power blackouts have been caused by weather or small infrastructure failure. In the massive South Australian blackout, a couple of years ago was it, it was weather, small infrastructure failure and poor management decisions.

This was mostly written last year and not published. I am not sure where I was going with it, but I consider it useful enough to publish. This summer in Victoria we did have on afternoon of some suburbs being blacked out, as our coal fired power stations collapsed under the strain during a short hot spell, along with some being out of service for regular maintenance. Why do that when the weather is hot? They do take some time to wind down and start up again, but even so.

To also note, South Australia's large power storage battery, built by electric car maker Elon Musk is performing very well. Now everyone wants a big battery.

The paste below is from the website of the Australian Energy Regulator and defines its role in our energy system. So if you think your power is too expensive, this is where the price is decided, or at least allows a price to be decided by resellers.

I can't remember where the paste came from comparing our prices to those overseas, but it is rather shocking. We are paying just under 20 cents/kWh. Mother was paying about 28 cents. She was not in a position to bargain. Our electricity costs nearly 200% more than Canadians pay. The amount AER decides that a network can recover from customers and that the AER does not set prices is rather a moot point from my point of view.

In 2011/12 average household electricity prices in Australia (just under 25 cents/kWh) were 12% higher than average prices in Japan, 33% higher than the EU, 122% higher than the U.S. and 194% higher than Canada.

  • The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) works to make all Australian energy consumers better off, now and in the future. 
  • We regulate electricity networks and covered gas pipelines, in all jurisdictions except Western Australia. We set the amount of revenue that network businesses can recover from customers for using these networks.
  • We enforce the laws for the National Electricity Market and spot gas markets in southern and eastern Australia. We monitor and report on the conduct of energy businesses and the effectiveness of competition.
  • We protect the interests of household and small business consumers by enforcing the Retail Law. Our retail energy market functions cover New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania, the ACT and Queensland. We do not set the prices consumers pay.

Monday, May 27, 2019

I haz new seat

After we left our large house in Glen Iris, we moved to a modern unit in Burwood. The old 'antique' furniture had to go. We were moving on. Through a work friend who had an antique shop we sold it all on commission. There was one genuine antique, The Bolter's, my paternal grandmother's piano chair. We had used it as chair at our large polished timber with a leather inlay desk. Our pianola came with as proper piano seat, where you could store the sheet music under the lift up seat. Begone old stuff. We are moving on.

And so we did. My bedroom contains the only remains of that time of our life, a nest of carved black rosewood tables and my inlaid Chinese bedroom cupboard, aside from what I mention a bit later in this post. The work well in my bedroom here. Under this window is the perfect space for the nest of tables. Don't enlarge the picture as you can see dust. I must speak to Household Management about that. The skirting boards, window ledges and architraves are all original. They are not quite as yellowed in real life. I joke that they are ivory, but they were bright white eggshell/two pack painted when we moved here. We did not want to spoil their look, so they have never been painted the original. It is going to have happen though. The Chinese jar was bought many years ago and worth over $150 now. The wooden ducks were given to us by a friend after he holidayed in Bali. He died from AIDS soon after in the 1990s. The wall on the right is where I gouged it out with a black mark the other night when I stumbled and grabbed the chair to steady myself.

Yes, there is a padlock on the cupboard doors for when family stay when we are not here. The wall is not orange but a sandy colour.

So in our modern unit that was once a traditional house, we refurnished. For the first time in our lives we were mortgage free. We spent money like there was no tomorrow, although our tastes are modest. We visited Sydney three times that year. Once for a holiday, then for Mardi Gras and then Sleaze Ball.

We bought a new glass and steel Z frame desk and a new office chair, and nearly thirty years later, we were still using them.

Just one other remnant of times past is our auto trolley or tea trolley. We can't afford staff to wheel tea and cakes to us, so it is a static drinks stand now.  It was given to us by the Brother Twins back in the 1980s, whose Mother originally bought it. The etching on the glass is very nice and the 'mudguards' are bakelite.

R often moans about the desk and the chair, but I saw no reason to change either. The chair is extremely comfortable and the desk fits the space where it sits perfectly. Ok, it is dated, but so is much of what we now have. How many hours have our bums sat on this chair since the early 1990s?

'R, what are these black marks on the carpet?' 'Coming from the chair, I think', he replied.

I arrived home from work when Little Jo was here. She now comes with her own tablet to use and so is not so plonked in front of our desktop. I sat on the chair and it was wobbly. I examined it but could  not see a reason except the feet seemed wrong. Later I concluded it was a broken bearing in one of the wheels.

Well R, no argument from me now. We need a new desk chair. It cost a whole $80. God knows how much we paid for the old one, but a lot more, and we bought the filing cabinet and desk about the same time. The new chair is comfortable enough but I can't see it lasting nearly thirty years.

Sunday, May 26, 2019


Does anyone see the irony in this screenshot?

Later edit: To me the irony is a pop up ad advertising how to block pop up ads.