Monday, April 20, 2015

La lune est rouge

I am ready to take some new moon photos, specifically of the lunar eclipse. Score A for effort, F for result. I did not realise it would disappear behind the building so soon, so we only saw the early part of the eclipse. Nor did we realise it would be a 'blood moon', although that doesn't really show in the photo.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Say cheese

Saying cheese, or saying sex, both work well when taking someone's snap.

My old camera was looking battered, it was slow to start, slow to focus, at times not focusing at all,  the brightness of the photos seem to be often wrong and the zoom control was slow to move especially when the camera was cold, the lens cover did not always fully retract, again worse with the cold and lastly I hated the touch screen from day one. I used the stylus on wrist strap to control it, but even so at times I would accidentally touch the screen. The camera had taken nearly 10,000 photos, the same as the one before and the one before that and had made three overseas trips, I think. I reckoned I was owed a new one.

I went to Michael's Camera Store where I bought the last one and sought advice.  The last was a Canon IXUS 510 HS 12x optical zoom. The salesman asked what I liked about the old camera. Not much really and I told him what I disliked about it and told him it was pretty well worn out. He showed me a couple of cameras and I suggested they were too big for my purposes. He then showed me a Nikon Coolpix S7000 20x optical zoom. I liked it immediately although I wasn't keen to change camera brands, especially as my present card was Mini SD and this new one took an SD and he wanted $20 for the new card which I knew I could get cheaper elsewhere. Ok, I had almost decided to buy it but the camera was white. Can I have it in black please? Sorry, out of stock. I can take your name and number and call you when we get stock. Fine, I said, gave my details and left.

Since then Ken in France of Living the life in Saint-Aignan  bought a new camera after trying a couple of others and not liking them. He takes good photos, so let me have a look at what he bought. His is a Canon Powershot SX700 HS. Click here to read his experiences. While what seemed to be more available here is the Canon SX710 HS. I couldn't really see the difference between the two but the 710 was more expensive.

I took a very hard look at the Canon and it sounded great until I looked at the weight and the size. It was certainly a bulkier camera and I think the weight was around 250g whereas the Nikon one above comes in at 160g. So I crossed that off the list.

My point about size and weight is that it no good me having a very smart and expensive camera if it is sitting at home and not in my pocket. My camera mostly goes everywhere with me. I can't really hold my phone still enough to take reasonable photos with that.

I waited and waited for the call, about four weeks and I heard nothing. Damn them. I will look at online prices. Hmm, can be bought cheaper. I won't buy from overseas unless it is Amazon, where Ken bought his. Amazon was a bit cheaper. Reputable online local sellers, a bit cheaper. I don't know. I looked at Ted's Camera Store online and I think the camera was a bit cheaper there. Ted's is near Michael's in Elizabeth Street, so into town we went, with me really unsure about what I was going to do.

I really prefer to buy from a proper shop and I don't mind paying a bit more to get the service, but without the phone call from Michael's to even tell me they were having trouble obtaining the Nikon in black, I was a bit cross and very tempted to just click on Amazon's buy button.

Ok, we will see what Ted's can do and maybe bargain them off against Michael's. We were walking up Elizabeth Street when we came to a shop I had never seen before, just before reaching Ted's. Michaels is just a bit further along. The shop was called Digi Direct. Ha, if I bought something there and anything went wrong I could blog with the headline Dodgy Digi Direct. Always thinking ahead I am; planning for when things go wrong. Apparently I am not the only one who does that, hey Pants.  Well, they had the camera in stock, in black, for a cheaper price than Michael's or Ted's. The deal was clinched with the 8gb camera card at $17 not $20 ($10 at JB HiFi). I bought it and left and so far I am happy with it although time will tell.

Oh yes, the price for the new Nikon Coolpix x20 zoom was $247. I did not bargain to bring the price lower. I think the price was fair and R was getting a  certain look on his face everytime I had mentioned the word 'camera' in the past few weeks. He'd had enough.

I also recall Diane, who knows enough about photography to teach people some skills, mentioning that she thought photos appeared better on blogs if they were first uploaded to Picasa and then put on your blog, so here is some testing of photos. You can't really do this without the publishing the post as preview won't allow you to click on the photos.

Original size upload to Picasa new camera

Original size upload to Picasa old camera

Resized upload to Picasa new camera

Resized upload to Picasa old camera

Direct blogger original size upload new camera

Direct blogger original size upload old camera

Direct blogger resized upload new camera

Direct blogger resized upload old camera

I have three cameras now, each one taking better photos than the last. This was taken with my phone. The oldest camera, the silver one, still works. I switched it on and the noise of the lens opening was loud.

And lastly the new camera taken by the old camera. I have pulled that ugly blue and white sticker off it now.

No, I am not going to say anything about the way the lens comes out and how big it is. Funnily if the camera is sitting flat when the zoom is put to the full, it tips forward, something to note if it is on a tripod.

Sunday Selections

River's Sunday Selections can be found here, and Elephant Child's here. They are both very reliable Sunday Selection posters, unlike myself. 

I am trying something new and uploading my photos in their original size. How does blogger deal with that? Is it a problem for you as a reader? That was a fail. The photos stopped uploading. Back to resizing. This camera has taken almost 10,000 photos, just as the last one did and I have bought a new camera. These are among the last photos you will see taken by the old camera. Of course I will tell you about the new camera at some point.

Both Toorak Road and Domain Road were blocked off, but so many people were disbelieving and thought they would try anyway. They either had to make a U turn and come back, or turn left into a side street, left into Domain Road and then back into St Kilda Road, which probably added 5 to 10 minutes to their trip. Buses, taxis, cars, motorbikes, so many did not believe the road closed sign. If one  car went around the closure signs, many would follow but if no one tried, then no one else would.

The reason for the road closures were tram track repairs in Toorak and Park Street

and replacing the tracks at the corner of Domain Road and Park Street.

We had some visitors.

Look, one cocky even wants to do something nasty to the granite.

Zoom in a bit.

We can see this gutted block of flats from our place, but I suggested to R that it wasn't being demolished and I was correct.

This is the rather pleasant front of the building and it is going to undergo a big renovation and will look very nice once done and the apartments will sell for mucho moolah.

Red sky at night, shepherd's delight. Red sky in the morning, a shepherds warning. But I can't remember if it was apt in this case.

See the smoke on the horizon? Two possibilities. On Good Friday steam trains were taking tours on our suburban tracks. This could well be smoke from the train, or it could smoke from where the steam train set some grass on fire near Elsternwick Station.

Like the glass pool in Riley Street, Sydney, we have our own here in Chapel Street.

A pleasant aspect looking south along Chapel Street, not too far from the Yarra River. But, a developer wants to build a monstrous tower on the corner of Toorak Road and Chapel Street, pretty much at the end of this view. Blend in very nicely, won't it.

This is where the tower is to be built. This is now a restaurant, previous a bakery and before that a engine house for the Toorak Road and Chapel Street cable trams.

I was looking for something in my little treasure tin and I can't remember what now. I'd be no worse off just chucking it all away. It is all quite meaningless to anyone else but me. Unbelievably, my grandmother gave me a tin of Benson and Hedges cigarettes for my 18th birthday. The tin is little battered but a nice keepsake.

I could not get the camera to focus. It appeared to stay on long distance and I was surprised to get one usable photo of this bug. A couple of days later I remembered the camera has a manual macro setting.

Meat and salad baguettes in Centre Place at our usual cafe, only $5. Some places you would pay $9. They go up to $6 at weekends when more tourists are around.

A shabby but just gorgeous building in Elizabeth Street. Bit like me really.

The General Post Office, GPO, is not a place to conduct your postal business. Oh no, you go to a Post Shop to do that, where you may be tempted by all manner of products which have nothing to with the postal service. If you want expensive boutique shops and H & M, then the GPO is the place to go.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

About the blogs

Tired of London, tired of life? Never. It seems me mentioning Brad and Janet was quite topical. Ian Visits in London has details of a Rocky Horror performance at Royal Albert Hall by winners of a competition at Blackpool's Winter Gardens.

I was quite moved by our friend in Sydney Victor's post about his lack of a sibling and the difficulties when when siblings he knows fell out.

Strayer sent me off on an internet search about canned heat, specifically a Sterno Stove.

I read it once, then continued reading. I went back and checked and then checked again, yes Marcus Wong has married. What a tolerant woman he has married. :-P at Marcus.

Snoskred also sent me off on an internet search after she reviewed a book she had read, about some blokes in a tunnel. I don't know that I will read the book, but I will do more than my initial research.

Most of this happened today. I am quite shallow and will be on to your next piece of writing and forgotten the last, and if you didn't get a gig above, it is not because I don't enjoy what you write too.

I thank you all. I hate it when you stop writing and leave me.

PS Grace in Perth overcame her fear of flying and flew to Sydney to attend her granddaughter's first birthday. Sweet.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Cream in my Coffee

I miss all the terrific tv plays we used to see, mostly from the BBC. I am thinking Laurence Olivier in A Voyage Round my Father, The Norman Conquests series, The Singing Detective....the list is long. It was Jacqueline wot did it when she reminded me of this when she posted a clip of Marlene Dietrich singing You're the Cream in my Coffee. This is a clip from the terrific tv play Cream in my Coffee, written by the brilliant late Dennis Potter, and starring the late Lionel Jefferies and the wonderful Dame Peggy Ashcroft.

This is the final 7 minutes of the play and it has a quite intense finish. Vaguely from what I can remember having first seen it some 35 years ago, near to their wedding when they were young, she got drunk one evening and spent a night with the band vocalist who sings Cream in my Coffee. He was a thorough cad who just took advantage of her. In the recent scenes, clearly the Jefferies character is remembering her inappropriate behaviour at the same venue. Something like that, anyway. I think the external of the hotel used is the Grand Hotel in Brighton. Perhaps JayLa may confirm. The modern wait, 1970s music, may not be to your taste, but I don't mind it at all.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A neighbourly memoir

When we lived in the salubrious and leafy eastern suburbs of Melbourne on the Alamein railway line, our neighbours were ever so middle class. A few doors down the Italian couple grew vegetables in the back yard and tried to sell them to neighbours at exorbitant prices. Their neighbours were all of Anglo stock, and so never complained, just did not go back.

Apparently our dog Wee Jessie, a Westie, barked non stop in the back yard when we were away. We did not know but eventually we asked our neighbour why their son was throwing sand over the fence. 'At your Wee Jessie to stop her barking', was the reply. I think this was when were leaving after being there for a couple of years. Too late to mention her barking now. They were a nice enough couple, but the two sons both had quite a number of medical issues. The kids would be in their thirties now. The neighbours names were Geoff and Janet. I called them Brad and Janet. Three points to you if you get that, and they well suited the roles.

On the other side of was a another married middle class couple. He was quite normal and their daughter worked at the Red Back Brewery in North Melbourne. I wonder if that is still there. Their dog occasionally appeared in our yard and we returned him. He would dig under the fence. He was big and boisterous. I suppose I had met her, but one day I returned the  dog. Lee answered the door with glasses perched on her nose and a book in one hand and a cigarette in the other, difficult to open a door like that I think, and just said thanks when I steered their dog inside and shut the door on me. Ken, her husband apologised about the dog later.

Behind us lived an old man, severely stooped over, almost a hunch back. We would often see him on his way to and from the local Ashburton shops, shopping jeep in tow. He was quite old and obviously self sufficient. About once a month he must have bought a bottle of spirits and got horribly drunk. These were large blocks of land and his house was decent way from ours, but we could hear him yelling and ranting to himself. Our neighbours told us not to worry about him, but oh, the noise was horrendous. What was in his mind? I seem to recall some of his yelling was about his late wife but his words mostly made no sense.

Yep, that's it. Just a memory.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Standing up to 'The State'

I will simply not have the government dictating how much water I can use. Many people take far longer showers than I do and otherwise I am very careful with water use, but I am not having a shower putting out a dribble of water.

R's shower head was sagging, ten minutes after getting out, the tell-tale sound of water could be heard as the arm sagged and the rose emptied of water. Time for a visit to the big green shed to look at a new one.

We found one but as well as being a good bit dearer than they used to be, the salesman told us that it was not so easy to remove the water flow restrictor. This used to be a simple procedure, remove the washer where it screws onto the pipe, take out the restrictor and put the washer back. Ah, yes, Americans dictate to us again. In the US the prescribed flow rate is 2 gallons per minute, for us the same at 9 litres a minute.

Well, we ummed and ahhed and bought nothing, not confident that we could remove the restrictor. We let it rest until we were both within earshot of the bathroom and there was the tell tale sound of the shower head emptying. Enough, said R. I am going to buy a new one. The style of one above suits us perfectly. It lifts high enough for R to wash his hair (he is on the tall side), is simply adjustable and without a restrictor gives a great shower, without jets that feels like a thousand needles on your skin. And that is the one with the new sort of restrictor.

But before R set off a second time to buy rather than look, we watched a tutorial. It did cross my mind that I would like this rather ocker plumber to visit and offer his advice personally, but oh the cost. As you can see in the video, he is quite disparaging about shower water flow restrictors.

Right, this shan't beat us. We too will smash it, bash it, whatever, get it out. R returned with the new head and sure enough, the flow restrictor was not where it used to be, behind the wall plate where it screws on to the pipe in the wall. We disassembled the shower head end, and there sat the evil little device, held in place by a metal clip. The pointy nosed pliers made short work of the clip and the device. Look at the evil little bits. Three tiny holes for water to flow through. Piss off. We are well rid of them.


It all went back together but now the head was a bit loose. There was a little grub screw, so with an Allen key, I tightened it and the head was now tight. Back on to the pipe and yes, we have beaten the government prescribed water flow. R is happy with his non sagging full flow shower. So Nanny State, stick that in your meerschaum and smoke it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A victim of marketing

Present society always seem to need someone to blame. When bad things happen, it is never a person's fault, something that came about because of their actions, but another person's doing.

I spend a lot of time on the internet. Is is too much time? I don't know. I am certainly addicted to the net and would struggle in life without it now. There is nothing I don't get done though, with two exceptions, concentrated television watching and book reading. I haven't done badly so far this year with about three proper books read and three electronic books, but in days before the net, it might have been three books a week and a lot of newspapers and magazines. Of course who should I blame for not reading as much? You, dear reader, you. You write interesting things with nice photos and at times I am sent off on mad internet hunts. You also encourage me to write and take nice photos, which also takes time. It is all your fault! So there!

I save reading paper books for at home but when at work or when travelling, I like the convenience and lightness of the Kindle, but I have become a victim of marketing. Remember the story about the Gillette razor blades? Give them the holder but charge them for the blades. A more recent version has been printers, where you pay more for the ink cartridges than you do the printer.

How does this relate to reading books on a Kindle? Simple, give the customer the first of five or six books in a series for free and if it is a good book, the company is almost guaranteed you will pay for the rest, which is exactly what I am half way through doing.

The book, or books? I don't know how widely she and her works are known. The author is Irish born Martha Long and the books are auto biographical, beginning with her appalling childhood where such mistreatment should have seen her parents locked up. Ma, He Sold Me For A Few Cigarettes was a harrowing read. The book was among various free books offered by Amazon. I did not realise then that it was a series of five.

It was quite some time before I downloaded the second book in the series and had to pay for it.. Ma, I’m Gettin Meself a New Mammy focused on her teenage years in a convent, having been sent there by the authorities. The third, Ma, It’s a Cold Aul Night an I’m Lookin for a Bed, sees her depart from the convent at the age of sixteen and try to make her way on her own and find work in a very harsh city of Dublin.

What I am about to buy now is Ma, Now I'm Goin Up in the World, with still to come, Ma, I’ve Got Meself Locked Up in the Mad House; Ma, I've Reached for the Moon an I'm Hittin the Stars and
Ma, Jackser's Dying Alone.

Ok, that is seven books in the series. I am curious if any of you book readers out there know of these books.  Obviously I am enjoying them if I am paying for them, though I doubt I would pay if they were paperback prices.
Ma, Jackser's Dyin Alone

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Batty Highrise

Roosting bats were ruining an area of our nearby Royal Botanic Gardens and by a primitive method, noise, they were driven away to where the were encouraged to roost as Yarra Bend Park, perhaps ten kilometres away. The noise was simply made with amplified music and banging saucepan lids together during the day when the bats wanted to roost and sleep.

The bats often passed by the Highrise as they went off to wherever they found food. For a while after they were driven away we saw very few but they have certainly returned now, the difference being they fly past at night later and return earlier in the early morning. Our Friend from Japan was recently staying with us and she took a decent walk in the Botanic Gardens and chatted to staff there (and fed her face I might add) and established the bats have not returned, so they are obviously flying quite a distance from Yarra Bend Park to pass us by on their way to feed, which I guess why they are now passing later and returning earlier than they used to.

The bats are known here as grey-headed flying foxes and they are relatively large bats, weighing up to 1 kilogram and with a wing span of up to 1 metre. Luckily they are not fond of human blood taken from the neck but eat fruit, flowers and pollen.

Here is an individual and a colony at daytime roost. Photos from Wikipedia.

I'll finish with a bat anecdote which does not really apply to these bats but another species. A tour guide was showing a group of tourists the interior of a bat cave and right in the middle of explaining the flawless internal radar navigation system bats have, one flew straight into a woman's hair. Maybe her hair was thin and teased up and so lacked density to return a radar echo.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Melbourne University

I finally found time to take a wander in the grounds of  Melbourne University. Here I am at the University tram stop and city tram terminus looking down Swanston Street towards the city.

These very cheaply built apartments were constructed primarily for overseas university students. They don't have air conditioning and face west to the hot sun. Some occupants put flattened cardboard boxes against the windows to keep the sun out. I think the flats are quite a disgrace. I've been told most of them are owned by overseas owners who won't pay body corporate fees, and so there is little money for maintenance.

There were a few of these trees with lovely reddish bark in the uni grouds. I thought they were Chinese Ginkgo trees but it seems not.

There is such a mix of buildings with old

and the new.

The day I chose just happened university club selection day, with the clubs promoting themselves at various stalls. It made for a very lively atmosphere.

A nice refuge for just sitting.

A number of people cycle around the grounds.

There had been some kind of outdoor disco here, but it was wrapping up as I arrived.

A horticultural area.

This was quite nice.


Old buildings, new buildings and some in between. I guess by the name Babel, this has something to do with languages.

Some buildings don't stand the test of time.

Some not much older buildings do stand the test of time.

Cream brick building with a slate roof? Not its original cladding.

What do we have here?

It is a doorway to a bank building, moved here in 1972.

The opening leads in this ever so interesting car park.

Beer was involved. Again, things were breaking up as I arrived.

Something had gone wrong with the trams and when they did arrive, I was crushed in on the tram among a heap of uni lads. Dear oh dear, not good for the heart.

Later edit: The Percy Grainger Museum.