Saturday, January 13, 2024

Is Australia a good place?

Snowy made this comment on one of my blog posts and I've given considerable thought to a reply, all of 30 seconds.

"Many of the loveliest English and American Christmas songs contain references to snow, so I'm wondering if they get played much where you are. Like Kylie, I choose the photo of your own little tree as my favorite. Much of what I know of scenes in Australia come from photos on your blog and others, and they always portray a country that is cleaner and more prosperous than America. I don't know if you've even been here, but is that true do you think, or are the photos I see only taken in the prettier areas?

Random thoughts and writing spilled out.

Yes, we do have Christmas songs that mention snow. From English books in my young years, swans were white, but they are black in Australia. I was surprised to learn this when I was in my teens. We take our Christmas traditions from England, and in temps of 40/105 we will still cook a hot roast meal for Christmas. Well, maybe not so much nowadays, which is strange as we now have aircon and did not back in the days of the oven roasting away. 

Australia more or less has the English parliamentary system. While Britain does not exercise power over Australia, it potentially can. If King Charles III tells us to jump, we must. But Kingy Charlie knows that if he did, we would quickly become a republic.

In 2014 we toured Canada from the west coast to Toronto and then flew to New York and spent a week there. I didn't care for NY much but we did see many of the great tourist sites. It is an amazing city, but not the real America. Trump type supporters were not evident in NYC, long before he became President. NYC is a great multicultural city with a dependence on public transport, walking and acceptance. No massive parking lots in NYC. 

Australian, clean, green and lovely. It is for some, but not all. There is poverty in spite of our quite good social security for all and theoretical free medical care. 

A drunk drug addict lying passed out in a gutter will be picked up an ambulance, taken to hospital, treated and here is a difference. His free public hospital treatment was good but he is then referred on to other services at no cost. As I understand his life will be saved in the US at no cost to him, but there is not ongoing public medical care or treatment.  At times here there is a long wait for public health treatment but if it an urgent problem, you will get the best of care by highly qualified specialist doctors at no cost. 

Our private medical care system is terrific, if you can afford it. Even with private health insurance, still you will be so much out of pocket.  

Because of our social security system and health care, there isn't terrible poverty that can be seen in America. Nevertheless we do have people living in poverty here, and homeless people, some by choice, some not. 

We are constantly urged to be philanthropic but we see care for the less fortunate as a government matter and we pay taxes to ensure that the system is maintained.

To actually answer your question Snowy, I live in a very nice part of a greater city of 5 million, but most of greater Melbourne is clean with everyone putting rubbish in the right bins and not dropping rubbish on the street. It is quite a social crime to drop litter and to not pick up after your dog. 

Just a memory, thirty years ago I was at the corner of Brighton Road and Chapel Street and a woman threw rubbish out her car window from the passenger seat. I picked up an aluminium can and I think a cigarette packet and handed them back to her through the car window and I think I said something like, You must have accidently dropped these. She thanked me for returning her rubbish. I've never seen such a disposal of rubbish since.

I hate tipping, although I do it at times here when someone goes beyond the normal expectation, as long as they are not cloying as we experienced in New York, that is being nice with the hope of good tip. When a waitress leans over you to serve you your meal with three quarters of her tits exposed an inch from your face, well, not great. Wait staff here would be paid about AU$24 an hour. Not a fortune but nearly an adequate wage. The pay may seem high here, but costs are high too. 

I disliked in the US that the price on products to buy were not what you were charged at payment at the register. This tax, that tax and the default voluntary environmental tax in New York State, bah. Some here press for small government but most recognise there are good reasons for our government to look after the environment, the health of its citizens, and their living standard. 

It is hard to judge on prosperity. Our wage levels sound comparatively high, but our cost of living is high.

We are a bit like Britain in our traditions, socially perhaps a bit like Canada and and we take in a lot of US culture. We take both the best and worst from these countries. But with extraordinary immigration levels, our traditions are changing. 

I can't get past guns in the US. Here you could be a weird statistic as a normal law abiding citizen and be shot by a gun. Criminals here do seem to have access to guns, but normal people don't. I lost a US blog friend by asking her if she could really shoot a person if that person invaded her property. That she and her husband had guns for self defence at home surprised me. The numbers of mass shootings in the US is beyond the pale, and so common they barely make the world news. A mass shooting in Prague certainly made the world news. Do Americans have any idea where Prague is located on a world map?

To summarise, we have heaps of problems in Australia, and we have gritty areas but nothing like that in America. Today I walked along a narrow city lane created because of a building project and it stank of stale urine and had horrible graffiti on hoardings. 

The vicious division present now in the US is hard to comprehend. No matter who the Democrat leader is for your next election, I hope the US rejects all things Trumpian and far right ultra conservative bible bashing hypocritical bastards, women included. 

MAGA has had the opposite effect to what was intended by its name. The world sees it as a backward step.

I am not sure if I really answered your question Snowy, but they are my thoughts. Australia is an ok place but does have its own issues.  My best wishes to you and Peggy, along with your cats.

Friday, January 12, 2024

Friday Funny

This briefly amused me. The cats' attention spans were not bad, but they did eventually gaze away. Young people short attention span, just like teens and 66 year old men.

Thursday, January 11, 2024

To toon with Jo

We took Jo into town to see the Myer Christmas windows. The queues were too long. I think we brunched at Lincontro, then took her to her to see the singing reindeer, and then Fed Square to see the Christmas Tree and other Federation Square decorations.

It was then on to the National Gallery of Victoria to see an outdoor installation behind the building, where last summer or the one before we took the cafe latte coloured twins to wade in the pool with pink water.

This a very old pic and I correctly thought Jo had not seen it. I mentioned it had been very hot in Sydney and look what happened to the Mr Whippy van. She made an expression as she would have to a dad joke. 


Captain Cratehead mapped the coast of Australia, not perfectly but very well.



As we entered the gallery past the water wall, I said to Jo, "Go on. I know you want to". She knew what I meant and promptly put her hand on the glass with water running over it. Interesting larger than life statues greeted us at the gallery.



This was rather underwhelming. It is a sphere that partially deflates then pumps up again to full size. I am not sure what I expected it to really do.


There is always  something interesting behind the water wall.


We then took her to slightly subversive Dangerfield where we paid for what she chose as Christmas present. Unlike her mothers, she is a dress and skirt person. She bought a white see through dress with a satin looking lining. It looked nice and she wore it Boxing Day. The tax fraud logo is written in the style and colours of I think our social security department. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Nothing to publish

I was on a couple of trains today. I moved seats once to get away from very loud teenage girls who weren't describing their boyfriends in detail but talking shite.

A lass seated on the other side of the aisle decided we all needed to be entertained by what was emanating from her phone.

So far, no one sat in the seat next to me, but then a large lad did. For God's sake, noise was coming out from his phone too.  WTF?

There are corded earphones that can bought for a couple of dollars. The more popular earbuds cost more, especially if you want the branded ones but you can get them cheaper, by not buying the propriety brands.

In a Footscray station lift yesterday I was subjected to YMCA playing from a phone at a loud level.

What is this all about, unnecessarily subjecting other people to what you are listening to?

Later edit: The noise coming from the phones were from media, not voice calls, voice calls being bad enough. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Queenscliff 3

It was Boxing Day, a public holiday and the day Ex Sis in Law normally hosts a Christmas family get together. I am not sure if it is a permanent arranged but this year she handed over to her daughter, Oldest Niece. A direct drive on a motorway would take about 30 minutes, but it could not be. We were on one side of Port Phillip and Oldest Niece is on the other. 

Sister picked us up just after 9 and we lined up for the 10 o'clock ferry from Queenscliff to Sorrento. We abandoned the car to buy coffee but were back in the car in good time to drive on. Light cars went on first and then SUVs. Sister was driving Bone Doctor's 'truck' a large proper 4 wheel drive. Sister was getting very impatient and just as impatiently drove once off the ferry, trying to 'push' the cars in front up to the speed limit in a futile effort. The ferry trip is around 40 minutes and the drive 30 plus minutes. The ferry is terribly expensive; car, adult, child and two seniors well over $200 return with Sister's local person discount but it avoids a drive of nearly three hours at best, and by ferry is quite a pleasant trip. 

We aren't terribly impressed that Oldest Niece asked for a contribution of $20 per person towards the cost of hosting the Christmas party. This may have come from her mother. I am not sure. It was a lovely afternoon with all the Christmas food you can imagine and absolutely crazy with with  eight children ranging from 18 months to 9 years old. Enjoy them while you can. They grow up so quickly. 

If I knew they were short of money or that it was more than they wanted to spend, I would quite happily given them a couple of hundred dollars towards the hosting the Christmas event. Asking for payment seems just plain tacky.

Jo had a working shift starting at 5pm, so we left quite early after gift giving to catch the 3pm ferry back. We didn't think we would make it and it was bit like the car flying over a closing lift bridge, but sister made it and we were on board at 2.58 for the 3.00 departure. 

Then Jo received a message that her work shift, involving holiday penalty rates, was cancelled. How can a workplace do this? Our day was arranged around getting her to work by 5pm. I was fuming at the injustice towards casual workers (distinct to part time workers) and the knock on effect to others. The gubbermint needs to do something.  

It was a lovely day but as Jo suggested, her social capital was exhausted and mien Gott, once back at our cottage, I felt drained of all social capital. R and I bought a takeaway pizza for dinner but did not eat much. Pizza never goes to waste. One slice came back to Melbourne in the esky (insulated chiller carry box with ice blocks).

It was a wonderful day really, full of family fun and nice food. We are fortunate.

Here comes our ferry to Sorrento, a smudge on the horizon. 


From the cafe where we drank coffee before departure. The seas looks rough but the ferry is purpose designed to deal with The Rip


The ferry terminal.


Here she comes.


Car loading was very quick. The staff really knew what they were doing. As far I could see, there was less than five vacant car spaces.


'We'll be back soon Queenscliff'. 


We passed the Spirit of Tasmania as we returned, the ferry to our island state Tasmania. Even though subsidised by our Federal Government as being part of national highway Route 1, it too is expensive.


Monday, January 8, 2024

Monday Mural

Joining with Sami and others for Monday Mural. 

A modest mural this week but about an important person.

If you head up the modest hill of Little Bourke Street in the city you will come to Amphlett Lane, named in honour of the late musician Chrissy Amphlett, front person of the band Divinyls. Chrissie was marvellously sexual, political, wicked and subversive.

Chrissy was diagnosed with MS in 2007, breast cancer in 2010 and she declared she was cancer free the following year. Because of the MS she was unable to receive the usual breast cancer treatment and sadly died at the age of 53 in her Manhattan apartment in 2013.



Here's a clip of  Chrissy performing in a remastered version of the 1985 hit It's a Fine Line Between Pleasure and Pain..

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Sunday Selections

I'm joining with Elephant's Child, River, and others for Sunday Selections. There is a bit of a building focus this Sunday.

This building is close to the Praise Centre Church (yes, my eyes rolled) at the corner of Alma Road, Hawthorn Road and Dandenong Road. I should research it but I am becoming increasingly lazy. I suspect it was a church related home for the leader of whatever religion was in the nearby church. 


Late afternoon snack.


The construction of wankily named The Muse is ongoing. It has blocked some of our views but once complete, we will still have better views than we did before the huge old office block was demolished. 


Early spring looking down St Kilda Road. The London plane trees are in leaf but elms aren't yet.


David Jones is a  posh department store, with it name taken from a Sydney store.


Look more closely and  you can see the name of the old department store Buckley and Nunn. This name led to the local expression, 'You have Buckley's chance', meaning no chance. Buckley and Nunn (none). 


This was taken from the car window. I should visit it to see if there is an explanatory plaque. Or I could Google it. Better to visit. It would be an outing for a lazy retired person.


A very old yacht sailing on Port Phillip. Isn't it just lovely.


"Auntie Andrew," Jo asked. "What is this focus of your photo? (She speaks a bit proper)" 
"Dearest child, just the concertina fabric between the articulation joints of this modified B2 class tram." I think she and R rolled their eyes. It was a white lie to protect the innocent.

Words #397

I pronounce words so differently to many people in Australia. I don't know why. It is just how I speak. Here are some  examples. Integra...