Saturday, May 28, 2005

decision time?

So, work fucked up my pay again. I’m not too impressed. I have a meeting with chef tomorrow, supposedly to sort it all out. I don’t hold much hope for a peaceful resolution so I think I need to start drafting my resignation letter…

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Getting Space

I took a trip to Philip Island with Alison (Andy’s sister) on my days off this week. It’s less than 2 hours trip from downtown Melbourne, but it felt like a thousand miles away. We rented a little two bedroom bungalow right by surf beach. Close enough to smell the salt and a three minute walk through the dunes to the water. Philip Island is known mainly for two things: its grand prix track and its wildlife reserves.
We were out of the city by noon and walking through the dunes to the beach by 2:30.
It was brilliantly sunny (I had to pull the 400 out of my camera in favour of 200), but there was a really cold wind howling off the water. Four layers kept me comfortable as I fired off a roll but my fingers were to numb to wind the film by the end of it. After thawing out with a cup of tea, we headed to the visitors center. One of the big wildlife attractions on the island is the penguin parade (the nightly occurrence of little penguins making their journey from the ocean to their burrows on the shore) so we got tickets to that before heading into town. I found light humor in the name of the town; Cowes, but forgot to take a picture of the welcome to… sign. In town we picked up coffee, fixings for dinner and a copy of Almost Famous to while the evening away. By this time it was nearing 4 o’clock so we headed out to the nature reserve. We were told that the penguins wouldn’t be coming ashore until quarter to six at the earliest so we decided to go a little further up the road to see the seal rocks at an area called The Nobbies. The wind was howling there too so we had a quick look around before bundling back into the car. In the fading light we headed back to the penguin center at the nature reserve and hurried inside. The penguin center is one of the larger tourist traps that I’ve seen but it also had some really neat stuff. Like hot coffee and blankets; very neat. As the sun went down, the temperature dropped and the wind kicked up even more. The area where you sit to watch the penguins is essentially just a couple sets of bleachers that are built into the top of the beach; they are completely uncovered and unprotected. I looked outside to see specks of rain dotting the window and promptly invested in a fleece blanket and a cup of hot coffee. At 5:30 we headed outside to get out seats and wait for the penguins. After twenty minutes of sitting in the cold wind and wet, I may (this is an unconfirmed report) have been heard to mutter “come ON you little buggers, lets get this over with”. Eventually the little penguins did come out of the water, and in groups waddled up the beach and into the bushes along the shore. It was the coolest thing to watch (no pun intended). After nature appreciation time was done, we headed back to the car. Upon returning to the car we discovered that Alison had left the lights on and that , while the lights were still bright, the battery was too flat to crank the car over. After 40 minutes of asking around, a really cool Indian photographer pulled out a set of jumper cables and set us on our way.
Once we got back to the cabin, I put dinner together and we settled in to have a couple drinks, eat good food, enjoy the movie and relax. We did. Some time in the early hours I pulled myself off the lazy-boy and made it to my bed before falling fast asleep again.
I rose a bit after noon and set about getting my stuff ready to go and by 2 we were headed to lunch. After lunch we made a quick pit stop at the GP track. Through a combination of my accent, good looks and charm, I managed to get us in to look at the track for free! I was just like a little kid, taking pictures of everything (kangaroos and race tracks? What more could you want????) and trying to explain (yes I made motorcycle noises) to a much less interested Alison exactly why it was all so cool.
Done with the GP track, we got in the car and headed home. We arrived at my place at 6:30, had a cup of tea, said goodbyes and I was soon asleep in bed…

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Five Months

The Numbers

Number of Kangaroos petted: 2
Number of couches slept on: 3
Number of encounters with poisonous spiders: 4
Number of salads made: 937
Number of times busted by transit police for invalid tram ticket: 1
Number of pictures taken: 3.9GB
Number of Canadians worked with: 4
Number of Swedes worked with: 1
Number of times I’ve tried to go the wrong way round a roundabout: 3
Number of strange looks I get for wearing massive headphones on the tram: 452
Number of times I’ve been asked “what part of America” I’m from: 93
Number of times I’ve politely explained I’m not American: 92
Number of pelicans seen: 3
Number of beer glasses ‘skilfully acquired’ from work: 6
Number of roofs fallen off while playing backyard rugby: 1




so this avro began with going out with some guys from work and having some drinks and lunch. it progressed to Nick and Curtis' place where a backyard cricket game materialised. Highlights include Simon going for a magnificant catch and missing (instead taking out the picknick table, shattering half a case of Heineken and dumping the rest ontp the ground), and me falling off the roof (don't ask). The Cricket game gave way to rugby and the ball was soon lost...
...The ball gets kicked into the yard next door. Simon proclaims that he will retrieve the ball and hops the fence. He ends up in the wrong yard (nearly destroying a clothes line in the process) and climbs the fence into the correct yard. We all are watching him with mild interest. He disappears behind the fence and then we hear “Hey, shit! Ah, guys there’s a dog over here.” We all have a bit of a laugh as Simon talks to the dog. And then something completely unexpected happens. A white object, about the right size for a rugby ball emerges from behind the fence travelling in a very vertical direction. Nick moves in to catch it but stops short. In an instant we all recognize, that it is not a rugby ball at all, but it is the small white dog from next door. It flies up and reaches its apex; hanging there for half a second a vaguely bemused but otherwise placid look on its face. And then, as quickly as it came into view, the dog plunges downward and disappears behind the fence (Simon caught it and it appeared to suffer no ill effects). There is a stunned silence and then we collectively break out into hysterical laughter. Simon clambers over the fence (with all the grace that comes from an afternoon of drinking) holding the ball and acting as if launching a dog halfway into orbit is a completely normal thing to do. “Hey guys! I got the ball back!” he yells and tosses it to me before tripping and falling on his face.

hooray for days off...

Sunday, May 15, 2005

decompression

Tonight was an 'interesting night'.
The menu is supposedly changing on Monday so tonight some of the new dishes were being tried as specials. For those not in the know, this is a fairly common occurrence before a menu change. Tonight I was working larder (traditionally a cold food section). Chef stuck us with two new hot dishes, a new salad, and six (yes, six) new types of oysters. So lets count, hmmm. NINE new dishes in addition to the regular menu items. I could have killed him. Service was intense. There were 160 on the books, but by nights end, we'd done nearly Four Hundred. Larder held together ok despite the circumstances. Not everyone else was so lucky. Grill ran out of Bearnaise halfway through an order for 20 steaks. Fry was being run by two new Chefs (a Canadian who was on his first day and an aussie on his third day). The pasta and fish sections took a particularly hard hit around 9:00 and never recovered. At twenty after 11 we all went outside and took a five minute break. There was very little talking; mostly long empty stares. Nathan, (who has been working in the kitchen 2 weeks) was visibly shaken and broke down as he took massive drags off his cigarette. It made me feel like a veteran.

On a happier note, I made "ah verrry goood a rice" for Fugi San yesterday. It made my day. I will tell you why this is significant another time; when it is not 2am and I'm falling asleep.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

To market, to market...

The Last few Days have been pretty good!
Monday and Tuesday at work I was working grill with Simon. They were two quiet days, low numbers and the 'screaming trio' had days off. It's amazing how much less stress there is when they aren't around. Simon is a really cool guy. He and I get along well and have really started to groove when we work together. He is a good teacher and most importantly, he gives me direction when we are busy instead of just screaming.

Sunday, Mothers day.
Work was INSANE. Over 600 covers. Chef Clint had planned to offer a set menu, and did, but only 30 of them sold and the rest was a la carte. Yikes! Adding to his already 'pleasant' demeanor, the remaining set menu prep didn't move when put on specials, so over $6000 of seafood went straight into the trash.

Monday
I called mum for mothers day while on the tram to work and found out that my mother's day card had indeed arrived in time! I talked to her and dad for a bit and caught up on all the goings on of home. Work was slow and we had a degustation menu competition. Simon and Nick started it, turning out alternating courses, I jumped in and held my own with a couple different things. Which impressed Simon, "you don't always have to be content to just watch little man, well done mate."

Tuesday
Another slowish day. Scott was back in the kitchen but was very quiet. He hadn't been around for the mother's day festivities and arrived to find that Fugi San (the Master Sushi Chef) was in hospital. A quick bit of shuffling happened and Scott ended up on larder. I could hardly believe it; he didn't raise his voice once all day. Sime and I grooved all day. I went upstairs on my break and slept solidly for a full hour.

Wednesday and Today I had off. Last night went to Alison's (Andy's sister) place for a home cooked meal and a movie. Today I went to the Queen Vic Market. I got the BEST CUP OF COFFEE I HAVE EVER HAD. So I wandered around buying food and sipping my divine latte and generally feeling pretty good about the world. My purchases were: Latte from heaven, one bunch bananas, 8 navel oranges, 6 pink lady apples, 400 grams each swedish berries and chocolate covered peanuts, 1 loaf hippy bread (about 1000 grains and of course totally organic), and one tea ball. So now I'm cozied up at home with food, a day off and a handful of DVD's. yaay!
-Tim

oh, and if you are not a member of my immediate family, or amy and you are reading this, please comment! I'd like to know who is out there!

Saturday, May 07, 2005

No pay

So the first thing i did on my break today was check to make sure my pay had gone in. As i read the statement mumble jumble spewed forth by the machine at the Beacon Cove Food Store, I realized that my pay hadn't gone in at all! So much for a peaceful break! I went back to work and asked Sean if he had a few minutes to chat. "sure, sure" he replied "lets go out for a smoke". Outside he had a smoke and i had a breath of fresh air (I'm one of two in the kitchen who doesn't smoke).
"Kay" he said expectantly after a few puffs "what's going on mate?"
"there is no money in my account" I replied, "and its pay day."
"oh thank god" he replied "I thought you were going to tell me you were on heroin or smack or something and needed a boost"
"umm, er, yeah... Not this time chef... Sorry? Just need to know what's going on with my pay..."
"Kay, I'll call the office and ask what those C***'s are up to"

SO apparently the Head office people lost all my paperwork and therefore cannot pay me. This displeases me a great deal, (especially since I'm down to my last 20 bucks in coins) but Chef promises "something to tide you over" till the next pay tomorrow. I decide to take his word for it and get all my forms (that head office lost) filled out again.
Dinner Service starts with a whimper but picks up and is flowing well by 8 o'clock.
At 10 the kitchen closes but the front of house is still letting people in.
By 11 the kitchen is clean.
by 12 kiwi and I are haveing a post work drink at a nearby pub called the 'London Public'
by 12:15 other people from work are there.
by 12:45 we are back on Chapel St
by 1:20 we are playing pool
by 1:30 kiwi has won pool and we are playing pinball
by 1:45 I have Decimated Kiwi on the pinball machine (I finally beat him at something!) and decide to call it quits.
by 2:00 I am nearly home
by 2:15 I'm typing this and deciding to go to bed....

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Warhol

Today I had planned a large exploration expedition across Melbourne. The Expedition began with a tram trip to the NGV (National Gallery Victoria) where there was an Andy Warhol exhibit. (http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/timecapsules/) The remaining expedition plans were shelved and I spent most of the afternoon wandering through the exhibit. It was fascinating. During his life, Warhol made monthly 'time capsules' (essentially cardboard boxes that he threw just about anything into) and it was a selection of these 'capsules' that were on display. Books, telegrams, invoices, letters, napkins, clothes, newspapers, production notes, scrapbooks, pictures and one marzipan cow were all laid out under glass.
There were home photos of Andy and Mick Jagger chilling out at a house party and the bill for the X-rays after he got shot. The letters about and design specs for his exhibit at expo 76 sat near to a whole pile of stuff that he 'skillfully acquired' from the Concorde. There was also several massive projection screens on the walls of the display hall showing excerpts and test reels from some of his films. And yes, there were soup cans (even one of the stencils first used for them) Did I mention it was fascinating? On the way out I got my picture taken in a photo booth. As I was waiting for the pictures to develop a girl ran up to the photo booth, poked her head inside and then retreated a few steps. She stood there, arms open and face aglow, literally quivering with excitement. Then she turned to me "oh my Gawd!" she squealed "this is like soooo Amelie". I figured there must be someone behind me she was sharing this gratuitous excitement with. I turned to check and only saw an empty hallway. I turned back and she was still standing there staring at me eyes wide and mouth agape. "ah, yeah..." I replied. That seemed to satisfy her and with a little jump she disappeared into the booth. I took my pictures and wandered off pondering such excitement. I rationalized that she was excited enough for the both of us and left it at that. It getting late, I wandered to the train station and hopped one to Windsor Station. A quick walk later I was at the grocery store and then home to watch My Restaurant Rules and have a bit of dinner. And now its getting to be bed time. Back at work tomorrow, hopefully my pay goes in this week...
I'll try to keep you posted.
-Tim

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

halfway between the gutter and the spare

I went for my first social outing with work people last night. Kiwi, Cas, Lochie and I all went bowling after work. Well it wasn't my first social outing; on Sunday night Kiwi and I went out and had a few drinks. It doesn’t immediately come to mind as a social outing though. After work the crew sat around having a few drinks because two of the crew were leaving. Soon everyone was bored with sitting in the empty dining room and wanted to go out somewhere. A bar was decided on and everyone started making arrangements to get there. Kiwi and I decided on the tram (cheaper than a taxi). But before we could catch it, one of the servers offered us a ride, we accepted and this is where things get interesting. Kiwi says he wants to make a stop at another bar first to see a friend. By this point (after drinks at work) I was feeling pretty mellow and happily agreed. We got dropped off outside a metal-clad door in a windowless brick wall down a dark side street next to what looked like a scrap metal yard. A mild concern registered somewhere near the back of my mind. Kiwi strides up and pulls the door open and I follow him into a dimly lit room. My eyes adjust to see a room with poker table green carpet, some overstuffed leather couches, a few tables and chairs, two pool tables and a Bar. CCR's fortunate son is playing in the background. Kiwi orders some drinks and we take a seat at a table. We sit and talk (mostly bitching about work) and finish a couple rounds. By this point I was starting to feel pretty wobbly and I mentioned this to Kiwi. He looked at me kind of sideways and then laughed "mind over malt mate, we're up next for pool" I stared back at him. He looked like he was cold sober. And then, in an instant of amazing clarity, I realized he probably was. Kiwi is not by anyone’s mistake a small boy. Standing about 6'4'' and weighing in at a linebacker-crushing-muscle-bound 290+lbs, he could probably be safe to do heart surgery after a bottle of rye. I grabbed a bottle of water downed it in a fruitless attempt to regain some control of the situation. We (and by we I mean I) stumbled through the game of pool and left soon after. Things get hazy from then on with the only concrete recollections being sitting in a bunch of juniper bushes outside McDonalds being inconspicuous (elephant and a blade of grass anyone??) and then ruining it by throwing up, and getting out of the car at home and looking for my keys. We never made it to the other bar.
But back to last night.
Now, I haven't been 10 Pin bowling in a long time and there were predictable embarrassing moments as a result. It was a good time though. And good to see people outside of work. We played 4 games before Cas and Lochie left and then Kiwi and I went head to head for two more. I opened the last game with a strike and a spare but kiwi had drawn even by the 6 frame. It was neck and neck till the tenth when kiwi (with last ball advantage) hammered home two strikes to crush my lead. We went to Hungry Jack's (Burger King), picked up some food and then parted ways. It was a nice walk home in the cool early early morning air. I stayed up a bit longer before crashing.
I slept well, and this morning I got the most awesome present. The other guy moved out! I have a room to call my own! Yaay! Time to put on some tunes and move in for real!
peace,
Tim