Wednesday, June 30, 2004

I swear I'm not fishing for compliments!

I'm wearing my glasses today, combo of lack of sleep and very annoying contact lenses. And even though I bought trendy cool little frames I keep having this asinine saying run through my head every time I look in the mirror:

Boys don't make passes at girls wearing glasses

With my hair up in a bun today as well I certainly feel very intellectual, I also just somehow feel...well...ugly.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Help! I'm surrounded by Republicans!

I pulled into the office parking lot this morning and saw a car with the following bumper sticker: War is God's way of dealing with sin here. Hell is God's way of dealing with sin hereafter.

So let me get this straight. We're fully justified in killing you because you have sinned, and us killing you isn't a sin because God is on our side. And after we kill you, you will go to hell because you've sinned, which is why we killed you in the first place.

I'm guessing whoever this fellow employees is, they weren't one of the 50-something% of Americans who think the war in Iraq was a mistake.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Slow and painful

Getting the details out about our trip to Australia has been incredibly slow and I apologize if you're one of the few people actually interested in reading it.

In the meantime let me fill you in on our recent trip to San Francisco. Yes, I went on another vacation. The people at my office couldn't quite get over it either.

We went out to San Francisco early Sunday morning. And when I say early I mean we were on the road to the airport by 4 AM. Security at that hour was not what you'd expect. It was bogged down beyond belief. We waited in line for about 5 minutes before an airport official came and rounded everyone up for the 6 AM flights. We got quite a few nasty looks and one gentleman who snarled at us, why didn't you plan better? Sorry sir, I didn't intend to spend the previous night sleeping in the terminal.

We got out to CA and stopped off at our hotel, and then headed back out to a party with some friends. We got to meet Carolyn, and I got to meet everybody. Andy already knew some of these people.

Next day I got to do all the tourist things. We saw Union Square, took a cable car, walked to Fisherman's Wharf, looked over at Alcatraz (all the tours were full) and then we Biked the Bridge. I haven't been on a bike in 6 years, so this was quite the experience for me. It's an 8 mile ride to Sausalito, and on the way across the bridge we noticed smoke that was getting bigger and bigger. The brush fire being contained on the other side of the bridge threatening to make me bike back the 6 miles I'd already come had me close to tears. It was hard enough for me to get here, don't make me go back now! Happily the police gave us an alternate way to get down to the roads leading to Sausalito so off we went. If I hadn't known better I could have sworn that Andy had signed me up for fat camp, some of those hills getting into town were ROUGH. Ok so I walked up them pushing the bike, but by mile 7 can you blame me?

Sausalito was a cute place, we had a nice dinner then caught the ferry back and dropped off the bikes. Did we get commemorative t-shirts you ask? Hell yes we did. Along with commemorative matching sunburns requiring a stop at Walgreens on the way back to the hotel for aloe and sunblock for the next day.

Tuesday we hit the streets again, slathered in Banana Boat. We went to Ghiradelli Square which was cute but not as impressive as I thought it would be. I guess I was picturing something a little more Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-esque. Why I don't know, but when you've never been somewhere and you get taken to a square named after chocolate you expect there to be a lot of chocolate. Not to say we didn't got to the Ghiradelli shop and buy a bunch. More sea-lion viewing at Fisherman's wharf followed. Along with lovely sourdough items for lunch. Then we relaxed for a while back at the hotel and went to the main reason we came. Dinner with the web folks.

Dinner was at Crepes on Cole. The whole concept was new to me. A crepe restaurant. How cool. Same reaction I had when I found out they had fondue restaurants. The Melting Pot has been one of my favorite places ever since. Maybe there's a crepe restaurant around here somewhere? Next on to the after party at a house in The Haight (how cool do I sound? Do I sound like an official San Franciscan?) and eventually back to sleep to get up in time for our 4:30 AM pick up to go back to the airport. No we didn't luck out on the way back, 6:30 AM flight home was about as easy to get up for as our 6:15 AM flight out, which is to say, not at all.

For all the folks I met, it was lovely to meet you all. Molly I'm especially glad I finally got to meet you! I had a blast!

Friday, June 18, 2004

The Vacation Day 11 - Kangaroo Island Part 2

The next morning we had a new bus driver, Ron Buick. After he found out we were from America he told us how he was related to the founder of the Buick company. A great great great something or other. Unfortunately, he said his American relatives seem to have forgotten to send the money home.

Our first stop of the day was the Emu oil distillery, which made, you got it emu oil. Actually, the main product was eucalyptus oil which is supposed to be good as an antiseptic, cough syrup, paint remover, and millions of other uses. It also makes soap smell very nice, if a bit medicinal. While there we got cornered by the very talktive owner who had very strong opinions on American politics, Bush, and the war. He kept talking to us all the way onto the bus. Lots of fun but we started holding the tour up. Ron stepped in and told him to let us go. He finally conceded, but yelled goodbye to us as we pulled away. Ron said he was a good guy but never knew when to shut up. And he said on the side, that he was perfectly allowed to say such a thing because the man was his cousin! Lots of folks on Kangaroo Island were related, almost like the island was a giant family compound.

On to Remarkable Rocks, that were really remarkable. Naming conventions are not very original in Australia. If it was a landmark it was Great something or other or Remarkable something else. If it was a building it was So and So's building. They've got so many really cool big things that I guess after a while they became desensitized. The Rocks were very cool. Huge formations that had been carved by water and wind. We spent some fun time climbing around like we were kids on a jungle gym and taking pictures, and then we were off.

We made a stop at the tourists center for tea and Andy and I each tried a ViceCream. There was a big stink over these ice cream novelties a little before we came. The flavors were things like Kahluha and Screwdrivers, and Cranberry and Vodka. The opponents argued that these would make kids think alcohol was fun, and addict them to it at an early age. The makers argued that it wouldn't and hasn't rum raisin been a popular flavor for dedcades? So of course we had to try some. We both had a cranberry vodka, which just tasted like cranberry because vodka doesn't taste like much, epecially in an ice cream bar.

Last stop was the Sheep Dairy. It was funny watching the sheep come in to be milked. Apparently each sheep had their own assigned spot. Self-assigned according to the dairy worker. If they couldn't get in their spot they'd go back out and wait until the next batch was let in. Very stubborn animals, sheep. The cheeses were fantastic, making me wish we could have brought some home.

After the dairy it was a long drive to the ferry, then an hour ferry ride to another bus back to Adelaide, then a taxi ride to the hotel, from the previous hotel where we'd left the bags. Then collapsing on the bed to sleep.
The Vacation Day 10 - Kangaroo Island

The next morning we got up, checked out and checked in our big luggage at the hotel lobby, puddle jumpers don't take a lot of weight. Next it was on to the airport. Thankfully this was our last flight in-country before our final flight home. After flying from BWI to Charlotte to LAX to Sydney to Alice Springs to Adelaide to Kangaroo Island within the span of 2 weeks, to say we were tired of flying was a bit of an understatement.

Getting to the airport was no problem. Once at the airport, checking in was a little more hectic. We were wrangling with our itinerary up until the morning that we left, between a combination of last minute changes, and the Easter holidays in Australia so that all the offices were closed both Friday and the Monday before we left, some kinks stayed kinks. The travel agent assured me we were booked on the flight, the counter guy assured me there were seats on the flight. The problem between the two was that we had pre-paid and I was not willing to pay again for seats that were already booked for us. In the last-minuteness of it all, the travel agent in Adelaide had booked the seats for us, but hadn't put our names on them. After about 20 minutes of waiting and id checking and a lot of phone calling we got checked in and went through security.

We checked our departure time on the tickets and saw plenty of time prior to leaving so no worries there, we stopped and got some breakfast. After looking at the tickets again I noticed that the depature time in Adelaide was after the time we were scheduled to be picked up on Kangaroo Island. Double checking at the counter at the gate, he assured us the flight was on time and that it was just a mis-type from the front counter. Calling up to double check he found out that no actually the flight was late, and we would be arriving almost an hour after our scheduled pick up. 'Shoot' doesn't begin describe the word that wanted to come out of my mouth. On the pay phone next to the travel agent on Kangaroo Island to explain that our flight was now delayed and to find out if we could still be picked up at the airport in time for our tour. No worries, he'd just let the driver know and we should still be fine for the tour.

Boarding the plane was fun. We got to wait in line to be escorted out onto the tarmac onto one of the tiniest planes I've ever seen. There were a total of 24 seats, 12 on each side. When I say puddle jumper I wasn't kidding. The flight took all of 25 minutes to get up in the air, fly across the bay, and land on the island. We never got up so high I couldn't see the ground and the scenery getting there was beautiful.

Once we landed we waited for the luggage to unload and be brought over on a cart. Then we had to wait for the driver to take us into town. He also ran the rental car business in the airport and some of the people on our plane had rented vehicles. I forget the population of Kangaroo Island, you can look it up, but it was reasonably small. Everyone knew almost everyone else. There were only 3 policemen on the entire island, and most problems got dealt with by speaking to so-and-so's parents if the troublemaker was a youngster, and maybe if they weren't so young as well!

We got dropped off at our hotel, a cute old place overlooking the sea and had exactly 10 minutes to set down the bags, put on some warmer clothes, grab the cameras and get back down to the bus. Mike was our guide for the day and we were the last on the bus full of tourists. I don't know where most came from but I do know three women were from China, we had some experiences with them later in the day.

Mike was a terrific guide, he went along with us everywhere we went and first stop was a nice beach that you had to know was there to find. We got out of the bus on a rocky shore and Mike pointed us towards a pile of rocks with a passage between them. You walked the path and came out onto a beautiful sandy beach with the bluest water and waves that crashed nicely just offshore.

Next on to an animal park where Mike tormented the tour guide who was apparently very used to him. The park was home to the original Babe the pig, who is now enourmous and not so cuddly cute anymore. As we stared at Babe one of our fellow tourists leaned over the railing for a shot and managed to drop her sunglasses directly in the water trough. She just stood there looking bewildered saying "Oh no" over and over getting slightly louder each time. Mike our hero said "Ah, no worries!" and reached over the railing and stuck his entire arm in the trough and handed the glasses back to her. She somehow didn't seem inclined to put them back on immediately.

Lunch was at a farm on the island where we had our first and only taste of kangaroo. Yes I mean ate some. It was smoked and not too bad actually. It's what I imagine venison would taste like, had I ever tasted venison before.

Next was Seal Bay to see the Sea Lions. The Sea Lions were terrific. They had just gotten back from 3 days at sea fishing, and were spending their first day sleeping. They don't sleep while they're out in the water, the sharks will eat them, so after 3 days they get pretty tired. Mike spent some time talking to our nature guide and some more time kicking sand into girls shoes. Andy got him back though.

On to the Kelly Hill Caves. Caves all pretty much look like caves. There were beautiful formations, and these caves had the distinction of being one of the few in Australia that were dry.

We rode around from the caves towards Clifford's Honey Farm. Isn't funny that falling asleep on a bus is universal. It was about a 45 minute drive to see the bees and each and every tourist on that bus fell asleep. I suppose it helped that Mike put music on and didn't keep up his previous steady stream of jokes. The honey farm was cute, we actually got to watch them melting off the wax from the trays and then on to the shop for honey ice cream!

That night we got to see what I had come here to see. The Little Penguins. Tiny little things that were incredibly squawky. They nest on the shores of the island and come in from the sea at night. They were everything I expected and quite a bit noiser.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Some funny things

Andy's been after me to blog some funny things so here they are:

Funny Thing #1 - My friend's dream, proving that my dreams are not the worst there are, and again proving why I keep her as a friend (one of millions of reasons T!). No matter how bad my day is she can send me an email an cheer me up. This one had me laughing for hours.

I had the WORST dream last night! Martha Stewart was a serial killer and she was crucifying people and dislocating their arms and other gross stuff. And all she kept saying as she did it was "it's a good thing" and other creepy Martha stuff.

I finally got a knife and tried to kill her, but she wouldn't die. Then I woke up. Blecch. I used to be a fan (down with the man!), but now, heck no. She is psycho-beast!

Funny Thing #2 - One of the women in my office (I'll call her D) is leaving the company. Usually when that happens, we get a gift certificate, a card, have a group lunch, and do some minor "roasting." She's asked that we not do any of that for her, to just keep it quiet, no fuss. So a simple happy hour, invitation by word of mouth was agreed upon. Another woman in my group (call her L) came up to my desk and wanted me to send out an email. The following exchange occured:
L: We have to send out an email about D's thing
D: NO we don't!
L: Go on send it, I'll tell you who to send it to.
D: NO! Please please just honor my final request!
Me: She's making faces at you back there.
L: We don't have to listen to her threats! She won't even work here after next week!
Me: Well...
L: Do you want me to send it?
Me: *Nodding vigorously*
L: Ok *starts to leave*
D: Don't you dare! *Takes can of cake frosting and sprays a glob on her finger*
L: You don't scare me.

They both leave my desk, and by the time I get to L's desk she's hitting send on an email, D is licking her finger and there's a bright red frosting blob on L's cheek.
Me: You really did!
D: Yeah, but she wasn't any fun, she just sat there and kept typing!

Sunday, June 06, 2004

The Vacation Day 9 - Out to Adelaide

The next morning we went back into town. Mailed the postcards I'd written along the way, picked up some Aboriginal paintings for my Uncle, and had one last look around the city. By late afternoon it was time to go to the airport.

Saying goodbye to my folks wasn't as hard this time as it was when they came to visit us almost 2 years ago. For one thing I was still going to be in the same country, they could still get to me in a reasonable hurry if I really needed them to. For another, they'll be home soon, only a few more months. That's all not to say I didn't cry some when the plane took off.

The plane ride was uneventful, we slept and read and ate what they brought us. I forget if it was this plane ride or the one on the way to Alice if we were forced to watch Mona Lisa Smile. If you haven't seen it yet I can tell you, don't. It's not worth the money. The whole thing was tired and predictable, and ends exactly the way you think it will. Atleast I assume so. I only watched the first hour before ignoring the world around me entirely and reading my book. But Andy said it was pretty awful.

We arrived in Adelaide later that evening and went straight to the hotel. Unfortunately, we had to rearrange our luggage a bit since the next morning we were headed back to the airport to catch a puddle jumper to Kanagaroo Island.
The Vacation Day 8 - Uncle's Tour

The next morning we got up early-ish, cleaned up, packed up, and headed to breakfast. Yes, a nice full breakfast, toast, eggs, bacon, and baked beans. There's a comedian who makes a joke about British food, after having asked for eggs and getting them smothered in baked beans. He asks the waiter "Was there an accident in the kitchen? Perhaps somebody stumbled?" Hard not to think of that when breakfast comes out complete with baked beans. They were tasty though.

My Mom had arranged for us to go on a 4 wheel drive Bush tour, so we met our guide. A man named Uncle. He told his real name, which I promptly forgot since he said that everyone called him Uncle except the people he didn't like. So Uncle he was. We finished up brekky and hopped/climbed into the vehicle and off we went.

Uncle took us around different parts of the cattle station, stopping to show us nice views of Mt. Connor. On the way we saw a flock of wild Cockatoos which was astounding in itself since I've only ever seen them in pet stores, but also they apparently go for A$200,000 a piece. On the black market of course. We also saw a few of the livestock, several kangaroos, and a Honey Ant nest, although no Honey Ants.

As we stopped each time we'd get out and take a little walk, Uncle pointing various things out and telling us the history of the area. He showed us a ton of different plants, half of which I don't remember, almost all of which looked alike. To me anyway. He showed us what you could eat to survive and what would kill you in 2 minutes if you ate it. Again I swear they were the same plant. In other cases, it was the same plant, just the different soil type in that specific area made the thing toxic. Biggest lesson I learned is to never ever ever go out in the Bush by myself. I'd never survive.

After the tour it was back to the roadhouse for lunch and then on the road back to Alice. That night, once we were home again I got to do laundry! Seems weird to be excited about it, but a week and a half in, after been through some hot weather, getting laundry done was a thrill. You mean I don't have to smell like the zoo anymore??

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

In case there was any doubt

I cleared up a question that has long been hagning around. In my sleep the other night I told Andy that, yes indeed, "Yoda is older than you."