Travel? No, unless…

Tress and I got back to Melbourne last night, a little before 9pm. We’d been to Malaysia for her dad’s 80th, which went really well.

We had started the trek back to Melbourne at 5.30am (in Malaysia) earlier yesterday. The cab was at the driveway of Tress’ parents’ home a little before 5.30am. We had woken up at 4.45am. So door-to-door, it took 15½ hours. Return trip was therefore 31 hours.

I have been ruing about overseas travels for a while now. I am starting to detest it, and I think unless I have to, my choice would be to avoid it as much as possible. Last night as I stood at the carousel at Melbourne Airport, and watch those metal plates circulating to catch and hold pieces of luggage, I wondered again, why so many love to travel overseas “for pleasure” now.

The whole process of immigration, customs, boarding checks, removing everything on you that could trigger that alarm on the sentry that causes you to spread your arms for a pat-down body search by bored border/airline personnel, all only to be allowed into a capsule with 200-300 others, confined, restrained and subject to awful announcements by the crew, and fed awful food. You are allowed to escape all that only by looking at a small screen with  bad audio, watching cut-down versions of what the airline thinks its fee paying passengers should watch. And that is when babies stop crying or their parents stop bellowing at toddlers to sit down. I can do without any of these, over a span of 31 hours, which don’t come near a comprehensive list of reasons to avoid overseas travels.

I guess the travel this past week was a “have to” type of travel, in the sense that it is the sort of travel I would be willing to make, and grin and bear the “nail scratching on blackboard” pain in the arse process hitherto described. I’d bear it because the time with family was absolutely worth it. Do it however, to view a mountain or a river, a bridge, a wall, an excavation site full of earthen figurines, or worse, visit a theme park or shopping mall, would be to me, a madness I would not voluntarily subject myself to – and don’t get me started on travelling to taste any sort of dish. I’d sooner avoid driving more than I need to for a decent feed.

Travel to “tour” (anything)? Nah… Travel to see the joy on the face of a newly minted octogenarian? Absolutely.


Quiet Australians

Tress and I went out for dinner at a Korean BBQ place in the shopping center near our home, on Friday night. It was something different and the meats were very good. It was a good way to end the working week.

Early on Saturday morning, we got up and walked to the Holbury childcare center. We’ve been here numerous times, each time to do our duty and cast a vote in a Federal or State election. A queue had already built up when we arrived a few minutes before 8am.

As we went about our day after voting, like many Australians who trusted the “expert” pollsters, we expected to have a new government after Saturday. That night, we went to St Alf’s for a jazz concert by the Christian jazz musician, Andy Vance. He was accompanied by Andy Sugg, a jazz saxophonist. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening. It made me want to take out my old Miles Davis and/or Diana Krall CD’s to listen to again. May be a great idea with winter coming…

When the evening done and as we were leaving the hall, some had scrolled through their phone and gave us a hint that of a real shock to the election outcome. When we got into the car, we turned on the radio and verified that the Coalition had, against all expectations, won.

We went home, turned on the television, and followed the elections for a bit. Going to bed late, the sense of relief settled. Life can go on, on a much more even keel, with the Coalition remaining in power. Labor had been too murky and it’s just worrying when they push airy fairy stuff, with high risk to ordinary daily lives with no perceptible returns. More importantly I guess, social issues like religious freedom will be less adversely impacted.

After St Alf’s the next day, we went to the MCG for the Hawks replacement game against the roaring Tiger home side. It was frustrating seeing the Hawks struggle again. Dusty was back in full force for the Tigers and Hawks were very soundly defeated.

As we sat on the train on the way home after the game, I browsed through the phone and the continuing buzz was all about Scott Morrison’s form busting win. A picture of him at the football (NRL – Sharks v Manly game) with a beer in hand and decked out in Sharks’ gear, was a greatly comforting one. Life can be normal, on an even keel again. He had been in church earlier that day too, which was a doubly reassuring piece of news. He hailed his supporters as “Quiet Australians”. Maybe not at the football, but I’d be a happy quiet Australian for ScoMo.

Rained on

Heavy rains were forecast for last Friday, so I asked Tress to drop me off at the station that morning, to save MyJedi from being drenched all day. At the end of that day, the rains caused some delays to the trams, so I walked to Southern Cross to catch the train home. The intermittent rains as I walked the 2km or so, didnt feel like much.

On Saturday morning, I had sweeping duties at St Alf’s and towards the end of the sweep, it rained again but as I was well protected, I kept on and finished the task and got home. Back home, I started on the work to cut back the shrubs along the driveway. They had been impeaching on and became a nuisance to, the driveway and we’ve had to so a right-and-left swing to bring our cars in without having the cars scratched too badly. As I cut those thick shrubs back and cleaned up the undergrowth as much as possible, the light showers persisted and the hot shower, after the cleanup etc., felt great. By then however, I suspected I was already picking up a cold.

That night, we had dinner with the Hipos and Jason and Mel. It was Sheanne’s birthday (she turned 9). We went to the Old Kingdom at Surrey Hills. It was always great catching up with these families. Tress and I picked up a Disney Monopoly Set (Frozen themed) for the birthday girl.

Sunday after St Alf’s we planned to get a quick lunch, a quick grocery shopping, and then head out to the MCG for the Hawks v Giants game. When we got to the Blackburn Station however, we saw that the trains would stop at Camberwell, with replacement buses to ferry us to the MCG. It was already close to first bounce and the thought of lining up for buses on the way back, coupled with a deteriorating cold, sent us back to the shops for a coffee, more grocery shopping for the week’s lunch cooks and just to chill out. At the coffee shop, I saw that the game was going to be on TV anyway, so we went home and I had the game on as I roasted some veges for the week’s lunches. The Hawks played a disciplined and focused game to shut out the Giants, and won the game by some 40 points. The Giants were 3rd on the ladder and we were well in the bottom half, so the win was terrific.

The cold deteriorated and I didn’t want my colleagues to think I was an ass, so I stayed home yesterday. I slept a bit, streamed stuff, and with the little guy next to me, it felt much better. I took him out for a long walk later that arvo. The cold was still getting to me and as I got in this morning, a sneezing spasm seized while I ascended the escalator at the Southern Cross station. That caused me to trip up, and I ended up with an Adidas-styled 3 striped graze. I got into the office, opened up the first aid kit, and washed the wound, sprayed some antiseptic spray, and bandaged up the damage.

It has been that kind of start to the week. Sick and wounded. I hope things get better from hereon in.


Crocked Hawks. Crocked Colleague

I was at home watching the Collingwood v Power game on Friday night and was in awe of the Pies’ first half performance. Ryan Burton stood out for the Powers as a calm, efficient and smart player. As I watched Hawks struggle through a terrible game of football at the G on Sat arvo, particularly with Chad Wingard having a stinker, I wondered if Hawks did the right thing with that trade swapping Burton for Wingard. Hawks were the more crappy team in a crappy game between two crappy sides. The less crappy team won and the best thing on that wet and cold arvo on Sat was the early start (1.45 start) and the meat pie. The rest was totally forgettable.

With United also playing poorly to earn a draw against the lowly (no offense) Huddersfield, it was another weekend to forget, sports wise.

We didn’t do much else for the weekend. We were on duty at St Alf’s but thankfully we are more confident now with what to do.

After St Alf’s yesterday, we went to Shoppo, which we hadn’t been to for a while. We were looking for a pair of shoes for Tress’ dad for his birthday in about three weeks or so. I had also wanted to look for a pair myself, and maybe also a daily go-to jacket. We wandered around, did some grocery shopping and then went home. I took the little fellow our for a longish walk and then went home for a cook.

It was one of those quiet minimal commitments type of weekend so I felt rested. Well, as rested as I could have felt.

Last week was a big week at work, with a senior staff being let go. He was a Malaysian and I had worked reasonably close with him, and I was even scheduled to attend a client negotiation meeting a day after his departure. He wasn’t a particularly well-liked figure around the office and I had also found him less than warm to work with but even then, his departure affected me. He has a young daughter so I’m sure she was foremost in his thinking in recent days.

Winter has started to creep in on us. It’s still officially autumn but importing a calendar based cycle to the year’s seasons always sits awkwardly here Down Under. The official season of autumn doesn’t mean much when I stand at the tram stop on the corner or Spencer and Collin Street at 6.30am, with the Docklands winds blowing in single digit temperature. The cold meh though. As is the footy season thus far (speaking as Hawks fan of course).