Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Let's talk about the weather

I don't know that Melburnians are more fixated on the weather than folk elsewhere but our weather is part of our daily conversation, often beginning with the words 'It's too...". Could be too hot, cold, wet, humid, windy and so forth. I recall remarking on someone's blog that their northern hemisphere season seemed to change very abruptly. I spoke too soon, as exactly that has happened here.

On the 11th September we had our first 20 (70) degree day with a jump of 5 degrees. Two days later we cracked 25 (80). By the 23rd, we had dropped back to 12 (54) degrees.

Yesterday was 35 (just short of 100) and today is forecast to be 35 before a cool change. What happened to spring? Of course this is nothing to do with global warming.

Our heat comes when a strong north wind blows the heat down from inland Australia, and at this time of year also rye grass pollen which drives people with hayfever crazy.

Here's a photo, taken a few weeks ago, to brighten things up. The tree closest to the lens is a London plane tree with new leaves appearing. Further is an elm which has just burst into seed, or elm hops as I call them. The hops are now nearly all brown and dry and are flying around in the wind like confetti. They even get caught in updraughts and end up on our balcony, gathering in corners. These couple of very hot days will probably see them all gone and the new elm leaves will appear, faced with searing winds and scorching hot sun. Deciduous European trees really do it tough in Australia.

I'll just end with this, we could do with a bit of rain though.

Monday, October 05, 2015


Today I wondered about:

I am just looking at reviews of the hotel we will be staying in later this month. Why when people book a 3.5 star hotel do they then expect it to be in a 5 star hotel?

Such botheration about last Friday being called as a public holiday on the eve of our football grand final, and therefore costing businesses a lot more in wages if they stay open. Regardless of the merits of the day being a public holiday or not, aren't businesses supposed to be closed on public holidays? It was businesses that fought for the right to open on public holidays and now they just moan on and on about their greedy staff receiving penalty rates if they have to work on that day.

Uber? I am an infrequent taxi user and I have never bothered with Uber. Taxi passengers complain a lot about taxis, no doubt with some justification and many praise this new Uber entrant into the transport system. But isn't Uber turning the clock back to a less regulated time? Taxis are highly regulated, and for good reason. Time will tell and is interesting that in our state Uber drivers as illegal taxis are not being prosecuted but in New South Wales they  are.

Musical Monday

Joining with River for Musical Monday.

I just heard a little of this on the radio. I suppose I must have heard it before as it sounded familiar. I quite liked it and noted the name of the singer when it was back announced. His name is Tanita Tikram. That sounded a bit of a girlie name for a bloke, but no mistaking the voice, it is a bloke, so I thought.

Go to You Tube to have a listen. A still on the clip with a female picture. Some googling is required. Oh, it is a woman. Tikram is a British performer who was born in Munster, Germany. I am hopeless. The song was released in 1988 and I've just noticed it. Wikipedia says she has a husky voice, I'll vouch for that, and her lyrics are poetic and somewhat obscure.

Tanita Tikram with Twist in my Sobriety.

Later edit: It will probably only Australians will know of the entertainer Kamahl, but as per a comment by James, Tanita is Kamahl's niece.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Heard on a tram

There must be a majority of Aborigines who live perfectly normal white Australian type lives, or traditional and semi traditional lives and they go unnoticed. However there is a very visible Aborigine, seen on the street, at times drunk and in Melbourne they can often be seen on the tram between the city and St Kilda, specifically the Gatwick boarding house. You can see how other people on the tram cringe when a loud and drunk few board a tram. It is eyes down to your phone or book, stare distantly out the window or discreetly move if they sit near you, lest you are inveigled into absurd conversation.

Often the women are louder and more belligerently vocal than the men (less drunk?) And so I found myself sitting on the seat behind such a trio, two blokes with one woman, all slovenly dressed. Earlier I had noticed a black guy with a white girl board the tram. They were now unfortunately now sitting in front of seemingly drunk aborigines. He was very handsome and I had no idea of his origins. He was not tall and did not look African but nor did he look Indian. He may even have been Aboriginal too. I did not see his face for long but he had a wide nose. The girl he was with was also attractive, both dressed in the height of stylish casual fashion.

I was torn between shrinking down into my seat or slapping my hand over my mouth to cover my smirking when the Aboriginal woman said to one of her companions as the couple rose to leave the tram at the next stop,

"Hey Charlie, you'd be right with 'er. She likes a bit o' black dick". Probably you had to be there, but I was in equal measure horrified and amused.

If you are reading this, a two night and three day visit by Sister, Bone Doctor and Little Jo has taken its toll and Sunday Selections may appear later or may not at all.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

For the lexicon

We don't always recall when we first heard a new word, so I am putting this new term on the record. I first saw it in print a couple of days ago in this blog post at Fitzroyality.

Then lo and behold, I heard the same term on the radio the next day. Am I always the last to know? I don't get out much.

The word? Gooniebag. It refers to the bladder inside a wine cask. Some of you foreign overseas types may not be familiar with wine casks but Australians of my age know them well enough. Some of us have moved on from casks but I have a good reason for not doing so. While I do at times drink bottled wine, an excess of bottled wine causes me allergy problems. There is something in bottled wine that does not seem to be in cask wine, so at home I drink cask wine. Some of you may know it as a bag in a box wine or just box wine.

You are never going to get good wine in a gooniebag but some of it is quite drinkable. It can be incredibly cheap and can be had for at its cheapest and worst for perhaps $15 for four litres. If you still don't quite get what a gooniebag is, here is a photo from Wikipedia. For better or worse, it is an Australian invention, fifty years ago in the state of South Australia.

In some circles the cask has replaced Bex Powders as the house wife's friend, leading to mothers collecting their children from school and then being pulled over by the police and found to be driving over the alcohol limit. They are also a cheap way for teenagers to get drunk and at their price, very cheap alcohol for our indigenous to buy. The gooniebag might be an Australian invention, but I am not sure that it is too much to our credit.

Friday, October 02, 2015

A loiter to the lake

We looked after Little Jo for a few hours while Sister and Bone Doctor went to the VFL football grand final. We did not want her in front of screens all afternoon, so we took her and Dog Jack for a walk to Albert Park Lake. She couldn't remember when we took her a few years ago and nor could she remember that there is a kiosk that sells icecreams.

The lake was very busy with people exercising, strolling (us) and picnicking.  A group of Moslem women huddled together chatting while a couple of teenage girls delivered their barbequed food from where the men all stood eating around the barbeque. Reminded me the Australia of the 1950s.

It is vorboten  but I did take a slice of bread for Little Jo feed the swans and other birds (swamp hens, I seem to recall).

The kiosk has just been turned into a cafe and the ice cream freezer would not be installed until the next day, so Little Jo had to make do with a milkshake and us, coffee.

People are now so used to seeing Sulphur Crested Cockatoos in the inner suburbs, no one takes much notice of them. This lonely cocky was squawking away, raising his crest, swinging 360 degrees around branches and flapping his wings and I was the only person taking an interest.

I am writing this Thursday morning and already today I have seen three black cockatoos fly past, I saw a whole flock a week ago, and a pair of  corellas. It is soon Aussie Backyard Bird Count but I don't seem to fit into any category to participate.

This different cockatoo seemed tame, unalarmed in spite of having Dog Jack on a leash as we walked past. A man was busy with tripod camera to photograph it.

It was very pleasant hour or so spent on a lovely fine day.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

One for the bulls

Spain’s Battle for the Bull

Spain's national bullfighting association has warned that the tradition is in crisis. Neal Razzell reports.
I don't know if the link will work and I haven't listened to the podcast yet, but I can only say hip hip hooray.
From BBC documentaries. 

3 Rs

This is an interesting table, although nearly ten years old now. It disturbs me that literacy in Tasmania is significantly lower than on the mainland. I would have thought the opposite, with the state perhaps having smaller schools and more individual attention for students. I have noted this matter before and I'd be interested in opinions. I have seen other more recent statistics painting a far bleaker picture of Tasmania's literacy problem.

I am a little surprised that states with high indigenous populations aren't so different to those states that don't, but numbers of indigenous people may not be large enough to tell the true story.

Level one is the lowest score, say people who can't even read the dose information a a bottle of medicine. Level 3 is what is needed to fully function in society. I would put most of us who have blogs at level 4. Level 5? Can you process in your mind a legal document as you read it?

Document Literacy Scale, By State, Territory and Australia - 2006

Level 1
Level 2
Level 3
Level 4/5
State or Territory

New South Wales
South Australia
Western Australia
Northern Territory
Australian Capital Territory

Although I don't know literacy rates for other countries, a figure of nearly 20% with very low literacy is disturbing.  Let's blame teachers, that is the people at the coal face and not management and policy makers.

I've just looked at some Wikepedia statistics for world literacy and the test is quite rudimentary, judged by results of say Australia at 96% and Antigua at 99%, but Germany gets 99%, Austria 98%, Norway 100%, Netherlands 99%. Let us go to the U countries, United Kingdom and the United States. Impressively and surprising to me, both 99%. Thou shall not judge a country by its text speak.

My conclusion, Australia performs very poorly in world literacy stakes and it is simply not good enough.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Connecting you now caller

It took 25 minutes to drive to the Officeworks in Glen Waverley, the only place in the world that had any stock of Samsung Galaxy S6, the phone I bought.

We were greeted at the door by a lad who may have had a slight disability, perhaps a little autistic, but he was great. He knew what he was talking about, quickly found the phone that was put away for me to collect and helped with a couple of questions I still had. I can only reiterate, it not the staff that are the real service issue in Australia, it is management. The lad processed the payment with a hand held credit card reader and we were off up the road to the Telstra shop. I had checked that there was one at The Glen shopping centre. I have not been there since the early nineties when I had an outfit for Mardi Gras altered by a women in the centre who had been recommended to me. I can't recall how I had a pair of brief lycra shorts altered. It was a long time ago. Knowing me back then, it was probably to make them more brief and accentuate something.

We were checking The Glen store directory to find the Telstra shop when a woman of Asian appearance came up to us and asked if she could help.  She may have had a slight disability, perhaps a little autistic. Seems to be a theme happening here. Nevertheless, she knew The Glen well and gave us precise directions to the shop which was not far away. I was cross with myself for being suspicious of her helpfulness.

The Telstra lass was so nice. 'Of course we can put a nano SIM card in your phone. I will transfer your contacts as well. Come back in five minutes. The porting between your old card and new card will take twenty minutes but you don't need to hang around for that.' My  only criticism is she did not tell me the PIN for the SIM card, and I had to search a bit on the net to find out it was the last four digits of my PUK, which I found at my online Telstra account.

R said he would drive home and it only took twenty minutes on City Link, while I played with my new and quite lovely phone.

My old S3 went out of service but my new one did not come on twenty minutes later. A couple of hours later I called Telstra. I was cross with myself when the lass on the phone said, your phone is showing as being ported. Turn your phone off and then on again and if that does not work, here is a number to call.  Of course it worked after a restart. I could have stuck a knife in my forehead for not doing that before I called.

There are some great things about the new phone and some negatives and the interaction between my left nipple and my new phone is a problematic tale that will have to wait.

I took a photo of the new phone, but the one from the Samsung website is so much better.

R reckons the back of my phone is made of glass. He may be right. 

Bone Doctor arrived at noon on Sunday after riding her bike in training for Around the Bay from Sorrento. Sister and Little Jo arrived by car soon after and we entertained Little Jo while they went off to the VFL grand final football match. We had take away Thai food for dinner and they left, leaving us only with Dog Jack. Our Dyke Friend collected him today and The Highrise is now finally and blissfully quiet and I have time to write blog posts and play with my new toy.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Next Door

I didn't believe it. My alarm was set for 5.30 am Thursday morning but at 5.15 I was woken by the noise of a jack hammer and then later a concrete saw started up and began cutting. It must be some emergency work, I thought. As I left for work I looked around the streets and I had checked from the balcony but could see nothing.

I asked R later if he was woken by the noise and he said no. He suggested something was happening next door with air con plant. There was nothing to see.

Blow my feather down, the same thing the next morning and these bits appeared on the roof, along with a couple of chairs on the left of the photo. This time the jack hammer did wake R.

Saturday night we could see lights on in the plant room when we went to bed. Sunday morning these had appeared, replacement units of the above.

Incredibly the old air con unit had been lifted out and a new one dropped into position. This is a huge unit and the things on the roof above look like they are very heavy, so there is only one conclusion, while we slept a crane was set up and lifted things in and out  and we did not even know. I had my blind up as well. How could we have slept through the inevitable noise?

I could scarcely believe this could all happen just metres from our bedroom windows and neither of us was woken. And why was it necessary to jack hammer and cut concrete out of work hours the previous days?

Nothing happened Sunday night but Monday morning the pump looking things had disappeared from the roof and no doubt things were being connected up. Workers were having a smoko break. Smoko if you don't know is a break for workers to have a cigarette and rest, and in the days of old the time to roll their cigarettes. I am not sure how wide spread the usage is, but Tradie Brother takes 'smoko' to work, his morning tea to have during the break.

I just hope the new unit is quiet.