Tuesday, December 29, 2009

December Updates

December has been going well.

My car is unreal (well it's my first car). Needs a wash though as it looks like a panther with yellow spots.

Work managed to renew the contract with the government. So I am still employed.

Christmas was good. All of my family were together, a bi-annual event. My brother and his two girls are down from NSW. Can't believe how tall my oldest niece is, she is 13 and is calling me old! Youngest niece is growing too, but is still a little girl. They both got Ripsticks and Nintendo DSi for Christmas and that is all. I like that approach to presents, two big things, one from each parent (they are divorced) instead of lots of little things.

Christmas dinner itself was at my other brothers (who still lives in Melbourne) wifes parents house. That was a bit awkward with our mob invading their house but it all went pretty well.

Boxing day I spent hanging out with my brothers and 8 year old nephew while my brothers wife and three nieces all went shopping. Mum and brothers in laws came to brothers for BBQ that night.

Yesterday I went with brothers and nephew to the cricket at the MCG. I have never been to a cricket game before, and I thought it would be pretty boring. Wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Nephew was hanging over the fence for autographs, got two, Siddel and someone else. Ended up taking nephew for a walk when he began to get really bored towards the end. I made him walk all the way to the top of the Southern Stand and the Ponsford Stand and back down again to tire him out. Again all the girls went out together, apparently they had Max Brenner at QV and then went up the Eureka tower. Nephew ended up at our place to sleep the night, while the three nieces had a girly sleepover at my brothers place. We played some Mario Kart on the Wii before nephew crashed last night.

Today I woke up at 7:15 to turn the Wii on for the nephew, then went back to sleep for a few hours. After I got up, showered and dressed we played some more Wii, then went out for a game of cricket in the driveway. Brother and sister in law finally turned up at 3pm to get nephew. After recovering I finally got the chance to do some shopping for myself. I decided to go to Westfield Plenty Valley rather than Greensborough or Doncaster. Good move as it wasn't very busy at all. What I really needed was some shorts to replace the pair that got ripped in the washing machine the other week. I wasn't happy about that. In the end I got a pair of shorts from Colorado for half price and a shirt from Target as well.

All in all things are pretty good at the moment.

Myki is finally here. Well sort of...

Today at 3pm Myki was turned on...

...for trains only!

What the?

Turns out there are issues with getting the mobile equipment on trams and trains talking to the rest of the system. Apparently Ms Kosky is not amused. Excuse me Ms Kosky, but you've had how many years to get this working and now you are shifting the blame to DoT people. They are probably the same people who might have told you it was unrealistic to tell the public that it would work before 2009 was out.

Also supposedly you can get the Myki for free (instead of paying for the card) if you order it online. I tried to get a card with Myki money but the session timed out before I could finish.

Melbourne Laneways

So in the name of Geocaching a friend and I did some exploring of some of Melbourne's laneways a few weeks ago. Some I had been to before, others I hadn't. One I had been to but didn't realise it was AC DC lane. On some drunken stupor a few years ago I remember getting refused entry from a number of clubs around here.

Anyway this day we visited AC DC lane in search of a cache. It was a Sunday so there was a distinct odour of Beer, piss, spew and rubbish. We found the cache eventually after scouring every likely looking place in the lane. Geocaches are always very obvious once you know where they are.

Next stop on our tour was Degraves followed by Bank Place. I like Bank Place and the Indian restaurant there looks great too. We also visited Hardware lane and finally Hosier lane. But the lane that most interested me was Langs Lane that runs between Bourke and Little Bourke in the block between Spencer and King. At the Little Bourke end it is wide enough for vehicles to enter, but at the other end it is only wide enough for a footpath.

Langs Lane

My question is this. Is Langs Lane Melbourne's Narrowest?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hip to be square

...and other songs by Huey Lewis and the News such as, The Power of Love. (Although I like this fan video with all the Back to to future footage better. And here is hip to be square as mentioned earlier just to be consistent.)

Speaking of Hueys. I happened to be at Borders at Doncaster tonight and Ian Hewitson owner of various pubs and restaurants (although I hear his last restaurant didn't go so well) and the long running Huey's Cooking Adventures TV show (Channel 10 at 3:30 pm weekdays IIRC) was signing his new book, Bloody Good Recipes.

It was funny because he was at his table and everyone was standing back, not sure what to do. So then he whipped open a salad (recipe in book) and offered everyone to help themselves. Can I just say it was one of the best salads I've had in my life. It was a called Thai Slaw, and it had a great Thai flavour (I reckon it is more Vietnameseish, but I'm not a chef so what would I know?) with lots of chilli and coriander. That was enough for me to buy the book. Well first I had a look to make sure the recipe was in there. Plus I got him to sign it. So in one go I got both my first cooking book and first book signed to me by the author in one go. So I guess the moral of the story is if you want me to buy your book, give me some food first.

Although next week no food will be necessary because one of my favourite authors will be signing at Borders Doncaster. That is none other than Matthew Reilly and this latest book The Five Greatest Warriors. If you are unfamiliar with his work then I would say that he rights the kinds of books that Dan Brown wishes he could write. His books are usually a mixture of myth, legend, history, science fiction, action and comedy. Matthew Reilly is known for his meticulous research, in his last book The Six Sacred Stones he even included a bibliography. The current trilogy I would say is pretty close to a melding of Indiana Jones, Stargate and Tom Clancy.

Who knew publishers made video trailers for books?

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Docklands-South Wharf Wander

A few weekends ago I went for a wander around Docklands specifically because one morning on the train on the way to work (yep it stopped in no mans land between Jolimont and Flinders Street) I watched a route 48 tram turn out of Wellington Parade into Spring Street. A bit of digging revealed that route 48 trams now run down Collins Street instead of Flinders Street to a new terminus at Victoria Harbour. I have no idea when the change happened but it is an interesting development. So after a quick lunch in the food court in Australia on Collins I caught a route 48 along Collins Street.



Almost here...

Soon enough we were crossing Spencer Street and passing the Southern Cross station. Then we travelled down hill to the new terminus amongst the giant new headquarters for Myer and the ANZ Bank.

New Myer building

It was interesting to see the the tram terminus is clearly temporary with a small single track stub going off beyond the island tram stop. I guess it will finish up right at then end of this sliver of land eventually.

Funnily this part of Melbourne is how I imagine Dubai to be. All these new and shiny buildings built in a desert. The docklands do remind me of a desert, almost no one walking around in the hot sun/freezing cold wind. There are probably more Mercedes in Dubai though. I hear a lot of people leaving Dubai just dump the car at the airport on the way out.


Shunting into the stub to wait to head back to North Balwyn.

From here I walked over to the river. Skateboarders were already making use of the new urban space and furniture. I'm sure the suits next door will disapprove. Looks like a good fishing spot too, but there are signs saying that is banned.

The New

The old

Boats everywhere

ANZ has imposed a ban on fishing along here. I guess
they don't want smelly bait littering the smokers area.

I set off along the river outside the ANZ building and crossed the river at the pedestrian bridge and then found my way to the new South Wharf complex.

I've got to say that I'm not terribly impressed with the new DFO, it has a huge ground level car park and very indirect access to public transport. Strangely all the shops are underground. As fro the sheds along the wharf itself, they seem like they are destined to be yet more overpriced restaurants that I will never eat at.

While there I also had a peek inside the Convention Centre. There seemed to be some kind of event on, as there were a lot of families around. I didn't like the interior of the foyer though, I think it will age very quickly. The huge glass wall is great. Somewhere in here is the Hilton Hotel as well.

As a whole, the area seems contrived and desperate, more so than docklands.

From there I crossed the new bridge and edged my way towards Spencer Street. As I crossed a helicopter arrived on the adjacent heli pad. Not a bad way to go shopping at DFO South Wharf.

I wish I could do my shopping in a Robinson R44. A great
parking space as well.

The helicopter is a Robinson R44, the most popular helicopter in the world (the company's website even says so!), it carries 4 people including pilot. It is based on the R22 which seats 2 people.
This particular helicopter has also been seen at Ayers Rock.

The always photogenic robofish.

I then walked over the Clarendon Street bridge and back again, before heading up the hill to Southern Cross. On the way I passed this apartment building which has been built on the tiny sliver of land between Flinders Street and the railway viaducts.

Good location, close to public transport.

Not sure I would like to live here.I get a good view in the window of the first floor apartment on the end from the train. Sure being close to Public transport is good, but being this close is bordering on the ridiculous.

From there I made my way up the hill to Southern Cross station passing the new Age building on the way.

pretty self explanatory.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Oh what a feeling - Yes I bought a car

After much uming and ahing I finally bought a car. Nothing very special, but it is my first car so I am quite proud. It is a 2008 Toyota Corolla sedan. It's the Ascent model, so just the basic equipment level. Call me lazy, it's an automatic.

Safety wise it has 2 airbags and ABS, but no stability control. Fuel wise at 1.8 litres the engine promises to be quite fuel efficient. I filled it up the night I got it and it took just under $50 worth of petrol. The petrol needle is still sitting above the full mark after driving over 70 km since the refill (I expect it to start dropping fast any day now). If I can be bothered I will check the fuel efficiency and usage stats on the car computer at some stage.

So far it has left a good impression on me. After mostly driving more powerful cars (albeit heavier too) I didn't know what to expect. It accelerates very smoothly and likes climbing hills more than the Subaru Liberty I was driving earlier in the year. The steering at fist seemed a bit iffy, it has a different "road feel" than I was used to, but I'm getting used to it.

I think I'll get rid of the car dealer number plate thingys and sticker on the back window as they clash with the black theme going on with the car.

Pictogram Man Strikes Again

Daniel posted about a poor unfortunate pictogram man he found. This guy is one I found in the streets (with rather bumpy footpaths!) of Vancouver.

He was outside the court buildings, so I guess they don't leave themselves open to litigation. I guess we could call him Mr not looking where he is going.

This reminds me that I really should post some photos from my trip.