Thursday, January 29, 2015

Save the idots from the bullets

Two very foolish Australian lads are on death row in Indonesia. They were convicted of importing drugs into the country. Haha, as R would say, that is like taking coal to Newcastle, that is Newcastle upon Tyne or Newcastle upon Hunter.

Most countries don't like people importing drugs and have varying penalties if the carriers are caught. But in this case, the punishment seems to exceed the crime. The pair, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, killed no one, raped no one, did not abuse a child or torture a kitten. It could be argued that they might be indirectly responsible for deaths from drugs, but you can hardly be found guilty of a crime of the future that has not been committed. Never mind, it seems their end in nigh and Indonesia will shoot them dead.

The intrigues of government diplomacy are no doubt working overtime and it would be very interesting to know, but we won't. 

It probably matters little to the new president of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, but I think I will go to my grave thinking badly of Indonesia if the country kills these two lads, who were stupid and no doubt saw an adventurous way to make a quick buck. What is a faithful Moslem in Indonesia who molests a child sentenced to, I wonder.



Teaser

A teaser for a future post.

It requires a very local knowledge but does anyone know where this caravan park is located? It is less than hour from the city.


The Journey of Eels

Do you like eels? I don't very much. They are bit too snake like for me. I've seen them feeding in a seething mass like this and it was the stuff of nightmares.

Photo of eels in Victoria's Royal Botanic Gardens from Wikpedia taken byfir0002  flagstaffotos.com.au


I have eaten smoked eel when I was much younger, but I did not like the taste. Pie and mash with eels at a pub in Greenwich, yuk.


However, Melbourne's resident eels in the lake at the Royal Botanic Gardens, short finned eels, have a quite fascinating life cycle. They can breathe through their skin, and so survive in mud pools and they can exude a mucous like substance from the skin, enabling them to travel overland in damp conditions.

Once mature, they are drawn towards flowing water, in this case Melbourne's Yarra River, travelling either the short distance overland in appropriately damp conditions or using connecting drains. Fat and full of rich oil, they cease feeding and their digestive tract shrivels and for the rest of the lives they will not eat. They make their way down river, dodging container ships on the way, into Port Phillip Bay and out through the heads into Bass Strait, and then across the Tasman Sea to pass south of New Zealand's south island.

They then take a northward course at a distance from New Zealand's east coast to New Caledonia where they mate in the place where they were born, lay their eggs and then die. They have travelled around 4000 kilometres.

The eggs hatch into a larva, which then drifts on the currents towards the north east coast of Australia. As they drift they mature into 'glass eels', quite transparent but now in the shape of an eel. Down the east coast of Australia they travel, not yet eating. They smell fresh water and head into the coastal estuaries and find a river, possibly the one where their parents came from. At full moon when there is a flood tide, they make their way into the river. In our case, they will keep going right down the coast to the south of Australia and into Port Phillip Bay where they will find the mouth of the Yarra River and end up like their parents in the lake of the Royal Botanic Gardens. By this time they have matured into elvers and developed a digestive system and so the cycle begins again as they mature and fatten.

Of course any fresh water source along the east coast of Australia will attract them and they are able to climb waterfalls and at times end up in isolated dams.

For such a small brained creature, what a truly amazing fish they are.

Obviously England has eels, as does Europe and I don't know about America. I wonder where they all breed? I've no idea where it is, but do I have a faint recollection of the Sargasso Sea?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Moths flying from my wallet

In some ways we have an expensive lifestyle, but in other ways we live quite cheaply. I rarely spend money on myself. Most of my big expenditure is on things R wants, which is fine. I need a good push to spend money.

The credit card received a good bash today and really it was also at R's urging. Apart from a ripped interior lining, there was nothing wrong with my old suitcase. It had wheels, an extendible handle and it had served me well and no reason to retire it. But how light this Antler suitcase is in Strandbags, reduced to half its usual price, strong, with four wheels and a combination lock. I had never really noticed how heavy my old case was. The salesperson did not say the new case would see me out, but I expect it will. I can afford $160 for a new suitcase, I suppose.

Antler is celebrating its 100th birthday.



But that was after spending nearly $600 on something that I have kind of wanted, and I now consider essential for travelling after lugging the heavy notebook and its transformer all over Europe and England, a top of the range Samsung tablet. I just casually enquired of the salesperson about a case for it, and looked at a few on a wall. I casually enquired about a plug in with a USB plug at the end. While I prevaricated, R stepped up and yes, he will have those as well. I had done my internet research and the tablet was a good price, just over $500, and the salesman discounted the case nicely and I am not sorry to have the $12 USB connecting plug.

But here I am, writing on the desktop computer which has been upgraded and repaired a couple of times and is probably like grandfather's axe, with the head and the handle replaced many times but it is still grandfather's axe.  The desktop case must be a decade old, at least.

Although R has a tablet and they are like using a large smart phone really, I am still on steep learning curve. Would you believe once I connected it to our wi-fi signal, after asking for permission, it downloaded all the apps I already have on my phone. These devices can be too damn smart at times.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Fairfield

There is a suburb in the north of Melbourne called Fairfield. R, I asked, let's catch the train to Fairfield and have lunch. I knew nothing of Fairfield, except, there were some old memories.

My first boyfriend was R's ex. His mother lived in a cheap flatblock at the corner Carlisle and Barkly Streets in St Kilda. The block is still there, but has been upgraded. He introduced his mother to me as Sue, The St Kilda Do. I, the innocent naive country lad, was so shocked that he could speak about his mother in such a manner. She was pretty rough around the edges and had married a wharf worker at a young age and produced many children. Behind the clouds of Ardarth cigarette smoke, she was nice enough and certainly a fun person.

I recall taking her to bingo once, in Wright Street, Middle Park, in a church hall or something like that. That was my first and last experience of bingo.

I can't remember too much but it was back in the days when Punt Road had a centre lane which changed direction according to traffic flow. The traffic was horrendous and it took ages to get along Punt Road and Hoddle Street. Hey, what has changed in 30 years? I was taking her to her daughter's place in Fairfield. My boyfriend, the daughter's brother, was already there. I think her name was Gail and her husband was Ron. Maybe, I am really not sure. They had a brand new Datsun 180B and took us to a bakery in Station Street to buy lunch. Well, we all would not have fitted in the car, so I can't really remember the details.

So say in about 1979, I did visit Station Street, Fairfield but as you would guess, it was pretty well a new experience to visit Station Street in 2015.

We walked the length of most of the shops and I stopped while R walked to the very end. No sooner than I was alone, a middle aged woman asked me if I was with anyone. I replied yes and wandered away. Unknown to me, R had looked back and saw her speak to me. When he returned he asked who it was. I replied, I think I was just propositioned.

We found a bakery type cafe and I had the best pastie I have ever eaten. Well done Deganis. Look out, here comes your girlfriend, R remarked. I caught her eye and she gave not a flicker of recognition. We only spent an hour and half in the street before catching the train back to town for a little shopping.

The very handsome 333 Collins Street, taken from Flinders Street. 


Flinders Street Station has a fascinating history. There are so many locked doors and areas and rooms that are no longer in use.


Fido watches over Station Street, near the station. I believe he is internally illuminated, which must be a little interesting to see.


The street was very very busy.


Unknown by me until we were leaving, there are even more shops and cafes on the other side of the railway line.



The outbound station platform.


What an extraordinary device. I believe it is called 'selfie stick'. Did you receive one as a gift for Christmas?


Station Street did not turn out to be very photogenic, but it was interesting to see.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The 26th

Happy Australia Day and Happy India Independence Day. I forgot to write something appropriate for Australia Day, so here is a belated attempt.

Victor wrote a very reasonable post about PM Abbott knighting HRH Prince Phillip. I shan't be reasonable about it. The Abbott is a tosser.

Is it just me or does this Australia Day seem less jingoistic than the last few? The only sign on the streets seen by me that it is Australia Day was two cars with Australian flags attached to them.

At an Australia Day barbeque today, one person put forth that Australians are now too scared of Moslems to overtly celebrate the day. Not so sure about that but possible. I liked the more restrained Australia Day.

Also at the barbeque was an acquaintance born in India. Not our Fijian/Indian friend, I hasten to add. He objected to being called mate by all and sundry. R gave him a serve about him being un-Australian and he ameliorated it to being called mate by Indian Australians.

Hope your day was good and lift your glass to Australia, a country stolen from its owners by colonialists but it is my country now. 

Un peu de fran├žais est une chose dangereuse

I regretted saying so, but I said, my love, my pet, you need help with the shopping. Don't do it on Saturday as you normally do. I am not working on Sunday and we will both go.

Tran Bakery in Chapel Street has re-opened and I am pleased about that. Closed for renovations only resulted in the walls being repainted. We sat outside and consumed our sandwich and good coffee.

It being a holiday weekend, Australia Day, there were some trashy people around the streets. A gorgeous big blond youth who was clearly still on a high from his drugs the night before,  paused at our outdoor table and said to me, Bon jour,  bon appetit Monsieur as I was biting into my sandwich. I automatically replied, merci, mon ami. I should have replied, merci, mon cher.

While my back was now to him, R described how the guy stepped out into traffic and stopped the cars in the street. A motorist who gave him a toot of his horn which resulted in the guy going to the front of his car and stare at the man through his windscreen. The poor lad was so wasted.

Later I mentioned to R, that French guy was pretty hot. R said, what makes you think he was French? I said he spoke to me in French. He said bon appetit. R said back, that doesn't mean he is French.

Suppose it doesn't. Anyone can say that and R spoiled my French fantasy.

Sunday Supplement (do not adjust your set. It is Monday, here at least)

I can be a nasty piece of work at times, but I am always perfectly polite. I was walking along a street and this woman made a cutting comment to me which is playing on mind. To keep it kind of anonymous, let me call it by the fictitious name of Edsall Street. I was walking in a straight line along the street when she stepped back from the street bank teller machine. Where she was going to walk on to was vague, so I just kept walking. After I dodged around her, she said something like, please go first. I was well past by then. I was so annoyed because she was accusing me of doing something wrong and I did nothing wrong but walk along the footpath, head down but not looking at my phone. Surely if you step back onto the street from a teller machine, you look out for who might be walking past?

The invented Edsall Street runs off a major street, and let me just use the anonymous title of Glenferrie Road. Let me think of an anon suburb name. Ok, let's call it Malvern on the cusp of Armadale. It wasn't always so, but Malvern has become a quite Jewish area now. The Jews of Malvern are not the ones who wear weird clothing and head gear. No, just very middle class people who might happen to say shalom instead of hello.

I was walking past a bakery and a couple who seemed to be well out of their area were complaining to each other that Glick's Bakery in the imaginary Glenferrie Road was closed. In a loud voice he said, must be making too much money and close on Saturday.

This caused me to run through my head everyone who I know and who would know why Glick's Bakery is closed on Saturday. With a couple of exceptions, most of our friends would know why a Jewish business is closed on Saturday,  a day of rest and worship like Sunday is for Christians. I then ran through my head my family. Most would not. R would, Sister and Bone Doctor would but the rest which numbers rather a lot would not have a clue.

Why is this so?

I have always worked with people from all over the world. R and myself lived in a Jewish area. We have had close contact with Jewish people. I shan't say the cliche some of my best friends are Jewish, but possibly some are my best friends are Jewish. The Jewish people I know don't wear their religion or race on their sleeve which is rather how I like people to be about their religion especially.

Never confirmed, but I was told my nephew's partner is Jewish. She is a gorgeous blonde and after I was told she is Jewish, I can see it in her face.

You know how areas where gay people tend to cluster then become fashionable to others, prices rise and often they then become ungay, but just off hand, I can think of a few areas where that has happened but preceding being a gay area, it was a Jewish area. I wonder if this applies in other countries around the world?

While Judaism is being dragged kicking and screaming into official acceptance of gay people, as are other religions, I've always thought generally gay people and Jewish people kind of had a connection. Yep, Jews wore a yellow star, gays wore a pink triangle. They often met similar fates under Herr Hitler.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Cross off Bondi Beach

Oh, nothing prepared for Sunday. So busy. Here is something I wrote earlier when I was cross.

Dear Minister Transport Minister Berejiklian,

We are visiting your fair city in March and meeting up with a visitor to Sydney from Japan. Sydney is a terrific city for tourists and with some pride we will show her the sights, many of which we have already showed other overseas visitors.

But disappointingly for her, and us really, we will not take her to Bondi Beach because of the horrendous bus trip from Bondi Junction to Bondi Beach. We have taken the trip after alighting from the train at Bondi Junction many times in the past, our first in 1983, and each time it just gets worse. The last time was so horrendous we vowed to never to it again, with trying to return to Bondi Junction the absolute worst. We are not wealthy people, but gave up and caught a taxi back to our hotel.

We have used public transport in many countries around the world, and believe me, nothing quite compares to trying to get from Bondi Junction to Bondi Beach by bus, and back again.

It is unbelievable to me that the quite efficient train ends at Bondi Junction and does not continue to Bondi Beach. Do you have plans, Minister?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Holiday Plans

As if it is not enough to plan one holiday, we are planning two. Our Friend in Japan will be in Sydney on work related business in March, so we plan to have a few days Sydney side to catch up with her and hopefully catch up with Victor and see some sights of course.

I was looking at the website of the hotel where we stayed for our last visit, unbelievably five years ago, and it is all much the same. We were upgraded from a small studio to a large studio with a balcony, so of course this is what we want this time. Although the website indicated one price, quite cheap given the standard and location, when I began booking, a different figure was coming up. I called and queried it. Amazingly the same woman is still running it the show. She explained the price was higher because of a post Mardi Gras conference. Oh well, I bit the bullet and paid the higher price. R has looked at airfares and they are very cheap. I have refused to fly Tiger as I have too many real tales of woe, not just minor whinges.

As for Canada, that part has been booked, our tour, a combination of train and coach, accommodation in Toronto, flights from Melbourne to Vancouver via Hong Kong, (avoiding LA airport), from Vancouver to Toronto, Toronto to New York, and home, again via Hong Kong from NY Newark Airport.

But we really have struggled with New York accommodation. I sought from the aforementioned Victor details of his accommodation when he and his companion stayed in NY last year. The price was very good and the two bedroom apartment looked comfortable. But the price Victor paid was very cheap compared to what we would have to pay, it being the peak of the summer season.

Our travel agent gave us many hotel suggestions which we looked at last year and thought we will worry about it after Christmas, as many do. Guess what. The prices had risen substantially, not helped by our dollar falling against the US dollar. And apparently we have a most expensive and unreasonable requirement of a hotel, two separate beds. The concept of twin share does not seem to apply at all in NY. (So the Brady Bunch was a lie? Married people in the US do sleep in the same bed?) The only option our agent and us too could find is two double beds, which added substantially to the price. It was all becoming a bit much for us as money seemed to be draining away at a rapid rate. Blood pressure and tempers rose if NY was brought up.

While we had discounted where Victor stayed, with two bedrooms being far more than what we wanted, we thought to have a look at what else this website, vrbo.com had to offer, and although we have not chosen a place as yet, there are some excellent properties at prices much cheaper than a hotel room. I have just learnt  vrbo stands for Vacation Rental by Owner, so I guess it is not so terribly different to Airbnb.

VRBO is quite good because after you choose your location, you narrow it down by filters. In our case, Times Square, three beds, which gives us separate beds,  air con, and wi-fi. We have now selected a place and we are awaiting a response from the owner, but all the info was there. We are just checking there is someone who will respond.

The price for the week is about $1000 cheaper than hotels we were looking at.