Monday, October 31, 2005

on my way

Off to have lunch now, then to the airport, with my 4 huge bags, one of which I think is over the weight limit, gah, I never want to have to move again so I really hope I like regional Australia. See you on the other side of the world!


Thursday, October 27, 2005

Random thoughts

Because it would be far too much to expect me to have coherent thoughts at this stage.

1. Yesterday I shipped 200lb of stuff to Australia and my room is still full. I don't understand. Where did all this stuff come from?

2. The other day there were the cutest raccoons in a tree outside the Free Speech Movement Cafe. Four of them. Awwwww.

3. Yesterday was rainy and cold so that makes me look forward more to moving Down Under. Today however is sunny and warm.

4. On my list of things I am looking forward to about Australia, I forgot to put living by myself. There are a number of things my current housemate doesn't seem to understand, including: turning off lights, designated fridge space, doors, turning off the oven.

5. I met a nice Australian (I know! who would've thought those words could go together?) bloke* last night who told me the town I'm moving to is lovely place.

6. I am feeling more or less organised with this move. Which means that I must have forgotten something hideously important.

7. Yesterday I found my plane tickets. I was relieved to find I hadn't shipped them to Australia.

8. It's been a week of goodbyes and 'lasts' (e.g. last hapkido class) and there are more to come - I think I've changed my mind! I want to stay!

9. I have both a pumpkin carving party and a Night of the Living Dead party on Saturday. Somehow they feel like appropriate ways to farewell America.

10. That's all.


* we were at The Alley, and I made him sing Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport with me.

Monday, October 24, 2005


This morning I took a bag of throwaway clothes and shoes to People's Park in Berkeley. It seemed much easier than trying to find a Goodwill or Salvation Army shop. I was a bit worried that I was essentially littering. But before I could even get back into the car (borrowed off a friend, bless), this young guy had ambled over and started going through it. The first thing he did was measure the shoes against his feet. The black, woman's shoes with heels. I just found that really sad, that it was just a matter of would they fit and keep his feet dry. Then as he kept on going through the bag he looked up and waved at me and looked so damn grateful.

I find it incomprehensible that there are so many homeless here in one of the richest nations in the world. So much for the American dream.


Friday, October 21, 2005

Silver linings

I am moving to Australia in just over a week. I am sad to be leaving Berkeley, as I've loved it here. But, the nature of a postdoc job is that it ends, and without that there is no visa and no particular reason to stay. And as much as I like it here, I don't like enough to, say, marry an American and get a job at Starbucks. I mean, it's still America, and there are plenty of other countries I'd be quite happy to live in, like, for example, Australia.

One of the things I am nervous about is that I'm moving to a small town. It's a university town, at least. It has a population of 70,000. Compare this to Ann Arbor, which according to Portuguesa Nova, and I can't be bothered looking for the post but this is the gist of it, is like choosing your favourite suburb in Chicago and then saying, that's it, you have only one suburb, there is nowhere else. Now, according to Wikipedia Ann Arbor boasts 114,024 inhabitants. That's almost twice the size of the town I'm moving to. Gulp. Yesterday I visited Santa Cruz, and decided that maybe small towns aren't so bad. Santa Cruz has a population of 54,593. But then again, it's by the ocean and close to major urban centres like San Jose.

The town I'm moving to is the biggest town for about 2 hours. That's when you hit Wagga Wagga, population 57,000. Arghhh!

For reference, here's a map from MapQuest.

I see in my near future many weekend trips to Melbourne.

Of course, there are silver linings. For a start, the secure, long-term lectureship position. Here's some things I am looking forward to about living in regional Australia:
  • Being able to afford to live in (and possibly buy!) a house with garden and off-street parking
  • Fish and chips
  • Having a cat again (I've been travelling too much for that to be practical for the last 5 years)
  • Tim Tams
  • Rush hour traffic only meaning I have to wait to cross the street on my walk home from work
  • Frequent trips to Melbourne and Sydney
  • Being closer to New Zealand and my family and friends there
  • Driving on the left
  • Having my birthday in summer again, as it should be

And despite the fact that there are many, many things I shall miss about Berkeley, there are some that I won't miss:

  • Driving and parking in Berkeley and San Francisco
  • Crazy people in downtown Berkeley (they're only entertaining for so long)
  • Stupid road rules
  • People laughing at my accent (although at least here they think it's adorable, in Australia they'll just laugh)
  • Crossing the Bay Bridge
  • Hideously expensive housing

I'm trying really hard to let these things bother me...


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

10 Reasons Why Gay Marriage is Wrong

10 Reasons Why Gay Marriage is Wrong (from craigslist best of)

01) Being gay is not natural. Real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning.

02) Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.

03) Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.

04) Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn't changed at all; women are still property, blacks still can't marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.

05) Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of Britany Spears' 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.

06) Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn't be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren't full yet, and the world needs more children.

07) Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.

08) Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That's why we have only one religion in America.

09) Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That's why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.

10) Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven't adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans.


Monday, October 17, 2005


New Zealand must indeed be very proud of Wing. I was first introduced to her by my friends in Auckland who played me "Beatles Classics by Wing" over and over. It is truly an experience. Words really cannot describe her music so I encourage you to go to her website. Her latest CD is "Wing sings AC/DC" - OMG I can't wait to hear it.

She was brought to my attention again as she was just in a Southpark episode. I didn't see it but I wish I had.


Thursday, October 13, 2005

Things that cannot be shipped to Australia

Because I don't have that much stuff - my only furniture is a wallclock - I come way under the minimum for shipping companies to ship my stuff to Oz. I had heard that UPS doesn't ship personal effects, which left only USPS (United States Postal Service, in whom I do not have much faith) and excess baggage. But it turns out UPS does in fact allow personal effects to only a handful of countries, including Australia (but not NZ, go figure).

So I'm in the process of checking prices. Interestingly, there are a number of items which may not be shipped, some which make perfect sense, others not so much.

Things that cannot be shipped to Australia:
  • human remains, firearms, live animals, ivory - all fair enough
  • smoked salmon - huh?
  • knives and daggers - fair enough too, but I still think it's unfair that my nunchucks were confiscated off me last time I passed through Melbourne
  • shoes are allowed, but must be permanently marked stating country of origin and material
  • straw - strictly prohibited
  • any goods bearing the name "ANZAC"
  • counterfeit credit cards - duh
  • novelty erasers
  • used bedding
  • and the list goes on, obviously...

Hmm, after all that it seems that UPS only does air shipping, not sea shipping. So good old post office it is then. Who have taken two months to finally start forwarding my mail from my last address...


[edit: added "to" to the title, now the Editter's comment makes no sense, jiji]

Monday, October 10, 2005

Countdown to Oz

Last I checked, I had about a month and a half before I had to even worry about starting to think about moving all the way around the world (hang on, that would be half way around the world, otherwise I'd back where I started, right?). But then, as evidenced by my lack of bloggage, I've been extremely busy, what with popping down to Colombia for a week and then having a mad week of Gay Maitre D'-ness.

I am leaving in 3 weeks exactly. Gah!


Friday, October 07, 2005

Franz Ferdinand

Yesterday was Franz Ferdinand day. I had a postdoc function (free wine and food, yay) and the Gay Maitre D' was supposed to come and meet me there or at the cafe next door 6-6.30. He never showed up. I waited until 8pm. He doesn't even have a good story - he got lost and didn't have my phone number on him (duh!).

Another friend decided to come with me though, and we had some wine left over from the function, so took it with us. We got on the BART (train) and pulled out the bottle. A scary BART police guy walked through the doors and straight towards us: "Hand it over". We felt like naughty schoolgirls. But at least he didn't chuck us off the train.

At the concert we met up with another friend (and incidentally the Gay Maitre D' had gone there and waited outside until about 15 minutes before we turned up, but we totally missed each other so he went home...) and went inside to enjoy Franz Ferdinand. Now I no longer feel bad for not going to many concerts here. FF rocked, but American crowds seriously suck. Everyone just stood there with their arms crossed. I tried to get up close and some bee-atch grabbed my bag and yanked me backwards. Nobody was moshing or even really moving much. And then when FF finished their set, everyone just turned around and left. No yelling for encores or anything.

On the BART home I was bemoaning all of this, and some spoilt rich girl started yelling at me: "well why don't you go home then, what the f*k are you doing in this country if you don't like it". OMG. I've never been heckled like that before.

Today is wine country day and I'm going to make sure the Gay Maitre D' stays close to me at all times.


Monday, October 03, 2005

Se lucio, Juanes se lucio, ta ta ta

I just got back last night from a week in Cali, Colombia. Work-wise very busy and quite successful, all good. I didn't have much time to catch up with people but managed to see most of my friends there. It was cold (like, down to 20C, and I needed a blanket at night) and rainy most of the time, but on Friday morning we got a rare view of the snow-capped Huila mountains (happens only about four times a year that you can see them from Cali).

On Thursday night I found out that Juanes was playing at the stadium on Saturday. I didn't have time on Friday to try and get a ticket, and by Saturday morning the section all my friends were in was sold out. But luckily there is a thriving black market for this sort of thing in Colombia, and I happened to get into a taxi whose driver had a friend who could get me a ticket (shhh don't tell anyone). So I paid just under double but got a good seat.

I hadn't realised what a big Juanes fan I am. I knew almost all the lyrics to the songs off his Un Dia Normal album, and some off his latest album. Everybody in the whole stadium (half of which was teenage girls) was singing / yelling along to every single song. It was great. Also, he might have to knock someone off my "7 celeb crushes" list (bu-bye Philip Schofield), he's looking very cute with his long hair. The title of this post is one of the chants that would start up every now and again when there was a break, it basically means "Juanes, you were ace".

Afterwards we went and had beer and arepa de choclo con queso (corn cake thing with cheese) at Siete Esquinas (great view over the city) and I got home around 1am and had to get up at 4am to go to the airport. It was a very fitting last night in Colombia.

And now it's Monday and I'm at work in Berkeley and the Gay Maitre D' is here - I sent him off into the city about an hour ago, I'm meeting up with him in North Beach tonight. Yay.