Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sunday Selections

Joining in with River and others for Sunday Selections. At the exact time this is published, our pilot should be pulling hard on his joystick as we take off from Melbourne Airport. What were we on when we decided the cheap 5am flight was a good idea? We'll be away for a few weeks. I may be able to drop in a comment on your blog posts, but as usual, I don't blog when I am on holidays.

This is not quite as I remember a Sandman panel van, aka a shagging wagon. As the saying used to go, if the van's a rocking, don't bother knocking.

Mooma celebrates? I don't really know. It is carnival, nighttime fireworks and a street parade among other things. I guessing this was an Italian community entry to the parade. Valero was booming from speakers on the float.

Once known as the gay club Virgin Marys, after protests from the Catholic Church, it became VMs. It is now a straight club with a quite realistic parrot of some breed.

We shall never see this again. The City Square is closed to build Melbourne Metro Rail, an underground train line. I am sure it will not look the same when it is reopened in about five years. It is not a terrific space anyway.

I am sure the City Square resident dog Larry Latrobe will return.

Weekends often see yachts cruising the bay.

I really like the slogan on this ship. Whether it is true or not, who should judge.

Strange evening light a few weeks ago. Maybe it was because of smoke from controlled fire burns.

Well, at 11pm the day before our flight it seems I have some time on my hands. 

Nothing has happened with Mother's wiring as the electrician has gone to Queensland for a holiday. She is quite content with her supplementary lamps. ABI Brother is worried that I won't be able to pay from overseas or see the quotation. Of course I will. 

Which brings me to internet access. My life depends on it. So, I thought this deal from one of our large supermarkets was quite good, a Euro data phone card, 3gb for $50, a significant discount. Available online and in stores. You can see it here. Well, QV in town knew nothing about it, nor did one of the small Woolworths in town. South Melbourne Woolworths knew nothing about it. That is a serious bad, Woolworths. I think all of our accommodation has free wifi and free wifi is wide spread in Europe. I also expect cheap phone cards are available in Europe. On board the ship, I expect the price will be very high for wifi. We shall see. 

Little Jo called to say goodbye, clearly told to by Sister. Of course she spoke to R. Not sure how it happened but after R hung up, well let me just say the stress of the last week for both of us exploded. 

Hat, coat and gloves.....check. I bid you adieu.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Pay your tax

As the media proprietor, the late Kerry Packer, once said when accused of avoiding paying tax, he said, to paraphrase, I pay all the tax I am obliged to pay. Not a penny more. In spite of his richness, why should he? He arranged his affairs so that he paid a minimal amount of tax.

Foreign companies operate in Australia and make nice profits from Australians, but they pay no or little tax. Why should they if they have arranged their company to based in another country there is no tax is due here? Private enterprise is a charity to give money to the Australian government?

I am also sure some very profitable local companies pay no or little tax too.

This is nothing to do with media moguls or private enterprise. It is about our taxation system that allows very rich people and corporations to not pay tax. It can be fixed by government rules, but they won't do it. Yes, it is complex but I am sure they have some very smart people who could do it.

How about the details of this one, from The Age.

48 millionaires in Australia collectively earned 128 million dollars in 2014-15. They paid 20 million to accountants and lawyers who manage their affairs. On the 128 million they earned, they paid no tax whatsoever. That is, they pared their income down by legitimate deductions to zero.  Nor did they pay the Medicare levy. The only money they paid was the Medicare surcharge on the rich, which is based on earnings, not income after deductions.

This is absolutely outrageous and meanwhile the government cuts welfare payments in many areas.

It stinks.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Easter Wrap

So much for all my bravado about Mother and her untenable situation. She simply said, I am not talking about it today and I went to water. She did not want her day spoilt and as all of her children and partners were together, neither did I. And of course she had got what she wanted, us to pay for the electrical work. It was a terrific, albeit tiring, day.

We set off on Easter Sunday to Sister's. Mother and ABI Brother had stayed the night before and were to stay that night too. Tradie Brother had come across on the Queenscliff ferry, so we had the full complement of Mother's children and their partners, that is R and Bone Doctor. Before lunch we walked down to the beach and Tradie Brother threw a ball into the sea and his beloved dog retrieved the ball. At one point, the dog failed to note the direction in which the ball was thrown, and a not unattractive male swimmer swam to the ball and threw it back in.  The dog knew how deal with crashing and breaking waves. As was the case this time, he has swum a lot at what are dog on leash beaches. The day before he argued his way out of a fine at his own local beach. He doesn't take his dog to beach to play or on the sand or walk, but to swim. His argument of course, and if he does get fined, tough luck for him.

Sister had driven Mother down to the beach, while the rest of us walked, about three kilometres there and back by a circuitous route. We missed the meeting point with them, and they had gone back home. I have meant to be walking a lot more, building up my stamina for Europe where there will be a lot of walking, and hills, and steps. I don't do hills or steps very well. Hopefully there will lots of 'photo opportunities'.

Sister had cooked a lovely roast lamb lunch. Tradie Brother was being mysteriously keen to get away quickly. He caught the one o'clock ferry home after a hastily eaten meal before we all sat down to lunch.

After lunch we exchanged Easter eggs. We gave our family chocolate Easter eggs, and they gave them to us. Quid pro quo. Why do we bother?

There is a postage stamp local park where Little Jo had hidden Easter eggs. We trooped across to the park, mother with her walker. She didn't do too badly with hunting for eggs and found a few. Like toddlers when they first walk, Mother can be quite fast when using her walker. As team mates, Bone Doctor  and me won, with 16 eggs collected.

Back at the house, Sister suggested a board game of Family Feud. After the Easter cake, I made noises about going home, but we were all dragged into the game and it was quite a hoot. I guess it was a case of you had to be there at the time, but I brought the house down when I responded to the question of 'Fifty people were polled and what gets wet when it rains?' Fish, was my answer. Mother had some pretty good answers at the time. R won the prize of the Little Jo decreed a HOLIDAY IN PARIS.  For two, I asked? No, for his team, not yours Andrew.

As we were saying goodbye, Little Jo blurted out, did you have the family conference? Sister put her finger to her lips to silence her but too late, Mother had picked it up. After we left Mother cross questioned Sister. Mother did have a bit of a point. It was perhaps not the right day to discuss it, but was a rare occasion when we were all together.

Little Jo came home with us and we stopped off in South Melbourne to buy Pizza Hut pizzas and brought them home to eat. R mentioned to Little Jo about going to bed at 8pm. I was waiting for the argument and prepared for a 9pm settlement, but she went to bed and was immediately asleep after being read a couple of pages of a book. She slept until 7am, 11 hours. At 9pm Bone Doctor rang to say goodnight to her, but it was too late. Bone Doctor and I had a long chat, most of which I cannot remember.

Monday morning I woke at 6.30 and as is my habit, I chat for a time on my tablet in bed to Jakol in......god, I have forgotten where he lives. Somewhere in Eastern Europe. (Friend in Japan, remember that I once told you I can be a bit theatrical on my blog) Let's say chatting to Jakol is a euphemism. I made myself coffee and went back to bed and Little Jo was still soundly asleep. She rose at 7 and woke up R. I suspected she would go straight to the computer. I had left her a note on the keyboard, Good Morning Little Jo. I stayed in bed, with Jakol as my friend until 8.30. R had already made pancakes for he and Little Jo with luscious toppings for them for breakfast. I had a slice of dry toast and my medications.

Great nieces!!! We have two new ones, extracted two minutes apart on Good Friday. C'mon on Little Jo. Let us go and see them. They are your..........nieces, and these make number three and four. Hippie Niece replied to a text, wake me if I am asleep in reply to us visiting. Gawd, Tradie Brother and his son Fire Fighting Non Dreaded Nephew and his betrothed Jewish partner were visiting at noon. We'll be there by 10.30 and we pretty well were. Just as we were trying to point the 'fake hotel' on Eastlink, Niece called. How far away are you. I have time for a shower?

We found our way to her hospital room. She took us to see her products. Can't newborns be ugly? Never. They were gorgeous. One had just been fed by expressed milk and the other had not, and was making motions of being hungry. Little Jo was kicked out as she was under twelve and not a sibling and could be full of germs. Given the new new babies, the Easter Bunnies, have full heads of black hair, (bad luck red haired Irish man) and Little Jo's lice issues (to be told in a future post), I can understand the logic. I could see Little Jo was a little upset but I did my best to comfort her as we sat outside, of course nothing like R would comfort her, but R has a new baby in his arms. They seem to be a bit coloured and have their father's wide nose, but as three day olds, they looked pretty good. They still have nasal tubes and monitors connected but Niece will go home tomorrow and they perhaps at the end of the week. What a result!!, when it could have been a disaster.

Back tracking, Sister being the control freak she is suggested a couple of places nearby where we could visit near to the hospital while she came up to Melbourne on the train to see her football team win play.

My mind was scrambled by this time with extreme overload of social interacting. I could no longer think clearly. I did google how far Arthur's Seat chairlift is from Frankston. Too far. I drove for three hours yesterday. I don't want to drive. I am fed up with driving. But drive to Frankston we did, with me at the wheel. Believe me, I had already checked the practicality of catching the train to Frankston and then getting to the hospital.

I was trying to think of somewhere to visit to take Little Jo when the ever wise R came up with an answer, The Cranbourne branch of the Royal Botanical Gardens, aka the Australian Gardens. As we exited the hospital car park, R said, maybe we should go to Frankston Beach. That would be good too, but I argued that he had said the gardens and that is where we were going. We went to the gardens. It was time for lunch. The Latin looking lad who took our order of three ham, cheese and tomato toasted croissants, two coffees and an iced tea for Little Jo smiled widely at me as I ordered. I smiled more widely at him, and then he smiled more widely at me. While he was behind the busy till at that point, he delivered our food and drinks to our table, and he smiled widely to me again, and I smiled widely back to him. It was a nice thing without any subtext. Lordy, when I ordered I had my goofy old man straw hat on........maybe not so bad. I just did my nails at work three days ago. Perfect. I hope he noticed their perfection.

I took many photos of the gardens, but it is very unlikely that you will see any of them before we return from our holiday. We saw the garden pre digital camera just after it opened and we could see good bones. It is now a stunning place to visit. We left at 1pm and the Easter traffic was heavy coming home. Did I mention how I hate driving.?

Lordy, the child is hungry. We can't have Little Jo reporting to Sister that we left her hungry  R divided leftover lasagne between me and Little Jo and toasted a hot cross bun for himself. Something like a Chock Wedge for us came out from the freezer. R had prepared for Little Jo's visit.

Little Jo wrote a thank you card to Mother's best friend for the Easter gift of $30 and she and R had a swim in the pool. They then made Honey Joys, which I have never tried and they are nice.

Sister arrived back from the football after leaving in disgust at half time. While I was out of earshot, she asked R if it would alright if they stayed one night while we were away as they had tickets to see Petula Clark in concert. Still smarting about us not being welcome when we set off in our campervan last year, he replied, is that a good idea? Why do you want to stay here? You always complain about staying here. Sister went bright red and no more was said.

I noticed nothing and they were fine when they said goodbye, with a nice bon voyage. I drove Sister to So Cross Station and of course Sister had forgotten Little Jo's MYKI card, so I had to give her our Little Jo card.

Peace in our time. I am now in a mad panic about our holiday as I am working every day from now until we depart.

Walking back from the beach. Tacky.

The key ingredient of Honey Joys is corn flakes. I said to her, look at this jumbo packet of corn flakes. See the black mark through the bird's beak? That was the level of corn flakes when I opened the packet. Yes, per 100g is was cheap, but how much do contents settle? By one third, it seems. She wanted me to make a video for The Checkout. She spent the next hour watching The Checkout videos online.

Little Jo was here a week ago for a short visit, but I was at work. I returned home to find my computer had been changed. She asked me what the next public holiday will be. My screen is now littered with red poppies for Anzac Day.

The sea seemed quite calm on the Bellarine, but big waves were breaking.

Spot the dog's head.

It was a nice Easter Sunday and Monday, but so tiring.

Wednesday Wonders

I want to stay here. Lamu is an island just a couple of hundred metres off the Kenyan coast.

This one really took me a bit of studying before it made sense to me.

You may prefer nature, but what impressive things we humans can create. While it would be better to be proactive about how we interact with Mother Earth and her creatures and plants, humans seem to be ever so good at reactionary fixing up of things. Have no fear for the future of your children. Trumpet will be a weird blip in history.

Monday, April 17, 2017

You vil get orf our plane

Bit of an interesting reaction to the doctor who was bruised and bloodied when dragged off a United Airlines flight after the airline overbooked and then had to cater for staff travel as well. Delta Airlines has stated it will offer up to $2000 from $800 to compensate passengers who are bumped after overbooking. UA is still considering its policy. I am sure it is, deeply.

Australia is crap for flight compensation. I complained once to Qantas about something so serious, I can no longer recall what it was. Ah, I have remembered. It was our flight to London via Singapore leaving some twelve hours late. We arrived in Singapore very early morning and lost a day. We had booked and paid for a private airport bus transport to the airport and we forfeited that. Qantas offered us two travel vouchers to an Australian destination of our choice, I think. We chose Sydney.

It was a total con. I cannot understand how it worked, but we paid about the same in airport charges and government taxes to use our flight vouchers as it would have cost us to buy a cheap online airline ticket to Sydney. Forget about vouchers. Ask for cash compensation if you are inconvenienced.

Qantas once lost our luggage between Melbourne and Sydney. It did not turn up within a few days. No need for travel insurance here, we claimed against Qantas and they returned with a very inadequate offer. We sent in a detailed report of our loss, and I think we argued back and forth for a bit, but eventually we received a fair compensation cheque, $700, as I recall.

I suppose it was only a coincidence, but the very next day, our suitcases were delivered to R's work, as that was address on our luggage labels. Our luggage had been to New Zealand and back. A pair of Levi jeans was missing from my case, and half a joint of Mary Jane.

Traveller tip #58 If you are going to take drugs on a airplane flight, make sure that you are not doing so on an international flight as a domestic traveller, no matter how cheap the flight is.

Europe has an excellent standard compensation system for inconvenienced fliers. Australia and the US should have the same.