Tag Archives: General

The Good and Bad of working in the City

After a break of more than a few months, I’m working again and back in Melbourne again. So I guess that means this Blog may go a bit quiet again as – as some of you may know – I write for a living. Actually I’m a Technical Writer; merging my 25 years of Technical IT stuff with my freelance writing.

The point being I write all day at work, so am less likely to write Blog entries when I get home. The phrase bus-mans holiday springs to mind. Look it up …

Anyway it’s great to be in town again. We are in a very central location, so there’s lots of cafes and food places nearby. But then again, this is Melbourne so there’s heaps of those anywhere, I’d suggest. Plus the shopping; within 3 minutes walk I have a bushwalking/camping store, JB HiFi (for DVDs and HD TVs etc) and Allans Music (where I can drool over $5000 pianos)

The slight down side is trying to find healthy food. I’m not that fussy, but it is actually not that easy to find a simple wholemeal sandwich. Guess I could always make my own. Heaven forbid…

The real downer is our Trains. Overcrowded and late would be the best term I’d use. As if that’s not bad enough the information they provide us is appalling. Yesterday I got on a home-bound train clearly labelled as the correct one for me. Yet at the very next stop I looked up: both the platform’s display and the one inside my train were saying it was a different line (not mine!). Both were in agreement with each other and totally at odds with the train I thought I was on. And it wasn’t just me confused; people at the station were getting on and asking where this train actually went. It seems as though some ‘believed’ the incorrect display and stood back as we left.  Someone next to me said such people would be very annoyed; apparently the next ‘correct’ train on our line  – after ours – had just been cancelled.  So at least a 40 minute wait for them..plus the time they had spent waiting for the ‘wrongly labelled’ train.  At the next stop the driver used his P.A. and reassured us we were on the correct train.

He needed it again today!  Same train, similar problem.  At North Melbourne station the driver announced that we should “ignore the displays, we are NOT going to Ballarat”  As some of you may know that’s a fair way away, particularly when the electric train line only runs about 1/5 of the way there. The driver finished up by adding “and we don’t have an extension lead that long…” (true!)

Hottest December ever, Hottest Dec day ever tipped

Currently just after 7:30am and only 20c, but the forecast is for 42c here in Melbourne. Should this happen, it will be the hottest recorded December day ever – since records began in the 1800s.

Total fire ban for most of Victoria. With the hot North wind – which feels like that blast you get when you open an over door, only it doesn’t stop – the bushfire alert is probably extreme. Fingers crossed that nothing happens.

Also, the weather guys were saying it ‘only’ has to hit 32c to make it the hottest December ever, on average.

Hot walk, Lush water

Today was the 5th and final day of the cricket at the MCG. Went along, and knowing it was going to be hot, we sat in the shade. Initially that was upstairs in the magnficant new Northern Stand, but as the play went on longer than expected, we wandered upstairs. By this stage it was about 12:30 and already 37c.

South Africa hung on for longer than most people (me included) tipped. Despite losing their 9th wicket in the final over before lunch, the rules apparently don’t allow for even a 15 minute extension. Strange. So we all waited 40 minutes. The players returned and it was then all over in less than 5 minutes.

Walked back – armed with water – in the hot wind over the new William Barak foot bridge. Into city and caught a tram to Lush to buy my shampoo (solid bar). One lasts me nearly 6 months (insert joke here)

Anyway found what I wanted and was talking to the two store ladies about the heat. One of them spotted my water bottle was 90% empty and said “you would like me to fill that up?…it’s only tap water, but it’s pretty good.” How sweet. She did and after a chat about how great our water is compared to other cities, I wandered off along Swanston St. Happier and less thirsty for the experience.

Designed without users in mind?

Funny how working on IT projects makes you appreciate how important design is in the real world.

Take today. We’ve got a new supermarket, just opened over the last few weeks.

They, like most, are really pushing the No Plastic Bags line. And more power to them too. It’s a good thing.

But there’s a small hiccup. For the person serving you – and packing the bags – at the Express counter, they have a metal frame to hold the plastic bag whilst it’s being packed.

For the canvas reusable bags, there’s no such device. So the attendant is forced to use the nearest flat area, right beside the cash register thing.

Unfortunately, that flat area also has the outlet hole for the printed sales dockets! So bang, the dockets get mangled up and may even cause a stoppage of the register. Oops.

Maybe it’s a bit harsh to say it was designed without talking to end users. But it seems clear they didn’t take into account such ‘obvious’ usage patterns as re-usable bags. Which they themselves sell and encourage us to use.

I don’t suffer fools. I am a surgeon of cynics. I cut dumb DNA.

Patricia Piccinini : We Are Family

As the title of the Blog hints at, I’m very interested in the convergence of Machine and Human. Where Technology meets Biology.

Now, I know I’m not the first to do this. Indeed last year, I saw Shane Gehlert’s fascinating Cyber Kangaroo work on display at Broken Hill.

I’ve just returned from a mini-trip to Bendigo and Echuca. I drove up to Bendigo to see Patricia Piccinini’s exhibition “We Are Family”. I’ve previously seen her work at the National Gallery of Victoria when it first opened at Fed Square, plus heard her interviewed on Radio National last week.

It really was worth the trip. Whilst there are ‘only’ a handful of pieces on display, they are intriguing. The recent discussions on stem cell research – in context of human genetics – have given PP great inspiration. The results are three dimensional, realistic pieces of What If. They are identifiable as human (or at least organic), yet something tugs away underneath whispering “everything’s not right, look closer”.
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Walhalla – simply my favourite town

This tiny ex-gold-mining town clings to the side of a very steep valley in West Gippsland. It once boasted a population of hundreds, if not thousands. Today it’s about 20.

Wahalla has hung on, literally, since 1862. It has survived the mining bust – nearly 90 years ago – floods and fires. It only got the power on in the 1990s.

I usually stay at the nearby village of Rawson at the Rawson Village Scenic Holiday Resort. The price usually includes breakfast. They also serve a dinner in the dining room (hall!) – at extra cost. But all very reasonable, particularly considering when I last looked, there was nowhere else to eat in town.

My advice would be to drive up either Friday after work or early Saturday morning. Should take about 2 hours.

Things to do:

  • Visit the Museum
  • The Long Tunnel Extended mine tour – a must
  • Do a town walk with a brochure (comparing the old photographs with today. Amazing!)
  • The Copper Mine tour etc (run by Mountain Top adventures – good people, great tours). They do the driving in their 4WDs.
  • Visit the Thomson Dam – Melbourne’s main water supply

Directions: Follow the Princes Freeway south-east out of Melbourne. Pass Warragul and take the Moe exit. Follow the signs north to Walhalla. Roads are all asphalt – for all of the above – but they become gravel past (north) of Walhalla. 4WD strongly suggested for this section.

Read up a bit first if you can before heading there. Will make it more rewarding. The Walhalla Heritage and Development League would be a great place to start. Also my very own contribution to the excellent Wiki Internet Encylopedia may be of value.

Crows sack fans!

Directly following the club’s 4th straight loss for season 2004, the coach, president, vice president and football manager all hit the Adelaide radio talkback airwaves, demanding changes.

During a series of irrational and increasingly hysterical calls, they managed to slip in the words Victoria and Melbourne at least 8 times. This really seemed to hit home and by 10pm the club had issued a Press Release stating that all fans had been offered fair and reasonable termination packages.

It is understood this includes a trip to Kangaroo Island to yet again see those sculpted rocks, and a map showing the feint marks on the Adelaide roads where the Grand Prix used to be.

A spokesperson from the Crows fan base was approached for a comment, but didn’t understand the question.

Historical note: This orginally appeared on The Bladder. Voted Mildly Unfunny by an over-senstive bunch of Crow tosspots. Must have hit the mark, then :-)