Christmas wrap-up

Christmas Day was largely spent with family, eating too much, playing with a giant cushion-like water balloon (which burst when, tragically, nobody was watching/filming) and swapping presents.

Our haul this time around included a Wii U, which should be fun, and for my own personal stash I got some great movies on Blu-ray (Help, and The World’s End), a rather nice framed original artwork, an excellent big book (The Beatles — All The Songs — great for dipping into and reading about the origins of their songs, something which has interested me greatly recently), and a voucher for MTC theatre tickets.

I was pondering if the video game console manufacturers beef up their online servers at Christmas to handle millions of consoles needing software updates, and lots of people signing up for the first time. Perhaps they don’t beef them up enough — Nintendo had problems over the Christmas period, and had to partially shut down their eShop service.

It wasn’t all good news in our house, either: our Christmas tree fell over on Christmas Day, and will need replacing. We already knew the lights were going to need replacing. Maybe they can be procured at a discount during the post-Christmas sales period?
Christmas tree fallen over

After Christmas festivities were over for the afternoon, I went on a PT joyride. Services were free, and unlike the UK where virtually the whole system shuts down, runs a normal Sunday timetable. There were quite a few people touching-on/off their Myki cards — hopefully they were charged nothing, as advertised… obviously not advertised widely enough. But wouldn’t it be good customer service to open all the fare gates? Most at Caulfield were closed.
Christmas Day at Caulfield station
(Of course, the biggest problem preventing more people using the system on Christmas Day is lack of services. Trains and trams were okay, but with most buses only hourly, it’s very self-limiting, even with free rides.)

On Boxing Day I went farming, where I helped to count sheep, and didn’t fall asleep once.
Sheep

I also learnt to speak sheep. “Baaaaaaaa!” (Thanks Kate for the photo.)
Daniel tries speaking sheep. "Baaaa!"

I also managed to bang one of my toes on a metal chair leg, leaving me with a big bruise and pain when I walked, until both thankfully faded away about a day later. Here’s the bruise in its small, early stages. Scary colour to see on one of your toes.
Toe bruise

In Euroa we spotted this Stump People Nativity scene — very rural!
Stump people nativity scene, Euroa

Saw the second Hobbit movie on Saturday. Very good. Watched it in Gold Class at Southland — parked by the non-existent railway station.
Parked at Southland, next to the railway station

Hope you all had a good Christmas.

Deliveries

Definitely in the category of First World Problems

When you order something online…

…and you get it sent to home rather than work because it’s a bit bulky…

…and you aren’t home when they try to deliver it…

…and they don’t take it to a Licenced Post Office which is open on weekends…

…and they don’t take it to a regular Post Office with a pre-9am pickup window

Instead they take it to another post office which isn’t too far away, but only operates 9 to 5 on weekdays. When I’m at work.

How do they expect me to pick it up?

Thankfully it wasn’t sent to some courier depot somewhere, and I was able to get the kids to pick it up for me, but it makes me think that if it’s known that online orders and packages are a big part of the future of the post office and of courier companies, they need to put a little more thought into this.

No wonder one company has launched parcel lockers you can install at home to replace your mail box, with built in smarts to send you a text message when a parcel arrives, though at $329 or more, I can’t see myself getting one any time soon. Perhaps a cheaper, lower-tech version is needed?

The new Melbourne GPO – not as appealing as the old one, but perhaps more useful

The Melbourne General Post Office was built in the 1860s, and served as GPO until 2001. Nowadays it’s a shopping centre.

Untitled

Australia Post moved its retail operations a little north, to the other side of Little Bourke Street, with a big (but no doubt cheaper to run) Post Shop.

Now that too has closed, in favour of a new one a little further north again, on the corner of Lonsdale Street. I assume it’s still under construction — at least, it looks that way.

Australia Post Shop, Elizabeth Street

Inside the most interesting thing of note is the self-service checkouts and vending machines.

There are still humans serving, in what appears to be a similar fashion to other post offices. But PostPaks, stamps and other products can be bought via the machines.

This, at last, means you can buy postal products without having to queue behind dozens of people wanting to buy gifts and pay bills (something I only ever do online these days).

And a bonus: the frontmost section is open 24/7. It’s got parcel pickup lockers, and snack-style vending machines. If you’re ever in the vicinity and in urgent need of a 10-pack of stamps late at night, you’re in luck.

Australia Post vending machine

Supermarket fruit+veg bags – all the way from the USA #FoodMiles

Anybody who likes to minimise their food miles might like to note this… increasing numbers of Woolworths supermarkets are using bags for fruit and vegetables that are made in the USA.

Fruit and vegetable bags at Woolworths

That’s not to say other supermarket bags aren’t also imported from a long way away. As far as I’ve noticed, the Woolworths ones are the only ones that say so.

It’s a similar story when buying cling wrap — almost all brands seem to be made in China nowaways.

The bags shown above aren’t heavy or bulky, of course, but a chain like Woolworths must go through millions of them every year. It all adds up.

Personally, if I’m buying only about three or less of each item, provided they’re not small, I don’t usually bother to put them in a bag at all.

Why is Metro allowing this advertising in its stations? – part 2 – Kia #comfortisethis

A couple of years ago I wrote about Nissan Micra ads at Flinders Street Station directly criticising public transport.

This time, it’s Kia’s turn, though it’s a little less overt. Spotted at Malvern (as well as other locations, such as South Yarra):

Kia advertising at Malvern station

You know, I’ve been using public transport for decades. I’ve seen people asleep, but I’ve never, ever had someone fall asleep on my shoulder. Does it really happen, or is it just a cliché?

Kia advertising at Malvern station

I suppose this is not necessarily poking fun at walking as a form of transport, but it could be read that way.

It does strike me that getting a plastic bag caught on your heel may be an “uncomfortable moment”, but on the other hand, research indicates that driving in unsuitable shoes such as these is just plain dangerous:

Adrienne Savoy, a driving instructor for DriversEd.com, said the higher the heel, the more a person is in danger.

“When you’re wearing high heels, it’s nearly impossible for the heel to stay steady on top of the mat, which would delay the reaction time between the accelerator and the brake. Sometimes you only have a second to react, so that could be a split second you have to prevent a crash,” she said.

Even for those of us who never wear heels, we know that travelling by public transport is an order of magnitude safer than driving.

I think I’d rather be uncomfortable than unsafe.