Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Weekend Adventures

First on the agenda on Saturday morning was watching my niece and nephew at Little Athletics. I only stayed for about an hour and a half but managed to see each of the kids run in a race. They were both lucky enough to get medals, a silver and a bronze, for their efforts. The theme for Saturday was relays, so all the races were relays,but there was also some discus throwing going on as well. A well aimed discus nearly took out a video camera that a parent had set up on a tripod, but the parent was able to deflect it.

In all the Little athletics looked a lot of fun, it made me wish I had been inclined to take part when I was a kid. Forget the olympics, little athletics is where it is all happening. My mum offered to take me once or twice, but I was never interested in such things. I wish she had pushed me a bit more maybe.

Saturday afternoon I was off with Mike to a friends barbecue in Little River. The birthday girl, J and her husband M built the house last year and it was the first time I had been there, so that was interesting. They have a lot of land, a large house and a big shed to go with it. Did I mention that the house was big? I think it's a 4 bedroom house (or 3 bedroom + study), but every room is very large. They even have room for 2 fridges in the kitchen. They still need to build the verandah though.

As for the party, J hired a jumping castle and even mowed a cricket pitch for the obligatory game of cricket. I had a go of the jumping castle but it seemed a lot more difficult than I remember. I did something to my arms and they've been aching ever since, so I've decided that jumping castles are more trouble than they are worth, or for kids only.

Mike and myself ended up staying the night (Mike didn't feel up to driving), I got the last spare bed while Mike got the couch, a fair deal I think. In the morning we drove back to Melbourne.

For the rest of Sunday I watched some TV, did a bit on the computer, and caught up on some much needed sleep.

Hello Blog

Hello Blog.

I know I've been neglecting you lately so I'm just leaving a note to say I haven't forgotten you and will make some real posts soon. My adventures have been a bit thin on the ground lately. Actually I should post on what I did on the weekend for a start...


Monday, October 13, 2008

Jury Duty

Last month I had to attend jury duty. The thing with jury duty is that you sit around in a lounge area with over 100 other potential jurors in the rather nice county court until they draw a jury pool for a trial. It's quite boring, but stressful not having any idea what is happening. On the first draw of 30 people they got to 27 before drawing my name at 28. As luck would have it (or not) I went all the way and got to sit on a trial jury. In hindsight that was lucky, because the trial I was assigned to was rather short. The others starting that day going for longer, one much longer.

The formalities and processes of the court are fascinating. Not at all like Boston Legal (or anyother american TV show) though, which is a good thing. In fact the first thing they tell you is to forget everything you've seen on TV. The one thing about the court that stood out for me was that the way the judge and barristers spoke was extremely formal and precise. There no mistaking the meaning of what they were saying.

The jury is looked after by a person known as the judge's tipstaff, or "tippy". They are not allowed to know anything of the deliberations, but look after the practicalities. While court is in session out tippy was seen to be doing crossword and sudoku puzzles, as well as looking after the items of evidence when necessary.

Due to confidentiality I can't reveal anything about the case. In fact I'm not sure what I'm allowed to say, so it's best not to say anything.

At the end of it you get a cheque for your service ($36 a day up to 5 days, with a higher rate after 5 days) and an exemption from jury service for 3 years. That payment is not as bad as it seems as your employer is required to make up the difference between the jury payment and what you could reasonably expect to be paid for the days work you miss.

As I said it was and interesting few days.

Perth Notes

I wrote this over a month ago but never actually posted it. I might post some of the more interesting photos latter. We left for Perth and on the 29th of September and came back on the 1st of September, a really quick trip. What follows is my account of the trip...

It was a quick trip: we left on Friday and returned on Monday. The purpose was for a few mates and me to see Collingwood play Fremantle on Friday night. If you follow the footy you'll know what happened and know that that was the lowlight of the trip. The rest of the trip was fantastic.

One thing you notice is the amount money over there. A fairly basic house, perhaps a bit run down, goes for over $500,000. Most of the main footpaths are paved with brick pavers, and there is much new development. The area surrounding the Subiaco railway station reminded me of a utopian city.

The public transport system (Transperth) is clean, fast, safe and frequent. There is an overwhelming presence of transit police and revenue protection staff, and yet they are friendly, courteous and non threatening. I don't think we waited more than about 10 minutes for a train ever, and when they did come they were clean. The only signs of vandalism were scratched windows.

The public transport ticketing system is an interesting one. They have a smartcard system that works. We didn't use those though and just bought cash tickets. From what I can tell the ticket machines are the same ones that will be installed here when the Myki system finally gets underway. The fares themselves were fairly reasonable, $3.50 bought a 2 zone ticket that was valid for 2 hours, that is what we used to get to Fremantle.

On Saturday we caught the train to Fremantle and visited the Fremantle Gaol and the Little Creatures Brewery. We did two tours of the gaol, a basic one, and the great escapes tour. We learned a bit about prison conditions through the years and various riots and escapes, and basic prison life. It was an interesting way to spend the afternoon.

Little Creatures Brewery is fantastic, if not a bit pricey. Basically it's a beer hall in the middle of a brewery with pipes and vats and things all around the seating area. Being a Saturday afternoon it was packed too. It's not dark in dingy, very open and light, right on the foreshore of the Indian Ocean. I recommend a visit when in Fremantle. This was the most "Melbourne" thing I saw over there, apparently they have a place in Brunswick Street Fitzroy.

One of my friends suggested we find a Sizzler restaurant for dinner. And so we did. We took a train to the northern suburbs and walked about 1-2 KM through deserted streets until walking into the entertainment hub of Innaloo. Yes I ate at a place called Innaloo. We lined up for about 15 minutes before being seated and began to raid the salad bar. Brought back old memories, except this time I was able to have some self discipline unlike my visits to Sizzler as a kid.

On Sunday the plan was to go to Cottesloe beach and join the famous (it only registered vuguely for me) Sunday session at the pub. I think we were a bit early, but we got see a capoeira demonstration and had fish and chips for lunch. Back in Perth we walked from the Mount Lawley train station to our hostel (instead of walking from the city) and hung around there before returning to Mount Lawley for dinner. We went to the Flying Scottsman hotel for their $10 Pizza and Pint night. The freshly made pizzas were great and the pints were crisp and cold. Sitting near us were Muph or Plutonic from the hip hop duo Muph & Plutonic.

Monday we flew back. At check in we were told that the in flight entertainment wasn't working. Two of my mates managed to score a $10 newsagent voucher as compensation. Somehow they managed to play a movie anyway, which was good, a shame it was Indiana Jones which I had already seen. On this flight I managed to fly on a type of aircraft I've never been on before, the Airbus A330. This aircraft, an A330-200 registration VH-EBJ "Margaret River" was only delivered in May so it still had that new plane feel about it.

That's it really