Friday, April 15, 2005

Public transport, good tram

Today I had to go to Fitzroy. I walked to the tram stop, waited a minute or so, an uncrowded tram arrived and I travelled to the city.

After a wait of five or so minutes in Collins St the tram arrived to take me to Fitzroy.

I finished my business in Fitzroy and caught the tram to Victoria Street and alighted.

After a couple of minutes, the tram arrived to take me to Swanston and Latrobe Streets, an old tram.

I walked out of the QV building with my 12 sheets of frozen puff pastry and straight away boarded a tram to come home.

All trips were fast, no delays, not crowded and comfortable.

When Melbourne's tram system works well, it it magical. When it doesn't, you could tear your hair out in frustration.

Public transport, bad tram

I don't catch a tram that often. Sometimes four times a week. Some weeks not at all. We decided to walk into the city from home, but yesterday there was a howling strong wind blowing as we set off so we thought we get the tram at the next stop.

Ah, but it is ten to ten, we will walk until ten and then we will catch the tram and my partner will have nearly three hours on his two hour ticket.

But by ten, we were close to our destination and the wind had died a bit, so we just kept walking.

Our destination was the Arts Centre but we wanted to continue onto the city after that, so we went to the nearest tram stop after exiting the Arts Centre.

We saw the back of a tram that had just passed and waited for the next one. This is in St Kilda Rd that has 5 routes with a Saturday 12 minute service, and 3 routes with a 15 minute service. You do the maths on how long on average we should have waited for a tram.

We waited for what felt like twenty minutes, but it was probably 12 minutes as I think the tram we saw back of was a number 1 and the tram we eventually caught was a number 1. There must have been a big problem at Domain Rd interchange or nearby.

As we scoffed our bacon and eggs at the Rest and Relax Cafe in Swanston St, the trams started to flow again, showing City Latrobe St, City, and other short terminations.

R ranted and raved about the crap trams while we waited at the Arts Centre. I guessed there was a problem and understood, but sheesh, as a casual traveller, you would not be impressed. Buses are certainly superior in this situation.

But there must be a way to minimise these significant delays on the present tram system that never used to happen when there was only W trams.

Public humiliation

I am reminded by Daniel of the humiliation of selling your no longer wanted recordings. I my case it was old vinyl from the seventies and early eighties and maybe there was even a couple of sixties records.

From the time we first bought a cd player they were never played again. But I kept them all, usually in an inaccessible place, such as high in the laundry cupboard behind other stuff. The turntable went under the bed. So for longer than ten years they were never played and they were carted from house to house as we moved.

I had dreams of one day transferring them all onto the pc and then burning them onto cd. But it was such mammoth and daunting task, I never did it.

What finally drove me to get rid of them was that the weight of them caused a shelf in my wardrobe to collapse. I managed to repair it, but the records had to go. Since I would not have any records, the turntable is useless, so it may as well go too.

I knew of a second hand record shop in Chapel St, St Kilda so I carted them all into the shop along with the turntable. The guy was very pleasant and told me to go to the café next door and have a free cup of coffee while he went through them.

He was not finished when I returned. He sorted them into three piles, one definite, one maybe and one discard. How could discard so many of my valuable records? These are my treasured memories. Did he not know what I associate with this record? Peter Frampton is still a respected musician, how can he not want the LP and Peter looked so cute on the cover with his long curly hair. Bah, he was obviously too young to know what Saturday Night Fever meant to us. Ok, the Mahalia Jackson record is a bit scratched and Mary Poppins is almost unplayable. Ah, he certainly wants the Rolling Stones’, Miss You and the David Bowie ones. Oops, Leo Sayer into the discard pile.

Three piles were reduced to two as he checked the condition of the maybe pile. He was left with one small pile that he would buy and one large pile he did not want. He made a good offer for the turntable $70. It must have been a good quality one, Sansui from memory. And he offered about half that for the records. I accepted his offer.

I carted what was left across the road to another shop. I knew the owner of this store was a grumpy old c***, and he did not disappoint me. He had a quick look and grunted that there was nothing there he wanted and they were only fit to be chucked out.

I dropped them off at an opshop.

About one hundred bucks profit for having my musical tastes judged and the care of my records questioned. Quite humiliating.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Today's diary

Holidays are hard when you are not away on holiday doing stuff. I had been thinking about what to do this week when I am not working and don't have a garden to worry about. There are no pending projects, apart from very unimportant ones that can keep.

I am full on stressed by body corporate stuff, and time on my hands too, I stayed up too late last night, drank too many glasses of wine, went to sleep worrying about body corp stuff and woke up thinking about it. Normally I go to sleep thinking about sex and wake up thinking about sex.

But what a busy day it was. I woke at 8, played on pc for 90 mins and in that time ate breakfast and tidyed up. By 10 I was showered and prepared for the 11am meeting with the building manager. As the link person between the body corp committee and the building manager, I have to have an occasional chat with our less than agreeable building manager. It went well, but I thought it would take half an hour. Instead it took 1 and 1/2 hours.

Came back home, wrote a report on the meeting, had lunch. By then nearly 3pm. Thought I would dash into town and pick up an ordered cd. No problem with that. I am now so close to Queen Street, I will get the bus home rather than the tram.

I arrived at the bus stop at 3.35 just in time to see one in the distance. Checked weak effort of a timetable, and it was less than ten minutes before the next one. Good. I am out of cash and need to go to the bank next door after I get off the bus.

The bus eventually arrived at 4pm and while we were all loading into the bus and the driver was wasting time with some old confused bloke who did not know which bus he wanted, three other buses overtook us. I had plenty of time but suddenly it had shrunk to a minimum.

No time to go the bank when I got off the bus. R had already called to see where I was. Set the video, no time for a shower, go down to bank. We have to be in St Kilda by 5pm.

Run into two body corp committee members and they wanted to know info. I distractedly filled them in on a couple of points while I was watching for R to come downstairs. 'Why is he taking so long?' A late move into the building, so one lift isolated and only one lift available. But no problem really, I had allowed extra time and luckily I did not give up on the bus earlier as there was a significant tram delay at the same time. R got home late as a train was stuck across a level crossing on his normal route home.

After all that, it got better. The tram came and we were in St Kilda by 5pm to meet up with the o/s rels. Instead of them being in their studio, they were at an outdoor cafe in Acland St having a drink. We joined them for one drink and then went off to the Belgian Beer Bar for a drink and and a barbecue meal. Sorry, barbecue is not on tonight. No matter, we watched the production of the staff pouring us a drink and sat under the mighty oak trees.

From there, we went onto a friends restaurant, KL Cafe in Acland St, and had a nice meal and chat. We walked the length of Acland St to their accomodation and caught the tram home. Home by 10 pm.

How can life be so busy when you are not working?


I heard today the word for..................well, the eating table that has bench seats, closed in at one end and if the person closest to the wall wants to get out, then everyone else has to move. Got the idea? A booth. Seemed to be a holiday house memory for me, but that sort type of table and seating has a name. More precisely, upholstered seating along a wall.

I had never heard the word before, but I am sure I will hear it all the time now.

Anyone know?

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

A straight line is the shortest distance

It is good that the roadmakers put a ramp on the little island in the middle of the road, but as it is not in a direct walking line between the other footpath ramps, everyone walks across the white hatched area. Fairly predictable.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Cruelty to animals

Yep, been guilty of it. Not in a severe way and I would never countenance any cruelty to animals, but I was a kid. I will go to my grave with some regrets.

A day or so ago we set off for a walk to Albert Park Lake. Always a nice thing to do surely. In case I got hungry along the way, I took a crust of bread with me. Not to feed to the swans, ducks, or comorants, let me assure you. Feeding wild animals and birds with human food is way wrong.

But once we there and I did not get hungry I felt not inclined to carry the crust home. For some reason the birds in the lake seemed to swim up to us and what I could I do? They were hungry and I had a bit of food.

It was wrong, I know. But I tore the crust into tiny pieces and fed them. First the juvenile swans, then the ducks came and the comorants. Some mature looking swans rocked up too, they got a crumb or two as well. Then this puffed up swan arrived. He looked like a boss. Feathers were errect, but he never bothered with any of the other birds so I wondered why he arrived with such attitude.

A new young swan arrived, so I selectively threw him a crumb. The nearby puffed up boss was not so fast and the younger got the crumb. Big mistake. The puffed up swan put his beak at about the base of the young swan's neck and tried to push him/her under the water. Ten seconds of that would have been enough, I would have thought, to assert his/her authority, but no, it went on for five minutes at least. R was not so interested to watch it, so we moved on toward the boat houses. I kept watching as they swam away, the boss still with his/her beak at he base of the younger's neck and trying to push it under. They swam along the edge, we walked to the boat house, they moved to the middle of lake, still, bosses beak was around the base of the the juniors neck and trying to push him/her under.

The time is only a guess, but I would say it was at least fifteen minutes of boss swan trying to push the younger swan's head under the water.

I suppose it was a performance and a leader of the pack thing, nature is cruel, but I don't think I will take anything to eat along the way next time we go to the lake.

Monday, April 11, 2005

The o/s visitors

They arrived as predicted and while we were feeling a little guilty in advance about not inviting them to stay with us, it quickly became clear that they would have declined. Like us, they like their own space. After check in at their accommodation, a neat little studio opposite the Prince of Wales in Acland St, St Kilda, we brought them back to our place for dinner and had a nice drink, meal and chat.

Of course they are very nice, but like many English people, god how they can talk. Actually, they are from Jersey, which is quite different to England.

We put them in a cab to go home. I told the driver where they needed to go and he nodded knowingly. I told them it would be around $10 and it was, but only because they are seasoned travellers and noticed when he drove past where they were going. I am guessing that he was going to take them in the other end of Acland St and drop them off and thereby add another $3 to the fare. I know Melbourne's taxi driver's shamelessly rip off tourists constantly. This is not the first time I have knowledge of it.

Today I went by tram to collect them and we went into the city so that they could get an idea of the layout of the city and how to use the trams. The tram system did let me down a bit. The 16 was late, we waited around 15 minutes and then there was a delay at the barracks with a broken down tram

We hopped off at the Concert Hall and walked across Princes Bridge and caught the City Circle tram. As we walked past Flinders Street Station, we got mixed up in a gang of black fellas, druggies and weirdos. Not a good start, but it was uphill from there. They observed the sights along the city circle route, combined with my commentary and the onboard announcements, and I learnt a couple of things I did not know about our city.

We did the full circle, arrived back at Swanston and Flinders St and proceeded to the Transport Bar for a cooling drink. From there we went to the tourist information office in Fed Square, and folks, it is a brilliant resource. I had no idea it was so good. Two different woman in our apartment block are volunteers there. I don't know if all the staff are volunteers, but it is truly great for visitors to Melbourne and even for local people too.

They caught the tram back to St Kilda for a late lunch and I went home.

The sun shone, there was a cooling breeze and I was proud of my city.

You work out what is true here and what is not

He is not my friend and he lives next door in downtown Melbourne. He is attractive, young and worldly. He also teeters on the edge. He does an honest day's work everyday. He rarely uses a computer, but when he did a year or so ago, he was selling steroids over the internet.

Customs, coffers full thanks to the indulgence of our Prime Minister, John Howard, saw fit to spend $20,000 prosecuting him with a result of two $300 fines. Yep, they brought in all the experts, computer boffins included to examine his pc hard drive.

The case before his was a woman who had bought two tabs of a sedative over the internet, instead of going to her doctor.

Your taxes at work in the lucky country.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Windsor Watcher

Prince Harry is lost for words when grandma HRH asks him what he thinks of his Dad and Camilla 'doing it'.