Friday, September 29, 2006

Set top Boxes

Well the spring school holidays are almost over. The electricity grid will get back to normal supply when all the computers are turned off, and the kiddy winks are sent back to school. Having the puppies [kids] home for this two weeks has yet again been an eye opener. The lack of outdoor activity, the sit around watching DVDs and playing computer games takes up soooooooooo much time. In true grumpy old dog style, I find myself in the role of authoritarian dad. Kicking arse and making them go around picking up their dirty bowls, glasses, plates, fruit peel, etc. etc. This is usually met with sullen silence or hysterical shouting. So if the computer can survive the next 72 hours of WOW we can get back to normal programming. Which means for 6 hours a day the family computer sits in serene silence. Bliss.

To the set top box, for those who do not know, the name 'Digital set top box' has been given to a piece of technology that can convert an analogue tv signal to digital signal. The end result being you get clearer pictures and a better reception. Here in Australia our national broadcaster is called the ABC unfortunately the signal it sends out is consistently the worst of the free to air channels. It has become so bad here in Melbourne that it looks like you are watching tv through a snow storm with a driving wind blowing across the screen. Not so if you have the set top box. Or so I am told, perfect picture and even additional programming is available. So when the kiddy winks get out of the way and I get a spare few dollars I will go and get me one.
Glad to be back Hi to everyone who dibs and dabs into this blog.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Spring Cleaning

Very busy at the moment spring cleaning and getting ready to go away.

I was cleaning a fax/phone today and remembered how my family back in the UK used to have a woman come around about once a year to clean the telephone. The rationale behind having a professional cleaning service for a big black phone is beyond me. She was very serious about her job and would set herself up with cleaning cloths and a bottle of something like methylated spirits and give the phone a 20 minute work over. She had a pretend hand piece that was of a similar weight to the real one, and she would rest this on the cradle while she cleaned the hand piece every which way. I must of watched her cause I can see her as clear today in her dark outfit, a bit like a uniform, that she wore. I think the thought was that something you spoke into at such a close range was going to spread germs.

If this was the case I think you might of cleaned it weekly or even daily. But at least we had a clean phone for a couple of days a year, even if it was black and you couldn't tell, we knew.

The most common residues found on escalator hand rails, include snot and saliva. I think there may also be a fluid you wouldn't expect to be outside your pants on there too.
So onward and upward with the spring cleaning clean away the winter residues what ever they may be.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Recycle Water

Today there is an article in The Age [News paper] about using recycled water to cool a coal fired power station and then use the clean water that was being used as drinking water for Melbourne. There appears to be two main areas of concern.

1] The farmers from the area don't want their water, currently held in a dam to go to Melbourne.

2] The power station owners say the recycled water isn't clean enough.

These two statements alone give credence to my thoughts that you don't give the public a choice when it comes to water and recycling or other ways of treatment. Every one has a issue with water and most of us are wrong most of the time.

So here is the article that outlines the proposal and opposition.


THE Bracks Government is facing a backlash from Gippsland over a $1.5 billion plan to secure Melbourne's drinking water supply for 50 years by replacing billions of litres of fresh water used by Latrobe Valley power stations with treated effluent from the city.

With Victoria in the grip of a water crisis, the Government is set to begin working out funding options for the Eastern Water Recycling proposal after a two-year feasibility study found the plan to be viable.

In what would be the biggest water recycling project in Australia, 116 billion litres of fresh water now used to cool the coal-fired Hazelwood, Yallourn and Loy Yang power stations each year would be replaced with recycled wastewater piped from outer suburban Carrum.

Fresh water from Gippsland's Blue Rock Dam would be used to secure drinking water supplies in Melbourne, Geelong and possibly Ballarat, according to Government planning documents obtained by The Age.

The project would also reduce by 85 per cent each year the controversial release of billions of litres of effluent into the ocean from the Gunnamatta outfall on the Mornington Peninsula.

With the Government having ruled out building new dams and Melbourne's population forecast to grow by 1 million by 2030, Labor MPs are anxious for a big project to provide more water security across the state. "(The Eastern Water project) is an extremely exciting project for the Government … it has enormous potential for Melbourne and the whole state if it can be done," a senior Labor MP told The Age.

"I think it will become an imperative that it will need to be done. No government can sit back and do nothing."

But an investigation by The Age has revealed that the Government faces serious political and economic challenges in bringing the project to fruition. The investigation found:

■ Strong opposition from local councils in Gippsland and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union over perceptions that the proposal amounts to a theft of the region's prime water resource to benefit Melbourne.

■ The Government is in dispute with power station owners over the quality of treated effluent. The Government has proposed to treat the water to a lower standard that what the power stations claim to require.

■ Legislation could be introduced forcing the power stations to give up their fresh water.

■ A local Labor MP, Brendan Jenkins, has criticised the Government over how Gippslanders have been consulted.

In an attempt to win support from councils in Gippsland, Water Minister John Thwaites and project director Brian Bayley have visited the Latrobe Valley in recent months. Both declined to be interviewed about the proposal, but Mr Bayley, the former chief of Melbourne Water, has previously said the project could potentially secure Melbourne's water supply for 50 years.

It appears their lobbying has been unsuccessful. Latrobe City Council Mayor Lisa Price told The Age she could not understand why Gippsland should give up one of its main economic advantages — an abundance of fresh water — for places such as Melbourne, Geelong and Ballarat to be developed further.

"We understand our responsibility to the rest of the state. We have got the gas, the power and the water. But it has got to the stage where enough is enough.

■ 192 Victorian towns have water restrictions: 84 on low level, 67 on moderate and 41 high level.

■ Melbourne: permanent restrictions from September 1.

■ Geelong: stage one.

■ Ballarat: stage two.

■ Bendigo: severe restrictions — lawn watering banned.

■ Recent $220 million Government plan to pipe irrigation water to Ballarat and Bendigo.

"We cannot go on propping up the state at our own expense," Cr Price said.

Wellington Shire Council chief executive Lyndon Webb said the Government was treating Gippsland as a "milking cow" for the rest of the state, and it had failed to consult the local community.

Victorian Nationals leader Peter Ryan, a Gippslander, said the Latrobe Valley was being viewed by the Government as a "receptacle for Melbourne's waste".

Greg Hardy, secretary of the CFMEU's mining and energy division, said the use of treated effluent could increase health risks to workers at the power stations. But of greater concern to the union was the "pillaging" of Gippsland for the benefit of Melbourne.

Before water is diverted anywhere, the Government has to get the power station owners to give up their rights to fresh water from Blue Rock Dam and accept recycled waste water.

The Age believes the companies want the Government to pay for the more expensive reverse osmosis technology to treat the waste water going to each power station. The Government has so far proposed to use reverse osmosis only at Hazelwood and the cheaper, less effective ultra-filtration technology at Yallourn and Loy Yang.

The power station owners are also disappointed with the level of consultation from the Government. "It can't work without us," a senior power company official told The Age.

Government figures have warned that legislation might be introduced to force power stations to give up their water rights.

Mr Jenkins, the Labor MP for Morwell, supports the project but agrees with the criticism of the Government over its failure to consult properly. "There's no doubt that we've got to do a better job of engaging the Gippsland community with the proposals being put forward and investigated," he said.

A spokesman for Mr Thwaites said the Government was still considering the feasibility study and would not comment on agreements with power station owners or whether the proposal would be part of Labor's election campaign.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Medibank Private

Yes on that old hairy chestnut again. Why would the government want to sell Medibank Private when 66% of the population don't want it sold. They are running enormous surpluses and only give those to the rich in the way of tax cuts. So why? Apart from the obvious answer that it is ideological in nature.
So now we hear they are going to hide the sale until after the Election. We aren't very good at understanding who actually owns these public assets. So we probably wont even notice when and if the coalition get re-elected.
We also don't seem to get the whole health provision thing either. We think if we pay to a private system it is in some way better. Choice is given as an important factor.
As a community we are paying a fortune to the health services and there is not always value for money.
The private health funds don't really help in this equation they appear to be an added layer of bureaucracy and expense.

Friday, September 08, 2006


Sometimes you have nothing to say and it is best to say nothing and that is how I felt this morning. Just your average end of the week, day. Not having to work this weekend.

Then someone told me a story, here it is.

This guy used to have a guitar shop, here in Melbourne, he had gone to the USA to buy guitars. He rattled off names of the guitars mainly electric and semi acoustic. Good guitars, classics, made by Les Paul. Well he had got his haul of guitars, about 20 of them back to his shop and had them locked away in display cabinets, with a few still out on the shop floor. He had been back only 3 days. He came into his shop to find they had all gone. Stolen all of them.

Well he was beside himself. It was his life savings gone, they were valued at $4,000.00 a pop. He didn't know what to do. In desperation he called on a freind of his mothers who read coffee dregs. I know it sounds strange but he was telling the truth. The woman looks at the coffee cup and says you have had a big loss. A very expensive loss. He nodded and waited to see if she could come up with any answers to his problem. All she said was, 'Don't worry a woman with [white hair] has all the answers to your problem, and with in three days you will know more.

He was perplexed cause he didn't know anyone with white hair. Come Monday morning he is back in his shop, he has just opened up when a young woman with blonde hair came in his shop. Immediately he knew this was the woman the coffee woman had been talking about. She was known to him, so he went straight up to her and asked her what she knew about the missing guitars. She was taken aback, and asked 'How did you know, I knew.'
He just told her that if she didn't tell him everything he would go to the police. So she told him what she knew.

It turned out that a father and son who ran a TV repair shop down the road [about 5 shops away] had come across the roofs of the adjacent shops, [it was part of a terrace] and come down through a sky light and stolen all 20 guitars. They had taken them back to their shop and hidden them under the floor and in the attic.
He took this information to the police who found it hard to understand how he came to know how they had done the robbery. [He never told them about the coffee cup reader or the 'white hair’ woman.

The down side was the guitars were held by the police as evidence for 9 months. And seeing as some of the guitars were already for customers who had left deposits on them, he had to pay back the deposits and wait for the guitars to be made available.


Wednesday, September 06, 2006


We had the driest and warmest August in living memory, maybe longer depending on the age of our oldest citizens and their ability to remember.
At last a night of rain over most of Victoria is a pleasant surprise. The Liberals are talking up another dam. We had the mother of all dams a few years back. [Melbourne will never have water restrictions again] type dam. Well that didn't last forever did it. We are addicted to water, especially in the suburbs, where large gardens and acres of kerb side lawns proliferate.

I've been thinking lately that, after years of growth on all levels, from size of our houses, cars, salaries, our kids, probably even our hose pipes. In a matter of no time we have been hit by drought, rising oil prices, and a lack of confidence of our future. Can you imagine a suburbia with no gardens, and empty roads, and people who have lost their ability to cope with adversity.

I remember being told as a kid that more than half the world carry their daily water needs from well to village. This bit of info was delivered after a childhood complaint about some modern appliance not being available for immediate use. Well we may return to those days. Already you can't build a new house or extension to an existing without providing a rain water tank. These were discouraged for many a year, by governments of both persuasions.

Rain is a welcome relief but a night of rain isn't going to get us out of the woods. We need new/old ways of recycling/reusing water.
As of September 1 we are on a higher level of water restrictions and Summer is on the way.


Friday, September 01, 2006

Bread of life

Grains just ain't grains.
Apparently if you buy so called, whole grain bread in the super-market. The chances are it has had it's fibre taken out of it and replace with some other sort of fibre. Now why they do that I do not know. But the end result is the bread is probably cheaper, can be cooked in a steam oven, lasts longer on the super market shelf, and you can use white flour which is easier to get hold of than a better quality stone ground wholemeal flour.

Two places you go to, to get parts of your life fixed that you have little or no control over the service and the costs. Are the Dentist and the Mechanic for the car. I suppose you could add other examples to the list. But those two come to mind. I have been ripped off by dentists, so many times almost as many as the mechanics, who come first.

If there is no live music to listen to on a Saturday night, you best make your own. Get to it.