Misled by the Kensington Association?

When we moved to Kensington, over a year ago now, we were aware that we were joining a suburb that had something rather unique: its own lobby group. This group, the Kensington Association, was working hard to reunite the suburb of Kensington which, under Jeff Kennett, had half its region assigned to the Melbourne City Council for management, and the other half to the Moonee Valley City Council. This was an odd state of affairs and, in December last year, they succeeded in getting it corrected, with the whole suburb to move under the Melbourne City Council on the 1st July 2008 – i.e. next week.

Of course, there were two broad options for reuniting Kensington – everyone goes to Melbourne, or everyone goes to Moonee Valley. The Kensington Association was vocal in encouraging the Melbourne option, and one of the key reasons promoted was around waste services. A person set up at our local shops to promote their agenda promised me, since I was currently under Moonee Valley, that a shift to Melbourne would result in better street sweeping and the recycling bin being collected twice as frequently. Accordingly, I was convinced that shifting to Melbourne was the way to go.

Except this week, the Moonee Valley City Council took away our green waste bin. It turns out that all is not better with Melbourne City Council, as they don’t offer a regular, kerb-side garden waste collection service in any of their suburbs. Their option is for residents to store the garden waste somewhere, book a garden waste pick-up on a particular weekend per month, and when the council turns up, you need to help them load the waste onto their truck. Hmmm. In all of the Kensington Association’s research and publications on the merger, this little implication was strangely missing.

(And in Melbourne’s recent waste and recycling FAQ, it states that weekly recycling collection will not begin until October 2009, so this potential benefit touted by the Kensington Association is still a long way away.)

What makes the issue of green waste so relevant is that Kensington has a disproportionately large number of houses for an inner city suburb. Based on the data from a popular real estate website, we can construct the following table of suburbs that fall under Melbourne City Council’s management:

Suburb Separate Houses Semi/Terraces Flats
Kensington 28% 24% 44%
North Melbourne 8% 33% 52%
Parkville 7% 34% 53%
West Melbourne 5% 60% 21%
East Melbourne 5% 24% 62%
Carlton 1% 34% 54%
Southbank 1% 2% 85%
CBD 0% 8% 75%
St Kilda Rd 0% 0% 87%

And yes, I know that none of those rows add up to 100%, but that’s the way the numbers came. *shrug*

So, it’s clear that the Melbourne City Council’s not going to have much of an interest in providing a useful green waste service unless they do a special favour for Kensington ratepayers (and maybe those West Melbourne residents in their numerous terrace houses). Or maybe, our local lobby group (if you’re listening) can take a few minutes from their current campaign to save a park and help out those people you misinformed in your last campaign.

Another trip to Narnia

It was time to see a movie again. And the last movie I’d seen was on a plane, so it didn’t count. Friday night had arrived, and we were after something light-hearted, so what better than the latest childrens’ fantasy blockbuster?

Prince Caspian

Like “Lord of the Rings” but without the elvish

It’s really a bit unfair. If only Weta Workshop hadn’t gone and done Lord of the Rings first, then C S Lewis’ childrens’ epic wouldn’t look quite so derivative. It’s a bit like A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court crossed with Fellowship of the Ring. British schoolkids transported into a land where there are dwarves and they must complete a quest to save Narnia, the country within Lewis’ fantasy land.

Unlike Tolkien’s fantasy land, this one has strong Anglican overtones, and English is the language everyone knows. It’s actually quite fun to spot the Christian references through the plot, but the whole work is done with such class that you can easily suspend disbelief and get caught up in the tale. The child actors from the previous Narnia film are back, and the whole cast is excellent. Peter Dinklage is particularly good.

If you’re a fan of fantasy, and the Narnia books in particular, this should be an enjoyable film. There is a fair amount of violence (like Lord of the Rings) so don’t expect a happy, Disney, bunny-rabbit of a film. But, it’s not very challenging, which is why is was the perfect choice for us that evening.

My rating: 3.0 stars

Food but not Drink

Love CoffeeBeing in the middle of a work trip to Berlin and London at the moment, I was again reminded of how far we’ve come with in-flight catering. The food can be quite tasty. For example, I had a crispy croissant, flavoursome satay, and a superb steak in the last 24 hours. However, one aspect of the meals is a constant disappointment: the hot drinks.

Both the coffee and tea still taste like they did 20 years ago. Any Melbourne cafe serving that quality of beverage would be out of business so fast that you’ve only have enough time to ask for your soy-decaf-mocha and it would be gone. Surely it’s time the standard can be lifted a little? Maybe even to Starbucks level? I’m not expecting that Degraves St cafes will be transported into the air immediately.

One possible reason is pressurisation. Apparently modern aircraft are pressurised to the equivalent of 2,500m altitude. This is for safety reasons, and I expect also saves on fuel. But water boils at a lower temperature at altitude, and maybe this defeats any ambition of a decent cup.

Ironically, coffee beans grown at high altitude attract a premium, as does coffee roasted at altitude. And the world’s premier tea plantations are also at altitude. This raises the obvious question: if these people are making the best tea and coffee – do they actually drink it? Or, do they need to head down to the lowlands to brew a cup of caffiene heaven? Surely not.

Well, whatever they’re doing, the airlines need to find it out. And fast! I’ve got another three flights in the next week, and I’ll need a decent coffee fix…