Friday, May 27, 2016

The Vices

Before we went to Perth, I checked carefully where the city bottle shops were, UK read off license, US, liquor store. One does need wine and at times stronger drink.

Toronto certainly did not seem to have large liquor stores, in fact no where obvious to get take away wine, in spite of us being in the main tourist area . I had noticed on a map the letters LCBO. Who would have a clue what that is? Even once you know it stands for Liquor Control Board of Ontario, it still does not sound like somewhere to buy alcohol, but that is exactly what it is and thanks to the doorman at the Fairmont Royal York for directing us. For Australians, it was about the size of a supermarket bottle shop. There must have been more than just the one outlet in Toronto, but it was the only one we saw and boy was it busy. I think we can take from that the sale of alcohol is heavily controlled in the province of Ontario. There was a push to free up the sale of alcohol in Ontario, but I am not sure how that has panned out.

A local council here in Greater Melbourne is protesting against a huge large liquor store being built in its newish suburb of Cranbourne East, which is arguably Melbourne's fastest growing suburb. Surely if the area is going to have a large population, why not a large liquor store?

Smoking without doubt is bad for you. I suspect supply meets demand so far as shops selling cigarettes go. You may well open a large and fancy cigarette shop, but I really doubt that it will encourage people to smoke.

What about gambling?  As an occasional gambler who enjoys shoving a single $5 note into a machine to see what happens, I am not sure that the availability of machines would encourage me to spend more. Pokie machines are put in socially disadvantaged areas, but does that really mean people gamble more? It probably does, otherwise, why would it happen.

The availability of casual sex may have once appealed to me. What a pig I would have been if the phone apps were around when I was younger. But it is all there now and I am not almost not tempted.

You may well argue differently and I am happy to hear your points, but we made sure we found somewhere to buy alcohol in Toronto, where it was not on every street corner. People will indulge their vices, cigarettes, gambling and alcohol and will go to some effort to indulge. Does a big liquor barn make people drink more? I really don't think so and why shouldn't the folk of Cranbourne East not have access to cheap drinks, as I do in our inner city area?

Thursday, May 26, 2016

A gift

Out friend, Brighton Antique Dealer, gave me one of these for my birthday last year with the strict instructions not to put it up on the wall until the end of March 2016. By the date I guessed there was another to come for R's birthday, and sure enough, I was correct.

Strange how always the one nearest the flash light shows silver. I really like them. They would suit my bedroom, with its slight Asiatic theme, very nicely. But no one would ever see them, so they are on a wall that most visitors will see, the outside of the toilet wall.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Tram Upgrade

Melbourne's marvellous B Class trams have been upgraded. They were our first articulated trams (two sections, bending in the middle), the first trams with air conditioning and by far our most comfortable tram ever, far more so than the newer current models. They are smooth, quiet and with well padded seats. However, they are getting on a bit in years with the first built in 1988. Of about the 500 trams running in Melbourne, they make up 130 of the fleet.

They are not without their problems though. One is easily solved, the at times badly adjusted air conditioning. There are two separate systems, so if you find it too hot or too cold in one section, move to the other. There are steps to get into the trams, making them difficult trams for the lesser abled to use. Their destination displays are difficult to read.

The steps are not a problem that can be easily solved and for this reason they will be retired when the disability access for public transport year arrives. There has already been one extension, giving plenty of time for them to be retired. The year 2022 comes to mind as an early date, maybe now extended to 2030.

Gimmicky, but LED lights have replaced the normal step lights. The real problem with the step lights is that they do not come on until the doors are fully opened, only lighting the way for the slower people.

Before the latest upgrades, many, if not all, B Class trams had seats removed and the curiously named Apollo seating installed. Effectively it means bum rests in areas near the doors, giving space for prams etc.

One of the great upgrades is new destination displays, brighter and much easier to read from a distance and at night, and with more detail in the display about where the tram is travelling to and naming the major street it travels along.

With the arrival of the French made Citadis trams by Alstom and German Combino by Siemens trams in early 2000s, so arrived automated stop announcements. For some reason the next stop information was soon turned off in the Citadis trams and the announcements in the Combino trams were so appalling inaccurate, they should have been turned off too. There was a bit of a joke going around that given the female voice making the announcements was making them from the Siemens base in Munich, she didn't do too badly with her lack of local knowledge. These bad tram purchases from France and Germany were made under Dictator Premier Kennett's rule of Victoria. I mostly travel on the Siemens trams and they are horrible. The Alstom trams are perhaps not quite as bad. While the tram next stop announcements have much improved, they are still far from perfect. In our high tech times, it is difficult to understand why.

It is extraordinary to recall that we had two competing tram companies, one that ran the north/south routes and the other the east/west routes. What sort of competition is that?

The B Class trams now have next stop audio and visual displays installed and they are pretty good. The next stop is announced but if you have pulled the cord or pressed the button for the next stop, the announcement changes from 'the next stop is...' to 'tram stopping at...'. The announcement includes the stop number and other information where appropriate. There does seem to be a bit of an issue in the city where perhaps the GPS signal can be interrupted by tall buildings and the system becomes confused. I recently experienced the same on a train as it left Southern Cross Station. All good so far, but........

At the tram stops, the doors open and a few seconds later there is an announcement that 'This stop is...'. But if there is only one or two people leaving or entering the tram, the doors have closed or are already closing by the time the announcement is made. Nice try Yarra Trams, but needs refinement.

Look at how much clearer the destination display is compared to the earlier photo with the old display. It alternates and the second screen says 'via St Kilda'.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

I told you so

Well, we now have proof positive for not allowing gay marriage in Australia. It is allowed in many places around the world and look at how their societies are collapsing. Australians, you must keep up your opposition to gay marriage and save our society from the ills that gay marriage will create. Ok, you aren't against it, and your partner isn't against it, your friends aren't either, and your children aren't against who is? Apparently only our government, some religious types and a small minority are against it. It is not something I care much about and I am surprised our governments care about it so much. They have spent so much time beating themselves up about it, wouldn't it just be easier for them to let it happen?

Stupid old white men, but don't take that literally, Julia.

Actually, I am coming around on gay marriage, but every time I mention it to R, he responds with, 'do you have someone in mind to marry?' Anyway, I expect I would cry at my own wedding. So embarrassing. Photos make for a better blog post. My intention was honourable in selecting a photo of two older gay blokes kissing.

But hey, wow!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Untouched by the knife

I had hoped Prix D'Amour, the former grand but tasteless home of Rose Porteous, would be pointed out to us as we cruised down the Swan River in Perth, but alas(?) the house has been demolished and apartments now occupy the elite Mosman Park site.

Apparently Rose is moving to Spain. Well, with a Philippine background, she probably speaks Spanish. I thoroughly approve that Rose has never had any facial surgery. It is true. She said so. She must for some reason have a prematurely aged scraggy neck. Her hair colour is probably natural too.