Saturday, September 12, 2020

Australian Open?

Dreaming that the Australian Tennis Open will go ahead next year. There haven't been banners on these poles promoting anything for months. I will be so happy if I can see the AO banners flying next year. Cafe Rosco has permanently closed but with another place not far away. McDonalds is closed and the hard to see Subway is still open.

Readin', writin' and 'rithmatic

Dora asked me for an explanation of our education system here in Australia. I can only speak for our state.

There is kindergarten to begin with at the age of three or four. This is almost like child care or creche. I don't think parents have to pay have to pay for kindergarten but probably they do for creche.

Proper education begins at the age of five with Prep Year. At six they will start level one and continue on until level six, where they will change to a secondary school or college at the age of twelve and continue their education for another six years to level twelve. There will be final exams for them in year twelve and depending on their results, may or may not get a good score to enter university. 

But within this they could attend a normal free state education for their whole education, or a private non religious or very religious school. My niece Jo is not unusual in that her early schooling was at a good state primary school but because she is pretty smart, her parents thought it would benefit her to attend a non religious private school. Of course she has barely been at school this year because of closures and she learns at home. She doesn't mind learning at home but does miss the social interaction at school. 

Further, it they do well with entrance exams, they could enter Melbourne Boys High or MacRobertson's Girls' High, respectively for boys and girls and schools for the gifted but funded by the state. 

Then there are a couple of government funded and private alternative secondary schools for the artistic and perhaps those who just don't fit into the normal education system. 

Teacher's Aids are provided for those students with disabilities but I am not sure that works terribly well.

Friday, September 11, 2020

US Health Care

 Well this should be interesting listening from the BBC. Maybe I will have some kind of understanding, but I doubt it.

The USA is the only rich democracy not to provide universal healthcare. After WW2 US President Harry Truman was horrified that only a fifth of all Americans could afford proper healthcare. Most middle class Americans had no private health insurance and many found medical fees unaffordable. He calculated that more than 300,000 people died every year because they couldn't pay for proper treatment. In 1945 he tried to persuade Congress to push through legislation for an insurance programme meaning all workers would pay for their healthcare through a monthly fee or tax. But the American Medical Association - representing doctors - employed a public relations firm to lobby against the move. Claire Bowes has been listening to archive material of Harry Truman and speaking to Jonathan Oberlander a Professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Photo: President Harry Truman in 1947 (courtesy of US National Archives) Archive material: courtesy of the Harry S Truman Library

You can listen to it here.

Friday Funny

Ok, this is not really funny at all with nearly 600 deaths from COVID in our Australian nursing homes. 

The brilliant Sammy J on Aged Care.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Break the law

Very misguided protesters who want to threaten my life and the lives of others in the community protested against our lock down last weekend. Well, they tried to. We have sacrificed so much under extreme lockdown, so why not continue down the path to ensure COVID is if not eliminated here, at least has minimal numbers.

They tried to gather at The Shrine of Remembrance and The Tan walking track and were hunted away by police. The tried to move their protest to Albert Park Lake but the police were on to them. A number were arrested. The cops gathered below. It was a bit scary to see so many armed police on our street corner.

I was attacked

We thought it was a raven on our balcony but turned out to be pied currawong. We hear them calling often enough. We had another currawong visit a couple of days later. Of all the birds we have seen on our balcony I don't think we have had a raven although they are plentiful. Maybe they don't like heights.

While out on my ISO walk yesterday afternoon I felt the flapping of wings nearby and a repeated clacking noise and it happened twice. I looked around and while the normal culprit of bird attacks on humans, our magpie and I could see one on the ground, there was a wattle bird sitting in a tree looking at me with malevolence in its eyes. Not a swooping magpie to be seen.

Once home I checked online and yes, wattle birds do swoop and make a clacking noise with their beaks. Unlike magpies, they don't make contact. Just as well.

It is spring here and the birds have younguns and are very protective.

I mentioned this to R once home and he said that there is magpie who has targeted him across the road twice. Odd that he had not told me. I am sure he would have it he felt it came seriously close.

The birds recognise people and if you are attacked once, there is a good chance the same bird will attack you again. 

So, if our hoop snakes, drop bears, poison spraying caterpillars, sharks, crocodiles, feral kangaroos, many lethal snakes and poisonous spiders don't get you, maybe our birds will. 

The Australian magpie is nothing like the European magpie.

The pied currawong. 

And he or she who attacked me, the red wattle bird.

Wednesday, September 09, 2020


Saturday we visited Prahran together and Prahran Square was so busy, but it was mostly kids playing and people walking through on their way to the supermarkets. Only one of us goes shopping as per government regulations. We bought a salad roll each and coffee and found a table to sit and eat. The umbrellas have been lowered to discourage people from sitting in the square and it was quite hot without shade.

Sunday we stopped off at Bay Street Port Melbourne for a supermarket sandwich and went on to the beach where we bought coffee. Mein gott was it busy at the beach. There were a couple of unmasked men near us and we did not hang around. We did not feel safe from germs.

But at Prahran on Saturday, I said to R, I am going up to the top to take photos and I will use the lift at the top to return to the basement car park. I'll meet you there. I didn't expect him to come up with me, but he did. The silver insects were sparkling in the sunlight. What a shame they are not sparkling in my photo.

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

How to ruin your image in two easy lessons

It is almost impossible to ignore sport nowadays as the media relentlessly shoves it down our throats. High flying sportspeople are tall poppies and are especially vulnerable to being cut down by the media and the public should they misbehave.

Not always but at times I do take some care when I write. You can say the same things in many ways and it is nice to read something a little more polished and elegant. I wonder if that happens with other languages. As you can see below, I made some serious rearrangements to my opening paragraph. Whether it is better, you be the judge.

In these times it impossible to ignore matters of sport. Especially vulnerable to being cut down as a tall poppy are the high flyers in the sporting world.

In these times it impossible to ignore matters of sport. High flying sportspeople are especially vulnerable to being cut down as tall pop

In these times it impossible to ignore matters of sport. High flying sportspeople are tall poppies especially vulnerable to being cut down should they (remove swear word and up)

In these times it impossible to ignore matters of sport. High flying sportspeople are tall poppies especially vulnerable to being cut down should they misbehave.

It is almost impossible to ignore sport nowadays. The media shoves it at us without relent. High flying sportspeople are tall poppies especially vulnerable to being cut down by the media and the public should they misbehave.

It is almost impossible to ignore sport nowadays as the media relentlessly shoves it down our throats. High flying sportspeople are tall poppies especially vulnerable to being cut down by the media and the public should they misbehave.

You've already guessed where I am going with this. You could hardly avoided the appalling behaviour a couple of days ago by Novak Djokovic. Up until this year I had a benign view of him. He was an excellent tennis player who only made headlines because of his tennis achievements. 

Then he arranged the tennis tour that led to a breakout of COVID infections among the players, including Djokovic himself and his wife. It was such irresponsible behaviour by a person in the public eye.

Now this awful incident where he slogged a tennis ball in anger without knowledge of where it would go and it hit a line judge.

I was assured that early in his career Roger Federer's behaviour wasn't always the best but his dad gave him a good talking to and so far as I know, his behaviour since on court has been impeccable. 

What we need to remember that these are essentially workplaces and tennis player behaviour would not be tolerated at all in any other workplace.....well, maybe on a football field.  Did the rot start with John McEnroe where bad behaviour began to be tolerated? 

Monday, September 07, 2020

Maudlin Monday

Friday night Ex Sis in Law's husband called R. They had a congenial chat and he wants our old sound bar that I was very doubtful about buying and I was proved right. It has a remote control and the bar sits under the tv with a large boom box speaker to sit behind us. The sound did not seem better than the tv and the sound from the boom box was deep and.........booming. We hated it. It is not often that I allow R to go off on such whims, but this was one time, $450 later. More money than sense comes to mind.

Anyway it is going to a good home, and when he finds out how useless it is, he will sell it on Ebay or Gumtree.

R then spoke to Ex Sis in Law and suddenly lock down stress got to him and he cracked up, but not for too long. I was worried about cracking up when I spoke to my doctor with my Telehealth phone call, but I kept it brief and business like. Poor R felt such shame as I tried to reassure him that it was ok to be emotional when your normal life has been stolen from you.

I doubt it is a coincidence that fifteen minutes after the phone call, Ex Sis in Law's son Fire Fighting Nephew sent us a message to ask if we would like to have a video chat with him, his wife and the their three week old Poppet the next day. 

We did on Saturday and it was nice. Poppet is one of those dream babies who feeds well, sleeps well and is calm, relaxed and rarely cries. 

Then Sunday night Hippie Niece video called with her twins. R was chuffed to receive the call. The twins have suddenly gained the ability to speak properly so no therapy needed. 

Meanwhile with a week to go to the end of lockdown, our Premier told us today that we will be locked down for two more weeks making it three more weeks. It is for the greater good and if it means we won't ever be locked down again, it is worth the price.

Sunday, September 06, 2020

Sunday Selections

I'm joining in with Elephant's Child and others for Sunday Selections.

Number 1 Queens Road behind us is a huge building but the first part of Queens Road is a modest little two laned street. The next Queens Road building is number 4 and looms over multiple lanes of traffic in Queens Road and Kingsway. 

Getting up close to Number Four there is this sphere. It has been suggested to me by a former Canberrarian that it is was made by the same sculptor as this one in Canberra.  

It was a nice change from walking my usual ISO walking streets. Lots of birds on the lake feeding away.

This is Mac.Robertson Girls' High School I walked past on my way home. Like Melbourne Boys' High School, it is a selective government school for our brightest and best. 

When we moved here some eighteen years ago, the student population was mostly white Anglo Saxon.

Over the years it has changed to being mostly students with sub continental, East Asian and South East Asian parents. It is all very well attending a posh private school, but these lasses are at this school because they are clever and will have a great education and succeed on merit and not which posh private school their parents could afford to send them to.

It is quite an attractive building.

If I came home and crossed two roads, I could spend about five minutes waiting for walk lights to get across the traffic sewer. On my way to the lake the traffic was so infrequent I could safely cross the roads illegally.

If you can do stairs, there is a footbridge, which most of the students at Mac.Rob use. Kingsway would normally be a sea of stationary traffic. 

When we moved here this was a neglected grassy park. It was reinvented to what we call, The Little Sandy Desert. Exercise equipment for seniors was installed a few years ago. While we used the equipment frequently and often, it is now cordoned off.