Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas to anyone who checked in. I haven't been at the blog writing as I've had other things going on. Mostly finishing exams, and then going home for the holidays to cheerfully spread my somewhat cranky attitude among the relatives. It helps remind them why they decided to send me to another continent. 

Anyway. 

Hope you all have a wonderful holiday!!


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween from Oz!

I was going to write this in Orange, but there isn't a nice shade of orange in the options tab. All well. Anyway.
HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!!


It's already Halloween here in Aus, so I thought I'd dig through my pictures and unearth a jack-o-lantern I (or possibly Mom) carved a few years back. There IS a party going on tonight for Halloween, which I won't be going to because it's in a pub... 

I don't drink. 
I'm not fond of being around drunk people.
Therefore, I'm not going.
BUT
I will be watching a couple of scary movies while I write out my Japanese homework.
Hope you have a fun and safe Halloween

... if you celebrate it that is.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Three Little Minions

They do so love to play Totem.
Thought I'd just put this in for the nieces and nephews, as they sent these to me a long time ago, and I took pictures and I never managed to get them up on the blog. I call them, the three little minions. Normally they sit in an array on the window cell, but sometimes I need a place to lay out socks that the dryer has failed to dry (do no get my started on dryer failure) and I stack them to one side. For reasons unknown to me, this time when i stacked them, it sort of told a story. 

It appears the Hen can see everything, and Cow and Pig can't due to them having bellies in their eyes. Then I realized that it is in fact only Pig that can't see anything at all, because Cow, has a smiley face on the end of his nose. LOL! Yes, I'm easily amused, especially when I'm tired. 

Anyway, these guys were sent to keep me and another plushie company. I can him the Proboscis and he is supposed to the leader of the three little minions. However, he hasn't been over to check them out of late. I did tell him he had three minions and his response?

We are still unsure if the Proboscis is an exceedingly rotund mouse with a long nose, or an exceedingly small pudgy elephant.

Yes, Yes! This pleases the Proboscis!

Doesn't he look excited? I have absolutely no idea what he's planning, but we'll see.


Monday, September 23, 2013

... it's supposed to be spring....

Cherry (Plum???) Blossoms
It's supposed to be spring here, but I haven't seen any evidence of it yet. Well, not quite true. About 3 weeks ago, the cherry (possibly plum) trees on campus bloomed in a weeks period of time. This picture was taken on the only day that week with clear blue skies. That night, it rained, with high winds and thunder and lightening. It was fun sitting in my little cubby hole listening to howling wind, and feeling the room sway gently in the breeze. 

Please note that I'm on the 5th floor, and there are two floors above me. 

The result was that all the blossoms were gone the next day. All the leaves are gone from the Jacaranda tree outside my window. And it has continued to storm like crazy for nearly 3 weeks straight. Even the days where its not pouring down rain, it's overcast with gusts of wind that send the large rolling bins on a merry stroll down the sidewalk. They're on wheels, so I suppose it's not that surprising, unless like me, you were just about to turn the corner and get mowed down by an errant bin. 

Yet another rainbow
So, the skies look like this. LOTS of rainbows lately. Like 10 a day because of all the moisture in the air. I've lost interest in oooing and aaahing over them now. Although, it makes it easy to tell who is new on campus, because they stop and gawk, point, take pictures like crazy and then talk about it non-stop for about 15 minutes. It takes a while for them to realize that rainbows happen here if you sneeze in just the right direction. Ah, how indelicate of me. Apologies, but I've reached the stage in the semester where I've ceased to care how I do on tests, essays and people's general opinions. I call it the Apathy stage.

So this is what the skies looked like today for about 10 seconds, before a gale came up, blew all these clouds away and proceeded to dump half a gallon per minute, while the wind sent it sideways.

10 seconds of Sunset
The birds are soggy, yet still trying to impress members of the opposite sex. The girls so far have been unimpressed with the whole soggy affair.

Soggy Red Wattle Bird... Girlfriend was unimpressed
The storms themselves have had winds ranging from 75 to 90 mph at night, between the hours of 2 and 5 a.m., at which time it happily throws large metal object into the air, breaking all kinds of things in the process. Why? Because obviously it doesn't want anyone to have a good night's sleep. As a result, I look like this:

Original obtained from redpepperwallpapers
Hopefully the rest of you out there have been getting enough sleep, and aren't having to write essays that you've spent so much time researching: that you've lost interest in them and just want the whole thing to go away.

Smirkles 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Mummies and a Picasso

During my six weeks off from Uni (which I really really needed) I managed to leave my little apartment to go see things at the local museums and at the art gallery. There were two exhibits that I wanted to see, one was called Secrets of the Afterlife, and the other one was about paintings from .. well basically the masters. Van Gogh, Matisse, Klimt (hopefully I'm spelling these right) etc. Both exhibits are at different museums, but within easy walking distance of one another. 

I have fond memories of visiting the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum when I was little. The deal was, that every summer I'd visit a set of grandparents for a week. During that week my grandmother would go to the salon to get her hair done and nails touched up. Neither my grandfather or I wanted to sit there for several hours and wait for her, so we would always go to the museum and wander around in there for a while. When we went it was fairly dark inside, with spotlit exhibits, so that it felt like you were going into a tomb. I have no idea if it's still like that today, since I haven't been back in years and years, but I still loved it. My grandfather used to try to explain things to me, but for reasons that are totally beyond me I could never understand a word he said. Believe me, it still annoys me. After touring the museum we'd go for ice cream at a place called Farrells... I think. Like I said, it was a long time ago, so the memories are sort of hazy. In the end, I've got a soft spot for Egyptian exhibits.

So, finding that one of the local museums had a Egyptian exhibit (which I think originally started touring multiple museums around the world... because most of the materials said British Museum on them) I definitely was going to go. The first time I went, I didn't end up seeing it because it required separate tickets, it was crowded, and I was technically there to take photos for my Photo Work class. Truthfully though, it tends to be the amount of people that decides me on things, and there were too many people. Too many people for me... means breathing problems, a vicious mouth, and above all else, a huge need to run away. So I did, but came back a few weeks later when exams were over and I had time to putter and I went at lunch time. This means that everyone is eating lunch, and only a few neglected staffers are manning the exhibit. Given that there were few others there, I got to monopolize the volunteers who aren't technically museum staff, but DO possess a wealth of knowledge concerning the exhibit topic... which was all about the afterlife. 


The Goddess Sekhmet
I won't try explaining it, because I can't remember everything that was said about every figure, scroll, tablet, tool, sculpture, sarcophagus, mummy, canopic jars, and everything else, but I'll show the pictures I took of some of it. Picture taking was allowed as long as you didn't use flash, which is fairly standard practice. No worries with me though. I hate using the flash.

The museum was selling a book about the exhibit which I now wish I had purchased. At the time I was thinking, "My room is tiny, and I don't want to fill it with stuff that's just going to gather dust." If I had the book, I'd be able to tell you about all this stuff, and make this post a lot less boring than it already is. Sorry, but I'll just have to muddle through it. From what I remember the statue of Sekhmet was found inside an undisturbed tomb, and she's also the only statue in the entire exhibit that size that retained her nose. Her arms however didn't fair so well, and were apparently gone when the tomb was opened. 
Amenhotep (can't remember which one) Shabti

Anyone who has seen the movie the Mummy will probably remember the name Amenhotep? Perhaps not... Anyway, there have been several Amenhoteps and I can't remember which one this is, but I think it's Amenhotep II. This isn't actually him, but it's made to be him in every way that would've counted for a high class personage like himself. This is his Shabti. The ancient Egyptians believed that the next world was one where work was still needing to be done. Which meant, fields needed tending, writing still needed doing, etc. But, gee, you just got done with a life of work if you were lower caste, and for high class individuals, the thought of having to do actual labor in the next life was NOT appealing. That's where our little shabti friend comes in. He's made to look like you, and is inscribed with instructions that tell you how you get him to do all the afterlife work for you, so you can kick back and take it easy. Personally, I consider this cheating, but hey, every culture has it's own moral system. I have to wonder though.... What happened if the Gods figured out you were just screwing around in the afterlife while your clone was running around doing all the work. I've asked this question before, and apparently it's never actually come up in research/studies. Perhaps they ancient Egyptians never had that thought occur to them. Usually I get blank stares when I ask museum know it alls about it.


Wood tablet with instructions for the Afterlife
I love this tablet for it's colors and because it's made of wood. Wood. 4,000 year old wood. It boggles my mind. How the hell did they make paints that remain vibrant that long, and what kind of sealant did they use to keep the wood from crumbling to ash over the years. I know part of it has to do with it being in a sealed undisturbed tomb, but ... wow. This tablet was in beautiful condition. Only a few crumbling parts to be seen. 

The guy who was one of the fonts of knowledge they had wandering the exhibit basically tried to pour a cement truck sized load of information into my ear, which was great... but at the time my brain was fried from exams, so I could only take in so much. So, here is what I DO remember of what he said about this tablet, and this may be totally wrong, as he was sort of verbally wandering in his descriptions. When someone was entombed, instructions were left from the Book of the Dead on what to do to get into the afterlife. I think this is one of the instructions, as the person is offering food and other goodies to Horus, who is on the left with the sun on his head. If you didn't make a good impression, you didn't get to move on. Basically, you didn't get to move on to see Anubis, Thoth and Ammit ... well actually if you got to see Ammit it was generally very fast from the outside, and then a long span of time seeing Ammit's insides, because if you saw her, it meant that you were a very wicked person, and your soul wasn't lighter than a feather. And she got to eat you. *slurp*

This exhibit was fun because it was interactive. At the entrance you are asked to randomly draw a card from a jug/pot/bowl which has a picture of an ornament representing an ancient Egyptians spirit/heart. On the way out you find the real item, and say the person's name aloud to help guide them to the afterlife. Its a little cheesy, but so many places just have things you stare at instead of actively working with it. At the end of the exhibit you have to balance the scales to leave. I liked it, and so did a lot of the kids who were just catching up as I was leaving. 


"Violin and Grapes" Picasso
The second museum, I will have to go back to, because it was something of an odd day. I was with a friend and we were talking a lot, so I didn't get a chance to really look at all the artwork and instead was concentrating on what my friend was saying. She also walks faster than me. When I go to look at an exhibit, I tend to spend hours looking at things. I also didn't have my camera with me. It was supposed to be doing a torrential downpour that day... and it never did. So I left my camera home for no good reason. I did however have my iPhone on me, and I frequently forget that it's got a camera in it and it's the only reason I have this single picture of a Picasso still life. Normally, Picasso is not my favorite, because I find his work somehow broken and disconnected and somewhere on a deeper level unsettling. But "Violin and Grapes" doesn't strike me that way. It's warm somehow and has a depth to it that isn't in most of his other work. Maybe it's all the shadow play, or the wood that provides a comfort to the usual shards and edges, but I think this lowly still life is my favorite of his works. It's alive somehow...  Actually that's sort of an amusing statement, because somewhat opposite this painting was a modern work also involving a violin. It was called the self playing violin, and indeed as it perched atop it's little pedestal the sound of a violin flowed from it's insides without the use of a human or a bow. 



Okay. I really have to do some homework now. 
I think I've procrastinated enough. ;)


Monday, July 15, 2013

After Several Weeks of Rest....

... i'm still exhausted. 

I suspect it's because during the semester I run on adrenaline and very little else. Nerves are incredible things are they not? I'm not sure how things are for other people, but when I've got a job, a project, school work, assignments.. etc, I'm generally a wreck worrying if I got things right, or if I spent enough time on something. Did I put enough information into this paper, or that project... 

Basically, I'm a ball of anxiety 24/7. And no, being on winter break doesn't do anything to alleviate the condition.

Have I ever not felt that way? 

hmmmmm...

Yes. For a full 5 minutes 6 years ago on Frasier Island off the coast of Queensland. They have different coloured fresh water lakes there, and at one of them that I visited, for whatever reason, all my cares and worries were gone for 5 minutes. It was a typical small blue lake, with long green reeds growing to one side that were bent nearly horizontal by the breeze. No one was there, and it felt lonely. According to the people I was with I sat down almost as soon as I was on the beech, but I don't remember doing it. I just wanted to stay there. The peace ended rather abruptly after 5 minutes when two of my traveling companions got into an argument over something I considered petty. I'd put up a picture of the place, but I don't have those photos with me. 

Last week I felt at peace for about 10 seconds when I took a string of photos of a sunset over the student housing where I live.

Sunset in July, WA, Australia
And I'm always fairly relaxed when I'm taking pictures of birds for fun. The photo class I took wasn't all that fun, because I wasn't able to take pictures of things that I like. Instead I took photos to make the teacher happy, which paid off in a way I guess. Stressed me out because I was having to read minds, but that's done now, and I passed with good marks. Yay!!

Gallah in Western Australia, ... camping out on a flood light.
Thankfully there are no shortage of different birds to get pictures of, whether they be bright pink and out during the daytime or generally seen during the night hunting insects and small mammals. My little owl friend is my favorite though and is always willing to hold still for me to take pictures. The owl always makes me smile.

The Campus Boobook Owl. Ridiculously cute.
Of course there is also the Moon. I take way too many pictures of the Moon here, but I can't really help it. It's just so close, and the colour variations tend to be spectacular. So a lot of my photo library is filled with night pictures of it. I guess this sort of compliments the owl. And the rest is filled with birds... and if I've been to an Aquarium, fish. I went to the Aquarium at Hillary's the other day and forgot to take my camera with me. I'll have to go back if I have time. It's a neat aquarium, and there's a little shopping place to go to afterwards. :)

An Orange Moon. Very frequent colour here.
And the things that really keep my from becoming a complete mess are the British Mysteries I like to watch, and of course Anime. Calms me right down most of the time when I've been freaking out over something for too long. I'm happy to say that I've just been watching those for fun of late, instead of as a pacifier. Got my results late last night, and I passed everything, which is all I wanted really. :) So, I'm good for right now. I'll have to see if I can post again before I go back to classes on the 29th. I didn't just spend all my time sleeping and staring at TV shows during the winter break. There were actual outings to museums and .. well, already told you about Hillary's. No pictures, so... 

Anyway, I'm good for now. Passed my classes and I'm happy about that.

Must remember to post about museum adventures.
... and possibly anime...

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Post exam exhaustion

Okay. I'm alive and I think I managed to survive all my classes. Maybe. 
Japanese is going to be iffy, because we had a LOT thrown at us last minute and frankly its such a mishmash in my head I'm not sure what I know anymore. 
And I know for a fact I didn't do well on my Aural or Oral testing for Japanese. I was okay for the first few words and then it went totally out of control. Like someone sending one of those old fashion wooden fruit carts down a flight of stairs. It starts out slow, with a few bumps, and then it gains momentum... and by the end, there's fruit laying everywhere, smashed, broken, bruised, with one bent cartwheel spinning without much energy above the entire mess, as if trying to figure out what had just happened.

Yes, that was basically how the Aural exam (listening test) went for me... and we will not speak of the Oral exam in which I participated in a skit with my group, and then supposedly answered questions one on one with the teacher. I say supposedly because I can't remember anything after the skit.

At all. 

Nothing. 

My mind is apparently like a dry erase board. 
If the brain can't handle it, then it gets swept from my memory. Either that or it's being harbored in one of the many cupboards of my mind until I can handle looking at it, which I seriously doubt because that hasn't happened yet. It's just gone.

In the meantime.... 

from the ever popular meme cheezeburger site; seemed fitting.

I will be sleeping lots, because I have been running on no sleep for a LONG time now, and my diet has  been... awful so to speak. There was an entire week were I ate nothing but carrots because I was too busy studying. It was also because I hadn't had time to get to the store in the last 4 weeks. Yesterday I managed to go and get food. Actual food. As in food groups that involved more than fruit and veggies, which is good for the most part, but it does odd things to my insides after a while. 

So, I shall be eating correctly starting this week, and sleeping whenever I feel like I need a nap, because honestly I'd like to stop feeling like the walking dead. My friends here just tell me to drink coffee...

My response?

Also courtesy of cheezeburger meme. Also appropriate.

Yeah.. that's about the long and the short of it.
I am beyond tired and I think I broke my brain. It really does hurt to think, so I'm giving it time to recover, before I reintroduce it to the first 4 chapters of my Japanese text book. I will be damned if I go back into my classes next semester feeling like a total moron. Okay, so there exist materials that could prove that I do have aspects of moron-ness within my personality, but I'd really like to curb that particular tendency.

Shockingly, I had 3 other classes this semester, which for some reason, don't seem as important at the moment. But they are, especially if I didn't pass one of them. The one that was giving me fits for most of the semester was Photography. This was not the simple digital thing, this was the manual, load the film, set the ISO, set the aperture, set the shutter speed... and hope the blasted little green light for the internal light meter lights up green. I got to develop my own film. I got to print my own film. I got to spent appalling amounts of time doing prints... It's insanely time consuming. 

And I like doing it all.  

I would've loved doing this class alone, by itself, without any other distractions. But I need a full course load, so.. it was taken as an elective and it turned into a monster, because it's like two units rolled into one. Never doing that again. But sometime in the future when I have time, I would love to come back to it. By the end I was doing really well in it. And the teacher was not happy when I said I wasn't doing the next course in photography. I just can't. I don't have that much free time on my hands. 

My other two classes were fine. One was a history class on criminal underworlds and the other was a humanities class about being more... open minded towards the rest of the world. Basically the entire course was on Cosmopolitanism. Which is nice, but ... somewhat boring after a while.
I think I did alright in both of these classes and I'm not too worried.

Photography I already know my grade it, so I'm not worried about that one at all.

Japanese... *sighs* I really love learning this language, but I don't think I did well at all this time around.

Aw well. If I failed it, I just go home. 

.... i hate giving up though. 


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Thank You for the Monsters Ray


As I was hastily checking email this morning, and tying my shoelaces and dragging out my bag of photography stuff for class, I came across a small blurb on one of the anime sites I like to visit. It wasn't all that noticeable but it had a lot of responses on it. 

It was a note to let people know that Ray Harryhausen had passed away at the age of 92. If you have no idea who this man is, you have undoubtedly seen his work, in the original Clash of the Titans, Jason and the Argonauts, or perhaps Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. Ray worked on many other films, so those were just a few. He was a stop motion animation GENIUS. I hear lots of complaining about time spent on computers in the labs here for the animation/CGI classes... and frankly, I would like to see them sit down and try manual stop motion animation once. 

I seriously doubt they'd have the patience. 

Mr Harryhausen was someone I never met, but I seriously admired his work, and the world feels a bit smaller with him gone. 

Rest in Peace Ray. You will be missed.


They used to let me size the clips to fit the format of the page, but apparently they don't want you to do that anymore. :P Anyway, enjoy the above clip, as it gives a fairly thorough tour of the imagination of Mr. Harryhausen.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Secret Singers

 Its fall here in Australia. The weather is getting cooler, and I don't see as much variety in the bird world around here. However, apparently magpies stay year round. I've never had a day here when these black and white clad miscreants aren't getting into something they're not supposed to, which lands them in trouble sometimes. Like getting stuck in a garbage can, because they could haul themselves through the protective rubber flat to get inside, but couldn't go the other way. Yes, I let it out. One can only stand a squawking garbage can for so long before having to put a stop to it. Plus it's parents/family were going berserk trying to get it out. Please note, that attempting to rescue said magpie was a bit dangerous as it's family decided I was also a threat and dive bombed me.  Good thing I had a heavy bag with me to fend them off with. 

Making sure the coast is clear. (it wasn't)
Anyway, aside from being extremely protective of family members magpies sing. They sing in warbling fluting liquid tones that remind me very much of water, although I couldn't tell you why. The funny thing is, when they sing, they like to hide it. Its like they're embarrassed that they can make beautiful sounds, and like many humans, only like to sing in private. It was months before I realized that the croaking cawing magpie was the same bird that hid way up in the tree canopy to sing liquid notes throughout the day. They seem to prefer trees with dense foliage when they decide to be singers. If you can't see the branches in the tree, then they're probably in there preparing their next concert.  They're fairly careful about it too. If they see another bird (and it doesn't matter if it's another magpie or not), a human, a dog, a car... whatever it may be, they'll wait until your gone. If they think you can see them, they remain silent. 

Singing in the Rain (yes, seriously)
For this extremely fuzzy photo (it was raining) I had to wait several hours before I got him fluting. He'd see movement in the window and he'd go quiet, or make all sorts of croaking complaints to his cohorts in the tree with him. Eventually he became complacent and I got a couple of pictures of him singing... and then he moved when he realized I was taking pictures. No flying, he just walked up the branches into deeper cover and then started singing again. A couple of his family members took his vacated spot and took turns glaring at my window. Apparently I have broken some law of Magpie protocol by viewing the singing from my window. Granted, they were there first, and I guess I could technically be called a peeping tom. I DO watch them from my window after all, and worse yet, snap pictures. 

Good lord.... 
I'm the bird paparazzi 

*sighs*

P.S. Sorry for not posting too often. I've got classes going and I made the mistake of taking a photography class and a term language unit at the same time. Lets just say that was NOT a good idea, because it barely leaves me time enough to breath let alone anything else.

So, I may be a bit scarce for a while. Five more weeks and I then I'm done with the first semester.

thank god. 
O.O



Friday, April 5, 2013

Grover for the Win

Three years ago, I posted about Grover from Sesame Street and the spoof they did of a certain commercial. While wasting time... uh... exploring YouTube I came across it again, and I decided that it needs another posting for posterity if nothing else. The original post only had the Grover spoof, this one allows you to view (and it's not a waste, because it's funny as hell too) the spoofee, and then the spoofer. Here ya go.


Everyone needs a good laugh, and this certainly made my night of anxiety based insomnia seem less problematic. In fact, I might actually be able to get some sleep tonight. Because for the last month I've been feeling a lot like Lambikins in this picture. Even the aloof Mr Kitty has been concerned.


Yeah, I know. I've given my stuffed animals personalities, but I'm used to having pets, and can't have any here, so.... stuffed animals with personalities it is. A healthy imagination is a good thing. The only plus side I can find in that picture is that  so far, my head hasn't fallen off, although it's certainly felt like it should during research essay work.

... someone remind me why going to Uni was a good idea...

Ah... it's 3 a.m. Bedtime. My days are officially all screwed up.

Anyhow. Hope you enjoy Grover. 

:D



Saturday, February 23, 2013

Between 5:30 & 6:30....

 Between 5:30 and 6:30 in the evening, is the hour of the giant Kingfisher. Or rather, it's the hour in which the neighborhood Kookaburra family finds a roosting spot for the night. They live in large family groups, in fact I think this one is rather big, given the 12 members I see flying past. They pause on the big light posts overlooking the Australian Bowling Lawns, in groups of 3 or 4 and call (I just can't call it singing), letting everyone in the vicinity that this is their area and other Kookaburra families are not welcome. The calls are unbelievably loud when you're close up, and I can hear them calling even when they're miles away. Every morning the first call I hear clearly from a bird is the Kookaburra family that lives/sleeps in the park. They generally start in before 5:30 a.m. when it's light enough for them to fly safely. This is the bird you most often hear in movies whenever the main characters are in a jungle of some sort.... which is something short of improbable as they inhabit one of the most arid places on earth. And they only live in Australia. You won't hear this bird in the jungles of Africa, Central America, South America or in Asia... Unless you're in Papua New Guinea or in Northern Australia where there is rainforest and jungle. I think they do have some there, but I could be wrong. They aren't strong fliers for distances.

The pictures aren't the best, but I was taking them from some distance, and I was trying to be fast as they don't stay in one place long, unless they're calling, and even then it's a race to get the pic before they stop and move on. Once they're in the gum trees you're out of luck, because they hide well up in the branches for the night. 

Anyway, I was lucky enough to catch them as they made their flood-light pit stop on the way to their roost. They're as regular as clockwork about this too. I always know when dinner time is because they're out there creating an almighty racket before their bedtime. Then they spend another 20 minutes or so babbling amongst themselves while they get ready for bed. They're not the only ones doing that though. At about the same time, although generally a bit later, the Rainbow Lorikeets arrive shrieking and squeaking and settling down in some tree somewhere out in the park. I haven't figured out which one it is yet.

It seems that here in Perth, it's all about the birds. I know there are other animals lurking here, but you rarely see them. Then again, I live well inside the city/suburb area, and my guess is that creatures of the larger land bound variety don't venture in this far. Nor have a need to. Much of Western Australia is uninhabited, except by its regular natural critters. 

Here is a bit better picture of a Kookaburra, but this one isn't wild. Well, he was wild, but he was hit by a car, and can no longer fly, so he resides in the Sydney Wildlife park with a girlfriend. It was a little cold the day I was there, so he was all puffed up, but still alert and watching everyone who was watching him. If you are curious about what they sound like, so you can pick it's call out of the movies, click here. Surprise! That wasn't a monkey! LOL!

I do really love all the birds I see here. We have birds at home too, but not like this, and the calls (with the exception of the American Robin, and the Western Tanager) just do not compare. They make me smile even before I'm fully awake in the morning... even if it IS before 5:30 a.m.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

After the Revenge Cold... Toys!

As the title indicates, I did survive a revenge cold. This happens when you survive a cold, get over it entirely too fast for the cold's liking, and it harbors a few survivors so it can attack later with reinforcements. In short, it wasn't a pleasant two weeks. 

But eventually I did resurface and decided to needed to move around, so I went down into Perth and puttered around a bit. I also got groceries, which was something of a necessity considering I'd eaten just about everything I had on hand. Stuff that you stock away for later if/when you can't get to the store, or like me, were just too sick to go. Although I did make a quick jaunt to get toilet paper. That tends to be a need when you're sick with a head cold, that turned into a throat cold... that morphed into other things for which I was not appreciative. Yes, obviously I'm holding a grudge.

On my excursion out to Perth, I decided to stop at Empire Toys just to look around. They've got a really good selection of different collectors items from everywhere. You name it, they've probably got it or they can get it, or tell you HOW to get it if they can't. Nice people. :) Anyway, I found a wallscroll for my extremely empty walls, which I've really only got two of that have space. While they were ringing up my purchase they asked if I would be going to the anime convention that coming weekend. "Um, I didn't know about it." I stammered, as I took stock of how well I felt. Did I really want to wander around in a place I'd probably like while feeling wretched? Hmmm. I decided I did, and I went. I did try to get tickets before hand, but you could only get them online and the site did not like me.... So, I stood in line for 45 minutes when I got there. LOTS of people. Tooooo many people! But, I wanted to look at the dealer room, so after I got my wristband for the day I went and sat down for about half an hour, away from people and read a book. And had an iced decaf coffee. Nice!

The dealer room was enormous... and not full, but I'm not complaining. I spent quite a while wandering around the place and not seeing much of anything except the backs of people looking at merchandise. I did find Empire Toys towards the front, and waited for a space so I could look too. 

Generally when I go to these things, I don't get anything. Or if I do, it's small and useful, like a coin purse, or a keychain, or some other inconsequential thing. But I had been eye-balling some of the One Piece Figures at the shop. Honestly I was looking for a Luffy figure, but of course when I got back from the states, it had sold. Ah well. More will eventually come out. 

Anyway, they had a couple of Sanji figures that were fairly nice. And the more I looked at this one, the more I liked it. So I went ahead and bought one. (Sorry about any dust you may see on my desktop. It's a daily battle trying to get all of it. I'm honestly not sure why I bother, it just comes back the next day.) They have another one from the New World too, and my age old question of "Does Sanji actually have two eyes?" was answered. I'm trying not drop too much info here... Anyway, I might end up with that one too... Maybe not. 

For me there are no favorites in One Piece. I love the whole crew for totally different reasons. There are others in the show I absolutely detest, but that's alright because you're supposed to hate them with a passion. Lower scum has never been born... 

Once I bagged Sanji (yes, literally), I moved away from the table/booth so someone else could squeeze in, and started looking around again. Towards the back of the room where food vendor is located there was a small booth with stuff animals. Cute... strange, mutant stuffed animals. I've never seen anything quite like them before, and this is because the lady who ran the booth makes them. She designs them, created an entire story about them, and makes them by hand. .... I couldn't help myself. I've always liked stuff that was oddball. I got one, and brought it home. 


This is Lambikins. At least that's the name it came with. 
According to it's little brochure, it's a specially made one for Valentines Day, which is coming up here in the not too distant future. Hence it's little heart eye. The scars are because in the story it's part of a group of friends that has one rather violent member. In fact the tea party friends got together one afternoon, and sewed her mouth shut while she was napping, so she would stop biting them....

I can understand that....


Lambikins isn't your run of the mill sheep. Firstly, he's pink, has a black band on his ear (ear tag???) and four arms.... Yep. Four arms. The more to hug you with my dear... The brochure also mentioned that Lambikins likes to dress up in Wolf's clothing. No evidence of this yet, but I'll keep on eye on that. 

I had lots of fun posing him for pictures, and he poses himself too when your back is turned. Made for some rather entertain surprises. He's also managed to scare the heck out of me by falling from the window cell into the center of the floor. I'm still suspicious of this, as to get that far, he'd have to leap....

Anyway, it was all fun and games until he broke.


No Worries!
Just a joke! He's made so that his head comes off.
He's the "Oops! My Head Came Off" version of Lambikins. Apparently there are many more disturbing variations for several different stuffed animal friends. I just got lucky with this one, since it's the first once the lady made like this. She said she's been having all sorts of fun with it too. People would pick it up fast, and the head would fall off, and they'd be horrified. 

I like her sense of humor. >:)


See? All better. I had him sitting in the window for quite a while, but he'd fall over, or leap from the window... or just plain do odd things. This is the east facing window, and I suspect that he doesn't like the sunlight. I've moved him to my desk so he can lurk near the tissue box. You just never know what'll happen when you've got a plushie who's head can come off. 

Signing off for now. I figure you've had enough toy shop talk. 
Yes. I never grew up. And I'm not sorry! :)


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Ugly Moments from the Airport

There is just one point in my travels back to Perth that stands in perfect clarity, and that is when I queued up with everyone else to get my passport stamped so I could continue on to a nice comfy hotel bed. If you have ever been through the Sydney International Airport you probably know that the line can get pretty darned long. That there are two lines that you can join. One is for people with Australian or New Zealand passports and the other which is for everyone else. Now, I've been through this airport quite a few times, and they move the line pretty quickly, but still there is sometimes a bit of a back up. Personally I don't mind standing in a queue after a flight. It helps me acclimate to being on solid ground again. 

However, others apparently have absolutely no patience. At all. And much to my disgust, I've found that the ones with no patience tend to be my fellow countrymen. Rarely have I been so stunned by things they say, or the way they behave on another country's soil. Personally, if I'm in someone else's country, I play by their rules... not mine. It's polite, and for me expected of myself. So... when they guy in front of me in the queue (which he's only been standing in for a whopping 4 minutes) sighed loudly and with an extreme show of ego stopped a security guy and demanded,"Where's the line for the Americans?" 

... I was speechless with embarrassment.

(Judging from the expression on the security guy's face, this was not the first time he's been asked that question, and ignored the idiot with a wonderful dismissal, as if he hadn't heard him.)

Dude. 

You are nothing more than another international traveler at this airport. You probably have done nothing for the country you are attempting to enter, and have no right to ask such a question. 

Get over yourself

This is why I don't like telling people where I'm from. What nationality I am, because invariably I get judged by the idiots who have gone before me. Because its never the polite Americans who get remembered... it's the ones who ask unbelievably self centered questions at the airport... the ones who go out every night and get so drunk they can't remember who they slept with, but brag about it loudly at breakfast (don't ask... it's a long story). When asked where I'm from I say "North America".... and they ask me what part of Canada I'm from. From all the crap I have seen pulled over seas by Americans, I wish I could say sometimes that I was Canadian. You should see the dumbfounded expressions I get when I tell the truth. 

"But you don't act like an American!?" they exclaim in surprise.

So, for those of you who travel over seas, have a care. You're not just traveling, you are an ambassador and an example of where you come from. How you act, what you do and say, it all leaves a mark. 
For myself I profoundly hope that I haven't done anything truly damning as I've traveled, but who knows.

But I can say this; I can see why everyone hates our guts. 
And while standing in line in Sydney International behind the epitome of the Ugly American
... i hated us too.


Monday, February 4, 2013

A Sickly Flight Back

The week before I was flying back to Sydney, I came down with a cold. Just one of those really irritating indecisive nasal passage pluggers. You know the one; where it can't decide which sinus hemisphere to blockade? Well, this one hit hard and fast, and I thought I was pretty well over it by the time the flight rolled around. To experienced flyers, I'm sure you're saying,"Oh no. You didn't..." And I say, that being a dope and feeling fairly well, yes I did get on a 16 hour flight to Sydney. When I left I was in fairly good shape... and was half dead when I got off the plane in Sydney. Apparently the cold took the opportunity to not only come back for revenge, but be worse than the original, complete with coughing, heavy congestion and a lovely fever. 

Sydney in summer is wonderful and extremely humid and warm... okay, so it's hot. For one who is running a fever, it's really uncomfortable... for one who is running a fever and having trouble breathing correctly, its hell. Which is why I spent most of my time sleeping in my room instead of wandering around and exploring like I usually do. I had every intention of going to the Justice and Police Museum and visiting the Rocks because I hadn't been to either in quite some time. By the time I got off the train at Circular Quay and got something to drink, and sat down to wait for the Neutral Bay Ferry, I was focused on staying awake. And keeping a lung from flying out while coughing. The little old lady near me, with an expression something like amused pity, reached into her shopping bag and gave me an entire roll of Butter Menthols. "Oh no, it's alright," I said. And she said,"I've got plenty." and showed me the inside of her little bag. .... um, yeah, she had plenty. Lets just say she won't be running out soon.

Here's the sad thing. As sick as I was, having to turn my face away from the breeze so I could inhale enough air; I couldn't help but notice what I thought was a cormorant at first. Although the neck was way longer than I'd ever seen on one, the markings were pretty awesome. I suspect this marks me as a hopeless bird photographer, because as I'm coughing up a lung, my hands are going for my camera and not my drink. Anyway, I got some fairly good shots of what I later (like 3 weeks later) identified as an Australian Darter, also known as Snakebirds. They have REALLY long necks. I mean.... really long.  Look them up online sometime. Its almost unnatural. Their bills are also longer, and sharp pointed at the ends, which is unlike your typical cormorant. They both like to dry out the same way though. Find a nice sunny spot, extend the wings, fluff and then sunbathe like nobody's business.


The ferry showed up about 10 minutes later and carried me across the harbor to the first ferry stop, where I lugged my suitcase up a flight of stairs, then rolled it up a hill, at which point I had to stop to catch my breath. Because there were going to be more stairs to climb and I wanted a breather. Fortunately the owner of the lodge was there and very kindly helped carry the suitcase up to my room. The door was open, as was the door to my own private little balcony... which was literally 6 or 7 feet away from a tree filled with these. Rainbow Lorikeets. The room was on the third floor, on level with the branches these guys were crawling all over, screeching and squawking and making a general ruckus. I should've just climbed into the bed and shut the door, but instead I grabbed my camera and took pictures of them while I sat at the little balcony table and wheezed. All in all, I think there were about 15 to 20 of them using the tree as their own personal jungle-gym.... not to mention shooting gallery. Or perhaps the term is 'venting'? ... sorry. awful pun. 


There were a couple of times, as they swung around in the tree that there was a large group together and I did try to get pictures of them like that, but they never stayed together long. One would always take offense to something the other was doing, or ... no idea. It was like watching a large group of highly agile toddlers with chips on their shoulders. They do sort of look like colourful hoods don't they?

Eventually the group wandered off, and I put my camera away, went inside, flipped on the brand new flat screen TV, and found to my rather grateful surprise Star Trek: The Next Generation just starting. YAY! Something familiar and mind numbing! In fact they ran another one after that, then an episode of Charmed, and then Supernatural... I fell asleep during the last I think... And woke up listening to Cheers, another TV show, which was good, because I had enough time to stumble out for dinner and then back again. I really did mostly sleep. There was one morning where I did go down to Town Hall to get a few school supplies from Kinokuniya, eat something and then head back to the lodge for more sleeping. 

I really don't remember much about getting back to Perth, except to say that I took the ferry, then the train, and it was so much faster than taking a taxi to the airport. And easier. The airport was really busy, but lots of people are running around doing stuff during summer vacation, so it's to be expected. The flight back to Perth was full... I watched a movie I think... although I couldn't tell you which one. Took a taxi from the airport to the Student Village and then basically quarantined myself until I was better. The doctor said I need not have bothered as this morphed cold probably wasn't contagious... but, I would've felt guilty if someone else got it. It was miserable. But I'm so glad I was back in the studio apartment to get well instead of in a hotel somewhere. All in all it was an experience... one I hope I don't repeat!!! I'm pretty much healthy now, and hopefully I'll stay that way. Classes start up on February 25th, which is coming up fast. Already have some of my books.


That's all for now. I might totally shock you and write another post tomorrow!

~Smirkles~

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A Rant... and then Christmas.

Yes, it's been a while since I last posted. This in part due to really not wanting to post anything, not having much to post, and ... having a profound dislike for the changes google has been making to blogger. It's cold. It's unfriendly... and starting to look like wordpress.... which I'm not fond of at all. But that's probably just me. I realize things need to change if they are to continue to compete with other companies, but personally, they are losing my interest by trying to make it "more like the other guys" stuff. I like unique. I like my iGoogle page with all the things you can customize, instead of being forcibly spoon-fed templates, or worse yet, not having an option to customize at all. I want to keep my frog widget, and the background I have for iGoogle. I will miss all of that, and also the ability to use my own mind when setting up these things. There are lots of people out there who don't mind that happening I think, but as someone who likes to think and choose, instead of going with the flow, I find this rather stifling. And a huge deterrent to having any interest in writing on this blog at all. 

Mom, will subtly mention that I've been awfully quiet blog wise, and I agree and come here... and hit new post... and my lip curls up, and I sit there staring at this astoundingly uninspiring posting screen, that's white and blank and reminds me of an old episode of Tiny Toons in which Babs Bunny has had all her personality sucked out saying,"Mayo on white... Delish." And that's exactly what this is. Bland to the point of brain dead. Google+ is totally losing me. Guys, you aren't Facebook. Don't try to be. It's like you suffered some profound jab to your collective self-confidence, and you've bent down on a knee and given in. The whole reason I started using Google for everything in the first place is because I loved being able to customize background, widgets, because it was fun, and whimsical... And it's turning into a bloody cubicle with no window view, and no decorations allowed. This is how the zombies started in Shaun of the Dead. With monotony. 


In short: I am not a happy camper.


I am willing to bet money that there are other unhappy campers in your little spot of heavenly camping park. It would behoove you to perhaps pick your imagination out of the trash heap, dust it off with apologies, and oh, I don't know..... use it for something besides making google into nothing more than a white board.

However, I am living on the other side of the planet from my family and friend, and they would probably like to read something about what happened AFTER the Thanksgiving post (and they probably weren't all that excited about the open rant to google). Unfortunately that was mostly final exams for most of the month of November. The weather was insane, gravitating wildly between sunny and warm to windy, rainy and a "I will blow your house down" mentality. It was entertaining; I can tell you that much. Then December rolled around and I set out to come home for the holidays. Which means a lot of flying, which means I stop over in Sydney for a few days before a 15 hour flight back to LA, and then another hour flight north. ... and a 2 hour drive home. Not fun really. Although I do love to visit Sydney. I stay at a little place in North Sydney, which is close to a ferry dock, so runs into the city for dinner are easy. Or a just walk up the street and get something there. Its relaxing and quiet. They had just refurbished the rooms. Apparently it's changed hands since I was last there, and the new guy is very friendly and decided to upgrade things a bit. 


Everything was new! The ash coloured bed frame was much prettier in person, and the bed was very comfortable. I don't usually fall asleep in chairs, but I sure did in that one, not once but three times. The only thing I would have changed (and did, the next time I was there) was that this room was on the ground floor, and there's a lot of people traffic past the room. One night, it was a lot of people traffic all night long. Not the greatest of nights, but I survived. On my return trip, I got a room upstairs, which would have been fine, if I hadn't been sick as a dog, and lugging a rather heavy suitcase. Really not my finest hour. The new owner helped me up the stairs with the suitcase with a lot of jokes and good humour. If anyone wants to stay here, the rates are very reasonable (or were, they might have gone up since January), and if you don't mind sharing a bathroom down the hall (all extremely clean bathrooms, mind), the place is called the Glenferrie Lodge. They've got a website you can look up.


I do try to eat a different places while I'm in Sydney, but my absolute favorite place to get dinner is at a place called Wagamama. The food is based on Japanese dishes, but I suspect that it varies in authenticity widely. The name loosely translated means 'wild child' or quite possibly 'brat'. LOL! But they do make a mean chicken soup, technically it's real Chicken Ramen. This is what it's supposed to look like. Even on hot days this really hits the spot, and its delicious. They grill the chicken and slice it before they put it in there, along with seasonal greens that are lightly cooked, menma (pickled bamboo shoots I think), and lots of noodles. Oh, green onions as well. This is a full meal. You seriously won't be able to fit anything else into your stomach after you've downed a bowl. Usually I get a lemon iced tea that they make in house, and it's excellent. There are two Wagamama locations in Sydney. One is right up the street from Circular Quay, where all the ferries dock. So it's something like a 3 minute walk up a street, and its right on the corner. The other is in the main shopping district at the Town Hall stop on the train. It's up several levels, but after you've had lunch/dinner, you can go up another level and totally explore Kinokuniya Bookstore, which basically inhabits an entire floor. Yes, I had other motives. 

Then it was time for my long flights and drives home for Christmas. It was unusually cold this year, even for the Sierra Nevada range. We broke all sorts of records, but at least I got a white Christmas!




Yes, that's snow pelting down outside. My camera decided that it wasn't going to capture the snow falling softly, but instead as a hail storm, even if that was not what was going on. It was good to be home for the holidays, even if it was freaking COLD!!!

I think I've done enough damage for today. I'll have something equally unexpected for you later, post wise. 

Smirkles. :)