Saturday, February 28, 2009

Big Boned

Hey look, Australia is like the US!

Animals

I finally saw some wildlife outside of town that wasn't dead. Yesterday, while suffering through an amazing headwind on a ride, I had a long eared rabbit running with me for 2-300 meters. He was pretty cool. I was tired.

But at least I finally saw something alive!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Everything is different here.

DAMMIT AUSTRALIA.

Do you not make anything simple?

The rabbit is yelling at you because your ways of doing business would never fly ANYWHERE else in the world.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Security Theatre

At least some politician, somewhere said it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Reading Assignments

Here are two articles that I found pretty interesting today. The first was sent to my by Joey, and the second I managed to find all by myself. I'd recommend reading the first only if you've got a reasonable amount of time. Curl up with a cup of coffee at your desk. I bet it beats working. Also, you might want to have some interest in finance and Wall Street.

The second is short, you should read it if you've ever traveled. If you aren't a big traveler, it's a must read.

The End

10 things I've learnt from traveling

Gig Review - Death Cab for Cutie, The Forum, Melbourne

Last night, Shannon and I went to the first of two back to back Death Cab for Cutie Shows at The Forum here in Melbourne. It was my first time seeing the band, and overall I was impressed. A few comments:
-The band rocks a lot harder live than in studio, but in a good way.
-The band didn't waste a lot of time jabbering between songs (in fact, we didn't hear a break until after about number four), so the set list was fairly long (see below).
-The Forum, as you might guess from the name, has a bit of a Roman theme. In fact, the inside looks a bit like The Venetian, in Las Hell. This didn't seem to help out the acoustics, as there was a bit of reverb off of the statue's fig leaf.
-A Death Cab concert in Melbourne (and probably everywhere) is an emo kid magnet. I think I had the loosest jeans at the gig.
-Ben Gibbard grew out his hair, and looks far less emo.
-Chris Walla is clearly the driving force in the band. Also, he is tall, ugly, and based on what he did to that poor keyboard, has some anger issues.
-Nicholas Harmer looks like Jim Morrison back when he had a beard (No, not dead in Paris Jim Morrison). I guess we'll see who reads this thing now... The big difference is that Nicholas jams on the bass like a man possessed, and Jim is super chill.
-Jason McGerr is a good drummer. I'm not sure what else to say about him. He's the most aerodynamic?
-Three of the four musicians showed that they can play at least two instruments. Always impressive, since I can play exactly zero.

The set list was solid, the band sounded pretty tight, and the beer wasn't as horribly expensive as one might have imagined at a concert. All in all, I'd go see them again, and I recommend you do as well.

Death Cab for Cutie Setlist Forum Theatre, Melbourne, Australia 2009

Monday, February 23, 2009

Film Fest

Last night, Shannon and I went to check out the Tropfest Short Film Festival with some friends. We had never heard of it until the day before, but they claim it's the world's largest short film festival. We question this because of the Banff festival, but this event was live in five or so cities in Australia at the same time, so perhaps that's how they judged it. But that's not the point.



We were lucky to have wonderful weather, and it showed from the crowd. We wound up near the top of the amphitheatre, and not really by choice. Some of the films were really great, some not so much, but considering that the whole thing was free, they were all pretty darn good. Also, you get to bring your own food and drink, as in BYO, so it's a good time for everyone.

We also learned that this festival goes to NYC. All you hip New England readers probably already know about it, but if not, it might be worth checking out at a Manhattan near you.

Notes From The Kitchen

More and more, I'm firmly convinced that all you need to cook is a member of each of the following families (in no particular order):
Grease (butter, oil, etc.)
Onions (white, red, green, shallots, etc.)
Wine (wine)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Beach Day

Yesterday, Shannon and I went to Torquay to go spend some time at the beach. It's a pretty popular surf spot, and the town of Torquay is also the start of the Great Ocean Road. It's about 20KM south of Geelong. On the way down, we stopped off in Geelong to see what was going on. Nothing too much, but it seemed like a nice town.

Shannon met some swimmers.



We ran into some unexpected pipers.

video

There was some cool architecture.



Then it was south on B100 to get to Torquay. Despite some threatening clouds and showers in the morning, it turned into a lovely day, and it turns out that Turquay really is quite a nice beach. It's not too built up, and the views are quite lovely. There were lots of windsurfers, kiteboarders, and surfers.



At the south end of the surf beach, there are some great rock formations that you can go explore that separate another beach.



After spending some time at Torquay, we broke out the map, and started working our way around the peninsula that sticks out between Geelong and Torquay. We started out with a stop at Point Impossible, which was basically deserted, and quite pretty. There, we enjoyed a snack and a beer, because, why not?



From the point, it was on to Blackrock Beach, farther north. The name is pretty much spot on.



After spending some time there, it's on to Barwon Head, which we thought was the most eastern point on the peninsula.



Of course, from there, we figured out that it wasn't when we saw a lighthouse to our northeast. So, moving along the coast, we made our way to Point Lonsdale.



Between Blackrock Beach and Barwon Head, I saw some really amazing, desolate, beautiful beaches. If you really want to go to the beach and be left alone to relax, this is probably the best spot I've seen yet to do it in Australia.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

How To Get Out Of Jury Duty

Have your mother write the court a note on your summons. Seriously? I thought I was older than that.

Thanks Mom.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Queensland Animals

Ok. That does it. Between this and the snakes, Queensland officially worries me.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Amazing Sea Life

Thanks Adam, for this interesting tidbit.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Smoke

The wind has changed a bit today, and we see some smoke in the sky today. The sun has a bit of an orange tint.

Keep pulling for the firefighters.

Oven

Our oven works again! Here I come, left over lamb... Watch out!

Global Warming

This proves it.  We must stop global warming.  This can not be allowed to happen again.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Stupidity In The Name Of The Lord

It's good to see that Australia has their fair share of idiot conservative Christian zealots.

Cereal Goodies

Australian cereal boxes come with cricket cards. It's like a baseball card, but you know, for cricket.

Brilliant!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Jury Duty?

In San Francisco? Oh for crying out loud...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Whole State Is On Fire

This is a terrifying and excellent Google Maps mashup with the current state of the fires.

Entire towns have been destroyed. At least 75 people are dead.

And to think - today we went to a festival. Doesn't seem quite right.

Wild Weather

After the heat, smoke, rain, and sun, we get a sunset/moonrise like this.



I really don't get this place.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Hot

Today, Melbourne set a new record - 46 degrees. This beats the record held since 1939. Down at Avalon airport in Geelong, it hit 47.9. That's 114 and 118 degrees F, respectively. I don't think I've ever been in weather that hot before. It was actually sort of interesting. If you were standing in the shade, it was very hot but bearable. The wind, however, was like an oven. The wind brought the heat from the North End, and I'm convinced all day was warmer than ambient.

Victoria is on fire now, as well. There are currently eight fires burning in the state. This morning, the skies were blue. Now, the skies are gray. You can see clouds up there, so you know it's not them - it's smoke. It looks so strange. It's like the blue was dialed out of the sky - like looking at a black and white TV. Far more odd than when we would get LA fire smoke in San Francisco.

Naturally, we spent the day in the Melbourne Museum, because their air conditioning is amazing. Best eight bucks ever. Plus, it's a good museum. Pretty solid Melbourne history information, and a great animal exhibit. They also have an IMAX, and we checked out the Grand Canyon film. Pretty great footage, but Robert Kennedy needs to learn his history or shut his rich mouth. All in all, a great movie to watch on mute.

Update: In the past two hours, it's dropped 30 degrees F and its frickin RAINING. This is such a strange place.

Update 2: I neglected to mention that downtown today was like a ghost town. There were very few cars. There were streets where you didn't see anyone. There was swirling leaves in the streets. Combine that with the black and white sky, and it seemed like something out of a movie. It was actually a bit eerie.

Update 3: That's Robert F. Kennedy, Jr, for clarity. I do know that Sr. is dead.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Speaking of cheap things...

I bet you can get a steal of a deal on office space in downtown SF right now.  Amazing.


More cheap flights to Australia

Farecompare.com told me about this little gem.  Visiting here is cheap, all things considered.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Bacon

To continue the theme of everything being better with bacon, you can now view this blog (or any website you like) with a delicious bacon overlay.

Enjoy.

Pride

Sunday was the annual Pride Parade here in Melbourne, and where else would it be than right down the street, here in St. Kilda?

Now, having been to similar events in San Francisco, I wasn't sure what to expect. In the end, San Fran is bigger, more festive, and more elaborate (and downtown), but this was pretty solid, and the turnout was good (although, again, not SF).

Here are some pictures of some participants. There are plenty more, but they are not as safe for work. If you desire, email me.

And show some respect. Doc brought a frickin DeLorean.





Even the religious groups and cops were there.





So was this "lady."

Bendigo

Last Saturday, Shannon and I went up to Bendigo on the advice of one of her coworkers. The word was that it's the quintessential Australian town. In retrospect, I can see how that is. It's a lot like a small town in Middle America. At the time, we were both sort of asking ourselves, "what the hell are we doing here?" but that may have had more to do with the heat than anything. After the heat finally broke in Melbourne, we went inland where it was still hot, because we are not smart people.

Anyway, it was a pretty cool little town, quiet, but with some cool architecture to take in.



One of the views from the observation tower atop the highest hill in town.



The down has a lot of Chinese history, going back to the gold rush in the late 1800s. There is a museum in town that discusses the gold rush a lot, but gives very little mention (albeit, some) to the idea that the Chinese were there first, and the European settlers took it over. Sounds sort of familiar. But, for their troubles, there is a Chinese garden, which seemed mostly nice, but had no shade, and thus, got little attention.



Also, there are 30ish wineries in the area, so on a cooler day, that could be a good draw. We checked out one (eight minutes after it opened, thank you) and found the wares to be satisfactory.

People drinking the recycled water was clearly an issue. Note the babbling brook in the background.



When we decided that we were done with 44 degrees, we headed southwest to gold country. There is a reserve where a significant amount of mining took place back in the day. If the pictures we saw in the museum are any indication, the workers didn't have to dig very deep to get it. What might you find these days in the gold mining reserve? Well, a lot of nothing, but it was actually quite cool. We believe it to be the most "outback" that you'll find in Victoria (The Garden State), but we'll keep exploring and report back.

I presume because of the immigrant influence that came for gold, there are a number of creatively named crossroads (and seriously, not much else) in the reserve. Naturally, I had a favorite.



From here, we went south, and drove across the Great Dividing Range to get back to Melbourne. It was quite pretty and lush. We pulled into a waterfall that had been reduced to a trickle. We aren't sure if this is a sign of drought, or a typical mid-late summer occurrence, noting that Yosemite Falls turns off routinely, too.

Still no success seeing any (living) wildlife. The scorecard for this trip was one bloated, stinky, dead wombat. Better luck next time.

Bacon Madness

Thanks, Joey, for showing me this one.

A little over the top?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Everybody Wants Some

Obamania strikes again.

Airline Food

While I often try to leave the airline commentary to the many other bloggers that write about it, this one made me chuckle.

It would seem that this man didn't like his food flying from India to England. So Sir Richard offered him a job.

Local Eats

Everything's bigger in Australia - world's largest green onions



And the sea kittens look fierce

Travel

I've been pretty horrible about updating the blog this week. Last Friday, I flew back from San Francisco after meetings in Seattle. Normal flight, save a two hour maintenance delay. Nothing that we couldn't make up for. I stopped off in Sydney, where I met up with Shannon, and we did a bit of touristy stuff. She had come up the day before and gone to see a lot of the things I saw the first time I was there, so we hit the ferry (after a jug, of course) and went to Manly beach. It was quite pretty on that side and we got to hang out on the beach for a bit. I guess it's the Tasman Sea at that point, but I'm not quite clear where the Sea meets the Pacific.

We opted to fly back to Melbourne Monday morning on UA, so that we could be back in time for Australia Day festivities. While there was plenty of good stuff going on in Sydney, the flights we would have needed to try for on Qantas would have wrecked the afternoon, so we opted to go early. We went to a park near the CBD where there was a carnival type thing going on with barbecues, exhibits, demonstrations and general revelry. We also hit up the Chinese New Year celebration that wasn't far away and had some tasty food. And in what seems to me like true Australian form, we went to the Young and Jackson's Hotel for a beer tasting party, with samples from five Australian microbrewers. Most of them were good. We are starting to figure out that there is actually some good beer in the country, which is nice. If you're going to pay top dollar, it might as well be good. What later turned out to be one big study abroad group, the hotel seemed to be swarmed with Americans. We couldn't figure out why, but since they came as one group, it makes sense. They were also rather stupid. Sigh. Kids.

The week that followed brought record high temperatures, which of course doesn't suit me at all. For four days, it was 43 degrees C, which is about 110 degrees F. So, I basically holed up under the AC vent, and worked. I only rode one day last week, and it was bloody miserable, even being home by 10. The heat broke, to some degree, but it's still summer time. It's odd having this season back. I think it's my least favorite!