Saturday, April 13, 2024

People disappointment

I was catching a tram towards South Melbourne. I have to change trams to do that and while there are plans to to connect trams passing us to South Melbourne, somewhere might be very cold before that happens. 

About ten ticket checkers were at our stop where they were checking tickets as people left trams rather than getting on trams. I was there for about four minutes and I reckon I saw nine people nabbed for not having paid a fare.

I changed trams from the 58 to the 1 to get to South Melbourne Beach and on my return, as far as I could observe, I was the only person who validated their card. There are people who don't validate cards because if they have already paid the daily fare, that is taken two trips in more than two hours, it is pointless and they are not fare evading. Maybe the Myki Pass alternative means it is pointless to validate as you have paid in advance. But still, I think many people were fare evading, from young to old, to public housing types to private home owner types to tourist looking people. 

Some weeks ago, Indian born neighbours boarded the same tram as us and they did not validate their Myki cards. Disappointing if they were fare cheating.

A queer thing happened when I caught the 58 tram from our place. I saw a neighbour, European born with a Chinese wife, with them both being friendly and nice long term neighbours on our own floor, leave the tram I boarded at the stop after our stop where he should have left the tram at Anzac Station.. He would have to walk back one stop to get home. He is not the type to be engrossed in his phone and miss his stop. Yes, I was guilty of that once.

I don't believe they have a car and they use public transport all the time, so they are quite familiar with how our public transport works. What I suspect is he hadn't paid his fare, saw the ticket checkers and correctly guessed they would not get on the tram and so not to be caught, travelled to the next stop.

It is all so disappointing. They think they may be cheating a private company, or the government, but they are cheating we taxpayers, their fellow citizens. We pay more tax to cover their fare cheating or there is less money the government has to spend on services. 

I cast my mind back several years when we caught a tram to the city with Hippie Niece and her then partner. They were caught on the tram for not paying their fare. Our cards were not checked. I suspect one of the ticket checkers might have recognised me after the cheaters were caught. 

I was both angry and subsequently embarrassed that she didn't pay her fare. That wasn't how she brought up. I'm very glad she was caught and would have had to pay a fine of over $200. She is now very good about remembering her Myki card and has set up via her phone automatic Myki top up for her and her two daughters. 

Another older upstairs neighbour didn't pay her fare on trams. She now has serious dementia but she didn't ten years ago when she fare evaded. 

I plan to say something quite subtle to our neighbour when I next see him, but he will understand. I just hope R is not with me. 

It is a bit of x over y divided by kind of question. If you are watchful and understand how ticket checkers work, you will be miles in front by not paying your fare, as against the occasional fine you may receive if you are careless with observing.

Paying your fare rather depends on your character, and I am not liking what I am seeing about people's characters.  

Friday, April 12, 2024

Gone to the dogs

Sister and Bone Doctor have an aged dog, to the point where they can't plan too far in the future as Fuzzy Cocoa approaches the end of her life. She is some kind of poodle cross. Several years ago, after a severe fur trim. 


Oldest Niece has Charlie, a smallish dog and it too is quite old. 

Ex Sis in Law has two pugs. I'm afraid it is not a breed I like. I hate the noise they make when they pant. The noise they make is just horrible, and how anyone thinks they are attractive, I don't know. Sorry if you have one.

Mother's dogs were Socks and Pooch, medium sized dogs. Father's favourite dog was Cindy. There were other child hood dogs, Red, who was killed by a trailer behind a car. He was a tyre chaser. One dog was kill by wild dogs. Awful, but there was one dog permanently chained up as he would immediately rush off to chase cattle in a mindless way. 

My grandparents had a Collie dog when I was just past toddler age called Joffey. He too was pretty well permanently chained up. 

Our dogs were Toby, a medium sized mongrel bitzer mixed breed dog with cattle dog instincts. He was terrified of thunder and alerted us to when it was approaching, and fireworks. I vividly remember his last walk in Alma Park, as we lifted him out of the car for him to stagger around the park for a bit, Pretty well blind, with collapsed claws. From there we took him to the vet for the last time. We sobbed and the vestiary practice sent us flowers the next day. 

Jessie was a pure bred West Highland White Terrier. She was a lovely dog, always so close to us but apparently she barked a lot when we weren't home. We didn't know as we weren't there. She had so many medical problems, from hip dysplasia to bowel problems. I can't remember why now but she went to our now late friend Arthur who lived at the foot of Victoria's Mount Elephant. At a youngish age for a small dog, she died of throat cancer a year or so later. What I already knew about pure bred dogs, proved to be true. Photo of Toby and Jessie from about 1990. 

We had the privilege of looking after the small mixed breed white Jack E Boy, here in the apartment so many times, the dog of our friend who now lives in Tasmania. He was great and we loved him as our own. But he died of old age a couple of years ago. 

And then there is Tradie Brother with his deaf dog, Dog. He has tried to let her off leash at contained parks and at the beach but it is quite hopeless as she doesn't hear calls back to her master. I admire him for taking on a deaf dog, but I think he was foolish. His last dog Cobber died at a premature age. Dog is is a big white dog and should she jump up onto you with affection, she could knock you over. But worse is she slobbers. No big deal on my shirts as they are only worn for three days, but I only wash my jeans every two months. Dog slobber means an immediate wash.  

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Sydney Day 5

Firstly back to  Day 4, as JacCee put it, (Mr) S Lut, the word on the bottom of the mirror was to advertise a brand of Vodka, Absolut, and a few letters had been removed, no doubt by patrons of the hotel. I am surprised no one picked that up. 

Today was R's actual birthday, a special one but not ending in zero but a five. We decided to visit the lovely Coogee Beach, with Coogee being the first place R lived when he arrived in Australia for a as a ten pound pom some fifty years ago, and he stayed beyond the required two years. The 373 bus trip to get there was fun with lots of curves and hills.  Coogee was quite busy, but also so quiet and peaceful.

I think everywhere we visited in Sydney, we could have done so by tram in the late 1950s. How much nicer that would be nowadays rather than buses. I was a bit surprised that there weren't many electric buses, but still noisy diesel buses spewing out their noise and filth. 

There was plenty of quality seating for old people, and for us. 

There are lots of places to eat at Coogee but R had noticed a kiosk as we arrived on the bus, and we had a nice brunch there with surprisingly good coffee. If the local council is responsible for the beach frontage, a first class badge to it.

OMG, the guy on the left of this cropped photo was smoking hot. He and a mate sat together on the steps below us. Everything about him was so stylishly cultivated, yet not a hint of being gay. Famous sports person maybe? I was too slow with my camera. Sometimes it is best to just admire nice artwork.

I know how to give R a birthday dinner with style, a bus and a hamburger. C'mon lovey, we'll catch the 311 bus to Woolloomooloo. I had booked the restaurant a few weeks earlier. Being a Friday night, so many places did not take bookings, but this one did. We were joined by our two friends in Sydney and it was a lovely evening. I did concede to catching a cab back to our hotel. 

Finger Wharf is comprised of a wharf for very expensive looking boats, with the building on the ground floor hosting restaurants and above some very expensive apartments. 

With city views.

The restaurants were very busy.

One person chose something else but three of us chose hamburgers. We all agreed they were the best hamburgers we'd ever eaten. The hamburger bun was black but let me put it delicately, the burger led to a green output the next morning. 

Rounded off for R and myself with an affogato each. Ice cream, with strong coffee and Frangelico poured over. Elements was good. Did it cost a bomb? Yes. Was it good? Yes. Did R enjoy his birthday? Yes. I tried really hard to be a person who would say, 'It's only money'. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Personal stuffs

This coming weekend there will be a birthday celebration for Hippie Niece's twin cafe latte coloured daughters. If I do say so myself, the are very pretty and after a difficult upbringing in the early years, have become quite delightful. Thankfully Uncle Tom Cobley and all won't be coming. A great niece turned ten last month and this month the girl twins turn seven. Old, we are feeling. 

I think Fire fighting Nephew, his wife, their four year old daughter and 18 month old twin boys will be there, which will be great. Their mother posted on Instagram a short clip of the boys running riot in a the big green hardware shed, with the comment, they will from now be in the pram until they are 16. Well before she had her children, she said in aside to me when other great nieces were running around with some visiting children, 'And he wants me to have one of those!' Not so long ago she asked me, 'Can I nail them to a wall?' She turned out to be a wonderful mother and manages with a little black humour. 

We are renovating, well about to. We are having the apartment painted from top to bottom, having the bathrooms regrouted and the carpet replaced. Bedroom blinds will be cleaned and living room blinds replaced. We repainted the apartment well over a decade ago but not the trim. We are too old to do it ourselves now. The colours now look so old fashioned, as does the carpet which is quite shabby. We can barely afford it until settlement of Mother's will. It's been a long time since we've had a credit card debt, but that may become so if Mother's estate is not settled soon. 

On Saturday evening I made the suggestion to go for Bahn Mi in Smith Street, Collingwood on Sunday. I'd heard about a certain place I wanted to visit, but the weather wasn't kind, so instead we took the car to visit the big green hardware shed to look at paint colours. We partook of the charity fund raising sausage sizzle before we entered. As usual, my onions squeezed out of the roll and fell to the ground. As per the great controversary a couple of years ago, the onions should go on top. R is still learning about my hand shakes. He shoved the roll into my hand, my hand shook and spillage happened. I needed to pick the roll up from his hand. There was a choice of tomato sauce, barbeque sauce, or mustard. We chose the barbeque sauce. It was nice enough but messy enough for us to visit the toilet to wash our hands. We went to the beach for coffee. It was pretty cold and we were underdressed. How typically Australian. As old people do, we sat on a bench with a good backrest and stared out to sea, only at times distracted by a hot guy walking or jogging past. Ah, the memories. 

Last minute, Brighton Antique Dealer called to as if we were free to meet her and her toy boy for a pub dinner. We did, and once again I proved how gambling can make you an income if you are sensible. My imposed rule saw me double my money and take it. I put in $5 and came home with $10. It was a nice catch up.

The weather was to deteriorate on Monday but the morning was bright and sunny so we did tram to Smith Street for Bahn Mi, but the place is called Joey Bun Mi. It may be Vietnamese but we had a great German sausage in a crisp roll with other stuffs in the roll. 

Tuesday was a doctor's appointment for me and I was ordered to have a coloscopy, and R had a haircut in Prahran. Our not so healthy brunch was a bacon and egg toasted sanger with the obligatory coffee. We separated after brunch and after my appointment I took a long way home, via Chapel Street tram, a walk along Swan Street in Richmond, a City Loop train to Flinders Street and a tram home. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Sydney Day 4

As I mentioned, we had a taxi driver tip telling us where to visit, in this case The Grounds in Alexandria on what I guess is an old industrial site. It was just fabulous, and I am told it is Mexican themed. It was so full of colour with some of it simply being commercial shops.

Hey goats, turn around for your photo shoot.

This is the first time I have ever chosen such a brunch. It has a crunchy supposedly healthy granola cereal at its base, topped with yoghurt and then fruit with a mint garnish. It was lovely, and satisfyingly filling. The large main cafe was very busy on a normal weekday (working from home?) I saw a dozen front of house staff moving  briskly around and the service and food was excellent. Attractive waiters was a bonus. 

This is an International branded American pick up, as they are called there. My, what a serious windscreen sun shade. Somewhat minimalist. Perhaps Strayer would like one. She is a mistress of gear sticks and clutches. 

That's better. Goat faces. The cab driver the day before had mentioned a pig there and being walked around by staff, but I overheard someone saying the pig had been stolen. Nevertheless, I was glad I didn't have bacon for brunch. 

To get there we took a train from Museum to Green Park Station and then the 448 bus to just outside the cafe. I will be simple to reverse the journey to get back to our digs. The bus appeared punctually and then I screwed up badly, with serious repercussions. I missed our approach to Green Park Station and didn't press the next stop button to alert the driver. We were so unlucky that no one wanted to get on or off the bus at what you would think was a well used train station stop. If it was a Melbourne tram, oh well, going back to the station stop won't be too far. The next stop for the bus was a long way away. It was quite warm and R said he wasn't walking back. I got busy with apps and the next bus back was in 18 minutes. We waited. The bus did not turn up. The following one did punctually but with a thirty minute service, we had waited 48 minutes. 

What will happen with decent public transport is that if there isn't a driver or bus available, a bus will will be taken off a very frequent route to fill in the gap on a very infrequent route, or a driver will be bribed by management to run the service, even though they may have finished their shift or be on a break. Of course I complained and I received apologies from both the private bus company and Transport for New South Wales. If the bus companies were still government operated, then there would be cooperation between depots to ensure services were run. Disgrace!

We eventually got back to our hotel and that evening we dined at the gay Oxford Hotel. The meal was nice enough. I didn't notice at the time of what was on the bottom of this artwork. I hope you can work out what the bottom word was originally. Who's first off the mark? EC or JayCee?

Monday, April 8, 2024

Monday Mural

I'm joining in with Sami and others for Monday Mural. This one is nothing too special but I kind of like it. It was somewhere in Balaclava. 

My apologies if I haven't left comments on your blog. My reader has delayed your posts to read and then heaps came in today. 

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Keolis Downer renewal to run Yarra Trams

The contract to run Yarra Trams, currently operated by Keolis Downer, is up for renewal. Melbourne has the largest tram system in the world and I care deeply about it, for both its history and how trams shaped our suburbs and city, and as being close to being daily user. 

Theoretically we have a tram every 70 seconds at our tram stop if travelling towards the city during the day for the ten minute trip to town. What actually happens is three trams will arrive together, just as we step out our front door and we will have to wait for a few minutes for the next tram to town. That's not a big deal. 

In the opposite direction we catch route 72 to Prahran and route 16 to St Kilda. Aren't we so lucky to be regular users of the worst two tram routes for on time performance. Of late it has gotten so much worse.

Having worked  in public transport for almost my whole working life and a user of public transport for the same period, with some good insider contacts, I do have some understanding. 

The operators of Yarra Trams have strict performance targets to meet. For on time running of trams, the company sometimes meet them. But how they do this disadvantages passengers.  There are various penalties to Yarra Trams for what it does wrong and so the company works towards minimising penalties, with a focus on performance statistics. What Yarra Trams doesn't do is to work the system in the best way to benefit passengers. 

EG. Two 72 trams are travelling to the city together when they should be twelve minutes apart. The late tram leading should be turned back from it city destination at a crossover point before the city terminus to get it back on time. Nah, the penalty to Yarra Trams is less for a late running tram than turning it back short of its destination and so the twenty minute gap continues with two trams together. As I write this, this happened to me today as I checked the app. Next 72, 2 minutes. It takes me longer than that to get to the tram stop. Next tram should be in 14 minutes, with a 12 minute service. No, 22 minutes and then one after 23 minutes. If this was rare, I could deal with it but it isn't rare and is our regular experience. 

On one of our tram models, a new door system has been installed. I don't know why. The doors hesitate and then slowly close, much more slowly than the original doors. I suggest double the time. As Yarra Trams admits, we have the slowest tram system in the world, and it's making a great effort to make it even slower. 

Then there is the standard of driving. Let me think. I've used trams in Sydney, Gold Coast, Germany, Austria, Amsterdam, Lisbon, Manchester, Budapest and Toronto and I found the standard of driving excellent in every city. Not so in Melbourne. The standard is erratic and sometimes just dreadful. I suppose about one third of our tram drivers are women and generally they seem are better to me, but not always.  

I've already bored you to tears if you read all of this, but in conclusion the current operator of Yarra Trams has failed and the about to be renewed contract should not be in favour of the current operator.

Bumping another car

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