Tuesday, October 01, 2013

train adventure

hi there

well, it's the first day of October. further, it is likely to be the only ever first day of October in 2013, unless there is some sort of calendar revolution at some point. this struck me as the perfect reason, or if you like excuse, to take a partially necessary journey today. the journey, as you may have well worked out from the title, involved a train.

my previous train exploits seemed to be interesting reading for a few of you, so i thought "well, why not do it all again, except in the other direction from last time, and with Commodore 64 style pictures taken on the iTwat?". this post is, then, for the most part, the result of that thinking.

you know, then, that this will be full of observations, 8-bit technology based images and the odd deviation or diversion in the text. up to you if you read it!

to get to the train i, alas, needed to take the car. a short journey, at the least. too far to walk with no footpaths available, since you ask, and the walk to the nearest bus station for the train would be just about as long as walking to the station, a walk also bereft of footpaths.

picture above is, in the car of course, my ace travel bag and indeed my card thingie for the Gautrain. i figured if i took the bag it would help with the partial-necessary part of my voyage and would make it easy to carry anything else i picked up. erm, yeah, it didn't quite work out like that, but more on that later.

i have used a combination of Commodore 64 excellence modes across the two different C64 camera things i have on the iTwat, those thrilled with this technology may be happy to learn. the one above, and indeed the one below, are taken with the one that lets you switch "scan mode" on. it seems to be one of the more popular variations.

yep, that's the train station where my journey started today. well, the train element of my journey. that looks quite class in C64 mode, that does, but i really need to stop pointing that out as it is obvious that everything looks class in C64 mode.

there are many things one expects to see at a train station, and i would suggest that at the top of the list would be trains. to that end, this train station met with that expectation. not the biggest or busiest train station in the world, certainly, but it still has trains coming and going.

like, for instance, this one. 

obviously i was not on that one. well, maybe not obviously. these iTwat things have all sorts of clever "apps" and that, it would not surprise me if one could download something that lets the thing take a picture of you from a considerable distance. if there is such a thing, i don't have it.

the train i did get on is in the background of this next picture, this being the first of several "selfie" ones i took today. well, i was going solo you see, and i was probably the most interesting thing to take pictures of. which is disturbing.

yeah, that's one of them other C64 modes in use, not a scan line thing one.

i, alas, was unable to take any pictures on the train towards my destination. it was full of all sorts of business types. they would probably have got all snooty about someone twatting about with an iTwat. usually, yes you are quite right, a punch in the face would remind them the value of minding their own business, but quite frankly i was not in the mood.

that said, it was nice to see people doing "normal train things" on this journey. i noted one or two people listening to iTwats, some messing with computers and that whilst others simply read. it seems the "wow" novelty of the Gautrain has worn off at last and people are just using it conventionally. smart.

happily, though, i took a number of pictures of the rest of my travels. like this most splendid one, taken on the walk from the train station to my first, and perhaps only essential, point of business. it's taken with the other C64, i think with the dithering option (whatever that is) on. or maybe off.

quite nice how the area of Sandton, for that is where i was, has footpaths. nice and amusing, really, since i had the paths mostly to myself, what with everyone in the area driving mostly opulent cars, causing the traffic headaches i was only too happy to avoid.

i really, really like walking. it would be close to the top of the list of things i miss from home, really. it is frustrating that this place, this whole country, is built with a mind of everyone should just drive everywhere.

as walks go, this one was splendid. it was a lovely, bright and sunny day, the heat tempered by a delicious, unassuming cool breeze. had i remembered that the iTwat is mostly for music and thus brought my headphones along, some Bowie or Who would have been playing to bring perfection to my stroll. hey ho, perhaps next time.

meanwhile, i am sure you are all ready for some more selfie action, only this time featuring those scan line things. here you go, consider it done.

yes, those are post boxes behind me. the nature of my business involved, and this is hardly rare, the throwing of things at the mercy of the postal system and the profound hope that the same system would deliver to me the mail that it is supposed to. you would think sending and receiving mail were formalities - if you live in a country where it is, you ae very lucky. treasure such a system.

with my business affairs with the postal system conducted - a satisfactory but not what one would call pleasing affair - it was off to engage in some commercial activities. there were one or two key items that i needed to pick up, none of which were in a toy shop. however, a toy shop was right there and look, in as proper a picture as blueberry takes, at what i found!

wow, actual Boba Fett merchandise! at last, nice one! what is it? some sort of Lego style figure that's a key ring and a torch, but who cares? it is Boba Fett?

the mind boggles, actually, at why the Star Wars people (now Disney, i guess) do not simply flood the market with Boba Fett stuff. with no actor to pay royalties, image or likeness rights to, it is a surprise they do not, considering the popularity of this character.

what "classic" Boba Fett toys there are, action figures from the 80s, tend to be costly. usually when they appear on the market they cost hundreds if not thousands of any particular currency you like, and even then you have to offer unrestricted sex with a family member in order to persuade someone to part with it.

fingers crossed, then, that Disney flood the market with more ace Boba Fett stuff.

with that purchased, and indeed an unspecified Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles item (April, i think), off it was back in the direction of the train station, but not to the train station. the non-Boba Fett items i needed to pick up were located, for better or worse, inside Sandton City. oh dear.

that picture above (obviously not the one below) shows off some of Sandton City. it's a big place. technically i suppose it's a shopping centre, but one with a kick. a significant percentage of the entire national wealth resides in this shopping centre, which is saying something. a large percentage, perhaps as a consequence of the last statement, of the complete and utter twats in this country also congregate there on a regular basis. this is particularly true in the parking area, hence me being reluctant to drive there.

more on that sort of twat later, but for now the other kind i suppose, and yet more "selfie" images of your humble narrator. these are all out of sequence and that, but never mind.

this one i think is me outside the train station, or perhaps it is me inside and on an escalator.

i really usually do not like pictures of myself at all, to be honest, but i have taken quite a shine to how i look in Commodore 64 mode. i would request, then, that you indulge the unusual level of pictures of my good self that feature on or indeed in this post.

ah, now this one is certainly on an escalator.

i seem to sort of semi-suit that yellow/green thing the C64 camera has on the go. the shirt does not fare quite so well, at heart it is white with sort of blue, darker blue and red stripes on it.and some black pinstripe things.

off i went, then, into Sandton City, but via what is now called Nelson Mandela Square. it was renamed after the great Mr Mandela 10 or 12 years ago, when there was a rush to name everything in sight after him. this is by no means a bad thing. i have yet, however, to be convinced that a centre, or if you will square, populated by luxury, bourgeois designer stores and over priced, mostly sh!t "designer" eating places and visited on the whole by mostly annoying, self-indulgent people warrants being named after him.

still, it does look magnificent.

magnificent, sadly, is not the word usually used to describe the presumably hasty, this will do sort of statue they have in the centr...square of Mr Mandela. one can only imagine they got the first person they found with a welder, or whatever the machine that does welding is called, to do it for them.

it is a statue that has been roundly criticized, and rightly so, despite my lack of qualification to speak on the more visual of arts. the head is far, far, far too small for the body on which it is on, and it just looks silly, in fact possibly insulting.

i have tried to improve it a bit for you with a C64 with scan lines pictures, but Commodore 64 magic does have its limits.

it is a great shame that the owners of this square thing, only too happy to coin it from the name of a truly great man, have not had the decency to fix or simply replace this statue with something more suitable. like, for instance, a sculpture or statue that features him surrounded by children - that which he holds in the highest regard, and for the future of whom he sacrificed and worked his whole life for. not designer stores.

that the Michael Jackson statue which used to be outside of Fulham's football ground (some sort of cottage, i think it is called), actually looks like a proper, worthwhile and sensible thing in comparison is probably the final word on this statue.

but go on then, one more picture of it, only this time with the dithering either on or off.

onwards, then. my requirements didn't actually involve a music store, no more than they involved a toy shop i suppose, but it would have been just plain rude not to call in. especially, after changing my route accordingly, as i was going straight past it. and yes, of course i went to have a look at the "new" releases.

regular readers are no doubt tired of my complaints about this sort of thing, but here we go again. here is an image of what the record shops here consider to be the worthwhile new releases in the world of music these days.

yep, some sort of new Elton John one and a whole stack of sh!t that for the most part i have not even heard of. bonus points for still having that Daft Punk thing down as a new release, by the way.

still no sign of the recent Primal Scream or Beady Eye albums, but as i already have them i suppose it no longer matters. having being able only to purchase an iTwat "download" of the new Manic Street Preachers album i did at least hope they would have Rewind The Film in stock, as i really want the CD (or if you will "proper version") of the album.

i took a stroll over to the Manics section, then, and found this.

yay. they now stock Postcards From A Young Man. a mere two years after it was released to the world (or is it 3?), you can now get it in stores here. and that is the only Manics album they have.

it looked highly unlikely that i was going to obtain any music as such on my trip, then. but then i noticed they had substantially increased their stock of vinyl, to the extent that it included this record.

a lovely find, and a lovely price. in Sterling, i paid £7 for this, which is very favourable indeed going on the price of it over on amazon. result! sorry, i obviously cannot give the value of the record in $US at the moment, what with the US government closed and presumably as a consequence the currency suspended. nice work, Obama, what a bloody shame you can't stand for President again.

the above is part of a push by Musica to get people interested in buying vinyl, presumably in some way related to the fact that they now stock those class Crosley stags to play them on (there is a post on that somewhere). as they previously only stocked about six records, it's good to see the range expanded. here's an advert of their highlights, although they do (in "selected stores") have many more.

i am particularly amused to see Brothers In Arms by Dire Straits celebrated as being available on vinyl. on original release, a lot of fuss and noise was made about the fact that it was one of the first pop / rock albums to be recorded in digital entire, maximising the quality of those new CD things. it is perhaps one of the few "classic" albums that probably sounds better on CD than it does on record, for that was the format which it was created for.

buying the record was a given, as my (considerably) better half really, really likes Nirvana and she would have been quite cross if i said "well, i saw it, and it was cheap, but i did not bother". i would probably have got hit a bit. that said, there was no way it would fit in my bag, so my idea of easy travel on the train was out of the window. oh well, a very happy accident - nothing but nostalgia for the days when i regularly took a train to town to buy a record.

except town back then was not, of course, full of twats, which was not the case today. which brings us quite nicely to the natural stomping ground of the more uber-twat in Sandton City. ladies and gents, in glorious C64 quality, a picture taken on my iTwat of the iTwat store.

i think you can just about make out the iStore logo there in the corner. 

the iTwat store in Sandton City is the place to go if you have an urgent need to meet pompus, aloof individuals. not the staff, they are probably OK. it just seems that every time i go past the store, which thankfully is not often, it is full of people drawn in to the shiny things, mostly seeing which shiny thing with an Apple logo on will go best with their outfit. yeah, that's a good way to buy technology.

Sandton City would be a considerably more pleasant experience if the iTwat store served its purpose properly. if all the twats and dicks in the place would just congregate there like they are supposed to, standing around looking stylish and whatever, then the rest of us could just get on with shopping. 

as things stand, and i use that word in a most considered way, shopping it Sandton City is to engage in a battle of wits with some of the biggest twats on the planet. people seem to randomly stop for no apparent reason, beyond maybe to look stylish. or perhaps they quite like the prospect of a 40 year old Yorkshireman just barging them out of the way. 

this in itself would be fine i suppose, for i am sure the 40 year old Yorkshireman in question will never, ever tire of barging people out of the way if that is what they wish for. but they do not limit themselves to this. today i had reason to use one of them ATM cash things. the bank had, for best reasons known to itself, decided that the 1st of the month was the ideal time to unleash an all important new video advert on the machine, leaving all but one of them broken. as we queued for the one working machine, we got to enjoy someone deciding that his phone call was more important that getting his money and moving on. banks here tend to have armed guards around them, hence this chap not having his conversation interrupted by the apparently requested punch in the face.

the shopping experience is made no better by them. the simple action of buying a book was nearly thwarted when both tills in the book shop had some sort of "occupy" campaign on the go. at one till some complete twat decided that she urgently had to consult something on her kindle, ereader, iTwat or whatever, and that the sales lady and everyone in the queue "must just wait" whilst she did it. at the other till, a really lovely lad appeared to be in some distress with his chum, another lovely lad, and having a lovely lad conversation about it right there instead of paying and leaving appeared to be the way to do it.

who am i to judge these people? no one and nothing, really. just someone trying to get in, shop, get out. i am sure the special kind of dickhead i have described above exists at all shopping centres, but surely not in the prolific numbers they do at Sandton City. if they did, every shopping centre in the world would have an hourly punch up, surely.

time to leave, then.

that, in C64 scan line glory, is the entrance to the Sandton train station. quite impressive it is, existing just about all underground, bar the entrance bit you see here. sort of like a bat cave thing, i suppose, only without Christian Bale. or him, that guy that was in that film about that thing with the asteroid. you know, that one that did that other film with him out of the Bourne films.

off to the safety of a more normal, civilised type of person, a place where few, if any, come to a stop in front of you for no reason. probably because they are quite used to being barged out of the way.

time for a few more selfie things then, and this first one of the next batch is ace, i have to admit. might use this on a passport or something.

why does the C64 camera take different colour shades as the prime colour to use on a random basis? i have no idea, but it is class that it does. it must be an instinct thing, for it makes me look reasonably decent.

another one? sure, go on then. i tried my best to "angle" the next one, you tell me if it worked!

and so, onwards to the right platform for the very quick Gautrain journey home. a genuine underground platform, no less, looking quite purple in this picture. no doubt this will impress my (considerably) better half a great deal indeed.

even the most experienced of thrillseeker would surely find an amazing rush of adrenalin and excitement at the idea of using an underground rail station here. the successful use of such a place requires dependence on artificial light being provided, with artificial light being dependant on a regular supply of electricity. no such regular supply exists here, and no doubt never will. thus far, to my knowledge, the Gauntrain underground stations have yet to have been thrown into darkness by a blackout, presumably because those Einsteins in charge of Eskom know how much trouble they would be in. it would be like, for instance, if they decided to threaten to switch off the electricity to Nelson Mandela's house over a bill he had already paid. no one could be that stupid, surely.

on to the train, then, and one last selfie for your amusement. to admire or ignore.

i look deep in thought there for some reason, probably just wondering if i had pressed the right button.

and, after a very pleasant and quick journey, that was that, time to wave bye bye to the train. hopefully i will ride on it again soon, mind.

a good deal of this post seems to feel more aggressive and aggravated than it felt at the time, sorry. mostly a pleasant day out, what with me getting done what was required, as well as getting an ace Boba Fett thing and indeed a Nirvana record. i would imagine that if i had driven there this would have been an even angrier post, and featured a lot less pictures.

anyway, onwards to the next adventure. let's see what i think to do next!!!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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