Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Ho Ho Ho

Merry Xmas!
Hope everyone has a safe silly season. I hope to be back in the new year with more detailed work on a few items. Drop me a message if you have any suggestions or requests.

Why I Have No Sympathy for Taxi Drivers

First of all - the title relates to taxi drivers who complain about a lack of wages and not in relation to violence towards drivers.

Taxi drivers complain about not getting paid enough money etc. Here is a tip don;t refuse a fair that will generate $30 to $40 income in about 10 minutes rather than sitting in a queue in the city.

On Friday night I was out with a few friends in a last gasp xmas catch up. At the end of the night we all rolled out of the Northcote Social Club in search of transport to get us home. It was decided that 4 of us would catch a cab as we we're all heading in the Preston, Coburg, Reservoir general direction.

Cab Driver One "You going to the city?"
screeching tyres

Cab Driver Two - finger pointed towards city
my finger pointed opposite direction
driver does not stop
my middle finger pointed skywards

Cab Driver Three - locked doors, window opened a crack "You going to City?"
No Preston, etc..
"For $50 I will take you"
Looks like you are going to the City by yourself sunshine.

Cab Driver Four - same event as two, maybe he did a block and came back around?

Cab Driver Five got the cash. Nice work Abraham.

Of course i did not include the other drivers who did not even slow down.

So the driver who picked us up had a nice fare, got some income and would have been back in the city 20 minutes later than the other guys. It is illogical to me why a cab driver would want to drive around empty looking for the big fares when they can do a great deal of work running around the 'burbs. No doubt those guys who were looking for the big fare picked up someone to go to Melton only to have them do a runner on them.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Throw a Shoe at Bush

Yes I know you probably have got the link via email. But in case you haven't:


Is one of the online viral games on how to do what a lot of the western world and what most of the arab world have wanted to do for a while now.

Some things to note:

At the time of this being published there had been over 21 MILLION shoe hits.

and the top 5 countries who had visited the site:

1. United States
2. France
3. Australia
4. United Arab Emirates
5. Saudi Arabia

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Honestly - WTF is with the Corby family?

Not bad for a woman who went to court in a defamation case against Today Tonight to save her good name??

I think Tracey Spicer sums it up:

MEMO Mercedes Corby: put your tits away. Nobody really wants to see

I can now exlusively reveal one of the shots.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


The poor bastards. Having to listen to Britney over and over. AC/DC would be ok but c'mon!

prisoners tortured by Britney Spears, AC/DC

BRITNEY Spears and AC/DC songs are being used to torture prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, outraging human rights groups.The groups are protesting that blasting tracks such as Britney Spears's Baby One More Time, AC/DC's Hells Bells and Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA into cells at high volumes for hours on end can cause the inmates long-term psychiatric problems.

Now the musicians themselves have joined the fray, furious that their songs are being used to "break" suspected terrorists, reports the Daily Mail.

Musicians including Massive Attack and Tom Morello, guitarist with US group Rage Against The Machine have joined a campaign against the practice.

According to an FBI memo, one interrogator at Guantanamo bragged that he needed only four days to "break" someone by alternating 16 hours of loud music with just four hours of silence.

The practice has been used often in the "war on terror", with US forces systematically playing loud music to hundreds of its detainees.

Lt Gen Ricardo Sanchez, the former US military chief in Iraq, said the aim was "to create fear, disorient . . . and prolong capture shock". Read more personal accounts of prisoners being tortured by pop and rock music in the Daily Mail here

Tram Route 112

It has been a little while since I have caught the 112 tram for work but the rant below still stands.

I have been living in postcode 3072 for 6 years now and have used the 112 tram to get to and from work in the CBD a fair bit. The alternative to the 112 is to walk a longer distance and hope the train turns up on the Epping Line. The 112 has had some "issues" over that time.

How many times have I sat at the eye and ear Hospital stop on Victoria Pde to watch 3 or 4 mostly empty brand new trams going to Box Hill only to see a single length old 112 come around the corner 15 minutes late. Doors open and it is like a 3rd world country inside. I am sure some people have gotten pregnant on that tram it is so crowded.

It is a popular tram line that services one of the busiest restaurant and shop strips in Melbourne along Brunswick Street. It also provides a city commute for people from Parliament Station down Collins Street.

How to make it work better:
  1. Limit single length trams to be used on non-peak times. Use articulated trams at peak times. They have more doors, more seats, more standing room. They therefore have less delays as people struggle to get on or off;
  2. If the tram is full and there is another tram right behind the first one, keep going until someone asks for it to stop. Most people look at the crowded conditions when the door opens and say bugger it I will catch the next one anyway;
  3. Equalise the priority in peak times between the 112 and the 109 at peak and shoulder times.
  4. Increase the fair way zones at key locations such as on Brunswick Street and Alexandra Pde where the tram often sits still for minutes.
  5. Increase the tram priority at a number of intersections so that it is not delayed;
  6. When the existing roundabout at St-Georges Rd / Merri Pde is reconfigured give the tram priority.

Any other suggestions? let me know


I caught the tram again this morning. It took about 40mins to get to the city from West Preston, the time taken was roughly as follows:

10 mins Bell St to Merri Pde along St Georges Road

5 mins Merri Pde to Brunswick St Oval where the Lions used to play

15 mins Brunswick St Oval to Alexandra Pde

10 mins Briunswick St

5 mins Victoria Pde to City fringe.

So the upshot is.. The tram is very efficient in getting to the city. Compare this with the 30mins it take via train from Bell Station to Southern Cross.

The only bit that takes the time is getting across Alexandra Pde. There should be a revisit of the clear way zone north of the pde intersection if Yarra Trams aer serious about improving the times taken by trams.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

WTF 2 Part 2 - The Return of the Tits

Good News everybody. You can sleep safe at night:

shipment of inflatable breasts found in Melbourne

December 10, 2008 01:45pm

MORE than 100,000 pairs of missing inflatable breasts intended for a men's
magazine promotion have turned up in Melbourne.The shipment of plastic boobs
from China had been missing for more than a week after Chinese officials lost
the paperwork and put them on the wrong boat, a Ralph magazine spokeswoman said.

They had been due to dock in Sydney last week, but have since turned up at a
Melbourne dock, where they've been sitting for a week. Workers are now
frantically working to put them in bags to go out with the December 15 issue.
Ralph editor Santi Pintado said the incident had cost the magazine $30,000.

"If we'd found them a day later, it'd have been too late to get them on the next
issue," Pintado said. "You'd think the Chinese economy was in enough trouble
without misplacing 130,000 pairs of boobs." The magazine is expected to break
the Guinness world record for the most boobs given away at one time.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Masturbating driver killed two in crash

December 09, 2008 09:07am

A DRUNK who killed two people in a car crash had been masturbating moments before he caused the fatal accident, a court has been told.Imran Hussain, 32, who was twice over the legal alcohol limit, was pleasuring himself and driving at speeds of up to 193km/h when he ploughed into the back of a Fiat Punto carrying a family who were heading for a trip to the United States.

The smash killed Gary Proctor, 47, and his 16-year-old son James. Manchester Crown Court in the UK heard that motorists who came to Hussain's aid afterwards saw that his penis was partially exposed, the Press Association reported. "At the least it must have been a symptom you were not giving your full attention to driving," said Judge Andrew Blake.

The court was told that Hussain had rowed with his wife hours before the crash in August, and had gone out drinking with friends as well as visiting a lap-dancing club. CCTV footage caught him staggering to the counter at a petrol station where he threatened to kill the cashier.

In the moments before the crash, other motorists reported to police their concerns after seeing his powerful 4x4 Audi Q7 car swerving across lanes of the M62 motorway. The fatal accident occurred when he veered from the outside lane of the motorway into the Proctors' car. Prosecutor Andrew Nuttall said police had examined his mobile phone and discovered that he had called an escort agency less than 30 minutes before the smash but it had been closed.

Christian Downard, one of those who had alerted police, went with two friends to Hussain's aid. He saw that Hussain's semi-erect penis was out of his trousers. "

His attempts to contact the agency and the finding of him with an erect penis out of his trousers indicates that he was sexually excited and clearly handling his penis whilst he was driving and at the time of the collision," Nuttall said. Catherine Proctor, 44, the victims' wife and mother who was in the car at the time, said the family had been heading to the airport to go on a holiday to New York and Florida.

"No words or sentence will ever describe the devastation that we feel," she said in a statement.

"No one should ever go through the nightmare I have suffered over the last four months."

Hussain, from Bradford, was jailed for eight years after admitting two counts of causing death by dangerous driving and one charge of driving with excess alcohol. He was also banned from driving for 15 years

Epping Line to South Morang Confirmed

South Morang Extension

Timeframe Construction is expected to begin in 2010
Cost More than $650 million

Project description
Melbourne’s north, including the areas around Lower Plenty and South Morang, is booming. To serve this area, the Epping line will be extended to South Morang.
Five kilometres of track will be duplicated between Keon Park and Epping, and a second platform built at Thomastown. Thomastown and Epping stations will also receive upgrades to improve accessibility.
Three and a half kilometres of new double track will be laid beyond Epping, and a new fully staffed, premium station will be built at South Morang . Services will run from South Morang every 10 minutes in the peak and every 20 minutes at off-peak times.
The new station will include 500 car parks, a safe drop off area, taxi rank, bus facilities and bike lockers.

A new bridge is now being built at Clifton Hill, to overcome a bottleneck and build in more space for trains coming down from the north, paving the way for the extension to South Morang. Preliminary design work on the Keon Park – Epping duplication and South Morang extension is well advanced.
Project benefits
Two tracks between Keon Park and Epping and an extension to South Morang to allow more trains to run and cater for future growth in the north.
A new station at South Morang serviced by up to 380 trains each week,
services from South Morang to run every 10 minutes at peak times

More info also here.

The only bit I don't get is the last sentence. Why does the statement say it will be serviced by up to 380 train per week when the existing Epping station without the proposed works is serviced by 440 trains per week. Does this mean that at least 60 trains will terminate at Epping or will 60 services be removed?

It appears short sighted to not extend all services to South Morang. Maybe it is a sequence timetable issue? who knows. I hope they get it right and also allow for future extensions to Mernda and other growth areas north of Epping.

Currently trains depart Epping every 11 to 12 minutes during the morning peak. Of course making this every 10 minutes is good as it means at least one more morning peak train. Hopefully it will also alleviate the couple of trains that have 15 min gaps either side (like the 8:26am) that get extremely over crowded most mornings.

Friday, December 5, 2008


Husband accidentally shoots wife during sex

A US woman is in a critical condition after her estranged husband told police he accidentally shot her while they were having sex.

Timothy Havens, 38, told police he was reaching for something on the bedside table when the pistol went off, hitting his estranged wife Carolyn in the chest, US news channel WLWT reported.

"[The gun was] right beside the bed. I picked it up and put it off to the side. We were having sex and it went off," he can be heard saying on the emergency 911 call soon after the incident.
Carolyn Havens, 42, was in a critical condition at a hospital in Dayton, Ohio.

Timothy Havens was arrested after it emerged Carolyn Havens had a civil protection order against him, the Springfield News Sun said.

He had previously spent 60 days in jail for assaulting his wife and been ordered to attend anger management classes, WLWT said.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Epping Line to South Morang

Looks like the much needed rail extension may happen sooner rather than never:

An extension of the Epping rail line to South Morang, with construction to start in the election year of 2010 and the first trains to start operating in 2013, at a cost of about $650 million.

Fast-tracking the extension of the Epping line will be welcomed by public transport advocates and residents.
The Bracks government two years ago promised to begin duplicating the track from Keon Park to Epping in 2016 and to extend the double-line to South Morang from 2021.
Mr Brumby will announce that both projects will begin in 2010, to provide services for the booming Plenty Valley.
South Morang will be a "premium station", staffed from first train to last, with about 380 services a week, a 500-space car park, a taxi rank and timetables linked to local bus services. Trains will run about every 10 minutes in peak times and 20 minutes during off-peak.
As part of the project, Thomastown station will get a second platform and will be upgraded to improve access for disabled and elderly passengers — as will Epping station.
Once the second rail bridge now being built across Merri Creek at Clifton Hill and the
South Morang extension are finished, the line will have two tracks all the
way from South Morang to the City Loop.
"This time it's actually going to happen," one Labor insider said last night of the long-promised project.

My concern is th efrequency of trains on the Epping Line. The report states that trains will run every 10 minutes in peak times. They do not do that now. It will mean that if a similar frequency of serivce occurs on the Hurstbridge line (once the bridge is complete at Clifton Hill) there will be 5 min spacing for services between Clifton Hill and the City.

I also find it odd that it is being reported that the bridge over the Merri Creek at Clifton Hill is on the Epping Line when it is not.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Cazaly Results

Well the count is in:

Cazaly Ward (3 vacancies)
Elected: KATSIS, Nick (1st elected)
Elected: MORGAN, Ben (2nd elected)
Elected: FONTANA, Vince (3rd elected)
Enrolment: 33208
Formal Votes: 22852
Informal Votes: 1580 (6.47% of the total votes)
Voter Turnout: 24432 (73.57%
of the total enrolment)
Quota: 5714

Candidate First preference votes
NOVATSIS, George 1294
PETROVIC, Steven 588
MORGAN, Ben 1852
POULTON, Trevor 584
FONTANA, Vince 2812
KATSIS, Nick 2550
EL-LEISSY, Mohammed 2732
GOGAS, George 448
McCULLOCH, Deanne 1220
SEYMOUR, Terrie 666
GOVAN, Jayne 1862
KARAM, Antoine 424
CUTRI, Joe 1370
DONOHUE, Alison 2084

Interesting to note that the Greens candidate El-Leissy was second in first preference votes (12% of formal votes) but did not quite make it. The Labor voting blocks obviously had enough preferences.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Watermelons: Ralph loses inflatable breasts at sea

MORE than 130,000 inflatable breasts have been lost at sea en route to Australia.
Men's magazine Ralph was planning to include the boobs as a free gift with its January issue.
The cargo is worth about $200,000, which is another blow for publisher ACP's parent company PBL, which is already in $4.3 billion of debt.
Gallery: These breasts are plastic - but they are not lost
A spokeswoman for Ralph said the container left docks in Beijing two weeks ago but turned up empty in Sydney this week.
The magazine has put out an alert to shipping authorities to see if they have the container, but if they don't turn up in the next 48 hours it will be too late for the next issue, she said.
Ralph editor Santi Pintado urged anyone who has any information to contact the magazine.
"Unless Somali pirates have stolen them its difficult to explain where they are," Pintado said.
"If anyone finds any washed up on a beach, please let us know."

The Case Against the Mitchell Dam

For a long time, in fact too long to freely admit, I have been posting on sites such as Andrew Bolt's or TBBWP regarding the naive argument for building a dam on the Mitchell River in Gippsland. I thought it was time to post a wrap of my position including some facts and figures to counter those often made up by pundits.

The Catchment

The Mitchell River catchment is quite large covering an area of 4,870 square kilometres made up of mainly woodland and forest. The main rivers in the catchment include the Dargo and Wonangatta. Over the last few years the catchment has been subject to severe bushfires and drought conditions.

Recent Flows
The Mitchell catchment has been subject to well below average flows for an extended period of time. This is the same as the majority of catchments in Victoria. The average flow out of the total Mitchell catchment is 1,355,000ML per year.

As it can be seen even with close to average rainfall the flows from the catchment have been well below average. Looking at the data more closely:

As it can be seen there has been 4 months with above average flows in the last 24, of which, only one (June 2007) was above 125% of the average monthly flow. In the same corresponding timeframe there have been 4 months with flows below 5% of the average flow and 17 months with flows below half of the average.

The June 2007 flood was the result of 3 days of intense rainfall in the catchment. If that event is not included the flows within the system look dire.

Draining Out to Sea?

One claim about the Mitchell River is that it 'just drains out to sea'. This of course is false as the Mitchell River supplies about 30% of total inflow into the Gippsland Lakes System. We have all heard and read about the devastating effects removing the Murray River inflows from Coorong estuary systems in South Australia, so to think that it just 'flows out to sea' is naive.
Last summer the Gippsland Lakes were subject to blue-green algae blooms.

The History of Dam Proposals

There has long been proposals to construct a dam on the Mitchell River in Gippsland. The reason for this construction was not to supply water to Melbourne or to reduce downstream flooding, the main reason was to supply water for a proposed irrigation district on the flats near Sale.

In fact there was a dam constructed across the river in the 1880's but it was washed away and never replaced.

The Current Proposal

Pundits have talked about constructing a dam similar in size to the Thomson Dam.

It would have a storage of around 500 GL and a dam height of around 80m. The SKM report suggests that the annual environmental flow from the dam to supply the river downstream should be around 491 GL or about 37% of the annual flow. This does not take into account any needs of the Gippsland Lakes.

Since the Mitchell catchment supplies a large prtion of flows into the Gippsland Lakes it would be anticipated that the required environmental flows would be much larger than the 37% noted in the report. This increase would reduce the yield of the dam significantly when you consider the average yearly flows in the table above.

The estimated capital cost for the proposal in 2005 dollars $1.35billion (equates to $1.5b in 2008 dollars). In this cost there is an allowance of $480M for a 119km pipeline. This estimate is very doubtful as indicated by a 'very low' confidence level in the report and based on recent costs of $750M for the 70km long North - South Pipeline which has similar diameter pipes.

Based on a similar unit rate as the North - South pipeline the pipeworks would cost in the order of $1.3 Billion. It shold be noted that the pipeworks associated with the Mitchell proposal include a tunnel section through sensitive environments which would dramatically add to the cost.

By revising the 2005 estimate to 2008 dollars and using a current unit rate for the transfer system it would be expected that the Dam would cost in the order of $2.3 Billion. This still includes contingency on the dam construction costs.


The proposal to construct a dam on the Mitchell River in Gippsland is short sighted.

The capital costs of such a scheme would be closer to many other current alternative supply proposals than what is being reported.

The reliability of the supply is not as high as some would think with only an annual yield of 86GL/year at 95% currently and once the CSIRO climate change effects are taken into account the yield could drop to 69GL/year by 2050.

The environmental damage on the downstream river and Gippsland Lakes would be immense.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Is this a hint of a leak?

From the Herald-Sun website:

Rail project fast-tracked

THE Brumby Government has fast-tracked a major northern suburbs rail project in a move designed to appease commuter angst and unclog the embattled train network.

The Clifton Hill track duplication will be finished early next year - 12 months ahead of schedule.

The Hurstbridge line has only a single track on the existing bridge over the Merri Creek between Clifton Hill and Westgarth stations.

Once finished the additional track on the Hurstbridge line will remove the bottleneck of backed-up trains that has been occurring on the single track for years.

Commuters on the line will get faster travel times in addition to the recent increase of services.

Long-suffering strap-hangers in Melbourne's booming Whittlesea growth corridor have been pushing for a rail extension from Epping to South Morang since the Bracks Labor government promised it in 1999.

It has been put off, delayed and sidelined several times.

When Public Transport Minister Lynne Kosky unveiled the Clifton Hill project in February with a 2010 completion date she said it was a higher priority than the South Morang extension.

But the revelation of an early finish to the Clifton Hill project has sparked hopes the South Morang extension will be included in the Brumby Government's transport plan - expected early next month.

An experienced train driver, who wished to remain anonymous, yesterday told the Herald Sun work on the new bridge was well ahead of schedule and on track to be finished in January.

"It'll be up and running and commissioned at least 12 months ahead of what the Department of Transport says on its website," the driver said.

A senior Labor source told the Herald Sun the South Morang extension was odds-on to be included in the transport plan.

Ms Kosky's spokesman, Stephen Moynihan, said the minister was very pleased the work on the upgrade had progressed so well, but would not commit to a revised completion date.

The issue I have with the story is that the bridge duplication was meant to also free up train services on the Epping Line. Fingers crossed the mention of the South Morang extension may result in more frequent services on the entire Epping Line.