The Ten O’Clock Highway

I live a retired life, which means I push my nose into all sorts of places. This is fun if you time it right – and the chief requirement there is to coordinate your movements with the road traffic.

Or, to put it more accurately, without. You choose to venture when others do not – you go places they are not. The shining goal os a day is an unobstructed road ahead and no arrogant BMW driver or tradie in a tray-top pushing up behind you. In some cases it is worth seeking out a road that doesn’t even go where you want to go to so that you can enjoy the peace.

It gets harder, as our metropolitan area expands and the suburbs in-fill themselves with multiple dwellings on older blocks. Just more people on the roads. I try to use the bus and train system when I can – the attraction being free travel in air conditioning with time to rest rather than drive. However, there are places poorly-served by public transport so the car has to be wheeled out.

I’ve learned to only venture after 10:00 AM and to bring myself back home before 4:00 PM.  If the route is planned well you can get through the flak defences, accomplish your mission, and be back before they can catch you. Of course there are always road crews out playing Tetris with the traffic barriers as they lean on their shovels and you do well to learn about them from other road users on the net the night before. They really do affect where you travel for shopping – they steered me away from a certain sale at a shop last Saturday by the simple expedient of blocking the shop’s street from both ends. I hope the shopkeeper and his assistants do not stave and die behind the counter while the paviours play – it would make the shop premises stink awfully…

Shall I resort to the net and on-line shopping more? I hope not – I like the establishment of physical shops in our city as a way of giving employment and providing convenience for me  – after I have run the gauntlet of the roads. On-line doesn’t benefit our state or nation in the end.

 

 

 

If You Wish To Be Wealthy…

Sell medicine to the sick and fun to the healthy. It used to be possible to become rich selling food to the hungry but now that the larger corporations have taken over production and distribution there is little point in opening a local deli.

Leaving aside the sale of better health to those who are poorly…and a complex thing that is, too…we come to the idea of selling fun. Making other people happy and fulfilled is the goal and a grim business it is, too.

This was illustrated at a trade show I’m attending this weekend. For the 4-wheel-drive vehicles  and adventure accessories. It is by for the largest exhibition I have seen, both in area of display and amount of money that was asked. Also a very adventurous thing since it is being conducted on some of the most gruelling times of the year – 40º + yesterday. However, that did not deter the customers…because they wanted to buy things that will be fun to have and to go places that excite them.

I will not be wealthy because of it – I’ll submit a modest account for giving three lectures over three days – but then I won’t spend any money amongst the fabulous exhibitors either. It’ll a profitable and enjoyable thing to do and may give rise to more paid gigs in the future.

Moral of it all is that if you want to follow the money, follow the fun. That’s what people will fork out for.

Letting The Hooks Do Their Work

We often read about how complex things should be to work well. The endless choice of fashion and fad –  together with tech and toy – will have us doing 5 procedures to maximise our pleasure, safety, or monetary return…and in many cases we will have wasted all the effort. A simpler solution was there on the counter, or in the drawer all the time.

No sphere of activity sees this more than the photographic world – except the self-publishing weblog one. We are continually being bombarded with must-do extra steps. We are looked upon as fools and dinosaurs if we do not do them. I saw one instance yesterday of this sort of built-in confusion but I saw that it has been disabled – and by the people who set it up in the first place. This gives me hope that there may be light at the end of the tunnel and that it is not an oil fire…

The car parks of Perth that are run by Wilson Parking have had a variety of operational systems over the years – from grumpy old men in little hutches beside the gate to massive ticket machines in the multi-storey parks. These machines started out simple, got complex, then more complex…then I stopped going to the multi-storeys because I feared for my sanity. The outside parks got a new wrinkle a few years back – a machine that demanded your license plate registration before it would accept your cash or credit card entry for parking.

I was always having to restart the procedure to key it in as I either forgot a number or hit the wrong key. You could see lines of people doing the same thing and getting frustrated and angry. Added to this the practice of wheel clamping to extort money and the whole idea of going into entertainment or city areas became untenable. I stayed out and so did others.

Yesterday the Wilson outside machine was one of those license plate jobs but they had disabled the function and turned on one that just issued you a ticket based on the time you paid for. The charges weren’t excessive and as it was a pay-wave job your card stayed in your hand. Finally the automatic features were allowed to run unhindered and the experience was good.

Either someone came to their senses or the machine was broken…

We Need To Rip Up The Roads

Not all of them – just the ones that go conveniently and sensibly between important points in the metropolitan area. The asphalt paving should be ripper-toothed, bulldozed, and loaded into trucks. Then it can be hauled away and dumped into the river or on the children’s playgrounds.

This would clear the way for a series of deep ruts, boulders, and impassible slopes to be constructed, along with the planting of tens of thousands of tangle bushes. A few clay pits and chemical sinkholes would not go amiss, either. Surely there must be enough PCB’s and  industrial waste to ring the city.

Of course this will strangle all commerce and movement of people and goods throughout the city. Thousands will be injured and/or lost as they try to make their way to work, schools, or shops. No ambulances or firetrucks will be able to move.

But think how glorious it will be for the owners of the suburban SUV’s. Finally they will not be the butt of contempt from their neighbours for parking an urban Patton Tank in the driveway. They can wear adventure gear and drive at nauseating angles all day. There will be deep water courses that they can splash through and if they get swept away, all the better. Perhaps we can import crocodiles.

It will still be less dangerous for the average motorist than parking out the front of the shops in Leeming and Winthrop.

Sour Grapes Plates

The personalised number plate business in Western Australia is booming – closely followed by a number of people who decry it. For every citizen who is prepared to pay the state government $ 535 to $ 685 for their own lettering on the plates – there is another internet poster who thinks it is foolish and believes that it is their mission life to scoff.

Well, I like scoffing as much as the next anonymous Facebook writer, but in this case I think the detractors are in the wrong – for a number of reasons:

  1. The decision to buy a personal plate is not forced upon any motorist. They are free to take whatever the dealer places on their car at a lower cost.
  2. The wording of the plate must pass some official scrutiny and the rules that govern it are fairly spelled out. No profanity, no incitement, etc. A plate doesn’t appear without permission.
  3. The money raised from the plate sales presumably goes into general coffers – and thence to public works, like roads, schools, and hospitals. More money than standard plates, hence more contribution to state welfare.
  4. The plates are distinctive. This is both a good and bad thing for the driver – they are more likely to be remembered and spotted than if they have standard plate. if they behave with care and distinction on the road this means we can praise them and if not, they can be easily identified.
  5. The are sometimes amusing to read – sometimes puzzling -and sometimes a prudent warning about the mind set of the driver. This can be very useful when the motorist is an hoon or idiot – you can avoid them.
  6. They are a harmless amusement. Hard to find harmlessness these days as everyone is uptight about everything, but a Mini car with ” The Moocher ” on it is a pretty cheerful sight.
  7. All too often we are a number -a Centrelink number, a bank number, an ABN number. Or just a series of passwords and PIN numbers. We often lose our names to everyone else. How nice to have a distinctive plate that we choose.
  8. A personal-plated car is more likely to be cherished, maintained, and driven carefully by the owner.
  9.  A personal plate on a Mercedes, Volvo, Lexus, or BMW that features a number of “8”s on it is as good an identifier as a roundel would be on an Air Force plane. Sort of an IFF signal, but in this case an IFW. If you know what to look for you know to give it a wide berth in car parks.
  10.  For my part I would like to see a return of the old-fashioned yellow ” L ” plate and red ” P ” plate fixed at a standard height on a standard position – the bumper bar or the grill of the car. The practice of plastering something behind a windscreen or rear window that cannot be seen other road users defeats the entire purpose of the warning.

I would also like to see similar plates for us elderly drivers – perhaps a red/yellow striped plate that warns others that we are going to drive more slowly and cautiously.

A Side Order Of Lingotto To Go – Hyde Park Part Three

I thought I knew all the different types of pasta – spaghetti, linguini, tagiatelli, etc. Today I discovered a new variety – this sort is shaped like a Fiat racing car.

Given the recent record of FIAT cars here in Australia – the FIAT 500 and some of the other cooking-quality sedans that have been briefly seen on the streets of Perth before retiring and expiring – you might be given to thinking that this Italian car maker is not one of the icons. Not a Ferrari or Lamborghini. But remember that long before F. or L. were feuding, FIAT was racing all over the world. They were also making fighter planes and giant locomotives.

This FIAT 502 may yet be on the ground for a closer inspection at future car shows – I am going to go to them to see if more can be seen inside it. The outside details scream of the period and promise a great deal of interesting design inside.

Oh, to see it in operation on a track…

I must look out the next Italian Car Show day here in Perth and hope. Wheel ’em Danno…

No Such Thing As Slim Pickings – Hyde Park Part One

There’s Slim Pickens but he was in another class altogether. I loved him as a film actor. No, today was the annual visit to the Hyde Park Holiday old car show – but it was a visit made with trepidation. I suspected that there might be few new old cars shown. But not-so-trepid me wanted to see whatever might be presented.

I was right about the paucity of exhibits. There were plenty of cars on show and quite a spread in their variety, but most of them had been seen on previous years. I picked out the fresh ones and walked through the field in an hour.

1938 Morris 8 in the process of reconstruction. I feel sure that when the owner can locate a period steering wheel in good order he will substitutue it for the modern one. And tuck in the wiring…

Dear old DeSoto in excellent form. If not exactly exciting in the day, it at least showed a sense of respectability in style. A manager of a successful hardware store or an accountant could drive this car with confidence.

A car to be. One of the few that were presented in building form, this Triumph will undoubtedly be as cute as a bug when it is done. I was particularly intrigued by the wheels, having never seen anything of this sort before. Also noted the extremely small size of the engine and its low placement on the chassis compared to the body mounting. I am in two minds about the practicality of the leather body covering. Flash, but one scuff…