Archive for February, 2009

Melbourne Motor Show 2009

toyota_hc-cv_conceptWell, it’s coming up to “Marvelous March” which is kicked off with the annual motor show.  It’s going to be the toughest year in a while for many of the auto manufacturers, so hopefully they put some cars on display that will put them back on the track to profitability. According to a friend working at Holden, GM/Holden is cutting back on expenses this year and employees aren’t getting free tickets to this year’s show.

I went to the last couple of shows and found it was almost the same as the previous year’s show. The complaints from this blog going back a few years continue as many of the cars were locked.  The show was also very focused on family cars, and not too exciting although seeing the Lamborghini’s and Ferraris always do the job.  The biggest highlight for me was having my face massaged by a beautiful women but I digress.

Looks like hybrids and smaller/fuel efficient cars are the focus this year.  The Toyota HC-CV Camry concept seems like a good cross between convential Camry styling with a slight futuristc look.  Honda has their own hybrid to compete. I guess if you are in the market to buy a new car, it’s a helpful show but I probably would wait 5 years in between shows, although in 5 years time there may be dramatically less car companies on the road.

Melbourne Motor Show

Melbourne Exhibition Center, Now until March 9

Adults: $19  ($17 in 2006, $16.50 in 2005)


Bushfire thoughts

As the previous posts have extensively covered, large areas of Victoria are still burning. People have died, undoubtedly more than have been found so far. Communities (the physical parts of them, at least) are being destroyed. At the moment, the air in Melbourne is full of ash, because of an anticyclonic system sweeping weather down from the north. The sun has this eerie yellow-orange light, that most of us here remember from the last huge bushfires (not that long ago at all).

Some news sources have breathlessly listed the donations made by “Corporate Australia”, $14 million combined from the richest corporations by my latest count; fairly piddling, token amounts, considering the proportion of the countrys wealth controlled by some of these contributors (i suggested they donate their entire tax savings since Howard came to office… it seems fair). As usual for this sort of thing, “Non-Corporate” Australia has been far more impressive, reaching the $50 million mark – a level that is actually going to make some kind of a dent in the damage that has been done, though more is still needed.

You can donate at the Australian Red Cross website.

I have a friend who has been in view of the fires; in Warrandyte, on the edge of the suburbs. He’s described some pretty terrifying sights, like being able to watch individual gum trees explode (eucalyptus oils + heat) through his binoculars. They’re not very far away at all.

Have been tracking down information on Flowerdale, the town where i grew up (we moved when i was eight). It’s apparently been pretty badly hit, do a Google search for the town right now and you’ll find more of those nightmarish pictures of burnt out cars sitting in the middle of the road.

After we moved, the people who bought our old house let a whole bunch of trees grow up close to the house itself. I remember my parents commenting on that. It’s a fairly dangerous thing to do. I only spent Prep and Grade 1 there, but in school we had it drummed into us that you don’t let leaf litter get near the house, among other things.

I wonder how they are. I hope they’re okay. I might drive up in winter, when i won’t be getting in the way of emergency crews (or fires), and see if the house is still there.

Generosity of everyone

It is amazing how generous people can be; here in Victoria, across Australia and across the world. So, far the Australian Red Cross Victorian Bushfire Fund has raised at least 51 million today.

And everyday, there is a new fundraising event, from cricket matches, AFL games, to tonight’s channel nine telethon Live streaming of Channel 9 telethon for Bushfire Fund. It is beginning to be difficult to keep track of all the events. Herald Sun is attempting to list all known events in case there are con artists out here who are trying to benefit from all this.

Personally, I’m looking forward to tomorrow, not because its Friday the 13th, but because Coles will donate all profits earned on Friday to the Red Cross bushfire fund. It is the only time to shop at Coles.

Target 155- Only 8 Years of Water Left

Are you under 155?

Are you under 155?

I was curious to see what our water levels were the other day. According to Melbourne Water, our dams are at about 32%, roughly 4% lower than it was last year. Melbourne refuses to even consider recycling it’s water and the desalination plant in Wonthaggi won’t be operational for another few years. With an ever increasing population, and with my simple math, we only have 8 years of water before we run out. I can only imagine what the next few years will mean for us, shower with buckets on odd days, brushing teeth with bottled water?

So what are other countries doing? Well, in Mexico, apparently subtlety is not on the minds of the government. With their levels at 63%, they have decided to switch off their water for 3 days out of the week for the next few months. 63% and we are at 32%.

Well, we have target 155 which prominently always gets my attention due to a nude woman in a shower. I don’t particularly do anything to save water although I don’t leave water running. I have a washing machine, take 2 showers a day longer than 4 minutes, and water the pot plants outside. According to my assesment I received today, I am under 155 (148) which is quite suprising. For someone doing nothing, I’m under the target which makes me think that perhaps we should lower the target. As the ad says, are you under 155?

Bushfires- The 9/11 of Victoria?

Well, I’m sure by now, you know the toll of the bushfires, you’ve seens the photos, the news stories, and where to donate. It’s been 8+ years, since I felt the way I feel this week. I recall being asleep on a cool morning in Boston, with not too many worries as I didn’t have class until later in the afternoon. All of a sudden my housemate woke me up and told me an airplane crashed into the World Trade Center. I watched the news unfold, 1 tower hit, the other tower hit, the attack on the Pentagon and finally the falling of the towers. I remember the feeling like this is surreal and crazy, no anger or sadness just disbelief. I called my family and any friends that I knew who were in NYC that day and so did everyone else in the US. The lines were completely busy but after a few hours I was relieved that everyone was safe.

Then came the sadness to realize so many people had been lost and so many more missing. Many people converged onto ground zero to go through the rubble to do something, anything they could. I felt useless and I immediately donated to the Red Cross. Stories came trickling in about the victims and it seemed that everyone knew or had a connection to someone who died that day. Everything stopped, no comedians doing standup on TV, no classes, no sports, just 24 hour news and donation appeals. It’s startling how similar the progress of events is to our bushfire crisis.

Well what came next was anger, who did this and why did it happen? A war in Afghanistan, a war in Iraq, and terrorism taking hold of the world. One thing, I’ll always remember is the night all of the late night comedy shows came back on the air. They just couldn’t be funny, some cried, some had serious interviews with reporters and politicians but one sticks out in my mind is Conan O’Brien’s show. He showed a picture of a baby lifting a six pack of beer. It didn’t make any sense, but for some reason it made everyone laugh or at least smile. It only gets easier with time, so after the bathing Koala of last week, I think this thirsty Koala is approriate.

Picture via Spatula City

Bushfire Disaster, 84 and climbing

It is one thing suffering through a really hot day but another when a bushfire devastate an entire region of Victoria. At the latest report, there has been 84 accounted deaths but there could still be more as police and fire crew continue their work in the region.

The bushfire has burnt the entire township of Marysville, Kingslake and surrounding areas, destroying more than 312,000 hectares.

Many residents were trapped in the region because the bushfire surrounded the roads in and out of the area. Some residents perished while trying the escape the fire in their vehicles. Victims included Brian Naylor, a veteran news reader, and his wife Moiree.

People concerned about friends and relatives known to be in the affected region, should call 1800 727 077.

Victorian Bushfire Relief Fund is now accepting donations through either the NAB or Red Cross.

News Links
The Age “Death toll …”

The Herald Sun “Witness gallery

Herald Sun “Bushfire figures

ABC’s “Bushfire Emergency

Getting through another hot day…

I though it might be timely to post about how people can keep cool on hot days.

In particular, how to keep cool without air conditioning.

Victoria’s power supplies are often stretched on scorcher days, resulting in power outages as resources find their limits or equipment is working harder than it was designed for. We need to be good citizens towards those who live in areas where air conditioning is their last resort for health – whether it be the sick, the elderly, or those living and working in hot buildings or environments. There is potential for the power you use to cause a power outage for someone who needs an electricity supply to survive.

So, how can it be done? (more…)

a famous sighting along a famous drive.

xavier rudd at chris's

xavier rudd at chris's

what is it with me running into people who are famous whilst i am in australia that i didn’t even know were famous. i know it’s hard to tell from the back of his head, but that guy in the picture is singer-songwriter xavier rudd. i took this picture at chris’s in apollo bay where we stopped to eat lunch on sunday as we toured the great ocean road.

i didn’t even know who xavier rudd was, but my host, having heard my story about alan joyce pointed him out to me and explained the guy’s popularity. no maybe he was having a go at me (like how i am picking up the lingo?) but i doubt it.

either way the food was incredible at chris’s and the view was even more spectacular.

as for the great ocean road, i don’t even know how to describe it. i am sure most of you are probably immune to that coastline now, but for a kid like me, who’s experience with the ocean are the relatively tame coastlines of the north atlantic, this was nothing short of staggering.

seriously, every vista took my breath away and literally made me gasp like a kid. i have seen few things in my life that compare to it.

just thought you might enjoy an outsider’s glee.

below is the obligatory money shot of me at the twelve apostles.

me at the twelve apostles

me at the twelve apostles

The Heat too much to Bear

Karen Louey/Tracey Young</i>

um scuze me dont u nock…is taking a bath Credit: Karen Louey/Tracey Young

I generally delete most email forwards but yesterday, I received one of the most adorable pictures of a Koala (not a Koala bear) bathing in water.  Well, it looks like it made the front page of the news. Sure, who wants to know about Rudd’s $42 billion stimulus package when you have a baby Koala bathing in water.

According to the email, a Koala walked up the back porch (located in Maude) looking for a bit of relief from the heat. The women filled a bucket full of water which the koala happily started bathing in.

Ninemsn, reports that the koala in question was separated from its mother who got confused in the heat. Both mother and child are safe but haven’t yet been reunited.

Public Transport rally this Tuesday

The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) are holding a rally Tuesday lunchtime (from 11.30 am, speakers begin at Midday). It will be held at Parliament House (Bourke and Spring Streets) and will coincide with the first sitting day of parliament for the year.

A coalition of community groups, led by the Victorian Water Forum, is holding a rally to call on the Brumby government to listen to the people and provide real solutions on water, climate change and public transport. PTUA is supporting this call, and will be attending.

Come along to the front steps of Parliament in your lunch hour and stand up for better public transport and real action on climate change.

See the PTUA website for more information.

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