Fine, today I proved to myself why I dont bet, and its because I’m a lousy gambler. More on that shortly.
Yesterday, the first target was to turn my little phone into an active one, by getting its umpteenth new Sim card over the years. Basically, they last 90 days, and apart from 2 occasions, everytime I travel to the US, I need a new one. And so, choices, choices…
Because I wanted to go back to Pasadena at some point on the holiday, and there was an AT&T store near the metro station there, I went over there to do it. I could have done it locally, but it would have needed a fair walk, so fine, excuse made. Pasadena is a lovely place to visit, except for this weekend, when I gather it will be chaos there, with pop concerts, museum tours, and roadworks, all adding to the racing at Santa Anita, so yes, glad its done.
After finishing there, I did the opposite to the Pet Shop Boys, and went East. The line has been extended eastwards to Azusa, so I took a chance to travel on it. A bite of lunch, then back to Pasadena for the bus journey home. Apart from 4 people each travelling just one stop (one may have had health issues, the other 3 definitely didnt), it was a fairly dull affair.
This morning is when I gambled, and got it wrong. I walked down to the Metro station to get a train downtown, to find that an ‘every 10-12 minute service’ wouldnt be along for 21 minutes! So fine, I thought, I’ll walk down, get the bus to Santa Monica, and get the train back. Yes, another new line I wanted to go on. Oh fine, I picked the crazy bus, clearly! So yes, with all the delays with those folk, I could have waited over 20 minutes for the train downtown, gone back out to Santa Monica, and still have been quicker!
I did my stroll around town, stopping off for a coffee, before heading to the biggest Santa Monica landmark, the pier! Which supposedly is the end of Route 66, halfway down its length, according to the sign. I strolled to the bottom, said my close up farewell to the Pacific, in case I dont go down there at Pacific Palisades, though I will see it as I fly out, but thats not the same thing. Lunch on the pier, then finally I got that train I could not miss, back to LA.
In truth the most memorable bit of the journey was 2 teenagers being ‘tough’ until some guy actually stood up to them, and then they quietened down! They had reminded me why I’m not a fan of modern music at least!
Tomorrow evening, is dress up time, as I’m off to the movies at the Egyptian Theater. I know, I dont have to, especially nowadays, but it will be fun to put a dress on, so I will. Sunday afternoon, a Women in Media event, so a chance to try and sell my talents, maybe? Other than that, I’ll see what the morning brings!
I’ve given a couple of clues to the video, so hopefully you know what it is, without looking!
OK, bonus blog, silly rant.
Now that I’m travelling by bus a lot more, I’ve noticed one trend I absolutely hate. For those of you people who use buses, and quite likely, trains, will probably know what I’m talking about, but those ‘posh folk’ who drive everywhere wont have a clue. For want of a better term, its people who think that paying for one seat on the bus entitles them to two, however busy the bus might be!
On the lower floor of the bus tonight, there are, for want of a better term, 9 pairs of seats facing forward on the 2 sides of the bus, plus a back row of 5, and a pair of double seats facing the wrong way at the back. There is also at the front, room for baby buggies, but thats not what this is about.
Tonight, of those 9 pairs of seats, despite the bus being fairly busy, 5 of those pairs of seats had 1 person sat on the outside seat, and their bag (or nothing at all) on the window seat, making it clear to anyone else that you dont sit next to them. No, I wasnt one of them! Eventually someone got on, and asked one of them to move across, so they could sit down, and the look on his face would make you think someone had insulted him, not asked something reasonable of him. Yes, shortly after that, another had the same treatment, and she wasnt happy about it either.
Please, you pay for 1 seat, you’re entitled to one seat, and thats that!
Oh fine, it got better, or worse, depending on your view of it later. I turned around to see what was going on behind me, as someone either thought that the whole bus wanted to listen to her awful modern music, or was deafening herself through her headphones, and frighteningly, it was the latter. Heaven knows what her hearing will be like when she gets older?
But yes, she was on that back row, but on the 2 back facing seats opposite her, her bags on one seat, her feet on the other! Seriously? OK, I know, I’m getting old, but…rolls eyes!
I’d love to think it was just an issue in this area, but I doubt it!
Fine, rant over.
Video? Bit of a clue in the title, I guess? Yes, a group I’d love to see live, but whether it will ever happen now, who knows?
True, but on the other hand, life might be a whole lot duller if I just drove to, and from work each day. So, maybe its for the best?
The advantage of working a 12-8 shift at work during the week, is that you miss all the rush hour passengers, all the rush hour traffic, and everything like that. Yes, due to the fact that at that time of night, there is only 1 bus an hour between Bradford, and Huddersfield, but I can get it, even when it runs on time, means it doesnt matter too much. But yes, I’ve had the line, “Is it safe walking into town at that time of night?” so often, you wouldnt believe. The blunt answer, yes, it is, there is hardly anyone about, and getting across the roads is quite easy too. So, pretty good!
Then you get to Saturday. On a Saturday, we only open between 9, and 4, so thats the shift you do. Yes, it means a pretty short night of sleep on a Friday night, but I survive. Thing is, that means an early start on a Saturday, when the bus timetable is not great, so the best fit for me, is the Northern Rail train to Bradford instead. Well, it would be IF it ran on time! So far, in 4 Saturdays at work, I’ve got to Bradford on time, once!
The first week, I have no idea if it ever turned up, I ended up getting the 8.00 bus instead, as there was no sign of it, flew into work at starting time. Second week, waiting for me, ran on time! Last week, it was a few minutes late, but not enough to matter. Then, yesterday…
I could see a train in the platform when I walked through the station, and thought, great! No, it was the previous train to Wakefield, which wasnt moving, as they couldnt shut one of the doors, it had got frozen open! Anyway, about 20 minutes late, they decide to run our train into another platform, and lo and behold, they fix that door, and the other train leaves! So, finally, about 25 minutes late, we finally left! We actually got to Bradford about 19 minutes late, but yes, it was 9.05 when I burst into the office. Thankfully, someone has a good sense of humour, knows what its like, and told me not to rush, but fine, too late!
No, it gets better yet! On Friday afternoon, we had an email come around, for the 4.00 finishers, to warn them that there was a strange lady out on the main street nearby, waving a cup at cars, begging. Yes, by 8.00, she was long gone! But yes, you guessed it, yesterday I finished at 4, and there she was again! I dashed past her quickly, and headed to the ring road, to get across, and get to the bus. Only to find a woman stood by the road, shouting something at the cars as they went by. Yes, I got across the road as quickly as it was safe to do so. Then on the other side of the road, another woman harassing passers by, ouch!
After that, a relatively sane journey home. Well, apart from on the journey out of Huddersfield, one young woman, with no issues I could see, got on the bus, then got off at the next one, about 100 yards on, seriously!
Yes, if I could drive in a car, I could have nice, safe, sane journeys to and from work, in less time. Be a lot more boring though, lol!
Video time. I saw one of these article things earlier about a bike that you cant tip over, so safe, you dont need a helmet. Yes, me, helmet, please! Did come with some cool visor thing, so that, and a helmet, might appeal to me, so…Yes, a silly song, a blast from the past. No idea who the guy in the video is, but its not Jasper Carrott!
Yesterday was an interesting day, in so many ways. Due to the less than stellar state of public transport, early morning, on a Saturday, my options for getting to work for 9.00 were a bit limited.
The dull, safe bet was to leave here about 7.00, get the 7.30 bus from town, and get to work by about 8.30. Fine, except that I would have had to be up by about 5.45 at the latest, and then sit at work waiting for 9.00 to come round.
What was the other option, I hear you ask? To do something I havent done since August, take a train! It meant I could leave here about 20 minutes later, take a train to Bradford, and get to work (hopefully) about 10 minutes before starting time, ideal for setting up. Yes, attempted the latter!
I got to the station, train on time the indicator board said, great! Only snag was, I got to the Platform, no train! About 2 minutes before it was due to leave (7.50), they announce the train at Platform 6 is there, and we can board, but as you can guess, still no train! A Guard with a silly grin on his face stood on the platform, telling us it would be there very soon, but…
At 7.58, still no train, so I walked outside the station, got the 8.00 bus to Bradford, and got to work with about a minute to spare. Yes, the bus was busy, as companies still seem to think no one works on a Saturday, not true any more! So yes, what is normally a 6 bus an hour service, 2 isnt enough! I know, they wont learn, but…! No, I didnt see the famous station cat either!
As opposed to William Hill, when Saturday was by far the busiest day, in my new job, just the opposite, not many calls. Fine, most solicitors arent working, and only so many other people realize we’re open, so its mainly a day for doing admin, it seems. Fine by me, but…
With about 10 minutes to go to going home time, I got a call! I know, shock horror, in a call center, but besides all that…it was a lovely old lady, but she didnt want to give me details. For legal logistics, we arent allowed to give her more than limited details, non executor, for those who understand the term, so I couldnt go into the account. So I answered her questions as best I could, very generically, but yes, I did my job. At the end, she told me I’d eased her mind about things, and that for me was the main thing.
The funny thing, I was still on the call at the time we could go home, but what could I do? Thankfully, a few moments later, we were done, and I actually got out only about 5 minutes late. Then things picked up, I still just about got to the bus station in time for the 4.10 (no idea how?), just about got out of Huddersfield before the football crowd came out, and actually got home in about an hour and a quarter, definitely a PB! After the morning trip, amazing!
But yes, the main thing, easing someone’s worries, and making her feel better about events. Now that was the important thing!
The video, a bit of Yazoo. Though for many Brit’s, the Flying Pickets version is probably better known! Ah well…
One of the hazards of being a non driver, is that you’re vulnerable to the whims of public transport, and the awful service they provide far too often. I’ll stand up and say that this rant isnt helped by the fact that First buses are putting up their fares around here on Sunday, despite the fact that the service they provide has deteriorated badly over the last few weeks. The number of cancelled buses on the routes up towards here, and Almondbury of late, just disgraceful. And then to rub it in by putting up their prices too…
Yesterday afternoon was a fine example of just how awful their service is. Having got out of work 30 minutes earlier than normal, it would be fair to assume that I would get home 30 minutes earlier than normal too, right? Wrong, I actually got in 10 minutes later than normal, despite the earlier start!
It started badly when I arrived at the Bradford bus station at 4.15, to find the 4.15 bus was already gone. Fine, if I’d seen it pulling out or something, then OK, but no, this was ‘gone’! No problem, another bus due in 10 minutes, so I’ll get that. Well, I might have done, but basically the screen counted down the minutes from 10, to showing as due, but the bus never showed. Finally about 4.30, after 5 minutes of showing as due, it disappeared off the screen, like the bus, never to be seen again!
The 4.35 eventually turned up about 4.33, but given there was 2 sets of customers waiting to get on the bus, we finally pulled out at 4.40, pretty full. So therefore we crawled all the way to Huddersfield, picking up, and dropping off passengers until we got to Huddersfield about 9 minutes late. I know, you’re thinking thats not too bad, but its meant to have a lay over of a few minutes in Brighouse, which never happened, which counteracted the delay somewhat.
But anyway, it gets better! I walked around the corner to get a bus up to where I live, to find the 5.24 was due anytime (only about 10 minutes late), and that the 5.34, 5.44 and 6.04 were all cancelled. The 5.54 was running, but at that point was running a mere 18 minutes late! Oh, the 5.24 never appeared either! On top of that, the 5.39, and 5.49 to Almondbury were also cancelled!
In the end, I walked part of the way home, using a bus (that I had to pay a fare for, as its a different company) to get me up the hill, but that was full, and I needed to stand, because First are so useless!
Seriously, I couldnt recommend First buses to anyone, especially the Huddersfield service, though I gather the service in Leeds is equally bad. And they want to increase the fares, but I doubt it will improve the service.
OK, in their defence, today, everything worked perfectly coming home, and because the 4.24 was running about 8 minutes late, I actually got home early! The bus I should have caught, running 7 minutes late!
I know, I know, but I’m 58, have tried driving lessons 3 times when I was much younger, failed miserably, so its never going to work now!
Fine, rant over!
The video, sums up the difference between yesterday, and today, I guess?
Yes, fine, I think if I tossed a coin at present, called both heads, and tails, it would wedge on the side of the coin. As in, any decision I settle on at present seems to be the wrong one! yes, thats right, I’m sat at home, typing this up, feeling that I made the wrong call yet again. Ah well…
Lets go back to last week, when I got offered a not very exciting job, for about 5 weeks, guaranteed, or I could take a gamble, wait to see if I got on the clinical research trial, and earn more money, in less time, and have way more fun. Thats right, I took the boring percentage option, and got it wrong, big time.
I had low expectations of the job, and I’ll be honest, I havent been proved wrong on that fact yet. Its fair to say I know how the poor men in the trenches in WW1 felt to some degree, we were pretty much employed just to be shot down, and save other faces the hassle. Oh, and the Capita fascination with trying to achieve ridiculous targets still happens too. I’d heard about this issue from people in the tele-betting dept in Rotherham, where morale was low, or worse. This week I’ve experienced it, and its not good. As in, my rest time is far superior to any of the other ‘infantry’ but they still want me to improve on it. So my write up time is on average, 2 minutes better than anyone else, but the challenge isnt to stay that way, its to make it even shorter. Oh, and their attitude to Customer Service seems to be to keep the calls short, however that affects the service to customers. Fine, thankfully 3.5 weeks to survive, thats all.
Oh, and the other issue, yes, you’re right, I did get selected for the trial, so at this moment in time, I could be doing something interesting, something new, and happy. Whereas now…Yes, I made the wrong call, again. Ironically, if I’d seen a message from the clinic earlier on Wednesday, I might still have had the option to do it, but by the time I saw it, and called them, they’d called up the reserve. Fine, I’ll do one in the New Year (my contact there tells me there will be some interesting things happening in February), for definite. But now…
And oh, that fact isnt helped by the decision of the Bus Drivers of Huddersfield to go on a 1 day strike on Monday. So guess what, on top of everything else, I’ll have to get up early, and walk a mile and a half into town, oh joy! And to think, I could be safe, in a nice warm clinic, instead of walking into town, in the rain (according to forecast), what fun!
So yes, I wouldnt describe my mood as sunny at present.
Oh, lastly, a moment of silliness. Given I will be on my own over Christmas (the others go down south before I finish work on 23rd), I jokingly took a look at flights to LA, leaving on the 24th. No, I cant do it, cant really afford it, but wondered just what the premium was for flying that day. There was one, but not as much as I was expecting, to be honest. Utterly impractical, as by the time I got there, all shops would be shut, so I’d be going hungry over the Christmas holidays, not really on. Oh, and seemingly my lovely apartment isnt rented out between November, and April anyway.
So, all in all…I did contemplate a certain Britney Spears video as apt, but preferred the irony, and class, of this instead. Lou Reed, live, take that, and party!
During the 8 months or so of job hunting, I’ve had a couple of “fun” moments with Trans Pennine Express, but thankfully not very often, and nothing catastrophic. Of course, for part of that time, (nearly a quarter) I havent concerned myself with their incompetences, because I havent been in the country. But then, this weekend, when attempting to get between here, and Leeds, I’ve been reminded how awful they really are.
It might be harsh blaming them for a couple of events this week, but in the end with a bit of diligence, and an effort to make things easier for passengers, they could have done more. But TPE, and doing things efficiently arent terms that go together.
Earlier this week (Thursday), I struck lucky. I managed to get the last train they managed to run through from Manchester for several hours, due to problems with a rail. Yes, it was a few minutes late, but all was fine, I had allowed enough time, got there fine. And the tailback hadnt occurred going the other way when I was coming back (agency registration), so I got back before their whole system collapsed. And it did!
Yesterday morning, I planned to get the 8.21 train to Leeds, for the start of the training session. I actually got the 8.13, which finally turned up at 8.27! So despite getting an earlier train than planned, I was running pretty close to being late! In fact, strictly, I was, because no one had told us how to get into the building, so it was only when someone else came along, that 3 of us got in.
We finished the course for the day about 4.00, and I headed back for the station. Remarkably, the 4.20 arrived more or less on time, and did leave on time. It then crawled slowly to Huddersfield (no other train in way, previous one was over 10 minutes before), arriving about 6 minutes late.
Then, today! I got to the station just before 9.00, the 9.18 train (first of day) was showing on time. Remarkable for a Sunday, and yes, you’re right, they didnt live up to claim. It got later, and later, finally turning up at 9.25. Got on, got a seat, only to hear that we were going to be slightly delayed by a signalling problem. Fine, I had about 10 minutes margin, so with luck…
It never left Huddersfield, well, not in the direction of Leeds, anyway. At 10.00, it was announced that the train had been cancelled, and they would be attempting to arrange some coaches, to get people to Leeds. Thing is, there were about 250-300 people on that train, another one had pulled in with similar numbers, and coaches can hold 40-50 people. Not good maths, and besides, its 50 minutes to Leeds by coach when it does arrive, not the 20 by train. So I gave up, and came home. When I got here, I found out they “hoped” to have replacement coaches running by about 11.30. When they did start running, no idea, as they never made the live running list.
I rang the company when I got home, and explained the situation. Whether they believed me or not, no idea! Got to go in, in the morning, so we will see. I dont know how much, or what training was done today that I’d have to catch up on, but we will see. So I might yet get to be a clinical research guinea pig after all! Fine, I’d prefer that, assuming I’m selected, but, its not the point!
And yes, as I say, indirectly, today’s problems dont really lay at the hands of TPE. As it was the first train of the morning on the line, it may be that it was only when they tried to set them, to let us go, that they found out. But at the same time, they have a reputation for being one of the worst companies for over crowding, for delayed trains, and pricey fares! So all in all…Yes, I’d discreetly forgotten how awful they are, until the last few days.
Hopefully, in the morning, the 7.55 train will have 6 coaches, will run on time, and my evening journey will be smooth too. Oh, and pigs fly!
The video, what I did this morning, about the most incompetent train company I’ve had the misfortune to know.
Alright, fine, its getting towards the sad end of the break, the last few days. How do I know that? Well, for the first time in a few weeks, I had to really think about what I needed from the supermarket up the hill, and not get more than I really need. Most things I’ve managed to work fairly well, though the peanut butter is going to run out 1 day early, and I wont quite use up all the sugar, or the last part of the loaf bought today, but done pretty well. I’m planning a nice last lunch out in Hollywood for Tuesday, instead of cooking for myself, mind. Why lunch? Simple, I will need to pack as much as possible on Tuesday evening (being picked up at 7.45 am Wednesday), and besides which, just after 5 pm, the 1 game of the World Series I will get to see live. Game 2, I will be in mid flight, and the rest will happen in the middle of the night, UK time. Only wish I could see more, but unless someone is crazy enough to give $2,000 dollars to me in the next day or so, not going to happen. But seeing Kansas City get this far, has been pretty special, all the same.
The other reason I know its the end? I’ve started doing the trips I was leaving until now, to say goodbye to a few places, and “friends”. The first of those happened at the end of last week, the return to Pacific Palisades. Its funny, when I went there in April, it was by sheer accident, this time it was deliberate. Its a lovely little place, which as the name suggests, sits very close to the Pacific Ocean. So after lunch, and a last look around the community, I headed down the canyon towards the Pacific Ocean. I walked down the beach, to the ocean, and said my goodbyes. I mean, I will see it again, when we take off from the airport on Wednesday, and its quite possible I will see it again, in San Francisco, or Seattle, but from here, in lovely LA, by the water, that was it, almost certainly forever! As far as I can see, thats it, though 1 Facebook friend tells me I will return, in 6 months, but I cant see it myself.
Alright, after that. the journey back here. It should be just over an hour (70 mins or so) to Hollywood from there, but…it took 2 and a half hours! I assume there was an incident on the freeway, but we crawled, or simply sat still until we reached back to the junction with the 405 freeway. I did hear a couple of sirens, so I assume it was that. Let me just say at this point, that the bus seats on the Metro buses win no prizes for comfort, or design. So my back stiffened up beautifully, and getting home from town was fun. As was clambering into the bed that night! Better by next morning, but that evening…ouch!
Yesterday evening, I had the chance to go somewhere different, The Magic Castle. To go in there, you either have to be a member, or a guest of a member, and I was fortunate enough to be the latter. OK, as with so much travel this trip, things didnt go smoothly. The taxi was fine, and then we hit a traffic jam on Franklin Avenue. So he went down to Hollywood Boulevard to avoid it, just as bad. So down to Sunset Boulevard, then all the way up to my destination, but it meant a $12 taxi fare ended up at $18! Oh, and of course, my friend got stuck in the same jam, but texted me what to do on arrival, and all was fine.
The evening itself was wonderful, I had wonderful company (thanks Eden, and Phylis), and was wonderfully entertained by both them, and a string of magicians. One especially took my heart (though not in that sense, I think?), but they were all great. Phylis ran me home afterwards, and I got in about 1.15 am, a time I have no idea when I last saw before bed! Oh, and this morning was the latest I’ve got up in my stay, about 8.15! No surprise, I guess? Still, Wednesday (when I guess I’m going to have to be up by 6, or soon after) is going to come as a culture shock!
Right, 2 full days, and 2 special trips to do. Tomorrow is off to Glendale, and Forest Lawns by bus, to say my final farewell to Jean Harlow. Yes, I know, she’s not going to answer me or anything (unless her “ghost” turns up, who is seemingly very chatty, then all bets would be off!) but its something I really want to do, just spend some time with her, one last time. Hopefully its as easy to get close as it was in April.
Then Tuesday, one last farewell trip to the delight that is Hollywood Boulevard. A little bit of souvenir shopping, a nice lunch (which I wish could be Musso & Frank, but I really cant afford it. Silly, its only because I included it in a story, but…), and then say farewell again, at Jean’s star on the strip, and to her’s, and a couple of other people’s hands, and footprints at the Chinese Theatre. Then 1 last nice ice cream at Hollywood & Highland centre, then with, I’m sure a few tears, say goodbye to Hollywood for the last time, as I head back here, to pack, and watch baseball!
Then, Wednesday morning, the long trek home. At least I will see that wonderful Hollywood sign, one last time, as the shuttle pulls out on to Beachwood before I leave.
I have got a few possible jobs to follow up on, from before I left, and I’ve applied for a couple more in the last few days, telling the people concerned that I wont be back before the 29th! Hopefully they noticed!
I’m sure there will be one last posting from LA, assuming Tuesday doesnt prove more problematical than expected, packing wise, and the like. So, if I dont…
Right, lastly, the video. Lets go back to last night for that.
Honestly, if I never travel with Trans Pennine Express again, after 3 weeks time, it will still be too soon. Though to be fair to them, it would be right to say that today they were only 50% to blame, the other half falling firmly on the shoulders of National Rail.
But, if TPE had been honest on the situation a little earlier, instead of 30 minutes after the train was due, I might have been able to rescue matters. Of course, if I had, you wouldnt be getting this bonus blog rant, so…
So, the story of my morning was as follows…
I left here at 8.30 this morning, to walk across (just under 10 minutes) to where I have to get the bus, when I make an early start on a Sunday morning, as the first bus from the estate is 9.08. As it happens, I could have got the 9.38, but more on that shortly.
The train was due at 9.18. At 9.12, it was showing as on time, quite a rare sight with TPE. But then, it started showing as later, and later, until…at 9.42 an announcement was made. Seemingly, there was a ‘slight’ over run on the engineering works between Manchester and Huddersfield, and to quote the announcer, they had no idea when a train might turn up, but they would let us know later, if, and when one would.
So, I did a rapid dash to a nearby Hills shop, rang work to let them know I wasnt going to be in by 10.00, funnily enough. I went back to the station, nothing had changed. So I gave up the fight, got a bus home, and gave up on the day, and a days wages. I might, even then have got to work very late, with a lift, but blamelessly (not knowing what a joke TPE was today) Nicole had made other plans, so that was that!
I know, I cant blame TPE for over running engineering works, and I dont. But what I can blame them for, is the lack of useful information. All they were doing on the departure board, was every minute, adding another minute to the expected arrival time. In the end, seemingly, the train arrived 61 minutes late! I expect it was ‘slightly crowded’ by then, rolls eyes!
So, TPE, please, just let us passengers, who you rip off so regularly know whats really happening with their trains.
No, given their utter incompetence, its not going to happen!
Yes, the video is dedicated to what I was doing today, waiting for the train that never came!