Spam-flavoured macadamias

My kids were in Hawaii over Christmas with their mum for a family get together.

They looked for something uniquely Hawaiian to bring me back, and settled on this.

Spam-flavoured macadamia nuts

I love getting a souvenir that is truly unique to a place.

It’s just as is labelled on the can. They’re macadamias, but they’re spam-flavoured.

Who knew?


Getting rid of old TVs

Seems like half of Melbourne has got a new flat screen TV or computer monitor, judging from the number of CRTs left around the streets.

In my view, you shouldn’t just dump them on the nature strip.

Televisions on the nature strip

Assuming it’s working, ask around to see if a charity somewhere wants it. Or list it on Freecycle so someone who wants one can come and get it.

If as a last resort it goes onto the nature strip (and of course you should attach the remote and any other accessories to it in a bag), and nobody’s taken it within a few days, don’t just leave it to get rain-damaged and litter up the street. Get it taken away — in a lot of council areas (including here in Glen Eira), you can request hard rubbish collection on-demand, for free.

music Retrospectives TV

Butterfly ball (Love is all)

My recollection is this clip used to pop up on the ABC when they had five minutes to fill.

Nowadays they’d probably just run a bunch of promos and adverts for the ABC Shop.

The song is actually called “Love Is All”, from The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast.

I can’t make it along, but I believe Clare and Fahad’s wedding this weekend will use the music during the service — they were looking for some cheery music for the recessional. Very catchy. Almost appallingly catchy. Hope the wedding goes well guys, congratulations!


The last Metcard

My last MetcardI was an early adopter of Myki, if only to see the problems it’s had first hand.

But since I started using it, I’ve still carried a Metcard in my wallet. The last Metcard. A 10×2 hour zone 2, for my occasional forays into zone 2 — used on days I was only going into zone 2, and only for weekdays (since on weekends there are other, cheaper fares). And with a Barbie design on it.

Edit: Inspection of the card shows it was bought and first used in July 2009.

A few weeks ago I had got down to the last of the ten fares on the card. On Monday I used the last — ironically to go to Vicroads to get my new driver’s licence.

And that, assuming that Myki doesn’t get scrapped and the Metcard system is pulled back from the brink of oblivion, was my last Metcard.

I had intended to film the validation on the trip back, made with the same ticket, but was chatting to an Irish bloke who was trying to get from Vicroads in South Oakleigh to Murrumbeena Station. Poor bloke… a two-bus trip with a terrible connection (which he just missed), and costing him two zones.

And alas the video above doesn’t quite show the full validation process clearly. But it is evident that it takes about two seconds (and regulars will know it sometimes takes a bit more while the machine thinks about it before spitting the card out). Contrast this to (typically, when it’s running well nowadays) about a second for a Myki touch — though it can sometimes be much slower.

(Thanks to a poster on Whirlpool for the idea of marking this occasion.)


Aussie Aussie Aussie

Go on then, name me something more Aussie than kangaroo sausages on the barbecue?

Kangaroo sausages on the barbecue

To be honest I haven’t previously been that keen on the kanga bangers when grilled or fried. But BBQ makes everything taste better… right?

Update 4pm. Amusingly given Tony’s comment, I flipped on the TV while I was eating and found Skippy on Gem. The snags were more enjoyable barbecued, though still not my favourite. A shame, since they’re so much healthier (eg virtually zero fat, compared to beef which are 20%+ fat).

Mind you, Macro Meats could do with someone to do a little checking of their packaging. Rogue apostrophes in this day and age.


Double awesome!

Damn! Double the awesomeness, and I missed it.

Advertising garage sale

Seems like specifying the suburb name was an afterthought… and I wonder if there was a re-scheduling.



It appears I was the first person to successfully use the Myki vending machine at Bentleigh station, back on the first of last year. Hardly surprising as few people in Melbourne had a card at that point.

Myki receipts

And this afternoon I got Sales Transaction ID number 3370, when I dumped a bunch of change onto my card.

Note the chopped-off Myki logo on today’s receipt — it’s not an error scanning it, but some kind of printing/alignment error. Incidentally today’s receipt is on a thicker form of thermal paper than that used originally. Fascinating, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Back then, as now, if you perform an EFTPOS/credit card transaction, if you say you don’t want a receipt, it’ll issue one. If you say you do want a receipt, it’ll issue two. Masterful.


Cheese slices

Kath Lockett found some old adverts, including this one:


We sometimes had these cheese slices when I was a kid.

It must have been my early computer-geek (binary) mind at work, but I would eat them by folding them in half, so one half broke off, eating that, then repeating with the half that was left… until the bit left in my hand was so microscopic it couldn’t be folded in half any more.

Was that just me?

I think eventually everybody figured out that the processed cheese was really not that healthy compared to other snacks.


New timetables in May

Train map tea towelA few details have come out about the next lot of Metro train timetables, and there’s some big changes for some lines, as the process of completely re-writing them continues.

Here is a summary based on some notes I saw the other day, and my initial thoughts. My assumption is these notes apply on weekdays only. If there are queries, leave a comment, but note that the full timetables have not yet been made available, and any incorrect information here is probably caused by my misinterpretation as I summarised.

Timing adjustments to reflect current timings; trips up to 3 mins longer (eg Frankston line)

Hmm, perhaps there really is no end in sight to the Siemens brake issue, which means speed restrictions approaching stations with a level crossing. I’m also told the Comeng trains can’t keep up with the timetable in peak hours due to heavy loads. Maybe us passengers need to go on diets.

Big changes to (most of) the Northern Group will wait for Sunbury electrification (expected 2012). Changes for Clifton Hill will wait for South Morang (expected late 2012).

Fair enough, that makes sense, particularly as South Morang includes a bunch of other upgrades to make both Clifton Hill lines run better.

Frankston — current peak pattern to be extended for longer. Off-peak all trains will run direct to Flinders St/Sthn Cross. Minor infrastructure changes to improve things eg Frankston platform extension to cater for terminating trains from City and Stony Point simultaneously

Extending the peak pattern makes sense. At the moment they have this neat pattern which (to the observer) appears quite efficient and consistent, but varies and disappears during the peak shoulder period. Off-peak all running direct to Flinders St — well, people will need to get used to that, but at least the confusing half-and-half pattern now will be made more consistent. It would help if the Dandenong line was a matching 10-minute frequency, so plenty of loop trains were available, but the notes don’t say if that’s happening. Which I’m guessing means it’s not.

Werribee – complete re-write of the timetable. Trains from Werribee every 11 mins in peak, running direct Laverton to Newport (allowing 3 more trains in peak). Laverton to City via Altona Loop trains every 22 mins in peak. Williamstown to City every 22 mins in peak.

Aye carumba! Re-write for consistency is good. More frequent trains from Werribee is good (the current 4-20 minute gaps are bound to lead to overcrowding on some trains), and all running via the direct line is good.

But trains for Altona/Westona and Williamstown every 22 minutes in peak? Seriously? A long wait between trains, and how’s anybody meant to remember that timetable? Is that the best they could do, after spending $92.6 million on the Laverton rail upgrade? Obviously it’s linked to the Werribee trains running every 11 minutes, but surely they could have tweaked/upgraded the signalling to make it an even 20/10 minutes.

Werribee off-peak: no loop (all direct, then to Frankston). Werribee to Laverton reduced to every 20 mins, all express via direct line. Laverton to Newport via Altona Loop shuttle every 20 mins. Williamstown – off-peak trains every 20 mins all the way to Flinders St (eg combined with Werribee, every 10 mins Newport to City)

OK. The Altona/Westona people aren’t going to like it, but it does make sense for their trains to be the shuttles instead of Williamstown, because Williamstown has double-track, so delays are less likely to cascade. This also fixes the inconsistent 4-16 minute gaps in off-peak now between Newport and the City.

But halving frequencies between Laverton and Werribee? Why on earth did they give them 10ish minute frequencies in 2009, if only to take them away again? And what happened to the idea of the whole network having frequent services all day? I know operationally it’s a little difficult at Newport, but I suppose I’m surprised they’re back-pedalling on this.

Sandringham – fully separated from Caulfield loop. Services upped to every 8 mins in peak


Ringwood, Blackburn, Box Hill stopper trains to run to City Loop in AM. Additional Blackburn to City services during off-peak (implied to be full interpeak). PM will run direct from Flinders St

Alamein to run to City Loop in AM; direct from FSS in PM. Implied to be some extra off-peak services (into city), but not certain.

Glen Waverley to run direct to FSS in AM; around loop in PM. Frequency upgraded to average 7.5 mins.

Okay, I see what they’re doing here. Ringwood line stoppers and Alameins will use the loop in the morning, but not in the afternoon. Glen Waverley will use the loop in the afternoon, but not in the morning. Arguably this means all those passengers will be treated equally, each having to change trains once a day, but of course it’s confusing, and this kind of change will probably mean everybody’s unhappy…

I’m told it’s apparently being done to get around issues with Metrol, involving the handover between two controllers as trains move between sectors, which can cause delays. Another case of a weakness in the infrastructure?

Will it work?

So why are they doing all this? To better fit the extra services possible with the bigger fleet, and even out loads, and improve reliability. All admirable goals. The question will be whether or not it works.

And the complexity for passengers — some dealing with odd frequencies like every 22 minutes, and some will need to change trains on the way to work but not the way home, or vice versa — surely will lead to some confusion.



Spotted around the RACV centre in Bourke Street…

I’m not sure what these things are called. They’re from the days before traffic lights — before my time. The only problem with these ones is that two directions are getting a green signal at once, which would result in a crash.
Traffic, RACV centre

This street sign looks a little different. Ah, you see the footnote on it? “Private lane”. Presumably this is because it leads only to the RACV’s carpark, and is on RACV property. But it may have legal implications as well — at a conventional street corner, traffic coming into the side street needs to give way to pedestrians crossing it, but coming out doesn’t. I reckon if it’s a private lane, then like at a car park entrance, traffic needs to give way in both directions.
Private lane, RACV centre