[This is the final post in the series Smiling Kodiak Rides Again]
I may call myself a progressive, but at the end of most days there is nowhere I’d rather be than where I started: home. This morning the sultry voice of the Radio National breakfast host informed me it would be no easy feat: “Today’s forecast is for severe and sometimes dangerous thunderstorms, with high winds and damaging hail.” I don’t usually start my day with a prayer, but on this occasion I asked the gods to let me discover the radio station was broadcasting from a distant region of country Victoria.
The weather radar confirmed the accuracy of the forecast. A long swath of red nightmarish storms crept slowly towards us, running parallel to the entirety of our sixty kilometer cycling route from Myrtleford back to Wangaratta. I muttered many solemn oaths. Damn gods. Continue reading 10. Damn
Identifying a dangerous idiot quickly can be a life-saving talent, so over the years I have developed many techniques to do so. For example, a person who uses any of the following platitudes in seriousness can be immediately recognised as a dangerous idiot:
- “Whatever it takes”
- “Work smarter, not harder”
- “Zero tolerance”
- “Anything is possible”
- “Evidence-based decision-making”
- “Values-based management”
- “No fear”
- “Frank and fearless” (archaic)
This kind of idiot is relatively easy to spot. They have a propensity to rise to the top of the larger organisations that incentivise and congratulate moronic behavior, which is pretty much all of them. Proud of their success, the dangerous idiot rarely strings together a sentence without reference to one of these notions. Continue reading 07. The Idiot Police
After nearly a century of railroading Victorians with the stuff, V/Line banned alcohol from its trains in 2008. This presented something of an ethical dilemma, as I consider a glass of wine (or twelve) on a train ride to be an unalienable right. Thus, I filled my bicycling “water bottle” with a pleasant Sauvignon Blanc. In the spirit of Thoreau, Gandhi and King, I nonviolently perpetrated civil disobedience all the way to Warrnambool, the elixir helping me ignore the leper whacking my seat back.
We arrived in Warrnambool at ten-thirty in the evening. It was cold, windy and damp, a thick mist verging on drizzle filling the air. Collecting our bicycles from the baggage car, we strapped on our bags. It did not seem a good idea to ride in the dark and wet the single kilometer to our AirBnB accommodation, especially given the amount of “water” I had drunk. We set off on foot, pushing our bikes alongside. Continue reading 04. Dumb Luck
Melburnians complain bitterly and constantly about their public transport system. This can strike a newcomer as strange, because Melbourne has a pretty fabulous public transportation network. If you spend enough time here, you come to understand that Melbourne has such a wonderful system because nobody here thinks it is anywhere near good enough.
Melbourne came of age during the latter half of the nineteenth century in the throes of Victoria’s gold rush. For a period it was the richest city on Earth by many measures. Unlike its kin in New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania, Victoria had little in the way of convict roots, and was consciously eager to demonstrate that by behaving “more English than the English”. Amongst much else, that meant they needed to have trains, and lots of them. Continue reading 02. Railroaded
I love a free ride.
At the moment I am riding a V/Line train, first class from Melbourne to Warrnambool, Victoria— free! You could be doing the same.
Two days ago, I had little in my calendar for the coming week. Then, a series of screw-ups caused a tremendous number of persistent, repeated delays, delays which will plague V/Line passengers for weeks, if not months, to come.
First, much of the V/Line train fleet, particularly the relatively newish Vlocity model, was determined to lack round wheels. This was attributed to normal wear and tear, nevertheless has caused all sorts of technical and philosophical difficulties. Those trains had to be taken out of service, leaving many trips replaced by buses which proceeded tediously through traffic, finding their way to train stations just far enough off the major thoroughfares to make the journey painfully slow. Continue reading 01. A Free Ride