Wednesday, August 20, 2014


R: "Dearest, do you have anything you want to do today?"
Me: "No, not really, my love.You?"
R: "No."
Me: "We should go into to town to buy a get well card for Little Jo (with her broken arm). Did you know a public library has opened at Docklands? Perhaps we should have a look."
R: "We should take our e-waste to the recycling centre and the go to the big green hardware shed to buy some stone chips for the pot plant, a new plug for my bath and some white silicone sealant for my bathroom."
Me: "I doubt the recycling centre is open on Sunday." I checked online and it was.
Me: "Fine, as long as we can go somewhere for coffee."

Clearly some thought had gone into the day after all. I had been well and truly snookered.

Men, and they are always men, at what used to be the council tips were always gruff. Not so at City of Port Phillip recycling centre. A very pleasant chap told us where to stop to drop off our e-waste. We were the fourth car parked there dropping off e-waste. In the couple of minutes it took us to drop our stuff, four times as much was being dumped. I am so pleased people are using the e-waste facility but I also fear a lot is just dumped into landfill. Truly people, make an effort to ensure your e-waste is recycled.

Our e-waste consisted of old remote controls, our old vcr player and our first digital recorder, that was beautifully styled but kept failing because it overheated, our old computer modem and the not so old wireless router. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I like birds

Well, I like most birds, except the evil koel, pigeons, doves and seagulls.

I awoke about 4am and while car and tram noise don't penetrate my bedroom, a bird call was. Gosh it was loud. It must have been very nearby. What was it? I had never heard it before. I started a bit of online searching and then thought, too hard. If I really want to know, I will email Red Nomad who is knowledgeable about birds, her partner even more so.

Then I heard the same bird noise the next night. It wasn't as unpleasant as the call of the koel, but quite distinctive and as I said, loud. Did you know bird calls in the city are much louder than if they were in the country? They have to make themselves heard over city noises.

Right, I shall get down to searching out this bird noise. It did not take me too long to establish that it was a Pied Currawong. I recall that they were around when we stayed in Walhalla (its a nice post. Do check the link) last year, but I did not really notice their call. Apparently they are not unusual in Melbourne but I think they are unusual in this part of Melbourne.

Meanwhile, on a foggy Saturday a flock of sulphur crested cockatoos stopped by next door for a rest. There was a precise dozen, but one flew away before the shutter snapped.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Mr Darcy

Now, there is no doubt Colin Firth who played Mr Darcy is a handsome chap and his body was very nicely outlined as he emerged from swimming in lake but I find this sculpture quite ghastly. Thankfully it is only polystyrene and will soon disintegrate. Hmmm, I remember what happened when petrol leaked onto my father's polystyrene drink chiller. The polystyrene liquefied.

The sculpture has toured lakes in England and came to Australia (someone paid for this?) from Lyme Park in Cheshire. The Lyme Park estate was used as Mr Darcy's home.

Here he is in the lake at Lyme Park. Serpentine. The Age.

He appeared at Melbourne's Docklands. The Age.

At the historic Ripponlea estate in Melbourne. Both photos below by Martin Purslow.

The perfect opportunity to bury it into the Ripponlea lake mud was lost.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Melbourne Quiz

Dina from The Weird American Who's Obsessed with Australia alerted to me this quick Melbourne Quiz at The Age.

There are only ten questions and as a proud Melburnian naturally I got them all correct, well eight of the ten. Wrong was Melbourne's hottest day and the location of Batman Hill. I know exactly where Batman Hill was and can only claim I had just woken and I was half asleep.

Dog Jack is staying with us. While I woke bleary eyed and collapsed into the computer chair this morning after turning on the kettle and heating, Jack bounded out of bed, ran around and wanted me to throw his ball.  Why don't humans wake and bound out of bed? Well, some do I suppose, but no-one I know.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Our Treasurer Speaks, from his a***

Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey is increasing the tax on vehicle fuel. Fuel tax is not a bad way of controlling the use of cars, reducing traffic congestion and reducing pollution but it does hit the poor very hard.  Ok, not the very poor who can't afford a car, but the working poor and those for whom a government pension is their sole income, who live in outer areas and spend huge amounts on fuel for their cars each week. While I may fill my car fuel tank every two or three weeks, many of my workmates who travel a long way to work fill their cars every two or three days.

I could get quite good public transport to and from work, but using public transport would take a decent chunk of time out of my day with four trips a day, so I don't.

But fancy Treasurer Hockey saying that the car fuel tax increase won't affect the poor, as they either don't have cars, or drive very little. There are many relatively poor people in Australia who are totally car dependant and drive cars as old as my 14 year old car. I suppose I could afford a new car, but I don't choose to buy one. It is not important to me. What about people in the country who aren't farmers and fuel is not an expense to write off? They too can clock up incredible distances.

Treasurer Hockey's stupid statement just shows how out of touch the Liberal Party, (= conservative, republican, tory) is with real people and their lives. 

Transport, history and a new tram

Grace from Perth Daily Photo mentioned that I must really love trains. Well, I kind of do. I like travelling on them. I like seeing steam trains smoke and belch steam. I even like diesel trains, spewing out their filth. I like trams too. A dyke friend from years past once told me she loved travelling on trams because they felt human. She thought trains felt like she was part of a mob of cattle being transported.

But there is the bigger picture of trains and trams, that is steam and then electric rail transport. They are such a very important part of our history. Many of our newer western cities, 19th century on, were formed by them. Rail transport made our cities what they now are. Getting a train or tram line to near where you lived involved lobbying, parliamentary inquiries, bribery and corruption and a whole lot more. If you were a land developer who wanted people to buy your new houses on a distant estate, just bribery and corruption and lobbying to get a train or tram line would suffice.

Generally now, the construction of rail transport is reactive, but there was a time when it was pro-active, where a railway encouraged settlement and growth of area.

This was written ages ago and unfinished but now seems to be the time to publish as Queensland's premier tourist area, the Gold Coast, has opened a brand new light rail line.

It runs from Griffith University Gold Coast Campus in the north to Broadbeach Waters in the south, with a possible future extension south to Coolangatta and north to Helensvale. I am not at all familiar with the Gold Coast, so I am unsure of the geography other than what I can see on a map.

There was fierce opposition to the project, especially  by local residents who became prolific letter writers to the Gold Coast Bulletin and some business owners but common sense won through. It was argued that trams, or light rail if you prefer, were terribly dangerous and would kill people. It was argued that no one would use it. Already patronage figures are higher than forecast. It was argued that it would be a drain on public funds. No, it is planned to run at a profit.

Does this look like a failed project?

 The Flexity 2 trams look very smart, built by Bombardier in Germany.

Yes, there have been issues with stupid old motorists.

Another one.

Last photo from ABC, the first three from the Gold Coast Bulletin. Below is my favourite, from the Port Stephens Examiner, showing a tram crossing the Nerang River bridge at Southport. I wonder if my Queensland correspondents, Diane and Bill, are planning a visit and ride soon.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Oh dear, resorting to cat videos again

Should any of my reader's cats appear to be getting bored, you could invest in a walker for their endless entertainment.

Cat number one doesn't quite grasp that he/she needs to walk faster. Cat two is a fast learner and quickly picked it up but was quite flighty and not really persistent. But cat one really stuck in there. He may not be the brightest spark but he is a real trier, gawd love him.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Up against the wall

R said he wanted it up against the wall. Whatever was he referring to? Oh, the tv. He got a little man in who did a good job and also got the leads into the wall. The wall has no timber studs, only metal straps and it was quite challenging. I am not going to tell you what the cost was. Even the spendthrift R said, it could wait when I suggested a new el cheapo dvd player for $50 with a remote control that worked. The only time the dvd is used is when Little Jo is here and we can control it manually from the front panel.

R is a little regretful he did not get it hard against the wall and instead it is on a swivel. Not wishing to spend any more money, I said it is fine and I actually like the way it appears to float, and I do.

Much work was done to the cabinet below that we intend replacing once we find the right thing. Some of the back was jigsawed out so that it will sit better against the wall. The cd stereogram was moved and looks much better and the speakers are now close to each other, giving much better sound. What you say? That is not correct? We once had monster speakers in our lounge room many years ago, and beautifully placed they were for the best possible sound quality. These horrid little tucked away speakers is an improvement.

There were the days in Glen Iris when we had to open the doors of the flame mahogany chiffonier to watch tv. When we sold the chiffonier and the rest of our antique furniture on consignment, the man said, some idiot has put holes in the back of it. Guilty. I had to get the wires through. Life has changed and I am not displeased with the change. Minimal works for us, even is Sister says it is cold.

Scrape marks had to be removed from the wall, pencil marks for the art work that was rehung at a higher level had to rubbed out. Inside surfaces were cleaned. Bits were rewired. We really like our efforts. The storage place is great for cds, none bought for a few years, dvds, same, video cassettes, we can still play them in R's bedroom on the combined dvd recorder/vcr player but why would we? What is interesting is all the cds and dvds that have mine or other people's writing on the them. I must go through them one day. There are some treasures there. We also put Little Jo's music together. For each of Little Jo's birthday's, Bone Doctor compiled a cd of her favourite music. We seem to missing year one, but maybe there wasn't one.

To the Port Phillip electric recycling centre will go numerous redundant remote controls, our first digital recorder and our last vcr. The first digital recorder was so nice looking. What a pity it just kept overheating. Our present one that we watch tv through, just works.

Oh yes, Beacon Lighting had our bedroom remote controlled overhead fan lights on special. I bought a new one to replace my not very old but defective and out of warranty model. The same day as the little man put the tv on the wall, a very cute young electrician fitted the new fan.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The King and I

I vaguely recall the Yul Brynner movie The King and I from years ago. I am not sure if I have seen it all. I certainly saw some of it. There is a musical production of the movie at the Princess'(sic) Theatre and I I will suggest it the most enjoyable musical I have ever seen. The sets, the costumes, the acting, the script, the cute kiddies, it all just worked so brilliantly and of course it is a great story. The only thing to mar the evening was the awful cramped seats. Thank you to David Marriner for saving and renovating the Princess' Theatre in the 1980s, but it is now in need of a another reno and new seats.

We caught trams to get there, but a taxi home. $14 dollars divided by 4 is nothing, and almost cheaper than the day ticket that would have ensued had we trammed it home. And we saved about half an hour.

We had limited time, so pre theatre we just ate some quite ok Chinese food in the Target arcade food court.

Speaking of food, two weeks ago we dined with our dyke friend and her ex at Moor's Head in Elsternwick. It was quite nice but the $40 bottle of Lebanese wine was not so good. It is a trendy place and quite busy. I liked it.

This Saturday night past, we ate at The Potsticker, an Asian restaurant in Hawthorn Road Caulfield. I remember the place as Millers Bar & Grill. It was huge back then, occupying what is around four shops now. The Potsticker was terrific, great service and nice food.

Walking up Little Bourke Street, or was it looking down. I can't recall.

This is such an ugly Bourke Street building, but somewhat improved with some rather gaudy night time lighting.

The ceiling of the Princess' Theatre.

The curtain of The King and I.

Two monks to the left and two to right burning incense created atmosphere before the curtain went up.

At interval I noticed a pair of poles to introduce people to China Town, in Little Bourke Street. Behind is ICI House, now Orica. It was built in 1958 and was the tallest building in Australia. It was known as the Tear Drop Building as it cried tears of glass as the windows fell out.

I refuse to buy theatre programmes full of advertising now, but R will fork out $20 for them. They are looked at then filed away, never to be seen again.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Minister for Tall Towers

The large Melbourne industrial area known as Fishermens Bend very close to the city is set to become another disaster, like Docklands is widely recognised to be. Planning Minister Matthew Guy is travelling the absurd path of 'recommended height limits' when redevelopment begins. To quote him, Mr Guy said the plan's recommended heights would guide developers for what to build where.

"The indicative heights give a good guide to what we'd like to see,’’ he said.

In other words, free reign for developers, probably overseas investors, to maximise their profit from a given site. If someone knows of an area that has recommended height limits without buildings taller than the recommendations, then I'll eat my hat. Recommended height limits are a farce, as anyone involved already knows.

Like Docklands, we will see the worst of laissez-faire capitalism, just as we have seen at Docklands. Such a development can not be reversed in the short to medium term and we will be stuck with what is built, a soulless forest of second rate tall towers with turbulent winds blasting down the wind passages of streets multiplied by several square kilometres.

I didn't think we would see a worse Planning Minister than the previous Justin Madden, but our current minister Matthew Guy has quickly earnt himself both titles of the Dodgy Minister, with the Phillip Island business which ended up costing we taxpayers, and the Minister for Tall Towers. And he has ambitions to be Premier of our state? Haha.

Whether property developer donations to political parties are to blame remains an unanswered question.