Train Etiquette

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

On their website, Cityrail lists the following travel tips:
  • Arrive at your station a few minutes earlier than your timetabled service to allow sufficient time to board your train.
  • Keep to the left on stairs, escalators and ramps and take care.
  • Spread out along the platform so as not to overcrowd one carriage.
  • Take care on steps and platforms, and always stand behind the yellow line.
  • Stand aside to allow passengers to alight first before boarding the train.
  • Beware of the gap between the platform and train, hold small children's hands.
  • If you are travelling with a pram, travel near the guard's compartment.
  • Board the train as quickly as possible and move inside the carriage to allow others to board behind you.
  • Do not obstruct the doorways.
  • Vacate priority seating for elderly or less mobile passengers.
  • Please do not sit on steps or put feet on seats.
  • Do not hold the doors open or attempt to board the train after the whistle and 'doors closing' warning has been given, this will allow the train to depart punctually.
  • Please assist in keeping your stations and trains clean by taking rubbish with you or placing it in the station bins provided. Thank you.
If only every passenger followed these suggestions, what a wonderful world it would be. But we all know things just don't work like that. And then there are all the train rules CityRail don't mention - and which I don't always understand. For instance, I did the vast majority of my formative public transportation on buses. On the bus, it's generally the done thing that if you're sitting next to a stranger and a spare seat opens up, you move. It's not so on the train. There are few things quite so disconcerting as to be in a near-empty train carriage and have a fat person next to you, squashing you into a corner. (Hey, lard ass, even the tiny bit of exercise involved in switching seats will help, hmm?)

This is as nothing, however, as wondering when you should move to make room for someone when you're the second person on a three-seater. Do you do it as you notice passengers boarding the train? As they fill the carriage? Wait till asked, and would that be rude? There's no easy answer for awkward people like me; as you panic "Oh God, what if I make room, and no one wants to sit next to me? I bet the rest of the carriage is thinking 'Look at that loser, no one even wants to sit next to her'". When I'm in this situation, I may look to the casual obersver as though I am engrossed in my book, whilst in reality I'm worrying about any potential move. Like a chess player I think three moves ahead: Can I make it look casual? Should I put my bag on my lap now to save embarrassment later? Should I go on the offensive and pretend to have a bad cough? Depressing.

Then there are the people who don't stand up when you want to get past them and get out. My tactic? I always make sure to stand on their feet.

Still, I could live with that as long as every passenger agreed to shower daily and wear deodorant, cover their mouths when yawning, keep their elbows to their sides, and not talk to lone females when drunk. Not too much to ask.

EDIT: The good folk at Club Troppo have been kind enough to link to this post, and Gilmae made the observation that he'd like to add "Shut Up" to the list of rules, but doesn't want to appear petty. I say, I've referred to people as "lard ass" - telling them to shut up is not petty at all.


Apparently, this is our 600th post. Not to make a big deal of it or anything, but if you want to send presents, who am I to spoil your fun? Here's a few hints, but no pressure. (Can I just say, if you can't afford to actually go shopping, putting together a Froogle wishlist is the next best thing?)

Going Down In Public

Friday, 22 February 2008

If there was a song lyric that sums up the fortunes of the ALP at the moment, it would be "Every time I rise, I see you falling". Just as things are going so well for Labor federally, here in NSW the Iemma government is going down in flames.

I didn't pay too much attention when it was just the Telegraph bleating about a corruption scandal - they're always sticking it to Iemma. But when the SMH got involved, I knew it was serious.

The incompetence of the current NSW government is a long running joke. I could list the examples, but I think what really sums it all up is - just how does a Government spend $95 million dollars and eight years on an integrated ticketing system - and then end up scrapping the whole thing at the end of it all? Myself and a few of my friends could do a better job of running the state (and yes, I am taking into account how much some of us like to drink).

This time though, things are serious - incompetence we can live with. But whilst sex corruption scandals are all very interesting, it's not what we want from those running the state. It is a little hard to make out exactly what's going on - something to do with jobs for mates, sexual harrassment, and bribes apparently; this article explains it better than I could attempt.

It's hard to tell right now where all this will end up. According to various media reports, up to five State government ministers are now under investigation by ICAC. Even if everyone is cleared, the people of NSW have completely lost confidence in the State government. But as I've said before, we elected them over the Liberals, because our faith in them was even less.

Maybe someone should put my friends and I in charge of the state, untested, inexperienced and unelected as we may be. It's as viable an option as anything else on offer right now.

Watch Your Head

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Kevin Rudd could be forgiven these days if he lept out of bed each morning and woke his family with a loud (and no doubt embarrassing) rendition of "I'm On The Top Of The World". Since winning the election, he's been on the up and up: ratifying Kyoto, saying sorry, proving what a friend we are to East Timor...and now he's the most popular PM for twenty years.

Plus there's the delight of watching what's left of the Liberal party rip each other to pieces on Four Corners last night. (I particularly liked Peter Costello's mention of the "open and frank discussion" he had with John Howard, after the latter reneged on his promise and decided to stay on as PM after his 64th birthday. I'm sure it was; who doesn't have a few "open and frank" discussions they'd like to have?).

Anyway, my concern is this all going to Rudd's head. Sure, he's entitled to feel a little smug and satisfied, but if it goes any further than that, turning into arrogance, meglomania, and a refusal to listen to the wishes of the electorate...well, we had twelve years of that already.


(From today's Crikey)

"Most cabinet ministers in the former Howard government did not realise that workers could be worse off under Work Choices, former workplace relations minister Joe Hockey says."

Other things the Howard Cabinet didn't understand:

That innocent people might die if we helped invade Iraq.

That putting asylum seekers in high security detention could be construed as harsh and inhuman treatment.

That the Australian Wheat Board was giving lots of money to Saddam Hussein.

That there would never, ever, be a GST.

That we could say sorry to black people.

That the Australian flag was not a party political symbol.

That climate change was a bit of a worry really and quite possibly our fault.

That Don Bradman couldn't help.

The Sex and Violence Post

Friday, 15 February 2008

It's one if the most annoying facets of my life that every product I like is discontinued. But this latest is the cruellest blow yet: Polaroid has announced it is ceasing production of it's instant camera film.

When and if I moved back to Newcastle, one of the things I was most looking forward to was getting out and about with my Joycam again, snapping this and that. But that's not the worst of it. I want to know: how am I supposed to make home-made porn now? Oh, I know I could switch to digital, but I'm an old-fashioned lady at heart; a purist, if you will. Apparently the film should still be available for the next year or so, so I'll be stocking up while I can.


It's been a bad week for travelling via CityRail. Twice this week I've gotten home after 7pm because of delays involving grass fires and ill passengers which have sent the whole network into a tumult. I'm not going down the road of blaming Morris Iemma though - we voted him back in, testament to the fact that the other lot is even worse!

I do bring some of the problems with CityRail on myself though. I can never remember to buy a weekly ticket, so I end up missing three trains whilst I wait in the queue behind Vietnamese tourists trying to stick their dongs in the ticket machine.


Yet another example of misuse of the word literally...last night on The Biggest Loser, Shannan, trainer of the blue team, announced that he was "literally gutted" upon learning he wouldn't be allowed to train his team this week. Then again, I don't know - maybe he was gutted but they couldn't show it in a 7pm timeslot. Maybe they could run The Biggest Loser - Adults Only to display these moments?

Oh Happy Day

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Today is a grand day for the nation. For the first time in almost twelve years, Labor are sitting on the Government side of Parliament. Costello is on the opposition backbench, and Howard is nowhere to be seen. (If, due to your political opinions, you're not happy about this, then just be happy that for the first time in months, the politicians are showing up for work. You people hate politicians, after all, unless they're giving you tax cuts and middle class welfare).

The first day of Parliament is an exciting day for us all. For political wonks, it's like the season premiere of your favourite show. But it must be exceptionally gratifying for all the first time MPs filling the Government backbenches. I'm sure the Liberals, in a gesture of good faith, could allow some of their more seasoned members to dispense device to the new Government. Tony Abbot could pass on his people skills, Peter Costello could give tips on striking while the iron is hot, and Howard could give a lecture on how to go out on top.

Or not. Anyway, I'm sure there are some things they are really sorry about.

Spoiled For Choice

Friday, 8 February 2008

What a week it's been. We've had an interest rate rise, the fuss over how to say Sorry, flooding rains, Super Tuesday, US tornadoes, and of course - most tragically - the Spice Girls cancelling the Australian leg of their tour.

And I meant to blog about it all, I really did. The interest rate thing, for instance - it was amusing for the Opposition to claim that with the economy the Government has one foot on the accelerator, and one foot on the brake; considering that when they were the government, the Liberals had one foot (Costello's) draped casually over the dashboard and another (Howard's) in the grave.

Events on the work front rather got away from me though. I've been put on a Project, and we all know what that means. (That I should start looking for another job). Now that it's nearly the weekend, I have a little more time, but no one wants to think about the serious things now. It's the weekend! It's time to have fun.

The thing with living in the city, especially if like me, it's not where you're originally from, is that there's so many things you think you should be doing on the weekend. You know that, somewhere out there, people are going to the theatre, museums, galleries, festivals, restaurants, markets...and you feel like you should be doing it too. The problem is that there's too much choice, and it gets overwhelming; you take the easy option, until you realise this is the fourth Saturday in a row you've spent a beautiful afternoon inside with the blinds closed, watching European football whilst wearing a
t-shirt and underpants and sipping cheap iced vodka from a mug.

I mean to become a cultured organism, I really do. This year I excitedly perused the program for the Sydney Festival, and planned a long list of shows and exhibits I would attend; trouble was every time push came to shove, I was broke, or it was raining, or the cheap vodka was making me feel rather ill. So I missed the whole thing, and since I doubt I'll be living in Sydney this time next year, I won't get another chance.

Determined not to repeat my mistake, I've got another long list of things to do this weekend; there's a lot on, what with Chinese New Year and all. But my flat needs cleaning and airing, Xander's cranky I'm not spending enough time with him, and we're coming up to the UEFA Quarter finals, after all...

2008 On TV - Some Reviews and Stuff

Friday, 1 February 2008

As you may have gathered by now, I adore, love and worship at the altar of TV. It wasn't always so. I was basically not allowed to watch TV on schoolnights, then in my late teens and early twenties I went through that awful "TV is dumb and I don't watch it" stage (also I was too poor to afford one for many of those years).

All that is behind me now. Rating season is about to begin in Australia, and with it a crop of new shows. Incidentally, I've never quite understood the concept of "ratings season", in terms of TV networks playing re-run crud over the summer. Surely it would make more sense to play the good stuff when people are off work and school, having more time to watch? The ratings are low because there's nothing good to watch, not the other way around. I digress...

Being at the forefront of investigative journalism and social commentary, I've been given an exclusive sneak peak at the first episodes of two of the shows starting on Australian TV this year - Back To You and Rules Of Engagement (okay, they were on a DVD which came free with Sunday's paper).

Back To You sounded promising. It's written and directed by Steve Levitan, creator of Just Shoot Me (one of my favourites). It stars Patricia Heaton, who was great in Everybody Loves Raymond, and Kelsey Grammar, star of Frasier (which I've never actually watched, as I heard a rumour that Grammar is a Bush supporter).

The show tells the story of a TV news anchorman (Grammar) who returns to the small-city TV station he left ten years before...and the co-host (Heaton) who remained in the job the whole time. There's some bad blood between them - not suprisingly, as it turns out (spoiler) that they have a daughter together, the result of a one-night stand ten years ago, whom the anchorman was unaware of for all these years. It was okay. It was fine, really. It may even develop into quite a funny show - but not a brilliant one. There's nothing innovative or especially clever about it. The pacing and tone will be familiar to Shoot Me fans - reinforcing the sense that this is nothing we haven't seen before.

Rules Of Engagement was even worse. Ostensibly the tale of a long-married couple, an about-to-be-married couple who live in the same apartment block, and their single semi-sleazy friend, the jokes were bland, the cliches were heavy, and just how many shows will toss David Spade into the cast to give the thing an "edge"? (Not withstanding Just Shoot Me - it was all right the first time). I won't be bothering with it again, and now you won't have to either.

American readers may be thinking to themselves "but these shows are a year old, and neither of them were much good". That's what we get on TV in Australia - the networks fill their schedules which shows which didn't do so well in the U.S., because they're cheap (and what with the writer's strike, it's only going to get worse). Or else we have SBS and the ABC showing British shows (The Vicar of Dibley, Skins) over a year after their original U.K. airing.

Of course, there's always home-grown local content to enjoy. And I hope you like reality TV, because reality TV is what you're getting. This year, we have... A Year With The Royals, The Biggest Loser, Saving Kids, So You Think You Can Dance Australia, It Takes Two, Dancing With The Stars, The Chopping Block...and, it hardly needs saying, Big Brother and Australian Idol.

At least DVDs are cheap these days.
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