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Archive for December, 2009

How did you spend New Year’s Eve? I know how I spent mine – in the Municipal Emergency Operations Centre (MEOC) for Melbourne City, as Red Cross’s representative for the New Year’s Eve celebrations. Red Cross had been contracted to provide first aid in Federation Square.

It’s just short of 9:00pm. The fact that I have time to be typing this is really quite surprising – things are fairly quiet for our first aiders at the moment.

Many people I talk to about my Red Cross liaison activities don’t really appreciate the organisation that goes into putting these events on, including our first aiders. Let me try and give you a quick snapshot.

We are all located in an extremely large room on the ground floor of Melbourne Town Hall. A quick head count has come up with 32 people who are currently in the room, which is set up with a work area for each agency. Each person is generally equipped with all sorts of combinations of laptops, radios, computer screens, phones, etc, etc. Each person wears a tabbard to identify the agency they represent – I am currently wearing a very fetching orange number with “First Aid” across the front and back, because the council doesn’t have a Red Cross-specific one.

As you can see, we also have two large screens on which are currently displayed a log of issues and the BOM weather radar, which is tracking the big storm about to hit. If necessary, we can display images from a number of cameras spread around the city, to hone in on particular areas of concern. There are also white boards and maps for use by any agencies if required.

It is an amazingly well oiled machine. So who is represented in the MEOC?

  • Melbourne City
  • Victoria Police
  • Ambulance Victoria
  • Metropolitan Fire Brigade
  • St John’s Ambulance
  • Red Cross
  • Yarra Trams
  • Metro Trains
  • Department of Transport
  • Traffic management companies
  • Cleaning companies
  • Security companies
  • Event management
  • Risk management
  • Radio supplier
  • Salvation Army
  • Parks Victoria
  • Fireworks company

Phew!

Oh look, the Lord Mayor’s just dropped in.

Everyone here fundamentally has two roles – to ensure the safe and successful management of the event and to liaise between each other where an issue requires the intervention of more than one agency, e.g. Red Cross requiring an Ambulance Victoria vehicle. I am also looking after all the two-way radio traffic for our Red Cross team members.

I arrived about 5:15pm and expect to knock off at this stage about 2:00am tomorrow morning. With the rain, who knows, we might even get away early.

And on that note, it’s time to finish typing as things are starting to get busy. I’ve just organised the first ambulance to attend our first aid post, no doubt the first of many. Hope you had (or will have) a safe New Year’s Eve. I know I did.

Happy New Year!

And to all my Red Cross colleagues, congratulations. You rock!

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Costco – Thumbs Up, I Guess

Lord knows I hate shopping, crowds and being out in the heat. So it was with some trepidation that, ignoring all three of these issues, we headed off to Costco this morning.

Now I know I’m not exactly on the leading edge here. Early adoption isn’t really me, although I did apply for my myki yesterday. Many of my colleagues have already made the trek. But I generally put them into the categories of:

  1. Families with children who probably spend many hundreds of dollars a week on groceries and who are looking to save as much as they can, as soon as they can; and
  2. Americans who can’t let go. 😉

(Adam, I’m not sure where that leaves you. I guess you’re a de facto American. Right?)

My objective was to work out whether Mr & Mrs Mature, who don’t fit into either category above, would get the benefit. A natural concern was that I had to part with $55 for a membership just to get in the door (yep, having an ABN saved me $5). I have to secretly admit (I guess it’s no secret anymore, is it?) that I really wanted the experience to be so crap that we would never ever contemplate doing it again, and would write the $55 off as a bad investment.

So, the verdict:

  1. The car park is way too small – how did Melbourne City let them get away with that?
  2. The registration process was straight forward – albeit a bit time consuming. If I’d have been more organised, I would have done it on the web. I could have then run a book on which would turn up first, my Costco card or my myki card. Opening odds: Costco – 1/10. myki – 33/1.
  3. Prices for a lot of the non-grocery items don’t seem to be particularly cheap. Indeed, I thought some of the stuff was quite expensive. 46″ TV similar to the one we paid $1,300 for was $1,700. Having said that, $20 for 6 pairs of high-quality sports socks was very good. (Darling, do you really need 6 more pairs of sports socks?)
  4. Grocery items were clearly about 60% to 70% of what they are in the supermarket. One just needs to be judicious in terms of the bulk buy thing. (Darling, do we really need 12 tins of baked beans?)
  5. The checkout process was very efficient.
  6. The crowds were terrible, but bearable.
  7. It’s air conditioned. Nice!
  8. There’s probably sufficient benefit for Mr & Mrs Mature from Mordialloc to persevere with it, so that’s a begrudging thumbs up.

What’s the worst part of it? Carol’s decided the best way for us to Costco is for her to give me a list every month or so and I can head in there after work. Hang on. What about my hatred of shopping? The heat? The crowds?

Sigh!!!!!!!

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I spent the first three days at the test this year. It was great to be there on the first day with Tom, and with friends and colleagues on the subsequent days. As I type this, I have watched bits and pieces of the fourth day on TV, including on a large outdoor screen that is still erected in Marysville. I’ve also listened to the fantastic ABC radio commentary.

One of the stand out performers this year has been Shane Watson. As much as he frustrates me with his attitude and apparent lack of sportsmanship, he’s been great. The other stand out has been Pakistan’s Mohamad Aamer. At 17 years of age, he certainly looks a superstar of the future.

I need to have my usual two rants. It makes me feel better to get them out there, even though I know there’s not a snowflake’s hope in hell that anything will change.

  1. Whatever happened to the days when it was plain courtesy that you didn’t leave or go back to your seat during an over, thus walking in front of people as play is proceeding? It’s damn rude and incredibly frustrating. It’s even more frustrating when it happens in the Members’ area – these people should know better.
  2. Why the hell do the morons in Bay 13 and the general vicinity bother? ‘Nuf said.

Rant over. Normal service restored.

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With Carol and me both on leave this week, we’ve been looking for a couple of day trips to do. Carol had seen a news story on the new supermarket opening in Marysville and how the locals were encouraging visitors to come along and help get the town back on its feet after the fires. What a good idea, we thought. So off we headed to Marysville this morning.

It was certainly a trip of contrasting emotions. I didn’t get to Marysville during Red Cross activities – most of my time was spent in Kinglake, Kinglake West and Whittlesea. It’s still hard not to have an emotional attachment. As we drove into the town, it was impossible to miss what had happened. All the debris is gone, but the bare cement slabs and cleared allotments give it all away.

We parked where the Caltex service station had been. The sign is still there, strangely the first thing that sprang to mind was a question about why Marysville would need a 24 hour service station. Unfortunately, it’s now 24 hours less than that – all that remains other than the sign is the concrete driveway.

Neither of us could get out of the car immediately, feeling the need to gather ourselves emotionally before we ventured forth.

The main purpose of our visit was not to go and see for ourselves what had happened. I’d had enough of that at Kinglake and Kinglake West, and Carol had assisted people at the relief centre at Lilydale. The idea was to try, in our own small way, to help Marysville get back on its feet. It’s hard to do that in a major way – there is still only a minimum of businesses operating. But we bought an ornamental frog and some place mats at a gift shop, and a necklace at another. We had lunch at the cafe, which was teaming with people, none of whom seemed the least bit concerned about the delay getting served. We went to the supermarket and paid $12 for a Cherry Ripe, a small bottle of lemonade and a jar of honey. Normally I’d have a few words to say about those prices, but not on this occasion.

I’d never been to Marysville before the fires – people say it was an extremely pretty place to visit. It’s certainly not that now, but gee it’s great to see it slowly getting back on its feet. There is a cleared housing allotment across the road from the cafe where the only thing remaining is the front gate, pretty much totally covered by a large Christmas decoration. How fantastic it is to see the Christmas spirit prevailing despite the losses that have been experienced.

The most enduring memory from the day was the ferns growing throughout the forest on the drive between Marysville and Healesville. It was apparent the fires had been through this area, apparent from the blackness of the gum tree trunks and the lack of foliage. However, just about everywhere throughout the forest are these fantastic green ferns. The flames have clearly been the catalyst for these to regenerate more impressively than ever.

We were tempted to head over to Kinglake as well, but time and emotion said no, and we headed for home, via the White Rabbit Brewery and Beechworth Bakery in Healesville.

I encourage anyone reading this to make the effort, head into Marysville and give the local businesses your support. They deserve it!

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I live just to the south of Moorabbin Airport. In fact, our street intersects with the southern boundary of the airport. Just about every time I head out, I have the opportunity to check out what aircraft are parked at the airport. Seeing this unit is always a good sign.

It’s a Bell fire fighting helicopter. As you can imagine, it certainly stands out from the other side of the airport with its bright orange doors. I always appreciate seeing it there, because it means it’s not out dumping water on a fire somewhere.

Interestingly, I took a photo of a similar aircraft earlier this year.

It is the same sort of aircraft, but is obviously a different helicopter with a different registration. What is odd is they have the same identification number on the side.

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Now That Doesn’t Make Sense

Bought a train ticket today and handed over the plastic.

Metro train person: “PIN or sign?”

Me: “PIN thanks.”

Metro train person: “You need to sign it anyway.”

Me: “That doesn’t make sense.”

Metro train person: “I guess it’s just a double check.”

Me: (rolled eyes)

Metro train person: “I guess it’s just a double check for your benefit.”

WELL IT FREAKING WOULD BE, METRO TRAIN PERSON, IF YOU ACTUALLY COMPARED THE SIGNATURE ON THE CARD TO THE PIECE OF PAPER I SIGNED! IDIOT!

Oh, and have a Merry Christmas, Metro train person.

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It’s so easy to forget how the Mornington Peninsula is such a great place. I played bowls at Mornington yesterday with my mate PJ. I had a fantastic day, the company was great and we managed to win a bit of money. A few beers and dinner afterwards, looking out over the bay. Fantastic!

The trip took about 40 minutes each way from home at Mordialloc. Not bad when you consider the commute into Melbourne during peak hour is about an hour. Hmmm. Me thinks I should start thinking about spending a bit more time in that part of the world.

BTW, for any bowls colleagues, PJ plays off this morning in the club championship at Mount Martha.

Update (3/1/10): PJ won.

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