Weather systems

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When you think about how important the weather is for us, it is rather amazing that most people don’t think about how it comes to be. Of course we all have that weather app (or if you are like me, you have about five of them as they all tell a slightly different story for today’s weather).

And we read about – better: skim over –  climate change, El Nino and all other things we take for granted. But most of us don’t look any deeper. It rains today, bugger.

Any sailor and any pilot will have a different view. We are deeply interested in the weather, now, in an hour and for the duration of the trip. And we want to understand where that weather originates, what makes it happen. Because we know that with the slightest change of factors, the weather changes also.

It’s not magic. It is all about systems, lows and highs, cyclonal and anticyclonal movements, air movements, air density, humidity, wet bulb temperatures and a bit of a guess. The last is what the weatherman does. And if he or she is good, that’s magic.

Melbourne is a bit awkward. We are close to the roaring fourties, have an awful lot of water around us and have a desert – or better: an overheated dry land mass – starting less than an hour’s flight away. That’s why you read things like “four seasons in one day” and “if you don’t like the weather, wait 15 minutes”.

It makes for beautiful skies though. So sitting in my fav seat and just staring out of the window is never dull.

Dimensions

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One of the strangest phenomenons of Melbourne CBD is that it feels like a village. You just don’t get the feeling of a “big city”, let alone a “metropolis”. Suburbs are like side streets, outer edges like suburbs. And CBD feels like … what? A small town at best. Cozy, warm, faces you think you recognise from last week’s shopping.

I have been looking at this for quite some time and am not sure I got it right, but I think it has something to do with scale. Everything is in proportion. So you look around and you have small buildings and big buildings. A skyline that looks “normal”. Until you realise that every building is 100+ meters tall … If you would take any one of them and transport them to Amsterdam, it would immediately rank in the top ten tallest buildings. And stick out, well above the skyline.

But there is another dimension at play: small village politics. You read a general complaint about how a certain street is “still not taken care off” in the local paper, really just news at suburb level at best, and a few weeks later the constructors move in. Some counsil member feeling personally responsible. Or perhaps, and I know this is bleak, having created the whole thing anyway to enable this one company to make some money. And it somehow feels right. That’s what happens in a small community.

4,5 million people sounds to me like a small state. So I expect “state style management”. Not the cajoling I remember from small villages in the home country. But then again, it is effective. And whatever, Melbourne is the most livable city on earth. For the sixth time in a row. So they are doing something well. Really well.

Who keeps the lights on


Australia is an amazing country and Victoria is a really nice state. And living in Melbourne is … well, what can you say about a city that has been deemed the most lovable city in the world for six years in a row. I agree. And I’m not really a city person. But then again, Melbourne feels more like a big village. 

But I have some concerns. It started with just looking around and seeing all the beautiful buildings and how clean the streets are. Everything well kept. The Melbourne star, a giant Ferris wheel merrily turning from 10am to 10pm, all lit up. Everybody unconcerned and happy. The smallest building project surrounded by friendly staff warning you of dangers and stopping traffic to ensure you cross safely.  

Set against an increasing unemployment rate, now around 6%, I suddenly wondered how they paid for it all. So who is keeping the lights on?

I just filed my first income tax declaration and was stunned about how quickly that was done and dealt with. I received my returns in the bank on the day I received my final statement and approval. All within a few weeks of filing. Interestingly, there was an accompanying letter, explaining where my tax dollars went. And here things became … weird.

Some 40% is spent on welfare. Okay, I get that. That’s what you see when you look outside. And slightly less than 20% on health. All good so far. 

Around 8% of income tax is spent on defence. Wait … WHAT? That can’t be true. But it is. I understand that I should look at the GDP number (more like 2%), but this looks like quite a bit of cash being spent. 

So how do they pay for all the other stuff? And how do they keep on doing that? I mean, this is a massive country with a very small population. So even when you compare all the numbers to EG the Netherlands, you’d have to factor in that everything here is bigger, further away, less easy to reach. 

I’m going to read a little more about this, as this is really interesting. Everything points towards a serious breakdown, like we had in Europe. Banks, mortgages, salaries, all way out of whack with how I perceive reality.

It must be me, not understanding. It can’t be them, can it? 

CBD energy

 

Docklands: I can hear the crowd yelling, 60,000 strong. Etihad stadium is about 1 k away and the wind is not favouring the crowd. Still, energising. Like a wave. It reminds me of the place we used to live, Wellington Crescent, on the east side of CBD. It was a rotten apartment, but we sure had some fun in the neighbourhood. 

Right after we arrived in Melbourne we were invited to go to the “footy” in the MCG. Our first Ozzie adventure. And as we lived right around the corner, we walked. It was a warm evening, September being spring. And the closer we got, the more I had the idea I was watching Star Trek or some other sci fi movie. Everything was vibrating, shimmering, out of focus. Lights and colours and noise and … overload of impressions.

Of course I brought my iPhone, it being my camera of choice. And right when we crossed the railway tracks I suddenly saw what I felt: a space ship arriving.

Click …

Remnants

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After having approached Melbourne CBD for the last 12 months from the east, it is amazing to see how different it looks coming in from the west. Moving into Docklands was the best thing that could happen to us. Modern, open, with lots of sky. Like our place in Holland.

Up to the 21st century, Docklands was just a slowly spreading landscape of harbour and industry. And only in the last five years it became a more vibrant part of the city. You can still hear the emotional distance in Melbourners, when talking about this part of town. In the meantime there are 10,000 people living in the modern high rise and more than 50,000 people have a job in this modern suburb.

As things go, almost nothing of the old times can be found and only at the outer edges you will find remnants of the past.