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.)


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!


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. :)