Today, Victorians headed to the polls. I was one of them. For those of you who are unaware, Australia has compulsory voting. That means that if you don’t go vote (and you don’t have a valid reason why you didn’t or an excuse), you get a fine. Actually, you get up to 1 penalty unit and one penalty unit is currently equal to a fine of $180. I read somewhere that it was $20.
Since I live in a regional area, I didn’t have easy access to an early voting venue, so I had to get up today and vote. It was a little hard getting up and leaving though, so I made it to the voting center (a church) at about 1:30 pm. The polling centre was about a 20 minute walk away and the flies were out in full force. (I hate flies.)
It was the first time that I’ve voted in a regional area. I was expecting it to be like Melbourne was. I was expecting lots of people, lots of people asking me to vote for candidates I don’t like, and sausage sizzles. There wasn’t a lot of any of those things and there weren’t any sausage sizzles. I brought cash with me for that very reason.
Wait, I hear you non-Aussies and non-Kiwis asking: what’s a sausage sizzle? Well you can check out the link or I’ll save you the time and explain it to you. It’s basically throwing some cheap (or donated) weiners on a grill, barbequing them and then serving them with a slice of bread, sauces, and grilled onions. People usually sell them at events to raise money for charities, schools, sports clubs, and other organisations. A hardware chain here called Bunnings Warehouse does them every weekend. I don’t much care for the smell of them, but it’s a nice idea. Anyway, I was expecting one and didn’t get it. I was a little sad.
Anyway, I voted and left. I got home and now I’m hungry for cheap hot dogs. I don’t want to go to the store and brave the flies. They drive me insane.
I sometimes ask myself if compulsory voting should be a thing in the USA and on paper and in conversation, that seems like a great idea. It gives, theoretically, a better representation of people’s feelings towards the way they think governments should be run. Australia’s population is only a fraction of what the USA’s is, so I think it’s a lot more doable here. Elections are expensive. I couldn’t imagine how much it would cost the USA if everybody had to vote. The traffic would be horrible and I doubt a lot of people would put in a real vote… because not everybody really cares.
It took me a few tries to record this… sorry if it’s disjointed and random. In this episode, I talk about:
– I’ve started a new job – Campin’ in the Grampians, a mountain range in Victoria, Australia. – My hatred towards the ‘bad’ air and my need for some more immunotherapy (or I’ll have to move back to the city as soon as I can). – The guilt of calling in sick in the USA. (I’ve already taken a sick day because I can’t breathe.) – I’ll be cutting down the number of episodes I do until I get some indication of who’s listening.
NOTE: This post uses the new web player so it might not function or look correctly. I’ll be working on it when I have time. (The default is to use the built-in browser media player. If you’d like to switch to the themed player, look at the preferences by clicking the menu button in the upper right, and change the themed player setting to ‘Yes’.)
I started writing this a few moments after I took this picture. It’s nothing to be proud of and nothing I’d frame on the wall, but this is how I spend most of my time. I spend almost 1/6 of my day travelling on the train from point A to point B. That’s about around 3-4 hours of my day spent most of the week.
I like to complain about this a lot, and I mean a lot. You’ve probably read something about how much I hate the commute and how I wish they’d just build a teleporter outside my front door to go anywhere I want (hell, even a one-way deal would make me happy).
I was going to make this a big long list of the negatives of my daily commute, but I’ll skip that. It’s really not all that bad, but there’s plenty bad in there.
Why I Hate It
This is easy. It’s always easier to complain about what I hate. These things are the main reasons why I hate the long commute.
Time Wasted: There’s only so much you can accomplish riding the train for so long. Since the distance between where I live and where I work/study is so big, there’s a lot of emptiness. There is no internet service on the train and the mobile towers are flaky at best (the Victorian government is supposed to be doing something about this), I can’t get any work done.
Alarm Call: To be where I need to be at 8 am, I have to leave home before 5:30 am. That means my mornings are usually groggy, zombified messes. It’s a general rule that if I don’t leave more than 2 hours earlier than I have to, I won’t make it. Not fun for train delays [see below].
Cost: It’s not really terrible, but I spend about $12 one way. That’s about the same amount that someone spends for an all-day ticket around Melbourne and the suburbs. If I still lived around Melbourne, I wouldn’t complain anymore, I promise!
Unreliability: When it gets hot, trains get delayed. When it’s cold, trains get delayed. When it’s rainy, trains get delayed. When it’s windy, trains get delayed. One of these delays can really screw up my whole schedule for the day. I miss one of them, I have to wait 45 minutes for the next train in the morning. On the way home, if a train is delayed, it can easily take an extra hour for me to get home. The connection times are so bad that sometimes I have to run for the bus before it leaves in 1-2 minutes.
Rude people: Some people have no understanding that people in 3 carriages do not want to hear their phone conversation about an abusive brother-in-law, what their plans are for the weekend, or how many times they got laid in the last two days. (I’m not making this up. I have heard all of this.) Parents let their kids run up and down the aisles, screaming their heads off, and being little brats. People play their shitty-ass music over the speaker on their phone. This is all in what the train calls a “quiet carriage”.
Everything stinks: Sometimes the seats smell like they haven’t been cleaned in over a decade. They smell like sweat and mildew. It’s really gross and gives me a huge headache. The public toilets are horrifying. (All public toilets are horrifying…)
Why I Like It
It’s not all so bad. In fact, sometimes I look forward to the trips.
Train fan: I like trains. I am not really sure why, but I like them. I’ve never actually owned any train models and didn’t love them when I was a kid. I am really interested in the history of the train stations around Victoria, like the one I live closest to used to be somewhere else and the current location it’s on now used to be some kind of chicken farm. I could spend my whole day reading about the history of trains here. I probably should try to find a museum somewhere.
Time to unwind: The trip gives me some time to rewind. I can sleep sometimes, but it’s not often. I’ve never been a big fan of sleeping in public. These days, I kind of close my eyes and zone out. It’s really nice. Early in the mornings, when everybody is still half-asleep, it’s really quiet and I can empty my head of thoughts. I guess it’s a really basic form of meditation.
Environment: I’ve told people that Australia is beautiful. Even if it’s the big open fields with trees, it’s really pretty. We get to pass mountains. There are rivers. It reminds me a lot of where I’m from in Texas. It’s empty, but it’s nice to look at. When we get to the city, I like looking at all the graffiti that’s well-done. (I don’t like lazy wall art.) Also, some of the train stations have a very vintage, nostalgic look to them, especially in the very remote towns we pass through.
Comfort: I’d hate to admit it, but the country trains are really comfortable. Yeah, they may stink sometimes, but they’re pretty comfortable getting me back and forth. I’m not sure how my shrinking ass would do on longer trips though. The temperature also always feels a lot better than how it feels outside. Sometimes this can make me really look forward to leave.
No driving required: I don’t like to drive. I hate it. It’s why I don’t own a car now, even if I live in a smaller town. It does get really annoying when I need to go somewhere local, but if I need to, I can get to bigger cities easily. I do think, however, that I will need to get a car soon though because it would be nice to get to the station in 5 minutes rather than 25 minutes in the morning.
Eye candy: Since I’m not having to look at the road or pay attention to anything, I can look at other people instead. Some of the people I see are really good-looking (everybody). There are some really cute train conductors. I’d hate to say it, but in Melbourne there are certain places where the train stops and there are a lot of cute people. Haha.
I guess that’s it! Super simple post about travelling. Speaking of travel, I am supposed to go to the USA at the end of the year. I will be excited to get back home for a while so I can get fat.