Thursday, July 27, 2017

The bad sportspeople

As much as I don't have a type (no, I did not say I am desperate), tennis player Roger Federer is not really my type. I cannot think of him in any sort of sexual manner at all. That is rare for me. His looks just do not appeal to me. The point of saying that is that I am unbiased by any desire for him.

But isn't he just the bestest tennis player. He shames Australia's current tennis players by his on court behaviour. While I am not really a tennis watcher, I cannot help but know about him from tv and other media. I have never seen him slam a racquet to the ground, criticise an umpire or abuse anyone, make excuses for an off match, let along brag about the money he makes. He just plays tennis, really well.

There is no contrast between him and Australia's horrors', Tomic and Kyrgios.

Former tennis champions Boris Becker and John McEnroe are often asked for their opinions on current tennis players. I am not sure why, as they started the rot that is generally acceptable in tennis today. Ultimately it is about money. Bad tennis player behaviour should mean a player is sent off and banned for a period. But the players have created such larger than life personalities, that clubs and media have too much to lose if they are banned, Wimbledon included.

Maybe Federer is the last of the gentlemen tennis players? Yeah, Federer, respect.

Quiz Answer

I thought someone might get it. Does this help at all. I want his character name.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


$440 later, we have a beautifully smooth sliding balcony door with new rollers and it fits tightly and seals much better. We once had broken nylon rollers replaced by metal but the metal was wearing out the track. We now have strong nylon rollers that will apparently 'see us out'. The last time a large burly chap just lifted the door off and the cost was cheaper. This time we needed two men, one a glazier with those suction cup things to lift the door off.

Mother gave us a pair of these RSPCA fundraising tea towels for Christmas. They are very good, although quite expensive. I will ask for more as gifts in the future. Our Italian oven is now over a year old and it is brilliant, so R tells me. The dial on the right is the temperature. The dial on the left is incomprehensible to me. It turns various elements and fans off and on. R had to learn how to use the oven. About a month ago he spent a couple of hours cleaning the oven and declared, no more lamb roasts. If you want a lamb roast, have one at a pub. The other thing about lamb roasts is the smell that hangs around after cooking.

Pleasing news

Hippie Niece and her twin daughters and her partner were all admitted to the perinatal depression unit at a major hospital today. HN's partner won't stay there but HN and the girls will and hopefully get the best treatment. Bone Doctor was once a registrar there and says it is very good.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


This bloke is not too bad looking. Who is he? Useless hint, he was born in Wales, so why would any Australian know who he is? I did not spend the whole of Sunday on the internet, just most of it. We lunched in town and went to the Old Treasury Building Museum.

Later edit: Think Australian tv in the 70s and him with longer hair in a style of that period.

Tuesday Transformations

A work still in progress, well the landscaping when the photo was taken. Budapest, Hungary by Neopaint.

Thinking a bit outside of the box. Aurec Sur Loire, France by Patrick Commency.

This one is a bit different being made out of trash and found objects. Lisbon, Portugal by Bordalo.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Musical Monday

I love the eighties. I have showed this clip before but it was a few years ago. I just so much enjoyed seeing it again but I cannot decide which clip I prefer, so here are both to take your pick from, or if you are a glutton, watch both.

Divine died in his sleep as a result of an enlarged heart in 1988 at the age of 42.



Sunday, July 23, 2017

Anakie Fairy Park

I scrambled through my drawers for warm clothing. I found a jumper, a very pilled beanie but could not find my slightly more stylish beret, and an unworn scarf that I bought in a department store in Wursburg, Germany in 2014 and still with the label. I paid €10 for the scarf! It is quite nice. I remember combining a little bit of gay with a lot of smiling friendliness to the obvious gay male staff member behind the counter. I failed to move his grumpy countenance. R had bought a couple of polo shirts and had some unkind words to say about said staff member. I replied, it is the German way of service. It is not personally directed at you.

Saying danke went a long way if someone held a door for you or similar, although R got caught out when after saying danke at some point, and was then spoken to in German.

Well, two paragraphs and you don't even know this is about Little Jo's 10th birthday. I needed cold weather gear as we were going to be outside in the cold for hours.

We went to Anakie Fairy Park to celebrate Little Jo's birthday. As I said to Ex Sis in Law on the day, I will slap the first person who makes a fairy joke at my expense. I slapped myself as I made a joke and no one else did. Just warning you though.

When driving there I had my usual fight with Madame GPS (a name stolen from Gattina), and consequently R telling me off for not following her directions. Ultimately her directions weren't so bad, but I preferred Google Maps directions and I thought I had memorised the directions, but I had not. After Madame GPS pronouncing umpteen times, recalculating route, I pulled over and reset the Madame. I really don't know what to do with Madame GPS. She recently got it so wrong and made a drive much more complicated than it needed to be, but this time she made an uncomplicated route and I did not listen. Perhaps I should revert to paper maps.

We were only ten minutes late arriving and Sister and birthday girl Little Jo were already there. Bone Doctor was on call this day and stayed at home, and probably enjoyed the solitude. Soon after Oldest Niece and her partner with Little M and Little Em arrived, and then Tradie Brother and his beloved dog Cobber, then his former wife, Ex Sis in Law with Firefighting Nephew and Hippie Niece. It would have been four hours of driving there and back for ABI Brother and Mother, so they did not come and the paths are too steep to even push Mother around in a wheelchair.

Sister told me there are quite a number of negative reviews of the park online. I don't know why. I thought it was fantastic. Yes, at times phones were out, but mostly for taking photos and only by adults. Kids forgot all the technology they have at home or carry with them and enjoyed the park immensely.

It was a great family get together in the freezing cold of maybe 12 degrees and with a cold wind blowing.

The day before Hippie Niece had a bit of a meltdown and called her care team, CAT maybe. They told her that as she had called them, they would need to visit her the next day. Ex Sis in Law called them back and said no, make it Monday. She is going on a family outing tomorrow and it will be good for her, and I think it was. There were shadows of her former self appearing, as well they might when she is not caring for her two twin daughters. Even her care team is putting pressure on her to get into routines. Her mother makes sure she goes out for a walk shortly after she gets up in the morning.

The easiest to care for one was with her father and she had diarrhea and Ex Sis in Law's husband was caring for the other who had bronchitis. We gave Ex Sis in Law $500 to share with Hippie Niece's father for expenses. It was going to be $1000, but the Scottish blooded me pulled it back. We may give them a bit more money down the track. Apparently baby formula is very expensive. Finally the rich gay uncle's came through. Ex Sis in Law's reaction was almost like they were expecting it. Well, I thought, they should get up at 4 in the morning or be out working until 3am in a crap job, and just do that for 38 years and they might have some money of their own. Ok, I am being unfair, Ex Sis in Law has always worked hard, but I do get annoyed at times at people's assumptions that we are rich. Even the much more sympathetic R has become a little cross with Hippie Niece for neglecting her daughters, only mentioning it to me. Yes, I am sure it is difficult looking after newborn twins, perhaps boring and stultifying at times. Loss of sleep must make you cranky and constantly tired, but you know, women have been doing this for a long time, and HN's partner is struggling too, but doing his bit with one child to care for. But, as I said to R, she does really have mental health problems. One of the drugs she is taking has a side effect of being an appetite stimulant, so she has put on weight too.

Anyway, the Fairy Park was just brilliant and we had a lovely day. Sister brought along a lot of sausages which went on the barbeque to be served with bread or rolls with lots of tomato sauce. As usual, the plain beef supermarket sausages were favoured by all over the lamb and rosemary and chicken. There were plenty of nibbles and sandwiches and soft drink.

We met at 10.30, another reason for Mother to not come (she likes to arrive at about 1pm), and it meant we finished early and were home not long after 3.00.

It used to be that the animated displayed operated by coin in the slot and there wasn't an entrance fee. Now there is an entrance fee and no coin in the slot operation.

These taps, about six of them, operate different water jets in the fountain above.

On a warmer day the place must get packed. It was the last day of school holidays and the park was then closing for maintenance for a couple of months.

It was lovely to see the surrounding countryside.

There were so many animated fairy story telling displays that operated at the push of buttons.

That would be Jack up the beanstalk.

The site is very hilly and unsuitable for even wheelchairs. Because you only walk a short distance from one display to another, it is not tiring at all.

I am not sure which fairy tale this is about, with the ugly man hanging over the balcony.

Kids over 50 years old tried to splash each other with water by throwing into the wishing well twenty cent pieces with great force. The kids would be Sister and Tradie Brother. They are of a close age and get along well.

I said Puff, the Magic Dragon, not poof.

Hansel and Gretel.

They complain about wind farms spoiling views but not about telecommunication towers. Everyone on the land wants a nearby telecommunication tower.

A beauty asleep.

Very Australian.

Of course kids can get on these critters. I'm not at all saying the park is unsafe but in these safety conscious days, there were plenty of ways for kids to injure themselves, if they so desired. It was good to see and I don't believe I heard one child crying that day, not even the ones I kicked out of the way to take photos.

One very funny thing was a rock looking tower about three metres tall and about a metre diameter at the base. On it was a button with a notice that said "Do not press". Oldest Niece went up and pressed the button and proclaimed that nothing happened. What she didn't see was fine jet of water come out the side of the tower and wet someone, who looked around to see where the water came from, expecting it came from an elevated castle wall above where kids were. Later we passed by again and I positioned myself so that a couple of us, not me of course, would be where the water jet came from. I told Oldest Niece to try the button again. She said, nothing will happen, and as she pressed, a water jet shot at her, not the people at the side. Very funny and it was only a little spray.

The arched shelter with many tables and chairs and a barbeque.

The birthday girl's cake. Automan ninjas or something like that.

A visitor after crumbs.

We could spot the sea some distance away. At the highest point there was a viewing telescope.

Some of the best photos of course had people in them, laughing and smiling happy people. It was a great day.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Learn with me

I won't do anything too big or detailed but there are some things I want to know about.

Firstly, do you remember me mentioning that on the various hop on hop off buses we used in Europe, the recorded announcements had various language options, two of which Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese. I want to know how different these same languages are. Can they understand each other?

Let me look. As a last resort I will ask Sami. Yep, easy to find out. Yes, it is a bit like British English and American English, differences and accents, but mostly understandable. I guess for ease for the listener they use the two different forms of Portuguese on the buses.

Next, I understand how air conditioners cool. They are like your 'fridge. A gas is compressed and becomes cold and air is blown through a grill where the gas circulates. Easy, but how do they heat. They take warm air from outside and pump it inside. Really? What warm air? It is freezing outside. How can they find warm air outside? I am sure there is an electric heating element somewhere. Maybe you can tell me how it works. I have given up after reading too many times about how an air conditioner heats. And are heat pumps the same as air conditioner heating?

Back to Portugal. I have been reading a biography of Dame Daphne Park on my electric reading machine, she being one of the first women in Britain's MI6 or SIS as it was known. I haven't finished the book but I expect she becomes head of MI6. There was a reference to communist uprising in Portugal in the 1970s, and naturally enough, British spooks interfered so that there would be a good outcome for the the west. I know nothing of this uprising. Let me look. Right, that is all to do with Carnation Day, celebrated on Australia's Anzac Day, also the day we arrived in Lisbon. Why did I not connect the two? Sami wrote about it back here.

I haven't finished with air conditioners yet. You may remember our air con evaporative tray, with the steam off the water heating element that failed. I was extracting about five litres of water a week by sucking up the water with a soft plastic bottle and a car wash sponge (thanks River) , but the amount of water slowly reduced and now the tray has dried out altogether. Why do they produce water and why has it dried out? Another easy one. While I don't know the process, when the air inside your home is damp, that is humid, the air conditioner takes the humidity out of the air and turns it into water, which is what fills our tray. This makes sense and the evaporating tray problem happened just after we returned from our four week holiday and there must have been a lot of moist air inside and it took time to dry it out. Our air con heating has been running from about 6am to 11pm, and so the air in our apartment is now very dry, as are the surfaces and fabrics, including of course the carpet. So, no more water production in the tray.  Wrong. The tray as I typed that had filled with water. At times when it is cooling in summer, it makes a lot of water. I suppose it is for the same reason, but why in winter? I'll leave that for another day. (Some rainwater has gone into the tray over the last couple of days.)

The Greens??? They are toppling out of our Federal Parliament at quite a rate because they are dual nationals. I agree with the principle that you should only be citizen of Australia and do not have an allegiance to another country, and therefore will only govern in Australia's interest.

Having said that, it is most unfortunate that two Greens Senators have had to resign. That they did not know they were dual citizens is beyond belief and they are suffering the consequences of their 'ignorance' and have had to resign from Parliament. In the case of Larissa Waters, how did she not know she was born in Canada and was also a citizen of that country? (Later, she was an unfortunate victim of a change of Canadian law when she was one week old, but still, she should have known) How can she get rid of Canadian citizenship? Google answers me satisfactorily again, yet it won't tell me the meaning of life. Apparently it is quite simple. You fill in a form.

R is more up to speed about such matters for a change, and tells me the Liberal and Labor Party members have already been put through a machine and come up clean on the citizenship front. How unfortunate. I hoped we might be rid of conservative party Mathias Cormann. Apparently his Australian citizenship killed his Belgian citizenship. Not so in the case of Larissa Waters and Canada. Even the idealistic Greens Party disappoints.

Back to the Dame Daphne Park biography, of course she was in MI6 during the time of the unmasking of the English spooks who were double agents, serving Russia. It was a field day for the British tabloids, with tales of sex, naked pool parties, homosexuality and spies.  I was very amused to read a learned American back then offering his opinion that while his country understood sex and understood spying, it could not understand how the British had managed to combine the two.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Funny Friday

A couple of things I have saved as they amused me at the time.

This one from the blog of John Gray of Wales.

A couple is two, so that is your bloomin' lot.

Sunday Teaser

Here is the story of Anakie Fairy Park, where last Sunday we celebrated Little Jo's tenth birthday. Park photos on Sunday, hopefully. I hope these are readable for you.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Light rail or tram?

Light rail is a pompous mouthful to make something old seem new. I prefer tram.

The variety of sources I have used for this post is very wide, but principally, it older men who are very experienced with public transport and are prone to ranting and talking about the good old days, and how Europe does it so much better. Having seen some train and train systems in Europe, they are probably right.

Without great map knowledge of Sydney, the first criticism I heard of Sydney's proposed new light rail system is that while it is good for the line to connect Circular Quay to Central (the principal train station), it should have then gone down Oxford Street and turned into Anzac Parade. Instead its route from Central has meant demolition of some properties and the tram running along quite narrow streets, with a good bit of extra infrastructure needed. I have heard reasons why this became the plan, but I am doubtful. It is possible that if the tram ran along Oxford Street, it would be overwhelmed with numbers. Err, don't build anything where it will be too popular. Later: Having a look at a map, it is impractical to service both Central and Oxford Street.

Very soon after the light rail project was announced, forecast patronage figures were looked at and it was decided to double the length of the trams ordered, to 60 metres, That is a very long tram and it must be getting close to what is normally known as a train. There is no doubt in my mind that Sydney's new light rail will be popular.

However, as I believe per a press release, Sydney was not prepared to learn any lessons from one of the world's oldest and largest tram systems, in Melbourne. Apparently Melbourne is old fashioned and has trams on streets. Sydney is building a light rail line. Well, Melbourne does actually have light rail too. Nor was Sydney prepared to learn any lessons from Queensland's brilliant Gold Coast light rail with the vehicles having complete priority over traffic. Having seen how well it worked last year (maybe the year before), it is a blueprint for any light rail system. That is not to say it is without issues, though.

There are good aspects and bad aspects about Melbourne's tram system being run by a French company. Whether it comes from Europe or not, Melbourne is one of the experts in fast tram track replacement and construction. Instead of setting the tracks in quick setting concrete, that later requires a jackhammer to break up, a shallow compacted base is laid, topped with concrete sleepers, a shallow layer of concrete to hold the sleepers and rails in place , then topped with bitumen. The bitumen topping is aesthetically much better, blending with the road, does not break like concrete and is much easier to work with when repair is necessary. Best of all, it is quieter as the trams run along the track.

I suspect Canberra is going down the same road as Sydney with its new light rail, and the real point is the over engineering. Sydney is laying its tracks in concrete over a metre deep in places. This is so unnecessary and I don't know why? Of course Melbourne knows nothing about trams and its advice on track construction would not be welcome.

The grumpy old transport experts often talk about Sydney's existing light rail, from Central to Dulwich Hill. The service is very poor. It is very slow, being impeded by a lack of traffic light priority, (hello Adelaide's tram to Glenelg), overcrowding and terrible bunching of trams. That is, three trams arrive together, then there is not one for twenty minutes.

There are two major accusations at Sydney's new light rail. The first is that it is massively over engineered, and consequently very costly, and so because of the cost, no more light rails will be considered as they are clearly too expensive to build.

The second goes by the name of APS. Trams need power and normally pick up the power from overhead wires. The mass of tram wires in the sky were quite ugly in the past, but now with modern materials, they are much more simple and dare I say, almost elegant. Nevertheless, the elegant simplicity of overhead wires was deemed too much for George Street in the Sydney city, so the trams will use APS within a section of George Street. What is APS?

APS is a French acronym, meaningless to most of us, but it is a system where the tram picks up power from a source built into the road. It is not dissimilar to London's Tube where the trains pick up power from a third rail in between the two tracks. A picture can tell a thousand words. Here is a photo where a new tram line was built in an historic area of Bordeaux. It was decided overhead wires would spoil the area, so the APS system was used. The metal where the tram picks up power is visible between the sets of tracks.

Of course you can't have a live rail in the middle of the road. People would get fried when they step on it, so it is only active when the tram is passing over it. The system will be used in George Street between Circular Quay and Park Street in the city. From thereon, it will be the standard overhead wires. The arguments I have heard against the system are as follows.

It is very expensive to install, much more so than the usual overhead wires. While not so widely done now, once the wires were just attached to buildings, with no poles needed for support, as you can see in this first photo I took when we were in Yurong Street, East Sydney. The wires were attached to decorative rosettes bolted into brick walls and there are still many to be seen on Sydney buildings.

It is not yet a reliable technology and could be affected by heavy deluges which Sydney is prone to. Of course it does not just add to the cost of construction. Trams will have to be equipped to use the system. It may well not work as planned and wires might go up at a later point anyway.

Anyway, what would I know as I am from Melbourne and we have only had trams running continuously since 1884 and light rail since 1987.