Pith & Wind - Lois
didn’t intend to go to NZ again this soon after
going to Auckland with bro’ Richard (aka Dick of
Dick’s Toolbox) to see Lois, our ailing 93 year
old mother. Mind you, when we went over we weren’t
absolutely certain how badly she was ailing, but we both
had our suspicions fuelled by recent phone conversations
we’d each had with her.
Our suspicions were confirmed in the most unfortunate
way when Lois had a fall, possibly triggered by another
stroke, within a week of our returning to Melbourne. She
was admitted to hospital where her condition deteriorated
She died on Saturday the 7th of this month, which is why
I’m returning to Melbourne for the second time (with
Maria this time) after the Auckland siblings and their
families indicated that my presence was necessary in the
interests of family solidarity as well as to add some
elder brotherly perspective.
I was happy to be there too, although there were more
than the usual hurdles to negotiate. For instance, there
was my projected appearance at the book launch for Peter
Evans’ book, Sunbury Festivals, at the Arts Centre
organised by Melbourne Books that I reluctantly had to
Then there was the matter of Maria’s passport that
had inconveniently lapsed a couple of days before we were
due to fly over, but amazingly the Australian Passport
Office whisked it through in just a day, a very long day
mind you but a single day nonetheless, so we were free
to book our tickets and go.
I actually managed three hours sleep before we clambered
into the van and headed off to the airport (via Dick’s
place to pick up his Tom-Tom GPS that I’d been so
impressed with on our very recent trip to Auckland together)
and thence to Tullamarine and a rendezvous with another
Emirates’ Airbus 380.
After an uneventful flight Maria and I picked up our pre-battered
rental car and headed to my brother Jeremy ’s Meadowbank
home where we were warmly welcomed by him and his wife
Susie. (I was best man at Jeremy and Susie's wedding in
San Francisco back in 1998, which of course Lois as mother
of the groom attended as well).
A lavish meal that night at Middle-Eastern style restaurant
Beirut and exotic ice creams at Milse later we toppled
into bed – only for me to sleep fitfully as I’m
wont to do when I'm travelling.
The day of Lois’ commemoration broke clear and sunny.
Jeremy and Susie were hosting Lois’ commemoration
and our sister Ann, who’d assumed the role of family
organiser, (a role she acquitted with aplomb not unexpectedly),
was anticipating anything from twenty to fifty relatives
and friends. read
Toolbox - Oh, the NBN..
| I am
writing this even though the NBN is at least a year away,
maybe more, from the outer fringes of Melbourne where
I reside, and where the Internet is just a little slow.
When it does work data packets move to and fro in a desultory
and constipated fashion according to some peristaltic
whim. All too often it doesn’t work at all even
though we have a fancy router that is meant to fail-over
to a wireless service when things go pear-shaped. This
it sometimes does. And over the years our internet has
gotten slower and slower for which there are a number
or reasons. The two obvious ones are: firstly, the age
and deterioration of the copper pairs running from the
exchange to the nearest pillar and then from the pillar
to our house and, secondly, not enough capacity has been
provisioned to the exchange for the number of users. In
theory we should have twice the speed we have given our
three kilometre distance from the exchange - and we did
once when ADSL2+ was first installed. But then only very
briefly. For about one morning we got 10 Mb/s, no we get
around 5 Mb/ps.
When we were in New Zealand staying in the middle of nowhere
they had nearly 40Mb/s ADSL2. Positively snappy - though
you could see the node from the house which does help.
With any ADSL service the further you are from the exchange
the slower your service will be which is a technical property
of ADSL. The fact that it works at all is quite clever
but the more advanced the ADSL service the greater the
chance that it will interfere with another service in
the adjacent copper cable thus slowing everybody down.
Anyway having worked in telecommunications I know a little
about the NBN and not just the technology but the business
model; but nobodyhas all the answers so you can have the
result of my well informed ignorance.
Firstly is the NBN a good idea? The answer is an unqualified
yes given that we live in a connected internet age with
high graphic and information/entertainment needs. High
speed internet is a financial and emotional necessity
for pretty much everyone. Is the need uniform everywhere?
Absolutely not. The business city centres are over-provided
with fibre because businesses are more likely to pay for
bandwidth. But the further you get away from the centres
the worse the coverage. There was a momentary glimmer
of hope when the Hybrid Fire Co-Axial (HFC) Pay-TV networks
were built but essentially that was Telstra playing catch-up
with Optus and the network overlap was about 95%.
Interestingly when the roll-out of that network started
it was underground but after about five minutes they realised
that was far too expensive and soon wires were slung from
the power poles. Telstra maintained and up-graded its
service properly over time but Optus let its network deteriorate.
The Telstra cable network is being integrated into the