January Calendar shopping – some good ones left if you hunt around a bit

It’s about this time of year that I often go calendar shopping.

I generally like to have a calendar hanging in the kitchen, and another in the toilet.

Sometimes I’ll get given them at Christmas, of course — for last year I was given two excellent ones — the Melbourne Train Station calendar, and another of old London travel posters.

They’ve been great, but with the new year, I now have to say goodbye to them.

Able & Game: Melbourne train station calendar 2013London travel poster calendar 2013

This year, alas, I was given none.

And sometimes I’ll have the Leunig calendar from The Age. But these days they don’t just give it to you for free with the paper in early December — no. With mainstream media scrounging for revenue, they make you traipse down to the newsagent and give them a few extra dollars for it. Which I didn’t do.

I reckon when buying calendars for yourself, it’s better to go shopping after Christmas, when they’re discounted. Sure, the later you leave it, the more the risk you’ll have to hunt around to find anything good, but at least you won’t be paying $20 or $25 for the equivalent of a 12-page book.

Calendar discounts

So, at Chadstone on Tuesday I found the newsagent had some for half price. Others, including one on street art, had been marked down from $20 to $13, then to half of that. $6.50. Sold.

Then yesterday we were at Southland. There was a calendar shop set up in one area (if one were trendy you’d call it a Pop Up Shop, but it’s been popping up there for decades at this time of year). They had everything for 40% off, and a few good ones.

But at Myer I found them for 75% off. Not many good ones in their stash, but the Monty Python one looked good. $6.25. Sold.

I guess the travel/transport theme has been abandoned for the next twelve months… maybe I’ll swing back to it next year!

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.

Merry Christmas

Thanks perhaps to a couple of big presents this year, our small aging plastic Christmas tree looks more Christmassy than usual (yay rampant consumerism!) — though a lot of the lights have stopped working, and need to be replaced.

Hope everyone’s had a good year… have a merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Christmas tree 2013

Merry Christmas

Flinders Street: Merry Christmas

I don’t care if it’s the same lot of decorations as last year — I like ‘em. They look rather good at night.

And you know what? Their location helps cement Flinders Street Station’s cultural importance to our city — perhaps never moreso than now, with public transport patronage increasing, and rail patronage in particular hitting record highs.

We had our family Christmas lunch early — on Saturday — because a bunch of us won’t be in town on Christmas day.

Hope all the readers of my blog have a very Merry Christmas.

Pics from last week

You can tell I don’t have a good blog post ready to go when I post a bunch of pictures. Here’s a few from last week (that you may have seen if you follow me on Twitter).

Mer Chri! — This was on Thursday night — by Friday they’d put up the other letters. Below the picture they’d put in supports earlier in the week — you can see the full set in this picture from last year. They must keep all the letters in a depot somewhere for the rest of the year.
Mer Chri!

Preparing to bring Thursday night’s train chaos into your livingroom — this is Andrew Lund from Channel 9, wired-up and about to report live from Flinders Street Station
It's @andrew_lund hard at work, bringing tonight's chaos to you at home.

The robots are coming! — Alan Kohler always likes a one-liner in his financial graphs.
Eek! @AlanKohler says the robots are coming!

Jack’s having a rest — Jack knows in an open paddock, sometimes the only shade is underneath the ute. Meanwhile, I had to continually pick grass seeds off my socks.
Jack

Christmas pics

Here’s a pic of some fools taking a shopping trolley on the escalator at Highpoint, where Marita and I managed to do a surgical strike for last-minute presents, and be back on the tram to her place within 30 minutes, before it got stupidly busy this morning.
IMAG1407a

Here’s some wrapping paper I bought last week…
Wrapping paper

…and here, with the brightness and contrast adjusted, is kinda what the wrapping paper looks like when in a darkened room. Hmmm.
Wrapping paper in the dark

And finally, here’s my experimental office Christmas photography…
Experiments in office Christmas photography

Merry Christmas, everyone.

If Myer went totally online, would the Christmas Windows turn into a web site?

Myer will close stores in Victoria and New South Wales and shrink surviving stores in response to the two-speed economy and online shopping.

Myer to close or shrink stores as retail malaise bites

Remembering that Myer Melbourne has already shrunk in size by about half, this isn’t a huge surprise. Sounds like some of the smaller stores will be closed.

Myer Christmas windows

I can’t see it happening, but I suppose if Myer went totally online, the Christmas Windows would be transitioned into a web site. Some kind of Flash animation, a Youtube clip or a Flickr slideshow?

I like shopping in person, seeing things up close, and the instant gratification of avoiding delivery times. But I also like online shopping — the flexibility of hours, the wide variety of products, and the generally better prices. This year my Christmas shopping has been a mix of both.

The Bourke Street Mall has been packed this week, especially from lunchtime onwards. It’ll be interesting to see how the retailers have gone this Christmas.