Saturday, February 22, 2020

Old man embraces modern tech

Have you seen those lads out and about with a cordless white ear thingie in their ears? They are iPhone bluetooth earphones. They cost a bomb and are so easily lost. I was once brave enough to ask a lad in the early days of such earpieces, so you can hear and speak to someone on your phone with that thing in your ear. Yes, he replied. So cool, and he as young people do, was listening to music on his phone through his earpiece.

I like listening to podcasts but generally when out and about I don't. I always get my earphone cords in a tangle or manage to rip the plug out of the socket. However, I have seen people wearing non iPhone earphone pieces. It is time for me to get modern but as an older person who has spent up to $16 on cord earphones, I am not going to spend $350 on one of those white thingies but I found a single earpiece at JB HiFi for about $60.

It is large, black  and ugly but if I like the bluetooth earpiece, I will buy something better in the future. Btw, my birthday is mid October.

The lady in the earpiece has asked me in English if I would like to change the language. Just as well she speaks English and I could understand her. Foreign types may be not so lucky. She tells me if I am connected to phone 1 or phone 2, phone 2 being my tablet. She tells me how much talk time is left in my earpiece. I struggled with the earfit until I realised I had to turn the ear loop around for the other ear. We are not really compatible but by golly, she services me well (I was going to add something like 'as a good b...should', but of course you would know I was stirring and being provocative, so I shan't)

Seriously, it works really well but it is rather unattractive and not a great earfit. It was good to buy the cheap cordless earpiece and understand how they work. I tested a phone call to R and it was crystal clear. I downloaded the app but the only use of that is to find it within range by it making a noise.

I've seen very neat Android earpieces in the ears of lads. Maybe I will buy a better one down the track. R, why don't you read my blog? Just a gentle reminder to you dear reader, my birthday is mid October.

But oh, what over packaging? We are told it is to stop theft, but there is a guard at the door of JB HiFi.

A small earpiece and a small charging cord, in so much packaging.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Train crash thoughts

As the day wore on, the picture of the Victorian train derailment resulting in the sad deaths of the train driver and his pilot became clearer.

Train drivers had refused to drive along the substandard mainline track and it seems with official approval, were using a passing loop. The train hit the passing loop points at a high speed that resulted in the derailment.

Now while two people died in the train crash, I expect more may have died in car crashes on the same day in our state.

But the train crash is in every news broadcast and every publication, and it should be, as while only two people died, the potential for a massive death toll in an at speed train a crash is real.  It is rare, but something going wrong with a high speed train can have a terrible death toll. No one will be wearing a seat belt as in a motorcar. People will be thrown around with momentum.

I think it is safe to say that the reason for the derailment is the train hitting switched points at high speed, when the speed should have been 15 km/h. The pilot is onboard to assist the train driver with local knowledge of changed track conditions. I would assume as a pilot, she would have been aware of the changed track conditions. Did both the driver and the pilot miss seeing correct signals, the pilot with local knowledge? Was the train in runaway mode where it could not be slowed? Was it faulty signals? There was a recent fire in a nearby signalling system. Were the signals under manual control  by an operator somewhere?

I think it boils down to driver/pilot error, auto signal failure, or manual signal control failure.

We are told a preliminary report will be released within one month with umpteen authorities investigating. The later detailed report will be interesting reading for me.

As awful as such disasters can be, they are very good learning lessons.

Image from

Quiz solutions

The Christmas gift posted from Japan on 30th of November was delivered to us on the 5th of January. We thought our Friend in Japan hated us as not even a Christmas card (just kidding). While Japan can be bureaucratic, it is also normally efficient with public services. Somehow I don't think Japan's postal service is to blame. Nice work, Australia Post.

Now to the more complicated question and something that terrifies country, outer suburban, interstate and foreign drivers. Within the City of Melbourne and along Clarendon Street, South Melbourne to allow cars to turn right where the roads are shared with trams, cars must be in the left lane, proceed into the intersection and wait at the marked stop line. When the facing lights turn red, drivers can then turn right once the green is displayed in the street they are turning into is showing.

While the system has been in place in the city for as long as I can remember, in recent times these additional lights as shown yesterday have been added in many places to help drivers know when to turn. Where they are not installed, some drivers become impatient and toot the driver in front of them if they don't start to turn when the facing light turns amber.

Of course with people breaching road rule #128 and blocking intersections by entering them even if the traffic is banked up ahead and they end up stuck in the middle, the whole system falls apart.

Now, I will put my brain to great stress and see if I can translate this for you who drive on the wrong side of road.

You need to be in the right lane to turn left. Enter the intersection and wait for the facing lights to turn red, then complete your turn left......I think. It is hard for me to visualise.

Maybe this short Vicroads Youtube clip helps to explain how it works here. The road with few cars and no congestion depicted in the video is nothing like the reality of Melbourne streets where you will encounter hook turns.

Thursday, February 20, 2020


Here is a couple of quiz questions for you.

Japan is not a physically large country, so the SAL system for mail, Surface Air Lifted, would not account for a mail delay of more than two days before being loaded onto a plane for Australia. I should think directly to Melbourne, but if another Australian city, you could perhaps add a couple of days for more sorting and a short flight.

More sorting in Melbourne, at worst surely two more days, in total perhaps just over a week and that would be quite reasonable.

Clearly I wouldn't be mentioning this if the delivery of a Christmas present from our Friend in Japan was timely. Take a guess when it was delivered to us after it was postmarked 30th November 2019 in Japan?

If you live in Melbourne or have driven in Melbourne and you already know, please let others have a guess. If you live interstate, I am impressed that you know, but again please others have a guess.

It is an illuminated road sign. What is it about? Check back in twenty four hours after this is published for answers.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

A drive up into the hills

Dame M died in 2008. We still talk about our friend so many years later. Through her we came to know the dyke couple Dame M called The Mountain Women. I don't know how she knew them. We last saw The Mountain Women at the funeral of  James/Jazzie who died in 2016 and shortly afterwards for a pub dinner. 

Out of the blue they called us before Christmas and said we should catch up in the new year. With a little toing and froing and it was arranged for 2pm Tuesday at their home in the Dandenong Ranges as you can see in the background of my header photo. It was a little rainy as we drove the hour up into the hills but we allowed enough time and were five minutes early.

They had completely forgotten we were coming, but it didn't really matter. C is English born and 71. K is 66 and German born. I expect if K remembered we were coming, she may have put on a bra. There was way too much information to be seen. They have both been married and have children. Their house is nice and comfortable, albeit a little dated. We had never really seen outside. Surrounded by bushland their garden has azaleas, rhododendrons, roses, dailhas, magnolias. It was looking stunning and although the block of land is steep, there is a levelled back garden lawn. We were shown through their three 'She workshops', sheds mostly used by K, full of tools, gardening equipment, paints and crafts.  There were four separate abundant vegetable gardens.

They are both very well travelled, having lived in Paris for three months and visited countries all over the world. They have a modest car and a huge but quite old and functional campervan and travel often around Australia. Their dogs Marks and Sparks died a few years ago and they don't want another pet. I get that. They both play table tennis and C is a member of a walking group and a choir.

We were there for about three hours and had a wonderful time with them reminiscing, but mostly catching up on our respective lives. C said, we normally try to keep conversations with friends to about medical problems to fifteen minutes but it was something we kept revisiting. There was a lot of travel chat, and oh how we all laughed throughout the afternoon.

We returned in evening peak stop start hideous traffic but we had so enjoyed the afternoon, it didn't matter and we were home a little after six.

Then down came heavy rain and hail. I guess this photo of Dame M was taken about 2006 when The Mountain Women hosted us for a barbeque on their decked terrace. It's so hard to believe it was 14 years ago.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Not Town Hall Tuesday

I've taken the photos but not got it all together yet. Next week.

Once again Yarra Trams' vehicles were not running. R was out with the car at his volunteer job and I am not going to stay at home all day. While the gentle slope up Toorak Road is nothing like the hilly steep streets of Sydney, I struggled. I sat for a couple of minutes as I crested the hill but it was easier on the downhill walk from there to South Yarra Station where I could get a train to the city.

I was at one of my favourite outdoor coffee places when a noddy came in. A noddy in this case was not a paying customer and I wouldn't expect the young Asian lasses staff to do anything about him. He was affected by heroin. I've seen it many times. They nod their heads down, then suddenly sit up. Repeat and rinse. In my experience they are never aggressive or dangerous.

He sat on a stool and almost fell backwards but noddies always seem to pick themselves up, and he did. He moved to another table and nearly fell head first onto the table, but once again he picked himself up.

Then he came and sat next to me. I met the eyes of the stylish looking woman opposite me and we did a mutual eye roll and then she smiled.

Omg, his head was falling sideways and about to land in my lap. I moved along the bench and tapped him on the shoulder and said to him, Sit up man. You ok? He  just looked blankly back at me.

The stylish woman sitting opposite me had clapped her hand over her mouth to suppress her laughter at my situation of the noddy's head landing in my lap.

Heroin Smackheads don't normally pose a threat to society unless they need money for their heroin where they will rob and steal.

Doctors should be able to write prescriptions for heroin for these wasters and let them get on with their wasteful lives, rather than have them commit crimes to fund their addiction.

Photos to make a post more interesting. I saw a 1956, I know the year because a person with mental health issues was talking to himself, Thunderbird. While the steering wheel is on the wrong side, what a classy old Yank Tank.

Monday, February 17, 2020

If ifs and and ands were pots and pans. Single X rated post

A lot of photos yesterday, so perhaps today some writing.

WWW wrote of someone who had died where she lives and wished that perhaps they had a connection. The post made me think about people who I could have connected with but did not. First to mind are the two women we dined, drank and laughed with over a scenic tour lunchtime cruise on The Seine. Why didn't I ask for their email addresses? Worse, I thought at the time, what is the point. Did I even go negative and refused to give them our eddress? I can't remember.

Then something more personal came to my mind. To protect his identity, I will call him Seth. Ah, that is a fail. His name is Seth. We worked together for a number of years. I recently discovered media celebrity Richard Wilkins' son Christian. Seth wasn't as pretty as Christian but of a similar build and with similar long hair.

If Seth was a child of 2000s he would be heavily tattooed and pierced. His body adornments were only severe burn scars on one arm as a result of a fire in a drug house where he had passed out. Seth could talk (crap at times) and I was enthralled at hearing of his bad boy adventures at such a young age. I really liked him as a person. He was actually a good guy and good at his job.

At a workmate's birthday dinner at a pub in perhaps the mid or late nineties Seth and I were chatting. He must have known I was gay as at work I sat at the tables where gay men congregated, along with their hangers on, Seth being one of them along with the old female aunties who pretended faux shock and found the company of wicked frankly speaking gay men far more interesting than the company of straight men. (So Joycey, how many ccks have you sat on in your life?  Her reply was a beer and a cigarette are better. She was the one who deliberately spilt hot soup over the rude US General MaCarthur during WWII at Victoria Barracks).

Seth was leaving work, about to be retrenched shortly after the birthday gathering. It was the beer wot dun it. I told him I would miss him, that I really liked him and that he was so so sexy. He reeled backwards. Fck, what have I done now, big mouth. He moved back towards me, pulled me into him and we kissed passionately for a long time. We didn't grope each other as would normally happen between two gay men, we just kissed. He asked, why haven't you ever told me that you liked me and wanted me? 

That would be because I didn't know he was gay or he would go with a man and I was in a relationship and I had little to offer apart from a half an hour or so of fun.

Maybe six years later I ran into him on a tram. He really hadn't changed and we had a warm conversation. Great to see you again were our parting words.

Of regrets I have a few but not following up on Seth before the days of mobile phones might be one of them.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Prahran Square

The redevelopment of an asphalt car park in the busy inner city area of Prahran into something quite different sent businesses to the wall. Our weekly shop was in Prahran but once the car park closed where we used to pay about $3 to use and we changed to South Melbourne with its free two hour car parking, we won't be going back to Prahran for weekly shopping, although we visit it often enough by tram to buy medications and other bits and pieces.

It is a huge space suitable for outdoor performances, but on a day to day basis, I am not so sure of its merits. Early days yet.

The car parking is now underground.

It was a hot day when we last visited and children were running under the water. What fun.

Temporary glitch with the lawn watering system. All was green the next time I saw the grass.

These slopes are puzzling. They are not at all suitable for an older person to walk up. They are both steep and angled.

My verdict, a great open space for evening performances, but only on a winter's day would you want to sit anywhere there with its huge unshaded spaces.