Sunday, May 22, 2016

Get Lost

I have a confession. I am geographically challenged. I could get lost inside a paper bag, I say could because I would probably struggle to locate the paper bag in the first place.

Even in places that are very familiar to me, like a shopping mall. I can be walking a long, enter a shop and then when I come out have no idea which direction I was previously travelling. No idea at all. I can walk over 100m before something kicks in for me and I have that vague feeling I am backtracking.

My sense of direction is like Google Maps during an electrical storm – it just keeps sending me off in random and often contradictory directions. Turn Left, I mean right, turn right, it is back the other way…

Often my sense of direction is a bit inside out, like my internal map is upside down. I am certain I need to turn left, when in reality it should be a right turn. This is suddenly sounding very political, and like governments I end up spending my life making U-turns.

The problem is this inside out map does not occur all of the time, just often. 60-70% tops. That leaves 30-40% when my instinct is correct. This leaves me with a conundrum. Am I right to turn left or is this a time when I admit I was wrong and actually turn right. Right? Then I start to ponder if this is just my brain trying to call my own bluff. This can be a long a exhausting mental rabbit warren to caught trapped in.

When travelling this has some positives and negatives. Let’s start with the negatives so we can finish on a high note.

I need to allow a lot more travel time in unfamiliar places to factor in firstly duration of the mental debate as to whether this is a 60% or 405 occasion. Then there is the time for the back tracking, U-turns and general wandering around dazed hoping something familiar just sort of miraculously pops up in front of me.

I can complete many circles, and unlike the Griswalds as they circle endlessly around the Lambeth Bridge roundabout in European Vacation my circles are not always in the same direction and are rarely that funny.

I can pass monuments many times from very different directions all in a sense of bewilderment that no matter what direction I set off I end up back where I started.

Then there is the sense of panic that I will never be able to find where I want to be nor will I ever be able to find my way home. Getting home is worse because I can not reverse directions. A 20 minute journey to a destination can be a 90 minute journey home

On the upside when travelling I get to see things I would not have otherwise have seen, sure I may see some off them many times. Some of these things never make the guide books or tripadvisor, so a days outing can be full of surprises. Many times these surprise findings turn out to be better than the intended destination. Every day is an adventure.

Walking down the side streets and back alleys I also discover little shops and eateries that are designed and operated purely for the benefits of the locals, they are part of the fabric of every day life. I get to see places and people as they really are not just the tourist fa├žade.

The destinations are immediately much more exciting than they otherwise would have been just thorough the sense elation and relief felt upon actually arriving.

And I get to eat more, I have to, just to keep up the energy for needed for the hours of walking, and I still lose weight. And I have calves to die for!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Simple Pleasures

With the hustle and bustle and general stress of daily life we are constantly told of ways we can unwind and detox most of which are elaborate and expensive that requires some forward planning and organising, which in turn often adds as much stress as they purportedly reduce.

Here are some of my simple pleasures that can be savoured and enjoyed for what they are

  • ·         A perfectly ripened piece of fruit, it is sweet juicy and the perfect texture, for me it is biting into a crisp apple
  • ·         On the topic of food, how good is a potato? Either mashed or fried as a chip there is something homey and satisfying
  • ·         Removing a pair of boots, real boots like work boots, ski boots or serious hiking boots, trendy hipster fashion boots do not count. The removal of the weight and the releasing of the feet from the tight confines. Aaahhhhh.
  • ·         Whilst speaking of Aaaaaah. That internal feeling immediately after having a good poo.
  • ·         A bath or shower when the water temperature is Goldilocks - just right
  • ·         Clean sheets on the bed.
  • ·         A warm towel straight out of the drier.
  • ·         A beloved pet falling asleep on your lap. Sure this is difficult if your pet is a gold fish.
  • ·         The satisfaction when after brushing your hair on those rare days when it is perfect.
  • ·         When your drink of choice is prepared exactly as you like it.
  • ·         Someone remembering your birthday without previous reminders.
  • ·         Your own pillow after time away from home.
  • ·         Putting on your favourite t-shirt
  • ·         Spending a lazy morning in your pyjamas
  • ·         Having an empty inbox because everything has been dealt with. Even if only for a moment or two
  • ·         The sound of rain  on an iron roof
  • ·         A friend unexpectedly calling or popping in just to say hi.
  • ·         Finding money that is already yours but had been misplaced and forgotten like $5 in a jacket pocket.
  • ·         Finally getting that little piece of food out from between your teeth, that piece that has driven you mad for ages.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Domestic death traps

I have noticed a new and alarming trend in OHS practices currently being implemented in Melbourne’s major shopping precincts. A practice that will make us all question our competency as ambulatory adults and raises serious concerns about the physical safety of all members of society when attending shopping centres and other public spaces that are not implementing these same measures.

Escalators are breaking down, requiring servicing or maintenance. As a result said escalators are being turned off, left stationery where they previously conveyed unassuming passengers either up or down between floors.

This is where the dangers, lurking beneath apparently rise to the surface.

Previously, when not operating, these escalators – now death traps – were still accessible by the unassuming public as a standard staircase. Despite the steps all falling within Australian standards for their height and depth, stationery escalators always feel clumsy to negotiate compared to their moving counterparts.

This was perception, when not moving an escalator does in fact become a set of visually elaborate but functionally standard set of ordinary steps.

Not any more.

Twice this month I have encountered non operating escalators, in both the Bourke Street Mall and the QV Building that were not accessible to the shopping public. In both cases not only was there a plastic barriers blocking the entrance and exit to the escalator but there was also a security officer stationed directly in front of the escalator to ensure no-one received clandestine access to the steps.

It is to be noted that in both cases the escalator steps were all in tact, there were no gaping holes and not active maintenance crews.

The steps are too dangerous for the untrained shopper. Only professional step-climbers with the appropriate certification, training and experience were going to be allowed to access these steps. 

Stationery steps are dangerous people. Rumour has it that stationery steps may cause cancer.

At QV shoppers were directed to the fire exit to ascend from the basement to the ground level. The fire exit that consists of stationery steps!

The fire exit that consists of stationery steps that are narrower, steeper and more difficult to access than the stationery steps of the escalator.

It does make me wonder which other common pieces of infrastructure which have been trusted by millions of people without major incident and therefore considered safe are actually unmitigated death traps that need to be removed immediately. I do not know what will be next but I am sure that A Current Affair/Today Tonight will soon uncover the truth and that breakfast television shows will follow up with an outside broadcast including a panel of experts providing the general public 5 basic tips for survival if they encounter such hazards: How to drink from a public bubbler without drowning.