Sunday, June 15

Sydney train ticket machines suck!


Ok, maybe it's because I'm coming from Tokyo with the world's best train system, but Sydney ticket machines for trains are just plain horrible. Archaic is what they are, even the soda vending machines are smarter! But I should have expected this after finding out that CityRail was found to be the worse run railway in world!

What's wrong with them you ask? Don't get me started! A short list of the horrors these machines have:

  • Wonder why the machines are so big? No touch screen! Every station has it's own button on the machine (see picture above). Can you imagine if the railway had hundreds of stations, the machine would be the size of a truck!
  • They only accept up to nine coins! Why in God's name does a machine care how many coins you put in it? If the ticket costs $1.00 and all you have are 10 cent coins, too bad, no ticket!
  • They don't reuse the coins they get to make change! Even regular vending machines can do this. You don't know how many time I have put a $5 dollar bill in the machine only to have it spit out again because the machine is out of change. Machines can run out of change, this I understand. But if the machine is out of change and then someone buys a ticket with exact change, the vending machine should no longer be out of change right? You would expect it to start using the changing it just received, right? But not here! The machine needs to wait for someone to come and manually refill it. Duh-um!

The Dynamo of Volition - Jason Mraz


Was watching TV one weekend and while flipping channels I stumbled on this music video channel. They had a guy on playing an acoustic version of his song. I liked it so much that I spent a good while trying to find who this guy is, the song and a copy of the video.

Be patient with the video, it takes a minute before he starts singing. The music is good but it's the singing style, very staccato and syncopated, that god me. The lyrics are also pretty cool in an almost-makes-sense-'til-you-read-them kind of way.

Jason Mraz
- The Dynamo of Volition from the album We Eat. We Dance. We Steal Things.

If you want to get a copy of his album you can try this torrent.

Soft serve ice cream - Burger King wins!

At the train station near my office there is a McDonald's and Burger King (actually a called Hungry Jack's in Australia but that's a topic for a future post). I used to love soft serve ice-cream cones in Japan (called soft-cream [sofutokuriimu]) but it wasn't easy to find as most McDonald' restaurants there don't serve it. The only McDonald's I remember having it is the one in Shibuya near Tower Records.

So I was surprised when I had my first McDonald's cone here to find out that it wasn't very good and nothing at all like I remembered the cones in Japan to be! The ice cream was more like frozen yogurt. It melted more quickly, the taste was more watery and definitely not as creamy. I thought this might be because Australians were more health conscious? Frozen yogurt is better than ice cream right?

Well, the taste difference has nothing to do with healthier eating. At Hungry Jacks they also have soft serve ice cream cones and they are fabulous! Incredibly creamy and with a great buttery vanilla taste. If you ever feel the need for a cone, skip McDonald's and go straight to Hungry Jacks, the cones there are by far the best. You can even get your cone dipped in chocolate but skip that, it costs more and doesn't add much. The ice cream is where it's at.

Saturday, June 14

Canada on the Front Page!

Opened Wikipedia this morning and what did I see?? The featured article of the was a big, bright, red and white flag! Yup, the article is about Canada's flag, the Maple Leaf or l'Unifolié in French (rough translation 'the unileafed'). Woo-hoo!

Just had to point it out!

Salsa



Started taking salsa lessons again. After last weekend when I went dancing salsa with five incredible Japanese girls, all excellent dancers, I decided it would be a good time to start lessons again. One of the guys I met there suggested Salsa Vibes so I started there on Thursday.

I had taken lessons for about six months back in Tokyo two years ago but stopped because I wasn't getting very good very fast. The main reason for this being that I was going to lessons once a week but not getting any practice in besides the lessons and about an hour of practice afterwards. In case you don't know this, it's about three times as hard for a guy to get good at salsa than for a woman. The main reason salsa it's hard for a guy is that they need to lead (a lot!), whereas the woman just needs to follow. And leading isn't half as easy as you might think.

The biggest reason in my case though was a lack of practice. I did try to go to some salsa bars to get some practice in but .... The thing is that most people at salsa bars are already pretty good dancers! So trying to get a woman to dance with a beginner just doing the basic steps is hard. And it's intimidating to ask a woman to dance when you can obviously tell that they are better than you are. I-t-i-m-i-d-a-t-i-n-g ... really tough.

So the only way to get over that is for me to take more lessons and get good!

Tuesday, June 10

Sex And The City

OK, call me girlie for having gone to see this movie if you will. But having been a fan of the TV series (I rented and watched all 6 seasons on DVD when I was in Japan) I had to go see the movie to see how series ends; I had an itch to see the dénouement if you will. Sex and the City was not necessarily a great TV series but it did have its share of good episodes. But for me the best thing it was that it was a great way to get a conversation going about relationships and sex with my girlfriend at the time.

An episode of SATC could let you start a discussion about a lot of interesting topics that might otherwise be a bit awkward. And since at the time I was dating a Japanese woman (I was in Tokyo after all!), this was the perfect mechanism for talking about a host of topics.

Now, as for the movie, I liked it very much; I give it four our of five stars. Not only did it continue the television series perfectly, it also had all the characters exactly where you would expect them to be in their lives. But more importantly the situations presented in the movie, cheating on a spouse, fear of commitment and feeling trapped because of commitment were all issues I could relate with. And each of these was presented in a real an believable way.

I'd love to go into more details but then I'd be giving too much of the movie away! I laughed, I cried (OK only sniffled), and I felt this was the first movie in a long time I was happy to spend money on. I know that's not saying much considering the crap in theaters these days but still ... Now if only I had gone to see it with someone I could talk about it with afterwards!

Speaking of which ... I went to see this movie with five pretty hot Japanese women. Go figure!