What If A Cucumber Sandwich Had Wings

The paddocks in central Nebraska were barren, and a sickly pale brown colour; most were covered in the corn stubble from last years crop. They had yet to become a sea of waving green as it was still too early in the year to be the start of spring. The early morning air was crisp, and the sky was clear and blue. Don Streeter led us across Brewster Field to the cluster of air plane hangers. Before we pushed his Cessna 172N from it’s hanger he unplugged and removed the engine heater, and did away with the designer cowling blanket. The sky was now a filtered blue with a few stratus clouds making their unhurried way across the horizon. Don completed the pre-flight inspection and we taxied onto the Holdrege airport runway; the barren, sickly pale brown colour paddocks were soon below us.

image source:jmcadam

Years ago a trip to the airport was enjoyable and speedy. There were no long queues or waiting; you arrived ten minutes before your flight and walked through a gate, and onto your plane. When I think back, I vaguely remember walking out a gate at the Essendon Airport passenger terminal to a TAA DC-3 resting on the tarmac. I must have been ten or twelve years old; we were flying from Melbourne to Tasmania with mum and dad, and my brother for a holiday. It would have been Trans Australia Airways, instead of Australian National Airways, because Aunt Bet’s husband’s sister worked as a hostess for TAA. We walked up the stairs into the plane, and then uphill along the aisle to get to our seats. I don’t remember flying to Tassie; but I remember going to the Blow Hole at Port Arthur. We must have rented a car, and dad must have braked or swerved; what happened next became the “when we were in Tassie” story. I must have been sitting on mum’s lap because I was thrown forward when the car lurched, and hit my chin on the dashboard; my teeth cut into my gums, and my mouth became a bloody mess. I don’t remember it happening but the story got retold and retold; causing me to remember the event. Whenever it was told mum’s calmness and bravery, and spur of the moment nursing skills, were talked about in great detail. And I was the brave little soldier who didn’t cry when he hit his chin on the dashboard of the car.

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I had disordered hair and a beard, and would have been wearing an Indian kurta, scarf, jeans, and sandals when I walked through the gate and onto a BOAC plane at Delhi airport. Delhi was my last stop after drifting through the Middle East, and into India along the ill defined Hippie Trail. I spent most of my time in Delhi wracked with intestinal pain; alone in a stark room, curled into a fetal position on a flimsy mattress. One afternoon when I was shuffling through the crowded, colourful, laneways and streets of Delhi, I stopped and rested in a small park. I only have uncertain memories of negotiating the price of a plane ticket to Melbourne with the young man in the park. I gave him Greek drachma’s, and we agreed that the stranger I had just met would return in the morning with a ticket, and we would ride to the airport together. I would pay him in US dollars for his service when we got to the airport. Early next morning I waited in the park; the stranger appeared. I only have scattered memories of the Tuk Tuk ride to the airport; I gave the young man the last of my US dollars.

image source:littlebigtravelingcamera.com

As I walked into the airport I wondered if I was clutching a genuine BOAC ticket. I only remember the food being served on a plate and using cutlery; the knives and fork came sealed in plastic sleeves. Some would say that airplane food was dreamed up by a culinary school drop out, but I remember the food as being outrageously delicious; I’d just spent the last few months wandering through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India eating mostly street vendor food with my hands.

I did a few other international airplane trips during the seventies. Melbourne’s brand new Tullamarine Airport had replaced Essendon Airport, and you now boarded your plane through a jet bridge. Security was some bloke giving you the once over, and if he thought you looked OK and weren’t a galah, then you boarded the plane. Back then, airports didn’t look like shopping malls. Going to the airport was stress free; you didn’t have to run the gauntlet of duty free shops, remove your shoes and belt, load up plastic tubs with stuff taken out of your bags and pockets, or worry about body imaging. You’d show up at the airport fifteen minutes before your flight and walk to the jet bridge with your friends or family; after a few kisses and hugs you were on your way.

image source:csmonitor.com

I thought back to those times at Tullamarine as I joined the writhing security screening line of bored and excited international passengers at Houston Intercontinental Airport. The line folded back on itself several times; the swaying people, shifting backpacks, rolling luggage, and moving carry on bags caused the line to constantly change it’s shape. The writhing line split into smaller lines as it moved toward the security screening stations. It was soon my turn to remove my shoes and belt, and load up the plastic tubs with the contents of my carry on bag and pockets; I stepped into the X-Ray machine. Upon stepping out of the full body scanning machine I was approached by a TSA agent. When they were slipping on a pair of latex gloves they asked if I would prefer my body pat down in private; I stood on the rubber mat in the designated space near the main screening area, with legs apart. The agent waved a hand held wand over me, and then explained they were going to run a latex gloved hand up one of my legs, across my groin, and down the other leg. As the TSA agent was thanking me for my cooperation I asked what had triggered the pat down. The imaging machine had detected an outline of a memory card embedded in my thigh.

image source:nationstates.net

It took all my strength to resist the overwhelming urge to walk through all of the imaging machines; similar to walking through a transit station’s X-ray metal detector to enter a safety zone. The TSA agent farewelled me with a nod, and I was soon sitting in the departure lounge, sipping coffee and trying to recall if I had put the camera’s memory card in my shorts pocket when it fell onto the airport floor in Chicago, and then put it back into the camera case when we deplaned at Houston. Could it have left some type of magnetic image on my thigh; somewhat akin to being irradiated with highly charged radioactive particles from a Gamma Bomb explosion I thought.

Victoria’s Parliament House is at the top end of Melbourne’s Bourke Street. It would be safe to say that most Melburnians have only visited Parliament House on a school excursion, for wedding party photos, or when they were holding a placard as part of a protest gathered on it’s sweeping steps. Most Melburnians confuse The Old Treasury Building for Parliament House. The last time I was anywhere close to Parliament House was in the seventies when I was a proud participant in the school teacher’s strikes and marches . A few months ago I slowly walked up the sweeping steps, and there wasn’t a bride or placard in sight. I was at Parliament House for Afternoon Tea.

image source:skmcadam

Afternoon Tea used to be an everyday event, but now it’s more likely to be something special in a hotel or restaurant. Nowadays, Afternoon Tea and High Tea are often used interchangeably; however most people use High Tea to suggest an extremely formal Afternoon Tea. Back when, Afternoon Tea was known as Low Tea and was served in the late afternoon. It included a teapot of loose tea with milk and sugar, and a selection of cucumber, tomato, tuna, ham, sardine, egg, and smoked salmon sandwiches; scones with butter, clotted cream and jam, and assorted cakes and pastries were also part of Afternoon Tea. Afternoon Tea was served on a lounge, or low table. High tea was an early evening meal eaten between 5:00 and 6:00 pm. It substituted for both Afternoon Tea and the evening meal, and consisted of cold meats, eggs, cakes, and sandwiches. High Tea was eaten at the main, or high table.

The Strangers Corridor restaurant serves members of Parliament and their guests, or strangers, when the Victorian Parliament is sitting; when it’s not sitting the public are welcome in the restaurant. Strangers Corridor is a wood paneled room with red velvet chairs and stain glass windows; accents of gold, and red and pink tones suggest a sense of taste and sophistication. I think one of the best kept secrets in Melbourne is the Afternoon Tea served at Strangers Corridor; freshly baked scones with jam and cream, exquisite pastries and finger sandwiches on tiered stands, and freshly brewed tea.

image source:jmcadam

It was a non-sitting Parliament day when I slowly walked up the sweeping steps of Parliament House. After the associate checked my name on their High Tea reservation print out list they escorted me through the door to the security screening station. I loaded up the plastic tubs with the content of my shoulder bag and pockets, and asked if I needed to remove my shoes and belt. I stepped into the walk through detector and paused for a moment; I wondered if I should mention the magnetic image of the memory card embedded in my thigh. Knowing that the layered strawberry vanilla slices, and the cucumber finger sandwiches were waiting I said nothing. I walked through and out of the detector without any alarms sounding, and was escorted through Queens Hall to Strangers Corridor. I eased back into a red velvet covered chair in a traditional leather booth, and as I watched the light shining through the stain glass windows play onto the white linen I slowly sipped champagne, and ran my hand along my thigh to feel for an embedded memory card.

image source:skmcadam

Travelers today spend a lot of their time waiting in airports. World airports are now morphing into community spaces; you can while away your airport hours in yoga rooms, beer halls, butterfly gardens, leisure zones and rooftop swimming pools, shop in luxury stores, and eat in upscale themed restaurants as you wait for your connecting flight. I would suggest airports start opening exclusive Tea Rooms, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of their other shopping and dining areas so you can idle away a few hours of airport time enjoying a posh Afternoon Tea. And you would only have to go through security screening one time.


The Best Places for High Tea in Melbourne

History of Parliament House

This Is What Your Flight Used To Look Like


You Get Out Of Something What You Breathe Into It

image source:jmcadam

Last year the forgotten memories of my travels through the circles of Industrial Chemist Hell were roused from the deep recess of my mind. Soon after boarding the Air New Zealand 777-300 I was nestled into my seat and tapping the seat back touchscreen; cycling through the hundreds of hours of movies and TV shows, hoping to find something that would entertain me for the next 13 hours. I kept coming back to Wonder Woman. I read, and reread the plot summary until I had it memorised; she was raised on a sheltered island and trained to become a warrior, and then the Amazon Princess, Diana Prince, discovers the endless war going on in the outside world. She embarks on a journey to end the war of all wars whilst discovering her true power as well.

And then I became lost in thought; how closely did my life follow Wonder Woman’s. I was raised in an idyllic age of innocence in the sheltered city of Williamstown and trained to become an Industrial Chemist; a scientist who mixes chemicals to create new synthetic polymers and compounds. My white lab coat would be stained, and frayed with acid burns, after the second day on the job. I would be my own discovery team, and wallow in complex research projects. I discover the seventies, the world of change and uncertainty, and embark on a journey of discovery; searching for inspiration and idealism in the ordinary whilst uncovering my true self. The bumping of the approaching drink trolley distracted me from my ruminations.

My first job when I finished at Footscray Institute was as an Industrial Chemist at Spartan Paint’s West Footscray factory. The laboratory I was in didn’t have beakers, Bunsen burners, test tubes or any of the apparatus usually associated with a chemistry lab. It was a Process Control lab in which scaled down formulations of proposed automotive paints were mixed, and tested to assess if they met car makers’ specifications. The paints were tested for orange peeling, viscosity, flow, metallic solid suspension, natural and artificial weathering, and adhesion. To test for weathering a paint sample was sprayed onto small metal panels. Each day I took the small painted panels to the weather testing racks that were in a paddock over the road from the factory; I also collected the panels from the racks that were ready for lab testing.

image source:sheffieldmetals.com

As a Paint Scientist I collected samples when a truck load of paint solvents was delivered to the factory, and took the samples to the lab for quality control testing. I must have been a Paint Scientist for about nine months when I started thinking that there must be more to being a Paint Scientist than changing painted metal panels, and carrying solvent samples to the lab; when will I mix chemicals to create new synthetic polymers and compounds, and invent new products. I started to find reasons to leave the lab and I would wander aimlessly through the different areas of the plant. I found myself stopping to talk to the lone worker in the solvent holding area. The air he breathed was thick with the smell of benzene derivatives, and organic ketones. There was no ventilation, and no one was required to wear protective clothing, or use a respirator. Every conversation I had with my solvent caretaker confidant was always interrupted by his constant sniffing of a folded scrap of material. One day he shared that he soaked scraps of material in different solvents; spending his days at work, and at home sniffing solvents.

image source:californiadetoxhelpline.com

I left Spartan Paints within the year; I never did develop new and improve products, or invent new automotive paint formulas.

My second job as an Industrial Chemist was in Process Control at The Olympic Tyre and Rubber Company. Olympic Tyre was also in West Footscray; across the railway line from Spartan Paints. Process Control tested and analysed the raw and process materials, and the finished tyres to ensure everything met Olympic’s standards and quality. I still remember the first time I saw the laboratory; beakers, flasks, measuring cylinders, condensers, and other lab glassware glistened in the stark laboratory light. And I thought how I wouldn’t be shackled to the mundane, routine, day to day testing of melting point, moisture volume, dry mass volume, percentage of heavy metals, tensile strength, density and refractive index of raw materials and different rubber mixes. I would be my own discovery team, creating new synthetic polymeric compounds, and reinventing the world of automobile tyres.

image source:jmcadam

I sat at a desk in a huge open area, upstairs from the lab. The desks were arranged in groups of four; a clerical worker sat facing me and another clerical worker sat alongside him, and my supervisor sat beside me. I was a Tyre Product Scientist. Twice a day I would go into the factory and collect samples of raw materials at the rubber mixing mills, and samples of batch rubber at the different mixing and extruder machines. The factory air was laden with the smell of sulphur and rubber, and the scent of polymers and monomers; it was dense with fine particles of suspended carbon and moist from the heat of the curing presses. It was the era before ear plugs, safety glasses and helmets, protective clothing, and respirators and ventilation. I took the samples to the Process Control lab for quality control testing. I sat at my desk between the morning and afternoon sample collection walkabouts reading trade magazines about the tyre manufacturing process; it was an era before the Internet. The days were a duplicate of each other, and after several months I started thinking that a Tyre Product Scientist has to do more that collect samples of raw and process materials, and carry samples to the lab; when will I create new synthetic polymeric compounds and reinvent the automobile tyre.

image source:buerolandschaft.net

I found other reasons to leave my desk and the trade magazines, and I wandered aimlessly through the different areas of the factory. The operators of the milling and extruding machines were dwarfed by their mechanical masters. It started with a slight wave and nod of the head as I was passing, and soon I was stopping for a short time; I watched in silence, spellbound as he became master of his tyre building machine. In perfect synchronisation with the moving drums, and levers and foot pedals, he reached for the different sheets of rubber; he layered the inner rubber, bead, sidewall, and tread. I watched him build Olympic tyres. My brief stops grew into long delays, but we only exchanged nods, and an occasional thumbs up; he didn’t speak English. We shared the smell of sulphur, antioxidants, and rubber, and breathed the damp, powdery carcinogenic air. I don’t remember his name. The days turned into weeks, and the weeks into months; I wandered the factory floor, stopping to watch in silence, the tyre builder. That afternoon was no different than any other; I left my desk tidy, hung my white lab coat in my locker, clocked out, and walked out of the Olympic building.

image source:pixabay

And for the next forty plus years I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking back to when I wanted to be a scientist who mixed chemicals to create new synthetic polymers and compounds; a scientist whose white lab coat would be stained, and frayed with acid burns after the second day on the job, and who would be his own discovery team and wallow in complex research projects.

I was so immersed in Wonder Woman that the bumping of the approaching meal trolley didn’t even distract me from the colour and movement on the seat back touchscreen. We had just arrived at Dr. Poison’s lab. The disfigured, diabolical chemist was pioneering a deadly new form of toxic mustard gas; it couldn’t be stopped by protective masks. And my forgotten memories came flooding back. I was the scientist who was going to mix chemicals to create new synthetic polymers and compounds; my lab coat was going to be stained and frayed with acid burns. I had inhaled air laden with biohazadeous pollutants and powdery granular particles of synthetic compounds. I had breathed air dank with the heavy mist of evaporated ketones, aldehydes, and benzene derivatives. I pushed pause, and was soon in deep thoughts about Dr. Poison’s facial prosthetics; had she suffered a severe injury from inhaling toxic, radioactive chemicals, or had she just made a dreadful mistake when mixing chemicals in her lab.

image source:screenrant.com

I wondered if two years of continuously breathing toxic air could cause tissue or cell damage and if your body heat, and the natural pressures inside your brain, could cause a catalytic polymerisation reaction of contaminates transferred to the blood in your lungs, causing them to become biocellular regenerative reactant. If that was the case then the lungs would be able to hold incredible amounts of air; was I able to hold my breath for hours, able to breathe out massive gusts of air to create gale force winds, and suck in air to generate vortexes. On the seat back touchscreen the mind boggling, computer generated, green screen digital finale of Wonder Woman was unfolding.

The one thing I took with me from the years studying chemistry at Footscray Institute was to live life according to the scientific principle; observe, create a hypothesis, and experiment to test your theory. I had to test my biocellular regenerative reactant hypothesis. I needed a controlled environment with calibrated instruments to measure my breath flow and lung capacity. Sometimes fact is stranger than fiction. Two weeks later we were confronted by bright flashing lights and arrows, and a line of waving torches escorting cars into a corridor of cones. The police woman politely explained that I was about to undergo a random alcohol breath test; she was going to request a sample of the air in my lungs to determine the concentration of alcohol in my body.

image source:scramsystems.com

Police Woman: Sir, please take a deep breath and blow into the mouthpiece.
Me: No worries.
Police Woman: (questioning the reading on the calibrated breathalyser and replacing the mouthpiece) Sir, would you mind taking another deep breath and blow again.
Me: No worries.
Police Woman: (after looking at the second reading; with a puzzled looked, and replacing the mouthpiece) Sorry sir, but it doesn’t seem to be working correctly; would you mind blowing into the mouthpiece again.
Me: No worries.
Police Woman: (quizzically looking at the reading on the calibrated breathalyser; conferring with another team member and replacing the mouthpiece) Sir, we’ll give it one more try; I’ve never seen this before, a deep breath, sir.
Me: (after taking an incredible deep breath and with a knowing smile) No worries.
Police Woman: (after checking the calibrated breathalyser) It just doesn’t seem to be working properly; thank you sir for your cooperation; have a wonderful evening, or what’s left of it.
Me: No worries, see ya.

As I drove out through the cones and onto Westgate Bridge’s Williamstown Road Yarraville on ramp I smiled, and repeated several times; observe, create a hypothesis, and experiment to test your theory.

I think I’ll start blowing up a balloons with my nose. Sureshgaur from Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, India claimed the record of 10.62 seconds in 2014 for the fastest time of blowing up a balloon with your nose before it bursts; it shouldn’t be a problem to crush Sureshgaur’s record.

image source:jmcadam


Olympic Tyre & Rubber Co.

Victoria Police Fake Alcohol Breath Test

The Origins Of Wonder Woman

Good Feng Shui Is The Smell Of A Hotel Room Carpet

After I moved to the US I went back and visited the The Land Down Under every two years. Mum still lived in the house I grew up in, and I would always sleep in my bedroom. Nothing in the house ever changed; it stayed the same as it was when I was a young boy. Time never stands still, and the years between the visits when I sleep in my bedroom became every three to four years. You never know it at the time, but there came a last time I stayed in the house I grew up in; mum moved to a private nursing home.

image source:jmcadam

Instead of visiting the The Land Down Under the year mum moved we spent some time roaming Southern England and Wales, sightseeing London, and after Christmas window shopping at Harrrods and Oxford Street. Our return flight to the US left Heathrow the afternoon of December 31st and arrived in Detroit late New Years Eve, and our Omaha flight was scheduled for early next morning; it made sense to stay in a hotel close to the airport. I made the room reservation online before leaving for Britain; I remember falling into a mind numbing trance when the price of a night’s accommodation appeared on the screen. I kept repeating in a soft whimpering stammer; New Years Eve 1995, room at hotel inside Detroit Airport, hundred dollars a night. I vowed I would never pay a hundred dollars a night again for a hotel room.

image source:jmcadam

The airport was deserted when we deplaned; our British Airways flight was the last flight into Detroit for 1995. After flying the Detroit-Heathrow route for more than 50 years British Airways discontinued it in March 2008.

I never thought the day would come. When I visited mum in the nursing home I didn’t stay in the house I grew up in. The Savoy Park Plaza Hotel was on the corner of Spencer Street and Little Collins Street opposite Spencer Street Station. The stairs to the Spencer Street pedestrian subway tunnel were on Little Collins Street, outside the entrance to the hotel. The Southern Cross Station was still an architect’s abstract doodling on a serviette after a few rounds of bar drinks; the sweeping undulant roof that was to define the new station was still a dream. Our room was refurbished with a theme of subdued, timeless elegance. In the mornings I would stand, looking out the room’s window, watching the goods wagons being shunted; the tangle of railway lines that made up the Spencer Street Yards separated the Station from the Goods Sheds. The interstate and country trains, and the Blue Harris and Red Tait’s, roamed the tangle of railways lines trying to find their assigned platforms; just like chooks running around when they don’t know what to do.

image source:jmcadam

I remember the Savoy’s marbled lobby and the touch’s of Art Deco design, and the open light filled Wintergarden cafe, provided a relaxing retreat to enjoy an afternoon cup of tea. The Savoy was the first hotel I stayed at after I had vowed I would never pay a hundred dollars a night again for a hotel room; it was more than a hundred dollars a night.

Mum fell off the perch not all that long after we had visited. The house of my memories was sold at auction, and the bedroom that I always sleep in had become just another room in someone else’s house.

The Quest in Flinders Lane, now known as Flinders Landing, was the second Melbourne hotel substitute for the house I grew up in. The Quest was one of a new breed of accommodations; a warehouse refurbished into a complex of boutique, serviced apartments. The small kitchen didn’t compare to mum’s, but you could still whip up a good serving of cutlets or rissoles for tea. It was back when Flinders Lane was still Flinders Lane, and Hosier Lane was only a cobbled bluestone laneway. The Gas and Fuel monoliths at the corner of Flinders and Swanston Streets had been demolished, and the busy railway lines were being roofed over to create Federation Square. The Quest was over a hundred dollars a night; however it was discounted at the Travellers Aide booth at Tullamarine Airport.

image source:facebook

Over the next several years there was an assortment of franchise and private hotels, family bed and breakfast homes, guest houses, and country inns and pubs, in Scotland and Canada, a collection of US towns and cities, New Zealand, and the Australian towns of Castlemaine, Brisbane, Cairns, Alice Springs, Hobart, Beechworth, and Melbourne, that became a home away from home. Never paying a hundred dollars a night again for a hotel room became easier said than done; I’d reckon that it shouldn’t be all that hard finding a night’s accommodation for less than a hundred dollars, even when you eliminate budget hotels with plastic chairs and ashtrays outside the room, and hotels close to the outlet malls with rooms with heart shaped baths, or champagne towers and Greek columns.

From back when I stayed in cheap inexpensive hotels, I had a thesaurus of filters, such as threadbare, dilapidated, heart shaped, rodents, cockroaches and mould, crumbling masonry, pigeon droppings, shared bathrooms, and water damage that I used when making a hotel reservation. I remember a stark room in New Delhi. It had a small rickety bed with a flimsy mattress on which I would drift into and out of sleep. I spent most of the time wracked with intestinal pain, and folded into a fetal position; crawling and shuffling across the concrete floor to a small room with a hole in the floor to expunge watery liquids. I would stumble into the street to buy bananas; only to crawl back into the small room with a hole in the floor. When I didn’t eat, I tried to venture into the pulsating, chaotic streets of New Delhi; most times bouts of searing pain caused me to double in two. And I shuffled along with the other Delhiites through the crowded, colourful laneways and roads.

image source:npr.org

The first room that I slept in, in the US was a small shabby room. I arrived in San Francisco late at night. The Greyhound shuttle only got you from the airport to the downtown bus terminal; I had no idea where I was in the city; alone in a strange city, late at night with no where to stay. I walked with the fellow Aussie I had chatted with on the flight from the The Land Down Under, and we headed to the hotel where he had booked a room. I thought I would stay at the same hotel. The smiling receptionist explained there were no vacancies, and suggested the best option was one of the hotels a few blocks down the street; but cautioned it was on the fringe of a blighted area. The room was sparse and had a small rickety bed in the corner; a basement type window was set high in one wall, and the outside footpath with only shuffling legs of pedestrians, was all you could see through the top half of the window. And for three nights the police car sirens caused me to drift into and out of limited, restless sleep. The neglected area was close to the Powell and Market Street Cable Car Turnaround.

image source:dreampalacekovalam.com/

For the trek last year to the The Land Down Under we thought about couchsurfing, monastery stays, and hostel dormitory rooms; but instead turned to Airbnb to search for accommodation that was less than a hundred dollars a night. Albert Park is an inner suburb or Melbourne, nestled between the beaches of Port Phillip Bay and Albert Park Lake. It’s known for its stunning Victorian and Edwardian period houses, and leafy tree lined streets; I rented a flat in Albert Park before gentrification and upper-class affluence became the norm. Airbnb provided a refurbished , single fronted, stylish weatherboard Victorian house. It consisted of a bedroom and a modern bathroom off the main hallway; the hallway opened into an open well equipped kitchen and pleasant living space. A small outdoor patio with a BBQ was off the living space.

image source:jmcadam

It didn’t take long before I was back being an Albert Park local; catching the tram into town, walking the leafy streets, and shopping the local shops. One morning I came across a similar house to our Albert Park home with an auction sign on the front fence. The next Saturday I joined the other interested buyers on the footpath for the auction. The house was a fully renovated Victorian with an upstairs addition; a small front bedroom with an open fireplace was the only original feature left of the house. The interior had been gutted and the house now had a small enclosed central bathroom with a concealed laundry, and a small hallway opening into a combined living space made up of a small kitchen, and a dining and living space; folding doors opened onto a tiny courtyard. The upstairs addition contained the main bedroom with walk in robes; I tried to imagine a queen size bed in the space. A shower and toilet were squeezed into the left over space. The bidding started at a million dollars. The house was sold for just shy of a million and a half dollars.

image source:jmcadam

After the auction I sauntered back to our over a hundred dollars a night house. I put the kettle on the stove in the well equipped kitchen, poured a cup of tea, and retreated to the small outdoor patio with a BBQ. I sipped slowly on my hot tea, dipped an Arnott’s Tic Toc, and allowed myself to ponder; our over a hundred dollars a night Albert Park house was a million dollar house. I was staying in a million dollar house. Before leaving Melbourne, and the million dollar Albert Park house, I checked the value of mum’s old house; it isn’t up for auction but it’s estimated value range is $870,000 – $1,099,999. The bedroom that I slept in through my childhood and teenage years is now just another room in someone’s million dollar house.

As I reflected back on not upholding my vow of never paying a hundred dollars a night again for a hotel room, I decided that my failure was really a success; every failure in life becomes a foundation to build on. And as I dipped another Arnott’s Tic Toc into my cup of tea I vowed; on future holidays I will only sleep in million dollar houses.


Arnott’s Tic Toc Biscuits

Southern Cross Station Redevelopment Project, Melbourne

South Melbourne and Albert Park

You Can Only See The Change From The Footpath

I went back to Australia every couple of years after I first moved to the US. As time went by the trips back to the The Lucky Country became every three to four years; and then they grew even longer. The last two trips back Down Under were in 2016 and 2017. Whenever I went back I would walk the streets of Newport and Williamstown; the streets I walked and bicycled as a young boy and teenager. And whenever I walked those streets I saw my gentrified memories. At first the changes in the houses and shops were subtle. The Victorian and Edwardian houses, and the 1920’s and 30’s weatherboard houses that lined both sides of the street where I once lived were slowly being renovated and refurbished. The charm of Williamstown and Newport was being discovered; the homes of the working class were selling for a million to two million plus dollars.

image source:jmcadam

Just over six months ago I stood on the corner of Williamstown’s Stevedore Street and Douglas Parade and stared; Burke’s had been refurbished into six shops. The emporium had been at the corner since 1926; I was intimidated by it as a young boy. I wouldn’t go into the shop without mum. Burke’s sold men’s and women’s clothing, haberdasheries, bedding, linens, curtains, and everything else. Inside the shop a wooden floor separated the glass display counters of the different departments; and each department had a shopping assistant, ready to serve, waiting behind their glass display counter. It was all so polite and formal; except for the tangle of overhead cables, and the small metal cylinders flying back and forth along the cables. I was mesmerised by the cylinders, and fantasised I was watching Squadron Commander James Bigglesworth bank and roll his Sopwith Camel in the skies over WWI Europe. I would stand spellbound, and my eyes would follow the whistling sound of the cylinders as they sped along the cable; a clunking sound announced their arrival at their destination. The cylinders carried money from the different departments in the shop to a raised central cashier’s booth. After an assistant made a sale the customer’s payment, and the docket were put into a cylinder, and it was attached onto a two wheel carrier hanging from the cable. The assistant pulled a cord and the cylinder was launched along the cable to the cashier’s booth; the cashier put the receipt and change back into the cylinder, and sent it back to the department.

image source:notechmagazine.com

As I ambled along Douglas Parade towards the corner of Douglas Parade and Ferguson Street I started to think about the shoe shop that was once there; it had an upright X Ray machine in the doorway. The machine displayed an eerie image of bones, and a faint outline of your foot on a florescent screen. The shoe salespeople asked customers to put one of their feet into the machine so they could get an exact measurement of the size of their foot. There wasn’t a youngster in Williamstown who cared about the size of their foot; but we were all fascinated by the X Ray shoe fitter machine. We all crossed over the street whenever we came close to the Douglas Parade and Ferguson Street corner so we would be on the same side of the street as the machine. It was hard not to run as you got close to the X Ray shoe fitter machine. And then the moment came; you pushed your feet into and then out, then sideways, and then both together, into the opening of the machine. Back then we were innocent about electromagnetic radiation; we stared at the eerie florescent images on the screen as we moved and turned our feet. I wonder if that’s why my big toes are bent; and why my second toes have large bends in the middle joint. The shoe shop is now a real estate shop; auctioning what was once the homes of the working class for a million to two million plus dollars.

image source:google maps

Just as I had paused outside of Burke’s emporium I now hesitated on the footpath in front of Patterson’s furniture shop; there were no televisions in the window. Patterson’s is at the bottom end of Ferguson Street; just before the Cenotaph, and the Nelson Place and Strand intersection. The windows always displayed lounge and bedroom furniture, lighting, decor accessories, and the most up to date electrical goods and appliances of the fifties and early sixties. I watched television for the first time from the footpath outside Pattersons windows. I squinted at the small black and white television set showing the 1956 Olympic Games; all of us on the footpath wondered how it was possible to watch the Golden Girl Betty Cuthbert, Dawn Fraser, and Murray Rose when they were competing at the MCG and the swimming stadium. When the Olympics were not being broadcast we watched a black and white test pattern image, and sometimes black and white static; the footpath was a congested, crowded place. I never thought that staring at a screen that gave off some type of unknown electomagnetic radiation could cause my eyes to melt.

image source:commercialrealestate.com.au

And now, the windows that once bedazzled us with all that was new in the fifties and sixties were separate shops; the Yambuki Japanese restaurant, an Ella Bache skin therapy day spa, Cocoa Latte, H&R Block, and the YN alterations and clothing repair shop. I squinted at a verandah sign peering out from behind the Ella Bache’s skin therapy day spa sign; staring just as I did years ago when I stood in front of Patterson’s windows. And I wondered; what’s an organic dry cleaner. What would an organic dry cleaner dry clean. Would you take spandex bicycle shorts to an organic dry cleaner. And could you use an organic dry cleaner if the stains on your clothes were just conventional food residue.

The organic dry cleaner’s window featured a display of old Singer sewing machines. Mum had a Singer. She worked as a seamstress before she married dad and was an incredible sewer. Mum could make anything. She made my first grown up clothes; I was maturing into a teenager when she sewed my new blue blazer, and grey long trousers. They were about twice the size they should have been; they were made to grow into. I soon learnt that the organic dry cleaner’s did more than sewing, cleaning was their business; dry cleaning, and cleaning leather and suede, pram and baby seats, and rugs. They cleaned everything with an environmentally friendly, and chemical free service; and they used state of the art dry to dry technology which insulated fabrics from damage that water usually caused.

image source:slv.vic.gov.au

Mum never talked about water causing damage to our clothes; maybe the water was different back then. When our combined bathroom, mum’s washing room, was remodelled, mum’s copper was replaced with a washing machine with a clothes wringer, the cement wash troughs were switched over to brushed metal, and a briquette water heater was added to provide the kitchen and bathroom with running hot water. Even though mum now had running hot water to her wash troughs, and a washing machine with a wringer, her washing process stayed the same; soak the clothes for at least a day in cold water in the troughs but instead of boiling them in the copper throw them into the washing machine with Lux or Velvet, and then rinse and wring out twice to get rid of the soapy water before hanging everything on the rotary clothes hoist in the backyard. Mum used a bucket to carry the water from the one day soaking to water her passion fruit vine, and other assortment of flowering plants growing in the backyard; and that was her environmentally friendly, and chemical free process of washing clothes.

image source:jmcadam

At least three Australian fashion brands are now offering sustainable produced, non toxic, organic sleepwear, leisurewear, and underpants; all garments are made from GOTS certified cotton, where no toxic chemicals are used when it is spun, woven and dyed. Maybe there is a need for organic dry cleaners; there should be somewhere to take your stained organic knickers to get them cleaned. But then again, if Lux can get a load of nappies spotless there should be no worries with a few stained grundies.

Mum’s washing days were always Monday and Thursday; Friday was her grocery shopping day. She bought her meat from three different butcher shops. The windows of the shops displayed neatly arranged metal trays of sausages, mince meat, chops, cutlets, tripe, kidney, tongue, rabbit, and rissoles. The butchers served mum by scooping her order from the trays in the window, weighing it on the counter scale, and then wrapping each order in several sheets of white butchers paper; there wasn’t a polystyrene tray, shrink film, or vacuum pouch in sight. And the butchers wouldn’t be seen dead wearing a hair net, and their hands wouldn’t come within cooee of a pair of vinyl gloves.

image source:jmcadam

The sign on the footpath outside the butchers seduced me into the shop. There wasn’t a hint of sawdust on the floor; the butcher was dressed in a denim bib apron with rope straps, and was wearing a pork pie hat. The apron was detailed with a front statement pocket, and was protecting a black gingham check shirt.

Me: G’day mate
Butcher: G’day mate; before ya order let me get the missus out here so you can meet patty; just a little butcher’s joke, what can I do for ya
Me: I saw your sign on the footpath; what’s biodynamic lamb
Butcher: Ya heard of organic farming mate; biodynamics takes it a step further; it’s traditional farming that uses the universal cosmic forces in the environment
Me: Fair suck of the sav mate
Butcher: Na, fair dinkum mate, it uses the natural life forces
Me: (thinking to oneself) He’s gotta have a few kangaroos loose in the top paddock
Butcher: The healthful energies mate
Me:No worries mate; I’ll see ya later
Me: What do ya call a cow with no legs
Me: Ground beef; cheers
Butcher: I think I’ll use that one, see ya

I don’t think mum would have ever put biodynamic cutlets or tripe on a plate and served it to us. When I thought about the changes to the Ferguson Street shops, I wondered how long it would be before a biodynamic dry cleaner opened; where else would you get a shirt cleaned after you dropped a piece of biodynamic cutlet smothered in mustard cream sauce down the front of you.

Perhaps I was too spellbound by the small metal tubes flying back and forth along the maze of overhead cables, but I don’t remember ever seeing anything close to biodynamic organic underpants made from Global Organic Textile Standard certified organic cotton, at Burke’s emporium; a Chesty Bond singlet and Y front undies was as good as it got. I think Chesty Y fronts have morphed into Guyfront Trunks; which just goes to prove that whatever happened will change into something else.


Cripes! Biggles Was Real

Shoe-Fitting Fluoroscope

The Melbourne 1956 Games

Never Lick A Touch Screen With A Mouth Full Of Coffee

I started shopping at a big box supermarket about six months ago; shopping means buying one each of the same two items. Every few weeks I push a shopping trolley through the aisles of the big box and fill it with a large 80 oz bag of Dunkin Donuts Original Blend ground coffee, and a 12-pack of Victoria beer. Victoria beer is brewed by the Mexican brewery giant Grupo Modelo; the company responsible for introducing the world to Corona. I’m not a beer aficionado yet I’m going to drink Victoria, which some might call a dark golden pilsener type beer, in preference to Budweiser or Miller; and I’m going to drink any type of bock or porter over Victoria, Budweiser, and Miller. However there’s still nothing better than knocking back a cold Melbourne Bitter.

image source:carltondraft.com

I’ve got used to shopping at the big box supermarket. I think some shoppers are intimidated by the never ending aisles, the astonishing number of different products, and the overall starkness of the big box. I’ve developed a routine whenever I visit the big box; on each visit I greet the mature big box customer host with a nod and a G’day, wipe the handle of my empty shopping trolley with a sanitising wipe taken from a small container on a stand by the anti theft alarm security system, and push my trolley through and around the grocery section; always down the same two aisles. The first aisle is the coffee, tea, Milo, and hot cocoa aisle, and the beer, and wine and spirits is second. In no time my trolley is loaded with a bag of Dunkin Donuts Original Blend ground coffee, and a 12-pack of Victoria beer, and I’m heading to the collection of stand alone, do-it-myself checkout systems at the front of the shop. Without waiting for the automated greeting from the stand alone, do-it-myself checkout system I insert my credit card into the system. I patiently stand, staring at the screen, watching an animation of something moving over a little black hole. I follow the moving something; back and forth, back and forth, and back and forth. I absentmindedly wave the bag of Dunkin Donuts Original Blend ground coffee back and forth across the scanning bed; regardless of how I wave there are no beeps, and so I beckon an associate to the do-it-myself checkout system to finish the scanning, and navigate the lurking options of the payment screens.

image source:jmcadam

I’ve only managed to successfully check in three out of the four times I’ve used an airport self-service check-in. I didn’t really manage the three check-ins; they happened only after I beckoned a check-in agent to the self-service check-in kiosk. The agent navigated the series of touch screens needed to confirm my flight information, seat assignment, and print my boarding pass; after check-in they gestured toward the check-in counter. The counter associate requested my name, destination, boarding pass, and identification; keyboarding my responses into a computer. After checking my bag I was handed a bar coded luggage claim ticket. Sometimes I’m a little slow, and not process orientated; as I walked away from the check-in counter I pondered, except for checking in the bag, didn’t I just do all that stuff at the self-service check-in kiosk.

The fourth time I used an airport self-service check-in kiosk was in the International Terminal at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport. I approached a collection of kiosks pushing a trolley loaded with two check-in bags, and an assortment of carry-on items. The first self-service check-in kiosk was out of order; I chose another, and waited behind a fellow traveler. We were soon chatting, and before long our chatter became questions without answers; we were a problem solving team trying to decode the digital hieroglyphics on the touch screen. We left the self-service check-in kiosk together and headed to the check-in counter. I stood ready at the check-in counter with my eticket, ePassport, and US permanent resident alien card.

image source:jmcadam

I first travelled on an ePassport a couple of years ago on a visit back to the The Land Down Under. The Australian ePassport has an embedded microchip which contains the information on the passport’s photo page as well as a digital image of the bearer. As we approached a stand alone kiosk in the arrivals concourse of Brisbane Airport’s International terminal the airline associate assisting us asked

ave you used SmartGate mate; give us yu passport. no worries

Before I could answer they had taken my ePassport and pushed it into a slot in the front of the kiosk. I responded to a couple of questions that appeared on the touch screen; had I been exposed to any contagious diseases, and was I carrying quarantine contraband. The kiosk dispensed a ticket.

grab yu ticket mate, we’re goin to the gate; you’ll see why they call it SmartGate.

The gate part of SmartGate is like an anti theft alarm security entrance system at a big box supermarket, but with a gate and a camera. To navigate SmartGate you push your ticket from the kiosk into a slot near the gate, stare at the camera, and when the gate opens grab your ticket and through you go. After collecting your luggage you hand over your ticket and your completed Incoming Passenger Card, to an Australian Border Force officer.

image source:couriermail.com.au

A year after SmartGate I was greeted at the Auckland International arrivals terminal by an associate directing arriving passengers to different immigration stations.

Associate:G’day; where yu from mate, what nationality
Me: G’day mate, Australian, but I live in the states now
Associate: Yu poor bugger mate, but go through eGate anyway
Me: Cheers mate, no worries

I had SmartGated and now I had eGated.

I’ve since learnt that SmartGate uses a form of facial recognition technology; it compares the image that it captures of your face, to the digital image it uploads from the chip embedded in your ePassport. Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection is in the process of introducing a contactless system of SmartGate at Australian airports. You won’t show your passport; instead you’ll be processed by biometric technology and facial recognition. The roll out out should be completed by March 2019.

image source:disruptionhub.com

As I thought back to my ePassport entry experiences at Auckland and Brisbane airports I pondered; why don’t supermarkets use grocery recognition technology. It wouldn’t take much to adapt the facial recognition technology used at airports to grocery shop recognition. In this day and age an image of every grocery item; fruit, booze, breads and bakery products, house cleaning and laundry supplies, and whatever else is on a supermarket shelf has to be already somewhere in a cloud database. All it would take for grocery shop recognition is to attach cameras around the inside perimeter of the shopping trolleys so as to capture an image of what’s put into a trolley. Software would compare the image from the trolley’s cameras to cloud database images. When a match is made the price would be electronically added to a shopper’s digital account; and to check out just insert a credit card into the trolley’s card reader.

image source:chicagotribune.com

The big box super market associate who finished the scanning, and navigated the touch screen options of the payment screens, loaded my bag of Dunkin Donuts Original Blend ground coffee, and 12-pack of Victoria beer back into my shopping trolley. I stuffed the receipt from the system into the 12-pack, pushing it between a couple of bottles, and steered the trolley toward the anti theft alarm security system. As I passed the mature customer host they rewarded me with smile, and a thank you for shopping at the big box; and then transformed themselves into a theft prevention agent with, “do you have a receipt for the bag of Dunkin Donuts Original Blend ground coffee and the 12-pack of Victoria beer”. I gestured into the shopping trolley and replied, “in the 12-pack mate”. The recipe inspection went smoothly, but it caused me to puzzle about checking a customer with nine bulging plastic shopping bags. How long would it take the customer host to rummage through nine shopping bags and match all the items to the receipt, and does the customer host have a special magnetic imaging bar code OCR wand they whip out on such occasions.

image source:occupy.com

I looked up at the security camera as I walked through the anti theft alarm security system and smiled. The captured image of my face was no doubt already digitised and uploaded to a cloud database, waiting to be called upon by facial recognition technology.

Apple has now rolled out it’s own face recognition technology. They claim Face ID will recognise a face in the dark, if you’re wearing glasses or a hat, or if you’ve grown a beard. Many people already use Apple Pay as a digital wallet for purchases in shops and online. I’m taking bets that Apple Pay and Face ID will soon be mashed, and we’ll have Face Shopping; swipe right for a digital payment, take a quick selfie, and select PayNow from the Face Shopping app. So whenever you shop at a brick and mortar, or on line, you’ll need to have your selfie stick handy. I would also suggest an app, or an Instagram filter, for a quick bit of digital smoothing out of the wrinkles, reshaping the nose and eyes, and body shaping, or adding virtual koala ears, nerd glasses, a butterfly crown, gold crown, or bunny ears to the top of your face before you select PayNow.

image source:jmcadam

Smile to Pay will also be a feature of credit cards. Credit cards databases will soon warehouse facial images, and facial recognition technology will be seamlessly integrated into all card payments. Ordering at a macca’s drive through will be as simple as inserting your card and announcing,”I’ll have a tomato relish brekkie roll”, looking into the menu camera and smiling to be authenticated for Smile to Pay, and then pulling up to window one.

I need to start practising taking selfies when I’m watching the shopping channels on the iPad; getting the angle of the head right, doing a quick whitening of the teeth, getting rid of any red-eye, recolouring any grey hairs, resculpturing the jawline, and adding a warm, neon glow to the selfie. Who knows when I’ll next see an Allan Moffat signed XY GTHO Falcon pencil sketch on one of the shopping channels.


Good news, hipsters: Melbourne Bitter to go on tap

Aussie airport Smartgates to be ditched for facial recognition

Singapore to test facial recognition on lampposts

Never Bite The Hand That Holds The Camera

There’s a large cane basket that sits on the floor in the front room; it’s used to store most of our photo albums. I don’t remember the last time an album was taken from the basket; they sit in the basket as if they were a game of Stack Tower. The basket’s duty these days is to serve as a decorative piece and occupy the negative space in front of the didgeridoo. At one time the albums were kept within easy reach on a bookcase shelf or a side table. They were searched at random, or each page of an album was methodically turned releasing treasured memories of long ago holidays, family gatherings, birthdays, and special events. Most of the albums have plastic pages with six pockets on each side holding the pictures; some have a clear plastic overlay coated with an adhesive to hold the pictures onto the page. And there may be an album where the prints are held in place with decorative photo mounting corners. I remember when the pages of photo albums were always sheets of black paper. You’d carefully put a photo mounting corner onto a black and white photo, lick them, and then hold the photo in place on the page until the glue spit stuff on the photo corners was somewhat dry.

image source:jmcadam

Years ago we licked a lot of stuff. You never worried about where a stamp for an envelope had been; you’d just lick the back of it and stick it onto an envelope. If you collected stamps you’d use a stamp hinge to mount them in your stamp collectors album. The hinge was a small piece of transparent paper with glue on one side. You’d lick the side with the glue and try to put half of the licked sticky side onto the back of the stamp, and then fold the hinge so it would stick onto a page in the stamp album. And you did this all before your spit dried, and the stickiness stopped being sticky. Licking stuff was just second nature. You always licked the icing off a Tic Toc biscuit before eating it, and you always licked you fingers or wherever the sauce and meat had dropped when you were eating eating a pie and sauce, and you always licked the beaters after mum had whipped the cream for her cakes with the Mixmaster.

Back then you never really knew what you had taken a picture of until you picked up your printed photos from the chemist shop. You’d point the camera at something, look down and through the view finder to see what the camera was pointed at, and then push the shutter button on the side of the camera. I think I had a Kodak Brownie Flash II. You got your Kodak black and white film at the chemist shop; 8 pictures to a roll. The film was wound on a spool that would slip into the camera.

image source:skmcadam

You’d take the exposed film back to the chemist to be sent away for processing and printing; it would seem like an eternity, but the next week your photos were in a Kodak envelope waiting to be picked up. Before you left the shop you’d breathlessly reach into the envelope for your black and white memories; most times only half of the eight were in focus, well framed, or properly exposed. And you would carefully put a photo mounting corner onto the corners of each black and white photo, lick them, and then hold the photo in place on the page of a photo album.

I think at one time photo’s were somewhat personal. Photo albums weren’t passed around or given to friends to enjoy; they were personal keepsakes. You never really knew what attractions, buildings, scenes, or destinations your friends had preserved from their holiday’s as personal memories. When relatives or friends did share their albums it was unusual to find two identical photographs; a well known attraction may have been photographed from the same viewing place but there was always a difference in the angle or direction. It’s different today. It seems that images are captured, and then immediately shared on the myriad of social networks, or uploaded and distributed through cloud based databases. A quick search through these online resources shows that most people have photographed the same buildings, attractions, and landmarks from the same viewing place, at the same angle, and from the same direction. Data suggests that 35% of the online photographs of the Eiffel Tower are taken from the same three angles and that 85% of the photos of Machu Picchu are from the same spots; creating nearly half a million identical images on Instagram. It would seem that Instagram and TripAdvisor are not only used for inspiration of where to go for a holiday, but what to photograph and visit.

image source:jmcadam

And so I started musing. Why not provide different images of the same attractions and landmarks for all those bored with seeing the same images; and what if there was an online database of images of the world’s finest beaches, mountains, rivers, lakes and glaciers, rain forests, cultural monuments, heritage sites, important historical and political sites, and architectural structures taken from different perspectives. And to ensure the integrity of “a not the same old images” database an image would be subjected to a content analysis script before it could be uploaded. If the content analysis script determined that a similar image already existed in the database, then the image awaiting uploading would be rejected; no two images would be the same.

The iconic Flinders and Swanston Street intersection could be thought of as Melbourne’s Time Square, Piccadilly Circus, St Mark’s Campanile, or the Fontaine Saint-Michel; there’s always people going places walking up and down the street, and others stopping and waiting to meet under the clocks. On each corner of the vibrant intersection is a quintessential Melbourne building.

image source:gigapan.com

Flinders Street Railway Station is Australia’s oldest train station, and the busiest suburban railway station in the southern hemisphere. Before Melbourne’s underground was built all suburban trains would finish and start from one of Flinders Street sixteen platforms. The clocks under the main dome have always shown the departure time of the next train; if I was living in Melbourne I would be meeting under the clocks. There’s always an urban myth attached to an iconic building, and Flinders Street is no exception. The firm that won the design competition for Melbourne’s new station was also building the Mumbai station and it’s rumoured that the plans for the two stations were mistakenly switched. India got a Gothic style station, and Melbourne an East-Indian design with a flashy dome, an arched entrance, a tower, and clocks.

image source:lovellchen.com.au

Young and Jacksons has welcomed Melbourne drinkers since 1875. It’s not only legendary as a watering hole, but also for a nude painting. Chloe was a 19 year old Parisian artist’s model named Marie, and was painted by French figure painter Jules Joseph Lefebvre. Chloe was showcased at the Paris Salon in 1875; she has graced the walls of Young and Jackson’s since the early nineteen hundreds. Who didn’t have a few pots of the amber in the public bar whilst waiting for their train; looking through the windows, and across the street to the Flinders Street clocks to check their time. There was always time for another couple of pots. Today you can relax with a beer, wine, or a cocktail, and steal a glimpse of Australia’s most famous $5 million nude in Chloe’s Room on the first floor.

image source:melbourne.vic.gov.au

The neo- Gothic St Paul’s Cathedral was designed by the British architect William Butterfield. The building’s foundation stone was laid in1880. The church is unique for several reasons. Instead of using the traditional blue-grey Melbourne Bluestone of the time a warm yellow-brown coloured sandstone from Geelong was used. The three spires that were added thirty years later were never part of the original design; they’re a different colour from the rest of the building because a stone from Sydney was used for their construction. Before construction of the church started it was discovered the traditional east west orientation design wouldn’t allow the cathedral to fit into it’s block of land; it was flipped, and the north-south orientation makes it unique from all other Anglican Cathedrals.

image source:cv.vic.gov.au

In 1967 the Prince’s Bridge railway station was demolished, and the seventeen storey Princes Gate Towers twin towers office buildings were built over the still functioning train platforms. The towers became the headquarters of Victoria’s Gas and Fuel Corporation. When mum and nanna went into town they would start their day at the cooking presentations at the Gas and Fuel’s demonstration kitchen. Thirty years after being built the stark blocks of concrete were flattened, and the railway lines covered over. Federation Square, a modern piazza was created; a civic and cultural space where Melburnians would gather to celebrate, share, learn, and be inspired. Fed Square’s open spaces, galleries, restaurants and bars have become part of Melbourne’s heartbeat.

If you Google Flinders Street Station, Young and Jackson Hotel, St Paul’s Cathedral, Federation Square, or Flinders and Swanston Street intersection you’re presented with countless identical images; all taken from the same angle, and the same point of view. The following are the beginning of my “a not the same old images” database for the iconic Flinders and Swanston Street intersection.

image source:jmcadam

image source:jmcadam

The more I mused the concept of “a not the same old images” databases the more I became convinced that

the ones who see things differently; they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do. steve jobs 1997

And now I need to put the kettle on, sit back with a cup of tea, and look through the albums to find photo’s of my svelte self.


15 Tips for Taking Great Vacation Photos 

Michaels Camera Shop; Melbourne

Modernism Lost

You Can Lead A Horse To Water But How Do You Park It

I think the first time I drove a car with a reversing camera was a couple of years ago on a visit back to the The Land Down Under. We arrived in Melbourne from Hobart around mid afternoon, and after picking up a rental car motored to the historical gold rush town of Beechworth. It was late at night when we checked into our Motor Inn. Early the next morning I stood outside the room and was absorbed by nostalgic memories of yesteryear; when motels catering to the motorist started to appear in Australia’s cities and towns. A room’s parking space was directly outside the door, and when breakfast was delivered the food tray was passed through a slot in the wall. We had parked outside the door to our room, and there was a food tray opening in the wall beside the door. To leave in the car it was just a quick reverse with the front wheels turned, to be aligned and facing the Motor Inn driveway. I remember the morning the tradies ute was parked behind the car; as I got into the car I gave a g’day nod and a one finger wave to the 2 tradies on the roof.

image source:jmcadam

After starting the car I allowed myself a quick furtive look at the tradies; they had downed their roofing tools and were staring fixedly at the car. I pushed back into the seat and took the steering wheel with one arm; my arm travelled smoothly and continuously as the car moved backward and forward between the Motor Inn and the tradies ute; left, right, right, left. With the car facing the driveway I looked back at the tradies, and gave them a nonchalant one finger wave. As their heads tilted to one side the nods were an acknowledgement to the masterly reversing they had just seen. There was no reason for them to know the car was equipped with a reversing camera.

The rental car we drove on the last visit to the The Land Down Under was a Nissan Versa. It didn’t register at the time, and I can’t remember when I connected the dots; but I was driving a Nissan Cube. The Cube I’ve tootled around Omaha in for the last 6 years is the same as all Cube’s; a funky box plonked onto a Versa frame, or as some have said, a 50’s refrigerator atop a shortened Versa platform.

image source:jmcadam

The rental Versa didn’t have a headliner with concentric rings, or the dashboard circular shag carpet thing, ebay has Nissan Cube shag carpet dash toppers for $25.00 to $30.00, but it did have a reversing camera. And so I searched for every problematic parking space in Melbourne and it’s suburbs, the Mornington Peninsula, and Castlemaine; any cramped or obscure space that meant multiple backward and forward tight turning manoeuvres. And now reversing cameras alone are passé. Park assist systems combine cameras and sensors to determine the size of a space; and they guide and warn you how close the car is to an object. Active park assist or auto park systems, actually park the car in a parking space.

image source:honestjohn.co.uk

Some say technology is developing faster than our culture, and that we should step back and ask questions about this constant, unrelenting change. And so I ask myself these three active park assist questions.

1. Can active park assist park a car in the car stacker at the boutique style Salamanca Wharf Hotel.
Because parking is scarce the Salamanca Wharf Hotel provides parking in a car stacker that’s inside, and at the back of the hotel; it’s Tasmania’s first stacker. The friendly and helpful front staff are there to guide you down the small lane, walk you through the stacker intricacies, and to share your first stacker experience. The stacker can be somewhat daunting; it’s a machine of horizontal and vertical steel beams, chains and geared wheels, and gridded metal racks. Cars are assigned to a gridded rack. You squeeze the car onto the rack; which is an extreme tight fit.

image source:jmcadam

On leaving you push a big button at the entrance door to cause the chains and gears to move the rack around to create a space for other cars. The stacker has 10 spaces for small cars; stacked in pairs on top of each other. To retrieve your car you punch it’s rack number into the key pad by the entrance door, and push the big button; the gridded rack holding your car will be waiting for you.

2. Can active park assist stop a car from running into a parking meter in Argyle Place, Carlton.
For a short time in the early seventies I had a pale green EH Holden station wagon. I can only remember a couple of noteworthy events during my ownership of the EH. One was a long weekend trip to the Barossa Valley in South Australia; all I can recall is hauling a few cardboard boxes of wine back to Melbourne. The other event also involved alcohol. Foolishly, back in the seventies I would drink and not give a second thought about driving. Drink driving was just starting to be recognised as a serious danger, and a major cause of carnage on the roads. The breathalyser was first used in Melbourne in the early sixties and random breath testing wasn’t introduced in Victoria until 1976. Most times police assessed if you were drunk and impaired by your behaviour; how you walked, the state of your clothing, your speech, and if you were hiccuping. The state of Victoria now has some of the strictest drink driving penalties and procedures in Australia.

image source:gggiraffe.blogspot.com

Back when, Jimmy Watson’s Wine Bar outdoor courtyard was a place to spend a Saturday, spring and summer late morning early afternoon; a great place for cheap, good, red wine. Because of the new licensing laws in the early sixties Watson’s had to have a kitchen; you ordered simple cheese plates and assorted grilled steaks. On some Saturdays we would leave a collection of empty wine bottles in Jimmy’s courtyard, and head for one of Carlton’s Italian cafés. Regardless of the amount of wine consumed you would turn the key in the ignition, confident in your driving ability. I remember the Saturday afternoon I turned into Argyle Street. Parking was in the centre of the street, and the parking meters formed a long straight line that divided the street into traffic lanes. I turned and steered the EH into the parking space clearly marked by the painted lines on the road. The EH hit a parking meter with such force that the front bumper bar was bent into a U, and pushed back into the radiator. The radiator was pushed back into the fan.

3. Can active park assist cause interference with in-ground parking bays sensors.
The Rotorua Museum is housed in the Bath House building on the grounds of the Government Gardens. As we approached the Elizabethan style building a wire fence appeared; a high wire fence around a museum seemed somewhat unusual. A large sign on the fence proclaimed; A comprehensive assessment of Rotorua Museum has shown it falls well below earthquake safety standards and will need to remain closed to the public for the foreseeable future.

image source:heritage.org.nz

I eased the car into a parking space on Tutanekai St. It was the closest parking to the Rotorua Visitor Information Centre I could find; we had 120 minutes of free parking. Chatting with an Information Centre associate rewarded us with several Rotorua attractions to explore. I think it always helps to ask locals where they eat; she recommended the Fat Dog Cafe & Bar just around the corner, and handed us a voucher for 2 complimentary lattes, cappuccinos, or flat whites. After lunch, we were in no hurry, so sat back with a flat white, and people watched. The leisurely inactivity was only interrupted by the thought that it must be getting close to 120 minutes; the end of our free parking. As we approached the car a parking inspector was lifting the windscreen wiper; a parking infringement ticket in the other hand. Some might say I was obsequious, others would say courteous and polite

Me: (deferential pleading tone) G’day, is it possible for you to take the ticket back
Parking Inspector: Gidday, fair go bro, you’ve overstayed your time eh
Me: (effusive toady charm) But I didn’t know that I was over the time, and I was just about at the car; and it’s a rental car, and I don’t live in New Zealand, and if I have to pay the fine I have to convert American dollars to New Zealand dollars, and if I use my visa they add a foreign transaction fee; and I’m a tourist
Parking Inspector: We’ve got bloody sensors in the ground bro; they record when you park and they tell us the second you overstay your time
Me: (feigning attentiveness) Where are they; that must make it easier than marking the tyres with chalk
Parking Inspector: Right there, bro; in the asphalt, just in front of the bloody gutter; they’re wireless and we’ve got them in heaps of the parking spaces eh
Me: (fawning strong interest) Yep, technology and computers are every where; cars have active park assist and you have active park desist; so if you still used chalk, you could let me off; can I give you the money for the fine
Parking Inspector: Do you reckon you could take the ticket to the council office eh; sometimes they waive them for out of town visitors
Me: (ingratiating humility) Cheers; is there a place to park at the council office

I handed the associate at the council office the parking infringement and started to explain my indiscretion.

image source:old.rcg.co.nz

I learned from the Melbourne speed camera incident, and my appeal to the Civic Compliance of Victoria to request an Internal Review of the offence, that the best defence is to take responsibility for your actions, admit the infraction, and then bridge into the reasons for the circumstances. I spoke in a clear calm voice

I was aware that I exceeded the generous time limit the town of Rotorua allows in the P120 parking bays. I applaud the council in it’s efforts to ensure a healthy turnover of free parking for visitors to the central part of their city. Providing fair access to parking is an admirable demonstration of

The associate silenced me with smile and passed the voided parking infringement ticket back over the counter.

I remember the recent claim of a White house senior adviser; there are many ways to surveil each other now. There was an article that week that talked about how you can surveil people through their phones, through their; certainly through their television sets, any number of different ways. And microwaves that turn into cameras, et cetera. We know that is just a fact of modern life. And that caused me to wonder if active park assist cameras could turn into microwaves; if so we could heat up frozen TV dinners inside the car on long road trips.


Fat Dog Cafe & Bar

The Bath House Story

Salamanca Wharf Hotel