Saturday, May 27, 2006

rail or air?

I'm in the middle of planning my trip to Europe. I leave in less than a month! Of course, the primary purpose of my trip is to visit Chateau Mac, all that conference and work stuff is just to make the trip seem more legit. Oh, and to get partial funding from my university.

I have my flights to Europe booked, but so far nothing booked between arriving in Zurich on 26 June and leaving Zurich on 13 July. In that time I plan to go to Bern (work), Salzburg (conference) and Berlin (visiting a friend).

Now, I could fly to Salzburg and Berlin (Bern is close to Zurich so that would probably be a train anyway), or for about the same price - probably cheaper - I could buy a 3 country Eurail pass. Of course there is a big difference in travel time - 9 hours to Berlin by train vs. less than 2 hours by air.

I'm leaning towards Eurail for the following reasons:
1. It seems like less hassle, even though it probably isn't
2. I feel like I could get work done while on the train, so it wouldn't be a waste of time
3. I would get to see Swiss and Austrian and German (in short, Germanic) countryside that I may or may not have seen before, but if I have, it was when I was a child, and I don't really remember
4. I have a romantic idea of travelling by train in Europe. It just seems like the thing to do.
5. Speaking of romantic, there's always the possibility that it will turn out like in Before Sunrise, and I'll meet a cute young man on the train who will convince me to get off in Vienna. Except my route doesn't take me through Vienna. Minor detail.

So, rail or air?


Wednesday, May 24, 2006


I'm trying this new thing. What I do is, when I get undressed, instead of just throwing my clothes on the floor, I either take them to the laundry or put them away. And with clean washing, instead of just piling it on my bed and then shoving it to one side when I go to bed, I'm putting it all away. I'm not sure how long this will last. But I think it's quite an innovative concept and wanted to share.

It's frigging cold here. Yesterday there was actual ice on my car windscreen. I know this is not unusual at the end of autumn in many places, but this is AUSTRALIA for crying out loud. Sheesh.

In 1934 my grandmother journeyed to the motherland (UK) by ship. She played a lot of deck quoits and bull board. I've done a google search on bull board, but as it is a common shorthand for bulletin board, it's been spectacularly unsuccessful.

So my question is: what is bull board?


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Where the kiwi has flown - #6 Yosemite

The other day I was cycling home from work just as it was getting dark and noticed how huge and orange the sun was. Then I noticed that the sun seemed to be setting in the East. And that there was quite a spectacular sunset over the hills to the West. And that in fact that enormous, bright orange ball was the full moon rising. And it made me think of other Full Moons on the Rise.

There was a memorable one on Easter Island. And there was also Yosemite.

There were 8 of us hiking in Yosemite, camping one night. We left the French contingent in charge of food, and they bought about 1 loaf of bread per person. And big bags of chippies. And other things that don't pack down into bear canisters very well. And you can't leave anything in your car, as bears have been known to break into cars for empty chocolate wrappers.

We got the necessary permits and headed up to Upper Yosemite Falls. At one point I came across two guys and the first thing they said was "Go the Dockers!". I was wearing my AFL Fremantle Dockers sunhat. They were from Perth. Small world.

We made it to the top and left our packs in a pile while we explored. In the ten minutes we were gone, birds broke in and stole some bread and cheese. But we had plenty of bread, so it was OK.

We pitched camp and made a campfire. All food had to go in the bear canisters, and also anything smelly. For some reason, the French contingent had brought shampoo, so that had to go in. So there wasn't room for all the bread. So we sat around the campfire throwing on whole loaves of bread. In hindsight, if there had been any bears around the smell of toast probably would have attracted them. We had a long discussion about my inability to differentiate my pronunciations of 'beer' and 'bear'. Oh how we laughed.

It was a warm night, so a couple of us decided to sleep outside under the stars. The sun eventually went down and it was dark for half an hour. Then the moon came up. It was beautiful. And huge. And very, very bright. It was like sleeping under searchlights. I tried putting my head in my sleeping bag to block out the light, but then I couldn't breathe. So after a while the moon wasn't so enchanting. Finally it went down. And the sun came up.

The next morning we hiked up to Eagle Peak, where we had amazing views of most of Yosemite Valley and across to the Dome. And then down for some swimming in the pools above the falls. And then back down to the valley, which wasn't so much fun for me because my knees have decided I am old and they hurt like hell by the time I got to the bottom.

But then we saw a baby black bear, adorably rooting through the rubbish at one of the campsites in the valley, so that made it all worth it.

And then we had pizza and drove home. The End.


Where the kiwi has flown # 5 Cocora and Salento

Where the kiwi has flown # 4 USA '98

Where the kiwi has flown # 3 Lake Titicaca

Where the kiwi has flown # 2 A vignette of Cali

Where the kiwi has flown #1 Tsunami diving

Friday, May 12, 2006

Am I a hypocrite?

The latest Australian budget, announced on Tuesday (but completely eclipsed in the news by the miners being freed on the same day), does nothing for the environment, education, women or health. It does a lot for the rich (tax cuts) and not so much for the poor. So I am against it in principle. But it seems I'll actually do quite well out of the tax cuts, not because I'm rich, but because the cut-offs are changing and so I slip into a lower tax bracket. And it's not like I can do anything about it, because I'm not allowed to vote in Australia. So is it hyprocritical of me to be happy about my personal tax cuts, even though given half the chance I would vote against the government who gave them to me?


Saturday, May 06, 2006

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

(an aside - the title reminds me of a book my parents have with plays on words (Upon My Word? - or was that a show the authors were on?) - the particular story I'm thinking of ended with "absinthe makes the fart go honda")

You may have picked up, either because you know me or because I have nothing to blog about regional Australia, that I'm not particularly enamoured of the town I'm living in. I love my job and where it's taking my career, and this town certainly isn't an awful place - there's plenty of good things about it. And I know I just need to meet a few people and that has nothing to do with this town, just with being in a new town.

And I'm at a point where I'm not going to move somewhere just because. There has to be a good reason, and that reason would have to be a bloody good research or university position.

One place I've always thought I would move back to is Wellington, NZ. I was there last week (apologies to any Wellingtonian friends reading this, I saw no-one except family) for my grandmother's funeral. The past few times I've been back the weather has been shocking, which has made me think twice, but this time it was sunny and warm and the ocean and the hills felt like where I should be. I haven't lived in Wellington since 1998.

I was away in NZ for 5 days, then I had one night at home and drove up to Bathurst for a colloquium for 3 days. I never realised I wanted to drive around Mt Panorama (famous Bathurst racing circuit), but then I drove around it and it was kind of cool. It was suggested I should move to Bathurst and work at the university there. This thought made me really appreciate where I live now.

Now I'm back home again, and it is home. I'm considering buying a house, because I can always rent it out or sell it if it I leave. I'm definitely here until the end of the year - I have a theatre ticket for October. And I'll probably be here longer, but I realise my ambivalence is stopping me from really putting down roots of any kind. I would like a cat - but what if I leave? There's a number of groups I've been meaning to join but somehow never got around to it - bushwalking group, orchestra, martial arts. Actually, I did finally start taekwondo almost 2 weeks ago, but only went to one class before taking off - they must think I hated it and was lying when I said I'd definitely be back. Taekwondo isn't nearly as good as hapkido, but it's the best I can do in this town. And today I took my flute in to get it fixed (one of the keys is loose, which means I can't play any notes between C and F, which is kind of limiting). So once I get that back I can join the orchestra.

I'm reading a book called 'Belonging' (Isabel Huggan), about living in different places and finding your spiritual home - a place where you instantly feel you belong, even if you've never been there before. I'm fairly certain this town isn't my spiritual home, but that doesn't mean I can't make it my home for a while.

I think San Francisco may be my spiritual home.

Where is your spiritual home?